This is offered in the spirit of the 2019 Vikings, as the No. 6 seed in the six-team NFC playoffs, having a chance to make a road run. The only previous collection of Vikings to make such a run was the 1987 team, as the No. 5 seed in the five-team NFC playoffs.
The ’87 Vikings routed New Orleans 44-10 in the wild-card game in the Superdome, then shocked No. 1 seed San Francisco 36-24 in Candlestick Park. The improbable attempt at a Super Bowl ended with a 17-10 loss to Washington in the NFC Championship Game.
Two weeks later, quarterback Doug Williams and the Redskins destroyed Denver 42-10 in the Super Bowl in San Diego.
So, if Darrin Nelson can gather in that pass from Wade Wilson at the goal line in RFK Stadium, and the Vikings send it to overtime at 17-all, and Chuck Nelson kicks a walk-off field goal, the Purple has its Super Bowl victory and we don’t have to whine about it anymore, right?
Didn’t happen. We’re still whining. And the task here is to judge as to whether these Vikings are more equipped in personnel to pull off a 3-0 playoff road run than were Jerry Burns’ January warriors 32 years ago.
1987-Wade Wilson (taking over for Tommy Kramer early in the wild-card game and leading the upset charge).
As hot as was Wilson in teaming with Anthony Carter, the call is: Slight edge-1987.
1987-Darrin Nelson, Alfred Anderson, Rick Fenney.
2019-Dalvin Cook, Alex Mattison, C.J. Ham.
If Cook is healthy: Strong edge-2019.
1987-Anthony Carter, Leo Lewis, Hassan Jones.
2019-Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Bisi Johnson.
Carter was out of his mind in wins at New Orleans and San Francisco. I also rate him as Vikings’ third best receiver of all-time, behind Randy Moss and Cris Carter.
Diggs is excellent and, if Thielen is full speed, we’ll call it this, based on depth: Tie.
1987-Steve Jordan, Carl Hilton.
2019-Kyle Rudolph, Irv Smith Jr.
Jordan best-ever Vikings tight end. Slight edge-1987.
1987 (from left)-Gary Zimmerman (Hall of Fame), David Huffman, Kirk Lowdermilk, Greg Koch, Tim Irwin.
2019-Riley Reiff, Pat Elflein, Garrett Bradbury, Josh Kline, Bryan O’Neill.
Had to be reminded that Koch was a Dolphins veteran and holdout the Vikes obtained for two draft choices after strike ended. Blowout-1987.
1987-Doug Martin, Henry Thomas, Keith Millard, Chris Doleman, Stafford Mays.
2019-Danielle Hunter, Linval Joseph, Shamir Stephen, Everson Griffin, Ifeadi Ogenigbo.
Hunter is spectacular and the discovery of Ogenigbo has closed the gap. Still, Millard and Doleman were monsters and Thomas was an outstanding rookie nose tackle. Solid edge-1987.
1987-Jesse Solomon, Scott Studwell, David Howard.
2019-Eric Wilson, Eric Kendricks, Anthony Barr.
Solomon was a beast that season, Studwell was a Pro Bowler, but Kendricks is all-world right now. Slight edge-2019.
1987-Issaic Holt, Carl Lee, Wymon Henderson, rookie Reggie Rutland (soon thereafter changed name to Najee Mustafa).
2019-Trae Waynes, Xavier Rhodes, Mackensie Alexander, Mike Hughes.
Even though watching Sid Hartman, then a spright 67 (as opposed to his current spright 99), race through the Candlestick press box blurting, “Go, Reggie, go,’’ after the Rutland interception off Joe Montana, remains a highlight of my sports-writing life, I must go this way: Slight edge-2019.
1987-Joey Browner, John Harris.
2019-Harrison Smith, Anthony Harris.
Browner and Smith are equals as best strong safeties in franchise history. I’ll take Anthony over wily veteran John in the Harris competition. Solid edge-2019.
Let’s tally it up.
1987: Blowout-1, Solid-1, Slight-2 (plus a tie).
2019: Strong-1, Solid-1, Slight-2 (plus a tie).
I would call it darn near even, which means the current Vikings have approval to make a wild-card run.