So, you’re probably feeling pretty good right now. You survived the Mayan calendar end-of-the world scare, watched the Vikings manhandle the Texans 23-6 in their most meaningful December win in recent memory, and enjoyed Christmas with your family and friends. Peace on earth, goodwill towards men…right? Well here’s a little mood buster from your Winona Post Vikings columnist and prognosticator, Patrick “Nostradamus” Marek.
You might not want to get rid of the bottled water, cans of spam, and firearms you saved up for the end times quite yet.
Let’s catch a ride with the Ghost of Christmas Past and travel back to this year’s Vikings View season preview column. It was titled “Be Careful what you Wish for,” and was a cautionary tale that predicted a Vikings season that featured nine wins, over 2,000 yards for Adrian Peterson, and a trip to the Super Bowl. It was pretty outlandish stuff for a team that finished 3-13 in a 2011 season, which culminated in a devastating knee injury to its star running back. No other columnist in the country predicted those lofty numbers for the Vikings and Peterson. I’d be feeling pretty cocky if the story didn’t end with Minnesota winning its first Super Bowl and Jesus appearing from behind a cloud. Now I’m just hoping I don’t win the Trifecta.
For Minnesota fans, our relationship with the Vikings has always been a “good news/bad news” story. Hopefully, this is the season where the good news comes at the end. The team started the year with a rookie kicker, inconsistent quarterback, lackluster coach, and an untried defense stocked with picks from the last draft. This was going to be a rebuilding year, and any bright spots and success were supposed to be a bonus and promise for the future. In other words, there was no way that the 2012 version of the Vikings was going to be good enough to get our hopes up, and then break our hearts.
Somebody forgot to tell the Vikings players and General Manager Rick Spielman that this was supposed to be a rebuilding year. Spielman did a masterful job in the draft, and picked players that made an immediate positive impact on the team. Matt Kalil sealed up Christian Ponder’s blind side at left tackle, Harrison Smith and Josh Robinson added speed, enthusiasm and sure tackling to the secondary, and Blair Walsh might just be the best 6th-round pick in Vikings history.
Adrian Peterson has a good chance of winning the league’s MVP award if the Vikings beat the Packers next week and make it to the playoffs. However, rookie kicker Blair Walsh should get equal credit for the team’s amazing turnaround. His 56-yard field goal against the Texans was one for the record books. He tied Paul Edinger for the longest field goal in team history, and also shattered the NFL record for the most field goals (nine) of over 50 yards in a season. Amazingly, Walsh hasn’t missed from over 50 yards this year. His strong leg has produced more touchbacks than any other kicker who has worn the purple, and the best may be yet to come. Reportedly, Walsh regularly hits field goals from 70 yards and beyond in practice.
The biggest reason the team has tripled its win total from last year, and is playing the Packers for a playoff berth, is that this is the best Vikings defense in years. Aaron Rodgers better book an appointment with his chiropractor for next Monday morning, because he is going to take some vicious hits. The Vikings consistently apply pressure while just rushing their front four, and when they do dial up a blitz, the results are often devastating. The Texans came into the game with the league’s third leading offense, averaging over 35 points a game. They were limited to ten points, their lowest output since Matt Schaub became their quarterback. The Vikings also held the Texans to season lows in total yards (187), rushing yards (34 on 16 carries), and third-down conversions (1-for-11). World class running back and consensus number one Fantasy draft pick Arian Foster only gained 15 yards on 10 carries. This is a defense that is young, smart, and quick to the ball, and they are getting better every week.
So, if you’re nervous as the Vikes approach their crucial border battle with the Packers next Sunday with everything on the line, just keep repeating: “It’s not the end of the world. It’s just Vikings football.”