The Vikings are coming off of their worst year since the Les Steckel year in 1984. I can’t get any worse than 3-13, can it? Don’t ask questions that you don’t want to hear the answer to.
But before we look ahead, let’s look back at that stinker of a season.
I was looking good on my picks through the first two games. The Vikings were 0-2 and had indeed lost a close game to the Bucs. But Detroit was coming to town; nothing alleviates a losing streak like a shot of Motor City Kitty! Sure, McNabb was already looking even older than he did in Washington. And sure the defensive secondary was even worse than advertised. And sure the offensive line was… ok, yeah, the signs were there, but really? An overtime loss at home to Detroit?!? What the ****!?!
Ok deep breath. We can come back from a tough loss. Oh that’s right. A scrappy KC team in KC. Another close loss (as I predicted). But the Cardinals at home, now that’s a win, right? (Yup!)
On the road in Chicago and then at home against Green Bay. Figured we’d lose both, and we did. So far, pretty close to being on track. Sadly during my GB prediction I let lose a “If the Vikings end up going 1-15 this season, as long as this is the one win, it’ll be a successful season.” Well, it wasn’t 1-15, but it wasn’t much better…
Ok, on to Carolina where Cam Newton was looking pretty good so far… but as I predicted, the Vikes get a win!
Follow that with the obligatory second loss to the Pack, it was time to get on track (or “untracked” ???) with the rest of the schedule. Oakland, Atlanta, Denver, Detroit (who we should have beaten at home), N’awlins, Washington, Chicago. There’s at least 4 wins in there, right? Sadly no. Only one win, and it was against Washington, and AP tears up his knee. Plus it knocked us out of the running for Andrew Luck/RG III. At least the Vikings had the decency to go belly up against Chicago in the last game to cement the stink hole at Draft Position Number 3.
All in all, it was about as ugly as it gets. The only positive to pull from the season is that Ponder looked better than McNabb. Oy.
But, it’s a new season and… and. Well, it’s hard to get really excited. Green Bay is the favorite to win the Super Bowl, both Detroit and Chicago are likely to get 10+ wins. The Vikings are much younger, but not much better. The best years of Jared Allen’s career are going to waste. It’s a sad state when a team has a couple of piece of top tier talent, but not enough pieces to go anywhere with it. And by the team those other pieces are assembled, that top tier talent won’t be top tier anymore. In football if you don’t make the playoffs, you might as well go 3-13. 7-9 doesn’t do you much good. Especially in the Vikings division where 7-9 will probably mean last place.
Too much gloom and doom? Well let’s look at the games; that should make you feel better (9.9)
Week 1: Sun, Sep 9 Jacksonville
Boy… I’d like to start off with some sunshine. First game of the season, at home, Jacksonville. I really want to say win… and will actually say win since we are at home. Maurice Jones-Drew is rusty after holding out all of August. The Vikings crowd is fired up that there don’t have too many more games left in the Dome. Vikes grind out a close win. 1-0
Week 2: Sun, Sep 16 at Indianapolis
Wow, who knows… I’m gonna say lose, but really, who knows. Luck has looked great, and not so great during the pre-season, but that’s never a good barometer for regular season performance or success. 1-1
Week 3: Sun, Sep 23 San Francisco
People are really up and down on the 49ers. Some have them as their preseason Super Bowl favorite, others say Alex Smith can’t have another career year and the defense will come back to earth after their huge turnover margin in 2011. Either way they are still better than the Vikings. 1-2
Week 4: Sun, Sep 30 at Detroit
The Vikings surely won’t drop two in a row again to the Lions, right? I mean they hadn’t dropped both games to Detroit since 1991. Let’s just say this doesn’t look good. 1-3
Week 5: Sun, Oct 7 Tennessee
The Vikings will stick it to Chris Johnson (really, you think you are better than AP?) and Jake Locker doesn’t excite me. Vikings win. 2-3
Week 6: Sun, Oct 14 at Washington
Ugh… the Redskins are as bad as the Vikings, perhaps even worse. I don’t think RG III can lift them, but my money says he lifts them over the Vikings. Late 4th quarter heroics sink the Vikings. 2-4
Week 7: Sun, Oct 21 Arizona
Arizona may be even worse than last year, and the Vikings are a little better. Vikes get first easy win of the season. Double digits. 3-4
Week 8: Thu, Oct 25 Tampa Bay
Another team that is actually worse than the Vikings. Two games at home against teams that’ll probably win 2 games all year. Smells like winning streak! 4-4
Week 9: Sun, Nov 4 at Seattle
The Vikings “should” win this game, and if it were at home I’d be certain, but it’s so hard to win on the road in National Football League! <shannon sharpe> 4-5
Week 10: Sun, Nov 11 Detroit
Yeah, I’ll say it. Vikes lose both games to Detroit in back to back seasons since the ’61-’62 seasons. (Note: those were the first two seasons of the Vikings existence) 4-6
Week 11: BYE
Another decent bye for the Vikes this year. At least it’s not week 4.
Week 12: Sun, Nov 25 at Chicago
I personally don’t believe that Chicago will win 10 or more games this year, but they will win this game. 4-7
Week 13: Sun, Dec 2 at Green Bay
What is with this terrible schedule of putting both Chicago and Green Bay games in the last 6 weeks of the year? And giving the Vikings back to back road games. I suppose it could have been worse and been the last two games of the year on the road. 4-8
Week 14: Sun, Dec 9 Chicago
I can’t believe the Vikings will get swept by the NFC North again… but I can’t see them winning this game either. Tie. 4-8-1
Week 15: Sun, Dec 16 at St. Louis
The Rams are not good. Perhaps as bad as the Vikings, but I think the Vikings find a way to get it done on the road and ruin whatever draft position a 4 win season would provide. 5-8-1
Week 16: Sun, Dec 23 at Houston
Houston will be a .500 team this year, which means yet another Viking loss. 5-9-1
Week 17: Sun, Dec 30 Green Bay
Gee thanks Mr. Schedule guy… fuck you! 5-10-1
Vegas has the Vikings over/under at 6, which I think is a good bet. I’d be hard pressed to see 7 wins, but 5 seems a tidge too low. The keys for the Vikings to prove Vegas wrong will be:
1) Christian Ponder: can he take a step (or two) forward this year. I think he’ll take a step forward, but he’ll still be the worst QB in the division. What will help him is…
2) Offensive Line: 3rd overall pick Matt Kalil should be an impact player day one, but the rest of the line is suspect.
3) Adrian Peterson: can he be effective coming off a serious knee injury. Toby Gerhart is an above average backup, but the Vikings will need an explosive year from AP to hit 7+ wins
4) Jared Allen: you can’t expect 20+ sacks, but he’ll need 15+ to keep the Vikings defense sound.
5) Defensive Backfield: if Allen and crew can get some pressure, it will take some of the pressure off the secondary which as bad as it was last year, was better than Chicago and Green Bay (dead last in pass defense in 2011).
Well, it may not be a fun year, but it should be an interesting year and give us Vikings fans hope for 2013 and beyond. I just hope we don’t have to wait until a new stadium in 2016 for a winning season.