Vikes could mount a run...otherwise hope for 6-10
Well fans, the Vikes are refusing to allow this season to sink beneath the waves, but only just, as the dragon ship barely answers her helm. After last week's drubbing at Lambeau she threatened to turn sideways and roll, but following Sunday's visit from the Raiders, seems to be making way once again.
She'll need to do better than that in order to survive next week's engagement with the Giants out in the Meadowlands, traditionally a killing floor for the Purple, to abandon the nautical metaphor. New York has just the medicine that gags the Vikes, a ferocious pass rush such as has rendered young Tarvaris Jackson hors de combat many times already, though his career is barely started.
Last Sunday against the Lions Michael Strahan piled up three sacks, and his counterpart on the right, Osi Umenyiora, is just the sort of speedy outside pass rusher that manages to flank Mt. McKinnie in plenty of time to catch T.J. deep in thought. Next week's game plan had better employ plenty of screens and other chicanery to slow down that outside rush. If the Giants start out by stopping the Vikes running game in its tracks, there will be a long afternoon in store for them and their fans as well.
At least against the Raiders, Minnesota showed why it leads the league in rushing, no matter who gets the ball. As they did against the Chargers, the Vikes O-line moved the opponents around at will, and barely needed the improved performance from Jackson to get the win. Eliminate all those turnovers, and the Oakland game would have been a laugher, although the Vikes pass defense is still far worse than suspect. Eli Manning, if he's on his game, will pick it apart much more deftly than Daunte Culpepper, who helped himself to 344 yards from a typically generous defensive backfield. Hopefully Antoine Winfield can play the whole game next week.
If the Vikes follow form, they are due for a stinker in New York, having played well last Sunday. But they have showed themselves capable of surprising the fans, so there is always cause for hope. Peeking ahead on the schedule, one can study out a not entirely unreasonable hope that Minnesota could mount a run on the playoffs. The only opponent remaining with a winning record is the Lions, who must come to the Hump, and the Vikes came within a 49 yard field goal of beating them in Detroit.
Such a run would require continued improvement from Tarvaris Jackson as well as a shored up pass defense. Without that, the Purple will be lucky to break even these last six games, which would probably save the Chiller's job and buy T.J. another look next year. If we can't get the run, I would prefer the Vikes finish 6-10, which would get us a new coach and QB instead.