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Eric Walden's NFL Four Downs: Avoid walking the plank and a snoozefest in Pittsburgh
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

First down

San Francisco at Tampa Bay, 11 a.m., Ch. 13 • Remember when Greg Schiano's domineering schtick had worn so thin early this season that it was rumored the Buccaneers were on the verge of mutiny? Of course, now that Tampa has won four of its last five games, and the Mike Glennon-over-Josh Freeman move has worked so well, it's no longer such a certainty that Cap'n Schiano will be made to walk the plank at season's end. All of which will mean approximately zero against the Niners, who are such a superior team they will have no trouble shivering the Bucs' timbers. Or something like that.

Second down

Kansas City at Oakland, 2 p.m., Ch. 2 • I'll dispense with any further lame pirate-themed jokes, as the Raiders seem to have that handled just fine. As for things they decidedly do not have handled … well, it's a pretty long list. High atop it are winning, appearing competent, and finding one person on a planet of seven billion people actually capable of playing quarterback decently. I can just envision their funereal coaching staff meetings punctuated by the horrifying question, "Terrelle Pryor or Matt McGloin?" Everyone sits silently, heads in hands, until someone rhetorically responds, "Does it matter?" No, coach … it does not.

Third down

Green Bay at Dallas, 2:25 p.m., Ch. 13 • After last week's loss to Da Bears, the specter of Tony Romo's unclutchness raised its ugly-as-post-op-Bruce-Jenner head, with critics gleefully pointing out that he of the $100M+ contract is now a combined 13-20 in games played in December and January. Clearly I am no great supporter of Romo, but pinning that loss on him seems a trifle unfair considering that the end result of a matchup between any competent quarterback and the Dallas defense carries with it all the suspense of, say, the U.S. invading Grenada. Fortunately for Romo and the 'Boys, however, they've got Matt Flynn this week.

Fourth down

Cincinnati at Pittsburgh, 6:30 p.m., Ch. 5 • Really, NBC, you couldn't have flexed a different game into this slot? Or did you have something else originally and decided to flex THIS game into this spot? That would be even more egregious. I know the Bengals are headed for a playoff spot and the Steelers have a sizeable national following. But could we have picked a more boring matchup if we had tried? Seriously, what does it say about these teams that the most exciting thing to happen to either this season was Mike Tomlin taking a step onto the playing field? What it says to me is, "Skip the night game and do something else."

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