The Vikings' next two games might be their easiest back-to-back games of the season. One thing is certain: Their schedule gets more formidable when they return from their bye, so winning now is crucial.
As the Vikings prepare for today's matchup with the Miami Dolphins
, they face an early crossroads of the 2010 season. With the bye week coming in two weeks, the Vikings have home games against Miami and Detroit in the next two weeks.
Win those games and the Vikings will be 2-1 heading into the bye. Lose today to the Dolphins, and they will be guaranteed to be below .500 heading into the off week as other teams create distance between them in the NFC.
Last year, the Vikings stormed out of the gate and got on a roll that carried them for two months. Football is a game of momentum and confidence, and teams (like the Saints last year) have parlayed a strong start into a steamroller season that carries that early momentum into the playoffs. The Vikings did it last year as well and, if there is such a thing as a "must-win" game in Week 2, this may well be it.
The Vikings offense has struggled to get any offensive consistency and a banged up Dolphins defense may be the remedy to the problem. While nobody is hitting the panic button at Winter Park, considering the schedule the Vikings face following their bye week – at the New York Jets
, vs. Dallas, at Green Bay and at New England – winning the next two games are almost essential if the Vikings are looking to win their third straight division title.
has never lost at the Metrodome since joining the Vikings, winning all eight regular-season games and the lone playoff game the Vikings had at home. The Vikings are 5½-point favorites to beat Miami and will likely be an even bigger favorite against the Lions next week. These are two games they are supposed to win. Considering what is coming up on the horizon, it would seem these are two games they have to win.
The website ProFootballTalk.com is reporting that an unnamed team has reached an agreement on a contract with Vincent Jackson. The Chargers have yet to agree to the compensation they will require to trade him. It isn't likely anything will get completed until after today's games. If a key wide receiver were to get injured in today's games, that team may get into the bidding and make a better offer to the Chargers than they are currently working with. The Vikings and Redskins continue to be the two teams most often mentioned as potential trade partners with the Chargers.
If the Chargers are going to trade Jackson, they need to do so by Wednesday in order to get a trade partner to pair up with. If a team agrees to a trade by Wednesday afternoon, Jackson's suspension will be four games. If he isn't traded by Wednesday, he will be forced to sit out six games.
Fifth-year reserve Tony McDaniel is expected to start in place of injured rookie DE Jared Odrick today for the Dolphins.
It would seem that the Vikings hope that an independent spirit hits Minnesota voters in November when they cast their ballots for governor. Tim Horner, an Independence Party candidate for governor quit his job working for the public relations firm hired by the Vikings to help their cause getting a new stadium. Horner will appear outside the Metrodome today prior to kickoff to pitch his version of a Vikings stadium bill that he hopes will drum up support for both the stadium plan and his candidacy.
The Dolphins have a brutal stretch of schedule starting today. Six of their next eight games are against 2009 playoff teams – the Vikings, Jets, Patriots, Packers, Bengals, and Ravens – and the other two are against the Steelers and Titans. Good luck, Dolphins.
The NFL's official website recently ran a story on the two coaches who are the worst clock managers in the league. Andy Reid of the Eagles was said to be hands down the worst clock manager in the league, but Brad Childress, who cut his head-coaching teeth under Reid as the Eagles offensive coordinator, was deemed a close second.
According to the Miami media, the Dolphins may have intentionally limited its use of the Wildcat against the Bills because it didn't want to give filmed looks at the formation as they prepare for the Vikings. The team that brought the Wildcat back to the NFL ran it less than a handful of times against the Bills.
The home team has won the last six meetings between the Vikings and Dolphins. The last time Miami won in Minnesota, the Vikings were still playing at Metropolitan Stadium.
Without the salary cap in place, teams can spend as much or as little as they want to amass talent on the roster. The Redskins, who may push their 2010 salary commitment even higher if they are the team to sign Vincent Jackson, are already locked into $178 million in player payments in 2010. The Cowboys aren't far behind, having committed $166.5 million in player contracts. The reverse is true in Tampa Bay, where the Bucs have only thrown $80 million on player contracts for this season.
Percy Harvin isn't the only NFL player suffering from migraine headaches. Rams defensive tackle Clifton Ryan didn't make the trip to Oakland Saturday because he's been felled with migraine headaches this week.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.