December 22, 2007
Saturday Sports Talk

Almost time for the Vikings biggest game since, oh, January 9, 2005 when Randy Moss caught two touchdown passes, and the Vikings rolled to a 31-17 upset victory over the stunned Green Bay Packers. Don't remember? Take a little trip down memory lane:

So once the game is over this coming Sunday night against the Washington Redskins will it be just another washout?

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Or will people be clamoring on the Chilly bandwagon?

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It is any one's guess as to how this game will go down. It may end up taking only about 2 hours and 15 minutes to play as I expect both teams to be stubborn in their respective attempts to establish the run and screw the pass.

How important is this game for each team, the Saints, and the Giants? Let's run down the six scenarios:

1 The Vikings will clinch a playoff spot if they win their final two games to finish 10-6. If New Orleans loses to Philadelphia on Sunday and the Vikings beat the Redskins, the Vikings would clinch a wild-card berth.

2 If the Vikings and Giants both finish 9-7, the Vikings win the tiebreaker (head to head) and would get a higher seed.

3 If the Giants finish 10-6 and the Vikings and Saints tie at 9-7, the Saints would get the final playoff spot based on better conference record.

4 If the Vikings, Giants and Saints are tied at 9-7, the Saints would get one spot because they would have an 8-4 conference record. The Giants will finish with a 7-5 record vs. NFC teams. The Vikings will be 7-5 vs. NFC teams if they beat the Redskins. They would then edge out the Giants because of a head-to-head victory.

5 If the Redskins, Saints and Vikings are tied at 9-7 for the final wild-card spot, the Saints would get the edge (better conference record).

6 If the Vikings, New Orleans, Washington and the N.Y. Giants all finish the season with 9-7 records, the two NFC wild-card teams would be the Saints and the Redskins based on assorted tiebreakers.

Yeah, this game can now simply be called Armageddon 2007. This will be a heck of a collision. And it now appears the Vikes will be without the services of Sidney Rice (ankle) or Antoine Winfield (shoulder) as neither player was able to suit up for practice on Friday.

Look Ahead

Depending on the source, the Vikings are projected to be in the neighborhood of $28 to $33 million dollars under the NFL salary cap heading into next season. Does that mean we are going to spend big on free agents and upshore some vital areas? Probably not, and here is why.

The current ownership, coaching, and front office philosophy is about getting a bang-for-the-buck. Don't look for the Vikings to pick up the big names this coming free agency. They will simply be looking for value. With that in mind, here are some names I have heard coming from my moles deep in Winter Park in recent weeks:

Bernard Berrian, WR (Chicago Bears)
Berrian was able to put together a decent season in ’06. His 51 receptions and six touchdowns aren’t overly impressive, but they do suggest that he is an improving talent and may be a strong number two option or a decent number one option down the road. His size isn’t ideal, but his speed and athleticism has countered that enough to allow him to be a solid contributor. At just 26 years of age, Berrian will garner interest from teams looking to capitalize on his growth at the position.

Bryant Johnson, WR (Arizona Cardinals)
Johnson could fly under the radar this season, but those in the know consider him quite talented. He’s overshadowed by star receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin, but Johnson runs great routes, has good hands, and at 6’3? his size makes him an appealing option. He’s caught at least 35 passes in each of his four seasons, including 49 receptions in 2004, and has a touchdown scored in each season, with four coming in ’06. Johnson will likely find a bigger role in another offense in ’08.

D.J. Hackett, WR (Seattle Seahawks)
Could this finally be the field-stretching burner the Vikings need to further flumox opposing defenses putting as many as nine men in the box to slow down the Vikings run. Some say yes.

L.J. Smith, TE (Philadelphia Eagles)
Another younger tight end, Smith has 50 receptions or more and over 600 yards receiving during each of the past two years with the Eagles. He scored five touchdown in ‘06 and ’04 while becoming a top option for quarterback Donovan McNabb. Smith seems to find the right place on the field and has shown great strength at his spot. This is yet another Eagles connection that Brad Childress could look at to upgrade a position that is so vital in a West Coast offense but has yet to develop for the Vikings under Chilly.

Jared Allen, DE (Kansas City Chiefs)
This is the FA that some people are already saying is the coveted name at the top of the Vikings FA wish list. There is a good chance that he’ll try the market out come next offseason. He’s just 25 years of age, and has shown that he is among the league’s best at his position. He’ll be a high priority for several teams once the signing period opens.

Are there names you are hearing or wish the Vikes would make a play for this coming off-season? Leave a comment below.

Posted by maasx003 at December 22, 2007 1:31 AM