Not to brag or anything, but I did pretty darn well with my picks last weekend. Technically, I was only 2-2. But, I was right about the Seahawks staying in the game (I just didn’t have enough guts to actually pick them to win) and I was right that the Jets and Colts would be close (unfortunately, I turned my crystal ball off after the Colts eeked out the late lead and missed the last minute or so).
Since I didn’t fall flat on my face, I am subjecting you to more picks! Not only that, but I am also going to give you some other NFL related thoughts. (No need to thank me, your loyal readership is thanks enough! However, if you make money with this advice, I expect a little somethin’ in small, unmarked bills left behind the White Castle on 16th Street).
Baltimore at Pittsburgh – Let me be the 17,286th person to wax poetically about how this is going an old-school, knock-down, drag out football game….okay, that’s enough. This game comes down to who can hide their weaknesses best. Baltimore’s offense is not as good as it should be and Joe Flacco seems to make inexplicable turnovers at very inopportune times. However, the Steelers’ lines have injuries that have been holding them back and I think they will be exploited. Ravens 20 – Steelers 14
Green Bay at Atlanta – By virtue of beating everyone’s NFC darlings last week, the Packers have been annointed as the next big thing. Just give them the George Halas trophy (What, you don’t have the name of the trophy for winning the NFC memorized? Oh yeah, I just dropped some knowledge on you!) and tickets to Arlington. The Falcons are better than people realize and have been consistently the best team in the NFC, with a great running game and a rising QB with multiple targets. And, by the way, the defense gets after people. Green Bay’s injuries finally catch-up with them in the Georgia Dome. Falcons 24 – Packers 20
At the halfway point of the picks, I’d like to digress for a moment.
I was watching a Sunday night game a few weeks ago when Bob Costas asked the commissioner an excellent question that boiled to “What would you say to a family who said they didn’t want their son to play football because they were worried about head trauma?” For better or worse, the commissioner gave the only answer he could, which was a bland non-answer about how waking up and getting out of bed every day is a risk. I would love to hear an honest answer to that from him.
It is something that I think about sometimes. I have 2 girls, so this probably is not a question I will have to answer. (However, I have seen Hannah bloody our neighbor with a sweet form tackle onto the sidewalk, as well as running right through a kid at the park. Future middle linebacker for the Zionsville Eagles?) I am not sure I would let one of my children play football. As someone who, at one point in his life, was on the other side of this decision (my parents did not let me play football initially when I was in grade school), I can easily see the irony and the hypocrisy. I really liked playing football and many days wish I could have continued on playing in college. But I have seen my share of gruesome injuries, including a teammate who was concussed so bad he kept repeating the same sentence over and over. (One of the eeriest things I have ever seen. It took him 3+ days to “snap out of it”.) I watch games week after week and multiple times a game (especially this season) I audibly gasp at a violent collision and fully expect one or more player to not get up. Invariably they do, but at what cost? How could I let a child of mine be subjected to that? Sometimes, I wonder as pediatrician how I can let other people’s children be subjected to it. On the plus side, grade school and high school football is not as fast and the players not as strong, so the collisions are not as violent. Or so I thought. But then there was a study of football players at Lafayette Jeff High School that showed that even kids who did not get diagnosed with a concussion or have concussion-like symptoms, had evidence of neuro-cognitive dysfunction. And these are kids who are also trying to acquire knowledge and life skills for future careers (99% of whom will not be playing in the NFL.) It makes me wonder whether it is all worth it. It wouldn’t be popular to ban football or have the AAP come out against, but the thought does run through your mind.
On the other hand, the commissioner is right. Life IS inherently risky and bad things can happen to you at any moment. Plus, other sports and activities are just as bad, or worse (think soccer player hitting the ball with his or her head, repeatedly, or gymnasts destroying their feet, back and other joints. Heck, for a horrible 5 seconds I thought I had killed a fellow 11 year old via commotio cordis (although I didn’t know that’s what it was called at the time) when a ball I threw sickeningly connected with his chest with the worst “thud!” I have ever heard.) And why single out this risk and not others? Next thing you know, we are going to be waddling around in insulated bubbles, not allowed to do anything. And that isn’t good either. Just to be safe, tomorrow I am going to make sure to teach Hannah not to lead with her head when she tackles.
Seattle at Chicago – For the first time, I have to deal with the hometown team. Once again this seems to be a mismatch, with the Bears easily coming out on top. I am still not sure how the Bears lost to this team earlier in the season, which is precisely why no one (outside of the land of the “wild onion”) believes this team is going to do anything in the playoffs. Despite this being Cutler’s first ever playoff game and penchant for playing poorly at exactly the wrong time, Seattle is atrocious on the road this year. The Bears are a different team than earlier in the season and I think they are going to be too much for the Seahawks. It won’t be pretty and but it will be a win. Bears 34 – Seahawks 27
New York Jets at New England – I didn’t mind last week when Rex Ryan pulled out the “It’s personal” argument when discussing Peyton Manning. But to pull that out two weeks in a row (No, seriously, it’s REALLY personal this time!) seems a bit contrived. The Patriots have been peaking at the right time and the Jets were not that far away from having that Colts game go the other way. Sanchez did not impress me at all last week, the Patriot offense is firing on all cylinders and their defense is good enough to handle the limited Jets. It won’t be as bad as the Monday night game these two played a few weeks ago, but it sure isn’t going to be close either. Patriots 38-Jets 17