Sunday morning and afternoon, the Vikings fans I follow on Twitter and those who follow me @KickassblogVike were mostly preoccupied with the Detroit-Green Bay game, with some others keeping an eye on the Tampa Bay-Carolina contest as their favorite team had a bye week.
That attention came about because these fans knew losses by the Packers and the Bucs were positive developments for Minnesota's own playoff hopes. This is the sort of thing you want to to be focusing on if you're a football fan this time of year – the playoffs and the chance to win the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
For the Minnesota Vikings and their fans, this is welcome change from 2011 (and much of 2010 as well). At the 10-game mark last season, the Vikings were already 2-8, had abandoned the Donovan McNabb experiment and were heading into game #5 of the Christian Ponder era. And reality was hitting home: the Vikings were an aging, terrible team, full of holes and in need of a major overhaul.
At this point last season, our focus was on how Ponder was looking, but also on how high a draft pick the Vikings might land in the 2012 draft and whether the team should "suck for Luck" (or Robert Griffin III) and how any future wins over the final six games could damage the Vikes draft position in April.
What's been refreshing about the Vikings 6-4 record and contention for an NFC playoff spot is that I've heard barely a whisper from fans and the media that follows the team about the 2013 draft. The Vikings still have plenty of needs – wide receiver is the most obvious one, but defensive tackle and middle linebacker also need to be addressed next April and the team could use better depth at just about every position – but for now the team is playing competitive football most weeks and is winning more than it's losing. As fans, we're thinking playoffs, not who the team should pick in the NFL draft.
As we head into the final six-game stretch of the NFL season, it feels good to be among the living this late in the season instead of being one of the walking dead – like the Vikings have been the past two seasons.
(However, if you're curious who some NFL draft nerds think the Vikes will pick come April, I present you mock drafts here and here.)