I wanted to write this column about O.J. Simpson's alleged involvement in a casino heist a couple days ago. I was going to title it "O.J.'s Eleven."
Unfortunately, there's not much more to the story (Simpson tried to get some stolen sports memorabilia back, and someone called the police), so I guess I'll have to talk about the Patriots stealing signals.
Now, don't get me wrong: New England probably did deserve to be punished by the commissioner for getting caught videotaping New York's defensive staff as it signaled plays in to its players. But a first-round draft pick? Methinks the punishment doesn't fit the crime.
Is this really worse, for instance, than Mike Tice scalping Super Bowl tickets? Or a Detroit assistant coach getting caught naked at a drive-in? It's common knowledge (trust me) that teams look at defensive signals through binoculars, and have been doing so for years. That the Pats took another step, and started taping them, is a clear violation of an NFL edict. But make no mistake: they're not the only people trying to learn their opponents' signals. That's a practice as tried and true as eye black.
So is the fact that they used videotape so heinous that we should have 31 first-round draft picks in the '08 draft, instead of 32? Let me put it this way: There's no way on Earth the commissioner takes away the Patriots' first-rounder if they hadn't had two (one from San Francisco, and their own). But because the Pats did have two, Roger Goodell could "make an example" of them, and show his critics that he's not the butt-boy of Bob Kraft, one of Goodell's biggest supporters on his way to winning the commissioner's job. The world will keep spinning on its axis, but this heavy-handed punishment does not fit the crime.
The NFL is rolling. What were the most painful covers or non-covers of Week 1 for bettors?
Bodog Bookmakers, Newbodog.com: Week 1 was a good week for the bettors, with big wins coming from the Seahawks, Chargers and Steelers. The books won some back with the big Packers win, Carolina's dismantling of the Rams and the Bills keeping it close versus the Broncos. We didn't see any of those last-second covers that will rip your heart out and leave you slumped on the floor.
What team or teams are most likely to bust through its expected win total?
Bodog Bookmakers, Newbodog.com: I don't usually like siding with the so-called experts, but after the Lions put up 35 points on the much-underrated defense of the Oakland Raiders, I'll jump on the bandwagon. Detroit seems destined to win at least seven to cover their predicted win total, and could win as many as nine this season. Meanwhile, it looks like the Vikings have struck gold with Adrian Peterson. If the defense in Minnesota continues to shine, seven wins in a weak NFC shouldn't be out of reach.
What team or teams look like people who backed them to get over their expected win total are in trouble?
Bodog Bookmakers, Newbodog.com: The way the Chiefs played in their first game, eight wins seems out of the question. Their offense is in big trouble. Larry Johnson is a stud, but he's playing behind one of the worst offensive lines in all of football. Combine that with a horrible passing game, and Kansas City could be in the running for a top-five draft pick next spring. Also, I was definitely surprised to see what is considered by many to be the best run defense in the NFL give up the most yards on the ground in franchise history in Week 1 against the Titans. If the Jags are to reach the expected 10 wins, coach Jack Del Rio better hope this game was an anomaly and not a sign of things to come.
What's your favorite match-up for Week 2, and why?
Bodog Bookmakers, Newbodog.com: There are two that I'm going to be watching intently. The first is the Titans-Colts game. Tennessee stunned the champs last year with a last-second 60-yard field goal. The Titans will continue to run the ball behind slasher Chris Brown and the powerful LenDale White, but they'll have a hard time repeating last week's effort versus a revamped and much-improved Indianapolis run defense.
The Colts should win this game, as they, the Patriots and Chargers are the top three teams in the NFL. The other game of the week features New England hosting the San Diego. Everyone should be talking about what could be a preview of the AFC Championship game, but with the revelation that the Pats were caught videotaping the Jets' defensive play calls, all the buzz has been about how Commissioner Goodell punished New England. If the Chargers can capitalize on the Pats' loss of focus, they could steal this game and cement themselves as the premier team in the NFL.