The instant reaction watching the Vikings defeat the Steelers 34-27 -- from here and elsewhere -- was that Matt Cassel is a better option at QB than Christian Ponder.
He looked more decisive in his throws and delivered some balls that we just don't think Ponder consistently delivers.
A few days later, though, the emotion has been somewhat removed from the equation and we want to take a second look to determine if some external factors are skewing our vision. Namely:
*The Vikings won. We're always going to celebrate the QB that won. But that doesn't take into account that as poorly as Ponder might have played on some late series against the Bears and Browns (and as conservative as some of the play-calling was as well) he had the team in the very same position Cassel did this past Sunday: needing one good defensive stop to secure a victory. The D didn't deliver either time for Ponder; it did for Cassel.
*The opponent. The Lions, Bears and Browns are probably not Super Bowl-bound, but they have all shown legitimate signs of life. Even in games outside of their victories against the Vikings, they have an overall winning record (5-4). Cleveland just beat Cincinnati, meaning the Browns might not be as terrible as we thought. The Steelers, though? They are a certified dumpster fire. They are a mess. They are awful.
*The sample size. We have had an adequate amount of time to come to the conclusion that Ponder is not the Vikings' long-term answer at QB. We have not had an adequate amount of time to judge whether Cassel is actually a better option. If you run the numbers out a little bit further, Ponder is 10-9 in his last 19 NFL starts. Cassel is 6-13. Ponder has a better passer rating since coming into the league than Cassel has over the same span.
Again, this isn't to say Ponder is the better option. If we were Leslie Frazier, we would 100 percent ride the hot hand of Cassel a week from Sunday, even if Ponder is healthy. But let's not think he's crazy to at least weigh his options. And let's not think another strong start from Cassel is a guarantee.