THE COUCH SLOUCH

NFL expansion is too big to fail

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In a clandestine meeting at a Doubletree by Hilton conference room in Grand Rapids, Mich., in late March 1987, Pete Rozelle, Paul Tagliabue and Roger Goodell secretly hatched a plan for worldwide, around-the-clock NFL expansion, according to multiple sources at or near the gathering who are unauthorized to speak publicly about the undertaking because they might not even know what they're talking about.

And, from all indications, this covert NFL manifesto is now in its final stages.

Here is what the NFL is considering for as early as the 2021 season, according to a report from cbssports.com's Jason La Canfora:

-- Add a 17th game to the regular season and a second bye week.

-- Additional game for each team would be played out-of-market.

-- Out-of-market games every week internationally or in U.S. cities without an NFL team.

-- Add a wild-card playoff game in each conference.

-- Move the Super Bowl to end of February.

Impressively, the NFL is considering doing all of this in the face of growing science about neurological damage to its players and growing resistance from parents to allow their kids to play football.

Then again, the NFL still retains a pervasive hold on much of the sporting public. Heck, the NFL could've sold DirecTV Sunday ticket packages to passengers on the Titanic.

Although the NFL has not added a team since the Houston Texans became its 32nd franchise in 2002, the league has continued to expand in other ways, including scheduling games as many as four days a week and playing multiple games annually in England and Mexico.

Frankly, I believe the NFL should stop its tippy-toe crawl toward global domination and rather stomp its feet en route to replicating the early-20th-century British Empire.

My NFL plan is bolder, brasher and more in line with Jerry Jones' wildest, non-Jason Garrett hopes:

-- A 32-game regular-season schedule.

-- Expand to 48 teams.

-- Back legislation to literally change the calendar to better oblige NFL scheduling needs.

Let's start with this 17th game the league is pondering. One more game? What's that? Reminds me of the U.S. Postal Service upping postage two or three cents at a time. JUST GO FOR IT; double the length of the season, for goodness sakes. More replays! More comebacks! More records! More injuries!

I mean, if they had already done this, Matthew Stafford could've made it to 100,000 passing yards by now without ever winning a playoff game.

By growing to 48 franchises, the NFL can put teams in London, Mexico City, Moscow, Hong Kong, Montreal, Pyongyang, San Antonio, Anchorage, San Diego, Kenosha, Wis., Tunica, Miss., Trinidad and Tobago, Paris (France), Paris (Texas) and Monowi, Neb.

I'd also contemplate taking the Jaguars out of Jacksonville, because nobody ever goes to Jacksonville unless they are already in Jacksonville.

To accommodate this bloated enterprise – and allow the NFL to better command the nation's TV programming – the key would be to replace the seven-day, 52-week year with a six-day, 60-week year.*

(* If you give Donald Trump a team while he is still in the White House – Eric can run it – he will back this calendar change with or without congressional approval.)

Just get rid of Tuesdays – Tuesdays are for losers – and then the NFL could broadcast games on Sundays, Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays; this would leave Wednesdays for ESPN to run an all-day NFL studio bonanza blowout in which 24 of its talking heads debate Stephen A. Smith one hour at a time on various league topics.

Sure, some snowflakes likely will whine about player safety concerns over a nearly year-round season. Not a problem. Through a unique fan promotion that will ensure sellouts every week, if the last available player on the home-team roster gets hurt, one eligible season ticket holder's name will be pulled from a hat and play the rest of the game!

And with in-game betting apps on the horizon, this means you'll be able to watch, gamble on and even play in an NFL game all for the price of a ticket. Wow.

Ask The Slouch

Q. Can you explain to a 78-year-old man the rationale of a player celebrating a touchdown by impersonating a dog peeing? (Joseph Dreyer; La Porte, Tex.)

A. What, you'd prefer he impersonate a dog pooping?

Q. Do NFL players really pin their ears back? (Mark Cohen; Gibsonia, Pa.)

A. Not since Odell Beckham Jr. was fined by the NFL for nonstandard pins.

Q. Using your rapier-like wit, could you discuss the Washington R*dsk*ns? (William Case; Sterling, Va.)

A. They stink.

Q. Why is revenge a dish best served cold? (Bob Lipman; Spokane, Wash.)

A. Search me – I microwave everything.

Q. If Russia is banned from the 2020 Summer Olympics, do you think President Trump will pardon them? (John Oetting; Columbia, Md.)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just email asktheslouch@aol.com and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!


Bears 31, Cowboys 24

Cowboys vs Bears: Good, bad and ugly

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In a must win game, the Cowboys did the unthinkable. They lost to a team with a quarterback who may not even be a starter next year. The game on paper didn't look bad, for the Cowboys only lost by seven points. But the game was dominated by the Bears after the Cowboys scored their opening touchdown. This was very similar to their game against Buffalo last Thursday. The Cowboys started hot then faded into obscurity as the game progressed.

The Good

- Ezekiel Elliott was once again the best player on the Cowboys offense. Sure Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup were able to each acquire 6 catches for 83 yards and 109 yards respectively, but most of their receptions came in garbage time when the Bears where playing a prevent defense, Elliot on the other hand was doing his best to carry the Cowboys offensively. He gained 81 yards on 19 carries and scored two touchdowns. However, his efforts weren't enough, for the Cowboys offense looked stagnant when Elliott wasn't being fed the ball.

- Just like last week, the Cowboys offense did not get off to a slow start. On their opening drive, the boys looked like they had game planed properly for the Bears' defense, and Dak Prescott was able to march down the field with ease. This lead to a touchdown run by Elliott and gave the Cowboys a quick 7-0 lead. After this drive though it's as if Prescott and the Cowboys couldn't get first downs or convert simple offensive plays. The defense was able to pitch a shutout until garbage time in the 4th quarter.

- The Cowboys' defense was not great either giving up 31 points to the Bears. However, the one Cowboy who could not be blamed on defense was Jaylon Smith. He was second on the team with 8 tackles and had two miraculous stops in the end zone to prevent the bears from scoring a touchdown twice. He has become the leader of the Cowboys defense and plays his heart out every game. He has stepped up the most since Leighton Vander Esh's injury, and Jerry Jones is starting to look like a smart man for giving Smith his extension.

The bad

- Do not let Prescott's numbers fool you. Most of his completions came in the 4th quarter with the Bears playing prevent defense. Prescott looked great in the opening drive, but afterwards looked as though he couldn't quarterback to save his life. Just like last week when the Cowboys played the Bills, Prescott and the Cowboys looked atrocious after their initial score. Prescott went 1-9 after their first touchdown and did not look good until the 4th quarter. Troy Aikman said it best when he exclaimed that Prescott's numbers were "fake stats." His numbers suggest he had a good not great game, but to those who watched the game know Prescott had a Blake Bortles like game in which he didn't accumulate good QB numbers until garbage time. This is three subpar games in a row for Prescott, and if he is not careful, he can kiss that long-term extension good bye.

- Brett Maher wasn't terrible like he was last week, but he wasn't good either. He missed one field goal on Thursday from over 40 yards for the 6th time this season. He is now 1-7 on field goal attempts from 40 yards or more. He has now missed 10 field goals this season total, more than any kicker in the last four years according to FOX Sports. His job security now comes into question, and it's easy to see the Cowboys replace Maher this offseason. The Cowboys have reportedly worked out multiple kickers before this week, so It would also not be surprising if Maher is replaced before the season is over.

- There was only one thing worse than the Cowboys' offense and that was their defense. As previously mentioned, Jaylon Smith was by far the best player on defense, but everyone else was pretty much a no show on defense. They allowed the Bears to score 31 points and Mitch Trubisky looked like a Pro-Bowl caliber quarterback for the first time this season. To put some perspective on his performance, Trubisky's QBR was 80.6. He is averaging a QBR around 40 this season, meaning he played twice as good as he was expected to against this Cowboys' defense. In addition to their inability to stop Trubisky, the defense as a whole had an exceptionally hard time tackling all night, which lead to the Bears gaining extra yardage and extra opportunities to score. Injuries to Vander Esh and Jeff Heath have derailed this Cowboys' defense, and their matchups between the Rams and the Eagles don't bode well for this struggling defense.

The Ugly

- Costly penalties killed the Cowboys Thursday night. Xavier Woods got called for holding on Allen Robinson on a 3rd and 9. This would have forced the Bears to kick a long field goal on 4th down, but instead the Bears scored shortly thereafter to go up 24-7. Michael Bennet also got called for an avoidable penalty. On 3rd and 2 in Cowboys' territory he jumped off sides which caused the Bears to get an easy first down. This penalty also resulted in a Bears touchdown. In total, the Cowboys had 6 penalties for 52 yards. That can be blamed on bad coaching and a lack of discipline.

- The ugliest part of the game took place on the sidelines. Jason Garrett didn't look liked he cared that he was losing to the Bears. He looked as though as if he knew this would be his last season with the Cowboys, so he is just going through the motions of his job until his inevitable departure comes to fruition. The Players on the sideline didn't seem emotional affected either, but rather in shock. Michael Bennett's face after the bears scored their third touchdown was pure shock. It's clear the Jason Garrett has lost the locker room, and his players respect.

- Let's face it, the Cowboys don't even look like a playoff contending team. If it wasn't for the fact that they play in a bad division, the Cowboys could have been written off after their loss to the Jets. Time and time again they constantly fall under pressure, and when their games become must win games, they fold like a house of cards. Despite all of the talent this roster has, they have continued to underperform and shot themselves in the foot time and time again. This was a must win game, but for a multitude of reasons the Cowboys just can't seem to win the big game when it matters the most. To quote a famous ESPN personality "They are an accident waiting to happen. What can go wrong will go wrong for the Dallas Cowboys."

Even though the Cowboys have lost three games in a row, they are still in first place in their division due the NFC East being a joke, They look to defend their pity title when they square off against the playoff contending Rams next Sunday in what looks to be a lopsided affair. The Rams have bounced bag since their slow start, and look to claim a Wild Card spot as the season comes to a close. It will be a rematch of the 2019 NFC Divisional Playoff Round matchup, but this Cowboys' team is a lot different for last year's team.

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