Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Chat OT: Harvin's health, Winfield's resurgence, Ponder's upside

Posted by: under On the road, Vikings, Bears, Lions, Vikings offense, Adrian Peterson, Antoine Winfield, Jared Allen, Percy Harvin Updated: November 21, 2012 - 12:32 PM

If you missed my live Vikings chat on Tuesday afternoon, you can check in here and read the back and forth in full. In addition, each week I will attempt to go overtime, bringing good questions I didn’t get around to answering on the chat here to the Access Vikings blog for discussion. Here are Tuesday’s leftovers. Save them for the day after Thanksgiving if you must.

Question 1: I don't believe Percy Harvin won't play in Chicago this weekend due simply to soreness in his sprained ankle. That dude is tougher than nails and wants to compete worse than anyone. I gotta believe they'll just tape that ankle up and let him go. What do you think?

I think the same way. By kickoff Sunday, Harvin will have had 20 full days between games, a lengthy break that will have given him plenty of time to treat that sprained left ankle. With a division game and so much at stake and also knowing how antsy Harvin always is, I just don’t see him sitting this one out. Unless, of course, there’s some sort of significant setback at practice this week. And you’d have to believe, the Vikings will take it easy on him this week as a precaution.

Stay tuned for our updates from Wednesday’s practice.

Question 2: Vikings 24, Niners 13. Niners 32, Bears 7. I think this one is in the bag. Am I wrong?

Ah, yes. The good ol’ transitive property. Which we all know doesn’t work in the NFL. But if you’re looking for all the common opponents the Vikings and Bears have had to this point, let’s have a little fun with this.

  • Jaguars: Vikings win 26-23 at home in Week 1; Bears win 41-3 on the road in Week 5. --> Bears plus 25
  • Colts: Vikings lose 23-20 on the road in Week 2; Bears win 41-21 at home in Week 1 --> Bears plus 23
  • 49ers: Vikings win 24-13 at home in Week 3; Bears lose 32-7 on the road in Week 11 --> Vikings plus 36
  • Lions: Vikings win 20-13 on the road in Week 4 and 34-24 at home in Week 10 (average score 27-19); Bears win 13-7 at home in Week 7 --> Vikings plus 2
  • Titans: Vikings win 30-7 at home in Week 5; Bears win 51-20 on the road in Week 9 --> Bears plus 8

By my count, the Bears are plus 18 overall. Divide that by five opponents. And you find Chicago is plus-3.6. So basically, anticipate a 24-20 Chicago win.

Question 3: It seemed like Antoine Winfield found the fountain of youth this year – fewer snaps, staying over the slot in the nickel defense and thus remaining closer to the line of scrimmage. But since Cook went down, he's had to play more. Is that decreasing his effectiveness?

Aside from Adrian Peterson, no Viking has impressed me more in 2012 than Winfield. The guy is a true pro and one of the most respected players in that locker room. At 35, he’s still playing at a high level and even drawing some chatter as a possible Pro Bowler this year. I don’t buy the notion that Cook’s absence the past two games has decreased Winfield’s effectiveness. He was pretty darn solid in the last outing against Detroit and continues to be a menace in run support. We’ll see if Winfield can stay fresh down the stretch here. But the coaching staff gives him a lot of down time during the week, understanding that they need him fresh on Sundays.

Keep an eye on Winfield the rest of the way. Not so much out of fear that Winfield will wear down but with an understanding that he won’t be around forever. And it’s wise to appreciate just how good a player he is while he’s still around – and excelling.

Question 4: Why do so many fans act as though RG3, Andrew Luck, Andy Dalton, etc., have so much going for them when their respective teams are NO better than the Vikings in Christian Ponder's first full season?

Question 5: There is a guy named Ryan Mallett sitting in New England. He has a HUGE gun for an arm, he’s accurate and looked great in preseason games. Will the Vikings ever go after this guy?

Move over Dwayne Bowe. We have our first “Why aren’t the Vikings trying to get Ryan Mallett?” question. I just wanted that noted for fun and am not about to spend any more time on that topic. I’ll give the questioner the benefit of the doubt and let him off the hook with the idea that the question may have been somewhat facetious.

But as for that first question, well, that one goes a little deeper. And it’s well documented that I think the most vocal Ponder naysayers are susceptible to premature judgment and can’t allow for even the idea that he will continue to grow as a quarterback and could one day emerge as the real catalyst of the Vikings’ offense.

The kid needs time and patience to test himself and the Vikings coaching staff and front office is doing a great job with managing that situation.

That said, if you can’t see the difference between RG3 and Ponder with a simple eye test, then I’m not sure I can help you. Griffin has only three interceptions in his first 10 starts. (Ponder had 13 picks.) Griffin has completed 67.1 percent of his passes in his first 10 starts. (Ponder had a .544 completion percentage through his first 10 starts). Griffin has a total of 18 TDs in his first 10 starts (12 passing, six rushing). Ponder had 13.

Anyway, to make a long story short, it’d be hard to find anyone with extensive football knowledge who would claim that Ponder had a brighter future than Griffin or Luck. Those two simply are a notch above Ponder in terms of athleticism and talent.

The biggest worries with Ponder come from those stinker games. Like the 58-yard afternoon and 35.5 rating against Arizona in Week 7. Or the 44 net passing yards and 37.3 rating in Seattle. Those drastic dips really don’t settle the anxiety of the fan base. And to date, Griffin hasn’t had a major stinker like that. And now, he’s coming off an effort in a 31-6 thrashing of Philadelphia in which he went 14-for-15 for 200 yards and four TD passes. That marked his fourth game this year with a rating above 100. (Ponder has five such games in twice as many starts).

Luck has had a few dips himself. He had three picks last week in New England, three picks in a season-opening loss in Chicago and was erratic in a 35-9 road loss to the Jets. His rating this season of 77.2 is well below Ponder’s (85.2). That said, Luck has thrown for 280 yards or more seven times. (Ponder has two such games in twice as many starts.) So it’s easy to deduce that Luck seems to be the more prolific quarterback.

Ponder may be in the same ballpark with Dalton when it comes to ability and upside. Dalton aided a playoff charge in 2011 as a rookie and has been pretty solid throughout 2012. He’s 14-12 as a starter. And while that’s not exactly a Canton credential, that kind of early success buys extra time and votes of confidence from all around.

Luck and Griffin get that extra time and those votes of confidence based on where they were picked and their obvious upside.

Ponder? In order to buy himself more time from an always jittery fan base, he needs to continue proving he’s getting better and making the Vikings’ offense better as a whole. Leading a charge to eight wins this season would be a big step in the right direction.

But overall, Ponder also needs to understand that his slumps cannot be as dramatic as they have been in his first two years. His recent funk drew twice as much worry because the end of his 2011 season was such a spill. He’ll also have to proceed knowing there’s a chunk of the fan base that will never be satisfied with anything he does. It’s just part of it.

Question 6: Who do you think needs to step up most these last six games for this team to make the playoffs?

I’ll give you a handful of names.

  • Ponder: The obvious one.
  • Jared Allen: Look, Adrian Peterson is doing his job as a superstar carrying the offense. Now it’s time for Allen to deliver on a similarly high level. There’s no greater opportunity than against a shaken offensive line in Chicago this weekend.
  • A.J. Jefferson: The third-year corner will have to do his part in slowing Brandon Marshall twice in the next three weeks. He’ll also be tested in two games against Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay and will see Andre Johnson in Houston in Week 16. Chris Cook's broken arm was a major setback to a secondary that was on the rise. It's up to Jefferson to keep things humming.
  • Letroy Guion: Assuming his turf toe issue doesn’t linger, the nose tackle will have to prove he’s as good as the coaching staff believes he can be. He’ll play a big part in making sure the run defense stays solid.
  • Brandon Fusco: His play has been ordinary at best for the past month-and-a-half with back-up Geoff Schwartz seeing more time at right guard. The Vikings offense needs stability up front. And that means Fusco has to do his part to keep it together.

 

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Philadelphia 24 FINAL
Washington 27
San Diego 28 4th Qtr 0:32
San Francisco 35
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Phoenix 99 FINAL
New York 90
Portland 114 FINAL
New Orleans 88
Utah 86 FINAL
Charlotte 104
Atlanta 104 FINAL
Houston 97
San Antonio 93 FINAL
Dallas 99
Indiana 73 FINAL
Denver 76
Milwaukee 52 3rd Qtr 12:00
LA Clippers 50
Arizona 2 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Colorado 5 FINAL
Buffalo 1
Philadelphia 7 FINAL
Toronto 4
Ottawa 1 FINAL
Montreal 4
Washington 4 FINAL
New Jersey 0
Tampa Bay 1 FINAL
NY Islanders 3
Florida 1 FINAL
Pittsburgh 3
NY Rangers 3 FINAL(SO)
Carolina 2
Chicago 2 FINAL(SO)
Columbus 3
Nashville 6 FINAL(OT)
Minnesota 5
Calgary 1 3rd Prd
Vancouver 2
St. Louis 0 2nd Prd 9:13
San Jose 1
VA Commonwealth 68 FINAL
Cincinnati 47
Charlotte 78 FINAL
Georgetown 81
SMU 62 FINAL
Michigan 51
Louisville 76 FINAL
Western Ky 67
Mount St Marys 45 FINAL
American Univ 46
Abilene Christian 33 FINAL
Boise State 77
UMass Lowell 63 FINAL
Duquesne 79
South Alabama 65 FINAL
IUPUI 71
Ohio State 74 FINAL
North Carolina 82
Massachusetts 65 FINAL
Providence 85
Syracuse 77 FINAL
Villanova 82
Citadel 61 FINAL
Virginia Tech 64
Belmont 73 FINAL
Fairfield 61
St Bonaventure 69 FINAL
Binghamton 51
Montreat 64 FINAL
Campbell 90
Delaware 74 FINAL
Fair-Dickinson 76
South Florida 62 FINAL
Florida State 75
Vanderbilt 60 FINAL
Georgia Tech 65
SC State 71 FINAL
Houston 63
Missouri 59 FINAL
Illinois 62
Truett-McConnell 55 FINAL
Jacksonville 84
Toledo 83 FINAL
McNeese State 69
Elon 71 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 64
Drexel 68 FINAL
Penn State 73
St Francis-PA 73 FINAL
Rutgers 68
Albany 64 FINAL
Yale 60
PSU-Beaver 74 FINAL
Longwood 106
Eastern Ill 60 FINAL
Indiana State 56
Indiana 82 FINAL
Butler 73
Marshall 58 FINAL
Arkansas State 67
Lafayette 69 FINAL
Kansas 96
Oral Roberts 63 FINAL
Memphis 78
Western Mich 61 FINAL
Northwestern 67
Delaware State 70 FINAL
Oregon 83
Fla Atlantic 56 FINAL
St Francis-NY 61
Arkansas Tech 57 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 94
Howard Payne 50 FINAL
Texas-Arlington 89
UMBC 66 FINAL
Kennesaw St 53
St Josephs (IN) 54 FINAL
Chicago State 77
Eastern Mich 77 FINAL
Missouri State 65
UCLA 44 FINAL
Kentucky 83
UC Davis 81 FINAL
Air Force 75
Houston Baptist 67 FINAL
UC Riverside 78
Davidson 80 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 68
USC Upstate 53 FINAL
Miss State 51
NC Central 94 FINAL
Miss Valley St 60
Illinois State 77 FINAL
Murray State 89
Louisiana 85 FINAL
Northwestern St 89
Oakland 77 FINAL
Pittsburgh 81
Detroit 55 FINAL
Rhode Island 69
Presbyterian 60 FINAL
UT Martin 77
Monmouth 74 FINAL
Wagner 66
Southern U 39 FINAL
Wyoming 57
Iowa State 83 FINAL
Drake 54
Wake Forest 50 FINAL
Florida 63
High Point 80 FINAL
James Madison 71
Texas Southern 71 FINAL
Michigan State 64
New Hampshire 60 FINAL
Sacred Heart 73
Northeastern 78 FINAL
Santa Clara 72
Huston-Tillotson 56 FINAL
Texas State 90
Purdue 63 FINAL
Notre Dame 94
Prairie View 44 FINAL
Sam Houston St 61
Xavier 88 FINAL
Auburn 89
Bluffton 53 FINAL
Akron 92
NJIT 84 FINAL
Central Conn St 76
Hofstra 77 FINAL
Columbia 82
Boston Univ 62 FINAL
Dayton 78
Iona 81 FINAL
George Mason 86
Valparaiso 75 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 72
Texas A&M 64 FINAL
Kansas State 71
Morgan State 69 FINAL
Manhattan 73
Saint Josephs 75 FINAL
Marist 58
East Carolina 54 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 66
Richmond 65 FINAL
Pepperdine 63
La Salle 67 FINAL
Towson 53
Incarnate Word 110 FINAL
UMKC 104
CS-Bakersfield 59 FINAL
Idaho State 50
Iowa 44 FINAL
Northern Iowa 56
Milwaukee 56 FINAL
SIU Edwardsville 61
Long Beach State 68 FINAL
Texas 78
TX-San Antonio 57 FINAL
TCU 88
SE Missouri St 67 FINAL
Arkansas 85
Lehigh 84 FINAL
Arizona State 81
New Mexico 69 FINAL
New Mexico St 67
Oklahoma 67 FINAL
Washington 69
Utah Valley U 61 FINAL
Weber State 73
Jacksonville St 60 FINAL
Northern Colorado 69
St Edwards 55 FINAL
Grand Canyon 81
NC State 69 2nd Half 0:09
West Virginia 83
TX A&M-CC 71 2nd Half 1:07
CS-Northridge 66
Cal Poly 44 2nd Half 3:04
Gonzaga 55
Fresno State 68 FINAL
Pacific 71
Montana State 60 2nd Half 0:40
Portland 87
Ball State 43 2nd Half 8:55
San Diego St 57
South Dakota St 61 2nd Half 1:56
Utah State 56
Stanford 33 1st Half 0:39
BYU 34
Utah 0 1st Half 18:14
UNLV 0
Nevada 3 FINAL
Louisiana 16
Utah State 21 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 6
(23) Utah 45 FINAL
Colorado State 10
Western Mich 24 FINAL
Air Force 38
South Alabama 14 3rd Qtr 6:00
Bowling Green 20
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 3:00 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Livingstone 77 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 81
Loyola-Chicago 58 FINAL
Dartmouth 70
Georgia Tech 65 FINAL
St Francis-NY 59
Auburn 49 FINAL
St Johns 56
East Tenn St 56 FINAL
Jacksonville St 57
Western Mich 71 FINAL
Detroit 57
Cal-Irvine 42 FINAL
Wright State 80
Gardner-Webb 47 FINAL
Kennesaw St 50
(7) Stanford 40 FINAL
(11) Tennessee 59
Alabama A&M 47 FINAL
Ole Miss 71
Central Michigan 45 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 80
Nebraska Omaha 50 FINAL
Creighton 67
FIU 69 FINAL
Western Carolina 83
Houston 65 FINAL
Nicholls 47
St Thomas Aquinas 45 FINAL
Army 70
St Bonaventure 72 FINAL
Niagara 60
Texas State 57 FINAL
Stetson 75
George Mason 65 FINAL
ULM 53
Grambling 38 FINAL
Kansas State 61
Missouri 79 FINAL
Wake Forest 64
Robert Morris 59 FINAL
Cornell 70
Air Force 44 FINAL
Abilene Christian 80
Hampton 53 FINAL
James Madison 85
American Univ 64 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 52
Texas Southern 63 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 68
Tenn Tech 49 FINAL
NC A&T 54
Presbyterian 45 FINAL
NC Central 33
Penn 58 FINAL
Drexel 67
Lipscomb 38 FINAL
Xavier 62
Vermont 40 FINAL
Green Bay 60
Charleston Southern 70 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 80
Ohio Christian 62 FINAL
Akron 97
Jacksonville 62 FINAL
Murray State 80
(17) Rutgers 66 FINAL
Iona 58
Indiana 88 FINAL
Oakland 61
Indiana State 64 FINAL
SMU 55
Denver 51 FINAL
Purdue 65
TX-San Antonio 48 FINAL
Texas Tech 64
UCF 57 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 79
Campbell 66 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 55
Florida A&M 67 FINAL
SE Louisiana 69
Northwestern St 61 FINAL
Jackson State 62
Lehigh 61 FINAL
Arizona State 81
Valparaiso 65 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 77
Liberty 60 FINAL
Minnesota 74
Wofford 60 FINAL
North Florida 68
Montana State 61 FINAL
Washington St 82
Marshall 56 FINAL
(22) West Virginia 69
Morgan State 40 FINAL
Chattanooga 55
Northeastern 65 FINAL
Harvard 67
Furman 51 FINAL
(15) Georgia 58
(18) Michigan State 65 FINAL
(9) Baylor 84
Ohio U 52 FINAL
Massachusetts 59
Prairie View 48 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 86
Toledo 64 FINAL
Southern Ill 48
High Point 57 FINAL
(12) Nebraska 83
Winthrop 20 FINAL
Wichita State 66
William Jewell 59 FINAL
UMKC 51
Louisiana Tech 52 FINAL
Utah 67
Southern Utah 51 FINAL
Gonzaga 70
Hawaii 85 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 76
San Jose St 62 FINAL
San Francisco 77
CS-Northridge 65 FINAL
San Diego State 54
Norfolk State 36 FINAL
East Carolina 65
Saint Peters 49 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 59
Arizona 60 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 72
Northwestern 92 FINAL
Eastern Illinois 44
Oral Roberts 52 FINAL
Wisconsin 70
Florida Atlantic 44 FINAL
New Mexico St 57
La Salle 76 FINAL
Georgia State 68
(16) Oregon State 73 FINAL
Nevada 50
Sacred Heart 72 FINAL
Villanova 49
Delaware 59 FINAL
Cincinnati 67
Troy 75 FINAL
Tennessee St 71
Saint Louis 68 FINAL
Utah Valley U 66
Washington 74 FINAL
UC-Riverside 71
Pacific 43 FINAL
Long Beach St 53
Old Dominion 69 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 63
Austin Peay 62 FINAL
Montana 83
Lewis-Clark State 48 FINAL
Idaho 74
(21) Miss State 55 2nd Half 10:21
Illinois-Chicago 27
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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