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Opinion

Not so fast Viking fans; road to Miami has a few roadblocks

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December 4, 2009

As we head into December, playoff talks start to heat up more and more each week. Not only have playoff talks been heating up in this area, but Super Bowl talks have been a hot topic as well, and rightfully so, as the Vikings head into week 13 of the season at 10-1. There are a lot of Viking fans on campus, including myself, but let’s take a step back for a second and really analyze the Vikings situation for a minute.

Monday night showed us who the top dog is in the NFC, and that is the New Orleans Saints. Before Monday night, the Vikings could have made a case for being the number one team in the NFC despite the Saints being undefeated, and the Vikings having one loss. All that went out the window, though, after the Saints defeated the New England Patriots pretty heavily, 38-17. In the national spotlight game, the Saints looked like a complete team offensively and defensively. Yes, we have to keep in mind this isn’t the 2007 Patriots team that was an offensive juggernaut, or the 2001, 2003, 2004 Super Bowl Patriot teams that have dominated this decade, but they still are a respectable team.

The road to Miami and Super Bowl XLIV goes through New Orleans in the NFC at the moment, and playing in the Superdome is one of the toughest places to play in the NFL, especially in a year when the Saints are firing on all cylinders and playing their best football.

Another key aspect to look at is how poor the Vikings have played once they reach the post-season. In the 49 years of existence, the Vikings have made the playoffs 25 times and only three times in the last decade in 2000, 2004 and 2008. Of the 25 playoff appearances, the Vikings post a mere 17-25 record (2-3 this decade). The Vikings have made it to four Super Bowls — quite an accomplishment, since there are twenty teams in the league that have three or less Super Bowl appearances. The Vikings lost all four Super Bowls they have played in, however, and are among 15 teams that have not won the Super Bowl.

Viking fans should all have the 2000 playoffs in the back of their minds. The team went 11-5 and had the number two seed in the playoffs only to lose the number one seed New York Giants, 41-0. Also, fans should remember the 1998 season when the Vikings had their best offensive team in franchise history and were projected to meet the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl. The Vikings ended up being upset in the NFC Championship game against the Atlanta Falcons after a butchered 38-yard field goal by Gary Anderson, Vikings kicker at the time.

This year there is hope once again as the Silver Fox, Brett Favre, came out of retirement for the second consecutive year to lead the Vikings toward Super Bowl XLIV in Miami. On the offensive side of the ball, the quarterback position was the only question mark coming into this season before Favre signed on August 18th and gave the Vikings their first relevant quarterback since Culpepper’s last healthy year in 2004. All the pieces seem to be in place, as the Vikings rank fifth in total offense and eighth in total defense and have the projected NFC offensive rookie of the year in Percy Harvin.

So while Viking fans have something to hope for, for the first time since the 2004 season, there is a lot of football left to be played and a few roadblocks along the way. One could be facing the Packers, as they are surging up the ranks, trying to get into a wildcard spot and hoping for revenge against the Vikings for sweeping them in the regular season. The biggest roadblock at the moment could very well be in the
NFC Championship game, where the Vikings are projected to match up against the Saints, which could once again leave the Vikings one game short of their fifth Super Bowl appearance.

Derek Johnson is a student at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.