4. 2017 Minnesota Vikings
Notable Key Players:
Anthony Barr, Everson Griffen, Danielle Hunter, Linval Joseph, Eric Kendricks, Xavier Rhodes, Harrison Smith
Team Record: 13-3
Had this defense group not been abused in the NFC Championship, it probably would have tied for third on this list.
The 2017 Vikings allowed just 15.8 points per game during the regular season. This was the best mark in the NFL and it barely beat out the Jacksonville Jaguars, who popped up for about 10 minutes in 2017 to be a formidable football team. Minnesota allowed 276 yards per game during this season, which was also the best in the league.
The NFL began tracking third-down conversion percentage in 1991 and through 2017, the Vikings defensive third down ratio of 25.2 percent in this season was the best in 27 years. As in, tops in recorded history.
Unfortunately, the 2019 New England Patriots would later outrank Minnesota’s 2017 defense in this metric two seasons later.
As for takeaways, this Vikings team was strangely modest. It only forced 19 turnovers and that was the 23rd-most in the NFL. Conventional wisdom suggests the mediocrity in this parameter was counterbalanced by the team’s world-beater third-down prowess.
Regrettably for the purple and gold, this historically-dominant defense was exposed in the 2017 NFC Championship against the Philadelphia Eagles, which resulted in a lost opportunity to host a home Super Bowl game. Yes, a home Super Bowl game.