The Minnesota Vikings: Not Good, But There is Hope

When the Minnesota Vikings went into Chicago and lost 21-13 to the Chicago Bears, the season was over. The Vikes had fallen to 4-6 and they were out of tricks.

There was no possible way the young Vikings would win their final six games to finish at 10-6 and have a shot at the playoffs. That simply wasn’t going to happen. But the team did have six games remaining and could certainly figure out what’s going to happen in 2015.

teddy bridgewater2 The Minnesota Vikings: Not Good, But There is Hope

Teddy Bridgewater

On Sunday afternoon, the Vikings took a step toward the future and while they were beaten 24-21 by the Green Bay Packers, they weren’t embarrassed and they weren’t terrible and that future got a little brighter. Sure they’re 4-7 this season and a spot in the playoffs is an impossibility, but they’re making progress without one of their franchise players and that says something good about the progress of the team (not exactly sure what that is, but it’s something).

There is nothing wrong with head coach/defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer’s defense. On Sunday, the Vikings were not ripped apart by the hottest quarterback in the NFC.

In fact, after the game, Rodgers Tweeted some praise in Zimmer’s direction: “It was different playing against a Mike Zimmer team. Mike is a great football mind, and he had a great plan for us again.” Well, like the Dalai Lama’s caddy, Carl Spackler, ol’ Coach Zimmer has that going for him.

I’m not trying to be facetious here. The Vikings defense kept Rodgers off-balance right from the start. They played solid football for most of the game and held a QB who had just beaten Philadelphia 53-20 and Chicago 55-14, to a per-pass average of just 7.21 yards. Only Seattle, Miami and Detroit have held Rodgers to less.

The problem in Minnesota is not defense. Period. The Vikings bend, but they don’t often break. Against Chicago last week, Minnesota’s tiny DBs had a real problem with the Bears two big receivers – Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery – but they only allowed 21 points and if the offence has any jam at all, it should score more than that.

Meanwhile, this past week, the Vikes DBs (the corners, especially) did a great job against Green Bay’s gifted receiving corps. Granted, they couldn’t stop RB Eddie Lacy who carried 25 times for 125 yards and a touchdown. He also caught a pass for a touchdown and was tremendous late in the game.

“Eddie Lacy had a very productive day,” said Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy. “So he was obviously a focus coming into this game and he delivered.”

aaron rodgers championship belt The Minnesota Vikings: Not Good, But There is Hope

Aaron Rodgers, discount d-a-a-a-ble-check

Granted, the Packers shot themselves in the foot a number of times by taking dumb penalties on big plays, but you can say that about any team in the NFL. It just seems, whenever there is a big play in the NFL, there is a flag. It’s making the game dreadfully dull and remarkably frustrating.

But I digress. The Vikings defense was fine. The offence wasn’t very good. Again. Teddy Bridgewater went 21-for-37 for 210 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Jerick McKinnon carried 15 times for 54 yards and once again the Vikings had no ground game – three backs, 25 carries, 108 yards. The longest was 11 yards by the No. 2 back, Teddy Bridgewater (five carries for 32 yards).

Cordarelle Patterson got open for two catches. Kyle Rudolph looked like a world-beater on the first play from scrimmage and then disappeared. Six of Bridgewater’s 21 completions went to his backs.

“I was proud the way the guys fought today,” said Bridgewater. “We fell short. We didn’t make enough plays to win this game. But the effort was there and we just have to continue to get better each week and just be a consistent football team.

“For about the first 10 minutes of the game we were trying to feel our way through, getting a feel for the Green Bay Packers. But we just have to come out and play fast right away. In the second half, we were able to make adjustments and start faster. I was trying to get a feel for this rivalry and now I think I know what it’s all about.”

Well, that’s good.

Defensively, the Minnesota Vikings are a decent football team. On offence, they still aren’t very good at all.

And isn’t it interesting that nobody, and I mean nobody, talks about “the genius Norv Turner” anymore? Losing Adrian Peterson for a season will do that to a guy’s reputation.



Winnipeg’s Reaves Scores Winner Against Jets

Ryan Reaves didn’t log a lot of ice time on Sunday afternoon. He just played long enough to score the winning goal.

Reaves snap shot under Winnipeg Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec at 2:25 of the third period, held up as the winner as the St. Louis Blues beat the Jets 4-2.

JTM Jets Blues Nov23 Reaves 2 Winnipeg’s Reaves Scores Winner Against Jets

Ryan Reaves from Winnipeg scored the winner (Photo by Jeff Miller).

Reaves, whose father, Willard Reaves, played running back for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for five CFL seasons (1983-1987), starred with the Brandon Wheat Kings before being selected by the Blues in the fifth round of the 2005 NHL entry draft (156th overall). The 6-foot-1, 225-pound, 27-year-old played three full seasons of minor pro hockey with Peoria in the AHL and Alaska in the ECHL before finding a home in St. Louis. Now he’s an integral part of the first place team in the NHL’s Central Division.

On Sunday, he didn’t log six minutes of ice time but he was in the right place when the puck squirted loose in front of Pavelec. Reaves turned a drilled a low shot under the Jets netminder to score the eventual winner.

“That was a big goal for me,” said Reaves, who had 65 members of his family and friends at the game. “I’ve never scored one in front of my family before. It’s nice to be able to score one for them. And hey, it was a winner.”

While Reaves was playing hero, it was another tough outing for the Jets who fell to 10-9-3 on the season and lost their second straight game at home. The Jets are now 1-3-1 in their last five and will head out onto the road for a brief three-game journey to Columbus, Buffalo and Boston.

We let in two power-play goals, you know that stung a little bit because we take a lot of pride in our PK,” said Jets centre Jim Slater, who was on the ice when Reaves scored the winner at even strength. “But you know, they’re a four line team, they roll them pretty good, and we knew we’d have to get in there and play, and we felt good out there. It’s just, you know, it’s tough being on the ice for the game-winner, but I thought overall we played pretty well.”

Bryan Little opened the scoring with his sixth of the year at 9:04 of the first period to give the Jets a 1-0 lead, but Jaden Schwartz scored a power play goal at 5:14 of the second to tie it. Jim Slater scored his first of the year at 9:53 of the second to make it 2-1 Winnipeg, but David Backes, with another power-play goal tied it at 17:57 of the second period and the teams went to the second intermission deadlocked at 2-2.

JTM Jets Blues Nov23 Reaves 5 Winnipeg’s Reaves Scores Winner Against Jets

It’s the first time Reaves (75) had scored at MTS Centre in six tries (Photo by Jeff Miller)

That left the door open for Reaves to score the winner. Paul Stastny added an empty netter with 39 seconds left to play.

Once again, the Jets played pretty well against a better hockey team. The Blues came to town with a record of 13-6-1, second in the Central Division, just a point back of first-place Nashville. With Sunday’s win, the Blues have pulled into a first-place tie in the Western Conference with Anaheim.

Many thought the Blues might be tired. After all, it was the final game of a four-game road trip for St. Louis. However, despite the fact they won 3-2 in Ottawa last night, they were anything but tired. Granted, the Jets got off to a great start as the sellout crowd of 15,016 at MTS Centre screamed loudly, but as the game went on, the bigger, stronger Blues wore down the Jets.

Winnipeg was game, however. The Jets outshot St. Louis 31-29, but once again the power play was shut out. The Jets are now 0-for-25 on the powerplay since Toby Enstrom scored in Ottawa on Nov. 8.

Special teams killed the Jets on Sunday. Recently, however, lots of different things have been killing the Jets. If it’s not one thing, it’s another.

The local side must be better on the road this week. Columbus and Buffalo are traps and Boston is Boston. The trip starts Tuesday night against the Jackets.



Late Fumble Costs Bisons a Shot at Vanier Cup

The heavily-favored Universite de Montreal Carabins are off to the Vanier Cup. But they didn’t qualify to go anywhere without a damn good argument from the unranked University of Manitoba Bisons.

Jordan Yantz 1 199x300 Late Fumble Costs Bisons a Shot at Vanier Cup

Jordan Yantz (Photo by Jeff Miller)

In fact, with less than a minute to play, and trailing 29-24, Bisons quarterback Jordan Yantz, playing in his final CIS game, drove his team to the Montreal 11 before Anothony Coady blitzed, stripped the football from Yantz and watched as teammate Byron Archambault recovered the fumble to seal the Montreal victory.

This Bisons were th-a-a-a-a-a-t close to staying in Montreal for another week, losing 29-26 to the home team on a chilly Saturday afternoon. The 50th Vanier Cup will be played next Saturday at 12 Noon CST at Montreal’s Molson Stadium.

Saturday afternoon’s game was appropriately close. In fact, this was a remarkable Canadian football story for both teams.

Manitoba, the last Canada West team to win the Vanier Cup, back in 2007, put a halt to Calgary’s six-year reign as conference champions last week. Meanwhile, Montreal stopped two-time defending Vanier Cup champion Laval’s run of 11 conference titles and, even m,ore impressively, ended its 70-game home win streak.

The Bisons didn’t win a road game during the regular season and then went on the road and beat Saskatchewan and Calgary to win the West. They almost made it three straight, losing 29-26 in Montreal on Saturday afternoon.

The University of Montreal, meanwhile, didn’t even have a football program until 2002, but behind former Grey Cup champion, head coach Danny Maciocia, the Carabins knocked off heavily-favored Laval in Quebec City last week and then hung on to beat the 6-5 and unranked Bisons on Saturday.

In front of a loud, partisan, sold out crowd at le Stade du CEPSUM on the University of Montreal campus, the (10-1) Carabins jumped out to a 27-14 lead late in the second quarter, but Yantz, who proved he was good enough to compete for a CFL job next season, drove the Bisons 87 yards on six plays and wrapped it up wit a 10-yard run to make it 27-21 at halftime.

In the second half, the Bisons defense adjusted and held Montreal to just a safety, but the Bisons couldn’t muster much on offense and scored only five points – a 40-yard Ryan Jones field goal and a last play of the game safety.

JCL BisonsFootball JordanYantz11 950 Late Fumble Costs Bisons a Shot at Vanier Cup

Jordan Yantz played his last CIS game (Photo by James Carey lauder)

However, the Bisons got pretty close down the stretch. Yantz started on his own 14-yard line and with four completions, three to Dustin Pedersen, and drove the Bisons down to the Montreal 11. But on second and 10, the Carabins sent the house as Coady sacked and stripped Yantz. Archambault, the best defensive player in the country dove on the loose ball and the Carabins were off to the Vanier Cup.

“I don’t think it was a surprise that we got here,” said Bisons head coach Brian Dobie. “It was the goal. We went into this season confident we could win Canada West. We knew there was a monster at the University of Calgary that we had to displace. That was part of our mission and we accomplished it.”

Manitoba played extremely well. They had 25 first downs to Montreal’s 21, they had 4-6 yards to Montreal’s 455 and they ran 63 plays to Montreal’s 61. But a late turnover ended the dream and isn’t that the way these things go?

Yantz finished the game by completing 22-of-35 passes for 320 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He also carried six times for 61 yards and a touchdown. Montreal quarterback Gabriel Cousineau completed 24-of-35 passes for 421 yards (most of them in the first half) with two touchdowns and three interceptions as Manitoba’s defense tightened in the second half.

Yantz had three favorite targets: Zach Regert caught five passes for 88 yards, Pedersen caught five passes for 87 yards and Yantz’s high school teammate, Matt Sawyer, caught five passes for 80 yards and two touchdowns. In all, Yantz completed 22 passes to six different receivers.

In the end, it was an amazing season for the Bisons. Trouble is, close only counts in horseshoes. Dobie’s team was good enough to win and every one of them knew it. One break here, one call there… if only…



Jets in an Early Must-Win Against Blues

As well as the Winnipeg Jets have played of late, they’ve still lost three of their last four (1-2-1 officially). That makes Sunday’s intra-divisional matchup with the St. Louis Blues just a tad more important than most Game 22s of an 82-game schedule would usually be.

After all, the Blues are a Central Division opponent that beat the Ottawa Senators 3-2 on Saturday afternoon to improve to 13-6-1. Most would expect them to be a tired hockey club, playing an afternoon game in Ottawa on a Saturday and then an afternoon game in Winnipeg on Sunday (3:30 p.m. CST start), but as Jets head coach Paul Maurice pointed out on Saturday, they roll four lines and play consistently from game to game.

JM Jets Flames Lowry 1 Jets in an Early Must Win Against Blues

This is a bigger game than one might expect (Photo by Jeff Miller).

“They’re one of those teams that is well along in its program and style of game,” Maurice told the local media in his televised news conference.

“You get a lot of the same thing shift after shift. Probably on paper what was their third line going into the start of the season has become an exciting No. 1 line. That’s another challenge. They’re deep. You know, they’re deep at all positions. They can roll that bench and play a very, very consistent game. It’s a great test a real good test for us to continue playing our game. There are no off-shifts against a team that deep.”

With yesterday’s win over Ottawa, the Blues moved back into first place in the Central Division (second in the West) with a record of 13-6-1. The Blues have played 20 games, one fewer than the Jets and they lead 10-8-3 Winnipeg by four points. The Jets were eighth in the West heading into last night’s action. Every team chasing the Jets was in action last night and Winnipeg’s hockey team could awake on Sunday morning in 10th-place in the Conference. A win is relatively important on Sunday against a very good team.

The Jets went 1-3-1 against St. Louis last season. Winnipeg’s only win against the Blues was at the MTS Centre on Oct. 18, 2013.

The big concern for the Jets heading into Sunday’s game is the power play. Winnipeg is 0-for-21 in its last six games and that lack of confidence with a man advantage could become a systemic issue if it isn’t addressed soon.

JCL Jets Wings Pardy 11 Jets in an Early Must Win Against Blues

Jets need to get the power play going (Photo by Jeff Miller).

On the upside for the Jets, all three members of the recently assembled line of Adam Lowry, Mark Scheifele, and Michael Frolik has scored during the last two games. Frolik, the veteran in the group, is riding a three-game points streak (two goals and two assists). He had a goal and an assist against New Jersey last Tuesday night. The 21-year-old centre on that line, Scheifele, had the game-winning goal against the Devils. Then on Thursday night, in a 4-3 loss to Detroit, rookie leftwinger Lowry scored the Jets’ second goal of the game. It was also the second goal of his NHL career.

The Jets-Blues matchup on Sunday will bring a brief three-game homestand to an end for Winnipeg. The Jets will head out for three in a row on the road. They’ll play in Columbus on Tuesday, Buffalo on Wednesday and Boston on Friday before heading home to start another three-game homestand against Edmonton on Dec. 3.

Game time Sunday is 3:30 p.m. CST. There are a small number of single tickets and obstructed view seats available from Ticketmaster



Wings Fly Past Jets in Third

The Detroit Red Wings had more in the tank than the Winnipeg Jets.

Thursday night in front of another sellout at MTS Centre, the Jets scored three times in the second period to take a 3-2 lead into the final period against the Wings. However, a National Hockey League game is 60 minutes in length.

JCL Jets Wings WingsJubo Wings Fly Past Jets in Third

Thomas Tatar celebrates the winner. (Photo by Jeff Miller).

Justin Abdelkader scored at 13:00 of the third period to tie the game at 3-3 and then Thomas Tatar, with his second of the night, made it 4-3 Wings at 15:10 and that was it for the Jets.

After 40 minutes, however, the Jets looked like the better team.

After a scoreless first period, Dustin Byfuglien scored his third of the season – he hadn’t scored a goal in 14 games — and then Adam Lowry notched his second of the season to make it 2-0 before the 10 minutes mark of the second frame.

However, Detroit jumped back into it with a goal from Thomas Tatar 30 seconds after Lowry’s (10:02) tally and then two minutes and 50 seconds later Johan Franzen put a move on Jets defenseman Mark Stuart that left Stuart flat out on the ice. Franzen went in and easily beat Ondrej Pavelec to tie the game at 2-2.

But less than four minutes later, Mathieu Perreault scored his second of the season (and his second in three games) to give the Jets a 3-2 lead, but that was all the Jets would muster.

JCL Jets Wings Pavelec 1 Wings Fly Past Jets in Third

Not a great night for Ondrej Pavelec (Photo by Jeff Miller)

“It was a pretty hard-fought game,” said Jets winger Adam Lowry. “We controlled large portions of the game as they did. We were just caught a little flat-footed in the third period. They’re a very talented team and they work pretty hard, too.

“In the third period, they started to make some plays and we couldn’t keep them off the board. They’re a highly-skilled team, but they also battle extremely hard. It’s hard to get good players off the puck who work as hard as they do.”

The Jets came out with some jump and outshot Detroit 8-7 in the first period and 14-6 in the second, but as Lowry pointed out, the Wings controlled much of the game just as the Jets did. In the third period, the Red Wings dominated, outshot Winnipeg 14-9 and scored two unanswered to come back and win.

In fairness, the Jets had plenty of chances, outshot Detroit 31-27 and even hit a couple of posts. However, in the third period, the Red Wings were clearly the better team. Wings goalie Peter Mrazek got a win in his first start of the season.

With the win, the Red Wings improved to 10-4-5 on the season while the Jets fell to 10-8-3.

Justin Abdelkader and Thomas Tatar were the best players on the ice. Tatar, the Slovakian Olympic star, logged only 13 minutes of ice time but had three shots on goal and had two goals and an assist. He now has a four-game point streak. Abdelkader, a great skater, had a goal and an assist and three shots on goal. He was always around the puck and had a lot to do with Tatar’s three-point night.

JCL Jets Wings Actions 1 Wings Fly Past Jets in Third

Johan Franzen scores in the second period. (Photo by Jeff Miller)

Tatar’s first goal came after he picked off a terrible clearing pass by the Jets Toby Enstrom. It was a rare mistake by Enstrom, but it did get the Wings on the board and probably changed the game.

St. Andrews, Manitoba’s Darren Helm came to town and while he didn’t get on the scoreboard, he logged 14 minutes of icetime, had three hits and won 13 of 14 faceoffs.

The Jets return to action on Sunday afternoon. It’s a 3:30 p.m. start at MTS Centre as the St. Louis Blues come to town.

The Jets will have to be better than they were on Thursday night if they intend to beat the Blues, an intra-divisional rival. One suspects head coach Paul Maurice will remind the Jets that an NHL game is three periods in length.



NFL Picks Week 12: The Vikings Offence is Too Anemic to Win

By The Coach and Dr. Football

Remember when everyone in the Twin Cities was calling new offensive coordinator Norv Turner, “an offensive genius?” I’m sure Norv is a good football coach – heck, after 15 years as a marginal head coach he keeps finding work – but he ain’t no genius.

Before the 2014 season began, we were told that Turner’s offenses had “ranked in the NFL’s top five in offensive points three times and his system had produced the NFL’s leading rusher on five different occasions.”

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Norv and Teddy. Norv would be smarter if Teddy were better — and had more time to throw.

We were also told there are five things you can expect from a Norv Turner offense: 1. High yards per passing attempt, 2. Big wide receivers. 3. “A field stretching tight end.” 4. A physical rushing attack. And 5. “A shifty scat back.”

Well let’s go!

Not so fast, drinkers of the Purple Kool-Aid.

After going 4-6 in his first 10 games as the Vikings OC, this is what Norv’s offense has produced: a team that is 30th in the NFL in total yards (309.1 per game), a team that is 28th in total points (181) and points per game, a team that is 24th in plays from scrimmage and a team that is 29th in passing yards (one of only four teams with fewer than 2,000 passing yards).

That’s not very good. In fact, heading into a Week 12 game against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay, the anemic Vikings offense is so bad, many experts are predicting a shut out.

Now, you can’t blame the genius Norv Turner for all of the Vikings offensive problems. In the season opener, with Matt Cassel at quarterback and Adrian Peterson at runningback, the Vikings demolished the St. Louis Rams, on the road, 34-6. Since then, Cassel has been injured, Peterson has been suspended and the offensive line has stopped blocking people. Rookie Teddy Bridgewater will be a good quarterback someday, but he isn’t right now; Norv allowed rookie tailback Jerick McKinnon to handle the ball only eight times against the Bears last week (only one carry in the second half); and “field stretching tight end” Kyle Rudolph is injured more often than he isn’t.

Fact is, Norv Turner isn’t a genius, he’s a professional football coach who, like every other football coach, needs good players around him to make him look like a genius. This year, poor Norv doesn’t have enough good players. As a result, all the bull-pucky you heard at the start of the season was just cheerleading.

Jerick+McKinnon+Arizona+Cardinals+v+Minnesota+Ov97lCJkU9Gl NFL Picks Week 12: The Vikings Offence is Too Anemic to Win

Jerick McKinnon.

Speaking of cheerleaders, our boys were pretty mediocre at cheering their teams on to victory last week.

Dr Football went 8-6 (103-57-1) straight up and 7-7 (74-87) against the spread while The Coach went 8-6 (101-59-1) straight up and 7-7 (81-80) against the spread. Meh.

This week, as always Dr. Football designs our offense (just like Norv), while The Coach complains about it (just like The Coach).

The Panthers and Steelers have the bye this week. Let’s take a close look at Week 12 in the NFL:

Thursday Night 

alex smith NFL Picks Week 12: The Vikings Offence is Too Anemic to Win

Alex Smith.

Kansas City Chiefs (7-3) at Oakland Raiders (0-10) 
Line: Chiefs by 7.

I’m a “they gotta win sometime” kind of guy…but not with this sad sack embarrassment to the city of Oakland. Still, I can’t see K.C. practicing too hard this week, which may cause them a little gas. The Coach says: As a lifelong fan of the Detroit Lions, I don’t ever want to see anyone tie my team record of 0-16. However, there is a very good chance that’s going to happen this season.

Dr. Football: Take the Chiefs to win but not cover.

The Coach: Take the Chiefs to win and cover.

Sunday Afternoon

Cleveland Browns (6-4) at Atlanta Falcons (4-6) 
Line: Falcons by 3.

Falcons got back on track last week while the Browns were brought back to reality. Atlanta is tough to beat at home. The Coach says: And Johnny Football gets ever so close to actually playing in an NFL game.

Dr. Football: Take the Falcons to win and cover.

The Coach: Take the Falcons to win and cover.

Tennessee Titans (2-8) at Philadelphia Eagles (7-3) 
Line: Eagles by 11.

Even though Mark Sanchez and the Eagles got “schooled” last week, the fact remains that they are a playoff team. The Titans are not. The Coach says: The Eagles, even with Mark Sanchez, are better than the Titans with Zach Mettenberger at quarterback.

Dr. Football: Take the Eagles to win and cover.

The Coach: Take the Eagles to win and cover.

Matthew Stafford smiling NFL Picks Week 12: The Vikings Offence is Too Anemic to Win

Lions QB Matt Stafford won’t likely be smiling.

Detroit Lions (7-3) at New England Patriots (8-2) 
Line: Patriots by 7.

The Patriots are playing great football on both sides of the ball. The Lions might have the league’s top-rated defense, but Tom Brady won’t notice. The Coach says: I offer this wager: New England vs. Green Bay in the Super Bowl in Phoenix. Any takers?

Dr. Football: Take the Patriots to win and cover.

The Coach: Take the Patriots to win and cover.

Green Bay Packers (7-3) at Minnesota Vikings (4-6) 
Line: Packers by 10.

The Gophers would have a better chance at TCF Bank Stadium than the Vikings. The Coach says: The Vikings do not have a defensive back who can cover Jordy Nelson. This could get ugly.

Dr. Football: Take the Packers to win and cover.

The Coach: Take the Packers to win and cover.

Jacksonville Jaguars (1-9) at Indianapolis Colts (7-3) 
Line: Colts by 14.

Tough spot for the lowly Jags as Andrew Luck will be out to avenge last week’s beat down at the hands of the Patriots. The Coach says: It must make the Colts feel all warm and fuzzy inside to know they get Jacksonville on the schedule twice a year.

Dr. Football: Take the Colts to win and cover.

The Coach: Take the Colts to win and cover.

J.J. Watt NFL Picks Week 12: The Vikings Offence is Too Anemic to Win

Houston’s J.J. Watt: best defensive player in the NFL.

Cincinnati Bengals (6-3-1) at Houston Texans (5-5) 
Line: Texans by 1.5.

After beating the Saints at the Superdome, the Bengals stay on the road and face the mediocre Texans with a healthy A.J. Green. The Coach says: I don’t particularly like the Texans, but I sure like J.J. Watt.

Dr. Football: Take the Bengals in an upset.

The Coach: Take the Texans to win and cover.

New York Jets (2-8) at Buffalo Bills (5-5) 
Line: Bills by 4.5.

This sounds like an episode of “Where Are They Now” as Kyle Orton battles Michael Vick. Rex Ryan may be fired at half time. The Coach says: If the snow stops, the Bills should have an easy time.

Dr. Football: Take the Bills to win and cover.

The Coach: Take the Bills to win and cover.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-8) at Chicago Bears (4-6) 
Line: Bears by 5.5.

“Cry baby” Jay Cutler was able to pull it together last week against the Vikings, and now faces another bad team playing their second consecutive road game. The Coach says: I love it. Jay Cutler finally shows a little human emotion and he gets called a “cry baby.” That guy can’t win. Except, he’ll win this week.

Dr. Football: Take the Bears to win and cover.

The Coach: Take the Bears to win and cover.

Arizona Cardinals (9-1) at Seattle Seahawks (7-3) 
Line: Seahawks by 6.5.

Definitely a must win for the Seahawks against a team that has proved it can win in Seattle. Drew Stanton hasn’t missed a beat for the Cardinals, but will come up short here in a close one. The Coach says: The Seahawks don’t win by much, but they do win at home.

Dr. Football: Take the Seahawks to win but not cover.

The Coach: Take the Seahawks to win and cover.

Philip+Rivers+San+Diego+Chargers+v+Pittsburgh+ 2nKTCkbZ93l NFL Picks Week 12: The Vikings Offence is Too Anemic to Win

Philip Rivers

St. Louis Rams (4-6) at San Diego Chargers (6-4) 
Line: Chargers by 4.5.

Is there anything left in the Rams tank after beating the Broncos last week? The Chargers have some tough games ahead, and must win this one to stay in the playoff hunt. The Coach says: Upset of the week.

Dr. Football: Take the Chargers to win and cover.

The Coach: Take the Rams in an upset.

Miami Dolphins (6-4) at Denver Broncos (7-3) 
Line: Broncos by 7.

I don’t expect Payton to be as sloppy as he was last week, in fact he’ll be out to shake off the stench of that game at home. The Coach says: Peyton isn’t perfect but he’s close to perfect at home.

Dr. Football: Take the Broncos to win and cover.

The Coach: Take the Broncos to win and cover.

Washington Redskins (3-7) at San Francisco 49ers (6-4) 
Line: 49ers by 9.

The Redskins are horrible, and internally are a mess as well. The 49ers return home after a couple of road wins, and will have an easy time in this one. The Coach says: Hey Snyder, change the mascot. Maybe it will help your team’s record. Couldn’t hurt. Your team’s play is almost as offensive as your team’s nickname.

Dr. Football: Take the 49ers to win and cover.

The Coach: Take the 49ers to win and cover.

Sunday Night

Dallas Cowboys (7-3) at New York Giants (3-7) 
Line: Cowboys by 3.5.

No one needed a bye week more than Tony Romo and despite being away from the comfy confines of Dallas, should have a big day against a terrible team. The Coach says: I just don’t see any way that the Giants win this. Do you?

Dr. Football: Take the Cowboys to win and cover.

The Coach: Take the Cowboys to win and cover.

Monday Night

Drew+Brees+New+Orleans+Saints+v+Jacksonville+hxPJD1GoFIyl NFL Picks Week 12: The Vikings Offence is Too Anemic to Win

Drew Brees

Baltimore Ravens (6-4) at New Orleans Saints (4-6) 
Line: Saints by 3.5.

Home field advantage ain’t what it used to be in New Orleans. They haven’t dropped three straight at home since 2005 when the Superdome (and the whole town) was being rebuilt. I think they get their act together on offense in this one, but it will be a fight. The Coach says: This is the last gasp for the Saints. A loss at home on Monday Night and they are done.

Dr. Football: Take the Saints to win but not cover.

The Coach: Take the Saints to win and cover.

logo sn9601 NFL Picks Week 12: The Vikings Offence is Too Anemic to WinListen to The Coach Scott Taylor every Thursday at 10:05 a.m. CT with Dean (Boomer) Molberg on SportsNet 960 The FAN in Calgary with Boomers Pools and Props as two razor sharp NFL minds pick the Pools and Props for Sport Select and Western Canada Lotteries. You can listen live at: http://www.sportsnet.ca/960/



Jets Beat Sleepy Devils 3-1

The Winnipeg Jets are living proof that you don’t have to score very often. Just score enough to check the opposition into the ice and let your goalie win games for you.

Tuesday night, as the Jets celebrated the 10th anniversary of MTS Centre, Mathieu Perreault and Mark Scheifele each scored in the second period (just 1:44 apart) and Michael Frolik added a goal late in the third period as the Jets defeated the New Jersey Devils 3-1.

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Michael Hutchinson was solid in the Jets net again (Photo by Jeff Miller)

Michael Hutchinson had to make only 21 saves to get the victory as the Jets dominated the Devils from start to finish. Winnipeg outshot New Jersey 34-21.

It was the 20th game of the season for the Jets. The team has gone a rock solid 10-7-3 in the first 20 – 6-2-2 in the last 10. The Jets still haven’t lost in regulation to the Metropolitan Division, compiling a 5-0-2 record this season.

And still, they don’t score very much. By playing responsible hockey in their own end and by keeping the neutral zone turnovers to a minimum, the Jets have been able to win 10 games despite the fact they have scored only 40 goals in 20 games, the fewest in the Western Conference.

With 10 wins in 20 games, the Jets are right in the thick of the playoff hunt after the first quarter of a season.

“I thought we played really well in the first two periods,” said Jets goaltender Michael Hutchinson. “We were able to take the game to them in the first two periods. We got some push back early in the third period but that third goal at the end of the game was nice for us to get a two-goal lead. We were able to hold them for the rest of the game.

“They (the Devils) didn’t throw a lot of shots on net, especially shots from strange angles. I mishandled a few pucks tonight and I’d like to have them back, but I was able to block the rebounds and we were able to win.”

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The Jets buzzed Cory Schneider all night (Photo by Jeff Miller)

The Jets were obviously better in this one. In fact, the Devils barely looked interested in the second period. Playing in front of the home crowd for the first time in six games, the Jets seemed to relish the fact that head coach Paul Maurice changed the lines.

Blake Wheeler moved back onto a line with Andrew Ladd and Bryan Little while Mathieu Perreault moved back to centre with Michael Frolik and Adam Lowry and looking a lot more comfortable in the middle, Perreault drilled a backhander past former Manitoba Moose netminder Cory Schneider for his first goal of the season.

“I got a great pass from Mark Stuart,” said Perreault modestly. “I was able to get a backhand past their goalie.”

After losing two straight on the road, the Jets came home and beat a team that had already beaten them, 2-1 in a shootout, in Newark earlier this month. Granted, the Devils looked stoned for most of this one, but that might have had something to do with the Jets ability to check the opposition right out of the rink.

This was a game Winnipeg needs to bottle up and keep on the shelf in order to use again. They out-skated Jersey, out-checked them, out-hit them and out-scored them. Against an veteran club starting a road trip, it was a perfect approach.

The Jets play again at MTS Centre on Thursday night when St. Andrews’ Darren Helm and the Detroit Red Wings. Winnipeg’s record against the Eastern Conference this season is now 6-2-2, but Detroit whipped Columbus 5-0 on Tuesday night so this one won’t be easy.

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Travis Zajac returned to Winnipeg and like the rest of his teammates, didn’t do much (Photo by Jeff Miller).



NFL Hammers Peterson, Likely Ends His Career in Minnesota

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell got his revenge. Granted, Adrian Peterson didn’t hit Goodell with a switch, but the man who runs football like the Keystone Kops drive a car, beat Peterson a lot harder than the Texas judge did.

On Tuesday, the National Football League announced that the Minnesota Vikings runningback had been suspended without pay for the final six games of the 2014 season and will not be considered for reinstatement until April 15, 2015.

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Adrian Peterson.

He has apparently been punished, not so much for abusing his four-year-old child with a switch, but for not being more remorseful about it. What happened within Peterson’s family and inside a public courtroom was trumped by the anger, self-importance, frustration and hubris felt by the Commissioner of the NFL.

After missing the first eight 10 games of the season (albeit with pay) while awaiting trial on the Commissioner’s special exempt list, Goodell kicked the runningback out of the league for the rest of the season on Tuesday.

Goodell wrote:

“You have shown no meaningful remorse for your conduct. When indicted, you acknowledged what you did but said that you would not ‘eliminate whooping my kids’ and defended your conduct in numerous published text messages to the child’s mother. You also said that you felt ‘very confident with my actions because I know my intent.’ These comments raise the serious concern that you do not fully appreciate the seriousness of your conduct, or even worse, that you may feel free to engage in similar conduct in the future.”

Not surprisingly, an alleged “league source” told Ed Werder of ESPN that it is “very possible” that Peterson could return to the field for this Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers (yeah, right), pending a ruling by the independent arbitrator in Monday’s grievance hearing. Seconds after Goodell’s pronouncement became public, the NFL Players Association said it would appeal the decision and proceeded to rip Goodell and the league for what it called, “inconsistency and unfairness in the process.”

The NFLPA and I apparently agree on the same thing: This wasn’t punishment. This was revenge. These were the opening remarks in a capital punishment trial. The NFL had already been free of Peterson for 10 weeks and any fear it had that sponsors or ticket buyers would pull their precious dollars from the league if he allowed Peterson to play again, would be eliminated if he treated Peterson with a harsher sentence than any player had ever received before.

This penalty comes after a typical American legal collapse. At least it’s typical when there are very expensive defense attorneys involved. Remember, Peterson was indicted in September on a felony assault charge after he beat his four-year-old with a wooden switch. In the end, and very quickly, on Nov. 4, Peterson pleaded no contest to a simple misdemeanor of reckless assault. The prosecution either owed a pile of lawyers a pile of favors or they just didn’t have the goods to make a felony assault charge stick.

As a result, the court’s punishment was a lot more lenient than the NFL’s.

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Roger Goodell

In his letter to Peterson, Goodell wrote that he, the commissioner had prepared a path to reinstatement for the evidently less-than-remorseful Peterson.

“We are prepared to put in place a program that can help you to succeed, but no program can succeed without your genuine and continuing engagement,” Goodell wrote. “You must commit yourself to your counseling and rehabilitative effort, properly care for your children, and have no further violations of law or league policy.”

And with that, he arbitrarily kicked Peterson out for the rest of the season.

Which, of course, turned out to be great news for the Vikings. Now they don’t have to deal with the issue. In fact, the Vikings released a statement saying smugly, “We respect the league’s decision and will have no further comment at this time.”

Which essentially means, “Don’t talk to us about this. Nothing to see here. Go talk to Roger. He’s got this baby under control.”

The NFLPA, meanwhile, did not agree with a thing Goodell said. In fact, the NFLPA wrote: “The decision by the NFL to suspend Adrian Peterson is another example of the credibility gap that exists between the agreements they make and the actions they take. Since Adrian’s legal matter was adjudicated, the NFL has ignored their obligations and attempted to impose a new and arbitrary disciplinary proceeding.

“The facts are that Adrian has asked for a meeting with Roger Goodell, the discipline imposed is inconsistent and an NFL executive told Adrian that his time on the commissioner’s list would be considered as time served. The NFLPA will appeal this suspension and will demand that a neutral arbitrator oversee the appeal. We call on the NFL Management Council to show our players and our sponsors leadership by committing to collective bargaining so a fair personal conduct policy can be implemented as quickly as possible.”

While the courts didn’t exact the proverbial pound of flesh from Peterson (at least not to Goodell’s satisfaction), the NFL did. Because the NFL has consistently messed up its disciplinary matters, starting with the Ray Rice case and all the way up to this Peterson mess, no one will be happy (except maybe the Vikings).

In fact, Peterson’s teammate, fullback Jerome Felton might have said it best. In a message to ESPN, Felton wrote: “The players need to stand together. (Suspensions) can’t just be some arbitrary number that they come up with. There needs to be a set policy, and it’s something that is followed, and it needs to be collectively bargained. If it’s not, then there are always going to be issues. There will always be fighting and there will always be lawyers.”

Indeed. One thing is certain: There will always be lawyers.



Jets Score Goals Late, Still Lose to Wild in OT

ST. PAUL, Minn. – A seeing-eye shot from the stick of Minnesota Wild defenseman Marco Scandella put an end to a remarkable comeback by the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday afternoon.

Coming back after trailing 3-0 entering the third period against the Wild at the Xcel Energy Centre is not an easy assignment, but the Winnipeg Jets nearly pulled it off on Sunday evening. Trouble was, Scandella’s winner at 1:01 of overtime gave the Wild a 4-3 victory and left the Jets with only one of a possible two points.

Zach Parise returned to the Wild lineup and scored twice. Jets Score Goals Late, Still Lose to Wild in OT

Zach Parise returned to the Wild lineup and scored twice.

Still, with goals by Michael Frolik, Evander Kane (from the corner behind the goal line) and Andrew Ladd in a 4:55 stretch in the middle of the third period, at least the Jets can leave St. Paul with a point and a pretty successful five game road trip.

In fact, the Jets finished the trip with a 2-2-1 record and picked up points in three of the five games.

“The comeback just showed how far we’ve come from the start of the season,” said Jets goalie Michael Hutchinson who took over from Ondrej Pavelec to start the second period after Pavelec gave up three in the first.

“Earlier in the season, we might not have been able to do that and even we’ve had trouble scoring, we stuck together and were able to score three in the third.”

It was an amazing comeback for a team that has had legitimate problems scoring. In fact, when the Wild’s Nino scored at the 2:07 mark of the first period, you could have forgiven the large contingent of Jets fans at the X if they’d just given up.

When Zach Parise made it 2-0 at 4:11 of the first period, many of them probably did. When Parise scored again before the end of the first period, the Jets faithful got very quiet, but Hutchinson said he noticed a change when Frolik picked up a loose pick and beat Wild starter Nicklas Backstrom at 5:55 of the third.

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It was a tough night for Pavs

“I felt that when we scored the first goal, there was a chance we could come back,” said Hutchinson. “There were a lot of fans who had come down for the game and I could hear them start to get into it when we got that first goal. I usually don’t hear the crowd when I’m playing but I really heard our fans tonight.”

This was a chippy, often nasty game. There were fights and threats of fights and both teams had an ugly case of the hack-and-whacks. And heck, the Jets scored three in the third and proved they had no quit in them.

By getting to overtime, the Jets avoided a second-straight regulation loss. The Jets lost 2-1 in Nashville on Saturday night and then 4-3 in overtime on Sunday. But getting a point and leaving Minnesota with a 9-7-3 record keeps the Jets ahead of the Wild in Western Conference standings.

The Jets just wrapped up a five-game road trip – the longest road swing of the 2014-15 season with a passable record of 2-2-1. Saddest thing of all? They scored a grand a total of eight goals (three against Carolina on Thursday night and three against Minnesota on Sunday). They were shut out once – Tuesday in Montreal – and scored a single goal on two occasions. On the bright side, they scored only once against Ottawa, but won in a shootout.

To be fair, this is a team that gets no bounces. It had eight power plays on Sunday – three two-man advantages – and still couldn’t score with the man-advantage. Heck, if they’d played the entire game with a man advantage they might not have scored at all. Good thing they scored three even-strength goals in the third.

It wasn’t from a lack of effort or opportunity. The Jets played hard considering it was the final game of a 10-day, five-game road swing and the second game of a back-to-back. They even chased Backstrom in the third after testing him often, especially in the second period, when the Jets outshot the Wild 14-9. In the end, the Wild outshot Winnipeg 27-25, but the Jets had as many chances to score as Minnesota.

Evander Kane had a big third period goal Jets Score Goals Late, Still Lose to Wild in OT

Evander Kane had a big third period goal.

“These games within the division are all pretty tight games,” said captain Andrew Ladd. “We got a couple of bad bounces but we just kept at it. Nobody quit.”

Gotta hand it to the Jets. Despite the loss, most of the huge contingent of Jets fans at the X on Sunday went home happy. Their beloved hockey team didn’t quit on them.

And that says a lot.



Jets Lose to Preds: At Some Point, the Jets Will Need to Score Some Goals

Sure, I’m willing to play along. I’ll buy into the theory that the Jets need to play flawless defensive hockey. I’ll listen to head coach Paul Maurice and admit that Jets must think defense first. I get it.

I also get that the Jets will eventually start to score. Sure, I’ll buy into that theory, too. I’ll drink the Kool-Aid. The Jets have too many good players, guys who have shown an ability to score regularly at the NHL level. Certainly they’ll start to score eventually. Won’t they?

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Pekka Rinne was good but he didn’t have to be that good.

Sadly, their inability to mount much offence at all cost them a game in Nashville on Saturday as the Predators scored once in the second and then added a late one in the third and beat the Jets 2-1.

With the loss, the Jets fell to 9-7-2 on the season, seventh in the West, while the Preds victory left them with an 11-4-2 mark, four points ahead of Winnipeg in the Central Division.

This was a typical Winnipeg Jets 2014-15 hockey game. Grind, grind, block shots, grind, score shorthanded, grind, grind and block more shots. However, a goal by James Neal in the second period and then the winner by Craig Smith with 2:02 remaining shoved a wrench into the Jets plan.

The Jets have played 18 games this season and scored 34 goals (1.89 goals per game), the lowest number in the Western Conference. Still, they’re 6-2-2 in the last 10, so this defense-first approach has been working.

“It was a tough loss,” said Maurice in his televised news conference after the game. “It was played the way we though it would be played. It’s tough to give up a goal late. We’ve been real solid, real strong there. Our third period, I thought we were better. We had some real chances. There just wasn’t a whole lot to go around in that game.”

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Andrew Ladd busted his nut, but the Jets couldn’t score.

After Blake Wheeler scored a beautiful shorthanded (yes, they have the ability to score) in the second period, Nashville came back and got a goal from Mike Ribeiro, but the goal was called off immediately because the puck had been played with a Nashville high stick. However, eight seconds later, Neal scored to tie the game.

Then, late in the third, Smith got a pass from Calle Jarnkrok and that did it. Nashville outshot the Jets 31-23 and Ondrej Pavelec deserved a better fate, but the Jets struggle to score and on nights when they don’t get many chances, it makes scoring even more difficult.

The Jets will now play Game 2 of their third back-to-back set of the season. On Sunday afternoon, the Jets will face the Minnesota Wild at the Xcel Energy Centre. The Wild trail the Jets by two points in the West (with two games in hand), but after beating Dallas 2-1 in Dallas yesterday, the 9-7-0 Wild have won two straight and are playing well again.

Game time is 4 p.m. CST on TSN3. Maybe the Jets will score a couple.

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Colin Wilson (33) had a good game against his hometown team. Just ask Toby Enstrom.