Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I don't mean to alarm anyone...

But here's what happened the last time the Vikings started 6-0.

That won't happen again, of course.

We play the Cardinals in week 13, not week 17. And Nate Poole, may he burn in whatever hell he fears, hasn't played in the NFL since 2005. And there's no more push-out rule. And we have the most fun-loving quarterback in the league, who would never let his defense fall asleep like that.

(The guy's been great, I'll admit. But three hours of Dan Dierdorf praising him is more than anyone should be subjected to. Even Nate Poole.)

The 2004 version of the Vikings fared about the same, getting off to a 5-1 start before going into a nosedive and finishing the season 8-8. Beating the Packers at Lambeau Field in the playoffs was sweet, but it was still another case of the Vikings being just good enough to avoid embarrassment, but not enough to be actually good -- a hallmark of the Mike Tice ".500 and out" regime. In total, the 2003-04 Vikings were 11-1 through week 6 and 6-14 after.

Could they face a similar fate this season? We all want to say "of course not" because all we see is a very good team now and can't imagine a 3-7-like finish. But we felt the same way in 2003 and 2004, and every team that starts out well (like this one and this one) can't possibly fathom the ridiculous notion that they'll collapse down the stretch. "All that matters is wins," they'll say, no matter how ugly the wins or how weak the opposition, only to earn their "overrated" label in the second half.

(That is, by the way, a corollary of my NFL Predictions Rule. In addition to "Always pick four new division winners every year," I espouse "At the midway point, a team at 6-2 or better will fade down the stretch and finish at 9-7 or so." Last year, I picked the Redskins, the year before the Lions. The Broncos are looking mighty tempting this year.)

The questionable play of the defense the last few weeks is a major red flag that teams quarterbacked by Ben Roethlisberger, Jay Cutler, Kurt Warner, and Eli Manning might exploit better than teams quarterbacked by Shaun Hill, Kyle Boller, Brady Quinn, and Matthew Stafford did. And then there's Aaron Rodgers -- wait, I think Jared Allen just sacked him again. Still, at this point, I think even JaMarcus Russell could complete half his passes for 150 yards against us. And that's saying something.

In short, the Vikings are ripe for a fall. (And please don't tell me it won't happen because you-know-who is in purple. Remember the Jets last year?) With two tough road games on the slate next, we could be in for a little disappointment after a hot start, though I'll admit I would have been overjoyed to be 6-2 going into the bye. The second-half schedule looks reasonably soft, but that 2003 team lost to four teams with 4-12 records, so anything is possible. I really hope they won't be "that team," but after years like 2003, 2004 (not to mention 1996 and 1997), I won't truly feel good about our record until we've played 16 games.

Then Gary Anderson can miss a field goal in overtime in the NFC Championship Game.

1 comment:

Spec7ral said...

Why do you bring back all the painful memories. I am sad now.