Ahh, Halloween. A night full of ghouls, ghosts, goblins, and grandeur. A time for kids to consume 60,000% of their daily allowance of sugar. An evening for girls to dress up as provocative as they want with no social repercussions. (One of the main reasons why Halloween remains my favorite drinking holiday of the year.) And of course, the perfect setting to tell your very best scary stories.
This Halloween, there are few stories scarier than the Minnesota Vikings. A team that's supposed to contend for the NFC crown has stumbled to a 2-4 start and faces a tough road test against the 5-1 New England Patriots. The Pats have won their last twelve regular season home games. Meanwhile, Monday will be the one year anniversary of the Vikings' last road victory. Yes, you read that right. The calendar has nearly done a full lap since the Vikings have walked off an opponent's field victorious.
Scared yet? I sure am. To celebrate the spooky holiday that could be a bloody mess for the Vikings, here's my second annual cheesy Halloween gimmick where I dole out costumes that best fit players in the upcoming game. (Yep, I did this last year too. No, I'm not in a rush to get my game preview posted before heading to a Halloween party--why do you ask?)
Mummy: Thousands of years old. Covered in bandages. Groans a lot and doesn't move around very well. Sounds just like our quarterback! (And yes, boys and girls, he's gonna start at the very least. The Streak trumps all. We might see T-Jax at some point, but Favre will take those first snaps if he has to do it from a wheelchair.)
Ghost: You're pretty sure ghosts are there, and you might even see them from time to time, but there's no actual substance to them. You can even move right through them. Same goes for Jared Allen and the rest of the defensive line. They're averaging a whopping one sack per game now. It's no secret that teams are taking advantage of Allen's over-pursuit and running right through the gaping hole he leaves in the line. Just a hunch, but I'm guessing Bill Belichick and company might be able to exploit that if the Vikings don't fix it. Just like the famous "Boo" ghosts from the various Mario games, our defensive front doesn't seem to move until you're already past them.
The Headless Horseman: It's amazing how both the antagonist of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and Brad Childress can terrorize their respective towns with absolutely nothing above their shoulders. Childress is trying to save some face with the whole Favre situaton by saying he's "leaning" towards Tarvaris Jackson. Pfft. Like he's actually in charge! I still have some faith in Brad Childress the coach--the play calling last week was pretty creative. But I've lost all hope in Brad Childress the leader. At this point, I think I'd take the guy with a pumpkin for a head.
Werewolf: I gave this to Favre last year, but I think we have a better fit this year. A werewolf can seem pretty tame most of the time. But given the right settings, it can drastically change and wreak havoc with anything in its path. Just like former Patriot Randy Moss. Let's just hope it's a full moon in Foxboro tomorrow.
Superman: A timeless classic. You can never go wrong with Superman. Kind of like Adrian Peterson. AP is going to need the rest of the Justice League (our offensive line) to pick up the slack if he's going to continue to be our superhero this week. New England's defense has played pretty well the last couple weeks, but they're still ranked 29th in yards per game. Just like Superman, the fate of the Vikings' world rests squarely on Peterson's shoulders.
The costume that nobody can figure out: There's one at every party--the "what the hell are you supposed to be?" guy. No matter how long you look, you can't figure out what they're supposed to be. This holds true with the Patriots' running game. How are the Pats winning these games when they can't run the ball in crunch time? The stats would have you believe that the Patriots are a middle-of-the-road team rushing, but I watched that game against San Diego last week. New England could have easily given the game away--you know, if the Chargers weren't allergic to winning this year. So if the Vikings start slow and fall behind (like they've done in every single game this year), don't abandon hope right away. The Pats will have a tough time grinding out the clock.
Justin Bieber: I'm sure Bieber Fever will take over and be a very popular costume this year. It's a pretty easy costume to make: just comb your long hair over to one side and dress like a douche. Done and done. I'm just amazed that Tom Brady has been wearing his costume for the last six months. He's so committed!
The weird scary masks that completely conceal the person's face: This one goes to Bill Belichick. Just like the people that wear those masks on Halloween, you're not really sure what to expect and they're constantly making you nervous. It bothers me when I don't know what's going on behind those masks, much like it bothers me that I don't know what tricks Belichick has in store the Vikes. When you throw in one of the most lopsided coaching match-ups of all time with all the Brett Favre drama and the way these two teams have been playing, I think the Vikings are in for an old-fashioned Halloween nightmare this week.
Prediction: Patriots 31, Vikings 17
Got any other costume suggestions that I missed? Leave them in the comments below.
Before I get to the rest of my Week 8 NFL picks, here's a little reminder as to why Halloween is so awesome:
(Home team in CAPS)
Dolphins over BENGALS: I wish I could place a bet on things like "Chris Berman will make a cheesy 'black and orange' Halloween joke about the Bengals' uniforms during Sunday's highlights". I think I could make a ton of money there.
COWBOYS over Jaguars: Hey, someone has to win. I'll pick Jon Kitna and the Boys just because I don't want the "Minnesota's two victories have come against one-win teams" argument to hold true anymore.
LIONS over Redskins: This is the type of game the Skins lose--just look at the stink bomb they laid in St. Louis earlier this year. And that whole "Minnesota's two victories have come against one-win teams" thing too.
CHIEFS over Bills: My suicide pool pick of the week, even though Buffalo scared the living daylights out of me last week in Baltimore. Who else finds it hilarious that millions of fantasy players are scrambling to pick up players (Ryan Fitzpatrick, Lee Evans, Steve Johnson) from an 0-6 team?
Broncos over 49ERS: Yet again, London gets to enjoy the very worst of what the NFL has to offer. Is Roger Goodell trying to start another war with England?
CHARGERS over Titans: No logical explanation here. I'm picking all but two home teams this week, so what the hell.
CARDINALS over Buccaneers: See previous pick. I can't come up with a good reason why I'm picking Arizona. Especially since the Cardinals' QB situation has turned Larry Fitzgerald into fantasy football trade herpes--try as you might, you just can't get rid of him.
RAIDERS over Seahawks: If anyone ever figures either of these teams out, they should be given a Nobel Prize. This game should be close, but I wouldn't be surprised by a 35-point blowout for either team.
Last week: 7-7
Season so far: 63-41