But within the win was obvious evidence of the Vikings' weaknesses. They proceeded to lose three of the next four games: the defense continued to struggle, and the offense had its bad days, too.
It's reasonable, then, to be pessimistic after the Vikings' 12-10 win against the Lions Sunday. The Vikes struggled to beat an awful Lion team, and so they may struggle and lose when they play better opponents the rest of the season.
Why, then, do I maintain some hope for this team (beyond my generally optimistic disposition regarding the Vikes)?
Mainly, it is my hope that a team with a great defense but a bad offense (with a couple of playmakers) can pull out more close wins than a team with a great offense but a bad defense (with a couple of playmakers). The 2004 Vikings had a spectacular passing game and found themselves in a lot of close games, but often lost those close games because of very bad defensive efforts. I'm hoping the 2008 Vikings can get stops in close games, and the Viking offense an do just enough to score some points.
I also maintain the grudging hope the offense can improve. After all, they do have some playmakers (AP can be dominant, and Bernard Berrian has 398 yards and 2 TDs in the 4 games Gus Frerotte started). And they did move the ball against the Lions (392 net yards); they destroyed themselves with badly timed penalties and turnovers (mistakes that may be eliminated). The team also continues to stink on 3rd down (3/15), and I'm less optimistic that perpetual problem can be rectified.
In essence, I hope a dominant defensive unit can lead a team to more wins than losses, as long as the offense and special teams units don't entirely tank. If that's the case, 9-10 wins is still possible.
But I also won't be surprised if the offense and special teams units do entirely tank. If that's the case, 6-7 wins is probable.