Despite believing referees with four years of Division III experience (like the one side judge had who called the touchdown on Monday night) could do the job, the NFL finally succumbed to the pressure and got a deal done. The real shame, as with all these labor strikes in sports, is that it took this long to get a deal done.
Now the question is whether or not the Packers can recover from the heartbreak. They should feel positive that the regular refs are back, but that won't help them add the win to their record which was stolen from them in the first place. The NFL picture is quite an interesting one after three weeks with teams like the Packers, Saints, and Patriots carrying losing records. Luckily for the Packers, they've proved two years ago that they don't need home-field advantage to win a Super Bowl.
Survivor Pick of the Week:
BALTIMORE over Cleveland
Most survivor pools are in shambles at this point. I'm in one with 131 people that's now down to eight remaining after the New England and New Orleans upsets in the last two weeks. Since people have been clamoring for new survivor pools starting in Week 4, I'll continue to deliver opinions in this space (hopefully with better results). This week's choices are a little slimmer than you'd want this early in the season. Baltimore seems like the play to me since they're facing a rookie quarterback in a terrible offense and he's only got three days to prepare for the game.
If you haven't used Houston already, they're also a pretty good choice because they’re firing on all cylinders on both sides of the ball and they face a struggling Tennessee squad. I'd avoid Atlanta (they might be due for a bad game and Carolina has the offense to scare them) and Arizona (you really want to put your faith in them this early in the season?).
Teams used: Houston, New England, New Orleans
Thursday Night Pick:
BALTIMORE -13.5 over Cleveland
These Thursday night games are a positive for us football junkies to get a midweek fix, but they're also a pain to deal with for fantasy and gambling purposes. The teams are also struggling to handle the short week. The games haven't been pretty so far. We’ve seen two lopsided affairs, and fantasy owners have had to deal with their star players (Greg Jennings, Hakeem Nicks, and Ahmad Bradshaw) not being able to recover from injuries without the full rest between games.
Short weeks, as mentioned should also be a hard thing for a rookie quarterback to overcome when facing a talented and complicated defense. The Ravens no-huddle offense should at least allow them to adjust better to the short week since they adjust on the fly during games. Cleveland's still missing lock-down cornerback Joe Haden, which should allow Torrey Smith to dominate the remaining Browns' defensive backs. This game probably will fall in line with the two previous ugly-looking Thursday night games, but the Ravens should make things easy.
Last Week: 8-8