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Vikings' Alan Williams: 'We can be a top-10 defense'

When we drew up defensive power rankings earlier this month, a lot of thought went into the top of the list.

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The way we see it, the Houston Texans, San Francisco 49ers and two of the usual suspects -- the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers -- round out the league's best.

On the flip side, the New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Indianapolis Colts and Minnesota Vikings are destined for the basement in 2012.

Someone in Minnesota doesn't agree.

"We can be a top-10 defense," Vikings defensive coordinator Alan Williams told The Star Tribune. "We just have to make sure as a coaching staff, we're in tune to making sure guys are detailed about carrying out their assignments."

Taking over for Fred Pagac in the offseason, Williams inherited a mess. The Vikings allowed opposing quarterbacks to tally an outrageous 107.6 passer rating last season. They finished 11th against the run, but allowed 358.2 yards per game, ranking 21th in the NFL.

Williams says last year's problems boiled down to "guys paying attention to detail," but where's the talent? Outside of fire-starter Jared Allen, this defense lacks stars. It's not unusual to see a new coordinator use this kind of proud chatter to instill confidence in his players (see: Rob Ryan, 2011 Dallas Cowboys), but let's take a look at the work on the field.

Minnesota has given up 364.5 yards per game through two preseason affairs, ranking 28th in the league. The opener against the 49ers was troubling. The Vikings allowed nearly 200 yards on the ground in the first half alone. Alex Smith didn't light it up, but he did chew up the clock and generate points in the 17-6 win. Minnesota allowed just 68 yards against Buffalo last week, but we're sticking with our predictions of doom -- for now.

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.

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