We made the playoffs! Paul Allen does his Vikings Derby each week on KFAN but let’s get a jump on that this week. If this was a match race, and the Vikings were our steed, the plan would go a little like this…
1. Let the star carry the barn – How many times have you seen a team try to be something that it’s not to keep the other team guessing? The Vikings run AP, and run him often. It’s said week in and week out; do NOT put the ball in the air as long as those two legs are functional. Yes, once in a while the ball must be thrown elsewhere to keep the defense honest but let’s be real. AP is like Mariano Rivera’s cutter – you know what’s coming, you’ve seen it a million times and it’s still impossible to prepare for. He’s a freak, let him be. He’ll run over, under, across, around and straight through defenders… a weapon to be used, not used as a distraction.
2. Go to the whip early – Picture it: Lambeau Field, first playoff game, an entire Saturday for the town of Green Bay to tie one on, snow, freezing cold and noise to drown out a small explosion. Sound like rallying territory? For the underdog from across the river? Not really. Don’t try things out early, don’t settle for a couple of minutes off the clock – Go for the jugular. I’m not going to stress taking the crowd out of the game, because that probably just won’t happen regardless of the score. Give them something to be angry about though, not something to drive a confident defense. The Vikings took it to the Pack from the start last Sunday and need to duplicate that kind of early energy to have any sort of chance. Don’t act overly confident in pulling off a field-goal victory, act as hungry as a team squeaking into the playoffs should. Let their confidence be their downfall.
3. Keep the blinkers on – The Vikings were supposed to excel in the beginning of their season and falter late, and half of that they did… fortunately the blinkers went on right after the last game at Lambeau and they haven’t come off since. The last game in GB went a little flat towards the end, with the team failing to “Change leads” if you will and ending up with an L for the week. Even with the last two divisional wins being by a neck and a length (3 and 7 points), how crucial did they turn out to be? A playoff run need not include blowouts along the way, just a series of workmanlike efforts in the right spots. Minnesota has not found a new powerhouse punch, but they seem to have streamlined the talented pieces into one effective unit over the past few weeks. A metaphorical set of blinkers if you will, have focused this group from zeroes to heroes.
4. Don’t give up the rail – I myself have not seen the four Superbowl debacles the Vikings have put on for their faithful, but I’ve seen plenty of playoff runs as underdogs and favorites go belly-up. Sometimes we’re outplayed, but more often than not the Vikings limp out of the stadium with feet riddled with bullet holes. With the setting and opponent this year, a perfect performance may still not yield a W. But, getting in the minus turnover ratio spells almost certain death for the Purple People Eaters. It’s been automatic this year: When we don’t turn the ball over, we win. When it goes negative, the game does too. The playoffs are a whole new ball game (pun not intended), but doing favors for a team like the Packers is never a good idea. They will almost always make you pay.
5. Don’t get Pat Day’d – This match-up is essentially the veteran five year old vs. the late-developing three year old. The Pack will have something left at the end of the game for one last push whether they’re ahead or behind, and lacking a corresponding punch will not work. This applies more for the defense than the offense, but both had better be prepared for a relentless drive unlike anything during the regular season. No huddle, rapid fire driving is something better handled by Aaron Rodgers than Christian Ponder no doubt but one will face a lot more rookies than the other. The defense has its share of woes and those in need of front wraps (Antoine Winfield), but overall has come through in crunch time and will prove a crucial factor in victory. Their performance in the final two minutes of the game could make or break anything that AP and the offense can put together. And nothing, NOTHING would be worse than losing a photo in round three of the border battle.
Remember, we’ve got TRAXXAS Snocross racing all weekend at Canterbury Park – Saturday night’s game will be available on all three levels right alongside the Snowmobile Racing action. Let’s see if the Vikings can repeat and take the Pack wire to wire!
This blog was written by Canterbury Paddock Analyst Angela Hermann. Angela Hermann just completed her second year as Canterbury’s Paddock Analyst after previously serving in a similar role at Lincoln Racecourse and Columbus Ag Park. She blogs about both local and National racing.