Vikings Rob and Pillage
You see, the Vikings record says they are 2-0, and that this weekend's meeting with the Bears is a match-up of undefeated teams. Technically true. And looking back, a win is a win. But looking ahead, how a team performed tells you more about whether that team will win again than the final score. And the Vikings are lucky to be 2-0.
The Vikings have won two games because the Redskins went penalty happy and field goal sad, and the Panthers just went plain crazy, trying that punt return lateral. The Vikings had given no indication that they would be able to drive down the field and score if the Panthers just chewed up the clock and punted. Everybody gets some undeserved wins when the other team self-destructs or the ball takes a lucky bounce, but at best the Vikings deserve to be a .500 team right now.
Actually, saying that the Vikes are essentially a .500 team that has gotten some lucky breaks is giving the team more credit than it deserves. According to DVOA, Football Outsiders' all around measure of a team's performance, the Vikes are ranked 17th so far this season. They're 19th on offense and 22nd on special teams. Only their 12th ranked D is above average.
Brad Johnson, the veteran "game manager" who helms the Vikings' ship, was terrible last week. Yes, he completed 20 of 31 passes, but he threw no touchdowns, did throw an interception, went 2 of 11 on 3rd down, was sacked on another 3rd down, and on the team's 13th third down ran for 1 yard. It was third and 2.
So what does this mean for Sunday's "showdown"? The Bears should dominate the Vikings. Bears fans have been beaten down by a decade plus of mediocrity and failure, so it's unfamiliar and frightening to say that the Bears should dominate a non-sucky opponent on the road. But it's true. The Bears have been one of the top 3 teams in the league so far. DVOA ranks the Bears' offense at #4, their defense at #7, and their special teams as the best in the league. Think the Bears' top-ranked unit will be able to take advantage of the Vikings' crappy special teams?
All of this could mean nothing this week. Any given Sunday, and all that jazz. At home, the Vikes could upset the Bears this weekend. But by the end of the season the Vikes will be a .500 team because that's what they are. The Bears, on the other hand, will be competing for home field advantage, and challenging for the Super Bowl. And, if the teams play to their abilities this weekend, then the Bears will put an end to the Vikings' thieving ways.