Minnesota Vikings: What You Need to Know Heading into Week 12

Tim Arcand@@TArcandCorrespondent INovember 18, 2013

Nov 17, 2013; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks cornerback Walter Thurmond (28) runs the ball in for a touchdown after intercepting a pass by Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder (7) (not pictured) during the second half at CenturyLink Field. Seattle defeated Minnesota 41-20. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings continue to find ways to lose. Early in the season it was the defense not being able to come up with a stop, allowing teams to score the winning touchdown in the last minute of the game. 

On Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks, the defense actually played well against the best team in the NFC. This time the offense decided to throw this one away—literally. Four turnovers by quarterbacks Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel resulted in 20 points for Seattle. That was the difference in their 41-20 loss. 

Another game and another ugly loss—this is really getting old. At least the Vikings are in good company. 

Even though the Vikings were facing the Seahawks and were supposed to lose, it should not have been this bad. 

Seattle Seahawks Offense
Total YardsRush YardsTOP3rd Down %
Season Avg.362.0153.430:3940%
vs. Vikings323.093.025:5136%

Of course, these statistics don't always tell the entire story.

There are people who feel that a Vikings win is a bad thing at this point in the season. Last week, Michael Rand of the Star Tribune broke down the NFL race to be the worst and thus secure the top pick in the draft.

The Worst Teams in the NFL
TeamWinsLossesWin % of Opp.
Tampa Bay280.600
Pro Football Reference

Right now, Jacksonville has the inside track to secure the top pick with only one win. Working against the Jaguars, however, is that they face the easiest remaining schedule of any team in the running.  


Division Standings

Week 11 was a tough week for the NFC North. Chicago was the only team to win, pulling out a 23-20 victory in overtime over the Ravens to climb back into a tie with the Lions. The game took more than five hours to complete after being suspended in the first quarter due to severe weather in Chicago. 

Nov 17, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte (22) celebrates scoring a touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens during the second half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports
Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

After winning four straight games to lead the division at 5-2, the Packers have lost three straight games. The losing streak just happens to correlate with the loss of Aaron Rodgers to a broken collarbone. The Packers also lost their backup, Seneca Wallace, to injury and are now down to their third-string quarterback.

Now they know what it's like to be the Minnesota Vikings, with an incapable quarterback leading their team. The difference is that Green Bay has some hope with the fact that Rodgers will make a return this season, and the Vikings need to wait until next season.    

NFC North Standings
TeamWinsLossesWeek 12 Opponent
Chicago Bears64at St. Louis
Detroit Lions64vs. Tampa Bay
Green Bay Packers55vs. Minnesota
Minnesota Vikings28at Green Bay
Pro Football Reference


Injury Report

The Vikings returned starters Chris Cook and Jamarca Sanford on defense and Phil Loadholt on offense against the Seahawks.

They lost wide receiver Greg Jennings before the game even started, and then cornerback Josh Robinson to a fractured sternum and center John Sullivan to a concussion during the game.

The Vikings have been hit by the injury bug repeatedly this season, but it does not provide any excuses for the poor season the team is having. The backups have been just as good as the players they replace, except in the case of safety Harrison Smith.

Here's a look at the Vikings' injury report. 

Minnesota Vikings Injury Report for 2013
Greg ChildsWRkneesPUP Listmissed the entire season
Harrison SmithSfootIRstarted five games
Desmond BishopLBkneeIRplayed in five games
Zach LineFBkneeIRplayed three games
Kyle RudolphTEfootoutmissed last two games
Matt AsiataRBshoulderoutactive for six games
Letroy GuionNTkneeoutmissed last two games
Greg JenningsWRAchillesoutmissed Seattle game
Josh RobinsonCBsternumoutinjured in Seattle game
John SullivanCconcussionTBDinjured in Seattle game
Pro Football Reference


What Must Improve: Turnovers

As noted above, the Vikings defense has been directly responsible for half of the team's losses. In three of these games they have surrendered the winning points on their opponents' last drive of the game.

In the other losses, the offense turned over ball a total of 13 times—a deficit of minus-10. For the season, the Vikings are a minus-eight in turnovers, ranking them 28th in the NFL. 

In the first four games of the season, including their win over the Steelers, the Vikings defense came up with 12 turnovers—an average of three per game. Over the last six games, the Vikings have only two interceptions. 

Perhaps the Vikings will be able to reverse their fortunes against Scott Tolzien, who has five interceptions in two games for the Packers.

In fact, Tolzien more resembles a quarterback who plays in purple than one in green and gold.

Quarterback Comparison
Aaron Rodgers8154108.0
Scott Tolzien21568.2
Christian Ponder76974.9
Matt Cassel44386.1
Josh Freeman42452.6
Pro Football Reference

In order for the Vikings to win more games and wreck their chances of a high draft pick, they really need to do a better job of protecting the football on offense and start taking it away on defense.  


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