Q: Are there any major differences as to how the Vikings have played on the road vs. at home? Maybe a little bit more reliant on Adrian Peterson to carry the offense?
A: Well, that's a difficult question to answer. The Vikings started the season with monumental second half collapses, on the road, and at home. They have two victories, one at home and one on the road. Their play has been consistent - though not great for the most part - on both stages.
With Donovan at the helm, the Vikings failed at the possession battle. With that in mind, it's hard to get AP the ball when your offense is not on the field and the defense is stacking the box to stop the run. In some instances, like their clobbering by the Bears, the Vikings abandon the running game.
Q: Was there any obvious improvements by Christian Ponder in their game against the Panthers compared to his first start against the Packers?
A: From Ponder's first snap against the Bears he looked like an NFL ready QB. Obviously there are going to be growing pains, like throwing against Charles Woodson, but that still doesn't keep him down. His late game TD to Michael Jenkins against the Pack was against Woodson. The man has no fear, and realizes every play is a new opportunity. He really is confident in his skills, and despite being a rookie has really assumed control in the huddle and of this offense. One of the Vikings biggest offensive flaws with Donovan was not sustaining drives and an inability to convert 3rd downs. Since Ponder has taken over, he is 9-10 on 3rd down for 101 yards and 7 conversions. He has the potential to be a big time NFL QB. The Rodgers/Ponder duel could be a lucrative match up for years to come.
Q: I'm not very familiar with their safeties, Sanford and Abdullah. How are they playing this season?
A: The safety position is by far the weakest position on the squad. The Vikings have a lot of holes, especially in the secondary, especially with Antoine Winfield being absent due to injury and Chris Cook due to legal problems, but the safeties are the real sore spot. Leslie Frazier has attributed their lackluster play to trying to make plays that are not theirs to make. An example is the Jennings TD three weeks ago. He was wide open because Abdullah jumped to the already covered receiver in flat, looking to make a big hit or pick, leaving Jennings wide open over the top.
The safeties not only sometimes neglect important responsibilities like being the last line of defense, but both Sanford and Abdullah suffer from poor fundamentals - taking the wrong angles to the ball, bad tackling, and getting burned in coverage. During the Panthers game, Abdullah got burned on a seam route by Greg Olsen, he missed helping Cedric Griffin over the top against a big first quarter TD to Devin Hester during week six, and against the Chiefs Sanford missed a routine tackle on Dwayne Bowe's game winning TD. This depleted secondary needs these two to make plays. Safe to say, that hasn't happened.
Q: Do you have a score prediction?
A: I'm not really a score guessing kind of guy, but if I have to, I'd say Packers 35 Vikings 28.