The Super Bowl at U.S. Bank Stadium is exactly one month away. I’ve already started thinking about how crazy Minneapolis is going to be if the Vikings make it through the NFC field to host the game. I’ve also started to think about just how much of an afterthought this game will be to a lot of Vikings fans if Feb. 4 arrives and the Vikings aren’t playing.
In some ways, the Vikings’ great season has set up an all-or-nothing proposition: Either this is the greatest party ever or the biggest buzzkill (at least for Minnesotans. The Super Bowl parties will carry on, and the tourists will still have fun). Strangely enough, I don’t think it would feel this way had the Vikings gone, say, 7-9 and had no real chance at the playoffs.
That’s not a complaint — just an observation. The potential upside outweighs the potential downside.
But let’s not get too carried away with what-if scenarios. The Vikings don’t even play again for 10 days. What are you going to do with that down time as we head toward the big game? Here are some ideas and key dates, with an assist going to Star Tribune colleague Chris Carr:
*Have a fantasy football playoff draft: You’re going to need to do this soon. Like, in the next 36 hours. But if you want to ensure you will stay interested in the playoffs regardless of who is playing, this is a good way to do it.
*Saturday-Sunday Wild Card round: Four games. Two days. It’s Titans/Chiefs and Falcons/Rams on Saturday, then Bills/Jaguars and Panthers/Saints on Sunday. If the Rams win Saturday, they will be the Vikings’ opponent in the division round. If the Falcons win, the Vikings will play the Panthers/Saints winner.
*Monday: The analyzing of and agonizing over the Vikings’ opponent can be done in earnest. Minnesota played each of the 3-6 seeds during the regular season, going 3-1 (losing only to Carolina). The Vikings will be favored to win at home in the division round no matter what, but each of their potential opponents is a threat.
*Tuesday: Listen to the Access Vikings podcast, with the latest episode coming out Tuesday. Download it. Subscribe. Love it.
*Wednesday: Vote for the top-10 all-time greatest Vikings. I filled out my top 10, and it was close to impossible. You don’t realize how many great players this organization has truly had until you realize who doesn’t make the cut (and who does).
*Thursday: Pick up a good old fashioned print copy of the Star Tribune, or get yourself an online subscription. *SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION ALERT*. Thursday’s section should be filled with tons of great Vikings content, since Wednesday is typically a big day for Vikings media access.
*Friday: Try to relax. Rest. There is a big weekend ahead.
*Saturday-Sunday: Here it is, the division round. But … you have to wait through the other three games before the Vikings play the late game Sunday. Cruel? Sure, but there’s nothing you can do about it. The Eagles play the early game Saturday (3:35 p.m.), so you’ll know right away who the Vikings would face — and where — if Minnesota manages to win Sunday. Saturday night is the Patriots game, Sunday at noon is the Steelers game and then … finally … it’s the Vikings at 3:40.
I’ll stop there. Everything from this point forward for a lot of you will be determined by what happens between 3:40 and 7 p.m. on Jan. 14 at U.S. Bank Stadium. Suffice to say there will be TONS of Super Bowl related activities as Feb. 4 gets closer.
It’s only a month away.