Just in case any NFL players want to go all Mike Ribeiro on the field of play any longer, the league this week finally decided that it was cracking down on players faking injuries in order to stop the clock. To which we say, great…but what if the guy is injured?
The league has threatened fines and suspensions for any player or team pulling shenanigans, much in thanks to the Giants’ practices the other night. The NHL has done the same, thankfully, with new disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan, warning teams about diving, something that has probably already cut Montreal and Vancouver’s win totals dramatically.
But how can it not be as simple as, you stop the clock, you sit out a series? Seems to make sense, right? Otherwise, this latest Goodell decree seems to be another empty rule. Next week, suspensions for anyone doing the Humpty Dance while within five yards of the gridiron.
On another note, how come we’re not suffering through Dive-Gate, and the Giants aren’t losing a draft pick? Eh, tu, New York?
This week’s prediction roundup:
Peter King, Sports Illustrated: Patriots 33, Bills 27. ” Fabulous game. Fun game. The Bills, as the world knows, have lost 15 straight to the Patriots. The last time they beat New England, 31-0 on opening day 2003 … now that was a memorable day. Lawyer Milloy, dumped by the Pats in a cap move, ended up with Buffalo for the game. Tom Jackson said on ESPN the Patriots hate their coach. And the players were so united in their contempt for Bill Belichick that, after this game, they won 19 of their next 20 games — and the Super Bowl. This time, Ryan Fitzpatrick, who used to watch Tom Brady shred foes from his dorm room at Harvard, will go toe to toe with Brady. This will be anyone’s game in the fourth quarter.”
ESPN.com staff: Patriots across the board.
CBS Sports.com staff: Patriots across the board.
Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: Patriots 34, Bills 20. ” The Bills will have a fighting chance in this game because they are at home and have the offense – Ryan Fitzpatrick, Fred Jackson and an underrated group of receivers- to stick with the Patriots on the scoreboard for a while. But that will only make Bill Belichick continue to call for Tom Brady to step on the pedal and keep throwing the ball all over the field. With tight end Aaron Hernandez (sprained MCL) out, however, don’t be surprised if the Pats go back to a little ground-and-pound with BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead. That should wear down the Buffalo defense and allow New England to pull away.”
Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk.com: Patriots 35, Bills 27. ” The Patriots have beaten the Bills 15 straight times. New England coach Bill Belichick said that the guys who won most of those games will be watching the latest installment of the rivalry on TV. But not Tom Brady. One of the greatest quarterbacks of all time is playing like a guy who thinks he can retire someday as the consensus greatest of all time.”
Gregg Rosenthal, ProFootballTalk.com: Patriots 38, Bills 31. “Raiders-Bills last week felt like an old AFL shootout. Patriots-Bills should be more of the same, except the old AFL Patriots weren’t very good. This New England group, even without Aaron Hernandez, can win shootouts with anyone.”
Greg Cote, Miami Herald: Patriots 34, Bills 27. ” Our Game of the Week runnerup might have taken the crown, except I don’t give the upstart, over-their-heads Bills much shot to win this game. I do give the Buffs a big chance to keep it inside the betting number. This one could turn into a WNBA score, with Tom Brady phenomenal even by his standards and Ryan Fitzpatrick putting up 79 points in two games. English have won a surreal 15 consecutive games over Williams, but this will be the most amped, hopeful home atmosphere in years.”
Peter Schrager, FoxSports.com: Patriots 33, Bills 24. “‘DID YOU KNOW THATRYAN FITZPATRICK WENT TO HARVARD?! DID YOU?! HE WENT TO HARVARD! HARVARD, OF ALL PLACES ? AN IVY LEAGUE SCHOOL. HE’S A FOOTBALL PLAYER AND HE WENT TO HARVARD. YOU’D THINK HE’D BE A DUMB JOCK IDIOT WHO ONLY READS COMIC BOOKS AND EATS SCRAP METAL. BUT GUESS WHAT? RYAN FITZPATRICK WENT TO ? HARVARD!!!!’ That’s pretty much the start of each and every segment, mention or discussion about the Bills starting quarterback. When does that whole thing end? Ever? The Bills have looked great, but as losers of 15 straight and 21 of 22 to New England, I just can’t see the Buffalo defense handling Tom Brady on Sunday. HARVARD! HE WENT TO HARVARD! HOLY MOLY, HARVARD!”
USA Today staff: Patriots across the board.
Yahoo! Sports staff: Two out of three pick the Bills. Yes.
Sam Farmer, Chicago Tribune: Patriots 30, Bills 24. ” Tom Brady gets edge because he has been phenomenal, but this will be closer than expected with Ryan Fitzpatrick facing league’s 31st-ranked pass defense.”
It says here: Patriots 31, Bills 3 .Devin McCourty shines after two rough matchups to start the season.