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Souhan on Sports

Jim Souhan analyzes the local sports scene

Readers respond: Why are football ratings on the decline?

Wrote about the NFL's ratings decline in the Monday paper and received a lot of responses.

A few people said the protests during the National Anthem are the reason. I disagree.

A lot of people have said that the decline in quarterback play or the starpower of the position isn't the reason for the decline - that it's the quality of the programming.

Too many officiating mistakes. Too many replay reviews. Too many commercials. Too many ugly hits that we now know lead directly to concussions that can ruin lives. Too many unappealing games in prime time.

It's probably a combination of all of the above. Of course, with an undefeated and generally likeable team in town, this is probably not the best market to test theories about fan viewership, but I do think the NFL is facing serious issues with its brand.

Now, the league ratings could decline by 30 percent and it would still be the most successful league, financially, in North American history. But the arrow is suddenly pointing the wrong way.


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Souhan: What a smackdown of the Texans

One of the most cliched questions in sports journalism is one you'll be seeing and hearing a lot this week:

``Is the bye coming at a good time?''

The usual correct answer to that is: ``Doesn't matter. You don't get to reschedule if you don't like it.''

The correct answer for the Vikings today: ``Doesn't matter. We've already proved we don't need to be healthy or rested to be dominant.''

The Vikings took apart a pretty talented Texans' offense on Sunday, making Brock Osweiler look like a young Spergon Wynn.

Osweiler is not a high-quality NFL quarterback, but he is surrounded with quality skill-position players and has been able to score points against lesser defenses.

Two teams have beaten him up, and both are run by defensive masterminds - the Patriots and Vikings.

The Vikings produced two defensive touchdowns against the Titans, then overwhelmed three quality quarterbacks (Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton and Eli Manning), then beat up on Osweiler.

In my column in the Sunday paper, I noted that the Vikings have already concluded the toughest stretch of their schedule. After the bye, they'll go to Philly to face rookie quarterback Carson Wentz. That's one of the tougher games on their schedule, but as good as Wentz has been, how will he handle a truly dominant, head-game-playing defense?

The Vikings may be favored in each of their remaining games. They may be the best team currently in the NFL, with the possible exception of the Patriots now that Tom Brady has returned and Rob Gronkowski is healthy.

This is heady stuff, and the Vikings deserve all of the homer-tastic praise they are receiving because they have done it despite injuries that many coaches and organization would happily use as excuses for poor play.

For the Monday paper, I'm writing about Adam Thielen and Cordarrelle Patterson coming through with Stefon Diggs out.