So here we are: the last game, home field, and the playoffs looming.
Questions have been aplenty the past four weeks, with nervous fans scratching heads over a team that seems lost.
Fortunately for the Vikings, they are already guaranteed a playoff spot, and the pressure isn't about winning, but winning in convincing fashion. The Vikings have a golden opportunity to capitalize on a broken team in the former Super Bowl champion New York Giants.
This game isn't about Favre's revenge from the last time he faced them; it's worth more than that. It's about reining in his horses and leading them into the playoffs with confidence.
Despite their recent struggles, the Vikings have worked on the overall approach to their game, drilled the offensive line, and took the necessary steps to enter the playoffs in the right mental state.
For today's game, it comes down to the ability to forget the last few games and focus on winning, and here are the five keys to that victory.
First , the most important phase of this game relies on protection and the offensive line's ability to create adequate running lanes for Adrian Peterson.
This must-win battle has the team's longevity in its hands, for if they fail today, the damage may be too profound to get out of their heads.
If they move the line and keep the blitz in check, Favre will be able to see his options downfield and strike. One thing about Brett is: if he doesn't have the confidence in his protection, he will rush and force things to happen.
This is paramount, and if the offensive line can find themselves, then New York will be in for a long day.
Second , the wide receivers must create separation and run crisp routes against the Giants' secondary. Switching formations and play-action passing is sure to keep the secondary guessing, and the Vikings should rely heavily on the No. 3 receiver to step up and contribute if they want to keep things honest.
Third is the special teams; namely, the punt and kickoff coverage. The Vikings cannot afford to give the Giants a short field, and in turn must keep the average starting position around the 25-yard line or less.
The benefit here is there is no weather to adversely affect the kicking game; however, there must be a solid effort on personnel to commit to a goal and keep the Giants pinned as far back as they can.
Fourth , the Vikings' secondary must play with pressure coverage, fluster the receivers off the line, and disrupt their rhythm. The Vikings' corners must communicate and take calculated risks when the opportunity is there.
Lastly , the Vikings must pressure the QB, and make him think he has to get rid of the ball quickly. Disguised blitzing and a heavy dose of linebacker pressure should bring this to fruition.
Overall, the Vikings have the talent to easily handle the Giants, but if they get too comfortable, they will again be snake-bitten and head into the playoffs damaged.
The Vikings have a golden opportunity to right the ship today; the question is, which team will show up?
My prediction: Vikings 35, Giants 17