I guess you could say I was suffering through the Sunday night game broadcast from Cincinnati when one of those overhead shots of the stadium really got my notice.
Paul Brown Stadium is an architectural design that was somewhat controversial back when it was in the planning stages for its unusual appearance.
However I glossed over this particular viewpoint until Sunday when something about the motion and color of the crowded venue struck home on the right side of my brain.
The place is designed like a swirl and it’s really only noticeable from above, but that’s not the weird part.
The apparent rotation of this vortex is of course clockwise, meaning it is perfectly aligned with the coriolis force of the earth in the northern hemisphere.
This odd design choice thus gives the whole structure the apparent effect of perhaps being some giant’s toilet.
And now I understand. The Brown heirs have a sense of humor after all.
Buccaneers at Vikings – Sometimes the scouting report does you no good whatsoever. This one, however, points in an obvious direction. Like a compass, which means I’m facing north.
Here’s the easy part of it: Minnesota has yet to lose at home, while Tampa Bay has yet to win on the road. If they were all this easy, this little sideline commentary and prediction chore would be sweet as a Nawleanz Brees.
The hard part is Christian Ponder’s abilities in the passing game are still more than a little suspect and Tampa Bay will certainly do everything they can to keep Adrian Peterson from breaking big ones and make him pay dearly for all the small ones.
When the compass starts spinning you’re pretty much left with dead reckoning, and for that I still go with the home team with a winning record over the visitors trying to overcome a losing one.
Besides, the NFL Network’s Thursday showcase has yet to chart any major obstacles, but I remember a warning from the cartographers of yore: Beyond Here There Be Dragons! (And no, that’s not a Harlan reference.)
Seahawks at Lions - For all of Seattle’s struggles on the road, pass defense has not been one of them.
Right now beating Detroit really only requires you to play strong in the secondary because the Lions can’t seem to run the ball even in open lanes. The exception being those times when they put it on the ground in the red zone, for example in Chicago this past Monday night.
Matthew Stafford is just too talented to keep his passing slump going much longer, but this is the wrong team at the wrong time. Even the home crowd is no help because they all (and us too) expected something so much better.
Redskins at Steelers - This one has serious competitive potential. Even though everyone focuses on what Big Ben does or doesn’t do, Pittsburgh’s slowly developing running game will be what makes or breaks this team. They must have it this weekend, dominate possession and keep the clock to themselves as much as possible in order to control the outcome.
Pittsburgh has always been really good at taking certain things away from an offense, and RG3 is the critical element since he is a creative and efficient passer, an inspirational runner, and the focal point of any chance the Redskins have for success right now.
So there is no chance Dick LeBeau doesn’t have something extra special just waiting for the rookie’s first trip into the one and only field in western Pennsylvania named for my favorite brand of ketchup.
Falcons at Eagles - Atlanta has been getting to the finish line just inches ahead of the competition lately and were due for a minor fail, so their bye week came at just the right time. Now they are back with fresh legs and a record still free of blemish. It’s no fair (nor any fun) criticizing an undefeated team.
Then there is Philadelphia and their bye week of note. First we must recall the Eagles have not lost after a bye week in the 14 years Andy Reid has been their coach. Being at home after a much-needed break is a huge benefit, and that’s about the end of my pluses.
In the negatives, Philly’s getting desperate. Reid has made bold moves on the coaching staff. His next move will likely show Michael Vick the bench on his way to the door.
Offensive and defensive adjustments are common during games and throughout the season, but mid-season coaching changes alter the personality of the team and are the first step down the road of unintended consequences. Effective coaching is more about confidence in your direction at this time of year and Reid has all but called a Code Blue.
Perhaps that’s just what the venerable coach has in mind, and at this point he obviously could not expect change to just happen on its own. But there are no more simple truths in life than that found in the adage, “Be careful what you wish for.” I think they’re about to get it, and Reid’s bye week streak goes by the boards.
Panthers at Bears - Lots of folks predicted Cam Newton would suffer a bit from the dreaded sophomore slump. Nobody dreamed the entire Carolina roster would go along for the ride like they were inner-tubing down an Olympic slalom course.
Chicago is gathering its wins and storing them up like squirrels get nuts for the winter.
We’ll see how good they really are when the Texans-Niners-Vikings-Seahawks portion of their schedule rolls by before December gets rolling. Right now, they’re good enough for this one, especially playing at home in the oddball creation known as the new Soldier Field.
Colts at Titans - This is one of those contests that really doesn’t grab a lot of attention, but divisional games are always major efforts for the teams involved so catch this one if you can.
Playing at home with experience under center and Chris Johnson coming around (perhaps) at last from behind, you just have to give Tennessee the edge. Well, enough of one anyway.
But there’s plenty of youth, strength, speed and inexperience to go around on both squads so there’s no real upset either way this goes.
This should be one of the weekend’s unexpected pleasures.