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Week 3 Preview: The Godfather Game

The Vikings are supposed to lose on Sunday.

The Lions are 2-0, riding high after flat out de-pantsing the Chiefs last week. The Vikings are 0-2, coming off games where they pissed away a combined 27 points of halftime leads. The Lions handled the common opponents (the Buccaneers) on the road, while the Vikings couldn't take care of business against them at home.

The Lions have one of the scariest young front sevens in the league with Ndamukong Suh, Kyle Vanden Bosch, and DeAndre Levy making plays. Not to mention Nick Fairley looming after he returns from injury. The Vikings had to get rid of their incumbent tub of lard left tackle during training camp. Their offensive line has had more holes than Spongebob Squarepants in the first two games.

The Lions have a rising star at quarterback (Matthew Stafford) and a certified stud #1 wide receiver (Calvin Johnson). The Vikings have a fallen star at quarterback (Donovan McNabb) and a #1 wide receiver that is only on the field about half the time (Percy Harvin).

Even Vegas knows the Lions are supposed to win on Sunday. For the first time in the history of the old, decrepit, sorely-needs-to-be-replaced-or-else-we-don't-have-a-franchise Metrodome, the Lions are favored to win. Yes, it's that bad: the historically downtrodden franchise from Detroit that has lost in the Metrodome every single year since 1997 is considered the "safe bet" this week.

And yet I'm still picking the Vikes to win. Not because I'm a homer that always sees the world through purple-tinted glasses; after all, I picked the Chargers in Week 1 of the Survivor Pool. No, I have a much better reason.

That reason? "The Godfather", of course.

"Just when I thought I was out...they pull me back in!" 
--Michael Corleone, "The Godfather III"

You all remember that famous line, right? It was probably the only good thing to come out of the awful last chapter of the Godfather trilogy, but I digress. If you think about it, doesn't that line perfectly sum up what the Vikings usually do to their diehard fans?

Here's an example: think back to the 2009 NFC Championship Game. (Sorry, that was cruel of me, but I'm making a point here.) There were at least five or six times during that game where I emotionally checked out, only to get suckered back in. After each fumble late in the game, I said to myself, "Whelp, that's it, we're done. We effed it up, no Super Bowl for us." But what did the Vikings do? They fought back and got our hopes dangerously high...only to crush them one final time. They couldn't just get blown out by the Saints after all those turnovers; nope, they had to string us along and hurt us even more when we had our guard down.

There are so many times throughout this team's history when we've collectively sworn the Vikings off as fans...and then they showed us a flash of hope...and then we ended up hating ourselves for thinking we had a chance. Like when we were backing into the playoffs in 2003 only to have it spoiled by future Hall of Famers Josh McCown and Nate Poole on the last play of the season.

I could go on, but I think you get the point by now. (Plus I don't want to be responsible for any more broken furniture from this gloomy trip down memory lane.) It would be so much easier for us to call 2011 a lost season if the Lions come to town and whoop up on our hometown team. A lot of us fans almost want the Vikings to get blown out by Detroit this week, if only to prove that we never should have picked up McNabb and we can start looking at exactly what we have with Christian Ponder. Some commenters on this site almost seem to prefer when this team is in shambles so they can offer tons of theories on how to make the team better. Heck, part of me even thinks it would be easier to write about the Vikings if they lose this week so I can go into full-on sarcasm/parody mode.

But if you've followed this team at all, you know that's not how they operate. It's never that cut and dry. You can throw out all the statistical analysis you want to show with near certainty that the Lions will win; I won't be able to argue with most of it. But somehow I just feel that the Vikings pull off the win this week, and look good enough in doing so to sucker us into thinking that we could go somewhere in 2011. I think the coaches will use Harvin much more, McNabb hits the throws he's been missing so far, and the defense makes just enough big plays to pull out a sadly unexpected victory.

Just when we thought we were out...

Prediction: Vikings 27, Lions 20

Now for the rest of my Week 3 NFL picks (home teams in ALL CAPS):

Patriots over BILLS: I'm starting three Bills on my 2-0 fantasy team this week. I can guarantee you that's the first time that sentence has ever been typed. That said, Buffalo will get a wake-up call against the Pats this week.

49ers over BENGALS: Huge playoff implications in this game. Wait, did I say playoffs? I meant Andrew Luck.

Dolphins over BROWNS: Miami finally finds some rhythm after they return to the friendly confines of...any stadium other than their own.

TITANS over Broncos: The paper cut-out 1987 Broncos from the old South Park episodes could probably do more damage than the current iteration in Denver.

That's more like it. Bring on them Titans!

SAINTS over Texans: Houston is another good example of my "Godfather" theory. Peyton Manning is out for a long time, they're in a crappy division, they started 2-0 and looked good doing so...everything is looking up for them. But Texans fans should know better by now.

EAGLES over Giants: It sounds like Michael Vick is going to play, and it sounds like half of New York's team isn't.

PANTHERS over Jaguars: Hey Carolina and Jacksonville--it isn't 1996. Those awful shades of teal your teams wear aren't cool anymore. In order to get the awful image of those jerseys out of your head, I present to you the triumphant return of the Gratuitous Picture of the Week!

OK these uniforms are just fine. But quite frankly I'm a little upset with you readers for not reminding me to include one of these during the first two weeks.

CHARGERS over Chiefs: Roger Goodell should probably instate a Mercy Rule before this game kicks off. You know, just in case. Does the scoreboard go to triple digits in San Diego?

Jets over RAIDERS: I could totally see Oakland pulling out one of their trademark inexplicable wins over a good team here...but naaahhhh.

Ravens over RAMS: I'm done picking the Rams to upset until they learn where the end zone is. Since I have nothing else to say here, shout out to St. Louis safety Craig Dahl! I hope he gets to watch our North Dakota State Bison beat up on the Gophers again on Saturday night!

Falcons over BUCCANEERS: C'mon. We saw first hand last week that the Bucs aren't that good.

Packers over BEARS: As I always say when I pick this matchup twice a year--it's only because I can't pick both teams to lose.

Cardinals over SEAHAWKS: Do you think Pete Carroll just glares at Darrell Bevell during meetings, thinking "How in the world did I let this guy convince me to sign Tarvaris Jackson?! This a-hole is going to cost me my job!" Or do you think he just daydreams about how good Andrew Luck will look in a Seattle uniform?

Steelers over COLTS: I try not to pick road teams for my Survivor Pool, but...this one's a layup. (Still alive after the Jets won last week.)

COWBOYS over Redskins: Drink every time you hear the ESPN crew talk about Tony Romo and his toughness or ability in the clutch. If you watch the pregame show, you'll be in a coma before kickoff.

Last week: 10-6
Season so far: 17-15