You know I’ve long espoused a season-long Monday night doubleheader, as opposed to just the doubleheader we get in opening week. I don’t know why I never thought of a Sunday night doubleheader. And it’s not like the NFL thought of it, either. The idea was forced upon pro football.
The baseball playoffs infringed upon the NFL last Sunday, when the Oakland Raiders were scheduled to host the Chargers in an afternoon game. Trouble is, the NFL arcanely allows the Raiders to play in a baseball stadium, which you remember as Oakland Alameda Coliseum but now is O.co Coliseum. If the NFL had a union, there wouldn’t be any football games played on dirt, but it doesn’t and there is.
The Athletics and Detroit Tigers had a Saturday night baseball game that didn’t start until 6 p.m. Saturday California time. The football game was scheduled to start at 1 p.m. Sunday California. That’s not nearly enough time to transform the playing from baseball to football, even with the allowance of dirt. So the NFL pushed the game back to 8:30 p.m. California time, which meant a 10:30 p.m. Oklahoma start and 11:30 p.m. on the East Coast.
And what a phenomenal idea. After the 49ers-Texans game on NBC Sunday Night Football, suddenly there was still football left to be played. The NFL Network took over the Oakland-San Diego game, which went until 1:32 a.m. Oklahoma time. That’s a little late even out in California, but it is Oakland.
Instead of three television windows, we had four. College football long ago figured out the value of more windows. Which is how you see games kicking off as early as 11 a.m. Oklahoma time (or even 10:30, as Air Force-Navy did last week) and as late as 9:30 p.m.
Why wouldn’t the NFL go to a late-night Sunday game? It would give some West Coast teams exposure they rarely get. When’s the last time any of us saw a Raiders game? There are five NFL teams that play in the Pacific Time Zone — Seattle, San Francisco, Oakland, San Diego and Arizona (half the year, on the Cardinals). Why not give them a weekly late night game? Consider it payback for all those 1 p.m. Eastern time kickoffs the West Coast teams have had to play over the years and which famously put the West teams at a disadvantage. How about making the Eastern times know how it feels, kicking off at 11:30 p.m. New York time?
Some ideas come to us through inspiration. Some are thrust upon us. This one was thrust upon us.
Let’s get to the predictions.
Giants at Bears: Chicago 29-13. OK, all who one New York team 3-2 and the other 0-5, raise your hand. OK, all who had the Giants the winless New York team, raise both hands.
Bengals at Bills: Cincinnati. Pity Buffalo. The Bills could be 3-2, a game out of first place with a chance to forge a tie this week in the AFC East. Alas, E.J. Manuel thought four more yards more valuable than his health.
Lions at Browns: Detroit 19-9. Brandon Weeden could become a folk hero if he plays well and keeps Cleveland winning. He also could be the NFL’s most booed man in Week 6.
Raiders at Chiefs: Kansas City 23-12. Andy Reid is the front-runner for coach of the year. He could be unbeaten through October.
Panthers at Vikings: Vikes 20-17. Josh Freeman apparently won’t play Sunday. But what an indictment of the Minnesota quarterbacking. A 52-percent passer who is viewed as a troublesome malcontent in Tampa is considered a better option than what the Vikes have.
Steelers at Jetropolitans: Pittsburgh 24-13. New York has three more wins than do the Steelers, but I refuse to believe the Jets are a better team.
Eagles at Buccaneers: Tampa Bay 25-20. Oregon vs. Rutgers . Actually, I don’t believe that. If I believed that, I would Philadelphia to win 59-27.
Packers at Ravens: Green Bay 30-20. Super Bowl winning quarterbacks of flawed teams collide. You’ve got to love the NFL. Never a dull matchup.
Rams at Texans: Houston 27-20. My Super Bowl picks were Houston and Atlanta. Right now, Oakland-Dallas has a much better chance.
Jaguars at Broncos: Denver 44-10. The largest point spread in NFL history, 28 points. I think the Broncos will try to take it easy on Jacksonville. But 44-10 is taking it easy. And Denver defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio, who was fired as the Jags’ head coach, might not be in any mood to lighten up.
Titans at Seahawks: Seattle 24-10. Why does it seem that whoever gets homefield advantage in the NFC — New Orleans, Seattle, San Francisco, longshots Chicago and Green Bay — will be the overwhelming favorite to reach the Super Bowl?
Cardinals at 49ers: San Francisco 31-14. Colin Kaepernick’s accuracy is down. So is his hype.
Saints at Patriots: New England 33-31. The game of the day. If New Orleans wins this game, the Saints become NFC favorites and the AFC East suddenly is wide open.
Redskins at Cowboys: Washington 23-20. Must-win for Dallas. The Cowboys can’t fall to 2-4 with only four home games left and still expect to win the NFC East.
Colts at Chargers: San Diego 25-17. Upset special. Chargers were lethargic last week. Here’s believing it doesn’t last.
Last week: 11-2. Season: 47-29.