By beating the Paper Tigers last week, the Minnesota Vikings have clinched a playoff spot and stand at 11-2 on the year. Naturally, there is a lot of chatter around Vikings' sites about playoff games, potential playoff opponents, playoff tickets, and playoff miscellanea. There is, however, a football game on Sunday, it means a lot to our Vikings, and they are in for a test on the road against the Carolina Panthers.
In the last game the Vikings played in Charlotte, back in 2005, Panthers' receiver Steve Smith went off for over 200 yards and the Panthers whipped the Vikings. While we have thankfully forgotten most of the details of that game, in another way that we unfortunately can't forget, that was Daunte Culpepper's last game in a Vikings' uniform. This game will be a chance to finally set things right and replace that old, bitter taste in Carolina with the sweet taste of BBQ victory. The scratching, clawing Carolina team led by DeAngelo Williams is hungry, but the Vikings are 3-0 against cat-totem teams (Lions, Bengals) this year, and have their eyes on improving that mark.
Adrian Peterson, 269 carries, 1200 yards, 14 TD, 36 receptions, 319 yards.
Here are 12 reasons to get the win on Sunday Night Football at "The Vault," Bank of America Stadium, as financed by the generosity of the US taxpayer.
- Get the 12th win of the season.
- Clinch the championship of the NFC North, and repeat as division champions for the first time since 1977 and 1978, the Purple People Eater Era.
- Move one step closer to gaining a bye in the first round of the playoffs, staying in the hunt for the #1 seed in the NFC.
- Establish a winning record in December. The Vikings are currently 1-1 in December this year.
- Re-establish a winning record in non-divisional road games this year. The Vikings started off 2-0 in such games against the Browns and Rams. Since then, the Vikings have gone 0-2 in such games, with losses to the Steelers and Cardinals. With a record of only 2-2 in non-divisional road games, this is an opportunity to go above .500 in such games again this season. This will be the last regular season non-divisional road game for the Vikings this year. It is important to win non-divisional road games. For example, if the Vikings were to make the Super Bowl, that would be a non-divisional road game.
- Improve the Vikings' road record. Currently the Vikings are 4-2 on the road this season. Getting the fifth road win of the year would guarantee a winning record on the road this regular season. The Panthers have already coughed up a couple of hairballs at home, including a loss to the underwhelming Buffalo Bills at The Vault. The Panthers fear another one coming on.
- Beat a Panthers team that handed the Cardinals a crushing loss, picking off Kurt Warner five times. A Vikings' victory over the Panthers would also guarantee a better overall record than the Cardinals, which could impact playoff seeding and home field advantage in any Cardinals-Vikings playoff game.
- Get the victory on Sunday Night Football and in front of a national television audience. Vindicate the team from last time on SNF. Establish a winning record in nationally-televised games this year. Earlier, the Vikings beat the Packers on Monday Night Football, but then the Cardinals SNF game happened. Right now the Vikings are only a lukewarm .500 in those national audience night games.
- Avenge the 38-13 loss to Carolina 2005, the last time the Vikings played in Charlotte. Steve Smith caught 11 balls for 201 yards and 1 touchdown in that game. It was also Daunte Culpepper's last game in a Minnesota Vikings uniform. If the Vikings win on Sunday evening, that will help bury that heartbreaking game forever in the past.
- Defeat a team that is playing out of sheer desperation to defend its lair. Carolina coach John Fox is on track to be fired at the end of this season. Jake Delhomme could be cut, despite being owed over $10 million in guaranteed money by the Panthers organization. This franchise is in total disarray and chaos. The Panthers players know this. Every Panther will be playing--desperately--to keep their jobs. They would love nothing more to put the Vikings as a feather in their hat. The Vikings will be going into the eye of the hurricane. The Panthers will have their last stand set up and ready to go. Purple throws, not purple prose, can secure the win for Minnesota.
- Ruin the day for the Panthers, including Matt Moore and DeAngelo Williams. The talented, big-armed young quarterback will come in looking for the upset. Wouldn't Matt Moore just love to make the Vikings look like fools? DeAngelo Williams would naturally love to outplay Adrian Peterson and show him up on a national stage. Meanwhile, Kevin Williams, Pat Williams, Jared Allen, and the whole defense will be trying to upend the Panthers offense. The Williams-Allen Gang and the Outlaws have an opportunity to lay down the law and establish dominance on Sunday night.
- Beat a Panthers team with good players including Steve Smith, DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, Matt Moore, Muhsin Muhammad, Dwayne Jarrett, Jeff Otah, Julius Peppers, Jon Beason, and Chris Gamble.