Friday, January 20, 2017

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The Minnesota Fightin’ Vikings grabbed a share of the NFC North lead with a rough and tumble 21-18 overtime win Sunday over the St. Louis Rams. That should be the headline, but it’s not. All Vikings fans already hated defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, but now we somehow hate him with the fury of a thousand suns after something-called-Lamarcus Joyner threw his elbow into Teddy Bridgewater’s face as the second-year quarterback was sliding. Us Vikings fans cannot separate the fact that we have history with Captain Bountygate, but I try not to dwell on that storyline as our 6-2 Vikes have a solid young team with a great leader in Mike Zimmer and may make some noise come playoff time. Heal up, Teddy and let’s roll.

Other “Gregg Williams Should Be Deported to Mars” Talking Points Include
• I love you Mike Zimmer. So so much.
• LOL Green Bay
• Teddy Before the Cheapshot
• Where You At Mike Wallace?
• The Offensive Line is Back!
• Old Adrian Peterson is Like 2013 Kobe
• Linval Joseph for MVP
• Containing Todd Gurley
• Trae Waynes is a UFO
• Stefon Diggs Held Quiet
• Zimmer going for the Morninwheg in OT (But it worked and was smart)
• Random Game Thoughts
• On to Oakland
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All that and other “Start Over” nonsense on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast!

An Andy Carlson Joint.

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The Minnesota Vikings got their fourth straight victory, and assumed position atop the NFC North with the Green Bay Packers, on an overtime boot from kicker Blair Walsh. The game was physical (perhaps, at times, too physical) and the Vikings found just enough production on both sides of the ball to escape another close one.

After three straight weeks of winning this heralded (by me) award, Stefon Diggs and the rest of the Vikings passing game will step aside and let somebody else claim the prize this week. We’ll get to the nominees, but first let’s take a look at which Vikings players have won the weekly contest so far this year:

The previous winners of this award for 2015 are as follows:

WEEK ONE: Anthony Barr

WEEK TWO: Adrian Peterson

WEEK THREE: Harrison Smith

WEEK FOUR: Linval Joseph

WEEK SIX: Stefon Diggs

WEEK SEVEN: Stefon Diggs

WEEK EIGHT: Stefon Diggs

And this week’s nominations are…

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Blair Walsh’s 40 yard field goal in overtime gave the Vikings a 21-18 victory at TCF Bank Stadium against the St. Louis Rams on Sunday. Mike Zimmer’s defense came up big again this week holding Todd Gurley to 86 yards and one touchdown on 24 carries ending his four game streak of 125-plus yards per game.

In a grind-it-out affair that saw Teddy Bridgewater get knocked out of the game with a concussion, solid defense plus 125 yards rushing from Adrian Peterson helped propel the Vikings past an evenly matched Rams team.

The Vikings won the overtime coin toss and elected to kickoff. Zimmer’s confidence in his defense paid off as they held the Rams to a three-and-out and forced a punt. Marcus Sherels tiptoed down the sideline on the 26-yard return and Peterson contributed 21 yards on the ground to move the Vikings into game winning field goal range.

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Today, the Minnesota Vikings will try to stop Todd Gurley without two of their best defensive players; linebacker Eric Kendricks and defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd. Both are inactive for what is the Vikings’ most important game of the season, as Minnesota will look to gain ground on the division-leading Green Bay Packers in the NFC North.

In their place, Audie Cole and Tom Johnson will start. Last season, Cole started the Vikings’ Week 17 game against the Chicago Bears and recorded 11 tackles. He’s shown the ability to step up when called on, though the loss of Kendricks will surely hurt the Vikings in blitzing situations. Johnson, meanwhile, has played well in place of Floyd. Below, a look at the rest of the team’s inactives:

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How do the Minnesota Vikings contain St. Louis Rams running back Todd Gurley tomorrow? With news that Eric Kendricks will miss Sunday’s game and Sharrif Floyd will be inactive for a third straight week, the answer’s becomes much less clear. There’s Anthony Barr, but Mike Zimmer’s double A-Gap blitzes are only as effective as the players executing them; without Kendricks, the threat of the “Bruin Brothers” attacking the quarterback is gone. Up front, Tom Johnson has been a revelation while filling in for Floyd, making an impact as a pass rusher and run-stuffer.

Without Linval Joseph clogging the middle of the defense, though, this unit wouldn’t be nearly as successful as it has been this season. The nose tackle, who Zimmer recently called “the best” he’s ever had, is giving the Vikings’ head coach the ability to get aggressive with his play calls. Joseph consistently flashes his strength and deceptive speed on film, and those traits will be critical as the Vikings look to move to 6-2 tomorrow. Joseph is the cog in the middle that makes Zimmer’s scheme work, and his addition to the team last offseason is paying dividends for the Vikings as they push toward the playoffs.

Signed to a five-year, $31.25 million deal before the 2014 season, Joseph was expected to become the next great defensive lineman in Minnesota. Initially, he struggled to pick up Zimmer’s complex defense, but a year under the coach’s tutelage has helped Joseph blossom into an elite disruptor for the Vikings. “I feel way more comfortable this year than I did last year in the system,” said Joseph. “I just want to do whatever it takes to make my team win.”

Through seven games, Joseph has just 19 tackles, but his impact goes much deeper than the stat sheet. A look at the film reveals a player who not only creates havoc in the backfield with explosion and raw strength, but creates opportunities for other defenders. If the Vikings are to stop Gurley on Sunday, Joseph will need to be the focal point of their defensive attack.

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