Chris Tomasson / St. Paul Pioneer Press
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — The Kendricks brothers are in for a month of friendly banter over the rest of the NFL season. Eric Kendricks is a linebacker for the Vikings; Mychal Kendricks is a linebacker for the Philadelphia Eagles. Their teams are each 10-2 and tied for the top playoff seed in the NFC, although Minnesota holds the tiebreaker, for now. "We've actually been talking a little crap all year," Eric Kendricks said Monday, Dec. 4.
ATLANTA — The Vikings got some extra motivation before Sunday's game from hall of fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton. Tarkenton, who lives in Atlanta, addressed the Vikings at the team hotel Saturday night, Dec. 2. And he was on hand for Minnesota's 14-9 victory over the Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
MINNEAPOLIS—In Mike Zimmer's first three seasons as coach, the Minnesota Vikings often won games despite their offense. Zimmer built a top-notch defense in a hurry, but the offense remained behind. Minnesota was 27th in the NFL in total offense in 2014, 28th in 2015 and 28th last season. Well, the other side of the ball finally has caught up. The Vikings are the NFL's only team to rank in the top five in total offense (5th) and total defense (5th). That kind of balance has been a key reason in Minnesota being 9-2 and tied for the second-best record in the NFL.
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Vikings running back Jerick McKinnon will be thinking this weekend about the middle school coach who told him he was too small to play football and would get hurt. He'll remember college recruiters who bypassed him because of his size. McKinnon, who grew up outside of Atlanta in Cobb County, will return home for Sunday, Dec. 3's noon kickoff against the Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Case Keenum's celebrity status is reaching new heights even if his hold on the Vikings' starting quarterback job remains up in the air. A day after leading Minnesota to a 30-23 victory at Detroit on Thanksgiving Day, Keenum attended a Timberwolves game and received a standing ovation from the Target Center crowd when introduced. Appreciative fans didn't seem to care that earlier that day Vikings coach Mike Zimmer wouldn't guarantee anything beyond Keenum starting Sunday's game at Atlanta.
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn.—Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes has contained Julio Jones, one of the NFL's top receivers, twice. Can he do it a third time? In 54 games since the start of the 2014 season, the Atlanta Falcons star has averaged 107 yards receiving against teams other than the Vikings. With Rhodes covering him during games against Minnesota in 2014 and '15, Jones averaged 69 yards. The two meet again Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, and Rhodes will be ready.
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Given enough time — say, a season — there is life after a collapse. Look first at the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons started 5-0 in 2015 before falling apart and finishing 8-8. The next season they made it to the Super Bowl. The Vikings began last season 5-0 before also finishing 8-8. This season, they are 9-2 and three games up in the NFC North with the second-best record in the conference.
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Vikings quarterback Case Keenum has been one of the NFL's biggest bargains this season. That should change in 2018. Keenum, making just $2 million, is 7-2 as a starter as Minnesota has rolled to a 9-2 mark. With Keenum an impending free agent, one salary-cap analyst estimates he could make more than seven times that amount next season.
DETROIT — After Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen reached 1,000 receiving yards for the season on Thursday, Nov. 23, he mostly shrugged it off. Fellow receiver Stefon Diggs didn't. Many thought Diggs would be the one to break the Vikings' drought without a 1,000-yard receiver since 2009, the longest such stretch in the NFL. But injuries have hampered Diggs, last season and this one.
MINNEAPOLIS — For years, Emmanuel Lamur had heard stories about relatives in Cuba he never had met. The Vikings linebacker was born in West Palm Beach, Fla., in 1989, five years after his father, Jean Albert Lamur, moved to the United States from his native Haiti. Jean was born in 1955, and was 1½ years old when his mother left for Cuba. "My mother was not married, and she was 16 when she had me," Jean Lamur said. "I went to live with an aunt and an uncle, and she went with my grandfather to Cuba (in 1957) because he was looking to find work and he was taking care of her.