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Week four is gone and so are the replacement officials. With the regular officials back, we can now get back to worrying about football without any controversial calls, right? Well, not exactly. There was the Saints player with an obvious shove on the Packers corner back that allowed New Orleans to score a touchdown. Green Bay fans must think the officials have a pact against them this season. Luckily this call didn’t cost Green Bay the game. Without replacement officials to gripe about, what can I find to gripe about this week?
Knee-jerk reaction # 1: Do we really need to start giving teams off after week 3? I understand the purpose of the bye week and I like the concept; give a team off in the middle of the season so that they can rest and heal players. However, why does this start so soon? The Steelers and Colts both had off this past weekend. Why does this start so soon? There are 32 teams in the NFL. Isn’t it possible to take the middle weeks and let people off during those weeks? Eight teams could be off four straight weeks. This would serve better at giving teams off during the middle of the year and allowing them to rest players when they really need it. I’m pretty sure the Colts and Steelers didn’t need to rest after only three games played. Now they have 13 games they have to play without a week off. Seems unfair to this fan.
Knee-jerk reaction # 2: How good are the Houston Texans this year? They might be the most well rounded team in all of football. Matt Schaub is proving to be an elite quarterback. Take into consideration the fact they also have an elite receiver in Andre Johnson, and an elite running back in Arian Foster and you have an offense poised to put up huge numbers. According to ESPN, in the past eight games that Schaub has been at quarterback for Houston, they have won by an average of 20 points in those games. They are not just winning, but they are dominating the competition. If they can stay healthy this year, watch out for the Texans come January.
Knee-jerk reaction # 3: As a friend of mine told me the other day, “The Mayans might be right about the world ending in December. Just look at all the weird stuff happening in the NFL right now.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. The Vikings shocking the 49ers. The Seahawks dominating the Cowboys and Packers, only to lose to St. Louis. The Bills expensive defense giving up 52 points to Tom Brady and the Patriots. There are some crazy happenings in football that can’t be explained. The term thrown around a lot in football is “parity” and rightfully so. Statistics have proven that half of the teams that made the playoffs last year will not make the playoffs this year. Also, at least one team that lost 10 or more games last year will make the playoffs this year. No other sport has this much change from year to year. Perhaps that is why football is so popular among fans. Every year fans can hope that their team will be the one that has a dramatic turnaround from the previous year. Some people don’t like parity while others embrace it. The old saying “Any given Sunday any team can beat another team” is so true. Who would have thought the Cardinals would be sitting at 4-0 going into Thursday night’s game and the Saints would be 0-4?
Knee-jerk reaction # 4: Until the Cowboys get rid of Dez Bryant, they are going to continue to have problems. That sounds harsh considering Tony Romo threw five interceptions Monday night. The offense hasn’t clicked since week one against the Giants. Monday night, though, one of Romo’s interceptions was Dez’s fault when he ran the wrong route. Romo threw it where Dez should have been and it was returned by the Bears for a touchdown. Later in the game, Dez had beat the defense and was racing up the sideline. Romo threw the ball perfectly and if Dez had caught it, he would have probably scored a touchdown on the play. Instead, the ball went right through his hands and fell incomplete. What was bothersome about the play, though, is that as he ran back to the huddle he was smiling and laughing all the way. His team is losing and having a hard time scoring, and instead of being upset about missing the play he looked as if it was a joke to him. Coming out of college, most people warned everyone that he had issues mentally and should be drafted with extreme caution. The Cowboys, in normal Jerry Jones fashion, threw caution to the wind and drafted him anyways. I wonder if they would like a do-over on that decision.
Knee-jerk reaction # 5: My Super Bowl winner this week is still the 49ers. I thought about switching it to Houston but it’s hard to jump ship when the 49ers completely destroyed the Jets this past week. However, if Houston keeps dismantling people like they are I will be switching soon. It’s hard to pick against the 49ers defense right now as they are playing amazingly.
Rambling Knee-jerk reaction # 6: The Texas Rangers are this year’s Dallas Mavericks. I know what you’re thinking, “This is about football so why am I bringing up baseball and basketball?” First of all, I’m bringing it up because it’s relevant and second of all because I want to. Now back to my original statement. I’d like to draw some parallels to the Mavericks and the Rangers. In 2006 the Mavericks went to the NBA Finals and had a two game to none lead over the Miami Heat only to see the Heat come back and win the series and the Championship. The next season, the Mavericks won 67 games during the regular season and were considered the favorites to represent the Western Conference in the Finals again that year. However, they got beat in the first round of the playoffs against the Golden State Warriors that year. Last year the Rangers were up in game six of the World Series twice and only needed one more strike to secure the victory. Both times, the Cardinals were able to take the next pitch and drive it to the outfield, allowing the game to be tied up and eventually they would win the game and the Series. This year, the Rangers have had the best record pretty much the entire season. As a matter of fact they have been considered the favorite to make it back to the World Series and represent the American League for most of the year. With six games to play, the Rangers had a four game lead on the Oakland Athletics. Perhaps the more important story is that the A’s had a .500 record at the all-star break. After the all-star break, though, the A’s went 26 games over .500. They were able to make up the four games in the final six and win the American League West, leaving the Rangers to settle for a Wild Card spot. The Rangers now have to play the Baltimore Orioles in a one game play-in on Friday evening in Arlington. The winner of that game will play the Yankees in the Division Series of the playoffs. What’s so maddening about this is that the Rangers have looked so passive for the most part. It’s almost as if they feel like they can flip a switch whenever it is needed and start playing better. The only problem with that philosophy is that they never were able to turn it on when they thought they could. I have a feeling they will probably beat Baltimore since it’s in Texas and Yu Darvish is pitching for them. However I have a feeling they will not get past the Yankees this year.