The Vikes are now a game behind the Packers,who have been less than impressive. The Packers already beat the Vikings at Lambeau, and they got a win against an awful Lion team. But they looked awful defensively against an excellent Dallas team on Sunday: they couldn't stop the run (217 yards and 6.2 per attempt) and gave up big plays against the pass (Tony Romo averaged 15.3 yards per completion). I don't discount the Packers, but the division is very much up for grabs.
The Bears scare me: they're not good enough offensively to advance in (or probably even make) the playoffs, but they're good enough defensively to sweep the Vikings.
Tony Romo is a Tecmo quarterback. In a league of precision pass plays, Romo often drops back, roams around a bit, and then slings a pass somewhere deep downfield. He doesn't just drop back and throw a timing pattern from a three or five step drop: he's drops back deep, slides, runs, shuffles, and then finds a receiver. And what's more fun than Marion Barber and Felix Jones? Well, a lot of things are more fun than Marion Barber and Felix Jones. But aren't they really fun running backs to watch? Really, this is a dream Tecmo team: two good running backs, a good tight end, an elite WR, a 3-4ish defense, a DB in Adam Jones that might have the Rod Woodson-Deion Sanders style video game speed, good kick returners. Am I just watching my childhood come to life?
Let's just say the 49ers, Seahawks, and Cardinals are each getting two wins against the Rams (though if the Rams do get a win this year, I would bet it's against San Fran). Whichever team is able to go 3-1 against each other needs to find four wins outside the division to get to nine wins. And that team will win the division. The NFC Wild Card teams are going to have a good chance to get to the second round of the playoffs.
Since I can't think of anything really interesting to say, let's use this spot for some Peter King style narcissism: since I had a soy milk latte at Caribou Coffee yesterday, all I think about all day long is espresso. Is this bad? Is this a problem?
The Steelers have problems. In their Sunday loss to the Eagles, they rushed for just 33 yards on 19 attempts, and Ben Roethlisberger was sacked nine times. But whereas I thought the Bengals would unseat them for a division title, it's the Ravens that may be making a push.
Did you draft any Cleveland Browns in your fantasy league? No? Then smile.
Cheers to the Viking fans' brother and sister fans, Buffalo Bills fans. Bronco fans have moved on: we're the last fans of 0-4 Super Bowl teams. But at least you have that AFL title from before there were Super Bowls. Cherish it, friends. And enjoy your 3-0 team with a pretty manageable schedule (not that the Bills are good enough to overlook anybody on that schedule).
I did pick the Bengals to win a freakin' division this year, so let me enjoy being right in ignoring the David Garrard hype.
The Titans are the Vikings. They've got a couple of good running backs that make them strong in the ground game. They've got a tough-minded defense built on dominant play from the defensive tackles. They're now turning the team over to a veteran journeyman QB, but neither really has WRs for that QB to throw to. And both teams could still win their divisions.
The Denver Broncos are 3-0, and we're all impressed with Jay Cutler leading them to 38 points per game. But let us not forget they're allowing 28 points per game. The offense will come down, and the defense will stay bad: I still look for the Chargers to win the division easily. Then again, they've got some defensive problems of their own, giving up 31.3 per game. Philip Rivers throwing to Chris Chambers, Vincent Jackson, Antonio Gates, and Ladanian Tomlinson suddenly looks like one of the most exciting passing games in the league. Give Norv Turner this: a dink and donk offensive mind he is not.
And consider this for the Chargers and Broncos: they are each likely to go 4-0 against the Raiders and Chiefs. That means to make the playoffs, they probably need to find six other wins. They play each other, so there's two more wins out there (the Broncos already have one of those). And they've each found one other win against a non-division opponent. I'll stick with the Chargers to be the AFC's one-seed.
There are some awful, awful teams in this league.
Look at your favorite team's schedule. If it plays against the Lions, Rams, or Chiefs, smile. If it plays against either team twice, smile bigger. You also might want to smile if you play the Raiders, the Texans, even the Browns.
The Cincinnati Bengals
When I'm wrong, I'm very wrong. They look like a bad football team. But they're also still a scary football team: if I see them on the schedule, I'm not writing it off as a win against a lousy team.
This week I traded Brandon Jacobs for Ronnie Brown, so now I've traded my draft-day starting QB, both RBs, and both WRs. And I actually liked the team I drafted. How did this happen? Am I really starting Lee Evans and Bryant Johnson at WR this weekend? Is this for real? Am I really hitching my wagon to the Matt Forte experience? What happened?
Gus Frerotte (ESPN, Viking Update).
The Vikings have sucked in the red zone (Star Tribune). They've got the running game to score inside the five (well, shouldn't everybody), but so far the passing game just can't do much from 20, 15, 10 yards out.
Jared Allen (Pioneer Press).