A great week is underway in the NFL and in one big way, it feels like the start of the season all over again. Why? Because for the first time, all the first-teamers are going to be on the field! We’ve had the players for some time, but now we get the refs back to make sure the games are called as accurately as possible. Thanks in part to the problems in Seattle last Monday night, the NFL and its officials were able to come to an agreement in time for the action to get underway this week, allowing all of us as fans to get back to watching the game we love, without worrying that the officials aren’t sure what’s happening.
There was a lot of discussion about the replacement refs in the weeks that they were employed by the National Football League, and much of that discussion centered on the calls that they missed. Granted, those are going to be the most glaring examples of ineptitude, but for me, the degrading quality of play was the biggest issue with the replacement refs. Each week, it became more and more obvious that the players had NO respect for the guys wearing the stripes. Week to week, it seemed the little scrums that always develop in football were escalating, both in intensity and frequency. It was the general lack of control of the game that hurt it in the first few weeks.
I can remember in junior high, we had a substitute teacher in math class. Now, being someone who enjoyed my seat in the back of the class, I had no problem engaging in a giant spitball contest during class, pushing the envelope further and further, until even the substitute had to notice the lemon-sized spitball that just hit the wall on the side of the classroom. But there was never any real fear that the sub would do anything that would be long-lasting or detrimental to my future in that school. That’s the feeling I got time and time again, as the replacement refs lost control little by little, game by game, week by week. I’m thrilled that the real officials are back… and anxiously awaiting the first argument of a bad call from one of the regular refs!
Quick couple of things I’m looking for this week:
1. Atlanta hosts Carolina. This is the game I’m doing for Westwood One this week, and to me, is an under-the-radar game. Atlanta has been among the league’s most impressive teams to start this season, winning on the road, on the coast and against good early competition. Now, they face a divisional foe in Carolina that should have a stronger running game this week with the return of Jonathan Stewart. The Panthers need to bounce back in a big way from that Thursday night debacle against the Giants. The Falcons just need to prove that they can maintain at the high level they’ve been at so far this season.
2. New Orleans at Green Bay. To me, this is the most anticipated game of the week, not because of what they’ve done, but because of what they haven’t done. The Saints have been terrible through three games, 0-3 on the season, and at a HUGE crossroads. The Packers have to live with the fact that they are 1-2, should be 2-1 and have not been the same offensive juggernaut that we saw last year. Now, the good news for Green Bay? The Saints defense can’t stop anything. It’s a good weekend to get well if you are Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. But that offensive line has to figure out a way to keep Rodgers upright, or the MVP won’t make it to the end of the season.
Whatever game you are enjoying, enjoy it this weekend with the great taste of Buffalo Wild Wings by your side. Nothing goes better with football than Buffalo Wild Wings. Have a great weekend watching the greatest game on the planet!
– Kevin Kugler
Westwood One NFL play-by-play announcer Kevin Kugler tackles subjects that are interesting to him each week in his blog. The Football Insider Report is brought to you by Buffalo Wild Wings. Protect the Football. This weekend, Kevin will be in Atlanta to watch the Falcons take on the Carolina Panthers. Coverage begins at 12:30 Eastern on Westwood One Sports.