Neal: Which team should Vikings fans adopt for NFL playoffs?

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Neal: Which team should Vikings fans adopt for NFL playoffs?
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These are tough times for Vikings fans. Their favorite squad finished out of the playoffs, the head coach and general manager have been dismissed and there's plenty of nervousness about how the Wilf family will navigate the hiring process.

Fans of the Purple could use a diversion. Fortunately, the NFL playoffs begin Saturday with what is being billed as Super Wild Card Weekend. For the next few weeks, backers of the woebegone Vikings can watch other teams play and dream about when Minnesota will return to the postseason.

What greater way to take part in this than to adopt a team for the playoffs?

Fourteen of the NFL's 32 teams make the postseason now, so there are plenty of options. There are teams with strong running games or punishing defenses or aerial supremacy. For a few weeks, you can borrow a team to cheer for and feel better about yourself.

To help you adopt a squad, I examined every contender and settled on five teams that should be the most appealing to Vikings fans. You take it from there. Enjoy the postseason.

5. Kansas City Chiefs (2nd seed, AFC)

First of all, Kansas City has great barbeque. And they have a young exciting quarterback in Pat Mahomes. Who doesn't like Mahomes? Or barbeque? It would be a great story if the Super Bowl loser comes back the next year and wins it all. Only the Dolphins in 1972 and the Patriots in 2019 won after losing the year before. And Mahomes' dad pitched for the Twins. Alas, being from the AFC and not having a reliable defense might not be the best draw.

4. Dallas Cowboys (3rd seed, NFC)

The pieces are in place for the Cowboys to make a deep run. Dak Prescott has returned from a gruesome injury last season to throw for over 4,400 yards. They have a fleet of good pass catchers. And their defense has bite, led by rookie linebacker Micah Parsons. Ultimately, I don't think Vikings fans will go for a team that beat them with backup Cooper Rush this season. Plus, Drew Pearson pushed off.

3. Buffalo Bills (3rd seed, AFC)

Here's a team with their own young, exciting quarterback in Josh Allen and a fire-breathing defense directed by former Vikings coach Leslie Frazier. They also have former Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs, who was dealt to the Bills for a slew of picks, including a first rounder they used to select Justin Jefferson. Like the Vikings, the Bills have lost four Super Bowls. Kindred spirits, no? Maybe the Super Bowl losses bring back too many painful memories for that generation of Vikings fans.

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2nd seed, NFC)

There are a lot of front-runners in this area, so why not back the defending champions? Running back Leonard Fournette will be healthy enough to play, as the Buccaneers offense has become more run-reliant after injuries to their receiving corps. The defense can stop the run. Unfortunately, I sense too many locals would have to hold their noses while backing a team led by Tom Brady, despite his Minnesota family connections.

These are all decent candidates to be adopted by the local fan base to back. But they all fell a little short of the mark. There's only one choice for Vikings fans to support during the NFL postseason. It's a cause every supporter of the Purple can get behind.

1. Any team that plays the Packers (1st seed, NFC)

Many expect quarterback Aaron Rodgers to depart after this season. That departure can take place sooner rather than later once the Packers get knocked out of the postseason. The quiz show host has been a pain in the sides of NFC North opponents for years, particularly Vikings fans who have to hear it from Packers fans in this region.

It won't be easy, as Green Bay is getting healthier by the minute. But it can be done. Matt Stafford has beaten them seven times, albeit in 22 games. Brady did it last season in the NFC championship game. Heck, the Packers are 7-8 in the postseason since their 2010 Super Bowl win.

Dare to dream, Vikings fans. Not backing the Pack is the best way to spend the postseason.