Louis Villaume Logo


Louis Villaume

Hamel, Minn.

Villaume: Vikings Hope to Join Mile High Club

Mile High in Denver is a tough place to visit. Winning there is quite difficult. In a short, independent research* the Buffalo Bills and Oakland Raiders were found to have winning records there, and that is all. It is an exclusive club those NFL teams who win more than they lose in Denver. 

Minnesota can join this club on Sunday.

The Vikings hold a 7-6-0 edge in the overall series. The last two meetings the Broncos have won. The games in Denver since 1972 have been unusually close. At Mile High and its' replacement, Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium, five of the six games have been decided by a field goal or less. Only a 1984 blowout loss tarnishes a history of tense games. 

This Sunday will mark the seventh game in the rivalry played at Mile High Stadium. The Vikings' record stands 3-3-0 as the visitor. 

Minnesota can start their own Mile High Club of NFC teams with winning records in Denver. They would be alone.

It will not be easy. The Broncos have a smothering defense that has held its' first three opponents to 35 points. Teams average less than 300 yards per game, and if not for Jamaal Charles' 149 rushing yards week two, Denver could be first in pass and run defense. As it is, they are first overall in defense.

The Ravens' Justin Forsett was held to 43 yards in 14 carries in a week one win over Baltimore by a 19-13 margin. The Broncos won that game without scoring a touchdown on offense. Joe Flacco was held to 134 yards passing.

The Broncos beat the Chiefs week two 31-24, as their defense scored for the 2nd consecutive game. Alex Smith was held to 212 yards passing for Kansas City. Denver came back from a multiple-digit deficit which included two touchdowns in the last minute.

Week three the Broncos handled the Lions in a 24-12 win. While Matthew Stafford benefited from some late game stat padding, the Lions running game amassed 28 yards in 19 carries. 

A great defense.

But before anyone hands the Vince Lombardi trophy off to Gary Kubiak prematurely it should be noted there are a few things rotten in the state of Colorado. Fantasy owners will concur that C.J. Anderson, the latest in a long line of successful Broncos running backs, is anything but. Presently he is averaging 2.0 yards per carry, with 37 attempts for 74 yards. 

Peyton Manning has had a rough start, at least until last week when they abandoned snapping from under center. Instead, Denver has turned to the "pistol" formation, kind of a small "shotgun" formation, if you will. Still, the Lions hit Manning eight times, though they only managed one sack. The reason for this was that Denver's offensive line suffered a few injuries. Left tackle Ty Sambraillo and right guard Louis Vasquez were both limited in playing time due to injuries.

The Broncos offense has not been overly impressive to date.

Minnesota brings in the league's number one rusher in Adrian Peterson. And they bring young Teddy Bridgewater for his first visit to Mile High. AP did play here once before, winning the rushing title at the end of the 2007 season (though he had only 36 yards). 

The Broncos defense has already 10 takeaways and 11 sacks. They will try and disrupt Bridgewater with rushes and aggressive tackling. Certainly they will focus on stopping Peterson, which would force Teddy to throw against an opportunistic defense.

An optimistic Purple fan might point to Charles' big game on the ground week two and suggest Minnesota can do the same. They may also point to the lack of running game the Broncos possess. Further, they could point to an offensive line that is banged up and failed to protect their talented, but aging quarterback. Peyton Manning in the pistol was more for protection than for strategy.

A pessimistic fan would point to a swarming defense, and an unsure young quarterback and say this game is over before it started.

I say it is time to join the Mile High Club.

Or make up our own...


Vikings: Return to Winning Football

Since 2010 Minnesota has had only one winning season (2012). In the last five years heading into 2015 our combined record is 31-49-0. That is under a .400 winning percentage. 

We have sucked.

But the slump is really much greater than that. If the Vikings were a stock to invest in, one would notice we have been in a downward trend since the year 2000. In the last fourteen years we have had only three double-digit win seasons. And in only the 2009 Brett Favre led season have we won more than ten games. 

When comparing this to the franchise's success in the 1968-2000 run, it is clear evidence we have been stagnant for most of the 2000s. For example, from 1969 to 1976 under coach Bud Grant the Vikings won double digit games in seven of the eight seasons... and they only played fourteen games!

The franchise hit a rough slide similar to the present during the 1981-1986 era, with only a strike-shortened playoff visit season in 1982. However, in four of the five season where Minnesota missed the playoffs they had seven or more wins. Only 1984 and the three win season that festered in Pecos River under the guidance of Les Steckel a true embarrassment.

From 1987's strike shortened season until the 2000 season Minnesota only missed the playoffs three times. The 1990-91 stretch cost Jerry Burns his head coaching job. The 1995 season the only other, an eight win season that fell short.

The 90s brought back winning football. After back-to-back seasons without the playoffs, Denny Green took over for Jerry Burns. The Vikings made the playoffs in eight of the next nine seasons, including five double-digit win seasons highlighted by the 15-1 season of 1998. If Green could have found a way to win in the playoffs, he might still be our coach today.

But someone or something shot the Sheriff. It happened in an NFC Championship game I fail to forget.

After the success of the 1990s, the Vikings entered another swoon in their history. From 2001-2007 Minnesota was troubled. In those seven years Minnesota had only one playoff visit (2004) and that was an eight-win season. Three of those seven seasons Minnesota failed to win more than six games.

But then Brett Favre was infused into the Vikings 'stock' in order to make it appear stronger than it was. Minnesota was good enough to sneak into the playoffs in 2008 under Brad Childress. When Favre replaced Tarvaris Jackson and Gus Frerotte in 2009, the days of glory were revisited. That twelve win season was the most wins since the 1998 team.

From there it has been bleak. And considering this has been an era where Minnesota owned one of the most productive running backs in the history of the NFL, it appears awful. Leslie Frazier did little to right the ship in his tenure, the five-win 2013 season being the impetus for his demise.

Mike Zimmer, however, has the team trending up. After a 7-9 first season, the Vikings appear ready to visit the land of winning football. This game vs. San Diego significant in that the last time Minnesota had a winning record was the first week of Zimmer's career in 2014. If Minnesota prevails at TCF Bank today their 2-1 record will bring hope anew.

Is it time to 'buy in' to Vikings' football?

As your fan broker, I say it is.