The Strib link <a href="http://www.startribune.com/sports/#" target="new">Reusse vs. Souhan</a> demonstrates a pretty clear contempt for both the Vikings and Vikings fans. While I can commiserate with being tired of listening to people whine and moan every time the Vikings lose a game, or come up short of the Lombardi, both Reusse and Souhan sound like anything but Vikings fans themselves. Can the Strib find some pro-Viking reporters for the NFL team, and let these two has-beens go back to covering amateur sports?
Also in the Strib, Judd and Chip sound like they've read the DN, summarized what they found here, and regurgitated it. Nice summary, but maybe they could have added some new insights, what with their press access to key Viking personnel? What, snow-bound this week? Or just lazy? I suppose that would be ok, not everyone reads the DN so Judd and Chip are doing something of a service to the <em>incognoscenti</em>. But for both them to pick the Bears this weekend puts them into the camp that their colleagues, Reusse and Sohan, are whining about. Is there really a lot of value in two of them standing on the same cynical opinion, or would it have actually offered something for the readership to think about if they had taken opposing positions? I know, shocking notion, but there really is another way of looking at tomorrow's game.
First the negative stuff, because it's there, hanging over the Viking's collective heads like a nasty storm cloud threatening to break. Only... it hasn't broken yet.
Away game, in cold weather, the O-line is having issues, and the Vikings just lost a game. EJ is out for the season but, as much as we like and appreciate him, there are competent backups. Hmmn. That's it. That's about all they have going against them.
So yes, the Vikings lost what should have been a cake-walk against Carolina. We've been over all the reasons for the loss, but that doesn't change the fact that they blew a game which they should have iced with their eyes closed. Some folks think it means the end of the season, the Vikings have folded their cards, it's done.
1) Not every team has a Julius Peppers who's playing what might be the best game of his life.
2) Not every team can count on the Vikings playing very poorly at almost every position. I mean, really. If this were the 'norm', the Vikings wouldn't be 11-3 right now.
3) Speaking of which... 11-3. If you've gotten so jaded by Viking wins that it doesn't mean anything to you any more, look at it again with fresh eyes. 11-3. This is the NFL. 11-3 means something. It means a LOT. You don't dismiss an 11-3 team, ever, no matter what team you are.
4) Collectively, the Vikings have something to prove. They've stumbled badly, but these are highly skilled, highly talented, highly trained players. And they're proud men, one and all. I could point to the 1940 NFL Championship game but that probably doesn't mean a lot to most of you. Instead I'll just say this; don't give your opponent something to prove, he just might rise to the occasion.
5) The Bears have struggled all season long, that's not about to change now that they're beat up and tired.
6) Other than EJ, the Vikings are fairly healthy right now. Final IR report won't be out til just before the game, but it's looking pretty good.
7) Man for man, the Vikings are simply better players.
I can see where the Vikings might turn in an average performance, particularly if Favre struggles AND Childress fails to man up and replace him... but if Jackson steps in, that entire situation changes. The Vikings are far from helpless or strapped for good players at almost every position.
The bottom line is just this; counting the Vikings out, especially in this game, is cynical and defeatist at best. At worst it's just stupid. Regardless of the pessimism of the paid writers, the Vikings are still well positioned to compete their sweep of the NFC North, to definitively stamp their title as NFC North Champions (second consecutive season).
If the Vikings stand up and stand firm together, there are exactly 5 games ahead of them that they need to win. No more. No less. The game against the Bears is the beginning and they need to hunker down, focus, and nail it. I believe they can.