Vikings have QB issues, Packers have injuriesRICK LUBBERS: It’s another week, so why not another starting quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings? They’re the Kardashians of the NFL.
By: Rick Lubbers, Duluth News Tribune
It’s another week, so why not another starting quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings? They’re the Kardashians of the NFL.
Christian Ponder will likely start against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night now that Josh Freeman apparently has concussion-like symptoms. Meanwhile, Matt Cassel, who did lead the Vikings to their lone victory this season, impatiently waits in the NFL’s version of backup limbo. Vikings coach Leslie Frazier should be checked for
concussion-like symptoms for the way he has handled the three-headed monster of Ponder, Freeman and Cassel. I wonder if the Vikings brass has flown to Mississippi lately, to woo a certain retired QB back onto the gridiron. The Packers would be heard laughing all the way from Lambeau Field if they weren’t too busy licking their innumerable wounds.
Here are some thoughts on this week’s NFL slate, starting with Sunday night’s big tilt.
Green Bay Packers (4-2) at Minnesota Vikings (1-5)
The Packers will play their final game at the Metrodome and likely will volunteer to help implode it in February when construction begins on the new Vikings stadium. Minnesota’s team implosion already is well underway. The Dome has often given the Packers nightmares, but they haven’t faced a Minnesota team in this much disarray either. No NFL team packs as many players onto the injured list as the Packers, but when unknown receivers like Jarrett Boykin can come out of nowhere and catch eight passes for 103 yards and a score, then the Packers have an embarrassment of riches riding their bench.
Carolina Panthers (3-3) at Tampa Bay buccaneers (0-6)
The .500 Panthers are playing well enough to beat bad teams (Giants, Vikings and the Rams). That trend should continue with much improved play from QB Cam Newton. Meanwhile, the only thing the Bucs have done right so far this season is jettison QB Josh Freeman.
Dallas cowboys (4-3)
at Detroit lions (4-3)
Cowboys’ receiver Dez Bryant says he can do anything that Lions standout Calvin Johnson can do. This Sunday he gets the chance to prove it. Judging by how easily Cincy’s A.J. Green shredded the Lions secondary last week (8 catches, 155 yards and a TD), Bryant will probably do a pretty good Megatron impression.
Cleveland browns (3-4) at Kansas City chiefs (7-0)
If you predicted that the Chiefs would start their season 7-0 after going 2-14 last year, please use your extrasensory perception responsibly. ESP is not needed for this one, though. The Chiefs will improve to 8-0 after the league’s toughest defense feasts on the reeling Browns.
Miami dolphins (3-3) at New England Patriots (5-2)
After a surprising 3-0 start (although two of those wins came against the Browns and Falcons), Miami has lost three straight. The Patriots have dropped two of their past three, but both of those were on the road and losing streaks are not allowed in New England. The Dolphins’ slide will continue as the Pats rebound.
Buffalo Bills (3-4) at New Orleans Saints (5-1)
You can bet that Saints QB Drew Brees is still stewing about New England’s miraculous comeback last week. He gets to take it out on the so-so Bills in New Orleans.
N.y. Giants (1-6) at Philadelphia eagles (3-4)
Sure, the Giants finally won a game and QB Eli Manning finally completed a game without tossing an interception. But beating the Vikings these days doesn’t count for much. The Eagles don’t have much to brag about either after Dallas visited them last week and shut down their vaunted offense. Take the home team here, especially with Philly QB Michael Vick set to return.
San Francisco 49ers (5-2) at JAcksonville jaguars (0-7)
London football fans had the displeasure of seeing two of the league’s worst teams in action last month when the Vikings and Steelers played overseas. Now, they see the NFL’s worst team — the Jags. (Who rubber stamped this schedule anyway?) San Francisco is on a roll, winning four straight games by double digits and scoring more than 30 points each time. Jacksonville has yet to score more than 20 points in a game. Sorry, London. Maybe next year we’ll send better matchups over the pond.
Pittsburgh steelers (2-4) at Oakland raiders (2-4)
The Steelers have not won in Oakland since 1995, but they seem to have shaken off their 0-4 start with a pair of gritty victories over the Jets and Ravens. Steelers by a nose.
New York Jets (4-3) at Cincinnati bengals (5-2)
Jets coach Rex Ryan swears he didn’t order his players to practice celibacy last week prior to their game against the Patriots. So, if his players didn’t spend a week sleeping on their couches, then how did they pull off that upset of the Patriots, huh? Celibate or not, the Jets are ripe for a deflating loss.
Washington Redskins (2-4) at Denver broncos (6-1)
The equation for this game is simple following Denver’s first loss Sunday night in Peyton Manning’s return to Indy. Angry Manning + porous Redskins pass defense = A Mile High blowout.
Atlanta Falcons (2-4) at Arizona cardinals (3-4)
Teams with 3-4 records don’t attract much attention, but the Cardinals shouldn’t be ignored, especially in the desert where they are 2-1 this season. The underperforming Falcons only have a pair of home victories over the Rams and Buccaneers on their woeful resume’.
Seattle seahawks (6-1) at St. Louis Rams (3-4)
If getting blown out by Carolina wasn’t bad enough, the Rams lost their starting QB Sam Bradford for the year and now place their slim hopes on the arm of Kellen Clemens and recently signed Brady Quinn, who has now been on every NFL roster at least twice. And you thought the Vikings had quarterback problems. Seattle’s offense will soon add some zing once Percy Harvin returns from his preseason hip surgery.
Survivor Pick: New Orleans Saints —Drew Brees and his potent offense are well-rested after a bye week and are hosting a mediocre Bills team. Plus, the Saints defense is much improved this year. New Orleans wins this one big.
Last week: 9-6
Contact News Tribune sports editor Rick Lubbers at email@example.com or (218) 723-5317. Follow him @ricklubbersdnt on Twitter. All predictions are for entertainment purposes only. Bet at the risk of losing your shirt.