There’s no better feeling than completely dominating a division rival. After suffering that exact fate at the hands of the Packers last week, the Minnesota Vikings were able to bounce back and end the season on a win, even if it was against the lowly Bears. The game played out exactly how the Vikings wanted it to, as they jumped out to an early lead and rested most of the starters after halftime.
When you’re a playoff team, you have to destroy teams that haven’t won since October. When you haven’t won since October, and you have an opportunity to get the first pick in the draft, apparently the only solution is to triple cover Justin Jefferson and switch quarterbacks three times during the game. The Vikings handled the Bears with ease, which is exactly what we Vikings fans wanted to see after the embarrassment at Lambeau last weekend. To make things even better, the Lions did us a solid and defeated the Packers on Sunday night, eliminating them from the Playoffs. It sucks to miss out, doesn’t it?
This game is somewhat difficult to evaluate. The Vikings played well, yes, but it’s tough to put stock into a game that the other team tried to lose. I mean, when was the last time you watched a team try so hard to lose a game? Like, seriously? I want to give the Vikings credit for being a much better team than the Bears, but my goodness, it seemed like the Bears weren’t even trying to play pass defense for most of the first half. The Vikings are a good team and undoubtedly picked up a confidence boost heading into the showdown against New York. The offensive line bounced back, which is a sight for the sore eyes of Vikings fans. I think it was a good way for us to get into a rhythm before the playoffs and give the reserves valuable playing time.
The Bears, on the other hand, were able to secure the first overall pick in the draft when the Texans beat the Colts, so I guess they got what they wanted, but it irks me that the Bears didn’t even try. They ruined the integrity of the game and didn’t even try to win, unlike the dumpster fire of an organization that is the Texans, who gave up the first pick because they actually tried to win a football game, like a professional football team should do. Whatever. There’s a lot of talk that the Bears will have a huge off-season, with the number one pick and a king’s ransom of cap space. They even already have their quarterback, so they could, potentially, turn the top draft pick into even more valuable assets. The Bears might be coming for us next year, and in future years. But this year, they were pathetic and did everything they could to lose against the Vikings. Ryan Poles is out here playing some form of chess that I’m not sure we want to be a part of. Tanking is a strategy, indeed, no matter how cowardly. Anyway, let’s not get distracted here - your “pre-postseason game” Stock Market Report follows!
Blue Chip Stocks
KJ Osborn - KJ had a phenomenal first half, catching 5 balls for 117 yards, including a career-long 66-yard haul on the first drive. I really think KJ will have a big impact for the offense in the playoffs. I’m excited to see what he can do on the big stage.
Alexander Mattison - The Big Boy rumbled for 54 yards on 10 carries and, most importantly, scored two touchdowns on the afternoon. Should Cook be let go in the offseason (more on that below), I would like to see Mattison extended.
Duke Shelley - The Duke hype train keeps pushing on! Duke had his first career interception against his former team, (I don’t care who was throwing that ball) and then proceeded to plant the ball on the giant “C” in the middle of the field. Love to see it.
Chris Reed - Reed had a solid bounce-back game today. If Bradbury can’t come back for Super Wild Card Weekend, Reed is up. Hopefully this game was enough to get him ready for the first-team offense.
Greg Joseph - Greg missed his first extra point attempt, but was perfect on his next five extra point or field goal tries. Hopefully his confidence is back for the playoffs. (Maybe he’ll hit another game-winner against the Giants?)
CJ Ham - It was kinda funny to see CJ running wide open and catching passes. A fun, productive day for the fullback.
Nick Mullens - I thought Nick played really well today in relief of Kirk. Hopefully he’s brought back next season as a solid insurance policy to the unbreakable Kirk Cousins.
Note: I want to add a section here that discusses players that I don’t know how to feel about, such as players that are usually solid and had an off day, etc. Someone had suggested a “Penny Stock” section last week, but I’m not sure that name is appropriate for what I’m trying to do here. Let me know of any other name suggestions for this section in the comments.
Dalvin Cook - I truly don’t know how to assess Dalvin at the end of the regular season. We’ve seen him make big, explosive splash plays this season, yet it seems he’s lost a step lately. Throw in career-long ball security issues and big cap savings if he’s let go, and it seems like it’s logical to go forward without him next season. But still, he has a knack for big runs that will (hopefully) come in handy in the playoffs, and might be missed next season. Even against the bears, he lost an ugly fumble, but also had a couple of big chunk runs. Ugh Dalvin, don’t do this to us! If this is it for Cook in purple, so be it, he’ll be replaced. And if he comes back, that would be cool too.
No one - I thought about putting Cook here with his fumble, but really, this game was more about staying healthy than it was winning, and still, the Vikings did exactly what they needed to do this week. Got in, played a dominant game and didn’t lose anyone to injuries, got out. As far as I’m concerned, no one deserves to be in the dumpster this week.
Buy - The Vikings have a favorable matchup with the Giants.
We’ve already beaten them once at home, so we should be able to beat them again. Of the NFC playoff teams, the Vikings faced the Cowboys, Eagles, and Giants. We beat the Giants and were blown out by the other two.
Sell - The 2 seed still would have been better.
Yeah, it would have been way better. There was a lot of talk last week about the three seed being more favorable in terms of advancing to the second round. I agreed, and rightfully so, because most people didn’t think the Packers would lose to the Lions. Then, there was a good chance that the Packers upset the 49ers, giving us another home game. Instead, with the Seahawks sliding into the seven spot, we would have faced Seattle round one, then host the 49ers (probably) in round two. Now we’re either going to have to travel to San Francisco or hope that the Seahawks pull off an upset so we can host the Buccaneers or Cowboys. Oh well.
Buy - The Vikings have positive momentum heading into the playoffs.
Ending the season on a win is good. Beating the Bears at Soldier Field is good. Suffering no injuries in a meaningless game is good. The Vikings should be feeling pretty confident right now.
Sell - The Vikings will lose that momentum when they face a good team.
The Giants are a better team than the Bears, and I think they’re going to cause some issues for the Vikings. But, I think the Vikings will carry the momentum gained from the Bears’ game into the playoffs and compete well.
Buy - The Vikings had an unexpectedly good regular season.
No one saw this team going 13-4 in August. We’ve been gifted an exciting season, and even though the wins have been close, they’re wins nonetheless.
Sell - The Vikings are “frauds”.
No, they’re not. They’ve played well enough to stay in games, and have shown an uncanny ability to close them in the fourth quarter. That’s what good football teams do. Do I think they’re a top-five team in the league? They’re close, but just on the outside. I do believe that this team has a unique mix of talent and very weird luck. We could see anything from a first-round blowout loss to a Super Bowl win. That’s just the way we roll.
This was a nice, easy win to build momentum for the postseason. Both the first-team offense and defense looked sharp, and there were no significant injuries. 13-4 sounds pretty good to me. Certainly sounds better than 8-9, right Packers? Let’s enjoy this week as we anticipate our second matchup with the Giants. Let me know in the comments who I missed on the SMR. Skol to the ‘Bowl, everybody.