On Monday of this week in response to a comment by Bob Molinaro in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot, I said that MLB has a fundamental problem when a game that ends with a 3-1 score takes 4 hours and 15 minutes to play.  One of the problems that drags out games – certainly not the only problem but a problem nonetheless – is that the time between innings is more than 2 minutes and sometimes as much as 3 minutes; there are at least 17 such time-hogs in a nine-inning game.  I said then – and I still believe – that until and unless the TV ratings drop to a point where networks are unwilling to pay premium prices for TV rights, that situation will not change.

One of the comments attached to that rant came from someone I have known in real life for approximately 40 years.  He is a “baseball guy”.  I want to present his comment here for those who did not see it on Monday:

“It’s not just wasted time that makes baseball so long. There is also a paucity of action during a game filled up with the following sequence: ball one, ball two, foul ball, ball three, strike two, foul ball (repeat),and ball four or strike three. Deep counts leading to a record number of strikeouts are making baseball games unbearable. In the meantime, remarkable fielders are just standing around. No circus catches, no remarkable throws, no close slide plays, very little action to hold the attention of the fan. And the high pitch counts lead to the early departure of the starting pitchers and the relentless bullpen parade. The new philosophy that starters cannot face the other team’s line-up more than twice in a game makes it worse.

“As a lifelong fan and long time umpire, I appreciate the philosophy of pitching and how the pitcher sets up a batter. But at some point, even I drift off to sleep.

“Without fundamental change, baseball is moving toward the fate that struck down horse racing and boxing. With players and management unable to agree on anything, and influential traditionalist (older) fans arguing against change, I see no reason to be optimistic about the future.”

Those comments come from a “baseball guy”.  When I read them, I wondered if this was an indication of an erosion process among “foundational fans” that could lead to declining TV ratings.  I made a note on my clipboard to keep an eye out for reports on MLB TV ratings.  Then, yesterday I got an email from another person I have known for about 30 years.  He too is a “baseball guy” and here is the content of his email:

“I have a sports curmudgeon rant to share:

“As you know I have been a Phillies and baseball fan since I have been a little kid.  My dad took me to my first game in 1968 at Connie Mack Stadium when I was seven years old.  I played through high school, American legion and club level baseball in college.  I coached/managed  baseball teams from age 4 to 19 years old. I watched every Phillies game this year including spring training. I love the game and think it is the most difficult professional sport to play.

“Bona Fides established.

“That said:  I watched the Dodgers/Giants game last night and decided last night if the Gabe Kapler method of playing the game (and I know he won 110 games and was very successful) I’m out.  It’s so painful to watch for four hours, for soooo many reasons.

RIP MLB if you are losing me.

Rant complete.

[Aside:  For the record, one of this person’s players/proteges is currently on a team in MLB and has been there for 3 seasons.  This person knows baseball from multiple perspectives.]

There is a saying on Wall Street that if something happens once it is an occurrence.  If the same thing happens twice, it is a coincidence.  If it happens a third time, it is a trend.  Maybe these two expressions of frustration with MLB’s product on TV are a coincidence – – or maybe they indicate a serious trend.  I am not nearly sufficiently capable in the fields of the social sciences to make that sort of call, but I must admit that I am surprised that two of the biggest “baseball guys” that I know feel the way that they have expressed here.

As I said above, all this began with my reaction to a comment from Bob Molinaro; so, let me take another of his observations and move on from there:

“Add clock: Griping about the duration of baseball games is the unalienable right of all Americans, especially when postseason play goes past midnight on the East Coast. But very little is ever said when college football games routinely bump up against the four-hour mark.”

I have opined on the length of college football games in the past and have proposed a rule change that would start the process of shortening those games.

  • Do not stop the clock on every first down until the chains are reset; let the game clock run.  It is not uncommon for a college game to have 45-50 first downs.  If the clock ran while all those chains were being reset, it could shave 8 minutes or so off the running time of the game.

Finally, let me close with a baseball item from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:

“The White Sox-Astros series features managers Tony La Russa and Dusty Baker, 77 and 72 years old.

“In lieu of the seventh-inning stretch, it’ll be first call to the early-bird buffet.”

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



Jon Gruden’s E-mails

In case you had not heard, Jon Gruden resigned as the head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders and the basis for his need to resign was the revelation of several very inappropriate emails that he exchanged with Bruce Allen about 10 years ago when Gruden was doing Monday Night Football for ESPN and Bruce Allen was the team president for the Washington Football Team under its previous name.  Let me make several things clear about my position in order to frame my remarks today:

  • Had Jon Gruden sent those emails in 2021, he probably would not have been allowed to resign; he would have been fired as soon as the emails were made public.
  • Even acknowledging that fact, the content of his decade-old emails is not nearly as racially insensitive or sexual orientation insensitive as I have heard or read in my lifetime.

The media are piling on – – and that is where I have a problem.  Gruden did something offensive ten years ago; he has probably made “improper remarks and references” along these lines in the intervening years; he has been outed; he has been fired. I find the celebration of his demise a bit ghoulish and over the top.

Jerry Brewer is an excellent columnist for the Washington Post.  In yesterday’s print edition, his column ran under this headline:

  • “Coach is gone, and don’t you dare feel sorry for him.”

Here is the link to that column – with a different online headline – and I commend it to your reading:

Anyone who has read these rants for a while knows that I hold Sally Jenkins in high regard as a sports columnist.  In today’s Washington Post, her column – which I also link to here and recommend that you read – has the following headline:

  • “Football made Jon Gruden.  Now the NFL must reckon with its creation.”

Let me pose some questions to any reporters, columnists, or commentators out there:

  • If Jon Gruden can be fired – yes, I know he “resigned” – from a job that he did not hold when he made some offensive remarks, can he ever hold any other job in his life?
  • Have those emails alone without any yet demonstrated action(s) to further the nefarious intent subsumed in them disqualified him from any second chance in any profession?

In the last several weeks, we have seen John Hinckley released unconditionally and Sirhan Sirhan granted parole.  They have been deemed worthy of a “second chance.”  Maybe it’s just me, but I think what both of those men did is hundreds of times worse than any offense anyone might take at the verbiage in Jon Gruden’s emails.  However, the way I read the stories and the stated opinions of columnists and commentators, Gruden’s actions were so horrific that he should be shunned by civil society.  And I think that is piling on…

Let me say it again.  Jon Gruden was fired from his job and that is a situation that every employed person faces as a consequence of his/her actions.  Jon Gruden was not wronged here; he is not a victim; he is not to be pitied.   AND, his actions are not nearly the worst examples of human depravity on record so let us stop trying to put them in that category.

[Aside:  I saw a YouTube video of Randy Moss on a TV studio show talking about Gruden’s emails and how horrible they were, and he was crying.  I was moved to tears on a visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau.  I merely shuddered when I read Jon Gruden’s words.  Perspective, folks…]

The story about how those emails made their way into the public’s awareness is that they were contained in a trove of emails sent to and from Bruce Allen as the then-team president of the Washington franchise that was uncovered as part of the investigation into the “toxic work environment” for women in the Front Office of that franchise.  I cannot confirm or deny that to be true but let me assume for a moment that it is exactly true.

People are now calling for the rest of those emails to become known.  One report said that there were 650,000 such emails in the possession of the NFL from that investigation.  The NFL has said that it has no plans to release those emails and considers that the confidentiality offered to individuals as part of the investigation requires the emails to remain sequestered.

Excuse me!  The fact of Gruden’s emails making their way to the Wall Street Journal and to the NY Times for publication there seems to me to negate any protestation about the sanctity of confidentiality.  Those emails did not forward themselves to the Journal or the Times; someone who had access to them, leaked them.

  • Yes, I know, the “leak” could possibly have been purely accidental with no malicious intent involved.
  • Yes, I also know that an unidentified radar bleep could be Santa Claus’ flying sleigh pulled by reindeer.
  • I think the probability of those two statements is approximately the same.

The NFL is going to dodge and deflect calls for a total release of those emails; I can speculate about why it will behave that way but there has been sufficient mind-reading and speculation involved here already.  I would love to see them all made public but to make that happen we will need to have a modern-day Daniel Ellsberg arrive on the scene and for him/her to find a way to put them in the hands of a major publication.  That could happen; it has a higher probability than another “accidental leak” of a portion of those emails…

Finally, since I believe that there has been far too much virtue-signaling in the process of piling on here, let me close with this comment by Thoreau:

“What men call social virtues, good fellowship, is commonly but the virtue of pigs in a litter, which lie close together to keep each other warm.”

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



Two Baseball Issues Today …

The MLB playoffs are underway. The two American League Division Series stand at 2-1; both National League Division Series are tied at one game apiece.  I am sure that baseball fans already know about the games and do not need me to try to do any “gamers” here.  But there are two “baseball issues” that are worthy of consideration today.  The first is contained in an observation by Bob Molinaro in his column last week in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot:

On the clock: Despite efforts to speed up things, MLB games this season averaged three hours and 10 minutes, the longest ever. Considering how many catnaps I’ve been known to fit into a game, I would have thought they were even longer. The added time is attributed to teams using a record average of 3.4 relievers per game. In the Dodgers’ 3-1 win over the Cardinals Wednesday, the teams combined to use nine relievers over the four hours and 15 minutes it took to play nine innings.”

This is a fundamental baseball problem.  Look, there are days where both teams are hot at the plate and the final score is something like 15-11.  Those games might take 4 hours and 15 minutes to play simply because just about everyone and his Aunt Matilda is on base for most of the game.  But a game that ends up 3-1 should not take 4 hours and 15 minutes; it might actually only need 2 hours and 15 minutes to reach its conclusion.

Yes, much of the problem is the time between innings when the networks insert a profusion of advertisements.  Having acknowledged that, let us come to the realization that it is those ads that drive major numbers of dollars into the league coffers and thereby to the owners.  Those ads are not going away.  So, the only meaningful way for MLB to address this is to stop all the time-wasting activities on the field.  We know what they are; they have been chronicled in hundreds of places; the fact that there have not been changes to address them in any meaningful way can only mean that MLB does not see this as a problem worthy of resolving.

So, while I am in total harmony with Bob Molinaro on this issue, I have abandoned any idea that the execs in MLB and/or the MLBPA care at all about this issue.  This is the vector heading for MLB now and into the foreseeable future.  Only when ratings drop enough for the TV networks to refuse to pay more for television rights will there be any real action to effect change.

There is another baseball issue worth contemplating today.  The Tampa Bay Rays won 100 games this year; they were the only AL team to do that; as of this morning, they trail the Red Sox two games to one in their best-of-five American League Division Series matchup.  The Rays led the AL in wins, and one might think that success on the field translated into a strong showing at the stadium turnstiles.  WRONG!  The Rays had the third-best record on the field in MLB in 2021 and the Rays also had the third-worst average home attendance in all of MLB in 2021.  The average attendance for a Rays’ home game was 9,396.  Even the hapless Baltimore Orioles – a team that lost 110 games and finished 48 games behind the Rays in the standings drew more fans than the Rays did.

Last week, the Rays’ team president, Brian Auld, was quoted in the Wall Street Journal saying that playing full seasons in the Rays home stadium in St. Petersburg, FL is not a viable option.  Here is the precise quote from the Journal:

“We’ve concluded that it’s next to impossible that full-season baseball can succeed in Tampa Bay today.”

We have been here before.  The Rays are poorly supported in the Tampa/St. Pete area and have been for just about all their existence there.  Let me go through some of the standard arguments here:

  • The Rays play in an “outdated stadium” that was not specifically designed for baseball.  [I have never been inside Tropicana Field so I cannot confirm or deny that assertion.]
  • Tropicana Field is not conveniently located.  [I have driven by the stadium and can agree it is not near anything resembling a population center or a commercial center.  It is well served by highways, but it is not in an area where there might be a “walk-up crowd”.]
  • The Rays do not pay their players so fans do not get attached to players because the team will trade them away rather than pay them.  [Clearly this is true; but when there is a season in which the Rays are dominating the division and heading for the playoffs, you might think they could get 10,000 folks per game in the stands, no?]

The owner of the Rays “studied” and tried to promote the idea of building a downtown stadium in Tampa.  That went through all the ritualistic stages of a “new stadium proposal” and died on the vine,  The last pronouncement I recall from one of the folks in charge in Tampa was that this idea was tabled permanently.  Then, the Rays’ owner, Stuart Sternberg, proposed the idea of a split-season; the idea is that the Rays would play half of their home games in Tampa and the other half in Montreal.  That is the idea behind team-president Auld’s statement that “full-season baseball” is not going to work in Tampa Bay anymore.

The Rays’ circumstance regarding home attendance is parallel to that of the Oakland A’s except that the A’s have received the blessing of the Commish to chat up other cities that might want to have the A’s as their home team.  Both franchises have suffered at the gate for more than a couple of years; both franchises have suffered at the gate despite being successful on the field; yet, the A’s have the support of MLB to move if they can find a better deal, but the Rays do not.

I do not pretend to know the answer for the Rays – – but it is clear to me that there is not a significant fanbase in that area for that team playing in that stadium; the status quo is a mess.  The problem I have with the idea of splitting time between Tampa and Montreal is that Montreal gave up on the Expos to the point where MLB had to take over the team and run it before selling it to the owners of the Washington franchise that rebranded the team as the Nats.  If I were the Rays’ team president and were trying to attract support for the idea, I think I would look for a shared venue where there was “pent up demand for MLB games” rather than a shared venue where both cities have a history of shunning MLB teams.

Let me throw out an idea here for which I have no solution:

  • MLB has two teams that play regular season games in Florida.  Both teams – the Rays and the Miami Marlins – have trouble at the gate.  The Rays stand 28th in average attendance for 2021; the Marlins are dead last in average attendance per game drawing almost 1500 fewer fans than do the Rays.
  • Maybe – just maybe – Florida is a great place for Spring Training and there is interest there to support those activities, but Florida is not so great a place for MLB to offer up 162-game seasons of baseball?

Finally, having mentioned the idea of the Rays moving half of their games to Montreal in Canada, let me close with this observation about Canada by Voltaire:

“A few acres of snow.”

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



Football Friday 10/8/21

Back in the 1960s, Nancy Sinatra recorded Friday’s Child.  One verse in that song is as follows:

“Friday’s child hard luck is her brother

Friday’s child her sister’s misery

Friday’s child her daddy they call hard times

Friday’s child that’s me.”

While the tone of those lyrics is certainly “curmudgeonly”, that is not an anthem for Friday here in Curmudgeon Central because around these parts, Friday in the Fall means another Football Friday.

As is customary, I shall begin with a review of last week’s Six-Pack:

  • College:  1-0-0
  • NFL:  3-2-0
  • Combined:  4-2-0

The cumulative results for the season are now:

  • College: 3-5-0
  • NFL:  8-7-1
  • Combined:  11-12-1


College Football Commentary:


The Linfield College Wildcats ran their record to 3-0 last week with a drubbing of the Puget Sound Loggers.  Linfield has had three excellent offensive showings so far in 2021 scoring 163 points in 3 games.  On Saturday, the Wildcats will host the Whitworth Pirates as part of Linfield’s Homecoming weekend.  The Pirates are 4-0 so far in 2021 and are allowing only 18 points per game.  This is also a Northwest Conference game which could have lots of bearing on an invitation to the Division III football playoffs down the line.  Go Wildcats!

They say that great minds run in similar channels.  Well, last Friday I mentioned that ACC football was topsy-turvy this year with the normal “big dogs” looking weaker than usual (Clemson, UNC) and some of the middle-of-the-pack teams looking stronger than usual (Wake Forest, NC State, Va Tech).  On that same day, here is a comment from Bob Molinaro – – clearly a great mind – – in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot:

Take your pick: Glass half full: ACC football this year is a welcome example of parity. Glass half empty: it’s a mishmash of mediocrity.”

I agree that ACC football is a “glass half-full” this year.  Actually, I think it is both a “mishmash of mediocrity” and a “welcome” change from having far too many blowout wins by the likes of Clemson throughout the season.  Competitive games are always better than blowouts…

Just to check in on the teams contending for The Brothel Defense of the Year Award – – it goes to the team that allows any and all opponents to score a lot :

  • Kansas allows 43.8 points per game to date.
  • Arkansas State allows 45.6 points per game to date.
  • UMass allows 47.2 points per game to date.

[For the record, Kansas won this award last  year giving up 46.0 points per game in 2020 and they are threatening to win it again this year.]

If you have been reading these rants over the months and years of their existence, you know that I like to have fun with the names of players and coaches.  Here are five football player names I have run across so far this year, and I wonder if any of them have brothers with names I propose here:

  1. Sincere McCormick – RB – UTSA:  Brother named Disingenuous?
  2. Jack Sanborn – LB – Wisconsin:  Brother named Chase?
  3. Jared Summons – OL – Arkansas St.: Brother named Jury?
  4. Sean Dollars – RB – Oregon:  Brother named Silver?
  5. Jack Christ – OL – Penn St.: Brother named – – Nah … too easy.

Another thing you surely know if you have been reading football commentary from me is that I do not place a lot of value in polls early in the season.  So, what I am about to do here is sort of in opposition to that belief and I need to explain.  Much later this season, I will start to rank the worst teams in Division 1-A football to select the 8 worst teams that I can bracket into an imaginary SHOE Tournament to “identify” the worst team in the country.  The idea is that the teams would play one another, and the loser must continue to play until there is an ultimate loser – the SHOE Team where SHOE is an acronym for Steaming Heap Of Excrement.

This year, some of the “usual suspects” are on my early warning radar such as Kansas and Vandy and UConn and UMass.  However, there are several other teams that – while never to be confused with powerhouse programs – are not normally part of this sort of derision.  So, let me just highlight a couple of bad teams that might not have yet caught your attention in 2021:

  • Arizona  The Wildcats are 0-4 and one of those losses was to Division 1-AA, Northern Arizona.
  • Arkansas St.  The Red Wolves are 1-4; the win was over Central Arkansas; they are currently second in the running for the Brothel Defense of the Year Award.
  • Colorado  The Buffaloes are 1-4 having beaten Division 1-AA, Northern Colorado.  In 4 losing games against Division 1-A opponents, the cumulative score for those games is 112 – 34.
  • New Mexico  It is not uncommon for New Mexico State to be on the SHOE radar, but this year New Mexico started the season with 2 wins (albeit wins over a Division 1-AA team and then over New Mexico State) and have stunk out the joint in 3 games since then losing by a combined 92 – 23.
  • UNLV  The Runnin’ Rebels are 0-5; they opened the season with an overtime loss to a Division 1-AA team and since then they have been outscored 147 – 60 by Division 1-A opponents.

The big impact result from last week was Cincinnati beating Notre Dame 24-13 in South Bend.  Cincy led 17-0 at the half and coasted home.  Notre Dame continued to have difficulty running the ball in this game; the Irish gained 84 yards on 28 carries.  The Bearcats were similarly constrained gaining 89 yards on 30 carries.  Cincy is undefeated at 4-0; Notre Dame is now 4-1 and is probably no longer in serious consideration as a CFP team given its unimpressive wins to date.  As I mentioned earlier this week, Cincy needs for both Notre Dame and Indiana to finish the season strong to make the wins by the Bearcats over those two schools look impressive to the CFP Selection Committee.

In action last week involving Big-10 teams…

Michigan 38  Wisconsin 17:  The Wolverines are undefeated in 2021 and have cracked the Top 10 in the latest polls.  Is this a reawakening or a mirage?  We shall see.  On the other hand, if Badger fans are thinking about anything as lofty as a New Year’s Day Bowl Game, they are likely to be sadly disappointed.  The Wolverines need to stay vigilant because the latter part of the Michigan schedule has Penn State, Michigan State and Ohio State on the dance card.

Ohio State 52  Rutgers  13:  The Buckeyes led 45-3 at the half and then called off the dogs.  Rutgers was able to move the ball gaining 346 yards on offense but 3 turnovers and only 1 of 5 fourth down conversions assured that the Knights would not be keeping up with Ohio State last week.  Ohio State amassed 534 yards of offense here.

Nebraska 56  Northwestern 7:  The Huskers ran up 657 yards of offense here including 427 yards rushing.  Nebraska is now 3-3 for the season while Northwestern drops to 2-3.

Iowa 51  Maryland 14:  I said last week that Iowa was winning on defense this year and that was certainly the case here as the Hawkeyes forced 7 turnovers (6 INTs and a fumble recovery) in the game.  The Terps led 7-3 but then the “Turnover Tsunami” hit, and it was 34-7 favor of Iowa at the half.  Here are the results of the eleven Maryland possessions from the start of the second quarter until the end of the game:

  1. INT
  2. INT
  3. Punt
  4. INT
  5. Punt
  6. TD
  7. INT
  8. Punt
  9. Punt
  10. INT
  11. End of Game.

In games relevant to the ACC…

UVa 30  Miami  28:  I am not sufficiently facile in English to describe how Virginia scored the TD that put them in the lead late in the 4th quarter of this game.  You will have to track that down on YouTube or somewhere else for yourself.  It was as improbable an ending as the one the Hurricanes suffered on the infamous “Doug Flutie Hail Mary Play” almost 40 years ago.  However, I can tell you that the Hurricanes missed a field goal at the very end that would have won it for them.  A bizarre game ending indeed…

UNC 38  Duke 7:  I said last week that the Duke defense was not in the same class as the UNC offense…

Pitt 52  Ga Tech  21:  This game was over at the half when Pitt led 42-14.

Wake Forest 37 Louisville 34:  Wake remains undefeated for 2021.  Also, I got this game right in last week’s Six-Pack with the game going comfortably over 60 points.

Florida St 33  Syracuse 30:  The Seminoles got “off the schneid” here and advanced their record to 1-4.  The rushing totals in this game were interesting.  Syracuse ran for 239 yards on 40 attempts by only two RBs.  Florida State ran for 244 yards on 36 carries – – 33 of which were by two RBs.  Those four running backs earned a little extra time in the whirlpool…

Clemson 19  BC 13:  This is the first loss of the year for BC.  Clemson’s offense showed signs of life here gaining 438 yards on the day.  Clemson’s defense held BC to 46 yards rushing on 33 attempts.  Notwithstanding those stats, BC had the ball late in the game where a TD would have changed the outcome.

In SEC action …

Georgia 37  Arkansas 0:  This says a lot more about Georgia’s team than it does about how folks have wished for Arkansas to be back among the “relevant programs” in the country.  The Razorbacks may get back to relevancy one of these years, but they are still a significant step down in quality as compared to the top-shelf of the SEC in 2021.   This is the second shutout this season by the Dawgs’ defense; that is a special defensive unit. The score may not look like it, but Georgia won this game with its backup QB.  Georgia leaned on its run game gaining 275 yards on 57 carries.  Here are data about the Georgia defense through the first 5 games of the 2021 season:

  • They have allowed a total of 23 points (two TDs and three FGs).  That is #1 in the nation.
  • They are 4th in the nation in rushing defense allowing 70.6 yards per game.
  • They are 4th in the nation in yards allowed per rush attempt at 2.35 yards per try.
  • They are 1st in the nation in pass defense allowing only 110 yards per game in the air.
  • They are 1st in the nation in yards allowed per pass attempt at 4.7 yards per attempt.
  • As I said, these guys are awfully good…

Alabama 42  Ole Miss 21:  The Total Line for this game went to 78.5 at kickoff; the Bama defense saw to it that number was never seriously threatened.  Ole Miss scored its first TD of the day with 8:25 to go in the third quarter; by that time Alabama already had 35 points on the scoreboard.  The Alabama offense was balanced here gaining 241 yards passing and another 210 yards on the ground.   Ole Miss now needs Bama to lose twice for the Rebels to get to the SEC Championship game.  Not likely …  Ole Miss coach, Lane Kiffin, spent time at Alabama as an assistant to Nick Saban.  Coach Saban has not been kind to his former assistants when they get head coaching jobs and then face Alabama on the field.  That situation has happened 24 times and the record is:

  • Nick Saban  24 wins
  • Former assistants  0 wins.

[Aside:  Alabama and Georgia are not scheduled to play each other this year save for possibly in the SEC Championship Game.  Georgia coach, Kirby Smart, used to be an assistant to Nick Saban for 9 years at Alabama.  Just saying …]

Kentucky 20  Florida 13:  Kentucky moves to 5-0 while Florida falls to 3-2.  Kentucky has LSU this week and then Georgia next week.  Those are big games in SEC-world.  This was the first loss for Florida at Kentucky since 1986.  Florida was sloppy in the game committing 15 penalties including 8 “false starts” and the Gators had a field goal attempt blocked and run back for a TD.

Miss St. 26  Texas A&M 22:  This was the other surprise result in the SEC last week.  The Bulldogs dominated the stat sheet gaining 438 yards to 326 yards for the Aggies.  As you might expect from a Mike Leach coached team, Mississippi St. only gained 30 yards rushing and the rest came through the air.  The Aggies were ranked #15 in the country last week; this is their second loss for the season.

Auburn 24  LSU 19:  LSU only gained 37 yards rushing – – on 22 attempts – – for the game.  LSU led 13-0 until late in the second quarter but three times had to settle for short field goals – – shorter than 35 yards.  Those points left on the field were the difference in the game.     The win for Auburn at LSU was their first since 1999, increasing the scrutiny of Ed Orgeron by LSU fans.

Vandy 30  UConn 28: Vandy is now 2-3 while UConn drops to 0-6.   Sigh…

In Big-12 contests…

Texas 32 TCU 27:  Texas is 4-1 but it is one of the the least impressive teams with that record today.  Maybe Texas was looking ahead to the Red River Showdown this week?  Anyhow, beating TCU by 5 is not going to impress anyone regarding post-season play…

Oklahoma 37  K-State 31:  Once again the Wildcats are a tough home team.  Oklahoma advances to 5-0 but the last couple of wins have been anything but “dominant” – – but winning is a whole lot better than losing.

Oklahoma St. 24  Baylor 14:  The Cowboys are still undefeated in 2021; this was Baylor’s first loss of the season.

Iowa State 59  Kansas 7: This was never a game; the Cyclones led 38-0 at halftime.

Some PAC-12 results …

USC 37  Colorado  14:  The Trojans had 494 yards on offense (276 in the air and 218 on the ground).  Meanwhile the offensively challenged Buffaloes only gained 242 yards for the day.  Colorado faced third down 10 times and converted once; they also had a fourth down try and it too failed.

Stanford 31  Oregon  24 (OT):  Now the PAC-12 has no undefeated teams.  The leader in the PAC-12 North Division this morning is Oregon State at 2-0.  Who saw that coming?  Oregon outgained Stanford by 60 yards for the day but that was not enough to overcome a dramatic finish here.  Stanford QB, Tanner McKee threw a TD pass on an untimed down at the end of the 4th quarter to tie the game and send it to OT.  That TD pass came at the end of an 86-yard drive in the final two minutes.  Stanford visits Arizona St this week in what is an important PAC-12 game.

Oregon St. 27  Washington 24:  The Beavers lead the PAC-12 North and Washington is now 2-3 for the season.  Oregon St. was outgained on the field, and its offense was lopsided.  The Beavers gained only 48 yards passing to 242 yards rushing.

Arizona St. 42  UCLA 23:  Arizona St. shut out the Bruins for the entire second half to advance its record to 4-1 for the season.  UCLA fell to 3-2.  The Sun Devils are now the team to beat in the Pac-12 South after this dominating win at UCLA. Sun Devils’ QB, Jayden Daniels, took shots downfield during the game gaining 286 yards through the air on only 18 pass attempts.

In miscellaneous games …

Hawaii 27  Fresno St.  24:  I said last week that Fresno St, was not a reliable team and the Hawaii was much better at home than on the mainland; nevertheless, this was still unexpected.  Fresno St outgained Hawaii by 162 yards but turned the ball over 6 times in the game.  Four of those turnovers were INTs and three of those INTs were inside the Hawaii 10-yardline!   Notwithstanding that ineptitude, the Bulldogs led 24-10 at the start of the 4th quarter only to cough up a hairball over the final 15 minutes,

Rice 24  So Mississippi  19:  That makes two wins in a row for Rice.

Navy 34  UCF 30:  Navy won its first game of the year here.  As usual, the Middies’ offense was run-oriented gaining 348 yards on the ground and only 58 yards in the air.

Ball St. 28  Army 16:  Army lost its first game of the year here.  As usual, the Cadets’ offense was run-oriented gaining 216 yards on the ground and only 66 yards in the air.

SMU 41  USF 17:  SMU is 5-0 and perhaps their game against Cincy way down the road will be an important game relative to post-season invitations or exclusions.

Ohio 34  Akron  17  Could this be a SHOE Tournament foreshadowing?

Coastal Carolina 59  La-Monroe 6:  Coastal was ranked #16 in the country and this kind of blowout win ought to keep them favorably ranked next week…  However, consider this:

  • The Chanticleers have played one Power 5 opponent and that was Kansas who might be the worst Power 5 team in the country.
  • None of Coastal’s opponents this year has a winning record.
  • For the record, the Chanticleers’ five opponents have a combined record of 7-16.

Toledo 45  UMass 7:  Given the results to date, it is hard to imagine a SHOE Tournament without UMass participation.

BYU 34  Utah St.  20.  BYU remains undefeated.  The Cougars had to go to their third string QB after the backup QB who started the game had to leave with a “head injury”.


College Games of Interest:


(Fri Nite) Stanford at Arizona St. – 13.5 (51.5):  The Sun Devils lead the PAC-12 South; the Cardinal – with their win last week over Oregon – controls its ability to finish atop the PAC-12 North.  This is a big game for both teams.  I don’t think Stanford is a great team – – but neither do I think Arizona State is a great team. That is a generous helping of points so I’ll take Stanford plus the points and hope they can make some defensive stops and keep the game close; put it in the Six-Pack.

Florida St. at UNC – 17.5 (64.5):  Was last week an “awakening” for the Seminoles or was it an “anomaly”.  That spread is a three-score number that the Tar Heels are expected to cover.  We shall see…

Michigan St. – 6 at Rutgers (50):  The spread opened at 5 points and now is as high as 6.5 points on various Internet sportsbooks.  That means there is a lot of Michigan St. money showing up…

Wake Forest – 6 at Syracuse (57):    Wake is 5-0 but the oddsmakers are unimpressed.  Syracuse is 3-2 with those three unimpressive wins coming over Ohio, Albany and Liberty.

Maryland at Ohio State -21 (71):    The Buckeyes cannot afford a close game at home against a lightly regarded opponent.

Ga Tech – 3.5 at Duke (61):  I do not think either team here is reliable from week to week.

Boise St. at BYU – 6 (57):  BYU looks to go 6-0 here; Boise St. looks to get back to .500 here.

San Jose St. at Colorado St. – 2.5 (45):    Colorado St. is not a good team this year; so, what might that spread say about San Jose St.?

Utah at USC – 3 (52):  Before the season, I thought this game would be a contender for Game of the Week.  Not so as the 2021 season has unfolded.  The combined record for these two teams is 5-4 and USC already has 2 in-conference losses.

Oregon St. – 3.5 at Washington St. (59):  Oregon St. is undefeated in conference games and its only loss was on the road at Purdue.  Washington St is 1-2 in PAC-12 games and 1-2 overall at home.

SMU – 13.5 at Navy (55.5):  Cincy fans are pulling for a big win by the Mustangs here…

Georgia – 16 at Auburn (57):  Auburn may not be close to Alabama in terms of proficiency this year, but they just might be the second-best team in the SEC – West.  So how does a team “like that” fare against the Georgia defense?  Auburn, QB, Bo Nix, will need to be at his best when “extending the play”/running for his life” in this game.

LSU at Kentucky – 3 (50.5):  LSU is regularly an underdog at Kentucky in basketball – – but this is the spread on a football game.  Here is something unusual about the Tigers in 2021; they rank 128th in the country in rushing offense gaining only 70.6 yards per game and 2.58 yards per carry.  Kentucky’s pass defense is good yielding only 180.2 yards per game.  I like Kentucky at home to win and cover; put it in the Six-Pack.

Vandy at Florida – 38.5 (60):  This matchup is dictated by SEC scheduling protocols; nonetheless, it should be a boring mismatch.

Wisconsin – 10 at Illinois (42):  The Badgers’ excellent defense goes up against a mediocre offense.  Probably not a day that will exhaust the scoreboard operator.

Oklahoma – 3.5 vs, Texas (63.5):  Normally, the so-called Red River Showdown is the Game of the Week in early October.  Not this year (see below).  The Sooners have “won ugly” a couple of times this year – – but they are undefeated.  Texas is 4-1 and has not been impressive in doing so.  It’s awfully early, but this smells like a “must-win game” for Oklahoma.

Michigan – 3.5 at Nebraska (50.5):  I am more impressed by Michigan’s undefeated record than I am by Nebraska being 3-3 at this point in the season.

Alabama – 17.5 at Texas A&M (51.5):  The only advantage I can assign to the Aggies here is the home field…

UTEP – 2 at So. Mississippi (44.5):  Loser here is a likely SHOE Tournament participant.  The same might apply to the winner.

Arkansas – 5 at Ole Miss (67.5):  Both teams were waxed last week by the two best teams in the SEC – – and maybe in the country.  Which team reacts more positively…???

Notre Dame at Va Tech  “pick ‘em” (47):  A second loss in a row here for the Irish might just get some of the “faithful” to begin to question the competency of the coaching staff…

Penn St. at Iowa – 1.5 (41.5):  This is the Game of the Week in college football.  If you believe the polls and you agree with Alabama and Georgia at #1 and #2 – in whichever order you prefer – in those polls, then you will find Iowa at #3 and Penn St. at #4.  There is a ton of importance here on the Big-10 standings and on the CFP stature for both teams as of early October.  This is a late afternoon game on Saturday; set aside time for it…  Let me present some stats that make this an interesting contest:

  • Iowa is 2nd in the nation in scoring defense allowing 11.6 points per game
  • Penn State is 3rd in the nation in scoring defense allowing 12.0 points per game.
  • Iowa’s defense is 1st in the nation in turnover margin per game (2.4)
  • Penn State’s defense is 12th in the nation in turnover margin per game (1.2)
  • Iowa scores 33.2 points per game
  • Penn State scores 30.0 points per game.

Iowa and Penn State have played one common opponent, Indiana:

  • Iowa 34  Indiana 6
  • Penn State 24  Indiana 0

I purposely saved this game for last.  It is a game of no importance, but it is surely a game of interest here in Curmudgeon Central.  Let me present the betting lines and then a comment:

UConn – 3.5 at UMass (56):   How bad are the teams in this scheduling blunder?  Let me count the ways:

  • Needless to say, neither team has won a game so far in 2021; it is almost unfortunate that one of them must win this weekend.
  • UMass gives up the most points per game so far this year (47/2 points per game).
  • UConn is not nearly so bad only yielding merely 39.7 points per game.
  • UMass allows opponents to run the ball for 238.4 yards per game.
  • UConn is much stingier allowing only 212.5 yards per game.
  • UMass ranks 128th in the country (out of 130 teams) in scoring offense at 14.6 points per game.
  • UConn ranks 125th in the country in scoring offense with a prodigious 16.5 points per game.

This is an “avert your eyes game” or maybe a “wish for a natural disaster that will force a cancellation” game.  The winner this weekend should take a photo of the losing team leaving the field and caption that picture:

  • “There but for the Grace of God go we.”


NFL Commentary:


            Bob Molinaro had another cogent observation in his column in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot last week:

Foot soldier: The Ravens’ Justin Tucker was the NFL’s best clutch kicker long before he nailed the game-winning 66-yarder against Detroit. He’s now 16 for 16 on field goals in the final minute of regulation.”

Forget the distance of his most recent incident of kicking heroics and focus your attention on the number of times he has withstood the pressure and made something good happen for the Ravens…

There were a couple of headlines earlier this week indicating that Dolphins’ head coach Brian Flores might be “falling out of favor” in Miami.  The Dolphins are a disappointing 1-3 at this point in the season and they have a tough assignment this week on the road against the defending  Super Bowl Champs in Tampa.  So, I mentally checked that game off as a loss and a 1-4 start for the Dolphins and then went to look at the team schedule beyond that.  It becomes “pillow soft” through December 19th

  • At Jags – Jags are 0-4
  • Vs Falcons – Falcons are 1-3
  • At Bills – Bills are 3-1
  • Vs Texans – Texans are 1-3
  • Vs Ravens – Ravens are 3-1
  • At Jets – Jets are 1-3 ‘
  • Vs Panthers – Panthers are 3-1
  • Vs Giants – Giants are 1-3
  • Vs Jets – Jets are 1-3.

The Bills, Ravens and Panthers should be tough games – – but two of those three games are in Miami.  The rest of those games are clearly winnable.  The Dolphins could well be 7-6 with 4 games to play,  It may be a bit early to “have issues” with Brian Flores and his coaching staff – – but if the Dolphins are significantly worse than 7-6 come Christmas week, have at Coach Flores…

I want to pose a contrarian interpretation of what has become a “commonplace” occurrence in the NFL.  I have been watching a lot of game highlights this year and I keep hearing color analysts having verbal orgasms over a QBs’ ability to execute a “back-shoulder throw”.  After seeing multiple dozens of these completions over the first 4 weeks of the season here is my problem:

  • How many of those completions were planned to happen that way as opposed to the QB underthrowing the pass route and the receiver adjusting to the ball to make a circus catch?

Next time you hear the analyst say it was a great back-shoulder throw and you get to see the replay, you make the call there…

Moving along to last week’s games…

Cowboys 36  Panthers 28:  The Panthers went into the game giving up the fewest passing yards in the NFL and the fewest rushing yards in the NFL; they had dominated their way to a 3-0 start. The Panthers’ defense was expected to dominate on Sunday, but instead, it was the Cowboys’ defense that put on the show in an impressive 36-28 win.  Sam Darnold was sacked 5 times and threw 2 INTs in the game.

Football Team 34  Falcons 30:  In my Pre-Season predictions, I said that Washington’s defense would carry the team this year, but that definitely has not been the case so far, and it was certainly not the case last Sunday. The Football Team’s defense surrendered 30 points, but they were bailed out by the offense that gained more than 400 yards and scored 34 points.  Once again, the Falcons loss can be attributed to the failure of its defense in the final quarter or so of a game – – reminiscent of the Falcons’ defensive collapse in the Super Bowl against the Pats a couple of years ago.  Last week, the Falcons’ defense yielded 12 points in the final four minutes and the difference on the scoreboard was only 4 points.

Chiefs 42  Eagles 30:  The Eagles had three deep penetrations into Chiefs’ territory that resulted in very short field goals (25, 29 and 31 yards).  That represents 12 points left on the field.  Check it out; the margin of victory for the Chiefs was 12 points.  Hmmm…    The Eagles were able to move the ball against the Chiefs, not having to punt even once in the game. The Eagles finished with 461 yards and scored 30 points (seven of which were in garbage time) behind an offensive line missing four of five starters. What doomed the Eagles were:

  • Failed opportunities in the Red Zone (three times resulting in those really short field goals)
  • Nine penalties
  • Rushing for only 103 yards against one of the NFL’s worst run defenses.

The Eagles’ defense also did not get stops, it allowed the Chiefs to convert 9 of 10 third downs and score touchdowns on six of seven possessions.

Giants 27  Saints 21 (OT):  This was the “home-opener” for the Saints, but it did not go according to plan.  This game turned out to be a coming out party for Giants’ QB, Daniel Jones who threw for a career-high 402 yards.  Jones threw two touchdown passes of more than 50 yards including one in the fourth quarter to Saquon Barkley. Jones led the Giants on scoring drives on each of the Giants’ final three possessions of the game.  This was the first win of the year for the Giants.

And in a perfect juxtaposition…

Jets 27  Titans 24 (OT):  Both NY teams won their first game of the season on the same weekend; both scored 27 points to get the win; both won their games in OT.   Derrick Henry gave the Titans an excellent performance (33 carries, 157 yards, one TD), but it wasn’t quite enough. The Titans had a chance to tie things up at the end, but a missed field goal gave the Jets their first win of the year.   The Titans were without Julio Jones and A. J. Brown, so the passing game was limited; moreover, the Jets’ defense scored 7 sacks and Zach Wilson had a good day throwing for 298 yards.  The AFC South is not a powerhouse division; if the Titans are seen as the best team there, the Colts might not think they are so far from “contending”.

[Aside:  Another NYC football happenstance I ran across this week.  Since the beginning of the 2017 season, the two teams in the NFL with the worst record going into Sunday’s games were the Jets and the Giants.  Both had cumulative records of 18-49.  Both teams won last week but they still have the worst cumulative records since the beginning of 2017.]

Bills 40  Texans 0:  Last week, I said that this game could turn into a rout.  Well, it did just that.   During an ugly first half, Texans’ QB Davis Mills completed more passes to folks wearing Bills’ jerseys (2) than he did to his Texans’ teammates (1). The Texans only totaled 8 yards on offense in the first half and things didn’t get much better in the second half. The Texans finished with just 109 yards of offense, and the Bills’ defense recorded 3 sacks and 3 INTs.

Colts 27  Dolphins 17:  The Colts’ defense absolutely shut down the Dolphins last week. The Dolphins went into halftime with a total of 73 yards on offense.  The Colts’ offense in the first half was nothing to write home about and the score at the intermission was a manageable 7-3.  Carson Wentz had a decent game, and he won his first game as an Indy Colt.  The Dolphins’ offense was a no-show until garbage time; their first visit to the Red Zone did not happen until the fourth quarter when they trailed 20-3.  For the day, the Dolphins were 3 for 11 on third down.

Bucs 19 Pats 17:  Mac Jones played very well here despite being on the losing side.  Not only did he throw for 275 yards, but he also completed 19 straight passes at one point.  The Bucs showed that they can run the ball if need be in inclement weather rushing for 119 yards on 30 carries.

Bears 24  Lions 14:  I said last week that the first team to 17 points would win.  Nailed that.  During the first half alone, the Lions got inside of Chicago’s 8-yard line on THREE separate drives, but on each drive, they came away with zero points.  The results of those three drives were

  1. Fumble
  2. Turnover on downs
  3. Strip sack lost fumble

The Lions spent much of the day proving that they are indeed “the Lions”.  They got inside the Bears’ 10-yardline a fourth time in the 4th quarter and turned the ball over on downs then too.  Justin Fields threw for 215 yards in the game – – but remember, this was against the Lions.

Browns 14  Vikes 7:  It was the Browns defense who won this game holding Dalvin Cook and company to under 3 yards per carry.  That made play-action pass plays a lot less frightening and allowed the Browns to come away with a win even though this was a less-than-productive offensive showing.  Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt combined for 169 rushing yards for the Browns.

Packers 27  Steelers 17:  This was a chapter in a recurring story in Pittsburgh; the Steelers’ defense played well – – but not well enough to overcome the play of a mild-mannered Steelers’ offense.   The Packers’ defense held Pittsburgh to just 4 of 11 on third down and 0-for-2 on fourth down.   I saw a stat that said only 9 of Roethlisberger’s 40 pass attempts went more than 10 yards downfield; Had you asked me to guess, I would have said “Five”.  I have come to believe that the Steelers’ offensive coordinator has Big Ben on a “long-pass pitch count”.

Cards 37  Rams 20:  This was an excellent game by the Cards’ defense.  They limited Cooper Kupp to only 5 catches on 13 targets for only 66 yards.  The Rams’ defense was good but not at its normal “elite” level here.  Maybe the Cards are for real?

Seahawks 28  Niners 21:   Defensively, the box score will tell you the Seahawks weren’t great — they gave up 457 yards of offense — but they came up with big plays when they had to. The Seahawks held the Niners to 2 of 14 on third-down conversions and created a turnover too. Jimmy G had to leave the game with an injury and Trey Lance took over the offense.  Lance did throw a 76-yard TD to Deebo Samuel but that was as much a catch-and-run over blown coverage as anything else., The stat sheet says that Lance had “accuracy issues” completing just 9 of 18 pass attempts.

  • Question:  If QB is the most important position on a team, are the Niners consigned to second-tier status in the NFC West because they clearly have the weakest starting QB of the 4 teams there?

Ravens 23  Broncos 7:  Teddy Bridgewater suffered a concussion in the game; while that is not the reason why the Broncos lost, it did assure that the Broncos were not going to win this game.    Bridgewater completed 7 of 16 passes for 65 yards and one touchdown in the first half, but the Ravens held the lead at halftime, 17-7. Drew Lock took over for Bridgewater but he was not able to mount any significant threat to the Ravens’ defense in the second half.  The Ravens were the first decent opponent the Broncos faced this season after the Broncos built a 3-0 record over the likes of the Jags, Jets and Giants.

Chargers 28  Raiders 14:  The Chargers totally dominated the first half; it looked like a college game when the home team had invited Cupcake U as their Homecoming opponent.  Then the Raiders came out in the 3rd quarter and moved the ball at will until the Chargers woke up and regained control of the game.  These are two good teams and in case you had not heard, Justin Herbert is a very good QB.  The Raiders only gained 213 yards on offense in this game which is a far cry from the 471 yards per game they had averaged in their first 3 games.  That should tell you something about the Chargers’ defense too.


NFL Games:


In an interesting game last night, the Rams advanced their record to 4-1 beating the NFC West rival Seahawks 26-17.  Russell Wilson injured a finger on his throwing hand and had to leave the game in the second half.  Wilson has been an “iron man” since coming into the league; he has started every game.  Off the bench for Seattle came Geno Smith and Geno Smith did what Geno Smith usually does.

  1. He led a TD drive that closed the margin in the game to 2 points.
  2. He threw what had to be one of the uglier INTs of the year to ice the game for the Rams.

Here are the rest of the Week 5 games… 

Jets at Falcons – 3 (46) [Game is in London]:  I guess the calculus in NFL HQs is that the UK audience for “London Games” is not yet sufficiently sophisticated to realize that the NFL is exporting some of its worst games.  Both teams carry 1-3 records to the kickoff but that does not tell the story of how sorry these teams have shown to be in 2021.  Kickoff for this game is at 9:30 AM EDT; I will not be partaking of the first half for sure; perhaps I will catch some the second half – – or not.  This is the Dog-Breath Game of the Week     .

Dolphins at Bucs – 11 (48):  The spread here opened at 9 points and jumped to this level almost overnight.  The Bucs have not been as dominant as most folks figured they would be with just about everyone who matters from last year’s Super Bowl roster back for another go in 2021.  However, the Dolphins are about as meek and mild on offense as any defensive coordinator would want.  I will not make this a selection because of my aversion to double-digit spreads in NFL games, but this could turn into a rout – – sort of like the way I thought the Bills/Texans game might turn into a rout last weekend.

Eagles at Panthers – 3.5 (45):  I think this is the next episode in a long season for Eagles’ fans.  The defense is good – not great; the offense is fair – not good; the coaching decisions are random – not rational.  The Panthers won their first three games and were then pushed around by the Cowboys last week.  Which version of their team shows up here?

Saints – 1 at Football Team (43.5):  Is this the game where the over-hyped Football Team defense shows up and plays like something more than a bunch of formerly employed piano movers?  Even if that is the case, I think there will be scoring in the game, so I like this game to go OVER; put it in the Six-Pack.

Titans – 4.5 at Jags (48.5):  If the Titans show up spring loaded to be pissed-off after losing to the Jets last week, this game will not be in doubt after the first quarter.  However, last week’s loss to the Jets also showed that the Titans’ defense is not ready to carry the team when its two best pass receivers cannot play.  By the same token, one needs to try to imagine how the Jags will play in the week after the “Urban Meyer Video Scandal”.  If I were to watch this contest – and I do not plan to do so in real time or after the fact – I would be interested to hear how the announcing crew dances ever so gingerly around the issues raised by the “Video Scandal”.

Lions at Vikes – 9 (49):  One Internet sportsbook had the spread here at 10.5 points; it is unusual for spreads to straddle such a common score differential as 10 points.  The Vikes are 1-3 and are 2 full games behind the division-leading Packers.  The Vikes need this game badly.  The schedule maker must have granted the Vikes a wish because for a game they need badly, the schedule brings a bad team to town.

Broncos at Steelers “pick ‘em” (39.5):  Will Teddy Bridgewater be able to play here, or will we see “Dull Drew” Lock squaring off against “Boring Ben” Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh?  This will be the early CBS game in my viewing area this week so I will not be able to avoid it – – but you can and should.  I am tempted to take the UNDER here – – but if I did that, I would want to watch the game and that is just not my idea of a good way to spend my Sunday afternoon.

Packers – 3 at Bengals (50):  Were it not for a couple of games lower on the card this week, this might get some consideration for the Game of the Week.  Who woulda thunk it?  Both teams are 3-1; say it again, the Bengals are 3-1.  And the Bengals are undefeated at home in 2021.  I do not see either defense asserting itself to the point where it shuts down the opposing offense.  I see score upon score here; I like the game to go OVER; put it in the Six-Pack.

Pats at Texans – 9 (39.5):  Davis Mills was “confused” by the Bills’ defense last week and the Bills tend to play defense straight and simply outperform the opposition.  The Pats prefer to play Jedi mind games with rookie QBs so this could be a fun game to watch.

Bears at Raiders – 5.5 (44):  Justin Fields is going to be the Bears’ QB here – – and presumably for the rest of the year unless he really wets the bed.  He will need all of his inherent “athleticism” here because the Raiders have a couple of excellent pass rushers and the Bears’ OL is – to be ultra-polite – a work in progress.  I think the Raiders put a whoopin’ on the Bears here; I’ll take the Raiders to win and cover at home; put it in the Six-Pack.

Browns at Chargers – 1 (47):  This is my runner-up for Game of the Week.  The Chargers looked dominant against the Raiders last week and the Raiders are a good football team.  The Browns are also a good football team, and it will be an interesting yardstick to see if the Chargers can play dominantly against them too.

  • The Chargers are in a three-way tie in the AFC West with a record of 3-1.
  • The Browns are in a three-way tie in the AFC North with a record of 3-1.
  •  Something’s gotta give…

Giants at Cowboys – 7 (52):  Can Daniel Jones replicate his performance from last week?  If so, this game might hit the OVER in the 3rd quarter.  The Giants’ defense should have trouble stopping the Cowboys’ offense so this game could get out of hand should Jones have a less-than-wonderful game.

Niners at Cards – 5.5 (50):  It looks as if Trey Lance will be the Niners’ QB here and that is not the matchup against Kyler Murray that is ideal for the Niners.

(Sun Nite) Bills at Chiefs – 3 (56.5):  This is the Game of the Week.  Not only do the Chiefs need a win here to stay in touch with the AFC West leaders (remember, the Chiefs are in last place in that division), but this head-to-head result could easily have tie-breaker implications involving playoff seeding.  The Chiefs’ defense is a mess; so, what do they do?  They sign “troubled” WR, Josh Gordon and he is likely to be activated for the game here.  If you only have time to watch one game this week, make it this one…

(Mon Nite) Colts at Ravens – 7 (46):  This is the third game in a row where the Colts are on the road.  That is always a big challenge for an NFL team – – and when that third consecutive road game is against a very good opponent, the challenge gets even bigger.  Yes, the Colts’ defense is good, but Lamar Jackson presents challenges to good defenses that many of those defenses are not capable of handling.  I think that is the case here; I like the Ravens to win on both defense and offense; I think the Ravens will coast to a win here; give me the Ravens to win and cover; put it in the Six-Pack.

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

  1. Stanford + 13.5 against Arizona State (Fri Nite)
  2. Kentucky – 3 over LSU
  3. Saints/Football Team OVER 43.5
  4. Packers/Bengals OVER 50
  5. Raiders – 5.5 over Bears
  6. Ravens – 7 over Colts (Mon Nite)

Finally, Brad Dickson formerly with the Omaha World Herald had this observation about the upcoming Super Bowl Halftime Show:

“Breaking news: Snoop Dogg will be the Super Bowl halftime performer. Which answers the age old question: do the halftime performers need to pass a drug test? No.”

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



Urban Meyer – The Latest “Big Thing”

Yesterday, I ran across this Tweet from humorist and culture critic, Brad Dickson, who formerly wrote for the Omaha World Herald:

“In NFL news Urban Meyer is recovering from a pulled groin, an injury he suffered in an Ohio bar.”

If you have not seen the “viral video” of Urban Meyer and a much younger female “dancing”/”flirting” in a bar scene, it would not take very long for you to find it.  There is nothing particularly interesting or titillating there; it is probably not all that unusual either save for the fact that the older guy happens to be a famous college and professional football coach.  In any event, this has become a “thing” and folks have found a need to react to the “thing”.

Meyer sort of kicked off the “reacting to the thing” business by telling Ian Rappaport of NFL Network that he had convened a “full team meeting” and in that meeting he “expressed responsibility and remorse” for staying behind in Ohio last week after the Jags had lost on Thursday night to the Bengals in Cincy.

Obviously, I was not at that “full team meeting” and have not had any access to any recording(s) of what happened there.  Nevertheless, if I take Meyer’s statement to Ian Rappaport as “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth” – – Ha! – – then Urban Meyer can rightfully be nominated for the title of Tone-Deaf Dork of the Year.

  • Memo to Coach Meyer:  Your error was not in staying behind in Ohio while the team returned to Florida.  Your error was getting far friskier than is proper with a young woman at a bar where someone photographed you seemingly with your hand on her posterior.

It is the context around this event that makes it a “thing”.  Most recently, Meyer had been hired as the guy to reverse the fortunes of a woebegone Jacksonville Jaguars franchise.  His success at the college level – three national championships – made him the prize catch in last year’s NFL game of musical chairs involving coaches.  His successes in college were undeniably noteworthy; could he translate that success to the NFL?  I took time to look back at some collegiate coaches whose success translated and others whose success did not.

So, how did Meyer’s little chat with Ian Rappaport tamp down interest in the “thing”?  The short answer is that it did not tamp it down at all; it may have increased scrutiny.  Reporters from various media outlets took Rappaport’s report and asked players who were nominally at the “full team meeting” how it went down.  Michael Silver of reported that a player told him:

  • Meyer has zero credibility left with the players.
  • Meyer apologized to the team position group by position group and not as a whole.  Silver’s source said Meyer was “too scared”.

Let me interject here that the fact that the Jags’ record under Meyer this year is 0-4.  I believe that fact makes the situation with the team much more difficult than it would be if the record were 4-0.  As they say around the NFL, winning cures just about anything.

At some point earlier this week, the Jags’ owner, Saad Khan, thought that he needed to be on record with his position relative to the “thing”.  Here is the meat of that statement:

“I have addressed this matter with Urban. Specifics of our conversation will be held in confidence. What I will say is his conduct last weekend was inexcusable. I appreciate Urban’s remorse, which I believe is sincere. Now, he must regain our trust and respect. That will require a personal commitment from Urban to everyone who support, represents or plays for our team. I am confident he will deliver.”

And what else might you suspect the owner would say at this moment about this “thing”?  The only other statement even marginally likely would be to announce that Meyer had been fired and that Joe Flabeetz would take over the team for the rest of 2021.

So, how does this “thing” come to its natural end?  For most instances of this type, public interest wanes as the next viral video comes onto the scene to claim the title of “latest and greatest thing”.  The problem here is that Urban Meyer will remain very publicly noticeable as he is shown on the sidelines of weekly NFL games and as he holds mandatory postgame press conferences and the like.  Should the Jags continue to lose football games – and they give every indication that they will lose lots more than they will win in 2021 – a narrative will develop that this “thing” was a significant “distraction” that caused a not-very-good team in the first place to underachieve.

That narrative – when it emerges – will miss the point.  If the team is “distracted” by such behavior, then the team is awfully fragile to begin with.  The rough spot in this whole “thing” is an issue between Urban Meyer and his wife and family not with the Jags’ players and coaches.  If those people are indeed “pros” and “dedicated to winning”, a simple statement of “My bad!” from Urban Meyer should be about enough to get people to move on.  After all, it is not as if we have never seen an NFL player who might have been flagged for “illegal touching” in a nightclub who then went out and played for the team the next Sunday.

Urban Meyer was just hired into the job in Jax during the last offseason.  Terms of that contract were not announced but reports said that Meyer sought $12M per year during the negotiations and after the signing Khan said that he was going to be in Jax “for a long time”.  I mention this because there is obviously a lot of money at stake should the Jags seek to fire Meyer early in the span of that contract.  [Aside:  Forbes estimates Kahn’s net worth to be $8.5B so shed no crocodile tears here, please.]

When I did my NFL Pre-Season Predictions back on September 7th, it never occurred  to me that Urban Meyer would be one of the “NFL Coaches on a Hot Seat”.  I did not think the Jags would be very good, but I did not think they would stink out the joint again in 2021 and/or that Urban Meyer would create a situation that brought back to mind the label he acquired along the way in his collegiate coaching career – – “Urban Liar.”  However, as of this week, Urban Meyer’s tenure in Jax is indeed in question.

Do not get me wrong here; I am not predicting that Urban Meyer’s coaching career is over.  If – – I said IF – – the Jags fire him tomorrow and he acquires a “disgraced image” for a while, I would be willing to bet that there are a half-dozen major college Athletic Departments that would inquire about his availability to come and take over the football program there.  I will just throw out four such landing spots here:

  1. Florida State
  2. LSU
  3. Miami
  4. USC

Finally, since I began all of this with a Tweet from Brad Dickson, let me close today with another one:

“U.S. Postmaster General just announced starting next Friday first class mail will be moving slower. How’s he gonna accomplish this? Replace the mail trucks with three-legged burros?”

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



The Stadium Saga In Oakland

Over the weekend, I found this item in Dwight Perry’s Sideline Chatter column in the Seattle Times:

“Retired sportswriter Greg Johns, via Facebook, after the Mariners beat the Athletics for the 12th straight time: ‘Now that the Mariners own the A’s, are they responsible for building a new stadium in Oakland?’”

And that comment reminded me that I had not read much of anything about the A’s and thier quest for a new stadium in a while – – so I went searching…  Barring something cataclysmic, the A’s will play the 2022 season in the Oakland Coliseum – – or whatever its new naming rights “partner” has chosen to call it for a year or so.  The facility is dilapidated; it is outdated; it is the modern-day equivalent of Shea Stadium, RFK Stadium and/or The Vet.  Randomly occurring sewage backups be damned; this is the 2022 home for the Oakland Athletics.

The team has been seriously looking for a new playpen for about the last five years and the sticking point in the search process is a familiar one:

  • The team wants the local government and the state government to pick up much if not all the tab for the new facility.
  • The politicians who run the city do not want to spend what it would cost to make that happen.

We have gotten to the point in the kabuki theater drama about new stadiums that the team is beginning to talk to other cities to find out how much the local politicians in charge there might be willing to kick in should the A’s pull up roots and move their home venue.  If the reporting is correct – and thorough – Portland, OR and Las Vegas, NV are the juridsictions that have been asked for their offers to become the home of the A’s.

To keep hope alive in Oakland, the team has proposed the building of a stadium – – along with a large commercial and residential development project sited in some waterfront property in Oakland.  The team owners say they will build the stadium and the rest of the development as proposed if only the city of Oakland will agree to pay for the infrastructure improvements that will be necessary to make the development viable and if the city will use eminent domain and turn over to the owners the acreage needed for the development.  That sounds like a good deal until you recognize that the infrastructure improvements would cost the city at least $800M – – and some estimates go as high as $1.3B.  Two points here:

  1. Infrastructure projects of this type and scope rarely come in under budget and often cost 50% more than what is estimated.
  2. There could well be monies available for such work  in the Federal Infrastructure Bill moving ahead in the Congress.  However, many politicians in California have other preferences for how such money might be spent.

The standoff here is at a point where new “economic factors” need to be put in play to move things off the current “dead spot”.  At this point I am not sure the team really cares if it gets its new stadium and development in Oakland or if it pulls up roots and moves elsewhere; right now, the team needs something to happen, and it could be a short-term positive thing or a short-term negative thing; the A’s simply need “movement”.  Amazingly, in such circumstances, someone somewhere came up with the following data and somehow the data became available to a reporter:

  • Thirteen times in September, the A’s drew fewer than 10,000 fans to its dilapidated facility as the team was in a fade to miss the playoffs.
  • In seven of those thirteen times with crowds under 10,000 fans, the actual attendance was below 5,000 loyal souls.
  • Surely, it is apparent that the folks in Oakland who care about baseball have had it with the Oakland Coliseum as a venue and the A’s will not be a viable business entity in Oakland without something to goose up attendance.  Other than a World Series victory – not happening this year due to the A’s absence from the playoffs – that “something to goose up attendance” translates to “new stadium”.

The A’s and the city have been at a variety of impasses over the years, but there is a new trump card in the game this time.  Unlike the NFL when teams can – and have – simply moved from city to city without the blessing of the league, the A’s never had the pat on the back from the Commish to entertain seriously a move elsewhere.  That changed earlier this summer when Rob Manfred told the team that it had to continue to negotiate with the people in charge in Oakland and they were also free to investigate other cities to house the franchise.  Enter the city fathers of Las Vegas and Portland; welcome to the drama…

Call it what you will – “Brinksmanship” or “Action Spurred by Deadlines” – there is a time limitation here.  The A’s have a lease with the city to play in the Oakland Coliseum and that lease runs out in 2024.  Building a modern 40,000-seat baseball stadium is not nearly as challenging as was the construction of Stonehenge about 4000 years ago; it cannot be done overnight – – but it can be done in two or three years.  So, now is the time for the A’s to get involved in serious negotiations regarding where they will play starting in the middle of the 2020s and beyond.

The government folks in Oakland are not in a lovely position; they have not exactly had the best of fortune with sports franchises there:

  • The NFL Raiders left Oakland for greener pastures in LA in the early 1980s
  • The Raiders moved back to Oakland in the mid-90s when the city fathers in Oakland paid a healthy ransom to Al Davis to move the team.
  • The Raiders then departed Oakland for Las Vegas when the Raiders could not get a stadium deal done in Oakland.
  • The Warriors just moved from Oakland to SF a couple of years ago – – because they got a better arena construction deal there than they could get in Oakland.

I get it; the politicians in Oakland will not look good if they lose all three of their major sports franchises in a period of less than 10 years.  At the same time, they have been screwed over by team owners in the past and have never been able to recoup- their “prior investments”.

So, that is where we are in the saga of the future of the Oakland A’s franchise.  I suspect that something important will happen within the confines of this story in the next several months because as Snuffy Smith used to say in the daily comic strips – – “Time’s a-wasting…”

Since I started today with a note from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times, let me close with another of his observations:

“Retiring U.S. soccer star Carli Lloyd, 39, on the GOAL podcast, on why she won’t be playing at age 44 like QB Tom Brady: ‘Well, Tom Brady doesn’t have to have kids.’”

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



A College Football Debate Topic

            When Cincinnati beat Notre Dame – in South Bend no less – last Saturday, that outcome teed up a legitimate sports debate that can play itself out for one week or for the rest of the college football season and maybe even beyond that.  This topic is more interesting than the concocted shouting matches that ESPN and FOX Sports put out over the airwaves daily because this is one where intelligent and analytical minds can legitimately hold different views.  So, in proper debate format let me set out the proposition here:

  • Resolved: The year 2021 is the year when a college football team from a conference other than the so-called “Power 5” deserves to be in the CFP and that team is the University of Cincinnati.

Having put this topic on the table, let me try to frame the arguments on both sides.  In the end, each person will have to make the call for himself/herself regarding this proposition; what I will try to do here is to present both cases for your consideration.

Those who agree with the proposition as stated will point out very accurately that other than Alabama and Georgia – and maybe, maybe Iowa – there have not been consistently dominant teams on the field in college football in the early stages of 2021.

  • Ohio State has lost at home already.
  • Clemson has already lost twice.
  • Oklahoma is undefeated but has not dominated rather ordinary competition.
  • Notre Dame just lost at home to Cincinnati.
  • No PAC-12 team has been consistently noteworthy.
  • We will get a better sense of Iowa’s credentials when they play Penn State this weekend.

In prior years when the Selection Committee has overlooked unbeaten teams from outside the “Power 5”, one could make an argument that the undefeated status was built on a foundation of sand; the competition was sub-standard.  I am not going to try to pretend that this year’s Cincinnati schedule is the most difficult in the country; it is not.  However, it has several positive attributes:

  • About 3 weeks ago, the Bearcats went on the road to play Indiana and beat the Hoosiers on their home field.  Indiana was ranked in the Top 25 in pre-season polls and was ranked until Cincinnati handed them their second loss of the season.
  • Last week, the Bearcats went on the road to play Notre Dame and beat the Irish on their home field.  Notre Dame was ranked before the game and remains in the AP Top 25 even after the defeat.
  • Granted that Cincinnati has some softies in the schedule coming up, but they will also have to play SMU on November 20th.  As of this morning, the Mustangs are 5-0 and are ranked in the AP Top 25.

If the Bearcats finish the season undefeated, they will have wins over three teams that are ranked as of today and two of them will have been road wins.  This is their year to be in the CFP…

Next comes the response from those folks who are not “Bearcat Believers”…  It begins with the acknowledgement of two facts:

  1. Cincinnati has indeed beaten two ranked teams in the home stadiums of those two ranked teams.
  2. Cincinnati has bulked up its out-of-conference scheduling to take on those two ranked teams instead of feasting on cream puffs.

Now, having acknowledged those two facts – and even stipulating that another win over an SMU team that might be undefeated in late November when it plays at Cincinnati would be worthy of a hat tip – there is no certainty that Indiana is an important measuring stick given that the Hoosiers have three losses and are not ranked in the Top 25 this week.  Ironically, Cincinnati fans need to reverse their rooting interests very quickly and pull for Notre Dame to win out on the season making the Bearcats’ win last week appear even more impressive – – but Notre Dame had better not look too dominant in winning out lest its prestige status vault it over the Bearcats in terms of CFP selections.

Another factor working against Cincinnati as part of the CFP is – – television.  It is nice to imagine that the CFP is an athletic competition that is as pure as the driven snow and untainted by anything other than the athletic pursuits of the players and the coaches.  Here in the real world, that is not the case.  The CFP is a money-making machine that generates the money from television contracts, and the logical corollary to that indisputable fact is that television networks pay money to attract eyeballs to the screens.

With that in mind, consider that the Selection Committee must construct an attractive playoff bracket.  So, consider the University of Cincinnati in terms of its drawing power:

  • Cincinnati is a relatively large university with more than 40,000 students.  That means it has plenty of alums who will be attracted to their TV sets if not to the stadium itself.
  • However, just about every other school who might be slipped into the CFP instead of Cincinnati is also a large school whose alums will similarly pay attention to the game(s).
  • So, it is important to consider which teams would be more likely to attract viewers who do not have a “loyalty bond” to the teams on the field.

It is in that dimension of “football pedigree” and “football recognizability” among nationwide fans whose teams will not be playing in the CFP where Cincinnati falls a bit short.  If one looks at the Top 10 teams ranked this week by the AP and consider this recognizability factor, Cincinnati comes up short.  Here are those AP Top 10 teams:

  1. Alabama
  2. Georgia
  3. Iowa
  4. Penn State
  5. Cincinnati
  6. Oklahoma
  7. Ohio State
  8. Oregon
  9. Michigan
  10. BYU

Now comes the part where you weigh the evidence as presented and decide if you think this is the year for a team outside the Power 5 to be part of the CFP and if that team should be Cincinnati.

  • [Aside:  I will not entertain an argument that this is the year for a Group of 5 team to get into the CFP but that the correct selection therefrom is Coastal Carolina.  Yes, the Chanticleers are 5-0 but if you want to define a “cupcake schedule”, check out who those 5 opponents have been.]

Finally, today’s offering presents a basic question but no answers.  That brings to mind an observation by Nobel Prize winning physicist Richard Feynman:

“It is better to have questions you cannot answer than to have answers you cannot question.”

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



Highway Patrol Day

Today is the day to take a moment and remember Broderick Crawford…

The MLB playoffs are set; it went down to the wire.  Tomorrow is single elimination day; the winners of tomorrow’s two wildcard games play on, and the loser gets an early start on the offseason.  It is the MLB equivalent of March Madness in October.  The games tomorrow are:

  • Yankees at Red Sox – – telecast on ESPN
  • Cardinals at Dodgers – – telecast on TBS.

The wildcard winners will then face the team in each league with the best regular season record.  So, the bracket will look like this in the AL:

  • Wildcard winner vs Rays
  • White Sox vs Astros

Meanwhile in the NL, the bracket is:

  • Wildcard winner vs Giants
  • Brewers vs Braves

If the World Series eventually goes to 7 games, the last MLB game of the year will happen on November 3.  One way to avoid having World Series games played in near-freezing condition would be to have the World Series involve the Tampa Bay Rays and the LA Dodgers.  Just because that seems like a good thing to root for, that will be my hope for the World Series matchup.

While on the subject of baseball, I ran across this item from Gregg Drinnan’s blog, Taking Note:

“If you are an MLB fan of a certain age, take a moment or two to think about this note from Elias Sports Bureau: ‘No pitcher in the American League will hit 200 innings this season and there are currently only 13 qualifiers for the AL ERA title. There has never been a full season in which a league did not have a 200-inning pitcher.’ . . . RHP Ferguson Jenkins, a hall of famer who also is Canadian, threw more than 200 innings in 12 seasons, topping 300 in five of those. Yes, those days are long gone.”

One more baseball note if you please…  I went to check the “almost final” numbers for the number of MLB players who spent time on the Injured List this year and how much money they earned while in that status.  As of October 1st, here are the data:

  • In total, 823 players spent time on the IL.
  • Of those players, 481 were pitchers (58.4% of the total).
  • The number of man-days missed by players on the IL was 46,910.
  • Those players earned a total of $817,313,884.  [That’s a lot of cheese.]
  • Justin Verlander missed the entire season and earned the most money of any player on the IL.  Verlander collected $32M and change.
  • Ten players – including Verlander – collected $10M or more while on the IL.

Yesterday saw a first in the history of the NFL.  When the Chiefs beat the Eagles, Andy Reid became the first head coach ever to amass 100 or more wins with two different teams.  Reid had 140 wins with the Eagles and Sunday gave him his 100th victory as the head coach of the Chiefs.  Somehow it seems fitting that win came over his former team – – the Eagles.

Believe it or not, the NBA teams have reported to training camp and Exhibition Games are starting up.  Here are three narratives/storylines I have already heard more about than I need to hear:

  1. I do not care how the Ben Simmons/Sixers divorce/rapprochement is ultimately resolved – – but can it please happen sometime soon.  This story ran out of even marginally interesting twists about a month ago.
  2. Let me say the same thing here about John Wall and his desire to be traded from the Rockets.  Please make that happen this week or kill the idea entirely before the story takes root.  There is a parallel between the Wall and Simmons situations.  Both involve point guards who have never won anything important who are intruding their personal wishes on sports fans.  Get over this, please.
  3. The Brooklyn Nets have a “Big Three” that makes them title hopefuls.  But one of the three is Kyrie Irving who is – evidently – not vaxxed and has not indicated that he is going to be vaxxed.  The problem for him and the Nets is that in NYC he would not be allowed to play in an indoor venue if he remains unvaxxed and the Nets have 41 home games and a couple of games against the Knicks and some games against the Raptors – you need to be vaxxed to enter Canada.  So, Irving could be “unavailable” (the NBA term of art is “healthy scratch”) for more than half of the games this year.
  • Memo to NBA Writers and Sports Editors:  The only real news here is an announcement by Kyrie Irving that he is now vaccinated.  Until and unless you can report that fact, there is nothing new here.  Please ignore it.

Finally, Franz Kafka’s writings were full of situations involving alienation and absurdity; those qualities might well be summed up in one of his observations:

“The meaning of life is that it stops.”

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



Football Friday 10/1/21

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


College Commentary:


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.


NFL Commentary:


            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:

  1. Trevor Lawrence will be really good as a QB in the NFL once he has a competent OL in front of him.
  2. Ja’Mar Chase is the real deal at WR.
  3. The Jags’ defense is not very good – – I am being polite here.
  4. The Jags’ OL is simply bad.
  5. 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:

  1. The Bears’ OL is horrible.
  2. 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:

  1. 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
  2. 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.


NFL Games:


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:

  • Jets
  • Giants
  • Jags

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:

  1. Louisville/Wake Forest OVER 60
  2. Washington – 1 over Atlanta
  3. Detroit/Chicago UNDER 41.5
  4. KC – 7 over Philly
  5. SF/Seattle OVER 52
  6. 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………