Hello again, all. I apologize for the super late post this week, I have been a bit busy. I had an exam on Thursday and started a new job later the same day, which I worked until 3AM Friday morning. My beautiful saint of a mother also had a surprise 60th birthday party thrown for her earlier tonight, so I was doing some things for that as well. It went swimmingly, if you're wondering.
So remember last week, when I predicted a Vikings win if our pass rush was good, we stopped Devin Hester and Matt Forte? Well, none of those things happened and we consequently got straight D-Bo'd by the Bears.
It hurt to watch. I knew after the bomb to Hester followed by a second dropped 3rd down conversion that the game was going to get ugly. Then McNabb just took a dive in the end zone, and oh the pain I do not want to relive, you Chunky soup guzzling skidmark of a quarterback. The only silver lining was a strip-sack-recovery by Jared Allen (who is still on pace to break the single-season sack record) and Donovan McNabb finally getting benched for Christian Ponder, who will start
tomorrow today against the Packers.
Ponder went 9-17 for 99 yards in his debut last week, while running for his life nearly every single play as the Bears suddenly got blitz-happy at the end of an already decided game. The man is quite mobile, which he will need to be as the Vikings will be without 2 of their starters tomorrow on an already putrid offensive line. He made his way through his progressions in a way that McNabb had not through 5.5 games. Sure, he will experience "growing pains" (which is just a stupid name for interceptions thrown by a rookie) against a team as good as the Packers, but I see it as better to throw this man into the fray and see what he can do than baby him. Some pundits talk about it being risky to start a rookie quarterback against such a tough squad, but that is a bunch of mularkey. We need to find out what we have as soon as possible, and if he can make plays against the world champs, we will know he can do it any other time.
I am especially afraid this game could also get ugly. Sadly, before the season started I actually predicted the Packers to repeat as champs. Blasphemy, I know, but they are the lone unbeaten team left in the league and are leading the NFL in scoring at 32 points a contest. Aaron Rodgers is surgically good and it's been obvious since the first game he ever played against us. The Pack went 6-10 that season, but those contests were close and I can still remember him making throws on the run that made me (rightfully) nervous for our future against him. My worry in this game is that our pass rush will again be stymied, either by Rodgers' ridiculously quick release or the Packers using the same techniques the Bears did last week and keeping 6-7 blockers in for pass protection. Our defensive backs got exposed last week and just to add insult to injury, Chris Cook got arrested last night and is being held without bail on felony domestic battery/strangulation charges. Odds are this guy is probably not going to be a Viking in 2012 if not sooner than that. What a shame, he was just looking comfortable on the field and I thought we had a solid future starter in him. Who knows what will become of him now. Just a waste of talent. The Vikings now have the most player arrests of any NFL team since 2000. So much for Minnesota nice.
(Chris Cook's favorite Chappelle Show skit)
The odds of the Vikings winning this game are only slightly better than Keith Nichol's odds of catching that Hail Mary tonight against Wisconsin. With a banged up offensive line, one of the biggest priorities needs to be keeping Christian Ponder healthy. He is the future of this franchise and the Packers are going to be coming hard early and often to try to disrupt his rhythm. Green and Yellow has a backup starting at LT, which is encouraging because JA continues to be a beast this season and has always taken advantage of overmatched players. If he can continually disrupt Aaron Rodgers, there is some hope. The Pack defense has not been nearly as good as they were last year, and if Ponder can move the offense it may be able to set up Adrian Peterson for a big day.
It would be the ultimate rube move to call this game a "trap game" for the Packers, as this is not college football and I do not believe the Packers are looking past a big rival in the Vikings. In fact, I believe the Packers are going to go all out in this game and really try to embarass us. You might recall that last year we fired a certain coach after getting blown out by the Packers at home. If things are not going our way, I am looking for Leslie Frazier and his staff to do a good job of keeping this game close and not let us embarass ourselves at home against our most hated rival. If things are going our way, the Packers will probably be playing very badly. Sorry for the negativity, but last week was a big reality check and I am not here to sell hope. The two weakest parts of our team got substantially weaker over this week, and that is weak. Aaron Rodgers should shred our defense with relative ease and our offense probably will not be able to keep up the pace. Clay Mathews probably will play catch-up on sacks since his numbers are low so far this season, I am expecting him to pick up at least 2. This sucks to have to write 10x more than it does to read, but I shall perservere. I'll be back on Monday or Tuesday to try and sift through the negatives and find some things we can build on. I'll leave you fools with a song that always puts me in a better mood. Thanks for reading.
Prediction: Packers 35, Vikings 13.