FOXBORO, Mass — After falling one game short of the Super Bowl last season, the Minnesota Vikings rolling into Gillette Stadium this Sunday with a 6-4-1 record may seem a little underwhelming.
In addition to playing in the NFC North, one of the best conference in the NFL despite some underachieving teams, the Vikings’ out of conference schedule has included tilts with the Los Angeles Rams, New Orleans Saints, Philadelphia Eagles and pre-Jimmy Garoppolo injury San Francisco 49ers.
Their losses came against the Rams (38-31), Saints (30-20), Chicago Bears (25-20) and Buffalo Bills (27-6), but save for one game, the Vikings either have won or been in every game they played.
During his Wednesday press conference, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick praised the Vikings’ mental toughness and ability to respond after some tough games this season.
“They’re a mentally tough team, they have a mentally tough coach,” Belichick said. “This is a good football team and they’ve been a good football team and they keep getting better. We’ve seen the progress in this team over the last several years, it’s been consistent, and they’ve made some changes, but it looks like the changes were for the better and it improved their team. But yeah they’re mentally tough play in and play out, game in and game out. They dealt with some injuries and they’ve kept just right on rolling.
“I have a lot of respect for their coaching staff, the job that (general manager) Rick Spielman’s done building the team,” Belichick continued. “The job that(head coach) Mike (Zimmer) does and their entire staff, (special teams coach Mike) Priefer, (offensive coordinator John) DeFilippo, they’re good every week. We’ve seen them on film plenty of times this year in crossover games with our division teams who play the NFC North and the other NFC North teams, Green Bay, Detroit, Chicago, so we’ve seen plenty of crossover film on these guys. They’re great to watch. … They’re tough.”
The Vikings currently own the fifth seed in the NFC, while the Patriots sit at No. 2 in the AFC. So even though it’s a clash between contending teams, suffice to say it isn’t anything Minnesota hasn’t already dealt with this campaign.
Point being, expect the Patriots to have their hands full.
Thumbnail photo via Harrison Barden/USA TODAY Sports Images