“Luke? Luke’s crazy! He can’t even take care of himself much less rescue anybody. A Jedi Knight? Jeez, I’m out of it for a little while, everyone gets delusions of grandeur!” – Han Solo, “Return of the Jedi”
There comes a point in every football season where we all have to take a hard look at a handful of teams. They are the teams that play above expectations and look like they may be in the hunt for a playoff spot. They are the teams that might be lucky, might be in the midst of an easy schedule, or they may be the real deal.
This year, that list includes the Minnesota Vikings and the Arizona Cardinals. Each faced off Sunday, with the Vikings taking the 21-14 win.
If I said a team would throw for only 58 yards and toss two interceptions, would you believe me if I said they won? Would you believe if I said they scored 21 points?
No, of course you wouldn’t.
I could say it was delusional of grandeur, but that would be wrong. That mentality goes into the mob thinking that is prevailing throughout the NFL. The thought that passing offense is the way to victory every time is not necessarily correct, and the Vikings are proof.
The Vikings defense had seven sacks and a pick-six. Oh, and a powerful run game. Did everyone forget about Adrian Peterson? That “career changing injury” is but a blip on his path. He ran for 153 yards in a flag-planting game.
The Minnesota scheme of “smoke and mirrors” is actually strong running, strong defense and special teams. A concept that is long lost in the rest of the league.
While Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder has thrown two interceptions in each of the past three games, the Vikings have won. The golden stat is that Ponder has a 68.6 percent completion rate; that is second in the NFL!
The Vikings know what they have in their hands with Ponder. They aren’t asking him to bomb passes and slice-and-dice defenses. They are just asking him to not lose. Their special teams is already responsible for two wins nearly single-handily.
Some teams in the past have gone far with that strategy. Anyone remember Trent Dilfer and the 2000 Ravens?
I’m not saying that this Vikings team is Super Bowl bound.
I’m just saying they are legit.
The Vikings need to improve on their eighth ranked defense. Also, Ponder needs to avoid games like today. 58 yards is not going to do it. Especially, since they have the third hardest schedule for the rest of the year.
As far as the Arizona Cardinals are concerned, on paper they appear to be similar to the Vikings.
However, any idea that their defense and special teams is good enough to hold up really is delusions of grandeur.
Instead of Adrian Peterson, the Cardinals have wide receivers. But what good is Larry Fitzgerald if there isn’t a quarterback that can get him the ball? At his best, replacement John Skelton is (in general terms) on par with Christian Ponder. But what good is John Skelton without a quality running back. The Cardinals don’t need Adrian Peterson, but like their quarterback, they are on to a second and third string running back.
I’m supposed to take you seriously with LaRod Stephens-Howling and John Skelton?
With an offense built with spit and gum, any team can shut their offense down. No matter how good the Cardinals defense is, they won’t be able to overcome that much offensive disadvantage.
That means the Arizona Cardinals are the ones with delusions of grandeur.
And Adrian Peterson is the Luke Skywalker Jedi Knight and hero of the Vikings.
Brian Reddoch is a CraveOnline reporter and rabid fan of all teams Seattle. You can follow him on Twitter @ReddReddoch and at www.facebookcom/craveonlinesports.com.
Photo Credit: Rich Gabrielson/Icon SMI