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The Playoffs Basically Start Today



Date: 3 January 2010
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Time: 12:00 P.M. CST Stadium: Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome
DirecTV Ch. 710
Know Thy Enemy: Big Blue View
Gonzo's Prediction: Vikings 27, Giants 17
Final Score: Vikings 44, Giants 7

Yes, folks, it's nearly time to kick off the finale of the 2009 NFL regular season, and it's pretty much a playoff atmosphere in Minneapolis this afternoon as they hose the New York Giants. A win this afternoon will put the Vikings in a position to potentially still have the #2 seed in the NFC playoffs, pending the outcome of the late game between Dallas and Philadelphia. The Giants don't have a lot to play for, but as we saw on Monday night, that doesn't already mean anything. However, today's game is in the comfy confines of the Metrodome, where the Vikings are 7-0 this year and have yet to score less than 27 points in a game.

So what are the keys to victory today for a Viking team that's very much in need of one, having dropped three of their last four?

1) Win the battle up front. . .on both sides - The Vikings' offensive line has spent the better part of the last month or so getting embarrassed by everyone that lines up across from them. The Vikings' defensive line has registered only five sacks in the last four games, and looks like a shell of what they were earlier in the season (when they racked up 40 sacks in the first 11 games of the year). If the Vikings want to have any hope of winning today. . .and any hope of making any noise in the post-season. . .those things both need to change. All of the big dogs up front on both sides of the ball need to start earning their rather sizable paychecks, starting today.

2) Take care of the football - The Giants are down both their starting CBs, one of their starting safeties, their starting middle linebacker, and one of their starting defensive tackles. The Giants are coming into this one seriously undermanned on the defensive side of the ball. However, that doesn't mean that Minnesota can be careless with the football, and especially Adrian Peterson. Although I guess we can take some consolation in the fact that Peterson hasn't fumbled against a non-NFC North opponent all season long (all 7 of his fumbles have come against Green Bay, Detroit, and Chicago). If the Vikings don't turn the ball over, they should win this football game.

3) Take what the Giants give you - The Vikings' coaching staff. . .and we as fans. . .need to realize that there is no "magic number" of rushes or anything like that for this team any more. This is no longer a "running team." If the Giants load up to stop the run and we need to throw 40 times, then that's what has to happen. If they drop extra guys into coverage to stop the pass, then we need to pound Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor. That goes for Brad Childress, Brett Favre, Darrell Bevell, and everybody else on the Vikings' sidelines. Don't try to force things. . .just go with what works.

Pat Williams should be back for the Vikings today, and Antoine Winfield has told ESPN that he's going to play today "in short yardage situations only." Nice. . .most teams have short-yardage defensive linemen. . .we have a short-yardage defensive back. Oh, well. . .whatever it takes to finally get him right somehow.

It's an hour and a half until game time, ladies and gentlemen. Hope to see you all back here for all of today's action!