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  1. #1
    singersp's Avatar
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    Can Vikings Continue Lazarus Act?

    From the Seattle Post Intelligence
    Friday, November 25, 2005

    [size=18px]Can Vikings Continue Lazarus Act?[/size]

    (Sports Network) - The calendar may indicate that it is Thanksgiving weekend, but given the recent resurrection of the Minnesota Vikings, one could argue that it feels more like Easter.

    The Vikings, who will play host to the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, were left for dead following a disappointing season-opening stretch that saw the popular preseason Super Bowl pick go 1-4. That early lack of success, in addition to the well-publicized "sex boat" allegations involving several Vikings players and the season-ending knee injury suffered by Pro Bowl quarterback Daunte Culpepper, had NFL observers wondering just how much worse it could get for the franchise.

    But just when it seemed that all hope was lost, the Vikings implausibly turned things around. Backup quarterback Brad Johnson led Minnesota to three straight wins, including back-to-back victories on the road against the Giants and Packers. The Vikings evened their record at 5-5 with a thrilling 20-17 win at Green Bay this past Monday, and enter Week 12 two games behind division- leading Chicago in the NFC North.

    Cleveland hasn't inserted itself back into the AFC playoff race, but the Browns do come off perhaps their best win of the year. Romeo Crennel's club dropped the Dolphins by a 22-0 count last week, Cleveland's first shutout since the 2001 season. The Browns remain in third place in the AFC North, one game ahead of last-place Baltimore and three back of division co-leaders Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.

    SERIES HISTORY

    Minnesota has a 8-3 edge in its all-time regular season series with Cleveland, and has won the last two head-to-head meetings. The Vikings were 27-11 home winners when the teams last met, in 1995. The most recent matchup between the clubs in Cleveland occurred in 1989, when the Browns were 23-17 overtime winners. Cleveland last won in Minnesota in 1986.

    In addition to the regular season series, the teams have met once in the postseason, with the Vikings taking a 27-7 victory in the 1969 NFL Championship.

    The Browns' Crennel and Vikings' Mike Tice will be meeting each other, as well as one another's respective franchise, for the first time.

    BROWNS OFFENSE VS. VIKINGS DEFENSE

    The Browns last week unveiled a new plan of attack at the quarterback position, as starter Trent Dilfer (2107 passing yards, 10 TD, 10 INT) ceded some of his playing time to rookie Charlie Frye. Frye appeared in the second quarter and again in the fourth, finishing with a stat line of 6-of-11 passing for 58 yards and an interception in his first NFL appearance. Dilfer, who voiced displeasure with the rotation following the Miami win, was 11-of-18 for 137 yards and a touchdown in the triumph. Dilfer's 10th touchdown pass of the year came on an acrobatic six-yard grab by fullback Terrelle Smith in the third quarter. Rookie Braylon Edwards (23 receptions, 1 TD) also made his presence felt, hauling in six passes for 90 yards in the win. No. 1 wideout Antonio Bryant (42 receptions, 3 TD) contributed four catches for 60 yards to the proceedings, and tight end Steve Heiden (30 receptions, 2 TD) had four grabs of his own for 31 yards. The Cleveland line, which has surrendered a modest 18 sacks this season, did not allow a sack against Miami. The Browns are 18th in NFL passing offense (205.4 yards per game) as Week 12 begins.

    Minnesota ranks just 25th in the NFL against the pass (229.2 yards per game) in 2005, but has become adept at making big plays in the secondary. The Vikings have a total of eight interceptions during their three-game win streak, including four from free safety Darren Sharper (31 tackles, 5 INT) and two from cornerback Brian Williams (26 tackles, 2 INT). Williams notched his second pick in as many games on Monday night. The big interception of the night, however, went to undrafted rookie Devonte Edwards (8 tackles, 1 INT), who picked off a Brett Favre pass in the second quarter and returned it 51 yards for his first NFL touchdown. The Minnesota pass rush has mostly struggled this year, notching 18 sacks, including two of Favre on Monday. End Lance Johnstone (11 tackles, 5.5 sacks) boosted his team-leading total with one against Green Bay, and rookie Erasmus James (12 tackles, 2 sacks) notched the second of his career.

    Cleveland's most prolific offensive weapon in recent weeks has been running back Reuben Droughns (868 rushing yards, 2 TD, 26 receptions), who needs just 132 more ground yards to become the franchise's first 1,000-yard rusher since both Kevin Mack and Earnest Byner reached the plateau in 1985. Droughns has averaged 137.8 yards from scrimmage over his last five contests. The former Denver Bronco carried 30 times for 166 yards and a touchdown last Sunday, scoring on a 75-yard jaunt on the team's first play from scrimmage. With William Green (ankle) and Lee Suggs (thumb) still nursing injuries, Droughns was backed last Sunday by Jason Wright (27 rushing yards, 1 TD), who carried three times for eight yards. Green is considered questionable for this week, and Suggs is expected to be active. Fullback Terrelle Smith's touchdown last week was his first since the 2001 season, when he played for the Saints. The Browns are now 19th in NFL rushing offense (105.6 yards per game).

    Droughns will be looking for room while facing a Minnesota defense that ranks just 21st in the NFL against the run (116.6 yards per game). The Vikings posted their finest run-stopping effort of the season on Monday night, holding the Packers to 21 ground yards on 14 carries for the game. Defensive tackles Pat Williams (44 tackles, 1.5 sacks) and Kevin Williams (26 tackles, 1 sacks), who combined for seven tackles against Green Bay, will try to stop Droughns at the point of attack. An ever-evolving starting linebacking crew seems to be set at the present, with Sam Cowart (49 tackles, 1 sack) in the middle and Keith Newman (36 tackles, 2 sacks) and E.J. Henderson (43 tackles) on the outside. Henderson had eight tackles and a forced fumble against the Packers, and Cowart chipped in with five stops in the win.

    VIKINGS OFFENSE VS. BROWNS DEFENSE

    Minnesota quarterback Brad Johnson (638 passing yards, 3 TD, 1 INT) has hardly been spectacular since taking over for the injured Daunte Culpepper, but has played well enough to guide the Vikings to three straight wins. In Monday night's win against Green Bay, Johnson finished with a line of 18-of-30 passing for 196 yards and an interception. The veteran's passer rating in 2005 is now 78.6. Minnesota's top target this season has been tight end Jermaine Wiggins (49 receptions), who caught a team-high seven balls for 67 yards against the Packers. Wideouts Koren Robinson (8 receptions) and Travis Taylor (32 receptions, 2 TD) also got in on the action, with Robinson catching three passes for 51 yards and Taylor hauling in two passes for 33 yards. Nate Burleson (14 receptions, 1 TD), who has struggled with hip, shoulder and knee ailments this season, is expected to play this week. The biggest problem for the Minnesota passing game has been a line that has allowed an NFC-high 45 sacks this year, including five last week against Green Bay. The Vikes are tied for 21st in NFL passing offense (196 yards per game).

    Johnson will be working against a Cleveland defense that ranks a respectable 13th in the league against aerial attacks (196 yards per game), but has offered little in the way of a pass rush. The Browns enter Week 12 with a league-low 13 sacks on the year, including two notched against Miami's Gus Frerotte last Sunday. Outside linebacker Chaun Thompson (49 tackles, 3 sacks) and nose tackle Alvin McKinley (45 tackles, 3 sacks), the team's co-leaders in sacks, each notched their third of the year last week. The Browns secondary allowed the Dolphins to complete just 9-of-28 passes for 67 yards with two interceptions last week. Safety Chris Crocker (52 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 INT) picked up his first interception of the season in the game, and cornerbacks Leigh Bodden (35 tackles, 2 INT) and Daylon McCutcheon (54 tackles, 2 INT) had two pass deflections each.

    The Vikings' three-game win streak has been due in large part to a resurgent running game, one that totaled 160 yards on the ground against the Packers Monday night. Mewelde Moore (490 rushing yards, 22 receptions, 2 TD) led the way with 22 carries for 122 yards versus Green Bay, also catching a pair of passes out of the backfield. Former starter Michael Bennett (203 rushing yards, 15 receptions, 1 TD), who also has a 100-yard game to his credit this year, carried five times for 10 yards on Monday night. Rookie Ciatrick Fason (17 rushing yards, 2 TD) also appeared against the Packers, carrying five times for seven yards and scoring the second touchdown of his NFL career. With the 160-yard effort, the Vikings now rank 24th in the league in rushing offense (92.5 yards per game).

    The Browns' Achilles' heel this season has been its inability to stop the run, and Crennel's crew currently ranks 28th in the league in rushing defense (133.3 yards per game). Miami running backs Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams combined for 139 yards on 25 carries last Sunday. Cleveland inside linebackers Andra Davis (98 tackles, 2 sacks) and Ben Taylor (71 tackles) will look to avoid a similar scenario against the Vikings. The duo combined for 19 tackles last week. Up front, McKinley and fellow linemen Orpheus Roye (61 tackles, 1 sack) and Ethan Kelley (18 tackles) combined for six tackles against Miami.

    OVERALL ANALYSIS

    It is not inconceivable that the Vikings would come out flat in this game, as the team comes off an emotional Monday night win over a division rival and is likely not overly concerned with the talents of its opponent. But one would expect Minnesota to have enough of a killer instinct to flex its muscles against a team with inferior talent, and would continue to do some of the things right that have been a part of the club's recent run of success. Look for the Vikings to move the ball consistently enough to put some points on the board, to hold Droughns in check, and to lure Dilfer and/or Frye into a couple of mistakes.

    Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Vikings 19, Browns 10

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  2. #2
    LuckyVike's Avatar
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    Re: Can Vikings Continue Lazarus Act?

    That's a pretty in-depth analysis there. I'd like to win by more than 9 points though...
    The best part of my day is when I get down on my knees, with my head in my hands, and thank GOD for everything he has given me.

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    Re: Can Vikings Continue Lazarus Act?

    "Vikes2611" wrote:
    That's a pretty in-depth analysis there. I'd like to win by more than 9 points though...
    I thought so too. It was very in depth & could also apply to the rest of the season as well. That's why I posted it as a new topic rather than insert it under a Vikings/Browns thread.

    I'm still thinking this is a 10 point or less ball game myself though.

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  4. #4
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    Re: Can Vikings Continue Lazarus Act?

    Rise, Lazarus, rise!!! All the way to the Super Bowl!!! Hey...it could still happen...especially if we continue to get better and keep winning the close games!!!
    BANNED OR DEAD...I'LL TAKE EITHER ONE

  5. #5
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    Re: Can Vikings Continue Lazarus Act?

    Nice post......its nice to get an objective in-depth article outside of the Twin Cities for once.

    I dont think we will see Frye in the game as long as its competitive. The Browns still have not yet been mathmatically eliminated. I think it will be great matchup.

  6. #6
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    Re: Can Vikings Continue Lazarus Act?

    I have to agree....it is nice to get some outside article on the match up. I dont care if we win by 3 or 30 as long as we pull out a victory

    "I choose my company by the beating of their hearts, not the swelling of their heads"

  7. #7
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    Re: Can Vikings Continue Lazarus Act?

    i want something we havent had in a while and thats a blowout by like 21 points.

  8. #8
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    Re: Can Vikings Continue Lazarus Act?

    "magicci" wrote:
    i want something we havent had in a while and thats a blowout by like 21 points.
    well of course I'd want that but I'm not going to get greedy...just give me another win!

    "I choose my company by the beating of their hearts, not the swelling of their heads"

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    NordicNed is offline Jersey Retired
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    Re: Can Vikings Continue Lazarus Act?

    I have a feeling this is going to be a nail bitter for us....I hope I'm wrong, but just have that feeling..

    But I can see the headlines now, Vikes 20 Browns 17..

    Vikes Win on another Edinger FG...With 17 seconds left.......


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  10. #10
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    Re: Can Vikings Continue Lazarus Act?

    How about a Brad Johnson to Nate burleson Hail Marry to win in final seconds ala Tommy Kramer to Ahamd Rashad to beat the browns 25 years ago.

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