January 22, 2018

NFC Championship game – Vikings at Eagles … well, that happened

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

For the first couple of drives, it really did look like the Vikings would earn their first ticket to a Super Bowl in decades, but it didn’t last long. Turnovers on the offensive side of the ball and some real head-scratching missed tackles on the defensive side meant that the Eagles could do very little wrong and ended up with a 38-7 win to seal the NFC title.


January 20, 2018

Looking toward the NFC Championship game on Sunday

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

This Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings go to Philadelphia’s Linkin Park Lincoln Financial Field to play the Eagles for the chance to go to Super Bowl LII. Neither team has ever won a Super Bowl title, and both fanbases are feeling the pressure of “destiny” for this year. The Vikings are the first-ever team to advance to the Conference Championship with hopes of playing the big game in their home stadium. Everyone expects this game to be decided more by the ferocious defences than by any heroics on the offensive side of the ball. At The Daily Norseman, Ted Glover explains why “destiny” is a poor basis on which to predict an outcome of a football game:

What do the Vikes need to do to come home with one more game to play?

Destiny. That’s a dangerous word, and it’s used a lot right now, by both the Minnesota Vikings and the Philadelphia Eagles. After the Minneapolis Miracle, it’s hard not to think there’s something special going on in Minnesota right now, yet the Eagles have continued winning without Carson Wentz, and dispatched the defending NFC Champions last week. Both franchises have storied yet unfulfilled histories, and both fan bases firmly believe fate and destiny is on their side this time:

Destiny and fate aren’t going to bring home a win on Sunday, though. Solid, fundamental football will, and if the Vikings are going to get to the Super Bowl, here’s what they’re going to need to do.

Survive the initial wave of emotion. In the aftermath of the Saints game Minneapolis Miracle, a lot of folks asked me who I would have rather the Vikes played, Atlanta or Philadelphia. My answer was and still is Atlanta. Matt Ryan is better than Nick Foles, but the rest of the Falcons team isn’t as good as Philly, and Atlanta would have been a home game. Lincoln Financial Field is going to be a madhouse, and the energy level will be off the charts. The Eagles are 7-1 at home this year, and have scored first five times.

My big worry with this game is that the Eagles will feed off of that, jump out to a quick lead, and then the Vikings will start pressing. Things will then compound and steamroll, and we’ll be in for a long day. Minnesota’s 6-2 road record is impressive, but consider: their two losses came at the hands of two playoff teams, Pittsburgh and Carolina. In both games the home team jumped out to quick leads, and the Vikings could never dig themselves out of a hole.

In all eight of their road games this year, the home team scored first in six of them, and that is something the Vikings must avoid at all cost on Sunday.

But the flip side to that if the Vikings can survive that wave, and maybe get an early lead in Philly, it’s really going to affect that crowd. Look, in some ways, these two fanbases are kindred spirits in terms of their team’s fatalism and belief in being cursed. We don’t boo Santa or throw batteries at him like Philly Fan, but if Minnesota can go up say 10-0 or 14-0 early, that crowd is going to get uneasy. If the crowd can get taken out of the game, they could even start to turn on the home team the later the game gets. That could be an advantage for the Vikings and it might make Philly press, and hopefully things will start snowballing in the wrong direction for them.


Prediction: Last week, I felt supremely confident that the Vikings would handle their business against the Saints, and do it by a fairly comfortable margin. At halftime, I felt like a genius. With 10 seconds left in the game, I was questioning every life decision that brought me to that point in Vikings fandom.

The last time I had that much of an emotional swing in that compressed amount of time was in Afghanistan, in 2001. I’m 100% serious. Now granted, the emotions I felt were kinda sort different (abject misery to pure bliss in 10 seconds vs. stark raving terror, the most relieved I’ve ever been X1000 that I’m still alive, then utter fury at those bastards so let’s bring the bad attitude right f***ng now boys in about half a second), and I never want to go through that kind of swing again.

I won’t avoid it this week either, at least I don’t think so. This game is going to be a nail biter, the two best teams and the two best defenses going toe to toe for three hours. It’s going to come down to the last possession, and someone will make a play we’re going to talk about for years.

Vikes win, 16-13.

Skol. Let’s Bring It Home.

My crystal ball has been cloudy for most of the season, which is why I’m only at number 27 of 98 in the DN Pick ‘Em NFL pool, but I see the outcome a tiny bit higher-scoring at Minnesota 17, Philadelphia 14. I desperately hope we’re both right about the winning team this time around.

January 3, 2018

The wisdom of Zim Tzu, early postseason edition

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

After each Vikings game, head coach Mike Zimmer is contractually obligated to talk to the local press for at least a few minutes. Although he’s getting better at hiding it, this is the part of his job he likes the least. As a result, he resorts to speaking a certain coded language that only The Daily Norseman‘s Ted Glover is fully conversant with, and he generously shares his dynamic translation skills with the rest of us in the unwashed masses:


January 11, 2016

Vikings lose wildcard game to Seattle 10-9 on failed field goal attempt

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

It certainly wasn’t a pretty game to watch, and given the extremely low temperature at kickoff (tied for the third coldest playoff game in NFL history), nobody was expecting a high-scoring extravaganza. The game turned on two plays: a bad snap to Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson that he somehow turned into a big gain and a missed field goal by Blair Walsh that ended the Vikings’ hopes. 1500ESPN‘s Andrew Krammer:

They made the gap feel closer than 27 yards.

This wasn’t like any of the Vikings’ other five losses in the second season under Mike Zimmer. The same team that was thoroughly handled by San Francisco, Green Bay and Seattle proved to be the better defensive team in Sunday’s 10-9 loss and first-round playoff exit at the hands of the Seahawks. They were the better offensive unit up until kicker Blair Walsh missed a chip shot, shorter than an extra point, into the open, windy end of TCF Bank Stadium.

They showed signs of a potential NFC force turning the corner, giving traction last week to their shock-the-world mission by walking out of Lambeau Field with a division title. The first 59 minutes and 34 seconds through Sunday’s bone-chilling game put the odds in the Vikings’ favor — Walsh was 30-of-31 in his career from inside 29 yards.

But their shot at dethroning the reigning conference champions ended at Seattle’s 9-yard line, where Walsh pushed a 27-yard attempt wide left.


Though it was more than a missed kick that ended the Vikings’ season.

A botched fourth-quarter snap gave life to the Seahawks. Wilson chased the snap 15 yards behind the line of scrimmage, recovered and evaded a duo of Vikings’ blitzers in cornerback Captain Munnelryn and linebacker Eric Kendricks. Wilson scrambled right, and the coverage followed. That left receiver Jermaine Kearse wide open in the middle of the field. Kearse outran cornerback Xavier Rhodes and picked up 35 yards to the Vikings’ 4.

“Honestly, I thought the ball still was on the ground,” Munnerlyn said of Wilson’s recovery. “He had a knee down and I’m like, ‘Man, is he going to get up and run with it?’ He picked it up and [spun] out and found the open guy. At that point, I wish I could take that play back and go up field…I didn’t know where nobody was. I was just trying to make a play and that’s one play I regret.


January 9, 2016

Your get-on-the-bandwagon guide to the NFL playoffs

Filed under: Football, Humour — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 09:51

If your favourite team isn’t in the NFL playoffs (that’d be 20 of the 32 teams), Draw Play Dave is here to help you figure out which of the lucky playoff teams you should be supporting:

The 2015 NFL Playoffs ARE FINALLY HERE! Playoff football is the most fun part of the entire year, except if your team is actually in the playoffs, because then the stress is unbearable. But this isn’t for those fans of (twists face into sheer contempt) “good teams.” Not all of us were so lucky to have our team actually do well this year. For most of us, our team sucked, and we need someone to fill that hole for the remainder of the year. It’s time to sidle up and pretend to be friends with a winner so you can save what’s left of your sports emotional state.

This is a difficult process. Which team is so deserving of your love? Why should any of these teams win if your team had to sit at home? Which of these teams winning would piss off people you hate the most? Well, there are a couple of guidelines to follow if you need assistance:

  • Root for the underdog, unless they are a hated rival team
  • Root for the team with least amount of historical success, because those fans deserve some happiness, unless they are a hated rival team
  • Root for the team that annoys you a little less
  • If you are a glory seeking butthole who doesn’t care about anyone but you, root for the team with the best chance to win

With those guidelines in mind, let’s take a look at every team in the playoffs, with pros and cons for bandwagoning each team.

January 15, 2015

Reasons to hate every surviving team in the playoffs

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 07:31

At Football Savages, “Draw Play” Dave Rappoccio explains why it’s okay to hate all of the NFL teams left in the hunt for this year’s Lombardi trophy:

So only 4 teams are left in this year’s quest for the Lombardi trophy. The Seahawks of Seattle, the Colts of Indianapolis, the Packers of Green Bay, and the Patriots of Boston New England. I hate all of them. I wish for fire and brimstone and chaos in this final 4. I want the winners to limp into the final confrontation in Arizona and die on the field halfway through the first quarter. I hate them. Here’s why I think you should hate them too:

Colts – 2 Super Bowl Championships
Packers – 4 Super Bowl Championships
Patriots- 3 Super Bow Championships
Seahawks- 1 Super Bowl Championship, but it was won just last year

All 4 teams have been to the Super Bowl since the turn of the century. Outside the Packers, all have been there multiple times, and the Packers still won their appearance. The Patriots have the longest Super Bowl win drought, at a measly 10 years, and they’ve been twice since ’04. There is no underdog this season. There is no plucky team that could. There are only spoiled rich kids. The kids in your school who would get the new video games as they came out. The kids who would get dropped off in BMWs. The kids who had pools and pool parties and never invited you. The kids who would get A’s for participation because social interactions are easy when you are the kid everyone adores. Meanwhile the Detroit Lions sit in the back corner of the classroom and have a reputation as the smelly kid.

But championships aren’t the only reason to hate a team. Lots of teams have won championships, many of them multiple championships. But those teams aren’t here. The Steelers are sad and old. The 49ers are literally on fire. The Broncos have been taken behind the shed and Old Yeller’d. The Giants are sitting in the basement eating glue. The Cowboys are running around the lawn with no clothes on covered in filthy mud screaming obscenities. No, we need more to hate these 4 rich kids. We need to add real depth to our hate. So lets go over this, team by team.

November 27, 2014

How bad is the NFC South this season?

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 07:29

Dave Rappoccio says it’s this bad:

This week, the NFC south is a dumpster fire, and that might be an insult to dumpster fires. The Saints and Falcons are tied in first with 4 wins each, and the woeful 2-9 Buccaneers are one game out of picking 1st in the draft and 2 games out of first place. No team looks to have a winning record by the end of the season and we could potentially have a 5-11 division winner while a potential double digit team in a real mans division misses the playoffs entirely. IS THIS ACCEPTABLE?

January 2, 2014

Green Bay playoff game at risk of TV blackout in home market

Filed under: Business, Football, Media — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 08:39

For some reason, I had the impression that NFL blackout rules didn’t apply in the post-season, but Dan Zinski says there’s a real risk that the Green Bay Packers may not sell all of their tickets for this weekend’s game against the San Francisco 49ers:

Packer fans are the greatest, most loyal and diehard fans in the world. Which explains why, as of Wednesday afternoon, there were reportedly still 7,500 tickets available for Sunday’s home playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers.


Yes it’s true. Amazingly, the Packers are struggling to sell out their home playoff game. Despite their fans being better than everyone else’s fans.


The tickets must be sold by 3:40 PM Thursday to avoid a blackout. But if history is any indication the NFL will give the Packers an extension.

If the Packers still can’t sell the tickets and the blackout goes into effect? Look for a mass exodus out of Green Bay and Milwaukee and into all the towns where the game is on television. That will be a bad time to be traveling anywhere in Wisconsin.

And just wait until Sunday night when everyone is driving home, totally wasted. In the name of public safety, maybe the state government should buy up the tickets.

My guess is that the nightmare scenario won’t come to pass, that the tickets will get bought up and everyone will be able to see the game. And what an enjoyable game it will be…for people who hate the Packers.

On the other hand, I’ve seen predictions that the game-time temperature could be as low as -15F, which would be the coldest game in NFL history (the current record is -13F at the “Ice Bowl” in 1967). I wouldn’t blame the fans quite as much for not wanting to be part of that kind of historical event.

Update, 3 January: Earlier this afternoon, the Packers announced that they’d sold all the tickets to the game (a local business apparently stepped in to buy the remainder), so the game will be available on TV in the Wisconsin area. The weather reports are looking worse, however, as the temperature could go as low as -18F (or -25F) with a potential windchill of -53F. Brrrrrrrrrrrr.

July 6, 2013

Dateline 1972 – Nixon tries to “fix” NFL blackout policies

Filed under: Football, History, Media — Tags: , , , , , , — Nicholas @ 08:52

The St. Paul Pioneer Press raided the National Archives to find this clip of President Nixon talking to his attorney general about the outrageous NFL TV blackout policy:

Football populist Richard Nixon was furious at the NFL and wanted to flex his political muscle to end television blackouts.

At 2:06 p.m. on Dec. 18, 1972, Nixon met with Attorney General Richard Kleindienst at the Executive Office Building and railed against the league’s policy that prevented fans from watching their team’s home playoff games on TV.

The 37th president of the United States wanted to intervene because the Washington Redskins-Green Bay Packers postseason game at RFK Stadium on Christmas Eve was going to be blacked out in Washington, D.C., even though it already was sold out.

In a conversation secretly recorded by the White House bugging system that helped doom his presidency, Nixon threatened to sue the league if it did not lift blackouts for the playoffs. The devout Redskins fan ordered Kleindienst to “get busy with your lawyers” and take the fight to NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle and Redskins owner Edward Bennett Williams.

January 6, 2013

Vikings lose in Green Bay

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 11:48

Yesterday, I said “Everyone is expecting Green Bay to romp over the Vikings today“. That became an even more likely outcome just a few hours before game time, as the Vikings announced that starting quarterback Christian Ponder would be inactive with an elbow injury suffered in last week’s win. Backup Joe Webb would be the Vikings quarterback for the Green Bay game, not having thrown a pass since the preseason. After the game, it was made clear that the problem wasn’t pain, it was range of motion: Ponder couldn’t move his elbow enough to make the throws.

The Vikings got the opening kickoff and put on an entertaining drive that ended with a Blair Walsh field goal. Webb didn’t complete a single pass on the drive: it was all Adrian Peterson or Joe Webb running the ball. After the first drive, however, the Vikings went away from what had worked in the opening drive and were unable to move the ball consistently.

Jesse Reed at Bleacher Report:

Maybe we all took Christian Ponder for granted in 2012.

Joe Webb proved an invaluable lesson on Saturday night: The NFL is a quarterback-driven league, and it doesn’t matter if you have the best running back in the world; without one, you won’t win in the playoffs.

Webb started the game because Ponder couldn’t overcome an elbow injury he suffered in Week 17, and the Minnesota Vikings offense was a hopeless mess without Ponder.

That’s right.

As much as many (myself included) have ripped Ponder for his flaws, his value to the Vikings was made apparent in the worst way against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on Saturday night.

Webb was simply atrocious.

1500ESPN’s Judd Zulgad and Tom Pelissero:

January 5, 2013

Everyone is expecting Green Bay to romp over the Vikings today

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 12:17

The final gun sounded at the Metrodome last weekend in a Vikings win over Green Bay … and Vegas was already posting odds for Green Bay to win this week’s wild-card matchup by a big margin. Even the San Francisco 49ers are game-planning to face Green Bay next week after they beat the Vikings today. That’s pretty much the definition of “we don’t get no respect”.

The Daily Norseman‘s Christopher Gates explains why this isn’t a problem:

So, once again the Minnesota Vikings find themselves in the playoffs, and they don’t have a lot of people supporting their cause. Oh, there’s no way they can beat the Packers at Lambeau Field … ignoring the fact that there wasn’t supposed to be any way for the Vikings to beat the Packers last week because of how super duper awesome the Packers are in domes and such. The Packers are just too talented … the Packers are just too good … the Packers have Aaron Rodgers … I’m sure you’ve heard all of it since last Sunday night. How bad is it?

The San Francisco 49ers are already game-planning for a match-up against the Green Bay Packers next week.

Yeah. So there’s that.

The Vikings aren’t favored to win on Saturday night in Green Bay, and they shouldn’t be … don’t get me wrong on that. As it stands right now, the Packers are a better team than the Vikings are. How much better is something that we could debate for a while … and the gap is significantly smaller than it was just 12 months ago … but they should be the favorite as it stands now.

For whatever reason, the folks that cover the National Football League just don’t seem to be as impressed with the turnaround of the Minnesota Vikings as they probably should be. To hear these folks talk about the Minnesota Vikings going into this season, the “rebuilding” of this team was supposed to take anywhere between ten and thirty years, and it was going to take a significant amount of time before the Vikings caught up to not only the Packers, but to the Chicago Bears and the Detroit Lions in the NFC North. (Remember when the Lions were better than the Vikings? That was weird, huh?)

Yet as we sit here, just hours before the start of the 2012 NFL playoffs, the Lions are 4-12 and in the top 5 of the 2013 NFL Draft, and the Bears are looking for a new head coach after missing the post-season following a 7-1 start. But the Minnesota Vikings … a team that, just one year ago, had a franchise player coming off of knee surgery, no stadium, and (allegedly) no hope going forward … sit ready to take on the Packers in the wild card round of the playoffs. Sure, they’ve done it on the legs of Adrian Peterson … but a ton of credit has to go to a lot of younger players on this team. Guys like left tackle Matt Kalil, safety Harrison Smith, and kicker Blair Walsh have played big roles for this team in their first season, and going into this season half of the Vikings’ roster had two years of NFL experience or less. The stars on this team are playing like stars, but the role of the youth and their ability to accelerate the rebuilding process is not to be ignored.

I hope the Vikings can win again — I don’t really expect it, but the team is much better now than they were earlier in the season, so my hope isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Coming into the 2012 season, I expected a 6-10 or 7-9 with a lucky break or two. I really didn’t expect 10-6 and a playoff berth. The team has exceeded pretty much everyone’s expectations. Here’s hoping they can do it again tonight in Green Bay.

December 29, 2012

Here you go, Chicago Bears fans: your temporary Green Bay Packer fan application

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 09:16

Courtesy of Bear Goggles On, a fan publication for Chicago Bears fans.

Packer Fan Application Form

For those not following the NFL playoff picture, Chicago needs help from Green Bay — in the form of a win over the Vikings — to qualify for the last NFC wildcard spot.

April 21, 2012

The NFL draft: top picks no guarantee to turn losers into winners

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 11:29

Tom Pelissero has an interesting column up on the actual impact high draft picks can have on the teams who select them:

The NFL is designed to promote competitive parity, from the salary cap to revenue sharing to a draft order inverted by record and strength of schedule.

However, it remains a league of haves and have-nots in many ways. Look no further than the inability of roughly half the league to capitalize on the sorts of opportunities the Minnesota Vikings have with the No. 3 overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft.

Since the NFL playoffs expanded in 1990, 17 teams have made multiple top-three draft picks, accounting for 56 of those 66 picks (84.8%) overall. Only three of those teams — St. Louis, Indianapolis and Washington — have won a championship.

The other 15 teams have combined for 32 Super Bowl appearances, including 19 of 22 titles (86.4%).

In other words, no amount of talent can fix a bad team if the team is bad for organizational reasons. Management/leadership matter more than raw talent, at least in NFL terms.

March 3, 2012

New Orleans to rename NFL team after “bounty hunting” revealed

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 11:05

Football is a fast, hard, dangerous game. But the New Orleans Saints made it that bit more dangerous for their opponents by offering head-hunting bonuses for injuring players during the game. This is against NFL rules, and it’s rather surprising to find that players earning hundreds of thousands per year could be motivated by such relatively trivial sums ($1,000 to $1,500 for knocking players out of the game):

The National Football League on Friday found the New Orleans Saints guilty of a wide-ranging system of bounty payments to between 22 and 27 defensive players from 2009 through 2011, and player-safety-conscious commissioner Roger Goodell could bring the hammer down very hard on the franchise.

The most alarming finding by the league, according to one club source who was briefed on the investigation late Friday afternoon, was this: Before the 2009 NFC Championship Game, Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma offered any defensive teammate $10,000 in cash to knock then-Vikings quarterback Brett Favre out of the game. Favre was hit viciously several times in the game. Favre told SI.com Friday evening: “I’m not pissed. It’s football. I don’t think anything less of those guys.”

The details of Vilma’s offer were in a report to the 32 NFL owners, sent out by the league to detail further what the league’s 50,000-page investigation found.

Early indications late Friday afternoon were that the sanctions against the Saints and their former defensive coordinator who the league said administered the bounties, Gregg Williams, will be severe. The league said the penalties could include suspensions, fines and loss of draft choices — the latter of which could be particularly damaging to the Saints, who do not own a first-round pick this year. Their first choice will be late in the second round, the 59th overall … unless Goodell takes the pick away.

Football is a rough sport, but Goodell needs to crack down on this with enough force to send a message to the entire league. Taking away New Orleans’ draft picks would certainly be a punishment of that magnitude.

June 16, 2011

Welcome to Vancouver. Please ignore the rioters

Filed under: Cancon, Sports — Tags: , , , , , , , — Nicholas @ 08:02

Lord Stanley’s Cup won’t be coming back to Canada this year, but as Brian Hutchison points out, that’s only one of the losses sustained by Vancouver last night:

The season ends, and the worst does come to pass. Vancouver, you have lost. Twice. But the game hardly matters now, does it? The score? Who cares? As I write this, my eyes are stinging, my is throat sore, having breathed in some sort of dispersal chemical that police deployed — in desperation, and perhaps too late. There could be some residual effect from having inhaled acrid, toxic smoke from burning cars, exploding cars, destroyed by lunatics still running crazy on the city’s downtown streets.

Blood in our streets. I saw people on the ground, bleeding. Shattered glass everywhere. Police cars set alight. Major bridges are now closed, preventing public access into the downtown core. Transit is plugged up, there’s no way out. More police and fire crews are arriving, from the suburbs, but again, it seems too late.

And as I write this, the sun has just set. Vancouver, what a disgrace.

Update: A Tumblr page posting photos of the rioters and looters:

The National Post has more photos of the aftermath.

Update: Joey “Accordion Guy” deVilla points out that one of these riots is not like the others. Oh, and a commentary on the most famous photo of the riots (so far).

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