- DJ Gallo, ESPN.com
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Football is going through a major transition. A little bit by design, and a lot by force. Injuries, scandals and lawsuits are changing the sport forever.
It may all seem a bit chaotic now, but if you step away and take a look at the big picture, it's quite simple to see where the sport is going. Here are just a handful of educated predictions on how the sport of football might very well look in just a few years.
• The game will be forced to become more about finesse, movement and artistry.
• Larger players will be phased out or simply unable to keep up with the pace of play.
• Roger Goodell will continue his push to expand the game overseas, with several prominent teams being placed in Europe.
• Goodell will also continue his efforts to find new profits by selling spots on jerseys for corporate logos.
• Running backs will continue to be marginalized and running with the ball will eventually be completely phased out of the modern game. Great passing will become the only way to set up a score.
• In looking to rid the sport of headshots and blows to the knees, tackling will only be allowed at the feet.
• With headshots gone, players will no longer wear helmets. In fact, the only pads will be for shin protection.
• And with the culture of covering up injuries in order to seem "tough" removed from the sport, many players will begin faking injuries in hopes of getting calls.
• As the trend of players becoming their own individual brands continues, many will begin going by single names.
Yes, the changes will be many, but you could say the new football will be more like football than it ever has been before.
Quote of the Week
"My actions were coming from a place of love." -- Richie Incognito, on his treatment of teammate Jonathan Martin
Oh. In that case, our mistake. We didn't realize it was coming from a place of love. Maybe if another job in football doesn't open up, you can put out a line of Richie Incognito greeting cards.
"I will murder your whole #### family. Happy Valentine's Day."
Stat of the Week
Archie Manning was inducted into the Saints Ring of Honor Sunday night at halftime. In 11 years with the Saints from 1971 to 1982, he had a 35-91-3 record, 173 interceptions to 125 touchdowns, a 55.2 completion percentage and a 67.4 quarterback rating. Chad Henne, Brandon Weeden, Josh Freeman: Immortality can be yours, as long as you have a couple of sons who win Super Bowls.
This Week's Horrible Fantasy Team That Crushed Your Team
Case Keenum, QB, Houston -- 22-for-43, 201 yards, 3 TD
Mark Ingram, RB, New Orleans -- 159 total yards, TD
Pierre Thomas, RB, New Orleans -- 111 total yards, TD
Tavon Austin, WR, St. Louis -- 2 receptions, 138 yards, 2 TD
Jermaine Kearse, WR, Seattle -- 3 catches, 75 yards, TD
John Carlson, TE, Minnesota -- 7 catches, 98 yards, TD
Photos of the Week
News Conference Questions Someone Should Have Asked
Doug Marrone: Does this loss mean your dog will go without affection for another week?
Gus Bradley: How disappointing is it to lose again, even after an extra week of work coming off your bye? I'm sorry -- I didn't prepare any non-losing-related questions.
Jim Harbaugh: I have a question I'd like to ask while hiding behind my chair. ... Have you seen how well Alex Smith has been playing?
Reader Twitter Question of the Week
@DJGalloESPN Can we count on the Jaguars riding this win to an 8-8 finish?
— Brandon Armstrong (@YankeeArmstrong) November 10, 2013
With ease. Observe:
The Jaguars beat the Titans in Week 10, who beat the Rams in Week 9, who beat the Colts in Week 10, who beat the Broncos in Week 7. Jacksonville's Week 6 loss to the "mighty" Broncos is ancient history. They're better than Denver now.
Oh, but you're just cherry-picking a few matchups to "prove" the Jaguars are great.
Fine. Here's another one: The Jaguars beat the Titans in Week 10, who beat the Steelers in Week 1, who beat the Jets in Week 6, who beat the Patriots in Week 2. The Jaguars are better than the Patriots.
And this: The Jaguars beat the Titans in Week 10, who beat the Steelers in Week 1, who beat the Jets in Week 6, who beat the Saints in Week 9. The Jaguars are better than the Saints.
Sure, one more: The Jaguars beat the Titans in Week 10, who beat the Rams in Week 9, who beat the Colts in Week 10, who beat the Seahawks in Week 5.
So the Jaguars are better than the Broncos, Patriots, Saints and Seahawks. The Jaguars are the best team in the NFL. They are both legit and elite. They are "e-git."
Forced Sports/Pop Culture Reference in Hopes of Sounding Cool
Congratulations to the Jaguars on getting their first win of the season. Huh. Jaguars. A lot of people say it like Jag-wires. Wires. Wire. The Wire. HBO's "The Wire." You guys should watch "The Wire." It went off the air in March 2008, but it's still relevant because that's only a few months after the last playoff appearance by the Jag-The Wires. This week's game totally reminded me of that episode in which that surprising thing happened.
Weak Sports Take of the Week
Colin Kaepernick looks lost right now, and the 49ers' passing offense is only getting worse. That said, this is only his first full season as a starter, he did help get San Francisco to the Super Bowl last year and the 49ers are in great position to make the playoffs. There probably aren't many quarterbacks the 49ers would take over Kaepernick. Yet the struggles are apparent. It's hard to really say what's going on for sure there right now. I'm miffed.
Five Things I Think I Can I Think I Can Think
1. Raiders cornerback Tracy Porter supposedly became the first person in history this week to record pick-sixes against both Peyton Manning and Eli Manning. What a bunch of myopic garbage. Cooper Manning returned countless interceptions for touchdowns against his brothers in the backyard. That guy gets no respect.
2. The negative nabobs like to point out that since Week 7, Trent Richardson only has 59 yards on 22 carries -- a 2.1 yard per carry average. However, he has run for 177 feet on those 22 carries -- a much better-sounding 6.5 feet per carry. And since Richardson is listed at just 5-foot-9, he's gaining a whole 9 inches more per carry than he would if he just stood at the line of scrimmage every play and fell forward with the ball. I call that production.
3. You blew it, Jaguars. You had a chance to matter. You had a chance to be remembered in history. You had a chance to be just the third winless team in NFL history -- and with your unbroken string of blowout defeats, a strong argument as the worst team in NFL history. But you had to go and eke out a win against the Titans. So now you'll finish the season -- what: 1-15? 2-14? No one remembers those teams. Don't let this happen to you, Buccaneers. 0-16 immortality is still within your grasp. And as the franchise that produced the original defeated team -- the 0-14 1976 Bucs -- you could lay claim to being the worst franchise in NFL history. We will forget about your Super Bowl XXXVII title if you achieve 0-16 this year. In fact, we already did forget about that title. A Super Bowl won by Brad Johnson? Against the Raiders? Coached by Bill Callahan? Ha! No way that happened.
4. Harvard-educated Ryan Fitzpatrick lost to the Jaguars. Stanford-educated Andrew Luck saw his team get crushed by the Rams. Princeton-educated Jason Garrett saw his team get embarrassed again on national TV. It was a bad NFL week for smart people. They may receive harassment from many of their NFL peers this week. At least they'll know now that the harassment comes from a place of love. I never realized it before, but this is probably the greatest love scene in the history of cinema (SFW).
5. Richie Incognito and his Dolphins brethren have pretty much crushed the perception that football players are stupid. Think about it: they have created their own "culture" -- the football locker room culture -- that allows them to behave however they want to. That's genius. Whereas you get angry looks from your coworkers when you warm up some soup in the break room microwave. You can't even think about texting them that you're going to kill their whole family. If only you had thought to establish something called "accounting firm culture."
How They Spent Their Bye Week
Browns: End-of-life planning.
Chiefs: Dealing with life's biggest problems.