Hallelujah! The real refs are back. The lockout is over! The Stack is here with a few things to talk about before Friday's NFL preview blog. Hey at least there is an NFL game tonight with real refs!. Can take our minds off of that terrible call Monday night. Ok maybe not. We're talking that and more so let's get right to it and see what made "the stack" for today, Thursday, September 27:
Refs, NFL reach deal, end lockout
Finally, it is done. And it only took a blown call that cost the Green Bay Packers a win to do it. The NFL and the NFLRA agreed to a new eight year deal to end the lockout. The amazing part is is that a real ref crew will work the game tonight between the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens. They won't have even voted on and ratified the deal. The deal will be voted on in Dallas either Friday or Saturday. Once the deal has been voted upon, the crews (the same crews as long year) will go to the games they are designated to officiate. Never before will refs be given a standing ovation from the fans as they will tonight and on Sunday. Never before will fans be so glad to see real officials and probably be ok with a holding penalty because they know it is the right call. Welcome back Ed Hochuli. Welcome back Mike Carey. Welcome back officials. We missed you so!
Cleveland Browns @ Baltimore Ravens 8:20 PM ET NFL Network
The first game since the officiating debacle in Seattle Monday night. But this one is with real refs! Unfortunately, this probably isn't going to be a good game. In fact, it could get ugly. The fact of the matter is is that the Ravens are just a much better team than the 0-3 Browns. Tough to play a Sunday night game against the Patriots and then come back and play Thursday night, but hey at least both games were at home.
Prediction: Ravens 27 Browns 13
WNBA playoff preview
Unknown to practically every sports fan out there, the WNBA is playing and their regular season has concluded. The playoffs tipoff tonight. The matchups are:
(1) Connecticut Sun vs. (4) New York Liberty
(3) Atlanta Dream vs. (2) Indiana Fever
(1) Minnesota Lynx vs. (4) Seattle Storm
(3) San Antonio Silver Stars vs. (2) Los Angeles Sparks
A few things to know. One, the Lynx team is loaded. Maya Moore, Lindsay Whalen, Seimone Augustus and more. This team is loaded and are the prohibitive favorites to win the title. The series will be best of three until the WNBA championship which will be best of five. Interestingly (or maybe not), six of the eight teams have team names that don't end in "s". Not often you see that. And now that I've bored you to death with this preview, I'll make my prediction. Got to take the Lynx to win their second consecutive title and they will do it convincingly.
Ryder Cup begins Friday
Team Europe looks to defend their title against team USA at the Medinah Country Club just outside of Chicago. Team Europe won the last Ryder Cup in 2010 14.5 to 13.5. It was very, very close. Team Europe boasts some big names like Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter. I just don't know if they have a complete team though. Looking at team USA's roster, it looks pretty good. Tiger Woods will be out to prove that he is really back and lead team USA to a victory. He's had a very good year. There is a lot of good young talent on USA's roster but there can be some inconsistency. Keegan Bradley, Jason Dufner, Webb Simpson and Brandt Snedeker will all be making their first appearance. Will the pressure get to them? Playing on US soil helps. They'll have a strong contingency of support from the crowd. Ultimately though, team USA's talent will be the difference. They'll beat team Europe and win the Ryder Cup. USA! USA! USA!
Coming up Friday: Week 4 NFL picks