Walter - I feel your pain re SD; they have had a huge injury list! I thing I note - doing analysis for AFL Australian football - is that teams with a huge injury list often underperform when they begin to get players back from injury; this is often because the injured players return a week too early and fail to fire (or get re-injured); also the players who have been carrying the extra load for them tend to relax that week; the trend in the AFL is that these teams generally miss the spread (often by a lot) as the year goes on - but they sometimes have 1 (maybe 2) unexpected wins against unwary middle to lower ranked teams. They may fire against JAX this week, but I would like a SD expert to tell us if the recently returned players are likely to improve.
Speaking of injuries - these are good reasons for being confident on TB and DEN this week. Harry Young, Melbourne
The premise: Coming off a Super Bowl victory, the Patriots open the 2013 season with a blowout win. Unfortunately, they get into trouble for Spygate II. As punishment, Roger Goodell orders the Patriots to fire Bill Belichick and replace him with Emmitt Smith. Three years later, the Patriots beat the Bears in the Super Bowl, 2-0. After the game, Emmitt announced his retirement.
This is a weekly feature that will take a newspaper reporter's perspective and follow Emmitt through his post-retirement days.
By Alex Rodriguez, Special to the NFL Bible Network Friday, Nov. 3, 2017
With Emmitt and his crew stranded in Chicago, trying desperately to procure enough money to buy a plane ticket to go to Florida to further investigate Bountygate II, something sinister was bound to happen this weekend in the NFL. Well, we didn't get to the weekend before witnessing the worst violation of Bountygate II.
For those who didn't watch the Thursday night battle between the 49ers and Seahawks, San Francisco scored a touchdown on a long Kendall Hunter run with half a minute remaining to go up 10 points. Head coach Jim Harbaugh, however, told the official that he wanted to decline the touchdown and opt to end the game right on the spot.
There's an old, arcane rule in the NFL, even more obscure than the free kick after a fair catch," Harbaugh revealed during the post-game sideline interview. "It says that if you decline a touchdown with less than half a minute on the clock, you can win the game automatically. We thought it was important to do so because winning by more than eight points would have covered the spread, I mean... what? Who said that? What I meant to say that I wanted to be sure the game was 100-percent over so we couldn't cover, I mean embarrass the other team."
As Harbaugh was finishing up his chat with Alex Flanagan, a fierce gust of wind blew by. Suddenly, former Saints' linebacker Jonathan Vilma was standing there holding a wooden box.
"Uhh... hi, Jonathan," said a suddenly tense Harbaugh, knowing very well that Vilma is one of the ringleaders of Bountygate II. "What brings you here to this game?"
Vilma said nothing initially. He opened the box. Expecting to see the usual hamster, mayonnaise and toast, Harbaugh was taken aback when Vilma revealed a rattlesnake, a bottle of mustard and an Amazon gift card. Harbaugh tried running away, but Vilma grabbed hold of him and tackled him to the ground.
"I bet two units on the 49ers minus-eight because WalterFootball.com told me to, and now because of your dumb antics, I'm two units in the hole!" Vilma shouted. "Now, you're going to be my latest Bountygate II victim so you can feel my suffering!"
Vilma grabbed the items in his box. He covered the hungry rattlesnake with mustard and shoved both into Harbaugh's backside. He then proceeded to insert the Amazon gift card for good measure.
"Oh God, it hurts!" Harbaugh yelped, as Vilma laughed maniacally.
Vilma tried to throw a smoke bomb so he could disappear, but NFL commissioner Roger Goodell restrained him. He put handcuffs on him and walked him to his office, where he told the former linebacker that he would finally be punished for his misdeeds. However, just hours later, Vilma was released.
"I filed an appeal," said a confident Vilma. "The NFL Players' Association agrees with me. Roger Goodell has no proof that I did anything wrong. He says he does, but he won't show it to me, which obviously means that he has nothing and that I'm completely innocent."
We then asked Vilma if he considered our videotape of him shoving a mustard-covered rattlesnake and an Amazon gift card into Harbaugh's backside to be any sort of proof.
"No, not at all, there's no proof," Vilma stated. "The videotapes could have easily been doctored by Commissioner Goodell, just as he plotted against me during the initial Bountygate scandal."
While we once again don't buy Vilma's act, there's no doubt that there will be a long, futile, drawn-out hearing to determine Vilma's guilt or innocence. This is a shame because if he's truly guilty, there will be many other players and coaches who will have rattlesnakes and Amazon gift cards shoved into their rear ends while the NFLPA once again wastes everyone's time.
CAM NEWTON DEMANDS MORE CHANGE
By Alex Rodriguez, Special to the NFL Bible Network Monday, Nov. 6, 2017
This past weekend was a disaster for the NFL. Never in league history have so many mustard-covered rattlesnakes and Amazon gift cards been inserted into players' backsides.
It was an astonishing sight. Jonathan Vilma appeared at the Cowboys-Eagles game and attacked Tony Romo and Dez Bryant. He was also at the Steelers-Bengals matchup and took down both quarterbacks. He did the most damage in the Bills-Jets contest, stuffing 17 mustard-covered rattlesnakes and Amazon gift cards into players' rear ends.
How was Vilma at almost every stadium in the NFL at the exact same time? Some theorized that he accessed a wormhole, but there is actual video evidence that he was in eight stadiums at the exact same time. Indeed - Vilma is an evil warlock who can bend time and space and also make duplicate copies of himself.
Why Vilma is so determined to torture NFL players and coaches, we have no idea, but there are two questions that must be answered: First, who's the real culprit behind this? Vilma is obviously one of the ringleaders, but where is he getting all of these hamsters, rattlesnakes, bottles of mustard and mayonnaise, toast and Amazon gift cards? Who's giving him orders? This is something that Emmitt and his crew must discover upon arriving in Florida.
And second, why was he absent from the Panthers' stadium? Indeed, the battle between Carolina and Tampa Bay was the only one not to feature Vilma. There was drama in that contest, however, as Buccaneers' left tackle Donald Penn karate-chopped Panthers' linebacker Luke Kuechly after a play. Official Ron Winter called a personal-foul penalty on Kuechly, however, because Kuechly "violently grabbed his own helmet in pain" after Penn's martial-arts move.
This inane infraction put the Panthers out of field-goal range. Quarterback Cam Newton had to attempt a poorly thrown pass targeted for receiver Brandon LaFell, but it was intercepted to seal the victory for Tampa Bay.
"I don't know, I just don't know anymore, cutie-pie," a sullen Newton said in the post-game press conference. "There... there definitely has to be some change. More change than last time when I fired the general manager, who had nothing to do with that specific game. I demand more change, honeybuns."
It didn't even take a full 24 hours for Newton to receive the change this time, however. Minutes after his meeting with the media, Panthers' officials gathered Kuechly and LaFell. Gagging and tying them up, the officials brought the two parties allegedly responsible for the defeat into a room that had a pair of guillotines. Newton, apparently the executioner, was standing there, awaiting his doomed teammates.
"I'm sorry guys, but I really need change right now because we're losing and it's not my fault - not even 1-percent my fault," Newton said with a low tone. "Now, it's time for you guys to pay the ultimate price for this loss because I can't possibly take any responsibility for it."
Kuechly and LaFell's heads were placed into each of the lunettes. Not wasting any time, Newton flipped both switches simultaneously and ... nothing happened. There was an apparent malfunction, and the relieved Kuechly and LaFell were free to go. As it turns out, however, Newton simply pressed the wrong button.
"I don't know, I just don't know anymore, boo-boo," Newton said with a tear in his eye. "The guillotines didn't work, and even though I pressed the buttons. It wasn't my fault, so I need change. Something obviously has to change, love muffin."
Perhaps the thing that could change is Newton finally taking responsibility for his shortcomings. But that's too much to ask, right?