I admit I’m a little hurt by the football cognoscenti’s (I’m big on using important sounding Italian words this week) almost universal view that the Philadelphia Eagles will pummel the Vikings this weekend. Has there ever been a playoff game between a 10-6 team and a 9-6-1 team that has been billed as such a mismatch? I’m sure there has. But, geez, the Vikes aren’t getting much respect.
Mike Tanier’s take on the game is just one example of the bird-love happening right now. Tanier’s an Eagles fan, so maybe we should expect this from him, but he’s also a damn fine football writer and often a sober voice of reason. Yet even he seems to have talked himself into believing the Eagles are a juggernaut.
God knows the Vikings have their faults. But so does Philly. They’re a so-so road team. They haven’t played well in close games. And Donovan McNabb has struggled playing on the road of late (1-3 record in his last four road games; two TD passes and five interceptions). Throw in the fact the Vikings haven’t beaten the Eagles since 1997 and McNabb is 4-0 during his career against Minnesota and the Vikes just seem due for a win over the Eagles, don’t they?
The skinny: Vikings 24 Eagles 20
P.S. – this prediction is based on going with what my heart is saying rather than on what my head is saying.
The Tarvaris Jackson Experience
So Tarvaris Jackson starts his first playoff game and naturally there is some question about how he will handle the “pressure” of the playoffs.
I’d prefer the Vikings had a more experienced, playoff savvy guy starting this game. But I also think this “how will Jackson handle playoff-pressure?” story angle is a load of bunk.
I’m sure Jackson’s going to be very nervous before Sunday’s game. But I bet he’s very nervous before every game. Might he be extra nervous for this one? Yes. Do I expect it to negatively affect his performance on the field more than usual? No.
Tarvaris Jackson may play horribly Sunday. Some would say there is a very good chance Tarvaris Jackson will play horribly Sunday. But if he does, it will because Jackson’s not a very good quarterback, because Adrian Peterson couldn’t find any running room, because the Vikings couldn’t protect Jackson against the Eagles pass rush and because Jackson threw poorly as a result. He won’t play horribly because the butterflies in his stomach made him do it.
Today we learned Pat Williams probably won’t play against the Eagles and Ray Edwards definitely won’t play.
We know the Vikings don’t have anyone who can replace Big Pat. But the loss of Edwards hurts, too. The Vikings don’t lose much pass rush with substitute Brian Robison. But Robison doesn’t hold up very well against the run and the Eagles may be able to exploit that with Brian Westbrook running wide to the left side that Robison will be manning.
If Westbrook is able to run wild, this game may be the blowout some are expecting.
The Metrodome – part one
The Vikings are having trouble selling out their first home playoff game since 2000. The usual suspects are being dredged up as reasons why – the economy, old-fashioned Viking fan skepticism and high ticket prices.
But Star-Tribune blogger Michael Rand thinks the Metrodome might be the biggest culprit.
I don’t live in Minnesota, so help me out here. Is the Metrodome really such a dump that it could dissuade fans from buying tickets to a big playoff game? I understand the traffic is brutal after games but what else makes the Metrodome an unappealing place to watch football? Is it poor sightlines? Poor acoustics? Bad lighting? Flat beer and soggy hotdogs?
The Metrodome – part two
Does it seem coincidental that with the Vikings struggling to sell out a home playoff game, here comes Zygi Wilf, flogging the stadium issue again?
I’ve never set foot in the great state of Minnesota, but as a citizen of the world, I’m annoyed when a profitable sports business – and the Minnesota Vikings are a business – looks for public funding to help build a facility that will be used, at the most, 10-12 times a year.
Whatever Minnesotans think of the Metrodome (which probably isn’t much), in North American we need more of these multi-use sports facilities, not less. They were once in vogue. Now they’re not and every sports owner wants to blow them up and build single-use sports palaces instead. What a waste of money and resources.
I was once optimistic the Vikings stadium issue would get resolved somehow before the Vikings Metrodome lease expired in 2011. Now, I’m a lot less optimistic. But I also think for the next three seasons, I’m not going to sweat it much. I’ll just try to enjoy the Vikings in Minnesota for however long it lasts.