by Mike Marek
Last year wrapped for the Vikings as one of their most improbable seasons in recent memory. This year looks bright as well, with chaos becoming the normal at all of our division opponents’ buildings. The Packers are trying to figure out their front office and defensive coordinator position. The Lions inexplicably are getting rid of Jim Caldwell who was able to get them one game out of the playoffs. If the same situation had played out in Cleveland, he would have been given the keys to the city and been heralded as a war hero. In Detroit, apparently it gets you fired. Chicago came into Minneapolis hoping to escape the year with a shred of dignity.
The Vikings hosted the Bears on Sunday in what was their crowning moment as King of the Northern Division, finishing the year with an impressive 13-3 record including a 5-1 record within the division.
The Bears came out waving a white flag in what turned out to be head coach John Fox’s last game at the helm. Outside a controversial punt return for a touchdown by the Bears, they were never really a threat to the home team. The Vikings manhandled them in terms of ball and clock control. At no point in the game did the outcome ever feel in doubt.
Fueled by Sunday’s victory, the Vikings enter into the postseason with one of two coveted bye weeks in the NFC. During this week off they will be able to take the opportunity to get healthy, and to prepare for their next opponent. Among the contenders, my money is on the Rams punching their ticket to Minnesota for a week 11 rematch.
During the first rendition of the Rams versus Vikings this season, the Vikings handled the Rams 24-7. This also doubled as the first big win for the Vikings during 2017. Since tackling the Rams, it’s been all go for Minnesota. Little has been able to be put in their way that they have not been able to handle, which leads to the inevitable question: what can go wrong? The answer — overconfidence.
In order to succeed, Zimmer needs to continue to drive into his team that they haven’t accomplished anything yet. He has been doing a great job of this at every turn of the season, not allowing his team to become complacent. This type of underdog, chip-on-the-shoulder mentality has been the rallying call for this team the entire season. One needs to look no further than the surprising success of Case Keenum at quarterback to see that this team is built amongst a collection of guys who know they have to work for everything they get in this league.
With a little more grit, work, and luck the Vikings should find themselves among the elite at the end of the year. The stars have aligned to have the Super Bowl land in Minnesota this year, combined with on the weakest NFC playoff fields in recent memory. With these factors in place, the Vikings have moved into the favorite position to be representing the NFC in Minneapolis in February.