As the Vikings spend Sunday like fans, there are three games that fans should be tuned into – all for different reasons.
Game No. 1 — Detroit at Green Bay. This one is going to be a beatdown. Bet the house on it. Brett Favre never lost a home game to the Lions and Aaron Rodgers hasn't either. The Packers haven't had one of those "college non-conference" games in which they pop up five touchdowns and a field goal or two. Detroit is like the homecoming opponent every team wants. Its season ended when Calvin Johnson's sweet catch against the Bears was ruled incomplete. While mathematically still alive, a loss today will all but eliminate the Lions from division title contention. Not only will they be 0-4, but they will be 0-3 against the division. The best they can finish is .500 at that point, which will be enough to lose a tie-breaker – as if it would come to that. It's unfortunate for Detroit, because they're not that far away from being a contender. If the Lions spend the next two drafts picking defense-heavy, the will have the marquee players in place to make a run. The Packers are 14-point favorite. Don't be shocked if they win by 20 or more.
Game No. 2 — Washington at Philadelphia. This game has importance for a couple of reasons. First is the misguided notion that Eagles fans will cheer Donovan McNabb in his return to the Linc. Really? Most Eagles fans are a collection of punks. They have vilified McNabb when he was playing for their team, much less playing for a division rival. Second is the implication that a loss will have. After beating Dallas in Week 1, a loss today will be the ‘Skins' third straight. There will be fingers pointed, which, from the Vikings' perspective is good. Those who know their history know that the Vikings offense is a glove fit for certain quarterbacks. One was Brett Favre. When his time ran out in Green Bay, the Packers knew that he could kick butt running the same offense with the Vikings. They shipped him off to the Jets, where he was in a foreign offense for the first time in his career. He posted an 8-4 record before injuring his biceps tendon, but, in the end, failed with the Jets. The next year, he ended up with the Vikings. McNabb is being asked to adjust to a Redskins offense that Mike Shanahan has devised – not a West Coast Offense he has spent his entire career running. McNabb hasn't signed a contract extension – which many insiders thought was a prerequisite to the Redskins making a trade to get him. Unless the Redskins franchise McNabb next year, he will become a free agent. Déjà vu? Let us be among those to throw out the possibility of McNabb replacing Favre as the Vikings QB in 2011. Just sayin'.
Game No. 3 — Chicago at New York Giants. The Giants are far from a dominant team, but look for them to knock the Bears out of the land of the unbeatens. Simply stated, the Bears are a fraud. The best thing that could have happened to the Vikings was Chicago beating Green Bay. Why? The Packers are a legitimate Super Bowl contender. The Giants aren't an elite team, but they're going to hand the Bears their hats because, unlike their win over the Packers, the Giants won't commit 18 penalties, surrender a special teams touchdown and have a key fumble late in the game to hand Chicago a win.
With their 0-2 start, the Vikings have lost some of the wiggle room they would have had without a loss to Miami. They have likely been forced to sweep the Bears and Packers to win the NFC North for a third straight year. However, if you're going to win your division, you have to take care of business against those teams. The Vikings may be 1-2, but they're 1-0 against the division and have the leaders in their sights. Some fans are spending the bye week panicking because of the slow start. Until the Vikings lose to the Packers or Bears, there is no reason to get nervous. If that happens, climb up on the ledge. Until then, can always hope for the worst to happen to both.
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.
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