Sport

NFL: Weird, wild and emotional

...And thank God the 'real' refs are back

By Tony Scott

Friday, September 28, 2012    

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Weird, wild and emotional. That was Week Three in the NFL.

The good news is that the NFL and the NFL Referees Association have FINALLY resolved their labour dispute, which means that the replacement refs will be parked back on the sidelines and the real referees will be back on the field where they belong.

The bad news is that while the real referees were locked out, NFL fans had to stomach some of the worst officiating imaginable, which culminated in a fiasco of monumental proportions on Monday night.

Now I've seen a lot of strange things in my time following the NFL, but what happened in Week Three was one of the weirdest of all. It was the ending of the Green Bay Packers vs Seattle Seahawks Monday night game, that was decided by one of the truly lousy refereeing decisions in the history of sports. You've probably seen the footage over and over again and asked yourself what were these guys thinking.

Now I've seen a lot of strange things in my time following the NFL, but what happened in Week Three was one of the weirdest of all. It was the ending of the Green Bay Packers vs Seattle Seahawks Monday night game, that was decided by one of the truly lousy refereeing decisions in the history of sports. You've probably seen the footage over and over again and asked yourself what were these guys thinking.

The Packers were leading 12-7 with seconds left in the game, as Seahawks QB Russell Wilson heaved a 24-yard 'Hail Mary' pass to the end zone where three Packers defenders went up for the ball along with one Seahawk receiver, Golden Tate. It was very clear, to me at any rate, that the Packers Safety — MD Jennings — went up and intercepted the ball in the endzone, which would have meant game over, and a Green Bay win.

The officials, however, ruled that Tate and Jennings both had simultaneous possession of the ball, but gave the edge to the Seahawks after looking at the replay, and called it a touchdown. What made the decision even more ridiculous was the fact that Tate appeared to have pushed the defender in the back to create room to "complete" the catch. The decision led to immediate uproar among fans, media, and pretty much everyone who follows the NFL.

Thank God, that the situation is now resolved and we can get back to the game being played and officiated the right way.

Interestingly, reports are that an estimated US$150 to US$250 million in betting payouts on the game flowed in a different direction after the outcome. Had the referees upheld the interception, the Packers would have won and covered the four-point spread, but it was not to be.

Moving right along to the wild — dare I say, unexpected — side of things that Week Three threw at us. I never for one moment thought I would be mentioning the Saints and the Browns in the same breath. But alas I am, for the simple reason that both these teams remain winless at 0-3 entering Week Four. Things may get even worse for them as they may very well end up being 0-4 at the end of Week Four.

The Browns are up against the Ravens, who are coming off a highly emotional win over the Patriots, and the Saints travel to Lambeau Field to face a Packers team who will be looking around for someone — anyone — to vent their wrath on, after their highly controversial defeat at the hands of Seattle and those incompetent refs.

These pairings do not augur well for either team, particularly the Saints, who were touted as contenders at the start of the season and who now can't even think about anything other than winning their first game.

Speaking of the Ravens, I would just like to offer my opinion on their wide receiver Torrey Smith: He is a Big Man among men as he proved on Sunday.

As brother-cum-surrogate father to six siblings he shoulders a lot of responsibility for a 23-year-old. Last Saturday night, his mind was likely on the game his team would play the following night against the New England Patriots. Then came the fateful call early Sunday morning. His younger brother, Tevin, who would have been 20 next month, had been killed in a motorcycle accident.

A member of the Ravens staff drove him to his mother's house where he spent the day with his family. But two hours before kick-off, he was on the field, warming up. Obviously broken hearted and wiping away the tears but warming up just the same. He didn't have to. He could have remained with his family. Coach John Harbaugh told him that the team would stand by any decision he made. But he felt he should play. His family encouraged him to play. "Tevin would have wanted you to," his mother told him. What drove his decision? "I didn't want to hurt my team," he said.

Torrey Smith erupted for two touchdowns and 127 receiving yards in helping the Ravens clip the Patriots 31-30. He was keeping faith with his team, his other family. Ravens' linebacker Ray Lewis, the cheer-leader-cum preacher of the team had the last word: "Before every blessing, there has to be a storm. Keep the faith, Torrey."

Week Three also had its fair share of upsets for my fellow punters. Just ask my colleague Peter Lindo who had a tough time predicting winners. For that matter so did we all as the table herein shows. Seriously folks, who could have predicted that the Raiders — my Raiders — would have beaten the Steelers 34-31; none of us so called experts did. Then there was the Vikings doing it to the best team in the NFL, the San Francisco 49ers, 24-13. Incidentally, Vikings quarterback, Christian Ponder, looked impressive.

Week Four looms large with some must-win situations, and some interesting match-ups which are going to be hard to call. Three come to mind: the New York Giants facing the Philadelphia Eagles in what must be one of the defining moments in Michael Vick's season. The Kansas City Chiefs at home to the San Diego Chargers should be an interesting contest, so should the Monday Night game between the Chicago Bears and the Dallas Cowboys. It's going to be an interesting week as the season truly begins to take shape.

Well that's it from me for now. Enjoy the games this weekend, and remember to place your bets on the NFL, with JustBet!!!

To find out more about JustBet, and how to bet on the NFL and other sports, visit www.supremeventures.com/justbet, www.facebook.com/justbet, www.twitter.com/justbet_ja, or call 1-888-429-5785 (toll-free)

NFL WEEK 4 SCHEDULE

(Handicaps in bracket, Under/Over included)

Thursday, September 27

Bal Ravens v Cle Browns +13.5, U/O 50.5

Sunday, September 30

Atl Falcons v Car Panthers +8.5, U/O 49.5

Buf Bills +4.5 v NE Patriots, U/O 50.5

Det Lions v Min Vikings +4.5, U/O 47.5

KC Chiefs v SD Chargers +0.5, U/O 44.5

STL Rams +2.5 v Sea Seahawks, U/O 38.5

NY Jets +3.5 v SF 49ers, U/O 40.5

Hou Texans v Ten Titans +12.5, U/O 44.5

Ari Cardinals v Mia Dolphins +6.5, U/O 40.5

Jac Jaguars +1.5 v Cin Bengals, U/O 42.5

Den Broncos v Oak Raiders +5.5, U/O 48.5

GB Packers v NO Saints +7.5, U/O 53.5

TB Buccaneers v Was Redskins +3.5, U/O 48.5

Phi Eagles v NY Giants +1.5, U/O 46.5

Monday October 1

Dal Cowboys v Chi Bears +3.5, U/O 42.5

*Teams on a bye: Indianapolis Colts, Pittsburgh Steelers

*Handicaps and Under/Over subject to change without notice, prior to kick-off

EXPERTS' PICKS AGAINST THE SPREAD

Andrei Roper's

Week 4 Picks (in bold)

Ravens v Browns

Falcons v Panthers

Bills v Patriots

Lions v Vikings

Chiefs v Chargers

Rams v Seahawks

Jets v 49ers

Texans v Titans

Cardinals v Dolphins

Jaguars v Bengals

Broncos v Raiders

Packers v Saints

Buccaneers v Redskins

Eagles v Giants

Cowboys v Bears

Last week: 8-8

Season to date: 26-22

Tony Scott's

Week 4 Picks (in bold)

Ravens v Browns

Falcons v Panthers

Bills v Patriots

Lions v Vikings

Chiefs v Chargers

Rams v Seahawks

Jets v 49ers

Texans v Titans

Cardinals v Dolphins

Jaguars v Bengals

Broncos v Raiders

Packers v Saints

Buccaneers v Redskins

Eagles v Giants

Cowboys v Bears

Last week: 8-8

Season to date: 24-24

Andre Hutchinson's

Week 4 Picks (in bold)

Ravens v Browns

Falcons v Panthers

Bills v Patriots

Lions v Vikings

Chiefs v Chargers

Rams v Seahawks

Jets v 49ers

Texans v Titans

Cardinals v Dolphins

Jaguars v Bengals

Broncos v Raiders

Packers v Saints

Buccaneers v Redskins

Eagles v Giants

Cowboys v Bears

Last week: 7-9

Season to date: 24-24

Peter Lindo's

Week 4 Picks (in bold)

Ravens v Browns

Falcons v Panthers

Bills v Patriots

Lions v Vikings

Chiefs v Chargers

Rams v Seahawks

Jets v 49ers

Texans v Titans

Cardinals v Dolphins

Jaguars v Bengals

Broncos v Raiders

Packers v Saints

Buccaneers v Redskins

Eagles v Giants

Cowboys v Bears

Last week: 3-13

Season to date: 18-30

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