For even the most optimistic of fans, the 2009 season of the Minnesota Vikings has been a pleasant surprise.
Looking more dominant every week, the Vikings have been unable to grab the national attention and top position in power rankings they feel they deserve because of two undefeated teams in front of them.
The Vikings have a single check in their loss column, but does that make them worthy of our respect?
This year, Minnesota is a land of Norwegians, lutefisk, and potent offensive attacks. After enduring the never-ending Brett Favre saga during the off-season, Vikings' fans have been rewarded with one of the most complete offensive games in the league.
This combination of talented receivers is what is giving Favre an MVP-caliber season. To think otherwise would be foolish. Like the guy or not, it is plainly evident that Favre is one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history.
The fact that he is having his best statistical season at age 40 should be an indicator of the kind of team he has been provided with. Favre is not without his fair share of tall, athletic, and fast receivers and running backs.
Claiming that Minnesota hasn't established itself as a premier team is ridiculous.
While their defense is abnormally average this season, the Vikings are enjoying of the best offensive seasons in many years. In fact, outside of 1998 this may be the least offensively challenged teams for the past few decades.
For a team as offensively debilitated as the Vikings usually are, this year has been a culture shock to fans, to say the least.
Those who claim that Minnesota shouldn't be considered an elite team usually reference the fact that the Viking's opponents have a combined winning percentage of just .592. This point is quite valid and could have some merit, but should do nothing to prove the opposite.
Yes, the Vikings have had their way with some astonishingly weak teams this season. Minnesota has played the Browns, Rams, Bears, Seahawks, and Lions a combined six times. But does having six of your ten wins come against poor teams somehow take away your elite status?
I should hope not.
The Vikings didn't choose their opponents. There is nothing they can do about being scheduled to play inferior teams. The fact that they are steam-rolling them should not have as much impact on how they are ranked as some people are giving it.
Sure, as a Vikings' fan I would like for some high-profile victories. If Minnesota had beaten the Steelers, Cardinals, and Chargers instead of the Browns, Seahawks, and Lions, the Vikings would certainly be receiving more notoriety than they are now.
But in the end, though, a win is a win, no matter how small.
Minnesota has dropped just one game all season—a close one to the Steelers—and to consider them much inferior to either the Colts or Saints would be a mistake.
Defense aside, the Vikings are very capable of matching either the Colts or Saints across the board. All three teams have high-quality quarterbacks, a few play-making receivers, and a tight end able to haul in a few passes.
The Vikings, though, are capable of defeating either team in any venue. Although I would take both Drew Brees and Peyton Manning over Favre, the 40-year old has proven himself to be very able to come up big in crucial situations.
Favre hasn't been without help. Sidney Rice and Bernard Berrian, both above-average wide receivers, have been complemented this year with the emergence of rookie Percy Harvin, the early favorite to win offensive Rookie of the Year.
Tight end Visanthe Shiancoe and running back Chester Taylor are also great at catching passes from Favre.
Oh, and there is a running back named Adrian Peterson who's apparently pretty good, as well.
The offensive line isn't as good as it's been in recent years, but it has proven perfectly capable of protecting Favre. The veteran quarterback has been sacked just 22 times this year while never fumbling the ball and throwing just three interceptions.
As a testement to how talented the offense of Minnesota is, consider that Tarvaris Jackson, in six games this year, has a passer rating of 124, has thrown 159 yards in 10 completions, and hasn't been picked off.
The Minnesota Vikings are a very talented team, and one of the best in the NFC. They will have their challenges, no doubt, but deserve to be considered one of the elite teams in the NFL.