Some Biblical scholars say that rains that caused the Great Flood – the one that Noah rode out on the Ark – began on a Friday. I have no reason to dispute such an interpretation, but I can report that today is Friday and the weather here outside Curmudgeon Central shows no indication of impending rain. So, I guess it is safe to get going on this week’s Football Friday.
Traditionally, I begin these rants with a review of last week’s Six-Pack. The fact that I will admit to have committed such thoughts to the memory of the Internet demonstrates my inability to embarrass myself; last week’s selections were putrid:
- College: 0-3-0
- NFL: 1-2-0
- Total: 1-5-0
- Money Line Parlay 0-1
Since the start of the season, here are the cumulative results:
- College: 7-10-0
- NFL: 14-16-1
- Total: 21-26-1
- Money Line Parlays 0-1
College Football Commentary:
The Linfield College Wildcats continued their unbeaten season last week with a home victory over the George Fox Bruins by a score of 38-7. Linfield is 7-0 for the 2021 season and 5-0 in Northwest Conference games. This week the Wildcats will travel to Salem, OR to face the Willamette Bearcats. Willamette is not having a good year on the gridiron; they bring a 1-7 record to the kickoff, and they give up 42.4 points per game. Go Wildcats!
Looking at the contenders for the Brothel Defense Award for 2020 – the college football team that allows opponents to score early and often:
- Arkansas St. gives up 42/4 points per game
- Kansas gives up 43.8 points per game
- UMass gives up 46.3 points per game
Over the last week there were two reports of coaching changes for college football. Both were surprising to me for different reasons.
- Gary Patterson and TCU went their separate ways. TCU has not had a sterling season in 2021; the Horned Frogs are 3-5 this week and one of those 3 wins came over a Division 1-AA team. The surprising element here is that Patterson has been the coach at TCU for 22 years; I never saw him leaving the program in mid-season.
- Clay Helton reportedly found a new job. Recall that Helton was fired at USC back in September; if reports are correct that he has already accepted a job, that would mean he was never really looking to take some time off and live on his buy-out check. Reports this week said that Helton has taken the job at Georgia Southern where the Eagles are 3-5 so far this season. In terms of prestige, it sure looks like a big step down for Helton from USC (PAC-12) to Georgia Southern (Sun Belt).
Kudos to the folks who did the scheduling for the teams in the Big-10 East. There are 4 very good teams there:
- Michigan St
- Ohio St.
- Penn St.
The schedule maker clustered the games among those teams toward the end of the season giving them added gravitas. Ohio State – for example – still has games against Michigan State and Michigan; Michigan State has Ohio State and Penn State still on the calendar.
Speaking of the Big-10, here are happenings there from last week …
Wisconsin 27 Iowa 7: In the first half, Iowa made 1 first down and had 19 yards of offense. The total offense for Iowa in this game was 156 yards; they had 24 yards rushing on 30 attempts. The Badgers did not set the world afire on offense gaining only 270 yards, but it was plenty given the performance of the defense.
Rutgers 20 Illinois 14: Rutgers is 4-4. Can they get to a bowl game? They need 2 wins from these remaining 4 games:
- Vs. Wisconsin
- At Indiana
- At Penn State
- Vs. Maryland
I doubt that the Scarlet Knights will be favored in any of those 4 games but that is why they play the game on the field and not just on paper…
Michigan St. 37 Michigan 33: Sparty moves to 8-0 for the season while Michigan is now 7-1. I thought this would be a tight defensive game and took it UNDER 51.5 last week. My bad! Michigan had 552 yards on offense to “only” 395 for Michigan St. State had a balanced offense for the day gaining 199 yards rushing and 196 yards passing. Michigan kicked a field goal with 12 minutes to play in the game to take a 3-point lead 33-30. From then on, here are the Michigan possessions:
- Turnover on Downs
Ohio St. 33 Penn St. 24: Ohio St. shut down the Penn St. running game holding the Lions to 33 yards on 29 attempts.
In games pertinent to the ACC…
Notre Dame 44 UNC 34: UNC was ranked in the top 10 in the pre-season polls and this loss puts their record at 4-4. Reporters never seem to hold the poll voters responsible for such “irregularities”.
NC State 28 Louisville 13: Louisville led the game 10-7 at the start of the fourth quarter and outgained NC State by 73 yards in the game. The Cardinals also committed 10 penalties in the game for 101 yards. Here are the final two possessions for Louisville:
- With 5:53 to go and State leading 21-13, the Cardinals get the ball at their own 25. Faced with fourth down and 2 yards to go, they go for it and do not make it. NC State gets the ball at the Louisville 34 and gets a TD to make the score 28-13.
- With 2:21 to go and State leading 28-13, the Cardinals get the ball at their own 25. Faced with fourth down and 3 yards to go, they go for it and do not make it. NC State gets the ball at the Louisville 34 and runs out the clock.
- Notice any symmetry here?
Wake Forest 45 Duke 7: Wake remains undefeated at 8-0. Moreover, Wake has scored 35 points or more in every game this year. The Deacons lead the Atlantic Division; NC State is in second place there with only 1 conference loss. Here is the rest of the schedule for Wake Forest; it is not an easy one:
- At UNC
- Vs. NC State
- At Clemson
- At BC
Clemson 30 Florida St. 20: I took FSU +9.5 in last week’s Six-Pack. FSU had a PAT blocked in first quarter. Oh well…
Syracuse 21 BC 6: Syracuse won its 5th game of the season meaning it can be bowl-eligible with another win. The last bowl appearance for the Orange was in 2018 when they won something called the Camping World Bowl. Syracuse has 3 games left to play in order to find another win; here is the schedule:
- BYE Week this week
- At Louisville
- At NC State
- Vs. Pitt
Miami 38 Pitt 34: I said last week that Pitt tends to lose a game or two a year that they should not. Here was one of them. Pitt is now down to 6-2 overall but they still lead the ACC Coastal Division with only this one conference loss. Miami was a 9.5-point underdog and were led by a big game from freshman QB, Tyler Van Dyke. This is Miami’s second consecutive win over a ranked opponent. Miami has only 2 conference losses; this win keeps them relevant in the ACC.
Va Tech 26 Ga Tech 17: Coaches often say they strive for balance in their offense. Ga. Tech had a perfectly balanced offense here; they gained 183 yards rushing and 183 yards passing. They had 20 rushing plays and 26 passing plays in the game.
In Big-12 action last week …
Baylor 31 Texas 24: Baylor is still in the race for the Big-12 championship with only 1 conference loss. Texas led 21-10 with 9 minutes left in the third quarter and 21-17 after three quarters. Then from about 9-minute mark in the third quarter to the 8-minute mark of the 4th quarter, the Texas defense gave up 3 TDs on three drives that totaled 208 yards. Ugly…
Oklahoma 52 Texas Tech 21: That is the kind of dominant win the Sooners should hang on mediocre teams. Where has that sort of performance been earlier this year? Sooner freshman QB, Caleb Williams posted this stat line for the day:
- 23 of 30 for 402 yards with 6 TDs and 0 INTs.
Oklahoma St. 55 Kansas 3: The Cowboys posted 534 yards on offense; Kansas managed to gain only 143 yards including only 44 yards passing. Kansas had 7 first downs in the game and 3 turnovers. It was a debacle. The score was 45-0 with 3:50 to play in the 3rd quarter when Kansas kicked a 45-yard field goal to avoid the shutout.
In SEC games last week…
Mississippi St. 31 Kentucky 17: The Bulldogs’ defense had it second consecutive strong showing in this game holding the Wildcats to only 216 yards in the game. Meanwhile the Air Raid offense was clicking with 344 yards gained in the air. Mississippi State’s QB, Will Rogers (not that one, he’s dead) set an SEC record for completion percentage in a game with more than 30 pass attempts. Rogers was 36 for 39 in the game. Mississippi State needs one more win to be bowl eligible. Here are the Bulldogs’ remaining 4 games:
- At Arkansas
- At Auburn
- Vs. Tennessee State
- Vs. Ole Miss
The Bulldogs have been to bowl games in each of the last 11 seasons. They need to find a win on that schedule and the game at home against Tennessee State looks good from here…
Auburn 31 Ole Miss 20: Here is another game where the stat sheet is much closer than the scoreboard. The difference in offensive output was only 21 yards. Auburn QB, Bo Nix, had an efficient and effective game passing for 276 yards including one TD pass and rushing for two more scores. Ole Miss turned the ball over on downs 3 times in the second half. Auburn has only 1 SEC loss; they have a difficult schedule ahead of them, but if they can get to the Iron Bowl against Alabama with only 1 loss, then a win there would put Auburn in the SEC Championship game against Georgia. Here is Auburn’s schedule:
- At Texas A&M
- Vs. Mississippi St.
- At South Carolina
- Vs. Alabama
Georgia 34 Florida 7: In terms of offense the teams were even; Florida gained 355 yards and Georgia gained 354 yards. The score was 0-0 at the end of the first quarter; then, the score was 24-7 at halftime. How did that happen? Here are the Florida possessions in the second quarter:
- Turnover on Downs
Georgia has Mizzou, Tennessee and Ga Tech (as Division 1-A teams) left on its schedule. With their win last week and Kentucky’s loss to Mississippi St., I believe Georgia is guaranteed to be the SEC East champion this year. They will be huge favorites in two of those games and will probably be only a 10-point favorite over Tennessee. That will put Georgia in the SEC Championship Game – – and unless they get totally blown out there, I see them headed to the CFP.
Out there in PAC-12 territory …
Washington St 34 Arizona St. 21: The stat sheet for this game says it should have gone to OT. Sun Devils gained 406 and the Cougars gained 400 yards. The difference here is rather obvious:
- Arizona St had 5 turnovers (2 INTs and 3 lost fumbles)
- Washington St. had 1 turnover (an INT)
Utah 44 UCLA 24: There is another game that was very close on the stat sheet but not on the scoreboard. Utah scored touchdowns on its first 4 possessions and never looked back. Utah now leads the PAC-12 South Division with only 1 conference loss; Arizona State is second in the South with 2 losses.
Oregon 52 Colorado 29: This outcome was never in doubt. The Ducks led the game 45-14 at the start of the 4th quarter. Oregon leads the PAC-12 North with 1 conference loss.
Cal 39 Oregon St. 25: By losing here, Oregon St. now has 2 conference losses in the North Division. If they can get to the final game against Oregon with only two losses, they could win the division with a victory over the Ducks. Cal showed balance on offense along with efficiency. The Bears gained 258 yards in the air and 245 yards on the ground. Cal was also 12 for 18 on third down attempts. Three turnovers by the Beavers did not help their cause.
USC 41 Arizona 34: Arizona is still winless at 0-8. The USC defense should not be proud of this game giving up 34 points. In the 7 games leading up to this, Arizona had never scored as many as 20 points in a game and had been shut out once by Colorado.
In miscellaneous college football games:
Nevada 51 UNLV 20: UNLV drops to 0-8. Nevada gained only 20 yards (18 carries) rushing but then again UNLV only gained 10 yards rushing (24 carries). Clearly this was an aerial contest…
Fresno St. 30 San Diego St. 20: That is the first loss for San Diego St. In the West Division of the Mountain West Conference, there are three teams with only one conference loss – – Fresno St., San Diego St. and Nevada. Fresno State would own the tiebreakers here since it has beaten both Nevada and San Diego St.
Houston 44 SMU 37: This is the first loss for SMU; both teams are now 7-1 for the season. Houston led 20-0 late in the first quarter but the game turned out to be a close game in the end. The Cougars have won 7 in a row since losing in Week 1 to Texas Tech.
Coastal Carolina 35 Troy 28: Troy is a 4-4 team. Maybe the “Coastal Carolina mystique” is no more?
Cincy 31 Tulane 12: The score was 14-12 at the half; this was not a dominating performance by Cincy. Tulane is a 1-win team and that win came at the expense of Division 1- AA Morgan St. Another head-shaker here is that Tulane has given up 40 or more points in 5 of their 7 losses; Cincy only scored 31…
Liberty 62 UMass 17: Liberty covered 5 TDs this time… The score was 41-3 at halftime.
Foreshadowing… Starting next week I will be focusing on the teams that are in contention for an invitation to my imaginary SHOE Tournament – – where we could det3erming on the field which team is the worst team in the country for 2021.
College Football Games of Interest:
(Fri Nite) Utah – 9 at Stanford (54): This is an important game for the Utes as they seek to maintain control of the standings in the PAC-12 South Division. Interestingly, the spread for this game opened at 6 points and jumped to 7 points almost immediately. The spread hung in at 7 points until Thursday when it went up to 9 points in the span of a couple of hours.
Army at Air Force – 3 (37.5): Get ready for running plays in this game. Air Force leads the nation in rushing attempts per game (63.8) and in rushing yards per game (318.4) Army is second in the nation in rushing attempts per game (63.6) and is also second in the country in rushing yards per game (312.3). Games between the service academies are always fun to watch…
Pitt – 21 at Duke (64): Pitt could use a “get-right game” now after losing last week to Miami. Duke will give them that opportunity.
NC State – 2.5 at Florida State (56): The Seminoles were within a score of Clemson down to the final play of the game last week. NC State cannot afford a loss which might put them 2 games behind Wake Forest in the ACC Atlantic Division race.
Wisconsin – 13 at Rutgers (38): Rutgers is looking for two wins to become bowl eligible; this is not likely to be one of the places they will find one. I will say, however, that this is a large spread to cover in what looks to be a very low scoring game.
Clemson – 4 at Louisville (46): If Louisville loses here, it will be their 4th conference loss; they are irrelevant in the ACC Championship Game picture. If Clemson loses, it will their 3rd conference loss and they too would become irrelevant. An interesting game…
Iowa – 12 at Northwestern (40.5): The Hawkeyes began the season 6-0 with wins over teams like Iowa State and Penn State. They have lost their last two games and have only scored 7 points in each of those losses. As an homage to Bill Cullen on To Tell the Truth:
- Will the real Iowa Hawkeyes please stand up.
Houston – 13 at USF (53): A let-down game for the Cougars after beating undefeated SMU last week?
Indiana at Michigan – 20 (51): The Wolverines cannot afford another in-conference loss…
Wake Forest at UNC – 2.5 (77): The oddsmakers believe that the Deacons’ perfect season will come to an end here. Regarding that big number on the Total Line consider:
- Wake is 5th in the nation in scoring (43.8 points per game).
- UNC is 22nd in the nation in scoring (36.5 points per game).
K-State – 24 at Kansas (56): This is a rivalry game where one of the rivals just stinks.
Florida – 18 at South Carolina (53): Florida coach Dan Mullen really needs his Gators to win this game convincingly…
Baylor – 6.5 at TCU (58.5): Baylor needs a win to stay within shouting distance of Oklahoma in the Big-12. TCU will either be emotionally charged or emotionally let down by the news of Coach Patterson’s leaving the school. Baylor is the better team and I think their motivation here is more predictable; I’ll take the Bears to win and cover on the road; put it in the Six Pack.
Oregon St. – 10.5 at Colorado (54): This is an important game for the Beavers as they strive to maintain relevancy in the PAC-12 North. For Colorado, this is just another football game…
USC at Arizona St. – 8.5 (60): This is an important conference game for the Sun Devils; not so much for the Trojans.
Missouri at Georgia – 39 (60): Even with that spread, this is a conference game and not a body bag game…
Ohio St. – 14.5 at Nebraska (66): The Buckeyes have been on a roll since losing to Oregon in Week 2. Since that game, they have only been held under 41 points once – – last week against Penn State. Ohio State leads the country in total Offense at 547.6 yards per game. Nebraska ranks 44th in the country in Total Defense and 26th in the country in scoring defense. I like the Buckeyes to keep rolling here to stay in the Big-10 East picture and to maintain the attention of the CFP Selection Committee; I’ll take them on the road to win and cover; put it in the Six-Pack.
Mississippi St. at Arkansas – 5.5 (55): The Bulldogs need one more win for bowl eligibility; can they squeeze it out here? I mentioned above that State’s QB, Will Rogers went 36 for 39 passing last week. Here is data mining stat:
- Against SEC opponents, Arkansas allows 66% pass completions.
I like the Bulldogs on the road plus the points; put it in the Six-Pack.
Oklahoma St. – 4 at West Virginia (49): The Cowboys cannot afford another conference loss, but this is a dangerous game for them. West Virginia is a tough out in Morgantown…
Tennessee – 1 at Kentucky (56): The spread here opened with Kentucky as a 3-point favorite, but it has moved slowly and steadily in the direction of Tennessee all week long.
Michigan St. – 3 at Purdue (53): The Boilermakers were the ones to hand Iowa its first loss of the season; can they do that again to Sparty? Is this a classic let-down game for Michigan St. coming off a big win in a big rivalry game last week against Michigan?
Auburn at Texas A&M – 4 (49): This is a big game for the Aggies; they still have a path to the SEC Championship Game. They need to beat Auburn here and then root for Auburn to beat Alabama. Since Texas A&M beat Alabama on the field, they would own the tiebreakers there.
Oregon – 7 at Washington (51): This is an intense rivalry that gets far less coverage than it deserves.
Cal – 11.5 at Arizona (51): Is this where Arizona finds its first win of the season? I don’t think so…
UNLV at New Mexico – 1.5 (45): Is this where UNLV finds its first win of the season? They have a real shot here because New Mexico is not a good football team.
LSU at Alabama – 28.5 (67): In recent years, LSU would not have been a 4 TD underdog to half of the NFL teams…
Teams with a BYE Week this weekend:
- Bucs: They lost last week and have two weeks to prepare for the Football Team.
- Football Team: They lost last week and have two weeks to prepare for the Bucs.
- Lions: They lost last week – – as they seem to do every week of every year…
- Seahawks: They won last week and hope to have Russell Wilson back on the field next week.
Over the last two editions of Football Friday, I have taken note of how many blowout games there have been in the NFL and wondered if growing numbers of non-competitive games might damage the league’s popularity. This week, NFL Insider, Jason LaCanfora, on CBSSports.com echoed my thoughts. You can find the entirety of his comments here.
Here are a few of his comments:
“We aren’t even at the midpoint of the 2021 season – the first of the expanded 17 game schedule – and there appears to be no end of high-school style beatdowns that are over in many cases before halftime.”
“It feels like there is a blowout problem arising. Sometimes when it’s quite predictable, and occasionally when it’s not. But, most often, it is one of the usual suspects involved, and Vegas is going to have to continue pushing the point spread to new highs in many cases to account for the trend.”
“We’ll see if this ends up being a blip. Or if these egregiously lopsided kind of affairs are something we can come to expect a few times in each expanded window. But the degree to which some of these teams are unable to put forth a fight for even a half feels a little bit like what MLB is going through.”
With that as a prelude, there were “only” 3 outrageous games last week; I have pulled them out of the pile of results from last week…
Seahawks 31 Jags 7: The Jags won the stat sheet 309 yards to 229 yards. Geno Smith was efficient if not spectacular throwing for 195 yards and 2 TDs with 0 INTs. The Seahawks’ defense has been heavily criticized this year, but it was pitching a shutout until the final two minutes of the game when the Jags finally scored. That was the Jags’ only visit to the Red Zone all day long. In addition, the Seahawks’ defenders stopped the Jags on 3 fourth-down tries.
Rams 38 Texans 22: This is a blowout game because the score was 38 – 0 at the end of the third quarter. Matthew Stafford threw for 305 yards and 3 TDs. The Rams’ defense recorded 5 sacks in the game.
Eagles 44 Lions 6: This was the “early game” on FOX in my viewing area – – until the score was 31-0 and they switched us over to a “more competitive game”. Jalen Hurts only threw for 114 yards in this game but the Eagles ran the ball for 236 yards on 46 carries. (They only attempted 14 passes in the game.) They held the ball for 35 minutes and converted 5 of 10 third down situations. The Eagles’ defense sacked Jared Goff six times and pressured him continuously. Frankly, the Lions played as if someone had dissolved Quaaludes in their sideline Gatorade.
The rest of the games were as competitive as we have come to expect from the NFL…
Panthers 19 Falcons 13: There was not a lot of offense in this game. Matt Ryan threw for 146 yards, and he was the most prolific passer on the field. A big difference in the game was third-down efficiency; the Panthers converted 10 of 17 situations while the Falcons went 3 for 10. Panthers’ QB, Sam Darnold had to leave the game with a concussion and was in the league protocol for concussions. Calvin Ridley did not play in the game for personal reasons; that could not have been something Matt Ryan wished for.
Steelers 15 Browns 10: This game was the CBS early time slot game in my viewing area. It was about as artistic an endeavor as an axe fight. Steelers’ kicker, Chris Bowell was injured in the game on a fake kick and the Steelers had to try two-point attempts after their two TDs in the game; neither of those conversions worked. The Browns had the only turnover in the game, and it came in the 4th quarter while the game was a one-score contest. Ben Roethlisberger’s record against the Browns in Cleveland for his career is now 12-2-1. The Steelers’ defense deserves plenty of credit for this win holding the Browns to 10 points and only 3 of 10 third down conversions.
Saints 36 Bucs 27: Jameis Winston had to be helped off the field in the first half with a knee injury incurred when he was “horse-collar tackled” on a scramble. Trevor Siemian came in to finish the game and posted a positive stat line:
- 16 of 29 for 159 yards with 1 TD and 0 INTs
That may not look as gaudy as Tom Brady’s stat line – – but it was enough to win the game:
- 28 of 40 for 375 yards with 4 TDs and 2 INTs
The Saints took the lead at 29-27 in the final two minutes with a 23-yard field goal. On the next possession, Tom Brady threw a Pick Six to end the game. This win puts the Saints on a par with the Bucs in the NFC South since both teams have 2 losses on the season – – and the Saints hold the tiebreaker as of now. These tams will meet again on December 19th in Tampa. Circle that game; it should be a critical game in the standings.
Here is the most interesting thing to me about the outcome of this game:
- The Saints have beaten the Packers – resoundingly – and the Bucs. Those are two excellent teams.
- Meanwhile the Saints have lost to the Giants – a bad team in the same season.
Broncos 17 Football Team 10: The game was tied at 10 apiece at the start of the 4th quarter. Melvin Gordon scored his second TD of the game in the final 5 minutes to give the Broncos the lead. Later, he lost a fumble at the Denver 24 yardline giving the Football Team a shot to tie the game in the final minute; but the Broncos’ defense held on for the win. The Football Team saw its recently signed kicker, Chris Blewitt have two field goals blocked in the game. The first was not much of a block because the ball was only about 6 feet off the ground when it reached the line of scrimmage where all the linemen were pushing and shoving one another. Two weeks ago, the Football Team demonstrated total ineptitude in the Red Zone against the Packers and last week they got to the Red Zone twice and scored zero points. The Broncos’ defense had 5 sacks and stopped the Football Team on 4 fourth-down tries.
I ran across this stat from this game:
- WFT ran 19 plays inside the Broncos 30-yardline. Total offense on those 19 plays was 17 yards. Eleven of those plays resulted in either no gain, a loss or a turnover.
Pats 27 Chargers 24: The stat sheet for the game was as close as the scoreboard. The Pats’ offense was not particularly efficient, but the Pats got 4 field goals and a Pick-Six TD in the game. The Chargers gained 163 yards rushing on only 20 carries.
Bills 26 Dolphins 11: This game was 3-3 at halftime; here are the results of the first three possessions by the Dolphins in the second half:
- Three and out
- Three and out
- Three and out
The Dolphins’ defense tried to keep it close, and the score was a manageable 10-3 after three quarters. The Bills put the game away in the 4th quarter with two TDs and a field goal in their 3 possessions in that 4th quarter. The Dolphins turned the ball over twice including an INT in the final 3 minutes of the game.
Jets 34 Bengals 31: I said last week in reference to this game that the oddsmakers feared a letdown game from the Bengals after beating the Ravens in Baltimore two weeks ago. Well, this was a letdown. Mike White made his first NFL start for the Jets; he threw for 405 yards with 3 TDs and 2 INTs, and the Jets amassed 511 yards on offense for the day. The Bengals led 24-17 at the start of the 4th quarter and coughed up a hairball from that point on. The Jets held the Bengals to 41 yards rushing for the day. The Jets have only 2 wins this year but they have come at the expense of the Bengals and the Titans – – two division leading teams. The Jets’ defense sacked Joe Burrow 3 times in the game.
Niners 33 Bears 22: The Niners dominated the stat sheet 467 yards to 324 yards. Nevertheless, the Bears led 13-9 at halftime and 16-15 at the start of the 4th quarter. Here are the second half possessions for the Niners; it is not an endorsement for the Bears’ defensive unit – – although to be fair Khalil Mack was not on the field for the game:
- Field Goal
- Kneel out the game
Justin Fields ran for 103 yards and a TD in the game. Jimmy Garoppolo ran for 4 yards and 2 TDs in the game. Seriously …
Titans 34 Colts 31 (OT): This was a game of momentum swings. The Colts took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter but only led 17-14 at the half. This win puts the Titans firmly in command of the AFC South race. The Titans have two losses, and the Colts have 5 losses – – including ceding the tiebreaker to the Titans in the process. This score of this game is one that the Titans seem fond of in 2021; consider these results from earlier in the 2021 season:
- October 31: Titans 34 Colts 31 (OT)
- October 18: Titans 34 Bills 31
- September 19: Titans 33 Seahawks 30 (OT)
Derrick Henry suffered a foot injury that some reports say will be season ending He had surgery on the foot in the last week; the Titans signed Adrian Peterson to the practice squad; it does not look good for a Derrick Henry return this season. It is easy to say that the Titans offense for the last year and a half has “run through Derrick Henry.” That is not a cheap attempt at a play on words; it is simply a statement of fact.
Cowboys 20 Vikes 16: No Dak Prescott; no problem. Cooper Rush played QB for the Cowboys and acquitted himself very properly here:
- 24 of 40 for 325 yards with 2 TDs and 1 INT.
For the game, the Cowboys had 142 more yards on offense than the Vikes had, but two turnovers and 11 penalties against the Cowboys for 96 yards kept the game close. The winning TD came with 55 seconds left in the game when Cooper Rush hit Amari Cooper for a short TD.
Chiefs 20 Giants 17: This was hardly an impressive win for the reigning AFC Champion against a team that is 2-6. The Giants led early in the 4th quarter 17-14; however, in the 4th quarter, the Chiefs drove for two field goals while the Giants’ possessions produced a punt and then a turnover on downs. The schedule for the Chiefs for the rest of the 2021 season is most difficult.
- As of this morning, the Chiefs will not play a team with a losing record between now and the final game on Jan 9, 2022.
Yes, I watched some of last night’s Colts/Jets game; the first quarter was interesting; after that… The Jets had no answer for Jonathan Taylor who averaged 9.4 yards per carry in the game. The Colts as a team ran the ball for 260 yards. Mike White injured his arm and had to leave the game; at that point, the Jets’ fate was sealed.
Texans at Dolphins – 5.5 (46): The spread here opened at 7 points; the drop means there was “excess money” coming into the sportsbooks on the Texans. Why anyone would bet on this game is a mystery to me. Yes, I know; Tyrod Taylor is back to play QB for the Texans this week; maybe that is what “moved the line”. This is unequivocally the Dog-Breath Game of the Week. The loser here will likely gain in the competition for a high draft pick in 2022; other than that, there should be no interest here.
Broncos at Cowboys – 10 (49): The Broncos’ defense is good, but the Broncos’ offense is less than mediocre. I cannot see how the Broncos can keep pace.
Vikes at Ravens – 6 (49.5): The Vikes play to their competition’s level and the Ravens are a good opponent. The Ravens had a BYE Week last week to prepare for this one. I have a hunch that the Ravens’; coaches were all over the defense for the last two weeks after a miserable outing last time and that the defense will show up lean and mean this week. Give me the Ravens at home to win and cover; put it in the Six-Pack.
Pats – 3.5 at Panthers (40.5): Bill Belichick has done a number on Sam Darnold and his former teammates in NY over the past couple of years. He can do it again this time despite a stronger cast around Darnold – – and this assumes Darnold is fully recovered from his concussion last week. I like the Pats to win and cover on the road; put it in the Six-Pack.
Bills – 14.5 at Jags (48.5): I think the Bills will get themselves back to their norm after a week to ponder a lackluster showing against the Dolphins last week and will turn this into a rout.
Browns at Bengals – 2.5 (47): This could be the Game of the Week if you live in Ohio and/or are a fan of any AFC North team. However, we take a larger and longer view here in Curmudgeon Central; it is a good game but not the best one of the week. Once again, Odell Beckham, Jr. is in the middle of a team soap opera in Cleveland. Don’t look now, but the Browns are in last place in the division.
Raiders – 3 at Giants (46): It is a long trip and a “body clock game” for the Raiders. The good news is that it will be the Giants that take the field against them. The Raiders lead the AFC West this morning; they have plenty of reasons to take this game seriously.
Falcons at Saints – 7 (42): Which Saints team will we see? The one that beat the Bucs last week and that beat the Packers by 5 TDs earlier this year? Or the one that lost to the Giants?
Chargers – 1 at Eagles (50): The spread opened as “pick ‘em” and expanded from there. One sportsbook this morning had the line at 2.5 points. This is another “body clock game” for a west coast team but the fact is that the Chargers are the more talented team. The Chargers have lost 2 games in a row and are in danger of falling out of contention; the Chargers will put a stop to that in this game; I like the Chargers to win and cover; put it in the Six-Pack.
Packers at Chiefs – 7 (48): This is an example of the “Aaron Rodgers Effect”. This game opened as a “pick ‘em” game – – until Rodgers was ruled out for a positive COVID-19 test. This would have been the Game of the Week until that positive COVID-19 test. Now, the interesting thing will be to see how much Jordan Love has learned by studying and practicing alongside Aaron Rodgers. The key to the game now is simple:
- The Packers will emphasize the running game.
- The Chiefs have been vulnerable to the run all year long.
- Can the Chiefs contain the Packers’ running game?
Cardinals at Niners – 1 (45): Kyler Murray sprained an ankle 2 weeks ago and it looked as if it were still bothering/limiting him last week. Is it fully healed? DeAndre Hopkins had limited practice time last week. Is he near full strength? When you marry those injuries/limitations with the absence of JJ Watt from a leadership position on the defense, this game could be a lot closer than the team records in 2021 might indicate.
(Sun Nite) Titans at Rams – 7 (52.5): Here is the Game of the Week. The Titans have significant adversity to overcome with Derrick Henry on the shelf. With the Colts victory last night, the Titans could see their 4-game lead cut to 3 games only a week after beating the Colts head-to-head. The Rams hope that Von Miller is a quick study and that he is ready to contribute on defense.
(Mon Nite) Bears at Steelers – 6.5 (39): The game should be close; that is the reason to watch it. It would take a lot of imagination to think that this will be an exciting offensive display.
Let me add in here a College Football Money Line Parlay:
- Ole Miss at minus-330
- Mississippi St, at +160
- Fresno St. at minus-200.
- Parlay wins $408 on a $100 wager
And for good measure, here is an NFL Money Line Parlay:
- Patriots at minus-180
- Chargers at minus-120
- Steelers at minus-280
- Parlay wins $287 on a $100 wager.
Finally, I will close here with an NFL observation from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:
“The Minnesota Vikings are turning their practice facility into a community COVID-vaccination site.
“Hardcore fans are demanding to take their shots downfield.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………