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The Bigg Dawg makes his Sunday pick…..and so on……

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OK, so you are really, really excited for the 2013 season to begin this Sunday in Detroit. But you are concerned that the 1-3 record might be reason for concern. Lighten up! First of all, Adrian Peterson played a total of 3 snaps in four games. Without him in the backfield to take up 90% of the opposing teams focus, Christian Ponder was attacked with wave after wave of bizarre blitz formations while the offensive line was overwhelmed.

This won’t happen on Sunday as Peterson will be the center of attention by the Lions defense. You are going to see plenty of 8 man fronts which will mean single coverage for Greg Jennings and company. In addition, Kyle Rudolph will be covered by a linebacker for the most part, so look for him to have a big day. Given time, Christian Ponder will be able to selectively pick apart the Lions secondary for just enough yardage to keep the Vikings in the game until the end. While the improved linebacker corps will keep the Lions running game down enough to force Matthew Stafford into more 3rd and long passing situations then he will want to face. The improved secondary is important here and if they can force a few turnovers (last year’s team was terrible at this) then the Vikings can make Vegas eat their 5.5 points as the team wins outright on a late Blair Walsh FG.

The Dawg says:                 Minnesota 19      Detroit        17

Tell us what you think !

In other Vikings related news:

Ballard’s time may be over with Vikings.

 

Defensive tackle Christian Ballard left the team three weeks ago.  We were told at that time that he was leaving to attend to a personal problem. On Monday, coach Leslie Frazier confirmed that he hadn’t talked to Ballard in about a week and admitted the Vikings are planning to move forward assuming the third-year defensive tackle, who was placed on the Reserve/Left Squad list on Aug. 18, won’t be coming back.

“If he decides he wants to come back, he would have to go through us before he could go to another team,” Frazier said. “I think you have to approach it that way (like he won’t return). We’ve got to get these guys ready to play that are here and practicing every day. We’ve got to move forward from here.

One unnamed player said that he felt that Ballard simply doesn’t want to play football anymore. Whatever is in the stars, the Dawgg wishes Ballard peace of mind and a good life.

                                                                                         Can Frazier talk Winfield out of retirement ?

Before you get too excited about the possibility of Antoine Winfield returning to the team, you might want to take heed of the words from coach Leslie Frazier’s mouth on Wednesday afternoon  that “you don’t want to be talking people out of retirement”.

Frazier also said that he had not been in touch with the former Vikings cornerback beyond a text message to wish Winfield well and offer his assistance if the 36-year-old wanted to talk about transitioning to life after football. Frazier said he hasn’t had any contact with Winfield.

“When a guy’s retired, you’ve got to let him go through what he’s going through,” Frazier said. “[It’s] just encouraging him to be what he wants to be. If retirement is what it is, good luck in retirement. If you want to talk, let’s talk, about taking that next step after your career ends. It’s a big difference, going from playing 15 years almost to going back and being a regular citizen. It’s a transition, and a lot of players struggle with that transition. If he ever needed to talk about that, I’d be glad to have that conversation.”

Granted, that doesn’t mean that Frazier wouldn’t listen if Winfield called him tomorrow and said he wanted to talk about returning. After all, Winfield is coming off one of his best seasons and few players defended slot receivers better, or tackled more reliably, than Winfield.

The Vikings released Winfield in March, choosing to put him on the open market rather than pay him the $7.25 million he was due to make this season. This decision left Winfield  “surprised and hurt”, and though Frazier himself tried to sooth Winfield’s damaged ego by leading the charge to get Winfield to re-sign with the team in April. The wound was too deep however, and the cornerback ultimately decided to sign with Seattle for less guaranteed money than the Vikings were offering.

Stay tuned for updates on each of these issues as they develop.

                                                                             

                                                                                        Vikings hope that Stability will lead to consistency for O-Line

 Last year, the Minnesota Vikings finished second in the NFL behind the Washington Redskins in rushing yards per game. They averaged an impressive 164.6 yards per game, and Adrian Peterson accounted for 131.1 of those yards.

The Dawg realizes that Peterson is likely to finish his career as the Greatest Running back in NFL history. But lets give some love to the guys up front who open the holes for AP to run through. This group is becoming better known as the “Minnesota Moving Company”, a term initially dubbed by KFAN’s Paul Allen, the Vikings’ radio play-by-play announcer to describe the Vikings offensive line.

According to the Pro Football Focus the Vikings were second to Seattle in rushing offense with the third-best, run-blocking team.

The separate grades for each of the starting offensive linemen suggests that the line does better as a group then when looking at them individually.  In fact, only right tackle Phil Loadholt (fourth) and center John Sullivan (second) were ranked among the top 10 players at their position.

Right guard Brandon Fusco ranked 52nd, with left guard Charlie Johnson ranked 61st among guards. Pro Bowl left tackle Matt Kalil came in a surprisingly low 53rd among tackles.

At 343 pounds, Loadholt is the biggest player on the line. Since being drafted in the second round in 2009, he has started 63 of 64 games played.

One huge advantage for this group is that fact that these five players started all 16 games alongside each other in 2012. Only three times since 1998 have the Vikings had the same starting five on the offensive line in consecutive seasons.

The Vikings employ a man-power blocking scheme. One might assume that the Vikings offensive line would be one of the biggest in the NFL, but surprisingly they rank 13th out of the 16 NFC teams according to NFL.com at an average of 310 pounds per man.

Click on the Chart bellow to enlarge:

       

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