Having left it very late to do my picks, I'm going to wait until tomorrow night to do them so I can give you my full thoughts on how I came to pick the teams I did. It also gives me an excuse to double check some things, just to be absolutely sure about the picks I've made and possibly to rethink some of the more sketchy ones.
In place of those picks I come bearing news. Sort of.
As long term readers will know I hate, hate, with a passion NFL.com's video delivery service. It's a favourite rant of mine. The video quality is terrible, the insistence on autoplaying videos is beyond annoying, the videos persistently glitch and jump back and forth, and the commercials? God the commercials. I understand businesses need to make money. I get that. I myself have adverts around this site. But at least they're not intrusive.
More to the point, at least I don't shove a 30 second advert down peoples throats every few minutes. Even more to the point, neither does ESPN.com (in it's College highlight section at least). If ESPN, a company that big and that well known, can avoid having to run an advert before every damn video then why does NFL.com feel the need to? Well actually I think I might have the answer.
I stumbled across a thread on a "Reddit.com" forum that was basically full of people complaining about the same things as I have. One of the comments in that thread was from someone claiming to be a former NFL.com employee who laid to bare some of the details of why the service is such a pile of shit. On further investigation, significant chunks of his story checks out.
One of the big problems that the guy highlighted was that the service requires you to download an application in order to access the high quality video. Turns out this is as much to do with saving Akamai money as it does providing good quality video.
See, when you download the application it then uses your bandwidth and not Akamai's to load and play videos, thus reliving stress on their servers... and slowing your Internet connection down. Those people whose Internet provider limits bandwidth usage will be even more hard hit by this.
As far as the adverts are concerned, this is pretty much impossible to check and verify. But basically what the guy said is that they receive a pile of complaints on a daily basis about the excessive amount of commercials... and nobody there really gives a flying fuck.
Apparently the upper management levels predicted (correctly I should point out) that people would endure the ridiculous amounts of adverts in order to get at the content. The primary reason for this is simple - NFL.com has an absolute monopoly on highlights that last any more than about a minute. If you visit other sites you can often catch a few big plays in their highlight packages, but if you actually have any interest in seeing the proper highlights, such as all scoring plays, sacks and interceptions, your options are limited.
And by limited I mean; you have no options.
NFL.com is the only place you can get this content. If you don't like it, screw you. Personally I think the NFL could throw its fans a bone and out of the kindness of its heart (stop laughing) cut down or completely remove the "pre-roll" commercials. Of course there is another alternative; let other people have the same access to your highlights.
I can't see the NFL doing that though. To do so would basically result in the instant death of NFL.com. It's sole purpose, it's sole reason for existence is those highlights. The rest of the content is shit. The articles are usually shit. The stats page is a joke compared to the morass of websites out there now that track more stats than NFL.com does and give users more options for how they wish view those stats.
The sole redeeming quality of the website is it's video content and most of that is just garbage taken from the NFL Network. "Playbook" is about the only show worth checking out (and it is worth checking out (more on this perhaps tomorrow (must leave brackets now))).
Really though it's that highlight content that takes the biscuit, runs off with it, and hides it in a locker somewhere covered in adverts for Papa John's, McDonald's and GMC. Without those highlights, there literally would be no good reason for any sane human being to frequent that site. If ESPN could do with NFL highlights what it does with College highlights; all the important plays, offensive and defensive (though they could probably do with being a touch longer), no adverts in between, basically instant loading times and superb video delivery, then NFL.com dies practically over night.
I've just noticed foam forming in the corner of my mouth, so this is probably a good time to stop. Check tomorrow for picks.