The Minnesota Vikings watched as their hopes for the number one seed were dashed on Sunday against the Green Bay Packers. Vikings starters are set to go on Sunday as they are playing for the 2 seed, and Soldier Field has previously given the Vikings fits. No problem though, enter Nathan Peterman.
Coming into the week, online oddsmaker Bovada listed Minnesota as one-point favorites. That is still a notable edge considering home teams are generally considered to be given a three-point advantage. Despite the Bears being among the worst teams in the NFL, they do employ Justin Fields. While he has shown to be more of a runner than passer to this point, the weapons around him are also questionable at best.
The odds began to shift Tuesday when it was uncertain as to whether Fields would start. Minnesota was then pushed up three points, to a four-point favorite. On Wednesday morning it was announced that Nathan Peterman would get the start, and Bovada reacted by making Minnesota more than a touchdown favorite at 7.5 points.
That sort of line shift doesn’t just happen, and it typically is not that drastic based on the availability of a single player. However, that just highlights the struggles that Peterman has faced in the NFL so far in his career.
Buffalo took Peterman as a project in the 5th round of the 2017 NFL draft out of Pittsburgh. After playing in a Week 9 game against the New Orleans Saints that year, he made his first NFL start in Week 10 against the Los Angeles Chargers. Going 6-for-14 with just 66 yards passing would’ve been bad enough, but he combined that with a whopping five interceptions on the day.
Peterman did draw another start for the Bills in Week 13 of that season against the Indianapolis Colts. Buffalo did get a win that day with a 13-7 victory. Peterman started just two games the following year and came to the Bears this season after two seasons as Derek Carr’s backup in Las Vegas.
Chicago didn’t opt for Peterman to factor into their plans this season. Obviously, Fields was the plan as the starter, and former Vikings backup Trevor Siemian was there to be his backup. Siemian was sent to season ending injured reserve earlier this season, and Peterman has thus factored into the equation. He has thrown just six passes, completing three of them, and has 25 yards on the year.
At this point there is no reason for Chicago to attempt securing a win on Sunday. A loss would help their draft positioning, and it’s probably not even feasible to think that Peterman can win against a Vikings team that is only motivated by a 2 seed on the line.
Although Kevin O’Connell may look to rest his stars at some point, he did suggest Monday that the bulk of them would go. Offensive linemen Greg Mancz and Bobby Evans will need to factor in if they’re going to be seen as capable replacements should the time come during a playoff game. Garrett Bradbury won’t be back up front for the Vikings this week, and quarterback Kirk Cousins will only have limited reps to get on page for whoever his starting center will be a week from Sunday.
Regardless of who is in the secondary for Ed Donatell’s group Sunday, this should be a situation to build some momentum and good feelings against a signal caller just begging to be turned over. The Vikings will face a much tougher test in the playoffs, and while we have seen the defensive unit look awful relatively consistently this year, trying to spark some belief and momentum at the expense of Peterman is a solid blueprint.
Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.