If You Need A Fix…

(Highlight found at Sports on My Mind.)

….the NFL might be the one you call on, your candyman, the one who gives you more and more, if you’re Vegas. A 3.5 point spread in the Steelers’ favor, a last second touchdown on desperation laterals. 17-10 or 18-10, until the replay booth upstairs decided that the first lateral by LaDainian Tomlinson was a forward pass — which I have looked about a dozen times now and still don’t know where the hell that call came from.  The official admitted the overturning of the call was botched, but it still doesn’t hold water.

You know this is whipping up a storm at NFL offices, because they’re sending emails about the rules to people like me, who don’t mean squat in the grand scheme. Here is part of the explanation:

There were three passes on the play. The first was a completed forward pass from San Diego’s Philip Rivers to LaDainian Tomlinson. The second, from Tomlinson to Chris Chambers, was initially ruled a legal backward pass but then reversed in replay to an illegal forward pass. The third, from Chambers, was a legal backward pass that hit the ground and was returned for the touchdown by Pittsburgh’s Polamalu.

The incorrect reversal of the on-field ruling of touchdown was acknowledged immediately following the game by referee Scott Green in the pool report interview with a representative of the media.

If any forward pass, legal or illegal, hits the ground, the play is dead immediately. The officiating crew mistakenly determined that the backward pass that Polamalu legally recovered and returned for the touchdown was the pass that was reversed in replay to being forward and illegal. Therefore, the crew ruled that the ball was dead when it hit the ground and the play was over. (The actual illegal forward pass Tomlinson to Chambers did not hit the ground and therefore the play is allowed to continue.)

If the situation had been handled properly, the defense (Pittsburgh) would have declined the penalty for an illegal forward pass from Tomlinson to Chambers and taken the touchdown.

So, a call is handled correctly by Jeff Triplette and his usually unconscionably bad officiating crew (13 penalties on the Steelers to one for the Chargers, including a complete BS pass interference call on Ike Taylor that should have been called on Vincent Jackson), yet it’s overruled by the replay booth incorrectly; as they don’t even have rule books on hand, apparently.

That was a $64 million dollar swing to Vegas right there on a bizarre play. You’ll have to excuse me if I think that there wasn’t some minor consideration of that. With that in mind, when do the big sports orgs loosen up and, y’know, actually acknowledge that people gamble on sports?  It’s kind of childish and pie-in-the-sky not to, plus, in the case of sports leagues, they can sweep accusations under the rug becuase the people that cover them won’t bother with discussing it. It’s the same “speak no evil” policy that gave the NBA Tim Donaghy.

Again, we don’t have conclusive proof of a fix being in, but this is very, very suspect.

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A Fool And His Money, Back Once Again

With the NFL kicking off, it’s time for another fruitless season of picking with the spread in mind — and losing about $20-$50 or more a week while doing so. I will still pick the Broncos’ games, even though it’s tempting bad luck. Home teams in caps.

(Yes, I’ll bet on Eli. Hell, he lands a pretty wife, wins the Super Bowl, deserves a chance with my wallet.)

GIANTS (-3.5) over Redskins – Growing pains for the Zorn Star’s new offense on the road to open the season.

49ERS (+2.5) over Cardinals – When it comes to NFC Worst games not involving the Seahawks, bet the home team. There is not enough of a difference between Arizona and San Francisco to believe a favorite will cover.

BILLS (+1) over Seahawks – I’ve been burned too many times on Seattle traveling east of St. Louis to play a game. It never works.

Bengals (-1) over RAVENS – Rookie QB from I-AA school starting for Baltimore. Pass

Cowboys (-5.5) over BROWNS – I see a shootout along the lines of the Browns’ game with the Bengals last year. Lots of points, Dallas wins by a touchdown.

Lions (-3) over FALCONS – See Bengals over Ravens, except this rookie QB is from the ACC.

Bears (+9.5) over COLTS – Not to win, mind you, just to cover. I suspect some fits and starts with Indy thanks to offensive line injuries, and that Kyle Orton will not suck as much as we expect.

Jaguars (-3) over TITANS – I want to see Tennessee produce points before I decide to favor them again this year.

PATRIOTS (-16.5) over Chiefs – Trade away your best pass rusher and you’ve still got Brodie Croyle as your QB. Interesting way to go if you’re Carl Petersen.

SAINTS (-3) over Buccaneers – Always home team on this one.

DOLPHINS (+3) over Jets – Chad Pennington’s Vengeance Tour begins with the Fins smacking Favraro around a bit.

EAGLES (-7.5) over Rams – Team from the best division in football (or at least the NFC) against the barrel-scrapers in the league’s worst division. Easy call.

Texans (+6.5) over STEELERS – Pitt wins by 3 or 4 points, not a full TD. Low scoring game thanks to defense on both sides.

CHARGERS (-9) over Panthers – No Steve Smith, no offense, no chance. Sorry.

Broncos (-3) over RAIDERS – Our lack of a defensive presence against Oakland’s lack of a real O-line. This will be ugly; bet on the more talented and experienced QB.

PACKERS (-2.5) over Vikings – Remember, Tavaris Jackson is the QB and this is a road game. The frozen tundra isn’t frozen yet and isn’t what it used to be, but Green Bay has a better aggregate of offensive talent, Adrian Peterson notwithstanding.