Look Ma, a Real Opponent!

Who would have been a tougher opponent for the Vikings: the Detroit Lions or Dallas Desire? (What!? That was just a lame excuse to run a Lingerie Football League photo? How dare you!)

The Only Battle Between Undefeated Teams in the NFL This Week.

Pretty cool, right? It's odd for that to happen as early as Week 3, but I'm extremely pleased that the Vikings are part of it.

Of course, it's not like the Vikes played upper-echelon opponents thus far. No offense to Browns or Lions fans, but I think the Dallas Desire and San Diego Seduction may have been a bigger threat to beat the Vikings in the first two weeks.

(On second thought, yes Detroit and Cleveland, that offense was pretty much meant. Your teams are awful. And don't worry, I realize the Vikings were trailing at halftime each game. But they probably would have been trailing to the Desire and Seduction too because of slipping on all that drool. Just run with the analogy and be glad I included links and the accompanying gratuitous picture to the right, OK?)

The Vikings will get their first real test of the season during Sunday's home opener against the surprising, up-and-coming San Francisco 49ers. The Niners come to Minneapolis after two impressive defeats of NFC West opponents. This accomplishment is made more impressive due to the fact that neither team was the automatic W known as the St. Louis Rams.

This game is an exciting matchup because San Fran and Minnesota have so many similarities this year. Besides the obvious 2-0 records, both teams have strong defenses that make you fight for every yard. Both starting quarterbacks are familiar with playing in the Metrodome. (Yes Vikings fans, Shaun Hill used to play for us.) Both head coaches are scary to look at for extended periods of time, for completely different reasons. Both teams drafted wide receivers in the first round that are making a big impact on the field. Ooohh that's right, only Percy Harvin has two TDs already. Michael Crabtree hasn't even suited up for the Niners. My bad 49er fans, must have slipped my mind.

Last but not least, both teams have top-tier running backs that can score from anywhere on the field. Check out Gonzo's column for exactly why Frank Gore is such a threat. As for Adrian Peterson, it's blatantly obvious he's the best player in the league. But for how long?

Drew Magary's column in Deadspin this week struck way too close to home. He makes a very valid point with AP: it's amazing to watch him constantly pummel defenders halfway into the turf, but how long can he keep this up? This week is a good example. Is there any doubt that Peterson's (hopefully) minor back injury was caused when he violently speared a Detroit defender to the ground near the sideline last week? It's scary to admit, but what makes AP so great may be the same thing that could drastically shorten his career.

Wow, sorry about that trip to Negative Town on a Friday. Soo...umm...enough of that! AP is still playing this week and the Vikings are undefeated!. Woo hoo!

(More analysis and my weekly picks after the jump.)

In last week's article, I was awfully wary of the Lions. This week, I'm a little more confident about a Vikings win although our opponent is exponentially better than the first two. I'll concede that every time Gore touches the ball this week, it will make me as nervous as the guys on "To Catch a Predator" when Chris Hansen shows up. And I admit that I the only thing that would surprise me about Patrick Willis would be if his tackle total wasn't in double digits by the end of the day. Seriously, I don't think I'd bat an eyelash if Willis ends up with 32 tackles, a fumble recovery, two picks, and rescues an infant from a burning house on Sunday. He's that good.

But like I said, these are two very similar teams, and I feel that the Vikings still do most things a little better. Although his throws have been shorter than Gary Coleman so far this year, Brett Favre still trumps Hill any day. Gore is a beast, but he's not a hexagon-skinned alien sent to Earth to inflict pain on defensive backs. Willis is one of the best defenders in the NFL right now, but E.J. Henderson, Antoine Winfield, Jared Allen, and Kevin Williams ain't exactly Lions or Browns B-teamers. And as I mentioned before, our rookie wide receiver is actually playing--unless this mysterious illness is something serious. I think it's going to be close and extremely physical on both sides of the ball. But as long as the Vikings decide to show up in the first half this week and don't make too many mistakes, I think we'll head into Favregeddon with Green Bay next week at 3-0.

Prediction: Vikings 24, 49ers 20

Onto the rest of my Week 3 picks (home team in CAPS):

RAVENS over Browns: If you know of anyone picking the Browns to win this game, I think you might want to make a phone call to a certain A&E show to see if they can get some help.

Titans over JETS: The Jets are still way too busy patting each other on the butt for their win over New England last week. And remember how I correctly predicted that the desperate Bears would beat the Steelers last week? (Thanks for making me look smart Jeff Reed!) The Titans are about 50 times more desperate for a win this week.

Giants over BUCCANEERS: My old roommate the Bucs fan calls Byron Leftwich "The Sundial" because his throwing motion moves about as fast as a shadow on a sundial. I don't care how many garbage time fantasy points he picked up last week--that's not a good sign.

Packers over RAMS: God I hope I get this pick wrong, even though it's my Eliminator pick. I think I'd taunt every Packer fan I know for 72 hours straight.

EAGLES over Chiefs: You could start an actual corn cob instead of Kevin Kolb and I'd still take Philly here. KC is straight up gross.

PATRIOTS over Falcons: Tough pick here, especially when the Falcons have looked great and the Sports Guy is already worried that the Patriots' sky is falling. But the last time New England lost back-to-back games was November 2006. I'll take my chances with the Pats for at least one more week.

TEXANS over Jaguars:

Dear Jacksonville,

Thank you for being a much more viable candidate for relocation to LA due to your crappy play and lackluster attendance. We sincerely appreciate it.

With love,

Vikings fans

Redskins over LIONS: The Lions are a hot pick to finally get their first win in 20 games this weekend, and I'll admit the Redskins are playing just bad enough for it to happen. But I have a weird rule with picking NFL games: if a team has lost its last 19 games, don't pick them to win until they actually do so.

Saints over BILLS: Another big week or two from Drew Brees and they can probably start engraving the MVP trophy whenever they want.

Bears over SEAHAWKS: Seattle is always a tough place to play, but it's not nearly as tough when Seneca Wallace is starting. Side note: how many fantasy owners that took Matt Forte in the top five will be frantically looking for a trade if he doesn't produce again this week against a team that just allowed 37 points to Frank Gore?

Steelers over BENGALS: Good news for Cincy fans: your team had the biggest upset of Week 2 and Chad Ochocinco got to do his bought-and-paid-for Lambeau Leap. Bad news for Cincy fans: the defending champs are coming to town reeeeeaally pissed off that Jeff Reed they let a game slip away to the Bears last week.

Broncos over RAIDERS: I had some analysis for this pick, but I fell asleep thinking about the game. So let me just say this to Kyle Orton: [Stares menacingly into the camera, WWE style] Throw the ball to Eddie Royal more this week. A LOT more. Or else. A certain defending champion of a fantasy league and your life may depend on it. OOOHH YEEEAHH BROTHER!

CHARGERS over Dolphins: Tough losses for both teams last week due to ill-timed running plays. But my money's still on Miami for "Biggest Crash to Earth Season", so I'm going with the Whale's Vagina on this one.

Colts over CARDINALS: I couldn't possibly bet against Peyton Manning on a nationally televised game these days. I also couldn't possibly bet the under on this game.

COWBOYS over Panthers: I was going to look up the NFL record for most total interceptions thrown in a game, but won't this game break it regardless of what that record is? And why do the Colts and Cowboys get to play two nationally televised games in a row? And why did the Colts have to play on the road going coast to coast on a short week but the Cowboys get two home games? Is it because Jerry Jones bought those time slots with the money his Death Star, er, new stadium is going to make? Should I just go ahead and end this column before I ask another question?

Last week: 10-6

Season: 24-8

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