OK, Roger Goodell. The jokes over. Can you pay the real referees now?
After one week of preseason football it was apparent that these "replacement refs" aren't going to cut it. The real refs want a little bit extra pay, but t Goodell and the NFL are being stingy as usual.
So will the fans end up losing out, or will there be an agreement soon?
You can add USA TODAY to the Patriots' undefeated season bandwagon.
In its annual projections before NFL teams report to training camps this week, USA TODAY has the Patriots going 16-0 in the regular season, then beating the AFC West's L.A. Chargers and Oakland Raiders in the playoffs before capping a perfect 19-0 season with a Super Bowl 52 victory over Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in Minneapolis.
Here's their Pats' regular-season rundown from USA TODAY NFL writer Nate Davis:
New England Patriots (16-0): Is it bold? Sure. Kinda. But it's not like Tom Brady hasn't gone 16-0 before ... (and, really, wouldn't he and Bill Belichick secretly love to add 19-0 to their otherwise incomparable resumes?). And from the FWIW department, Brady went 14-1 last season and appears to be surrounded by an even better cast now, especially if Rob Gronkowski is, in fact, back to 100%.
Pats wide receiver Julian Edelman called the 19-0 talk "stupid" last week. Bill Belichick is almost guaranteed to dismiss it if and when he's asked about it this week.