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Bus Stops: Panic time for Vikings; which surprise 2-0 teams are legit


Throughout the 2010 NFL season,'s Nick Zaccardi will work with Jerome Bettis to get the six-time Pro Bowl running back's observations about the latest happenings in the league. Bettis retired from the NFL in 2006 after a 13-year career.

• The surprise 0-2 team that needs to panic is ... the Vikings. Whereas the Cowboys can correct their mistakes, I think Minnesota is a team that doesn't have enough weapons. They see now what Sidney Rice meant to them last year. He gave them an explosive part of the puzzle that's clearly missing this year. Now teams are going to take Adrian Peterson out of the equation and force Brett Favre to beat them, and Favre doesn't have the right group around him to be effective.

As for Favre, he's still a capable quarterback, but he's at a point in his career that he needs weapons to succeed. Take away Rice or a healthy Percy Harvin, and three-interception games become more and more likely.

• Two surprise 2-0 teams that are the real deal ... Texans and Dolphins. I think Houston can make a playoff run after being so close for a few years. Beating the Colts was obviously a major hurdle, and avoiding a letdown against the Redskins, although barely, is the mark of an experienced team.

Miami is also ready to contend, but not for the reason everybody's talking about after Sunday's thrashing of Favre and Co. While everybody else gushes about that defense, I'm still pointing to Brandon Marshall. Going out and getting that top receiver gives the Dolphins a vertical threat they haven't seen in quite some time.

Even though Bill Parcells isn't coaching, his philosophy has always been imprinted on that team. You know they're always going to play hard-nosed football and be able to run the ball. The dimension of throwing is going to make them even more dangerous.

• Two surprise 2-0 teams that aren't the real deal yet ... Chiefs and Buccaneers. Kansas City and Tampa Bay shouldn't get too excited. The Chiefs couldn't get an offensive touchdown against the Browns, and Matt Cassel has a 55.8 QB rating. That's a concern. Both the Chiefs and the Bucs are talented, but their talent is also very young. I don't think either is ready for prime time as of yet. They need more time. They will go through growing pains, and, after some struggles, they will grow up.

• When it comes to concussions, always err on the side of caution. The latest example was Cowboys tight end Jason Witten in the fourth quarter of Sunday's loss to the Bears. Witten was sandwiched by Brian Urlacher and Chris Harris and wobbled back to the Cowboys sideline with assistance.

Nobody is questioning Witten's toughness. He's missed one game since being drafted in 2003. But teams have to do what's in the best interest of the football player, regardless of what the player wants to do. Those are the consequences of the continued uncovering of the concussion issue. Players just have to deal with it.

Thankfully, I never faced a situation where I was banged up and held out of the game for safety purposes. I do remember it happening to wide receiver Yancey Thigpen back in my Steelers days. He was knocked out and wanted to come back in the game, but he was banged up pretty good and held out.

Even then, you understood that situation and didn't have any complaints about it. He was a valuable part of the organization. In the short term, Thigpen may have been disappointed, but in the long term they did the right thing. It helped that we ended up winning that game in overtime.

• I have advice for Brandon Jacobs. Take a deep breath. Calm down. You're not the feature back anymore, but it's not permanent.

Aside from the helmet-throwing incident, the bigger picture here is his frustration with not getting enough game reps. He only had four touches against the Colts.

It's time for Jacobs to own up. If you want to be the feature back again, go out and earn it. I understand the frustration. I've been there, twice, when a coach wanted to go in a different direction at my position.

Most would guess Willie Parker, but I was really frustrated the first time, in 2003, when coach Bill Cowher made Amos Zereoue the No. 1 back to start the season. I felt bitter, and I went out every day in practice to prove that the coaching staff made the wrong decision. By the eighth game I was the starter again. (Editor's note: In retirement, Zereoue has become quite the restaurateur).

• A few more quick thoughts ...

-- I was thoroughly impressed with the Steelers. This was a game that I was dead wrong in predicting. Ben Roethlisberger wasn't there, and Casey Hampton was out. I thought everything was stacked against them, but they proved that with a great defense and special teams, they can still win football games. To think they get a boost when Roethlisberger comes back after Week 4, that makes them a very dangerous football team.

-- I don't like "icing the kicker" timeouts. Sometimes it works, as in the Texans-Redskins game Sunday, but it just doesn't sit right with me when coaches wait until the last second, and a team snaps the ball without knowing a timeout has been called.

-- The term "shutdown corner" is being overused. Maybe two guys merit that description right now -- Darrelle Revis and, perhaps, Nnamdi Asomugha. Champ Bailey was during his prime, but not anymore. Nobody else is in the discussion.

-- The Week 3 game I most want to see is the Jets at Dolphins. The AFC East is going to come down to one or two games between the Jets, Dolphins and Patriots. This week's winner pretty much takes hold of that division. It's about as pivotal of a Week 3 game as you'll see. My prediction? The better quarterback will win.