This week in advance of his second return game in Baltimore, Ed Reed, among other members of the Jets defense, was sporting a shirt with a bounty poster offering $20,000 for a turnover of any sort. Oh noes, TurnoverBountyGate! Because anything that suggests money is changing hands between football players due to something happening on the field will elicit questions, Reed has already denied that he plans to collect on his winnings even if he comes away with a pick or a fumble against his former team. That’s too bad. I was hoping for baseless speculation that he and Joe Flacco are in cahoots if he gets one.
At any rate, the season-long pattern of the Jets alternating between wins and losses dictates that today is a victory for Gang Green. Tough luck, Baltimore. Sometimes it’s just the luck of the draw.
The Dolphins are the only team the Panthers have never defeated, which sounds impressive until you realize they’ve only played four times ever. So that marginal historical nugget is on the line today. You know, that and Carolina keeping pace with the Saints in the NFC South and potentially getting a first-round bye in the playoffs.
Elsewhere, the three teams tripping over each other trying to win the NFC North are in action. The Bears eked out a key win at home over the Ravens last week, but now play four of their five games on the road. If the Lions can lose to the Steelers, they’re more than capable of dropping one to the suddenly competent Buccaneers at home. This all means despite losing Aaron Rodgers for a month, the Packers very well might still win the division.
Your early game slate, as rated by KSK’s not-at-all subjective, rigorously scientificated five-star system:
New York Jets at Baltimore ***
Pittsburgh at Cleveland **
Tampa Bay at Detroit **
Minnesota at Green Bay *
Jacksonville at Houston *
San Diego at Kansas City **
Carolina at Miami ***
Chicago at St. Louis ***