Sunday, December 09, 2012

With Must Win Looming for Vikings, Only A Few Outcomes Would Surprise

Despite ineffective play by quarterback Christian Ponder, a season-ending "injury" to Percy Harvin, suspect red-zone playcalling and execution, and losses in four of their past five games, the Minnesota Vikings still have an opportunity to make the playoffs this season.  Playoffs?  Playoffs?!  Are you kidding me--playoffs?!

Kidding, I am not.  Probable, it may not be, however.

At 6-6, the Vikings likely need to win out to make the playoffs.  And they probably still will not control their destiny.  But in the world of cliches where everyone takes one football game at a time and doesn't look too far down the road to the next football game, the Vikings need to go with the hot hand and play within themselves the rest of the way to give themselves the best chance to win their football games.


The Vikings know the formula for beating the Bears because the Bears are who we think they are--but worse, as they will be without middle linebacker Brian Urlacher and starting cornerback Tim Jennings. A good running game, some timely passing, and reasonable defense is good enough to beat the Bears, barring a rash of turnovers.

Two weeks ago, against a healthier version of the Bears, Adrian Peterson ran for 108 yards on 18 carries.  This, despite the Vikings digging themselves an early deficit.  At home, the Vikings need to establish the run and create enough of a comfort zone for Ponder to permit him to make a few plays.  And a few plays from Ponder should suffice against a one-headed Bears' attack that ought to be quieter without two of its top defenders.

Of course, anything could happen in this game--or almost anything.  It would not be surprising to see Peterson post a new NFL rushing record, it would not be surprising to see Ponder have some success hooking up with Kyle Rudolph against Urlacher's replacement, it would not be surprising to see the Vikings win, and it would not be surprising were the Vikings to lose.  In fact, the only things that would be surprising today would be Christian Ponder throwing for 400 yards and four touchdowns, or 300 yards and three touchdowns--or Leslie Frazier inserting Joe Webb into the lineup at any point.

For the Vikings, the best recipe for keeping playoff hope alive rests with getting Peterson 25-30 carries, holding onto the ball, and making use of the tight end.  That's as simple as it gets in the NFL.

Up Next:  Posturing or Acknowledgement?  Plus, who will go first--Ponder, Frazier, or Harvin?

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