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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A series of national reports indicated the Vikings have signed former Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman.
Freeman is problematic. He was inaccurate and error-prone this season. He missed a team photo and battled with his head coach.
This part is important: The coach he battled with, Greg Schiano, may be an idiot.
I like the move. Freeman has had two outstanding NFL seasons. He has the talent to succeed. The Vikings are getting a chance to try out a quarterback capable of being a productive NFL starter without giving up a first-round draft pick or a massive, long-term contract.
The reports are Freeman will sign a one-year deal worth $2.5 to $3 million. That's nothing for a quarterback.
The Vikings may not admit it, but this should end Christian Ponder's tenure in Minnesota. Matt Cassel is sure to start against Carolina next week, and the Vikings aren't bringing in Freeman to be a third-string quarterback.
Freeman gets a fresh start, and the Vikings get a quarterback with NFL talent without waiting and hoping the right guy falls to them in the draft.
This is a smart, aggressive, low-risk, high-reward move by Rick Spielman.
Waiting for my flight home with Strib photographer Carlos Gonzalez, wondering whether the NFL really could work in London.
I think it would work in terms of fan support and television ratings, because London is immense and there have to be sane people in the UK who would realize how much more spectacular the NFL is than soccer and cricket.
The real question fo rme is how it would work logistically. If by the end of the decade, when the NFL would like to place a team in London, it would require a 12-hour flight to travel from Seattle or San Diego to London, then this is untenable.
If flight travel quickens and improves, so that large men don't get off a plane feeling like they've been beaten with hammers, everything else falls into place.
For most of the week, I didn't see any signs or hear any buzz about the game, and the major news outlets largely ignored the NFL. That can change quickly, though, if London has a home team and starts developing decent television ratings.
What won't change without improved air travel is the willingness of NFL players to play in London.
Then again, no premier free agents want to play in Jacksonville, either.
I tend to believe that the NFL will find a way to make this a success. It's not exactly a risky market. It's huge and Engilsh-speaking and not that far from New York.
It's usually a mistake to give people in sports too much credit, but I have to believe that the NFL's research indicates that a team in London would eventually thrive. This league does know what it's doing when it comes to marketing and maximizing television revenues.
Personally, I love London. It's huge but never overwhelming. You never have here that sense you get in New York ,where you feel claustrophobic because of all the skyscrapers. It's more like Boston or San Francisco, filled with quaint buildings and beautiful architecture in the context of a major city.
Heading home now to find out Gardenhire's fate, cover the Wild opener and catch up with the Lynx.
Thanks for reading our coverage from London, and please check out Carlos' many great photos on startribune.com.
NFL players and coaches don't want to fly over the Atlantic and give up a home game to play in London. That's just the way it is. If they wanted to sightsee in London, they'd do it in the offseason.
Given that fact as context, the Vikings' week in London couldn't have gone much better than it did.
They practiced at a golf resort. They had time to adjust to the time change. They played in front of a remarkable number of friendly fans, whether they were Vikings fans who made the trip or Vikings fans for a night.
Wembley Stadium is beautiful, and loud, and much better at picking music than most American stadiums.
Most important, the Vikings won while finding their quarterback. Matt Cassel performed well enough that the Vikings resembled the team I thought they'd be all along: A talented team whose offense helps make up for weaknesses on the back seven of the defense.
If they keep Cassel at quarterback, as they should, and Chris Cook and Jamarca Sanford get healthy over the bye, this could be a dangerous team the rest of the way.
About to board a bus for Wembley Stadium. As usual, I have no idea who's going to win the game but if it comes down to rest and karma, the Vikings have a shot.
Jared Allen revealed the way most NFL players feel about playing overseas when he said he would never sign with a team in London, but the Vikings have put on a good show, repeatedly thanking their hosts.
They also have been enabled to full adapt to the time change, while the Steelers arrived on Friday and may still be off-schedule. Or as they say here, sshhhedule.
Changing to a journeyman quarterback and adding a blocking back don't seem to be like dramatic moves, but I do think Matt Cassel's willingness to throw downfield and Jerome Felton's lead blocking could spread out an overrated Steelers' defense. I see a big game for Adrian Peterson and the wide receivers getting at least a little more involved than they have been.
If Cordarrelle Patterson doesn't play half the offensive snaps, Bill Musgrave should be locked into Churchill's bunker.
The real concern for the Vikings is on defense. It's incumbent on the pass rush to hide some of the flaws of a wafer-thin secondary, but getting to Ben Roethlisberger and sacking him are often two different things. What's remarkable about Big Big is he appears to the naked eye to be about the same size as Jared Allen. He also has the dangerous Antonio Brown to throw to, and the return of Heath Miller, an excellent all-around tight end who is a Big Ben favorite, should allow Pittsburgh to move the ball efficiently even if they can't run well.
Just the facts: Tim Brewster's Big Ten winning percentage: .222. Jerry Kill's: .235.
I'll be on the last Ron Gardenhire Show of the season at 9:30 from London, then will be on the line with Scott Korzenowski from London for Sunday Sports Talk from 10-noon on 1500ESPN.
Please follow me during the game tonight on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.
I arrived in London on Monday. That feels like a month ago. Between the Vikings' appearances and practices, the intrigue surrounding the quarterback position, some sightseeing and pub-visiting and cobblestone-treading, this has felt like a very long week.
A pleasant, interesting, long week. It's strange to be in a place where I don't feel the need to read every last bit of the sports section or turn on the ``telly.'' It's strange to be six hours ahead of Minneapolis time. It's strange, mostly, to be in an English-speaking country where I'm jealous of another form of English.
Our bus hostess' accent sounds a bit like a British woman imitating Jon Stewart imitating the Queen of England. At dinner last night, we sat next to a table of Brits who seemed to be celebrating some sort of reunion. I understood even the portions of their conversation I couldn't understand.
My favorite experience of the week might be listening to our Chip Scoggins, who has retained his Tennessee accent, trying to communicate with Brits, who immediately call for a translator.
During the Olympics, we stayed in slightly more working-class neighborhood. There were fewer good restaurants, and I made fun of the quality of food.
It's all about location. We're staying in a more upper-crust neighborhood on this trip, and the food has been excellent,
Today, the Vikings will make an appearance at a block party in PIccadilly Circus, and then there will be no more access or appearances until the game.
I'm ready to see a game.
This could be a pivotal game for a lot of people. If Leslie Frazier starts 0-4, he may not have a chance to keep his job. If Matt Cassel performs well, Christian Ponder may never be an NFL starter again. If Cassel fails, he may never be considered a viable NFL option again. If Bill Musgrave doesn't find a way to use Cordarrelle Patterson, his job may be in jeopardy.
I have a hunch Cassel will play well, Jerome Felton will help spring Adrian Peterson and the game will become a shootout.
We'll host the last Ron Gardenhire Show of the season at 9:30 a.m. Sunday on 1500ESPN, then I'll co-host Sunday Sports Talk from London with Scott Korzenowski running the show from Treasure Island Casino from 10-noon.
Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib, and check in at startribune.com for more features and videos from London.
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