What did NFL bettors learn in Week 4, and how can it help them prepare for making their picks and predictions in Week 5. Get the dirty truth here with Swinging Johnson, as he goes over all things NFL, and tells it how it is.

           

Referees return

NFL RefereePerhaps the biggest story of Week 4 of the NFL season was the return of the regular officials subsequent to a disastrous officiating call at the end of the Monday night game between the Packers and the Seahawks. Unless you’ve been holed up in a tree stand somewhere on Mars, you no doubt understand that the decision to successfully negotiate and strike a deal with the NFL referees union was galvanized when a blown call against the Packers caused the wrong team to prevail. 

While NFL fans expect calls to go awry and bad officiating to rear its ugly head once in a while, we can at least take comfort that all touchdowns are now automatically reviewed and the final call will ultimately be the correct call. Not so on Monday night of Week 3 when a Hail Mary launched by rookie Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson to the left corner of the endzone was correctly deemed an interception by one official but ruled a completed touchdown pass by another. 

The villain in question Wayne Elliot, was assigned as the head referee due to his illustrious pedigree as the Executive Secretary for the Austin Football Officials Association. The esteemed executive secretary should be plying his trade in a neatly tailored knitted skirt taking dictation for Roger Goodell rather donning zebra stripes and masquerading as an NFL official. Not only did he miss the blatant pass interference call on Seahawks receiver Golden Tate just prior to the inaccurate reception but he had the opportunity to correct his erroneous assumption that declared the ball was caught simultaneously and the tie would go to the runner, or in this case the offensive receiver. Elliot stuck his head under the hood, watched the replay and incredibly still stuck to his squirt guns. Couldn’t the replay official in the booth overturn it or at least politely articulate to Elliot why his call was bogus?

The outcome drew an avalanche of criticism and outrage directed at Goodell and the owners. The owners pretended as though a deal with the referees union was in the works and this Monday night debacle had nothing to do with the timely return of the regular officials only three days later. Remember kids, billionaires never make mistakes. Just ask Roger Goodell.

Cinderella Cardinals still undefeated

Kevin kolbOne of the best stories of the young season is undoubtedly the emergence of a perennial NFL cellar dweller, the Arizona Cardinals. The offense is nothing to write home about and quarterback Kevin Kolb's offensive line did little of anything other than help him back to his feet and maybe dust off his uniform. Kolb was swarmed by a tenacious Miami pass rush and sacked eight times on Sunday. The Cardinals could not even advance a running game to take the heat off of Kolb as they amassed only 28 yards on the ground throughout the entire game. 

But when it came to crunch time these Cardinals did not wilt under the desert heat. Arizona's bend but don't break defense was in evidence as they surrendered 431 yards through the air but limited Miami's Ryan Tannehill to only one touchdown. The defense forced two fumbles and recovered both while picking off the young Miami signal caller twice. After the dust had settled, Arizona quashed the spunky Miami Dolphins with a 24-21 OT victory.

Arizona has now defeated two opponents you would expect them to beat in Seattle and Miami. Okay so maybe I convinced myself the preseason buzz was a bit more optimistic than it actually was because the Cardinals actually closed as three point home underdogs in their opening game against the Seahawks but won the contest 20-16. We chalked that up to a gritty effort but they then defeated the defending AFC champs the New England Patriots 20-18 in Foxboro as fourteen point road dogs and came right back the following week with a dominating performance over Philadelphia where they trounced the Eagles 27-6. 

After facing a team like the Dolphins who are bent on proving people wrong, the Cardinals had enough fortitude to stay the course and believed that nothing is impossible no matter the circumstances. Well, they rallied and nipped the Fish on Sunday and stand as only one of three remaining undefeated teams in the NFL. Are they for real? I have my doubts but the most important thing is that Ken Whisenhunt's boys don't seem to have any.

The Cardinals face the Rams this Thursday, and SBR has already posted it's early thoughts and picks on this game. Be sure to check it out.

Another underdog story in the making?

While the Arizona Cardinals have grabbed all the headlines and have become legitimate giant slayers it should be noted that there is another team slowly creeping up in the standings and may be yet another Cinderella in the making. After grinding their way to an overtime victory in Week 1 over the weak-kneed Jacksonville Jaguars and then losing 23-20 to the Indianapolis Colts the following week, some folks around Minnesota were just happy that the Vikings would not go winless in 2012.

Fast forward to Week 5 and Christian Ponder now looks as cool as the other side of the pillow while the Vikings special teams have suddenly blossomed into opportunistic showstoppers. The defense is solid and even Adrian Peterson appears to be getting on track as he eclipsed 100 yards on the ground for the first time in almost a year. The word around Minneapolis is...look out! 

A not so heavenly start for the Saints

The Boys on the Bayou may be winless going into Week 5 but they are not your typical cellar dweller. Drew Brees and the Saints currently rank 3rd in the league in passing but a porous defense continues to be the bane of their existence. 

On Sunday New Orleans traveled to Lambeau Field and almost came away with a victory but alas it was not to be as Aaron Rodgers had one more bullet left in the chamber when he struck to Jordy Nelson with seven minutes remaining and hung on for a 28-27 victory. It has been that kind of a year for the scandal plagued franchise and though this team needs an overhaul defensively they are far too talented on the offensive side of the ball to remain winless for much longer. They get their shot to break the curse when they host the Chargers next week.

Until Next Week

Well that's it boys. Another slate of games in the books and we'll be talking about some more great matchups next week after they happen because when you're a Monday morning quarterback, 20/20 hindsight makes it all seem so easy.