Chip Scoggins is a Star Tribune sports columnist. He has temporarily returned to cover the Minnesota Vikings. He had the beat from 2008-2011 after covering college football for five years. Chip has been with the Star Tribune since January 2000. He can be followed on twitter at @chipscoggins.Find Chip on Facebook.
Mark Craig has covered football and the NFL the past 20 years, including the Browns from 1991-95 and the Vikings and the NFL since 2003. Since 2008, Craig has served as one of the 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. He can be followed on Twitter at @markcraignfl.
Every Tuesday morning, we take a look at where the Vikings would pick in the 2014 NFL Draft if the season ended today.
Note: The first tiebreaker is strength of schedule where the team with the worst strength of schedule percentage wins the tiebreaker and gets a better pick. Strength of schedule is based off the win percentage of a team’s opponents, so there’s two ways to calculate it during the season. One would be to factor in a team’s entire 16-game schedule, or the other method would be to tally the records of games already played (the method used in this blog). At the end of the year, both methods will result in the same SOS percentage.
A Tuesday after a win surely meant the Vikings would slide in the current draft projection order, but two teams in front of them also won.
The Vikings are just outside the top five at the moment with the 23-20 overtime win over the Bears. Here’s how the draft order looks right now (records and strength of schedule, if necessary, in parentheses):
They’re still not in a bad position for a possible top five pick, but again that tie against the Packers isn’t helping out their situation. If the Vikings’ would’ve lost, their strength of schedule would be adjusted from .514 to .521.
The Vikings and Redskins would have the same strength of schedule percentage. The next tiebreaker is division records, but they bypass that since they’re not in the same division. The third tiebreaker is conference records, which applies in this situation because they’re both in the NFC.
The Redskins sit at 1-8 against the NFC at the moment. The Vikings would go from 2-7-1 to 2-8 with the hypothetical Packers loss. So here’s how the draft order would look in that situation:
They’d jump three spots to third at the moment, with one of those conference wins against the Redskins. With four weeks left, it’ll be fun to see how this plays out.
The Rams-Redskins trade for quarterback Robert Griffin III in the 2012 NFL Draft doesn’t look so bad now for St. Louis.
Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier said quarterback Christian Ponder is the team's only injury concern after Sunday's win over the Bears. Ponder left the game with a concussion that he suffered just before halftime.
"We’ll have to see how things go with him over the next few days with the NFL protocol regarding concussions," Frazier said.
Due to Ponder's injury, Frazier didn't announce the starting quarterback for Sunday's game against the Ravens. Matt Cassel replaced Ponder and went 20 of 33 for 243 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
"There’s no reason at this point on Monday at 12:40 [p.m.] that we have to make a decision," Frazier said. "We can talk it through and do what’s best. But Matt did a terrific job in relief yesterday afternoon leading our team to victory."
Frazier said Ponder missing practice time or meeting sessions because he hasn't passed the concussion tests could factor into the decision at quarterback. Frazier didn't rule out Josh Freeman if Ponder can't play Sunday.
Linebacker Chad Greenway left Sunday's game after aggravating a fractured wrist injury he's played with for over a month. Frazier doesn't expect Greenway to miss Sunday's game however and feels he'll be back on the field after a few days.
The morning after the Vikings 23-20 overtime win over the Bears, we take a look at the snap distribution on offense and defense
Offense: 86 snaps
QB Matt Cassel – 61 snaps (played 71% on offense)
QB Christian Ponder – 25 (29%)
Ponder left the game due to concussion symptoms right before halftime, but the offense was more effective under Cassel, who’s responsible for all three wins this season.
Cassel went 20 of 33 for 243 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He finished with an 80.7 quarterback rating. Ponder was 3 of 8 for 40 yards.
RB Adrian Peterson – 78 (91%)
FB Jerome Felton – 38 (44%)
RB Toby Gerhart – 7 (8%)
It took the Vikings five possessions to take advantage of the Bears worst-ranked run defense in the NFL. But once they started, they relied heavily on the shoulders of Peterson, who had 35 carries for 211 yards (both season highs).
Peterson was healthy enough where the team didn’t use Gerhart as much compared to last week against the Packers where Peterson played 65 of the team’s 81 snaps (Gerhart spotted him on 14 plays).
Wide Receiver/Tight End
TE John Carlson – 78 (91%)
WR Greg Jennings – 50 (58%)
WR Cordarrelle Patterson – 48 (56%)
TE Rhett Ellison – 45 (52%)
WR Jerome Simpson – 40 (47%)
WR Jarius Wright – 31 (36%)
TE Chase Ford – 10 (12%)
WR Joe Webb – 5 (6%)
Something about Cassel brings out the best in Jennings. He caught his third touchdown this season, all thrown by Cassel, and led the team with seven receptions for 78 yards. Jennings had just one catch for two yards with Ponder. Carlson also had a solid game with four receptions for 61 yards.
Patterson started over Simpson for the third straight week and received a season-high 48 snaps. He’s had over 40 reps in three straight games, but the rookie finished with one catch for four yards. Patterson did, however, score on a 33-yard run in the second quarter
G Charlie Johnson – 86 (100%)
C John Sullivan – 86 (100%)
T Phil Loadholt – 86 (100%)
G Brandon Fusco – 86 (100%)
T Matt Kalil – 86 (100%)
As it’s been for most of the season, the starting unit played the entire game against the Bears. Cassel and Ponder were sacked a combined five times in the game (Bears defensive end Julius Peppers had 2.5 sacks), but the Vikings ran for 283 yards.
Defense: 66 snaps
DE Jared Allen – 58 (88%)
DE Brian Robison – 56 (85%)
DT Kevin Williams – 45 (68%)
DE Everson Griffen – 33 (50%)
NT Letroy Guion – 29 (44%)
NT Fred Evans – 22 (33%)
DT Sharrif Floyd – 21 (32%)
The front line had three of the team’s four sacks (Allen, Robison and Floyd) and hurried Bears quarterback Josh McCown six times.
Guion had five fewer snaps than he did in his return last week against the Packers (34). Evans, who had 17 reps last week, played more as a result.
LB Audie Cole – 66 (100%)
LB Chad Greenway – 64 (97%)
LB Marvin Mitchell – 20 (30%)
LB Larry Dean – 2 (3%)
Although he was suited up on the sideline, linebacker Erin Henderson did not play for a second consecutive game. He missed last week's game due a personal issue, which was revealed Henderson was arrested for an alleged DWI on Nov. 19.
Cole replaced Henderson last week in his first career start and has played the entire game in consecutive weeks. He had nine tackles and a pass deflection.
Greenway left the game during the overtime session due to a wrist injury he’s played through for over a month, but he only missed two plays. He tied for a team-high 10 tackles, three for loss, and a sack.
FS Andrew Sendejo – 66 (100%)
CB Xavier Rhodes – 66 (100%)
SS Jamarca Sanford – 66 (100%)
SS Robert Blanton – 45 (68%)
CB Chris Cook – 43 (65%)
CB Marcus Sherels – 24 (36%)
Rhodes put together another good game with six tackles, one for loss, and a nice pass deflection in the end zone against Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall.
Cook was ejected for making contact with an official after allowing a 46-yard touchdown to wide receiver Alshon Jeffery in the third quarter. It left a thin unit to rely on Sherels, who typically plays a spot corner, to play opposite of Rhodes and Blanton as the nickel corner.
Jeffery broke the Bears’ franchise record with 249 receiving yards. He also had 12 receptions and two touchdowns, both against Cook.
Vikings cornerback Chris Cook’s day ended abruptly in the third quarter when he made contact with an official.
Cook gave up an incredible 46-yard touchdown catch to Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery with 5:24 left in the third quarter to give the Bears a 20-10 lead. After the play, Cook made contact with an official, leading to a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty and an ejection.
It was the second touchdown Cook allowed to Jeffery, who scored on a 80-yard touchdown on the second play of the second half.
Marcus Sherels replaced Cook as the right cornerback with Robert Blanton remaining as the nickel cornerback. The Vikings were thin at the position heading into the game with a fractured sternum injury to Josh Robinson.
Jeffery broke the Bears’ franchise record for receiving yards in the third quarter. He has 10 receptions for 234 yards and two touchdowns after three quarters.
Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder was ruled out due to concussion symptoms. Matt Cassel will finish the game at quarterback.
What would you rather do on a Saturday morning than wake up early and read weekly picks and power rankings involving 32 teams that basically are of equal strength and ability to beat, lose to or tie anyone on any given Sunday, Monday, Saturday, Thursday (and some day, when the revenue ceiling needs to be extended to a gazillion bazillion dollars, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday as well)?
CRAIG'S NFL POWER RANKINGS
BEST OF THE BUNCH
1. Seahawks (10-1)
Why: Now that the Broncos have two losses, including a blown 24-0 lead against the Patriots last week, the Seahawks are the obvious No. 1 team. So obvious, in fact, that you might want to put some money on the Saints this week. Remember, nothing in the NFL is ever as good or as bad as it seems. Seattle, right now, is the best team in the league, riding a six-game winning streak and coming off a bye. They have some issues in the secondary, but they also have the deepest secondary in the league. Note to the rest of the NFC: You better catch ‘em during the regular season because this team will be especially tough to beat at CenturyLink Stadium in the playoffs.
2. Patriots (8-3); 3. Broncos (9-2); 4. Panthers (8-3); 5. Saints (9-2); 6. 49ers (7-4); 7. Cardinals (7-4); 8. Chargers (5-6); 9. Chiefs (9-2); 10. Eagles (6-5); 11. Rams (5-6); 12. Bengals (7-4); 13. Lions (7-5); 14. Ravens (6-6); 15. Cowboys (7-5); 16. Giants (4-7); 17. Colts (7-4); 18. Steelers (5-7); 19. Bills (4-7); 20. Buccaneers (3-8); 21. Titans (5-6); 22. Dolphins (5-6); 23. Bears (6-5); 24. Raiders (4-8); 25. Jets (5-6); 26. Packers (5-6-1); 27. Browns (4-7).
28. Vikings 2-8-1 (Last week: 28): The Vikings had trouble describing how a tie against Green Bay should feel. Four days later, the Lions helped them locate the correct feeling (lousy) by beating the Packers by 30 while outgaining them in total yards, 561-126.
THE REST OF THE REST
29. Jaguars (2-9); 30. Redskins (3-8); 31. Falcons (2-9).
WORST OF THE BUNCH
32: Texans (2-9): Houston was 9-2 last year when the Vikings showed up in town and beat them 23-6. Since that game, the Texans are 3-11. They’ve lost nine straight. And the ninth loss last week came against Jacksonville. So, yeah, that pretty much deserves at least one week at the bottom of the steaming heap of bad teams.
Bears plus-1 at Vikings. The pick: Vikings 28, Bears 17.
Yeah, it’s always risky to pick against Josh McCown when he’s playing the Vikings. He’s 2-0 with a somewhat memorable season-ending, game-winning, knock-the-Vikings-out-of-the-playoffs touchdown pass to Nate Poole as a member of the lowly Cardinals in 2003 (See: “Noooooooooooo!”). But Adrian Peterson looks to have put his hamstring and groin issues behind him. The Vikings rediscovered their running game against a terrible run defense in Green Bay a week ago. And now they face an even more horrendous run defense – ranked No. 32 ½ in a 32-team league – that’s beat up and allowing close to 200 yards per game the past five weeks. The feeling here is the Vikings are still playing hard enough to punish a beat-up Bears defense while controlling the game.
Last week: Vikings plus-4 at Packers: The pick: Vikings 24, Packers 21. The final: Vikings 26, Packers 26. Record: 6-4-1, 5-6 vs. the spread.
Saints plus-4 ½ at Seahawks: Saints 38, Seahawks 35.
Why?: Big Monday Night Football stage with giant playoff implications. The assumption is the Seahawks can’t lose at home in this situation. Assumptions are a bad thing when trying to make any sense of the NFL. Look for Drew Brees and a much, much, much-improved Saints defense to make the biggest statement of the year to date in the NFC.
Last week: Panthers minus-4 ½ at Dolphins: The pick: Dolphins 27, Panthers 24. The final: Panthers 20, Dolphins 16. Record: 4-8.
Titans plus-3 ½ at Colts: Colts by 6.
Broncos minus-5 at Chiefs: Broncos by 7.
Jaguars plus-7 at Browns: Browns by 3.
Buccaneers plus-7 ½ at Panthers: Panthers by 3.
Cardinals plus-3 at Eagles: Cardinals by 7.
Dolphins plus-2 at Jets: Dolphins by 3.
Falcons plus-3 ½ vs. Bills in Toronto: Bills by 7.
Rams plus-8 at 49ers: 49ers by 3.
Patriots minus-7 ½ at Texans: Patriots by 14.
Bengals plus-1 at Chargers: Bengals by 3.
Giants minus-1 ½ at Redskins: Redskins by 3.
Record: Last week: 5-7-1; 7-6 vs. the spread. Overall: 93-71-1; 73-87-4 vs. the spread.
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|Heath Farwell (48)||Jared Allen (385)|
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|Leslie Frazier (888)||Madieu Williams (78)|
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