MINNEAPOLIS — It wasn’t much of a football game on Thursday night, but it did prove one thing: The National Football League provides its fans with a better game when its on-field officials are as good as its players.
No question that a number of calls were missed in Thursday night’s 23-16 Baltimore win over Cleveland. Failing to call a helmet-to-helmet hit on the Joshua Cribbs assault was bad for the sport, but having said that, the officials who worked the game did a much better job than the replacement officials.
That’s because, as bad as the game was, it had flow. There weren’t a host of silly penalties, a litany of crazy calls and an inability to keep the game moving along. As soon as the officials are on the TV screen more often than the players, you know you have a problem. On Thursday night, that problem didn’t exist.
With the real officials back, there is an increased chance that the better teams will win. There is less chance there will be a crazy call on a final play or a series of calls that nobody can see or understand — even on replay.
The Doc and The Coach were horrible last week. The Doc was 6-10 straight up last week (21-27) and an unimpressive 2-14 against the spread (11-37) while The Coach went 6-10 straight up (24-24) and 5-11 (18-30) against the spread.
It has not been good, but we certainly aren’t going to quit now. There is less chance that mess in Seattle from last Monday will ever happen again. Once again, The Doc writes our justifications while The Coach sits back and makes snarky remarks:
New England Patriots (1-2) at Buffalo Bills (2-1)
Line: Patriots by 4.
In one of nine Sunday division games, it’s worth noting New England has the best division record in the NFL since the 2002 realignment (.783) and has a current 21-2 run against the Bills…oh and there’s this little fact that Buffalo has lost 21 of past 25 to AFC East foes. Make it 22.
THE DOC: TAKE THE PATRIOTS TO WIN AND COVER.
THE COACH: TAKE THE PATRIOTS TO WIN AND COVER.
Minnesota Vikings (2-1) at Detroit Lions (1-2)
Line: Lions by 4 ½
Minnesota has surprised a lot of people with their play so far this year on both sides of the ball. I still like Detroit’s hurt quarterback more than I like Minnesota’s hurt quarterback though. The Coach says: “The Roar will be Restored! The Roar will be Restored!”
THE DOC: TAKE THE LIONS TO WIN BUT NOT COVER.
THE COACH: TAKE THE LIONS TO WIN AND COVER.
Carolina Panthers (1-2) at Atlanta Falcons (3-0)
Line: Falcons by 7.
The Falcons are flying high these days behind a hot Matt Ryan and a defense that already has forced a league-high 11 turnovers.. The Panthers have had a while to prepare since their humiliating loss to the Giants on last week’s Thursday nighter…but it won’t be enough. Atlanta has won four in a row in this series…Sunday will make it five. The Coach says: “The Falcons could be the best team in the NFL right now.”
THE DOC: TAKE THE FALCONS TO WIN AND COVER.
THE COACH: TAKE THE FALCONS TO WIN AND COVER.
San Francisco 49ers (2-1) at New York Jets (2-1)
Line: 49ers by 4.
Tough spot for the 49ers as they haven’t been home in over a week and have just come off a loss against the Vikings. The Jets on the other hand, barely beat Miami last week. And now they face the rest of the season without Darrelle Revis. Can Tebow play defense? The Coach says, “I’m hoping the 49ers are really pissed off about the way they played in Minnesota last week.”
THE DOC: TAKE THE 49ers TO WIN AND COVER.
THE COACH: TAKE THE 49ers TO WIN AND COVER.
San Diego Chargers (2-1) at Kansas City Chiefs (1-2)
Line: Chiefs by 1.
I’m not buying into the Chiefs being a good team after they beat the Saints last week. Chargers in a rout. The Coach Says: “Saw the Chargers last week. They really aren’t very good. What’s wrong with Norv Turner and Philip Rivers?”
THE DOC: TAKE THE CHARGERS IN AN UPSET.
THE COACH: TAKE THE CHIEFS TO WIN AND COVER.
Tennessee Titans (1-2) at Houston Texans (3-0)
Line: Texans by 12.
The Texans, right now, are the best team in football. The warm, fuzzy feeling people have for this “Houston-new vs. Houston-old” match up will be replaced for a warm, sympathetic feeling for the (not so) Titans. Arian Foster will run wild at home in this one. The Coach says: “Yawn…”
THE DOC: TAKE THE TEXANS TO WIN AND COVER.
THE COACH: TAKE THE TEXANS TO WIN BUT NOT COVER.
Seattle Seahawks (2-1) at St. Louis Rams (1-2)
Line: Seahawks by 2.5
Pete Carroll is probably the only NFL coach who didn’t want the real refs back. His team is better than the Rams, corrupt refs or no corrupt refs. The Coach says: “Jeff Fisher’s Rams have the personnel and the sense of immediacy to win at home. Seattle is NOT that good.”
THE DOC: TAKE THE SEAHAWKS TO WIN AND COVER.
THE COACH: TAKE THE RAMS IN AN UPSET.
Miami Dolphins (1-2) at Arizona Cardinals (3-0)
Line: Cardinals by 6.
I think it’s fair to say that Arizona has had one of the best defenses in so far this season…and safety Adrian Wilson will return for this one. The Cards will continue their strong start against Miami’s rookie quarterback. Miami has also lost eight of its past ten road games, so this one won’t be pretty. The Coach says, “Ryan Tannehill’s wife is smokin’ hot. And that’s about all you can say about the Dolphins.”
THE DOC: TAKE THE CARDINALS TO WIN AND COVER.
THE COACH: TAKE THE CARDINALS TO WIN AND COVER.
Oakland Raiders (1-2) at Denver Broncos (1-2)
Line: Broncos by 6.5.
This will be the game that Peyton gets on track…I just don’t think the Raiders are that good aside from their running game.
THE DOC: TAKE THE BRONCOS TO WIN AND COVER.
THE COACH: TAKE THE BRONCOS TO WIN AND COVER.
Cincinnati Bengals (2-1) at Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2)
Line: Bengals by 2.5.
The Jaguars actually own the Bengals at home (7-2 all time), but the Bengals are the better team. The tandem of Andy Dalton and A.J. Green should have a very good day. The Coach says: “Take A.J. Green in your fantasy leagues this week. He’s going to rip it up against the Jags secondary.”
THE DOC: TAKE THE BENGALS TO WIN AND COVER.
THE COACH: TAKE THE BENGALS TO WIN AND COVER.
New Orleans Saints (0-3) at Green Bay Packers (1-2)
Line: Packers by 7.5.
This season the only thing that has been worse than the replacement refs has been the replacement coaches in New Orleans. Might have to put extra bulbs in the scoreboard for this one.
THE DOC: TAKE THE PACKERS TO WIN BIG AND COVER.
THE COACH: TAKE THE PACKERS TO WIN AND COVER.
Washington Redskins (1-2) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-2)
Line: Buccaneers by 3.
This is a tough one. Me thinks RG3 is a better QB right now than Josh Freeman will ever be, but there is this little fact that the Bucs have won six in a row over the ‘Skins at home. Even though the Bucs have struggled on offense lately I expect them to pull this one off at home.
THE DOC: TAKE THE BUCS TO WIN AND COVER.
THE COACH: TAKE THE BUCS TO WIN AND COVER.
New York Giants (2-1) at Philadelphia Eagles (2-1)
Line: Eagles by 1.5.
I think the odds makers have a couple of replacement refs on their staff…how can else can you explain the Eagles being the favourite (other than home field advantage)? The Giants are coming off a big blow out win against the Panthers, they’ve had extra time after playing last Thursday, and they get Ahmad Bradshaw back but more importantly probably Hakeem Nicks, too. It will be fun to watch Michael Vick run for his life from the Giants pass rush…
THE DOC: TAKE THE GIANTS IN AN UPSET.
THE COACH: TAKE THE GIANTS IN WHAT REALLY ISN’T AN UPSET
Chicago Bears (2-1) at Dallas Cowboys (2-1)
Line: Cowboys by 3.
This is a great match up for three reasons; 1) It’s a decent matchup on Monday Night Football; 2) Both teams are 2-1, and 3) It’s “Cowgirl Night” at Hooters! Seriously, this will be a great game for those who like serious defense. Dallas’ defense leads the NFL with 250 average yards allowed. Chicago’s defense is coming off a six-sack, two-interception game. Matt Forte’s expected return has a great twist for the Bears, but I like the Boys at home. The Coach says: “I liked the Cowboys after Week 1, but I don’t like them anymore. Meanwhile, Israel Idonije from Brandon, Man., and the University of Manitoba had his best week as a pro last week. Look out, Tony!”
THE DOC: TAKE THE DOC TO WIN BECAUSE HE GETS TO HOST MNF AT HOOTERS. (COWBOYS TO WIN AND COVER).