Thursday, September 25, 2008

National Friday League, week four

Vikings-Titans Preview

Flip the jerseys around on these teams, and you've still got:

A tough defense built around dominant defensive tackles.
A conservative offense that's willing to grind it out with lots of running.
Multiple running backs, including one that is capable of a giant play on any touch.
Aging QBs that began the season as backups but are now starting for teams with playoff aspirations.
A shaky group of wide receivers.

This game should feature strength against strength: run offense and run defense, but the Vikings are more dynamic in both areas as seen in the rankings below:

rush yards: 4th
rush yards per attempt: 7th
rush yards allowed: 4th
rush yards per attempt alowed: 4th

rush yards: 1st
rush yards per attempt: 1st
rush yards allowed: 1st
rush yards allowed per attempt: 2nd

rush yards: 6th
rush yards per attempt: 15th
rush yards allowed: 10th
rush yards allowed per attempt: 9th

rush yards: 5th
rush yards per attempt: 21st
rush yards allowed: 5th
rush yards allowed per attempt: 15th

It's a tough matchup: on the road, outdoors, against a well-coached team that will keep the game close no matter what. It's not the sort of game we'd expect to see the Vikings win. It's not even the sort of game the Vikings have to win to still win the NFC North. But if they're as good as we hope they are, they can win. Perhaps they even should win.

Is week four too early to anoint anybody or give up on anybody? Of course. Is it annoying when a person asks a question then immediately answers it himself? You tell me. But I still think week four has some interesting things to reveal to us.

Will Buffalo move to 4-0? They play at St. Louis: if the Bills really are a playoff team, this is a game they should win. If they are a middling team, this is a game they will struggle with.

Who is worse: the Bengals or the Browns? Whichever team loses this game is dead, done, finished. And will we see Brady Quinn?

Brett Favre and Kurt Warner: which old man QB will get the win Sunday? I'm starting to believe the Phoenix Cardinals could get to nine wins this season, which means they're a decent team that could lose to anybody.

Are the Green Bay Packers actually good? I don't know yet. They won a close game at home against the Vikes (and regardless of record they usually beat the Vikes there), nearly blew a game to a terrible Lion team, then were dominated in every facet of the game against the Cowboys. You could look at the Packers so far and see a quality team, but they still could turn out to be a middling team. They'll have a good test in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

J.T. O'Sullivan? Really? This could really be happening?

Matt Millen
A completely incompetent leader has been running things since 2001. He's bungled things so badly, people can hardly believe it: how could he be that awful? How could he make so many mistakes? How could me mismanage absolutely everything? But now he's going. Everybody hopes that whoever replaces him does a much, much better job, but then you never know: it sort of depends on who replaces him. Why is this story familiar?

Addendum: see my recent post at the Sven blog for more.

Fantasy Wasteland: Six Teams on Bye
This is a crazy destructive week for some teams; instead of listing the teams on bye, let's list the possible starting players on bye.

Roy Williams, Calvin Johnson, Jon Kitna, Peyton Manning, Joseph Addai, Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, Anthony Gonzalez, Colts Kicker, Ronnie Brown, Anthony Fasano, Randy Moss, Patriots Kicker, Laurence Maroney, Eli Manning, Brandon Jacobs, Giants Defense, Plaxico Burress, Giants Kicker, Matt Hasselbeck, Julius Jones, Seahawks Kicker, Seahawks Defense.

Matt Forte: Fantasy Running Back
So far this year, Matt Forte ranks 1st in rushing attempts, 1st in touches, 4th in rushing yards, and 2nd in yards from scrimmage. Do you have confidence in Forte as a starting fantasy running back? I don't know if we can rely on him to keep this up, but the Bears seem committed to give him the ball, and he's been churning out yards.

The Viking Run Defense: Fantasy Destroyer
No matter who the running back is, it appears that if that running back is facing the Vikings, you should probably put that running back on the bench. Has there ever been a defense that would force a fantasy owner to put a top-5 pick RB on the bench while healthy? I really think the Vikings are that defense.

Coming soon: PV's Strength Listing*
Why does seemingly every football outlet on the web have "Power Rankings"? I suppose it is interesting enough to try rank all the teams: it's a nice midweek football discussion and pointless controversy starter. But why do they all have to be called Power Rankings? And why plural "rankings"? None of this makes entire sense to me.

In an effort to be creative, we'll be trying to counterbalance the tedious monotony of everybody else's "Power Rankings." We'll be doing something very, very different: "Strength Listing."

*won't really be coming soon.

Topps Basketball Cards
When it comes to sports cards, I'm a Topps loyalist: I love their base sets. And I particularly like something they do with their basketball set. Topps includes cards of retired players in their base set design (some Hall of Famer superstars, some just good players you don't expect to see on a throwback card). It's fun to be opening up a pack and coming across cards of folks like Bill Russell, George Gervin, Sidney Moncrief, and others just mixed in with current players.

Matt Bryant
Terribly sad news: Buccaneer kicker Matt Bryant's infant son died. Peace to Bryant and his family.

Wally Hilgenberg (Pat Reusse,, Daily Norseman).

Gus Frerotte and Kerry Collins (Pioneer Press).

Gus Frerotte (Clark Judge).

Madieu Williams (Access Vikings).

The Vikings' and Titans' defensive lines (The Ragnarok).

Steve Young is getting his number retired (Sports Illustrated). What if I told you I secretly think Young was better than Joe Montana? Same reaction as if I told you I'm listening to Idina Menzel's CD while writing this? I'm crazy? C'mon, she played Maureen in Rent and Elphaba in Wicked: I'll give this a chance.

You have to pass well to win in the NFL (Cold, Hard Football Facts).

Josh Howard and the National Anthem (Dave Zirin).

Have a good weekend everybody. Except Packer and Titan fans.

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