Well, with the Vikings single-handedly eliminating four teams from post-season contention with their victory last night (the Bears, Cardinals, Eagles, and Lions), the table looks a little bit different than it did last week. Now, we have five teams competing for the two. . .yes, two. . .wild-card positions.
Here's what the picture looks like as of now:
|Team||W-L||Conf W-L||Div W-L||H2H Tiebreakers||NFC Games Left||AFC Games Left|
|NYG (5)||9-5||7-5||3-3||None||None||@ BUF, NE|
|MIN (6)||8-6||6-5||3-3||NYG||WAS||@ DEN|
|NO||7-7||6-4||3-3||None||PHI, @ CHI||None|
|WAS||7-7||5-5||2-3||None||@ MIN, DAL||None|
|CAR||6-8||6-4||2-3||None||DAL, @ TB||None|
This means we have four different games to keep an eye on this weekend. Here they are in chronological order, with the team we want to see win in bold, as usual:
Dallas at Carolina - With their ugly, ugly victory over the Seahawks on Sunday, the Panthers kept the proverbial doctors from pulling the plug on their life support. However, of all the teams that are still alive for the post-season, Carolina needs the most help, and they have to start by beating a Cowboys team that promises to be ticked off after the performance they put on against Philadelphia on Sunday. The Cowboys are still trying to sew up the #1 seed in the NFC, and they should get a step closer to that by beating Carolina on Saturday night.
New York Giants at Buffalo - Guess who's back? Back again? New York's back! Tell a friend!
You know how I said last week that the only way the Giants would miss the post-season is if they lost all three of their games and both New Orleans and Minnesota won out? Well, we're 1/3 of the way to that scenario after the terrible performance that the Giants put on against the Redskins this past Sunday night. The Giants need a win to solidify a post-season spot, and they'd better hope they win this one. . .because in their season finale, they get the privilege of hosting a New England team that, from everything I've heard about them, is a decent little ball club. Buffalo, who was eliminated from post-season contention by Cleveland this past week, doesn't appear to be a team that's just going to roll over for their in-state rivals, so this one should be a pretty interesting game. Let me tell you, starting Sunday at noon, I'll be flipping back and forth between this contest and. . .
Philadelphia at New Orleans - The Saints and Redskins are, in reality, the two teams that are chasing the Vikings for the last NFC playoff spot. A Saints loss, coupled with a Vikings' victory, would officially put the Giants and Vikings in the NFC playoff field, and after that it would be a matter of which team was the #5 seed and which team was the #6 seed. The Eagles were officially eliminated last night, but they (like the Bills) don't strike me as a team that's going to fold up the tents just yet, particularly in a game as big as this one. Interesting side note here. . .Philadelphia is one game over .500 on the road this season (4-3), while New Orleans is one game under .500 at home (3-4). Should be an interesting match-up, to say the least. An Eagles win here would help us in a big way.
None of the late afternoon games will play any role in our post-season fate, so after those two games, we can sit back and relax. . .yeah, sure we can. . .until Sunday night when we'll see. . .
Washington at Minnesota - For what seems like the fifth or sixth week in a row, the biggest game of Minnesota's season is their next game. For the second week in a row, the Vikings will see what should be a sub-par starting quarterback in Todd Collins, who looked horrific in Washington's game Sunday night against New York. The difference between the Bears and the Redskins is that the Redskins have the personnel to actually run the football a little bit. Now, I know that the Minnesota run defense is god-like, and has been for the last two seasons, but the Redskins might be able to move the ball on the ground just enough to keep the Vikings off-balance. . .something that there was absolutely no threat of from Chicago.
The Vikings, quite frankly, simply have to play better football than they did on Monday night. If they turn the ball over four times against the Redskins, and twice where the opponents start their drive inside the red zone, they will lose. Plain and simple. The Beloved Purple can't afford that kind of performance against the Redskins. Tarvaris Jackson needs to go back to being the QB he was for the 4 games leading up to last night instead of reverting back to the QB we saw in the first 2 games of this season, the play-calling needs to become a lot less predictable, and we need to bring pressure on Todd Collins all night long.
Are the Vikings capable of doing all those things? They certainly are. Will it all come together? We'll see on Sunday night. I hope it does, and I have a gut feeling that it will.