NFC North: Lions-Vikes Set Table For Another Thanksgiving

Charles “The Prodigy” Richey is an on-air host and producer for chicagolandsportsradio.com, he writes on the NFC North for WARR

The Minnesota Vikings are looking good for their latest Thanksgiving showcase, sitting now with an 8-2 record following a dominating victory of the visiting Los Angeles Rams in last Sunday’s showcase NFC game.

Minnesota controlled the time of possession and won the turnover battle with a +2 ratio. The Vikings league-wide No. 2 rushing defense did their job in holding the Rams to just 47 yards om the ground.  

Now in control of their playoff fate as the No. 2 seed in the NFC, the Vikes travel to Detroit to take on the Lions on Thanksgiving. Seems so simple to keep Case Keenum as the guy, right? Well, not for everyone.

Let’s go back in time, back to August 30, 2016: Bridgewater suffers his catastrophic knee injury in Training Camp, his career was in serious jeopardy as he was out for the entire season.

During all of this, the Vikings go on to witness a 7-9 performance and fall short of the playoffs in their debut season in US Bank Stadium. Fast forward a year later, Sam Bradford, first brought on in ’16 to relieve Bridgewater, is reported to have a knee injury following the season opening victory over the Saints. Then enters Case Keenum, who has since steered the Viking ship to a 7-2 record.

Later, in October, reports break that Bridgewater can return to practicing with his team, by early November he is officially active against Washington.

Now with Bridgewater waiting patiently on the bench, there are many who say Keenum should continue to play this successful string out but whispers exist on the edges that Bridgewater, the once and presumably future franchise guy in Minnesota, should get in action to proceed an increasingly sure playoff run.

After all, of the two QBs were talking about, Bridgewater has the only experience and the only real success beyond this current season — an 17-11 record in his first two seasons as the starter with one playoff start.

On the other hand, you have Keenum, a castoff from one of last year’s worst teams, the Los Angeles Rams, but who is having a career year currently and is on pace to pass for over 3,000 yards while averaging 239.3 yards per game.  To Vikings coach Mike Zimmer I ask, “What’s so hard about this? This is not brain surgery.”

Its long been the belief of many NFL experts that why change a quarterback who’s playing with a hot hand just because you want the previous respected one to have his job back?

Yes, there’s still some loyalty tied to Bridgewater, who has done everything asked upon him in Minnesota, including making himself ready to play again as soon as possible, but he still a quarterback who hasn’t earned a postseason victory yet. In a general sense he’s not that much of a clear upgrade over Keenum.

At the end of the day, the plan should be methodical for Minnesota — wait and see what happens with Keenum before doing anything. If he starts to struggle and lose trust of his coaching staff and teammates, then go ahead and make the switch.

The Vikings are on the verge of a big opportunity here — a division title and home field throughout the playoffs, including a possible unprecedented home game in the Super Bowl could be theres if they play their cards right. There’s nothing about this decision that’s light — glad I’m not Zimmer.

Lion-Hearted Detroit Continues Success

And in this corner! — Still undefeated on the road in the NFC North, your 2017 Detroit Lions!

The Lions had to rally multuple times on Sunday, escaping with an almost sure-handed victory for the host Chicago Bears in Soldier Field by a score of 27-24. Not the prettiest victory, but the Lions will take it.  

With a 3-game win streak in hand, they are now primed and ready for Vikings as they host another Turkey Day opener.  

Detroit has proved themselves well as a team that knows all about rallying through adversity this year.

Last Sunday proved to be a prime example of the kind of hard-earned resilience and determination the Lions have displayed all season. The Bears out-rushed Detroit and controlled most of the clock but when it came time for Matt Stafford to put on his Superman cape once again, he not only overcame an early 10-0 first quarter deficit he threw for 299 yards, two touchdowns, and helped the Lions outscored the Bears 27-14 for the remaining 3 quarters of the game.

Now it’s on to host the red-hot Vikings, who the Lions have a three-game series win streak over to match their overall streak.  

Lions coach Jim Caldwell is emphasizing to his players to focus on one game at a time and to not look ahead.  

“We look at these guys for who they are.  They’re a very good team.  They’re on a roll,” Caldwell said this week. “All we’re worried about — we’re not worried about ramifications. We’re not worried about all the buildup and things of that nature. We’re worried about how we play.” 

If anyone is familiar with the Lions’ seasons and many of their wins of late, it’s not about how they start, but how they finish. It will be showdown this Thursday for these two teams all the way.

Buckle your seats Lions fans, you may be about to endure another one of those wild finishes that are starting to define this season for your team. Should be another memorable Turkey Day for the Motor City!

Follow Charles at his personal blog and on Twitter @ProdigyRichey; Follow We Are Regal Radio on Twitter @regalradio1 and on Facebook under We Are Regal Radio

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