(Editor's note: I'm writing this article right after the Twins' gut-wrenching loss on Friday night. So if I sporadically throw in random rants about the game, please bear with me. I need an outlet to vent before I light myself on fire to REDUCE the pain of that loss.)
It has all the ingredients, doesn't it?
Minnesota hosts Baltimore and heads to Pittsburgh in the next two weeks, who just happen to be the two teams that met for the AFC Championship last year.
The Vikes are undefeated. The Rams are 0-4 and three of the four losses have been ugly blowouts. They've already been shut out twice this season. The Rams have looked uglier than a Marshawn Lynch/Jim Kleinsasser lovechild.
In theory, the Vikings should slap the Rams around like they were Miguel Cabrera's wife.
(Low blow? Sure was. I don't care. It makes me feel better that the Twins defeated a wife beater on Tuesday. It's just too bad that a steroid-abusing, purple-lipped cheater decided to have the first good playoff game of his career tonight. DAMMIT!!)
However, whenever analysts talk about "looking ahead" and "playing down to the level of their competition", this is more or less the blueprint for what they're talking about. All signs point to Week 5 being a dreaded "Trap Game" for the Vikings. In the past, it's exactly the kind of game the the Vikings have either made way too close (the "moral defeat" as the Bill Simmons put it in today's article) or lost outright.
But you know what? I'm not buying it. I say the Vikings methodically take care of business this week. This is the 2009 Vikings, and it looks like they might just know how to close out games they should win.
(Speaking of closing out games they should win...Joe Nathan. Really?! I mean, really?! You're one of the best in the game, but you're going to be forever remembered as the guy who allowed the first (and probably only) clutch hit of A-Rod's career. DAMMIT!!)
If you've read my articles before, you're probably aware I'm not exactly huge on "research" or "fact checking". But here are some numbers to let you know why I just don't see a close game on Sunday:
- The Vikings have scored at least 27 points in each game this year and average 29.5 a game. The Rams have scored 24 points the entire season thus far.
- The Rams have lost 14 consecutive games.
- The Rams have recorded seven sacks in 2009. The Vikings recorded eight on Monday night alone.
- Darren Sharper has three more interceptions than the St. Louis Rams.
- Adrian Peterson's rushing yardage by game: 180, 92, 85, 55. I'm going out on a limb here and saying that he reverses this trend and have one of those games where he reminds everyone that he's the still The Best Player in the NFL Period. I see around a buck fifty and a couple scores for Purple Jesus. (I'm Eric's fantasy team and I approve this message.)
- When a ball lands fair and bounces over the wall, it is considered a Ground Rule Double, not a foul ball.
(Sorry, that last one didn't have to do with the Vikings or Rams at all. But apparently it needed to be stated after tonight's absolutely awful call. On the bright side, it's good to see that Tim Donaghy found a new job umpiring left field at Yankee Stadium. DAMMIT!!)
It doesn't sound like Marc Bulger will play, leaving the immortal Kyle Boller more than likely to get the start. If Bulger can't go, the backup QB will be someone named Keith Null. So the Rams' depth chart at QB is probably as follows:
As a Computer Science major, I find this completely hilarious. It looks like their second quarterback doesn't exist! I don't care if you get it or not--that joke was for me and the other nerds of the world.
Although it's the prototypical trap game, I say it's too obvious when you add it all up. But just in case you needed more proof, I stopped over and browsed the Turf Show Times threads to see what Rams fans were saying about the game. Under a "Keys to the Vikings Game" Fan Post, a Rams fan commented "Lose by less than 30 points and score a TD". Not exactly lofty expectations right now in St. Louis.
Prediction: Vikings 34, Rams 13 (That's right, I'm predicting less than 30 points AND a Rams TD! They'll be dancing in the streets in St. Louis!)
The rest of my Week 5 NFL picks are after the jump. (I'm hitting at over 75% this year!)
(GO TWINS, AND F*CK THE YANKEES! Hopefully the Dome still has enough magic left to ward off the Evil Empire a couple times.)
Hope team in CAPS:
RAVENS over Bengals: The battle for first place in the AFC North. I know, I can't believe the Bengals are involved in it either. If I'm wrong here and Cincinnati is in sole possession of first place after five weeks, I would suggest stockpiling canned goods. Armageddon can't be too far behind.
Browns over BILLS: That's right, I'm going with winless Cleveland on the road. The Bills seem to enjoy giving teams their first win of the year. The Browns looked slightly frisky last week, so I'm picking Cleveland here along with Dick Jauron getting canned by next weekend. If so, it's definitely better in the long run for the Bills. Every time I see Jauron on the sidelines, it reminds me of Weekend at Bernie's. Not a good thing.
PANTHERS over Redskins: There may have never been a worse 2-2 team than the 2009 Washington Redskins. How bad are they? Well, they're getting points from the an 0-3 team and the Human Turnover, a.k.a. Jake Delhomme.
Cowboys over CHIEFS: Can we call this the "Hmm, Maybe our Quarterback Isn't All That Good After All" Bowl?
GIANTS over Raiders: My eliminator pick of the week. Do you think JaMarcus Russell struggles horribly with accuracy in all parts of his life, or just on the football field? If a buddy asks JaMarcus to toss him a beer, does he throw the beer 5 yards over his friend's head? When he goes to the bathroom, does he just miss the bowl altogether? I'm serious.
EAGLES over Buccaneers: McRibb is back and the Eagles are coming off a bye week. Meanwhile, the Bucs are obviously celebrating the 33rd anniversary of their franchise by playing exactly like their inaugural 1976 team. Way to pay tribute Tampa!
49ERS over Falcons: I know Frank Gore is still out, but I think Patrick Willis & Co. can shut down Tony Gonzalez and stuff Michael Turner. The Patriots proved that if you do that, the Falcons aren't much of a threat offensively.
CARDINALS over Texans: The Jekyll and Hyde Bowl! I seriously have no idea what to make of either team, so I'm taking the home team coming off a bye.
SEAHAWKS over Jaguars: It sounds like Matt Hasselbeck will be back, so I like his team this week. What I don't like is his EAS commercial. Really EAS? A balding guy wearing a non-flattering purple workout shirt is supposed to make me get ripped by buying your product?
Patriots over BRONCOS: McDaniels knows a ton about the Pats, but I still say the sensei beats the pupil. I also say that Elvis Dumervil will get a 15-yard penalty during a crucial drive for sneezing in the general direction of Tom Brady.
Colts over TITANS: Wow, the Titans are staring 0-6 straight in the face. (They head to New England next week.) But maybe all Tennessee needs to win is for me to stop picking them to win every week. So, um, here you go Titans! Enjoy!
DOLPHINS over Jets: I kind of sense an addition by subtraction with the Fins here. With Chad Pennington's injury, it looks like Miami is just going to pound the ball on the ground and mix in a few shots down the field with Chad Henne, who's actually capable of making those throws. Playing to your team's strengths--what a novel concept! (Don't worry Tony Sparano, it took Childress almost four years to figure that out. You're doing it in your second year coaching.)
Last week: 11-3
Season so far: 47-15