Jim Souhan analyzes the local sports scene and advises you to never take his betting advice. He likes old guitars and old music, never eats press box hot dogs, and can be heard on 1500ESPN at 2:05 p.m. weekdays, and Sundays from 10 a.m.-noon.
Find him on Twitter
Can't say I'm better than any other mammal at picking NFL games,but I was lucky enough to go 4-for-4 last weekend, so I'll take another shot.
I'll keep it short and simple: I like all four home teams.
My only qualms about these picks: Aaron Rodgers' calf and Peyton Manning's arm.
If Rodgers is at full strength, I like the Packers, rested and with a dramatic home-field advantage, to beat the Cowboys. If Manning's arm regained straight over the bye,I like the Broncos' defense and running game, with Manning playing game-manager, to make the difference against a flawed Colts team. But I'd hate to bet actual money on Rodgers making it through the whole game, or Manning needing to produce a big game.
I like the way the Ravens match up with the Patriots. I also think ths is one of those trendy ideas that may not play out on the field - that the Ravens, because of their history of playing well against the Patriots, are prepared to win this game.
This is one of Bill Belichick's better recent defenses,and since Rob Gronkowski returned to health, Tom Brady has been excellent. I'll take the Pats.
The other game is the easiest to pick. Seattle should dominate Carolina.
So I'm taking all four home teams.Home teams win 72.8 percent of the games in the divisional round. That would indicate that there could be one upset, but I'll go with the chalk this weekend.
Having covered Cris Carter's arrival in Minnesota, I think the Vikings should do everything they can to sign his son, Duron.
He has size, he's able to get off the line of scrimmage, he has performed well against professional athletes, and he's the son of a workaholic and expert trainer of wide receivers. I think the Vikings' two biggest needs in the draft are for a large wide receiver and an offensive line upgrade. Signing Carter would expand the Vikings' options at receiver.
My podcasts are available at SouhanUnfiltered.com. I'll be covering the Wild game on Saturday, looking to write a Sunday piece about what, if anything, Chuck Fletcher should do at this point.
Enjoy the football weekend.
By Jim Souhan
Miami Gardens, Fla.
In an attempt to make sure Teddy Bridgewater experiences all there is to experience in an NFL season, the Vikings on Sunday attempted an onside kick from their own 20 yard line.
It was that kind of day for the Vikings. Bridgewater often played brilliantly, but failures on defense and special teams led to a 37-35 loss at Sun Life Stadium, meaning the Vikings will finish under .500 for the second straight season.
Without much time to throw Bridgewater completed 19-of-26 passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns. His only interception came on a ball that Matt Asiata bobbled into the air. But he’ll get credit for a ``quarterback loss’’ because the Dolphins shredded the Vikings’ defense, scoring touchdowns on five consecutive possessions.
The Vikings’ remaining goal: To avoid going winless in the NFC North on Sunday at TCF Bank Stadium against the Bears.
Head to SouhanUnfiltered.com to hear my podcasts, including chats with Chad Greenway and Jarius Wright.
Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes calls Lions star Calvin Johnson the toughest receiver he has to face.
``He broke Jerry Rice's record, didn't he?'' Rhodes said. ``Anybody else do that?''
Rhodes pick for his second-toughest receiver to face might surprise you. Or not, if you pay attention to the NFC North.
``Jordy Nelson is the next-toughest guy I've faced,'' Rhodes said. ``The way he reacts to the ball, the way he runs his routes, the way you can tell that he's studied so much film, looking for an edge. That makes him very tough.''
After reading Mark Craig's cool piece on Adam Thielen and Cordarrelle Patterson in today's Strib, and hearing Vikings coach Mike Zimmer continue to hope aloud that Patterson will become a great receiver, it's pretty evident that Patterson hasn't or doesn't know how to apply himself.
With his size, speed and talent, Patterson doesn't have to become a latter-day Jerry Rice in terms of route running, or a latter-day Cris Carter in terms of competing for the ball. He just has to become a reliable and competitive route-runner.
You wonder whether he has that nasty compettive streak that other great receivers have.
Rice once told Bill Walsh to run a sweep on the first play of a playoff game, so Rice could start the game by flattening the corner assigned to him. Carter became one of the most dedicated athletes I've ever met.
Patterson seems like a nice guy who doesn't understand what it takes to be great.
It's interesting that Zimmer has taken a positive approach with him, while pushing harder with other young players. It's almost an admission that pushing Patterson might not do much good.
Did a short video with Michael Rand, speaking about Zimmer's work this year. Should be up on startribune.com shortly.
Today's podcast at SouhanUnfiltered.com is with Strib hockey writer Michael Russo. Tonight's will stream live on that website at 5 p.m. from Kieran's Irish Pub in downtown Minneapolis. My guest is Jayhawks frontman Gary Louris, who is playing Thursday night at the Cedar Avenue Cultural Center with Haley Bonar. We'll do an hour of music and conversation, mixing in a little sports talk. Please stop by and say hello.
Previous podcasts on the site feature Chad Greenway, Mike Grant, Mark Craig, Glen Perkins, Craig Leipold, Russo, Paul Molitor and Ross Bernstein.
I'm not sure I've ever seen a finishing flurry quite like the one in the Vikings' 29-25 loss to the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday.
It's remarkable how hard the Vikings hsve played in the weeks since it seemed their season was doomed. What I'll explore in my Monday column is why it took so long for this coaching staff to put its best players on the field. With Matt Cassel at quarterback, Cordarrelle Patterson starting at receiver and Xavier Rhodes starting at corner, this is a competent team, a team that could be at or near .500 and theoretically in the playoff race if those players had started earlier this season.
This was a Vikings team that made all those dramatic plays with its backup quarterback, backup running back, and a lot of backup defenders on the field.
We'll have extensive coverage in the Monday paper and on startribune.com, complete with videos.
We'll also update Adrian Peterson's health as soon as possible after the game, Indications now are that he has a sprained ankle and nothing more. It will be interesting to see whether Leslie Frazier plays him next week, or lets Toby Gerhart have a start.
My Twitter handle is @Souhanstrib.
NFL games shouldn't end in ties.
Enough about that.
If you, like me, are watching Vikings games more to discern what next year's team will look like than what this year's final record will look like, there were a few interesting developments on Sunday, in the Vikings' 26-26 tie with the Packers.
Here are two key developments:
-Cornerback Xavier Rhodes, the 29th pick in this year's draft, was credited with four passes defensed, of the Vikings' nine total. He aquitted himself well against a pretty good group of receivers, and saved a touchdown by knocking the ball from the hands of James Jones.
He also injured his leg and returned to the field, a promising sign of toughness.
-Receiver Cordarrelle Patterson finally - finally! - looked like a big part of the offense. He had 11 passes thrown his way. He caught a eight. Both totals were team-highs.
He gained 54 yards. He returned the opening kickoff 57 yards. That return caused the Packers to kick the ball out of bounds while trying to keep the ball away from him on a subsequent kickoff.
Patterson could have had a much bigger day. He was unable to hold onto a long pass down the left sideline, and he had the ball bounce out of his hands in the end zone after it was tipped on the Vikings' first drive of overtime.
Patterson said he should have caught that pass.
I've been saying all season that Patterson should be a bigger part of the offense. He's too talented to leave on the sideline. He can catch short passes and turn them into long gains, and he should be able to take the occasional handoff or reverse, like Percy Harvin used to do.
He should be the Vikings' featured receiver the rest of the season.
-Aaron Rodgers is probably wishing he could ask for a raise.
The Packers have lost four straight since he was injured, and have tried three other quarterbacks. Without him, the Packers' receivers are less productive, the offensive line looks worse (because the ball doesn't leave the pocket as quickly) and the defense looks shoddier (because the offense doesn't sustain as many drives or create leads.)
And it's no longer too early to say that Greg Jennings made a dire mistake by leaving the Packers and Rodgers. Jennings caught two passes for 29 yards in five quarters on Sunday, and dropped a key third-down pass.
It's almost as if Jennings is so embarrassed by his decision to leave Green Bay that he's gone into a shell.
-Chrisitan Ponder amazes me. I've never before covered a quarterback whose performances could look so different on the field and on paper.
Watching him today, I thought Ponder had terrible pocket awareness, threw a potential pick-six that was dropped, was too eager to pull the ball down and run or scramble. Then I look at the stat sheet and he was 21-for-30 with a touchdown, no interceptions and a passer rating of 103.9.
There are a lot of modern statistics that offer great insights into the games we watch. There are also statistics that contradict eyesight and common sense.
I was more impressed with the Gophers' loss to the Badgers than any of their victories this season.
They stood up physically against a program built on tough, physical play. And while Phil Nelson did not have a good game, I have to believe the cold affected his accuracy and touch. His receivers dropped a handful of key passes, and when he missed ,he often missed by a wide margin. He's better than that.
Had a friend today tell me an interesting story: That last year, Jerry Kill was coaching on the sideline, and he dropped to one knee to look at a play chart. A half-dozen Gophers coaches and officials rushed to him, thinking he was having a seizure.
Kill said at that point that he needed to coach from the press box, so he wouldn't be a distraction.
It will be very interesting to see whether Kill stays in the press box the rest of this year, and for the rest of his career. He's found something that works - Tracy Claeys running the sideline, and Kill seeing the big picture from upstairs, rather than arguing with officials.
I'll be on WJON in St. Cloud at 7:15, and on 1500ESPN at noon for my regular weekday hit with Judd&Dubay. My Twitter handle is @Souhanstrib.
|Professional baseball (161)||Vikings (255)|
|Gopher coaches (54)||Gopher quarterbacks (14)|
|Gopher recruiting (3)||Gopher road games (4)|
|Gophers disciplinary action (3)||Gophers injuries (1)|
|Gophers recruiting (3)||Gophers spring football (4)|
|TCF Bank Stadium (24)||The Big 10 (26)|
|NCAA: football (17)||Gophers coaches (64)|
|Gophers players (44)||Tubby Smith (39)|
|Williams Arena (17)||Gophers post season (8)|
|Gophers roster moves (5)||Golf (38)|
|Soccer (4)||Twins news (39)|
|WNBA (8)||Wild news (58)|
|AFC (14)||Bears (35)|
|Ex-Vikings (26)||Football on TV (114)|
|Lions (30)||NFC (94)|
|NFL draft (46)||NFL post-season (51)|
|Packers (64)||Super Bowl (63)|
|Vikings coaches (137)||Vikings defense (68)|
|Vikings fans (49)||Vikings injury report (18)|
|Vikings management (89)||Vikings off the field (34)|
|Vikings offense (77)||Vikings quarterbacks (46)|
|Vikings road games (16)||Vikings rookies (4)|
|Vikings roster moves (3)||Vikings special teams (2)|
|Vikings training camp (6)||Off the field (6)|
|On the road (26)||Quarterbacks (44)|
|Rookies (7)||Roster moves (1)|
|Vikings draft (42)||Ron Gardenhire (122)|
|Target Field (157)||Twins fans (165)|
|Twins management (216)||Twins offense (116)|
|Twins transactions (97)||NBA playoffs (42)|
|Wolves coaches (76)||Wolves draft news (32)|
|Wolves guards (41)||Wolves injury report (9)|
|Wolves management (82)||Wolves players (64)|
|Wolves trade talk (16)||Wolves training camp (13)|
|All-Stars and honors (94)||Fighting (2)|
|Wild coaching (47)||Wild management (59)|
|Wild off-season news (11)||Wild player moves (8)|
|Adrian Peterson (82)||Anthony Herrera (2)|
|Antoine Winfield (16)||Ben Leber (1)|
|Bernard Berrian (7)||Brad Childress (30)|
|Brett Favre (58)||Brian Robison (3)|
|Bryant McKinnie (3)||Cedric Griffin (5)|
|Chad Greenway (18)||Chester Taylor (5)|
|Chris Kluwe (3)||Darrell Bevell (6)|
|E.J. Henderson (4)||Jared Allen (29)|
|John Sullivan (6)||Kevin Williams (6)|
|Leslie Frazier (55)||Madieu Williams (2)|
|Pat Williams (3)||Percy Harvin (29)|
|Phil Loadholt (3)||Ray Edwards (1)|
|Ryan Longwell (9)||Sage Rosenfels (1)|
|Sidney Rice (10)||Steve Hutchinson (7)|
|Tarvaris Jackson (12)||Tyrell Johnson (2)|
|Visanthe Shiancoe (5)||Brad Childress (30)|
|Darrell Bevell (6)||Leslie Frazier (55)|
|NHL news (11)||2010 Winter Games (13)|
|Olympic curling (1)||Olympic hockey (8)|
|Olympic skiing (5)||Olympic speedskating (1)|
|Olympic village (11)|