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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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
Had the Vikings lost on Sunday to the Bears, they would have finished a supposedly-promising season with a three-game losing streak and three straight blown leads.
Instead, Teddy Bridgewater overcame a slew of dropped passes to coax the Vikings to a workmanlike 13-9 victory and a 7-9 record, allowing perceived improvement to be matched by an actual two-victory improvement in the standings.
While young, undrafted players like linebacker Audie Cole and Adam Thielen starred, former first-round draft pick Cordarrelle Patterson bobbled the only pass thrown to him into the arms of a Bears’ defender, setting up a Bears’ field goal. Combined with Greg Jennings’ dropped touchdown pass in the second quarter, Vikings’ receivers cost the team at least 10 points.
The Vikings lost points again when their late-game drive died on a fourth-and-one carry by Matt Asiata that gained zero, and the Bears took over with a chance to mount a game-winning touchdown drive.
The Vikings’ defense held, and Bridgewater's last snap of his rookie season came from the victory formation.
Jim Souhan’s podcast can be found at SouhanUnfiltered.com. JSouhan@startribune.com. @Souhanstrib.
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.
By Jim Souhan
In sports, you always have to grade on a curve.
An NFL team improving to 6-7 with a victory at home over a two-win team? Not impressive.
An NFL team without its star running back, playing a rookie quarterback, with its most talented defensive rookie out winning at a juncture of the season when some losing teams lose interest? Not bad.
When you factor in that two recent and talented first-round draft picks – left tackle Matt Kalil and receiver Cordarrelle Patterson – have become, respectively, abominable and invisible, what rookie head coach Mike Zimmer is doing is fairly impressive.
I picked the Vikings to go 8-8 when I expected Adrian Peterson, Kyle Rudolph and Patterson to have big years. Without much production from those three, the Vikings are one game below .500.
They beat the Jets, in overtime, on Sunday, without much of a running game, with the offensive line looking leaky, and without a lot of high-end talent available.
Bridgewater made winning plays, and that’s the best thing that can happen to this franchsie – the quarterback inspiring belief.
If you’re willing to grade on a curve, that’s pretty good.
Latest podcast at SouhanUnfiltered.com is up, featuring Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway on his career goals, and his new thoughts on Mike Zimmer.
I wrote about Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway in today's paper.
The most interesting aspect of the interview that I didn't include in the column is this:
Greenway said new coach Mike Zimmer is far different than he expected when it comes to the treatment of players.
Asked to finish the sentence, ``I was wrong about...'', Greenway laughed and said, ``I was wrong about the way that coach Zimmer would handle us as players. He handles us as professionals. He gives us breaks when he knows we need them. He's really been good at that. I thought he'd be harder....
``He loves football and loves coaching. He understands his team and when to pull off. He's been phenomenal about that.''
I asked Greenway about being a public figure, jokingly asking if he has ever knocked a fan's hat off.
``You try to keep yourself private from the fokls who might be crazed about being a fan or might be upset about the way a game went, or about how you’re playing,'' he said. ``You try to keep yourself distant from those folks because you don’t want your family to have to deal with that...
``I think just based on the way you go about your business, you set yourself up…Even though they may not appreciate the way you play, you try to set yourself up to be treated a certain way in public. When you act a certain wa you receive a certain amount of respect.
``If you’re a jerk and actin ga certain way in pubcli you’re giogn to be treated that way. I've never done that. It's important when you are a guy who’s active in the community and your face is on TV - whether or not you want to be a role model, you're going to be treated that way because kids see you on TV.''
Today's column quotes Greenway on his hopes and plans for the rest of his career.
My last two podcasts at SouhanUnfiltered.com are with Twins closer Glen Perkins and Greenway.
Perkins talked about learning to brew his own beer, being a lifelong Minnesotan and why I'm wrong about Kevin Slowey.
Greenway spoke of his love of country music, and how his life has changed since he arrived as a rookie. He expounded on his thoughts on Mike Zimmer.
Next Wednesday at 5 p.m. I'll be at Kieran's Irish Pub with Gary Louris, the frontman for the great band The Jayhawks, who is playing on Dec. 11 at the Cedar Cultural Center. The following Wednesday, Dec. 17, I'll be back at The Local at 5 p.m. with Roy Smalley, my favorite baseball storyteller, as my guest.
All the podcasts, including previous versions with Wild owner Craig Leipold, Eden Prairie coach Mike Grant and Paul Molitor, can be found at SouhanUnfiltered.com.
In this Sunday's paper, I'm writing about the obvious landing spot for Adrian Peterson.
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