• Blitz Picks 2015: Week One


    BW: This football season, in an effort to streamline the conversation, Rich's former Council Of The Learned piece, along my article Zone Blitz, have been morphed into one glorious concoction of football goodness called Blitz Picks. Each week, Rich Gapinski (RG) and I (Brian Williams- BW) will touch on a few hot-button topics, along with a quick (and occasionally snarky) preview of each game. While the articles have been combined, we expect that the content that you've enjoyed in the past will continue to improve with this change. Please leave your feedback below regarding your thoughts of the presentation of our article, suggestions, comments, (compliments), and of course, your football conversation. First and foremost, this is a football site, and this is the place where our weekly NFL discussion will take place. We hope you enjoy!

    1. Give me three coaches that are on the hot seat to begin the season.
    BW: Rich,
    Football is officially back! Finally. Is it me, or does it seem like the off-season gets longer every year? Perhaps that's more a product of the NFL trying to contrive reasons for us to get excited about the league all year, but in reality, there's still a full 7 months between the Super Bowl and the next bit of meaningful on-the-field football. The good news is, now is the time that we can finally (hopefully) start to move past all of the DeflateGate nonsense. It really is quite amazing that this story helped to keep the NFL at the top of the news chain for essentially the entire 7 months of the off-season. I guess the NFL is buying into the old adage that good press or bad press doesn't matter as long as everyone's talking about you.

    1). The most interesting coaching name that appears to be on the hot seat is Chuck Pagano. In a way, Pagano's inclusion appears to be a product of his own success, but it's pretty clear that there's a disconnect somewhere between coach and front office. Pagano took over a 2-14 team, grabbed Andrew Luck with his first draft pick, and has ridden the arm of his young franchise QB to 3 straight 11-5 seasons. In each season, Pagano has helped lead the Colts further than in the previous season, losing in the WC round in 2012, Divisional round in 2013, and AFC Championship last year. And he's done this despite a roster that outside of Andrew Luck doesn't appear to hold up when compared with the other perennial playoff franchises. Pagano is a defensive-minded HC, so when the Colts drafted Phillip Dorsett in round 1 this year instead of some much-needed help to their defense, red flags were raised as to whether or not coach and GM are on the same page. The Colts start their season with @Buf, NYJ, @Ten, Jac, @Hou before the schedule becomes trickier as the season wears on. Pagano may need at least a conference championship run to survive, but a slow start would likely begin to accelerate the process.

    2). The expectations are rising in Miami, which means that Joe Philbin is in an extremely vulnerable position should the Dolphins get off to a slow start. This season will already mark Philbin's 4th, and after winning 7, 8, and 8 in his first 3 seasons, mediocrity will no longer be acceptable. The Dolphins have been building things the right way. They have an offense that appears to be ready to take the next step into becoming one of the better units in the league, and a solid defense that has added Ndamukong Suh. Personally, I think the Dolphins will take that next step this year and be one of the top contenders in the AFC. But if they struggle at all in trying to fulfill their promise, Philbin is not likely to survive the season.

    3). How does Ken Whisenhunt still have a head coaching job in the NFL? Despite a Super Bowl berth in Arizona a full 7 seasons ago, Whis has rarely led a team past mediocrity. He's basically the poor man's version of Jeff Fisher. I'm struggling to see any sense of vision with the Titans, and while I like the potential of Marcus Mariota, Whisenhunt has done nothing to show me that he the creativity necessary to allow Mariota's skillset to translate to the pro game. Perhaps I'm not being fair, since he's now in only his 2nd year with the franchise, and had perhaps the weakest roster in the entire league to work with last year, but I just don't see the fit here. If Tennessee wants to give their fan base something more than a boring 5-11 that provides little hope for the future, even with Mariota at QB, then they should probably find a different coach.

    RG:It is good to talk again, even if I plan to trash everything you say while extolling my place as the greatest prognosticator since Mark May. For me, the off-season didn't really happen. I don't feel like I got a break from football and I blame DeflateGate for that. As much as I love football, I do feel like I need a month after the season to relax. I need to heal as a writer. I need time to come up with jokes that are worse than the year before. There's a process, Brian, and everyone ruined it.

    1) This is why I love questions like this one. Everyone is bound to give some different answers. I think one name on the list is Gus Bradley. Two of my three names are guys who are likely to get the axe even though they were never really given a real shot. Gus Bradley did not draft Justin Blackmon. Wasn't even in the room for it. He inherited a broken quarterback named Blaine. That hasn't been a good name since a few random movies in the 1980s. What has happened to him is kind of like being told by Donald Trump that you are going to get to run one of his buildings, only to be given an address that dead-ends into a brick building that was used in the filming for scenes of "The Walking Dead." Then, after you get inside, you find out there are actual zombies in there who tell you that they are from Britain and are huge fans. Eventually, we will find out that all the people saying "yes" to an overseas team were actually dead, forcing Goodell to explain ZombieGate. Still, Bradley is 7-25 as a NFL head coach. That kind of winning percentage while receiving favorable schedules and playing in a weak division will get anyone on the hot seat.

    2) The next one on the list is Mike Pettine. I can say that this one hurts because I am genuinely interested in him as a person and I think I like him. Why? I read a great book during the off-season. "Collision Low Crossers" is something that should be on the list of football books needed to be consumed by all fans. Essentially, it is a behind-the-scenes look at the 2011 New York Jets. Pettine is quite interesting. He is smart, funny and dedicated. (Oh, as an aside, Mike Tannenbaum is a complete psychopath while watching games). There's a part of the book that gives a quick glossary about terms that "Pet" uses during his job. He's a guy from a football town who played for his dad. His dad, not believing on nepotism, was harder on him than the rest of the kids. Later, Pettine coached high school ball against his dad and was never able to beat him. It seems that they have a very complex relationship. Pettine used to start watching tape because he wanted to even though it wasn't in his job description when he began in the league. It will hurt when I see him fired after another 5-11 season on the banks of Lake Erie. It will be more about the top-down travesty that the Browns are. The coach who helped sell management on JFF (Johnny Freakin' Football) is gone. The GM is suspended. After a short and tenuous relationship with the team, the OC that actually coaxed wins out of Brian Hoyer by running a very friendly one-read, play-action offense is gone. Another coach is currently facing allegations about assaulting a female. I guess that means the Browns will not sign Ray Rice, at least (something rumored about 2 weeks ago). So far, the brash new owner is a homeless version of Jerry Jones. Once I look at the late season schedule, I just wonder how it is possible for Pettine to even avoid being axed.

    3) Lastly, I don't think any coaching list is complete without mentioning Jay Gruden. Yes, RGIII is not a good player. Mike Shannahan's decision to placate Griffin's strengths rather than provide an environment pushing development was a horrible one. RGIII holds the ball too long and cannot make decisions down the field. He doesn't protect himself from hits. He will probably never make it in the league. Still, how can any player on that team respect Gruden after reading and listening to his public comments about Griffin? I think it is possible that Gruden has lost the locker room before this season has even begun.

    2. What are three units that you are interested in seeing this weekend? (Seattle's Red Zone Offense, Jameis Winston's Protection, etc,.).
    BW: 1. Bills Rushing Offense- The Bills pose a very interesting threat to Indianapolis this weekend. We already know their defense will be very good, but their offense is one of the big wild cards in the entire league this year. I'm actually going to give Rex Ryan some credit in thinking outside the box, and not simply giving in to Matt Cassel running the show. With Tyrod Taylor at the helm, it suggests that the Bills will be going to a read-option offense. If Taylor is adept and can avoid turnovers, that added element would do wonders in rejuvenating LeSean McCoy. If the Bills can finish top 3 in rushing, that alone should be enough to make them a legit playoff contender, with any passing acumen that Taylor possesses being merely bonus and making them even more dangerous.

    2. Saints Offensive Philosophy- With the trade of Jimmy Graham to Seattle for C Max Unger, the using of a 1st round pick on T Andrus Peat, and the signing of RB CJ Spiller to join Mark Ingram, it appears the Saints are in a shift to focus more on running the football and protect Drew Brees. I'm not sure how well Brees would fit in more of a power running approach, if that's the direction Sean Payton has the Saints leaning, but it will be very interesting to see how they eventually employ Spiller, who didn't play a preseason snap and is going to be sitting out the season opener, and how they go about replacing Graham's production. The logical place to look is the TE position, but the real X Factor in replacing Graham, especially in the red zone, may well be WR Brandon Coleman.

    3. Fantasy Breakouts- I'm cheating a little here (I've been known to do that from time to time), but as an avid fantasy football player, I have my eye on 3 players/units in particular. The first is the Miami offense as a whole, but specifically that passing offense. Ryan Tannehill is in year 4, and has steadily improved in each season. In fact, while Tannehill only finished 12th in scoring among QBs in my league last year, he actually ranked similarly to Rogers, Roethlisberger, and Ryan with regard to week-to-week consistency, and ahead of Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and Russell Wilson among others. The second group I'm watching is the Jaguar pass-protection. If they can find a way to give Bortles some time, not only does he have some sneaky #2 QB potential, but WR Allen Robinson could quickly develop into a star. The last group I'm keeping an interested eye on this week is the Raider OL, and specifically, their run blocking. If they can open holes and give Latavius Murray some clean looks, he is dynamic in the open field, and has a chance to finish as a top 5 RB. At 6'3" 230 lb, he is taller than most RBs, and that could lead to injury issues, but the upside is enormous.

    *Your feel-good Bonus Pick. Eric Berry- Berry obviously isn't a "unit" in and of himself, but it's great to see him back on the field after undergoing chemotherapy last year for a cancerous tumor in his chest. Just being back on the field is a great accomplishment, but the Chiefs will be relying on Berry to help them survive the early season loss of CB Sean Smith (3 game suspension) and DT Dontari Poe (back surgery, due back as early as week 6). Two years ago, the Chiefs had one of the best defenses in the NFL and finished 11-5. If Berry, along with their great pass rush, can help them return to similar levels, I'm expecting the Chiefs to blow past the Broncos and take back the AFC West.

    RG: 1) The Giants Secondary- I am a sick man. Sunday night, I will be glued to the television with a morbid curiosity about exactly how the Giants expect to stop the Cowboys. The Giants do not look like they will have much of a pass rush to mask a weak secondary. Their linebackers are not world-beaters and they actually signed Brandon Meriweather, a man whose best skill might be giving 15 extra yards to opposing teams. Their big move this week was to trade for a punter.

    2) Seattle's Red Zone Offense- This was alluded to above. While reports mention that Jimmy Graham will be expected to block more, I think it really means that he will block more often when the offense is in between the 20s. I want to see how big of year Russell Wilson can have with a reliable man in the Red Zone. With Graham, they won't have to run as much near the goal line. If the Super Bowl comes down to another pass, I guess Carroll at least saved himself from more "Dumbest Call in History" headlines.

    3) The Vikings Offense- Late in the season, Teddy Bridgewater had one of the highest QB ratings in the league. He also did it without a reliable running game. I am interested in seeing what the Vikings can do with Peterson's return in a game where they are expected to be able to take advantage of a decimated group like the Niners defense. 3a) Bonus, the turf at Levi's Stadium: This is an on-going theme that I'll revisit, but I consider myself a little bit of an expert in reviewing poor ground conditions (I am a Bears fan and the Chicago Park District must run a committee on how not to care for grass fields). I want to see if the NFL is ever going to need to step in this season in order to be sure that the ground conditions will be able to support Super Bowl 50. What happens to Goodell if the players refuse to take the field for Super Bowl 50?

    3. What are your final thoughts on DeflateGate?
    BW: My final thoughts on the subject are simply that I'm glad it's over. Tom Brady may have won in court, and yes an appeal is pending, but there were no winners. The league process was ripped apart by Judge Berman, who probably agreed that Tom Brady probably had to have done something to the balls considering his actions were those of a guilty man, but the NFL so thoroughly botched the process, and then confounded things by creating a ridiculous overreaction of a punishment. Then again, part of the reason Brady was reacting the way he was is because he almost certainly believed something had happened, considering the original misinformation the league intentionally leaked regarding the Patriots' balls being a full 2 PSI below the limit. Unfortunately, the reality wasn't that interesting. Yes, something probably happened on Brady's end, but without a set process being followed by the league, all that really should have happened was the league giving the Patriots a warning stating what other teams were contending, that they'd be keeping close watch, and then use that situation to clarify their ball-testing measures.

    One final note- I would have had no idea this happened, but a friend of mine texted me the other day about an issue that arose in Formula One this past weekend. Lewis Hamilton is a multi-cup champion, and evidently the best in the sport at the current time. He's been linked to Nicole Scherzinger and Rihanna, so I guess there's some crossover appeal as well, or something. Anyway, one of Lewis Hamilton's "tyres" measured at 0.3 PSI below the acceptable limit. With a 23 second lead, but knowing that there could be an issue that could result in a penalty, Hamilton's crew asked him to push through to the end and they'd explain later (one of the possibilities was that they'd be docked 25 seconds). As it turns out, there are blankets used to warm the "tyres" were mistakenly left unplugged, with the lower temperature resulting in deflation. In less than 3 hours, the issue was resolved, and it was concluded that no wrongdoing took place. It turns out that the higher-ups in Formula One understood 10th grade science.

    RG: My stance remains the same as it has since the beginning. I saw a witch hunt performed by a group that has managed to do a lot of dumb things despite having the backing from some of the best minds in the country. I agree with you that there was no "win" here and my anger stems from that there may have never been a "win" for anyone from the beginning.

    Let's say that the owners pushed Goodell to drop the hammer on the Pats partly due to a presiding feeling that New England flies a bit too close to the sun and have gotten preferential treatment in the past. Why pick something that may amount to nothing more than a comfort thing like wearing the same batting gloves for every game? Was it just because they didn't have video tapes this time? Speaking of gloves, I have to imagine that any advantage gained by a 7% difference in PSI pales in comparison to something like the glove technology improvements for wide receivers.

    Instead, the league had to admit embarrassing things like that they never really tracked the balls real well (or at all). Okay, back to the point, what if the Patriots are guilty here? How is it good for the league to tarnish their most recent Super Bowl winner? Instead of talking about the MVPs that Brady and Montana won, the sports world is talking about if it is shady for Brady not to share Mark Wahlberg's number with the league.

    I think the bigger question is whether or not it is in the NFL's best interest to continue to attempt to act like a separate legal system than the actual US legal system. The league has been exposed over the last year to perform poorly in three major functions: punishment, precedent and process. In my opinion, those are all extremely important parts.

    It used to be that the teams acted on their own for the most part, giving leeway to talented players and blackballing men with lesser skill. Of course, the current situation is partly due to the 24/7 news cycle, social media, and the truth that football is America's most popular sport. In short, the league formed this "legal system" in order to allow the commissioner to be the front pin for the PR backlash bowling balls. So, if they removed most of the system, the onus would come back on the teams --- the owners themselves.

    That is quite unlikely to happen. It is possible that the entire legal system "game" is one the NFL should have not have played in the first place, but are too far down the road to turn back.

    I am wondering what happens to Goodell some, but more interested in how the process will change going forward.

    The final, final worst thing is that nothing really happened in the minds of people. If one hated the Goodell, they still do. Are you a Pats hater? You still are. Overall, the league probably does look at the ability to dominate the media headlines during the off-season as good as having astronomical ratings since "Seinfeld" proved that a show about nothing can still be successful. It's too bad that the NFL doesn't seem to realize that that show what really about the fates of bad people who never changed.

    THE PICKS

    Thursday, Sept. 10
    Steelers at Patriots, 8:30 p.m. (NBC)- The land of terrible towels have to be the most upset over the quick, decisive verdict by Judge Berman. This is not your father’s Steelers defense. This is not your older cousin’s Steelers defense. Without their starting running back, Pittsburgh will have a hard time keeping their 30th-ranked (2014) DVOA defense off the field. With a win, Tom Brady will get his 161st victory as the Patriots quarterback; the most all-time by a quarterback for one team (Favre, 160). It would be fitting to set a record during his first appearance after the DeflateGate decision. (PICK: Pats 6-3)

    Sunday, Sept. 13
    Colts at Bills, 1 p.m. (CBS)- I am obligated to remind everyone that the Bills are still the only team to not make the playoffs this century. Things from 1999: Lance Armstrong’s 1st Tour De France victory, Bill Clinton’s impeachment hearings, GameBoy Color, people scared of Y2K and the debut of MySpace. Also, we thought that M. Night Shyamalan was brilliant because of the “Sixth Sense.” However, the Bills have won three of their last 4 home openers, only losing by two to the Pats a couple years ago. (PICK: Colts 5-4)

    Packers at Bears, 1 p.m. (Fox)- In keeping with the theme of depressing reminders, Jay Cutler’s average stat line against the Packers as a Bear is: 18-31, 219 yards with 1.3 TDs and 2.1 INTs. He has one win in ten tries. Meanwhile, Aaron Rodgers had ten touchdowns and no interceptions during the two games against Chicago last season. In fact, Rodgers was 18-24 for 315 yards and 6 touchdowns in one half against the Midway Medicores during last November. (PICK: Packers 9-0)

    Chiefs at Texans, 1 p.m. (CBS)- It seems likely that this contest may have the most highlights of the week even though it is not the most marketable game in the league. Is there an over/under in Vegas for the combined sacks, hurries and hits that Houston and Watt might combine for? J.J. Watt, the defensive Demigod for the Texans, had a total of 118.51 impact plays (hits, hurries, sacks, knock downs) last season. Houston “only” had 871. Using averages, that gives us an over/under of 12.5, which seems fair. According to PFF, Brian Hoyer was the least accurate passer in the league last season (60%+ of his team’s snaps). The Chiefs defense better not give up 22+ points to the Texans. Why? Alex Smith has only one win in his last ten games in which the other team scores that many points. (PICK: Chiefs 7-2)

    Panthers at Jaguars, 1 p.m. (Fox)- This is story of two teams who aren’t sure of what they will get on offense this season. Can Blake Bortles take the confidence gained during the preseason and his new throwing mechanics (from Tom House, of Brady fame) to new heights? Who will catch the ball in Carolina? Greg Olsen can only be targeted so many times before teams decide to cover him. Ted Ginn, who turns 30 next April, is back in Carolina as he continues to only be signed by teams in warmer climates. Corey Brown is battling a major case of the “yips.” Like the previous game on this list, it should be decided by who plays better defense overall. (PICK: Jaguars 5-4)

    Browns at Jets, 1 p.m. (CBS)- The Most Likely to Finish 0-0 Game of the Week. These teams are so similar, yet so different. Mike Pettine was part of the coaching staff for those great Jets defenses that made the playoffs a few years ago. Both teams are more likely than not to field horrible offenses, a situation that both sets of fans should be quite rehearsed in. Both teams should have good to great defenses. The Browns, due to national headlines made by their back-up quarterback, GM, Owner, former OC and OL coach, are an easy punching bag. In New York, however, the punching bag was their starting quarterback. Ryan Fitzpatrick is coming off career highs in completion percentage and yards per attempt. Josh McCown might have been the worst quarterback in the league last season. I think the edge goes to New York, but only slightly. (PICK: TIE 4-4-1)

    Seahawks at Rams, 1 p.m. (Fox)- Seattle doesn’t struggle with very many things. Sure, they might have lost the Super Bowl on the most inexplicable call in league history. – One last fun fact about the call: According to Football Outsiders, the Seahawks were the most effective team in the league with power runs. They were successful 81% of the time. How were the Patriots ranked defensively in those situations? Opposing teams were successful 81% of the time.– The one place were Seattle does seem to struggle is the Edward Jones Dome. They have lost twice there in three seasons, winning one game 14-9 in 2013. Last year, a surprising 28-26 loss there left the Seahawks at 3-3, a record that raised questions. Soon, Percy Harvin left town and all was right in the world again. (PICK: Seahawks 9-0)

    Dolphins at Redskins, 1 p.m. (CBS)- Maybe the Dolphins can teach a seminar on crisis management in public relations. That might be more interesting than the game itself. Certainly, it won’t be as entertaining as the Twitter account of Jessica McCloughan. On a serious note, I just cannot believe the allegations of the tweet itself. If an ESPN reporter wants a scoop on the Redskins, they certainly wouldn’t have to sleep with anybody to get it. I mean, Robert Griffin III will talk about anything to anyone. Now, if a reporter from a network was said to sleep with someone on the Patriots staff after breaking news about anything in those offices? That might take some hanky panky to get. (PICK: Dolphins 9-0)

    Saints at Cardinals, 4:05 p.m. (Fox)- It’s the human turnstiles versus the moveable objects. The Cardinals still have no offensive line and will actually be missing Bobby Massie. The Saints had to cut their best pass rusher simply because he doesn’t have his head on straight. Carson Palmer is hoping to get another year out of his arm while Drew Brees is hoping that trading Jimmy Graham will not tank the offense. It’s hard to know since Graham did not miss a game since being inserted in the lineup during the early part of the 2010 season. (PICK: Cardinals 9-0)

    Lions at Chargers, 4:05 p.m. (Fox)- Road openers are not kind to the Lions. They have lost six of their last seven, including west coast losses to Arizona and San Francisco in 2013 and 2012, respectively. Philip Rivers has a new contract but still might have a new address before the end of his career. He is 6-3 in home openers. If Chargers fans are hoping to see a ton out of Melvin Gordon this season, they may want to wait until week two to get their hopes up. The Lions had one the best run defenses of the last two decades last season. The Lions look talented this season, but the team has never had back-to-back ten win seasons. They have nine wins a few times, so Detroit may be hoping for a muddled middle in the NFC playoff race. (PICK: Chargers 6-3)

    Ravens at Broncos, 4:25 p.m. (CBS)- It feels like Peyton Manning faces the Ravens every season. That is almost true. Since 2003, Manning has only “missed” the Ravens in 2010 and 2014. Of course, the Ravens now have been replaced by the yearly showdown between him and his former team. Manning has had a lot of success against Baltimore during his career. He even has a winning record against them in the playoffs! Overall, he is 10-3 versus the Ravens. Recency bias will make us remember that ill-advised throw in overtime a couple of years ago that only was allowed to happen due to a blown coverage by Rahim Moore. Manning has 30 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in those 13 games. (PICK: Broncos 7-2)

    Bengals at Raiders, 4:25 p.m. (CBS)- I will personally send twenty bucks via PayPal to anyone who can send me proof of wearing a Kevin Walker jersey in the Black Hole. Twenty bucks is enough for a co-pay on an emergency room visit, right? Since that fateful day for Bo Jackson, the Bengals have traveled to Oakland a total of three times, losing each of those games. In 2009, Bruce Gradkowski “led” a furious 4th quarter comeback as Oakland scored 10 points in the final minute to win. Gradkowski had thrown an interception earlier in the quarter, but managed an 80 yard touchdown drive in under two minutes. Andre Caldwell fumbled the ensuing kickoff and the Raiders won on a Sea Bass kick. Who was the Bengals quarterback in that game? Carson Palmer. (PICK: Bengals 8-1)

    Titans at Buccaneers, 4:25 p.m. (CBS)- The debate around this game will surround the two rookie quarterbacks, but the real questions should be about who plays around each of them. It’s a bit hard to tell who has more support. Obviously, the offensive skill position players for Jameis Winston dwarf the talent of Mariota’s, but the Titans offensive line seems like it will be a lot better. Still, the Bucs defense is what should separate the two during this game. Despite some flashes during the preseason, we don’t really know much about the rookies. According to PFF, Winston was ranked 58th of 62 preseason QBs. Mariota was 16th. Of course, the names surrounding Mariota were Tom Savage, Brett Hundley and Luke McCown. (PICK: Bucs 5-4)

    Giants at Cowboys, 8:30 p.m. (NBC)- Thinking that “Rizzoli & Isles” must have been cancelled by now, the Giants called Jason Sehorn to see if he and his wife could play safety this season. The Maras, not wanting to be out-done by the Bidwells in the race to open doors for women in the NFL, had envisioned on having the first husband and wife duo to play in the NFL. Unfortunately, they found out that the show was renewed for seasons six and seven. “Rizzoli & Isles” will have a longer run on TV than “Breaking Bad.” (PICK: Cowboys 8-1)

    Monday, Sept. 14
    Eagles at Falcons, 7:10 p.m. (ESPN)- This is a week one game that could have an impact seventeen weeks from now. I have the Eagles as one team who has a chance to make the playoffs. Meanwhile, I have the Falcons as being the team that plays to a record above their overall skill level because of a soft schedule. If it comes down to conference record to get that sixth seed, then this game may make that decision. I am absolutely fascinated by the idea of Chip Kelly and his scientific approach to player rest and nutrition. If anyone can defy “the Curse of 370,” I think Kelly can. I am sure that there will be some interesting stats about “bird” teams during the broadcast, but I refuse to research anything related to rats with wings. I hate birds. (PICK: Eagles 9-0)

    Vikings at 49ers, 10:20 p.m. (ESPN)- I was going to end this first edition of the year with a simple “I’m sorry, Niners fans.” However, that just seemed too gloomy. There has to be things that every San Francisco fan can root for. Jarryd Hayne may continue to surprise everyone and become a great third down back. Torrey Smith may draw penalties and gain yardage the unconventional way. Faced with adversity, Colin Kaepernick may prove he has the extra “it.” They may not need any more linebackers besides Navarro Bowman. Actually, no. The Niners will suck, okay? Why? Karma. This what you get for making kale a “thing.” (PICK: Vikings 9-0).

    RICH'S VETO OF THE WEEK: I think we are wrong about the Cardinals game. There is nothing to make me think that the Saints cannot go on the road and beat Arizona. With no running game and no pass blocking, Carson Palmer may not make it to week 6. Usually, we get one of the unanimous picks wrong every week. I thought this one stuck out like a sore thumb. Thus, the pick is changed to Saints.

    LAST WEEK: N/A
    SEASON: 0-0

    1-According to the 2015 Football Outsiders Almanac

    Comments 17 Comments
    1. Bengals1181's Avatar
      coup found a great article about Cris and Freeland:

      http://footballpros.com/showthread.p...074#post250074
    1. Matt Kocsan's Avatar
      ...what is going on with Antonio Brown's hair?
    1. Brian Williams's Avatar
      Tonight may represent the worst bit of clock management I've ever seen. Andy Reid is embarrassed by Mike Tomlin's performance tonight.
    1. Brian Williams's Avatar
      But at least they played their FG offense. Lots of curious stuff, and you can't shoot yourself in the foot as much as they did tonight and expect to win.
    1. hobbes27's Avatar
      I think its pretty hilarious that the Patriots can't avoid drama, even on opening night.

      http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/13...adio-broadcast
    1. iwatt's Avatar
      Quite alot of 9-0 picks. Those never turn out well
    1. Rich Gapinski's Avatar
      Every time I come here to see what people are saying, I look at the Goodell photo leading the article and appreciate how uncomfortable he looks. It's like he is wearing a wool sweater in the middle of an Arizona summer.
    1. Amy's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by hobbes27 View Post
      I think its pretty hilarious that the Patriots can't avoid drama, even on opening night.

      http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/13...adio-broadcast
      Us?

      As the NFL has already pointed out, they control the headsets, and both teams were having issues all night long.
    1. Bengals1181's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Amy View Post
      Us?

      As the NFL has already pointed out, they control the headsets, and both teams were having issues all night long.

      do you have any insight on why it seems to happen A LOT? This isn't an isolated incident at Foxboro, and I've heard a lot of coaches bring it up over the years that their radios always seem to go out at key moments of the game when they are in Foxboro. Pretty much ever time they go there.

      Do the beat writers up there ever do stories on it happening to the Pats as well, and why?
    1. Brian Williams's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Amy View Post
      Us?

      As the NFL has already pointed out, they control the headsets, and both teams were having issues all night long.
      Except that's not what the NFL said. They said that the problem was fixed right away. It was Tomlin and Belichick who both alluded to problems the entire night. Except that Belichick was never specific in his explanation. The Steelers however say that it was a problem all night, except that when the NFL people came to check on it, it would suddenly be fixed. So there's a ton of ambiguity here. If the NFL believes their statement to be true, then that could lend credence to what the Steelers are insinuating, considering Belichick also admitted that there were problems throughout the game, and not just at the start.

      Either it was fixed early or it wasn't. Reading between the lines tell me it wasn't.

      Now- none of that explains any of the Steelers clock management issues in each half, the Steelers moving the ball at least as easily as NE, only to seemingly intentionally play for FGs, the Steelers not pushing the tempo all night (which would have been a great counteraction IF there were headset issues), poor tackling, a lack of awareness for a loose ball down near their own goalline, and the Steelers refusing to cover any receivers, especially and including Edelman or Gronk (where was Brandon Boykin, by the way?).

      But, where there's smoke, there's usually fire. It is always something with NE. The NFL screwed up the process, and I have always felt that no suspension was the right call. And many of you feel that the punishments for Spy/Deflate/whatever gate have been too harsh, and that's fine too. But it's also pretty clear that something happened in each circumstance, and it's increasingly likely that something happened last night, since something seems to happen quite frequently in that location. I get that isolated incidents happen everywhere, but I'm much more inclined to believe those to be unintentional circumstances than if the same team continues to be involved over and over. Something is happening in NE, and they continue to push the envelope at best, intentionally skirt the rules at worst. Even if we deem those skirts to be minor, the fact that they are intentionally trying to gain some sort of edge through less than ethical means is enough to where even if the punishment hasn't seemed to fit the crime, why do we continue to focus more on the arbitrarily excessive punishment than the crime itself?
    1. Bengals1181's Avatar
      Packers have come out and said it happened a couple weeks ago in the preseason when they were in Foxboro.
    1. hobbes27's Avatar
      Despite the reputation of the Patriots of being cheaters, I can't believe anything nefarious is going on here. However, if there is some smoke here, then whoever is behind this should be kicked out of the league and never be allowed to work in the NFL again. If nothing else for being the dumbest person on the face of the earth.

      However, if someone was behind this and the NFL tried to punish the individual, I am sure they would sue the NFL and get their suspension overturned because the NFL would screw up the process again.
    1. tubbs1518's Avatar
      Coaches have came out and said it happens in all 32 stadiums. Let's all quit trying to blame anything and everything on the Patriots. It seems like the in thing to do. Oh we lose to the Pats, lets accuse them of cheating. Jesus get over it people.
    1. Amy's Avatar
      Here's what the NFL said today:

      "Based on our review to date, we believe that the audio interference on Steelers' headsets last night was entirely attributable to an electrical issue made worse by the inclement weather; that it involved no manipulation by any individual; and that the Patriots had nothing to do with it. The issue was promptly resolved and there were no further problems for the remainder of the game. We will continue to review the matter to determine if there are technical steps that can be taken to avoid similar problems from occurring in other games."

      Ir's on NFL.com, if you want to look yourself.

      But, why isn't this a bigger story today?

      http://www.foxnews.com/sports/2015/0...-patriots-fan/
    1. edave's Avatar
      Another vote for "Collision Low Crossers". Read it last summer and wound up enjoying far more than I thought I would.

      It's really like three books.

      o The preparation for and execution of the draft.
      o The lockout.
      o Training camp and the 2011 season.
    1. Rich Gapinski's Avatar
      The B.O.B. says he needs to see the tape in Houston. The Brian Hoyer era may be ending quickly for the Texans.
    1. Nancy's Avatar
      One final note- I would have had no idea this happened, but a friend of mine texted me the other day about an issue that arose in Formula One this past weekend. Lewis Hamilton is a multi-cup champion, and evidently the best in the sport at the current time. He's been linked to Nicole Scherzinger and Rihanna, so I guess there's some crossover appeal as well, or something. Anyway, one of Lewis Hamilton's "tyres" measured at 0.3 PSI below the acceptable limit. With a 23 second lead, but knowing that there could be an issue that could result in a penalty, Hamilton's crew asked him to push through to the end and they'd explain later (one of the possibilities was that they'd be docked 25 seconds). As it turns out, there are blankets used to warm the "tyres" were mistakenly left unplugged, with the lower temperature resulting in deflation. In less than 3 hours, the issue was resolved, and it was concluded that no wrongdoing took place. It turns out that the higher-ups in Formula One understood 10th grade science.
      Indeed, this did happen, and the Mercedes team honchos were smart enough to have Lewis Hamilton continue building his lead so any time penalty assessed by the FIA would be rendered meaningless. But let's not go lauding the intelligence of the FIA officials; it is generally accepted by fans that they and the IAF are a bunch of goobers who do everything they can to create an environment favorable to Ferrari. F-1 had its own "Spygate," with McLaren being fined for stealing info from The Scuderia, and "Crashgrate," wherein Renault ordered one of its drivers to crash so that the Team's #1 driver could assume the lead, in essence fixing the outcome of the race...it goes on and on; the cheating scandals are legion and the penalties are not necessarily consistent. Sound familiar?