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Cleveland will be tough foe

Join senior editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Derrick from Great Falls, MT:
First off, I would like to state my disagreement with the Pro Bowl voting date. Week eight? Really? How do you feel about the voting date? And while we are on the subject of the Pro Bowl, I've seen a thing on the site saying to send the Jaguars to Hawaii. I'm one of the biggest Jaguars fans I know, but I can't really name a guy on the team right now that stands above anyone else in his position. Tell me who on the Jags should go.

Vic: The Jaguars' top candidates are Rashean Mathis, Greg Jones and Josh Scobee. As far as the early voting, I know what you're saying but you have to remember that the intent of the Pro Bowl is to promote the players and the league and help grow their popularity. Before fans were allowed to vote, the Pro Bowl was all about honoring the best players. It was the same way before the fans started voting for the Major League All-Star game. Baseball, however, proved that fan voting helps drive popularity and the NFL jumped on board. My advice to people such as yourself who attach a lot of importance to the Pro Bowl is don't do it. The selection process has been changed.

Charles from Orange Park, FL:
Those fans already putting the next three games in the win column for the Jags are living in fantasy land.

Vic: I agree. Cleveland is playing good defense and they'll be a tough opponent for the Jaguars this Sunday. Also, don't be fooled by the score of the Pittsburgh-Cincinnati game. It was 10-7 at halftime. There's a chance Carson Palmer could return to action for the Jaguars game and he makes the Bengals a different team. I think the AFC North has been a big fooler this year. I originally thought it was a weak division that had to play a killer schedule and the combination of the two might produce a 9-7 division champion. Maybe it still will but I no longer regard the AFC North as a weak division. We've seen what Pittsburgh can do and Baltimore has been very impressive for a team with a rookie quarterback. The Ravens crushed the Dolphins on Sunday.

Ian from South River, NJ:
"It's starting to cost too much money to come to work for these guys," coach Mike Tomlin said. He has to be kidding, right?

Vic: I think you know what he was saying and I sympathize with his remarks. The league has gone fine crazy and it makes it difficult for a coach to do his job. He's trying to motivate his players to play hard and the league is trying to get them to play soft. It would bother me if I was a coach.

Stephanie from Jacksonville:
Roger Goodell came out and said they are seriously considering making the regular season 18 games because it is something the fans want. My problem with that is we are seeing so many injuries within the regular season as it is now. I am worried that the need to please the fans is taking precedent over the needs of the players. Your thoughts?

Vic: Maybe that's what all this fining is about. The league knows that if it goes to an 18-game schedule, it has to reduce the amount of physical abuse players have to take. Maybe that's why they've targeted Hines Ward's hits. There's nothing dirty about them. He hits people with his feet on the ground and his head up and he delivers blows with his shoulders and facemask. In many cases, however, they are unnecessary hits because they are away from the play and have no impact on the play. A coach would argue that they are intimidating and they allow a team to impose its will on its opponent and he would be absolutely correct, but the league is trying to get away from that football mindset, which is the only mindset I have ever known in all the years I've watched football. For me and people like me, football is a game of physical domination. Well, the league may be in the process of trying to change that. You can't play 18 regular-season games, subject players to more physical abuse and not expect injuries to increase. The unnecessary hits will have to be eliminated.

Gary from Jacksonville:
If you liked the old New York Titans' uniforms, what did you think of the Browns' throwback helmets the other night? Give me colorful uniforms any time.

Vic: I liked the Browns' helmets, the ones with the brown numbers on the sides, but not because of their fashion but because of the memories they recall. Those were the helmets the Browns used when I was a kid.

Matt from La Puente, CA:
What was your initial reaction to the Jaguars picking Jones-Drew in the draft?

Vic: I loved the pick. Some readers may recall that I laughed at the party line that Jones-Drew was drafted to be a kick-returner and utility back. I can remember saying, "You don't draft a kick-returner in the second round. Jones-Drew was drafted to be a feature running back."

Neil from Colfax, IA:
What do you think about the Roy Williams trade? Are the Cowboys crazy?

Vic: I guess you can never have too many overrated wide receivers. It's the Deion Branch deal all over again; a terrible waste of draft picks for a player at a position where players are a dime a dozen. The leading receiver in the league right now was a seventh-round draft pick. The fourth-leading receiver in the AFC was undrafted. Nate Washington has caught touchdown bombs in each of the Steelers' last two games and Washington is an undrafted player from that football factory known as Tiffin College.

Jason from Jacksonville:
The Gators' cutesy offense and cutesy defense would destroy any cold-weather team in cold weather. Hey, I've got a great idea, let's let OSU have a shot again. They seem really clutch.

Vic: Or how about Michigan in the Capital One Bowl again?

Patrick from Pittsburgh, PA:
What is your all-time favorite uniform?

Vic: I like the one "Ernie Davis" is wearing in "The Express."

Brian from Painesville, OH:
How many years were the Patriots called the Boston Patriots?

Vic: The Boston Patriots were a charter AFL member that began playing in 1960. The Boston Patriots were renamed the New England Patriots in 1971, a year after the NFL-AFL merger and for the season the Patriots began playing at Schaefer Stadium in Foxboro, Mass.

Dave from Clewiston, FL:
I've never seen snow, I grew up in the Everglades and have only traveled south (out of the country) on vacations. So why do you feel like being able to perform in cold weather is a must for a football team like Florida when they can get all their teams to come play in the warm?

Vic: You're right, it isn't, and that's the flaw in the system. It's not equitable. Florida never has to leave the Southeast. They'll only play in two states other than Florida this year: Tennessee and Arkansas. The major college football system for declaring a champion is a joke, yet, on the lower levels the system is perfect. If they ran Division I as they run Division II, college football would dominate December, instead of getting out of the way and letting the NFL take over. I wanna see teams from the south play in the north in December. Let's see what all that speed can do on an icy day in Ann Arbor.

Jim from Jacksonville:
Just wanted to see your thoughts on the undefined and generic fine the commissioner handed down to Hines Ward after the Jags game.

Vic: The fine was for taunting Rashean Mathis, not for the hit on Mike Peterson, and I have no problem with fining players for taunting. I hate taunting. I hate all that cheap crap. Go ahead, take their money and keep taking it until they learn to keep their mouths shut and play.

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