Lurtsema's Reaction: The Parcells Factor

When the Vikings start on their 2004 journey Sunday against Dallas, they will be facing Cowboys coach Bill Parcells, one the brightest minds in football. The strategy Parcells employs during this game could set the stage for the season.

What a great test the Vikings get in their season opener. Dallas head coach Bill Parcells and his much-hated Cowboys come to the Metrodome for the start of the 2004 NFL season. Yes, I truly hate the Cowboys, as I still am deeply scared from the Hail Mary pass of 1975. But in the same breath I have such great respect for Parcells, and he will actually help me predict how well I think the Minnesota Vikings will do this season.

There is no doubt in anyone's mind in the National Football League that the Minnesota Vikings have the most potent offense in the league. They proved it with the No. 1 ranking in 2003, and this preseason Daunte Culpepper has ended up with a 134.4 passer rating with just one interception. In all my years of watching football I haven't seen an offense run with such efficiency and timing as this group.

I'm predicting the Vikings to easily have 12 wins, and Parcells is going to help them accomplish that because the fun part of the season is to watch the next two opponents — Philadelphia and Chicago — and see if they use any of the defensive schemes that the Cowboys will use against the Vikings offense. With Parcells' great knowledge of the game, it should intrigue football fans to see what type of defense he runs, what success he has, and then see if other teams follow his lead.

So why might the Vikings lose four games? I'm still a little suspect of the defense because of its depth issues. Defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell is doing an outstanding job, and if his players on the defensive side of the ball don't suffer too many injuries, they truly will have no difficulty when they play in Jacksonville on Feb. 6. The defense does seem to break down at times with fundamental mistakes, but Cottrell and the gang should improve week in and week out if he has a stable, consistent crew of starters who can avoid injury.

Do some fun critiquing of the Vikings and their opponents in the next three weeks, and then I hope you will be able to jump on my 12-4 bandwagon.

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