Thursday, November 20, 2008

National Friday League, week 12

Vikings v. Jaguars
Relevant Facts
The Vikes are 0-4 on grass this season.

The Jaguars are 1-4 at home this season.

The Jaguars rank 20th in rush yards allowed and 23rd in rush yards per attempt allowed this season.  The Vikings rank 4th in rush yards and 5th in rush yards per attempt.

David Garrard has been sacked 26 times in 10 games, at a rate of 7.6%.  In their four games on grass this season, the Vikings have 0, 0, 2, and 1 sacks (total lost yards on those sacks: 9).

This week's schedule offers us six games between teams .500 or better.  On the surface, these are the games that determine who goes to the playoffs (and they are--think about the Minnesota-Washington game last season).  But of course just as often a decent team misses the playoffs because it loses a game against a lousy team that it should have beaten.  Those upsets will happen, but it's more fun to watch the quality games.

Should we make wild predictions?  The loser of this game won't make the playoffs.
More stupid predictions?  The loser of this game won't make the playoffs.
More stupid predictions?  If the Jets win this game, you will hear Brett Favre's name spoken lovingly on television 5,438 times this week.
I don't get Carolina.  It seems like they should sort of be a dominant team, but it also sort of seems like Jake Delhomme sucks.  I never trust rookie QBs--Atlanta may win 10 games, but from week to week I will never expect them to win.
In some ways, Kurt Warner can't lose in his MVP campaign.  When the Cardinals win, then he's leading the freaking Cardinals to wins.  When the Cardinals lose, Warner throws for 400 yards and boosts those total numbers.  By the way, would Phoenix trade Matt Leinart to the Vikings?  We could take a shot on the lefty.
The Packers can afford to lose this game and still win their division to make the playoffs; the Saints can't.

Other games are significant.  The 5-5 Vikings play the 4-6 Jaguars: a loss likely finishes Jacksonville's season.  6-4 Indianapolis plays the 4-6 Chargers, and again, a loss could finish the Chargers' season.  

That Colts-Chargers matchup is interesting, considering the last four times the teams played:
2007 playoffs: Peyton Manning throws for 402 yards, but Billy Volek leads a game-winning drive as the Chargers upset the Colts 28-24.
2007:  Peyton Manning throws 6 interceptions, and the Chargers beat the Colts when Adam Vinatieri misses a short field goal at the end.
2005: the 13-0 Colts lose their first game of the season at home against the Chargers.
2004: Peyton Manning throws his 49th touchdown pass of the season and waves off the punter in a 34-31 overtime win.


With six games to go, let's look at the candidates. And remember, this is the MVP award, which means it is the award for the best QB or RB on a playoff team.

Eli Manning. A quarterback on a conference's #1 seed always has a shot. But why do I have contempt for any suggestion of Kerry Collins for MVP, yet note Manning as a legitimate candidate? Similar to the Titans, the Giants are a great running team (#1 in yards, #1 in yards per attempt, #2 in touchdowns) and a great defensive team (#5 in points allowed and #2 in yards allowed). But while Collins has been good, Manning has put up actual quarterbacking numbers (200 yards and 1.5 TD passes a game). I'm not saying Eli Manning deserves MVP, but if we go by the "QB on a #1 seed" standard, Manning's stats will make him look like a deserving candidate, while Collins' will not.

Kurt Warner. Warner leads the league in completions, completion percentage (a record setting pace), and passer rating. He is second in passing yards, passing touchdowns, and yards per attempt. He is doing this all on a 7-3 team. Of all quarterbacks, I consider him the most deserving. But the schedule gets tougher: they've got two more NFC West home games, but the other games are the Giants, at the Eagles, the Vikings, at the Patriots. To win MVP, he'll need to keep up the great numbers (and he does have Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald, and Steve Breaston making a lot of plays for him) and the Phoenix Cardinals will have to win at least 10 games.

Adrian Peterson
. The only way Peterson will win MVP is if he wins the rushing title (he's the current leader) and the Vikings win the NFC North (they're currently in a three-way tie). I'm not saying he will win the MVP if those things happen, but I'm saying he won't win MVP if those things don't happen.

Clinton Portis. He's dropped behind Peterson in the rushing lead, but he's the big reason the Washington Zorns are in playoff contention--if they get in, he'll get votes. By the way, Portis and Peterson are the only RBs I see possibly winning. There are other RBs having great years (like Brandon Jacobs), but there aren't any RBs that anybody really thinks are better than Peterson or Portis right now, and I doubt anybody will vote an MVP that is considered the third best player at his position.

Brett Favre. If the Jets win the AFC East, he'll get consideration. And if the Jets get a #2 seed in the AFC, you know there are voters that will want to give the award to the current interception leader.

Peyton Manning
. It doesn't look like it now. But let's say the Colts keep rolling and end up an 11-5 playoff team. If Manning puts up his typical numbers (26+ TDs, 4,000+ yards), and there isn't another strong candidate, voters might take note of the strong finish to overcome the slow start.

Jay Cutler. It's at least a possibility, if the Broncos win 10-11 games. He's 3rd in TDs and yards, and if he gets a terrible defensive team into the playoffs (the Broncos are 27th in points allowed and 29th in yards allowed), he could win.

Drew Brees. You know that IF the Saints make the playoffs and IF Brees breaks Marino's yardage record (5,084), there will be voters that want Brees to win MVP.

Tony Romo. An unlikely winner, but let's say the Cowboys win out, and voters look back and see they were 11-2 with Romo starting? And here's an appropriate place for you to read an amusing story about Romo.

Philip Rivers. At this point, the Chargers would have to win their final six games for Rivers to win MVP. But at this point I've found myself naming every possible candidate, so I'm naming him.

Sunday's Pregame Shows have become irrelevant.
It used to be a joy to hear people talking about football for an hour before the games start, especially after a week of just waiting for football games.  It was interesting to hear opinions and fun to see highlights.  But now the internet allows us to hear opinions from all sorts of people all week long, and there are several ESPNs and even an NFL Network to give us highlights (and of course more opinions) all week long.  Do we even need a pregame show?  Basically, they need to tell us about new injury news--other than that, they are pointless.

My least favorite part?  When they go around and everybody in the studio makes predictions about who is going to win various games.  Why?  Who cares?  It's not like they spend significant time explaining why they think one team will win a game.  And does it matter to you?  Do you care whether Dan Marino or Jimmy Johnson or Howie Long or Shannon Sharpe or any of these random individuals think will win each particular game?  So pointless, so dull.

Ties, Incest, and Perspective
I don't think a tie is quite like a kissing one's sister. It is more like having sex with one's sister, and that is a matter of perspective.

Let's say things haven't been going your way, you get drunk, and somehow, you end up having sex with your sibling. Regardless of how you felt during the sex (probably terrible), you can't look at yourself in the mirror anymore. Every step you take fills you with shame. You are quite simply horrified by what you have done, and you can't understand how you allowed yourself to do it. Then you are like the 5-4 Eagles tying the 1-8 Bengals.

Now let's say you're mostly a loser and nothing ever seems to go your way; you're not going anywhere in life and you know it. But let's say your sibling is a supermodel. Just smoking hot. Now, let's say for some reason your sibling decided to have sex with you, and you do it. Of course, you don't really feel good about it. You know you shouldn't have done it. In fact you are ashamed. But despite that, you just had sex with a supermodel, even if that supermodel is your sibling. I mean, it was fun having sex with a supermodel, right? Then you are like the 1-8 Bengals tying...well, anybody.

Mike Tice
I'm big on the re-tread coaches. Nine of the last 11 Super Bowls were won by re-tread coaches, and last year, eight of 12 playoff teams were coached by re-treads.

So, do you think Mike Tice will ever be a successful re-tread coach?

Donovan McNabb
Do you think I care whether or not McNabb knew the overtime rule? Well, yes, I sort of do. But what I care more about is anything that makes McNabb available to other teams this off-season, and the possibility of Donovan McNabb and Adrian Peterson spending 3-5 years together.

One complaint, NFL Network
During the week, the NFL Network replays some of the best games of the previous weekend.  But too often, they air games that were nationally televised night games.  Most of us already had a chance to see that game; I'd be more interested in seeing games I couldn't see initially.  Granted, I probably still wouldn't watch unless it was the Colts.  I'm too busy watching shows like Gary Unmarried.  I don't even like the show, but whenever I'm making sure The New Adventures of Old Christine is getting DVRed, my wife insists that we make sure to DVR Gary Unmarried too, then later we end up watching it.  The thing is, she doesn't even really seem to like it, and we end up watching it ironically.  Anyway, NFL Network, instead of watching you, I'm watching Gary Unmarried, so don't listen to my complaints anyway.

Links and Rambling Comments
Troy Williamson doesn't care for Brad Childress (ESPN). Neither do most Viking fans. Of course, most Viking fans don't like Troy Williamson either.

Jared Allen is fined (SI).

Ryan Cook is benched (Access Vikings). Cook is unsurprised (Pioneer Press).

Antoine Winfield (Pat Reusse).

Roger Goodell on Kevin Williams and Pat Williams (Viking Update).

Albert Haynesworth for MVP (fuh- baw).  In 1971, DT Alan Page won AP MVP, Bob Griese was Newspaper Ent. Assoc. MVP, and Roger Staubach won the Bert Bell Award.  In 1986, Lawrence Taylor won AP MVP, getting 20.5 sacks for the 14-2 Giants.  It's possible for a defensive player to claim MVP when a.) he has an outstanding season, b.) he plays on an outstanding team, and c.) there's a debatable or weak field of QBs and RBs.  So it is possible.  I always like to pretend 1982 didn't happen, when kicker Mark Moseley won AP MVP.  Why not Dan Fouts, who led the league in passing yards, passing touchdowns, yards per attempt, led a 6-3 team and won the PFWA MVP and Newspaper Ent. Assoc. MVP, and was the AP Offensive Player of the Year?  I don't know why we even bother to think about these MVP awards.  MVP means a great deal in basketball, but evidently football is zany and the award makes no sense.  By the way, why do people consistently call Brett Favre the only three-time MVP, when Jim Brown and Johnny Unitas were each three-time AP MVPs?  If we're now just recognizing the AP MVP as the official MVP, why would that make Favre the only three-time MVP when clearly there are three different players that won AP MVP three times?  This award makes no sense to me: it exists for 51 years and 48 times it goes to a QB or RB, and once it even goes to a kicker.  Senseless.

To those who were with me at the 2007 NFL draft, as I excitedly anticipated the Vikings getting the chance to draft Brady Quinn, then spilled a beer and was grabbing a towel to clean it up, then the Vikings were about to make their pick, and I anxiously looked up waiting, and then the Vikings drafted Adrian Peterson and everybody in the room was quite happy and I was pleased they took Peterson but really wishing they had taken Brady Quinn, here's an article from Grant's Tomb for you. If the Vikes had taken Quinn, Quinn would now be my favorite Republican. Now that Matt Hasselbeck sucks and isn't helping my fantasy team, I don't have a favorite Republican. I guess Jared Allen.  Anyway, I thought it highly likely Brady Quinn is a franchise quarterback, which would mean having the most important position on the team settled for 15 years and making the team a consistent playoff contender and potential Super Bowl contender.  Now we have Gus Frerotte.  Yes, I love Adrian Peterson, but I sure do wish the Vikings had a franchise quarterback.

On the player's union (William C. Rhoden).

Watch Marcedes Lewis; the Vikings struggle to cover opposing tight ends (Defensive Indifference).

The NFC North (Clark Judge).

Marcus McCauley never plays (Pioneer Press).  Whenever I watch Cedric Griffin tackling another receiver that has just caught a pass in front of him, I think about how the other cornerbacks must really be sucking in practice.

Adrian Peterson rested (SI).

Ties in history (Don Banks).  I'm entirely serious in my proposal that the NFL abolish overtime; if regulation ends in a tie, the game is a tie.  Why not?  The coaches won't like it because they'll take heat for decisions at the end of regulation (if you're down by three with one second left, do you kick a field goal or go for a touchdown?  If the game is tied and you have the ball with a minute left, to you play aggressively trying to score or do you play conservatively to avoid losing?).  Some fans won't like it because if they pay for a ticket to an event, they want a clearer outcome.  But having ties might lessen the need for tie-breakers to determine which 9-7 team makes the playoffs and which 9-7 team doesn't--if one of those teams is 9-6-1, that team has the edge.  And I think it would be fun: the intensity at the end of regulation would, intense.  I really like ties: I like seeing teams with the three numbers in their record.

I always love weekend before Thanksgiving.  It's a weekend that has a particular feel: you get to both relax and anticipate relaxation.


  1. Anonymous8:41 PM

    I had never heard of Gary Unmarried, and now I'm wishing I never had.

    I don't think Mike Tice will be a successful coach.

    In your draft story you forgot the part where we all laughed at you. PV, who spends his free time writing about the Vikings, watching the Vikings, and thinking about the Vikings, spills a beer and is busy cleaning it up at the exact moment the Vikings make their pick.

    Why in the world did a kicker win MVP? Other than AP, this year I hope Warner or Brees gets it.

  2. Better question: Will Tice or Childress ever get another head coaching job (after Childress is fired following this season).

    Tice may not have been good, but at least he wasn't a jackass. We should have all known we were in trouble when Childress started his tenure with that "smooth sailing" comment. I used to work with a guy like that, always trying to crack jokes at the most inopportune times.

  3. A tour de force National Friday League PV.

    I did feel a little uncomfortable reading the bit about having sex with your sister though.

  4. Anonymous12:07 PM

    Despite the faults of the QB Passer Rating statistic, some of your readers (who use Firefox) might enjoy the following Greasemonkey* script to add the QB Passer Rating information into the and GameCenters. (It also shows the % of each of the 4 rating components achieved.)

    (* - Greasemonkey is a FF Add-on which can be installed here)