So, to listen to the NFL experts since Saturday evening, one would think that it's a fait accompli that the Dallas Cowboys are going to make up half of the NFC Championship game next weekend against whoever wins the shootout between the Saints and Cardinals on Saturday. After all, the Dallas defense is on a roll, having given up a total of 14 points in their last three games, looking invincible on defense, Tony Romo and company destroying anything that moves offensively, and all that good stuff.
That's all well and good. Honestly, Dallas might. . .might. . .be playing the best football in the NFL right now. But contrary to popular belief, the Minnesota Vikings didn't go 12-4 by accident. Minnesota was second in the NFL in scoring this season, nearly a full touchdown better than the Cowboys in that department (29.4 points/game for Minnesota, 22.6 points/game for Dallas). They led the NFL in sacks. They had everyone wondering what was "wrong" with their star running back despite the fact that said back rushed for nearly 1,400 yards and led the NFL in rushing touchdowns with 18.
This Sunday's matchup should be a good one, fought by two very good and complete teams. But there's one thing that should give Viking fans a great deal of confidence in the Beloved Purple this weekend.
Yes, this game being played on the artificial surface of the Metrodome is what sways this game Minnesota's way, in my opinion. Want some proof? Our good friend Pacifist Viking put these little numbers together.
The Vikings have played 10 games on the turf this year. . .their eight home games, as well as games at Detroit and St. Louis.
Minnesota's record in those 10 games? 10-0.
Average points scored in those 10 games? 32.7
Average points allowed in those 10 games? 14.7
Contrast that to the six games they've played on the natural surface. In those games, they have two wins against four losses, are scoring 23.8 points/game (which is still pretty darn good), but they're allowing 27.5 points/game (which certainly is not). But on turf, the Vikings have beaten good teams (Baltimore, Green Bay, Cincinnati), bad teams, and in-between teams. There's a reason that they were the only team in the NFC to finish the year with an unblemished mark at home.
There's no reason for Viking fans not to keep the faith, ladies and gentlemen. Win this one, and there will be at least one more game on the fast track this year. . .whether it's making a trip to the Big Easy to take on the Saints, or playing at Thunderdome against a Cardinals team that the Vikings will be looking for revenge on.
Man. . .is it Sunday yet?