This Week in Minnesota Vikings Playoff Anxiety

PHOTO: Sid Sowder, Flickr CC

Picture, if you well, an envelope. It might have come in the mail. It might have been hand delivered by a Great Horned Owl. That is irrelevant. Inside the envelope is an answer to a question that has endured many generations. Will you forever be trapped in a repeating hell, or will you be eternally released to a new, glorious plane?

It’s in the envelope. You just have to open it. There it is, right in front of you.

Do you open the envelope? Or does the comfort of never knowing the first horrifying option outweigh your desire for the latter?

This is what’s on the mind of Minnesota Vikings fans this weekend as we switch on our televisions this Sunday. One of our best football teams in several years will take the field of U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. They play the New Orleans Saints, the team that bested our last good team in 2009. And these Vikings are favored.

Not only are the Minnesota Vikings favored in this game, but they’re favored to win the conference championship next week, placing them in a Super Bowl that was already scheduled to be played in Minneapolis. In that Super Bowl, the Vikings are considered even money in a likely matchup with the defending champion New England Patriots, arguably the greatest team in recent American football history.

And yet I haven’t met a Minnesotan yet who feels confident. We are the state that produced Charles Schulz. The same Schulz who created the same Charlie Brown and Lucy Van Pelt, who forever performed the dark dance of Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie. We grew up in constant disbelief of success. It’s part of what makes us work so hard (and paradoxically makes us so successful) but also what drives us to the depths of madness and/or passive/aggression and/or I didn’t realize you’d eat so much dip when you got here.

Older fans remember the Vikings reaching the Super Bowl four times from 1969 to 1977 and losing all of them.

Newer fans remember the Vikings losing all of their more recent playoff runs in close, tragic, often avoidable ways. This includes two absolutely crushing conference championship defeats in 1999 to the Atlanta Falcons and the 2009 loss to the Saints. These losses still burn in my memory. Sprinkle in a 2016 playoff defeat that was utterly avoidable and you’ve figured out the state of mind of a Vikings fan.

The Vikings have the best defense in the NFL, a solid offensive line and an offense full of unexpected stars. This Sunday at 3:20 p.m. they’ll play the Saints. And if they win they’ll be on their way … or WILL they?










Skol. Skol. Skol.


This is the first edition of Vikings Playoff Anxiety 2018. As you well know, there can be no promise that another edition will ever be published or that any joy in this life can ever be considered permanent or repeatable.

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