Vikings

Which NFC Team Should Vikings Fans Be Rooting For?

Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch (USA TODAY Sports)

With the Minnesota Vikings’ season coming to an end in relatively uneventful fashion, the Purple faithful are left wondering who to root for. After a roller coaster of a season that saw them on the outside looking in (again), Vikings fans now have to find another team to support for a few weeks.

Here are my rankings of NFC teams that Vikings fans should root for in this year’s playoffs.

1. Los Angeles Rams

The Los Angeles Rams might have one of the most fun offenses in football. After trading for Matt Stafford this year, we are seeing just how well head coach Sean McVay can scheme up his offense with a competent quarterback. They also have two elite wideouts to complement Stafford: Cooper Kupp, a potential Offensive Player of the Year, and Odell Beckham Jr. Plus, Van Jefferson is no slouch.

Despite their ability to move the ball through the air, they can also run it. The Vikings saw this first hand with Sony Michel. And they will likely get Cam Akers, their talented second-year ball carrier, back from an Achilles tear he suffered during OTAs.

Their defense is also loaded with stars, led by Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey, and Von Miller. Their ability to disrupt the passer and have a bona fide shutdown corner is entertaining to watch. LA rounds out the unit with some under-the-radar players in Leonard Floyd and Jordan Fuller.

If the idea of a team mortgaging their future and going all-in right now doesn’t entice you, remember that their first-round pick goes to the Detroit Lions. A Super Bowl win means Detroit gets to choose 32nd overall.

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

This season has gone off the rails fast for the Buccaneers despite bringing back all 22 of their starters from last year’s Super Bowl-winning squad. They had to deal with a fake vaccination card scandal, key injuries, and a player quitting in the middle of the game – and that was all just Antonio Brown.

Tom Brady doesn’t have the same stacked receiving corps as last year, with Chris Godwin missing the rest of the season with a torn ACL and the Bucs releasing Brown after he essentially released himself. This year he will have to make do with Mike Evans and whatever else is left over.

Their defense has also taken a hit, with their running defense less dominant than before and their secondary suffering multiple injuries. It has gotten to the point that they had to bring Richard Sherman in to play some meaningful snaps.

This season, much like last, it feels like everyone has counted Brady out. Given the general disarray the Buccaneers have experienced this year, it would be fun to see them shock everyone again and witness Brady win his eleventeenth Super Bowl.

3. Philadelphia Eagles

Yes, I know the Vikings still have bad blood with Philadelphia given the 2017 NFC Championship. The Vikings lost to Nick Foles and the Eagles 38-7, but this isn’t the same team. They don’t have the same head coach, either of their two quarterbacks, or many of the other key contributors that made up the nucleus of that team.

There is something that the Vikings could learn from the way that the Eagles reloaded their team this offseason with a new head coach, all while stacking up numerous first-round picks.

New head coach Nick Sirianni has figured out a way to capitalize on the situation he inherited and has put together one of the best running attacks that the league has seen. If the Vikings decide to land an offensive head coach and try out Kellen Mond next season, they can take some inspiration from the Eagles and build out a similar scheme.

4. Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals came out of left field at the start of the season, surprising everyone with their fast start. Kyler Murray looked like an MVP candidate. They have slowed down recently, with injuries hampering their team, causing players like star wideout DeAndre Hopkins to potentially miss the rest of the season. But they still have playmakers in their entire offense, with Murray pulling all of the strings.

Their defense also has some sneaky-good playmakers in Chandler Jones and Budda Baker, who are under-appreciated despite their monster numbers. They are also set to get J.J. Watt back after what was thought to be a season-ending injury.

I put the Cardinals here because I appreciate their aggressiveness when it came to rebuilding their franchise. They saw that Josh Rosen and Steve Wilks weren’t working, so they let them go after one season instead of missing out on a chance to land their guy.

5. San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers were able to clinch a playoff berth thanks to an interception in overtime against their divisional foe, the Los Angeles Rams. Most Vikings fans were thankful that the Niners were able to crush the hopes and dreams of the New Orleans Saints and their fanbase. For a moment, it looked like New Orleans was playoff-bound. Now they can allow Sean Payton to suffer with the rest of us while he watches Kevin James portray him in an inspirational kids movie about paying players to physically maim opponents.

The 49ers’ offense is among the most creative and explosive in the league despite their limitations with Jimmy Garoppolo. They are led by their head coach Kyle Shanahan, who has a pension for being one of the most offensive-minded head coaches. You can see this with the many ways he utilizes wide receiver Deebo Samuel.

Their defense is no joke either, with Nick Bosa, who is constantly in the quarterback’s face, forcing them into split-second decisions. They also have one of the best young middle linebackers in Fred Warner, who is the heartbeat of that defense.

The one thing that pushes them down this list? When Zimmer accused him of holding, their star tight end George Kittle said, “Make better plays.” Then the next week Bosa came out in his press conference and complained about holding against him. (Cue Curb Your Enthusiasm theme.)

6. Dallas Cowboys

Like most of America and NFL Twitter, I am rooting for the Cowboys to fail. Could it be because they embarrassed the Vikings on national TV with their backup quarterback leading an improbable last-second drive thanks to Bashaud Breeland dropping a would-be game-sealing interception into Amari Cooper‘s hands? Or because of their attention-seeking owner, who has made the team all about him in a glorious display of ego that would make Narcissus click the thumbs-down button? Or could it be because of their fans, who somehow still claim to be Americas’ team despite little to no success since the first Clinton administration?

It probably is a combination of all three.

The Cowboys’ offense is fun to watch when all the gears are clicking. Dak Prescott is coming off of a horrific ankle injury to make the playoffs, and he has CeeDee Lamb and Cooper supporting him. Their defense is also exciting, with rookie Micah Parsons already being one of the best defensive players in the NFL. Cornerback Trevon Diggs led the NFL in interceptions despite giving up over 1,000 yards in coverage.

Despite all of this, nothing would give me greater joy than seeing the likes of Skip Bayless and Michael Irvin go on their respective shows and have to eat crow about the Cowboys season coming to an end.

7. Green Bay Packers

The Packers are last on this list, as you probably expected. They somehow have found a way to become even less likable than in years past. After throwing a massive hissy-fit all offseason, Aaron Rodgers has posted yet another MVP-level season, all while starting a crusade against the “woke mob” that seeks to cancel him. He did all this while exuding the confidence of a quarterback who has won more than one NFC title in five attempts. He’s definitely exuding something.

Rodgers’ and Davante Adams‘ self-proclaimed “last dance” has experienced a few record scratches, with many key contributors having seen minimal time this season due to injury. However, they managed to overcome all these obstacles, with players like Rasul Douglas stepping up as unlikely contributors.

Thankfully for Packers fans, the Super Bowl doesn’t take place on Tuesday. Rodgers is in no danger of missing the game to wildly misinform people on the Pat McAfee Show. I can think of no bleaker future than one where Rodgers is sitting in his living room with another Super Bowl ring while Packers fans across the country try to make the case that he is the greatest QB of all time because of the “eye test.” I have no immunity against that.

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