The Vikings are 7-1 and currently in good position in the NFC North. The Packers and Bears are both 4-4, and the Lions are 1-7. It has been a remarkable first half of a season. Here are some thoughts.
- There are way too many Vikings fans who think the Vikings have this season in the bag. It is way too early to start building a new trophy case.
Brett Favre has made a big difference on the Vikings, but he is not the only star on this team. It can be frustrating seeing the media concentrating so much on Favre when the rest of team has played pretty well, too. Adrian Peterson is just one example of a Viking who has played well. On the other hand, the exaggerated focus on Favre is OK, because maybe that takes a little pressure off the rest of the guys. If the Vikings keep winning, this will take care of itself.
- After yesterday, the Vikings no longer have any wins against teams with winning records. The Packers and Ravens are 4-4. The 49ers are 3-5. There are teams with winning records coming up, including the Cardinals (5-3), Bengals (6-2), and Giants (5-4). If the Vikings reach the postseason, any playoff game will be against a winning team.
- The Lions are improved this year. They took a 17-0 lead against the Seahawks. Stafford has shown potential, but has made rookie mistakes. He threw 5 interceptions as the Seahawks came from behind to beat the Lions. This Lions team this year always plays hard. The Vikings need to bring their A-game to win on Sunday. The Vikings need to figure out how to put lesser teams away. You start out by jumping on the opponent and taking a multiple touchdown lead. Then you add to the lead. You don't let up. You force turnovers. Then you send in the backup quarterback for mop-up duty, and with him as quarterback, the offense adds to the lead. The defense doesn't play much soft-Cover-2 or prevent. The defense just keeps playing tough. That's how you put lesser teams away.
- While 7-1 is a nice record at the halfway point, that doesn't get anyone a Lombardi trophy or Super Bowl rings. The Vikings aren't even the #1 seed in the NFC. Nothing, not the division championship, not a playoff appearance, and not even a winning record on the regular season are guaranteed to the Vikings.
- The Vikings are capable of beating any team in the NFL on any field. The Vikings went to Pittsburgh and proved they had the ability to win if they had made a few more plays. The Saints have looked beatable, but no Saints' opponent has played 60 minutes of good football against them yet. The Eagles' defense can be picked apart. The Broncos went toe-to-toe with the Cowboys and beat them physically. The Giants have lots of issues. The Cardinals were beaten by the Carolina Panthers. The Patriots almost fell to the Buffalo Bills. The Colts have looked beatable against the 49ers and the Texans. The Broncos are fading. The Vikings are capable of beating any team in the NFL. This year represents an opportunity for the 53 guys on the roster and the coaching staff.
- I don't care if Jared Allen or Adrian Peterson or Brett Favre or anyone else sets an indvidiual record or wins an award like MVP or Rookie of the Year or goes to the Pro Bowl or anything. What determines the winner in football is the team. Did the team win? That is the question. If the Vikings play well as a team, they will win. Everything else is details.
- There is a lot of football left to be played this year. Isn't that great?
- One of the good things that has happened this year is that the Vikings are having fun out there. Yes, it's a serious game. You've got to take it seriously. That said, it's football. It is supposed to be fun. It's great to see the Vikings having fun while playing with heart and going for the win no matter what the score is, no matter what the situation is.
- In the words of Herm Edwards, "You don't play just to play the game. You play the game to win the game."