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Ragtag Vikings Now Carry Underdog Spirit to Next Impossible Test: The Seahawks

GREEN BAY, WI - JANUARY 03:  Teddy Bridgewater #5 of the Minnesota Vikings hands the ball off to Adrian Peterson #28 during the first quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on January 3, 2016 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
Jon Durr/Getty Images
Mike FreemanNFL National Lead WriterJanuary 4, 2016

Their quarterback was once criticized for having too-skinny knees. No, seriously, he was. And for having pointy elbows. Or wearing gloves. On and on it went.

Their running back sat out a year after beating his four-year-old son with a tree branch.

Their head coach looks like he collects passenger tickets for the Long Island Rail Road. Part of his coaching tree includes Barry Switzer and Bobby Petrino. He was passed over repeatedly for head coaching jobs.

Ann Heisenfelt/Associated Press

Their receivers are guys named Diggs and Thielen. The defense is solid but not spectacular. Across the roster, the Minnesota Vikings are young, and in many ways unspectacular.

But the Vikings hang around. They take your best shot and still stand. They take another. Haven't gone anywhere. And another...and another...and another.

The Vikings beat the Packers, 20-13, at Lambeau Field on Sunday night. It was typical Minnesota football. Not pretty but pretty enough.

They will play Seattle in Minnesota in the first round of the playoffs, and they likely will get destroyed. But maybe, somehow, someway, this team can do what it often does: Make things interesting. Be pesky. Give Russell Wilson a headache or two.

It's a ragtag group, these Vikings, with an emerging talent at quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater and an ageless Hall of Famer at running back in Adrian Peterson. Coach Mike Zimmer doesn't have much else to work with beyond that, except gumption and stubbornness.

They beat a reeling Packers team that now travels to Washington. The Packers are broken and the pieces are littered about everywhere. One of the best quarterbacks that I've ever seen in Aaron Rodgers looks dazed, and his receivers are still being single-covered into extinction.

They look dead, but they will go play the NFC East champion. That division was so bad it should have been excommunicated to the SEC.

Yes, the Packers look bad, and Rodgers looks troubled, but he is still, you know, Aaron Rodgers, and he can still, you know, transform into a beast at any moment. Especially against that team.

Jan 3, 2016; Green Bay, WI, USA;  Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) scrambles away from Minnesota Vikings defensive end Brian Robison (96) in the fourth quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Don't leave the Packers for dead just yet.

And the Vikings are anything but dead. There's something about this Minnesota team that's almost charming. This was an unlikely team to bring the franchise its first NFC North title and 11-win season since 2009. 

You'd think it would take a roster of stars to beat the Packers at Lambeau, but because of the dysfunctional nature of the Packers now, and the way the Vikings just don't give a damn, the Vikings were able to become a division titlist faster than most expected.

Bridgewater keeps getting better, Peterson keeps running hard, and Zimmer keeps coaching well. No, it's not always pretty. Yes, the Seahawks will probably crush them, but this is still impressive to watch.

Cameras were in the Vikings locker room postgame and showed Zimmer speaking to the team. "There's a much bigger prize out there, fellas," he said.

They are thinking big, these Vikings. Hey, let them dream.

 

Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.

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