In defense of offensive football
Last night, the NFL announced that next Sunday's St. Louis Rams (7-8) at Seattle Seahawks (6-9) game had been flexed to "Sunday Night Football's Football Night in America" on NBC. Twitter buzzed with harsh criticism. The NFC West is a laughingstock! Two losing teams will play in a nationally televised prime-time game! Fans readied the pitchforks to march on the NFL's Park Avenue headquarters. Ok, I'm exaggerating but people were unhappy.
I confess that when I first heard the news, I was not thrilled with the prospect of the matchup, mainly because the Seahawks are a historically terrible team, having lost all nine of their losses by at least 14 points. But after a day to think about it, I'm on board with the decision. Here's why I'll watch next Sunday night's game between two losing teams. And why you should too.
• Winner take all: This is a de facto playoff game and the NFL did the right thing by moving the only win-or-go-home game to prime time. Flex scheduling was designed to ensure fans see a game with playoff implications. The winner wins the division and the loser goes home. Both teams may not have winning records, but there is a playoff berth on the line, like it or not. If you think the NFL should change the playoff rules, that's a different story and a different conversation.
• St. Louis Rams are worth watching: You may not know that the Rams are worth watching because this will be the team's first nationally televised game all season. They are a young, up-and-coming team with talent worth your time, including rookie quarterback Sam Bradford, veteran workhorse running back Steven Jackson, standout third-year defensive end Chris Long (son of Hall of Famer Howie Long) and gritty, gutty second-year wide receiver Danny Amendola.
• Meet Sam Bradford: Bradford (2010 No. 1 overall pick, Oklahoma) has quietly had an outstanding debut season, passing for 3,357 yards and 18 TDs (and 14 interceptions), all with a patchwork collection of wide receivers. With one game left to play, he's got 335 completions, a new NFL record for completions by a rookie, passing Peyton Manning (326 in 1998). Not too shabby.
Watch the game. Get to know Bradford and the Rams. It's win or go home for both teams. How bad can it be?