Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 10/29/12
Christian Ponder continues to regress. When the season started out it looked like the Vikings had a new and improved Christian Ponder, through the first six games of the year Ponder was completing 69 percent of his passes and had thrown only four interceptions.However, Ponder's previous two games, vs. the Cardinals and Buccaneers, he has only completed 52 percent of his passes, thrown three interceptions, and has had a quarterback rating (QBR) of 16.  The Vikings were able to get the win vs. a Cardinals team who is on a three game losing streak (excluding the MNF match-up vs. the 49ers), but were beaten by the lowly 3-4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers.If this team still wants to make the playoffs, they are going to need Ponder to start playing like he did at the beginning of the year.The Vikings won't win vs. NFC North teams. The Minnesota Vikings play in one of the toughest divisions in the NFL. The teams they must face twice a year include the Bears, Packers, and Lions.  Of those teams, the Lions are the only one under .500 but are still no easy win as they have one of the best passing attacks in the league led by Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson.It is crucial for the Vikings to beat these teams considering they still have five games left vs. teams in their division and only eight games left in the regular season.  With the Vikings, Packers, and Bears all fighting for first place in the Division it makes the remaining games vs. them the most important of the year.  If they Vikings aren't able to survive the upcoming toughness of their schedule, they will be left out of the playoffs and watching football from home come January.Vikings' defense won't stop the pass. As the NFL has turned into a pass heavy league, those team's defenses that can't stop the pass are often the ones left behind. Through eight weeks of the season the Vikings' defense is ranked 12th vs. the pass giving up an average of only 224 yards per game through the air.What that number doesn't show you is the talent of quarterbacks the Vikings have faced. Some of the lesser talented quarterbacks the Vikings have faced so far include: Matt Hasselbeck, Blaine Gabbert, and John Skelton.  Of those quarterbacks, two are playing because of an injury to the previous starter, and Gabbert is in the game simply because the Jaguars have no one else and he is still young.  With two games left vs. both Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler, it is essential that the Vikings stop the pass if they want to keep playing past week 17.Adrian Peterson re-injures his ACL (We hope not though). Late last year Peterson's season was cut short because of a gruesome ACL tear. That type of injury is normally something that takes close to 10 months to fully heal, and then usually takes another full season of play for the injured player to return to previous form, if they ever do that is.  Peterson however was able to come back earlier than 10 months and saw action in Week 1. Even more incredible than his early return, has been his production so far this season.  Through eight games Peterson has carried the ball 151 times for a league leading 775 yards.  Not only has he already regained his form from last year, he has maybe even improved.Even though Peterson has had success early on this year, you still can't overlook the fact that he tore his ACL less than a year ago and one hit or juke could unfortunately send him back to the IR.Teams successfully focus in on Percy Harvin. Percy Harvin has gained MVP consideration this year and is a huge part as to why the Vikings are currently 5-3.He is a multidimensional threat that can make an impact returning, catching, and running the ball. Harvin has been called the most dynamic player in the league and he rightfully deserves that title.Harvin finds himself fifth in the NFL with 667 receiving yards to go along with his five total touchdowns. Harvin is the Vikings main threat in the passing game and Ponder's success goes hand in hand with Harvin's ability to make guys miss and gain extra yards.If teams are able to shut down Harvin in the pass game, then the Vikings' offense could collapse and there would be no way for the Vikings to make it to the playoffs.
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