As if having to air a game on September 11 wasn't bad enough, amid the controversy surrounding the Ray Rice domestic violence incident, the NFL has the misfortune of having Rice's Baltimore Ravens featured on the first Thursday night broadcast on CBS. Criticism is being hurled at everyone from Rice himself to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome and even at the victim.
This story is getting more airtime than anything happening in Washington, which is ludicrous considering it's one jerk beating on his then girlfriend, now wife, and ultimately getting what he deserves. In contrast, the jerks in Washington are beating on the American people and totally getting away with it. So from a big picture standpoint, a stupid punk like Ray Rice doesn't really rate much more than a not very fond farewell.
But since it's a story, I'll devote a few more lines to it. Roger Goodell works for the NFL team owners: no one else. He doesn't work for the players, he doesn't work for the fans, he doesn't work for the media. His job is to protect their investments, which are sizable. He hasn't broken any laws and at last glance, the value of NFL teams are rising faster than any other investments these ultra rich owners could make. So the media, fans and players can complain and call for his head all they want. But at the end of the day there are only 32 votes that count, and unless you can come up with the cash to buy a team, you'll never get one of those.
Did Goodell sit on evidence that he should have acted on a several months ago? Perhaps. Has Ray Rice played in a meaningful game or cashed a paycheck since the scandal broke in April? No. Did the league drag its feet in meting out the proper punishment. Probably. But at the end of the day, they got it right. There is no place in sports or society for men beating up on women just because they can. There are 30 guys waiting to take Rice's place in the league. He blew it, plain and simple. Goodell acted properly, but a little late. Let's all move on, because there will inevitably be more idiots like Ray Rice for Roger Goodell to deal with.
Last week: 12 - 4
Overall: 12 - 4
Pittsburgh (1 - 0) 27 @ Baltimore (0 - 1) 21: Back to back divisional games to open the season for both teams. The Ravens fell to the Bengals in week one, while the Steelers overcame a comeback from the Browns. A Ravens loss would give them a big hill to climb in the division. The Steelers can taste an early season advantage amid the controversy in Baltimore.
Miami (1 - 0) 27 @ Buffalo (1 - 0) 21: Both teams pulled surprises last week. An argument could be made that the Bills was a bit more stunning since it came on the road. I still like Miami.
Atlanta (1 - 0) 20 @ Cincinnati (1 - 0) 24: Once again, two winners from last week. The Bengals have been making steady progress the last few seasons, while the Falcons are trying to continue improving on last year's debacle. I'll take the home team.
New Orleans (0 - 1) 27 @ Cleveland (0 - 1) 20: Brian Hoyer brought the Browns back last week against the Steelers, just about the time most fans were calling for Johnny Manziel. The Saints won't be happy about the prospect of going 0 - 2, so I look for defensive coordinator Rob Ryan to make it difficult for Cleaveland.
Dallas (0 - 1) 20 @ Tennessee (1 - 0) 30: Maybe Dallas isn't as bad as they looked and maybe the Titans aren't as good as they looked, but I still think Tennessee is improved and the Cowboys are, well... still the Cowboys.
New England (0 - 1) 24 @ Minnesota (1 - 0) 30: It might not be time to sound the panic bell yet for the Patriots, but they might want to send someone to find it. Could New England go 0 - 2 for the first time since 2001? It's possible.
Arizona (1 - 0) 27 @ New York Giants (0 -1) 19: Who is that guy playing QB for the Giants and what have they done with Eli Manning? Whatever it is they've done, it's not working.
Jacksonville (0 - 1) 17 @ Washington (1 - 0) 27: RGIII looked like anything but the sensation who electrified the league two years ago. Maybe it will take some time for he and Jay Gruden to mesh. As a Washington fan, I hope that time is Sunday.
Detroit (1 - 0) 31 @ Carolina (1 - 0) 24: The Panthers got by Tampa Bay last week without Cam Newton. He should be back this week, but the Lions appear to finally be living up to their potential. This is a tough pick, but Detroit has too many weapons, even for Ron Rivera's defense.
Seattle (1 - 0) 23 @ San Diego (0 - 1) 24: The Seahawks looked dominant again last week when they hosted the Packers. Meanwhile, the Chargers lost a tight one to the Cardinals. I'm going against the grain and taking San Diego.
St. Louis (0 - 1) 13 @ Tampa Bay (0 - 1) 24: Someone has to go 1 - 1 after this one. I think it will be the Bucs.
Kansas City (0 - 1) 20 @ Denver (1 - 0) 34: The Chiefs are 2 - 9 going back to last season and they didn't look like a team on Sunday that could go into Denver and derail Peyton Manning. KC coach Andy Reid and his staff have a lot of work to do on both sides of the ball.
New York Jets (1 - 0) 24 @ Green Bay (0 - 1) 27: Aaron Rodgers is likely to test the Jets' defense a lot more than the Raiders did. However, this one might be a good deal closer than most people think.
Houston (1 - 0) 23 @ Oakland (0 - 1) 14: That Texans' defense looks pretty ferocious, even without Jadeveon Clowney. The Raiders just continue to be the Raiders, which means they still aren't very good.
Chicago (0 - 1) 28 @ San Francisco (1 - 0) 24: This game is really a tough one. Neither team performed as expected in week one, especially Chicago. The Niners definitely didn't look as good as the score indicated, thanks to an awful performance by Cowboys' QB Tony Romo. I'll stay with the Bears to outscore a still questionable San Francisco offense in the debut of the Niners' new stadium.
Philadelphia (1 - 0) 30 @ Indianapolis (0 - 1) 31: The Colts' comeback fell short last week against the Broncos while the Eagles started to click on offense in the second half versus the Jags. Another close pick, but I'm going with the home team in a thriller.