The Vikings at the halfway point
When I predicted the Vikings would go 9-7, I thought they would be 4-4 at the halfway point. The Vikes have lost three games I thought they'd win (at Detroit, at Kansas City, Green Bay--yes, I thought they would start 4-0), and won two games I thought they'd lose (at Chicago, San Diego).
Now that the Vikings are 3-5, however, that doesn't mean I'm simply lowering my prediction to 8-8. My 9-7 prediction was also based on the hope the Vikings would muster an average pro passing attack. They haven't. I also don't know if they will. The Vikes need to finish 6-2 to reach 9 wins and have a shot at the playoffs, and with this passing game, I can't reasonably expect that. Even a 5-3 finish (against a pretty mild schedule) will be difficult.
However, nobody knew how good Adrian Peterson would be either, and nobody could have predicted just how dependent the Viking offense would be on him. In Viking wins, Peterson is averaging 233.7 yards from scrimmage; in Viking losses, he's averaging 106.2 yards from scrimmage. Peterson's dominance also leaves the possibility of opening up and improving the passing game. As Patrick Reusse points out, "the Vikings now have an offensive approach that can work: All Day, All Day, All Day, Chester, play action to All Day and over the top to Rice or Troy Williamson." As defenses focus on stopping Adrian Peterson, the Vikings can get opportunities with play action passes and deep throws to players like Sidney Rice. If they're going to turn the season around, they'll have to.
If I were a gambler, I wouldn't place a bet on a Viking game for the rest of the season. The combination of dominant run defense and horrible pass offense on the same team makes things unpredictable enough. But you really can't predict when Peterson will have another monster game. Such performances could come at any time, and if they come on any particular Sunday, the Vikings have a chance to beat any opponent remaining on their schedule. A team that has put up one offensive touchdowns in six of its games scored 34 and 38 points when Peterson rushed for over 200 yards.
Though it's not probable, the Vikings really could go 6-2 the rest of the way. If Brooks Bollinger plays, and plays as an adequate game manager that can hit the occasional deep pass, it could happen.
On the couch, week nine
When I go to Viking games, it's pretty emotionally draining, and I don't focus too much on the other games I watch. It's a little more difficult to churn out posts about the other games.
And considering two of the biggest stories of this NFL season are stories I don't care to even pay attention to (Green Bay's incredible performances, featuring MVP-looking Brett Favre, and New England's incredible dominance, featuring MVP-looking Tom Brady aided by MVP-looking Randy Moss), it's probably reasonable that I skip this feature occasionally.
The fantasy dream is dead.
Last night I was very happy to trade Donovan McNabb and Laurence Maroney for Matt Hasselbeck and Frank Gore. In the off-season, I perceived McNabb as the most exciting fantasy QB around, but it was not to be, so I trade him for the blandest fantasy football starter there is (you know with Hasselbeck you're getting approximately 3,500 yards and between 24-26 TDs. You just know it, and you let it happen, and it's hard to get excited about, but it's consistent production). I'm also happy to trade Maroney (a RB prone to dancing behind the line of scrimmage for a great team) for Gore (a hard-running RB stuck on a really bad team). I'm now more excited about my team than I've been for several weeks.
The Vikings signed Koy Detmer (SI). This deserves mention, but I'm ashamed for all of you who think this deserves comment.
Sidney Rice is pretty good (Star Tribune). Both of Rice's touchdown catches have been right below my seats (well, not right below--quite far below, actually). If there's any hope for a deep passing attack this season, it rests with Rice.
The Vikings are still risking blackouts, with a very real threat for the Oakland game (Viking Update). Fans around the country are perhaps wondering why people aren't clamoring for the chance to watch Adrian Peterson. I'm sort of wondering it myself.
Why is Craig Smith playing less than 16 minutes in a game (NBA.com Box Score)? Of course in his 15:17 he gets 13 points (on 75% shooting) and 6 rebounds. DOUBLE HIS MINUTES.
Matt Ufford writes about Adrian Peterson (Free Darko).
The Nosebleeds continues to heap praise on Peterson (The Nosebleeds NFL Blog).