The Minnesota Vikings return home in week 13 without head coach Mike Zimmer to face a surging Dallas Cowboys team on Thursday Night Football.
53 days ago, I sat delighted in my basement as Marcus Sherels returned a punt for a touchdown against the Houston Texans. During that return I got a special feeling inside. I was starting to believe. I think everyone was. The Minnesota Vikings were on their way to yet another dominating victory, and Super Bowl aspirations began to surface.
What happened to that?
The Vikings are set to play the Cowboys tonight and the odds seem stacked against them. Despite the numerous injuries to the offense line, and team as a whole, coach Zimmer is now out with an eye injury. With Mike Priefer taking over for the moment the Vikings find themselves in a peculiar situation. Zimmer is the defensive play-caller on this team, a role that will now go
to defensive coordinator George Edwards. In a game of this magnitude I would certainly feel more comfortable having Zimmer guide the ship, but we’ll see what Edwards could do.
Stopping the Cowboys seems like an impossible task. They have rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott gashing defenses, a ferocious offensive line, a great set of wide receivers led by superstar Dez Bryant, and oh yeah, this rookie quarterback named Dak Prescott playing out of his mind. This team has so many weapons that they will find a way to get yards and move the chains no matter who you take out of the game.
For the Vikings to win this game we are going to need an out-of-this-world effort by our defense. If they are able to find the rhythm that they had at the beginning of the season then we might stand a chance. It will be very difficult for the Vikings to win a shoot-out. The best chance we have is a herculean effort from our defense, which is now without its leader.
It would be lovely to see some down the field shots throughout the game. Nothing frustrates me more than a 3 yard 3rd and 9 throw, something the Vikings have excelled at this season. With Diggs back the field should open up a little more. The question is who is going to step up. My best guess would be Thielen or Patterson, but Diggs cannot do everything on his own.
The current standings have the Vikings behind in both the division and the wildcard race. Detroit is a game up in terms of record, but they hold a tiebreaker with the Vikes, which means the Vikings need to finish the season with one more win than the Lions.
The Lions end the year at New Orleans, vs the Bears, at the Giants, in Dallas, and lastly vs Green Bay. I’m hoping they lose three of those games. The Vikings would have to go 4-1 over their final five games to win the division if this scenario were to play out. Winning the division is so vital because of the home-field advantage. The Vikings are a team who play much better at home than they do on the road. With a loud crowd behind them the Vikings are a much more dangerous team.
For a chance at the division title the Vikings have to win tonight. Losing another game and going to 6-6 will take all of the air out of this team and put them in a very tough position for not only the division, but a wild-card.
If we are able to squeeze out a win the momentum would carry over for sure. Finishing the season at Jacksonville, vs Indianapolis, at Green Bay, and vs Chicago is not too bad on paper. A 3-1 or 4-0 finish should give us a playoff game. But it all starts tonight. We need the momentum.
The Vikings are faced with overwhelming odds tonight. No coach, several key players out or hurt, and playing against a team that has won 10 straight games. No one is giving us a chance to win tonight. But hey, everyone has their kryptonite.
Get excited Minnesota Vikings fans, the season is on the line tonight.