Weakly Football Forecast, Week Three: Empty Stadiums, to Be or Not to Be?

Gene ChamberlainCorrespondent ISeptember 25, 2009

FORT COLLINS, CO - NOVEMBER 01:  A lone fan takes his seat as the Brigham Young Cougars and the Colorado State Rams take the field to warm up prior to the game at Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium on November 1, 2008 in Fort Collins, Colorado. BYU defeated CSU 45-42.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

The Bard would have loved the past week in the NFL.

True to Hamlet, it was a case of "to thine own self be true" throughout the league.

Of course Chad Ochocinco would stage his Lambeau Leap by purchasing tickets for friendly Bengals fans in order to have a place to land.

Why should he do any type of end zone celebration that wasn't rehearsed, planned or staged in some way? He never has.

And Brett Favre complained about Eric Mangini and the Jets being fined by the NFL for not giving out the whole truth about his injury last year.

What else was Favre supposed to say? When has he ever been against keeping people in the dark? 

But the true Nick Bottoms in a donkey head this week were NFL officials, and in particular, senior vice president for broadcasting and media operations Howard Katz.

The NFL could have a record number of local TV blackouts this season due to the lack of sellouts resulting from the recession. Games must be sold out 72 hours in advance to get the home team on local TV.

No one really has had to worry about this much since the 1970's, but Jacksonville and a few others face seasons when they'll only get to see their team in road games.

The NFL waived the blackout policy in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina because the Saints couldn't really be expected to sell out games in Baton Rouge.

Now it only seems fair if the NFL lifts the blackout in other towns that might not sell out games, right?

“To the person who lost his or her job in Detroit, this (recession) is every bit as difficult a situation to deal with as Katrina might have been in New Orleans,” Katz said.

However, Katz then went on to explain the NFL really needs this blackout rule.

He conveniently ignored the best answer to the problem, which would be to admit to a changing market place due to the economy and accept far, far less for the tickets.

Ah, but filling stadiums isn't really what it's about—TV revenue is.

Katz certainly used the wrong city to make his point.

He should realize the NFL would be doing Detroit the greatest favor ever by blacking out Lions home games. In fact, they could really be humanitarians by blacking out all Lions road games.

At least give the league and Katz credit for consistency. At a time when white collar money-grubbers have taken a beating throughout Wall Street and Washington, the cash cow NFL continues to champion the cause.

As the Bard might say, "To cash in big or merely cash in, that is the question."

On another front, if this pro football picks/betting line column continues on its current course, neither a borrower nor a lender will be paying attention to it.

An 8-8 week straight up made my record 20-12 straight up on the year.  However, a second straight 5-11 mark picking against the spread dragged my record down into a 10-22 cesspool and had to put me in line for some sort of government handout.

Maybe Bleacher Report should black out my picks.

This week's guesses:

Ravens by 13 over Browns

Perhaps Browns coach and former Jets coach Eric Mangini can find a way to cover up the final score of this one. This used to be a grudge match because the Ravens were the Browns until Baltimore stole them. Now Cleveland fans wish Baltimore could also steal these Browns. The pick: Ravens 19, Browns 7.

Giants by 7 at Bucs

With Mario Manningham, Domenik Hixon, and Steve Smith the Giants appear set for the future at wide receiver as long as no one shoots themselves in the foot. The pick: Giants 24, Bucs 23.

Packers by 6 1/2 at Rams

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is a prime candidate for an Aflac policy after getting sacked 10 times in two games.  But you can't get sacked when you don't have the ball. Running back Ryan Grant gets rolling against a defense giving up 146 yards a game on the ground. The pick: Packers 24, Rams 20.

Eagles by 9 1/2 over Chiefs

It's Kevin Kolb again at QB this week for the Eagles, but after five interceptions and only two TD passes he's heading for coach Andy Reid's doghouse. And now he'll have newly activated QB Michael Vick nipping at his heels. The pick: Eagles 23, Chiefs 9.

Patriots by 4 over Falcons

Somewhere, Bill Belichick was smiling when he saw the Jets organization got fined for lying last year about Brett Favre's injury. Belichick remains the master at telling nothing about injuries and getting away with it, and to see his old antagonists get slapped for a cover-up had to be amusing. Smiles will fade Sunday. The pick: Falcons 24, Patriots 21.

Vikings by 7 over 49ers

A true test for Brett Favre. The 49ers defense will come with pressure and Favre can't possibly react like a QB who knows the offense well. However, he will know enough to hand it to Adrian Peterson. The pick: Vikings 20, 49ers 16.

Texans by 3 1/2 over Jaguars

Jaguars feel faint after seeing a stadium crowd larger than 30,000. The pick: Texans 27, Jaguars 20.

Redskins by 6 1/2 over Lions

The Lions are making progress. First they lost by 18, then by 14. They're not four points better again this week playing in the house that Jack Kent Cooke built and Daniel Snyder charges media members $75 per person per game for internet (really). The pick: Redskins 21, Lions 10.

Jets by 2 1/2 over Titans

Jets LB Bart Scott, a former Raven, said new coach Rex Ryan was really the head coach of the Baltimore team that made the AFC title last year and not John Harbaugh. Whatever. By any other name, Scott will be getting beat this Sunday by the team Harbaugh coaches. The pick: Ravens 24, Jets 20.

Saints by 6 over Bills

T.O. might be the biggest bunch of hot air to blow into New Orleans since Katrina, but he'll be quietly dispatched much like the Eagles and Lions were by the Saints. The pick: Saints 31, Bills 21.

Bears by 2 1/2 at Seahawks

T.J. Houshmandzadah is showing he might have played alongside Chad Ochocinco a bit too long in Cincinnati and inherited some bad traits, because it's never good to brag about how you are going to torch opposing cornerbacks when you're going to have a backup QB with a weak arm throwing you passes.  The pick: Bears 20, Seahawks 16.

Steelers by 4 at Bengals

Cincinnati tailback Cedric Benson is a runaway train these days. So consider the Steelers' defense a break in the train tracks. The pick: Steelers 23, Bengals 14.

Broncos by 1 1/2 at Raiders

Kyle Orton is the master of ugly victories, and there isn't a much uglier matchup than Raiders-Broncos. The pick: Broncos 19, Raiders 13.

Chargers by 6 over Dolphins

The beat-up, injury-plagued Chargers need a game against the physical, wildcat-running Dolphins like TV needs another reality show. But the hits just keep on coming, and they will Sunday, too. The pick: Chargers 17, Dolphins 14.

Cardinals by 2 1/2 over Colts

It used to be that Peyton Manning went into games easily armed with the best receiving corps. Kurt Warner has it this week. But he also has to face a Colts defense that can't stop the run but still remembers how to play cover-2. The pick: Colts 23, Cardinals 20.

Cowboys by 9 over Panthers

There hasn't been a matchup of QB's this turnover prone since Rex Grossman and the Bears played Joey Harrington and the Lions. Usually Tony Romo is getting yelled at by T.O., but this week T.D. (Tony Dorsett) was criticizing him. But at least Romo isn't Jake Delhomme. The pick: Cowboys 26, Panthers 20.




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