Football Friday 12/11/20

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:

  1. Clemson
  2. Florida
  3. Georgia

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…


NFL Commentary:


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.


NFL Games:


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:

  1. Navy +7 against Army
  2. UNC/Miami OVER 66
  3. Illinois + 14.5 against Northwestern
  4. Florida – 22 over LSU
  5. Packers/Lions OVER 54
  6. Titans – 7 over Jags
  7. Vikes/Bucs OVER 52.5
  8. 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………



Economics Rules The Day …

Well, the Big-10 changed its rules yesterday afternoon in a move that shocked just about no one.  Ohio State will play Northwestern in the Big-10 Championship Game despite failing to meet the special criterion set by the Big-10 back in September for participation in that game.  Barring a loss in that game to Northwestern – – I am predicting that the Buckeyes will be a 3 TD favorite there – – Ohio State will then go and be selected to participate in the CFP.

And there, ladies and gentlemen, lies the foundation for this “changing of the rules”.  According to a report I read, having Ohio State be part of that playoff will bring a minimum of $6M to the Big-10 and that money will then be shared among the schools in the conference.  That is why:

  1. Arch-rival Michigan is comfortable with seeing Ohio State get a pass on the rules that everyone in the conference had agreed to a few months ago.
  2. Indiana is understanding as the accept the fact that they will not play in the Big-10 Championship Game even though they would do so by complying with the standard set a few months ago.
  3. The other schools in the conference pondered the “ethical issues” versus the “economic issues” involved here before voting “ECONOMICS” and putting Ohio State into the Big-10 Championship Game.

For the record, Ohio State is the best team in the Big-10 and belongs in the CFP.  I have no problem with that as the outcome; I do have a problem with the process here that should assure Ohio State a slot in the CFP.

It was only about a week ago that the Knight Commission – a group that tries to imagine efficient and effective oversight of college sports annually – issued its report and recommended that the Division 1 football conferences separate themselves totally from the NCAA because football is different from all other collegiate sports in terms of revenue generated and spent.  Here is a paragraph from a report at explaining what the acceptance of this Knight Commission recommendation would entail:

“The commission’s proposal to separate FBS football from the NCAA would leave those big-time football programs in charge of creating a new entity that would develop and enforce rules, determine eligibility requirements, set health and safety standards, and organize a national championship.”

Juxtapose – if you will – that paragraph from with what the Big-10 administrators did yesterday afternoon.  Somehow, I am not nearly as confident as the Knight Commission seems to be that Division 1 football would be in friendly hands…

Here is another example of the rectitude resident in Division 1 football.  LSU announced yesterday that it had informed the NCAA that the school has self-imposed “a one-year postseason ban on its football program for the 2020-21 bowl season.”  Read on:

“ LSU made this decision after careful deliberation and review of the NCAA rules violations that have been discovered in the University’s co-operative investigation with the NCAA …”

Sounds as if LSU is atoning for sins it admits it committed – – until this little bit of reality steps up and smacks you in the face:

  • As of this morning, LSU is a 3-5 team with 2 embarrassing losses to weak teams (Missouri and Mississippi State) and 2 embarrassing blow-out losses to strong teams (Alabama and Auburn) on their record.

Since I brought up ESPN obliquely above, let me take a moment here to note that the New Year is going to bring significant change to ESPN Radio with some spillover to ESPN TV.

  • Trey Wingo will be leaving ESPN for “future endeavors”.  Once ESPN Radio killed off “Golic and Wingo” as their morning offering, Wingo has been at loose ends.  His prior position was as the host of various NFL studio shows but that job has been taken over by Wendi Nix.  [Aside:  Nix is OK in that role but nothing more than that.  However, ESPN is not nearly up to the idea of replacing her with a white male these days.]
  • Dan LeBatard and ESPN will come to a “mutually agreeable parting of the ways”.  There has been some friction between LeBatard and the suits at ESPN for a while; his departure means there is a 2-hour hole in the ESPN Radio lineup and that there will need to be a major change in the format and/or the direction of ESPN’s afternoon TV show, Highly Questionable.

Personally, I think that Dan LeBatard is a much better writer than he is a radio/TV “personality”.  However, the economic potential for a writer as compared to a radio guy makes it highly unlikely that he will resurface anywhere as a columnist/reporter.  That is what I call an inconvenient truth – – to borrow a phrase from former VP Al Gore.

[Aside:  With the departure of Dan LeBatard, it is likely that his sidekick, “Stugotz” will also be moving on.  If and when you discover where he resurfaces, please do not reveal that locale to me.  Perhaps, I will be fortunate and not find him on my own…]

I have tried for a couple of months to warm up to the current morning show on ESPN Radio.  I decided about a week ago that was never going to happen.  Jay Williams is the only one of the three hosts who ever says anything that is thought-provoking and among the three, he is generally the silent partner.  As of now, I will only listen to these three guys in the morning if my alternatives are NPR’s Morning Edition and a televangelist preaching in some unknown language.

This restricts my morning radio options in the DC area significantly.  There are two other options.  One is called The Sports Junkies – a show featuring 4 insufferably uninteresting people sharing inside jokes and “frat boy banter”.  The other option is the Kevin Sheehan Show which is now going to be my morning aural experience.  I arrived at that position by selecting the least worst option available to me.

Finally, here is a comment from Dwight Perry that relates to economics in sports:

“Ravens defensive coordinator Don ‘Wink’ Martindale says the Chiefs, who gave QB Patrick Mahomes a record $450 million extension, ‘could’ve paid him a billion. I’d still think he’s underpaid.’

“Baltimore QB Lamar Jackson — with an eye on his next contract — immediately fired his agent and replaced him with Wink.”

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



Money Talks And Bulls[p]it Walks…

Occasionally, circumstances assemble is such a way so as to pull the curtain back so that we can see behind the façade created by the image-masters.  Such is the case now because of the cancelation of the Michigan/Ohio State football game this weekend.  If I were some kind of Buckeye fanboy, I might take some time here to paint a completely fabricated theory that the folks in Michigan know for sure that they are going to take a beating if they play the game and that they can prevent Ohio State from being eligible to participate in the Big-10 Championship Game by canceling – – and so they did that out of spite.

I am not a Buckeye fanboy – – nor some sort of Wolverine adorer – – and I reject any and all concocted tales that go along those lines.  The game needs to be canceled because of coronavirus infections among the Michigan players and coaching staff.  That’s it; that’s why the game will not happen this weekend.

So, how does this allow us to see behind the façade of the image-masters?  Well, turn back the clock a few months and check out a rough timeline here:

  • Late Spring:  Schools cancel fall sports due to the pandemic.  The decision generates lots of controversy – – and the certainty of huge revenue losses for the schools.
  • Summer:  Schools decide they can bring back fall sports – particularly football – with testing/tracing protocols in place.  Most folks recognized that this decision would generate some of the lost revenue AND that it would provide a way for the coronavirus to spread in and among teams and staff.
  • September:  Big-10 announces its plans for the season.  The conference adopted a rule for 2020 that a team had to play 6 of its 8 scheduled games to be eligible for the Championship Game on December 19.

Here we are in early December and Ohio State will finish its season with a 5-0 record because 3 of its games have been sacrificed to the coronavirus according to those health and safety protocols that the Big-10 mavens put in place exclusively for noble reasons.  According to the rules that the Big-10 put in place by itself and for itself, the Big-10 Championship Game should be Indiana versus Northwestern.  However, there is an emergency meeting of the conference mavens later today to “review the bidding”.

There is an uncertainty out there that might have been imagined back in September but was probably shelved if indeed it ever came up.  The CFP Selection Committee will meet right after all the teams conclude their seasons on December 19 and here are the “big unknowns”:

  1. Will the Selection Committee hold it against Ohio State if three team does not even qualify for its own Conference Championship Game?
  2. Would the Selection Committee even give the winner of the Indiana/Northwestern game a second thought as a CFP participant?
  3. Might the Big-10 be shut out of the CFP – and the revenue that flows therefrom – entirely?

The façade was that the conference had strict protocols in place to protect health and safety and that the groundswell of desire from players and coaches to have a truncated season should not be ignored.  Sure, there were revenue considerations – – but with strict rules and unflinching enforcement of those strict rules, the season could go on safely.

  • And later today, we will find out if any of that was even part of the decision-making process or if it was all about $$$.

For the record, I believe Ohio State is the best team in the Big-10.  As one who would prefer to see the 4 best teams in the country take part in the CFP, I would like to see Ohio State in that playoff.  AND I will enjoy the explanation(s) offered by the Big-10 mavens when they “make adjustments” later today after the image-masters have come up with simple and straightforward explanations for those adjustments.  Somehow, they will not involve “revenues” and will be all about health, safety, fair play and …  You know, like truth, justice and the American way.

I am not trying to pick on the Big-10 as if it were different from other parts of the collegiate athletics world; it is not.  College sports are about the money they can generate; they are secondarily about competition, and dedication and all that stuff.  The folks who run college basketball are in the early stages of a concocted season that was thrown together with the goal of providing athletic outlets for players while also providing for their health and safety.  There are 6 scheduled games cancelled/postponed for today; there were 7 games canceled yesterday.

Jeff Capel is the head basketball coach at Pitt; Capel is as competitive and intense as any of his coaching colleagues and he is also an intelligent and insightful person who is able to keep multiple thoughts in his mind at the same time and to think beyond the immediate moment.  Craig Meyer had an excellent piece in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette earlier this week about Capel and some of the bigger questions related to college basketball that are out there.  Here is a link to that article; I commend it to your reading.  Here is a part of the article that shows what Capel is concerned about:

“The numbers were what they were back in March. I look at it every day, man. It seems like every day it’s getting worse. I don’t know why you cancel it in March, but you say it’s OK to do it right now. But what do I know?”

Let me help, Coach.  It does not seem like every day “it’s getting worse”; it is indeed getting worse every day if what you mean by “it” is the number of new COVID-19 cases encountered in the US.  There is no ambiguity about that.  Another thing that is “getting worse” is the red ink one encounters on the books of college athletic departments.  It may not be “right” to “do it right now” from an epidemiological viewpoint but it sure makes sense from a red ink standpoint.

Jeff Capel is trying to figure out what to do with his team over the Christmas Holiday when the NCAA mandates no contact between coaches and players for 3 full days.  Does he send them home to see their families and friends and risk exposure to the virus there?  Does he keep them on campus with no supervision and limited ways to pass time there?  The article linked above will give you an appreciation of what one coach is pondering with regard to his team that has nothing to do with Xs and Os.

Finally, Dwight Perry had this item in the Seattle Times last week related to the coronavirus and its impact on another sport:

“Baltimore players and/or staff members set an ignominious NFL record by testing positive for the coronavirus for 10 straight days.

“Quoth the Ravens … nah, too easy.”

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



The Jets Sack Gregg Williams

Before I begin today, let me remind everyone that the only difference between a cynic and a realist is whether or not you agree with him.  Using that litmus test, you may judge me to be one or the other after I present my sense of what is going on with the NY Jets and their coaching staff.

Just a quick reset …  The Jets came within about 5 seconds of winning their first game of the season on Sunday.  They lost on a desperation 46-yard pass to Henry Ruggs who was single covered by a backup CB because the defense called for a 7-man blitz on the Raiders’ QB on the play.  Gregg Williams was the defensive coordinator who called that play; Gregg Williams was fired by head coach Adam Gase and the Jets organization on Monday – – and here we are.

Gregg Williams has had some success as a defensive coordinator in the past; he was the DC for the Tennessee Titans when they went to the Super Bowl against the St. Louis Rams.  Gregg Williams has also had some failures as a defensive coordinator; he was the guy in charge of the defense when the Browns went 0-16 just a few years ago and so far in 2020, the Jets’ record stands at 0-12.  I think the stark difference in those sets of results demonstrates that a large measure of a defensive coordinator’s success/failure depends on the amount of talent that he has to deploy.

Now let me get to the matter of firing Gregg Williams:

  • Ignoring the outcome which we now see in hindsight, was a 7-man blitz the call to make in that situation?  My answer is an unequivocal, “No!
  • Was it a call made “by the book”?  No!
  • Was the call so outrageous that it merited firing the guy who called it?  Also, No!  If it had worked and the Jets’ DL had sacked Derek Carr on the play, Williams would be hailed as an innovative genius this morning for going “against the grain” with the call.

Moreover, there is another wrinkle in the story here based on ESPN’s reporting of the situation with the Jets.  Head coach Adam Gase said that he heard the call made in his headset and that he now wished that he had called a timeout.  Wonderful!  With 20/20 hindsight, I wish I had picked the right set of numbers in the Powerball Lottery last week.  So, let me examine the timeline here before the ball was snapped:

  • Gregg Williams calls for a blitz on this final play of the game.
  • Adam Gase hears the call on his headset.  He does not call timeout to confer with Williams or players or other coaches; he says now that he wished he had.  That means he accepted the call at the time and now labels it as egregious after he knows the outcome.  I cannot decide if that stance is deceitful, duplicitous or devious.
  • Adam Gase knew what the call was, now he claims it was not the right call – knowing the outcome, and that becomes the straw that breaks the camel’s back and causes him to fire Gregg Williams?

There may be plenty of other internal reasons that I know nothing about to have fired Gregg Williams; I am not here to defend his performance as the Jets’ defensive coordinator over the past 2 seasons.  What I do think is problematic is that the Jets’ hierarchy seems to be okay with Adam Gase’s role in all of this.  He knew what the call was going to be; he now leaves no doubt that he questioned the call and “wishes he had called a timeout” which he did not.  So, how is Adam Gase not equally blameworthy for the “out of the box call” that blew up in the Jets’ faces and allowed the Raiders to win the game?  Isn’t the head coach supposed to be the guy in charge of strategic decision making for the team during a game?

The Jets’ hierarchy – the GM and the owner – must know by now that Gregg Williams has been fired.  One of two situations must have been the case as of early yesterday:

  1. Adam Gase conferred with them and told them of his decision to fire Gregg Williams and they at least acquiesced to if not approved of the move.
  2. Adam Gase did this on his own and the hierarchy found out about it ex post facto.

If it is the first scenario above, my question for the hierarchy is simple.  Why is Adam Gase still employed by the Jets, but Gregg Williams is not?  It sure looks to me as if there is plenty of “accountability” to be assessed here and none of it is being put on the head coach’s ledger.

If it is the second scenario above, then the hierarchy is giving tacit – no, make that explicit – approval of Adam Gase’s handling of this situation.  Now, if that is true and you folks really think that he has been in the right with all of this nonsense, then good luck finding your next coach because who would want to work for an organization that cannot see its hand in front of its face?

Here is my assessment of the Jets’ situation in early December 2020:

  • They have a new GM; he comes with a pedigree of success in the sense that he has worked for and with the Ravens and the Eagles in previous incarnations.
  • Through trades, the Jets have acquired some draft capital which is a good thing because the thing the Jets need more than anything else is an infusion of talent.
  • The biggest decision facing the Jets’ new GM is to settle on a coach – and a coaching staff – that will constructively manage and develop the infusion of new talent that the GM hopes to provide.

From a completely unemotional position, I cannot see how Adam Gase can be the guy to coach the Jets in the future. The team’s record under his tutelage has been miserable even considering the dearth of talent on the field.  His handling of this situation – from not taking charge on the field when he heard of the defensive play call that he now avers was wrongheaded – to firing Gregg Williams the next morning has not polished his reputation in any way.

If, in fact, Adam Gase is fired by the Jets when this season is over, it will be interesting – to me at least – to see who gets a job offer first; Gregg Williams or Adam Gase.  Williams is controversial and clearly rubs some folks the wrong way – – but he has had success in the past along with flame outs.  Gase is supposedly a QB-whisperer who was part of a Super Bowl winning team – – except the QB he was whispering to at that time was Peyton Manning after Manning had been in the NFL for 18 seasons.  We shall see …

Finally, since I mentioned “quarterback whisperer” above, let me close with a similar entry from The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm:

Horse Whisperer:  A person who can calm or tame a horse through a series of hushed, intimate utterances and gentle , tender finger strokes.  It is difficult to watch this without thinking, ‘Get a room.’”

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



The Fate Of Some NBA MVPs …

Last week, I mentioned that the trade of John Wall for Russell Westbrook was reported to be the first time an NBA MVP had been traded for an overall #1 NBA Draft Pick.  I had read that somewhere and said that I was not going to expend the effort to verify it.  About 24 hours later, I received an email from “the reader in Houston” who is a repository for sports history and stats.  He only considered the “MVP traded” to be a player who had earned MVP honors with the team that traded him; he did not consider trades where a player went to a new team and subsequently earned an MVP Award.  Here is the meat of his email communiqué:

  • Wilt (1960 MVP) was traded from the SF Warriors to the 76ers in 1965 and in 1968 from the 76ers (1966, 1967, 1968 MVP) to the Lakers.
  • Kareem (1971, 1972, 1974 MVP) was traded from the Bucks to the Lakers.
  • Iverson (2001 MVP) was traded from the 76ers to the Nuggets in 2007.
  • Shaq (2000 MVP) was traded from the Lakers to the Heat in 2004 and in 2008 from the Heat to the Suns.
  • Mo Malone (1979, 1982 MVP) was traded from the Rockets to the 76ers in 1982 and in 1986 from the 76ers (1983 MVP) to the Bullets.
  • Bob McAdoo (1975 MVP) was traded from the Buffalo Braves in 1977 to the Knicks.
  • Dave Cowens (1973 MVP) was traded from the Celts to the Bucks in 1982.
  • The Big “O” (1964 MVP) was traded from the Cincy Royals to the Bucks in 1970.
  • Kevin Garnett (2004 MVP) was traded from the Bucks to the Celtics in 2007.
  • Hakeem (1994 MVP) was traded by the Rockets to the Raptors in 2001.
  • Derrick Rose (2011 MVP) was traded by the Bulls to the Knicks in 20i6.
  • Though some of these players were traded for players drafted in the first round or for future first-round picks, you are correct in that none of these was the overall #1 pick.
  • Of the 34 players who have won NBA Most Valuable Player awards, 11 have been traded by the team they were playing for when they won it. Wilt, Moses, and Shaq were in this situation twice each. Although there are some exceptions (like Cowens for Quinn Buckner), it is clear that some of the most unbalanced trades in NBA history included MVPs (Chamberlain, Abdul-Jabbar, Malone, Shaq). Trading your MVP is usually a bad idea, such as 28-year-old Wilt for Paul Neuman (not the actor), Connie Dierking, and Lee Shaffer or 25-year-old Bob McAdoo for John Gianelli, to name just two of those unbalanced trades.
  • Also, please note that Bill Walton is not included here because he was traded by the Clippers to the Celtics, but he won the 1978 MVP playing for the Blazers. Also, Charles Barkley, Steve Nash, and James Harden were dealt from their original teams before their MVP seasons and are not included in this list.

Many thanks to the Houston reader for a trip down memory lane that revisits a lot of unbalanced trades – Bob McAdoo for John Gianelli  being a prime example.  Thinking about how and why many of those trades happened, it is easy to come to the conclusion that there have been some meatheaded coaches and GMs in NBA history and/or that some of these outstanding basketball players were also pains in ass to deal with.

The mention of “pain in the ass” juxtaposed with “NBA player” leads directly to my next topic today:

  • Kyrie Irving

Last week, Irving released a statement that said in part:

“My goal this season is to let my work on and off the court speak for itself.”

This was in and among other verbiage explaining why he was not attending a media day and why he would not be a go-to source for the media this season and that his media isolation is part of a change in his life’s outlook partially brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.  My first reaction when I read about this was that this is probably a blessing.  Kyrie Irving has been known in the past to be a font of – how to say this? – irrelevant information.  For the record, the Earth is not flat and, indeed,  there used to be creatures that we now call dinosaurs.

  • Memo for Kyrie Irving:  Since the impact of COVID-19 convinced you to change your outlook and your behavior, why not also adopt one of the key lessons many of us have learned from the pandemic:  “Follow the science.”

I have said here many times that I am not a mind-reader; what follows is my interpretation of the background to Irving’s NBA career; if someone disagrees with it and labels it “speculation”, then I plead guilty.

  • In Cleveland, it seems to me that Irving thought that LeBron James got too much of the credit for the Cavaliers success and NBA Championship there.  Basically, he whined his way out of town in a trade to Boston.
  • In Boston, he was the “main man”; but he seemed to bristle under the media scrutiny that comes with being the “main man” – particularly in a media market like Boston.
  • Now, in Brooklyn he is a part of another dynamic duo with Kevin Durant and – taking his statement at face value – he will cede the spotlight to Durant and be more of a “silent partner”.
  • The NBA season is scheduled to begin on 22 December.  What is the OVER/UNDER on the first media interaction for Kyrie Irving?  How about January 8, 2021?  That is the date for the Nets’ 10th game of the season…

Finally, Bob Molinaro of the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot noted this situation pertaining to the NBA and COVID-19:

“Futurewatch: New 76ers coach Doc Rivers expressed a concern that should be shared by all NBA officials and players. With no bubble for the 2020-21 season and predictions of even more explosive COVID-19 outbreaks, it’s naïve to think the season won’t be knocked off course.”

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



Football Friday 12/4/20

For many people, the most accurate sentiment expressed on Friday is:

  • Boom-Chakalaka!

Here in Curmudgeon Central, Friday is not considered to be a time for raucous behavior because Friday in Curmudgeon Central is Football Friday.  And the traditional way to begin is to review the results – no matter how embarrassing they may be – of last week’s Six-Pack.

  • College: 1-2-0
  • NFL:  1-2-0  [Is there an echo in here?]
  • Combined:  2-4-0

Those results bring the pitiful season-long results to:

  • College:  10-17-1
  • NFL:  17-25-1
  • Combined:  27-42-2


College Football Commentary:


Three more of the college football bowl games were officially canceled last week.  The Sun Bowl, normally played on New Year’s Eve in El Paso, TX, will not happen this year.  I was unaware of the fact that the Sun Bowl had the second longest run of consecutive bowl games behind only the Rose Bowl.  Had the game happened this year, it would have been the 87th game in the history of that celebration.

Another bowl game casualty this year will be the Las Vegas Bowl.  On tap was a game between teams from the SEC and the PAC-12 and it would have been the first bowl game played in the new Allegiant Stadium normally home to the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders.

The third bowl game to bite the dust was the Pinstripe Bowl normally played in Yankee Stadium in NYC.  This year the game was to feature a Big-10/ACC confrontation but travel restrictions plus local regulations on having fans in attendance at live events made this game impossible.

If my research is correct, here are the bowl games that will not happen this year:

  1. Bahamas Bowl
  2. Celebration Bowl
  3. Fenway Bowl
  4. Hawaii Bowl
  5. Holiday Bowl
  6. Las Vegas Bowl
  7. Motor City Bowl
  8. Pinstripe Bowl
  9. Redbox Bowl
  10. Sun Bowl

That list represents a whole lot of airtime that the myriad ESPN networks will need to backfill.  These must not be fun times at the HQs of the World Wide Leader…

Last week, Iowa State beat Texas 23-20.  This keeps Iowa State firmly in charge in the Big-12 and it has caused extreme agita among the Texas alums.  This is the first time in the history of Iowa State football – – going back to 1892 – – where the Cyclones have beaten Texas and Oklahoma in the same year.  That is the positive outcome from this result.  The more cynical question that arises is:

  • Does this make the deep-pocketed Longhorn boosters sufficiently itchy to pull the trigger and buy out Tom Herman? 

Do not be surprised; Texas is 9-7 in conference games since Herman took the reins.  That is not the sort of record one might expect when the hiring of Tom Herman was accompanied with declarations that “Texas is back!”

On the other hand, realism would suggest to those deep-pocketed Longhorn boosters that Texas has not been a Big-12 champ since 2009.  Mack Brown was the coach then and those same impatient and deep-pocketed boosters ran his butt out of town on a rail.

  • Memo to College Football Coaches:  Anyone taking the Texas job needs to do two things:
  1. Come to grips with himself that he is taking this job for the money and not for the glory.
  2. Make sure his agent has an iron-clad and cushy buy-out clause in the contract.

Iowa beat Nebraska 26-20.  The Huskers led 20-13 with 12 minutes to play in the third quarter but they never threatened to score after that.  After that point of the third quarter, here is the Nebraska offense through the final 27 minutes of the game:

  • 3 plays  4 yards  PUNT  Time of possession = 1:44
  • 7 plays  40 yards  PUNT  Time of possession = 3:04
  • 7 plays  12 yards  PUNT  Time of possession = 2:41
  • 4 plays  20 yards  LOST FUMBLE  Time of possession = 0:37
  • Totals:  21 plays  76 yards  Time of possession = 8:05

The Nebraska center has had problems with snaps at various times this season and continued to have difficulties in this game.  Nebraska coach, Scott Frost said that Iowa players were rhythmically clapping their hands on the sidelines and that interfered with the Nebraska cadence.  To the surprise of exactly no one, Iowa coach, Kirk Ferentz dismissed that idea as nonsense.

  • Memo to Nebraska Coaching Staff:  Be sure to recruit a center for next year’s team that can deal with opponents’ rhythmic clapping strategy.  In the meantime, have you ever heard about ear plugs?

Missouri beat Vandy 41-0.  The only interesting thing about this game is that Sarah Fuller – the goalkeeper on the Vandy women’s soccer team – suited up and was the kicker for the Commodores in this game.  She never got a chance to try a PAT or a field goal; her only participation for the day was a squib kick on the second half kickoff that Missouri downed at the 35 yardline.  Fuller is the first woman to play in a football game in one of the so-called Power 5 conferences.

In the week after this result, the SEC dialed-up to 10 in virtue signaling.  Sarah Fuller was named the co-Special Teams Player of the Week in the SEC.  She did something no one had done before but her performance last week merits exactly no accolades:

  • Her only play was the kickoff to open the second half.
  • It was a squib kick; it went all of 30 yards.
  • Memo to the SEC:  You wanted everyone to look at you and say what a good thing you did last week having a woman participate in a football game.  Ok, we are looking at  you.  Unfortunately, what we see is that you have demeaned the idea of naming a Special Teams Player of the Week.  You no longer recognize football as a meritocracy.

Alabama beat Auburn 42-13 in the Iron Bowl.  This is what I call an “efficient win” because Bama was a 28.5-point favorite at kickoff and won by 29.

Florida beat Kentucky 34-10.  Both defenses played better in this game then they had in the previous several weeks – – but the Florida offense is much superior to the Kentucky offense.  Kentucky ran the ball effectively, but its passing offense netted a total of 62 yards for the day.  Just as a simple approximation, that is about 1 yard per minute of playing time; just for clarification; that is not good.

Ole Miss beat Mississippi State 31-24 in the Egg Bowl.  Considering that there was a total of 1029 yards of offense in this game, it was relatively low scoring.  Mississippi State had 440 yards passing and 39 yards rushing (on only 14 carries).  That is what  you call an unbalanced offense.  Ole Miss ran out to a 14-0 lead at the end of the first quarter; Mississippi State clawed its way back to only trailing by 3 points – – 24-21 – – midway through the 4th quarter but they could never get on the plus side of the scoreboard.

Texas A&M beat LSU 20-7.  Each team gained exactly 267 yards on offense; this was a defensive slugfest.  The Aggies came within a minute of pitching a shutout; LSU scored with only 43 seconds left on the clock.  Both teams were a less-than-laudatory 2 of 16 on third down conversions.  The difference can be found in the 3 turnovers committed by LSU as opposed to 0 turnovers by Texas A&M.

It is time to pay the Aggies some attention.  They have exactly one loss so far this year – to Alabama which is no embarrassment – and they have a win over Florida in The Swamp.  Florida is on track to be the SEC East champion.  This is the kind of “relevance” that Aggie boosters envisioned when they coughed up the big bucks to hire Jimbo Fisher.

Notre Dame beat UNC 31-17.  The game was tied at halftime at 17; then the Irish defense asserted itself.  The Tar Heels had the ball 6 times in the second half; they punted on the first 5 possessions and lost the ball on downs on the 6th possession.  Total yardage for UNC in the second half was 78 yards on 27 plays – – 2.89 yards per snap.

Clemson beat Pitt 52-17.  At the end of the 1st quarter, Clemson led 31-0; there was never any mystery about how this game would end up.

Oregon State beat Oregon 41-38 in the Civil War.  Oregon had been considered the best of the PAC-12 teams and Oregon State was considered as an “also-ran”.  Not anymore, this is a big dent in Oregon’s image nationally.  Oregon led 31-19 starting the 4th quarter and surrendered that lead badly.  If the perception of Oregon as the best team in the PAC-12 persists, then the PAC-12 just became irrelevant when it comes to the CFP.

Stanford beat Cal 24-23.  Cal scored a TD with about a minute left in the game to make the score 24-23 but the PAT was blocked, and Stanford ran out the clock.  Cal won the stat battle gaining 393 yards to 300 yards for The Cardinal.

Indiana beat Maryland 27-11.  In the first half, Maryland drove into the Red Zone 4 times and came away with a total of 3 points.  The Terps clamped down on Indiana WR, Ty Fryfogle, holding him to only 2 catches for a total of 10 yards.  However, Indiana demonstrated a run game that had not been particularly effective until this game and ran the ball for 234 yards.

Penn State beat Michigan 27-17.  That is win #1 for the Nittany Lions and another embarrassment for the Wolverines.  The Wolverines were outgained by 131 yards for the day; Penn State faced 19 third-down situations and converted 8 of them.  If Penn State wins another game this year, it will be the 900th win in school history dating back to 1887.  Here is the rest of the Penn State schedule:

  • Dec 5:  At Rutgers
  • Dec 12:  Vs. Michigan State

Michigan State beat Northwestern 29-20.  So much for Northwestern being undefeated and dominating the Big-10 West.  At 5-1, Northwestern still leads that division, but Iowa is 4-2 and the Hawkeyes have now won 4 in a row.  Turnovers played a big part in the Northwestern loss; they gave the ball away 4 times in the game and only took it away once.

Oklahoma State beat Texas Tech 50-44.  That keeps Oklahoma State on pace to be part of the Big-12 Championship Game, but this was not a game designed to impress the CFP Selection Committee.  Tech outgained the Cowboys by 100 yards in the game driven by 384 yards passing against the Cowboys’ defensive backfield.  Yes, this was a “bounce-back win” for the Cowboys after losing to Oklahoma last week – – but beating Texas Tech by only 6 points is not a résumé builder.

East Carolina beat SMU 52-38.  At halftime, E. Carolina led 45-7.  SMU rallied in the second half, but they had dug themselves into too deep a hole to pull out the game.

Wyoming beat UNLV 45-14.  This is not a game of any consequence, but I cite it here because Wyoming ran the ball for 399 yards in the game.  That yardage came on 55 rushing attempts; at one point in the second half, the Cowboys ran off 28 unanswered points along the way to this rout.

UMass ended its season at 0-4 with a shutout loss to Liberty 45-0.

Meanwhile, in the MAC , Buffalo beat Kent State 70-41.  Buffalo RB, Jaret Patterson ran wild here; he ran for 409 yards and scored 8 TDs.

Elsewhere in the MAC, E. Michigan is winless at 0-4.  Last week they led Central Michigan 20-6 at the start of the 4th quarter.  Then the E. Michigan defense disappeared and allowed Central Michigan to score 25 points in the 4th quarter providing E. Michigan with that 4th straight loss of the season by a score of 31-23.

La-Monroe lost to La-Lafayette 70-20.  The only marginally important thing about this game is that it leaves La-Monroe with an 0-9 record for 2020.  To date, La-Monroe has been outscored 372 – 148.  Ouch!  La-Monroe has two games left on its schedule against Arkansas State and against Troy – – both games are on the road.


College Games of Interest:


I believe that 19 scheduled games this weekend have been either canceled or postponed.  There were 5 games scheduled for today; 4 of them will not happen.


Vandy at Georgia – 35.5 (53.5):  Given the Georgia defense, I wonder if Sarah Fuller will get to try a field goal or a PAT this week.  Given the standard for last week, if she makes a 35-yard field goal, she should be named Player of the Year in the SEC…

BC at UVa – 4 (55):  BC will have to go without its first string QB and its featured RB in this game.  Virginia had last week off due to virus problems at Florida State.  I like the Cavaliers to win and cover at home; put it in the Six-Pack.

Ohio State – 24 at Michigan State (59):  The Buckeyes are 4-0 and need to play 6 games to comply with Big-10 rules for 2020 for participation in the Big-10 Championship Game.  Just in case one of the final two games needs cancelation due to COVID-19, the Buckeyes need to post impressive an impressive win in the other game to impress the CFP Selection Committee.  I think that happens here; I’ll take Ohio State on the road to cover this monster spread; put it in the Six-Pack.

Nebraska at Purdue – 1 (62.5):  Clap – – Clap – – Clap-clap-clap…

Penn State – 11.5 at Rutgers (52):  As noted above, this would be the 900th win for Penn State football.

Florida – 17.5 at Tennessee (62.5):  The Gators are looking at the SEC Championship Game as the winner of the SEC East.  The Vols are not likely to derail that train…

Oregon State at Utah – 11.5 (52):   The Beavers pulled off a major upset of Oregon last week (see above); Utah has not won a game yet this year.  The oddsmakers seemingly have brushed aside those facts setting the line here…

Stanford at Washington – 11 (50.5):  Well, if Oregon is not the class of the PAC-12 as had been suggested, maybe Washington is…?

Oklahoma State – 1 at TCU (51.5):  This is a must-win for Oklahoma State if they want to stay in contention for the Big-12 Championship Game; TCU cannot make it to that game.

West Virginia at Iowa State – 6.5 (49):  The Cyclones have only 1 loss in conference and lead the race to the conference Championship Game.  West Virginia has 3 losses in conference.

Indiana at Wisconsin – 14.5 (44.5):  In what looks to be a low-scoring game, that line looks fat to me.  I’ll take the Hoosiers plus the points on the road; put it in the Six-Pack.

Kansas at Texas Tech – 27 (62.5):  Texas Tech is not a good football team; they are 3-6 going into this game.  Kansas just plain stinks: they are 0-8 starting this game.  The oddsmakers obviously think Kansas stinks a lot worse then does Tech with the line they have on this game.

Texas A&M – 6 at Auburn 48.5):  Both teams have to deal with inconsistent play from their QBs.  Auburn’s Bo Nix can look like a bum one week and an early round NFL Draft pick the next.  The Aggies’ Kellen Mond is as unpredictable as the weather.  What is consistent is the Aggies’ defense.  Even though Auburn is tough at home, I like the Aggies to control this game on defense; I’ll take the Aggies to win and cover on the road; put it in the Six-Pack.

Alabama – 29 at LSU (66.5):  It is not often that LSU is a 29-point underdog at home; after all, LSU does not schedule the New Orleans Saints.

BYU – 10 at Coastal Carolina (62.5):  This is a late “fill-in game” because Coastal was supposed to play Liberty this week until the coronavirus intervened.


NFL Commentary:


            The Niners have moved their home operations to Arizona for the rest of the season because of new coronavirus restrictions in place in Santa Clara County.  A team without a home should be called the Vagabonds, no?

There is precedent for this sort of thing in NFL history.  In 1952, there was an NFL team called the Dallas Texans – not to be confused with the Dallas Texans of the AFL in the 60s that subsequently became the KC Chiefs.  The Texans were miserable finishing the year with a 1-11 record.  They started out playing their 1952 home games in the Cotton Bowl but after 4 losses there, they had their final two home games moved.

  • The Texans played the Chicago Bears in Akron, OH in the Rubber Bowl.  That game produced the only win of the year for the Texans by a score of 27-23.  That game was played on Thanksgiving Day and drew the grand total of 3000 fans who probably wondered why this circus had come to town.
  • The final “home game” for the Texans was against the Detroit Lions.  The teams had met earlier in the year in Detroit – – but this game was also moved to Detroit as the venue for the final game.  The first meeting of these teams had drawn just over 33,000 fans in Detroit; this final game of the season drew only about 12,000.

            In the college football commentary above, I mentioned the abject silliness offered up by Scott Frost to explain the problems his center had with snapping the football.  I thought for sure, that would set the bar for football-related balderdash for the week.  I was wrong; there is an NFL entry into that contest this week.  I will leave it up to you to decide which self-delusion is the greater.

Jerry Jones the owner, GM and mouthpiece for the Dallas Cowboys, tried to equate the Broncos’ having to play Kendall Hinton at QB last week to the Cowboys’ having to play Ben DiNucci at QB against the Eagles earlier this year.  Calling this “poppycock” would pay it an undeserved compliment.  Yes, both the Broncos and Cowboys had to play someone at QB that they had never planned to play at the position in 2020.  However, that is where the comparison ends:

  • Kendall Hinton’s NFL football career will be as a WR if he has an NFL career of any kind.  He was a QB for parts of seasons at Wake Forest but in his final year he transitioned to WR exclusively and was drafted as such.
  • Ben DiNucci’s NFL football career will be as a QB if he has an NFL career of any kind.  He was a QB all the way through college and the Cowboys – with Jerry Jones in charge of the Cowboys’ NFL Draft War Room – traded up to draft DiNucci in the seventh round of last year’s NFL draft.

The Cowboys spent future draft capital to acquire a guy they wanted to have on their team as a backup QB; the Broncos drafted a WR.  Saying that there is a solid comparison of the fates that befell the Broncos and the Cowboys is totally stupid.

Last week, The Saints beat the Broncos 31-3.  The Broncos were playing with a QB who was clearly overmatched; at half time, Kendall Hinton was:

  • 0 of 7 for 0 yards  (obviously) with 0 TDs (obviously) and 1 INT.

Hinton “improved in the second half” such that his final stat line read:

  • 1 of 9 for 13 yards with 0 TDs and 2 INTs

Nonetheless, when your starting QB throws more INTs than he does completions in a game, you are in deep yogurt.

The Falcons beat the Raiders 43-6.  How did that happen?  The Raiders may have squandered their “playoff cred” with this stinkpot of a game.  Derek Carr who had been playing very well for the last month managed to turn the ball over 4 times in this game; the Raiders turned the ball over a total of 5 times and those turnovers led to 23 points for the Falcons.  The Raiders have been a smash-mouth running team that bullies opposing defenses; the Falcons defense is hardly fearsome; so how did the Raiders manage a measly 40 yards rushing on 14 carries?  It was the Falcons that controlled the ball for 34:38 in this game and it was the Falcons that earned 23 first downs to only 13 for the Raiders.  The only “throwback stat” that might make Al Davis smile is that the Raiders were flagged for 14 penalties in the game to the tune of 141 yards.

The Vikes beat the Panthers 28-27.   The Panthers got two scoop-and-score TDs from Jeremy Chinn early in the third quarter to take a 21-10 lead. Late in the 4th quarter the Panthers were gifted a muffed punt that led to a field goal but a TD pass from Kirk Cousins to Chad Beebe along with the PAT provided the margin of victory for the Vikes.  The Vikes remain “sorta relevant” for a playoff spot in the NFC with this win.  Forget “sorta relevant” when you are talking about the Vikes’ rookie WR, Justin Jefferson; he is “really good”!

The Browns beat the Jags 27-25.  The Browns are now 8-3 and are squarely in the AFC playoff picture.  With that 8th victory, the Browns have assured that they will not have a losing season in 2020; it will be the first non-losing season for the Browns since 2007 and it will be only the 3rd season since 2000 without a losing record.  A cautionary note for the Browns, however, is that even with an 8-3 record, their point differential for the 2020 season is minus-21.  The loss accompanied the firing of Jags’ GM, Dave Caldwell; this was the Jags’ 10th loss in a row after winning their season opener.  The Jags started Mike Glennon at QB; he is the third QB to start for the team this year.  Jags rookie RB, James Robinson, accounted for 159 yards from scrimmage and a TD in the game.

The Giants beat the Bengals 19-17.  The Giants did everything they could in the final 4 minutes to keep the Bengals in the game but managed to hold on for a 2-point win.  That put the Giants in the lead – for the moment – in the NFC East but QB Daniel Jones had to leave the game with what appeared to be a hamstring injury.  Colt McCoy came in to finish the game but was involved in one of the meat headedness  events that kept the Bengals hopes for a miracle win alive late in the game.  The Giants’ defense held the Bengals to 155 yards of offense for the game.

The Pats beat the Cards 20-17.  The winning play was a 50-yard field goal by Nick Folk as time expired.  Cam Newton had a statistically miserable day with this stat line:

  • 9 of 18 for 82 yards with 0 TDs and 2 INTs
  • 9 carries for 46 yards

Nevertheless, the Pats prevailed on the scoreboard to keep their playoff hopes alive.  Kyler Murray had an equally unimpressive day with these stats:

  • 23 of 34 for 170 yards with 0 TDs and 1 INT
  • 5 carries for 31 yards.

The Dolphins beat the Jets 20-3.  Sam Darnold returned to the Jets as the starting QB.  His stat line was underwhelming:

  • 16 of 27 for 197 yards with 0 TDs and 2 INTs

Ryan Fitzpatrick was the QB for the Dolphins in the game and he had a good if not great game.  Against these Jets, it usually does not require a “great game” to secure a win and move on to the following week.  The Dolphins have now played 2 games – –  8 quarters of football – – against the Jets this year and have allowed the Jets to amass the grand total of 3 points – – the field goal in this game.

The Bills beat the Chargers 27-17.  The stat sheet looks balanced except for the Chargers’ inability to convert third-down situations.  The Chargers were only 3 for 16 on third down conversions.  Chargers’ QB, Justin Herbert had another good game for stats:

  • 31 of 52 for 361 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT.

The Chiefs beat the Bucs 27-24.  Early on, It appeared as if the Chiefs might win this game 49-3 or something like that and perhaps Patrick Mahomes would break Norm Van Brocklin’s record for passing yards in a game (554 yards) set back in 1951.  The Chiefs led 27-10 at the start of the 4th quarter but the Bucs put on a serious rally that just fell short.  The Chiefs got the ball with 4 minutes left to play in the game leading by a field goal and never relinquished possession of the ball.   Tyreek Hill scored on receptions of 75, 44 and 20 yards, and finished the game with 13 catches for 269 yards  The Chiefs won their sixth straight game and notched their seventh 10-win season in the last eight years under Andy Reid.

The Niners beat the Rams 23-20.  The Rams are the closest the NFL comes to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – – and it was Mr Hyde who showed up last week.  The Niners’ defense rose up and stifled the Rams’ passing game such that Jared Goff posted this stat line:

  • 19 of 31 for 198 yards with 0 TDs and 2 INTs.

That is better than what the Broncos got out of their QB last week – – but the Broncos never drafted him with the #1 overall pick in the NFL Draft…  Neither side dazzled on offense.  The Rams turned the ball over 4 times; the Niners gave it away 3 times.  Combined, the teams faced 27 third-down situations and combined they converted all of 7 of those.

The Packers beat the Bears 41-25.  The game was not that close; it was 41-10 to start the 4th quarter and the Bears got two meaningless TDs after that.  Given the Bears’ less than proficient offense, their only hope was to thwart Packers’ drives and make then kick field goals.  Well that did not happen; when the Packers drove the ball, they scored TDs from beginning to end.  Michell Trubisky was the QB for the Bears and he was not nearly as bad as the score might indicate – – but he did miss a couple of very open receivers in the game.

The Seahawks beat the Eagles 23-17.  The Seahawks were clearly the better team on the field, but the Eagles’ defense kept the game in doubt until late in the 4th quarter.  DK Metcalf caught 10 passes for 177 yards in the game; the Seahawks total offense was 301 yards, so Metcalf accounted for 59% of the team output for the night.  The Seahawks at 8-3 lead the NFC West; the Eagles at 3-7-1 are half a game out of first place in the NFC East.  Go figure…

The Steelers beat the Ravens 19-14.  It took the NFL about 150 hours to get through last week’s games – – but this one got it done.  It was either a “game of defensive might” or a “game of ineptitude on offense”; take your pick.  The Ravens with RG3 and Trace McSorley at the controls managed a total of 219 yards of offense for the day – – 70 of which came on a single play.  The Steelers had the ball for more than 33 minutes and amassed a puny 334 yards on offense.  Perhaps the biggest news item from this game is an injury to Steelers’ LB, Bud Dupree.  He left the game in the 4th quarter with a knee injury that is feared to be a torn ACL.


NFL Games:


Two teams are on BYE weeks this week.

  • The Bucs have a week off to try to blend a Bruce Arians offense with a Tom Brady offense to a greater degree than they have done so to date.
  • The Panthers have a week off to get two of their best offensive players – – Teddy Bridgewater and Christian McCaffrey – – back in playing condition.

Detroit at Chicago – 3 (45):  This game opened the week with the spread at 6 points.  I am not sure why enough people are interested in this game to bet enough money on it to move the line – – but it happened.  Personally, I think this is the Dog-Breath Game of the Week.  The Bears have lost 5 in a row; the Lions have lost 2 in a row.  But the Lions just fired their coach and players seemed happy to get that news.  Purely a hunch here but maybe the Lions exhibit a dead-cat bounce for this game; I’ll take the Lions – even on the road – plus the points; put it in the Six-Pack.

Cincy at Miami – 12 (42):  Who will be the starting QBs here?  Both teams have choices to make there.  There is no choice, however as to which defense is better.  The Dolphins rank 2nd in the NFL giving up 18.6 points per game; the Bengals rank 22nd in the league giving up 26.8 points per game.  The Dolphins have playoff possibilities in sight as motivation for this game; the Bengals’ only real motivation deals with how high a draft pick they are going to get next year.  Two trends point this game toward the Dolphins:

  1. Dolphins are 9-1 straight up in their last 10 home games as the favorite
  2. Bengals are 0-17-1 straight up in their last 18 road games

Indy – 3 at Houston (50.5):  The Colts must win here if they hope to win the AFC South.  Currently they are a game behind the Titans; the teams have split their head-to-head games, but the Colts already have 2 division losses to only 1 for the Titans.  The Texans will playout the rest of the season without starters Bradly Roby on defense and Will Fuller on offense.  They will both serve 6-game suspensions for PED usage.  The Texans are 4-7 on the year and had players using performance enhancing drugs?

Jax at Minnesota – 10.5 (51):  The Jags can choose between 3 QBs to start this game – – none of whom can claim to be anything more than a journeyman even though one of them is a rookie.  The Vikes will start a hot-or-cold QB.  The Vikes are still mathematically alive as a playoff team but a loss here would be devastating.

Las Vegas – 9 at Jets (47):  The line opened at 8 points and has been moving slowly upward all week; at one sportsbook this morning you can find the game listed at 10 points.  The Raiders were awful last week (see above); the Jets have been awful since the start of the season.  The Raiders’ playoff hopes would take a significant hit if they lose this game.  The Jets’ control over next year’s NFL Draft would take a significant hit if they win this game.  The Jets lose games by an average of 15.5 points per game; the Raiders are better than an average opponent; give me the Raiders to win and cover on the road; put it in the Six-Pack.

New Orleans – 3 at Atlanta (45):  The Saints lead the NFC for now and control that single BYE Week in the playoff schedule for this year.  The Falcons can still make the playoffs, but it will take the intervention of a Fairy Godmother to make that happen.  Taysom Hill led the Saints to a win over the Falcons a couple of weeks ago; now coaches have a few games worth of film to study Hill’s game; that could be significant this week.  However, do not look for a big game from the Falcons running attack:

  • Falcons rank 30th in the NFL in yards per carry
  • Saints rank 2nd in the NFL in yards allowed per carry.

Cleveland at Tennessee – 6 (53.5):  This line opened the week at 3 points and has been slowly but surely creeping upward.  Both teams appear to be locks to make the playoffs come January and this is the only game on the card this weekend where you can make that statement.  Hence, I declare this to be the Game of the Week.  Both teams win by running the football; the Browns lead the league averaging 161.4 yards per game rushing; the Titans are 2nd in the NFL in rushing offense at 158.2 yards per game.  Three trends here should give Browns’ fans pause:

  1. Browns are 3-30 straight up in their last 33 games as road underdogs.
  2. Browns are 1-15 straight up in their last 16 road games against teams with a winning record.
  3. Titans are 11-3 straight up in their last 14 games as the favorite.

Giants at Seahawks – 10 (47):  The spread opened at 7 points; it jumped to 9 points very quickly and has continued to rise from there.  Yes, I know that this is a battle between two teams that currently lead their divisions – – but the Giants do so because they stink less than the other 3 teams in the NFC East at the moment.  Russell Wilson and company are not going to run wild on an improving Giants’ defense.  However, the Giants QB options for this week are:

  • Daniel Jones nursing a hamstring injury which will certainly limit his scrambling game to some extent – – or – –
  • Colt McCoy who is a veteran – – but a veteran without an impressive record.  As a starting QB, his teams are 7-21-0 in 28 games – – or – –
  • Clayton Thorsen who is a rookie on the practice squad and you get bonus points if you can name the school where he played college football without resorting to Google.

I hate double-digit spreads in NFL games, but the Seahawks are undefeated at home and the Giants’ QB situation looks awfully bleak; I’ll take the Seahawks and lay the points; put it in the Six-Pack.

Rams – 3 at Arizona (48):  The Rams lead the Cards by a game and both teams still have an eye on the playoffs even though both are looking up at the Seahawks in the NFC West.  The Cards have lost 3 of their last 4 games and have not looked in sync in any of them.  Watching Jalen Ramsey play DeAndre Hopkins should be worth the price of admission here – – if there were tix to be had.

Philly at Green Bay – 8.5 (48):  The Eagles’ defense played very well last week; they will need to replicate that performance this week if they want to keep up with the Packers.  The Packers lead the NFL in scoring at 31.8 points per game; the Eagles’ offense is not nearly so effective ranking 25th in the NFL and scoring only 21.5 points per game.  The only ray of hope for the Eagles is that they rank 3rd in the NFL in yards per carry and the Packers rank 25th in the NFL in yards allowed per carry.  A successful run game might limit the time Aaron Rodgers has to carve up the Eagles’ defense…

New England at Chargers “pick ‘em” (47):  The line for this game is all over the place.  You can find the Pats as 1-point favorites; you can find the Chargers as 1.5-point favorites; the most common line is simply “pick ’em”.  This is a long trip for the Pats and the team has not been impressive recently.  Cam Newton may not be the better QB on the field.  However, remember that Bill Belichick teams are 20-6 against rookie QBs…

(Sun Nite) Denver at KC – 14 (51):  The Good News for the Broncos is that they will have a real QB to start in this game.  The Bad News for the Broncos is that the Chiefs will start Patrick Mahomes at QB in this game.

(Mon Late afternoon) Washington at Pittsburgh – 7.5 (41.5):  This line opened at 9.5 points and fell to this level very quickly.  The strength of the WTFs is their defense – – and the Steelers’ offense has not been dominant this year and looked pedestrian against the Ravens on Wednesday.  The loss of Bud Dupree to the Steelers’ defense means they are now down two quality linebackers having lost Devin Bush earlier in the season.

(Mon Nite) Buffalo at SF – 1 (47):  The spread here opened the week with the Bills as 3-point favorites; somehow the move to Arizona makes the Niners favored?  Maybe so, after all, the Niners are only 1-4 in home games in Santa Clara.  The last time the Bills played at Arizona, Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins beat them with a Hail Mary pass at the end of the game; that is not going to happen again.  I like the Bills to win outright, so I’ll take them with the 1-point cushion; put it in the Six-Pack.

(Tues Nite):  Dallas at Baltimore –  9.5 (45):  The Ravens have lost 3 games in a row; they are 2 full games behind the Browns in the AFC North AND they are only on the fringe of participating in the playoffs.  A loss here would be significant.  Yes, Dallas still has a shot to win the NFC East.  So what?  Dallas will have had 2 weeks off since playing on Thanksgiving Day; the Ravens will play on a short week after losing to the Steelers on Wednesday.  Two trends of interest here are:

  1. Ravens are 7-1 straight up in their last 8 home games against losing teams
  2. Cowboys are 1-7 straight up in their last 8 games on the road.

So, let me review the so-called Six-Pack which is over-crowded with 8 selections this week.

  • UVA – 4 over BC
  • Ohio State – 24 over Michigan State
  • Indiana +14.5 against Wisconsin
  • Texas A&M – 6 over Auburn
  • Raiders – 9 over Jets
  • Lions +3 against Bears
  • Seahawks – 10 over Giants
  • Bills +1 against Niners

Finally, since I mentioned that two Texans’ players will be suspended for 6 games for using PEDs, here is a comment from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times on the same subject but different player:

“Seahawks D-lineman Damontre Moore got suspended a half-dozen games for violating the NFL’s policy on using performance-enhancing substances.

“In other words, a sit-six.”

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



NBA Stuff Today …

The rumors from the last week or so about a straight-up trade of Russell Westbrook for John Wall almost came true yesterday.  I say almost, because the Wizards also threw in a future protected draft pick in the deal.  Lots of people seem to think that this trade is transformative; I read one report that said this is the first time in NBA history that an overall #1 pick in the NBA draft had been traded for a former NBA MVP.  I have not bothered to try to verify that because I do not think it would be worth the effort to do so.  My assessment of the trade is that two very good and very exciting to watch players were exchanged and nothing much else has changed. Moreover, my assessment here assumes – – yes, I know the danger there – – that John Wall recovers completely from the Achilles tendon injury that has kept him out of action for more than a  year.  Let me explain:

  • John Wall is a player whose game is built around his speed and his ability to get to the basket.  The fact is that Wall is not a great shooter; he is, however, a volume shooter.  In four of his seasons, Wall has been in the Top 20 in the NBA in field goal attempts; in five of his seasons, he has been in the Top 20 in the NBA in field goals missed.
  • Russell Westbrook is virtually the same player.  In nine of his seasons in the NBA, Westbrook has been in the Top 20 in field goal attempts; in fact, in three of those seasons, he was 1st in the NBA in shots attempted.  In eleven of his NBA seasons, Westbrook has led the league in field goals missed and he led the league in that category 4 times.

By team metrics, the Wizards will appear to have been the winner of the trade because the Rockets appear to be in a tear-down/rebuild mode while the Wizards appear to have their eye on making the playoffs for the next couple of years and hoping to get lucky with a draft pick or with a free agent who has his heart set on playing in DC.

If the Rockets also trade away James Harden – as is rumored – and are left with John Wall, Boogie Cousins and PJ Tucker as the top players, the Rockets are not going to be serious playoff contenders.  On the other hand, Russell Westbrook paired with Bradley Beal should provide the Wizards with sufficient offense to make the playoffs – – but not much more than that.

In the long run, both the Rockets’ and the Wizards’ future success in the NBA will depend on what the teams do outside of this trade.  That is why I do not think the trade is “transformative” and why I do not think that it will be worth the time and effort to analyze these two players and their teams in microscopic detail over the next year or three.

Sticking with the NBA, I think that LaMelo Ball was fortunate not to have been taken with the overall #1 pick in this year’s NBA Draft.  [In case you missed it, he went to the Hornets with the #3 pick.]  Any Top 5 pick in the Draft draws scrutiny; the overall #1 pick gets an examination that would reveal if he chewed his fingernails.  La Melo Ball will get heightened scrutiny over and above all of that because of the hype his father crated for his older brother Lonzo.  [You may recall that Lonzo Ball was going to make Laker fans forget about Magic Johnson as a Lakers’ point guard.]  To be the overall #1 pick and to be the second Ball brother to come to the NBA would have been an unfair burden to put on someone who just turned 19 years old.

Bob Molinaro had this item in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot recently:

“The NBA’s announcement that it wants fans in arenas when the season begins in late December represents an absurd turnabout for a league that shut down in March when COVID-19 cases across the country were less than 400. Now, with daily cases of 120,000 or more and hospitals and morgues reaching crisis levels, the league thinks it’s just fine to open up again because the owners are missing their money. Precautions involving fan testing and spaced out seating arrangements are not nearly good enough the way things are trending. I’d be surprised, too, if at least some local governments don’t step in to squash the plan.”

That assessment is spot-on.  Given that the circumstances of the pandemic in early December 2020 are such that more than a few jurisdictions have banned attendance at outdoor sporting events such as football games, it is almost ghoulish to think about having fans attend indoor sporting events.  I understand the owners’ economic motivation here and I sympathize with their current plight.  At the same time, one of the epidemiological models I saw recently said that if the country were to relax its efforts to contain the virus – – open up bars and restaurants and workplaces without any restrictions at all – – the national death toll could be as high as 650,000 people by March 1st, 2021.  That is a prediction from a model; it is imperfect to be sure; nevertheless, that projection ought to be sobering and it ought to convince rational adults that some forms of sacrifice are worth making.  I hope the NBA owners and players take heed…

Maybe the NBA will get a message directly from the coronavirus.  The NBA was spectacularly successful with its “Orlando Bubble” environment.  They set up a “clean” population and maintained it and monitored it for several months last summer so that they could finish their season and execute their playoffs without having an outbreak.  Basically, they took 22 of their teams, cleansed them and their staffs of the virus and played basketball games – lots of them.  Then players, coaches and staff went home.

As the NBA gets set to open training camp so it can start its 2021 season on December 22nd, there have been 48 positive tests for coronavirus among 550 players tested.  That is a “positivity rate” of just under 9 %; that is not nearly the worst infection rate I have read about, but it is a cautionary tale.  Lots of “clean teams” exited the “Orlando Bubble” but the virus managed to render about 9% of the league “contaminated”.

In the past week or so, announcements came that Donovan Mitchell and Jayson Tatum each signed maximum contract deals of 5 years and $190M.  Just so there is no misunderstanding, both Mitchell and Tatum are excellent players, and their teams made the right move to lock them up for the next 5 years.  At the same time, it is worth noting that both Mitchell and Tatum are fortunate to have been born when they were:

  • Both players will take down $190M over the next 5 years.
  • Michael Jordan earned $93M over his career in the NBA – – assuming that I have added correctly.

Finally, Dwight Perry had this NBA-related item in the Seattle Times recently:

“Cavaliers guard Kevin Porter Jr. was arrested on a gun charge in Ohio after he crashed his car and investigating officers discovered a loaded firearm inside.

“Apparently he was on his way to the morning shoot-around.”

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



The State Of College Basketball – – December 2020

The college basketball season marches on notwithstanding rashes of cancelled/postponed games even at the start of the season.  It is almost as if the folks in charge believe that if they ignore the very existence of the coronavirus, it will simply dematerialize, and the scourge will be lifted.  Would that it were so…

Back when the folks in charge were trying to figure out how and when to have a college basketball season, one of the ideas on the table was to limit the amount of traveling that teams would need to do.  After all, sitting on an airplane or in a train car with a random sample of the public who may or may not have an infected person among them for several hours was not a model for “containing the spread”.  And so, one of the annual early season “tournaments” held in the Bahamas was relocated to Sioux Falls, SD.  At the time of that action a couple of months ago, the coronavirus had not expressed itself significantly in the mid-west; that decision was well-intentioned and made sense at the time.

However, the coronavirus did make its way to the mid-west and recent public health statistics would probably call South Dakota a viral “hot spot” now.  Brad Dickson resides in Omaha; here is his view on travel to South Dakota in early December:

“I laugh whenever the ‘Visit Sioux Falls’ commercial comes on TV. Nobody in their right mind would vacation in South Dakota right now. It’s safer in the Middle East and inside most active volcanoes.”

In one sense, the college basketball planners did a good thing; they analyzed the situation as it was in an objective manner and then tried to adapt their needs for a basketball season to the “openings” that the virus seemed to provide.  On the other hand, the college basketball planners suffered from a case of hubris in thinking that they could outflank the viral spread.

I suspect that the success of the NBA and the NHL at the time gave the college basketball planners a sense of confidence that they might replicate those situations.  What the NBA and the NHL experiences actually showed, however, is that the coronavirus can be “controlled” in a limited footprint if three essential elements are in place:

  1. Everyone who enters “the bubble” at the outset goes into strict and monitored quarantine with frequent testing.  Ergo “the bubble” begins with a “clean population”.
  2. Any new entrants to “the bubble” need to be tested to a standard that will give confidence to the proposition that the new entrant is not bringing the virus in with him/her.  Similarly, all necessary contacts with the “outside world” – such as food delivery folks – must be closely monitored.
  3. There needs to be frequent and robust testing and re-testing of “the bubble population” with added contact tracing in the event of viral detection.

Nothing in the above is difficult in the sense that nothing in the above requires an invention or a scientific breakthrough.  At the same time, everything above requires diligence and money.  In the case of the NBA and the NHL, the leagues and the players’ unions provided the impetus for diligence and the money for implementation was available.  For college basketball, there is not “overseer” to provide the diligence and far too many of the 357 Division 1 college basketball participants do not have the money to try to make a “bubble” happen.

Absent a “bubble”, college basketball players are out and about on campus – and maybe even off-campus occasionally.  Chronologically and legally, they are adults; let me assert here that less than a majority of them have achieved a state of “wisdom” or even a state of “normal common sense” when it comes to thinking about the consequences of their behaviors.  Deferred gratification does not run rampant throughout the student bodies of US colleges and universities.

Why is the lack of appreciation for deferred gratification a problem?   Well, that is the “environment” in which college football players exist and look at the COVID-19 havoc that is rampant there.  The cost of establishing and maintaining an NBA-like “bubble” for a football team is beyond consideration; so, football teams have to put their players out there “on the economy” so to speak.  College football should provide a model for the ineffectiveness of the “on the economy” model when it comes to viral containment.

College basketball is practiced and played indoors – albeit in large indoor settings.  Nevertheless, logic, research and scholarly study have all pointed to the fact that coronavirus spreads more readily indoors than it does outdoors.  The situation now is that we have new data that indicate that college basketball in early December 2020 is not such a great idea.

College basketball in a normal November or December is just a menu dominated by glorified practices and scrimmages for most teams.  Do fans really look forward to a matchup between Kentucky and Quinnipiac or Michigan State and Utah Valley University?  It is time for the NCAA to make use of one of God’s great creations – – the “Pause Button”.

  • Let the teams isolate as best they can for two or three weeks and resume practicing just before Christmas.
  • Then – – hold your breath now – – look at the infection rates and viral spread in early January and let epidemiology suggest what the next step(s) should be.
  • Then follow the science…
  • Then play conference games only once the science says it is rational and prudent to do so.

What is the downside there?  Maybe the season does not resume until Feb or even March.  Maybe the NCAA Tournament does not happen until May or early June.  So what?

The college basketball mavens did the right thing in March 2020 shutting down the sport unequivocally.  They deserve praise for doing something that was not popular at the time but in hindsight was particularly important.  Things are different now; we know more about the coronavirus and one of the things we know is that it is widespread throughout the country and it is not nearly contained.  I think it is time for the college basketball mavens to take a deep breath and assess what might be “the right thing” to do now.

Finally, since I mentioned Brad Dickson above, here is another of his Tweets related to the idea of traveling about and gathering with friends and family these days:

“Listen to me. Thanksgiving and Christmas have now both been canceled. Stay home, don’t mingle with your extended family. Many of your family members don’t like you anyway. If you don’t do this, we’re prepared to cancel your birthday too. Thanks.”

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



The Fix Is Not In…

Last evening, around halftime of the Eagles/Seahawks game, I went to check my emails and found one from a former colleague.  He was irate to say the least; I believe that if someone had offered him Roger Goodell’s head on a plate he would have accepted the trophy, fastened it to the end of a pole and planted that pole in his front yard.  My intention this morning is not to convince him that Roger Goodell and he ought to be “besties”, but I do think that he is being much harsher on The Commish than he should be.

Let me clean up the language in his email and do some paraphrasing.  After all, we have standards to uphold here in Curmudgeon Central; they may not be lofty standards, but they are standards.

  • The fix is in for the Baltimore Ravens.  The NFL wants them in the playoffs and will get them there “by any means necessary”.
  • Someone on the Ravens broke the NFL’s COVID-19 protocol and the team became a hotspot all within itself.  They get do-overs on their schedule to avoid having the Ravens lose a third game in a row.  [Aside: In one of the less virulent figures of speech in the email, my former colleague said that the NFL had moved the Ravens/Steelers game around “more than a knight on a chessboard.”]
  • When the Broncos had a similar problem and could not play a game with an eligible QB, the NFL made them play the Saints anyway.  [Aside:  My former colleague did not assert that the NFL had the fix in such that the Saints were guaranteed a playoff slot; his focus was purely on the Ravens.]
  • Do not be surprised if the NFL rehires Walt Coleman to call Ravens games all the way to January.

Let me explain that last paraphrase.  My former colleague continues to believe that Walt Coleman was acting on orders from on high when he made the “Tuck Rule call” in a Patriots/Raiders playoff game about two decades ago.  For the record, I know for sure that he does NOT believe in the Illuminati, the Trilateral Commission or the Deep State.  However, he will die on the hill that defends the position that every once in a while, the NFL overlords put their thumb on the scale of fair play to the benefit of specific teams.  And in 2020, he is convinced that the “teacher’s pet” in the NFL would be the Baltimore Ravens.

He concluded with this statement – – again I have edited it to make it comply with the community standards of Curmudgeon Central:

  • If he (The Commish) doesn’t bleeping make the Ravens bleeping forfeit the game against the Steelers, I hope he and all the bleepers at NFL HQs rot in hell.

That concluding statement is the easiest one to start with when it comes to reducing the level of acrimony  here.  No one wants to forfeit that game including the Pittsburgh Steelers’ players.  According to the CBA in place, if a game is forfeited, the players lose a payday.  So, if a player on the Steelers has a base salary in 2020 of $2M, he would lose approximately 1/16th of that salary if a game were forfeited.  That player would lose $125K.  Sure, the imaginary player in this example would still be financially secure but losing out on $125K when the player involved did nothing wrong is a sour deal for that player.  Ergo, I believe that the NFL – – and most importantly, the NFLPA – – will endure almost any sort of schedule contortion imaginable to avoid a forfeited game.

I think the latest scheduling change – and it is not guaranteed to be the final change – proves my assertion here.  The game is now scheduled for 3:30 PM on Wednesday December 2nd.  That is a strange time indeed for an NFL game; it is a workday and the game will begin on the West Coast at 12:30 PM; that pretty much assures low TV ratings which the NFL abhors.  The NFL – and its “broadcasting partner” NBC – have agreed to put a game that would have drawn a huge audience under normal circumstances into a time slot where it might be one of the lowest games of the year in terms of TV ratings.

Enough about a forfeit; that is a last resort; it is “the final solution” only to be invoked when there are no other options.  The other aspect of this situation is to examine the motivation(s) that the league – via The Commish – might have so that they are treating the Ravens under a special set of scheduling rules.  I spent time over my morning coffee today trying to come up with said motivations and cannot think of any that  might stand up to scrutiny in an unagitated set of circumstances.

  • Baltimore is not a huge TV market; in fact, it is only the third largest market among AFC North teams; Pittsburgh is a larger TV market than Baltimore.
  • The Ravens do not have “NFL history” as a motivator.  Surely the Steelers and Browns have “deeper NFL roots” than the Ravens do.
  • The Ravens’ owner, Steve Bisciotti, is certainly no more influential or a greater part of the NFL inner circle than are the Rooneys who own the Steelers.

The fix is not in; if the Ravens right their ship and make it to the playoffs it will be a result of just that; the Ravens righted their ship and got to the playoffs on the basis of their record.

Moreover, it is time to give Walt Coleman some respite and allow him to enjoy his retirement.  He was not a marionette dancing on strings pulled by higher-ups in the NFL back in 2002 when he invoked the Tuck Rule.  You may continue to disagree with that ruling; you may continue to think that Walt Coleman made the single worst call in the history of officials making calls.  But there is no evidence that Walt Coleman is the poster child for any sort of manipulation from NFL HQs when it comes to favoritism for certain teams.

Finally, I made reference to “the final solution” above; that phrase will always be part of the history of Nazi Germany; “the final solution” refers to Hitler’s all-out effort to eliminate Jews completely from Germany.  With that in mind, let me close with this entry from The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm:

Hitler, Adolph:  Perhaps the world’s biggest butthole, whose prudent decision to blow his own brains out ensured there would be no intellectual-property ownership issues around the hundreds of hours of stock footage of him needed to keep the History Channel in business.”

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