Every week, the experts of FOX NFL Sunday will candidly reveal their observations and make their opinions known as they prepare for football’s top-rated pregame telecast — seen each Sunday at 12 p.m. ET/9 a.m. PT. We’ll share some of the highlights from Curt, Terry, Howie, Jimmy and Michael grabbed from their weekly conference call with insider John Czarnecki.
Article continues below ...
This week, Czar probes the FOX NFL Sunday crew on the Randy Moss trade, the New Orleans Saints and the entire NFC.
Czar: With Randy Moss traded to Minnesota, does this make the Vikings the favorites in the NFC North? And how does it impact the Patriots?
Jimmy Johnson: No, it doesn’t make them the favorites.
Terry Bradshaw: (Patriots head coach Bill) Belichick wouldn’t have gotten rid of him if he thought getting rid of him was going to hurt his team.
JJ: It could hurt New England a little bit, but I don’t think it’s going to have a major impact on them. Bill understands what they are doing there. They were only using Moss to stretch the defense so they could dink-and-dink with their great rookie tight end Aaron Hernandez and Wes Welker. I think they could drop a little bit there, but not a major amount.
But this is how Bill does it. When a player is in the final year of his contract and if they are not going to re-sign him, they are going to deal him. This is exactly what they did with Lawyer Milloy and Richard Seymour. They gave up a fourth-rounder and got a third-round pick while using Moss’ services for these three-plus seasons.
TB: I guess he was becoming a distraction, too. But his production was pretty great there. Fifty touchdown catches in 51 starts.
JJ: I do think he will help Minnesota. I just don’t think it helps them as much as people think. Now, Brett (Favre) does like to throw it up for grabs and now he has a guy who can stretch the field. They are going to connect on some big plays. But their opponents are not idiots. They are going to play deep on them and get some interceptions, too.
Curt Menefee: Why don’t you think it’s going to help Minnesota a lot more?
JJ: I know everyone thinks that Brett is going to unload to Randy Moss streaking down the field, but I do think teams are going to get some interceptions off of it. This is what Brett loves to do. And with Moss and Favre there, you might as well let Brad Childress stay at home. Moss and Favre will be controlling the games now. It will be out of control.
Michael Strahan: They have the Jets this week. And that won’t be easy.
TB: I guess Randy went off on the offensive coach at halftime (during Monday night’s Patriots win at Miami) for only throwing one pass his way.
CM: Don’t forget that Belichick has to play Moss and the Vikings in a couple of weeks.
JJ: I do think that Moss will be re-energized now. And, yes, this will open up some passing lanes for Percy Harvin underneath. But Brett doesn’t really want to do that. He wants to throw it deep.
Howie Long: I think the halftime blow-up with (Bill O’Brien) the quarterbacks coach hurt. It’s been brewing. Randy is a lot smarter guy than people give him credit for and he knew they had already begun to move in a totally different direction on offense. They feel Brandon Tate has a shot at stretching the field. He’s not Moss, but he’s certainly an explosive receiver. They have a boatload of young talent like Tate, Hernandez and Julian Edelman and even Danny Woodhead, who they picked up from the Jets.
Has Tom Brady enjoyed having Moss there? Yeah, but I also think it is a load off, too. Randy can be a hot-and-cold player, both in the locker room and on the field. Am I surprised by what happened? No. Bill will say the right things, but he will also move on.
MS: I do think Favre is going to throw it up, but that’s his comfort level. He needs a guy like that, and look what he did with Sidney Rice last season — and Rice is nowhere near a Randy Moss. This really gives Favre what he needs. This is definitely a do-it-now, win-now kind of thing. I mean, who is going to be throwing to Moss next year? Not Favre. For Moss, it is kind of full circle.
And why did Favre leave Green Bay? Wasn’t it because he was upset that they didn’t get Randy Moss? The guy who got him shipped off to the Jets is now the guy he’s reunited with. If I was on that team, I would understand this, too.
JJ: Don’t get me wrong, this should help the Vikings. It’s going to open up things underneath for Visanthe Shiancoe and Harvin and also really help Adrian Peterson. But let’s not go overboard.
HL: Minnesota does have a really good defense, but the offense has to stop messing up games. But the Vikings should be there at the end.
Czar: The Saints aren’t blowing teams out like they did last year. What’s wrong with them?
JJ: They just aren’t getting the takeaways they had last year and they are also minus the defensive touchdowns they had last year. They gave the offense great field position. But now Drew Brees isn’t 100 percent healthy and they are minus Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas, their two best running backs. Bush was the biggest mismatch in the league, when running a pass route on a linebacker. They also have some injuries in their secondary. The other thing is that teams spent the entire offseason preparing for them because they are the defending champs. Teams are obviously better prepared to play them.
HL: We said a couple weeks ago that it was going to be difficult to duplicate the unbelievable offensive numbers and points off turnovers they produced last season. You talk about the mindset of a defense that gives up a ton of yards. That has to chip away at you in terms of "How good are we?" It came down to one play last week and Carolina almost completed it.
MS: The Saints have won two close games now and they have to feel good about that. This year, you can bet that opposing teams are being told by their coaches not to turn the ball over. They only have seven takeaways this season after 13 last year after four games. Teams are just more aware of not making mistakes against them.
TB: They are still a very good team. I think they can still win the division.
Czar: So, who are the elite teams in the NFC?
HL: I like Atlanta because I think they are extremely well-coached. They showed me a lot last week. San Francisco punched them in the mouth and put them on their heels, but Roddy White came to the rescue and Matt Ryan redeemed himself and drove it right down the field, mostly to White, for the winning field goal. They are not the best team, but they are so much more balanced than most teams. I do think that Dallas still has the most talent in the NFC.
JJ: The thing about the Cowboys is as soon as they play really well and win a game, they start thinking about winning the Super Bowl all over again. That’s when they lose focus and start making mistakes.
TB: But if they play like they did against Houston, they have a shot to be really, really good.
HL: I wouldn’t be surprised either way. They can be dominant if they want it.
Czar: The Giants demolished the unbeaten Bears last Sunday. Can they make a run now?
MS: I was never sold on Chicago anyway, but I still didn’t expect that many sacks from the Giants last Sunday night. I do feel that the Giants gained a lot of confidence last week on defense, but offensively they still don’t seem to have it. They can’t seem to finish on offense. They keep games too close. The defense had nine sacks on Sunday night and the score was 3-0. That’s ridiculous. The offense was a little more humbled in the locker room afterwards. The key this week is if they can run the ball Sunday against Houston.
Czar: Is the NFC West the worst division in the NFL? And do the Rams have a chance?
JJ: Yes, it’s the worst division. I’m still not sure about the Rams.
MS: I think the Rams have a chance. They are a team that is close. When they beat the Redskins, they looked like they expected to win that game. Then, what happens? They win again last week. Confidence is the fine line in this league, not talent. Are the Rams as talented as everyone else? Of course not. But they do have some guys who know how to win and are talented. It’s amazing what one win can do. It can be such a snowball effect.
JJ: What’s weird about this division is that San Francisco has the best talent and they are 0-4.
HL: The 49ers have lost two tough games. They should have beaten the Saints at home and they thought they had beaten Atlanta last week until Roddy White showed up. This is a big week for St. Louis. They are playing Detroit, who is playing well right even though they haven’t won a game.