The subject of what rates as a successful season has arisen. The Twins didn’t make the playoffs and most viewed their .500 season as a rousing success. The Wild can advance as far in the playoffs when they don’t include the Chicago Blackhawks and that is considered a successful season. If the Timberwolves win 32 of 82 games, that will be considered a qualified success.
Yet the Minnesota Vikings haven’t been to the playoffs since 2012 and have already won double-digit games – the last time any Vikings team won more games was in 2009 and the wound between Brett Favre and the Packers was still open and unable to yet scab – and the naysayers are blathering that if the Vikings don’t win Sunday, despite making the playoffs, their 2015 season isn’t a success.
Wait … what?
How is such a double standard possible?
Perhaps it’s because the nature of football is unlike any of the other major sports. There are far fewer games than any of the other major sports – from high school on up – so the time to scrutinize a winning streak or a slump is much longer. When things are going good, they’re going too good. When things are going bad, the Titanic is taking on water. It’s the nature of the sport.
I take part in a weekly game pick segment and can say with all honesty (and backup proof) that I picked the Vikings to beat San Francisco in Week 1. Since then, I’ve gone 14-0. I picked the Vikings to lose the games I thought they were supposed to lose. Winning on the road in Denver didn’t happen in October. Knocking the Packers and Seahawks off their perches would have made a statement, but I didn’t come away from the week of practice believing the changing of the guard was going to happen that day. The most impressive loss that was predicted was in Arizona, where the Vikings had a chance to win late.
The Vikings have beaten every team from Week 2 on that they should have beaten and others have found equally easy to take out. It may not have been expected to the extent they would dominate teams like Detroit, San Diego, Oakland, Atlanta, Chicago and New York. But, then again, the losses to Green Bay and Seattle – two of the three teams they could potentially play Jan. 9 or 10 – were by far the most humbling of 2015.
The Vikings have followed a path that others who predict wins or losses – for work purposes and gambling purposes alike – have honed in on. They have yet to win “the big game.” They beat the teams they’re supposed to beat – often putting the boots to lesser competition.
The reason to date for excitement with the 2015 Vikings has been that, whether it has been at home or on the road, they have beaten the teams they’re supposed to take to the house. With the exception of San Francisco, which, for the benefit of hindsight, would have been meaningless in terms of the division title being on the line Sunday night, the Vikings have also lost to teams that, at the time and given their Big Daddy sense of entitlement and desperation tossed in as a garnish, made sense.
What makes the losses to Green Bay and Seattle troubling was that both were dominations from very early on in the game until the end.
The Vikings have another chance to put a stamp on the regular season. They’re in the dance for the playoffs, but the question remains: If the Vikings don’t win the NFC North and have to go on the road for the playoffs, is 2015 going to be viewed as a successful season?
For our money, unless you were convinced on Sept. 15 – the day after San Francisco’s season peaked and then came crashing down like a cheap remote control helicopter – that the Vikings were going to the playoffs (potentially as division champs), the season hasn’t been a success.
For everyone else, they have achieved beyond September expectations and have a third chance to make the statement they want to make.
The third time will be the charm if it happens. If they don’t, it’s a third strike … for the regular season.
Once you’re in the dance, anything can happen. But it may take a playoff win in 2016 for some to view the Vikings’ 2015 season as a success.
- The lawsuit filed last week by the Vikings against Wells Fargo Co. is going to be moved to federal court. The Vikings filed suit in Hennepin County District Court last week, claiming that Wells Fargo, a competing bank, was “photobombing” the iconic structure of U.S. Bank Stadium. Wells Fargo asked that the suit be moved to federal court and the district court approved shifting jurisdictions on Tuesday.
- With their win Sunday, the Vikings became the first team technically without a home stadium to qualify for the playoffs. No team playing in a temporary stadium has qualified for the playoffs, much less have the distinction of potentially hosting a playoff game.