Scott Taylor

NFL Picks Week 3

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There are NFL Teams that Aren’t Trying to Win

Scott Taylor

“The Coach”

Dr. Football

“Dr. Football”



The Coach and Dr. Football
September 21, 2017
@staylorsports ‏




There are a growing number of teams in the National Football League that don’t care whether they win or lose. There are a growing number of teams in the NFL that would call some drunk donkey out of the stands before they would give a guy who could actually win them a football game, a chance to play. Teams that are employing the likes of Case Keenum, Brian Hoyer, Kevin Hogan, Josh McCown, Blake Bortles, Mike Glennon and Jacoby Brissett and yet won’t call on Colin Kaepernick to help them out, are either run by idiots or they don’t care at all if they win or lose.

And if you’re buying tickets to home games with those clowns at quarterback, you are living proof that there is indeed a sucker born every minute.

In a league where woman-beaters and drunk drivers get a second chance, a man who wanted to do something for the underprivileged can’t find work. In a league where dozens of players now sit or kneel for the US national anthem, the guy who started it all, is unemployed. The NFL is successful despite itself.

And according to ESPN’s Bill Barwell, that’s simply insane: “There just isn’t a strong enough case for teams to pass on Kaepernick, given the desperate public outcries for useful quarterbacks and the nature of his protests. Even if you disagree with his stance, it’s bizarre to contrast his peaceful political dissent as a crime that should keep him off rosters in a league in which even marginal players embroiled with confirmed or alleged incidences of domestic and/or sexual assault can sustain careers.

“Watching so many NFL teams willfully make ignorant choices and then complain about the lack of quarterback options while leaving a clearly qualified candidate on the sidelines makes it seem like the quality of decision-making in the modern NFL is far worse than the quality of play.”

Thank you Mr. Barwell.

There is not one legitimate statistic that would suggest even slightly that Kaepernick would not be a better quarterback than Hogan, Hoyer, Keenum, Brissett, McCown, Bortles or Glennon and the way things have gone so far this year, he’d also be a step up from Carson Palmer, Andy Dalton, Jared Goff or poor old habitual loser Philip Rivers (no wonder nobody in LA buys Chargers tickets).

Of course, for your two fearless prognosticators, that’s a good thing. Sure, the Chargers or Cincinnati or the Bears might have a good week occasionally, but for the most part, those teams are not really trying to win. They’re simply trying to get through each week of the season without embarrassing themselves. Thankfully, if we’re going to wager hard-earned cash on the outcomes of their games, we know enough now to bet against them.

Because there are so many teams that have no real desire to hire a quarterback who at least has a chance to win games, you can write those teams off today. Sure, we knew Cleveland, the Bears and Jacksonville would be horrible, but now that Andrew Luck is hurt, Sam Bradford is hurt (Sam Bradford is always hurt) and Philip Rivers has a job, the Colts, Vikings and Chargers won’t win much.

It’s going to make this a profitable season.

Last week Dr. Football went 11-5 (21-10) straight up and 7-9 (17-14) against the spread while The Coach went 10-6 (22-9) straight up and 9-7 (18-13) against the spread. We have NEVER been this good this early in any season.

And this week, we have an advantage. We know the teams that don’t even care if they win. Only problem, some of those teams play each other.


Los Angeles Rams (1-1) at San Francisco 49ers (0-2)
Line: Rams by 2

An early season divisional rival game between two lackluster teams. The Rams defense was terrible last week, but they’re playing a team with a terrible offense. Rams get back on track. The Coach says: Well, San Francisco would be better with somebody other than Brian Hoyer at quarterback but hey…

Dr. Football: Take the Rams to win and cover.

The Coach: Take the Rams to win and cover.



Baltimore Ravens (2-0) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1)
Line: Ravens by 3.5

London’s first game of the season features two teams with very good defenses. Trouble is, Jacksonville’s offense isn’t very good. The Coach says: Of course Jacksonville’s offense would be better with Colin Kaepernick, but Jags owner Shahid Khan doesn’t want to win.

Dr. Football: Take the Ravens to win and cover.

The Coach: Take the Ravens to win and cover.


Cleveland Browns (0-2) at Indianapolis Colts (0-2)
Line: Browns by 1

Indianapolis played better last week than anyone expected, and with the Browns in town they’ll get their first win. The Coach says: Unless shaky rookie DeShone Kizer can play for Cleveland, Kevin Hogan will be the Browns’ quarterback. Jacoby Brissett will play quarterback for Indianapolis. Neither of these owners and neither of these general managers gives a crap about winning.

Dr. Football: Take the Colts in an upset.

The Coach: Take the Colts.


Pittsburgh Steelers (2-0) at Chicago Bears (0-2)
Line: Steelers by 7

Pittsburgh had to work hard for their first two wins, but pretty much can take the day off in Chicago and leave with the win. The Coach says: Mike Glennon will start at quarterback for the Bears. Chicago might not win a single game this season.

Dr. Football: Take the Steelers to win and cover.

The Coach: Take the Steelers to win and cover.


Miami Dolphins (1-0) at New York Jets (0-2)
Line: Dolphins by 6

Usually two consecutive road games are tough, but the Dolphins will have little trouble against a Jets team that has issues on both sides of the ball. The Coach says: The Jets just stink.

Dr. Football: Take the Dolphins to win and cover.

The Coach: Take the Dolphins to win and cover.


Denver Broncos (2-0) at Buffalo Bills (1-1)
Line: Broncos by 3

The Bills defense won’t be able to handle the surprising Denver offense, and Denver’s defense will not allow Buffalo even near the red zone.

Dr. Football: Take the Broncos to win and cover.

The Coach: Take the Bills.


Houston Texans (1-1) at New England Patriots (1-1)
Line: Patriots by 13

We saw the real Patriots last week against the Saints, and that’s not good for a struggling Houston team on the road.

Dr. Football: Take the Patriots to win and cover.

The Coach: Take the Patriots to win and cover.


New Orleans Saints (0-2) at Carolina Panthers (2-0)
Line: Panthers by 6

The winless Saints won’t be able to regroup on the road despite having a better than average offense. Carolina’s defense will be the difference here.

Dr. Football: Take the Panthers to win and cover.

The Coach: Take the Panthers to win and cover.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0) at Minnesota Vikings (1-1)

Hard to get a read on the Bucs after beating the lowly Bears, but their defense looked good. Minnesota is a tough place to play your first road game of the year though, but the Vikings depend on Sam Bradford being back to win.

Dr. Football: Take the Vikings.

The Coach: Take the Vikings if Bradford plays, otherwise bet the farm on Tampa Bay.


Atlanta Falcons (2-0) at Detroit Lions (2-0)
Line: Falcons by 3

The Lions fairytale start to the season ends on Sunday when Atlanta’s Matt Ryan shows up the overpaid Matt Stafford. The Coach says: Take the Lions till they lose.

Dr. Football: Take the Falcons to win and cover.

The Coach: Take the Lions.


New York Giants (0-2) at Philadelphia Eagles (1-1)
Line: Eagles by 6

The Giants are a terrible football team, the kind that Philadelphia fans love coming to town. Poor Eli will have a tough day against an excellent Eagles defense.

Dr. Football: Take the Eagles to win and cover.

The Coach: Take the Eagles to win and cover.



Seattle Seahawks (1-1) at Tennessee Titans (1-1)
Line: Titans by 3

Seattle have struggled this season due to their poor O-Line, but always seem to make the necessary corrections even on the road.

Dr. Football: Take the Seahawks in an upset.

The Coach: Take the Titans to win and cover.


Kansas City Chiefs (2-0) at Los Angeles Chargers (0-2)
Line: Chiefs by 3

Kansas City gutted one out last week against the Eagles, and should have little trouble against a winless, homeless team.

Dr. Football: Take the Chiefs to win and cover.

The Coach: Take the Chiefs to win and cover.


Cincinnati Bengals (0-2) at Green Bay Packers (1-1)
Line: Packers by 8.5

You don’t think a team that hasn’t scored a point this season will put up a fight at Lambeau Field do you?

Dr. Football: Take the Packers to win and cover.

The Coach: Take the Packers to win and cover.



Oakland Raiders (2-0) at Washington Redskins (1-1)
Line: Raiders by 3

Oakland has impressed the first two weeks, but they still allowed the Jets to score 20 points. That won’t cut it against Washington.

Dr. Football: Take the Redskins in an upset.

The Coach: Take the Washingtons to win and cover.



Dallas Cowboys (1-1) at Arizona Cardinals (1-1)
Line: Cowboys by 3

Arizona’s home opener is going to be tough on a team playing their second consecutive road game. However, I think Dallas, given all the Elliott turmoil will be fired up in a Monday Nighter.

Dr. Football: Take the Cowboys to win and cover

The Coach: Take the Cowboys to win and cover.

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Jonathan Lowe

College Football: Seven on the Line (9-21-17)

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By Jonathan Lowe
September 21, 2017

There are some interesting clashes involving Group of 5 schools this weekend.  Houston hosts former Southwestern Conference foe Texas Tech.  Toledo heads to Miami to face a Hurricanes team that hasn’t played in weeks thanks to one of its namesakes.  Likewise, Central Florida returns to the field for the first time since Week 1 (they travel to Maryland).  As the saying goes, though, I put those matchups aside to go “straight chalk” this time around.  I’ll keep checking in on the Mid-Majors during the season.  In the meantime, the bigger names will start to dominate the spotlight.

Split Ends
Michigan at Purdue:  The bad news for the Wolverines is that they had a bit of a tense time putting away Air Force last week.  The good news is that they won’t have to face that triple-option attack for the rest of the regular season.  This upcoming matchup should be more to the Maize and Blue’s liking.  However, I don’t know if I would sleep on the Boilermakers just yet.  Purdue hung with Louisville deep into the fourth quarter in the opener.  Last week, (sigh) they walloped Missouri on the road.  Now, neither of those teams have the defense Michigan sports.  But, if the Wolverine offense is still sputtering (5 offensive TD’s to Purdue’s 14), then we may have a tight game a little later than expected.

Alabama at Vanderbilt: In the SEC, late-September conference games between two undefeated teams isn’t unprecedented.  It appears to be an annual norm, actually.  One happened only days ago (LSU at Mississippi State).  Multiple games will follow the same rules this weekend.  It just so happens that one of them will occur in Nashville.  For the Commodores, this is a position they haven’t been in too often.  There have been 3-0 (and better) starts.  Even with that past, when was the last time that an opponent of this magnitude came to Tennessee’s state capital with the home team having a shot at getting to 4-0?

For the Crimson Tide, this is old hat.  The following is a Public Service Announcement to one Nick Saban…YOU COACH A JUGGERNAUT!  It doesn’t matter that you don’t want to hear it.  It doesn’t matter that you don’t want your players to hear it.  Since your second season in Tuscaloosa (2008):

*Your program has won at least 10 games every season.
*Your teams have competed six premier bowl games.
*Your squads have taken part in the last two College Football Playoffs.
*You have led the school to four national championships.

Now, if we’re comparing your run against those of Knute Rockne, Bud Wilkinson, Tom Osbourne, Red Blaik, or Bear Bryant, then that’s a valid discussion.  But, save one contemporary (Urban Meyer), you are the guy that has dominated the field since the mid-1990s.  The other big-name programs (Ohio State, Michigan, USC, Texas, Oklahoma, Penn State, Florida, LSU, Florida St.) have had, at least, one brief lapse of mediocrity over the last ten years.  You haven’t, because you coach a juggernaut.  Does this mean you’re invincible?  No.  But your pretty durn close.  And that makes a big difference going against a team that may be looking for the program’s biggest win in its 113-season (115-year) history.



USC at Cal: It’s nice to see some of the programs in the Pac-12 revive their glorious past (two of those examples are coming up later).  Could the Golden Bears be one of them?  There was a period about 10-15 year ago when the Berkeley school was producing a football program that had numbers next to their name and sniffs on conference title contention.  You can pinpoint 2004 as the prime example.  Aaron Rodgers, Marshawn Lynch, and the Bears visited Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush, Lendale White, and the Trojans in a top-10 showdown.  As much fun as it is to reminisce on that matchup, this instance isn’t the same.  Justin Wilcox is in his first year running the Cal program.  They’ve racked up wins over Ole Miss and at North Carolina.  To get to 4-0, though, they might have to depend on a USC hangover after the Trojans’ OT win against Texas.

Penn State at Iowa: Are the Nittany Lions truly back?  They’ve looked the part, with three dominant wins to start the season.  There also seems to be a bit of overconfidence – arrogance, to some – coming from the sidelines.  Whether James Franklin is throwing a wet blanket over a deep-seeded state rivalry or “icing a kicker” in a 56-0 pasting, something’s working.  The reputation of a top-ten program has returned this season.  The program has won 11 straight regular season games.  Oh, and let’s not forget that they’re the defending Big Ten champs.  This  run won’t last forever.  It very well may not even last the whole season.  But going into conference play, the Nittany Lions are pouncing.

There’s a magic to night games in several locales.  However, living in the Upper Midwest, you see Big Ten fans embrace contests under the lights.  Whether it’s Columbus, State College, Madison, or others, these events are well-received.  The same can be said for Iowa City, where the Hawkeyes have pulled off some special results (including last year’s upset of second-ranked Michigan).  This is the third time I’ve featured a Hawkeye game in this weekly blurb.  They smothered Wyoming and survived against Iowa State.  Am I becoming a good-luck charm for them?  As a Cyclone alum, I sure hope not.

Mississippi State at Georgia: In a conference full of Tigers, it’s a couple of Bulldogs that are making some early noise.  The ones that hail from Starkville made a huge statement while hosting one of those Tiger squads (the Bayou one).  The blowout win over LSU marked a potential spark of the magic that vaulted this program to a #1 poll ranking (for several weeks) in 2014.  Just like that season offered a breakout campaign for QB Dak Prescott, this one looks to provide a similar path for signal caller Nick Fitzgerald.  The next two weeks could do a lot to vault this team to their own top-five status.

The first matchup for the “Bell” Dogs comes Between the Hedges.  The other ‘Dawgs are flying high after their victory at Notre Dame a couple of weeks back.  That (plus a Week 3 win over Samford) vaults them into the league schedule to come.  Now, as has been the case the last few seasons, UGA is a player for the East Division title.  They just didn’t expect to be running alongside their current 3-0 counterparts.  We knew that Tennessee or Florida would cannibalize the other early on.  The fact, though, that Kentucky and Vanderbilt are the other unbeaten teams in the division is a bit surprising.  This may be the shot for Georgia to make their push back to Atlanta…and beyond.

Washington at Colorado: Last season, it looked like a return to 1990.  Around that time, these two “outpost” squads were prominent players in the national championship picture.  It’s taken a while for the Huskies to get back to that level, but they appear to be close, if not there.  This was signified last Winter, when the Huskies made a trip to the national semifinals.  Chris Petersen hopes to reach loftier goals this season.  The schedule, however, will come into question again this year.  With Rutgers, Montana, and Fresno State in the rear view mirror, they’ll need the Pac-12 to really step up their game…as they try to shut their peers down.

The Buffaloes are seeking a measure of revenge.  They lost to UW in last year’s conference championship.  Perhaps the biggest feel-good story of the season, CU has also been on the fast track to program revival.  Mike MacIntyre returned the favor for the time the university allowed him to build the program back up.  And they’re trying to build off of the school’s first 10-win season since 2001.  A win over the Huskies would provide a large building block in the program’s efforts to return to national contending status.


TCU at Oklahoma State: A couple of weekends ago, the Horned Frogs showed their road mettle with a win in Fayetteville.  Last weekend, they turned around an early 19-7 deficit to run away from longtime, crosstown rival SMU.  This weekend, they can crash the Big XII party, where the Oklahoma schools are set to stand above the fray of everyone else.  It may be a bit troubling that the Mustangs were able to get 36 on that defense (it limited Arkansas to seven a week before).  This is definitely the week you would want the defending 11 to shore things up.

The Cowboys haven’t really been challenged yet this season.  Their offense put up its second straight 59-point effort last Saturday at Pitt.  Of the schools that have played three contests, Ok State is trailing only one school in scoring at 54.0 ppg (that would be Oregon’s at 56.0 ppg).  But we know this about the Pokes.  Mason Rudolph is just another reminder of the explosive offense this program has.  It’s about gaining more for Mike Gundy’s squad.  It’s about national respect and conference supremacy.  They received a taste of that in 2011, and the folks is Stillwater have waited a while for that sensation to return.

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Eric Nelson

SPORTS NUGGETS: The LA Sparks and Minnesota Lynx have been on a collision course all season

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By Eric Nelson
September 20, 2017


MINNEAPOLIS – Sports Nuggets from the Land of Lynx...

•Hoops Destiny: No surprise that the LA Sparks and Minnesota Lynx will play in the WNBA Finals for the second straight season. The two powerhouse teams have been on a collision course all year…

•Pedigree Programs: The Sparks and Lynx have each won three titles and the winner of this series will join the Houston Comets as the only four-time champs in WNBA history…

•Solar System: There will be a galaxy of stars in this match up. LA has Candace Parker, Odyssey Sims and Nneka Ogwumike. Minnesota counters with WNBA MVP Sylvia Fowles, Maya Moore,  Seimone Augustus and Lindsay Whalen.  Another Lynx title would earn them another confetti shower, another parade and cement them as one of the greatest teams in Minnesota sports history…

•Quarterback-Tested: The Minnesota Vikings are facing some of the NFL’s top gunslingers early this season. In week 1 the Purple took on New Orleans’ Drew Brees, in week 2 they faced Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger, this Sunday it’s Tampa Bay’s young star Jameis Winston and next week it’s Detroit’s Matthew Stafford. In week 6 Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay come to US Bank Stadium…

•Quarterback Quandary: Meanwhile, the Vikings are in a QB conundrum. If the injured Sam Bradford does not return for the Bucs game, Minnesota is going to be hard-pressed to win. Case Keenum and his teammates will have to play much better than they did in Pittsburgh for the Vikings to have a chance…

•Deja vu: For the second straight season the Packers have been part of a venue christening on NBC’s Sunday Night Football. On 9/18/2016 Minnesota knocked off Green Bay 17-14 in the first game ever played at USBS. Almost a year later, on 9/17/2017, Atlanta broke in Mercedes Benz Stadium with a 34-23 win over GB…

•Peachtree Palace: The Falcons new digs looked spectacular on NBC. The $1.6 billion retractable roof facility has all the bells and whistles – including a halo board that circles the top of the stadium and is the seventh largest video screen on the globe…

•Nice Threads: The Miami Dolphins have some of the coolest uniforms in the NFL. The Aqua, orange and white color scheme is catchy and the team logo featuring a dolphin with a sun backdrop is quintessential South Florida…

•Prep Pals: Detroit QB Matthew Stafford and LA Dodgers P Clayton Kershaw both went to Highland Park HS in Dallas. On Monday night Stafford threw two touchdown passes in the Lions 24-10 win over the NY Giants, while Kershaw gave up his first career grand slam in a 4-3 loss to Philadelphia…

•Lion Kings: Detroit is 2-0 and on top of the NFC North after a solid performance against the Giants at MetLife Stadium. The Lions – a playoff team last season – are good enough to win the North…

•Coup de’etat: Blue Jay Nation flocked to Target Field for last weekend’s four-game series against the Twins. There were thousands of Toronto fans in the ballpark chanting and cheering loudly for their team. They could be seen wandering all over downtown Minneapolis – especially in bars and restaurants. Multiple tour buses from Manitoba, Ontario and Saskatchewan were parked on city streets…

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Gophers ‘rowing the boat’ at 3-0

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By Larry Fitzgerald
September 19, 2017


Little did I know about the name P.J. Fleck until recently. My time might be drawing to an end.

Back in 1992, while doing talk radio on KFAN, the Gophers’ flagship station, I told my broadcast partner Eric Nelson and our listening audience that things were so bad here in the culture of the program at Minnesota that the football program would not go to the Rose Bowl in my lifetime. Here it is 2017 and the team has not won a Big Ten title since 1967 and has not been to the Rose Bowl since 1961.

Imagine three Gopher head football coaches in three years. That sounds as if the program is drifting away in trouble, right? Last year’s sexual harassment issues led to big change for both players and coaches. P.J. Fleck is the new big man on campus; he was hired shortly after Tracy Claeys was fired after going 9-4 and winning back-to-back Bowl games.

Not many Gopher head football coaches over the last 50 years can say that. Fleck was hired by Mark Coyle, the new Minnesota athletic director. “When I was athletic director at Syracuse,” said Coyle, “that’s when I first had a coaching search, and that’s when his name came up. I talked to a couple of coaches, and his name kept coming up.
“When I came to Minnesota a year later,” Coyle continued, “I saw what he did at Western Michigan University, starting 1-11 and then the next year going 13-1. That was awesome, but what really impressed me was [that] academically that team went from a 2.5 to a 3.0.

“I knew that he would take care of things on the field and off the field academically. We had a sense of urgency, so we thought he would be good for our program.”

It is early, but after three weeks the Gophers under Fleck are 3-0, winning 17-7 over Buffalo. At Oregon State the next week the Gophers dominated 48-14. And last Saturday I witnessed at TCF a complete domination of Middle Tennessee 34-3.

Some have been critical of Fleck and his methods. He is very confident when he talks. It’s about faith a lot and about the culture of a program. And “rowing the boat.”

Proof has been in the fast start and what the players are saying, and more importantly what they are doing and the changes. Not many head coaches across this country have won 16 of their last 17 games. P.J. Fleck talks the talk.

His style is different. He came on campus and right away threw away some prized football trophies. That has upset some alumni players. Not everyone is buying what he’s selling, but so far he’s “rowing the boat.”



Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to, or visit

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Jonathan Lowe

College Football: Seven on the Line (9-15-17)

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By Jonathan Lowe
September 15, 2017

For the first time in almost twelve years, we get to relive one of the greatest games college football has ever seen.  Sure, Texas ain’t what it used to be.  Yes, USC had to go through a rough patch of its own.  But you would think that all this pomp and circumstance surrounding the 2005 national championship game would guarantee us a stirring revival, right?  Eh, maybe.  There are some big, brand-name matchups this week.  However, this may also be the best week of the season for “Major v. Mid-Major” games.  For example:

Split Ends
The Service Academies vs. The Midwest Titans: Please indulge me for a moment. I’d like to bring up two games that will probably be blowouts, but may provide some intrigue on this Saturday in September. The Service Academy schools have all had their flirtations with success. Sure, this isn’t the same type of success that surrounded these programs from the late 1960s backward. However, there is winning football taking place among those ready to serve the country. Navy has had the most success recently. Air Force has been consistently solid since the early-1980s. Now, even Army appears to be getting in on the fun. With last season’s Heart of Dallas Bowl bid, they made just their second postseason appearance since 1996.

All of the above success is well and good, but it pales in comparison to the rung Michigan and Ohio State are on. Yes, comparatively speaking, the bitter rivals are the best football factories of the Midwest. There are academic standards that do stand above many. However, where the Academies may be taking an upperclassmen course in Pigskin Dynamics, these two institutions are expected to deliver their doctoral theses around Thanksgiving…when they play each other. When schools from these differing groups meet, the sophistication levels aren’t supposed to be close, so to speak.

This weekend, two of those Academies (Air Force and Army) will visit the two football behemoths (Michigan and Ohio State). Of course, the home schools are heavy favorites going into these contests. But how will they handle those triple option attacks that the Academies are so known for? Could either of the visiting teams keep it close at the half? Maybe going into the 4th quarter? Whatever happens, it’s a good time for Academy football. And it could get even better on Saturday.


Illinois at South Florida (Friday): Is the Lovie Smith era showing a bit of progress? The Illini needed a late touchdown to beat Ball State in its opener. The defense shut down Western Kentucky last week. Now, it’s to the road to see where they stand ahead of the conference season. Getting halfway to bowl eligibility would be a big boost this early in the season. For South Florida, it’s a hopeful return to normalcy.

Hurricane Irma left a trail of tragedy and devastation across the state. Football is one of the lowest rungs on the totem pole of importance, but this sport was effected as well. The Bulls did not travel to Connecticut for a conference matchup against the Huskies. This week, they’ll get back on the field, despite the news of more games involving teams across the state being cancelled or postponed. Will this event provide inspiration? Will it show the signs of fatigue and disruption? In any case, let’s hope that it brings a bit of relief.

Oregon at Wyoming: The Ducks have started well in the first year under Willie Taggert. They’ve taken care of business at home. Now, this team heads to unfamiliar territory. But this isn’t the first time this program traveled inland to take on a smaller-branded school. In 2009, the program played on the Blue Turf of Boise. A lot of swagger fell short as the Ducks lost that night, 19-8 to Boise State. Oh yeah, that was the time LeGarrette Blount socked a Bronco player after the game. Ah, memories. I’d be stunned if anything that bizarre happens this time around. The Ducks better be on their guard, though.

Josh Allen had a bad effort in his showcase at Iowa City. The Cowboys couldn’t muster any offense against the Hawkeyes. Allen was smothered by the Iowa defense (23-40, 174 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs). The team got to gain some confidence with a 27-0 win over Gardner-Webb. Allen led the way with 328 passing yards and 2 TD tosses. So, with a chance to host a Power 5 opponent, can momentum filter through from last Saturday? One apparent theme? Allen can’t beat the Ducks on his own (the Cowboys are only rushing for 62.0 ypg).


Wisconsin at BYU: With their status as an Independent, the Cougars can design the schedule they like. That includes matchups that will keep them on a national stage. Sometimes, it turns out great. Sometimes, it may bite you. The latter seems to be happening right now. Yes, they beat Portland State to begin the year. That, though, has been followed up by being shutout/routed by LSU and falling at the hands of bitter rival Utah. On the heels of all that, in steps Bucky Badger.

Personally, I give kudos to Wisconsin. BYU isn’t as strong of a program as their heyday, but Provo isn’t an easy place to swipe a victory. And this situation isn’t exactly win-win for the Badgers. If the Cougars came into this game with a 3-0, the stakes would be quite better. However, the way things have developed so far, a win for the visitors doesn’t provide a lot of juice. A loss? That would probably slide them way down in the pack of contenders for the national semifinals. It’s a risk that, I believe, more colleges are actually taking (playing true road games against Mid-Majors). In that same vein…

UCLA at Memphis: When was the last time the Bruins made a trip to the Liberty Bowl? The answer (thanks to the UCLA football website) is 1976. This will be the first time that they’ve played in this venue as a true visitor. Last weekend was rather subdued for guys from Westwood. Of course, most any game is hushed after the epic comeback they had against Texas A&M. Josh Rosen put himself back in front of the nation, and hopes to continue that rebound through a Saturday morning kickoff.

We’re not completely sure about the Tigers, yet. They did hold on to beat Louisiana-Monroe two weeks ago. They didn’t play last weekend (game at UCF was cancelled due to Irma). So, they are rested for what could be a huge opportunity. In a division that features Navy, a seemingly improved SMU, and a Houston squad that won at Arizona, there could be a lot of showdowns over the conference run. A win over a storied program with a pro-“stuff” QB would keep them up with the Joneses. Again, I give kudos to the visitors for taking on the matchup. Don’t expect the scoreboard to provide any favors, though.


Clemson at Louisville: Last season, Lamar Jackson came into Week 3 looking to prove that he was worthy of the early accolades. See, rolling up big numbers against Charlotte and a rebuilding Syracuse was one thing. If he could do the same to Florida State, the second-ranked team in the country, then things might get serious. Jackson took the sport by storm after the first two performances of 2016. He had the world in his hands after leading the Cardinals to a 63-20 drubbing of the Seminoles. By the end of December, the sophomore won the most coveted individual prize in the game…the Heisman trophy. Now, less than a year later, he has a shot at even more.

Clemson is the defending national champions. They had to battle to return to the title game. They had to figure out a way to beat mighty Alabama. And, along the way, they had to hold off a game Lamar Jackson. The 42-36 thriller not only kept the Tigers alive in the playoff chase. It, for all intents and purposes, shut off the Cardinals’ path to the same goal. This win made sure that Clemson could slip up once (which they did) and still keep a hold of the lead in the ACC’s Atlantic Division. That meant a berth in the league title game, which led to a spot in the national semifinals, which led to…well, you know the rest.

Getting back to the present, the Louisville quarterback again has the opportunity to show he’s worthy. This time around, it’s not just the Heisman race that’s peaking his interests. If he can knock off a defending champ, while achieving some “get back” in the process, then we may be following him much closer through the Fall.

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Thomas U. Tuttle

Vikings Show Upside

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by Thomas U. Tuttle


Wasn’t that a pleasant surprise we experienced last Monday night in Purple Land?

While I was boarding an airplane bound for Minneapolis that evening, a friend noted that we would arrive at half-time of the Minnesota Vikings season opener, with time to catch the second half at the airport Ike’s, a great spot for the beef sandwich and occasional ballgame.

I declined. I’ve been watching the Twins make their unexpected move toward the playoffs and the Vikes, with a sorry preseason that featured not much of ANYTHING, hardly seemed worth the delay in getting to my front door after the Nephews Wedding Road Trip.

We all know that the preseason doesn’t mean much, and practice game records don’t amount to a hill of beans (remember Detroit’s 2008 4-0 preseason turning into a winless Lions, 0-16 regular season?…  and some of their meaningless wins were impressive, just ask former head coach Rod Marinelli).

But you would like to show SOMETHING in August, besides injuries, unlikely rookies, and washed up offensive lineman. “We’re still evaluating some of these young guys,” coach Mike Zimmer said a few weeks ago, before the Seattle Seahawks and a second tune-up contest.

Yes, that was apparent. And the second year quarterback, short-arm and shorty-pass slingin’ Sammy Bradford, threw a total of seven balls in that game – completing five for his usual small yardage. “We didn’t have nearly as many negative yardage plays…” said Zimmer after Seattle. And that’s the good news? Fewer moves backward?

With the entire defense still trying to find itself (particularly the secondary), the offensive line (hugely problematic in 2016) still a work in progress, things looked pretty questionable for the Purple faithful… and then, POW!, right to the New Orleans Saints chops!

It was a solid win, a great triumph on the Monday Night Football stage and something to build on. And it was, of course, a revealing breakthrough for Sam Bradford. The inaugural NFC Offensive Player of the Week shredded the Saints like jerk chicken, going 27-32 passing for 346 yards with 3 TDs, no interceptions and a unprecedented (for Sam) 143.0 passer rating.

And, of course more importantly, his contributions led to a convincing 29-19 win. Playing behind five new starters on the offensive line and rookie starters at center and running back, Bradford led the Vikings to 470 yards of total offense while converting 9 of 14 3rd-down conversions without a turnover.

Yes, it was “just” New Orleans and no one can be certain how good they are or exactly how much of a test this was. But it is a huge win at home coming out of the gate, critical for this young team. And Slingin’ Sammy stretched the field with his passing while exuding veteran leadership enroute to the victory.

Forget the preseason, the Vikes are now underway with a “W.” Now, about those Twins…

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Vikings’ Bradford stars in 29-19 win

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By Larry Fitzgerald
September 14, 2017


It does not get much better than this for the Vikings. With questions everywhere, the Vikings sent a prime-time message to the rest of the NFL and their fans that they are better.

Quarterback Sam Bradford out-dueled one of the NFL’s all-time greats, Drew Brees, with a sterling performance. Bradford looked like one of the best quarterbacks in the league.

Bradford was 27-32 for 346 yards and three touchdowns in the Vikings’ 29-19 win over the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football, spoiling the return of the Vikings’ all-time leading rusher Adrian Peterson to Minnesota. Peterson was not much of a factor; in fact, he was seldom used. He had only six carries for 18 yards and was not at all happy about the way he was used by Saints Coach Sean Payton.

The Vikings did not miss Peterson. Rookie sensation Dalvin Cook was brilliant, setting a Vikings rookie debut mark with 127 yards rushing on 22 carries. His explosive ability to get outside with a burst reminded us of Peterson.

The Vikings and Saints were locked in a tight battle at U.S. Bank Stadium, Saints up 6-3 late in the second quarter when the Vikings opened up the offense. Bradford suddenly started winging it, throwing the ball down the field to receivers Adam Thielen, with nine catches for 157 yards, and Stefon Diggs showing the fight and spirit with seven catches for 93 yards and two touchdowns.

Bradford and the Vikings, with back-to-back TD passes, both to Diggs, took a 16-6 lead at halftime and never looked back. The Vikings seized control because their defense never let Brees and the Saints offense establish the running game. The Saints were held to just 60 yards rushing, and they committed a couple of unsportsmanlike penalties that helped the Vikings keep drives alive.

Brees threw for 291 yards and one touchdown. The Vikings had 470 yards in total offense, great balance, and the offensive line punched holes in the Saints defense, giving Bradford the time to stay in the pocket and hit his receivers.

The Saints are certainly not the 1985 Chicago Bears on defense. They allowed 454 points last year, but the measuring stick is to pass the test with each opponent. Next for the Vikings are the 1-0 Pittsburgh Steelers, the Vikings’ first road test of the season against a 2016 playoff team listed among the best in the league.

Randy Moss, the ex-Vikings great, was honored by the organization by being inducted into the Vikings Ring of Honor. Moss delivered a spirited and passionate speech about his career, thanking the Vikings and fans and Dennis Green and his teammates. He invited as his guests Marie Green and Patti Green, Coach Green’s widow and daughter, to return to Monday Night Football and share in his Ring of Honor induction.

The NFL has seven owners who gave President Donald Trump $1 million each for his presidential run. I wonder if the Wilf ownership was one of the seven. Protest continued around the NFL over quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s failure to be offered a contract by owners.

Randy Moss is honored in Minneapolis

Randy Moss enters the Minnesota Vikings Ring of Honor -September 11, 2017


Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to, or visit

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Scott Taylor

NFL Picks Week 2

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A New Season for the Fearless Prognosticators

Scott Taylor

“The Coach”

Dr. Football

“Dr. Football”



The Coach and Dr. Football
September 13, 2017
@staylorsports ‏




A suggestion was made by a number of NFL people much smarter than us, that it would not be surprising if this week’s Thursday night game between the Houston Texans and Cincinnati Bengals ended in a 0-0 tie.

In a league that already suffers from a dearth of high-functioning quarterbacks, the Bengals and Texans have issues. Granted Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton should be better, but last week, Dalton and the Bengals were woeful at home against Baltimore. They had 221 net yards of offense and zero points. They were four-for-13 on third down. They had 14 lousy first downs and three of them were by penalty. Dalton threw three INTs and was sacked five times.

Houston will go with Deshaun Watson to start while Tom Savage will back him up. Cincinnati will start Andy Dalton (who was good, once) and will have AJ McCarron to back him up. Last week, Houston lost 29-7 to Jacksonville while Cincinnati lost 20-0 to Baltimore.

If you have faith in veterans, you have to expect Dalton — who was picked three times in the first half last week — will get his act together this week, but there appears to be no hope with the offense in Houston. Like Cleveland, they’ve decided to go with the rookie QB and just ride it out. And, also like Cleveland, they have an offensive line that could get the kid killed.

This game could be truly horrible. In fact, it could be scoreless. But then again, if your fantasy team isn’t loaded with Cincinnati and Houston, if you don’t really care who wins and if you don’t have a wager on the game, why would you want to waste an evening watching 2 ½ hours of TV commercials anyway? And really, that’s all Thursday Night Football (and Sunday and Monday Night Football) really is. It’s 2 ½ hours of commercials wrapped around about an hour of the actual playing of football. And if the playing of football is as inept as we expect this week, you can give up the Ambien. Sleeping will not be an issue for you.

Frankly, we’re at the point with the NFL where the quarterbacking is so generally horrendous (and yeah, sure, there were some fine efforts last week, but certainly not most of them) that these games are often unwatchable. The Bengals (0), Houston (7), Indianapolis (9), San Francisco (3), Seattle (9) and the Giants (3) couldn’t even coax double figures onto the scoreboard. And yes, I’ll say it again – when Brian Hoyer (San Francisco), Tom Savage (Houston), Josh McCown (Jets), out of retirement Jay Cutler (Dolphins) and three rookies are starting in the best league in football, how does Colin Kaepernick not have work? It’s as if these teams are trying to lose on purpose.

Be sure, however, that we aren’t. Your fearless prognosticators got off to a great start and we’re ready to make you more money this week.

Last week Dr. Football went 10-5 straight up and 10-5 against the spread, while the Coach went 12-3 straight up and 9-6 against the spread. This week, they’ll be even better.



Houston Texans (0-1) at Cincinnati Bengals (0-1)
Line: Bengals by 6

Houston didn’t get the emotional lift I thought they would last week; their QB and O-Line issues were exposed. Cincinnati is coming off a rough spot as well, but I think Andy Dalton will get it together after being held scoreless.

Dr. Football: Take the Bengals to win and cover

The Coach: Take the Bengals to win and not cover.


Early Sunday Afternoon

Tennessee Titans (0-1) at Jacksonville Jaguars (1-0)
Line: Titans by 1.5

Jacksonville’s defense was the story last week, and I believe that will be the difference in this won.

Dr. Football: Take the Jaguars in an upset.

The Coach: Take the Jaguars


Cleveland Browns (0-1) at Baltimore Ravens (1-0)
Line: Ravens by 7.5

Baltimore’s defense looked good shutting out the Bengals on the road, which is bad news for Cleveland rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer on the road.

Dr. Football: Take the Ravens to win and cover.

The Coach: Take the Ravens to win and cover.


Buffalo Bills (1-0) at Carolina Panthers (1-0)
Line: Panthers by 7

Buffalo beat up on the Jets last week, but that tells us nothing. Carolina looked good on the road and at home their even better.

Dr. Football: Take the Panthers to win and cover.

The Coach: Take the Panthers to win and cover.


New England Patriots (0-1) at New Orleans Saints (0-1)
Line: Patriots by 6.5

Both teams can score, but you don’t embarrass Tom Brady two weeks in a row. The Saints have a short week, and even being at home won’t stop New England.

Dr. Football: Take the Patriots to win and cover.

The Coach: It’s over. Take the Saints.


Arizona Cardinals (0-1) at Indianapolis Colts (0-1)
Line: Cardinals by 7.

Two road games to start the season is tough, but without Andrew Luck Indy won’t put much of a fight against Arizona even without David Johnson.

Dr. Football: Take the Cardinals to win but not cover.

The Coach: Take the Cardinals to win and cover.


Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) at Kansas City Chiefs (1-0)
Line: Chiefs by 5

Both teams were impressive in Week 1, but Andy Reid relishes beating his old team. The Eagles second consecutive road game won’t yield the same result as in Washington.

Dr. Football: Take the Chiefs to win and cover.

The Coach: Take the Chiefs to win and cover.


Minnesota Vikings (1-0) at Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0)
Line: Steelers by 6

The Vikings offense looked good against the Saints Monday night, but this is a big step up in competition. Pittsburgh’s home opener too, but they did look at times shaky against Cleveland, so this might not be as lopsided as the odds makers think.

Dr. Football: Take the Steelers to win but not cover.

The Coach: Take the Vikings.


Chicago Bears (0-1) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-0)
Line: Buccaneers by 7

Don’t know what the postponement of the Bucs first game will cause, but the Bears won’t put up much of a fight on the road.

Dr. Football: Take the Buccaneers to win and cover.

The Coach: Take the Buccaneers to win and cover.


Late Sunday Afternoon

Miami Dolphins (0-0) at Los Angeles Chargers (0-1)
Line: Chargers by 4.5

Los Angeles lost a close one Monday night to the Broncos. Despite the short week, look for Philip Rivers to play like he did in the in the fourth quarter in Denver.

Dr. Football: Take the Chargers to win and cover.

The Coach: Take the Chargers to win and cover.


New York Jets (0-1) at Oakland Raiders (1-0)
Line: Raiders by 14

The Jets fly west to take on a very motivated and talented Oakland team. Derek Carr will step up, but a 14-point spread is tough.

Dr. Football: Take the Raiders to win but not cover.

The Coach: Take the Raiders to win and cover.


Washington Redskins (0-1) at Los Angeles Rams (1-0)
Line: Rams by 2.5

Washington’s loss of Sean McVay showed in the Redskins offense, which always is added motivation as a coach takes on his former team.

Dr. Football: Take the Rams to win and cover.

The Coach: Take the Rams to win and cover.


Dallas Cowboys (1-0) at Denver Broncos (1-0)
Line: Dallas by 2

Dallas looked good last week on both sides of the ball, but Denver’s defense is tough, and they’ve won the last five times against the Cowboys.

Dr. Football: Take the Broncos in an upset.

The Coach: take the Cowboys to win and cover.


San Francisco 49ers (0-1) at Seattle Seahawks (0-1)
Line: Seahawks by 13.5

The 49ers didn’t do much last week, and travel north to play a very motivated Seattle team in their home opener.

Dr. Football: Take the Seahawks to win and cover.

The Coach: Take the Seahawks to win and cover.


Sunday Night

Green Bay Packers (1-0) at Atlanta Falcons (1-0)

Line: Falcons by 3

Last year’s NFC Championship rematch will yield the same result; although Green Bay’s defense is a lot better than last year. Atlanta’s offense will still find a way.

Dr. Football: Take the Falcons to win and cover.

The Coach: Take the Falcons to win and cover.


Monday Night

Detroit Lions (1-0) at New York Giants (0-1)
Line: Giants by 3.5

The Giants offense struggled last week, but their defense will win this one against the overpaid Matt Stafford.

Dr. Football: Take the Giants to win and cover.

The Coach: take the Lions.

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Eric Nelson

SPORTS NUGGETS: The Minnesota Vikings opening act was an impressive one

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By Eric Nelson
September 12, 2017


MINNEAPOLIS – Sports Nuggets from the Purple Nation...

•Fast Start: The Minnesota Vikings made quite a splash in their NFL opener on 9/11 against the New Orleans Saints. The Purple’s offensive line was solid, the running game productive, the aerial attack sensational and the defense was lights out. The result was a 29-19 Vikings win as they sparkled under the Monday Night Football spotlight…

•Dalvin’s Debut: In the much-hyped showdown between Dalvin Cook and Adrian Peterson, Cook was the superior running back. The Minnesota rookie gained 127 yards on the ground and caught three passes for 10 yards. Meanwhile, AP had just 18 yards on six carries and was rarely used by Saints HC Sean Payton. One of the greatest Vikings ever, became a bit player in his return to the Twin Cities…

•Different Roles: One game is a small sample size, but it appears that Cook is Minnesota’s go-to back, while AP will get limited touches with New Orleans. That’s exactly why the Vikings cut the cord with their all-time leading ground gainer and turned the page. The Purple believe AP’s days as a stallion runner are in the rear view mirror…

•Sam Shines: Minnesota QB Sam Bradford out-dueled New Orleans gunslinger Drew Brees. Bradford threw for 346 yards and three touchdowns, while Brees was limited to 291 yards and a cosmetic TD toss late in the game. It was an impressive win for Minnesota before a charged up crowd of 66,606 at the Glass House…

•Trench Success: The Vikings offensive line deserves plenty of credit too. The Purple People Protectors kept Bradford upright most of the game – allowing just one sack and providing Cook with daylight and running lanes. Good stuff for a unit that has been banged on like a pinata by fans and media…

•Dominant D: Minnesota’s defense bottled up the Saints most of the night and was very stingy in the red zone. Brees – who will someday be in the HOF – never looked comfortable…

•Randy Ratio: At halftime the Vikings inducted WR Randy Moss into their Ring of Honor. Moss is one of the most electrifying players in Minnesota history and received loud cheers from the fans…

•Throwback Games: Today’s NFL has morphed into video game football. Cartoon-like scores are now common as the shield has tried to phase out defense. But, if week 1 is any indication, low-scoring games could be vogue again. Check out these results: Green Bay 17, Seattle 9. Dallas 19, NY Giants 3. Jacksonville 29, Houston 7. Baltimore 20, Cincinnati 0. Buffalo 21, NY Jets, 12. Carolina 23, San Francisco 3. Pittsburgh 21, Cleveland 18…

•Trending Up: Oklahoma and USC were the big winners in college football last week. The Sooners are now ranked second in the AP Top 25 and third in the coaches poll after their 31-16 thumping of Ohio State in Columbus. The Trojans moved up to fourth in both rankings after crushing Stanford, 42-24 at the LA Coliseum…

•Sports-Centric: Fans in the Twin Cities have plenty of options this week. Washington and Minnesota play in the WNBA semifinals on Tuesday and Thursday at The Barn. The Twins pursuit of an AL wild card spot continues as they host San Diego and Toronto Tuesday through Sunday. On Saturday it’s Middle Tennessee against the U of M in NCAA football action at TCF Bank Stadium…

•A Tale of Two Teams: The sizzling Cleveland Indians have won 19 straight MLB games. To put that in perspective the NFL Browns have won a grand total of 20 games since 2012…

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Scott Taylor

Vikings Win

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Scott Taylor

Peterson Looks Lost as Vikings Ravage Saints

By Scott Taylor

September 12, 2017
@staylorsports ‏

Adrian Peterson looked lost. In fact, as the game between the Minnesota Vikings and Peterson’s New Orleans Saints (it feels weird just to write that) dragged on through 2 ½ hours of TV commercials, he seemed even more bewildered.

He had returned to downtown Minneapolis to be a hero. He was there to visit old friends and show Saints coach Sean Payton and his staff that he was more like the 2012 Adrian Peterson than the injured, tired 2016 Adrian Peterson.

And on his first carry, he looked pretty good. He gained four yards and made a nice move at the line of scrimmage to avoid a tackler. But that was about it. From that point on, he was exactly what Coach Payton told him he was going to be – a bit-part player on rebuilding team that already had two decent runningbacks, Mark Ingram and rookie Alvin Kamara and was going to rely on a passing game with Drew Brees at the helm anyway.

So when the Minnesota Vikings finished with an impressive 29-19 win over Brees and the Saints, the numbers told a sad story. Peterson finished with six carries for 18 yards, didn’t catch a pass and played on only nine snaps. According to the NFL statistics folks, that’s the lowest of his career. I’d be surprised if Peterson finishes the season.

All he had left for the effort was a loss and about a dozen stink-eyes that he sent laser-like directly at his head coach during the game. He obviously doesn’t like to be a bench-warmer.

Look, to be fair, it’s not that Peterson is done, necessarily, but he’s certainly done in New Orleans — unless three or four other guys get hurt. He got to start Monday Night’s game and then even carried on the first play, but after that, if the TV cameras hadn’t been interested in him, we would likely have never noticed that he didn’t play much. He was a footnote in the end and the real story was on the other side of the ball.

The real story was Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford and the fact he completed 27-of-32 pass attempts for 346 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. The real story was Adam Thielen, the undrafted receiver from Minnesota State who caught nine passes for 157 yards. The real story was Stefon Diggs who caught seven passes for 93 yards and two touchdowns – the second was a highlight-reel catch that we’ll be watching on NFL Network for a while.

And the real, real story was Dalvin Cook, the second round draft pick in 2017 out of Florida State. He was taken in the draft by the Vikings to replace Peterson and on Monday night, he announced his arrival with authority. He finished with 22 carries for 127 yards and his last run of the night was a 33-yarder around the right side that sealed the victory.

With 127 yards, he broke Peterson’s Vikings record of 107 yards by a rookie in his first game with Minnesota, set back in 2007.

And that’s a very important number – 2007.

Time catches up to all of us. On Monday night, it caught up to the great Adrian Peterson. After 10-plus years as a runningback in the NFL he’s had a Hall of Fame career. But he hasn’t been a Hall of Fame RB since 2014. He’s been injured, banged on the head, run over by 300-pound linemen and, of course, had his troubles off the field.

It’s kind of too bad he came back – to all the boos – in a Saints uniform on Monday night. He probably should have called it a career after the 2015 season (but, of course, it’s damn hard to leave all that money on the table) and the Vikings should have probably been looking for their next Adrian Peterson after the 2013 season.

But here we are.

The Vikings were great in their opener, Dalvin Cook looks like a keeper and with a re-vamped offensive line, Sam Bradford looks like the quarterback that the St. Louis Rams believed he could be, three teams ago, back in 2010.

Fact is, if Bradford gets time to throw this season, the Vikings will be a contender. If he doesn’t, we all know what happens. Unless, of course, Dalvin Cook actually turns out to be the next Adrian Peterson.

Then it could really get exciting.


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