Over the last few days, election officials around the country have gone to great lengths to align themselves with “transparency” as they tabulate votes and make the results known to the public. Similarly, I have a dedication to transparency here in Curmudgeon Central.
- I declare that I am fully committed to producing Football Friday whenever possible.
So, let me begin this week with a review of last week’s Six-Pack:
- College: 2-1-0
- NFL: 0-3-0
- Combined: 2-4-0
Here are the Six-Pack results since the beginning of the football season:
- College: 8-12-1
- NFL: 13-13-1
- Combined: 21-25-2
Natural selection seeks to explain the adaptation of life forms to the habitat they populate. Charles Darwin observed different beak shapes for varieties of finches in the Galapagos Islands where each beak shape was optimally efficient for opening the prevalent seeds on the various islands. Much less dramatically, football coaches evolve too. They do not modify their “beak shape” but they modify their outlook about the game.
Take Nick Saban as an example. If you go looking, you will find a time when Nick Saban was a “defense-first” coach and that he thought the idea of college football moving toward spread formations and hurry-up offenses was not good for the game nor was it good for the health and safety of the players. That was then; this is now.
Alabama is still a good defensive team; they may not be the best in the country, but they are certainly better than most. However, it is on offense that Nick Saban’s team has shown significant change. So far in 2020, Alabama averages:
- 47.2 points per game
- 380 yards passing per game
- 172 yards rushing per game
- 552 yards total offense per game
Not bad for a defense-first team…
Even before the calendar flipped into November, there were no Big-12 teams left undefeated. There were two of them as of last Saturday morning and both lost on Saturday afternoon.
- Three teams (Iowa State, Kansas State and Oklahoma State) have 1 loss.
- Three teams (Oklahoma, Texas and West Virginia) have two losses.
If the Big-12 is going to offer up a serious candidate for the CFP Selection Committee to consider, it will surely come from those teams with only 1 loss. The problem is that only Oklahoma State can point to the fact that its loss came at the hands of a team that most fans have heard about. Iowa State lost its opening game to La-Lafayette; K-State lost its opening game to Arkansas State. Oklahoma State’s loss was at the hands of Texas; the Longhorns are not an elite team – – but most fans would assert that they know more about Texas than either La-Lafayette or Arkansas State or both.
There is a constant in the Big-12 this year; Kansas stinks. The Jayhawks are 0-6 which is bad on its face. In addition, 4 of those 6 losses have been by 30 points or more. There are not enough plastic surgeons in the world to put a good face on that record. This week Kansas will visit Oklahoma and they are currently 38-point underdogs. The Les Miles Era at Kansas is not shaping up very well so far…
In looking at the Big-12 conference schedule, I got off on a tangent and started to look ahead to big games coming over the rest of the season. What I found was that this week is prime real estate for important games; there are five of them. Looking at this weekend:
- BYU/Boise St. Tonight: BYU is undefeated so far; Boise St. just started its Mountain West Conference season.
- Florida/Georgia Tomorrow: Winner here takes control of the SEC East.
- Clemson/Notre Dame Tomorrow: Both teams are undefeated and ranked in the Top 5.
- Oklahoma State/ K-State Tomorrow: Two of the three Big-12 teams with only 1 loss.
- Cincy/Houston: Tomorrow: Houston averages 37 points per game and has only 1 loss; Cincy is undefeated; its defense only allows 12 points per game and the Bearcats have an eye on a New Year’s Day Bowl Game.
Here are some other big games scheduled for later on:
- Alabama/LSU Nov 14
- Oklahoma St/Oklahoma Nov 21: Game is always one to watch and it might be a key game to determine who plays in the Big 12 Championship Game.
- Auburn/Alabama Nov 28: Always an important college football game.
- Ohio St/Michigan: Dec 12: Always an interesting college football game even when it is not all that important.
West Virginia beat K-State 37-10. So much for the Wildcats being the best team in the Big-12… Yes, West Virginia is always a tough out at home, but this was not a contest. K-State was shut out in the second half, gained only 221 yards (41 on the ground) and gave up 485 yards of offense.
Texas beat Oklahoma St. 41-34 in OT. Ok. St had 530 yards on offense and Texas had 287. Texas only converted 2 of 15 third down situations; Texas was penalized 13 times for 142 yards – – and they won the game. Four turnovers by Ok. St. made that possible. Three times Texas started a drive in the Red Zone thanks to those turnovers. Texas also got a kickoff return for a TD in the game.
Alabama beat Mississippi State 41-0. It was not nearly that close.
Georgia beat Kentucky 14-3. I said last week this could be a “look-ahead game” for the Dawgs. Kentucky held Georgia to 131 yards passing and intercepted two of Georgia’s pass attempts. The Georgia defense is elite – – but the offense is anemic.
Auburn beat LSU 48-11. The game was 21-3 at the half and 42-3 after 3 quarters. “Bad LSU” showed up last week; “Good LSU” stayed home in Baton Rouge…
Clemson beat BC 34-28. The stats for this game are strange. Clemson outgained BC by 173 yards; usually that means a bigger win than 6 points. Clemson RB, Travis Etienne had 224 all-purpose yards and 2 TDs; no one on BC even came close to that. BC won the turnover battle 1-0 but that still does not explain the close score. BC scored on a 99-yard scoop-and-score and a miracle catch in the end zone for another TD in first half. Clemson trailed 28-10 with 1 minute to go in the first half. Clemson remains unbeaten – – but they got a scare here without Trevor Lawrence in the game.
Notre Dame beat Ga Tech 31-13. This week the Irish have Clemson come to visit in South Bend and Trevor Lawrence is not going to be the QB in that game. This is huge spot for Notre Dame.
Virginia beat UNC 44-41. Last week, I said that the small spread with UNC as the favorite surprised me; well, the outcome surprised me even more. The Tar Heels won the stat battle because they were behind for most of the game and were throwing the ball a lot. Virginia’s attack was balanced gaining 210 yards on the ground and 208 yards in the air.
Michigan St. beat Michigan 27-24. This is a week after the Spartans lost to Rutgers and Michigan dominated Minnesota. This result was no fluke; the stats were even. One difference is that Michigan gave Michigan St. 5 first downs on penalties in the game. Michigan was a 24.5-point favorite at kickoff and the game was in Ann Arbor. This is a terrible loss for the Wolverines. Jim Harbaugh is in his sixth year at Michigan. His record against Michigan St. is 3-3 and his record against Ohio State is 0-5. He was not hired and paid the huge bucks to lose to those two schools.
Ohio State beat Penn State 38-25. Ohio St. QB, Justin Fields is really good. He was 28-34 for 315 yards and 4 TDs with 0 INTs. The Buckeyes converted 10 of 18 third-down tries and 2 of 3 fourth-down tries in the game. I know it is early, but it sure seems to me as if Ohio State is the class of the Big-10 with a large gap between the Buckeyes and whoever is #2. Consider this amazing stat for Ohio State QB, Justin Fields:
- After 2 games, Justin Fields has thrown 6 TDs and 7 incompletions – – not interceptions, incompletions!
Indiana beat Rutgers 37-21. Maybe Indiana is for real? Maybe Rutgers got a one-time pass from the football gods in Week 1 blowing out Michigan State? Three turnovers in this game did not help the Rutgers cause.
Maryland beat Minnesota 45-44 in OT. The Gophers are 0-2 to start the season; some folks thought that Minnesota was the class of the Big-10 West. A 25-point loss to Michigan in Week 1 followed by a loss to Maryland makes me skeptical about those prognostications.
Cincy beat Memphis 49-10. Memphis had been scoring aplenty this year and the Cincy defense took care of that shutting out Memphis in the second half. Moreover, Memphis was held to 5 yards rushing for the game. Memphis had scored 154 points in its previous 4 games this year (38.5 points per game).
Rice beat So. Mississippi 30-6. I wrote last week about how So. Miss was on their 3rd head coach of the year. Well, the new regime did not provide much of a boost last week. On the bright side, Coach #3 has not resigned yet.
Georgia Tech has lost its last 3 games by a combined score of 152-47. They have a BYE Week this week; they probably need one…
For the record, La-Monroe is the only team in the country with an 0-7 record. This week, they will be 20-point underdogs in their game at Georgia State.
College Games of Interest:
(Fri Nite) BYU – 3 at Boise St. (61): BYU is scoring 44.4 points per game and yielding only 13.4 points per game. Boise State is probably the toughest team on the schedule of this independent, so this is an interesting game. If you get a chance to see BYU and its QB Zack Wilson, do so. I think Wilson will be a high draft pick in next year’s NFL Draft.
Houston at Cincy – 13.5 (54.5): The spread opened with Cincy as a 10.5-point favorite and has been expanding all week. Additionally, the Total Line opened at 58.5 and has been contracting.
Michigan – 3 at Indiana (54): The Hoosiers squeaked by Penn State in Week 1 and then beat Rutgers last week. They are undefeated – – but are they good? Michigan looked powerful against Minnesota in Week 1 and then wet the bed last week against Michigan State (see above). Are they any good?
Michigan St. at Iowa – 6.5 (45.5): The most interesting thing here is the Total Line which opened the week at 56.5 and has collapsed by eleven points. That does not happen often.
Oklahoma St. – 12.5 at Kansas St. (45): As noted above, this is a big game in the Big-12. I think these two teams will be able to move the ball on each other, so I think the Total Line is easily within reach. K-State scores 31 points per game and Ok. St. scores 29.6 points per game. I like this game to go OVER; put it in the Six-Pack.
Nebraska at Northwestern – 4 (54): Northwestern is one of the undefeated teams in the Big-10. Nebraska leads the conference in being annoying.
Florida at Georgia – 3.5 (52.5): The winner of this game is in the catbird’s seat in the SEC East. Georgia’s top-shelf defense is missing 3 starters; Georgia’s offense may be hobbled by the good health of QB Stetson Bennett who has underperformed this year. Last week he only threw 14 passes in the game – and 2 of them were interceptions. I think Florida has too many advantages in this game; I’ll take Florida plus the points; put it in the Six-Pack.
Vandy at Mississippi St. – 19.5 (44): The Air Raid offense has sputtered mightily the last 3 weeks scoring 16 points in those 3 games. Vandy is a mess; if the Air Raid offense cannot score in this game, there could be unrest in Starkville. Vandy ranks 99th (out of 115 teams) in the country in pass defense giving up an average of 292.8 yards per game.
Clemson – 4 at Notre Dame (50): If Clemson loses without Trevor Lawrence, they will likely still get the benefit of the doubt by pollsters down the line. If Notre Dame loses at home without having to face Trevor Lawrence, I believe their hopes of being in the CFP will be seriously damaged. In fact, Notre Dame’s path to the CFP- – if they lose here – – may require them to win the ACC Championship Game over Clemson in mid-December with Trevor Lawrence on the field.
UMass at Marshall – 44.5 (55): Independent UMass rescinded their season cancellation and came back for games like this?
Figuratively speaking, LB, Avery Williamson, was on death row and just got a “pardon from the governor”. What actually happened was that Williamson was traded from the Jets (NFL death row so to speak since it is the only winless team in the league) to the Steelers (the only undefeated team in the league). The Steelers need linebacker depth in the wake of a season ending injury to Devin Bush. For that reason, the trade seems lopsided to me:
- Steelers get Williamson plus the Jets 7th round pick in 2022
- Jets get Steelers 5th round pick in 2022
- Bottom Line: Jets move up 40-50 slots in back end of the 2022 draft and Steelers get linebacker depth they need.
At one point in the Star Wars movie, Darth Vader declares that “The Force is strong in this one”. I believe that in real life:
- The Force of Habit is strong in football coaches.
Pay attention to coaches on the sideline who are wearing masks and calling in plays – – offense or defense – – over the headset. Those mask-wearing coaches – – kudos to them for doing that – – also take their playsheets and cover their faces with the playsheets as the call goes in. That is “Force of Habit”.
- Memo to Mask-Wearing Coaches: Lip-reading through the mask you have on is sufficiently difficult for opposing coaches and players without having to add the extra layer of protection provided by the playsheet.
Antonio Brown has served his NFL suspension and has been signed by the Tampa Bay Bucs. Reports say he could be activated for this week’s games. Bob Molinaro of the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot offered this cogent observation on that situation:
“Fact check: Now that the troublesome Antonio Brown is joining Tom Brady’s Bucs, people need to stop saying that everybody deserves a second chance. By rough estimate, this is Brown’s fourth.”
Before going to last week’s happenings, let me ask a serious question and then provide one answer to it:
- Question: Which team – the Chargers or the Falcons – has put together the more frustrating season in 2020?
- The Chargers have lost 3 games where they led by 17 points or more during the game.
- The Falcons have lost 2 games where they led by 16 points during the game and they have lost 2 games on the final play of the game.
- Answer: We shall find out on December 13th. On that day, the Falcons will make their way to Los Angeles to play the Chargers.
The Dolphins beat the Rams 28-17. Tua Tagovailoa started the game and the Dolphins won but the win was despite Tua’s performance. Here is his stat line:
- 12 of 22 for 93 yards with 1 TD and 0 INTs
- 2 carries for 0 yards
The Dolphins got TDs from a 78-yard “Scoop-and-Score” and an 88-yard punt return in the span of a minute-and-a-half in the second quarter. In the second half, the Dolphins’ defense played bend-not-break style and won the game. The Rams had the ball for more than 36 minutes here and won the stat battle 417 yards of offense to 145 yards offense for the Dolphins. The Rams turned the ball over 4 times in the game. This was a nice win for the Dolphins putting them at 4-3 for the season but will that mode of play post many more wins in the future?
The Bengals beat the Titans 31-20. Joe Burrow was efficient and effective in the game; the Titans did not sack him even once in the game. Equally important is the fact that the Bengals’ defense kept Derrick Henry from dominating the game with his running; the Bengals had the ball for almost 36 minutes. There was only one turnover in the game, but it was a timely one by the Bengals’ defense; they intercepted Ryan Tannehill when the Titans had marched to the Red Zone.
The Vikes beat the Packers 28-22. Dalvin Cook simply ran wild in this game scoring all four of the Vikes’ TDs. He carried the ball 30 times for 163 yards, and he caught 2 passes for another 63 yards. The Packers outgained the Vikes for the day but the result on the scoreboard is what matters. The Packers’ defense allowed the Vikes to gain 5.1 yards per rush attempt. Just to clarify, that is not good…
The Colts beat the Lions 41-21. The Colts’ defense sacked Matthew Stafford 5 times and contributed a Pick-Six to this game. The Lions could not run the ball at all gaining only 29 yards on the ground for the entire game. Meanwhile, the Colts dominated the clock; in the first quarter of the game, the Colts had the ball for 13 minutes and 15 seconds. With the Titans losing last week, the Colts and Titans are tied atop the AFC South – – and they have both of their head-to-head matchups still to come. (Colts at Titans on Nov 12th and Titans at Colts on Nov 29th.)
The Chiefs beat the Jets 35-9. Patrick Mahomes had a big day here throwing for 416 yards and 5 TDs. The Jets’ total offense for the day was 221 yards and 0 TDs. The Jets never got into the Rad Zone; this game was a classic beatdown.
The Steelers beat the Ravens 28-24. Last week, I said this was the Game of the Week and that it was going to be a great game to watch. Allow me to dislocate my shoulder while I pat myself on the back; I got both of those comments right. The Steelers’ defense played a great game sacking Lamar Jackson 4 times, intercepting 2 passes (one was a Pick-Six) and recovering 2 fumbles. The Ravens had the ball for 35:22 in the game and outgained the Steelers 457 yards to 221 yards, but when the Steelers got to the Red Zone, they were 3 for 3 in getting TDs. The Ravens got there 5 times and got a TD on only 3 of those visits. The Ravens dominated play in the first half running 45 offensive plays to only 20 for the Steelers. But the Steelers found ways to hang in and keep it close enough to win in the 4th quarter.
The Steelers have now beaten the Titans and the Ravens on the road in successive games. This week, the Steelers appear to get a breather with the Cowboys – – but the game is in Dallas so this will be the third-consecutive road game for the Steelers…
The Bills beat the Pats 24-21. This is the fourth consecutive loss for the Pats and there seems to be a theme to the way they lose. The offense is lackluster and the Pats fall behind; then, the offense then wakes up – – but the Pats’ offense even at its best is not one that is designed to come from behind… The Bills’ defense had difficulty stopping the Pats’ running game last week giving up 188 yards (5.5 yards per carry). The Bills rightfully have their sights set on the playoffs in 2020 but they will need to have a better run defense in place if they expect to do any damage in playoff games.
I can see lots of reasons for Pats’ troubles this season. Tom Brady left, and they had 7 players opt-out for 2020 due to COVID concerns. But there’s more. The Pats have not fared well at the top of the NFL Draft for quite a while:
- 2017: No first-round picks or second round picks here . In the third round they took Derek Rivers and Antonio Garcia. Rivers is on the roster but has played in only 12 games with the Pats; Garcia never made the team.
- 2018: Isaiah Wynn and Sony Michel were first round picks who have played well but not stayed healthy. Duke Dawson taken in Round 2 has played a bit but not with any great distinction.
- 2019: N’Keal Harry in the first round has been a disappointment to say the least – – especially considering that Deebo Samuel was still on the board when the Pats took Harry. Joejuan Williams from Round 2 is merely OK. The best player from this draft came in Round 3 – Chase Winovich.
- 2020: No first-round picks last year. Kyle Dugger and Josh Uche (Round 2) have played a bit as have Anfernee Jennings and Devin Asiasi (Round 3) – – but no one is touting any of these guys as “Rookie of the Year” material.
The Broncos beat the Chargers 31-30. The Chargers led 24-3 with 7:44 left to play in the third quarter – – and manufactured a way to lose the game. In the 4th quarter, the Broncos scored 3 TDs and the Chargers settled for 2 FGs. I want to focus on the fourth quarter of this game here and do a bit of math. Here is Broncos’ QB, Drew Lock’s stat line for the game:
- 26 of 41 for 248 yards with 3 TDs and 1 INT
Now, here is Drew Lock’s stat line for the fourth quarter:
- 13 of 16 for 150 yards with 3 TDs and 0 INTs
Ergo, for the first 3 quarters of that game, the Chargers’ defense was making Drew Lock look like he was overmatched with a stat line of:
- 13 of 25 for 98 yards with 0 TDs and 1 INT
The Raiders beat the Browns 16-6. The weather conditions for this game were awful and had a lot to do with keeping the score down. It was pretty obvious early on that the wind and rain was going to make the passing game problematic for the day. So, the Raiders resorted to a bludgeoning run game featuring Josh Jacobs and Devin Booker who carried the ball a total of 36 times for 157 yards.
The Saints beat the Bears 26-23 in OT. The Bears’ defense played well. The Bears’ offense rallied from 10 points down with 10 minutes left in the game to force OT, but Alvin Kamara was the spark that set up the Saints for the winning FG in OT. Kamara had 67 yards rushing (on 12 carries) and he caught 9 passes for 96 yards in the game.
The Eagles beat the Cowboys 23-9. This was an ugly game on both sides. How or why the Cowboys’ offensive braintrust managed to ignore Amari Cooper is bizarre. Cooper caught 1 pass for 5 yards for the whole game. Ben DiNucci played as well as one could expect from a 3rd string rookie QB taken in the 7th round of the Draft just 7 months ago. Just to clarify, DiNucci was overmatched… There were 6 turnovers in this game and the total offense by BOTH teams was a measly 487 yards.
The Seahawks beat the Niners 37-27. DK Metcalf had a monster of a game catching 12 passes for 161 yards and 2 TDs. The Seahawks’ defense held the Niners to 351 yards – – which is about 130 yards below the Seahawks’ average coming into the game.
Last night, the Packers dominated the Niners from the start of the game to the end winning the game 34-17. Do not be fooled by the final score; the Niners scored 2 classic “garbage time touchdowns” to avoid abject embarrassment. The Niners put up a struggle but with 8 starters out of the lineup from the outset, they brought brass knuckles to an axe fight. The most important thing that I saw in this game was that the Packers’ defense did indeed know how to tackle an opposing player with the ball. That had not been evident in last week’s loss to the Vikes.
Here are the teams on their BYE Weeks:
- Bengals: Raise your hand if you thought the Bengals would go into their BYE Week with a record better than 6 other NFL teams.
- Browns: They have shown that they can beat bad and mediocre teams but cannot hang with the “the big guys”. Can a BYE Week provide answers?
- Eagles: They lead the NFC East this morning; they will lead the NFC East after their BYE Week is over. Hi ho…
- Rams: They are squarely in the playoff picture – – but when they have an “off game” they look as if they belong in the SEC as opposed to the NFL.
Seattle – 3 at Buffalo (55): I worry about “body-clock games” for West Coast teams playing in the Eastern Time Zone at 1:00 PM ET. For some reason, that phenomenon seems not to affect the Seahawks. Consider:
- Seahawks are 7-1-1 against the spread in the ET zone since 2018
- Russell Wilson is 18-7-2 against the spread in the ET zone since he came into the NFL in 2012.
I do not think the Bills’ defense is up to the task of containing the Seahawks’ offense; unless last week was the dawning of awareness for the Seahawks’ defense, it is not up to the task of stopping anyone. I think the key here is that Russell Wilson is fundamentally a better QB in 2020 than Josh Allen is; I think the Seahawks can win and cover on the road; put it in the Six-Pack.
Denver at Atlanta – 4 (49.5): The Falcons are 2-1 under the leadership of interim coach, Raheem Morris. The Broncos are riding high after a miracle comeback win last week over the Chargers (see above). The Falcons’ defense is prone to give up big plays; it has given up more passing yards (1508) than any other team in the league. Actually, I do not trust either defense here; I think the game will go OVER; put it in the Six-Pack.
Chicago at Tennessee – 6.5 (47): Both teams have lost two games in a row, but their problems/issues are divergent. The Titans’ defense is a mess; the Bears’ offense is a mess. The Titans’ offense is good – – but inconsistent; the Bears’ defense is excellent. Two stats will collide in this game:
- Titans’ defense is the worst in the NFL allowing 62% on third-down conversions.
- Bears’ offense is 31st in the NFL converting 35% in third-down situations.
Detroit at Minnesota – 4 (52): There are two highly unreliable teams from week to week. Will Kirk Cousins throw multiple INTs this week? Will Dalvin Cook continue to look like a latter-day version of Emmitt Smith? Matthew Stafford is questionable to play due to COVID protocols and if he does, will he throw 4 TDs or get sacked 6 times in the game? Just ignore this game…
Baltimore – 1.5 at indy (48): This spread opened the week at 4 points and you can find it as low as “pick ‘em” this morning. Almost assuredly the reason for such a contraction is that the Ravens have reported 7 defensive players on the “COVID List” including their 3 starting linebackers and 2 more backups at that position. Do not be surprised to hear that the Ravens put in a call to Dr. Anthony Fauci later today – – not for the purpose of learning about the coronavirus but to ask if he things he could step in and play linebacker on Sunday.
Carolina at KC – 10.5 (52.5): The Panthers are on a 3-game losing streak and the NFL schedule maker has decided to send them to the mid-west to play the Chiefs this week. That comes across to me as sadistic. Christian McCaffrey might be back and ready to play in this game – – but that will not be enough for the Panthers to prevail here.
Houston – 6.5 at Jax (50): The spread opened here at 4 points and the Total Line at 56 points. Both line movements are large enough to notice. The record for both of these teams is 1-6 on the season, and both are well out of contention in the AFC South race. To be sure, there is Dog-Breath Game of the Week potential here. However, I see potential value here because even though Jax had a BYE Week last week, I do not think this is the start of something special in Jax given that Gardner Minshew will be replaced at QB by Jake Luton – – a 6th round draft pick last April out of Oregon State. If the Jags are going to start Luton at QB, their game plan must focus on the run game for two reasons:
- First, the odds are that Jake Luton is not going to light up the scoreboard with multiple TDs in his first start.
- Second, the Texans defense gives up 5.2 yards per rushing attempt – – tied for worst in that category in the NFL.
On the other hand, Jax is not a pass-rushing juggernaut having recorded a total of 6 sacks in 7 games. If Deshaun Watson has time to throw the ball, he will pick apart the carcass that is the Jags’ secondary. I like the Texans to win and cover on the road; put it in the Six-Pack.
Giants at Washington – 2.5 (42): I know; this is a division game, and the NFC East is bad enough as a whole that either of these flawed teams might wind up in the NFL playoffs come January. Now that I have paid due homage to the reality that the football gods present us with, this is the Dog-Breath Game of the Week. Since I am not going to be in the DC suburbs this Sunday, there is a possibility that I will not have this game pollute my television screen at 1:00 PM EST on Sunday – – but I am not far enough away from the DC suburbs to be assured of that possible blessing. I like to watch teams play good defense; in this game, there may be a mirage of “good defense”. Consider:
- Giants rank 29th in the NFL in yards per offensive play (4.9 yards per play).
- WTFs rank 31st in the NFL in yards per offensive play (4.6 yards per play).
The Giants arrive here off a short work week; the WTFs had a BYE Week last week. Somehow, I do not think any of that matters even a whit…
Las Vegas at Chargers “pick ‘em” (51.5): The spread opened the week with the Chargers favored by 3 points. Apparently, the betting public has had enough of the Chargers finding ways to lose games straight up and against the spread.
Pittsburgh – 14 at Dallas (42): I hate double-digit spreads in NFL games. The Eagles beat the Cowboys by 14 points just last week – and kept them out of the end zone for the whole game. The Steelers are better than the Eagles – – particularly on defense. I would not bet on this game with your money, but I will note that the Cowboys will be starting someone other than Ben DiNucci at QB for this game. Di Nucci grew up and played high school football in Gibsonia, PA which is a suburb of Pittsburgh. The Cowboys’ decision to start either Cooper Rush or Garrett Gilbert over DeNucci means that any sort of “homecoming mojo” has been eliminated. This is a classic “let-down game” for the Steelers; it is their third straight road game and their last two victories on the road have come over clearly superior opponents – – the Titans and the Ravens. As of this morning, the Steelers are at minus-1000 on the Money Line. Dwight Perry reported in the Seattle Times what a successful bet at minus-1000 odds returns to the bettor:
“A bettor plunked down $8,600 on No. 1 Clemson — at minus-1,000 odds — to beat Syracuse and collected $8.60 from FanDuel for his troubles.
“That’s like shelling out for the Kobe beef and Maine lobster just to get the after-dinner mint.”
Miami at Arizona – 4 (49): This spread began the week at 6 points and has contracted since then. If I had to guess, I would say that the Dolphins’ win over the Rams last week has been the major motivator for contracting the spread on the game. The Dolphins have yielded the fewest points to opponents in their 7 games (18.6 points per game).
(Sun Nite) New Orleans at Tampa Bay – 4.5 (50.5): This spread opened at 6 points and has been slowly eroding as the week progressed. Meanwhile the Total Line opened at 56 points. The original oddsmaker and many bettors remain at loggerheads; the betting public sees this as a closer game than the oddsmakers did last weekend. Because these are two good teams and because this game has great significance regarding the NFC South race, this is my Game of the Week.
(Mon Nite) New England – 7.5 at Jets (41.5): This was a close runner-up in the race for Dog-Breath Game of the week. It features one team – the Patriots – that have not won a game in the last month against a team – the Jets – that has not won a game this season. This is one more bad game for the folks at ESPN to try to make palatable.
So, as I go back to review this week’s Six-Pack, I notice that it is only a Five-Pack. There is an old adage that tells you that you get what you pay for. In the case of Six-Pack selections, they are totally free – – immediately establishing their intrinsic worth. Ergo, I shall live with the situation of a mislabeled Six-Pack for this week:
- Oklahoma St./Kansas St. OVER 45
- Florida +3.5 against Georgia
- Seahawks – 3 over Bills
- Broncos/Falcons OVER 49.5
- Texans – 6.5 over Jags
Finally, apropos of the weekly Six-Pack, a former colleague often said:
“Everyone should make at least one bet a day. If he doesn’t, he could be walking around stupid-lucky and never realize it.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………