NFL of the Week: Do or do not

NFL of the Week: Do or do not

(RNN) - The NFL may have had a good idea, but it got shot down faster than Han Solo's Kessel run.

An unnamed source told Pro Football Talk that there was talk of canceling Thursday Night Football, or at least limiting it to fewer weeks. The contests have been mocked by viewers for bad matchups and poor quality, and teams hate having only three days between games to plan and heal.

The League claims its "data" shows there have been no more injuries related to the short turnaround. Other data processors, like "common sense" and "eyeballs," show that players playing hurt are more likely to stay hurt or get hurter.

The NFL responded to the rumor, saying it's committed to the Jar-Jarian logic of squeezing an extra primetime game out of its teams at the expense of long-term outlook and player safety. They may not have used those exact words.

This is the same League that charges $75 to watch reruns of games and only offers a live stream package to folks who live in apartments. What's next, a Life Day holiday special?

Sunday of the Week: A New Hope: Detroit Lions at New Orleans Saints, 1 p.m. ET

Plucky underdog Matthew Stafford has seemingly found the exhaust vent to penetrate otherwise impenetrable defenses in the fourth quarter of games, with the help of a Rogue band of skill players including Marvin Jones, Golden Tate and Theo Riddick. The Lions (7-4) have trailed in the final 15 minutes of all their wins, and they sit alone atop the NFC North.

The Lions defense is in the middle of the pack, but it's stronger against the run, allowing only five TDs on the ground. It's among the worst in the league in pass defense, giving up 22 scores so far, but defensive end Ziggy Ansah getting healthy would give them the pass rusher they need to help.

Drew Brees is completing passes at a career-best rate this season. That's incredible, considering the type of career the 37-year-old has had. His tendency to spread the wealth has three Saints (5-6) receivers in range of 1,000-yard seasons - Michael Thomas, Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead - and they'll give the weak Detroit secondary a hard time all day.

The New Orleans defense is keeping the team from becoming a serious playoff contender. They've given up an average of 23 points in their last six, which is an improvement from the 34-plus they had given up in the three before that. Kenny Vaccaro has been a bright spot for the D, but the safety is awaiting word from the League on an appeal of his four-game drug suspension.

The Sunday Strikes Back: New York Giants at Pittsburgh Steelers, 4:25 p.m.

The Giants' (8-3) schedule may have as much to do with their record as their play. In their six-game win streak, they've beaten one team who currently has a winning record, the 6-5 Ravens. And they hadn't beaten anyone by more than seven points until their win over the winless Browns.

The Steelers (6-5) kick off a stretch for the G-Men that also features the Cowboys, the Lions and Washington, so if they collapse like a tauntaun in the cold, you heard it here first. No, we're not making any Jason Pierre-Paul-Luke Skywalker jokes here.

New York's defensive front started slow but has 21 sacks in its last six games. It needs to find success against a sturdy Pittsburgh offensive line to keep Ben Roethlisberger from running up the score. The QB still needs to find a second receiver behind Antonio Brown he can rely upon to get the offense working at light speed.

Le'Veon Bell has been in All-Pro form his last two games, averaging 5.2 per carry and adding 12 catches.

Nerfherders of the Week: The team told star wideout Brown to get rid of the touchdown dances that have drawn multiple penalties this year. The NFL refs have emphasized a zero-tolerance policy on excessive celebrations - smacking QBs in the head is still OK most of the time.

Return of the Sunday: Carolina Panthers at Seattle Seahawks, 8:30 p.m.

Hey, Richard, how do you feel about the ref crew working the game calling the most defensive penalties on pass plays this season?

Richard Sherman and his Seattle (7-3-1) Legion of Boom cohorts rely on physical play to keep opponents in check, so there could be penalty flags aplenty. The good news for them is Earl Thomas is set to start at safety after missing last game with a hamstring injury.

Sherman said this week that karma could be at play in the Panthers' 4-7 season. He called Cam Newton on grabbing a Seahawks "12th Man" flag following the win in last year's NFC Championship.

The more likely explanation is Carolina's unwillingness to spend any money on defensive backs in the offseason, resulting in one of the worst pass defenses in the league. Linebacker Luke Kuechly likely is still out after a scary hit and concussion two weeks ago.

The offense remains effective, giving the team a chance to win most of its games via shootout.

Newton laughed Sherman's comment off but has expressed his frustrations about this season. Right or wrong, his outstanding performance last year and his bigger-than-life attitude made him a target for the rest of the NFL universe, and the questionable non-calls on the field must make him feel like he's alone against the League.

Maybe he should embrace the anger. Everyone loves a good hero, but no one forgets a great villain.

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