NFL Picks: Replacement refs are losing controlPublished 10:04am Thursday, September 20, 2012
Before I get to this week’s picks, I have a short rant on the replacement refs. I’m sure just about anyone who watched NFL highlights this past week saw footage of Washington’s Josh Morgan throwing the ball in the face of St. Louis’s Courtland Finnegan, which resulted in a 15-yard penalty and forced the Redskins to attempt a 62-yard game-tying field goal instead of a 47-yarder at the end of the game.
First off, what Morgan did was indefensible and blatantly foolish. Any time you throw a ball at an opponent on purpose, you’re probably getting flagged.
But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t see Morgan’s penalty, or one like it, coming. Not only was he pushed by Finnegan as he was getting up from the catch, but the game had already gotten out of control on St. Louis’s previous possession.
While the Rams were looking to grind out the clock, a running play was stopped and the whistle was blown. Then a few bodies were tangled up and before you knew it, a team fight nearly broke out. One of the Rams’ offensive linemen went as far to jump on a Redskins player and hold him down as if were going for a pin in a wrestling match. There was plenty of pushing and shoving, but not one flag, so I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that players on both teams were thinking ‘these refs aren’t calling anything.’
So maybe Morgan was still thinking about that previous skirmish when he threw the ball and maybe he was just lost in the moment.
Either way, these refs need to control the games or it won’t be long before the NFL has a real fight that results in real injuries and lots of bad press on its hands.
Here are the picks:
New York Giants at Carolina
As will be the case for a lot of Thursday games this year, the Giants are dealing with a slew of injuries and with only a few days to recover, N.Y. will be playing shorthanded. New York’s secondary has already shown it couldn’t cover a housefly with a 10-foot sleeping bag and Cam Newton will be rolling at home on national TV.
PANTHERS 27, GIANTS 23
Tampa Bay at Dallas
The Cowboys are like one of those old magic eight balls that give you random answers when you shake them. I have no idea which Dallas team will show up and the Bucs have been feisty.
However, I can’t see the Cowboys laying two stinkers in a row.
COWBOYS 30, BUCS 21
Jacksonville at Indianapolis
Two bad teams, but one has a quarterback on the rise in Andrew Luck, who I think showed some big things against the Vikings.
COLTS 23, JAGUARS 17
Buffalo at Cleveland
The Bills were crushed in their opener and then dominated in their second game. One of those two outcomes was probably a fluke, but I’m not sure which one it was. Since the Browns are winless and rely on two rookies to carry their offense, I’ll give the Bills a chance.
BILLS 21, BROWNS 10
New York Jets at Miami
The Jets would be the favorite, but Reggie Bush ran wild last week and that could’ve given the Dolphins some life. One thing’s for sure, with the game being played in Florida, there is very high chance of Tebow chants breaking out.
It will be interesting to see how Mark Sanchez handles it.
JETS 24, DOLPHINS 13
Kansas City at New Orleans
The Saints may be 0-2, but they can’t lose at home with their backs to the wall. Can they?
SAINTS 41, CHIEFS 17
Cincinnati at Washington
The Redskins could’ve been 2-0 after a tough loss in St. Louis, but this will be their biggest test yet as a Bengals team that could make the playoffs again comes to town. I think I need to look past the greatness of Robert Griffin III and note that the Bengals probably have the better squad.
BENGALS 20, REDSKINS 17
St. Louis at Chicago
The Bears are in absolute disarray. Jay Cutler followed up one of the worst games of his career by basically blaming his teammates and Brandon Marshall was invisible against a Packer defense that struggles against receivers like Marshall.
Meanwhile Sam Bradford was magnificent in a comeback win over Washington. Things could be about to get a lot worse in Chicago.
RAMS 27, BEARS 24
San Francisco at Minnesota
Maybe it’s wishful thinking on my part, but I think the ingredients for an upset are in place. You have a 49ers team that’s been told how great it is by the national media heading into a hostile environment against a young team that doesn’t have much to lose and would love to make a national statement.
Watch this one closely Vikings fans; you’re about to find out what Christian Ponder is made of.
VIKINGS 19, 49ERS 16
Detroit at Tennessee
Chris Johnson has not been himself for the past two seasons.
LIONS 35, TITANS 17
Atlanta at San Diego
The Falcons are gaining a lot of steam and Matt Ryan is doing a great Peyton Manning impersonation right now.
I remember a Sports Illustrated article a few years back that was predicting quarterbacks of the future. The magazine predicted Aaron Rodgers would be the second best QB and Ryan would be No. 1.
If that’s true, it’s time for Ryan to start putting together complete seasons and good postseason runs.
This may be his year.
FALCONS 27, CHARGERS 20
Philadelphia at Arizona
Two undefeated teams who barely won their first two games face off in a tough-to-predict matchup. The Eagles and Cardinals both bring it on defense, but the Eagles have Mike Vick and LeSean McCoy, while the Eagles have Kevin Kolb and Ryan Williams.
EAGLES 17, CARDINALS 10
Pittsburgh at Oakland
The Raiders are probably gonna be the Raiders again.
STEELERS 26, RAIDERS 10
Houston at Denver
The Texans first real test comes in Denver, where it’s very tough to play. I really haven’t seen much of Houston this year, but I do remember that they almost knocked off Baltimore with TJ Yates at quarterback last season.
TEXANS 30, BRONCOS 23
New England at Baltimore
The Patriots are going to be welcomed like a criminal who breaks into your house at night by the Baltimore crowd. A lot of Ravens fans are probably still thinking about Lee Evans’ dropped TD pass that could’ve knocked the Pats out in the AFC title game last year.
I think the Ravens probably remember that play too, and I think they’ll be pretty pumped up under the lights at home.
RAVENS 21, PATRIOTS 17
Green Bay at Seattle
We still haven’t seen the Packer’s vaunted high-powered offense and I’m not sure we will see it this week either. The good news for Green Bay is Seattle has the type of offense the Packers can contain.
The Seahawks don’t really have any big play receivers who can stretch the defense and if Marshawn Lynch doesn’t tear it up, they’ll have a tough time establishing the play-action passing game.
As a Badger and Packer fan, I’ll be a little torn to cheer against Seahawks QB Russell Wilson, who led UW to the Rose Bowl last year. But I guess it’s just one game.
I think the Packers pull out a quality win, followed by one hundred ESPN commentators screaming ‘What’s wrong with Aaron Rodgers?” and is “Aaron Rodgers overrated?”
PACKERS 23, SEAHAWKS 17
Last week: 9-7; Overall: 19-13