Before we get all uppity about a lack of article last week, I was travelling out to FedEx field itself to visit a surprisingly huge and enthusiastic group of Vikings fans, drink with them, and gift the gift of a Redskins home game to my lady. They say mixed couples never work out, but seeing as it’s ‘Skins-Vikings, it is surprisingly workable. It wouldn’t if it were a packer fan, but then again dating a packer fan is beyond the pale of imagination, anyways.
That said, we’ve now moved from the precipice down to the abyss, set up a tent and started eating raw fish like Gollum. It has not been pretty. It has not been kind. It has fomented vitriol amongst fans and bobbleheads, and caused more than a few grey hairs. On the bright side, the Minnesota alcohol industry is enjoying a economic boom, so there is that.
Let’s get to it.
Who Fed It, Who Ate It
Seeing as I’m covering 2 weeks with this one, I’m going to pick a few highlights and/or trends. I really don’t plan this out before I start typing because I have the attention span of a goldfish in a bowl full of beer. That should make you feel better about betting on my advice, right?
The Browns have continued their penchant for putrescence. I seriously think we’re on the brink of seeing another record being tied in a team going 0-16. Much like the previous sole holders of said record, the Lions; The Browns seem to be approaching the game at this point with about as much enthusiasm as bunion-rubbing time for Oprah’s butler. I’ve seen fry guys more excited to hear the “ding” than the Browns coming onto the field to play. Props to Browns fans for sticking with their team through this, and even bigger props to the various chemical dependency centers in Cleveland.
The Chiefs have been quietly slugging out 5 straight wins, including 2 over the hideously-clad Jaguars and the “Where’s the dab now?” Panthers. I’ve got all the fashion sense of a blind man in a second-hand kilt store, but I think the NFL ratings would rebound by a mass burning of the Jaguar uniforms. On the other hand, I think ratings could be worse, but the lack of having to see “dabby-superman” do his field shtick combined with Newton’s pouty-pressers while dressed like said blind man are sustaining some of those ratings. I’ve seen children dress better with clothes from mom & dad’s “secret” closet. On the other hand, the Chiefs have been playing smart, steady ball, placing the combined weight of consistent play and Andy Reid’s mustache on opposing teams to grind out wins.
Finally, the packers have looked every bit as bad as the Vikings of late. Bobbleheads have been thrown into a tizzy. I think I saw 3 or 4 announcers wearing bibs to catch the drool that would normally be captured by Rodger’s jock strap. The packers defense has been about as effective as putting out a house fire with a dixie cup, giving up 78 points in the last 2 games. You did not misread that… 78 points to a combination of the Lions and Titans. While normally this would be a sufficient reason for me to bust out a bottle of beer and celebrate, I cannot in good conscience… mostly because I haven’t stopped to buy more beer. More fun than the losses is watching the confused reaction of the bobbleheads. It’s like watching college kids on election night (oooooo topical) try to make sense of the new world around them. I wanna feel sorry for the poor, confused little guys… but I don’t because they tend to grate on my nerves much like watching Cher try to act.
The Agony of Defeat
2 more losses, both winnable games. 2 more gigantic bowls of disappointment. Aside from my trip, I’ve reverted to spending time on my favorite hobby to take my mind off of this stretch of crappery; Lurking about in dark rooms with loud music playing. Normally I reserve that for playing a rousing game of “Wild Bill and Jodie Foster” but sometimes you just need to lurk-off a couple losses.
Before we get to specifics… however, I do want to give a shout out to AlBuddah from vikefans.com and the NOVAVikes team for putting together an excellent Vikings Legends night in Arlington with Paul Allen, Pete Bercich, Greg Norman, Visanthe Shiancoe (wow I hope I got that right), Jim Dugan, and Hall-of-Famer Carl Eller. It was a great event in a great venue and over 300 Vikings fans showed up for it the night before the Redskins game.
Also, thanks to said individuals for an incredible tailgate. Seeing that much purple on enemy turf is a testament to the vans and was an amazing experience. Our fans are spread wide and everywhere, like my family tree, but in a good way. The Redskins fans themselves, some who even participated in the tailgate, were top notch as well. Even when we went up in the 2nd quarter, they were fantastic fans and it was a overall great experience to share football without BS. Thanks to all who made it possible.
Back to lurkey lurkey darkness.
I’m not sure what I can say that hasn’t been said. The Vikings have seemed to lose their spark after the bye. All 3 phases of the game have been suboptimal with a lack of sacks, pressures and big special teams play to go along with the utter lack of blocking. On the bright side, we seem to have started trying to at least mitigate the frighteningly bad offensive line play with a short passing scheme and more outside runs.
However, can we please please pretty please either stop trying to gain a whole 6 inches with Matt “The Cheese” Asiata, or bring in someone who doesn’t turn around at the line and runs hard? Hell let Linval Joseph carry if we need to. The laws of physics say that him falling forward will generate at least a yard. We simply do not have the blockers for a back like Asiata to grind out tough yardage. On that note, it’d be nice if we tell McKinnon that the field is not an audition for Dancing With the Stars. I’m sure he cuts a mean rug, but part of the job of “running back” is “running”.
Otherwise, Bradford has been disproving the glass-man title like a Snopes article, getting up from countless hits and sacks and continuing to be if not stellar, at least serviceable all things considered. Our receivers are emerging as solid weapons, with Diggs bordering on superstardom. We just need protection for these plays to develop.
The Lochdowns For Week 11
In week 9 I went 2-1, missing my upset special. Turns out the Eagles are not as legit as I thought. Still that makes my record a solid 14-7 despite furiously pounding loss-beers so to Vegas we go!
Lochdown 1 – I’m avoiding the easy Steelers/Browns pick this week, because that’s like picking Brock Lesnar over a baby. Instead I’m going to go with the Giants over the Bears. The Giants are specialists at making games harder than they need to be but the Bears were bad before losing Alshon Jeffery to suspension. Now they’re Kanye-singing-Queen levels of bad (google it…ugh I need to share that pain). The Giants will turn in a pretty solid performance, now that OBJ is settled into his new life with the kicking net, and they will win this one.
Lochdown 2 – The Patriots are favored by 13 over the 49ers. That may not be enough. The 49ers – purveyors of the worst “take a knee” since the ’98 NFCC Vikings, are just a bad team. Watching them play is like watching your least favorite nephew try and learn the bagpipes. The Patriots will win this one in a likely blowout that may even shock Vegas.
Lochdown 3 – The Upset special this week is *cue drum roll*… the Saints upsetting the Panthers! Let’s make no mistake, both teams are desperate yet still within reach of the Falcons. Both teams are by all accounts mediocre at the absolute most-positive-spin. This will be another shootout, and despite how much the bobbleheads are claiming the Panthers are “resurgent”, I think this year the Saints have their number. Expect more petulance in the post-game pressers as the Saints sweep the Panthers this year despite having a defense composed entirely of cardboard cutouts of actual players.
Now in regards to the Vikings… I know I wear purple-tinted glasses. I picked them when we were going 5-0. New season fandom turned into legit belief. I picked them after their first loss because surely they wouldn’t lose 2 in a row… I picked them after the 2nd loss because surely they wouldn’t go into a skid. I picked them after their 3rd loss because there was no way we’d sink into that kind of funk.
Well now, after their 4th straight loss… I’m picking them again! The Vikings are hosting a Cardinals team that barely escaped the clutches of the aforementioned 49ers and are for some reason trying to fall further, faster than the Panthers this year. This is the single best chance for the Vikings to bounce back and avoid the season going into utter free-fall.
Offensively, well, we’re now down to the large guy who tends the slurpee machine at 7-11 for left tackle with Jake Long’s season ending. That said, the team showed signs of life in Washington, and are growing into the WCO style groove that they need to keep scoring points. The Cardinals defense is tough, make no mistake, so it won’t be hanging 30+ points on them, but it will be enough to let the defense wake up.
That defense will shake off their hibernation and do just that. Offensively, the Cardinals are much like the Vikings in overall style (at least from what I’ve seen). This should equate to some familiarity for the Zim Reapers to cast aside previous aspersions and get back to delivering the kind of hits that give the pizza guy a concussion on his way to your house. Combine this with the home field advantage of US Bank stadium and an excitement level that should be through the bird-slaying roof and the D should turn in a performance the likes of which has been unseen since week 5.
This is a must win, moreso for the Vikings who are but one game from the tightly-contested NFC North lead, but both teams are desperate to keep their playoff hopes alive. That said, the Vikings have been backed into a corner… and we all know what happens when Vikings are backed into a corner…. They tap the keg that’s sitting there and decide to raid northern England.
That said, the Vikings pull this one out 21-17 in a pitched battle. Nowhere to go but up!
Stay focused, my lasers!