NFL officiating is broken

The NFL products is on fire. The games have been amazing this year and TV ratings are exploding as fans come back to the stadiums and fans are excited to watch the spectacle on television.

Yet the NFL has a serious problem with officiating. Pass interference and roughing the passer calls in particular are too subjective, and we’re seeing way to many blown calls that impact game results.

Fans of every team have horror stories they can share. Browns fans can point to the obscene pass interference call on fourth down in the 4th quarter that completely changed the Browns-Chargers game.

Pass Interference call against the Browns

This week, we saw Myles Garrett held repeatedly against the Broncos as you can see from this photo posted by Garrett on his Instagram:

Myles Garrett being held vs Broncos 2021

Holding calls have always been a problem, and those are hard to fix. But when it comes to PI and roughing the passer, the NFL desperately needs a sky judge that can call flags and also overturn obviously bad calls.

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Steelers stuff Josh Allen and the Bills

Josh Allen vs Steelers 2021

It’s Overreaction Monday, so we have to be careful of making too much of one game. But I’ve been skeptical about Josh Allen. Of course he’s a very good player, but is really one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL? If you just look at last season, the answer might be “yes.” But is one season enough to come to that conclusion?

After signing a massive contract, Allen got off to a rough start in week one against the Steelers defense. He struggled with accuracy as the Bills lost at home 23-16. Next week he and the Bills get another tough defense as they travel to Miami. Let’s see if Allen’s struggles continue . . .

What’s up with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers?

Aaaron Rodgers vs Saints 2021

The Aaron Rodgers soap opera continues in Green Bay. We know it’s Overreaction Monday, so we’re hesitant to make too much of what we see in week one of the NFL. But Rodgers seems like he’s easing into a mid-life crisis as opposed to getting geared up for an NFL season. After the game, Rodgers pointed out that everyone needs to relax. It’s only one game, even if he and the Packers were just whipped 38-3 by the Saints.

Perhaps this is just what Rodgers needs to snap into shape and get serious about the season. Given his talent and track record it’s hard to bet against him.

Speaking of bets, Rodgers and the Packers get the Lions at home next week on Monday Night Football, which may be just what they need. The Packers are 10.5 point favorites in the early betting lines.

Chiefs find a way to win against Browns in season opener

Patrick Mahomes vs Browns 2021

Two of the best teams in the AFC went head-to-head in the season opener, and for most of the game the Browns were in control. They moved the ball at will against the Chiefs defense and managed to get some stops against the amazing KC offense. The Browns were driving again in the third quarter with the opportunity to take a three-score lead when Nick Chubb fumbled, and then things started to fall apart.
Punter Jamie Gillan muffed a snap and then tried to run when he didn’t have to, setting up a short field for the Chiefs. Along the way Patrick Mahomes made the sort of ridiculous plays that have made him the best player in the NFL.

But apart from the turnovers, everyone know the Browns can play with the Chiefs. Of course all the talking heads will go on and on about Baker Mayfield’s interception on the last drive. And Baker certainly has more to prove. He needs to show he can make things happen late in the game when everyone knows he needs to pass to get a winning score. So the Browns have much more to prove, but the Chiefs won’t be excited to play this team again.

The Browns covered the spread and should have won outright absent the turnovers. Can they take the next step and knock off the Chiefs? Nobody knows at this point. But they have the talent and the coaching staff to pull it off.

Buccaneers survive in opener versus the Cowboys

Tom Brady vs Dallas 2021

The line for this game was bet up to double digits, but we were concerned that the Cowboys could make this a game so we avoided this one. Tampa Bay is the hot pick to get back to the Super Bowl, and Tom Brady seems to be getting better. But Dallas showed up with a pass-heavy game plan and the Buccaneers gave away turnovers. The result was a very close game that the Cowboys could have won.

It’s easy to overreact to the first week of NFL games, and of course we’ll all be tempted to do that here. But here are some impressions after watching this first game:

First, Dak Prescott looked very good last night. He may have lost some zip on some passes as a result of the shoulder injury, but he played like a top-tier quarterback last night. Dallas is dangerous when he’s throwing the ball.

Ezekiel Elliott was mostly a decoy and a pass blocker last night, and of course many are overreacting to this. There’s plenty to criticize with Mike McCarthy, but using a pass-heavy game plan against a very stout run defense makes total sense. And it worked! As the year goes on we’ll see Elliott carrying the ball more. So you might pick him up cheap in a fantasy trade if you have amateurs in your league.

Still, McCarthy does have a reputation of throwing too much, so for the sake of winning games he’ll need to make sure he uses the running game, but Zeke should get enough carries to be a solid RB1 in fantasy.

The bigger issue with McCarthy is game management. He’s in love with field goals, and going for a long field goal late in the game, giving Brady plenty of time to answer, is typical McCarthy.

Naturally, Brady easily marched the Bucs downfield for the winning field goal. He makes it look so easy, and keeps proving that he’s the best to ever play the QB position. Also, Antonio looked like he was in all pro form with a big night. Those of us who scooped him up in late rounds in our fantasy drafts feel pretty good this morning.

Overall, Tampa still looks like a contender, and Dallas showed they have a shot at the playoffs in a week division, even with McCarthy’s flaws. The defense still has real problems, but let’s see if they can do better against weaker competition.

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