Welcome back to Roger Pretzel’s Haunted Dungeon. In this spooky sanctum I’ve poured over all the replay tape to come up with my favorite NFL play of the week. Then it’s straight back to the projector to unspool a film you may have not been aware of…
The lights have dimmed, the bloodlust is sated, and tarantulas crawl over virgin flesh.
Week 17: Minnesota Defense With Team Effort in Strip Sack For TD
Sure there’s always gonna be one or two high drama games in week 17 in terms of playoff hopes, but for the majority of squads, the die was cast back in weeks 15 and 16. The best games in the regular season’s final week are invariably those between two teams already locked out of the playoffs, playing for pride alone.
Minnesota has had a high caliber defense all season and this play against a hapless Matt Barkley shows us that scary pass rush in all its glory. Three different Vikings D-men get in on the action here, starting with Linval Joseph. The Defensive Tackle doesn’t so much strip the ball as he puts a hard shot on Barkley that knocks the ball loose. Anthony Barr comes in with the smart play to goose the ball down the field in the other direction when he realizes there’s no whistle, and that Charles Leno Jr. of the Bears is about to recover. Finally Everson Griffen scoops it up with the sure hands and brings it home.
My Lions are going to the playoffs this season, leaving the Vikings behind, but I’m not looking forward to facing that Minnesota defense again next year
Week 17: The Brain That Wouldn’t Die
Director: Joseph Green Released: 1962
Operating on a level that may be the closest to the platonic ideal of what this column is about, The Brain That Wouldn’t Die serves up enough monsters, kink, and weirdness to satisfy most obsessives of obscure cinematic horror.
Once again, we have mad science to thank for the majority of this film’s pleasures with an ambitious Frankenstein-like doctor brilliantly, but unethically, pioneering new transplant technologies including the successful reviving of his fiancée’s severed head!
“Jan in the pan” isn’t thrilled about her new predicament and begs to be taken offline for good, but Doc Cortner won’t have any of it as he prowls the streets, strip clubs, and beauty contests in search of a proper body to affix Jan’s noggin to. Meanwhile, in the laboratory basement, Jan’s tortured melon begins to communicate telepathically with a giant monster locked behind a heavy wooden door…
Lots of good stuff here, particularly Virginia Leith’s performance as Jan, with her husky voice and barely concealed rage expressing a Medea-worthy madness. The sex angle is pure sleaze and gets a pulp slant when the bad doctor introduces a two-faced burn-victim and former beauty queen into the scenario as Jan’s body-to-be.
The monster is no joke either with a seriously ugly makeup/prosthetics design that’s of a higher quality than might be expected. His inevitable violent rampage includes an arm ripped from the socket, and a throat chewed open. The whole experience is dizzyingly unwholesome. Just what the doctor ordered.
Technically, free agency isn’t over, but the big name signings (Anquan Boldin, where you at?) are over. The draft was a month ago and now I’ve had time to process how the Vikings will do against their 2016 opponents.
Week 1 @ Titans
USA Today recently ranked Mike Mularkey as the worst head coach in the NFL. I have to agree here and the move to hire him as the head coach is baffling. The Vikings will start out slow but explode in the 2nd half. Harrison Smith returns a Marcus Mariota interception for a TD early in the 4th quarter that seals the game. Treadwell scores his first NFL touchdown on a 5 yard back shoulder fade. Vikings win 31-17
Week 2 vs Packers
I don’t like the fact that the Green Bay Packers are the new stadium home opener at all. The Packers will be coming off a blowout win against the Jaguars and be extra confident in thinking they’ll spoil Minnesota’s big night. However, this isn’t the cutesy Leslie Frazier era of Vikings football. Vikings can win a close game here versus Green Bay. This game screams “Adrian Peterson rushes 20-160-2” stat line. Rodgers keeps it close with some ridiculous throws late but the Vikings get a critical sack from Everson Griffen on 4th down to seal it up. Vikings win 21-18
Look for more of this.
Week 3 @ Panthers
Carolina is easily the most well rounded team in the NFC and it’s not even close. Cam Newton had a fantastic MVP campaign in 2015 and he continues to roll coming into week 3 versus the Vikings. The Vikings can hang with Carolina, much like they did vs Denver in week 4 last year, but Carolina’s weapons will be too much for the Vikings. Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess (aka Fun-Fun according to Cam Newton) will make Rhodes and Newman look silly in a tight contest. Cam Newton gives the Vikings fits by rushing for 60 yards and a score. Vikings can expose the middle of the field (if Kuechly is blitzing) with crossing routes and deep posts with WR Stefon Diggs. Vikings lose 27-23
Week 4 vs Giants
Ah, I’m sure the world is waiting for a Giants vs Vikings primetime match up. The last two times these two teams have met in primetime? 2015: The Vikings obliterated the Odell Beckham Jr.-less Giants 49-17 on Sunday Night Football. 2013: THE JOSH FREEMAN MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL GAME. Holy hell, does anyone remember that game? I was on tour in Providence, RI watching this game on a day off and I had such high hopes for Freeman. Turns out he was concussed early in the game and the Vikings kept him out there. I drank a bunch of bad craft beer and had 20 buffalo wings to drown my sorrows out. Also, I’m pretty sure Freeman threw 4-5 footballs out of MetLife Stadium that night. Anyways, the Giants spent a grip of money on high priced defensive free agents (DE Olivier Vernon, DT Damon Harrison, and CB Janoris Jenkins) and actually drafted a productive-in-college WR in Sterling Shepard to go across Odell Beckam Jr.
Their OL is a bit of a concern and RB Rashad Jennings turned 31 this offseason. Beckham is going to make Zimmer an extremely angry coach this night and Rhodes or Newman might get chewed out by halftime. I really hope Zimmer is mic’d up for this game. I think Adrian Peterson and McKinnon can 1-2 punch this game for the Vikings and they win a close contest with a much improved New York Giants team. Rudolph becomes a nice target for Teddy Bridgewater and gives the Giants fits all night. Eli throws a late game pick to Captain Munnerlyn that sets up the Vikings in the red zone. Adrian rushes for a 20 yard TD to put the nail in the coffin. Vikings win 28-21
Week 5 vs Texans
Houston spent a ridiculous amount of money on a QB (Brock Osweiler) who played 7 games last year and got benched in Week 17 for a revived corpse version of Peyton Manning. I think Bill O’Brien is an interesting coach (probably the best Bill Belachick student) and has gotten the best out of the talent he has but Houston does absolutely nothing for me. Houston wins this game if JJ Watt plays QB, RB, and all of the defensive positions. DeAndre Hopkins is a top 5 WR in the NFL and will more than likely make Rhodes look silly on a couple of plays, but I get the feeling Brock Osweiler throws multiple picks and is strip sacked for a touchdown by Danielle Hunter. Teddy won’t have to do much and can lean on the running game to win this game after the defense sets the offense up with great field position on multiple drives. Vikings win 30-14
Week 6 BYE
Week 7 @ Eagles
It’s anyone’s guess as to who will be the Eagles’ starting QB in week 1, but I think by this time the Vikings are going to see Sam Bradford. The Eagles are rebuilding, however, they force a good amount of turnovers and Sproles is still dangerous in the return game. I get the feeling Anthony Barr is asked to play coverage against Eagles TE, Zach Ertz, a handful of snaps this game. New Eagles coach, Doug Pedersen, loved to utilize the TE position in Kansas City under Andy Reid’s offense. The WRs that Philadelphia has can be contained, and feel like Munnerlyn can handle his own vs slot WR, Jordan Matthews. Bold prediction: Bradford is benched at the half and we see Carson Wentz take over. Vikings win 27-17
Look for some Barr on Ertz action in this one.
Week 8 @ Bears
Halloween Monday Night Football at Soldier Field. The Vikings finally won at Soldier Field in 2015 for the first time since 2007. However, I think this will be a Halloween nightmare for the Vikings. I’m actually impressed with the personnel the Bears have landed on defense this offseason. This has the makings of a rainy, cold, sloppy mess of a game. Cutler seems to shine from time to time against the Vikings and I think Alshon Jeffrey and Kevin White have monster games. Harsh conditions are not helpful for an average armed QB like Teddy Bridgewater and the Bears defense looks like a legit unit. Vic Fangio is one of the better defensive coordinators in the game and he’s starting to get guys (OLB Leonard Floyd, ILB Danny Trevathan, ILB Jerell Freeman, DL Akiem Hicks) he can mold for his system. Fangio was the defensive coordinator for the 49ers from 2011-2014 who had players such as: Patrick Willis, Aldon Smith, Justin Smith, NaVorro Bowman, Ahmad Brooks, Dante Whitner, Eric Reid, etc. Vikings lose 24-14
Week 9 vs Lions
The Vikings should be thankful they played the Lions in the first half of the season last year. Matthew Stafford was absolutely money the end of the season and the Lions finished with a semi-respectable 7-9 record after starting the year 1-7. I cannot figure out the identity of this team now that Calvin Johnson is gone. The Lions made protecting Stafford a priority during the draft by selecting OT Taylor Decker in the first round. If the Lions can get RB Ameer Abdullah going to take pressure off Stafford, this could be a scary team. Golden Tate is a really nice WR and adding ex-Bengals WR, Marvin Jones, wasn’t a horrible move. The Vikings are the better overall team and will prevail by a Cordarrelle Patterson kickoff return for a TD late in the game. Vikings win 27-20
Week 10 @ Washington
I had predicted Jay Gruden getting fired last year, but hey, turns out his team won the division at 9-7 with Kirk “YOU LIKE THAT?” Cousins at QB. WR Josh Doctson was a nice grab for Washington in the first round in the draft. Between Jordan Reed, Vernon Davis (you never know with this guy), Pierre Garçon, DeSean Jackson, Josh Doctson, and Matt Jones, the Vikings will have their hands full. They can win it if they force turnovers and get to Cousins. Vikings lose a heart breaker in the final seconds of this game. Vikings lose 21-20
Week 11 vs Cardinals
The Vikings hung with the Cardinals in a 2015 matchup pretty well. Arizona ended up winning the game (23-20) on a brilliant strip sack by Dwight Freeney. Carson Palmer got exposed by Seattle (Week 17), Green Bay (Divisional Round), and Carolina (NFC Championship) last year but I think part of that had to something to do with his finger injury. He had hardly any zip on his throws during those games but Palmer knows this year is his best shot for a Super Bowl and will have another great regular season. Vikings hang with the Cardinals but lose in close fashion again due to David Johnson being a monster. Vikings lose 24-21
David Johnson will be too much for the Vikings to handle in this one.
Week 12 @ Lions
The Vikings haven’t played on Thanksgiving since facing the Cowboys in 2000. Randy Moss was known for lighting up the world during the 1998 and 2000 Thanksgiving games and I think Laquon Treadwell will get his chance in this game. Vikings defense sacks Stafford 5 times and Teddy and Treadwell connect for two touchdowns. Vikings win 31-21
Week 13 vs Cowboys
Thursday Night Football usually is a stinker, but thankfully both the Vikings and Cowboys play on Thanksgiving and will be coming off a normal weeks of rest. Dallas has an elite level offensive line and Ezekiel Elliot will make life for Romo so much easier. Mike Zimmer coached the Cowboys’ defense from 1995-2007 and it’s fair to say he probably knows about some of Tony Romo’s tendencies. This is nail biter game where Tony Romo throws a late pick to Harrison Smith and Blair Walsh successfully converts on a time expiring field goal to clinch the win. Vikings win 27-24
Week 14 @ Jaguars
Remember how the Raiders were going to destroy the Vikings in their 2015 matchup? There’s no way Minnesota’s defense can handle the Raiders ariel attack! The Jaguars hype train comes to a crashing end in a blow out game vs the Vikings. Bortles will throw 2-3 interceptions, giving Teddy Bridgewater excellent field position for 3 touchdown scoring drives. Adrian Peterson daggers the game late with a 60 yard touchdown run to put the Vikings up by three possessions. Vikings win 38-17
Week 15 vs Colts
Andrew Luck has thrown 55 interceptions in 3.5 seasons. He had the worst QB rating in the league last year (when healthy) and struggles versus stingy defenses. Though, I still can’t figure out how he picked apart Seattle in 2013 but looks lost versus defenses like the Jets, Patriots, and Bills. The Colts drafted a good center in Alabama’s Ryan Kelly to protect Luck, but the Colts are going with 33 year old Frank Gore as their starting running back. Adrian Peterson goes wild versus a soft Colts defense and cruise to an easy victory. Vikings win 28-20
We’ll be getting a good look at that classic Andrew Luck interception face.
Week 16 @ Packers
This game is for the division and will be played in horrible winter weather on Christmas Eve. Packers RB, Eddie Lacy, is in a contract year and is currently slimming down with the P90X founder. Rodgers gets quick completions to Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson to wear out the corners and grind Eddie Lacy to wear out the Linebackers and Defensive Line. Adrian Peterson has a nice day to keep this close, but ultimately the Packers take the NFC Division Championship. Vikings lose 24-17
Week 17 vs Bears
Thankfully the Lions lost their week 16 game and the Vikings have clinched a wild card spot. Zimmer is furious and makes his starters play versus the Chicago Bears. The Vikings look sharp and refocused and take it to the Bears in all three phases. Chicago will be a 7-8 team at this point and will be playing for pride. Cordarrelle Patterson returns the opening kickoff for a touchdown and the Vikings never look back. Teddy shows poise and throws for 350 yards and 3 touchdowns (Diggs, Treadwell, and McKinnon each with a score). Zimmer’s defense rattles Cutler into forcing 2 turnovers and one for a score. Vikings win 45-18
Vikings will be the #5 NFC seed in the playoffs at 11-5.
BOLD PREDICTION: Mike Zimmer is the AP Coach of The Year.