Posts pertaining to the National Football League.

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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Eric Nelson

SPORTS NUGGETS: NFL predictions from my crystal football

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By Eric Nelson
September 7, 2017


MINNEAPOLIS -Sports Nuggets from the Land of Lakes...

•Shield Predictions: I have looked into my crystal football and see these 10 things happening in the 2017 NFL season:

  1. – After exhaustive research of birth records in his hometown of San Mateo, CA, the US Census Bureau announces that New England Patriots QB Tom Brady is 30, not 40. Brady’s freakish ability to defy age fostered the research…
  2. – Brady and Patriots owner Robert Kraft immediately dispute the USCB’s report and hint that it is part of a smear campaign led by Commissioner/dictator Roger Goodell
  3. – The intense dislike between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh reaches new heights in their two games. Bengals-Steelers becomes so acrimonious that Floyd Mayweather and Connor McGregor speak out against the carnage…
  4. – The Minnesota Vikings – desperate for quality offensive lineman – coax HOF legends Randall McDaniel and Ron Yary out of retirement…
  5. – Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones begs, pleads and even tries bribery to get Ezekiel Elliott’s six-game suspension reduced. But, Goodell doesn’t budge and Zeke sits…
  6. – The Alt Right adopts the Washington Redskins as their favorite team and applauds the franchise for keeping the controversial nickname, but does a quick 180 and disavows any ties to the Redskins after they sign QB Colin Kaepernick
  7. – Miami’s Jay Cutler finds football bliss in South Florida and leads the Dolphins (who have the coolest uniforms in the NFL) to the playoffs…
  8. – The Chargers barely move the meter in Los Angeles and wind up getting less attention than Crenshaw High’s football team. As a result, LA begs San Diego to take back the Chargers and the Clippers…
  9. Randy Newman’s 1983 hit song, I Love LA is banned from the radio airwaves in St. Louis and San Diego…
  10. – Seattle’s Blair Walsh kicks a walk-off winning field goal against New England in overtime as the Seahawks wins Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis 24-21…


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Will this be a Vikings Super Bowl season?

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By Larry Fitzgerald
September 5, 2017


The preliminaries are over. The rosters have been trimmed to 53 players, and all indications are that the 2017 Vikings are good but not good enough. The worst running team in football last year has Sam Bradford at quarterback.

Bradford has a career-losing record as a starter. He’s never won a playoff game. You find me a QB with a career-losing record as a starter who won the Super Bowl.

“I think the pressure is on Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur,” said former NFL running back Marshall Faulk. “I look for an offensive team to establish an identity. For 10 years their identity was Adrian Peterson. It’s his show. Shurmur advocated for Bradford. He had him in St. Louis, Philadelphia, and now Minnesota.”

Florida State rookie running back Dalvin Cook will start at running back. He has looked great. Latavius Murray, the Pro-Bowler from Oakland, has not. He has to come through big with his talent and experience. The offensive line is better.

In recent years, history tells us teams with Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks win the big games. Last year Tom Brady was suspended the first four games. No problem — New England still won the Super Bowl for the fifth time, 34-28, with the mother of all rallies after trailing by 25 points.

Mike Zimmer’s defense is loaded. He has five Pro Bowlers! The team invested over $100 million in guaranteed money, a franchise record, in three of the Pro Bowlers. Can you say the heat is on?

Last year the NFL lost 10 percent of its following audience. It was an election year. This year, quarterback Colin Kaepernick was not hired by any NFL team. No job the first week of September, all because he protested cops getting away with killing innocent Black men. The team owners have spoken: We don’t care about talent, we want no part in protest directed at the national anthem on NFL Sundays.

Playing and singing the national anthem at sporting events did not start until 1918, 17 months after the United States was in the war to end all wars. Over 100,000 Americans were killed in action. Chicago Cubs vs. Boston Red Sox were in the World Series. Ball players and others had to fight to defend their country.

Francis Key’s lyric “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” better known as the national anthem, was written after the bloody attack by the British in the war of 1812. Patriotism and tradition came together to rally Americans in unity hip to hip.

Several players continue to protest today. Marshon Lynch of Oakland has been protesting for years and nobody noticed. Eric Reid of San Francisco as well. Kaepernick has his supporters. Some will be protesting against the NFL this season, like Spike Lee, several New York police officers, and the great Henry Aaron, who can’t believe the NFL is denying him the opportunity and a job.

Kaepernick made a business decision to leave San Francisco. He bought out his remaining contract, becoming a free agent. Had he not bought out his contract, it’s conceivable he would still be with the 49ers. Once he was not under contract anymore, the politics of the NFL owners have spoken loud and clear.

For what it’s worth, this is my 39th season covering the NFL and the Vikings. Here’s what I think will happen:

NFC North
1) Green Bay, 2) Vikings, 3) Detroit, 4) Chicago
NFC West
1) Arizona, 2) Seattle, 3) San Francisco, 4) Los Angeles
NFC South
1) Atlanta, 2) Tampa Bay, 3) New Orleans, 4) Carolina
NFC East
1) New York Giants, 2) Dallas, 3) Philadelphia, 4) Washington
AFC East
1) New England, 2) Miami, 3) Buffalo, 4) New York Jets
AFC South
1) Houston, 2) Tennessee, 3) Jacksonville, 4) Indianapolis
AFC West
1) Kansas City, 2) Oakland, 3) Denver, 4) San Diego
AFC North
1) Pittsburgh, 2) Baltimore, 3) Cincinnati, 4) Cleveland


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 1

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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 5, 2017
@staylorsports ‏


Another National Football League season is upon us and as we get set for the big slam-bang opening spectacular on Thursday night, there are a few things that have us confused (which, of course, isn’t saying much):


  1. Colin Kaepernick does not have a job but Josh McCown (Jets), Mike Glennon (Bears) and Nathan Peterman (Bills) all do. And they will all start the season opener.
  2. What is it with NFL runningbacks? From Ray Rice to Adrian Peterson to Ezekiel Elliott, there just seems to be something off. Could it be CTE? Just asking for a friend.
  3. The Minnesota Vikings are one Sam Bradford injury away from Case Keenum.
  4. Is DeShone Kizer the answer in Cleveland? We’re certainly rooting for him, but…
  5. Will, the Browns (1-15-0), Bears (3-13-0) Jags (3-13-0), Chargers (5-11-0), Rams (4-12-0), Jets (5-11-0) and 49ers (2-14-0) ever be competitive teams again? There is no sense, at the start of this or seemingly any season, that these teams are ever going to get better.

The 2017 season shapes up as a showdown in the AFC between Pittsburgh and New England and a showdown in the NFC with, well, the team of the week. Will Dallas be as good as 13-3-0 again? Is Atlanta really a 11-5-0 team and is Carolina really a 6-10-0 team? Is Seattle that much better than everybody else in the West? Is Detroit a Wild Card hope? Are the Giants getting better or worse?

The AFC seems pretty easy to handicap. The NFC is a crapshoot. At least, that’s how it looks after more than a month of pre-season practice scrimmages and a group of teams that actually lost intra-squad games.

Last year, The Coach and Dr. Football were pretty good. The Good Doctor was 174-93 straight up and 142-125 against the spread. The Coach finished 177-90 straight up and 141-126 against the spread. Those were both money-making finishes.

This year, if we can answer all the pressing questions, we should have another winning season. However, the fact that it’s called gambling, not “sure thing,” always makes for some interesting arguments.

It’s time to look at a complete crapshoot – Week 1 in the National Football League:



Kansas City Chiefs (0-0) at New England Patriots (0-0)
Line: Patriots by 9

Last year the Patriots started the season without Tom Brady and they still won the Super Bowl…how good will they be with him in control all season?
The loss of Julian Edelman will hurt, and that factor alone will slow down New England, but you just get the sense that Brady will figure it out.

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

The Coach: Take the Patriots to win and cover.


Early Sunday

New York Jets (0-0) at Buffalo Bills (0-0)
Line: Bills by 9 says the Jets will challenge the franchise record for the fewest points in a season…and it’s hard to disagree. LeSean McCoy will run wild on the Jets too.

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

The Coach: Take the Bills to win but not cover.


Atlanta Falcons (0-0) at Chicago Bears (0-0)
Line: Falcons by 7

The defending NFC champions will rid their Super Bowl hangover with a huge road victory against the once again rebuilding Bears.

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

The Coach: Take the Falcons to win and cover.


Jacksonville Jaguars (0-0) at Houston Texans (0-0)
Line: Texans by 6

J.J. Watt’s inspirational acts in the past few weeks have a funny way of propelling a man on the field…and with the fact that the Jaguars haven’t addressed their O-Line problems, expect J.J. to play like the Pro Bowler he is.

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

The Coach: Take the Texans to win and cover.


Philadelphia Eagles (0-0) at Washington Redskins (0-0)
Line: Pick

Expect both teams to be greatly improved this year, especially Carson Wentz. Watch him emerge as the dominant leader that the club expected when they drafted him.

Dr. Football: Take the Eagles to win.

The Coach: Take the Washingtons because they’re at home.


Arizona Cardinals (0-0) at Detroit Lions (0-0)
Line: Cardinals by 1.5

Matt Stafford is the highest played player in the NFL? Puhleeze. Arizona’s David Johnson will be the best player on the field in this one.

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

The Coach: Take the Lions.


Oakland Raiders (0-0) at Tennessee Titans (0-0)
Line: Titans by 2

Expect the soon to be uprooted Raiders to win the AFC West, and to shake the stigma of not showing up for 1 p.m. road games.

Dr. Football: Take the Raiders in an upset.

The Coach: Take the Raiders.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-0) at Miami Dolphins (0-0)

Rescheduled: Week 11 …Due to Hurricane Irma…
Line: Dolphins by 3

Expect Jay Cutler to be hot out of the gate before returning to his not-that- impressive self. Tampa Bay will win the NFC South, but will struggle in this one.

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

The Coach: Take the Dolphins to cover and hold your nose.


Baltimore Ravens (0-0) at Cincinnati Bengals (0-0)
Line: No Line

Flacco or no Flacco, the Raven defense will win this one.

Dr. Football: Take the Ravens to win.

The Coach: Take the Ravens.


Pittsburgh Steelers (0-0) at Cleveland Browns (0-0)
Line: Steelers by 9

I would think a nine-point spread is just being polite. I expect Pittsburgh to beat these clowns by 21.

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

The Coach: Take the Steelers to win and cover.


Late Sunday

Indianapolis Colts (0-0) at Los Angeles Rams (0-0)
Line: Rams by 3

The wheels came off the Colts bus last year, and I don’t believe they fixed the ol’ clunker. The Colts are rebuilding, and with Andrew Luck unable to start, expect the Rams to run away with this one.

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

The Coach: Yikes, I’m taking the Rams to cover.


Seattle Seahawks (0-0) at Green Bay Packers (0-0)
Line: Packers by 3

Lambeau Field is a tough place to start a season, but the aging Packers won’t put up much of a fight against a focused and motivated Russell Wilson.

Dr. Football: Take the Seahawks in an upset.

The Coach: Take the Packers to win and cover.


Carolina Panthers (0-0) at San Francisco 49ers (0-0)
Line: Panthers by 6

The 49ers expect to be much improved this season, but they won’t hit their stride for a while. Carolina has too many weapons.

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

The Coach: Take the Panthers to win and cover.


Sunday Night

New York Giants (0-0) at Dallas Cowboys (0-0)
Line: Cowboys by 3.5

Even without Ezekiel Elliot, the Cowboys have too many other weapons that will penetrate the Giants excellent defense.

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

The Coach: Take the Cowboys to win and cover.


Monday Night

New Orleans Saints (0-0) at Minnesota Vikings (0-0)
Line: Vikings by 3.5

Minnesota has a history of having players they cast aside come back to bite them, and this game will be no exception. Adrian Peterson is out for revenge, and he’ll get it.

Dr. Football: Take the Saints in an upset.

The Coach: Take the Vikings to win and cover.


Los Angeles Chargers (0-0) at Denver Broncos (0-0)
Line: Broncos by 3.5

Sure the Chargers will take a while to get used to their new temporary home, but the fact is they will be the same team on the road, which happens to not be very good in Denver.

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

The Coach: Take the Broncos to win and cover.

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Vikings: How good will they be?

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By Larry Fitzgerald
August 25, 2017


So much is riding on this 2017 Vikings season it makes you nervous even thinking about it. Playing the Seattle Seahawks in the pre-season last week was a measuring stick game. You know how good and consistent Seattle is, and how well-coached they are, and they seldom lose at home.

Seattle 20, Vikings 13 — not exactly what Vikings fans wanted. I was honestly surprised how successful they were running. It was a defensive game. I thought the Seahawks were better: they were more physical and ran the ball when and where they wanted to consistently.

I am disappointed right now in running back Latavius Murray. He was signed as a free agent from Oakland and can’t get on the field. If he doesn’t play this week against San Francisco that is a bad sign.

Rookie Dalvin Cook has been impressive but he is so young with much to learn. Last year, as we know, the Vikings could not run the football at all when Adrian Peterson got hurt. Now he’s gone and you don’t win in this league unless you can consistently run the ball.

Sam Bradford looks good at quarterback, throwing to Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, and Kyle Rudolph. But his career win-loss record in St. Louis and Philadelphia concerns me and that is hard to ignore. I do like tight end Bucky Hodges, however; he a keeper.

With three weeks before the opener, the Vikings have time to get better. The NFL is a dictator league, so you have to force your will on your opponent. The players and coaches are all good, so good that they are able to figure out your game plan and your scheme.

Since 2001, the Vikings have been in the playoffs just five times, with just one playoff victory in 2009.

When you have the Super Bowl in your home stadium, you really hope your team can be good. My expectations are for this team to blow the roof off U.S Bank Stadium.

How realistic is that coming off of an 8-8 season? I’ll keep drinking the purple Kool-Aid because they do have a solid foundation with lots of talent on defense and special teams.

But the early signs bug me. I have concerns over talented Michael Floyd’s suspension for four games. Murray has done nothing yet, as I mentioned. They gave this guy $15 million to watch? And Laquon Treadwell, last year’s number one pick, is still a big question mark.

The offensive line is better, but can they jell and become a solid versatile group?

No reason to be alarmed just yet — the Vikings lost on the road to a good football team that made the playoffs. But there are legit reasons to share with you my concerns.


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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After 52 Years in Mankato, that’s all, folks!

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By Larry Fitzgerald
August 10, 2017


MANKATO — August 8, 2017 marks the official end of an era when, after 52 years, the NFL Minnesota Vikings left Mankato State University and the city of Mankato for the very last time. After all these years, the Vikings will move to their new permanent office and training headquarters in Eagan, Minnesota in March of 2018.

All 32 NFL teams are in their second weeks of training camp, the rosters loaded with 90 players each fighting to make dreams come true. Last week I was in Canton, Ohio for the NFL’s Hall of Fame game. Dallas edged Arizona 20-18.

Last year’s HOF game was canceled because of poor field conditions. Many changes have been made to Tom Benson Stadium just off highway 77 in Canton. This year’s 2017 HOF Class featured Morten Anderson, Terrell Davis, Kenny Easley, Jerry Jones, Jason Taylor, LaDainian Tomlinson and Kurt Warner.

The Vikings pre-season starts Thursday night in Buffalo vs. the Bills. After carefully watching the Vikings working hard in Mankato, I am reminded how time just keeps moving on. When I started covering sports in the Twin Cities 39 years ago, little did I know I was the first Black sportswriter to cover the Vikings full time.

The Vikings had a private ceremony Monday thanking the city of Mankato and Mankato State University. Vikings ownership was there, team President Mark Wilf with team COO Kevin Warren as master of ceremonies, as well as the president of Mankato State and the city’s mayor.

The University’s president thanked the Vikings for helping Mankato State become the second-largest university in the state. He had the gathered group laughing when he said Mankato State might open an Eagan Campus.

HOF coach Bud Grant was there and shocked me by coming up from behind and emotionally hugging me. I remember covering coach Grant’s Vikings and how serious and stoic he was. I was so determined back then to not be denied. Coach Grant was always good to me — that’s why after all these years the Vikings are like family to me.

There have been hundreds of ball boys and staff employees over these 52 years at Mankato. Only a couple, however, have gone on to star in the National Football League. The late Dennis Green made that a reality for me; he gave my two sons Marcus and Larry, Jr. their first jobs. I hosted and produced the “Dennis Green Radio Show” for eight years.

I will never forget the hot August day that my son Marcus called me at 4 am to tell me Korey Stringer had died of heat exhaustion. I was in shock literally and jumped in my car and drove to Mankato. I never thought to check my fuel gage. I was just emotionally lost.

My car ran out of gas on highway 169 near St. Peter. Former Vikings star Joe Sensor stopped and helped me get gas after being stranded on the road. That would ultimately be the last season for coach Green. In 2001 the team could not overcome the death of Stringer.

The 2017 Vikings look good to me with Super Bowl 52 coming up in February of 2018. I believe this team is ready for the challenge in this final season of Vikings football in Mankato and the chance to win Super Bowl 52 at home in U.S. Bank Stadium.

Do you believe it’s finally time for the Vikings?

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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