Mike Asti: 21-10-1
Parker Hurley: 20-11-1
Alan Saunders: 20-11-1
Ron Lippock: 18-13-1
Mike Asti: 10-6
Parker Hurley: 9-7
Ron Lippock: 10-6
Alan Saunders: 11-5
Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars
Lippock: No pick
Saunders: Jaguars. Jags played Houston tight on the road, and Houston is better than Tennessee. Also, Gardner Minshew deserves to have good things happen to him.
Detroit Lions at Philadelphia Eagles
Saunders: Lions. Eagles are a mess right now with a ton of injuries.
New York Jets at New England Patriots
Saunders: Patriots. By 50. Again.
Oakland Raiders at Minnesota Vikings
Baltimore Ravens at Kansas City Chiefs
Saunders: Chiefs, but I can really see this one going either way. We will find out a lot about how good the Ravens are in this one.
Atlanta Falcons at Indianapolis Colts
Saunders: Falcons, in a game that I can’t quite figure out why they’re underdogs after knocking off Philly.
Denver Broncos at Green Bay Packers
Miami Dolphins at Dallas Cowboys
Cincinnati Bengals at Buffalo Bills
Saunders: Bills. One of these days, the Bills will play a real football team and lose. Today is not that day.
New York Giants at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Saunders: Buccaneers. Daniel Jones was 0-3 against Pitt in his college career. I did not have the same evaluation the Giants did when they took him in the first round.
Carolina Panthers at Arizona Cardinals
Saunders: Cardinals. Kyler Murray beat out Kyle Allen and made him transfer to Houston. Not going to start losing to him now.
Pittsburgh Steelers at San Francisco 49ers
Even though everything that could go wrong has gone wrong for the Steelers so far this season, this team is too talented, especially on defense, to not get it going eventually. Pittsburgh is 0-2, but faced off against two strong contenders. That’s in contrast to San Francisco, who played two weak opponents in weeks 1 and 2. No matter how much confidence people may have in Mason Rudolph, it’s rarely easy for a young quarterback in his first career start. With that said, I think he will play adequately enough and others, maybe James Washington for example, will step up to help the Steelers finally get a win.
Saunders: 49ers. The Steelers offense was having trouble before Ben Roethlisberger got hurt, and while I’m a believer when it comes to Mason Rudolph, there’s a ton of work to do. Meanwhile, San Francisco has had an impressive start even without running back Tevin Coleman.
49ers 27, Steelers 21
New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks
Saunders: Seahawks, which impressed me in their win in Pittsburgh last week. It’s not a big-name offense, but Russell Wilson can direct a drive as well as anyone. Saints are going to really miss Drew Brees.
Houston Texans at Los Angeles Chargers
Saunders: Chargers by a hair. Worst home-field advantage in the league won’t help them any, and Houston is underrated, but somehow so are Philip Rivers and company.
Los Angeles Rams at Cleveland Browns
Saunders: Rams by a bunch. Still very skeptical of the Browns and beating the hapless Jets on Monday night did little for me.
Chicago Bears at Washington Redskins
This is an atrocious matchup for the Redskins and their head coach Jay Gruden knows it. Washington has struggled mightily to get their ground game going and a struggling offense may be just what the Bears need to wake up and be the force they can be. Expect Mack and company to feast on Monday night.
Saunders: Bears, and a good night to do the laundry. Woof.
Roger Goodell Continues NFL Reopening; Expects Coaches in Facilities Next Week
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has announced the next phase of league reopenings in a memo to teams Thursday.
Starting Monday, June 1, clubs will be permitted to reopen box offices, retail shops and other “customer-facing” locations “as long as the operation of such facilities fully complies with state and local regulation.”
Employees working in these newly opened location will count towards the limit per team set by the league. Clubs are permitted 50 percent of their normal staff, and cannot exceed 75 employees in facilities.
Rehabbing players will continue to be allowed access to team facilities, but healthy players and coaches are still not in the clear to return. Goodell added that the expectation is that coaching staffs can come back to facilities next week.
“We are actively working with Governors and other state and local authorities in those states that have not yet definitive plans and will confirm the precise date on which coaches can return to the facility as soon as possible,” Goodell said.
Coaches have been barred from team facilities in an attempt to ensure competitive equity around the league, considering different states are at different stages in their respective reopening processes.
Goodell added that the league is working alongside the NFLPA to develop protocols that would allow players to return to club facilities in a limited fashion.
The first phase of reopening began on May 19, and it appears to have been successful thus far.
“Clubs that have reopened their facilities have done so in a safe and effective way,” Goodell said.
The league is utilizing three different criteria as it continues with its reopening plan: state and local regulations must be followed, reopening must be consistent with protocols created by NFL Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills and competitive fairness must be a priority throughout the process.
The NFL has not yet made announcements regarding training camps, or if games will be played without fans during the 2020 season.
NFL Adds to League Officiating Department; Alberto Riveron Remains Top Replay Official
The NFL has drastically altered the structure of its officiating office, but Alberto Riveron will remain the man in charge of league replay reviews.
The league announced on Thursday that longtime referee Walt Anderson and former NFL coach Perry Fewell have joined the NFL officiating department.
Fewell, 57, will oversee the officiating department, including communications with head coaches and general mangers, and be the league’s liaison to the NFL Referee Association and the NCAA.
He joins the league office after last serving as the Carolina Panthers’ interim head coach in 2019. He was also interim head coach of the Buffalo Bills in 2009. Fewell was the defensive coordinator of the Buffalo Bills from 2006-09 and New York Giants from 2010-14 and was a defensive backs coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars (1998-02 and 2017-18), the St. Louis Rams (20030-04), Chicago Bears (2005), Washington Redskins (2015-16) and Carolina Panthers (2019). Fewell also worked as a collegiate assistant at North Carolina, Army, Kent State and Vanderbilt.
Anderson, 67, spent 24 years as an NFL official and the last 17 seasons as a referee before moving into the league office as senior vice president of officiating training and development, where one will oversee game officials, their development, training, education, recruitment and more.
That will leave less on the able other than his role as the league’s lead replay official, a role he will return to for his eighth season.
Each of Anderson, Fewell and Riveron will report directly to NFL executive vice president of of football operations Troy Vincent.
“Our intentions are to implement meaningful improvements to the game and officiating,” Vincent said in a press release. “We will continue to make every effort to improve officiating and pursue officiating excellence.”
NFL to Allow Three Players to Return from Injured Reserve
The NFL owners have voted to expand the number of players that can return from the injured reserve list during the virtual 2020 owner’s meetings, the second session of which was held virtually on Thursday.
NFL teams will now be able to place three players on injured reserve and allow them to return to competition in the same season. Teams had been allowed to return two such players since 2017. When the rule was first installed, only one player could return and he had to be identified beforehand.
Now, players are eligible to return from injured reserve after missing eight weeks, which was clarified in the updated rule for 2020 to mean eight missed team games, and not eight calendar weeks. A regular-season bye week will not count in the eight weeks required to be served. Postseason bye weeks will continue to count toward the minimum.
Players will still be allowed to practice with their teams for two weeks preceding their eligibility to return from the reserve list, and a total of 21 days before he must be added to the roster or remain on injured reserve for the rest of the season.
The proposal, which was submitted by the league office, was the only modification to the league’s bylaws approved during Thursday’s meeting. There were several changes made to the league’s playing rules.
The Steelers placed 10 players on the injured reserve list in 2019: defensive linemen Stephon Tuitt and LT Walton, fullback Roosevelt Nix, linebacker Ulysees Gilbert III quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger and Mason Rudolph, safety Sean Davis, tight end Xavier Grimble and wide receiver Ryan Switzer. None returned from the designation to play in 2019.