Tale of Two Cities (And Two Games)

Vikes coach Mike Tice is calling today's meeting with the Denver Broncos a "validation game" for those who disbelieve the start of the 2003 Vikings season. In actuality, today will be the test of four teams.

The Vikings and Broncos don't have a lot in common other than having their starting quarterbacks missing time.

The Vikes play in the NFC. The Broncos play in the AFC. Most of the key players on the Vikings are young. Most of the marquee players for the Broncos have seen better days. But, they do share one VERY important commodity -- they have proved to be solid on both sides of the ball through the first third of the season.

The result will be the Vikings' toughest test since opening day to remain unblemised. There will be two very different and separate games played today.

The Vikings bring the first-rated offense in the NFL to the table, while Denver brings the second-rated defense. The ability for the Vikings to consistently move the ball and eat the play clock will be critical to this facet of today's game.

But just as important to the mix is the Vikings defense effectively stopping the Broncos offense. To explain why the rankings for offenses and defenses is a sham -- especially in relation to defense -- the Vikings are currently ranked 21st in defense in the NFL. The basis for the ranking is strictly based on yardage. A team milking a 14-point is willing to give up yards, not points.

The result makes a joke of the system. If they can come up with incredibly convoluted system to rank quarterbacks where the arcane number of 158.3 is perfection, why not devise a better system to rank offense and defense?

But, if you follow the numbers, the ninth-ranked Broncos offense should have an easier time against the 21st-ranked defense than the No. 1 offense of the Vikes will be vs. Denver's No. 2 ranked defense.

The result will be two separate games played under a 60-minute timeframe. Each game will unfold on its own, but reflect on the other. Tice may be right -- this is a validation game. The Vikes will be tested on both sides of the ball for the first time in awhile. Both offense and defense will have to come up big for the Vikes to win.

* For the second straight Vikings home game, a network will send its "A-Team" to call action. When the Vikings played the 49ers in their last home game, FOX put its A team of Joe Buck, Troy Aikman and Cris Collinsworth. Today, CBS trots out Greg Gumbel and Phil Simms. In response to Vikings fans who suffered through the early season televised debacles, getting the A-Teams is not only good for fans, it's good for replays. The A-Team usually brings two extra sideline cameras along for the ride.
* VU got some comments on the broadcast teams, thanking the omission of Curt Menefee. His ineptitude on accurately getting down and distance calls right during Vikings games in the preseason and during the Detroit game was magnified last Friday. For an unknown reason, Menefee was a field reporter for Game 7 of the Yankees-Red Sox series. Menefee got a chance to get home run hero Aaron Boone on air. After hearing him describe the high point of his baseball career, he thanked him, calling him "Bret Boone." Unfortunately, Bret is his brother, who was in the broadcast booth. As long as the Vikes keep winning, Menefee won't be referring to Randy Moss as Santana Moss any time soon.

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