There’s a scene in “The Princess Bride” (one of my favourite movies) where Westley, still as “the man in black,” encounters the giant, Fezzik, who has been ordered to kill him. During the course of their brief encounter, they talk, and at one point they have this exchange:
Fezzik: Why are you wearing a mask? Were you burned by acid or something like that?
Westley: Oh no. It’s just, they’re terribly comfortable. I think everyone will be wearing them in the future.
So far, there have only been a few NFL games with fans in the stands. The opener in KC had at least one fan in attendance who later tested positive for COVID-19, exposing numerous other attendees and stadium workers to the virus. The team and the league are spinning it as a success, saying that their social distancing protocols limited the exposure, and allowed them to determine who exactly was exposed to the infected party.
Thousands of people allowed to gather for a sporting event, reports of numerous violations of social distancing rules, actual DOCUMENTED exposure to an infected patron, and the team and league are walking around puffing out their chests like a bunch of fucking heroes.
This past Thursday in Cleveland, fans were fighting in the stands. Those fights were broken up by stadium security. As I understand it, there will be fans in the stands at more games as the season progresses.
There’s a reason why there have been literally hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S., and that reason is an appalling, arrogant lack of leadership at the highest levels of government. So too has the NFL failed fans by allowing teams to decide whether fans can attend games.
In the absence of leadership, you have to look after yourself. Follow social distancing rules. Don’t attend NFL games.
And wear a mask; it’s what heroes do.
Week Two Picks
Winners in Bold:
Jax at Tennessee
After Jax’s surprise burst of competence in their opener, I doubt that division rival Tennessee will take them lightly. Expect Tannehill to try to spread the ball around in the absence of AJ Brown, and a heavy dose of Henry.
Carolina at Tampa
I expected Tampa’s defence to be good, but even I was surprised at just how good they played against NO’s offence. Even if Tampa’s offence is only so-so, they should be able to take this one, which is good for them, because Brady didn’t look to be nearly as in-sync with his receivers as he needs to be.
Denver at Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh is a bit banged-up on the OL, but without Von Miller, Denver won’t be able to exploit that as much as they normally would.
LAAries at Philly
I’m not as high on Philly as most people seem to be, so them going in the tank against Washington last week didn’t surprise me. LA’s good performance against Dallas did surprise me, however. Aaron Donald looks as dominating as he’s ever been. This could be a close one.
SF at NYJ
With George Kittle Out, a thin receiving corps, and Richard Sherman on IR, San Fran looks like a team that’s primed for an upset. Against Gangrene, though, they’ll probably squeak by.
Buffalo at Miami
Considering the pressure that they’re under to win this season, I was impressed by how easily Buffalo handled NYJ last week. Although there were some sloppy moments, Buffalo’s victory was never in doubt. If they remain focused, Buffalo should handle Miami easily.
Detroit at Green Bay
My two upset specials last week were Arizona and Detroit, so you can imagine how upset I was by Detroit's snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Aaron Rodgers was in mid-season form last week (minus the broken bone), and with Detroit already battling the injury bug on defense, I'll be expecting no upsets here.
Minnesota at Indy
Minnesota has had a lot of turnover in their secondary since last season, and they looked it in Week 1, as Aaron Rodgers had a big day. Phillip Rivers should be able to exploit Minnesota’s defense in much the same way.
Atlanta at Dallas
With injuries to LBs Leighton Vander Esch and Sean Lee straining an already suspect Dallas defense, this one has all the makings of a high-scoring affair.
NYG at Chicago
Despite losing in their opener, there’s good news for Big Blue. Despite facing a relentless Pittsburgh pass rush that stymied Saquon Barkley, Daniel Jones played pretty well, his mistakes coming largely as a result of defensive pressure. Also, New York’s defense looked sharp at times. With both Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn banged-up, I wouldn’t be surprised to see New York’s offence have a much better game as a unit. I’m sure-as-hell not sold on Trubisky, after Detroit did Detroit-y things and handed Chicago a win last week.
Washington at Arizona
Washington looks like they might have themselves a formidable defensive front-seven. If they play as well as they did in Week 1, they’ll be a good challenge to young Kyler Murray.
KC at LABolts
The Bolts narrowly escaped with a win against Cincy in Week 1. KC is a rather large step up in competition.
Baltimore at Houston
Houston got their butts kicked in Week 1, and I suspect they’re in line for another butt-kicking against another better team. I’d say that Houston should fire Bill O’Brien, but I guess the damage is done.
NE at Seattle
The Pats unveiled a rush-heavy attack last week, and they had success. Having Jamal Adams in their secondary gives Seattle more freedom to challenge the Pats’ rushers, so I expect we’ll see Cam Newton trying to pass a bit more this week. Russell Wilson was his typical fantastic self last week, and him battling NE’s secondary will be a key matchup in this one.
NO at LV
NO’s offence got off to a slow start against Tampa last week, and only really got going as a result of Tampa’s turnovers. Drew Brees looks positively ordinary, and he’ll face Vegas without Michael Thomas. This game will be decided by how Derek Carr handles NO’s fearsome pass rush. Carr definitely has enough talent around him to do some damage.
Well, that’s it for Week Two. Thanks for reading. Enjoy your Sunday football. This will most likely be my last football column.