I confess I missed most of the Tampa Bay game. I can count on one hand the number of Vikings games I have missed in forty years. I constantly remind my wife about the wild-card game she made me miss in 1994. When I was eleven I refused to go to church claiming sickness, and was then told I could not attend the Vikings-Cowboys "Hail Mary" playoff game, which I still attribute to God spiting those who would not take me. I never even watched that game I was so mad. Those two games and maybe a funeral when I was young, that is about it.
So last Sunday I had to do some emergency work thanks to the recent frost. I listened to updates on my friend's satellite radio. The Vikings first half domination did not surprise me. I saw signs of an improved defense from last year right away. Shutting out the Bucs didn't seem unfathomable. Josh Freeman is still learning, Tampa really has no skill receiver, and thier defense was susceptible to a good running game, which we had.
The second half, as bad as it was again, also did not surprise me. We folded against the Chargers in game one. I managed to catch a few glimpses of the television as we mismanaged the clock.In the short few minutes I did watch I just became angry. Working in the drizzle was a better place to be than watching a second second-half destruction.
Meanwhile, the Lions were pounding the Kansas City Chiefs (Or Luck lottery favorites) 48-3. Detroit had squeaked by the Bucs in week one, and in week two took advantage of a team falling harder than my property value. Calvin Johnson added another two touchdown game, Matthew Stafford threw four TDs, and the defense played outstanding.
So Detroit heads into the Dome undefeated and favored in the game against my Vikings. I saw on a CBS site that Minnesota was rated the 30th best team in the NFL. There are more than thirty teams, right? The Chiefs have to be worse than us. We led to playoff contenders in both games by half time. San Diego and Tampa Bay are not Kansas City. Sure we lost, but in both games we in strong contention to win. Maybe we forgot about Adrian Peterson, or our blitzing killed us, or Donovan McNabb struggled, but we also lit up both teams for thirty minutes. We are not the thirtieth best team.
Further, the Lions beat us late in the season last year. Heck, the Tigers owned the Twins this year. Maybe we will never beat another Motown team as long as I live. It is certain the Timberwolves will help in that realm. The Wild, too.
But alas, things are not as they seem. Minnesota will start off strong. Antoine Winfield will do his thing, AP his. Minnesota will get a lead and the fans will return to their supportive loudness. You see, playing underdog at home is fun. When I was wee bit of a gambler I used to look for the home underdog. No, not the fifteen point variety, but the three point ones. A home team good enough to stay close. And that we are.
The Lions will come in with puffed chests. They boast their best team in a very, very long time. But they are still the Lions. And this is the centennial game among two franchises that frankly have not been on the same level. Sorry.
I know what you are thinking. 'What a homer, he is blind to the truth'. But I am not. I know we stunk in the second halves. In those two halves we were the 30th best team. But I know something else, too. I know that Kevin Williams is back. I know that Adrian Peterson is running as strong as ever. I know that Jahvid Best is averaging 3.5 yards a carry. I know we have punished Stafford before.
The Vikings are 0-2, and another loss could start the wheels of change. Certainly the Packers will be formidable all year, and if they fix their defense, a shoe-in for the playoffs. The Bears are a fringe playoff team. If the Lions go to 3-0 people might start expecting them to make the playoffs (outside of Michigan). It is a must win game in September of the NFL. And while Detroit has earned some respect, pounding the Chiefs is not a precursor to the playoffs, rather a rite of passage in 2011.
And win we will on Sunday, mind you. If Leslie Frazier can find a way to field the first half Vikings all game, that is.