Haven't done a bullet post in a while, but a drizzly day seems like a good day for a drizzle of thoughts. All sports, though - let's give politics a rest for a day.
- It's increasingly looking like my beloved Milwaukee Brewers are going to choke yet again. They went into the weekend up three games in the wild card race to Philadelphia and are in the process of getting swept by the Phillies while dodging the raindrops that have been falling all over the Eastern Seaboard. When it matters, the Brewers are falling apart. Goodness, it's irritating. This team has more talent than any since the lone World Series team in Brewers history but has had an awful penchant of blowing games in the late innings. It may not be entirely fair to blame this on manager Ned Yost, but it's pretty clear that if the Brewers miss the playoffs again, Ned will be gone. As for the picture, my friends back home in Wisconsin will remember.
- The football season has been a lot of fun so far, but things will start getting interesting this week. The Badgers passed a major test last night at Fresno, but begin a really nasty stretch after a bye week. They go to Michigan, then entertain Ohio State and Penn State on successive weekends, then face a trip to Iowa, a home game against Illinois and a trip to Michigan State. Can the Badgers run that gauntlet unscathed? If they do, you'll have to look at them as a BCS team for sure. At this point, Penn State looks like the toughest foe they will face but trips to East Lansing and Iowa City are usually highly problematic.
- Can we now put a rest to all the Favre longing, Packer fans? Aaron Rodgers played a pretty darned good game today in Detroit and it's increasingly clear that he is the best quarterback in the division. If the Packers can beat the Cowboys in Green Bay next weekend, it will set the tone for the rest of the season. And it sure will be nice to have the Cowboys play the Packers someplace other than Dallas for a change.
- After a Vikings loss, it's often entertaining to listen to the carping on the "Vikings Fan Line" post-game show in KFAN, because it's usually a festival of schadenfreude. I didn't get the chance today but my sense is that the natives are really restless about the Purple being 0-2. If you look at things objectively, it shouldn't surprise anyone that the Vikes are where they are. We've heard all summer long about how the Vikings would be vastly improved, but those assertions never made a lot of sense. Jared Allen is an excellent speed rusher, but he can pushed around at the point of attack. Nose tackle Pat Williams has played at a very high level since he's come to Minnesota but he's an old guy by NFL standards playing a very punishing position and it's reasonable to assume that he will wear down. Darren Sharper is getting up there, too. Upshot -- there was reason to suspect that the defense, while generally stout, could be exploited. And it has been. On the offensive side of the ball, T-Jack is still a work in progress and is in danger of moving from prospect to suspect, while the offensive line has only two good players on it right now. Bryant McKinnie will come back eventually but it's doubtful that he'll play at the level needed to make a big difference. This team's ceiling has probably always been 9 wins. I'll say this -- I'd rather be a blogger than Brad Childress round about now.
- We had a little fun jawing about scheduling patsies on the prediction thread. I chided the Gophers for having lowly Montana State on the schedule, prompting a commenter to also chide the Badgers for having might Cal Poly on the schedule at the end of the season. It's an interesting question - whom should you schedule? I've always thought that the ideal non-conference foe is a second-division school from a BCS conference. Good examples of teams to schedule would be Iowa State, Vanderbilt, Baylor, Arizona, Duke, etc. Teams like Fresno are not good choices because they can beat you. For non-Big 10 conferences, the Gophers and Indiana are excellent choices. I did take a peek ahead to the Badgers non-conference opponents in upcoming seasons (the information is available on the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel website) and see that the Badgers will be looking at Oregon State and Arizona State in upcoming seasons. These are pretty good foes. If Tim Brewster can get the Gophers to a more competitive level, it will be interesting to see who starts to show up on the Gopher slate.