Season Summary: The Vikings took the NFC North Division crown after a 12-4 season which secured them the number 2 seed and a first round bye in the playoffs. The Vikings have been the source of controversy ever since the start of the off season. The constant back and forth with Brett Favre coming out of retirement or not coming out of retirement made everyone in America who wasn’t from the Minneapolis area nauseated. Long story short, he came back and with his help propelled the team to an 11-2; only bested by the almost perfect Saints. In the divisional round, they took care of Dallas rather convincingly and now set their sights on what all football fans hope to be a shootout in the Superdome.
Offense: Ask any overpaid, captain obvious ESPN personality and they will tell you that Brett Favre is on the Vikings. Favre has taken the Vikings O to one of the best in the NFL, but we hasn’t done it alone. Adrian Peterson, in his 3rd year in the league, rushed for over 1300 yards and 18 touchdowns to take some of the pressure off the passing game. It wasn’t anything like his 2008 campaign, but it didn’t need to be. Teams figured out early that the Vikings have too many weapons to just focus on one area of the offense and has contributed largely to their success. A talented group of receivers also helped the transition easier for # 4. Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin, who is in his rookie season, have been causing problems in the secondary for the opposition. It bodes asking the ever puzzling question: Does a QB make a receiver great? Or Is a QB great because of the receivers around him? Ask McNabb what he thinks about that one.
Defense: The defense, in my opinion, is the reason why the Vikings have been so dominant this year. In the regular season they were the number 2 rushing defense and 6th in overall yards per game. You can attribute those numbers thanks to the front 4; held down by Ray Edwards, Pat and Kevin Williams, and my favorite, Jared Allen. This defense has a swagger and after last weekend’s performance when they stopped Dallas’ hot streak, it is hard to root against this unit. One weakness? Secondary. 19th against the pass during the season. Their only saving grace was the fact that they led the league in sacks with 48, again a nod to their focus on trench warfare.
Special Teams: Ryan Longwell, good dome kicker that doesn’t have to worry about the elements this week. 26/28 during the regular season; 2/2 last week. I’m sure the only way you hear about him is if he misses the kick to win the game for the Vikings. The punt game: who cares? If a wry punt is the biggest play in this game, everyone will be very disappointed.
The Vikings win this game if…: They make Brees uneasy in the pocket. Plain and simple. I don’t see the Saints run game posing much of a threat to the Vikings, but every time Brees drops back to pass it could be 6. A hurried throw is just as good as a sack in my book and could render the Saints potent offense worthless. They do that and the offense will have their way with the Saints D and Minnesota will go back to the SuperBowl for the first time since 1977.
Prediction: It’s a close call, but in the end I will have to go with the Saints. What is one, reoccurring fact about all of Brett Favre’s playoff teams? He is the reason why they lose. In his last 12 postseason games as a Packer, his passer rating averaged out to a 77.8. There is no margin for error in this game either; 2 wasted possessions in a row could be all the momentum that Brees and Saints need to take over. 28-17 Saints move on to Miami and Brett Favre pisses us off for an entire offseason.
Oh, and Colts win a boring 21-10 game in the first matchup. I just have a feeling about that one being a less than stellar Peyton Manning performance.
If the Vikings do win, this is why: