(Another note: If you're so inclined, you can follow me on Twitter: @GFHowie)
Well, I made it all the way to Week 4 without one of those idiots getting to me.
I try. I mean, I really try to focus on the game. Unfortunately, I like to keep up on things, which means I have to make forays into the mainstream media to look for information. And that’s when, invariably, I see something that pisses me off.
One of the fairly recent developments in the NFL that I really like is the fact the mechanisms that the league put in place to limit rookie salaries. I watched for years as high draft picks signed progressively more ridiculous contracts, guaranteed bonuses in the tens of millions of dollars, plus salaries that often eclipsed those of proven NFL veterans, based on college statistics, and without ever having played a down of professional football.
So, you can well imagine how frustrated I was to read this post by Mike Florio on NBC’s PFT. Specifically this paragraph:
It’s believed that the 2011 rookies who have become great players will be lining up at their owners’ doors, demanding the money that was kept from them by a system aimed at keeping windfalls from going to incoming players who never earn it. From Panthers quarterback Cam Newton to Bengals receiver A.J. Green to Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson to Falcons receiver Julio Jones to Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt, guys taken at the top of the draft two-plus years ago will want next year what they should have gotten in the first place.
The phrases “…kept from them…” and “…what they should have gotten in the first place,” indicates clearly that Florio would be much more comfortable with a system that awards multi-million dollar guarantees to college superstars like Ryan Leaf, JaMarcus Russell, Vernon Gholston, and Matt Leinart. Or, you know, you could endorse the current system which makes players earn the big contracts. All of the players mentioned on the excerpted paragraph have earned the opportunity to sign a big contract due to superior play at the pro level. If anything, the new rookie salary scale motivated them, rather than hindered them. Florio’s failure to understand this is baffling, but is indicative of a streak of arrogance which has pervaded his site since he sold out to NBC and became a blow-dried TV talking head. Case in point: in the very next paragraph of the same post, he makes this statement:
While there’s no disputing that Broncos linebacker Von Miller and 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith are among the best defensive players in the league, off-field issues could make their teams more reluctant to make a gigantic financial investment in them after only three seasons.
No disputing, eh. Well allow me to retort. Aldon Smith is in rehab, because he’s an idiot millionaire drunk driver, and will not be playing for a while. He may not even play again this season, if Uncle Roger steps up and makes the example out of him that the league sorely needs. Von Miller hasn’t played at all this season. He was suspended for six games; four is the standard for violating the league’s drug policy, plus they tacked on an extra two games because he attempted to cheat the drug testing procedure (Aside: It’s been alleged that Miller conspired with someone from the drug testing company to beat the test; if this is true, Miller should be suspended indefinitely, and should have to apply to the league for reinstatement.). Anyway, my point is this: how can you be “among the best” anything in the NFL if you’re not playing. Smith and Miller are criminals. Besides that, they’re selfish; their actions have hurt their respective teams. Are they talented? Sure. Fat lot of good that’s doing the 49ers and Broncos right now. Sitting on my couch watching the games this week, I guarantee you I will have just as many sacks and tackles as both Smith and Miller put together. Football, Florio; you remember football, don’t you? It’s played on a field.
Indianapolis is coming off a HUGE road win against San Francisco, and would be prime pickings if they were playing a competent team. Alas, it’s just the Jags. Winner: Colts
Seahawks at Texans
If you had asked me three weeks ago, I’d have said that this would be a titanic struggle, and that the Texans would prevail at home. However, after watching Houston’s offence struggle mightily as the team squeaked out wins against the Colts and the Chargers , then lost to the Ravens, I’m seriously starting to question whether the Texans are the contenders I thought they’d be this season. The Seahawks, on the other hand, have lived up to and beyond expectations thus far. If they can win against a tough opponent on the road, they will become the NFC’s frontrunner for certain. Winner: Seahawks
Ravens at Bills
Buffalo is coming off a horrible performance on the road against the Jets, where they lost in spite of the fact that New York was penalized (this is not a misprint) 20 times for 168 yards! CJ Spiller is banged-up, and isn’t a lock to play this week. EJ Manuel is talented, but erratic. The defence is a mess. Baltimore’s offence showed some signs of life last week against Houston. That’s bad news for the Bills, especially considering how much better the Ravens’ defence has looked on a week-to-week basis. Winner: Ravens
Bengals at Browns
Cincy is coming off a big win against the Packers. Sure, it was a sloppy, turnover-filled affair, but a comeback from 16 points down in a game where you give up 30 consecutive points to a top team is impressive no matter how you do it. Travelling to Cleveland has the whiff of “trap game” all over it. Sudden genius Marvin Lewis should have his Bengals ready. Winner: Bengals
Cardinals at Buccaneers
So, “As Tampa Turns” continues. In this episode, QB Josh Freeman gets benched for rookie Mike Glennon. The Cardinals got thumped by New Orleans last week, but the Bucs sure ain’t the Saints. Winner: Cardinals
Steelers at Vikings (In Jolly Old England)
Pittsburgh showed a bit of life against Chicago last week before turnovers did them in. Ben Roethlisberger got a little careless with the ball, and I bet he’s pretty pissed at himself. The Vikes gave up 31 points to the Brian Hoyer-quarterbacked Browns. Matt Cassel gets the start at QB for Minnesota this week. Also key is the fact that this is not a true home game for the Vikings; they'd probably do better in one of the Scandinavian countries. Winner: Steelers
Giants at Chiefs
Sure, there are lots of fans rooting for terrible teams, but is there anything quite as exquisite as the agony that Giants’ fans must be feeling about now? I mean, they expect their team to be good, and they are just absolutely horrible. Not that the Carolina Panthers aren’t a talented team, but 38-0! Now the turnover-prone Gothamites have to go into one of the loudest barns in the league to face a legitimately good defence and a QB who does not turn the ball over. I’m just sayin’… Winner: Chiefs
Bears at Lions
Chicago handled these guys last year, earning the season sweep. The Bears are better this year, particularly in pass protection, which is bad news for the Lions, who have a strong pass rush, but have not improved appreciably anywhere else on defence. Detroit’s offence upgraded slightly with the acquisition of Reggie Bush, but he’s less than 100%. Also, #2 wideout Nate Burleson is out, putting the focus of Detroit’s offence on, surprise surprise, Megatron. The Bears handled him pretty well last year, too. Winner: Bears
Jets at Titans
I’m starting to believe in the Tennessee renaissance (Tennessance?), especially after they pulled one out against San Diego last week. I still believe in the Jets. Believe that they’re terrible, that is. Winner: Titans
Washington at Raiders
I’d be comfortable picking Oakland if I knew that Terrelle Pryor was healthy. I really like this kid. I watched the Monday nighter against the Broncos; Pryor was under intense pressure all night, but he hung in and kept his cool. Pryor has a lot of talent and a good attitude. I hope, for the sake of Raider fans that he gets developed properly. They can build around this guy. This game sucks. Winner: Washington
Eagles at Broncos
As intrigued as I am about how Philly’s offence matches up against Denver, I still don’t think the Eagles will quite be able to keep up with the Broncos’ offence, which is quickly moving towards juggernaut status. Winner: Broncos
Cowboys at Chargers
Are either of these teams any good? Based on what I’ve seen of them thus far, neither is a contender. I’m basing this pick on the Cowboys’ big win last week against St. Louis. I had the distinct displeasure of watching the Rams’ putrid offence in action this past Thursday, and going from Sam Bradford to Philip Rivers could be a bit of a shock to the Dallas defence. Winner: Chargers
Patriots at Falcons
This looks like a bad matchup for Atlanta right now. New England doesn’t have to crowd the box to stop the run, allowing them to focus on pass defence. Pats CB Aqib Talib is big and physical enough to handle Falcons WR Julio Jones with Safety help over the top, which is easier to provide consistently when Roddy White is less than 100%. This game will be won or lost based on how much progress Tom Brady has made with his new young receivers. The injury-depleted Falcons’ defence should give Brady the time and space he needs. Winner: Patriots
Dolphins at Saints
This is another game where I’m more focused on who isn’t playing than who is. Star Miami DE Cameron Wake will either be playing hurt, or not at all, and getting pressure on Drew Brees is imperative for any defensive unit that wants to stop the Saints’ offence. I might have been tempted to pick the Dolphins here, but not without a healthy Wake. Winner: Saints