I will now attempt to conjure some excitement for this afternoon’s match-up with the Buffalo Bills:
Woo. The Vikings are going for two in a row. Leslie Frazier has this team really clicking now. The new offense looks way better now that Brad Childress is gone. Brett Favre is finally getting into some rhythm despite being hurt in every part of his body. Adrian Peterson sprained his ankle last week but it looks like he’ll play and boy is he itching to lay a hurting on this terrible Buffalo Bills defense. We’ve got the pass rush revved up. Fred Pagac is bringing a new aggressive attitude to the defense. Even Chris Kluwe has on a mean killer-dog face and wants to tear somebody a new orifice.
Okay, now the reality: The Vikings are 4-7 and have no chance of making the playoffs. Brett Favre is playing out the string. The receiver corps is banged up. Leslie Frazier will probably play it safe and only run Adrian 10-15 times, meaning lots of action for Toby Gerhart. Yes, the defense looked better against Washington, but that was Washington. The Buffalo Bills though sucky overall have a decent passing game with Ryan Fitzpatrick leading the way, so it could once again be a long afternoon for our thoroughly atrocious secondary.
But at least we’re at home, where our record this year is a lofty 3-2. And hey…we got rid of Childress.
Now to be serious: Today’s game may not mean much in the larger NFL scheme, nor may it be an occasion for much fan enthusiasm, but there is a lot at stake for Leslie Frazier. These last five games are Frazier’s audition for 2011. If the Vikings somehow won out, or even finished 8-8, Frazier would have to be considered the front-runner to become the permanent head coach. The players seem to be firmly in Frazier’s corner, so we can expect a solid effort from them – no more belly-flopping like we saw two weeks ago against the Packers.
Though I expect a good game from the allegedly rejuvenated Vikings against a feisty but nonetheless sub-par Bills team, I’m not sure how sure I should be about this expectation. This team has come out flat more often than not this year, and frankly, that win against Washington, though surely welcome, was not of the impressive variety. The cloud of uncertainty may have been somewhat dispelled last week by Frazier and Co., but that doesn’t mean visibility is high. Yes, the new offense looks better than the old offense, but not enough better to make me believe it’s going to dominate even against a bad defense. It doesn’t help matters that our top three receivers, our top running back, our starting QB and our Hall-of-Fame offensive guard are all nursing injuries. If the Vikings do win this game, it will likely be another cobbled-together, bailing-wire-and-spit sort of performance. Expect Brett Favre’s wiliness and Toby Gerhart’s tenacity to figure heavily in this one. Thankfully, it looks like the defense is coming together behind the fiery Fred Pagac, so the offense won’t need to put up all that many points to win.
That’s about all the positivity I can muster going into this one.