BOSTON (CBS) -- When did everybody in the NFL turn into such big babies?
I mean it. The NFL used to be the epicenter of toughness, a league where excuses had no place, where men battled men, and where games were won and lost between the white lines -- fair and square.
Nowadays? Now a team can't lose without crying about something. It's embarrassing.
Obviously here in New England, the spotlight on such activity shines a bit brighter. But consider the recent history of just the local team.
Head coach John Harbaugh got pantsed on national TV in January when Bill Belichick tapped into some creative formations which had previously been used by the Tennessee Titans and the Alabama Crimson Tide. The creative formation allowed the Patriots to gain 41 yards on three different plays. Harbaugh was so perplexed that he ran onto the field in a fit of rage, drawing a penalty but stopping the game so that his defense could take a moment to adjust.
After the game, Harbaugh was very calm and composed, but his comments represent that of an embarrassed man who decided to whine and make excuses rather than tip his cap to a better-coached football team. The Ravens also put in a call to Indy about air pressure in footballs that week, to put a cherry on top of their sour sundae.
Harbaugh's complaints got the NFL to change a rule. And then this past week, Harbaugh used a nearly identical tactic to score a touchdown. Against Oakland. In Week 2. In a game which the Ravens lost. Again, in Oakland.
The Colts hate the Patriots, and acting on a tip from the Ravens, they instigated DeflateGate. Need I say more?
What still makes little sense to me about the Colts' complaints is this: They became suspicious of the Patriots' ball inflation (or deflation) practices during a Week 11 game in Indy. That's interesting because Jim McNally doesn't work in Indy and it would have been a Colts employee handling those game balls. Despite this shaky source of suspicion, the NFL deemed the case worthy of a months-long, multi-million dollar investigation. And nobody seems to bat an eyelash at it.
Anyway. The Colts fought long ago to change the rules when the Patriots played football too rough for their liking. And then they launched eight months of nonsense after a game which they lost 45-7.
Head coach Mike Tomlin complained about headset communication issues after a game where his kicker missed two chip shots, where offensive coordinator Todd Haley murdered a Pittsburgh drive by calling an idiotic trick play, where Darrius Heyward-Bey put himself out of bounds while wide open in the end zone, and where the Steelers defense occasionally chose to not cover Rob Gronkowski.
Tomlin went so far as to say such issues "always" happen when playing in Foxboro.
It was a sad sight to see. Not exactly as sad as Tomlin hopping onto the field to assist on a tackle, but sad nevertheless.
The Bills lost their Super Bowl last Sunday, and after the 40-32 Patriots win, head coach Rex Ryan still wanted to show some random disdain for running back Dion Lewis.
"I still don't know his name," the coach barked. "Next time run the ball. Next!"
Come on now, Rextopher. The little guy just averaged 5.7 yards per carry, he trucked your best cornerback on the goal line, and he caught six passes out of the backfield for 98 yards. You had no answer for him. Yet you can't admit to knowing his name?
You get the point. And this is only looking at four of the Patriots' last five opponents. You can see why this is getting taxing.
Even the Patriots aren't immune to the culture. When Pro Football Talk wrote on Monday that Buffalo perhaps broke NFL rules by playing stadium noises during the Patriots' no-huddle offense, you had to wonder where the source for such a complaint might have originated. It's possible that it came straight from the brain of Mike Florio, or it's more likely that he got a call from someone at 1 Patriot Place.
Gamesmanship, sneaky tricks and gaining edges by any means necessary have always been integral parts of football culture. But never before have so many people whined about it.
With all of the crying going on these days, and with so many massive corporations spending millions of dollars advertising with the NFL, perhaps the folks from Luvs and Huggies ought to duke it out to become the Official Diaper of the NFL. Lots of folks in that league could use some.
After a 7-9 week, maybe my picks column needs a package of Pampers before embarking on Week 3. Let's waste no more time, you bunch of crybabies.
(Home team in CAPS; Wednesday lines)
Washington (+3.5) over NEW YORK GIANTS
When the Redskins and Giants have just three days to prepare to play, we all lose. We really do.
I think the Giants will win 2-0. And we'll all get sick from watching. (But we'll all tune in again next week!)
CLEVELAND (-3.5) over Oakland
I've already flip-flopped once on the Raiders, but I'm going to need to see Jack Del Rio go on the road and actually do something before I flip-flop back onto the bandwagon. I'm not very optimistic that Mr. Del Rio can do that.
Ridiculous Quote From Last Week's Picks: "Losing by three touchdowns to the Jets is a surefire way to let me know that I should stay as far away from you as I possibly can."
Note: I didn't know John Football still lived! Well, at least he lived for one glorious week. My bad!
Atlanta (-2) over DALLAS
You have to pick the Falcons here, even though doing so automatically means you think they'll start the year 3-0. But with Tony Romo and Dez Bryant out, it's really perfect if you think about it. The Falcons will win, analysts will start saying, "Look out for the Falcons," they'll earn themselves a playoff berth, and then we'll see "Matty Ice" melt again in January.
Indianapolis (-3.5) over TENNESSEE
Now that the Colts have shown how badly they stink, but will still win their division, can we talk about how much the Colts have benefited from being in that division since 2002? The Patriots always get criticized for playing in a weak division, and that claim has been varying levels of true over the years. But Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck have basically gotten free passes to the playoffs every single year since realignment and yet it's rarely if ever mentioned.
Record since 2002: 86-124
Winning seasons: 3 in 13 years
Playoff wins: 1
Record since 2002: 102-108
Winning seasons: 5 in 13 years
Playoff wins: 2
Record since 2002: 88-122
Winning seasons: 3 in 13 years
Playoff wins: 2
The AFC South is the worst. Nobody talks about this. Ever.
Pittsburgh (-1) over ST. LOUIS
The Steelers went for two points after their first two touchdowns last week. They were successful, but unless you have a truly terrible kicker, I don't see how this strategy makes more sense than it did for the past 21 years. The ball is still on the 2-yard line. You never used to go for it unless you really needed it. Now you're going to go for it more often?
Seems like a fleeting fad, perhaps employed by Mike Tomlin to send a message to his kicker after an awful Week 1 showing. (Though Rex Ryan may need a few years to figure it out.)
San Diego (+2.5) over MINNESOTA
Another half-point might make me feel better, but the Chargers have an offense that should keep them competitive on a weekly basis.
Plus, you never pick a team that's locked in a nasty contract dispute with its mascot. Too much bad juju there.
NEW ENGLAND (-14) over Jacksonville
Lots of people in these parts saying this year's team is better than the 2007 Patriots.
Lots of people in these parts with short memories.
Lots more people will be joining the chorus by 4 p.m. on Sunday, though.
NEW YORK JETS (-2.5) over Philadelphia
The Jets have looked startlingly competent thus far on the season. Startlingly competent!
RQFLWP: "DeMarco Murray is going to run for four hundred yards."
Note: DeMarco Murray ran for 2 yards.
CAROLINA (-3) over New Orleans
The Saints were bad with Drew Brees. I don't think I'd very much enjoy watching them without Drew Brees.
Though, even if Luke McCown goes 11-for-30 with three picks and no touchdowns, it will only be the second-most annoying thing he does on TV this Sunday.
BALTIMORE (-2.5) over Cincinnati
Are the Ravens going to start 0-3? No.
Are the Bengals going to start 3-0? No.
Tampa Bay (+6.5) over HOUSTON
No thank you, with this line. No thank you!
RQFLWP: "And a very loud Superdome should present some difficulties for a rookie quarterback coming off an awful NFL debut."
Note: Jameis wasn't terrible. Baby steps, I suppose?
ARIZONA (-6.5) over San Francisco
I've racked my brain trying to think of one reason to believe San Francisco can keep this game close. Outside of this badass picture of Jim Tomsula peacocking around in a track suit, I'm coming up blank.
That's a pretty sweet picture, though.
Buffalo (+2.5) over MIAMI
There is simply no recovering from taking an L in Jacksonville. That type of devastation takes months to really overcome.
SEATTLE (-14.5) over Chicago
The Seahawks stink now, which is funny, but they're still going to win this game 24-0. That really says all you need to know about the Chicago Bears.
Jimmy Clausen, by the way, is a career 53.2 percent passer. He's thrown 11 interceptions and just five touchdowns. I'm sure he'll have no problem running an offense at the home opener of the loudest stadium in the league. Sounds like a piece of cake.
Denver (-3) over DETROIT
I was really looking forward to seeing a surging defense go up against Dan Orlovsky? I really was. Even still, Matthew Stafford and his bruised ribs can't be too excited to have to deal with DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller.
Peyton Manning should probably try to throw lefty, though. Just in case, you know? Might be better.
RQFLWP: "Just four days after taking that relative beating, [Manning] has to face a Chiefs defense that racked up five sacks against Houston on Sunday. Good luck with that, Mr. Manning."
Note: So he ended up throwing three touchdowns but not after the Internet mercilessly mocked him for having zero arm strength all night. So ... there was that.
GREEN BAY (-7) over Kansas City
Now and forever, forever and always, Alex Smith stinks.
Last week: 7-9
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