The NFL sent a memo around informing teams that replacement refs will be used in Week 1. This could be a disaster. Think back to Week 1 in 2010, when the Bears ended the season 11-5 and tops in the NFC North. The Bears were battling division rival Detroit Lions and this play happened:
Can you imagine the firestorm had this call been made by replacement refs? People are still talking about that play two years later. As a Bears fan, I can say that the Lions probably got jobbed on that play but not because the refs blew the call. They made the correct call for a confusing and silly rule.
But think about this. The Bears ended the season 11-5, just a game ahead of the Packers, to win the division. What if the refs had blown the call and awarded Johnson the touchdown? The Bears could have ended the season 10-6, tied with the Packers. The Giants and Bucs ended the season at 10-6 and out of the playoffs that season. I didn’t have the chance to run through the tiebreaker scenarios, but it’s possible the Bears would have missed the playoffs that season.
Let’s face it, there are only 16 games and each one is tremendously important. The games in Week 1 count just as much as the games in Week 17. All it’s going to take is one blown call to cost some team a playoff berth, a season.
It’s time for the NFL and the refs to get to the table and get a deal done. The season could be at stake.