Thursday, December 10, 2009

Bengals-Vikings: Series History Says Vikings are a Lock (To Lose)

Here's the bad news: History says the Bengals are going to lose Sunday. They've been to Minneapolis exactly four times in franchise history. They have lost every time. They have been outscored 115-48. The games are not close.

Now for the good news. Brett Favre has a tendency to go Ryan Leaf on his team in December (if you don't believe us, ask any 2008 N.Y. Jets, actually, you can ask any Vikings player that was in uniform last week). It's December, so the odds of Favre playing a good game are somewhere around 19 percent. Does the good news outweigh the bad news? You'll find out when we make our pick at the bottom of the page.

Fact to Impress Drunk People With: The 1977 game played between the Vikings and Bengals was played OUTDOORS, in Minnesota, in December. If you think this is a bad combination, you're right, the Bengals lost 42-10 in conditions that resembled an Arctic winter. The Vikings outdoor home (Metropolitan Stadium) was replaced by the Metrodome in 1982. The Met (as the old stadium was called) wasn't left for dead though. In 1985, it was torn down so the city of Minneapolis could build a huge mall with a roller coaster in it, you know it as Mall of America.

All-Time Series: Currently tied 5-5*

* = will be 6-5 Bengals Following Sunday's game

Lets get to the countdown:

3. Christmas Day, 1989, at Minnesota

For you young Bengals fans out there, you may not believe it, but there was actually a time when the NFL scheduled your team to play in games that were nationally broadcast.

Not only was this game on Christmas Day, not only was it Monday Night Football, but it was also the FINAL game of the NFL regular season. And at least five teams had their postseason hopes or seeding riding on this game.

The Vikings, who were 9-6 coming into the game, knew a victory would win them the NFC Central, but a loss would leave them out of the wild card. The Bengals, 8-7 going into the game, knew a win would send them to the wildcard and a loss would send them home.

So with their season on the line, what did the Bengals do? In the game's first 25 minutes, they managed to dig themselves into a 19-0 hole. Was this the Bungles? Hell no, this was largely the same Bengals team that had come within 34 seconds of a Super Bowl win the year before.

At halftime, Boomer Esiason did two things: he reminded the team that they were good and he decided to take over the play calling. At least we think he did because in the second half he uncorked his left arm and threw for over 200 yards. A fourth quarter touchdown pass even cut the Viking lead to 22-21. However, a late Minnesota touchdown would seal the game. And because the stupid NFL didn't legalize the 2-point conversion until 1994, the eight-point lead would prove to be insurmountable.

Result: Minnesota 29, Cincinnati 21

2. Christmas Eve, 1995, at Cincinnati

During that era of Bengal suckiness that most experts now refer to as the 90's, there were about four good games played by Cincinnati and this was one of them. With the Bengals trailing 24-3 at halftime in their final game of the season, you could feel the crowd slowly turning into a lynch mob that was going to take their pitch forks to Mike Brown's office.

But then something called two third quarter touchdowns happened and all of the sudden, all the fans that had left at halftime were clamoring to get back into the stadium. When Jeff Blake hit Tony McGee with a 5-yard touchdown fourth quarter touchdown pass that tied the game with only nine seconds left, the crowd went wild.

Bengals kicker Doug Pelfrey then squibbed the ensuing kickoff which Minnesota decided not to field. Improbably, the Bengals recovered the kick at the Viking 34-yard line. The squib recovery set up a 51-yard attempt that Pelfrey nailed for the win. The win came exactly one year after Pelfrey had hit a 54-yard field goal to beat the Eagles.

Result: Cincinnati 27, Minnesota 24

1. Dec. 2, 1973, at Cincinnati

This might be the the biggest non-divisional win in Bengals history. In week 12, the 10-1 Vikings made their way to Riverfront stadium looking almost unstoppable. Then they ran into a Cincinnati buzz saw. The Bengals shocked the NFL by recording the first shut out in franchise history in a resounding fashion. Almost as shocking as the shut out was the fact that Ken Anderson and the Bengal offense put up 20 points on the Purple People Eater defense. (The Bengals also got seven more points from their defense, thanks to Lemar Parrish who returned a second quarter fumble 23-yards for a touchdown.) The 27 points scored by the Bengals would be the most the Vikings surrendered all year.

Ironically, both teams' seasons would end at the hand of the Miami Dolphins. The Bengals fell 34-16 in the first round of the playoffs. The Vikings would fall 24-7 in Super Bowl VIII.

Result: Cincinnati 27, Minnesota 0


Our prediction is based on a simple mathematical formula:

The Bengals + Being an underdog in a game = Undefeated


Brett Favre + December = Loss for whomever Favre is playing for


Bengals + Division Title on the line + 2000's = Undefeated (1-0)

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