So far, so good for the Vikings on their tough three game stretch leading up to the bye week. They got a win against the Ravens – in spite of the defense’s attempts at handing it away – and now they will get perhaps their sternest test of the year, on the road against the Steelers.
Pessimism abounds, in spite of the team’s 6-0 record. There are injuries, most notably Antoine Winfield‘s foot and Adrian Peterson‘s ankle. There are major league question marks on the defense, particularly the secondary. My own confidence is low going into Sunday’s game. In fact, I fully expect the Steelers to destroy the Vikings.
I very much want to be wrong.
I want the Vikings to beat the Steelers, to dispel my own doubts about the team, and because I think a win over Pittsburgh at their place would legitimize the Vikings in a big-time way. They would no longer be possible contenders – they would be contenders.
I want it, but I don’t think it will happen.
I think the Steelers have turned over a new leaf as an offense, converting from a run-first squad to a pass-first squad, and that makes them dangerous for us, especially with Ben Roethlisberger running the offense. If one wants a feel for what Big Ben might do against our crippled D, just look over the passing stats for the last few games:
Joe Flacco, 385 yards. Kyle Boller/Marc Bulger, 297 yards (and would’ve been more had Bulger started). Aaron Rodgers, 384 yards.
And Roethlisberger is surely the best quarterback the Vikings have faced this year. Chances of the Vikings slowing down the Steelers’ offense? Slim.
Conclusion: Brett Favre will have to bring his whole bag of tricks, and maybe find a few new ones.
The good news for Favre and the Vikings is that they’ve discovered a legit deep threat in Sidney Rice, to complement a nice array of underneath threats including Visanthe Shiancoe, Chester Taylor (if they’d ever freaking use him), Bernard Berrian and Percy Harvin if his bad shoulder will allow him to go.
Couple all those receivers with Adrian Peterson and you have yourself a real honest-to-goodness well-rounded offense. Something I never thought the Vikings would have under Brad Childress.
All it took to achieve offensive prowess was a quarterback who can actually deliver the ball on-time and with sufficient accuracy. And who can occasionally pull off the miraculous.
But, great as The Favre may be, even he has his limits. Even he can’t single-handedly deliver victory week-after-week. At some point, he will need AD to break off one of his signature huge games. And he will need the defense to start living up to its preseason reputation as one of the stoutest in the league.
I have no doubt that Favre will give it his all. And who knows, maybe he’ll even make enough plays to keep it close.
But I don’t think the Vikings have a hope in hell of winning this game, and in fact, I feel like we’re in for an ass-whupping. There are ebbs and flows to a season, currents you can feel developing under the surface of things. Yes the Vikings have won 6 straight, but the defense has gotten progressively worse, and this is the week that all comes to a head.
So, my advice to Vikings fans is to prepare for disappointment. As a matter of fact, I fully expect us to lose this game and the next, and limp into the bye at 6-2. Our only hope against the Packers is that their offensive line is so bad, Jared Allen decapitates Aaron Rodgers.
That hope doesn’t exist today against the Steelers. Big Ben will keep his head on. And he will throw it all over the place against our clueless secondary. And Brett Favre, in a mad scramble to keep up, will throw at least 2 picks, maybe more.
But who knows. Maybe the Steelers aren’t as good as I’m giving them credit for. Maybe AD will finally find some holes and have a huge game. Maybe Favre’s magic bag is deeper than even I suspect.
It would be sweet to be wrong. But I’m fully prepared to spend the afternoon pissed off.
Join me and the rest of Viking Nation for more commentary/commiseration all day on Twitter.
Tags: Aaron Rodgers Adrian Peterson Antoine Winfield Ben Roethlisberger Bernard Berrian Brad Childress Brett Favre Chester Taylor Jared Allen Joe Flacco Kyle Boller Marc Bulger Minnesota Vikings Percy Harvin Sidney Rice Visanthe Shiancoe