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Vikings the Better Team (12/10/2003)
By Patrick Marek

Patrick Marek
I've managed to ignore most of the advice my Dad has given me over the years, although it was amazing how much his IQ increased while I was away at college. He must have been taking secret correspondence courses or something. However, two of his bromides managed to stick with me over the years and are more true today than ever. Don't sit on cold objects when you're outside, and never bet on the Minnesota Vikings.

If you wager on the Vikings to win, they will snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in the most improbable and heartbreaking way possible. If you bet on the Purple and Gold to lose, they will instantly turn into world beaters for a game, and then sink back into mediocrity. You might think that a true Vikings fan would place a small bet against the team every week, ensuring a perfect record and a Super Bowl victory, but that doesn't work either. I tried it during the Les Steckel season.

No, I've learned that when it comes to the Vikings, it's best to keep your money in your pocket. This knowledge served me well...until this week. This was the final week before the playoffs in my fantasy football league, and my team was hanging onto a playoff hope by a thread. It was a must win game, and I started Shaun Alexander against the porous Viking run defense. After all, Seattle had the fourth best offense in the league, and Alexander has a string of 100 yard games to his credit this season. Best of all, the last time Alexander played the Vikings, he ripped them for five touchdowns. After watching Clinton Portis, LeDainian Tomlinson, Ahman Green, and Marshall Faulk shred the Vikings, it was a no-brainer. Alexander was going to carry me to the playoffs.

I should have listened to my Dad. Alexander had a great gain on his first carry of the game, and then had the ball stripped by Nick Rogers. He did manage a touchdown on a goal line plunge in the second half, but he only totaled 56 rushing yards on 14 carries for the game. So much for my playoff hopes.

The Vikings are another matter. If the team, especially the defense, can build on this performance, they have a very good chance of winning two out of their next three games.

It was great to see Ken Irvin's tight coverage and Brian Russell's bone crushing hits. Opportunistic blitzes helped fuel a successful pass rush for one of the first times this season, and of course, the front four did a great job of stopping the run.

As for the offense, it's going to be pretty hard for anybody to rip Daunte Culpepper after his performance in the Vikings 34-7 victory. His three long touchdown bombs were things of beauty, and he was able to burrow for first downs with some key quarterback sneaks. The offensive line gave Michael Bennett room to run, and Daunte time to throw, and was able to pick up the blitz.

So, the playoffs are at hand, right? Don't bet on it. This is a schizophrenic Viking team that is totally capable of losing to the Bears outside on Soldier's Field next week. It will be interesting to see how Daunte and the offense respond to the elements and a suddenly tough Bears defense. The Bears figure to blitz early and often, and turnovers will be the key to victory or defeat.

I'll have plenty of time to watch and analyze, without having to worry about the distraction of the fantasy football playoffs.



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