Story 1: "I went to a movie the other day that I was super excited to see. The opening credits started out pretty well, but after a while those scrolling names were just atrocious. I walked out right away. Gosh that movie sucked."
Story 2: "Back in high school, I was dating a girl I really liked. Halfway through our first makeout session, she stopped because she had to sneeze. She sneezed! Like three times! Gross! Absolute deal breaker. I dumped her on the spot. No way was I going to be known as the guy who dated Sneezy McSneezerson."
Story 3: "I bought a brand new car this week. Supposed to be real fuel efficient. The dealership promised me that my car would get at least 50 miles to the gallon on the highway. So after driving on this mountainous highway with all sorts of curves and inclines, I found out I was only getting 39 miles to the gallon. Only thirty-nine! AHHHHH!! That is like the worst car performance of all time! So naturally, I immediately lit the car on fire and went back to the dealership to pick out another new car."
All three of those stories sound pretty ridiculous don't they? You wouldn't say a movie sucked after the opening credits, or dump a girl for sneezing, or trash a new car because it didn't perform exactly how you thought it would right away.
So why is it OK for Viking fans to flip out and act like the sky is falling after only 6.3% of the season is complete? Why is it OK for us to write Donovan McNabb off as a complete bust after only 15 passes as a Viking? How is it perfectly normal to be jump-off-a-building upset just because we lost by a single score to a Super Bowl contender on the road after a shortened preseason?
Look, I get it: we're Viking fans. We're very, very familiar with our hopes being crushed quickly after our favorite team performs well. It comes with the territory. But for those of you pandering for Ponder out of pure principle, let's remember that the general consensus was that he wasn't ready to start after just a month of lockout-shortened preparation. Suddenly after a month and a week he should take the reigns? I don't get it. Our offense stunk last week, but we aren't irrevocably broken.
Like ESPN's Gregg Easterbrook often claims in his TMQ column: Don't panic yet; there will be plenty of time for that later. It'll get better, I promise.*
Just how will it get better? For starters, we're at home. Do you realize that stretching back to the beginning of the 2008 season, the Vikings are 19-4 in home games played at the Metrodome? I was surprised too, especially after last year. For whatever reason, the Vikes always perform better in the decrepit confines of the dome. Surely, the Vikings couldn't break such a hot streak against a fellow 0-1 team, could they?
Speaking of situations that need a lot more money in a hurry, let me introduce you to our Week 2 opponent, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers! The Bucs are still roughly a gazillion dollars underneath the salary cap, even after doling out a six-year, $19 million contract to their punter. For those of you that don't know, the Glazer family that owns Tampa also owns the richest soccer club in the world, Manchester United. Even though the lads across the pond are basically printing money, the Bucs rarely see a dime of it.
Since the Glazers' sphincters are so tightly wound regarding their (American) football team's salaries, the Bucs have naturally migrated to younger (read: cheaper) players. Many of the young starters have a ton of talent, especially the likes of quarterback Josh Freeman, running back LeGarrette Blount, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, and defensive back Aqib Talib. But with youth comes inexperience, and with inexperience comes mistakes. Surely, the Vikings couldn't lose to a team that spends like the Cleveland Indians did in "Major League" and has tons of players that just had their first legal adult beverage, could they?
And the final reason why the Vikings are going to win? I'll be there in person, about 20 rows behind the Vikings bench. (Look for me on TV--I'll be the white guy in the Adrian Peterson jersey. Super easy to pick out.) I'm going with my former roommate, an avid Buccaneers fan. (Don't blame him--he's from central North Dakota. Those people aren't right in the head...as the founder of this website can attest to! Zing!) Surely, the Vikings wouldn't subject me to another painful loss while my friend mercilessly taunts me in the next seat...would they?*
(*Aw dammit, I'm still a typical Vikings fan. I'm scared sh*tless about this game, and I have absolutely no idea whether or not it'll get better. But I'm still picking the Vikes to win in a close one.)
Prediction: Vikings 24, Buccaneers 20
Now for the rest of my Week 2 NFL picks (home team in ALL CAPS):
Raiders over BILLS: Either way, I'm not sure if I'm prepared to live in a world where one of these two teams is going to be 2-0.
SAINTS over Bears: Because I know I'm not prepared to live in a world where the Bears go 2-0 by knocking off two NFC contenders.
COLTS over Browns: I looked at their schedule, and this might be the last time I pick the Colts to win all year unless Peyton Manning comes back. And yes, count me in as one of the people who thinks Manning should be named the MVP if Indy goes 2-14.
LIONS over Chiefs: Hey Kansas City: you're just lucky that losing at home to the Bills by 34 points is still only worth one loss.
Packers over PANTHERS: I got a kick out of the SportsCenter poll the other day when they asked who had the better game between Cam Newton and Tom Brady. Um, Cam was definitely more surprising, but he still lost. Think of a better poll, please.
Ravens over TITANS: Good gracious did Baltimore look good last week. But I suppose that happens when Big Ben was throwing to a wide open Ed Reed all day. And hey, whoever replaced Jeff Fisher in Tennessee (I don't want to waste the four seconds Googling it): give the ball to Chris Johnson more, or suffer the wrath of 40 million scorned fantasy owners.
JETS over Jaguars: My Survivor Pool pick of the week, unfortunately still going strong after my reverse-jinx-attempt Chargers pick last week. I just have a feeling that the Jags will still be happy going 1-1 with Luke "Oh, that McCown, not McNown or the other McCown" McCown.
REDSKINS over Cardinals: When in doubt and/or you don't give a crap, pick the home team.
STEELERS over Seahawks: Congratulations, Tarvaris Jackson! You get to deal with an extremely pissed off Pittsburgh team in their own back yard! Good luck!
Cowboys over 49ERS: I had a great joke here, but Tony Romo just handed it over to another column. At the worst possible time, too.
BRONCOS over Bengals: "TEE-BOW! TEE-BOW! TEE-BOW! TEE-BOW!" (Regardless of this game's outcome.)
Texans over DOLPHINS: I had a great joke here too, but Benny Sapp just let it run directly past him for 99 yards.
PATRIOTS over Chargers: The Chargers barely squeaked by THE WORST TEAM OF ALL TIME, EVAH, THAT TOTALLY SHOULD HAVE BEEN STARTING CHRISTIAN PONDER FROM DAY ONE (according to many of our commenters) last week, at home! No way can I pick them on the road against the Pats.
Eagles over FALCONS: MichaelVick MichaelVick MichaelVick MichaelVick MichaelVick MichaelVick MichaelVick MichaelVick MichaelVick MichaelVick MichaelVick MichaelVick MichaelVick MichaelVick.
Rams over GIANTS: Since picking the Rams to upset an NFC East opponent worked out so well for me last week.
Last week: 7-9 (uffda.)
Season so far: 7-9