Football Friday 10/29/21

TGIF – – Thank God It’s Friday – – is a common state of mind in workplaces around the country.  Here in Curmudgeon Central that acronym is modified slightly to become TGIFF – – Thank God It’s Football Friday.  So let me get into it and review last week’s Six-Pack:

  • College  =  1-0-0
  • NFL  =  3-2-0
  • Total  =  4-2-0

That brings the cumulative season totals to:

  • College  =  7-7-0
  • NFL  =  13-14-1
  • Total  =  20-21-1


College Football Commentary:


The Linfield College Wildcats extended their record to 6-0 for the season last week beating Pacific Lutheran 52-7.  In five of their six victories, Linfield has scored more than 50 points.  This week Linfield hosts the George Fox Bruins in McMinnville.  The Bruins have a record of 4-2 for the season and have won their last 4 games in a row.  Both teams are undefeated in Northwest Conference games this year.  Go Wildcats!

Taking a quick peek at the schools in contention for the Brothel Defense Award – given to the team that allows others to score most easily:

  • Tulane gives up 42.3 points per game
  • UMass gives up 44 points per game
  • Arkansas St. gives up 44 points per game

Texas Tech fired Matt Wells as its head football coach this week.  This is interesting because Tech is 5-3 this season and the last time the Red Raiders had a winning season in football was 2015.  I would have thought that a 5-3 start to the 2021 season might get him a contract extension.  By the way, the last time Texas Tech had a winning record in Big-12 Conference games was in 2009; Mike Leach was the coach that year and he too was fired during the season.

One a more generic level, I wonder about one of the ongoing storylines for this college football season.  Cincy has gotten a lot of support as an “outsider team” to break into the CFP this year.  So, I wonder what might happen if the following comes to pass:

  • On November 20 Cincy with a 10-0 record hosts SMU with a 9-0 record.
  • Suppose SMU wins that game on the road.
  • Does the narrative immediately flip to SMU worthiness for the CFP – – because there has been little evidence of that narrative to this point of the season?

UNLV has a large replica of a slot machine on its football sidelines this year.  Whenever the team scores or creates a turnover, players gather round the slot machine and pull the lever.  That seems harmlessly clever; University of Nevada, Las Vegas and a slot machine; a natural connection.  However, there is a meta-message here and it is not nearly as benign:

  • UNLV has lost every game to date this year.
  • Slot machines are programmed to assure that players using them are losers in the long run.
  • Hmmm…

If there was a thread that ran through last week’s college football results, let me suggest that it would be unimpressive performances by ranked teams.  Let me pull those unimpressive results from the bulk of the commentary here to show what I mean.

#2Cincy 27  Navy 20:  This was not the kind of impressive win that a Top 5 team would be expected to put upon an opponent who arrived at the kickoff with a 1-5 record.  The Middies outgained the Bearcats 308 yards to 271 yards and had more first downs too (21 to 14).

#3Oklahoma 35  Kansas 23:  This was an ugly win for the Sooners; Kansas outgained Oklahoma 412 yards to 391 yards; Kansas had more first downs and Kansas converted on 9 of 13 third down tries.  The Jayhawks led 10-0 at the half and led 17-14 at the start of the 4th quarter.  If the CFP Selection Committee “snubs” the Sooners, the way they played in this game will probably be a major reason for the “snub”.

Illinois 20  #7 Penn State  18  (9OT):  And it was in State College no less. The Lions were 24.5-point favorites at kickoff.  This was the longest game in Division 1-A ever.  The total Penn State offense was 227 yards.  The only word I can come up with here is “shameful”.

Iowa St. 24  #8 Oklahoma St. 21:  Oklahoma leads the Big-12 with a 5-0 record; Iowa St, Oklahoma St. and Baylor have one loss in conference games.  Iowa St. drove 85 yards for a TD late in the 4th quarter to come from behind to win this game.  It was as even on the stat sheet as it was on the scoreboard.

Appalachian St. 30  #14 Coastal Carolina 27:  The pollsters and the people doing Top 25 rankings should now pose this question:

  • What lovely parting gifts do we have for the Chanticleers, Johnny?

This was no fluke.  Appalachian St. outgained Coastal Carolina by 226 yards of offense.  Coastal Carolina’s running game was shut down gaining all of 55  yards on 29 running attempts.  Two turnovers by Appalachian St. kept this game closer than it should have been.

Miami 31  #18NC State 30:  The stat sheet for this game was as close as the scoreboard was.  Miami played with a true freshman at QB, and Tyler Van Dyke exceeded any rational expectations anyone may have had as he filled in for injured starter D’Eriq King.  Van Dyke  was 25 of 33 for 325 yards passing and 4 TDs.  This is the first conference game loss for the Wolfpack who remain in contention for the ACC Atlantic Division title trailing only undefeated Wake Forest.

Wisconsin 30  #25Purdue 13:  The game was tied at 13 as the teams came out for the second half.  That is when the Badgers’ defense decided to pitch a shutout.

Seven of the Top 25 teams last week either lost outright or were most unimpressive in beating significantly lesser competition.  It makes one wonder about the validity of the rankings…

Moving on to Big -10 games from last weekend:

Michigan 33 Northwestern 7:  Michigan advances to 7-0.  The Wolverines rank #2 in the nation in scoring defense allowing only 14.3 points per game and they rank #11 in the nation in Total Defense allowing only 299 yards per game.  Michigan’s offense is no slouch either; they score an average of 37.7 points per game.  Last week, Michigan’s offense gained 457 yards and Michigan’s defense only allowed 233 yards.

Ohio State 54  Indiana 7:  The game was tied at 7-7 late in the first quarter; then the ass-kicking began.  The Buckeyes gained 559 yards on offense and held the Hoosiers to a mere 135 yards for the game.

For fans of ACC teams…

UVa 48  Ga Tech 40:  I said last week that there could be fireworks in this game; that was pretty much on point.  The teams combined to produce a total of 1206 yards of offense.  There were 59 first downs achieved in the game; the teams combined to go 13 for 24 on third-down tries – – whenever one of the defenses managed to create a third-down situation.

Pitt 27  Clemson 17:  Clemson’s offensive ineptitude was on display again here.  The Tigers gained only 309 yards  of offense for the day and 80 of those yards (more than 25 % of the game output) came on a single drive for a TD in the first quarter.  Pitt converted 11 of 19 third-down tries in the game.  The Panthers remain unbeaten in ACC games (and 6-1 overall) with this win.  Clemson has now lost twice in ACC games meaning they are really longshots to make it to the top of the ACC Atlantic Division this year.

Syracuse 41  VA Tech 36:  As the score indicates, there was plenty of offense in this game.  Syracuse amassed 545 yards and Tech gained 437 yards.  Tech led 36-27 with five-and-a-half minutes left in the game.  Syracuse got a TD on a short drive to narrow the margin to 36-33; then the Syracuse defense held and gave the ball to the offense at their own 30 yardline with just over a minute left to play.  Forty-five seconds later Syracuse scored the winning TD.  In my preseason essay on college football this year, I said that Va Tech coach, Justin Fuente, was probably on a warm seat that could get hot with some bad losses – – like this one…

Florida St. 59  UMass 3:  This is the kind of shellacking that the coaching staff at Florida St. needed to lay on such a mismatched opponent.  The Seminoles gained 586 yards on offense; the Minutemen managed only 241 yards.

Wake Forest 70  Army 56:  Wake gained 638 yards on offense; 458 of those yards came through the air.  Impressive.  Wake allowed Army to gain 599 yards of offense; 420 of those yards came on the ground.  Unimpressive.  The Wake Forest defenders need to say, “Thank you!” to the offensive guys this week; usually when you give up 8 TDs in a game, you lose that game…  Wake is still undefeated.

There were no Big-12 games of note other than the ones cited above as unimpressive performances, so let me move on to the SEC…

Texas A&M 44  South Carolina 14:  This game was 41-0 at the end of the third quarter.  South Carolina only produced 185 yards on offense for the day.

Alabama 52  Tennessee 24:  This game was close with 14 minutes left to play; the score then was 31-24.  From that point on, the Alabama defense asserted itself with an INT that led to a short-field TD and then forcing a turnover on downs allowing Bama to make this look more like a blowout than it was for most of the game.

Mississippi St. 45  Vandy 6:  Mississippi St. gained 522 yards on offense here; Vandy gained 145 yards.  It is not news when a Mike Leach team gains 461 yards passing; it is news when a Mike Leach team holds an opponent to 6 yards rushing for an entire game.

Ole Miss 31  LSU 17:  The Total Line for this game was 76.  Two weeks ago, the Total Line for an Ole Miss game was 83.  Neither game came close to threatening the Total Line even though Ole Miss won both games.  Maybe it is time to recognize that Ole Miss can win games without scoring 50 points?

In games involving teams from the PAC-12…

Washington 21  Arizona 16:  Arizona remains winless for 2021.

BYU 21  Washington St. 19:  I wondered last week how the Washington St. team might react to the firing of its head coach and 4 assistant coaches.  BYU is a quality opponent and Washington St. played  them tit for tat.  A missed PAT in the third quarter by Washington St. and a failed 2-point conversion to make up for that miss provided the margin of victory here.  BYU RB, Tyler Allgeier gained 191 yards on 32 carries and scored 2 TDs in the game.

Oregon 34  UCLA 31:  UCLA rallied from a 34-17 deficit in the 4th quarter to make this a one-possession game.  However, the final UCLA drive ended in INT with about 45 seconds left on the clock.  The PAC-12 conference race is very fluid at the moment.  There are no teams that are undefeated in conference games.  In the North division, Oregon and Oregon St. each have one conference loss.  In the South division, Arizona St. and Utah each have one conference loss.

Oregon St.  42  Utah 34:   Neither team is noted for its offense but both teams found ways to gain over 450 yards in this game.  A blocked punt returned for a TD by Oregon St. provided the margin of victory.

Notre Dame 31  USC 16:  The Irish led 24-3 after three quarters; the stat sheet says it should have been much closer than it was because USC outgained Notre Dame on offense by 45 yards.  The Irish benefited from 9 penalties (5 of those penalties produced first downs for Notre Dame) and they converted 8 of 12 third-down tries in the game.

In miscellaneous games…

UTSA 45  La-Tech 16:  UTSA remains unbeaten for 2021.  On the stat sheet this game should have been a nail-biter; each team gained 401 yards of offense; three turnovers by La-Tech provided the difference in the game.

San Diego St. 20  Air Force 14:  San Diego St. remains unbeaten.  This was a defensive game from start to finish; the Aztecs gained only 229 yards and won the game.  Air Force led the nation in rushing coming into the game and was limited to 192 yards on 49 attempts.  This was the second conference loss for Air Force; they trail Utah St. in the standings and one of the losses for the year was to Utah St.

SMU 55  Tulane 26:  The Mustangs maintain a patina of relevancy.

San Jose St. 27  UNLV 20:  UNLV remains winless for 2021.

Hawaii 48  New Mexico St. 34:  The Aggies are 1-7 for the season and the reason is their defense.  Only once have they held a team below 30 points this year – – and they gave up 28 in that game.  Even in their win over Division 1-AA South Carolina State, they gave up 35 points.


College Football Games of Interest:


Iowa at Wisconsin – 3 (36.5):  Neither team is great on offense; Iowa ranks 74th in the country in scoring offense and Wisconsin ranks 110th.  Both teams play well on defense; Iowa ranks 4th in the country in scoring defense and Wisconsin ranks 17th.  I agree this will be a defensive contest, but I am still stunned at how low that Total Line is for the game.  The betting action and the polls are in conflict for this game.  Wisconsin is the favorite but is unranked; Iowa is ranked in the Top 10.  Interesting…

Duke at Wake Forest – 16 (70):  Duke gives up 31.6 points per game; Wake Forest scores 43.1 points per game.  This should not be close…

Michigan – 4 at Michigan St. (51.5):  Both teams are undefeated as of today; that will change tomorrow.  Both teams rank in the Top 20 in scoring defense.  I will anoint this as the College Football Game of the Week.  I see this as a defensive game, so I’ll take it to say UNDER the Total Line; put it in the Six-Pack

BC at Syracuse – 7 (51):  The spread opened at only 4 points and has climbed steadily throughout the week.

Iowa St. – 7 at W. Virginia (47):  An important Big-12 conference game for the Cyclones…

Miami at Pitt – 9 (62):  This is a big game for Pitt and the spread opened at 12 points and has been dropping steadily.  Historically, Pitt teams lose about a game a year to an opponent they ought to beat.  Is this one of those games?

Rutgers – 1.5 at Illinois (42):  Two lesser lights in the Big-10 should put on an entertaining game…

Va. Tech at Ga. Tech – 4 (55):  This could be a big game for Va. Tech coach Justin Fuente (see above)

Florida St at Clemson – 9 (48):  Clemson only scores 20 points per game so that line looks fat at first.  Then you look at the Clemson defense and see that it only allows 14.6 points per game, and you wonder if the Seminoles can actually hit the end zone twice.  This is a big test for Florida St. who arrive on a 3-game winning streak; this is also a big test for the offensively challenged Clemson offense.  I think that line is indeed fat; I’ll take the Seminoles plus the points because I don’t like Clemson to score that much; put it in the Six-Pack.

UMass at Liberty – 36 (57.5):  The last time Liberty had a line like this, they were 33-point favorites over La-Monroe – – and then Liberty lost that game outright.  I can only find one Internet sportsbooks with a Money Line for this game – – in case you think lightening will strike twice:

  • UMass is at +8,500
  • Liberty is at minus-23,500
  • Good luck…

North Texas at Rice – 3 (56):  Rice has won 3 of its last 4 games – – in case you had not noticed…

UCLA at Utah – 6.5 (60.5):  This is an important PAC-12 game for both teams.  Utah shares the lead in its division with Arizona St and each has one in-conference loss; UCLA has two in-conference losses so another one would probably end their hopes for a chance to play in the conference championship game.

Washington St. at Arizona St. – 16 (53):  The same situation as in the UCLA/Utah game applies here.  Arizona St. is tied for the lead with Utah in the South Division and Washington St has two losses already and could become irrelevant in the North Division if they lose here.

Oregon St. – 1 at Cal (55):  The Beavers are tied with Oregon for the PAC-12 North lead and Cal is at the bottom of that division with 3 in-conference losses already.  I am surprised to see the spread as small as it is.

Colorado at Oregon – 24 (49):  This should not be a nail-biter…

Purdue at Nebraska – 7.5 (53.5):  The Total Line opened the week at 49 points and has risen steadily as the days went by.

Kentucky – 1 at Mississippi St. (47):  The oddsmakers obviously believe Kentucky’s defense can control the Bulldogs’ Air Raid offense.

Texas Tech at Oklahoma – 20 (66):  An interesting way to start for the interim head coach at Tech…

Penn St. at Ohio St. – 19 (62):  In some seasons, this would clearly be the Game of the Week; but in 2021, it is not even the Big-10 Game of the Week when compared to Michigan/Michigan St.

SMU at Houston -1 (62):  The Mustangs have not lost yet…

Texas at Baylor – 3 (61):  Baylor has only one conference loss so far; they need to win here to stay within hailing distance of Oklahoma.

Ole Miss at Auburn – 3 (66):  Each team has only 1 loss in conference, so this is an important game for both sides.  The Ole Miss path to the SEC Championship game is to win out and root for Auburn to beat Alabama in the Iron Bowl later.  Auburn needs to win out to get to that game.  I think Ole Miss is the better team here and ought to win the game outright; I’ll take the Rebels plus the points on the road; put it in the Six Pack.

Georgia – 14 vs. Florida (51):  Many is the year when this game would be the Game of the Week…

Cincy – 26 at Tulane (62):  The Bearcats need to win impressively this week; they were disappointing last week (see above).

UNC at Notre Dame – 4 (62):  Back in August, this was a game I had highlighted on the schedule.  Then they started playing the games for real…

Fresno St. at San Diego St. “pick ‘em” (45):  San Diego St. is undefeated this year; Fresno St is in the same Mountain West Division with the Aztecs and Fresno St. has only one loss in conference.  The Mountain West may not be the football equivalent of some other conferences, but this is a big game for Mountain West fans.


NFL Commentary:


The NFL trade deadline is next Tuesday afternoon, and it cannot get here fast enough.  Once it has come and gone, we can be freed from any more reports such as these:

  • Will Deshaun Watson be traded?
  • Where will Deshaun Watson be traded?
  • Will the NFL allow him to play if and when he is traded?

In addition, we can stop reading things like:

  • Five trades that contending teams need to make now
  • Will the Jackasses be sellers or buyers this year?
  • Six players who can benefit from a change of scenery

Enough already…

Two weeks ago, there were a bunch of blowout games; last week there were enough blowout games that makes me begin to wonder if the NFL is tilting away from parity more significantly than usual.  There are always dominant teams and bottom-feeders in every season but in the NFL there always tended to be a solid middle-class of teams that were good enough to keep many of the games close.  In fact, it is that strong middle class of teams that allows the NFL to carry on with its mantra of

  • On any given Sunday …   [Read with the intonation of John Facenda!]

It is difficult to put a lot of faith in the “Any given Sunday” proposition when 30% of the games are decided by three scores or more.  I hope the results of the last two weeks do not portend the separation in the NFL between a bunch of really good teams and a bunch of really bad teams.  That would not be a positive evolutionary step for the league.  The presence of 4 games with double-digit spreads on the card for this week is not a good sign.

Here are the six blowout games from last week; there were only 13 games on the card…

Bengals 41  Ravens 17:  This puts the Bengals in first place in the AFC North and it happened in Baltimore.   The game was close at halftime with the Bengals leading 13-10, but the second half was a totally different story.  Yes, Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase are excellent (Chase had 201 yards receiving in this game) but do not give short shrift to the Bengals’ defense.  They are also playing excellent football; they only give up 18.3 points per game.

Giants 25  Panthers 3:  Sam Darnold has really come back to Earth after a big start to 2021 in a new environment.  Last week, he was miserable throwing for only 111 yards on 25 pass attempts and tossing in an INT just for good measure.  But wait, there’s more…  He was also called for intentional grounding in the end zone – – so he yielded a safety too.  The Panthers were not able to run the ball either (56 yards on 17 carries) so it was not a pretty afternoon for Panthers fans or backers.  The Giants played opportunistic football scoring 25 points but only gaining 309 yards on the day.  The Giants’ defense dominated this game registering 5 sacks and holding the Panthers to less than 200 yards offense.

Pats 54  Jets 13:  The Pats racked up 551 yards on offense and here are the results of the Pats’ 11 possessions in the game:

  1. TD
  2. TD
  3. Field Goal
  4. TD
  5. TD
  6. Field Goal
  7. Punt
  8. TD
  9. TD
  10. TD
  11. Kneel out the clock

Jets’ QB, Zach Wilson injured his knee in the first half and did not return to this game to take a pounding.  That may have been a blessing in disguise for him and for the team in the future.

Titans 27  Chiefs 3:  I’ll say it now;

  • If the Chiefs do not improve significantly starting immediately, they are not going to make the playoffs.

I know that Patrick Mahomes had to be removed from the game, but that is not why the Titans prevailed.  The Titans had the ball for more than 36 minutes last week and converted on 8 of 12 third down tries.  The Titans’ defense limited the Chiefs passing game to only 4.7 yards per pass such that the Titans had more passing yards for the game than did the Chiefs.  Looking at the replay of the game, the Titans just pushed people around for most of the day.

Cardinals 31  Texans 5:  Do not pin this loss on the Texans’ defense.  They recorded a safety, created an INT and sacked Kyler Murray 4 times.  This loss belongs on the offense’s ledger.  Here are some sorry-assed numbers for the game:

  • Texans had 160 yards total offense
  • Texans recorded 8 first downs
  • Texans were 2 for 13 on third down conversions
  • Texans were 0 for 2 on fourth down conversions
  • Texans never got into the Red Zone.

Bucs 38   Bears 3:  It was 35-3 at halftime and the Bucs called off the dogs.  The Bears turned the ball over 5 times and went 2 for 11 on third down tries.   This was the late afternoon game in my viewing area; I basically gave up on it at halftime and paid attention to other things in my life.

It is hard to believe that any of those games were fun to watch – – even for fans of the winning sides.  And for the NFL where parity has become commonplace, it is hard to believe that I have put games with 14-point victories in the category of “non-blowouts.”  Here are the rest of the games from last weekend…

Packers 24  Football Team 10:  The Football team won the stat sheet – – because the stat sheet does not itemize the plays that created the outcome.  The Football Team had 430 yards on offense to only 304 yards for the Packers and the Football Team never punted the ball over the entire game.  Normally, those stat sheet entries point to the winning team but not last week.  Here is what the Packers did to win the game:

  • Washington got to the Red Zone 4 times and scored 0 TDs.
  • Washington turned the ball over twice.
  • Washington failed on fourth-down tries 4 times out of 5 attempts.

The “good news” for the Football Team is that this was not another game that the defense lost.  This time it was the offense that botched things.

Colts 30  Niners 18:  The Niners specialized in committing defensive pass interference penalties – – and I do not mean to imply that any of the calls were borderline.  At one point, the Colts had gained more yards on 3 long defensive pass interference calls than they had gained on offense by themselves.  For the night, the Niners committed 7 penalties for a total of 122 yards.  Add 4 turnovers to the Niners side of the ledger and you can see how this game ended the way it did.

Falcons 30  Dolphins 28:  Finally, we come to a game decided in the last minute.  It is not too often that a game summary for the Falcons includes plaudits for their defense – – but two INTs  by the defense came at convenient times to keep this game close until the final drive when Matt Ryan – – with the help of a great catch by Kyle Pitts – – set the Falcons up for a winning field goal with no time left on the clock.  Tip your hat to the Falcons’ special teams too; they blocked a kick in the game and that turned into a TD by the offense.

Raiders 33  Eagles 22:  The Eagles led the game 7-0 after the first possession of the game; by the next time they scored, the score was 30-7 in favor of the Raiders and there was only 11:41 left in the fourth quarter.  This was an ineffective and unorganized showing by the Eagles.  Jalen Hurts was only 18 of 34 for the day and the Eagles managed to lose two fumbles in the game.  Derek Carr had a monster game here with this stat line:

  • 31 of 34 for 323 yards with 2 TDs and 1 INT

Rams 29  Lions 19:  The Lions took a 10-0 lead in the game and seemed as if they might pull a massive upset.  They outgained the Rams on offense and the Lions’ defense held the Rams’ running game to 47 yards on 19 carries.  However, the Lions did turn the ball over twice and the Lions did allow the Rams to convert 9 of 13 third down plays.  It was not a “statement win” for the Rams but it might be a statement loss for the Lions who did gain 415 yards on offense for the day – – and still lost.

Saints 13  Seahawks 10:    Both starting QBs did their best to try to give this game away; Geno Smith got the job done.  The two teams combined to go 5 for 25 on third down conversions; total offense for both teams was only 523 yards – – about what the Bengals totaled by themselves in their win over the Ravens.  DJ Metcalf caught an 84-yard TD pass in the first quarter to put the Seahawks on top 7-0; for the rest of the game, he caught 1 pass for 12 yards.  Was that dumb play calling or dumb execution?


NFL Games:


There are only two teams on their BYE Week:

  • The Raiders can enjoy their two-game winning streak under interim coach Rich Bisaccia.
  • The Ravens can lick their wounds after the beating they took last week at the hands of the Bengals.

Naturally, I watched last night’s Packers/Cardinals game; it was a great game; both teams played well on defense and the game was decided by an INT with about 15 seconds left in the game.  The Packers played without two of their top receivers; no problem; the Packers ran the ball for 151 yards on 34 carries.  For the Cards, JJ Watt did not play, and DeAndre Hopkins was probably only on the field for a half-dozen plays due to injury.

The stat sheet for the game was dead even; the Packers gained 335 yards as compared to the Cards’ output of 334 yards.  The biggest difference was in time of possession; the Packers had the ball for 37:35 due mainly to their success in running the ball.  Three turnovers by the Cards – including the INT that sealed the game for the Packers – did not help the Cards’ cause even a little bit.

The Packers now hold the tiebreaker over the Cards should that come into play for seeding in the NFC playoffs.  However, the Packers’ schedule from here on out is not particularly soft.  They are on the road in KC next week and still have games against the Rams, Ravens and Browns plus two against the Vikes.  But for now, the Packers sit atop the NFC.

Dolphins at Bills – 14 (49):  The Bills are clearly the better team here and they are coming off their BYE Week; the Dolphins have lost 6 in a row after winning in Week 1.  In the first meeting of these two teams this season, the Bills dominated to the tune of 35-0.  It will be closer than that this time – – but still not close.

Panthers at Falcons – 3 (47):  The Panthers started the season with three wins and have lost their last 4 in a row.  The Falcons are on a 2-game win streak.  Matt Ryan is clearly the better QB in the game; the Panthers’ defense is the better defense in the game (third in the league in Total Defense).  The loser of this game will see its relevance diminished regarding playoff potential.

Eagles – 3.5 at Lions (48):  This is the Dog-Breath Game of the Week.  The Lions are winless for a reason; they are not a good football team.  The Eagles have won twice but that masquerades the fact that the Eagles too are not a good football team.  Both teams could wind up drafting in the Top 5 in next year’s NFL Draft.  If the Lions lose here, their schedule takes a turn for the worse:

  • At Steelers
  • At Browns
  • Vs. Bears (Thanksgiving Day Game)
  • Vs. Vikes
  • At Broncos
  • Vs. Cardinals
  • At Falcons
  • At Seahawks
  • Vs. Packers

Perhaps, the Lions will be favored on Thanksgiving Day at home; but other than that, they should be the underdog in every other contest all the way through to January 9th.

Looking at the rest of the Eagles schedule they have a game against the Jets that should be winnable, and they have two games against the Giants and another two games against the Football Team that might produce a win or two – – or not.

Titans at Colts – 2.5 (51):  At the beginning of the week, the Titans were favored by 1 point in the game and the Total Line was down at 47 points.  That is a lot of line movement for a single game. The Titans lead the AFC South at 5-2; the Colts are second at 3-4.  This is a big deal game for the Colts because a win would put them only a game out of first place and it would keep them in wildcard contention in the event they never do catch the Titans.  It is a big deal for the Titans as well since a win would give them a 3-game lead in the division with half the season in the books and it would give them 2 wins over the Colts in 2021.  For these reasons, this is my Game of the WeekThe Colts have played well the past couple of weeks, but the Titans are really on a roll; I like the Titans to win outright so I will take them plus the points on the road; put it in the Six-Pack.

Rams – 14.5 at Texans (48):  The Rams got a soft spot from the schedule maker playing the Lions last week and the Texans this week.  The Texans have the worst point differential in the NFL at minus-106 points.

Bengals – 10.5 at Jets (42):  This line tells me that bettors are worried about a let-down game from the Bengals this week after clobbering the Ravens last week.  Clearly, the Jets are not in the same category as the Ravens.  It will be interesting to see how the Bengals play in this circumstance; most of these players have never been in a similar setting.  With Zach Wilson injured, the Jets will have Mike White at QB with recently acquired Joe Flacco as the backup.  This could get ugly quickly.

Steelers at Browns – 4 (42.5):  Case Keenum should start in place of Baker Mayfield here; normally, that would be a disqualifying mark against the Browns.  However, the Browns’ defense is good against the run (second in the NFL) and if they can shut down Najee Harris, they will take away a major component of the Steelers’ offense.  This will not be an artistic event by any means, but it is one of the better games to watch in the early afternoon time slot.

Niners – 4 at Bears (39.5):  This game got serious consideration as the Dog-Breath Game of the Week.  Neither team is getting quality play at the QB position; that was to be expected for the Bears as they sought to develop Justin Fields into an NFL QB.  That was not supposed to be the case for the Niners who had to expect more productive play from Jimmy Garoppolo than they have gotten.  The Bears are 3-4 and two of those three wins came at the expense of the Bengals and the Raiders – – two division leading teams.

Jags at Seahawks – 3 (44):  The Jags had a BYE Week last week to bathe in the glory of a win over the Dolphins two weeks ago.  Now they must go to Seattle which is not quite as long a journey as the one to London.  The Seahawks have been uncharacteristically bad at home this year losing all three games played there.  In “normal times”, the Seahawks can rely on the fact that they are sure to get competent play from the QB position; with Russell Wilson on the sidelines, that is no longer a guarantee.  This was my runner-up for the Dog-Breath Game of the Week.

Pats at Chargers – 4 (49.5):  The Chargers opened the week as 6-point favorites, and that number has dwindled slowly downward all week long.  The Chargers had a BYE Week last week to prepare for this game; the Pats had a monster game against the Jets (see above); they will not match that kind of offensive output against a decent Chargers’ defense.

Football Team at Broncos – 3 (44): Washington’s defense played its best game of the year last week; it did not produce a win, but there was clear improvement.  The Denver defense is injured, and the Broncos are a team that relies on its defense to keep games close.  I think the wrong team is favored here; I like the Football Team on the road plus the points; put it in the Six-Pack.

Bucs – 4.5 at Saints (50):  This is a big game for both teams in the NFC South race.  For me, Saints’ games are “unpickable” because there is no way to know which version of Jameis Winston will show up and play.  He might throw 5 TDs in a game – – or he might throw 5 INTs.  It makes a difference.  A win for the Bucs here would put them two up in the loss column versus the Saints.

(Sun Nite) Cowboys – 1.5 at Vikes (55):  This spread for this game is all over the place; I found it as a “pick ‘em” game at one sportsbook and at 2.5 points at another sportsbook.  The line cited here is the most common one.  Both teams had a BYE Week last week; this was my runner-up for Game of the Week

(Mon Nite) Giants at Chiefs – 9.5 (52):  One Internet sportsbook opened this game with a spread of 13 points; everyone else had the game at 10 or 10.5 points; it did not take long for the lines to level out across the sportsbooks.  This is a big game for the Chiefs who have not looked like a playoff team for the last several weeks.  Given the urgency for the Chiefs plus the fact that the Giants are not very good, I like the Chiefs to win big here; I’ll take the Chiefs and lay a whole lot of points; put it in the Six-Pack.

So, let me review the Six-Pack and give you a bonus selection for the week:

  • Michigan/Michigan St. UNDER 51.5
  • Ole Miss +3 against Auburn
  • Florida St. + 9 against Clemson
  • Titans +2.5 against Colts
  • Football Team + 3 against Broncos
  • Chiefs – 9.5 over Giants.


BONUS SELECTION:  A three team Money Line parlay where all three teams are small underdogs:

  • Titans at +120
  • Football Team at +150
  • Ole Miss at +130
  • Parlay odds pay out at +234  (if I did the math correctly)

[EDIT:  I did the math wrong.  The parlay odds pay out would be +1165.  I was very sloppy.  sorry.  Thanks to the reader in Houston for the correction.]

Finally, let me close with this item by Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:

“Browns sack-master Myles Garrett has decorated his front yard for Halloween with tombstones featuring the name and jersey number of opposing quarterbacks.

“What’s he handing out this year, Nestle Crunch?”

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



Such A Headache…

I really do not mean to harp on the subject of the leaked emails related to the investigation of the Washington Football Team’s sexual harassment situation in its Front Office, but the story will not go away.  Yesterday, Roger Goodell said that the NFL was not the source of the leak; this morning there is a report in the Washington Post that says Tanya Snyder – – the co-CEO of the team and nominally the one running the show over the past several months – – told the other owners at their meeting that the Washington Football Team is not the source of the leaked emails.

Naturally, proclamations of that sort draw attention and encourage others to try to “unravel the mystery” as to “who dunnit.”  Let me try to frame the mystery here.

  • We can be confident in saying that there are three definite residences for that trove of emails.  The WFT has them, the NFL has them and the investigator(s) led by Beth Wilkinson has them.  However, it is not possible to say that within those three entities there is only one copy or that portions of the complete inventory are not held by multiple individuals.
  • Moreover, “heavily redacted” copies of some of the leaked emails were entered into evidence in a Federal Court by lawyers representing Danny Boy Snyder several months ago.  That fact alone says that there are other potential sources for leakage.

Therefore, Roger Goodell can only say with certainty that no one in the NFL to his knowledge is the source of the leaked emails and Tanya Snyder can only say the same thing about the WFT as the source of the leaks.  Unfortunately, that is about as far as I can go with deductive reasoning in this matter because once I get to the point where the possibility of multiple copies exists, there is no way to deduce how many there are or where they are.  So, off I go into the realm of speculation…

Just to be clear, I am not someone who is prone to conspiracy theories.

  • I do not believe in the world domination of the Trilateral Commission nor in the puppet string manipulations by the Elders of Zion.
  • There are no microchips in COVID-19 vaccinations.
  • There are no biological agents in “chemtrails”.
  • The Bermuda Triangle is bunk.
  • Fluoridation of water supplies is not a Communist plot to undermine the health of Americans.
  • Climate change is real.

The leaked emails in this matter injured one party directly and two parties tangentially.  Jon Gruden lost his job as the head coach of the Raiders and reports said that his contract called for him to make another $65M over the next six and a half years.  So, it would be reasonable to start by asking who might want to injure Jon Gruden in this way.  After ruminating on that for a moment, I come up with nothing and that leads me to the next step in my speculation here that Jon Gruden is “collateral damage” in this matter and not the target of the leaked emails.

The other two individuals who are tangentially damaged are Bruce Allen and Jeff Pash.  [Pash is the NFL general counsel and an executive VP of the league; he and Allen shared more than a few emails.]  So, who might have issues with either of those parties?  I mentioned above that some “heavily redacted” emails were submitted to a Federal Court by lawyers representing Daniel Snyder.  That submission was an attempt by Snyder’s lawyers to get the court to order discovery procedures involving Bruce Allen as part of a larger action Snyder filed against a New Delhi media outlet for defamation of character because the outlet asserted some sort of connection between Snyder and Jeffrey Epstein and sex-trafficking.

As the senior legal officer inside the NFL, it is reasonable to assume that he had knowledge of Ms. Wilkinson’s investigation and probably has been directly involved in any decision processes involving the assertion of confidentiality granted to those who came forward in that investigation.  I can imagine multiple scenarios where a variety of folks might have an issue with some position that Pash has taken in the past.  It is the multiplicity of those scenarios that makes me stop and recognize that all of this is speculation and cannot lead to any sort of conclusion I might reach with any confidence.

The fact that Allen as a team president was in email contact with Pash seems like a logical connection to make.  The fact that Gruden was with ESPN at the time of the email exchanges with Allen is not nearly as “natural” a happenstance.  But it is not necessarily nefarious either.  Here is something that makes me wonder:

  • Were there other WFT officials who were corresponding via email with parties outside the team?  I have to think that is the case.
  • So, why have only messages involving Allen been leaked?  Everyone else was as pure and the driven snow?
  • This whole thing makes my teeth itch.

So, my plan now is to try to let this issue recede into memory – – assuming there is not another data dump later this week.  I will certainly look forward to the outcome(s) of the Congressional intervention into this matter; if they hold hearings on this and put those hearings on TV, I will await the SNL re-enactment of those hearings.  I will try to ignore the carefully worded statements issued by the NFL or the lawyers representing the women who were subjected to sexual harassment or the NFLPA or …

Finally, to end on a much lighter note than what is above, here is a Tweet recently from Brad Dickson formerly with the Omaha World -Herald:

“Nestle is recalling 28,000 lbs of DiGiorno Crispy Pan Crust Pepperoni Pizzas. What happened – did something healthy fall into the mix?”

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



The World Series Has Begun

Well, the World Series started off with a bang last night; the first batter in the first inning knocked the ball out of the park.  A baseball historian found that this was the first time in the history of the World Series that had happened.  For the visiting Atlanta Braves, the hits just kept on coming and the Braves won the first game by a score of 6-2.

I think the most amazing happening of the game was the performance of Braves’ pitcher Charlie Morton.  In the second inning, a line drive hit him on the leg.  He struck out the next batter and then got another out to end the inning.  He came out for the third inning and struck out the first batter; then he walked off the mound and the field with a trainer because – – the line drive that hit him in the previous inning had broken his leg and he could no longer put weight on it.  However, he did get three batters out after his leg broke.

The win flips “home field advantage” from the Astros to the Braves and the Braves will start Max Fried in Game 2.  The Braves won 10 of Fried’s last 11 starts in the regular season; this could be a pivotal game in the Series.

The only negative thing about last night’s game – – other than Morton’s broken leg of course – – is that the game took just over 4 hours to play.  Fortunately, the ball was in play enough to maintain interest and consciousness throughout.

With regard to another MLB issue, there seems only to be negative news.  The existing CBA between MLB and the MLBPA will expire in early December and every report that I read says that a lockout/strike/work stoppage/ call-it-what-you-want is “inevitable”.  If those prognostications are correct, here is what that means:

  • For most of the “Hot Stove League” there will be no news of free agent signings or trades.
  • For most of the “Hot Stove League” baseball news will be PR crafted statements by the negotiating teams along with reports of the “sticking points” in the talks.
  • There will be speculative pieces on the likelihood of both sides reaching an agreement by the time pitchers and catchers normally report to Spring Training.

The Bottom Line is that all this will damage baseball.  This is not the kind of news that baseball fans want to hear and read about in the winter.  What they do want to hear and read about are trades and free agent signings that lead to anticipation of Spring Training and next year’s regular season.  I do not dislike either Rob Manfred or Tony Clark when I say that I would be more than happy to hear from them exactly one time between now and mid-February when Spring Training camps open as usual.  That single appearance from them would be to announce a new CBA that both sides are pleased-as-punch about.  I do not think there is much of a chance that I will get my wish here…

Moving on…  Yesterday, I wrote about some Congressional grandstanding that seeks to obtain and reveal information gathered by the NFL investigation into sexual harassment within the Front Office of the Washington Football Team.  The team owners are meeting and there was another grandstanding event yesterday.  One of the accusers/victims of the sexual harassment happenings hand-delivered a letter to Roger Goodell asking that he make the evidence gathered open and available.  She had to know that was not going to happen yesterday, but it did present a photo-op and it did get the story back in the papers again this morning.  Here is what The Commish had to say about what was discussed in yesterday’s meeting:

“We feel that this is the appropriate way to do it [inform other owners of the investigation and the aftermath].  We summarized the findings of [the investigation] and made it very clear that the workplace environment of the Washington Football Team was not what we expected in the NFL and then held them accountable.  But more importantly, steps were put in place to make sure that it does not happen again.”

Since I do not know what the findings of the investigation process were, I have no way to begin to know if the people involved with the Washington Front Office at the time of the harassment behaviors were held sufficiently accountable.  Goodell seems to think that levying a “record fine” of $10M on the team is part of having held the team accountable.  But let me put that in perspective here since Forbes estimates the value of the franchise in 2021 at $4.2B:

  • Imagine that you had a bank account with $100,000 in it.  That is an asset.
  • Now, imagine that you did something wrong, and someone levied a fine against you such that you had to tap into that bank account.
  • If you were fined an amount such that your bank account suffered the same depletion as the $10M fine did for the Washington Football team,  you would owe someone the grand sum of $238.10.
  • Your remaining balance would be only $99,761.90.

Putting aside the math exercise above, I have a much more fundamental problem with Goodell’s statement.  He said – I am not inferring anything here – that the league put steps in place to make sure this does not happen again.  Really?  What are they?  You should be proud to let everyone know how you prevented that kind of situation from happening somewhere else in the future.

Obviously, one good reason not to offer any specifics or any transparency here is that there are no such steps that might make sure this does not happen again.

Finally, since the events pertaining to the NFL happened at a meeting of the owners, let me close with this definition from The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm:

Meeting:  A business term meaning, ‘officially sanctioned waste of time.’”

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



Good News/BadNews

I have some good NFL news today and some bad NFL news.  The good news is that the so-called Manning-cast was back on Monday Night Football last night and it was just a lot of fun.  Two of the guests were Tom Brady and Drew Brees; you can learn a lot about the mental and the mechanical aspects of football and quarterbacking from those four gentlemen, and you can enjoy watching them just goof around with one another.  I do not know what ESPN is paying those guys for this season – – but it isn’t enough.

Now for the bad news…  We’ve known about the alleged “toxic work culture” that evidently existed in the Washington Front Office for about a decade and the “investigation” into multiple allegations of sexual harassment that resulted in no written report to the league.  Then some of the emails that were collected as a result of that “investigation” were leaked and the “unacceptable content” in those emails caused the coach of the Las Vegas Raiders to be fired.  [Yes, I know; he resigned.]  Calls went out for the NFL to release the rest of those emails – the ones that were not leaked and the NFL has ignored all those calls claiming that they had assured everyone in the investigation of confidentiality.

[Aside:  The NFL mavens have also assured us that the rest of the emails have nothing to do with the allegations of sexual harassment.  If that is correct, then why would the pledge of confidentiality have any bearing on the bulk of those emails?  Enquiring minds want to know…]

So, how could that sordid mess get any worse?  Here’s how.  Late last week, two members of the US House of Representatives sent a 5-page letter to Commissioner Roger Goodell asking him to produce by November 4th the following:

“…all documents and communications obtained in connection with its investigation into the WFT, its management, its owners and any other matter relating to or resulting from the WFT investigation.”

One of the Representatives, Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) is the Chairwoman of the  House Committee on Oversight and Reform.  I am sure that committee has spent hours and hours over the course of its existence overseeing and reforming professional football so of course they will bring a wealth of expertise and experience to the clarification of this matter.  Perhaps, the reason for the lack of focus on overseeing/reforming professional football in the past has been that little thing we call the US Constitution.  Congress is established in Article 1 of the Constitution and Article 1 Section 8 sets out the kinds of legislative actions the Congress may take.  Maybe if you read that text VERY expansively, you might find a way to insert Congressional actions under the heading of laws:

“To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States and with the Indian tribes.”

I would like for the totality of that NFL investigation to come to light; however, I cannot bring myself to believe that Congressional grandstanding – – and that is what this is – – is going to make it happen.  If and when it does happen, it will come from within the NFL and not from the Congress.  Here is why I believe that to be the case:

  • Also, late last week, Jon Gruden issued a veiled comment to the effect that – eventually – the truth will come out.
  • Since the leak that has already happened included words to and from Gruden and his email account, I cannot read that to mean that “the truth” is that Gruden did not write those communiques and someone else did.
  • Ergo, what Gruden considers to be “the truth” must extend to content and evidence related to “other matters.”
  • Why will any revelations come from within the NFL?  For the same reason – – not yet clear what it was – – that these first emails leaked.  Remember, it is the NFL that is in possession of those emails not Joe Flabeetz and His Merry Men.  Someone in the NFL for reasons only known to him/her decided to leak the Gruden emails; that person or others with access to the bulk of the evidence collected now have the opportunity for fame and fortune as “whistleblowers”.

November 4th will come and go; the NFL is not going to deliver the evidence described by Rep. Maloney to her or anyone else on Capital Hill before that date.  And that leads to the bad news that this sordid mess will continue to be a news item until the next leak to the next set of reporters.

Once that November 4th “deadline” has passed, I would hope that everyone in the Congress would move on to deal with some problems facing the US that are squarely in the purview of the Congress’ legislative powers such as:

  • Immigration Reform
  • Tax Reform
  • Emergency Preparedness Improvements
  • Rising Crime Rates – – you get the idea.

Finally, since much of today’s rant dealt with things related to the US Congress, let me close with two famous observation about the Congress from the past:

“It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctively native American criminal class except Congress.”  [Mark Twain]

And …

“Congress consists of one-third, more or less, scoundrels; two-thirds, more or less, idiots; and three-thirds, more or less, poltroons.”  [H. L. Mencken]

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



Football Friday 10/22/21

I want to offer up today’s rant as an homage to the TV series M*A*S*H.  If you recall, the series took place in an Army field hospital in the Korean War; the unit to which Hawkeye and Hot Lips and Radar were assigned was the 4077th.  Here is the tie-in to today’s rant.

  • This is the 4077th daily rant that I have done since these things began appearing on the Internet in 2001.

There are lots of alliterative possibilities for Friday.

  • Falafel Friday sounds delicious.
  • Fiddling Friday would be important to violinists.
  • Fogy Friday would be a big deal at an assisted living center.

Here in Curmudgeon Central, we have our own version of an alliterative Friday; it is Football Friday.  And it traditionally begins with a review of last week’s Six-Pack:

  • College  =  2-1-0
  • NFL  =  1-2-0
  • Total  =  3-3-0

That brings the cumulative results for Six-Pack selections for the year to:

  • College  =  6-7-0
  • NFL  =  10-12-1
  • Total  =  16-19-1


College Football Commentary:


            The Linfield College Wildcats won handily last week beating Pacific (Ore) by a score of 52-23.  That extends the Wildcats’ season record to 5-0 and – – most importantly – – it assures the Wildcats of another winning season in football.  Division III teams such as Linfield play a regular season of 9 games; therefore 5 wins equals a winning season.  That extends the longest such winning streak that I have been able to find; it began in 1956 and if someone wants to quibble that Linfield did not have a winning season in 2020 because they did not play football in 2020, my response is to go suck a lemon.

This weekend, the Wildcats go on the road to Puyallup, WA to take on Pacific Lutheran in a Northwest Conference game.  The Lutes bring a record of 2-3 to the stadium but the matchup could be an interesting one:

  • Linfield’s offense averages 51 points per game.
  • Pacific Lutheran’s defense allows only 29 points per game.

Go Wildcats!

Just a quick look at the contenders for this year’s Brothel Defense Award – given to the team whose defense lets anyone and everyone score at will:

  • UMass gives up 41.5 points per game.
  • Kansas gives up 43.3 points per game.
  • Arkansas State gives up 46.7 points per game.

This is the 8th week of the college football season.  In Division 1-A, there are 130 teams; almost 10% of those teams remain unbeaten to date:

  1. Cincy
  2. Coastal Carolina
  3. Georgia
  4. Michigan
  5. Michigan St.
  6. Oklahoma
  7. Oklahoma St.
  8. San Diego St.
  9. SMU
  10. UTSA
  11. Wake Forest

From that list, Michigan and Michigan St. will meet and delete one entry from this list.  The same goes for Cincy/SMU and for Oklahoma/Oklahoma St.

Looking through the other end of the telescope, there are only 2 division 1-A football teams that have yet to win a game in 2021:

  1. Arizona
  2. UNLV

These teams will not meet on the field to remove one from the winless list – – but were the NCAA takes up my idea of a SHOE Tournament to find the nation’s worst team in 2021, that pairing could become a reality.  Just saying…

Before I get to the random listing of results from last week’s games, let me pull three games out of the pile for specific commentary:

Georgia 30  Kentucky 13:  I saw the highlights of this game well after the fact.  Georgia’s run defense was stifling; Kentucky ran the ball 27 times for 51 yards.  Theoretically, this was still a game at halftime with the Bulldogs leading by only 14-7 but then – unfortunately for Kentucky – they played the second half too.  The game was not quite as close as the score would indicate; Kentucky scored a TD with 4 seconds left in the game to edge their way into double-digits.

But that is not what I think is important about the game.  All of the polls had Georgia as the #1 team in the country; most polls had Kentucky ranked somewhere between #10 and #12.  Now, if the polls and the people who do the rankings that make up the polls have any degree of accuracy in their data, one should expect Kentucky to have come out of that game on the short end of the score.  And indeed, Kentucky did.  No surprises there.  So, riddle me this:

  • Why do those same polls and ranking now have Kentucky down at #16 thru #19? 

Yes, they lost a game, but it was a game that they should have lost if there is any validity to last week’s rankings.

South Carolina 21  Vandy 20:  Vandy was outgained on the field but forced 4 turnovers in the game such that the Commodores held the lead at  20-14 with a minute-and-a-half left in the game.  South Carolina took possession at their own 25 and marched 75 yards in 8 plays to take the lead 21-20.  Vandy still had more than a half-minute on the clock but on the first play of that final possession, the QB fumbled the snap and South Carolina recovered.  Ball Game!!

The point here is that Vandy seems to combine two disadvantageous elements in its football program.

  1. On most weekends in most seasons, Vandy’s opponents have better athletes on the field than Vandy does.
  2. Often when Vandy keeps a game close and has a legitimate chance at winning, the football gods seem to enjoy pulling the rug out from under the team.

UTEP 19  LaTech 3:  What makes this game worthy of being separated from the pack of scores from last weekend is that it was the 6th win of the season for UTEP.  Let that sink in for a moment; the Miners are bowl eligible and there are two weekends left in October.  Here are the records for UTEP football in recent years:

  • 2017:  0-12-0
  • 2018:  1-11-0
  • 2019:  1-11-0
  • 2020:  3-5-0
  • Combined:  5-39-0

I am not ready to declare that UTEP is an emerging powerhouse in college football but having a record of 6-1 to start the 2021 season is a major change in the vector heading for the UTEP program.  On November 6th, UTEP will host undefeated UTSA in a game that is meaningful in C-USA; UTEP has not participated in many meaningful games in recent history.

Now let me get on with a review of last week’s action starting with ACC games…

Clemson 17  Syracuse 14:  Syracuse had a slight edge on the stat sheet, but it did not translate to a slight edge on the scoreboard.

UVa 48  Duke 0:  Let us hear it for the Duke defense once again in 2021.  Huzzah!

UNC 45  Miami 42:  The Hurricanes outgained the Tar Heels and held Heels’ QB Sam Howell to  all of 154 yards passing.  And yet, they lost.  Three INTs thrown by the ‘Canes and 9 penalties provided the impetus for the Heels to secure the win.

NC State 33  BC 7:  The halftime score was 10-7 but the Wolfpack blew things open with 21 points in the third quarter.

Pitt 28  Va Tech 7:  Pitt is now 5-1 for the season and is undefeated in ACC games; the Panthers lead the ACC Coastal Division at the moment.  Tech is 3-3 overall and 1-1 in conference games.  Pitt had 411 yards on offense and held the Hokies to only 224 yards; this was a decisive victory.

            Moving on to Big-10 Games…

Purdue 24  Iowa 7:  Last week I worried about the possibility of a let-down game for Iowa after their big win over Penn State two weeks ago.  Well, there it is.  Iowa had been winning with its defense in 2021; Purdue racked up 464 yards of offense.  Iowa’s offense had not been a strength this year; last week, it barely showed up gaining only 271 yards and turning the ball over 4 times (4 INTs).  With this win, the Boilermakers ran their record for the year to 4-2.

Northwestern 21 Rutgers 7:  OK, so Rutgers did not win the game as I had predicted in last week’s Six-Pack.  The surprise to me is that Rutgers was bullied by Northwestern.  The Scarlet Knights gained only 222 yards on offense on 66 plays; that is a meager 3.4 yards per offensive snap.  Add in 11 penalties on Rutgers and a turnover and you can see how the score wound up as it did.

Michigan St 20  Indiana 15:  Sparty is now 7-0 heading into the meat of its schedule.  Here is the rest of the season for Michigan state:

  • Vs. Michigan (next week)’
  • At Purdue
  • Vs. Maryland
  • At Ohio State
  • Vs. Penn State

Indiana was ranked in the Top 20 in pre-season polls, but their record now stands at 2-4.  They will need to win 4 of their remaining 6 games to achieve bowl eligibility and the path to that bowl eligibility looks tricky for the Hoosiers:

  • Vs. Ohio State (this weekend)
  • At Maryland
  • At Michigan
  • Vs. Rutgers
  • Vs. Minnesota
  • At Purdue

Wisconsin 20  Army 14:  The nation’s best run defense was paired against the nation’s second-best run offense.  The defense prevailed.

And now for Big-12 games…

Oklahoma State 32  Texas 24:  Oklahoma State stays undefeated for 2010; that is the 3rd loss for the Longhorns.  Here is what I think is the most important takeaway from this game:

  • No matter what the fanboys in Austin would have you believe, Texas is not “back” in the ranks of top-shelf college football as it has not been “back” in any of the past 3 or 4 seasons.  Those Longhorn proclamations are becoming tiresome.

At the same time, this win by Oklahoma State puts the Cowboys in a position to win the Big-12.  The other unbeaten Big-12 team is Oklahoma and the Cowboys will take on the Sooners in Stillwater, OK on November 27th.

Baylor 38  BYU 24:  Baylor runs its record to 6-1 while BYU drops to 4-2.  Baylor remains potentially relevant in the Big-12 race; its only loss in conference is to Oklahoma State and it still has Oklahoma on the schedule.  What we know for certain is that Baylor is bowl-eligible in mid-October this year which is a bit surprising since the Bears were an unimpressive 2-7 in last year’s COVID-shortened season.

Texas Tech 41  Kansas 14:  Tech looks as if it is going to get a bowl bid this year; Kansas will be – almost assuredly – invited to the SHOE Tournament.

Iowa St. 33  K-State 20:  I guess you could say that Iowa St. is still relevant in the Big-12 conference race; it has one loss in conference play, but it still has Oklahoma St. (this weekend) and Oklahoma on the schedule.  K-State is not relevant in the conference race; the Wildcats are 3-3 for the season and all three losses have been against Big-12 teams.

Oklahoma 52  TCU 31:  I put this game in the Six-Pack last week as going OVER 63.  The total score at the end of the third period was 69 points.  The stat sheet here was much closer than the score; Oklahoma gained 529 yards on offense and TCU gained 525 yards on offense.  The Sooners’ freshman QB, Caleb Williams, had an outstanding game for his first start at the college level:

  • 18 for 23 for 295 yards with 4 TDs and 0 INTs.
  • He also had 9 carries for 66 yards and a rushing TD.

In SEC action last week …

Ole Miss 31  Tennessee 26:  Recall that the Total Line for this game was 83 points last week.  The two teams combined to gain 495 yards rushing in the game producing a total of 32 rushing first downs by both teams.  Ole Miss was 11 for 21 on third downs while Tennessee was 9 for 17.  Still, the total score never put anyone who played UNDER in any jeopardy.

Alabama 49  Mississippi St.  9:  I wondered last week how the Tide players might react to a loss straight up two weeks ago to Texas A&M.  One option that I suggested might be in play was “bludgeoning Mississippi St. to death.”  I would say I got that one right…

Texas A&M 35  Missouri 14:  The Aggies avoided the dreaded let-down game last week after beating Alabama the week before that.  The Aggies ran the ball 42 times for 284 yards (6.8 yards per attempt).  Thirteen penalties did not help Mizzou’s cause even a little bit.

LSU 49  Florida 42:    The game was even on the stat sheet; Florida outgained LSU by only 3 yards.  LSU gained 321 yards rushing (6.6 yards per carry) in the game controlling the tempo.  The Gators turned the ball over 4 times (all INTs) in the game; that is why they lost.  Interestingly, Florida did not commit a single penalty in the game.

Auburn 38  Arkansas 23:   Auburn maintains the importance of its upcoming game against Alabama.  Arkansas should get a nice bowl bid, thank you…

In PAC-12 games out west …

Oregon 24  Cal 17:  This was not the kind of impressive win Oregon needs to get the attention of the CFP Selection Committee.  Cal is 1-5; a “team that hopes to be selected for the CFP” should roll over a team like Cal with ease.  This game was tied 10-10 at the start of the 4th quarter…

Colorado 34  Arizona 0:  OK, Arizona was playing without its starting QB; that meant they were not likely to explode offensively here because they had not done that even when the #1 guy at the helm.  But allowing 34 points to Colorado – – a team whose scoring abilities have rightfully been called into question – – is what makes Arizona a hot mess.  Consider:

  • Colorado is 127th in the nation in total offense gaining an average of only 260.5 yards per game.
  • Colorado is 122nd in the nation in scoring offense scoring an average of only 17.2 points per game.
  • And those standings include the stats from the blowout win over Arizona last week!

[For the record, Arizona and New Mexico score the least among Division 1-A football teams in 2021.  To date, both teams average only 14 points per game.]

Washington St. 34  Stanford 31:  The stat sheet was as close as the scoreboard here.  Two lost fumbles by Stanford were important elements in this outcome.

UCLA 24  Washington 17:  The Huskies’ record is now 2-4.  Recall that they were ranked in the Top 20 in Pre-Season polls – – showing the true value of Pre-Season polls.

Utah 35  Arizona St.  21:  Utah is the only PAC-12 team with no conference losses; this was Arizona State’s first conference loss in 2021.  Arizona St. led this game 21-7 and then gave up 28 unanswered points.

In miscellaneous games of interest from last weekend…

Nevada 34  Hawaii 17:  The game was close at halftime, but Nevada pitched a shutout in the second half to pull away.  Nevada is 5-1 for the season.

San Diego St.  19  San Jose St. 13 (2OT):  San Diego St. is unbeaten at 6-0 but it needed double OT to beat a mediocre San Jose St. team who is now 3-4 on the season.   San Diego State has their stadium under reconstruction, so all  its home games are in Carson CA – – in that soccer stadium that the LA Chargers had used for several years while waiting to relocate to SoFi Stadium.

Utah St.  28  UNLV 24:  UNLV RB, Charles Williams, had 27 carries for 221 yards and 3 TDs in this game – – and the Rebels lost anyway bringing their 2021 record to 0-6.  Here are reasons why Williams’ performance was not enough:

  • Three other players had rushing attempts for UNLV.  They carried 4 times for minus-2 yards.
  • The Rebels’ passing attack for the day was 12 for 24 for 111 yards with 0 TDs and 2 INTs.

Colorado St. 36  New Mexico 7: ranks all 130 Divison-1A football teams each week.  This week, they have Colorado State ranked at # 90.  Do not take that literally; all that means is that Colorado State is not a good team and is probably a bit below average in 2021.  Ergo, this was not a good showing by the Lobos against mediocre-at-best competition.  I pointed out above that New Mexico only scores 14 points per game.  Well, in this contest, New Mexico only had 93 yards of total offense for the day.

  • New Mexico’s 93 yards of offense came on 56 offensive snaps.
  • That means each offensive play netted an average of 1.7 yards of offense.

It is difficult to score with that kind of offensive output!

UTSA 45  Rice 0:  Seeing Rice on the short end of a blowout score is not news.  The fact that it is UTSA doing the “blowing out” and not a team with a rich football history such as LSU or Oklahoma makes this interesting if not important.  UTSA is 7-0 for the season and here are their vanquished foes:

  1. Illinois
  2. Lamar
  3. Middle Tennessee
  4. Memphis
  5. UNLV
  6. Western Kentucky
  7. Rice

The best teams left on the UTSA dance card are UTEP (??)  and UAB…

Cincy 56  UCF 21:  The Bearcats notch another dominant win steamrollering UCF  in a game that was 35-7 at halftime.

Buffalo 27  Ohio  26:  In a game with no significance outside of “MAC-land”, Ohio led 21-0 at the end of the first quarter AND the Bobcats later recorded a safety in the game.  Normally, that translates into a victory – – but not here.

UConn 21  Yale 15:  The Huskies are off the schneid for 2021.  They can lay claim to being the best football team in the State of Connecticut…

I purposely saved this game for last; it had to be the biggest surprise of the week – – if not the month…

La-Monroe 31  Liberty 28:  Liberty was a 33-point favorite here and lost outright.  La-Monroe ran off 28 points in the third quarter and then added a winning field goal with about a minute left in the game for the win.  Three INTs by Liberty played a big part in this upset.  I cannot imagine that there was a lot of wagering action on this game but consider the Money Line odds at kickoff:

  • Liberty was minus-8,000
  • La-Monroe was +4,000

La-Monroe is an enigmatic team this year; if you look at the stats you just shake your head in disbelief.

  • ULM is 3-3 for the season.  Not bad.
  • ULM’s point differential for the season is minus-102 points.  That’s awful.
  • ULM is 119th in the country in scoring offense and 128th in the country in total offense.  And  yet, they are 3-3 …?


College Football Games of Interest:


(Fri Nite) Washington – 17.5 at Arizona (46.5):  Washington has been disappointing this year; Arizona has been putrid this year.  For a game that is predicted to be low-scoring, that is a lot of points to lay if you want to back the favorite…

UMass at Florida St. – 35.5 (60):  The Seminoles have won two in a row; their beleaguered new coach may be building some support among the faithful in Tallahassee.  Any and all of the goodwill he has amassed in the last two weeks will evaporate instantly with a negative outcome here.  In fact, he probably should play for the team to cover this monstrous spread to make the Seminoles’ backers at the betting window happy.

Ohio St. – 21 at Indiana (60):  Do not expect the Buckeyes to take their foot off the gas here.  They are playing to impress the CFP Selection Committee and they already have a loss on the books for 2021.

Illinois at Penn State – 23 (45.5):  Penn State has a Big-10 loss on its record, but it still has Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State to play.  All four of those teams can win out and make it to the CFP but there is no margin of error for any of them…

Georgia Tech at Virginia – 7 (62):   Virginia ranks 5th in the nation in total offense (526.1 yards per game); Tech ranks 65th in the nation at 400.7 yards of offense per game.  Combine those numbers with the fact that Tech is 69th in the country in total defense giving up 381.3 yards per game and Virginia is 95th in the country in total defense yielding 413.1 yards per game.  The game sets up as one where the ball will be “matriculating up and down the field” for much of the day.

Syracuse at Va Tech – 3 (46):  This game should mean a lot more to Tech than to Syracuse.  We shall see…

Clemson at Pitt – 3 (48.5):  This is not the Game of the Week – – except in ACC Territory where this is a huge matchup.  Pitt leads the Coastal Division and is undefeated in ACC games.  Clemson trails Wake Forest by a game in the Atlantic Division but Clemson and Wake will meet head-to-head on November 20th.  However, Clemson already has 1 conference loss (to NC State) and cannot afford another loss at this point.  This is a BIG game…  Pitt averages 48.3 points per game; they are not going to score that many in this one because Clemson only allows 12.5 points per game.  The Clemson offense has been awful this year ranking 115th in the nation.  If Clemson wins, it will be on account of the defense.

Cincy – 28 at Navy (48.5):  Navy has been underwhelming this year; the Bearcats need a big win to keep attention focused on them as a potential CFP participant.

NC State – 3 at Miami (52):  The Wolfpack has lost a game this year, but it is undefeated in conference games.  Miami is a disappointing 2-4 overall and 0-2 in conference games.

Wake Forest – 3 at Army (52.5):  Army will run the ball and then run the ball again and then run it some more.  Wake Forest’s run defense is not all that great; it ranks 92nd in the country giving up 173.2 yards per game.  This could be very interesting…

Oklahoma – 38.5 at Kansas (66.5):  The Sooners average 42.7 points per game; the Jayhawks give up 43.3 points per game.  Here are the Money Line odds for this game:

  • Kansas  =  +10,000
  • Oklahoma  =  minus-30,000

Colorado at Cal – 9 (43):  Two of the PAC-12’s weak sisters sort out which is the weaker…

Utah – 3 at Oregon State (57):  Utah leads the PAC-12 South and Oregon St. is tied for the lead in the PAC-12 North.

Oklahoma St. at Iowa St. – 7 (47):  I call this the college football Game of the Week.  A loss for the Cyclones would be hard for them to overcome.  The Cowboys need a win to stay abreast of Oklahoma who – – given the numbers cited above – – should have an easy victory this week.    I think Oklahoma St. is on a roll here and will make it to its showdown with Oklahoma such that the Big-12 Championship will be decided then; I am tempted to take the Cowboys on the Money Line but will resist that; I will take them plus the points here; put that in the Six-Pack.

Wisconsin – 3.5 at Purdue (40):  The oddsmakers show no love for the Boilermakers after their convincing win over Iowa last week.  The Total Line here looks inviting; two college football teams surely will go OVER 40 points, right?  Well, Purdue has played 6 games this year and every one of them has gone UNDER the total.

LSU at Ole Miss – 9 (76):  Ole Miss is 3rd in the country in rushing offense gaining an average of 262.8 yards per game on the ground.  LSU ranks 75th in the nation in rushing defense giving up an average of 151.9 yards per game.  Both teams can and like to score.  LSU puts 32.4 points per game on the scoreboard and Ole Miss lights it up at 43.7 points per game.  Expect a lot of fireworks here…

UTSA – 6.5 at La-Tech (60):  The Roadrunners seek to stay unbeaten for 2021…

San Diego St. at Air Force – 3.5 (39):  San Diego St. is 6-0 this year; Air Force is 6-1.  For followers of the Mountain West Conference, this is the biggest game of the year to date.  Just for  your information, Air Force leads the nation in rushing offense averaging 336.4 yards per game on the ground.  [Ironic that Air Force is the best team on the ground, no?]  Meanwhile, San Diego St. leads the nation in rushing defense yielding only 60.8 yards per game.  There was a similar matchup last week between Wisconsin and Army and the defensive stalwart prevailed…

USC at Notre Dame – 6.5 (58):  Listen up, children.  There was a time when USC/Notre Dame was THE biggest game of the year…

Nevada at Fresno St. – 3 (65):  This is another interesting Mountain West game.  Nevada is undefeated in conference with 1 loss overall; Fresno St. has lost twice and one of those losses was in conference.

BYU – 4 at Washington St. (55.5):  This game is interesting only because I have no idea how Washington State will react to the firing of head coach Nick Rolovich and 4 of his assistants earlier this week.  The only other thing about the game that is interesting is that both teams are the Cougars so you could call this a cat-fight…


NFL Commentary:


Let me begin by responding to an item in Bob Molinaro’s column last week in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot:

Fan duel: The WFT has the lowest average home attendance in the league. Not sure if that’s surprising for a franchise that’s experienced so much turmoil. The team’s average of 51,002 spectators over three games represents only 62.2% of FedEx Field capacity. The woeful Jaguars are drawing about 7,000 more a game than Snyder’s team. Whatever happened to that years-long season-ticket waiting list the franchise once proudly touted?”

Living in the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington DC back in the days when the Washington Football team maintained the fiction of consecutive sellouts and a huge waiting list for season tickets, I would get a cold call about once a year asking if I was interested in a season ticket or two.  The team did not publicize it and did not blanket the area with calls, but I am not the only person who got the calls infrequently.  What happened to the “waiting list” is that it was a fiction for most – if not all – of the period of time since Danny Boy Snyder took over the team.  As to the other fiction of consecutive sellouts, the second deck of Fed Ex Field had bright yellow seats and even when the team was contending, those yellow seats showed that the sections were only about two-thirds full – – when they were even that full.

It was all a distraction by the marketing genius of Danny Boy Snyder.  Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain…

Speaking of the WFT, the team retired the jersey number of Sean Taylor last week.  The fact that they did not even announce that they were thinking about doing that until a couple of days before the game led some to believe that this was a distraction by the team to get the focus off the emails that Bruce Allen – former team president – had sent and received from folks like Jon Gruden and Jeff Pash.  I do not know if that is the case nor do I particularly care.  But I will say the following:

Until last Sunday only 2 players in the history of the Boston/Washington franchise ever had their numbers retired.

  • Those players were Sammy Baugh and Bobby Mitchell.
  • I saw Sammy Baugh play once when I was about 8 years old; I know about him mainly from reports and statistics.  He is in the Hall of Fame and richly deserves that honor.
  • I saw Bobby Mitchell play many times in the 1960s.  He too is in the Hall of Fame and richly deserves that honor.
  • I saw Sean Taylor play at least 90% of the games he took part in.  He made some spectacular head-hunting hits in the days before that was made illegal and he also gave up a lot of big plays as a safety because he was seeking to make those big hits.  Sean Taylor is not in the Hall of Fame; he should not be inducted into the Hall of Fame, and he really does not belong on a short list of three when the other two are Sammy Baugh and Bobby Mitchell.

Allow me one more Washington Football Team comment if you will…  This week the team cut its kicker, Dustin Hopkins, and replaced him with Chris Blewitt.  Hopkins had missed a couple of extra points in addition to some readily makeable field goals so far this year, so this was not a shocking move.  What I think is interesting is that the team decision to sign Blewitt had to bring a sigh of relief to reporters who cover the WFT and to their copy editors.  The other kicker in competition with Blewitt was the spelling nightmare that is Lirim Hajrullahu.

Let me point out a statistical oddity from the NFC North standings:

  • The Packers are 5-1 with a point differential of only 8 points
  • Two of their five victories have been by a total of 5 points.
  • Their one loss was by 35 points  – – to the Saints in Week 1.

The NFL is a copycat league; when one team tries something “different” and it works, other teams put that in their bag of tricks also.  Well, last week we saw two NFL teams win big games in the week after their head coaches were severely embarrassed to the point that Jon Gruden lost his job and Urban Meyer was scrutinized more closely than he ever had been in his life.

  • So, will other teams look for ways to embarrass their head coaches in the copycat NFL?

Moving on to last week’s results:

Jags 23  Dolphins 20:  The Jags’ losing streak is over.  The game was as even on the stat sheet as it was on the scoreboard.  The Dolphins have now lost 5 in a row after winning in Week 1.  If you believe in omens, that is what happened to the Jags last year; they won in Week 1 too…   The Dolphins only managed to run the ball for 77 yards in the game despite playing a team that gives up 114 yards per game.  The Jags’ defense played well after letting the Dolphins run out to a 10-0 lead.  Here are the results of the 9 Dolphins’ possessions from the start of the second quarter to the end of the game:

  1. Punt
  2. FG
  3. Punt
  4. Missed FG
  5. Punt
  6. INT
  7. TD
  8. Punt
  9. Turnover on downs

Packers 24  Bears 14:  The Bears trailed only 17-14 in the middle of the fourth quarter, but Aaron Rodgers led a 7-play 75-yard drive that took 4 minutes off the clock.  The TD from that drive resulted in the final score here.  Justin Fields played well for the Bears throwing for 175 yards and gaining another 43 yards rushing.  However, he did throw 1 INT and that was in the end-zone thereby killing a scoring opportunity.

Chiefs 31  Football Team  13:  The Football Team led at halftime 13-10 and then the Chiefs’ defense – statistically the worst defense in the NFLat the time – shut down the Washington offense for the entire second half.  However, the less scrutinized blame should be placed on the Washington defense – – that unit where 4 first round draft picks line up on the D-line” and another one plays linebacker:

  • The Chiefs had 499 yards of offense.
  • The WFT defense allowed more than 30 points for the 4th week in a row.
  • The Chiefs were 11 for 17 on third down conversions including a stretch of 8 consecutive third-down conversions in the second half.

Sounds bad, right?  Oh, wait… there’s more.

  • The score was 24-13 with ten-and-a-half minutes left in the game.  The Chiefs got the ball at their own 4 yardline.  If the defense can get a three-and-out, the offense would likely get decent field position and could possibly make a game of it.  Here is what happened when that defense was faced with this task:
  • The Chiefs drove 96 yards on 15 plays to score a TD and take 7 minutes and 18 seconds off the game clock.

That is what is called “coming up small”…

Cowboys 35  Pats 29: (OT):  The stat sheet says this should have been a blowout – – but it was an OT game.  The Cowboys had 567 yards on offense; the Pats only managed to get 335 yards.  The Cowboys had the ball for just over 39 minutes in the game.  Dak Prescott was 36 of 51 for the day gaining 445 yards passing with 3 TDs and 1 INT.  So much for that mysterious shoulder injury he “had” during the Exhibition Season…  The only Cowboys’ flaw was committing 12 penalties for 115 yards in the game.

Raiders 34  Broncos  24:  The total offense for both teams was a dead heat here; the Broncos held the ball for almost 35 minutes; the Broncos had 9 more first downs than the Raiders; the penalties were the same.  Here is the difference that led to the Raiders’ victory:

  • Raiders had zero turnovers
  • Broncos had 4 turnovers (3 INTs)
  • The Raiders also booked 5 sacks for the game; Maxx Crosby had 2 of them.

Vikes 34  Panthers 28 (OT):  The Panthers arrived at the kickoff with the top-rated pass defense in the NFL.  Kirk Cousins shredded it for 373 yards and 3 TDs going 33 for 48 on the day.   Adam Theilin caught 11 passes for 126 yards and 1 TD in the game.  Total offense for the Vikes was 571 yards.  The Vikes’ offense was in a zone last week, but the Vikes’ special teams were in the toilet.  The Panthers blocked a punt that led to a TD and the kicker missed two makeable field goals in the game including one as time expired that would have negated the need for OT.

Steelers 23  Seahawks 20 (OT):    The Steelers dominated the first half leading 14-0 at the intermission.  Then the Seahawks woke up and dominated the second half sending the game to OT.  Alex Collins subbing for injured starting RB, Chris Carson gained 101 yards on the ground for the Seahawks.  Geno Smith was solid if not spectacular subbing for injured starting QB, Russell Wilson – – until late in the OT when Geno did what Seahawks’ fans fear the most.  It is almost as if he shook his head and remembered who he is and how he had been playing so well; that could not be allowed to stand.  So, he lost a fumble late in the OT period deep in Seahawks’ territory that gave the Steelers a 36-yard field goal try to win the game.  Of course, it was good; that is how “Geno Smith Stories” always end.

Titans 34  Bills 31:  Looking at the score, you would think that neither defense showed up for the game.  Not true, this was a hard-hitting game with plenty of good defensive plays in it; it was also a night where both offenses were hitting on all cylinders.

  • Josh Allen threw for 353 yards and 3 TDs
  • Derrick Henry averaged just over 7 yards per carry and scored 3 rushing TDs

Last weekend saw an unusual number of blowout games in the NFL.  I put 5 games from last week in that category and there were only 14 games last week.  Let me go through them together here…

Colts 31  Texans 3:  Here is a 28-point margin of victory; that is a lot for an NFL game.  The stat sheet says the game should have been close; the Colts had 388 yards on offense and the Texans had 353 yards.  There is not much of a difference there.  However, the Texans turned the ball over 3 times in the game so the fact that they controlled the ball for almost 35 minutes and the fact that the Texans were 9 for 17 on third down tries meant nothing.  The Texans had a “players only” meeting prior to this game; that motivational gambit produced nothing of value on the field.  For the Colts, RB Jonathan Taylor rushed for 145 yards and 2 TDs on only 14 rushing attempts.

Ravens 34  Chargers 6:  Here is another 28-point margin of victory; that is a lot for an NFL game.  The Ravens defense held the Chargers to 208 yards on offense and only 26 yards on the ground; Justin Herbert was the Chargers’ leading rusher in the game.   The Ravens’ offense held the ball for 38 minutes and ran the ball 38 times for 187 yards.  It was indeed a butt-stomping.

Rams 38  Giants 11:  Here is a 27-point margin of victory; that is a lot for an NFL game.  The Giants led 3-0 at the end of the first quarter.    The next time the Giants scored, the Rams had 38 points and there were about 6 minutes left to play in the game.  Matthew Stafford had himself a fun time here posting this stat line:

  • 22 of  28 for 251 yards with 4 TDs and 1 INT

Cooper Kupp caught 9 balls for 130 yards and 2 TDs in the game.  The Rams’’ defense recorded 4 sacks and created 4 turnovers too.  It was a beat down.

Bengals 34  Lions 11:  Here is a 23-oint margin of victory; that is a lot for an NFL game.  The Bengals were pitching a shutout until the middle of the fourth quarter when the Lions kicked a field goal to make the score 27-3.  The Lions’ offense was anemic at best and the running game was embarrassing.  The Lions ran the ball 18 times for 36 yards.  The Bengals were 8 for 15 on third down conversions and 2 for 2 on fourth-down tries.  The Lions’ total offense for the day was 228 yards.  It was an ass-kicking.

Cardinals 37  Browns 14:  Here is a 23-point margin of victory; that is a lot for an NFL game.  AND it could well have been even worse because the Browns got a TD – half of their scoring for the day – on a Hail Mary pass on the final play of the first half.  This could have been a 30-point margin of victory!  It was 23-14 at the half and the Browns made a defensive stop to start the 3rd quarter.  If they were going make a game of this, that was the time and place for a momentum swing.  However, here are the results of the Browns’ possessions in the second half of this game:

  • Punt (after a 3-and-out)
  • Lost Fumble
  • Turnover on Downs
  • Turnover on Downs

This may have been the biggest rout of the weekend…


NFL Games:


There are 6 teams on their BYE Week this week leaving 13 games on the schedule.  Here are the inactive teams:

  1. Bills:  They have an extra week to stew over their loss to the Titans
  2. Chargers:  They have an extra week to watch how the Ravens blew them out last week.
  3. Cowboys:  Dak Prescott was in a walking boot with a calf injury at the end of last week’s game; good timing here!
  4. Jags:  Bathing in the glory of victory for the first time in a long time.
  5. Steelers:  Hoping they get to play Geno Smith once again next week.
  6. Vikes:  Two weeks to clean up special teams and to find the key to consistency from week to week.

The Sunday late afternoon time slot (I am talking about the Eastern Time Zone here) is usually where the league showcases top teams and good games.  Not so this week.  There are 4 games that fit into that time slot.  Three of those four games have double-digit spreads and the Lions and the Texans appear in two of the four games.  The schedule-maker gets a loud case of the raspberries from NFL fans watching on TV this week.

Of course, I watched last night’s game between the Broncos and the Browns.  It was hardly an enjoyable way to spend three or so hours; the game was a slog.  Back before the regular season began, I predicted 5 wins for the Denver Broncos and I had Vic Fangio as one of my coaches on a hot seat; when they won their first 3 games, I figured I would have to eat those predictions.  Well, the Broncos have now lost 4 in a row and given the way they looked last night, I am feeling comfortable with my prognostication.

The Browns won with Case Keenum at QB and a RB named D’Ernest Johnson who gashed the Broncos’ defense for 146 yards rushing on 22 carries.  The Broncos offense was AWOL; the Broncos only ran 49 offensive plays in the game and the rushing stats were an anemic 41 yards on 14 carries.  The Browns need to “get healthy”; the Broncos need more than that.

Cincy at Baltimore – 6 (47):  This is a division game and – take a deep breath here – the Bengals can wind up tied with the Ravens for first place in the AFC North if they can win this game.  I think the Bengals have their work cut out for them, but they do have something going for them.  The Ravens’ pass defense is not great, and it has given up more than its share of ‘chunk plays”.  The Bengals can and do throw the ball downfield particularly to Ja’Marr Chase.  I label this one the Game of the Week.

Carolina – 3 at Giants (43.5):  Lots of “negative momentum” in play here.  [Yes, I know, momentum is not negative; it is a vector quantity; sometimes it is just pointing in the wrong direction.]  The Panthers have lost their last 3 games; the Giants have lost their last two games by 22 points and then by 27 points.  Both offenses are – shall we say – stagnant.  The Panthers have some injuries on offense; the Giants just aren’t any good on that side of the ball.  Unless there are defensive or special team scores here, I think the first team to 20 points wins it; I like the game to stay UNDER; put it in the Six-Pack.

Washington at Green Bay – 8 (48):  The spread for this game is as low as 7.5 at two Internet sportsbooks and as high as 9.5  at another.  You can find it at every stop along the way between those two points.  For one of the books with the game at 7.5 points, the line was 9.5 all week long until Thursday afternoon when it was dropped to 7.5 in one step down.  The other book currently at 7.5 points had the game at 10 points until Thursday when it was dropped to 8.5 and then quickly to 7.5.  That movement can only mean lots of WFT money showed up at those two sportsbooks.  Why that is the case is a mystery to me; I have not seen any reports that Aaron Rodgers has been kidnapped by aliens from the Xygork Nebula…

KC – 4.5 at Tennessee (56.5):  That is a big Total Line and I think it represents the way this game will unfold.  Derrick Henry should have a big day against  a Chiefs’ run defense that ranks 27th in the league giving up an average of 133.2 yards per game.  The Titans’ defensive backfield looks as if it belongs in a M*A*S*H unit and that would point to Patrick Mahomes and his speedy pass catchers also having a big day.  This could be one of those days were putting 30 points on the scoreboard is only the ante for the game; I’ll take the game to go OVER; put it in the Six-Pack.

Atlanta – 2.5 at Miami (47.5):  The Falcons played in London two weeks ago; they came home and got a BYE Week leading up to this game.  The Dolphins played in London last week; they came home needing to get ready to play this weekend.  What did the Dolphins do to piss off the schedule-maker?  I do not think the Falcons are a good team, but I think they are a step above the Dolphins.  Normally, taking a mediocre-at-best team on the road and laying points is a bad idea.  However, the Dolphins are playing very badly right now; they may not be as bad as say the Lions, but they are playing badly.  So, I will go against the grain here and take the Falcons and lay the points on the road; put it in the Six-Pack.

Jets at New England – 7 (43):  So, is the storyline here Zach Wilson against Mac Jones as two rookie QBs from the same draft oppose one another?  Or is it that this is Zach Wilson and the Jets’ offensive braintrust matching wits with Bill Belichick’s defensive wrinkles?  The Jets have had 2 weeks to come up with their plans of attack on offense and defense and I don’t think that is enough.  I’ll take the Pats to win and cover at home; put it in the Six-Pack.

Detroit at Rams – 16 (50):  Jared Goff “goes home” to LA – – or maybe it’s that the Lions go out to LA to check out how their old buddy Matthew Stafford is doing?  The only way I see this game being marginally interesting/competitive is if the Rams look past the Lions and only give a quarter-assed effort.  [Aside:  A half-assed Rams’ effort should still produce a victory.]  Lions’ coach, Dan Campbell, said he wanted players that never give up and will bite opponents at the kneecaps as they are going down.  If he has really assembled a roster that buys into that philosophy, then the Rams coaches and equipment folks had better make sure they have plenty of kneepads available and also to have cameras on the sidelines to record the bite marks.  I will not make this a selection for the Six-Pack because I hate double-digit spreads in NFL games.  And because I think this game will be most uncompetitive, I will crown it as the Dog-Breath Game of the Week.

Philly at Las Vegas – 3 (48.5):  The Eagles come to the game off a “mini-BYE” having played on Thursday last week; the Raiders now have the opportunity to level out the emotional roller coaster they had to be on last week in their first game of the Rich Bisaccia era.  It appears that Eagles’ OT, Lane Johnson, will be back with the team after taking some time off to deal with “anxiety issues”.  The key to this game will be the Raiders’ ability – or inability – to keep Jalen Hurts in the pocket; Hurts is a lot better when he has room to move and throw.  On the other side, I think the Raiders will be able to do plenty of business against the Eagles’ defense.  I am hoping that this is the “late game’ in my viewing area since it will be the only game in that time slot with less than a 13-point spread. And there will be fireworks here; I like the game to go OVER; put it in the Six-Pack.

Chicago at Tampa – 13 (47):  Here we have another potential blowout game in the late Sunday afternoon time slot.  The Bucs have been strong on offense scoring more than 30 points in 5 of their 7 games this year.  The Bears only give up 21 points per game so that is the force opposing a blowout game here.  Justin Fields has been playing well for a rookie but this week he gets to try his hand against Todd Bowles as the defensive coordinator in the other sideline.  I don’t think that is going to be a fair fight.

Houston at Arizona – 17.5 (47):  The Texans are not in the same echelon as the Cardinals and the Texans are on the road for the second week in a row.  The spread for this game opened at 14.5 points and shot up to 17 points in the first 24 hours.  At some sportsbooks, it went as high as 18.5 points before settling in at this level at most of the sportsbooks on the Internet.  Similar to the Rams’ situation, I cannot see the Cards losing or even being threatened seriously here unless they take the game for granted and just go through the motions.

(Sun Nite) Indy at SF – 4 (44):  Back in August when the coaches and GMs here looked at this game in Week 7, my guess is that all of them thought this would be a yardstick game between two teams that were 5-1 or at worst 4-2.  Well, it is a yardstick game but in the other direction.  The Colts are 2-4 while the Niners are 2-3.  The winner stays viable and relevant; the loser may find itself on life support.  The Niners’ QB for Sunday night is still up in the air as I compose this; if Jimmy G can play, he will be the better QB on the field; if Trey Lance plays it will be a North Dakota State QB reunion.

(Mon Nite) New Orleans – 5 at Seattle (43):  This is the battle of the mistake-prone QBs; Jameis Winston versus Geno Smith; on every snap of the ball in this game, no fan of either team would dare think, “What could possibly happen?”  Why not?  Because with those two, anything can happen at any time.  Here is what I see as the difference in the game:

  • Saints’ defense is 15th in the league giving up 354 yards per game.
  • Seahawks defense is 32nd in the league giving up 433.2 yards per game.

Also, the Saints defense is +5 in turnover differential.  The only reason I will not make a selection here is the game venue; the Saints are not a great road team, and the Seattle crowd just might get in Jameis Winston’s head.  I am tempted to take the Saints – – but will demur.

So let me review this week’s Six-Pack – – which is heavily tilted toward NFL games:

  1. Oklahoma St. +7 against Iowa St.
  2. Panthers/Giants UNDER 43.5
  3. Chiefs/Titans OVER 56.5
  4. Falcons – 2.5 over Dolphins
  5. Pats – 7 over Jets
  6. Raiders/Eagles OVER 48.5

Finally, since this all began with an  homage to M*A* S*H let me close with this observation by George Bernard Shaw about the medical profession:

“We have not lost faith, but we have transferred it from God to the medical profession.”

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







A Football Version Of The Dirty Dozen

The NFL season is approximately one-third finished – – now with 17 games in a regular season, there are no easily identified simple fractions for a season – – and there is about enough of the season in our collective rearview mirror to take a synoptic view of the league in 2021.  Here is the difference between what I try to do here and what others who comment on and analyze pro football try to do:

  • I want to focus on the really bad teams so far – – AND – –
  • I want to focus on the teams I think are the most disappointing so far in 2021.

It is easy – and therefore commonplace – to comment on the positive surprises and the  top teams in the league to date.  But these words by H. L. Mencken explain why the curmudgeonly option is to do the opposite:

“Men became civilized, not in proportion to their willingness to believe, but in proportion to their readiness to doubt.”

I shall begin with the teams that have played most poorly to date in the 2020 NFL season.  These are the bottom 6 teams to date:

  1. Lions:  As the only winless team in the league (0-6) the Lions cannot possibly avoid being on this list; in fact, they really have to be at the top of the list even though I try to do these sorts of things alphabetically.  With a point differential to date at minus -63, the Lions are tied with the Giants for the biggest scoring deficit in the NFC.
  2. Dolphins:  They won a game in Week 1 and have lost 5 in a row since then.  Hell, they lost to the sorry-assed Jaguars last week.  This team was 10-6 last year but they have been awful in 2021.  The Dolphins point differential is minus-78; they are losing on average by 13 points per game.
  3. Giants:  They arrive at this party with a 1-5 record.  Last week, the Giants honored the Giants’ team that won the 2011 Super Bowl, and the current version of the Giants went out and laid a giant rotten egg on the field of play.
  4. Jags:  Yes, they won last week breaking a 20-game losing streak.  Nonetheless, I will need to see lots of signs of life from the Dolphins over the next several weeks before I consider that Jags’ victory to be some sort of “breakthrough.”
  5. Jets:  The Jets have won a game, but they have only lost 4 games as opposed to 5 games for other 1-win teams on this list.  How can that be?  The Jets had a BYE Week last week and it is extremely difficult to lose in one’s BYE Week.  The Jets’ offense is anemic; it ranks 31st in the NFL gaining only 267 yards per game.  That is simply not good enough.
  6. Texans:  They too have won a game in 2021 – but it is sometimes hard to fathom how they did that.  The Texans have the worst point differential in the NFL as of this morning at minus-80 points over 6 games which is ever so slightly worse than the Dolphins so far this year.

The six teams listed above are surely disappointing to their fanbase – – and probably to their owners.  However, with the possible exception of the Dolphins, most folks did not expect much from teams on that list.  Objective outside observers look at the list and say something along the line of , “So, what’s the big deal?”

I believe there are six other NFL teams where fans and owners should have expected a better start to the first third of the 2021 season and none of these six teams are close to being on the list above:

  1. Browns:  The Browns were a fashionable pick to make to the Super Bowl this year as the AFC representative.  As of this morning, the Browns are 3-3 with injuries and offensive inconsistency being the most prevalent storylines for the team.  The Browns are not a bad team, but they have not lived up to the expectations of their fans.
  2. Chiefs:  Maybe the football gods have inflicted the team with the “Curse of the Super Bowl Loser”.  Or maybe, some of the defensive coordinators have caught up to the gimmickry of Andy Reid’s offense which is based in large part on the mobility and “arm-talent” of Patrick Mahomes.  I do not know the answer there but here is what I do know: The Chiefs have been very successful for the past several years with a mediocre defense because that offense could bail the team out of more than a few desperate circumstances.  And that has not been happening nearly as routinely in 2021 as it did in the past couple of seasons.
  3. Football Team:  These guys won the NFC East last year and the expectation was that they would have a Top 5 defense that would shut down opponents.  If only the offense could find a way to score 24 points in a game, the Football Team would be in a position to win that game.  Not so fast my friend…  The defense has been awful despite starting 5 first round picks in that defensive unit; opponents score an average of 31 points per game on that elite defense and that is the worst scoring statistic in the league.
  4. Niners:  Like the Browns, the Niners had a significant following during the Exhibition Season as a dark-horse candidate to arrive at the Super Bowl as the NFC champ.  I know; they have only lost 3 games in 2021; so, that achievement is not rendered impossible.  But it is looking more and more improbable as the weeks go by.  Trey Lance is starting at QB for an injured Jimmy Garoppolo – – no surprise regarding that injury status, please – – and I cannot see any way that a rookie QB will be able to carry the Niners through the tough divisional games presented by the NFC  West.
  5. Pats:  The team acquired free agents in the offseason and drafted someone who was supposedly “their guy” in the Draft to take over as QB.  OK, the offense has struggled a bit with a rookie QB even with the genius of Josh McDaniels scheming and designing game plans.  The real issue so far has been the defense’s inability to carry the team in light of the mediocre – and hopefully improving – team offense.  There is lots of time left in the 2021 season, but I really do not believe that the Pats have the ability to catch the Bills in the NFC East.
  6. Seahawks:  Calm down “Seahawk Nation”; I know that losing a top-shelf QB such as Russell Wilson ought to allow this team to get a pass from this sort of list.  However, my problem is not with the Seahawks’ offense; it is with the defense that was supposedly upgraded and improved over the offseason.  Well, as of this morning, the Seahawks defense has allowed an average of 433.2 yards per game and that ranks the defensive unit dead last in the NFL

Finally, I began this morning with some words from H. L. Mencken; so, let me close with another of his observations:

“[Hollywood] is the true and original arse-hole of creation.  The movie dogs, compared with the rest of the population, actually seem like an ancient Italian noblesse.”

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



Mostly Basketball Stuff Today

Today is National Calvados Day.  If you like cognac, you will also like calvados.  Too many folks go out of their way to create cocktails using calvados.  My preference is to enjoy it neat after dinner.  I stop short, however, of just sticking a straw in the bottle…

The NBA tipped off the 2021/2022 regular season last night with two top-shelf matchups – – Lakers/Warriors and Bucks/Nets.  The NBA regular season consists of 1230 games; it could well be the case that the next night when there will be four comparably qualified teams meeting each other will be in the NBA Semi-Finals.  That is the problem with the NBA regular season; there are far too many games that have very little meaning and do not put on display either balanced talent levels for both squads or sufficient talent on one or both teams to make the game interesting.

That may sound cynical, and it may not be what dedicated NBA fans want to hear, but I am hardly alone in my thinking that the NBA regular season takes a very long time (indisputably correct) without a lot of surprises or drama involved.  Barring significant injuries, we all pretty much “know” the outcomes.  The Las Vegas sportsbooks allow fans to wager on the winners of the 6 NBA Divisions.  Here are the numbers; the oddsmakers signal here that they are confident they know the winners in the divisions:

  • Atlantic Division:  Nets at minus-275
  • Central Division:  Bucks at minus-1,000
  • Southeast Division:  Heat at even money
  • Northwest Division:  Jazz at minus-225
  • Pacific Division:  Lakers at +110
  • Southwest Division:  Mavericks at minus-225

Only one of the divisions offers bettors a choice where every team pays out more than even money if the pick is successful; that would be in the Pacific Division where the Lakers are at +110 partially because the Warriors are in the same division, and the Warriors are at +180.  The oddsmakers go further in their expression of confidence in the ultimate outcome of the NBA season.  Here is an overview of the odds for teams to win the NBA Championship next summer:

  • Six of the thirty NBA teams have odds of +50,000
  • Nine other teams have odds between +10,000 and +50,000.

[Aside:  I know most everyone understands the odds notation here but just to be clear, odds of +50,000 means if you bet $100 and you win the bet, you collect your original $100 PLUS $50,000.]

Looking at the data above, the bookmakers believe that half of the teams in the NBA have no real shot at “winning it all”.  But those 15 teams will take part in plenty of those 1230 regular season games.  I cannot wait until I have the chance to tune in to see the Oklahoma City Thunder take on the Sacramento Kings.  Wake me in early or mid-March so I can begin to care about half the games on any given evening.

Moving along…  You may recall that a whole bunch of NFL players stand accused of defrauding the healthcare plan that covers retired NFL players and about half of them have pleaded guilty.  The way it worked was that they filed false claims for expensive items – like hyperbaric chambers – and kept the reimbursements.  There were forged prescriptions and receipts involved; it was a sordid mess.

Well, one of two things seems to have occurred here:

  1. Great minds run in similar channels – – OR – –
  2. NBA players “went to school” on how NFL players were cashing in.

Eighteen former NBA players have been charged with defrauding the NBA’s healthcare plan and pocketing between $2.5 and $4M in bogus claims.  According to reports, Terrence Williams – originally drafted by the then-NJ Nets – concocted the scheme and is the alleged “ringleader”.  The indictment in the matter alleges that Williams provided “false invoices” to the other players so that they could file claims and in return for those false invoices Williams got a kickback from the players once they were reimbursed.

There are a few recognizable names among the accused including:

  • Tony Allen
  • Glen “Big Baby” Davis
  • Darius Miles
  • Sebastian Telfair

Dwight Perry’s take on this fraudulent scheme is interesting:

“Eighteen ex-NBA players have been charged with defrauding the league’s health and welfare benefit plan out of about $4 million for claiming fake ailments.

“Even worse, they won’t get their $35 copays back.”

Finally, apropos of nothing, here is a response made by English essayist Samuel Johnson to an unnamed author:

“Your manuscript is both good and original; but the part that is good is not original and the part that is original is not good.”

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



I Thought We Would Be Over This By Now …

I am feeling like Pollyanna a bit this morning.  I had thought that by the time the NHL and the NBA began their seasons in the Fall that there would be a much more normal modus vivendi regarding COVID-19 and protocols and the like.  Well, the NHL has seemingly figured out how to make all that stuff work in a way that allows the focus to be on teams and players and games and standings and – you know – the interesting and important stuff.  Not so for the NBA…

The NHL season is underway; some of the teams already have four games in the books.  The stories surrounding the NHL have to do with wins and losses and injuries; that is how things worked in the “normal times” before the coronavirus.  The NBA season begins this week.  Here are the “big storylines” coming out of training camps for the league:

  • Can the Bucks and Giannis Antetokounmpo repeat?  [That is a fill in the blanks storyline that happens every year in every sport.]
  • Has Lebron assembled a team around him that is of championship caliber?  [I think we have heard that one before…]
  • Ben Simmons and John Wall want to be traded.  [The names change but we have heard that song sung before.]

If those were the big storylines hanging in the balance as the NBA prepared to tip off its new season, it would seem that a return to normalcy was well underway.  However, the really big storyline coming out of training camp for the NBA has to do with – – drum roll please – – COVID-19 and the vaccine(s) available for COVID-19.  Kyrie Irving chooses not to take the vaccine making him ineligible to play in games in NYC under current procedures in that city.  The Nets have told Irving he cannot be part of the team if he can only play in about half of the Nets’ games this year and that he should stay away from meetings and practices and should not travel with the team.

Irving’s contract calls for him to make just a smidgen over $35M for the upcoming season – – predicated on his availability to play for something other than an injury.  I am certain that there will be litigation/arbitration to come as to whether Irving can invoke the “guarantees” in that contract and continue to collect some or all that salary, but it would seem as if he is going to sacrifice at least a portion of it.  He says he is willing to do so.

Adam Silver is trying to take a moral high ground here saying that the situation between Irving and the Brooklyn Nets is “between Kyrie and New York City right now.”  Silver also said that he was happy with the way the league has managed the COVID issue citing mandatory vaccination status for all coaches, referees, trainers and media representatives that would come into close contact with players on a routine basis.  The one area over which Silver and his minions have not been able to require vaccines is among the players themselves.  The NBA protocols exist to protect the players and their ability to play; the players’ union has opposed mandating vaccines for the players themselves.  Even COVID-19 cannot change the fact that the league and the union find themselves at loggerheads over just about everything.

Silver said that about 96% of the players have chosen to take the vaccine.  Let us do some math; there are 30 NBA teams with 15-man rosters.  If 4% of that cadre are unvaccinated, that translates to 18 vaccine holdouts.  That means that Kyrie Irving has 17 colleagues who have made the same choice he has.  Andrew Wiggins faced a comparable situation to Irving because the city of San Francisco has similar restrictions in place that would have barred him from playing games in San Francisco for the Warriors.  Wiggins made the choice to take the vaccine; Irving has not.

Moreover, the coronavirus has an ongoing effect in another sport – college football.  Washington State has fired head football coach, Nick Rolovich, for “not adhering to a statewide order” issued in August 2021 that mandated vaccines for all public employees.  Rolovich was not only a public employee; he was the highest paid public employee in the State of Washington earning $3.2M per year.  In addition to Rolovich, four assistant coaches (two on the offense and two on the defense) also lost their jobs over vaccination issues.

It is not as if this mid-season coaching upheaval was a surprise – or at least it should not have been.  Back in August, Rolovich did not participate in person at the PAC-12 media day because it was held in Los Angeles and the city had a mandate for participants to be vaccinated.  So, in this case, I find it difficult to “take sides.”

Let me be clear; I have been vaccinated and am waiting for the FDA approval of my booster shot which I will take as soon as I can.  I respect the right of someone to refuse to take the vaccine and believe that any adverse consequences that arise from that refusal are good and proper.

  • [Aside:  The specific consequence of an unvaccinated person contracting the virus and spreading it to someone else so that “someone else” also suffers health consequences is neither good nor proper – – but I think you get what I mean here.]

The reason I find it hard to “take sides here is because the real loser(s) in the Washington State/Nick Rolovich standoff are the players on the football team.  Those players have worked and trained in an attempt to play competitive college football; they did not go through all those rigors to be part of a drama that results in them losing a third of their coaching staff in the middle of the season.  The chronological adults involved in this matter – the coaches, the Athletic Director, the university administrators, the state and local politicians – could be expected to have seen this coming and taken action before the fact.  Instead, it sure seems as if process ruled the day and got us to a situation where it is the athletes who are collateral damage in a standoff involving none of them.

Finally, since much of the overhang of COVID on sports today involves individuals and their convictions, let me close with this note from Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche:

“Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies.”

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



Baseball Musings…

According to Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.”

Emerson lived in the 1800s, so he did not have the joyful experience of having to cope with the consistency not demonstrated by today’s politicians and by virtue-signalers everywhere.  The latest example of inconsistency might be ascribed to the commissioner of Baseball, Rob Manfred.  It was a little more than 6 months ago that Manfred led MLB in a tour de force of virtue-signaling.  Here is the sequence of events:

  • The duly elected legislature in Georgia passed new voting laws and the Governor signed them into law.  [For the record, I have never lived in Georgia but from all I have read, that law was put on the books in a way that is consistent with the Constitution of Georgia.]
  • Lot of people were outraged by the law.  [For the record, based solely on reports I read I would not have supported passage of that bill were I in the Georgia Legislature – – but I have never lived in Georgia, so my philosophical opposition carries little to no weight.]
  • MLB broadcast its outrage by moving the All-Star Game from Atlanta to Denver back in April 2021.

And so, we now come to October 2021 and we have a potential test of the level of MLB’s outrage.  Consider:

  • That abhorrent voting law that caused the  All-Star Game to be pulled out of Georgia in protest is still on the books.
  • As of this morning, the Atlanta Braves are two wins away from being in the World Series.
  • Will MLB allow those games to take place in Georgia?
  • Will the Commish attend any of the games in Atlanta if he allows the games to happen there?

At the time the decision was made to move the All-Star Game to Denver, here is how NPR reported the position of MLB on the issue:

“When the MLB took the summertime game away from Atlanta, Manfred, the baseball commissioner, called it ‘the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport,’ adding that the league ‘fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box.’”

So, if the Braves go on to win the NLCS, having the World Series in Atlanta should run counter to MLB’s “values as a sport” simply because that law placing “restrictions to the ballot box” is still there.  Anyone want to bet that no one asks the Commish to comment on that?

Speaking of the MLB playoffs – obliquely – there are some fans who reacted negatively to the Giants (best record in MLB) and the Rays (best record in the AL) being sidelined in the Divisional Series round of the playoffs.  And some of those fans also think that the Braves having the home game advantage in the NLCS over the Dodgers who had a better record is a flawed system.  I have read about and heard several proposals nominally to address those complaints but the only one I think it reasonable is to re-seed the teams based on regular season records after every round.

The fact of the matter is that in 99% of the MLB seasons, all the teams that are playing in the Divisional Round are good teams.  That means it is certain that good teams will be eliminated there and sometimes it will be the teams with the better regular season record that get to book tee times sooner rather than later.  This is not a basis to expand the Divisional Round to seven games; the end of the World Series this year could be as late as November 3rd; that is already a tad too late in the year for my taste.

Another idea I heard about is even worse:

  • The playoffs would be expanded to seven teams in each league.  The team with the best record in that league would get a BYE into the Divisional Round.
  • All the Wild Card series would be best-of-three.  As a reward for regular season performance, all three of the games would be home games for the team with the better record.
  • After those six teams in the Wild Card round sort themselves out, the team that had the BYE would get to choose its opponent for the Divisional Round and each Divisional series would be best-of-seven.

If we keep thinking in this creative mode, we might wind up with the World Series ending on Christmas Eve.  So, if this kind of thinking begins to gain traction, the only compensating thing MLB can do is to cut back the regular season to something like 144 games.  Dwight Perry had this observation in the Seattle Times over the weekend:

“And then there’s the hard-core baseball fan who uses a Yankees-Red Sox replay to time the cooking of his Thanksgiving turkey.”

Make these sorts of changes and it might not be necessary to use a replay…

Finally, since I began today with words from Ralph Waldo Emerson let me close with two more of his observations:

“Go put your creed into the deed, nor speak with double tongue.”

And …

“Sometimes a scream is better than a thesis.”

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



Football Friday 10/15/21

Ivan Pavlov recognized that dogs would begin to salivate whenever they sensed something around them that they had learned to associate with the arrival of food.  Here in Curmudgeon Central, I know that I need to limber up my keyboard fingers every Friday because I associate Fridays with Football Friday.  It is only when I have finished the rant and posted it that I can focus on the food my long-suffering wife has prepared for dinner which always causes me to salivate.

As usual, let me begin with a review of last week’s Six-Pack:

  • College = 1-1-0
  • NFL = 1-3-0
  • Total = 2-4-0

Those less-than-wonderful outcomes lead to these cumulative totals for the season:

  • College = 4-6-0
  • NFL = 9-10-1
  • Total = 13-16-1


College Football Commentary:


The Linfield College Wildcats extended their unbeaten record for 2021 to 4-0 with a convincing 42-7 victory over previously unbeaten Whitworth University.  That win is all the more impressive given the fact that Whitworth had given up only 18 points per game prior to last week’s loss to Linfield.  This weekend, Linfield will host Pacific University (Oregon) and Pacific brings a 3-1 record to the kickoff.  Go Wildcats!

Lest you doubt the top-to-bottom quality of the SEC, consider that ranks all 130 Division 1-A football teams every week.  In this week’s rankings here is how the SEC stacks up against the rest of the college football world”

  • The SEC has the #1 team (Georgia)
  • The SEC has 3 teams in the Top 10 (add Alabama and Kentucky)
  • The SEC has 6 teams in the Top 20 (add Ole Miss, Florida, Arkansas)
  • The SEC has 8 teams in the Top 30 (add Texas A&M, Auburn)
  • The SEC has 10 teams in the Top 40 (add Mississippi St. and Tennessee)

Other than finding Vandy on the schedule at most once a  year, SEC teams do not get a lot of “weeks off” …

I know this will never happen because there would be too many vested interests offended, but as of this week, I would not be offended if the CFP consisted of 2 SEC teams and 2 Big-10 teams.  Georgia, Alabama, Iowa and Ohio State – – as of this week – – would make for an interesting playoff bracket.  Maybe Michigan or Michigan St. could be exchanged for the two Big-10 teams named here; that would not offend me.  Here is the basis of my thinking:

  • This is a down year for the ACC.  Clemson has been unimpressive, and UNC has been downright underachieving.
  • The Big-12 is unimpressive.  Oklahoma is probably the best team there but many of their wins leave me saying, “Meh!
  • The Pac-12 is hardly a fearsome conference once you get beyond Oregon and maybe Arizona St.
  • Notre Dame and BYU are the best of the independents by a mile and neither of them is remotely deserving of a CFP berth.
  • So … why not two teams from the SEC and two from the Big-10?

And since I mentioned Georgia as the #1 ranked team in the country this week, let me present some stats about their defense in 2021:

  • In 6 games, Georgia’s opponents have only gotten to the Red Zone 8 times.
  • 128 of the 130 Division 1-A teams have given up as many or more TDs than Georgia has allowed Red Zone penetrations.
  • In 6 games, opponents have only scored 6 TDs on the Georgia defense.
  • The Bottom Line is: These guys are good!

USC fired head coach Clay Helton earlier this year, but things have not exactly turned toward the positive for the Trojans.  Consider:

  • On 25 September, USC lost to Oregon St. at home by a score of 45-27.  That was the first time Oregon St. had beaten USC in LA since 1960.  In 1960, Dwight Eisenhower was in the final days of his presidency, Egypt began building the Aswan Dam and Ben Hur won the Oscar for “Best Picture”.
  • On October 9, USC lost to Utah at home by a score of 42-26.  (See below)  That was the first time Utah had beaten USC in LA since 1916.  In 1916, Woodrow Wilson was ending his first term in office, World War I was raging in Europe and Georgia Tech beat Cumberland College in a football game by the score of 222-0.

[Aside:  As Warner Wolf was wont to say, “If you had Cumberland and 221 points … YOU LOST!!!]

Let me mention a team that might not be nearly as good as their 2-3 record might suggest.  La-Monroe’s two wins include one victory over Division 1-AA Jackson State; if you ignore that win, their record against Division 1-A opponents is 1-3.  Here’s the deal:

  • The combined score in those 3 losses is Opponents 159   La-Monroe 37.
  • The average margin of defeat is 40.6 points per game.

Just to keep you abreast of the contenders for this year’s Brothel Defense Award – – the team whose defense allows anyone and everyone to score at will:

  • UMass gives up 41.5 points per game
  • Kansas gives up 43.8 points per game.
  • Arkansas State gives up 46.7 points per game.

New Mexico and Colorado St. play this weekend in a clash of lesser lights in the Mountain West conference.  As is usually the case, it could be worse; it could be New Mexico versus winless UNLV.  Hold  your breath, that game will happen on 6 November…

Colorado will take on Arizona this week.  The PAC-12 is not near the top of the Power 5 and neither of these teams is anywhere near the top of the PAC-12.  Add to that the fact that Arizona’s starting QB is now out for the season after suffering an injury in the UCLA game last week.  For fans on the West Coast, find another game to focus on this weekend…

However, there is one game on the card for this weekend that looks to be even less interesting than those mentioned above.  Let me give you the line for the game and then make some comments:

Yale – 3 at UConn (45.5):  UConn is 0-7 in 2021 which is rather bad considering that no other team is 0-7 and that they lost last week to UMass.  However, now consider the shame associated with being the home team against an Ivy League opponent and being the underdog in that game.  Which is worse?  This game is the last remaining “soft spot” for the Huskies unless you think that Middle Tennessee is equivalently soft compared to Yale.  Here is the rest of the UConn schedule after this week:

  • Vs. Middle Tennessee
  • At Clemson
  • At UCF
  • Vs. Houston

If I were trying to hype this game, I would probably call it an “interstate rivalry” – – except the two schools are “rivals” in just about no sense of the word.

In SEC action last week…

Texas A&M 41  Alabama 38:  Clearly, this was the shocker of the week.  Alabama dominated the stats gaining 522 yards to 379 for the Aggies and Alabama converted 10 of 19 third down tries.  The Aggies returned a kickoff for a TD in the middle of the 3rd quarter.  Jimbo Fisher is the first former assistant under Nick Saban to beat Saban head-to-head.

Georgia 34  Auburn 10:  The Georgia defense gave up twice as many points as usual but held Auburn to 39 yards rushing on 28 attempts.  Auburn led 3-0 halfway through the first quarter but did not score again until late in the third quarter.  By that time, Georgia had 24 points on the scoreboard.  However, hold your breath here; Georgia gave up a TD in this game and the Bulldogs’ defense just does not do that very often (see above).

Ole Miss 52  Arkansas 51:  There were 41 points scored in the 4th quarter alone here.  The total offense for these two teams was 1287 yards – – 674 of those yards were on the ground.  Both teams averaged 6 or more yards per carry.  Needless to say, it was not a great day for tackling.  There were 59 first downs recorded.  The game ended with Arkansas failing on a two-point conversion that would have won the game.  Phew…!

Florida 42  Vandy 0:  Florida called off the dogs and played a scoreless 4th quarter.

Kentucky 42  LSU 21:  Looking at the score, you might think Kentucky dominated the stat sheet – – but that is not the case.  Total offense for Kentucky was 474 yards to 408 yards for LSU.  Kentucky did dominate the ground game with 329 yards rushing on 43 carries.  LSU did not score until midway into the 3rd quarter and posted two TDs in the 4th quarter when the game was out of reach.  Just for the record, the last time Kentucky was 6-0 was back in 1950 – – the same year that Oregon State beat USC in Los Angeles (see above).

In games that matter to Big-10 folks …

Ohio State 66  Maryland  17:  Running up scores is important for Ohio State; it could impress the CFP Selection Committee.

Michigan St.  31  Rutgers  13:  Michigan State remains undefeated at 6-0.  Looking ahead, the Spartans still have Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State on their schedule.

Wisconsin 24  Illinois 0:  When a strong defense plays a middling offense, this is the not-so-surprising result…

Iowa 23  Penn State 20:  The Hawkeyes are 6-0 to start the 2021 season and had to rally from a 20-10 deficit midway through the third quarter for the win.  This was a defensive game all along.  Total offense for Iowa was 305 yards and total offense for Penn State was 287 yards.  Penn State turned the ball over 4 times – – all on INTs – – and there were 14 punts in the game.

Michigan 32  Nebraska 29:  The Wolverines are 6-0 to start the 2021 season.  The Huskers trailed 13-0 at the half but rallied to lead 22-19 at the end of 3 quarters.  But Michigan staged a rally of its own in the 4th quarter to eke out a win here.  The margin of victory came on a field goal set up by a Michigan fumble recovery late in the game.

In ACC action…

UVa 34  Louisville 33:  Louisville led 30-13 to start the 4th quarter.  The Cavaliers capped their late rally with a drive of 80 yards on 12 plays in the final three minutes to win this one.

Florida St.  35  UNC  25:  Last week after the Seminoles won their first game of the season, I wondered if that was an awakening or a mirage.  Well, UNC fans will probably say it was an awakening.  Florida State scored two long TDs – – a 53-yard run and a 33- yard pass.

Wake Forest 40  Syracuse 37  (OT):  Wake remains undefeated in 2021; the last time Wake started a season at 6-0 was in 1944.  Syracuse won the stat battle gaining 513 yards to “only” 432 yards for Wake Forest.  Syracuse got a field goal in the first possession of the overtime period, but Wake countered with a 22-yard scoring pass for the win.

Notre Dame 32  Va Tech 29:  The Irish are 5-1; give them credit for pulling out close games.  This one was decided by a 48-yard field goal with 17 seconds left in the game.  The Irish have won five games this year; three of those 5 games were 3-point wins; you cannot accuse Note Dame of “choking” in close contests.  The Irish got a TD to tie the game at 29 with two-and-a-half minutes left in the game; Notre Dame’s defense got a three and out; then the offense to set up the winning field goal.

In the Big-12 …

Oklahoma 55  Texas 48:  The Big-12 retains an unbeaten team, but it went down to the end.  Texas led the game 28-7 in the first half and  41-30 at the start of the 4th quarter.  The total offense in this game was 1178 yards.  The Sooners averaged more yards per carry (8.3) than they did yards per pass attempt (7.3).  Imagine that you are part of the Texas defensive unit and you saw your offense gain 517 yards for the day and score 48 points – – and it comes out as a loss in the record book.  Talk about depressing.  By the way, even with all that offense on display, there were 10 punts in the game.

For West Coast Fans, some thoughts on PAC-12 games…

Washington St.  31  Oregon St.  24:  So, now the Beavers also have in in-conference loss.  PAC-12 games are enigmatic if nothing else…

Utah 42  USC 26:  This game was a massive beat-down despite the score.  Utah led 35-3 at the start of the 4th quarter.

UCLA 34  Arizona 16:  The Wildcats are 0-5 for the season and are not playing competitive football in the PAC-12.  Their conference losses have been by an average of 20 points per game.

Arizona St.  28  Stanford 10:  Got that one wrong in last week’s Six-Pack.  My bad!

In miscellaneous games from last week…

Boise St.  26  BYU 17:  That is the first loss of the season for BYU.  Boise St. produced 90 yards more offense in the game; they limited BYU to 4 of 10 on third-down tries and 1 of 3 on fourth-down attempts.  In addition, the Boise St. defense forced 4 turnovers in the game.  It is amazing that the score was this close.

Cincy 52  Temple 3:  On the stat sheet, Cincy more than doubled Temple on offense.  The Bearcats gained 537 yards to 226 for the Owls.

SMU 31  Navy 24:  This was not the best outcome for Cincy fans; they would have preferred a much bigger win over Navy whose record is now 1-4.  Nevertheless, SMU remains undefeated at 6-0.

Coastal Carolina 52  Arkansas St. 21:  Last week produced another blowout win for Coastal over another weak opponent; Arkansas St. is 1-5 and is the leader as of this week to win the Brothel Defense Award.

Nevada 55  New Mexico St. 28:  This game was not nearly this close.  Nevada led 52-7 at the start of the 4th quarter and then the Aggies scored 3 of the more meaningless TDs of the season in the final stanza.

Texas St.  33  South Alabama 31  (4OT):  This was a strange game indeed.  The game was tied at 24 at the end of regulation and each team scored a TD in the first OT.  Then the next two OT periods saw both teams failing to score a point.

And saving the worst for last…

UMass 27  UConn 13:  The Stink Bowl happened… The UConn defense surrendered 407 yards to a bad football team last week.  Remember when Randy Edsall “resigned” after the first game of the year, they put the defensive coordinator in charge.  I guess that means the student equipment manager was too busy taking organic chem lab to take on the head coaching duties too.


College Football Games of Interest:


(Fri Nite) Clemson – 13 at Syracuse (45):  Syracuse is surprisingly good this year and Clemson is unusually bad this year.  Nonetheless, the oddsmakers see this as a double-digit win for the Tigers.  If I were to play this game, I would probably take it to go OVER – – but that is NOT a selection for this week.

(Fri Nite) Cal at Oregon – 13 (54.5):  This game looks as if it could be a blowout – – but then again so did the Stanford/Oregon game…

Miami at UNC – 7 (64):  If you wanted to make a list of the ten most underachieving teams for this year based on pre-season expectations, I think both of these squads would be on the list.

Pitt – 5 at Va Tech (57):  Pitt is not a reliable team and Va Tech is not a reliable team.  Where those numbers came from is a mystery to me…

Texas Tech – 17 at Kansas (68):  Tech is 4-2 for the year but when they have a bad day and lose, they get slaughtered.  The two losses have come by a combined 56 points.  Kansas just stinks…

Michigan St. – 4 at Indiana (48.5):  Sparty is 6-0 and only gives 4 points to an Indiana team that is 2-3.  Moreover, look at the three losses for the Hoosiers:

  • Iowa 34  Indiana 6
  • Cincy 38  Indiana 24
  • Penn State 24  Indiana 0

Even though Michigan St. might be looking ahead at three tough games on its schedule starting next week, I think they can keep it together here to cover 4 points; I’ll take Sparty to win and cover on the road; put it in the Six-Pack.

Army at Wisconsin – 14 (38.5):  The Badgers lead the nation in run defense allowing only 41.6 yards per game on the ground.  Army is second in the nation in rushing offense gaining 318.2 yards per game on the ground.

NC State – 3 at BC (52):  Both teams are 4-1 but BC’s loss is in-conference so there may be more urgency on that sideline this weekend.

UCF at Cincy – 21 (57):  Cincy needs to continue to win big week after week…

Rutgers – 2 at Northwestern (45):  Rutgers is on a 3-game losing streak.  However, those losses came at the hands of undefeated Michigan, Ohio State and undefeated Michigan State.  Northwestern comes to this game after getting waxed by Nebraska two weeks ago by a score of 56-7.  One of my cohorts who is the “Chief Logistics Officer” for our Las Vegas trips has made some tidy sums fading Rutgers for the past 5 years or so.  He may be surprised to see this, but I think Rutgers can win this game handily – even on the road; I’ll take Rutgers and lay the points; put it in the Six-Pack.

Colorado St. – 11 at New Mexico (45):  Two bad teams and a double-digit spread?  No thanks…

Arizona at Colorado – 6.5 (45):  Two bad teams…

Air Force at Boise St. – 4 (52):  Air Force leads the nation in rushing yards per game at 341.3 yards per game and also in rushing attempts per game at 66.5 rushing attempts per game.  Boise St. ranks 97th in the nation in rush defense allowing 180.2 yards per game.

Arizona St. at Utah “pick ‘em” (50.5):  This is an important game.  Both teams are undefeated in conference games – – the only PAC-12 teams that can say that.

Liberty – 33 at La-Monroe (57):  I said above in the commentary that La-Monroe tends to lose games by large margins.  But against Liberty?  By almost 5 TDs?

Texas A&M – 9 at Missouri (59.5):  A classic opportunity for a letdown game by the Aggies after beating Alabama last week and now going on the road and playing a clearly inferior opponent.  Be careful…

Oklahoma St. at Texas – 4 (60):  Oklahoma St. is undefeated; Texas has lost twice – – one loss is in conference.  Texas opened as a 6.5-point favorite here and the line has dropped slowly as the week wore on.  Texas can score but does not defend.  Oklahoma St wins with their defense and presents an anemic offense.  Interesting…

TCU at Oklahoma – 13.5 (63):  Oklahoma is the other undefeated Big-12 team; TCU is 1-1 in conference play and 3-2 overall.  This has the makings of a shootout; the losing side might score 35 points; I like this game to go OVER; put it in the Six-Pack.

Alabama – 17 at Mississippi St. (57.5):  The question here is how Alabama will react to its loss last week to Texas A&M.  One answer is that they just might bludgeon Mississippi St. to death here…

Purdue at Iowa – 11.5 (43):  Here is another possible letdown game as the Hawkeyes exhale after a close and tough win over Penn State last week…

Kentucky at Georgia – 21.5 (44.5):  This is the College Game of the Week notwithstanding the three-touchdown spread.  Both teams are undefeated and ranked in the Top 10.  Given that low Total Line and the healthy spread, the oddsmakers do not think Kentucky is going to score much at all.  Kentucky runs the ball well but is not a big-time passing team.  A one-dimensional offense against the Georgia defense is not an appealing sight.

Florida – 12 at LSU (59):  Talk about an unusual year, LSU is in last place in the SEC West at mid-season.  That has not happened often in recent history.

Ole Miss – 2.5 at Tennessee (83):  That is not a typo on the Total Line; one sportsbook has it at 84 points this morning.  That Total Line opened as low as 78.5 points at one Internet sports book, and it has been rising steadily all week long.  It was at 80 on Tuesday; it then went through 81 to 82 on Wednesday and hit 83 in mid-morning on Thursday.

Iowa St. – 6.5 at K-State (51):  I know I sound like a broken record here, but K-State is a much tougher opponent at home than on the road.  The Cyclones have lost the last seven times they have played at K-State.

Auburn at Arkansas – 4.5 (54):  Auburn has an in-conference loss but still has a head-to-head meeting with SEC West leader, Alabama.  Arkansas has 2 SEC losses already.  This could be a great game…

Stanford – 1.5 at Washington St. (52.5):  Two teams that play up and down from week to week…

Hawaii at Nevada – 14 (60):  Hawaii is on the road against a good Nevada team.  I would imagine that this spread would be half the number if the game were in Hawaii…


NFL Commentary:


            When the Jags lost to the Titans last weekend, it was their 20th consecutive loss going back to Week 1 of last season.  They are now one of only three teams in the history of the NFL to lose 20 or more games in succession.  The Jags next milestone is the expansion Tampa Bay Bucs in the mid-70s who lost their first 26 NFL games.  Here are the next 6 games for the Jags:

  • Vs. Dolphins
  • BYE Week
  • At Seahawks
  • Vs. Bills
  • At Colts
  • Vs Niners
  • Vs Falcons

I do not see any games on this list that will have the Jags as favorites although the spread for this week’s game against the Dolphins is very thin.  However, later this season the Jags get back-to-back games that both look winnable:

  • December 19:  Texans at Jags
  • December 26:  Jags at Jets

If the Jags arrive at that Jets game on 26 December without winning any of their games along the way, the game in NY will be the one the Jags will need to set a new NFL record of 30 straight losses.  Not saying it will happen – – but it could…

Does anyone recall back in 2016 when lots of columnists and commentators were worried about the demise of the NFL?  That was the time of the Colin Kaepernick controversy and that was the time when a week did not go by without some hoary tale related to CTE such that people concluded that mothers would not let their kids play football.  TV ratings dropped; some attributed that to the Presidential election campaign in 2016; others saw it as the beginning of the impending decline of the NFL.

Well, the league survived 2016 and it survived the COVID-19 intrusion into the 2020 season, and it has fans back in the stand for 2021.  Those fans are not at home watching games so if anything, the TV ratings might be expected to go down ever so slightly.  But that is not the case.  According to Nielsen, the NFL’s TV ratings for 2021 are up just under 17% as compared to 2020 and are higher than they have been since 2014.  I am not trying to say that the NFL is invincible and will never go into eclipse – – but it is not likely to happen in the next 5-10 years.

The Cincinnati Bengals were once a franchise that was an easy target for scorn; you could rely on them to do something stupid to thwart whatever chance(s) they may have had to achieve something positive in any NFL season.  My sense is that we should take a hiatus from that sort of commentary:

  • As long as Joe Burrow is able to play QB, the team has someone at the most important position in the NFL who is competent and poised.
  • JaMarr Chase looks to be the real deal at WR.  If he can avoid the nonsensical and counter-productive self-promotion that impeded Odell Beckham, Jr., Chase should become a force majeure.
  • Zac Taylor appears to be growing into the job of “head coach in the NFL”.  If that continues to be the case and the GM  there – Duke Tobin – does not totally screw up on upcoming drafts, the Bengals seem to be on a positive vector heading.

Moving along to comments about games last weekend …

Falcons 27  Jets 20:    The Falcons almost doubled the Jets on offense gaining 450 yards on offense to only 230 for the Jets.  And yet, it was a one-score game.  The Falcons had the ball for almost 36 minutes and recorded 11 more first downs than the Jets.  And still it was a one-score game.  The Falcons converted 9 of 14 third down conversions and 1 of 1 on fourth down.  And still it was a one-score game.  The Falcons led 20-3 at halftime and allowed the Jets to make this a one-score game.  The more things change …

Zach Wilson threw an INT in the game.  That means Wilson has now thrown one or more INTs in each of his five first games in the NFL.  As you might imagine, that is not a good stat, and that stat puts him in some seriously mediocre company along with these folks from the last 10 years or so:

  • Blake Bortles
  • DeShone Kizer
  • Zach Mettenberger

For the record, I believe Zach Wilson will be far more successful and far more long-lived in the NFL than any of those other three QBs – – but he really needs to get a grip on his throws to the “wrong-colored jerseys”.

Pats 25  Texans 22:  This was a popular score on Sunday.  The Texans seemed to be in total control of the game here leading 22-9 early in the third quarter.  The Pats had a chance to take the lead early in the 4th quarter but missed a PAT.  Nevertheless, Nick Folk redeemed himself by hitting a game winning field goal with about 15 seconds left in the game.  The stat sheet was as even as the game on the field.  The big difference was deep into the stat sheets:

  • The Texans missed two PATs.
  • The Texans missed a makeable field goal.
  • The Texans had a punt that went all of zero yards.

Until last weekend, I thought that the Lions were the only team capable of such ineptitude to lose a game…

Packers 25  Bengals 22 (OT):  The game was decided late in OT when the Packers’ kicker, Mason Crosby, hit a 49-yard field goal – – but that is an ironic end to the game.  In the final 2 minutes of regulation time both Crosby and the Bengals’ kicker Evan McPherson missed game winning field goal tries.  Then in OT, Mason missed twice, and McPherson missed once again too.  The game had a distinctive “Alphonse and Gaston” aura around it.  Lost in all that “drama” at the end of the game was the fact that Davante Adams had a spectacular day gaining 206 yards receiving and scoring a TD in the game.

Steelers 27  Broncos 19:  The Broncos entered the game 3-1 on the season but it was the NFL schedule maker who was more than partly responsible for that record because those three wins were over the Jets, Giants and Jags.  The Broncos did not play like a 3-1 team here.  For example, the Broncos committed a delay of game penalty on the first play of the game.  I do not think I ever saw that happen before.  The Steelers dominated the first 3 quarters of the game and then held on to get the win.  They needed an INT in the end zone on a fourth-and-goal play in the final minute to assure the win.

Bucs 45  Dolphins 17:  The Dolphins led 10-7 at the end of the first quarter but after that, the game was simply an organized ass-kicking particularly in the 4th quarter.  The Dolphins’ running game was shut down gaining a total of 36 yards on 9 rushing attempts for the game.  The Bucs had 558 yards on offense to 301 for the Dolphins.

Vikings 19  Lions 17:  Once again, the Lions lost by the score of 19-17 and the difference came on a last second field goal of more than 50 yards.  It happened in the late 60s once and then it happened to the Lions twice in the last 3 weeks – – a game ending field goal to make the score Opponent 19 and Lions 17.The Vikings gained 97 more yards on offense than the Lions and yet the Lions accumulated 4 more first downs in the game.  However, most of the Lions offense was in the middle of the field; their first trip into the Red Zone came in the final two minutes of the game.

Eagles 21  Panthers 18:  The Panthers had the ball for 35 minutes in the game, but Sam Darnold threw 3 INTs here.  Jalen Hurts did not have a great day passing – – 22 for 37 for 198 yards with 0 TDs and 1 INT – – but he ran for 2 TDs in the second half allowing the Eagles to come back from a 12-point deficit.  A blocked punt by the Eagles late in the 4th quarter set up the second of those TD rushes by Hurts.  The Eagles had 177 yards in their final four possessions of the game; prior to that, they had amassed a grand total of 96 yards for the day.  But they won the game…

Saints 33  Football Team 22:  Well, that self-proclaimed elite defense for the Football Team gave up 30+ points once again.  That makes 3 weeks in a row – – and it gave up 29 points the week before that 3-game streak began.  The Washington offense did its job; it was even with the Saints in total offense and Washington held the ball for almost thirty-six-and-a-half minutes in the game.  The difference in the game is summarized here:

  • Red Zone Efficiency:  Washington 2 TDs in 5 visits; New Orleans 2 TDs in 2 visits
  • Goal to Go Efficiency:  Washington 2 for 4  New Orleans  0 for 0.

Jameis Winston was as inconsistent as fans have come to expect from Jameis Winston.  He turned the ball over twice and he threw 4 TDs in the game including a 50-yard Hail Mary completion for a TD to end the first half.  Jameis Winston is a QB who can throw his team back into and well out of a game on any given Sunday.  And sometimes, he does both of those things on the same Sunday…

Bears 20  Raiders 9:  This was an all-out soiling of the bed sheets by the Raiders.  I cannot bring myself to put it any kindlier.  Playing a rookie QB whose passing total for the day was 111 yards, the Raiders could not dominate the game with their offense.  Moreover, the Raiders’ defense forced zero turnovers and allowed an anemic Bears’ offensive unit to convert 6 of 13 third-down tries.  The Raiders also recorded 10 penalties for a total of 82 yards. And remember, Raider Nation:

  • This pathetic showing was against the sorry-assed Bears.

Cowboys 44  Giants 20:  The Giants seemed as if they would make this game interesting until Saquon Barkley injured an ankle, Kenny Golladay went out with an injury and Daniel Jones had to leave the game with what certainly looked like a concussion at the time.  After that, the outcome was not even remotely in doubt.  The Cowboys were 8 for 13 on third down conversions and just wore out the Giants’ defense.  Mike Glennon replaced Jones at QB for the Giants and threw for 196 yards and a TD – – but he also threw 2 INTs.

Titans 37  Jags 19:  The Jags had a significant advantage on offense in the game gaining 454 yards to 368 for the Titans.  Normally, that does not lead one to think of a scoreboard outcome like this one.  The differences here were:

  • Two turnovers by the Jags
  • Goal to Go Efficiency:  Jax 3 of 5  Titans  3 of 3

Nevertheless, this is another game where the Titans’ defense was sub-standard; somehow, the team needs to make some corrections in that phase of the game; the Titans lost the offensive stats for the game to the Jags – – not exactly an offensive juggernaut.  The message for the defense is along the lines of “C’mon man!”.

Chargers 47  Browns 42.:  I read a report that said the Elias Sports Bureau had a unique stat for this game.

  • The Browns are the first team in NFL history to lose a game in which they scored 40 or more points AND did not turn the ball over at least once.
  • Also, the Browns are now the first team to lose a game where it scored 40 or more points, gained 500 yards offense or more and did not turn the ball over once.
  • Until last week, NFL teams that had those sorts of offensive stats were 442-0.

The combined total offense (1024 yards) by these teams made it seem as if this was a college game; the fourth quarter alone saw 41 points go up on the scoreboard.  Two stats that show the difference here:

  • Red Zone Efficiency:  Browns were 3 of 6  Chargers were 4 of 4.
  • Chargers converted 6 of 13 first down tries AND 3 of 3 fourth-down tries.

Bills 38  Chiefs 20:  This was as dominant a win as the score would indicate.  The Chiefs’ season seems to be in trouble because their offense cannot find enough ways to cover for the humongous shortcomings of the Chiefs’ defense.  Clyde Edwards-Helaire had to limp off for X-Rays and Travis Kelce missed the final few plays of the game after taking a big hit; that will enhance the offensive unit not at all.  Meanwhile, the Bills were hitting on all cylinders – offense, defense and special teams.

Cardinals 17  Niners 10:  This game was 10-7 in favor of the Cards as the fourth quarter began; it was close from beginning to end.  Trey Lance was the QB for the Niners and he played well – – for a rookie.  Here are his stat lines:

  • 15 for 29 for 192 yards with 0 TDs and 1 INT
  • He also carried 16 times for 89 yards

Here are the stats that stand out to me as to why the Niners lost the game.  They were only 3 of 11 on third-down conversions AND they were a miserable 1 for 5 on fourth down conversions.


NFL Games:


The Bye Weeks begin this week with four teams sitting out action until next week.

  1. Falcons:  Flying home from London with a win to set their record at 2-3 which assures that they will remain in last place in the NFL South next week.
  2. Jets:  Flying home from London with a loss – – but with a hope that the Dolphins lose this week temporarily elevating the Jets out of the AFC East basement.
  3. Niners:  The injury to Russell Wilson gives Niners’ fans hope that the Niners will not finish last in the NFC West.
  4. Saints:  They get a week to savor last week’s win over the Football Team and hope to stay within striking distance of the Bucs in the NFC South.

            I watched the Bucs beat the Eagles 28-22 last night.  There was a controversial call by officials late in the 4th quarter of the game for taunting against the Eagles and it could well have had a material effect on the game outcome.  Let me take it out of the realm of “game-deciding” and simply say that it was a ticky-tack call at best; it is probably 100% correct as per the wording of the taunting rule and the league’s point of emphasis for enforcing it.  As a former official – basketball not football – I know it was also not a call that would ever have been made in a showcase  game like the Super Bowl.

            Speaking of penalty calls in the game, when the 4th quarter started, the Eagles had gained fewer yards on offense than they had gained as a result of penalties assessed to the Bucs.  The Eagles benefited from two pass interference calls of 35 yards or greater; so, it is a bit difficult to assert that the zebras stole the game from the hometown heroes.

Miami – 3 at Jax (47) [Game is in London]:  Recall what I said last week about the NFL shipping its bad games across the pond to the UK.  Well, once again the London Game is  the Dog-Breath Game of the Week.  The teams bring a combined record of 1-9 to the coin toss.  As the referee greets the captains, he may be wondering to himself what he did to piss off the suits in the NFL Front Office such that they assigned him and his crew to this dirtbag game.

Houston at Indy – 10 (43):  These are two enigmatic teams.  The Colts are 1-4 and if they win this game, they could well wake up on Monday morning and be only one game behind the Titans for first place in the AFC South.  Of course, the same applies to the 1-4 Texans but there is no real chance that the Texans could keep up that façade for the rest of the NFL season.

Green Bay – 5 at Chicago (44.5):  The Bears’ defense is for real; the Packers’ offense is for real.  When those units are on the field, this game will be interesting.  When the Bears have the ball … not so much.

KC – 6.5 at Washington (54.5):  I know it is early in the season, but I think this is a must-win game for the Chiefs.  The stats say these are the two worst defenses in the NFL as of this week.  If that is indeed the case, then you have to ask yourself the following question:

  • Which offensive unit is better equipped to exploit the “bad defense” on the other side of the line of scrimmage?

I realize that the Chiefs’ offense has not been nearly the juggernaut that it has been in the past couple of seasons but barring a complete lack of contribution from Travis Kelce, I think you would have to lean heavily toward the Chiefs’ offensive unit as compared to the Football Team’s offense.  Having gone through all that logic and rational analysis, I will pass on making a selection against the spread here because neither team is reliable from week to week.  However, I do think that there will be “Points Galore” in the game; I like the game to go OVER; put it in the Six-Pack.

Minnesota – 1 at Carolina (45):  The spread is all over the place on this game.  As of this morning, I can find it as high as 2.5 points and as low as “Pick ‘em”.  Moreover, the line has been gyrating in that range for the entire week.  My guess is that the ebb and flow have to do with the rumors about the availability of Christian McCaffrey for the game.  Not having any inside sources to let me know if he can make a go of it, I’ll just check the score on my sports app and think about other things.

Chargers at Baltimore – 2.5 (51):  Both QBs in this game are deservedly in the discussion for NFL MVP as of the early part of the 2021 season.  I am not sure that the Ravens are the better team here, but I am confident that the Ravens will enjoy a robust home field advantage.  I am tempted to take the OVER – – but not enough to give in to that temptation.

Cincy – 3 at Detroit (46.5):  Joe Burrow is designated as healthy enough to play this week; the Bengals fought toe-to-toe with the Packers last week; the Bengals’ defense is good – not great.  The Lions are “scrappy” which is a polite way of saying they are “crappy”, but we do not wish to be insulting.  I like the Bengals to roll here and win comfortably even on the road; I’ll take the Bengals to win and cover; put it in the Six-Pack.

Rams – 9 at Giants (48.5):  I do not know if Daniel Jones can play in this game – and I am not sure the Giants’ coaching staff knows for sure either.  If he can play and play normally, this game will be close because the Rams’ defense has been spotty this year and because this is a body clock game for the Rams.  My suspicion is that Jones will  play but will not play to his potential due to “brain fog” from the blow to the head he took last week.  There are too many loose ends here to make a selection in the game…

Arizona at Cleveland – 3 (49):  Clearly, this is the Game of the Week.  The Cards are the last remining undefeated team in the NFL and the Browns are 3-2 putting them a game behind the division-leading Ravens.  These are two good teams, and this is a game that is meaningful to both of them.

Las Vegas at Denver – 3.5 (44):  The “Ghost of Gruden’s Past” lingers over this game.  What level of energy/imperative will the new team hierarchy bring to the sidelines?  Just move on and find another game to put your hard-earned money down on…

Dallas – 3.5 at New England (51):  Any questions about Dak Prescott’s ankle injury and/or about his putative shoulder problems from training camp have to be put aside by now.  When he is in the game, the Cowboys are “in the game”.  The Pats show signs of life, but I do not think they are nearly as ready for prime time as they were a couple of years ago.

(Sun Nite) Seattle at Pittsburgh – 5 (43):  I am on record that I believe Ben Roethlisberger is in the end stage of his career and that he is no longer the same QB that will eventually get inducted into the Hall of Fame.  I continue to believe that; AND I also believe that the diminished Ben Roethlisberger that will take the field on Sunday night is still a better QB than Geno Smith who will start for the Seahawks because Russell Wilson cannot.  Oh, and the Steelers’ defense is better than the Seahawks’ defense too.  I like the Steelers to win and cover at home; put it in the Six-Pack.

(Mon Nite) Buffalo – 5.5 at Tennessee (54):  Were it not for the Cards/Browns game, this would have been my Game of the Week.  The Titans will be primed at home for this game so I will avoid making a selection here – – but I really do like the way the Bills have been playing for the last couple of weeks.

So, let me summarize this week’s Six-Pack:

  1. Michigan St. – 4 over Indiana
  2. Rutgers – 2 over Northwestern
  3. TCU/Oklahoma OVER 63
  4. Chiefs/Football Team OVER 54.5
  5. Bengals – 3 over Lions
  6. Steelers – 5 over Seahawks

            Finally, this week is the start of NFL Bye Weeks that will persist for the next 8 weeks.  Scott Ostler of the SF Chronicle is not a fan of BYE Weeks to put it mildly. Here is his assessment of BYE Weeks:

“The worst idea since sliced bread, sliced the long way.”

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