If you think political talk radio is a brutal place, you should try sports talk radio. In the world of news talk, you have a biased hosed with a political agenda attempting to spin current events to make you see them his way. In the world of sports talk, you largely have a field of minds so jammed with statistics and dates that they are unable to form a point of view on anything other than a simple Vegas line, let alone manage to try to find a way to spin the event for the mindless masses who tune it. This can make listening to channels like Mad Dog Radio on Sirius and XM Radio an exercise in frustration. Yet it is an exercise that I perform almost daily, and occasionally I call in to try to straighten some of these guys out. My latest beef? The New York Knicks.
Let me start this all off by wrapping up my 0-2 Sunday picks. I'll start with my boldest prediction and the one that I have and will continue to receive the most criticism for. The Vikings defense laid down the law in Minnesota holding Dallas to 3 points and sending Minnesota off to the NFC Champonship Game. Oh, were you wanting me to put this the way the rest of the media does and act as if the "Ageless Brett Favre continues to amaze"? Let's take a closer look at reality here. This was a win by the Vikings Defense.
On three occasions in this game, Dallas turned the ball over in field goal range. First on the 20, then on the 15, and finally on the 31. Had Minnesota just marched their kicker out there and attempted the field goal straight out the gate off of these turnovers, they would likely have netted 9 points off of them. Instead, they put the ball in the hands of Brett Farve who was able to turn a sure 9 points into 6. I guess that is amazing in it's own little way.
The Vikings managed to create a little controversy with their play calling inside the two minute warning. Going for the first down on 4th and 3 is fine by NFL etiquette. Dallas stacked the box expecting a run play, which is the typical move by a team who has the game already won. Instead, Minnesota decided to steal a play out of New England's playbook and throw one into the end zone. Against a sell out run defense, Favre was finally able to produce a touchdown out of a turnover on the Dallas end of the field. Here is what Cowboys Linebacker Keith Brooking had to say about the play call.
"I thought it was totally classless and disrespectful," Brooking said. "This is the NFL, that's not what this is about. I don't think there's a place for that ... I was looking for [Vikings coach Brad] Childress. I didn't think it was right, but they've got to see us next year. They've got to see us. You better believe I'll have that one circled on the calendar, but I say that, we get paid to stop them. I don't care what's called, but sometimes I don't think there was much class in that decision to do what he did."
Reading the comments, one can easily see that there are pretty much two sides taken by NFL fans on this outburst. Yes, especially under Jimmie Johnson, the Cowboys have been accused of running up the score. However, the way they did it was typically lining up and running the ball down your throat there, often with a backup running-back. To throw there is classless and running up the score. I understand Brooking's frustration. But save it for the field, big guy. Your anger should be at your own offense, not the other guys. Romo and company were completely unable to move the ball against Minnesota when they really needed to. Their problems were further compounded by two missed field goals.
So here it is, people. The Minnesota Viking defense rammed the crow down my throat and pushed their team on to the NFC Championship Game to face the New Orleans Saints who made short work of the Cardinals on Saturday. The Vikings Defense will do much better against New Orleans than did Arizona, but they will not be able to shut them down like they did the Cowboys. Look for the Saints to have little trouble with the Vikings on Sunday. I like the Saints to win by at least a touchdown.
In Sundays other game, the Jets shocked the Chargers and whoever the heck showed up wearing the Chargers uniforms. The team that Brett Favre (yes, one last shot) couldn't get into the playoffs last year is now one game away from the Super Bowl. The problem? That one game is against the Colts. It's basically a speed bump on the road to the Super Bowl everyone expected a month ago. Colts by ten to head on to Miami to face the Saints in the big game.