Vikings show promise after opening win against St. Louis

Published 10:08 am Thursday, September 11, 2014

Column: Notes from Nashville, by Andrew Dyrdal

I wasn’t able to escape Packers fans when I moved to Tennessee. In Nashville they’re as common as cowboy hats.

I work with a particularly fanatic one who, despite living far from Minnesota for most of his adult life, carries a strong disdain for the Vikings even by cheesehead standards.

On Monday, knowing he was already upset about the Badgers and Packers starting a combined 0-2, I asked him if he knew of any good hotels in Phoenix. When he asked “Why?,” I replied for booking a room for when the Vikings play in the Super Bowl this winter.

He scoffed, “Vikings fans are so delusional.”

After watching the Vikings throttle the Rams on Sunday in their season opener, it appears the delusional fans may be onto something.

The Vikings impressed in all facets of the game: offense, defense, special teams and coaching — and looked nothing like the team that won just five games under Leslie Frazier last season.

First-year head coach Mike Zimmer had his team as well prepared as we’ve seen in years, and despite minor roster changes on defense during the offseason, the Vikings recorded five sacks and two interceptions and held the Rams to just six points.

The Vikings’ offensive line went up against one of the top pass-rushing defenses in the NFL and surrendered just one sack, and quarterback Matt Cassel seemed more than capable of being the game manager the team needs.

Cassel doesn’t need to put up league-leading numbers with playmakers like Adrian Peterson and Cordarrelle Patterson in the backfield. Peterson played admirably, Patterson was electrifying.

Of course, the Rams were without their starting quarterback Sam Bradford and played their third-string quarterback during the second half. They’ll likely be one of the worst offenses the Vikings will face all season, and Minnesota will face a much tougher task next week with Tom Brady and New England.

Typically, a win like the Vikings had in St. Louis would set the delusional fans up for a hard ride back to reality, but I think Minnesota will continue to surprise.

The Bears and Packers displayed their flaws in their season openers, and while the Vikings won’t run away with the NFC during the regular season, the NFC North maybe theirs to sneak away with.

If the Vikings can survive their next four games against the Patriots, Saints, Falcons and Packers, they may be winning plenty of games when they matter the most.

Andrew Dyrdal’s column appears in the Tribune each Tuesday.