• Blitz Picks 2015: Week Fifteen


    This is the first of the two holiday weeks for the column. This week will be a theme concerning why teams are or aren’t fighting for the playoffs. Next week, each game will get it’s own “Bowl” name. Brian and I will be back in earnest for the final week and for the entirety of the playoffs. We hope that your holiday season is safe, delicious and fun.

    1) Who is favored in a Carolina-New England Super Bowl (The two current #1 seeds)?

    BW: I think that who would be favored and who should be favored may very well be two different questions. In Vegas, New England is still the Super Bowl favorite at 4/1, while Carolina is second at 9/2. That suggests that the spread would likely be even, with New England perhaps going off as a slight favorite. Those odds make sense considering New England is the reigning champion, and the current group of Panthers have yet to advance beyond the Divisional round.

    However, I think that I’d favor Carolina. The Panthers have a defense that matches up very well across the board against New England’s offense, and with LeGarrette Blount now out for the season, the Patriots are likely going to be even more of a one-dimensional group going forward. Only Denver defends the pass like Carolina, and we’ve seen the difficulties that the Bronco defense presented for the Patriots. And while Josh Norman has been getting the publicity, the Panthers as a whole are shutting down every facet of a team’s passing game, including #2 WRs, the slot, TEs, and RBs. Carolina would force New England into more of a grind-it-out game, and that would not suit the Patriots well.

    On the other side of the ball, the wild card is whether or not the Patriots would find a way to stop Cam Newton from wearing them down. When the two teams met in 2013 on a Monday night in Charlotte, Newton ran for 62 yards on 7 carries in addition to throwing 3 TD passes. At that point, no one was arguing that Newton was the MVP of the league like they are this year, and the biggest reason for his leap this year is his passing efficiency. He’s still not the best passer in the game, but he is now the most complete package in the league. Add in Jonathan Stewart who’s second in the league in rushing attempts and third in rushing yards, and the Panthers match up perfectly against New England on both sides of the ball. I see the Panthers methodically beating up the Patriots and pulling away late.

    RG: I have to think that those odds numbers are reflecting the fact that the Patriots are a public team. It doesn't seem right to me for New England to be favored on a neutral field.

    I think I would put the real number right at -3 for Carolina. While I think the Pats defense could have some success, the injuries and talent at linebacker would probably have a tough time dealing with Greg Olsen while also trying to keep Carolina's LB at QB in the pocket. Sure, the Panthers would have to rely on just two instead of three big drops by Ted Ginn for them to have any downfield success in the passing game. I do think they match up decently well.

    This question seems to be as good of a time as any for me to provide the 2015 version of one of my favorite charts:

    Code:
     QB RATING DIFFERENTIAL
    
    TEAM	OFF	DEF	DIFF
    ARZ	106.5	78.1	28.4	P
    SEA	109.8	81.9	27.9	P
    CAR	96.6	69.6	27.0	P
    CIN	104.9	81.4	23.5	P
    NE	103.8	83.1	20.7	P
    KC	95.8	78.5	17.3	P
    GB	97.5	81.5	16.0	P
    BUF	96.1	84.0	12.1
    NYJ	89.6	81.3	8.3	P
    OAK	96.0	89.0	7.0
    NYG	96.0	93.2	2.8
    ATL	85.4	86.9	-1.5
    DEN	73.7	75.5	-1.8	P
    WAS	93.0	95.2	-2.2	P
    PIT	92.0	95.1	-3.1
    SD	95.3	98.4	-3.1
    HOU	85.2	88.5	-3.3
    CHI	89.2	93.5	-4.3
    PHI	82.5	89.9	-7.4
    MIN	84.4	92.1	-7.7	P
    JAC	88.3	97.3	-9.0
    CLE	90.9	100.3	-9.4
    DAL	79.4	91.2	-11.8
    MIA	88.2	100.0	-11.8
    IND	78.2	90.2	-12.0
    DET	88.6	101.2	-12.6
    TB	85.4	98.1	-12.7
    TEN	89.1	102.2	-13.1
    SF	83.2	97.5	-14.3
    NO	97.8	114.2	-16.4
    BAL	80.9	101.3	-20.4
    STL	69.2	91.5	-22.3
    RG: I find it funny that the first 8 or 9 teams on this list each season make the playoffs. Then there is a couple a few spots later and a straggler. I swear this cluster has looked the same for four seasons now. I think it is funny that no individual team has stats good enough to be what the Saints defense gives up every week.

    I was surprised that Carolina isn't first, but that's okay. I feel the game would become a grind, which is why I would favor Carolina in the long run. Your idea of wearing down the current version of New England seems like a valid result to me. The Pats would have to resort to a lot of flat passes used as rushing plays in order to keep Brady clean and to consistently move the ball since they are bereft of running talent at the moment. However, Belichick is the exact kind of coach to get an impressive playoff performance from a guy selling Gatorade at a high school championship game three weeks ago.

    Still, I think Carolina at (-3) is the correct number.

    2) For the final time, who wins the NFC East?

    BW: Can we find a three-headed coin? I’m throwing the schedule out the window because I don’t trust any of these three teams. The Giants are a stupid football team and probably wouldn’t have won Monday night except for the Dolphins being even dumber. Yes Eli is occasionally great and Odell is always great, but what else do they have? They’ve lost 4 different games in the final 1:15, but while that hints that they’re better than their record, yet they’ve given up more yards than anyone on defense (including the Saints), and are at a differential of minus 757 yards on the year. In other words, they’re not very good, and they have a tendency to find ways to lose games they should win. That’s not a very good combination. Next.

    Perhaps I’m being unfair here, but I can’t trust a Dan Snyder team led by Kirk Cousins and Jay Gruden. Next.

    That leaves the Eagles. The defense isn’t very good and the offense is without that one go-to player, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing since they have about 8 different guys capable of doing some damage any given week. And that win over New England re-energized them. I wish I had more reasoning for why I don’t dislike the Eagles more than the other two teams, but I don’t.

    Also, keep this little nugget in the back of your mind. In 2010, the Seahawks hosted and won a playoff game (Beastquake) after winning their division at 7-9. Two years later, the Seahawks started a streak of winning at least 11 games in each of the next 3 seasons, appearing in two Super Bowls and winning one. In 2013, the Panthers hosted and won a playoff game after winning their division at 7-8-1. They’re currently 13-0. I think that one of the NFC East teams will find a way to get to .500, but if not, recent history will be on their side.

    RG: I don't "trust" anybody. I cannot use that word with the division. Two weeks ago, I said that the Redskins have the clearest path that they control. I refuse to change what I said since I have also not seen any real reason to believe in the Giants or the Eagles.

    The Eagles were helped by yet another undisciplined performance by the Bills who must have more 70 yard penalty days than anybody in the league. I wonder just how far ahead Rex Ryan teams are in that category for the last five seasons. He hasn't never seemed to care about it much, but there must be something that can be changed to make things better and still let his players be who they are. That "I want my players have personalities" thing is a mantra he has repeated over the years.

    The Giants won because of a coverage breakdown that left the best receiver in the league open for an 80+ yard touchdown and because of some weird play-calling tendencies by the home team. Lamar Miller of the Dolphins had 6 carries and 2 touchdowns in the first half. Then, he had 4 carries for 18 yards during the first drive for Miami in the second half. After that, spanning the final 25 minutes of play, he had two carries for three yards. During that time, no one ever led by more than a touchdown. There's misinformation either from Miller (who denies injury) or the coaching staff who claims an ankle injury. I'm sure it could not have anything to do with the complete upheaval in the coaching staff throughout the season.

    I'm sticking with the hilarious and silly Kirk Cousins playoff run.

    3) Who is the most dangerous team in AFC not named New England or Pittsburgh?

    BW: This is by no means a knock against Andy Dalton, but I think it’s suddenly become Cincinnati. The Bengals have suddenly been written off as dead, but this is still arguably the deepest team in the league, and when the leader goes down, it is not uncommon for the rest of the team to step up and play inspired football.

    It’s easy to forget now, but on a Monday night in week 16 last year, the Bengals put together a statement win over the Broncos, and at that moment looked like they were primed to end their playoff woes. Andy Dalton was not great that night, and A.J. Green put up a no-show with 0 catches. However, Jeremy Hill ran for 147 yards, and despite giving up two separate 13 point leads, Brandon Tate stepped up with a big punt return to set up the go-ahead FG, and Dre Kirkpatrick made it a 2-score game late with a pick 6. After a 2nd Kirkpatrick INT, Jeremy Hill picked up a 1st down, took a knee after 14 yards (3 yards away from costing me a fantasy football championship), and the Bengals ran out the clock. It was a classic team win, and one where they avoided hitting the panic button despite blowing the lead late.

    In the Wild Card round just two weeks later, the exact opposite happened. Trailing only 13-10 at halftime to the Colts, and despite success running the football in the 1st half, the Bengals ran the ball only 5 times in the 2nd half, with one of those runs being a 3rd down scramble by Dalton. Down 10 midway through the 3rd, the Bengals called exactly one more run play the entire game. They hit full-on panic mode, and completely wilted under the pressure of the situation.

    With AJ McCarron running the show, they’ll now be forced to lean on the run, making it less likely they’ll abandon it in a big spot. The defense is already solid, but now has even more incentive to perform better. And most importantly, none of this will be too big for AJ McCarron. We don’t know yet if he’s any good, but at the same time, we don’t know that he’s not. What we do know is that he has more big game experience than anyone else on the entire roster thanks to his days as the starting QB for 2 National Champions at Alabama. He showed a willingness to take some chances last week and get AJ Green the ball, and he’s clearly got a swagger that, quite frankly, may give the Bengals an offensive attitude that they’ve previously been lacking. I'm curious to see their gameplan now that he'll have a full week to prepare.

    Losing Andy Dalton does not make them a better team on the field. But it does give them a nothing-to-lose mentality from this point forward, and there’s nothing more dangerous than a team that’s playing with house money. Had Dalton remained healthy, the narrative would have been almost exclusively about overcoming their past playoff failures. Now, with expectations lowered (the Bengals are now 30/1 to win the Super Bowl in Vegas), Cincinnati has potentially become a much more dangerous team to face in the postseason, and therefore may actually be in a better position to succeed.

    RG: That's a pretty good summary. I hope that Dalton comes back for the playoffs, but I have no doubt that the thing that makes the most sense to happen is for them to break the drought with a back-up quarterback. We've talked about tortured teams before and it seems like something really weird happens when the streaks are broken.

    Let's just hope that Bengals Nation doesn't start to actually want McCarron to start next year when that happens. I went through that with Josh McCown, Jimmy Clausen and Caleb Hanie. Sure, only one of those situation involved a playoff game, but the precedent still remains. McCarron may be better than any of those guys, but he is not better than Dalton if manages a playoff win. His best performance to date is a preseason game against those Bears.

    FANTASY MINUTE
    BW: Heading into draft season back in August, I thought it was pretty clear that this year more than any other would be a complete crapshoot. And really, I think that trend will continue since the days of the reliable 1st round RBs has gone by the wayside, and more teams are moving toward a committee approach. In evaluating the first 30 players selected in my home league draft, including the first 2 rounds and our 10 keepers, no less than 20 of those 30 players have to be considered anything from a mild disappointment to an outright bust. For any number of reasons, none of Eddie Lacy, Dez Bryant, Demaryius Thomas, Calvin Johnson, Marshawn Lynch, or Le'Veon Bell has retained 1st round value, and the 2nd round, featuring Randall Cobb, Jamaal Charles, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Forte, DeMarco Murray, Alshon Jeffrey, T.Y. Hilton, Emmanuel Sanders, and Jordan Matthews was even worse. Jeremy Hill, C.J. Anderson, Andrew Luck, Mike Evans, and Justin Forsett were also 1st/2nd round failures, though in my league, each of those players were kept (along with Ben Roethlisberger, who missed 4 games). That leaves Antonio Brown (1), Adrian Peterson (1), Julio Jones (1), A.J. Green (end of 1st), LeSean McCoy (end of 2nd), Gronk (K), Odell Beckham (K), and DeAndre Hopkins (K), as the only players to return relative value.

    I don't know what, if anything, that will mean when it comes to next year's draft, but I'll be spending a part of the offseason looking into that trend to see exactly what we can learn from it. Obviously some disappointments were the direct result of injuries, but there have been some drop-offs that are much less easy to explain. In any case, if you managed to survive your draft by avoiding a major bust, or by feverishly working the wire, and are still alive in your playoff hunt, congratulations.

    Oh, and a quick shout out to Biggie, who has had a really nice year in our keeper league that is unfortunately about to come to an end. Congrats on your run to the semi-finals Big Man!

    THE PICKS

    Thursday, Dec. 17
    Buccaneers at Rams, 8:25 p.m.- Looking at the chart above, it’s pretty clear that the Rams quarterbacks are the main reason they are not making the playoffs. Their team QB rating is the rough equivalent of playing Nick Foles or Jimmy Clausen every week. Wait, Nick Foles is on the Rams? Well, that explains it. The Bucs will have to suffer through their usual January of margaritas and sun because of their unimpressive defense. PICK: (STL 5-2)

    Saturday, Dec. 19
    Jets at Cowboys, 8:25 p.m.-BW: The Jets are in position to make a playoff push, and are a legitimate threat in the AFC because they finally have a solid offense to pair with their very good defense. Ryan Fitzpatrick has become a reliable staring QB, and Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker are one of the best WR tandems in the league. The Cowboys are in trouble because without Tony Romo, they aren’t even good enough to be lame like the rest of their NFC East brethren. PICK: (NYJ 7-0)

    Sunday, Dec. 20
    Chiefs at Ravens, 1 p.m.- While the chart above is one of my favorite new predictors of playoff chances, the Chiefs are fighting for one of the final two seeds because they have become experts at turnover differential, still sitting at +14 during their seven game win streak. Alex Smith sits at 24th in the league at air yards per attempt and will probably always sit in that range. Still, not turning the ball over is the modern version of winning by field position, in my opinion. The Ravens are done because the injury gnomes rained down fire and brimstone. PICK: (KC 7-0)

    Texans at Colts, 1 p.m.- This is actually a huge game for both teams. Sunday's affair probably will go a long way to decide the AFC South and a much longer way towards deciding Chuck Pagano’s fate if the Colts lose this game. Indy won’t make the playoffs because Ryan Grigson is the true villain in this scheme to ruin Andrew Luck and because the Texans will mop up on the Jags and Titans to finish off an unlikely run. The Colts have the Titans as well, but the Jekyll & Hyde Dolphins could finish them off. PICK: (HOU 6-1)

    Falcons at Jaguars, 1 p.m.-BW: If not for the complete lack of a pass rush that exposes their secondary, the Jags may actually be leading the AFC South. The pieces are in place, but they’re still about a year away. After a 5-0 start, the Falcons should be competing for a playoff spot, but they’ve fallen completely off the map thanks to Dan Quinn not being able to make an impact on a bad defense, and Kyle Shanahan ripping the life out of the offense. Where are the explosive plays? PICK: (JAC 4-3)

    Bears at Vikings, 1 p.m.- The Bears aren’t making the playoffs because they couldn’t make enough plays in the kicking game, create enough turnovers on defense, had injuries at wide receiver all season, and got bit in several games by 1980s football strategy. The Vikings won’t make it past the Wild Card round because Teddy Bridgewater has not turned a corner in his development. He’s 26th in air yards per attempt but may not have enough talent at receiver to throw deep more often with confidence. We will see. PICK: (MIN 5-2)

    Titans at Patriots, 1 p.m.- The Pats are about to play in January for the 12th time in the last 13 seasons because the Evil Empire doesn’t care who plays for them; everyone is a stormtrooper. Grand Moff Brady and Darth Hoodie will always rule the AFC East until another young Jedi is found. Perhaps it doesn't help that young Finn looks exactly like former Patriot Joey Galloway. (If you didn't get any of that, don't worry about it). The Titans need a lot more than a #1 pick at quarterback and have been to the playoffs six total times since moving to Nashville. Maybe Joey Bosa can help them out since the Browns pulled out a win with Johnny Foosball. PICK: (NE 7-0)

    Panthers at Giants, 1 p.m.- The Panthers are in because they aren’t just getting a MVP season from their quarterback. They will also play another playoff game this season because every quarterback that plays against them is the equivalent to Nick Foles or Jimmy Clausen. Yep, it’s almost exactly the same rating number that the Rams quarterbacks normally play to. The Giants still have a chance because no one is good enough to take the NFC East. However, it’s probably true they have a great shot if they get Playoff Eli in these final few games. I'm looking forward to seeing Beckham v. Norman this week. The Carolina corner has allowed just 37 completions on 78 targets for 329 yards and 1 touchdown (PFF). DeAndre Hopkins had 2 catches on 7 targets. Julio Jones brought in 4 nondescript balls. Mike Evans? One. Hilton? One. Dez Bryant was one of five. Jones, Adams and Cobb for Green Bay caught two. PICK: (CAR 6-1)

    Bills at Redskins, 1 p.m.- The Bills are bound to continue one of the most depressing streaks in sports (no playoffs this century) due to an offense filled with uneven performances, some disappointing seasons from key players and a uniform change to a yellow stripe that represents the color most often seen in the autumn air in Buffalo. Sound familiar, Jets fans? The Redskins still have a shot at the playoffs because no one in the NFC East is good enough to win the division. We need to banish the NFC East from the playoffs. PICK: (WAS 4-3)

    Packers at Raiders, 4:05 p.m.- The Packers have had a frustrating season filled with question marks surrounding the offense as a whole, the disappearance of Randall Cobb for a while, and the lack of weigh stations on Eddie Lacy Highway. Thankfully, since nothing ever really goes that wrong for Green Bay, they won a few games they had to (Minnesota) while the Bears and Lions remained as stupefying as ever. They are still a dangerous playoff team. The Raiders aren't going to make it because they need just one more year of development. PICK: (GB 6-1)

    Browns at Seahawks, 4:05 p.m.-BW: The Seahawks have put themselves in position to compete for a third straight Super Bowl berth because they are 2nd in the QB rating differential stat Rich posted above. Russell Wilson is passing the football better than he ever has and they actually have a higher passing DVOA than both the Patriots and Steelers. The Browns will eventually be in the playoffs if they actually find a coach who’s not only willing to roll with Johnny Manziel, but is willing to fit his scheme around Manziel’s talents. I will never understand organizations like Cleveland and Washington that will draft a QB highly, then not find a coach that best suits that player’s talents and will instead try to turn the top pick into something he’s not. PICK: (SEA 7-0)

    Broncos at Steelers, 4:25 p.m.-BW: This game features arguably the most dangerous offense in the AFC against the most dangerous defense. Specifically, the Steelers feature a dynamic passing game while the Broncos have the best pass defense in the league. The winner of that match-up will likely win this game, and will justify their standing as the team in the AFC that is most dangerous to New England's quest for a repeat. Of course, if the Steelers lose, they'll be in real danger of missing out on the playoffs, with the most obvious blame being placed on the Roethlisberger knee injury that cost him 4 games, and hampered him in his first game back against Cincinnati. PICK: (PIT 5-2)

    Bengals at 49ers, 4:25 p.m.- The Niners are done because they had the season everyone had kind of expected. No offense to the current quarterbacks, but trying to feature Blaine Gabbert and A.J. McCarron before showing a description of the “John Candy” moment with highlights from Joe Montana’s famous drive during Super Bowl 23 has got to be one of the funniest conversations in CBS television production this season. I suppose they could try to buy the rights for Musberger’s drooling over Katherine Webb and just run that a few times. America might appreciate it more, anyway. PICK: (CIN 5-2)

    Dolphins at Chargers, 4:25 p.m.- We have reached the point in the match-ups where showing different games might be better for all involved. The Chargers didn’t do much this year because the one guy who could catch got hurt, the team might move and the run defense stunk (32nd according to PFF, allowing 126.5 yards per game). The Dolphins had no consistency at all. In anything. Sometimes the beer tasted like water in Miami and sometimes it just tasted like Natural Light. PICK: (MIA 4-3)

    Cardinals at Eagles, 8:30 p.m.- If you haven’t watched the recent episode of “A Football Life” on the NFL network featuring Bruce Arians, you need to figure out how to see it. As those productions usually go, it will be hard to no become a fan of the subject. The Cardinals are in the playoffs because they throw the ball better than any team in the league. To remain this successful while averaging 5.63 air yards per attempt in the modern NFL is stupid good. The Eagles still have a chance for the playoffs because no one is good enough to take the NFC East. PICK: (ARZ 5-2)

    Monday, Dec. 21
    Lions at Saints 8:30 p.m. - The Most Likely to Finish 0-0 Game of the Week simply because no one has any reason to show up. If everyone just went to the French Quarter while ESPN showed a replay of the riveting Wade Wilson-led 14-3 victory over the Lions in 1993, would anyone really care? I might need to change the New Orleans abbreviation from "NO" to "YES" in order to symbolize just how bad their defense has been. PICK: (NO 4-3)

    WRITER'S VETO:RG: The Washington Football Club came in last week, but this week is much harder to pick. However, I think I have figured it out. Remember, I have decided to only go against "unanimous" picks for the rest of the season here. Baltimore is out of bodies. Seattle is not losing to the Browns. The Pats won't lose to the Titans. That leaves the team formally known as the Titans. The Jets are not talked about much as a tortured franchise because everyone can recite Super Bowl 3. However, they only have had Super Bowl 3. This would be the perfect game for a team like them to lose. It would likely vault both the Steelers and the Chiefs into the playoffs as Pittsburgh is likely to hold the tie-breakers over them anyway. The Cowboys are the perfect kind of team to provide a weird win at this time.

    LAST WEEK: 10-6
    SEASON: 128-80 (61%)
    WRITER'S VETO: 3-6, 5 abstain
    UNANIMOUS: 38-15 (71%)

    Comments 16 Comments
    1. Amy's Avatar
      As of right now, as a Pats fan, I'd fully agree with Carolina -3 in Santa Clara.

      I'll pick Philly for the NFC West.

      Also, I'd argue that outside of the Steelers (if they get in) and Pats, the only dangerous team in Cincy. KC beats the AFC South champ then loses, and I still do not believe in Denver.

      I'm the one ATD with Carolina and New York and only because this will be the one game Coughlin will get to wreck Carolina's perfect season. So, they will, probably on some insane OBJ catch with like 5 seconds left.
    1. Rich Gapinski's Avatar
      Looks like we were a week early with our Jeff Fisher comments:

      http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com...e-jeff-fisher/
    1. iwatt's Avatar
      The Bengals lost to the Texans...

      The Steelers might be a danger to every other AFC team, but that secondary that can't cover the deep ball is going to get murdered by Tom Brady. Even if he doesn't throw deep as well as we think he does.
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      Oh, and for the record, Brady is unwise to be showing off a Trump campaign hat in his locker. That is begging for questions about his relationship with The Donald.
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      WTF is this, NFL? When did TNF become the Ketchup & Mustard Bowl?
    1. Rich Gapinski's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Sullivan View Post
      WTF is this, NFL? When did TNF become the Ketchup & Mustard Bowl?
      This is exactly what my wife said. This Thursday night color crap has been awful.
    1. Brian Williams's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Rich Gapinski View Post
      This is exactly what my wife said. This Thursday night color crap has been awful.
      Aren't there plans for every team to participate in the "color rush" next year?
    1. Amy's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Brian Williams View Post
      Aren't there plans for every team to participate in the "color rush" next year?
      Are there NFL executives who sit in a room and say "Let's see how we can annoy the fan base next?" I didn't even watch last night and I saw the uniforms on ESPN.com and was like "Really? They made the players wear those?" I felt bad for both teams.
    1. Rich Gapinski's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Amy View Post
      Are there NFL executives who sit in a room and say "Let's see how we can annoy the fan base next?" I didn't even watch last night and I saw the uniforms on ESPN.com and was like "Really? They made the players wear those?" I felt bad for both teams.
      There does seem to be some committee for that. It's almost as if they are sitting around figuring out how far they can take things before ratings drop. I was joking with some friends at the Bears game while online for security. It truly is amazing how much people can't take into a game and how small the mandated bag size is when it is actually attempted to be used. I was joking with some people that the next thing will be a league-mandated grey/tan uniform will be given to fans before entry. Think of any prison garb you have seen on TV. Then, just add a team logo on the left breast area.

      The league will add pink ribbons on them during October, of course.
    1. iwatt's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Rich Gapinski View Post
      There does seem to be some committee for that. It's almost as if they are sitting around figuring out how far they can take things before ratings drop. I was joking with some friends at the Bears game while online for security. It truly is amazing how much people can't take into a game and how small the mandated bag size is when it is actually attempted to be used. I was joking with some people that the next thing will be a league-mandated grey/tan uniform will be given to fans before entry. Think of any prison garb you have seen on TV. Then, just add a team logo on the left breast area.

      The league will add pink ribbons on them during October, of course.
      Some marketing "genius" is saying they need to target the young demographic, and "bright colors" are catchy. Never underestimate how much slaves to "marketers" rich people are.

      Never forget this was a multimillion ad campaign:

    1. Brian Williams's Avatar
      Much like Mr. Mackey's 4 steps to avoid cursing in South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut, Richard Sherman has 4 steps to improve NFL officiating. And as always, they make complete sense.

      1. Simplify the rules

      2. Add an eighth official, and make this position a fulltime job that requires a complex understanding of probably the most complicated rulebook in sports.

      3. Reconfigure the positions... Adding an eighth official would allow for two officials to be 20 yards off the ball, and two to be on the sidelines. The two sideline guys would start five yards off the ball and sprint with the receivers down the sideline to get the best perspective of the space between the defensive backs and the receivers. The deep officials, meanwhile, would concentrate on the safety and linebacker play.

      4. Improve communication between players and officials.

      Further proof why Richard Sherman should be one of your favorite players in football. Check out the article, his explanations are on point. It's a shame, and not at all shocking, that the NFL won't heed his input and reasoning.
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Brian Williams View Post
      Much like Mr. Mackey's 4 steps to avoid cursing in South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut, Richard Sherman has 4 steps to improve NFL officiating. And as always, they make complete sense.

      1. Simplify the rules

      2. Add an eighth official, and make this position a fulltime job that requires a complex understanding of probably the most complicated rulebook in sports.

      3. Reconfigure the positions... Adding an eighth official would allow for two officials to be 20 yards off the ball, and two to be on the sidelines. The two sideline guys would start five yards off the ball and sprint with the receivers down the sideline to get the best perspective of the space between the defensive backs and the receivers. The deep officials, meanwhile, would concentrate on the safety and linebacker play.

      4. Improve communication between players and officials.

      Further proof why Richard Sherman should be one of your favorite players in football. Check out the article, his explanations are on point. It's a shame, and not at all shocking, that the NFL won't heed his input and reasoning.
      Sherman's explanation about a communications improvement between players and officials is on the money:

      No. 4: Improve communication between players and officials. My only complaint about the actual job the officials are doing is the occasional lack of explanation for questionable calls. When they can’t or won’t explain themselves, it becomes difficult to play because you don’t know what you’re doing wrong.
      I get why some don’t talk. When coaches are screaming at them on a consistent basis, the human element kicks in and guys can shut down. But if you talk to them with respect, they talk to you with respect, and most of the officials will calmly explain a penalty. Yet for some reason, those aren’t the guys you see in the playoffs.
      With all that said, I’m ultimately nitpicking. The officials in the NFL are the best and most qualified in the world. Slamming them for doing the best job they can do is almost as ignorant as threatening Mr. Easley’s life over a touchdown. Take a deep breath, and remember: It’s just a game.
      Sherman is right. It is just a game and NFL refs are the best in the world. The rules they have to apply and the people to whom they report, however, are garbage.
    1. hobbes27's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Sullivan View Post
      Sherman's explanation about a communications improvement between players and officials is on the money:



      Sherman is right. It is just a game and NFL refs are the best in the world. The rules they have to apply and the people to whom they report, however, are garbage.


      Part of the problem sometimes in providing an explanation is that it leads to an argument or a confrontation with the player and that is something that some officials really don't want. Officials are human. They don't want to get into a back and forth questioning their judgment. If it was as simple as providing an explanation without getting into a huge back and forth, more officials might be apt to do so. But we know there are many players out there who believe they never commit a foul and would try to get into a pissing match with the official to change their mind. If Sherman has ideas how to improve communication between players and officials without it evolving into pissing matches, then that would certainly help.

      I don't blame the officials for what is going on. They are doing the best they can with what they are given. They are more scrutinized because of replay and social media than what has happened in the past. This is a NFL administrative issue. Most of Sherman's suggestions are spot on to improve things. Especially full-time officials, especially when the rulebook is as convoluted as it is. Why the NFL wouldn't want their officials to be dedicated to understanding their rulebook and focus 100% on officiating is beyond me. As that would help their product.

      It amazes me how the NFL prints money and is so popular and yet they can be so cheap and so much about pinching pennies and maximizing revenues. I think the NFL is suffering somewhat from what baseball did back in the 80s. MLB was so focused on making money that it lost sight on continuing to grow the brand and protect its image. The NFL might end up traveling down a similar road especially with this concussion stuff.
    1. Amy's Avatar
      re: Full time officials.

      In reality, both side, the NFL and the NLF Officals (who have a Union) want full time to become a reality. However a couple years ago in the Officials Lockout (remember replacement refs?) the NFLs proposal for that would have made every official an 'At Will' Employee.

      What that means is that the NFL could have fired any ref for any reason at all at any time with no notice. It would not have even had to be for job performance. If you didn't like a guys clothes, you could fire him, as a crazy, but albeit legal, example.

      Or, in other words, they wanted to be able to cut officials at any time.

      Needless to say, the NFLRA said no. Any union would say no to terms like that, or at least any Union with a solid understand of their leverage in a case like this. The fact that the officials are not full time, that they do not depend on the NFL for their living entirely allows the NFLRA to be prudent in negotiations and find a deal that is reasonable for their membership.

      I do think we will have full time officials in the next 10 years. I also think it won't happen until we have a new commish. Roger's not the sort of guy who seems to want to admit that he was wrong, and I suspect he'll hold the NFLRA's refusal to accept his bad deal against them.
    1. Bengals1181's Avatar
      In the Wild Card round just two weeks later, the exact opposite happened. Trailing only 13-10 at halftime to the Colts, and despite success running the football in the 1st half, the Bengals ran the ball only 5 times in the 2nd half, with one of those runs being a 3rd down scramble by Dalton. Down 10 midway through the 3rd, the Bengals called exactly one more run play the entire game. They hit full-on panic mode, and completely wilted under the pressure of the situation.

      in fairness, that game was much more about what was missing: AJ Green, Tyler Eifert, Marvin Jones and Jermaine Gresham. The #1 WR, #2 WR, #1 TE, and #2 TE.

      I agree they did abandon the run earlier than they needed to, but if memory serves, the Colts also stacked the box and dared the Bengals backup WR's to beat them. The Bengals leading WR in the game was Rex Burkhead, a RB playing WR for the first time.

      The issue for the Bengals this year is they have no running game to rely on. While they are racking up a lot of rushing TD's, the Bengals are one of the worst rushing teams in the league, after being I think 6th last season. Bengals fans are at a loss for what has happened. It's not getting any better though, and they got abused yesterday by the 31st ranked run D. McCarron didn't have a run game to rely on yesterday, and there seems to be nothing to suggest he will in the future.
    1. Bengals1181's Avatar
      so I asked in the chat, is Jay Gruden saving Kirk Cousins career, or is Kirk Cousins saving Jay Gruden's job?