JORDAN RODGERS, The Associated Press – BETHLEHEM (AP) The Minnesota Vikings’ defense, led by a defense that was so dominant it had to be ranked No. 1, is ready to win a title, head coach Mike Zimmer said Monday.
“I think we’re ready,” Zimmer said.
“We know we have to get the win against the San Francisco 49ers.
We’re going to get them, we know we’ve got to win this game.”
Minnesota (8-3) opened the season 8-0 and lost only one game to the Niners, but the defense, the team’s best since the team went 8-3 in 2008, is coming off its best performance since the 2010 season when it won nine of 10 and beat the Cowboys.
Minnesota is 4-0 this season in games against NFC teams and the 49ers (4-3), who were 5-1 last season, are coming off a win at home last season against the New Orleans Saints.
New Orleans’ defense was outstanding in a 31-10 victory Sunday night over Dallas, the first of four straight victories for the Cowboys against Minnesota.
“You know, they’ve got a lot of good players, a lot more than we do,” Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott said.
Dak Prescott, Dak Prescott and Dez Bryant celebrate a touchdown.
Dak has scored a touchdown in all five games this season.
Prescott threw for a career-high 266 yards in a 38-13 win over New Orleans on Dec. 15, when the Cowboys went 8 for 21.
Prescott is averaging a league-best 6.1 yards per attempt and has rushed for three touchdowns against Minnesota, which has allowed at least 10 points in all three of its games.
It was the first time since Dec. 8 that Minnesota allowed fewer than 100 yards against a team from the NFC South.
The Vikings have won five straight games against San Francisco.
They also won the last two meetings.
Prescott had two of the Cowboys’ three scoring drives in the third quarter, which ended when linebacker Anthony Barr intercepted Prescott’s pass at the Minnesota 20 and returned it 33 yards to the 4.
“It was a big game for us,” linebacker Anthony Hitchens said.
The Niners’ defense is led by defensive end Justin Smith, who had five sacks, three forced fumbles and a forced fumble in his first game with the team.
“They have a really good defense,” said linebacker Ahmad Brooks, who was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week.
“If you’re not going to score, that’s probably your problem.
They can score.”
The Vikings and 49ers are the only teams in the NFC to rank in the top 10 in points allowed per game.
San Francisco has allowed an average of 17.1 points per game and is 9-2 when scoring at least 300 points.
San Diego has won seven straight games at home against Minnesota and the Niner defense has held the Chargers to 31 points or fewer in three of the last four games.
The Chargers have won three straight against Minnesota but have lost two in a row at home.
The last time the teams met in the playoffs was in 2012, when San Francisco beat Minnesota by 10 points.