Four thoughts from the opening Sunday of the NFL, which gives a person an eternity to think while waiting for the Vikings to begin Monday.
1In last year’s Super Bowl, the Seahawks couldn’t get 1 yard when they needed it and spent an offseason getting pounded for overthinking the play that cost them a championship. On Sunday, in their first real game since, the Seahawks still couldn’t get 1 yard when they needed it and again could be accused of overthinking things.
As the kicking team to start overtime against the Rams tied 31-31, Seattle attempted an onside kick. There is a school of thought indicating this is not as risky as you might think. A research paper from Stanford concluded that the kicking team increases its chances of winning by attempting an onside kick to start overtime instead of kicking it deep because recovering and scoring means the game is over, while not recovering still keeps hope alive even if the opponent makes a field goal.
One problem: The research is based on the notion that an overtime onside kick is a “surprise” onside kick, with a better chance of being recovered. Given the perceived advantage for the kicking team, is it really a true surprise? The Rams sure didn’t look surprised. They nabbed the kick at midfield, marched for a short field goal, then won when Marshawn Lynch — who didn’t get the ball on the goal line in the Super Bowl — was stuffed on fourth-and-1.
2 The Twins and Vikings are at extreme opposite ends of their seasons, but their playoff odds, according to a couple of sources, are very similar. Going into Sunday, Baseball Prospectus put the Twins at a 25.2 percent chance of making the postseason. Meanwhile, FiveThirtyEight.com gives the Vikings a 24.3 percent chance.
If you’re looking for better odds from one of the four major men’s pro teams in town, the Wild is still your best bet. Vegasinsider.com gives the Wild the fourth-best chance to win the Western Conference and considers the Wild to be one of eight conference teams that are significant favorites to reach the playoffs in the West.
3 Few people feel terribly bad for those who sell tickets to sporting events on the secondary market for jacked-up prices, but the women’s draw of the U.S. Open does show the volatility in that chosen profession.
Per USAToday.com’s For the Win blog, resale prices for the women’s final plummeted sharply Friday after Serena Williams lost in the semifinals. On one site, prices reportedly fell by more than $800 less than two hours after Friday’s match ended.
4 With the WNBA conference semifinal playoff schedule released recently, what was suspected has been confirmed: The Lynx open a best-of-three series at home Friday against Los Angeles, joining what is already a sports weekend jam-packed with local events. Also in the mix: Angels at Twins (Thursday-Sunday), Kent State at Gophers football (Saturday), New York Cosmos at Minnesota United (Saturday) and Lions at Vikings (Sunday).