LOS ANGELES: Football is often compared to war. Football has the bomb and the blitz. There are the Jets and the Patriots. There are pre-game flyovers, cannons after touchdowns, and the firing of a gun after every quarter ends. Yet even when passions run sky-high, football is still a game. War is war. This past week America saluted its veterans. Monday Night Football last week fell on Veteran’s Day. If Christmas music can play before Halloween, then America’s Armed Forces can be honored for more than one day.
The Heroes of the Armed Forces
The Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard have given the National Football League many heroes on the field and off.
Chicago Bears quarterback Sid Luckman fought in World War II. Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rocky Bleier saw combat in Vietnam. Philadelphia Eagles iron man defender Chuck Bednarik was equally tough as a World War II hero. Roger Staubach did a Naval tour in Vietnam. Arizona Cardinals defender Pat Tillman left a multi-million dollar NFL contract to take an $18,000 per year salary as an Army Ranger after 9/11. (Born: November 6, 1976, Fremont, CA Died: April 22, 2004, Spera, Khost Province, Afghanistan)
He was one of the first NFL players to help fight the Global War on Terror.
We will always honor and preserve Pat Tillman’s legacy, who lost his life 15 years ago. pic.twitter.com/lt81cB0cK7
— Pro Football Hall of Fame (@ProFootballHOF) April 22, 2019
On the flip side, warriors have turned to football in the toughest of times.
The late Arizona Senator John McCain spent six years as a prisoner of war in the Hanoi Hilton. When his captors tried to torture him into revealing the names of Americans plotting attacks, McCain gave them the names of the Vince Lombardi’s 1960s Green Bay Packers.
When Iran kidnapped American hostages for 444 days, the hostages negotiated the right to read the sports pages. By getting their Iranian captors hooked on American football, the hostages were allowed to listen to a taped recording of the Super Bowl.
NFL 2019 Week 11 Preview and Bettor’s Guide:
Thursday, November 14, 2019, 8:20 p.m.
The Browns snapped a multi-game losing streak. The Steelers started 1-4 and have won four straight games. Forget the home field. When perpetual winners play perpetual losers, go with the winners. Upset special, Steelers win outright.
Sunday, November 17, 1:00 p.m.
Dallas Cowboys (-4.5) at Detroit Lions —
Matthew Stafford missed a game last week for the first time in nine years. If he plays this week, throw the spread out the window. If he does not play, throw the Lions down the drain. Expect Stafford to will himself to play against an inconsistent Dallas team. Upset special, Lions win outright.
New Orleans Saints (-5.5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers (-6) —
Despite shocking New Orleans in the Superdome, do not expect Atlanta to do it two straight weeks. Carolina is the better team, and they will not be caught napping. The Panthers are fighting for a playoff spot, and Kyle Allen is playing well. Panthers cover.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts (-3) —
After missing last week with an injury, Jacoby Brissett should be back. With him in the lineup, the Colts at home have the firepower to wear down Jacksonville. Colts cover.
Denver Broncos at Minnesota Vikings (-10.5) —
The Broncos are slowly improving, but this week they run into a buzzsaw defense that is Mike Zimmer tough. The spread is high, but the Vikings are on a mission. Expect Dalvin Cook to run wild. Vikings cover.
New York Jets at Washington Redskins (-1) —
League rules prevent this game from being canceled. The Jets recently lost to previously winless Miami. Asking them to win on the road is too much to ask. Redskins cover.
Buffalo Bills (-5.5) at Miami Dolphins —
After looking like a pee-wee football team the first half of the season, the Dolphins have won two straight games. Buffalo has a sound defense, but is not getting enough offensive production. Ryan Fitzpatrick can sling the rock. Upset special, Dolphins win outright.
Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens (-4) —
Houston is not a bad team, but the Ravens are a great team. They are a complete team. Lamar Jackson is a legitimate NFL MVP candidate. The Baltimore defense is as good as ever. Baltimore blasted previously unbeaten New England and pummeled winless Cincinnati. Baltimore is thinking Super Bowl, and John Harbaugh has them focused. Ravens cover.
After seeing their unbeaten season go up in smoke at home, the 49ers will be very angry this week. Expect the defense to pummel rookie Kyler Murray. The 49ers running game should overwhelm the underwhelming Arizona defense. 49ers cover.
New England Patriots (-3.5) at Philadelphia Eagles —
Forget the home field. The Patriots are angry at seeing their unbeaten season wash away at Baltimore last week. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady will pretend this is just another game. This is a lie. They want revenge for their Super Bowl loss two years ago, and they will get it. Patriots cover.
The Raiders have very quietly overcome the league’s worst pass defense to get to 5-4. Derek Carr and Josh Jacobs are willing the Silver and Black to wins that would have been losses in past years. In 1993, the 6-4 Raiders lost at the 0-10 Bengals. This year the Bengals are 0-8. The Raiders never win easily. They never put teams away. As awful as Cincinnati is, the Raiders do not deserve to be favored by such a large amount until they prove it. Raiders win but fail to cover.
Chicago Bears at Los Angeles Rams (-6.5) —
Last year in Chicago the defense suffocated the Rams in a 15-6 Bears win. This year both of these teams have regressed and are fighting for their playoff lives. Outside of Soldier Field, the Bears are not nearly as good. Jared Goff is still better than Mitchell Trubisky. The Rams offense has struggled, and a garbage touchdown by the anemic bears offense is possible here. Rams win but fail to cover.
Monday, November 18, 8:00 p.m.
Patrick Mahomes is not getting help from his defense, while Philip Rivers can’t seem to get help from anyone. Both these teams suffered stunning losses in blowing late leads. The Chargers are on the brink of playoff elimination, but the Chiefs have superior talent. As good as the Chargers defense can be at times, Mahomes plays on another level. Chiefs cover.
Lead Image: AIR FORCE THUNDERBIRDS SIX-JET FLYOVER OF SUPER BOWL 53 IN ATLANTA ON FEB. 3. (USAF)