Here in Curmudgeon Central, I always look forward to Friday morning in the Fall and early Winter because that is the time to create a new version of Football Friday. About once a season, Friday the Thirteenth intersects with Football Friday making me wonder if making any selections under those circumstances makes even a shred of sense. Today there is an extra burden:
- Football Friday overlaps with Friday the Thirteenth … in the midst of 2020.
Oh well, I have already had a Six-Pack go 0-6-0 earlier this year, so how much worse can today be? <He asks timorously.>
First a review of last week’s Six-Pack which only had 5 entries:
- College: 1-1-0
- NFL: 1-2-0
- Combined: 2-3-0
That brings the season totals – – embarrassingly – – to:
- College: 9-13-1
- NFL: 14-15-1
- Combined: 23-28-2
College Football Commentary:
Since this is 2020 – – the year that will forever be known for COVID-19 – – I suppose it makes sense to acknowledge the breadth and depth of the coronavirus impact on college football for this weekend. Long ago, when just about every sport in the US was shut down, I said that football had a more significant challenge to overcome than other sports that might be able to create a “bubble environment” or more significant challenge than baseball where social distancing is far more prevalent as part of the way the game is played. Moreover, I said that colleges would have a more difficult time controlling viral spread than the NFL for cost reasons and because college players are also out and about in the general student population. Well, this week’s cancellations and postponements give you a snapshot picture of the difficulties facing college football this Fall.
- Memphis at Navy – – postponed
- Texas A&M at Tennessee – – postponed
- Pitt at Georgia Tech – – postponed
- Ohio State at Maryland – – cancelled
- Air Force at Wyoming – – cancelled
- Coastal Carolina at Troy – – postponed
- Auburn at Mississippi State – – postponed
- North Texas at UAB – – cancelled
- La-Monroe at Arkansas State – – postponed
- Georgia at Missouri – – postponed
- Rice at La Tech – – postponed
- Alabama at LSU – – postponed
These twelve “schedule disruptions” have hit small programs and big programs and they are widely spread geographically. Some conferences have some contingency openings in their concocted schedules for 2020 and others do not. Four games in the SEC are postponed while one game in each of the Big-10 and the PAC-12 have been cancelled.
BYU beat Boise St. 51-17. The game was in Boise and it was in doubt at the half; BYU led at that point by only 16-3. However, an injury to Boise’s QB in the first half was a bad omen for the Mustangs; then, the floodgates opened. BYU outgained Boise St 573 yards to 310 yards. BYU QB, Zack Wilson had another excellent performance:
- 21 of 27 for 359 yards with 2 TDs and 0 INTs
BYU is now 8-0 on the season. As an independent, BYU has had to patch together a schedule and it is not a tough schedule by any means. However, this sort of win could keep them on track for a New Year’s Day Bowl Game. The Cougars have only two games remaining on the schedule they cobbled together for this year; both are at home. They will be favored next week over North Alabama; they will likely be favored on December 12th over San Diego State.
The topsy-turvy results from Big-10 action last week fits right in with the strangeness of events in 2020. Let me start with the fact that Maryland beat Penn State 35-19. In the last 44 times these teams have met, Maryland has won only 3 times including last weekend. Maryland led 35-7 at the start of the 4th quarter so Penn State made the score look much more respectable in garbage time. Penn State is 0-3 on the season and may be on track for its worst season in a VERY long time. There have even been some rumblings that there is dissatisfaction with coach James Franklin in Happy Valley. I have no inside information on those rumors/rumblings but here is something about which I am confident:
- If Penn State buys out James Franklin’s contract, he will land in a very plush coaching situation very quickly.
The Penn State program took another hit earlier this week when RB, Journey Brown, announced that he would need to stop playing football due to a heart condition. It really has been a bad year in State College…
Iowa beat Michigan State 49-7. What does this tell us about these two teams? Who knows? Michigan St lost to Rutgers in Game 1 and then beat Michigan in Ann Arbor. Then it tossed this clunker out there for examination. Iowa had lost two close games – – to Purdue and Northwestern – coming into this. So, …
- Is Iowa really good?
- Is Michigan State that bad?
- By the way, what does that say about Michigan?
Speaking of the Wolverines, Indiana beat Michigan 38-21. Indiana is not a team built on its defense – – but the Hoosiers were able to hold the Wolverines to 13 yards rushing for the game on 18 carries. What that says to me about Michigan is that the Wolverines are not particularly good.
Northwestern beat Nebraska 21-13. Northwestern is undefeated in the Big-10 West and Nebraska has yet to win a game. The Huskers led 13-7 at the half but were shut out in the second half. Strangely, the stats for this game would suggest a comfortable victory for Nebraska:
- First downs: Nebraska 28 Northwestern 14
- Total offense: Nebraska 442 yards Northwestern 317
- Turnovers: Nebraska 2 Northwestern 2
- Penalties: Nebraska 9 for 55 yards Northwestern 8 for 64 yards
Northwestern is 3-0 this year – – last year the Wildcats won a total of 3 games; things may be looking up in Evanston as much as they are looking bleak in State College…
In a battle of winless teams, Minnesota bludgeoned Illinois 41-14. Here are two stats to demonstrate the dominance here:
- Minnesota outgained Illinois on offense 556 yards to 287 yards.
- Minnesota rushing offense = 325 yards; Illinois total offense = 287 yards.
There was one beacon of normalcy in the Big-10 last week. Ohio State beat Rutgers 49-27. The score was 35-3 at halftime; the final score was not close – – but it was much more respectable than it was at halftime. Ohio State is the consistent performer in the Big-10 this year; and once again, Justin Fields was outstanding posting this stat line:
- 24 of 28 for 314 yards with 5 TDs and 0 INTs
Fields now has thrown 11 incomplete passes this year and he has thrown 11 TDs this year.
In SEC action last week, Florida beat Georgia 44-28. I said last week that Georgia’s injury-riddled defense would not be able to handle Florida; then that injured defense lost another starter due to a targeting call in the 2nd quarter. Florida’s offense is for real; QB Kyle Trask threw 4 TD passes in the game and this is the 5th straight game he has done that. This is the second loss for Georgia; it will take a miracle for them to remain relevant in the SEC let alone in terms of the CFP. It looks today as if the SEC Championship will come down to Alabama and Florida.
Mississippi St. beat Vandy 24-17. This was not exactly an offensive breakout for Mississippi State against a mediocre-at-best Vandy defense, but it was a win. Vandy won the stat battle gaining 478 yards on offense to only 224 yards for the Bulldogs. [Aside: Mississippi St. rushing stats for the day were 10 carries for minus-22 yards. Ugh!] Vandy turned the ball over 5 times in the game (3 INTs and 2 lost fumbles). Therein lies the story…
Over in the Big-12, Oklahoma St. beat K-State 20-18. The Cowboys are now 5-1; the Wildcats drop to 4-2 for the season. Oklahoma State won despite gaining just 261 yards on offense.
Oklahoma beat Kansas 62-9. Kansas is 0-7 and they are a mess. This game was 31-3 at halftime; the score was 62-3 until Kansas scored a TD with 5 seconds left in the game. In the passing game, the Jayhawks were notably inept:
- 14 of 35 for 151 yards with 1 TD and 2 INTs
Iowa St. beat Baylor 38-31. It took a rally by the Cyclones to pull off this win after trailing at halftime 21-10. In the span of about 16 minutes of the second half, Iowa State scored 28 unanswered points to turn the game around. Iowa State is the “other Big-12 team” with only 1 loss on the year.
The PAC-12 got rolling last weekend and USC beat Arizona St 28-27. With 3 minutes to play, Arizona St led 27-14 but USC rallied to pull it out at the end.
Colorado beat UCLA 48-42. Neither defense chose to show up here; the two teams combined to rack up 1003 yards on offense. UCLA turned the ball over 4 times and were still in contention throughout the game; Colorado did not suffer a turnover.
Cincy beat Houston 38-10. Once again, the Cincy defense took a high scoring offense and held it down. The Bearcats gained 510 yards on offense to 282 for the Cougars. In the run game, Cincy had 38 carries for 342 yards (9 yards per carry).
There were several interesting results out of the ACC last week. UNC beat Duke 56-24. At halftime, the Tar Heels led 42-10 and cruised in the second half to this victory. The important stat here is the UNC ran the ball for 338 yards (7.2 yards per carry).
BC beat Syracuse 16-13. This was a nail-biter for BC against a 1-win Syracuse squad. The BC defense deserves a lot of credit here holding Syracuse to only 240 yards total offense for the day. BC had offensive troubles too gaining only 288 yards total offense. This was a classic “sandwich game” for BC. Two weeks ago, BC played Clemson to a close game; next week, Notre Dame comes for a visit.
Pitt beat Florida St 41-17. The game was close at halftime with the Panthers on top 24-17. Then the Pitt defense shut down the Seminoles for whole the second half. Florida St. rushing stats look reasonable at first – – 35 carries for 146 yards. In reality, the run game was marginal; 88 of those rushing yards came on a single TD run meaning the other 34 carries netted a total of 58 yards (1.7 yards per carry). Pitt also recorded 7 sacks in this game.
And in the biggest game of the day last weekend, Notre Dame beat Clemson 47-40 in Double OT. This win keeps Notre Dame “CFP relevant” and could set up a rematch of these teams in the ACC Championship Game down the road. An important stat from this game relates to the Irish run defense. Clemson RB, Travis Etienne, was held to 28 yards on 18 carries. Indeed, with Trevor Lawrence out of the game and in the COVID protocol, the Irish wanted to “stop the run”. Nevertheless, holding the Clemson run game to 35 yards on 32 carries is most impressive.
And way down on the college football totem pole, La-Monroe lost again last week to Georgia State 52-34. La-Monroe is now 0-8 but even a cursory glance at their record gives you an indication of why that record is on the books:
- The Warhawks have given up 31 points or more in all 8 games.
- The only time the La-Monroe offense scored more than 31 points, the defense yielded 52 points.
- The Warhawks’ defense yields an average of 37.9 points per game.
La-Monroe gets a reprieve this week; As noted on the list above, its game against Arkansas State has been postponed until December 12th.
College Games of Interest:
(Fri Nite) Iowa – 3.5 at Minnesota (58): Both teams have been disappointing this year; both teams had comfortable wins last week.
Arkansas at Florida – 17 (59.5): The Gators must avoid a let down here after a big win last week over Georgia. Arkansas has surprised a lot of folks this year, but they face a formidable task in controlling a Florida offense averaging 42.2 points per game.
Notre Dame – 13.5 at BC (50): Talk about the potential for a let-down game… BC has always played Notre Dame tough even though every year it looks as if BC is overmatched on paper. This is my college football Game of the Week.
Miami at Va Tech – 2.5 (68): The Hokies lost at home last week to Liberty and yet they are favored here. Hmmm…
Wisconsin – 4 at Michigan (53): The Badgers trounced Illinois in the opening game of the year and then had two games cancelled in the following weeks. Wisconsin football has been its own little hotspot of COVID-19 for the past couple of weeks and it is not certain if QB, Graham Mertz is going to be out of the protocol and available for the game. Meanwhile, Michigan is floundering with whomever they put on the field. Call this a “mystery game”.
Indiana – 7 at Michigan St. (52): Indiana is 3-0 so far this year and is ranked in the top Ten for the first time since 1969. As a reference point, Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon in 1969. The last time Indiana started a season with a 4-0 record was in 1990. As a reference point, the Gulf War took place in 1990.
Northwestern – 3 at Purdue (50.5): Both teams are undefeated so far this year. Purdue is 2-0 and has a point differential of only 11 points. Meanwhile, Northwestern has only allowed 36 points in its 3 wins.
Illinois at Rutgers – 7 (52): I mentioned above how Illinois was dominated last week by Minnesota. Adding insult to injury, they are now a full touchdown underdog to Rutgers. Normally, Rutgers is not a full touchdown favorite over anything other than Electoral College. I ran across in interesting stat:
- The last time Rutgers was favored in a Big-10 conference game was in 2014.
Cal at Arizona St. – 3.5 (46): At one point, the entire Cal defensive line was in COVID-19 protocol isolation. Are they rested, ready and recovered?
Penn State – 3 at Nebraska (56): Two winless teams here… Something’s gotta give.
[You will note that I have not put any selections from the college football lineup this week in the Six-Pack. I did not forget to do that; I really do not like any of these numbers.]
Unless you have been in a coma since the start of the NFL season, you must have heard folks talking about how Tom Brady and Drew Brees are trading back and forth the record for most TD passes in a career. Well, I ran across another “competition” involving Tom Brady and another active NFL QB that has gotten little to no mention. As of this morning, Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger are tied for 3rd place all-time in the number of times they have been sacked during their careers. Here are those “standings”:
- Brett Favre – – sacked 525 times
- John Elway – – sacked 516 times
- Tom Brady – – sacked 513 times
- Ben Roethlisberger – – sacked 513 times.
It is reasonable to expect both Brady and Roethlisberger to “catch up to” Elway by the end of the 2020 season. If either Brady or Roethlisberger has a masochistic streak and actually wants to “catch up to” Brett Favre on this list, they may need to sign up for another full season of NFL play. Stay tuned…
Having mentioned Ben Roethlisberger here, I can segue easily into a mention of Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Again, you must have heard at least a dozen times by now that the Steelers are off to the best start of a season in franchise history at 8-0. Well, that achieves something else as well; those 8 wins to start the season guarantee that the Steelers under Mike Tomlin will not have a losing season. Why is that a big deal?
- Tomlin has been in Pittsburgh for 14 seasons and the Steelers have never had a losing record in that span.
- Marty Schottenheimer is the only other head coach to begin his NFL coaching career with 14 consecutive seasons without a losing record.
If anyone wanted to propose a “Mount Rushmore” of active NFL coaches, I think the three coaches who would be on the monument without much argument would be Bill Belichick, Andy Reid and Mike Tomlin. You can argue among ourselves about who the other guy ought to be…
I must have heard this wrongly but just in case let me throw it out there. When Jim Nantz and Tony Romo were doing the Dallas/Pittsburgh game last week, I think I heard Romo praise Cowboy QB, Garrett Gilbert, saying – – this is a paraphrase – –
- He’s poised back there. When he gets protection and his receivers get open, he gets the ball to them on time.
Remember, I am not sure that is what Tony Romo said but whatever I heard oor thought I heard made me do a double-take because if Joe Flabeetz gets protection from his OL and Joe Flabeetz’ receivers get open, the strong likelihood is that Joe Flabeetz is going to get the ball to the receiver on time. If that were not the case, he ought not be on the field as a starter in an NFL game. Gilbert played a fine game for his first start in the NFL, so I doubt that Tony Romo was giving him some sort of back-handed compliment. But just in case…
The Chiefs beat the Panthers 33-31. Conventional wisdom has it that the way to beat the Chiefs is to control the clock to keep Patrick Mahomes and company on the sidelines. Well the Panthers did just that last week; they had the ball for 38 of the 60 minutes in the game. Yet, it was not enough. The Panthers benefited from the return of Christian McCaffrey who scored 2 TDs and accounted for 151 yards from scrimmage. The Panthers did more than slow down the Chiefs’ running game (12 carries for 30 yards for the game) but Mahomes and his receivers found ways to get the win. Travis Kelce caught 10 passes for 159 yards.
The Falcons beat the Broncos 34-27. The Broncos trailed 27-6 and almost climbed out of that hole to send the game to OT. The other way to look at this is that the Falcons ran off to a 27-6 lead and almost blew another big lead. The Falcons have won 3 out of 4 games under interim coach Raheem Morris.
The Giants beat the WTFs 23-20. The Giants led at the half 20 -3 and hung on to win. WTF’s QB, Kyle Allen had to leave the game with a season-ending ankle injury and Alex Smith took over going 24 of 32 for 325 yards with 1 TD and 3 INTs – – two of those three INTs came in the last 5 minutes of the 4th quarter Here are three fun facts:
- Daniel Jones record as a starting QB is 5-16-0.
- Four of his five wins have come over the WTFs.
- He is 1-16-0 against the rest of the NFL
The Giants ran for 166 yards in this game against the front seven of the WTFs – – a unit that has 5 first round picks in the group. That is nominally the strength of the WTF’s defense, and it did not show up last week.
The Texans beat the Jags 27-25. The Jags had a shot at a 2-point conversion with 1:30 left to play to send the game to OT – – but it was not to be. Rookie QB Jake Luton played as well as you would expect for a rookie 6th round pick to play (26-38 for 304 yards) ; you cannot pin this loss on him. The Jags’ defense gave up two long TDs in the game (passes of 77 yards and 57 yards). That was the difference.
The Vikes beat the Lions 34-20. The Vikes ran the ball for 275 yards here; Dalvin Cook got 206 of them by himself. Matthew Stafford had a sub-standard day going 23 of 32 for 211 yards with 1 TD and 2 INTs.
The Raiders beat the Chargers 31-26. A goal line stand by the Raiders sealed this win; the Chargers had three shots at the end zone from inside the 5 yardline and could not get the ball in the end zone. The only good news for Chargers’ fans is that they did not go off and lead the game by 20 points and come from ahead to lose the game. The Chargers outgained the Raiders 440 yards to 320 yards and controlled the ball 34:44 minutes to 25:16 – – and still lost. The Raiders averaged 6.2 yards per rushing attempt in the game (26 carries for 160 yards).
The football gods seem to be torturing the Chargers; maybe the football gods did not want them to leave San Diego; maybe the football gods are just being capricious. If you are a Charger fan, you are painfully aware of these stats; for the rest of you…:
- In 2019, the Chargers were 2-9 in one-score games
- In 2020, the Chargers are 1-6 in one-score games
The Bills beat the Seahawks 44-34. Pin this loss squarely on the Seahawks’ defense. Look at game results from around the NFL last week:
- Packers score 34 points – – and win
- Falcons score 34 points – – and win
- Vikes score 34 points – – and win
- Dolphins score 34 points – – and win
- Chiefs score 33 points – – and win
- Raiders score 31 points – – and win.
- Seahawks score 34 points and lose by 10 points!
The Seahawks showed plenty of poor tackling and a lack of tight coverage in the secondary; Josh Allen and the Bills exploited that from start to finish. Allen finished the day with 415 yards passing and 4 TDs – – one running and three passing. The Bills’ defense sacked Russell Wilson 5 times and created 4 turnovers, but the Seahawks still scored 34 points in the game. Somehow, the Seahawks must figure out how to stop an offense that is slightly more adept than a middle-school JV squad.
The Ravens beat the Colts 24-10. Maybe the Ravens defense won this game; maybe Philip Rivers’ lackluster play lost this game. You make the call… Neither offense showed much last week. If these teams harbor hopes of advancing through the playoffs, they are going to have to figure out how to get their offenses to do something to help the defenses. I do not know if Rivers cannot throw the ball downfield or if the play calling is so focused on dink-and-dunk that there is no long-passing game. But that is what showed up on the field in this game – – no downfield passing game. Also, I do not know what happened to the Colts’ run game here. Philip Rivers threw the ball 43 times and Jonathan Taylor carried it 6 times. Really?
The Steelers beat the Cowboys 24-19. I said last week that this could be a let-down game for the Steelers; it was their 3rd straight road game and they had just beaten two tough opponents coming into this game as a double-digit favorite over a team starting a QB in his first NFL game. And that is what the Steelers showed – – lack of energy for the first 25 minutes of the game. Garrett Gilbert looked particularly good starting for the Cowboys at QB, but Ezekiel Elliott looked like a journeyman RB here. He just does not look right to me…
The Dolphins beat the Cards 34-31. Last week, the Dolphins won because of Tua Tagovailoa and not despite him as had been the case two weeks ago. Tua led a 4th quarter comeback from 10 points down to win this game. The Dolphins’ defense also rose to the 4th quarter occasion shutting out the Cards for the final 17 and a half minutes in the game. The Dolphins have won 5 of their last 6 games.
The Saints beat the Bucs 38-3. The game was as lopsided as the score indicates. The Bucs did just about nothing well in any phase of the game. The Bucs abandoned the run in the 1st quarter of this game and only ran the ball 4 times in the game. The stats say 5 times but one of those times was a kneel down at the end of the game to make it mercifully end. Saints have now won 5 in a row and the rest of their schedule is soft. Other than a game against the Chiefs, they do not play another team that has a winning record as of this morning.
The Pats beat the Jets 30-27. For a game that ended with a field goal as time expired, this was not exciting. Both teams showed significant flaws. Seemingly good defensive plays and defensive stands always seemed tainted by the fact that neither offense was consistently good. I am not a scout nor am I a sports kinesiologist, but it sure looks to me as if Cam Newton still has a shoulder “problem”. On the few times he threw the ball downfield more than 10-12 yards, he looked to me to be “short-arming” the throw. As someone who has a chronic shoulder injury, I know what short arming is and what it does, and it looks as if Newton is throwing the football that way.
Last night, the Colts went to Tennessee and beat the Titans 34-17. The Titans had difficulty moving the ball on the Colts’ defense but that is not why the Titans lost the game. The Colts ran up 430 yards of total offense on a Titans’ defense that was pushed around far too often. On top of that the Titans’ special teams were less than proficient:
- Shanked punt set up a Colts TD drive of only 27 yards
- Punt blocked and returned for a Colts’ TD on the next possession.
- Missed field goal
The four teams enjoying a BYE Week are:
- Chiefs get a week off to prepare for an important division game against the Raiders next week.
- Cowboys get a week off to give Garrett Gilbert time to learn the names of his receivers.
- Falcons get a week off and are assured that they will not blow a double-digit lead this weekend.
- Jets get a week off to ponder why all of this is happening to them.
Cincy at Pittsburgh – 10.5 (49): There is a question hanging around out there about Ben Roethlisberger’s availability for the game since he was in contact with another player who tested positive for COVID-19. The fact that the line has not moved significantly from its opening for the week indicates to me that Roethlisberger will play. If he has not practiced, can he be as effective as usual? We shall see. If the Steelers have to play Mason Rudolph at QB, that line is fat. I am not ready to take a real plunge and take the Bengals on the Money Line (+375 this morning) but I think Joe Burrow and company can keep this inside the number. I’ll take the Bengals plus the points; put it in the Six-Pack.
Washington at Detroit – 3.5 (46.5): The Detroit Lions are favored by more than a field goal against another team comprised of players who also get paid to play football. Really? These are two bad teams; in a perfect world neither would get a win here. Be thankful if your viewing area is not in or around DC or Detroit; no other viewing area is going to select this game from the early NFL menu. This is your Dog-Breath Game of the Week.
Houston at Cleveland – 3.5 (51): The Total Line opened this week at 55.5 points. Why the drop? The best I can figure is that people are looking at weather.com and noticing that the forecast for Sunday is 80% chance of rain with winds at 31 miles per hour. If that forecast is even close to correct, these teams could be hard-pressed to score; neither team has a dominant ground attack unless the Browns get Nick Chubb back in action and he plays up to his skill level. I will go with the weatherman here; I’ll take the game to stay UNDER; put it in the Six-Pack.
Jax at Green Bay – 13.5 (51): The Total Line here also opened the week at 55.5 points and seems to have dropped for the same reason as above in the Texans/Browns game. Weather.com says that Sunday in Green Bay has an 80% chance of rain with a high temperature of 40 degrees with winds at 25 miles per hour. I would obviously prefer to have Aaron Rodgers on my side of a selection than either Jake Luton or Gardner Minshew under normal circumstances; under adverse circumstances, that preference only increases. However, I am not going to be laying almost two full TDs here; I will however take the game to stay UNDER; put it in the Six-Pack.
Philly – 3 at Giants (44): These are not powerhouse teams, but it is a division game, and it does mean plenty to the Eagles who lead the NFC East at the moment. Those factors rule it out of the Dog-Breath category. There are conflicting trends at work here:
- Giants are 3-11 in their last 14 games at home straight up.
- Giants are 3-11 in their last 14 games at home against the spread.
- Eagles are 10-1 in their last 11 games versus the Giants – – but – –
- Eagles are 5-6 in their last 11 games versus the Giants against the spread.
I think the Eagles are the better team; I like them to win and cover here despite the last entry in that list above; put it in the Six-Pack.
Tampa – 5.5 at Carolina (50.5) The Total Line here opened the week at 47 points and has risen slowly as the week went along. I cannot concoct a weather-related reason for that. The Panthers have played good opponents very tough this year and they have performed much better than I thought they would back in August. However, this game could turn into a rout if Tom Brady and the Bucs’ offensive folks decide to show the world that they are not nearly as bad as they looked on national TV last week. No selection here; I’ll pass…
Denver at Las Vegas – 4 (51): The Raiders are squarely in the AFC playoff race at 5-3; the Broncos are not out of the playoff race – – but they have a steep hill to climb with a current record of 3-5. It is too early to say this game is critical to the Raiders, but it is close to that. One thing the Raiders cannot allow to happen is that they play lethargically here as they look ahead to next week and a meeting with the Chiefs. Here is my vision for the game:
- Raiders jump out to an early lead and build it to at least 17 points
- Broncos wait until late in the 3rd quarter to come to life
- Broncos rally furiously in 4th quarter to make it close – – but still lose the game
With all that scoring frenzy ongoing, I like this game to go OVER; put it in the Six-Pack.
Buffalo at Arizona – 2.5 (56.5) Here is your Game of the Week; the Total Line opened at 49 points and has risen by more than a touchdown’s worth of points since then. Later on, there is a game matching two rookie QBs who have been impressive so far; this one matches a pair of young – but not rookie – QBs who have been more than impressive so far in 2020. This game has “shootout” written all over it; it should be fun to watch.
Seattle at Rams – 2 (53.5): The Seahawks lead the Rams in the NFC West by a game [Aside: Remember the Cards are in the mix here with the same record as the Rams.] This game is important in terms of the NFC West outcome for next January. The Seahawks have given up 243 points this year; to put that in perspective, that is 3 points more than the Lions have given up this season – – and the Lions stink. It is not clear to me how the Seahawks will stop the Rams’ offense. At the same time, the Seahawks have scored 274 points this year – – almost 35 points per game. The Rams have a good defense, but the Seahawks seem to be able to score on anyone. I see lots of big plays in this one; I like the game to go OVER; put it in the Six-Pack.
SF at New Orleans – 10.5 (48.5) There has been lots of line movement here. The spread opened at 6.5 points and the Total Line was 53.5 points. The Niners have an injury list beyond what is normal. I would have taken the Saints if the spread had stayed where it was set but I am not going to lay two scores with that hook on top of the 10 points.
(Sun Nite) Baltimore – 7 at New England (43.5): The outcome of this game depends on the Pats’ defense because the Ravens’ defense is going to hold the Pats under 20 points in the game. I will not be surprised to see Jarrett Stidham at QB for the Pats late in this game.
Chargers at Dolphins – 1 (48.5): Here are two rookie QBs who are lighting it up this year playing one against the other. The oddsmaker set the spread so that this would turn out as a one-score game and we saw above what happens to the Chargers in one-score games.
(Mon Nite) Minnesota – 2.5 at Chicago (43.5): This game is intriguing; the spread opened with the Bears as 2.5-point favorites and then it shifted to the Vikes being favored by the same number. There are conflicting signals here:
- Bears are home underdogs and have the better defense. Usually a good selection criterion.
- Bears have lost 3 games in a row. Usually a bad selection criterion
- Vikes have won 2 games in a row – including a win over the Packers who are better than the Bears. Usually a good selection criterion
- Vikes have Kirk Cousins at QB in a “Prime Time Game”. Usually a bad selection criterion. [Kirk Cousins in 0-9 in games on Monday Night Football.]
Dalvin Cook has been a monster since coming back from an injury earlier this year. The Bears’ defense will key on stopping him first and putting the ball in Cousins’ hands. Therein lies the key to the game because the Bears cannot rely on their offense to light up the scoreboard against anyone.
Finally, here is an observation by Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times regarding a ludicrous incident in a recent NFL game:
“The NFL suspended Bears receiver Javon Wims for two games for cheap-shotting the Saints’ C.J. Gardner-Johnson — one game for the blows and, presumably, another game for being stupid enough to repeatedly punch a guy’s helmet.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………