This is Antoine Winfield. Right now he is a Viking CB and we should be very, very happy about that. After his NFL career concludes, he will be conducting motivational speaking sessions. (Well, at least he should be, apparently.)
Also known as: Is ANYONE Left In An NFL Survivor Pool?
Seriously, I know I'm out. Picked the Steelers over the Raiders. Continuing that trend started by the Redskins beating the Saints, continued by the Cardinals beating... everyone... and now with our own Beloved Purple destroying the mighty 49ers, this has to be hands down the most unpredictable start to any NFL season I think I've ever watched.
There's always the surprise, sure: the great team fallen, the lowly team risen. I always laugh at Week One power rankings and playoff predictions because they are always wrong in some catastrophic way. But I can't think of the last time I've seen this many major upsets in the span of the first three weeks.
Join me after the Leap of Faith, wherein I really break this down- and of course, what this means for the Vikings and their fanbase.
No, seriously, this is a Leap of Faith. I just re-read this and my G-d am I being ridiculously optimistic. Oh well... screw it, let's dream while we've still got magical pixie dust still sprinkled all over us from the last game, shall we?
To put just how bizarre this has all been into perspective, if the playoffs were to start today (and yes, I know: we're three games in, with two teams not even having played the third yet- this is just to illustrate my point) the following teams would be in:
AFC: New York Jets, Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans, San Diego Chargers, Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals. Every... other... AFC Team... is 1-2. Except for the Browns, who are 0-3. That means that the Patriots are out (with TWO others from their division in), the Steelers are out, the Broncos are out. For the NFC: Dallas Cowboys, Atlanta Falcons, Arizona Cardinals, ...drum roll please... THE MINNESOTA VIKINGS, the San Francisco 49ers, and in all likelihood the Chicago Bears- unless the Packers beat the Seahawks... which we all know can't ever happen. EVER. ;-) That means that the Giants would be out, the Eagles would be out, the 49ers are Wild Cards, and probably the Packers are out too (because again they're totes gonna lose tonight).
Now I'll tell you right now that those are absolutely not going to stand. Sorry, I just refuse to buy that two teams are going to the playoffs from the AFC East and that the Patriots are not amongst them. But in this ridiculous season that's how the deck's been shuffled thus far, and it's pretty damn exciting if you ask me.
At the beginning of this season, you could not have truly convinced me that we would beat the 49ers. Hell, I even wrote a piece about how that just wasn't realistic. You could have convinced me that the Colts would have beaten us- that's because I suffer from crippling VFPD (Viking Fan Pessimism Disorder), a very real, and very tragic disease.
Now... could you have possibly convinced me that we were going to lose to the Colts, and then beat the 49ers? Lord, throw some rotten eggs and tomatoes at me because I'm a horrible Vikings fan: I would have laughed you out of the room.
Now who else would have predicted the Cardinals would be 3-0 (after some very decent competition, mind you) with Kevin Kolb at relief duty, and that the Saints, with a very healthy Drew Brees (well, sans the ankle boo-boo) would be 0-3?
We're at an unprecedented level of season craziness here ladies and gents (using the last term there loosely for some of you). If you're somehow still alive in suicide pick pools, G-d bless you, and please don't pull the rest of your hair out trying to make it to the end.
So what DOES this mean for us, for our team? That we've got a shot at REALLY upsetting some predictions here. That's right, I said it. Am I overreacting to just one win? I could be accused of that but honestly, I'm basing that on the entire NFL and what's been happening. I don't know if it's because Saturn has taken some bizarre orbital rotation and the stars are unaligned, I don't know if it's because of that thing Professor Loki said would happen when I gave him that magical glowing box, but I honestly think this season is showing us some windows of opportunity.
Super Bowl? Hmmm... no, I'm not saying that. Tempting, yes, but no. Playoffs? A bit of a stretch, but let's review...
Vikings, having lost to the Colts and beaten the Jaguars and the 49ers (WOOOO!):
@ Detroit- W. Tennessee- W. @ Washington- W. Arizona- L. Tampa Bay- W*. @ Seattle- L. Detroit- W. @ Chicago- L. @ Green Bay- L. Chicago- W. @ St. Louis- W. @ Houston- W**. Green Bay- L.
*For G-d's sake, beat the freakin' Bucs. I hate them. With a passion. And we have NEVER beaten them since they left the division.
**Do what now??? you might be saying. Well, honestly, I'm thinking they're resting their starters at that point and we've got a shot. Honestly, who else in that division is pushing them? Unless they're on some 14 win streak and are ‘going for the gold', I really have a hard time believing we're facing their starters for more than a half at maximum.
Anyhoo, does that scenario seem all that unpredictable right now? That would leave us at 10-6. Let's review the rest of the division.
Packers, having lost to the 49ers (WHO WE TOTALLY BEAT YAHHHH) and beaten the Bears:
@Seattle- L*. New Orleans- W**. @Indianapolis- W. @Houston- L. @St. Louis- W. Jacksonville- W. Arizona- L. @Detroit- L***. @NY Giants- L. Minnesota- W. Detroit- W. @Chicago- W. Tennessee- W. @Minnesota- W.
*Seriously, I'm sticking with this. That stadium is rough to play in and they are a pretty decent team that's highly underrated.
**...dammit. I'd almost root for the Saints here, but not only can I not (I'll just root for a 0-0 tie), there's just no way they win.
***Honestly, I smell a trap game here. 8 weeks away. I have a good nose.
Again... does the above seem all that hard to believe? Granted, I might be a few hours away from being wrong wrong wrong already, but let's just pretend for these precious few minutes anyways. That would also leave them at 10-6, and with the head-to-head against us, they'd have the tiebreaker. Of course, if we could somehow magically pull a win out against them, just once... but nah, the Vikings could never beat a team that much better than them, right?
For Chicago and the Flying Cutler-faces, who join us atop the division at 2-1 (but technically still below us because of their loss to the Packers), having beaten the Colts (dammit), the St. Louis Rams (oooooh, scary), and having lost to the Packers (semi-annual ‘meteor bowl'):
@Dallas- L. @Jacksonville- W. Detroit- W. Carolina- L. @Tennessee- W. Houston- L. @San Francisco*- L. Minnesota- W. Seattle- W. @Minnesota- L. Green Bay- L. @Arizona- L. @Detroit- L.
*Whom we beat, BTW.
7-9, because let's face it, Urlacher ain't lasting a whole season, and if Cutler does, it'll be a miracle if he's not the first professional NFL QB in modern history to receive an atomic wedgie from his own teammates. This team right now has ‘destined for disappointment' written all over it.
And to wrap it up, those fearsome
Pontiacs Lions, sitting at 1-2 thanks to losses against the Titans (snicker) and the 49ers (whom we beat; have I mentioned that yet?) with their lone win against St. Louis:
Minnesota- L. @Philadelphia- L. @Chicago- L. Seattle- W. @Jacksonville- W. @Minnesota- L. Green Bay- W. Houston- L. Indianapolis- L*. @Green Bay- L. @Arizona- L. Atlanta- L. Chicago- W.
*That's right around when that team will be getting its groove on, beating a few teams that will be mild upsets.
Ending with 5-11. That might be a tad low... I suppose the Philly and Indy games really could go either way, but I'm not seeing much past 7-9.
So... tell me, Viking fandom, what parts of the above seem unrealistic? Could we really, really ride a high right into 10-6, second in the division only thanks to a tie-breaker loss, with one bounce of a ball in another NFC game deciding our playoff fate? And heck, even if the ball bounces the wrong way and we're bumped out, would second place in the division not be an incredible victory for our lowly team right now? Or is this all the ramblings of a lunatic who is way to euphoric after one incredible victory?
And if I might part you with two final thoughts: one, FU Randy Moss, you caught one good pass, scored no TDs, and looked about as good as Devin Aromashodu out there... and second, I just feel like pointing out that I won my fantasy football game this week, despite starting Kevin Smith and despite having been a projected 79.18 point underdog. Oh, who did I beat? Well, I'm a gentleman, so I won't say Arif's name out loud.