Will The Vikings Show Up?

Before the Vikings game against the Lions last week I suggested the Vikes may be a tease with a soft part of the schedule coming up. My reasoning was that they were a better team that their upcoming foes and they would therefore look like a much better team than they actually were.

That was a disastrously wrong assumption.

The Vikings squeeked through with a victory against a Lions team and rookie quarterback against whom they should have dominated.

It was a very tough game to watch because the Vikes were uuuuug-ly.

The question today against a Bears team that looks fairly good and against surprisingly competent play of quarterback Kyle Orton is whether the Vikings can simply play consistently and minimize the mistakes. If they do that, they’ll have a decent chance of beating the Bears.

First, will the offensive line improve? Seriously, is this the same line that so dominated opponents last year? It sure doesn’t look like it. That line could produce running lanes for Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor even against defenses determined to shut down the ground game. That hasn’t happened this year. Last year they provided enough room for an indecisive quarterback to find receivers. This year, they have trouble giving the quick-trigger of Gus Frerotte enough time to find receivers downfield.

While we finally have an answer for the absence of fullback Thomas Tapeh, the fact doesn’t excuse starting Nahfu Tahi at fullback. Tahi was simply brutal last week. He consistently either got stood up by defenders at the line or blocked the wrong guy or simply whiffed. Oh, yeah; and Tahi dropped a pass. I’d love to see Jimmy Kleinsasser start at fullback; that would do a great deal to improve both the running and pass game.

The Bears, like everyone else, will be determined to shut down Adrian Peterson so it is imperative that our receivers catch the ball. And is it too much to ask Bernard Berrian not to stumble when chasing down the long ball?

This is a winnable game that would put us on top of the division. The only question is if the Vikes go for the jugular or continue to muddle through the season.

Preview – Minnesota Vikings vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

HBO’s Inside the NFL host to beat the today. His co-host and former receiver wouldn’t go that far. I will, of course, because the Vikings have an excellent chance to win this game.

It’s a safe assumption, after the Steelers beat the Bears by running the Bus down their thoats last week, that Pittsburgh will try and do the same this week against the Vikings; especially with nursing what everyone thinks is a broken thumb on his throwing hand. The Steelers have not had a deep passing game, so it’s also a safe assumption that the reason is Roethlisberger simply can’t throw the ball that far.

That’s good, because it allows the Vikes to focus on shutting down the run against a tough running team. The chatter has been that we’ve got to shut down bruising running back Jerome Bettis but if I’m Cowher, I’d put the rock in Willie Parker‘s hands because it makes more sense to start the faster back on the Field Turf of the Metrodome.

Regardless of whose in there for the Steelers, I’m confident of the Vikings ability to keep the running game in check. Pat Williams has been a monster this year and despite the excellent play of rookie DT C.J. Mosely, we get Kevin Williams back from injury today and that will definitely help.

This will be a game of ball control and field position for both teams. The Steelers want to run run run and the Vikings will want to run just enough to make the play-action-pass believable. And if the game will turn on field position, I’ll take the Vikings for three reasons: Robinson, Moore, and Kluwe.

If Koren Robinson and Mewelde Moore have some good kick returns today, it will go a long way toward putting the Vikings offense in position to put some points on the board. I’m not going to go all hating on punter Darren Bennett because he did us a favor last week by playing for the injured Chris Kluwe, or as we Vikings fans have taken to calling him: The Franchise. It was glaringly apparent how much we miss Kluwe’s 45 yard average last week. We get him back this week and if he continues the way he’s been playing all year, he will help set up a long field from which the Steelers must start their drives.

Finally, quarterback Brad Johnson has just found a way to win since he took over for Daunte Culpepper. It don’t always look pretty but a win’s a win and it’s hard not to feel confident in Johnson’s veteran savvy.