Minnesota Vikings 2010-2011 Season Preview

A Look Back – When the infamous #4 stepped into the locker room in Minneapolis, everything changed. QB Brett Favre was now the signal caller for the Minnesota Vikings after years of terrorizing the franchise with the Green Bay Packers. Favre put together the year of his career, as he was a legitimate MVP candidate after throwing for 4,202 yards and 33 TDs against a career best seven INTs. However, the season was cut a tad bit short in the NFC Championship Game, as Favre was picked off on his final throw of the season (and possibly his career), which set up the New Orleans Saints to kick the game winning field goal and put the team in the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history.

Key Addition – RB Toby Gerhart – Save perhaps Clemson’s CJ Spiller, Gerhart might have been the best running back prospect in the entire draft. We are going to sort of foreshadow the biggest loss that we feel this team incurred in the offseason by saying that RB Adrian Peterson was in need of some depth to help him out toting the rock, especially if the Minnesota Vikings don’t get Favre back. Gerhart is the perfect fit in the perfect system, as he will be able to carry the ball 8-10 times per game and bowl over defenders when he does so.

Minnesota Vikings NFL Cheerleader

Key Loss – RB Chester Taylor – It’s not just that Taylor left the Vikes, but it’s that he went to the Chicago Bears. Peterson’s personal backup plan rushed for 338 yards on 94 very important carries to spell “Purple Jesus” last season. Taylor could put up fantastic numbers now that he could be a featured back in the Windy City. Obviously if Favre doesn’t come back though, he is the biggest loss that this team could possibly suffer.

2010 Will Be a Success if… – Favre comes back and keeps his head on straight. If not, we have no confidence that either QB Sage Rosenfels or QB Tarvaris Jackson has the ability to lead this team to wins on a regular basis. Favre not only has to play, but take care of the football as well for Minnesota to repeat as NFC North champs.

The Crucial Game – The opening game of the season in New Orleans is going to be critical regardless of who is under center. Minnesota has to prove that it isn’t going to be pushed around by the Saints again this year. Aside from that, this match, the first of the NFL betting campaign for any team, may be for home field advantage in the playoffs in the NFC.

Predictions – Even if the Vikings do get Favre back, we have a feeling that the Packers have improved too much to be caught. Still, #4 is going to be the difference between making the playoffs and missing it in a conference that is incredibly wide open. We like the offensive weapons on this team, as WRs Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin are both great complements to Peterson, but without a competent quarterback, the engine won’t run smoothly.

2010 Minnesota Vikings Regular Season Schedule

9/9 @ NO (-4)
9/19 vs. MIA
9/26 vs. DET
Bye
10/11 @ NYJ
10/17 vs. DAL
10/24 @ GB
10/31 @ NE
11/7 vs. ARZ
11/14 @ CHI
11/21 vs. GB
11/28 @ WAS
12/5 vs. BUF
12/12 vs. NYG
12/20 vs. CHI
12/26 @ PHI
1/2 @ DET

 

Brett Favre underwent surgery to repair his left ankle. The surgery was minor and he could have gone without it, but it was necessary to continue his NFL career and points to a return to the Minnesota Vikings for one more season.

The 40-year old Favre is now a grandfather and is one of the best quarterbacks never to have won a Super Bowl.

The Vikings are now co-favorites with the Indianapolis Colts in odds to win the Super Bowl at +800 reflecting the likely-hood that Favre plays.

 

Everyone in Minnesota was panicking earlier today when ESPN reported that Brett Favre needed ankle surgery to play again. Everyone can relax now as Favre put a statement up on his site downplaying the severity of the injury, calling it “a relatively minor procedure could be done to improve the dexterity of the ankle, and to relieve the pain.”

Hidden in Favre’s statements might actually be some good news for Minnesota Vikings fans. Favre says that the injury isn’t going to affect his decision to retire or return for another season, ” I didn’t want anyone to assume that the possibility of surgery was the sole factor that would determine whether I return or not.” He goes on to talk about “wonderful experience that I had last year with the Vikings.” (more…)

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The NFL draft is rapidly approaching and which means it is time for NFL draft props. Draft props are a great way of putting your mock-draft abilities to the test.

The over/under on Defensive Tackles taken in Round 1 is 4.5 with the over paying +160 and the under just -180.

Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy will almost certainly be gone in the top five, but the question is are there three more players talented enough to be worth a first-round picks and are there three teams who need Defensive Tackles badly enough to burn a first round selection on one of the remaining candidates.

Dan Williams of Tennesse will almost certainly go in the first round giving a third defensive tackle.

Jared Odrick, Brian Price and Terrence Cody are the three remaining DT’s who are considered possible first-round material and you will need two of three to go in the first round to cover the over.

Odrick was arrested in March, so some teams might shy away from him, but he seems like a safe, but not exceptional pick.

Price declared one year early and has some upside in a 4-3 system, but he only has one really good year to his credit, so it is hard to say if he will be able to consistently perform at a high level.

Cody is intriguing because he has been working hard in the off-season to trim off some of his massive bulk and teams will like that commitment.

Possible destinations include the Cincinnati Bengals, the New England Patriots, the Baltimore Ravens, the New York Jets, the Minnesota Vikings and the New Orleans Saints.

My guess is the Cincinnati uses Tank Johnson to let them gamble on developing a DT with a lower pick, the Pats pass on DT and choose to address other needs first, Odrick goes to the Ravens.

That leaves one of Price and Cody to go to New York, Minnesota or New Orleans in order to cover and I don’t see either of them being good enough to cause those teams to ignore other needs.

The under looks like the play here, but at -180 it might not be worthwhile.

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Today’s denial by St Louis Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo that they are pursuing Donovan McNabb shouldn’t do a thing to stop speculation that he’s leaving. After all, until he actually gets McNabb, the only smart thing to do is deny any rumors.

Philadelphia Eagles NFL CheerleadersPhiladelphia Eagles NFL Cheerleaders” width=”300″ height=”192″ class=”alignright size-medium wp-image-223″ />

If he gets McNabb, then great. But if he fails, then he’s just destroyed his relationship with his current QBs while getting nothing back.

McNabb’s been rumored to be heading to St Louis, Minnesota, Arizona, San Francisco, Buffalo, Washington and probably everywhere else but I can’t be bothered to keep researching.

St Louis seems to be the front-runner based on how often their name is mentioned in relation to McNabb, but I can’t see McNabb signing an extension there.

I think Minnesota is probably the best fit for both player and team although if Arizona can replace Boldin and Urban they’d also be a good fit.

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Hartley Proves His Worth

Before the Super Bowl I was saying that the Colts had the kicking advantage, but that Hartley looked like he could become a great kicker with another great playoff performance.

He already had a 40 yard field goal in overtime versus the Minnesota Vikings.

We have seen so many times in these playoffs that there are plenty of good kickers who can play well all season but fail utterly under pressure. But there are only an elite few who can maintain that consistency through the playoffs.

The Colts have two kickers like that, Matt Stover and Adam Vinatieri.

And now the Saints have one in Garrett Hartley.

Hartley was a perfect 3/3 on field goals hitting from 44, 46 and 47 yards.

He won’t get the credit and attention that Drew Brees and Tracy Porter get. But put Hartley on another team, say the San Diego Chargers, and it’s a completely different post-season.

There aren’t many kickers who can deal with the NFL playoffs pressure, but the Saints have one who can in Hartley.

Despite winning the Super Bowl, the Saints are just +900 in 2011 Super Bowl odds while the Colts are favored at +700.

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Brett Favre Playoff Disappointment

Brett Favre Playoff Disappointment

Brett Favre definitely made a big mistake on the Vikings last offensive possession of the game when he threw a low percentage pass that was intercepted, but you can’t blame the Vikings loss solely on Favre.

New Orleans Defense Deserves Credit

Instead of focusing on how Favre mucked up, focus on how New Orleans put him in a position to muck up.

Part of the New Orleans defensive game plan was to make the game rough on Favre. Favre took a number of hits, injured his foot and by the last play it affected his game.

Would Favre have run the ball had he not been injured? We don’t know, but it certainly would have seemed like a more attractive option if he wasn’t already hobbled.

Would Favre have run the ball if he hadn’t already taken a bunch of big hits? We don’t know that either, but all of that punishment has to start weighing on you.

The Saints forced Favre to make that mistake. They deserve credit.

The blame should fall on Favre for not getting the ball away faster, the protection for not giving Favre enough time, the receivers for taking too long to get open and the offensive play callers who didn’t call plays that gave Favre quicker options not just on the Vikings last offensive play of the game, but throughout the entire game.

Favre Wasn’t the Only Viking to Make Game-Changing Mistakes

Favre made his mistake at the most critical time. All of the pressure was on, last chance, game on the line…

But Minnesota made plenty of mistakes that would have won them the game had they corrected just one of them.

Percy Harvin’s fourth-quarter fumble deep in Vikings territory is the big one we’d be talking about if Favre hadn’t over-shadowed it later, but there were a lot of turnovers, missed tackles and other mistakes that cost the Vikings the game.

It’s a sixty minute game and there are a lot of reasons a team loses. It’s a little ridiculous to focus on just one mistake when there are so many to chose from.

New Orleans Saints NFC Championship Cheerleader
The number-one scoring offenses duels with the number-two scoring offense as the New Orleans Saints play host to the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC championship match on Sunday, January 24, 2010.

The Saints (-190) are 3.5-point NFC championship odds favorites over the Vikings (+160) and the total is 53.

For most of the season it looked like these two teams were destined to meet here and neither team has disappointed.

Vikings quarterback Brett Favre is looking for a second Super Bowl that would be an exclamation mark on his already great legacy.

Saints quarterback Drew Brees is looking to cement his reputation as one of the league’s best quarterbacks with his first Super Bowl.

Favre may be slowing down a bit, but he showed against the Cowboys that he can still pick apart a defense and his experience might prove to be the edge the Vikings need.

Minnesota may have a bit of an edge at quarterback, but the Saints have a more balanced corps of receivers and running backs. You don’t get the second best scoring offense without having some play-makers though and the Vikings have more than their fair share.

New Orleans runs a high-risk high-reward defense that gives up some big plays, but can turn a game around with a key interception.

There aren’t going to be the same number of opportunities for the New Orleans ball-hawking defense against a veteran quarterback like Favre who threw just seven interceptions all season.

Jared Allen leads Minnesota’s number one pass-rushing unit with 14 .5 out of Minnesota’s 48 sacks and Ray Edwards, who was injured in the Dallas game, looks like he’ll be ready to go as he practiced on Friday.

They’ll be going against a New Orleans front line that only gave up 20 sacks on the season, so it won’t be easy to get to Brees.

These are two great teams and it’s going to be a fun game to watch, but home field is going to be a huge factor in this game. Saints fans are loud and Minnesota has struggled on the road going 4-4.

It’s just one game and anything can happen, but it’s hard to figure how a team that’s dominated at home and looked timid on the road like the Vikings can all of a sudden change in probably the loudest building in the NFL.

The Saints balanced attack is just going to keep racking up yards while the Vikings go through stretches where they’re able to move the ball just as well as the Saints and then disappear for a couple of possessions.

One mistake by Favre and New Orleans should cover.

NFL Divisional Playoffs Wrap Up

New Orleans Saints Fan
That was a good weekend of football. We saw some really good, close games and some thoroughly dominating offensive and defensive performances leaving us with one Cinderella team, the Jets, one Cinderella story, Favre and the Vikings, and two teams that delivered after promising regular seasons.

NFC Divisional Games

The Saints made the Cardinals look bad. I felt this game had blow-out potential, I just wasn’t sure which way it would go and the Saints poor play down the stretch had me leaning away from the Saints.

Way to prove me wrong.

I loved how the Vikings completely dismantled a hot Cowboys team. The combination of good preparation, the right game plan and a veteran quarterback like Favre who can bring it all together makes Minnesota a threat to any team.

As good as their respective offenses played, much of the credit has to go to the defenses who were in lock-down mode. It will be interesting to see whether it’s the veteran savvy of Favre or the overwhelming force of Drew Brees and the other Saints stars that gets the upper hand on the defenses.

Early NFL conference final odds have the Saints favored by four points. I don’t want to under-estimate the Saints after underestimating them last week, but I’m going to have a long hard think before betting against the Vikings.

AFC Divisional Games

The Chargers-Jets game played out almost exactly as I expected, although I didn’t account for the Jets ability to wear down opposing defenses and thought they’d be up early. The Jets aren’t going to play any pretty games, or at least they aren’t going to win them, but it’s nice seeing a team buck the trend to pass-heavy offenses and succeed.

Too many coaches are like sheep always building teams that emulate the most recent Super Bowl winners when there’s more than one way to win.

I also got the Ravens-Colts game right except that the Ravens surprised me with how much they passed. When the Ravens got the early field goal, it felt like Manning just decided that there was no way the Ravens were going to outplay the Colts and immediately quelled any doubt.

The AFC Final odds favor the Colts by 7.5. It’s a lot to cover and you know the Jets will play them tough, but the Colts are better equipped to deal with the Jets than the Chargers who really didn’t match up well.

Minnesota Vikings Playoff Fan

Minnesota Vikings Playoff Fan

The Minnesota Vikings fresh off of two weeks rest face one of the hottest team in the playoffs when the Dallas Cowboys visit the Metrodome on Sunday January 17th.

The Vikings (-150) are 2.5-point NFL playoffs betting favorites over the Cowboys (+130) and the over/under is 45.5.

Minnesota finished the season with a dominating 44-7 victory over the New York Giants showing that the Vikings are playing well and ready for the playoffs.

They won’t get the same results as they did against New York, but you can be sure that Minnesota will be in top form when they play the Cowboys.

Dallas is the hottest team in the league right now. They ended New Orleans’ perfect season and then knocked off the previous hottest team in the league twice in a row and in convincing fashion.

Cowboys running back Marion Barber has been missing practice with a knee problem and might not be ready to go for the game. But Dallas has some very capable replacements in Tashard Choice and Felix Jones.

Choice and Jones picked up 190 yards between them last week against the Eagles while Barber was limited to just three carries.

Having three good backs can really make a difference if the game plan is to wear the defense out on the run, but the Minnesota defense is probably hoping to see a lot of runs.

The Vikings defense has allowed just an average of just 87.1 rushing yards per game, so don’t expect any big rushing plays like the 72-yarder that Jones had last week.

As good as Dallas’ running game has been, this offense hinges on how quarterback Tony Romo distributes the ball and Romo has been doing a particularly good job of keeping defenses off balance of late.

Minnesota hasn’t lost at home all season, but then New England hadn’t lost a playoff game at home in like forever and we all know what happened there.

There are a lot of good reasons to like Minnesota in this game, but given the way Dallas is playing and how Romo is improving I smell a good chance for an upset.

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