Mr. Hippe’s Weather Report

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 6, 2009 – 7:20 pm

After a bye week and then 3 straight games at Mall of America Field, Mr. Hippe’s Weather report has been absent from the Blog.

But it’s back tonight.

Mr. Hippe says it’s 53 and partly cloudy outside University of Phoenix Stadium, but it’s warmer inside because the retractable roof is closed for the game. So inside the stadium it’s a comfortable 68 degree.

Almost game time.

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Vikings Secondary Will Be Tested Tonight

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 6, 2009 – 6:18 pm

All of the speculation can now go away – both the Vikings and Cardinals have submitted their list of inactive players. After all the dust settled, Cardinals QB Kurt Warner was active and will start tonight while the Vikings will once again be without CB Antoine Winfield.

As a result, the Vikings secondary will be further challenged tonight as they face an explosive offense that features an accurate and experienced QB (Warner) and a talented bunch of receivers, including Minnesota native Larry Fitzgerald, Jr. and Anquan Boldin.

With Winfield out of the game and given the Cardinals propensity to spread out their offense, the Vikings secondary depth will be tested tonight. Fortunately CB Benny Sapp, who was listed on the injury report this week, will be able to play. He’ll team with CBs Asher Allen and Karl Paymah to fill in for Winfield, something this trio of players has done well since Winfield has been out of the lineup.

But I also expect to see more of S Husain Abdullah. He is listed as a safety but Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress has mentioned in the past that he trains at CB as well. If the Cardinals go to a lot of multiple-receiver sets, Abdullah could be tabbed to join some combination of CBs Cedric Griffin, Allen, Paymah and Sapp along with safeties Tyrell Johnson and Madieu Williams.

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Tonight’s Inactives vs. Arizona

Posted by Ryan Cardinal on December 6, 2009 – 6:05 pm

Here are the Vikings inactives for tonight’s game against the Cardinals:

QB Sage Rosenfels, WR Jaymar Johnson, CB Antoine Winfield, RB Albert Young, LB Erin Henderson, G Anthony Herrera, DT Fred Evans, and DE Jayme Mitchell.

Also, QB Kurt Warner will start for the Cardinals.

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Marshall: Favre A Great Leader

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 6, 2009 – 5:59 pm

As we mentioned earlier here on the Blog, legendary DE Jim Marshall has traveled with the team to tonight’s game against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium.

The significance is that tonight QB Brett Favre will play in his 283rd consecutive game, breaking the record that is held by Marshall and was set some 30 years ago.

Marshall said that prior to the team departing Minneapolis for Arizona yesterday, he got a chance to visit with Favre at the team facility and he also had a conversation with Favre tonight at the stadium.

“I got a feel for how he felt about being here and got a chance to see some of his leadership qualities,” Marshall told reporters prior to tonight’s game. “He’s a great leader and I admire him so much.”

Marshall also talked about how the game has changed since he played and also pointed out that Favre’s new record is impressive given the size and strength of today’s defensive linemen.

Asked if he thinks Favre’s new record will be broken, Marshall said no one can see into the future but that he hopes Favre sets the mark high enough that it won’t be broken for another 30 years.”

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Harvin Set Up For Big Game?

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 6, 2009 – 2:55 pm

The Arizona Cardinals don’t stack up well on defense in terms of statistical rankings. But they have talented individual players and they also play well on defense in 2 significant areas – 3rd down situations and red zone situations.

The Cardinals rank 3rd in the NFL in 3rd down conversion percentage and they’re tied for 9th in the league in terms of opponents TD% in the red zone.

But the Vikings might have a special weapon to use against Arizona in these scenarios – rookie WR Percy Harvin.

Harvin has been a productive receiver for the Vikings this season – he’s 2nd on the team in receptions, receiving yards and receiving TDs. Just as important as his production, however, has been the timing of his production.

Harvin has 11 rushes on the season for 91 yards; 5 of those 11 rushes have resulted in 1st downs. Of his 42 receptions, 32 of them have resulted in 1st downs and 19 of his 32 1st-down receptions have come on either 3rd down or 4th down.

So, when the Vikings are in a pinch of 3rd or 4th down, or when they’ve entered the red zone, watch for QB Brett Favre to target #12.

*Note: Harvin needs 395 combined yards to surpass RB Adrian Peterson’s record-setting 2,021 combined yards in 2007. Harvin is currently in 2nd place in Vikings history for combined yards (rushing, receiving, kick returns, punt returns) as a rookie with 1,617.

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Marshall On-Hand To See Favre Establish New Record

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 6, 2009 – 1:56 pm

When QB Brett Favre trots onto the field to lead the Vikings on their 1st offensive possession tonight, he’ll break yet another NFL record.

Favre will play in his 283rd consecutive game, moving into sole possession of the most consecutive games played by a position player in NFL history. He is currently tied with Jim Marshall at 282.

Interestingly enough, Marshall made the trip to Arizona with the team this weekend, so he’ll see Favre break his record in person.

I’m sure the NBC cameras will be all over Marshall early in the game as he watches Favre take the field. Hopefully we can catch up to one of the former Purple People Eaters and get some reaction from him. If we do, we’ll have it right here on the Blog.

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Rice Close To Career Milestone

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 6, 2009 – 12:55 pm

Vikings WR Sidney Rice is having a breakout season in 2009. He currently leads the team in receptions (56), receiving yards (964) and average yards per reception (17.2). He’s also ranked 3rd in the NFL and 1st in the NFC in receiving yards.

Through 11 games, Rice is averaging 87.6 receiving yards per game. And if he has an average game tonight against the Arizona Cardinals, Rice will surpass a milestone for the 1st time in his career. He needs just 36 receiving yards to reach 1,000 yards for the season.

Rice is on pace to have the best season for a Vikings WR since 2004, when Nate Burleson totaled 68 receptions for 1,006 yards and 9 TDs. At his current pace, Rice will record 81 receptions for 1,402 yards and 6 TDs, numbers that fulfill the potential he displayed as a 21-year old rookie back in 2007.

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Going Gets Tougher In December

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 6, 2009 – 11:46 am

The Vikings used a 3-game home stand coming out of their Week 9 bye to fatten up their record to 10-1 and increase their NFC North division lead to 3 full games. During that home stand, the Vikings outscored opponents 98-29, including an incredible 62-3 margin in the 2nd quarter.

To further illustrate the Vikings dominance over the past 3 games, consider these numbers:

Opponent                Vikings
22:10        TOP        27:50
9.67          PPG        32.67
226           YPG        487

Now, however, the going will get tougher. The Vikings have a challenging stretch of games in December, including consecutive contests against division winners (Arizona and Cincinnati), 3 prime time games in the next 4 weeks (all on the road) and another game in Week 17 against the NY Giants that could also be played in prime time.

It all begins with tonight’s game against the Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. This will be the Vikings biggest challenge since their Week 8 game at Lambeau Field.

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Vikings 11-Game Comparison Vs. 2008

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 6, 2009 – 9:54 am

It was right around this time last year – December 14 actually – that the Vikings traveled to Arizona for a late-season NFC clash against the Cardinals in the desert.

So as we sit around downtown Phoenix in our hotel and wait for the buses to depart and take us to Glendale, now seems like an appropriate time to compare the 2009 Vikings to the 2008 Vikings through the season’s first 11 games.

Last season on the morning of their Week 13 game, the Vikings were 6-5 and in the middle of a 3-team battle for the NFC North division title. Gus Frerotte was the starting QB, E.J. Henderson was out for the season, Percy Harvin was a Florida Gator and Brett Favre was in the AFC.

Things are a bit different in 2009. Favre is having an MVP-caliber season, the Vikings defense is hitting its stride, Harvin is making a case for rookie of the year honors and the Vikings have run away with the division title.

Here are a few more statistical comparisons between the 2008 Vikings and the 2009 Vikings with 11 games in the books…

– The Vikings have 40 more 1st downs this year than they had at the 11-game mark in 2008.
– Minnesota has scored 15 more TDs after 11 games in 2009 compared to 2008 and has given up 4 fewer on defense.
– The Vikings have passed for 851 more yards after 11 games in 2009 compared to this point in 2008.
– The Vikings have gained 755 more total yards of offense than they had at this point last season.
– At this time last year, the Vikings ranked 23rd in the NFL in 3rd-down conversions. Currently the team ranks 2nd in 2009.

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