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Football Outsiders/Fox Sports DL Rankings

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The fun continues with the folks from Football Outsiders as they've started on the defensive side of the ball, posting their defensive line rankings on Fox Sports.  Here's what they had to say about the Vikings:

6. Minnesota (18)

The 2006 Vikings run defense was the best in the NFL since the 2000 Ravens, thanks in large part to an outstanding defensive line. Pat and Kevin Williams (no relation) are absolutely impossible to handle in the middle of the line. A motivated Pat Williams is arguably the best run defender in football. The only reason the Vikings do not rank first is that the defensive line struggled mightily to get to the quarterback. Starting defensive end Kenechi Udeze plays the run well but recorded zero sacks on the season. The Vikings overall were second to last in Adjusted Sack Rate. The good news -- and the reason they are still a top 10 unit -- is that according to our game-charting project, they ranked eighth in hurries per charted pass play. Look for some of those hurries to turn into sacks this season.

The #6 rating puts us second in the NFC behind. . .Carolina.  Not Chicago.  Carolina.

I like the optimism this shows.  I know that Udeze didn't do anything in the sack department last year, but there were plenty of plays where he was thisclose to the QB before he got the ball off.  It seemed like our guys were forcing a lot of hurries last season, and this seems to reflect that.  Now that Udeze is a full year recovered from his knee surgery, I do indeed expect some of those hurries to turn into sacks in '07.

The other 3 NFC teams were ranked 9th (Chicago), 15th (Green Bay), and. . .well, I'm not exactly sure where the Lions are ranked, since I can't seem to find the second half of the article anyplace, but it's not in the Top 16.  I can confirm that much.