Frontline’s documentary on the NFL last week.
If you haven’t seen it, you absolutely have to set aside some time to watch it. It’s a great explanation of the brain damage problem for the league’s players.
The big, eye-opening take away for me is that the NFL is a fundamentally flawed sport and any rule changes to truly protect players will radically alter the game making it something totally different than what we all know and love.
There’s been much made of the rule changes to make the game safer. Quarterbacks are virtually untouchable. A defensive player gets in trouble for using his helmet as a weapon to tackle. He can’t lower his head into a player, either.
These slight tweaks already have some people upset. This ain’t the football we all grew up with, say those people.
Those rule changes do a little bit to protect players, but the Frontline documentary made it clear that the real damage to players’ brains doesn’t come from the one-off hits. It’s the repeated bashing of players’ heads against each other that causes brain damage. The offensive and defensive linemen are knocking heads all day, every day from the time they’re kids learning the game until they’re professionals. Those low-level repeat blows cause damage, and they are an intrinsic part of the game.
The only way, it seems, to protect players, and thus the game, is to design a safer helmet. Lets hope someone can do that. Otherwise, in the long run the game is going to take a serious hit in popularity.
Now, onto a much less serious topic: My horrible NFL picks. I got last night’s game wrong, taking the Cardinals +6. I blame my advisor, Tony Manfred. Never listening to him again. For the year, I am a dreadful 18-20-1. I need a big week to get things turned around. So, if you could pray for my picks, I would appreciate it.
Instead of the usual preamble about how I don’t really watch football, and no one should actually gamble on the games, let’s just dive right on in, ok?
All lines are from Las Vegas Hilton via Vegas Insider, and are current as of Friday morning, east coast time.
The New England Patriots are on the road against the New York Jets, who are getting 3.5 points.
The easy case against the Patriots: The Pats defence is missing Jerod Mayo and Vince Wilfork. Brady is not having a very good year thanks to weak receivers. The Jets defence is good and could very easily rattle Brady. Because these are division rivals, the Jets know the Pats, know their tricks. In the second week of the season, in New England, the Patriots only won 13-10, and the reason they won is that Jets rookie QB Geno Smith threw THREE interceptions in the fourth quarter. Smith should be a better player five weeks later.
All that said, still going with the Pats here. They are going to be fired up, and ready to attack. Plus, Rob Gronkowski is back, which should help Brady quite a bit.
The pick: Pats -3.5
For the non-gamblers in the audience, that means I think the Pats win by 4 points or more.
Houston Texans are on the road against the Kansas City Chiefs, who are 6.5 point favourites.
I can’t come up with any argument for the Texans, can you? My advisor on these picks (I called in an advisor since I’ve been so bad lately) says it’s a no brainer. Chiefs all the way.
The lock of the week: Chiefs -6.5
For the non-gamblers in the audience, that means I think the Chiefs win by 7 points or more.
Dallas Cowboys are on the road against the Philadelphia Eagles, who are 3 point favourites.
Personally, I want the Eagles to win this game. But I can’t figure out how they can win. Tony Romo is having a great season and the Eagles secondary is a joke. Eagles QB Nick Foles is playing well, but he’s only played against teams that haven’t won this year! The line went from Dallas -3 to Eagles -3, which is a crazy swing. The Cowboys are on the road, and they’ve lost a lot of players to injury, but still, the first line was right. As much as I don’t want it to happen, I think think Cowboys get this one.
The toothpick: Cowboys +3.
For the non-gamblers, that means I think the Cowboys either get the win, or the Eagles win by 3 or less.
Denver Broncos are on the road against the Indianapolis Colts, who are getting 6.5 points.
This is a really great game. My advisor is recommending the Colts here because the Broncos have a weak defence. The Colts lost last week, and it was largely because Andrew Luck’s receivers kept dropping the ball. My gut tells me to pick the Broncos, because Peyton Manning will want to smoke his old team, but I’m going to go against my gut here and hope for the best with Luck.
The lockness monster of the week: Colts +6.5
For the non-gamblers, that means I think the Colts either get the win, or the Broncos win by 6 or less.
Baltimore Ravens are on the road against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are 1.5 point favourites.
Two teams I don’t follow, and don’t care much for. In other words, this is a high risk pick! However, the Steelers aren’t very good. And the Ravens, while beat up, have had their moments.
Let’s hope for the best: Ravens +1.5
For the non-gamblers, that means I think the Ravens either get the win, or the Steelers win by 1.