Robinson Crusoe had a colleague he named Friday. The TV show, Dragnet, had a main character named Sgt. Joe Friday. Here in Curmudgeon Central, we have Football Friday. There is plenty of stuff to consider this week, so let’s get started…
Last week’s Six-Pack was not anywhere near wonderful:
- College: 1-2-0
- NFL: 1-2-0
- Combined: 2-4-0
For the year, the cumulative totals are:
- College: 2-3-0
- NFL: 2-4-1
- Combined: 4-7-1
College Football Commentary:
The Linfield College Wildcats had an impressive road victory last week in Redlands CA over the Redlands Bulldogs by a score of 51-10. The Wildcats are 2-0 in their quest to keep alive their streak of winning football seasons that began in 1956. This week, the Wildcats are on the road again; this week they play the Puget Sound Loggers. Puget Sound arrives at the game with an 0-2 record and one of those losses was to Redlands by a score of 60-10. Go Wildcats!
I know that the college football season is only 3 weeks old and that only about 5% of the conference games have already happened. Nevertheless, there are a few teams that look as if they are going to be a lot better than I thought they were going to be and a few that are going to be worse than I thought they were going to be. Here are the positive surprises to date:
- BYU: The Cougars are 3-0 and all three wins have come against PAC-12 competition. They lost their starting QB from last year (Zach Wilson) to the NFL Draft so I thought they might “take a step back”.
- Fresno St.: They are 3-1 and that loss was to highly ranked Oregon by 7 points. They also have a win over UCLA. The Bulldogs have gone through the toughest part of their schedule; they could be a nine- or ten-win team this year.
- Iowa: The Hawkeyes are 3-0 and two of those wins have come against teams that were ranked in the Top 20. Iowa gets the “Sesame Street Trophy” for the year by dominating the letter “I”. They have beaten Indiana and Iowa State.
Here are the negative surprises to date:
- Clemson: Yes, the Tigers are 2-1. However, I had them as a CFP team when the season started almost out of habit. Other than a shellacking of a Division 1-AA foe, the Tigers have scored a total of 17 points in their other two games.
- Miami: There was lots of hype about the Hurricanes being on the verge of returning to a power position in the college football hierarchy. I bought into some of that hype. Miami is 1-2 on the season; the win was by 2 points over Appalachia State; the two losses were blowouts (see below).
- Notre Dame: Yes, I know the Irish are 3-0. However, none of those three wins were anything near “dominant”.
- Ohio State: The defense is not up to Buckeyes’ standards so far this year. It has allowed 86 points in three games.
Before the season started, there were rumblings that the PAC-12 might be on the upswing this year. Washington was one of the teams expected to be relevant – – but an opening week loss to Division 1-AA Montana kicked that idea in the head. An overall look at the conference so far is far closer to “bleak” than it is to “rosy”. Consider:
- The only undefeated team is Oregon at 3-0 with a win over Ohio State and a #3 ranking in this week’s poll. The rest of the picture is not pretty.
- Arizona is 0-3 including a loss at home to a Division 1-AA foe.
- Colorado opened with a win over a Division 1-AA opponent. In its last two games – both of which were at home – the Buffaloes scored a total of 7 points.
- Oregon St. is 2-1, but those two wins have been over less-than-formidable opponents.
- UCLA looked as if it was going to be a bright spot for the conference when it beat LSU. Then the next week they hosted Fresno State and lost.
- Utah already has two losses and their starting QB has left the team. The team did not get rid of him; he walked out. (see below)
Charlie Brewer was the Utah starting QB for the season; he is a senior who transferred to Utah from Baylor for this year. Utah lost last week to San Diego State and Brewer was benched after posting the following stat line:
- 14 of 26 for 104 with 0 TDs and 1 INT
Brewer was sacked three times before he was replaced. His replacement, Cameron Rising, threw for 3 TDs in the game and almost pulled it out for the Utes; Rising is a sophomore. Evidently, Brewer saw the handwriting on the wall and chose to leave the team rather than be Rising’s backup. Here is the explanation of that whole situation by Utah coach Kyle Whittingham:
“Charlie has decided to move on, and we wish him the best.”
Before looking at individual games from last week, let me present the teams that are in contention for The Brothel Defense Award this year – – the defense that allows anyone to score a lot:
- UMass has given up 46 points per game
- UConn has given up 46 points per game
- Rice has given up 46.7 points per game
I’ll start with games involving Big-10 schools…
Cincy 38 Indiana 24. Cincy goes to 3-0. Indiana was a Top 25 team in the pre-season and has lost 2 of its first 3 games. Cincy trailed 24-23 at the start of the 4th quarter but took control in the final stages of the game to win comfortably. It was not an “artistic game” by any measure. There were 7 turnovers in the game (4 by Indiana) and there were 16 penalties (11 by Cincy) in the game.
Michigan St. 38 Miami 17: Can we dispense with the lofty expectations and pumping sunshine up the butts of Miami fans? If this is a Top 25 team, then it is a bleak year in college football. Miami had more yards on offense and more first downs in the game. However, they turned the ball over 4 times.
Minnesota 30 Colorado 0: Two weeks ago, Colorado lost to Texas A&M 10-7. The offense for Colorado seems to be a bit lethargic. The Buffaloes had total offense of 68 yards for the game including minus-14 yards rushing. They managed all of 6 first downs in the game and turned the ball over twice.
Notre Dame 27 Purdue 13: Purdue simply could not run the ball; they gained only 57 yards on 26 attempts. Nonetheless the game was even on the field. Notre Dame’s total offense was 343 yards and Purdue’s total offense was 348 yards. The big difference was that Purdue turned the ball over twice and Notre Dame never turned it over. Also, Notre Dame had 4 first downs on penalties against the Boilermakers.
Ohio State 41 Tulsa 20: It’s a win – – but not a cover against a much lesser program. That does not sit well with the heavy-hitting Buckeye boosters.
Oklahoma 23 Nebraska 16: This is clearly the best showing by Nebraska this year. The Sooners were a huge favorite and had to scramble to win. The game was as even on the field as it was on the scoreboard. The Sooners’ defense is mediocre, and their “potent” offense looked nothing more than “ordinary” against a mediocre Big 10 team.
Penn State 28 Auburn 20: This is a big win for Penn State and a feather in the cap for the Big-10 as a conference. Sean Clifford outdueled Bo Nix here; Clifford threw for 280 yards and 2 TDs; Nix amassed 185 yards and 0 TDs.
Duke 30 Northwestern 23: Here are the results from SAT Bowl #1. Duke led 24-0 in the first half and 30-7 at the half; and then, Duke was shut out in the second half. Who knows?
Moving along to action involving SEC teams…
Stanford 41 Vandy 23: Here are the results from SAT Bowl #2. This game was a lot closer on the field than on the scoreboard. Vandy had more first downs in the game and was 4 for 4 on fourth down conversions. Nonetheless, Stanford dominated on the scoreboard.
Kentucky 28 UT-Chattanooga 23: Kentucky is 3-0…
Alabama 31 Florida 29: Alabama was a 2 TD favorite in this game, and the Tide led early and looked as if they would put this game on ice; they led 21-3 at the end of the 1st quarter. The Gators won the second half 20-10. Florida gained 436 yards to only 327 yards for Alabama and ran the ball for 241 on the Alabama defensive line. Alabama has now won 32 games in a row against SEC East teams and 8 in a row over the Gators.
Georgia 40 S. Carolina 13: Georgia/Florida is going to be a great game this year and the winner could well be Alabama’s opponent in the SEC Championship Game. I only saw highlights of this game against the Gamecocks, but Georgia looks awfully good to me.
In games involving ACC teams…
W.Va 27 VA Tech 21: I really thought the Hokies were the better team here. My bad.
Western Michigan 44 Pitt 41: You can count on Pitt to toss in a clunker – and maybe two – every season. This is their first one of 2021. W. Michigan is 2-1. The wins are over Pitt here and Indiana State last week. The loss was a shellacking by Michigan (47-14) in Week 1. Pitt turned the ball over 3 times in the game Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett threw six touchdown passes and it still wasn’t enough for the Panthers.
Clemson 14 Ga Tech 8: This is probably a negative mark for Clemson as it seeks to put itself back in the CFP spotlight. Or maybe Ga Tech is a whole lot better than anyone projected? My guess is that this is just a down year for the Tigers. Clemson was a 4 TD favorite at kickoff; Ga Tech out gained them on the field 314 yards to 292 yards.
Wake Forest 35 Fla State 14: The Seminoles have a new head coach who has been there for all of 3 games. He came from a successful tenure at Memphis but that is lesser competition than the ACC and the expectations at Memphis are far more realistic than the ones in Tallahassee. Already there are little rumblings that Florida State may be looking at Deion Sanders to come in and take over the program. Sanders was openly interested in the Florida State job when it was open last winter; Sanders took the job at Jackson State presumably to give him some coaching credentials. This could get interesting…
UNC 59 Virginia 29: There were some impressive stats in this game. VA QB, Brennan Armstrong threw for 554 yards and 4 TDs. That was not enough – – even though it was better than UNC QB, Sam Howell who *only* threw for 307 yards and 5 TDs. Somehow, I doubt any NFL scouts watching this game had a lot of positive notes on defensive backs out there on the field…
Moving along to the Big-12…
K-State 38 Nevada 17: I said last week that K-State is tough at home. This was a 3-point spread at kickoff.
Baylor 45 Kansas 7: All has come back to reality within the Jayhawks’ football program…
Texas 58 Rice 0: The Longhorns amassed 620 yards offense to only 272 yards offense for Rice. This was a mismatch from the outset. Rice is 0-3 and all the losses have been bad ones. So far this year, Rice has been outscored 140-24.
Out in the land of the PAC-12 …
Washington 52 Arkansas St. 3: I honestly believe that the Washington coach saved his job with this blowout. Had he lost to another lesser program…
USC 45 Washington St. 14: The Cougars led this game 14-7 at halftime and then the Trojans woke up and dominated the second half 38-0. USC QB, Kedon Slovis was injured and a true freshman, Jaxon Dart, came off the bench to throw for 391 yards with 4 TDs and 2 INTs. USC got 28 points in the 3rd quarter alone.
Fresno State 40 UCLA 37: Not a good look for the PAC-12 – – but selfishly, I got the OVER pick correctly in last week’s Six-Pack. Fresno St. dominated here gaining 569 yards on offense to 395 for UCLA. Fresno St also had 32 first downs to only 19 for the Bruins. The Bulldogs ran 91 offensive plays to only 55 for the Bruins.
And in a game of minimal importance, Army beat UConn 52- 21: Remember, it is the former defensive coordinator who has been elevated to the head coaching job now that Randy Edsall has retired. Army led 42-0 at the half and put it on cruise control for the win.
College Games of Interest:
(Fri Nite) Wake Forest at UVa – 3.5 (68.5): Wake is undefeated so far this year; last week Virginia lost to UNC by 30 points. The oddmakers are clearly unimpressed by Wake Forest.
(Fri Nite) UNLV at Fresno St. – 30.5 (59): UNLV is a bad team and Fresno St. is one of my “positive surprise” teams so far in 2021.
Kentucky – 5 at S. Carolina (48): Kentucky is unbeaten so far this year and S. Carolina got waxed by Georgia last week. Make no mistake, Kentucky is not quite Georgia this year…
Notre Dame at Wisconsin – 6.5 (45): This should be a good game, and this could be an important game in terms of rankings and “conference bragging rights”. Wisconsin was off last week and has had 2 weeks to prep for this game.
San Jose St. at W. Michigan – 2.5 (63): W. Michigan beat Pitt last week; now they are home against San Jose St. and are less than a field goal favorite? Another example of the oddsmakers being unimpressed…
UMass at Coastal Carolina – 36 (65): Coastal Carolina is ranked in the Top 20 and would surely want to stay there. However, they are not a football blueblood so they need to continue to play “impressively” for voters who will not watch them play. UMass is in the running for the Brothel Defense Award this week…
Akron at Ohio St. – 48.5 (67): The Buckeyes’ defense has not been good at all this year; if they are to get themselves to a point where people think they might be half-decent, they need to put the clamps on Akron this week.
Kansas at Duke – 16 (57): Kansas is not any good, but can you trust the Duke defense enough to spot another Division 1 team two TDs plus?
UNC – 12.5 at Ga Tech (63.5): The fact that Tech held Clemson to 14 points last week obviously did not impress the oddsmakers. The Total Line would suggest that the Tar Heels will score close to 40 points here…
Washington St. at Utah – 15 (53.5): Neither team has looked impressive so far in 2021. This game could be part of a race to the bottom…
Hawaii – 17 at New Mexico St. (62.5): Hawaii is not nearly a powerhouse team, and this is a long trip for them to get from Hawaii to Las Cruces, NM (almost 6 hours in the air). Nonetheless they are 17-point favorites; that tells you what the oddsmakers think of New Mexico State.
USF at BYU – 23 (54): BYU is undefeated and should stay that way this week. BYU has won its last 12 home games; USF has lost its last 7 road games. But the Cougars are not winning because of their offense; their total margin of victory in 3 games is 27 points. That is a big number for them to cover
Colorado at Arizona St. – 14.5 (45): Remember, Colorado was shut out last week and only scored 7 points the week before that…
UCLA – 5 at Stanford (58.5): Each team has a loss, but both are undefeated in conference games. Stanford QB, Tanner McKee has thrown 5 TDs with 0 INTs this year; he will face a UCLA pass defense that has been miserable. The last two opponents for UCLA (LSU and Fresno St.) combined to throw 5 TDs and to amass 788 yards in the air. With Stanford at home, taking points and facing a questionable defense, I like the Cardinal; I’ll take Stanford plus the points; put it in the Six-Pack.
Louisville – 1.5 at Florida St. (61.5): I have exactly no sense of how this game might unfold. Louisville’s two wins are at home; Florida State has lost twice at home and once on the road. The Seminoles are 0-3 so far in 2021; the last time they were 0-4 was back in 1974; Gerald Ford was President in 1974.
K-State at Oklahoma St. – 6 (46.5): Both teams are undefeated. K-State looked good at home last week in beating Nevada. Oklahoma State has 3 wins in 2021 by a total of 13 points. I think this will be a low-scoring game where I prefer to take points; so, I’ll take K-State on the road plus the points; put it in the Six-Pack.
So. Mississippi at Alabama – 45 (58.5): So. Miss gave up 9 sacks in a game against Troy; you cannot blame the So. Miss QB if he comes out a tad gun-shy here. In that game against Troy, the Golden Eagles amassed only 156 yards on offense. Here are the Money Line odds for this game:
- So. Miss = +35,000
- Alabama = minus-105,000
Georgia – 35 at Vandy (53): Vandy lost at home last week to Stanford. Georgia is better than Stanford…
LSU – 2.5 at Mississippi St. (56.5): Could be an important game for both teams. For LSU, the fans will not be happy with a loss to one of the “lesser teams” in the conference. For Mississippi State, it will be embarrassing if their so-called big-time offense cannot light up the scoreboard against a suspect defense. We shall see…
SMU at TCU – 9.5 (65.5): This is a rivalry game that does not draw a lot of attention. The schools are about 30 miles from each other.
Tennessee at Florida – 18.5 (63.5): The Gators rallied to make it a nail-biter last week against Alabama. If they play the way they did in the second half, Tennessee will be blown out – – but might they suffer a let-down after that emotional game…???
Clemson – 10 at NC St. (47.5): The Clemson offense has been AWOL in both games against Division 1-A opponents this season scoring a; total of 17 points. However, the Clemson defense has kept things interesting because it only gave up 21 points in the Tigers’ 3 games.
Nebraska at Michigan St. – 5 (52): State has been strong this year and Nebraska has been up and down. Last week in a rivalry game with Oklahoma, they were up; if they play that way, they can handle anything Michigan St. might throw at them. If they have a down day , however…
Rutgers at Michigan – 20.5 (49.5): The Wolverines are undefeated and lead the nation in rushing. The Scarlet Knights are undefeated and have only allowed 34 points for 2021. Last year, these teams went to Triple OT to decide the game.
Cal at Washington – 7.5 (47): Both teams are 1-2 for the season; both teams won last week; both teams are 0-0 in conference play.
Arizona at Oregon – 28.5 (59): Oregon seems to be the class of the PAC-12 this year; Arizona seems to be the doormat of the conference this year.
Last week was a bad week in terms of injuries to players who are important contributors to their teams. There were four starting QBs who were injured in Week 2:
- Andy Dalton – Bears
- Tua Tagovailoa – Dolphins
- Tyrod Taylor – Texans
- Carson Wentz – Colts
Here are six other injuries from last week to players who are/were very important to their teams:
- Tyson Alualu – Steelers
- Brandon Brooks – Eagles
- Bradley Chubb – Broncos
- Brandon Graham – Eagles
- Jarvis Landry – Browns
- TJ Watt – Steelers
The Jags have begun the “Urban Meyer Era” at 0-2. Frankly, that is not a surprise; the roster he inherited was significantly flawed and while teams can “turn around” quickly in this free agency era, the Jags had too much turning to do to start off strongly. However, the Jags 0-2 record is not one that inspires hope and confidence and all those good things. Consider:
- Trevor Lawrence – the crown jewel of the roster – has been running for his life and has had no time to throw. His stat line is 42 of 84 for 450 yards with 4 TDs and 5 INTs. It is not his fault; the Jags’ running game does not scare anyone and the Jags’ pass-catching cadre does not have any All-Pros lining up.
- The Jags have been outscored 60-34. A team with a bad OL that cannot protect its QB cannot win giving up 30 points per game.
- The Jags’ offense has gained a total of 584 yards in 2 games. That is an “acceptable” average output; but remember, a lot of those yards came after the game was in the bag.
- The Jags’ defense has yielded 847 yards in 2 games. There is no amount of arm-waving and deflection that can rationalize such an average allowance. That defense has stunk out the joint for two weeks.
- The Jags’ losing streak is at 17 – – and counting…
Here is a stat – or a reality – that I picked up listening to Greeny on ESPN Radio this week. The last 3 rookie QBs to have a game where they threw 0 TDs and also threw 4 INTs are:
- Mark Sanchez
- Sam Darnold
- Zach Wilson
Anyone see a pattern there…?
Then Saints have been vagabonds in 2021 thanks to Hurricane Ida who drove them out of New Orleans for Week 1; the Saints had to play in Jax. The goal was to host the Giants on October 3rd, but the roof of the Superdome caught on fire this week leaving that game venue up in the air. In the spirit of making chicken salad out of chicken s*it, how’s this for an idea:
- See if the Saints can play that October 3 game in the Alamodome in San Antonio. It could be an “audition” for fans there; and if the 64,000-seat stadium is packed, the NFL can use it for leverage in the next round of stadium building negotiations with existing cities.
- Just a thought. No fee…
Dick Vitale likes to refer to teams that are up one game and down the next as “Dow Jonesers”. Well, I think we saw three such teams in the first two weeks of NFL play this year. So, which version is closer to reality:
- Saints dismantling of the Packers in Week 1 or Saints no-show against the Panthers in Week 2 – – OR – –
- Steelers’ Defense in Week 1 at the Bills or Steelers’ Defense in Week 2 at home vs Raiders – – OR – –
- The Week 1 Titans or the second-half-of-Week 2 Titans?
From games last week, WFT 30 Giants 29: The team that made the last mistake lost the game; the fourth quarter was nothing more than a comedy of errors. And maybe the final error was by the officials who called Dexter Lawrence offsides on a Washington field goal that sailed wide right and would have ended the game in favor of the Giants. Whatever. The game is in the books; the Giants’ defense is a mess; the Football Team’s defense – – a self-proclaimed Top 5 unit – – is also a mess. The Giants are not going to score 29 points very often this season.
Panthers 26 Saints 7: The Saints scored at will in Week 1 against the Packers winning 38-3. In this game the offense was overwhelmed; the Saints’ total offense for the day was 128 yards. Sam Darnold had a good day for the Panthers throwing for 305 yards and 2 TDs with 0 INTs.
Browns 31 Texans 21: The Texans led the game 14-7 but starting QB, Tyrod Taylor, was injured and had to leave the game. [Aside: Can that guy ever get a starting job and avoid an injury early in the season?] From that point on, the Browns defense took control. The Browns’ running game was dominant too.
Niners 17 Eagles 11: This game was close from start to finish. The Eagles had a 91-yard pass completion in the game and did not score on that drive. Hard to believe. Eagles’ coach Nick Sirianni might be too cute as a play-caller. The Eagles had the ball at the Niners 3 yardline and had 6 plays that resulted in nothing. The strength of the Eagles’ offense is their offensive line; use it. Jalen Hurts had a good day running the ball (82 yards on 10 carries and a TD) but a less-than-wonderful day passing (12 of 23 for 190 yards).
Bears 20 Bengals 17: The Bears won this game on defense. They sacked Joe Burrow 4 times, intercepted 3 passes one of which was a Pick-Six. The game looks closer than it was; the Bears led 20-3 at the start of the 4th quarter. Andy Dalton left the game with an injury; Justin Fields posted this stat line for his time against the Bengals:
- 6 of 13 for 60 yards with 0 TDs and 1 INT
Pats 25 Jets 6: At first glance, the stats would indicate a Jets’ victory here. The Jets had 76 more yards on offense and ran the ball for 152 yards. They had more first downs than the Pats and converted 5 of 13 third-down opportunities. Here is the problem: Zach Wilson threw 4 INTs in the game.
Raiders 26 Steelers 17: This is a big win for the Raiders, and they deserved it. Derek Carr controlled the game in the absence of RB, Josh Jacobs. Both defenses played well; the Raiders’ defense played better. The Steeler’s defense will have to adjust to the loss of Alualu and maybe TJ Watt. Alualu fractured his ankle and Watt had a groin injury that did not allow him to return to the game. The Steelers’ offense is still dink-and-dunk and the Raiders’ defense picked up on that reluctance to throw the ball down the field.
Broncos 23 Jags 13: Trevor Lawrence threw 2 INTs in the game and the Broncos’ defense was too much for the Jags who have now lost 17 in a row. The Jags’ offense for the day was a meager 189 yards. The Jags scored a TD on their first possession. Then this is the result of their offense from that score until a final drive that produced a meaningless score:
- Missed Field Goal
- Missed Field Goal
Rams 27 Colts 24: Cooper Kupp had another outstanding day against the Colts’ secondary; he caught 9 passes for 163 yards and 2 TD. The Colts outgained the Rams here but were only 1 for 4 in terms of TDs in the Red Zone. The Colts had two possessions in the first half inside the Rams’ 10 yardline and they came away with nothing on the scoreboard. In the first of those possessions, the Colts ran Jonathan Taylor four straight times and gained zero net yards. The next time, the Colts ran Taylor inside again and were stuffed once more; and then, they ran Taylor inside again. That yielded the same result. So, the next thing out of the Colts’ bag of tricks was to have Carson Wentz came up with a shovel pass apparently to no one that was immediately intercepted by the Rams’ defense.
Bucs 48 Falcons 25: Matt Ryan threw 2 Pick-Sixes in this game. The Falcons are not nearly good enough to overcome that sort of thing. Not all the blame belongs to Ryan here; the Falcons OL allowed way too much pressure most of the day. Tom Brady had a good day at the office throwing 5 TD passes.
Titans 33 Seahawks 30 (OT): The Seahawks seemed to be in control of this game; they led 24-9 at the half. The Seahawks put up 397 yards on offense which is usually a good number for a win; however, the Titans countered with 532 yards of offense last week. Derek Henry had a huge day carrying the ball 32 times for 182 yards and 3 TDs. The Titans controlled the ball for just over 39 minutes in the game.
Cowboys 20 Chargers 17: The game winner was a 56-yard field goal as the clock ran down. The Dallas defense gave up yards but also managed to intercept Justin Herbert twice in the game.
Ravens 36 Chiefs 35: For me, this was the most entertaining game of the weekend The Chiefs’ defense was ineffective against the run; the Ravens ran for 251 yards on 41 carries. Lamar Jackson was the leading rusher (with 2 TDs on the ground) and he completed 70% of his passes including another TD. The Chiefs also melted down on offense turning the ball over twice in its final three possessions of the game. However, these were two very accomplished teams going at each other and it was enjoyable to watch – – as it may be come playoff-time…
Cards 34 Vikes 33: The Vikes’ kicker had a bad day. He missed an extra point and then missed a game-winning field goal as time expired from the 38-yardline. Kyler Murray was the offensive hero of the game throwing 3 TD passes and rushing for another score.
Bills 35 Dolphins 0: Tua was hurt in the first quarter and did not return. The Dolphins’ OL is simply not adequate; absent significant improvement there, the Dolphins are in for a long season. The Bills pretty much did whatever they needed to do when they needed to do it.
Packers 35 Lions 17: The Lions looked as if they were going to make a game out of this until a clock somewhere struck midnight and the Lions realized who they really are and folded like a bedsheet.
Last night, the Texans went with Davis Mills at QB since Tyrod Taylor could not go against the Panthers. Going into the final 2 minutes of the first half, the Texans’ offense had a net of 44 yards and did not cross the 50-yardline until 1:12 was left in the first half. Nevertheless, the game was 7-6 at the half in favor of the Panthers. Carolina won the game despite losing Christian McCaffrey to a leg injury; the Panthers simply have the better roster. The Panthers are 3-0 for the season.
Arizona – 7.5 at Jax (52): The Cards rank second in the NFL in offense early on in the 2021 season with 445 yards per game. The Jags’ defense is not equipped to handle that – – unless the Cards self-immolate as they have been known to do.
Indy at Tennessee – 5.5 (48): Assuming Carson Wentz cannot play, the Colts will be starting a rookie QB, Jacob Eason . The Titans’ defense has not been noteworthy so far this year, but against a rookie QB in their house, that unit should have a good day. Wentz is a month or so removed from foot surgery and he now has two sprained ankles. The Colts need him on the field over the long haul, so they need to be judicious about when they re-insert him as their starter lest he go down for good this year.
- [Aside: Carson Wentz has achieved something that will never be eclipsed. He has two ankle sprains at the same time. Only a mutant could possibly break that record.]
Baltimore – 8 at Detroit (50): I think the Ravens are a very good team, but I am not sold on the Ravens as a reliable team; I am fully sold on the proposition that the Lions are not good at all. Last week against the Packers on MNF, the Lions exhibited some significant defensive shortcomings. Last week, the Ravens exorcised some demons in beating the Chiefs and are ripe for a let-down game.
Washington at Buffalo – 7.5 (45.5): This is a potentially excellent game. Josh Allen has been inaccurate in the first two games of 2021; it is almost as if he is a rookie once again. Notwithstanding that slow start to 2021, Allen has some quality WRs – – Stefon Diggs and Cole Beasley – – to get open for him. The Bills’ defense should force Tyler Heinicke to make his decisions quickly. I am tempted to take Washington plus those points with a hook on top of a full TD – – but I shall remain above that temptation.
New Orleans at New England – 3 (42.5): Which Saints team is going to take the field on Sunday? Since I have no idea as to the answers to that question, this is a great game to watch – – with no monetary interest in the outcome.
Chargers at KC – 7.5 (54.5): This is my runner-up as the Game of the Week. Both teams lost last week; both teams have serious playoff aspirations, and those aspirations will not be enhanced by taking a second loss in the first three games. The Chiefs’ run defense was awful against the Ravens last week, but this week they do not have to contend with Lamar Jackson running the ball. I think the Chargers can keep this game close enough that it comes down to how the teams perform in the final few possessions. I like that hook on top of a full touchdown’s worth of points; so, I’ll take the Chargers plus those points; put it in the Six-Pack.
Atlanta at Giants – 3 (47.5): This is my Dog-Breath Game of the Week. Both teams are 0-2; the Falcons have the worst point differential in the NFL at minus-49; the Giants are masters at giving games away. Pay attention to other games…
Chicago at Cleveland – 8 (45.5): Justin Fields gets his first start of the season with Nick Foles as his backup QB. It appears Andy Dalton will be in street clothes for the game. Here is a question I would like to see someone ask Andy Dalton:
- Have you ever heard of Wally Pipp?
The Browns are clearly a better team, but they have been unimpressive to the point where it is fair to say they are underperforming.
Cincy at Pittsburgh – 3 (43): The Raiders exploited the Steelers’ defense late last week but much of that exploitation came after two important injuries to Steelers’ defenders (see above). TJ Watt is “questionable” for this week; so, I do not know what version of the Steelers’ defense will take the field. The Bengals lost to the Bears last week and Joe Burrow has already been sacked 9 times in the first two games.
Miami at Las Vegas – 3.5 (44): After two big wins against AFC North opponents, the Raiders host a lesser opponent whose starting QB is out with broken ribs. Jacoby Brisset will be the Dolphins’ starter at QB this week and the Dolphins’ hopes must ride with their defensive unit keeping the game close. I do not think that will be the case unless the Raiders come out flat and sleepwalk through the game. I like the Raiders at home to win and cover; put it in the Six-Pack.
Jets at Denver – 11 (41.5): The Jets’ offense has scored 20 points in two games. The Broncos’ strength is their defense; it has allowed only 13 points per game. I will avoid this as a selection only because I do not like double-digit spreads in NFL games. As an indication of the way the betting public sees the game, the Jets are the highest odds on the Money Line at +480. Even the Jags are lower at +295.
Tampa at Rams “pick ‘em” (55): Here is the Game of the Week. Both offenses can be explosive and both defenses – while very good – can be exploited by good offensive game planning and good quarterbacking. I think there will be a lot of scoring here; so, I’ll take the game to go OVER; put it in the Six-Pack.
Seattle – 1 at Minnesota (55): Both teams lost last week and both teams lost last week because of defensive flaws. I am seriously tempted to take this game to go OVER – – but I will resist that temptation. I would point out that Vikes’ coach, Mike Zimmer, is a defensive maven, but his defense stinks (yielding 30 points per game) and another bad loss here blamed on the defense could turn up the heat on his seat…
(Sun Nite) Green Bay at SF – 3 (50): I gave this game fleeting consideration for Game of the Week; it will be a fun game to watch. The Niners gain 124 yards per game on the ground and the Packers allow 139.5 yards per game rushing. The Niners can control this game and minimize the time Aaron Rodgers has to work against the Niners’ defense.
(Mon Nite) Philly at Dallas – 3.5 (52): The Cowboys have started the season with two road games; this is their home opener. Jalen Hurts can make some big plays, but Dak Prescott will likely make more such plays. I like the Cowboys at home to win and cover; put it in the Six-Pack.
So let me review this week’s Six-Pack:
- Stanford + 5 vs UCLA
- K-State + 6 vs Oklahoma State
- Chargers +7.5 vs Chiefs
- Raiders – 3.5 over Dolphins
- Bucs/Rams OVER 55
- Cowboys – 3.5 over Eagles
Finally, apropos of nothing, here is a comment by the novelist/essayist J. B. Priestley:
“There was no respect for youth when I was young, and now that I am old, there is no respect for age. I missed it coming and going.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………