Suddenly the Vikings are as hot as firecrackers. After winning their fifth straight 30-14 over the Oakland Raiders, the Vikings have taken over sole possession of first place in the NFC North. The 7-2 Vikings lead the Green Bay Packers by one full game after the Packers dropped their third straight 18-16 to Detroit.
It was Detroit’s first win in Wisconsin vs. the Packers since 1991. Remember, the Vikings have already swept Detroit and beaten Chicago for a 3-0 record within the Division. The 6-3 Packers are 1-1 in the NFC North, so Sunday’s showdown here at TCF Stadium is huge and critical. Division games are like two games in one.
It’s no secret the Vikings are playing well. Sunday’s win was maybe the best, most complete game in all phases — offense, defense and special teams. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater returned and started and threw a first-quarter touchdown.
Cordarrelle Patterson gave the Vikings the spark they needed when he raced 93 yards with a kick return to put the Vikings back on top 20-14. They had led 13-0 only to allow the Raiders to grab the momentum and a 14-13 lead.
Adrian Peterson has raised his game. He is certainly now in the MVP conversation with New England’s Tom Brady, Carolina’s Cam Newton and Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton. All three quarterbacks have led their teams to unbeaten 9-0 starts.
“I am warming up each week. I see my game getting to a different level,” Peterson said. “It’s exciting to see each week. I feel my body kind of evolving to the player. I really envision myself being this season. I’m just going to stay focused and take care of my body as the season progresses.”
Peterson ran for 203 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. He has run for 100 yards or more in four straight games and now leads the NFL in rushing yards with 961.
Peterson had his first 200-yard game since 2013. Remember, he missed 15 games in 2014. He is back in a big way. He tied Hall-of-Famer O.J. Simpson with his career-sixth 200-yard game for most in NFL history.
Peterson now has 47 career 100-yard games and 26 games where he has run for at least 125 yards. Mike Zimmer’s confidence in supporting Peterson through last year’s family situation speaks volumes.
The Vikings were 7-9 in 2014 with Peterson playing just one game. They have already matched last year’s win total with seven games left. For the Vikings, the sky’s the limit.
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.