Extra Points: All roads lead back to Park Avenue

(SportsNetwork.com) – If absolute power really does corrupt absolutely, that’s
your explanation as to why the NFL finds itself in the middle of a media
firestorm.

On one hand, it’s certainly not Roger Goodell’s fault that the public at large
has decided Adrian Peterson is a terrible father, and it’s hardly the
responsibility of the omnipotent commissioner to explain to Ray Rice or Greg
Hardy that abusing a significant other is out of bounds.

The bunkered-in Goodell, however, is unequivocally culpable for the lack of
leadership running rampant throughout his league.

Whether it’s Zygi Wilf’s shameful ping-ponging in the Peterson case, Jerry
Richardson’s hypocritical crying fit on domestic violence in relation to
Hardy, or Jim Harbaugh’s confusing bipolar stance on Ray McDonald, all roads
lead back to Park Avenue.

The NFL has fostered this haphazard atmosphere by picking and choosing where
to get involved in regards to off-the-field incidents and that very lack of
consistency over the years is what is fueling the current controversy.

Think about it.

If there was a well-structured process with logical, rational and perhaps most
importantly, dependable outcomes, the criticism may have not dried up
completely but it would certainly lack teeth.

After all, as Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog revealed back in July, arrest
rates among NFL players are actually quite low when compared to national
averages for men in their age range.

Despite empirical evidence, though, “hiding behind due process” is a phrase
that exploded on Twitter over the past few weeks, coined by many to describe
the NFL’s inaction in regards to certain high-profile incidents.

Due process, of course, is supposed to balance the law of the land with the
protection of an individual’s rights and is a core principle of our country’s
democracy, checks and balances that protect not only pariahs like Peterson,
Rice and Hardy but also the average Joe.

And trust me, the minute anyone gets in trouble, it’s a concept that becomes
very important to them.

When you take emotion out of any situation and replace it with logic, most
will realize that “due process” is one of the major reasons why this country
is regarded by so many as the greatest in the world.

Built-in ideals to protect citizens in this country is a cornerstone of it and
when you take a look at news emanating around the world from dozens of
tyrannical governments, that due process marginalized by so many while on a
soapbox is a nice little card to possess. And it shouldn’t be taken lightly no
matter what social reform you might be stumping for.

When it comes to the NFL, however, hiding behind that due process is only a
thing because of Goodell’s erraticism and incongruity in previous personal-
conduct incidents.

The toothpaste is obviously already out of the tube now, but there remains a
rather simple solution to all of the NFL’s current problems.

The first step is admitting the mistake and taking responsibility for all the
inconsistencies of the past while explaining that moving forward, the NFL will
respect due process in all legal instances no matter the emotion or public
outcry.

Once the legal part of any issue has played out, a transparent personal-
conduct policy with well-publicized penalties handed out in a steady fashion
would stem any future judgments or harsh reviews.

It’s also evident Roger Goodell no longer has the credibility to pull that
kind of strategy off, but plenty of others do.

It’s time for Goodell to practice what he has only preached for so many years
— protect the shield.

WEEK 3 (All Times Eastern)

Tampa Bay (0-2) at Atlanta (1-1) (-6 1/2), Thursday, 8:30 p.m. – It’s gotten
late early for Lovie Smith and the Buccaneers. Looking to avoid an 0-3 start,
the Bucs head to the Georgia Dome on a short week against a QB in Matt Ryan,
who is 37-10 as a starter at home, including a 5-1 mark against Tampa Bay with
a 100.6 passer rating.

Falcons 31, Buccaneers 17

San Diego (1-1) at Buffalo (2-0) (-2 1/2), Sunday, 1 p.m. – Fresh off handling
the reigning Super Bowl champions, the Chargers make the difficult trip across
country to take on the surprising 2-0 Bills and the dynamic C.J. Spiller, who
returned a kickoff 102 yards for a touchdown against Miami this past Sunday and
became the first player in more than 40 years to record a 100-tard KR touchdown
and 45-yard-or-more run in the same game.

Bills 21, Chargers 17

Baltimore (1-1) (-1 1/2) at Cleveland (1-1), Sunday, 1 p.m. – The old Browns
visit the new Browns in the latest installment of what has been a one-sided
rivalry with the Ravens holding a 22-8 all-time advantage. Joe Flacco,
meanwhile, is 25-13 all-time against AFC North foes, a gaudy record fueled by
his success against Cleveland (11-1 as a starter).

Ravens 23, Browns 16

Tennessee (1-1) at Cincinnati (2-0) (-7), Sunday, 1 p.m. – The Bengals will be
shooting for their 11th consecutive regular-season home win against the
underdog Titans and Jake Locker, who has won three of his past four road
starts. Locker’s counterpart, Andy Dalton, is now 32-18 as Cincinnati’s
starting QB, the highest winning percentage of any signal caller in Bengals
history.

Bengals 34, Titans 17

Green Bay (1-1) at Detroit (1-1) (-1 1/2), Sunday, 1 p.m. – One of football’s
oldest rivalries renews in the Motor City with the Lions trying to figure out
a way to become competitive in the series again. Green Bay has won 15 of the
last 17 between the two teams and Aaron Rodgers is 9-0 with 19 TDs and
just four interceptions in Detroit.

Packers 31, Lions 28

Indianapolis (0-2) (-6 1/2) at Jacksonville (0-2), Sunday, 1 p.m. – Andrew
Luck isn’t used to losing two in a row and don’t expect him to get comfy with
three straight. The Colts’ QB has won five of his past six starts on the road
against AFC South foes and the Jags don’t look all that competitive.

Colts 31, Jaguars 14

Oakland (0-2) at New England (1-1) (-14), Sunday, 1 p.m. – Let’s see, you have
the head coach with 200 wins in Bill Belichick and a QB with 149 in Tom Brady
versus a rookie who has never won in the NFL (Derek Carr). Making the Raiders
a two-TD underdog is being kind.

Patriots 34, Raiders 9

Minnesota (1-1) at New Orleans (0-2) (-9 1/2), Sunday, 1 p.m. – A week from
hell for the scandal-stained Vikings will seem like a picnic when they
actually get to New Orleans against a desperate Saints team. Sean Payton’s
club has won eight in a row at the Superdome and Drew Brees has completed 76-
of-107 passes for 846 yards with nine TDs and no picks in his last three starts
against Minny.

Saints 41, Vikings 13

Houston (2-0) (-2) at New York Giants (0-2), Sunday, 1 p.m. – If Eli Manning
likes to turn it over when J.J. Watt is out of town, imagine what will happen
with the All-Pro in MetLife Stadium. Watt, football’s best defensive player,
has 8 1/2 sacks, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries in his past
nine games against NFC competition. Expect the Texans to surpass their entire
win total from last season in three weeks.

Texans 23, Giants 13

Washington (1-1) at Philadelphia (2-0) (-6 1/2), Sunday, 1 p.m. – DeSean
Jackson returns to Philadelphia, the city where he amassed 356 receptions for
6,117 yards and scored 39 TDs in six seasons. Jackson, however, is dealing
with an AC joint issue in his shoulder and will be working with backup Kirk
Cousins after Robert Griffin III went down with a dislocated ankle on Sunday.
The Eagles are 2-0, becoming the first team in NFL history to start that way
after trailing by 14-or-more points in the second half of each game.
Philadelphia has outscored its opposition 58-10 in the second half this
season.

Eagles 33, Redskins 24

Dallas (1-1) (-1) at St. Louis (1-1), Sunday, 1 p.m. – Tony Romo will aim to
continue his success against the Rams. The Cowboys’ signal caller has never
lost to St. Louis (3-0), and has thrown eight TD passes and just one
interception with a 120.1 passer rating against the Rams.

Cowboys 21, Rams 13

San Francisco (1-1) (-3) at Arizona (2-0), Sunday, 4:05 p.m. – The 49ers will
be trying to bounce back from a late-game implosion against Chicago in the
Levi’s Field opener, San Francisco has won four straight over the Cards and QB
Colin Kaepernick is 3-0 with a 106.4 passer rating against Arizona, which may
be without Carson Palmer again (nerve damage, shoulder).

49ers 24, Cardinals 21

Denver (2-0) at Seattle (1-1) (-5), Sunday, 4:25 p.m. – For only the sixth
time in history, the regular season will feature a rematch of the previous
Super Bowl. The Broncos, who improved to 2-0 with a 24-17 win over Kansas
City, will look to avenge last year’s 43-8 loss in Super Bowl XLVIII, an
unlikely scenario considering Seattle is 18-1 at home with Russell Wilson
playing QB.

Seahawks 31, Broncos 21

Kansas City (0-2) at Miami (1-1) (-4 1/2), Sunday, 4:25 p.m. – With injuries
to bell cows Knowshon Moreno and Jamaal Charles, this game could be about
which QB makes the fewest amount of mistakes, and that would trend toward the
Chiefs’ Alex Smith, who has won nine of past 13 September starts.

Chiefs 17, Dolphins 16

Pittsburgh (1-1) at Carolina (2-0) (-3), Sunday 8:30 p.m. – The Greg Hardy
issue hasn’t affected the Panthers yet. With or without its star pass rusher,
Carolina sports one of the best front sevens in all of football and has won
eight straight regular-season home games. Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger
is 2-0 in his career versus the Panthers and comes in 313 passing yards shy of
35,000 for his career.

Panthers 20, Steelers 9

Chicago (1-1) at New York Jets (1-1) (-2 1/2), Monday, 8:30 p.m. – In Week 2,
both the Bears and Jets were involved in dramatic comebacks. Chicago erased a
17-0 deficit to defeat the 49ers, 28-20. New York, however, watched the Packers
come back from a 21-3 hole as the Jets dropped a 31-24 decision at Lambeau
Field. The Bears go as QB Jay Cutler goes. He threw four TDs and had a 119.2
passer rating on Sunday and his teams are 29-3 when he crosses the 100.0
barrier.

Bears 28, Jets 23