Week 7 — Setup for a showdown
Week 7 Recap
Pittsburgh Steelers 27, Minnesota 17
The Steelers gave Vikings fans a reality check on Sunday. While the Vikes had more offensive production (386 total yards to Pitt’s 259), a good chunk of that was canceled out by Minnesota’s new penalty policy: “get as many as possible.”
The normally disciplined team managed to rack up 11 penalties for a loss of 78 yards. Did in by an interception, a Sidney Rice touchdown catch negated by a tripping penalty, and a disastrous lost fumble returned for a touchdown — it’s easy to see how Minnesota Plaxico’d themselves.
Pittsburgh managed to contain Adrian Peterson by keeping him from running to the outside. Favre’s QB rating was only a 76.8, but even if he had the game of his life, the Vikings can’t expect to rely on him to make up for all their other issues. Pittsburgh proved that the Vikings — a solid team when all gears are running — can beat defeated, especially when those gears are full of crud n’ stuff.
The Cincinnati Bengals ran over the Chicago Bears like a tornado in a trailer park. The nightmare scenario of Cedric Benson doing well hit me so hard that I had nowhere to turn. What does one do when they see their team down 31-0 at half? The Lifetime Movie Network comforted me like a sloppy rebound after a hard breakup. Instead of recapping a game that made my nipples bleed, I’ll recap the movie I watched: She Fought Alone.
Tiffani Amber Thiessen is the new girl at school. She fits in by sleeping with Brian Austin Green, who rejects her after their bone-fest because he found some new tang. His best friend hears that there is fresh meat and attempts to “score.” She tries to turn him away, but he ends up raping her. A bunch of boring stuff happens. In the end, he tries raping her again, but Brian Austin Green ends up stabbing him in the leg. The End.
This was practically the equivalent of the Bears-Bengals game for me — rape, boring, rape, boring, stab.
Green Bay Packers 31, Billy Cundiff (On Behalf of the Cleveland Browns) 3
Facing a sick Cleveland Brown team — both physically and managerially — the Packers made quick and relatively painless work of another downtrodden Rust Belt team. The offensive line managed to protect Aaron Rodgers from being sacked, Ryan Grant rushed for 148 yards and the defense limited the Browns offense to a few faraway glimpses of the end zone. All of this good news, of course, is tempered by the fact that we’re talking about a bad Cleveland Browns team that was suffering through an outbreak of the flu.
It’s no secret that Packer fans are some of the most well-traveled in the NFL, so when my friends AJ, Chuck and Jeremy invited me along to crash Cleveland Browns Stadium on Sunday and join them in obnoxious chants of “ART MODELL! ART MODELL!,” there was no way I was turning them down. I hadn’t been to a live Packer game since a 1995 preseason tilt against the Patriots, and the likelihood of me getting back to Lambeau before my godson’s name comes up for season tickets is about equal to the Browns’ Super Bowl chances in the same time frame. So, it was off to the city that, according to YouTube, leads the nation in drifters and has two whole buildings.
West 6th Street (AKA the corner of Douche and Bag) was positively overrun with green and gold when we hit the town at 11 PM Saturday night. Back home, we’re more Cactus Club than Water Street, so it took a few runs up and down the block before we decided to brave the inside of a bar. When we finally hopped inside the Blind Pig, we were greeted by occasional high fives from fellow Cheeseheads enjoying the most recent dancehall abortion from apparently Lady Gaga (so I was told).
The beautiful thing about sports fandom is that it’s a great unifier — no matter your political affiliation, creed, economic status or sexual preference, as long as you find yourself among people wearing the same colors, you’re among friends. It’s sort of like how America should be — united around an entity that benefits from Socialist policy (I dunno, what would you call revenue sharing?). Still, no amount of solidarity for our fellow comrades in community-owned arms could have prepared us for the awful cover band taking the stage. Once they launched into Sublime’s “What I Got,” we drained our High Lifes (High Lives?) and bailed. We may or may not have ended up at Crazy Horse Gentlemen’s Club, but if that happened, I’m told we wouldn’t have been the only Packer fans there either because working-class football fans understand that a $10 lapper = VALUE.
Cleveland Browns Stadium, despite housing a truly inept football team and some truly unfortunate port-a-john labels, is a well-thought-out venue. We were in the upper deck in section 535, row 3, but the view was comparable to Miller Park’s cheap seats — no one was in danger of missing a thing. It’s also home to some knowledgeable and cordial football fans — although I don’t envy their position in the NFL pecking order right now. Chuck was seated next to a Browns fan that engaged in some friendly trash talking: “Man, your shitty offensive line is going to make our shitty defense look watchable.” He continued to bag on his own team until a drunk fan in the next row took offense, chastising him with a “Look, it’s not a good product on the field, but if you’re just gonna be negative, leave!” Convinced we’d be needed to break up a fight between Browns fans, we watched uncomfortably until they somehow made nice.
To any Packer fans currently unsatisfied with the O-line, or Ted Thompson’s managerial skills, or even if you’re still pissy about that whole Favre thing, I say unto you this: sit amongst the defeated and beaten-down Browns fans for a day, and there’ll be an extra bounce when you spring up to yell, “Yay, that guy!” when Spencer Havner dives into the end zone in relief of Jermichael Finley. By the fourth quarter, the guy yelling at the field on his way out of the upper deck was more entertaining than anything his team had produced all day. “You suck! In all my years, I have never seen a worse team here in Cleveland! You SUCK! Except for Josh Cribbs! The rest of you SUCK!” *storms off* *storms back in* “I MEAN YOU SUCK!” *storms off again* We would have enjoyed this spectacle with Chuck’s new friend, but he and his group had left in the third quarter with a salutatory “Well, thanks for beating up on our shitty team.”
Oof. Fun times in Cleveland again. Chin up, Browns fans … as your hastily made tourism videos proudly remind you, at least you’re not Detroit (although they at least have a decent quarterback and a front office that seems willing to turn things around … ok, bad example).
[Note: We didn’t really chant “ART MODELL!” over and over again. We’re not complete pricks.]
Kenny has accurately predicted every NFC North game for the past four weeks. Compared to his beautiful mind, the rest of us are nothing but prognosticating slouches. But streaks were made to be broken and this week’s matchups are a test like no other. Which Vikings team will show up in Lambeau, and how many pot bellies will be peeking out from their Favre jerseys? Will the Bears get their groove back? What if the Lions and Rams schedule a football game and no one watches?
Detroit Lions over St. Louis Rams (Consensus Pick)
Hasn’t the Midwest suffered enough? —RV
Rams’ RB Steven Jackson is rethinking the 6-year contract he agreed to last season: A deal that required him to account for 97 percent of the Rams offense while not permitting him to score a touchdown. After the “w,” Detroit can start eying the NFC North’s juicy third-place participant ribbon. —BB
Chicago Bears over Cleveland Browns (Consensus Pick)
Is there a better hangover cure than Cleveland? The Bears end their losing streak but not their good looking streak (Brady Quinn will put an end to that). —KB
If the Bears lose to the Browns, they should look into joining the arena football league. —MK
Green Bay Packers over Minnesota Vikings (Consensus Pick!)
Rodgers gets reacquainted with Jared Allen, but Favre gets a rude welcome from the “nicest” fans in the NFL. A close game throughout, the final outcome will likely be decided by the foot of Mason Crosby. —RV
Americans hate tie games. Every sport must have a winner, even by forced means to allow more time for commercials (i.e. the NFL’s “Sudden Death” rule). That’s why Aaron Rodgers’ winning the last game of this much-ballyhooed two-game rivalry will disappoint most everyone; especially the press, who will now have nothing to talk about. —BB