The NFL’s decision to fine Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin $100,000 for his interference – or potential interference – on Jacoby Jones’ kickoff return Thanksgiving night at Baltimore was on the mark. Considering Tomlin makes $5.75 million a year with the Steelers, the fine could have been greater and no one would have blinked an eye.
But the league’s statement that it could revisit the issue in the offseason and possibly take or adjust the Steelers’ draft picks seems heavy handed. The NFL should announce whether it’s taking a pick or not. And it should be based on what occurred in this situation, not what happens in the future – if the Steelers finish with a better record than Baltimore or make the playoffs.
That seems like double jeopardy.
Whether or not you believe Tomlin purposely attempted to interfere with the play, it’s inarguable that he should not have been standing where he was. And the argument that all NFL head coaches wander onto the field at times – though valid – doesn’t hold up in this situation.
This was about what happened on a Thursday night in Baltimore. And in that instance, Tomlin was guilty of being where he should not have been, something which could have affected the outcome of a game and a playoff berth.
But it did not impact the outcome of the game, and if the league decides to take away a draft pick, it would mark the first time in NFL history that a team was penalized a pick for something that might have occurred.
Despite losing that game, the Steelers remain alive in the AFC playoff race with just two teams ahead of them for the final wildcard spot. One of those teams, the Miami Dolphins, visits Pittsburgh today.
The Steelers are banged up on the offensive line and that could be a factor against a very good Miami front seven that has 37 sacks.
Ben Roethlisberger has been sacked just one time in the past three games, including none in the past two, a streak that will be tested today.
But while they can get after the passer, the Dolphins also allow plenty of pressure on their own quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, a second-year player, has been sacked 45 times, an average of once every 10 pass attempts. And Tannehill said this week that he’s never played a game in snow.
The Steelers, behind breakout linebacker Jason Worilds, have been doing a better job of pressuring the quarterback in recent weeks.
The Steelers are a 3-point favorites against a Miami team that is 3-6 since its 3-0 start.
The Steelers, meanwhile, have won five of eight games since starting 0-4.
Take the Steelers, 24-16
Dallas (pick’em) at Chicago
Every time you think the Cowboys have it figured out, they flop.
Take Chicago, 27-24
Oakland (plus 2) at New York Jets
I know Oakland struggles on the East Coast, but should the Jets be favored over anyone?
Take the Raiders, 20-17
Carolina (plus 4) at New Orleans
Saints were stuck in Seattle following their Monday night thrashing at the hands of the Seahawks until Tuesday afternoon. They should be good and salty.
Take New Orleans, 27-20
Seattle (plus 3) at San Francisco
The Seahawks smoked the 49ers, 29-3, in Seattle earlier this season. This game isn’t in Seattle.
Take San Francisco, 21-17
Indianapolis (plus 5)at Cincinnati
The Bengals have been rock solid at home.
Take Cincinnati, 26-18
Detroit (plus 2) at Philadelphia
The Lions haven’t been trustworthy on the road.
Take Philadelphia, 28-24
Kansas City (minus 3)at Washington
The Redskins are a mess.
Take Kansas City, 24-20
Minnesota (plus 7) at Baltimore
The Vikings are still playing musical quarterbacks. Even Adrian Peterson has trouble overcoming that.
Take Minnesota to cover in a 23-17 loss
Tennessee (plus 12) at Denver
Broncos can help the Steelers with a win.
Take Denver, 31-17
St. Louis (plus 6) at Arizona
The Cardinals are on a roll behind a rejuvenated Carson Palmer.
Take Arizona, 27-16
New York Giants (plus 3) at San Diego
The Giants are 5-2 since their 0-5 start. Make that 5-3.
Take San Diego, 27-23
Buffalo (plus 2) at Tampa Bay
The Bills and Bucs are playing out the string.
Take Tampa Bay, 23-20
Atlanta (plus 3) at Green Bay
The Packers haven’t won without Aaron Rodgers, who won’t play again this week.
Take Atlanta, 24-20
Cleveland (plus 11) at New England
Jason Campbell is back under center for Cleveland. Unless he’s suddenly become the second coming of Otto Graham, take the home team.
Take New England, 31-13
Last Week: 8-5 ATS; 10-3 Straight up
Overall: 73-103-7 ATS 111-69-1 Straight up
F. Dale Lolley can be reached at email@example.com.