After the third loss of the month for the Minnesota Vikings, fans are pouring off the bandwagon as if avoiding the Black Plague?
Yes, the Vikings have a history of late-season collapses, but giving Minnesota no chance at a deep playoff run is a complete over-reaction. Call me a fan blinded by my optimism, but the Vikings still have a solid chance to win the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs.
By losing this game, the Vikings were officially eliminated from any chance at the No. 1 seed. This is a tough pill to swallow, but it is important to remember that New Orleans field is in a dome; if Minnesota can hold onto the No. 2 seed, they won't have to play in a cold environment.
As of now, the Vikings and Eagles both have an 11-4 record. Unfortunately for fans of the purple and gold, Philadelphia holds the tie-breaker, and the only way Minnesota can achieve a first-round bye is via a victory next week against the Giants and a Cowboys victory over the Eagles.
Although they need some help from Dallas, this scenario isn't implausible. The Cowboys are surging as of late, the Giants just laid an egg in front of a home crowd against Carolina.
Injuries, apathy, and poor coaching can be blamed on Minnesota's overtime loss to Chicago on Monday Night. The huge hole in the defensive line that was created when Pat Williams sat out with a bicep injury prevented the Vikings from effectively pressuring one of the worst offensive lines in the league.
This lack of pressure from the front line directly correlates to the secondary's struggles. With the Williams Wall back intact, the defense should improve dramatically.
Childress' inability to alter the game plan quickly is what hurt Minnesota offensively in the first half. All week long, the Vikings had prepared to pound the ball on the ground against an incompetent Bears' defensive line. When that wasn't working, Childress waited until halftime to try to move the chains through the air.
When taking a look at the big picture of Monday Night's loss to Chicago, a couple of reasons to worry appear.
In the first half, the offense and defense were the reasons for the struggle; in the second half, the special teams coverage unit hindered a thriving offense and defense.
This failure to get all three aspects of the team clicking at the same time is frighteningly reminiscent of past seasons.
Also worth monitoring is the failure of the team to make open-field tackles. This has been a problem all season long. You can't expect a professional athlete (among the most agile people in the world) to simply fall over when you hit them hard.
If Minnesota wants to succeed in the playoffs, they need to stop pushing and start tackling.
Other than failing to adapt the game plan and tackle in the open field, little should be taken from the Vikings game on Monday Night.
The torturous first half (for Minnesota fans, at least) had more to do with simple apathy than incompetence.
Although the Vikings performance in cold weather is frightening, there is little reason for Minnesota fans to pull the plug on the 2009 season...yet.