The Minnesota Vikings are playing their final road game of the season on Sunday when they travel south to play the Miami Dolphins. They haven’t had much success playing on the road this season, holding just a 2-5 record when being the away team, and this week might not get any easier, as they are facing a team that they will only see once every four years.
There are so many disadvantages that the away team has to deal with that, at times, it can seem as though it is just them against the world. Center John Sullivan agrees, and thinks that sometimes you actually need to have that mindset as a way to deal with everything going against the road team.
“Just overcoming the other team’s home-field advantage,” Sullivan said. “Obviously when you’re the road team you have to deal with crowd noise, you’re flying the day before the game, you’re staying in a hotel, so there is just a lot you have to overcome. But in order to do that you just have to put it out of your mind and realize that it’s your team basically against the world and take that mentality.”
Another thing that can be an advantage for a home team is when their opponents have to travel across the country and change time zones like the Vikings will have to do this weekend. Although some players don’t think it is that bad because the coaches have been preparing them for it all week and there is only a one-hour difference, so there shouldn’t be much of a change for them. They are just happy that they are not a West Coast team going east, or an East Coast team going west, because then the time change might play in as a factor.
The last time that the Vikings played the Dolphins was in 2010, which means there are numerous players on this Vikings roster that have never played them. Right now, the most senior player on the Vikings roster is long snapper Cullen Loeffler, who has been with the Vikings for 11 years.
In that time span, Minnesota has played Miami only two times, and have lost both of those games. Although it makes it more difficult for the team to prepare, the players are actually excited about playing a new team.
“It’s definitely different,” said Christian Ponder. “You don’t have as much time to prepare, and you’re not as familiar with them as you would if you were playing an NFC team or someone in your division, but it’s fun. It’s fun to play those teams you don’t see as often, and go to places like Miami that you wouldn’t really have a chance to, I mean you go, what, every eight years?”
And of course the team is excited to be going where it is expected to be 77 degrees on Sunday. That compared to the snow and the cold of Minneapolis, where it is expected to be 35 degrees.
“I think guys are looking forward to getting some sunshine,” Ponder said. “Hopefully get a little tan out there and everyone is focused on going and getting this win. That’s what’s most important.”
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