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Sunday NFL Thoughts: Growing Support for Bill Belichick's Review Policy

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Injuries, Reviews, DeflateGate, and the Patriots running game.

1. Earlier this season, we highlighted the fact that all four of New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick's pre-2014 rule change requests were under increased focus. Two had been implemented (raise the height of the goal posts, move back the extra point line), one is in process (goal line cameras), and the fourth was the ability for coaches to challenge all plays, including penalties.

Well, the Packers just beat the Lions on a last second Hail Mary that was only possible because the officials determined that this:

was deserving of a facemask penalty when time ran out, giving the Packers 15 extra yards and an extra play to try to win the game. Well, the Packers converted the Hail Mary on the back of this call, preventing the first Lions sweep of Green Bay since 1991.

Under Bill Belichick's rule proposal, the Lions would have been able to challenge whether or not that was a facemask penalty (or since it was under 2 minutes, the penalty would be reviewed in the booth), and then the game would have been over.

It looks like there is growing support for Bill Belichick's proposal. If Belichick proposes something, he's probably right.

2. There have been 24 games that featured an opening kick off temperature of 50 degrees or below. That's more than enough opportunity for the NFL to come out an announce their halftime pressure findings. Maybe they'll wait until the end of the season, but the NFL absolutely owes it to fans of the game to make all of their findings public.

Of course, the NFL hired the lawyer that Exxon is using to defend the company's alleged burial of "warnings on global warming by the company's own scientists", one Mr. Ted Wells, so it wouldn't be a surprise if the NFL only published their findings of a 70 degree game at Mile High and closed the case.

As an aside, the NFL also hired Paul Clement, who has argued more cases (most of them extremely controversial) in front of the Supreme Court than any other lawyer since 2000, and also represented the NFL during the lock out. Clement earns a ludicrous $1,350 per hour. That puts him above pretty much every single lawyer in the United States, so NFL's Troy Vincent can take a long walk off a short pier when he criticizes the NFLPA spending to defend the players.

3. Coldplay will be the Super Bowl Halftime performance when the New England Patriots take on the Carolina Panthers in San Francisco. Here's a list of the famous folks at the Patriots prior Super Bowls:

Opponent National Anthem Halftime
Rams Mariah Carey U2
Panthers Beyonce Janet Jackson
Eagles US Military Choirs Paul McCartney
Giants I Jordin Sparks Tom Petty
Giants II Kelly Clarkson Madonna
Seahawks Idina Menzel Katy Perry

The actual official list of the 2003 Super Bowl is "Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake, Jessica Simpson, P. Diddy, Kid Rock, Nelly," and more, which is totally wild. The 2011 Super Bowl featured "Madonna, LMFAO, Nikki Minaj, M.I.A., and Cee Lo Green."

I feel like Coldplay lacks the general "pump up" or "rock n' roll" that these other performers can offer, but there's literally zero chance they don't either start or finish or have Viva La Vida on replay during their set.

4. Love Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger saying, "I'll play through any injury but brain," which is in stark contrast to Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola saying "I’d rather take a shot to the head as opposed to the knee", via the Herald's great Jeff Howe.

Now this isn't to say Amendola is wrong; his point is that you rarely see a player's season ended due to a concussion, while leg injuries end years on a weekly basis. No one wants an injury, but you'll be hard pressed to find an active player that would take an injury to a limb over a head injury, with full knowledge of the effects. In a league where toughness is revered, and starting jobs are won and lost on a weekly basis, a head injury rarely results in a player being replaced in the long term, while other injuries lead to opportunities for the Tom Bradys of the world to Wally Pip the players in the tub.

From the sidelines, it's a really simple argument to say your head is worth so much more once your football career ends, but the players- especially receivers running across the middle of the field in traffic- aren't afforded that line of thinking, or else it could affect their career in an entirely different way.

5. And with that, hopefully Amendola is able to take the field this week because Tom Brady needs someone to throw to, even against a porous Eagles defense. Rob Gronkowski (#1), Julian Edelman (#2), Dion Lewis (#4), and Amendola (#5) all rank amongst the Patriots top skill players in Yards from Scrimmage. #3 is LeGarrette Blount who has really struggled to move the ball since the departure of Lewis.

The New England offensive line has only gotten healthier in the past three weeks, with the returns of Marcus Cannon, Sebastian Vollmer, and Bryan Stork to the line-ups, but Blount has averaged 15 carries for 50 yards over those games, which is pretty much unacceptable after averaging nearly 75 yards on 16 carries in the prior six weeks (including a no show against the Jets).

What's the issue? Is it the lack of receivers allowing defenders to stack the box? Probably. But the coaching staff needs to find Blount's mojo, especially if Amendola isn't ready to shoulder a full load.