And the fun continues. Entering week three, just as we’re starting to figure out who might be good and who might have taken a step back on the field this season, more teams are starting to lose guys to domestic violence issues off the field.
Arizona Cardinals RB Jonathan Dwyer is the latest Neanderthal (allegedly, I guess) to see his season affected. Allegations surfaced that Dwyer abused his girlfriend and an 18-month-old child. Classy. At least the Cardinals learned from the Vikings’ mistakes and immediately saw to it that Dwyer would not set foot on the field again in 2014 by putting him on the Reserve-Non Football Injury list. So part of what I’m watching will be how the Cardinals, already down a QB and playing a less-than-totally-healthy Andre Ellington at RB, react heading into a big game against San Francisco. Continue reading
It was a bad week for the NFL. A week dominated by bad news off the field ended with a weekend full of games more memorable for a flurry of injuries to big-name players, many of whom will be out several weeks, and for nationally televised, flag-ridden games that, at times, made the football unwatchable. The NFL is still at the top of the professional sports popularity poll, but many more weeks like this one and the league’s critics who say it’s on a downhill spiral may get their collective wish.
Here are some things we observed:
- Just how tone deaf are the Vikings owners? Less than two weeks after video surfaced of Ray Rice hitting his now-wife harder than Marcos Maidana and Floyd Mayweather hit each other last weekend, reports surfaced that Adrian Peterson beat the tar out of one of his children with a stick. After doing the right thing and deactivating Peterson for last week’s game with New England, ownership not only reversed course and made the ridiculously transparent decision to reinstate Peterson for week three, but forced coach Mike Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman into the position of defending the move behind the ridiculous assertion of letting the legal process play out.
A lot of what we’re watching this week deals with how teams respond to circumstances that have arisen on or off the field over the last week. Week two lacks sexy match-ups, but that doesn’t mean it’s devoid of story lines. Here are a few things we’re watching this week:
- How tough is Baltimore?
No team has been more distracted this week than Baltimore. The Ravens are under fire for their handling of the Ray Rice situation. Can they win a near must-win game against rival Pittsburgh and keep pace in the AFC North?
- Can Goodell survive?
Furthermore on that situation, the Rice situation left the NFL with a major black eye — and it was all so avoidable. Commissioner Roger Goodell has mishandled this situation from the start. It’s his job to protect “the shield,” and he has failed miserably in this case. Public sentiment is squarely against him and there are reports that he has lied about whether the league had access to the elevator security tape. The owners probably aren’t inclined to rock the boat considering that they’ve been printing cash during the Goodell era. But they also know the Rice situation has hurt the NFL’s brand they’ve worked so hard to build. Continue reading
As often happens in the NFL, Sunday brought a lot of unexpected. Among the most interesting things we saw this week:
- New England, New Orleans, Chicago and Green Bay are among teams with high expectations that didn’t look good at all and either lost big or stole defeat from the jaws of victory after getting out to a strong lead. That’s got to be particularly stressing for these teams though because all have high expectations for postseason play and each looks to have a formidable challenge ahead in week two:
o The Patriots have to go on the road to play a Minnesota team that looked far better than expected in dismantling St. Louis
o The Bears have to travel to San Francisco, with the 49ers coming off a game in which they had no trouble holding off Dallas and Chicago continued to look vulnerable to the run.
o The Saints looked brutal on defense and they now head to Cleveland. While they have more talent than the Browns, New Orleans never looks as good on the road, particularly on grass. Continue reading
|AFC East||New England||New England|
|Wild Card||San Diego||Kansas City|
|NFC North||Green Bay||Chicago|
|NFC South||New Orleans||New Orleans|
|Wild Card||San Francisco||Arizona|
|Wild Card||St. Louis||Tampa Bay|
|AFC Champion||Denver||New England|
|Super Bowl Champion||Denver||Chicago|
Andy: I know in most seasons there is a fair amount of turnover in playoff teams, but I just don’t see a lot of that happening this year. A lot of the really strong teams almost seemed to get stronger and I think there are even going to be some potential rematches to be had in 2014.
Tony: I so want to disagree with you, if for no other reason than it makes for more interesting writing. But, while typically between five to seven teams change over, I can’t see that happening this year, as I actually ended up with six of eight division winners from last year repeating. Continue reading