Dateline January 4, 2009: Beyonce's "Single Ladies" was the #1 song in the country and inspiring countless weirdos to post videos impersonating her outfit and dance. "Marley and Me" was the top dog at the box office. The Timberwolves had actually won their second of what would be five games in a row the previous day. (No really, I'm serious--the Timberwolves used to actually win consecutive games every now and then! They even finished that season with a whopping 24 wins. Twenty-four! Oh the good ol' days...)
They haven't lost at the Metrodome since.
Yes, that 28-year-old stadium with the fiberglass fabric roof self-supported by air pressure (thanks Wikipedia!) was quite friendly to the Vikings last year. Nine different opponents entered the over-named Mall of America Field at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome last season, and none of them left victorious. The Vikings will look to keep the Metrodome Magic going tomorrow after stumbling out of the gate in New Orleans last week.
Make no doubt about it--the Fins are going to be a tough out this week. As Dolphins blogger Matty I detailed earlier this week in our Five Questions feature, Miami has a lot of versatile players on the defensive side of the ball. The Purple only managed nine points on a Saints defense that's nowhere near as solid as Miami's D in my opinion; obviously the offense (and coaching staff) will have to perform much better.
The Miami offense has its weapons as well. The 1-2 punch of Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams are tough to stop. The Wildcat always throws a wrench in the defensive game planning. And their new wideout Brandon Marshall--to put it simply, he's real big and real good at catching footballs thrown to his zip code.
But while the Dolphins are a formidable foe, it's still 100% the Vikings' game to lose. Why? A large part of it has to do with the fact the game is being held at the stadium that cost $68 million to build in 1982--just 5.2% of what it cost to build Cowboys Stadium. (But hey, at least we have a new paint job on those purple beams!) The Viking faithful will be in full throat for the home opener all day--I'm thinking that young, still-developing quarterback Chad Henne won't like the atmosphere too much.
Speaking of Henne, he's going to have to do a lot more than he's comfortable with on Sunday. The Fins are a run-first team under coach Tony Sparano--problem is, pretty much nobody runs on the Minnesota Vikings. If the Vikes get an early lead, I'm not sure Henne can lead them back through the air.
I see the Vikings taking that early lead, keeping the Miami running game contained, and unleashing Jared Allen and the rest of the front seven to chase Henne all over the field. Don't forget about secret weapon Greg Camarillo--with another week of reps with Brett Favre under his belt and intimate knowledge of the Miami defense, he could have a very productive day while we wait to see if the Vikings go after Vincent Jackson.
Finally, I also think Visanthe Shiancoe has a big game on Sunday. Why, you ask? Because according to the latest edition of Citypages, it's SHIANCOE TIME!
Prediction: Vikings 27, Dolphins 17
Now let's get to my Week 2 NFL picks (home team in CAPS):
FALCONS over Cardinals: Nobody's really thrilled about the 1-0 Cards after they eked by the Rams in their opener. Derek Anderson better get the ball to Larry Fitzgerald more before he starts getting death threats from millions of disgruntled fantasy owners (including myself).
COWBOYS over Bears: Because karma's a bitch. That Chicago win over Detroit last week was 100% fraudulent.
Eagles over LIONS: Michael Vick is starting, and he definitely has his legs back in 2010. He's running like a greyhound out there! (What? Poor choice of words?)
PACKERS over Bills: My suicide pool pick for Week 2. I can't see any way that this game isn't a complete ass kicking by Green Bay. The Packers are just a lot better than Buffalo. (Have I jinxed them enough yet?)
PANTHERS over Buccaneers: I would stay away from this game as a bettor because there's so much uncertainty about how Matt Moore is doing. I would stay away from this game as an NFL fan because it's the Panthers and Bucs.
Seahawks over BRONCOS: Seattle looked pretty darn good last week against the Niners. I like them against Denver as well--Matt Hasselbeck's inevitable injury shouldn't come for a few more weeks yet.
RAIDERS over Rams: No. Just...no.
Patriots over JETS: Hey New York, I have a new cheer for you: P-A-N-I-C PANIC PANIC PANIC!!
CHARGERS over Jaguars: Don't read too much into San Diego's Week 1 dud. It was pouring rain, they played really late in Kansas City (giving the fans about eleven hours to get good and rowdy), and they lost on three big plays while basically shutting down the Chefs the rest of the game. But if the Chargers do take another dump against the Jags, I'm pretty excited to watch Philip Rivers throw another tantrum that would embarrass most nine-year-olds.
TEXANS over Redskins: Two 1-0 teams that upset mighty division rivals to surprise everyone in Week 1. Speaking of surprising everyone, you have my permission to punch the guy that drafted Arian Foster in your fantasy league. Smug bastard.
COLTS over Giants: THE OREO DOUBLE STUFF RACING LEAGUE BOWL! Here's a fun way to end up in the hospital: take a shot every time the camera shows Archie Manning in his box on Sunday night.
Saints over 49ERS: Mike Singletary thanked Pete Carroll and the Seahawks for kicking their butts last week. Now the Super Bowl champs are coming to town. Ouch. Singletary must be channeling his inner "Animal House": THANK YOU SIR MAY I HAVE ANOTHER!
Last week: 10-6