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Dec 7, 2022 8:14:47 GMT -6 2 Replies
It is no secret to anyone that if Mike Zimmer was given the choice between a QB like Kirk Cousins or one like Teddy Bridgewater, he would go with Teddy Bridgewater 100% of the time. Zimmer loved Bridgewater, had a strong disdain for Cousins, and preferred a QB who did just enough to get a team to win against bad teams most of the time and good teams some of the time, over a QB who would put up huge stats against bad teams while never beating good teams.

In 2015, Zimmer almost had that QB. Teddy Bridgewater wasn't lighting up a stat sheet by any stretch of the imagination, but he was helping to run an efficient offense and he was winning over two games per loss. In 2022, KOC has Cousins not lighting up the stat sheet, but he is winning five games for every loss, something he never approached under Zimmer, despite putting up significantly better passing stats. Instead of getting blown out by every good team he faces and struggling to put-up double-digit points against top ten pass defenses, Cousins is still struggling against those good defenses, but the offense is succeeding regardless (excluding Philly and Dallas that is). KOC is doing with Cousins what Zimmer had wanted to do with Bridgewater and failed to do with Cousins, and the similarities between the two QB statistically in their winningest years are kind of crazy.

EPA/Play

Expected points added per play the two are nearly identical between Bridgewater’s 2015 season and Cousins current one, with Cousins coming in slightly behind Bridgewaters' .101 at .095. For context, Mahomes currently sits at .182 while Baker Mayfield was at -.013.

QBR

Not quarterback rating but ESPN's QBR, which is one of the better predictors of league MVP (when it is a QB). Cousins QBR this year is ranked 21st out of 31 qualifying QBs at 51.5. Bridgewater in 2015 ranked 17th out of 33 qualifying QBs at 57.7. For context here again, Mahomes currently sits at 78.5 and Mayfield at the bottom at 18.3.

Passing DVOA

This isn't as accurate now as it will be by the end of the year, but Teddy's passing offense ranked 19th at 10.3% in 2015 while Cousins' passing offense ranks 19th at 7.1%. Miami currently sits at #1 in this stat with a whopping 43.0% passing DVOA, while Houston sits at the bottom at a horrifically bad -31.3% (the worst since Josh Rosen's rookie season with AZ in 2018).

PFF Stats

2015 Bridgewater

Overall Grade: 68.9 (17th out of 27)
Average Depth of Target: 7.4 (24th)
Adjusted Completion %: 79.2% (1st)
Turnover Worthy Play %: 3.3 (15th ironically tied with Kirk Cousins that year)
Time to Attempt: 2.79 (2nd longest)
Deep Pass %: 10.6 (20th)

2022 Cousins

Overall Grade: 72.7 (15th out of 28)
Average Depth of Target: 7.6 (19th)
Adjusted Completion %: 76.8(13th)
Turnover Worthy Play %: 3.6 (20th)
Time to Attempt: 2.63 (12th longest)
Deep Pass %: 8.7 (21st)

Other Stats:

2015 Bridgewater

TDs: 14
Ints: 9
YPA: 7.2
Rating: 88.6
Attempts: 471
Completion %: 65.6%

2022 Cousins

TDs: 18
Ints: 9
YPA: 6.5
Rating: 88.1
Attempts: 449
Completion %: 64.6%

For the most part the numbers say these two QBs are the same type of QB with a few key differences. First, Cousins is significantly better in the red zone this year than Bridgewater was in 2015 leading to the difference in touchdown passes thrown despite Bridgewater moving the ball better. Even if you include TDs scored with their legs the difference only decreases to three touchdowns. Second, as most of us know that 2015 relied a lot more on the run then the pass which is why Teddy had a similar number of pass attempts in 16 games to what Cousins has thrown in 12. Still, even with those differences, on a per pass basis the similarities are uncanny.

So how did this happen, and should Vikings fans be happy or upset about it? Tackling the second part of this question first, the answer is probably not very happy. Even the most diehard Teddy Bridgewater fans ( ) would tell you that if Teddy had played exactly like he did in 2015 in 2016, and shown no progression, it would have been time to move on. Teddy playing like he did in 2015 in his second season is one thing, but that lack of production, even while winning, is something you need to move on from if it continued into his 3rd season. And if it isn’t good enough for Teddy in his third season, it sure as heck isn’t good enough for Cousins in his 10th. On top of that, Bridgewater’s play calling was being done by a very mediocre play caller in Norv Turner, and if KOC can’t do better offensively with an improved Oline, more dynamic RB, experienced QB and significantly better receiving options, it is a concerning indictment of his play calling to say the least.

As for why Cousins has suddenly turned into Bridgewater, or perhaps a better comparison and another Zimmer favorite, Andy Dalton, the answer to that is complex, in that the offense and responsibilities are too complex for Cousins, and there are multiple reasons for the decline in statistics. Cousins is struggling moving beyond JJ as a primary target far more than he has in the past and that shows whenever JJ is taken away by a quality, shutdown CB and this could be attributed to him being asked to do too much at the line. There is likely a reason the Vikings offense shifted away from having the QB call audibles with Cousins under center and it might be wise to simplify Cousins’ responsibilities once again. Then there is the fact that a good majority of pure pocket passers are struggling this year more than most due to a shift in defensive strategies. Teams have figured out how to slow the Ryan/Carr/Cousins type of QBs, taking away the plays that inflated their stats that made them seem better than they were.

It isn’t all bad though and there is a reason Zimmer preferred a Bridgewater over a Cousins. Cousins is winning more now than he ever has in his career, and while the stats would tell you he is having little to do with that, Kirk must be doing something to contribute to those wins. JJ isn’t throwing those passes to himself.

In the end the Vikings are 10-2 with Kirddy Couswater, the offense is above average, and the Vikings will almost certainly win the division. As long as a missed chip shot field goal doesn’t result in a first-round playoff loss, this transformation is better than what we had previously with Kirk. Even if success with this level of QB play isn’t maintainable.

It is no secret to anyone that if Mike Zimmer was given the choice between a QB like Kirk Cousins or one like Teddy Bridgewater, he would go with Teddy Bridgewater 100% of the time. Zimmer loved
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Dec 3, 2022 12:56:50 GMT -6 3 Replies
After a mini-bye, the Vikings get the surprisingly good Jets in a third straight home game. Will the defense rebound against new starting QB Mike White, or will they continue to be porous while the Vikings offense gets stopped by a very good defense?



Injury Report

Vikings
LT Darrisaw - Out
TE Ellefson - Out
DT Blacklock - Questionable

Jets
S Davis - Out
RB Carter - Doubtful
RT Ogbuehi - Doubtful
LT Brown - Questionable

Line: MIN -3 (52% of bets on Jets)

SuperSim Calculated Line: MIN -8

Prediction: Vikings 26, Jets 20

The Jets are a well-coached team, but they have many holes that I think O'Connell and co. can exploit. With RBs Breece Hall and Michael Carter down, I think their run game will be ineffective with Tomlinson back in tow. The LT/RT duo is weak, priming Hunter and Smith to feast on a QB who has not played very well under pressure. On the other side of the ball, the Jets have the best CB in football who might be able to slow down Jefferson. Even so, the Vikings have proven themselves able to figure out ways to move the ball against good defenses, and I think this might be a big game for Hockenson.

Any thoughts?After a mini-bye, the Vikings get the surprisingly good Jets in a third straight home game. Will the defense rebound against new starting QB Mike White, or will they continue to be porous while the
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Dec 3, 2022 13:21:56 GMT -6 0 Replies
The Minnesota Vikings entered the NFL as an expansion team in 1961. They took part in the 1961 NFL Draft that was held December 27-28 1960. That brought 20 rookies to the team. To help the new team be "competitive" with 12 existing teams and the Dallas Cowboys, the NFL allowed the Vikings the opportunity to select veterans from established teams through an Expansion Draft. The Cowboys were excluded from the plucking because they were entering their second season after going winless in their first. The draft was held on January 26, 1961. The 12 established teams listed eight of the 38 players on their roster and the Vikings selected three players from each team's list to fill their roster. Here are the 36 players that the Vikings selecteded and the teams from which those players were selected in the 1961 Expansion Draft.

Chicago Bears
Bill Bishop, DT
Glenn Shaw, FB
Charlie Sumner, DB

Detroit Lions
Grady Alderman, OG
Dave Middleton, WR
Dave Whitsell, DB

Green Bay Packers
Ken Beck, DT
Dick Pesonen, DB
Paul Winslow, RB

Cleveland Browns
Rich Mostardo, DB
Fred Murphy, WR
Gene Selawski, OT

San Francisco 49ers
Hugh McElhenny, RB
Clancy Osborne, LB
Karl Rubke, LB

Los Angeles Rams
Don Ellersick, WR
Charlie Janerette, OG
Jerry Stalcup, LB

St. Louis Cardinals
Ed Culpepper, DT
Mike Rabold, OG
Perry Richards, WR

Baltimore Colts
Don Joyce, DE
Lebron Shields, DT
Zeke Smith, LB

New York Giants
Don Doll, OT
Bill Kimber, WR
Frank Youso, OT

Philadelphia Eagles
Jerry Huth, OG
Bill Lapham, C
Gene Johnson, DB

Pittsburgh Steelers
Tom Barnett, RB
Byron Beams, OT
Jack Morris, DB

Washington Redskins
Dick Haley, DB
Bill Roehnelt, LB
Louis “Red” Stephens, OG

Of the 36 players selected in the 1961 Expansion Draft, the following made the 1961 Vikings' roster:

Grady Alderman
Bill Bishop
Ed Culpepper
Dick Haley
Jerry Huth
Gene Johnson
Don Joyce
Bill Lapham
Hugh McElhenny
Dave Middleton
Jack Morris
Rich Mostardo

Fred Murpy
Clancy Osborne
Dick Pesonen
Mike Rabold
Karl Rubke

Lebron Shields
Charlie Sumner
Frank Youso


1961 starters are in bold.

20 of the 36 players selected made the 1961 Vikings roster. 15 of the 20 that made the team started.

The entire offensive line:
LT Grady Alderman
LG Jerry Huth
C Bill Lapham
RG Mike Rabold
RT Frank Youso

and the entire defensive backfield:
CB Jack Morris
CB Dick Pesonen
LS Rich Mostardo
RS Charlie Sumner

Of the 20 expansion draftees that made the roster in 1961, seven made the roster in 1962. The great Mick Tingelhoff bumped Lapham from the center spot and ultimately the roster. The remaining four offensive linemen returned as starters. The other three were Hugh McElhenny, Clancy Osborne, and Charlie Sumner. McElhenny contributed, Osborne started, and Sumner provided depth. By 1963, only Alderman and Huth remained from the expansion draft. Both were starters. By 1964, it was only Alderman.

Hugh McElhenny is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame for what he did before the Vikings dug him out of the 1961 Expansion Draft heap. He did have a little left in the tank as he made it to his final Pro Bowl in 1961.

Among the expansion draftees, McElhenny might've been the biggest name and made the biggest early impact. The best player, by a very wide margin, was Grady Alderman. In his 14 seasons with the Vikings he was selected to six Pro Bowls and named 1st Team All-Pro once. He arguably ranks behind only Hall of Famers Ron Yary and Gary Zimmerman among the best offensive tackles in franchise history. In 2010, Alderman was named one of 50 Greatest Vikings. He should be in the team's Ring of Honor.

The Vikings were 3-11 in their first season. For good or bad, the 1961 Expansion Draft made up a significant part of that first team.




The Minnesota Vikings entered the NFL as an expansion team in 1961. They took part in the 1961 NFL Draft that was held December 27-28 1960. That brought 20 rookies to the team. To help the new team
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Dec 3, 2022 11:53:30 GMT -6 0 Replies


In the aftermath of The Game, Drew and Ruby take it surprisingly easy on Ted, but not TOO easy. We also talk about injuries and CB depth, preview the Jets, roll along with our contests, and our movie tribute this week is A Christmas Story.

So, give it a watch. Just don't shoot your eye out, kid.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cuq8zE2GRiQ&t=4s In the aftermath of The Game, Drew and Ruby take it surprisingly easy on Ted, but not TOO easy. We also talk about injuries and CB
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Jul 8, 2022 19:08:08 GMT -6 13 Replies
Since 2018, I've been creating draft boards that are based upon the consensus of a few specifically chosen 'draftniks'/scouts in the media that I find to be accurate, throw in some other metrics like RAS (Relative Athletic Score) and PFF grades, and create a board that I use to judge the 'accuracy' of draft picks and what account for as 'reaches' and 'value picks'. For this article, I'll compare every 1st and 2nd round pick from 2018 and 2019 to what my draft board recommended, and see which teams would have benefitted from taking my advice and see which would have suffered. So, for example, here's my 2019 draft board:



And let's see how the Packers did compared to my recommendations:



Key:
Actual = The player the team chose in that pick
Recommend = The player that my board prefers. If both players match, then nothing happens.
Actual AV = PFR's AV stat. This is the per year AV that the team's selection has generated
Actual PFF = PFF grade melted down into a tiered system, that being from 1 (Elite) to 5 (Average) to 9 (Abysmal / Did not play enough). This is what the player who was selected is graded as
My AV = The per year AV that my recommended player has generated
My PFF = The PFF tier that my recommended player falls into

So in 2019, the Packers selected Rashan Gary, while my board would have preferred Montez Sweat since both players are 3-4 edge defenders. In most scenarios, I kept the positions the same in order to reduce complexity. Only in a few situations where I either had a specific opinion on a player (Giants, don't take a RB at pick #2) did I switch the position.

Then Gary and Sweat are compared - both have similar PFF grades, but Sweat has generated more AV, so the Packers are given a -2 score. This totally not arbitrary number is how I ranked all teams.

Now, let's see the graph of all of the teams graded, to see if I (well, the draftniks I chose) know more than NFL teams!



The results are in - NFL teams are right more often than me by a slight measure: about -0.4. Teams in the bottom left are the ones who would have been better off following my board, and the ones in the top right quadrant would be worse off taking my advice. Well, it's not a shocking conclusion, but there were teams that could use my help. Let's see how the Cardinals could improve:



Turns out I liked Lamar Jackson more than Josh Rosen, so the Cardinals would have gone down a much different path in this scenario. Since they found their franchise QB (and I didn't love Murray going at #1), I instead had them take my #1 player on the board, Nick Bosa. Now instead of having one good QB, the Cardinals have one good QB (that I personally think is better) and an elite pass rusher. You can thank me later, Arizona!

Now let's see the opposite side of the spectrum - how would I screw up the Browns? [insert Browns joke here]



While I keep the Mayfield pick the same, I waste the 4th overall pick on Josh Jackson, who fell to the 2nd round and should have fallen farther, as he's already been cut and is a end-of-the-roster player compared to the #1 CB Ward has become. I make one good move in upgrading from Corbett to Daniels (Corbett was a total flop with the Browns but the Rams fixed him, but I'm not counting that), but then completely screw up by not taking Chubb and blowing a pick on Derrius Guice. Then I miss out on Greedy Williams (who has been underwhelming in his own right) for Justin Layne, who has played 150 snaps on defense in his whole career and is only good at special teams work.

Finally, what about the Vikings?



This ends up being basically even. I was clear that I loved Will Hernandez over Mike Hughes, but Hernandez turned out to be a below average guard who got benched. Still, he provided more value than Hughes who was always hurt and usually only played a part-time role. 

I was surprised to see Orlando Brown ranked ahead of Brian O'Neill on my board, and even though Brown would not be a scheme fit, I think the Vikings may have missed out on a really good LT. They don't get dinged for that very much since O'Neill has turned out to be very good in his own right.

Finally, I loved Andre Dillard in the 2019 draft, which turned out to be a very bad opinion since he couldn't even win the starting LT job of the Eagles over a 7th round pick. He's just a swing tackle now, which is even a far cry from Garrett Bradbury. AV makes Bradbury look like a competent center - which he isn't - but Dillard is clearly an even bigger bust than Bradbury.

So, would you like to see any other teams' grades compared to my boards? Or would you like to see some expanded analysis that goes beyond the 2nd round or even into the 2020 draft? Let me know what you think!
Since 2018, I've been creating draft boards that are based upon the consensus of a few specifically chosen 'draftniks'/scouts in the media that I find to be accurate, throw in some other metrics like
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Nov 26, 2022 14:16:57 GMT -6 0 Replies
On September 17, 1920, representatives of football teams scattered around the midwest and east met in Canton, Ohio to discuss organizing a professional football league. The result of that meeting was the formation of the American Professional Football Association. In 1922, the APFA renamed themselves the National Football League.

The NHL has their “Original Six.” The NFL has an “Original Two.” 14 teams competed in that inaugural 1920 season. Only two of those teams are still competing today. Here’s a look at how the NFL has gone from 2 to 32.

Chicago Bears (1920)
The Chicago Bears got their start as a company team. A.E. Staley had a company that produced a range of starch products. He also had a fondness for sports. His company fielded some teams. In March 1920, George Halas was hired to head the football team. He also put his Chemical Engineering degree to work in the factory but he was really there for the football. When the call came for those with football teams to come to Canton, Halas was there. The team competed as the Decatur Staleys in 1920. The football team turned out to be a significant drain on Staley’s funds. Instead of dumping the team, Halas got his greatest wish. Figuring that a bigger market would be a boost, Staley sent Halas, the team, and $5,000 to Chicago to make a go of professional football. In exchange for the funding, the team would carry the Staley name for a single season. In 1921, the team was known as the Chicago Staleys. George Halas got his football team and the Staley name got the 1921 NFL title. With baseball’s Chicago Cubs in mind, Halas renamed his team the Chicago Bears in 1922.

1920: Decatur Staleys
1921: Chicago Staleys
1922-present: Chicago Bears

Chicago Cardinals (1920)
Dating to the 1890s as a club team, the Cardinals are the NFL’s oldest team by a wide margin. They are also one of the most traveled.

1920-59: Chicago Cardinals
1960-87: St. Louis Cardinals
1988-93: Phoenix Cardinals
1994-present: Arizona Cardinals

Due to the financial and resource struggles during World War II, the Cardinals combined with the Pittsburgh Steelers to compete as a single football team in 1944. 

The two Chicago teams are the NFL’s Original Two. It’s always annoying to hear Chicago Bears-Green Bay Packers described as the league’s oldest rivalry. How could it be? The Packers weren’t even part of the professional football league during the inaugural season. Bears-Packers is the league’s most contested rivalry. It isn’t the oldest rivalry. That distinction belongs to Bears-Cardinals. During most of the 39 years that the two teams shared Chicago it was one of the most heated.

Green Bay Packers (1921)
The Packers were and are a town team. They were formed in 1919 and competed independently during their first two seasons. In 1921, the Packers joined the APFA/NFL. They almost didn’t get a second season. The Packers were kicked out of the league following their first season for using some players with college eligibility remaining. Cheaters. The Packers made whatever amends needed to be made as they were re-admitted before the 1922 season.

All of the NFL teams struggled greatly during those first couple decades. So many teams came and went. Some of that was intentional. Realizing that the NFL’s future was in bigger cities, league President Joe Carr made a concerted effort to weed out the teams from the smaller towns. Canton, Akron, Pottstown, Hammond, etc. Green Bay is the one town team that survived. It helped that the Packers soon became one of the best teams in the league. Much has been made of the Packers “cute” ownership structure. I’m one of those owners. I have a share of their worthless stock. It’s fun to say and think that I own the Packers. I look forward to attending one of their shareholders meetings in full Vikings gear and just hacking up the process.

New York Giants (1925)
Other than playing home games in New Jersey, there isn’t anything remarkable or notable about the Giants. They have a strong history and a fairly straightforward one.


Detroit Lions (1930)
The Detroit Lions got their NFL start in Portsmouth, Ohio. They soon became one of the league’s best teams. Playing for an NFL title in 1932 and winning one as the Detroit Lions in 1935. It’s tough to believe now but the Lions were a powerhouse in the 1950s. They played in four title games, winning in 1952, 1953, and 1957.

Portsmouth Spartans: 1930-33
Detroit Lions: 1934-present

Washington Commanders (1932)
The freshly named Washington Commanders have a fairly troubling history. That happens when a team is owned by a racist and an idiot. George Preston Marshall was the racist. Daniel Snyder is the idiot.

1932: Boston Braves
1933-36: Boston Redskins
1937-2019: Washington Redskins
2020-2021: Washington Football Team
2022-present: Washington Commanders

Philadelphia Eagles (1933)
Pittsburgh Steelers (1933)

1933-39: Pittsburgh Pirates
1940-present: Pittsburgh Steelers

During the World War II years, the Steelers merged with the Eagles in 1943 to form the awkwardly named “Steagles.” In 1944, the Steelers merged with the Cardinals.

Historically and geographically, the Pennsylvania teams feel linked. They entered the league together. Eagles owner Bert Bell and Steelers owner Art Rooney were terrific friends. They even jointly owned the Steelers for a few years until Bell was elected league Commissioner. The Steelers and Eagles even swapped cities in 1941.

Los Angeles Rams (1937)
The Rams have a well-traveled history. As the Cleveland Rams, they jumped from the second AFL (there have been three AFLs) to the NFL in 1937. From there the team bounced around a bit.

1937-45: Cleveland Rams
1946-94: Los Angeles Rams
1995-2015: St. Louis Rams
2016-present: Los Angeles Rams

During the World War II years, the Rams suspended operations for the 1943 season. One of the interesting things about the Rams is that they won NFL titles in each of the cities that they played. They won as the Cleveland Rams in 1945, as the Los Angeles Rams in 1951 and 2021, and the St. Louis Rams in 1999. Yes, the Rams bolted Cleveland the year after they won an NFL title.

Cleveland Browns (1950)
The Cleveland Browns competed in the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) from 1946-49. They won all four of that league’s titles. The Browns joined the NFL, after the folding of the AAFC, in 1950 and continued their domination. They played for the title from 1950-55, winning in 1950, 1954, and 1955. Much has been made of Tom Brady leading his teams to ten title games, winning seven. Otto Graham led the Browns to ten title games in ten seasons, winning seven. Graham did in ten years what Brady did in 23.

The Browns have a strange history in that today’s Browns have really no connection to the initial Browns. Today’s Browns are an expansion team. The initial Browns are in Baltimore as the Ravens.

1946-95: Cleveland Browns
1999-present: Cleveland Browns

San Francisco 49ers (1950)
Like the Browns, the San Francisco 49ers competed in the AAFC from 1946-49. Like the Browns, the 49ers joined the NFL after the folding of the AAFC.

Baltimore Colts (1953)
The Baltimore Colts have a very interesting history. Like the Browns and 49ers, a Baltimore Colts team jumped from the AAFC to the NFL. That Colts team was terrible and folded after a single season. The Baltimore Colts team that’s playing in Indianapolis today can arguably trace it’s roots to an original NFL team. The Dayton Triangles. I’m not going to try and untangle that connection here. For the purpose of this, I’m going with the Baltimore Colts joining the NFL in 1953.

1953-83: Baltimore Colts
1984-present: Indianapolis Colts

An interesting nugget in the Colts interesting history is that owner Carroll Rosenbloom traded the team to Robert Irsay in exchange for the Los Angeles Rams in 1972.


Dallas Cowboys (1960)
As the 1950s came to a close, the NFL felt pretty good and stable with their 12 teams. After three-plus decades of significant struggle, the NFL finally had stability. They had no interest in expanding. The threat of the American Football League changed everything. The new league had what few of the teams in the old league had. Money. The AFL’s owners had serious money and a willingness to spend it. The NFL had established teams, established players, and an established history but the threat posed by the AFL forced the NFL to add teams. The first addition was the Dallas Cowboys to compete with the AFL’s Dallas Texans.

Minnesota Vikings (1961)
The Minnesota Vikings became the NFL’s 14th team in 1961. The NFL’s best and most important team was originally aligned with the AFL. They were supposed to be one of the new league’s original eight teams. They even took part in the new league’s first draft. The NFL successfully pried the Vikings their way.

Atlanta Falcons (1966)

New Orleans Saints (1967)

The NFL-AFL Merger (1970)

One of the most significant events in the NFL’s history was the 1970 merger with the AFL. The merger was originally agreed to in the spring of 1966. A combined title game was played from 1966-69 but the complete merger didn’t take place until 1970. 10 AFL teams joined 16 NFL teams to form one league. The NFL reformed into two conferences. The NFC and the AFC. To balance things, the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns, and Baltimore Colts moved to the AFC.

Kansas City Chiefs (1970)
1960-62: Dallas Texans
1963-present: Kansas City Chiefs

Tennessee Titans (1970)
1960-96: Houston Oilers
1997-98: Tennessee Oilers
1999-present: Tennessee Titans

Buffalo Bills (1970)
1960-present: Buffalo Bills

New England Patriots (1970)
1960-70: Boston Patriots
1971-present: New England Patriots

New York Jets (1970)
1960-62: New York Titans
1963-present: New York Jets

Denver Broncos (1970)
1960-present: Denver Broncos

Las Vegas Raiders (1970)
1960-81: Oakland Raiders
1982-94: Los Angeles Raiders
1995-2019: Oakland Raiders
2020-present: Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers (1970)
1960: Los Angeles Chargers
1961-2016: San Diego Chargers
2017-present: Los Angeles Chargers

Miami Dolphins (1970)
1966-present: Miami Dolphins

Cincinnati Bengals (1970)
1968-present: Cincinnati Bengals

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1976)
Seattle Seahawks (1976)

These two teams have felt linked to me as they were the first expansion teams during my time as a fan. An interesting thing about the Buccaneers and Seahawks is that each has spent time in both conferences. Geography be damned, the Buccaneers were jammed into the AFC West in 1976. They’ve been an NFC team since 1977. The Seahawks were in the NFC West in 1976, flipped to the AFC West in 1977, and returned to the NFC West in 2002.

Carolina Panthers (1995)
Jacksonville Jaguars (1995)

Baltimore Ravens (1996)

It’s been nearly 30 years and I still can’t think of the Baltimore Ravens and not see the original Cleveland Browns. Nothing about that move felt right. No franchise move feels right but this is a strange one. Baltimore and Cleveland are iconic NFL cities and neither team playing in those cities feels like the ones that should be. It’s also ridiculous that the Ravens have inducted eight former Colts players into the team’s Ring of Honor.

Houston Texans (2002)

From the Chicago Bears and Cardinals to the Houston Texans, the National Football League went from 2 to 32.
On September 17, 1920, representatives of football teams scattered around the midwest and east met in Canton, Ohio to discuss organizing a professional football league. The result of that meeting was
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Nov 23, 2022 23:09:59 GMT -6 2 Replies
How will the Vikings rebound from an absolute drubbing from the Cowboys? They face the best head coach in recent memory and a top heavy team that is firing on all cylinders defensively, but is a mess on offense. Will our Vikings be able to prevent the first losing streak of the season?



Injury Report

Vikings

CB Booth - Out
CB Evans - Out
LT Darrisaw - Out
DT Tomlinson - Questionable


Patriots

LT Wynn - Out
WR Parker - Questionable
T Cajuste - Questionable
C Andrews - Questionable
CB M Jones - Questionable


Line: Vikings -2.5 (66% of bets on Vikings)

Super Sim Calculated Line: Vikings -4.5

Prediction: Patriots 23, Vikings 13

Give me the team that is better in the trenches, and right now that is the Patriots. While their OL also has some problems, I am afraid that their defense can do similar things that the Cowboys can. While their pass rush isn't as ferocious, Belichick's unit is great at covering up the pass game with their 6 DB sets. Running the ball at them is a must. On offense, NE should be spamming the ball to their RBs after seeing what Pollard was able to do. Their passing offense is flat-out bad and they will be in big trouble if they fall behind. In the end, I think the Vikings' injuries and short break between games will cost them this one.

Any thoughts?
How will the Vikings rebound from an absolute drubbing from the Cowboys? They face the best head coach in recent memory and a top heavy team that is firing on all cylinders defensively, but is a mess
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Nov 21, 2022 21:57:19 GMT -6 33 Replies


Pop quiz! That’s right, you underperform, you get a quiz.

Question 1: Which of the above guys is the starting quarterback for the Patriots? If you can’t answer that, guess what! You have something in common with Bill Belichick! (answers at the end)

Question 2: Which of the above guys looks like the sort of player you would trust to lead your team?

Question 3: What is "Mac" in Mac Jones, short for?


The Patriots have won exactly 0 games this year on the back of a good passing game by their starting quarterback. Their one impressive passing game came on the back of Backup quarterback Bailey Zappe. The patriots are on a three game win streak, but those three wins have come against:
The Jets
A Colts performance so bad, it made an ESPN announcer subsequently look like a competent coach
The Jets

On the ground Rhamondre Stevenson is a good back, but has only one game where he has really carried the team, a 163 yard explosion against a Lions team that managed zero points that week.

The Patriots offense is slightly worse than the Commanders. I could argue this will be the worst offense the Vikings have faced all season (the problem is the Packers are technically worse, so that's a tough argument to make). The defense needs to play with more intensity after the Dallas debacle, but they should be able to sell out against the Patriots run game.

Last week, the Cowboys were the most difficult team to write a “how to beat” statement for; there was no obvious trend that I found on weak players, schemes that worked, or obvious flaws to be exploited. This isn’t to say the Cowboys are unbeatable, just that they are balanced. The Patriots on the other hand are the easiest of the year, so I'll just get right to that:

How to Beat The Patriots
I mentioned selling out to stop Rhamondre Stevenson, do that.  Dalvin Cook has to out rush Rhamondre Stevenson.   The reason the Patriots are one of the easiest teams to figure out for a “How to Beat” scheme is because of how strong a correlation there is with run game success and winning their games.  In ten games the Patriots have played this year, the team that rushes for more yards has won eight. 8-2 is a really solid track record.  The exceptions are:

The Dolphins beat the Patriots 20-7 despite being our rushed 78-65; that’s a very pass heavy Dolphins team and not a huge run total for the Patriots, so not a shocker.
And
The Patriots beat the Colts despite the Colts outrushing the Pats 78-70 in a game with Sam Ellinger at quarterback; 8 yards is not nearly enough to overcome that liability.

When there is a stat like that with a strong correlation to winning, I also ask, does this make sense? Looking at the Patriots:
- Stevenson is arguable the Patriots best offensive player, taking him away should limit their offense.
- The Patriots passing game has a high completion percentage but isn’t very explosive, it requires a complimentary running game.

The big different between this week and last week is that the Patriots don’t have the luxury of a Good WR1, WR2, TE and QB to support their good RB.

But what about the Patriots Defense

Before I dive into the Patriots defense, I need you to ask yourself a question: what do you think of Jared Goff? (why would I ask about the Lions’ quarterback… this makes no sense!!! Just do it, OK, you don’t even have to type a response, you only need to answer to yourself). I think of Goff as a low end starter, with the right team around him he can be a functional player with a winning record; he is also prone to mistakes and bad throws that an average to poor team won’t be able to cover up. If I were raking all the starting QBs, I'd put Goff in the 20-25 range.

Agree or disagree with me on Goff, it doesn’t matter as long as you have your opinion of him. Now, why that matters.  Jared Goff is probably the best quarterback the Patriots defense has beaten this year. The Patriots have beaten:

Mitchel Trubisky – before he was benched for Kenny Pickett

Goff – Is who he is

Jacoby Brisett – capable of piloting a team with a strong defense, running game and big time addition of Amari Cooper into a 3-7 ditch; so … maybe an equal to Goff.

Zach Wilson – His only game over 300 passing yards. 3 bad interceptions sunk this day and it was still a 22-17 game.

Sam Ehlinger –Why would the Colts think this is a good contingency plan to Matt Ryan? Because Jim Irsay is on drugs… ohhh… well… yeah, then that adds up.

Zach Wilson (again) – This 77 yard, 3 point outburst is more like him.

That’s the list of QBs the Patriots have beaten this year.  Additionally, the Patriots have lost games while Justin Fields threw for 99 yards; great for a pass defense stat sheet, bad for winning football.

With that in mind have a look at the Patriots defense:



Most of their pass rush comes from Deatrich Wise Jr. and Matt Judon, those two along with Ja’Whaun Bentley are the 3 main guys on the front 7, the others all rotate out playing about half of snaps or less. Wise and Judon are the threats. I could write about how Brian O’Niell will need to play better than he did against Dallas and how the Vikings should help Brandle (he will and they should), but this isn’t about what the patriots are good at, this post is about how to beat them. When looking at how to beat them, it is important to know that Wise and Judon are good pass rushers, they are not as good at run defense. This ties into the main thing on how to beat them – beat them with what they are bad at.

Cook and Mattison should be targeted for 30 carries between them. This is a beautiful game to feed them both and use Mattison as a sledge hammer to keep them soften up for Cook coming right at them.

Quiz Answers
#1 – Clockwise from Top Right: Mac Jones, winner of a Mac Jones look-alike Contest, possibly Tom Brady, and Jake Bailey – who is the only correct answer to question #2 as he is the only one who shaves and is also the Patriots punter.  #3 "McCorkle".
Pop quiz! That’s right, you underperform, you get a quiz. Question 1: Which of the above guys is the st
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Nov 19, 2022 14:49:39 GMT -6 6 Replies
After an exciting and unlikely win against the Bills, the Cowboys are up next. While they are a decent team, you'd think they would be the next team to lose by a single possession to the Vikings... we'll have to see if they play at 100% after a long game against Buffalo.




Injury Report

Cowboys

P Anger - Questionable
LB Barr - Questionable
DT Bohanna - Questionable
CB Brown - Questionable
DE Lawrence - Questionable

RB Elliott - Questionable


Vikings

CB Evans - Out
DT Tomlinson - Out
OLB Smith - Questionable


Line: Cowboys -1.5

SuperSim Calculated line: Vikings -1

Prediction: Vikings 30, Cowboys 24

I can't get behind that the Cowboys are the favorite in this game with how poorly their defense has fared the past two weeks. After they gave up 28+ points to the Justin Fields show and the Aaron Rodgers travelling tire fire, they are primed to be whipped by a Vikings offense that is getting the ball to Jefferson and Cook. On offense, they've been mediocre so far and don't match up great against a Vikings defense that has gotten hot. Until the Vikings start stumbling, I'm not going to predict them to lose against a team that is a couple steps below them on paper.

Any thoughts?After an exciting and unlikely win against the Bills, the Cowboys are up next. While they are a decent team, you'd think they would be the next team to lose by a single possession to the Vikings...
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Nov 18, 2022 13:51:17 GMT -6 20 Replies


Am I even required to take the Dallas defense seriously after the greenest of Green Bay Packers mocked them despite a ruined season in prime time?  They might as well just throw a bunch of chickens at the Cowboys.

The Dallas defense is fine, but they are running more on reputation than substance (I am aware that is redundant with saying they’re the Dallas Cowboys). Still there are a few things to learn about them. Let’s start with the one good player they have. True or False tests are always an easy way to draw people in, it seems so easy.

True or False: Micah Parsons is a great linebacker for Dallas.
The answer is false. Parsons is good, but he is not playing linebacker, he is playing defensive end. Compare four players in this game and look at their season to date snap counts:

Leighton Vander Esch
Run Defense: 242
Pass Rush: 22
Coverage: 261

Eric Kendricks
Run Defense: 210
Pass Rush: 21
Coverage: 380

Micah Parsons
Run Defense: 216
Pass Rush: 240
Coverage: 60

Za’Darius Smith
Run Defense: 132
Pass Rush: 287
Coverage: 20

Parsons’ numbers look more like Za’Darius Smith than Eric Kendricks. In fact, as I watched games, I started to think Dallas was actually running a 3-4 defense with Parsons lined up as an edge rushing OLB, rather than a 4-3 linebacker. Parsons moved around the formation like a linebacker, but he almost always rushes. This pass rush heavy strategy seems to make sense with another trend I’m seeing: coverage that can be beaten deep. It looks to me like the Cowboys' defensive strategy is to pressure opponents into passes against a secondary that is sitting on routes looking for interceptions.

This play against the Lions is a microcosm of how I think Dallas wants their defense to work. First you see Trevon Diggs sitting on a route as Goff stares down the receiver. Then in the second snap, you can see the Lion receiver has beaten Diggs for the TD, but the ball never got out as Goff was sacked. This risk reward seems to be a trade the Cowboys will willingly make.





Is this strategy working? Not really. The Cowboys have 7 interceptions this season, last year by this time Diggs had 8 by himself.

If it’s not the defense, what drives the Cowboys?
Dak Prescott is a respectable quarterback. He plays his role, but he's not in the elite QB tier - if anything he's about one season away from becoming Tony Romo 2.0.  

Zeke Elliott is a bit like Alexander Mattison at this point, a hard running sledge hammer who forces the defense to man up. People can hate him because he isn’t the #1 pick in fantasy football anymore, but that role still has value.

That leaves two potential guys to answer the question of what drives the Cowboys: CeeDee Lamb and Tony Pollard, which brings me to….

How to Beat Dallas:
The Vikings need to figure out which player they need to take away. There is a good argument for both.

The argument for Tony Pollard – he’s averaging 6.0 yards per carry on 103 carries and had big games when Elliot was out the last two weeks. He could be the guy that drives the team.
The argument for CeeDee Lamb – Cowboy game most often swing on which team has two things: Fewer pass attempts and a higher yards per pass attempt. Lamb is their best guy to get these deep balls.

Looking at Cowboys game logs and player stat lines, their most impressive game are when Lamb has a high catch rate and high yards per reception. My question is, is it the run game opening things up or Lamb, or the threat Lamb drawing the defense deep to make Pollard look great.

Time to look at 3 important passes to Lamb. I picked two from the Commanders game (Lamb had a good game in a win against what has proven to be a strong Commanders defense) and one from the Packers game. I’m looking more for trends than scheme breakdowns.

Catch 1 – A simple Crossing Route that Lamb takes for 23 yards.  Lamb got matched up on a linebacker who was forced to chase him in man coverage.  



There’s a lot of catches like this. This type of pass is #1 on the list because it highlights the dilemma the Vikings will face. Patrol the middle of the field with Kendricks and take this away or come up and stop Pollard.  This play will look extra bad for Washington later when you see Prescot's heat map for passer rating - the Commanders took something Prescott is bad at and made it easy for him.

Catch 2 – This play broke the game open and really put the score out of reach for the Commanders. I’m not sure what to make of this play, Washington is taking the non-traditional approach of not bothering to cover Lamb. I think Harrison Smith can make this cover.



Catch 3 – this pass should have sealed the Packers win, but the Cowboy defense packed up camp too early.



This is the most dangerous play because Lamb faked a post going across the field then just ran away from the defense. It looks like the Packers saw the Cowboys' tendencies and are taking away the middle of the field. I think the Packers overdid it with taking away the middle of the field. And more importantly, I think the Vikings safeties will be better at covering the sideline.

One final image, Prescott’s passing chart:



Before I get to Lamb, This image raises two very important questions.  First, if Patrick Peterson consistently lines up on the right side of the offense, left side of the defense, how will the Vikings cover the left side of the field where Prescott is much better? It’s not Lamb, he moves all over. That will be an interesting game within the game. If you hear the announcers talk about how “the Cowboys have been picking on that guy (on the left) all day.” You know better, it’s not the Vikings player, it’s that Prescott can only throw one direction.  Second question: Is Dak Prescott, the sleep number mattress salesman, really cool enough to be rockin' a tattoo that far up his neck?  Seems like a questionable choice. 

Dak isn’t a great passer over the middle of the field. His 6-4 TD to INT ratio isn’t great. This is an interesting weakness when he has CeeDee Lamb who seems to be strong going across the middle. It also tells me how I would approach the game…

If given the choice, I would favor pass coverage over run support for Jordan Hicks, Eric Kendricks, and Chandon Sullivan. If this means Pollard breaks off a few runs, so be it. Force Dak to make more throws outside and deep where safeties are already lurking. It’s the high percentage catch and runs that the Cowboys feast on.  If the Vikings take those away I don't think something like a 150-yard rush day for Pollard would be enough to pick up the slack.
Am I even required to take the Dallas defense seriously after the greenest of Green Bay Packers mocked them despite a
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Nov 19, 2022 15:04:56 GMT -6 0 Replies
The band is out on the field…

Whenever there’s a need for a desperation play at the end of a football game, The Play is referenced. Whenever a play must be kept alive with laterals, The Play is referenced. Forty years ago, The Play played before disbelieving eyes.

November 20, 1982. Cal-Stanford. The Big Game. The Battle for the Axe. Over the past 40 years, the 85th edition of the Big Game has been whittled down to it’s final moments.

The band is out on the field…

Trailing 19-17 with 53 seconds to play, Stanford quarterback John Elway guided the Cardinal (the color, not the bird) down the field. Overcoming a fourth-and-17 from their own 13-yard line, it was an agonizing drive. It was a drive that ended with a 35-yard Mark Harmon (not that one) field goal. 20-19 Stanford. Four seconds on the clock.

The band is out on the field…

A Harmon squib kick brought the ball to Kevin Moen. Then it was chaos.

Kevin Moen to Richard Rodgers to Dwight Garner to Richard Rodgers to Mariet Ford to Kevin Moen

“the most amazing, sensational, dramatic, heart-rending, exciting, thrilling finish in the history of college football.”

Five laterals. Stanford claims that Garner’s knee was down. They’re wrong. Stanford claims that the final lateral was more forward than backward. They’re wrong. Cal won 25-20. Elway was sad.

The Stanford Band was out on the field. That entire band was spread out across the field from the 20-yard line through the end zone. Stanford’s idiotic band has always been a clown show. It’s really no surprise that they blundered their way into a football game before it was done. Trombonist Gary Tyrrell was crushed by Moen in the end zone. They’ve been friends ever since. Yesterday, Cal unveiled a statue in front of Memorial Stadium of Moen with ball held high. Looking for a band member to annihilate. Tyrrell is missing. His trombone is at the base of the statue.

It was insane. Last year, ESPN called it the second-biggest American sports moment. It was a moment made by football craziness and Joe Starkey’s classic call.

I was supposed to be in the Memorial Stadium stands that day. That was supposed to be my freshman year at Cal. It was not to be. My Cal admission was redirected to UC Santa Cruz. I had to be a Banana Slug before I could be a Bear. Instead of sitting in the stadium stands I watched the game in the lounge of my UCSC dorm. Grrrrrah! 

The 85th Big Game had some Minnesota Vikings connections.

Joe Kapp was in his first season as Cal’s head coach. He was and is a Cal legend. Vikings legend too. He quarterbacked the Vikings to their first Super Bowl. He quarterbacked Cal to a Rose Bowl appearance in 1958. Sadly, that’s the last time Cal has played in the Rose Bowl. 64 years! Kapp’s last game as Cal’s head coach in 1986 was my only Big Game win as a Cal student.

Paul Wiggin was Stanford’s head coach in 1982. He went on to coach the Vikings defensive line from 1985-91. From 1992-2015, he worked as the Vikings senior consultant for pro personnel.

Joe Starkey has been the voice of Cal football since 1975. I’ve listened to his voice all of those years. In 1977, he was also the radio voice of the Minnesota Vikings.

Today’s Big Game, the 125th edition, will be Starkey’s last game as Cal’s radio voice.

The band is out on the field… Whenever there’s a need for a desperation play at the end of a football game, The Play is referenced. Whenever a play must be kept alive with lateral
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Nov 19, 2022 12:16:27 GMT -6 0 Replies
I’ve read several books about the 1970s Oakland Raiders, Ken Stabler, John Madden, Al Davis, John Matuszak, etc. Characters and criminals. Those Raider teams were loaded with both. On the field, it was rarely routine. In a single decade, the Raiders played many games with names. Immaculate Reception, Ghost to the Post, Sea of Hands, Holy Roller. Off the field, it was never routine. It might be why Madden only coached 10 seasons. Those 10 seasons probably felt like 20. There are so many great Raiders stories from that era. This is one of my favorites.

The Oakland Raiders of the 1970s were a different sort of football team. They fielded very good, if not great, football teams but they were a little bit different. Al Davis put those teams together in his image and little else really needs to be said. The Raiders of that era were renegades and you could tell that from the company that they kept. Off the field as well as on. Many of the Raiders were friendly with Huey Newton, Bobby Seale and the rest of the Black Panthers. Sonny Barger and the Hell's Angels could be found on bar stools next to Ken Stabler, John Matuszak, and Phil Villapiano. You might even find Barger on the sideline of a Raiders football game. It wasn't always beers and fun with the Oakland Raiders and the Hell's Angels. They nearly went to war.

Most NFL teams of the 1970s still held training camp at small colleges. They stayed in the dorms. For at least a month, they lived a decent distance from the rest of civilization. The Oakland Raiders were, of course, a bit different. They were housed at the El Rancho Tropicana Hotel in Santa Rosa, CA. It wasn't a lovely place. They practiced on nearby fields. As soon as they were free of the daily practices and meetings the rowdy Raiders would scatter to the bars that dotted the area. The Bamboo Room was usually the first and most frequent stop on the rounds. The players would fly to the bars as soon as they could and then fly back to the Tropicana to make their 11pm curfew. One night, linebacker Phil Villapiano didn't make it back for that curfew. There were many hell-raisers on those Raiders teams but they were all pretty good at meeting the few rules that the team had. It was unusual for any of the Raiders to miss curfew. Villapiano was drinking off a particularly rough day of practice on this night that he missed curfew. He was being switched to inside linebacker. He had also suffered a pulled muscle. It wasn’t a great day. It was about to become a worse night. When he finally ventured outside the Bamboo Room he found some gentlemen leaning against his car. He didn't take too kindly to their actions. They didn't take too kindly to his reaction. Villapiano was hit in the head with a hammer before he discovered that he was in a fight with some of the Hell's Angels. The fighting ceased when Villapiano was able to relay that he was friends with Sonny Barger. He believes that association probably saved his life. By the time the tardy linebacker had finally made his way back to the Tropicana his teammates were gathered in the courtyard. After hearing the tale, the Oakland Raiders wanted to go to war with the Hell's Angels. The coaches and Villapiano were able to calm the rest of the team before a Bay Area War could erupt. It all ended well. About a week after the incident, the Raiders were practicing when the air was filled with the roar of several Harley motorcycles. The noise and interruption didn't please John Madden too much but the Oakland Raiders and the Hell's Angels had made their peace.I’ve read several books about the 1970s Oakland Raiders, Ken Stabler, John Madden, Al Davis, John Matuszak, etc. Characters and criminals. Those Raider teams were loaded with both. On the field, it
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Nov 10, 2022 14:59:58 GMT -6 15 Replies


Buffalo Bills wild west entertainment + Crazy Run and Shoot Mustache = Josh Allen. It doesn’t get any more fun than this. Let’s get the show started double time. Would I talk about anything else? I can’t see why I would, Josh Allen is much too interesting. It’s all over the media:

The Super Power of the Buffalo Bills is Josh Allen’s deep ball.
- Marcus Spears, ESPN

Bills' receivers allegedly have the ability to break off any route and go deep whenever they think they can get behind the safety. Per Bills game broadcasts.

I’m going to take the lazy way out of all the screen prints this week and provide you unlimited access to all this cool stuff Josh Allen does:

Cool Josh Allen Stuff

Or just go out and watch Sports Center (Note to self: check if Sports Center is still an actual show).

The proof is in the stats, just look at how amazing Allen is at those deep throws with QB ratings way above league average more than 20 yards down field.



If you made it past that time suck trap that was the link to all the Josh Allen highlights, I’ll assume you’re interested in how to beat the Buffalo Josh Allens. I’ll start with a truth that I posted for Jalen Hurts and Kyler Murray, because like those two, Allen is mobile. But, like them, Josh Allen is a quarterback, the most valuable thing a quarterback does is throw the ball. Here is a comparison for Allen.



Allen might seem so dominant that he looks unbeatable, but I think the Vikings have a few situational and scheme advantages that I think could help them. First off, for all those deep ball highlights, remember Allen's intended air yards per pass is 8.7. Air yards per completion is 7.3. I’m going to put a filter on Allen’s passing heat map:



That doesn’t look nearly as dominant, in fact Allen looks downright ordinary. But you might be thinking “Uhhh… Midwinter, you can’t just take away the thing that Allen is best at.” No, I can’t. But Ed Donatell’s defense can. The entire season I have had the same complaint about the Vikings defense: their safeties line up so deep, they are effectively playing themselves out of all but the deepest passes. I’m purposely re-using a snip I posted after the Dolphins game that I used to illustrate that a safety giving up a 28-yard cushion on 1st and 10 down wasn’t helping:



However, if the primary goal becomes to be “Take away the one thing Josh Allen is best at” then suddenly that defensive scheme has value.

I hereby officially put all complaints about safeties being too deep on hold for one week.

Step one in beating the Bills: to force Josh Allen to play situational football and hit short windows. This isn’t his game. If anything, the Bills' deep shot mentality makes it more difficult. If Allen is waiting an extra split second to see if a receiver is going to break a route deep, that only makes short timing windows harder to hit.  

But what about the Bills' defense?
They are the #1 scoring defense in the league. No team has scored more than 21 points on them. However, it appears the Bills are reliant on playing complimentary football. An interesting stat: When opponent scores 20 or more points, the Bills are 2-2.

Even more interesting, when an opponent scores 20 points, the Bills have had to rely on turnovers to keep pace. Here are the four games where opponents scored 20 or more points:

Bills lose to Dolphins 21-19 – Dolphins had no turnovers in this game

Bills over Ravens 23-20 – The Ravens had their opportunities in the second half, but Lamar Jackson threw two interceptions with the game tied on the Ravens last two drives.

Bills over Chiefs 24-20 – Mahomes threw two interceptions on the Chiefs' first and last drive of the game.

Bills lose to Jets 20-17 – A competent quarterback masquerading as Zach Wilson went 25 passing attempts without an interception.

Taking a look at those four interceptions by Jackson and Mahomes to look for themes:

Interception 1 (Jackson) – ball was thrown at the face of a defensive lineman and popped up for a tipped ball drill. Nothing to learn.

Interception 2 (Jackson) – This one is interesting. A 4th and goal from inside the 3 and Jackson tries to make a play, you can see the rush and Jackson dropping back to float a pass into the end zone that was easy pickings. Just looking at this play, knowing the quarterback is about to try to hit a receiver in the back right corner of the end zone; what do you think is going to happen? Exactly that happened. 



Maybe some lessons here?
1) take the points.
2) run from the 3-yard line
3) if you’re going to throw, make sure it’s a good play with a quick throw and you don’t have a QB try to go all street-ballin, that will just get you beat.
Let's see what the next interception shows about these three lessons

Interception 3 (Mahomes) – A scramble play by Mahomes. This ball was snapped from the left hash and he worked his way all the way across the field before floating it into the end zone against pressure. Many of the same lessons as Jackson’s second interception.



Interception 4 (Mahomes) – One of Mahomes patented side armed throws to get the ball around the defender to intended receiver Skyy Moore. Mahomes locked on Moore and didn’t notice Taron Johnson (just barely out of frame) waiting to jump the route.



The lesson here is very clear: you do not play street ball against the Bills defense, they will stay disciplined and take your ball and go home. The Vikings' passing game will have to be patient and take what is given.

It was when quarterbacks were trying to “make a play” that backbreaking interceptions happened. Given the power structure of the AFC, it makes perfect sense that the Bills defense would be focused on preparing for guys like Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes’ specific quirks. Teams haven't had to rely on explosive passing plays either: the Dolphins threw for 171 yards, Wilson threw for 154. It didn’t take a prolific passing attack to beat the Bills, just a disciplined one.

Looking at rush defense and the ability to play ball control. The Bills rush defense is ranked highly (No. 6) but they aren’t much better than mid pack in terms of yards per carry. They allow a 40% conversion rate on 3rd down (17th best). The Bills have a good defense, but it’s not impenetrable.

Step two to beating the Bills is to favor ball control offense and field position over any risky passes. Force the Bills back to step 1: playing situational football (which they aren’t great at).

Other advantages
In addition to those two steps, 1 – Take away the deep ball AND 2 – Play a disciplined offense, there are a lot of things ways the Vikings match up well.

Cousins is a risk averse QB who takes what the defense gives him.

The Vikings' defense is geared towards stopping big plays.

The Vikings' run defense is questionable, especially without Dalvin Tomlinson, but the Bills don’t have a strong running attack.

The Vikings are thin at corner, but the Bills don’t have much depth at receiver.

The Bills get most of their pressure from two edge rushers (Von Miller and Gregory Rousseau), but the Vikings have excellent tackles.

Both teams are good at creating turnovers, but the Vikings are better at not giving the ball away.

How to Beat the Bills
The Vikings tendencies match up better than many teams. The Vikings will correctly be underdogs, but if the Vikings offense can manage 21+ points in the form of two good drives and kick return or turnover, they should give themselves a good chance to win.

Note: this was posted before learning of Josh Allen's playing status for Sunday. I assume he will start, but if it's Case Keenum, his scramble and keep things alive profile doesn't change much.   Buffalo Bills wild west entertainment + Crazy Run and Shoot Mustache = Josh Allen. It doesn’t get any more fun than t
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Nov 12, 2022 16:06:48 GMT -6 0 Replies

The Minnesota Vikings spent most of the 1980s trying to return to the glory days of the previous decade. They weren’t successful. The 1980s included the most frustrating season of all my years with the team. 1984. The Les Steckel year. That one year felt like a decade. It was so bad that it brought Bud Grant out of retirement. The franchise icon returned the team to some degree of respectability and handed the keys to Jerry Burns. It’s what should’ve been done after the 1983 season. Burns made Vikings football fun again. The final years of the 1980s were the decade’s best years. In 1987, they damn near returned to the Super Bowl. Here’s a look at some of the best Vikings players of the 1980s.

Minnesota Vikings 1980s All-Decade Team

Offense

Quarterback
Tommy Kramer

If only Tommy Kramer could stay on the field. There may be no greater “what if” if Vikings franchise history. Kramer was drafted in the first round of the 1977 NFL Draft to be Fran Tarkenton’s successor. He assumed that role in 1979. When he was on the field, he was a fun, exciting quarterback. He was a daring gunslinger. He was Brett Favre before Brett Favre. Unfortunately, Kramer could not stay healthy. During his 13-year Vikings career, he played every game in a season only twice, 1979 and the strike-shortened 1982 seasons. If Tommy Kramer could stay on the field, the 1980s would’ve been a very different decade for the Vikings. He had the talent to be one of the league’s best quarterbacks.

Running Back
Darrin Nelson

This might be a controversial choice. The worst thing that Darrin Nelson did was not be Marcus Allen. The Vikings selected Nelson with the seventh pick of the 1982 NFL Draft. Allen was selected with the 10th pick and went on to a brilliant Hall of Fame career. All Nelson did was be a good back for a decade. He edges Ted Brown for this team.

Fullback
Rick Fenney

Rick Fenney was the Vikings lead blocker for the final three years of the decade. His production didn’t quite match that of his predecessor, Alfred Anderson, but he was the better blocker. Fenney did rush for 588 yards in 1989.

Wide Receivers
Anthony Carter
Ahmad Rashad

Anthony Carter is an easy choice. Cris Carter and Randy Moss cast a long shadow over the Vikings strong tradition of receivers. Anthony Carter isn’t far behind them. He was a brilliant football player. He broke 1,000 receiving yards each season from 1988-90. His best season was arguably 1987. He gained 922 yards on only 38 catches for a ridiculous 24.3 yards/reception. His performance against the San Francisco 49ers in the 1987 playoffs is one of the greatest in franchise history. Ahmad Rashad’s best years were the last half of the 1970s. He makes this team for his Pro Bowl years of 1980 and 1981.

Tight End
Steve Jordan

Steve Jordan is another easy choice. A member of the Vikings Ring of Honor, he’s arguably the best tight end in franchise history. In an era of emerging offensive production from the tight end position with the likes of Kellen Winslow and Ozzie Newsome, Jordan was one of the league’s best. While the best Vikings tight end of the 1980s is an easy choice, I must mention Joe Senser. In 1981, he caught 79 passes for 1,004 yards and eight touchdowns. He was incredible that year and his future was so bright. An injury in 1982 ended it all. He missed the entire 1983 season. He tried to come back in 1984 but his career was done. Senser had Canton-level potential.

Offensive Tackles
Gary Zimmerman
Tim Irwin

More easy choices. Gary Zimmerman is a Hall of Famer. Tim Irwin was the Vikings right tackle for nearly all of the 1980s. Zimmerman was great. Irwin was very good. Both are among the best players in franchise history.

Offensive Guards
Randall McDaniel
Terry Tausch

Randall McDaniel is one of the best guards to ever play. Terry Tausch was the Vikings right guard for about half of the 1980s. He edges out Jim Hough and Wes Hamilton.

Center
Dennis Swilley

Dennis Swilley had the unfortunate responsibility of replacing the great Mick Tingelhoff. The Vikings have a strong center tradition. It started with Tingelhoff. Swilley continued it. He was a very good center for most of the 1980s.

Defense

The Vikings used a 3-4 defense from 1981-84. I’m picking a 4-3 defense because it was used for the majority of the decade and because I prefer it. Or, maybe it’s just that the 4-3 is more familiar to me.

Defensive Ends
Chris Doleman
Doug Martin

Chris Doleman is an easy choice. He was a game-changing player and Hall of Famer. Doug Martin is one of the most underrated players in franchise history. He led the league with 11.5 sacks during the strike-shortened 1982 season. He had 13 sacks in 1983 and nine-sack seasons in 1986 and 1987. He was a terrific and somewhat forgotten pass rusher.

Defensive Tackles
Keith Millard
Henry Thomas

At the end of the 1980s, there was a second coming of the Purple People Eaters. One might even pose the sacrilege argument that the Vikings defensive line of the late 1980s was better than the original Purple People Eaters. The greatness of the late-1980s group was the dominance of the defensive tackles. Keith Millard was Aaron Donald-like in 1988 and 1989. In 1988, he was the runner-up for the Defensive Player of the Year award and was fifth in the voting for MVP. He was even better in 1989. He was the Defensive Player of the Year and was third in the voting for MVP. Millard and Doleman combined for 39 sacks in 1989. Henry Thomas quietly wrecked offenses. He was an immediate starter at nose tackle as a rookie in 1987. In 1989, he chipped in an impressive nine sacks. He was a very good player for 14 years (eight with the Vikings). His 93.5 career sacks and steady play should give him an argument for the Hall of Fame.

Linebackers
Matt Blair
Scott Studwell
Fred McNeill

Matt Blair and Scott Studwell are easy choices. Both are in the Vikings Ring of Honor. Both were team leaders and Pro Bowl players. With six consecutive Pro Bowls and an All-Pro nod, Blair was one of the league’s best outside linebackers for all of the early 1980s. Once he took over for the ageless Wally Hilgenberg, Fred McNeill put together a solid 12-year career.

Cornerbacks
Carl Lee
Najee Mustafaa

Carl Lee is an easy choice. He’s one of the best cornerbacks in Vikings franchise history. The other cornerback isn’t so easy. Issiac Holt is a contender. His eight interceptions in 1986 is a highlight. John Turner, Willie Teal, John Swain, Rufus Bess. There are several contenders. Najee Mustafaa emerged as the starter opposite Lee in 1988. For the next four seasons he was a very good second corner.

Safeties
Joey Browner
Tom Hannon

Joey Browner is an easy choice. He was a great football player. If injuries hadn’t started whittling away at his talents, he’d be in Canton. Even with an injury-shortened career, he has a strong argument for the Hall of Fame. Tom Hannon was one of my favorites for the entirety of his career. He had the unfortunate responsibility of replacing Paul Krause. Hannon was a solid starter for seven years.

Special Teams

Kicker
Chuck Nelson

Chuck Nelson edges out Rick Danmeier for the kicker spot simply by being the Vikings kicker for half the decade.

Punter
Greg Coleman

Greg Coleman is an easy choice as he was the Vikings punter from 1978-87. He was a fun punter. If punters can be fun.

Kick Returner
Eddie Payton

Walter Payton’s more talented brother gets the kick returner spot. His 1184 kick return yards in 1980 led the league. He had a 99-yard kick return touchdown in 1981.

Punt Returner
Leo Lewis

Leo Lewis was a fun football player. He was a solid receiving option for most of the 1980s. He wasn’t the Vikings dedicated punt returner until 1987. From 1987-89, he averaged over 10 yards per return with a touchdown. I don’t think that I watched a Vikings game during Lewis’ career when an announcer didn’t mention that Leo Lewis Sr. played for Bud Grant in Canada.












The Minnesota Vikings spent most of the 1980s trying to return to the glory days of the previous decade. They weren’t successful. The 1980s included the most frustrating season of all my years
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Nov 12, 2022 15:37:17 GMT -6 0 Replies
Not even the optimists had the Vikings coming in with a better record than the Bills in this one, yet here we are. Will the Bills be firing on all cylinders having lost to the Jets, or will the injury to Josh Allen throw the #1 favorite to win the Super Bowl into chaos? Will the Vikings' good luck continue? This will be an intriguing one to watch, whether Allen or Keenum plays.




Injury Report


Bills
QB Allen - Questionable
LB Edmunds - Questionable
SS Poyer - Out
DE Rousseau - Out
CB Elam - Doubtful


Vikings
CB Dantzler - Out
NT Tomlinson - Out


Line: Bills -3.5 (62% of bets on the Vikings)

Super Sim Calculated Line: BUF -0.5 with Allen, MIN -3 with Keenum

I ran out of time to do a full analysis, so I'll skip straight to the prediction:

Prediction: Bills 20, Vikings 16

Despite the injuries to several key Bills players, I think they will eek this one out. I wonder if they might attempt to establish their ground game going with Singletary with Tomlinson out. Even with Keenum at QB, Diggs should feast lining up against Evans with Peterson staying on his side of the field. The X-factor for them is Hines, of whom they just traded for and might start using in the passing game. Defensively this unit is still playing well even down their safety duo and top CB. White may play, but their CBs have survived the season and their D-line can do what Washington just did to ours. Add on top of that a better LB corps and better coaching, and I think we'll see the Vikings meet their match.

Any thoughts?Not even the optimists had the Vikings coming in with a better record than the Bills in this one, yet here we are. Will the Bills be firing on all cylinders having lost to the Jets, or will the
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Nov 5, 2022 15:25:29 GMT -6 7 Replies
The NFL's slate of games for December 17, 1978 looked like this:

New Orleans Saints @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
New York Giants @ Philadelphia Eagles
San Diego Chargers @ Houston Oilers
Kansas City Chiefs @ Seattle Seahawks
Green Bay Packers @ Los Angeles Rams
Dallas Cowboys @ New York Jets
Cleveland Browns @ Cincinnati Bengals
Buffalo Bills @ Baltimore Colts
Atlanta Falcons @ St. Louis Cardinals
San Francisco 49ers @ Detroit Lions
Minnesota Vikings @ Oakland Raiders

11 games. The Colts were still in Baltimore. The Cardinals were in St. Louis. Jim Hart had a terrific game in the Cardinals 42-21 win over the Falcons. NFL teams played 16 regular season games for the first time in 1978. This was the 16th week of the season. December 17, 1978 was the day that I attended my first NFL game. I was at the last one on the list. Minnesota Vikings @ Oakland Raiders. As an itty-bitty Vikings fan this was a momentous day. Despite the 27-20 loss. And the rain. It was glorious. I was able to see nearly all of my childhood heroes. Bud Grant, Fran Tarkenton, Jim Marshall, Chuck Foreman, Ahmad Rashad, Matt Blair, Paul Krause, Carl Eller, Ron Yary, Wally Hilgenberg, Bobby Bryant, Jeff Siemon, Sammy White. It was a damn shame that the Vikings felt compelled to release Alan Page earlier in the season. A damn, painful shame. It was an even greater shame when the Chicago Bears signed Page to their roster. The absence of Page from the Vikings roster hurt the day but didn't ruin it. This was the last regular season game of Tarkenton's career. Tingelhoff too. Eller played his last regular season game for the Vikings. He played one more year for the Seahawks. This was also the last game of John Madden's coaching career.

From a purely football perspective, the game was terrible. There was some rain. There was a lot of slipping. It seemed like the Vikings slipped more than the Raiders. Through mistakes of their own, the Vikings quickly spotted the Raiders a 21-0 lead. Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler didn't even play in the second half. Tarkenton threw five interceptions. The Vikings had seven turnovers in all. A fourth quarter comeback made it closer than the game really was. The Vikings actually had a chance to tie the game at the end but the officials refused to let them have a fifth down. It's odd how they try to avoid allowing a fifth down. Despite the loss, the Vikings still made the playoffs when the Packers lost to the Rams. The whole day was a dream. Still is.

The Oakland Raiders and Minnesota Vikings played in Super Bowl XI. That game didn't go the Vikings way either. Despite four Super Bowl losses the Vikings had been one of the best teams in the league for about a decade. Same with the Raiders. Unlike the Vikings, they had a Super Bowl win as proof of their football success. This game, and this season, was the beginning of the end of the Vikings dominant run. It was also the end of the Raiders run under Madden. Unlike the Vikings, the Raiders quickly rose again under new coach Tom Flores.

12 members of the 1978 Oakland Raiders have been inducted into the Pro Football of Fame:

Al Davis
John Madden
Ken Stabler
Gene Upshaw
Art Shell
Dave Casper
Fred Biletnikoff
Ted Hendricks
Willie Brown
Ray Guy
Tom Flores
Cliff Branch

Seven members of the 1978 Minnesota Vikings have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame:

Bud Grant
Fran Tarkenton
Ron Yary
Mick Tingelhoff
Alan Page
Carl Eller
Paul Krause

-Page was released during the 1978 season

I recently watched a recording of this memorable game. It felt like I was there all over again. Without the rain. George Allen and Jim Brown were teamed with Vin Scully to broadcast the game. That puts the Pro Football Hall of Fame count in the Oakland Coliseum that day at 20. A very respectable showing. Page should’ve made it 21.

Minnesota Vikings at Oakland Raiders on December 17, 1978 was one of those events and one of those days that stands out in a life. There was a dream-like quality to it even while it was happening. Every moment was longer. Everything was brighter. It was a cloudy, rainy day that neither looked nor felt like one. The day shined. It was beautiful. This week’s passing of Ray Guy has had me thinking a lot about this game and that day. During pre-game warmups, Guy launched a wild punt into the stands. My brother caught it. I was hoping that he’d make a run with the ball but he returned it to the security forces that were quickly circling him. Football finally felt real that day and I finally felt a part of it. From Al Davis and John Madden smoking cigarettes while checking the field’s pre-game footing to players milling about on the sideline to Ahmad Rashad catching touchdowns in our little corner of the field, it was all so close. So real. The Vikings had never before felt so real. It was a beautiful day. A kid should have dozens, hundreds of great days in all of their days as a kid. This day was one of those days that's so much better than the rest. The best day. It was a day when a kid saw nearly all of his heroes. As a fan of a team that played their games half of a country away I only knew them as little figures on a TV screen. That day, they were finally real. So real. For months before the game I slept with the tickets under my pillow. The day couldn't arrive soon enough. I didn't care that Christmas was a week away. This game was the only Christmas that I would ever need. NFL history will show December 17 as a slate of 11 games. For this little Vikings fan, it was so much more. Still is.
The NFL's slate of games for December 17, 1978 looked like this: New Orleans Saints @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers New York Giants @ Philadelphia Eagles San Diego Chargers @ Houston
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Nov 11, 2022 11:04:15 GMT -6 1 Replies


Episode 79 is out! It's a Happy Gilmore theme, and we discuss the Happy 'Vibe' surrounding the Vikings this year so far, update and continue our contests, and preview a tough match up against the Bills.

And for the Drewster's Millions segment, Ted's grandson Gabriel intros it, and did such a good job it's going to be the intro for that segment for the rest of the season. Give it a view, then like and subscribe if you haven't already!https://youtu.be/nEA17cvwRcE Episode 79 is out! It's a Happy Gilmore theme, and we discuss the Happy 'Vibe' surrounding the Vikings this year so far, update and continue our contests, and
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Nov 1, 2022 12:09:48 GMT -6 10 Replies


The Vikings “get” to travel to the worst stadium in the NFL. And good news! It turns out it wasn’t even raw sewage pouring on the fans, only fetid rainwater that, for some reason, they stored for a sunny day in case fans were too happy, so… yay!

The Commanders went and won three is a row, so I guess I have to write an actual preview rather than post dumpster fire memes. Looking at stats and watching Commanders games I have several things that I noticed before I get to the key to the game:

1. Curtis Samuel is the Washington gadget player getting a lot of carries on things like jet sweeps, misdirections, screens, and short crosses. I investigated if slowing him down or ignoring him has any correlation with the Commanders winning or losing, it doesn’t. Don’t panic if he gets 70-90 total yards; that’s normal.

2. It’s kind of unbelievable that a single franchise has all 3 of the top 3 dumbest team names in NFL history.

3. The Commanders are also pretty good at covering franticly hopeless lateral plays. I’m not sure if this will relevant to Vikings game plan, I just wanted to get this in :


Fun fact, there were 5 laterals on the last play of the Packers v Commanders game, only one of them was illegally thrown forward: Aaron Rodgers’.

A Profile of Taylor Heinicke



Heinicke has certainly been an X factor in the last two Washington seasons. This year he’s come in and beat two teams in the Packers and Colts that even if they aren’t great, at least have delusions of adequacy. So, I started my game review looking for ways to beat Heinicke. It turns out Heinicke isn’t a bad QB, he just doesn’t have very much arm strength. Watching him was a lot like watching Teddy Bridgewater in Week 6 vs the Dolphins. His passes are almost exclusively three types:

- Check downs to RBs
- Short to mid crossing routes
- Rainbow balls deep downfield

These throws he can often hit with reasonably good accuracy. For example, this absolute gem of a 37-yard touchdown pass to Terry McLaurin over Jaire Alexander.



That’s good coverage and a small window right up against the sideline and Heinicke dropped it in beautifully. His problem is that without a deep out throw in his arsenal, defenses don’t have to cover as much of the field and the deep routes are easier to cover. The Vikings have generally been good at covering this type of bomb this year.  It's also important to remember that Heinicke can and has hit this throw; if he does, there's not much a defense can do about a perfectly thrown pass to a receiver with good hands - but one or two of these shouldn't cost the Vikings the game because the rest of the Commanders performance has been so inconsistent.

Next aspect of his game: Heinicke is another mobile QB, and like Hurts, Fields, and Murray he has his own unique running style. He’s not nearly as dangerous as those three guys, but I think he does have one advantage over those guys: Heinicke’s first instinct is to step forward in the pocket and run straight ahead. This means he gets a few extra steps to find a receiver as he starts his scramble – which he does with some regularity because he is also good at keeping his eyes downfield.

The Vikings clearly have the better QB in the game, but Heinicke isn’t without strengths. Because of Heinicke’s tendency to throw over the middle, a delayed pass rush up the middle could be a good way to wreck his day.

Key to the game

Vikings running backs need to outplay the Washington backs. This doesn’t mean more yards. In order, what I want to see is:
#1 – The ability of a back to pass protect AND pass rush getting past the extra blocker
#2 – The ability of a back to be a safety check down in the passing game AND cover backs in the passing game
#3 – Running with the ball

The Commanders have a very interesting tendency – they throw to backs a lot on offense and on defense they are very aggressive at covering backs out of the backfield. Here are a few looks that caught my eye.

The Colts are running a play action on this play. The first reason I picked this play is because the Commander linebackers bit hard on the play action, but when the play revealed itself to be a pass, they didn’t drop off.



After the play action, the Colts quarterback had time to complete the handoff and look downfield, at this point I see two things: First, the Commander linebackers are still right on top of the offensive linemen. I count all seven defenders from the Commanders front seven still in the box. Second, a safety has proactively made a hard break towards the expected safety outlet, RB Jonathan Taylor. The safety wasn’t lined up here, he didn’t break on the back until the back came out into the flat for a pass, then he closed down 7-10 yards on Taylor at a dead sprint; there was immediate recognition that there was a high likelihood the Colts would need to check down. The throw went to Taylor anyway and he was stopped for no gain. I think Taylor would have been better served picking up the rusher and giving the Colts a shot at a deeper pass.

Next play, I wanted to know if these linebackers would just stick close to the line of scrimmage on play action. This vs the Packers:



Again the linebackers aren’t that deep despite no play action threat. More interesting is what linebacker Jamin Davis did in coverage; he completely ignored the tight end #85 Robert Tonyan as Tonyan ran past and tracked Aaron Jones before the pass was thrown. In this snap, it looks like Tonyan might be covered, it baited Rodgers into the check down that Davis was already lining up for the tackle. The result of this play was a check down to Aaron Jones for a 5-yard loss. There were a ton of options for a play like this: shallow LBs + tightly covered check-down back. One last straight drop back, the Commanders are so focused on not letting the backs get the ball, they leave open the part of the field where Justin Jefferson feasts.



Even when the Packers tried to get a pass to a running back, it didn’t work. Seeing this trend of tracking RBs in the passing game, this example was a fascinating chess match. The Packers put both Jones and Dillon in the backfield (shotgun flanking each side of Rodgers); both ran a route through the same left off tackle hole:



Rodgers looked left like the Packers wanted to get a pass to Jones or Dillon. Both were tightly covered as defenders turned and ran with both of them. Rodgers had to look away to a tight end on the other side of the field.

Commanders running backs on offense
Switching gears, not only do the Commanders cover running backs in the passing game with near religious fervor, they also utilize their backs in the passing game. A lot. Here is a percentage of which teams throw most often to their RB1 + RB2. Vikings are included for comparison. Eagles are included as a low-end comparison as they very rarely throw to RBs.



The Commanders throw more frequently to the backs than teams like the Chargers and Saints who have pass catching savants in their backfields. Does this mean the Commanders are productive on throws to running backs? Not particularly, yards/reception and catch % don’t stand out as notable. But whatever the reason (my best guess: their other players stink), it's important to know they do it a lot so the Vikings need to be prepared for it.

How to Beat the Commanders: Win the running back chess match.
Step one: Accept that the Commanders won’t let Cook or Mattison get anything in the passing game; the Vikings need someone else as a safety outlet. Once they have made their piece with that reality, Cook and Mattison will have to do other things, particularly pick up rushers from an aggressive front. They will also have to sell the play action. They can also pull defenders out of the middle of the field as decoys, that could be extremely valuable. If they do these things, there should be space behind the Washington linebackers for medium passes.

On defense, the Commanders will be taking the opposite approach, looking to pass the ball to their own backs. If the Vikings can give the Commanders a taste of their own medicine and take that away, the Vikings should gain an advantage because Washington relies on that play so much more.  
The Vikings “get” to travel to the worst stadium in the NFL. And good news! It turns out it wasn’t even raw sewage
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Oct 23, 2022 0:42:39 GMT -6 19 Replies
With the Vikings on bye, let's have a look around the NFC! Here is a visual I made with each team's records and injuries to their starters:



The Eagles and Vikings are certainly enjoying healthy while some other teams are getting destroyed. How long will the good and bad luck last? 


Now let's go through each team and get a pulse on the fanbases.


Eagles

I have little to report here, as the Eagles are undefeated and will face little adversity in the near future (they play the Steelers, Texans, and Commies). Only the Cowboys, Giants, and Colts (frankly I can't believe they have a winning record) are the teams left on their schedule with a winning record. This feels reminiscent of 2017, where the Eagles won the #1 seed and the Vikings won the #2 seed... is that what we're looking at for 2022?

Giants

All is well here, as the brand-spanking new regime in New York has reflected how the Vikings have fared. HC Brian Daboll has worked wonders with little in the cupboard, and Giants fans have responded with a 99% confidence rate in a poll. However, only 28% voted that clinching the playoffs is a requirement for a successful season... can't blame them for their low confidence, but c'mon! Demand excellence, New York!

One storyline I will be watching is QB Daniel Jones, as he will be hitting free agency in 2023. He's been mediocre once again, but the Giants might be deluded into extending him for way too much money, or sinking far too much of their cap into a franchise tag. It's been my opinion for a while that the NFL needs QB middle class contracts, and Jones would fit that bill.


Cowboys

Dak returns this weekend, and while some fans debate how the offense will look (the Cooper Rush acolytes have mostly dispersed), here is their confidence meter:




Packers

After a second straight loss to a New York team that was supposed to be bad, the latest matchup is being billed as "A Packers loss to Washington would be particularly embarrassing". Let's hope the Packers keep up the incompetence and Rodgers finishes his career on a very disappointing note!


Falcons

Off to a 3-3 start, the Falcons have covered the line in all 6 of their matchups. The fans are pleased:



I find it hard to believe they will be able to maintain this pace with a bottom 5 roster, but this year has been a weird one!



Buccaneers



Tampa's 3-3 start has the fans concerned. Very, very concerned.



With all of the drama circling around the team with Brady, injuries abound, and the elephant in the room - that Bowles has a poor track record as a HC and doesn't appear to be doing a great job so far. With the rest of the NFC scuffling, there is plenty of time to rebound, but the Bucs are covered in red flags when they should usually be black. Or maroon?


Seahawks


I called Seahawks fans delusional for thinking Geno Smith would be able to replace Russell Wilson, and 6 games in it looks like I'm wrong!



Fans think they will either finish 1st or 2nd in the division, which feels generous but the rest of the NFC West has underwhelmed to this point. Another intriguing talking point is 4th rounder CB Tariq Woolen - a 99.99% percentile athlete who has 4 picks and looks like an absolute stud despite his struggles in college. Their draft class has been paying the dividends so far, but it's hard to believe that Geno will be their QB for the foreseeable future.


49ers


"The 49ers’ move for Christian McCaffrey signals ‘Super Bowl or Bust’" - with tons of draft capital sunk into Trey Lance and McCaffrey, the 49ers are trying to take the Rams' approach to win a Super Bowl now. We'll get to see them face off against the Chiefs and they will have their studs in the trenches (LT Williams, DE Bosa) back on the field.


Rams


The Rams are a disaster on offense so far, partly of their own making and partly due to injuries. Their OL had a stick of dynamite inserted into it and exploded - their LT, LG, C, and RG are out and even a backup IOL is on the IR. They are down to starting UDFAs Alaric Jackson and Jeremiah Kolone, guys who are practice squad talents at best. Add in the fact that they sunk $15M a year into a washed-up Allen Robinson, and it's been a recipe for Stafford to look cooked again. The fans haven't quit yet:



The NFC is so weak the Rams could rebound, but unlike the 49ers I don't think they have it in them this year. Good thing they won it all last year!


Commies


Things are dire, which should be to nobody's surprise. Even as early as Week 4, a poll asking who should start at QB finished with Heinicke (54%), then Wentz and Howell tying at 24%. Not many fans have been drinking the maroon Kool-Aid and are already done with Wentz. Hey, at least they didn't give him a massive extention like a certain other QB who was traded... meanwhile, owner Dan Snyder is hogging the headlines, and perhaps his departure will give the fans some hope.


Cardinals


I really don't like watching the Cardinals, Kyler Murray hasn't been the same since he looked like a top 5 QB in the first half of the 2021 season and Kliff Kingsbury is a clown. The fans have seen enough:



Of course, management just gave Kingsbury an extension through 2027 and Murray is going to be paid like he's Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen for several years... have fun digging out of that pit, Arizona!


Saints


I will sum them up in a single tweet:




With Brees and Payton gone, there's no reason to spin the tires like this. New Orleans should burn this roster to the ground and start over, as floundering around like they are now is not going to lead to anything more than postponing the inevitable.


Panthers


The tire fire is open for business, and the Panthers look primed to land the 1st overall pick in the 2023 draft and they'll have some additional draft capital. Will they be willing to move guys like Derrick Brown, DJ Moore, and Brian Burns? And who will be their HC in 2023? My choice would be an offensive-minded coach like Byron Leftwich or Kellen Moore.


Lions


After a pinch of optimism over the offseason had the Lions fans excited, reality sunk in. Dan Campbell isn't a good coach and the roster still isn't close to being ready. The defense is garbage:




And they don't have a franchise QB. The offense is running well right now, but is Jared Goff, the poor man's Kirk Cousins, ever going to make a difference when push comes to shove? Despite the high draft picks the team has made, the team isn't seeing dividends. Aidan Hutchinson only has a sack in one game so far, CB Jeff Okudah has been brutal up until now, and Penei Sewell is a good RT, but RTs aren't the hardest to find. Maybe Jameson Williams will be a game-changer once he's healthy?


Bears


Bears fans shouldn't be disappointed with what's happened so far, this should have been the expectation. The new regime has let Fields out to dry with only the RB unit being passable by NFL standards. The receiving corps is a joke, and the OL is impeding his ability to develop as a passer. Despite this being apparent in the offseason, the new regime has a 41% success rate. This is a full rebuild and it will take time. This team was never going anywhere with the number of veterans moved without credible replacements.


Alright, that's enough from me, what are your thoughts?With the Vikings on bye, let's have a look around the NFC! Here is a visual I made with each team's records and injuries to their starters:
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Nov 5, 2022 14:27:13 GMT -6 1 Replies
The Vikings come cruising in at 6-1 with a 5 game winning streak, but the Commies are also on a 3 game win streak as Taylor Heinicke has lead the team to a few comeback victories. Can the Vikings take care of business in Washington and meet the Bills next week both having 7-1 records?



Injury Report

Commies
WR Dotson - Out
LB Holcomb - Out
LB Mayo - Out
DE Toney - Questionable
RB McKissic - Out


Vikings
CB Dantzler - Questionable
WR Nailor - Questionable
NT Tomlinson - Out

Line: Vikings -3 (53% of bets on Commies)
Super Sim Calculated Line: Vikings -10.5

*My thoughts*

The Commanders have taken an unexpected turn as of late. It shouldn't be a surprise that Carson Wentz stunk and then got hurt, but them going on a 3 game winning streak even though Heinicke's play has been quite shaky has been unexpected. PFF has not liked his play, but they're 9-8 with him as starter and there's no question he has some clutchness in him. The Vikings have been able to force turnovers quite well this year, and could be able to intercept a couple passes. Washington's run game has been shaky, as they've inserted rookie Brian Robinson Jr in after being shot. He's been a below average runner while Antonio Gibson, who's by far the better player, has been getting underutilized. With McKissic out, Gibson has been fairly productive in the passing game.

The receiving weapons are shaky outside of McLaurin, yet again. First rounder Jahan Dotson is hurt, meaning that Curtis Samuel and Logan Thomas will need to continue to step up. After a 2021 season lost to injury, Samuel has game-breaking upside with the ball in his hands, but he hasn't made a whole lot happen downfield. Thomas hasn't been quite the same since an ACL tear last year. Dyami Brown will likely suit up as the third receiver, but he's been woefully unproductive in his short NFL career after being a 3rd round pick. They've also used the 6'5" Cam Sims plenty the past few weeks, but usually more as a blocker.

Outside of LT, Washington's OL is a shaky unit. Leno has rebounded after Chicago cut him after they thought they were paying him too much, but the Bears appear to have made the wrong move there. Washington has been able to have him play for cheaper than the average LT. Norwell is a fine blocker, but still not what he used to be for the Panthers several years back. They're on their 4th center after Roullier and Schweitzer went down, and they've landed on Larsen over Martin, but both are underwhelming options. Turner is another veteran stopgap (another guard who started under Rivera in Carolina) and is closer to below average, especially as a pass protector. I don't know what's happening at RT, as Cosmi seems to have been benched despite him being a quality player after spending a 2nd rounder on him last year. Maybe he's not fully healthy, as Lucas is still starting in front of him despite being a lesser player.

Defensively, this unit is playing like I thought they would in 2021 (as they were a huge disappointment). Even with Chase Young out, they've been able to rush the passer and defend the pass quite well. It starts with the front four, with Sweat, Payne, and Allen all being great pressure-makers. Obada has been an underrated rotational rusher as well. They're not stopping the run quite as well, giving up a 4.6 YPC, and several members on the DL have poor run defense grades. The LB department is vulnerable, and while Jamin Davis is playing better in Year 2, he's still suspect to missing tackles and being out of place in coverage. With the emerging Holcomb injured, they'll likely field Bostic as the other every-down LB. The key to beating this defense is running the ball right at them where they are weak, and passing off that success. 

The safeties are the key to Washington's success, as 4th rounder Darrick Forrest has come out of nowhere to be a fantastic contributor as an explosive tackler and a solid cover guy. They've made him their 3rd LB and nickel CB (basically what we hoped Cine would be by this point) and they've been able to let McCain stay as the free safety and Curl retain his SS role. Right now, Curl is the highest rated safety by PFF's standards. The 7th rounder could be in for a lucrative extension with the way he's played. The CB position looks like a weakness, especially after trading William Jackson III away, but they've been able to hold serve so far. Kendall Fuller isn't a great #1 CB, but he's been a consistently above average CB for several years and can man the slot if need be. St. Juste has been a liability early on in his career, though I thought he was a questionable 3rd round pick in 2021. Wildgoose has been playing some snaps as a slot / dime CB and hasn't graded super well.

Prediction: Vikings 23, Commies 20

This feels like a cop-out, but I just can't pick the Vikings to lose when they have the superior roster and coaches. I think Washington's luck has been more unsustainable than the Vikings', plus the Vikings are just better in the trenches. Perhaps Tomlinson's injury starts to open the ground game for Washington, but I don't think that will be enough for them to move the ball consistently.

Thoughts?
The Vikings come cruising in at 6-1 with a 5 game winning streak, but the Commies are also on a 3 game win streak as Taylor Heinicke has lead the team to a few comeback victories. Can the Vikings
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Nov 4, 2022 10:40:26 GMT -6 0 Replies

News team, assemble!!! Episode 78 is out! We mourn the loss of Adam Zimmer, discuss the TJ Hockenson trade and other trade deadline news, preview the Commanders game, trivia, contests, and more! Join us!

News team, assemble!!! Episode 78 is out! We mourn the loss of Adam Zimmer, discuss the TJ Hockenson trade and other trade deadline news, preview the Commanders game, trivia, contests, and more
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Oct 28, 2022 11:26:04 GMT -6 1 Replies
Episode 77 of Vikings Report is out! We talk Vikings news, preview the Cardinals game, our contests roll on, trivia, and Ferris Bueller. What more could you want!!


Episode 77 of Vikings Report is out! We talk Vikings news, preview the Cardinals game, our contests roll on, trivia, and Ferris Bueller. What more could you want!! https://www
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Oct 29, 2022 12:36:09 GMT -6 2 Replies
The Minnesota Vikings created a Ring of Honor in 1998 to honor franchise legends. Over the past 24 years, 21 players, three coaches, one general manager, and one trainer have been inducted into the prestigious group. At halftime of tomorrow’s game against the Arizona Cardinals, former defensive end Jared Allen will become the 22nd player, seventh defensive lineman, and 27th member of the Vikings Ring of Honor.

The Vikings beat Canton to post-career honors for a player that terrorized quarterbacks during a 13-year career. The best and most important of those 13 years were the six that he played in Minnesota. Allen made the Pro Bowl four times during those six years. It should’ve been all six. He was named All-Pro three times. He was runner-up for the Defensive Player of the Year award in 2011. He should’ve won the award as his 22 sacks topped all of the wonderful things that Terrell Suggs did that year. Allen was fifth in the voting for the award in 2009. His 22 sacks in 2011 were an agonizing half-sack short of the NFL record.

His yearly sack totals for the Vikings

2008: 14.5
2009: 14.5
2010: 11
2011: 22
2012: 12
2013: 11.5

His four career safeties is an NFL record. He’s tied with three players. The Vikings got the better of the 2008 trade with the Kansas City Chiefs that brought Allen to Minnesota. By far.

Allen was a fantastic football player. It was only part of what he was for the Vikings and his community. Tomorrow, he’ll take his much deserved place as one of the best players in Vikings franchise history. His next post-career stop will be Canton.

Minnesota Vikings Ring of Honor

Fran Tarkenton, Quarterback (1998)
Alan Page, Defensive Tackle (1998)
Jim Finks, General Manager (1998)
Bud Grant, Head Coach (1998)
Paul Krause, Safety (1998)
Fred Zamberletti, Athletic Trainer (1998)
Jim Marshall, Defensive End (1999)
Ron Yary, Offensive Tackle (2001)
Korey Stringer, Offensive Tackle (2001)
Mick Tingelhoff, Center (2001)
Carl Eller, Defensive End (2002)
Cris Carter, Wide Receiver (2003)
Bill Brown, Fullback (2004)
Jerry Burns, Offensive Coordinator/Head Coach (2005)
Randall McDaniel, Guard (2006)
Chuck Foreman, Running Back (2007)
John Randle, Defensive Tackle (2008)
Scott Studwell, Linebacker (2009)
Chris Doleman, Defensive End (2011)
Matt Blair, Linebacker (2012)
Joey Browner, Safety (2013)
Randy Moss, Wide Receiver (2017)
Ahmad Rashad, Wide Receiver (2017)
Dennis Green, Head Coach (2018)
Steve Jordan, Tight End (2019)
Kevin Williams, Defensive Tackle (2021)
Jared Allen, Defensive End (2022)

Who’s next?

As soon as the congratulations and acknowledgements fade for an honor like this, the question is always asked. Who’s next? It’s inevitable. Jared Allen’s name hasn’t even been officially dropped inside of US Bank Stadium and I’m asking it here. I’ve thought about this question a time or two, maybe more, since Allen was surprised with the honor during training camp. So, who should be the 28th member of the Vikings Ring of Honor?

Whether it’s the Pro Football Hall of Fame or the Minnesota Vikings Ring of Honor, my first thought for “next” is the player that’s been waiting the longest. In this case, I can’t help but think about Grady Alderman. He’s an original Viking and one of the most underrated players in franchise history. From 1961 to 1973, he was the team’s left tackle. He was very good. At times, he was great. He went to six Pro Bowls and received a few All-Pro nods. From 1969-73, Alderman and Ron Yary formed one of the league’s best tackle duos.

Now, I’m not saying that Grady Alderman should be next. I’m just saying that he deserves serious consideration. The list for “next” is long. Here’s a stab at some of the contenders.

Grady Alderman
Bobby Bryant
Jeff Siemon
Sammy White
Tommy Kramer
Anthony Carter
Carl Lee
Keith Millard
Gary Zimmerman
Henry Thomas
Ed McDaniel
Jake Reed
Todd Steussie
Robert Smith
Robert Griffith
Matt Birk
Daunte Culpepper
Antoine Winfield
Pat Williams
Chad Greenway
Steve Hutchinson
Adrian Peterson

My short(er) list probably looks something like this:

Grady Alderman
Tommy Kramer
Keith Millard
Gary Zimmerman
Antoine Winfield
Steve Hutchinson

If I were to be so bold as to guess the 28th member of the Minnesota Vikings Ring of Honor, that guess would be Steve Hutchinson. I’d like to see Tommy Kramer, Keith Millard, and Antoine Winfield take their much-deserved place in the Ring soon but I think that Hutchinson will be the next pick of those that actually make the pick. The Vikings great guard was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2020. A Ring of Honor induction has often preceded or followed a Canton induction. For that reason, and the fact that he deserves it, Hutchinson is an easy pick for “next.”

What’s up with the Gary Zimmerman-Minnesota Vikings relationship? He was an easy Hall of Famer. He was brilliant for the Vikings. He always seemed to be in complete control of his area of the field. Despite playing his best years and the majority of his career in Minnesota, it’s always felt like he’s more aligned with the Denver Broncos. A bitter contract dispute led to the trade that sent Zimmerman to Denver. I’m guessing that some bitterness remains. It’s the only thing that explains his Ring of Honor absence. He’s one of the best players in Vikings franchise history.

For now, and until the 28th member of the Minnesota Vikings Ring of Honor is announced, congratulations Jared Allen on a much-deserved honor.

The Minnesota Vikings created a Ring of Honor in 1998 to honor franchise legends. Over the past 24 years, 21 players, three coaches, one general manager, and one trainer have been inducted into the
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Oct 28, 2022 22:58:58 GMT -6 3 Replies
Off to a roaring 5-1 start, the Vikings face two below .500 teams before facing the mighty Bills. Will they continue their streak of sloppily taking out the trash, or is this a trap week? Or finally a blowout week?




Injury Report

Vikings
DE Bullard - Questionable


Cardinals
RB Connor - Out
LG Garcia - Out
C Hudson - Out
CB Matthew - Out
LT Humphries - Questionable
CB Murphy - Questionable
K Prater - Questionable
RB Williams - Questionable

Line: Vikings -3.5 (75% of bets on Cardinals)
Super Sim Calculated Line: Vikings -4


*My Thoughts*

The Cardinals have had a rough season so far, and the offense is not where it should be with the amount of money and years Arizona has handed out to Kingsbury and Murray. Most games they are a complete no-show in the first half, and have to rally in the second half just to put points on the board. Murray simply hasn't been the same player that he was in the first half of 2021, as his accuracy has dropped off and teams have been cracking down on his scrambling. Still, with the way our defense is giving up yards, the Cardinals will have plenty of chances to score points. It'll mostly be through the air, as their running game has been rough outside of QB runs. Conner is out and Williams likely won't play, but Eno Benjamin, a 2020 7th rounder, has shown some burst as he's averaging 4.6 yards per carry.

The main problem has been a bad offensive line, and I can't quite remember the last time I saw a unit with one above average player, and all below average and abysmal players. DJ Humphries is a solid blindside blocker who has been elite this year as a pass blocker. Beachum is a middling RT who is usually better in the run department. The main problem has been the interior, which has been ravaged by injuries, but it was poorly constructed in the first place. They acquired two 2nd round busts that Vikings fans should be familiar with - Cody Ford and Will Hernandez. Both appear to be in line to start, but they are both bad run blockers, while Hernandez is servicable against the pass while Ford is horrid. Hudson wasn't playing well before getting hurt, and they brought in a 1st round bust to fill that spot in Billy Price. He rebounded with the Giants last year after being unplayable with the Bengals, but he's still not good. Their interior is literally is reunion of IOL prospects we scouted, except they all stink!

At receiver, the Cardinals looked to have a lethal duo with Hopkins and Hollywood Brown, but the later suffered a foot injury and won't be back til late December. Hopkins looked great last week and will be a problem for whichever CB he goes up against, and he could play in the slot. I'd try to get Peterson on him, but the Vikings usually keep their CBs on one side. Rondale Moore is a speedy athlete, but he's been ineffective at anything other than flat and screen passes. He did have a career game against us last year. Robbie Anderson is a wildcard, he has the ability to be a quality deep receiver but has problems with drops - he had a 4 drop game against us last year! Zach Ertz isn't what he used to be, but he's not bad and could have a big day against our LBs in coverage. I wonder if 2nd rounder McBride might start to get more usage.

On defense, the Cardinals are 27th in points allowed and are filled with average players. Their run defense has been clutch, and this year it's been lead by fourth year breakout Zach Allen, whom after three disappointing seasons is dominating. PFF still likes Watt, but he's not close to what he was in his prime, though he is still a great run defender. The others on the DL are not notable, and mostly stuff the run over bringing an interior rush. Arizona's pass rush has been feeble this year, with Watt leading with 2.5 sacks. They miss Chandler Jones (though he's not doing much for the Raiders), as Markus Golden is a nice player but not good enough to be a #1 pass rusher. Zaven Collins has split some time at edge rusher (a la what we dreamed Anthony Barr could be) and has been fine, with 2 sacks and 8 pressures. The depth consisting of Dimukeje and Gardeck (who has played well in a small sample size) is not going to get it done against the big boys. Isaiah Simmons has been an average LB, but nothing close to what he was hyped up as a prospect coming out of Clemson.

The CB group is incredibly vulnerable, while the safeties are very solid. Byron Murphy is a solid starting CB in a zone scheme, but doesn't have the speed to go up against most receivers 1-on-1. Meanwhile, Marco Wilson has been getting shredded in coverage, but they have no depth behind him. Hamilton is a career backup who is getting his first extended chance (in his 7th year!) and has held his own reasonably well, but with CB being a problem for years, they've simply continued to neglect it. They do have a special player in Budda Baker, of whom I think PFF undersells. He's a Harrison Smith type who can be a force in the box and blitz a bit, but can cover deep downfield if need be. Jalen Thompson is highly underrated, as a solid coverage safety and an elite tackler.

Prediction: Vikings 31, Cardinals 26

It is about time the Vikings put 30+ up on a team, and the Cardinals are a prime candidate. However, I think their offense clicks against our defense and mounts a second half comeback that falls short. When push comes to shove, the Vikings should win this one in the trenches with the weaknesses on their OL and their inability to rush the passer. Arizona will need to blitz, thus allowing our receivers to get open, while the Vikings should be able to get to Murray with their front four. I fully expect a 3 to 7 point victory with the way the Cardinals play in the second half of games.

Any thoughts?Off to a roaring 5-1 start, the Vikings face two below .500 teams before facing the mighty Bills. Will they continue their streak of sloppily taking out the trash, or is this a trap week? Or finally
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Oct 25, 2022 19:19:04 GMT -6 16 Replies
The Vikings have to take this game seriously because Kyler Murray is definitely going to thumb through the game plan after one last round of Call of Duty ... maybe two... three at most.



The Cardinals have an interesting split that I have to start with:
Record when getting two or more interceptions: 2-0
Record when getting zero interceptions: 1-4 (The one win was an overtime victory over the 2-4 Raiders when the Cardinals returned a fumble for a touchdown in overtime, so not a convincing win)
Games with exactly one interception: 0

The first question is: how did the Cardinals get these interceptions, and how do the Vikings avoid them? I looked at all five of the Cardinals' interceptions to see if there was a defensive trend.

Interception 1 – This is a deep throw to D.J. Moore. Baker Mayfield’s pass was way behind Moore, who tipped it to a lurking safety. The announcer said, “He had him [open for the completion]!” but this looks like pretty good defense to me. The interception was lucky off a tip, but this was a small window on a deep out. Some credit to the defense for making a small window, but the interception was lucky.



Interception 2 – Here you can see Mayfield doing one of the worst things a quarterback can do: Being 6-foot-1. The throw was open but never got there.




Interception 3 – Andy Dalton thinks this is “open.” You can form your own opinion. If you’re having trouble reading the number on that receiver, that’s intended for Marquez Callaway.



With two guys around Callaway, you might wonder if there was a better option for Dalton or if this was the best there was amid smothering defense, there was a better option.



Interception 4 – Here Callaway is back deciding if he should catch the ball or tip it to a Cardinals defender; he chose the latter.



Interception 5
– Pressure forces bad decisions. Dalton tries to hit Olave on a cross but leaves the pass woefully short, leading to a pick 6. Juwan Johnson and Alvin Kamara were both open.



My conclusion on Arizona's interceptions is that the Cardinals are doing what the Vikings do and taking away deep passes first. Numbers one, three, and five are all deep shots that go wrong with better, open options shorter. The second and fourth examples are just tipped balls. There isn't any magic or scheme here, the Cardinals just benefitted from a few egregiously bad throws and tipped balls. The good news is the Vikings haven’t been falling into the trap of forcing deep balls. This is good news, but it’s just O'Connell running his normal offense. That means that the key to beating Arizona looks like it will be on the Cardinals' offense vs. Vikings' defense because a key to the game has to be something interesting or unique.


Cardinals Passing Game Breakdown
I pointed this out with Jalen Hurts: “running” QBs are passers first and runners second. Stopping a mobile quarterback will almost always come down to shutting down their ability to throw the ball. Want proof? Here is Murray’s passer rating and rush yards per attempt in 2021 and 2022:


Stopping Murray’s passing will be the key. More good news, the Cardinals are already slowing themselves down. When I looked into the Cardinals and Murray’s history, I was shocked at how much of a drop off there has been in explosiveness. Here are Murray’s Passing yards per completion and Air Yards Per completion:

2019: 6.9 (Yards per Attempt ) / 5.4 (Air Yards per Completion)
2020: 7.1 / 5.9
2021: 7.9 / 6.0
2022: 5.9 / 4.3 (Second lowest in the league, ahead of only the Packers)

Knowing that Murray can scramble to set up a pass, the next thing I started to dig into seeing if there are tricks or trends to his mobility. One of the great oversimplifications in football is “He’s a running QB,” as if QBs can be boiled down to a box score or Madden speed rating. The reality is that QB runs, especially scrambles, are high-pressure plays where individual human quirks can be found.

So where does Kyler Murray run? I started with nextgenstats.nfl.com/ looking for something like this (but for Murray).



Turns out that AWS doesn’t track runs for QBs. So next gen stats can tell me who can run 19.73 mph and when I might need more cat food, but not which direction Kyler Murray runs. I’ll do this the hard way. Step 1: Find which games are interesting by looking at his rush totals:



I chose Carolina because they held him to a really low yards per carry. Seattle because they didn’t, and Philadelphia as a confirmation to Seattle.

Now I have to warn you, prepare yourself for a picture that is much uglier than AWS, but maybe, more interesting. I watched those three games and estimated Murray’s runs.
Light Blue vs. Carolina
Black vs. Eagles
Puke vs. Seahawks
Gray: called back due to penalty
Red: Touchdown



This was way more useful than a chart because, while watching, I realized three things that are critical for the Vikings to stop Murray:

1) Murray almost always scrambles to his right. The only times he runs left is if he has no other choice. Additionally, Murray has taken sacks looking to run right before realizing his only out is left.
2) Murray scrambles around the outside. He rarely scrambles up the middle.
3) Designed runs for Murray almost always go up the middle. On that chart, the lines that start going straight upfield are almost exclusively called QB runs.

It turns out the Seahawks and Eagles were both victims of that third trend. They both allowed draw plays to beat them up the middle. This is a very different challenge to stop than week 2 vs the Eagles when Jalen Hurts ran almost exclusively outside. If you take nothing else away from this article, you can be confident that Jalen Hurts and Kyler Murray are, in fact, different people.

With the Cardinals’ passing game is significantly less explosive this year than in prior years. Their run game isn’t different enough to make me think of that as a differentiator. If the Vikings can force a few negative plays, the Cardinals' offense will be hard-pressed to dig out of a hole. Even with Marquise Brown out, Rondale more is a capable enough running mate to Deandre Hopkins. Patrick Peterson did a great job on Hopkins in 2021, so I think this is a plus matchup for the Vikings. The key will be to prevent Murray from buying time to hit big plays.

How to Beat the Cardinals
I’m going to trust that the offense can do their jobs. The Cardinals are 27th in both yards and points allowed, and from what I saw, their generation of turnovers was as much opponents shooting themselves in the foot as it was good defense.

The key to the game will be to stop Murray from making explosive plays with his legs. There is where his running tendency can be exploited in two ways:

1) Be prepared for designed, up-the-middle runs – these will probably happen anyway just by the nature of Murray, a few won’t lose the game.
2) Focus pressure on getting rushers from the defensive left side (Murray’s right side) the Vikings can make him uncomfortable and give extra breathing room to the coverage team or force Murray to run to his left where he is less comfortable. If Minnesota can do this, Arizona's passing game should flounder, and the Vikings' offense should easily outpace the Cardinals' defense.

The Vikings have to take this game seriously because Kyler Murray is definitely going to thumb through the game plan after one last round of Call of Duty ... maybe two... three at most.
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Sept 16, 2022 10:06:28 GMT -6 17 Replies
Welcome back to my comprehensive Ranking of All Backup QBs in the NFL. This is my fifth year compiling and ranking every single backup QB, including 2 injured backups for a total of 34. I will have a spreadsheet displaying the stats of these QBs below the rankings, along with a list of all of the 3rd / 4th string QBs, practice squad QBs, and even free agent QBs. Without further ado, let’s go!

Note: The “Rating” is an arbitrary number based upon the QB’s past play and/or prospect status. It will give you an idea of how well the QB would play if they ever got a chance to. For reference:

80+ Starting QB / Great Backup
79-78 Good Backup
77-76 Decent Backup
75-74 Mediocre Backup
73-72 Bad Backup
71- Practice Squad caliber




#1: SF Jimmy Garoppolo

There shouldn't be any debate here, Jimmy G is easily the best backup QB as his play as a starting QB the past several years has been acceptable at worst. It's possible he gets his job back from Lance midway through the year, but I do not expect to see him on this list next year - this is the same league where Marcus Mariota, Davis Mills, and Geno Smith are starting at QB.


#2: PHI Gardner Minshew

I'm also of the belief that Minshew deserves another chance as an NFL starter. Over his two year stretch in Jacksonville, he posted great numbers for a 6th rounder and the team went 7-13 when he started, compared to 0-12 when he didn't. While he has deficiencies as a passer (lacking arm strength and holding onto the ball too long), he is one of the best backups at moving the ball down the field and usually gives his team a chance to win. I could see him as a low-end starter as a system QB in the future.


#3: MIA Teddy Bridgewater

While our boy Teddy flunked out of another starting job, his numbers weren't half bad (7-7 record, 7.2 Y/A, low turnover rate). Teddy is an ideal backup with a 5-0 stretch with the Saints under his belt. His ceiling is low and he's not going to win a shootout for you, but his floor is high and this is the type of QB you want if your starter misses a few games or a few drives.


#4: PIT Kenny Pickett

I always put the rookies high on this list, as they have so much upside. For example, I placed Justin Herbert at #9 in the 2020 rankings, and it turns out he should have been the unquestioned #1. I was not overly positive or negative about Pickett during the draft process, but I think he can be an accurate QB with some level of playmaking ability. It shouldn't shock anyone if he usurps Trubisky sooner than later.


#5: TEN Malik Willis

Yes, Willis is as raw as it gets as he basically played backyard football for Liberty. But his scrambling ability is lethal enough that I could see him steal a game or two that other backups wouldn't, and while his accuracy and vision are big concerns, he has a mortar for an arm and could connect on some deep throws. I don't see him passing up Tannehill in 2022 because he's simply not ready yet.


#6: BUF Case Keenum

Keenum received 2 starts with Mayfield ailing at times, and he looked fine, and it was nothing to write home about. For some reason, they opted to ship Keenum off for a 7th round pick to Buffalo and stuck with Brissett instead. Case had a bumpy preseason, but with the tools he'd have at his disposal if Allen went down, I could see Case channel some 2017 magic throwing to Diggs and the other weapons Buffalo has.


#7: WAS Taylor Heinicke

We didn't expect Fitzpatrick to only start one game for the Football Team, and Heinicke got a full season as a starting QB. It ended up as a mixed bag more on the negative side, but his overall numbers were not terrible for a backup QB starting 15 games. He still qualifies as a strong backup, but the Commies did add Sam Howell at QB, who is way better than your average 5th round QB prospect.


#8: ARI Colt McCoy

There is a noticeable drop in talent here - there is a smaller number of QB prospects as backups as there used to be - but McCoy showed last year that he can hold up. He turned in great games against the 49ers and Seahawks, while having a clunker against the Panthers. Despite being 35 last year, he showed some mobility in the pocket and was able to command the offense well. He should still have a few more years left as a backup QB (and career earnings of $25M!).


#9: ATL Desmond Ridder

Despite Ridder going higher in the draft than Willis, I am not impressed with him as a prospect. He has very questionable accuracy at all levels and misses routine throws more often than he should. He is a plus scrambler, but I don't think it's a great enough strength to bouy him higher on this list. In the end, he profiles as a poor man's Marcus Mariota, who himself has topped out as a good backup/poor starter.


#10: NYG Tyrod Taylor

It has been awhile since he's been on this list, but welcome back Tyrod! Injuries plagued him as a starter on the Chargers and Texans, but the real story is that he was considerably worse than Davis Mills as the Texans' starter. While in past years he would be considered a top 5 backup, he's now on the same level of backups #10-16. His extensive experience improves his ranking.


#11: NO Andy Dalton

Just like Taylor, Dalton is another former starter who would usually rank higher, but poor play in 2021 reduces his ranking. Dalton used to be the model of consistency as an average QB, but he hasn't lived up to that as a backup. Perhaps the Saints will get more out of him if Winston gets hurt.


#12: BAL Tyler Huntley

Huntley got the first 4 starts of his career last year and despite the ugly passing numbers, I think there is some upside here. He's a great mirror to Jackson as he graded out as a borderline-elite scrambler and PFF's passing stats have him as a semi-accurate short and intermediate passer. If he gets more chances in 2022, I think we will see an improvement on his 2021 numbers.


#13: IND Nick Foles

You know the story on Foles, and he's a hard guy to pin down. Last year he spent the season collecting way too much money as a #3 QB, and he's already flunked out of Rams, Jaguars, and Bears starting QB jobs. The Super Bowl run with the Eagles is the outlier - it seems to me that Foles needs everything around him to be absolutely perfect. I don't think the Colts can provide that, and while the idea that reuniting with Frank Reich could help, well, it sure didn't help with Carson Wentz!


#14: SEA Drew Lock

Lock was a footnote in the Russell Wilson trade, and inexplicably lost the starting QB battle to Geno Smith. Perhaps that wasn't a shocking defeat, as Lock underwhelmed time after time in Denver, showing poor accuracy, pocket awareness, and turning the ball over too much. He has shown enough to be at best an average backup QB and does have a little upside as a 25 year old, but you should expect Carroll to stick with Geno.


#15: KC Chad Henne

Henne got bumped up after he made some clutch throws in a 2020 playoff game, and I have nothing to add after the 2021 season. He still has a strong arm, but I do wonder how well he’d hold up through a full game.


#16: GB Jordan Love

Love got his first chance in 2021 and choked away an incredibly winnable game against the Chiefs (losing 7 to 13). Still, he had a solid preseason and came into the NFL super raw. There is room for him to jump into the top 10, but if the Packers were really confident in him they wouldn't have backed up the Brinks truck for Rodgers.


#17: LAR John Wolford

The former AAF QB got a chance to play has a playoff win to his name… despite getting injured and watching Goff win said game. He's still a major question mark, but I prefer him to many of the veteran retread options out there.


#18: LAC Chase Daniel

This is your annual Chase Daniel career earnings report: $33M! Still going at age 36, Daniel has fended off Easton Stick to retain his backup role for the Chargers. Having only started 5 games (and only 3 since 2015) over his entire 12 year career, we don't exactly know what a full season of play from would look like, but I imagine he'd be mediocre at best.


#19: NYJ Joe Flacco

For now, Flacco is the Jets' starter, but he is their backup once Zach Wilson returns. Joe doesn't have a whole lot left in the tank as he no longer has the zip on some throws like he used to, and probably should be considering retirement soon at age 37. He's a passable option who won't turn over the ball much.


#20: CAR Sam Darnold

Are you surprised to see him this far down the list? Darnold may have been a third overall pick and is still only 25 years old, but his terrible play cannot be overshadowed. Yes, he was stuck playing in below average offensive systems, but that doesn't explain how his play fell off a cliff in Year 3. Career passing % of 59.8%, Y/A of 6.1 the past two seasons... that's poor even for backup QBs. He is a shifty runner (5 TDs last year) and maaaaybe he turns things around in a better offense, but that's simply wishful thinking at this point.


#21: MIN Nick Mullens

Fallen from his #6 spot in 2020 on this list, Mullens lost to CJ Beathard in San Fran, failed to pass up Keenum in Cleveland, and then lost to Jarrett Stidham in Vegas. Thankfully for him, the Vikings' backup spot was wide open thanks to the incompetence of Mond and Mannion. Mullens has the ability to spark an offense and move the ball down the field, but too often he throws danger to the wind and throws some truly horrific interceptions. He's also somewhat mobile and has a low career sack rate. I could see him rehabbing his value and rising up on this list.


#22: HOU Kyle Allen

Allen had an uneventful 2021, as a backup to Heinicke in Washington. Similar to Mr. Heineken, Allen got a full audition in Carolina back in 2019 and wasn't completely terrible, but it was still rough. His numbers improved when he got a four game stretch in 2020, but he still falls firmly into the mediocre category.


#23: NE Brian Hoyer

Belichick has kept Hoyer around for another year. His last couple times out he looked completely cooked, and his likely replacement was drafted in the 4th round (Bailey Zappe). This may be it for the 37 year old.


#24: JAX CJ Beathard

Beathard retained his backup QB job, as the Jaguars couldn't wait to ship off Minshew for a late round pick and he faced no competition this season. Already 29 despite being in his 5th year of football, Beathard had a two game stretch in 2020 where he played well, but the rest of his career was not backup caliber.


#25: LVR Jarrett Stidham

Having failed multiple times to win the Patriots' backup QB job, Stidham spent 2021 on the IR and was traded to the Raiders for a late round pick. After a strong preseason, Stidham won the job (probably helps that McDaniels is the HC), but the tape on him shows that he's unfieldable - and it's not like he was all that good a prospect at Auburn. Maybe this is the year he proves me wrong.


#26: DAL Cooper Rush

We're reaching the bottom of the barrel here. Rush didn't crack the 53 man roster, but was still the backup on the practice squad. He finally got to start a game against the Vikings and was able to conduct a 4th quarter comeback, and despite his glaring flaws, he was at least able to get the ball out to his playmakers. But now that Prescott is slated to miss several weeks, he's probably screwed. Fielding a bad backup QB is simply a Cowboys tradition at this point.


#27: NYJ Mike White

I'm including White since he's the backup while Flacco starts. White's claim to fame (probably for the rest of his life) is upsetting the Bengals while putting up a 405/3/2 line while completing 37 of 45 passes. The rest of his games were complete trainwrecks, resulting in 8 picks in 3.5 starts. White has some playmaking ability, but it's mostly undone by how reckless and mistake-prone he gets, and he's not a factor as a runner. He is an above average practice squad QB, I'll give him that.


#28: CHI Trevor Siemian

After he was nearly flushed out of the league after a stint with the Jets, Siemian notched 4 starts with the Saints last year and lost them all, but did throw 11 TDs. That is misleading as the offense went into a standstill after a decent couple of starts, and he was promptly benched for Taysom Hill. If Siemian were to start for the Bears, their offense would be quite possibly the worst unit to start a game in the modern era, at least on paper.


#29: CIN Brandon Allen

Allen has fallen down the rankings because of more 'decent' options out there rather than his own failures. The Bengals trust him and it's now his 3rd year as their backup QB, but he's been bad whenever he's been given a chance, suffering from poor accuracy and an inability to push the ball down the field.


#30: DEN Brett Rypien

After being billed as a draftable prospect in 2019, Rypien went undrafted and it took him until his 4th year as a Bronco to win the backup job from Josh Johnson. He had one start in 2020 and won it, but tossed four picks and I haven't been impressed with his preseason play. While I was slightly high on him coming out of college, I don't think Rypien has much upside.


#31: DET Nate Sudfeld

The Lions usually skimp on their backup QB position, and they nabbed Sudfeld after Tim Boyle and David Blough reminded us that they are not NFL-caliber QBs. Sudfeld has never shown anything to suggest he would be a quality backup, as he never fully seized the Eagles' backup QB in his four years there. He's a practice squad arm at best.


#32: CLE Joshua Dobbs


Dobbs is the biggest unknown on this list. A 4th round pick by the Steelers, he's spent most of his career as a 3rd stringer, with a stint with the Jaguars, backing up Minshew for a time. He didn't show much during the preseason, and the way he has bounced around implies that NFL teams lack confidence in his ability as a backup.


#33: TB Blaine Gabbert

What is the difference between him and a guy like Chad Henne, you ask? Both may be former busts turned backups, but whenever I tune in to watch Gabbert play in the preseason, I don't see any upside to his play (whereas Henne and others look OK at best). He's no longer a quicker runner, he's always been inaccurate, and he has a penchant for turnovers. He's a classic "coach's pet" who isn't actually good at football, but is an asset to the coaching staff and his fellow QBs (yes, Vikings fans, he's Sean Mannion). It's an embarrassment that 2021 2nd rounder Kyle Trask can't unseat him by this point - more to the player, but also for the team.


#34: CAR P. J. Walker

Darnold is on the IR so Walker, who looked to be their 4th string QB, is the backup. PJ dominated in the now-defunct AAF, but has looked like a deer in the headlights in the NFL, tossing 8 picks (plus 4 fumbles) on just 122 passing attempts. He looks like a random athlete thinking he can translate his Madden skills to the actual football field - that works against backups, but not NFL starters. I think he can be better than this, but his play was so abysmal that the Panthers preferred a barely functioning Darnold and a 101% cooked Cam Newton over him.




Last year we had 7 QBs on this list who had seen game action at one point, now that list is down to one. Teams are only keeping young and inexperienced 3rd string QBs these days.



Practice squads have more experienced QBs on them, as any QB prospect that has any shred of future potential will likely be claimed.



As expected, there is a total lack of talent on the free agent market. 


That's it for this year's addition of the Backup QBs article you didn't ask for! Let me know what you think.Welcome back to my comprehensive Ranking of All Backup QBs in the NFL. This is my fifth year compiling and ranking every single backup QB, including 2 injured backups for a total of 34. I will have a
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Oct 21, 2022 11:53:08 GMT -6 8 Replies
With no Game to preview this week, I took a look backwards at how the Vikings are stacking up against my pre-season look at How the Vikings can be Super Bowl contenders in 2022.

To start with, this a quick refresh on that, a team’s scoring advantage is:
[Scoring more points than average] + [Allowing few points than league average]

The starting point was the 2021 Vikings, the 2021 Vikings score more than average, but also allowed more than average for a net score of almost exactly 0.

2021 Vikings
Advantage from offense: +2.02
Advantage from defense: -2.08
Total disadvantage: -0.06 (0.00 would be perfectly average)

To be a contender, I suggested the Vikings would need to improve to a +6 total.

Vikings Right Now:
NFL Scoring Average is 21.8 Pointer per Game
Vikings are scoring 23.2 Pointer per Game = 1.4 PPG better than average
Vikings are allowed 19.7 Points per Game = 2.1 PPG better than average

Right now the Vikings are at +3.5, improved, but a little below the goal of 6.0.

Why I’m Not Worried
There are several major reason to take this 3.5 number with a large grain of salt.

#1 – Wins. The PPG Advantage is only an analysis of how things might go in the future. Having actual wins is always preferable theoretical future projections. If you look at the Vikings +3.5 and think “Oh no, that number isn’t high enough”, you’re using this information wrong.

#2 – Small Sample Set. With only 6 games played, a single touchdown swings a team’s total number by more than a full point. At this point in the season the Vikings have had enough near misses that, if made, would put them well above the +6 threshold (more on this in the offensive breakdown).

#3 - Coaching Change impact.  There is a wide rang of outcomes when a coach changes.  I don't know how the season will end, but enough football has been played to rule out the highly negative changes.  

Defensive Performance
The Vikings defense has improved from -2 to +2.1 from 2021 to 2022. At the start of the season, if you told me the Vikings would get more than a +4 PPG swing in advantage from their defense, I would have said they are defiantly on track to set themselves up well for the post season and sure enough, at 5-1, they are. The big question about defense becomes, is this sustainable? There is an argument for and against this being sustainable.

The argument for this being sustainable is that there was a highly predicable improvement, and the change is happening exactly as predicted. Looking at the change in defensive performance in the last two minutes of halves:

After being historically bad, some regression towards the mean is almost certain in this category. I think realistic is on the low-to-middle range of this scale, but two-minute drills can be fluky.
Improved late-half scoring defense: +2.5 to 6.0 PPG.
The Vikings defensive performance is right in the middle of the zone for “most likely” improvement. Some of this is likely attributed to Za’Darius Smith playing well.

The argument against the defense sustaining this improvement is that the Vikings are allowing a lot fewer points than expected for the yardage they have given up.



Historically there is a strong correlation between yards and points, so there is risk for regression on defensive points allowed. The Vikings top 5 position in turnovers is helping and the Vikings did give up some garbage time yards, but over the course of a full season, the points / yards gap will likely tighten up. Daniele Hunter getting on track or tightening up safeties would help.


Offensive Performance
The offense is the reason I see upside for the Vikings as the season progresses. There are three reasons for this.

First reason the Vikings offense has left enough plays on the table that they could already be above the +6.0 PPG threshold.  For example, week 2 vs the Eagles when Irv Smith Jr drops this near certain touchdown:



On this play, did play design work? Yes
Did the Vikings players all the physical tools and talent to make this play? Yes
The Eagles won by 17, would a 7 point swing change their record? No, the Vikings would still probably have lost.

But if Irv hangs on, the calculation says the Vikings are +4.7 instead of +3.5. Justin Jefferson missed a route later in the game that was another potential touchdown turned into an interception. Greg Joseph’s Field Goal and Extra Point misses have cost the Vikings 2.2 PPG; he’s not going to hit everything, but there is upside in the kicking game.  

The second reason is potential improvement in the offense. The Vikings aren’t doing a great job sending receivers deep to clear out space for mid-range throws. Here is an example of what it looks like when it works, this was a big gain to Jefferson in the Dolphins game.



Osborn deep clears out a huge space for Jefferson to operate. At the same time, Thielen deep had Irv Smith Jr open for a first down on the other side of the field. The Vikings were great at this in 2021. The Rams were also great at this in 2021 (Van Jefferson and Odel Beckham opened huge spaces for Cooper Kupp). As I’ve looked back at the start of 2022, I just haven’t seen much of this for the Vikings. Instead they have been sending Jefferson deep into double coverage instead of opening space for him.  They have also used tight ends (both Smith and Mundt) deep and that hasn't drawn the coverage away from the receivers.  It seems like only a matter of time before the Vikings start sending Osborn, Thielen, or Reagor deep to make more space for Jefferson to work.

The third reason isn't math or play analysis, it's the fact that the overall offense seems to be underperforming.  The Vikings offense is slightly worse in 2022 (+1.4) than 2021 (+2.1).  This is despite the offensive line is playing better.  Everything is there to suggest that this team has untapped ability to put more points on the board.  

2022 Path Forward
The Vikings are improved over 2021. Their record sets them up well for the next 11 games. There is some risk of regression (especially on defense), I think the potential upside for improvement is larger than the risk of fall off.
With no Game to preview this week, I took a look backwards at how the Vikings are stacking up against my pre-season look at
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Oct 23, 2022 7:52:58 GMT -6 6 Replies
In the history of the bye weeks, never has there been a more embarrassing loss than the one the Vikings handed to themselves in 2005. It was a week that sealed the fate of a head coach, cemented Daunte Culpepper and Fred Smoot’s legacy as punchlines, and would change the meaning of the term “love boat” forever. So it is only fitting that in this bye week iteration of comparing statistics, that we look at the Vikings’ greatest opponent: Themselves.




Over the past decade this team has started out fast before. Sometimes with good results like in 2017 where the team started out 4-2 and went on to lose in the NFCCG despite losing its starting QB for the second straight season. Other times things went south quickly after a quick start, like in 2016 when the Vikings started out 5-1, and after suffering an embarrassing loss to the Eagles, went on to suck hard for the rest of the season. One team improved on their early success, the other collapsed, and while the Vikings might hope they are the former, do the numbers actually point to them being closer to the latter?







First up, let’s compare these three teams DVOA rankings as well as their opponents in those first 6 weeks.




2016








I was very surprised at just how good that Vikings’ team was in 2016, particularly their defense. It was elite through the first third of the season and while a lot of that is because of a weak schedule (they played mostly bad offenses), it is still pretty impressive. Their opponents overall were very average on average making the 5-1 start compared to what happened the rest of the season very surprising.







2017












The 2017 team started out with a more difficult schedule and still managed to go 4-2 despite huge season ending injuries to their starting QB and star rookie RB. They did get blown out by second best team they faced during that period after a strong first game against the best, but they only faced one truly bad team in that stretch and still managed to go 4-2 and play better than all but seven other teams through six games.




2022




The 2022 iteration of a Vikings team off to a hot start is by far the worst of the three despite having the easiest schedule. They have faced one defense that has been above average or better and only one team overall that would be considered above average according to DVOA. There is some good news here though. First, this team is not like the 2016 team that collapsed after 5-0 start and began to play terrible for the final eleven weeks of the season after teams either figured out the simple offense the Vikings were running for Bradford, injuries caught up with the team or both. It is playing poorly to start the season and still winning, and even if the teams they are beating suck, they are still NFL teams. They have the opportunity to start playing better and have a lot of room to grow, which would give them a shot to beat good teams. Second, the final eleven weeks are looking to be almost as easy as the first six. The Vikings play some good teams that I expect them to lose too based on how they have played the only good team they have faced, but most of the teams they play are bad. Looking at that 2016 schedule after the Viking went 5-1 that was not the case:












There were some bad teams left on that 2016 schedule, but most were at least average and the Vikings lost to every one of those above average teams, along with the Lions who had the Vikings number that year. That shouldn’t happen in 2022 where only four teams are average or better and they face the 31st, 30th, 29th, 27th and 25th best teams.







Other numbers to consider are the scoring margin between those three seasons:







2016 (first six games)



7.5 (winning by an average of 11.2 points)







2017 (first six games)



3.2 (winning by an average of 10.75 points)







2022



3.5 (winning by an average of 7.6)







The 2022 Vikings have a higher scoring margin than the 2017 team which is good, a much lower scoring margin than 2016 team, which might also be good since that team collapsed.







There are other factors to a team collapsing or building on early season success of course. The Vikings have a brand new head coach and are running new systems on both offense and defense and while they could start to play better in those systems, like the Vikings and their brand new QB started to do in 2017, they could collapse once another team shows the league how to defend what they are doing like happened with the brand new QB in 2016. With all three of these years the Vikings were adapting to changes on the fly and while one of those teams went in a very positive direction, the other completely collapsed once there was enough film on what they were doing. Injuries also play a factor and did more so in 2016 than a relatively healthy 2017 (after they lost their starting QB and RB that is). This 2022 team has been incredibly healthy, more healthy than either the 2016 or 2017 Vikings’ teams.







Looking at the numbers this Vikings team is not really like either 2016 or 2017 and is arguably much worse than both of them. They are winning, but they are doing it while not playing well against bad teams while the 2016 and 2017 teams won playing really well against better competition. That didn’t work out for the 2016 hot start Vikings’, but it certainly worked out better than expected for the 2017 team. Lets hope the Vikings improve on things over this bye week, stay off the lake and come out read hot against an improving Cardinals team.







In the history of the bye weeks, never has there been a more embarrassing loss than the one the Vikings handed to themselves in 2005. It was a week that sealed the fate of a head coach, cemented
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Oct 22, 2022 11:18:17 GMT -6 0 Replies

As my interest in football, and its history, has grown over the years, I've found many fascinating little nuggets. Some of the most fascinating involve the paths franchises have taken to form the league we know today. The paths taken by the Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers may be the most fascinating of all.

The Steelers, called the Pirates initially, and the Eagles started innocently enough in 1933. That innocence would be shattered 8 years later. During the first two decades of the NFL's existence, all teams struggled. All teams carried financial concerns. Most teams had performance concerns. The Eagles and the Steelers/Pirates had both. With their decades-long recent success, it may be difficult to ever think of the Steelers as a struggling team. The team’s first 40 years were pretty much the exact opposite of the last 50. Pirates owner, Art Rooney, had reportedly lost as much as $150,000 over the first 8 years. That’s pocket change for today’s owners. It wasn’t in the 1930s. Perhaps the name was the problem. To hopefully inspire a public connection to the team, Rooney changed his team's name to the Steelers in 1940. The Eagles weren't doing much better as the '40s opened. deBenneville (let's call him Bert) Bell was a rich kid with a passion for football. In owning the Eagles, he satisfied his passion for football at the expense of his father's money. Bert Bell was to become such an important figure in the league's history that it's a bit surprising how close he was to losing it all. Even in those tough, naive, early days, Bell made an impact on the league as the annual player selection draft was his idea.

As Bell and Rooney were facing difficult choices, Alexis Thompson wanted a piece of the football game. Thompson, ironically, was the heir to the Republic Steel Corporation fortune. Preferring Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, Thompson first tried to buy the Eagles. Bell passed. So, Thompson tried the Steelers. Rooney was reluctant. Somewhere, somehow, Bell got the idea of Rooney selling the Steelers and then using that money to buy a half-ownership of the Eagles. According to Rooney, "Bell did all the dickering." Thompson bought the Steelers for about $160,000. Rooney then bought a 50% share of the Eagles for $80,000. Everything seemed fine. However, four months later, Thompson had not opened offices in Pittsburgh. It didn't seem that Thompson cared much for doing business in Pittsburgh. Fearful of his hometown losing it’s football team, Rooney proposed what his son, Dan, referred to as a "switcheroo." Rooney/Bell would trade the Eagles to Thompson for the Steelers. It was more a switch of cities than teams. No cash or other considerations were involved. Thompson clearly preferred Philadelphia over Pittsburgh. Rooney and Bell actually picked their "favorite" players from the two teams to form the new Steelers team. Roughly half of each team switched to the other. Both reconfigured teams struggled in their first season, 1941, with the Steelers finishing 1-9-1 and the Eagles finishing 2-8-1. The Eagles won and tied in the match-ups of the two teams. The Steelers managed the first winning season in franchise history the following year as they finished with a 7-4 record in 1942. The Eagles stumbled to a 2-9 record. WWII jumbled the rosters and the league. The financial and player demands of the War years forced the Eagles and Steelers to join forces and form one team in 1943, the Philadelphia-Pittsburgh Steagles. It was a tough time but better days were on the way. By the end of the decade, the Eagles were a powerhouse, winning championships in '48 and '49. For the Steelers, the winning, a lot of winning, was still about thirty years away.

Franchise movement and changes were fairly common during the first few decades of the league. In my opinion, none was as crazy as the "switcheroo" of the Steelers and Eagles. The current Colts' franchise history is kind of wacky but that's a story for another day. NFL franchises are tracked kind of like pink slips. Franchises are sold to another owner or back to the league (It's been quite a while since this has happened.) but the franchise can be tracked through different cities or incarnations. With that in mind, the team that we now know as the Pittsburgh Steelers, winners of six Super Bowls, was the Philadelphia Eagles from 1933-1940. The team that we now know as the Philadelphia Eagles was once the Pittsburgh Pirates/Steelers. Fascinating stuff. As my interest in football, and its history, has grown over the years, I've found many fascinating little nuggets. Some of the most fascinating involve the paths franchises have taken to form
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Oct 22, 2022 10:01:56 GMT -6 0 Replies
Happy bye week! Since the Vikings are on vacation, so are we! Join us and Christie Brinkley for Episude 76!

Happy bye week! Since the Vikings are on vacation, so are we! Join us and Christie Brinkley for Episude 76! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ACAhR6twzCQ
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Oct 7, 2022 21:24:39 GMT -6 17 Replies
Off to a 3-1 start despite questionable play, the Vikings look to retain first place in the NFC North with a win against the rebuilding Bears. Dropping this one would vault the Bears over them, so winning this one is imperative - besides, losing even to this team in Solider Field is one thing, losing this one is another.



Injury Report

Vikings

TE Ellefson - Out
WR Nailor - Questionable
CB Booth - Questionable


Bears

HB Montgomery - Questionable
CB Johnson - Doubtful
S Cruikshank - Doubtful

Line: Vikings -7.5 (71% of bets on Vikings)

Simulator's Line: Vikings

* My Thoughts *

The Bears finally fired Nagy and Pace, and new GM Ryan Poles hit the nuclear button. Justin Fields, as questionable a QB as he looks now, has been put in a horrible situation - he now has the league's worst pass blocking O-line and the league's worst receiving corps. Not only that, but they didn't bother to bring in a offensive guru to help out, hoping that the Packers QB coach Luke Getsy can coach him up. The offense is built upon the run game, but David Montgomery is on the more doubtful side of questionable. They do have a great backup in Khalil Herbert, who has looked good enough to be a starter.

There's almost nobody to throw to, as Darnell Mooney had a strong second year in 2021 but is simply not a guy who can go up against other teams' best CBs. Not to mention that he put up far more stats with Dalton at QB... the same goes for Cole Kmet, who was a breakout candidate, but isn't even getting thrown to now. Behind those two, the Bears have nothing. St. Brown has the combine measurables and nothing else, and was never productive when he had Rodgers throwing to him. Pettis was a 2nd round flop who is more returner than receiver. 3rd rounder Velus Jones Jr has some upside, but hasn't played yet due to injury. Maybe Smith-Marsette gets some snaps? They also have nothing at backup TE.

On the O-line, the Bears are going forward with 5th roudn rookie Braxton Jones, but he's holding up decently so far. The same goes for RT Larry Borom, who's taken a big step up after a rough rookie year. The interior has been a tire fire and they no longer have Whitehair (IR). Jenkins has moved to guard and he's got Bradbury-like grades, a sold run blocker but he's been a sieve in pass protection. Patrick has been a flop as a FA acquisition, and Mustipher has been exceptionally bad with a 22.7 pass blocking score. The Vikings should be getting plenty of pressure on Fields.

On defense, the front four is simply not getting it done. Robert Quinn has not been getting pressure like he did last year and has been comprimised in the run game, and the rest of the players here should be backups. Muhammad is a solid run stuffer who has never been able to create any pass rush, and should be a rotational guy. Gipson and Robinson are promising part-time pressure makers. The interior is a major weakness, with Blackson being a consistent non-factor, Jones being bad in all departments, and Pennel has been terrible so far. Watts has been fine, but hasn't done much since a strong Week 1 outing.

The LB corps is Roquan Smith and a bunch of bodies. PFF has never liked him, but personally I'd give him a Good grade. Morrow is the other full-time LB and he's not playing that well - he's missed 7 tackles already. Thomas is a career backup who has good coverage grades so far.

The Bears spent 2 2nd rounders on DBs, that being Brisker and Gordon. Gordon has been very bad so far, giving up 74% of passes thrown his direction. Nickel CB Vildor is also getting ripped up. This has lead to teams staying away from Johnson, who looks like a keeper... but he's not playing in this game. Brisker has been fine so far minus missing 8 tackles. After two lacking seasons, Eddie Jackson finally seems to be rebounding, having 3 interceptions so far.

Prediction: Vikings 24, Bears 10

Even with the Vikings playing some rough football lately, it is time they brought the smackdown to an inferior team. The Vikings are a better team at literally every position, and will be at home playing a noon game. This is the easiest game on the schedule... which of course makes it a perfect trap game. Still, the Vikings are healthy, playing disciplined football, and should be able to move the ball on a defense that isn't as good as the numbers have shown so far. There will be a time when I predict we get upset, but I don't think it happens this week.

I'm 4-0 predicting games so far, by the way! I believe that makes me 27-10 since 2020 when I make predictions on who wins in my depth chart preview.

Any thoughts?Off to a 3-1 start despite questionable play, the Vikings look to retain first place in the NFC North with a win against the rebuilding Bears. Dropping this one would vault the Bears over them, so
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Oct 16, 2022 20:34:01 GMT -6 2 Replies
Ted, Drew, and Chris had a blast talking aboutthe Vikings going 5-1 heading into the bye.

Check out what they liked, what they didn't like, and other observations from the 24-16 win:



Ted, Drew, and Chris had a blast talking aboutthe Vikings going 5-1 heading into the bye. Check out what they liked, what they didn't like, and other observations from the 24-16
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Oct 12, 2022 22:00:19 GMT -6 22 Replies
Greetings Earthlings, and welcome to your week 6 edition of PPF. Midwinterviking isn't available this week, I think he's trekking the Amazonian jungle documenting the reproductive cycle of the ancient Patagonian moth *skeptic*  (or something like that) so you got me to preview this weeks game *thumb_up*

The Vikings trek to Hard Rock Stadium to take on the Dolphins, kickoff @ 1PM ET and Brad Rogers will be our referee.
Minnesota has an abysmal record in Miami and haven't won there since 1976, they seem to melt in the heat and humidity in Florida. The last encounter was on Dec 21 2014 when the 6-9 Mike Zimmer led Vikings lost to the 8-7 Joe Philbin Dolphins 35-37.
With the Vikings leading 35-28 with 81 seconds to play, a 3rd down Ryan Tannehill pass fell incomplete, but a PI call on Xavier Rhodes extended the drive and on the next play Miami scored to tie the game.
The Vikings got the ball back and drove 2 yards  *goteddy*  and were forced to punt, but the punt was blocked and went out of the back of the end zone for the game winning 2pt safety.

So, fast forward to now, and the 4-1 Vikings take on a 3-2 Dolphins team starting a 3rd string rookie QB. Too easy huh? *lol*
Miami own a 2-0 home record, while the Vikings are 1-1 on the road. 
Both teams average 23 ppg scored (T 12th) while the Vikings allow 20.4 ppg (14th) compared to Miami 26.2 (29th) Both offenses rely on the passing game and are in the top 10 for yards while their running games haven't been as effective.
The defenses have struggled to shut down opposing QBs passing and Minnesota has been pretty average against the run allowing 120 ypg (20th), Miami have been a bit better, allowing only 110 ypg (13th).

But enough of the stats, this game will go one of two ways.
1) The Vikings step things up on defense and pressure Thompson into mistakes and turnovers, the offense takes their opponent by the throat and puts up 40 on them, scoring TDs and not settling for field goals.

2) The Vikings sit back on defense and give the rookie time to make plays underneath and in the soft zones, similar to the Philly game, and Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle and Mike Gesicki wreak havoc.
The Vikings offense stalls repeatedly and has to settle for field goals, allowing Miami to hang around, like the Detroit and Chicago games and it goes down to the wire.

This is a game the Vikings need to win if they have aspirations of making some noise in the playoffs. A loss to a third string rookie QB starting his first game would expose the Vikings as pretenders, not contenders.




Greetings Earthlings, and welcome to your week 6 edition of PPF. Midwinterviking isn't available this week, I think he's trekking the Amazonian jungle documenting the reproductive cycle of the
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Oct 14, 2022 22:48:26 GMT -6 4 Replies
The Vikings have started off the 2022 season on the right foot, and now get a Dolphins team starting a 7th round rookie at QB. Will they need a fourth straight 4th quarter comeback to win this one, or are we allowed to finally blow someone out?



Injury Report

Vikings
RB Mattison - Questionable
OLB Wonnum - Questionable

Dolphins
LT Armstead - Questionable
QB Bridgewater - Questionable
RB Mostert - Questionable
TE Smythe - Questionable
S Campbell - Questionable
CB Kohou - Doubtful
QB Tagovailoa - Out


Line: Vikings -3 (54% of bets on Vikings)

Super Simulator's Calculated Line: Vikings -5.5


*My Thoughts*

Mike McDaniel was a surprise hire for the Dolphins, as he wasn’t expected to be landing a head coaching job quite yet, but from the roster construction of the offense, it is apparent that ownership wanted a piece of the Shanahan 49ers offense pie. The result has been more pass-happy, but in the short span when Tagovailoa was healthy, it looked solid. They are already down to their 3rd string QB, Skylar Thompson, a 7th rounder who had a phenomenal preseason that caught some attention. He’ll have to try and channel his inner Gardner Minshew, as the track record for late round QBs doing anything good in their rookie season is bleak.

They sifted through a group of running backs and ended up with Raheem Mostert, who of course was part of the 49ers Super Bowl run a few years back. The 30 year old (on his 8th stint on a roster!) has become the bellcow the past two weeks. He’s still speedy and effective when healthy, but he’s made of glass. They also signed Chase Edmonds, who specializes as a pass catching RB, but they’ve not using him in that capacity very often. They couldn’t get Kyle Jusczyzk, but instead got a lesser version in Alec Ingold, of whom is now the third highest paid FB.

The Dolphins have sunk a ton of capital into WR, spending two 1sts to land Jaylen Waddle last year and shipped a bunch of picks and money into Tyreek Hill. The investment has appeared to work before the QB injuries occurred – Waddle and Hill are both dangerous deep threats but are also both well-suited for short and intermediate targets. They’ve hogged a large percent of the target share, enough to where their other investments aren’t even being used. They gave Cowboys Cedrick Wilson $8M a year, but he’s barely contributed. Most egregiously, TE Mike Gesicki was given the franchise tag after combining for 1400+ yards the past two years, and now they’re using him as a blocker first and throwing to him 2.5 times a game… despite the fact that he’s best used as a big slot receiver.

Miami had the worst OL in football by a country mile last year, but they’ve made improvements. Terron Armstead’s injury status is tantamount, as the Dolphins aren’t even carrying a backup tackle. The situation at RT is dire – Austin Jackson is on the IR, meaning that Greg Little is playing. Little starting should be considered a DEFCON 1 as he is sub-Rashod Hill/Dakota Dozier graded by PFF. The interior has been mostly fixed, with free agent Connor Williams patching the center position, and Robert Hunt is starting to play like a top 10 guard. Unfortunately, Liam Eichenberg isn’t faring well at LG after flopping at LT last year.

Defensively, the Dolphins have been a mixed bag, shutting down the Bills but also getting pulverized by the Ravens and Jets. Their unit looks like a 3-4 system on paper, but going by the DL snap rates, they seem to be more of a 4-3 defense. They paid their top pass rusher Emmanuel Ogbah this offseason, but he’s off to a slower start so far. They have plenty of depth here despite what the depth chart looks like, as they use Phillips and Ingram as pass rushers and aren’t 4-3 OLBs. Ingram has been the most effective but is seemingly relegated to a part-time role. PFF loves the run-stuffers. Sieler, who’s built like a 3-4 DE, has come out of nowhere and is suddenly an elite run stuffer. Wilkins broke out last year and has become a standout 3 tech, but he does stuff the run better than rush the QB. Raekwon Davis may be insanely buff, but hasn’t received good grades. Their primary LBs are Jerome Baker and Elandon Roberts, who are fine tacklers but both can be beat in coverage, especially Roberts who has a 36.7 coverage grade.

The secondary was advertised as a strength, but injuries have sapped its potential. Xavien Howard should play but hasn’t been the same dealing with an injury, and their other stud CB Byron Jones is on the IR. Needham has been a perfectly average CB who has been playing more snaps than usual. Kohou has been a standout UDFA slot CB, but he won’t play, meaning that 1st rounder Igbinoghene should start. Needless to say being in Year 3, he has been a big disappointment, but he’s also barely played. Jevon Holland didn’t get enough credit as a fantastic safety as just a 3rd round rookie last year, but the other spot has been a problem with Rowe getting hurt (and not being all that good to begin with) and his replacement Jones grading very poorly.


Prediction: Dolphins 23, Vikings 19

Yes, I’m predicting the upset and a loss to a 3rd string QB! The Dolphins have won their last 8 home games in a row and the Vikings have struggled against a couple of skeleton crews the past couple weeks. Away teams seem to struggle with the heat, and even Belichick’s Patriots have a 9-14 record playing in Miami. I think Miami’s defense will shut down our offense in the second half, allowing for Thompson to conduct a 4th quarter comeback to lead to an unlikely victory.

Alright, thoughts?The Vikings have started off the 2022 season on the right foot, and now get a Dolphins team starting a 7th round rookie at QB. Will they need a fourth straight 4th quarter comeback to win this one,
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Oct 15, 2022 13:10:56 GMT -6 0 Replies
The second decade of Minnesota Vikings football was a special decade for me. It’s when this kid from California fell for the team. Most of my family and several friends hassled me for my “odd” choice of teams. The San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders were supposed to be the only options for someone from my spot on a map. Who cares about geography when picking a team? I didn’t. Minneapolis, or Bloomington, was as close as San Francisco as far as I was concerned. Fortunately for me, I had a father that allowed me to find my own football way. He’d been a 49ers fan since the team was introduced in 1946. He influenced my interest in football and ignited my passion in the game’s past. He just never insisted that my choices match his. Some might say that I missed out on Super Bowl titles by following the Vikings. Maybe. I don’t look at it that way. The Vikings are all that I’ve known, football-wise. They are all that I want to know. I wouldn’t change a thing. Well, I’d probably change the endings of a few of their seasons. I’ve loved my Vikings journey and I look forward to every step that it takes me. Enough about me. This is about the Minnesota Vikings of the 1970s. Despite never getting that one final win, it was a great decade. Legendary players, legendary teams. It was easy to fall for the Vikings during this decade. Here are some of the best players from a fun decade of Vikings football.

Minnesota Vikings 1970s All-Decade Team

Offense

Quarterback
Fran Tarkenton

This is an easy one. Fran Tarkenton had an odd Vikings career. He was traded to the New York Giants after the 1966 season. He was traded for after the 1971 season. He played for 18 years with a five-year New York sabbatical in the middle. Tarkenton had a great career. A Hall of Fame career. By the end of it he held all of the career passing records. Touchdowns, yards, completions, attempts. He held those records longer than any quarterback ever has. His most productive years were those played in the 1970s. He guided the Vikings to three Super Bowls. He’s easily the best quarterback in franchise history. At times, it feels like the Vikings have been looking for the team’s next franchise quarterback ever since Tarkenton retired after the 1978 season.

Running Back
Chuck Foreman

Another easy one. Put simply, Chuck Foreman was great. For the first five years of his career, he was arguably the best running back in the league. He was certainly the best all-around back in the league. In 1975, he was seven yards short of leading the NFC in rushing, receptions, and touchdowns. A Triple Crown. He was such a fun football player. If injuries hadn’t started whittling away at his talents after his fifth season, he’d be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In my opinion, he did enough in those five seasons to be honored in Canton.

Fullback
Bill Brown

Picking the best Vikings fullback of the 1970s is difficult. Chuck Foreman played the position better than any player during the decade. He’s also the team’s best running back during the decade. Bill Brown was well past his best days in the 1970s but he still looked the part. He look and played like the fullback ideal of the 1960s and 1970s. He was a team leader until he retired after the 1974 season. I feel better about Brown being on this team than either of Ed Marinaro or Brent McClanahan.

Wide Receivers
Ahmad Rashad
Sammy White

The Vikings have been blessed with many great receivers. Ahmad Rashad and Sammy White was the team’s first great receiver duo. Both came to the team in 1976. White exploded on the NFL scene with a Rookie of the Year season. Rashad was so steady and productive for the Vikings. If he’d come to Minnesota a few years earlier and played with Tarkenton a few years longer, he’d be in the Hall of Fame. While Rashad and White are easy choices for this team’s receivers, it’s tough to not include John Gilliam. He was one of the league’s best deep threats of the early 1970s. He made the Pro Bowl each of his four years with the Vikings.

Tight End
Stu Voigt

Stu Voigt was a good tight end in the 1970s. Back then, the position was more blocker than receiver. Voigt was a better blocker than receiver. I remember one magazine, in a season preview, describing him as “mediocre, at best.” I felt that was a little harsh at the time. Still do.

Offensive Tackles
Ron Yary
Steve Riley

Ron Yary is arguably the best offensive tackle of his era. He’s one of the best offensive tackles of any era. He’s in the Hall of Fame. The only real debate over the team’s best offensive tackles of the decade is whether to include Grady Alderman over Steve Riley. In the 1970s, Alderman was edging toward the end of his career. Riley’s best years were the 1970s. From 1975-79, he was the team’s left tackle. He was a solid left tackle and nice bookend to Yary.

Offensive Guards
Ed White
Charles Goodrum

Ed White played both left and right guard. During the 1970s, he was the Vikings best left guard and the team’s best right guard. Perhaps I should have him playing both on this team. White’s best years were his right guard years next to Ron Yary. Charles Goodrum was a solid left guard. He formed a solid left side with Steve Riley.

Center
Mick Tingelhoff

Mick Tingelhoff was a fantastic center. He was arguably the league’s best center in the 1960s. He was a very good center in the 1970s. If anything was working against him during the latter years of his long career, it was the league’s offensive line evolution. At about 240 lbs, he was wildly undersized for his position. He was still a very good center during the final years of his Hall of Fame career.

Defense

Defensive Ends
Carl Eller
Jim Marshall

Both are Vikings legends. Carl Eller is in the Hall of Fame. Jim Marshall has a strong Hall of Fame argument and was the leader and heart of some of the best defenses in league history.

Defensive Tackles
Alan Page
Gary Larsen

Alan Page was one of the best defensive players I’ve ever seen. He wrecked offenses. As for the other defensive tackle, Gary Larsen started the decade. Doug Sutherland finished it. Both were solid players on a great defensive line. Larsen was the better football player.

Linebackers
Matt Blair
Jeff Siemon
Wally Hilgenberg

Matt Blair became the Vikings defensive leader following the retirements and departures of the team’s legends. He could do so much on the football field. I once heard that he could take a quarter off the top of a basketball backboard. I was never sure if that was true. Seeing the height that he could reach on field goal blocks it’s believable. Despite coming out of Stanford, Jeff Siemon was a great player for the Vikings in the 1970s. He’s right there with Scott Studwell, E.J. Henderson, and Eric Kendricks as the best middle linebackers in franchise history. Siemon may have been the only defensive player that showed up for Super Bowl XI. Wally Hilgenberg continued to play so well into the middle of the 1970s that he kept the very talented Fred McNeil on the bench.

Cornerbacks
Bobby Bryant
Nate Wright

Bobby Bryant was a very good cornerback for a long time. He was the last member of the great defenses of the late 1960s and early 1970s to retire. He made so many big plays in big games. Nate Wright is probably best remembered as the player shoved to the ground by Drew Pearson in the 1975 playoffs. Wright was a very talented cornerback. For a few years he was one of the league’s best.

Safeties
Paul Krause
Tom Hannon

Paul Krause was a unique football player. He was rarely near the line of scrimmage. With his tackling, you didn’t want him near the line of scrimmage. He was at his best roaming the defensive backfield. Krause intercepted so many passes. I felt that every pass that left a quarterback’s hand was going to end up in his hands. He did what he did on the football field better than any safety I’d seen until Ed Reed. Jeff Wright should probably be the other safety over Tom Hannon. Wright started next to Krause for most of the decade. Hannon is one of the more underrated players in team history. He got a couple starts in 1978 and became a full time starter in 1979. Despite so few games during the decade, I like Hannon over Wright for this team.

Special Teams

Kicker
Fred Cox

It’s remarkable that Fred Cox was kicking for the Vikings into the 1977 season. Most teams had turned to soccer-style kickers. Cox was 39 and still approaching the ball straight on. During the 1970s, he only attempted nine field goals from over 50 yards. It was a very different time.

Punter
Greg Coleman

Greg Coleman punted for the Vikings in 1978 and 1979. That’s enough for him to grab this spot over Neil Clabo and Mike Eischeid.

Returner
John Gilliam

The Vikings had strong special teams in the 1970s. They had a ridiculous knack for blocking kicks. That special teams strength wasn’t really reflected in their kick and punt returns. I’m giving this spot to John Gilliam partly because he returned a few kicks but mostly because he was such an explosive player during his four years with the Vikings. He deserves a spot on a Minnesota Vikings 1970s All-Decade Team.


The second decade of Minnesota Vikings football was a special decade for me. It’s when this kid from California fell for the team. Most of my family and several friends hassled me for my “odd” choice
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Oct 14, 2022 18:36:15 GMT -6 0 Replies

Vikings Report is back, baby!! Ep 75–We review the season to date, pick our fantasy teams, preview the Dolphins game, trivia, Willie Wonka, and more! Come join us!

Vikings Report is back, baby!! Ep 75–We review the season to date, pick our fantasy teams, preview the Dolphins game, trivia, Willie Wonka, and more! Come join us!
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Oct 8, 2022 16:42:56 GMT -6 2 Replies
I’m often thinking about football. Those thoughts range from current Vikings stuff to past Vikings stuff to current NFL stuff to past NFL stuff. It’s a lot of stuff. Football stuff. I’m currently reading a biography of Bronko Nagurski by Chris Willis. It’s an excellent, informative read. It has me thinking about past NFL stuff. In particular, it has me thinking about past NFL champions. Nagurski played an important role in the the first games that actually decided NFL titles. That’s no surprise as he was one of the greatest players of his era and one of the few players that probably could’ve played in any era.

Through the 2021 season, there have been 102 NFL champions. Actually, there have been 100 NFL Champions as the professional football league that we know as the National Football League was called the American Professional Football Association (APFA) in 1920 and 1921.

From 1920 to 1932, the APFA/NFL champion was the team with the best regular season record, pending the approval of the league’s owners. Here are those champions.

NFL Champions

1920: Akron Pros
1921: Chicago Staleys (Bears)
1922: Canton Bulldogs
1923: Canton Bulldogs
1924: Cleveland Bulldogs
1925: Chicago Cardinals
1926: Frankford Yellow Jackets
1927: New York Giants
1928: Providence Steam Roller
1929: Green Bay Packers
1930: Green Bay Packers
1931: Green Bay Packers
1932: Chicago Bears

The 1932 NFL title was an historical pivot point for the young league. At the completion of the regular season, the Chicago Bears and Portsmouth Spartans (today’s Detroit Lions) were tied. The Bears were 6-1-6 and the Spartans were 6-1-4. In those years, ties were dropped when determining the best record. In those low-scoring years, there were a lot of ties. The Bears and Spartans played in a quickly arranged game to determine the 1932 NFL Champion. This game would change professional football more than any game ever played. One of the most significant changes was the addition of an NFL Championship Game to the league schedule. Starting in 1933 the NFL title would be decided on the field with one final game.

NFL Championship Games

1933: Chicago Bears 23
          New York Giants 21

1934: New York Giants 30
          Chicago Bears 13

1935: Detroit Lions 26
          New York Giants 7

1936: Green Bay Packers 21
          Boston Redskins 6

1937: Washington Redskins 28
          Chicago Bears 21

1938: New York Giants 23
          Green Bay Packers 17

1939: Green Bay Packers 27
          New York Giants 0

1940: Chicago Bears 73
          Washington Redskins 0

1941: Chicago Bears 37
          New York Giants 9

1942: Washington Redskins 14
          Chicago Bears 6

1943: Chicago Bears 41
          Washington Redskins 21

1944: Green Bay Packers 14
          New York Giants 7

1945: Cleveland Rams 15
          Washington Redskins 14

1946: Chicago Bears 24
          New York Giants 14

1947: Chicago Cardinals 28
          Philadelphia Eagles 21

1948: Philadelphia Eagles 7
          Chicago Cardinals 0

1949: Philadelphia Eagles 14
          Los Angeles Rams 0

At this point, I must introduce the All-America Football Conference. The NFL was challenged by “another league” on several occasions through it’s 102 years. Most everyone knows about the American Football League. There were actually three of those. Red Grange and his squirrelly agent C.C. “Cash and Carry” Pyle formed the first AFL in 1926. It wasn’t successful and Grange was soon back with the Bears. There was an AFL in 1940. That was less successful than the first one. Then there’s the AFL in the 1960s. That was a success as all of the teams from that league are now members of the NFL. The All-America Football Conference was formed in 1946. As players returned home from World War II and the country returned to some degree of normalcy, a few football dreamers decided that there was room for two leagues. The AAFC rivaled the NFL for four seasons. If success of “another league” is measured by it’s eventual absorption into the NFL, the AAFC was a partial success. The Cleveland Browns, San Francisco 49ers, and Baltimore Colts joined the NFL in 1950. The Colts team that joined the NFL in 1950 is not the Colts team that’s playing in Indianapolis today. It’s not even the Colts team that won titles for Baltimore in the late 1950s. The Colts team that joined the NFL in 1950 folded after a single season. The Colts team that’s playing in Indianapolis today finds it’s origins with the New York Yanks franchise that floundered in 1951, moved to Dallas, became the Texans, and folded after the 1952 season. That Yanks/Texans franchise was re-born as the Baltimore Colts in 1953. The absorption of the Browns and 49ers from the AAFC in 1950 and the clunky Colts (re)addition in 1953 would change the NFL title landscape. The incredibly talented Browns team would do so immediately. The Colts would do so soon. The 49ers would eventually have their title run.

Back to the NFL Championship Games.

1950: Cleveland Browns 30
          Los Angeles Rams 28

1951: Los Angeles Rams 24
          Cleveland Browns 17

1952: Detroit Lions 17
          Cleveland Browns 7

1953: Detroit Lions 17
          Cleveland Browns16

1954: Cleveland Browns 56
          Detroit Lions 10

1955: Cleveland Browns 38
          Los Angeles Rams 14

1956: New York Giants 47
          Chicago Bears 7

1957: Detroit Lions 59
          Cleveland Browns 14

1958: Baltimore Colts 23
          New York Giants 17

1959: Baltimore Colts 31
          New York Giants 16

Here, we must depart from the NFL titles to introduce the AFL titles. The American Football League joined the football fun in 1960 with eight teams peppered about the country. The eight owners, the “Foolish Club,” were determined and wealthy. Some were very, very wealthy. They also had a TV contract and they knew how to use it. The eight owners weren’t foolish. By the end of the decade, all eight teams and two teams added along the way would become part of the NFL.

AFL Championship Games

1960: Houston Oilers 24
          Los Angeles Chargers 16

1961: Houston Oilers 10
          San Diego Chargers 3

1962: Dallas Texans 20
          Houston Oilers 17

1963: San Diego Chargers 51
          Boston Patriots 10

1964: Buffalo Bills 20
          San Diego Chargers 7

1965: Buffalo Bills 23
          San Diego Chargers 0

1966: Kansas City Chiefs 31
          Buffalo Bills 7

1967: Oakland Raiders 40
          Houston Oilers 7

1968: New York Jets 27
          Oakland Raiders 23

1969: Kansas City Chiefs 17
          Oakland Raiders 7

Back to the NFL Championship Games

NFL Championship Games

1960: Philadelphia Eagles 17
          Green Bay Packers 13

1961: Green Bay Packers 37
          New York Giants 0

1962: Green Bay Packers 16
          New York Giants 7

1963: Chicago Bears 14
          New York Giants 10

1964: Cleveland Browns 27
          Baltimore Colts 0

1965: Green Bay Packers 23
          Cleveland Browns 12

1966: Green Bay Packers 34
          Dallas Cowboys 27

1967: Green Bay Packers 21
          Dallas Cowboys 17

1968: Baltimore Colts 34
          Cleveland Browns 0

1969: Minnesota Vikings 27
          Cleveland Browns 7

The NFL and AFL agreed to merge in June of 1966. Since the two leagues didn’t fully merge until the 1970 season, it would seem that the only thing to come out of the 1966 agreement was to hold a championship game between the two leagues. There was much more to it than that. Pete Rozelle became the commissioner of both leagues, there was a combined draft, and the junior league adopted the same playing rules of the senior league. The AFL competed their final four seasons under the umbrella of the NFL. The only thing kept separate between the two leagues was their regular season and playoffs. At the end of the 1966 season, the champions of the NFL played the champions of the AFL for the first time. The game had names like “World Championship Game” or “AFL-NFL World Championship.” That game wasn’t called the “Super Bowl” when it was played. Neither was the 1967 game. Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt came up with “Super Bowl” as the name for the game. He was inspired by the Wham-o Super Ball toy with which his children played. I’ve heard various tales as to when “Super Bowl” was officially put into use. Supposedly, it became the official name during the 1968 season. However, the ticket of what should be Super Bowl III had “Third World Championship Game” printed on it. Perhaps the tickets were printed before the decision was made. Who knows? Sometimes, I feel like I’m the only one that even cares. All of the games are Super Bowls now. Through the 2021 season, there have been 56 Super Bowls. Here are those games and the NFL champions from 1966-2021.

Super Bowl Champs

1966
Super Bowl I
Green Bay Packers 35
Kansas City Chiefs 10

1967
Super Bowl II
Green Bay Packers 33
Oakland Raiders 14

1968
Super Bowl III
New York Jets 16
Baltimore Colts 7

1969
Super Bowl IV
Kansas City Chiefs 23
Minnesota Vikings 7

1970
Super Bowl V
Baltimore Colts 16
Dallas Cowboys 13

1971
Super Bowl VI
Dallas Cowboys 24
Miami Dolphins 3

1972
Super Bowl VII
Miami Dolphins 14
Washington Redskins 7

1973
Super Bowl VIII
Miami Dolphins 24
Minnesota Vikings 7

1974
Super Bowl IX
Pittsburgh Steelers 16
Minnesota Vikings 6

1975
Super Bowl X
Pittsburgh Steelers 21
Dallas Cowboys 17

1976
Super Bowl XI
Oakland Raiders 32
Minnesota Vikings 14

1977
Super Bowl XII
Dallas Cowboys 27
Denver Broncos 10

1978
Super Bowl XIII
Pittsburgh Steelers 35
Dallas Cowboys 31

1979
Super Bowl XIV
Pittsburgh Steelers 31
Los Angeles Rams 19

1980
Super Bowl XV
Oakland Raiders 27
Philadelphia Eagles 10

1981
Super Bowl XVI
San Francisco 49ers 26
Cincinnati Bengals 21

1982
Super Bowl XVII
Washington Redskins 27
Miami Dolphins 17

1983
Super Bowl XVIII
Los Angeles Raiders 38
Washington Redskins 9

1984
Super Bowl XIX
San Francisco 49ers 38
Miami Dolphins 16

1985
Super Bowl XX
Chicago Bears 46
New England Patriots 10

1986
Super Bowl XXI
New York Giants 39
Denver Broncos 20

1987
Super Bowl XXII
Washington Redskins 42
Denver Broncos 10

1988
Super Bowl XXIII
San Francisco 49ers 20
Cincinnati Bengals 16

1989
Super Bowl XXIV
San Francisco 49ers 55
Denver Broncos 10

1990
Super Bowl XXV
New York Giants 20
Buffalo Bills 19

1991
Super Bowl XXVI
Washington Redskins 37
Buffalo Bills 24

1992
Super Bowl XXVII
Dallas Cowboys 52
Buffalo Bills 17

1993
Super Bowl XVIII
Dallas Cowboys 30
Buffalo Bills 13

1994
Super Bowl XXIX
San Francisco 49ers 49
San Diego Chargers 26

1995
Super Bowl XXX
Dallas Cowboys 27
Pittsburgh Steelers 17

1996
Super Bowl XXXI
Green Bay Packers 35
New England Patriots 21

1997
Super Bowl XXXII
Denver Broncos 31
Green Bay Packers 24

1998
Super Bowl XXXIII
Denver Broncos 34
Atlanta Falcons 19

1999
Super Bowl XXXIV
St. Louis Rams 23
Tennessee Titans 16

2000
Super Bowl XXXV
Baltimore Ravens 34
New York Giants 7

2001
Super Bowl XXXVI
New England Patriots 20
Los Angeles Rams 17

2002
Super Bowl XXXVII
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 48
Oakland Raiders 21

2003
Super Bowl XXXVIII
New England Patriots 32
Carolina Panthers 29

2004
Super Bowl XXXIX
New England Patriots 24
Philadelphia Eagles 21

2005
Super Bowl XL
Pittsburgh Steelers 21
Seattle Seahawks 10

2006
Super Bowl XLI
Indianapolis Colts 29
Chicago Bears 17

2007
Super Bowl XLII
New York Giants 17
New England Patriots 14

2008
Super Bowl XLIII
Pittsburgh Steelers 27
Arizona Cardinals 23

2009
Super Bowl XLIV
New Orleans Saints 31
Indianapolis Colts 17

2010
Super Bowl XLV
Green Bay Packers 31
Pittsburgh Steelers 25

2011
Super Bowl XLVI
New York Giants 21
New England Patriots 17

2012
Super Bowl XLVII
Baltimore Ravens 34
San Francisco 49ers 31

2013
Super Bowl XLVIII
Seattle Seahawks 43
Denver Broncos 8

2014
Super Bowl XLIX
New England Patriots 28
Seattle Seahawks 24

2015
Super Bowl L
Denver Broncos 24
Carolina Panthers 10

2016
Super Bowl LI
New England Patriots 34
Atlanta Falcons 28

2017
Super Bowl LII
Philadelphia Eagles 41
New England Patriots 33

2018
Super Bowl LIII
New England Patriots 13
Los Angeles Rams 3

2019
Super Bowl LIV
Kansas City Chiefs 31
San Francisco 49ers 20

2020
Super Bowl LV
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31
Kansas City Chiefs 9

2021
Super Bowl LVI
Los Angeles Rams 23
Cincinnati Bengals 20


NFL Titles Tally
13 Green Bay Packers
9 Chicago Bears
8 New York Giants
6 New England Patriots
6 Pittsburgh Steelers
5 Washington Commanders
5 Dallas Cowboys
5 San Francisco 49ers
4 Los Angeles Rams
4 Cleveland Browns
4 Indianapolis Colts
4 Philadelphia Eagles
4 Detroit Lions
3 Denver Broncos
3 Las Vegas Raiders
2 Miami Dolphins
2 Arizona Cardinals
2 Kansas City Chiefs
2 Baltimore Ravens
2 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2 Canton Bulldogs
1 Seattle Seahawks
1 New Orleans Saints
1 New York Jets
1 Providence Steam Roller
1 Frankford Yellow Jackets
1 Cleveland Bulldogs
1 Akron Pros


I’m often thinking about football. Those thoughts range from current Vikings stuff to past Vikings stuff to current NFL stuff to past NFL stuff. It’s a lot of stuff. Football stuff. I’m currently
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Oct 4, 2022 21:37:38 GMT -6 3 Replies
Welcome to the first edition of Purple Pain Rookie Watch, where I will keep you up to speed on how the 2022 rookie class is progressing. I will probably post every 3-4 weeks and see how things develop, but if a rookie does something big you'll hear about it here.

So let's get started with the guy who has been very productive and is my current favorite for OROY, Chris Olave. Through 4 weeks, Olave has 21 receptions for 355 yards and 1TD. He leads all rookies with 83.8 receiving yards per game, which is 10th overall for WRs. He averages 16 yards per reception (15th overall) which is higher than both Tyreek Hill & Davante Adams and he's doing all this despite the underwhelming QB play displayed by the Saints. 

The next player, and the early pick for DROY is Devin Lloyd, who has been outstanding on a revitalized Jacksonville defense. He has accumulated 38 tackles, 6 pass deflections, 2 ints and has been a revelation in pass coverage allowing just a 28.5 passer rating against and 4.3 yards per completion. Lloyd has been like a Swiss army knife for the Jaguars, lining up all over the place and making plays on all levels of the defense. He'll be a fun player to watch as the season unfolds.

I can't do a post on rookies and not touch on the Steelers decision to move Kenny Pickett into the starting QB role. This is the right move going forward as it will give Pickett the opportunity to learn and develop as well as building some chemistry with his team mates. The only reservation I have is OC Matt Canada, who I don't rate very highly as a play caller or an NFL caliber OC for that matter.

To close out this edition of Rookie Watch, let's look at a couple of late rounders.
Zander Horvath has 3 recs for 7 yards.....and 2TDs! Crazy stuff and a dream start for the Chargers 7th rounder.

4th round Houston running back Dameon Pierce is off to a nice start with 313 yds and 2 tds on 60 carries. A great effort on a team that has a long way to go.

And for those that didn't see it, George Pickens has wrapped up Rookie Play of the Year with this effort:

Welcome to the first edition of Purple Pain Rookie Watch, where I will keep you up to speed on how the 2022 rookie class is progressing. I will probably post every 3-4 wee
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Sept 4, 2022 17:54:45 GMT -6 9 Replies
As a young Minnesota Vikings fan looking forward to Super Bowl XI, I devoured all written content on the big game. Since I lived about 90 miles from Oakland that written content was mostly Raiders-centric. The San Francisco Chronicle ran an article that shook the football world that I was just beginning to understand. The article detailed the remarkable connection between the Minnesota Vikings and Oakland Raiders. Before they were a member of the National Football League, the Vikings were aligned with the American Football League. 

This is a Minnesota Vikings origin story.

The National Football League finally found stability and some prosperity in the 1950s. Each of the previous three decades had been a struggle. The league’s 12 teams wanted it to continue. Several very wealthy businessmen wanted to be a part of the professional football fun. The league’s 12 teams didn’t want to share. For most of them, this was their livelihood. They didn’t need or want any rich guys grabbing a piece of what they had worked so hard to build. That didn’t stop very wealthy businessmen used to getting their way. In the late 1950s, NFL Commissioner Bert Bell was getting a lot of visits from these businessmen. Lamar Hunt was the most persistent. He was the son of Dallas oilman Haroldson Lafayette Hunt. Fortune Magazine in 1948 called the self-made billionaire the world’s wealthiest man. With a trust fund from his father, Lamar Hunt set out to make his own mark. He was drawn to sports and football was his first love. He wanted to own a professional football team. He had the money, he had the dream, and he most certainly had the conviction. Hunt visited Bell for the first time in the spring of 1958. The Commissioner repeatedly told him there would be no expansion of the NFL. The owners wouldn’t allow it. A unanimous vote of the owners was required to approve any new team. Washington Redskins owner George Preston Marshall, an unrelenting racist and all-around dirtbag, was a staunch opponent of expansion on general principle. The Chicago Cardinals were opposed out of self-interest. The team’s owners were considering a move and wanted to keep all of their options open. Despite not being at all interested in actually expanding, the NFL did form a committee to explore expansion possibilities in 1958. The committee never met and was eventually pared down to Chicago Bears owner George Halas, of course, and Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney. For all practical purposes, Halas was the expansion committee. Anyone interested in entering the exclusive club of the National Football League first visited Bell and then visited Halas.

Hunt wasn’t the only wealthy businessman calling on Bell. And Halas. Houston oilman Bud Adams came calling. So did representatives from Seattle, Buffalo, New Orleans, Denver, Miami, and Minneapolis. Bell and Halas saw a lot of interested people. The Minneapolis group centered around three prominent Twin Cities businessmen - Max Winter, E. William Boyer, and H.P. Skoglund. Ole Haugsrud was the owner of the Duluth Eskimos in the 1920s. He held an “open contract” to have the first chance at a franchise if the NFL ever decided to return to Minnesota. If the Minneapolis businessmen were successful in prying open the NFL’s doors, Haugsrud had a standing invite to be a part of the ownership group. Whenever Hunt, Adams, Winter, and the rest called on Bell and/or Halas they were `usually told two things. “No” and “Go see the Wolfners.” 

A significant portion of this drama revolved around the Chicago Cardinals. They were one of the few teams in the league that was struggling. They were struggling on the field, off the field, and in sharing Chicago with the Bears. The Cardinals, once owned by the late Charles Bidwill, was now owned by his widow, Violet, and her new husband, St. Louis businessman Walter Wolfner. The future of the Cardinals was so uncertain that they occasionally played home games in other cities to gauge fan interest in those cities. Would the team move? Would the owners sell? Who knew? The NFL often called it “the Chicago situation.” If the league ever wanted to expand they had to first settle the situation with the Cardinals. At least that’s what they said to anyone outside the league. I believe that Bell only wanted a stable Cardinals franchise and Halas only wanted Chicago to himself. Both would be accomplished with the team in the hands of a new owner. Both Bell and Halas wanted the Wolfners to sell the Cardinals. Wolfner didn’t want to sell but he sure liked the attention brought to him by Hunt, Adams, Winter, etc. Directing these rich guys to the Cardinals owners turned out to be a mistake for the NFL. None of these businessmen knew about each other. At least, they didn’t know about each other’s interest in professional football. Through his boasting about all his recent visitors, Wolfner introduced them. He let Hunt know that there were others. This gave the little kid with a trust fund a brilliant idea. If the NFL wouldn’t let him into their league, he’d start a new league. 

Before Hunt moved on his new league plan, he visited Bert Bell one final time in March 1959. He’d been making these visits for an entire year. Again, Hunt was told that the league couldn’t expand until resolving the Cardinals situation. Again, he was directed to Halas. He already knew that he was never going to get anywhere with the Bears owner. His plan for a new league had moved from just an idea. 

By turning away a parade of rich guys, the NFL (Wolfner) had inadvertently given Lamar Hunt a list of potential owners. He started recruiting those owners. He soon had six interested individuals/groups and cities.

Dallas - Lamar Hunt
Houston - Bud Adams
Denver - Bob Howsam
Los Angeles - Barron Hilton
New York - Harry Wismer
Minneapolis - Max Winter, E. William Boyer, H.P. Skoglund

With the National Hockey League in mind, Hunt thought six teams was a sufficient number. On August 3 1959, from the Houston office of Bud Adams, Hunt announced the formation of the American Football League. On August 14, 1959, the new professional football league met for the first time in the Imperial South Suite of the Chicago Hilton.

Hunt’s bold move to form the AFL brought a surprising ally. Bert Bell. The NFL’s commissioner welcomed the challenge of a rival league. He thought that the NFL’s competition with the All-America Football Conference from 1946-49 was a good thing. He didn’t think that at the time. 10 years later, he did. Bell told Hunt that he was available if he ever needed any advice. The commissioner of the NFL would be a confidant to the man starting a rival league. Bell’s first piece of advice for Hunt. Get eight teams. And pool any TV money. 

Two weeks after that first AFL meeting, the NFL responded. On August 29, 1959, at a press conference before the Chicago Bears - Pittsburgh Steelers preseason game, Halas and Rooney announced that the NFL was expanding. The league planned to award franchises the following January to begin competition in 1961. The two most likely cities were Dallas and Houston.

Hunt, Adams, Winter, all of these rich guys had been talking, pleading, negotiating with NFL people for at least a year. The answer was always “No.” Now, after they’d taken matters into their own hands, the NFL did what they said couldn’t be done. Apparently, it could be done but it had to be done on their terms. Tossing out Dallas and Houston as the likely cities was a lure for the apparent leaders of the new league. Surely, Hunt and Adams would jump at the chance at NFL franchises in their home cities. Take out the leaders and the new league would crumble. Halas, and the NFL’s owners, didn’t understand what they’d help to create. Hunt stayed committed to the owners that he recruited and the new league that he’d put together. The AFL moved forward and the Minneapolis group was a loyal member of the new league. 

Much of what the NFL had become by the late 1950s was due to the unique guidance of Bert Bell. His love of professional football was such that he could help and befriend a man that posed a threat to his league. Football is fun and more football is even better. There was room for more teams. There was room for another league. Perhaps that’s how Bell saw it. The NFL and professional football changed on October 11, 1959. While sitting in the Franklin Field stands watching the Steelers play the Eagles, the two teams that he once owned, Bert Bell collapsed from a massive heart attack. 

Hunt took his late friend’s advice and recruited Ralph Wilson (Buffalo) and Billy Sullivan (Boston) to the AFL. The new league had eight teams.  

With the teams in place, it was time to draft some players. A professional football league isn’t a league until it holds a draft. You can’t have a team without players. You can’t have players without a draft. The members of the new league came together the weekend of November 21-22, 1959. Considering all that was about to happen, it was convenient that the AFL’s first draft was held at the Nicollet Hotel in Minneapolis. The drama started the day before the draft. In the aftermath of Bell’s death, Halas took a more aggressive role in trying to lure Hunt and Adams over to the NFL. It didn’t work and Halas turned his attention to the Minneapolis group. It probably involved Sid Hartman. The Minneapolis Star Tribune sportswriter was good friends with Winter, Skoglund, and Boyer and had been their contact guy with Halas. Hartman apparently drove Halas crazy. So crazy that Halas once told Hartman that he’d give Minnesota a franchise just to get him off his back. Halas contacted Winter about jumping to the NFL. They talked. Halas probably leaked the talk to the press as rumors swirled immediately.

From Michael MacCambridge’s terrific book America’s Game:

Harry Wismer burst through the door, visibly agitated, carrying a newspaper under his arm. Someone asked if he was ready for dinner. “Yes!” he shouted, slamming the paper on the conference table. “And this is the last supper!” Pointing at Max Winter of the Minneapolis group, he added, “And he’s Judas!”

The headline of the next day’s edition of the “Minneapolis Star Tribune” read “MINNESOTA TO GET AN NFL FRANCHISE” and detailed the back-channel negotiations by Halas on behalf of the NFL. While the Minneapolis group had not been the very first to join the new league, they were considered a crucial franchise in the upper Midwest, and had played a vital role in the league’s early formation. Their abdication to the NFL, expertly engineered behind the scenes by Halas was a major blow to the AFL, and a victory for the older league, which seemed likely to approve expansion to Dallas and Minneapolis-St. Paul at its annual meetings in January. 


Charley Johnson may have written the Star-Tribune article but it might as well have been dictated by George Halas. The Minnesota defection was still just a rumor but things weren’t going as Lamar Hunt had dreamed. The new league’s members were reeling. An emergency meeting lasted until the early morning hours. Winter departed around 2:00 AM and made the following statement to the press: “I have withdrawn from the Minneapolis-St. Paul Football picture as far as the American League is concerned.” That left Skoglund as the only member of the Minneapolis group for the remainder of the new league’s big weekend. After the late night/early morning meeting, Hunt told reporters that Minneapolis was still in the AFL.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding the Minneapolis group, there was still a draft to hold. The AFL’s first draft was strange. Partly because there was a question whether one of the team’s participating was even still part of the league. Mostly because only three teams (Dallas, Denver, and Los Angeles) had anyone there even remotely qualified to judge and select players. As a result, those three “general managers” kind of selected for everyone. First, they had a “territorial” draft. Each team received a player that played their college ball in that team’s region. Then, the three “general managers” would separate the eight best players at each position, put those names in a hat, and have each team blindly select a player. Each position was addressed in this manner. To fill out the entire roster, the draft lasted 33 rounds. The AFL Draft was held about a month before the NFL Draft to hopefully get a jump on signing the college prospects. Each team had to put together an entire roster. They weren’t just adding to one. 

Among the players assigned to the Minnesota AFL franchise:

Dale Hackbart, QB, Wisconsin - territorial selection
Maxie Baughan, C, Georgia Tech
Carroll Dale, End, Virginia Tech
Abner Haynes, RB, North Texas State
Jim Otto, C, Miami

Dale Hackbart would eventually play defensive back for the Vikings from 1966-70.

Following the draft, it felt like Minnesota’s time in the AFL was over. During the first week of January 1960, the Minneapolis ownership group made it official. They withdrew from the AFL. One would think that if George Halas had done the recruiting that entry into the NFL was a given. According to Cleveland Browns head coach Paul Brown, it wasn’t a done deal. The owners voted on the league’s expansion at their annual meeting in late January. Brown said that a straw poll revealed there wasn’t enough votes for approval. It’s a good thing that Brown was there to save the day for Winter, Skoglund, Boyer, and Haugsrud. 

From PB: The Paul Brown Story:

I was upset and told the owners, “We had promised these people they could have a franchise in our league. If we make a promise like that, we must deliver.”

When the meeting recessed, I saw how angry Max Winter and Charley Johnson, the sports editor of the “Minneapolis Tribune,” were getting, and when the meeting reopened, I was more determined than ever to press hard for fulfillment.

”If we promised these people, then we must fulfill that promise,” I told them again. “We can’t vote against this just because one or two people might not like the idea of having to take a lesser cut of the revenue pie. Our word has to mean something, and if we don’t give them the franchise, the American Football League will move in and make tremendous capital of the way we mishandled this matter.”

That did it, and the Vikings were voted into the NFL.


I’m sure that Brown played a role in getting Minnesota into the NFL but I question his heroic view of his efforts. I believe that it was more a combination of Halas and Brown as well as completing the blow to the AFL.

After playing the role of Minnesota savior, Brown felt a degree of responsibility for the league’s new team. At the Browns 1960 training camp, he invited Vikings personnel director Joe Thomas to view some of the Browns players that might have difficulty making the team’s roster. This little favor resulted in the trade that brought Jim Marshall, Paul Dickson, Jim Prestel, Jamie Caleb, Dick Grencni, and Bill Gault to Minnesota. 

On January 28, 1960, the Minneapolis ownership group of Max Winter, E. William Boyer, H.P. Skoglund, Ole Haugsrud, and Bernard H. Ridder Jr. were granted an NFL franchise. The team would begin play in 1961. 

Two months after the Minneapolis group unofficially bolted from the AFL, the new league found their eighth team. The choice of Oakland was actually one of necessity. Los Angeles owner Barron Hilton threatened to drop out if he wasn’t given a geographic rival. As that Chronicle article revealed to me in early 1977, the Oakland Raiders were an AFL team because the Minnesota Vikings weren’t. The Raiders got Minnesota’s spot in the league as well as their strange draft class. A class that included Jim Otto. 

I’ve often wondered if I would’ve become a fan of the Minnesota Vikings if they’d lived the AFL life. Being from California, I had no geographic ties to the team. Becoming a fan just happened. I don’t remember a time when I was interested in football and not interested in the Vikings. As soon as I discovered the purple uniforms, horned helmet, amazing defense, scrambling quarterback, incredible coach, and snowy games, I was hooked. It really was love at first sight. Once it hit I was interested in the team’s past as well as their present. I preferred the NFC and by extension the pre-merger NFL. That included the 41 NFL years before the Vikings were born.As a young Minnesota Vikings fan looking forward to Super Bowl XI, I devoured all written content on the big game. Since I lived about 90 miles from Oakland that written content was mostly
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"Heard it from a friend who, 
heard it from a friend who, 
heard it from another you've been messin' around...
...you're under the gun, now you take it on the run..."

If you're a Generation X'er or Baby Boomer, then there's a good chance you know what song those lyrics belong to 1981's" Take it on the Run" by REO Speedwagon - a rock band formed in the late '60s in Champaign, Illinois, which is Chicago Bears country....the team the Vikings face in Week 5. 

And while that hit song is about a failed relationship, it also became this week's inspiration and gameplan for a variety of reasons, not the least of which refers to the "relationship" Vikings fans have had with the team. Yeah, they were "messin' around" on Love Boats and they've "failed" to win a Super Bowl....but right now they're 3-1...and on top of the NFC North...and they're takin' another Divisional win this weekend, baby, and they're gonna "take it on the run"! 

For all you Generation X'ers and Baby Boomers, get out your Trapper Keepers and take notes on how exactly we're gonna do that in this week's edition of Purple Path Forward...

...everyone else?



The 2022 Chicago Bears: "They are who we thought they were"

Before we get to how we beat the Bears, we have to understand who the Bears are, and quite frankly, the late Dennis Green said it better than you or I could ever say it: 



If you thought the 2022 Bears - under first-time head coach Matt Eberflus and second-year QB Justin Fields - were a team that still can't develop a QB to save their life and win primarily through running the ball on offense, while playing solid pass/red zone defense (something you can cut-n-paste to describe every Bears team that ever existed), we'll "crown" ya.

If you didn't think that? Well, unlike Denny, we'll "let 'ya off the hook", and provide the 2022 statistics below to visually show you, courtesy of the USA Today Bearswire site (link):

Beyond those, here are a few additional statistics that I gathered after doing my best Leslie impersonation of "reviewing the tape" of 2022 Bears games:

- Fields has the 3rd most rushing attempts of any QB thru 4 weeks at 34, with only Hurts (51) and L Jackson (37) with more. 
- The Bears have not allowed a 2nd half TD all season, a credit to defensive-minded HC Matt Eberflus and their halftime adjustments.

Hmmm...a top-five rushing offense with a QB that rushes a bunch...a top-five passing defense that doesn't allow teams to score in the Red Zone or in the 2nd half. Wait, haven't the Vikings given up the 10th most rushing yards so far? And hasn't 984, or 72%, of the teams total offensive yard total of 1,376 come through the air? And didn't we have trouble in the Red Zone against the Saints getting TDs? And haven't the Vikings been a 2nd half team - really a 4th qtr team - the past two weeks?

Are we sure that Vegas got the line right for this game with the Vikings -7.5?

"Ok, Ok Coach..simmer down...if you knew who they were, then why didn't you stop 'em?"



Good question, and I'll give 'ya four reasons why we don't have to:

1) The Bears stop themselves. Wanna know which team has run the third-fewest No. of offensive plays at 227 and has the seventh-shortest avg drive time at 2:29 per drive? That one was easy. Here's a tougher one: ever hear of Braxton Jones? Sam Mustipher? Lucas Patrick? Larry Borom? No? Me neither, until I actually watched some 2022 Chicago tape. They are some of the starters along the Bears' OL this season and are primarily responsible for the Bears having the third-most enforced false start penalties (7) through Week 4. That, combined with rookie LT Braxton Jones allowing 11 pressures and 4 sacks through four games will stop any positive drives in their tracks. 

2) Costly Turnovers. The Bears have a net turnover differential of 0 through four weeks, which by itself isn't exactly horrible; Coach Eberflus is continuing the long tradition of a Bears Defense doing the Peanut Tillman "punch" and thriving off turnovers, but it's been the giveaways that have been costly. The Bears have turned it over seven times, but four of those have come in the 2nd half and three of the four in the 4th quarter. They're in "rebuild mode" with youth at key positions, and with that comes costly mistakes in the clutch. 

3) Justin Fields: Effective runner, or running for his life? Remember when I mentioned earlier that Fields has the third-most rushing attempts of any NFL QB through four weeks? While that's true and Fields is very athletic/effective in the open field, here's where I put that into a bit of context. Fields has 146 rushing yards on those 34 attempts, and all but 133 of those yards came on scrambles. What that means is that the Bears offense, under former Packers QB coach Luke Getsy and former Vikings QB coach Andrew Janocko, isn't designing runs for Fields in the same way the Bills, Ravens, Giants, and Eagles do for their athletic starting QBs, and Fields often picks up those yards when he had no other option. Or, because his ability to read a defense pre/post snap isn't where it should be yet, he's bailing on clean pockets when his first read isn't there. Or, and more closely associated with reason No. 1, he has an inexperienced OL in front of him that doesn't give him clean pockets, and he's having to scramble around and run for his life.

4) They don't stop anybody else. Yes, having the third-best rushing offense has certainly helped the Bears to victories in a sloppy Soldier Field during Week 1 against the 49ers and a Texans team that ranks second-worst in rushing defense in Week 3. But you have to stop the opposing team once in a while, too, and even though the Texans have the league's second-worst rushing defense, guess who's the worst? Even though they are a strong rushing team themselves, the Bears have been outgained on the ground in three of their four matchups so far and six of the eight TDs they've allowed this season have come on rushes (the actual number is five of eight, but I'm counting an Aaron Rodgers forward "toss" TD to Aaron Jones as a rush). 

And on that last point, we circle back to the Purple Path Forward gameplan for this Week 5 divisional matchup against the Bears...

"Take it on the run..."

With all the hype on Justin Jefferson breaking receiving records and Irv Smith Jr. "breaking out" in Year 4, the focal point, at least for this week vs the Bears, is focusing on another statistic: that Chicago remains the worst rush defense in the league AFTER Week 5. 

But how? Haven't we been continuing to see Dalvin run into brick walls a bunch on early downs, which is causing us to get into more 3rd-and-long situations than necessary? Yes, we have, because, quite frankly, our play-calling and the blocking schemes have been lazy...

Case in point: in the Week 4 game vs the Saints, the Vikings' defense stopped the Saints opening 3rd quarter drive and received the ball up 13-7, hoping to start putting nails in the Saints' coffin with a long TD drive. Then on 1st & 10, we line up Cook behind Ham with a TE (Ellefson) on the right side:



What happens? Well, it's a straight hand-off to Cook to the right side with no misdirection, no pre-snap motion, and no pulling OL - it's straight-up power football (almost like we had Adrian Peterson back there) and you already know what happens without me captioning it: Bradbury and Ellefson get driven into the backfield, and Cook tries to follow through Ham between those two, but both the Saints DL easily get off those blocks and blow up that play for a 1-yd gain:



On 2nd down, Cousins misfires to Jefferson and all of a the sudden, we're 3rd and long, which has been trouble for this team recently. In the above pic, you'd like to think Cook could bounce that outside to the right (outside of Ellefson) if he initially sees some OL are getting pushed back in the backfield, but I'm not sure Cook has that "step" in his game anymore - to bounce things out on a dime and have enough speed to get around the edge. 

So what's the solution? How do we have the success against the Bears' 32nd-ranked rushing defense that their opponents have had so far?

Glad you asked...because, well, I spent time watching the Bears' opponents and although the rushers they faced were different than the Vikings (mish-mish of Deebo, Elijah Mitchell, Jeff Wilson, Trey Lance in Week 1, Aaron Jones/A.J. Dillon in Week 2, Dameon Pierce in Week 3 and Saquon Barkley/Daniel Jones in Week 4), there have been a few holes in that Swiss-cheese Bears rush defense that have looked familiar across those four games...

One of those similarities has been pulling the OL. Intead of going toe-to-toe with Eberflus's patented 4-3 defense, all four Bear opponents were able to have a level of success rushing the football when OL have pulled around, created lanes/double-blocks, etc, and the RB followed behind that to get to the second level. 

In this example from the Week 3 game vs Houston, you have the Texans set up 1st & 10 from the Chicago 41 after a Bears punt and nice return by the Texas returner. They start out with RB Dameon Pierce in the backfield with their FB with a TE to the right side, and two WR to the left:



When the ball is snapped, the center (No. 54 Scott Quessenberry) and RG (No. 60 AJ Cann) pull to the right side, and while everyone else creates a clogged-up wall to the left, Cann takes care of the RDE, and Pierce has a clear lane to run behind not just the FB, but the center to the second level:



The result of this play was Pierce getting all the way down to the Chicago 17 yd line (I believe his longest rush of the game), which eventually led to a Texans TD and them taking a 14-10 lead midway through the 2nd quarter on the road. 

Another example is just the infamous McVay presnap motion/cutback run. How many times during the Zimmer era did teams use this against his 4-3 and Barr/Kendricks were out of position every time and never maintained that gap discipline? The Packers were driving the ball midway through the 2nd Qtr in Week 2 already up 10-7 and were looking to start pulling away from Chicago, who was fairly competitive at this point. But after a few plays, LaFleur dialed up the McVay pre-snap cutback run about four to five times in a row, Chicago did nothing to adjust, and the Packers ended up eventually scoring a TD to go up by ten and it essentially was the beginning of the end for the Bears on SNF. 

We've seen this action many, many times before...11 personnel with one RB, one TE and three WR. The WR farthest out goes in motion pre-snap from right-to-left to draw the attention of the defense to the left...



...the ball is snapped and the OL block to the left while the QB hands the ball off to the RB, who immediately cuts back to the right, and the defense is wide open to get to the second level, with the lone WR to the right and the RT to help block downfield:



Eberflus, like Zimmer (2018-2021 era, after McVay started really hammering this run in his inaugural 2017 season), did not make any adjustments and Rodgers/LaFleur ran tempo here to just drive this run home till the cows came home... 

How to beat the Bears



This isn't rocket science. The Bears are exactly who we think they are: a young team that makes mistakes, relies on running the ball well, but also gives up more ground to the opposing team than they get.

On offense, O'Connell, Wes Phillips and Cousins do not need to overthink this by trying to scheme Justin Jefferson open like Cooper Kupp: the Bears have a solid secondary with some young, up-and-coming players in Jaylon Johnson, Jaquan Brisker, and Kyler Gordon. Yes, Gordon is a rookie and can be beaten off the line and while you take that when it's there, you also ensure you are mixing in rushing plays against the porous Bears rush defense. And not just straight hand-offs to brick walls, either: O'Connell and OL coach Chris Kuper need to ensure they draw up the proper McVay/Shanahan runs (by mixing in the pre-snap motion/cutbacks, with the pulling OL runs) to keep Eberflus guessing which way the ball is going. The only thing I didn't mention from the game footage was that Chicago's "youth" on defense is also susceptible to another age 'ol football 101 defensive "no-no": they don't set the edge very well. Green Bay in Week 2 and especially the Giants in Week 4 exploited the Bears' DEs/LBs failing to set an edge and Aaron Jones and especially Daniel Jones were able to easily turn the corner to miles and miles of daylight ahead of them - heck, Daniel Jones' two TD runs were both exactly that: the Bears failing to set the edge on a bootleg. How can the Vikings exploit that without a mobile QB, you might ask? We have some speedy wideouts and we've seen a sprinkling of success on jet sweeps already this season. 

On defense, I know we're all begging for more QB pressure, but I do feel the gameplan should somewhat try to emulate the Week 1 approach against the Packers, who had a weak OL (especially at OT) and we feasted off of that. The Bears' OL is a true work-in-progress at this point, and Hunter/Z Smith should be able to have the same level of success they did at home vs the Packers. What Donatell could do is bring Harrison Smith down in the box a bunch more this game - especially early on - to try and stop the Bears' rushing attack and put pressure on Fields to beat us with his arm from the pocket, which he has not shown he has the ability to do with any consistency. 

"Take It on the Run"...it might be considered "classic rock" at this point, but everything that once was old always comes back in-style at some point, and when it comes to the Purple Path Forward in Week 5, we don't need to be "messin' around"...

Even Daniel and Johnny can agree on that...

"Heard it from a friend who,  heard it from a friend who,  heard it from another you've been messin' around... ...you're under the gun, now you take it o
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Nemesis: I'm going to copy Nov 16, 2022 21:00:40 GMT -6
andhesloose28: My wife left me for my father Nov 17, 2022 12:22:46 GMT -6
Nemesis: I'm an orphan Nov 17, 2022 16:07:38 GMT -6
Norseman: One week too late my friend! (roflmao) Nov 17, 2022 19:00:55 GMT -6
Norseman: Of course, it would negate my "bonus" pick..... Nov 17, 2022 19:01:28 GMT -6
blindguy: Is it just me or is it a complete joy to watch the packers REALLY SUCK! It feels good just to type that! Nov 18, 2022 21:13:22 GMT -6
sky4it: A wake up call to KOC and Kam, get better blocking or we are finished. Nov 20, 2022 18:55:08 GMT -6
blindguy: At least my pick 6 is looking good this week *GBsux* Nov 20, 2022 19:17:48 GMT -6
Nemesis: over . *lol* *point* Nov 22, 2022 11:27:17 GMT -6
Purple Pain: Pick 6 for Week 12 is up: purplepainforums.com/thread/6432/purple-pains-pick-week-12 Nov 23, 2022 9:06:21 GMT -6
Purple Pain: Just an FYI: there is only one divisional game this week, and it's on Thanksgiving. Get your picks in ASAP! Nov 23, 2022 9:06:53 GMT -6
Uncle: ^^On that same note, one of the upset options is NYG over Cowboys, and since you can't select the same game more than once, you can't pick the Giants as an upset option unless you want to forfeit the Divisional selection. Nov 23, 2022 9:19:28 GMT -6
Nemesis: Yeah I've been trying to explain that problem but... Nov 24, 2022 9:14:31 GMT -6
Norseman: It may have been a joke?? (I got nothin') Nov 24, 2022 11:32:29 GMT -6 *
stout93: Wow, that D-line is absolutely awful. But I guess that's what we deserve after neglecting it in the draft for the past 15 years... Nov 24, 2022 14:52:16 GMT -6
Reignman: If you go by the pre-2002 alignment, there are 5 division matchups this week. *whistle* Nov 24, 2022 17:30:51 GMT -6
Skol Troll: If you go by the pre-2002 alignment, Tom Brady's only in his 3rd year, which make his stats look reasonable. Nov 29, 2022 9:26:02 GMT -6
Purple Pain: Week 13 is up: purplepainforums.com/thread/6448/purple-pains-pick-week-13 Nov 30, 2022 9:11:43 GMT -6
Purple Pain: Week 14 for Pick 6 is up: purplepainforums.com/thread/6479/purple-pains-pick-week-14 Dec 7, 2022 9:04:42 GMT -6
gaskol: Darrisaw is back this week. The Vikes keep rolling. Dec 7, 2022 11:41:03 GMT -6
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