The Vikings’ season is essentially over after falling to 1-5 following Sunday’s debacle against the Atlanta Falcons. Because of that, Vikings fans probably aren’t too excited to be tuning in to this team week after week.
With Big Ten football starting up, that should at least make half the weekend enjoyable to watch. However, Sunday is still going to leave a bad taste in your mouth, and that is the bitter taste that will last all throughout the work week.
The Unpopular Solution
So here’s my sales pitch. Or maybe it’s my preview to the latest ESPN 30 for 30 documentary. If that’s the case, cue the music.
What if I told you that you didn’t have to deal with this pain anymore? That a Minnesota sports fan could make it through the week happy? What if I told you, you don’t have to live and die with Kirk Cousins? That the Vikings defense doesn’t have to be your defense? What if I told you, you could cheer for any NFL team that you wanted? That it didn’t matter where they actually played their home games on Sunday? What if I told you that you could be a bandwagon fan for the rest of the 2020 season?
That’s right. If you’re as sick of watching this Vikings team as I am, there’s good news for you. You probably don’t write about this team, so you don’t actually have to watch them! Why not, just for this season, start watching and cheering for someone else that actually has a competent defense, and the quarterback doesn’t seemingly close his eyes every time he throws the ball?
I know bandwagon fans get knocked a lot, but come on, it’s 2020. You deserve at least a little happiness before this year ends. Besides, the rest of the NFL will understand as soon as you say that you are a Vikings fan. It’s also the perfect week to practice your bandwagon abilities with the Vikings on bye for week seven.
So, now that this introduction has become entirely too long, let’s talk about three teams that Vikings fans can feel comfortable cheering on to the Super Bowl for the rest of the 2020 season.
Kansas City Chiefs- The Contender
If you want to bandwagon for an amazing team with a great chance to win the Super Bowl, the Chiefs are the way to go. The offense is fun and high flying, and you will always be on the edge of your seat watching Patrick Mahomes fling the ball to his cheetah-like receivers. Alongside Mahomes they also have the triple threat of Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Darrel Williams, and now Le’veon Bell in the backfield, so this team is the sure favorite to lift the Lombardi trophy again.
You might find yourself avoiding the Chiefs because you get a dirty, cheap feeling from cheering for such a powerhouse team, but what if you knew that a win for the Chiefs, is strangely a win for Minnesota as well? As you may know, the Chiefs have former Minnesota Gopher, Damien Wilson, on the roster.
Wilson is a great underdog who began his collegiate career at Alcorn State University, but transferred to a junior college after his freshman year. After a year at Jones County Junior College, Wilson then transferred again to Minnesota before the 2013 season.
In his two years at Minnesota, he led the team in tackles and was a key part in the Gophers’ first back-to-back winning seasons since 2002-03 and Texas Bowl and Citrus Bowl appearances. Wilson started every game of last year’s championship season, and he has started every game of this campaign as well.
Not only do the Chiefs have a former University of Minnesota linebacker, but believe it or not, star quarterback Patrick Mahomes also has a connection to the state of Minnesota. His father, Pat Mahomes, was an MLB pitcher from 1992-2003, and he was picked by the Minnesota Twins in the 1988 draft. He made his MLB debut for the Twins in 1992, and he pitched in Minnesota for nearly four seasons before being traded to the Red Sox in August 1996.
So, if you ever feel like you’re cheating the system by rooting for the Chiefs, just remember you’re really rooting for the Gophers and the Twins.
Arizona Cardinals- The Cinderella
As of this week, the Cardinals are the second wild card team in the NFC, and they would play the Buccaneers if the season ended today. Assuming the Seahawks hold on and win the division, Arizona is a really fun wild card upset pick.
Besides, who doesn’t want an opportunity to root against either Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers? It is very likely that Arizona would face one of them in the wild card round, and if it is Green Bay, we just saw on Monday night what happens when the Cardinals play bad defenses.
And again, there are connections to Minnesota. If it weren’t for a Minnesota waiver, the Vikings wouldn’t have Ifeadi Odenigbo right now, a young defensive lineman with great upside. A nice thank you from the casual Vikings fan would be to root for them to make a deep run into the playoffs.
Not only that, but there are more former Gophers in Arizona. De’Vondre Campbell, another underdog story that began his collegiate career in community college, is a starting linebacker for the Cardinals, and he was another piece of those back-to-back winning 2013 and 2014 seasons I mentioned earlier. Along with Campbell, Maxx Williams is a tight end on the Cardinals roster.
Williams, another 2013 and 2014 player, totaled 986 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns in his two years with the Gophers. He was drafted in the second round of the 2015 draft by the Baltimore Ravens and signed with the Cardinals in 2019. He is currently on IR with an ankle injury, but assuming he comes back later this season, it would be cool to see him get some playoff reps alongside Campbell.
Pittsburgh Steelers- The Work Horse
Pittsburgh is a very steady team that consistently wins, but they always seem to have to work for their wins. Nothing is really certain. We’ve seen that this year already with every game outside of the most recent Cleveland win being decided by ten points or fewer. There’s always going to be questions around this team, but they more than likely are going to find a way to persevere.
The Steelers’ biggest connection to the Vikings has to be through head coach Mike Tomlin, who really made a name for himself in Brad Childress’ system as defensive coordinator in 2006. The Vikings ended that season with the eighth best defense, and Tomlin then went on to become the Steelers head coach in 2007 where he has been ever since.
They have a history of success, but the Steelers are on a revenge tour after a disappointing season last year which included Ben Roethlisberger’s season ending injury. They also haven’t won a Super Bowl since 2008, so it’s not like they are constantly winning titles like those Boston teams that everybody hates.
Finally, they have a great knack for developing their own players instead of using money and power to bring in huge free agents. We’ve seen this in the emergence of former stars Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, and Le’Veon Bell, and now in current players like JuJu Smith-Schuster, Chase Claypool, and James Conner. If you want a team that is going to get good results but still give you butterflies while doing it, this is the team for you.
Obviously, none of these teams winning would feel anywhere near as good as a Vikings Super Bowl. Hell, you might still be mad at me for even suggesting that Vikings’ fans abandon ship to root for another team this year. You might want to just get through this year of pain and hope for next year. After all, you are a Vikings fan, and all you’ve ever known when it comes to the NFL experience is pain.