- The Washington Times - Friday, October 16, 2009

POINT-COUNTERPOINT

Each Friday, columnist Dan Daly and Redskins beat writer Ryan O’Halloran debate a football issue. This week’s topic: Was the NFL’s rapid response regarding Rush Limbaugh’s involvement in a bid to buy the Rams surprising?

Ryan O’Halloran: It was totally predictable. I thought it would be more widespread with players ripping Rush for his stupid comment about Donovan McNabb a few years ago getting a free pass because he’s a black quarterback. (Limbaugh’s hiring represented another dismal personnel decision by ESPN.) What’s interesting is that Dave Checketts, who’s heading the group, is a veteran of pro sports from his time with the Utah Jazz, New York Knicks and St. Louis Blues. He had to know the league would frown upon Limbaugh’s inclusion.

Dan Daly: All I could think about when I heard about Limbaugh’s bid was Marge Schott. Except that Rush, as opinionated as he is, would make Marge look like Mother Teresa. Whenever Marge spouted off about Hitler or whatever, it created a public-relations mess that baseball would have to clean up. From a league standpoint, I’m sure that’s what Roger Goodell wanted to avoid. It’s not a matter of whether you agree with Limbaugh; it’s that he’s a polarizing figure. And because he has a radio show, there would always be some brush fire or other for the league to deal with. Everybody could see that.

RO: I’m sure Rush is loving every minute of this because he comes from the “any publicity is good publicity” school, and it gives him plenty to talk about on his show. I’ll throw out another ownership-related issue: A Russian billionaire wants to buy the New Jersey Nets, and David Stern is actually listening. With the financial climate, there has to be an international ownership bid sooner than later, and it would be fascinating if there’s a European Jerry Jones out there.

DD: The more attention the NFL pays the European market, the more games it plays over there, the more likely it is that some rich Euro will try to buy a team - or maybe an expansion team that will be based in, say, Dusseldorf. It may not happen in my lifetime, but it’ll probably happen in yours. But just to finish up on Limbaugh, it’s absolutely hysterical to me that Roger Goodell, whose father was a Republican senator from New York, would be opposed to Rush being part of an ownership group - because of his political views. Clearly, Rush’s conservatism isn’t his old man’s conservatism.

WEEKEND PICKS

REDSKINS THIS WEEK

CHIEFS (0-5) at REDSKINS (2-3)

Sunday, 1 p.m.

TV: Ch. 9

Line: Redskins by 6 1/2

Outlook: Don’t be fooled by Kansas City’s overtime loss to Dallas last week. If the Chiefs were any kind of good, they would have stomped the Cowboys. The Chiefs are 30th in yards gained and last in yards allowed; right now, the only thing they do right is punt (second). It won’t be pretty, but the Redskins move to 3-3.

The pick: Redskins 24-6

GAME OF THE WEEK

GIANTS (5-0) at SAINTS (4-0)

Sunday, 1 p.m.

Line: Saints by 3

Outlook: Both offenses and defenses are among the league’s top six. This is New Orleans’ first true test; the Saints have defeated two rookie quarterbacks, Philadelphia without Donovan McNabb and woeful Buffalo. Eli Manning’s first trip to the Superdome moves the Giants to the top of the NFC.

The pick: Giants 27-24

UPSET WATCH

BEARS (3-1) at FALCONS (3-1)

Sunday, 8:20 p.m.

TV: Chs. 4, 11

Line: Falcons by 3 1/2

Outlook: Chicago wants to see a result off its bye week like the one Atlanta produced last week after its open date - the Falcons shellacked San Francisco 45-10. With quarterback Jay Cutler, the Bears’ passing game is only 19th, but look for him to take advantage of the Falcons’ defense on third down.

The pick: Bears 31-27

INSIDE THE AFC

c When is somebody in the D.C. area going to come up with this idea? Buffalo fan Ryan Abshagen, 18, raised more than $1,400 through an online campaign to rent a billboard. The message: “It’s time to clean house, RALPH” - referring to Bills owner Ralph Wilson. The Bills (1-4) have been anemic offensively, and reports have them scrapping their no-huddle strategy.

c It was just a matter of time before 40-year-old linebacker Junior Seau resurfaced in New England, but it seemed likely he would wait until the final half of the season. Instead, the 12-time Pro Bowl selection came out of retirement this week. “I’m too old to be excited,” he said. “I’m too old to jump for joy. I know that the only way this is all going to be exciting to anyone is if it works.”

c Miami continues to be the only team with an effective Wildcat package. The Dolphins gained 110 yards from the formation in Monday’s victory over the New York Jets. Afterward, the Jets called the package “nonsense.” “We’re not running any gimmick plays,” Miami guard Justin Smiley said. “I don’t think this catches anybody off-guard. You know it’s coming. Stop it if you can.”

c Players on struggling teams are starting to speak up, including Jacksonville running back Maurice Jones-Drew. The Jaguars were wiped out by Seattle last week 41-0 and went three-and-out on seven of their final 10 possessions. “I don’t like to be embarrassed, so I do get upset about it,” he said. “You lead by actions. You can only say so much. You can talk to somebody until you’re blue in the face, and they’re not going to do anything. But if you go out there and show why you’re upset and you try to do something to correct your mistakes, then they’ll pay attention.”

INSIDE THE NFC

c A quirky defensive year is developing in Arizona. The Cardinals are first against the run (71.0 yards a game)… and last against the pass (303.0), including a combined 750 yards in the past two games. “It can’t be that lopsided,” first-year defensive coordinator Bill Davis said. “We’re working hard to be a well-rounded defense. We’re much better in the passing game than the statistics show right now, but we’ve got to show that on the field.”

c There will be a homecoming and a reunion when the Giants travel to New Orleans. Eli Manning, a native of the city, has never played in the Superdome, and Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey faces his former team. Shockey was traded after an injury-plagued 2007 in which he missed the Giants’ playoff run. “It’s not about me, all right?” he said. “I want to make that clear. There’s already been some references about vendettas and stuff like that. It’s about two teams.”

c Like the Redskins with Chris Samuels, Seattle spent the past decade knowing Walter Jones would be at left tackle. But Jones hasn’t played this year because of a knee injury, and the Seahawks are scrambling. They’re down to their fourth and fifth options: Kyle Williams likely will start against Arizona a week after being elevated from the practice squad. Damion McIntosh signed Tuesday; he was cut by Kansas City in training camp.

BY THE NUMBERS

96-16 Combined score of Oakland’s past three games, losses by 20, 23 and 37 points.

HOPE IS NOT LOST

Since the NFL adopted a 12-team playoff system in 1990, 11 teams have reached the postseason despite being three or more games under .500 in Week 5 or later. The past six teams:

YearTeam (record)Final recordPlayoff result

2008San Diego (4-8)8-8Lost in divisional round

2004Green Bay (1-4)10-6Lost in wild-card round

2002NY Jets (2-5)9-7Lost in divisional round

1996Jacksonville (4-7)9-7Lost in AFC title game

1995San Diego (4-7)9-7Lost in wild-card round

1995Detroit (3-6)10-6Lost in wild-card round

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