“This is the best team I’ve ever been a part of, from top to bottom,” Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen told ESPN after the Vikings beat the Browns in London on Sunday.
Griffen was drafted in 2010, one year after the last really good Vikings team lost to the eventual Super Bowl champions Saints in the NFC title game.
The Vikings hit their bye this week with a record of 6-2, just one game behind the Eagles (7-1) and just clear of the Rams (5-2), Saints (5-2) and Seahawks (5-2).
Essentially, the Vikings are among a handful of teams that look like real contenders in the NFC, which is super rare for a Super Bowl host city team, as Declan Goff explains here.
Everything is trending in the right direction, but what are the common themes among the last 10 Super Bowl winners?
A really great defense can make up for an average offense
Minnesota is currently fourth in the league in scoring defense, allowing an average of 16.9 points a game. Only four of the last 10 Super Bowl champs had a scoring defense ranked outside the top 10, but none since the 2011 Giants.
Offensively, the Vikings are 14th in the league at 22.4 points a game. Since 2007, only the 2015 Broncos and 2008 Steelers won the Super Bowl while averaging fewer than 23 points.
Don't have a great offense? It's fine if the defense is one of the two or three best in the NFL.
Don't have a great defense? Not a problem if the offense can hum like '09 Saints.
Luckily, the Vikings are pretty balanced in these categories this season.
Being good against the run matters more than being good against the pass
Believe it or not, six of the last 10 Super Bowl champs had a passing defense ranked outside the top 10. Four had a rushing defense ranked outside the top 10.
Minnesota is currently fourth in rushing defense (81.4 yards a game) and seventh against the pass (200.8 yards a game), which is nearly identical to the per game averages of the 2015 Broncos.
Champions usually rack up the sacks
Another common skill for most of the last 10 champs is the ability to sack the quarterback. Only four title teams since '07 have finished outside the top 10 in sacks. Minnesota currently ranks sixth in the NFL with 24 sacks.
Interestingly, the '09 Saints finished 22nd in sacks but third in interceptions. Call it a coincidence, but they sealed wins in the NFC title game and Super Bowl with late-game interceptions against Brett Favre and Peyton Manning.
The only teams since 2007 to win the title while ranking in the bottom half of the league in interceptions are the 2012 Ravens and 2007 Giants.
The Vikings currently rank tied 12th in interceptions, but they're only two away from being in the top five.
Broncos put to the give/take theory to bed
Give/take is important on a game-to-game basis, but the 2015 Broncos finished -4 in the turnover battle and still won the Super Bowl because their defense was able to overcome almost any offensive miscue.
Finishing strong is a myth
The Ravens lost four of five to end the 2012 regular and still won the Super Bowl.
The 2011 Giants started 6-2, lost five of the next six and then rattled off six straight wins to en route to the Super Bowl.
The 2010 Packers won the Super Bowl as the last wild card in the NFC.
Home-field advantage plays a big part
If the playoffs started today, the Vikings would be the No. 2 seed in the NFC. That's huge considering eight of the last 10 champions have played at least one home game in the playoffs, and six of those eight had a first-round bye.
It helps to have a Hall of Fame quarterback
Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Russell Wilson, Joe Flacco, Eli Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger are the last 10 Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks. Of those, only Flacco - and maybe Wilson - don't appear to be locks to make it to Canton.
The Vikings have Keenum, Bradford and Bridgewater...