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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Vikings' defense flops in loss

Posted by: Jim Souhan under Vikings injury report, Vikings management, Vikings off the field, Vikings offense Updated: December 21, 2014 - 3:34 PM

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.

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Head to SouhanUnfiltered.com to hear my podcasts, including chats with Chad Greenway and Jarius Wright.

Cuba: Think of the possibilities

Posted by: Jim Souhan under All-Stars and honors, Professional baseball, Twins fans, Football on TV, NFC, NFL draft, NFL post-season, Brett Favre Updated: December 17, 2014 - 1:48 PM

If the United States does indeed open the gateway to Cuba, the sports world could change dramatically and for the better.

Cuba produces tremendous baseball players, and would become a new, open, hotbed for talent.

Cuba possesses more than 11 million people, almost all of them baseball fans. If baseball can expand to Canada, surely it can expand to Cuba ,which would probably offer more support to a big-league baseball team than Miami does.

The NFL is eyeing London as a franchise destination, hoping to carve a niche in a market dominated by soccer and even cricket. Cuba offers 11 million people who don't have a lot of other entertainment options.

Cuba could work for basketball. Hockey wouldn't seem to be a likely export, but if you can put a team in South Florida, you might be silly enough to put one in Latin America.

I've traveled extensively in Latin America and the Caribbean. I've always been told that if Cuba were open and economically vibrant noone would ever bother going to Hawaii. Cuba is supposed to be that beautiful.

I hope that in my lifetime, we see American professional sports, even if only baseball, taking residence in Cuba.

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Today I asked Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater what quarterback he wanted to emulate when he was young. ``Brett Favre,'' he said.

He loved Favre's toughness and production.

Now we just need to get Bridgewater to give Favrian press conferences.

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I'll be at The Local in Minneapolis tonight at 5 for a podcast with Twins great Roy Smalley, who is a great storyteller. Come by, or listen live or later at SouhanUnfiltered.com.

Thanks.

@Souhanstrib

Progress? Yes, actually

Posted by: Jim Souhan under Football on TV, Lions, NFC, NFL post-season Updated: December 15, 2014 - 8:59 AM

DETROIT -- Every losing sports team claims some sort of progress. Sometimes, it's a marketing ruse. Sometimes, it's self-preservation. Sometimes, it's even true.

It seems to be true for the 2014 Vikings. They aren't good. They haven't beaten a good team yet. But they have become more competitive in their division as the season has progressed, even as their roster has been shredded by injuries.

Here are the scores of their games, all losses, in the division:

42-10

17-3

21-13

24-21

16-14

They were outclassed at Green Bay when Christian Ponder was forced to start. They were manhandled in their first game against Detroit. They played their worst game of the season in the 21-13 loss at Chicago.

Since then, they matched up well with the Packers at TCF Bank Stadium, and came close to beating the division-leading Lions on Sunday.

In the last game of the regular season, a Vikings team that has played hard and improved will face a Bears team that has embarrassed itself in many ways this season. It wouldn't be surprising to see the Vikings win that game going away.

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My podcasts can be found at SouhanUnfiltered.com. Last one was with Jarius Wright on growing up in Arkansas and life in the NFL. Tonight you can listen live at the site, or anytime later, as I speak with old friend Tom Linnemann, the most interesting man in the world, at 6:15.

@Souhanstrib

Instant overreaction to Vikings losing at Detroit

Posted by: Jim Souhan under Vikings coaches, Vikings defense, Vikings management, Vikings off the field, Vikings offense Updated: December 14, 2014 - 6:16 PM

Detroit -

The Vikings offered a complete NFL experience on Sunday. They entered a game as severe underdogs, took a commanding lead, then gave it away, finally falling after giving up a late field goal and throwing incomplete on fourth-and-five at the two-minute warning.

They lost to the Detroit Lions, 16-14. If you like moral victories, this was one of the better ones of the season.

Teddy Bridgewater played almost flawlessly. It was the ``almost’’ that cost the Vikings the game.

He threw interceptions on two consecutive passes  in the first half, turning a 14-0 lead that accurately indicated the Vikings’ dominance into a 14-10 lead at the half. He also missed a wide-open Jarius Wright on the last drive of the game, needing about 35 yards to set up a potential game-winning field goal.

With the Vikings’ defense playing well against Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford, Bridgewater again looked almost flawless in the second half. But with no running game to speak of, and kicker Blair Walsh missing one long attempt, and having a short one blocked, the Lions eventually wore down the Vikings and won it with a late field goal.

A victory for the Vikings would have been their first against a good team this season, and their first in the division. They need to beat Chicago in the last regular season game to avoid going winless in the NFC North.

Bridgewater was remarkably accurate on almost all of his throws. His bad throws cost him, and his team. That’s life as an NFL quarterback.

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We'll have complete coverage of the game later tonight on Startribune.com, and in the Monday paper. (Buy the paper - you get to see Jerry Holt's great photos.)

My latest podcasts, including those with Jarius Wright and Chad Greenway, are up at SouhanUnfiltered.com.

@Souhanstrib

Vikings-Lions pick

Posted by: Jim Souhan under Football on TV, Lions, NFC, NFL draft, NFL post-season Updated: December 13, 2014 - 5:47 PM

I've been rather bullish on the Vikings, considering they're 6-7 and out of the playoff race. Or maybe because they're 6-7 despite all that has befallen them as a franchise in the last few months.

That doesn't mean I think they'll win on Sunday at Detroit. Quite the contrary. I think this is the worst possible matchup for this team.

The Vikings' flimsy offensive line? Up against the Lions' fearsome front, playing at home, with crowd noise. Advantage: Lions.

The Vikings' rookie quarterback? See above.

The Vikings' running game? Using its third and fourth and fifth options of the season against the best run-stopping unit in the NFL, by far.

The Vikings' rush defense? It's been less than stellar lately, and now has to face a surging Joique Bell and a finally-healthy Reggie Bush.

The Vikings' secondary? Xavier Rhodes has been exceptional of late, but he'll either have to cover Calvin Johnson on every down (unlikely) or he'll be leaving Josh Robinson to cover Johnson. Robinson has gotten torched by bigger receivers (the Bears') and by those with excellent body control and ball awareness (Percy Harvin.) Johnson is a combination of both.

The Vikings' special teams? This might be an area of strength for Minnesota. You've got to like Blair Walsh kicking in a Dome.

Coaching? The Vikings have usually had the advantage in this category throughout the history of this rivalry. And they may this year. I'd take Mike Zimmer over Jim Caldwell as a strategist. But Caldwell has done what a Lions head coach needs to do - provide solid leadership to a remarkably talented squad. Caldwell not being one of his predecessors is good enough to get the Lions into the playoffs.

I like a lot of what's happening at Winter Park these days. I think Zimmer is positioning this team to succeed in the future.

The Lions, though, may provide a reminder of just how far the Vikings still have to travel to be a playoff team.

My don't-bet-on-it-even-with-your-brother's-money pick: Lions 31, Vikings 17.

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New podcasts up at SouhanUnfiltered.com: Jarius Wright on his childhood, his biggest play and vomiting; Jayhawks frontman and great all-around artist Gary Louris on music, sports and life on the road; Strib hockey writer Michael Russo; Chad Greenway; Glen Perkins; Craig Leipold; Strib football writer Mark Craig; ESPN.com writer Kevin Seifert; Mike Grant; Paul Molitor; Ross Bernstein.

I'm in Detroit this weekend to write Vikings-Lions.

Thanks for reading.

@Souhanstrib.

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