Man Getting Hit By Football: Week 15

Some rule changes to help improve the game, some of which would also guarantee fans delicious pancakes.
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Illustration by Brad Beatson.

San Diego (+10.5) at Denver

Last week I went on and on about the need to reform football. The reasons to change the sport are fairly obvious—the game is too violent, sure, the brain damage it causes has become too apparent to the public, but also it’s a lousy sport to watch a lot of the time, as anyone who’s accidentally caught a glimpse of Thursday Night Football could tell you. Only having three days between games means players and coaches aren’t properly prepared, and also sometimes I totaly forget that there’s a game happening and sometimes, not now of course but sometimes, you can kind of tell in the write-up that I do for Thursday Night Football. So, Rule Change No. 1: Ban Thursday Night Football.  

PICK: San Diego

Washington (+7) at Atlanta

But also it is pretty strange and stupid that all the games happen at the same time on Sunday. It’s like, Hey, I’ve got an idea. There’s this sport that pretty much all of America loves to watch. But unlike other sports, where the games happen every night of the week, let’s play them ALL AT ONCE, so individual fans—who have, to reiterate, shown a willingness to watch any and all football games they’re shown—can only see a fraction of the teams play on any given week!  

Rule Change No. 2: Tweak the schedule to spread the games out so there aren’t so many simultaneous games. It’d be tricky, yes, but NFL executives literally get paid millions of dollars. They should be able to figure it out.

PICK: Washington

San Francisco (-5.5) at Tampa Bay

Rule Change No. 3: Ban coaches. Just get rid of ‘em. The job takes such an awful toll that no one should have to do it, not even the workaholics who want to do it, and especially not the angry, power-mad drill-sergeant hemorrhoids like Greg Schiano. I bet the players know a lot about football. Why not have them draw up the plays? Coaches can get honest work as NFL analysts, cell phone salesmen, or, in Schiano’s case, as an overzealous security guard at the world’s largest tire fire.

PICK: San Francisco

Seattle (-7) at “New York” Giants

Rule Change No. 4: Get Drake more involved. Self-explanatory.

PICK: Seattle

Chicago (+1) at Cleveland

Rule Change No. 5: What if they allowed multiple forward passes on individual plays? In the early 20th century college football adopted the forward pass to reduce the amount of horrific injuries accrued by players, and in time throwing the weirdly-shaped ball down the field became the most important aspect of the game. Maybe if we legalized multiple forward passes (and throwing the ball when past the line of scrimmage) the game would similarly adapt, and by 2025 there would be a lot of complicated set plays we can only dream of. It might make the game safer, I guess. Mostly it would just be crazy to watch. We’d be all old, just watching it like, “In my day, blah bleugh Brett Favre!”

PICK: Chicago

Houston (+6) at Indianapolis

Rule Change No. 6: Ban running. It’s boring. No one is like, “Yeah let’s go to the big ol’ National Football League stadium and watch Trent Richardson fall forward for a gain of two.” From now on, no one can run except the quarterback. Screen passes are still OK though.

PICK: Indianapolis

Buffalo (-2) at Jacksonville

Rule Change No. 7: Get rid of the differences between the NFL and college football. Why do professional receivers have to get two feet inbounds when making a catch while amateur* college players only have to put one foot down? It’s stupid. Football should be the same everywhere. (Don’t get me started on the college basketball/NBA weirdness.)

PICK: Buffalo

New England (-2.5) at Miami

*Rule Change No. 8: Pay college players. If you want to establish a minor league for your professional sport, you should be required to pay to build one. Especially when the players in said minor league are risking brain damage every bit as much as their slightly older, significantly better-paid counterparts.

PICK: New England

Philadelphia (-4.5) at Minnesota

Rule Change No. 9: All games should be played in the snow. “But it’s not always snowing during NFL season!” you say. Shhhh. This is football. This is America. We can make it snow for NFL games, and since our empire is crumbling away we have nothing better to do. How cool would it be if this always happened?

PICK: Minnesota

Arizona (-2.5) at Tennessee

Rule Change No. 10: Actually, forget snow, all games should be played on a giant pancake griddle. If you were a young child obsessed with breakfast foods, you’ll remember that legendary terrifying giant woodsman Paul Bunyan and his men ate “pancakes cooked on a griddle 10 acres wide, and they go ice skating on bacon strips to grease the pan.” NFL players should emulate that, and then at the end of every game the whole stadium would eat a bunch of pancakes. Wouldn’t something like this be nice?

PICK: Arizona

New Orleans (-5.5) at St. Louis

Rule Change No. 11: Ritualized dance combat for wide receivers and cornerbacks. The fast dudes on the outside are already playing their own mini-game out there, and they’re already prone to dancing in celebration and to humiliate their opponents. All I want is to somehow codify the dancing and incorporate it into the game. Then you’d get to hear Al Michaels say, “That was a good shimmy hand-clap combo, John. He’s just the best in the game at that, wow. How does he move his hips like that? It’s mesmerizing. It’s like he’s made of water.” And then Collinsworth would agree with him but also somehow sound like he’s smugly correcting him in that way he does.

PICK: New Orleans

“New York” Jets (+11) at Carolina

Rule Change No. 12: Ban pads and helmets. When we think about improving player safety, we imagine better equipment that will shield players from one another, but having all that protection may just encourage players to do dangerous things. We should listen to the Straight Dope dude—if we forced players to play in normal clothes, they might very well be less prone to dangerous play:

“The concept here is called risk homeostasis or risk compensation. It holds that everyone engaged in a dangerous activity has a personal risk-vs.-reward level they’ll stick to no matter what. In other words, if you force someone playing a contact sport to wear protective equipment, they’ll take bigger risks to bring the overall danger back to the level they’re comfortable with.”

Why not give it a try? How much more ineffective could it possibly be?

PICK: Carolina

Kansas City (-4) at Oakland

Rule Change No. 13: On a related note, let’s force players to play on both offense and defense, just like the old days. (You could do this most easily by lowering the maximum number of players allowed on a roster.)

Defensive backs might hesitate before laying down a nasty hit if they knew they’d soon be out on the field catching balls and getting hit themselves. Or not, I don't know what NFL players think. It’d be fun to watch dudes play both ways in any case.

PICK: Kansas City

Green Bay (+7) at Dallas

Rule Change No. 14: Force everyone to play defense like the Cowboys have played defense this season. I don’t care how you do it, but I want every game to be decided by a score of 61-57 and that is the easiest way to make it happen.

PICK: Green Bay

Cincinnati (-3) at Pittsburgh

Rule Change No. 15: When they introduce the teams for nationally televised games, instead of saying their names and their colleges, the players should be required to describe what watching porn is like using an elaborate metaphor, as Josh McCown once did:

PICK: Pittsburgh

Baltimore (+6) at Detroit

Rule Change No. 16: Lasers. This is a serious one—they need to put a GPS microchip in the ball and use a grid of invisible lasers and motion sensors to determine whether the ball crossed the goal line or made it past the first down marker, and maybe whether a receiver got both feet inbounds on a catch. They’re actually already working on this, and it popped up in the news again after that confusing was-that-a-first-down-or-what-is-happening moment at the end of the Giants-R******s game a couple weeks ago.

Instant replays slow NFL broadcasts to a crawl, inevitable human error on the refs’ part ruins some games, and teams can already use GPS technology to track players to help with conditioning. The great thing about football is that it’s always evolving, always ready to embrace technology and innovation when it can be useful, at least to the extent that embracing such technology won’t make them appear more liable for player brain trauma or something. So let’s get lasers on the fucking field already. Lasers on a giant pancake griddle. We’re ready for this.

PICK: Baltimore

Previous week’s record: 8-8
Overall record: 101-101-6
All lines taken from

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