Posts for nfl

Viking Injuries, and Maybe a Bit of Gamesmanship

Kevin Kinkead - January 19, 2018

Is Minnesota receiver Adam Thielen really 100% for Sunday’s NFC Championship Game? Probably not, but he’s going to play. He told people he was fine this week, even though he’s been limited in practice with a back problem.

Friday, he was officially listed as questionable on the Vikings’ injury report:

It’s probably a Julio Jones-type of thing – limited all week, play through the pain in the playoffs.

Sendejo, the strong safety, is going through concussion protocol but expected to play after taking what I thought looked like a cheap hit from Michael Thomas last weekend:

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NFC Championship Game: A Look at Minnesota’s Defense, Part 2

Sean Cottrell - January 19, 2018

This is the final installment of our Minnesota Vikings breakdown before Sunday’s big game.

If you haven’t already read the first three parts of the series, check out Kevin Kinkead’s breakdowns of the Vikings offense and special teams:

NFC Championship Game: A Look at Minnesota’s Offense

NFC Championship Game: A Look at Minnesota’s Special Teams

Yesterday, I highlighted what makes the Vikings defense so formidable:

NFC Championship Game: A Look at Minnesota’s Defense, Part 1

Today, I’ll break down a few ways to attack it.

Despite what you’ve heard throughout the week, and the uneasiness in the pit of your stomach about the idea of Nick Foles matching up with the Vikings defense (I know I feel it), they can be beaten.

To have any chance to win this game, though, the Eagles’ running game will have to be able to get off the ground. It doesn’t have to dominate, but will need to be efficient enough to keep Foles and crew out of too many third and long situations versus the best 3rd down defense in NFL history.

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Vikings Fans Have Suffered as Much, If Not More, than Eagles Fans

Kevin Kinkead - January 19, 2018

Trivia question:

Name the two only two teams to compile winning records during the Super Bowl era, but never win a Super Bowl.

You guessed right; it’s the Eagles and the Vikings. Both teams have been unmatched in raising fan hopes before exiting the postseason in soul-crushing defeat.

We all know about the Birds’ history, so I won’t waste too much time rehashing that garbage. The Eagles are 0-2 in the Super Bowl with a 20-21 playoff record.

The Vikings, however, are 0-4 in the big game and 20-28 all-time in the playoffs, putting together a spectacular list of failures along the way.

It begins during the years of Richard Nixon, who was not a crook. The Vikes lost all four of their Super Bowls in an eight-year span from 1970 to 1977, scoring just 34 combined points in those defeats. They put up a measly six points against the Chiefs, then wasted Fran Tarkenton’s prime getting bulldozed by Larry Csonka in 1974 and stuffed by Pittsburgh’s Steel Curtain defense in 1975. In ’77, they had a good shot against the Oakland Raiders, but couldn’t run the ball for shit and gave up more than 200 yards on the ground in a 32-14 loss.

That’s it.

Four Super Bowl losses in eight years. They went 45-10 in those regular seasons but lifted the Lombardi Trophy a total of zero times. That was more than 40 years ago, and they’ve gone 12-20 in the playoffs ever since without an SB return.

It’s been a lengthy compilation of fuck ups, most recently this short-range shank from Blair Walsh against the Seahawks in the wild card round a few years back:

In 2010, the Brett Favre-led Vikings played the Saints in the NFC Championship Game.

It was 28-28 in the 4th quarter, and Minnesota was on the cusp of field goal range, then this happened: Continue Reading

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Instincts and Analytics – Is 4th Down a Game Changer This Weekend?

Kevin Kinkead - January 18, 2018

On paper, the Eagles and Vikings aren’t dissimilar. Elite defenses, backup quarterbacks, running back by committee, solid special teams.

One of the things that stood out when looking at the 2017 Vikings season was that they rarely went for it on 4th down. They finished dead last in the NFL with just seven 4th down attempts, converting only one for a success rate of 14.7%.

A lot of that was due to the fact that they simply didn’t have to gamble on fourth down. They had a stellar defense and a punter who didn’t kick a single ball into the end zone during 16 regular season games. They scored points, controlled the clock, and flipped the field with regularity.

The Eagles, on the other hand, were 2nd in the league with 26 4th down attempts. They converted 17 for a 65.4% success rate, good for 3rd overall. Doug Pederson made a lot of unconventional and aggressive 4th down decisions, decisions that worked out more often than not.

You saw that manifest itself last weekend, when the Eagles scored their only touchdown on a 4th and goal to cap off a 14 play drive. Trey Burton threw a nasty block to spring LeGarrette Blount on an outside zone running play that has only provided spotty success this season.

Some of it is gut feel, sure, but the Birds use analytics in a lot of their 4th down determinations. It was a topic of discussion with Doug this week.

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Maurice Jones-Drew Gives the Vikings the Edge, Doesn’t Really Explain Why

Kevin Kinkead - January 18, 2018

MJD was a damn good player back in the day.

Three Pro Bowls, two All-Pro selections, 11,000 scrimmage yards and 79 touchdowns. The Jags were crap back then, but he wasn’t.

His TV punditry does not seem to match his on-field excellence, at least judging from this clip below, where he gives the Minnesota Vikings the “edge” in every category while not really offering much explanation:

Yea, it’s not exactly a lengthy, round-table discussion, but whatever. It’s a quick-hitting segment. The producer was probably in someone’s ear yelling, “WRAP! WRAP!”

But I transcribed part of the exchange for you:

Maurice Jones-Drew: “You know, this is going to be a great balance of power, because this crown that I have from earlier in the show is.. I feel like we could do this without touching the screen. Let’s start with the rush offense though. I get LeGarrette Blount, Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement, those guys have been doing a great job. But Jerick McKinnon and Latavius Murray have been doing an awesome job.

Elliot Harrison: “It’s pretty even.”

MJD: “Yea, it is pretty even. But with that being said, I feel like the Vikings are more committed to the run, and they want to run the ball, so we’re gonna give this to (them). But before we do, don’t touch it, we’re all going to do the Skol clap together. Ready? 1, 2, 3, Skol! Oh it worked, oh my goodness (arrow appears next to Minnesota).

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Nick Wright Just Wants the Last Laugh

Kevin Kinkead - January 18, 2018

I have a friend who used to chat up every young woman at the bar in mostly embarrassing fashion.

The first 99 would usually tell him to take a hike. But the 100th woman usually went home with him, and so it really didn’t matter that the 99% had to say, it was the 1% that really mattered, sort of like the American economy.


Anyway, Nick Wright is going down this same path. The First Things First host has basically been slagging the Eagles all year, willing to be wrong 99 times if he gets the last laugh.

He was at it again this morning:

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NFC Championship Game: A Look at Minnesota’s Defense, Part 1

Sean Cottrell - January 18, 2018

This is the part three of our Minnesota Vikings breakdown as we draw ever closer to Sunday’s big game.

Earlier this week, Kevin Kinkead dissected the Vikings’ offense and special teams unit, which you can read here:

NFC Championship Game: A Look at Minnesota’s Offense

NFC Championship Game: A Look at Minnesota’s Special Teams

Today, I’m going to dive into the Vikings defense and what makes them so formidable. Tomorrow, in part two, I’ll take a look at how the Eagles can attack it.

There have been plenty of articles written this week about the vaunted Vikings defense and the challenges it will present the Eagles’ backup quarterback and supporting cast. Aside from naming star players, though, not many have explained what makes their defense so particularly dangerous. Even fewer have delved into how they can be beaten. Today, we will.

Doug, I hope you’re paying close attention.

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Adam Thielen Didn’t Practice on Wednesday

Kevin Kinkead - January 17, 2018

From Ian Rapoport:

Hmm, probably not much there, but we’ll see what happens. Julio Jones was also limited in practice leading up to last weekend’s game and he snagged 9 balls for 109 yards. Thielen is Minnesota’s leading receiver, with more than 1,200 yards in 2017.

There’s also this:

Brady’s press conference was cancelled as he met with his medical staff.

Let’s hope he doesn’t have a bum hand when the Patriots play Jacksonville this weekend.

Actually, no, let’s hope he does.

Time’s yours.