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Inauguration Year. Vikings Headed to the NFC Championship, Right?

Correlation = Causation

For the Minnesota Vikings, now is the time to invoke the omen and jinx lore.

Weekly, an NFL announcer will announce that Kicker A has not missed a field goal under 40
yards since the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. The spirit of the comment is to inspire warm-fuzzies in the gut of the viewer or to statistically uplift the supremacy of the man lining up for the field goal. Then, the kicker whiffs it, and his streak in ceremoniously kaput. The commentator and his pal giggle while one says, “Why’d you even say that, Marv?” You – on the sofa – know why it
happened. Kicker A was jinxed. Clear as day. Like Ron Burgundy said, “It’s science.”

In the same aura of jinxes exists omens. For a while during the last decade, each time the Alabama Crimson Tide won a National Championship – LeBron James’ team won the NBA Finals five months later. In the 1990s, teams that faced the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with
temperatures below freezing were destined to topple the swashbuckling franchise. When the
Buccaneers finally snapped their dreadful, frigid streak, the media simply lowered the temperature to one degree smaller than that of streak-snapping temp. Mass eye-rolls hits tops
of eye sockets in Florida.

A new omen – pertaining to the Vikings – is hereby commencing. The inauguration of President Joseph R. Biden came to fruition on Monday in Washington D.C. What does that have to do with the Minnesota Vikings? A lot.

Mike Zimmer’s team is heading to the NFC Championship in January of 2022.

The New President Inauguration Rule

In years when a brand new president is inaugurated (like now), the Vikings have later traveled to an NFC Championship. This applies to Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

In 2008, Obama rode a wave of change and hope to the presidency with a rather decisive election triumph over Senator John McCain. Obama even won the state of Indiana, which before and after is a ruby-red color for electoral sway.

Eight years later, Trump upset Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a stunning political victory –
perhaps the most shocking in United States history. The polls were accurate on the popular vote tally as Clinton won that metric by 2.1% nationwide. In three critical states – Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan – Trump notched Electoral College wins thus securing his presidency. The states were theorized to be relatively safe in Clinton’s pantsuit-pocket, but that assumption was completely inaccurate.

Obama was sworn in on January 20th, 2009. The Vikings began their almost-storybook season with Brett Favre at the helm about seven months later. The campaign culminated with an infamous NFC Championship game appearance in New Orleans.

Trump took the oath on January 20th, 2017. You see where this is going. Minnesota embarked
on a slog to the 2017 NFC Championship nearly seven months after Trump’s inauguration.

Take out your Google Calendar smartphone apps. Schedule the Vikings in the 2021 NFC
Championship game.

Re-Election Years – Not So Kind

Like most jinxes and omens, exceptions loom. When an incumbent president wins reelection,
this Vikings rule is sullied. Obama was inaugurated in 2013 after defeating Governor Mitt Romney in 2012. The Vikings finished the 2013 season with a 5-10-1 record, a decisive
affirmation to end the Christian Ponder Experiment, and a mission to find a new head coach – Mike Zimmer.

The last reelection, 2004, was semi-kind to the purple and gold. This was the “backing into the
playoffs” season for Mike Tice and the gang. The Vikings played poorly down the stretch, plopping their playoff invitation firmly inside Lambeau Field. Randy Moss figuratively exposed his buttocks to Green Bay fans, announcer Joe Buck went ballistic, and the Vikings ended the
Packers season. There was no NFC Championship trip in 2004, but that memory is timeless. Bush was sworn in days later following his reelection over Senator John Kerry.

Need Everything to Click – For Once

Back to the nuts of bolts of football – politics be damned.

One of these seasons under Mike Zimmer, all three segments of the team – offense, defense,
special teams – is destined to jive in unison. During 2017, the defense brought the fury of Satan while the offense did enough to appear competent. The next season, Dalvin Cook was injured once again, the offensive line coach passed away, and Minnesota imploded late in the year.

For 2019, the defense took a small step back – the secondary and cornerback play in particular
– but Minnesota recorded its first postseason win of the Cousins era. Most recently, 2020,
injuries ravaged the defense, and the franchise teetered on catastrophe entering the bye week.

If all the forces align – just once for a Zimmer team – that time is now. Cousins has two years
left on his contract extension. Dalvin Cook’s prime will probably last two more seasons. And
Mike Zimmer is on the hot seat for the first credible time of his tenure.

But it’s an Inauguration Year, so we’re golden.

Dustin Baker

Writer. Host of Bleav in Vikings Podcast w/B-Mac & Baker.

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