These NFL opinions will have you scratching your head


Wait, what?

The Urban Dictionary defines the above phrase as a way to indicate that you can't make sense of what was just said. For example, "Looking back, I think the Raiders were right to pick JaMarcus Russell with the No. 1 pick." Wait, what? I use it all the time, and it's gaining in popularity. Norm MacDonald used it in his Comedy Central show and Bill Simmons recently referenced the phrase on

So to pay homage to my favorite two-word phrase in the English language, I'd like to make some Wait, what? statements about the NFL this season and beyond.

1) Tim Tebow has screwed the Broncos. Wait, what? Sorry, but he has, if their goal is to win a Super Bowl. Think about it. Slowly, begrudgingly, the Broncos have started to come around to the fact they have to commit to him, because fans would turn the streets of Denver into a scene from "28 Days Later" if they let him go. But think about it. Tebow is good enough to win to a certain level. But is he going to beat Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers, Peyton Manning or any other elite AFC QB in a big playoff game? He isn't. You won't win in the long run with a gimmick offense. What Denver's doing now is the new version of the Wildcat. It's just going to take teams a little to figure it out and then its effectiveness will wane. But while he's winning, what can you do? If you're a Broncos fan, enjoy the ride, enjoy being relevant, but it will be another three years before you can actually move to develop a QB that can win you a Super Bowl. Look on the bright side -- you won't have to wait as long as Mets fans will.

2) James Harrison's NFL career will end in the next two seasons with a lifetime ban. Wait, what? I can't tell you the venom I received on Twitter after I threw this out there this week. I keep coming back to this: How long can the NFL keep fining and suspending Harrison for his illegal hits on players who are concussed as a result? (Not long, according to my colleague Steve Wyche.) Concussions shorten careers and life spans. And as the NFL has stated, Harrison can't hit offensive skill players like he has in the past. Mohamed Massaquoi, Josh Cribbs, Drew Brees, Jason Campbell, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Vince Young and Colt McCoy have all been on Harrison's hit list. Seriously, how much longer can this go on? He knows he can't lead with his helmet, but he hasn't changed his style of play. More importantly, he won't admit that his hits are illegal. He's defiant, and eventually the league will have no choice but to ban him from the game.

3) The Raiders won't win again in 2011. Wait, what? Oakland is lost and not healthy. We forgot that this was a team with .500 talent when the season began. And we forgot that this isn't 2004; Carson Palmer has seen his best days. They haven't been competitive since Thanksgiving. Watching them play, it looks like they have no energy, and their body language is awful. Teams don't just catch fire in mid-December after a few bad weeks. It doesn't happen. Detroit's offense is rolling now that Matthew Stafford has figured out how to throw to other players when Calvin Johnson is triple-covered, so that's an L for Oakland. They'll roll into Week 16 at Kansas City at 7-7, a wild-card berth out of the question and the division slipping away. Things could be really ugly for Oakland in that one and then they get obliterated in a mail-it-in game against San Diego in the final week of the season.

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4) The Rams should draft a quarterback. Wait, what? In three seasons, head coach Steve Spagnuolo has gone 1-15, 7-9 and now is on course for 2-14. A 10-38 record gets you fired. That means the new head coach will want his own QB in place. And Sam Bradford hasn't shown he can be elite yet. Watching him Monday night against Seattle, he had that "I can't wait for the season to be over face" while he sat on the bench. I've seen zero strides with him in Year 2. So what happens? The Rams probably will draft second or third overall in a draft that has the potential to be historically deep at QB. I was really high on Bradford a year ago, when he threw 18 touchdowns with basically no weapons, but you can't regress this badly. Seeing how great the rookie QBs have played this season hasn't helped. So the Rams should draft a quarterback, even if it means a season of QB controversy in St. Louis. At least it's a season of something.

5) The 49ers' 2012 starting QB is not on their roster. Wait, what? As good as Alex Smith has been in a caretaker role? With Colin Kaepernick already on the roster? Yes. Kaepernick was a Jim Harbaugh security blanket, in case Smith faltered and they had to plug in someone who could potentially be molded into a franchise quarterback. But he's not the answer. Neither is Smith, who could potentially go from NFC Championship Game to unemployed. (Very Neil O'Donnell-esque, after he went from the Super Bowl to the Jets in 1996.) Smith will only get you so far, and you have to have a stud QB to win it all. The 49ers have realized they're closer to the Lombardi Trophy than they thought they'd be, and that's the only missing ingredient. Is it a young QB via draft-day trade? Peyton Manning? It's someone, but it's no one currently in a 49ers jersey.

6) Matt Schaub will be in a different uniform next season. Wait, what? Schaub has been very good in Houston. At times, he's been fantasy great. But he still hasn't appeared in a playoff game. Now here comes T.J. Yates, playing Tom Brady to Schaub's Drew Bledsoe. Yates had 188 yards and a TD to beat Atlanta. He had 300 yards, two TDs and a game-winning drive to beat an excellent Bengals defense. That is hard to do with little game experience. It goes to show you never know about a quarterback until you put him in a game. Houston is going to have a deep playoff run, regardless of whether they get the top seed or the second seed. They'll be playing for the AFC championship behind Yates, whose mythical status will just grow every week. You see this playing out in the offseason, don't you? There will be a quandary in Houston -- a very good incumbent vs. a youngster with star potential. Quarterback-hungry teams would fall over themselves to get a shot at Schaub, who at 30 would be the most valuable QB available by a longshot. Houston can shed his salary and obtain at least a first-round pick in the process. It'll happen.

7) Cam Newton will win a Super Bowl by 2015. Wait, what? I can't believe we're not talking about him more. But Newton falls under the category of "When a guy just plays great every week, what can you say about him?" That's Newton. He's Albert Pujols. He's going to have years of dominance thanks to his innate running ability and decision-making. As a rookie, he knows when to leave the pocket and take off downfield. Normally guys pull it down after three seconds and run like they're being chased by Jason Voorhees. There's been no rookie wall for Newton because of this. He's a QB who can win late in the season in cold weather. The Panthers don't need much more than a defensive overhaul to win big. That sounds like a tall order but you can revamp defenses in one offseason nowadays. I see his career unfolding as a more talented and dangerous Ben Roethlisberger. If he was an NBA player, he'd be Shaquille O'Neal in his prime. Get my drift?

See Jason Smith on "NFL Fantasy Live," airing Sundays at 11:30 a.m. ET on the NFL RedZone channel, and Tuesday-Friday on NFL Network at 2 p.m. ET and 12 a.m. ET/9 p.m. PT. He writes Fantasy and other NFL pith on daily. Talk to him on Twitter @howaboutafresca. He only asks you never bring up when the Jets play poorly.



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