The race for a Major League Soccer franchise is quite possibly nearing the finish line, and ahead of that one of the Minneapolis groups vying for a franchise is making one more push for visibility.
Two different Minnesota groups — the Vikings’ group led by the Wilf family and the Minnesota United group led by Bill McGuire — joined groups from Sacramento and Las Vegas last week in New York to make pitches to bring an expansion MLS franchise to Minnesota.
The United group would build a new soccer-specific stadium; the Vikings’ group would have a team play in its new under-construction stadium, and next Tuesday the Vikings are having an event at which they plan to unveil renderings for how pro soccer would look in a reduced-capacity version of that stadium.
The event — which is not open to the public — is at their stadium preview center, which is across the street from the new stadium site.
Also making an appearance at the event is ESPN analyst Taylor Twellman, who will “discuss the 2014 MLS season, preview the Dec. 7 MLS Cup and share why Minnesota should be excited about a potential MLS franchise,” per information from a media invite about the event.
The MLS Board of Governors will discuss expansion on Dec. 6, the day before the MLS Cup, and a decision to award an expansion franchise could come from those meetings.
Listen to sports talk radio for long enough — or really, usually, just for a segment — and you will hear what has derisively become known as a “hot take.”
On ESPN Radio recently, former NFL QB Tim Hasselbeck had the hottest of hot takes about Vikings rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater.
“I don’t believe he’s a starter in the NFL,” Hasselbeck said. “I believe that Teddy Bridgewater – and this isn’t meant to be a shot on him, I was a backup quarterback — I think he’s a good backup quarterback. I think he’d have a nice long career as a backup.”
Hasselbeck noted Bridgewater’s struggle with longer throws downfield against Green Bay — indeed, a concern.
For the season, and therefore his career, Bridgewater has played in eight games. He’s completing 60.3 percent of his passes, with six TDs, 7 INTs and a 75.7 passer rating.
Hasselbeck may very well be correct about Bridgewater. But we would also say these two things: 1) It’s too soon to tell with Bridgewater. Even if there are some troubling signs emerging, there are also some positive ones (such as his ability to run an efficient offense at the ends of halves and games). 2) Those types of hot takes are the epicenter of talk radio programming (and yes, to a certain extent, sports blogs). It’s a controversial statement that cannot be proven one way or the other — the perfect talker.
Indeed, the local ESPN affiliate, 1500, picked up on it for both its web site (linked above) and now for the counter-argument: talking to former Vikings QB Sage Rosenfels, who disagrees with Hasselbeck. That’s no knock on them. That’s the nature of the business.
All of it will be forgotten in a day, then revived in two months, then forgotten in a day, and so forth.
Each week, beat guy Matt Vensel will highlight five Vikings stats that really mean something.
69 — number of Eddie Lacy’s rushing yards that came after contact on Sunday.
The bruising Packers running back did a lot of his damage against the Vikings after contact. Again. According to Pro Football Focus, 69 of Lacy’s 125 rushing yards Sunday came after contact. Lacy forced the Vikings to miss five tackles. Back in Week 5, 52 of Lacy’s 105 rushing yards came after contact. He forced three more missed tackles in that game. According to ESPN Stats and Info, Lacy has now rushed for 229 total yards after contact in his four career games against the Vikings.
four — Packers punts on Sunday, as many as their past three games combined.
The Packers were 6-for-11 on third down, averaged 5.8 yards per play and were 3-for-3 in the red zone. But there is a stat that proves the Vikings defense made it difficult at times for them, at least more difficult than previous opponents had. The Packers had punted just four times in their previous three games. The Vikings convinced them to bring out punter Tim Masthay four times, including on the first drive of the game. The Packers hadn’t punted in the first quarter since Week 6.
zero — sacks or quarterback hits allowed by Kalil in the loss to the Packers.
For the first time all season, Kalil didn’t allow his quarterback to hit the ground. The embattled left tackle allowed three hurries against the Packers, but no sacks or quarterback knockdowns. With Kalil stabilizing the left side, rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was sacked just twice. But, as has always seemed to be the case with Kalil this season, there was some bad. Kalil was flagged three times for 35 yards. He has now been penalized eight times this season, according to ESPN.
54 — yards allowed in coverage by Josh Robinson against Green Bay’s wide-outs.
Robinson got picked on by the Bears in Week 11, but he responded with a solid performance against the Packers and their talented receivers. The cornerback was targeted 10 times by Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and allowed six of the throws to be completed, but they were usually underneath the coverage. Jordy Nelson had five catches for 44 yards against him and Davante Adams had one for 10. It should be noted that fellow cornerback Xavier Rhodes was even better.
five — consecutive games with at least one touchdown pass for Bridgewater.
It took four games for the rookie quarterback to throw his first NFL touchdown pass. But after he hit wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson for his first back in the Bills game, Bridgewater has made a habit of throwing the ball into the end zone for scores. Bridgewater has now thrown at least one touchdown pass in five straight games and the two he threw against the Packers were a career high. His TD-INT differential was 6-4 in those games, but he is still a negative in that stat on the season.
Every Tuesday, we’ll analyze the Vikings draft chances for the upcoming NFL Draft.
Apologizes for not updating the Vikings draft chances last Tuesday with the NFL announcing Adrian Peterson’s suspension, but we’re back! And it’s time for…wait, where did all the red pills go?
Two weeks, two losses. The reality that the Vikings, at 4-7, will be draft bound has swept throughout the Twin Cities. Most of you are here to see where they belong in the draft order, but to appease our entire audience and those still clinging to their blue pills, the Vikings have a 0.03 percent chance of making the playoffs.
“So you’re telling me there’s a chance.”
Yes, Lloyd Christmas, in your fabricated reality, we are saying there’s a very, very, tiny chance.
But back in the real world, the Vikings sit in last place in the NFC North and have a top 10 pick at this moment. Here’s how the order looks with record, strength of schedule tiebreaker (if necessary) and upcoming opponent listed in parentheses:
Jacksonville (1-10) (.574) (vs. NY Giants on Sunday)
Oakland (1-10) (.612) (at St. Louis on Sunday)
Tampa Bay (2-9) (.434) (vs. Cincinnati on Sunday)
Tennessee (2-9) (.558) (at Houston on Sunday)
NY Jets (2-9) (.591) (vs. Miami on Monday)
Washington (3-8) (.463) (at Indianapolis on Sunday)
NY Giants (3-8) (.603) (at Jacksonville on Sunday)
Carolina (3-7-1) (at Minnesota on Sunday)
Minnesota (4-7) (.496) (vs. Carolina on Sunday)
New Orleans (4-7) (.527) (at Pittsburgh on Sunday)
St. Louis (4-7) (.612) (vs. Oakland on Sunday)
If the season ended today, the Vikings would have the ninth overall pick, edging out the Saints and Rams with the same record due to a lower strength of schedule percentage. A loss against the Panthers, who sit with the eighth overall pick right now, would move the Vikings, at worst, one spot up in the draft order.
Strength of schedule will change weekly as teams progress through the final five games of the season. The remaining five opponents for the Vikings at this point are 23-32-1 (.427), so their strength of schedule could dip a little more by the end of the season.
It’s also noteworthy that the Falcons, who sit in first place in the terrible NFC South, would have the ninth overall pick at this point if they didn’t hold a playoff spot. They’re 4-7 with a .430 strength of schedule percentage, which is lower than the Vikings at this point.
Yes, Lloyd, the Vikings would have a shot at the playoffs if they played in the NFC South this year. But, they don’t.
We’re going to need a refill on red pills.
Meanwhile, here are a few “Big Boards” to tickle your draft fantasies for the time being. ESPN’s Mel Kiper has Ducks QB Marcus Mariota as the top player on his list, but CBSSports.com’s Rob Rang currently has USC DE Leonard Williams as the top prospect in college football at the moment.