Sports On TV…

As I was grazing through the sports channels on my cable box over the weekend, I came across one of the myriad college football studio shows where a bunch of people sit in a semi-circle and “chat with one another”.  One of the participants – speaking about a college football player I was not tuned in early enough to hear his name – said that the player needed to “focus on football” and to “realize that his future is ahead of him”.

I will spot the roundtable participant the point that “focusing on football” is important if a player hopes to make professional football his career pursuit.  In fact, that is so important that it need not be said.  However, I have a question for the speaker here:

  • Where else – besides ahead of him – might this college football player look for his future?

Last Saturday as college football games were happening around the country, Brad Dickson tweeted this:

“The first-ever college football game – Princeton vs. Rutgers – was played 150 years ago this week. That was also the same day the Rutgers football program peaked.”

Late last week, there were reports that Cris Carter and FOX Sports have parted company.  Many reports said that Carter was unhappy that he was not assigned to the Thursday Night Football pregame show on FOX and the NY Post reported that there were other issues involved in this parting of the ways.  Obviously, I can shed no light on those sorts of things…

FOX Sports did say that its early morning sports gab-fest on FS1 – – First Things First – – would stay on the air.  Nick Wright and Jenna Wolfe would remain, and Chris Canty had been filling in for Carter on an immediate basis.  I mention this because the latest ratings have First Things First drawing a minimal audience – about 25% of the audience tuned into rival ESPN’s morning sports gab-fest – – Get Up!

I tried watching First Things First for a while but tired of two things:

  1. The pseudo-debate topics became repetitive and therefore uninteresting.
  2. I never “warmed to” Nick Wright.

I will tune in periodically to see who the new co-host will be and to see if that new co-host can help me over the two “problems” listed above.  Morning sports gab-fests are not compelling TV for me; I watch it about once a week or so for a segment or two unless they tease an interesting guest coming up later in the program.  With that as the preface, my preferred morning sports gab-fest has become Get Up! which is a program I really did not like at all when it first aired.

I think I like Get Up! much more now because ESPN did an addition by subtraction – – they took Michelle Beadle off the program.  Back when Colin Cowherd was with ESPN, he did an afternoon show with Michelle Beadle that I enjoyed but I thought she was a wet blanket on Get Up!  I particularly like when the show does segments with Marcus Spears and/or Ryan Clark both of whom I think are very good.

I got an e-mail from a reader who is an avid fan of SEC sports with a link to an article in the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report.  The reader wanted to know if I had any knowledge of this.  Skipping to the bottom like, the answer is ‘No”, but the information in the article is interesting.

According to this report, the Athletic Department has been providing funds to the university at-large for the past 7 years to the tune of about $70M.  The Athletic Department is going to change the way it does that money transfer starting next year.  In the past, the money generated by athletics went to the university’s “general fund” and it was done because the legislature in Louisiana had cut funding to the university drastically.

Evidently, LSU’s state funding has increased in recent years and now the Athletic Department is going to transfer funds to the university in a more targeted fashion – – say to help with a new building.  Reading this report generated two thoughts:

  1. The Athletic Department stepped up and did “the right thing” in helping LSU academics during a funding crisis.  Kudos to Joe Alleva – the AD at LSU 7 years ago who made the decision to do that.
  2. The fact that the Athletic Department gave money to the university at large suggests to me that those two entities can be considered as separate ones as well as conjoined ones.  And if one looks at them as separate entities, then explain to me why that Athletic Department – – as well as others – – is considered to be tax exempt.

Finally, Dwight Perry posed this interesting question recently in the Seattle Times:

“The NFL fined Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill $10,527 for giving a trailing Broncos defender the peace sign en route to a 57-yard touchdown.

“So, it would’ve been $5,263.50 if he’d only used just one finger?”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

 

 

Football Friday 11/8/19

It’s been a while.  I hope I haven’t forgotten how to do one of these.  It’s Friday and I have been home for the entire week and that means there needs to be a Football Friday.

Here is the status of the Six-Packs as of the last pickings on 25 October:

  • Overall record:  22-14
  • College record:  11-4
  • NFL record:  11-10

The Linfield College Wildcats travel to Spokane WA this week to play the Whitworth Pirates in a Northwest Conference game.  Linfield is 6-1 for the season and 5-0 in the conference.  Whitworth is 5-2 for the season and 4-1 in conference games.  The outcome here could determine the conference champion.  Whitworth’s only conference loss was against Puget Sound – – a team that Linfield beat 77-22.  Go Wildcats!

 

College Football Comments:

 

Breaking news this morning…  There are reports that Ohio State defensive end, Chase Young, has been suspended indefinitely related to some sort of “NCAA violation” in 2018.  I have not seen any specifics on what that violation might be, but this is important news because:

  • Chase Young is an outstanding player.  Barring amputation of a limb or incarceration without parole, Young will be drafted in the top five of next year’s draft.
  • This is the first “irregularity” that has surfaced during Ryan Day’s tenure at Ohio State.
  • Young’s absence this week against Maryland is not going to affect the outcome of that game and it has not even changed the spread as of this moment.
  • Young’s absence will not affect the outcome of next week’s game against Rutgers either.
  • However, on 23 November Ohio State plays Penn State and on 30 November Ohio State plays Michigan.  If this is not resolved favorably before those games, Young’s absence could affect the outcome(s).

The CFP Selection Committee put out its first rankings this week and put Clemson out of the Top 4.  You might have thought that the Committee had desecrated the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel with spray paint given the shrieks emanating from South Carolina.  Let me try to offer some sound reasoning as to why the committee did that – – and NONE of the reasoning will have anything to do with Clemson’s on-field capabilities.  I believe the Selection Committee is signaling here…

  • Clemson needs to beef up its opponents a bit.  The ACC is not a conference deep in strong football teams – and it has been that way for a while.  There is no reason to have Wofford on the schedule in November; since playing Texas A&M in early September, Clemson has played a string of mediocre teams.
  • The signal sent to Clemson will heal itself so long as Clemson wins its next two ACC games and its rivalry game against South Carolina.  LSU and Alabama play each other this week; the loser will drop out of the Top 4 leaving an opening. Ohio State and Penn State meet down the road; assuming that Penn State handles Minnesota this week, either of those two teams will lose and open another slot in the Top 4.
  • There is room at the top – – so to speak – – in the way the Committee structured its first rankings and aspiring schools in addition to Clemson might want to acknowledge the signal being sent here.  [Aside:  New Mexico State and Western Carolina do not belong on Alabama’s schedule.]

I have not seen as much college football this season as I normally would by this point in the season.  However, if I had to pick my Top 4 teams from what I have seen on TV, here is my list in alphabetical order:

  • Alabama
  • Clemson
  • LSU
  • Ohio State

Minnesota is 8-0 this year and leads the Big 10 West.  Since I mentioned scheduling above, let me point out that the Gophers have not yet played the meat of their schedule.  Their conference wins have come at the expense of teams at or below .500 and their out-of-conference opponents have not been eye-popping.  Here is how the rest of the season looks for Minnesota:

  • Penn State – also 8-0 this year
  • At Iowa – always a difficult place to play
  • At Northwestern – another weak conference foe
  • Wisconsin – could decide the Big 10 West champ.

Two weeks ago, LSU beat Auburn 23-20.  Given that LSU had been averaging 48 points per game prior to that encounter, I think we can conclude that Auburn’s defense is more that merely good.  Up until that game, LSU had never been held under 36 points.

Two weeks ago, Michigan knocked Notre Dame out of contention for a CFP slot with a 45-14 shellacking.  Granted, both of Notre Dame’s losses this year have come against solid opponents (Georgia was the other loss) but the magnitude of this defeat takes the Irish off the CFP radar.

UCLA has won 3 games in a row and has a PAC-12 record of 4-2.  Talk about a team that is “under the radar”, I thought the Bruins were dead and buried a month ago.  The team has this week off with three challenging games remaining:

  • At Utah
  • At USC
  • Cal

If the PAC-12 Championship game matches Oregon and Utah – each with only 1 loss – then the winner of that game could be a serious contender for a CFP slot.  We shall see…

When K-State beat Oklahoma, that did significant damage to the Big-12’s CFP aspirations.  The only undefeated team in the conference today is Baylor and the CFP Committee has Baylor ranked 3 slots behind Oklahoma despite the Sooner’s loss.  I think this is another “strength of schedule signal” from the CFP Committee.  Baylor’s out-of-conference opponents are Stephen F. Austin, Texas-San Antonio and Rice.  For shame …

Georgia’s win over Florida gives it a shot at the CFP if it wins the SEC East and then wins the SEC Championship Game.  The SEC West champion will likely be the winner of this week’s LSU/Alabama game.

SMU lost to Memphis 54-48 in a “defense-optional game”.  That leaves 3 AAC teams with only 1 loss this year – – Cincy, Memphis and SMU.  Should one of them get the “New Year’s Day Bowl bid” this year over Boise St.?  You make the call…

Appalachian St. also lost its first game of the year last week; Georgia Southern beat Appalachian St. 24-21 when a late rally that produced 2 TDs ran out of time.

Here is a stunning statistical circumstance for this season:

  • Maryland is 3-6 this year.
  • The Terps won the first two games of the season scoring 142 points in those 2 games.
  • In the 7 games that followed the 2 opening games, Maryland has scored a total of only 130 points despite scoring 48 points in one of those 7 games.
  • If you ignore the Maryland/Rutgers game – – won by the Terps 48-7 – the cumulative score for the other Big 10 games is Opponents 223 – – Maryland 59.

Boston College is not a fearsome offensive juggernaut.  Nonetheless, against Syracuse last week, the Eagles ran up 496 yards on offense and won the game 58-26.  Syracuse is ranked 92nd in the country in scoring defense as of this morning.

Florida State has 4 wins this year; they need 6 to avoid bowl ineligibility for the second consecutive season.  Next weekend, they have a “gimme game” on the schedule when they host the Alabama State Hornets – a team that is 4-4 playing the likes of Tuskegee and Mississippi Valley State.  Here are the other two games on Florida State’s schedule:

  • At Boston College – – this week.  State is a 2-point underdog
  • At Florida – – Nov. 30.  State will be a significant underdog there

 

The SHOE Tournament Candidates:

 

I explained the concept here last week; the idea is to find the worst team in the nation.  I will end up with 8 teams in an imaginary bracketed tournament – – but for now I will list the “Dirty Dozen” – – those teams that appear to be ready for the shame of being in the SHOE Tournament.  In alphabetical order:

  • Akron:  The Zips have won zero games this season.  Only one of those losses was a one-score game.  The Zips score only 10.2 points per game – – 129th in the nation.
  • New Mexico:  The Lobos are 2-7; one of those wins was over New Mexico St.  The “Land of Enchantment” is clearly not the “Land of College Football” in 2019.
  • New Mexico St.:  The Aggies are 0-8.  The next two games offer a glimmer of hope; they are home games against Incarnate Word and then UTEP.  The Aggies give up 42.4 points per game; only UMass gives up more.
  • Northwestern:  The record is 1-7.  The reason they must be on this list is that they are the worst scoring team in the country averaging a mere 9.8 points per game.
  • Old Dominion:  The Monarchs are 1-8; the lone victory was over Norfolk State.  The problem here is scoring; ODU scores 14.8 points per game.
  • Rice:  The Owls are 0-9.  The problem here is not the defense; it gives up only 28.1 points per game (ranked 70th in the nation).  The problem is the offense which scores only 14.9 points per game (ranked 125th in the nation).
  • Rutgers:  The Scarlet Knights are 2-7 beating UMass and Liberty.  Rutgers ranks 127th in the country in scoring offense (14.7 points per game) and 124th in the country in scoring defense (36.7 points per game).
  • South Alabama:  The Jaguars are 1-7 with the win coming at the expense of Jackson State.  They score an average of 14.6 points per game.
  • UConn:  The Huskies are 2-7.  Those 2 wins came against Wagner College and UMass.  Yuck!
  • UMass:  The Minutemen have won 1 game this year; they beat Akron by 8 points.  UMass has the worst scoring defense in the country yielding 52 points per game.  Note that UMass has lost to several of the teams listed here.  Hmmm…
  • UTEP:  The Miners are 1-7 and the win was a 2-point victory over Houston Baptist.  UTEP plays New Mexico St. and Rice later this year so they could have a significant impact on the SHOE Tournament participants and seedings.
  • Vandy:  The Commodores are 2-7.  They are here because the other team I had on my consideration list was UNLV – – and UNLV beat Vandy by 24 points last month.

 

College Games This Week:

 

Clemson – 32.5 at NC State (53.5):  I assume that the Tigers will come out with the intention to show the CFP Committee that they belong in the Top 4 and they will pound the snot out of NC State – – the team that happens to be on the schedule the week after the Committee sent its signal.  NC State is collateral damage here.

Florida State at BC – 2.5 (63):  The Seminoles need to win this one a lot more than the Eagles do.  It will be interesting to see how Florida State plays for its interim coach…

Notre Dame – 8 at Duke (51):  The Irish needed a late rally to beat VA Tech by one point last week.  Nonetheless, I don’t think Duke can keep up with Notre Dame for 4 quarters.

Maryland at Ohio State – 43.5 (65):  That is a ton of points – – and I would not touch them with a fork.  Maryland has played 3 Big 10 teams ranked in the Top 25 (Penn State, Michigan and Minnesota); the cumulative score in those 3 games is Opponents 149 and Maryland 17.

UMass at Army – 35 (62):  Think about it; Army is a 3-win team and they are a 5-touchdown favorite over UMass.

Illinois at Michigan St. – 15 (45):  Both teams are 5-4; who saw that coming back in August?  Sparty does not score a lot (21.8 points per game/110th in the country).  That seems like a ton of points to me.  I’ll put Illinois plus the points in this week’s Six-Pack.

Penn State – 6.5 at Minnesota (47.5):  Were it not for LSU/Alabama, this would be the Game of the Week.  Both teams are undefeated, and both need a win here.  As noted above, the Gophers have not played a tough schedule yet – – but neither has Penn State.

Vandy at Florida – 27 (49):  If you like playing underdogs, here is one getting a lot of points.  The question here is not who will win the game; the question is how much of a hangover will the Gators suffer after coming up short against Georgia last week?

Purdue at Northwestern – 2 (39):  My SHOE candidate team is favored at home here…

Texas-San Antonio at Old Dominion – 4 (43):  My SHOE candidate team is favored at home here…

Charlotte – 13.5 at UTEP (57.5):  My SHOE candidate team is a big underdog at home here…

Baylor – 2.5 at TCU (48):  Baylor is 8-0 this year; TCU is 4-4.  The spread is only 2.5 points?  Maybe that is because TCU beat Texas in its last home game?  Last time Baylor beat TCU in Fort Worth was back in 2013…

South Alabama at Texas State – 7 (42):  Ho-hum…

LSU at Alabama – 6.5 (63):  This is clearly the Game of the Week.  I think the line is fat.  I’ll put LSU plus the points in this week’s Six-Pack.

New Mexico St. at Ole Miss – 28.5 (63.5):  The Aggies can’t hang with a bottom-feeder in the SEC…

Kentucky at Arkansas – 1 (52.5): If Arkansas loses here, they might be a SHOE candidate next week…

Iowa State at Oklahoma – 14 (66):  If the Sooners lose again, they might be relegated to one of the minor bowl games this year; is that sufficiently motivating?  Meanwhile the coach at Iowa St. has been mentioned as a potential hire by Florida State; is that motivating – or demotivating – for his Cyclones here?

Tennessee at Kentucky – 1 (42):  Both teams have 4 wins and need 2 more for bowl eligibility.  Other than that, there is nothing to see here…

Missouri at Georgia – 16 (48):  Georgia can see its way to the SEC Championship game; that should be enough motivation here; they already lost one conference home game this year and are not about to repeat that performance.

K-State at Texas – 7 (58):  K-State has won 4 in a row beating Texas and TCU in that stretch.  Texas is tough at home…

Iowa at Wisconsin – 9.5 (38.5):  Wisconsin has lost 2 in a row and needs to win here – – and then beat Minnesota down the line – – to have a shot at the Big 10 Championship Game.  Wisconsin averages 216.4 yards per game rushing.  Iowa gives up only 87.7 yards per game rushing (8th best in the country).  I’ll put Iowa plus the points in this week’s Six-Pack.

Washington State – 7.5 at Cal (51):  Check out these opposing stats:

  • Cougars score 42 points per game; Bears allow fewer than 19 points per game
  • Cougars allow 38 points per game; Bears only score 17.4 points per game.

Nevada at San Diego St. – 17 (39):  San Diego State is 7-1 this year and they are winning with defense.  They rank 110th in the country in scoring offense (21.8 ppg) but they are the 8th best scoring defense in the country (14.1 ppg).  The Aztecs single loss this year was to Utah State by a score of 23-17; that is the most points allowed by the Aztecs all season.

 

NFL Comments:

 

What goes around, comes around.  Consider the varying and various intersections of Bill Belichick, the New England Patriots and the Cleveland Browns:

  • Belichick’s first win as a head coach was a win by the Browns over the Patriots.
  • Belichick is the last Browns’ coach to win a playoff game.
  • Two weeks ago, the Pats beat the Browns giving Belichick his 300th NFL victory.

The Antonio Brown saga took a new turn this week.  Recall that Brown “retired from the NFL” after the Pats released him to focus on clearing his name and reputation in the wake of allegations of sexual assault (as yet unproven/unverified).  Then he sued a variety of folks seeking payments he claims he is due based on his contracts with the Raiders and then the Patriots (no rulings forthcoming to date).  He filed some sort of grievance with the NFLPA against the league and I won’t pretend to understand the nuances of that business.  And now…

  • Antonio Brown says that he wants to play in the NFL again and he wants to “make my way back to the NFL asap”.

I have no idea where this is headed or when it might even begin to come back together as a single-threaded issue.  If it makes sense to you, please offer a comment below.

Another NFL saga might be on the verge of resolution.  Trent Williams vowed that he would never play for the Skins again because he claims that the team medical staff misdiagnosed a cancerous growth on his skull that has since been removed.  He has two years left on his contract and he did not report until about a week ago meaning that he could get credit for fulfilling this year on his contract.  He did not pass a physical and did not play last week.

Meanwhile, Skins’ GM, Bruce Allen, has been playing chicken with this matter claiming at first that this is merely a misunderstanding between Williams, the Front Office and the team medics and then that all of this is merely a ploy for Williams to get a lucrative contract extension.  Obviously, all these claims can be true simultaneously just as most of them can be “fabricated”.  The one issue that is objectively provable is that Williams has had that cancerous growth removed from his skull.

I said this may be in the verge of resolution because the Skins chose to put Williams on the “Non-football Injury List”.  That means he can’t be activated to play – which avoids any confrontation between Williams and the coaching staff and the team and the league and the union – – and the Tri-Lateral Commission and Starfleet Command…  It is now at a point where we will find out just how much all of this has been about “saving face” or “showing the other guy who’s the boss”.

  • The Skins could claim that Williams never fulfilled his contract in good faith this season and could try to “toll the contract” – – which is legalese for saying he still has two years of obligation to play for the Skins – – or – –
  • The Skins could treat this as a player hold-out and finish the season with Williams ineligible to play with the ability then to trade Trent Williams in the off-season.

Trent Williams has clearly demonstrated “resolve” in this matter to date.  Bruce Allen has come off as clueless (this was more than a misunderstanding and there have been no contract extension negotiations over the past 6 months).  Both sides can “get what they want/need here” if the Skins choose to play out the season and then trade Trent Williams to the team making the best offer.  It seems to me that the only thing standing in the way is Bruce Allen’s ego…

Some brief comments on games over the past two weeks:

  • The return of Drew Brees was a hit.  He threw for 373 yards and 3 TDs against the Cards.  He looked as if he had not taken even a day off from work.
  • When Chargers beat the Bears 17-16, the ineptitude of the Bears’ offense was on full display.  They had the ball inside the Chargers’ 10-yardline three times and got no TDs.  They had 5 Red Zone possessions and got only 1 TD.  After that game, the Bears ranked 30th in the NFL in yards gained per offensive play.
  • In the Jags 29-15 win over the Jets, Sam Darnold was sacked 8 times.  Those were not ghosts hitting him…
  • The Texans squeaked by the Raiders by 3 points but lost JJ Watt for the season.  DeAndre Hopkins had a great game with 11 catches for 129 yards.
  • Dwayne Haskins got his first NFL start for the Skins against the Bills.  Based on what I saw, former coach Jay Gruden was totally right; Haskins is not yet ready to be an NFL QB; he has the physical gifts but needs a lot of tutelage.  Haskins only attempted 1 pass more than 15 yards downfield and it was incomplete.  The Skins have now gone 13 straight quarters without scoring a TD…
  • The Dolphins beat the Jets.  Actually, the Jets lost to a team that is constructed to lose; think about that.
  • After the Eagles beat the Bears, is it fair to ask if the Bears are even more disappointing this year than the Browns?  The Bears had 9 yards total offense in the first half of that game and only 164 yards of offense for the whole game.
  • The Chiefs beat the Vikes 26-23 without Patrick Mahomes…
  • The Seahawks beat the Bucs in OT.  The theme of this game was “Jameis Winston giveth and Jameis Winston taketh away.”  Winston threw for 335 yards and 2 TDs here.  He also fumbled the ball away in the 4th quarter giving the Seahawks a chance to send the game to OT.  Russell Wilson merely threw for 5 TDs in the game…
  • The Chargers dominated the Packers.  It looked as if Green Bay was sleepwalking through the game.  Total offense for the Packers was a measly 184 yards.
  • The Ravens handed the Pats their first loss of the season and did it by running the ball for 210 yards.  Lamar Jackson and Mark Ingram had the Pats’ defense on its heels for the entire game.

 

NFL Games

 

This is the biggest BYE Week of the season; six teams will get some R&R this weekend:

  1. Denver will try to find its offensive rhythm; the defense is coming together.
  2. Houston holds a half-game lead over Indy – – but the Colts play the Dolphins this week and should tie the Texans for the AFC South lead by Sunday night.
  3. Jax will work to adjust to the return of Nick Foles from his injury.
  4. New England will figure out what went wrong last week as it gets ready for Philly next week.
  5. Philly will spend the time focusing on New England’s visit to the Linc next week.
  6. Washington will try to decide who will start at QB next week – – Dwayne Haskins or Case Keenum?

KC – 6 at Tennessee (47.5):  If I knew that Patrick Mahomes was going to play at 90% efficiency, I’d take the Chiefs here – – but I don’t know that.  The game surely means more to the Chiefs than it does to the Titans – – but the titans have this annoying habit of playing up to – and down to – the level of the opponent.

Buffalo at Cleveland – 3 (40):  I know that the Bills have played a pillow-soft schedule and that the Eagles ran the ball down their throats two weeks ago.  I also know that Kareem Hunt is back and eligible for the Browns – – but is that an unmitigated plus?  The Browns have had “issues” with how many times various players get to touch the ball and now they have another competent guy in the huddle who will want – and who will merit – his share of touches.  Here is an interesting circumstance for this game:

  • Browns are 0-3 at home so far this year – – and – –
  • Bills are 3-0 on the road so far this year.

In a game dominated by defensive units, I like to take points, so I’ll put the Bills plus the points in this week’s Six-Pack.

Arizona at Tampa – 4.5 (52): The Bucs are a hot mess; the Cards are nothing special, but they haven’t come apart at the seams.  The Bucs have the league-leading run defense – – but that is a mirage since it is so easy to throw the ball against them.  One of the characteristics of mature NFL QBs is consistency; Jameis Winston is consistent in finding ways to turn the ball over to the opponent.  Just to clarify, that is not a good thing.  I’ll put the Cards plus the points in this week’s Six-Pack.

Giants – 2.5 at Jets (44.5):  This is clearly the Dog-Breath Game of the Week.  The NYC tabloids are going to have a feast on Monday jumping all over the loser here.  Neither team is any good, but I can see a lot more sparks in the Giants than I can in the Jets.  For the first time, I will put a “Dog-Breath Game of the Week” in the Six-Pack and take the Giants to win and cover.

Atlanta at New Orleans – 13.5 (51):  The Falcons’ defense is AWOL and the availability and efficiency of their starting QB is in question.  Avert your eyes here…

Baltimore – 10 at Cincy (44.5):  Perhaps the Bengals will win a game this year – but it won’t be this one even if the Ravens suffer an emotional let-down after trouncing the patriots last week.  Andy Dalton goes to the bench in favor of Ryan Finley.  The Bengals rank dead last in the NFL in rushing meaning Finley is likely to have to throw the ball a lot here.  Hey, this has been the Year of the Backup QB so far, right?  Saving you the time to Google it, Finley was the Bengals’ 4th round pick in the 2019 draft; he played college ball at NC State.

Carolina at Green Bay – 5.5 (47):  I can’t believe that Aaron Rodgers will stink out the joint two weeks in a row.  I also believe that Christian McCaffrey will have a big day here.

Detroit at Chicago – 2.5 (41.5):  Taking the Lions is so tempting here because their defense should hold Mitchell Trubisky in check.  But the Lions are just not a reliable road team and have not been so for a long time.

Miami at Indy – 11.5 (44):  I don’t know who will be the QB for the Colts here.  I do know who the straight up winner is going to be here.  Here are some very conflicted trends for anyone sufficiently unhinged to wager on this game:

  • Dolphins are 14-5 to go UNDER in their last 19 games in Week 10 – – BUT – –
  • Colts are 14-6 to go OVER in their last 20 games in Week 10.

And …

  • Dolphins are 9-4 to go OVER in their last 13 games in November – – BUT – –
  • Colts are 7-2 to go UNDER in their last 9 games in November.

Rams – 3.5 at Pittsburgh (44):  The Rams cannot afford to lose here; if they do, they will have 4 losses on the year.  The Steelers somehow have gotten themselves back to .500 but still trail the Ravens by 2 full games.

(Sun Nite) Minnesota at Dallas – 3 (48):  Kirk Cousins does not play well in prime-time games.  Kirk Cousins’ performance with the Vikes has been skewed toward dominating teams with losing records.  If I have counted properly:

  • Cousins and the Vikes against teams with losing records are 12-1
  • Cousins and the Vikes against teams with winning records are 3-8-1

This is a prime-time game against a team with a winning record.

(Mon Nite) Seattle at SF – 6 (48):  This is the Game of the Week.  Given the Niners’ defensive pass rush, I expect Russell Wilson to be scrambling for his life most of the evening – – but that is often when he is the most dangerous.  The Seahawks’ pass defense had better show up more effectively than it has in the past couple of games or the Niners will torch them.  I was sorely tempted to take the OVER in this game for the Six-Pack.

Finally, since I spent so much time talking about the CFP Selection Committee, let me close with this definition from The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm:

“Committee:  A group of supremely uninteresting people whose sole purpose is to gather together and make sure that nothing of note is ever accomplished.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

 

 

Young NFL QBs

This year, there is an abundance of young QBs getting a lot of playing time for NFL teams.  This week’s starters could include:

  1. Brandon Allen
  2. Josh Allen
  3. Kyle Allen
  4. Jacoby Brisset – – maybe
  5. Sam Darnold
  6. Jared Goff
  7. Dwayne Haskins – – Skins are on BYE Week
  8. Lamar Jackson
  9. Daniel Jones
  10. Patrick Mahomes – – maybe
  11. Baker Mayfield
  12. Gardner Minshew – – maybe
  13. Kyler Murray
  14. Dak Prescott
  15. Mason Rudolph
  16. Mitchell Trubisky
  17. Deshaun Watson
  18. Carson Wentz – – Eagles are on BYE Week

That means more than half of the NFL teams will be starting a QB who is under 26 years old and 10 of these young QBs entered the league in either 2018 or 2019.  The four “old hands” on the list above – Brisset, Goff, Prescott and Wentz – have shown me enough to say that they should provide their teams with lots of serviceable years down the road.  As for the others, I’ll anoint Jackson, Mahomes and Watson as three more NFL lifers barring injuries despite a smallish sample from which to make such a judgment.  As for the others…?

When I think about what distinguishes a “franchise QB” from a “flash in the pan”, there are more dimensions to consider beyond physical skills.  Of course, a successful NFL QB must have physical talents in sufficient measure to make the athletic moves needed in the job.  Those are the things that one can measure; those are the things that I look at when I see college QBs who aspire to “move up”.  However, those skills are insufficient to make a “QB” into a “franchise QB”.  There is a mental, an emotional, a prudent and a dedicated axis on which a young QB must reach a minimum score to make that jump.

A successful NFL QB  has to be intelligent enough to know the playbook and know the game plan; if that level of mental gymnastics is too difficult, it does not matter if the guy can throw the ball 75 yards in the air and drop it into a rain barrel.  Moreover, a successful NFL QB must be analytical to the point that he can see one thing happening in front of him and recognize what is the most likely thing to happen next.  That analytical thinking is referred to as

  • Being on the same page as his receiver – – or – –
  • Reading the defense – – or – –
  • Having the game slow down for him.

Predicting a young QBs “score” on that dimension is not much more than guesswork; I need to see live action on a field to begin to sense the capability – or the limitation – here.  I believe that if you gave truth serum to coaches, they would say the same thing.

A successful NFL QB must have his emotions in check.  Everyone deals with emotions in a personal way and some folks allow their emotions to dictate their behaviors in ways that are not constructive.  An NFL QB will experience emotional highs and lows during the progress of a game and a season.  He has to be able to prevent the highs from getting too high and the lows from getting too low.  When a receiver drops a pass that hits him in both hands when the receiver is in the end zone with no defender closer than 10 yards, the QB cannot sink into depression or get so angry that the anger becomes destructive.

It is perfectly OK for a QB to “wear his emotions on his sleeve” if that is part of his persona all the time.  The key element there is that he has a governor on those emotions to assure that the swings do not wander off into areas of dysfunction.  Often I hear analysts talk about the leadership skills of franchise QBs; I believe that one of the important elements of those intangible leadership skills is the emotional control that the QB has on himself such that he can project a constructive level of emotion onto those around him.

The “prudence dimension” involves things that do not happen on the field.  Sixty years ago, a very successful NFL QB named Bobby Layne reportedly showed up at game time hung over from the night before on a semi-regular basis.  The game was different then; that sort of behavior will not work for an NFL QB in 2019.  Joe Namath cultivated a playboy persona 50 years ago; it worked for him, but it is not likely to work for many other young QBs.

Notwithstanding the potential negativity involved in such off-field behaviors – – things that breed those dreadful distractions, don’t you know – – young QBs have free time, plenty of money and are recognizable.  Call it “common sense” or call it “maturation” or call it whatever you want; a young QB who aspires to be a franchise QB has to be able to deal with that sort of tempting environment in a way that does not become destructive.

The “dedicated dimension” is another one that has changed over the years.  Sixty years ago, a less than physically fit QB named Sonny Jurgensen played well enough to get him into the Hall of Fame.  When Vince Lombardi arrived in Washington as his coach, Jurgensen said it was the only time he played without his gut spilling over his uniform.  Those days are long gone; successful NFL QBs today need not be bodybuilders or fitness fanatics, but they must stay in condition 12 months of the year and prepare their bodies for the rigors of a 16-game regular season all during the off-season.

I said above that there are 7 of the young QBs on this week’s “starters list” I am confident will make the grade as franchise QBs over the long term.  All of them have shown basic physical skills on the field and all of them appear to score well on the four dimensions discussed here.  Their actions and behaviors cause their teams to win games as opposed to a situation where the team wins games with the QB merely along for the ride.

As for the other 11 young starters on this week’s list, I would make no judgment regarding 8 of them simply because they have not been in enough situations to allow for any sort of rational judgment.  I will say, however, that 3 of this week’s young starters have some visible red flags.

  1. Sam Darnold:  He is not as good this year as he was at the end of last year.  It does not seem as if the “game is slowing down for him”.  He is showing his emotional down cycles during the games.  This is a new offensive system for him in his second year in the NFL with new coaches.  Are those changes significant factors in his regression?
  2. Baker Mayfield:  He is not nearly as good this year as he was at the end of last year.  His ‘analytical” skills seem not to have advanced; and in terms of dedication, he appears to be as dedicated to developing his brand and appearing in commercials as he is to developing as a QB.  As a cautionary note here, that is a similar behavioral path to the one taken by the young RG3…
  3. Mitchell Trubisky:  He is not as good this year as he was at the end of last year.  It appears as if the game is “speeding up for him” instead of slowing down and even his coach has criticized his “body language” during the game – a potential detriment to his leadership skill.

Finally, in keeping with today’s theme of young QBs who may or may not ripen into franchise QBs, I want to be sure that this news item does not pass you by.  It did not make banner headlines; you may have missed it; it is relevant to the topic of the day:

  • Brock Osweiler retired from the NFL after a 7-year career.

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

Back And Forth Today …

For the last week or so as the opening of the college basketball season approached, one of the storylines focused on a variant of this question:

  • Will there be a Zion Williamson this season?
  • Who may emerge as this year’s Zion Williamson?
  • You get the idea…

The answer is simple.  The 2019/1010 college basketball season will not have a player who has the star-power of Zion Williamson and that fact has already become clear.  Williamson was a phenomenon before he ever played a minute of college basketball; he was known nationally to basketball fans at the end of his junior year in high school.  No player since LeBron James had that level of attention as a high school athlete.  There will of course be a handful of excellent freshman college basketball players this year – – but it is already a year too late for them to “be a Zion Williamson”.  In fact, unless you start seeing some ESPN highlights of a high school senior on SportsCenter on a routine basis in the next 4-6 weeks, there is not going to be a “Zion Williamson” next year either.

The NY Post reports that the ESPN telecasts of XFL games starting in February will have far more fan access than NFL games do.  You should recall that the on-field camera shots that are commonplace now for NFL games began as an XFL innovation about 15 years ago.  Here are some of channels of “increased access” that will happen this time around:

  • Multiple players will have microphones – not just one.
  • Producers will have access to coach-to coach and coach-to-player communications meaning they can be part of the live telecast or part of the game analysis.

The MLB offseason has begun and that means speculation about the landing spots for free agents is the order of the day.  Recognize that this game of musical chairs will be replayed in myriad orders between now and the time when pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training as various players find the teams they choose to sit down with.  Clearly, there are some very valuable player assets up for grabs this winter.  In alphabetical order, here are players I think could be major additions to teams that acquire their services – and significant subtractions from current employers:

  • Gerrit Cole
  • Marcel Ozuna
  • Anthony Rendon
  • Hyun-jin Ryu
  • Stephen Strasburg

There is no real value in that short list; any baseball fan not currently in a coma could duplicate that listing.  However, I do think there are two free agents out there who might be valuable additions – – IF they have indeed overcome injury issues:

  1. Dellin Betances:  His season in 2019 was truncated indeed.  He had a shoulder injury that kept him out of action until September when he returned to face 2 batters.  He struck out those batters and his season ended the next day with a diagnosis that he partially tore his Achilles tendon.  Betances will be 32 years old when the 2020 season starts – – but he could be a very effective bullpen asset if healthy.
  2. Alex Wood:  He had lower back “problems” for most of 2019; he only appeared in 7 games and pitched to a less-than-gaudy ERA of 5.80.  However, he will be only 29 years old when the 2020 season starts and his stats prior to 2019 are solid if not spectacular.  He will not be a team’s “top of the rotation” starter, but he might be very effective as a third or fourth starter if healthy.

Bob Molinaro had this observation in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot a week ago about TV viewership:

“Numbers game: It’s not that surprising that after five games, the Nationals-Astros World Series was the least-watched on TV in MLB history. The Nationals have no national following. Same for the Astros. Still, it’s not a great look.

“The Series was drawing an average of 11.6 million viewers, while routine NFL games across all networks attract more than 15 million weekly. According to the Nielsen rating service, Sunday night’s Series game was watched by 11.4 million, while on another network, the Packers-Chiefs game drew an audience of 18.3 million. Once upon a time, this would have been embarrassing for baseball.”

I mention that observation as one more datum to recall the next time you read a “shock piece” about how the NFL is on the precipice of a steep decline because of something or other.  And the counterpoint to the NFL popularity here is demonstrated by the TV data in the UK for the Finals of the Rugby World Cup where the South African Springboks beat England.

  • The final match was the most-watched event on British TV this year.
  • Peak audience was 12.8 million viewers – in a country one-fifth the size of the US.
  • At its peak, the game drew 79% of the total TV audience in the country; last year’s Super Bowl in the US peaked out at 67% of the total TV audience.

[For the record, the Springboks won the game 32-12.]

To demonstrate the importance and value of sporting events as TV properties, the Rugby Finals in Britain became the most viewed program of the year bypassing another sporting event – – the semi-finals game in the Women’s World Cup between England and the US.

Finally, here is an item from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:

“Ice discovered in craters at the moon’s south pole could be more than a billion years old Brown University scientists say.

“Canada’s first lunar mission, we assume, will include a Zamboni.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

 

 

The NFL Season Mid-Point…

The NFL season is at the halfway mark; this week’s general NFL commentary will be about the playoff possibilities for much of the league and which teams will navigate the second half of the season well enough to play on in January.  As is customary here in Curmudgeon Central, I want to look at the other end of the spectrum.  I want to examine the bottom-feeders as they stumble toward getting the first pick in next year’s NFL Draft.

The bottom quartile of the NFL consists of 8 teams that have won 2 games or fewer to date.  I will focus on those teams and ignore the possibility of a total collapse by any of the 4 other teams that have won only 3 games this year.

The two-win teams:

  • Cleveland Browns:  Twas oh so fashionable back in July and August to portray the Browns as a Super Bowl contender – or even a participant.  The Browns have physical talent; they are also hugely undisciplined.  They lead the NFL in penalties by a wide margin averaging over 12 penalties per game.  Last year, Baker Mayfield was electrifying; this year he is about as useful as a blown fuse.  Just because there is so much raw talent there, I cannot see the Browns losing out.  They will not be “on the clock” starting in January…
  • NY Giants:  Daniel Jones has had growing pains, but he appears to have the makings of a decent NFL QB.  The loss of Saquon Barkley for several games earlier this year did not help Jones’ development at all.  The Giants now have two studs on the DL – Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence.  That is a good place to start rebuilding the defense which has been horrid so far this year.  With the Jets, Dolphins and Skins still on the Giants’ schedule, I suspect they will win at least one more game and stay out of the top draft slot for next year.
  • Tampa Bay Bucs:  Jameis Winston often throws for 350 yards or more in a game; he also often throws 3 INTs in a game and loses a fumble just to add some spice.  Oh, and sometimes he does both in the same game!  There is no consistence on offense.  Same goes for the defense that started the year as one of the best – statistically – in the league but now seems not to be able to stop a runny nose.  The Bucs have the Falcons twice and the Cardinals still on the schedule.  The Bucs will not be in the top draft position next year.

The one-win teams:

  • Atlanta Falcons:  The defense has been awful, and the O-Line has not been any better.  It was only two years ago that the Falcons led the Pats in the Super Bowl 28-3 with less than 7 minutes left in the 3rd quarter.  From that moment until now, the Falcons vector heading has been ‘south”.  Other than two games against the Bucs, the Falcons will be underdogs from here until the end of the season.  I don’t see the Falcons winning more than 2 games this year.
  • Miami Dolphins:  This team is assembled to lose every week; their best players – young and old – have been traded away for draft assets.  Then last week, Ryan Fitzpatrick whipped up another batch of Fitz-magic and led the Dolphins to a win over the Jets.  The Dolphins have 4 games left with less-than-fearsome opponents – – Browns, Jets, Giants, Bengals – – and the players just might ruin the Front Office strategy of tanking the season to control the 2020 NFL Draft.  I think the Dolphins will win again.
  • NY Jets:  This franchise is as attractive as prolapsed rectum.  They spend money on free agents who get hurt and don’t play (CJ Mosley) or who play marginally well before they get hurt (LeVeon Bell).  Sam Darnold has not blossomed under the supposed quarterback-grooming excellence that is Adam Gase.  The Jets have the Giants, Skins, Bengals and Dolphins in upcoming games.  Remember, this team beat the Cowboys; also remember, this team lost to the Dolphins.  I think the Jets are viable contenders for the overall #1 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
  • Washington Skins:  The team is solid on the defensive line.  Adrian Peterson can still run the ball well enough not to embarrass the team.  Other than that, this squad is on Gilligan’s Island – – and Gilligan is the GM.  Probably the most fun way to approach the 2020 Draft would be for the Skins to own the overall #1 pick because they will not draft another QB and could deal away that top pick to another team for a basket of picks.  The fun would come from watching Gilligan find a way to screw that up…  Why not hope for a train wreck?  Let’s pull for the Skins to win the Race to the Bottom.

The winless team:

  • Cincinnati Bengals:  The Bengals are 25th in the league in total offense this year and dead last in the league in total defense.  I know the team needed a change from Marvin Lewis, but this new coaching regime is not covering itself in glory to date.  The remaining schedule has the team playing the Jets, the Dolphins and the Browns twice.  They need to win two of them to scamper past the Skins to set up my dream draft scenario.

While I am in the mode of looking at the bad teams so far this year, let me pose a rhetorical question here.  Which team has been the most disappointing team so far this year:

  • The Browns with all their offseason hype – – OR – –
  • The Bears who made the playoffs last year and whose offense has gone into hibernation?

You make the call …

Finally, Greg Cote had this insightful comment in the Miami Herald recently:

“World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships have begun in Azerbaijan. That’s like regular gymnastics, only more ridiculous.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

 

 

Willie Taggert – Out At Florida State

The two biggest stories of the morning are:

  1. The Patriots lost a football game last night.
  2. Florida State fired Willie Taggert in mid-season.

I’ll discuss the Patriots’ loss in this week’s Football Friday, but the happenings at Florida State need to parsed now.  Something is very wrong at Florida State in the Athletic Department and I am not going to pretend to know what it is.  However, consider that John Thrasher, the President of Florida State University – not the Athletic Director nor some spokesthing for the Trustees – said that Taggert was fired because,

  • “… in the interest of the university, we had no choice but to make a change.”

Say what?  Willie Taggert was at the pilot of the football program and took that program into a nosedive; that seems pretty obvious to most college football observers.  But the statement from President Thrasher implies that something there is so dire that the university itself would be in jeopardy if Willie Taggert finished out the 2019 season on the sidelines.  Why do I think something “dire” is afoot?

  • Florida State will now pay out $17M to Willie Taggert as per the buyout clause in his contract signed in 2017.  The university would owe him that same amount in early December 2019 if they fired him ten minutes after the final game of the season; so, why did President Thrasher have “no choice but to make a change” in early November?

Let me be clear about something.  I have said since the middle of last season when the Seminoles were playing poorly that I thought Willie Taggert might be over his head in that job.  I am not advocating here that his record at Florida State is even close to what was expected when he was offered the job.  His tenure there has been worse than merely disappointing.  Willie Taggert had not earned himself – in my opinion – another year as the head co0ach at Florida State.  But with the team still having a shot at a bowl game, there must be something else going on in Tallahassee to evince a statement from the university president regarding a mid-season firing.

When Willie Taggert took over the job, he succeeded Jimbo Fisher who had been there for 8 seasons and had won a BCS Championship Game.  Prior to that, Bobby Bowden had been the coach at Florida State for 34 years; Bowden’s teams won 76% of their games.  This was an elite program; it needed a coach because Texas A&M thought sufficiently highly of Jimbo Fisher that they backed up a Brinks truck to his bank and shoveled money into that bank.

Willie Taggert got the job because Florida State took a leap of faith with him – – and lost.  Here is Willie Taggert’s coaching record as he arrived in Tallahassee in 2017:

  • He took over a Western Kentucky program that was a hot mess and posted a 7-5 record in his second season there.  In 3 years at W. Kentucky, his record was 16-20.
  • He took over the USF program and had a 2-10 record in his first year there.  After 4 seasons, USF was 10-2 and would go to 2 bowl games.  In 4 years at USF, his record was 24-25.
  • He took over the Oregon program which had produced a record of 199-78 over the previous 21 seasons under 3 coaches.  He went 7-5 in one season there – – and got the job at Florida State.

Kudos for turning W. Kentucky and USF around – – but those programs are not Florida State and they do not have Clemson, Miami and Florida on their schedules each and every season.  There are loads of reasons why a pilot who has a license to fly single engine aircraft do not get jobs as pilots for trans-Atlantic flights to Europe; they are not ready to do that competently.  I believe Willie Taggert was hired for a job he was nowhere near prepared to do to the standard that was expected of him.

And still … why did he have to be fired NOW “in the interest of the university”?

Switching gears …  I want to create a new word – fandelirium.  It is a state of euphoria for sports fans that leads them to exaggerate the greatness of the local heroes when those local heroes win something really big.  I arrived back in the DC area several days after the Washington Nats won the World Series and fandelirium was afoot in epidemic proportion.

Listening to local sports radio, one fan interviewed somewhere proximal to the victory parade told the station host and his listeners that Azdrubel Cabrera had “the best hands of any middle infielder ever”.  This phantasmal pronouncement came after a description of a very nice play Cabrera made late in Game 6.

  • Memo to Fandelirious Fan #1:  Cabrera has a career batting average of .268.  The Hall of Fame has several middle infielders whose career average was in that neighborhood.  If Cabrera is the best fielder ever, he should be a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame.  Seriously…?

The second example is even more stunning.  Another fan called into a segment devoted to having fans explain the things that happened in the MLB playoffs that had not received sufficient attention in the media.  One caller said that Howie Kendrick’s’ clutch hitting throughout the playoffs was “at least as good as anything Big Papi ever did in the playoffs.”

  • Memo to Fandelirious Fan #2:  Please see someone in the mental health profession sometime soon…

Again, to be clear, Cabrera and Kendricks played significantly positive roles in the Nats’ playoff run to the World Series Championship.  I do not mean to denigrate their performance in any way.  I simply mean that fandelirium is out and about in the DC area.

Finally, here is an item from The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm:

“Burrito:  A delicious way to alienate the guests at the party you will soon be attending.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………

 

 

A Minimal Football Friday 11/1/19

This is NOT a full-on Football Friday; nonetheless, there are football commentaries that should be made here.  First, Linfield College has guaranteed itself yet another winning season in football.  That streak of winning seasons began in 1956 – when Dwight Eisenhower was President.  Here is what happened:

  • On 19 October, Linfield beat Willamette 77-0
  • On 26 October, Linfield beat Pacific Lutheran 42-10
  • Linfield’s record is now 5-1 and with a 9-game regular season schedule, that means the Wildcats will be above .500 for the 2019 season.
  • Linfield is 4-0 in Northwestern Conference games; the conference champion gets an automatic invitation to the Division III playoff tournament once the regular season ends in mid-November.  Go Wildcats!

Once Football Friday gets back on a more normal footing, it is that time of the year when I begin to size up the worst teams in Division 1-A football in order to create my mythical SHOE Tournament field.  For those who have joined this wagon train in the last 12 months here is the deal:

  • SHOE stands for Steaming Heap Of Excrement.  It is not an honorific title.
  • The SHOE Tournament is purely fictional; it seeks to identify the worst team in college football each year and seeks to do so with on-the-field play.
  • A Committee-of-One – – namely ME – – seeds the 8 worst teams in the country.  The idea would be to have those teams play one another in a bracket format where it is the LOSER who must advance to the next round.  If a team wins a SHOE Tournament game, they can go home secure in the knowledge that they will not be saddled with the title of SHOE Team of the Year.

We are at the point in the season where it makes sense to start to identify the 8 teams worthy of inclusion in the SHOE Tournament.  I began a cursory search this week looking at the three teams who are still winless in 2019 and the schedules remaining for those teams.

  1. Akron is winless in 2019.  The Zips have 4 remaining games against MAC opponents.
  2. New Mexico State is winless in 2019.  The Aggies face Incarnate Word on 9 November and then UTEP – a perennial SHOE Tournament participant – on 16 November.  Failure to get a win in either game would guarantee New Mexico State a berth in the SHOE Tournament.
  3. Rice is winless in 2019.  The Owls face Middle Tennessee St and N. Texas St, down the line; neither opponent has a winning record to date.  Then, Rice closes the season against UTEP – a team with one win at the moment and dates with two sub-.500 teams so far this season.

This week in college football offers up a game between Miami and Florida State.  Twenty years ago, this would have been the biggest game of the college football season.  This week, the game makes it all the way up to the level of “Ho-Hum!”.

There are some rivalry games this weekend:

  • Army/Air Force is always an interesting game to watch.
  • K-State/Kansas is an interesting rivalry game every year.
  • Florida/Georgia is always an intense rivalry – – and usually an important and competitive game.  This is the Game of the Week in college football.

Utah/Washington and USC/Oregon are important games for PAC-12 standings and that conference’s potential participation in the CFP.

SMU and Memphis meet with conference championship implications all over this game.  SMU is undefeated for the season; Memphis has 1 loss (in conference to Temple) and needs a win here and then to win out over the likes of Houston, USF and Cincy to be this year’s “Group of Five Darling”.

IN NFL games this weekend:

  • Skins at Bills has a Total Line of 36.5.
  • Bears at Eagles is a critical game for both teams
  • Packers at Chargers could be a make-or-break game for the Chargers this year.
  • Pats at Ravens is the Game of the Week
  • Jets at Dolphins is the Dog-Breath Game of the Week.

Finally, Dwight Perry had this item in the Seattle Times recently.  It is relevant over many time zones…

“Dunbar High School of Dayton, Ohio – trailing 23-8 with 7 minutes left in the first half and already whistled for three unsportsmanlike conduct penalties – had to forfeit its football game against Cincinnati’s Roger Bacon when a Dunbar player head-butted an official.

“Bonus points:  The game was played at Welcome Stadium.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………