January 20-25 - Senior Bowl
January 26 - Pro Bowl
February 17 - First day of franchise / transition player designation
February 19-25 - Scouting Combine
March 11 - Free Agency begins
March 23 - Owner's Meeting
April 7 - Off-season workouts begin for teams with new HC
April 17 - 2014 Schedule Released
April 21 - Off-season workouts begin for teams with returning HC
May 2 - Deadline for RFAs to sign offers
May 8-10 - NFL Draft
Today the Vikings have travelled to Chicago (and there is no truth to the rumors about Adrian Peterson not making the trip) and we have your inactives list for Game Day:
Vikings: QB Bethel-Thompson, WR Percy Harvin, CB Brandon Burton, LB Audie Cole, OL Mark Asper, TE Allen Reisner, and DE D’Aundre Reed.
Bears: WR Alshon Jeffery, QB Josh McCown, WR Dane Sanzenbacher, DT Matt Toeaina, T James Brown, DT Amobi Okoye, and DE Chets Ozougwu.
Nothing on that list should be too big of a surprise (other than that I didn’t know there was an NFL player with the name Chets Ozougwu, which is completely awesome) but the fact that Jay Cutler is active, and Percy Harvin is not, will be the biggest pre-game news.
I have no excuse for my absence the last few days other than the fact that moving closer to family means you get to enjoy things with family, and in this case that was Mom’s Thanksgiving Dinner. Thanks Mom!
Anyways, I wanted to let you all know that I plan on taking a break from turkey sandwiches long enough to host a live chat for Sunday’s divisional matchup in Chicago (which will feature Jay Cutler, but not Percy Harvin) as the Vikings start their post-bye playoff chase.
Be here a few minutes before kickoff and enjoy the game with your VT friends.
I’ll bring the pumpkin pie!
The Vikings have a legitimate shot at the playoffs.
Let that sink in for a second. Breath it in through your mouth and exhale it through your nose. Savor that statement because if you would have told any analyst that the Vikings would even come close to having a spot along 11 other teams in the playoffs, well… they would have laughed at you. They would have laughed at me. (I predicted the Vikings would be in contention for a playoff spot. Not right about many things, but I was right about that.)
Not many “experts” gave the Vikings a shot before the 2012 season started. The idea was that the Vikings are a rebuilding team with a star player just had his knee rebuilt and a young quarterback in the toughest division in football. These “experts” predicted the Vikings would find themselves in the cellar of the NFC North another year. Many of these “experts” still believe the Vikings have no shot.
I am here to tell you that they most definitely have a shot at the playoffs.
As you all know, the Vikings have a difficult task ahead of them. This year, the NFL wanted to make the month of December one to remember when it created its schedule. The Vikings have four division games in the next six weeks. This gives them the unique opportunity to be, as cliché as it sounds, in complete control of their own destiny. Win those remaining divisional games and they are almost definitely in the playoffs.
This is unlikely. While it would be sensational, the odds of the Vikings beating the Bears and the Packers twice each is somewhat unrealistic. I’m not saying it can’t happen… But let’s just say it would behoove us to look at the other ways the Vikings could make the playoffs.
We’re still six weeks out which means there is a lot that can happen. But it doesn’t hurt to know who we should root for and against every week to give us the best shot at the big game. So, what I would like to do each week until we either have clinched a spot or have been definitely eliminated is look at the playoff picture as it stands and go through game by game in the NFL and establish who we (Vikings fans) want to win.
First, the current NFC playoff picture:
Green Bay at NY Giants: Giants win. (Obviously…)
As if you didn’t naturally already, we most definitely want the Packers to lose this weekend against the defending champions. If the Packers lose to the Giants Sunday night and the Vikings beat the Bears the Vikings will lead the NFC North with the #1 spot. Forget turkey, this is all I want for Thanksgiving.
Houston at Detroit: Houston win.
As the Lions are not completely out of the playoff picture and the Texans are not in the NFC, it’d benefit the Vikings if the Lions lost this week.
Washington at Dallas: Washington win.
This is a tough one because while the Cowboys currently are one game ahead of the Redskins and as such are a more immediate contender for a wildcard spot, the Redskins have the tiebreaker over us and we don’t play the Cowboys. Still, the odds that the Redskins rebound from their 4-6 losing record and really make a push isn’t incredibly likely. I’ll be rooting for the Cowboys to lose so they essentially will be removed from the playoff hunt.
Seattle at Miami: Miami win.
The Seahawks will likely be one of our biggest sources of competition for a playoff spot – especially since they would hold a tiebreaker over us. Go Dolphins!
Atlanta at Tampa Bay: Atlanta win.
The Falcons at 9-1 will almost definitely win their division so we don’t really need to worry about them moving forward. The Buccaneers on the other hand will likely be vying for our wildcard spot. Like the Seahawks, since we’ve lost to the Bucs this season and they would hold a tiebreaker, it’s much better if they just lose. I’ll be rooting for a Matt Ryan rebound this weekend.
St. Louis at Arizona: St. Louis win.
Realistically, the Rams are no longer in the playoff hunt. The Cardinals, at 4-6, are almost out of the picture but it wouldn’t hurt if they lost this weekend to make our lives a little easier.
San Francisco at New Orleans: San Francisco win.
The 49ers will likely win their division which would take them out of the wildcard hunt. The Saints on the other hand are rebounding fiercely and are right behind us at #9 in the divisional standings challenging us for a wildcard spot. Let’s go Niners.
Carolina at Philadelphia: Carolina win.
This game really doesn’t have any playoff implications for us as both teams are [almost] definitely out of the picture. But, Philly has the better record (by a game) so let’s pull for the Panthers here.
So, let’s recap. We want the Giants, Texans, Redskins, Dolphins, Falcons, Rams, 49ers and Panthers to win. Or, if you are a glass half-empty type of person, we want the Packers, Lions, Cowboys, Seahawks, Buccaneers, Cardinals, Saints and Eagles to lose.
I’ll be back next week with an updated playoff picture and who our favorite teams should be in Week 13. If I’ve made a mistake (likely) above or you have a different opinion on who we should be cheering for this week, make it known in the comments.
Ultimately though, let’s root for the most important game this weekend… Let’s beat the Bears on Sunday.
Sorry for the lack of posts here lately, but every time I sit down to write during this bye week I come up empty handed, and I just can’t bring myself to write about the Draft yet since the Vikings are still in the playoff hunt.
Leave it to Tom Pelissero, however, to give me something to regurgitate and then opine about.
Pelissero recently got a chance to talk with G.M. Rick Spielman about his decision to woe tight end John Carlson away from Kansas City with big bucks and sign the unheralded veteran despite a recent lack of production and knack for being injured.
“I know what you see out in practice and how he works in practice and the types of catches that he does make in practice,” said Spielman of his veteran tight end. “That he got hurt and missed all that part of that training camp (with a knee injury) kind of set him back, especially when you’re trying to learn a new scheme. But sometimes, some of these veterans don’t work out as well until maybe their second year.”
“John looked healthy (on Sunday),” Spielman continued. “I know he caught that one (slide) route and you saw that burst that we have seen in the past when he sprinted up afterwards. The one thing that he’s done that he doesn’t get enough credit for is he’s done an incredible job blocking for us. I think that whole tight end group is the key to the way Adrian (Peterson)’s had so much success on the field as well, along with our offensive line. But just haven’t seemed to be able to get John going (as a receiver).”
“I think John Carlson has a lot of football (left) and is a very good football player for us and will be a good football player in the future,” Spielman reiterated.
Now, I have never been as down on Spielman’s decision to sign Carlson, as he has been a solid tight end in the past. I’ve always liked Carlson’s abilities, personally, when observing from afar.
What doesn’t sit well with me is that the money spent on Carlson completely ignored his tendency to get injured, and he has already been injured twice as a Viking, and also ignored a clear need at wide receiver.
Sure, when the Vikings signed Carlson they thought they would have Greg Childs at their disposal, but they also didn’t know they would have Jerome Simpson (who is another questionable signing as it is). Instead, the Vikings decided to get cheap when courting wide outs such as James Jones who has cured his drops, 42 catches, 485 yards, and eight touchdowns this season.
Spielman’s comment about not being able to get Carlson going as a receiver might indicate he thinks the problem lies more with Bill Musgrave’s offense than it does on Carlson himself. If Musgrave ends up being on his way out of Minnesota after this season, however, then Carlson won’t be the only tight end learning a new scheme in 2013.
Coming off of a big win, the Vikings bye week has not been completely quiet, and I have plenty of great reads to share with you: