Some folks find themselves in tedious and/or dead-end jobs which makes the typical work week a slogging and repetitive quest to make it to Friday. For some of these people, just getting to Friday without committing mayhem in the workplace is an accomplishment. Fortunately, no such milieu exists here in Curmudgeon Central because every day allows for critical commentary on some aspects of the world of sports.
Nonetheless, there is general exuberance in the air here on Fridays in the autumn because those Fridays are reserved for Football Friday. Even the necessity to record the disastrous results of last week’s Six-Pack cannot kill the joy here in the room. Here are the results from last week:
- College: 1-3-0
- NFL: 0-2-0
- Combined: 1-5-0
That reduces the previously positive record for Six Packs to:
- College: 4-6-1
- NFL: 7-5-0
- Combined: 11-11-1
Before proceeding to commentary, there is a betting issue or lesson from last week’s Six-Pack. Last Friday morning, I picked the Pats +7.5 against the Chiefs; either last Friday evening or early Saturday morning, I learned that Cam Newton would not play in that game due to a positive COVID-19 test. Had I known that on Friday morning …
The football gods giveth and the football gods taketh away. Those folks who took the Chiefs on Friday – or earlier in the week – got themselves a bargain as the spread went up as high as 10.5 points early on Sunday. Folks such as I who took the Pats early in the week were not so fortunate.
This is the reason they call it gambling. It is not banking; it is gambling. Such are the ways of the gambling world…
Eight ranked teams lost last weekend. Granted there were three games that paired one ranked team against another ranked team; and since there are not ties in college football, that guaranteed at least three ranked teams would take it in the ear. Nevertheless, there were still five other ranked teams that lost last week.
- That is not a usual outcome
- In this year where only about 60% of the teams are playing so far, the number of “ranked teams” is concentrated in the active conferences meaning the “ranked teams” represent mid-tier teams from the active conferences.
- Rather than try to analyze or rationalize this sort of thing, I suggest that we simply acknowledge that 2020 is and will be a “Black Swan season” and just take it as it comes.
There was one loss by a “ranked team” that stood out to me. It stood out because there was an awful lot of chitter-chatter about this team being “really good” and possibly a sleeper for the CFP. I am referring to the University of Central Florida (UCF). Last week, the Golden Knights lost at home to the Tulsa Golden Hurricane 34-26. Going into the week, there were some people who were floating the idea that UCF was the best college football team in the State of Florida conjuring up rationales as to why they were better than Miami or Florida or even hapless Florida State. Here is some of what happened in that game:
- UCF was penalized 18 times in the game for 124 yards.
- Both teams recorded a safety in the game – not a commonplace occurrence.
- UCF led – at home where they had won 21 games in a row – 23-5 with a minute-and-a-half to play in the first half.
- UCF led 26-29 with 11 minutes left in the third quarter meaning they were held scoreless for the final 26 minutes of the game.
Not only did UCF crash and burn at home last week; it did so against a mid-level opponent. I have perused the various rankings for college teams this week after Tulsa’s victory at UCF and cannot find them in any of the Top 25 listings. Recalling that only about 70 teams are playing now, that pretty much defines Tulsa as a mid-level team.
I do not mean to imply here that UCF is a bad team; they are not. I do mean to imply that some of the fanboys who write about and comment on college football were in some sort of erratic orbit when they hinted at UCF being the best team in Florida or a sleeper for the CFP. Regarding UCF and the CFP, the seemingly most appropriate thing to say now is the refrain often heard on the old TV show, Match Game:
“What lovely parting gifts do we have for UCF, Johnny…?”
It is difficult for me to point to the most embarrassing loss for a ranked team last weekend because both are embarrassing:
- TCU 33 Texas 31: No miracle comeback for Texas this week; this was a home loss to an unranked opponent. TCU ran 80 plays and had 25 first downs; Texas ran only 60 plays and had only 16 first downs. The score makes it look closer than it really was.
- Iowa St. 37 Oklahoma 30: That is the second loss in a row for the Sooners who led by a TD with 8 minutes to play. On the kickoff after the TD that gave them that lead, the Cyclones got an 85-yard return that set up a tying score. Then Iowa St. got the ball again and won the game with another TD. Here is a mini-fact coming out of this game: The last time Oklahoma lost to Iowa St. in Ames IA was in 1960.
Texas and Oklahoma will meet in the usually highly anticipated “Red River Showdown” this week. This year the teams will arrive this year with a mediocre combined record of 3-3. Oklahoma has been the Big-12 Conference Champion for the last 5 years, but they now have 2 losses in conference and that will be difficult to overcome. The Texas defense has been embarrassingly bad so far this year, so maybe the Big-12 race is wide open for 2020. I will go out on a limb here and declare early in the season that:
- Kansas will NOT win the Big-12!
I do not know who will win that conference, perhaps Oklahoma State? The Cowboys demolished the aforementioned Kansas last week 47-7. In that game, Oklahoma State gained 593 yards on offense as opposed to 193 for Kansas. The Cowboys were 9-18 on third down conversions and the Jayhawks were 1-14. This was a butt-stomping…
If you ignore that opening week loss by K-State to Arkansas State, perhaps Kansas State could make noise in the Big-12 race? It should be wide open in the heartland…
Air Force put a whipping on Navy last week 40-7. Air Force gained 410 yards on offense and held Navy to only 241 yards. Navy actually led 7-3 early in the second quarter and then the roof caved in.
UNC beat BC 26-22. There was an unusual play at the end of this game. The Tar Heels led 24-22 but BC had just scored a TD and was going for a 2-point conversion to tie the game and send it to OT because there was less than a minute left on the clock. The pass attempt for that 2-point conversion was intercepted and returned 99 yards the other way giving UNC 2 points and creating that final score.
Alabama beat Texas A&M 52-24. Alabama ran up 542 yards offense which was 9.9 yards per offensive snap. Given the Alabama defense and the amount of raw talent on that defensive unit, college opponents are in deep yogurt if they allow the Alabama offense to operate with that level of efficiency.
In other SEC action, Georgia beat Auburn 27-6: This was a dominant performance by the Georgia defense. Auburn had only 177 yards passing and 39 yards on the ground. That defense just might be good enough to get the Dawgs to the SEC Championship Game.
Tennessee beat Missouri 35-12 last week. Tennessee has looked good so far this year and last week they ran the ball for 232 yards and 4 TDs in that win over Missouri. This week they go to Athens to play Georgia. Can they run the ball on that defense? That will be an interesting stat to look for…
Arkansas beat Mississippi State last week 21-14. In one sense, this is a shocking result given that the Bulldogs beat LSU two weeks ago and racked up 600 yards passing on the LSU defense. In another sense this is “business as usual” for a Mike Leach team; his Air Raid offense is known for fireworks and stats – – but not for consistency. After beating the defending national champions, Mississippi State turned around and lost at home to a team that had lost 20 consecutive conference games over a nearly 3-year time span. The Air Raid offense can be a ton of fun to watch; it can also drive one to drink – – heavy drink.
Because I mentioned UCF and its purported status as the best football team in the State of Florida, I feel that I should point out that Florida State recorded a win last week – albeit one over Jacksonville State which is a Division 1-AA team. The score was 41-24 but a program with the history of Florida State was really punching down in this matchup. Jacksonville State is part of the Ohio Valley conference which is the home of football programs such as Austin Peay, Eastern Kentucky and Tennessee Tech. Nonetheless, Jacksonville state led this game 21-7 with about 4 minutes to play in the second quarter. It was a win; it was not a dominant win.
Before moving into the Games of Interest this week, let me offer up an observation about this year’s “Red River Showdown”. Either Texas or Oklahoma will lose that game and the rabid fans aligned with both schools will not take kindly to the result. I fully suspect the losing coach will become a piñata for the fanboys on various social media platforms. I think the most measured commentary about the losing coach will be that he ought to be fired and bought out of his contract; many of the comments will go much further and involve illegal or physically impossible acts. Here is a hunch:
- I suspect that next week will be the first week of the college football season where someone speculates on what it will take to get Urban Meyer back into college coaching – – and it will be by the fans of the school that loses the Texas/Oklahoma game.
College Games of Interest:
Tennessee at Georgia – 12.5 (43): As mentioned above, this game will be interesting from a statistical standpoint. Tennessee is 2-0 for the year and has scored 66 points in those two wins. The Georgia defense has looked really good so far this year. So, how will this one play out? The spread for the game opened at 14 points and clearly there was enough “Tennessee money” coming in to drop that line by 1.5 points.
Alabama – 23 at Ole Miss (69): Nick Saban’s defense will be tested by Lane Kiffin’s offense here. I believe that the outcome of that test will determine the winner of this game against the spread. The Ole Miss defense is not going to shut down the Bama offense. In two games this year, the Ole Miss defense has allowed a total of 1201 yards – – 600.5 yards per game. Of the 74 Division 1-A schools playing to date, Ole Miss ranks 74th.
Arkansas at Auburn – 13.5 (47.5): Can Arkansas win 2 SEC games in a row? I doubt it. At the same time, what did Auburn show anyone last week that might indicate it should be a 2 TD favorite over a conference opponent?
Mississippi St. at Kentucky – 2 (58): Which Bulldog team will make the trip to Lexington? The one that smoked LSU or the one that wet the bed against Arkansas? Kentucky has two ingredients to keep the Air Raid offense in check; the Wildcats like to run the football (276.5 yards per game so far this year) thus keeping the Bulldogs’ offense on the sidelines and the Wildcats have a respectable pass defense too. Should be an interesting game…
Florida – 6 at Texas A&M (57): The Aggies were over their heads last week against Alabama; Florida may well be the best SEC East team if Georgia is not. The Gators’ defense is uncharacteristically porous this year giving up 471 yards per game so far this year – – but I do not trust the Aggies offense to be dominant there. I like Florida to win and cover here; put it in the Six Pack.
Miami at Clemson – 14 (62.5): This is the College Game of the Week. Lots of people have focused on the offenses for these two teams and their ability to score with big plays and gaudy stats. I think the proper focus is on the defensive units here. Clemson is allowing only 303 yards per game; Miami is allowing only 377 yards per game. Unless one of the teams jumps out to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter, I think both coaches will opt to let their defenses keep things under control and play for a winning score late in the game. I like this game to stay UNDER 62.5; put it in the Six-Pack.
Duke – 2.5 at Syracuse (51): Duke is 0-4; Duke leads the ACC in turning the ball over; Duke is on the road against a team that always plays better at home than anywhere else; on defense Duke gives up 440 yards per game and 32.3 points per game.. Those are facts; why is Duke favored? I like Syracuse at home to win outright so I’ll take them plus the points; put it in the Six-Pack.
Oklahoma – 2 vs Texas (72): This game could unfold in so many different ways that I would only venture a pick if I already had time-traveled on to Sunday morning so I could look at the final score to get it right. The only thing I am confident in here is that there will be scoring; this will not be a 17-10 game unless it is played in a monsoon.
K-State at TCU – 8 (51): K-State has racked up two upsets; TCU has had one upset. Do I trust either team to emerge as a “player” in any sort of national discussion? No, I do not…
Temple – 3.5 at Navy (50.5): Here is another mysterious game. Navy has been blown out twice and made a miracle comeback to eke out a win over Tulane. Temple is playing its first game of the year. The only thing that is certain here is that the Owls will not be traveling very far to reach the game venue.
Florida State at Notre Dame – 21 (51): Do not be fooled by the Seminoles’ “offensive explosion” last week putting 41 points on the scoreboard; that was against Jacksonville State; the Notre Dame defense will be just a tad better. In fact, Notre Dame’s defense ranks 11th in the nation giving up only 282.5 yards per game.
Let me begin this week by posing a rhetorical question that has come up before:
- Which of the two NYC teams – which never play in NYC itself – will be the first to win a game this year?
Both the Giants and the Jets have been lousy this year. The Jets have been outscored by 66 points so far – – worst in the NFL. Meanwhile the Giants have been outscored by 49 points so far this year – – next-to-worst in the NFL. The Jets have a quarterback who regressed last year and certainly has not markedly improved from that regression in 2020. The Giants have a quarter back who is in the midst of a regression year. The Giants have a first-year head coach; it is too early to declare that he is not made from the right stuff, but he surely has not “exploded onto the scene”. The Jets have a coach who seems to want to find new ways to piss off his players and/or the folks who cover the team.
- The Giants and the Jets both reside in Dysfunction Junction.
Let me look ahead at the schedules for both teams. Games highlighted here are ones where the NYC team has a real chance to come away with a win.
- October 11: Giants at Dallas Jets vs Arizona
- October 18: Giants vs. Washington Jets at Chargers
- October 22: Giants at Philly
- October 25: Jets vs Buffalo
- November 1: Jets at KC
- November 2: Giants vs Tampa Bay
- November 8: Giants at Washington
- November 9: Jets vs. New England
- November 15: Giants vs Philly Jets at Miami
- November 22: Giants BYE WEEK Jets BYE WEEK
- November 29: Giants at Cincy Jets vs. Miami
- December 6: Giants at Seattle Jets vs. Las Vegas
- December 13: Giants vs Arizona Jets at Seattle
- December 20: Giants vs. Cleveland Jets at Rams
- December 27: Giants at Baltimore Jets vs. Cleveland
- January 3: Giants vs. Dallas Jets at New England
Forget the highlighted games there for a moment and simply reflect on the reality that the 2020 NFL season looks grim for fans in NYC, Northern NJ and downstate Connecticut.
Changing topics, the NFC East is a certified mess and it is interesting to note that after 25% of the 2020 NFL season is in the books, all four teams in that division have been outscored by opponents by at least 20 points. The Cowboys have scored 126 points in 4 games (31.5 points per game) and are still negative in point differential.
Meanwhile, all four teams in the NFC West have a positive scoring differential after 4 games of the season. Interestingly, the Niners who are “last in the division” at the moment thanks to tiebreakers have the biggest point differential in that division at +36 points.
And one final bit of NFL commentary if I may… You have certainly heard about or read about the WTFs decision to bench QB Dwayne Haskins. Lots of folks have opined that this is too hasty a decision and that elevating Kyle Allen to the starting role is not akin to sitting Haskins but replacing him with a luminous backstop. Make of that what you will; time will tell if Dwayne Haskins has an NFL career worthy of remembering or if he is simply a latter-day version of JaMarcus Russell and/or Akili Smith. Here is what I find interesting in this matter:
- Danny Boy Snyder has – since the time he bought the team in the late 1990s – fancied himself as part of the football talent evaluation team in the organization.
- According to reports, he has “advocated for” 4 QBs to be the team starter in the last 20 years.
- All 4 of those QBs turned out to be “mediocre at best”.
- The first was Jeff George signed as the swan song to his career. When Marty Schottenheimer benched George in 2001, that pretty much sealed the deal that Schottenheimer was not going to last long in DC. He was fired after 1 season.
- Next was Patrick Ramsey drafted by the team in 2002. Danny Boy bragged to reporters covering the team that it was he who “discovered” Ramsey and his cannon for an arm. New coach Steve Spurrier acceded to pressure and started Ramsey 5 times as a rookie with marginal results. Ramsey’s NFL career spanned 7 seasons; however, after he left Washington in 2005, he never started another game in the league.
- The third one was RG3. Reports said that it was the owner who traded up to get the opportunity to draft RG3 with the #2 overall pick in 2012. [Aside: Andrew Luck was the #1 pick that year.] Reports at the time indicated that RG3 had the ability to take issues to Danny Boy directly bypassing the coaching staff. That led eventually to a rift between Mike Shanahan and Danny Boy and it had the secondary effect of having Kyle Shanahan take his coaching talents elsewhere.
- And now we have the saga of Dwayne Haskins who was a “local kid” who happened to go to school with Danny Boy’s son and presented Danny Boy with another opportunity to “take over the first round of the draft” to assure that Haskins became one of the WTFs. When Coach Jay Gruden would not play Haskins last year despite starting the season with an 0-5 record, that intransigence greased the skids for Gruden to be sent packing.
While it may be that the Giants and the Jets both reside in Dysfunction Junction, the WTFs – under whatever name they operate under – have existed in a 20-year environment of Meddlesome Ignorance. You make the call as to which situation is worse…
Last week, the sorry-assed Jets lost by 11 points to the previously winless Broncos. The Broncos gave Brett Rypien – an undrafted free agent – his first NFL start, and he managed to score 37 points on the Jets’ defense. That number of points is bad enough for the defensive stalwarts in NY to deal with but consider that Rypien also threw 3 INTs that terminated possessions that could have put even more points on the scoreboard. Another black mark for the Jets’ defense is that they led 28-27 with 6 minutes to play and then proceeded to surrender 10 points with the game on the line to a first-time starter. And on top of all that, the Jets gave the Broncos 7 first downs on penalties.
The Saints beat the Lions 35-29 The Lions blew another double-digit lead here; they led 14-0 in the first quarter and then reverted to being “The Lions”; the score at the half was 28-14 and when the Saints scored on their first possession of the second half, it meant that the Lions’ defense had given up TDs on 5 consecutive drives. The Saints were 10 for 14 on third down tries and held the ball for 36 minutes.
The Bengals beat the Jags 33-25. Did the Bengals offense mature after their dismal showing in that tie game against the Eagles or is the Jags’ defense really that bad. The Bengals had 508 yards of offense. Joe Mixon did a “Jim Brown imitation” here running for 151 yards 2 TDs and 30 yards worth of pass receptions and Joe Burrow went north of 300 yards again.
The Vikes beat the Texans 31-23. The Vikes got big games on offense from Kirk Cousins, Adam Theilen Dalvin Cook and Justin Jefferson. That is good news for them; the Vikes offense has been mediocre at best prior to last week’s eruption. Meanwhile, they won the game by only a one-score margin even with those four offensive players doing very well. In fact, a 4th quarter TD pass by Deshaun Watson was overruled on replay or the game would have been even closer. That is not so good news for the Vikes. Meanwhile, you have to look very hard to find good news of any kind for the Texans who fall to 0-4 now. The Texans offense sure looks as if it could use DeAndre Hopkins more than it can David Johnson; the caretaker regime of Romeo Crennel begins this week…
The Ravens beat the WTFs 31-17. Here is a list of the good news items for the WTFs:
- Dwayne Haskins did not throw up on his shoes this week as he had done the week before.
- That’s it; that’s the list.
Notwithstanding that performance by Haskins, it was insufficient for him to keep his job as the starting QB for the WTFs going forward. Several of the WTF players had positive stats that were meaningless because anyone watching that game knows that the Ravens were never in the slightest danger of losing. In fact, the score is much closer than the game was; the WTFs got a meaningless TD with 2 minutes left in the game that makes it look “respectable”.
The Bucs beat the Chargers 38-31. I think Justin Herbert is going to be “the real deal” in the NFL; he still must learn his craft, but he looks promising to me. Meanwhile, Tom Brady had a more-than-workmanlike game here with 369 yards passing and 5 TDs. Ho hum … Oh, by the way, those 5 TD passes went to 5 different receivers. Not bad at all.
The Seahawks beat the Dolphins 31-23. The Dolphins moved the ball well – – until it came time to put it in the end zone. Dolphins had 415 yards of offense for the day. The Dolphins’ only TD in the game came in the final 2 minutes of the game. Up until then all the scoring drives ended in field goals but the drives were impressive until the end:
- 41-yard field goal after 9 plays and 64 yards consuming 4:02
- 29-yard field goal after 8 plays and 64 yards consuming 3:43
- 45-yard field goal after 10 plays and 48 yards consuming 4:21
- 43-yard field goal after 10 plays and 55 yards consuming 5:49
- 29-yard field goal after 17 plays and 73 yards consuming 7:59
[Aside: There were only 3 penalties called in the game – – all 3 were against the Dolphins. That is an oddity…]
The Browns beat the Cowboys 49- 38. The Cowboys’ offense is gold-plated; the Cowboys’ defense is putrid; that defense gave up 508 yards to the Browns here. At one point, the Browns scored 30 unanswered points in this fiasco. The bad news for Browns is that Nick Chubb left the game in the first half and could not return. Here are two stats I ran across earlier this week relative to the Cowboys and the Browns:
- The last two teams to score 49 or more points on the Cowboys in Dallas both made it to the Super Bowl later that season. The Eagles did it in 2004 and the Broncos did it in 2013.
- Dak Prescott has had to throw the ball a ton this year playing catch-up or keep-up due to the lack of a Cowboys’ defense. Prescott is on pace to throw for 6,760 yards this year. For perspective, the NFL single season record for passing yards is held by Peyton Manning at a mere 5,477 yards.
The Rams beat the Giants 17- 9. The Giants’ defense played very well here; the Rams could only generate 240 yards total offense for the game. Meanwhile, the Giants’ offense was pathetic; they got to the Red Zone 4 times and came away with 3 chip-shot field goals and nothing else. This is the second straight game where the Giants have not scored a TD.
The Panthers beat the Cards 31-21. I have two questions here:
- When are the Arizona Cardinals going to learn how to beat the teams they are supposed to beat?
- Is the Panthers’ defense REALLY that good?
The Cards only managed to produce 262 yards on offense for the day as compared to 444 yards for the Panthers. The Panthers ran the ball for 168 yards averaging almost 5 yards per carry – – without Christian McCaffrey. That rushing game allowed the Panthers to control the ball for 37 minutes. The Panthers have won 2 in a row with McCaffrey on the sidelines.
The Colts beat the Bears 19-11. With this victory, the Colts extend their record to 3-1 even though they are only scoring 14 points per game. Much of the game coverage focused on the fact that Nick Foles was “less than fully successful” as a starting QB once again in this game. Overlooked was that this Colts’ defense is very good. In this game, the Colts’ defense held the Bears to 28 yards rushing; talk about making an offense one-dimensional… The Colts’ offense needs to wake up; it is hard to win in the NFL in 2020 if you cannot score.
The Bills beat the Raiders 30-23: Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs have found “their chemistry”; this was another game where Diggs had more than 100 yards receiving. The Bills’ defense was better in this game than it has been earlier in the season. Two fourth quarter fumbles lost by the Raiders sealed the deal here. Do not ignore Josh Allen and his performance for the Bills to date this year; has a 122.7 QB Rating for the first 4 games this year. Forget the number itself and how it is calculated; focus on this:
- Only Russell Wilson has a higher QB Rating for the first four games of 2020.
The Chiefs beat the Pats 26-10. The game was close until a Pick-Six in the second half by Chiefs put it out of reach. The Pats’ defense kept them in the game; the Chiefs had all of 6 points at halftime. Brian Hoyer played poorly here making mental and physical errors until he was pulled in favor of Jarret Stidham in the second half.
The Eagles beat the Niners 25-20. The Eagles lead the NFC East at 1-2-1. They are a hot mess; the Cowboys are a simmering mess; the WTFs and the Giants are a mess at a rolling boil. The Eagles won despite fielding a receiving corps made up of Manny Moe and Jack. [If you are too young to relate to that trio, Google is your friend…] The Niners were also in a state worse than decimation regarding injuries – – and it showed. The Niners’ Brandon Aiyuk looks as if he going to be a really good WR.
The Packers beat the Falcons 30-16. This was another game that was never in doubt. The Falcons are 0-4 and face a crucial part of their schedule:
- Vs Panthers
- At Vikes
- Vs Lions
- At Panthers
- Vs Broncos
Those are 5 winnable games in a row for the Falcons. They need to win at least 4 of those games. Meanwhile, the Packers are 4-0 for two years in a row – – the first time that has happened on “the frozen tundra” since some guy named Lombardi was their coach. The Falcons never led last week; so, there was no possibility of them blowing a lead to lose yet another game. Packers’ TE, Robert Tonyan, caught 6 passes for 98 yards and 3 TDs here. Raise your hand if you know where he played college football. That would be at Indiana State in the Missouri Valley Football Conference facing opponents such as N. Dak. State, S. Dak. State, Illinois State, and Missouri State.
One last thing before getting to this week’s games… The Broncos now have 4 QBs on their roster who are between the ages of 23-28. I feel confident in saying that none of them have yet proven conclusively that they are “the franchise QB for the Broncos over the next five years”. That means the Broncos need to develop one of these four – – or start over in a QB search that seems never to end in Denver. Here are the incumbents in alphabetical order:
- Blake Bortles – age 28
- Jeff Driskel – age 27
- Drew Lock – age 23
- Brett Rypien – age 24
The Lions and the Packers are on their BYE Weeks. The Lions need to figure out how to hold onto leads; the Packers need to keep doing what they have been doing because it has resulted in a 4-0 record and an average of 38 points per game on the scoreboard.
Carolina at Atlanta – 1 (54): The spread for this game is all over the place. It opened the week at 3.5 points and has been dropping all week. This morning you can find it at 2 points, and you can find the game as a “pick ‘em game”. The Panthers have been a positive surprise for their fans; nothing remotely similar can be said of the Falcons so far this year. As noted above, this begins a critical 5-game stretch for the Falcons; winning this game at home might be a turning point for the Falcons’ season; losing this game at home might render the season moot. The temptation is strong to take this game to stay UNDER 54 points – – but I shall resist that temptation.
Las Vegas at KC – 11 (55): The Chiefs offense sputtered last week against the Pats’; a late game Pick-Six made it look as if the Chiefs figured things out in the second half. The Raiders’ defense is a bit more porous; the Raiders’ defense has allowed 30 points per game so far this year – – and – – the Raiders have not yet faced an offense quite as explosive as the one it will face here. I really hate double-digit spreads in the NFL so I will avoid making a selection here but there are two “trend stats” that are interesting:
- Chiefs are 11-1-1 in covering the spread in their last 13 games
- Andy Reid is 10-4 covering the spread against the Raiders since he took over in KC.
Denver at New England (no lines): If this game is played this weekend, I suspect the Broncos’ offense will not score 37 points as it did last weekend. If Cam Newton is cleared to play, I think the Pats win comfortably; if the Pats need to play Brian Hoyer and/or Jarret Stidham, I think the Pats will win but it will be close.
Rams – 7.5 at Washington (45): The good news for the Rams is that the WTFs are not a good team. The bad news for the Rams is that this is their 3rd trip to the East Coast in 5 weeks and that has to take a toll; the offense was lethargic against the Giants last week. Much of the focus will be on Kyle Allen starting in place of Dwayne Haskins this week. If you are sentenced to watching this game by your local TV coverage, do not focus on Allen at QB; focus on Aaron Donald playing against the OL of the WTFs.
Jax at Houston – 5 (54.5): On Wall Street, when a company is in desperate straits and their stock drops 50 % in a day or two, the traders look for what the call a “Dead Cat Bounce”. That means at some point the stock will show a sharp small rise in price because it sold off so quickly much the way a dead cat’s carcass would “bounce” if you threw it out of a 10-story window. The Houston Texans are due for the NFL analog of the “Dead Cat Bounce” this week. They have a new head man on the sidelines; there are probably a few players who now realize that ownership might consider certain players’ jobs “expendable” just as it did with the recently departed coach. Add to that situation this simple and unavoidable fact:
I think the Texans get their first win of the season here and I think they do it in style; I’ll take the Texans to win and cover; put it in the Six-Pack.
Buffalo at Tennessee (no lines): Take away all the drama surrounding the Titans and their COVID-19 outbreak, and this would be a VERY interesting game – – in fact, the Game of the Week. But I suspect the drama will win out here. Too bad…
Arizona – 7.5 at Jets (46.5): Joe Flacco takes over for Sam Darnold this week. Other than that, I cannot find anything abut this game that is interesting. This is my Dog-Breath Game of the Week.
Philly at Pittsburgh – 7 (44): This is a battle between two division-leading teams. Yes, the Steelers are 3-0 and have shown a really good defense thus far in 2020. Meanwhile, the Eagles are merely the least worst team in the NFC East. I think the Steelers’ defense will dominate here; I like the Steelers at home to win and cover; put it in the Six-Pack.
Cincy at Baltimore – 13 (51): Lamar Jackson sat out a practice earlier this week to rest a sore knee; the next day they said he had an “illness”. The line for the game did not move even a half-point with either announcement. Joe Burrow got his first NFL win last week throwing for 300 yards against the Jags. Lamar Jackson or no Lamar Jackson, the Ravens’ defense is quite a different animal than the Jags’ defense.
Miami at SF – 9 (52): The Total Line for this game opened the week at 48.5 points and has been climbing all week; it is even at 52.5 at two sportsbooks now. As of this morning, it is not certain if Jimmy Garoppolo can play this weekend; that 9-point spread says – or at least assumes – he will be in the starting lineup. But who knows? The Dolphins are not a good team but the Niners are the football equivalent of a field hospital. I like the Dolphins to keep it closer than a TD; so, I’ll take then plus the points. AND, since the concept of a Six-Pack is generic and not literal, I will ALSO take this game to stay UNDER.
Giants at Dallas – 9 (54): This game got serious consideration as the Dog-Breath Game of the Week. Here we have an inept offense for the Giants that has not produced a single TD in two full games against a Cowboys’ defense that gives up 36.5 points per game. Best thing I can say about the game is that it is a “division rivalry”.
Indy – 1 at Cleveland (46.5): The Colts have only given up 56 points this year in 4 games. That is the lowest total in the NFL even though the Steelers and their excellent defense has only played 3 games. I think this will be a low scoring game that never is outside a one-score contest.
(Sun Nite) Minnesota at Seattle – 7 (56.5): The Vikes got an important win last week in that it took some of the heat off Mike Zimmer and the coaching staff. The bad news for this week is that the Vikes’ defense has given up 31 points per game and the Seahawks have the second-highest scoring offense in the NFL at 35.5 points per game. This should be a high-scoring affair and I do not think the Vikes can keep pace.
(Mon Nite) Chargers at New Orleans – 8 (50): The Saints are 2-2 – – but the eyeball test says they are “better than that”. The Chargers are 1-3 – – but the eyeball test says they might be “better than that”. Here is a trend you might find interesting:
- The Saints have covered the spread in their last 13 games played in the month of October.
Finally, since I mentioned directly the sorry state of the NY Jets at this time, let me present you with a quotation from former Jets’ QB, Geno Smith as a way to remind you that the Jets have been “problematic” for a while now:
“It’s almost exciting to think about all the room for improvement that we have.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………