Thursday, October 18, 2012

National Friday League, Week 7

Vikings-Cardinals Preview
2012 Vikings
2012 Cardinals

The Vikes have to win this game.

The Vikings have been a terrific home team this year, particularly on defense. Their two worst defensive performances (and losses) were road games. If the Vikes are a playoff team, I think it will be by going something like 7-1 at home and picking up two to three road wins where they can. There are good teams still on the schedule, and they can't blow a home game to the Cardinals. Coming off a bad road loss, they need to win this game to reclaim their season rather than to settle into mediocrity.

And when I look at the Cardinals' roster and stats, I can't see how their offense is going to move the ball in Thunderdome this weekend. They can't run the ball. They have a crappy quarterback. They have few pass catching threats. Their numbers are poor in every way. If I were coaching the Cardinals (I am aware I am not), my offensive game plan would be to throw the ball 50 yards downfield to Larry Fitzgerald at least once a possession. On, say, eight or nine possessions, they should complete two or three of those, right? Maybe one or two pass interference penalties? That could get them to somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 points, and then they have to rely on their defense, which has been good.

I share TBird41's concern about the Vikings' lack of downfield passing, but oddly enough, I think it is possible that the Vikings' unique offense nullifies the impact of shutdown cornerback Patrick Peterson.* If the Viking offense relied on getting the ball to a conventional WR used conventionally, the Cards could stick Peterson on that guy and largely limit his production. But is a shutdown corner effective at stopping a WR who regularly lines up in the backfield, catches a lot of screen passes with blockers set up for him, and generally does his work around the line of scrimmage and gains yards after the catch? If you are an objective observer of football execution and strategy, it will be fascinating to see if the Cards cover Harvin with Peterson and how effective it will be.

Ultimately, the thing that gives the Vikes the chance to win is 51.7, 13-18, and 64.2.  Those are John Skelton's career completion percentage, TD-INT numbers, and passer rating. He sucks. Failure to beat the Arizona Skeltons will be a major failure indeed. The Vikes certainly can lose if they have several harmful turnovers--but they shouldn't. If they play a clean game, avoiding fumbles, interceptions, and big special team returns, they should be able to control this squad.

*If I recall correctly, Adrian Peterson ran directly over Peterson on all three of his touchdown runs in their matchup last year.  I remember watching each time and thinking "that guy is having a rough, rough day." Of course a CB's trouble tacking a RB in his rookie year has little to show about whether he is a dominant coverage CB in his second year, which by many accounts I've read, he is. We'll see if Peterson still struggles to tackle and allows Percy Harvin to gain the sorts of after-the-catch yards he does.

Other Interesting Games
Week 7 Schedule

Ravens-Texans. 5-1 v. 5-1. The elite fantasy RBs.

Titans-Bills. I don't care who wins this game. You don't care who wins this game. Why is it interesting? Because it is fantasy gold! The Bills rank 31st in points allowed, 31st in yards allowed, 32nd in rush yards allowed, 32nd in rush yards per attempt allowed, 31st in rush TDs allowed, 20th in pass yards allowed, and 26th in pass TDs allowed. The Titans rank 32nd in points allowed, 28th in yards allowed, 24th in rush yards allowed, 24th in rush TDs allowed, 29th in pass yards allowed, and 26th in pass TDs allowed. If you skimmed over all of that information, you still saw a bunch of really high numbers, including 31s and 32s. Start your Bills and Titans, people!

Steelers-Bengals. Maybe you didn't notice that A.J. Green has become the best wide receiver in the NFL, but it has happened. And this game featured teams ranking 7th and 8th in passing yards is precisely what a Sunday night game should feature. I'm looking forward to around 80 pass attempts.

Bears-Lions. As I was looking at some football cards recently, I came across a Jake Plummer card and thought "he sort of looks like Jay Cutler." And then I realized: he sort of is Jay Cutler!

Fantasy Box: I think I read somewhere that the sun shines on the wise and foolish alike.
Last week, Shonn Greene rushed 32 times for 161 yards and 3 TDs. If you started him, I assume you are either in a deep league, or your RB situation is in dire straits for this week and you could find no other solution (and I mean no other solution, not even waiver wire replacement level stuff). Maybe he was a flex option. If that's not the case, you were just foolish.

Going into the game, Greene was averaging 49 yards from scrimmage per game and had scored one touchdown. He was averaging 3.2 yards per rush. He hadn't topped 50 yards from scrimmage or scored a touchdown in a game since week one. He plays for an inept offense. Not only should he have been nowhere near your starting lineup, but he was droppable. By any reasonable assessment, you should find any viable alternative to Shonn Greene as your fantasy starter. But because fantasy football is a lot of striving after the wind, if you were foolish enough to start him Week 6, you were well-rewarded.

Have a good one, suckers. Except Packer and Cardinal fans.


  1. If I were coaching Arizona's defense (I also am I aware that I am not) I think I would stick Peterson on Simpson or Jenkins to completely remove him from the game, stick the 2nd best corner on Jenkins or Aroma (depending on if Simpson plays) and let a single safety read Ponder + react to the ball + anticipate the throw if either corner gets burned.

    Then allow the other eight on defense to control the area near the line of scrimage. Gap discipline would be the mantra all week long.

    Even if this were very effective, they'd still likely need to take 8 or so deep shots to Fitz (like you suggested), and their defensive front 8 would have to avoid getting worn out by 30 carries from Adrian Peterson. It's a tall task inside the Thunderdome.

    Tough to see a win for ARI that isn't flukey, but I'll still anticipating being on my feet and nervous for much of the game.

    1. Peter:

      Arizona let Stephen Jackson get free several times in the second half in the game I saw them play against St. Louis a couple of weeks ago. So feeding them a steady diet of AD and even Gerhart (don't fumble, please) would be nice. You've got to stay on schedule as an offense to do that, however. The Vikings have trouble doing that sometimes.

      So who is responsible for Harvin in your defensive gameplan? The other eight guys. That might not be enough.

    2. Yeah, I didn't think the "8 guys" part through too far, but I suppose they could keep 4 LBs on the field at all times (I'm assuming their base defense has 4 linemen here...).

      Have they got some good tacklers at the LB spot? I don't know. But assuming so - that would be what I would try. Not stuffing the box per se - but stuffing the line of scrimmage, as it were.

      Steven Jackson has been a disappointing fantasy RB for me so far this year. (sigh) But I'm glad ARI has shown the propensity to wear down against RBs in the past!

  2. Patrick Peterson has turned out to be a very good player, but you're right about his "tackling" last year. I remember thinking how overrated he was at the time, kind of whiffed on that one. Still, it was Adrian Peterson at the height of his power, so it could happen to anyone. My favorite "Man, I'm glad I don't have to tackle that guy" moment was when he dumptrucked the Steelers William Gay on a catch and run during Favre 1.0. Great game, even though it was a loss.