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Stock Market Report: Lions

A chance to take sole possession of first place in the NFC North was thrown away.

T.J. Clemmings showing perfect technique for the 'LOOK OUT' blocking scheme the Vikings offensive line uses regularly.
T.J. Clemmings showing perfect technique for the 'LOOK OUT' blocking scheme the Vikings offensive line uses regularly.
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

When Mike Zimmer was hired by the Vikings at the end of the 2013 season, his stated goal was to beat Green Bay and win the division. If you could do the former, the latter would be a lot easier, as the NFC North had become Green Bay's personal playground for the better part of the 21st century.

Last year, on the final game of the regular season, the Vikings did both. They beat the Packers, at Lambeau Field, and won the division for the first time since 2009. In week two, the Vikings beat the Packers again, 17-14, and took clear control of the division.

Only they forgot about the Detroit Lions, who swept the season series with the Vikings yesterday, took control of the NFC North, and now the Vikings are fighting for a wildcard spot, if they're lucky. The Vikings have caught the Packers, but have been passed by the Lions. Isn't that ironic, don't you think? Ms. Morrisette, your thoughts?

Mr. Play It Safe was afraid to fly
He packed his suitcase and kissed his kids goodbye
He waited his whole damn life to take that flight
And as the plane crashed down he thought
"Well isn't this nice..."
And isn't it ironic... don't you think

It's like rain on your wedding day
It's a free ride when you've already paid
It's the good advice that you just didn't take
Who would've thought... it figures

Well life has a funny way of sneaking up on you
When you think everything's okay and everything's going right
And life has a funny way of helping you out when
You think everything's gone wrong and everything blows up
In your face

A traffic jam when you're already late
A no-smoking sign on your cigarette break
It's like ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife
It's meeting the man of my dreams
And then meeting his beautiful wife
And isn't it ironic...don't you think
A little too ironic...and, yeah, I really do think...

It's like rain on your wedding day
It's a free ride when you've already paid
It's the good advice that you just didn't take
Who would've thought... it figures

The 'I can't believe the Vikings got swept by the Lions for the second time in three years and I was only kind of paying attention because it was Thanksgiving so don't rip me too bad on the rankings' SMR follows.

Blue Chip Stocks:

Jeff Locke, P: Locke's redemption tour continues, as his four kicks Sunday averaged a net of 48 yards, with three kicks inside the 20. Barring a complete collapse, I think Locke has the inside track to be selected to the Pro Bowl, and it will be well deserved.

Solid Investments:

Cordarrelle Patterson, WR: Patterson had the longest run from scrimmage for the day, and has another five catches. With the routes and throws they're using for Patterson, they're turning him into a defacto running back. They essentially get him the ball a few yards beyond the line of scrimmage, and see if he can make someone miss for a big play.

Adam Thielen, WR: Thielen has really stepped up this year into a legitimate NFL wide receiver. His route running is precise, his hands are sure, and he gets tough yards. I love this kid's game and attitude towards it.

Kyle Rudolph, TE: Rudolph has finally blossomed, and has become Sam Bradford's primary target. He hauled in nine passes yesterday, and was often Bradford's first or second look.

Anthony Barr, LB: Barr seemed to break out of his season long slump with a big sack of Matthew Stafford, and had a couple tackles for loss. It was encouraging to see, and hopefully he'll finish out the season strong.

Junk Bonds:

The running game and the offensive line, because they're inseparable at this point: I'm done with this offensive line and the inability of this team to run the ball. Yes, the line has been savaged with injury, I get it, and I get that with all the injuries the line is going to be limited, but still, if you can't pass protect you should at least be able to run block. Yet, the Vikings can't even do that, either.  The Vikings are averaging 2.8 yards a carry, and if that holds out it will set a franchise record for futility. The previous low was 1978, when they averaged 3.0 YPC, and 1970, when the Vikings only averaged 3.2 YPC. The running games is so bad that they've essentially abandoned it, and have adapted a short throwing strategy to try and get the Vikings in manageable down and distance situations. 11 games in to the season, and Minnesota is completely unable to run the ball conventionally. And with backups to the backups playing on the offensive line, they're not going to be able to run the ball conventionally, for the rest of the season.

The defense at the end of the game, again. The Vikings defense played a really good game...until the end. Again. With Detroit pinned at their own two yard line, and with only five minutes remaining, the Vikings held a 13-10 lead, and had a golden opportunity to close the game out. The Vikings offense had been moving the ball enough to think that a three and out there would allow them to get the ball back, get a first down or two, run the clock down, kick a field goal, and get out of there with a win. Yet once again, with the season arguably on the line, the Vikings defense folded like a lawn chair and allowed the Lions to march for a game tying field goal. Again.


Buy: Sam Bradford has to be perfect for the Vikings to win. The Vikings offense has no margin for error. None. Without a running threat, Bradford has to complete the short four and five yard passes on first and second down, because those plays have become your defacto running game. A holding penalty that makes it first and 20 or second and 20? Forget it. Just declare victory and punt. Because if you think an offense with no running game and an offensive line that has more combinations than a Master Lock factory can make up 20 yards in two plays, you are beyond help and you should probably start watching bowling or something. Is bowling still on TV? I used to love watching it on ABC's Wide World of Sports with Chris Schenkel. Maybe I'll dial up an Earl Anthony classic on YouTube next Thursday night.

Sell: Sam Bradford has time to stretch the field. I was as frustrated as you guys were watching Bradford dump passes short of the first down But on some of the plays I went back and watched, he didn't have time to do anything other than dump it off, and hope one of the receivers made a play. Look, Willie Beavers is playing now. The same Willie Beavers that was cut and re-signed to the practice squad. Any semblance of a competitive offensive line went down the drain when Jake Long was hurt, and unlike General MacArthur, it isn't returning this year. It makes five and seven step drop pass routes impossible, so yeah, it is what it is.

Buy: Adrian Peterson playing again this season. When AP went down in week two, I really didn't think we'd see him play again this year, and part of me wondered if we had seen the last of him in a Vikings uniform. When word came that he might be back for the December stretch run, I was encouraged. And I still am, because let's face it, he's AP, and he could be a shot in the arm for the offense.

Sell: Adrian Peterson making a difference when he plays again this season. Then I look at the offensive line that finished the game--Clemmings/Boone/Easton/Fusco/Beavers...and I don't think The Flash could average more than three yards a carry in front of that group.

Buy: This team could sneak into a wildcard slot. The Vikings are sitting at 6-5 and host Dallas in one week and lol yeah they're not winning that game. But the final four games are all winnable games--at Jacksonville, Indianapolis, at Green Bay, Chicago. It's not inconceivable that the Vikings finish 10-6 and sneak in the back door of the post season. And when you look at Detroit's final five games--at New Orleans, Chicago, at NY Giants, at Dallas, Green Bay--you could even paint a wild scenario where the Vikings could still win the division. I'm not saying it's going to happen; it's not even probable. But it is out there...and at some point the Lions could remember they're the Lions. Stranger things have happened.

Sell: This team will make a deep playoff run. Even if everything lines up and this team finds themselves holding a Wonka Golden Ticket to the post season, they don't have a balanced offense, they can't run the ball, the offensive line is more broken than a father raising three teenage daughters, and a good defense is overcome with mediocrity at the most inopportune times. Even getting to the playoffs will be a feat at this point, much less winning a playoff game.

Don Glover Quote Of The Week:

When the Vikings scored their only touchdown yesterday, I stood up, high fived my Dad, and checked my phone for the Vikings Twitter reaction. When I stood up, I was blocking the view of the TV from my Dad.

Dad: Son, you make a better door than window. Move so I can see the extra point. The kicker could very well miss it.

Me: Dad, we have a new kicker, remember? Blair Walsh got cut.

Dad: I said move.

So Minnesota falls to 6-5, and with 10-1 Dallas coming to town next Thursday they're staring 6-6 right in the face. No one is giving them a chance, and everyone expects the Vikes to get run out of the stadium. Which means this game will probably be one of those games where the good guys play inspired football and win the damn thing, because that's how this season is playing out, and then everyone will be back talking Super Bowl.

Or Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott will run wild, the Cowboys defense will shutdown the Vikings offense, and Minnesota will get smoked 27-3.

And we'll all become a bunch of cutters to lessen the pain.Your call. See you next week.