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The Football Fanatic

By O.B. Usmen

COLUMNIST

What’s more surprising: St. Louis 0-3 or Carolina 3-0? This is quite the conundrum as the defending NFC champion Rams look sluggish and sloppy, while the previously 1-15 Panthers remain undefeated. So what if the Panthers’ opponents are a combined 0-8, all that matters is the win column, and quarterback Rodney Peete is having his best season in a decade. The Rams are struggling due to a diminished offensive line and suspect defense. Warner is struggling without the impeccable pass protection he’s used to, so the Rams look vulnerable for the first time in four years.

The Chargers are also 3-0 behind an unheralded, yet dominating defense. In their first three games , San Diego has allowed only 24 points and has sacked opposing quarterbacks 16 times to lead the league.

While San Diego and Carolina continue to exceed expectations, the Dolphins are finally living up to their hype.

If only Marino were around

It seems that every year, Miami starts off hot and declines over the course of the season, only to disappear in the post-season. That trend has skeptics talking about Miami’s 3-0 start. Unlike past seasons, though, Miami is not just winning; they’re winning big. Up to this point, the Dolphins have outscored their opponents 100-37 and have dominated on both sides of the ball. As long as they stay healthy, Miami's defense, led by LB Zach Crockett and DE Jason Taylor, is one of the stingiest in the league.

With the defense solid, year in and year out, Head Coach Dave Wannestadt has brought in an old friend, Norv Turner, to revitalize the offense, and it has worked. With WR Chris Chambers and TE Randy McMichael on the roster along with the emergence of free agent pickup Ricky Williams as one of the NFL’s premier running backs, all that Miami lacks is a quarterback who can run the system.

Jay Fiedler has done a commendable job at QB with a 107.6 rating and 6 touchdown passes, yet he is the weakness on the offense. He has good accuracy but marginal arm strength that will hurt him when Miami has to catch up from behind.

Still, the offense has enough weapons to be competitive. Look for Miami to keep it up and maybe represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.

Moss mess in Minnesota

With the Vikings 0-3 for the first time since 1967, Minnesota fans are frustrated, and apparently so is Daunte Culpepper. Nothing seemed to go right for Culpepper last week, as he fumbled twice and was intercepted four times. In the third quarter, Culpepper took out his frustration on Randy Moss, implying that he was not making an effort to catch balls intended for him. Sure, Moss has a history of less than inspired play, but Culpepper’s outburst was a sign of immaturity.

Let’s face it, Minnesota doesn't have the talent to compete this year. With a porous defense and no running game, they will battle with Detroit for the distinction of worst team in the NFC.

Still, the fact is, Randy Moss is the most talented WR in the league. Whether or not he gives his all on every down, he consistently puts up some of the best numbers in the league. Only Marshall Faulk has scored more touchdowns than Moss since he entered the league four seasons ago.

Also, in case it hasn't dawned on the Vikings, Moss is not a good leader. He is arrogant, moody, and selfish. Why force him to be a leader? I’m not condoning Moss’ attitude, I just think Minnesota would be well-served in looking elsewhere for leadership. Moss plays best when his team is successful, and he always makes big plays when it counts. So really, Culpepper should stop whining about Randy Moss, fix his own problems, and use Moss’ talent instead of complaining about his attitude.

That having been said, Moss was arrested for second-degree assault Tuesday, after pushing a police officer 500 feet with his car. See: not a leader.

Fantasy pick of the week: WR Peerless Price for the Buffalo Bills. Drew Bledsoe’s favorite target has quietly piled up 352 yards receiving to lead the league.