Opposing View: ESPN1500 columnist Tom Pelissero on the Lions-Vikings matchup

Posted Nov 10, 2012

This week's Opposing View comes from ESPN1500 columnist Tom Pelissero. Pelissero is the senior editor of He covers the Vikings, hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts "Sunday Morning SportsTalk" with Star Tribune columnist Jim Souhan weekly from 10 a.m. to noon. You can follow him on Twitter @TomPelissero

1. What is the status of WR Percy Harvin?

Harvin didn't practice the entire week, but that's no surprise. His only chance for playing was to maximize his rest and try to give it a go on Sunday morning. I saw him on Thursday, off crutches, but limping badly through the locker room. It's hard to imagine him going from there to playing on Sunday. But then again, I watched him limp around like this before the Arizona game in 2010. He ended up having a career day. His pain tolerance is crazy. I can't rule him out unless/until the Vikings do.

2. Is it possible RB Adrian Peterson has come back even stronger than he was pre-knee injury?

He sure looks like it. I bumped into a Seahawks personnel executive after the game out there and his jaw was hanging open as he talked about Peterson. The guy is not human. He seems to take another step forward each week, is cutting off both legs equally now, jump cutting, doing all the things that have made him special. Good thing for the Vikings, too, because nobody's scared of their passing game.

3. What's the biggest cause for concern over the Vikings' recent skid?

They can't throw the ball. When you finish with fewer than 45 net passing yards twice in three weeks, that's not a concern -- it's a crisis. Christian Ponder hasn't really opened things up and flung it since the Washington game. Teams are choking up on Harvin, taking away his outlets to Kyle Rudolph and bringing pressure.

Jerome Simpson isn't healthy and Michael Jenkins can't play anymore. So far, the Vikings haven't been able to adjust and make defensive backs stop squatting. I wouldn't be surprised if you see a lot of slants, etc., this week just to get guys to flash out of their breaks a little sooner and help Ponder out.

4. The Lions are hitting their stride running the ball. You can't say that about the Vikings' run defense the last four games. What's been the biggest issue there?

There are a ton of issues. They've had poor gap security, particularly when teams like Washington and Seattle have gone to zone-read stuff. Their tackling has been atrocious. Their nose tackle, Letroy Guion, is getting washed by single blocks and now is battling turf toe.

In their scheme, you've got to be strong up the middle and right now the Vikings are weak, particularly at the nose and mike linebacker with Jasper Brinkley. It will be interesting to see how Scott Linehan attacks them, given those shotgun draws always seem to run into a brick wall against the Vikings. Matt Stafford isn't exactly a zone-read QB but it wouldn't shock me if you see some of those concepts as well.

5. What is the prevailing thought in Minnesota: are the Vikings contenders or pretenders?

Fans here are riding the roller coaster. They were pretenders before the season, contenders at 4-1, then back to pretenders after the Tampa game and now you'd think the building is on fire. A lot of people seem to have lost the plot. This season was always about Rick Spielman beginning a significant rebuilding operation.

Teams have only so many resources in terms of the salary cap, draft picks, etc. Spielman couldn't fill every hole. They're better than they were a year ago and certainly younger, but they're going through growing pains and that starts at the quarterback position.

The schedule is so brutal I don't see them finishing above .500, but you never know. They sure looked like a good team back in September when they shocked San Francisco.