Mr. Hippe’s Weather Report

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 28, 2009 – 7:35 pm

An outdoor game during December in Chicago? That’s what we have tonight. And that means tonight’s weather report is the most important of the year for Mr. Hippe.

Mr. Hippe says air temperature is 12 degrees but that it feels like 0 degrees. Winds are out of the east and going northeast primarily and are gusting up to 18 mph.

It’s a cold one here in the Windy City.

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Footing Fine, Wind Howling

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 28, 2009 – 7:29 pm

The report I’ve gotten from P Chris Kluwe and K Ryan Longwell is that the footing on the playing surface inside Soldier Field is pretty solid tonight.

The wind, however, is another story.

It sounds as if the wind is coming from several different directions and, more than the temperature or the footing, the wind will affect the kicking game for both teams.

It’d be nice if the Vikings offense and defense made sure that tonight’s outcome doesn’t come down to a kick.

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Pat Williams Out; Other Inactives

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 28, 2009 – 5:55 pm

The Vikings will be without a big (literally and figuratively) piece of their defense for tonight’s game against the Bears at Soldier Field. DT Pat Williams is among the team’s inactive players and will miss his first game of the season with an elbow ailment.

The Vikings other inactive players are: QB Sage Rosenfels (emergency QB), WR Jaymar Johnson, DB Karl Paymah, TE Garrett Mills, LB J Leman, C Jon Cooper and DE Jayme Mitchell. Expect DTs Fred Evans and Jimmy Kennedy to see increased snaps tonight as they try to fill in for Williams.

The Bears inactive players are: S Al Afalava, WR Devin Hester, WR Juaquin Iglesias, G Lance Louis, OT James Marten, P Richmond McGee, S Kevin Payne,  DT Matt Toeaina.

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Vikings Arrive At Soldier Field

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 28, 2009 – 5:28 pm

The Vikings have arrived at Soldier Field and players are beginning to get warmed up for tonight’s chilly NFC North battle with the Chicago Bears.

I haven’t been on the playing surface yet but I’m anxious to head down and try to get a feel for the footing. I’m interested to hear what Vikings K Ryan Longwell has to say about the field conditions – he’s had plenty of experience kicking on this field.

Soldier Field is quite the spectacle, especially at night. The bright lights shine down on the field and the skyline of downtown Chicago is visible in the background. We’ll surely have a fun atmosphere for the game tonight.

We’ll be back with more updates before kickoff, including both teams’ inactive players and Mr. Hippe’s Weather Report.

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Heading To Stadium Soon; Injury Watch

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 28, 2009 – 3:14 pm

The first set of buses will be loading up soon to take us to Soldier Field for tonight’s Vikings-Bears game. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 CT and the game will be televised by ESPN. You can also join us on for a live chat. We’ll start the chat just a few minutes prior to kickoff.

It’s a unique experience to play on Monday Night Football, especially on the road. Since I’m not wrapped up in meetings all day as the players and coaches are, a Monday night game on the road allows for several hours of free time in the opposing team’s city. And when the opposing city is Chicago, a few hours of free time is nice.

It’s also different to watch the rest of the NFL begin to digest the games from the day before and begin the process of moving on to next week. We’re still wrapped up in Week 16 while everyone else has Week 17 on their mind.

As for the game tonight, injuries might play a factor before we even kick the ball off. The Vikings look to be in pretty good shape heading into the game. Just 4 players were on the injury report this week and 3 of them – Steve Hutchinson (back), Brian Robison (quadriceps) and Antoine Winfield (foot) – are probable. The 4th – DT Pat Williams (elbow) is questionable but to be honest, I’d be surprised if he can’t go for this one.

The Bears have a different injury situation, however, and it’ll be worth watching in the moments leading up to kickoff. When the practice week came to a close on Friday, a total of 13 players had at one point or another been on the report. Friday’s injury report contained 10 players, including DE Adewale Ogunleye.

Ogunleye has since been placed on injured reserve because of a broken leg and the Bears signed P Richmond McGee to take Ogunleye’s place on the roster. The reason for signing a punter is because the Bears starting punter, Brad Maynard, is one of those 13 players who was on this week’s injury report; he’s questionable with a left groin ailment (ouch).

DT Tommie Harris, OT Orlando Pace, RB Adrian Peterson and OT Chris Williams were all listed as probable on Friday’s injury report, so I expect they’ll all be able to go tonight. But S Kevin Payne was listed as doubtful and the following players were listed as questionable: DE Gaines Adams, S Al Afalava, WR Devin Hester and Maynard.

Some of those missing players represent significant pieces for the Bears. QB Jay Cutler would certainly like to have Hester available as he goes up against one of the stingiest rushing defenses in the NFL and with Ogunleye already out, the Bears defense could use Adams for depth in the rotation along the defensive line. Since Payne is doubtful, missing Afalava does nothing to help the Bears secondary against Brett Favre, Percy Harvin, Sidney Rice and Co.

Long story short, we’ll have a lot to look for once we get to about 6:00 p.m., which is when the Vikings and Bears are required by the NFL to submit their list of inactive players.

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Harvin Set To Factor In Tonight

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 28, 2009 – 12:55 pm

After missing the first game of his NFL career a couple of weeks ago against Cincinnati at home, Vikings rookie WR Percy Harvin returned to the lineup last week at Carolina.

Harvin’s production wasn’t on par with what we’ve been accustomed to this season, though, something that was likely a product of missing the previous game as well as limited practice time leading up to the Panthers game. He had 1 reception for 10 yards and 2 kickoff returns for 31 yards and generally looked off-rhythm and hesitant.

But this week during practice Harvin looked anything but off-rhythm and hesitant. He participated fully all week and looked full speed.

I was on the sideline watching practice on Friday and one particular play that Harvin made stands out to me and is in fact the reason I’m writing this post. On the play, Favre took a 5-step drop in the pocket and was looking to the right. He had Sidney Rice streaking down the right sideline in single coverage and it looked as if Favre had his sights set on lofting a deep pass to his lanky 6-4 receiver.

Favre rifled a laser to the right and I immediately thought this pass was going to be well short and Rice was going to have to come back for it. But that’s when Harvin came dashing across the middle of the field and fully extended his body to make the catch and turn upfield to finish the play by sprinting to the endzone.

I know the play happened in practice against the scout team – where there is no contact – but it was the type of play Harvin makes during games and it was great to see, especially after watching the offense falter with a not-quite-100%-Harvin in the lineup last week.

With the weather conditions as they are – cold and windy – Harvin’s value to the Vikings offense will only increase tonight. He’s dangerous with the ball in open space, and if the weather prevents the Vikings from executing a deep passing game, watch for Favre to find Harvin on short and intermediate routes to move the chains and light up the scoreboard.

A few notes on Harvin…

– He needs 201 combined yards to surpass RB Adrian Peterson’s record-setting 2,021 combined yards in 2007.
— With 3 receptions, Harvin can move into 2nd place in team history for the most receptions as a rookie. Harvin, who currently has 49 receptions, trails Paul Flatley and Sammy White, who both rank 2nd in Vikings annals with 51 receptions during their rookie seasons.

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Vikings-Bears Connections

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 28, 2009 – 11:15 am

I always get positive feedback from fans when we include these “connections” bits on the blog or in game-day publications.

So, while we’re waiting for the work day to conclude and kickoff to arrive, here are a few connections to read.

– Head Coach Brad Childress is from Aurora, IL, attended college at the University of Illinois and Eastern Illinois, and coached at the University of Illinois.

– Vikings assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier played CB for the Bears from 1981-
85 and was a starter on their 1985 Super Bowl team.

– Vikings special teams coordinator Brian Murphy is from Elmwood Park, IL.

– Vikings Vice President of Player Personnel Rick Spielman served as the Bears director of pro personnel from 1997-99.

– Vikings Director of Player Personnel George Paton began his NFL career in the college and pro scouting departments of the Bears.

– Vikings LB coach Fred Pagac spent the 1974 season with the Bears as a rookie TE and won the prestigious Brian Piccolo Award.

– Vikings DL coach Karl Dunbar spent the 2004 season with the Bears in the same role.

– WR Bernard Berrian was a 3rd-round pick of the Bears in 2004 and played with the team from 2004-07.

– DB Karl Paymah and Bears QB Jay Cutler played together in Denver from 2006-2008.

– WR Greg Lewis is from Matteson, IL and attended the University of Illinois, where his head coach was Bears offensive coordinator Ron Turner.

– DT Fred Evans is from Chicago and attended Morgan Park High.

– Bears RB Kahlil Bell was recruited to UCLA and coached by Vikings RB coach Eric Bieniemy. Bell was then signed by the Vikings as an undrafted free agent by the Vikings and spent t he 2009 training camp in Mankato, MN with the Vikings.

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Cold And Wind Expected At Kickoff

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 28, 2009 – 10:02 am

One of the games that jumped out immediately at me when glancing at the Vikings schedule for the first time back in April was a late-December game against the Bears in Chicago at night.

That was sure to be a bitter-cold experience, I thought.

And it will be. The temperature is actually pretty moderate right now at 30 degrees. But it’s not getting any warmer as kickoff nears.

On top of that, the wind is a-howlin’ here in the Windy City – gusts are up to 21 mph right now.

According to, the game-time temperature will be 23 degrees with an 18 mph wind that will make it feel like it’s 9 degrees. Precipitation is not expected.

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Monday Night Success

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 28, 2009 – 8:35 am

The Vikings struggles recently playing in games that are nationally televised at night and on grass fields has been well-chronicled. And although tonight’s game against the Bears is being nationally televised and will be played at night and on a grass field, there are actually some trending angles that are positive for the Vikings.

The Vikings last 2 losses at night and on grass fields came on Sunday Night Football. Tonight’s game is of course on ESPN’s Monday Night Football, a spot where the Vikings have found some recent success.

Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress’ first game with the club came on Monday Night Football at the Washington Redskins – a game the Vikings won 16-13. In Childress’ tenure with the club, the Vikings have won 4 of 6 games on MNF, including a 30-23 win over the Green Bay Packers earlier this year.

Childress and the Vikings topped the Bears on MNF by a score of 20-13 back in December of 2007.

In the club’s history, Minnesota is 26-24 all-time on MNF. Four Vikings RBs have run for 100 yards in a Monday Night game and 4 different Vikings QBs have thrown for 300+ yards. Also, theVikings have returned 2 punts for TDs, a kickoff return for a TD, and a blocked FG for a TD on Monday Night.

Here are a few impressive individual performances on MNF by active Vikings:

Sacks: DE Jared Allen, 4.5 – vs. Green Bay (October of 2009)
Tackles: CB Antoine Winfield, 16 – at Indianapolis (November of 2004)
Long FG: Ryan Longwell, 53 yards – at New Orleans (October of 2008)

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Vikings Play Tonight, Blog Going All Day

Posted by Mike Wobschall on December 28, 2009 – 8:03 am

Normally Monday’s mean a full and active day for the Blog as we review and digest the previous Sunday’s game.

But of course the Vikings didn’t play yesterday because they play tonight at the Chicago Bears.

So while you’re waiting for the work day to end and the Vikings-Bears game to begin, the Blog will keep you occupied. Keep checking back here today for constant updates and blog entries.

We’ll be continuously posting relevant information to keep you primed for tonight’s pivotal late-season contest as the Vikings try to keep their hold on the NFC’s #2 seed and keep chasing the New Orleans Saints – who lost yesterday – for the NFC’s #1 seed.

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