If you missed Part 1 of this article which includes entries for weeks 1-5, you can find that on our sister site, purplePTSD, here.
At this point so early in the season, it’s a bit futile to evaluate how a team will perform come September. Players slip up, coaches can lose that “edge”, entire organizations can crash and burn or rise from the ashes of the previous year.
How many people truly predicted that Lamar Jackson would make the leap from promising rookie to unanimous MVP this past season? Or that Pat Mahomes would come out as a redshirt rookie and throw for 50 touchdowns in 2018?
There’s too many question marks, too many variables to make accurate predictions. But one thing we can evaluate is how these games make us feel. Are they (at this point) easy wins? Nerve-racking matchups?
Sport and emotion go hand in hand, and while nothing can replicate the feeling of a last-second win — the “Brett Favre to Greg Lewis”, “Kyle Rudolph in the back of the end zone”, “Case Keenum to Stefon Diggs”, type — the lesser triumphs, one could argue, share parallels to movies.
Dalvin Cook takes a screen pass 30 yards to the house? I feel as invigorated as the first time I heard William Wallace’s war speech in Braveheart.
Kirk Cousins throws his third touchdown of over 40 yards in a Vikings blowout? I get shades of, “My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius … And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.”
What we lack in scouting reports, team chemistry, and coaching decisions, we can make up for in pure emotion. And movies can be one of the best ways to draw parallels to the upcoming season.
Week 6: Vs Falcons – noon
“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!”
– Godfather Pt. 3
At this point in the season, it’s not far-fetched to assume that many, many people may have a mess on their living room floor, right below where the “in case of emergency break glass” case used to be.
It is not unreasonable to think that going into this game, the Vikings could be 2-3 or worse, potentially having lost two or three games in a row, and potentially calling for Minnesota lawmakers to step in to stop the massive rise in bleach sales.
Two back-to-back road games in Houston and primetime in Seattle sounds like a recipe for fans to be pushing the panic button, calling for everyone’s head who is even remotely affiliated with the organization.
However, this week six matchup against the Falcons screams “bounce-back game”.
If there’s one thing we know about Kirk Cousins by now, is that he never misses an opportunity to shine in a noon home game when pressure and expectations are at their lowest.
Regardless of what happened before this game, everyone should be headed to their bookies and betting their life savings that Cousins has 300+ yards and 3+ touchdowns.
Just like Michael Corleone being sucked back into crime family scheming, Vikings fans will be sucked back into believing this team will win the Super Bowl.
Week 7: Bye
Week 8: @ GB – noon
“That’s it… I’ve had it with this dump! We got no food, we got no jobs, our pets’ heads are falling off!”
– Dumb and Dumber
As I have stated before, at this point in the season it’s not unreasonable to think that the Vikings could be facing a statewide panic.
Look at the schedule before the week seven bye: four out of the six opponents were playoff teams last year, and week eight in Lambeau may very well be a borderline “must-win” to keep pace in the divisional race.
But here’s the thing: The Packers could be in just as rough shape as the Vikings.
Let’s dive into Green Bay’s opponents to start the season: @Vikings, vs. Lions, @New Orleans, vs. Falcons, @Tampa Bay, @Houston.
Given the uncertainty with the organization, and the fact there seems to be an ever-widening rift between Aaron Rodgers and the front office, the Packers could very well be in a tailspin. Even if everything was just grand, even if Aaron Rodgers got his weapons, the key to Green Bay, and his feet rubbed every day by Matt LaFleur, the team could very well have four losses by this point. Facing the Vikings, New Orleans, Tampa Bay, and Houston all on the road before round two of the Border Battle could very well spell disaster for the Packers and their fans (oh sorry – I meant owners).
The Vikings and Packers seem poised to challenge each other for the NFC North title this upcoming season, but with the week eight matchup potentially seeing both teams at or below a .500 record, fans of both teams could be in a panic.
Week 9: Vs Lions – noon
“Who does number 2 work for?”
“That’s right buddy you show that turd who’s boss”
– Austin Powers
If there’s one thing I hate, it is the overconfident, cocky, insufferable football fan. They never shut up about how good they are, how many rings they have, what they are going to do to your team come Sunday (which, I have to admit, always sounds oddly sexual and completely uncomfortable).
Head to any sports bar, tailgate, T.G.I. Friday’s, and they are easily identifiable. See: Green Bay Packers fans, New England Patriots fans, Dallas Cowboys fans etc.
As much as I loathe that guy, as much as I despise that guy, I have to be that guy for this entry.
Are we sure the Detroit Lions are, you know, trying? How sure are we that Ford Field wasn’t built on an Indian burial ground? Is the GM being held captive? Blink twice if you’re in trouble.
The Vikings are 5-1 against the Lions the past three seasons, and that “1” was the game Dalvin Cook tore his ACL mid-game. Not only that, but the Vikings are 29-11 against the Lions since the turn of the century.
The two Lions games every year are as close to penciling in a win as you can get, and this year will be no different.
Week 10: @ Bears – 7:15
“So I got that goin for me, which is nice.”
The Bears are currently, quietly, having a very poor offseason.
Not in terms of lack of acquisitions or locker-room duress, but in negative press and the direction their franchise seems to be heading.
At this point, the Bears having not only drafted Mitch Trubisky ahead of Pat Mahomes and Deshaun Watson, but trading up to do so has almost become a meme; a new staple of NFL pop culture. And to make matters worse? Reports have been trickling in that the Bears hardly even put in an effort to scout Watson pre-draft.
To the Heisman trophy runner-up who just torched Alabama to win the NCAA National Championship, the Bears say no thank you.
Now Trubisky looks to be displaced by the career backup quarterback with one miraculous year under his belt, Nick Foles, and the never-ending quarterback purgatory continues for Chicago. Think I’m overreacting? What if I told you the best quarterback the Bears have ever had in their nearly 100-year history is Jay Cutler?
But lo and behold, one thing the Bears certainly have going for them is the Vikings coming to Soldier Field for Monday Night Football week 10.
The Vikings are 2-8 in Soldier Field this decade, including a Monday night Halloween loss in 2016 that can be attributed to nearly half of the new liver cirrhosis cases in the state since then.
Can the Vikings finally get a win in Chicago week 10? It’s possible, but I wouldn’t get my hopes up.
Week 11: Vs Cowboys – 3:25
“Look at me. Look at me. I am the captain now.”
– Captain Phillips
Ezekiel Elliott has been considered one of, if not the best, running backs in the game since he came into the league. During his four-year career, Elliott has averaged 1756 yards from scrimmage and 10 touchdowns, placing him at the top of the running back totem pole every year.
In week 10 of the 2019 season, the Vikings traveled to Dallas and beat the Cowboys in one of the most thrilling games of the season. The entire country watched not only Kirk Cousins winning a high-pressure game, but Dalvin Cook completely outperform Ezekiel Elliot.
After 183 yards from scrimmage to Elliott’s 63, it seemed like the collective consciousness of the NFL universe was waking up to how skilled Dalvin Cook really is, and this week 11 “America’s Game of the Week” is the perfect opportunity for Cook to jump Elliott in the collective rankings once and for all.
Cook has a chance to not only prove himself again against Elliott this week, but the very next week the Carolina Panthers come to town and Cook will be facing off against Christian McCaffrey.
The storyline of the upcoming game will no doubt be dominated by the Kirk Cousins versus Teddy Bridgewater face-off, the old guard versus the new guard, but if Dalvin Cook outperforms Ezekiel Elliot in this matchup, and goes on to outperform Christian McCaffrey in the next week, NFL pundits will have no choice to debate if Dalvin Cook is the best running back in the game.
Week 12: Vs Panthers – noon
“I always knew someday you’d come walking back through my door. I never doubted that. Something made it inevitable.”
– Indiana Jones
The second of three-straight home games will see the new(ish) look Carolina Panthers come to U.S. Bank Stadium.
On paper, the two teams’ offensive talent shares a number of parallels. D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel facing off against Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson to see who the better receiving duo will be. Christian McCaffrey facing off against Dalvin Cook to see who the top running back for the 2020 season will be.
But all eyes, and storylines leading up to the game, will be on Teddy Bridgewater versus Kirk Cousins; the one that got away versus the current fiancé.
This is the first time Bridgewater will come to play the Vikings as a starter for the other team, and fans will no doubt feel conflicted.
What Bridgewater is for the Vikings transcends rationality. He’s a constant reminder of the past, a stain on your favorite sweater that you just can’t get out. He was supposed to be the chosen one: the crafty, lovable, fan and coach favorite, franchise quarterback to lead the Vikings to the Super Bowl. Instead, one fateful day in practice he nearly lost his leg in an extremely improbable non-contact injury and plunged the Vikings into an alternate universe.
Where would the team be now if that freak injury never happened?
We will have a small glimpse of that week 12.
Week 13: Vs Jaguars – noon
“Do you think we’ll get there by midnight?”
“Baby, we’re going to be up five hundy by midnight!”
After a long, painful, arduous sales pitch, Trent finally convinces Mike to take his mind off his recent breakup and drive to Las Vegas for a night out on the town. Mike is sold in a matter of hours as he goes from completely opposed to the idea, to letting out a “VEGAS!” battle cry in the car on the way to the strip.
This part of ‘Swingers’ works for both teams in the week 13 matchup against the Jaguars.
For the Vikings, it’s an exclamation to ‘right the ship’ and continue to turn the season around. Heading into the bye, it would not be surprising to see the team 3-3 or worse, and two of the first three games after the bye are in Lambeau and in Soldier Field. Despite that, home games against the Lions, Cowboys, Panthers, and now, Jaguars, could very well leave the team at 7-5 after this week.
“Do you think we’ll make the playoffs?” “Baby, we’re going to have a first-round bye in the playoffs!”
For the Jaguars, it’s their confidence in Gardner Minshew.
Will their unwavering support pay off? Minshew was impressive last year as a late-round rookie thrust into the starting role, but if he didn’t have a handlebar moustache would he garner the same support?
The Jaguars had the 9th and 20th overall picks in the 2020 NFL Draft and certainly could have used that capital to gun for Tua Tagovailoa or Justin Herbert.
If nothing else, Jaguar fans will be able to take another page out of the ‘Swingers’ script in regards to their quarterback:
“There’s nothing wrong with letting the girls know that you’re money and that you want to party.”
Week 14: @ Tampa Bay – noon
“The law says you cannot touch. But I think I see a lotta lawbreakers up in this house tonight.”
–Magic Mike (but actually, Louis C.K.)
First, a bit of housekeeping;
Yes, the quote above is originally from Magic Mike, but the quote I am referring to comes from a Louis C.K. stand-up special (hence the video above being of a fat, balding ginger, and not a male stripper). However, due to the rules of this article being “movie quotes”, I am contractually obligated to reference the quote from the movie itself.
Now that we have that clear,
The post-game storyline of this game could be a number of things; Tom Brady’s performance, Kirk Cousins’ performance, the coaching matchup between Mike Zimmer and Bruce Arians. But a major storyline could very well be the number of sacks and roughing the passer penalties.
In one corner, we have Tom Brady: one of the most respected quarterbacks in the league, a player who gets preferential treatment every game. In the other corner, we have Kirk Cousins: a player whose lack of pocket awareness and lack of offensive line greatness has led to a multitude of sacks and pressures.
And on both sides, we have players who love to get to the quarterback.
The Vikings finished 5th in the league in sacks last year with 48, led by Danielle Hunter who tallied 14.5. The Buccaneers finished 9th in the league in sacks with 47, led by Shaquil Barrett who had 19.5.
This game has the potential to be a quarterback’s nightmare, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot of laundry on the field in the process.
Week 15: Vs Bears – noon
“This could be complicated. You know on the first one I crashed and burned.”
“And the second?”
“I don’t know, but it’s looking good so far”
– Top Gun
Not too long ago, playing the Chicago Bears at home used to be an easy task for the Vikings. From 2012 to 2017, the team was unbeaten against the Bears at home, winning five straight matchups.
The last two years, however, has been a genuine crash and burn and has left many with unease when thinking about the week 15 matchup.
In the last game of the 2018 season, needing a win to make the playoffs, the Vikings absolutely keeled over, being dominated by the Bears on both sides of the ball. In the last game of the 2019 season, the Vikings played almost exclusively second-stringers, so that loss is more understandable, but the record books still show an “L”.
The worst part isn’t the fact the Vikings are 0-4 against the Bears the last two years, it’s the fact the Chicago organization has gotten false confidence during a period which should be seen as a blunder.
To put it lightly, the organization has failed yet again to secure a franchise quarterback and left a trail of carnage in its wake: The Double Doink, the Trubisky gaffe, the whole “hardly scouting Deshaun Watson before the NFL Draft” thing.
If it wasn’t for the acquisition of Khalil Mack, this era of Chicago Bears football would be buried deep, deep in the recesses of Bears fans minds the same way Vikings fans hide the early 2010s. And that is why these games are so important for the Vikings – they shouldn’t be swept.
These last two years of matchups versus the Bears have been crash and burn attempts at securing divisional victories and bragging rights by the Vikings, and hopefully, by week 15, we will be able to say that it’s looking better this time around.
Week 16: @ Saints – 3:30 (Christmas)
“Merry Christmas you filthy animal!”
– Home Alone 2
Week 16 is a wonderful game for Minnesota, and therefore, the world.
Not only is it the first NFL Christmas Day game since 2017, not only do the Vikings take center stage in the national spotlight, but the team has the opportunity to give every Minnesota fan exactly what they want for Christmas; making the fans of a heated rival cry. (Is that too intense?)
The New Orleans Saints have rapidly transformed into arguably the Vikings’ second biggest rival behind the Green Bay Packers, and it all started in 2009.
The 2009 NFC Championship Game, or, ‘Bountygate’ as true believers like to say, saw the Saints unfairly rip away the greatest chance for a Vikings Super Bowl victory in over 20 years. A financial reward put on Brett Favre to whoever could knock him out of the game, combined with extreme lack of action by the referees, saw the Saints win the game and go on to beat the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl 44.
Next came “The Minneapolis Miracle”, a Vikings victory by way of last second Hail Mary in the 2017 NFC Divisional round, and most recently, the Vikings defeating the Saints in the 2019 Wild Card round.
Sprinkle in some back and forth regular season games over the years and, baby, you got a rivalry going!
Week 16 will be another chapter in the rivalry record book, as this Christmas Day matchup will no doubt have major playoff implications.
So this year, when your mom asks why you have drank six beers before 3 p.m. at the family Christmas party, you can confidently look her in the eyes and say, “My team needs me.”
Week 17: @ Lions – noon
“So I was sitting in my cubicle today, and I realized, ever since I started working, every single day of my life has been worse than the day before it. So that means that every single day that you see me, that’s on the worst day of my life.”
“What about today? Is today the worst day of your life?”
“Wow, that’s messed up.”
In the quote above, replace “started working” with “became a Lions fan” and you have stumbled upon the antithesis of Detroit fandom.
Here we have the last game of the season with the possibility of it being meaningless for both teams.
For the Vikings, it could be meaningless for playoff positioning. Last year, the team rested nearly every starter in the week 17 matchup against the Bears, and it’s not unreasonable to think it could happen again.
For the Lions, it could be meaningless because the team has been out of the playoff hunt since, say, week 10.
Barring a career year from Matt Stafford, an astounding performance from rookie Jeff Okudah, or any semblance of competence from the coaching staff or the organization as a whole, the Lions are poised to miss out on the playoffs for the fourth straight year.
Honestly, I hate ripping on the Lions because, as I said in the week nine entry, everyone hates ‘that guy’. Boasting about how good a team is or how bad a division rival is makes for poor, self-centered content.
Not to mention, ripping on the Lions and Lions fans in general is like making fun of the colorblind kid for not being able to see the color red. It’s in poor taste.
For Lions patrons, nearly every single season has been worse than the year before. So that means every time you see a Lions fan, that’s the worst season of their life. Have some compassion.