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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

2015 NFL Predic-- I Mean GUARANTEES

Is that headline clickbait-y enough? Anyway, since training camps are starting, I've got football on the mind. So here are a list of things that I predict GUARANTEE will happen this year.

There will be a quarterback controversy in Denver. The more I think about this, the more I like it. As a lifelong Vikings fan, I feel every fanbase should have to endure at least one bafflingly stupid quarterback controversy that makes you question why you decide to associate yourself with such meatheaded fans. There have been many in Vikings history; after all, the most popular Vikings player is always, always the backup quarterback. 

But the absolute worst that I had to sit through was 2003. Daunte Culpepper was finally beginning to bloom after a rough 2001-02 stretch, living up to his 1st round draft billing by playing really well against Green Bay and Chicago. He got hurt after taking a helmet to the back in Week 3 at home against Detroit, but Gus Frerotte heroically saved the day and successfully filled in for Daunte the next two weeks as the Vikings improved to 5-0.

Daunte was ready to come back, but many fans still wanted Gus. Yes that's right, the majority of Vikings fans were already through with our immensely talented, physically gifted 11th overall pick of 1999. They wanted Gus God Damned Frerotte over Daunte Culpepper for fuck's sake. Gus fucking Frerotte!! I am incapable of getting over this.

So as a result of that nonsense, I take delight when fans can't help but act like idiots and shout for the new guy. The current climate in Denver is absolutely perfect for it too - it's Year 4 of Peyton with no championships, he's older and gimpier and noodlier, and Brock Osweiler is just itching to get in. He will get his shot this year, play decently enough, and fans will demand he play over the greatest QB ever. I can't wait.

Teddy Bridgewater will have a better season than Drew Brees. File this under "I can't help myself." But you could really stick any number of guys in this statement other than Teddy. Ryan Tannehill, Eli Manning, maybe even Colin Kaepernick. I think Brees is finished.

He'll still rack up a shitload of yards, and he's thrown for at least 33 TDs the past 7 seasons. But he appears to have acquired the Vinny Testaverde/Neil O'Donnell-ish quality of throwing an interception so bad, you can't help but wonder "What the hell was that??" out loud. There are several examples to point to last year - keeping a godawful Tampa team in a game they had no business being in with three INTs, making this inexplicable throw nursing a 6 point lead with 3 minutes left against Detroit, short-arming a prayer to Marques Colston, or throwing an atrocious pick-6 to Will Hill against Baltimore

Sure anyone can cherry pick a few bad plays. But the three I linked are more than just bad decisions - they're bad throws, woefully inaccurate. The attempt to Colston against SF is especially damning, because it's a clean pocket with all day to throw - and the result was a wounded duck that had no chance in hell.

The popular Brees comparison for his current state is late 90s Dan Marino, but this coming season he might actually be worse. The Saints have a whopping twelve wideouts on their roster right now in a desperate attempt to find something, anything, resembling a reliable target or potential big play guy. The best of the bunch is 10 year veteran and surefire injury waiting to happen Marques Colston. After that, it's Brandin Cooks. Their best TE is Ben Watson. Yeah, that Ben Watson. It's going to get ugly.

As for Teddy, we'll get to him later.

The Oakland Raiders will finish above .500. They can't run the ball worth a damn (o-line ranked 28th in adjusted line yards in 2014) but they can pass protect extremely well (3rd overall in adjusted sack rate, allowed just 28 sacks in all of 2014). That allowed Derek Carr to become what the Raiders haven't had in decades - a halfway decent young quarterback. 

They drafted Amari Cooper 4th overall this past May to help him out, and if the o-line is as good as it was last year (they let center Stefen Wisiniewski go but signed KC free agent Rodney Hudson, everyone else is back), then Carr will have plenty of time to go deep and allow Cooper to do what he does best. The Raiders also picked up Michael Crabtree, so he'll have an opportunity to work underneath while Cooper stretches the field. So in short: decent QB + time to throw + Cooper + Crabtree = a great shot at 4000+ yards for Carr. 

The problem is their defense sucks. They do have a superstar in the making in Khalil Mack, who may as well be the heir apparent to Patrick Willis as best linebacker in the league. But after him, the Raiders defense is flimsy and old. They accumulated only 22 sacks last year, a whopping 16 below the league average.

I do think their offense will be good enough to outscore some teams, however. Their schedule pits them against some truly lousy defenses like Chicago, Tennessee, Pittsburgh and San Diego twice. I also think Denver comes crashing down to Earth this year, and KC also regresses a bit.

So hey, things are looking up for the Raiders! And not just because they signed Samantha Christian Ponder. Plus it's not like they went out and got someone like Jack Del Rio as their head coach or anyth--



God... dammit... well, I'm sticking by my guns. The Raiders(' offense) will be good this year.

For my next guarantee, we hand things over to Shannon Sharpe.

JB, YOU EVER TRY AN WATCH HIGHLIGHTS ON EN EFF ELL NETWORK? YOU GOT DEE-YON AND MITCHELL IRVING MUMBLIN' AN STUMBLIN' ALL OVER THEIR WORDS... HEYLL, IF THEY NEEDS A GUY TO DO THAT, I'M RIGHT HERE! SHANAWN SHARPE O'ER RIGHT HERE!

I CALL MARVIN LEWIS, AND HE TELL ME... HEY WAIT A MINIT...


OH I SEE HOW IT IS BOOM. THAT HOW YOU PLAY ME?


Y'ALL THINK I CANT READS THE HIGHLIGHTS? JB I'S A REGULAR BRINE WEEYUMS, I BEEN DOIN HIGHLIGHTS A LAWN, LAWN TIME. I REED MEEYUNS AND MEEYUS OF HIGHLIGHTS, I REED HIGHLIGHTS IN MY SLEEPS. HEH, COACH KNOW!


I GAR-AWN-TEE THAT YO'S TRULY, SHANAWN SHARPE, WILL BE ON YOUR TV SCREEN SOMEHOW SOMEWAY THIS FALL, AND JB I HAVE TO AGREE.

Moving on, Teddy Bridgewater will Just Win Football Gamesin 2015. I was excited to see that Bridgewater brought about a split opinion between varying statheads, namely Football Outsiders and Pro Football Focus. To put it simply, FO thought he was pretty good last year and PFF thought he was pretty lousy.

Obviously as a Vikings fan, I've suffered through excruciating quarterback play, so it's nice enough to see some light at the end of the tunnel with Bridgewater. But it's even better that we have one of Those Guys - a guy that frustrates people because he doesn't put up gaudy stats, but he Just Wins. Vince Young held this moniker briefly at Tennessee before passing the torch to Mark Sanchez in 2009.

Alright, Bridgewater only won a handful of games last year, but he's well on his way. He rarely forces things, but still slings it downfield where only his receiver can catch it. He bounces back from mistakes, as he showed against Miami, rebounding from an awful 3rd quarter interception to put up 18 points in the 4th. He's not afraid to take a hit, step up in the pocket and deliver the damn ball, unlike those with names that rhyme with Phristian Conder. The Vikings offensive line was in tatters, so Bridgewater took his fair share of hits. But it never seemed to matter too much.

Gritty. Gutty. Leader. Bridgewater. 

Friday, May 30, 2014

I'm Getting the Hell Out of Here

I was born in Minnesota, grew up in Minnesota, lived in Minnesota, and two weeks from now I'm leaving. I'm leaving the midwest entirely to move to New Mexico. But before I do, I wanted to make a couple lists of stuff I will miss and stuff I will not miss about being here.

I won't go into too much detail why I'm leaving. It's nothing interesting anyway -- seriously, I'm the most boring person on Earth, all I really need is my dog and a beer and I'm happy. But it boils down to one of those existential-type deals where you ask yourself, "Why not?" I'm 32, a good opportunity presented itself, might as well go. 

I'll start with stuff I won't miss about Minnesota, so I can end this post with sappy Jim-Nantzian warm smarmy shmaltzyness:


I WILL NOT MISS:

- The Minnesota Department of Transportation. Particularly the guy who thinks its a genius idea to schedule all major highway construction projects to begin at the exact same time. And the committee of people who close a random bridge and elect not to put up any sign/notification within 2 miles of said closure. (Of course, this isn't to imply that the New Mexico DOT won't cause their share of problems, but I can almost guarantee there will be a hell of a lot LESS problems.)

- Phantom traffic light changes. Related to the previous point, but these get special attention. I've spent extended time in Pennsylvania, Texas, Iowa, Wisconsin and New Mexico, but Minnesota is the only place where a traffic light will change even if no other car is waiting there. It'll just change for the sake of changing. Evidently, the purpose of a traffic light here isn't to regulate traffic, it's to stop every car. And if it's the Sheridan Road light on 66th in Richfield, even if it's 3AM, you will wait there for the full 90 god damn seconds GOD HELP YOU.

- The horrendous ragweed pollen that permeates the air from mid-August until the end of September. 

- Paul Allen's voice.

- Local news interrupting TV broadcasts with MONUMENTAL WEATHER UPDATES OH DEAR GOD IT'S RAINING WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE.

- All the silly weather nonsense that everyone is sick to death of hearing about. But special shout out to black ice. Goodbye, black ice.


I WILL MISS:

- Big V's. The shittiest, diviest shitty dive bar, but it was MY shitty dive bar, dammit.

- Pizza Athena at Pizza Luce. Food meant for kings among men, and I'm honored they let a mere mortal like me have one once in a while.

- Surly Beer. See above, replace "food" with "drink."

- Name-dropping random obscure athletes that have played in Minnesota at one point or another. I love conversations like, "Remember Richard Park?" and seeing people's faces light up with recognition. I've always loved the fact that the mere mention of names like Steve Lombardozzi, Hunter Goodwin, Stanley Roberts, Maxim Sushinsky, Jermaine Wiggins or Scott Stahoviak makes people happy. (Or angry, if you mention Nick Punto.)

- Target Field. And whatever the new Vikings stadium ends up being named. I'm bummed I'll miss out on that.

- the Triple Rock.

- the 3-4 week stretch in May and again in October when it's just friggin PERFECT outside.

- Just how friggin nice everyone is here. Minnesota Nice is a cheesy cliche but it's not a myth. 


I'm sure I forgot a ton of stuff in the MISS category but that's just off the top of my head. I have another two weeks to think of more junk.