Thursday, October 30, 2008

National Friday League, Week Nine

I apologize for taking a bye week last week and skipping the National Friday League. Computer troubles made my internet access limited, and when I could get to a computer my energy was pretty sapped from grading papers and BEING VIOLENTLY ILL. To make up for the week off, I'm back with a tomatoed up National Friday League for week.  Hope you enjoy.

Vikings-Texans Preview
What should we know about the 2008 Texans? Evidently, their defense stinks: they currently rank 30th in net yards passing per attempt allowed and 24th in rush yards per attempt allowed.  But of course that doesn't mean the Viking offense is primed for a good day: after seeing Adrian Peterson shut down by the Saints, the Viking offense muff up against the Lions but then score 41 points against the Bears, I really have no idea what the Viking offense will do.

Offensively, the Texans have one player the Vikings should fear like gonorrhea: Andre Johnson.  His last four games: 9-131, 10-178, 11-141, 11-143.  But safety Madieu Williams makes his debut with the Vikings this Sunday--hopefully this makes the secondary stronger.  Tyrell Johnson hasn't stood out in any positive way, so we'll see if Madieu Williams' presence is noticeable (I'm hoping that if he is quicker in coverage, Cedric Griffin's weakness won't stand out so much).

Actually, the Vikings and Texans show similarities: both 3-4, similar point differentials (-13 and -10), both blew big leads at home to lose to the Colts (both losses devastated the fanbases), both had to win close against the Lions.   

Through seven games, I just don't know what this Viking team is.  Which means I know what this team is: inconsistent.  I don't know how they'll play from week to week, but I can guess they'll finish right around .500.  But if they lose to the Texans in Thunderdome, then they totally suck and that's that.  The Vikings should win home games against teams that share their record; if they can't win in the Metrodome, where are they going to win?

Week Nine Schedule
Colts-Patriots.  Since I love Peyton Manning, I watch as many Colt games as I can, and I'm always glad when they're a televised night game.  What I've seen this year is just how close the Colts are to being their typically superb offense--Manning's timing and passes are just slightly off.  Receivers are open downfield, and if Manning throws the pass just a bit higher, just a bit farther, just a bit left or right, it's a completion for a long gain.  But the passes are just slightly off, and a defensive back is able to recover and knock the pass down.  I'm anxiously following them to see if Manning gets that perfect timing and great accuracy back.  If he does, the Colts are still a good team, and they can win playoff games.

Packers-Titans. The Titans are a sound and opportunistic football team.  They're not great (when the highlight of the passing game is Kerry Collins throwing to Bo Scaife, it's hard to call a team great), but if you make a mistake, they will destroy you with it.  Against the Vikings the Titans scored three touchdowns, all after Minnesota turnovers in Tennessee territory.   It's how they win and how they'll continue to win.  They play safe offense supplemented by Chris Johnson's big play ability.  They play very good defense.  And then when an opponent makes a mistake, they capitalize.   They can be beaten, but to beat them, you have to play a superb game and commit no turnovers.  I could see the Packers doing that.  Naturally, I hope the Titans win 80-0, but I could see the Packers winning.

Pat Williams and Kevin Williams
Regardless of when (or is it if?) the Williams are suspended, the rumor has already marred the season for me. Unless there is an official NFL announcement stating that there was some misunderstanding and there is no possibility of a suspension, I'm just going to be waiting for it to come, expecting it to ruin the season. And the Packer game is next week--if there's no suspension this week, will there be one next week?  It's hanging over everything.

Some Notable Players of 2008
Chasing 5,084.  Others have chased it before him and failed: one or two low games is all it takes to leave him around 4,800, and passing yardage is dependent on factors outside the QB's control.  I don't think he'll get there.

I looked at his yards per attempt for each season and thought he was declining.  I was absolutely, completely, totally wrong.  Enjoy the career year, folks.

If things had gone a little differently, I might be as infatuated with Warner as I am with Peyton Manning.  Through seven games this season he has 14 TDs, 2,000 yards, and a 70% completion percentage.

Are sports reporters necessary?
I've been thinking about this.  There's sort of this idea that the beat reporters are really vital sportswriters, that they're doing the work to uncover stories and find out what's going on.  But do we even need that?  In sports, we have the actual games to watch: the reporters are mostly unnecessary there, since we can see the games for ourselves.  And I want to know what roster moves the teams are making, but then the teams announce those, too.

Real reporters are necessary to a democracy: for democracy to work, a people must be well informed about the activities of their government and events in the world, and so journalists play a vital role in democracy.  That's some pretty high language, and I think sports "journalists" have imbibed a lot of that language and tend to think they're important, too.  But they're really not: I can enjoy the games by watching them, and learn about roster moves from the teams themselves announcing them.  Obviously some reporters are necessary to observe what is going on and record it, to write stories about the games, to report on the events for people to read and hear about.  But do I need a beat writer digging around in the locker room for the behind the scene story?  It can be interesting and entertaining, but it really doesn't provide a vital function.

If you're gambling on games, then you probably want as much of that beat reporting as you can get.  And if you're following sports, you're probably entertained by the reporting by beat writers.  But saying sportswriters entertain us is a very different thing than saying sportwriters are serving some vital function.  If there were no beat writers, my pleasure from sports would not be fundamentally altered: I'd still get to watch the games and muse on the roster moves.

But I'm just musing aloud here, so I'll pose the question to you.  Do you think sports reporters and beat writers are performing an important, vital function, and what is that function?  I'm conceding that they contribute to the entertainment we get from sports, but I don't believe they perform some sort of necessary journalistic duty.  What do you think?

The weekend is an hour longer this weekend
Human beings are bored and need something to occupy our time with, so we arbitrarily switch our time twice a year.

I hope that whenever I die, it's during Standard Time instead of Daylight Saving Time: that means I get one more hour of weekend out of life.

Fantasy Narcissism
I'm in end-game now: I traded all my moveable pieces this week mostly for Maurice Jones-Drew and the Baltimore Defense (and if your end-game is acquiring MJD and the Raven D, you know you're probably struggling).  I've had three separate defenses get me zero point weeks this season, and in the Hazelweird Cross Country Standings (where each week your team competes against each other team), a zero from a defense instead of a conventional 3-6 points can cost you multiple wins.  But my starting WRs for the season are now evidently Bernard Berrian and Joey Galloway, so let's just say I'm hoping AP, MJD, and the Raven D combine for many, many touchdowns.

At this point in the season, if you're going to make a trade, you must look at the schedule. When planning for a draft, I don't account for the schedule much: over 16 games there will be tough and easy matchups, and before the season starts it's tough to predict which of those matchups will be tough or easy.  But at this point we have a pretty good idea which teams are lousy, and with 8-9 games to go, you might want to get a defense or a running back that has a lot of those lousy teams on the schedule.

Return to Thunderdome
I'm going to the Viking game with my dad this weekend. This means while watching the Viking game, I'm unlikely to see a single political advertisement.  This weekend is going to be overwhelming, and then Wednesday, when you start watching TV and just see commercials for pizza and cell phones and cars, it feels rather liberating.

I'm starting to believe a nucleus of Al Jefferson, Kevin Love, and Corey Brewer could actually be a playoff nucleus.  Jefferson will be a reliable 20-10 power forward, Corey Brewer is one of those defense-oriented, athletic hustlers that seem to be everywhere on the court, and Kevin Love could be...transcendent.  I'm deluded now, yes.  But he made several impressive plays last night: scoring on offensive rebounds, cutting to the basket when a defender sagged off him, hitting a hook shot.  His rebounding, his passing, even his defense impressed me: I think he's going to develop into a complete player.  I now giddily look forward to the next Wolves game (Saturday night).

Weekend: "Spread the Candy"
Enjoy Halloween, suckers.  Halloween is Civilization: when you're young adults give you candy, and when you grow up, it is now your turn to give children candy.  You take your turn.  From each according to his ability, to each according to his need, and all that.  I now await John McCain's speech calling trick-or-treaters socialists.  


  1. Anonymous8:16 AM

    "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need, and all that. I now await John McCain's speech calling trick-or-treaters socialists."

    At least the adults aren't taking candy from the kids who've had success and distributing it among those who were too lazy to get a costume.

    Bring on those Pizza commercials!

  2. Anonymous11:36 AM

    maybe the federal govt can organize another billions of dollars bailout for those banks, er, I mean, kids, that don't have costumes?

    it's time to can the mccain crap about "socialism".