Who dat gonna beat dem Saints?
...the Vikes down in the Big Easy?
Well fans, those are two dominating wins in a row, and the Purple is beginning to take on a fabled quality as rare as the unicorn in these parts – consistency. Some people were heard murmuring about the lack of production from Adrian Peterson and, in fact, his continued carelessness with the ball is disturbing. But the 85 yards he gained Sunday was against a defense heavily overloaded to stop him; consequently Favre passed for 378 yards, and Percy Harvin and Chester Taylor were able to contribute rushing yards for a total of 159. Only the rare team gaining that much on the ground is going to lose, and if its QB is Brett Favre, the opponent will absorb a really painful drubbing.
Something to be noticed about Peterson is that his fumbles tend to occur when he runs wide against a defense concentrated in the box, allowing opponents to penetrate through the line, stand him up before he can turn upfield, and strip him. It is a call to be avoided in certain situations.
But it will take a far better defensive secondary to keep Brett Favre and his versatile corps of receivers from shredding them through the air when they defend the pass so thinly. He does what no Vikes QB has in recent memory, which is hit his receivers in stride coming out of their breaks. That is what makes the so-called West Coast offense so hard to stop, and when you have receivers like Rice, Shiancoe, and Harvin to go over the middle, absorb brutal hits from thuggish safeties and still hang on to the ball, you are going to gain many yards and score lots of points.
On a totally different subject, is the officiating in the NFL goofier and more incomprehensible by the week? Or what? The holding call against Bernard Berrian to nullify Chester Taylor’s TD, (a thing of rare beauty – the Purple has three excellent running backs, counting Harvin), was a Halloween phantom. And the offensive interference call against Shiancoe was a figment of someone’s fevered imagination. Perhaps the referees hope that if they have more to do with the outcomes of their games they can demand a raise.
It is now a foregone conclusion that the Vikes will be in the playoffs with a week off to rest. Then they will likely face the Eagles, with whom their recent history is unfortunate, or the Cheeseheads, whom they have already defeated twice. Common wisdom has it that a third victory against the same opponent in one season is unlikely.
Nevertheless, fairly safe money would be on the Purple to face New Orleans in the NFC championship. The Saints are currently undefeated – did you see them shrug off the Pats Monday night? – which would give them inside track on home field advantage, likely crucial with two teams seeming evenly matched. New Orleans has two semi-tough games left, the Cowboys at home, and Atlanta away. Perhaps they will stumble, but if they do, the Vikes must run the table, with Arizona, Cincinnati, and the Giants coming up, and then prevail in a tie-breaker.
Chances are, the Vikes must play down in the Big Easy, which won’t be easy. At least their history there is one of much, and sometimes improbable success.