Brett Favre (Morry Gash/AP)
Will the 50th year of the franchise be the charm? WhatIfSports.com has the Vikings pegged as the next Super Bowl champion, and the website’s track record over the last year has been impressive.
There is little doubting the advancements that have been in technology in the realm of sports. It won’t be long until NFL games will be available in 3-D from the comfort of your own home. Twitter has become a bigger immediate news source than The New York Times. If a computer-generated 2010 season plays out as predicted, the Vikings will be the Super Bowl champion.
The website WhatIfSports.com has partnered up with FOX Sports to do an exhaustive statistical analysis of the coming 2010 season. WhatIfSports does similar statistical analysis for Major League Baseball, the NBA, NHL, college football and college basketball. According to their website, they correctly picked not only the Saints to win the Super Bowl, but the Yankees to win the World Series, Alabama to win the BSC Championship and Duke to win the NCAA men’s basketball tournament within the last year.
The information collected is “as many statistics as we can find to come up with probabilities of any event occurring,” WhatIfSports plays simulated games 10,001 times to determine a winner. According to their numbers, the Vikings will finish 11-5. What is a variable in the situation is that the overall records are adjusted. The only game the week-to-week numbers have the Vikings losing is the opener to the Saints by a score a 30-27. In every other matchup, they win more than 50 percent of the time. Perhaps most troubling to Lovie Smith would be the fact that the Vikings beat the Bears at Soldier Field 88 percent of the time – better percentage odds than either game against the Lions. Ouch!
Thanks to their schedule adjustment factor put into the system, the Vikings finish with a record of 11-5. Not exactly the projected 15-game winning streak they will start after the first game, but it is significant in that they are one of only two teams projected to finish with a record of 11-5 (Carolina is the other). Five teams finish 10-6. The number of teams with a record between 9-7 and 7-9 is a whopping 20 teams. Two teams finish 6-10. Two more finish 5-11. One finishes 4-12. Fortunately for the Vikings, one of the 5-11 teams is Detroit and the only 4-12 team is Chicago.
As good as their standing is in the regular season, it only gets better in the playoffs. The Vikings earn the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs and, along with the Panthers, get a first-round bye. Dallas earns the No. 3 seed and San Francisco works its way in at No. 4. The Saints and Packers are the wild-card teams and earn the Nos. 5 and 6 seeds, respectively.
According to the 10,001 playoff simulations, Dallas beats Green Bay (65 percent of the time) and the lower-seeded Saints beat the 49ers (60 percent). As a result, New Orleans heads north up the Mississippi River for a playoff rematch with the Vikings. The Vikings get their revenge with a 30-27 win over New Orleans, winning just 51 percent of the time. Carolina advances (51 percent of the time) over Dallas. The Panthers come to the Metrodome and the Vikings win 27-21, with a winning percentage of 62 percent. The team advances to Super Bowl XLIV and beats the San Diego Chargers 30-23. More impressive is that they win 64 percent of the time.
The final irony is that the Super Bowl title comes with an asterisk. Below the score is that familiar mark, accompanied with the comment, “This result assumed that Brett Favre returned to play for the Vikings for the 2010 season.”
Considering their system hit on the Saints, Yankees, Crimson Tide and Blue Devils within the last seven months, it may be the final piece of impetus Favre needs to come back.
There have been rumors that the Vikings might be one of the teams interested in safety O.J. Atogwe. ESPN reported that the Vikings were on top of a list of teams looking to sign Atogwe, who became a free agent at midnight Wednesday when he and the Rams didn’t reach an agreement. But, to date, there has been no buzz around Winter Park confirming that the rumor is true.
The quotes being made by Ryan Longwell about not having kickoff duties this season may be much ado about nothing. Longwell was given a $500,000 roster bonus in March, a clear indication the Vikings intend him to kick field goals for them. The signing of Rhys Lloyd brings the assumption that the Vikings would use him as a kickoff specialist. With the limited amount of roster spots that are going to be available on the final 53-man roster, it seems a little hard to believe that the Vikings would use four of those spots on specialists – a kicker, punter, long snapper and kickoff specialist – but that could be further evidence of their commitment to improving special teams.
Following Wednesday’s practice, the Vikings held a Punt, Pass and Kick clinic for Special Olympics Minnesota. Special Olympics has been a trademark charity of Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, but Peterson hasn’t been attending voluntary offseason practices this year.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.