MINNEAPOLIS ó A prevalent opinion around the NFL heading into this season was that if the Baltimore Ravens found some offense, they’d be a Super Bowl favorite.
It was also thought the Minnesota Vikings would contend if they got a quarterback who could threaten defenses and eliminate those eight-in-the-box alignments to deal with Adrian Peterson.
Today, it’s purple on purple as the Ravens visit the Vikings, but with the teams headed in different directions.
After winning their first three outings with a dominating offense and a big-play defense, the Ravens (3-2) have turned sloppy. Meanwhile, the Vikings (5-0) can’t seem to do anything wrong.
Also today, it’s the New York Giants at New Orleans; Chicago at Atlanta; Cleveland at Pittsburgh; Houston at Cincinnati; Arizona at Seattle; Philadelphia at Oakland; Buffalo at the New York Jets; Tennessee at New England; Kansas City at Washington; St. Louis at Jacksonville; and Detroit at Green Bay.
Unbeaten Denver is at San Diego on Monday night.
Off this week are Indianapolis, Dallas, San Francisco and Miami.
LAS VEGAS ó Chad Campbell made a double bogey on the par-5 16th, then birdied the 18th for a 4-under 67 and a share of the third-round lead with Scott Piercy on Saturday in the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.
– THE WOODLANDS, Texas ó Dan Forsman remained in position for his second Champions Tour victory of the year, shooting a 1-under 71 to take a one-stroke lead in the Administaff Small Business Classic.
MIAMI ó Isiah Thomas was finally back on the court Saturday.
Holding his first official practice as Florida International’s coach, the Hall of Fame player ran up and down with his new team, yelling out pointers on how to defend off the dribble. Far from his past coaching home with the New York Knicks, Thomas said his focus is on rebuilding the Golden Panthers, who finished 13-20 last season.
“Today is here, I’m prepared for it and I’m ready for it,” Thomas said. “I’m very excited.”
CONCORD ó Richard Childress doesn’t appear to be too concerned about Kevin Harvick’s possible departure at the end of the 2010 season.
Childress said Saturday night at Lowe’s Motor Speedway that he’s focused on helping his struggling team move on following a disastrous 2009, not Harvick’s status.
Harvick hinted during a television interview recently that he has no plans to remain at Richard Childress Racing when his contract expires next year.
“We’ll just see how everything plays out in the future,” Childress said.
Childress is more concerned about turning around RCR’s program, which failed to land any of its four Cup cars in the Chase for the championship a year removed from putting the cars of Harvick, Jeff Burton and Clint Bowyer in NASCAR’s playoffs.
NEWARK, N.J. ó Martin Brodeur made 26 saves and moved within one shutout of tying Terry Sawchuk’s NHL career record in leading the New Jersey Devils to a 2-0 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night.
Jamie Langenbrunner scored a flukey goal off his body in the opening seconds of the third period to break a scoreless tie, and Zach Parise scored into an empty net with 40 seconds to go as Brodeur picked up his 102nd shutout.
Brodeur made about four saves between Langenbrunner’s goal and Parise’s clincher to secure his first shutout of the season and the Devils’ first victory at home in four tries.
Penguins 4, Lightning 1
PITTSBURGH ó Sergei Gonchar had a goal and an assist and the Pittsburgh Penguins improved to 7-1 on the season with a 4-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Pittsburgh’s start is the franchise’s second-best.
Rangers 4, Maple Leafs 1
TORONTO ó Brandon Dubinsky had a goal and an assist, and the New York Rangers earned their seventh straight win with a 4-1 victory over the winless Toronto.
Sharks 4, Islanders 1
UNIONDALE, N.Y. ó Joe Thornton had a power-play goal and two assists to lead San Jose over the New York Islanders.
Thrashers 4 Sabres 2
BUFFALO, N.Y. ó Ilya Kovalchuk scored twice, and Johan Hedberg made 40 saves and added an assist in his first start of the season to help send Atlanta to its best start in franchise history.
Avalanche 4, Red Wings 3, SO
DETROIT ó Marek Svatos and Milan Hejduk scored shootout goals to give Colorado a win over Detroit.
Capitals 3, Predators 2
WASHINGTON ó Alex Ovechkin scored twice and added the deciding goal in a shootout, giving Washington a win over Nashville Predators.
Blue Jackets 4, Kings 1
COLUMBUS, Ohio ó Raffi Torres broke a tie with a power-play goal late in the second period and Rick Nash added a short-handed goal to lead Columbus to its third win in a row.
Senators 3, Canadiens 1
MONTREAL ó Alex Kovalev had a goal and an assist in his first game against Montreal since leaving the Canadiens.