The Broncos travel to Minneapolis to take on the Adrian Peterson-less Minnesota Vikings. At 2-9, the Vikings are in last place in the NFC North, with no chance of making the playoffs. However, they're not in the business of laying down. With quarterback Christian Ponder at the helm, the Vikings look to play spoiler and snap the Broncos' 4 game winning streak.
With that in mind, Mile High Report got a chance to interview with SB Nation's Vikings blog, The Daily Norseman. They were very accommodating and were able to answer a few questions for us, giving us some insight about the Vikings going into this Week 13 matchup. Eric Thompson was gracious enough to interview with us and clarify a few misconceptions.
So, without further adieu, let's jump into the questions.
Could you elaborate on Adrian Peterson's injury is and tell us what options are available?
AP has been officially ruled out, which of course won't help the Vikings' cause. Toby Gerhart will get the lion's share of the carries as he did last week in Atlanta. Gerhart is serviceable, tough to bring down, and a decent receiver out of the backfield, but he doesn't have anywhere near the explosive ability of Peterson. Look for a lot of 3 to 7 yard runs with Gerhart this week.
Who are a few offensive threats, besides Percy Harvin?
Offensive threats besides Harvin? Um, good question. When healthy, tight end Visanthe Shiancoe is a very reliable receiver. His backup, rookie Kyle Rudolph, has shown improvement every week and has made some outstanding catches this year. Other than that, the offense is sadly devoid of explosive players. Devin Aromashodu can get deep every now and then, but not with consistency. With all the injuries to wide receivers in the past couple weeks, most Vikings fans may not recognize some of the guys on the offense on Sunday.
What’s the status of EJ Henderson? What is his injury and what does it mean to your defense if he can’t play or is limited during the game?
It sounds like E.J. Henderson will play, but it could be on a limited basis. Everything I've heard is that they're optimistic, but they'll see how he feels before the game. If he's missing or limited, it could really expose Minnesota's lack of depth at linebacker. The law firm of (E.J.) Henderson, (Erin) Henderson, and (Chad) Greenway has been consistently solid this year, and losing one would definitely make a noticeable difference.
The Vikings have the personnel to get to Tebow when he finally does decide to pass. Defensive ends Jared Allen and Brian Robison had a pretty quiet game last week, but I don't expect that to happen again. Kevin Williams finally looks healthy again and is rounding into form the past few games.
Have you faced any teams similar to the Broncos, in terms of how often they attack with the run? Have the Vikings shown the ability to stop the run on a consistent basis?
The Vikings aren't the perennial top-3 rushing defense they were a few years ago, but they're still very tough to run against. As a matter of fact, I'm guessing the Vikings defense will welcome Denver's run-first offense. Not because they're so confident that they can stop the likes of McGahee and Tebow, but because their secondary is in complete shambles. Passing attacks have shredded Minnesota all year. Now that three of the four defensive backfield starters will be out for this game, even Tebow's hit-or-miss passing will make Vikings fans nervous.
What do Vikings fans think of Tim Tebow? Do they consider him a threat or "just another guy"?
I think Vikings fans reflect the rest of the nation when it comes to Tebow: in other words, divided and mostly just getting sick of the over-coverage. Most fans I've talked to definitely believe in his uncanny ability to pull winning drives out of nowhere, yet they're still very perplexed about exactly how he's pulling it off. (Count me in that group.) As for his play, I know his passing doesn't scare anyone. But if the Vikings take a 7-point or less lead into the fourth quarter, I don't think anyone would expect anything less than another improbable comeback. I don't think there's a lot of distaste for the guy (after all, we're Minnesota nice), but I think we're all growing a little weary of the Tebowmania coverage.
Can you tell me a bit about the season, to this point? Personally, I expected them to be on the verge of the playoffs and continue to run the ball effectively and play great defense. The weak point was the quarterback, but now it seems that the football team isn’t as complementary as it once was. What do you think spurred the Vikings’ troubles?
The 2-9 season has obviously been horrendously disappointing, and unfortunately it isn't just one or two things that are wrong with this team. I thought they would go somewhere between 6-10 and 8-8 this year, but it doesn't look like we'll get close to that. McNabb was obviously the wrong choice as Christian Ponder's predecessor. Injuries have plagued the team. Bryant McKinnie showed up to training camp looking like Grimace, and after his release the offensive line has been horrendous. The play calling and coaching leadership has been questionable at best. The past couple drafts haven't produced any consistent starters yet. I could go on and on, but those are the main concerns for the Vikings as we wrap up the 2011 campaign.
From all of us here at MileHighReport, I'd like to thank Eric Thompson, once again, for being so thorough with our questions. Make sure to check out the article at the Daily Norseman, where Eric asked my opinion on a few hot button Broncos topics, including Tim Tebow, Von Miller and the reemergence of the Bronco Defense.