Friday, November 14, 2008

National Friday League, Week 11

Random Facts
The Vikings are 5-12 playing outdoors in the Childress era.

The Vikings are 2-0 against the NFC South this season.

The Vikings and Buccaneers are the two teams that beat 7-2 Carolina. The Vikes beat the Panthers 20-10, and the Bucs beat the Panthers 27-3.

The 2008 Bucs are 4-0 at home; the 2008 Vikes are 1-3 on the road.

The Buccaneers have given up one rushing touchdown in nine 2008 games.

I can't remember the last time the Vikings won at Tampa Bay (this is a fact: I really can't remember. It's a stupid fact because your normally research-enthusiastic blogger can't think of a simple way to find out when the Vikes last won at Tampa. I remember several losses at Tampa Bay specifically, but I can't actually remember ever seeing the Vikings win there. Have I ever seen the Vikings win there? Maybe I've never actually seen such a game. I don't know, that's possible. I mean, evidently the Vikes are 31-19 all-time against our one-time NFC Central rival. But is it possible I've never watched a single road win against Tampa?)

The game
I don't like this game.  I think Frerotte will throw at least two interceptions.  The Vikes have a chance, though, because the defense has been so smothering.  They stifle the run (blogging about the Vikings' defense, I'm always trying to find synonyms like "smother," "stifle," and "stymie"), and this year the fierce pass rush is always disrupting the opponent's passing game.  They also have a chance because Adrian Peterson dons the purple, so they always have a chance against anybody.

Bears at Packers. The Bears are designed to beat the Packers. Last year two of the Packers' three regular season losses were to the Bears. These teams are similar in quality: the Bears have outscored their opponents 237-194, the Packers 237-206.

Ravens at Giants. Now this is a fun matchup. Well, fun if you like crushing defenses. Two teams combined 13-4, ranking 5th and 6th in points allowed, ranking 2nd and 3rd in yards allowed.

Chargers at Steelers If the Chargers win 10 games this season, I predict Philip Rivers will be league MVP. Playoff QBs always have an edge in the MVP race, and Rivers currently ranks #1 in TD passes, #1 in yards per attempt, #1 in yards per completion, #2 in passer rating, and #5 in passing yards. If the Chargers do make the playoffs, Rivers and Kurt Warner will likely be the playoff QBs with the best statistics.  I don't know if the Chargers will make the playoffs: they're still probably the best team in their division, but their schedule isn't cheesecake. They have a tendency to lose close games (losses this season by 2, 1, 7, and 5).

The Bears play the Packers: whom should Viking fans root against in this game?
The Vikings, Bears, and Packers are in a tight race for the NFC North, and really there's no way at this point to know which of these teams is the Vikings' strongest competition. You could argue we should root more strongly against the Bears in this game--thus if the Vikes beat the Bucs they're in first place alone, and if they lose to the Bucs there's a three-way tie for first. But I can't ever bring myself to root for the Packers, so my heart will be rooting for the Bears. No, that can't be right--I'm rooting against the Packers, not for the Bears. Frankly I'd prefer a 0-0 tie.

MVP Watch
It's late enough to pay attention.  I don't bother trying to assess who deserves MVP through week X; I try to assess who has the best chance to be MVP at the end of the season (this requires assessing how the player has done so far, and guessing how he'll do going forward).  

There's one absurd name being bandied about for MVP consideration: Kerry Collins.  Bucky Brooks currently ranks Collins #4.  Collins has thrown five touchdown passes.  Five.  In formal writing, you're supposed to spell out single digit numbers, and use numerals for double digit numbers.  I have a rule: if a QB has started eight games and you're still spelling out that QB's touchdown pass total, he's not a serious MVP candidate.  Collins just had his first 200 yard game of the year.  After eight starts, a QB has five touchdown passes and one 200 yard game, but we should consider him an MVP candidate because he plays for an undefeated team?  Even if that team is winning primarily for its dominant defense (#1 in scoring and #5 in yards) and effective running game (#6 in rushing yards)?  That's crazy talk.  If Kerry Collins is an MVP, they should just change the name of the award to "QB On The Team With The Best Record."  He's been a solid player for the best team in the league, but he hasn't done anything individually to merit MVP consideration.  He's not a top-50 MVP candidate.

Quarterbacks and Sacks
Ben Roethlisberger always takes sacks.
This year Ben Roethlisberger's getting sacked on 10.4% of his attempts--the same percentage he was sacked last season when he threw 32 touchdown passes. His career sack rate is 9.2%. Roethlisberger holds onto the ball a long time: sometimes he holds the ball and is able to make plays downfield helping his team, and sometimes he gets tackled for losses and hurts his team.

Pinning sacks on QBs.
Last season Tom Brady was sacked just 21 times, a rate of 3.5%. Through nine games of 2008, Matt Cassel has been sacked 29 times, a rate of 9.8% (in Thursday's game, he was sacked three times on around 60 dropbacks). It is the same team: it would seem that Brady's low sack rate is due to his own ability to quickly read defenses. But then in Brady's first year as starter, he had a 9.0% sack rate; he's obviously improved a great deal in all facets of the game.

Just another reason Peyton Manning is the best.
In his 10+ seasons, Peyton Manning has a 3.4% sack rate. That's 169 games of football, and Manning is getting sacked just 3 or 4 times for every 100 times he tries to throw the ball. And that I credit largely to him: he's very quick at reading the defense and throwing the ball quickly if forced to.

Cold Hard Football Facts predicts week 11.

Benny Sapp (Pioneer Press).

Mike Tanier says some things about Favre (Football Outsiders).

Your devoted Viking blogger's other love: musical theater
On Wednesday night, I saw Wicked at the Orpheum.  This was rather close to a religious experience for me.  The Vikings beat the Packers for the first time since 2005, and that wasn't even the highlight of my week.

Enjoy your weekend, suckers.


  1. According to ESPN, the last time the Vikes won in Tampa was 1997 (see here). Yikes.

  2. I know I am turning in my "man card" for this, but Wicked was amazing. Amazing to the point where I am willing to spend another $200 for my wife and I to go again.

    As for man stuff, Vikings will lose, unless Adrian Peterson turns on his divinity again.

  3. Here's something to chew on that you missed in your weekly report around the NFL:

    Vick wants to come back to the NFL.

    Michael Friggin Vick, who is an amazing athlete, not necessarily an amazing QB, but an impact player at the least.....wants to come back. The vikings need a QB. The T-Jack experiment failed, and Vick is an obvious experiment that was successful.

    Vick paid for his friends to fight dogs. This is bad, I don't condone this at all...but the man can play football. Think of our running offense. We could run options and play action QB keepers with Vick and AP - probably the two best runners in the NFL.

    Wilf has the money, probably could get Vick at a bargain price, and off-field antics sure didn't stop them from acquiring Jared "DUI" Allen.

    How would you feel about the Vikings chances next year if we acquired Vick?

  4. It's purely speculative: I don't think Vick will be a Viking, and I don't know how effective Vick would be at quarterback after a couple of years away (he had his problems as a passer anyway).

  5. I'm not saying Vick is an awesome passer, and I think this is where Vikings' fan expectations fall in too high.

    What do we know?:

    - Vikings have a power rushing offense
    - A strong run blocking offensive line
    - weak in the receiver position and TE position
    - weak in pass blocking

    Michael Vick ran for 1,000 yards as a QB in 2006. The Falcons had a ridiculous amount of rushing yards that season and with warrick dunn, who is by no means a stud.

    Michael Vick taking snaps would mean the defense would have to account for another playmaker with more than 1 defender. Each time he goes to handoff to AP the defense can't fully pursue because a fake and a rollout the other way leaves an open field for one of the best runners in the NFL.

    I'm pro-wildcat offense, I think defenses don't see it anymore and they dont know how to play it. Look at the success other teams in the NFL are having with it, particularly the Dolphins.

    Vikings are, and can be even better of a rushing offense with Michael Vick.

    Odss of it happening = too early to tell, but you can't say Wilf wouldn't cough up the money, especially since he wouldn't have to give up a 1st round pick for him (like he would probably for Derek Anderson).

  6. Anonymous3:25 PM

    re MVP...

    if the Titans go 14-2 or 15-1... doesn't Albert Haynesworth legitimately have to be in the conversation? The man is what that whole defense turns on.

  7. Sure, Haynesworth can be in the conversation. But only two defensive players have ever won AP MVP: Alan Page in '71 and Lawrence Taylor in '86. It's rare: that's why really "Defensive Player of the Year" should be considered equivalent to MVP, since it's really the defense MVP award, and the MVP award is really "Best QB or RB on a Playoff Team" Award.

  8. Anonymous2:54 PM

    Just got beat by a professional QB and a coaching staff. 8-8 will be a reach for this squad! Best player on the team cannot be on the field with the game on the line?