Last Week’s Record: 8-6
Season Record: 48-42
Generally speaking, it’s par for the course to have a handful of players go down with concussions over the span of the NFL Regular Season. But Sunday was enough to make any football fan’s head spin:
New England Patriots’ safety Brandon Merriweather was fined $50,000 for a helmet-to-helmet shot on Ravens’ tight end Todd Heap. Heap left the game with what was described as a neck stinger, but returned before halftime.
Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker and repeat offender James Harrison was fined $75,000 after sidelining two Cleveland Browns receivers. Joshua Cribbs was the first, with a hit which NFL officials ruled as legal. The second was a grotesque blow to the head of receiver Mohammed Massoquai.
However, I personally felt one head injury was the most disturbing and, quite frankly, scary. It’s not a word I use to describe NFL injuries very often, but Atlanta Falcons’ cornerback Dunta Robinson’s crushing helmet-to-helmet blow against Philadelphia Eagles’ receiver DeSean Jackson was enough to put both players out of the game and cost Robinson $50,000. Jackson even suffered a degree of memory loss.
In addition to these four nearly simultaneous instances, a fifth concussion was recorded during Monday night’s game between Tennessee and Jacksonville as Jaguars’ quarterback David Garrard went down in the second quarter, making five concussions in 48 hours.
I understand the side of the aisle arguing against Executive Vice President of Football Operations Ray Anderson’s decision to institute harsher penalties against helmet-to-helmet hits, including suspensions. The sentiment is the attempt to patrol helmet-to-helmet tackling is going to handcuff defensive players, thus depleting the competitive nature of the sport. Obviously, it will be difficult to enforce the ruling initially, since certain tackles can blur the line between intent and instinct, but I find myself in 100 percent agreement with Anderson’s ruling here. The frequency of helmet-to-helmet hits and the regularity of concussions in the NFL is absolutely out of control. A measure of alleviation has to be taken.
Other points of interest:
The Green Bay Packers have lost two weeks in a row in overtime. How badly do you think Aaron Rodgers wants the game to stay in regulation next Sunday night, especially against Brett Favre and division rival Minnesota?
The San Diego Chargers, a team many predicted to win the AFC West by a landslide, are now 2-4. It doesn’t get any easier for the Bolts either, they play a New England Patriots team that’s playing like they did during their "Dynasty" years.
The Kansas City Chiefs should not have lost their game. With the Chiefs, it seems they either play with an anemic offense and one of the best defenses in the league or a productive offense and a defense more porous than swiss cheese. The pass interference call against Brandon Flowers was bogus. It gave the Texans field position they didn’t deserve. However, aside from the momentary lapse in judgment by game officials, the Chiefs defense exhibited serious issues with reading the plays in the final three-and-a-half minutes of the game. The Chiefs defense has some work to do.
Guess who finally showed up this past weekend? The Saints finally played like the pass-happy team that got the job done last season. As long as this is the team we see each week, Atlanta might not have a runaway in the race for the NFC South.
How awesome do the New York Jets look right now? Once again, LaDainian Tomlinson proved he’s back from the dead with two more scores against a team that, quite frankly, has become accustomed to letting him score. As a side note, Tim Tebow scored his first career touchdown on Sunday. Great, moving on.
The San Francisco 49ers knocked off the Oakland Raiders for their first win on Sunday. For those keeping score at home, that leaves two teams that are still winless (Carolina Panthers and Buffalo Bills) and one team that will still be winless after next week (Buffalo Bills).
In last week’s column, I said the team that lost the Dallas Cowboys/Minnesota Vikings should hit the panic button immediately. Dallas took home the loss. At 1-4, I’d be surprised to see head coach Wade Phillips last the entire season. I see Jerry Jones giving him breathing room for three more losses at the most. Phillips almost didn’t need to invoke the college rule on excessive celebration anyhow, since, at 1-4, there’s hardly anything to celebrate. As for the other side, Favre and the Vikings shouldn’t be resting on their laurels either, they’re not out of the woods just yet.
As far as my reservations about the Eagles starting Kevin Kolb are concerned, consider me silenced. As long as the Eagles continue to play like they did on Sunday, Kolb can start as many games as possible. But just as an insurance policy, hurry back soon Michael Vick.
Last week, I extended an excited congratulation to fellow Dobbins Middle School and Hiram High School alum Trevard Lindley, who snagged the game-sealing interception in the Sunday night game between the Eagles and the 49ers. I made sure to congratulate him via Facebook the following Monday morning. I’m thrilled I was able to have a brush with fame like this. I’m very proud of Trevard; hopefully he gets more face time this season.
Let’s get to the picks. For the third week in a row, I finished with an 8-6 record. In hopes of getting over the proverbial hump this week, here’s the forecast:
• Atlanta Falcons (4-2) over Cincinnati Bengals (2-3), 21-17
• Pittsburgh Steelers (4-1) over Miami Dolphins (3-2), 24-19
• Baltimore Ravens (4-2) over Buffalo Bills (0-5), 41-7(oh, the humanity…)
• Kansas City Chiefs (3-2) over Jacksonville Jaguars (3-3), 23-0
• New Orleans Saints (4-2) over Cleveland Browns (1-5), 34-9
• Washington Redskins (3-3) over Chicago Bears (4-2), 31-14
• Carolina Panthers (0-5) over San Francisco 49ers (1-5), 20-10
• St. Louis Rams (3-3) over Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-2), 23-13
• Philadelphia Eagles (4-2) over Tennessee Titans (4-2), 27-24 (OT)
• Seattle Seahawks (3-2) over Arizona Cardinals (3-2), 17-12
• New England Patriots (4-1) over San Diego Chargers (2-4), 30-13
• Denver Broncos (2-4) over Oakland Raiders (2-4), 16-7
• Green Bay Packers (3-3) over Minnesota Vikings (2-3), 22-17
• New York Giants (4-2) over Dallas Cowboys (1-4), 38-24