The soap opera, Days of Our Lives, has been running for about 50 years and every Friday the writers have to concoct some tension that will draw the audience back on the following Monday. Here in Curmudgeon Central, there is a Friday tradition in the Fall called Football Friday. I need not create any drama there; the football gods do that for me. And so, here is the next iteration of Football Friday.
I shall begin with a review of last week’s Six-Pack; the results were not stellar, but the results represent an improvement over the first two weeks:
- College = 0-2-0
- NFL = 3-1-0
- Combined = 3-3-0
The cumulative results for the season to date are:
- College = 2-5-0
- NFL = 5-5-1
- Combined = 7-10-1
I got ahead of myself last Friday saying that Linfield would play Puget Sound last week. Actually, the Wildcats had a BYE Week and will travel to meet the Puget Sound Loggers. Puget Sound is winless for the season in 3 games; Linfield is 2-0. Go Wildcats!
As of this week, the three teams in contention for The Brothel Defense Award – that is the defense that allows anyone to score easily – are:
- Rice giving up 43.5 points per game
- Akron giving up 44.5 points per game
- UMass giving up 47.8 points per game
Earlier this week and while it was still September, Georgia Southern fired the third college coach of the season. Chad Lunsford takes his place behind Clay Helton (USC) and Randy Edsall (UConn) as coaches unable to get out of September without getting the axe.
There is a lot of “untraditional stuff” that seems to be happening in college football in 2021 and nowhere is that more apparent than in the ACC. The teams that we have become accustomed to seeing at the top are struggling more than usual and some of the also-rans look as if they just might do some damage in the standings there. Consider:
- Clemson has already lost twice and against Division 1-A opposition, the Tigers are averaging a meager 12.7 points per game.
- Miami was supposed to be a contender in the ACC this year; they are 2-2 as of today and the two wins were against Division 1-AA teams and the two losses were blowouts against Division 1-A teams.
- UNC has lost twice so far this year to Va Tech and to Ga Tech; it’s a good thing they did not schedule an out-of-conference game against Texas Tech.
- Boston College is 4-0 this year. They will get an interesting test this week playing at Clemson.
- NC State is 3-1 and owns one of the wins over Clemson.
- Va Tech is 3-1 and has beaten UNC. A big upcoming game for the Holies is on October 9th when they will host Notre Dame.
- Wake Forest is 4-0 and both of its ACC wins have been by 20 points or more. The Deacons will have a tough schedule segment in November when they visit UNC then host NC State and then go to Clemson in consecutive weeks.
In SEC action…
LSU 28 Mississippi St. 25: LSU led 21-10 at the start of the 4th quarter and held on to win.
Georgia 62 Vandy 0: It did not take long for the outcome here to become apparent; Georgia scored 35 points in the first quarter. The total offense for Vandy was 77 yards for the game – – 53 rushing and 24 passing. Vandy only had 4 first downs in the game; they turned the ball over 3 times and punted 9 times.
Arkansas 20 Texas A&M 10: Arkansas outgained Texas A&M 441 yards to 272 yards in this game. The Razorbacks ran the ball very well against an Aggies’ defense that has a couple of potential first round picks out there on the defensive unit; Arkansas gained 191 yards rushing on 47 tries allowing them to control the pace of the game and the number of possessions. The game was not artistic by any means; there were 21 penalties enforced in the game. Arkansas is 4-0 for the season.
Florida 38 Tennessee 14: Tennessee kept it close for half the game; the score as 17-14 at halftime with Florida in the lead. Then the Gators got serious…
Alabama 63 So Mississippi 14: The game was not this close; the score was 49-7 as the 4th quarter got underway.
In ACC games …
NC St. 27 Clemson 21 (2 OT): Shocking! This is the second loss for Clemson; it will be miraculous if they even get a sniff o the CFP this year. If they are even mentioned for the CFP late in the season, it will be due to nostalgia on the part of the people doing the mentioning. The last time NC State beat Clemson was in 2011; last week, the Wolfpack dominated the stat sheet gaining 386 yards offense to 214 yards for Clemson. The Wolfpack ran up 31 first downs to only 10 for the Tigers; State was also 11 for 21 on third down conversions and State snapped the ball 96 times on offense compared to only 49 offensive plays for Clemson. The officials called 24 penalties in the game; 13 of them were against Clemson. This was an organized ass-kicking – – except on the scoreboard.
Louisville 31 Florida St. 23. Louisville scored 31 points in the first half and was shut out in the second half. The Seminoles won the stat battle 441 yards to 395 yards, but they fell behind 17-0 at the end of the 1st quarter and were never able to catch up. The FSU defense did not really hold up its end of the stick; they allowed Louisville to convert 11 of 20 third down situations. Louisville is 3-1 for the season and FSU is 0-4.
Duke 52 Kansas 33: The Jayhawks led at halftime 24-21 and were obliterated in the second half.
Ga Tech 45 UNC 22: So much for UNC as a top 10 – – or even a Top 30 team. Tech held down Clemson’s offense and now has limited the UNC offense to 369 yards and only 62 yards on the ground. One important stat for the game is that UNC turned the ball over 3 times via a fumble and Ga Tech did not lose a possession in the game.
Wake Forest 37 UVa 17: The Deacons led from the start and won the game handily. The Cavaliers had more offense in the game (504 yards to 473 yards) and 7 more first downs in the game. In terms of 3rd down efficiency, Virginia was 9 for 17. So, how did they lose?
- They committed 11 penalties
- They turned the ball over twice – – and the Deacons never turned the ball over.
In games relevant to the Big-10:
Bowling Green 14 Minnesota 10: Not a good look for the Big-10 losing to a MAC team.
Iowa 24 Colorado St. 14: This looks like a game where Iowa played down to the level of the competition. Iowa is 4-0 for this season and Colorado St. is 1-3. Worse than that, Colorado St. lost to Vandy earlier this year; this is not a “signature win” for the Hawkeyes.
Notre Dame 41 Wisconsin 13: The score was 10-10 as the fourth quarter started. Wisconsin took the lead at 13-10 and then the roof caved in on the Badgers. Notre Dame cannot run the ball; they rank 122nd in the country in rushing as of today averaging 2.3 yards per carry. In his game they had 3 yards rushing on 33 attempts. However, Wisconsin turned the ball over 5 times in the game. Notre Dame’s defense had a good day. Wisconsin has a power running game and the Irish held the Badgers to less than 3 yards per carry.
- By the way, the Wisconsin QB is named Graham Mertz. Before you ask, he is not the grandson of Fred and Ethel Mertz.
Michigan 20 Rutgers 13: Michigan led 20-3 at halftime and was then shut out in the second half. It is never a good thing to lose a game, but Rutgers was on the road and playing an opponent that used to be considered in a totally different orbit than Rutgers. And yet, this game had only a one-score difference. Rutgers will not win the Big 10, but Rutgers is no longer the poster child for football ineptitude at the Division 1-A that it was just a few years ago.
Ohio State 59 Akron 7: Ohio State must blow out lesser opponents and win games by large margins if they are to regain any CFP relevancy. Here is the outcome of such a situation where the Buckeyes face an overmatched opponent. Akron actually led 7-0 in this game perhaps raising false hopes of an upset.
In games involving Big-12 teams:
Texas 70 Texas Tech 35: Total offense for both teams here was 1157 yards. Texas was 10 for 13 on third down and then 2 for 3 on 4th down. You would think from these stats that the Texas Tech defense is down at the bottom nationally. Not so. The Red Raiders rank 75th in the country – – out of 130 Division 1-A schools – in total defense and rank 59th nationally in yards per play allowed. Texas simply blew their doors off here.
Baylor 31 Iowa State 29: The Cyclones were ranked in the Top 15 at the start of the game; Baylor was 3-0 but against “suspect competition”. That is a second loss for Iowa St. meaning they will not be considered for the CFP later this season and may not be in a New Year’s Day bowl game either. The Cyclones dominated the stat sheet gaining 479 yards to only 284 yards for the Bears. Oklahoma is still the big dog in the Big-12, but maybe Baylor is the dark horse there? Maybe we will have to wait until November 13th when the Sooners visit Waco to find out?
Oklahoma St. 31 Kansas St 20: The Wildcats fell behind 21-10 at the end of the first quarter and never were able to get past that beginning of the game. The Cowboys won the stat battel as well as the game gaining 481 yards to only 260 yards for K-State.
Oklahoma 16 W. Va 13: The Mountaineers completed their scoring for the day with five-and-a-half minutes left in this game; they led 13-10 at that point. The Sooners tied it with a field goal and then won the game with a 29-yard field goal as time expired. Wins are infinitely better than losses, but this game is not a feather in the cap of Oklahoma, and it could well be used against the Sooners when it comes time to select the 4 CFP teams. Might that be enough to have a playoff without both OU and Clemson? Here is a Fun Fact:
- Since Lincoln Riley arrived in Norman, the Sooners had never scored fewer than 28 points in a game against Big-12 competition. They have now been under that number twice in 2021.
In PAC-12 games…
Utah 24 Washington St. 13: State led 13-10 at the start of the 4th quarter and surrendered that lead but was on the move for a potential winning score when Utah pulled off a Pick-Six to put the game on ice.
UCLA 35 Stanford 24: I had this wrong in the Six-Pack last week. I thought Stanford would light up the Bruins’ pass defense. That did not happen and Stanford’s running game was anemic to say the least gaining only 56 yards on 30 carries. Stanford only managed 12 first downs in the game.
Oregon 40 Arizona 19: The Top of the PAC -12 dispatched the Bottom of the PAC-12 as was to be expected…
Arizona St. 35 Colorado 13: That is almost twice as many points as the Buffaloes have scored against Division 1-A teams this season. That is not a knock on the Sun Devils’ defense; it is a severe indictment of the Colorado offense.
Oregon St 45 USC 27: Clay Helton is staring at his buy-out check and smiling as this result comes over the wire… The Trojans’ “defense” allowed more than 500 yards in the game. The game was in LA; it has been a long while since the Beavers won in Tinseltown. I read somewhere that their last win in the Coliseum was all the way back in 1960. Can that be right?
And, in miscellaneous games last weekend…
Army 23 Miami (Oh) 10: Army is 4-0 for the season …
BC 41 Missouri 34: BC is 4-0 for the season …
SMU 42 TCU 34: SMU is 4-0 for the season…
Michigan St. 23 Nebraska 20: Michigan St. is 4-0 for the season…
Wyoming 24 UConn 22: Wyoming is 4-0 for the season… This was far-and-away the best showing for UConn this season. UConn led the game 13-0; the Huskies led 13-3 at the half and also led 16-10 in the fourth quarter. Then Wyoming got two TDs to take the lead and a UConn TD in the final 10 seconds led to the outcome here.
Coastal Carolina 53 UMass 3: I said last week that Coastal Carolina needed to continue to win “impressively” to stay ranked in the Top 25….
Boise St. 27 Utah St. 3: Utah St came into the game undefeated. The total offense was dead even – – Boise St 433 Utah St 429. Three turnovers and thirteen penalties by Utah St. tilted the outcome to the Broncos.
Rice 48 Texas Southern 34: This is a first win for Rice. It comes against a Division 1-AA opponent but at least it is a win…
Fresno St. 38 UNLV 30: Fresno St. was a 30-point favorite at the kickoff but trailed at the half 14-9. Moreover, UNLV led 30-29 with six-and-a-half minutes left in the game. UNLV is not one of the “good teams” this year; it would seem that Fresno St. is one of the inconsistent teams this year.
College Games of Interest:
(Fri Nite) Iowa -3 at Maryland (48): Both teams are 4-0. Iowa wins with a shut-down defense and a plodding offense. Maryland outscores opponents. This should be interesting to watch.
Syracuse at Florida State – 5 (51): Syracuse is 3-1; Florida State is an embarrassing 0-4. So how come the Seminoles are giving points? Here are the Syracuse wins so far in 2021; it is not an impressive list of beaten foes:
- Beat Ohio by 20 points in the opener. Ohio is a genuinely bad team.
- Beat Albany by 38 points. Albany?
- Beat Liberty by 3 points last week. Give me Liberty or give me Death?
Duke at UNC – 20 (72): The Tar Heels win by scoring lots of points; the Duke defense is suspect at best…
BC at Clemson – 14.5 (46): Obviously, the oddsmakers are anticipating a reawakening of the Clemson offense here. Looking at earlier results from this season, one might ask how the Tigers can cover 14.5 points when they only average 12.7 points per game against Division 1-A teams…
Army – 9 at Ball St (47.5): Army looks to start the season 5-0 with a win here. Ball St. is the defending MAC champion…
Indiana at Penn State – 12.5 (53.5): The Penn State defense ranks 47th nationally in terms of total defense but it also ranks 12 in the country in scoring defense. Indiana can be explosive on offense when/if QB Michael Penix gets rolling. This is an interesting game that has meaning in the Big-10 standings.
Kansas at Iowa St. – 34.5 (56.5): The Cyclones’ defense is too much for the Jayhawks here…
Louisville at Wake Forest – 7 (60): Louisville can score points – even against a statistically good scoring defense such as Wake Forest. On the other hand, Wake’s offense should be very troublesome for a Louisville defense that gives up 26 points per game to lesser offenses. I see a lot of points here, so I’ll take the game to go OVER; put it in the Six-Pack.
Ohio State – 15 at Rutgers (58.5): Rutgers is not a doormat any longer. In recent years, the Buckeyes would be 35-point favorites in this game and would likely cover easily.
USC – 7.5 at Colorado (51): The Trojans are disappointing to say the least; the Buffaloes are inept.
Cincy – 1.5 at Notre Dame (50.5): I call this the College Game of the Week because of its potential importance and consequences. First, it is surprising to say the least to see a team from somewhere other than a Power 5 conference as a favorite in South Bend. The Bearcats are 3-0 and have had 2 weeks to prepare for this game; it may be the biggest game in Cincy football for quite a while.
- If the Bearcats win here, they will likely be heavy favorites against all the rest of the teams on their schedule save for SMU in late November.
- Cincy – with a win here – has a shot at running the table and going 12-0 on the season.
- That result could possibly propel them into the CFP – which would be a first for a team not in the so-called Power 5.
I mentioned above that the Irish have not had a running game worth a bucket of mule snot so far this year. The Cincy run defense allows just under 3.5 yards per carry. Can the Bearcats force the Irish to be one-dimensional?
Washington at Oregon St. – 2.5 (57.5): No one would have predicted this line back in August unless (s)he was a blood relative of one of the Oregon St. coaches…
Oregon – 8 at Stanford (58): The oddsmakers are showing a lot of respect for Stanford here – – or is it that they are not so impressed with Oregon?
Ole Miss at Alabama – 14.5 (79.5): I thought about this one as the College Game of the Week. Ole Miss leads the nation in scoring this year; they average 52.7 points per game. Alabama ranks 4th in the country with a meager 46.5 points per game. On defense, Alabama ranks 27th in the country giving up 17.5 points per game while Ole Miss is at 50th giving up 20.7 points per game. The Rebels love to throw the football so the Alabama secondary will get a workout here.
Baylor at Oklahoma State – 3.5 (47.5): Baylor seeks to remain undefeated against an inconsistent Cowboys’ team.
Texas – 5 at TCU (65): The Longhorns arrive here off a huge win last week over Texas Tech. TCU lost a rivalry game to SMU last week.
Florida – 7.5 at Kentucky (55): The Gators are 3-1; the loss was by 2 points to Alabama. Kentucky is 4-0 for the season and is starting a gauntlet of good teams here. After Florida, the Wildcats will host LSU and then visit Georgia. Count this game as a measuring stick for the Wildcats…
Oklahoma – 11 at K-State (53): I have mentioned this before, but it bears repeating here. K-State is very tough at home…
UConn at Vandy – 15 (51): If Prisoners of War were forced to watch this game, it would be judged as a violation of the Geneva Convention.
Auburn at LSU – 3.5 (55.5): These teams would be powerhouses in just about any other conference; in the SEC West, they are the football equivalent of ladies-in-waiting.
Michigan at Wisconsin – 2 (43.5): So far, Michigan is significantly better than I thought they would be in 2021 and Wisconsin is not as good as I thought they would be in 2021.
So. Mississippi at Rice – 1.5 (44.5): Considering that Rice is in contention for The Brothel Defense Award (see above), it would seem to be a significant indictment of the So. Mississippi offense to have the Total Line come in at 44.5 points. Remember, Rice gives up an average of 43.5 points per game all by themselves.
Arizona St at UCLA – 3 (55.5): Sorely tempted to take this game to go OVER. Get thee behind me, Satan…
Fresno St. – 10.5 at Hawaii (64.5): Fresno St. is inconsistent (see above), and Hawaii is much better at home than they are on the mainland.
Yes, I did watch last night’s Bengals/Jags game, but I will admit that I was not watching as attentively as I would have had it been a game between two good teams. Here are five of my takeaways from that game – – which was interesting simply because it came down to a filed goal to win the game as time expired:
- Trevor Lawrence will be really good as a QB in the NFL once he has a competent OL in front of him.
- Ja’Mar Chase is the real deal at WR.
- The Jags’ defense is not very good – – I am being polite here.
- The Jags’ OL is simply bad.
- The Bengals’ DL is mediocre at best.
The telecast also reminded me that Bengals’ QB, Joe Burrow, and Jags’ coach, Urban Meyer, have a history. Burrow transferred from Ohio State under Urban Meyer because Meyer chose to have Dwayne Haskins as the starting QB at Ohio State over Burrow who went to LSU to be the architect of a national championship team in Baton Rouge. That decision shows me that Meyer might just be a better college coach than an NFL coach. Haskins was successful in college, but Haskins’ pro career has been more like a pile of penguin puke than it has been “successful”.
I am happy to admit that I do not understand some NFL personnel decisions, and here is one I really do not understand:
- As of this morning, the Houston Texans have only 2 QBs on their roster. One is Davis Mills who ill start the game this week. Tyrod Taylor is on IR and Jeff Driskel is on the Practice Squad.
- The other QB the team has is Deshaun Watson; he is on the “active roster”. However, if he is forced into the game – or even is allowed to be the holder for a kick in this week’s game – I suspect that Roger Goodell and 80% of the NFL’s PR gurus will suffer aneurisms.
- What is up with that?
Here is my “interpretation” of that goofy situation. The Texans are not going to trade Deshaun Watson any time soon and they are also not going to run afoul of any possible clause in the existing CBA that would get the team crosswise with the NFLPA. At the moment, Watson’s trade value is as low as it has ever been due to the overhang of a couple dozen civil suits against him alleging sexual misconduct and at least two criminal complaints against him alleging the same sort of thing. Notwithstanding all that, if Watson were to dodge the criminal actions and then could settle the other civil actions, his trade stock in the NFL would increase significantly from what it might be today. I think the Texans’ ownership and coaching staff realizes that the current roster in Houston is not going anywhere this year – – but it might just have a valuable trade asset in Deshaun Watson if and when the legal issues are resolved constructively.
Therefore, my reading of all this is:
- The Texans are playing the long game and are simply waiting until the criminal complaints in this matter play themselves out.
- The team is hoping for a “Not Guilty” verdict or for some plea-bargaining terms that do not involve years in the hoosegow for Deshaun Watson.
- If/when that comes to pass, the Texans will try to trade Watson into a rising market for Watson’s football services.
The Steelers’ offense is a mess and the Steelers; defense is injured. I have seen the Steelers twice this year; I know Ben Roethlisberger had arm surgery and I know that all the reports said he was fully recovered and in the best shape of his life. Having said that, he still does not/ cannot throw the ball downfield very often; and when he does, it is not with any sort of precision. Defenses are loading up to stop the Steelers’ run game and the short passing game. NFL teams can do that sort of thing effectively if they put eleven defenders up close to the line of scrimmage. If Roethlisberger is not able to threaten those defenses with a “vertical game”, the Steelers’ defense will have to carry the team; and right now, it is in no condition to do that.
Over and above the lack of ability to threaten a defense with a deep ball more than occasionally, Ben Roethlisberger now has the mobility of fire hydrant. In terms of “escapability”, Harry Houdini has more escapability these days and Houdini has been dead for 95 years.
There were five first-round QBs taken in the NFL Draft last April. Four started last week – – Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Mac Jones and Zach Wilson. Trey Lance only saw the field on a handful of plays. Forget Lance for now; he was not in for enough time to warrant comment here, but the other 4 all stunk out the stadiums they were in.
NFL football is a different game from college football. Looking at more than just last week, Fields, Lawrence and Wilson seem to be in situations that simply cannot work out positively for them this year. They are on bad offensive teams and the expectations for all three have been sky-high. Jones may not have a cushy job, but his situation is a lot kinder and gentler than are the situations for the other three rookie starters.
Speaking of the NFL Draft last April, the Bears traded away their 2022 first-round pick to get Justin Fields in last year’s Draft. It certainly looks as if that could be a very early pick for the Giants in addition to the early pick the Giants seem hell-bent on getting for themselves. Maybe that is a foundation piece in the Giants’ rebuilding strategy?
And that thinking leads me to wonder who the first NFL head coach will be to get the axe this year. Even though I have projected more than a handful of coaches who may be on a hot seat for this season, I think the possibilities for “First to Be Fired” comes down to two candidates:
- Joe Judge: The Giants have looked bad – and have played badly – this year and it is not Judge’s first season at the helm. The Giants’ historical style is not to fire coaches in mid-stream, but if this team tanks, it might be a chance for ownership to fire the GM and the coach in a “housecleaning move” because it could mean starting a rebuilding process with two high round draft picks in April thanks to the Bears.
- Matt Nagy: He is supposed to be an “offense guy” and the last time the Bears had an offense that scared opponents was probably when Walter Payton was lining up in the backfield. Nagy’s tenure in Chicago has not put the “fear of God” into defensive coordinators around the league.
In NFL games from last week…
Bills 41 Football Team 23: Washington was supposed to have an elite defense – – or at least that is what Chase Young told everyone within earshot during the offseason. So far this year it has not been anywhere near that level of competence. As of this morning the Football Team defense ranks:
- 31st. in yards allowed and first downs allowed.
- 29th in passing yards allowed
- 29th in the average time allowed to an opponent per drive.
The Bills offense last week approached 500 yards; the Bills held the ball for more than 35 minutes; the Bills had 29 first downs and were 9 for 15 on third-down conversions. The Bills dominated the Football Team’s defense; and then, just to add some spice to the mix, the Bills’ defense forced 3 turnovers in the game. This game was not nearly as close as the score would indicate.
Titans 25 Colts 16: The Colts’ offense struggled in the Red Zone. They had the ball inside the Titans’ 10-yardline twice in the game and came away with 2 field goals. The Titans’ defense was dominant holding the Colts to 265 yards on offense for the day.
Bengals 24 Steelers 10: The Bengals OL protected Joe Burrow well and the Bengals DL sacked Ben Roethlisberger 4 times. The Bengals’ defense also had 2 INTs that led to 14 points for Cincy. The Steelers’ running game was non-existent gaining all of 45 yards on 15 carries. That anemic running game coupled with a dink-and-dunk pass offense is not going to get the job done for the Steelers. In my pre-season analysis, I said that Ben Roethlisberger was an aging player who could see a dramatic decline this season. Based on what I have seen in two of the Steelers’ three games so far this year, I think Roethlisberger is washed up; he will be a Hall of Fame inductee after his retirement but none of the reasons for that induction are going to be in evidence this season.
Falcons 17 Giants 14: The Giants seemed to be in control here – – then the 4th quarter began, and everything fell apart. The Giant’s defense gave up a long TD drive in the 4th quarter to tie the game and then allowed the Falcons to march 58 yards in the final two minutes to set up the field goal that won the game. This was the Dog-Breath Game of the Week for last week and it lived up to its advanced billing…
Cards 31 Jags 19: I said in last week’s Football Friday that the Cards could be in danger here if they self-immolated – – and they came close to doing just that. It was the Jags’ mistakes that lost this game. The Jags turned the ball over 4 times and one of the turnovers was a Pick-Six. The final play of the first half was interesting; the Cards tried a 68-yard field goal that was – not surprisingly – short of the goalposts; the Jags fielded the try and ran it back 109 yards for a TD. The Jags’ losing streak is now at 18 games – – and counting…
Browns 26 Bears 6: The Bears’ defense sacked Baker Mayfield 5 times; often, that is a signature stat in a win for the sacking team. Not here, the Bears’ offense was non-existent even though Justin Fields – the fans’ favorite franchise sauveur du jour – was the starter. The Bears’ total offense for the day was 47 yards and the net passing yardage was 1 yard. Those are not typos; the Bears gained 1 yard passing for an entire NFL game in 2021 with all the rules that favor passing offenses in place. Fields was sacked 9 times in his first start; that is not a typo either. Even without “studying the film” with a stopwatch in hand, I will go out on a limb and suggest two things:
- The Bears’ OL is horrible.
- Fields held the ball waaay too long in that game.
Saints 28 Patriots 13: The Saints’ defense throttled the Pats and forced three turnovers in the game. This game was not as close as the score might indicate. What happened to the Pats’ running game? In this game it only managed to gain 49 yards on 17 attempts and the longest gain was a run by QB Mac Jones for 12 yards.
Broncos 26 Jets 0: The Jets’ OL allowed 5 sacks in the game; Zach Wilson threw 2 more INTs here; the Jets could not run the ball gaining only 43 yards for the game. The Jets and the Jags meet later this year; what a treat that game will be. The Jets’ total offense for the day was 162 yards and the Jets’ time of possession was a meager 24 minutes and 13 seconds and the Jets never got inside the Broncos’ 35-yardline. The Broncos’ win is best described as “workmanlike”.
Vikes 30 Seahawks 17: The Vikes needed a win here badly but at halftime things looked bleak. The Vikes led 21-17 at the half but the Seahawks were playing well on offense. Then halftime happened and the Vikes’ defense took over the game and stopped whatever it was the Seahawks tried to do on offense. Kirk Cousins was 30 for 38 for 323 yards in the game and threw 3 TD passes.
Chargers 30 Chiefs 24: That is two losses in a row for the Chiefs and Andy Reid had to be taken to a hospital after the game. He was reported to be in “stable condition” later in the evening. Justin Herbert threw 4 TD passes in the game and the Chargers’ defense forced 4 turnovers in the game. The only bright spot for the Chiefs was that the run defense was much improved here; the Chiefs held the Chargers to 77 yards on the ground after the defensive unit had been shredded two weeks ago. The Chiefs are in last place in the AFC West, and this is the first time the Chiefs have been below .500 since 2015. Keep an eye on this team and the AFC West; there may be a significant upheaval going on there…
Rams 34 Bucs 24: Matthew Stafford and the Rams’ passing game – particularly Cooper Kupp – carved up the Bucs’ secondary all day long. Neither team was able to run the ball effectively and the simple fact is that Stafford had a better day than Tom Brady did.
Raiders 31 Dolphins 28 (OT): The Raiders must remind themselves that a win is a win. This was an ugly win, but they do not put asterisks in the standings. After letting the Dolphins get off to a 14-0 lead, the Raiders rallied to score 25 straight points. The Raiders amassed 495 yards of offense here.
Packers 30 Niners 28: The Packers took a 17-0 lead here and seemed to be in complete control. Then two things happened:
- A big kick return gave the Niners the ball inside the Packers 35-yardline with about a minute left in the half; that led to a Niners’ TD and some energy
- The Packers defense became passive in the second half and the Niners took advantage to lead the game 28-27 with 37 seconds left in the game and the ball at the Packers 25-yardline with no timeouts for the Packers.
Not to worry, Aaron Rodgers was 4-for 4 on a drive that covered 42 yards in about 22 seconds leading to Mason Crosby kicking the winning field goal from 51 yards out.
Cowboys 41 Eagles 21: The stats for total offense were almost dead even; the Eagles gained 367 yards and the Cowboys gained 380 yards. Each team scored a defensive TD. You might think this was a nail-biter – – but it was not. The Cowboys held the ball for almost 35 minutes and had 27 first downs to only 13 for the Eagles. A final TD by the Eagles with 3 minutes left in the game made the score look more “respectable” than the game really was.
Ravens 19 Lions 17: I purposely saved this one for last. I said last week that the Ravens were a good team but not a reliable team and that they were ripe for a let-down game after beating the Chiefs two weeks ago. Check! Just to give you a flavor of how flat the Ravens were, the Lions’ defense held the Ravens to 1 for 10 on third down conversions. The Lions had this game in hand leading by 2 in the final 15 seconds but gave up a long play to set up a 66-yard field goal try by Justin Tucker that was good – – and the Lions demonstrated their “Lion-ness” once again. And that winning field goal from 66 yards out leads to an amazing conjunction of events that could only be arranged by the “Football Gods”.
I need to set the stage here for the ‘youngsters” who might be reading this. Tom Dempsey was born with only half of a right foot and his physique was the antithesis of a “pro athlete”. However, what he could do was to use that half of a right foot as a club to kick a football long over distances. That got him several jobs at the NFL level including one with the New Orleans Saints in 1970. Early in that season, Dempsey kicked a 63-yard game-winning field goal for the Saints that broke the NFL record for longest field goal. That record had been held by Bert Rechichar of the Baltimore Colts; the record had been 56 yards and that record had stood for a little over 17 years.
With that as prelude, consider what happened last week as compared to what happened in earlier days of NFL history:
- Justin Tucker kicked the longest game-winning field goal in NFL history last week against the Lions.
- In 1970, Dempsey’s record-breaking field goal was also in a game against the Lions.
- The final score last week was 19-17 with the Lions on the short end; the final score back in 1970 when Dempsey hit his 63-yard game-winning field goal was also 19-17 with the Lions on the short end.
- Bert Rechichar played for the Baltimore Colts and Justin Tucker plays for the Baltimore Ravens.
Washington – 1 at Atlanta (47): I realize that Taylor Heinicke was “less-than-successful” in his first NFL road game last week, but this is a road game against a much lesser opponent. The real issue for this game is the Football Team’s defense; it has been a serious underachiever to date in 2021 but the Atlanta OL is hardly a top-shelf unit working at peak efficiency. Coach Rivera said that last week’s game against the Bills was a “measuring stick game”. I think this week is the “measuring stick game”. Other than at QB, Washington has the better of things. I like the Football team to win and cover on the road; put it in the Six-Pack.
Detroit at Chicago – 2.5 (41.5): This is so obviously the Dog-Breath Game of the Week. The Lions played the Ravens excellently for 59 minutes last week and then blew the game at the end (see above). The Bears were simply awful last week even with wunderkind, Justin Fields under center. This is purely a hunch, but I think that the first team to get 17 points will win the game; so, just for the halibut, I’ll take this game to stay UNDER; put it in the Six-Pack.
Tennessee – 6.5 at Jets (44.5): The Jets’ defense has given up 110.7 yards per game rushing so far in 2021. Now, Derrick Henry comes to town…
Cleveland – 2 at Minnesota (51.5): I do not have a good feel for this game. The Browns have a better roster but do not always play to their level of talent. The Vikes’ performance from week to week is inscrutable. Given the fact that both teams like to run the ball, that Total Line seems high – – but what do I know?
Indy at Miami – 2 (42.5): All the focus for this game has to do with Carson Wentz and his sprained ankles. The other QB in the game will be Jacoby Brisset and this is either a “homecoming game” for him or perhaps a “revenge game” depending on how you look at it. There is a real possibility that this game could boil down to a duel between backup QBs.
Carolina at Dallas – 4 (51.5): Sam Darnold has played very well so far this year for the Panthers, but the absence of Christian McCaffrey should allow the Cowboys’ defense to focus on pass defense here. The Carolina defense has played exceptionally well so far this year; it is the leading defense in the NFL to date. Make no mistake, this is the best offense it has faced in 2021.
Giants at New Orleans – 7 (41.5): This is the delayed home opener for the Saints thanks to Hurricane Ida’s arrival in Louisiana about a month ago. The Giants are bad and to make things worse, the Giants invent ways to lose games. The Saints are up and down like a yo-yo. What else might you expect from a team with Jameis Winston at QB?
KC – 7 at Philly (54.5): This is a homecoming of sorts for Andy Reid. He spent 13 years as the head coach of the Eagles until leaving in 2012. Since his departure, the Eagles won a Super Bowl and Andy Reid’s Chiefs won a Super Bowl. He should get a warm welcome – – but then again, this game is in Philly… I think Patrick Mahomes will have a big day here and Nick Sirianni will have to modify his play calling strategy significantly. Last week, the Eagles handed the ball to a running back only 3 times in the whole game. If the Eagles let Mahomes on the field a lot, this could be a rout. I like the Chiefs to win and cover on the road; put it in the Six-Pack.
Houston at Buffalo – 17 (47.5): I am on record as hating double-digit spreads in NFL games and I am not going to make a selection here. However, I will say that if the Bills’ offense is as surgical this week as it was last week against the Football Team, they might win this game by 30 points.
Arizona at Rams – 4 (55): Both teams are 3-0; this game will determine who is in first place in the NFC West after the first quarter – or so – of the NFL season is done. Both offenses are explosive; fans in attendance will see the ball going up and down the field like it was a tennis match. The Rams’ defense is the better defense but recall that it surrendered points and yards to the Bucs last week; this is not a reincarnation of the Steel Curtain defense. This is my runner-up for Game of the Week.
Seattle at SF – 3 (52): These are the “also-rans” in the NFC West at the moment; the Niners are 2-1 and the Seahawks are 1-2. The Seahawks have problems rushing the passer; if the Seahawks’ defense gives Jimmy G. time in the pocket, Jimmy G will pick them clean. There is the key to this game… I think both QBs will have excellent stats at the end of the game so let me take the game to go OVER; put it in the Six-Pack.
Baltimore at Denver “pick ‘em” (45): If you search the Internet sports books, you can find a line that has either team as a 1-point favorite; this seems to be the most common “spread” on the game. The Broncos are undefeated; their defense is ranked 2nd in the NFL and gives up only 221.7 yards per game. It sounds as if I am describing a serious Super Bowl contender here – – except – – here are the teams the Broncos have beaten and smothered with their defense:
That is not exactly “Murderers’ Row”. The Ravens represent an entirely different level of opponent this week. The Ravens are inconsistent so I do not want to make a selection here, but this will be an interesting game to observe.
Pittsburgh at Green Bay – 6 (45): This game should be an indicator of things to come for the Steelers. The Packers give up over 115 yards per game on the ground; for the record the Jets and the Lions both give up fewer rush yardage than that. If the Steelers cannot run the ball here, they are toast because without a serious threat to run the ball, the Steelers’ offense is doomed.
(Sun Nite) Tampa – 7 at New England (49): We interrupt this rant to bring you Breaking News. This just in to Curmudgeon Central …
- Tom Brady will play his first game in Foxboro since leaving the Pats and signing with the Bucs. Remember, you heard it here first…
Now, looking at the players and the teams, the Bucs have more talent and are coming to the game off a loss. They have serious playoff and Super Bowl aspirations. The Pats are also coming here off a loss, but if these Pats think they are going to be part of the Super Bowl next February they should worry about the levels of hallucinogens in their bloodstream. I like the Bucs to win and cover here; put it in the Six-Pack.
(Mon Nite) Las Vegas at Chargers – 3 (51.5): This is my Game of the Week. Both QBs here have played excellently so far this year and the Raiders’ defense is significantly improved over last season. This game should be a great game to watch.
So let me review the Six-Pack:
- Louisville/Wake Forest OVER 60
- Washington – 1 over Atlanta
- Detroit/Chicago UNDER 41.5
- KC – 7 over Philly
- SF/Seattle OVER 52
- Tampa – 7 over New England
[Aside: My 3 selections against the spread here are all favorites on the road picked to win and cover. We shall see…]
Finally, there has been a lot made of the so-called “Alliance” in college football among the Big-10, the ACC and the PAC-12. Let me close here with this definition of an alliance according to Ambrose Bierce:
“Alliance, n. In international politics, the union of two thieves who have their hands so deeply in each other’s pocket that they cannot separately plunder a third.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………