For The Love of Sport: Playoffs? Playoffs!?: The 8-6 Minnesota Vikings will play host to the 7-7 Washington Redskins, it’s a playoff storyline with a lot of interesting subplots.
For the record, I believe that Jim Mora now has a copyright on the phrase Playoffs so if you say the word in disbelief you have to pay him some kind of royalty. I am unclear whether or not that includes written text. Jim, feel free to send me a bill if you are reading this. The NFC playoff picture is definitely coming into focus and one of the pivotal games that will determine who takes one step closer to glory and who goes the way of the Moras is the Sunday night match-up on NBC where the 8-6 Minnesota Vikings will play host to the 7-7 Washington Redskins. The Vikings have a one game lead over the Redskins for the final NFC playoff spot and a win for the Vikings would all but clinch the spot (depending on the outcome of the Saint’s 1 pm game). A win for the Redskins would create a two-way tie (or three-way, again depending on the Saints) with the Redskins having the first tiebreaker over the Vikings. There are several early bowl games that include the likes of Boston College, UCLA and Navy but even a nice Pacific Life Holiday Bowl match-up between Arizona State and Texas is no match for a game that could actually send a team to a real playoff. That would be where they in fact award a real trophy at the end of those playoffs to a real champion. Before anyone gets all up in arms about the significance and history of the college bowl season how important could bowls actually be if coaches like West Virginia’s Rich Rodriguez and Navy’s Paul Johnson would actually quit their jobs before the bowl game. Could you imagine any NFL coach quitting to take another job a week or two before his team was playing in the playoffs? Minnesota is the Vegas favorite in the game currently favored by 6.5 points. They are also one of the hottest teams in football riding a five game winning streak. The also have an offense that features the next big thing in Adrian Peterson. What’s not to like? Well, for starters the seven teams that the Vikings have beaten (Bears twice) have a combined winning percentage of just .408. Their victories include just two teams with winning records in San Diego and the Giants but four teams (Atlanta, Chicago, Oakland and San Francisco) at 5-9 or worse. While we are on the subject of question marks the biggest question mark for the Vikings has to be the play of Tarvaris Jackson. His production (1516 yards passing, 6 TD and 10 INT) is not good even for a guy who has played in just 10 games. The million dollar question is are the Vikings peaking at the right time or is this simply a case of a team taking advantage of a soft schedule? More importantly, how long will it be before opposing coaches realize that the Vikings are 30th in the NFL in passing offense and start overloading the box with 8 and 9 guys to stop Peterson and Chester Taylor? The only thing worse than Minnesota’s passing offense is their passing defense which ranks dead last in the NFL. I like the Vikings chances in this game and I like their chances of making the playoffs but I really wouldn’t look for them to go to far once they get there. The Washington Redskins have faced real adversity this year. Not just sports cliché adversity but with the passing of Sean Taylor this team has truly tried to rally together and depend on each other for support and comfort. Beyond the tragic passing of Sean Taylor the Redskins have other football related problems. The Skins have nine players on the Injured Reserve list and two others including starting quarterback Jason Campbell listed as out for the game. I think that it was Han Solo who once said, “Where did you dig up this old fossil.” Todd Collins is part of the weird underbelly of pro sports, never quite retiring and never quite making it. At 36 years old it has been 13 years since Collins left the Maize and Blue winning his final collegiate game in the Holiday Bowl versus Colorado State. From 1995 to 1997 he was with the Bills playing in 28 games and passing for 2,367 yards and 12 TD in his final season. Then he was off to the Chiefs were he literally didn’t enter a game for three years and only played in 12 games from 2001 to 2005. In March of 2006 Collins signed as a free agent with the Redskins and last year for the fourth time in his career he didn’t enter a game all season. Since Campbell went down Collins hasn’t been glamorous but he has been quietly efficient in leading the Skins to two straight victories for the first time since weeks one and two. If ever you wanted to root for a little guy to get one more day in the sun then Todd Collins is your guy. Look for the Redskins to make use of the incredibly talented Clinton Portis who sprinted for 126 yards and a TD last week and pass as needed. It’s a playoff storyline with a lot of interesting subplots. Part of what makes sports so interesting is that it truly is reality TV. Real people with amazing skills like Portis and Peterson but also guys struggling to hold there own like Collins and Jackson. Who needs to vote someone off of an Island when you have week 16 of the NFL. Angry members of the Rose Bowl selection committee and indignant fans of 6-6 Nevada (Invited to the New Mexico bowl obviously for their strong 4-4 showing in the WAC) can reach me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I can be found on the web at http://kyrilmitch.googlepages.com/home. Background information and stats from Yahoo.com and Wikipedia.org and Vegas odds from Vegasinsider.com.