Monday, February 8, 2016

harrison smith

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Vikings Post-Season Awards
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

If there’s one thing Minnesota Vikings fans can agree on, it’s that the 2015 season didn’t end as well as we all hoped (or thought) it would. At 11-5 and atop the NFC North, Mike Zimmer’s team surprised the NFL world, knocking off the Green Bay Packers to storm into the playoffs for the first time since 2009. But Blair Walsh’s missed last-second field goal ended what had been a promising campaign in Minnesota.

Fortunately, it was a season to remember, and a season to build upon in the coming years. With one of the league’s best coaches at the helm and a young roster built to last, the Vikings should stay competitive in 2016 and beyond. Before we jump too far into the offseason though, now presents the perfect opportunity to reflect on a memorable 2015.

We saw rookies outperform their draft positions and 30 year-old running backs lead the league in rushing. We saw a second-year quarterback shine, and often struggle behind a leaky offensive line. More importantly, we saw a team realize it’s potential and exceed expectations. To celebrate the successful season, we’re asking you to hand out awards to the most deserving Vikings. From the Most Valuable Player to the Rookie of the Year, the power to choose is in your hands. Without further ado, here are your VT post-season awards nominees:

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Minnesota will play the Seahawks at full strength

Vikings Inactives Wild Card
Image courtesy of NFL Game Pass

The Minnesota Vikings are near full-health in their most important game of the season, a Wild Card matchup with the Seattle Seahawks. The last time these two teams met, Anthony Barr, Harrison Smith, and Linval Joseph were either injured before the game or left the game early because of injuries. This time around, Mike Zimmer’s defense will be primed to contain Russell Wilson and the red-hot Seahawks offense.

On Friday, the Vikings released the weekly injury report, which listed all but one player as “probable” for today’s game. Defensive tackle Kenrick Ellis is out with an ankle injury, and will be replaced by former practice squad player B.J. Dubose. Below, a look at all of the Vikings’ inactives for Wild Card Weekend:

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Zimmer's blitzes could be the key for the Vikings on Sunday

Vikings Blitz Wilson
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

Sifting through recent Seattle Seahawks game film, it’s difficult to find many weaknesses for the Minnesota Vikings to exploit. Russell Wilson is playing at MVP levels, especially as of late. In Seattle’s last seven games, he’s thrown 24 touchdown passes and just one interception, helping him finish the season as the first player in NFL history to record at least 4,000 passing yards, 30 passing touchdowns, and 500 rushing yards in a single season. Known more for his mobility than his ability from within the pocket, Wilson is thriving as a traditional pocket passer. This season, he’s posted a 118.6 passer rating when throwing from the pocket, which is higher than any qualifying quarterback in the past three years.

When the Vikings and Seahawks met last, Wilson hurt Mike Zimmer’s defense every which way. He scored one touchdown on the ground and threw another three, two of which were 20 or more yards down the field. That game kickstarted his stretch of All-Pro play and helped the Seahawks win six of their last seven games. But that game was also a lopsided affair, one that found the Vikings shorthanded on the defensive side of the ball. Missing three of their most important players — one at each level of the defense — the Vikings surrendered 433 yards to the Seahawks and allowed a season-high 38 points. Finally healthy and playing some of their best football, the Vikings have the chance to upset the Seahawks and win their first playoff game.

But how can they slow down Wilson and Seattle’s suddenly dangerous passing attack? It’s simple — put pressure on the quarterback and blitz.

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Vikings Bold Predictions
Image courtesy of Vikings.com

The Minnesota Vikings haven’t even finished their 2015 campaign, but we’re already excited for the draft, free agency, and the rest of what should be an exciting offseason for Mike Zimmer’s up-and-coming team. Maybe we’re used to thinking about the Vikings’ future in January — we haven’t had postseason football in Minnesota since 2009!

With that in mind — and with the help of Adam — I decided to ask the team to give me their Vikings bold predictions. Not for the Vikings’ upcoming playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks, but for the 2016 season. Will Teddy Bridgewater take the next step and join the NFL’s elite? Will Adrian Peterson win his second-straight rushing title? Can the Vikings hold off the Green Bay Packers and retain their title as “Kings of the North?”

What’s your bold prediction for the 2016 season?

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Playoffs, Homeboy. As the Minnesota Fightin’ Vikings prepare to take on the Seattle Seahawks on the surface of Pluto Sunday, we welcome in Di Murphy (@DiMurphyMN) of The Daily Norseman for her weekly spot to set this mother on fire with Hot Takes.

Besides discussing Making a Murderer (which I do at length), we dive into the deliciousness of winning the NFC North, why this team isn’t satisfied with being one-and-done in the playoffs, how Seattle can get got, how Harrison Smith is a better safety than Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas combined, why the 38-7 beatdown was a fluke, if there’s any coaches in the NFL we’d take over Mike Zimmer, and why fans going to the game Sunday have no right to complain about the cold.

All this and other “Home ” nonsense on this edition of the Purple FTW! Podcast!

An Andy Carlson Joint

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