Remember when NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was more than just Mr. Jane Skinner? When he ruled the NFL with an iron fist? I can still remember where I was when Sean Taylor was murdered in bed during a home invasion and Goodell fined his family $50,000. Maybe I’m a little off on details, but damn, where did that guy go? You would think that during an age of CTE and kneeling players and franchises jitterbugging up and down the California coast, ol’ Give ‘Em Hell Goodell would have stepped on a landmine or two for the league’s sake. Make himself the story to distract the press from all the other unpleasant business. Not this new-and-improved Roger. Right about the time the league needs a Trumpian commissioner, they’ve got an Obama-esque “Who, me?” figurehead running things now. “I read about the player protests in the Monday morning papers, same way all of you did.”
Whatever. The Chiefs are 4-0 after a stiff challenge by the visiting Redskins. The Rams are an impressive 6-10 team, DeShawn Watson is the greatest Houston quarterback since JJ Watt, and there is no sugarcoating it: The Raiders won’t be building on last season’s success this year. To the ScheduleMobile!
Kansas City @ Houston – Wherein the legend of DeShawn Watson grows…
Baltimore @ Oakland – Life without Carr’s gonna suck
LA Chargers @ NY Giants – The Resistable Force meets the Movable Object
Denver – Bye
If the Chiefs are a paper tiger, it’s apparent that it won’t be a division opponent exposing them. The Broncos appear to be one of those rare teams that are imbalanced in favor of the defensive side of the ball, like the 85 Bears, 00 Ravens, or 13 Seahawks. But you’ve got to have, at minimum, a caretaker-game manager QB whose main job is to not screw things up. Only six QBs have thrown more INTs than Trevor Simian so far. If he can’t straighten things out, The Broncs have Brock Ostweiler waiting in the wings. (Gives the phrase “QB Depth Chart” a whole new meaning, no?) Meanwhile, in Oakland, Derek Carr has a broken back which figures to hamper his mobility in the pocket. Was it because his O-line let him get decked over the Anthem Protests? If it is, I love the logic: Because I hate Trump, I’m going to do whatever I can to ruin our Super Bowl chances. And the Los Angeles Chargers are off to a fast start in the Josh Rosen/Sam Darnold draft sweepstakes. (Theory: a bureaucrat once fused the middle initial D with the last name Arnold generations ago and the family just went with it)
This is all disappointing. After the season the AFC West had last year, this year looks like the worst sequel to a hit since City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly’s Gold. I mean, KC finishes well ahead of Denver, Denver goes like 9-7, the Raiders backsliding and the Chargers tanking. Sound about right? Not exactly the photo finish of last year, is it?
Jacksonville @ Pittsburgh – Only because they’re the home team
Baltimore @ Oakland
NY Jets @ Cleveland – Okay, THIS is the week Cleveland finally wins
Buffalo @ Cincinnati – Hate to do it, but neither team is as good or bad as their record
OMWC hasn’t been this distraught since the crossing guards started wearing bodycams. His beloved Baltimore Ravens just ain’t worth a damn. Yes, they are 2-2; do wins over Cleveland and Cincinnati even count? They’ve scored 16 points in their last two games. Not “averaged”, total. Joe Flacco, the Ravens quarterback known nationally as “Joe Flacco”, was once the subject of a fairly heated debate a few years back. The question then: Is Joe Flacco an elite QB? This is Flacco’s 10th season. His current QB rating is 65.0, career 84. He’s only gone over 90 twice. His TD/INT ratio is 186/123. At this point, it’s pretty clear that Flacco is not an elite QB. Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Steelers sit atop this pile o’crud with STEVE SMITH still under center, Mikar Epplin at head coach (they’ve merged into a single entity by now), and Odell Beckham, Sr. as the star wideout. I’m tempted to predict losses for all four teams every week for the rest of the year, even in division games.
Kansas City @ Houston
Tennessee @ Miami – Chris Gaines had a better comeback than Jay Cutler’s having
Jacksonville @ Pittsburgh
San Francisco @ Indianapolis – Must miss TV
SETTING: Deep in the BOWELS of HOUSTON TEXANS corporate HQ, February 2017
BOB MCNAIR: Flunky!!
FLUNKY (rushes in): Y-yes, sir!?
BOB MCNAIR: Flunky, I’m an NFL owner. My team is in the same state as the world-famous Dallas Cowboys, the five-time Super Bowl champions. Do you realize what that makes us? A laughingstock. Every year at the owner’s meetings, those guys really give me the business. Ya know what that’s like?
FLUNKY: Sir, I live out of my car. I sleep in the stadium parking lot.
BOB MCNAIR: Getting a jump on tailgating, eh, Flunky? That’s good thinking. Anyway, those damn Cowboys always have the leg up on us: five Super Bowls, household name, the big stadium…Mrs. Jones is so…ravishing…
BOB MCNAIR (snaps out of it) Flunky, the Cowboys got this Dakota Fanning character out of Buttfuck, Kansas and won thirteen games with him. He’s young. He’s exciting. He’s Afro-American. We got lots of those people here in Houston – I want a colored quarterback too if Dallas got one!
FLUNKY: Afro-American? Those people? Colored?
BOB MCNAIR: Yeah?
FLUNKY: It’s just so…hacky, making the incompetent boob a racist.
F. STUPIDITY, JR.: Look, I watch the late-night talk shows. This is comedy gold, believe me.
BOB MCNAIR: I am not a racist!
FLUNKY: Sir, even if we draft a black QB, even if he projects as good or better than Prescott, we don’t have that offensive line. We don’t have Ezekiel Elliott running the ball.
BOB MCNAIR: Look, we’ll take that kid out of Clemson. He damn near beat Alabama twice, he’ll do fine with us. When have I ever steered us wrong?
FLUNKY: What about-
BOB MCNAIR: Besides Ostweiler??
New England 19 @ Tampa Bay 14 (F – 10/5)
Buffalo @ Cincinnati
Tennessee @ Miami
NY Jets @ Cleveland
Go Bills! That was the team of my youth, right there…Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, Andre Reed, and the greatest of them all, Bruce Smith. Those guys were awesome. Yes, they lost four Super Bowls in a row, but they’re the only franchise to get to four in a row, and they only should have won one of those games. The second game against the Cowboys was winnable, but they went to pieces after the Thurman Thomas fumble. Oh well. Maybe this is the year the longest current playoff drought in the NFL comes to an end!?
San Francisco @ Indianapolis
Seattle @ LA Rams – Rams come back to Earth a bit
Arizona @ Philadelphia – BIRD FIGHT!!
1) The LA Rams have been a surprise.
2) Surprises are not known to be long-term things.
Carolina @ Detroit – building on last week’s big win
Minnesota @ Chicago – The Bears have already won their game this year
Green Bay @ Dallas – the dreaded Sophmore Slump is in effect
So about a year ago, the Detroit Lions revealed that they would not only be changing uniforms soon, they might even choose a new color scheme that didn’t involve Honolulu Blue. And it didn’t – the Lions have a new blue.
Two things annoy me about the new unis. 1) Silver numbers? Silver doesn’t exactly pop against blue the way white does. I know there’s always a temptation to do things differently, to have your brand stand out in some way, but silver-on-blue is just trying too hard. Granted, not this hard.
2) Why change the font again? For a very long time, every team but the Chicago Bears wore jerseys featuring some variation of the varsity font. Then, in the 90’s, a lot of teams figured out that it might help branding to create a team-specific font. It was a little jarring in some cases, but such a big change was reasonable from a business standpoint. I just can’t figure why you’d create a new font, build that brand, and start again. The Cowboys went from Varsity to Family Guy Varsity some 30 years ago and haven’t changed. The Steelers haven’t changed in decades since leaving Varsity behind. There’s plenty of scope for variety even when you leave some elements intact. Besides, if you change fonts too frequently, something like this could happen.
New England 19 @ Tampa Bay 14 (F – 10/5)
Carolina @ Detroit
Atlanta, New Orleans – Bye
Carolina winning in New England and the Falcons and Atlanta losing at home to the Bills – Go Bills! – is basically the NFC in microcosm. Almost anyone can win the NFC this year. I’m on record in saying that Seattle has lost a step, but the way the rest of the conference is playing they may end up back in the Super Bowl after all. No, I’m not backtracking. If they were to win enough games to earn a bye and get enough breaks over two games, they could still do it. The most likely outcome is the one that happened last year: a good team gets hot and plays their best football just as the playoffs start up. There’s no NFC team that’s going to go in 15-1, 14-2 this year. 12-4 will probably be good enough for two home games this year.
LA Chargers @ NY Giants
Green Bay @ Dallas
Arizona @ Philadelphia
Washington – Bye
Ezekiel Elliott averaged 5.1 yards per carry a year ago as a rookie; through four games this season, he’s at 3.6 YPC. And he’s got bruised ribs. Maybe the Cowboys might want to reconsider appealing his suspension? A little R&R, let those ribs get right…he’ll be a lot fresher in December. Just putting that out there.
Week 3: 9-6
Week 4: 6-9