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Introduction to the Minnesota Vikings

Adrian Peterson is arguably the best player in the world right now

As the sayings goes "I would rather be lucky than good". If this had applied to the Minnesota Vikings more throughout their 52 year history they would have been one of the most successful franchises in football. Alas professional sport is a cruel mistress and for every team that goes home triumphant another team goes home dejected. Unfortunately for Vikings fans, their team seems to suffer the latter more than the former. With only one championship in 1969, before the NFL was created, the Vikings have been close numerous times since then. They have had talented squads and record breaking seasons but have never been able to capture the big one during the modern era. Whether it was the dominant "Purple People Eaters" in the 1970's who made the Super Bowl three times and never won, a record breaking offense in 1998 who scored the most points in a season on route to a 15-1 regular season but fell one game short of the Super Bowl, or the high powered 2009 team that were one unnecessary Brett Favre interception away from the Super Bowl. One could argue being in the position to be successful is reward enough, but others would say being so close so many times and coming up empty handed is even more painful than losing every game. The current incarnation of the Minnesota Vikings, however, will be looking to put this tortuous past behind them and be the first Vikings team to capture a championship in the NFL age. If they were hoping it was going to be this season they haven't gotten off to the best of starts, being 0-3 before playing at Wembley later today against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Vikings were a surprise playoff team last year, upsetting many teams along the way riding the form of a near historic season from running back Adrian Peterson, and many expected them to build on that success this year. So far that remains to be seen but you can never count the Vikings out as they have bounced back from adversity more often than most.

The Most Valuable Player

If you are looking for one player who could kick start your season, no matter which team he was on, many would pick running back Adrian Peterson. Last year's Most Valuable Player is a truly special talent, who last year rushed for 2,097 yards only 8 months after tearing his MCL and ACL. A truly remarkable feat and only 9 yards shy of the all-time single season record and more than 24 teams cumulative totals from the same year. Peterson, or "All Day" as he is nicknamed, is a fully rounded running back, able to not only run with the power and the strength to break tackles and gain yards after the hit, but also have the speed and agility to make cuts on a dime and outrun defensive backs for long scores. He is without a doubt one of the most entertaining players you could watch on any given Sunday. Off to a slow start by his standards this year, Peterson will need to replicate last season's form to help dig the Vikings out this hole but he has proven that he is up to the task. The Minnesota offense without a doubt runs through their star running back but there is talent around him to help balance opposing defenses. Offseason acquisition Greg Jennings is a Super Bowl winning receiver and an expert route runner plus deep ball threat. He is a great addition to a relatively weak Vikings receiver core. His offensive savvy in being able to read a defense will no doubt help another one of his new teammates, quarterback Christian Ponder. Third year quarterback Ponder hasn't exactly exploded onto the NFL scene with relatively poor stats across the board in all major categories and has a tendency to make easily correctable mistakes that just can't be made at this  high level of play. The Vikings will need Ponder to improve his decision making and take his game to the next level should they have any chance of making the playoffs again this year.

Some Colorful Characters

Though Peterson has been making a lot of noise on the offensive side of the ball, which is not to say the Vikings defense isn't without its own star players. One such player is four time All Pro defensive end Jared Allen. Allen, a colorful personality, is known as one of the best players at his position in the league. With an explosive first step, this wily veteran has led the league in sacks twice, first in 2007 but more recently in 2011 where he came within a half sack of tying the all-time record. A smart and technically proficient player, his pass rushing abilities opens up the Minnesota defense to makes plays as he constantly requires a double team. Despite this he is still productive and causes quarterbacks and offensive linemen a lot of trouble on game day. That being said Allen is not alone on the defensive side of the ball. Outside linebacker Chad Greenway is an elite presence for a stout Vikings defense. Though Allen is undoubtedly the more well-known player, Greenway has been producing at the highest level and has led the team in tackles for the last five years. Greenway is a workhorse on the Vikings defense and never gives up easy on a play, chasing down the ball to ensuring the stop. Look for Greenway to continue his elite form into this season to help aid his team in their comeback.

A Rough Start

It won be easy for this Minnesota franchise to recover.  They have one of the toughest schedules in the NFL this year and their schedule only gets more difficult as the season progresses. Fourth year head coach Leslie Frazier will have his work cut out for him keeping this Vikings team above 0.500 and will be relying on his play makers like Peterson and Allen to play to their maximum potential. Things are never easy for the Vikings though playing in the NFC North where every team has playoff aspirations of their own. The Chicago Bears are off to a hot start having already beaten the Vikings in Illinois managing to go ahead in the dying seconds of the game to beat the Vikings by a point. The Detroit Lions have one of the most dangerous offenses in the league and proved it having already beaten the Vikings in their home stadium. Things don't get easier as the Super Bowl aspirants Green Bay Packers round out the division and are the Vikings biggest historical rivals. History has shown that you must win within your division if your team has any chance of making the post season so stopping the rot against division foes will be a high priority for this Vikings teams. Every game matters, however, and the Vikings will be looking to kick start their season and gather momentum in London against a similarly pressured Pittsburgh Steelers team.

Head Coach: Leslie Frazier

Super Bowl Appearances:  None

Division: NFC North

Biggest Rivalries: Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions

Jersey to buy: #28 RB Adrian Peterson, #69 DE Jared Allen, #15 WR Greg Jennings, #52 OLB Chad Greenway, #7 QB Christian Ponder