The Minnesota Vikings got the convincing victory they needed Sunday, and thanks to Dallas defeat Philadelphia, they got that coveted first-round bye week too.
Everything worked as good as it could have for the Vikings, who handed the New York Giants their second straight trouncing to end the regular season.
Now the Vikings wait and the top-seeded New Orleans Saints wait out the wild card round of the NFC playoffs. The Eagles play the Cowboys, again, on Saturday. The Cardinals play the Packers, again, on Sunday. Both matchups are rematches of their Week 17 games.
Not to beat a dead horse, but I really think the Saints will get burned by the way they played down the stretch. The season has plenty of ups and downs, so losing back-to-back games in Weeks 15 and 16 shouldn’t be too alarming. But then to go out in Week 17, bench starters and lose again, then have a first-round bye? Now you’re talking about a team that will go a month without a victory.
Once again, I understand why teams bench starters. The New England Patriots found that out when Wes Welker went down with a season-ending injury in the first-half of their meaningless Week 17 game. But what’s going to be tougher to overcome? Losing a key player before the playoffs start, or trying to stop the bleeding after going four weeks without a win? In my opinion it’s the latter.
The Packers are the hottest team going in the NFC playoffs, and no doubt TV executives are salivating over a possible Vikings-Packers matchup in the second round.