Vikes Could Learn From Pats, Eagles

The Eagles and the Patriots have unquestionably been the most successful franchises of the decade and each provide a different blueprint that teams like the Vikings could follow.

The Patriots and the Eagles combined to lose just five games this season -- two of which came when the Eagles laid down the final two weeks of the regular season. Although taking different approaches to get to the Super Bowl, each is a blueprint that teams like the Vikings can employ to chart their own future.

The Patriots have been nothing short of amazing. They have a chance to win their third Super Bowl in four years, yet without those titles the Pats likely wouldn't have a single player that looks like a lock for the Hall of Fame. Sure, they have Tom Brady, Corey Dillon, Ty Law and Tedi Bruschi to name a few that have grabbed the headlines in recent years, but they have exemplified the team concept. This team-first attitude has kept contracts down, turnover surprisingly low and, if they have their way, an unprecedented three Super Bowl titles in four years during the age of the salary cap.

On the flip side, the Eagles were also built from the ground up, but when push came to shove, they became the biggest players in the free agent market to achieve their ultimate objective. Heading into free agency last year, the two prized players available were Terrell Owens and Jevon Kearse. The Eagles snagged both of them. It led to losing players like Duce Staley, Bobby Taylor and Troy Vincent, but the Eagles plugged the primary weaknesses that had denied them a trip to the Super Bowl for three straight years.

The Vikings have a chance to take the strategy of either team. They can build from within through the draft and signing role players in free agency or spend the big money in hopes that one or two key players can help make the difference between making the playoffs and making the Super Bowl.

Like everyone else, the Vikings will be watching the Super Bowl Sunday. But, if they try to use the same formula that got the Patriots and Eagles to the mountaintop, maybe next year others will be watching and the Vikings will be playing.

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