5 incredible stats about the Vikings and Falcons heading into Week 6

(Photo by Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports) Harrison Smith
(Photo by Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports) Harrison Smith /
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Minnesota Vikings
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Oddly, Minnesota’s defense has been terrific on third downs in 2020

Somehow, someway — Minnesota’s defense is the best team in the NFL on third downs this season (27.8 percent). It’s a return to familiarity for a Mike Zimmer-led defense that was tops in the metric during both 2017 and 2018.

Last season, the Vikings uncharacteristically dipped to 19th in the business in defensive third-down percentage. For now, Minnesota’s defense, in this regard, is back.

In most other defensive categories, though, Zimmer’s group is leaky. The first two games of 2020 were rotten for the Vikings in time of possession and the defense could not get off the field. And then when the offense did see some time with the football, they were not overly impressive. It was a nasty combo, and that’s why Minnesota bumbled to an 0-2 record out of the gate.

But in this narrow defensive metric, the Vikings have building blocks. Or it can be perceived as a return to normalcy based on one’s perspective.

The next step is for Minnesota to stop opponents on first, second, and fourth downs, which is a big deal.