One pundit likes the Vikings as his "team of destiny" for 2011, as he annually picks a losing team from the previous season to make the playoffs.
Vikings fans, there is hope. It comes in the form of Norman Chad, who writes for The Washington Post
and is known to many ESPN viewers as the wisecracking half of their "World Series of Poker" coverage. As part of his annual preseason football duties, he picks his Team of Destiny.
This year, through some convoluted processes to arrive at his team, he is picking the Vikings as his 2011 Team of Destiny
The Team of Destiny has to be a team that finished below .500 the previous season and is being predicted to make the playoffs that year. His tradition began in 1996 and got started with a bang, making the Carolina Panthers his Team of Destiny in their second year and the Panthers made it all the way to the NFC Championship Game, only to lose to Brett Favre and the Packers.
Last year, he picked the Philadelphia Eagles – the team that shipped off Donovan McNabb
to start the Kevin Kolb
era. Unfortunately, the Kevin Kolb era lasted less than one half of one game before he got hurt and Michael Vick
took over, eventually leading to Kolb leaving town.
Because of McNabb's bouncing around the league and being teamed with Adrian Peterson
and Percy Harvin
, Chad has gone "all-in" on McNabb and the Vikings, making him one of the few national pundits who, in early September, is predicting the Vikings to play in mid-January.
"I can't tell you how many times I saw McNabb bumble around like Inspector Clouseau in cleats for three quarters or more, then find a way to drive his team to glory in the waning minutes," Chad wrote. "So I'll take my chances on McNabb and Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin. I'll take my chances on new coach Leslie Frazier, figuring he's more Don Shula than David Shula. I'll take my chances on the Vikings bringing joy to Minneapolis-St. Paul."
As if the two-game suspension of Kevin Williams won't take a big enough bite, having to forfeit two additional game checks will end up costing the Vikings defensive tackle $1.4 million total. Seeing as Will Smith of the Saints was given the same deal, it's no wonder Pat Williams hasn't appeared on the radar. He would have to play his first two games for free, likely with no guarantee beyond that. Louisiana math says stay retired.
Chester Taylor didn't stay unemployed very long. A day after finally being released by Chicago, Taylor was snapped up by the Arizona Cardinals, who have enough running back problems of their own. Rookie Ryan Williams is already gone for the season and Beanie Wells is as fragile as rice paper. Taylor could go from the outhouse in Chicago to the starting job in Arizona.
Why couldn't this be Week 4? Word out of Kansas City, the Vikings' opponent in Week 4, is that QB Matt Cassel is a big question mark for Sunday's game with a rib injury. As if Jared Allen's return to Kansas City – think he'll be a little geeked to impress the old home crowd? – wasn't going to be a big enough storyline, having him with trivia answer Tyler Palko under center could be akin watching the lions chase down an infant gazelle.
The Ravens continue to stockpile former Pro Bowl linemen. They entered the season with a dinged-up Matt Birk, added former Viking Bryant McKinnie two weeks ago and, on Sunday, signed recently released Cowboys center Andre Gurode. In 2008, this was a dream team. In 2011, there may be more questions than answers.
Mickey Shuler's NFL life has seen some interesting twists and turns in less than 18 months. Last year, the Vikings hoped to slide Shuler through waivers, only to have Miami claim him. A year later, the Dolphins put Shuler on waivers and Cincinnati claimed him. He's living out of a suitcase, but there are teams that continue to be interested.
The Colts have been the most consistently dominant regular-season team over the last seven years, winning 12 games or more almost every year, but much of the credit has gone to QB Peyton Manning. When rumors began to circulate Sunday that he needs another neck surgery, the team tried to shoot them down. However, they did say he was getting re-evaluation of his neck because it "isn't responding" as well as hoped. If Manning doesn't play, Colts fans will find out what it's like to not have their future Hall of Fame QB (he's never missed a game) and, if he is gone for an extended period of time, Colts fans may learn what so many other teams have learned over the years – you need a great quarterback to succeed.
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.