1. Are you concerned about QB Sam Bradford’s knee injury moving forward or do you think it is just some swelling and a 1 week absence?
Nate Leer: I think the injury is concerning. If Case Keenum has to play for any considerable stretch, he will be exposed as the limited player that he is. While the Vikes D and rookie RB Dalvin Cook can win a few games but the team will need an effective passing game to make any real noise this season. Bradford’s injury sounds like it could be a chronic issue. If so, it may require surgery or even be something that limits his career. Obviously a significant surgery would mean missing all or a lot of the season. Hopefully Bradford’s knee will improve with rest but it seemed to go the opposite way last week so this could turn ugly quick.
Kras: I think it is an injury that is of concern. The 2 big reasons it is concerning: it is Sam Bradford, the STARTING QB, and it is the knee he has had repaired twice already. I am hopeful that this is just a brief issue for Sam and he will be fine moving forward. With that said, the O-line is far from perfect and if Sam becomes any less mobile it can only lead to disaster for both Sam and the Vikes as a whole. As Nate Leer points out, Case Keenum is not a long term solution. Without Bradford it will be a long season for the Purple.
2. What was the silver lining of the Vikings defeat at the hands of the Steelers. If there was one?
Nate Leer: I think the overall play of the team was actually promising, if they can get Bradford back. Keenum missed receivers in key moments and the general lack of passing 1st downs also overexposed the D. If the team continues to play this well overall and Bradford gets healthy, I think they can give the Pack and Lions a run for the division.
Kras: I think it was Dalvin Cook again this week. I think it is becoming very clear that he is the Vikes playmaker and with looming injury concerns to QB Sam Bradford the rookie will likely be leaned upon even more moving forward. Cook, against the Steelers once again showed great short area quickness and explosiveness getting to the edge and breaking free. The way it is trending there will not be many silver linings for the Vikes this season other than Cook. On that note, it’s still early and that alone is a silver lining.
3. With the Golden Gophers improving to 3-0, what is the best record you think they can end the season with?
Kras: The Gophers have played solid football to get to 3-0 but I think we can all agree that they have not been tested by a quality opponent, yet. The Gophers are going into a bye this week before returning home to face Maryland. Looking at the Gophers schedule, I feel it is fairly favorable until they play Iowa on October 28th. At that point they will also have Michigan, Nebraska, Northwestern, and Wisconsin left. I think they can compete with Northwestern and Nebraska, potentially winning one of those games. Iowa, Michigan, and Wisconsin I feel will be losses. 2 of those 3 games are on the road with Wisconsin playing at Minnesota the last week of the season. They will likely be competing for a BIG 10 Title while the Gophers fight to get to 9 wins. I think the schedule will allow for roughly 8 wins for this club which I think is pretty respectable given the new head coach and no known starting QB as of 2 weeks ago.
Nate Leer: Yeah, Kras pretty much nails it. I will say 7 wins because the Gophers usually find a way to lose winnable games like they almost did in the first game this year. Kras is correct also that an 8 or even 7 win season is a good start for a new regime. Although that is fewer wins than last year, there was transition from the top down so a record better than .500 is acceptable.
1. Which week 2 injury will have the most impact moving forward TE Greg Olsen or LT Garett Bolles?
Nate Leer: These 2 teams are less than 18 months removed from playing in the Super Bowl and both had high aspirations for this season. Denver seems to have an elite D again so they just need solid play from their O to be highly competitive. However, they drafted Bolles to plug their biggest hole on O and his loss hurts bad. Olsen going down definitely hurts the Panthers as well as he is their top target. That said, they have invested in other pass catchers in the last few drafts. Therefore, I think the Bolles injury hurts Denver more than the Olsen injury hurts Carolina.
Kras: Both will have an impact on their respective teams but I believe the injury to Garett Bolles is more significant. The Panthers have other weapons that they can throw the ball to and drum up some success. Bolles is the starting LT in a league filled with elite pass rushers coming off the edge on every play. If Bolles injury is closer to a bone bruise than a high ankle sprain I think there is less cause for concern. The real question will be if he will have the mobility required to get a good first step and put himself in position to help keep QB Trevor Siemian upright and breathing. I believe the absence of Bolles will also show up in the run game and will make things tougher for C.J. Anderson.
2. After week 2, have the Patriots and and Falcons reestablished themselves as top contenders? If not, who do you feel are the conference’s top teams?
Kras: It’s tough to get much out of any week 1 game seeing how most teams are putting some starters out for the first time. I think it takes a couple weeks for a team to get on the same page. With that said, the Pats beat what looks to be a very mortal Saints team, while the Falcons got right at home against a deserving opponent in the Packers. I think both the Pats and Falcons are the teams to beat in their respective conference. The Pats can get off to a slow start and not worry people, they have the equity. As far as the Falcons go, there doesn’t seem to be a strong contender in the NFC to challenge them. Maybe Detroit this week will present a problem for the Falcons but I will need to see it to believe it.
Nate Leer: It’s tough to predict a rematch so one or both of these teams will not reach the Super Bowl. I think the Pats reestablished themselves as the best team on paper but they have stiff competition out west in the AFC. I like the Pack over Atlanta in the NFC but they haven’t looked great either. If the Falcons crush the Detroit City Kitties dreams, it will be a step in the right direction. However, if they struggle or lose, it will be another indication that they are not that good.
3. Has Corey Kluber taken over as the favorite to win the A.L. Cy Young Award or do you think Chris Sale is still worthy of the vote?
Kras: I would give my vote to Corey Kluber. Kluber has been the better pitcher the second half of the season. I also think that for their numbers to be as comparable as they are, knowing Kluber spent some time on the DL earlier this year, is impressive. I don’t think Kluber will catch Sale in strikeouts but he could end up with more wins, better ERA, and WHIP. Kluber could make a run at number of innings pitched and if he did that, I think he would lock it up. Whoever wins, it’s been fun watching these guys pitch so well throughout the season.
Nate Leer: I still favor Sale although this is shaping up as one of the better debates for the award in recent years. A quick comparison below shows Sale leading in a couple of major counting statistics and Kluber leading in percentage stats. However, I think one important differentiation is their individual innings. Sale has essentially 3 more starts worth of innings due to Kluber missing time. That means more than just the additional counting stats. It means he has helped his team win more games. Hopefully we get to see these 2 square off in the playoffs.