Three weeks of widespread football left. The NFL is trying to spread this out by making games occur on Thursday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, but only one of those days will feature games televised in the Pacifist Viking household.
By the way, does anybody know if/where the Viking-Packer game next Thursday will be televised locally? I understand that the game should be on broadcast locally, but I have seen zero commercial featuring the game. It might be on some network I rarely if ever watch, of course, like ABC. What's on ABC that one can possibly watch? Actually, I caught that show "Help Me Help You" earlier this week. I was hooked when the following dialogue occurred (slightly paraphrased according to my memory:
Ted Danson: Back in college I literally had to beat women back with a stick.
Tim Meadows: Literally.
Ted Danson: You heard me.
Tim Meadows: Women were attacking you and you had to beat them back with a stick. A stick. Hitting their flesh with wood.
Yes, it is funny. It also featured a guy egging a house and saying, "I don't know if I should be doing this, I'm vegan." No, buddy, you probably shouldn't be. Speaking of being vegan, I'm thinking of braving that last frontier in 2007. And since it has come up on this blog, if you're interested (and you probably aren't) in some of my further explorations on vegetarianism, you can read some of my other writings at my other blog: "Vegetarianism," "'Nature, red in tooth and claw'," "Amateur Theologian: Did people eat meat before the Fall?," and "The Thick Skin of a Vegetarian."
This has been a rambling introduction, to be sure. Well, I've graded over 40 papers in the last week or so, and I'll be grading another 40 or so in the next week, along with 80+ exams, so forgive me for being frazzled. If I can't maintain a coherent organized line of logic, it is only because I've been reading freshman public policy arguments and I've got nothing left.
Vikings v. Jets
The Vikes have played rather poorly at home this season, notching a 3-3 record and playing their worst game against an AFC East team featuring a 3-4 defense. The Vikings have played pretty poorly in recent years against 3-4 teams. So I haven't been very confident in this game; it seems like the sort where the Viking offense will piddle around in suckitude against a defensive front they're not used to and they'll lose something like 17-9.
Then again, as the Ragnorak suggests today, there are reasons to think this matchup suits the Vikings. The Vikings can win against anybody if they force turnovers, and Chad Pennington has been turnover-prone this season. Furthermore, the Vikes can run, and the Jets have trouble stopping the run. The Vikes have a fair chance to win this game, move to 7-7, and then go play a night game in Green Bay where Brad Johnson can debilitate the Vikings' chances and end the team's playoff hopes.
What hopes can we have for the rest of the season?
I believe 9-7 will get the Vikings into the playoffs; most of the other playoff hopefuls have some tough games ahead (some against each other, which makes it even better). If the Vikings can beat the Jets (and the Jets should have ABSOLUTELY ZERO running game against the Vikes, so it's possible), then go win a game against a mediocre or worse Packer team (and Lambeau Field is one of the outdoore venues the Vikes have been consistently good at, winning 3 of their last 4 games there), and then win a home game against a St. Louis team that will be out of it and is struggling without Orlando Pace, the Vikings should be in the playoffs.
And with this run defense, what could the Vikings do in the playoffs? Who knows? The NFC is weak; there's hope. I am an eternal Viking optimist and will not be ready to wax eloquent on A.E. Housman until the Vikings are clearly out of the Super Bowl running.
(By the way, that Housman link goes to the first entry I wrote at this blog, and it's interesting to see 9 anonymous spam comments there. My favorite is "viagra viagra Its'not spam." Sure, and I'm not fat. If you bother clicking those links you are stupid in the brain).
Playoff Implication Games
Let's look at this week's important games. I'll only look at games between two playoff quality teams; of course playoff quality teams can get upset against eliminated teams, but there's no need to mention any of those games here.
San Francisco at Seattle
I predict a 24-14 49er victory.
But seriously, folks, there's now a reasonable chance that an 8-8 team will win the NFC West. Nobody wants that.
Dallas at Atlanta
I've considered benching Tony Romo on my fantasy team in favor of Eli Manning; I think DCs have seen enough of Romo. But Atlanta is HORRIBLE against #1 and #2 WRs. That means Owens and Glenn will run wild, and the Cowboys will cream the Falcos. Yes, the Falcos. I think they should change their name in honor of legendary fictional quarterback Steve Falco. And when the offseason comes, I'll find time to write about just how senseless that movie is.
Jacksonville at Tennessee
Well, Tennesee is a playoff longshot, but they're sort of in it, and this game intrigues me. Jacksonville is a scary team--by scary, I mean for gamblers. Who the hell knows what they'll do from week to week?
Jets at Vikings
Pittsburgh at Carolina
Pittsburgh is sort of still in it too. Carolina is...but will probably be out of it by the end of Sunday. Look for Pittsburgh to beat the hell out of the Panthers and move to 7-7 and people can wonder how they would be doing if Roethlisberger hadn't had appendicitis.
Eagles at Giants
Two 7-6 teams; at the end of the day, one team will be 7-7 and the other will be 8-6. Of course you know that. But this is one of the things that helps the Vikings; it is very unlikely that two NFC Wild Card teams will go 10-6.
Kansas City at San Diego
For reasons I don't fully understand, I couldn't care less.
Cincinnati at Indianapolis
For the fourth or fifth time all year, I will regret not getting Monday Night Football. I think Cincinnati will win, continuing their playoff drive and continuing Indy's skid.
In the final three weeks, awards will be claimed by the deserving players. Ladanian Tomlinson should be the MVP, but Drew Brees or Peyton Manning might make strong arguments over the next three games. Who is the rookie of the year? Several contenders can demand the trophy. Defensive player of the year will probably go (undeserved) to Brian Urlacher. I haven't spilled as much virtual ink condemning Urlacher as I have Favre, but he is fast climbing my list of most detested NFC North rivals.
Anyway, I hope everybody enjoys the weekend. Except Packer and Bear fans.