Broncos, Panthers are the pick |

Broncos, Panthers are the pick

Nevada Appeal Betting Columnist

Criticizing NFL referees is like shooting fish in a barrel. NFL refs clearly continue to be the worst of all professional sports.

From overturning obvious interceptions after booth reviews, to not seeing fumbles, to calling bogus pass interference penalties and picking up flags, for one weekend we might have just seen the most incorrect officiating in the history of pro football.

Pittsburgh linebacker Joey Porter might have had a case when he challenged the integrity of the referee in his game. For once the NFL confessed that a key fourth quarter interception should not have been overruled by replay.

So now that it has been established by everyone including the league that terrible wrongs are being committed by referees, how can teams and loyal fans help these disasters from ever happening again? How can we possibly find out if an NFL ref is cheating, or if he is being just plain stupid?

Either way, the last thing we need to do is ask for anything that puts more power in the referees’ hands. That means that the elimination of instant replay is necessary. Booth reviews are just another way to give power to incompetents and cheats who can determine the outcomes of important games.

We don’t need lawyers, doctors, and accountants showing up once a week to officiate vital playoff contests. Take the millions of dollars being wasted on replay and hire full-time officials. They could ref games in the NFL, for NFL Europe, in Japan, Mexico, etc., and in the meantime attend team practices and watch film in order to improve.

It would involve a lot of travel, but the idea is worth a shot, and it might even work. Instant replay definitely does not.

If there is cheating going on in the NFL, teams and fans are simply at the mercy of the league and its refs.

And, by the way, do you really think the NFL would have admitted to a mistake if the Steelers hadn’t won Sunday’s game anyway? A confession then would have only added insult to Pittsburgh’s injury.

NFL Conference Championships – Home teams lately are 7-9 in Conference Championships, so at least one road team should win outright.

Pittsburgh at Denver – Statistically these clubs appear to be about equal, and they even tied for third in the NFL in scoring defense. The difference could come down to coaching, home field, and fatigue.

Pittsburgh head coach Bill Cowher is 1-4 in AFC Championships, albeit all of them at home, while Denver’s Mike Shanahan has won two Super Bowls.

Although the Steelers are excellent road warriors, Denver is a mile-high 4-0 while hosting AFC Championships, and currently riding an 11-game home winning streak.

After two emotional wins at division rival Cincinnati and No. 1 seed Indianapolis, it would seem a lot to ask for Pittsburgh to win again on the road.

The bet is on Denver -3 1/2 and Under the 42 point total.

Carolina at Seattle – Last week Seattle looked about as terrible as one can and still win by 10 points, with poor special teams, three lost fumbles, and MVP Shaun Alexander’s concussion. Having a starting offensive lineman arrested this week for supposedly choking his girlfriend was definitely a distraction.

The combination of Carolina head coach John Fox and quarterback Jake Delhomme is 5-1 in the playoffs, with a Super Bowl appearance, and Delhomme currently the highest-rated passer in NFL postseason history. Wide receiver Steve Smith is the best player on the field, and Nick Goings has proven to be an excellent back-up running back.

The pick here is Carolina +4 and on the money line, and we’ll try Over 43 1/2.

Super Bowl – As predicted here, favored Indianapolis did not survive, but neither did predicted New England. Today, the pick of Seattle to make it doesn’t look strong either. The prediction now is for Denver to defeat Carolina.