Here are some things that surprised me when reading up on the Patriots.
--they lead the league in scoring, with 29.5 points per game.
--they have not allowed fewer than 336 yards in any game this year, and average 379 yards allowed per game ( games of 428, 336, 374, 400, 377, 363).
--they are averaging 10.4 yards per completion, with no "wide receiver" currently on the roster averaging better than 11.5 yards per reception.
--They rank 31st in the league in first downs allowed.
I feel about this game like I felt about the Steeler game last year: the Vikings are going against a perennial contender at their place, and I don't think they can do it. The Vikes stayed with the Steelers longer than I thought they would, too, but then the Vikings were better last year. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady know what's up: I don't think this is going to go our way at all.
Other Intriguing Matchups
Dolphins-Bengals. Some years a particular team intrigues me for reasons I don't understand. I don't root for them or care about them, really, but I end up following them for some reason. So once again, the Dolphins.
Bills-Chiefs. Buffalo has been scoring too many points not to win a game soon. The Chiefs have the shakiest passing game of any team that is probably going to make the playoffs. This game would be fun to watch.
Packers-Jets. Losing to the Packers is like poison, and no matter how average the Packers have looked, I'm always terrified they'll win out and win the Super Bowl. Seeing them lose here would feel good.
Seahawks-Raiders. What does it mean when a bad team scores 59 points? Does it mean that team is really not bad?
Steelers-Saints. Sunday night game featuring a massive number of regular fantasy starters. Also a Sunday night game that will be frequently interrupted by trick-or-treaters. Which is fine: I like trick-or-treaters.
Texans-Colts. The Vikes are 2-4. The Timberwolves will do what they've done for years: stink. You'll have to indulge me to be really, really, really excited to watch the Colts play Monday.
Irrational Viking Fan: On Loyalty
I don't care about Brett Favre's legacy (unless his legacy is the QB that leads the Vikings to a Super Bowl championship). I don't care about Brett Favre's heroics (unless those heroics lead to Viking wins). If Favre stinks this year, I feel no desire to stick by him or defend him. Does that make me disloyal? To Favre, yes. But it's because of loyalty to the Vikings.
Last year, I expressed some confusion over Packer fan hatred of Favre. It's not that I couldn't understand the feeling of betrayal, but Favre led the Packers to a Super Bowl win. What else could those fans want? He brought you the most joyous thing you can have in sports: does it matter so little that you'd turn against the guy that brought you that?
Of course, that was the Irrational Viking Fan talking. I want so badly to see my favorite team win a championship, that I can't imagine ever turning against those that actually allow me to see it. It's why I think the first Viking coach to win a Super Bowl deserves a lifetime contract, that it should only be his choice if/when he wants to leave the team. What else matters? The most important thing to my fandom is for the Vikings to win the Super Bowl, and if they do that, those who lead them to the championship will have my lifelong devotion and love.
Packer fans can turn on Favre because their loyalty isn't to the individual, but to the team (or to the group, or organization, or even the "idea" of the Packers, the concept, principle, what have you). Both loyalty to an individual and loyalty to a team can be problematic. Either type of loyalty can lead you to give up your reason, supporting and defending that which you would not otherwise support or defend. Either type of loyalty can lead you to see other individuals primarily in terms of their usefulness: when they are no longer helpful to the individual/group that has your loyalty, they no longer matter to you. Loyalty is not, in my view, an inherently good virtue, though it can be virtuous (as Kent's loyalty to Lear is virtuous).
So thanks, Brett Favre, for a special 2009 season (even if it ended the way every other special Viking season ended). But if Favre sucks in 2010, if he's inaccurate, or sloppy, or turnover-prone, or injured, or distracted, or fighting with the coach, or finally just too old to play at a high level, or whatever, and he's not capable of leading the Vikings to wins, then I don't care about him, and I'm ready to move on.
Adrian Peterson is currently leading the league with 114 rush yards per game. He's had 170+ yards from scrimmage in three games this season. But two of those magnificent games were in close losses, and we haven't been able to fully bask in his greatness. Even during a disappointing, loss-filled Viking season, let us remember to appreciate how brilliantly Peterson is playing. If we watch sports to find joy, there is joy in watching Adrian Peterson run the football.
The Vikings are a terrible road team
They might finish 7-1 at home and 8-8 overall this season.
NFC North Box
If the Viking season collapses entirely (and it will be a long time before I accept that it has: I like the Vikings' schedule after the Patriot game, and think they could go 8-1 or 7-2 after this week's game, if they keep their heads together), I will be openly rooting for the Bears at some point. Seeing the Packers win games is like poison.
When Matt Millen shows up on the TV screen, it's obviously hard not to think that the guy that ran the Lions as badly as anybody ever ran any sports franchise is trying to give us insight on football. Tuesday night, I was watching TNT when you do I see telling me about basketball, but Kevin McHale. A Hall of Fame player who knows the game of basketball, sure. But...goodness, why do I need to listen to him? If he knows so much about evaluating talent and assessing the game...what the hell happened?
I've been waiting for a year and a half for the emergence of Donald Brown: Fantasy Superstar. I keep believing such a concept exists, and so I keep leaving Brown shelved at the bottom of my roster. And maybe, just maybe, we'll see it this season. This is my fantasy football Great Pumpkin. What's yours?
I like having my perception verified with evidence
Via PFT, the Wall Street Journal shows that the guys on the FOX pregame show really do spend a lot of time laughing (or pretending to laugh) at each other.
Have a good Halloween weekend, everybody. On Sunday the second half of the Viking game coincides with the best time to take two toddlers trick-or-treating: but that's OK, because I know my priorities (and there's always DVR!).