As the Packers, Lions, and others, recently have demonstrated, having a new or newly refurbished stadium assures little except that I team has a new or newly refurbished stadium. On Sunday, the Bears offered but the latest example that stadium renovations and building do not, in and of themselves, equate to victories.
Six years removed from a $660 million renovation of their home field, the Chicago Bears look nearly as lost and hopeless as their new-stadium brethren Detroit Lions--perhaps more so, given the play of each team's respective quarterbacks. Whether as helpless as, or more hapless than, the Lions, the Bears certainly are no competition for the Minnesota Vikings.
On Sunday, the Vikings proved that to be just the case, rolling up 537 yards and scoring 36 points against the Cubbies cross-town cohorts and giving Chicago fans reason to believe that yet another of their teams could be joining the ignominious and tight circle of teams left, just north of mid-season, to play for next season.
The Bears were awful in virtually every aspect of yesterday's game at the Metrodome, ceding not only gobs of yardage but also folding like cheap tents in a light breeze on offense. If not for two called back touchdowns (one on a drive that saw a touchdown to Visanthe Shiancoe negated by a Viking penalty only to conclude in a touchdown to Shiancoe but that also took time off of the game clock), numerous Vikings' penalties, and merciful offensive playcalling by the Vikings for much of the fourth quarter, the Bears' margin of defeat would have surpassed humbling and jetted straight to historically embarrassing, a la the '77 Bucs.
For the Vikings, it was yet another patsy in what has been a nice run of patsies. And given the performances of their remaining regular season opponents, it is reasonable to expect that Vikings' fans are in for more of the same, at least through the first round of the playoffs--a round into which the Vikings are all but assured of passing. With five games remaining, there are several teams with a mathematical chance of catching the Vikings in the standings, but, barring an injury to Brett Favre, none of them have any realistic hope of so doing.
On the Vikings' remaining schedule are home games against the New York Giants, losers of five of their past six games--including an embarrassing 26-6 blowout loss at Denver this week, a road game at Arizona, losers at the lowly Tennessee Titans this week, a home game against a Cincinnati Bengals team that lost 20-17 at the Raiders last week and squeaked by the Cleveland Browns this week, the 4-7 Carolina Panthers, 17-6 losers to the 5-6 New York Jets on Sunday, and the same lowly Bears that they faced this week.
In short, what the Vikings have ahead of them on their schedule looks prodigiously like what they already have faced for much of the season--a slew of teams that look, feel, and taste a lot like chicken.
Up Next: Do the Vikings Have a Kick-Ass Offense? Plus, are the football Gods finally smiling on the Vikings or merely baiting fans?