Lets go back.
The overachieving Vikings hosting the mighty Packers in a must win game for the last spot in the playoffs. Adrian Peterson only one more monster game away from the single season rushing record. Almost everything aligned that night in Minneapolis. Christian Ponder played the game of his life, Vikings sneak into the playoffs, and AP misses the record by a mere eight yards. If not for Ponder's bum triceps and a current WR playing QB in the playoffs, who knows where the Vikings would have rode that momentum.
Now let's fast forward.
Nearly one year and three first round draft picks later and the Vikes are vying for the number one pick in the draft. One of the worst teams in the NFL. In the cellar of the league. What happened?
Expectations were high for the Minnesota Vikings heading into the 2013 NFL season. After riding Adrian Peterson and a clutch, albeit unlikely, Christian Ponder performance into the playoffs, things seemed to be coming together.
Then, Christian Ponder turned back into Christian Ponder. Every DB on the team shared time on the injury report and each week was followed by an even more spectacular choke the next.
Before mid-season rolled around, the team found themselves with a three-way QB disaster, on the bottom of every power ranking and eons from playoff contention.
But was this team really that bad? Were they really that far away, again, from contending.
The record, 3-8-1, says yes. I say, absolutely not.
Week one was a winnable game, but one the Vikings deserved to lose, due to multiple untimely errors by Ponder against a quality Detroit team. Weeks 2, 3, 9, and 12 are different stories.
The Vikings held the lead with under one minute to play in weeks two, three and nine and had to settle for a tie in week 12 after a dropped touchdown by Greg Jennings would have sealed it in OT.
I know fans fall victim to this every time, the shoulda, coulda, woulda mentality, but in this situation, it proves that the Minnesota Vikings are a much better team than anyone gives them credit for. That 3-8-1 record could easily be a 7-5 division leading record. A ecord that should have been achieved, despite sending out rookies and backups to stop some of the NFL's best WR's and employing a mediocre-at-best QB circus.
Remember those three first round draft picks I mentioned above. They haven't been half-bad. Sharif Floyd has shown flashes of brilliance during his brief playing time. Xavier Rhodes has been forced to cover the other team's top receiver several times and has come up with the second most passes defended by a Vikings rookie. Cordarrelle Patterson had a 33 yard rushing TD and a high five from the ref in last week's win against Chicago and has returned two kickoffs for TD's, including this record breaking return against Green Bay.
While this team is better than its record, it's very likely that they will continue to lose, with the meat of the AFC North (Cincy, Baltimore, Pitt) and NFC North leading Detroit left to play.
Would a 3-12-1 record be that bad for Vikings fans? The team is almost guaranteed a top six pick in next year's draft and healthy veterans from a playoff team will be back, alongside budding rookies. This season should leave fans excited for the next. *
*All positives pending on the addition of competent QB.
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