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home : columns : joel alvstad
October 22, 2019

9/4/2019 10:03:00 AM
Swami says something's got to give for two long-suffering franchises, fan bases

Joel Alvstad
Sports Editor

I returned to my old stomping grounds in Northfield last weekend, to the beautiful campus of St. Olaf College.
After moving load after load of stuff into my daughter's dorm, I'll admit I was a bit wiped out. As I sat in the dorm lounge, waiting for directions for my next task, I thought it would be the opportune time for a little power nap.
Instead, I saw a bright gleam out of the corner of my eye. Looking around to make sure no one else noticed, I quickly grabbed the glowing turban of wisdom from beneath the pool table.
As I placed it on my head to become the Swami, seer of all things football, the thought ringing in my ears was, "Something's got to give."
With the glowing turban, I witnessed a fall of joy for two of the most tortured fan bases in all of the NFL.
Kirk Cousins quietly put together the kind of season all the purple faithful hoped for, leading the Vikings to a division title.
Meanwhile, in the AFC, a rejuvenated Cleveland team, tired of being the laughingstock of football for so long, rolled through the regular season.
The pieces are in place for a colossal championship game between two cursed franchises.
I quickly pulled a receipt out of my billfold and started jotting down my notes.
NFC North: As I stated, the Vikings have the tools to emerge as the top dog in the NFC North, dethroning the Bears late in the season. Chicago finishes second and makes the playoffs as a wild card, followed by Detroit. I think inner strife will continue in Green Bay, causing the Packers to slip to fourth.
NFC South: One of the best divisions in football will see the Saints edge out the Falcons for the title, but both teams make the playoffs. Tampa Bay finishes third with Carolina fourth.
NFC East: It's a one-horse race, with the Eagles rolling to the title. Dallas has enough, even with Ezekiel Elliot holding out, to take second. The Giants and Washington finish a distant third and fourth.
NFC West: The Rams are the class of the division right now. Seattle, San Francisco and Arizona will finish well back, in that order.
AFC North: Is this the year the Browns finally put it all together? The Swami says yes. Pittsburgh takes second and grabs a playoff wild card, with the Ravens and Bengals out of the picture.
AFC South: The landscape has changed with Andrew Luck's sudden retirement and Houston's array of late moves. Houston wins the division. Jacksonville takes second, but misses the playoffs. The Titans and Colts finish well off the pace.
AFC East: It's still the Patriots' division to lose, but the Jets will make things interesting and will make the playoffs as a wild card. The Bills will be improved, while the Dolphins moves leading to the season indicate they are tanking with hopes of drafting Tua Tagovailoa.
AFC West: The Chiefs are head and shoulders above the rest of the division, but I think the Broncos and a rejuvenated Joe Flacco will make things interesting. The Raiders take third and the Chargers, without Melvin Gordon, take a hard drop in the standings.
NFC Playoffs: With home field advantage secured, the Vikings roll into the championship game and avenge the loss against the Eagles for a trip to the Super Bowl in Miami.
AFC Playoffs: It's new school versus old school. I think that new school is going to win out as the Browns knock off the Patriots.
That leaves us with the Vikings against the Browns in the Super Bowl. As much as Baker Mayfield and Odell Beckham were the darlings of the off-season, I think the Vikings defense finds a way to slow them down and Kirk Cousins does just enough to give Dan Bailey and the long-suffering Vikings kicking game a chance to win it late. Vikings 24, Browns 21.
I was startled awake by my wife, who had one more task for me before we could head out. But as I got out of the comfortable seat, I received a text message.
It read, "You heard it here first!"

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