Vikings – Packers
If you believe the Vikings chances of making the playoffs are pretty much zero at this point (I certainly do), but there’s one game you absolutely, positively still need them to win, this is probably the game.
Losing to the Packers once in any season is bad enough. But to get swept? And for the third time in Brad Childress’ five seasons as Vikings head coach? That’s just more grist for the “Fire Childress Now!” club.
At this point in the season, analyzing matchups for any Vikings game is pointless. It’s pretty clear what the Vikings problems are: the quarterback is giving out turnovers like candy at Halloween; his blockers struggle to protect him; the pass rush is dead; the run defence has been vulnerable; and they aren’t forcing enough turnovers from their opponents. These reasons and much, much more, are why your 2010 Minnesota Vikings are 3-6 and sucking ass.
Meanwhile, the Packers are 6-3, on a roll and rested after a bye week.
Yet, just as the Vikings can always expect a tough game at Lambeau Field regardless of how good or bad the Packers might be, the same can be said for the Packers when they face the Vikings at the Metrodome. Green Bay has trouble winning there.
Is this an upset waiting to happen, with a bad Vikings team feeding off the noise and energy of the Metrodome crowd, playing inspired football, and beating a good Packers team?
Possibly. But watching a Vikings game in 2010 is like watching a re-run of your favorite TV show. You know how it’s going to turn out.
So I expect this game to be close. But I also expect Brett Favre to throw a costly interception or two. I expect Aaron Rodgers will have plenty of time to throw to Greg Jennings and Donald Driver. I expect the Vikings offence will struggle in the early going and the team will be behind at halftime. And I expect the Vikings to lose.
Packers 31 Vikings 24
Hasn’t enough bad stuff happened to the Vikings this year? And now we’ve got to have Sidney Rice’s future with the team questioned?
I hope Rice can play on Sunday. If nothing else, he can help the Vikings in the red zone where they’ve been generally awful this season.
Long term, I’m not sure what the Vikings have in mind for Rice. I’m not sure what Rice has in mind, either.
I’ve always thought Rice a great talent – he’s big, has got great hands, great body control, runs nice routes and is fast enough to make cornerbacks pay. I think the Vikings should be looking at signing him long-term.
But there are some concerns, namely injury concerns, which make the decision a difficult one for the Vikings.
Look at Rice’s track record and it’s a bit sketchy. He had a relatively promising but modest – statistically speaking – rookie season. During his sophomore season he was largely invisible, perhaps due to a lingering knee injury. In his third year he enjoyed a Pro Bowl year playing with a Hall of Fame quarterback enjoying an improbably good statistical season. This year, he’s been hurt again and hasn’t played a game.
Do you spend big bucks on a player who’s been injured two of his four seasons and produced very little in three of those four? And if you’re Rice, do you sign with a team with a pretty bleak looking quarterback situation heading into 2011?
I don’t want to give Sid any ideas, but New England would look like a nice landing spot I were him. The bad news for Rice is New England probably won’t sign him to a long-term deal or pay him top dollar right away.
The good news for Rice is he would be playing with a future Hall of Fame quarterback, playing for a future Hall of Fame coach, and knowing that those two individuals can bring out the best in a tall receiving threat who can make plays down the field (see Randy Moss circa 2007-2009).
It seems like a pretty good match for both sides, and a situation that must look a lot more attractive to Rice than what's currently going on in Minnesota.
When the Vikings signed Pat Williams in 2005, I thought he was exactly what the franchise needed – a space-eating defensive tackle that could occupy blockers and fortify a soft run defence.
The signing has worked out well for both sides. Williams has made a lot of money, is loved by the fan base and enjoys playing for the franchise. For the Vikings, Williams has been a key member of some league-best run stopping units, something that was unheard for the team before he arrived.
Now Big Pat is saying he’d like to play a couple of more seasons – even though he’s 38 and is the oldest defensive player in the NFL.
If that’s the case, I hope it isn’t with the Vikings. I just haven’t seen Williams play at the level I’m used to seeing this year. I’m not seeing him pushing opposing lineman back. I’m not seeing him getting penetration. I’m not seeing him swallowing up running backs at the line of scrimmage or chasing them down from behind.
What I have been seeing is teams like the Saints and Patriots play keep away late in games by running the ball on the Vikings.
Two seasons ago, that never would have happened. But then, two seasons ago, Pat Williams was still Pat Williams. I don’t think he is anymore.