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home : columns : columns
September 21, 2017

9/7/2017 8:58:00 AM
Swami turns to reverse psychology

Joel Alvstad
Sports Editor

Anyone who knows me knows there isn't a professional sports team I cheer for more than I cheer for the Minnesota Vikings.
My first memory of a sporting event was Ahmad Rashad's Hail Mary catch against Cleveland to win a division title. And for as much as I rail about the Pearson push-off, I'll admit that it occured in 1975. I would have been two years old.
As always, I'm optimistic about the Vikings' chances this season. But as I sat at my desk Thursday, contemplating that night's fantasy draft, something came to my mind.
What if the Swami picked against the Vikings this year? Surely then the Vikings' fortunes would turn for the better.
As if by magic, I noticed a glowing underneath the cross country results I had printed out. Sure enough, there was the glowing turban of wisdom. As I placed it on my head, I became the Swami, seer of all things football.
When I did, I muttered the words, "It's not time. It's not time." Then, I furiously scribbled notes on a notebook.
I looked at the notes and saw the Swami's comments on the Vikings: shaky offensive line, untested running game, kicking game questions.
To those points, the Vikings did revamp their line. But in the preseason, the starting offense struggled to score points and move the ball effectively.
The line play also translates to a poor ground game. Dalvin Cook won't do damage if he has no holes to run through.
And even though the Vikes canned Blair Walsh, the kicking is still a question mark.
As much as I'm sure it pained the Swami, the Vikings were penciled to finish third in the NFC North, behind the hated Packers and Lions. Not even the Swami could put the Vikings behind the woeful Bears.
As for the other divisions:
• NFC East: Don't underestimate the impact Ezekiel Elliot's suspension will have. If he sits the full six games, I think the Giants win the division, followed by Washington, Philadelphia and Dallas in the cellar. Dallas moves up to second if the suspension is reduced, but I don't think it will be.
• NFC South: Many are high on Tampa Bay. I'm not. I think it's still Atlanta's division to win, followed by Carolina and Tampa. Adrian Peterson and the Saints have a rare year in last place.
• NFC West: It's still a two-horse race, and I think Seattle will edge Arizona for the title. I think the Rams will be improved, with the 49ers in last.
• AFC North: Pittsburgh has all the pieces to put together a special year. Cincinnati finishes second, followed by Baltimore and Cleveland.
• AFC East: It's still the Patriots' division. We're just breathing the air. The Dolphins and Bills are gaining ground. The Jets might be lucky to win two games.
• AFC South: Mark my words. DeShaun Watson steps in for Houston and makes them a legitimate threat. Tennessee will be dangerous as well, with Indy and Jacksonville finishing well back in the pack.
• AFC West: Before the Raiders move to Las Vegas, they're going to give the fans in Oakland plenty to cheer about. Kansas City will be solid, with the newly-moved Los Angeles Chargers improving and Denver fading.
• Playoffs: I think the wild card teams will be Washington and Arizona in the NFC and Tennessee and Kansas City in the AFC.
In the NFC, I think it comes down to home field. I think the team that will end up with home field will be Seattle. A fired-up crowd carries the Seahawks to the Super Bowl.
In the AFC, I just have a sneaky feeling that it's Pittsburgh's year. Ben Roethlisberger has hinted at retirement and I think he puts the team on his back down the stretch.
In the Super Bowl, played in Minneapolis next February, it will be the Steelers' offensive weapons and revamed defense on full display. I think Roethlisberger wins another ring and rides off into the sunset after a Steelers win.
I blinked my eyes and looked at my computer screen to see no more glowing on my head. But I noticed the Swami didn't pick the Vikings this year.
I felt dismayed until I realized my original thought. Maybe the Swami believes in reverse psychology, too?
I felt a buzz in my pocket to see I had received a text message.
The message read:
You heard it here first. Kinda. ;-).

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