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These Flags Are KILLING Me…

…and everyone else of course, right?

Big topic around the league recently.  Simply because all of these penalties being called in the NFL has somewhat affected “watchability” of the game itself…for the Blowhard anyway.  Especially the Dallas Cowboy/New York Jet game last week, where near the end of the game there were penalties called on SIX CONSECUTIVE PLAYS.  Believe me, I hate both of those teams so I had no interest in watching either of those clowns.  BUT, of course, I had the Cowboys in not one, not two, but THREE knockout pools.  (Thanks Jason Garrett!!).  Shame on me…but I digress…

Listen, officials could call pass interference, holding, illegal contact and several other penalties on EVERY play if they wanted to.  Doesn’t it seem like they actually ARE calling them on every play now though?

Yeah, yeah, every year the NFL Competition Committee hands down some “points of emphasis” for the officials to start clamping down on.  But by Week 6, a lot of those infractions that were called in the preseason and the early regular season weeks to get the players’ attention have been virtually eliminated.  Start out strong, then wane down as the season progresses.  Seems to happen every year.

Not this season, I don’t think.

Is it more than “point of emphasis” calls then?

I don’t know.

But what I do know is that the biggest change of the offseason was giving the head coaches the ability to challenge offensive pass interference calls.  Due to the atrocity that occurred in the NFC Championship Game last season.

But you know what?  They aren’t reversing any of those.  Or a fraction anyway.

So why bother with that rule now?

People are blaming everyone from the Commissioner to the Competition Committee, to the owners, to the coaches, to Senior VP of Officiating Al Riveron, to the refs themselves.  Who do I blame?  All of them!!  Let’s face it, they all have a role in this mess.  But where doe the largest piece of blame pie go?


I know, some penalties cannot be even replayed and thus confirmed or overturned.  But because we have it available I feel like it is a root cause.  The officials have a split second in real time to make a determination on everything.  We as fans see 9,000 different angles of each play within seemingly a split second.

The fact that it exists just provides a little bit of pressure on the officials to “get everything right”, no?

I’m almost at the point where I don’t want replay in ANY sport.  It seems to be killing most sports.  “Killing” may be a bit strong.  But it’s putting a dent in a lot of them.  My opinion anyway.

These sports have existed for decades on human judgment.  And other than a few egregious calls over the last century or two, we all seemed to have lived with it.

You couldn’t pay me any amount of money to be an official in any sport.  No one likes you.  The players are all bigger and faster and stronger and all than they ever have been.  And it is IMPOSSIBLE to see everything.  Yes, some of the officials across the board are old and fat.  But it’s even tough for the younger and athletic ones to stay on top of stuff.

And now we have replay looking to see if a pinkie came off the second base bag or a skate was a fraction over the blue line or a there was a slight bobble while a receiver is heading out of bounds…etc., etc., etc.

Enough is enough.

I never thought I would say this, but we need to go back to the days of no replay and human judgment/error.  On top of that, we need to “let the boys play” a little bit.

And just deal with the consequences.

Couple of brief Patriot notes from the news of the week:

*Michael Bennett.  I guess we all should have seen this one coming.  Playing in garbage time.  Not playing much overall.  When was Mt. Bennett going to erupt?  Despite all the nice things he said about Bill Belichick and the overall program from the second he got here?

I have no idea what specifically happened with the defensive coach.  Furthermore, I have no idea why he isn’t playing much.  But most assuredly that’s what it was all about.

Do the Pats trade him?  Not sure how many suitors he would have or who will take half his salary.  Or what they could even get in return.  But I honestly don’t know if I trade him actually.

It’s a long season and injuries and other things happen (see:  wide receivers).  What’s the harm in giving him a little more time and seeing if he can get back on board.  And maybe by the playoffs he is making a huge contribution?

Would not rule that out.

Unless he becomes a complete locker room cancer.  That’s a different story.

But with the leaders in that locker room, I am not sure it will blow up to any more than this.

*N’Keal Harry.  Good to see Harry practicing (and Phillip Dorsett returning).  Now all we have to do once Harry actually gets into games is to convince Tom Brady to throw to him.

I do not think the wide receiver or overall “weapon” problem is as big of a problem as people are making it out to be.  I know, Brady does.  And he is the one who needs the weapons.  I will allow for that.

But think about it.  Harry and Dorsett come back.  Josh Gordon and Rex Burkhead eventually do too.  Ben Watson is now here.  Watson is no Gronk but is certainly capable of doing more than Matt LaCosse or Ryan Izzo…maybe combined.  Brady is now throwing to Sony Michel out of the backfield.  Jakobi Meyers should have earned some trust last week.  And of course Jules and James White.

That’s not all that bad, right?

*Demaryius Thomas.  Thomas thinks his time in New England was a waste of time.  According to comments he made to a New York newspaper this week.  Perhaps that is true.

But welcome to the world of not being a star buddy.  Demaryius isn’t used to being on the back end of the roster.  Yeah, I guess he is starting (or at least getting good playing time) for the Jets.  But…the Jets.  On the Houston Texans last year and the Patriots this year (without the injuries), he wasn’t the All-Pro receiver he has pretty much always been.

Not to mention he is just getting up to speed from a serious injury.

This roster juggling is what the end of the roster guys go through ALL.  OF.  THE.  TIME.

Just think about it from that angle Demaryius.

*Trade deadline.  The Pats will make moves.  Still have some time.  But bank on it.

Probably not left tackle Trent Williams from Washington though.  Williams has been holding out all year because he is upset with the teams’ medical staff.  Not about money?  Yeah, that has to be part of it too of course.

But the ‘Skins are inexplicably not taking offers for him.  Plus the haul and the salary will likely make it prohibitive for the Pats to pursue.

So stop dreaming about that, but be cognizant that help will be on the way.  And not just in the form of Isaiah Wynn.  That’s if Wynn can even be counted on.  Big “if”.

Now on to the game:

Kansas City (-3.5) at Denver

Thursday Night divisional games often go the opposite of how they really should.  Actually, a lot of the Thursday games are crapshoots.  This one should be no different.  The Chiefs and quarterback Patrick Mahomes do not look right.  KC has lost two in a row at home, no less.  Their defense is putrid.  The Broncos are “hot” as they have won their last two…albeit against the underachieving Chargers and Titans (or do they just stink?).  The Bronco D appears to be still serviceable.  So things seem to be trending in the Bronco direction here and they are at home.  And I’ll be picking them, right?  Wrong.  If KC loses three in a row I’d be shocked.  And ultimately Denver isn’t any good.  People across the country are starting to question the Chiefs.  Big mistake.

Kansas City 31, Denver 17.

Week (against the spread):  6-8

Week (straight up):  8-6

Lock Of The Week (season, ATS):  3-3

Season (against the spread):  46-46

Season (straight up):  59-33


…in the AFC.  Normally, this space is where the Blowhard would comment on the most recent New England Patriots game.  However, despite the 43-40 win against the previously undefeated Kansas City Chiefs and all the good (and bad) that came from it, we have not actually seen the game.


Yup, but we had a good reason…attending Game Two of the Boston Red Sox game against the Houston Astros at Fenway Park that very same night.  Aaaaaand…haven’t had the chance to watch the replay or highlights or anything else.

I know…pathetic.  But…

So we can really only give some very generic thoughts here.  And of course, we will do that!!

Here’s the summary:

The Patriots defense stinks.


Other than that…one thing to note about the KC/NE game is that it just tightened up the race for the top.  If the Chiefs won that game, they would be 6-0 and two games up on everyone else in the conference.  The Pats would be 3-3 and in the middle of a slew of other teams in the AFC.

Now?  Nope.  Not only are the Chiefs 5-1 and the Pats right behind them at 4-2 (with of course the tiebreaker).  But the Los Angeles Chargers, Miami Dolphins, Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens are also 4-2.  The Steelers have rebounded to 3-2-1.  And the Jets (?!), Titans, Texans (?!) and the Jaguars are still in the mix at 3-3.

Yes, it appears that teams like the Jets, Texans and Dolphins are fraud teams.  Probably the Titans too.  But…this is the NFL.  So I guess you never know.

The Ravens appear to be the only team in the NFL to have some semblance of a defense.  But they haven’t exactly played the iron of the league as of yet.  No one else seems to be able to stop anyone.  Guess that makes sense.  Why?  No one can touch the quarterback anymore.  Nor the receivers.  Now we have this ridiculous roughing the passer rules.  “Can’t put your whole body weight on the QB…”  What the F does that mean?  And what the hell happened to the Jaguars.  THEY were supposed to have an elite defense.  Guess not.

I don’t even know where I am going with this.  Just needed to write something I guess.

Let’s just say this:  The Patriots may well still be the cream of the crop in the AFC, despite the fact that their defense is atrocious.  That’s what it kind of all comes down to.

As for the start of Week Seven:

Denver (-2.5) at Arizona

One may have thought that the continuously putrid Thursday Night Football games over the years may have finally turned a corner with the exciting Week 4 matchup between the Vikings and Rams.  Maybe even the Week 3 tilt between the Browns and Jets, where Baker Mayfield introduced himself to the world.  Nope.  Pats/Indy in Week 5 and Eagles/Giants in Week 6 followed.  Now we have this mess.  I bet the Broncos are glad they gave all that money to Case Keenum now.  Plus the coaching hire of Vance Joseph seems to be working out great.  That all being said…

Denver 27, Arizona 16.

Week (against the spread):  9-6

Week (straight up):  11-4

Season (against the spread):  46-47

Season (straight up):  56-37

Thursday Night Classic…

…at least that’s what the schedule makers must have thought when they put this Denver/Indianapolis tilt on the late season Prime Time slate.  I suppose I can see the thinking on the Broncos.  But Indy?  At the very least they must have thought Andrew Luck would be back by now.  I bet the Indy fans did too.  But of course we now know the Colts ownership lied to their fans.  Looks like they tried to further the notion Luck would be back by keeping him on the roster at the start of the season, instead of putting him on one of the reserve lists.  Helped the team sell more tickets I would imagine, in anticipation that the fans may see him at some point.  Luck then never suited up, allegedly suffered a setback, then was shelved for the year in the middle of the season.  I don’t know…and I’m not sure why I really care actually.  The team overall isn’t that good with or without him.  Was Luck going to make this team a contender?  I think not.  But maybe Indy fans did?

And no, I am not rehashing the Patriots’ brutal Monday Night Football loss to the Dolphins here.  Ugliest game I have (WE have) seen from them in quite some time.  Were they looking ahead to the Steelers?  Perhaps.  Wouldn’t put it past them.  Bill was disgusted when a reporter asked him that after the game…but he shouldn’t have been.  The coaches may have been looking ahead too.  That game plan was stupid all around.  But it’s done.  We are on to Pittsburgh…

Denver (-2.5) at Indianapolis

4-9 Broncos against the 3-10 Colts.  The Broncos really should be better than their record and the possibility does exist that the Colts should be even worse than their record.  At least Indy won’t have to play in the snow at the dome this week.  The Broncos lost 8 in a row, many of them blowouts, before blanking the Jets last week.  Jacoby Brissett seems to have done an admirable job filling in for Luck, but is taking a beating doing it.  Frank Gore is 126 years old, but lit it up in the snow last week.  The Chuck Pagano love affair had to have ended a couple of years ago, no?  But then again, Vance Joseph is in over his head, wouldn’t you say?  Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler, Paxton Lynch…round and round we go.

None of the gibberish above really means anything.  Just a bunch of facts there and me rambling on and on…basically trying to decide who to pick here on the fly.  I still don’t know, but I have to write something.

Oh, one thing from the snow game did bother me a little.  Adam Vinatieri was lining up for the tying extra point from 43 yards away and the commentator, Steve Tasker, said something like “Adam has never had to kick in these conditions, with the stakes being what they are…”  Yes, Tasker, a former player, actually said that.  About a Bills/Colts game having high stakes with each team likely going nowhere.  More importantly, Tasker must have forgotten who made those kicks in the “Tuck Rule” playoff game in the snow.  Whatever…

Denver 17, Indianapolis 14.

Week (against the spread):  10-6

Week (straight up):  8-8

Season (against the spread):  112-96

Season (straight up):  136-72

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