RandBall

Michael Rand started RandBall with hopes that he could convince the world to love jumpsuits as much as he does. So far, he's only succeeded in using the word "redacted" a lot. He welcomes suggestions, news tips, links of pure genius, and pictures of pets in Halloween costumes here, though he already knows he will regret that last part.

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Monday (When the Vikings and Giants had to play in Detroit) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated November 24th at 8:23pm 283707731

domelessNot that you would have forgotten this, but in case you did: Tonight’s game between the Bills and Jets in Detroit should be quite familiar for Vikings fans.

It was less than four years ago — Dec. 13, 2010 — when the Vikings and Giants had to do the same thing because of the Metrodome roof collapse. (An aside: In our mind, we’ve somehow merged that game and the one later in the year when the Vikings played the Eagles on a Tuesday. But Pro Football Reference assures us those were two different games).

Some things we had forgotten:

*Because of an injury to his throwing shoulder, Brett Favre’s streak of 297 consecutive starts came to an end in that game against the Giants in Detroit. Instead, Tarvaris Jackson got the nod, going 15 of 30 for 118 yards and an INT (that’s not good).

*The Vikings actually got on the board first with a field goal, but the Giants scored the next 21 points in a 21-3 win. The Vikings had just 164 yards of offense (which is also not good).

*Tickets for that game, much like the Buffalo/Jets game, were given away for free.

*Lorenzo Booker returned kickoffs for the Vikings, while Greg Camarillo returned punts.

*It was Leslie Frazier’s first loss as Vikings coach. He took over a 3-7 team after Brad Childress was fired, then won his first two games against Washington and Buffalo before the Giants loss. The Vikings win on that Tuesday in Philadelphia was credited with helping Frazier get the head coach job permanently.

In any event try not to have horrible flashbacks tonight.

Vikings Postgame Meltdown: Choose your own misadventure in all seven losses

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated November 23rd at 4:26pm 283641801

Each of the Vikings’ seven losses this season has followed a fairly familiar script. Though the final scores and margins have varied, there have been several consistencies throughout.

Minnesota has scored 21 points or fewer in all seven, and allowed 24 points or fewer in five of the seven games. Here, then, is a choose-your-own-misadventure style recap of those seven games, including Sunday’s by-the-book 24-21 loss to the Packers:

It was a game in which the Vikings (had their chances to gain momentum early/had a chance to win at the end), but Minnesota ultimately came up short.

On offense, there were plenty of culprits. Quarterback (Matt Cassel/Christian Ponder/Teddy Bridgewater) had a hard time establishing consistency in the passing game, and the Vikings were held shy of 200 yards net yards passing for the game.

(Cassel/Ponder/Bridgewater) had some success on intermediate routes, but they were undone by (a lack of opportunities to make plays down the field/inaccuracy on deeper passes). After the game, though, coaches said the team was making progress at the quarterback position and that it would be a process.

The Vikings offensive line also struggled to adequately protect (Cassel/Ponder/Bridgewater). Left tackle Matt Kalil (committed costly drive-stalling penalties/had a handful of plays that led directly to quarterback pressures or sacks), leading to more vocal criticism that the 2012 No. 4 overall pick continues to regress.

Wide receivers, too, had a (hard time getting open/hard time holding onto the ball), compounding the offense’s problems. Cordarrelle Patterson had fewer than 60 yards from scrimmage and (didn’t seem to be a major part of the offensive game plan/didn’t seem to be fully engaged with the offense/struggled with nagging injuries).

The play-calling of offensive coordinator Norv Turner was questioned, too, at times. Fans on social media reacted with displeasure when the Vikings (ran a draw play on third and long/completed a five-yard pass on third and long/couldn’t seem to move the ball at all against a defense that had been struggling).

It added up to a frustrating day on offense, and it put increasing pressure on the defense – which generally played well except for (a slow start/a few big plays/a rough fourth quarter).

The defense was constantly working against short fields because of (turnovers/the offense’s inability to move the ball) and eventually the cracks in that unit showed up. An inability to stop the run – the Vikings allowed more than 100 yards on the ground – was compounded by (costly penalties/a poor job getting off the field on third down).

Afterward, head coach Mike Zimmer expressed frustration that his team (couldn’t get a key stop when it needed to/couldn’t put more points on the board) and said the game highlighted just how far the team has to go to be a consistent winner.

Nuclear Wessel: The return of the English Premier League

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated November 21st at 3:17pm 283523531

nuclearDana Wessel produces the K-TWIN Morning Show with Rider, Eric Perkins and Rena Sarigianopoulos on 96.3 K-TWIN Monday-Friday 5:30am-10:00am.

Welcome, Nuclear Warheads! We’re back!

Those annoying, meaningless international breaks that buzzkill (especially if you’re a US fan) our weekends are done for the foreseeable future. I can’t stand breaks during the Premier League season. I legitimately pout. You know that feeling where you have a cool dream and then wake up and realize it wasn’t real? That’s me on Fridays of international breaks. Weekend is here! Yes! Oh. No Premier League. I guess I have to talk myself into being interested in the Gophers. Sweet. That’s me. Sad, I know. I also get emotionally invested in Jeopardy tournaments. Anybody wanna be friends?!

Lets take a quick glance at the table before we get to a spicy little slate of round 12 matches.

Chelsea remain unbeaten (with a pair of draws at each Manchester stadium) and on top of the table. None of the traditional powers even seem to be able to give them a run at this point. Manchester City sit in third (21 points), Arsenal in sixth (17 points), Manchester United in 8th (16 points) and Liverpool in 11th (14 points *fart noise).

The closest challenge to Chelsea are Southampton. They sit just four points off the pace (and have only given up 5 goals! Seriously.) but if you think they’ll be around in May I’ll mow your lawn with a pair of scissors.

Some say that the title race is over and all that is left is the scraps for the 5 or 6 teams that can make a legit case for the other three Champions League spots. I wouldn’t go quite that far. It’s November.

Also, before we get to the slate. Don’t forget about the MLS Conference Championships this Sunday.

  • New York vs New England at 12:30 on NBC Sports Network

  • Seattle vs Los Angeles at 4:00 on ESPN

No. 1: Chelsea vs West Brom at Stamford Bridge

When: Saturday at 9:00am on NBC Sports Network

Last year: Chelsea got bailed out late, late, late, late with an Eden Hazard penalty (90+6) in this one a year ago to salvage a 2-2 tie and preserve Jose Mourinho’s unbeaten streak at Stamford Bridge for at least a few more months.

Chelsea return from the break riding high after their 2-1 comeback win at Anfield two weeks ago. It was nice to see the goal-line technology used correctly to get the right call. Chelsea fans just wish they had that in Champions League in 2005. Crazy to think about how history would be different if it had been Chelsea in Istanbul and not Liverpool. Regardless if they won or not, soccer history would be completely changed. Funny sport sometimes.

They face a janky West Brom team that has won just two of their last six – and those two came against Burnley and Leicester City. They shouldn’t pose much of a threat to a Chelsea team that came back from international duty unscathed.

A Chelsea win (or tie) will continue to push the ‘can they go undefeated?!?’ as the hottest hot-take storyline of the season. I get why it is being tossed around. This season has been low on drama and high on mediocrity. We need some fuel to keep the HotTake Machine burning.

But the undefeated talk is all nonsense. Chelsea have mowed through the competition thus far, minus a pair of late equalizers in Manchester, but they’ve looked anything but invincible at times. Every win since October 4th has been by just a goal. Also, with the busy holiday stretch coming up, they are destined to dump one at some point. And this is coming from the guy who has predicted Chelsea will win Champions League every year for the past decade. Obviously hope it doesn’t happen. Just being realistic.

As far as Saturday goes, both Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas didn’t play for Spain last week because of minor injuries but both are fine to play against Albion.

It won’t be a walk for Chelsea. Despite not winning at Stamford Bridge in their last eight, West Brom know they can get a result there. Still, you have to like Chelsea’s chances.

No. 2: Arsenal vs Manchester United at Emirates Stadium

When: Saturday at 11:30am on Big Boy NBC

Last year: A snoozer of a scoreless draw at the Emirates last February between these two. This match took place a week after Arsenal fell out of first place for the first time since September and was the start of their inevitable journey back down to fourth.

Man, remember when this used to be a massive, title-deciding match? Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

This is kinda like when you drive by Mystic Lake and see a former big-time band up on the marquee playing a Wednesday night gig. Just kinda sad.

Your eyes still pop when you see this kind of fixture show up but it doesn’t have nearly the same luster. Can you remember the last time a match between these two in November had zero implications on the top of the table?

But despite the historic ineptitude (for their standards) of these two big clubs, it is still an intriguing match for one and all for two reasons.

  1. If you love either club, this is a huge match as far as finishing in the top four.

  2. If you don’t love either of these clubs, it is hilarious to watch them crumble

Also, you just know there will be drama. Former Manchester United striker Danny Welbeck was sold to Arsenal in August after manager Louis van Gaal said he wasn’t up to the standard they set at Old Trafford. Harsh. Welbeck is fit after an injury scare while with England last week.

You know he will be out for blood. This just seems like one of those tailor made storylines for the Premier League. I just hope when Welbeck scores he moons van Gaal.

This one is on at the same time as the Gopher/Nebraska game. Perfect thing to flip to during timeouts/when the Gophers employees are housing Dilly Bars at halftime.

No. 3: Crystal Palace vs Liverpool at Selhurst Park

When: Sunday at 7:30 on…CNBC? Uh, OK. CNBC. Sweet. Your guess is as good as mine what channel that is. I’ll be ‘that guy’ on Twitter frantically asking what channel it is at like 7:28 on Sunday morning. I’ll retweet my answer.

Last year: Ah, yes. Liverpool remember this one well. Coming off that 2-0 slip-up to Chelsea at Anfield, Liverpool were still top of the table and needed all 3 points. They were up 3-rip and loving life. Then Palace scored 3 goals in nine minutes and ended Liverpool’s dream season. As far as stomach punches go, this one is right up there.

If last season was the season where everything went right (save for Rounds 36 and 37), this is the season where everything goes wrong.

It came out this week that Daniel Sturridge is going to be out for another 6 weeks, meaning his return won’t come until after the calendar flips. That’s a real can of creamed corn to the crotch for what little top four hopes they may still have.

Liverpool have only managed 14 goals in 12 games and Liverpool sit in 11th place in the table. They were relying on Sturridge to come back this week or next to try to jumpstart the frozen-over car battery that has been their attack lately. But now that won’t happen and it doesn’t even look like they’ll have him over the messy holiday fixture schedule.

Liverpool are in a bad spot right now. It looked like Liverpool’s return to the top four last year would be the start of a sustained return to glory but it now looks like it was just a one-off and they’ll continue to mire in the mediocrity that has defined them the last few years.

But the good news for Liverpool is they get a Palace team that barely has their head above the drop zone. Liverpool have two wins in five matches away from Anfield this season. Any more dropped points is going to put them further behind the top-four pace.

Their best-bet now is to get Sturridge back on the field as quickly as possible and open up the purse strings in January to buy some defenders. There backline is sloppier than a drunken political debate at the Thanksgiving table. You just have to wonder if they will be so far out of it come January that it won’t even matter.

Alright, that’ll do it for this week. Enjoy the matches and stay outta trouble out there.

Until next time, keep your studs down and your sheets clean.

Friday (Looking for Vikings and Gophers QB progress) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated November 21st at 12:17pm 283494721

leidnerteddyTeddy Bridgewater turned 22 less than two weeks ago, yet he said this week he is ready to be the face of the franchise for the Adrian Peterson-less Vikings.

In two months, Gophers sophomore QB Mitch Leidner will turn 21, and already he carries the weight of expectations on his shoulders.

These two quarterbacks figure to play a major role in the fortunes of their teams for the rest of this season and the foreseeable future. Neither can do it alone. Both have shown flashes of being good at their respective levels. Both have shown they have a lot of room for improvement.

The fair way to judge each of them for the rest of this year and going forward will not be against the very best established QBs at their respective levels, but rather against themselves.

Are they making progress? That will be the question. Are they learning from their mistakes? That will be the key. Are they evolving to the point that their positives increasingly overtake their negatives? That will be the test.

But we can’t expect them to be what they are not yet — particularly when Bridgewater is playing behind a shaky offensive line and Leidner’s wide receivers remain a question mark.

We can wish that they had taken bigger steps already that might have allowed the Gophers and Vikings to pull off key wins last weekend against Ohio State and the Bears, respectively, but we can’t demand it this week in two more big games against Nebraska and Green Bay. All we can do is watch, wait and evaluate.

TFD: NFL's Broncos are watching videos of animals attacking animals to prep for next game

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated November 20th at 4:31pm 283404931

matthewsIs the NFL violent? The NFL is violent.

Per USA Today, in their defensive meetings the Broncos often watch nature videos. But not so much the ones that depict natural wonders or beautiful lands. They’re more focused on the primal stuff, like watching videos of sharks coming out of the ocean to attack seals.

The shark video was just the latest installment of violent nature videos the Broncos defense has watched this season.

“It’s all aggressive animals going after animals that are not so happy about being pursued,” defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio said. “It’s good stuff.”

So yes, never forget that professional football is a brutally violent sport for which watching animals killing animals is good preparation.

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Washington 102
Golden State 114 FINAL
Miami 97
Detroit 86 FINAL
Milwaukee 98
Sacramento 99 FINAL
New Orleans 89
Chicago 89 4th Qtr 5:09
Denver 101
Winnipeg 4 FINAL
Columbus 2
Ottawa 3 FINAL(SO)
St. Louis 2
Los Angeles 3 FINAL(SO)
Nashville 4
Edmonton 2 3rd Prd 1:55
Dallas 3
Colorado 3 3rd Prd 12:28
Arizona 3
New Jersey 0 2nd Prd 16:59
Vancouver 1
Calgary 0 2nd Prd 16:35
Anaheim 1
Fresno State 52 FINAL
East Carolina 58
Morgan State 73 FINAL
Elon 74
Purdue 82 FINAL
Missouri 61
Hawaii 62 FINAL
Marist 55
Liberty 57 FINAL
North Florida 77
MD-Eastern Shore 55 FINAL
Bucknell 58
Western Carolina 70 FINAL
Georgia State 85
BYU 121 FINAL
Chaminade 85
Evansville 62 FINAL
Green Bay 64
Alabama 76 FINAL
Arizona State 71
UT Martin 74 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 56
SE Missouri St 54 FINAL
Bowling Green 62
NC Central 50 FINAL
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Fair-Dickinson 47 FINAL
Columbia 57
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Florida State 66
Houston 63 FINAL
Harvard 84
William Peace 71 FINAL
High Point 88
Texas-Arlington 44 FINAL
Kentucky 92
St Francis-NY 60 FINAL
La Salle 73
Boston Univ 68 FINAL
New Hampshire 75
Chicago State 57 FINAL
Oakland 70
Ark-Pine Bluff 60 FINAL
Ohio 69
Hartford 54 FINAL
Quinnipiac 50
Saint Peters 68 FINAL
Rutgers 50
Jackson State 71 FINAL
St Bonaventure 79
Long Island 70 FINAL
Saint Josephs 74
Hofstra 70 FINAL
South Florida 71
Western Ky 61 FINAL
Stony Brook 71
Loyola-Maryland 37 FINAL
Syracuse 70
Penn 67 FINAL
Temple 76
Detroit 82 FINAL
Toledo 79
Tennessee St 36 FINAL
Virginia 79
Northern Iowa 73 FINAL
Virginia Tech 54
Western Ill 49 FINAL
William & Mary 83
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Wofford 82
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Middle Tennessee 65
Nebraska Omaha 67 FINAL
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Akron 72 FINAL
Penn State 78
NC A&T 54 FINAL
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SC State 92
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Southern Miss 72
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Texas 78
Northwestern St 64 FINAL
Texas Tech 75
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Tulane 74
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Jarvis Christian 65 FINAL
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IUPUI 60 FINAL
Drake 73
San Francisco 47 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 62
Miami-Florida 77 FINAL
Charlotte 74
Air Force 53 FINAL
Colorado 68
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Idaho 71
Louisiana 76 FINAL
Oral Roberts 52
Buffalo 80 FINAL
Grand Canyon 64
Maryland 58 2nd Half 5:25
Iowa State 50
Northwestern 40 2nd Half 11:08
Miami-Ohio 35
Bristol University 36 2nd Half 15:55
Sacramento St 55
Villanova 27 2nd Half
Michigan 20
Pittsburgh 25 2nd Half
San Diego St 39
Cal State Fullerton 0 1st Half 17:30
USC 5
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Stanford 3
Ohio U 24 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 21
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(2) Notre Dame 112
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(8) Duke 88
Washington St 74 FINAL
Hampton 60
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Brown 60
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NJIT 57
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Akron 100
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(12) Louisville 89
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(22) Georgia 93
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Youngstown St 69
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Rider 48
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Navy 84
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Virginia Tech 62
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Houston Baptist 85
LSU-Alexandria 58 FINAL
Northwestern St 86
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Jacksonville St 70
ULM 46 FINAL
(25) Miss State 80
Morgan State 43 FINAL
(20) Oklahoma St 73
Lyon 43 FINAL
Central Arkansas 59
Lamar 72 FINAL
Texas State 79
Mobile 47 FINAL
SE Louisiana 74
St Edwards 56 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 65
Lipscomb 71 FINAL
Murray State 74
UAB 61 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 51
Northern Iowa 45 FINAL
(17) Iowa 73
Southern U 62 FINAL
Minnesota 107
Harvard 79 FINAL
Holy Cross 76
Colorado 77 FINAL
Denver 49
Portland State 56 FINAL
Oregon 63
Montana State 64 FINAL
San Diego 79
Idaho 77 FINAL
Wyoming 66
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Cal Poly 33
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Boise State 34
Nevada 5 1st Half 17:42
San Francisco 3
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