National Football League management is like a bad parent. They set rules that they don’t enforce when reality rears its ugly head.
In August, the league announced that a team unable to field a team because of Covid would forfeit the game and there would be no rescheduling of contests. Then, if they followed those guidelines, now that we know they weren’t really rules, the league would have had to face up to jeopardizing a playoff spot for a team that has a major market influence. A team that plays out of the stadium that will host Super Bowl LVI.
Three teams looking to secure playoff berths were caught without key players, most notably the Los Angeles Rams who had 11 athletes on the Covid protocol including quarterback Matthew Stafford. They were scheduled to play the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, but the league didn’t want to have another game like last year when the Denver Broncos were forced to play the New Orleans Saints without a quarterback and got drilled, 31-3, in a game not as close as the score.
So, let’s move the Rams game, the league decision makers decided to have the Rams able to play with their full roster. Then, protests were logged by the Cleveland Browns and Washington Football Team, two teams also alive in the hunt for a playoff berth and scheduled to play on Saturday and Sunday without their starting quarterbacks.
Okay, the league decided, we’ll move the Las Vegas at Cleveland to Monday and have the Washington at Philadelphia game join the Rams/Seahawks matchup on Tuesday.
So, what happened to forfeits and no rescheduling?
As Rosanne Rosanne-a-dana might have said, “Never mind.”
That means today we don’t have a double-header as the NFL kicks off their Saturday schedule for 2021. What we do have is our Top Pick of the Week when the Indianapolis Colts host the New England Patriots. This contest will go as scheduled with a Saturday night starting time of 5:15 p.m. Pacific Time.
Nine weeks ago, the Patriots lost in overtime at home to the Dallas Cowboys … they haven’t lost since. In their run to the top of the AFC East standings, they now lead the Buffalo Bills by two games, they have not only won seven straight games but covered the point spread in all their contests since that loss to Dallas. Perhaps even more significant, is that New England’s defense has been the best in football in terms of points allowed over the past six weeks.
What happens to a team that has a key division win against a division opponent on the road to move farther ahead in their standings and then gets to celebrate that accomplishment for two weeks while enjoying their bye before meeting an opponent on their home field that needs the game to keep their playoff hopes alive?
They get beat.
We expect the score will be lopsided, but this time, against the Patriots.
Qoxhi Picks: Indianapolis Colts (-2½) over New England Patriots