The Presence of a Star

By Zack Cimini

Most divisions are close nit right now in terms of who is going to win the division. But for the most part you can vision how the rest of the season is going to unfold. In the AFC East with the Jets faltering and Pennington hurt, it will be another easy division win for the Patriots. Pittsburgh definitely doesn?t have a challenger with the way their star rookie is playing, and you have to feel that the veteran leadership of the Colts will pay off in their favor of the Jaguars. In the AFC West it is a toss up between the Chargers and Broncos, and will likely come down to the last week.

Now switching over the NFC where Philadelphia and Atlanta are almost automatic locks. In the NFC West the Seahawks have been too inconsistent, but the Rams nor the Cardinals have taken advantage of the situation. Within the next two to three weeks we should see if one of those teams is ready to step up.

The division that is the most compelling though is the NFC North. The division is separated by two games among four teams, and will likely be that close the whole season. If you?re a Minnesota fan you have to be hurting yourselves for not taking advantage of spacing yourself ahead of the field. But there is one big reason that the Vikings are 5-3, and not 6-2 or 7-1. That?s because they?ve been without their star receiver Randy Moss, who will also miss this weekend?s game. If you?ve been watching the Vikings offense the past couple of weeks you can really see how important Moss is to this team.

Just think of that, how many teams can say they?ve lost a big part of their team when a receiver goes down? I don?t think there is a team in the history of the NFL that can. Usually you can expect that much of a downfall when a quarterback or a running back goes down, but at wide receiver you?re supposed to just have a clustered talent pool. But Moss is no ordinary receiver and now perhaps should start to get the credit he deserves as one of the best in history. Here is a guy that was having a monster season with already eight touchdowns, and then was hit with a hamstring injury not even halfway through the season. Who knows what kind of stats he would have put up this year if it weren?t for his injury.

Defenses base their schemes around Moss, and now they?re able to pin point other objectives on the Vikings offense. When Moss comes back he surely won?t be at 100 percent, and more than likely will have to deal with a nagging hamstring the rest of the year. So surely defenses will be able to get after Culpepper more and play more aggressive schemes.

Looking at the bigger picture, the NFC Central is basically down to three teams. You could count the Bears if they still had Rex Grossman, but they just don?t have enough talent at quarterback to make any kind of run. They?ll be able to pull off the occasional upset, but they?ll be lucky to go 6-10. Then you have the Packers and Lions who will be in the Vikings throats the rest of the season. Joey Harrington and the Lions have had a solid but inconsistent year, and have shown their youth. They?ll be ready to takeover this division in the next year or two.

But the team that has haunted the Vikings in the past in the Green Bay Packers, has quietly snuck up. The once 1-4 Packers, managed to win three straight and will now be coming off a bye week. Their schedule is tough, but the winner of this division could end up being a 9-7 team. So that means this weekend?s game against Minnesota is even more important. This is also the first time this year that Minnesota and Green Bay will take on each other. Basically if one team sweeps the other than there you?ll have your division winner. That usually isn?t the case with these two though, but you have to figure that Green Bay has the advantage this weekend with Moss out.


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