Friday, December 2, 2016

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The Minnesota Fightin’ Vikings did NOT lose by fiddy points as most of #VikingsTwitter expected, but did fall to the Arizona Cardinals 23-20 Thursday night. Teddy Bridgewater played one of the best games of his young career, yet will only be remembered for the strip sack that sealed the game for Arizona, the second game ending strip sack to end a 23-20 road game this season…

We discuss the game that was and look forward to the remaining games on the schedule while determining if the Vikings can hold off Tampa Bay for the Wild Card or if Green Bay can still get got for the NFC North crown (spoiler: they can).

Other “Such a Vikings Way to Lose” Talking Points Include
• Two Ways to Look at Teddy’s Game
• The Mandatory Norv Turner Talking Point
• Adrian Peterson Got Fed
• Wide Receiver Run Down
• Tight End Play is Official
• The Offensive Line Was What It Was
• The Injured Defense Played Decent
• Xavier Rhodes. Cmon Man
• Hai, Anthony Harris
• Trae Waynes Assessment
• 10-Days Off is Huge
• Playoff Picture

All that and other “Gotta Get To 10-6” nonsense on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast!

An Andy Carlson Joint.

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image courtesy of vikings.com

The Minnesota Vikings scored 10 unanswered fourth quarter points to tie the game at 20-20, but Chandler Catanzaro kicked a 47-yard field goal with 1:23 to play lifting the Arizona Cardinals to a 23-20 victory Thursday night.

On the Vikings final drive of the game Teddy Bridgewater hit Kyle Rudolph, Stefon Diggs and Jarius Wright to move the Vikings to the Arizona 31-yard line. With no timeouts and only 13 seconds to play, Dwight Freeney strip-sacked Teddy Bridgewater on 3rd-and-long to end the game. In heartbreaking fashion, Blair Walsh was robbed of the opportunity to kick a 47-yard field goal to tie the game.

Bridgewater threw for 335 yards on 25 of 36 attempts finding 11 different receivers in a career performance. Unfortunately, three fumbles by the Vikings offense (Bridgewater, Wright, and Peterson), spoiled their heroic upset effort in the desert.

Adrian Peterson scored the first touchdown of the game on a 9-yard run to give the Vikings a 7-3 first quarter advantage. Carson Palmer (25/35 for 310 yards), hit John Brown down the sideline for a 65-yard score to regain the lead near the end of the first quarter. Blair Walsh kicked a 44-yard second quarter field goal knotting the game at 10-10.

The Cardinals scored a touchdown on a 42-yard pass from Palmer to Michael Floyd in the third quarter and added a 23-yard field goal to move ahead 20-10.

Walsh was perfect on the day and connected on a 54-yarder to cut the score to 20-13 with just over 12 minutes to play.

Chad Greenway, Anthony Harris and Eric Kendricks led a short handed defense with 8 tackles each and forced a big three-and-out with 10:05 to play. The Vikings then mounted a 13 play 88-yard drive capping it off with a Mike Wallace’s 7-yard game tying touchdown reception.

Peterson ran the ball well early in the game but finished with 69 yards on 23 carries and a fumble on a reverse handoff to Wallace. The Vikings fall to 8-5 and remain in the Wildcard playoff picture.

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Newman's prepared to make his first start at safety for the Vikings

Image courtesy of Vikings.com

When the Arizona Cardinals and their top-ranked offense take the field tonight, they won’t have to worry about Harrison Smith and Andrew Sendejo at safety. With the Minnesota Vikings’ starters sidelined, Anthony Harris and veteran cornerback Terence Newman will take their place in the secondary. It’s not the most ideal situation against a group of wide receivers that includes Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, and John Brown, but injuries necessitate the change.

In place of Newman, rookie cornerback Trae Waynes will make the start opposite Xavier Rhodes. He’ll be tested by Carson Palmer and must have a solid night if the Vikings are to have any chance in Arizona. The rest of the Vikings’ inactives include:

Young players will need to step up at every level of the defense, including a handful of rookies and second-year players. Edmond Robinson, Minnesota’s seventh-round draft pick out of Newberry, will start in Anthony Barr’s place. Depending on Mike Zimmer’s strategy, he’ll either play an important role blitzing, or, will be asked to cover the intermediate area of the field. Palmer has been deadly accurate between the numbers this season, putting even more pressure on a relatively inexperienced linebacker corps.

Like last week, Tom Johnson and Sharrif Floyd will start in the middle of the defensive line. According to the team’s official website, Johnson will replace Joseph at nose tackle and Floyd will play his normal defensive tackle position. Arizona is missing its top running back, but rookie David Johnson is a threat running the football, catching out of the backfield, and returning kickoffs. The Vikings had three days to correct their mistakes against Seattle, which may not be enough against Arizona’s high-octane offense.

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Who should you be rooting for this week in addition to the Vikings? Find out here.

Vikings Mike Zimmer Travel To Arizona
Photo courtesy of Vikings.com

About this time last week, the Vikings found themselves in a much more favorable playoff situation. We detailed in our Week 13 Edition of this segment Minnesota’s very high probability of making the playoffs if they managed to win their game against the Seahawks. And if the Lions managed to upset Green Bay? Well, then it was almost a done deal.

However, those things did not happen. And while the odds are still in the Vikings favor that they will make the playoffs, things get more complicated (as they always seem to). As of right now, according to the NY Times Playoff Simulator, the Vikings make the playoffs in 85% of [128,000] simulations. They are currently two games ahead of the next best teams not currently in the playoffs. (The Buccaneers and Falcons who are both at 6-6). The Vikings are also still currently tied with the Packers for the division title. However, as we know, Green Bay holds the head-to-head tiebreaker.

Last week, we outlined who you should root for to give the Vikings the best shot at the most favorable playoff position. Let’s start by taking a look at how that all panned out.

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

For all their success on the defensive side of the ball, the Minnesota Vikings have been a lackluster bunch on offense in 2015. With a number of weapons at wide receiver, tight end, and running back, this is a group that, on paper, should put up a healthy score each week. Teddy Bridgewater proved at the end of last season that he’s capable of carrying Norv Turner’s offense, and Adrian Peterson’s resurgence this year has helped the Vikings to eight wins.

And yet, the balance between the running game and the passing attack just isn’t there. You could point the blame at the offensive line, which ranks 28th in pass protection, per Football Outsiders. Or, you could say that the wide receivers aren’t getting open down the field and Bridgewater’s holding the ball too long in the pocket. Maybe, just maybe, the Vikings can’t pass the ball because they’ve relied too heavily on Peterson’s legs.

Either way, the problems go deeper than the players on the field; they start with Norv Turner. Long regarded as one of the game’s top offensive minds, he’s struggled to kick Minnesota’s offense into high gear, especially this season. The Vikings rank 28th in the NFL with 19.8 points per game and almost dead-last in every major passing statistic. Fans have grumbled, and now, I’m asking the VT staff one simple question:

Should the Vikings consider a switch at offensive coordinator after the season, and if so, who would you choose?

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