While I’m busy making March Madness predictions my thoughts keep straying to my true passion, football. “Football,” Vince Lombardi once said, “Is a game of blocking and tackling, played down in the dirt.” For all of the elaborate offensive passing schemes drawn up by coaches who want to the throw the ball all over the yard – aided by rules that favor such high-octane, high scoring styles of play – the legendary coach’s mantra still rings true for a good many football teams, although that has been changing over the last few years.
When the Green Bay Packers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLVIII, they did it with an offense that relied heavily on the passing of quarterback Aaron Rodgers, defying Lombardi’s axiom (which rang so true when he coached the Packers to victories in Super Bowls I and II). Increased scoring makes the game more exciting for television viewers, the League’s theory goes, and the ratings bear that out.
Narrowing the Line
The emphasis on scoring has even bled into the college game, which has changed the way teams recruit, and funnels the best athletes into playing wide receiver instead of, say, linebacker or safety. This also has an effect on the way teams draft players out of college. Cornerbacks – who are responsible for covering wide receivers – are now considered blue-chip prospects, as are defensive linemen who can disrupt the passing game by getting to the opponent’s quarterback.
The emphasis on offensive production makes it that much harder on those who make NFL predictions for a living. Teams can put up a lot of points in a short span of time, with only a few teams possessing truly great defenses. This has narrowed the point spreads offered by the sports books, and made gamblers of all stripes narrow their eyes to slits as they study the line. The unpredictable nature of the modern pro football game has injected excitement into the lives of both fans and “experts” alike.
Looking to find out what experts are predicting, check out CBS picks.Tags: NFL picks