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.
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:
- Coastal Carolina
- Michigan St.
- Oklahoma St.
- San Diego St.
- 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:
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.
- On most weekends in most seasons, Vandy’s opponents have better athletes on the field than Vandy does.
- 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: CBSSports.com 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:
- Middle Tennessee
- Western Kentucky
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…
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:
- Missed FG
- 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…
There are 6 teams on their BYE Week this week leaving 13 games on the schedule. Here are the inactive teams:
- Bills: They have an extra week to stew over their loss to the Titans
- Chargers: They have an extra week to watch how the Ravens blew them out last week.
- Cowboys: Dak Prescott was in a walking boot with a calf injury at the end of last week’s game; good timing here!
- Jags: Bathing in the glory of victory for the first time in a long time.
- Steelers: Hoping they get to play Geno Smith once again next week.
- 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:
- Oklahoma St. +7 against Iowa St.
- Panthers/Giants UNDER 43.5
- Chiefs/Titans OVER 56.5
- Falcons – 2.5 over Dolphins
- Pats – 7 over Jets
- 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………