Fix the sack rule, NOW!

Steve Brownlee

I understand when the NFL develops rules that have unintended consequences.

But what I fail to get is why it takes them five years to fix them.

The rules defining what a catch were debated, argued and criticized for multiple seasons until the league finally addressed it this past off-season. Even if the fix wasn’t perfect, most of us could appreciate the effort to improve it.

Now we’re dealing with how to tiptoe around tackling a quarterback whether for a sack or a hit on the passer just before or after he releases the ball.

Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews has been in the middle of this, being called three weeks in a row for what became more and more ticky-tack calls.

Even though I’m a Detroit Lions fan, I was surprised that on a couple of the strip fumbles of Packers QB Aaron Rodgers last weekend the Lion defender wasn’t called for unnecessary roughness (maybe they should call it barely necessary rough-housing).

On one of the fumbles, I swear I saw the Lions tackler (they never talked about who it was in the national network highlights) drop his whole body directly on top of Rodgers, currently a no-no.

If you figure it out, don’t drop me a line — send your info either to ESPN, Fox, CBS, or better yet, the NFL league office, so they can explain it to all of us.

Now onto the picks, which are often inexplicable too:

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Today, 8:20 p.m.

Philadelphia at New York Giants — Here’s just the tonic Philly needs to get over its Super Bowl hangover — an NFC East opponent. It should get their attention, plus everyone in the division should be a relative pushover. Eagles, 31-23.

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Sunday, 1 p.m.

Seattle vs. Oakland, at London — They’re bringing two West Coast teams all the way across North America, all the way across the Atlantic Ocean, just to play in London. This would be like having New England play the Buffalo Bills in Moscow, travel miles-wise. Anyway, without the Raiders having a pass rush, I see Seattle getting its offense untracked. Seahawks, 29-20.

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Chicago at Miami — Might be sticky and steamy in south Florida, but Chicago is coming off a bye week. Bears, 23-17.

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Indianapolis at New York Jets — I’ll go against the “reverse momentum” theory as Indy lost to New England last week, which was expected. Jets, 27-20.

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Buffalo at Houston — How do you predict anything with the Bills? They’re like the Lions, only beating the good teams. Maybe Houston’s not good enough for them to care about. Texans, 27-24.

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Tampa Bay at Atlanta — Two teams sliding lately, but Atlanta really looks lost. Buccaneers, 35-31.

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Pittsburgh at Cincinnati — This rivalry has really gotten nasty lately. That should get both teams’ attention and allow the more talented team to rise to the top. Crazily, that means Bengals, 33-27.

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Arizona at Minnesota — Hopefully for Vikings fans, but not for the rest of us NFC North Division rooters, Minnesota learned its lesson when it was surprised by Buffalo a few weeks back. Vikings, 37-26.

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Los Angeles Chargers at Cleveland — The Browns are still too new to winning to sustain any streak just yet. Maybe they can pull out another tie, which they almost had to settle for again last week. Chargers, 30-27.

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Carolina at Washington — The NFC East just looks totally overmatched playing NFC South teams. Panthers, 29-20.

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Sunday, 4 p.m.

Los Angeles Rams at Denver — I don’t think the thin air of Denver is enough to slow the Rams at this point. Rams, 37-28.

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Jacksonville at Dallas — How will the Cowboys move the ball against the league’s best defense, especially after it got burned by Kansas City’s air force last week? Jaguars, 17-10.

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Baltimore at Tennessee — Two teams upset last week, so give me the home team. Titans, 23-20.

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Sunday, 8:20 p.m.

Kansas City at New England — I thought it might take Bill Belichick to solve the Chiefs’ explosive offense. But Jacksonville had the talent to supposedly do it last week, and they didn’t even come close. New England doesn’t look quite ready to get in a shootout with KC. Chiefs, 38-28.

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Monday, 8:15 p.m.

San Francisco at Green Bay — The Packers actually outgained Detroit almost exactly 2 to 1 (520-some yards to 260-some), and with any kind of evening out of the breaks, they should be just fine. Packers, 31-24.

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Last week — 9-6, 60 percent. Season — 43-33-2, 57 percent.

Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.