As I look to kick start my blog again, I ‘m reminded about my audience out West – it’s 7am on the West Coast  (10 am EST when I started writing this piece), friends who would often drop me a line be it from Seattle, Portland,  though most in Los Angeles especially when I talk USC Trojan football. So they may not know what transpired last night as oppose to the folks in the Midwest and the East Coast do and what they’re all fired up about.  If you did not hear about what happened at the end of last night’s Monday Night Football game, Carolina beat New England on the last play of the game, virtually the last play. Brady goes back to throw it into the endzone and you see Gronk involved in a bear hug with a Carolina player and there is a penalty flag thrown and then the ref picks it up and says “ahh, no pass interference”.

Was it pass interference? We’ll yeah, it was pass interference. In fact two minutes earlier, Greg Olson of the Carolina Panthers – really good tight end, Cam Newton throws the ball about 6 feet over his head. That really wasn’t catchable either but they ruled it pass interference. The rule has always been that not necessarily does it have to be catchable but rather, is it in the vicinity of the receiving player? We’ve seen through the year’s balls sail over receivers’ heads by goal post heights and they still get the flag, last night you didn’t get the flag. Here’s the call from the guys at ESPN ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pn615_qWjdk) was it a bad call? Absolutely!

Listen, I got a couple of hardcore football guys emailing me today saying “listen, I ref’ed in high school, I ref’ed in Peewee, I ref’ed in college…I’d like to deconstruct the play for you so you can rant about it today…” Guys, it was a pass interference! Just like the pass interference two minutes earlier against Devin McCourty on Greg Olson, that ball sailed over his head by 6 feet! It shouldn’t have been pass interference but it was called pass interference. But here is the thing, I didn’t like the call but don’t blame the last play of the game on your loss. New England fumbled in the red zone, therefore giving away a minimum of three points and probably seven!

We love to blame defeat on last plays. People blame the IRS or the CRA for not getting a big refund. “Man I hate the IRS” really? Why not save more instead! Manage your money better, cut back on your 15th man toy you bought this year, take more out of your cheque! Stop blaming the IRS or CRA for what happens at the end of the year, it’s your finances…control them! I tell the high school students I mentor “don’t blame the teacher for the B- because you had 8 weeks to make it an A+” be accountable for your position in life.

For the record, sitting around for 6 days doesn’t help you beat Denver so stop whining about it and go prepare for Peyton Manning! But we love to blame losses – financial losses, business losses, life, personal, sports… on a moment! But it’s not a moment because New England had all sorts of chances. Cam Newton, 2 of his 3 touchdown passes, were on 3rd downs. Cam Newton ran 4 times – 3 of them on scrambles also on 3rd downs and he picked up 1st downs. New England fumbled in the red zone and also couldn’t stop Cam Newton on 3rd down!  Carolina was 8 for 11 on 3rd downs, that New England is a “you” problem. Make more plays!!

Again, I didn’t like the call but even Tom Brady admitted after the game “what? you’re just going to point at the bear hug in the end zone and that’s the entire game?” He said “I don’t make the calls or the rules! Like I said, I didn’t see it, I wish it hadn’t come down to that but I think there’s plenty of plays that we could’ve made but it came down to that and sometimes they’re going to make the calls and sometimes they’re not but we certainly can play better than that!” New England had 2 turnovers…. Carolina? Had none! You’re telling me that that didn’t play a part in the fumble in the red zone? But I’m guilty too, if we don’t get a job or don’t get a job promotion or we don’t get a gig or if we lost a game, we blame the moment and not the preparation; we blame the moment and not the preamble. We still have mirrors in society folks, we just don’t like to use them anymore….look in them!


So something happened last night –it’s bigger than just the moment and I’m referring to the Clippers/Thunder game last night. There was a fight between Matt Barnes and Serge Ibaka, they’ve got a history together with Matt Barnes sort of being a tough guy though not a great player. Serge Ibaka is probably the elite shot blocker in the NBA right now, here’s the play by play (http://scores.espn.go.com/nba/recap?gameId=400488995 ) By the way, avid NBA fans know that this happens half a dozen times throughout the NBA season. The story that made bigger news afterwards was Matt Barnes tweeting the N-word! Riley Cooper, Richie Incognito and now Matt Barnes; he tweeted “I love my teammates like family, but I’m DONE standing up for these n—as! All this s— does is cost me money. …” the tweet was later deleted.

Here’s what Clippers coach Doc Rivers had to say, reacting to that tweet “I think he was very emotional by the fact that he been thrown out of the game, so I get that part. The choice of words obviously…that’s a word I’m not a fan off in all venues” For the record, Matt Barnes has a history of racial tension, his life was threaten in high school by skinheads, so he’s had a racial chip on his shoulder. So I’m not here to attack Matt Barnes, he’s lived a different life than I have. Riley Cooper, Richie Incognito, Matt Barnes, the most disgusting and vile word in our vernacular and lexicon is back folks! Of course, it’s back in an adjusted form. You know, if you just put an “a” on the end of slurs it’s not as slurry! Hmm, okay so that’s the new rule. Just put an “a” at the end of vile words and it’s no longer a slur! But you know what? Major corporations and hip hop stars, if you start selling the word to the masses, don’t be shocked if people start using the word more regularly.  Black hip hop stars sell the word to the free market, guess what? Non-African Americans buy the CD’s, they love the songs, they’re catchy, they’re formidable, and think its okay to start using the word now.

So the N-word is center stage again in the world of sports! Oh but it was off the market for a while – understandably and appropriately so. But major corporations, the media – whom lean left as I do, are outraged by the word “Redskin” but when it comes to the N-word “hey, it’s less slurry now” terrific! Jay Z uses it eight times in his song Holy Grail that he only co-sings with Justin Timberlake. If you sell a word to the masses, you better know that not only those who think they have a right to use it will use it! It’s funny; we pick and choose don’t we? Gronkowski says something… we’re cool with it, but that another guy says something…we’re not cool with it. “Redskin?” outrageous!!  The N-word? “Well, I mean they’re artists…you know, they are adding an “a” at the end, it’s not the intent but rather…” So the new rule is: just add an “a” to slurs so I guess if I say “Redskins(a)” we’re okay with it right? My opinions on slurs are: once a slur, it’s off the market and that goes for everybody because it’s outright demeaning. But I guess I’m clearly in the minority on this one. Riley Cooper, Matt Barnes, Richie Incognito…people now defend the word! Once outraged, people now defend it. “Hey, it’s just like saying dude!” Oh okay, alright then…so I guess now the next move for me is to just not be outraged by it right? Or it depends  on who says it or if I use an “a” at the end….I guess I just have to keep up with the new stuff on slurs, it’s part of our lexicon again so I just have to keep up with slurs because you obviously want to know what you can say and can’t say…awesome!

Onto a story that I read this week, so the largest youth program in the U.S, Pop Warner, saw participation rates drop by 9.5% over the last three years “A sign that the concussion crisis that began in the NFL is now having a dramatic impact” According to data provided to ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” Pop Warner lost about 24,000 players, the largest two year decline ever. The downward trend in youth football coincides with a series of reports released from prestigious academic institutions and medical journals about football and brain damage. Colin Cowherd, host of the “The Herd” on ESPN radio recently came out with his book “You Herd Me!: I’ll Say It If Nobody Else Will” it’s a great book, almost done reading it. He dedicates an entire column and argues brilliantly on why soccer, over the next 10 years, is here to stay in North America. The reason is simple, baseball has lost the urban/city kid and football is now losing the suburban kid. When Green Bay Packers TE Jermichael Finley, a couple of weeks ago, was taken off the field on a stretcher on national TV – delayed the game for twelve minutes. Mom’s across the U.S and Canada saw that, looked at their sons and said to themselves “Nope…Done!” Why do TV ads target moms? 85% of household income decisions, according to a recent study, 85% of the time mom’s make the decision. When it comes to kids’ decisions? They make about 99% of them!

Notice recently how Rob Lowe and Dr. Oz, very popular TV personalities among woman, are now doing “I love football” commercials? You notice how the NFL now has a new line with Victoria Secret targeting young woman…why? They will become future mom’s! 98% of guys think they make the decisions when in fact 98% of women actually do. Every time I see a football player taken off the field on a stretcher, you know what I think? I think Roger Goodell – commissioner of the NFL, is sitting there watching and if he hasn’t made the call, he’s certainly thought about it “call the networks, tell them to go to a commercial, a producer piece, back to Joe Buck and Troy Aikman in the booth, show something else” Every time there are one of these moments, where Jermichael Finely is taken off the field, and for those of you who saw it, you were certainly thinking the exact same thing I was thinking…you know you were, you were sitting there thinking “man, this is a bad look for the NFL”

The NFL has shown and used leverage on the networks “Hey, don’t show idiots who run onto the field” next time you see a stretcher and a player hurt, I want you all to pay attention to what that network shows, and the NFL is now on every network. Don’t be surprised if you see increased production packages, they go back to the booth, they go to crowd shots…don’t’ be surprised! If the NFL hasn’t made that call, they’re certainly thinking about it. But when you have Jermichael Finley sitting there for twelve minutes, you were thinking the exact same thing I was “that is a bad look for the league” now Pop Warner stats are out! Next time you see a major injury, watch carefully on what is shown, don’t be surprised if there’s production packages “let’s go to another commercial” or “let’s go up to the guys at the booth” or “crowd shots” it’s all coming slowly but surely!


Week # 7 Picks

Record after Week # 6: 20-10-0 = 66% (4-1 in Week # 6)

Pick #1:  Cardinals (+6.5) @ Vikings – Cardinals win it, 17-16

This game is about defense and special teams, I don’t care if it’s Kevin Kolb or John Skelton starting. Arizona has already beaten New England on the road, they beat Philadelphia last year on the road and had the Ravens, in Baltimore, down 24-6 – they are not a bad road team. The Cardinals are holding people to 16 ppg and let’s be honest about Minnesota – Leslie Fraser is a good coach but he is super conservative, 6 ½ points is a ton to give anyone in this football game. Christian Ponder, in his last 2 games (people are getting more film on him) has 4 TD’s but 4 INT’s as well. Arizona’s defensive coordinator Ray Horton does a phenomenal job on dialing up pressure packages that can create turnovers and get you to the quarterback. Percy Harvin is the offense right now – everybody is getting film, everybody is seeing that they are being super conservative with Christian Ponder. I get an outstanding defense and almost a touchdown, I’m not sure if they win but I’m taking the 6 ½ points, Arizona narrowly wins it 17-16.

 

Pick #2:  Titans (+3.5) @ Bills – Titans win it, 28-27

This one’s a weird one, I don’t like either one of these teams, but I get a field goal with Tennessee. Firstly, the Bills are god awful against the run – worst in the NFL at 170 yards per game, an absolute mess! They have been poor all year. Linebackers for Buffalo? No other way to put it other than to say that a scout reported earlier in the week that they’re just slow and Chris Johnson isn’t! He had a respectable game last week with over 90 yards against the Steelers. Now on offense, the Titans have Matt Hasselbeck and they’ve got excellent offensive tackles in Michael Roos and David Stewart as they both are playing very well in protection. Right now, Tennessee has got a very deep and healthy group of receivers at their disposal now that Kenny Britt has returned from injury and had a long week to heal. In the end, the Titans have extra time, their offense is getting healthy, Hasselbeck – against this defense, should have time to throw and pick a part a weak backend. I’m taking Tennessee and the points to win this game, 28-27.

 

Pick #3:  Cowboys (-2.5) @ Panthers – Cowboys win it, 27-17

Listen, Cam Newton right now – he’s not getting better, has 6 turnovers in 5 games, fumbled 3x in which his team luckily recovered the ball. Tony Romo makes his mistakes of course, but the difference is that he’ll have a much better defense at his disposal. Defensive linebacker and defensive back – the Cowboys have huge advantages in this game. Carolina is 13th in defense IN THE NFC! By the way, the offensive line for Tony Romo? Sacked only once in Baltimore, has not been under constant duress which is very good progress! The return of Phil Costa at center helped a great deal. The Panthers by the way are not a great pass rush defense. Here’s another issue: Romo is getting better protection and the Panthers’ cornerbacks are just okay, but their safeties have been a major liability when in coverage. Dallas is a better all around team, significantly better on defense, I think they control both lines of scrimmage and Dallas wins this game comfortably 27-17.

 

Pick #4:  Redskins (+6) @ Giants – Giants win it, 27-26

Now again, this is more about “betting against the masses” because the masses tend to get high/low, high/low. Rule of thumb…bet against the masses! All the masses right now love the Giants. The Giants are returning from a huge West Coast win and who do they play after this game? The Dallas Cowboys! New York is going to be flat, they do this every year. By the way, as a home favourite, they are only 7-16-1 at home against the spread. Right now RG3 is athletic, showing great poise; tremendous running game helps behind him. Now of course, Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Jason Pierre-Paul (who by the way, is not having a great year so far) are all ferocious pass rushers. But Washington has 2 formidable tacklers with good size and athleticism in Trent Williams and Tyler Polumbus. The Redskins have an excellent ground game, they have versatility with RG3, and they can control the line of scrimmage and limit the Giants’ oppoutunities. This is betting against the public – it’s a perfect oppourtunity to seize on the masses. The Redskins getting 6 – I don’t know if they win, but don’t forget they beat the Giants twice last season and controlled both games, I’ll say Giants 27-26 but you have to take the 6 points.

 

Pick #5:  Steelers (-1.5) @ Bengals – Steelers win it, 30-24

I am predicting that Pittsburgh will have a very solid next 2 months as they are 15-6 under Mike Tomlin, extra rest should help their veteran players like LaMarr Woodley. Now, the Steelers are best when they can utilize a good mixture of run and pass, Rashard Mendenhall is back in the lineup. Don’t forget that the Bengals are inconsistent defending the run. They have also been inconsistent in protecting Andy Dalton whose been sacked 17 times in 6 games. The advantage here is that Pittsburgh, a tremendous 3rd down team, with Emmanuel Sanders, Antonio Brown, Mike Wallace and Heath Miller – real weapons and the Bengals are all banged up in the secondary. The Steelers have their backs against the wall, they need to stay within striking distance of the Ravens – I don’t dislike the Bengals but I’m taking the better team here and swallowing the points, swallow the 1 ½ , 30-24 on Sunday Night Football.


Pick #1:  Raiders (-9) @ Falcons – Falcons win it, 31-20.

It’s at Atlanta and it’s a big number at (-9) but the Falcons are averaging 30 a game and the Raiders’ offense is depending too much on Carson Palmer – an aging, past his prime Carson Palmer. Aside from the offensive line, I don’t see the Raiders – maybe special teams (slight edge) having an edge with any unit. Quarterback, running back, wide receiver, offensive line, linebackers and secondary are all edges for Atlanta. Oakland’s defense could be overmatched as their not only struggling to cover out wide, but their defensive front is not mounting much of a pass rush. That is a problem because Matt Ryan, especially at home, is money. He is completing his passes – 13 TD’s and only 3 INT’s thus far. Carson Palmer is aging okay? You can’t depend on aging quarterbacks past their prime and to carry you along with the Raiders not being able to run the ball with any consistency. The Raiders’ linebackers are talented but their much stronger defending the run than they are in coverage and right now, Atlanta is using their passing game as well and as efficiently as anybody in the league. Swallow the points and take Atlanta to win it, 31-20 over Oakland.

Pick #2:  Lions (+3.5) @ Eagles –Lions win it, 24-20

I get Detroit, a team that’s enigmatic, has some issues and get (+3.5) points. First of all, Philadelphia is just not a great home team. In their last 13 home games, they are 3-9-1 against the spread. The Lions are a motivated group called “over-rated” by a rival GM this week. Quarterback? Huge edge Detroit – I’m not a Vick guy. “O” and “D” lines? Big edge Lions. Vick has been a turnover machine 11 INT through 5 games but it’s also the harassment he has been dealt – 14 sacks, he’s being treated like a hotel room is by a rockband, he is in constant trouble. Suh has had a rough week – another off-field incident, he’ll play inspired football against the makeshift “O” line. Philadelphia makes too many mistakes, they are winning games they could’ve easily lost and I find a Detroit team, inspired, in a must-win situation. Take the +3.5 points, Detroit wins 24-20.

Pick #3:  Bills (+4.5) @ Cardinals – Cardinals win it, 21-20

 One of the things I remember hearing on the Scott Van Pelt show a couple of years ago is: when there is a game on that everybody is sure is going one way in the NFL. It’s really going the other way. Buffalo is getting +4.5 at Arizona. Buffalo has been clobbered the last couple of weeks. But don’t kid yourself, +4.5 points is a ton against an Arizona team that hasn’t produced 300 yards in any game so far. Their offensive line is the worst in the league allowing 17 sacks in the last couple of games. Buffalo? Though not good as expected up front defensively, has a pretty solid defensive line. What Buffalo does is run the football when Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller are healthy and they’re getting healthier. There is no other way around this, Arizona has been super lucky! Now, they’re 11-3 in their last 14 games but 5 of those have been in overtime. The Bills’ running backs that have been fighting injuries all season are now healthy. Their “O” line is a vastly underrated group. Kevin Kolb has been sacked an amazing 17 times over the past 2 weeks

Pick #4:  Colts @ Jets (-3) – Jets win it, 27-20

I think this goes down – I feel this game for New York as it feels like a very huge game for Rex Ryan, huge for Mark Sanchez and huge for Tony Sperrano. I don’t feel like it’s huge for the Colts because the Colts are going on the road for the 1st time since opening week and are coming off a highly emotional upset win. They’ve got a cluster of injury issues on the “O” line; Robert Mathis is out on their “D” and Dwight Freeney isn’t as productive as his name. Huge edge for the Jets is at linebacker, special teams, and secondary. The Colts have been rushing the football, which should only help Rex Ryan. Now, Reggie Wayne has been terrific for the Colts. The Jets do a very good job when you’re a team with one star receiver. Revis is out but Cromartie is more than capable on the perimeter. I think the New York Jets – who showed some real fight on Monday night, come back and continue to be the most criticized team with a decent record. Jets win; swallow the points 27-20.

Pick #5:  Cowboys (+3.5) @ Ravens – Cowboys win it, 24-23


After Week # 4, Season record:  13-7-0

 

Pick #1:  (-7) Packers @ Colts – Packers win it, 30-17.

That’s a lot of points to swallow, but after dealing with the 9ers, Bears and Seahawks in Seattle, it’s kind of nice to face a bad AFC team. They play indoors, it’s what Brady, Manning and Rodgers want as there is no wind indoors for the better offenses. At quarterback, the OL and Special teams? Huge edge Green Bay! As far as coaching, Chuck Pagano was diagnosed earlier this week with treatable leukemia, so he’s out! I think that severely damages a young football team. Rodgers got beat up in Seattle and Green Bay hasn’t been sacked, Rodgers that is, in his past 67 drop backs – a massive improvement. The Colts’ Reggie Wayne can be trouble but Tramon Williams of the Packers, one of the best cover men in the NFL, will negate his afternoon. Green Bay’s secondary (Sam Shields, Casey Hayward) have overachieved this year, they’re really good players. Rodgers has been absolutely superb in the red-zone, has no discernible weakness. The Colts’ offensive line with Clay Matthews on fire is a huge weak spot. Green Bay wins it; I’ll easily swallow the points, 30-17.

Pick #2: (+3) Seahawks @ Panthers –Seahawks win it, 21-20

I get 3 points and I get the better team! Seattle has the 2nd stingiest run defense, 63 yards a game is all that they give up, what does that mean? Cam Newton is going to have to throw – no thank you! I don’t trust him. Seattle’s pass rush is really good and they’re secondary is absolutely outstanding! Now, there are parts about the Seahawks that I don’t like – they lead the NFL in pre-snap penalties (what’s new, it’s a Pete Carroll team, they lack detail like USC did when he was there) But I get Seattle +3 and I get the better team. Russell Wilson up until this point has been managing games, thrown fewer passes than any other starter in the league and their asking him to manage the games – I’m okay with that right now. I feel like I get an absolutely superior defense, an absolutely superior special teams and at least Wilson won’t lose the game for me. I’m taking the points, Seattle goes cross country – they have been bizarrely affected when flying cross-country like when they beat the Giants (remember that?) take Seattle to win it, 21-20.

Pick #3:  Chargers @ Saints (-3.5) – Saints win it, 31-21

I’ve been taking a lot of dogs this year and it’s paid off so far – but this weekend feels like a favourites weekend to me, so take the Saints at (-3.5). San Diego’s lone dome stadium game – first time they are playing on artificial turf since last year when they got smoked by Detroit. Remember what this game means: Sunday night at the Superdome, Drew Brees is going for a record, it will be an absolute nuthouse. Don’t kid yourself about San Diego – did you know Kansas City out gained them with 6 more first downs? The problem with the Chiefs though is that they keep turning it over. Drew Brees at home – for all the criticism this year, he’s still on pace for 40 TD’s, over 5,000 yards and 67% completion. Special teams? Edge Saints! Jimmy Graham creates major match up issues for San Diego down the middle. New Orleans’ running game with Mark Ingram, Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas darting, pounding and slashing guys gives you a lot of different looks and New Orleans showed signs of regaining their swagger, even though they lost to Green Bay. I think San Diego is in trouble and I’m taking New Orleans to win comfortably, 31-21.

Pick #4:  Eagles @ Steelers (-3.5) – Steelers win it, 31-21

I love this game and nobody agrees with me, Pittsburgh is at home (getting starters back – key guys and veterans, smart players too) against Michael Vick, Steelers at (-3.5) I’ll take them all day. Listen, Steelers now have been sitting around resting and ticked off after that miserable performance against Oakland. Philadelphia, by the way, has 3 wins this season by a combined 4 points and is coming off a big rivalry game against New York and now Pittsburgh is sitting there. Don’t kid yourself; Big Ben at home is a different quarterback. At home? 45-15 TD’s to INT ratio in his last 30 home games so I’d give the edge at quarterback to the Steelers. Steelers also have a Special team’s edge and they are at home. The Eagles’ pass protection has been totally inconsistent with 11 sacks as Vick has been knocked down 18 more times than the next guy in the league. James Harrison is back, Troy is also back and Michael Vick in the end has a 57% completion rate, 4TD’s with 6 picks and in the redzone is atrocious. Philadelphia is 30th in scoring, are you kidding me? With all those weapons? Same score I had in the last game, Pittsburgh hammers Philadelphia, 31-21.

Pick #5:  Broncos @ Patriots (-6.5) – Patriots win it, 31-24

Why not keep going on favourites, you know that Vegas is going to hate me, but Belicheck has Stevan Ridley whose on pace to have 1400 yards and they also have a rookie running back in Brandon Bolden who has become a beast, it is a one/two punch. The Patriots love to spread the field and with Aaron Hernandez out – they are using 3-wide receiver sets, what does that mean? Von Miller is going to have to be in coverage, he’s okay as he is what he is as a pass rusher. Peyton Manning is effective on getting rid of the ball and avoiding sacks, but right now, Denver’s protection schemes appear to be a work in progress – ton’s of blown assignments. Brady is on fire!! He looks better than last year, Gronk and Welker have both eclipsed 100 receiving yards, now Buffalo is bad, but passing attacks – especially tight ends, have given the Broncos trouble this year. Despite popular opinion, the Patriots’ offensive tackles the offensive line has been pretty good this year: Brandon Bolden, Stevan Ridley have been pounding away in between the tackles. Devin McCourty, New England’s best cover guy, shutting down Demaryius Thomas. New England will challenge Manning to throw deep and right now, that is not his strength. New England wins it 35-24. I’ve been on the dogs all this year in my picks, decided to change it up and make it a favourites week.


When the real NFL ref’s do return – and I think it will be soon, fans will give referees a standing ovation! It’s never happened in the history of North American sports. It may be slightly sarcastic but I can assure that almost every single stadium hosting an NFL game will give the referees a stand ovation. It’s going to be absolutely hilarious because we’ve hated them for our entire lives and now we can’t wait to get them back.

I was thinking about this Monday night – terrible call obviously, Green Bay losing to Seattle. It was really a historic day as it was an absolute terrible call. Large corporations like the one I work for and like the one’s many of you reading this may work for – they always have more power than I do, you do and we regular workers do. Even if you’re a great employee, corporations have the power – it really stinks. But after Monday night’s Green Bay/Seattle butchered call, I believe it’s the first time in North America where part-time workers – remember, refs are part-timers. For the first time in North American history, part-time workers have more power than a major corporation because negotiations are all about “who has the leverage” Corporations have got the money, the brand. 99.5% of the time corporations have the negotiating leverage, rarely do you or I have it and that’s even if you’re good. But one of the ways you and I can get leverage from a big corporation is via bad press because they absolutely hate bad press, especially when it’s the worst kind of bad press – bad integrity press.

You can call ESPN all day “I don’t like what Skip Bayless said or what Stephen A. Smith said…Colin Cowherd is an idiot!” pfft they couldn’t give a rip about what you think. “I don’t like your programming, you shouldn’t have the Spelling Bee competition on” again, they couldn’t give a rip. But if you question their integrity you’ll have a bunch of suits running down the hall calling a big meeting. Did you hear what ESPN NFL Analyst Trent Dilfer said Monday night after the game? Where he basically said that you can sense now – especially after Monday night, where you’ve got 30 million people (estimate viewership of Monday night’s game) questioning the integrity of the NFL saying “The NFL has insulted my intelligence, has insulted your intelligence and everybody’s watching the game and the NFL is simply trying to tell us that this issue is not that big of a deal [refs lockout] and we have a multi-billion dollar machine and we’re letting this [ref blown call] ruin it, it’s ruining the very fabric of the game. You don’t hear Drew Brees – arguably the classiest guy in the NFL, come out and say what he said today [Monday] unless it’s a colossal issue. Players have never tweeted and done stuff out of such rebellion that they have been in, than today”

Whoa!! Worse kind of PR – integrity PR “you’ve got no integrity NFL” PR. I get emails, comments all day “I hate you, you don’t know what you’re talking about” etc my response? “So? I don’t give a rip” but if you question my integrity…that hurts! I don’t like that at all. “You stink, you’re a hag…” yeah whatever. But when you say that I have no integrity? That stings! Through 3 weeks, 16 games a week, via 47 games already played, the leverage has gone from the league  to these part timers. Don’t get me wrong, there are still tiny rain drops of criticism like Harbough getting challenges he shouldn’t have been allowed, Lions/Giants/Bengals/Redskin games where the officials marched off too many yards on penalties – it’s little stuff though, little rain drops of criticism. Game # 48 Monday night? The roof caved in!!  The complaints were all self-contained fires, Monday night however a 5 alarm, out of control ragger was created. 30 million people, Packers got hozzed, America loves the Packers , 47 games in which the NFL had leverage, game # 48 changes it all and gives it to the NFL refs. So the question now becomes: How much integrity heat does the NFL want to withstand?

I mean, you’ll still watch the games – its fall and you’re in Wisconsin, what are you going to do? Hit up the local Strawberries festival again? I mean seriously…what are you going to do? It’s the fall, it’s Wisconsin…you’re obviously going to watch the Packers! But again, how much is the NFL willing to digest because it’s certainly going to be awful. My gut feeling is that within the next 36 hours…it gets solved. The irony is that it took a really bad call to get the real guys back with more good calls and that’s usually the way negotiations work, where there is a tipping point. It’s as if someone came to replace me at work, but they weren’t as good, then my clients that I deal with start to complain to the corporation I worked for then my replacement drops an f-bomb, leverage then comes back to me. If you’re going to make a mistake as a ref…make it during Week # 3 of the pre-season, you do not make it on Monday night football game.

So the irony here is that a very atrocious call will actually end up getting us a lot more good calls and the real refs will come back. This is how North American negotiations work where corporations have leverage 99.5% of the time- Monday night however, the .5% won. Now there is not much confusion, I’m sure most of you have already seen by now the replay. It was like a perfect storm of incompetency where Seattle could’ve really been penalized for several different things. First of all, you can’t overturn possession with a replay – so whatever is called on the field is the call, when it comes to possession. So first of all #14 for Seattle (Charlie Martin) was using his arms to clear out Packers. They are never going to call that but that could be a penalty. Secondly, Tate pushed the player covering him and then thirdly, Tate didn’t have simultaneous possession of that ball at any point – it wasn’t close! But once the refs called the touchdown, you can’t overturn possession with a replay.

Jerry Markbeit, long time official but now retired, was on the Mike & Mike Show on ESPN radio Tuesday morning and basically said what he would’ve done in this mess “what I would’ve done is go to the other official – the back judge, and ask him “ why were you killing the clock and about to give a touchback signal – tell me what you saw” and when he would’ve told me that Tate had one arm on the ball, I would’ve then looked back on the touchdown and said “if the interceptor had both hands on the ball and if there was not simultaneous catch in the air, we’re going to go with the touchback” and I would’ve exerted my expertise – as with the other professional referee’s to get this call correct”

Yeah, I mean once the ref put his hands in the air and signaled a touchdown on what was clearly not simultaneous possession, it’s not that hard of a call. Like once he puts his hands in the air to rule it a touchdown –if you’re Green Bay, you are hosed at that moment because you can’t overturn possession on that kind of play with replay, your done! So what you would’ve seen with veteran refs – and they would’ve gotten it right had they been there, is them getting into a huddle and saying to one another “no no no, no simultaneous possession”


After Week # 2, Season record:  6-4-0

Buccaneers @ Cowboys (-7.5)

So what do we always do with the Dallas Cowboys folks (because they are America’s most popular team?) We overreact! They beat the Giants, so we say they are going to win it all. They then lose to Seattle and we think they are terrible. Don’t forget, the Buccaneers are atrocious in the secondary. Dallas does not match up well with teams who have top corners because they have tremendous skill people such as: Dez Bryant, Kevin Ogletree, Miles Austin and Jason Witten. But Tampa is a team that is old, immature and inconsistent in the back end. In fact, they’ve also had trouble getting pressure on the quarterbacks – so Romo is going to have enough time on the snap, he’s going to be at home and the weakness of the Cowboys – the offensive line, will not be threatened. Don’t overact in losing to Seattle last week – watch Green Bay this Monday night, Seattle and that defense can carve you up! Dallas rebounds, it’s a fat number that I’m telling you to play but I like the Cowboys to win and cover, 31-20.

Eagles @ Cardinals (+3.5)

You know where I’m going with this! Michael Vick has been picked off 6x, could potentially be 8x along with fumbling once though he managed to recover it. He’s a turnover machine and Arizona actually matches up pretty well. They weren’t very good last year and they still beat the Eagles on the road, scored as a double digit dog. Philadelphia – and schedules matter a lot in the NFL, are coming off an emotional win over the Ravens and host the Giants next week. This is what I would call a massive “trap game” for Philadelphia emotionally. Vick is already forcing a lot more passes this year; he’s starring down his primary receivers and the times he doesn’t do that is when he’s got space and time. But the defensive line and the linebackers for Arizona may be the most underrated in the league. They’ve got a loud crowd, they just beat the Patriots, it will be an absolute zoo, I’m taking the 3 ½ points, I think Arizona beats Philadelphia, 20-17.

 Bengals (+3) @ Redskins

The first thing you should know is that Washington is beat up! Adam Carriker and Brian Orakpo won’t play… translation? Andy Dalton is going to be a little bit more comfortable. Cincinnati’s defense – don’t make fun of the Bengals here, it’s been ranked in the top 10 2 of the last 3 years. The Bengals now have some film on RG3 – which the Saints didn’t have and you also saw how the Rams did some things differently. Cincinnati’s defense could also get a lift if Carlos Dunlap, their best pass rusher, becomes available. Never forget, athletic defenses that force quarterbacks into compromising positions are how you win games in this league. Cincinnati’s front 7 is excellent; RG3 is talented but very young. Special teams in close games are huge and the Bengals have outstanding return guys such as Brandon Tate and Adam Jones. Cincinnati’s got two veteran corners in Leon Hall and Nate Clements. I like Cincinnati in this game – again, young quarterback, veteran tough defense, an underdog. I’m taking the points; Cincinnati beats the Redskins, 27-23.

49ers @ Vikings (+7)

You say to yourself “ohh come on, 49er’s will crush them Andrew” on the road? The 49ers don’t crush a lot of teams and the Vikings at home get 7. Second time travelling to the Midwest in 3 weeks could be a letdown spot for the 49ers that have played in huge games – against the Packer and Lions. But now you’re going to Minnesota and playing the “lousy” Vikings, this is a classic letdown spot – even for Jim Harbough’s intensity. Also, Christian Ponder – Bill Musgrave, the Vikings offensive coordinator has done a really nice job with him, he’s rolling him out. Ponder is a really big and athletic kid, kinda like a Tannehill in Miami. Get him out of the pocket, get Percy Harvin, Adrian Peterson …he’s got some weapons. Right now, Randy Moss is the most overplayed guy in the league; he’s more of a decoy or a possession receiver than a real deep threat. San Francisco’s offense doesn’t make mistakes but it’s still pretty limited. 49ers end up winning this game but I’m taking a touchdown with the home team, 23-20 San Fran.

 Jets (-2.5) @ Dolphins

Alright, I’m telling you to swallow some points here because the Jets don’t score a lot of points. But the Dolphins beat the Raiders because of Reggie Busch; this is not the kind of team that you’re going to run wild on. Under Rex Ryan, he’s held Miami to 35 points in their last 3 meetings, that’s about 11 ½ points a game. Now Joe Philbin has got the west coast offense working but the reality is that Ryan Tannehill is young- what do young quarterbacks do with new offenses? They latch onto one or two receivers, everybody does that. Darrelle Revis is back for the Jets, you can take out Brian Hartline – and that’s who Ryan Tannehill loves to throw to right now. Is Anthony Fasano going to work me up and down the field? He’s a good tight end but he’s not going to do it. So in the end, I get a defense that has had Miami’s number, a young quarterback against Mark Sanchez – who is really a great road quarterback. I’m swallowing 2 ½ points – it might be my best bet of the weekend to be honest with you; Jets take it 24-13.