The Minnesota Vikings are one of the hardest teams to peg in a season, within a league, that is full of parity. For almost a full month, these Vikings had people believing that they were essentially already 7-5, on their way to both a playoff spot and perhaps a deep run into the newly (and potentially) expanded playoff format launched this season (and perhaps expanded further depending on what happens with COVID down the stretch).
Then Sunday happened, or should I say, then Sunday and Thanksgiving happened.
Sunday being where the Vikings yet again played beneath the level of an inferior (at least inferior to some of the teams the Vikings beat in the weeks prior to Sunday) team in the Dallas Cowboys.
But all is not lost, at least not mathematically, especially considering the fact that the Vikings face back-to-back sub-.500 teams in the next two weeks in the Carolina Panthers and the Jacksonville Jaguars. Despite that, though, as the intro suggests, it’s hard to really know what Vikings team, or rather what Vikings defense, will show up Sunday.
Let’s see what the purpleTERRITORY team predicts for Teddy Bridgewater’s return to Minneapolis.
For Part 1 to this series, click below:
Joe Johnson- Owner/Editor-in-Chief PurpleTERRITORY Media/Host purpleTERRITORY Variety Hour (KDLM Sports Radio Detroit Lakes)
I wrote the intro to this piece, which showed my frame of mind going into this must-win game for a Minnesota Vikings team that had a huge let down against the lowly Dallas Cowboys.
While the Vikings are still very much in the playoff race, as the current nine seed (in what could very well be an eight team playoff when all is said and done), they’re going to have to both bounce back and maintain a consistent level of play through the final six games of the season. That is, of course, to either make the playoffs or make the playoffs and actually threaten any opponent they may face in those playoffs.
One thing/week at a time.
My guess is that as they have against the Packers (after the loss to the Atlanta Falcons (and bye week)), the Vikings will indeed put up a better fight against the Panthers than they did against the Cowboys. The good news is that Christian McCaffrey isn’t playing, although the Panthers have a suitable replacement in Mike Davis at the running back position.
Teddy looks like he’s going to play, which may be a boon to a Vikings team that still has the head coach that drafted/loved Teddy in the first place. If there’s anyone who knows Bridgewater’s strengths and weaknesses in the NFL it’s Mike Zimmer, who really championed Bridgewater and has spoken of him in a glowing fashion (for Zimmer) this week.
While some Vikings fans will never admit this, Teddy is essentially a mediocre quarterback, one with clear flaws in his game. As legendary Vikings Tommy Kramer said on my now defunct podcast, Bridgewater has an imperfect throwing motion, which negates his ability to put enough air under the ball on deeper throws.
That leads to line-drive overthrows, the types some Vikings fans will remember from back before former Vikings wide receiver Mike Wallace spurned the purple for… a different shade of purple in the Baltimore Ravens, saying he wanted to play for a “real quarterback”.
While Teddy has improved his throwing motion and deep ball, he is still a ‘meh’ quarterback, which would be more than enough for a team with Christian McCaffrey. Teddy helped lead an improved Vikings defense and a great Adrian Peterson to the playoffs in 2015, after all.
The Panthers have neither McCaffrey (this week) nor a good defense (this season), with a unit in the bottom three-to-five against the pass, and bottom half against the run. With Adam Thielen most likely out against the Panthers, rookie Justin Jefferson will start his first game as the sole focal point of the opposing secondary.
With Kirk Cousins coming off his best game of the season, and the Panthers being MEH at best in nearly ever facet of their game (without McCaffrey), combined with Zimmer’s intimate knowledge of Teddy’s game… I’m going to pick the Vikings to bounce back and best the Panthers at home.
Which’ll probably lead us to get all roped in and hopeful again, especially considering the Vikings have a game against the 1-9 Jaguars next weekend.
Minnesota Vikings: 38
Carolina Panthers: 23