Thursday, January 03, 2008

National Friday League: Wild Card

What was that bang?'s Wild Card Preview
At Epic Carnival, wwtb? previews the playoffs by telling us which teams' fanbases have suffered the most.

PV's playoff notes
I see three teams in the Wild Card Round capable of making it to the Super Bowl: in order, San Diego, Jacksonville, and Seattle. To the rest of the teams, I say like Principle Skinner, "Prove me wrong!" Look just past their records and look at the points scored and points allowed rankings. The Chargers were 5th and 5th, the Jaguars were 6th and 10th, and the Seahawks were 9th and 6th. The Steelers ranked 9th and 2nd, but I don't believe in them (not as good in the second half of the season as they were in the first half). The other Wild Card teams don't have top-10 rankings in both categories.

For yucks, here is my personal ranking for who I want to see win the Super Bowl. Some of this is easily explainable (I hate Green Bay and resent Boston for winning with former Minnesota players; I'm a Peyton Manning rube); some are just gut feelings I can't explain.

1. Indianapolis
2. San Diego
3. Seattle
4. Jacksonville
5. Dallas
6. Pittsburgh
7. New York
8. Washington
9. Tennessee
10. Tampa Bay
11. New England
12. Green Bay

The Vikings' top offseason priority should be at WIDE RECEIVER
I've already seen a lot of articles about Tarvaris Jackson and the Viking quarterback situation (like here, here, here, here, and here) . It's easy to focus on quarterback (and worthwhile), but I hope the Vikings realize their top priority should be upgrading the wide receiver corps. One reason no Viking QB had much success in 2007 (Jackson was inconsistent, and Holcomb/Bollinger were 0-4 as starters and the offense averaged 10.5 ppg in their starts) was because the weak WR unit.

Sidney Rice showed some flashes of real ability, and Bobby Wade would be a solid #3 WR. Hopefully Rice improves to be a polished, reliable starter, and hopefully Wade becomes a #3 and not a #1. The 2007 Vikings just didn't have any WR that was both experienced/polished/consistent/reliable and athletic/fast/playmaking.

Whether Tarvaris Jackson is the 2008 starter or not, whoever is quarterbacking the 2008 Viking needs better wide receivers to throw to.

In 2007, free agent wide receiver Kevin Curtis chose Philadelphia over Minnesota in part, I believe, because he wanted to play with Donovan McNabb instead of an inexperienced second-round, second-year quarterback (I'm guessing he won't feel happy if in 2008 Donovan McNabb is in Minnesota while he catches passes from an inexperienced second-round, second-year quarterback). I don't know how many WRs will choose Minnesota; the Vikings will probably have to overpay. And that's fine--I'd rather have them overpay at WR than keep the WR corps as is because they don't want to overpay.

I don't know exactly how the Vikings should go about improving the WRs. Bernard Berrian is evidently the best FA WR available (though if D.J. Hackett is available, I'd prioritize him), and in crazy fantasy world, WRs like Javon Walker and Chad Johnson may be available (I see no way Johnson ends up in Minnesota).

Jackson needs to improve: he was inconsistent in 2007 in his accuracy and decision making, two critical areas for a quarterback. Wide receivers that get open easier (and catch the ball when they're open) should help.

2007 Stats
Let's look at for some statistical milestones and updates.

I didn't read or hear anybody talking about this, but it turns out that Drew Brees shattered the single season record for completions in a season with 443. But he averaged a pretty lousy 10.0 yards per completion and his team went 7-9, so nobody really noticed.

Tom Brady set the passing TD record with 50, but his 4,806 yards passing was also third best all-time.

The all-time passing TD leaderboard got shaken up, as Brett Favre moved to #1 with 442 TDs, and Peyton Manning moved to #4 with 306 TD passes. Manning is now just 36 TDs away from Fran Tarkenton, and at his (very consistent) pace should pass Frantastic in early 2009. Favre also now has a record 288 interceptions.

Two rushing titles alone don't make a Hall of Famer, but historically, few RBs win multiple Rushing Titles without being Hall of Famers. Ladanian Tomlinson is now a two-time rushing leader.

You know Randy Moss caught a record 23 TD receptions this season. That brings his career total to 124, 4th all-time. Terrell Owens is 3rd all-time with 129, and Marvin Harrison is 5th all-time with 123. I don't think any of these players will catch Jerry Rice at 197, but Moss could get close.

Other Links
Cold, Hard Football Facts notes some league leaders in categories that often don't get attention (but that are important, such as first down runs and first down catches).

Dr. Z previews Wild Card weekend.

Four playoff games this weekend, all televised on broadcast. I'm pretty willing to allow my time and energy to be sucked up entirely by these four games. If games get boring, I'll put the game on mute and read Dostoevsky.

Enjoy your weekend, people.


  1. You don't want Javon Walker, not because of his recent carping, but because he's developing too much of an injury history to be reliable.

  2. Anonymous5:16 PM

    Nice Skinner reference. I'd like to see an NFC team win the Super Bowl this year just to get the AFC domination enthusiasts to shut their traps, even if only temporarily. Seattle or Dallas would be fun.

    I hate Green Bay and I hate New York and I don't think Washington has it in them. Tampa's a possibility.

    For this weekend, I call every home team except Pittsburgh to win.