A Team We Can Believe In
“To the most beautiful moment in life... better than the deed, better than the memory; the moment of anticipation!”
-Jacques, Episode 9 Season 1, “The Simpsons”
The preseason is meaningless. Thankfully it’s finally over. Every one of the season ticket holders can lick their wounds and look forward to the more attractive portion of their ticket package. The roster is set and the schedule has been dissected. The Vikings’ opponents 2007 winning percentage was .551, the toughest in the NFC, so the team has its work cut out for it this year beginning next Monday in Green Bay. With a few key moves during the offseason the Wilfs have made the 2008 squad more competitive in a few key areas. The team was criticized for a weak pass rush. Enter defensive end Jared Allen. To those who pointed to the passing attack, see Bernard Berrian. One thing can be agreed upon, the Minnesota Vikings have fewer excuses this season if the team performs poorly.
With one of the greatest weekends in America close at hand, lets take a quick look ahead at Minnesota's upcoming season through a political lens.
Politics so hot right now, politics.
Barack Obama “Yes We Can” Award to Adrian Peterson. The potential is there. And the excitement is palpatable. The NFC’s leading rusher is a year older and a year hungrier. No, change is not what we’re looking for from Adrian, who set the bar pretty high during his rookie season, but an injury free season would go along way into solidifying AP's place as the best running back in the game.
Bristol Palin "What the Hell Happened?" Award goes to Bryant McKinnie for his role in a February nightclub fight in Miami, an altercation that cost him and the team his services for the first 4 games of season. One can only hope replacement left tackle Artis Hicks can open holes for Adrian Peterson and protect Tarvaris Jackson’s blind side. Hope might be the only strategy we have if the opponent's pass rush runs right through Hicks.
Johnny “Maverick” McCain Award for Outstanding Confidence in a Football Team goes to new defensive end Jared Allen. You can’t turn around these days without hearing from the newest Viking. “The talent here is unbelievable,” he said. “On paper we have one of the best teams in the NFL.” Flanked by Pat and Kevin Williams should make it easier for him to live up to his own hype and keep his “individuality” at bay. I think it’s safe to say every Vikes’ fan is praying that this maverick just sticks to the game plan.
Joe Biden/Sarah Palin Vice Presidential "Do No Harm" Award to second year quarterback Tarvaris Jackson. No one expects Tom-Brady-like numbers from Jackson but a 9:12 TD to interception ratio needs a little tweaking. The turnovers have to go which will hopefully come with Jackson’s second full year at the helm. It’s been said a million times, but for this team to reach its potential he must keep it simple, learn to throw it away and not force the issue, and when in doubt – just give it to 28.
The Rare and Elusive Youth of America "Voting" Award goes to the Minnesota wide receiving core. Just as it’s hard to know why young people don’t vote in this country, it’s difficult to predict how the Vikings’ receivers will perform this year. You’ll find many who will agree that the Vikes’ passing game is the biggest question heading in to this season. Will Sidney Rice make the leap in his second year? Can Bernard Berrian 14.6 yards per career catch be the piece that makes the Vikes’ O hum? These receivers and Tarvaris Jackson are the largest question marks and their play will determine the success (or lack thereof) this season.
Finally, what’s a season preview without a completely biased prediction with little chance of being accurate? The Vikings will win the NFC central with a 11-5 record and win a wild card playoff game before losing their divisional game to the defending champs the NY Giants. Baby steps my friends. Go Vikes!