Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving picks and general thoughts.

So again time has conspired against me to rob me of the chance to assess the rookie watchlist in detail. Suffice to say that; - The first rounders are a mixed bag, - The middle rounders are mostly doing reasonably well, given that they're rookies taken in the middle rounds, - The late rounders/undrafted are largely filling out practice squads, Now, to a few things that are a little more immediately important: -- The League and the NFLPA have met regarding the ongoing labor discussions. Except that according to the NFL Network's Jason LaCanfora, all they really seemed to have discussed were the proposals for an 18-game schedule. Nice to see that they have their priorities straight. -- I watched a video of a Neuropsychologist (they study the brain in relation to psychological processes, oddly enough) talking about concussions. Inevitably the NFL came up. But what I can't understand is this; if concussions are such a big thing (they are) then why is the current helmet technology so abysmal? Let me start by saying that I understand that removing concussions 100% is probably an unachievable goal, but we can at least lessen their impact. Concussions are measured by acceleration/deceleration of the brain as it makes impact with the inside of the skull. Subsequently it is measured in "G"s, as in G-force. The average helmet-to-helmet collision in a football game is estimated to generate somewhere between 100-120g (why are we estimating? Can we not afford in this day an age to put some kind of accelerometer on/in a helmet?). Naturally then the concern is to reduce this impact. And to be honest, encasing the head in a soft inside layer and a hard outside layer is pretty much the stupidest thing you can do, short of encasing the head in a purely hard, thick layer. What is even more absurd/criminal, is that we already know this and we already have a design plan from which to draw inspiration. You get in it everyday. It is probably one of your most valuable possessions. It costs you a ton of money but you couldn't do what you do without it. I am of course talking about your car. Cars are dangerous. They travel at speeds that humans were never supposed to travel. They can deliver a tremendous impact when they crash. But they've also come along leaps and bounds safety wise in recent years. The part that we're interested in is the crumple zone. This is the section of your vehicle that is designed to essentially undergo a controlled collapse in the event of a high speed impact. As significant force is transmitted into the crumple zone, it begins to deform and absorb the Kinetic energy of the impact, allowing for a more gradual deceleration. The passengers are protected against the more severe impacts by a rigid central cabin structure. This is precisely what we need in modern football helmets. A rigid structure against the head to protect it with a softer, possibly deforming outer shell to reduce the effect of serious acceleration/deceleration. Maybe then there would be less bitching from the league about quarterbacks/defenseless receivers getting hit in the head. And think of the awesome replays, with chunks of spent helmet flying all over the place in High Definition....... ahem. And the safety factor of course. Time for my Thanksgiving Thursday night picks I think, starting with; New England Patriots @ Detroit Lions: Holy crap! The Patriots are on a roll. Deion Branch may not have the speed or the size of Rand Moss, but critically for the Patriots he does run every route in the tree. This makes him a more versatile asset up and down the field. With the additional emergence of the two rookie tight ends (Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski) and of RB Danny Woodhead, coupled with the Patriots seemingly more balanced offense this year -- both in play-calling and execution -- they are close to being back to their fearsome best. Will they put up 30 points a game? On occasion. For the most part though, it is about ruthless efficiency right now. Oh, and the Lions are also playing in this game. Unfortunately for them. Patriots win. New Orleans Saints @ Dallas Cowboys: I f...reakin' knew a game like this would come up this weekend. Here is the dilemma I see from a pick perspective; the Saints are ok, but they're not the Saints from 2009, meanwhile the Cowboys have put up two good wins in a row after dumping Wade Phillips, but those wins were against a so-so Giants team and.... the Detroit Lions (what's with the Lions bashing today?). So will the Cowboys keep up the offensive show we've become accustomed to in the last couple of games? Have the Saints seen enough on film to catch out the newly reborn Cowboys (who've gone a little outside their normal box recently in search of big plays)? Has the Dallas secondary really learnt to tackle yet? When are Saints fans going to learn to spell? When will Saints fans finally admit that their defense was allowed to get away with murder in the NFC Championship game? And that if they're honest, they kind of lucked their way into the big game? All important questions. Sadly I'm not sure as I have the answers. So, stab in the dark time..... I'm going with the home team. Cowboys win. Cincinnati Bengals @ New York Jets: Given the "Bungals" showing last week, I really can't take them over the Jets. Yes, I know the Jets have scraped through their recent games by the skin of their teeth, but that is better than getting your ass handed to you by the 2010 Buffalo Bills. That said, I'm not sure as the Jets record tells us everything we need to know about them. Their pass rush seems to have stumbled a little lately. Mark Sanchez might be earning a reputation for being cool at the end of games, but what about the rest of the contest? And what happened to the Jets running game? Still, they're playing the Bengals. Jets win. Have a great Thanksgiving everyone.

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