The Vikings lost embarrassingly to the Bears 20-10. What went wrong?
Erik Ritland (Sports Ramble founder and podcast host): In a word (or two): the offense. The offensive line played to its capabilities, the running game was non-existent, Bradford looked lost, and the play calling was terrible. I know he didn't have much to work with, but Norv Turner made things worse by calling for long passing routes instead of short ones throughout the game. With athletic receivers like Diggs and Thielen it would have been easy to convert on shorter passing plays and carve up the field. That they didn't is a mystery though I bet it has something to do with Norv Turner's resignation.
Chip Matthews (Sports Ramble contributor): I know the offense is getting a lot of crap (and they should, especially the offensive line), but the defense did not play to their standards by any stretch of the imagination. Cutler and the Bears aren't that good, especially their second-string running back, and that they had the Vikings' defense against a wall most of the game should be alarming to Vikings fans.
Do you think the rest of the Vikings season will be more like their first five games or the last two?
Erik: It'll be a mixture of both, but if I had to say one or the other I'd say the last two. We've finally started seeing their injuries catch up to them, and with Peterson and a myriad of offensive linemen out for extended periods of time I don't see that changing. They were unstoppable in their first five games because their defense dominated and their offense did just enough to survive. When a very average Bears defense can make you look as bad as they did last Monday, odds are that the offense won't always be able to pull that off.
Chip: Hopefully the first five. Sure, the offensive line is a little more banged up, but Bradford will get more comfortable as the season progresses and we all know what the defense is capable of.
How does the resignation of Norv Turner affect the Vikings?
Erik: Very much, though for better or for worse remains to be seen. Pat Shurmur has a working relationship with Sam Bradford so I imagine that the offense will change to make him more comfortable, which will probably be a good thing, as Bradford needs as much of an advantage as he can get behind the Vikings abysmal offensive line. Let's hope that Shurmur calls for more deeper drop backs and shorter passing routes, as I don't know how much longer the injury prone Bradford will be able to last otherwise.
I just hope that this was truly Norv Turner's decision and that he's leaving on good terms. It's never cool to see a good guy lose his livelihood.
Chip: Probably not a whole lot, but if it does hopefully it's for the better. Shurmur's experience with Bradford should help things go more smoothly if anything.
The Falcons edged the Packers 33-32 in, as predicted, a shootout between Matt Ryan and Aaron Rodgers. Did the game change your opinion of either team?
Erik: Not really. I didn't think the Falcons would amount to much this year, mostly because of their suspect defense, but Matt Ryan and Julio Jones are pioneering an effort to replicate the '98 Vikings. Maybe they'll play Minnesota in the NFC Championship game and the season can come down to Blair Walsh...
The Packers are coming alive offensively. Even though Atlanta's defense isn't the greatest, Rodgers had a rhythm and swagger that he simply hasn't had for over a year now. He's playing more like he did in 2010 when he carried the team on his shoulders to a Super Bowl victory.
Chip: Naw, both of these teams are offensively minded, and the shootout character of the game proved that to be true. They'll probably both make the playoffs but I wouldn't bet on them to get very deep.
Did any other games this week catch your eye?
Erik: The Patriots making easy work of one of their biggest challenges in the AFC, the Buffalo Bills. They're going to win the goddamn Super Bowl again.