Jim Souhan analyzes the local sports scene and advises you to never take his betting advice. He likes old guitars and old music, never eats press box hot dogs, and can be heard on 1500ESPN at 2:05 p.m. weekdays, and Sundays from 10 a.m.-noon.
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-Brett Favre wouldn't talk about the NFL's investigation into him after the game.
-Think the Vikings made the right decision in letting Matt Birk go? Every time I watch the Ravens, Birk is falling into the end zone on a Ray Rice touchdown run. Every time I watch the Vikings, I see a center screwing up.
-Those criticizing Brad Childress for his game plan are confusing planning with execution. Favre had receivers open in the first half, and either he missed them or the Vikings committed a penalty.
If you want to criticize Childress for anything in this game, it would be his indecisiveness when facing a two-point deficit after scoring a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
It's obvious you go for two there. Childress agreed, but only after sending the kicking team onto the field and then calling a timeout to send his offense back out there.
Also, Randy Moss wasn't on the field for the two-point conversion. Then again, Tahi was wide open in the end zone and Favre didn't throw to him. Childress wound up making the right decision, it's just that he cost himself a timeout and then had trouble explaining the decision after the game.
-The Vikings are 1-3, but I think they're in big trouble only if Favre's elbow or the NFL's investigation into him go badly. If Favre is healthy, he and Moss will develop more of a rapport each week, and the Vikings' talent will win out eventually. I think they beat the Cowboys on Sunday, and their game at Green Bay looks winnable considering the Packers' injuries.
Players often say ``It's a long season,'' and often that's a poor excuse. In this case, I think that's the right way to look at this year. If the Vikings can get to week 8 still in contention, their soft second-half schedule and the mediocrity of the division should give them every chance to go to the playoffs, and if they make it to the playoffs healthy, they'll be very dangerous. Of course, that's all predicated on Favre staying healthy and un-suspended.
-Moss spoke after the game, and, for what it's worth, he's saying all the right things and saying them with a smile on his face. He even talked about mentoring Percy Harvin.
-During Favre's post-game presser, he kept waving his left hand around, and running his left hand through his hair. His wedding ring was shown prominently on national TV. I'm sure that was a coincidence.
-The Vikings' safeties continue to be the weakness of the team (along with the center position and third receiver.) They never make plays.
-Childress took the blame for the team looking sluggish at the start while coming off a bye. I, like all good Minnesotans, blame Ron Gardenhire.
-The Vikings need to get Greg Camarillo involved. If they're not going to use Bernard Berrian - and it certainly looks like they're not going to use Bernard Berrian - then they need a third receiver who can make a play. Camarillo, a catch-and-run guy with good hands, should be able to handle that.
-I'll be on 1500espn at 2:40 tomorrow (and every weekday afternoon.) Yesterday, we had Childress on Sunday Sports Talk and he admitted the timing of the deadspin report - just before the Vikings play in New York - was ``curious.''
-Moss has lost a step, but he picked up a trick, probably from former teammate Cris Carter. He pushed off slightly on Antonio Cromartie on his touchdown catch, but did so in a way that would be difficult to call.
-While we've all assumed this four-game stretch would be brutal, the Vikings had a chance to beat the Jets on the road, the Cowboys are 1-3, the Packers are beat up and the Patriots...won't have Randy Moss.
-Moss also thanked Tom Brady for sending him an encouraging text before the game.
If the Twins wrap up the division in the next week, they'll be faced with a delicate decision. Do they rest the players who need resting, or push for the best record in the American League?
Joe Sheehan of SI.com reports that since 1998, when the current postseason format came into play, the No. 1 seed in either league has reached the World Series just 8 times in 24 chances.
And that since '98, the teams with home-field advantage are 45-39 in series overall, not an impressive rate considering the team with the home-field advantage usually had the better record over 162 games.
Also: The two times in the last 10 years the Twins have had home-field advantage in the playoffs - against the Angels in 2002 and the A's in 2006 - they got pummeled.
Perhaps the only way home-field advantage could prove crucial would be if the Twins faced the Yankees. The Twins play markedly better at home than on the road against the Yankees. And if there were a Game 1 in Yankee Stadium, the entire focus would be on how poorly the Twins have played in the Bronx. If the opener is at Target Field, the national media would be more likely to focus on the Twins' successes and new stadium.
-The injury rate and increased awareness of the debilitating effects of concussions are having quite an impact on the NFL. Already, many of the most promising teams have serious injury issues - the Jets with Jenkins, the Packers with Ryan Grant, the Eagles with Kevin Kolb, the Vikings with Sidney Rice.
The question is, what's the tipping point here? At what point do we start to feel guilty that grown men are sacrificing their brains and other body parts for our entertainment?
Probably never. We love our entertainment, no matter what the cost.
-After talking to a few people, my guess is the Twins' playoff rotation would look like this: Frankie Liriano, Carl Pavano, Brian Duensing, Nick Blackburn.
The only tough decision is who to start in Game 1, because that person would also start a potential Game 5. The Twins love Liriano's stuff and recent dominance, and Pavano's composure. I think I'd lean toward Pavano.
-Reminder: My band, the Media Jackals, plays Sept. 25 at 8 p.m. at O'Gara's Garage. We're playing a short set, probably be off the stage by 9-9:15, then Beautiful Noise, a Neil Diamond cover band, takes the stage.
-Reminder: I make daily appearances on 1500espn with Joe and Pat at 2:40 p.m.
This Sunday, we'll have the Ron Gardenhire Show from 9:30-10, then Sunday Sports Talk from 10-noon, with guests including Kevin Seifert of espn.com, Tom Linnemann with a small-college update and NFL picks, a Twins player and FS North basketball analyst Mike McCollow to talk about the world championships and David Kahn's literary career.
La Velle and I will shoot another video late tonight, after the game.
While working on my Monday column (which will appear on 1A of the paper, or what some sports fans call ``The Wrapper''), I crunched a few numbers.
Brett Favre finished with the best passer rating (107.2) of his career, and the lowest interception rate (1.3) of his career. For all the concern every rational observer had about his health and his recklessness, he performed with admirable restraint and finished the season healthier that could have been expected.
He passed for 4,202 yards, and was particularly successful at home.
On the road, he completed 68 percent of his passes while throwing 12 touchdowns and five interceptions. At the Dome, he completed 69 percent for 21 touchdowns and just two interceptions.
Let's face it - the guy was phenomenal, and his interactions with teammates in the lockeroom, on the field and on the sideline make it pretty clear that he was very popular even if he didn't spend a lot of time off the field with his teammates.
I asked Jared Allen to sum up Favre's season and he said, ``Ah, phenomenal year, great guy, great teammate, great season. What more can you say?''
``The guy has played great,’’ said Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. ``I’m happy for him on a different level.
For whatever reason, everybody wants to root against him, say, `Well, here’s why he’s washed up.’ It’s good to know he’s still playing at this high level. There are a lot of people here who had confidence he could do this.’’
Someone asked Favre how he was able to escape the pocket to make big plays. ``Speed,'' he said.
-Suddenly the Vikings' playoff chances look much better, for these reasons:
1) The bye will allow Favre and the Vikings' injured players the best opportunity to be at full speed. The bye should particularly help cornerback Antoine Winfield and defensive tackle Pat williams.
2) The Vikings will get to play a home playoff game after the bye. The Vikings are 8-0 at home; 4-4 on the road. No elaboration necessary.
3) The Saints looked terrible the last month of the season. If they lose their first playoff game and the Vikings win theirs, Minnesota would host the NFC title game.
-Again, I'll be on am-1500 with Reusse at 6:40 a.m., and on WJON at 7:14 a.m. You can follow me on Twitter at Souhanstrib.
Series of Random Thoughts as the Vikings begin their last regular-season game:
-I can't and won't defend the guy in any way, but wouldn't firing Tim Brewster and hiring Mike Leach turn the Gophers into Big Ten contenders within two or three years?
-At the risk of being proved wrong (again), remember that the Vikings are a dominant team at home. Their problems have come on the road. I can't see this team winning a road game outdoors, but I can see it beating just about anybody at home.
-I said it during the first month of the season: Wayne Ellington is a smart player who can shoot, and every NBA team needs smart players who can shoot. Ellington has become a factor in the last two weeks.
-Gophers basketball coach Tubby Smith demonstrated his power when he found a way to get Clem Haskins, the man who destroyed Gophers basketball, honored at Williams Arena. Begging the question: How much longer is Clem going to let Joel Maturi keep his job?
-And again: If the Wolves could land John Wall, a decade of bad draft picks and bad luck could quickly be reversed. The kid is spectacular, and he's not selfish _ he moves the ball, gets his teammates involved, and still takes the big shots. And he'll get bigger and stronger.
-Gophers hockey can't take a lead on slumping Bowling Green until the third period at home, and we're supposed to be impressed?
Only if you have abandoned all standards for Minnesota hockey.
-It's going to be an amazing four months. I'll be covering the Vikings' playoff run(?), then the Olympics, then spring training, then the opening of the baseball season and Target Field.
-Upcoming: I'll be on with Reusse at 6:40 a.m. on KSTP am-1500, and on WJON at 7:14 in St. Cloud. You can follow me on Twitter at SouhanStrib.
I'll check in after the game.
Ok, anyone who owns a TV can offer a thumbnail analysis of the Vikings.
The safeties don't make plays. The linebackers aren't nearly as dynamic without E.J. Henderson in the middle. Antoine Winfield is not himself. The pass rush has been thwarted by quick passes. The offense is lacking the big plays that send defenses reeling.
Or...we could simplify our analysis.
The 2009 Vikings are 7-0 at home and 4-4 on the road.
They are 9-1 on turf, and 2-3 on grass.
They have lost their last three games on grass, and their last two in cold weather.
On the first two pass plays of the Carolina game, Brett Favre slipped. Many times on Monday night, Adrian Peterson or Percy Harvin either slipped, or eased into a cut for fear of losing their balance.
The Vikings are a speed team, a turf team. Harvin, Bernard Berrian, Peterson, Chester Taylor _ they all look like different players when they can sprint and cut on turf. Favre looks more sure of himself in the Metrodome, and his cold-weather record on the road is undeniable even after his dramatic second-half comeback on Monday night.
The problem is, the Vikings now are in a position where they could find themselves playing a road game in the second round of the playoffs, or in the championship game if they make it that far. And they are not a good road team.
They also aren't strong against the pass of late, and every team likely to make the NFC playoffs can throw the ball at will.
All of which means that the Vikings are in big trouble. I wouldn't be surprised to see them beat the Giants at the Metrodome _ I don't think this team lacks gumption _ but I think that game will be meaningless in preparing the Vikings to win a road playoff game.
And after falling behind the Eagles in the playoff seeding on Monday night, they probably will have to win a road playoff game or two to advance to the Super Bowl.
-As I wrote in my column for the Tuesday paper, the negatives that led to and resulted from the loss to the Bears were trumped by watching Favre lead a dramatic second-half comeback. Isn't that why you watch sports, to see moments like that _ fourth-and-goal, 22 seconds left, Favre lofting the ball to Sidney Rice?
-Nice piece by our Myron Medcalf on Ralph Sampson III and basketball-playing sons in the Tuesday paper. Also a bunch of interesting quotes in Jerry Zgoda's Wolves feature on Al Jefferson's new view of the Triangle Offense.
Jefferson can be moody, but when he's in the mood to talk, he's a great quote, and a lot of Timberwolves people have told me he treats team employees better than 99 percent of the players who have come through town - which is a much better way to judge an athlete than by the way he treats the media or his superiors.
-I'll be on am-1500 at 6:40 with Reusse, then on WJON in St. Cloud at 7:14. I'm on with Matt Thomas on am-1500 at 7 p.m. Tuesday _ it'll be my last appearance with Matt before he leaves for Houston.
You can follow me on Twitter at SouhanStrib.
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