The Vikings dominated the Texans this week. How? What is your realistic expectation of the Vikings moving forward?
Erik Ritland (Sports Ramble creator and podcast host): Nothing can stop them, really. They've made good teams look bad and okay teams look silly. They have the best defense in the league and their offense isn't nearly as bad as the Denver Broncos' offense last year. Super Bowl, homeboy.
Mike Emms (Sports Ramble contributor): The surprising thing is that the Vikings offense looked good. I thought the Texans defensive stats were a bit inflated per playing underwhelming teams but I did not expect Sam Bradford to throw for over 270 yards and 2 touchdowns, particularly without wide receiver Stefon Diggs and with tight end Kyle Ruldolph being a non-factor. The Vikings offense is getting better and that not only should be expected as Sam Bradford continues to learn the system but it should also terrify the rest of the league.
The biggest weakness of the Vikings is the offensive line. The recent signing of offensive tackle Jake Long is a very low risk high upside signing that could really help them.
Robert Swinehart (NEW Sports Ramble contributor): Well, let’s start with the obvious. Lamar Miller had eight carries - eight! In each of the Houston Texans three wins he had 20+ carries. If you can’t get the run game going, and your QB is some 70-million-dollar pond scum you recruited from the defending champions (which worked out incredibly well for them), then you’re in for some heavy pass coverage against one of the top defenses in football.
Additionally, the Texans fell victim to the old, “I’m down by two scores, we can’t run the football anymore, we have to pass!” mentality. I wish teams with great running backs, or good rushing offenses in general, would stay more committed the run game in order to open up the passing game, instead of turning tail at the first sign of trouble.
Simply, the Vikings dominated the Texans because the Texans refused to run the ball (and the Vikings rushed hard and often and played heavy pass coverage) and they have an extremely overrated, over-paid quarterback who isn’t capable of much more than a 2012 Christian Ponder.
The Eagles suffered their first loss this week to the Lions. Are the Eagles not as good as they've appeared? Will the Lions be in the playoff picture after having looked pretty decent so far this year?
Erik: I was pretty surprised, as through four weeks the Eagles looked better than the Lions on all fronts. Plus the Lions were trying their best to be prototypical Lions and give the game away, which I was sure they were. The Lions will not make the playoffs.
Mike: I actually predicted that the Eagles would lose to either the Lions or the Redskins. While the Eagles have looked good it's hard for me to completely buy into, considering that they were pretty bad last year and have a new coach and a rookie quarterback. They have been dominant with un-scouted looks but as more film is created the more opposing teams will find to exploit them.
As for the Lions, they are good enough to win and bad enough to lose to anybody they face. They don't have any realistic shot at the playoffs and at best I picture them finishing with an 7-9 record.
Robert: I find it incredibly onerous to convince myself that the Philadelphia Eagles are overrated. Do stats lie? Because what I’m looking at is a team that is ranked second in rush defense, second in pass defense and first in total defense.
But wait, might I retract, if only a little? They Eagles have faced two of the most dismal, depressing (I think those both mean the same thing…), sad, and pathetic teams in the NFL. Is it possible that facing these two lamentable teams buffered the Eagles stats, if only a little? Possibly. Then again, they shut down the Pittsburgh Steelers, who boast one of the best offenses in football. So after my little self-debate I think I am comfortable saying that the Philadelphia Eagles are, in fact, legit.
The Detroit Lions…where to start? They have the 11th best passing offense and the 20th best rushing offense. They beat the 31st worst-ranked defense Indianapolis Colts, they lost to a mediocre Tennessee Titans, lost to the Teddy Bears, and expectedly lost to the Packers. Beating the Eagles…that was a real life miracle, my friends. Starting with a Mathews fumble, followed by an awful unnecessary roughness penalty committed by Malcom Jenkins, and ending with Carson Wentz (who has played well thus far) throwing an errant pass deep into double coverage with 1:28 left on the clock. This resulted in an interception and ultimately a loss.
To conclude, no, I do not think the Detroit Lions will be in the playoff picture, and I disagree entirely with the notion of them having looked “pretty decent so far this year”! (You'll eat your words! The roar has been restored! -ed).
Tom Brady made his triumphant return this week, putting a pounding on the Cleveland Browns. Does this do anything for you?
Mike: Meh, he had a good game. It was the Browns though. I predict him to do well but he'll have to face stronger opposition before we anoint the Patriots as the best team. I do believe, however, that Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, and Martellus Bennett are very could receiving options for Brady's particular skill set.
Robert: Well, no. That is to say, you feel more of an emotional pull when something unexpected happens, don’t you? We all know Tom Brady is one of the greatest NFL quarterbacks to walk beneath this holy o-zone layer we all live under (we need better, cleaner energy!).
The emotions I felt in regards to this particular game were similar to the emotions I felt when the Minnesota Vikings played the New England Patriots in the second week of the 2014 regular season: hopeless. In order for the Cleveland Browns to have beaten the Patriots in this game, pigs would have had to grow wings, Tupac would have needed to resurface and prove to all the naysayers that he really isn’t dead, and finally, the rapture would have needed to commence. I apologize for the run on sentence.
Anyway…no, this doesn’t do anything for me, because Tom Brady is a legend, and all he does is win.
The Green Bay Packers had a relatively easy time with the New York Giants. Is that because the Packers are a great team, the Giants aren't, or some combination of the two?
Erik: The Green Bay Packers played like the Green Bay Packers. Top notch journalism, right? But they played well enough to win and are above average on both sides of the ball. They kept the Giants are arms length and played well enough to make sure that they were never in a position to lose. The Giants are practically hapless. I would have been shocked had the Packers lost.
Mike: I expected to see more from the Giants against the Packers. The Giants passing attack may not be as vaunted as advertised. However, the Packers defense is starting to remind me of the defense the Vikings used to have with the Williams wall. No-one can find space to run against the Packers but there secondary is a mess. They are difficult to score on when their pass rush is effective but when quarterbacks have time opposing offenses have opportunities for big plays.
Robert: Let’s get one thing straight: the Green Bay Packers suck. Okay, I admit I’m biased, I hate those suitcase lovers!
Personal bias aside, I believe both teams are relatively bad. The Packers have beaten three bad teams…period. They beat the godawful Jacksonville Jaguars, the pathetic Detroit Lions, and a terrible New York Giants team. They lost to the only good team they have played so far: the Minnesota Vikings (Then what good teams have they played? -ed).
The Giants boast the 25th worst rushing offense in football, which went against the top-ranked rush defense in the Packers. Hmm, so we know we don’t have to worry about the run. Eli Manning has been struggling to find the end zone all year, ranking 22nd in passing touchdowns. So the Packers play heavy pass coverage and effectively stunt the Giants passing game. What’s more shocking is how a team like the New York Giants, which spent two truckloads of cash on their defense, gave up 406 yards of offense to the 31st ranked offense in the NFL?!
All in all, I would say the Packers are okay at best, and the Giants are slightly worse.