The Vikings are on a seven-game winning streak and are facing the champs of the NFC from last season who, after starting the season with an epic Super Bowl hangover, seem to be finally back to the same form that got them (nearly) to the promised land last season. Despite the fact that the Vikings are currently holding onto the second seed in the NFC, have only lost two games (both of which came after they suffered devastating losses at the QB and RB positions), basically, no one on the national level is picking the Vikings to beat the Falcons.
Now, this is a Vikings team that both the players and the head coach have admitted revel in negative press. They play better with a chip on their collective shoulder than they do when they’re expected to win (that season opener in San Francisco back in 2015 sticks out), that much is true, but at the same time as a fan and writer of the team it bothers me that this team still isn’t getting it’s just due. Now, I totally understand that none of that actually matters, but as someone whose life and emotional well-being basically revolves around the Purple and Gold, I’d love to see the Vikings absolutely dismantle the Falcons in Atlanta to show the rest of the country that Zimmer and company mean business.
That’s not to say that the Falcons aren’t a great team. They are. They’ve got the same team that they had last year and while some picked them to fall apart after they… Fell apart in the Super Bowl (in historical fashion) this season, it does appear that they’ve gotten themselves together and are attempting to catch the New Orleans Saints in the NFC South. So, with all of that in mind, this game is HUGE in terms of what it means for playoff positioning in the NFC, what it means for the Vikings (or Falcons) confidence moving forward and also, and most importantly, what it means for me and the sort of week I’m going to have.
So, let’s go Vikes! The game will really come down to the Vikings defense and specifically whether or not they can shut down the Falcons run game and really whether or not Xavier Rhodes can bounce back from the “bad” game he had against the Lions and shut down Julio Jones who is coming off of a 250 yard game last week. The last time these two teams met (in 2015), Rhodes held Jones to just 56 yards on the day and the Vikings won 20-10. While past games don’t necessarily mean anything in this league, the fact that the two players are familiar with one another and that Rhodes (who is a lot better than he was in 2015) has shut Jones down before, does mean something.
The Falcons are being described with adjectives like “Red-Hot” as they’ve scored an average of 28 points the past few weeks, but you could say the same thing about the Vikings as they’ve averaged, you know, a win every week for the past seven weeks against teams like the Rams (who were also “RED HOT” at the time). So, my money/cryptocurrency is on the Vikings pulling this one out, but that doesn’t mean I’m confident about it. I’m actually quite nervous, as I can’t help but feel like there’s another shoe about to drop at some point (as is the Vikings way, historically). While my strange optimistic pessimism has been proven wrong week after week, I still can’t help but feel that something bad is going to happen. That’s what happens when you’ve been conditioned to get your heart broken whenever the team gets your hopes up, so while this Vikings team continue to defy all the nay-sayers and even logic (this is our third string QB throwing a ball to an undrafted WR from Mankato!) they are still facing the weight that comes from the fans like me who have all of those expectations, excitement, and fear. So far, they’ve been chipping away at that and thus are showing that they’re actually a special team… So, if they can beat the Falcons tomorrow they’ll go along way towards proving that.
No pressure, fellas.