On the heels of Deflategate, the NFL has another issue on its hands — the possibility referees give preferential treatment to the league’s stars. Oh, the shock.
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is convinced referee Ed Hochuli told him he wasn’t “old enough” to earn a roughing call last week. It’s a charge Hochuli vehemently denies. According to NFL Network, Hochuli said he told him “The difference is you were running,” on why he didn’t make the call.
Although Hochuli got the call right, the league is investigating.
Thank goodness the NFL can again take the focus off the dull action on the field and turn its attention to these exciting and more pressing matters.
Baltimore at Pittsburgh: With Ben Roethlisberger out with a knee sprain for at least six weeks, the Steelers need Michael Vick to just tread water while he’s gone. Unfortunately for Pittsburgh, this stretch of games comes against one of its fiercest rivals. Look for Joe Flacco and the Ravens to take full advantage. Ravens 24, Steelers 21.
New York Jets vs. Miami at London: The Dolphins have stumbled out of the gate so far and are in desperate need of a win. New York’s defense has been a big reason for the Jets’ 2-1 start. As long as Brandon Marshall doesn’t try another boneheaded lateral, the Jets should prevail. Jets 23, Dolphins 20.
Jacksonville at Indianapolis: The Colts got well against the Titans last week. They make it two in a row against weak AFC South opponents and begin their ascent to the top of the division. Jacksonville tries to make this respectable after getting crushed by the Patriots. Colts 28, Jaguars 13.
New York Giants at Buffalo: The Giants got off the deck with a win last week, but go up against a much improved Bills team bent on contending in the AFC East. Eli Manning needs a big game for New York to pull out the road win. Bills 30, Giants 24.
Carolina at Tampa Bay: The Panthers have won the last four meetings and six of eight. No reason that trend doesn't continue, especially with Carolina battling Atlanta for the NFC South lead. Look for Newton to have another big day for the Panthers. Panthers 31, Buccaneers 19.
Philadelphia at Washington: The winner jumps right back into the mix for NFC East supremacy. After a terrible start, the Eagles picked up a win over the Jets last week. Sam Bradford and company hope to keep that momentum going against the 1-2 Redskins. This one goes down to the wire, just like the past five meetings have. Eagles 34, Redskins 31.
Oakland at Chicago: The Bears, off to a 0-3 start, have sold off Jared Allen and are close to moving into a full-fledged rebuild mode. Oakland has a chance to start 3-1 for the first time in a long while. The Bears make it interesting, but ultimately, it’s the Raiders finding the win column. Raiders 24, Bears 21.
Houston at Atlanta: Even at 1-2, the Texans are tied for the AFC South lead. Unfortunately for them, they also are tied for last in the weak division. They stay tied for last after facing the unbeaten Falcons. Falcons 32, Texans 22.
Kansas City at Cincinnati: The murderous schedule for the Chiefs continues. After a Monday night game against the unbeaten Packers, they have to travel to Cincinnati and face the unbeaten Bengals on a short week. Kansas City stays close and could well be the best 1-3 team in the league. Bengals 24, Chiefs 20.
Cleveland at San Diego: The Chargers have won five of seven against this version of the Browns since 1999, including both meetings in San Diego. Philip Rivers and company get well with a needed win over Cleveland and its quarterback carousel. Chargers 30, Browns 14.
Green Bay at San Francisco: With Aaron Rodgers playing quarterback at such a high level, it’s hard to see the Packers tripping up against the woeful Niners. Colin Kaepernick was awful against Arizona with a 16.7 QBR. Green Bay’s fast start is complete. Packers 35, 49ers 24.
St. Louis at Arizona: The Rams have dropped three straight in the series and haven’t won in Arizona since 2012. The Cardinals defense is among the league’s best, and as long as Carson Palmer stays healthy at QB, Arizona may be the best team in the NFC West. Cardinals 21, Rams 14.
Minnesota at Denver: Teddy Bridgewater and the Vikings are off to an impressive 2-1 start, but face an unbeaten Broncos team with Peyton Manning again playing at a high level. It’s never easy winning at Denver and this will be no exception. Broncos 28, Vikings 21.
Dallas at New Orleans: So much for Tony Romo vs. Drew Brees. Fans likely will see Brandon Weeden vs. Luke McCown. Weeden gets the edge against the winless Saints. Cowboys 27, Saints 17.
Detroit at Seattle: Even just four weeks into the season, a loss by the Lions means their playoff hopes will be on life support. At 0-3, Detroit faces an uphill climb and it won’t be easy at the Hawks’ Nest. Seahawks 31, Lions 9.
Byes: New England, Tennessee.
Last week: 12-4 (.750).
For the season: 27-21 (.563).
Picking the Packers: 3-0 (1.000).