Before the season began, I declared that the Vikings could be a 9-7 team with an outside chance at sneaking into the playoffs. This prediction was met with guffaws, snorts, and numerous questions as to what illicit substance I must be smoking. Well, I am glad to say that I was wrong.
I was wrong because the Vikings did not finish 9-7, they finished 10-6. Nor was I correct about them sneaking into the playoffs, because as it turns out, the Vikes charged into the postseason by winning their last four games, seizing the chance to control their own destiny.
Yes, I was wrong, but if being wrong is this much fun, I don’t ever want to be right.
Of course we Vikings fans have had things to grouse about this season (i.e. Christian Ponder’s struggles, Percy Harvin’s poor attitude, questionable offensive playcalling, etc.), but we have had much more to celebrate. For example:
-Harvin’s first half of the season, when he led the league in receiving, terrified opposing kick coverage units, and turned himself into an early favorite for MVP.
-Adrian Peterson having the second greatest season by a running back in NFL history a mere nine months after major knee surgery, a performance so impressive he will likely be this year’s MVP.
-A draft class that is as good if not better than any in Vikings history. To wit, Matt Kalil is already one of the best left tackles in the league, Harrison Smith is the best safety the Vikings have had since Robert Griffith, Josh Robinson has been a solid performer at cornerback, Jarious Wright has become Ponder’s top target, and Blair Walsh is hands down the best kicker in the league.
-Huge wins over San Francisco, Houston, and Green Bay, three of the best teams in the NFL.
Not bad for a team in rebuilding mode that many people expected to only win five or six games.
I will admit that a part of me considers everything from here on out to be gravy given how the Vikings obliterated expectations and provided tons of excitement this season, but make no mistake, I want to see a Vikings victory this Saturday just as badly as your average Packer fan wants to see their cholesterol drop.
Beating the hated Packers again would be the cherry on the sundae, the unexpectedly large Christmas bonus, the free bonus track on Justin Bieber’s new album. In other words, it would take something sweet and make it all that much sweeter (just kidding about the Bieber song, see: exact opposite). And the Vikings are perfectly capable of making it happen.
There is no reason to think Adrian Peterson won’t rush for around 200 yards again; he did it the first two times against the Packers. The defense should play better with Antoine Winfield available the whole game. Aaron Rodgers played about as perfect of a game a quarterback can play last week, yet the Vikings still won. And if the weather at Lambeau turns squirrely in any way, that favors the Vikings running-based attack. There are many things to be encouraged about.
In the first meeting in Green Bay, the Vikings held the Packers to 23 points and would have won the game if it weren’t for two horrible red-zone interceptions thrown by Ponder. Since then, Ponder has been much better and is showing more and more poise in the pocket. If this trend continues, then the Vikings will have a great chance to win the game and extend their surprising season. I, for one, think it will happen.
I am predicting the Vikings to win by three points, 27-24. But, if the Vikings win by ten points, then I will do the only respectable thing I can do: I will stand up, be a man, and admit that I was wrong.