5. 1988 Vikings
Notable Key Players:
- Wade Wilson
- Anthony Carter
- Hassan Jones
- Steve Jordan
- Gary Zimmerman
- Randall McDaniel
The 1988 Vikings did not have incredibly sexy individual names, but this team was cohesive on both sides of the ball.
Led by head coach Jerry Burns, the 1988 unit was a regular-season wonder statistically. Minnesota ranked fourth in the NFL in both offense and defense, making it one of the most balanced teams in franchise history.
It was also one of the very few times in Vikings history that it utilized a complete running-back-by-committee system. The leading rusher, Darrin Nelson, finished the season with 380 rushing yards, which sounds lousy. But four Minnesota players had at least 250 rushing yards in 1988 including Nelson, Allen Rice, Alfred Anderson, and Rick Fenney. It’s okay if you’re saying “who?” to yourself right now.
Yet, it worked. The running backs scored frequently for the Vikings, quarterback Wade Wilson was a Pro Bowler, and wideout Anthony Carter had the best season of his life with 1,225 receiving yards (he also received a Pro Bowl nod).
Minnesota’s 1988 team did win a wild-card contest against the Los Angeles Rams. But the Vikings were then flogged by the San Francisco 49ers the following week, thus ending the once-promising season.