By: Derik Baack
The Minnesota Vikings are a team full of high hopes. They have it all. From the coaching staff down to the 53rd man, the talent is undeniable. But, as in typical Vikings fashion, there is always one hold up... the kicker. And so far this season, the kicker has been the biggest story in a wild start to the 2018-2019 campaign.
Having personally attended the Week 1 game in Minneapolis vs San Francisco, I felt the energy in the city. The faithful in the 612 have the right to have high hopes. Just the walk from the tailgating area to U.S. Bank Stadium was full of hype. Once I entered the stadium, the electricity was amazing. And the team didn't disappoint. The defense made its presence felt and the newcomers contributed in a big way. Sheldon Richardson was an animal at the 3 technique and rookie Mike Hughes introduced himself to the purple faithful with a pick six. Kirk Cousins did his best to calm fears of over-spending by dropping absolute dimes to both Stefon Diggs and Kyle Rudolph. The team began its quest for a first Super Bowl title in grand fashion.
Fast forward to the much anticipated Week 2 in Lambeau Field. The national intrigue and drama leading up to this game was undeniable. Controversy stemming from last year's season ending hit on Aaron Rodgers (delivered by Anthony Barr) was an added motivational factor for the QB to attempt redemption. But now Rodgers came into the game hobbled by a knee injury suffered in Week 1. It felt slightly LeBron James-ish rather than a sequel to a heroic Willis Reed episode. Regardless, the early season claim to the NFC North crown wasn't the only thing at stake in this one. The game had it all. Questionable calls (roughing the passer flags on both teams), special teams scores, efficient defense, and big plays (mostly from the Vikings offense). But what will always be remembered about this Border Battle was the missed kicks. After making 5 field goals, Mason Crosby missed a game winner at the end of regulation that would have vaulted Green Bay into an early season divisional lead. Rookie Daniel Carlson did his share by missing 3 total field goals (2 in overtime) that would eventually lead to his release from the team altogether. The tie was the outcome and will be an interesting record blemish for both teams.
This week the Vikings acted quickly. The team signed long-time Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey. Along with Bailey, the team added WR Aldrick Robinson (possibly to send a message to LaQuon Treadwell) and former Viking DT Tom Johnson to add depth to an already deep defensive line. The hopes remain sky high. Enter the Buffalo Bills. The Bills come into Minnesota for a week 3 tilt currently as a 16.5 point underdog. Even though the spread feels large, it is definitely warranted. The Josh Allen-led Bills seem like they are headed into a hornet's nest. An offense devoid of a running game or much of an offense at all seems to be a complete mismatch for one of the NFL's best defenses at home. On offense, the Vikings star skill players would appear to be too much to handle for a Buffalo defense that just watched one of its best players retire at the half of last week's game. Will the Vikings look ahead to week 4's Thursday night showdown in Los Angeles against the Rams? Maybe so, but not for the entire game. The Vikings will toy with Buffalo for a bit before eventually handing Bills Mafia a convincing 3rd consecutive defeat to begin the season. Vikings 37 Bills 10
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