If you've read my articles with any frequency, it should be of no surprise that I'm a bit of a Bill Simmons fan. When I first started reading his Sports Guy articles back in 2001, my first thought was "Holy crap, that's exactly how I would write about sports! You know, if I could actually write and stuff." Eight years later, here we are--I still can't write, but I still try to
blatantly rip him off model my style of writing after his. Now I have an online following about 0.0000001% the size of Simmons' audience. But I get to write about my favorite team, which is awesome even if I make just slightly less money than Bill for doing it.
So to pay tribute to the Sports Guy for inspiring me (and also because I couldn't think of a good theme for this week's article), I'm shamelessly stealing one of his most popular column gimmicks--the mailbag!
Unfortunately, barely anybody actually emails me about the Vikings. Probably because I'm just another dude on a blog and nobody cares what I think? Oh well. At least I still have my imagination. So without further ado, I present to you my first-ever Fake Mailbag! Let's get to the fake questions I totally made up:
Now that I have approved a new stadium approved for Los Angeles Cal-i-for-nee-ah, are you sceeahed that we will Terminator your team and give them a Total Recall to Jingle All The Way to L.A.? Or do you think just because you have The Last Action Hero (Brett Favre) and The Running Man (Adrian Peterson) that you will avoid The Predator and stay in Minnesota with your Twins?
--Ahhnold S., California
As Anthony pointed out yesterday, Ahhnold has approved the legislature for a new stadium in L.A. Bottom line: this means that sooner or later, an NFL team is moving to Los Angeles. The stadium construction won't be started until a team is actually moving there, but I'm guessing that the league wants a team in the second biggest TV market in the country. Just a hunch. There won't be expansion, because 32 teams is almost utopian for scheduling.
While this isn't exactly thrilling news for Vikings fans, I'm finding it hard to believe that we'd be the team to move. We actually sell out our games (especially after the arrival of The Last Action Hero) and the local fans actually give a crap. Sure, we probably need a new stadium in a few years, but won't Jacksonville already be in LA by then? (Sorry to all fourteen Jags fans, but that city just doesn't care enough about their team.)
(By the way, let's see Simmons cram seven Schwarzenegger movie references into two sentences. Also, if you're looking to kill a few minutes, there's no better way to do so than with the Arnold soundboard. I'M A COP YOU IDIOT!)
How terrified are you that I'm going to almost certain to get lots of playing time on Sunday?
--Karl Paymah, Eden Prairie, MN
Let's just say that your jersey would be the scariest Halloween costume to every Viking fan on the planet.
With all of the talent on the Vikings' roster, Antoine Winfield is probably the one player we can't afford to lose for any length of time. He's incredibly crucial against the run and he can mute the effect of the opponent's best receiver. Paymah was brought in to be a special teams ace, and he's fit the bill admirably. But going from Winfield to Paymah at corner is like going from Megan Fox to Amy Winehouse. Hopefully rookie Asher Allen can step up in his first major action of the year, but we certainly can't expect that. Paymah, Cedric Griffin, and Benny Sapp are going to need to play out of their minds on Sunday to keep up with the top-tier aerial attack of the Steelers. (Yes, it felt just as weird typing that about the Steelers as it was reading it.)
How can I explain to the jury that my erection is due to how excited I am to face a depleted Vikings secondary and not because of the hotel employee in the courtroom?
--Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh, PA
That's a tough one Ben. Did you ask her "Hey, want to see why they call me 'Big Ben'?" Because if I were you, I'd say that about 300 times a day. If you had only learned from Kobe...but I digress. I understand how thrilled you must be to face a Winfield-less Vikings team that gave up roughly 2,538 yards in the 4th quarter to the Ravens last week.
Big Ben is having one of the sneakiest great statistical years that I can remember. He leads the league in passing yards and has more fantasy points than Drew Brees. Yet nobody is really talking about him; which is doubly weird because of that whole "incident." If the Vikings can't get #7 to the ground early and often, it's going to be a long day for our Beloved Purple.
(I was going to go with the "Vikings need to get all over Roethlisberger like he works at Harrah's Lake Tahoe" joke there, but I thought it was a little tasteless. More mailbag and my Week 7 picks after the jump.)
Are you guys excited to see me back on the field? And how great are my Head & Shoulders commercials?
--Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh
To answer your first question: absolutely not. The Steelers defense is nowhere near as dominant when you were sidelined with your injury...much like I think the Vikings will be without Winfield this week. As for your commercials: they're classic. I've never seen no-brainer marketing and humor mixed in so seamlessly with quasi-homoeroticism. "You asked with your eyes Trent. You asked with your eyes."
Um...what happened? Why am I here?
--Willie Parker, The Turf After 1.8 yards
Sorry Willie, but we're going to have to revoke your "Fast" nickname. Yeah, just put it back in the bin next to LaDanian's old nickname. He had to give "LT" back. We shouldn't have given it to him in the first place since it was already taken, but he was embarrassing it to the point where we were forced to take it back.
Is there anything more inexplicable/fascinating in the sports world than the sudden cliff a running back falls off in productivity? One minute a guy can't be tackled be a wrecking ball; the next minute it looks like toddlers can arm tackle him. I think that Willie Parker may have hit that cliff. Unfortunately for Vikings fans, it looks like Rashard Mendenhall is going to pick up the slack fairly well.
It sounds like you don't have much confidence in my team this week. How come? Is it because we're undefeated? Is it because I'm the leading rusher in the NFL? Is it because we have the third highest rated passer in the NFL right now? Maybe it's because only the Saints score more points than us? Or were you scared how the Steelers went down to the wire with teams like the Lions and Titans?
--The Purple Jesus, You Know Damn Well Where I Am
Although you present excellent arguments, I'm playing the role of Purple Judas this week. If Winfield was healthy, I'd pick the Vikes here. But I think his absence will really have a huge negative impact for the Vikings defense against the Steelers. Pittsburgh can and will spread us out with multiple dangerous wide receivers (start Santonio Holmes and Hines Ward, fantasy players), and I don't see our secondary keeping up. Throw in the fact that we're historically bad on the road outdoors and on grass along with how we've more or less got lucky in two of our wins, and I think we're due for the first L of 2009 on Sunday.
Prediction: Steelers 31, Vikings 27
(But after my picks last week, you should feel good about the Vikings' chances.)
What the hell went wrong with your picks last week? You're cruising along all year, then you barely break .500 in Week 6? I lost money because of you!
--A figment of my imagination (because nobody would ever gamble based on who I pick)
You know what? You're right. Time to get back on track. My Week 7 picks (home team in CAPS):
Packers over BROWNS: Wow, Detroit and Cleveland in back-to-back weeks? Rough schedule there Green Bay. Oh wait...
TEXANS over 49ers: I went back and forth on this game at least a dozen times. There are so many reasons to pick for and against each team...so I just said eff it and went with the home team.
Chargers over CHIEFS: When you pour Gatorade on your coach to celebrate going 1-5, chances are I'm not going to pick your team very often.
Colts over RAMS: Can we update the NFL rules to include a running clock for the second half of this game? This is my Eliminator pick of the week, but I already feel terrible for how bad the Rams are going to get their asses handed to them.
Patriots over Buccaneers (In London): Oh bloody 'ell Bucs fans!! Not only does your team get rogered out of a home game, but you're going to get knackered by New England...in Jolly Old England! Right-o chaps!
PANTHERS over Bills: Last week the Bills proved that if you throw six interceptions, they can beat you in overtime. I see only 4, maybe 5 picks from Delhomme this week, tops. That's why I'm picking Carolina.
Jets over RAIDERS: Good news for both teams: Tom Cable won't have to go to jail, and Mark Sanchez doesn't have to play in the New York weather this week. Bad news for both teams: Cable still coaches the Raiders, and Sanchez still plays for New York.
Falcons over COWBOYS: I originally had Dallas here, but I honestly couldn't come up with any reasons why they'd win. Maybe if Atlanta got lost on their way to the field...after arriving at the stadium. I'm fairly certain that could happen.
Saints over DOLPHINS; The Dolphins could control the clock with their Wildcat-happy offense for 55 minutes of this game, and I still think the ridiculous Saints offense could win by a field goal. I'll take the Saints in a game that might be closer than people think.
Bears over BENGALS: The Cedric Benson Bowl! How ironic is it that Benson is performing exponentially better than Matt Forte this season? If this game happened next week, I'd choose the Bengals. No way the Official Team of Halloween gets beat on Halloween weekend at home. But alas, we're a week too early, and I think the Bears have a better team overall.
GIANTS over Cardinals: The Cardinals looked great last week in a win over the Seahawks. Of course, that means the Cardinals will look terrible this week and get blown out by the Giants. That's how they work.
Eagles over REDSKINS: Imagine you're the President of the United States. However, you can't sign any bills or veto anything and you have to do every speech naked. I think that's what Jim Zorn feels like right now. A pointless, embarrassed figurehead.
Last week: 8-6
Season so far: 66-24