BOSTON -- I want you to partake in a little exercise for me. It requires maybe 10 seconds of your focus.
I want you to think long and hard about all of the NFL football you've watched in your life. Throw in your collegiate viewing, too -- why not? Try to wrap your head around how many games you've watched, how many hours you've spent staring at the screen watching the fellas try to matriculate the ball up the field.
It's a lot, I know. It's an amount of time that's kind of impossible to fathom, in a lot of ways. It'd be like estimating how many individual eggs are sitting in cartons on grocery store shelves around the country. Could you even accurately guess that number within 10 million?!
OK, leaving the egg conundrum aside (I would like to hear your estimates, though), when you think about all of that football you've consumed ... can you think of one single time that a sideline reporter's halftime report has significantly impacted your viewing experience?
For me at least, my thoughts went immediately to Sergio Dipp, who is -- of course -- an absolute legend. No other sideline reporter has ever informed me that a head coach was having the time of his life. That was a moment that altered television history, no doubt. But that wasn't a halftime report.
When it comes to that early-third-quarter update, the sideline reporter generally tells us what we already assume to be the case. The head coach of the trailing team wants his players to execute better. They need to be better on third down. They have to get off the field on defense. Then it goes back to the booth. It's kind of a waste of time, but it's a harmless 15-second part of a three-plus-hour broadcast.
So when Charissa Thompson said that she outright made up these coachspeak moments when coaches haven't given her the time of day, the world probably didn't need to react as if the very fabric of our society was crumbling beneath us.
While I will say that reporters probably shouldn't make stuff up and instead just pass along that Coach So And So was too grumpy to talk, some of the outrage that's been pumped out over the past 24 hours or so has been ... well, insane.
We're really disgusted that Thompson might have said "Coach McCarthy wants his team to be better in the run game"?
Are we really sickened that she might have said "Coach Belichick isn't happy that his team gave up a touchdown before halftime?"
And those are just two of so, so many responses from media members, all of whom have seemingly mistaken 15-second "interviews" with important, hard journalism.
Again, I get it. It's wrong to make stuff up. And the cavalier attitude Thompson had when sharing this tidbit with "Pardon My Take" didn't paint her in a great light. I don't think anybody supports her making stories up. I certainly don't condone it and I think she was wrong to do it. A public reprimand was well-earned.
It's just, as is with just about anything these days, the response has gone overboard, to the point where the offending party comes off almost looking better than the critics.
All I know is this: Charissa Thompson invented some boilerplate comments from coaches during her previous life as a sideline reporter.
And I hope this: I sincerely hope everyone is going to be OK.
Let's pick the games now.
(Home team in CAPS; Friday lines)
TNF: Cincinnati +4 over BALTIMORE
I picked the Bengals. I demand a recount though. If the Bengals hid Joe Burrow's injury, I demand that the
loser team employee who scoffed at the Patriots staffer in the press box a few years ago heads to prison. And I demand a redo on my pick. It's a fair deal.
Pittsburgh (+1.5) over CLEVELAND
It's a bold choice, making the Browns a favorite when they're starting a rookie who threw three picks in his only other start.
"I know what to expect now," Dorian Thompson-Robinson said this week. "I'm not stepping out there for the first time -- not going out there wide-eyed anymore."
And hey, I'm rooting for him. Love to see success stories. Why not, right?
I just ... I harbor some doubts.
HOUSTON (-5.5) over Arizona
The Texans might be the story of the year. Nobody gave them a chance to even be remotely interesting, yet there they are, occupying a playoff spot ahead of teams that entered the year with higher expectations like the Bengals, Bills and Chargers. Can they hold onto that spot with a rookie head coach and a rookie quarterback as the season goes deeper? I don't know! But I love their chances to take care of business at home against the 2-8 Cardinals.
Los Angeles Chargers (-3) over GREEN BAY
Not to overstate things, but this game is a CRISIS. Neither team has beaten a good team yet. (The Chargers beat the Vikings back when they were still bad.) The Chargers are 4-5. The Packers are 3-6. L.A. is 3-5-1 against the spread. Green Bay is 4-5 against the spread. The Packers are 2-2 at home. The Chargers are 2-3 on the road. The Packers have a decent defense and a subpar offense. The Chargers have the opposite.
What do you go on here? Honestly?
WASHINGTON (-9) over New York Giants
The Giants were 16.5-point underdogs last weekend. They came within 15.5 points of covering. So close.
Tennessee (+7) over JACKSONVILLE
The Titans stink. But so do the Jaguars, you know? It's a bit of a sneakier stench, which led to this line being so large. I think that's an opportunity to take the equally stinky team getting a free touchdown. This has been my expert analysis.
DETROIT (-7.5) over Chicago
This line should be double digits. Love to get a little break in the action with a layup like this one.
MIAMI (-13.5) over Las Vegas
It's a scary number, no doubt. But when the Dolphins win, they win. Their last win came over the Patriots, by 14 points. Before that, they beat the Panthers by 21 points. Before that, 15-point victory over the Giants, with the absurd 50-point win over the Broncos coming before that. Now the Dolphins are coming off their bye week, and Antonio Pierce has to coach against a real NFL team for the first time (the Giants and Jets don't count, sorry).
I never love a two-touchdown spread against a .500 team. But I don't really hate this one.
Dallas (-10.5) over CAROLINA
The Cowboys have had no trouble dispatching bad teams this year. But can they cover double-digit spreads in consecutive weeks? You have to worry about teamwide focus when facing terrible opponents in back-to-back games.
It's a consideration ... but not a deal-breaker. The Panthers are bad enough to assuage those concerns.
Tampa Bay (+12) over SAN FRANCISCO
You can't take every double-digit spread. And while the Niners are the superior team, this line is disrespectful to the PLUCKY Buccaneers. Did they lose four straight games before beating Tennessee last week? Yes, they did. But the last three of those losses came by an average of 3.7 points. That's plucky!
Seattle (-1) over LOS ANGELES RAMS
The 3-6 Rams aren't sweeping the season series with the Seahawks. It's that simple, folks!
BUFFALO (-7) over New York Jets
What would the Jets' record be if Aaron Rodgers didn't get hurt? They're 4-5 without him. I'd give them wins over the Raiders, Patriots, and Chiefs if Rodgers played even close to his normal level. What a bummer.
Anyways, Aaron Rodgers isn't playing in this game. So even with the turmoil of the Bills firing Ken Dorsey and replacing him with Joe Brady (whose offenses STUNK in Carolina), Buffalo should be able to win this one without too much trouble. Honestly, every time Robert Saleh comes out and publicly defends Zach Wilson, it becomes more difficult to imagine that locker room sticking together. That kid is brutal.
DENVER (-2) over Minnesota
I don't often get sincere here. Being a sarcastic dink usually works a lot better. But sincerely, I'm impressed that Sean Payton was able to stabilize the Broncos after the dreadful 0-3 start, which included the 70-20 loss in Miami. I thought this thing was headed for the toilet. A 10-point loss to the Jets two weeks after that to fall to 1-4, followed by an automatic loss in Kansas City to drop to 1-5, and I was fully out on this Broncos season.
I don't think they're going to get things turned all the way around and make the playoffs ... but most of their remaining games are winnable. Especially this one.
Philadelphia (+2.5) over KANSAS CITY
The Philadelphia Eagles GETTING points? In this economy. Thank you very much!
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