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.
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In 1988, the Bears and Eagles played in what became known as ``The Fog Bowl'' at Soldier Field. It was an atmospheric, beautiful mess of a game.
It's a bit foggy at TCF Bank Stadium this morning, but the players won't have any trouble seeing the ball unless things get much worse.
On to my worthless prediction:
The Packers are on an almost historic roll. The Vikings are at the juncture of their season where they know they're not going to make the playoffs, figure they probably won't have Adrian Peterson for the rest of the season, and have been visited by the Ghost of Controversies Past, in ESPN's Ed Werder. Whenever Ed shows up, something bad or crazy is happening.
So...I'll guess Packers 43, Vikings 17.
I think Teddy Bridgewater has a chance to be a good player...next year. Right now, I see a lost young man with little help around him.
The Packers have been incredible opportunistic on defense, and I think Bridgewater will give them some opportunities.
I also didn't like the way the offensive line or Jerick McKinnon played last week, and with Matt Asiata out, I can't see Ben Tate making much of a difference after a few days of preparation.
This, to me, is what you call a bad matchup.
Had a great conversation with Eden Prairie coach Mike Grant this week. It's up on Souhanunfiltered.com, along with conversations with Paul Molitor, Michael Russo, Mark Craig and Ross Bernstein.
Mike told a great bunch of stories about his father, Bud, as well as Rick Spielman, Jerry Kill, Glen Mason, Red McCombs. He also talked about the most rewarding aspect of his job, and his future.
The Vikings didn’t just lose a game on Sunday in Chicago. They lost the game that promises to define their season, in a way that erases delusions of grandeur.
While getting grotesquely outplayed, their rookie quarterback, rookie running back and even star rookie linebacker looked overmatched and overwhelmed during the Bears’ 21-13 victory at Soldier Field.
If not for a fake punt that led to an offensive touchdown, the Vikings would have been blown out by a team that had given up 50 points in consecutive games.
This was systemic failure. The offense barely moved after its first drive. The defense missed tackles and watched cornerback Josh Robinson get toyed with by receivers who seemed twice his size. The coaching staff stuck with man-to-man coverage that would have worked only if the pass rush had been effective, which it wasn’t.
As of Sunday morning, the Bears were known as a dysfunctional group of underachievers. By Sunday afternoon, they were winning a laugher.
At 4-6, the Vikings are out of reasonable contention. On Sunday, 2014 became a rebuilding season.
My actual column will be up tonight on startribune.com and in the actual newspaper tomorrow.
Before I head to Soldier Field,here's my view of today's game between the Vikings and Bears.
Jay Cutler is just enough to a contrarian to play well today. Remember, earlier this season he led a stunning comeback victory at San Francisco.
But I can't pick that way. It's not so much that Cutler throws silly interceptions .It's that Cutler looked like he didn't want to be playing football in his last game, at Green Bay. He refused to set his feet and throw accurately even on swing passes and screens. Your franchise player not only has to play well, your franchise player has to set a standard of intensity and commitment. Cutler doesn't cmoe close in either way.
I like Mike Zimmer's defense to keep Cutler confused enough that he'll fold. Zimmer has done his best work with the front seven, creating pressure, and that should be the deciding factor today.
When the Vikings have teh ball, I look at the fact that most offenses have moved the ball very easily against the Bears this year. I think Jerick McKinnon has his best game of the season, and Teddy Bridgewater is made comfortable enough to move the offense. The return of Kyle Rudolphi - the guy I thought would be the key to the passing game this season - should be very important. Rudolph can be both the safe option for Bridgewater when he's facing pressure, and perhaps the Vikings' best deep threat.
So, my pick is Vikings 26, Bears 20.
Please don't bet the kids' college fund on that.
I've joined the @aliveandsocial podcast network, the same one that employs my old friend Jeff Dubay. Sean Barnard is my new boss.
My first podcast featured Paul Molitor and local author Ross Bernstein, who is close with Marc Trestman and has done a book with him. Ross was great on Marc's mindset.
My second was with Strib NFL writer Mark Craig, who told some great stories and offered perspective on the changing nature of the league and how we cover it.
Moving forward, I'll continue to feature my favorite writers, and peopole like Matt Birk, Craig Leipold and Roy Smalley have agreed to come on.
I'm a newbie at this, and hope to get better at is as I adapt to the format. My hope is to have conversations that will be different than what you can hear anywhere else, or at least to have some fun with some great people.
The cool thing about the @aliveandsocial network is that we also want to promote great local music. Wednesday I was at Shamrocks, and got to listen to The Last Ride and Nathan Anderson, and they are remarkably talented people.
At some point, we hope to be able to put together full nights of music.
Anyway, thanks for any support you can lend the network and my new venture.
In light of ESPN’s excellent 30-for-30 on Randy Moss -- ``Rand University’’ – startribune.com is republishing the piece I did on Moss right after the Vikings drafted him.
I remember visiting his hometown of Rand, West Virginia, and being appalled at the living conditions. I remember the anger in Moss’ voice when he told me about his distaste for his home state, and I remember people close to him calling me after the story was published to complain that I allowed Moss to vilify an entire region.
I covered Moss, on and off, from the day he was drafted until the day he was traded. I heard Mike Tice expound on the "Randy Ratio.’’ I had Moss rip into me in the locker room in Green Bay after he rubbed his rear end on the goalpost at Lambeau Field. I heard Moss call other reporters awful names.
I also saw one of the greatest players who ever lived.
This was a player who changed the way NFL defenses operated, and the way divisional foes drafted. This was a player who came within one miraculous Giants drive in the Super Bowl as being known for a Super Bowl-winning catch.
He was probably the most talented athlete I’ve ever seen…and one of the most difficult.
How great could he have been if he had given full effort? How great could he have been if he didn’t get frustrated and begin to drift, as he did in the ’98 and 2000 NFC title games? How great would his legacy be if he hadn’t walked off the field for a team that would minutes later back into the playoffs?
Moss was a born contrarian. He wasn’t evil, just stubborn to a fault. As you can see now that he does television analysis, he has a great understanding for the game.
He just didn’t want life to be any easier for those around him than it was for him growing up.
If the Vikings, at 3-5, can't get into contention this year, I'm going to be much more interested in the performances of four key rookies than the final record. These are four people who could determine the near-future of the franchise. Here's how I thought they did on Sunday.
Rookie head coach Mike Zimmer
His defense has played very well the last three weeks, with the exception of two late drives against Buffalo and Tampa.
Against Buffalo, he failed to call a timeout while his defense was in disarray, and it led to a fourth-and-20 conversion that, at the moment, is the difference between the Vikings being 4-4 and 3-5. Sunday, his defense looked unprepared for a fourth-down play on the Bucs' last drive, and he called timeout. He said after the game that he thought ``it was going to be a big play, and I wanted to make sure we were organized.''
What I like about Zimmer is that while he's a very experienced NFL coach, he admits he's new to running a sideline. He's not afraid to admit when he makes a mistake, and he's willing to learn from those he does make.
Rookie running back Jerick McKinnon
He rushed 16 times for 83 yards and caught one pass. He had two receptions wiped out by penalties.
His backup, Matt Asiata, rushed four times for one yard.
McKinnon also blocked well in pass protection.
There is no reason at this point to play Asiata unless McKinnon needs a break. McKinnon basically gains about twice as many yards per carry as Asiata, is more dangerous out of the backfield, and is improving in pass blocking. He's a keeper, and Zimmer raved about him after the game.
The real question with McKinnon was whether he would be a specialty, pass-receiving back, or an every-down back. I believe he is the latter.
Rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater
Bridgewater completed 24 of 42 passes for 241 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions.
He made a number of puzzilng throws, and missed badly on a couple of deep routes, but otherwise stood in well against teh pressure, and began finding Cordarrelle Patterson, which will be a key for this team going forward.
I ripped Greg Jennings when he whined about not having Aaron Rodgers to throw him the ball, when it was he who chose to leave Rodgers. I'll give him credit for this: He's saying all of the right things to Bridgewater. He snapped Bridgewater out of a funk in Buffalo, and Bridgewater immediately began to play better. This week, Jennings told Bridgewater to stop waiting for receivers to get wide open, to trust that if he put the ball in the right place they would make the play.
That was the key to Bridgewater's beautiful touchdown pass to Jennings. Bridgewater was under heavy pressure. Had he waited, he would have been sacked. Instead, he threw while Jennings was making his cut, and hit him in teh back of the end zone.
That might have been the best throw of Bridgewater's brief career.
Rookie linebacker Anthony Barr
I wrote my column for Monday on Barr, so I won't go too far in depth in this space. Let's just say that hsi coaches and teammates rave about his intelligence, and he there was no doubt he was a unique athlete. He's going to be a star for a long time if he stays healthy.
I'll be on WJON in St. Cloud at 7:14 each weekday, and 1500ESPN at 12:15 each weekday.
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