Every week or so there’s an issue the sports press just loves to jump all over, and it’s usually some kind of personality scandal, but occasionally they latch onto a serious issue. Almost immediately, by overindulging in analysis and rash judgment, they lose all sense of proportion.
In football you get a flag for piling on. In journalism, they just call it gaining perspective.
The issue at hand in the NFL is the performance of the replacement referees, which seems to bug the whatzis out of certain high-profile sportswriters and commentators who have gotten all atwitter about how these guys are destroying the integrity and safety of their precious game.
As a fan, what I have noticed is that the guys are a little slower to make calls, counting too much on replay to bail them out of tough spots, being a lot slower in sorting through the inevitable chaos, all of which has put them in positions where experienced players and coaches have taken advantage of them. Gee, what a surprise!
The biggest impact seems to be the games are taking a little longer to complete. As if the league cares about that because that’s just more commercial time they can sell. I miss the regular refs as much as anybody (well, maybe not all of them), but they made their own brand of mistakes often enough. In this day and age striking over the fact your pension fund is changing from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan is ridiculous.
In 1972, defined benefit plans were the norm. Forty years later they are not economically sustainable. In our current fiscal environment these guys are lucky to have high-profile, high-paying, and part-time jobs like these. The league agreed to bump up their salaries by an additional $50 grand each, and a few extra perks. How many of us even make $50 grand total for a full-time job? Not me.
Like when the Chicago teachers went on strike and their average pay was $71,000. That makes it hard to have much sympathy for their plight.
This situation with the refs just feels personal and political, as if somebody has a point to make and scores to settle. The ongoing conflict does not serve the game, the fans, or the players (much less the refs) well at all and the press is not helping one bit (now there’s a surprise).
Jets at Dolphins – If ever there was going to be “Tebow Time” for Gang Green, this is it. It’s now or never! Play him or trade him. Miami’s not just going to roll over, and after last week’s performance Rex’s boys need some inspiration. My guess is they get it.
Lions at Titans – Somebody wake me when Tennessee develops a pass rush and coverage skills. Matt Stafford is going to fly all over these guys.
Bengals at Redskins – Cincy’s offensive line is beginning to leak badly, but Washington just took some major bites from the injury bug. The Redskins will score so this one is up to a Bengals’ defense that has its own share of holes. If the Bengals are going to step up to the next level, they have to beat a vulnerable team. Margin of victory: a field goal difference to the visitors.
Rams at Bears – A month ago I would never have thought this possible, but Jeff Fisher is working some defensive magic and the offense is performing in a disciplined fashion, at least enough of one to take the measure of a Chicago team suffering too many self-inflicted wounds.
49ers at Vikings – Randy Moss returns to the scene of past glories and has a field day, but nobody’s all that happy for him. It’s his own fault, really. San Fran may have some bumps in the road, but I don’t see any obstacles in Minnesota they can’t clear easily.
Buccaneers at Cowboys – Dallas comes home finally and most fans don’t know what to make of this team yet. They are capable of turning in a lights-out performance against anybody, and just as easily turning in the kind of performance best seen in the dark. Tampa Bay may be less talented but are proving more consistent, and when the tortoise and the hare face one another you know how the contest ends.
Eagles at Cardinals – Except for Arizona’s defense, nobody on the field in this one has earned much in the way of style points but who cares about that really when 2-0 is as good as you can get by week three. It’s certainly a surprise to notice the Cards, going back to last year, have won 9 of their last 11 games. I think two tough defensive struggles in a row exceed the tolerance of Mike Vick and this week his mistake at the wrong time winds up costing Philly dearly.
Falcons at Chargers – Game of the Day choice and now we see what kind of team San Diego really has. I for one don’t think they’re good enough. While the QBs are at least even, Atlanta has better receivers and a tougher running game.
Texans at Broncos – Game of the Day runner up and Houston’s defense is faster, more athletic and more able than most to keep rattling Peyton’s cage. Denver’s defense is about to get overwhelmed.
Steelers at Raiders – When a team just doesn’t have a clue what to do, what’s to do? Obviously you host the toughest defense in the game and be thankful when it’s over that nobody got kilt.
Patriots at Ravens – Since this is the Sunday night game it can’t very well be Game of the Day, now can it? Look forward to a slugfest, with Baltimore at home having an edge over a hobbled New England offense sputtering without Aaron Hernandez. The mad scientist known as “Hoodie” will have a scheme or two up his sleeveless garb, but we’ve just come to expect some things – shouldn’t be enough though.
Packers at Seahawks – There are a lot of factors in Seattle’s favor in this one. There’s the noise of the 12th man, the most hideous uniforms this side of the Oregon Ducks, the fact that fish is more pungent than Wisconsin cheese, but mostly a spectacular defensive secondary to disrupt Aaron Rodgers’ no-huddle style. I also like their quick and mobile quarterback with all the confidence of youth. Green Bay’s defensive front could be the difference, but they won’t get to their target often enough.