The Vikings begin their second-half schedule on Sunday in Landover, Md., when they travel to FedEx Field to take on the Washington Redskins. They’ll still be 11 days shy of Thanksgiving, which is when coach Mike Zimmer says he typically looks at statistics for the first time in a season. And even then, Zimmer likely won’t be too concerned with the individual statistical accomplishments a couple of his players have a chance to reach.
Fortunately, that’s what you have us for! As the Vikings make the turn for the second half of the season, we’ll take a minute to stop and consider the remarkable years two players — Everson Griffen and Adam Thielen — are putting together.
Griffen, who has 10 sacks through the first half of the season, needs 12 sacks in the final eight games to match Jared Allen’s team record, and 12 1/2 to tie Michael Strahan’s single-season league record. He can start on Sunday against a battered Redskins offensive line (former Viking T.J. Clemmings started for the team at left tackle on Sunday). If Griffen records a sack in that game, he’ll run his streak of consecutive games with a sack to nine, matching Bruce Smith and Kevin Greene for the second-longest streaks in NFL history. Two more games and Griffen can tie former Broncos linebacker Simon Fletcher for the longest streak in league history, with a chance to break the record on Thanksgiving Day in Detroit.
Thielen isn’t on track to match or break any NFL records, but he has a chance to put himself in a select group if he keeps up his production from the first half of the year. He leads the Vikings and is 10th in the NFL with 48 receptions, and is sixth in the league with 627 receiving yards. If Thielen remains on those paces, he could become just the 10th undrafted player since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger to surpass 90 catches in a season, and only the sixth to eclipse 1,200 yards. What’s more, he’d be only the second undrafted player from a Division II school to reach those thresholds, joining former Broncos receiver (and Missouri Southern product) Rod Smith. Thielen has been a model of consistency, recording at least five catches in every game this season, so he’s got a good chance to end the year with some impressive numbers as he tries to follow Smith’s path to a Pro Bowl.
Some other Vikings first-half statistics of note: Harrison Smith’s three interceptions lead the team and have him tied for third in the NFL, behind Titans safety Kevin Byard and Bills safety Micah Hyde. And as a team, the Vikings have allowed just 135 points, putting them on pace for the third-fewest in team history since the NFL went to a 16-game season in 1978. The Vikings allowed 233 points in 1988, and 249 in 1992.