The 2-10 Vikings come into town this week, and if the DTLs are going to assure themselves of at least a .500 season, this would likely be the game to do it. The next three games are all
Ford Field has become sort of a second home for Minnesota in recent times. They traveled to Detroit twice for games last year, once to add to the Lions' end-of-season winning streak and again when the roof of their own house collapsed and left them with a new ski hill at the 35 yard line. My only regret about the 20-13 win last year is that the Bromos didn't get one last chance to wreck Brent Favre worse than Dom Suh's car, as the Bills and Bears and Vikings' assistant coach did. Alas, Brent decided to sit that one out, choosing instead to watch the final game of his career from the sidelines, wearing the double hats to fight off Ford Field's frigid 68 degree conditions. "I guess I ain't no spring chicken anymore."
THIS WEEK'S MATCHUP
As the starting quarterback this Sunday, rookie Christian Ponder will be the fourth Vikings quarterback to start against the Lions in the last two season, and the third to start a game in Ford Field in the last calendar year. True to his name, Ponder's play has been very thought-provoking thus far in his opening campaign. Similar to Cam Newton, Ponder isn't necessarily getting the Ws that he'd like, but he has displayed a composure well beyond his years and has been a bright spot in an otherwise dismal season for our Scandinavian rivals. I personally was baffled that the Vikes used the #12 pick in the draft to get a guy who'd had a pretty good college career for a mediocre Florida State team. But as they say, that's the reason why they're sitting in that front office, and I'm sitting...well, here. Among other reasons, I hope. After all, if the one thing separating me from an NFL front office position is my pre-draft evaluation on Christian Ponder, then... never mind, I'm being stupid.
Anyway, how is Detroit going to prevent the Metrodome roof from caving in on their once bright playoff hopes? Here's hoping that Minnesota uses the same blueprint as New Orleans for covering Cal: double and triple-team him, and leave every other DTLs pass-catcher wide open most of the time. Cal will still outclass his defenders for 5 catches or so, and Stafford would throw for about 500 yards, provided that Burley can keep his hands to himself. Staff's finger looks fully healed, and suddenly Glassy9 has made it through almost an entire season without major incident. I remain a subscriber to the line of thinking positing that Stafford will follow the Phil Simms career arc.
In the first meeting this year, Coach Leslie decided to give Tobes the ball on 4th and 1 with the game on the line, instead of handing it to future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson. Obviously Tobes was stopped for no gain. I wouldn't mind if Leslie did that on every play this time around.
Minnesota's top defensive player is all-pro DE Jared Allen, who ranks second in the NFL with 14.5 sacks for the season. An infamous trash talker, watching him in action you get the feeling that Jared Allen is one of those guys that picks jersey #69 because he thinks it's the funny number; like my friend Mit back on the middle school football team, who after getting jersey #68 lamented, "I was ONNE OFFF!!" I wouldn't be surprised at all if his email address is something like firstname.lastname@example.org, like countless other idiotic 7th graders who are trying to be funny.
Jared Allen went on the radio this week to insult the city of Detroit, saying that if he had to live there, he would likely drown himself in the river. I've got some extra cinder blocks lying around, who wants to grab some string? Joakim Noah tried this tactic a few years back during the Bulls' playoff series against Cleveland. His rant about Cleveland was actually kind of funny, but the Bulls were still blown out of the building by Lebron and co. Well, actually just by LeBron, this is back when he was still a competitor.
Among the many things that I don't like about Jared Allen is his method of celebrating a sack or a strong defensive play. All he ever does is "the Big Arms", not very creative. Maybe I wouldn't dislike him quite so much if he tried a different celebration every once in awhile, maybe get the teammates involved for a dance number or something.
One of the best parts about the comeback win over Minnesota back in September was the progression of Jared Allen facial expressions on the bench after each shrinkage of his team's 20-0 halftime lead. You know, Vikesing it at first, but then slowly becoming distraught as the DTLs kept scoring. Similar to Quagmire when he found out that Taylor Hanson is a guy (go to 17:23 of the link).
I would end by making some sort of prediction for this week's tilt with the Vikings, but like former Bulls assistant coach Johnny Bach once told Cliff Levingston after being invited out to the strip club, "No, I'm kind of retired from that sort of thing." Good times Cliff was not smiling.
After hitting rock bottom in last week's loss to themselves, at the very least I have to be confident that the DTLs will put forth a better showing in this game. I really hope that Jeff Backus does a lock-down job of blocking Jared Allen, because I'd like to avoid the "Big Arms" celebration from Big Sixty-Nine if at all possible.