The NFL in London could work with a little compromise

This coming Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys and Jacksonville Jaguars will play the third and final game of this NFL season’s International Series at Wembley Stadium in London, England.

The series began as an experiment in 2007 by the National Football League to gauge interest of the sport in the European marketplace.

And although the second largest media market in this country – Los Angeles – is on the verge of landing not one but possibly two NFL teams as soon as maybe next season after being without a team for 20 years, the League is still hell-bent on putting a team across the pond in London by 2022.

Commissioned by the NFL and a London marketing agency, the accounting firm DeLoitte released its findings last week from their study that said an NFL franchise based in London could generate more than $255 million for Britain annually.

In British pounds, we’re talking 165 million.

Pounds. Dollars. No matter what currency you reference, that’s a whole lot of coin the 32 team owners can’t ignore.

So, what about the fans both in the States and the British Isles?

A majority of NFL fans here don’t like the idea of putting a team in London because of travel logistics and the idea that it would be similar to out-sourcing American jobs to foreign countries.

Tom Bateman, president of Bring Back the Los Angeles Rams, traveled to London in 2012 to watch the St. Louis Rams play the New England Patriots. courtesy: Tom Bateman
Tom Bateman, director of Bring Back the Los Angeles Rams, traveled to London in 2012 to watch the St. Louis Rams play the New England Patriots.
courtesy: Tom Bateman

As for the Brits, L.A. native Tom Bateman, the director of Bring Back the Los Angeles Rams, traveled to merry old England for a week in October of 2012 to watch the St. Louis Rams take on the New England Patriots.

While there, Bateman spoke with British fans he discovered enjoy American football immensely but think the idea of putting a team in London permanently is a silly one.

I agree with the Brits. If a team is moved or an expansion team is awarded to London, would the league’s name be changed to the International Football League?

“Part of the appeal to the Brits is that each (International Series) game showcases different teams” said Bateman who added, “The NFL in the UK is a spectacle as much as it is a sport. Probably more so.”

British tailgaters at the 2012 NFL International Series Game between the St. Louis Rams and New England Patriots played at Wembley Stadium in London. courtesy: Tom Bateman
British tailgaters “dressed to kilt” at the 2012 NFL International Series Game between the St. Louis Rams and New England Patriots played at Wembley Stadium in London.
courtesy: Tom Bateman

He also discovered an NFL game represents everything the British love about America.

According to Bateman the Brits love the fact that we’re a show off nation.

Really, no sport or league shows off more than the NFL.

“It’s flashy, spectacular, the uniforms, the helmets, the cheerleaders, the endzone celebrations, the sack dances, all of that.” Said Bateman continuing, “But as a sport, to the Brits it can’t hold a candle to soccer or as they refer to it, real football.”

Also on the NFL’s agenda, sooner rather than later, is reducing the pre-season schedule from four games to two while expanding the regular season from its current 16-game schedule to 18.

An 18-game schedule is something the Players’ Union isn’t too keen on for player safety and the extra two games don’t increase the players’ salaries.

What about a little compromise for all parties involved so the 32 team owners, the players and Britain’s annual economy can capitalize on the projected $255 million the NFL stands to generate should it have a permanent presence in London.

Since the Brits enjoy seeing different teams play each International Series game and the logistics of having a permanent team call London home seem a bit difficult to iron out, let’s give the Brits what they want.

America's Game - NFL Football - celebrated at Wembley Stadium in London. courtesy: Tom Bateman
America’s Game – NFL Football – celebrated at Wembley Stadium in London.
courtesy: Tom Bateman

At the same time, let’s expand the regular season from 16 to 17 regular season games with the extra game for each team played each week at Wembley Stadium in London.

So what if it’s an odd number schedule. Only thing affected is a team finishing .500 which isn’t a huge deal in the grand playoff scheme of things.

This way, only teams with winning records would qualify for the postseason.

Make the 17th game match ups interconference games – AFC vs. NFC – with the match ups chosen with ping pong ball machines much like the ones used to choose the World Cup soccer groups or the NBA Draft Lottery and do it during Super Bowl Week for games in the upcoming regular season. Cut the pre-season to just two games.

You’ve added a game while having an entire regular season schedule – 16 weeks – in London with the Brits seeing all 32 NFL teams in different match ups each game and year.

It becomes a “pseudo Super Bowl” each week in London because the logistics time wise of having the Super Bowl in London – which has been discussed – just won’t work for NFL fans in the States who want to see the biggest game and spectacle on U.S. soil and rightfully so.

After all, it is America’s Game. Somewhere all 32 teams need to always call home.

No Time To Panic For Me Or Favre!

ERIC’S NFL WEEK 6 PICKS

Remember, use my picks to wager $$$ at your own risk. If you lose, I had nothing to do with it. If you win beaucoup $$$, a 10% tip would be cool.  But, I’m realistic. This is just for your entertainment…or not, and for me to keep my sports “mojo” going until “I’m back in the saddle”. Remember the league’s unofficial motto…“ON ANY GIVEN SUNDAY, MONDAY, THURSDAY, FRIDAY OR SATURDAY“…………

Last Week:  3-11 (WHAT!?!?)  Season:  39-37

SEATTLE (2-2) +7 @ CHICAGO (4-1) O/U 37.5 pts
-Bears QB Jay Cutler back after concussion issues from being sacked nine times in one half by the Giants two weeks ago. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll continues to tinker with his roster trading for Bills RB Marshawn Lynch, waiving RB Julius Jones and sending WR Deion Branch back to the Patriots. It’s perpetual training camp for Seattle. BEARS (23-20, SEAHAWKS)

MIAMI (2-2) +3 @ GREEN BAY (3-2)  46 pts
-Packers look like a M*A*S*H Unit. QB Aaron Rodgers is questionable with the effects of a concussion. Expect him to play.  Out are RB Ryan Grant, LB’s Clay Matthews & Nick Barnett, TE’s Jermichael Finley & Donald Lee, DL Ryan Pickett,  Safeties Derrick Martin & Atari Bigby and CB Al Harris. Could be a bit too much to overcome even at Lambeau Field against a Dolphins team coming off of a bye week. At least reigning defensive player of the year, CB Charles Woodson’s healthy to blanket Miami WR Brandon Marshall. Expect Chad Henne to hand off to RB’s Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. If the Miami special teams doesn’t give up 21 points to the Packers like it did two weeks ago to the Patriots, Miami should be fine against Green Bay’s JV. DOLPHINS (23-20, DOLPHINS)

SAN DIEGO (2-3) -7.5  @ ST. LOUIS (2-3) 44 pts
-Everything’s going according to plan for the Chargers. They’re out of the shoot with a two and three record for the fourth consecutive season.  Remember, San Diego’s gone on to win the AFC West the previous three. Bolts have severed ties with former all-pro LB Shawn Merriman who’s been injury-plagued the last three seasons, this year being hampered by a badly strained left calf muscle. Bolts will trade him when he’s off the injury list with the Rams being one of the teams with some interest. Good news, WR Vincent Jackson will be back by Halloween. QB Phillip Rivers lighting up opposing defenses. Unfortunately, the Chargers special teams have been atrocious and responsible for two losses including last week’s to the Raiders causing this Chargers Fan much heartache!

OH, THE HUMANITY!! Anyway….Rams suffered their first bad loss of the season last week getting waxed by the Lions in Detroit, 44-6. Under rookie QB Sam Bradford and a solid young defense, Rams have been in every game except for last week. At two and three, they’re in the thick of the NFC West race. So many weapons for Rivers on offense and If that special teams unit doesn’t have another hick-up, the Chargers should be ready to get going. Expect the Rams to keep it close with Bradford handing off to RB Steven Jackson to set up the pass. CHARGERS (20-17, RAMS)

BALTIMORE (4-1) +3 @ NEW ENGLAND (3-1) 46 pts
-Patriots return from a bye week which saw them trade WR Randy Moss back to the Vikings and welcomed back WR Deion Branch from the Seahawks. Last time these two met in Foxboro was in January for an AFC playoff game with the Ravens embarrassing the Patriots, 33-14.  Ravens RB Ray Rice had a huge day as did the defense led by LB Ray Lewis. Baltimore’s back with added weapons for QB Joe Flacco in WR’s Anquan Boldin and T.J. Houshmandzadeh.  Without Moss, Pats QB Tom Brady will go to Wes Welker and a trio of pass-catching tight ends. He’ll need the ground game to keep his jersey clean. RAVENS (23-20, PATRIOTS)

DETROIT (1-4) +10.5 @ NY GIANTS of NEW JERSEY (3-2) 44 pts
-That’s more like it, G-Men! The defense bringing the pain during New York’s two-game win streak. First, sacking Chicago QB’s 10 times in a 17-3 win. Then, in last week’s 34-10 win at Houston only allowing a franchise-low 24 rushing yards to a Texans team ranked near the top in the league on the ground.  Much improved Detroit’s trying to end a 23-game road losing streak and is working some offensive MOJO after beating the Rams in the Motor City last week, 44-6. It was the first game the Lions were able to use the “Kneel-Down formation” at the end of the game since……Bobby Layne QB’d in Detroit (Google “Bobby Layne“)? Make it 24 straight road losses. GIANTS (28-20, GIANTS)

ATLANTA (4-1) +2.5 @ PHILADELPHIA (3-2) 43 pts
-It hasn’t been easy, but the Falcons are learning to win tough and ugly games. QB Matt Ryan and NFC South leading Atlanta are good at winning by wide margins, so, winning tough and ugly will serve the Falcons well come playoff time. The Eagles are in the thick of the NFC East race even with the revolving door at QB. Ex-Falcon Michael Vick is questionable to go up against his former team still nursing badly bruised ribs. Kevin Kolb gets the start completely recovered from that concussion from the opening game loss to Green Bay. FALCONS (31-17, EAGLES)

CLEVELAND (1-4) +13.5 @ PITTSBURGH (3-1) 37 pts
-The Steelers welcome back QB Ben Roethlisberger from suspension. Makes Pittsburgh quite the complete team. The Steelers are dead last in the league in passing without Big Ben and have relied on the run with Rashard Mendenhall working the bulk of the carries. Imagine what happens with Big Ben opening up the air attack. Poor Cleveland. While Pittsburgh welcomes back Roethlisberger, Texas rookie QB Colt McCoy will get his NFL Initiation against Troy Polamalu and the Steel Curtain Defense. Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace are injured. So, have fun Colt! STEELERS (28-10, STEELERS)

NEW ORLEANS (3-2) -4 @ TAMPA BAY (3-1) 43 pts
-The world champion Saints are struggling. QB Drew Brees has to rely on his arm because New Orleans is lean at the running back position with RB’s Reggie Bush out and Pierre Thomas questionable. Makes the Saints very one-dimensional.  To help Brees, they signed RB Julius Jones just released by Seattle.  The Bucs have exceeded expectations equaling last season’s win total after just four games. They’re young and talented with QB Josh Freeman garnering the NFC Offensive Player of the Week award after leading Tampa to a 24-21 come-from-behind win at Cincinnati last week. The opportunistic Tampa defense has recorded 12 turnovers in four games, including nine interceptions. If the Bucs want to be taken seriously, a home win over the defending world champ opens some eyes. The Saints are hurt and desperate after losing two of the last three but need to be able to work the ground game. BUCCANEERS (31-6, SAINTS)

KANSAS CITY (3-1) +4 @ HOUSTON (3-2) 44.5 pts
-What happened to the Texans? Houston looked as if they’d make a serious run at the AFC South. Granted, all four teams are tied in the division with 3-2 records. Problem is the Texans are regressing. They’ve gotten pounded at home the last two weeks by Dallas and the New York Giants. Meanwhile, Kansas City’s atop the AFC West and playing consistently good defense and running the ball extremely well. The KC defense had Peyton Manning and the Colts frustrated in their last meeting not allowing a passing touchdown in the 19-9 Indy win. Had WR Dwayne Bowe not dropped a couple of on target Matt Cassel passes, the Chiefs would be 4-0.  The Texans need to get that ground game with Arian foster going as well as Matt Schaub finding a healthier Andre Johnson.  Kansas City can run the ball, but the Chiefs will have to take advantage of that weak and depleted Houston secondary. So, Bowe needs to hold on to the ball. CHIEFS (35-31, TEXANS)

NY JETS of NEW JERSEY (4-1) -3 @ DENVER (2-3) 41.5 pts
-Broncos have become a passing team with QB Kyle Orton averaging just under  350 yards passing per game.  Denver can’t run the ball to save its life. With the Jets stingy pass-defense featuring dynamic cornerback duo Antonio Cromartie and Darrelle Revis, WHO ISN‘T 100%  because of hamstring issues, it looks pretty bleak for the Broncos. On offense, Jets QB Mark Sanchez can just hand the ball off to LaDanian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene because Denver can’t stop the run to save its life. That’ll open up passing lanes for Sanchez. This one’s going to be ugly. JETS (24-20, JETS)

OAKLAND (2-3) +6.5   @ SAN FRANCISCO (0-5) 41.5 pts
-If not for a botched field goal, the Raiders would be 3-2. So, how is it they’re almost a touchdown underdog to a winless 49ers team?  I don’t know. Oakland finally beat San Diego last week after seven years of futility. The main reason, the Raiders special teams was able to exploit a weak Chargers special teams. There’s much talent on offense especially at RB with Darren McFadden and Michael Bush. Problem is the offensive line is dinged up, hence the issues at QB where Jason Campbell replaces Bruce Gradkowski who was knocked out of the Chargers game. The 49ers are 0-5 with severe issues at QB. Former first round pick Alex Smith’s looked terrible. But after confronted by head coach Mike Singletary, he looks really good. RB Frank Gore is the key. He needs to take pressure off Smith who needs to stop turning the ball over. Defensively, the Niners are solid with LB Patrick Willis running the show. Frisco’s gotta get off the schneid at some point. 49ERS (17-9, 49ERS)

DALLAS (1-3) +1.5 @ MINNESOTA (1-3) 44 pts
-This one’s dubbed “The Panic Bowl” because both these one and three teams had Super Bowl aspirations. Winner’s right back in the fold, the loser might as well fold. Vikings are the better team. They have a huge pass rush on defense. On offense, QB Brett Favre’s had issues both on and off the field. There’s that sexual harassment thing from two years ago involving another female reporter who seems to be looking for publicity. On the field, Favre’s dealing with some tendonitis in his throwing elbow and, now, an injured groin suffered in practice and caught on tape.

Some would say Poetic Justice for texting a photo of that “bad boy”. Keep that thing locked up, Brett!! Favre’s got as many turnovers now as he did all last season. That seemed to change in the second half of last week’s loss to the Jets. New toy WR Randy Moss and a healthy Percy Harvin have alleviated the passing issues the Vikes had to begin the season. Now, Sidney Rice is back to make it difficult on any secondary. The bread and butter is RB Adrian Peterson. He’s the focal point. He runs, makes it easier for Favre and the passing game. As for the Cowboys, only way they have a shot is if they can run the ball keeping the heat off the league’s most over-rated and over-hyped player QB Tony Romo. If the Cowboys abandon the run, Romo’s going to get acquainted with Jared Allen.  Bye-Bye Wade Phillips. VIKINGS (24-21, VIKINGS)

INDIANAPOLIS (3-2) -3 @ WASHINGTON (3-2) 44 pts (SNF)
-Redskins allow 410 passing yards per game. Colts QB Peyton Manning throwing for over 400 yards per game. Redskins QB Donovan McNabb’s going to have to keep up with Manning. It’ll be tough with DE Dwight Freeney in his grill most of the game. Redskins better hope they’re not behind too early and can try to keep the ball out of Manning’s hands with the running game. COLTS (27-24, COLTS)

TENNESSEE (3-2) -3 @ JACKSONVILLE (3-2) 45.5 pts (MNF)
-Both teams half of the four-way tie atop the AFC South.  It’ll be Titans RB Chris Johnson up against Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew. Advantage Tennessee because of that defensive line which is stingy against the run and murder against opposing QB’s. Doesn’t fare well for  the Jags David Garrard who’ll be forced out of the pocket. Titans QB Vince Young playing well because it helps having Johnson to hand off to. TITANS (30-3, TITANS)

BYE WEEK:

BUFFLO (0-5)
CINCINNATI (2-3)
ARIZONA (3-2)
CAROLINA (0-5)
LOS ANGELES (15 years, 6 weeks)

Another favorite 3 STOOGES short film called THREE LITTLE PIGSKINS (1935). Game footage shot at GILMORE STADIUM which stood near the corner of FAIRFAX & THIRD in Los Angeles. Lucille Ball is featured in this one. ENJOY!

I Need to Bounce Back after Last Week’s Debacle!

Eric’s NFL Week 5 Picks

Remember, use my picks to wager $$$ at your own risk. If you lose, I had nothing to do with it. If you win beaucoup $$$, a 10% tip would be cool.  But, I’m realistic. This is just for your entertainment…or not, and for me to keep my sports “mojo” going until “I’m back in the saddle”. Remember the league’s unofficial motto…“ON ANY GIVEN SUNDAY, MONDAY, THURSDAY, FRIDAY OR SATURDAY“…………

Last Week: 6-8 (UGH!)  Season:  36-26

What a rough week. Worst ever for me. I’ll  make a huge comeback today even though I’m sidelined and under the weather. Speaking of this week’s injury report, here’s ESPN’s Steve Levy.

JACKSONVILLE (2-2) +1.5 @ BUFFALO (0-4) O/U 41 pts
-So. Let me get this right. The Jaguars beat the Colts last week and they’re the underdog? Well, if QB Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Bills are going to win a game, it’s this one at home. Jags featured RB Maurice Jones-Drew who rushed for triple-figures and a touchdown in the win over the Colts. A toss up. BILLS (36-26, JAGUARS)

TAMPA BAY (2-1) +7 @ CINCINNATI (2-2) 38 pts
-The Buccaneers are coming off a bye week while the under-achieving Bengals lost by three to in-state rival Cleveland last week. Bucs QB Josh Freeman and Tampa playing well. But, I don’t think they can beat Carson Palmer throwing to WR’s Chad Ocho-Cinco and T.O. while Cedric Benson carries the pill. T.O. with a huge receiving day catching the pill for 222 yards. moving into second place behind Jerry Rice among WR’s. Palmer threw for 371 yards and two TD’s. Turnovers killed the Bengals last week. BENGALS (24-21, BUCS)

ATLANTA (3-1) -3 @ CLEVELAND (1-3) 41 pts
-The Falcons were fortunate to beat San Francisco at the Georgia Dome last week. Cleveland capitalized on turnovers to beat instate rival Cincinnati last week. Falcons only a three-point favorite? Behind QB Matt Ryan, the ATL soars. FALCONS (20-10, FALCONS)

ST. LOUIS (2-2) +3 @ DETROIT (0-4)  43 pts
-Behind rookie QB Sam Bradford, that running game featuring Steven Jackson, and that defense, the Rams playing for first place in the NFC West. No denying Bradford’s a special player that’ll run the Rams for at least a decade. Winless Detroit playing much better as well and their future is bright. Unfortunately, the Lions are without last year’s top-overall pick, QB Matthew Stafford, who separated his shoulder in week one. Shaun Hill’s played well in his stead. Detroit might need to un-retire Eric Hipple. What’s a Hipple you ask? Google time. Rams looking for their first road win since last year in Detroit. They’ll try for their first three-game winning streak in four years. RAMS (44-6, LIONS)

KANSAS CITY (3-0)  +7 @ INDIANAPOLIS (2-2) 45.5 pts
-The Chiefs coming off their bye week as the league’s last undefeated team. They’re averaging 160 yards on the ground with RB Jamal Charles and a dynamic duo on special teams with returnee’s Dexter McCluster and Javier Arenas. Their defense stellar as well. QB Peyton Manning and the Colts aren’t used to having two losses this early in a season. In last week’s loss at Jacksonville, the Colts had turnover issues and couldn’t stop the run. They also couldn’t run. Problem for the Chiefs, Peyton’s angry and it’s hard to beat Indy in Indy after a loss.  COLTS (19-9, COLTS)

GREEN BAY (3-1) -2.5 @ WASHINGTON (2-2)  45.5 pts
-Redskins featuring the running game and solid defense in last week’s homecoming win for QB Donovan McNabb over the Eagles in Philadelphia. Packers behind QB Aaron Rodgers snuck by the Lions at home. Redskins have the worst pass defense in the league. PACKERS (16-13, REDSKINS)

CHICAGO (3-1)  +2.5 @ CAROLINA (0-4) 33 pts
-Bears QB Jay Cutler was knocked out of last week’s loss to the Giants, who sacked Bears’ QB’s 10 TIMES! Cutler’s out of Sunday’s game with effects from a concussion getting pounded to the Meadowlands Stadium Turf so many times. Veteran Back-Up QB Todd Collins gets the start and DE Julius Pepper’s returns to Carolina to go up against his winless former team. Rookie QB Jimmy Clausen starts for the third straight time for the Panthers. Carolina’s getting much better. They need to be able to run the ball with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. Collins could have issues because the Bears O-Line is suspect (See Last Week) and they can’t run the ball. Remember. Mike Martz is the offensive coordinator. They can probably feature some running against the Cats. BEARS (23-6, BEARS)

DENVER  (2-2) +7 @ BALTIMORE (3-1) 33 pts
-Denver can’t run the ball thus having issues getting the ball in the end zone. The Ravens are so good in all phases of the game. Led by LB Ray Lewis. QB Joe Flacco and WR Anquan Bouldin and lights out as is that running game with Ray Rice. RAVENS (31-17, RAVENS)

NY GIANTS OF NEW JERSEY (2-2) +3 @ HOUSTON (3-1) 48.5 pts
-If the Giants can do to Texans QB Matt Schaub what they did to Bears’ QB’s, sacking them 10 times, the Giants just may be back. Unfortunate, they’re in Houston where they’re going against the league’s top rusher, Arian Foster. Schaub will look for WR Andre Johnson who’s sprained ankle is beter. On defense, QB Eli Manning and RB Ahmad Bradshaw need to get some time against DE Mario Williams and LB Brian Cushing who returns to the line-up after a substance abuse suspension. TEXANS (34-10, GIANTS)

NEW ORLEANS (3-1) -7 @ ARIZONA (2-2) 45.5 ptS
-The two last NFC Super Bowl reps tangling in the Valley of the Sun. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, they have QB issues. Derek Anderson’s done and replaced by undrafted rookie Max Hall. No such issues for the World Champion Saints. They have Drew Brees. Saints are winning ugly this year always in close games. The mark of a champ. It’ll be like last year on Sunday with Brees throwing all over the field. SAINTS (30-20, CARDINALS)

TENNESSEE (2-2) +7 @ DALLAS (1-2) 42.5 pts
-Titans running into to the Cowboys at a bad time. Dallas had its bye week last week after beating the Texans in Houston two week’s ago. Cowboys featured RB Marion Barber n the win taking pressure off the league’s most over-rated and over-hyped QB ever, Tony Romo who was 23-30 for 289 yards and two touchdowns. Texans QB Vince Young returning home. He guided the University of Texas to a national championship a few years back.  Titans have a 10-game win streak against NFC opponents. Ends today. COWBOYS (34-27, TITANS)

SAN DIEGO (2-2) -6.5 @ OAKLAND (1-3)  45 pts
-An AFL rivalry that’s spans five decades. Chargers haven’t played well enough on the road to win having special teams and turnover issues. QB Phillip Rivers playing huge for the Bolts. Raiders QB Bruce Gradkowski has Oakland playing well. Raiders without RB Darren McFadden who’s out with a hamstring pull. The Raiders defense playing well. Bolts a bit better. CHARGERS (35-27, RAIDERS)

PHILADELPHIA (2-2) +3 @ SAN FRANCISCO (0-4) 38.5 pts (SNF)
-Eagles returning QB Kevin Kolb as the starter after Michael Vick went down with a rib injury in last week’s loss at home to Washington. 49ers still winless after gift-wrapping a game to the Falcons in Atlanta last week. San Francisco gets its first win. 49EERS (27-24, EAGLES)

MINNESOTA (1-2) +4 @ NY JETS OF NEW JERSEY (3-1) 38 pts (MNF)
-Vikings traded for WR Randy Moss last week returning him to Minnesota and pairing him with QB Brett Favre who always wanted to throw to Moss. WR Percy Harvin is, also, back. It’s all about RB Adrian Peterson. He runs past a great defense, it’ll open up that passing game that’s, currently, last in the league. Since an opening game loss to Baltimore, QB Mark Sanchez has been stellar throwing eight TD passes and no INT’s. Former Chargers RB LaDainian Tomlinson has found the fountain of youth running behind the Jets O-Line designed for the run where San Diego’s was designed to pass block for Phillip Rivers. Moss will go up against CB Darelle Revis for the secnd time in two week’s. Moss sent Revis to the sideline’s beating him for a Patriots touchdown tweaking Revis’ hamstring in the process. It’s the game of the week. Favre played a season for the Jets and will have a blast against one of his former teams with Moss back. VIKINGS (29-20, JETS)

BYE WEEK:

MIAMI (2-2)

PITTSBURGH (2-2)

SEATTLE (2-2)

NEW ENGLAND (2-2)

LOS ANGELES (15 years, 5 weeks)

Special Teams and Kickers Kicked My A&&!!

Eric’s NFL Week  4 Picks

Remember, use my picks to wager $$$ at your own risk. If you lose, I had nothing to do with it. If you win beaucoup $$$, a 10% tip would be cool.  But, I’m realistic. This is just for your entertainment…or not, and for me to keep my sports “mojo” going until “I’m back in the saddle”. Remember the league’s unofficial motto…“ON ANY GIVEN SUNDAY, MONDAY, THURSDAY, FRIDAY OR SATURDAY“…………

Last Week: 10-6 Season:  30-18

The Chargers Special Teams, Kicker Sebastian Janikowski of the Raiders & Saints kicker Garrett Hartley all played like “Huxley College”. Dedicated to them, one of my favorite “football comedy bits” provided by the Marx Brothers in HORSE FEATHERS.

SAN FRANCISCO +6.5 (0-3) @ ATLANTA (2-1) O/U 42.5 pts
-49ers were pre-season favorites to win the NFC West. Now, with a loss to Atlanta, the Mike Singletary watch will be on. The Falcons have the upper hand on the NFC South after beating the champion Saints in overtime last week in the Big Easy. “Tic-Toc, Samurai Mike.” FALCONS (16-14, FALCONS)

NY JETS OF NEW JERSEY +5.5 (2-1) @ BUFFALO (0-3) 37 pts
-Bills replaced starting QB Trent Edwards with back-up Ryan Fitzpatrick in last week’s 38-30 loss to New England. Fitzpatrick played so well, head coach Chan Gailey cut Edwards off the roster completely. Rex Ryan and the J-E-T-S! JETS, JETS< JETS! Can go 3-0 within the AFC East for the first time in 10 years. QB Mark Sanchez and that offense showing good balance since the loss in the opener to the Ravens. Could be an “ambush game” for the Jets. Watch out, Rex. It’ll be close. JETS (38-14, JETS)

CINCINNATI -3 (2-1) @ CLEVELAND (0-3) 37.5 pts
-The Battle of Ohio renewed on the shores of Lake Erie. Browns QB Jake Delhomme’s back from injury. Browns gave the Ravens a scare last week in their 24-17 loss. This one’s going to be close too. Bengals offense should FINALLY open up. Watch out for plenty of Carson Palmer to Ocho-Cinco and T.O. BENGALS (23-20, BROWNS)

DETROIT (0-3) +14.5 @ GREEN BAY (2-1) 45 pts
-Lions still without Matthew Stafford at QB. Detroit lost big at Minnesota last week. It’ll be worse Sunday especially since the Packers are coming off a loss in Chicago. Aaron Rodgers should unload a can of “whoop-a&&” in the “not yet frozen tundra.” PACKERS (28-26, PACKERS)

DENVER +6.5 (1-2) @ TENNESSEE (2-1) 43 pts
-QB Vince Young and the Titans rebounded well from an ugly home loss to Pittsburgh with an inspired win over the Giants in Gotham last week. QB Kyle Orton and the Broncos are putting up good stats but can’t get the pill in the end zone. Denver struggled mightily in last week’s 27-13 home loss to Peyton Manning and the Colts. Titans RB Chris Johnson’s going to have a big day. TITANS (26-20, BRONCOS)

SEATTLE (2-1) -1 @ ST. LOUIS (1-2) 40 pts
-Pete Carroll’s Seahawks were fortunate Leon Washington was able to return two kick-offs for touchdowns in last week’s 27-20 home win over San Diego. Bolts QB Phillip Rivers dissected the Seattle secondary for 455 yards. They better watch out because they’re in the Gateway City facing an improved Rams team with a gun-slinger at QB. How about the Rams and top overall pick Sam Bradford! They broke a 14-game losing streak taking care of Washington, 30-16 last week. RB Steven Jackson’s questionable because of a pulled groin. Kenneth Darby did well replacing the all-pro with 49 yards on 14 carries and a score. Seahawks have won nine straight against the Rams. The Rams could easily be 3-0 with their two losses by a combined five points. Let’s keep that MOJO going. Bradford’s going to have a big day. RAMS (20-3, RAMS)

CAROLINA (0-3) +13.5 @ NEW ORLEANS (2-1) 44 pts
-If it weren’t for Saints kicker Garrett Hartley’s missed 29 yard field goal in overtime, the Saints would be 3-0. New Orleans brought back 22-year veteran kicker John Carney who could replace Hartley as soon as Sunday. Both were on last season’s roster. Carolina’s working Notre Dame rookie QB Jimmy Clausen into the offense so this is an extended “pre-season” going into the next season. This could be ugly. SAINTS (16-14, SAINTS)

BALTIMORE (2-1) +1.5 @ PITTSBURGH (3-0) 34.5 pts
-This has got to be the game of the day. An AFC North Clash of Titans. Both with monster defenses. Without QB Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers have rediscovered the running game with Rashard Mendenhall moving the chains. That defense, led by Troy Palomalu, is awesome. Same with Baltimore’s led by Ray Lewis. QB Joe Flacco tossed three touchdowns to new toy Anquan Bouldin in last week‘s 24-17 win at Cleveland. Ravens, also, have a solid ground attack with Ray Rice and Willis McGahee. This is a pick ’em game and I’d lean to the home team in this home-and-home series. I’m going to go with Flacco and the Birds in a close one only because this is where the Steelers will miss Big Ben. RAVENS (17-14, RAVENS)

HOUSTON (2-1) -3 @ OAKLAND (1-2) 43 pts
-Are you kidding me, Sebastian Janikowski!!!! If it weren’t for your three missed field goals, including a 32-yard “chippie” as time expired, you and the Raiders would be 2-1. Wasted effort by new starting QB Bruce Gradkowski and that third-ranked Raider Defense in that 24-23 loss at Arizona. Are you kidding me Texans!!! You had a 3-0 start in your sites and laid an egg at home to previously winless Dallas last week, 27-13. QB Matt Schaub and that number one offense stopped dead by the Dallas defense. Meanwhile, Dallas QB Tony Romo sliced and diced that worst passing defense in the league. Won’t get any easier for the Texans in the black hole, especially, with WR Andre Johnson still hobbled by the bad wheel. Gradkowki licking his chops to get at that Houston pass defense. Don’t let me down again, Janikowski!! RAIDERS (31-24, TEXANS)

Fitting Houston’s at Oakland.  Hall-of-Famer George Blanda played in both cities (Oilers & Raiders) as well as in Chicago with the Bears during his remarkable 26 year NFL/AFL career. Blanda passed away this past week at 83. Here’s a tribute to one of the most amazing players ever courtesy of the NFL Network. R.I.P  George Blanda.

INDIANAPOLIS (2-1) -7 @ JACKSONVILLE (1-2) 46 pts
-Only way Jacksonville has a shot against Indy is if RB Maurice Jones-Drew has a big day against that Colts defense, which he’s done in the past. Also, that Jags defense has to find a way to stop Peyton Manning. No way. COLTS (31-28, JAGUARS)

WASHINGTON (1-2) +5.5 @ PHILADELPHIA (2-1) 43 pts
-Welcome home, Donovan McNabb!! Redskins coming off a bad 30-16 loss at St. Louis. That defense is the worst in the league adjusting to that 3-4 scheme. “Big Dog” Michael Vick has thrown for 750 yards, six TD’s, no picks, 170 rushing yards and another score since taking over for Kevin Kolb in week one. McNabb was instrumental in bringing Vick to the Eagles last year. The thanks, McNabb’s going to get bitten hard by him in the City of Brotherly Love. EAGLES (17-12, REDSKINS)

ARIZONA (2-1) +8 @ SAN DIEGO (1-2) 45.5 pts
-Chargers are playing true to form giving games away in the first five weeks of the season. QB Phillip Rivers threw  for 455 yards in the loss at Seattle last week. Bolts special teams needs a wake-up call after giving up two kick-off returns for touchdowns. Cardinals should’ve given a game-ball to Oakland kicker Sebastian Janikowski last week, for missing three field goals including a 32-yard chippie as time ran out, gift-wrapping a 24-23 win for the Cards  in Arizona. Is that correct?? Derek Anderson’s the starting QB for the Cardinals?? STILL?!?!? CHARGERS (41-10, CHARGERS)

CHICAGO (3-0) +3.5 @ NY GIANTS OF NEW JERSEY (1-2) 43.5 pts (SNF)
-The Bears and QB Jay Cutler looking very strong and improved after Monday’s 20-17 win over Green Bay at Soldier Field. As for the Giants, head coach Tom Coughlin could be on the hot-seat if his team plays the way they’ve been playing. BAD. QB Eli Manning looking like his Dad Archie, trying to create something using his opposite hand to try and throw a touchdown. Instead, a pick by the Titans in the end zone. If the Giants can get any kind of running game……………oh, snap! It’s the Bears defense with Brian Urlacher and Julius Peppers. BEARS (17-3, GIANTS)

NEW ENGLAND (2-1) -1 @ MIAMI (2-1) 46.5 pts
-Patriots with a close shave with the winless and hapless Buffalo Bills last week at The Razor, winning 38-30. QB Tom Brady is his old self throwing darts to his tight ends and selection of  WR’s. New England’s defense isn’t what it used to be. The Dolphins played it tough in a home loss to the Jets last week. QB Chad Henne and Brandon Marshall clicking as are running backs Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams although the latter needs to hold on to the rock. Miami’s defense is better. A close division game. DOLPHINS (41-14, PATRIOTS)

BYE WEEK:

DALLAS (1-2)
MINNESOTA (1-2)
KANSAS CITY (3-0)
TAMPA BAY (2-1)
LOS ANGELES (15 years, 4 weeks)

Remembering Merlin Olsen

There were plenty of the usual, mundane, sports topics I contemplated writing about Thursday. I’ll get to them eventually. Forgot all about them when I found out Merlin Olsen died earlier that morning losing his battle against a form of lung cancer. He was 69.

If you knew nothing about big number 74 before Thursday, you’ve, by now, probably read all about the NFL hall-of-famer and anchor of the Los Angeles RamsFearsome Foursome” defensive line of the 1960’s. Alongside Olsen was tackle Rosey Grier, who came from the New York Giants via trade for tackle Roger Brown, and defensive ends Lamar Lundy and David “Deacon” Jones, all four causing havoc and mayhem for all opponents.

Olsen played 15 seasons all for the Los Angeles Rams, never missing a game, was all-pro for 14 of those seasons garnering the Most Valuable Player Award in 1974, before retiring in 1976. He’s STILL the franchise leader in tackles with 915.

Olsen never played in a Super Bowl. He always was left one game short. Back then, the Rams could never get by the Minnesota Vikings, Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers or Baltimore Colts with the Super Bowl on the line. Didn’t matter. More often than not, the inability of the offense to score at crucial times in championship games was the Rams Achilles Heel.

For many of you, Olsen is better remembered for his role as Jonathan Garvey on TV’s “Little House on the Prairie” and, later, starring in his own show, “Father Murphy”. Quite honestly, I never watched “Little House on the Prairie” or “Father Murphy”. I do remember his TV work as the pitch-man for FTD Florists and as Dick Enberg’s analyst on NBC-NFL broadcasts.

My fondest memories of Merlin Olsen are, as a little kid in the 1970‘s, about going to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Sunday afternoons in the Fall and watching big number 74 stuff opposing running backs forcing teams to pass which enabled him and guys like Jack Youngblood and Fred Dryer to terrorize opposing quarterbacks. That was the era of the second incarnation of the “Fearsome Foursome”. Olsen and  Larry Brooks were the interior defensive tackles with Youngblood and Dryer working either end of the line. Olsen IS the only link to both incarnations.

Back to the 70’s. It was an incredible time to be a Los Angeles Rams fan. Beginning in 1973, the Rams won an NFL-record seven straight NFC Western Division Titles. For the first four titles, Olsen was the leader on a Rams team that, defensively, would beat down opposing teams no matter what offensive super-star any team would challenge the Rams defense with. The Cowboys with Roger Staubach, Drew Pearson and Tony Dorsett. The Bills and O.J. Simpson. The Vikings with Fran Tarkenton and Chuck Foreman, the Cardinals and Jim Hart. The Steelers with Bradshaw, Swann, Stallworth and Harris. I’d always look forward to listening to the Rams Theme Song played by the Rams Band after big plays and wins. Was also fun to watch “Archy”, the ARCO Mascot, dance on the Coliseum scoreboard after big plays and scores. The following Monday morning, it was always a treat to re-live the game reading about it and cutting out the photographs in the L.A. Times and Herald Examiner sports sections.

I remember Merlin Olsen never danced after making a big tackle or quarterback sack never gloating over his victim like today‘s players seem to do as if it‘s part of the game. Many times Olsen would give his victim a helping hand off the turf and a pat on the behind. All the Rams defensive players followed his lead. Win or lose at the end of a game, Olsen was the first at mid-field to shake the opponents hands. Olsen respected the game and those who played it.

Olsen was genuinely a good guy on and off the field. The first TV interview I conducted as a broadcast journalism student was with Merlin Olsen. He was taking part in a celebrity fund-raiser golf event in Buena Park, California. To tell you how long ago that was………Ronald Reagan was President.

Needless to say, I was excited and extremely nervous to be interviewing one of my childhood heroes. Luckily, it wasn’t a live shot. I completely blanked. We turned off the camera excusing myself all the while to Mr. Olsen. He chuckled a bit and in a deep voice said to me, “No problems. We’re just having a nice conversation.” That’s what we had. A nice conversation.

Now, before interviewing anyone, especially kids, I remember looking up at Merlin Olsen, who was wearing a white golf cap that day way back when, and repeat what he said to me, “We’re just having a nice conversation”.

With his passing, I’ve lost another part of my childhood. The one where my father, brother and I would watch Merlin Olsen and the Rams at the Coliseum. What’s amazing to me, in this world of social media networking, I know I’m not the only one who’s lost a member of the family with Olsen’s passing.

On FaceBook, there’s a group called “Bring Back the Los Angeles Rams”.  A group detailing stories of Autumn Sunday afternoons at the Coliseum and Anaheim Stadium when the Rams were thee sports team here…and hope there could be more memories in the future. Will it happen. Who knows.

In the meantime, you can find tributes to Merlin Olsen on that group’s page. That’s what’s sad. Only on that group page can they be found. We can’t go to the West Pico Boulevard Office of the Rams, across the street from the Rancho Park Golf Course. It no longer exists. We can’t go to Rams Park in Fullerton. It no longer exists. I suppose we can go to the Coliseum and put together a “memorial shrine” to Olsen near the Peristyle end of the stadium. Would anyone care.

The Rams left for St. Louis 16 years ago. Had they still called Los Angeles home during that time, Olsen and his “Fearsome Foursome” mates would have been celebrated in front of a packed stadium on one of those glorious L.A. Autumn Sunday afternoons. It never happened and it never will. Olsen and Lamar Lundy are gone. Rosey Grier, “The Deacon”, Jack Youngblood, Fred Dryer, Larry Brooks and Cody Jones are still around. But, we can’t pay tribute to these guys because Autumn Sunday Afternoons at the Coliseum with the Rams and the NFL no longer exist. That’s a disgrace.

But, along with the L.A. natives in the group “Bring Back the Los Angeles Rams”, I’m fortunate enough to have memories of those great times, great Rams teams and great players like Merlin Olsen. The rest of you missed out.

Maybe Roger Goodell and the NFL should think about having a pre-season game at the Coliseum with the Rams, playing in the blue and white throwbacks, taking on the San Francisco 49ers and hold pre-game and halftime ceremonies celebrating Merlin Olsen and the Fearsome Foursome.  Better still, instead of having a regular season game in London, have it in Los Angeles at the Coliseum with the Rams, wearing blue and white throwbacks, taking on the 49ers and hold pre-game and halftime ceremonies celebrating Merlin Olsen, the Fearsome Foursome and the Los Angeles Rams.  One game couldn’t hurt. Bet it’d be a sell-out. It’s a “no-brainer”. Maybe that’s too obvious and RIGHT for the NFL Suits to do.

Rest in Peace, Merlin Olsen. Live long in our hearts and memories along with the Los Angeles Rams and those glorious Autumn Sunday afternoons at the Coliseum.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: