Return Of The King

7 Oct

I missed a week of the season last week, which is odd because I was in the US, where its impossible (perhaps illegal) to be more than 20 feet from a TV playing ESPN.
Turned out it was an excellent week to be a spectator rather than a commentator. All the real action was in College Football (Nick Saban’s Alabama crushing a Tebow-less Florida, USC being dismantled by Washington, the phenomenal/heartbreaking end of Tennessee v LSU)  while over in the NFL the hyped matchups fell very flat.

When the lead news items following last weekend are Michael Vick’s injured rib cartilage (his Eagles losing to the Redskins in a very dull game) and the spectacular performance of a Patriots special teamer, then its not a high-point in the season.

So thank god for Bill Belicheck, who with his pen yesterday morning created the biggest news event of the NFL year. Randy Moss, the most electrifying receiver of the last decade, is going to back to the Minnesota Vikings. A free-agent at the end of the year, Moss was at his malcontent best the last 4 games with the Pats: arguing with coaches, criticising the organisation in the media, dogging routes and even committing the ultimate receiver sin of ‘alligator arms’. He was unhappy and proud of it, and unlikely to get a hefty deal from the notoriously tight Patriot management. So for a 3rd rounder in next year’s draft, Moss heads back to where it all began, to the absolute delight of Brett Favre.

When Favre was still with the Packers, four years and two teams ago, he BEGGED them to acquire the then free-agent Moss. When they didn’t, we knew two things: a) that Green Bay was no longer Brett’s fiefdom, and b) that Favre knew to stay relevant in the league all he needed was one big strike receiver. He may seem a big dumb lug, but he was absolutely right. If your one great weapon is your big arm, you need a speedy receiver that can get downfield fast to catch those mighty throws. AND, it would be handy if they were tall to increase the chances of beating most corners to the ball in the air. Moss is the best there is at that.

He was the first of the modern large and fast receivers. While no-one is ever going to argue that he’s better than Jerry Rice, in the NFL since 1998 Randy Moss has been the template for almost all the decent receivers that have followed. He showed that with the right receiver, you could build a very effective long-throw offensive strategy that placed less emphasis on the QB’s skills. Moss reduced the margin of error in any long throw in his direction. Just launch the ball, and he’d go get it. He made a superstar out of his first Vikings QB Dante Culpepper, who post-Randy barely managed a career as a backup QB before finally being out of the league. Moss managed a 1,000 yard season in 2005 as a Raider with Kerry freaking Collins throwing him the ball! Terrell Owens, Chad Ochocinco, Larry Fitzgerald – all took something from the Moss style, and owe him for being drafted so high in the first place.

The other receiver who resembles Moss is Sidney Rice, who he now effectively replaces for the Vikes. Rice is out due to injury, and without him Favre has looked every minute of 41 years old. Moss is older too, but is still stunningly fast, and if motivated, one of the top 3 receivers in the game. This then is the pairing that Favre has always dreamed of, and I couldn’t agree more with that assessment.

From now on, every Vikings game is a must watch.

Speaking of Favre? This.

FEATURE GAMES:

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS v INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

The Chiefs are turning into a fantastic (if slightly dull) football team, and it looks as if the weakness in the Colts coaching is finally being revealed (the team Dungy built won 1 SB, and went to another). It must absolutely crush fans of the Raiders, Bills and Browns to see how fast KC has become a serious team. Exactly 1 off-season.

CHIEFS WIN

ST LOUIS RAMS v DETROIT LIONS

I am ecstatic about the way Sam Bradford has reinvigorated these Rams. With the success of him and Mark Sanchez (last year) playing as rookies I think we’ll see a LOT of NFL teams go that route next year. And the Lions are more unlucky than bad. This is the youth game of the year with so many draftees on these teams.

RAMS WIN (Just)

TENNESSEE TITANS v DALLAS COWBOYS

One of the best things about this season so far is how perfectly awful the Cowboys are. Not so bad that they are forced to make changes, yet nowhere near good enough to play with the likes of the Pats, Jets or Ravens. They are just somewhere in the middle of the pack, which must drive Jerry Jones absolutely mad. They are not even the best football team in the State! Hehe.

TITANS WIN (Mainly because I want them too)

MINNESOTA VIKINGS v NEW YORK JETS

I think ESPN just had an orgasm. This is their Monday night game after this week’s news? I think a few people may watch.

JETS WIN (They’re for real folks)

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