Ah, another game against our "0-4 in the Super Bowl" spirit-cousins. Hello Buffalo: I feel like I know you.
Look at the Bills' last five games and tell me whether you are confident for this game: OT loss at Ravens, OT loss at Chiefs, 3 point loss to Bears, 2 point win against Lions, 18 point win at Bengals, OT loss to Steelers. Since their bye week, the Bills have played everybody competitively. They do have a bad run defense (32nd in yardage allowed, 29th in yards per attempt allowed) and a lousy defense overall (29th in points allowed), but the Vikings are 30th in points scored.
2010 Viking Defense: Impressive or Disappointing?
This year, the Vikings rank 9th in yardage allowed and the team ranks 16th in points allowed. The points allowed make the Vikings seem pretty average, but considering the Vikes have 25 lost turnovers, the defense has been forced into some lousy positions to play out of (plus they once again have given up a fair number of non-offensive touchdowns). They've had some games when they needed to get stops late in the game for a chance to win, and they did it (Miami, at Green Bay, Arizona). They've also had games when they needed late game stops and couldn't at all (at New England), and games when the pass defense looked just...just...awful (at Chicago, Green Bay). The run defense is not what it once was, but still ranks #5 in yardage and yardage per attempt allowed. But the pass rush has often been invisible. By Football Outsiders' metric they are very average (17th).
Interesting Week 13 games
Jaguars-Titans: The last time the 6-5 division leading Jags played the Titans, they lost 30-3. I know this because that was early enough in the academic semester when I still watched every Monday Night game, and early enough in the season when I had fantasy hopes. Now I'm buried in research papers (I shouldn't even be writing this!) and mired in a lost fantasy season (I could list off my very concrete, easily identifiable mistakes, but why bother).
Cowboys-Colts. Indianapolis's incredibly impressive streak of seven straight 12+ win seasons will not be stretched to eight, but they are still tied for a division lead with a favorable schedule.
Chicago and whoever they play, Green Bay and whoever they play. I'm not ashamed to be at the "anybody but the Packers" stage of the season.
Steelers-Ravens, Jets-Patriots. Late in the season, it's wonderful to have extraordinary night games between division-rival Super Bowl contenders. Thanks again, DVR.
Really fascinating post at pro-football-reference.com about QB "comebacks," with some special focus on John Elway, Dan Marino, and Brett Favre (Favre does not come out so well when you see what he's done with comeback opportunities).
In the no shame department, ProFootballTalk quotes an NFL statement criticizing the players' union which includes the following:
"The union’s request for state and local political leaders to intercede in the negotiations ignores and denigrates the serious and far more substantial problems that those leaders, and that state and local workers across the country face."
Ho ho ho! That's funny stuff. Either somebody writing NFL statements has a rich sense of irony, or the NFL and teams aren't bothering state and local politicians for public money for their stadiums anymore. Or something else.
December: not quite as ass-biting cold as January and February, but almost, but it's OK because there are Christmas lights. I might take a bye from blogging for the next few weeks (combination of end-of-semester workload and football-season-gone-bad exhaustion), but maybe not.
Later suckers. Go Vikings. Go Bears.