I have three favorite words that start with the letter “F”. Two of them are Football Friday … And with that introduction, let me get to the results from last week’s densely populated Six-Pack which contained 8 selections:
- College: 4-0-0
- NFL: 2-2-0
- Combined: 6-2-0
The season totals now stand at:
- College: 14-17-1
- NFL: 19-27-1
- Combined: 33-44-2
College Football Commentary:
Last week, I thought it was only a passing mention when I said that I had run across a tidbit that 2020 was the only time in the history of Iowa State football – – going back more than 120 years – that the Cyclones had beaten Texas and Oklahoma in the same season. It never crossed my mind to try to find the records for Iowa State football year by year to confirm or debunk such an assertion. Then I got an email from the “reader in Houston” and the subject line read “Iowa State”. That third “F-word” – the one I did not mention above – is what flashed through my mind as I clicked to open that email.
The email began by saying:
“I had some free time and was curious to see if this might be misleading…”
That introduction gave me some comfort; all there might be is “misleading” and not “abjectly wrong”. I guess I can live with “misleading”. Here is the bulk of his message:
“Texas is 14-4 SU and OU is 76-2-7 SU lifetime vs. ISU.
“This is another example where sports stats are often misleading. Texas never played Iowa State until 1979 (Texas won), so obviously between 1892 and 1978, that feat described above could never have happened. After the 1979 meeting, the two teams didn’t meet again until Texas joined the Big 12 in 1996. Since 1996, the two teams have met annually except for 1996, 1997, 2000, 01, 04, 05, 08, and 09. The same is true with OU and ISU since 1996.
“OU has lost to ISU only twice, since Texas and Oklahoma began playing ISU annually and Texas has lost four times to ISU over that period, so the chances of beating both teams in the same year is pretty low in the first place, unless of course, if ISU has a very good team, which is in 2020. The last time ISU had a pretty good team was in 2000 (9-3), but they didn’t play Texas or OU that season.”
When I say – repeatedly – that this reader is a font of information regarding sports history, sports statistics and wagering matters, you can now begin to understand why I say that… Thanks.
I have decided that the college football world needs a new award. Since the idea emanates from Curmudgeon Central, you may be sure that it is an award for failure to accomplish a goal or objective and not just another niche award for some achievement. With the football season drawing to its close, I want to present to you the three contenders for:
- The 2020 Brothel Defense – – Everyone Scores Easily Here
The sad fact is that in 2020, there will be teams with significantly different numbers of games on the books at the end of the season. So, maybe there needs to be an asterisk placed on whichever team wins the inaugural award; that would be a bit different, no? Here is the way the award will be determined; it is really simple:
- Which team in college football gives up the most points per game for the season.
- That’ it; that’s all there is.
Let me now present the three teams that appear to be in contention for that inglorious stature:
- La-Monroe – – 10 games played – – 42.0 points per game allowed
- Bowling Green – – 5 games played – – 45.0 points per game allowed
- Kansas – – 9 games played – – 46.0 points per game allowed
Bowling Green and Kansas have no more games on their schedules; their games for this weekend have been canceled. La-Monroe still has a game scheduled for December 17 at Troy. If I have done the math correctly, La-Monroe would need to give up 88 points in that game against Troy to leapfrog to become the first winner of the Brothel Defense. Never say never…
Last week, Texas beat K-State 69-31. The Longhorns managed to “win the 3rd quarter” of this game by a score of 35-14. That’s right; there were 7 TDs scored in a span of 15 minutes of game time. Every third quarter possession by both teams ended in a TD; the longest time of possession in the third quarter was 3:20.
Oklahoma beat Baylor 27-14. The game was closer than that on the stat sheet; Baylor outgained Oklahoma 288 yards to 269 yards. Baylor was playing from behind for the entire game; it attempted 8 fourth-down tries and converted 6 of them. This was the 6th straight win for the Sooners and it earned them a place in the Big-12 Championship Game against Iowa State.
Iowa State beat West Virginia 42-6. That maintains the Cyclones’ perch atop the Big-12 with only one loss in conference and assures them a spot in the Big-12 Championship Game. The Cyclones have next week off while their opponent in that Championship Game – Oklahoma – will take on West Virginia next weekend.
Texas Tech beat Kansas 16-13. Given that the game was in Lubbock, a road loss by a field goal and only allowing 16 points in the game must be a plus for Kansas. [Aside: Kansas has now lost 54 consecutive Big-12 road games. Their last road win in a conference game was back in October 2008 when they beat Iowa State in Ames.] Tech dominated the stat sheet gaining 410 yards on offense compared to 214 for Kansas. Tech turned the ball over 4 times in the game (3 lost fumbles and an INT) while Kansas did not turn it over at all. Therein lies the reason for the close score.
TCU beat Oklahoma State 29-22. This was a must-win game for the Cowboys – – but they did not do that. The Cowboys led 13-0 after the first quarter and 16-7 at halftime. The TCU QB, Max Duggan had a great game throwing for 265 yards and 1 TD in addition to running the ball 19 times for 104 yards and 2 more TDs.
In SEC action, Alabama beat LSU 55-17 in Baton Rouge. Bama rolled up 650 yards of offense to 352 yards for LSU. Alabama ran off to a 21-0 lead at the end of the first quarter and never looked back.
Florida beat Tennessee 31-19. Florida demonstrated a highly unbalanced offense in this game. The Gators only gained 19 yards rushing for the game, but it had no trouble amassing 433 yards through the air. Florida wins the SEC East with this victory; Tennessee has now lost 6 games in a row which is their longest losing streak since 1988. Tennessee plays winless Vandy this weekend.
Kentucky beat South Carolina 41-18. The score at halftime was 27-3; this outcome was never in doubt. Obviously, firing coach Will Muschamp a few weeks ago did not provide any sort of jump-start to the Gamecocks that was lasting… Shane Beamer – son of former Va Tech coach Frank Beamer and currently assistant head coach at Oklahoma – will take over the South Carolina job. I have three words for Coach Beamer to consider as he starts the process of rebuilding the Gamecocks’ program:
Missouri beat Arkansas 50-48. The teams combined for 1219 yards of offense; the two teams registered a total of 71 first downs in the game; Missouri was 9 of 15 on third-down conversions; Arkansas was “only “ 6 of 14 in that circumstance but seems to make up for that by also converting 3 of 3 fourth down tries. The margin of victory came via a field goal after Missouri drove 55 yards in the final 40 seconds of the game to set up the score.
Texas A&M beat Auburn 31-20. The Aggies trailed at the end of the third quarter 20-14 but rallied for 17 unanswered in the 4th quarter to keep themselves relevant in the CFP discussion. The Aggies dominated the stat sheet gaining 509 yards on offense to 340 for Auburn.
In the Big-10, Ohio State beat Michigan State 52-12. The game was a rout from the start; at halftime, the score was 28-0. The Buckeyes had one game left on their schedule – against Michigan – but it has been canceled because of COVID-19. I think Ohio State kept their foot on the gas last week to remind the CFP selectors who the best team in the Big-10 is just in case Ohio State found itself somehow left out of the Big-10 Championship Game. Events of this week rendered that possibility moot.
Indiana beat Wisconsin 14-6. That gives Indiana a 6-1 record for the year with the only loss coming at the hands of Ohio State.
Penn State won its 900th football game in school history last week beating Rutgers 23-7.
Notre Dame beat Syracuse 45-21. That puts the Irish at 10-0 for the season and sets them up as an undefeated ACC Division Champion. Notre Dame has next week off to prepare for that game on December 19th. QB, Ian Book, led the way in this game throwing for 285 yards and 3 TDs along with carrying the ball 8 times for 53 yards and 2 additional TDs.
UNC beat Western Carolina 49-9. Why was this game scheduled? The score was 42-3 at the half. How was this game entertaining even for the alums and boosters?
Out west, Stanford beat Washington 31-26. After Oregon fell two weeks ago many thought that Washington was the top dog in the PAC-12. So much for that theory… Stanford won on the stat sheet and they won on the scoreboard; Stanford faced 13 third-down situations and converted 10 of them.
Speaking obliquely of Oregon, the Ducks lost again last week; Cal beat Oregon 21-17. That is the first win of the season for Cal and will surely drop Oregon from the Top 25.
Coastal Carolina beat BYU 22-17. It was a “Battle of the Unbeatens” and the Chanticleers maintained that status running their record to 10-0 while BYU falls to 9-1. BYU had a slight edge on the stat sheet, but Coastal Carolina had the small edge where it matters most.
Rice beat Marshall 20-0. This is interesting and surprising because Marshall had been 7-0 coming into the game and had been scoring 37.4 points per game; Rice was a 23.5-point underdog at game time. The Thundering Herd was also ranked 15th in the country at kickoff time; that will not be the case next week. There were no offensive fireworks anywhere to be found here; Marshall managed to gain only 245 yards on offense for the day; Rice could not even do that and gained a paltry 213 yards on offense. Marshall turned the ball over 5 times in the game and committed 8 penalties for 80 yards (4 of those penalties awarded first downs to Rice).
Arkansas State beat La-Monroe 48-15. That loss leaves La-Monroe with an 0-10 record for 2020. They get one more chance at a win against Troy on Dec 17. The most losses for any of the winless teams so far this year is 10 by La-Monroe but wait, there is another disaster lurking out there:
- Vandy is 0-8 with games against Tennessee this week and Georgia next week.
College Games of Interest:
By my count, 22 college football games this weekend have been canceled…
Alabama – 32 at Arkansas (68): Alabama will face Florida in the SEC Conference Championship Game; Arkansas is a speed bump for Bama on the road to that game. Arkansas scored 48 points last week; that will not happen again this week.
[Aside: I read that the SEC Championship Game will have only 16,500 fans in attendance and – not surprisingly – tickets are sold out.]
Georgia – 13.5 at Missouri (54.5): Mizzou scored 50 points last week in beating Arkansas. The Georgia defense will limit the Tigers to far less than that total this week.
Tennessee – 16 at Vandy (50): This is an interstate rivalry game between a winless team (Vandy) and a team that has lost 6 straight games (Tennessee). That spread of more than 2 TDs is an indicator of just how bad the oddsmakers think Vandy is. If Tennessee loses straight up here, there will be an outbreak of bruciore di stomaco estremo in Knoxville, TN. Vandy has already fired its coach; if the Vols lose this game …
Wisconsin – 2 at Iowa (41): At the start of the week, Iowa was a 3-point favorite in this game…
Michigan State at Penn State – 14.5 (46.5): I am surprised to see Penn State as more than a 2 TD favorite in this game. Michigan State is in a rebuilding mode to be sure, but Penn State has not been an offensive juggernaut to date in 2020.
Rutgers at Maryland – 7.5 (58): This is a game that must be played every year just to remind the college football world that money dominates decision making. These two teams belong in Big-10 football about as much as mustard belongs in a milkshake.
LSU at Florida – 22 (68.5): The Tigers’ pass defense ranks 125th (out of 127 schools) in passing yards allowed this year (313.1 yards per game). The Gators passing offense ranks 1st in the nation in yards per game (376.7 yards per game). Florida has not been held under 30 points this year; I think they can go far north of 40 points here’ I’ll take Florida and lay the points; put it in the Six-Pack.
UNC at Miami – 3 (66): The winner here could easily wind up playing in the Orange Bowl Game… You do realize – don’t you? – that Miami is 8-1 this year and their only loss was to Clemson. UNC has shown it can score but its defense is not exactly rock-solid. I like the OVER in this game; put it in the Six-Pack.
UVa at Va Tech – 3 (62.5): The game is interesting because it is major rivalry game. Other than that …
Illinois at Northwestern – 14.5 (40.5): Northwestern will face Ohio State in the Big-10 Championship Game. Even if it loses here and Iowa beats Wisconsin, Northwestern owns the tiebreaker based on having beaten Iowa 21-20 on Halloween. Iowa has won 5 in a row since then but that 1-point loss puts them on the outside looking in… Northwestern wins because its defense is stingy; no defensive coordinator is scared to death of the Northwestern offense which only averages 24.9 points per game (89th in the country). That line looks fat to me at more than 2 TDs; I’ll take Illinois plus the points; put it in the Six-Pack.
Navy vs Army – 7 (38): The Total Line opened the week at 50.5 points; that is a major movement; folks who took the UNDER there have a huge chance to score a middle in this game. For me, the Army/Navy game is always the Game of the Week and it is always worth watching. In games that look to be low-scoring affairs, I tend to like to take the points; in Army/Navy games, I frequently take the points; this week I like Navy plus the points; put it in the Six-Pack.
USC – 2.5 at UCLA (62): Another intracity rivalry game here…
Before the NFL season started, I predicted that the Cleveland Browns would make the playoffs and would win double-digit games; as of this morning, the Browns are 9-3 so that prediction is looking good. Nonetheless, I feel compelled to point out that the Browns are not a “typical 9-3 team”; the record looks dominating but there might be some phantasm in the appearance:
- The Browns record is 9-3; yet, their point differential is minus-15 points. No other team with a comparable record has a negative point differential.
- Seven of the Browns’ nine wins have come over the Bengals (twice), the Cowboys, the Eagles, the Jags, the Texans and the WTFs. The combined record of those six vanquished opponents is 18-52-2.
- Just saying …
There are times in sports when teams go for periods of time unable to get out of their own way. In baseball, the Phillies went from 1917 to 1949 with only 1 winning season – – and in that year the Phillies’ record was 78-76 which is just barely not a losing season. The biggest cipolla pulled by a football team was when a CFL team drafted a player who had died in a car crash about a year before the CFL Draft took place. Needless to say, that player did not contribute much to the team.
Currently, the NY Jets seem to be in a spin cycle where embarrassment is the dominant element in their environment. On last night’s NFL telecast, there were multiple references to the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award and the fact that all 32 teams have put forth nominees. Key to the narrative around the award is that it recognizes a player who excels on the field as well as off the field – – in terms of work in the community and for noble causes.
This year, the Jets’ nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award is CB, Pierre Desir. The silliness here is that the Jets released Desir earlier this year and he now is part of the defensive backfield for the Baltimore Ravens. So, the Jets have nominated a guy for an award that is partially based on excellence on the field – – and they have previously released that player.
You simply cannot make that stuff up…
Last week, the Lions beat the Bears 34-30. The Lions did exhibit a dead-cat bounce after firing their coach and coming back to play a mediocre team. The Bears’ defense – which had carried the team to a 5-1 record to start the season – disappeared once again here allowing the Lions to gain 460 yards on offense. The Lions were 6 for 11 on third-down conversions in the game. Mitchell Trubisky had an acceptable game here with this stat line:
- 26 of 34 for 267 yards with 1 TD and 0 NT
Those are not Hall of Fame numbers – – but they are not “Quarterback-deficiency-that-caused-the-loss numbers” either. However, Trubisky was central to the sequence that lost the game for the Bears:
- Bears led 30-20 with 11 minutes left in the game.
- Lions scored a TD with 2:18 left to play making the score 30-27.
- On 3rd and 4 from the Bears 17 yardline with 2 minutes left in the game, Trubisky suffered a strip-sack recovered by the Lions.
- Two plays later, the Lions scored again to take a 34-30 lead that would be the final score.
The Bears are now in last place in the NFC North after coming out of the gate with 5 wins in the first 6 games. If Bears’ fans are thinking about running coach Matt Nagy out of town, they should also consider deep-sixing the GM, Ryan Pace also. He is the guy who traded up to get Mitchell Trubisky and passed on drafting Patrick Mahomes and/or DeShaun Watson plus he is the guy who brought in Nick Foles with a $20M per year deal. I think both men should be job seekers come January…
The Dolphins beat the Bengals 19-7. The Dolphins had 406 yards of offense and the Bengals only managed 196. So how was this game even as close as it was? Nothing obvious jumps out from the stat sheet; this was just a game where neither team was efficient with the football once it was moved around past the midfield mark. The Dolphins had the ball inside the Bengals’ 5 yardline on 4 different occasions and managed only 1 TD from that field position. The two teams combined to face 22 third-down situations and only managed to convert 4 of them.
The Vikes beat the Jags 27-24 in OT. The Vikes stayed alive as a mathematical possibility for the playoffs; the Jags lost their 11th game in a row after winning the opening game of the year. Justin Jefferson caught 9 balls for 121 yards and a TD and Adam Thielen caught 8 passes for 75 yards and 1 TD. Vikes’ kicker, Dan Bailey missed 2 PATs in regulation time but managed to kick the winning field goal from 23 yards in OT to win the game. The Jags got off to an early lead thanks to a Pick-Six on the first defensive stand of the day, but it was an INT by the Vikes in OT that set up the winning score.
The Browns beat the Titans 41-35. The Browns led at halftime 38-7 and almost found a way to lose the game. The Titans scored TDs on the first two possessions of the second half using only 6 minutes of game time remaining. One of the talking heads on the halftime show said that Baker Mayfield was the first Browns’ QB to throw 4 TD passes in the first half of a game since Otto Graham did it in 1951. Another impressive stat for the Browns is that they converted 10 of 16 third-down tries.
The Colts beat the Texans 26-20. The Colts led 24-20 at halftime; the only scoring of the second half came via a safety when DeShaun Watson was sacked in the Texans’ end zone. Two turnovers by the Texans did little to advance their cause for this day. The Colts’ defense was shredded for the second week in a row giving up 398 yards to the Texans.
The Saints beat the Falcons 21-16. The Saints remain undefeated with Taysom Hill at the controls – – but there is not a Saint fan alive who watched this game and did not go immediately to church to light a candle asking for Drew Brees to recover fully from his injuries a as quickly and as completely as possible. The Saints’ defense throttled the Falcons for the first three quarters of the game.
The Raiders beat the Jets 31-28. There are moral victories when a team loses a game on the scoreboard; this was a case of a disreputable win by a team with playoff aspirations needing a miracle play with about 10 seconds left in the game to pull out a victory over a team that was 0-11 and deserves every snide remark made about them. If Jon Gruden is indeed making $10M a year to coach the Raiders and the team came out so unenthusiastically about this game as it did, he should forfeit one game check back to the team for this clunker. Darren Waller caught 13 passes for 200 yards and 2 TDs. For 59 minutes and 55 seconds, it looked as if the Jets were going to pull off an upset and win their first game of the year, but then they made one of the worst play calls in NFL history: They left the Raiders’ fastest offensive player (Henry Ruggs) in single coverage when the Raiders needed a long touchdown and nothing else. Everything with the play and the call went wrong for the Jets when Ruggs caught a 46-yard TD to win the game.
- Question: With the Jets leading and 5 seconds left on the clock, were Jets fans elated by the thought of the first win of the season or were Jets’ fans panicking that they might lose the overall #1 pick in next year’s NFL Draft? My guess is that it was the latter…
The Rams beat the Cards 38-28. Jared Goff played like a “star-QB” this week posting this passing stat line:
- 37 of 47 for 351 yards with 1 TD and 0 INTs
In addition, Goff ran the ball for a TD too. The Rams came within a whisker of doubling the Cards on offense for the game; the Rams had 463 yards on offense and the Cards managed only 232. This was the third straight loss for the Cards putting their playoff access in question. I said last week that the matchup of Jalen Ramsey on DeAndre Hopkins would be worth the price of admission. Here is an overview of how it turned out:
- Hopkins caught 8 passes and one of them was for a TD
- Ramsey held Hopkins to only 52 yards on those 8 receptions.
The Packers beat the Eagles 30-16. Jalen Hurts took over for Carson Wentz in the second half and led the team to on a TD drive; Jalen Reagor returned a punt for a TD to make the game sort of interesting with about 6 minutes left to play – – but a Packers’ TD after that closed the door. The Packers remain a game behind the Saints in a race for the only BYE Week in the NFC playoffs; the Eagles playoff aspirations are shot.
The Pats beat the Chargers 45-0. Say what? The Pats got 45 points out of 290 yards on offense; the Chargers got zilch on 258 yards on offense. The Pats scored on a scoop-and-score after a blocked field goal try and they scored on a punt return. In addition, two of the Pats’ TD “drives” were less than 27 yards. The Pats win put them at 6-6 for the season and made them seem playoff-relevant until last night’s debacle against the Rams (see below).
The Giants beat the Seahawks 17-12. This assured the Giants of first place in the NFC East for another week – – which is sort of like being recognized as the heaviest anorexic in town. The Giants were 11-point underdogs at kickoff and won the game straight up. The Giants have now won 4 games in a row and 5 of their last 7 games. Colt McCoy did little to indicate he led the team to a victory – – but he did not lose the game either. Here is his stat line:
- 13 of 22 for 105 yards with 1 YD and 1 INT
Wayne Gallman gained 135 yards on 16 carries. The Giants sacked Russell Wilson 5 times leading the Giants to the first win by a visiting team to Seattle this season.
The WTFs beat the Steelers 23-17. Was this an even bigger shock than the Giants’ win over the Seahawks? Both were double-digit underdogs on the road. You make that call…
The WTFs got off to a slow start as they have all season long and trailed 14-0 at one point but they dominated play in the second half. Alex Smith threw for 296 yards and a TD providing the impetus for the victory. Also, the WTFs’ defense only allowed 115 yards of offense to the Steelers in the second half of the game. Here is perspective on the Washington comeback:
- Prior to this game, the Steelers were 78-1-1 when they led by 14 points or more in a home game.
- They led by 14 here and they lost…
The Chiefs beat the Broncos 22-16. This game was more of a struggle than many folks anticipated. Harrison Butker was a hero here kicking 5 field goals and a PAT over the course of the game. Melvin Gordon sparked the Broncos’ offense carrying the ball 15 times for 131 yards.
The Bills beat the Niners 34-24. Josh Allen threw for 375 yards and 4 TDs and completed 80% of his passes in the game. Not a bad evening’s work… The Niners tried to keep pace but 2 INTs and 7 penalties added on to the fact that they were playing without several key players, but they could not keep up. The Bills look like a playoff team – – and one that might be a tough opponent once the playoffs begin.
The Ravens best the Cowboys 34-17. The Cowboys were manhandled by the Ravens’ run game giving up 294 yards rushing. The tone for the game was set late in the first quarter; the Ravens had the ball at the Cowboys’ 37 yardline with a 4th and 2. Lamar Jackson kept the ball on a designed QB running play up the middle and went untouched for 37 yards and a TD. He went straight up the middle and would have scored if they were playing touch football.
Last night, the Rams dominated the Pats 24-3; it was not that close. The Pats managed only 10 first downs in the game and were 3 of 13 on third-down conversions plus 0 of 3 on fourth-down conversions. The Rams seemingly ran at will all night long. This was the 7th loss of the year for the Pats meaning that the team will not win 10 games this year.
- The last time the Pats failed to have double-digit wins was in 2002.
- The last time the Pats did not have a winning record was in 2000 – the first year of Bill Belichick’s tenure with the team.
There are several strong candidates for the Game of the Week here. I have never named more than one game for this honorific label but the temptation this week is strong… Must resist!!!
Green Bay – 7.5 at Detroit (54): The Lions had their dead-cat bounce last week beating the Bears (see above). Holding the Bears’ offense in check is one thing; holding Aaron Rodgers in check is quite another. The Packers’ defense is exploitable so Matthew Stafford could well have a big day in a losing cause. I see a flashing scoreboard here; so, I’ll take the game to go OVER; put it in the Six-Pack.
Tennessee – 7 at Jax (52.5): The Titans are tied with the Colts for first place in the AFC South and they have split their season series. That puts those two teams in a sprint to the finish to see who will host a home playoff game and if the other team even gets a chance to participate in the playoffs. The Titans’ defense was exposed and embarrassed last week against the Browns (see above); the Jags do not bring that kind of offense to the field. I think The Titans win big here; I’ll take the Titans and lay the points; put it in the Six-Pack.
Dallas – 3.5 at Cincy (43): I anoint this as the Dog-Breath Game of the Week. The teams bring a combined record of 5-18-1 to the kickoff. The only thing I can think of that might be interesting about this game is the return of Andy Dalton to Cincy – – this time as the QB of the Cowboys. Ho hum… Maybe if you have a sadistic streak, you might be interested in seeing now many of Jerry Jones’ bodily orifices will emanate steam if the Cowboys find a way to lose to the ragtag Bengals.
Arizona – 3 at Giants (45): The Cards are in a tailspin; they are only 1-4 in their last 5 games and that win came on the Hail Mary pass form Kyler Murray to DeAndre Hopkins against the Bills. Meanwhile the Giants have won 4 in a row and 5 of their last 6 games. Is Daniel Jones ready to come back and play normally? Is Kyler Murray about to come out of hibernation? I am tempted to take the Giants here – – but I will resist that temptation.
Houston – 1 at Chicago (45.5): The taint of Dog-Breath was strong on this one – – but I was able to hold my nose. There is a minor element of history at work here; DeShaun Watson was passed over by the Bears when they drafted Mitchell Trubisky; now those two QBs face each other… Moreover, the Bears have not yet been eliminated from the playoffs. What can I say? I am trying to find something positive about this game.
Denver at Carolina – 3 (45): The Broncos played well against the Chiefs last week, but the Broncos are a 4-8 team and – as Bill Parcells was wont to say – you are what your record says you are. The Broncos inspire no confidence on the road against a team that had a BYE week last week…
Minnesota at Tampa Bay – 6.5 (52.5): I gave this game serious consideration as the Game of the Week because there are plenty of playoff implications here. A straight up win by the Vikes here would give them the same record as the Bucs plus the tiebreaker. The Bucs come to this game off a BYE Week last week; Tom Brady is 14-4 straight up in his career off a BYE Week; of course, all 18 of those games had Tom Brady wearing a Patriots’ uniform… This game sets up as a scoring fest akin to a pinball machine:
- The Bucs pass defense is awful – – so when they keep Dalvin Cook from running wild, the Vikes will take to the air and carve up the Bucs secondary with Adam Theilen and Justin Jefferson.
- The Vikes do not pressure the passer – – so Tom Brady will have time and room to toy with the young corner backs the Vikes put on the field.
I like this game to go OVER; put it in the Six-Pack.
KC – 7.5 at Miami (50): I will crown this game as the Game of the Week. The Chiefs have won 7 in a row; they lead their division comfortably by 4 games. The Dolphins are chasing the Bills and need to make up 1 game. The Dolphins’ defense has exerted itself recently allowing only 30 points in its last 3 games, However, these are the Chiefs playing offense here and not the Broncos, Giants or Bengals. That will an interesting aspect to watch. In terms of trends:
- Chiefs are 9-10-1 against the spread in their last 20 games favored by more than a TD.
- Dolphins are 14-5 against the spread in their last 19 games as an underdog.
Indy – 3 at Las Vegas (51): Putting the Game of the Week label on this one was a strong possibility. The Colts need a win because they are tied with the Titans (see above). The Raiders need a win because they are currently well-positioned to make the playoffs but have two interesting games left on their schedule after this one; they need a win too. Indy is on the road for the second week in a row.
Jets at Seahawks – 13.5 (47): If the Jets are going to win a game this year, it ought to be a road game. That would be the crowning glory for Jets’ fans; their team’s inaugural win takes place in a venue where none of the Jets’ fans can be there to enjoy it. That situation will not obtain here; the Seahawks’ humiliating loss at home to the Giants last week ought to make them focused on this opponent and that will be bad news for the Jets.
Falcons – 1.5 at Chargers (49): The spread for this game is all over the place. This morning I found it as “pick em” and with the Falcons as a 2.5-point favorite. Let me be clear, I will not be wagering on this game so that is merely offered up here as a datum. These teams have made getting a big lead and then losing the game into an art form. The Falcons led the Cowboys by 20 points and the Bears by 16 points and the Falcons lost both games. The Chargers led the Bucs by 17 points and the Broncos by 21 points and the Chargers lost both games. The team that sprints out to a 10-point lead here is going to lose… Oh, by the way, the Chargers have not covered in any of their last 6 games.
New Orleans – 7 at Philly (42.5): The Eagles are a mess and have named Jalen Hurts as their starting QB for this game. Hey, it can’t Hurts. BaDaBing! BaDaBoom!!! Drew Brees is eligible to return from the IR List this week; will the Saints activate him or stay with Taysom Hill in what appears to be a comfortable game for them? Not only have the Eagles lost their last 4 games, they have not scored more than 17 points in any of those 4 games. Meanwhile, the Saints have won 9 in a row; the Saints are guaranteed a slot in the playoffs and if they suffer a let-down from the satisfaction of making the playoffs as of last week, that may be the Eagles’ only hope for a win here.
- Saints have won 9 in a row and have covered in 5 in a row.
- Eagles have covered twice this year as a home underdog.
Washington at SF – 3 (43): The WTFs handed the Steelers their only loss of the season last week. Is that a springboard to a win streak that will carry the WTFs to the playoffs? Or is that game a one-off because a mediocre roster will start to think of itself as a top-shelf team? I cannot come to answer there but here is what I do know:
- The WTFs had a short week to prep for this game and they had a 2000-mile trek to arrive at the game site in Glendale, AZ.
- That is a challenge for good teams and for bad teams alike.
The Washington defense needs to stop the Niners’ run game – – or at least keep it in check to the point where they force the Niners to rely on Nick Mullens’ throwing the ball more than occasionally. If so, the WTFs will win the game; I think that is going to happen; give me the WTFs plus the points; put it in the Six-Pack.
(Sun Nite) Pittsburgh at Buffalo – 1 (48): The spread opened the week as a “pick ‘em” game; this morning, you can find the game anywhere between “pick ’em” and with the Bills as 2.5-point favorites. This was the finalist in this week’s Game of the Week consideration given that it has two division leaders playing each other. What happened to the Steelers running attack last week? Will it show up here?
(Mon Nite) Baltimore – 2 at Cleveland (47): If someone wanted to call this the Game of the Week, they could make a good argument. This is a huge game for both teams, but it is almost a critical game for the Ravens. A loss here would be the 6th of the season for the Ravens and in the AFC, there will be 7 other teams with fewer than 6 losses once the games this week are finished no matter the outcomes of the games.
Let me review the bidding for this week’s Six-Pack- – which once again has 8 selections stuffed in it:
- Navy +7 against Army
- UNC/Miami OVER 66
- Illinois + 14.5 against Northwestern
- Florida – 22 over LSU
- Packers/Lions OVER 54
- Titans – 7 over Jags
- Vikes/Bucs OVER 52.5
- WTFs +3 against Niners
Finally, everyone knows that I like to have some fun with players names. This week I ran across this one:
- Smoke Monday – – Defensive Back, Auburn.
- I wonder if he is related in any way to Smoke Emifyoutgotem…?
- BaDaBing! BaDaBoom!!!
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………