The Vikings were 6-2, winners of four consecutive games, going into their bye week. Four of their first five coming out of the bye were on the road against opponents ranging from decent to very good, while the other was at home against the surprising Rams.
I figured if the Vikings made it through the stretch with a 3-2 record, they would be ecstatic. Even 2-3 seemed an acceptable fate for a playoff berth.
Four games into that stretch, they are 4-0 — with the toughest win earned Sunday at Atlanta by a 14-9 score. That brings their record this season to 10-2.
This being the Vikings, I posed a question on Twitter immediately after the win, asking fans if the mounting win streak made them feel 1) emboldened or 2) terrified? In the early returns of the first several hundred votes, terrified was winning by a 2-to-1 margin.
This is how a fan base operates after losing four Super Bowls early and then suffering numerous gut punches in the past 40 years just trying to get back for another try.
Three things in particular seem to be concerning fans. Sure, they love winning, but …
• Case Keenum keeps playing brilliantly at quarterback, but how long will it last? Keenum has keyed all eight of these wins during the streak. He’s played particularly well since the bye. So that’s a half-season worth of credible play and a quarter-season worth of excellent play.
His track record suggests this could all come to a halt at any moment. His play suggests Keenum has found a groove and system that fits his skill set. In the playoffs, he undoubtedly would be matched against more accomplished quarterbacks. What if it all evaporates at the wrong time?
• The Vikings have a commanding four-game lead over Detroit and Green Bay in the NFC North. But the Packers kept their vague wild-card hopes alive with an overtime win over Tampa Bay on Sunday. They face Cleveland next week and could get Aaron Rodgers back the next week against Carolina. Rodgers could play, too, the following week against the Vikings at Lambeau Field.
A healthy Rodgers disrupting the Vikings’ march to a first-round bye and/or sneaking into the playoffs as the final wild card is a frightening prospect, especially when considering he will want revenge after being injured against the Vikings earlier this season.
• The Super Bowl, if you hadn’t noticed, is in Minneapolis this year. No team, as you surely have heard by now, has played a Super Bowl in its home stadium.
That would be a tremendous advantage for the Vikings if they were able to advance through the NFC playoffs and qualify. There are those who would say it would be the most Vikings thing ever to come up just short of reaching the Super Bowl or, worse, lose a home Super Bowl. Others would say it takes a special circumstance to break a curse.
Regardless of how you feel, if you follow the Vikings you are feeling something at this point. This team can’t be ignored. This season is real.
The best advice is probably to just enjoy it as best you can. Winning always beats the alternative.