Can the Vikings Out Duel the Timberwolves?
A friend of mine made the following proposition the other day: The Minnesota Vikings will win more games (including playoffs) this year than the Minnesota Timberwolves. My first inclination was to call him a moron. After analyzing the teams’ records (Vikings 8-1, Timberwolves 1-10) and future opponents, I came to three conclusions:
1. The Vikings are good.
2. The Timberwolves are bad.
3. My friend is, in fact, a moron (and he is certainly drinking the Kool-Aid).
Assuming the Vikings win the rest of their regular season games and the Super Bowl, they will end with 18 wins. If you account for more plausible scenarios, the Vikings will likely end in the 13-16 total win range. Personally, I’d set the over/under at 15.
The Timberwolves are currently on pace for about eight wins (well, technically 7.36, but whose counting?). Now I am aware that the Timberwolves are bad; terrible, in fact, but I’m pretty sure they aren’t the worst team in NBA history.
(Disclaimer: I have watched exactly 0 minutes and 0 seconds of Timberwolves basketball this year – twice as much as last – so I am basing this on almost nothing other than watching a few of Johnny Flynn’s Syracuse games, knowing Al Jefferson is at least decent, and realizing Kevin Love is hurt right now, but will be back at some point.)
I just find it hard to believe that with so many bad teams in the NBA, the Timberwolves can’t eek out 15-20 wins. When two terrible teams play each other someone has to win, right?
By the way, does anybody actually watch/care about the Timberwolves? If you are going to follow a Minnesota basketball team, wouldn’t you just watch the Gophers? The Gophers actually somewhat good, plus you get to bet on whether Royce White will have more steals on the court, or off. If you’re telling me the Gophers season won’t be more interesting than the Timberwolves, then I’m calling you a liar. But I digress…
The Vikings vs. Timberwolves win total battle boils down to whether you think the Vikings will win the Super Bowl. If they do not, which odds are they won’t, they will amass at most 17 wins, and likely less.
It isn’t that I don’t think the Vikings are good, they certainly are. I just don’t think the Vikings are great. I have three major problems with the Vikings, and coincidentally (or not) all three are directly related to Brad Childress.
1. The Vikings are sloppy.
Now, the Vikings have actually been better this year at not taking stupid penalties than they have in the past, but on field discipline has always been an issue under Childress. Take this week’s Lions game for example: The Vikings had 13 penalties. 13 Penalties! Against the Lions! Coming off a bye! Exclamation point!
Do you think the Belichick led Patriots would have 13 penalties coming off a bye? Or the Dungy led Colts? Or the Cowher led Steelers? I’ll even add the Tomlin led Steelers to this list because it still pisses me off the Vikings let Tomlin leave in favor of Chilly.
Giving up 13 penalties shows a lack of discipline and focus, especially coming off a bye week. When a team has extra rest and is playing arguably the worst team in football, it is the coach’s job to keep the players focused. Childress failed to do so.
2. The Vikings can't put teams away.
Combined record of Vikings opponents: 22-39.
Number of one win teams the Vikings have played: 4 (Lions twice).
Number of teams over .500 the Vikings have played: 3 (Packers twice – but let’s be honest, the Packers aren’t actually good.)
Number of times the Vikings have beat an opponent by over two touchdowns: Twice
Number of stats listed before this listing shtick got annoying: One.
Point being, the Vikings aren’t playing good teams, and, yet, in almost every game their opponent has hung around. In fact, if it wasn’t for the Favre miracle, or the Ravens missed field goal, the Vikings would be 6-3. With two wins against the Packers, they would still be in relatively good shape in the division, but they would be nowhere near the “best team in the league” conversation.
With that said, a wins a win, and the Vikings are 8-1, not 6-3. Every good team needs luck, and I acknowledge that. Come January, however, the Vikings rinky-dink, dick-around-when-leading offense isn’t going to work. If you play field position by running nothing but draws and screens on third and long against playoff teams, instead of trying to put them away, I promise it will come back to bite you; which leads me to my next point…
3. The Vikings have bad play calling, especially with the lead.
There is something to be said for not making mistakes – obviously. But there is also something to be said for playing to win, instead of playing not to lose.
When the Vikings get up by ten or more, they play not to lose. This approach may work against the Lions, Rams, and Browns, but against the Saints or Cardinals – teams with big time offenses – you have to play to win. You have to go for the jugular when you get the lead.
Remember two years ago when the Patriots went 16-0? They didn’t run draws and screens. Hell, I don’t think they even had draws in the playbook. Now, obviously, that offense was special, and the circumstance was a little different than the Vikings, but the theory is the same. Get a lead, put a team away. Bury them. If you let a good team hang around, they will eventually come up with a big play. That’s just how it works.
This brings us back to the proposition: Vikings vs. Timberwolves. Even if you assume the Timberwolves will win less than 20 games (which is a bold claim in and of itself) you are stating “I believe the Brad Childress led Vikings can win the Super Bowl.”
That, my friend, is a bold proclamation. And one, I certainly cannot, in good conscience, make.
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