Man! Its getting kinda heated in here!
I would agree with Ruben and anyone else about the NELs needing to be earlier in the race. Or at least shake it up...so the dedicated viewers never know exactly WHEN it is an NEL. Like Jon knew when the NEL was. Shake it up so the players and the viewers have no idea. It doesnt always have to be in the same, later legs of the race.
I always loved the FF. It is basically meaningless, other than giving teams that are way behind a chance to catch up. There is always an equalizer in the next leg anyway. It really only helps to use the FF if you are in last place in the leg, and think you might be philiminated.
But the FFs themselves are fun, and make for great tv. And they get harder and harder with each leg.