Hi kids, how goes it? Well, as we bring 2019 to a close we find the Minnesota Vikings heading to New Orleans to take on the Saints in the NFC Wildcard round of the playoffs this Sunday. I’ve been to New Orleans on vacation, and hoo boy I can’t think of a much bigger destination if you want to celebrate New Year’s Eve. When I went it was Spring, no holidays in sight, and still managed to get hammered down on Bourbon Street 3-4 times. I can’t imagine New Year’s Eve.
But the Vikings aren’t going there to celebrate the New Year, they’re going there to hopefully bring in the New Year right by beating the Saints this Sunday. Most people don’t think the Vikings have a shot, not even the NFL, if you look at this promo commercial about the playoffs they put out:
Huh. Okay, whatever. I’m sure this won’t be used by Mike Zimmer this week. Nope. Not one bit. Anyway, back to the game, where were we? Oh, yes...the VIkings have no shot, or something. The Saints are unbeatable at home, blah blah blah. If you’re coming over to this story after having just watched my GMG show with Dave and Drew, or you’ve read my posts about being the six seed and getting to the Super Bowl, or if you follow me on Twitter, you’re probably thinking I’m going to buy in to this narrative.
I am not. Admittedly, I was thinking the VIkings had little to no shot for awhile. Look, I’ve been a fan of this team for over 45 years, that happens. I no longer am buying what the national narrative is peddling.
I’m not buying into it for two reasons.
For one, the Saints aren’t some unbeatable juggernaut at home. They went 6-2 at the Superdome this year, or whatever the hell they’re calling it now. They lost what might be arguably the game of the year against San Francisco 48-46...and they also lost what is inarguably NOT the game of the year to the Atlanta Falcons 26-9 back in week 10.
Wait what? Yeah, that’s right. The then 2-7 Atlanta Falcons.
How did the Falcons do it? They did it running the ball 34 times for 143 yards, and winning the time of possession by nearly seven minutes. Falcons QB Matt Ryan only had 182 yards passing, but the Falcons started fast, scoring on their first two drives. Drives of 13 plays and 19 plays that gave them a 10-3 lead. From there, they controlled the tempo of the game, and won going away. It would have been worse if they hadn’t had to settle for field goals, and had been able to score touchdowns.
And recent history between the Vikings and Saints tilts towards the Vikings. They’ve won two of the last three, including the Minneapolis Miracle in the playoffs. Last year, they lost to the Saints at home on Sunday Night 30-20, but dominated the Saints statistically. Drew Brees only had 120 yards passing, and the Vikings had over 400 yards of offense.
But Minnesota killed themselves with two huge turnovers that changed the game. Adam Thielen fumbled inside the Saints 20, when it looked like the Vikings were going to score and take a 20-10 lead into the locker room. Instead, the Saints returned it to the VIkings 18 and scored a TD, giving them a 17-13 lead right before halftime. In the third quarter, Kirk Cousins threw an interception that was returned for a TD, and the game was essentially over.
Of course, in the 2017 NFC DIvisional playoff there was the Minneapolis Miracle, and we don’t need to rehash what happened there HAHAHA JUST KIDDING BEHOLD:
And then finally, the Vikings dominated the 2016 season opener on Monday Night football. There’s been so much turnover on both rosters that’s not really worth diving into too deep, though, other than saying the Vikings won the game.
My point is this: counting out the Vikes is just dumb based on recent history, an over-inflated belief in the Saints invincibility at home, the ‘us against the world’ disrespect angle Mike Zimmer will play up leading up to the game, the way these teams match up...and the fact that, you know, the Vikings don’t exactly stink.
The Saints are 4th in the NFL in run defense, but they give up over 4 yards per carry. You CAN run on them, you just have to be patient, and get positive yards on first and second down. With both Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison returning, that’s very doable. If you can keep down and distance manageable, the soft underbelly of the Saints defense is that they’re 20th in the NFL in pass defense. The Vikings have some weapons they can deploy, and if the o-line can give Kirk a good pocket, Stefon Diggs, Thielen, Cook, Rudolph, and Irv Smith, Jr., can do some damage. They’ve given up 27 TD passes, which is 21st in the NFL this year.
Over the next several days you’ll hear all about Drew Brees, Michael Thoms, Alvin Kamara, and whoever else the national pundits want to talk about. When they talk about the Vikings, they’ll harp on the fact that they haven’t won a big game, the Vikings always choke, and Kirk Cousins shrinks in the moment, if they even talk about the Vikings at all.
So tell me all about how Brees is going to stroll into the Hall of Fame, and spill your verbal diarrhea about Michael Thomas and how many passes he’ll catch, and please, don’t forget Alvin Kamara and remind me how he’ll take out his revenge on the Vikings for what happened two years ago.
Good. Pardon my language, but f#@& ‘em. They have been, are, and always will be the Ne[FUCK THOSE GUYS]nts to me. And them coming into this game overconfident and thinking this will be a walk in the park on their way to the SUper Bowl is just how I want them to feel.
I have said all year long that this iteration of the Minnesota Vikings is, on paper, one of the 3-4 most talented teams in the NFL, they just haven’t played a consistently good game on both sides of the ball all year. When they’ve done it, the look damn near unbeatable.
So like Mike Zimmer said...why not us? Why not now?
Go Vikes, beat...them.
Thank you for listening to my TED talk.