…but I did mention this on December 1st in one of my blog posts:
You all can say you saw it here first when I dramatically predict that the Vikings will not make it past the 2nd round of the playoffs. Being 10-1 is great and I’m definitely pleased with this season, but remember that they have had a rather weak schedule this year. Don’t believe me? The Vikings so far have had the 2nd easiest strength of schedule in the league at .423 (107-146).
Edit: That should have read 107-146-1, since the website I originally found that data omitted ties. That merely changes the winning percentage to .420.
Since I made that comment, the Vikings have gone 1-3. I found out that the strength of schedule record was actually from the teams’ records from 2008. So, I found the combined records of all the teams the Vikings have played this season. Care to know the winning percentage? (I guess I’m not giving you a choice). It’s .427, or a combined record of 96-129. Throw in next week’s game against the 8-7 New York Giants, and it only increases to 104-136, or .433.* Of the 15 games so far, 6 of those games were against a team that currently has a winning record: Green Bay (twice, 10-5), Cincinnati (10-5), Arizona (10-5), Pittsburgh (8-7), and Baltimore (8-7). Yes, the Vikings record in these games is 4-2, but only two of those wins were by score differentials that could not have been overcome/tied by a single possession.** The two losses were by 10 and 13 points.
* Maybe if I’m bored and have time, I’ll find where this ranks against the rest of the league. Even without doing that, I’m sure this is one of the easiest schedules this year.** I’m thinking of this like those “easy/hard saves” or whatever they’re called for closers. Looking at those 4 wins…
Green Bay (30-23) Could have tied in 1 possession. (semi-hard)
Baltimore (33-31) Could have lost in 1 possession. (hard)
Green Bay (38-26) Could have lost in 2+ possessions. (easy)
Cincinnati (30-10) Could have lost in 3+ possessions. (very easy…hell, this wouldn’t even be a save if this was baseball)
Another issue is not just that the Vikings cannot win on the road, it’s the fact they cannot win on grass. On the road, they are 4-4 this year (7-0 at the Metrodome). On turf, they are 9-0;* grass, 2-4.** So maybe getting home-field advantage for the whole playoffs isn’t too big of a problem, it’s just a matter of getting some good ol’ FieldTurf to play on. As of right now, here’s how the current playoff bracket for the NFC would look:
* These 2 road turf wins were against Detroit and St. Louis, so it’s not like we can take those wins very seriously.
** I couldn’t figure out if the Cardinals game had the roof open or shut, so I decided to ignore the indoor/outdoor records. Regardless, the University of Phoenix Stadium has a real grass field.
If the turf/grass record records hold true, then the Vikings would be expected to beat the Cowboys in the 1st round at the Dome. But, then it would immediately get tougher by playing outdoors against the Eagles. If they beat the Eagles, then who knows. The three scenarios if the Vikings beat the Cowboys and Eagles are:
1. Arizona beats Green Bay and New Orleans: This leads to the Vikings hosting the Cardinals in the NFC Championship game. Yes, the Cards beat the Vikings earlier this year, but that was in Phoenix. A whole new outcome is possible by changing the venue.
2. Green Bay beats Arizona and New Orleans: A home game against the Packers. Beating them twice already this season is encouraging, so I definitely could see the Vikings moving on to the Super Bowl here. However, would a home playoff loss neutralize the two regular season victories for Brett Favre?
3. New Orleans beats Arizona or Green Bay: Playing in New Orleans could be tough, so here’s where that 9-0 turf record would be put to the test. I don’t think the Vikings could win this game.
Assuming the Vikings made it this far, I’d say that facing Philadelphia would be the toughest team for them to face, followed by New Orleans. I think Dallas, Green Bay, and Arizona would all be comparable in difficulty to beat, especially since any of these 3 opponents would have to play at the Metrodome. Unfortunately, I don’t see how the Vikings could beat the Eagles in Philadelphia. Here’s to another disappointing end to a promising Vikings season.
Finally, the game from last night. I won’t say much, other than it was a game the Vikings shouldn’t have won in the first place. They were down 23-6 at one point, their first half play was terrible, the special teams play was poor, and Robbie Gould should have made that field goal in overtime. Favre did lead the team to a great comeback, so that does deserve some praise. I think another contribution to the loss was that after the Vikings tied the game with Favre-ball, they returned to Chilly-ball in overtime. If the Vikings want to win next week against the Giants, they can’t be relaxed on offense. When the team needed points and played with a must-win attitude yesterday, they were successful.
I don’t know what’s happened to Antoine Winfield, but he’s been on the losing end of some critical plays these past 2 weeks. I’m not a football expert so I can’t offer any reasoning for this, but we shouldn’t blame yesterday’s loss on him. Devin Aromashadu simply outran Winfield…where was the safety help? Oh, there it is, he’s covering the tight end.
We all know what happened after that.