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Vikings at Dolphins Preview and Week 16 Picks: Pulp Fiction

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Daily Norseman previews the Minnesota Vikings at Miami Dolphins game--with a little help from Quentin Tarantino.

Is Joe Philbin's career with the Miami Dolphins going the way of Zed?
Is Joe Philbin's career with the Miami Dolphins going the way of Zed?
Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

Vincent: And you know what they call a... a...a Quarter Pounder with Cheese in Paris?
Jules: They don't call it a Quarter Pounder with cheese?
Vincent: No man, they got the metric system. They wouldn't know what the f*ck a Quarter Pounder is.
Jules: Then what do they call it?
Vincent: They call it a Royale with cheese.
Jules: A Royale with cheese. What do they call a Big Mac?
Vincent: Well, a Big Mac's a Big Mac, but they call it "Le Big-Mac".
Jules: Le Big-Mac. Ha ha ha ha. What do they call a Whopper?
Vincent: I dunno, I didn't go into Burger King.

It has been 20 years since the release of one of my all-time favorite movies: Pulp Fiction. The classic Quentin Tarantino film has been firmly entrenched in the American zeitgeist for two decades now. It was both wildly popular and critically acclaimed, winning seven times at the 67th Academy Awards. (How it lost out in Best Picture to Forrest Gump is still a travesty to this day. If it lost to Shawshank Redemption? Fine. But Forrest Gump? C'mon now.) To this day Pulp Fiction remains one of the most memorable, re-watchable, and quotable movies of the 1990's. I defy you to flip through the movie channels, find it playing, and not watch the rest of the movie regardless of where it is in the movie and what you're supposed to be doing.

Since that very phenomenon happened to me the other night (and made me stay up until 1:30 AM), I thought I would enlist the help of the film on its big anniversary to preview Sunday's game between the Minnesota Vikings and Miami Dolphins. We'll use quotes from the movie to explain what's going on with both teams.

(And if you somehow aren't familiar with Tarantino's work, be aware that there is going to be a LOT of NSFW language in this article. Got it? Good. I love you, Honey Bunny.)

The night of the fight, you may feel a slight sting. That's pride f*cking with you. F*ck pride. Pride only hurts, it never helps.

Both teams are eliminated from postseason contention. Yes, I know, the Dolphins still have a minuscule shot at making it. That chance requires an abacus, a TI-89 calculator, at least 14 results to go exactly Miami's way, a cross-referencing of the Zodiac and Chinese calendars, and a partridge in a pear tree. In other words, it's not happening. So both teams are "playing for pride" at this point. So would the Vikings or Dolphins actually benefit from taking Marsellus Wallace's advice for Butch? Would a loss (and subsequent better draft pick) actually help at this point in the season?

Not in this situation. Miami and Minnesota still have way too much to prove these last two weeks. You might see a personnel change here or there just to see what certain players have heading into the offseason, but you can be assured that tanking will be the furthest thing from both teams' minds. They aren't taking a fall in the fifth round.

Butch: You okay?
Marsellus: Naw man. I'm pretty f*ckin' far from okay.

This quote goes to the Vikings injury report, which is still incredibly lengthy this week. It sounds like Robert Blanton and Sharrif Floyd may be back this week, but the status of Anthony Barr and Charlie Johnson are still up in the air as of this posting. (Only Floyd practiced on Wednesday.) The IR is already longer than Santa's naughty list from a brothel, so it's safe to say the Vikings are indeed pretty far from okay. Fortunately for the Vikings, the Dolphins are also as beat up as Marsellus was on that chair in the shop basement.

The Wolf: Jimmie, lead the way. Boys, get to work.
Vincent: A please would be nice.
The Wolf: Come again?
Vincent: I said a please would be nice.
The Wolf: Get it straight buster - I'm not here to say please, I'm here to tell you what to do and if self-preservation is an instinct you possess you'd better f*cking do it and do it quick. I'm here to help - if my help's not appreciated then lotsa luck, gentlemen.
Jules: No, Mr. Wolf, it ain't like that, your help is definitely appreciated.
Vincent: I don't mean any disrespect, I just don't like people barking orders at me.
The Wolf: If I'm curt with you it's because time is a factor. I think fast, I talk fast and I need you guys to act fast if you wanna get out of this. So, pretty please...with sugar on top. Clean the f*cking car.

This one is dedicated to Cordarrelle Patterson and Mike Zimmer. Hopefully the little "heart to heart" they had last week went something like this conversation between Vincent and The Wolf. I don't think Zimmer "has it out" for Patterson or anything like that; he's simply trying to field the best team possible each week. The head coach didn't think his wide receiver was getting the job done--no disrespect intended. Hopefully self-preservation is an instinct that Patterson possesses and the handful of additional snaps he got in Detroit are a sign of things to come. The Vikings offense could certainly use Patterson's missing explosiveness.

Jules: I want to you to go into that bag and find my wallet.

Pumpkin: Which one is it?

Jules: It's the one that says Bad Motherf*cker.

To Xavier Rhodes, who has been one Bad MFer for the majority of this season. My celebration of his work seems to have become a weekly feature. Although he may have fallen out of Pro Football Focus' good graces last week in Detroit, I'll take holding Calvin Johnson to 4 catches for 53 yards any day. The cornerback position is pretty stacked for Pro Bowl voting, but I think Rhodes should at least be in the conversation.

That's a pretty f*cking good milkshake. I don't know if it's worth five dollars but it's pretty f*cking good.

This one is dedicated to Miami native Teddy Bridgewater, who will be making his professional homecoming this week. Hopefully it goes as well as his last collegiate game in Florida went: Teddy dissected his hometown Miami Hurricanes for 447 yards and 3 touchdowns in a 36-9 Louisville rout. But I'm still assigning this quote to him. Why? As Ted covered in his article earlier this week, we're no longer worrying about whether or not Bridgewater can play. We know he's a pretty f*cking good milkshake--er, quarterback. Now it's time to find out whether or not he's "worth five dollars". We all saw how well he played for the first twenty minutes of the game last week; we also saw how poorly thrown both interceptions were. If it was just those two picks, that would be one thing. But lost in the poor clock management at the end of the game was this easy overthrow of Jarius Wright:

Bridgewater incompletion to Wright

If Bridgewater completes that easy pass, the last-second field goal attempt is probably much more realistic than 68 yards. Passes like this are still happening too often for Bridgewater. He needs to do the little things more consistently before we deem him worthy of being the five dollar milkshake of quarterbacks.

So what does it feel like to kill a man with your bare hands? It's a topic I'm very interested in.

This quote from cab driver Esmerelda Villalobos is in regards to Miami's defense against the decimated Vikings offensive line. With pass rushers like Cameron Wake, Olivier Vernon, Jared Odrick, and Koa Misi (who missed last week and is currently questionable for Sunday) we just hope they don't kill Bridgewater with their bare hands.

However, this defense isn't what they were at the beginning of the season. Miami is allowing a whopping 193.3 yards per game rushing over the past four games. Will the likes of Matt Asiata, Joe Banyard, and Ben Tate be able to match that average? Probably not. But there should be plenty of opportunities to control the clock and keep some pressure off of Bridgewater.

It'll also help if Teddy can improve upon his play action skills when the Vikings do establish the run. I mean, who is this hurried and half-hearted fake hand off going to fool? (And no, Ziggy Ansah didn't bite on this. He was shoved inside by Kyle Rudolph.)

Bridgewater play action

Brett: He...he's black...
Jules: Go on...
Brett: He's bald...
Jules: Does he look like a bitch?
Brett: What?
Jules: [Shoots Brett in the shoulder] DOES HE LOOK LIKE A BITCH?
Brett: No!
Jules: Then why you tryin' to f*ck him like a bitch?
Brett: I didn't...
Jules: Yes you did. Yes you did! You tried to f*ck him. And Marsellus Wallace don't like to be f*cked by anybody except Mrs. Wallace.

This classic exchange goes to--who else? Mr. Wallace himself, Mike Wallace. The defense traditionally comes up first when you think of the Dolphins, but their offense is full of weapons this year. While Wallace doesn't present the same kinds of problems that Megatron did last week, he's still a handful. He's always dangerous in the red zone, and if you treat him like a bitch don't get a good bump on him at the line of scrimmage, he can do things like this:

Wallace 50 yd reception

Wallace isn't the only player to watch out for on Sunday. Ryan Tannehill is quietly playing pretty well this season; he's currently 8th in the PFF quarterback rankings. They have Lamar Miller running well and rookie Jarvis Landry making a big impact. (Side note: how the hell wasn't Zach Mettenberger better in college? He had Landry and Odell Beckham! He should have been throwing for 450 yards a game! Mettenberger should be giving those two part of his salary every week just for helping him make it to the NFL.)

An under-the-radar player on the Miami offense to be wary of is tight end Charles Clay. If you're like me you might know Clay from adding and dropping him from your fantasy team about 63 times over the past couple of seasons. He could make a big difference against a Vikings defense that can pretty vulnerable up the middle against the pass. Miami lines up Clay all over the place and he's very good at finding holes in coverage. He probably won't get a ton of yards but he could make some crucial catches to keep drives going if the Vikings pay too much attention to Miami's wideouts.

Charles Clay reception

We have seen the Vikings dinked and dunked to death way too many times in the past; let's hope Clay doesn't do it this week.

Fabienne: Whose motorcycle is this?
Butch: It's a chopper, baby.
Fabienne: Whose chopper is this?
Butch: It's Zed's.
Fabienne: Who's Zed?
Butch: Zed's dead, baby. Zed's dead.

This one goes to Dolphins coach Joe Philbin, a dead coach walking by most accounts. I was a guest of the Dolphins-based On The Fin Side podcast this week and we discussed Philbin's future, or lack thereof, with the team. Miami has been the darlings of the advanced metrics community the entire season and have quite a bit of talent on both sides of the ball. Yet here they are at 7-7. The Dolphins fans I talked to think that the coaching is a big part of Miami's consistent mediocrity during the Philbin era. If you watched Miami's season of Hard Knocks, it's hard to imagine Philbin being a big motivational influence either. The On The Fin Side folks were almost worried that Miami could win their last two games and save Philbin's job. I explained that going 9-7 and winning your last game ensures nothing--just ask Mice Tice!

You see, this profession is filled to the brim with unrealistic motherf*ckers. Motherf*ckers who thought their ass would age like wine. If you mean it turns to vinegar, it does. If you mean it gets better with age, it don't.

Sadly, this quote applies to Chad Greenway, who is obviously near the end of his career. Greenway is one of the greatest men to ever don the purple--he has played his entire career with the Vikings and has been an absolute gem of a person off the field. It should surprise nobody that Greenway has been named a finalist for the NFL's first ever Sportsmanship Award and is also in the running for Walter Payton Man of the Year. We have found out the hard way that there aren't many role models left in today's NFL--I believe Greenway is one of the few we can truly look up to.

Unfortunately, his play the past couple seasons is going to make his $8.8 million cap hit in 2015 incredibly untenable. Greenway always seems to know where to be on the field; the problem is getting his body to agree with him in time to make plays. Unless he's willing to take a pay cut and a reduced role on the defense, I don't see him being part of the team's future. I hope Greenway gets his chance to walk the earth and keeping doing good in the world, just like Jules probably did at the end of the movie. Or better yet, I hope he remains with the team in some capacity after his playing days are over. The world needs more Chad Greenways. Unfortunately, the gridiron does not at this point in his career.

Are you calling me on the cellular phone? I don't know you. Who is this? Don't come here, I'm hanging up the phone! Prank caller, prank caller!

I'm just going to assume the Blair Walsh that has shown up the past two weeks was some sort of prank kicker. I don't know that kicker, so I'm hanging up on him. I have faith that he'll be back to normal down the stretch. (Right? RIGHT?!?!)

There's this passage I got memorized. Ezekiel 25:17. "The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of the darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy My brothers. And you will know My name is the Lord when I lay My vengeance upon thee."

I really hope the Vikings will deliver the movie's most bad-ass line to the Dolphins just like Samuel L. Jackson did. I would love nothing more than to see them strike down upon Miami with great vengeance and fuuuuuuurious anger. The Dolphins are reeling and ripe for an upset. However, the Vikings still haven't beaten anyone that has a .500 or better record this season; Miami may be poorly managed but they're still probably more talented top to bottom.

I think that narrative changes on Sunday. Miami's defense has been MIA (pun intended) for the past few weeks. Bridgewater will show out in front of his huge contingent of hometown fans. Minnesota's defense will keep playing well and do enough to stop the Dolphins' attack. On the podcast earlier this week I was leaning toward a Dolphins victory. After giving it more thought, I believe the Vikings will finally find that killer instinct and finish the game off. You know, like Butch when he hears a Pop Tart pop out of the toaster.

Even if I get this pick wrong, we shouldn't worry too much--we get the hapless Bears at home to finish the season.

And we're about to get medieval on their ass.

Prediction

Vikings 23, Dolphins 20

And now for the rest of my Week 16 NFL picks (home teams in ALL CAPS):

JAGUARS over Titans

It ain't the same f*ckin' ballpark, it ain't the same league, it ain't even the same f*ckin' sport.

What we're going to see on Thursday night truly isn't the same ballpark, league, or sport. It's much worse. And just to make sure we're as far away as possible from these two teams, let's get right to the Gratuitous Picture of the Week.


"This bikini will make you do a double take / Believe me it's better than watching Blake!" (image via jaguars.com)

Eagles over REDSKINS

Esmeralda: What is your name?
Butch: Butch.
Esmeralda: What does it mean?
Butch: I'm American, honey. Our names don't mean sh*t.

This is apparently how Daniel Snyder feels about his team's name. Unfortunately, it's his team that doesn't mean sh*t.

49ERS over Chargers

Vincent: I got a threshold, Jules. I got a threshold for the abuse that I will take. Now, right now, I'm a f*ckin' race car, right, and you got me in the red. And I'm just sayin', I'm just sayin' that it's f*ckin' dangerous to have a race car in the f*ckin' red. That's all. I could blow.
Jules: Oh! Oh! You ready to blow?
Vincent: Yeah, I'm ready to blow.
Jules: Well, I'm a mushroom-cloud-layin' motherf*cker, motherf*cker! Every time my fingers touch brain, I'm Superfly T.N.T., I'm the Guns of the Navarone! IN FACT, WHAT THE F*CK AM I DOIN' IN THE BACK? YOU'RE THE MOTHERF*CKER WHO SHOULD BE ON BRAIN DETAIL!

Dedicated to Jim Harbaugh, who is mushroom-cloud layin' his way out of town after these next two games. For some reason I think they'll pull together one more competent week before he leaves.

SAINTS over Falcons

I don't need you to tell me how f*cking good my coffee is, okay? I'm the one who buys it. I know how good it is. When Bonnie goes shopping she buys SH*T.

The NFC South is a lot like the coffee that Bonnie buys.

Lions over BEARS

Jules: Pigs are filthy animals. I don't eat filthy animals.
Vincent: Bacon tastes gooood. Pork chops taste gooood.
Jules: Hey, sewer rat may taste like pumpkin pie, but I'd never know 'cause I wouldn't eat the filthy motherf*cker. Pigs sleep and root in sh*t. That's a filthy animal. I ain't eat nothin' that ain't got sense enough to disregard its own feces.

The Bears clearly have no regard for their own feces if they're starting Jimmy Clausen this week.

Browns over PANTHERS

If my answers frighten you then you should cease asking scary questions.

Here's a scary question that Cleveland should probably cease asking: is Johnny Manziel the future of the franchise? That said, for some reason I think he'll play better this week (as if he could play worse) and put Carolina out of their misery.

Packers over BUCCANEERS

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go home and have a heart attack.

I'm pretty sure this is how every Green Bay fan reacted after Aaron Rodgers laid a big ol' turd in upstate New York last week. I'm also pretty sure the Packers will bounce back just fine against Tampa.

STEELERS over Chiefs

I wouldn't go so far as to call the brother fat, I mean he got a weight problem. What's the n***a gonna do? He's Samoan.

Troy Polamalu is of Samoan descent. He doesn't have a weight problem; he has an age and injury problem. Good thing his team still has a wide receiver like Antonio Brown--and Kansas City definitely does not.

Patriots over JETS

Jules: This was divine intervention! You know what "divine intervention" is?
Vincent: Yeah, I think so. That means God came down from Heaven and stopped the bullets.
Jules: Yeah, man, that's what it means. That's exactly what it means! God came down from Heaven and stopped the bullets.

It's going to take divine intervention to stop the Pats from raining bullets on the Jets.

Ravens over TEXANS

Mia: Don't you just love it when you come back from the bathroom and find your food waiting for you?
Vincent: We're lucky we got anything at all. I don't think Buddy Holly's much of a waiter.

Baltimore has to just love it when they're heading toward a playoff push and find Case Keenum or Thad Lewis waiting for them. I don't think either of them are much of a quarterback.

RAMS over Giants

The Wolf: You guys look like...What do they look like, Jimmie?
Jimmie: Dorks. They look like a couple of dorks.

I couldn't think of a better way to describe Eli Manning and Shaun Hill. The Rams are also my Survival Pool pick this week, mostly because I have already picked all the good teams. (Now 12-3 on the season after my Chiefs pick hit last week.)

Bills over RAIDERS

Lance: [handing Vincent the needle] Here, I'll tell you what to do.
Vincent: No no no no man, man I ain't giving her... You... you, you're gonna give her the shot...
Lance: No, you're gonna give her the shot...
Vincent: I ain't givin' her the shot...
Lance: Well, I ain't givin' her the shot!
Vincent: I never done this before!
Lance: Yeah, I ain't ever done it before either, alright? I ain't starting now! Look, you brought her here, and that means that you're giving her the shot. The day that I bring an OD-ing bitch over to your house, then I give her the shot. Give her the shot.

I imagine play calling for the Raiders sounds a lot like that conversation. Lots of panicking and indecision.

COWBOYS over Colts

Jules: Now Yolanda, we're not gonna do anything stupid, are we?
Yolanda: Don't you hurt him!
Jules: Nobody's gonna hurt anybody. We're gonna be like three little Fonzies here. And what's Fonzie like? Come on Yolanda what's Fonzie like?
Yolanda: Cool?
Jules: What?
Yolanda: He's cool.
Jules: Correctamundo. And that's what we're gonna be. We're gonna be cool.

The Colts already have their division wrapped up and they probably won't catch the Broncos or Patriots for a bye either way. So they aren't going to do anything stupid, make sure that nobody gets hurt, and play it cool.

Seahawks over CARDINALS

Jody: [after Mia survives an overdose from an adrenaline injection] That was pretty f*cking trippy...
[laughs]

It's pretty trippy how Arizona has clinched a playoff berth without a quarterback. But I don't think they'll clinch the division.

Broncos over BENGALS

Jimmie: I can't believe this is the same car.
The Wolf: Well, let's not start sucking each other's d***s quite yet.

I saved my favorite quote of the movie for last. Sure the Bengals are leading their division and have won four of their last five, but let's just remember this is Andy Dalton in prime time. They're not out of the woods yet.

Last week: 13-3
Season so far: 152-71-1