COLTING IT CLOSE: Indianapolis needed an overtime, official-reviewed touchdown to dismiss the Titans. Photo courtesy Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Each week, the NFL storyline changes. If each play is a verse, each week is a chapter, and each season a book. As with any good story, the trends change and new plots develop. But, it’s important to look beyond the score box when taking a peek at each NFL week. Here are some things that stuck out this past week.

Carolina Cryin’

Another week, another Carolina loss, another bit of interesting postgame commentary out of the Panthers camp.

After last week’s all too entertaining Sweetheart Suggestion Box talk, now wide receiver Steve Smith says the losing is getting tiresome.

Tiresome? You’re tired of losing ALREADY? It’s only Week 8! I got news for you, pal: there’s a lot more in store for this club. The defense is atrocious (see: Chicago’s last drive) leaving the offense needing to put up 40 points a game just to keep pace. The problem with THAT is the second something goes wrong on offense, their supposed leader will start pouting.

Smith also said that he thought a tradition was growing but he’s not sure which way. I don’t know exactly what he means by that, but the only tradition I’m seeing in Carolina is playing the blame game once the football game is over.

There are so many people being thrown under the bus in Charlotte, the local court system must have a serious backlog in vehicular manslaughter cases. This locker room is the antithesis of one that gels well with one another and several moves are going to have to be made in the offseason (if not sooner) to clean house and get a group that works well together.


Scott Heavey/Getty Images

European Football Sucks

No, that’s not a dig on soccer. What I’m saying is I can’t understand the concept behind the NFL’s International Series.

First off, one game per regular season is not a series. In fact, it’s pretty much the only way it could NOT be a series. But that’s neither here nor there.

What really bugs me is the product the NFL sends overseas. The league is convinced that the sport’s popularity is surging internationally and bringing American football over to other continents is the best way to capitalize on that momentum.

The issue there is these games we’re bringing our friends across the pond are horrendous. Did you watch that Patriots/Rams game? Of course you didn’t because every single other game on Sunday was better. In fact, it’s the second time New England was sent overseas to give a doormat squad a whooping.

If this level of competition is creating football fans globally, I’m left to wonder how much faster it could spread if there were some real marquee match ups played abroad. One of the main reasons why that hasn’t happened so far is that the team slated to play a home game essentially has to agree to give it up and have only seven real home games. No team that seriously considers themselves a Super Bowl contender would even consider that.

Throw Away the Throwbacks

In case you missed it, the Steelers had a pretty nice bounce-back game at home against a Redskins team that usually finds themselves in a one-score game as time winds down in the fourth quarter. Instead, Pittsburgh pretty much dominated Washington from start to finish.

I say “in case you missed it” because all anyone wanted to talk about was the Steelers throwback uniforms. Everyone has their own description of the design, and the only way I can label it is “Queer Eye for the Straight Rugby Player”, but the one thing everyone can agree on is that it was an unneeded distraction.

That’s where these uniforms grind my gears. If you want to debate and discuss the look/practicality of uniforms in May or June when the NFL is at its dead point, go right ahead. Hell, I’ll probably even join you. But in the middle of Week 8, all it does is put an annoying tangent on the national football conversation.

Is it a little petty and nitpicky? Maybe. But what is the point of these throwback and alternate uniforms? Do we really care if Pittsburgh, whose logo hasn’t changed in so long IS a throwback in and of itself, decides to pay homage to a season where they went 2-10?

Some of the uniforms are okay. The Buccaneers’ creamsicle get-up  is fine and if Washington wants to look like Florida State from time to time I don’t care. But every once in a while, whether it was this week’s Pittsburgh jerseys or those awful brown and yellow outfits the Broncos wore once, an NFL franchise throws out a real stinker.

So, consequently, we need to forget about them altogether. If you’re home, wear the home jersey. If you’re away, wear the away jersey. Keep it simple, stupid.

Bye, Bye Pink

On a final note, last night’s Monday Night Football marked the last football game that’ll be played in October. For the NFL, all this really means is there will be no more pink-colored NFL equipment and paraphernalia.

If you’re not a fan of the blush apparel, you’ll probably welcome Week 9 with open arms. But the fact remains that this breast cancer awareness campaign by the NFL is such a brilliant strategy one of their few truly good initiatives.

Where the program falls short, though, is it allows people to move breast cancer screenings and awareness to the back of their minds 11 months out of the year. I don’t expect a professional sports organization to lead the cause, but let’s keep in mind that cancer prevention should be a year-round battle.

Breast cancer, as with all others, isn’t particularly choosy in which month it presents. Therefore, you shouldn’t be discriminatory in which parts of the year you pay attention.

NOTE: This story was originally published on SportsHead. To read this article and others click here.
When Bryan isn’t writing, he is on Twitter! Make sure to give him a follow @bclienesch for NFL updates and other shenanigans!