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A TED Talk, Week 15

What a difference three months makes

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Los Angeles Chargers Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Hi kids, and happy day off Tuesday, following a day off Monday. What’s that? You’ve had to work both days? Oh, that’s a shame. Bad weather here has pretty much shut down the greater St. Louis area, so I’ve had two weather days coming off the weekend. Gotta say, it’s almost as awesome as the Vikings current run they’ve been on the last couple months.

I started doing these TED talks this year to try and encapsulate where the Vikings stood, and how we, as fans, perceived them. Or at least a lot of us perceive them. I’ve become pretty bullish on this team, and my opinion has turned almost 180 degrees from our TED Talk after week four.

I hope a good portion of you feel the same way.

Back at the end of September, the Vikings making the playoffs seemed like a pipe dream. Their offense was dead last in the NFL, the defense couldn’t get off the field, and players were unhappy, openly sniping with either each other or about the playcalling, or both.

But since that game, the Vikings have gone on an 8-2 run, and are on the cusp of securing a wildcard slot in the playoffs. After a convincing win in a game the Vikings have historically stumbled in, even during the Mike Zimmer era, they have a chance to finish strong against two divisional rivals and take a four game winning streak into the postseason, and maybe even improve their positioning.

I strongly feel that the Vikings need to somehow, some way, win the division, as remote as that seems right now. I still have doubts about this team, or any team for that matter, to go on the road and win three playoff games just to get to the Super Bowl. I’ve mentioned it before, but it bears repeating—only four teams have won three road games to get to the Super Bowl, and only three of those teams have won it all.

That’s a tough ask for any team, including every playoff team in the NFL this year.

The Vikings need to win these last two games to give them the best chance to win the division. After week four, I would have been in a ‘just happy to be here’ mode if you had told me the Vikings were going to make the playoffs, because there was no way I could have conceived back then that this was anything more than a ‘one and done’ team, at best.

I no longer feel that way. Settling for the last spot in The Dance is no longer acceptable, because I think this team can make a serious run, and to give themselves their best chance they need to be playing their best football.

Obviously, winning out gives them their best chance. If they win out, don’t get any help, and end up as the sixth seed that’s one thing. Finishing strong and taking that confidence on the road is better than just being happy to secure the last spot in the playoffs without trying to better their position.

Over the last couple of months, the Vikings have been playing football about as well as anyone in the NFL. Since their week four loss to the Bears, Minnesota has gone 8-2 since then, losing two road games they were in position to win. They have a top 10 offense, an offensive coordinator in Kevin Stefanski that can call a dynamic game, and a defense in the last couple of games that looks to be returning to the aggressive Mike Zimmer defenses we’ve gotten used to over the last five seasons.

So, how do they get in position to win the division while playing their best football? Beat Green Bay and Chicago, get a little bit of help, and ride into the postseason winners of four in a row and seven of their last eight. That sounds a lot more appealing than resting players, maybe going 1-1 or 0-2, and losing any chance of winning the division. Or at a minimum, going from the six seed to the five seed.

To finish strong, everyone needs to play if they are able. I am not interested in resting players like Dalvin Cook if they can play, because doing that these last two games in preparation of the postseason feels like taking the foot off the gas pedal and coasting to the finish line. I want the Vikings to hit the gas, blast through the finish line, and put themselves in the best position available to get to the Super Bowl.

The Vikings are an imperfect team, but their strengths can overcome their liabilities, just like every other team in the NFC.

Finish strong, fight for improved seeding and maybe a home playoff game, and then let’s roll the playoff dice.

Thank you for listening to my TED Talk.