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 CBSports.com 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…
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.
The Bye Weeks begin this week with four teams sitting out action until next week.
- 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.
- 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.
- Niners: The injury to Russell Wilson gives Niners’ fans hope that the Niners will not finish last in the NFC West.
- 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:
- Michigan St. – 4 over Indiana
- Rutgers – 2 over Northwestern
- TCU/Oklahoma OVER 63
- Chiefs/Football Team OVER 54.5
- Bengals – 3 over Lions
- 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………
5 thoughts on “Football Friday 10/15/21”
This is a delayed comment since I’m currently out of the country over the Fall, but could not resist. To characterize the UNC Tarheels as underachieving is very charitable to say the least (thus sayeth a UNC Alumnus ’65).
RE Wake Forest …and back to ’44. In those days the colorful “Peahead” Walker was the head football coach…very successful at that. There is the famous story of “Peahead” recruiting Bill George from Pennsylvania by meeting him at the train (in Raleigh or Durham) and taking him over the to the DOOK football stadium and campus and declaring that one day he would play in this stadium if he came to Wake Forest. Wake Forest College at the time was located in Wake Forest, NC with a football stadium that resembled a high school arena; whereas, the then DOOK stadium was impressive and where the 1942 Rose Bowl had been played. George signed and came to WF and had a successful career and went on to play in the NFL. Of course George figured something had not been quite right about his trip down to NC. But, finally when WF did play DOOK in Durham, Peahead pointed out that in fact he had not lied: he had told George that one day he would play in that stadium and so he did..
ACC football certainly is not the all mighty big deal activity top to bottom like the SEC or Big Ten, but it has a very colorful history, but I’m based.
Your Football Fridays are most impressive and intimidating…keep it up.
I know of Bill George; I had never known of Peahead Walker. Thanks for that.
Glad you enjoy Football Fridays; they are surely not intended to be intimidating in any way.
Of course I meant to type “biased” rather than based…jet lag I guess.
“…Niners’ fans hope that the Niners will not finish last in the NFC West.”
It is hard to believe that, just 20 months ago, San Francisco played in Super Bowl LIV.
The longer the injury to Russell Wilson keeps him on IR, the better the chances for the Niners to escape the basement in the NFC West.
Comments are closed.