"Ask Vic" will publish on Monday, Wednesday and Friday during the football season.
Here's the "Ask Vic" Week 4 power rankings:
1. Rams -- Big spenders.
2. Chiefs -- At least for now.
3. Saints -- Signature win.
4. Panthers -- Tease team.
5. Titans -- I like tough guys.
6. Jaguars -- Only because I like you.
7. Bears -- Look who's No. 1 in the NFC North.
8. Redskins -- Dominant win over Packers.
9. Eagles -- Something's missing.
10. Bengals -- Dalton is on his game.
11. Ravens -- Can make a statement in Pittsburgh.
12. Patriots -- Has the fall begun?
13. Vikings -- Zimmer has some work to do.
14. Packers -- Defense still the issue.
15. Steelers -- Big Ben giveth and he taketh away.
16. Browns -- The Baker Mayfield era begins.
17. Bucs -- Fitzmagic is fun.
18. Dolphins -- I ain't buyin' it.
19. Falcons -- Underachieving.
20. Broncos -- Worst 2-1 team in the league.
21. Colts -- Playing hard, playing tough.
22. Bills -- Fluke win.
23. Lions -- Prove you can do it again.
24. Cowboys -- All brand, no bite.
25. Chargers -- They should be better than this.
26. Jets -- Long season ahead.
27. 49ers -- The hype has ended.
28. Seahawks -- Just another team now.
29. Texans -- The wolves are howling.
30. Giants -- Barkley making his mark.
31. Raiders -- Gruden should've stayed in the booth.
32. Cardinals -- Really, really terrible.
Joe from Bloomington, IN
What does Steelers GM Vic do with Bell?
The big problem now is I doubt the Steelers want him back; I wouldn't want him back. Unless he can play cornerback they don't need him, and they certainly don't need the distraction he'd cause. They'll get a third-round compensatory pick for him, so that's what I would consider to be Le'Veon Bell's trade value. Is a team willing to give the Steelers a three to "rent" Bell for what's left of this season? I doubt it. Any team interested in trading for Bell would first of all have to strike a deal with Bell that would guarantee his presence or void the trade. That's probably doable, but Bell is probably out of shape and such a deal would be a huge leap of faith. In my opinion, the Steelers' best chance of moving Bell is to a team that wants him on a big, multi-year contract. Such a team could execute what's called a "sign and trade" agreement with the Steelers. I think the Steelers should just lift the tender and move on with James Conner. It would help unify a team that needs this drama to end.
Ben from El Paso, TX
Do you think the NFL benefits from the rules and officiating controversy because it draws attention away from collusion and concussions?
It probably does, but that's not the purpose for this explosion in penalties. The league would seem to be intent on cleaning up the game. Hey, why have rules if you don't enforce them? When a holding call nullified what would've been an 83-yard punt return for a touchdown late in Monday night's game, I thought to myself this better be good. It was. The guy had his arms wrapped around the coverage man; he wouldn't let him leave the line of scrimmage. How many times is a penalty called and the TV replay doesn't justify the flag? Not often. I don't like all of these penalties as much as the fans don't like them, but maybe the game needs sanitizing. Mike Tomlin said the rash of penalties is damaging the game's entertainment value, and I would agree, so I would say this to Tomlin and all of the league's coaches: Teach your players not to commit penalties.
Brad from Eau Claire, WI
Not a question, a sad goodbye. I agree with Alex from Milwaukee. Good officiating was once defined as completing a game without being aware of who the officials were. Too many flags, not just on roughing, but on too many kick returns. Players no longer determine the game; there is no continuity. Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays offer other choices. I have enjoyed your historical perspectives, but goodbye. Fare thee well.
Oh, my, so dramatic. I hope you feel privileged, Brad. I've got an inbox full of these "I'm done" letters and I've chosen to publish yours to represent all of the drama queens who say they're done but will be sitting in front of the TV this Sunday when the Packers host the Bills. I'm calling baloney on all of you, except I'm not saying baloney.
Jamie from Brooklyn, NY
There is a conspiracy theory going around that Rodgers has a torn ACL and is playing on it to prevent the loss of the entire season. I can't believe I'm even asking this.
I covered a guy who I think did that. Yeah, Mark Brunell in 1997. It was suspected he had a torn ACL when he went into surgery. The reconstruction kit was in the room. When the surgery was over, we were told the ACL wasn't torn and Brunell would return to action in a few weeks, which he did on a Monday night against the Steelers in one of the most dramatic games in Jaguars history. Some years later, I got an email from one of the attendants in the operating room who told me the ACL was, in fact, torn. I believe him. Aaron Rodgers' knee? I don't know. They said he has a torn ligament.
Neil from Cheddar, UK
NFC North not quite as good as everyone thought it was?
Why, because the Bears are leading it? The NFC North is a good division. It has arguably the best quarterback in the game and the best pass rusher, too. Following the Lions' rousing win over the Patriots, maybe the Lions are also capable of joining the chase. In fact, I think the point could be made the NFC North is better than ever.
John from Sun Prairie, WI
Do you think a lack of playing time during preseason could explain some of the roughing-the-passer penalties on starters? They didn't play much with the referees and are now finding out how close they're calling it.
How can you practice new technique in game conditions if you don't play in the game? I'm laying this one on the coaches.
Lori from Brookfield, WI
Vic, there were five roughing-the-passer calls in the Steelers/Bucs game. What is at the root of the infractions?
Two Steelers roughing penalties were classic Clay Matthews burp jobs. The root of the calls is the new weight-on-the-QB rule. Is it possible to tackle the quarterback while falling on him? We're going to find out in what's left of this season because I have to believe the league will keep enforcing this rule. Maybe the rule will be revisited and altered during the offseason, but I have a feeling teams will begin complying with the rule and the controversy will go away. These men are good enough athletes to figure this out.
Jack from Jacksonville, FL
Fitzpatrick or Winston?
It would be unfair to Jameis Winston to make him the starter. The howl of the wolves would make it unfairly difficult for him to function. Fitzmagic needs to burn out before Winston is returned to the starting job. It'll happen. I'm reminded of Terry Bradshaw reclaiming his starting job from Joe Gilliam in 1974.
Bill from Sioux Falls, SD
Vic, for the good folks crying about roughing calls, watch clips from the Dallas-Seattle game. As the defender hit the QB, he rolled. By the time they hit turf, the QB was on top of the defender. A thing of beauty. Refs didn't look twice.
The league likes it when the quarterback is on top.
Phil from Madison, WI
It's time to move on from the drama of the first few weeks and focus on how this team can improve. It appears consistency in the secondary is lacking, particularly at safety. Is there reason to believe signing a guy like Eric Reid or trading for Earl Thomas would improve the back end of the defense?
I'll tell you what would really help the back end of the defense: A pass rush from the front end of the defense.
Stephen from Jacksonville, FL
As good as Blake Bortles can play in one week, he can play equally horrible the next. Many of the folks around him say he works hard, plays hard and has many of the talents necessary to be a solid NFL quarterback. His mechanics are not as solid as most would like and he still sometimes makes questionable decisions with the football, but I can’t believe these two areas are the only causes of the bad Blake Bortles. What other flaws do you see in his abilities and what’s one thing Bortles can do to become a better quarterback for this season?
He's not a natural passer of the football. That's what I see. I like his toughness and I think he has strong leadership qualities. I think he needs to be Joe Kapp. Make the little plays at big times in the game, and be that tough, underrated quarterback who just finds ways to win.
Mike from Mesa, AZ
Vic, your opinions replace the play on the field for old-school fans like me, in that they are hard-hitting and speak the new truth of play in the NFL! Isn't it time Packers GM Brian Gutekunst expands his horizons and gives the Steeler's GM a call to make a trade for Le'Veon Bell?
Bell is radioactive. I wouldn't touch him with a lead pole.
Steve from New Britain, CT
Vic, would it be fair to say because Mark Murphy is partly responsible for advocating the new sack rule, and since the NFL can't rein in how the referees are misinterpreting it on the field, Murphy's solution has come home to roost? Why shouldn't Packers fans point fingers at Murphy for a fiasco that's clearly ruining the game? Even Aaron Rodgers agreed most sack penalties have been mistakes.
This new sack rule is tailormade for the Packers. It's perfect for a team that needs to protect the most expensive and valuable quarterback in the game. Hey, the Packers aren't sack masters. They're not "Blitzburgh." The Packers don't win or lose with the sack, they win or lose with Rodgers and, by the way, he's playing on an injured knee that greatly limits his ability to defend himself. If ever he needed a rule that protects quarterbacks, it's now. Murphy should be applauded for his role on the competition committee for driving this rule change.
Matt from Delafield, WI
Tiger is being new and he got his first win in five years. What is your take on the Tiger Woods you saw last weekend?
He's all the way back and he's ready to go after Jack Nicklaus' record for career wins in majors.
Milan from New York
Wow! Dick Shiner! Now you'll tell me you remember Fran Rogel!
He was my high school's coach. He's also the subject of one of my all-time favorite coach stories. Rogel was an intimidating guy and his coaching tactics were controversial. As the story goes, Rogel got wind of a special board meeting to vote on firing him. That night, Rogel shows up at the meeting. He opens the door, looks at the assembled board members and says, "I heard you're hear to vote on firing me, so let's vote." Rogel then walks around the room, stopping at each board member and asking, "How do you vote? Do you want to fire me?" Each time, the answer came back no. Rogel said, "Then it's decided. I'm still the coach."
Jesse from Alaska, SD
So what will the new rules make of the Steelers/Bengals rivalry? I can’t imagine the refs being told by the league to let it slide.
The league should bill it as a throwback game. The league should allow the Steelers and Bengals to play according to 1974 rules, and promote the game that way. The ratings would be off the charts.