The Minnesota Vikings are gaining some steam as a sleeper pick in the NFC, entering the 2021 NFL season as arguably one of the league's most underrated teams and a potential NFC North favorite regardless of what happens to Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay. According to at least one prominent player on the roster, however, they should also be in the championship conversation. Joining Jim Rich on Fox 9 in Minneapolis on Monday, four-time Pro Bowl linebacker Anthony Barr said the Vikings "have a Super Bowl-winning team" this year.
Asked why he decided to take a pay cut to stay in Minnesota rather than test free agency this offseason, Barr explained to Rich that the Vikings' 2021 ceiling was a big factor: "I didn't wanna leave Minnesota with that taste in my mouth," he said, alluding to a 2020 injury and the team's 7-9 finish. "I really wanted to hopefully be a part of a winning championship team. And I really do believe that we have a Super Bowl-winning team this year."
"Obviously there's a lot of steps to get to that point," he continued, "and I've been through good seasons and bad seasons with this team. But every time we've had a tough year, we've always bounced back."
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Barr's not wrong about that. Since coach Mike Zimmer took over in 2014, the same year Minnesota drafted Barr ninth overall out of UCLA, the Vikings have yet to make or miss the playoffs in consecutive seasons. They've made the postseason three times but never returned the following year. If the trend continues, the Vikings would be due to return to the playoffs this year, after missing the tournament in 2020. Their best run under Zimmer came in 2017, when Barr was in the midst of four straight Pro Bowl appearances and the Vikings advanced to the NFC Championship Game against the Eagles.
Minnesota is currently tied for 10th among oddsmakers' favorites to win the Super Bowl this year. The Vikings haven't reached the big game since 1976, when they fell to the Raiders in Super Bowl XI.