Posted on: November 20, 2009 6:43 pm
Edited on: November 20, 2009 6:58 pm

Tastes Like Chicken

The Viking Ship - Seahawks... Tastes like chicken.

By: Christopher Torola

This weekends game between the Vikings and the Seahawks looks like another in a line of easy wins for the Vikings. Seattle's offensive line has had some well documented issues. although they are starting to get healthy. They are still in the bottom 3rd when it comes to protecting their quarterback, meanwhile the Vikings are number 1 in the NFL when it comes to sacks. The Seahawks will also be looking to 2nd year running back Justin Forsett, who had his best game as a pro last week when Julius Jones went down due to injury. 

Before I move on to the Vikings offense against the Seattle defense, I would like to point out T.J. Houshmandzadeh's propensity to make stupid statements. Most recently he told his head coach that, "They would not lose another game this year". During the offseason when looking for a home after deciding not to re-sign with the Bengals, Housh was mainly deciding between two suiters for his services. The Minnesota Vikings and the Seattle Seahawks. In the end he obviously chose Seattle. He said he made the choice because "...he wanted to win." Between the 3 teams, it looks like he made the worst possible choice; however, I am sure he is comforted by the roughly $8,000,000 he will me making for the next 5 years.

The Seahawks rank 5th in the NFL in run defense; although, this stat may be slightly misleading since they rank 26th against the pass. Both the Vikings passing and running games should shine in this matchup.  Starting cornerback for the Seahawks, Josh Wilson, is likely to miss this game with a concussion. I expect multiple passing touchdowns from Bret Favre, as well as a 100 yards game from Adrian Peterson.

Sidney Rice is coming off his best performance as a Viking, in which he had 7 catches for 201 yards. He was name the offensive player of the week and continues to emerge as a star this year. Make sure not to overlook him when you vote for your pro-bowlers this year.

Rookie of the year candidate Percy Harvin also continues to impress. He is averaging almost 50 yards a game offensively in addition to jump starting Viking drives on kick off returns. All that is very impressive, but possibly most impressive, the rookie has 23 first downs on the year as he has excelled at moving the chains.

Look for another week in which the Vikings high flying offense, number 2 overall,will put up plenty of points, propelling the team to win by 10 or 14 points.

Posted on: November 10, 2009 7:26 pm
Edited on: November 12, 2009 8:43 pm

Lions, and Packers, and Bears... Oh My!

The Viking Ship - Divisional Swagger

By: Christopher Torola

The Minnesota Vikings currently have the 2nd best record in the NFC as well as a 3 game lead on both the Packers and the Bears. This week the team squares off with last place divisional opponent, the Detroit Lions, who are a paltry 1-7.

When reading through the recent quotes from Vikings players, I heard both Visanthe Shiancoe and Bryant McKinnie use the term swagger. The more I think about it the funnier that seems, mostly because its true. This years Vikings squad has a certain swagger about them; and it was a 40-year old white boy with a silver beard that is responsible. 

This year Brett Favre has dominated opposing teams in the NFC North. In the 3 games against Detriot and the Pack, Favre had thrown 9 touchdown passes and 0 interceptions. That bodes well for this week at the dome against the Lions as well as in weeks 12 and 16 when he plays the Bears. With Favre mania in town teams may have to stop game planning so heavily against Adrian Peterson. I look to see a big increase in his numbers, starting this week. I wouldn't be surprised to see him as the NFL's leading rusher after facing the Bears in week 12.

Since there is not too much to say coming off a bye week and about to play the lowly Lions, lets look forward another Vikings victory and another step in the direction of a first round bye in the play offs.

Posted on: November 2, 2009 5:39 pm
Edited on: November 2, 2009 10:07 pm

Flying High Into the Bye

The Viking Ship - Smooth Sailing

By: Christopher Torola

The Viking's season is officially half way done. After a solid victory over the Packers in Green Bay this weekend the Vikes are now 7-1 and heading into an easy part of their schedule in which they will play home games against the Lions, the Seahawks, and the Bears. If they win those games, which they should, they will have the NFC North all but locked up, and have a clear view at a first round bye come play-off time.

With the bye-week coming up, it seems like a good time for a mid season report card.

Quarterback: Brett Favre - Has exceeded all expectations this year. He has thrown for a league leading 16 touchdowns, while only throwing 3 interceptions, two of which bounced of Vikings receivers hands. There are only 4 QB's with higher quarterback ratings than Favre - Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, and Aaron Rodgers. Grade: A+

Running Backs: Adrian Peterson - Is second in both rushing yards and rushing touchdowns, and that is with the much improved Vikings passing game taking away a lot of red zone touches. The numbers are good, but they don't do justice to watching All Day just run through defenders. The only possible complaint with Adrian is that he has been held in check against a few opponents. Look for an even stronger second half from Peterson. Grade: A

Wide Receivers: Bernard Berrian, Sidney Rice, and Percy Harvin - Bernard Berrian has been slowed down all year with multiple injuries, and has never really been in sync with Favre. Look for Berrian to play better as he gets healthy and spends more time working with his QB. Sidney Rice has stepped up in a HUGE way, coming in at number 6 overall in receiving yards to date. Rice seems to have his QB's trust and is emerging as a young start in the NFL. Percy Harvin has stepped into the role of an NFL receiver far better then could have been expected. 21 of his 28 receptions have been for first downs, and 3 have resulted in touchdowns. For a smallish receiver, Harvin has proved hard to get down. As a kick returner he is 2nd in the NFL for average yards with 30.7, and has scored twice. Grade: B+

Tight Ends: Visanthe Shiancoe - Shiancoe has score 6 touch downs this year, that is second best in the NFL behind only Vernon Davis. Shiancoe has been an extremely reliable pass catcher the last year and a half and does not look to be slowing down. Grade: B+

Overall Offensive: This years Vikings team is currently 1st overall in scoring, but have played 2 more games then the Saints. The Vikings are an amazing offensive threat this year, despite starting slow in several games at the beginning of the season. Grade: A

The Defensive Line: Ray Edwards, Kevin Williams, Pat Williams, and Jared Allen - Minnesota's D-line has done everything the team has asked of them. They are holding teams to under 100 rushing yards per game, and haven't allowed a 100 yard rusher since 2007 (the longest current streak in the NFL). So they are stopping the run. They also have a league leading 31 sacks, including 10.5 by NFL sack leader Jared Allen. The next closest team is at 23, so they are getting to the QB as well. Grade: A

Line Backers: Chad Greenway, E.J. Henderson, and Ben Leber - EJ and Greenway are the teams top tacklers. Leber has helped out in rushing the QB with 2.5 sacks on the year. The Vikings linebackers play well, but in the zone that they play they end up allowing too many catches, instead of breaking them up. Greenway is the standout so far this year, who has 2 interceptions, 2 fumbles recovered, and should develop into a pro bowl player. Grade: B

Secondary: Antoine Winfield, Cedric Griffin, Madieu Williams, and Tyrell Johnson - This is the weakness of the Minnesota Vikings, especially later in the game. Good teams have been able to pass on the Vikings. So far they have been able to get stops when they need them, or the offense has bailed them out. The problem with the Vikings secondary is not wholly their fault. When the team builds a league, the coaching staff puts the secondary into a "Soft Zone" to "prevent" the big play, instead allowing teams to march right down the field with intermediate passes. If you'll notice that all of the Vikings starting secondary is near the top of the team when it comes to tackles. To me this means that they are being forced to play off the receivers to stop the long touch downs instead of challenging them to stop the reception. Grade: C.

Overall Defense: It is hard to rank them too low, as they have done enough to win on a consistent basis, and a lot of the short comings are a result of the style of defense the team is asked to play. Grade: B-

Coaching Staff: I think that Brad Childress has done an amazing job as a personal guy since taking over as head coach. His one mistake was Tavaris Jackson, but since then he has brought Adrian Peterson, Jared Allen, Percy Harvin, Madieu Williams, and Brett Favre to the team. He has also passed on guys like Jay Cutler and Matt Castle. His biggest mistake lately appears to be letting Darren Sharper go, although he wasn't able to prosper in the Vikings style of defense under Leslie Frazor. All that being said, I do not like the Vikings red zone play calling at all. Too often the will get into the red zone and give Adrian Peterson a break for a couple plays. This is when the team seems to end up settling for far too many field goals. The Vikings are tied for 4th in the NFL for 3-pointers. It is hard to be too hard on Chilly when the team is winning, but until they learn to put together a game plan that allows then to close out a game, the best grade I am willing to give is... B-.


Here is to another amazing half of football and a deep run into the play offs... S'kol Vikings, Let's S'Kol!


Posted on: October 23, 2009 11:44 pm

Can the Vikings Steel a Win?

The Viking Ship - Week 7: Steeling a Win

By: Christopher Torola

This weekend the Vikings will travel to Pittsburgh's Hines Field to take on the Steelers, were coach Mike Tomlin will face his old boss Brad Childress. This should be a high scoring affair. Both teams have been the victims of fourth quarter collapses, although the Vikings have been able to hold off all their challengers all year. The biggest challenge this week will be for the Vikings to get their ground game going., which they have been able to do against AFC teams this year. This week will be harder then the Browns and the Ravens though... the Steelers are tied with the Vikings for the best run defense, allowing only 3.3 yards per carry on the season.

Some Things to watch this week.

- Will Adrian Peterson stay on track against an elite run defense, which should include Troy "Hair" Polamalu returning from a knee injury?

- Will Heath Miller continue the trend of opposing tight ends scoring big yards and touchdowns against the Vikings secondary, or will he need to stay in and help block Jared Allen and the Viking's sack-happy defensive line?

- Will Brett Favre continue to keep his cool, and the ball, or will he return to forcing balls into tight spots against a tough Steelers defense?

- Will Big Ben Roethlesberger be able to "keep the play alive" long enough to complete his signature pass' or will he fall victim to the Vikings continued success in the turn-over battle?

- Will Antonie Winfield be able to take the field, or could the Steelers be able to take advantage of a match up against a back up cornerback.


In a game that will likely come down to the wire, with plenty of scores... we should see another Viking win as they continue to fight for the top spot in the NFC.


Posted on: October 14, 2009 5:09 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2009 9:13 pm

Can The Ravens Challenge The Undefeated Vikings?

The Viking Ship - Week 6: Bird Hunting

By: Christopher Torola


A lot of the chatter about the Vikings has been that they are only 5-0 because they have played an easy schedule. True, they have played weak teams, beating the teams they were suppose to beat. The Vikings outscored the Rams, Lions, and Browns by at least 2 touchdowns each. They also beat the Packers quite handily. The game was not as close as the final score indicated, as the Cheese closed the gap by scoring garbage points against an ill-advised Vikings "prevent" defense. The Purple were also able to make a last second come-back against a 49ers team that until last week looked as though they could be a contender. Weak schedule or not, the Vikings have yet to fail to meet a challenge.

Some things you may not realize about the MIGHTY Vikings is just how good they have been playing. They are #1 in scoring in the NFL, even averaging higher than the Giants, who seem to be placed atop most of the power rankings. The Vikes are plus 8 in take-aways against give-aways, also the best in the NFL. The team's defense has totaled more sacks then any other team, and are tied for 6th in interceptions. 

The Ravens have lost the last two games they have played, and have yet to beat a team with a winning record. The 3 teams they have defeated are a combined 3-11. The Raven's offense, behind 2nd year quarterback Joe Flacco, is 4th overall in scoring. The defense is 10th in yards per game allowed, but 16th in scores allowed. This would leave me to believe that they have a hard time holding teams to field goals once they reach the red zone.

This weekend's game will feature two of the better offenses in all of the game, however, both teams rely heavily on establishing the running game... and both teams are known to have run stopping defenses. Last week, Bengals' running back Cedric Benson ran for over 100 yards against the Ravens. He is the first to do so since the 2006 season. The Vikings have not allowed a 100 yard rusher since the 2007 season.

One of the biggest differences in this week's game will likely be the play of the quarterbacks. Veteran quarterback Brett Favre has always been known as a gunslinger, willing to take risks with the football to make plays happen. So far this year he has only thrown 2 picks, and only one of those was his fault. He has been much more patient and willing to take a sack instead of trying to force a ball into a tight situation. It probably doesn't hurt being able to hand the ball to Adrian Peterson. Joe Flacco on the other hand has tossed 2 interceptions in the last week alone. He has totaled 5 on the year, and as previously stated, the Vikings have been taking advantage of the turn over battle this year.

I expect a hard hitting game which could lead to high emotions, especially after the Ravens last 2 losses. This could just as easily be a grind it out game as a shoot out. If the Vikings come into this game prepared to battle, I expect them to win it, but they probably can't afford the slow start they've had in the first few games of the season.


Posted on: October 8, 2009 4:14 pm
Edited on: October 8, 2009 4:15 pm

Do the Vikings need to fear the Rams?

The Viking Ship - Week 5: Ramming Speed

By: Christopher Torola

The only real concern is that the Vikings may be in line for a let down after an extremely emotional Monday Night Showdown. The Rams may be the worst team in the NFL this year. They are averaging less then a touchdown a week, while giving up 27 points. The only real star on the Rams is running back Steven Jackson.

On the Vikings side of the ball, it appears that the Brett Favre and the Vikings receiving staff have proved that if you game plan specifically to stop Adrian Peterson. the passing game will beat you. I do see teams starting to play the pass a bit more, starting to free up Adrian, at least to some degree. Peterson should get back on track and rush for well over a 100 yards this week.

This is another easy game for the Vikings, before a tough 3 games. The biggest problem the Viking should face this week would be if the are looking forward on the calendar. My prediction, the MIGHTY Vikings pillage the Rams and return for St. Louis 5-0.

Posted on: September 28, 2009 1:41 pm
Edited on: September 28, 2009 6:33 pm


The Viking Ship - Week 4: Hey Packers, Remember this guy?

By: Christopher Torola

If you're a Viking, Packer, or just plain good football fan this game has been circled on your calender since #4 put on that purple jersey. Before we look at the match up, it is probably a good idea to remind those in Green Bay why they miss Favre. Two weeks ago the Packers were marching down the field in the last seconds of a game against the Bengals. They had no time outs but Aaron Rodgers was leading the way, moving the team down field for that final shot at the end zone. They came up short. Now jump forward to yesterday, week 3, the Vikings against the 49ers. In a game that San Francisco had been able to hold Adrian Peterson in check, or at least as much is possible with Adrian Peterson. The Vikings have 89 seconds, no time outs, and 80 yards to score. Brett Favre and team masterfully work their way up the field, taking what the defense is giving them. With 12 seconds left on the clock Favre scampered to the right and threaded the needle to the Greg Lewis, who made a leaping grab in the back of the end zone, dragging his back leg for the score and the win. Lewis is 5th on the Vikings' wide receiver depth chart and was only in the game because of an injury to the punt returner Darius Reynaud.

By now we have all seen the "We'll never forget you Brent" T-shirts. Yes I know that says Brent, thats the joke. Its funny to me when I hear those who referred to Favre as "the best quarterback ever" talk about how washed up he is. Admittedly, it's also fun to hear all those Vikings fans starting to fall in love with him after a lifetime of distain. At least I can stand by what I always said when he wore the Green and Mustard, "I can't stand him, but I would love him if he played for my team."

This Monday night we get to see for the first time, Favre taking on his old team. This will be an interesting game with plenty to watch. 

- Brett Favre against the Packer's poor pass defense. There is currently only 5 teams in the NFL that have allowed more passing touchdowns than the Packers. You have to imagine that they will be salivating to get picks on their old QB. If this causes the corners and safeties to try jump some routes, it could lead to big plays, and Favre proved last week that he can still throw the long ball.

- The Metrodome vs Green Bay QBs. Favre had some of his worst games at the Metrodome early in his career. Aaron Rodgers' first game at the dome didn't go so well either. He was 15-26 and only 142 yards and no touchdowns. The game was still close thanks to 3 Green Bay picks, one for a score, and a Packer's punt return for a score. That being said, Aaron Rodgers is starting to blossom into one of the elite QBs in the NFL. Look for a possible big game out of Rodgers in what could possibly turn into a high scoring affair.

- Adrian Peterson vs the Pack. His first game against the Packers he was hurt and ended up missing time. His last game he went for 225 total yards including the game winning touchdown. Peterson has been somewhat kept in check the last two games. This year the Packers have given up only one score on the ground, but are near the bottom third in the league when it comes to rushing yards allowed. Look for another big game from Peterson, as the Packers may focus too heavily on Favre.

- The continued maturation of Percy Harvin. After his 101 yard kick off return for a score, Harvin is the first Viking to score a touchdown in his first 3 NFL games. Yes, that is something that Randy Moss did not do in his record setting rookie year for the Vikings. Brett Favre was quoted as saying, "It's pretty electric when he gets it. You just need to find a way to get the ball in his hands." When your quarterback feels that you need to get the ball in your hands... it's a good thing.

- Ryan Grant vs the Williams Wall. If I am not mistaken, Ryan Grant was the last player to run for 100 yards on the Vikings, Nov. 11th, 2007. Grant has only 3.7 yards a carry so far this year and may not pose much of a threat, but when looking at rivalry games like this you never know what to expect, and the Vikings run defense has shown some signs of weakness lately. 

- Vikings O-line vs the Packer pass rush. It should not be overlooked that the Vikings have guys on the line that are first year starters... and it is showing. Favre has ben sacked 9 times this year, and has been hit seemingly every third pass play. Green Bay has only 5 sacks this year, but may have their ears pinned back for a chance to get their hands on the Silver Fox (Jarred Allen's nickname for Favre).

This has the makings of a great game, and should be hyped up all week... at least once the sports shows are done hyping up the game winning drive. I expect this to be a close game, but the home team should prevail. Look for Adrian Peterson to attempt to exert his will on the big Monday Night stage. 

Posted on: September 23, 2009 9:31 pm
Edited on: September 25, 2009 12:49 am

Running Back Showdown... Sort of.

The Viking Ship - Week 3: Time for a Challenge?

By: Christopher Torola

Sure we have only seen 2 games, and Adrian Peterson looked human against the Lions, sorta... but the Vikings won the game and he is still on pace for what I am determined to call his historic 2,000 yard season. That being said, the 49ers have given up the 3rd fewest yards this season. Of course, neither of the Seahawks or the Cardinals have a back the caliber of Adrian Peterson... see Julius Jones and Tim Hightower.

Some things to watch this week.

- Frank Gore against the Vikings run defense. The Vikings have been a top defense when it comes to stopping the run for the past few years. Last week the Lions ran for a combined 129 yards, although a single rusher has not ran for over 100 yards since 2007. Last week Frank Gore ran for a ridiculous 207 yards. If the Vikings can hold down Frank Gore they should dominate this game, and they will most likely concentrate on stopping the run, making Shaun Hill, Vernon Davis, and Isaac Bruce step up to win the game.

- The Vikings Red-Zone offense vs. the Vikings coaching staff. I guess I shouldn't argue with the recent success, but when it is 1st and goal on the 5, just hand the ball off to Adrian Peterson until the refs signal touchdown. I am not a fan of watching the Vikings best player come out for a breather at the stripe while Chester Taylor attempts to finesse his way in or Favre tries to complete a bunch of 3 yard passes.

- Adrian Peterson vs. Patrick Willis. Willis is the reason that the 49ers are averaging about 50 yards a game given up on the ground, and he will be focusing his attention on Peterson this weekend. If I were a betting man, my money would be on Peterson. The Vikings are at home and will establish the run.

- The turnover battle. The 49ers have 3 interceptions and 3 force fumbles in just 2 games. Favre has yet to throw a pick as a Viking, but old habits die hard. All Day's biggest problem in his young career has been a case of fumbleitis. If the Vikings aren't careful, they could give San Francisco a few short fields to work with.

All things considered, I see the Vikings remaining undefeated, but I will admit that I am bias and will most likely not be predicting a Viking loss until they already have one under the belt on the season.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com