Oct 27, 2010
Helmet to Helmet, the Undead, Joan Rivers, Rookie Nookie, Yo Gabba Gabba, a Busey-Trump Lovechild, Crunch Bars, Reese Cups, and Wonder WoMan
So I’m looking at my calendar and amongst all of the meetings, calls and reminders, two things are jumping out at me: 1) Winona Ryder’s birthday is Friday, and 2) this Sunday is Halloween. When you write an NFL-centric weekly blog, post, column, or whatever the heck this is, and the upcoming slate of games takes place on Halloween, you may feel compelled to write something that capitalizes on this occurrence. Well, consider me compelled. Honestly, I find it perfectly fitting at this point in the season since most NFL teams have thus far been masquerading as something completely different than what most of us had suspected. The Cowboys look like the Lions, the Vikings look like the Rams, the Rams look like the Cardinals, the Cards look like the Buccaneers, the Bucs look like the Chargers, the Chargers are looking more like the Raiders, etc, etc, etc. Trying to pick the games this season has been like trying to pick Joan Rivers out of a lineup consisting of herself, a bunch of was mannequins of herself, and a few mostly hairless starving poodles. Just shield your eyes, point and hope for the best.
Modern-day Halloween is all about costumes, candy, parties, and uncomfortable dress-up days at the office but it’s important to know that Halloween wasn’t always the sugar-fueled, dress-like-a-skank day that we have all come to know and love. Much like the United States of America and Heidi Montag, today Halloween looks very different from what was originally intended. Created as a combination of Celtic and Catholic holidays (Samhain, All Saints’ Day, All Souls Day) and a Roman festival (Feralia), it was originally billed as a day when the dead could return to earth and ancient Celts (like Red Auerbach) would light bonfires (and cigars) and wear scary costumes in hopes of warding off these rotting unwelcomed guests. Over time, and with the absence of any actual appearances of the undead, it became pretty boring and eventually morphed into “Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat!” This is not a bad thing, I mean I’d rather have my kids dressing up like a mouse and a pumpkin and bringing home pillowcases full of candy that I can pilfer through rather than having them walking around with soul cakes and trying to lure the ghost of old man Withers to the house. In this case and in this way, change is good. (Yes, a mouse and a pumpkin, I know. We originally had other ideas but, well, whatever.)
The NFL is ever-changing as well, mostly for the good but most recently maybe not. The recent edict from the commissioner’s office regarding helmet-to-helmet hits carries with it a very real possibility of being a game changer. The edict states that any helmet-to-helmet hits on defenseless players can and will be met with fines and suspensions, even for first time offenders. Helmet-to-helmet contact has always been an unwritten no-no in boy/girl/boy adult films but only recently has the NFL become so concerned about it. I don’t necessarily disagree with the rule or the enforcement and accompanying consequences for the guilty parties but I do believe that it’s going to create a whole lot of gray area where subjectivity and attempts to prove intent will cause some headaches (pun intended).
Something certainly needed to be done before the recent rash of concussions was dwarfed by a hematoma and death on the field, and short of an all-new super protective helmet made of space age polymers and a sprinkling of fairy dust, that something had to be a measure to reduce the number of violent skull-jarring collisions in the game. But the problem with the stepped-up enforcement and penalties is going to cause problems. Mainly, which helmet-to-helmet collisions are okay and which ones aren’t? Is it okay on running plays but not on passing plays? Is it okay for an offensive player to pull a Hines Ward on Keith Rivers cheap shot but not the other way around? Is it okay for a fullback to coco-butt a linebacker in the hole? Is it okay for two defensive linemen to meet at the quarterback, have him in their grasp and another defender to come in, hit the quarterback helmet-to-helmet and have the whole pile go down in a heap? The answer to that one is “apparently so” because it happened to Carson Palmer in Atlanta last Sunday and didn’t draw a flag, a fine, or a suspension. And what happens when there’s another Sunday like we had in Week 6 with three big hits resulting in concussions, only this time the victims are not defenseless wide receivers but instead maybe a safety hit by a fullback, a cornerback crumpled by a tight end, and a linebacker clocked by a pulling guard? And what if, God forbid, one of them doesn’t get up? Is that the day when the game changes, really changes, and is never the same? Is that the day the road is paved to a land where football player’s headgear gets so big that they all look like they’re dressed up like Dark Helmet, sans the cape, or when the NFL becomes the NFFL (the first “F” is for Flag)?
Player safety has to be the top priority and the NFL has the difficult job of having to find a way to ensure that safety without compromising the speed, power and violent fury which make up a great deal of the attraction to this bright, shiny cavalcade of chaos. I hope they’re successful because I’d hate to open my door one Halloween night to find a kid in an NFL player costume consisting of a jersey, pants, cleats, a huge inflatable helmet and flags hanging off of his hips. If I see that kid, he’s definitely not getting one of the full-size Crunch bars.
Bring on the matchups!....
Bills at Chiefs-
Quick, tell me which team is ranked #1 in the NFL in passing right now? Nope. Try again. …. No. It’s neither of these two. But the Chiefs do have the #1 running game in the league. That Jamaal Charles is phenomenal. He’s like trying to catch a mongoose that just knocked back few cans of Red Bull. This is bad news for the Bills who have the 2nd-worst run defense in the league and are allowing over 33 points per game. Also bad news for the Bills; when they get on the plane to come back home after this one, they’ll land in Buffalo.
Pick: Chiefs, 33-20
Jaguars at Cowboys-
Being 1-5 and having Jon Kitna as their starting quarterback was not exactly the plan Dallas had when they broke training camp a couple months ago. Combine Kitna’s arm strength with the brain power of Wade Phillips and you couldn’t harness enough energy to ring a doorbell. What’s that? Oh, someone’s knocking at the door. Hello? Oh…. Hey Jerry, a couple of guys are out here with the Draft Clock. They want to know if you’d like to get on it yet.
Pick: Jaguars, 20-16
Panthers at Rams-
A little rookie nookie in the Lou this Sunday! Rookie QBs Jimmy Claussen and Sam Bradford will both try not to lose to a rookie quarterback.
Pick: Rams, 20-10
Packers at Jets-
The Jets are 5-1, rested after being on leave last week, have a healthy Darrelle Revis coming back, and are welcoming in a banged up Packers team which is coming down off the emotional high of defeating their former king. Definitely good times for Tater Salad and the boys. Although they may want to keep an eye on wideout Santonio Holmes. It’s been reported that Holmes spent the off week at his home in Atlanta and went to see a live performance of Yo Gabba Gabba with his daughter. I don’t know if you’ve got young children and have ever seen this show but take it from me; it’s a complete acid trip. If Holmes has the same reaction I did, he’ll have nothing but “There’s a party in my tummy… So yummy, So yummy!” running through his head all week.
Pick: Jets, 21-13
Dolphins at Bengals-
To all those who have been clamoring for Bengals offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski to be fired, here’s something for you to chew on…. The Bengals are currently ranked 8th in the league in total offense and 6th overall in passing offense. The defense, however, is ranked 20th, are allowing 4.5 yards per carry and are tied for second-last in the league with just six sacks. I believe the defense has it in them to turn it around but so far they’ve been easier to abuse than that house on the street that leaves out a bowl of Reese Cups on Halloween night with a note that reads “PLEASE TAKE ONE PER PERSON”.
Pick: Dolphins, 28-23
Redskins at Lions-
Matthew Stafford is back for Detroit and just in time to feast on the league’s 2nd-worst defense. Oh and uh, does anyone remember who the Lions beat to snap their 19-game losing streak last season? Here’s a hint: It starts with an “R” and ends with an “edskins”. No, not the Buccaneers. I said, it starts wi… No, not the Bills. Listen, it starts with an “R” and ends wi… No, not the Orioles. Wait. Orioles? What are you talking about? …. There’s a party in your tummy? Hurry, we need a pot of black decaf and two large seashells, stat!
Pick: Lions, 26-23
Broncos vs Niners (in London)-
Damn the Niners, damn them straight to jolly old England!
By the way, it appears as if London’s mayor is the love child of Gary Busey and Donald Trump.
Pick: Broncos, 24-16
Titans at Chargers-
Every week I talk about it and every week it gets more and more ridiculous. The Chargers are now #1 in the league in total offense and #1 in the league in total defense but somehow they keep losing. How on earth can a team have the #1 offense, the #1 defense and be 2-5? Four words: Turnovers and Norv Turner. Not good times in The Whales Vagina and it gets even tougher this Sunday (see: Burgundy, Ron). Not only is the Titans defense leading the league in interceptions but they’ve also allowed only one rushing touchdown against them this season. Oh, and if you’re looking for something else to watch for in this one, how about sacks? The Titans and Chargers are tied with one another for the league lead in getting to opposing quarterbacks with 25 sacks each so far this season. Whew, that was a lot of stats. I feel drained, dirty and more than a bit nerdy.
Pick: Titans, 20-16
Buccaneers at Cardinals-
Wow, are the Bucs for real? Yes, they are as real as their cheerleaders’ breasts.
It’s Cheerleader Posedown Time!
Pick: Bucs, 24-10
Vikings at Patriots-
This game is big for two reasons- 1) Brett Favre may miss his first game since 1936 due to a fractured ankle, and 2) It’s the return of Randy Moss to Foxboro. If you ever doubted how much of a badass Bill Belichick is, the fact that he dealt Moss away knowing he’d be coming back to seek revenge just three weeks later should have you convinced. The dude is fearless. Oh, and you know that somewhere in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area this week, a doctor holding a set of ankle x-rays in an envelope must’ve cracked a joke about receiving a picture of one of Brett Favre’s body parts, right?
Pick: Patriots, 27-20
Seahawks at Raiders-
I don’t necessarily believe in all that dead returning to the earth stuff but if I were the Seahawks, I’d wear costumes and light a bonfire just in case.
Pick: Raiders, 26-24
Steelers at Saints-
If there’s a place that knows about costumes and spirits, it’s New Orleans. It should be worth tuning in just to see the shots of all the crazy costumes in the Superdome stands Sunday night. Proving that you can indeed bet on anything, here are some of the Vegas odds for this one:
Odds on the Saints scoring at least one rushing touchdown… 2:1
Over/Under on total points scored… 38
Odds on the Saints scoring on a kick return… 12:1
Over/Under on the number of interceptions Drew Brees will throw… 2
Odds on someone in the stands being dressed as Alf… 150:1
Odds on there being a woman wearing in the stands wearing nothing but gold body paint… 3:1
Odds on someone being dressed as Nancy Pelosi with a cleaver in her skull… 10:1
Over/Under on the number of fans dressed as a current or former President… 75
Odd on a man being in the stands dressed like Wonder Woman… 5:1
Odds on Ben ROFLsberger making lewd advances to a woman in the stands wearing nothing but gold body paint… 3:2
Odds on Ben ROFLsberger making lewd advances to a man in the stands dressed like Wonder Woman… EVEN
Pick: Steelers, 24-19
Texans at Colts-
Manning and the Colts are seeking to avenge their Week 1 loss in Houston but they’ll have to do it without tight end Dallas Clark who’s out after undergoing season-ending wrist surgery. They'll also have to get past something that's been known for centuries to become dizzy and powerless.... Cheerleaders with a cauldron full of beer!
Pick: Texans, 30-28
Posted by Smitty