Archive for the Percy Harvin Category


Evaluating Lindsey’s Vikings Predictions and Making More

If you are a Vikings fan you have to be enjoying this season as Minnesota sits atop the division with a 2 game lead, the Vikings have beaten the Packers twice and the team has suffered only one injury that has caused a key player to miss more than one game. Further reason to smile, the team comes out of the bye against the Detroit Lions. Yes, life is pretty good in Viking land.

Before the season began, I offered 5 predictions for the men in purple from the NFC North. As the Vikings have no game this week and I have been really enjoying the season the past two weeks it seemed like a good time to dust off what I said at the beginning of the season to evaluate my crystal ball gazing skills and to offer a few more predictions.

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Tuesday Moring Running Back Week Eight: Return of the Lambeau Legend

It was a sight we thought we’d never see. It felt like hell had frozen over and Santa Claus had suddenly converted to satanism.

There was Brett Favre, the man responsible for the reversal of fortune of the Green Bay Packer franchise, running on to the field in the putrid purple of the hated Minnesota Vikings.

Surprisingly, he was met with a chorus of boos.

On one hand I can understand that. I would feel jilted too if I ever saw David Ortiz come back to Boston in a Yankee uniform.

However, this man did make the Packers a force to be reckoned with again after so many appalling years under such luminaries as Anthony Dilweg and Don Majkowski.

But as always, sports fans are entitled to feel what they wish about whoever they want.

So amid a smattering of boos and cheers, Favre was intent to prove he still could competently quarterback a team at his advanced age.

When it was over, Favre had thrown for 244 yards and four touchdowns in a 38-26 victory.

Even when it appeared the Packers would rally in the third quarter, Favre never let his guard down and was able to count on the reliable footwork of Percy Harvin, who is quickly becoming a candidate for rookie of the year.

So in essence, while Green Bay fans have the right to feel betrayed, they have to admit that their one time hero still can adequately run an offense.

Now, heading into the bye week at 7-1, the Vikings stand atop the NFC as the team to beat.

Elsewhere in week eight action.

• You’ve got to feel bad for the Giants. It isn’t often that a team goes from first to third place in the course of a day.

• I don’t think there’s a more dynamic wideout in the NFL right now than DeSean Jackson. His big touchdown catch literally knocked the wind out of the Giants sails.

• Sooner of later you knew the Broncos were gong to crumble for at least one game. The Ravens desperately needed a victory to keep pace with the Bengals and they not only won, they made a statement.

• Maybe Rex Ryan was half right when he said he felt like the Jets outplayed the Dolphins. It certainly appeared that way on offense. But on special teams, Ted Ginn, Jr. obliterated the Jets in taking two kicks to the house. That my friends was the difference.

• Even though Peyton Manning was out of sync with his passes, Joseph Addai proved that not only can he throw, but he can do it left-handed. An equally sloppy 49er defense helped the Colts escape defeat.

• Vince Young may have given the Titans a shot of confidence in leading them to a win, but it was Chris Johnson who was the difference maker as he rushed for a franchise record 228 yards.

Tony Romo proved that he isn’t afraid to use all of his targets by connecting with three of his receivers for touchdowns to beat the Seahawks. The win also moved Dallas into a tie for first with the Eagles in the NFC East.

• On most Sundays, the Panthers have trouble holding onto the ball, as Jake Delhomme currently leads the NFL in interceptions. But this Sunday, a savvy Panther defense forced Kurt Warner into throwing five interceptions of his own in a surprising win over Arizona.

• Even though Owen Daniels is done for the year, the Texans learned that they can exploit a power running game for the rest of the season. Backup RB Ryan Moats stepped in for Steve Slaton and scored a team record three rushing touchdowns in one game.

• The Chargers used the reliable LaDainian Tomlinson and the tenacious defense of Shawne Merriman to defeat the Raiders for the the 13th straight time.

• Isn’t it interesting that more and more reports about Tom Cable being an abusive person are now coming out of the woodwork. While I personally think his former lovers are beating a dead horse into the ground, I find it odd that they waited this long to come forward.

• So much for Derek Anderson being the guy to snap the Browns out of their funk.

• Sometimes I think Rodney Harrison likes to hear himself talk. He suggested Eric Mangini cut Derek Anderson to send a message to his team. Uh, Rodney, a lot more people need to be fired or released before the Browns can ever think about turning it around.

• All you need to know about the Rams/Lions game, a game I affectionately called the Toilet Bowl, is that the Rams James Butler intercepted a pass and forgot to take it out of the end zone. Congratulations to Steve Spagnuolo on his first NFL coaching victory, I think.

• The Falcons gave it a good effort against the Saints last night, but maybe they could have won if Michael Jenkins didn’t drop an easy pass in the red zone in the third quarter.

• Next week we got a couple of key divisional showdowns with the Dolphins at the Patriots and the Giants at the Eagles. See you next Tuesday for the analysis.

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Halloween Special: Silva Week Eight Picks

I will be breaking down every single football game this week. Like on NFL Playbook they break down every single game thats what i did that and my article is long so be ready for a show.

Matchups: Austin’s No Fluke

Six more teams go on byes in Week 8, three of which (New England, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati) have two or more every-week fantasy starters. With your lineup most likely down at least one stud, let’s try to find some sleepers by breaking down the entire weekend game by game.

Last Weeks Record (8-5) My Overall Record (24-17)

Let’s get cracking…

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Minnesota Vikings Impress In A Game They Had No Business Losing

Sunday’s 27-17 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers was a painful game for the Minnesota Vikings, to be sure, but one they had no business losing.

Plenty of things went right for the NFC North-leading Vikings, who stuck with the favored Pittsburgh Steelers for virtually the entire game. Questionable play-calling and poor luck got in between Minnesota and a perfect record, though, and the Vikings fell to 6-1 on the season.

Heading into the game, much ado was made regarding the injury and absence of Minnesota corner back Antoine Winfield. The Viking’s best defensive back, Winfield would force the Steelers to think twice before launching the ball down field.

With Winfield out for a month, the consensus among fans was that Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger would have at least one receiver open all day. It was thought he would be free to pick apart the corner back-by-committee approach the Vikings would take.

During the game, few throws were lofted downfield. The only extended period of time when Roethlisberger was able to consistently find open receivers for 20-25 yard gains was at the end of the first half, when Minnesota was implementing a soft cover-two defense with extremely deep safeties.

Other than that 1:39, the Steelers were held mainly to the ground. This wasn’t of particular concern to Pittsburgh, however, as they managed to have success against the suddenly-porous Minnesota rush defense.

In the first half, the Minnesota defense was surprisingly solid. Despite having to deal with horrible field position because of awful punting, the Vikings held Pittsburgh to just three points (not including the touchdown resulting from the poor defensive scheme at the end of the half.)

Earlier in the half, however, Minnesota had perhaps the best offensive drive of the season. Going 76 yards on 13 plays, Brett Favre led Minnesota down the field with methodical dips and dukes to his receivers.

The perfect picture of Minnesota’s ideal offense was painted when Favre mixed in the occasional 15-20 yard heave to Sidney Rice. If opposing defenses want to know how to stop the Vikings, they need look no further than the drive that resulted in an Adrian Peterson two-yard touchdown dive.

Minnesota had the ball with 3:30 remaining in the half while holding a slim lead. Completing one first down, the Vikings found themselves near midfield, and in prime position to add to their lead going into the half. If coach Brad Childress didn’t feel comfortable going for the end-zone, another acceptable strategy would have been running the clock down.

Instead of going for the points or consuming time, however, Childress and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell accessed their infuriatingly conservative playbook. The play that stuck out the most, though, was on third-and-15, with just under two minutes remaining in the half.

Bevell called for a Chester Taylor dive up the middle, in essence forfeiting the drive. Minnesota was forced to punt, and Roethlisberger took over at his own nine-yard line with 1:39 remaining. That drive resulted in a touchdown.

Rashard Mendenhall tore apart the Vikings during the first drive of the second half, which ended in a Pittsburgh field goal to push the score to 13-7.

With seven minutes remaining in the third quarter, Childress called for the Vikings to attempt a fourth-and-one from Pittsburgh’s 35 yard line, much to the joy of Minnesota fans everywhere.

Favre connected with Sidney Rice for the first down, who ran the ball down the one-yard line to set up the eventual Minnesota field goal. The relationship that has developed between Rice and Favre is certainly worth mentioning and probably deserving of its own column.

Without the mentoring and right arm of Favre, Rice would have never reached the level of performance he has so far this year. Putting up two consecutive 100-yard games, Rice has impressed upon Vikings’ fans the importance of a veteran in the locker room.

Later in the third quarter, the Steelers were in a first-and-goal position thanks to two big plays from Mendenhall and Santonio Holmes. A touchdown would have given Pittsburgh a 10-point advantage, but a Mendenhall fumble helped spark a long Minnesota drive.

Following three penalties early in the fourth quarter, Minnesota faced a third-and-18 from their own 23-yard line. Needing a big play to keep the potential go-ahead drive alive, Rice did his best impression of Vikings’ great Cris Carter on the right sideline, completing a 25-yard pass that was originally ruled an in-completion.

Perhaps the most frustrating penalty call of the game occured at the most inopportune time for the Vikings. A 10-yard touchdown throw to Rice was nullified by a supposed tripping penalty (seen at the 2:00 mark of NFL-Scoreboard-Vikings-Steelers-highlights”>this video ) by Jeff Dugan.

This penalty fueled a 14-point turn around for the Steelers, as they forced a fumble and ran the ball across the field for a touchdown, putting the score to 20-10.

Rookie receiver Percy Harvin ran the ensuing kickoff back for a touchdown of his own, though, giving Minnesota the momentum despite still being down by three points.

The highlight-reel clip of the game came from Peterson in the play directly following the two-minute warning. Facing a critical third-and-four from his own 45-yard line, Favre shuffled a quick pass to Peterson up the middle.

Turning around after catching the ball, Peterson saw Pittsburgh’s William Gay six inches from his face. Instead of attempting a spin, or juke, Peterson simply lowered his head and continued plowing forward for a gain of 29 yards. (See it here at the 3:06 mark. )

In the red zone with under two minutes to play, Favre had the chance to give the Vikings a four-point lead, but tossed the ball a bit too high to Chester Taylor. Unable to hold on, the ball slipped through Taylor’s hands right into a Pittsburgh defender, who returned it for another Steeler touchdown, sealing the fate of the Vikings.

Although now with a blemished record, the Vikings hung with a very solid team at a hostile location. Remove a few questionable play-calls and a fluke interception, and Minnesota is still one of the best teams in the league.

That said, there are certainly some things the Vikings need to improve. While the conservative play-calling at critical times in the game probably won’t cease, Minnesota would be doing themselves much good by working on both late-game pass defense and offensive tackling.

Next week, providing they are able to keep Aaron Rodgers upright, the Green Bay Packers will have a much easier time exploiting the absence of Winfield in the secondary. Benny Sapp, Karl Paymah, and Asher Allen all need to be at the top of their games.

Despite the great performance put up by the Vikings on Sunday against the Steelers, some improvement will be needed in order to maintain their leg-up on the rest of the NFC North.

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Brett Favre: Re-Writing History

It was only six months ago that the main stream media were tweeting, posting, writing, and talking about how tired they already were with the whole Brett Favre saga; even fans had had enough. It was becoming a joke; is he going to stay retired or unretire. Even a four-letter network cut a promo ad poking fun at the whole offseason drama that ensued.

Looking back, was it Favre making this a bigger decision than it really was or was it the networks, media, and sports personalities just trying to reinvent the wheel by making this whole “waffling story” a bigger deal than it needed to be. After all, when Vinny Testaverde retired and came back out of retirement (20 times) was there a circus surrounding his decision and questioning his motive?

Sure Vinny’s decision or announcements were hardly “stop the presses,” but why was it such a big deal for Brett Favre to change his mind and comeback? Why did so many blast him for considering and reconsidering, maybe, just maybe he knew just a little better what was best for Brett Favre.

So many of us can sit at home and play armchair quarterback or GM for that matter, weigh over the circumstances and draw our own conclusions from observation alone. But how much can we really know? How can you measure one man’s heart and really know what fuels his fire?

Maybe he knew what he was doing, just maybe he was right. In hindsight it’s always easier to second guess, because let’s face it, even in the 12th hour it appeared Favre himself didn’t even know what to do; to think if Vikings head coach Brad Childress had not made that one last reach out to the former three-time NFL MVP. If Chilly doesn’t make the call, what would all of us be talking about today?

The simple fact is the call was made, Favre said yes and once again we could be looking at history being made. But the critics will tell you we have seen this all before and all too well. Last season with the Jets‘ 8-3 start, there was talk of a postseason run, and then like a fly hitting a wall; it all became just a bad dream. Could this just be another repeat or are we seeing something different?

Unlike last season, the Jets for Favre were like the next hot girl right after a bad breakup with your longtime girlfriend. It’s always nice to have someone, but it’s not always where you want to be and with whom you really want to be with; but it’ll do. For what it’s worth, Favre made the best of the situation, but like any turbulent relationship doomed from the start it did not end on the best of terms; but it had to end.

The Vikings weren’t ever going to replace his first love (Packers), but like a long time close (girl) friend that has always been there with the shoulder to lean on, understanding, and with open arms to comfort this relationship when first conceived (last year) always made sense. In Minnesota, Favre had strong ties that would make him feel welcome.

Even when Favre was teetering and unsure, rather than understand that at 39 years age the heart wants what the heart wants and that one has to consider can the body survive, the masses (analysts, bloggers, columnists) would rather crucify the guy for seeming to hold a franchise hostage and keeping the football world waiting. It may have seemed selfish to many, but when it comes right down to it, this was Brett’s decision and with the support of his family there was only one person he needed to consider.

His decision to play his 19th NFL season did not come easy and it was quite apparent no one covering the story or having an opinion on the matter and every self-serving so-called football analyst and expert were not going to help make it easy.

From right out of the gate, the Favre-hating nation was quick to jump on his signs of rustiness and call out his perceived limitations. Again, pushing 40 years of age and coming off a season were the toll of 16 games had beat him down, how much longer could Favre really play. Was he even the shell of a player we had watched take a Packer team to the NFC championship in 2007?

The Vikings started strong in 2009 and needed very little help from Favre in the first couple of weeks (after two games; 265 yards passing and three touchdown passes). With Favre adding very little to the offense, why was he even in Minnesota? Was he doing anything more that the other two quarterbacks the Vikings had in reserve couldn’t? And just like that there was the talk of a “schism.” Is that even a word? Everyone and their mother had a take on this.

The so-called schism was being addressed on every air-wave, every talk show, and sure enough there it was on the four letter network being addressed like some kind of physical injury, Favre, Childress, and the Vikings would have to deal with and adjust to. The entire situation was being made out like the Vikings faced a divided locker room.

Why all the drama? Seriously, was Brett wrong to comeback? Was it really that hard to understand a man’s love and deep passion for the game? Apparently Childress was confident of his decision and believed in Favre; so why the attention and why the uproar?

Little did anyone realize or see this coming, but the Vikings Week-Three matchup with the 2-0 Niners would not only define Favre’s reasoning for coming back, but it would mark the beginning of history being rewritten once again.

In dramatic fashion that only Favre can bring, the Vikings’ new team leader took his new team upon his back. Favre would not use his voice to lead the way, but the boy from Mississippi would lead with his actions.

In a battle of then unbeatens the two teams traded haymakers, back and forth throughout the game, it was one big timely play after another. First the Vikings struck late in the third quarter and took the lead with a blistering 101-yard kickoff return by Percy Harvin. Then it was the Niners who struck back early in the fourth quarter with a Vernon Davis catch to lead 24-20.

As the clock continued to wind down, the moment had arrived. It was time for Favre to show the world what he was all about and how he loved the game; and loved to win. Calm, cool, and collected Favre took the field, kept plays alive with his feet, made throw after throw as he drove his team into position.

With just 12 seconds left to play, it was time for magic. Favre scrambled out to his right to avoid the Niner pressure, as he avoided a potential tackler he stepped up the field, and then in a last wing and a prayer throw he let go a 32-yard laser that miraculously found its’ way to the back of the end-zone, into the hands of the newly signed wide receiver Greg Lewis.

Lewis’ grab completed a sensational game-winning touchdown reception that not only elevated the Vikings to 3-0, but ended the talk of any kind of schism or divided locker room. The play was everything you would have expected from a younger, gunslinger, a Favre of yesterday, but this was today and history was being written all over.

In Week Four, Favre would add another chapter to his legacy and make more history. When the Vikings defeated the Packers on Monday night, Favre became the only quarterback in the history of the NFL to defeat all 32 teams in the NFL.

Favre is playing inspired football now. Perhaps all the negative chatter prior to his arrival has motivated him? One thing appears to be certain, not only does Favre have plenty left in the tank, but many of the nay-sayers had it wrong.

Since Week Three, Favre has played like a 30-year-old. His numbers are rivaling the best in the league and over his past four starts he’s averaged 270 yards passing and thrown nine touchdowns with only two interceptions. While many try to explain Favre’s sudden resurrection an interesting comment made during the Vikings-Packers matchup in Week Four by commentator and football analyst Ron Jaworski.

Favre was a late arrival to camp this year, but by Week Four against the Packers he had put in the same length of time of a full training camp. At this point it would be a fair assessment to gauge his progress and level of play; needless to say Favre’s performance on Monday night was flawless (24-of-31 passing, 271 yards passing, and three touchdowns). Against his former team Favre was accurate; his passes had plenty of zip and velocity, while his spirals were tight and on the mark.

So what makes 2009 different from a year ago when Favre seemed to have collapsed in the second half of the season? At no point in 2008 was he this efficient and effective. His strong start last year could not disguise his gun-slinging tendencies with eight interceptions in his first six starts. This season, Favre has been much better throwing 12 touchdowns with only two interceptions and completing nearly 70 percent of his passes.

There’s no guarantee that Favre will hold up this season, but then again there seems to be no reason to believe that he will break down. The bicep injury that seemed to undermine his 2008 comeback hardly seems to be an issue in 2009. He’s throwing the ball as well as he ever has and if history repeats as it has often does, this season is sure reminiscent of 2007.

With all the negative criticism surrounding his return, there are still many just waiting for the moment that Favre will tank or resort to his normal tendencies. For those that still don’t believe, holding your breath is not recommended.At 40 years of age now, Favre is defying the odds and every game he plays and every snap he takes he is rewriting the record books. On Sunday Favre will make his 276th consecutive start (an NFL record). His week seven matchup with the Steelers will present a huge test for Favre as he goes for his 176 career win (another NFL record).

When camp opened up back in the summer, many folks like the Vikings chances heading into the 2009 season. With Favre under center and slinging the rock this well, the Vikings have to like their chances. We may not have imagined it before, but how you have to think we could be watching something very special; you might even say we’re watching (Favre’s) history be re-written.

That’s my take.

By David Ortega

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Minnesota Vikings Win 38-10; Coach Brad, Is This The Kick Ass Offense?

Coach Brad Childress’ offensive play calling over his first three years at the helm of the Vikings has been unimaginative, too conservative and worst of all . . . utterly predictable.  

When Childress came to Minnesota he boasted that his offensive scheme was a “kick-ass offense.” Vikings fans were giddy over the prospect of seeing the purple post numbers similar to when Randy Moss and Chris Carter were catching passes from Randall Cunningham and Daunte Culpepper.

Instead fans saw simple running plays up the middle and too often saw short passes designed for receivers to earn a first down by fighting for yards after the catch.   

The Vikings offense finished 12th overall in the NFL last year.  The finish for the offensive unit was especially underwhelming given that the team boasted the league leading rusher in Adrian Peterson.

Expectations for this year were high with the addition of Brett Favre and Percy Harvin.  The offense point total has not disappointed with the Vikings scoring at least 27 points in each game this year.   

The play calling this year however has occasionally been reminiscent of the past—too conservative and too predictable.  Case in point, the fourth quarter playing calling by the Vikings on Monday Night against Green Bay during Week Four allowed the Packers to get back in the game.

Going into the St. Louis Rams game this weekend, fans were curious to see if the Vikings would unveil their kick ass offense or revert back to their old playing calling ways. 

In evaluating the Vikings play calling against the Rams, fans were left with mixed emotions.  There was nothing really imaginative about the plays called.  Yet, the Vikings did mix up their play  calling enough to keep the Rams guessing.

Simple Plays

The running game was pure vanilla ice cream without a hint of syrup.  The Vikings did not a run a single counter trap for Peterson or Chester Taylor. 

The Vikings were content to go straight ahead running primarily behind All-Pro Steve Hutchinson and Bryant McKinnie.  The result was a very pedestrian 89 yards on 24 carries.  The longest run of the day was 15 yards by Peterson.

The passing game was a little more exotic; imagine an additional scoop of chocolate or strawberry ice cream.

The Vikings really used only four passing plays to dissect the Rams secondary.

First, the Vikings ran their play action with a naked bootleg to perfection all day. 

During their first series, Favre hit a wide open Harvin who subsequently broke tackles down field on his way to a 24 yard gain.  Peterson then took the ball into the end zone on the next play.

During the second series of the second quarter, Favre again hooked up with Harvin on the same play for a nice 19 yard gain.  The Vikings subsequently kicked a field goal.

Second, the Vikings used the screen pass to take advantage of the aggressiveness of the Rams defense.   Favre hit Peterson and Visanthe Shiancoe for gains of 9 and 11 yards respectively.

The Vikings quarterback who used the play most effectively however was Tarvaris Jackson.

The Rams sought to rattle Jackson with blitzes in hopes of an interception that they could take to the house to get themselves back in the game.  

On a 3rd down and 1 at the Vikings 29 yard line, the Rams came with a blitz. Jackson very patiently waited for a screen to develop for his Fullback Naufahu Tahi.   Tahi welcomed the spotlight and went rumbling down field for a 32 yard gain. 3 plays later with the ball on the Rams 36 yard line, the Vikings were faced with a 3rd down and 7.  The Rams expecting Jackson to drop back came up the middle the hard.

The Vikings guessed correctly by calling a center screen for Chester Taylor.  Again, Jackson patiently dropped back and waited for defense to sell out.  Jackson saw the fruits of his patience as Taylor took the screen 33 yards down to the Rams 3.

Third, when the Rams were in zone coverage the Vikings would hit their second receiver after sending their first receiver through the zone as a decoy.

The beneficiaries of this play were Shiancoe and Taylor.  Favre’s value to the Vikings is likely most evident on this play because of his early recognition of the zone defense at the line and his willingness to not to lock on to one receiver.

The best example of this play was the Vikings touchdown pass to Shiancoe in the third quarter.  

The Vikings were in the red zone at the Rams 13 yard line.  The Vikings sent a player in motion; the player was a decoy and it appeared sending him  in  motion had its intended effect of getting the Rams attention.

Favre did not give the play away by locking on to Shiancoe.  Instead as soon as Shiancoe broke open, Favre turned, fired, and hit him in stride preventing the Rams defenders from putting a hand on Shiancoe.

In fairness to the Vikings coaching staff, they probably didn’t open up their playbook to keep their next three opponents in the dark. 

Predictable

While the plays were simple, the Vikings did a good job mixing things up to keep the Rams guessing.

Peterson had not gained more than 100 yards in his past 3 games.  Last year, everyone would have expected the Vikings to hand off the ball to Peterson early and often.

Instead, the Vikings threw the Rams a curve ball by starting with a pass to Sidney Rice followed up with short screen pass to Peterson. 

The message sent by the Vikings is a good message to the Rams and the League. 

In passing to Rice, the Vikings are stating that they feel confident beating teams with their passing game. 

The screen pass to Peterson says he can no longer  be thought of as only a threat to run the ball.  Last year, Peterson had 21 receptions whereas after 5 games this year Peterson has already hauled in 10 catches.

On their second series, the Vikings increased their lead to 14-0 by virtue of Jared Allen taking a fumble into the end zone.

The series starts on the Vikings 34.  Last year, the Vikings would have been content to slowly grind the ball with running plays.

This year, the Vikings stayed aggressive with a pass play.  Unfortunately, Favre was sacked as Tahi failed to pick up a blitz.   Chester Taylor gained 7 yards on the next play with a run.

In his first year, Childress would have probably gone with a running play.  This year, Favre throws a deep skinny flag route to Harvin.  Harvin is behind the defender and it appears that it would be a 40 yard play for the Vikings but Harvin can’t hold on to the ball.

Good call, Coach.  Why not go for the early knock-out punch—you are up 14-0 and you are on the road.  If Harvin catches the ball, the fight in the Rams and their fans might have left at halftime.  Bags on the heads of the remaining fans would probably have followed.

Most fans probably don’t feel that the Vikings offense is a kick ass offense.  The only pass that was beyond 30 yards that was not a screen pass was Favre’s 47 yard pass to Sidney Rice pictured above.

While the Vikings are not as explosive as Moss and Company,the Vikings offense might just be good enough to get the job done if they can continue to keep defenses guessing as to their next move.

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An Honest Assessment of the Minnesota Vikings After the Monday Night Showdown

Coach Jon Gruden loves Bret Favre more than coach John Madden almost to the point where a restraining order might be necessary.   We now know that if given a chance Gruden would welcome the opportunity to coach Favre again.

I can’t ever remember an analyst bringing his favorite film from practice sessions in effort to praise a player.   I only hope for Gruden’s sake that if he did not own the film of Favre throwing deep in practice he acquired the film through the proper channels.

OK, besides Gruden’s affection for Favre, we know that while the Vikings have enough talent to make it to the Super Bowl they might not be the best team in the NFC.

If you are Viking fan you saw several things on Monday night to make you salivate over the possibilities of watching football in February.  However, if you are a NFC playoff contender, or Dennis Green, you aren’t likely ready to crown them. 

Quarterback

Favre’s physical gifts have not diminished as he still has zip on the slants and out routes.  He can throw the ball downfield with authority and can get the ball into his receiver in a two deep zone. 

More importantly, Favre has brought leadership to the team and it is apparent in post game interviews that the youngsters on the team are feeding off of his confidence.

The two questions concerning Favre are whether he is durable enough to last the entire season and can he play well in inclement weather.  Neither of these questions has been answered. 

We will however know more after Favre faces the gauntlet of Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Green Bay starting on week six.

Wide Receivers

The Vikings receivers have made several big plays and are doing a very good job of getting yards after the catch.  Rookie Percy Harvin has especially been impressive avoiding and breaking tackles.   Sidney Rice appears to be poised for a break-out season.

Bernard Berrian however still does not look healthy.  Berrian’s 31 yard touchdown catch against the Packers was due to a mental lapse by the secondary and not his speed. 

While Harvin and Rice have looked very good, the Vikings need Berrian to contribute to have a consistent passing attack. 

Running Attack

The best running back in the NFL is Adrian Peterson and pairing him with Chester Taylor gives the Vikings the best tandem in the league.   Yes, Peterson’s fumble on MNF was disheartening but the organization is unlikely to trade him anytime soon.  Taylor has done a good job doing whatever the team needs and Favre has been smart to publicly show his appreciation for Chester’s efforts.

As much talent that Peterson and Taylor have, they still need the offensive line to create some daylight.   

 
Offensive Line

The best that can be said about the offensive line is that their play has been inconsistent. 

Against the Cleveland Browns, Favre was sacked four times and was hurried several times.  The Lions pass rush put Favre to the turf on three occasions and made sure he was not lonely on several occasions.  Throw in a couple of holding penalties and Coach Childress was ready for aspirin for his headache.

On Monday Night, the offensive line was Houdini like in making the Packers pass rushers completely disappear.  Even more impressive was that the offensive line was not called for holding. 

Steve Hutchinson saw limited time in practice this week with pain in his low back.  If Hutchinson misses significant time the offensive line will not be able to continue the trend established against Green Bay and the running lanes will be greatly decrease.

Run Defense

Teams have had more success rushing the ball up the middle against the Vikings this year.  Currently, the run defense is ranked ninth after leading the league last year.  No need however to hit the panic button just yet because the “fall” to the ninth spot means the Vikings are only giving up an additional 12.5 yards a game on the ground.

Teams playing the Vikings going forward will not likely abandon trying to run the ball up the middle.   The next three games for the Vikings may reveal if the run defense is slipping as the Vikings face teams committed to running the ball in the Rams, Ravens and Steelers. 

Expect the Vikings run defense to step up their play as the unit is still among the very best in the league.

Pass Defense

Statistically, the Vikings pass defense has improved from last year as they are currently ranked 12th in the league as opposed to 18th in the league from last year.  Again, no need to go completely overboard with champagne as the spike in ranking equates to holding opponents to 5.3 fewer yards a game.

Cedric Griffin has done a good job with extra attention he receives player corner opposite All Pro Antoine Winfield.   Griffin has already grabbed two interceptions; he has five over his four-year career.

One glaring need to address in the passing game is figuring out how to defend passes over the middle.  Against Green Bay, the Vikings gave up six passing plays over 20 yards.  Five of the six big passing plays over 20 yards were on throws over the middle.   

Strong safety Tyrell Johnson and free safety Madieu Williams need to make more plays. 

Special Teams

The Special Teams play has improved from last year.  Coverage squads are doing a better job of staying in their lanes and not over committing early.

Punter Chris Kluwe continues to punt well with two coffin corner kicks against Green Bay.  Ryan Longwell is six for seven with his only miss coming from beyond 40 yards.

Harvin and Darius Raynaud have now made Viking opponents worry about their special teams’ coverage.

The Vikings have turned the corner on their special team problems from last year.

Looking Forward to this Weekend

The Vikings should roll over the St. Louis Rams this weekend as the Rams got stomped on by the San Francisco 49ers 35-0 last week and it does not look like their starting quarterback is going to be able to play. Right?

Well, a couple of reasons that the game could be a close hard fought battle:

1. The Vikings are emotionally spent after beating the Packers for their new leader.

2. Rams offensive tackles Alex Barron and Jason Smith are expected to play after missing last week’s game.

3. The Vikings are looking ahead to Baltimore and Pittsburgh instead of focusing in on the Rams.

4. Rams strong safety Craig Dahl and cornerback Ron Bartell return to the lineup to shore up the defense.

5. The Vikings coaching staff will outsmart themselves and allow the Rams to stay in the game.

A poor showing by the Vikings against the Rams will suggest that the Vikings aren’t quite ready to compete with the New York Giants and New Orleans Saints.

However, if the Vikings put the Rams away early it will be a sign that they are a serious Super Bowl contenders as they are clearly focused on getting to Miami.  

Expect the Vikings to join the Giants and Saints as the elite teams in the NFC.

 

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Whitaker’s Week 4 NFL Picks

Lions @ Chicago Bears – The Lions’ poor defensive line will be the difference in this game, a game that Matt Forte will have his 2009 grand re-opening party.
My Pick – Chi-Town

Bengals @ Cleveland Browns – The Browns suck, and the Bengals are better than I or most thought. However, I don’t think this game will be a blowout.  Mainly because of the re-insertion of Browns quarterback Derrick Anderson and his ability to sling it deep, especially to WR Braylon Edwards, which will be tough for the slow safeties of Cinci to deal with.
My Pick – Bengals

Raiders @ Houston Texans – This game will showcase one of the best 1-on-1 matchups you will see all year in the NFL, WR Andre Johnson (the best WR in the game) vs. CB Nnamdi Asomugha (the best corner in the game).  Though it is true, I think Nnamdi will win that matchup (just like did last year when Nnamdi held AJ to 19 yards on two catches), the Texans are at home, and they are the better team.
My Pick – Houston

Seahawks @ Indianapolis Colts – A good friend of mine asked me which will loss would be bigger in this game: the Seahawks’ loss of QB Matt Hasselbeck or the Colts’ loss of DE Dwight Freeney, and I wavered on my answer, but I did come up with one. I think Seattle will be missing Hasselbeck more because with LT Walter Jones missing another game, and his backup Sean Locklear probably missing this one too, Raheem Brock (Freeney’s replacement) will do just fine and so will the home team in this one.
My Pick – Indy in a blowout

Titans @ Jacksonville Jaguars – The fact that the Jagz (5-11 last year) have a win and the Titans (13-3 last year) don’t is enough karma for the Titans to get their first win in Jacksonville, Sunday.
My Pick – Titans

Giants @ Kansas City Chiefs – Chris Canty DT/DE, Justin Tuck DE, Kenny Phillips S, and CB Aaron Ross are all starters for the NFL’s best defense, and they are all out for the team’s trip to KC.  Cheif No. 1, WR Dwayne Bowe, may be out, but that is the only major Chief starter who may be out for this game. And even if he does play healthy, Giant corner Corey Webster is more than capable of locking Bowe down, leaving the Chiefs one- dimensional on offense—with guys like DTs Fred Robbins, Barry Coefield, and Rocky Bernard all healthy, that other dimension for KC will be non- existent.
My Pick – NY Football Giants in a blowout

Ravens @ New England Patriots
– This will be the week Tom Brady turns back into Tom Brady.  The Ravens’ corners are average at best, and as great as Ed Reed is, he can’t be everywhere at one time.  New England’s pass offense will be enough to give the Ravens their first loss of ’09.
My Pick – New England

Bucs @ Washington D.C. – Yes, Washington was the first team to lose to the Detroit Lions since George W. Bush was President, but the fact that this game in week four is in Washington, and the Bucs have nobody to handle Albert Haynesworth (Bucs Pro Bowl center is still out with a triceps injury).  So, first time starter Josh Johnson and the alleged run-first Bucs will have all sorts of problems all afternoon.
My Pick – Washington in a blowout

Jets @ New Orleans Saints – The story here is pretty clear, Saints’ O vs. Jets’ D.  The Saints have the best offense in the NFL, and I’m not talking stats or numbers (granted they are stat wize the No. 1 in the NFL, but I’m just sayin’), they just do.  The Jets have a very talented defense that is still missing starting OLB Calvin Pace, but even with Pace, they don’t have the NFL’s best defense.  Even better for the Saints, they are at home to host the Jets.
My Pick – New Orleans

Bills @ Miami Dolphins – Now I know Chad Pennington is out for the year and the other Chad (Henne) will be making his ever first NFL start, but LT Jake Long and RBs Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams will take all sorts of pressure off of Henne’s shoulders.  And if sack master JP, i.e. LB Joey Porter (he has a hamstring issue) plays this Sunday, he will be going against former RT filling in at LT Johnathan Scott (former backup now starter Demetrius Bell is out for week four with a groin problem), and Kirk Chambers, who is a former LT who will play RT (cuz Scott is moving to LT).  Chambers is going up against possible future HOF OLB Jason Taylor, so Trent Edwards will have little time to go deep to WRs Terrell Owens and Lee Evans.
My Pick – Miami

Cowboys @ Denver Broncos – The Broncos aren’t as good as their record that’s clear, but the Cowboys aren’t either.  If AJ Feeley is the quarter back for Carolina last Monday Night the Cowboys are 1-2.  And with Dallas gaping holes at the WR (TO gone) and OLB (long time Cowboy Greg Ellis gone) spots, they won’t get the ball down the field and they won’t get to Denver QB Kyle Orton.  With Denver getting better each week running the football, it will make things even easier for the Broncos through the air, especially since the Cowboys’ secondary has struggled all year.  By the way, the only QB the Cowboys have picked off all year is Jake Dellohme.
My Pick – Denver

Rams @ San Francisco 49ers – No Frank Gore, no problem.  No Marc Bulger (former first round bust, QB Kyler Boller will step in for Bulger), BIG problem.  The Rams are still without second overall pick RT Jason Smith, and last week the Niners put pressure on Brett Favre all day, (memo to those who don’t know already, Boller is not Brett Favre).  The Niners may even open it up a lil’ and might let Shaun Hill go for 300 yards for the first time this season, and why not?  The Rams are fourth worst in the NFL in yards per pass giving up 8.3 per.
My Pick – San Francisco in a blowout

Chargers @ Pittsburgh Steelers  – In recent history the current NFL Champs have owned the Chargers, even beating them twice last season.  So far this season, the Steelers are 1-2, and mighty ticked off at the fact they are 1-2, probably because they gave away their last two games at the end.  The Chargers on the other hand owe their first win this season (Chargers are 2-1) to a last second Phillip Rivers drive and Darren Sproles TD run, up in Oakland.  Willie Parker is out for this one, but LaDainian Tomlinson should play, the only problem.  The amazing thing is that doesn’t make much of a difference, Chargers Pro Bowl DT Jamal Williams is out for the year, and Mewelde Moore has done a pretty good job when he’s had to fill in for Willie Parker.  On the other side, the Chargers’ offensive line has been pushed around all year and center Nick Hardwick is still out (ankle injury), and the Steelers of course have one of the best run defenses in the NFL, even when Troy Polamalu is out.
My Pick – Pittsburgh

Packers @ Minnesota Vikings – Granted, the vaunted gave up 24 points at home to Shaun Hill and a rookie RB, but with Packers’ starting LT Chad Clifton still out, and his replacement usual starter at LG Daryn Colledge getting schooled by a half-way decent DE in Cinci in week two (Antwan Odom).  I’m sure Jared Allen could try for five sacks of his own, and put the hurt on Brett Favre’s replacement, Aaron Rodgers.  Not only that, but hey, the Packers let talented Rams RB Steven Jackson go 163 total yards, and last time I checked, Adrian Peterson is more talented than any running back in the NFL, let alone Jackson.

My Pick – Minnesota

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Viking Fans, Calm Down and Enjoy The Season . . .

Enjoy the season. 

Despite a 3-0 start, many Viking fans do not believe that the purple have a realistic chance to make the playoffs.  They characterize the Vikings play against the Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions as uninspired.  Many feel that the San Francisco 49ers gave the Vikings last Sunday’s game as a gift and that Minnesota is really at best a mediocre 2-1 team.

When he was at the helm several years ago, Coach Mike Tice in a press conference told Viking fans to calm down and enjoy the season.   Where are you Coach Tice when we need you to calm the troops?

Viking fans would do well to heed the advice of the Tice and calm down and enjoy what unfolds during the year.

Below is a look at some of grumblings that I overheard this week about the Vikings and the merits of the complaints.

The team doesn’t have the killer instinct of a Super Bowl contender . . .

The Vikings opened the 2009 season against the Cleveland Browns and the Detroit Lions.  Last year, the Browns struggled to win 4 games last year and the Lions went the distance without a win.  Both teams hired new head coaches and both decided to start the season with quarterbacks who had little to no NFL experience.  It is difficult to imagine better sacrificial lambs for a team with Super Bowl aspirations.

However, instead of quickly dispatching the Browns and Lions, the Vikings fell behind both teams before waking up in time to put away both teams in the second half.

The doubters poured water over the excitement of the 49ers victory by pointing out that the key play was not Favre to Lewis with 2 seconds left.  No, they say the key play was when 49ers Dre Bly dropped the gift wrapped interception the play before that should have ended the game.

While, the Vikings have not “crushed” any of their first three opponents that does not mean that they don’t have the right killer instinct to make it to Miami. 

Last year’s Super Bowl Champions the Pittsburgh Steelers struggled to put away the Cleveland Browns in week 2 by a score of 10-6.  Yes, those Browns that managed only 4 wins last season.  The next week the Steelers lost to the Philadelphia Eagles 15-6 with their leading rusher Willie Parker getting only 20 yards on 13 carriers.

The 2008 Super Bowl Champions New York Giants started the season with losses to Dallas (45-35) and Green Bay (35-13).  The Giants even stumbled late in the season against the Tarvaris Jackson led Vikings 41-17 during week 11.

Super Bowl contending teams don’t crush every team that they play and they even have occasional bumps in the road.  Super Bowl contenders play more consistently throughout the year and make fewer mistakes than their opponents.

Are the Vikings Super Bowl bound?  Is there any team this year that is a lock to make it to Miami?  No.  The field is wide open to several teams.   We do know however that the Vikings have played more consistently.  The Vikings have made fewer mistakes as they are +4 on turnovers.  Minnesota is on the short list of contenders.   

Favre is ready to implode with a flurry of interceptions, he can’t lead the Vikings to the promise land . . .

While Favre is being paid handsomely at $12 million a year, the Vikings are not looking for him to win games for them by passing early and often.   Rather, the Vikings are calling upon Favre to make the right decisions on offense and to understand that he doesn’t have to win by the game by himself.  

Favre has accepted the challenge.  Favre has recognized blitzes and made the right read.   While not every pass has resulted in positive yardage the right play is being executed. 

Favre has not forced the action in the first three games.  He has even allowed himself to be sacked and he has thrown passes away as opposed to trying to thread the needle.   In three games, Favre has five touchdowns against only one interception.

Despite his early success, the Vikings faithful are wondering when Favre is going to abandon the recipe for success and stretch the defenses of opponents such that 300 yard games become commonplace.

No one should expect that Favre is going to pass for 300 yards every time he goes out.  Favre is clearly not the spry young gunslinger he was 10 years ago.  He is now the crafty veteran who is just as likely to beat you with his mind as he is to beat you with his strong arm.

Vikings fans should sit back and enjoy the last (or latest?) encore of Brett’s career.  He may no longer be a fantasy football league stud, but Favre can still play at a high level in the NFL.   Favre has a better quarterback rating than the young gunslingers Ben Roethlisberger, Tony Romo, Phillip Rivers and even league glamour boy Tom Brady. 

What Favre needs to continue to bring to the table for the Vikings is his leadership, enthusiasm and attitude.   One of the small things the coaching staff has impressed upon the players is the willingness to do some “work.” The Vikings staff is looking for players to do “work” beyond their initial assignment and go down field to try and throw another block.

The play of the game for Favre against the 49ers was not his throw to Lewis for the go ahead touchdown (or the near interception to Bly).  The play of the game was when Favre did some “work” by running down the field more than 30 yards from the line of scrimmage to throw a block for Bernard Berrian on All – Pro Linebacker Patrick Willis. 

The Vikings needed a leader this season on the offensive side of the ball.  Plays like the block for Berrian are infectious.  Everyone needs to do work regardless of what he has accomplished in the past.  The tone has been set by Favre.

Understanding that there is no need to force the action, skills that are still among the best and now you add the intangible of leadership . . . Favre might just be what the Vikings need to take them to the next level.

Special Teams continues to be their Achilles Heel . . .

The Vikings have already given up two touchdowns on special teams this year.  The ghost of Reggie Bush embarrassing the Vikings last year has begun to haunt the Viking fans.

The first touchdown surrendered by the Vikings was a 67 yard punt return to Cleveland’s Joshua Cribbs.  The second touchdown occurred in the closing minutes of the first half of last week’s game when Nate Clements of the 49ers scooped up a blocked field goal and returned it 59 yards.  

The play with Clements should not have happened.  However, kudos to San Francisco in that they understood that Rookie Offensive Tackle Phil Loadholt might be vulnerable.  Don’t worry; I am going to Loadholt in a minute.

While, the Special Teams have given up two big plays – the reality is that the play of special teams of the Vikings has improved.  Coverage teams are doing a better job of staying put in their lanes.

First, Cribbs is not your average punt returner.  Cribbs is considered by many to be one of the best return specialists in the AFC.   Cribbs represented the AFC in the pro bowl as a return specialist in 2008.

Second, the Vikings now have real threats to score on special teams.  Percy Harvin returned a kickoff 101 yards against the 49ers.  Harvin has a legitimate chance to make the Pro Bowl as a kick returner.  Darius Reynaud has also done very well returning punts and it is only a matter of time before he takes one the distance.

Third and most importantly, the Vikings have won the battle of field position as the special teams units on kicks/punts returned have gained more yardage than their opponents. 

The Browns averaged 23 yards on their kick returns and 22 yards on their punt returns; the Vikings averaged 33 yards and 27 yards.

The Lions averaged 16 yards on their kick returns and 7 yards on their punt returns; the Vikings averaged 3o yards and 13 yards.

The 49ers averaged 23 yards on their kick returns and only 6 yards on their punt returns; the Vikings averaged 45 yards and 11 yards. 

That’s right, Harvin is giving the Vikings at least 30 yards of field position when he touches the ball on kick-offs. 

The Special Teams play is still a work in progress but clearly things have improved from last year for the special teams unit.

The Offensive Line is not good enough . . .

Despite having the best running back in the game in Adrian Peterson, the Vikings running game has struggled the past two weeks.  The offensive line simply has not consistently created enough running lanes. Favre’s consecutive game starting streak is in jeopardy as he has been pummeled by defensive linemen the past three weeks. 

Center John Sullivan is getting battered as a piñata.  Why did we get rid of Matt Birk? Loadholt has already picked up bad habits from Left Tackle Bryant McKinnie in being too upright and slow on passing plays. 

Loadholt and Sullivan have also collected holding penalties at inopportune times.  Adding insult to injury, Loadholt picked up a holding penalty on play his man still managed to put Favre into the turf.

When you want to get to Favre in a hurry, you blitz over Loadholt and Sullivan. Offensive coordinator Darrel Bevel has tried to slow the rush of the defense by sprinkling in center screens and screens on the right side of the ball.  Unfortunately, the inexperience of Sullivan and Loadholt can’t be completely disguised. 

It is undeniable that the weakest links among all of the Viking starters are Loadholt and Sullivan.   I see these two players as the Vikings Achilles Heel.  Fortunately, it is a long season and the Viking faithful must hope that the play of Loadholt and Sullivan will improve by the end of the year.  

If the Vikings don’t make it to Miami it will be because the offensive line was taken to the proverbial woodshed for a good old-fashioned spanking.  Week 6 against Baltimore followed by Week 7 against Pittsburgh will be tough midterm exams for Loadholt and Sullivan.

The ride for the Vikings won’t always be smooth as there will likely losses along the way.  Does Favre have enough magic left? Will the Special Teams continue to improve upon what they have started this season?  Can Sullivan and Loadholt mature over the year such that they are no longer seen as the weakest link?

The Vikings clearly have enough talent to contend for Miami and make this year a memorable season for all of the right reasons.   

Viking fans . . . “Enjoy the Season.”

 

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NFL Power Rankings: Week Three

Huge changes in the rankings this week. Call me fickle, but I think it takes two weeks to see the real identity of several teams. To be sure, these rankings will most likely look absurd by week eight, but hey, you don’t read these for the accuracy. Wait…

Sorry for taking  so long to get these up and that I’m mailing these in more than Matthew Berry on his Fantasy Focus Baseball Podcast, but I’m driving up to Oregon in six hours, and am still nowhere close to packed yet. Give me a break.

32 (30) – 0-2 – Rams – Went from the most fun to the most aggravating team to watch in just 4 years. Hey St. Louis, don’t worry, the NBA will be here soon. Wait…

Sadly, I don't think this would shock anyone in three years.

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Sadly, I don’t think this would shock anyone in three years.

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31 (29) – 0-2 – Browns – I’m sorry Cleveland, but you’re gonna be in for a rougher Sunday in Baltimore than a Jew on Easter. (It’s ok, my dad’s Jewish)

30 (28) – 0-2 – Chiefs – It doesn’t get a whole heck of a lot worse than losing to the Raiders at home. On the bright side, they get to play in Philly this weekend. Wait…

29 (31) – 0-2 – Lions – Just when you think the Lions might not be as bad this year, their defense has allowed the most points in the NFL.

28 (27) – 0-2 – Bucs – Don’t you love it when a team gets a new defensive-minded head coach and the defense is even worse than last year?

27 (24) – 0-2 – Jaguars – Earnest Wilford makes over $7 million this season. Really?Earnest Wilford?

26 (23) – 0-2 – Dolphins – When your team doesn’t have a single good WO, your QB is Chad Pennington and your best RB smokes more weed than Snoop Dogg and lives in the drug capital of the United States, yeah, your team isn’t very good.

25 (26) – 1-1 – Raiders – Is there a player that gets less out of his talent that JaMarcus Russell?

24 (25) – 1-1 – Panthers – I don’t care how decent Delhomme looked on Sunday, he is still worse than your girlfriend making you watch the Notebook and then not even making it up to you afterward.

23 (32) – 1-1 – Bengals – Sorry Cincinnati, I was a little too rough on your Bengals earlier.

22 (17) – 1-1 – Seahawks – As good as Seneca Wallace was at Iowa State, the Hasselback injury hurts. Big time.

21 (19) – 1-1 – Bills – Congrats T.O., on your first TD as a Toronto Bill.

20 (18) – 1-1- Redskins – If you picked Washington in your NFL suicide pick this week, you must have been more scared than I was after watching the preview of Jennifer’s Body and realizing Megan Fox would never be attractive to me again.

19 (21) – 2-0- Broncos – Even though I picked Denver as a pre-season sleeper, is there a less deserving 2-0 team?

18 (9) – 0-2 – Titans – “There’s an old saying in Tennessee—I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee—that says, fool me once, shame on—shame on you. Fool me—you can’t get fooled again.” – George Bush

17 (20) – 1-1 – Texans – That loss to the Jets looks a little bit better now, doesn’t it?

16 (14) – 1-1 – Cardinals -Even though Jacksonville is not good by any stretch of the imagination, winning an early game on the East Coast is big for Arizona.

15 (13) – 1-1 – Packers – I wonder which is worse: picking Green Bay in your suicide pool and getting mocked by all your buddies for losing in week two, or being a Packers fan and getting mocked by the entire NFL for losing to the Bengals—at home.

14 (10) – 1-1 – Cowboys – I can’t figure out which one of these is dumber: The centerfield hill in the Minute Maid Park, Tyler Perry, the plot of Surrogates or having a mega-scoreboard that hangs too low. My head is about to explode.

13 (16)  – 1-1 – Bears – Usually a team would move up after beating the Steelers, but Jay Cutler is too much of a spoiled, prep school douche bag.

12 (15) – 2-0 – 49ers – I think Shaun Hill’s seven step drop is so ugly that Matt Hasselback got hurt on purpose just so he wouldn’t have to watch it any more from the sideline.

This never gets old.

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This never gets old.

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11 (22) – 1-1 – Jets – Anyone that can make Tom Brady look like Owen from Dodgeball, earns my prodigious combination of dislike and respect.

10 (5) – 2-0 – Colts – That is about the ugliest way to start a season two and oh.

9 (4) – 1-1 – Eagles – The NFL has to be scripted, no other way this works out so perfectly for Ron Mexico…err Michael Vick.

8 (6) – 1-1 – Chargers – It would suck to be the guy who got suckered into drafting LT in the first round.

7 (8) – 2-0 – Falcons – Hey Atlanta, could you beat Carolina any less convincingly?

6 (2) – 1-1 – Steelers – It’s a good year for curses, they’re making a comeback. Don’t even try to come back Troy, just save yourself for next year.

5 (1) – 1-1 – Patriots – Maybe God isn’t a Pats fan. Or maybe He’s just testing us. I choose to believe the latter.

4 (11) – 2-0 – Giants – I think Eli Manning read my Anti-man Crush story and is now playing well just to spite me.

3 (12) – 2-0 – Saints – There’s a new title-holder for the Greatest Show on Turf.

2 (7) – 2-0 – Ravens – Wow, a  Ravens team that can finally do it all: pass, run and play D. Scary.

1 (3) – 2-0 – Vikings – I have faith. Although a loss to my hometown 49ers this weekend wouldn’t be the end of the world. Hey Brett, can you get all the INT’s out of your system on Sunday? K thanks.

 

The UO Sports Dude

www.keithabecker.wordpress.com

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