The NFL continues to have to deal with armchair lawyering as it plods toward Week 3, between continued media scrutiny of Adrian Peterson, the appeal by Ray Rice of his suspension, and the league's appointment of three experts in domestic violence to the league office to handle these issues for players. The cluster-blank that has been the issue showcases the first blunder of Roger Goodell, for when he became commissioner he vowed to crack down on players' off-field misconduct - and he has nothing to show for it.
Basically seemingly the only one who did anything right here is Ray Rice; no one else - the league, media, etc. - has shown much rationality. It might have been a case where the best reaction was to leave it alone.
Peterson was briefly reinstated by the Vikings but after the expected fury of grandstanding (lowlighted by Budweiser's phony press release on the issue) he was in effect suspended with pay until his issue is resolved, and so was Greg Hardy of the Panthers.
There nonetheless remain games to be played -
Falcons over Buccaneers - The Falcons right now are fighting for second in the NFC South and the Bucs come to the Georgia Dome off a bitter loss to the Rams. The Falcons crashed back to earth in Cincinnati but are still better right now than the Bucs, and should get to 2-1.
Chargers over Bills
- E.J. Manuel has surprised some people right now, but in the Chargers the Bills get an opponent that got back on track with a strong win over the Seahawks.
Browns over Ravens - These are not the same old Browns, and their win over the Saints combined with erasing a 24-point gap to the hated Steelers shows it. The Ravens are better than they were last year, but the Browns have momentum.
Titans over Bengals - I'm going a bit on a limb here after Cincy went 2-0 and the Titans fell to earth against a mediocre Dallas squad. The Bengals are currently first in scoring and third in fewest points allowed, but the Titans are a better team than that Dallas loss would indicate. We can expect some serious scoring here.
Cowboys over Rams - The Cowboys got a surprising and stout win last week, and their run game led the way. The Rams haven't been stellar in run defense so far and still lack a quarterback one can feel confident in.
Lions over Packers - Both teams are 1-1 - but then the whole damned division is 1-1. Detroit got stomped by a very good Panthers squad - and Green Bay is not Carolina. Expect a Lions rebound here.
Texans over NY Giants - The Texans are clawing back under Bill O'Brien, the NY Giants are collapsing again under Tom Coughlin.
Colts over Jaguars - The Jags ran into the ultimate shocker of a buzzsaw at Washington and this game should be a lot closer. The Colts overall still have too much and should win a 38-35-type game.
Saints over Vikings - The Vikings face a Saints team in need of that first win to get back on track; I'm not sure Adrian Peterson would have helped them. The way Matt Cassel got abused by the Patriots, I'm not sure how well he'll rebound against a Saints team with some desperation on its side.
Patriots over Raiders - New England's periodic Darryl Stingley Memorial game against the Raiders will be an easy win over a demoralized Oakland squad that saw Charles Woodson in effect call out the team for being abysmal following the loss to the Texans. The issue still surrounding the Patriots remains the crispness of the offense, as it struggled to score against the Vikings and receivers Danny Amendola and Brandon Lafell have been absent from production. Brady's targets need to spread more.
Eagles over Redskins - Hold the phone - the Redskins now have Kirk Cousins as quarterback and he is what they need, especially in a Jay Gruden offense with which Robert Griffin III has not been effective. The Eagles are still the favorites in the NFC East but the Redskins suddenly have something to say about that.
Cardinals over 49ers - Now we have to start questioning if the Niners really are starting to falter after blowing it against the Bears while the Cardinals started their backup against the Giants and still won by two scores.
Seahawks over Broncos - The Seahawks got punched in the mouth and Richard Sherman got beaten repeatedly by the Chargers, to where he skipped postgame pressers out of embarrassment. The Broncos, though, have struggled to close out games and Peyton Manning is not as sharp as before right now, while Russell Wilson remains the better quarterback.
Dolphins over Chiefs - Failing at the doorstep of forcing overtime in Denver looks like the kind of loss that sends a team into year-long decline. The Dolphins meanwhile get the Chiefs at what looks like the right juncture to rebound from another bad loss at Buffalo.
Panthers over Steelers - Face the blunt truth, Steelers fans - your team is fundamentally flawed and getting worse instead of better, while the Panthers are not letting a new receiving corps slow them down.
Bears over NY Jets - Calling a timeout before what was the tying touchdown is so New York Jets of them, and one has to ask how with all the things leading up to this the Jets cannot fire Rex Ryan and his staff. Not that I trust Jay Cutler - he's a puss with volume stats - but the Bears did something good last week and that carries momentum against a team that has never been about substance or discipline but about flash, stars, and freelancing - and is thus as bad as advertised.
We certainly hope cooler heads - and smarter approaches to these problems - prevail in the NFL here.