Editorial: Congrats to the Minn. Vikings

Published 8:04 am Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Congratulations to Minnesota Vikings. Fans should be pleased with the team’s 12-4 record and earning a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Not often does a team achieve this reward. Only four out of 32 teams get a bye week to start the playoffs. The Detroit Lions earned it just once, in the 1991 season. They used it to win their only playoff victory since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger (i.e., in the modern era).

The Seattle Seahawks have had first-round byes only twice, one back in the days when six out of 28 teams could earn a first-round bye. A week off before the playoffs became harder to earn starting in the 1990 season, with the format went to 12 teams from 10.

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It has been since the 2000 NFL season that the Vikings won a first-round bye in the playoffs. That year, they posted an 11-5 record, beat the Saints at home, then lost miserably to the Giants.

There was the storied 1998 season, when the Vikings went 15-1, got a first-round bye, beat the Cardinals, then lost to the Falcons in one of the most memorable overtime games in NFL history.

Before that, the Vikings earned byes in the 1989, 1980 and 1978 seasons. There weren’t Wild Card games prior to 1978, so that means there weren’t bye weeks as a reward.

That means, the Vikings now have received a bye to start a playoff run six times in their history. Longtime Vikings fans know bye weeks don’t come easy or often and they know they have quite a bit to be proud of. This season’s players, coaches and staff do, too.

Winning two games to get to the Super Bowl is a lot easier than winning three.

Of course, past bye-week-earning didn’t yield trips to the Super Bowl. The Purple People Eaters didn’t need a week off to get to the big game four times.

This week, let’s revel in the success of this season and in the knowledge that the Vikings remain one of the winningest teams since the NFL-AFL merger. They’re not always good, but they usually are. And this year they have been great.