The Vikings' bad loss at Soldier Field a few weeks ago has little to no bearing on this game: the Vikes usually play well against the Bears at home: hanging with them when the Bears are good and the Vikes are bad, beating them soundly when they should.
This is the last Viking-Bear game to ever be played in Thunderdome: maybe the Vikes could invite Mike Ditka to watch from the sidelines? They could show highlights of this? I guess it's nice that Jim Harbaugh got to lose his last game in the Metrodome.
Oh, and one more thing: free Joe Webb! If the Vikings struggle with the passing game as they have been, my god, Leslie Frazier, give the team a chance to win. Christian Ponder has been bad in the sense that he has been totally and utterly unproductive. Consider his first half splits through 12 games of the season: he is averaging 9.5 completions, 87.3 yards, 5.76 yards per attempt, and .42 touchdowns in the first halves of games. He's actually not been much better in the second half, but often his completely nonexistent passing production gets slightly massaged away by passing attempts late in losing efforts. He's just doing nothing in the air to help the team move the ball. If Frazier had the guts to take Ponder out of that Green Bay game, maybe the Vikes would have won. If we have to watch the Vikes lose a winnable game because Frazier again leaves Ponder out there in his futility, the loss is as much on Frazier as it is on Ponder. If a man keeps taking a dump in my living room whenever I invite him over to visit, eventually, if I keep inviting him over, we're both responsible for that steamer on the floor.
Adrian Peterson and the Bad Passer Paradox
In 2007, the Viking quarterbacks were Tarvaris Jackson, Kelly Holcomb, and Brooks Bollinger. Adrian Peterson averaged 5.6 yards per carry. From '08-'11, Peterson's average dropped below five yards per carry (though never lower than 4.4). In 2012, the Viking passing game is at least as inept as it was that season. Peterson is averaging 6.2 yards per carry. What is going on? Here's my combination of observation and speculation.
When teams do not fear an offense's passing game, they stack the line of scrimmage, and there are fewer defensive backs lingering around behind those linebackers. So if a running back is good enough to get through that tough front (and the offensive line can open the holes), that RB has a decent chance for a very long run. Once he gets past the eight or nine man front, there's all sorts of open space, and a lot of players who are not up to the task of tackling a great RB running around back there.
In '07 and '12, there have been defensive fronts even on 1st and 10 that I've cringed at. Teams were all over the line of scrimmage ready to stop the run. Yet quite often the Viking offensive line played terrific, and Adrian Peterson displayed his skill at not being tackled, and he was able to break int the next level, where he could display his profound skill in the open field.
Barry Sanders was the RB for the Detroit Lions from 1989-1998. He is often pointed to as the great running back who languished on a bad team, but this isn't entirely right. The Lions made the playoffs four times in Sanders' 10 seasons, and he did have some offensive help in the underrated Herman Moore, who was superb in the middle of the '90s. He never had good quarterbacks, certainly, and during some stretches of his career it might be fair to say his QBs were no better than Tarvaris Jackson or Christian Ponder. But with the exception of '09, I think Adrian Peterson has had as little offensive help at QB and skill positions than Sanders ever had.
At Slate, Justin Peters writes about "the NFL's serious domestic violence problem," and includes a paragraph so bad I wouldn’t expect to see it in one of my freshman composition papers.
"There are approximately 1700 active players in the NFL, and by my count, about 2 percent of them have faced abuse or violence charges. I’m not sure how this compares to the general population, though I’d be interested to find out. I do know that, according to a very recent report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the overall national rate of intimate partner violence declined by 64 percent from 1994 to 2010. I would be very, very surprised if the NFL is matching this trend." (emphasis mine)
I in no way minimize the serious problem of domestic violence to expect writers on the subject to offer better support.
Other Interesting Games
Week 14 Games
Texans-Patriots. You might call this game a Monday Night Football game: I call it Fantasy Football Armageddon. It is late in the season, when peoples' seasons are really counting on it. And here we have a game with Arian Foster, Andre Johnson, Tom Brady, Stevan Ridley, Wes Welker, defenses, kickers, various decisions at wide receiver and tight end. Fantasy titles are going to be decided Monday night.
Kick Ass Links
"The Sports Tax That Everybody Pays" (Mother Jones)
Bench Christian Ponder (Jim Souhan, Paul Charchian)
Chad Greenway says to drink up (PFT).
I'm unable to go, but I'm way more excited about the opening of Union Depot than makes any rational or emotional sense.
Have a good weekend everybody. Except Bear fans.