Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think the Minnesota Vikings, should they struggle at quarterback, will call Brett Favre. It's a pretty strong feeling, based on knowing the people involved and based on the desperation of the Vikings to do more than win a division this year.
But I'll also say this: It's also quite possible, should the Williams boys not be suspended for testing positive in the Starcaps case, that the Vikings could start very strong, and either Sage Rosenfels or Tarvaris Jackson could solidify his grip on the job and the team will decided it's fine at quarterback. (First five Viking games: at Cleveland, at Detroit, San Francisco, Green Bay, at St. Louis.)
Wouldn't you agree Minnesota could be 4-1 or 5-0, even with mediocre quarterback play? Now, the happiest man in the NFL this morning has to be Brad Childress -- unless it's Rosenfels. The first two series Rosenfels quarterbacked for the Vikings, he went 10 of 13 and drove the Vikings 72 yards to a touchdown and then 75 yards to a field goal. Again, the call to Favre won't be made if Rosenfels (or Jackson) plays to a B level. If not ...
2. I think, speaking of how much I like the Vikes, and not to underplay how well the Packers looked over the weekend, I still like the Bears a whisker better, especially after seeing Jay Cutler throw the ball Thursday and Brian Urlacher looking like the '06 Urlacher after a strong strength-and-conditioning offseason. It's a shame that we have to wait 'til Nov. 29 to see a Chicago-Minnesota game. "We play some incredible games,'' Urlacher told me.
Baltimore-Pittsburgh's the best rivalry game in football right now, followed by New England-Indianapolis. But Minnesota-Chicago ... Check out what they've done over the last 10 years:
The series is tied 10-10.
Each team is 7-3 at home against the other.
Twelve of those 20 games have been decided by a touchdown or less.
Minnesota has outscored the Bears by 28 points in the 20 meetings, so the Vikes are an average of 1.3 points per game better.
With the exception maybe of Daunte Culpepper, neither team has fielded a top quarterback in the last 10 years. That's why a potential Cutler-Favre matchup on Nov. 29 or Dec. 28 is so appealing.
3. I think if you gave Vick sodium pentathol, he would say one of the things he regrets in a strictly football sense about the two-year gap in his career is that he never got to play in Bobby Petrino's offense. He thinks he'd have been a perfect match with Petrino, and he has told friends he thought they could have won a Super Bowl together.
4. I think we found out everything we needed to know about Josh McDaniels' Denver offense Friday night. We knew it already, really. If Kyle Orton's not efficient, the Broncos could go 3-13. Orton dropped back to pass 16 times in four series, and no throw traveled more than 15 yards past the line of scrimmage. He moved the ball well. All he did wrong was throw interceptions to end his first three drives. That's like saying all the Brink's truck driver did wrong was pick up a million-dollar shipment and get the truck safely to the depot -- except he arrived without the money.
Orton had but 27 interceptions in 913 career throws in his first three seasons. In 16 throws against the Niners, he threw three. I'm sure Denver fans are panicky, as they should be, after watching the first post-Cutler start. There's nothing I can say to ease your worries -- except that this is uncharacteristic for Orton, and one half in a preseason opener shouldn't convince you the guy's a bum.
5. I think one of the good things about preseason football (and there aren't many) is watching the maturation of the top rookies. The education of Aaron Curry was in progress Saturday night at Qualcomm in his first game at outside linebacker for the Seahawks. My observation: You can tell he's still swimming, trying to be in the right place at the right time.
Lined up at right end late in the first quarter, he dropped in a fire-zone coverage toward middle linebacker, patrolling for a crossing receiver. Here came Chargers wideout Legedu Naanee, running a shallow cross, and Curry was caught getting back to his zone, and by the time he shifted to catch up with Naanee, Philip Rivers' pass was in Naanee's gut and he went zooming past Curry and up the left side. Gain of 14. It's a cliché, but I found it true watching him: Rookies can't be great until they play the reaction game, not the thinking game.
6. I think I'm setting the over/under on Sal Paolantonio's days spent reporting from Eagle headquarters or Eagle games this season, and I'm doing it right now. There are 139 days between today and the end of the regular season. Over/under: 140.
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