'Experts' say Vikings are due for a good year
Any problems they have are 'correctable'
If you can believe the NFL TV "experts,'' the Minnesota Vikings will be in pretty good shape this year.
First, we'll hear from Jimmy Johnson of the Fox Sports NFL Sunday studio show.
"Minnesota is an interesting team. As a coach, if you've got them playing as well as you can play and you're 8-8, there is not a lot of hope. But when you look at Minnesota's team, they've got the talent. The problem is last year they had so many penalties and so many turnovers, it kept them from playing well until the very end of the season. So their problems are correctable. Talent is not correctable.
"If they can correct the problems they had the first two-thirds of the season last year, I think they can make a run (at the division title).
"I do believe that because of some of the personnel changes at Green Bay, I see them dropping. I hear all this talk about Brett (Favre) maybe thinking about retiring. He's got one of his best friends (Frank) Winters now is no longer with the team.
"I just see a little bit of a crumble there. Maybe enough of a crack, that if Minnesota corrects their problems, they can jump up there and win it. If they start out the season with a bunch of penalties and a bunch of turnovers, then you say, 'Hey, they didn't correct their problems.' So all that talent is being wasted.''
OK, how about Phil Simms, the CBS analyst.
"I would say it is the Vikings. The defense is going to improve a lot over last year, rushing the passer. I love the draft pick they got (defensive tackle) Kevin Williams from Oklahoma State. I think Daunte Culpepper -- he did struggle at times last year -- he had a terrific pre-season. He is the modern-day version of Steve McNair. I think he can grow into that same type of player.
"He can do a little bit of everything. I have just watched him on TV. I've never talked to him; but he seems to have the charisma, the personality, that players like to be around. I think he can be a big leader. Not only do I think they can challenge (the Packers), I think they can win that division. I think they can overtake Green Bay this year.''
How about ESPN's Joe Theismann: "To me, the Vikings will make the biggest jump. But as long as Brett Favre puts on a uniform, whatever team he plays for is a legitimate threat to win everything.''
And finally Boomer Esiason of CBS' NFL Today: "I have to believe that Minnesota has a chance to score a big number of points vs. anybody. And if there is a question mark in Green Bay right now, it has to be on defense. They have to figure out ways to stop teams. When you have Randy Moss and Daunte Culpepper, and you put them on the field, anything can happen. So the Vikings, with the strength they finished last year, even though they have some problems in their running game, I think are going to be a formidable foe in the North.''
Around the tube
The USA Network has coverage of the U.S. Open women's semifinals tonight, the first time those matches ever have been shown on cable. That's due to the rain that played havoc with the schedule all week.
The University of Minnesota has one of its four non-conference games on TV this year. It will play Troy State at 7 p.m. Saturday on KSTP-TV (Channel 5).
Fantasy football? The "Ultimate Fantasy Football Show'' debuts at 11:30 p.m. Saturday on Fox Sports Net. The show is hosted by Patrick O'Neal and features analyses from former Vikings quarterback Warren Moon and Andrew Siciliano.
KROC-AM (1340) once again will carry a half-season package of Minnesota Wild games.
Ex-Twin Roy Smalley fills in for Bert Blyleven as analyst on FSN for today's Twins game (7 p.m.) against the Texas Rangers from the Metrodome.
Paul Christian is a Post-Bulletin sports writer. He writes a weekly Friday column devoted to TV and radio sports coverage and can be reached at email@example.com
A variety of reports was used to compile this column.