Harrison Smith took the bait. Sort of.
The Vikings’ starting free safety was surveying this year’s NFL playoff field when he was asked if he felt the Vikings were “close” to joining the party a year from now. He said yes, but …
“I do think we are close to those teams,” he said. “But at the same time, I don’t know if that’s saying a lot.
“In this league, it’s always close. We’re all close. The good teams, the teams that are always in the playoffs and fighting for the Super Bowl are the teams that make enough plays to win those close games.”
The Vikings finished 7-9. They were third in the NFC North and 10th in the conference, four spots out of the playoff field. They went 1-5 in games against teams that made the playoffs. The beat Carolina 31-13 and had losses by three points to Green Bay and two points at Detroit.
“It’s good to know we could compete and that we made improvements this year,” Smith said. “But almost every game in the NFL is some sort of two-minute situation at the end of the half or at the end of the game.
“So to say you’re close, yeah, that’s great. But that’s still a big area to have to make up when you’re sitting where we’re sitting.”
The wild-card playoff games are Saturday and Sunday. Before the Vikings packed up and scattered on Monday, we asked 10 of them for a pick to win the Super Bowl. Smith was the only one to offer a pick.
“I like Seattle and New England to play,” Smith said. “And I think New England will win. Home-field advantage is going to be big. Seattle getting that advantage over Green Bay was absolutely huge.”
Defensive end Corey Wootton picked “Seattle or Green Bay” to win it all. The other eight players couldn’t be coaxed into picking a team.
Some said they just haven’t followed the other teams closely enough to make a prediction. Others were like cornerback Captain Munnerlyn. Just tired from a long season.
“Frankly,” Munnerlyn said, “I really don’t care who wins the Super Bowl.”