The Niners, Bears and Steelers notwithstanding — and particularly excluding their starting QBs, Alex Smith, Jay Cutler and Ben Roethlisberger — it is probably safe to say no one else was hurting more after all three QBs were knocked out of Week 10 with injuries than a pair of television networks, NBC and ESPN.
Now, let’s not feel too sorry for the big wigs from these two major networks, as I’m guessing they’ll be able to weather the potential ratings hits they’re inevitably going to take after the best one-two prime-time punch of the 2012 NFL season lost a great deal of its luster.
The Ravens heading to Pittsburgh Sunday night to renew arguably the NFL’s most hated rivalry, before Chicago heads westward to San Francisco for a marquee matchup of two of the league’s very best defenses — I’m getting excited just typing it.
Byron Leftwich, Jason Campbell and Colin Kapernick are suddenly pivotal figures in the clashes, with the status of Smith (concussion), Cutler (concussion) and Roethlisberger (shoulder), respectively, very much in question.
I hope NFL fans enjoyed last Sunday night’s defensive battle between the Texans and Bears.
I, for one, loved watching and covering the Houston-Chicago defensive collision, a refreshing throwback to the way things used to be. But it was hard not to feel like the fans were sort of jobbed, with the sideways rain and wind completely deterring both sides from showing their best offensive form.
It's about to happen again.
At the risk of sounding crass, let me emphasize that I am sympathetic towards these QBs — and their health obviously comes before anything else.
This is simply another case of rotten luck.
It doesn’t change the fact that both of these games still carry significant postseason ramifications. All four of these clubs are in serious fights for playoff positioning, with the Steelers and Ravens getting ready to engage in fisticuffs to help decide the division.
It’s just that we will apparently have to continue waiting to find out if Chicago’s offense is ever going to get out of neutral. The MVP discussion involving Big Ben will have to be put on hold at the very least. Fans might not get to see Alex Smith’s impressive accuracy this season — and the silly sacks he sometimes takes that contribute to his completion percentage of 70.
The other side of the coin, though, is that all of these teams, which have designs on playing in New Orleans the first Sunday in February, could be about to face the type of adversity every club that wants to be a Super Bowl champion must face over the course of the season.
The good news, I guess, is that they’re all fully capable of pounding the rock and playing a violent, exciting brand of defense. As it stands now, we’re likely to see quite a bit of game managing and three yards and a cloud of dust in prime time again this weekend.