INDIANAPOLIS – Defense is the answer to a question that really shouldn't have a sufficient answer.
The Vikings are 7-6.
They are still in the NFC playoff race despite their starting left tackle (Matt Kalil), running back (Adrian Peterson) and quarterback (Teddy Bridgewater) playing just 4 of 39 games this season.
Three of the most important positions on the field for any team has seen their starters log 193 of 2,565 snaps (7.5 percent).
Yet, here the Vikings are---a game above .500 in mid-December.
The NFL's top scoring defense is a good place to start.
"Easily the most complete defense we've played to date," Dwayne Allen said this week of the Vikings defense.
A casual fan of the NFL will not recognize gobs of headline names on that side of the ball in Minnesota.
But defensive-minded head coach Mike Zimmer has the Vikings a stalwart when opponents get the ball.
The Vikings lead the league in points allowed (17.3 per game) and rank 2nd in the NFL in total defense.
They get after the quarterback at the fourth highest clip in the NFL.
"It's a complicated defense that is trying to trick you, but they also play very sound fundamentally," rookie lineman Joe Haeg says of the Vikings.
Playing a 4-3 scheme, Zimmer's defense isn't a unit that has to blitz all day. They routinely get home without bringing too much pressure, a recipe for consistent defensive success.
Earlier this week, Chuck Pagano went down the list of strengths that Minnesota brings defensively.
-They excel on early downs by loading the box (60 percent of their third-downs are at least 3rd-and-7).
-When they do bring pressure, the looks are "exotic" and will challenge a very banged up Indy offensive line.
-Pagano knows the 35.0 sacks Minnesota has, but the number of hits on the quarterback this season from the Vikings really has his attention.
"Front to back, they are solid everywhere," Pagano says.
"There is no weakness as far as any of us can tell."