Matt Cassel will start at QB for the Vikings in London Sunday against Pittsburgh, the team just announced. Starter Christian Ponder has a fractured rib. It is unclear when he suffered the injury, and whether it was during the stunning 31-27 loss to Cleveland, or at some other point. The young Ponder has taken a pounding so far in his NFL career – remember when he missed the playoff game last season because his arm looked like this?
Cassel, who is still living off that one year in New England when he filled in more-than-capably for injured Tom Brady and posted impressive stats (fine, he also had a solid year in KC in 2010 when they made the playoffs), didn’t play like an NFL starter in Kansas City 2011 or 2012.
From his mediocre days with the Chiefs, Pittsburgh is familiar with Cassel – in three starts against the Steelers, he completed 47 percent of his passes with two TDs, three interceptions, and a whopping 60.5 QB rating.
This one falls under into, “be careful what you wish for,” Minnesota fans. Many seem fed up with Ponder’s struggles (59 percent completions, five interceptions, two TDs, one fumble) and his inability to make quick decisions, which leads to the former FSU star holding the ball far too long (he’s absorbed 10 sacks). Well here’s a newsflash – the offensive line isn’t having a strong year, and Cassel isn’t nearly as mobile as Ponder.
In a battle of 0-3 teams, I’d be surprised if Pittsburgh didn’t win this one handily, say, 27-17. [Note: I also foolishly thought Minnesota would handily beat Cleveland last week.]
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