Friday has rolled around once again – as it always does – and I have my seat-belt fastened as I head into another Football Friday. As usual, I shall begin with college football and an update on the Linfield Wildcats.
Over the last two weeks, Linfield has played at home and has dominated two opponents by a combined score of 102-26. That puts the Wildcats’ season record at 3-2 as they pursue another winning season in football. This week, Linfield goes on the road – – albeit not more than about 30 miles – – to play the George Fox University Bruins. George Fox brings a 3-3 record to the field; this is a Northwest Conference game for both teams. Go Wildcats!
It seems as if every college football season has one weekend on the schedule where the results seem to come from Bizarro World and we are living on the cube-shaped planet htraE – – that is Earth spelled backwards don’t you know… Last week was that weekend.
Alabama and Ohio State survived the strangeness of the weekend and Notre Dame remains undefeated – although it took a 4th quarter comeback to beat a mediocre-at-best Pitt team by 5 points. Cincy also remains undefeated at 6-0 for the season. In Las Vegas back in August, the win-total proposition bet for Cincy was either 5.5 or 6 wins depending on the sportsbook. I think the OVER is looking good there…
West Virginia had been unbeaten and was sitting atop the Big 12 hoping that it just might slip into CFP consideration – – and then it lost to Iowa State by 16 points. There may indeed be a need for the Selection Committee to evaluate teams with a single loss when it comes CFP time. Having that sort of stain on one’s record will not go down well with the Committee…
Michigan dominated Wisconsin from start to finish. The Wolverines won the game 38-13 and did not allow a Wisconsin completed pass in the entire second and third quarters of the game. Both teams were ranked at kickoff, but this is the second loss of the season for Wisconsin and it could be that they win the Big-10 West and then the Big-10 Championship and still find themselves on the fringe of the CFP selection process. Remember, I said “could be” …
Penn State also lost for the second time this year and both losses have been at home in “Happy Valley”. I don’t think State College, PA is as happy today as it might be…
Nebraska lost to Northwestern in OT last week. The Cornhuskers are 0-6 for the season and that is the first time in Nebraska history that the football team has lost its first 6 games. For the record, Nebraska began playing football in 1890. [Aside: Benjamin Harrison was President in 1890 and he signed the legislation that established Oklahoma as a Territory in that year.]
LSU beat Georgia last week by 20 points giving both SEC teams a 6-1 record for the year. There are several significant outcomes here:
- The Georgia/Florida game was a big game to begin with and it is now very important as both teams have an in-conference loss. This game happens on 27 October.
- The SEC East race is complicated by the success of Kentucky this year. The Wildcats also have one in-conference loss AND they have a win over Florida to their credit. Kentucky hosts Georgia on 3 November…
- LSU has one loss in-conference (to Florida) and has Mississippi St and then Alabama (both in Baton Rouge) as the next two opponents.
[Aside: One other outcome from last week’s LSU/Georgia game is that the hot seat under LSU coach, Ed Orgeron, cooled significantly – – for the moment.]
Vandy led Florida at the start of the 4th quarter last week but the Gators dominated the 4th quarter to win the game by 10 points. In doing so, Florida seems to have dodged the Bizarro Bullet from last weekend…
UVa beat Miami 16-13. How did that happen?
Tennessee beat Auburn at Auburn. I did not see that one coming…
Washington lost to Oregon in OT and that is the second loss of the year for the Huskies; their CFP aspirations just vaporized into the World Ether…
Meanwhile, Colorado lost for the first time this year to USC. If Colorado were to be the PAC-12 Champ, they would not find a lot of favor from the CFP Selection Committee for their strength of schedule. Here are the Colorado out-of-conference opponents and the records for those opponents as of this morning:
- Colorado State 3-4
- Nebraska 0-6
- New Hampshire (a Division 1-AA team) 1-4
USC has 2 losses on its record, but both are to decent teams (Texas and Stanford) and USC has a game at home against Notre Dame down the road. The Trojans may be the team to watch in the PAC-12 this year.
UCLA won its first game of the year last week blowing out Cal 37-3. Here are two questions that arise from that result:
- The UCLA defense had been giving up 36.4 points per game prior to the Cal game. How did they hold Cal to 3 points?
- Cal started the season 3-0. They have now lost three games in a row and the last two have been to Arizona and UCLA neither of which have had a lot of good fortune this season. What happened to Cal?
One final note from last weekend before I move on… Maryland crushed Rutgers 34-7 in the game that should be labeled The Dregs of the Big-10 Bowl. Rutgers is 1-6 and it has already seen the “easier part” of its schedule. Consider:
- The single victory came at the expense of football powerhouse, Morgan State.
- Rutgers lost to Kansas at home by 41 points.
- Rutgers lost to Texas State and Buffalo by 4 TDs each
- The remaining schedule for Rutgers is Northwestern, Wisconsin, Michigan, Penn State and Michigan State. Yowza!
Since I mentioned Maryland above, recall that the Terps have their head coach, DJ Durkin on admin leave as the school awaits yet more reports about how Jordan McNair died at a practice and if Coach Durkin has culpability there. If my reading of Durkin’s deal with Maryland is accurate and if he gets paid on a “per game basis”, I believe Durkin has been paid a little over $600K not to coach the team since being put on admin leave. Just saying…
Enough of last week’s strangeness and on to what appears to be an interesting week ahead.
Cincy at Temple – 3 (48.5): Cincy is undefeated at 6-0 for the season and is a road dog here. The reason probably is that Temple is 4-0 at home.
UNC at Syracuse – 10 (66): UNC is 1-4 for the season and its coach, Larry Fedora, will be hard-pressed to survive a 3-win season. He needs this game as much as the team needs this game.
Penn St. – 14.5 at Indiana (61): I would not be surprised to see the Nittany Lions hit the field with a hangover from last week’s home loss to Michigan state.
Illinois at Wisconsin – 24.5 (56.5): Wisconsin can run the football effectively with Jonathan Taylor and Illinois gives up 199.5 yards per game on the ground…
Colorado at Washington – 17 (51): Both teams lost last week; both teams have one loss in conference.
NC State at Clemson – 18 (56): Both teams are ranked and both teams had a BYE Week last week. This is a big game in the ACC and recent meetings between these teams have been close.
Virginia at Duke – 7 (44.5): Very quietly, Duke has produced a quality season; they have only lost once…
Michigan – 7 at Michigan State (41): The Total Line opened the week at 47 points and has plummeted to this level. This is one of the rivalry games the folks at Michigan hired Jim Harbaugh to win.
UConn at USF – 34 (69): The game is of interest to me because UConn could be one of my SHOE Teams at the end of the season. UConn is dead last in defense in the country giving up – hold your breath here – 658.2 yards per game and 9.21 yards per play.
Cal – 7.5 at Oregon St. (58.5): Cal has been an enigma this season (see above). They must not lose this game to this less-than-mediocre opponent even on the road.
USC at Utah – 7 (47.5): Utah is tough at home to be sure…
Last week was not quite as hectic at the pro level as it was at the collegiate level – – but there were about 5 surprises.
- The Dolphins win over the Bears with Brock Osweiler at the helm was a big surprise.
- The Skins win over the Panthers was a moderate surprise.
- The Rams winning by only 3 points over the Broncos was a surprise.
- The Cowboys beating the Jags was a surprise.
- The Cowboys scoring 40 points on the Jags was a big surprise.
The final 3 minutes of the Niners/Packers game and the final 3 minutes of the Patriots/Chiefs game last week ought to demonstrate the Hall of Fame certainty for Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. I cannot imagine anyone not being enough of a football fan to sit back and be amazed at the comebacks they each managed here.
Will someone please file a Missing Persons Report for the Tennessee Titans’ offense? The Titans surrendered 11 sacks to the Ravens last week; they managed all of 117 yards passing; they never really threatened to score points in the game. What a stinker…
Here is an example of how stats can be misleading until you look at all of them for a game with some degree of care:
- Eli Manning and Carson Wentz each threw for the same amount of yardage
- Saquon Barkley rushed for more than twice as many yards as the Eagles’ leading rusher.
- The Giants’ leading receiver had a couple more yards than the Eagles’ leading receiver.
One would think it was a close game and it was not. The Eagles won 34-13 and had it on cruise control for much of the second half.
Here we are in Week 7 of the 17-Week NFL season; Halloween is still in the future; nevertheless, I think it is safe to say that the 2018 season is “OVER” for 6 teams and is “ALL BUT OVER” for 6 more teams.
Here is my breakdown of the six teams whose season is All But Over:
- Broncos: The team plays very well at home. The problem is that the NFL requires teams to play away from home 8 times in a season…
- Browns: They are much-improved; they are competitive. The problem is that they are – truth be told – the 4th best team in the AFC North.
- Colts: The only thing that elevates them to the level of “All But Over” is the miserable division they play in and the inconsistency of the other 3 teams there.
- Jets: They are only 2 games out of the AFC East lead, but we know that the Pats are going to prevail there, and the Jets are not making it as a wild card team. Sorry about that…
- Lions: They are not nearly as bad as recent Lions’ teams have been but to me they are the 4th best team in the NFC North and teams that finish 4th in their division are unimportant.
- Niners: CJ Beathard played really well against the Packers, but I just do not see him doing that week after week after week. The Niners season took a severe blow when RB, Jerrick McKinnon, was lost for the season; it is really circling the drain now that Jimmy G. is out.
Here is my breakdown of the six teams whose season is Over:
- Bills: Derek Anderson and Nathan Peterman are in the driver’s seat as long as Josh Allen is sidelined.
- Bucs: The defense is even worse than the Falcons defense and that is saying something.
- Cards: The only thing they are competing for is the overall #1 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
- Falcons: That defense is a traveshamockery.
- Giants: The offense still stinks even after adding Saquon Barkley and upgrading – a little bit – the offensive line.
- Raiders: Khalil Mack is gone; rumors say that Amari Cooper and Derek Carr could be on the trading block. Jon Gruden 2.0 has been a disaster to date.
So here are the games for this week. The Steelers, Raiders, Seahawks and Packers take this week off.
- Maybe the Steelers reunite with LeVeon Bell this week?
- Maybe the Raiders find a pass rush this week?
- Maybe the Seahawks avoid any more “roster drama” this week?
- Maybe the Packers find a running game this week?
Tennessee vs Chargers – 6.5 (45): [Game is in London]: The Titans’ offense was awful last week and the team has not played well in the last two weeks. The Chargers, on the other hand have played very well for several weeks now.
New England – 2.5 at Chicago (48.5): Best game of the week? Maybe the Bears were looking past the Dolphins last week to focus on this game? If not, the Pats will roll here even though they have not played well on the road yet this year (at Jax and at Detroit). The Pats have scored 38 or more in their last three wins; can Michell Trubisky keep up with that sort of pace? I see a close game.
Detroit – 3 at Miami (46.5): My reaction to seeing this game on the card was a resounding, “Meh!” The only question of interest here is seeing if Brock Osweiler can play well two weeks in a row.
Carolina at Philly – 5 (45): The Panthers played sluggishly and poorly on the road last week; this could be an even worse match-up for them. Meanwhile, the Eagles appeared to start to put the pieces together on offense last week – – but those were the Giants and these are the Panthers.
Minnesota – 3.5 at Jets (46): Both teams have won their last two games. Sam Darnold feasted on the Colts’ defense last week; the Vikes’ defense is a whole lot better… Jets’ running game will have to help out Darnold or this will become a long day for him.
Houston at Jax – 5 (41.5): Texans have won 3 in a row – – all of them squeakers. The Jags have lost 2 in a row and have looked pathetic doing so. And if Bad Blake Bortles shows up one more time … Meanwhile, the Texans’ offense has been dreadful; other than an explosion against the Colts’ defense, they score about 20 points per game. I think the Jags defense comes alive here against a putrid Texans’ OL. The winner will be the leader – for the moment – in the AFC South.
New Orleans at Baltimore – 2.5 (50): Best game of the week? It certainly pits a very good offense against a very good defense. I think the key to this game is Joe Flacco and his ability to keep the Ravens’ defense rested. Ravens recorded 11 sacks last week and 10 came on blitzes. Unlikely they will have that level of success against Drew Brees this week.
Rams – 9.5 at SF (52): The Rams are the last undefeated team in the NFL. They are better than the Niners and the Niners are coming off a short week. Niners’ defense gave up a bunch of big plays to Aaron Rodgers last week and look to give up a few more to Jared Goff & Co. here.
(Sun Nite) Cincy at KC – 6 (58): KC’s offense is rolling and the Bengals’ defense is nothing more than OK; they gave up almost 500 yards on offense last week to the Steelers. The Bengals will run Joe Mixon at the porous Chiefs’ defense as a way to hold the Chefs’ offense in check. By the way, the Chiefs are 6-0 straight up this year AND 6-0 against the spread this year…
(Mon Nite) Giants at Atlanta – 4.5 (54): This is the Dog Breath Game of the Week. It takes a lot for me to ignore a Monday Night Football game … The only interesting question here is if the Falcons miserable defense is bad enough to make the Giant’s offense appear to be relevant. Other than that…
Here is your Six-Pack for the week. We have 3 college games and 3 NFL games once again in the Six-Pack:
Mississippi St. at LSU – 6 (45): Perhaps the biggest college game of the week, LSU cannot afford a letdown in this “sandwich game” after a big win over Georgia last week and with an upcoming battle with Alabama next on the docket. Mississippi St. beat LSU by 30 points last year; there is a revenge factor at work here too. The Bulldogs problem is that they cannot throw the ball against quality defenses and LSU has a quality defense. I like LSU at home to win and cover.
Oregon at Washington St – 3 (68): Oregon is 5-1 with the loss coming in conference; Oregon scores 44 points per game. Washington St. is 5-1 with the loss coming in conference; Washington St scores 42 points per game. This is an important PAC-12 game that should light up the scoreboard. Washington State has not lost at home in two years. I like the game to go OVER.
Vandy at Kentucky – 11 (48): Kentucky is well-positioned to play for the SEC Championship, but it must not stumble against weaker opponents such as Vandy. Kentucky RB, Benny Snell should have a big game here; Vandy allows 4.5 yards per carry and 184 yards per game on the ground. I like Kentucky to win and cover.
Buffalo at Indy – 9 (43): This will be a low scoring game because the Bills’ defense is solid and because the Bills’ offense is a steaming mess. In a low-scoring game, I like the idea of getting 9 points, so I’ll take the Bills on the road here. Please let Derek Anderson start and finish this game; if Nathan Peterman plays, this could get out of hand quickly.
Cleveland at Tampa Bay – 3.5 (50): Here are two teams going nowhere in 2018. Baker Mayfield gets to show his stuff against a bad Bucs’ defense with a new defensive coordinator calling the shots. If Mayfield is indeed the future in Cleveland, he should play well here. I like the Browns on the road plus the points. By the way, the last road win straight up for the Browns came in Week 5 of 2015 in case you were wondering…
Dallas at Washington – 1.5 (41.5): The Cowboys are 3-0 at home and 0-3 on the road. This game is on the road. Kabeesh? I like the Skins to win and cover at home.
Finally, here is a comment from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:
“Patriots fans were incensed upon discovering that some Dunkin’ Donuts outlets in Massachusetts were serving drinks in cups featuring a huge Eagles logo and the words ‘World Champions’ on them.
“Which makes one wonder: What are the odds of buying a set of Eagle tires in New England that are fully inflated?”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………