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You Need A Few Breaks To Make The Super Bowl

I've long maintained that the Vikings aren't nearly as far from a run at Super Bowl XLVI as it appears they might be at first glance. Heck, they really weren't all that far from having an opportunity to make a run at Super Bowl XLV (we'll get to that in a moment). But simply having a good team isn't good enough. . .after all, with parity in the NFL being what it is, most teams are too tightly bunched together for talent to be the only determining factor in winning and losing.

No, along the way, you need to get a few breaks. . .and, rest assured, every winning team gets them. They're the difference between a great season and an average to bad one. Take a look at this year's champions, the Green Bay Packers. Now, obviously they had a great season, but they got a few breaks, too. Think about it. . .

-If referee Scott Green is smart enough to know what a touchdown catch is and what a touchdown catch isn't in Minnesota's visit to Lambeau Field, the Packers likely lose to the Vikings. . .and, as a result, miss the playoffs.
-If the Detroit Lions don't get their first road win since about the mid-point of the Clinton Administration over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Bucs make the post-season. . .and Green Bay stays home.
-If Matt Dodge realizes that it's a stupid idea to kick to DeSean Jackson with seven seconds left in the fourth quarter, maybe the New York Giants beat the Philadelphia Eagles. . .and edge out Green Bay for the sixth spot in the NFC playoffs.

So, the Vikings finished 6-10 this past season. . .do you think they were that far away? I don't. Why not? Well, here are a couple of "what if's" from the 2010 season that could have radically changed this season.

-What if the Vikings had been able to put together so much as one decent offensive drive in the second half of the season opener in New Orleans?
-What if the Vikings had managed to convert on fourth and goal against the Miami Dolphins in Week 2?
-What if Brett Favre's pass to Percy Harvin on second down with time running out against the Jets in Week 5 had been about six inches lower?
-And I already mentioned Scott Green's complete and utter inability to do his job in what could (or should) have been a Vikings' victory over the Packers in Green Bay.

There's four instances. . .and, in this case, possibly four plays. . .that spelled the difference between the Vikings being 6-10 and totally out of it and being 10-6 and playing in January. I'm sure there were others, but hey. . .it's early and my morning caffeine hasn't kicked in yet.

In addition. . .and this is going to sound weird. . .but the Vikings' 2010 season was truly a one of a kind mix of bad timing and unprecedented bad luck. To my knowledge, Sidney Rice hasn't re-injured himself or anything like that, so the Vikings will actually have him for the season opener next year (after they re-sign him, which I'm cautiously optimistic about). Also, I have my doubts as to whether or not the Vikings will have to deal with a roof collapse or a circus concerning a certain wide receiver or playing "home" games in Detroit or anything crazy like that in 2011. . .or whenever the next time there's football happens to be. (I also have a weird feeling that the Vikings won't have nearly as many turnovers the next time around as they did in 2010.)

The 2009 Minnesota Vikings probably caught more than their fair share of breaks. . .the 2010 Minnesota Vikings, on the other hand, caught absolutely zero breaks from day one of the pre-season to the day the final gun sounded in Detroit. The Vikings still have plenty of talent to make a run in 2011. . .but it sure would help if they got a couple of bounces this time around. It certainly isn't out of the realm of possibility. . .regardless of what anybody might try to tell you.