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Tag:Torola
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: October 7, 2009 12:44 am
 
Category: MLB
Posted on: October 5, 2009 12:16 am
 

#163

Game #163

By: Christopher Torola


With both the Twins and the Tigers winning their final games, the American League Central Division will be decided with a one game playoff for the second consecutive year. Last year, despite the Twins having beat the White Sox in the season series, the game location was decided by a coin flip. The Twins went on to lose the game 1-0 in Chicago. Many around baseball felt that it was unfair that the Twins didn't get a home field advantage, so the rule was changed. The sentiment around the Twin Cities at the time seemed to be that the rule change came too late to do us any good... Oh what a difference a year makes.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when the Twins had been losing ground to Detroit in the division race, they had lost perennial MVP candidate Justin Mourneau, the football season had started, and the fan base, myself included, had all but given up on the team. Instead of getting down on themselves, the Twins never gave up. They fought their way back into contention, and after all 162 games have been played, they have earned the right to play at least one more.

Since the Twins have won the season series with the Tigers this year, winning 11 of 18, including going 7-2 on their home field, the game will be held at the Metrodome. The Tigers, having used their Ace Justin Verlander today, will be placing the hopes of their entire season on the shoulders or rookie pitcher Rick Porcello. The Twins will be starting their staff Ace, Scott Baker. In a game that is already a game 7, winner take all, game 163 is set, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

 

GO TWINS!

Posted on: September 29, 2009 4:53 pm
Edited on: September 30, 2009 5:08 pm
 

Somehow Someway..

How is it possible... Twins 1 game back and still have 3 more at Detroit?

By: Christopher Torola

It is now the end of the year and the team holds their playoff destiny in their own hands. This has been a resilient team and is playing well, winning 8 of the last 10 games in spite of being without Justin Morneau. There are now just 6 games left to play, 3 at Detriot and 3 at home against the Royals.

Right now the only games that matter are the next 3 against the Tigers. If the Twins win two of them, they will be tied with 3 games to play. If they lose two of them they will be 2 games back with 3 games to play. If they lose all 3 they are not eliminated, but would need to win all 3 remaining games and have Detroit lose their remaining games just to force a one game playoff. Finally, if they manage to sweep the Tigers on the road, they will be 2 games up with only 3 to go.

In my humble opinion the Twins need to win 5 of the last 6 games, and tonight's may be the hardest to get. It will be Twins rookie Brain Duensing, who is 4-0 over his last six starts, facing Tigers' Ace, Justin Verlander. The Twins have beat Verlander twice during the last two months, including once at Detroit. Joe Mauer has decided to catch the 2nd game of the double header allowing the Twins to keep his bat in the line up without using the DH spot. This is good because it means the Twinks will get to have Jason Kubel's left handed bat in the line up over that of righties Mike Redmond or Jose Morales

The Twins and their never-give-up attitude will continue to be on display after winning the opening game of the double header in extra innings. Look for the boys from Minnesota to slip past the Tigers to represent the American League Central in the post season.

 

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

PREPARING FOR A MONDAY NIGHT SHOWDOWN

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.

Posted on: September 17, 2009 7:45 pm
Edited on: September 17, 2009 8:05 pm
 

The Viking Ship - Week 2

The Viking Ship - Week 2: Just Don't Beat Yourself

By: Christopher Torola


Last year the Minnesota Vikings only beat one divisional opponent twice... the Detroit Lions

This appears to be an easy 2-0 to start the season for the Vikings; however, there should be some fear of a let down. The game is in Detroit and last year the Lions could have easily have been 2-0 against the Purple. In week 6 at the Metrodome they Vikings took the lead on a fourth quarter field goal near the end of the game, and were only in position to kick due to a controversial pass interference call.

Then in week 14 the Lions either shared or held the lead again until a 4th quarter TD pass to Visanthe Shiancoe. The two teams then traded field goals to give the Vikings a 4 point victory. 

In the two games last year the Vikings outscored the Lions by only a total of 6 points. That being said, I do not think the Lions will win. If the players take them as a serious opponent, the Vikings should crush the Motor-City-Kitties. If I am not mistaken, the Vikings are 11 1/2 point favorites this week, not that i endorse gambling. My biggest concern is that the Vikes will go into this game thinking that they won't have to work for the win.

Some this to watch... Starting with concerns.

- Brett Favre has yet to throw a pass 25 yards down field. He had one 21 yard completion to Percy Harvin. His only other deep attempt resulted in a pass interference call. The concern here is Favre's health, although it is more likey just a case of more time needed to get familiar with his receivers. If he still throws little in a game against the Lions defense that allowed 6 touchdown passes last week, there may be some cause for concern.

- Heath Farwell is on the injury report due to hamstring soreness. He has been limited in practice. This is not good news for a Vikings special team squad that set a record for Touchdowns allowed last year as well as giving up a punt return for a score last week. The Lions did record an 87 yard kick off return and a 43 yard punt return against the Saints last week, although neither resulted in a touch down. 

-Calvin Johnson vs a young Viking secondary. Johnson is going to be a great receiver. He has yet to have a quality QB throwing to him, but has still put up amazing numbers. Look for the Vikings to try to contain him with a double team. If Johnson finds holes in the zone, he has the ability to put up big yards after the catch.

Now for the fun things to watch.

- Adrian Peterson. Currently on pace to rush for 2,880 yards this year, the NFL's 6th 2,000 yard rushing season is not out of the question. It will be fun to watch A.D. all year as he puts up monster numbers on his way to what may be a hictoric season, especially this week against a terrible Lion's defense. The list of backs to rush for 2,000 includes O.J. Simpson '73, Eric Dickerson '84, Barry Sanders '97, Terrell Davis '98, and Jamal Lewis in '03.

- Brett Favre and Percy Harvin. Up until this point it seems that Harvin is fast becoming one of Favre's favorite targets. This could make for an interesting year for the young wide receiver.

The match up between these two has reminded me a lot of another aging Vikings QB and rookie wide receiver. In 1998 the Vikings called back a retired Randall Cunningham to take control of a talented team, with a great offensive line (Jeff Christy, Todd Steussie, and now Hall of Famer Randall McDaniel all made the pro-bowl that year). They also drafted a talented wide receiver with a late first round draft pick who only fell to them because of a history of legal issues. Randy Moss went on to set the rookie record of 17 touchdowns that year.

While I don't see nearly as many touchdown passes due to the prolific running game of Adrian Peterson, I think we may see teams realizing they made a mistake when assessing Harvin's character issues (such as being stupid enough to smoke pot while knowing he was going to be drug tested at the combine). Maybe not to the degree that team's who passed on Randy Moss or Adrian Peterson because of injury history, but teams like the Radiers, 49ers, and Eagles who drafted wide outs before Harvin may end up wishing they hadn't done so. I am guessing that San Francisco (who has yet to sign Michael Crabtree) already wishes they hadn't.

- The Vikings defense against a rookie QB Matthew Stafford and poor offensive line. Going into the season Bleacher Report rates Detroit as the 32nd worst O-line out of 32 teams. This should be a good oppurtunity for the Vikings elite defensive line to score some sacks as well as forcing rookie QB Stafford into some bad throws. The Saints picked the Lions off 3 times and recorded one sack last weekend, and the Vikings should fair much better.

Here is to a great chance at beating the Lions to get to 2-0 this weekend... as long as the Vikings don't beat themselves.

Posted on: September 9, 2009 8:07 pm
Edited on: September 9, 2009 11:58 pm
 

2009 Vikings, what to watch...

2009 Vikings, Big Changes From Last Year


By: Christopher Torola

This Sunday the Vikings will play their first meaningful football since their playoff loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, and a lot has changed. Since then the Vikings have a new starting Quarterback, two new starting Offensive Linemen, some key players coming back from season ending injuries, a new starting Safety(sort of), and a potential play making rookie to handle kick returns among other things.

These personnel changes include some big steps forward, as well s some possible steps back. First off, the good.

In case you missed it, Brett Favre is now a Minnesota Viking. With #4 under center the Vikings now have a legitimate NFL starting quarterback for the first time since Daunte Culpeppers big year. Farve, although new to the team, is already familiar with the Vikings offense, which is pretty much the same as he ran all his years in Green Bay. If this is the upgrade it appears to be we could see the Vikings offense open up. It has always seemed that the coaching staff never had faith in Tavaris Jackson, as they limited his reads and did not have him call audibles pre-snap. Now we should hopefully see more consistency from #1 receiver Bernard Barrian as well as the continued improvement of Visanthe Shiancoe; however, the biggest improvement may come from an already spectacular Adrian Peterson. Since his rookie season, opposing defenses have constantly stacked the box against the run when facing the Vikings. If teams attempt to keep 8 in the box against the Vikings, Favre should be able to find plenty of one-on-one match-ups with wide receivers and tight ends to exploit.

The Vikings have two big time contributers coming back from injuries this year. Middle Linebacker E.J. Henderson missed most of last season with toe injuries. Prior to that his play was amongst the best at his position in the NFL. In 2007 he lead the team in tackles. Special team captain Heath Farwell is also back from a season long injury. Many in and around the organization believe that the loss of Farwell last year was a major contributing factor to the Vikings special teams allowing an NFL record 7 touchdowns.

The Vikings also used their 1st round draft pick to acquire Percy Harvin. They plan to use Harvin to return kick-offs, despite never doing so in college. He will also see reps as a wide receiver, running back, and even Quarterback in the Wildcat formation. From the brief glimpses of Harvin seen in the pre-season he should easily be an upgrade as a return man. He was able to catch some balls from Favre. It does seem that the Vikings plan to design some plays to get him the ball, possibly like Reggie Bush in his rookie season or Ronnie Brown last year.

With the positive, there are also some potential set backs.

The "Williams Wall" (Pat Williams and Kevin Williams) have yet to serve a suspension for violating the leagues banned substance policy. It is likely that the issue will be resolved during the season, which could lead to missed games for the Vikings Pro-Bowlers.

Second year safety Tyrell Johnson will attempt to fill the shoes of 4 time Pro-Bowler Darren Sharper, who signed a deal with the Saints this off-season. Johnson did start last year when Madieu Williams missed time due to a neck injury. The Vikings seem to believe that Johnson is ready to handle the job, as they made no attempt to resign Sharper.

To me the biggest and least discussed concern may be the changes at the Right Tackle and Center positions. Neither John Sullivan or Phil Loadholt has taken a meaningful snap in the NFL. Last year the Colts started 2 rookies on the O-Line and dropped from the #5 rated offense to #15. The good news for the Vikings though, is that unlike the Colts of last year, neither Loadholt or Sullivan is starting due to injury. Loadholt has outplayed Ryan Cook to earn the job. Sullivan has been groomed to take over at center, and the Vikings must feel that he is ready. They had plenty of time to make a deal to keep Matt Birk in Minnesota, as he was looking for a contract extension since the beginning of last year. Both players will need to be successful for the team's overall success, as the team will remain a run first offense.

There is no doubt that this team will compete for a play-off spot at worst, and if they are able to gel on offense and improve on special teams, this year's Vikings could be the one that finally wins them their first Super Bowl.

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