Growing up a Vikings fan, I always have eternal optimism to start every season. I am not sure why, as it never ends well. Hell, last year you could find me in a bar, in Milwaukee talking about how 2011 was going to be a comeback season for McNabb. We all know how well that turned out.
Looking at this season, it looks to be a rebuilding year. The “experts” know that, you know it and I do as well. This is where I lay out how we will surprise people and make the playoffs.
I realize that this will take a lot of things to come together. The Vikes have questions at a lot of positions and some young unproven talent. If you expect to convince me that I am way off on my expectations you are very wrong. I live in Packer country, with Bear country just to the south. They each think that we will be the laughing stock of the NFL this year. If they can’t get me to take off my purple glasses, no one can.
Now, the Vikings have about the perfect schedule for a young team to start the season. They will be starting at home against a re-building Jacksonville Jaguar team. Unless Gabbert goes off, I see this as a win. Next up is a game at Indianapolis, again a very winnable game. Beginning the season 2-0 sounds quite reasonable.
I believe the first challenge in the season comes in at Week 3 when the 49ers come to Minnesota. This is going to be Randy Moss’ return party. I think we can make this one close as we are both more running teams, but they are definitely a stronger, more proven team. I think this is our first loss of the year.
The next week it doesn’t get much better for our beloved purple. The Vikes travel to Detroit to square off with Matthew Stafford and Megatron. Cook defended him well last year, but I just can’t see our young secondary containing them. Starting the season 2-2 seems like a good bet.
In Week 5, the Vikings face Tennessee at home. Can Chris Johnson return to form? Who is going to be the quarterback? This team has as many questions as we do. The Vikes take this one and improve to 3-2.
Washington is up next in Week 6. As we can attest, it is never easy to stroll out a rookie QB. I think even someone as talented as RGIII is going to have his struggles. I think AP has a chip on his shoulder for this game and runs rampant. 4-2 is our record heading into Week7.
Arizona comes to the Metrodome for Week 7. I think this will be a good test to see how our secondary is coming along. We all know Fitzgerald is one of the best WR in the game and I think Michael Floyd is going to be a strong compliment to him. Who will be tossing them the ball? I think our secondary surprises some people this year and this is another win.
Week 8 is another home game against Tampa Bay. From what I have read, Vincent Jackson is having a good camp as well as the other big name signings, Carl Nicks and Eric Wright, but can the first year coaching staff bring this team together. With Home field advantage I am going to be the homer and say that the Vikes pull off a tough one against the Bucs.
That brings the Vikes to 6-2, traveling to Seattle. I think this game is all about the QB play with the Seahawks. Will Matt Flynn prove his worth? Is Tavaris still the T-Jack we all know? Will Russell Wilson surprise everyone and take the starting job? Too many questions to put much stock in this Seahawks team, but CeturyLink Field is a tough place to play. With a little luck and a strong running game, that I believe we will have, the Vikes win their 5th in a row.
I realize a 7-2 record and a 5 game win streak may be unbelievable to some, but consider that Tennessee, Washington, Arizona, Tampa and Seattle may all have young quarterbacks leading their teams. With Tennessee and Arizona are the veterans going to be any better?
That brings us to Week 10, when the Vikings schedule starts looking really rough. Detroit comes to Minneapolis to try to accomplish the unheard of, sweeping the series against the Vikings in consecutive seasons. As much as it pains me to say this, I believe they will. Still heading into the bye with a 7-3 record, after the season that I hope to forget, is pretty good.
Coming back from the bye, things don’t get much better. The Vikes travel to Soldier Field in Week 12. The Bears are improved from last season, but will Cutler still be healthy by the time this game rolls around. I believe their offensive line will be just that again this year. Since I am speculating I will assume that Cutler will still be starting at this time and the Bears pull off a victory at home.
Week 13, the Vikings travel to Lambeau Field to take on the hated rivals. This is always a tough place to play and on paper the Packers look better than they did last year. I still don’t think they will go anything like the 15-1 they did last season, but I also don’t think we can pull this one out at Lambeau.
The Vikings, sitting at 7-5, come back to the Metrodome, for the Bears in Week 14. Unlike 2 weeks ago, the Vikes now have home field advantage. I believe this and the fact that Cutler may have the fear of God in his eyes after being stalked by Allen 2 week’s prior leads to a Purple victory and they go up 8-5.
Week 15 has the Vikings traveling to St. Louis to face Sam Bradford. The Rams have many young prospects, but no one is quite sure what the team has at wide receiver. Will the young tackles give Bradford the protection he needs? I don’t think they will against our d-line.
Week 16 has the Vikings sitting at 9-5 and heading to Houston to face a powerful Texans Offense. The Texans Defense is nothing to scoff at either. I just don’t see a scenario in which the Vikings can pull this one out without an injury to one or a couple of the Texans star players and I’m going with healthy rosters here.
We finish the regular season up with the Packers. This will be an interesting matchup for sure. Will they have locked up home field advantage like so many predict? If not, will that be out of reach and they have at least the NFC North locked up? With what happened to them last year it may not even matter, especially with the Vikings hunting for a playoff berth. I don’t think it matters either. This Vikings team is young and hungry and on the back of a strong running game an improved Ponder and a Defense that doesn’t resemble anything like the shambles we had last year, the Vikings pull this out and finish the Season 10-6.
This, my fellow Daily Norseman readers, is how we get into the playoffs this year and from there it is anyone's to take. On the other hand I could be completely delusional and setting myself up for more disappointment. I guess that is what happens with these Purple colored goggles that I have on at this time of year. That and maybe too many beers, yep, I’m going to blame it on the beer…