Sunday, September 07, 2008

On the Couch, Week One

"On the Couch" is my chance to talk about the non-Viking games and stories each week.

Scores at

On the plus: we get to play the Lions twice

If you didn't watch the game, it's hard to explain just how bad the Lions played defensively in their 34-21 loss to the Falcons. They let a rookie QB in his first game complete 9/13 passes for 161 yards--his first pass was a 62 yard TD pass. They gave up 318 yards rushing: Michael Turner and Jerious Norwood looked incredible. And it's not just the numbers: the Lions couldn't tackle. Shaun Rogers may have been more important to that defense that we ever thought.

The Vikes get to play against that defense twice this year: I expect Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor to have 300-500 rushing yards in those two games.

On the minus: we have to play the Bears twice
I'm not remotely worried about the Bear offense against the Viking defense: Kyle Orton isn't good enough to exploit the Viking pass defense, and though Matt Forte looked good tonight, the Viking run defense is dominating.

But that defense is tough, dominating Indianapolis in a 29-13 win. Every completion, every positive run, every first down, looks and feels like an accomplishment against the Bear defense. That team is talented: they were a 13-3 NFC champion in 2006, and they swept the 13-3 Packers in 2007. They Vikes swept the Bears last season, but both games were very close. Both Viking-Bear matchups should again be close this year, but they could go either way.

Now is the Sunday night of our discontent
Are you looking over your fantasy team's numbers, frantically conceiving trades that could transform your team?

As some fellow Hazelweirders can attest, so have I. But there's no reason to panic if your fantasy team sucked this week. The typical statements apply: it's too early, it could just be one bad week.

But you also might have had a bad week because your good players played well, but didn't happen to score TDs this week. For example, I had Brandon Jacobs with 124 yards from scrimmage and Calvin Johnson with 107 yards receiving. Neither scored a TD, and so neither had a big impact on my weekly fantasy numbers (I'm counting on 200 yards and 5 TDs for Adrian Peterson Monday Night). But each played well, suggesting to me that they are good players who are going to play well. They'll get their touchdowns eventually.

The year of the rookie running back
Doesn't it seem like half the teams in the league are using a rookie RB prominently? Matt Forte in Chicago, Chris Johnson in Tennessee, Jonathan Stewart in Carolina, Rashard Mendenhall in Pittsburgh, Felix Jones in Dallas, Ray Rice in Baltimore, Steve Slaton in Houston, Kevin Smith in Detroit, even Jamaal Charles in Kansas City, Tim Hightower in Arizona, and we haven't even seen Darren McFadden yet.

NFC Rising?
The defending Super Bowl champ resides in the NFC, and today some NFC teams expected to be mediocre went on the road to beat some AFC teams expected to be good, like Chicago beating Indianapolis and Carolina beating San Diego. Dallas beat Cleveland, but Buffalo creamed Seattle (as I expected: for some reason, when I thought of this game I couldn't shake the memory of the Steelers shutting out the Seahawks last season).

Viking fans: how Brett Favre will continue to ruin your Sundays
I don't know whether it was a decision by the local affiliate or the national network, but I'm guessing Brett Favre was the reason a division matchup between teams that combined for five wins last year was televised instead of a division matchup between teams that combined for 21 wins last year. In hindsight, the Jaguars-Titans game was a bummer for anybody who enjoys offensive football, but the Jets-Dolphins game drove me to primarily watch the Lions-Falcons game. And I'm guessing we're going to be treated to a lot more New York Jet games over the course of the autumn.

Michael Silver at Yahoo! says Tom Brady may be out for the year. Football is a violent game, injuries are common, and star players have missed seasons in their prime before. I can't help but think of Joe Montana. He led the 49ers to championships in '88 and '89, he was MVP in '89 and '90, and he was out with injury for all of 1991 (and by the time he came back, it was Steve Young's team). It's bad for Brady, bad for the Patriots, and bad for the NFL to lose one of its stars. But it happens and we move on. Now, if Brady does miss the season, who else thinks it is inevitable that Bill Simmons will suggest the 2008 champion deserves an asterisk?

Donovan McNabb (and the entire Eagle team) looked dominant in their 38-3 win over the Rams. reminded me of McNabb's incredibly dominant game against the Lions last season. Today and that day, McNabb killed the opponent by completing a lot of long passes. But last season McNabb was a little shaky game-to-game, often completing a low percentage of his passes for low yards per attempt and yards per completion as the Eagles struggled to score points.

So we'll wait and find out whether McNabb is now fully recovered from his injuries and ready to light the league on fire, or whether he'll be inconsistent but have the occasion dominant game featuring lots of deep completions.

So if a player had a religious experience, and converted to a new religion, and legally changed his name because of his authentic religious experience, would he then have a "financial obligation" to the makers of jerseys with his old name on them?

Or if a player got married, and in a non-traditional (but becoming more common) move changed his last name in some way, he would have "financial obligations"?

Or what of the special teams player for whom few commercial jerseys are produced?


  1. Anonymous8:04 AM

    I was impressed by the Bears offense against Indy's defense. They moved the ball at will. Really dominant. The Bears, sadly, are back.


  2. Watching the game last night, I just thought the Colts looked out of sorts. Their whole game is predicated on Manning being able to pick apart defenses in a methodical manner, even their defense. When they get behind, the defense can't attack like it does best. As Manning gets into more of a groove, I think the Colts will get a lot better. And give the ball to Addai more than 12 times a game. I didn't draft a fucking part-time running back with the #5 pick, pastor Tony Dungy!

  3. I'm a diehard Colts fan, so it pains me to say this, but next week, in MN, it's going to be a bloodbath. The Vikings are going to destroy Indy. The Colts have two weaknesses right now, the first being their offensive line with Jeff Saturday out, and the second being their run defense. So, the Vikings pass rush is going to have a field day, and Peterson could net 150 yards on the ground. Ugly ugly ugly.