For the image-conscious NFL it has certainly been an up-and-down year in the PR department. However, this Sunday, the league is participating in something that is truly good, and near and dear to my heart.
Next Tuesday is November 11, Remembrance Day, the day when we in Canada, Britain, and the rest of the Commonwealth honour the men and women who sacrificed so very much in wartime so that we can enjoy the freedom we do today. Of all the holidays and special occasions on the calendar, it is, to me, the most important. At Sunday’s Cowboys-Jaguars game in London’s Wembley Stadium, the NFL will partner with the Royal British Legion for a special commemoration of this sacred day. Both teams’ helmets and jerseys, as well as the field itself will feature a logo depicting the iconic Poppy. As well, uniforms and equipment from the game will be auctioned off, with proceeds going to the legion’s Poppy Appeal campaign.
I’ve always loved the Poppy as a symbol for peace. Poppies grow best in earth that has been churned up. In the scene described in the poem In Flanders Fields, “…the poppies blow/Between the crosses, row on row.” The idea of something so beautiful growing as a result of something so tragic really drives home the importance of remembering who those crosses represent, those who made the ultimate sacrifice for peace. So, we wear a Poppy, not to glorify war, but to remember its true cost. As the saying goes, those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
Lest we forget.
It’s Week 10, and the end of the season is still a fair bit away, but it’s already starting to look like top teams, the playoff contenders, and the no-hopes are showing who they really are. There are a couple of key matchups this week that I will have my eye on especially.
Last week, I was 10-3, while Mr. Silver went 7-6.
Chiefs at Bills
This should be a good one. I like the Bills for a number of reasons; they run the ball well, they get after the QB on defence, and they had the guts to shut down EJ Manuel and go with Kyle Orton. However, Fred Jackson and Sammy Watkins are hurting. I REALLY like this KC team, and I think that they’re a potential nightmare matchup for any team right now. Winner: Chiefs
Dolphins at Lions
I hate to say it, but it’s starting to look like I’m going to have to start taking this Miami team seriously. No time like the present. It’s not a tough choice, really; the ‘phins are tough against the run and pass, they run the ball well, and Ryan Tannehill has been playing well. So, with Miami going on the road to face a tough Lions team, let’s call this a challenge pick. Show me what you’re made of, Dolphins. Winner: Dolphins
Cowboys at Jaguars (at Wembley)
Dallas lost to a good Arizona squad last week (note: I picked the Cards, and before Tony Romo was ruled out), but even if Brandon Weeden plays this week, they should be good enough to beat the Jags. Winner: Cowboys
49ers at Saints
At 4-4, San Fran is on the ropes, well behind the NFC West-leading Cardinals, but still in the thick of a middling pack of wild card contenders. Not all 4-4s are created equal; New Orleans identical .500 record puts them atop the NFC South. For the Saints to win this one, they’ll have to score a bunch, they offence revolves around Drew Brees and the passing attack, and the 49ers’ defence isn’t as dominant as it was last year (and may be without Patrick Willis this week). Winner: Saints
Titans at Ravens
The Ravens Jimmy Smith-less secondary got staffed by Big Ben’s bombs last week, but there’s a fair bit less to worry about from a visiting offence that is one of the worst in the league. Winner: Ravens
Steelers at Jets
Terrible Jets secondary, meet the QB who has 12 TDs in his past two games. Winner: Steelers
Falcons at Buccaneers
When you’re switching back to Josh McCown at QB in hopes of giving your team a boost, your season is over. Atlanta, winless so far on the road, isn’t much better. Two playoff non-factors. I’ll take the team with the better passing attack. Winner: Falcons
Broncos at Raiders
Great rivalry, but a bit lopsided in terms of talent right now. Winner: Broncos
Rams at Cardinals
Arizona keeps doing their thing, and it keeps working. It’ll work again this week. Winner: Cardinals
Giants at Seahawks
Seattle’s offence is more than a bit off, but the defence is still good enough to hold off the Giants. Winner: Seahawks
Bears at Packers
Talent-wise, there’s absolutely no reason why Chicago isn’t playing better than they are. The Bears have been a huge disappointment (particularly to me, as I picked them to win this division). The Packers are exactly the team I thought they’d be; all offence, no defence. This game could be an entertaining offensive showcase. Whatever it turns out to be, I’m not exactly as high on the Bears as I was before. Winner: Packers
Panthers at Eagles
Talk about your tough choices. I’m well aware that this is not the same Panthers team that won its division last season, particularly on defence. The Eagles are a top-tier offence, and they’re playing at home. But Mark Sanchez, Mark-friggin’-Sanchez, on Monday Night Football?!? I just can’t. Let’s see Cam Newton work some Monday Night magic. That I can live with. Winner: Panthers
Mr. Silver's Picks