Thursday, July 28, 2016

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

What’s the difference between an 8-5 record and a 6-7 record? The simple answer would be two wins. Two games separate the Vikings, who are currently 8-5, from a pack of 6-7 teams “in the hunt” for the NFC’s sixth playoff spot. But two games also separate the Vikings from a familiar face — their 2014 counterparts.

At this time last year, the Vikings were 6-7 and eliminated from playoff contention. They’d go on to lose two of their final three games and finish the season at 7-9. Respectable, given the year-long absence of Adrian Peterson and the arrival of first-year coach Mike Zimmer, but not enough to push them into January. It was a season that, despite a losing record, inspired hope in the Minnesota fanbase and promised future success.

This season, the Vikings have built on what made them successful in 2014 and sit firmly entrenched in the NFC playoff picture. Two more wins through 13 games may not seem like a major leap, but these Vikings are a much improved team for a number of reasons. From the emergence of the defense to the return of Peterson, Minnesota has a chance to finish the year with 11 wins and play their first meaningful postseason football since 2012. Will they hit double digits in the win column, or will they flounder to end the season as they did last year?

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Photo courtesy of Vikings.com

It is that time of year again. The time where everyone gathers with their family members around the fireplace, sipping hot chocolate, nibbling on sugar cookies and divulging in everyone’s favorite seasonal pastime.

Going over NFL playoff scenarios.

As far as the Vikings making the playoffs in 2015, Minnesota controls its own destiny. At least for the time being.

If the playoffs began today, the Vikings would enter the postseason as the NFC’s sixth seed. That seed seems like the least favorable spot that Minnesota could land, but it could actually end up being one of the best depending on how everything sorts itself out.

With the top two seeds in the NFC likely locked up by the Carolina Panthers and Arizona Cardinals, the Vikings will be fighting to land either the third, fifth, or sixth seed in the playoffs. Yes, they do need to clinch a berth in the postseason first. But if they do, what seeding could provide them with the best opportunity to succeed?

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The Minnesota Fightin’ Vikings begin their stretch run by welcoming in the Chicago Bears Sunday afternoon at The Bank. The Purple can keep their playoff and division title dreams alive simply by winning. What a novel concept.

We welcome in Di Murphy (@DiMurphyMN) of The Daily Norseman for her weekly hot takes as we discuss Week 16 Vikings-Giants being flexed to Sunday Night football, how the Purple can keep position in the playoff picture, if the “Primetime Curse” is a real thing, and how this damn team better get healthy if it wants to do anything in January.

All that and other “Connor McGregor Looks Like a Viking Until He Talks” nonsense on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast!

An Andy Carlson Joint.

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We’re looking to shut em down today on this edition of the NFL Draft Forecast with Luke Inman (@Luke_Spinman) — of eDraft and Cold Omaha — as we talk about some hot cornerback prospects to watch heading into NFL Draft season.

This Week’s Prospects Include
• Jalen Ramsey, Florida State
• Vernon Hargreaves, Florida
• Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech
• Tre’Davious White, LSU
• Desmond King, Iowa
• Mackensie Alexander, Clemson
• Eric Murray, Minnesota

All that and other “Stiff Hips” nonsense on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast!

An Andy Carlson Joint.

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Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Adrian Peterson had just one catch for 17 yards against the Arizona Cardinals last Thursday, but his impact in the passing game was felt far beyond the stat sheet. Not typically known as a third down back or receiving option, Peterson played much more in two and four-minute situations, creating new opportunities for Teddy Bridgewater and the Minnesota offense.

He’ll never be a great pass blocker or receiver, but the threat of Peterson in the backfield is enough to alter the alignment and assignment of a defensive front. When Peterson is on the field, defenders stack the box, piling bodies near the line of scrimmage to sell-out against the run. This opens up the coverage down the field and exploits mismatches in the secondary, especially for big-bodied players like Kyle Rudolph and MyCole Pruitt. After the game, Mike Zimmer explained Peterson’s expanded role on passing downs and the team’s plan for him moving forward:

“We’ll probably continue to want more. When he’s in there, he’s a threat. One of the first things you do before you make the calls are, ‘Who is the back?’ so you can determine run-pass kind of things. So the more he’s in there, the more it helps your passing game as well.”

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