The 2013 NFL season is already past its halfway point, if you don’t count the month-plus of playoffs in 2014. Playoff probabilities are already being bandied about with almost-certainty, as well as who is leading the race for the #1 Draft Pick (also known as “Clownin’ For Clowney”, or “Troubled Over Bridgewater”, depending on who is the best prospect). However, what is barely spoken is that this season already seems to be defined by uncertainty and soul-searching.How fitting, that someone named Incognito (Latin for unknown), would be at the center of the League’s latest, ‘greatest’ scandal, the kangaroo court turned Tropicana Royal Food Court. Dolphins’ owner Stephen Ross comes across as a concerned George Burns in Oh! God, and poor ‘ol OL Richie’s ‘down by the river’ in his mansion, but does anyone want to really deal with this? This is a league still trying to remain in “Speak no evil, hear no evil, see no evil”/”it’s all good” mode while also trying to be utterly PC. With week 10 behind us here are the four big lessons we can glean from this season so far:
1. Knee (jerk) injuries are the new concussions. If you complain about this too much (Aaron Rodgers), you get your collarbone broken. I find myself giving up on being one of those guys that complain that the old “wrap the guy firmly around the upper legs” tackling technique is long forgotten. What’s the point? If you can’t ruin someone’s career, why bother tackling at all? The crowd loves end zone-to-end zone runbacks anyway, and they are getting plenty, a la Arena Football. However, excruciatingly plodding Golems like the Pittsburgh Steelers still seem to hang around, and play on primetime.
2. The Kansas City Chiefs are for real, even if they may not be undefeated after next weekend’s game in Denver against Peyton Manning’s Broncos, and that was just made a little more difficult with Dwayne Bowe’s pot bust.
3. The New Orleans Saints are back from the wilderness. The NFL’s prodigal poster boys returned two years after they were the dirty, savage heretics to be burned at the stake. Defensive coordinator and ‘Dude’ look-alike Rob Ryan may discover himself abiding at Met Life Stadium in February if the sort-of-feel-good plot plays out.
4. The big obstacle in the Saints’ way is Pete Carroll and his Seattle Seahawks. Carroll seems to have finally taken the upper hand in his long-time struggle with Jim Harbaugh, whose 49ers are experiencing a hubris-perfumed combination of injuries, arrests and one-dimensionality, and the Seahawks look ready to catapult back to the Super Bowl for only the second time in their existence, a chance for redemption eight years after their first visit was marred by some of the worst officiating in the championship game, with the Steelers as beneficiaries. An alternative feel-good script? Not one the NFL bigwigs would care to acknowledge. We’ll have to see if they choose to remain ‘incognito’.
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