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Jim Souhan

Jim Souhan analyzes the local sports scene

Souhan: Vikings, NFL season changed dramatically after Rodgers went out

This is a quick blog post filed as the game ended. A different and full column will be available in the Monday paper and on startribune.com



On Sunday afternoon, the Vikings beat a Packers team that lost Aaron Rodgers, perhaps for the season, and that is critically injured in other areas.

This week, the Vikings will face a mediocre Ravens team at home, before playing the Browns in London before a bye week.

Sam Bradford remains injured. Teddy Bridgewater will try to prove this week that he is healthy. Case Keenum is 3-2 in games in which he has played. And the Vikings could soon be 6-2 in a division that just lost its most important player.

The Vikings’ season changed dramatically on Sunday afternoon, as the Vikings beat the Packers, 23-10, at U.S. Bank Stadium, and probably eliminated the Packers from having a chance to return in February for the Super Bowl.

Keenum was productive against a decimated Packers secondary, doing nothing to calm the Vikings’ usual quarterback maelstrom. They’ll be choosing between Bradford, Bridgewater and Keenum, and wondering whether the Packers will be recruiting Colin Kaepernick or Tony Romo.

While the Vikings were joining the Packers atop the NFC North with a 4-2 record, the Detroit Lions were getting swamped by the post-Adrian Peterson Saints.

When Anthony Barr landed on Rodgers in the first quarter, the Vikings’ season, the NFC North and perhaps the entire NFL landscape changed. The Vikings might not be able to avoid contending for a division title no matter who starts at quarterback for them.



Today's stupid Minnesota Vikings prediction

Today's sure-to-be-saved-and-ridiculed stupid prediction:

Case Keenum has played in four games for the Vikings. He played poorly at Pittsburgh, exceptionally well against Tampa Bay, poorly against Detroit and well in relief on Monday in Chicago.

None of these performances should have been surprising, given his track record. He has had good games, and even good months. He has played well in bursts and in relief. He has never put together a good NFL season.

Today is an interesting test. He's facing a vulnerable defense but is lacking Dalvin Cook and Stefon Diggs. The challenge for him today might be keeping up with Aaron Rodgers.

The Vikings' pass rush will have to harass Rodgers into mistakes if Minnesota is to win this game. I would still pick Rodgers to produce more points than Keenum under these circumstances.

The pick: Packers 23, Vikings 16.

Season record: 3-2. (I missed on Tampa Bay and Chicago. Both of my losses this season were due to Keenum exceeding expectations.)


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