The NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell are trying to make professional football as safe as possible, especially with all the lawsuits from former players and all the recent research on head injuries and concussions.
They should be applauded for trying to make the sport safer with the implementation of these new rules over the past couple of seasons. Those new rules focus on any contact with the head – be it a helmet-to-helmet hit, shoulder-to-helmet or a hand-to-helmet.
However, we have seen the effect of these “protect the head” rules as now defensive players are going low to make the hit and tackle as they are afraid to draw a 15-yard penalty, or even worse a big fine.
As a result of these low tackles, you are seeing players suffer severe leg and knee injuries every week. Case in point was last Sunday’s game between the Ravens and Packers: wide receiver Randall Cobb was hit low below the knees, ends up fracturing his leg and will be out six to eight weeks.
Defensive players are now terrified to hit high and game officials are calling everything, which is all about player safety. The Freak watched a game on Sunday, and the officials threw a flag when a defensive player touched the quarterback’s helmet by mistake with his hand that had the force of a feather. Come on, this isn’t football!
There has to be a good, safe middle ground for players, officials and the league. What that looks like changes from week to week.
Soon players won’t even want to tackle as the hit zone is becoming smaller and smaller while players are getting bigger and faster. So, how will defences stop these offences if they aren’t allowed to tackle anymore?
If you know the answer to this one, there is a job waiting for you in the NFL.
The sure thing
New England beat the undefeated Saints and Drew Brees, and now face rookie quarterback Geno Smith and the Jets on the road. The Pats have lost two big components on their defence, Jerod Mayo and Vince Wilfolk. But, on this day, it will be about who makes more plays under centre, Brady or Smith? Don’t need to be a football genius to take Brady and the Pats in this one.
The boys from Summerside were part of the world record for crowd noise set at Arrowhead Stadium last Sunday. There were a few big mouths on that trip, so that was probably the difference in breaking the record. Well done boys! KC will be rocking again as the Chiefs host Houston, which looks like a lost team right now. They are getting poor quarterback play from Matt Schaub, can’t run the ball and JJ Watt has become the invisible man just in time for Halloween. Chiefs never win pretty, but ugly wins add up at the end of the season. KC stays undefeated.
Don’t like taking a West Coast team playing on the East Coast at any time, but the East Coast team is the Jacksonville Jaguars. With a few breaks here and there, San Diego could easily be 5-1. The Bolts just beat a Super Bowl contender, Colts, and will continue that momentum with a win over Jacksonville.
Green Bay has been struggling offensively this season, and is going more to a running game with rookie Eddie Lacy. Given the recent injuries to wide receivers James Jones and Randall Cobb, look for a full dose of Lacy against the Browns. Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden has his moments, and you know he will make a bonehead play at some point that will have the Cleveland coaching staff shaking their heads and Lambeau fans going crazy. Pack wins.
Don’t mortgage the house picks
In one of the most intense rivalries in the NFL, the Ravens visit the Steelers. Baltimore’s defence is still playing well while the Steelers’ offence is still struggling. The same could be said of the Steelers’ defence and the Ravens’ offence. Usually the difference in a game of this magnitude will be a special teams. Take Pittsburgh.
Really don’t like the Redskins’ defence, and don’t like how RGIII is playing. The Bears have an opportunistic defence, and Jay Cutler is doing a solid job managing the game this season. Bears aren’t in the hibernation mode yet, take Chicago on the road.
It’s a huge game on Sunday night between the horse stables of the NFL – Broncos and the Colts.
It’s a big game for a couple of reasons. It will be Peyton Manning’s first game back in Indianapolis since he left two years ago, and this is a game arguably between the top two teams in the AFC.
The ramifications of this game could be home-field advantage down the road in the playoffs, which is always very important.
Andrew Luck will want to prove that Indy made the right decision to draft him, and it appears they really did. Peyton wants to show he is still one of the best in front of his old fans.
Hard to believe the Colts are a seven-point underdog in this game at home as they will pull the upset with Luck shredding the Denver D in an exciting, high-scoring game.
Last week: 7-for-7.
John Turner is a Summerside schoolteacher. His column appears every Saturday during the NFL season. Feel free to e-mail questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.