Found December 21, 2012 on State of the Texans:
Nfc_championship_minnesota_3c9a
Here we are, week 16, the final 2012 game against an AFC North foe (unless… Super Bowl, anyone?) This time, the Houston Texans face the Adrian Peterson led Minnesota Vikings for a Sunday noon game at Reliant. The Vikings are not entirely unknown to the Texans as the interconference opponents met in the final week of the preseason. Of course that was a long time and many injuries ago – and before a couple of each team’s players emerged as potential NFL MVP candidates. Where’s the fun in this particular game? Only watching Adrian Peterson grind it out in attempt to set a new single season rushing record against a 5th ranked Texans rushing defense and the potential for J.J. Watt to add to his 19.5 sacks, closing in on the 22.5 sack single season mark set by Michael Strahan in 2001, against the Vikings who allow 2.14 sacks per game. No big deal. Yeah, right. History could be re-written this Sunday. Add in that Minnesota is legitimately, and somewhat surprisingly, fighting for a playoff spot and the Texans are trying to lock up a first round playoff BYE with a victory. This game is kinda a big deal. To dig into the inner workings of the Minnesota Vikings, we bring in Mike Wobschall, writer for the actual NFL Vikings website, www.Vikings.com. Mike, @Wobby on Twitter, is so close to the situation in Eden Prairie, MN, we could scarcely get more accurate information than if we asked HC Leslie Frazier himself. Mike dishes on QB Christian Ponder’s progression in his second year, the clamor regarding Peterson for MVP and Jared Allen’s integrity. We get strong insight into a team with whom we in Houston are none-too-familiar. Ladies and gents, check out what the Minnesota Vikings are bringing to Reliant this Sunday.   @TXBobbumman How do you see the matchup of Texans DE J.J. Watt vs Vikings LT Matt Kalil (R) playing out? If these two do indeed matchup, wow! What a battle that will be. We’ve hit a homerun with Matt this season. From Day 1 of the regular season, he’s been a dominating presence on Christian Ponder’s blindside, and save a few moments this season, his opponent has been a virtual non-factor each week. But Matt has not faced a player the caliber of J.J. Watt this season. I can’t recall seeing a player with a better all-around game having a better all-around season than what Watt is doing in 2012. What a treat to watch. @MSawyer4 Is DE Jared Allen a “dirty player” after two questionable hits against Texans QB Matt Schaub in their last meetups? No, Jared cannot be fairly characterized as a dirty player. There have been unfortunate incidents in which he’s been involved in the past, such as his illegal block against Bears OL Lance Louis earlier this season, but in each instance he’s cleared the air afterward and insisted there was no ill intent. In fact, Jared’s been the target of cheap shots (Lions OL Gosder Cherilus attempted to take him out at the knees several seasons ago) in the past and has been out-spoken about how that kind of conduct has no place in the NFL. @The_abman_mon How will the Vikings attack the Texans defense vs 8-9 in the box? The same way they’ve attacked it every week of the season – with power. Adrian Peterson is having his best season, and he’s running behind a road-grading offensive line and one of the NFL’s best fullbacks (Jerome Felton). The Vikings “22” personnel (2 TEs, 2 FBs) has been able to block any scheme put in front of it, and then the Vikings have also done a nice job with other run schemes to diversify the attack. The key will be our passing game’s ability to collect a few completions in clutch situations, capitalizing on Houston’s willingness to play man-coverage while stacking the box to stop the run.   @Aggs03 What is the Vikings fanbase thinking regarding RB Adrian Peterson for Comeback Player of the Year versus MVP? It started off as “The MVP award would be great, but a QB will probably win it so Comeback Player of the Year is a nice consolation prize.” Now, the momentum is there for Adrian to win the MVP, and my sense is that the general public would vote Adrian as MVP by an overwhelming margin. But the general public does not get to vote. I’m not sure which way the voters will ultimately go, but I think one would be hard-pressed to make a case for someone other than Adrian. He’s averaged 161.1 rushing yards per game over the last 8 contests. Texans RB Arian Foster is in the midst of another great season (1,313 yards), and Adrian has the same amount of rushing yards in his last 8 games. On top of that, the Vikings are 8-6 and in position to qualify as a wild card team in the NFC, just one season removed from being 3-13 and having the #3 overall pick in the draft. Adrian is the impetus behind this improvement and he’s leading the charge less than a year from tearing the ACL and MCL in his left knee. @the_halbyHeard (rumor of) Fran Tarkenton wanting the team to take the training wheels off the offense and unleash Ponder. How likely is that? I think it’s likely, but not until the offseason. The winning formula for this team right now is to lean heavily on the ground game and strategically pick spots to strike in the passing game. Last week’s game plan against St. Louis was cleverly-crafted. The Rams came in knowing they had to stop the run, so on our first series of the game Offensive Coordinator Bill Musgrave mixed in a series of play-action bootleg passes, including the first play of the game. Ponder was sharp in his execution, going 3 of 3 for 38 yards on the opening drive. This eventually caused St. Louis to alter their strategy, and the result was 212 yards on the ground for Adrian after opening the game with 8 yards on his first 8 carries.   Since WR Percy Harvin’s injury, who has stepped up as Christian Ponder’s preferred target? We’ve had a variety of guys step up since Percy left the lineup. TE Kyle Rudolph and WRs Jarius Wright, Michael Jenkins and Jerome Simpson have all led us in receiving since Percy’s injury. To be honest, the passing production hasn’t been gaudy enough to really identify a single player who’s stepped into Percy’s role as Ponder’s top target. It’s been more of a group approach with several individuals stepping up at various times to complement our dominant ground attack.   Who should Texans fans keep an eye out for on offense and defense that we may not be aware of? Offensively, I’m wondering if this will be a big Kyle Rudolph game for the Vikings. I expect Wade Phillips and that stifling Texans defense to crowd the line of scrimmage with 8 defenders on a consistent basis, and then to feature lots of man-coverage behind that bulked up front. I have great respect for members of Houston’s secondary, specifically with their ability to guard receivers in one-on-one scenarios. But I’m not sure anyone will be able to blanket Rudolph. If the Vikings can protect Ponder long enough for him to find Rudy in those scenarios, I think the Vikings can strike through the air on occasion. Defensively, Harrison Smith has played the safety position like no one we’ve seen in Minnesota since Darren Sharper. In fact, I think Harrison is a better tackler and is better against the run than Sharper was for us. A veteran like Matt Schaub may be able to trick Harrison a few times, but I will not be surprised to see the rookie safety make a splash play or two on Sunday. He already has a pair of TDs on INT returns, and we may need a defensive TD to keep pace with Houston on Sunday.   Great stuff from Mike Wobschall and a big thank you to him and www.Vikings.com for providing this intel to fans of the opposing Houston Texans. As always, get your questions in for Week 17 versus the Indianapolis Colts whenever YOU are ready by tweeting me @TheClaireBear23 and including the hashtag #KnowYourOpponent.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Christian Ponder's future resides in the next few weeks

The Viking faithful knows it; Christian Ponder knows it, as well as Alex Smith of the San Francisco 49ers. The elephant in the room has just moved a little, just a little. However, far down the road it may seem, Smith is a good addition to a football team that needs a quarterback who can manage a game, but go outside the box. Ponder is still young in his second year, but if your...

Peterson to appear on 'The League' Thursday

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. Nearing the NFL's single-season rushing record, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is everywhere these days, from magazines, newspapers, radio and TV talk shows and highlight shows. Tonight he takes on a sitcom nearly as flawlessly as he does NFL defenses. Peterson is set to appear on tonight's episode of "The League" on FX, starring...

Peterson to appear Thursday on 'The League'

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. As he nears the NFL's single-season rushing record, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is everywhere these days, from magazines, newspapers and radio to TV talk shows and highlight shows. On Thursday night, he takes on a sitcom nearly as flawlessly as he does NFL defenses. Peterson is set to appear on Thursday's episode of "The League...

How a winning record might hurt the Vikings

The last two weeks of the season will tell the Vikings’ future. Not only their playoff future this year, but the future of the franchise to come. The Vikings remain in the playoff hunt even after an up-and-down season battling in one of the best divisions in the NFL. With what’s sure to be a tough matchup against Baltimore this Sunday followed by a meeting with the Packers, a...

Make no mistake: Peterson wants what Dickerson has

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. In the NFL, some milestones and records mean more than others. Whether it's Tom Brady's 50 passing touchdowns in 2007 or Brett Favre's 297 consecutive starts, a few numbers simply captivate football fans. Last year, 5,000 passing yards was the milestone of the moment, but three players getting there in the same season knocked off the shine. One hundred...

Vikings' Peterson wants what Dickerson has

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. In the NFL, some milestones and records mean more than others. Whether it's Tom Brady's 50 passing touchdowns in 2007 or Brett Favre's 297 consecutive starts, a few numbers simply captivate football fans. Last year, 5,000 passing yards was the milestone of the moment, but three players getting there in the same season knocked off the shine. One hundred...

Texans to Watch: Vikings Edition

The 12-2 Texans face the 8-6 Vikings in a rematch from the last preseason game of the year, which already seems like last year.  Of course, this game has many more implications – a win for the Texans and they seal home field advantage throughout the playoffs.  This game also features MVP candidate Adrian Peterson, who missed the preseason while recovering from knee surgery....

Records Were Made to Be Broken

With two weeks left in the regular season, the race for MVP has been whittled down to a two-man contest, Peyton Manning and Adrian Peterson. While arguments can also be made for Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and J.J. Watt, the reality is that Manning and Peterson both overcame impossible, insurmountable odds. And both performed at a level that exceeded all expectations. Manning, as...

Vikings vs. Texans: PJD's Masturbatory "Everything's Bigger" Game Preview

Everything is Bigger in Texas, Like Football Games: You thought I was talking about something else? Like maybe big cowboy hats? Big old Five Gallon head gear, with the brims and sawdust and everything? Well I wasn't. I was talking about football games, like this big football game that's coming up for the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. The team is heading to Houston to play...

Former Vikes’ QB Embarrassed with Minnesota Passing Game

Former Vikings QB Fran Tarkenton passed his way to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, so he knows a thing or two about how an offense should be ran, and what a passing game should consist of. With his old team struggling in the era of pass-happy teams, he is embarrassed by the product the Vikings are putting on the field for the fans. Former Vikings QB Frank Tarkenton is none too happy...

NFL Week 16: Five Must Watch Games

First off, a very Merry Christmas to you and yours this holiday season from us at the Pigskin Report. It’s always quite a somber holiday mood for the diehard NFL fan; for it means we’re nearing the end of the regular season. And the week number suggests, things are winding down and the playoffs begin just two weeks from today. It goes by so fast, doesn’t it? With most of the...

Minnesota Vikings at Houston Texans: Week 16 NFL Pick

Minnesota Vikings (8-6) at Houston Texans (12-2) The Vikings kept their playoff hopes alive last week, as they are one of many 8-6 teams in the NFC. They are long shot hopes, however. Not only do they not control their own destiny, their final 2 games are against Houston and Green Bay, two of the better teams in the NFL. Making matters worse, the Vikings are in a bad spot trends...

Walsh kicking up a storm in Minnesota

(Eds: Updates. With AP Photos.) By JON KRAWCZYNSKI AP Sports Writer Adrian Peterson has been a threat to score from anywhere on the field this season, the kind of performance that makes a fan hold his breath every time he touches the ball. Blair Walsh hasn't been quite that dynamic. But as soon as the Minnesota Vikings cross midfield, they know they're in his range. And...
NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.