Don’t Count on a Super Bowl for the Vikings Just Yet

Adam Zobel

Adam Zobel

The Minnesota Vikings may be 3-0 with three divisions wins, but don’t be planning a Super Bowl trip to Houston just yet.

I love the Vikes, but I am far from convinced that they will be able to contend for the Lombardi Trophy this season.

Quarterback Daunte Culpepper has greatly improved his play this season and has been avoiding interceptions. His fumbling, however, is still a great concern to the Viking faithful. In addition, his back injury sustained Sunday against Detroit may sideline him and/or limit his effectiveness for several games. Backup Gus Frerotte was competent in relief, but does not have the versatility of Culpepper that makes defensive coordinators cringe.

After success against Green Bay and Chicago, the Viking rushing attack struggled against the Lions with the exception of Culpepper’s two touchdown runs and a 61-yard scamper by Moe Williams. Injuries have benched running backs Michael Bennett and Doug Chapman while rookie Onterrio Smith has not yet proven to be the “Steal of the Draft” he had proclaimed himself to be. Thus, the Vikes have severe limitations in the running game as their schedule toughens in upcoming weeks.

The receiving corps has also had mixed results. Randy Moss has played unevenly and was not at the top of his game against Detroit. Kelly Campbell has made some huge plays, but he is prone to injury and dropped some passes on Sunday. Dwayne Bates has the injury bug and Nate Burlson is still getting used to the NFL.

The defense has done its job in containing opposing offenses and making turnovers. The defensive line has struggled in applying quarterback pressure with most sacks coming on blitzes. Nevertheless, defensive coordinator George O’Leary ought to be commended for his work in improving a dreadful unit.

Special teams play and penalties are two of the most pressing concerns for the Vikings to address if they are to even come close to playing at Reliant Stadium for the NFL title this winter. The Purple botched an extra point, missed a 36-yard field goal attempt, and allowed several large kick returns against Detroit; they also made like the Oakland Raiders in accumulating 11 infractions for 125 yards, including drive-killing offensive holding calls and several defensive pass interference flags that almost allowed the lowly Lions to pull an upset.

The Vikings have already surprised a lot of football fans this fall with their defensive ability to create turnovers and their offensive capacity to run the ball despite the injury to Bennett. Despite the great strides made so far this season, Coach Mike Tice and his staff have a lot of work to do in order for the Vikings to contend for the Super Bowl.