Shek List: …And we all lived happily ever after

(Associated Press/US Presswire)

Some assorted thoughts now that our three-week national nightmare is over.  The regular refs are back.  It feels good to know we’ll never have to hear about the officiating in the NFL ever again.  Let’s get to Week Four…

» We almost got a fantastic finish to the game in Baltimore on Thursday night.  It would’ve been terrific irony if the Browns had tied the game because the refs did make a call on a Hail Mary call in the end zone.  (If you missed it, a personal foul on the Ravens extended the game by one play.)  It didn’t happen, of course, because that potentially great finish required the Browns to do something great… and we know that’s a virtual impossibility.

» If my math is correct, the Packers will be 1-3 or the Saints will be 0-4 by Sunday night.

» The Cardinals are a fun story, but let’s not get silly: even if they get to 4-0 with a win against the Dolphins on Sunday, they are most certainly not going to the playoffs. The NFL is a Quarterback League, as you may have heard, and the Cards are starting Kevin Kolb at quarterback.  And in a week to four weeks, they’ll start John Skelton.  And two to five weeks after that, it’ll be Kevin Kolb’s turn again.

» Peyton Manning’s triumphant return in the season’s first Sunday night game seems like a very long time ago.

» Let’s say the Bengals do as I expect and get to 3-1 with a win in Jacksonville on Sunday.  That’d put the Steelers 1 ½ games behind both Cincy & Baltimore less than a month into the season.  Unless Pittsburgh wins three of their four games against those two teams, the playoffs will be a significant uphill fight.

» Allow me to play Devil’s Dameshek to that last statement: even if this isn’t a vintage Steelers team, they’ve still got a reasonable shot at the post-season if only because of the AFC’s mediocre middle class.  Consider: the Texans & Ravens will play for the #1 seed in Houston on Oct. 21; we can expect the Pats will right themselves enough to take the East; the West is its usual mess, but rules require one of its teams get a playoff spot.  After those four, though, who are the candidates for the two wildcards?  The Bills will be 2-2 after New England beats them this weekend.  The Jets are finished without Revis.  I like the Titans, but they’re 1-2.  There won’t be more than one AFC West team with 10 wins.  The Bengals are legit, but 9-7 may be enough for the Steelers to get that six seed.

» The view from my timeshare up on Mt Pious: I found it uncomfortable watching host James Brown on last week’s ‘Inside The NFL’ getting way too chummy with Chad 85.  Hey, James: don’t know if you heard, but the guy is an alleged wife batterer.  Having a backslapping good time with him felt a little out of line.

» Wes Welker’s contract dispute & Gronk’s late-night videos have gotten more attention over the course of 2012, but three weeks into the season, Brandon Lloyd has quietly emerged as Tom Brady’s favorite target.  It shouldn’t come as too big a surprise, given OC Josh McDaniels’ track record of targeting wideouts over tight ends.  Lloyd, who’s catching roughly seven passes a game, will get his first touchdown (and maybe his second) this Sunday against the Bills.

» I still say it was wrong for the Nationals to shut down Stephen Strasburg, but (Washington’s 1a. ace) Gio Gonzalez is good enough to pitch DC through the weak National League.  This leaves me conflicted: on one hand, it’d be nice for DC’s players and fans to cap their fantastic 2012 season with a deep playoff run.  On the other hand, it’d be a shame for the baseball gods to validate GM Mike Rizzo’s cowardly decision to bench his best player.

» Gold Star of David Upset of the Week: Jake Locker’s Titans will beat the Texans in Houston.  I still say they’re the ones who’ll get that sixth seed in the AFC.

» Note from the Uniform Monitor: Please Baltimore, put some stripes on them black pants.  I’ve said it before and I’ll it again: the plain black pants, especially with the black socks, look like jazzercise tights or Capris.  Or both.

» Weird Fantasy Event of the Day: Three of my Week Four fantasy opponents started Baltimore TE Dennis Pitta on Thursday night.  Pitta didn’t catch a pass, so I’ve got nice head start on Sunday.  It’s sad how happy I am to share that news.

» Twenty minutes after I wrote that last paragraph, I looked on Twitter.  Somone had just tweeted me this.  Spooky.

» Dave the Hollywood Insider’s Observation of the Day: Ellen Barkin’s face is beginning to resemble that of the bespectacled Nazi’s as it melts at the end of ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’.

» Good band name of the week: Ellen Barkin’s Face

» Surprise of the Week: diminutive character actor Linda Hunt is still alive.  [EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the fourth time in the 12 years this revelation has won the ‘Surprise of the Week’ Award.]

» This week’s list: Animals That Can’t Be Used As Mascots

  1. Hippos
  2. Rats
  3. Cheetahs (sounds too much like ‘Cheaters’)
  4. Cougars (spoiled by the likes of Ellen Barkin)
  5. Wasps (so loathsome a creature, no one could root for it)
  6. Vultures
  7. Piranhas
  8. Weasels
  9. Crabs
  10. Tapeworms

» One last thing about the replacement refs: The available real estate up on Mt Pious – where society’s most self-righteous reside – grew ever smaller this week thanks to new homeowners Steve Young & Trent Dilfer, who seemed on the verge of tears talking about “the game we love and bled for” while addressing the “disgraceful” officiating. Hey, fellas: next time, let’s save the morbid tones for actual tragedy, k?

Enjoy your football weekend, which I absolutely, positively guarantee will not be marred by a single questionable call.

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