The labor dispute between the NFL and the NFLRA has officially claimed its first victim. Congratulations, Green Bay Packers! You may be the sacrificial lamb that finally breaks the stalemate between these two sides! After a rough outing in Week 2, the replacement refs were downright awful in Week 3, taking the focus away from some very exciting football and pushing players and coaches to the edges of frustration and they aren’t going to take it anymore. Players have started tweeting their frustration, one player reportedly told a referee to go “kill yourself,” during a game, and coaches have broken down and chased referees down the tunnel to tell them just how much they think of them (spoiler: NOT MUCH!). So with these terrible stand-ins in mind, we present a very special Biggest Meltdowns: Scab Ref Edition!
We start off the prognostication on a mildly high note, finishing the week 4-3 in our Week 1 picks (hooray for not being sub-.500!). We get back to our normal slate of five picks this week, and hope to match (or even exceed) the luke-warm success of last week. The games this week include some really terrible matchups that I wouldn’t want to wish on my worst enemies. Cleveland-Cincinnati, Buffalo-Kansas City, and Oakland-Miami sound like games that you would show to Guantanamo detainees when you needed them to talk. We don’t pick any of those games and send our deepest condolences to the markets that those games will be shown. Picks are in bold!
It’s Wednesday, so OF COURSE that means NFL football is starting! Because FOOOTBALL THAT’S WHY! The Dallas Cowboys open the season on the road against the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants, and have wasted zero time poking Big Blue with a stick to make sure they are good and riled up. Other notable games highlight Week 1 in the NFL, like the reincarnation of Peyton Manning as a Denver Bronco, and super-rookies Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III make their debuts surrounded by really crummy teams.
Most importantly, though, we get to return to real football. No more Double J talking about glory holes, no more train metaphors regarding the MJD holdout, and hopefully a downturn of Tim Tebow shirtless pictures in the rain. Just football.
So who wins? Picks are in bold after the jump! Let’s gooooooo!
Have you heard about this Tim Tebow character? Apparently he played in some sort of playoff game or something yesterday? It hasn’t been covered too much in the media so I can understand if you’re a little fuzzy on the details. In short, after three weeks of looking downright terrible, Tim Tebow returned to the inexplicably extraordinary play that propelled Denver into first place in their division with a 29-23 overtime win against the Pittsburgh Steelers and their number one rated defense. Tebow finished the day with 316 yards passing (more on that later) and two touchdowns, with another 50 yards rushing and a touchdown. The game was Tebow’s most complete of the season, finishing with his second highest QB rating of his career and the highest in Broncos postseason history. The result was…surprising, to say the least. While Tebow still wasn’t efficient (finishing 10-for-21 passing), he made the Steelers pay for stacking the box against the run consistently, completing 5 passes of 30-yards or more, nearly doubling the Steelers total 30+ yard passes allowed the entire regular season, including three passes of 50-yards or more, all to Demaryius Thomas. His passes (that were completed) looked crisp and accurate and very un-Tebowish, especially when looking at his last three games of the regular season. So how did this happen? We break the factors that helped Denver pull off the win after the jump.
The NFL playoffs have arrived and the college bowl season is winding down. Fans in the local markets of terrible NFL teams like the Rams and Buccaneers will no longer have to suffer through a wasted Sunday watching their awful regional sports team stink up the field. The march to the Super Bowl begins this weekend with some great wild card matchups…and a couple pretty forgettable ones. College football is also in its final stretch, with the season wrapping up on Monday with the National Championship game between LSU and Alabama, or “Kick-fest 2: Electric Boogaloo,” as I’ve come to endearingly call it. Last week’s picks went respectably well at 6-4-0 (any week where I get more right than wrong is a win) bringing the overall for the year to 66-57-4. This week, we answer the pressing questions, such as: How did the BBVA Compass Bowl and Godaddy.com Bowl ever get scheduled after New Years Day, and will anyone be watching? Will anyone cross the goal line in the National Championship game? Can Matt Stafford for 500 yards and 5 touchdowns and lose again? Will any passes get completed in Denver this weekend? Is there anyone excited to see Houston and Cincinnati play in the playoffs besides their own fans? As always, picks are in bold.
James Harrison has made a name for himself for being one of the meanest, hardest hitting linebackers in football. He’s also become infamous for being violator number one of the NFL’s increased penalties for illegal hits, constantly being fined for hits to quarterbacks and receivers that have caused numerous concussions and contributed to Harrison’s fractured orbital bone suffered earlier this season. The hit on McCoy marks his fifth illegal hit on a quarterback to go along with two other unnecessary roughness fines in the three seasons since the NFL began emphasizing “player safety,” or “covering our PR bases” as it’s also known. While the league had promised suspensions for repeat offenders when the practice of fines started, no player had been suspended up to this point, despite Harrison’s repeated offenses and public proclamations that he would continue to do that same things again. Turns out, just seven strikes and you are out…for a game…pending an appeal. Man, that Roger Goodell sure does rule with an iron fist, huh?
After weeks of my picks struggling, having my faith in teams’ ability to beat a spread shattered, it seemed like the likelihood of seeing a good week of picks again this season was about the same as seeing hippos dancing ballet. Well, bust out the oversized point-shoes, cause we’ve had ourselves a Thanksgiving miracle! Last week’s increased number of picks turned out well, picking right 2 to 1 in games last week, finishing 12-6-2 to bring the overall record for the season to 51-46-4 (back over .500 woo-hoo!). This week the college football regular season wraps up with conference championships galore which will give us some clarity into the BCS picture and several NFL playoff scenarios will likely be killed off by Sunday night. Let’s keep the good picks rolling! My picks are in bold.
If you haven’t seen The Sandlot, the wonderful coming of age tale of a group of young men playing baseball, please exit the internet immediately and fix that terrible oversight. For those of us who have seen the film, one of it’s most poignant lessons we took away from it was that telling someone they played like a girl was the single biggest insult you could possibly say to someone. In the war of words, “You play ball like a girl,” was the nuclear option, the end of the discussion. All that was left after that was to prove it on the field. You know who has for sure seen The Sandlot? John Harbaugh and he learned its lessons well.
As everyone knows, the NFL has taken a hard stance on helmet to helmet hits in games in an attempt to prevent serious brain injuries. They’ve made helmet to helmet hits a 15-yard personal foul in game and each hit is reviewed by the league office and fines are handed out to egregious offenders. One team that seems to have had extreme difficulty adjusting to the rule changes has been the Pittsburgh Steelers whose defense leads the league in fines for illegal hits. One repeat offender, safety Ryan Clark, came out last week and said he was going to be smarter about personal fouls, which seemed to mean he would avoid helmet-leading tackles, but old habits die hard. On Sunday, Clark was flagged for an illegal hit on Ravens tight end Ed Dickson and today Clark has been fined $40,000 by the league office. Clark seems to be taking it all in stride, though…
Week 9 is nearly in the books, and that means most teams have played through half of their schedule. Some division races are starting to take shape (pretty sure the 49ers have already clinched) while some are only getting more muddled (AFC East and West have 3-way ties for first). The weekend that was gave us plenty of exciting finishes and defensive letdowns, which gives us the fodder for Biggest Meltdowns, so thanks again professional athletes for your continued failures! This week, the Chiefs ruin Miami’s bid for Andrew Luck, the Titans make the Bengals look good for another week, Pittsburgh gets Pittsburg’d, the Patriots suffer a flashback, and the Raiders forgot what Tim Tebow does best (hint: it isn’t throw).