Monday, November 15, 2010

Minnesota a Higher Employed Michigan as Vikings Fall to Par With Lions

One of Minnesota's longest-living sportswriters long has quipped that, but for professional sports in the Twin Cities, Minneapolis would be little more than a cold Omaha. That sportswriter's entire universe is, of course, sports, so it is easy to understand how his perception of a city could be determined entirely by whether the market caters to each of the top four professional sports franchises in the United States and equally easy to understand his perception that the reason that businesses locate in Minneapolis is because of the sports teams.

A more valid comparison than the far less populated, less Fortune 500 situated Omaha, however, might be comparing the State of Minnesota to that of Michigan, at least in our sportswriter's sports only World. Only, in this comparison, one need not assume that either market is or will be without its current slate of professional sports teams, however loosely one wishes to use that phrase.

After a shellacking at the hands of the Chicago Bears on Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings have nudged the entire State of Minnesota into the realm of discussions once reserved exclusively for the Detroit Lions. And the discussion is, to say the least, not a good one.

Through nine games this season, the Minnesota Vikings stand a mere game ahead of the last-place Lions in the NFC North. A strong case can be made, however, that that statistic will correct by the end of the season, flipping Minnesota and Detroit.

On the season, the Detroit Lions have scored 215 points, the Vikings 169. The Lions' point total is good for tenth in the NFL; the Vikings' point total is twenty-sixth in the league. And though the Lions have surrendered the eleventh most points this season at 202, Minnesota is only a touchdown off that figure.

At the end of the season, overall margin of victory/loss offers a good proxy on a team's relative standing within the NFL. At present, the Lions are at +13, the Vikings are a -26. Only 11 teams have a worse margin than Vikings. Is there any doubt that, with younger players at core positions and a coach who finally seems competent, the Lions soon will be overtaking the Vikings?

Tomorrow's forecast in Pontiac, Michigan is 54. In Minneapolis, it might reach 40.

Up Next: Who Pays What and Building a Stadium.


Cabrito said...

With our dreams for the Super Bowl now gone up in smoke, barring a miracle, I'd like to weigh in with my opinion about what the Vikings should do for the rest of the season. Not that anyone cares about my opinion, of course, but I'll throw it out anyway in hopes that you might address the issue yourself, VG.

It's interesting to contrast the mentality of recent perennial losers like Detroit, St. Louis, Cleveland, etc., with that of the Vikings, who were expected to win but didn't. The sense of despondency among the Vikings' players is palpable. Your post on the Bears game, VG, criticizes their interest level. I expect this lack of genuine interest will persist for the rest of the season. It's not that the players don't want to win -- obviously they would prefer winning to losing. But are they ready to put everything they have into winning a few meaningless games? I doubt it, which is why I contrast them to those perennial losers I mentioned. The Lions, for example, aren't giving up because the season is over for them. They never expected to win anyway, not this year. Their goal is to win one game at a time, in expectation that they'll be able to parlay their improvement into future competitiveness.

Can the Vikings adopt a similar attitude? I would say no, because of the higher expectations they had. The only way to put the team into such a mindset is to pretend that the last seven games constitute a "new season," as it were. To illustrate my point, I doubt that Jason Garrett's actual coaching was vastly superior to that of Wade Phillips, but he's managing to instill a new spirit into the Cowboys' team. Like the Lions, they're probably going to go all out to do well in the "second season" coming up.

There's a lesson here for the Vikings. A lot of the pundits are saying that there's no point in firing Childress now. I say that's exactly what Zygi should do, because if he doesn't, there's little hope that the Vikings can forget about their dismal failure this year, recharge their batteries, and approach the last half of the season with a different mind set. That their attitude could possibly change with Chili still at the helm is, to put it bluntly, inconceivable.

KSandbergFL said...

Detroit Lions have something the Vikings don't -- a good head coach. The Lions have had some bad breaks this season, and could easily be 5-4 or maybe even 6-3. They've been competitive in all their games this year, unlike the Vikings. Their offense is certainly more fun to watch.