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.
As the Vikings prepare for Sunday’s Week 12 game with Chicago at Soldier Field, here’s a look at a handful of eye-opening figures and facts.
Sacks by the Vikings in their last meeting with Chicago, a 17-13 loss in the 2011 regular season finale. Defensive end Jared Allen had 3.5 sacks in that contest to set a new Vikings record for sacks in a season.
Sacks allowed by the Bears in Monday night’s lopsided 32-7 loss in San Francisco with 49ers outside linebacker Aldon Smith recording 5.5 on his own. Quarterback Jason Campbell, starting in place of Jay Cutler, was not only sacked six times but hit on 11 occasions. Chicago has allowed 34 sacks in 10 games, second most in the NFL.
NFL teams with fewer rushing yards as a whole than Vikings star Adrian Peterson. Peterson has 1,128 rushing yards to lead the league in that category. The Vikings rank third in rushing yards as a team, averaging 150.5 per game. They trail only San Francisco (165.5) and Washington (165.0) in that category.
NFC teams with records of .500 or above at this point in the season. That should make the playoff chase incredibly interesting over the final six weeks. The current division leaders are Atlanta (9-1), San Francisco (7-2-1), Green Bay (7-3) and New York (6-4). If the season ended today, the NFC wild cards would be Chicago (7-3) and Seattle (6-4), based on tiebreaking procedures. Also in the wild card picture right now are Tampa Bay (6-4), the Vikings (6-4), New Orleans (5-5) and Dallas (5-5).
Vikings quarterbacks to win in Chicago in the 21st century. The list is not long. Daunte Culpepper aided a 28-16 win at Soldier Field in 2000, throwing TD passes to Cris Carter, Randy Moss and Matthew Hatchette. Tarvaris Jackson was under center for a 34-31 victory in 2007 with Adrian Peterson (20 carries, 224 yards, three TDs) doing most of the offensive damage. The Vikings are 2-9 in their last 11 trips to Solider Field and also lost 27-23 at Champaign’s Memorial Stadium in 2002. The Bears quarterbacks who presided over those 10 wins: Jim Miller, Rex Grossman, Chad Hutchinson, Kyle Orton and Jay Cutler.
Takeaways by the Chicago defense this season, most in the NFL. Cornerback Tim Jennings has a league-best eight interceptions and Charles Tillman is tops in fumbles forced (seven). The Bears have scored seven touchdowns on defense as well.
Takeaways by the Vikings since the start of the 2011 season. This year, the Vikings have five interceptions and seven fumbles recovered as a team.
Percy Harvin’s NFL rank in catches through 10 games. When Harvin made his last reception, a 9-yarder early in the third quarter of a Nov. 4 game in Seattle, he led the league in that category. But a sprained ankle kept him out of the Vikings’ Week 10 win over Detroit and was followed by a bye week. In that time, seven receivers have leapfrogged past Harvin on the catch list. They are Indianapolis’ Reggie Wayne (76), New England’s Wes Welker (73), Dallas’ Jason Witten (73), Chicago’s Brandon Marshall (69), Detroit’s Calvin Johnson (65), Atlanta’s Tony Gonzalez (64) and Cincinnati’s A.J. Green (64).
Vikings record after their bye week the last 10 seasons. They have sandwiched the bye week with victories four times in that span: in 2003, ‘04, ’06 and ‘09. Last year coming out of the bye, however, the Vikings were trounced 45-7 at Green Bay.
Chicago’s record, including playoffs, in games started by quarterback Jay Cutler the past three seasons. Cutler may not be an MVP candidate but he has at least steadied the Bears offense. Without Cutler as the starter, the Bears are 2-6 with back-ups Todd Collins, Caleb Hanie, Josh McCown and Jason Campbell unable to jumpstart much. Cutler’s status for Sunday’s game with the Vikings is still up in the air as he tries to get past a concussion suffered Nov. 11 against Houston.
The Vikings’ 2012 regular season schedule has been released. Here’s your quick look at what’s ahead as the team looks to bounce back from last year’s 3-13 disaster.
Everyone from the expert-level draftnik to the most casual Vikings fan has discussed the Vikings' No. 3 overall pick ad nauseam. But what about the team's nine other picks? What might a team with numerous holes to fill do on Days 2-3 of this month's NFL draft? Access Vikings is taking a round-by-round look at the team's history in Rounds 2-7 since Rick Spielman began overseeing the team's draft preparation as director of player personnel in 2007. We'll also take a look at players Spielman, now the team's general manager, might select later this month.
While taking a breath in this free-agent
yawner frenzy ...
Funny how things change in a year.
A year ago, the Seahawks needed a quarterback. They signed Tarvaris Jackson, who had spent his first five NFL seasons either struggling and/or being shoved aside to make room for Brett Favre's post-Mankato arrivals.
When the Seahawks nabbed T-Jack, Seattle GM John Schneider gave an interview to Yahoo! that slammed a big old club right over former Vikings coach Brad Childress, who hooked T-Jack in 2006, but was too stubborn to throw him back when he started to stink up the boat.
"He has not been in a good situation," Schneider said at the time. "He's been jerked around. We wanted to put him in a stable situation."
Schneider also said, "He's 28 years old, and quite frankly, was ..." um, well, "... on for four years."
Schneider later apologized to the Vikings. As free agency unfolds this year, one has to think that somewhere in Northeast Ohio, Childress, the Browns new offensive coordinator, is enjoying what's going on in Seattle this spring.
One of the more fascinating non-Peyton transactions of the spring is Seattle's signing of quarterback Matt Flynn, who got a three-year deal that will pay him $13 million for each of the two NFL starts he now has on his resume.
So, yes, the team that said the Vikings jerked T-Jack around by signing Brett Favre went out and got its own former Packer -- albeit one with about 300 or so fewer starts. By the way, the Seahawks also tried to sign Manning as well, which is further evidence that teams trying to groom Tarvaris are usually going to be teams looking to replace Tarvaris.
The Seahawks say Flynn and Jackson will compete for the job. But something tells me if this were a 40-yard dash, Flynn would be starting on the 33-yard line.
A year after ripping the Vikings for jerking Jackson around, Schneider might want to thank them for helping Jackson deal with what appears to be the backup to a guy with two starts.
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