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Vikings List 4 On Injury Report

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 23, 2009 – 3:27 pm

After listing 12 players with injuries last week, the Vikings have just 4 players on this week’s initial injury report.

All 4 players were limited participants.

The players are G Steve Hutchinson (back), DE Brian Robison (quadriceps), DT Pat Williams (elbow) and CB Antoine Winfield (foot).

The Bears had a longer report and listed 9 players, including DE Adewale Ogunleye (leg). Ogunleye has already been ruled out.

S Al Afalava (knee), LB Lance Briggs (back), TE Desmond Clark (illness), S Kevin Payne and T Chris Williams (ankle) did not participate in practice on Wednesday. DT Tommie Harris (knee), WR Devin Hester (calf) and T Orlando Pace (groin) were all listed as limited participants.


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Vote For Ian Johnson and Vinny Perretta

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 23, 2009 – 3:12 pm

Remember the 2007 Fiesta Bowl between the Oklahoma Sooners and Boise State Broncos? It was one of the most memorable bowl games in college football history, featuring several current NFL players, several sensational individual performances and lots of good ‘ol fashioned offensive trickery.

ESPN.com is conducting a poll on their “Page 2″ section and is asking fans to vote for the most engaging video of the decade. There are 10 videos listed, among them being Allen Iverson’s rant on practice, a Randy Johnson fastball plucking a passing-by bird out of thin air and of course the highlight package from the Boise State-Oklahoma game, including the part where now-Vikings RB Ian Johnson proposed to his girlfriend.

You can view each of the 10 videos and vote for your favorite by clicking here.


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Can’t Count On Cutler

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 23, 2009 – 10:11 am

One of Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress’ standard lines is that he wants his players to “make the routine plays routinely,” meaning he’s concerned more with consistency of performance as much as the actual standard of performance.

When the Chicago Bears paid a heavy price to acquire QB Jay Cutler this past offseason, the expected standard performance from the Bears QB position and entire offense went sky-high. But the consistency factor hasn’t matched those expectations.

In Cutler’s 1st regular season game as a Bear, he threw 4 INTs in a 21-15 loss at Green Bay. But the QB with a powerful arm followed up that letdown performance with 3 straight games of 100+ passer ratings, which led to 3 straight wins. Since then, however, he hasn’t gotten back in the 100s in terms of passer rating, coming close just twice, and he leads the NFL in INTs with 25.

The point is Chicago hasn’t been able to count on Cutler – he’s been great at times and not great at times.

But given Cutler’s volatility, the Vikings shouldn’t be counting on Cutler either. That is to say, they shouldn’t count on him having a bad game, not when he’s got redemption on his mind and not when he’s playing at home.

Cutler has thrown just 5 of his 25 INTs at home and he’s thrown 11 of his 19 TD passes at Soldier Field. He also won his first 3 games at home and if he can find that early-season, home-game form, the Bears will have a chance to attack the Vikings pass defense, which is ranked 16th in passing yards allowed and has given up 22 passing TDs.

The Vikings had their way with Cutler at Mall of America Field about a month ago, sacking him 4 times and intercepting him twice. A repeat of that performance will put the Vikings in great position to capture their 12th win and come one step closer to securing the NFC’s #2 seed.


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More Angles For Bounce Back Vs. Bears

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 23, 2009 – 9:09 am

Are you tired of reading the term bounce back as it relates to the Vikings-Bears game this weekend? You might be, but this is the last blog entry we’ll dedicate to the term.

Here are some more angles that point to the Vikings being able to bounce back on Monday night with a win over the Chicago Bears…

– The Vikings are in a big spot, and so is WR Bernard Berrian. He’ll be going up against his former team for the 4th time since signing with the Vikings as a free agent a couple of offseasons back. In this season’s earlier matchup, Berrian was 1 of 4 Vikings receivers with 6 receptions, and he had 74 receiving yards to boot. In 2008 against his former team, Berrian was a key contributor in both games, hauling in 10 catches for 203 yards and 2 TDs, including a 99-yard TD reception at home in Week 13 that broke the Bears back.

– Adrian Peterson is another offensive player with a nice history going against the Bears. In 5 career games versus the division rival, Peterson has averaged 127.8 yards per game and he has 9 TDs. His best performance was during his rookie season at Soldier Field, when he torched the Chicago defense for a then-franchise record 224 yards. He also tied a team mark with 3 TDs in that game and set a new franchise record for total yards with 361. Peterson’s 53-yard kickoff return late in the 4th quarter is what set up K Ryan Longwell’s game-winning 55-yarder.

– We mentioned in an earlier post today that we should expect the Vikings to get back to the basics and run the ball this week, just as they did 2 weeks ago when they hosted and destroyed the Cincinnati Bengals. These games aren’t played on paper, we know that, but on paper the Vikings realize a couple of key advantages that will help them get back to the basics of running the football and, as a result, scoring lots of points. Chicago has the NFL’s 25th-ranked rushing defense, yielding 128.5 yards per game, and they have the league’s 21st-ranked scoring defense, allowing 23.0 points per game. In contrast, the Vikings have Peterson and an offense that averages 28.3 points per game, 3rd-best in the NFL.

– We’ve been hearing all these pesky stats about the Vikings playing on grass and at night and on national TV and all of that. The fact is, the Vikings are a disappointing 2-3 in games played on grass fields. But Chicago isn’t exactly the NFL’s gift to grass fields. They are just 4-5 on grass fields this season.


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Bounce Back – Vikings Have Been There, Done That

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 23, 2009 – 8:13 am

Coming off a loss and needing a win in a big spot – this is nothing new for the Vikings and this is nothing this Vikings team hasn’t done already.

Yes, the Vikings sit at 11-3 and have already won the NFC North. But after 2 ugly losses in their past 3 games, the squeeze is on as the Vikings try to maintain their hold on the NFC’s #2 seed against a hard-charging Philadelphia Eagles team.

In order to hold off the Eagles and secure a bye in the 1st round of the playoffs, the first order of business for the Vikings is to win this week in a big spot – at division rival Chicago on Monday Night Football.

Trends are working against the Vikings right now. They’ve lost 2 consecutive games on the grass and in prime time – at Arizona in Week 13 and at Carolina in 15. But while those trends must not be ignored, there’s another trend that works in the Vikings favor that is just as relevant.

The Vikings have been great in bounce back games over the past 2 seasons. In fact, the last time the Vikings lost 2 consecutive games was back in Weeks 1 and 2 of the 2008 season. After dropping season-opening contests at Green Bay and then at home to Indianapolis in 2008, the Vikings bounced back in Week 3 to defeat the Carolina Panthers, a team that eventually went on to win 12 games.

And after each of their first 2 losses this year, the Vikings have bounced back in resounding fashion the following weeks – in big games. Consider…

– Loss #1 for the Vikings came in Week 7 at Pittsburgh. The following week, QB Brett Favre and Co. marched into Lambeau Field in front of a huge national audience and defeated the Green Bay Packers 38-26.
— Loss #2 came at Arizona in Week 13. The following week, the Vikings headed back home and hosted the Cincinnati Bengals, who at the time had the AFC’s 2nd best record. Everyone said it was gut-check time for the Vikings. Well, the Vikings guts checked out well as they dominated the Bengals and won by a 30-10 count.

Now after their 3rd loss, an ugly 26-7 affair at Carolina, the Vikings find themselves in another big spot and in another bounce back game in need of a win.

Been there, done that.


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Setting The Table For Chicago

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 23, 2009 – 7:06 am

The Vikings and Bears will get together on Monday night in Chicago to close out Week 16 of NFL action and also close out their season series. In their earlier matchup at Mall of America Field, the Vikings pounded Chicago 36-10 behind a 392-yard, 3-TD performance from QB Brett Favre and dominant defensive performance that included 4.0 sacks and 2 INTs of Jay Cutler.

But past performances do not guarantee future results, so the Vikings have a crucial task at hand this weekend as they head to Soldier Field to face a division rival that, although out of playoff contention, would love nothing more than to play spoiler as the Vikings try to hold onto the NFC’s #2 seed.

All was well back in the Vikings Week 12 victory over Chicago, but since that day the Vikings have dropped 2 of their last 3 games and the losses have been ugly – a 30-17 thrashing in Arizona in Week 13 and then last Sunday night’s abysmal 26-7 loss. A win is what the doctor ordered to right the Vikings ship and head into the playoffs ascending rather than descending.

Wins have been hard to come by for the Vikings at Soldier Field of late. Chicago has defeated the Vikings in 7 of the last 8 meetings in the Windy City. In order for the Vikings to buck that trend, expect them to go back to the basics just as they did against the Cincinnati Bengals a couple weeks back. In that game, the Vikings totaled 37 rushes against 30 pass attempts, which led to 322 net yards of offense and a 30-10 pasting of one of the AFC’s best teams.

Another reason to expect the Vikings to run the ball quite a bit is because of Adrian Peterson’s history versus Chicago. In 5 career games against the Bears, Peterson has averaged 127.8 yards per contest and has scored 9 TDs. He’s been especially solid at Soldier Field, where he set a then-franchise single-game rushing record with 224 yards, tied a team record with 3 TDs and established a new team record with 361 combined yards during his rookie season.

On top of all that, the Bears currently rank 25th in the NFL at stopping the run, yielding 128.5 yards per game, and they’re without several key links on the defense – DE Adewale Ogunleye and LBs Brian Urlacher and Pisa Tinoisamoa.

But the Bears won’t go down gently. They’ve won more than they’ve lost at home and they have offensive pieces that play better at home than they do on the road – and when those offensive pieces play well, the Bears can be better than their opponent. QB Jay Cutler has been inconsistent this season but also has displayed the ability to win games and RB Matt Forte is a dual threat coming out of the backfield as both a runner and receiver.

In the end, though, this is a game the Vikings must have and it’s a game where they hold several key advantages, even beyond the prospects of running the ball against the Bears defense. Beyond that advantage, the Vikings will be facing a team that surrenders 23.0 points per game, can’t score in the red zone (42.9% TD rate – 29th) or stop their opponent from scoring in the red zone (64.6% TD rate allowed – 31st) and can’t convert on 3rd down (36.7% – 20th) or stop their opponent from converting on 3rd down (41.9% – 28th).

The Vikings and Bears will meet this week on Monday Night Football, something they’ve done 11 times in their history together, and a win in prime time this time is what the Vikings need to get back on a roll as the most important part of the season come around – playoff time.


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