Vikings in the Superbowl?
by: Jeremy Green
posted: Wednesday, December 12, 2007
filed under: Minnesota Vikings
I am sure by writing this blog I will put the whammy on the Minnesota Vikings and their playoff chances, but I will give it a try anyways. Going into Week 15, the Vikings control their own playoff destiny. They are the winners of four straight games and might have to win their last three to get into the playoffs as the No. 6 seed in the NFC. Now, I am not a math major, but four plus three is seven, and that seven would make them one of the hottest teams in the NFL come playoff time.
By no means am I ready to compare the Vikings to the Super Bowl XL winner Pittsburgh Steelers, but I am starting to see some similarities other than the same seeding.
Tarvaris Jackson has a QB rating of 106.4 in his last games.
The first thing I would point to with this Vikings team is that they are No. 1 in the NFL in run offense and No. 1 in the NFL in run defense. That is usually a recipe for success in the playoffs. If nothing else it tells you that when the Vikings take the field for their first playoff game, there is a pretty darn good chance they are not going to get blown out.
I also know that the Vikings' first-round playoff game will be in Seattle or in Tampa Bay and both teams are mediocre versus the run. Seattle is currently 14th in run defense and Tampa Bay is 15th. The Vikings have the best offensive line in the NFL and two exceptional RBs in Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor who can frustrate an opposing team. Their ability to control the ball on the ground wears down a defense and frustrates an opposing offense because you just don't get a lot of snaps when you are losing the time of possession battle.
Then, let's say the Vikings were able to advance to the next round. I think they would have a shot against Dallas or Green Bay. Dallas beat Minnesota early in the season, but the Vikings were leading at halftime and uncharacteristically got away from Peterson in the second half, but make no mistake about it, the Vikings had the Cowboys on the ropes. And even though Green Bay has beaten Minnesota twice and whipped them in Lambeau field, this is a different Minnesota team since then. Peterson was injured in that game, and since that game second-year QB Tarvaris Jackson is starting to look like a solid NFL starting QB. Plus, Jackson also did not play in the second meeting against the Packers. Since that abysmal performance by the Vikings in Lambeau field, Jackson is healthy and carrying a QB rating of 106.4 in his last four starts, which are all Vikings wins. Over the last four weeks he has thrown four touchdowns to only two interceptions and is completing 75 percent of his passes.
I went inside the film room this week to break down Jackson and what I saw was a QB that is playing with a lot of confidence right now. I see a QB that is more confident in his reads. In the Detroit game there were five separate occasions where he looked to his first, second and third targets before coming back to his first. That tells me he is much more comfortable reading his progressions. He is doing a much better job of either throwing the ball away or making plays with his feet. Plus, during the win streak he has been able to pick up key first downs with his feet, which gives his offense three more downs and more downs equal more touches for Peterson.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Vikings are so good against the run, teams don't even try to run the ball, which makes their opponents one dimensional on offense. However, the Vikings defense is No. 32 in the NFL against the pass, but that ranking is a little deceiving because teams throw the ball on them more. Plus, the pass defense has been much better of late. They are getting away from the Cover 2 and playing more man coverage with blitz packages up front, which has allowed them to create more turnovers.
I am not saying the Vikings can run the table and make it to Super Bowl XLII because that would be a tough task. What I am saying is that they will make the playoffs. They are going to get there after winning seven straight and they are going to be a bigger threat than the No. 3 Seahawks, No. 4 Buccaneers or the No. 5 Giants. Outside of the few elite teams in the NFL, there is no team in the NFL as dangerous as the 7-6 Vikings.
Music to my ears