The Vikings go into
the Chicago House of Horrors Soldier Field on Sunday looking to get even at 1-1 on the season, and in the division. This game is critical for the Vikings moving forward, and it will set the tone for the rest of the season.
Win the game, and the Vikings have a shot. Lose, and it's going to be a tough climb to get out of an 0-2 hole, especially 0-2 in the division. Here's what I'll be looking for Sunday:
Play with your hair on fire: I'd really like the Vikings to show a sense of urgency. After Adrian Peterson's first touchdown run, the Vikings just seemed to go through the motions. I saw little emotion from either the offense or the defense, and the body language just seemed to scream indifference. When the Vikings are on, they're an exuberent, boisterous bunch, and the more they feed off that emotion, the better they seem to play. They'll need all of that emotion on Sunday,
How about the offensive line, oh I don't know...block someone? Look, Christian Ponder wasn't great last Sunday, but did you guys watch the horror show that was the Patriots-Jets last night? There weren't a ton of completed passes last night due to some pretty terrible receivers on both sides, but did you see how much time Tom Brady and Geno Smith had to throw the ball? It looked like seven on seven drills.I'd love to see that for Christian Ponder on Sunday. And I'd also love for the offensive line to open up some holes for Adrian Peterson. An offense runs a lot better when it's second and five as opposed to second and 13, especially the Vikings offense.
Someone on defense, make a play. Seriously, just one: I was in the camp that thought Reggie Bush signing with Detroit wasn't that big of a move. I always thought that he was the running back version of Devin Hester--lethal as a returner, could make an occasional play as a running back, but overall not a guy that was going to transform an offense. So of course, that's exactly what he did against the Vikes on Sunday. Matt Forte is a better running back than Reggie Bush, and if the front seven doesn't get it figured out, Forte will destroy the Vikings.
Don't be a turnover machine, Mr. Ponder: Look, I've been frustrated with Ponder, but I like him. I think he has the capability to be a good quarterback in the NFL. But he cannot cough the ball up like he did last week. The first of his three interceptions last week was more on Jerome Simpson, but the other two were bad, bad throws. And the one right before halftime that Detroit converted into a score completely changed the game. The Vikings were on the edge of field goal range, and at a minimum would've probably gone in at halftime up 17-6. Instead, it was 14-13 and the entire outlook of the game had changed. The Bears have Charles Tillman, who creates more turnovers than a bakery, and if Ponder and the Vikings are on the short end of the turnover battles, they're going to lose, and probably lose badly.
Let's take the Cordarrelle Patterson car out of the garage: I understand that Jerome Simpson and Greg Jennings are your starting wide receivers, and that Jarius Wright is the primary slot guy. But I also understand that Patterson looks like a supremely talented kid, and he might be a difference maker with the ball in his hands. Good coaching staffs get the best players on the field and give them an opportunity to make a play, and I don't think the Vikings did that last week. Ponder needs some early confidence, so a couple of short slants and/or screen to Patterson could loosen up the Bears defense, Patterson has the kind of speed where a missed tackle could turn into a big play, so it's worth a shot, isn't it?
Just win the game. I don't care how, just win: I hate to say 'desperate' when describing how much I want the Vikings to win on Sunday, especially after only one game, but we've given you the statistics of teams that start 0-2 and their chances of making the playoffs, and we've given you the statistics of the Vikings record at Soldier Field in the 21st century. The Vikings need to treat this game as a do or die situation, because it's not going to get any easier from here. Play like your season depends on the outcome of this game...because there's a good chance that it does. So do whatever it takes--run AP 50 times, throw the ball 65, take three knees, punt, and hope the defense scores four TD's, I don't care.
Win. The. Game. SKOL!