Thursday Night Football 2010: Why Vikings and Saints Won’t Meet Again
For those of you who haven't heard, the Saints and Vikings square off tonight, in a rematch of last year's NFC title game.
Then, the Saints sported a 13-3 regular season record, and the Vikes came in at 12-4, the two best teams in the NFC. This season though, there are a number of factors that will, in all likelihood, keep both teams from reaching the same plateau.
Here are 10 reasons why neither the Saints nor the Vikings will be playing in Dallas come February 6.
10. Brad Childress
Childress might have gotten the Vikes to within a game of the Super Bowl in 2009, but no one will mistake Minnesota's head coach for Bud Grant, the legendary Viking head coach who led the team to four Super Bowls (they lost all of them).
In fact, Childress lacks the clout necessary to command the respect of his own players. Notice how Brett Favre seems to be running the show most of the time? It's because he is. When the pair got into it last season over Favre changing called runs to passes, Childress didn't even have the spine to bench him. This season, it could cost the Vikes a Super Bowl trip.
9. The Detroit Lions
Last season, the NFC North was a two-team race. It came down to the Packers, and the Vikings. This year? Look for the Lions, who haven't been to the playoffs since 1999, and haven't had a winning record since 2000, to become a major player in the division this year.
They're rife with young talent offensively, and their defense should improve it's standing from last year. The Lions aren't an easy out anymore, and could prevent the Vikings from sniffing the NFC Championship game.
8. The Atlanta Falcons
Last season was a major disappointment for the Atlanta Falcons. With high hopes after the 2008-09 season, Matt Ryan and the Falcons dropped to 9-7 and missed the playoffs.
But the team has all its major offensive cogs back, including slot receiver Harry Douglas, who missed last season with an injury. They've got talented wideouts, a legendary tight end in Tony Gonzalez and a stud running back in Michael Turner. Plus, that Ryan guy isn't so bad either.
Add to that the fact that no team has won consecutive NFC South crowns since the division was formed, and the Saints could be in trouble.
7. The San Francisco 49ers
This is the year the Niners get things back on track. People were a season too early proclaiming their renaissance, and they pose a real threat to whomever they'd face in the postseason.
Running back Frank Gore is as powerful a runner as there is in the NFL, while quarterback Alex Smith and tight end Vernon Davis each have developed into excellent weapons.
Add to that wideout Michael Crabtree and a dominant defense, and you have the makings of a club that can run roughshod over a subpar NFC West.
They could easily make the playoffs, and cause serious problems for both the Vikes and Saints once there.
6. The Vikings' Secondary Isn't All That Good
The Vikings ranked 19th last season in passing yards allowed, placing them in the lower half of the middle of the pack. But the fact they were that high was due more to Minnesota's blitz heavy defensive schemes than on talent in the secondary.
This season, look for teams to exploit that rather glaring weakness, which will cost the Vikings down the stretch and into the postseason more than it did last year.
5. The Saints Defense Isn't That Good
The Saints defense has talent. They just run a high-risk, high-reward system. When it works, like last year, they look really strong. When it doesn't, like the year before, they get burned.
With that high a chance of getting burned, the Saints defense is too risky to see them repeating as Super Bowl reps.
4. Sidney Rice
The Vikings will miss their best receiver from 2009. Dearly.
Rice came into his own as a viable option last season as a favorite target of Brett Favre, but the former South Carolina Gamecock is out for the first 8-10 weeks of the season after preseason hip surgery.
Minnesota has picked up Greg Camarillo from Miami and former Favre favorite Javon Walker from your local Applebees, but neither one can replicate Rice's combination of size, speed and hands. Without him, this team will suffer.
3. The Vikings' Tenuous Team Chemistry
Last season, if you'll recall, the Vikings seemed to have some serious issues in terms of chemistry. When Favre started improvising play calls from runs to passes, it seemed like it was an issue solely between Favre and Childress.
But imagine you're Adrian Peterson, the best running back in the NFL. You're the star of the team, and all of a sudden, this old man (Favre) starts taking your carries to make bad throws to players who are double covered.How does that make you feel. Imagine you're Childress, your authority undermined. How do you feel?
Add to that the heavy blitz schemes on defense (which leave players on islands defensively against the run and the pass) and you've got a recipe for some serious problems.
Maybe everything will be fine. But maybe it won't.
2. Brett Favre's Ankle
Brett Favre is a 40 year old NFL starting quarterback. By November, he'll be 41. Let that sink in for a second: Brett Favre is old enough to be most NFL players' father.
Favre had a serious ankle injury at the end of last season. He's still hurting from it. That won't improve over the rigorous 16 game season, nor will it improve in the playoffs.
His body is breaking down and refusing to heal, yet he continues to play. Something tells me this will be his last NFL season, and he won't be physically able to play next year. Because you can't throw the ball off one leg.
1. The Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers will prevent both the Saints and Vikings from reaching the Super Bowl. Why? Because they're going. With a juggernaut-caliber offense, and a formidable defense, the Pack look poised to make a run at a title.
And if they beat the Favre led Vikings? Let's just say Rodgers will be getting a bronze statue outside Lambeau Stadium before he retires.
Hell, the whole team might get bronze statues, just to rub it in No. 4's country face. This team is young, talented, hungry, and itching for payback for their losses to Minnesota during the 2009 regular season.