1. If Sam Bradford’s health does not improve significantly by next week, should Case Keenum be the starting QB or should Bradford be given another shot?
Kras: This is the ultimate question the Vikes face moving forward and I, for one, believe they should get serious about making Keenum the starter. If Bradford is going to miss 3 or more games the rest of the season, I think Keenum needs to be the starter to provide some stability to arguably the most important position in sports. Bradford was damaged goods when the Vikes got him and the 1st round pick they gave up to get him looks worse and worse every day. Unfortunately for Bradford, his knee is going to continue to be an ongoing problem. It is hard to believe at this point that Sam will be around for the long haul. With that said, I believe they should make Keenum the guy and hope Teddy Bridgewater can come back and make an impact yet this season. It’s a bad situation and I don’t see it getting much better anytime soon.
Nate Leer: If Sam wants to give it a try and his knee feels the same as or at all better than last week, I would run him out against Green Bay. Sam is clearly a more talented passer than Keenum and the Vikes will need every bit of talent they can get on the field against the Pack. There also would seem to be an advantage to starting with the better downfield passer in Bradford and then shifting to the more elusive abilities of Keenum if Bradford struggles. I thought it helped against the Bears to shift from Bradford to Keenum and the Packers D really isn’t much better. Bradford is playing for his next contract so it is in his best interest to get on the field as long as there is no risk of making the injury worse. Sitting on the sideline “getting better” does nothing to help him but showing his toughness should help him get his next contract whether that is with the Vikes or some other team.
2. Do you consider the Lynx a dynasty and where do they rank among the best dynasties in sports? Top 10? Top 5?
Nate Leer: The Lynx certainly are a dynasty. They have finished first or second in the WNBA 6 of the last 7 years with 4 titles. That definitely qualifies. Relative to their league, the Lynx’s dominance is really only rivaled currently by the Patriots and maybe ‘Bama football. The combination of an elite collection of talent, players and coaches, and the obvious winning make this a true dynasty. Let’s hope it continues!
Kras: I would have to agree with Nate Leer on this. In recent memory the Patriots and the Crimson Tide come to mind and the Lynx certainly rank right up there with those 2 powerhouse teams. Not only is it impressive that the Lynx have won 4 titles in the last 7 years but it is also how they have done it. Cheryl Reeve is an incredible coach who is second to none when it comes to knowing how to win. I don’t know how one would go about quantifying the top 5 dynasties of all time but I am sure that the Minnesota Lynx are 1 of those teams.
3. What is your outlook for the Timberwolves this season and do you see them ending up making the playoffs?
Nate Leer: I think they will be a playoff team but I don’t expect them to be a high seed or win a series. This team may have as much upside talent as any team east of San Fran but they are still pretty young and will need time to learn to play together. The top 7 players are all under contract through next season so that is when I expect them to become true Western Conference competitors. The Wolves young studs need to learn how to play D and the new veterans need time to develop chemistry with last year’s players. I expect a slow start to the season but a strong finish. That should propel them to bigger and better things in 2018/19.
Kras: I bought in last season on the Wolves and they fell flat on their face compared to what I thought they were going to do. With that said, I will have to see it to believe it moving forward. I am optimistic they will take the next step and be a competitive product. A lot of that optimism has to do with the addition of G/F Jimmy Butler. PG Jeff Teague will hopefully be a more effective player on O that what Ricky Rubio was for this team but that remains to be seen. With Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins anchoring this team I think we need to see some progress this season. Anything short of a .500 record would be embarrassing to say the least. This team needs to be competing for a playoff spot this year. If not, it will be hard to see this work long term.
1. What is your prediction for the upcoming NBA season? Do you see Cavs and Warriors in the Finals again?
Kras: There will be some interesting teams to watch this season, starting with the OKC Thunder and the Boston Celtics. Both teams made improvements this offseason to become contenders in their respective conferences. As it stands now, I don’t see the Cavs being dethroned as they still have LeBron James. Last time I checked he is good at basketball. In the West, I think it will be the same story as well. The Warriors are likely going to be too strong for any team in a 7 game series. The Spurs may be a team that can slow the 3 ball parade that the Warriors run but ultimately I think they will get it done.
Nate Leer: Kras breaks it down well. There may be a couple teams that make runs at the conference champs from last year but neither team is likely to be dethroned. I do think the gap has closed in each conference so a significant injury for either team could make it interesting. If Golden State loses Durant or Curry for the playoffs, teams such as San Antonio and Oklahoma City would become very real threats. In the East, LeBron may not be able to overcome the loss of Kevin Love although they have signed potentially helpful depth. In the end, I fully expect to see a rematch of last year’s Finals but that will probably be the last time as I think LeBron will be out of Cleveland after this season.
2. Which NFL team are you most surprised by at this point in the season, good or bad?
Nate Leer: I find the Chiefs to be the biggest surprise. It’s not just that they are winning, it’s how they are winning: With their O. In particular the passing game. While Kareem Hunt has been awesome at RB, we saw that coming somewhat. Alex Smith emerging as (arguably) the most complete QB in the game has been much more of a surprise. He still is running enough to keep the chains moving as necessary. Yet his downfield throwing has been dominant. He is 3rd in the league in yardage even while Hunt has had a nice slice of the touches pie in the form of carries. He is also tied for 3rd in yardage but has not turned the ball over even once. 5 games does not a season make and the Chiefs have a tough test next against Pittsburgh but the added element of downfield O has helped propel them to the top of the league.
Kras: The most surprising team to me this season has been the 0-5 New York Giants. It is hard to believe that they haven’t been able to find a victory in the first 5 weeks, considering some of their opponents. Tampa Bay and Detroit look to be average at best while the L.A. Chargers seem to be slightly less inept than the Giants themselves. Unfortunately, the Giants have lost Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall for the year as well as Sterling Shepard for what could be a week or longer. Ben McAdoo has not been the answer as everyone in NY had hoped. The lack of O, including a non-existent running game, has been tough to watch and not at all the football Eli Manning has become accustom to. Truth be told, he may be part of the problem at this point. I don’t see anything improving for the lowly Giants so it will be interesting to see if McAdoo survives to see next season.
3. Do you think the turf and or sod is the cause for some of injuries we have see the past few weeks in the NFL?
Kras: I don’t think the turf or sod is strictly to blame but I would be interested to know what role the field surface plays in some of the injuries we see. I personally think most of the injuries are a result of too much stress and pressure on the ligaments, joints, and bones. With all football players constantly trying to be bigger, faster, stronger than the next guy, and the continuing lack of contact and preparation before the season, I feel it is all part of the reason. It is sad to see so many impact players lost for the season. It is something that is likely not going to change or help the game.
Nate Leer: I think it could be a factor, even a significant one, but Kras is right that it is more about the players. The size and speed of these athletes is unparalleled and the human joints fail at a certainly point. If you watch the hits that take place on a weekly basis, it is honestly surprising that more bones and ligaments aren’t broken. But back to the turf. I think the NFL should do comprehensive studies of the turf including mining the years of data they have about injuries to see if there are correlations between certain types of turf and injuries. The NFL has virtually unlimited capital and it would be a show of good faith for the NFL to “give” the best surface possible to its players.