Archive for the adrian peterson Category


Evaluating Lindsey’s Vikings Predictions and Making More

If you are a Vikings fan you have to be enjoying this season as Minnesota sits atop the division with a 2 game lead, the Vikings have beaten the Packers twice and the team has suffered only one injury that has caused a key player to miss more than one game. Further reason to smile, the team comes out of the bye against the Detroit Lions. Yes, life is pretty good in Viking land.

Before the season began, I offered 5 predictions for the men in purple from the NFC North. As the Vikings have no game this week and I have been really enjoying the season the past two weeks it seemed like a good time to dust off what I said at the beginning of the season to evaluate my crystal ball gazing skills and to offer a few more predictions.

Begin Slideshow

Read More...

Halloween Special: Silva Week Eight Picks

I will be breaking down every single football game this week. Like on NFL Playbook they break down every single game thats what i did that and my article is long so be ready for a show.

Matchups: Austin’s No Fluke

Six more teams go on byes in Week 8, three of which (New England, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati) have two or more every-week fantasy starters. With your lineup most likely down at least one stud, let’s try to find some sleepers by breaking down the entire weekend game by game.

Last Weeks Record (8-5) My Overall Record (24-17)

Let’s get cracking…

Begin Slideshow

Read More...

Brett Favre: Re-Writing History

It was only six months ago that the main stream media were tweeting, posting, writing, and talking about how tired they already were with the whole Brett Favre saga; even fans had had enough. It was becoming a joke; is he going to stay retired or unretire. Even a four-letter network cut a promo ad poking fun at the whole offseason drama that ensued.

Looking back, was it Favre making this a bigger decision than it really was or was it the networks, media, and sports personalities just trying to reinvent the wheel by making this whole “waffling story” a bigger deal than it needed to be. After all, when Vinny Testaverde retired and came back out of retirement (20 times) was there a circus surrounding his decision and questioning his motive?

Sure Vinny’s decision or announcements were hardly “stop the presses,” but why was it such a big deal for Brett Favre to change his mind and comeback? Why did so many blast him for considering and reconsidering, maybe, just maybe he knew just a little better what was best for Brett Favre.

So many of us can sit at home and play armchair quarterback or GM for that matter, weigh over the circumstances and draw our own conclusions from observation alone. But how much can we really know? How can you measure one man’s heart and really know what fuels his fire?

Maybe he knew what he was doing, just maybe he was right. In hindsight it’s always easier to second guess, because let’s face it, even in the 12th hour it appeared Favre himself didn’t even know what to do; to think if Vikings head coach Brad Childress had not made that one last reach out to the former three-time NFL MVP. If Chilly doesn’t make the call, what would all of us be talking about today?

The simple fact is the call was made, Favre said yes and once again we could be looking at history being made. But the critics will tell you we have seen this all before and all too well. Last season with the Jets‘ 8-3 start, there was talk of a postseason run, and then like a fly hitting a wall; it all became just a bad dream. Could this just be another repeat or are we seeing something different?

Unlike last season, the Jets for Favre were like the next hot girl right after a bad breakup with your longtime girlfriend. It’s always nice to have someone, but it’s not always where you want to be and with whom you really want to be with; but it’ll do. For what it’s worth, Favre made the best of the situation, but like any turbulent relationship doomed from the start it did not end on the best of terms; but it had to end.

The Vikings weren’t ever going to replace his first love (Packers), but like a long time close (girl) friend that has always been there with the shoulder to lean on, understanding, and with open arms to comfort this relationship when first conceived (last year) always made sense. In Minnesota, Favre had strong ties that would make him feel welcome.

Even when Favre was teetering and unsure, rather than understand that at 39 years age the heart wants what the heart wants and that one has to consider can the body survive, the masses (analysts, bloggers, columnists) would rather crucify the guy for seeming to hold a franchise hostage and keeping the football world waiting. It may have seemed selfish to many, but when it comes right down to it, this was Brett’s decision and with the support of his family there was only one person he needed to consider.

His decision to play his 19th NFL season did not come easy and it was quite apparent no one covering the story or having an opinion on the matter and every self-serving so-called football analyst and expert were not going to help make it easy.

From right out of the gate, the Favre-hating nation was quick to jump on his signs of rustiness and call out his perceived limitations. Again, pushing 40 years of age and coming off a season were the toll of 16 games had beat him down, how much longer could Favre really play. Was he even the shell of a player we had watched take a Packer team to the NFC championship in 2007?

The Vikings started strong in 2009 and needed very little help from Favre in the first couple of weeks (after two games; 265 yards passing and three touchdown passes). With Favre adding very little to the offense, why was he even in Minnesota? Was he doing anything more that the other two quarterbacks the Vikings had in reserve couldn’t? And just like that there was the talk of a “schism.” Is that even a word? Everyone and their mother had a take on this.

The so-called schism was being addressed on every air-wave, every talk show, and sure enough there it was on the four letter network being addressed like some kind of physical injury, Favre, Childress, and the Vikings would have to deal with and adjust to. The entire situation was being made out like the Vikings faced a divided locker room.

Why all the drama? Seriously, was Brett wrong to comeback? Was it really that hard to understand a man’s love and deep passion for the game? Apparently Childress was confident of his decision and believed in Favre; so why the attention and why the uproar?

Little did anyone realize or see this coming, but the Vikings Week-Three matchup with the 2-0 Niners would not only define Favre’s reasoning for coming back, but it would mark the beginning of history being rewritten once again.

In dramatic fashion that only Favre can bring, the Vikings’ new team leader took his new team upon his back. Favre would not use his voice to lead the way, but the boy from Mississippi would lead with his actions.

In a battle of then unbeatens the two teams traded haymakers, back and forth throughout the game, it was one big timely play after another. First the Vikings struck late in the third quarter and took the lead with a blistering 101-yard kickoff return by Percy Harvin. Then it was the Niners who struck back early in the fourth quarter with a Vernon Davis catch to lead 24-20.

As the clock continued to wind down, the moment had arrived. It was time for Favre to show the world what he was all about and how he loved the game; and loved to win. Calm, cool, and collected Favre took the field, kept plays alive with his feet, made throw after throw as he drove his team into position.

With just 12 seconds left to play, it was time for magic. Favre scrambled out to his right to avoid the Niner pressure, as he avoided a potential tackler he stepped up the field, and then in a last wing and a prayer throw he let go a 32-yard laser that miraculously found its’ way to the back of the end-zone, into the hands of the newly signed wide receiver Greg Lewis.

Lewis’ grab completed a sensational game-winning touchdown reception that not only elevated the Vikings to 3-0, but ended the talk of any kind of schism or divided locker room. The play was everything you would have expected from a younger, gunslinger, a Favre of yesterday, but this was today and history was being written all over.

In Week Four, Favre would add another chapter to his legacy and make more history. When the Vikings defeated the Packers on Monday night, Favre became the only quarterback in the history of the NFL to defeat all 32 teams in the NFL.

Favre is playing inspired football now. Perhaps all the negative chatter prior to his arrival has motivated him? One thing appears to be certain, not only does Favre have plenty left in the tank, but many of the nay-sayers had it wrong.

Since Week Three, Favre has played like a 30-year-old. His numbers are rivaling the best in the league and over his past four starts he’s averaged 270 yards passing and thrown nine touchdowns with only two interceptions. While many try to explain Favre’s sudden resurrection an interesting comment made during the Vikings-Packers matchup in Week Four by commentator and football analyst Ron Jaworski.

Favre was a late arrival to camp this year, but by Week Four against the Packers he had put in the same length of time of a full training camp. At this point it would be a fair assessment to gauge his progress and level of play; needless to say Favre’s performance on Monday night was flawless (24-of-31 passing, 271 yards passing, and three touchdowns). Against his former team Favre was accurate; his passes had plenty of zip and velocity, while his spirals were tight and on the mark.

So what makes 2009 different from a year ago when Favre seemed to have collapsed in the second half of the season? At no point in 2008 was he this efficient and effective. His strong start last year could not disguise his gun-slinging tendencies with eight interceptions in his first six starts. This season, Favre has been much better throwing 12 touchdowns with only two interceptions and completing nearly 70 percent of his passes.

There’s no guarantee that Favre will hold up this season, but then again there seems to be no reason to believe that he will break down. The bicep injury that seemed to undermine his 2008 comeback hardly seems to be an issue in 2009. He’s throwing the ball as well as he ever has and if history repeats as it has often does, this season is sure reminiscent of 2007.

With all the negative criticism surrounding his return, there are still many just waiting for the moment that Favre will tank or resort to his normal tendencies. For those that still don’t believe, holding your breath is not recommended.At 40 years of age now, Favre is defying the odds and every game he plays and every snap he takes he is rewriting the record books. On Sunday Favre will make his 276th consecutive start (an NFL record). His week seven matchup with the Steelers will present a huge test for Favre as he goes for his 176 career win (another NFL record).

When camp opened up back in the summer, many folks like the Vikings chances heading into the 2009 season. With Favre under center and slinging the rock this well, the Vikings have to like their chances. We may not have imagined it before, but how you have to think we could be watching something very special; you might even say we’re watching (Favre’s) history be re-written.

That’s my take.

By David Ortega

Read more Minnesota Vikings news on BleacherReport.com

Read More...

Monday Morning Rehab: Is Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson Injured?

Not sure the infirmary has enough beds for all the players checking in with injuries after a bruising Week Six in the NFL.

Among the names checking in this morning is Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson. ADP suffered an ankle injury late in yesterday’s thrilling win against Baltimore that sent him limping off the field.

Chester Taylor is the appropriate handcuff here.

A few other notes from the weekend that was:

*If last week was the week of the wide receiver , this was the week of the quarterback. Peep some numbers: Matt Schaub (392-4), Drew Brees (369-4), Tom Brady (380-6), Joe Flacco (385-2), Brett Favre (278-3), Ben Roethlisberger (417-2), Aaron Rodgers (358-2), Kurt Warner (276-2).

*For as good as those guys were at the quarterback position this weekend, a pair of starting quarterbacks were impressively awful. Kerry Collins turned the ball over three times and completed 2-of-12 passes for -7 yards. You read that right: Negative seven passing yards. Meanwhile, rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez threw five interceptions in losing to the Bills.

*The opportunity to buy low on Steve Slaton may have come and gone. The rushing numbers were not pretty, but he was mighty active in the passing game. The Texans likely will continue to utilize him in any way possible going forward, except, frustratingly, at the goal line.

 

Anquan Boldin [WR, Cardinals]

From ProFootballTalk :

The only bad news for the Cardinals was an ankle injury to Anquan Boldin that knocked him out in the fourth quarter. The game was well in hand, so the team may have just been playing it safe. Boldin was seen sitting on the bench with his foot raised and his ankle wrapped.

Boldin did not return to a game that was well in-hand by the fourth quarter, but he continues to get nicked up on an almost-weekly basis. Good thing here is that it does not appear too serious, and he should not miss any time.

 

Donnie Avery [WR, Rams]

From RotoWorld :

Avery left the game with a bruised hip in the second quarter. He is the team’s only reliable receiver and it showed after he left the game. The offense looked very good on the opening drive, but then sputtered when Avery left.

Another receiver with a disturbing propensity for injury.

At least Avery scored for his fantasy owners before exiting for the day. The St. Louis offense really could have used his presence late in the game against Jacksonville with a chance to win with a touchdown.

Steven Jackson owners, meanwhile, watched the do-it-all running back become the team’s leading receiver on the day.

 

LenDale White [RB, Titans]

From ProFootballTalk :

White left the game and was limping on the sideline before hoping on a cart and heading to the locker room early. It appeared to be an ankle injury, but that hasn’t been confirmed.

White was unable to put weight on the injured limb after going down in the snow. Usually a bad sign, but more on the severity of the injury should be known later today.

Meanwhile, those in the deep, keeper and dynasty leagues need to find Javon Ringer. He is the rookie from Michigan State that figures to fill in for an injured White if push comes to shove.

 

Sammy Morris [RB, Patriots]

From RotoWorld :

Morris injured the knee on a three-yard reception. He had to be helped off the field, unable to put pressure on the leg.

Just when I thought Morris would return to fantasy relevance following the Fred Taylor injury, he gets hurt.

Now the revolving door at running back for the Patriots is in full swing again. Laurence Maroney and Kevin Faulk are next in line for carries with BenJarvus Green-Ellis rejoining the conversation again.

Fantasy advice: Steer clear if possible, though Maroney still has the most upside.

 

Trent Edwards [QB, Bills]

From ProFootballTalk :

Edwards was injured as a result of a sack on a third-down play early in the second quarter. He has been replaced by Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Per CBS, Edwards has been taken to the locker room for further evaluation.

Edwards’ injury was being diagnosed as a concussion after the game.

Ryan Fitzpatrick led the Bills to the victory against the Jets in overtime thanks in large part to the ineptitude of Jets’ quarterback Mark Sanchez and his five interceptions. Edwards will be monitored closely this week but could be in danger of missing some time.

Luckily for fantasy owners of Bills’ offensive players, the team was able to move the ball relatively effectively with Fitzpatrick behind center.

 

Percy Harvin [WR, Vikings]

From RotoWorld :

Vikings coach Brad Childress said that Percy Harvin “nicked” his left shoulder against the Ravens and X-rays showed no further damage.

That is pretty good news for Harvin, whose status for today’s game was in jeopardy earlier this morning.

However, it is just another setback to what has been a mostly promising start to his career. The injuries and bouts with illness have been disheartening for fantasy owners, but it is hard to complain about a rookie receiver who has played well when given the opportunity.

 

James Davis [RB, Browns]

From ProFootballTalk :

Browns running back James Davis, who allegedly suffered a shoulder injury while facing without pads a linebacker who wasn’t, underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.

Davis will spend the next six months rehabbing and recovering.

Davis became a hot fantasy prospect during the preseason behind a string of impressive performances. He even worked his way into the late rounds of a few fantasy drafts.

And then he fell off the map along with the rest of the Cleveland offense.

Davis will have a chance to supplant Jamal Lewis as the starting running back in Cleveland next year. Hopefully the rest of the offense will improve as well, otherwise his talent may get wasted again.

 

Adrian Peterson [RB, Vikings]

From ProFootballTalk :

After catching a pass in the backfield from quarterback Brett Favre, Peterson’s ankle twisted as he was being tackled.

He limped badly off the field but he now seems to be walking normally.

Scary seeing Peterson’s name in the MMR. This may or may not be his first visit. Regardless, Peterson’s fantasy owners are ever-vigilant of their prize possession.

This does not appear to be anything serious, but he could be limited in practice this week. Keep a close eye on his status throughout the week, and pick up Chester Taylor if he is floating on the waiver wire.

 

Matthew Stafford [QB, Lions]

From ProFootballTalk :

Per Chris Mortensen of ESPN, Stafford will consult with Dr. James Andrews, who’ll inspect a new MRI in an effort to determine the cause of the looseness in the joint.

If surgery is necessary to fix the condition, Stafford could be out for the rest of the year.

The news on Stafford went from bad to worse over the course of the weekend. His one day of practice last week resulted in a setback for his knee, and it does not appear likely he will be able to return to the field after the Lions’ bye week.

Calvin Johnson, who also missed yesterday’s game, is still expected to return to the field for the Lions’ next game. And as he proved last year, the guy throwing the ball in Detroit does not really matter for Megatron’s numbers.

 

The MMR will continue to run every Monday morning as scheduled during the regular season. If you have an injury update or want an update on a certain player, please leave a note in the comments.

Read more Minnesota Vikings news on BleacherReport.com

Read More...

Minnesota Vikings Survive Baltimore Ravens 33-31, Despite Poor Clock Management

As brilliant as the Vikings have been recently in their ability to score in the first quarter, they have been as simple in their attempts to manage the clock and score in the fourth quarter to finish off their opponents.

On the last play of the game, Baltimore Ravens kicker Steven Hauschka missed a 44-yard field goal wide left.  The Vikings had won their second game of the season within the last two seconds of the game.

 The Vikings stand 6-0 and are one of only four remaining unbeaten teams in the NFL.   Ordinarily players on a team that is 6-0 would be ear to ear with smiles in their post game interviews.

However, smiles were scant in the locker room.  After all the Ravens had scored 21 points against the Vikings defense in the fourth quarter and had marched down the field to position themselves to kick the game winning field goal.

All of the Vikings knew that they were fortunate to escape with their sixth win after their fourth quarter collapse.

The Vikings stood at 14-0 at the end of the first quarter.  The game should have been over given the experience of the defense and the weapons on the offense.   Yet, ultimately the game was decided by the Ravens field goal kicker.

The main reason for the Vikings collapse was due to poor tackling in the second half.  Ravens running backs and receivers ran over, through and around the linebackers and secondary of the Vikings. 

Part of the explanation for the lacking of tackling by the Vikings is attributable to injuries. All-Pro Antoine Winfield left the game with a toe injury in the second quarter and nickel back Benny Sapp missed most of the second half feeling the effects of a helmet to helmet hit.   

While Winfield and Sapp are key players, the Vikings can’t afford the drop off in execution when one or both of them are not in the game. The Vikings will likely be shopping for some secondary help before the trade deadline.

The most disturbing part of the Vikings collapse against the Ravens however was the self-inflicted wound brought about by their play calling in the fourth quarter. 

Before criticizing the Vikings execution in the fourth quarter, lavish praise for the play calling of the Vikings and what they have recently been able to do in the first quarter is due.  In their past three games, the Vikings have scored five touchdowns with the six possessions that they have had in the first quarter. 

Against the Ravens, the Vikings deftly kept the Ravens guessing mixing up their runs and passes early in the game.  On the first drive the Vikings had three running plays and three passes; on their second drive they had three running plays and four passes.  Favre even mixed up his passing targets as he went to five different receivers in the first two drives of the game.

Clearly, the Vikings coaching staff is able to identify weaknesses in their opponents defensive schemes and design and successfully implement an initial offensive game plan.

In watching the Vikings last two home games, Vikings fans had to wonder why their coaching staff wasn’t as effective in the fourth quarter in generating points and managing the clock.  Yes, the last two home games .

The Vikings almost squandered a 30-14 fourth quarter lead against Green Bay three weeks ago.  At the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Vikings stopped using play action and went to simple trap plays.

The Packers took advantage of the gift scoring a touchdown with 3:40 in the fourth quarter to bring the score to 30-20.  The Vikings recovered the ensuing onside kick at the Green Bay 45-yard line. 

At this point, if the Vikings can get a first down or two the game is over.  Two first downs and the Vikings will have drained the Packers of their time outs, they can kick a field goal within Ryan Longwell’s range, and they leave the Packers without enough time to tie the game.

The Vikings go conservative and are content simply to run the ball on the first two downs to exhaust the Packers timeouts.  On third down, the Vikings run a flag route resulting in an incomplete pass. 

The flag route was not disguised in anyway.  There was no fake pitch to the running back to bring the safety up. 

A stop and go route would have at least given Favre an opportunity to sneak a pass in using a pump fake.  Once the receiver demonstrated that he couldn’t run pass the corner back, Favre threw the ball harmlessly out of bounds.

The Vikings possession gave them no opportunity to add any points, lasted all of 29 seconds and allowed the Packers to use the two minute warning as an additional time out.  

The Packers being gracious guests accepted the gift and marched down for a field goal.   While the Packers had no timeouts left they were now within seven points of the Vikings preparing to kick an onside kick. 

Disaster was avoided when the Vikings recovered the on-side kick.

Against the Ravens it was déjà vu all over again.

The Vikings had the ball the on the Ravens 18 yard line with 2:51 in the game.  At the time, the Ravens were winning the game at 31-30.  The Ravens had two timeouts remaining.

The Vikings clearly wanted to have the Ravens use all their time outs and wanted to run down the clock as much as possible to leave the Ravens with only a few seconds to score.

The most pressing need for the Vikings was to score and to take the lead as they were behind.   Preferably the Vikings would score a touchdown as a field goal would leave the Ravens the opportunity to win the game with their own field goal.

The Vikings with the ball on the Ravens 18 went ultra-conservative. The Vikings pounded the ball up the middle with three straight Adrian Peterson runs gaining four yards.  The Vikings were clearly content with Baltimore calling their remaining two timeouts and having Ryan Longwell kick a 31-yard field goal to give them a two-point lead.

After the kickoff, Baltimore started their final possession at the 33-yard line with 1:46 left in the game.  The strategy worked for the Vikings.

However, the three running plays called by the Vikings at Baltimore’s 18-yard line appeared to be playing not to lose as opposed to the Vikings playing to win the game.

The Vikings didn’t need to call a flea flicker or a double reverse on the 18-yard line, but they should have at least called one play that was some type of play-action or bootleg for Favre. 

If the play works the Vikings have a chance to score a touchdown or at the very least run more time off the clock as they would have obtained a first down.   

The Vikings defense had not stopped the Ravens from moving the ball in the second half.  Scoring a touchdown on the Ravens would have at least forced the Ravens to go for the entire length of the field to take the lead.   

Yes, calling such a play is dangerous in that there is a chance for an interception.  However, the benefits far outweigh the minimal risk.

Favre has 12 touchdowns to only two interceptions and had not made a bad throw in the game.  Worst case, Favre takes a knee for a five-yard loss if he sees nothing open.  Longwell’s kick is a little longer but it is still a relatively easy 36-yard field goal.

The chance of success on play action with a pass was not insignificant.  The Vikings scored three touchdowns against the Ravens in the red zone.  All three touchdowns came on pass plays.  The Vikings final touchdown pass of the day by Favre came after he faked a pitch to Peterson.

Sometimes you win by playing it safe.  The Vikings won by playing it safe on Sunday as the Ravens missed the field goal as time expired. 

However, sometimes playing it safe allows your opponent an opportunity to beat you; and sometimes they are willing to oblige. The Vikings need to stop being such gracious hosts as they have the talent to have the route to the Super Bowl go through the Metrodome.

Read more Minnesota Vikings news on BleacherReport.com

Read More...

NFL Power Rankings Week Six: Vikes Holding Strong at the Top

It’s consuming my life. First went homework, then showering. My sense of smell and my taste buds quickly followed. Flowers don’t smell anymore, candy is no longer sweet. Is this a love poem? No. Wait, yes! Ahh maybe. It’s a love-hate relationship.

You see, NBA 2K10 is amazing. “My Player” mode especially. I spent practically the whole weekend creating, running drills, and playing training camp games with a 6’4″, 190-pound version of my likeness. It never got old, not even once, to see myself on the TV dunking over Taylor Griffin in the summer league.

But today, I rolled out of bed at 8:39 a.m. and walked out the door at 8:41 for a 9 a.m. class. On the way to campus, the semi-homeless, rubber chicken, joke book guy who stands in front of the Duck Store kindly pointed out that my already-stained sweat pants were on backwards. I realized it was time to get a grip.

No longer will I be breaking the virtual ankles of Dionte Christmas or Lee Cummard. Instead, I will force myself to read my 700-page philosophy text book and do my Decision Sciences homework. I am regretting this already.

But luckily for you, in between 2K10’s unique skill challenges and skill point divvying, I managed to squeeze in an entire Sunday of the NFL. 2KSports, you have met your match.

On to the rankings.

 

32. (32): St. Louis Rams

The Kyle Boller experiment didn’t last long. Marc Bulger replaced him in the fourth quarter and went on to compile a perfect passer rating—158.3—in his seven pass attempts. Now Marc, don’t you know how dangerous it is to give false hope to a fan base more depressed than Roman Polanski? Shame on you.

 

31. (31): Oakland Raiders

A fellow Power Ranker had this to say about the New York Giants: “The G-men made JaMarcus Russell look like the worst quarterback in the free world.” Umm buddy, JaMarcus Russell is the worst quarterback in the free world.

 

30. (29): Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Two questions: First, does Tampa Bay know that they are paying center Jeff Faine more than $13 million this season? And second, what’s it like for Ronde Barber being older than his head coach Raheem Morris? In other news, Morris just lost his last baby tooth. If only those darn wisdom teeth would grow in.

 

29. (28): Kansas City Chiefs

Without further ado, I now present you the captain of YOOOUUUURRRRR (stadium announcer voice) Garbage Time All-Star Team: MAAAATTTT CAAASSSSEL

 

28. (25): Buffalo Bills

Mark Sanchez won the Simple Jack Award for the dumbest performance in Week Four. Guess who won it this week? Hey Roscoe Parrish, never go full retard.

 

27. (30): Cleveland Browns

What a thriller this game was. Trent Edwards finished with a 52.1 quarterback rating and was by far the best quarterback on the field. Derek Anderson, the pride of Oregon State, went 2-for-17 for 23 yards and an interception. Hey Cleveland, how does Brady Quinn look now?


26. (27): Detroit Lions

The NFL Red Zone channel switched to the Pittsburgh-Detroit game with the Lions down by eight and driving on the Steelers 21-yard line with just under two minutes left. What happened after that?

1st-10, PIT21 1:54 D. Culpepper sacked by L. Woodley and W. Gay

2nd-16, PIT27 1:28 D. Culpepper sacked by W. Gay

3rd-21, PIT32 1:23 D. Culpepper sacked by L. Timmons

4th-34 PIT45 1:09 D. Culpepper incomplete pass down the middle.

I would bet you that Culpepper was probably tired of Gay’s sack. Rimshot!

 

25. (23): Tennessee Titans

I’m gonna keep saying it till they win:

“There’s an old saying in Tennessee—I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee—that says, fool me once, shame on—shame on you. Fool me—you can’t get fooled again.” –George W. Bush.

 

24. (24): Washington Redskins

Washington should be ashamed of themselves. The Redskins committed one of the most embarrassing, heartbreaking, and pitiful plays of the season on Sunday. The Panthers were up by three on their own 35-yard line with two minutes left. On a 3rd-and-8, where a stop would allow them one last chance to tie or win the game with a two-minute drill, the Redskins allowed Jake Delhomme to rush for nine yards and a first down. Game over. And the worst part? He even juked one of Washington’s defensive backs on the play. Sad.

 

23. (26): Carolina Panthers

And the Jake Delhomme interception streak continues. That’s 12 picks in his past five games.

 

22. (18): Jacksonville Jaguars

One week after losing to a team that started David Garrard and Mike Sims-Walker, I bought into the duo and started them both against the supposedly wounded Seahawks. Yea, that one didn’t turn out too well.

 

21. (19): Houston Texans

This game would not have mattered at all 15 years ago. This season it was one of the more important games of the week. At least in fantasy circles for having so many top-flight fantasy players. These teams are both pretty horrible.

 

20. (20): Arizona Cardinals

It’s not a good sign when one of your defensive backs—Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie—has more total yards than your entire backfield combined. If Arizona wants to get back in the NFC West race, either Hightower or Wells will have to emerge as an at least mediocre back.

 

19. (22): Seattle Seahawks

Well that came out of nowhere. So did former Oregon Duck Nick Reed’s 79-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown. Great call on the play: “Nick Reed, you just scored, baby!”

 

18. (17): Dallas Cowboys

The only person Sunday luckier than Miles Austin fantasy owners was me. I woke up to find that my TV gets the NFL Red Zone channel for free. In HD.

 

17. (21): Miami Dolphins

Viva la Wildcat!

 

16. (15): Green Bay Packers

Wouldn’t it be awesome if instead of wearing a cheese-head hat, someone put some fudge on their dome. Fudge. Fudge-packers. Get it?

 

15. (14): San Diego Chargers

Here’s a good fantasy football board bet for you. LT touchdowns this season or the number of episodes Michael Strahan’s new sitcom, “Brothers,” lasts on Fox? I honestly have no idea.

 

14. (13): Pittsburgh Steelers

I know a win is a win, but come on Pittsburgh, you’re playing the stinkin’ Lions. At least try a little bit.

 

13. (12): Chicago Bears

Fun fact of the week: Chicago is 6-1 dating back to the second week of the preseason. Yea, I hate bye weeks.

 

12. (8): San Francisco 49ers

San Francisco showed up to their bye one week too soon.


11. (7): New York Jets

One more reason to hate the Jets: my fantasy team was up 89-87 going into Monday night’s game. The other team was done and I had the Jets defense. Yeah. I lost by two.

 

10. (16): Cincinnati Bengals

Give me all the crap you want but I’m not buying it. The Detroit Lions started 6-2 in 2007 and finished 7-9. Until Cincinnati has an “X” to the left of their name in the standings, I won’t believe it.

 

9. (6): Baltimore Ravens

Cheer up Baltimore, at least you gave NFL fans some entertainment value when Ray Lewis decapitated Chad Ochocinco. Wait, you’d rather have the win? My mistake.

 

8. (11): Atlanta Falcons

Hey, look! Michael Silver has man crushes too.

 

7. (3): New England Patriots

Finally, Boston fans suffer a miserable sports weekend. It’s about time. It feels like they haven’t not won a championship since 2003.

 

6. (10): Philadelphia Eagles

And now to Ollie Williams will the Black-U-Sports report: “Donovan McNabb’s Good.”

 

5. (9): Denver Broncos

This is what I said about Denver before the season:

“The Raiders, Chiefs and Broncos all can’t go 4-12. It would be a statistical phenomenon. That’s why, despite the awful Jay Cutler fiasco this off-season, I’m buying Belichick-disciple Josh McDaniels to put together a high-flying offense in the Mile High city.”

Looks pretty good now.

 

4. (5): New York Giants

Can somebody please beat the G-men? I am getting so sick of them. New Orleans gets a chance this weekend at home. Game of the week.

 

3. (4): Indianapolis Colts

The only thing better than Peyton Manning is this article from CNN. For all guys past puberty, Christmas just came early. This could transform college campuses, save marriages and possibly bring world peace. Seriously, guys, you want to read this.

 

2. (2): New Orleans Saints

New Orleans had a whole week to rest up at home before hosting their biggest game of the season. I like their chances. And Drew, for the sake of my fantasy sanity, can you please throw a touchdown pass this weekend? Please!

 

1. (1): Minnesota Vikings

Brett Favre for comeback player of the year. Adrian Peterson for No. 1 fantasy running back. Jared Allen for defensive player of the year. All equally important, all guaranteed locks. Book it.

 

The UO Sports Dude

Read more Minnesota Vikings news on BleacherReport.com

Read More...

Minnesota Vikings Win 38-10; Coach Brad, Is This The Kick Ass Offense?

Coach Brad Childress’ offensive play calling over his first three years at the helm of the Vikings has been unimaginative, too conservative and worst of all . . . utterly predictable.  

When Childress came to Minnesota he boasted that his offensive scheme was a “kick-ass offense.” Vikings fans were giddy over the prospect of seeing the purple post numbers similar to when Randy Moss and Chris Carter were catching passes from Randall Cunningham and Daunte Culpepper.

Instead fans saw simple running plays up the middle and too often saw short passes designed for receivers to earn a first down by fighting for yards after the catch.   

The Vikings offense finished 12th overall in the NFL last year.  The finish for the offensive unit was especially underwhelming given that the team boasted the league leading rusher in Adrian Peterson.

Expectations for this year were high with the addition of Brett Favre and Percy Harvin.  The offense point total has not disappointed with the Vikings scoring at least 27 points in each game this year.   

The play calling this year however has occasionally been reminiscent of the past—too conservative and too predictable.  Case in point, the fourth quarter playing calling by the Vikings on Monday Night against Green Bay during Week Four allowed the Packers to get back in the game.

Going into the St. Louis Rams game this weekend, fans were curious to see if the Vikings would unveil their kick ass offense or revert back to their old playing calling ways. 

In evaluating the Vikings play calling against the Rams, fans were left with mixed emotions.  There was nothing really imaginative about the plays called.  Yet, the Vikings did mix up their play  calling enough to keep the Rams guessing.

Simple Plays

The running game was pure vanilla ice cream without a hint of syrup.  The Vikings did not a run a single counter trap for Peterson or Chester Taylor. 

The Vikings were content to go straight ahead running primarily behind All-Pro Steve Hutchinson and Bryant McKinnie.  The result was a very pedestrian 89 yards on 24 carries.  The longest run of the day was 15 yards by Peterson.

The passing game was a little more exotic; imagine an additional scoop of chocolate or strawberry ice cream.

The Vikings really used only four passing plays to dissect the Rams secondary.

First, the Vikings ran their play action with a naked bootleg to perfection all day. 

During their first series, Favre hit a wide open Harvin who subsequently broke tackles down field on his way to a 24 yard gain.  Peterson then took the ball into the end zone on the next play.

During the second series of the second quarter, Favre again hooked up with Harvin on the same play for a nice 19 yard gain.  The Vikings subsequently kicked a field goal.

Second, the Vikings used the screen pass to take advantage of the aggressiveness of the Rams defense.   Favre hit Peterson and Visanthe Shiancoe for gains of 9 and 11 yards respectively.

The Vikings quarterback who used the play most effectively however was Tarvaris Jackson.

The Rams sought to rattle Jackson with blitzes in hopes of an interception that they could take to the house to get themselves back in the game.  

On a 3rd down and 1 at the Vikings 29 yard line, the Rams came with a blitz. Jackson very patiently waited for a screen to develop for his Fullback Naufahu Tahi.   Tahi welcomed the spotlight and went rumbling down field for a 32 yard gain. 3 plays later with the ball on the Rams 36 yard line, the Vikings were faced with a 3rd down and 7.  The Rams expecting Jackson to drop back came up the middle the hard.

The Vikings guessed correctly by calling a center screen for Chester Taylor.  Again, Jackson patiently dropped back and waited for defense to sell out.  Jackson saw the fruits of his patience as Taylor took the screen 33 yards down to the Rams 3.

Third, when the Rams were in zone coverage the Vikings would hit their second receiver after sending their first receiver through the zone as a decoy.

The beneficiaries of this play were Shiancoe and Taylor.  Favre’s value to the Vikings is likely most evident on this play because of his early recognition of the zone defense at the line and his willingness to not to lock on to one receiver.

The best example of this play was the Vikings touchdown pass to Shiancoe in the third quarter.  

The Vikings were in the red zone at the Rams 13 yard line.  The Vikings sent a player in motion; the player was a decoy and it appeared sending him  in  motion had its intended effect of getting the Rams attention.

Favre did not give the play away by locking on to Shiancoe.  Instead as soon as Shiancoe broke open, Favre turned, fired, and hit him in stride preventing the Rams defenders from putting a hand on Shiancoe.

In fairness to the Vikings coaching staff, they probably didn’t open up their playbook to keep their next three opponents in the dark. 

Predictable

While the plays were simple, the Vikings did a good job mixing things up to keep the Rams guessing.

Peterson had not gained more than 100 yards in his past 3 games.  Last year, everyone would have expected the Vikings to hand off the ball to Peterson early and often.

Instead, the Vikings threw the Rams a curve ball by starting with a pass to Sidney Rice followed up with short screen pass to Peterson. 

The message sent by the Vikings is a good message to the Rams and the League. 

In passing to Rice, the Vikings are stating that they feel confident beating teams with their passing game. 

The screen pass to Peterson says he can no longer  be thought of as only a threat to run the ball.  Last year, Peterson had 21 receptions whereas after 5 games this year Peterson has already hauled in 10 catches.

On their second series, the Vikings increased their lead to 14-0 by virtue of Jared Allen taking a fumble into the end zone.

The series starts on the Vikings 34.  Last year, the Vikings would have been content to slowly grind the ball with running plays.

This year, the Vikings stayed aggressive with a pass play.  Unfortunately, Favre was sacked as Tahi failed to pick up a blitz.   Chester Taylor gained 7 yards on the next play with a run.

In his first year, Childress would have probably gone with a running play.  This year, Favre throws a deep skinny flag route to Harvin.  Harvin is behind the defender and it appears that it would be a 40 yard play for the Vikings but Harvin can’t hold on to the ball.

Good call, Coach.  Why not go for the early knock-out punch—you are up 14-0 and you are on the road.  If Harvin catches the ball, the fight in the Rams and their fans might have left at halftime.  Bags on the heads of the remaining fans would probably have followed.

Most fans probably don’t feel that the Vikings offense is a kick ass offense.  The only pass that was beyond 30 yards that was not a screen pass was Favre’s 47 yard pass to Sidney Rice pictured above.

While the Vikings are not as explosive as Moss and Company,the Vikings offense might just be good enough to get the job done if they can continue to keep defenses guessing as to their next move.

Read more Minnesota Vikings news on BleacherReport.com

Read More...

An Honest Assessment of the Minnesota Vikings After the Monday Night Showdown

Coach Jon Gruden loves Bret Favre more than coach John Madden almost to the point where a restraining order might be necessary.   We now know that if given a chance Gruden would welcome the opportunity to coach Favre again.

I can’t ever remember an analyst bringing his favorite film from practice sessions in effort to praise a player.   I only hope for Gruden’s sake that if he did not own the film of Favre throwing deep in practice he acquired the film through the proper channels.

OK, besides Gruden’s affection for Favre, we know that while the Vikings have enough talent to make it to the Super Bowl they might not be the best team in the NFC.

If you are Viking fan you saw several things on Monday night to make you salivate over the possibilities of watching football in February.  However, if you are a NFC playoff contender, or Dennis Green, you aren’t likely ready to crown them. 

Quarterback

Favre’s physical gifts have not diminished as he still has zip on the slants and out routes.  He can throw the ball downfield with authority and can get the ball into his receiver in a two deep zone. 

More importantly, Favre has brought leadership to the team and it is apparent in post game interviews that the youngsters on the team are feeding off of his confidence.

The two questions concerning Favre are whether he is durable enough to last the entire season and can he play well in inclement weather.  Neither of these questions has been answered. 

We will however know more after Favre faces the gauntlet of Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Green Bay starting on week six.

Wide Receivers

The Vikings receivers have made several big plays and are doing a very good job of getting yards after the catch.  Rookie Percy Harvin has especially been impressive avoiding and breaking tackles.   Sidney Rice appears to be poised for a break-out season.

Bernard Berrian however still does not look healthy.  Berrian’s 31 yard touchdown catch against the Packers was due to a mental lapse by the secondary and not his speed. 

While Harvin and Rice have looked very good, the Vikings need Berrian to contribute to have a consistent passing attack. 

Running Attack

The best running back in the NFL is Adrian Peterson and pairing him with Chester Taylor gives the Vikings the best tandem in the league.   Yes, Peterson’s fumble on MNF was disheartening but the organization is unlikely to trade him anytime soon.  Taylor has done a good job doing whatever the team needs and Favre has been smart to publicly show his appreciation for Chester’s efforts.

As much talent that Peterson and Taylor have, they still need the offensive line to create some daylight.   

 
Offensive Line

The best that can be said about the offensive line is that their play has been inconsistent. 

Against the Cleveland Browns, Favre was sacked four times and was hurried several times.  The Lions pass rush put Favre to the turf on three occasions and made sure he was not lonely on several occasions.  Throw in a couple of holding penalties and Coach Childress was ready for aspirin for his headache.

On Monday Night, the offensive line was Houdini like in making the Packers pass rushers completely disappear.  Even more impressive was that the offensive line was not called for holding. 

Steve Hutchinson saw limited time in practice this week with pain in his low back.  If Hutchinson misses significant time the offensive line will not be able to continue the trend established against Green Bay and the running lanes will be greatly decrease.

Run Defense

Teams have had more success rushing the ball up the middle against the Vikings this year.  Currently, the run defense is ranked ninth after leading the league last year.  No need however to hit the panic button just yet because the “fall” to the ninth spot means the Vikings are only giving up an additional 12.5 yards a game on the ground.

Teams playing the Vikings going forward will not likely abandon trying to run the ball up the middle.   The next three games for the Vikings may reveal if the run defense is slipping as the Vikings face teams committed to running the ball in the Rams, Ravens and Steelers. 

Expect the Vikings run defense to step up their play as the unit is still among the very best in the league.

Pass Defense

Statistically, the Vikings pass defense has improved from last year as they are currently ranked 12th in the league as opposed to 18th in the league from last year.  Again, no need to go completely overboard with champagne as the spike in ranking equates to holding opponents to 5.3 fewer yards a game.

Cedric Griffin has done a good job with extra attention he receives player corner opposite All Pro Antoine Winfield.   Griffin has already grabbed two interceptions; he has five over his four-year career.

One glaring need to address in the passing game is figuring out how to defend passes over the middle.  Against Green Bay, the Vikings gave up six passing plays over 20 yards.  Five of the six big passing plays over 20 yards were on throws over the middle.   

Strong safety Tyrell Johnson and free safety Madieu Williams need to make more plays. 

Special Teams

The Special Teams play has improved from last year.  Coverage squads are doing a better job of staying in their lanes and not over committing early.

Punter Chris Kluwe continues to punt well with two coffin corner kicks against Green Bay.  Ryan Longwell is six for seven with his only miss coming from beyond 40 yards.

Harvin and Darius Raynaud have now made Viking opponents worry about their special teams’ coverage.

The Vikings have turned the corner on their special team problems from last year.

Looking Forward to this Weekend

The Vikings should roll over the St. Louis Rams this weekend as the Rams got stomped on by the San Francisco 49ers 35-0 last week and it does not look like their starting quarterback is going to be able to play. Right?

Well, a couple of reasons that the game could be a close hard fought battle:

1. The Vikings are emotionally spent after beating the Packers for their new leader.

2. Rams offensive tackles Alex Barron and Jason Smith are expected to play after missing last week’s game.

3. The Vikings are looking ahead to Baltimore and Pittsburgh instead of focusing in on the Rams.

4. Rams strong safety Craig Dahl and cornerback Ron Bartell return to the lineup to shore up the defense.

5. The Vikings coaching staff will outsmart themselves and allow the Rams to stay in the game.

A poor showing by the Vikings against the Rams will suggest that the Vikings aren’t quite ready to compete with the New York Giants and New Orleans Saints.

However, if the Vikings put the Rams away early it will be a sign that they are a serious Super Bowl contenders as they are clearly focused on getting to Miami.  

Expect the Vikings to join the Giants and Saints as the elite teams in the NFC.

 

Read more Minnesota Vikings news on BleacherReport.com

Read More...

Viking Fans, Calm Down and Enjoy The Season . . .

Enjoy the season. 

Despite a 3-0 start, many Viking fans do not believe that the purple have a realistic chance to make the playoffs.  They characterize the Vikings play against the Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions as uninspired.  Many feel that the San Francisco 49ers gave the Vikings last Sunday’s game as a gift and that Minnesota is really at best a mediocre 2-1 team.

When he was at the helm several years ago, Coach Mike Tice in a press conference told Viking fans to calm down and enjoy the season.   Where are you Coach Tice when we need you to calm the troops?

Viking fans would do well to heed the advice of the Tice and calm down and enjoy what unfolds during the year.

Below is a look at some of grumblings that I overheard this week about the Vikings and the merits of the complaints.

The team doesn’t have the killer instinct of a Super Bowl contender . . .

The Vikings opened the 2009 season against the Cleveland Browns and the Detroit Lions.  Last year, the Browns struggled to win 4 games last year and the Lions went the distance without a win.  Both teams hired new head coaches and both decided to start the season with quarterbacks who had little to no NFL experience.  It is difficult to imagine better sacrificial lambs for a team with Super Bowl aspirations.

However, instead of quickly dispatching the Browns and Lions, the Vikings fell behind both teams before waking up in time to put away both teams in the second half.

The doubters poured water over the excitement of the 49ers victory by pointing out that the key play was not Favre to Lewis with 2 seconds left.  No, they say the key play was when 49ers Dre Bly dropped the gift wrapped interception the play before that should have ended the game.

While, the Vikings have not “crushed” any of their first three opponents that does not mean that they don’t have the right killer instinct to make it to Miami. 

Last year’s Super Bowl Champions the Pittsburgh Steelers struggled to put away the Cleveland Browns in week 2 by a score of 10-6.  Yes, those Browns that managed only 4 wins last season.  The next week the Steelers lost to the Philadelphia Eagles 15-6 with their leading rusher Willie Parker getting only 20 yards on 13 carriers.

The 2008 Super Bowl Champions New York Giants started the season with losses to Dallas (45-35) and Green Bay (35-13).  The Giants even stumbled late in the season against the Tarvaris Jackson led Vikings 41-17 during week 11.

Super Bowl contending teams don’t crush every team that they play and they even have occasional bumps in the road.  Super Bowl contenders play more consistently throughout the year and make fewer mistakes than their opponents.

Are the Vikings Super Bowl bound?  Is there any team this year that is a lock to make it to Miami?  No.  The field is wide open to several teams.   We do know however that the Vikings have played more consistently.  The Vikings have made fewer mistakes as they are +4 on turnovers.  Minnesota is on the short list of contenders.   

Favre is ready to implode with a flurry of interceptions, he can’t lead the Vikings to the promise land . . .

While Favre is being paid handsomely at $12 million a year, the Vikings are not looking for him to win games for them by passing early and often.   Rather, the Vikings are calling upon Favre to make the right decisions on offense and to understand that he doesn’t have to win by the game by himself.  

Favre has accepted the challenge.  Favre has recognized blitzes and made the right read.   While not every pass has resulted in positive yardage the right play is being executed. 

Favre has not forced the action in the first three games.  He has even allowed himself to be sacked and he has thrown passes away as opposed to trying to thread the needle.   In three games, Favre has five touchdowns against only one interception.

Despite his early success, the Vikings faithful are wondering when Favre is going to abandon the recipe for success and stretch the defenses of opponents such that 300 yard games become commonplace.

No one should expect that Favre is going to pass for 300 yards every time he goes out.  Favre is clearly not the spry young gunslinger he was 10 years ago.  He is now the crafty veteran who is just as likely to beat you with his mind as he is to beat you with his strong arm.

Vikings fans should sit back and enjoy the last (or latest?) encore of Brett’s career.  He may no longer be a fantasy football league stud, but Favre can still play at a high level in the NFL.   Favre has a better quarterback rating than the young gunslingers Ben Roethlisberger, Tony Romo, Phillip Rivers and even league glamour boy Tom Brady. 

What Favre needs to continue to bring to the table for the Vikings is his leadership, enthusiasm and attitude.   One of the small things the coaching staff has impressed upon the players is the willingness to do some “work.” The Vikings staff is looking for players to do “work” beyond their initial assignment and go down field to try and throw another block.

The play of the game for Favre against the 49ers was not his throw to Lewis for the go ahead touchdown (or the near interception to Bly).  The play of the game was when Favre did some “work” by running down the field more than 30 yards from the line of scrimmage to throw a block for Bernard Berrian on All – Pro Linebacker Patrick Willis. 

The Vikings needed a leader this season on the offensive side of the ball.  Plays like the block for Berrian are infectious.  Everyone needs to do work regardless of what he has accomplished in the past.  The tone has been set by Favre.

Understanding that there is no need to force the action, skills that are still among the best and now you add the intangible of leadership . . . Favre might just be what the Vikings need to take them to the next level.

Special Teams continues to be their Achilles Heel . . .

The Vikings have already given up two touchdowns on special teams this year.  The ghost of Reggie Bush embarrassing the Vikings last year has begun to haunt the Viking fans.

The first touchdown surrendered by the Vikings was a 67 yard punt return to Cleveland’s Joshua Cribbs.  The second touchdown occurred in the closing minutes of the first half of last week’s game when Nate Clements of the 49ers scooped up a blocked field goal and returned it 59 yards.  

The play with Clements should not have happened.  However, kudos to San Francisco in that they understood that Rookie Offensive Tackle Phil Loadholt might be vulnerable.  Don’t worry; I am going to Loadholt in a minute.

While, the Special Teams have given up two big plays – the reality is that the play of special teams of the Vikings has improved.  Coverage teams are doing a better job of staying put in their lanes.

First, Cribbs is not your average punt returner.  Cribbs is considered by many to be one of the best return specialists in the AFC.   Cribbs represented the AFC in the pro bowl as a return specialist in 2008.

Second, the Vikings now have real threats to score on special teams.  Percy Harvin returned a kickoff 101 yards against the 49ers.  Harvin has a legitimate chance to make the Pro Bowl as a kick returner.  Darius Reynaud has also done very well returning punts and it is only a matter of time before he takes one the distance.

Third and most importantly, the Vikings have won the battle of field position as the special teams units on kicks/punts returned have gained more yardage than their opponents. 

The Browns averaged 23 yards on their kick returns and 22 yards on their punt returns; the Vikings averaged 33 yards and 27 yards.

The Lions averaged 16 yards on their kick returns and 7 yards on their punt returns; the Vikings averaged 3o yards and 13 yards.

The 49ers averaged 23 yards on their kick returns and only 6 yards on their punt returns; the Vikings averaged 45 yards and 11 yards. 

That’s right, Harvin is giving the Vikings at least 30 yards of field position when he touches the ball on kick-offs. 

The Special Teams play is still a work in progress but clearly things have improved from last year for the special teams unit.

The Offensive Line is not good enough . . .

Despite having the best running back in the game in Adrian Peterson, the Vikings running game has struggled the past two weeks.  The offensive line simply has not consistently created enough running lanes. Favre’s consecutive game starting streak is in jeopardy as he has been pummeled by defensive linemen the past three weeks. 

Center John Sullivan is getting battered as a piñata.  Why did we get rid of Matt Birk? Loadholt has already picked up bad habits from Left Tackle Bryant McKinnie in being too upright and slow on passing plays. 

Loadholt and Sullivan have also collected holding penalties at inopportune times.  Adding insult to injury, Loadholt picked up a holding penalty on play his man still managed to put Favre into the turf.

When you want to get to Favre in a hurry, you blitz over Loadholt and Sullivan. Offensive coordinator Darrel Bevel has tried to slow the rush of the defense by sprinkling in center screens and screens on the right side of the ball.  Unfortunately, the inexperience of Sullivan and Loadholt can’t be completely disguised. 

It is undeniable that the weakest links among all of the Viking starters are Loadholt and Sullivan.   I see these two players as the Vikings Achilles Heel.  Fortunately, it is a long season and the Viking faithful must hope that the play of Loadholt and Sullivan will improve by the end of the year.  

If the Vikings don’t make it to Miami it will be because the offensive line was taken to the proverbial woodshed for a good old-fashioned spanking.  Week 6 against Baltimore followed by Week 7 against Pittsburgh will be tough midterm exams for Loadholt and Sullivan.

The ride for the Vikings won’t always be smooth as there will likely losses along the way.  Does Favre have enough magic left? Will the Special Teams continue to improve upon what they have started this season?  Can Sullivan and Loadholt mature over the year such that they are no longer seen as the weakest link?

The Vikings clearly have enough talent to contend for Miami and make this year a memorable season for all of the right reasons.   

Viking fans . . . “Enjoy the Season.”

 

Read more Minnesota Vikings news on BleacherReport.com

Read More...

Expert NFL Sports Picks: Week Four Predictions

This weekend will mark the quarter mark of the season for many teams and it seems like it has gone by extremely fast. While we’re learning a lot about some teams, the truth is we still have a long way to go.

Many of the teams that look good now will not look so good at the end of the year, and vice versa. Therefore, don’t underestimate an underdog at this point. You never know when an underdog is just starting to gel and start winning.

What should we expect from the Free NFL Sports Picks this week?

 

Oakland vs. Houston (Houston -9.5)

As long as the Raiders have JaMarcus Russell at quarterback, don’t expect them to do much in the way of offense. While they looked decent in the first half of Week One, they haven’t looked good since. Although they seemed like a good running team, they haven’t even been able to run much with the terrible play of JaMarcus Russell under center.

The Texans are looking good on offense, but it remains to be seen whether they can stop anyone.

 

Tennessee vs. Jacksonville (Tennessee -3)

The AFC South is one of the hardest divisions to play in in the league. Every week, there is some “knock-down, drag-out” matchup that comes down to the wire. Last week, it was Jacksonville and Houston, and this week should be about the same with this game.

Will Maurice Jones-Drew be able to continue his magic against the Titans defense? Chris Johnson should have a big game against the Jacksonville defense.

 

New England vs. Baltimore (New England -2)

The Patriots put up a good game last week against the Falcons, winning easily. However, their opponent this weekend will not go down without a fight. Many believe that the Ravens are the best team in football, and this should be a great game.

Can Tom Brady start to get in-sync with his receivers again? Or will Ray Lewis and the Baltimore defense seize the day?

 

Cincinnati vs. Cleveland (Cincinnati -5.5)

Will the Cleveland offense ever be able to move the ball? This week “ Man-Genius” will try get things going by starting Derrick Anderson. Will Anderson actually make a difference?

For the Bengals, Carson Palmer looks like he’s back at full strength and should be able to move the ball against Cleveland. Look for this division rivalry to be a close game.

 

New York Giants vs. Kansas City (New York -8.5)

The Chiefs looked terrible last week against the Eagles. However, just because they looked bad, don’t count them out against the Giants. How many times have you seen a team look completely awful and then come out the next week and look like world-beaters? It happens all the time in the NFL.

This might be another blowout, but don’t rule out a close game at Arrowhead.

 

Detroit vs. Chicago (Chicago -10)

Detroit got its first win in the last two seasons last week. This week they get a much better Chicago team that has already knocked off Pittsburgh. Matt Forte should have a great game against the Detroit defense and get the ball in the end zone.

Will Matt Stafford be able to keep his offense moving against the Bears?

 

Tampa Bay vs. Washington (Washington -7)

This could be the least attractive game on the schedule this week. Both of these teams look terrible and they’re actually going to play each other this week. Anytime you’re an underdog to a team that just lost to the Lions last week, things are not looking good. That is the position that Tampa finds itself in this week after benching Leftwich.

 

New York Jets vs. New Orleans (New Orleans -7)

This could be the best game of the week as two unbeaten teams match up. The Jets look to keep things going behind rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez. On the other side of the field, the Saints have the best quarterback in the league in Drew Brees.

Will the Jets defense be able to slow down the vaunted Saints offense? Look for an entertaining game in this one.

 

Buffalo vs. Miami (Buffalo -2)

Miami looks like they’re out to prove that last year was a fluke as they have stumbled out of the gate to an 0-3 start. The Bills haven’t exactly been lighting the world on fire, but they’ve looked better than Miami so far. Last week, T.O. was held without a catch for the first time in 13 years and he probably won’t be happy about it this week.

Look for him to start a new streak this week.

 

St. Louis vs. San Francisco (San Francisco -9.5)

The Rams look like they might challenge last year’s Detroit team for the worst in the league. They lost their quarterback and haven’t looked very good at any point this season. The Niners, on the other hand, have looked good for all but the last play of their third game.

On paper, this doesn’t look like a very even matchup, but anything can happen.

 

Dallas vs. Denver (Dallas -3)

The Cowboys have looked like a juggernaut at times and awful at others. A lot of it depends on how Tony Romo is playing in each game. If he can keep from throwing picks, look out for the Cowboys. This should be a good test to see if Denver’s defense is for real or just a mirage of bad scheduling.

 

San Diego vs. Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh -6.5)

Pittsburgh comes into this game as the favorite even though they are 1-2 on the season. Usually the oddsmakers give you the benefit of the doubt when you just won the Super Bowl. This should be a pretty even game as the Chargers are a talented football team. Look for a game that goes right down to the wire here.

 

Green Bay vs. Minnesota (Minnesota -3.5)

This game is all about the Brett Favre saga, but it should actually be a pretty good game between two teams. This one will be talked about all week, leading up to the game.

 

Make sure you check out Vernon Croy’s Expert NFL Sports Picks for Week Four of the NFL season.

Read more Minnesota Vikings news on BleacherReport.com

Read More...