Final Grades + Playoff Predictions

(Turns lights on, peers around, dusts things off)

Hey everyone! Hope you all had a good holiday season. It's definitely been a little while since I've hopped on here.That's what happens when someone like me finally gets a new Xbox 360 for the first time in 2 years. Dear lord how I had missed that wonderful, beautiful machine. If it had a built-in refrigerator and some sort of sexual port, I'm not sure I'd ever leave it's side. Not that I do besides to go to work, anyway. But enough about sexual ports and such. Since my last entry a lot has happened, but at the same time not much has changed. The Vikings season is now officially over and we have months to ponder what to do with our #3 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft and how to solve the laundry list of woes this team is facing. From stadium deals to franchise players, it's tough to put into words how disappointing and painful the season went. When I tried to think of a word for it, all I could really picture was this:

Here are my position grades for season's end, and since we are dealing with a bunch of dum-dum football players we will utilize the elementary school grading system:

E = Excellent
S = Satisfactory
N = Needs Improvement

Quarterback: N
The season started off the same way it ended for our offense, with an interception. In between, there was a whole bunch of what was mostly junk kept afloat by a handful of nice plays. Donovan McNabb's career as a Viking was short lived and disappointing as the passing attack was a complete non-threat with him at the helm. Once Christian Ponder stepped in, the offense started moving a bit. However, he was not only a threat to the other team but a threat to us as well, throwing many interceptions at the worst possible times. Ponder spent the last quarter of the season pretty dinged up and Joe Webb got to play in several games, leading us to victory against the Redskins and nearly doing the same against the Lions and the Bears. The quarterback position remains unstable enough for some fans and writers to start wondering if the Vikings should consider drafting Robert Griffin III with the 3rd overall pick. Personally, I don't think any of our current quarterbacks are good enough to get us to the top, but we also have bigger needs to address.

Running Backs: S+
Adrian Peterson was a stud all year until his knee was shredded in the Redskins game. Kevin Siefert has noted that over the past few years, AP has made the transition from being a back with game-breaking speed to a power runner with less huge gains. This is important because after that injury, his speed may be diminished. However, as any Vikings official or fan will tell you, Adrian Peterson is the one guy who can come back from this injury as good as he was before it. Toby Gerhart played well in his absence, but now he is faced with coming back from a torn MCL. It was not a good year for health on the Vikings roster, and very few areas of the team escaped the injury bug.

Receivers/Tight Ends: S
Percy Harvin did end up having a breakout year as I predicted with 87 catches, 967 yards and 6 touchdowns as well as over 300 rushing yards and two more touchdowns on the ground. If there were any other semblance of a threat in our receiving corps, I think he ends with closer to 100 catches and 1100-1200 yards. Several teams with smart game plans were able to key on Percy late in the year and slow him down since he was our only explosive offensive threat in games AP wasn't in. The rest of the receivers are garbage you can pick up off of anyone's practice squad at any time, other than Michael Jenkins. Shiancoe showed that he has lost a step and is not as good as he once was in the years prior to the last two, while Kyle Rudolph made a handful of highlight reel catches in limited action. I predict we will not be seeing Visanthe in a Vikings uniform next year, meaning it is time to see if Kyle Rudolph can become as good of a tight end as it seems he can be. We need to sign a blocking specialist, because Jimmy Kleinsasser played his last game in Purple this past Sunday and he was the best in the business. Kleinsasser will be missed. He was a Vikings icon in a weird way that only players like Chris Walsh and Mike Morris can understand.

Offensive Line: N
Umm... awful. Need I say more? 49 sacks given up this year. John Sullivan had a decent year and got a contract extension. Don't expect to see Hutch back in Purple or Anthony Herrera. Phil Loadholt will have his final shot next year in a contract year, and Charlie Johnson may remain, but you can be damn certain it won't be at left tackle. As fans, we should hope that somehow Matt Kalil falls to us in the draft. If he does not, the only way we're drafting OL in the first round is if a Ponderesque reach occurs or we trade down. Either way, expect to see at least 2 new starters on the line come September.

Defensive Backs: N
Why did I decide to do these two groups back to back? Evaluating the Vikings offensive line and defensive secondary is like being the judge at a beauty pageant in central Wisconsin. No matter how you look at it, it's gonna be ugly. We set the NFL record for the longest span between interceptions. TRANSLATION: There isn't a ball-hawk on our roster. There isn't a fucking chicken hawk on our roster for christ's sake. Of the week 17 starters, Mistral Raymond may be the only one back in Purple next year. We're pretty screwed in this area for next season as well, barring a high draft pick and a couple free agent pickups with breakout performances in 2012.

Apparently, this post is Looney Tunes themed.
 Linebackers: S
Chad Greenway tackled people that had the ball and were near him. He did it a lot. Other than that, he didn't do anything. I don't think much of that. Any linebacker in the NFL can tackle people. Take a look at the league leaders in tackles sometime. I'm willing to bet more than half of the top five are players not on playoff teams (Just checked, 4 out of 5 are on non-playoff teams). Erin Henderson played well enough to warrant a second season as a starter, while his brother lost a step and looked bad in pass coverage with no help from the secondary. Don't expect to see the Henderson brothers repeat in our LB corps in 2012. Other than that, this position group played just well enough to not be noticed. Way to strive for the middle, guys.

Defensive Line: S+
The Dongslinger got us again this year, guys. He teased us with a near Super Bowl appearance in 2009, he broke down on us and crapped himself in 2010, and in 2011 it was his lay down in front of Michael Strahan years ago that would ultimately cost us what would have been our only positive milestone of the season, the all-time sack record. Jared Allen had a monster year and deserves the defensive player of the year. If he doesn't get it, it will be entirely the fault of the sad excuse of a defense we had around him and no fault of his own. Without him, this group gets an S- or N grade. Remi Ayodele was our most useless free agent pickup in the past off season, Brian Robison pulled his best Bobby Fischer impression and disappeared after 6 weeks, and Kevin Williams battled a slow start to prove he was still starting-caliber. I think Everson Griffen and Christian Ballard will be seeing extended playing time on this line in 2012, and also would not be surprised to see the Vikings draft a big space-eating defensive tackle in the mid rounds of this year's draft.

Kicking: S
Longwell has definitely lost a little power in his kicks, but we need to bring him back as long as he's willing to play for us. No need to have to worry about finding a decent kicker with all of our other problems.

Punting: S+
Kluwe did just fine this year. He's also one of the main reasons this blog exists, because he made up the name and inspired me to follow through on my talk of creating one. He is the Godfather.

Returners: S
Marcus Sherels had a decent year AS A PUNT RETURNER. See how I emphasized that last part? It's because he looked like an idiot bringing out kickoffs from 8 yards deep far too many times this season. That goes for you too, Lorenzo Booker. This season started out better than any season I've ever seen when Percy took a kickoff 100+ yards for a touchdown and took out the other team's kicker for the season in a single play. From that point on, the season only got worse. However, I digress. If we can't find a guy other than Percy that can be an above average kick returner, then he should be doing the job. The reason why he couldn't do it this year was because he was relied on so heavily on offense. No matter what way you slice it, this means we need more dynamic weapons on our team.

Playoff Predictions

Wildcard Round

Cincinnatti @ Houston: Cincinnatti
Did I spell the name of that crappy city correctly? Anyways, the Red Rocket Andy Dalton gets one more game to play and the AFC North represents 75% of the AFC playoff bracket after round 1 on a count of Houston having to use their 3rd string quarterback and God not actually caring about football. (More on that in a second.)

Detroit @ New Orleans: New Orleans
They already played this year and New Orleans kicked the crap out of them. At this time last year, a lot of people were picking NO to go to the Super Bowl and they promptly wet themselves against a sub-.500 Seattle team and gave up the greatest touchdown run in playoff history in the process. Oh, and the term "Beast Mode" went viral thanks to them as well. However, this is in the Superdome, so Saints roll.

Atlanta @ New York: New York
I don't have a ton of reasoning on this one, I just think Tony Gonzalez will be doomed to the shameful title of greatest player to have never won a playoff game. New York also has the homefield advantage and some momentum after picking up the NFC East in a winner-take-all matchup last week against Dallas.

Pittsburgh @ Denver: Pittsburgh
I don't like Pittsburgh much at all, so I would love to see some real Angels in the Backfield action happen in this game. However, it isn't likely since God, if he existed, does not care about football. Even the corn in his holy poo would not give a single gram of fuck about football. Think about that the next time you hear or see people connecting a lucky fumble recovery or an untimely run out of bounds to divine intervention.

Divisional Round

New York @ Green Bay: Green Bay
Green Bay is a far too consistent team going against a far too inconsistent team, plus they are at home and defending champs. Packers roll in this one, though some could make an idiotic connection between this being the second game against them after coming very close to beating them in the regular season, and their second game against a certain heavily-favored team in the Super Bowl after nearly beating them in the regular season.

New Orleans @ San Francisco: San Francisco
New Orleans' offense runs best on turf. Anywhere outside of a dome, this team's offense runs like an Audi A8 filled up with diesel. San Francisco's defense will stymie the Saints' explosive offense and move on to the NFC Championship.

Cincinnatti @ New England: New England
I want to preface this by saying New England hasn't won a playoff game since about 2007, but an inexperienced Bengals team that backed into the playoffs is the perfect way to get off of that schneid. Gronk get touchdown, Patriots move on.

Pittsburgh @ Baltimore: Baltimore
This will be a huge matchup as it always is. Baltimore has beaten the Steelers twice this season already, and if Big Ben is healthy by this game it will be a battle to the final whistle as usual. As I predicted at the beginning of the season, this is the year Baltimore comes out on top.

Conference Championships

San Francisco @ Green Bay: Green Bay
Green Bay will blow this game out. I think this is the point where Alex Smith's fantasy season finally ends and implodes upon him. I expect Clay Mathews and Charles Woodson to force turnovers and the Packers to win handily.

Baltimore @ New England: Baltimore
This is Baltimore's year! I have predicted it since the beginning of the season, and I'm sticking with them. They won't make it all the way to the championship parade, but they'll get their Super Bowl appearance.

Super Bowl

Baltimore vs. Green Bay: Green Bay
Despite there being a handful of weaknesses that Green Bay has shown this year, they are still the best overall team in the league. They showed the ability to be consistent throughout the season outside of the KC game, and they will win this again. Boyee, I hope I'm wrong, but I'm stickin' by mah story on these predictions. Lord have mercy.

Anyway, it has been a great time running this site for the first year. I should have started one the second I heard Brett Favre was joining the Vikings, but hell, now I'll say I stuck with them through thick and thin. This truly was an awful year for the team, but this place was a great medium for me to vent and just do something somewhat creative. I give myself a B- on the year as a blogger. I should be more consistent with my postings, and I plan to improve that. I also will continue to post on here, whether it be Vikings related or otherwise. I might have a thing or two to say about the Timberwolves since Ricky Rubio finally got me back on the bandwagon. Thanks for reading as always folks. For the Vikings season, it's lights off.

This FanPost was created by a registered user of The Daily Norseman, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the staff of the site. However, since this is a community, that view is no less important.

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