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Stock Market Report: Bengals

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Division Champs!

Cincinnati Bengals v Minnesota Vikings
How do you like me now?
Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Some days are just more memorable than others. We’ve had some good times and bad times as Vikings fans, and some fond memories. Some of you can trace those memories back to the founding of the franchise, some of you are new to Vikings fandom.

I gotta tell you, as a fan of this team for over 40 years, there have been more memorable days than today, but what we witnessed today ranks right up there. The overall satisfaction I’m feeling with this team is one I haven’t had in awhile, and it’s a pretty good feeling, isn’t it? The lopsided 34-7 win over the hapless Bengals to clinch the NFC North would usually be the lede here, but that became almost an afterthought as a beloved player returned, and a hated rival was epitaphed.

I usually try and find a clever video and a catchy sentence to intro the song of the week, but this calls for the anthem for this team, Immigrant Song. Yes, I know I’ve used this before, but today, I don’t care. Because the 2017 Minnesota Vikings are the Kings Of The North, this is our theme song, so CRANK...IT...UP! Hit it, Led Zeppelin:

Ahhhhh ahhhhhh ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh ah

Ahhhhh ahhhhhh ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh ah

We come from the land of the ice and snow

From the midnight sun, where the hot springs flow

The hammer of the gods

We’ll drive our ships to new lands

To fight the horde, and sing and cry

Valhalla, I am coming!

On we sweep with threshing oar

Our only goal will be the western shore

Ahhhhh ahhhhhh ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh ah

Ahhhhh ahhhhhh ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh ah

We come from the land of the ice and snow

From the midnight sun where the hot springs flow

How soft your fields so green

Can whisper tales of gore

Of how we calmed the tides of war

We are your overlords

On we sweep with threshing oar

Our only goal will be the western shore

So now you'd better stop and rebuild all your ruins

For peace and trust can win the day despite of all your losing

Your SMR that won the North and eliminated Green Bay follows.

Blue Chip Stocks:

Case Keenum, QB: What Keenum has accomplished this year is something Hollywood couldn’t have dreamed up. He continued that fairy tale today, going an incredible 20/23 for 236 yards and two touchdowns. He also was nimble of foot as well, busting a 20 yard run on the Vikings first touchdown drive. There is absolutely no way the Vikes are 11-3 without Keenum this year. None. Zero. Zip. Zilch.

Jerick McKinnon, RB: McKinnon had 114 yards receiving, his career best. It was also the first time a Vikings running back has had more than 100 yards receiving since...wait for this blast from the past name...Onterrio Smith in 2004. The year he was the steal of the draft, if you’ll all fondly remember. McKinnon was so wide open on a couple of his receptions it felt like the Cincinnati defense had already left to go the Midwest Golf Dome. Seriously, it felt like I cared more about suburban Wyoming road construction than the Bengals cared about playing defense today. Um, no offense to those suburban Wyomingans...Wyomingites...whatever...that are actually dealing with road construction, though. Road construction sucks worse than the Bengals. Still, the Vikings had to take advantage of it, and they did repeatedly did all day.

Teddy Bridgewater, QB: This obviously isn’t about stats, or playing time, or even what the future may be. Today, none of that matters. This is about a guy that’s beloved by this fan base and his teammates making it back on to a football field after a horrific injury, and playing meaningful football. I love Teddy Bridgewater, and watching him play was the highlight of the day for me. I’ll admit I had goosebumps all over, and I had the dorkiest, goofiest smile on my face watching him trot out on to the field. After all he’s been through, literally minutes from losing his leg until today...it’s a hell of a story. Not football story, mind you. Story.

Brian Robison, DE: On a day when the defense was five minutes from throwing their first shutout in 24 years (Dec 1993 against Detroit) the old man of the defense led the way. Robison had two sacks for a line that sacked Bengals QB’s 3 times and a defense that intercepted them twice.

Eric Kendricks, LB: Kendricks was also a guy that set the tempo for the defense, returning a 31 yard interception for a touchdown in the first quarter. It was only 14-0 at the time, but it pretty much ended the game, as the Bengals folded like a card table, and the Vikings hit the gas and poured it on.

The rest of the defense: This performance was needed after last week’s anomaly in Carolina. The defensive line and linebackers held the Bengals to 46 yards rushing on 20 carries, the secondary held Andy Dalton and A.J. McCarron to a combined 14-28 passing for 132 yards, no TD’s, and 2 interceptions (one of which was by Kendricks). It was as dominating a defensive performance that the Vikings have had under Mike Zimmer, and it came at just the right time.

Solid Investments:

Latavius Murray, RB: While McKinnon was racking up the receiving yards, Murray was leading the charge on the ground, ending up with 76 yards and a touchdown, while also adding a 28 yard pass reception. I really like how Murray and McKinnon have begun to complement each other down the stretch, and if one guy is having a hard time getting untracked, the other guy is able to move the ball.

Stefon Diggs, WR: Stefon Diggs found the end zone for the first time at home since September, on a nifty 20 yard post route that was on a dime from Keenum.

Kyle Rudolph, TE: For a guy to be considered a no go as late as yesterday due to an ankle injury to scoring a TD and celebrating like we all were when we realized that the division was Minnesota’s was a great moment. He also did the Ickey Shuffle, which shoots up the ‘Greatest TD Celebrations of 2017’ List:

Junk Bonds:

None: The Vikings won the division by boatracing the Bengals and now have a 91% chance of at least a first round bye. The Packers savior came back and torpedoed their chance to go to the playoffs. Teddy Bridgewater played meaningful football.

And you want me to hand out a junk bond today? Are you kidding me?

Buy/Sell:

Buy: Mike Zimmer should be Coach Of The Year. Mike Zimmer has been the Vikings coach for almost four full seasons now, and in that time the Vikings:

-Played 16 regular season home games and one playoff game in a temporary stadium while US Bank Stadium was being built on the grounds of the Metrodome.

-Named Matt Cassel the starting quarterback, only to give way to Teddy Bridgewater, who had to give way to Sam Bradford after his knee was ambushed by ISIS...who gave way to Case Keenum after Bradford’s knee went out. Case Keenum’s knees are now under armed guard 24 hours a day.

-Built their offense around a top 10 all time running back, only to see said running back miss 28 of 48 games in Zimmer’s first three seasons due to suspension or injury.

-Found replacement to said top 10 all time back, only to see HIM go out with a torn ACL in his fourth game when he was an early rookie of the year favorite.

-Won two division titles.

If you’re not going to give Zim the Coach of the Year, just quit handing out the award. Because nothing against Sean McVay in Los Angeles or Doug Pederson in Philly, but let me see what happens when they play their third string QB.

Sell: Pat Shurmur will be the offensive coordinator next year. I really thought that there wouldn’t be a big demand for Pat Shurmur based on what he did as the head coach in Cleveland, but what he’s done with this offense has been remarkable. With as many openings as we’re going to probably see, it seems pretty likely that he’ll get another opportunity if he wants one.

Buy: Getting a first round bye. The Vikings are just a different team at US Bank Stadium. I’m not saying they’re unbeatable at home, but they have the best homefield advantage in the NFL, and that along with this team is an awfully tough mountain to climb, is all I’m sayin’.

Sell: Getting homefield advantage. I want the Vikings to get homefield for the playoffs, don’t get me wrong. That said...this team is capable of beating anyone in any environment. Their two road losses this year were to very good teams...but they were also games in which the Vikings played terribly. When this team isn’t getting in their own way, they have as complete a football team in the NFL, and can go in to anyone’s house and win. Especially with the altered landscape in the NFC after Carson Wentz’s injury.

Buy: This team has no egos, and is the most complete Vikings team in years. The Vikings have had some good teams, some bad teams, but it also seems like they’ve had some look at me prima donnas that said or did things to distract from those teams. Almost every year. Look, some of these guys were Hall of Fame players, so we loved ‘em, don’t get me wrong, but it got old. This team, though? They’re a tight knit bunch that are all in for each other, which is something Mike Zimmer has stressed since day one. Don’t think they are? When Teddy Bridgewater came in, the biggest cheerleader in US Bank Stadium was none other than...Case Keenum. Check this out:

Most of you weren’t around for the Purple People Eaters, and I’m not gonna wax nostalgic. So let’s compare this team to 1998 and 2009. 1998’s team was an all time incredible unit on offense, but a just okay defense. 2009 had Zombie Brett Favre, which was worth all the schadenfreude I could squeeze out of watching him light it up for the Vikings...but this team is a better all around team than either of those teams. They have a top 10 offense, and a top 10 defense. It’s more balanced, and can either win a shoot out or a knife fight in a phone booth. This has been a hell of a fun year, and I can’t wait to see how long it lasts.

Sell: This is a one year wonder team. But unlike ‘98 and ‘09, this team is built to contend for awhile. The 1998 team had a young Randy Moss, but their other key core guys like Cris Carter, Robert Smith, and John Randle were on the back end of their careers. In 2009, the Vikings were all in with Brett Favre. They had a young Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin, but the defense was aging, the offensive line was in transition, and they had no answer at QB after Favre. They knew they had one shot, and they made the most of it.

But look around the Vikings. Of 22 starters, only three are 30 or older. Joe Berger will probably retire, and Tom Johnson might not be back, but Everson Griffen is still one of the best in the business. The Vikings not only have a really talented team, but a YOUNG talented team, and whether they go with Keenum or Teddy, their Super Bowl window is just opening, as opposed to closer to closing, like the other two teams.

Now, get out of here and go enjoy this win, and don’t be like a Packers fan. Drink responsibly.