Even though we're in the wake of the less intelligent among us declaring the NFC North race over after all of one game's worth of action, those of us that dwell in the realm of reality are moving on to this Sunday's home opener for the Beloved Purple, and it's a game that should be much more interesting than what I thought it would be when the schedule first came out.
A couple of months ago, people might have called this game between the Vikings and the Indianapolis Colts a potential Super Bowl preview. After the happenings of Week 1, it's now a battle of two teams that are attempting to avoid an 0-2 start. For the Colts. . .and this is a pretty amazing number, in my opinion, and really speaks to their consistency over the past few years. . .this is the earliest they've had a loss on their schedule since 2004. In 2005, they started the season 13-0, they won their first 9 games of 2006, and started off 7-0 in 2007.
I've had this game down as a loss since the schedules came out this spring, and really, I haven't heard a lot of folks that would disagree. But given the past few days, now I'm not entirely sure what to make of this thing. Why do I ask if we're catching the Colts at the right time? Well, a few reasons, actually. . .
-Jeff Saturday, who might be the most underrated center in football and certainly ranks among the league's best at the position, is out with an injury for the Colts. . .and, as a result, the interior of their offensive line looked VERY weak against the Bears. Pat Williams, Kevin Williams, and E.J. Henderson have to be salivating a bit over that. Saturday, apparently, IS practicing, but it doesn't appear as though he'll be at full speed if he's able to go at all.
-Staying with the Bears game, Chicago. . .with an offense that nobody was mistaking for the '98 Vikings or the 2000 Rams prior to the season. . .ripped the Colts on the ground for a total of 183 rushing yards. Rookie Matt Forte put up 123 yards and a TD on 23 carries, and Detroit castoff Kevin Jones chipped in 45 yards of his own. And NOW the Colts have suspended their best interior defensive lineman, DT Ed Johnson, after he was arrested this morning for possession of marijuana, among other things. Think Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor are happy?
-And, since tight ends have a bit of a history of killing the Vikings on defense, it helps that the Colts' outstanding tight end, Dallas Clark, got a bit banged up against Chicago. It sounds like he's going to play, but he might not be 100%.
Now, I'm not going to include the fact that Peyton Manning and the Colts' offense didn't look outstanding against Chicago as part of that list. Why? Because he's Peyton freaking Manning, that's why. Yes, he's got a bit of rust since he didn't play at all in the pre-season, but he's still got three or four outstanding targets to throw to in Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, and Anthony Gonzalez (and Clark, depending on his health), and the Colts have a good, young running back in Joseph Addai.
I've got all the respect in the world for Tony Dungy. If he's not the best coach in the NFL, he's somewhere in the Top 2, and I'm sure he'll have the Colts ready for this Sunday's clash. I know that Brad Childress has as much chance of outcoaching Dungy as there is of me changing my last name to Ocho Gonzo. But when I see the setup for this game and the focus, I can't help but get a feeling of deja vu. . .it's similar to the way I felt going into the San Diego game last season. The Vikings are at home, coming off of a tough loss, hosting a team with superior talent that's having its own struggles, with a consensus that said struggling team was going to "get themselves right" against our Beloved Purple.
It would be nice to get ourselves a little bit of that same thing on Sunday afternoon. No, starting off 0-2 wouldn't be the end of the world or anything like that, but getting back to the .500 mark would certainly be a whole lot better.
BigBlueShoe over at Stampede Blue and I will be doing this year's first installment of "5 Good Questions" over the course of the next day or two. Feel free to visit the folks over there, but please play nice. I've already asked them nicely to not lower themselves to the level of the kind of idiots that think referring to this team by names other than the Vikings is some sort of good, intelligent idea. (Yeah, Wisconsin, I'm looking at you. . .and I don't know why you're giggling, Illinois.) They seem to be willing to oblige us on that front.
That's all for now, folks. . .have a good rest of your Wednesday, and we'll see you back here tomorrow!
EDIT/UPDATE: Well, I can tell you exactly how long the Colts will suspend Ed Johnson for. Permanently. And by "suspend," what I mean is "Ed Johnson got cut by the Colts today."