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How Sweet Would A Week 16 Win In Cincinnati Be?

 I predicted a Vikings’ win against the Bears in week 13… and now I’m having those same sensations again this week.

 The Bengals are 9-5 and setting on top of the AFC North standings in part by winning all 6 of their home games in Cincinnati this season. At Paul Brown Stadium the Kittens have beaten Pittsburgh, Greenbay, New England, NY Jets, Cleveland, and Indianapolis. The Bengals have scored over 40 points in each of their last three home games. The Vikings on the other hand are only averaging 22 points per game in their last three road outings.

 On paper this looks like an easy win for the Bengals, right? Yes, and I bet the Eagles were thinking the same thing last week too.

 A sweet 16 road win capped by a strong performance by Matt Cassel would go a long way in salvaging Coach Frazier’s job. So let’s put the coaching rumors on hold for two more weeks because I think the Vikings will continue to play inspired football from here on out. As much as I would like to see some coaching changes (and a high draft pick), there is just something warm and fuzzy inside me right now rooting for a strong finish for Leslie Frazier and Matt Cassel.

 The chemistry and connection between Cassel and Greg Jennings has been a real joy to watch. I can also say I’m excited to see the Vikings finally getting Cordarrelle Patterson more involved in both the running and passing game. Over the last three weeks versus the Bears, Eagles and Ravens, Cassel has connected with Jenning and Patterson 33 times for 471 yards and 4 touchdowns. I like those numbers.

 I keep telling myself Matt Cassel is younger than Tom Brady, Eli Manning, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, and Philip Rivers. Cassel is only one year older than Jay Cutler and just three years older than Joe Flacco. Now, I realize Cassel hasn’t earned franchise quarterback status, but he is a quality veteran with a lot of football left in the tank. Out of the three quarterbacks on the Vikings’ roster, Cassel would be the obvious choice to lead and mentor a rookie signal caller next season. With the 2014 draft stacked with quarterbacks and Cassel set to make 3.7 million next season, the Vikings seem to “now” be moving in the right direction. Better late than never I guess.

 I don’t think the last three weeks have been a  fluke. Frazier knows how to finish a season strong and the Vikings’ offense has looked balanced and efficient under Cassel’s leadership. With Adrian Peterson back in the lineup Sunday (keep your fingers crossed), I think the Vikings will have a sporting chance to control the tempo against a Bengals’ defense that has been ravaged by injuries this season.

Most fans have already pegged Frazier as being canned after the season, but could good quarterback play and a signature win in Cincinnati be enough to change your mind?

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Carl Knowles

Carl Knowles (Contributor) is a former member of the Professional Bowler Association and an avid lifelong Vikings fan. When he is not bowling you can find him on websites and forum pages sharing his creative insight and enthusiasm for the Minnesota Vikings any chance he gets. Carl was a Phoenix Institute of Technology and Purdue University standout who currently enjoys the challenge of being a graphic director in the printing business. You can follow him on twitter @carlknowles_vt.

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  1. I’m rooting for them to win, now. I like Cassel. The passing game has been at an all time low before and since Favre, and Cassels the only one who’s looked like a real QB. His connection with Jennings works. . Now it’s working, keep it going.. If Frazier is done with the paperboy, he can stay. I watched the Bears game again last night. Ponders attempts at ANY pass was such a joke. I still won’t trust Frazier until they get rid of Ponder.

  2. Freds agrees on your “age” comments. Cassel isn’t that old where he can’t be effective for the next couple years. Let’s hope this doesn’t stop the purple from drafting a high end QB in the draft, Cassel isn’t the long term answer for sure.

    IF the following happens, perhaps Leslie should stay:

    1) Cassel throws 6 touchdown passes in each of the next two weeks
    2) Leslie promises to scrap both the offensive and defensive coordinators for next year
    3) The words Tampa Two must never ever be said out loud ever again
    4) Christian Ponder must be released shortly after Erin Henderson
    5) Joe Webb must show he can actually catch a football
    6) Salma Hayek must fall madly in love with Fragile Freds

    IF ALL those happen, Leslie should stay.

    1. Freds, I notice you often misspell or somehow err in your listing of known names and players. I also noticed that in this instance you spelled a difficult celebrity female name exactly correct. Interesting.

  3. Freds,
    No worries on 5 and 6. Joe Webb can catch and Salma has a picture of Freds under her pillow.

    One thing I didn’t mention was the “X factor” this week. J Simpson was a fan favorite in Cincinnati… look for him to be on his high horse this weekend.

  4. Here’s the biggest problem I see with bringing Frazier back next year: You can’t ask the guy to make changes to his coaching staff without giving him a contract extension and the Wilf’s aren’t going to extend him after what will be losing season regardless of what happens the next two weeks. Think about it. If they bring him back to coach next year on a one year contract, there is no way he’s going to be able to attract any attractive OC/DC candidates. The only reason I can come up with for why a coach would want to come here under those circumstances would be that he figured he could take over for Leslie when he was fired half-way through next season. If Frazier is forced to make changes while coaching on a one year deal, we are likely just going to end up with another inexperienced coach in a critical position. If the Wilfs aren’t willing to extend him, they are just going to be setting him up to fail, so they may as well just end it and start fresh.

  5. “Frazier knows how to finish a season strong”………..Carl, what the hell does that mean? Hey, I’m a 40-50 yr fan, but the cool aid is being served this morning and I’m not partaking. Cincy is playing for home field advantage and there will be no let down. Vikes lose by 14…with a score in garbage time…IMO. We will play well on offense (unless we run AD up the middle on 1st and 2nd and let Cassel pass on 3rd down) but defense will once again be exposed as weak…..Cincy 34 Vikes 20………Freds, you’re right on…if all six happen, he stays!

    1. Frazier is 9-7 in the month of December as a head coach for the Vikings. Is that strong? Maybe not, but it is when he does his best work.

      If he finishes with a couple more wins… part of me would like to see what he could do with a quality QB and coaching staff under him.

      Frazier is good friends with Gary Kubiak. Kubiak as Offensive Coordinator and a true Defensive Coordinator could a smart more.

      The Wilfs have a lot on their plate right now with the new stadium planning and that recent law suit stuff. I really don’t think they are in a position right now to want to spend a bunch of money on a whole new coaching staff.

      Spielman has said Frazier will be back next season… Frazier is under contract for 2014.

      The Ponder failure is not all Frazier’s fault. Musgrave/Graig Johnson and Spielman need to take most of the blame for that.

      I just don’t think Spielman and the Wilfs will spend the dollars needed to find and buy-out a quality head coach. Some of these big name college coaches are signed to long term deals and already make more than what the Vikings usually look to spend on a head coach.

      1. good points, Carl, but I think they want to and will take the time and spend the money to get some excitement going again (new staff) to match the excitement of the new stadium …..change doesn’t guarantee success, but in this case, it should increase the odds…..

        1. Like I wrote above, the first step in making Frazier get a new OC/DC is to give him a new contract himself. The good candidates like Kubiak aren’t going to come to work under a guy that is on a one year contract, not when there will be other jobs out there that offer more security. When it comes to this coaching staff, I really feel like it’s an all or nothing proposition. The highest level exception to that could be Preifer, but with the Cleveland and Baltimore losses having a special teams flavor, I don’t really expect him to be retained either. Fraziers recent comments regarding job security make me think he already knows he is not going to be retained. The X-factor is that they may not find anyone willing to take the job under Spielman that the Wilfs feel any better about. That might explain the flirtation with O’Brien…kinda seems like they are asking the cute new girl if she’ld like to go to the movies before dumping their current girlfriend. If they start finding out that none of the cute new girls want to come play in a college stadium for the next two years, Frazier’s chances to be back with his guys increase greatly. A couple more wins would help him, but I have a feeling that the willingness of a highly regarded alternate could play more into the decision than anything else.

          1. Dan
            You make a valid point, but a unemployed offensive coach with proven sucess as an offensive coordinator… guys like Gary Kubiak, Mike Mularkey or Jeff Tedford probably are NOT looking for a long term gig as an OC.

            I think they’re looking for the right short term stepping stone type job (a high probability for quick success OC position) until the right head coaching job comes up.

            I know this sounds crazy to you, but I just think the Wilfs might try to tread water for a year or two until the new stadium is ready before they break the bank on an all new coaching staff.

            1. the vikings might not have the best situation for coaches in the nfl, but there are only 32 nfl HC, OC, and DC jobs in the world, and there aren’t that many guys who can pick and choose between suitors, so i’m sure we can find some good coaches out there that want our opportunity

              the wilfs better feel that the time to break the bank and get going is now, whether it’s for the new stadium or not. they would be crazy to think that way when they want a title. that ‘purple pride’ water treading bs’er only saved money on tice because he wanted to sell the team, and that was crazy because he always wanted an nfl team, had more money than he’d ever need, and he would’ve made more money if he’d kept the vikings, but that’s a totally different rant

              and they have already talked to a new prospect, so all this is just a moot point. frazier is a goner

            2. Okay, lets revisit Fraziers track record with getting high caliber coordinators. Josh McDaniels, fresh off being fired by the Broncos said thanks but no thanks. Frazier settles on Musgrave because noone else wanted him. Mel Tucker, highly regarded d-coordinator is targeted by Frazier, he elects to stick with Jacksonville under a new HC, gets canned a year later and is now with Chicago. Frazier ends up settling for Alan Williams who wasn’t being considered for any DC jobs that I know of. If Frazier couldn’t seal the deal with these guys when he actually had a new 3 year contract of his own, how can you expect him to get someone this year without the Wilf’s extending him? I don’t think it sounds crazy at all that the Wilf’s might stick with Frazier, I’m just telling you and everyone else that common sense tells me that without the Wilfs adding time onto Frazier’s current lame duck deal, you can expect the entire staff to be back with him. Your not going to see the Vikings sign Gary Kubiak or any of these other coaches to a 3 year contract while Frazier has one year on his deal. If the Vikes do end up looking for new coordinators, they aren’t going to be alone. The guys in demand aren’t likely to accept a one year deal to match Fraziers. I’ve never heard of a lame duck head coach hiring multiple new staff members, it just flat out doesn’t make any sense. Could it happen that way? Sure it could, but if it does I would be extremely disappointed in management for putting Frazier in that type of messed up situation.

              1. Dan,
                You win round one of this debate. Frazier hasn’t done enough to save his own job… yet, so I will just shut-up until that actually happens.

                As far as landing good coordinators? If you don’t catch the big fish the first couple of times you cast a line… that doesn’t mean you should stop fishing.

          2. but if she plays with me in my colloge stadium for the next two years, she can play with me for years to come in one of the nicest mansions in the world!

  6. “something warm and fuzzy inside me right now”, you sure that ain’t some spiked-early egg nog drink you’re having? philly came in flat, and the vikings jumped on them, so to see that happen again would be unlikely. ok, we might win, but not like this last game

    ‘down goes frazier! down goes frazier!’, he’s done. they’ve already begun the search process

  7. Hey Adam, how is life in Ohio this week for a devoted Vikings fan? Bet you would love some bragging rights that would come along with a win Sunday, eh?

  8. If you want to watch some good football tomorrow night, NDSU BISON play on ESPN 2.

    GO BISON!!!

  9. WFT, Why do Bison fans pronounce the word with a Z sound?

    Just wondering.

    And you’re right, they are a great deal of fun to watch!

    1. I think it is a German thing. A lot of S’s are pronounced as Z’s around here. I have relatives in South Dakota that tell me all the time I am pronouncing it wrong.