The 2018 Super Bowl will be held in Minnesota’s U.S. Bank Stadium this year and nobody seems to be more excited for it than the die hard Minnesota Vikings fans. The Vikings are one of the favorites to make it to the Super Bowl this year. Should the Vikings make it in the final round of two, this year would be different than every other Super Bowl in the National Football League’s (NFL) history.
No team has ever played the Super Bowl in their home stadium. The Minnesota faithful have wide receiver Stefon Diggs’ miraculous 61-yard touchdown at the end of the Vikings’ divisional playoff game against the New Orleans Saints to thank for that opportunity. Had Diggs not pulled a rabbit out of the discombobulated New Orleans defensive unit’s hat at the end of regulation, the Vikings would be sitting at home, stewing over how they blew a 17-0 halftime lead at home to the Saints.
As it is, the Vikings, starting with their NFC Championship matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles, have a chance to do something that has never been done before. To start, the Vikings rank No. 1 in total defense (275 yards per game) in the NFL and are also at the top of the league in points allowed per game. The Vikings rank No. 2 in rushing and pass defense as well. This is one lean and mean Purple eating machine.
The defense is coordinated by coordinator George Edwards and has one of the better defensive minds in football in head coach Mike Zimmer. The Vikings’ defensive prowess is backed by the fact that they have two All-Pro players in their secondary; versatile safety Harrison Smith and shutdown corner Xavier Rhodes. That’s not to mention that Minnesota’s defense is engulfed with three players that have been selected to the NFL Pro Bowl. Defensive end Everson Griffen, linebacker Anthony Barr and Rhodes form that trio.
These players have helped anchor a defense that is not only the leader in yards and points allowed but also in third down percentage as well. Their defense has also had pretty good performances this season in games against teams with explosive offenses like the Saints, Rams, and Falcons. Back in November, The Vikings shut down the Rams with a 24-7 stuffing. They performed likewise against the Falcons, which got clipped by the Saints, coming away 14-9 winners against Atlanta.
The offense of the Vikings has also played really well and improved dramatically from last season ranking eleventh in total offense this year, despite their numerous injuries to key players. And former starting quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater, is still out of the lineup. The Vikings lost backup quarterback Sam Bradford to an injury in the season opener. On top of those injuries, Minnesota also lost their up and coming rookie running back Dalvin Cook several games later to a torn ACL.
Despite all that, the Vikings offense has still played well this season with offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur doing a great job coaching up backup quarterback Case Keenum to play at a high level this season. Other players have also stepped up like running backs Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon. Wide receiver Adam Thielen, who was fifth in receiving yards in the league this season, has also stepped up his play this season.
Overall, the Vikings mentality has been to keep slugging away on offense, keep the mistakes and turnovers to a minimum, and rely on their fantastic defense. If the Vikings can get enough plays out of Keenum and their offense, while playing lights out defense, Minnesota could pull off an exciting first: A Super Bowl appearance in their home stadium, something that has never been done before.
Akash Caveney currently attends Cal State Long Beach University as a full-time student.