My initial giddiness about the Viking win is below at "Trailing Clouds of Heaven: Vikings 42, Lions 10." "On the Couch" is discussion of other NFL action, plus a little more on the Vikes.
Arizona Cardinals and Pushouts
In 2003, the Cardinals stole a division title and playoff appearance from the Vikings when Nate Poole caught a TD with no time left. Poole's feet never got down, but the officials ruled the play a pushout.
Yesterday, the Cleveland Browns almost got a miraculous late win against the Arizona Cardinals, when with no time left Derek Anderson completed a pass in the end zone to Kellen Winslow. And even the Cardinal defensive backs clearly pushed Winslow out of bounds, the officials did not rule a force out.
In 2003 the Cardinals won a game because a force out was called; in 2007 the Cardinals won a game because a force out was not called.
I now hate the Cardinals.
How did Peyton Manning become my favorite non-Viking?
A few years ago, my friends and I called Manning "Dilfer." We started using "Dilfer" as an insult with each other, because the name sounds like something you'd call somebody you don't respect. When we looked at Peyton Manning, we would think, "Man, he's such a Dilfer." But since there really was a Trent Dilfer, we didn't want confusion, so we called Trent Dilfer "Super Dilfer."
Yet somehow in the past few seasons, Peyton Manning became my favorite non-Viking player. The Colts are the only non-Viking team I'll always try to watch on TV. I root for the Colts to win (though I won't even root for them a little bit when they play the Vikes next season), and I really enjoy seeing Peyton Manning throw touchdown passes.
How did this happen? While I'm not entirely sure, I think that while the Patriots were winning Super Bowls and Tom Brady was getting praised as a great clutch quarterback, I started to identify with Manning, so great but seemingly so flawed when it mattered, a "choker" (hey, I even called him that for a while), a player who always seemed tainted by his inability to get big playoff success. Somehow I started wanting Manning to do well. I wanted to see him win a Super Bowl and shake that reputation as a playoff choker. Maybe I also hoped for Manning to break the records Brett Favre was destined for, I don't know. But I became I big fan of Manning--he's my favorite non-Viking to watch.
Just so we're all clear here, Adrian Peterson has now played in 10 NFL games, and he's averaging 6.5 yards per rushing attempt.
6.5 yards per carry!
Jim Brown once averaged 6.4 yards per attempt. Barry Sanders once averaged 6.1 yards per attempt. In his first season, Adrian Peterson is not just potential: he is already at a level of the all-time greats. He has the single game rushing yards record with 296. And he's absolutely shredding the league with an unheard of yards per carry.
There's just incredible joy in the way Peterson runs. He's fast, strong, quick, agile, and powerful. He has great vision. He has great moves. He's worth the price of Thunderdome admission (his fakeout on his second touchdown looked great on TV; live, it was downright spectacular).
Another note on the Viking rushing game: Cold Hard Football Facts points out that in yards per carry, the Vikings are quite close to being the best rushing attack of all-time.
NFC Playoffs: win out, get in
The NFL is both a league of juggernauts (the top four teams are 11-0, 11-1, 10-2, and 10-2) and parity (in the NFC, three teams are at 6-6 and five teams are at 5-7). A lot of teams are still in playoff contention.
I'll make a basic prediction/statement for the NFC teams with at least five wins right now: if you win the rest of your games, you'll make the playoffs.
I'll be shocked if one of the 6-6 teams wins the rest of its games and misses the playoffs. I'll also be mildly surprised if one of the 5-7 teams wins the rest of its games and misses the playoffs. It could happen, of course, but I don't think so: the way things go, and the way these teams can beat each other, I think that any 5-7 or 6-6 team that wins out will make the playoffs.
The Ragnarok is once again keeping close tabs on the NFC wild card race.
Fantasy Narcissism: Matt Hasselbeck is my fantasy quarterback, and I simply need to embrace this fact.
In fantasy football, I'm usually cursed at picking quarterbacks. I drafted Kurt Warner before 2002 and Daunte Culpepper before 2005. I often get a big plan for a quarterback, and then that doesn't work in spectacular fashion, and I acquire some decent QB to just get me points and get me through that.
This season, that QB is once again my favorite Republican, Matt Hasselbeck. Hasselbeck is a steady if uninspiring fantasy quarterback: every year he seems to average around 1.5 TD passes per game and he usually ends up throwing for just over 200 yards per game. Hasselbeck has come on to once again steady the Experience after another failed QB draftee in the Hazelweird League (Donovan McNabb). The Experience has improved immensely since he joined my lineup, particularly as this season Seattle has struggled in the running game and relied a lot on Hasselbeck's arm.
In the future, I'm not going to either spend big auction dollars or a high draft pick on a quarterback. I'm just going to wait it out and take a solid but unheralded (and thus inexpensive) QB like Matt Hasselbeck.
Of course, this is why in the Ghosts of Wayne Fontes league, I just drafted the most consistent fantasy QB of all, Peyton Manning. Manning always gets you 26+ TD passes, and he usually gets you 4,000+ yards. It looked silly to some when I drafted Manning in round one, but now my team is in the fantasy playoffs, so silly on that, suckers.
Enjoy the week
All smiles and happiness to everybody for this week. The Vikings won, and I have very little grading to do (just before the end-of-the-semester deluge of grading which begins next week). I feel like Mr. Burns in the X-Files episode of The Simpsons. I bring you...love! I bring you...peace! But of course it's not all good...
Thoughts and prayers to Sean Taylor's family and friends on this day of his funeral. May you find your own peace.