Friday, September 30, 2016

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As Vikings fans watched the Packers toss the Rams to the side, the Bears rally from behind to beat the Chiefs at home, and the Lions implode against the Cardinals last week, we were reminded of how lonely a Sunday without professional football in Minnesota can be. The Vikings, who sit at 2-2 entering Week 6, are three games behind the Packers in the NFC North and currently find themselves as the sixth seed in the NFC playoff race — if, of course, the season ended today.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t, but the Vikings begin a four-week stretch of winnable games on Sunday, starting with the Kansas City Chiefs at home. Following this week’s matchup, the Vikings hit the road to play the Lions and Bears before returning to TCF Bank Stadium to host the St. Louis Rams in Week 9. Combined, the teams are 5-15, and two of those games involve division opponents, giving the Vikings a prime opportunity to separate themselves in the NFC North.

Maybe projecting a 4-0 record in those games is a bold prediction, but I’m in the mood to make bold predictions. I’ve missed watching the Vikings on Sundays, and I’m ready for Mike Zimmer’s team to redeem themselves after a close loss to the Broncos two weeks ago.  My predictions after the jump may be improbable, but the statistics tell a different story — will any become a reality against the Chiefs?

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The Duke Blue Devils are in the midst of the greatest four-season run in the program’s modern history. Head Coach David Cutcliffe has done a great job turning things around and building a winning program over the last eight seasons.

“You want to build a system,” Cutcliffe said. “You teach a whole, and then you use parts. To me that’s how any system operates best, whether it’s a business or a football team or a side of a ball.’’

It certainly helps having a player with NFL quality talent, and that is exactly what he has in strong safety Jeremy Cash.

Cash, coming out of high school, originally signed with the Ohio State Buckeyes for one reason: Head coach Jim Tressel. After Tressel’s resignation in 2011, the coach suggested Cash go play for Duke, praising David Cutcliffe.

Prior to Cash’s arrival in 2012, Duke hadn’t reached a bowl game or posted a winning season since 1994. However, during the past three seasons, the Blue Devils have reached three bowl games, and captured an Atlantic Coast Conference Championship.

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As Jamaal Charles thrashed and clutched at his right knee late into the Chiefs’ loss to the Chicago Bears yesterday, I was immediately reminded of Adrian Peterson’s devastating knee injury in 2011. Two All-Pro running backs, two torn ACLs, and two long roads to recovery.  Peterson defied the odds, making an improbable comeback to win the rushing title and MVP award behind a 2,000-yard season in 2012. Charles, meanwhile, will try to return from his second torn ligament in four years — a rare feat in the increasingly-violent, physical world of the NFL.

When the Vikings and Chiefs meet this Sunday, Peterson will be on the field, while Charles will be forced to watch from the sidelines, making this game much more about the quarterbacks and defenses than a meeting of the league’s best running backs. Head coach Mike Zimmer spoke to the media this morning, and when asked about the Chiefs, praised Kansas City’s talent at a number of different roster positions:

“Offensively they’re – wide open would be a good way to describe them. Quarterback scrambles, he can be very, very accurate. They’ve got a tight end that’s very dangerous, wide receiver that’s excellent. Obviously I don’t know about [Jamaal] Charles – I know he’s good.”

The VT Staff and a couple guests get together to discuss a number of Vikings talkers.

Vikings 2015 Huddle
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With the Vikings a quarter of the way through the 2015 season and not having any recent game to discuss due to the bye week, I thought this would be a perfect time to have a round table discussion here at Vikings Territory. I reached out to our awesome staff and a couple of other quality Vikings minds and sent them a list of questions to weigh in on. The questions cover a bevy of Vikings talkers and the group knocked it out of the park with some really thoughtful answers. Mike Wobschall, Entertainment Network Content Manager, and Adam Patrick, Vikings Featured Analysis for Pro Football Spot, were nice enough to join us and donate some of their valuable time to participate.

You’ll find all of the questions after the break. Click the toggle buttons to expand the answers for each question. We’d love for you all to join in on the conversation. In the comments, try and respond to at least one of these questions on your own. (But by all means, feel free to tackle them all!)

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Watching T.J. Ward sack Teddy Bridgewater and hand the Vikings their second loss of the season last week, I couldn’t help but wonder — “Why don’t the Vikings have an impact strong safety on their roster?”.

There’s Harrison Smith, but he can’t be in two spots at once. The Vikings’ free safety is already making plays against the run and in coverage, most notably when he intercepted Peyton Manning last week and tackled Danny Woodhead with one arm the week before. Since the start of the 2014 season, he’s been Minnesota’s most impressive defender, and he’s close to taking the title of the league’s best safety.

But every Batman needs his Robin, and Smith is operating a one-man show through four games this season. Veteran special teams ace and muscle-bound defensive back Andrew Sendejo opened Week 1 as the starter opposite Smith, but was replaced by Robert Blanton halfway into the Vikings’ embarrassing loss in San Fran…er, Santa Clara.

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