Tuesday, June 30, 2015

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As I mentioned earlier this week, injuries on both teams make Saturday night’s game between the Vikings and Packers a completely unique matchup compared to their previous two.

The Vikings special teams struggled last week with linebacker Tyrone McKenzie leaving due to a shoulder injury.  He has been ruled out once again making the Vikings coverage team a point of interest in this one, especially since electric return man Randall Cobb (ankle) is probable to return to the field.

In fact, Cobb’s return means that the Packers talented group of receivers are now healthier than they have been all season long.  Greg Jennings is at 100% now while Jordy Neson (knee) and Jermichael Finley (quadriceps) are both listed as probable.

The sudden health of Aaron Rodgers passing weapons unfortunately coincides with the Vikings secondary having some substantial health questions.  Rodgers threw a pass in Antoine Winfield’s direction only once prior to Winfield leaving last week’s game with a broken hand that swelled up on him, and then proceeded to pick on his replacement, Marcus Sherels, 10 times in the remainder of the game.

Winfield is listed as questionable but has indicated he will be wearing a new cast on the hand and plans on playing through the pain.  His injured teammates in the secondary are Harrison Smith (knee) and A.J. Jefferson (ankle) are both listed as probable, however.

Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder was only able to prepare for his latest biggest career game on a limited basis this week due to an elbow injury in his throwing arm.  Leslie Frazier indicated that Ponder is doing everything possible to get ready for this game, and it seems highly unlikely that anyone else gets the start, but one can’t help but wonder if Joe Webb might be making an appearance Saturday night.

Adrian Peterson (abdomen), Brian Robison (shoulder), Jared Allen (shoulder), George Johnson (quadriceps), Chris Kluwe (knee), and Phil Loadholt (knee) are all listed as probable.

Packers receiver Jarrett Boykin and defensive end Jerel Worthy have both been ruled out after suffering injuries last week.  Running back James Starks (knee) is listed as questionable.

Cornerbacks Tramon Williams (illness) and Davon House (hip) are both considered probable.  Also probable is Charles Woodson (collarbone) who is expected to give the Packers a boost in pass defense after missing considerable time.

The weather forecast for Green Bay is looking to be sub-freezing conditions and possible frozen precipitation.  Considering the Packers passing prowess, and Adrian Peterson’s dominance on the ground, I say the nastier the weather is the better off the Vikings are.

After all, an ice pellet or two clinking off of Mason Crosby’s helmet might just be enough to…

Tomorrow cannot be the end of the world.  I haven’t found out if the Vikings make the playoffs yet.  I haven’t witnessed Adrian Peterson break the rushing record.  So many unanswered questions!

Anyways, I wanted to share with you all what I daydream about:  Peterson breaking both the single game record and single game record this week… against the vaunted Texans defense… on the same play.  Pure awesomeness is what that would be.

Here is the best of the best from around the web.  Enjoy!

It is no longer just up to the Vikings. They’ve put themselves in a situation where not only are they going to have to win on the field, but they’ll also be keeping an eye on the stadium scoreboard to see the status of other crucial games. Jared Allen would say something like, “We are no longer in control of our own destiny.”

Last week’s chat that we hosted when the Vikings lost in Lambeau was pretty brutal. Lots of doom and gloom that the Vikings playoffs shots this year are over. Even our very own [favorite] blogger Adam Warwas announced that our postseason aspirations were done. This put me in a precarious position. Here are both my readers and my boss(?) announcing that our playoff hopes are gone. So, do I continue my Path to the Playoffs segment? If the Vikings are done, does it matter?

But when I started doing this little segment a few weeks ago I said that I would keep doing it until the Vikings were completely eliminated from participating in the playoffs. While their shots are slim, their is still a chance it could happen. Our buddies over at KAB pointed out yesterday that the Vikings odds of making the postseason, as established by Football Outsiders, is 3.3%. The sad part? That was before Percy Harvin was put on injured reserve.

It definitely doesn’t look pretty. At 6-6, there are five other teams ahead of the Vikings in the wild card race. While most of these teams are also 6-6 the bad news is that four of them currently have a tie-breaker over us.

Let’s just take a look at the standings:

Playoff Picture

  1. Atlanta Falcons (11-1) – Clinched Division
  2. San Francisco 49ers (8-3-1)
  3. Green Bay Packers (8-4)
  4. New York Giants (7-5)
  5. Chicago Bears (8-4)
  6. Seattle Seahawks (7-5)
  7. Washington Redskins (6-6)
  8. Dallas Cowboys (6-6)
  9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-6)
  10. Minnesota Vikings (6-6)
  11. St. Louis Rams (5-6-1)
  12. New Orleans Saints (5-7)
  13. Detroit Lions (4-8)
  14. Arizona Cardinals (4-8)
  15. Carolina Panthers (3-9)
  16. Philadelphia Eagles (3-9)

What We Need To Happen

We need people to lose. Can everyone lose except for us? Can we just make that happen? 15 NFC losses, one win! That would help our playoff hopes. Are all the other NFC teams playing AFC teams this week or something?

What’s that? They’re not? That’s not possible?

Crap.

St. Louis at Buffalo – Rams loss.

The Rams are only one spot behind us at #11. Honestly though, if we lose this week, it doesn’t really matter what happens with them. But, because they’re an NFC team playing an AFC team, we want the Rams to lose.

Atlanta at Carolina - Toss-up.

Honestly, this one doesn’t really matter. Carolina isn’t going to make the playoffs and Atlanta has already clinched their division.

Dallas at Cincinnati – Cowboys loss.

With the same record as us (6-6), the Cowboys are now a legitimate playoff contender and someone we need to be rooting against moving forward. This week they travel to Cincinnati which will likely be a close match-up. With a loss against the Bengals and a Vikings win over the Bears we would move back ahead of them in the conference standings. Plus, it’s the Cowboys.

Philadelphia at Tampa Bay – Buccaneers loss.

This is a big one for us… We really need the Eagles to win this weekend in Tampa Bay. Not only are the Bucs tied with us at 6-6 but they also hold the head-t0-head tiebreaker over us.

Baltimore at Washington – Washington loss.

This is basically the same scenario as the Philly / Tampa Bay game. Washington is tied with us at 6-6 but they also hold that darn head-to-head. This is why it’s so important to beat fellow NFC teams throughout the regular season. Baltimore hasn’t been playing light’s out lately and they’ll be in Washington so I could see this one going either way. Plus, I suppose anything’s possible for the Redskins with RGIII at the helm.

Miami at San Francisco – San Francisco win.

This one realistically doesn’t mean that much. But, might as well root for the 49ers to win so, if for some reason it comes down to it, we have the better strength of schedule.

New Orleans at New York Giants – Giants win.

A Giants win is preferred here because they’ll likely win their division while the Saints will be playing for a wildcard spot. Our wildcard spot.

Arizona at Seattle – Seattle loss.

We need Seattle to lose. They ended up beating the Bears last week which put them a game ahead of us. Plus, they hold the head-to-head tie breaker. I swear, the more and more I say that the hardest this thing seems. Everyone holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over us! This will be a tough game for Arizona but they’ve upset teams they were supposed to lose to as the visitor already this season (See New England).

Detroit at Green Bay – Green Bay loss.

As if you didn’t want the Packers to lose already…


So, let’s summarize. There are a lot of teams the Vikings need/want to lose. Here are the big ones, though (I’ve underlined them above): Seattle loss, Tampa Bay loss, Washington loss, Packers loss. It’s very unlikely that all the teams we want to lose this weekend will do so (although, it’s already happened once). What absolutely has to happen though is the Vikings beat the Bears in front of thousands of desperate fans tomorrow at the Metrodome. If they don’t and, say, the Packers and Seahawks win, this thing could really be over.

Bonus Prediction Time!

I’m going to publicly predict a Vikings win tomorrow for one reason and one reason alone. The Vikings will sustain the hope of fans until the very last second and then deliver a crushing blow that eats at us throughout the entire offseason. Vikings win, 20-14.

Until then, I’m gonna stay sippin’ that purple kool-aid. You guys know you love the hope. You need the hope!

A season that is all but suffocated.  A star receiver on the mend.  A quarterback under immense pressure to perform.  A group of coaches whose seats have to feel a bit toasty.  A linebacker calling for more drunks to attend games.  A divisional home game fast approaching.

The drama has reached heights we have yet to see in 2012, which means there are plenty of great articles floating around the internet, and I am here to bring them all your way:

Once again, I solicited questions from you guys and spent some time thinking about the answers.  Here are the results:

Adam, to what degree do you think poor offensive line play and a weak receiving corps are having on the performance of Christian Ponder?

Football is a team sport, no doubt about it.  The thing is, however, that football is a unique team sport in that one position is far and away more important than all of the rest.  Argue all you want, but quarterbacks make and break football teams in the modern day NFL.

Now, I’m not making excuses for the receivers dropping the football or for failings in pass protection, but Christian Ponder has to embrace the leadership role he is lucky enough to have before he flat out loses it.  He has to gather the troops, make clear his expectations, lead by example and demand more of himself with every lesson learned.

I think, especially with Harvin sidelined, Ponder has indeed drawn the short straw when it comes to receiver talent.  However, that offensive line is better than people are giving credit for, and if he stopped imagining non-existent pressure causing him to flee the pocket (and, thus, creating pressure by changing directions) I think the line holds up better than most realize.

Also, apologists can make all of the excuses they want for Ponder, but he has the best running back in football right now making life a heck of a lot easier on him than it could be.

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