The Minnesota Vikings rolled to a 4-1 record with a victory over the Tennessee Titans at Mall of America Field on Sunday. Let's take a look at five things we learned.
1. Percy Harvin Cannot Be Stopped
Last week Percy Harvin gashed the Lions as a kick return for a touchdown, and this week he destroyed the Titans as a wide receiver. Harvin caught 8 passes for 108 yards and a touchdown and added 8 more yards and another touchdown on two rushes in the game.
Harvin continues to be the key weapon in the Minnesota Vikings offense giving Christian Ponder the flexibility that has been the key to his success. The opposing defense has to scheme for Harvin on every play, and the extra attention has opened up the rest of the Vikings receivers and allowed Ponder to complete passes to eight different receivers in the victory this week.
2. The Chris Johnson Era is Coming to an End With a Whimper, not a Roar
It was only a few years ago when every fantasy football publication and website in the county had Chris Johnson and Adrian Peterson as 1 and 1A at the running back position, but those days are gone. Chris Johnson finished the day with 15 rushes for 24 yards with yet another lackluster performance.
No one has been able to run effectively against the Vikings this season, but Johnson just doesn't seem to have the same burst that he did a few years ago. With the Titans offensive line continuing to struggle Johnson's job only becomes more challenging. Johnson also added a fumble to the mix this week, which is only going to add to the pressure.
Johnson seems to be yet another example of a player that puts in the effort to get a new contract and then drastically under-performs after getting paid.
3. Christian Ponder Picks the Right Time to Throw Picks
Christian Ponder was the last starting quarterback in the NFL to throw an interception this season as he completed 144 passes without a pick before throwing 2 in the game against the Titans. The Minnesota Vikings have kept the game plan simple with Ponder, relying on the short passing game and a balanced rushing attack, but today Ponder took several shots down field, and two of those where intercepted by the Titans.
Ponder's first pick happened near the end of the first half and the Titans took a knee to end the half. The Viking's defense stepped up after the second pick and forced the Titans to punt leading to no points from the turnovers.
Ponder continued to throw the ball into the second half and the turnovers didn't seem to shake his confidence as he finished the game with 25 completions on 35 attempts for 258 yards and 2 passing touchdowns
4. The Titans need Jake Locker to Get Healthy Soon.
Jake Locker was beginning to show some real promise before he went down to injure last week, and veteran Matt Hasselbeck certainly isn't the answer at QB for the Titans.
Hasselbeck was pedestrian in the game with 26 completions on 43 attempts for 200 yards, but a large portion of that production came late in the game when the Vikings defense was largely in prevent mode. Locker gives the Titans the best chance to be successful on offense, but the line has got to get better if the Titans have any hope at winning this season.
The rushing attack certainly isn't giving the Tennessee offense any chance to be consistently balanced, but Locker's arm strength can at least give the team a chance to win.
5. The Vikings are suddenly a Factor in the NFC
After going 3-13 last season, no one expected the Vikings to win more than six games total this season, but after a 4-1 start the Vikings have become a factor in the division. The Vikings are winning by doing the easy things well and not making too many mistakes.
A consistent mix of running and passing and a defense that makes few mistakes has put the Vikings a top the NFC North division (tied with the Bears) and wins over two playoff teams from last year has shown that they are for real.
If the Vikings can continue to play consistently and stay healthy, they have a legitimate shot to win the division, especially considering the injuries to the other teams in the NFC North.