It’s never fun to talk officiating so we’ll be brief, but too much money is unfairly changing hands due to the incompetence of NFL refs to not at least mention it.
Avoid Lions’ money line bettors this week if you don’t believe a single call can change the outcome of a game. That’s simply not the case. One play decides most wagers in football, college or pro. A key fourth-down conversion early in a meaningless late drive is always the reason a backdoor cover comes into the world.
Now that officials in New York can review pass interference calls, the NFL has another way with which to turn off its fan base.
Monday night’s Packers’ victory over Detroit provided the latest example of how easily the outcome of a game can be decided by the officiating. A pair of key Green Bay drives were extended by phantom hands-to-the-face penalties that replay clearly showed didn’t occur. Aaron Rodgers took advantage of the extra opportunities and produced a victory that kept the Lions from taking over first place in the NFC North.
Consider the amount of revenue that Detroit loses if that one result keeps them from a playoff berth. Now imagine that a blown call lands the wrong team in the Super Bowl.
Oh, right. The NFL is reviewing pass interference call precisely because the Saints were victimized by incompetence in January’s NFC Championship, allowing the Rams to unjustly advance. Now it appears that league officials are discouraging challenges of pass interference calls that aren’t clear to the naked eye by ignoring violations like early contact or obvious jersey pulling and letting the call on the field stand if not too egregious.
This dance has likely both benefited and infuriated you at times this season, but it’s instances like Monday that reminds us why we’re inevitably headed to every whistle being up for review.
It will probably start with just the fourth quarter in the same way the NBA is dipping its toes into the coaching challenge game by allowing one in a trial run this season. Basketball doesn’t want its flow interrupted either, but single plays decide outcomes there too.
In a world where a lot more than a fan base’s mood is riding on the outcome of these games, it’s most important to get things right. Nothing can be done for the Lions after this latest highly visible black eye, but it adds to the stockpile of results that will inevitably twist the arms of those resisting the replay reform necessary to make sure teams that play well enough aren’t consistently punished by human error.
Chiefs -3 at Broncos: Had Patrick Mahomes not rallied Kansas City past Detroit to close out a perfect September, we’d be wondering whether the Chiefs are in crisis. While Kansas City will have to deal with a talented defensive mind in Vic Fangio, the personnel doesn’t match with Bradley Chubb out for the season and the secondary looking vulnerable.
There’s concern here over Mahomes’ ankle and Tyreek Hill bouncing back on a short week after returning, but Joe Flacco and the Broncos offense have done nothing to prove they’ll be able to keep up with Kansas City. CHIEFS
Vikings -1 at Lions: Detroit will now inevitably go into a tailspin since it has really struggled against the Vikings of late, scoring just nine points in consecutive games and dropping three straight in the series.
The Matthew Stafford-led offense has averaged barely over 14 points over the last five matchups with Minnesota, which arrives with its offense in harmony now that receivers Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs have each wet their beaks in consecutive weeks and aren’t publicly ripping QB Kirk Cousins. Look for the Vikes to improve to 5-2. VIKINGS
Jaguars -3.5 at Bengals: Jacksonville QB Gardner Minshew mania got doused with a bucket of cold water with the Saints harassing him into miscues at home in a 13-6 upset. The rookie has now lost consecutive games and will try to rally against Bengals’ team that won’t have a better chance to win a game until the Jets come through on Dec. 1.
Andy Dalton won’t have A.J. Green back but has enough weapons to solve a secondary that may still be missing top corner Jalen Ramsey. BENGALS
Rams -3 at Falcons: Atlanta has lost consecutive games in which it has scored over 30 points and is badly in need of a win after slipping to 0-4 on the road by losing to a Cardinals’ team in stage one of a rebuild.
That’s not a good look for head coach Dan Quinn, who I don’t believe survives to coach another game if his Falcons fall here. Jared Goff has been inconsistent but can pick apart Atlanta’s depleted secondary and may get RB Todd Gurley back to help aid the cause, so expect L.A. to avoid slipping under .500. RAMS
Ravens at Seahawks -3.5: This is a difficult road trip for Baltimore, whose four wins this season have come against teams that enter the week with a combined record of 4-18-1.
Young QB Lamar Jackson has held up well in opposing stadiums but has to deal with the 12th Man and a talented defense while trying to match the production of Russell Wilson, who is playing out of his mind. Lay the points. SEAHAWKS
Eagles at Cowboys -3: Dallas is hoping to rebound from its embarrassing loss to the Jets by claiming this early NFC East summit meeting but have serious concerns about the availability of tackles Tyron Smith and La’el Collins, whose absences led to Sunday’s demise.
The Eagles have major issues to overcome in their defensive backfield but appear to be catching the Cowboys at the right time since receivers Amari Cooper and Randall Cobb are also question marks. EAGLES
Last week: 3-3