EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -

The Minnesota Vikings weren't supposed to be in first place this season. Not even five games in.

But here they are, tied with Chicago and two games ahead of Green Bay in the NFC North. The victories haven't been flukes, either. Their defense has given up only three touchdowns in the last three games, two of them in the fourth quarter with a healthy lead already established. The offense has been balanced. The special teams have been superb.

The Vikings insist they've believed all along they had a good team. Defensive end Jared Allen admits he was "a little upset" by the offseason moves that discarded veterans for younger players. But he says "that's why you have to put trust" in the front office and the coaches.