NFL Picks: Send out the clowns; bring in the refs

Published 9:40 am Thursday, September 27, 2012

Can we start the NFL season now?

The NFL finally got its act together and brought back the real refs for this week. After last week’s foolishness that saw a Seahawks’’ fan/gambler/incompetent high school ref think holding a player with the ball on top of you is the equivalent to catching a touchdown, we need some sanity in football.

I know the regular NFL refs are far from perfect and we’ll still hear complaints about calls, but I’m willing to bet they get a standing ovation when they’re names are called on Thursday and Sunday. I couldn’t believe the vast difference between the regular refs and the fake refs and never imagined it would be the circus it was.

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I think the biggest change you’ll see is an offensive explosion. From what I watched of the Saints and Packers – two of the most explosive offenses in the league last year – in the first three weeks, it was pretty clear the fake refs allowed way too much contact down the field and it slowed down the fast break pace that the NFL has come to embrace.

Every time an announcer was spouting off about how the coverage was so good against the Packers on Monday night, they cut to a clip that showed every Packer receiver being held or at least shoved around a little.

If nothing else, the three-week disgrace does put the old-time NFL records (like Dan Marino’s) in a better light, because it used to be standard for defensive backs to be able to manhandle receivers down the field.

Either way, I’m just glad football is back.

Here are the picks:

Cleveland at Baltimore

I’m kind of disappointed that Torrey Smith’s Sunday night performance was overlooked by the national media. Here you have a guy who finds out his younger brother, who it sounds like he basically raised, died in the early morning hours of Sunday. Less than 12 hours later Smith goes out and hauls in over 100 receiving yards and two scores and the Ravens get their revenge victory over the Patriots.

I know he’s just a second-year player, but what Smith did was at least as impressive as what Brett Favre did on Monday night against the Raiders, when Favre had a great game just a few days after his father’s death.

There were shots of Smith crying during the game and he had to be consoled by teammates just to get through it. It should’ve been a bigger story because the NFL needs some good vibes right now


Carolina at Atlanta

I had to laugh out loud when ESPN asked the question ‘is Cam Newton still an elite quarterback?’ the other day. I remember when we didn’t worry about things like who is elite at their position and we mostly cared about which teams won the most games.

Newton played on a non-playoff team last year and the Panthers are headed in the same direction again this year. Why even talk about the guy?

Matt Ryan, however, is one of the top QBs in the game.


New England at Buffalo

The Patriots felt they were cheated on close field goal against the Ravens and maybe they were right. To me the, television angles showed that the kick was good, but field goals can be very tricky to judge unless you have a straight angle.

The fact that the fake ref wasn’t even standing directly under the goal post makes the decision hard to swallow for Pats fans.

I can’t remember the last time the Pats lost three in a row and I doubt it’ll happen against the Bills.


Minnesota at Detroit

Hey Viking fans, you know the drill. The team looks impressive against one of the best teams in the league at home, gets a taste of confidence and then goes on the road and plays the worst game possible.

The scariest thing about what Minnesota is doing is how they continue to pound Adrian Peterson, who is less than a year removed from an ACL tear. I’ll give AP credit for being a gamer, but he could be out of the league within two or three years if he doesn’t let himself heal properly.


San Diego at Kansas City

I have no grasp for either of these teams yet, so this is pretty much a wild guess.


Seattle at St. Louis

In a strange way, I feel bad for the Seahawks. They now have wins over the Cowboys and Packers in back-to-back weeks and I didn’t hear one national media member give them an ounce of credit.

Lost in the drama of the game’s final play, is the fact that Seattle sacked Aaron Rodgers eight times in a half and its defense could be one of the best in the league.


San Francisco at NY Jets

This would be the wrong week to bring in Tim Tebow, but I could see the Jets doing it to set him up for failure. You can’t run on the 49ers, whether it’s out of wildcat or out of the goal-line, that’s just the way it is.

I think Mark Sanchez gets off to a slow start and Rex Ryan gives him an early hook to save him the embarrassment and he puts Tebow in the Lion’s Den.

49ERS 31, JETS 7

Tennessee at Houston

It’s really hard for me to picture the Texans in the Super Bowl, but they continue to roll on. But I’m still waiting to see them face a major test before I crown them.


Cincinnati at Jacksonville

The Bengals are just solid. Nothing flashy, but they win games.


Miami at Arizona

The Cardinals are probably the biggest surprise team in the league. Their defense is lights out and the only thing keeping them from being true contenders is they don’t have a quarterback.

Unfortunately for the Cards, quarterback is kind of an important position in the NFL. Still, Arizona should handle Miami.


Oakland at Denver

All of the hype around Peyton Manning has quieted, but with the new refs back, I expect him to feast on secondaries once again. Manning, more than any other QB, relies on his receivers to run down the field untouched, so he can work in his timing routes.


New Orleans at Green Bay

Does it get any better than two of the last three Super Bowl Champs playing in what could be an elimination game for the loser in September?

With the NFL’s new schedule format, the season isn’t over for the loser as there are plenty of divisional games remaining for each team, but the loser will be in a big hole.

Expect desperation, expect trick plays, but most of all, expect fireworks.


Washington at Tampa Bay

I thought Tampa’s Josh Freeman was headed for a big season after a slump last year, but he looked helpless against the Cowboys.


N.Y. Giants at Philadelphia

The Giants got their mojo back.


Chicago at Dallas

I don’t think either team is that good, but the Cowboys’ defense can get at it. Jay Cutler will be very acquainted with the turf by the end of the first quarter.


Last week: 8-8; Overall: 27-21