The smoke of Mike Zimmer getting fired by the Wilfs has appropriately dissipated following the great win on Sunday. Win or lose on Saturday, that isn't going to change with either outcome. But this remains the most significant contest of the six-year tenure of the head coach. Why would I put this one ahead of the NFC championship game that they were in two years ago? Because it's his third chance to get a playoff win over a team other than New Orleans.
Under the open air they fell on the career-ending kick by Blair Walsh. Strike 1.
Two years later was the donkey kick to the head against Philadelphia. Strike 2.
He won't be out even if strike 3 comes through against San Francisco but if the trend holds and his team doesn't make the playoffs in 2020/21 he may not get more rope. So his team will have to do what they have not yet done to 30 of the league's teams. Maybe it's unfair to put it all on this one game but those are the stakes.
With the half-hearted hard-count against Green Bay still fresh in mind, it remains to be seen whether his staff and players will be up to the task. They haven't been in the earlier examples but maybe instead of a third strike it will be the charm. With the exception of the Monday nighter, they've been one of the best teams in the league for most of the season so I'm of the opinion that that was a fluke game. It's just one extra layer to the game that I haven't heard get mentioned yet. It's thin so maybe everybody else has foregone to bring it up but with all the accounts, blogs and air time being devoted to this game, nothing should be summarily dismissed.
As an aside, maybe the opinion is preposterous since San Fran is the #1 seed but I'm actually more optimistic about the Purple's chances this week than I was going into Sunday's contest. So maybe they'll throw the monkey off the coaches back. If I were to scrub it down to a single element, how the defense does against George Kittle could tell the story of the game. I would have said the same about Michael Thomas but it was Taysom Hill that nearly won the last game so it won't come down to just one player this time.
Anyways, I'm rooting for the unprecedented. For the third chance to end with a better result. 72 hours and we'll have the answer!