We begin today's preview with a vocabulary lesson:
[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin depressûra]
- The condition of a compelling or constraining influence causing severe physical, mental, and social distress.
- The force of expectations applied to a sports franchise uniformly over a span of four months, measured in angry FanPosts per SB Nation blog.
- The unpleasant experience of being a Minnesota Vikings fan after an early season loss.
You won't find this word in most dictionaries; I had to create it to properly describe the mood of Vikings fans after their Week 1 loss to the Lions. (Well, I didn't completely make up the word. But the Urban Dictionary definition of "depressure" is MUCH different than how I intend to use it here.) When the Vikings started the preseason 0-2 this year, I wrote a satirical post of how there were only 37 Vikings fans left. Upon reading the FanPosts on our wonderful site after the game in Detroit, there are definitely MUCH more than 37 fans.
And almost all of them are pissed.
The Lions roared past the Vikings and left Minnesota fans gnashing their teeth. According to popular opinion (also known as the comments on Daily Norseman over the past few days), the following statements are indisputable facts:
- The linebackers are slow and can't cover anyone.
- The coaches are dumb because they tried to cover Reggie Bush with the slow linebackers.
- Zero sacks against Detroit? Our defensive line obviously can't create any pressure.
- The offense is more predictable than it was during the Brad Childress era. RUN, RUN, PASS IS NOT AN ACCEPTABLE STRATEGY, MUSGRAVE.
- Cordarrelle Patterson and Desmond Bishop are the obvious saviors of their respective units but the coaches won't even put them in the game!
And last but definitely not least...
- The Vikings will never, ever, ever go anywhere with Christian Ponder at quarterback.
Ah, yes. It wouldn't be football season if Vikings fans weren't spending countless hours bemoaning their quarterback. Personally, I don't get it. Ponder's fine! Sure, he had four turnovers last week. But he threw for 236 yards! That's his most since Week 8 of last season and sixth most in his 28-game NFL career! He threw a short touchdown pass to Adrian Peterson that prevented him from going without a TD pass for the tenth time in those 28 games! He even allowed Jerome Simpson to make an amazing diving catch on an overthrow!
Shit. I'm not helping his case here, am I? Look, I know Ponder is struggling. Like many of you I have serious doubts about his ability as an NFL starter. But he isn't going anywhere. Rick Spielman put a lot of his eggs in the Christian Ponder basket and he won't go another direction until the floor is full of runny yolk and mangled shells. And for those of you that think Matt Cassel will be any better, head over to Arrowhead Pride. Tell them your thoughts and watch the LOLs start flying. (And yes, I hear those of you clamoring for McLeod Bethel-Thompson. Knock it off. He's third string behind those two for a reason.) The Vikings are going forward with Ponder for the foreseeable future, so let's just move on before our depressure kicks in and we can't even Bear to watch the Vikings play on Sunday.
Rick Spielman put a lot of his eggs in the Christian Ponder basket and he won't go another direction until the floor is full of runny yolk and mangled shells.
Did you see what I did there?! I said "Bear to wach" because the Vikings are playing the Bears on Sunday! It's a pun! Hilarious right? I bet that witty play on words totally put you in a better mood about the game.
No?? You're still feeling severe depressure when you think about the matchup in Chicago? How come?
Is it because of the offensive lines? O-line was supposed to be a big strength for the Vikings this year while it had been one of the Bears' biggest weaknesses for the past several seasons. According to Pro Football Focus, Chicago's blockers had a better overall performance last week (especially against the pass) while going up against a much better defense.
Is it because Matt Forte is healthy and capable of doing the same things that Bush did to the Vikings defense last week? Let's say that Minnesota focuses on shutting down Brandon Marshall and rolls coverage in his direction like they did for Calvin Johnson. That could leave Forte covered by linebackers with all sorts of space out of the backfield--we saw how well that worked in Detroit.
Is it because the Vikings turned the ball over four times last week and are going up against ball magnet Charles Tillman this week? If the Vikings show the same lackadaisical care for the ball, the opportunistic Bears defense could win thousands of fantasy games on their own.
Or is it just because the gap between Jay Cutler and Christian Ponder is looking more like a canyon after one game? Cutler performed well under pressure from the stingy Cincinnati defense and led an impressive fourth quarter comeback. Meanwhile...well, we've covered Ponder enough already.
Then again we could just be reading into one week of results way too much. It sounds like Kevin Williams will be back which should go a long way towards improving the defensive line. Perhaps certain players that we're clamoring for will get more snaps from the coaching staff. Maybe the defense will iron out some of their coverage kinks. And I'd be willing to bet that AP has some pent up aggression to take out after getting bottled up for most of the game last week. Besides it's not like the Vikings can play any worse than they did in Week 1, right?
I'll be in Chicago for the game on Sunday, wearing my brand new #28 road jersey. My first trip to Lambeau in 2009 turned out pretty well, so maybe my debut at Soldier Field will have similar rosy results.
Sadly I think this game will come up all thorns. The Vikings have won exactly once in Chicago over their last twelve visits. Their sole win was Peterson's rookie year, where he ran for 224 yards and three touchdowns. Even with AP's performance and a +4 turnover ratio, the Vikings still needed a last-second Ryan Longwell field goal to win. Soldier Field has been a house of horrors for Minnesota during the entire 21st century. I think the Vikings will fix some of the problems they showed us in the Detroit but there are simply too many to solve them all in one week.
If the Bears do beat the Vikings, I'm sure our comments and FanPosts will be even more vitriolic than they were this week. The depressure of the Vikings going 0-2 against divisional opponents to start the year could be overwhelming.
Prediction: Bears 27, Vikings 20
And now for the rest of my Week 2 NFL picks (home teams in ALL CAPS):
PATRIOTS over Jets: Buttfumble, Brady, Geno, Sanchez, Rex, Belichick, Hernandez, Gronk, Amendola's groin, Vereen's wrist, blah blah blah. These two teams are so over-covered that I can't bring myself to discuss them any further. So let's go straight to the Gratuitous Picture of the Week!
"Brady has no one to catch a pass, but at least we don't fumble off of an ass!" (image via i1.mirror.co.uk)
FALCONS over Rams: St. Louis could be frisky this year, but Atlanta is still my Survival Pool pick this week. (1-0 after the Pats edged Buffalo last week.) NFC favorites almost never start the year 0-2. Read into that however you'd like, Vikings fans.
Panthers over BILLS: The weekly winner of the "Game That's Only Interesting To Fantasy Owners" title. I'll take Cam Newton and Steve Smith over E.J. Manuel and C.J. Spiller in fantasy and in real life this week.
RAVENS over Browns: Here I was picking Cleveland last week, thinking that they could sneak up on people in the AFC this year, completely ignoring the fact that Brandon Weeden is still their starting quarterback. My bad.
Cowboys over CHIEFS: One of these two bandwagons is going to hit a speed bump this week. I think it'll be the one driven by the coach that's too busy eating Kansas City barbecue to pay attention to the road.
PACKERS over Redskins: Green Bay has too much firepower for RGII¾ to keep up right now.
TEXANS over Titans: Houston better play more than one good quarter if they hope to beat quality teams in the AFC. Fortunately for the Texans, neither San Diego or Tennessee are quality teams in the AFC. So they can probably just turn it on at the end again this week.
COLTS over Dolphins: If the Colts' first two weeks of the schedule were any easier, they'd have to change their name to the Indianapolis Buckeyes.
EAGLES over Chargers: I'm not sure that Philadelphia should run Chip Kelly's patented fast-paced offense against San Diego this week. Wouldn't you rather take your time and savor an easy home win instead of rushing through it?
CARDINALS over Lions: Only because Detroit is way too overconfident. They probably think they'll be able to run with ease through every defense now; too bad Arizona's defense has a little something called "team speed".
Saints over BUCCANEERS: Don't worry about the 0-2 start, Tampa fans. I'm sure your trip to New England next week will go swimmingly after New Orleans trounces you this week. That dumb personal foul that allowed the freaking Jets to beat you definitely won't be a sore spot for months to come.
Broncos over GIANTS: MANNING BOWL MANNING BOWL MANNING BOWL MANNING BOWL MANNING BOWL MANNING BOWL MANNING BOWL MANNING BOWL MANNING BOWL MANNING BOWL MANNING BOWL MANNING BOWL MANNING BOWL MANNING BOWL MANNING BOWL MANNING BOWL MANNING BOWL MANNING BOWL MANNING BOWL MANNING BOWL MANNING BOWL MANNING BOWL MANNING BOWL MANNING BOWL MANNING BOWL MANNING BOWL MANNING BOWL MANNING BOWL MANNING BOWL MANNING BOWL MANNING BOWL MANNING BOWL MANNING BOWL MANNING BOWL MANNING BOWL!!!!!! I'll take Denver because older brothers are obviously better at everything. Just ask my brother.
RAIDERS over Jaguars: It's the Bottom of Everyone's Preseason Power Rankings Bowl! Hey Jadeveon Clowney--pay special attention to this game because you're probably getting drafted by whoever loses.
49ers over SEAHAWKS: I wish I could bet large sums of money that Al Michaels says something along the lines of "This is our first of what could very well be three games between these two NFC West foes" during the broadcast on Sunday night. I went back and forth on picking this one, but either way you can expect the winner to be hailed as THE INDISPUTABLE FAVORITE TO REPRESENT THE NFC IN THE SUPER BOWL® for weeks to come.
BENGALS over Steelers: Pittsburgh looked absolutely dreadful in their home loss to Tennessee. They lost their starting center and one of their best linebackers for the season. I drafted Ben Roethlisberger as my quarterback in the DN fantasy league. Everything about this paragraph is the epitome of depressure.
Last week: 10-6
Season so far: 10-6
Season so far: 10-6