In case you missed it during our 'round-the-clock coverage of the Randy Moss trade, ESPN.com's John "The Professor" Clayton wrote a column suggesting the new Vikings wide receiver could rob the NFC East of a wild-card playoff bid. The Vikings will play all four teams from our sad little division, and it's obvious Clayton believes the addition of Moss will allow them to go at least 3-1 in those games.
MossI agree with Clayton that Moss will help the Vikings, but I'm still not sure Brett Favre will be able to return to his '09 form. The Dallas Cowboys travel to Minneapolis on Oct. 17 for a rematch of last season's divisional playoff game, which Dallas lost 44-6. We'll have a lot better read on things following that game. (And the NFC East blog will be there for all the action).
Right now the NFC East isn't playing like a division that will send two teams to the playoffs anyway, so I'm not sure the arrival of Moss in the conference is all that meaningful. Let's take a look at Clayton's premise for a moment:
"No wild card will come out of the NFC West because odds are against the winner of that division winning more than eight games," writes The Professor. "If the NFC East settles into an average division with a bunch of teams between eight and 10 wins, then the hopes for an NFC East wild card would be pinned on the failures in the NFC North, figuring that the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons have shown enough to indicate two playoff teams will come from that division."
I tend to think it's way too early to make any definitive statements about the NFC playoff race. Heading into Sunday's game, we thought the Eagles might be making a serious move. But they got punched in the mouth by the Redskins and lost Michael Vick to a rib injury. I think Moss is still a big-time playmaker, but we should keep in mind that his former Vikings teammates and coaches couldn't wait to see him leave a few years ago.
I'm not convinced that Moss immediately makes the Vikings better than any of the NFC East teams, with the possible exception of the Washington Redskins. Shanahan has left himself exposed at running back and wide receiver, which will eventually catch up with him.
I say we give this thing a week or two before we hand the Vikings a playoff bid. Then we'll give Clayton a collective high-five and send him on his way.