Thursday, October 29, 2009


Vikings-Packers Preview
Minnesota Vikings
Green Bay Packers
Last Matchup: Vikings 30, Packers 23

The first matchup between these teams featured some defensive performances on both sides that will be difficult to repeat. The Packers held Adrian Peterson to 2.2 yards per rush attempt, and stripped the ball from him, returning it for a touchdown: I don’t believe they can stop him so effectively twice in one season. The Vikings sacked Aaron Rodgers eight times, including a forced fumble and one for a safety, and harried him all game long: though the Viking pass rush has been consistently good this season, it’s hard to envision that sort of success again.

The anomalies in this matchup go further. In their previous three games against the Packers, the Vikes have allowed four non-offensive touchdowns (a punt return, an interception return and a punt return, and fumble recovery return). It’s improbable for the Packers to keep that sort of run going, too, and the Viking defense has been successful at limiting the Packers’ offensive points. If the Vikings can avoid turnovers and cover punt returns well, they have a good chance at controlling the game.

The Packer offense seems successful at connecting on long passes: Rodgers averages 14.1 yards per completion, and Donald Driver (17.7) and Greg Jennings (16.2) each have high yards per reception. The Viking safeties Madieu Williams and Tyrell Johnson have struggled, but the Cover-2 scheme seems designed to prevent long passing plays. I think if the Vikes prevent the big play and force the Packers to try sustain long drives, they’ll be successful at stopping drives.

It’s pretty rare for the Vikes to sweep the Packers, and it is usually under special circumstances. They did it in ’98, when they were particularly awesome, and they did it in ’05, when the Packers were particularly terrible.

It’s a critical game, obviously. A win puts the Vikes 2.5 games ahead of the Packers with a season sweep; a loss puts the Vikes .5 games ahead with a season split. Either way, it’s worth noting that after the bye, the Vikes play three straight games in Thunderdome, against the Lions, Seahawks, and Bears. This is a big rivalry game, but the game won’t make or break the season for us.

Good or Bad?
Naufahu Tahi and Jim Kleinsasser have combined for 11 receptions this season. I scream into the abyss every time I see a pass targeted to either of these players—neither is a playmaker of any sort. On the other hand, the fact that they catch some passes might be an indicator that Brett Favre has been willing to check down rather than force something deep. Neither are generally a first option on any passing play, and a pass directed toward either usually amounts to slightly better than throwing it away. So maybe every time Favre throws to Tahi or Kleinsasser, we should be recognizing that it was NOT a pass he threw into double-coverage.

George Costanza and Me
(cross-posted at That’s how we do it in the T.C.)

In one episode of Seinfeld, George is on the verge of success, which fills him with anxiety and dread. He frets to his therapist, “God would never let me be successful. He’ll kill me first. He’ll never let me be happy.” “I thought you didn’t believe in God,” the therapist says. “I do for the bad things!” George replies.

I feel personally connected to the Minnesota Vikings. Their shortcomings are my shortcomings. When they fail, I feel I have failed, that I have opened myself up personally to the ridicule of the masses. When they win, I feel euphoric joy, but I don’t feel pride, exactly. I don’t think their strengths are my strengths, nor their successes my successes.

When people insult the Vikings, I feel they are insulting me personally. But that doesn’t mean that I consider praise for the Vikings praise for me. George Costanza believes in God only for the bad things. The Vikings are me, but only when they lose.

Other Week Eight Games of Note
Week Eight Schedule

Broncos-Ravens. The Ravens are a better football team. I think.

49ers-Colts. In the Hazelweird Fantasy League, I start Manning, Wayne, Addai, the Colt Defense, plus Frank Gore (and if Bernard Berrian is out, add Austin Collie). I think I ought to pay attention.

Giants-Eagles. The NFC East looks like a three-team race, so these head-to-head matchups between those three teams are really interesting.

Falcons-Saints. I spend an awful lot of my time thinking about the Saints and rooting for them to fail.

Sports Illustrated’s Andrew Perloff has been irritating me. His “Against the Grain” columns claim they’re going to go “in the opposite direction of your average pro football analysis.” It sounds like he’s going to be counterintuitive for the sake of being counterintuitive, but the columns aren’t even that useful: the commentary is usually pretty mundane. I find that he primarily makes claims, but that he doesn’t offer much analysis or evidence in support of those claims (which makes his work rather like “your average pro football analysis”).

My least favorite column this season was his post debunking myths about wide receivers: he presents a series of unsourced straw man propositions, then proceeds to debunk these easily debunkable propositions. It’s not just that the straw man propositions are easily debunkable; I’m also doubtful that some of these propositions are widely circulated or believed.

In the same column, Perloff also invents a claim that apparently “everyone said,” then proceeds to disagree with it (his argument of disagreement is extremely oversimplified and, in my opinion, mostly wrong, but I won’t get into that now). Generalizations are often a sign of shoddy writing: attributing a view to “everyone” is usually a mistake, and disagreeing with a fantasy “everyone” is sometimes a sign of a writer who thinks he’s some edgy voice crying in the wilderness, when usually he’s just not working hard.

I may be too hard on Perloff: during a semester I get accustomed to evaluating student writing, so I read very critically. But I also think it’s Perloff’s “against the grain” tone that gets to me, as if he’s saying “Hey, look at me! I’m saying something different!”

An annual reminder
We're all just Linus waiting for our Great Pumpkin.

Peyton Manning, in his prime ( By the way, my primarily Viking-focused readers: I appreciate the patience with which you tolerate my constant praise for Peyton Manning.

Football Outsiders’ DVOA: Packers #4, Vikings #8

How the lousy teams are inflating opponents’ passing numbers (18 to 88).

Mike Tanier reads Monday Night Jihad so you don't have to (FO).

I thought about linking to this Onion article, because it was sports-related and funny. But then I thought this Onion article was funnier. And then I thought this Onion article was truth-through-satire and is more important. So I'm linking to them all.

Timberwolves, suckers!
You may know me as a neurotic and obsessive Viking blogger, but when I was growing up, I thought about basketball mostly all the time, and so I’ve watched a lot of very awful Minnesota Timberwolves teams. I’ll follow any Wolves team. This year I’ll be going to a bunch of Wolves games; I kind of like the Target Center and the area around it, and I fell into a bunch of free tickets for the season. So, Jonny Flynn, suckers!

I’m renaming months what they are. October is now called “Candy.” It is always around, and I am powerless to resist it.

Have a good Halloween weekend, everybody. Except Packer, Bear, and Saint fans.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Coming Off the Ledge: Steelers 27, Vikings 17

As a fan, this week went just as I expected it to. All week long, I just assumed the Vikings were going to lose to the Steelers. I was doing pre-emptive consolation (at 6-1 they're still in great shape, if you're going to lose a game it's the AFC road games you can most afford), looking forward to the game but not optimistic. And yet I knew that whatever assumptions I brought into the game, once it started I'd be fully invested, and if they end up losing, I'll be emotionally deflated. I'll mull too much on how a few particular plays could have changed the outcome (like a terrible--TERRIBLE!--call by the officials that negated what would have been a go-ahead touchdown, or an interception on a screen play that bounced off Chester Taylor's hands when the team was already in range for a game-tying field goal attempt). I'll be encouraged about some things that went well (the defense played much, MUCH better than anticipated: the pass rush was effective and the secondary played as well as they could under the circumstances, really. Since the impression that stuck from the previous week was the defense being destroyed in the fourth quarter against Baltimore, it was good to be reminded that our defense is actually good), but mostly I'll be frustrated and empty-feeling.

Hence a lousy week. No clouds of heaven trailing our steps, but anxious frustration, disappointed sadness, and impatience for the next game.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


It has already been a thrilling season. Goodness, think about it. The Vikings won a game on a 32 yard touchdown pass and catch with seconds remaining on the clock. They beat the Ravens 33-31 on a game of runs that ended with an opponent's missed field goal. And the Vikings have already beaten the Green Bay Packers once, meaning there's at least that satisfaction from 2009. There are 10 more games left, plus playoffs? The Vikings have already given me loads of visceral thrills.

Vikings-Steelers Preview
The Pittsburgh Steelers
The Minnesota Vikings

I think this is the toughest game on the Vikings’ schedule. A team with serious Super Bowl aspirations shouldn’t consider any game unwinnable, but this is the game that even in the offseason I could most easily see the Vikings struggling in (am I so damaged I’ll never trust the Vikes in an outdoor road game?), and Antoine Winfield’s injury only makes it more difficult. But let’s think positive. What things can the Vikings do to defeat the Steelers?

Tackle Ben Roethlisberger
Roethlisberger has a career 9% sack rate, a very high rate. The Vikes have been rushing the passer well, so they could disrupt Steelers’ drives by sacking Roethlisberger. But just as Roethlisberger takes too many sacks because he holds onto the ball a long time, so to does he often hold the ball long enough for receivers to get open downfield. I’m fairly confident the Vikings’ defensive linemen will pressure Roethlisberger; however, it’s also highly possible that Roethlisberger will evade the rush and complete devastating passes downfield. They’ll need to make sure when they rush him, they’re able to corner him and tackle him. It would also help if they could strip the ball from him.

Protect Brett Favre
For three weeks, the Viking pass protection looked like a mess. For the last three weeks, it looked superb. I don’t know if that is the strength of the opponents, improving play of new OL starters John Sullivan and Phil Loadholt, or Favre’s comfort with the team making his reads better. The Steelers have some ferocious pass rushers and an aggressive defensive coordinator, so it won’t be easy. However, the Vikings have faced several 3-4ish defenses this season, so they should at least be in practice for how to face the Steelers' 3-4.

Make big plays on offense
I think it will be hard to sustain very many long, dink-and-dunk drives against the Steeler defense this week. However, the Vikings have playmakers in the passing game and running game to make 20+ yard plays, and those are the types of plays that can lead the Vikes to points against Pittsburgh.

It needs to be said: I love Brett Favre
When I think of my life as a sports fan, I now realize Favre has been the dominating presence. Always. I started watching football regularly around ’92 or ’93, when Favre first really emerged. I was watching football heavily when the Packers rose to the top of the league. When I went to college in Wisconsin, my Viking fandom got bolstered by hatred of the Packers. I think this all peaked around ’03 and ’04, when the Vikings and Packers were tightly competitive for a division title, and each year the Vikes lost the division in unmatchably dramatic fashion.

It seems this is the only way this could all end: watching Favre quarterback the Vikings, rooting for him, starting to love him. I really now see him as a Viking. The game winning drive against the 49ers made that happen; the excellent game against the Packers confirmed it. This is how reconciliation happens. And in my wildest fantasies, I hope this is how the Vikings will finally win a Super Bowl.

Favre gives me the faith that the Vikings won’t underachieve on the road against bad opponents. I watch the games slightly more relaxed than I used to: I feel the Vikes now have a little bigger margin of error.

For her birthday, I bought my wife a pink Brett Favre Vikings jersey. When my toddler plays with a toy telephone, I ask whom he is calling; “Brett Favre,” he says, and I do nothing to discourage this. I can now enjoy Favre highlights, can appreciate his statistics, and I even like Brett Favre football cards again.

I now bristle at the criticism against Favre, dismissing the critics, believing they don't quite get what he's doing or what makes him great or why he's going to make it all season long.

It's happened. Brett Favre is a Viking, and I embrace him as a Viking. I don't only root for him to do well, but I love watching him play.

And on the rational level
Most of my doubts about Favre have now been proven wrong. There were a lot of things I underestimated when considering how he’d perform as the Vikes’ QB—the main one being how fast he gets rid of the ball. He reads the defense extremely quickly, making a fast decision and throwing the ball with a very sharp release. The speed with which he acts after the snap sets him apart. He's been very good on third down, he's shown a lot of arm strength, he offers the Vikings a legitimate passing threat in the red zone to make sure they finish drives, and he's very effective in a two-minute offense when the team needs to move the ball quickly. He's been taking aggressive shots downfield, and in particular he's helped Sidney Rice elevate his game.

My bigger doubts, however, were about how his body would hold up in December, and whether he’d treat us to a disappointing performance in the playoffs. While those doubts haven’t been proven wrong yet, after seeing him play, I’m much less worried about those things than I was before.

My Viking Dreams
Me: Last night I dreamed that the Vikings won the NFC Championship game and I was jumping around like crazy celebrating.
My Wife: So even in your dreams, the Vikings don’t win the Super Bowl.
Me: Well, there was that dream when I was carried away to another plane of existence where time didn’t pass for me but it passed for everybody else, and I found out that while I was gone the Vikings won the Super Bowl.

Thinking End Game
Are you already following the NFC thinking playoffs? I’m looking at NFC teams to see who could be a threat in January (there are a handful of teams the Vikings are capable of defeating or losing to at that point), and I follow the standings hoping the Vikes can secure a first-round bye and get as many games as they can in Thunderdome.

And I feel a bit of desperation for this year's playoffs, since it certainly feels like if the Vikes are going to win the Super Bowl, it's this season they need to do it.

On Talking About Favre
As the all-time leader in both touchdown passes and interceptions, one could argue that Favre has made more positive plays than any quarterback in NFL history, and that Favre has made more negative plays than any quarterback in NFL history. His defenders, I think, often go too far to downplay, excuse, or ignore the negative plays. His detractors, I think, sometimes exaggerate the negative plays. And this occurs in a media environment where for years many in the (especially television) media heaped irrational gushing on Favre, so that a large and loud backlash against Favre and the media coverage of him developed (especially on the internet), with critics feeling justified in exaggerating the criticism because of all the irrational gushing, to the extent that today the criticism might be more overblown that the praise.

It’s extremely difficult to have a reasonable, objective discussion about Favre. There are statistical metrics that can try place Favre in his proper place, of course, but we also must decide how to interpret and use statistical facts. With Favre, it’s always going to be subjective, with the debaters focusing on (and finding) the available data they need to prove (mostly to themselves) the point they already believed before starting the debate. Discussions on Favre become subjective talk-past sessions, with the debaters using different standards and language and even worldviews to prove their points.

Players I’ve been enjoying
Sidney Rice
How thrilling is it to see Sidney Rice develop into a starting WR? He showed promise as a rookie and was slowed by injury in his second year. Now he’s versatile in the routes he can run, very athletic, a reliable playmaker. Whatever happens at quarterback in the future, it looks like we'll have a trio of Rice, Percy Harvin, and Bernard Berrian for a while, so that should be fun.

Jared Allen
How lucky are we? Allen is one of the most dominant pass rushers in the league, just a terror when he gets on. He uses quickness, speed, strength, and technique to constantly harass quarterbacks. His burst off the line is so quick, and his ability to disrupt an offense requires offenses to scheme around him (with a lot of screen passes, with a lot of double teams). It’s interesting to watch how an offense game plans to avoid a dominant, disruptive player.

Antoine Winfield
Winfield has been making giant defensive plays for the Vikes since 2004, and it becomes easy to take his brilliance for granted. Watching Karl Paymah against the Ravens reminds us not to do so.

Kevin Williams
Dominant force, and has been for years.

Brett Favre
Just keep it up. Just keep everything up, right on through February.

Fantasy Box
I spent all summer excited about Steven Jackson, and he was my most expensive pick in the Hazelweird auction. However, it took me all of one week to realize it would be wise to accept a trade offer of Peyton Manning for Jackson (with a few other particulars). The Rams looked so bad that I thought even if I’m right about Jackson’s yards, he won’t have many TD opportunities; Drew Brees’ six touchdown day made me suspect that it will take an elite QB to contend for a fantasy title this season. Obviously I'm happy with this trade.

In the summer we are all privy to the same information and analysis, but your fantasy success can depend largely on in-season roster moves. Flexibility, insight, timing, luck, and a little bit of guts during the season might matter as much as your draft preparation.

By the way, in both my leagues I'm now starting the Indianapolis Colts Defense. If I'm going to be in leagues with other Viking fans, I won't be able to construct an all-Viking lineup; I'm compensating by saturating my rosters with as many Colts as is reasonable.

Packer fans
Michael Rosenberg of SI and Bill Simmons of ESPN offer sympathy for Packer fans for being forced to see their one-time icon lighting them up for the hated rival.

As somebody who has entirely changed his attitude toward Favre because of my own team loyalty, I do understand Packer fans that turn on Favre. However, Favre gave Packer fans a massive amount of pleasure over the years. He gave them so many big moments and so many wins, including two NFC championships and one Super Bowl victory. Do they really want to abandon all that because Favre is playing for the Vikings for one year? They got to see their favorite team win a championship in large part due to Favre. If you root for a sports team, what else can you possibly want other than to see that team win a championship? Isn't that the most wonderful thing you can experience? And wouldn't that, along with 16 years of effort and success, be enough credit to make up for the debit of going over to the rival?

I can assure you, if a quarterback ever leads the Vikings to a Super Bowl win, he'll have to do a lot more to the Vikings and Viking fans than Favre has done to the Packers and Packer fans to make me turn on him.

Viking fans
Is it just me, or do network cameras (particularly ESPN and CBS, who don't cover too many Viking games) show more camera shots of Viking fans than they do for most teams? I always enjoy seeing fans decked out in purple paint and all varieties of Viking horns. I always smirk. "We're an odd bunch," I think. And then I feel guilty for not donning horns and face paint when I'm sitting in my living room watching the game.

“Luck” and Competition
In reaction to the Vikings’ victory over the Ravens, some reaction has suggested the Vikings were “lucky.” After all, they won because the opponent missed a game winning field goal. But let’s explore this concept of luck.

The outcome of any competition features the positive plays made by the winner, and the negative plays made by the loser. The Vikings-Ravens game featured many positive plays from both teams, and many negative plays from both teams. When you assess the game from beginning to end, the result is a very close contest that could go either way. The Ravens made a mistake of execution at the end, which gave the victory to the Vikings. But any close game could go either way dependent on a few plays at any given time. Do the negative plays made by the losing team make any closely contested game a “lucky” win for the winner? I don’t think so.

One problem is that many football fans, I think, view the kicking game as peripheral, if not external, to actual football. We spend most of our time talking about offenses and defenses, and sure we acknowledge the importance of special teams. But we tend to think of the kickers as something else, not quite a part of our assessment of the team’s quality. But of course that’s ridiculous: kicking is an important part of the game. In the Vikings-Ravens game, the Viking kicking game was good. Ryan Longwell made four out of four field goal attempts; in other words, the Vikings made positive plays in the kicking game. Steven Hauschka missed a 44 yard field goal as time expired; in other words, the Ravens made a negative play in the kicking game. I’d compare it to basketball: we understand that free throws, while uncontested, are a natural, essential part of the game of basketball. Well aren’t field goal attempts (which actually are contested) a natural, essential part of the game of football?

If the Ravens miss a field goal in the first quarter, it doesn’t make the Vikings’ win appear lucky. If another Raven player—a running back, a quarterback, a linebacker, an offensive lineman, anyone—makes an error at the end, it might not make the Vikings’ win appear lucky. I mean, really, have you ever heard anybody say something like “The team was lucky to win because the opponent’s linebacker missed that tackle at the end”? The Raven kicker failed to execute an important kick at the end of the game. That is a reasonable event of a competition.

But did the Ravens make such an egregious, unlikely error that it taints the Vikings’ victory? Not necessarily. Thus far in 2009, NFL kickers are 68 for 97 on field goal attempts from 40-49 yards (scroll down), roughly 70%. That’s a high percentage, but it’s not a gimme. Certainly an NFL kicker should make that field goal, but it’s not an outlandish outcome for him to miss it.

And let’s spin it the other way. Do you consider the Ravens “unlucky” to have lost? When a team loses because its field goal kicker misses the game winner, I don’t usually consider that team unlucky. They had a weakness on their team, and it cost them the game. It’s a close loss, one that has to hurt, but it’s a loss based on their own failure of execution. I think we generally understand that the Raven defense struggled most of the game, and the Raven offense struggled until the fourth quarter (just as the Viking offense played well most of the game, and the defense played pretty well until the fourth quarter—and furthermore, if anything we could consider the Ravens lucky because Antoine Winfield and Benny Sapp were injured and they got to throw a bunch of passes Karl Paymah’s way).

So were the Vikings “lucky”? That depends on what you mean by luck. Certainly at the very end of the game, the outcome was determined not primarily by the Vikings, but by the opponent: if you rely on something outside yourself for your own success, you are lucky if you win. And if you consider beating the odds of probability “luck,” then the final field goal made the Vikings lucky: the probability of an NFL kicker missing that kick is approximately 30%. But if by “lucky” you mean “fluky,” or “undeserved,” or “unearned,” or “tainted,” I think you’d be wrong.

Luck is a part of competition, but so too is execution and failure of execution a part of competition.

During the last month, I whittled down my consistent football reading to a few key sites: Football Outsiders (the most extensive and detailed football analysis source, with a combination of detailed analysis and close observation of the games), Sports Illustrated NFL page (great football coverage, though some mediocre writers that continue to annoy me), Pro Football Talk Rumor Mill (I don't care for the commentary, but it's a quick place to check for any big news), blog (good statistical analysis that offers historical perspective), the Star Tribune Viking page (the new format annoys me, but I still check it), and Bill Simmons' Friday picks column (guaranteed to irritate me at least once per column--is it just me or is he openly sexist?--but still an entertaining article I look forward to reading). There are other good sites that I would check periodically (being away from blogging about the team, I actually avoided reading Viking blogs, fearing getting sucked into spirited debates that I couldn't spare the energy for), but these are now the sites I consider my essential football reading.

I know where the wild things are: they live in the shadow of the end zone (PFT).

One thing academics do is what I call the hippo in the doorway. If you really need to get a hippo through the doorway but it doesn't quite fit, you can just jam it on in, even if things get distorted. Academics sometimes take the theories and methods of their particular field of expertise, attempt to apply those theories and methods to some aspect of society outside their field, and claim to have found insight through the process. Sometimes this process works and provides insights into both the subject of inquiry and the theories and methods applied. And sometimes, the process feels like jamming a hippo through a doorway. Kenny Smith's religious interpretation of football at Religion Dispatches sometimes feels like the hippo in the door--yet his analysis is based on specific, concrete fan behavior at games, and thus I think his interpretation offers insight. Certainly I feel something like emotional transcendence at various points throughout the football season.

My toddler has been housebound for a month in a cast that went from belly to toe. On his first weekend of liberation, we'll do our best to spend most of the weekend out and about. We'll make it back to the house by noon on Sunday, of course.

Have a good weekend, everybody. Except Steeler, Packer, Bear, and Saint fans. Yep, I've added Saint fans: they're not the only NFC competition, but they're the strongest.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Ochocinco vs. MN Secondary

I was stuck in Missouri over the weekend and missed the game, but I did see this interesting exchange on Twitter today when I got back.

It's still two months away, but Ochocinco is already getting in some trash talk to the Vikings.

Chad sent this proposal to Bryant McKinnie on Twitter, and McKinnie replied with this.

I think the rest of America will be cheering for Minnesota's secondary on December 13th. But I'm guessing Chad will pull a 50 Cent on us and not stick with his promise.

Oh, and Kansas City fans were happy with their overtime loss to the Cowboys last week. It feels good to be 6-0, doesn't it?

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Trailing Clouds of Heaven: Vikings 30 - Packers 23!

What a game! It truly was an intense game that was filled with great plays by both offenses. As I sat and watched the game I was keyed on watching the offensive lines vs. defensive lines and those battles were won by the Vikings on both sides. Favre was not sacked at all and at one point had over 7 seconds to complete a pass to Dugan and that is exciting to see. On the other end Jared Allen was motoring all over the field chasing after Rodgers. With that said, it is a great start to the season for the Vikings 4-0 and traveling to St. Louis next. Here are my thoughts on players/plays in the game.

Jared Allen

So I was texting my friend Kiah during the game and towards the end he texted me this questions: "Better game/ Favre or Allen?" Now I had just talked to Joe last night about how I am apathetic towards Favre as the QB of the Vikes. He really doesn't evoke emotion in me either negative or positive. So it may come as a surprise that I believe Favre had a better game. The reason I think this is because Favre was going up strength against strength. Favre did what he did against the newly revamped and aggressive defense of the Packers and to not be sacked and to methodically spread the ball around and do what he did has to be appreciated. Allen statistically had a career night and so it would stand to reason that one should say he had the better game, but really folks this is what I expected Allen to do. With Clifton out we all knew that Allen was going to have a big night and the fact that he got to not only go against the 2nd stringer but then the 3rd stringer makes it a little less "flashy" in my opinion. Favre had a great game against strength while Allen did it (albeit impressively and huge with the forced fumble, safety, and 4.5 sacks) against backups.

Sidney Rice

Somehow I am impressed that he could have such a good game seemingly without making it feel like he was dominant (but maybe that is just me as a Sidney Rice fan). Either way he was impressive, but the thing that impressed me the most about Sidney Rice were two things that had nothing to do with his WR position.

First, in the wildcat formation play (which by the way was exciting to see in action) Sidney Rice ends up with the ball and is meant to pass. He looks and doesn't see an opening and so he looks to run but that too is going to lead to a loss of yards and so Sidney Rice has the presence of mind to throw the ball away. That is huge (at least to me it is)!

Second, Sidney Rice went up and snagged two beautifully kicked and placed on-side kicks by Mason Crosby. Mason Crosby kicked those balls perfectly and if not for the superb aggressiveness, hands, and jumping ability of Sidney Rice the game may have ended differently.

Offensive lines

The Vikings pass protection was amazing last night. Their run blocking was okay in my estimation, but that could have to do with the play calling all trying to go outside (or AD pushing it outside all the time). Really some of AD's best runs were play calls towards the middle in which the Packers D-Line won the battle, but AD was able to bounce off his own guys and push it outside to gain some good yardage.

The Packers offensive line struggled to protect Rodgers (although in some of those cases Rodgers didn't exactly help them by holding on to the ball a bit too long at times). The importance of Clifton to that offense is obvious.

Aaron Rodgers

Is a great QB. The only thing I can say about his play last night that could have been improved was sensing the pressure and throwing the ball away. I really believe that if Rodgers would have had the protection that Favre had we could have seen a far different outcome to this game.

Cedric Griffin and Antoine Winfield

I feel like Cedric Griffin had a good night. Here is why I think that. I hardly saw him. In the past games I watched I always saw Cedric Griffin, but last night I didn't seem him as much and to me that means that he is doing his job in coverage.

Antoine Winfield. How can you not love this guy as a Vikings' fan. He is a great run-stopping CB who can cover and tackle. I feel lucky to be able to watch him.

Bernard Berrian

Nice to seem him catch the ball after the case of the "dropsies" last week and very exciting to see him involved productively in the offense.

Percy Harvin

He didn't do anything spectacular, but you can just tell that this team believes in him. He is going to be an exciting part of this offense.

Concerns going Forward

The linebacking corp/Safeties in coverage against Tight Ends. The 2nd game in a row that a tight end has burned the Vikings D big time and that to me is a concern.

My other concern is the ability of the defense (players and coordinator) to fill the gaps so that teams don't exploit Jared Allen's side with screen passes. The Packers were successful with these short screen passes and to me that is another concern of the linebacking corp and safeties.

Final Thoughts by Pink

Yeah, I am just doing it to annoy some people, but imagine with me this being sung by Packers' fans to Brett Favre (give me some leniency here):

You took my hand, you showed me how
You promised me you'd be around
Uh huh, that's right

I took your words and I believed
In everything you said to me
Yeah huh, that's right

If someone said three years from now
You'd be long gone
I'd stand up and punch them out
Cause they're all wrong

I know better
Cause you said forever
And ever, who knew?

Remember when we were such fools
And so convinced and just too cool
Oh no, no no

I wish I could touch you again
I wish I could still call you a friend
I'd give anything

When someone said count your blessings now
For they're long gone
I guess I just didn't know how
I was all wrong

But they knew better
Still you said forever and ever
Who knew? Yeah yeah

I'll keep you locked in my head
Until we meet again
Until we, until we meet again
And I won't forget you my friend
What happened?

If someone said three years from now
You'd be long gone
I'd stand up and punch them out
Cause they're all wrong

And that last kiss I'll cherish
Until we meet again
And time makes it harder
I wish I could remember

But I keep your memory
You visit me in my sleep
My darling, who knew?

My darling
My darling, who knew?
My darling I miss you
My darling, who knew?

Who knew?

Enjoy life. We won and the Packers lost. Elation for the week.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Review = Safety. Vikings 30 - Packers 14.
This review is going to be huge....could the turnover turn into a safety?
You know what I like to see...the wildcat with Sidney Rice having the presence to throw it away.
Huge stop on 4th. Go Vikes.
Huge 3rd down stop by the Vikes. Need a huge stop on 4th down if they go after the TO.
Jared Allen is continuing the pressure.
Favre gets 20 minutes to complete the pass to Dugan and then seals it with TD to Berrian. Vikes 28 - Pack 14
Halftime....2nd half keys: Packers protecting Rodgers and Vikings continue to pressur Rodgers.
Allen continues to get pressure.
Penalties save the turnover and AD delivers. Vikes 21 - Packers 14.
Beautiful pass and catch between Favre and Harvin.
Favre and Rice are connecting huge tonight. I hope that continues to develop.
Question of Forward Momentum stopped on that Peterson loss of ball to Matthews. Hopefully the Peterson grimace doesn't mean major hurt. Vikes 14 - Pack 14
More pressure by Allen...keep it coming Vikes.
Favre to Rice. Vikes 14 - Pack 7.
Big 4th down conversion by the Pack off the bounce. Think it was a catch after the replay. Huge int by Winfield.
Big play by the Packers. Too much of a pocket for Rodgers. Vikes 7 - Pack 7
Nice pass by Favre to Shiatzu. Vikes 7 - Pack 0.
Huge block by Tahi on 3rd down.
Huge sack and forced fumble by Jared Allen. Go Vikes!
First drive and the Packers offensive line is holding steady giving just enough time to Rodgers. As the game goes on though I think that is going to change.
Get ready for a myriad of posts via text posting. Live blog and unfortunately each post will be a separate entry I think.
Get ready for a myriad of posts via text posting. Live blog and unfortunately each post will be a separate entry I think.
Testing Mobile Posting

Tonight's The Night

Ponder the words of Pink my friends:

"Well tonight's the night; I'm gonna get it right; Gonna hit the scene with my friends; Tonight's the night, I'm a feel alright; Feel alright again."

For all of you at work (like me) have fun suffering through the workday in anticipation waiting for the great showdown tonight.

I am going to a bar to watch the game. Reflections on the game will be posted tomorrow morning.

Holy Hitter

Thursday, October 01, 2009

National Friday League (Week 4)

This is the week when both Vikings' and Packers' fans will be sitting down to watch the heated rivalry and each fan base will look at the screen, shake their head, and rub their eyes to make sure they are seeing things right. Questions will run through the heads of many: Are we in Bizzaro world? Is this a dream? Then everyone will snap out of their momentary relapse and remember that the year is 2009 and yes Brett Favre is lining up behind center in Purple and Gold and not those cheese-head colors.

Welcome to reality everyone...the time has come where Brett Favre is playing in a Vikings vs. Packers game and Vikings fans are hoping he does great. Everyone in the world will be happy though that John Madden is not announcing the game, because that is a love fest that not even the most die-hard Vikings' fan could handle. Well on with the show!

Vikings vs. Packers Preview

Last year when the Vikings played their rivals in the Thunderdome they had an old veteran QB who did almost all he could to cause them to lose the game. Old Gus did throw for 2 TDs, but he also threw for 3 ints and the game came down to an Adrian Peterson 29 yd TD run with 2:22 left and then the luck of the dome when Mason Crosby was unable to convert a 52 yard field goal. Adrian Peterson ran wild that day and neared 200 yds rushing, but what can we expect in this years matchup?

Somethings Stay the Same and Somethings Don't

Once again the Vikings host their rivals and lineup an old veteran QB behind center, but as much as things are the same they are also drastically different. This old veteran QB has won a Super Bowl; this old veteran QB has the most career TD passes; this old veteran QB is Favre (thankfully not Frerotte). This game will be billed as just that: The Reunion of Brett Favre and the Packers this time as rivals on the football field. However, this game is going to hinge on a few different things.

Adrian Peterson

AD has done well against the Packers and it is Monday night so we have to expect that he will be amped up and that usually translates into some big games for him. With an improved threat in the passing game, will Peterson find more open gaps to accelerate and attack? Last year at the Thunderdome the Packers were without Nick Barnett and there is no denying that the effects that had on the running game were drastic, with Barnett back will AD's impact be diminished slightly?

Vikings Offense vs. Packers Defense

Yeah the Packers D has allowed teams to score on them, but guess what they have caused turnovers (7 ints to be exact and 3 forced fumbles) and are +8 in turnover margin (I believe, but don't quote me and I am too lazy to look it up) which means that this is a defense to take seriously. The new 3-4 scheme that Dom Capers has brought in has brought some new aggressiveness to this defense, but I think the advantage here lies with the Vikings. The Packers weakness is against the run and that is the Vikings strength (despite holding Forte to 55 yards on 25 carries in week 1, the Packers still rank 23rd overall against the run after facing Cedric Benson and Steven Jackson). I expect that as usual Farve will be expected to manage the game and take the opportunities given, but the focus will be on getting AD the ball and letting him do his thing. Will the Packer D respond? Aaron Kampman got his first sack last week in his new LB role, can he pressure Favre and force some bad decisions?

The Real Battle: The Vikings O-Line vs. The Packers O-Line

Call me crazy, but I honestly believe that this game will be won by the team whose offensive line does a better job protecting their QB. Both lines haven't exactly been stone walls that defenses have had trouble penetrating. Aaron Rodgers has been sacked 12 times in 3 games and Brett Favre has been sacked 9 times already. Both QBs have been beaten up because their lines haven't done the best in pass protection. The Packers faithful are hoping Clifton is healthy and can go because they really, really don't want to see a Jared Allen vs. Daryn Colledge matchup. Antwan Odom got 5 sacks of the 12 total Rodgers have suffered because of a favorable matchup, and Jared Allen is just as dangerous (who are we kidding he is more dangerous) as Odom. Packers' fans have to be hoping and praying Clifton is healthy, just like Vikings' fans are hoping that nothing serious is keeping big old Steve Hutchinson and his back away from practice for the 2nd day in a row.

This is where I will be focusing my eyes on during the game; the battle between the D-lines and O-lines of each team. It is interesting to note that while both Favre and Rodgers have been sacked a combined 21 times neither of them has lost a fumble yet (Rodgers fumbled, but it was recovered by the Pack) and combined they have only thrown 1 interception (Favre= 1/Rodgers=0). To me that demonstrates that we are talking about two very good QBs and anytime you have a matchup with 2 very good QBs it is bound to get everyone excited.

This is where I might stick my foot in my mouth....

Robert Greenfield (a wonderful and loving cheese fan) has labeled the Vikings as possibly the worst 3-0 team in NFL history. Yes, the worst in history. Well I am hoping Robert would be willing to risk something on the outcome of this game. What do you say Robert, a friendly blog wager? If the Packers win, we here at PV will dedicate 1 entire week of entries (3-5 posts) to nothing but praising the glories of your favorite team (the cheeseheads), heck we will even change the colors for that week to green and yellow. But you have to wager something too......

Other Interesting Games

Saints vs. Jets

High Powered offense vs. Stingy defense. Pro Bowl QB vs. Rookie QB. Offensive Genius Head Coach vs. Defensive Genius Head Coach. Any way you look at it this matchup is going to be fun. The winner continues to be undefeated.

Patriots vs. Ravens

This one is interesting before the season people would have billed this as can the Ravens D stop the Patriots O, but I think the real question in this matchup is can the Patriots D stop Joe Flacco and the Ravens O. This will be a test of the Ravens, and if the Ravens leave victorious I am considering them the early favorite from the AFC to reach the Super Bowl.

Fantasy World Goodness

We all have read about Joe Fischer's moves in the infamous Hazleweird (heck I traded him Peyton Manning...but that is because I had Joe Flacco and I like the young gun). However, imagine this: somehow though the mysteries of trading and free agency I managed to turn Pierre Thomas, Vernon Davis, Carson Palmer, Rashard Mendenhall, Deshawn Wynn, Donald Brown, and Chris Chambers into Marion Barber, Brian Westbrook, Joe Flacco, Chris Cooley, Mario Manningham, and now Glen Coffee. May the force be with me as I battle from 2nd to last. (For those of you who might want to know, Joe is tied for 1st with his brother...maybe I shouldn't have traded him Manning).

Don't Forget

Call in Sick monday, get rest, and enjoy the hours leading up to the ultimate showdown everyone has been waiting for: Brett Favre vs. Green Bay.