Even with a few games still going on I’ve seen enough of the NFL’s Week 2 offerings to authoritatively make some bold declarations.
But before I get to that, who else is worn out by these crowded pre-game studio shows? I was glad to see ESPN’s announcement this week that Chris “Boomer” Berman and Tommy Jackson are bringing back their gold-standard NFL Primetime (even if I will decline to pay the fee to something called ESPN-Plus to watch it), but this good news also got me to thinking (always a dangerous thing).
First of all, it seems to me that there’s really only room for one Boomer when it comes to pregame and postgame NFL shows. And amidst this rogue’s gallery of NFL talking heads, we already have Boomer Esiason on CBS’ pre-game yuck-it-up-fest.
To further complicate matters, CBS’ NFL Today show also includes a second blond, former-New York quarterback in Phil Simms. This was good fun back in the ’90’s, when both QB’s were leading the Giants and Jets on the field every Sunday and regular guests on the Monday talk radio broadcasts. Today it really just adds redundancy to the chaotic noise and saturation of information we all are forced to wade through in attempting to gear up for our Sunday NFL schedule.
Now the easy solution would be to simply jettison Esiason. After all, Simms is the blond, former-QB with the Super Bowl MVP pedigree and the superior insights, and now with ESPN’s Boomer about to make his triumphant return, you could argue that we are well covered in the Boomer-department. But that would be taking the easy way out.
So what if CBS, in a nod to the old, wildly popular, Superstars Competitions of the 1970’s, were to stage a mano-a-mano, survival of the fittest kind of battle between the two retired stars? I’m envisioning ten minutes or so of each Sunday’s pre-game telecast dedicated to a series of skills competitions. You know, week one could be a race — let’s say a 100-yard dash. Imagine the huffing and puffing as Phil and Boomer waddled the distance! Then the following week they arm wrestle. Or maybe attack an obstacle course?
Week three could be hoops-themed — a three-point shooting competition, or a game of horse, or maybe some make-it-take-it, one-on-one game to 11? To add to the fun, CBS could set it up so that the viewers vote for what the following week’s competition would be by texting the network (or better yet, via the CBS NFL Today app — they must have one, no?), selecting between, for example, ping pong, Home Run Derby or Rock ’em, Sock ’em Robots on Week Four’s show.
Their fellow broadcasters would select who they believe would win that week’s contest (heck, even Bill Cowher might be able to show a little personality under this format), much as they do with that afternoon’s games, and ultimately the overall winner would be invited back for the 2020 NFL season, with the loser banished forever.
I, for one, would absolutely tune in every week. Give it some thought, CBS. Just sayin’…
Other takeaways, game by game, from Week 2:
*I know “that’s why they play the games,” but can anyone of sound mind and body really envision the Jets staying competitive with the Browns tomorrow night? How is this line only 6.5, even if the Jets are at home? If the line was Cleveland by 35, I’d still be hard pressed to go with the Jets. Get well soon, Sam Darnold.
*I’m looking forward to the battle of the birds tonight. No longer under the haze of a Super Bowl hangover this season, the Eagles appear to me to be legitimate championship contenders. I’d like to think the Falcons are better than what we saw last week, and they still have some of the talent that got them within a hair of their own Super Bowl victory only a couple of years ago, but we’ll know more about that after tonight. Eagles giving a point on the road seems like a sucker bet, but I’m taking it. Eagles by a field goal.
*Well, the Bills are undefeated (I’m amazed my Mac didn’t try to auto-correct that sentence). How psyched were they up in Buffalo when the schedules came out and they saw both New York football teams lined up for them in weeks 1 and 2? The only team to actually play their home games in the state of New York now has Big Apple bragging rights. Hope that helps when the Bills go on to lose 11 of their next 14. And just as an aside, am I the only fan that gets the feeling that Saquon Barkley could line up at any position for the Giants — offense, defense or special teams — and be better than whoever is currently in that role for Big Blue? Yes, even kicker.
*I found myself highly entertained by this week’s Thursday night game. Yup, a sign of early season enthusiasm, for sure, but Christian McCaffrey is a lot of fun to watch. I think I’d actually be able to root for the Panthers if Cam Newton didn’t insist on wearing those ludicrous outfits to the postgame pressers. And nice to see Todd Bowles on the Bucs sideline working with Bruce Arians again, even if the former Jets coach does look like he spent his offseason stress-eating while breaking down film.
*The 49ers are also unbeaten, so I guess those tech-rich bandwagon riders will start to bid up the ticket prices in Silicon Valley again. Are the Niners better than last year? Sure they are. Are they the class of the NFC West? Not so fast, it was only the Bengals. Speaking of Cincy, could Andy Dalton win big on a better team? No, I don’t think so either.
*The two games offered on network television this morning in Southern California were Cowboys-Redskins on Fox and Chargers-Lions on CBS. I started with the Dallas game, as I still can’t help getting into the hype when I see the two NFC East titans facing off. Turns out Chargers-Lions was the much better game. However, that doesn’t mean lots couldn’t be learned from both contests:
-The Washington Football Club is truly bad. Again. Couldn’t happen to a more despicable owner. Hi there, Dan Snyder.
-The Cowboys may be really, really strong, but we won’t know for sure until they play a real team. The Dolphins come to Big D next week. Guess we keep waiting.
-Philip Rivers seems to have adopted a shot-put kind of throwing motion. Uh oh.
-The Lions are once again terrible, but are also unbeaten tonight courtesy of the Chargers’ lack of a kicking game.
*Do the Packers have a defense this year? Sure looks like it. Or maybe Kirk Cousins just sucks. Starting to feel that way, right?
*The AFC South is setting up as a rugby scrum once again this year. That being said, I’ll be rooting for Jacoby Brissett and Indy every week. And I’m really glad Adam Vinatieri’s sudden deterioration didn’t cost the Colts the game. Afraid the legendary kicker’s end is near, though. And the Titans? I guess they forgot they had to play another game this week while they were so busy admonishing us all for overlooking them after the Cleveland blowout last Sunday.
*The Patriots only won 43-0 in Miami this week? Imagine how close it would have been if they hadn’t signed Antonio Brown…is it too early to start up the whole “could the Dolphins beat Clemson” dialogue?
*The Seahawks are another team that’s sitting undefeated, yet we don’t have a clue as to whether they are any good. Yes, they went into Pittsburgh and won a close one. Most years that would be a terrific barometer. Most years. Anybody else feeling double-digit losses steamrolling toward western PA?
*The Ravens? With wins over the Dolphins and now the Cardinals, this undefeated record has a definite Buffalo Bills feel to it. Wake up call heading their way when they head to K.C. next Sunday. And the Cards? Arizona fans should be thanking their lucky stars for last week’s gift-wrapped tie courtesy of the hapless Lions. Maybe the only thing that saves them from 0-16.
*Houston needed help from the officials to avoid falling to 0-2 at home against the Jags. The Texans remain my pick to come out of the NFC South, but man that was close. I love J’ville going for the win at the end, and I wish Leonard Fournette could have punched it in. Guessing that rookie sixth-rounder with the bad porn-stache will lose some of his popularity down south as these losses keep piling up. I can’t imagine what shade of red Tom Coughlin’s face morphed to when that two-pointer came up short.
*We were ready to declare today’s Bears-Broncos matchup as the most snooze-worthy of the weekend. Then they played the final minute of the game and everything changed. Bears kicker plays the hero? Really? Good for him, but Mitch Trubisky, Bears fans? Bring back Bob Avellini, quick. And on the topic of QB’s, did Joe Flacco really win a Super Bowl once? He did? Huh…
*I was super excited when the Raiders jumped out 10-0 on the Chiefs in Oakland this afternoon. Too bad there’s no “four-corners” stall for the NFL. Still, progress and hope for the Silver and Black is good for the NFL. However, I can’t help wondering if Pat Mahomes’ joining Aaron Rodgers on that State Farm commercial somehow diminishes his superpowers.
*Sure, injuries are part of the game, but what a letdown for those of us looking forward to a competitive Rams-Saints game this afternoon. When New Orleans signed Teddy Bridgewater as their backup QB last year I thought it was a brilliant move. Not feeling so brilliant right about now. Maybe the Rams are really good again?
Still so many questions to get answered. Week 3 can’t get here soon enough.