For some folks, today is “POET’S Day” and the mantra is:
- “Punch Out Early, Tomorrow’s Saturday”
I just call it Football Friday and as usual I shall begin with a review of last week’s Six-Pack.
- College: 1-2-0
- NFL: 2-1-0
- Total: 3-3-0
- Money Line Parlays: 1-1
Looking back over 9 weeks’ worth of selections, here are the results:
- College: 8-12-0
- NFL: 16-17-1
- Total: 24-29-1
- Money Line Parlays: 1-2
Assuming an imaginary $100 wager on each of the Money Line parlays, there is a net “profit” of $87 as of this week even though only 1 of 3 parlays paid off.
College Football Commentary:
The Linfield College Wildcats dominated the Willamette Bearcats last week to the tune of 77-7. Linfield is 8-0 this season and will end its regular season this weekend at home in a Northwest Conference game against the Lewis and Clark Pioneers who will arrive at the kickoff with a 3-5 record for 2021 and a 2-game losing streak. A conference championship plus an undefeated season for Linfield should get them an invitation to the Division III post-season championship tournament. Go Wildcats!
Keeping an eye on the teams in contention for the Brothel Defense Award – the defense that allows the most scoring – here are the top three contenders as of this week:
- Kansas gives up 42.8 points per game
- Arkansas St. gives up 43.0 points per game
- UMass gives up 45 points per game
There was a major shakeup in the coaching staff at Nebraska this week. Head coach Scott Frost took a pay cut and kept his job, but Nebraska fired its Offensive Coordinator, Offensive Line Coach, Running Backs Coach and Quarterbacks Coach. Here is what Scott Frost had to say as the firings were announced:
“I appreciate the work and sacrifices these men have made for the University of Nebraska and this football program and wish all of them well.
“They are all men of outstanding character and good coaches, but as we strive for better consistency and execution, we needed fresh ideas and voices on our offensive staff.”
Translation: I get to keep my job and they don’t…
This mass firing seems a bit odd to me. The Huskers score an average of 28.6 points per game. Their overall record is 3-7 and their record in the Big 10 is 1-6. The Huskers defense ranks 65th nationally in Total Defense and the offense ranks 19th nationally in Total Offense.
So riddle me this:
- How is the obviously unsatisfactory record the fault of the offensive coaches?
Another college football coach finds himself out of a job this weekend; UMass fired head coach, Walt Bell last week. His record over three seasons at UMass was a dismal 2-23. As a college football independent and a school with no football “pedigree” in a part of the country that does not care about college football at all, UMass will never recruit enough top shelf football players to be a “better than average team”. The long-term future there is dreary.
Taking over for the final three games of 2021 is Alex Miller who was a four-year starter at UMass at center and has been the offensive line coach there for this season. Miller may find himself in a bittersweet situation:
- The last 3 games for UMass are Maine (Division 1-AA), Army and New Mexico State.
- As bad as UMass has been this year, the games against Maine and New Mexico State are winnable. Maine is 4-5 against Division 1-AA competition and New Mexico State is 1-8 with the win coming at the expense of a Division 1-AA team.
- Should UMass happen to win those 2 games, Alex Miller may seen as a savior and should be first in line to get that head coaching job – – and then face the dreary future outlook for UMass football.
Just yesterday, another down at the heels football program in New England – – UConn – – announced that it hired a new coach for next year. Surprisingly, it was Jim Mora Jr. who has had head coaching jobs in the NFL and with UCLA. That is a much bigger fish than I ever thought UConn could lure to the campus in Storrs. Reports say that Mora got a 5-year deal with a starting salary of $1.5M per year Here is something Mora said when he was announced as the new coach at UConn:
“It’s a chance to do what I love to do with a school that’s a national brand.”
I do not doubt for a minute that Jim Mora Jr. loves football and loves to coach football teams. However, I do doubt that UConn is a “national brand” in football. Maybe in women’s basketball and men’s basketball – – but not in football.
USC and Cal were supposed to play this weekend. However, an outbreak of COVID-19 in and around the football program at Cal forced the postponement of the game until December 4th. The interesting thing about that postponement is that USC/Cal will take place the day after the PAC-12 Conference Championship Game. Not to worry, neither USC nor Cal has any chance of being part of that Championship Game; as of this morning, both teams have 4 losses in PAC-12 games.
Before I get to a review of last week’s games of interest, let me suggest you take a moment and read about an unusual occurrence proximal to a Division 1-AA game involving South Dakota State and North Dakota State. A young moose wandered into the stadium where the game would be held the next day meandered about and then left the premises. That is just not likely to happen in many other college football venues. Here is a link to the “Moose Report”…
In Big-10 games last week…
Ohio St. 26 Nebraska 17: The Buckeyes remain in the picture for the Big-10 East title; and therefore, in the picture for the Big-10 Championship Game. The Buckeyes dominated the stat sheet, and they held the Huskers to 2 of 13 on third-down attempts, but they were never able to put the game away. That was not the kind of impression they wanted to leave with the CFP Selection Committee.
Purdue 40 Michigan St. 29: This is the second time this year that Purdue has beaten an undefeated Big-10 team that was highly ranked. Call it a “let-down game” for Sparty if you want but the Boilermakers ran up 591 yards of offense (536 yards in the air) for the game. This was not some sort of “fluky win” by Purdue.
Wisconsin 52 Rutgers 3: Where did that offensive explosion come from? Prior to this game, Wisconsin was averaging just under 22 points per game. The Badgers gained 579 yards on offense – – at least half again as much as one would have thought possible based on prior record. The Wisconsin defense was predictably dominant holding Rutgers to only 205 yards of offense on 60 offensive plays.
Iowa 17 Northwestern 12: The stat sheet for this game was “dead even”. Three turnovers by Northwestern provided the margin of victory here. Northwestern held Iowa to 2 of 14 on third-down tries and still lost the game.
Michigan 29 Indiana 7: The Wolverines needed a solid win and they got it here thanks to their defense which held Indiana to 195 yards of offense for the day.
In ACC action…
Clemson 30 Louisville 24: Is this a sign that the Clemson offense has finally started to jell? Twice in the last two weeks, the Tigers have scored 30 points in a game. Prior to the last two games – and ignoring a game against an overmatched Division 1-AA team – Clemson had scored 91 points in 6 games (15.1 points per game). This week, Clemson plays UConn for some unknown reason; expect another offensive outburst there. But has the Tigers’ offense found itself late this season?
BC 17 Va Tech 3: Are these Va Tech players trying to get their coach fired? If so, they are doing a pretty good job of it…
NC State 28 Florida St. 14: The Wolfpack defense limited the Seminoles running game to 38 yards on 27 carries in the game. NC State is still relevant in the ACC Championship picture; they trail Wake Forest by one game in the Atlantic Division race.
UNC 58 Wake Forest 55: This is the first loss for Wake, and it takes a bit of explaining to understand why Wake Forest remains undefeated in ACC games. This is a non-conference game that was scheduled independently by two teams in the same conference. Since it was not part of the inter-divisional scheduling of the ACC itself, it is not counted as a conference game. Hence Wake does not suffer a conference loss and UNC does not get credit for a conference win. Got that?
Miami 33 Ga Tech 30: Miami maintains relevancy in the ACC with this win. The Hurricanes have 2 losses in the Atlantic Division; UVa has 2 losses there and Pitt is the leader in the division with only 1 loss on its record.
Pitt 54 Duke 29: I said that Pitt needed a “get-back game” after losing two weeks ago and indeed Duke gave them that opportunity.
In the heartland where Big-12 teams play …
K-State 35 Kansas 10: The game was never really in doubt. The Kansas offense netted the grand total of 274 yards for the game.
TCU 30 Baylor 28: That pretty much puts Baylor on the sidelines for the Big-12 championship. Blame this loss on the Baylor defense; they gave up 562 yards to the TCU offense including 10.7 yards allowed per pass attempt.
Oklahoma St 24 West Virginia 3: The stat sheet supports this scoreboard result. The Mountaineers defense held the Cowboys to 285 yards on offense for the game. Normally, that produces a win for the team – – but not here. The Mountaineers’ offense only generated 133 yards on offense for the day and only 17 yards rushing on 33 attempts. The Cowboys are still 1 game behind Oklahoma in the big 12 standings with a head-to-head game upcoming…
Iowa St. 30 Texas 7: This was a total dump by Texas; the defense did not do its job (gave up 472 yards of offense to the Cyclones) and the offense was a no-show (gained only 218 yards for the day).
Next up is SEC action…
South Carolina 40 Florida 14: If Florida fires Dan Mullen this year, point to this game result as the straw that broke the camel’s back…
Tennessee 45 Kentucky 42: Seems as if the bloom is off the rose for Kentucky. After starting the season at 6-0, Kentucky has lost its last 3 games and all of them have been SEC games. Tennessee is 5-4 and should get to a bowl game this year because it only needs 1 more win to be bowl-eligible and remaining on the Vols’ schedule are games against South Alabama and Vandy.
Alabama 20 LSU 14: This game carried a 28.5-point spread at kickoff. ‘Bama had only a slim margin (13 yards) in total offense and ‘Bama was held to 6 yards rushing on 26 attempts. Somehow, Alabama won this game – – thanks to its defense.
Arkansas 31 Mississippi St. 28: Bulldogs’ QB, Will Rogers was 36 of 48 for 417 yards and 4 TDs with 1 INT – – but that was not enough. Arkansas is now bowl eligible; Mississippi State needs another win to achieve that status. Upcoming for the Bulldogs are Auburn, Tennessee State and Ole Miss…
Texas A&M 20 Auburn 3: The Aggies stay in the race for the SEC West slot in the SEC Championship Game – – but they need Alabama to lose another conference game. Auburn is in a tougher spot. They need Alabama to lose a game while Auburn wins out – – AND they need the Aggies to lose another conference game.
Georgia 43 Missouri 6: The Bulldogs dominated here but did not cover the 39-point spread. Georgia produced 505 yards of offense in the game; Mizzou managed only 273. The score was 40-3 at the start of the 4th quarter.
Pac-12 results from last week …
Utah 52 Stanford 7: Utah is clearly the better team in 2021 – – but by more than 6 TDs? The Utes hold a 1-game lead over Arizona St. in the PAC-12 South. Stanford is last in the PAC-12 North with a 2-5 conference record.
Colorado 37 Oregon St. 34 (2OT): Oregon St. won the stat sheet by almost 100 yards – – but that did not translate to the scoreboard. This conference loss makes it virtually impossible for the Beavers to win the PAC-12 North; the Buffaloes have been irrelevant in the PAC-12 South for some time now.
Oregon 26 Washington 16: Oregon is in control in the PAC-12 North. The stat sheet says this game should not have been this close. The Ducks produced 422 yards of offense and held the Huskies to only 176 yards. Washington only managed to record 7 first downs for the entire game.
Arizona 10 Cal 3: Arizona is off the schneid now at 1-8 for the season. The total offense for Cal in the game was 122 yards. The Bears tried to run the ball 26 times and gained only 28 yards. Nonetheless, Arizona could not put the game away; it was a one-score game.
And in miscellaneous games of interest …
UNLV 31 New Mexico 17: With this win by UNLV, there are no more winless teams in the country in 2021. The Lobos’ passing game netted a grand total of 36 yards in the game on 16 attempts. These are both potential SHOE Tournament teams as you will see below…
Houston 54 USF 42: Houston has only one loss this year – – but giving up 42 points to a mediocre USF team tells me they might not be quite ready for prime time.
Boise St. 40 Fresno St. 14: This result changed things atop the West Division of the Mountain West Conference. This is Fresno St.’s second loss and it puts them behind both Nevada and San Diego St. both of which have only one conference loss. Meanwhile, Boise St. and Air Force remain in contention in the Mountain Division as both schools are one game behind Utah St. in that division.
Cincy 28 Tulsa 20: Another lackluster win for Cincy over a mediocre opponent – – but the Bearcats are still undefeated at 9-0 for the 2021 season.
Rhode Island 35 UMass 22: Rhode Island is 6-3 as a Division 1-AA team in the Colonial Athletic Association Conference.
Memphis 28 SMU 25: That is two losses in a row for SMU dropping their record for 2021 to 7-2. The score at the start of the 4th quarter was 21-10 in favor of Memphis. SMU rallied late but fell short.
Army 21 Air Force 14 (OT): The Total Line was a ridiculously low 36 points – – and the game still went UNDER. Defenses played to stop the run so Army – – uncharacteristically – – threw the ball 13 times in the game. Air Force went even further out of its comfort zone and threw the ball 23 times. After a scoreless first half, Army led 14-3 at the end of the 3rd quarter but the game wound up tied and sent the game to OT. Both teams came to the game averaging more than 300 yards rushing per game. Here are the rushing stats for this game:
- Army: 108 yards on 43 attempts (2.5 yards per carry)
- Air Force: 175 yards on 49 attempts (3.5 yards per carry).
The SHOE Teams:
It is that time of year when I start to focus seriously on the teams I want to put in my imaginary SHOE Tournament where teams would determine on the field of play the worst team in the country. As a reminder the acronym SHOE stands for Steaming Heap Of Excrement.
My “tournament” has only 8 teams, but I will list 12 teams that seem as if they could wind up in the final listing as of today. Here they are alphabetically with their record for 2021:
- Akron 2-7
- Arizona 1-8
- Arkansas St. 1-8
- Florida International 1-8
- Kansas 1-8
- New Mexico 3-6
- New Mexico St. 1-8
- Ohio 2-7
- UConn 1-8
- UMass 1-8
- UNLV 1-8
- Vandy 2-7
College Games of Interest:
West Virginia at K-State – 6 (47.5): K State is tough at home. I will put K-State in a Money Line Parlay below at minus-220 odds
UConn at Clemson – 41 (52): This is what I meant above when I said I doubted that UConn was a “national brand” in football…
Duke at Va Tech – 11.5 (51): I wondered above if the Va Tech players were trying to get their coaches fired. Well, if they lose at home to Duke, I think they will achieve that goal… I canot see Tech losing here so I’ll put them in a Money Line parlay too.
BC at Ga Tech – 1.5 (55): BC needs another win for bowl eligibility…
Michigan – 1.5 at Penn State (48.5): Michigan still has a path to the Big-10 Championship Game but a loss here all but rules them out.
Rutgers at Indiana – 7 (42): Rutgers needs 2 wins to get to a bowl game. The oddsmakers must be spooked by the blowout loss suffered by Rutgers last week (see above) because Indiana is 2-7 for the season and 0-6 in Big-10 games – – and they are a TD favorite here.
Houston – 25 at Temple (54.5): Temple doesn’t score; they rank 120th in the country at 18.6 points per game. I like this game to stay UNDER; put it in the Six-Pack.
Maryland at Michigan St. – 12.5 (61): Sparty can still make it to the Big-10 Championship Game – – but not with a loss here. Michigan St. threw in a clunker last week; it must not do that again.
Syracuse at Louisville – 3 (55): The Orange can achieve bowl eligibility with a win here…
TCU at Oklahoma St. – 13 (55): This is a big game for the Cowboys and not so important a game for the Horned Frogs.
Kansas at Texas – 31 (62): When Texas covers this spread, you will hear the Texas fanboys screaming “Texas is back!” No, they are not…
NC State at Wake Forest – 2.5 (66): This game could be for all the marbles in the ACC Atlantic Division.
Oklahoma – 5.5 at Baylor (62): Baylor’s loss last week to TCU took the luster off this game. It still should be a fun game to watch…
Notre Dame – 5 at UVa (63.5): UVa leads the nation in total offense per game averaging 545.2 yards per game. Notre Dame is 70th in the nation in total offense per game. So why is Notre dame favored? Well, UVa ranks 122nd in the country in Total Defense. This game could be full of fireworks; I’ll take it to go OVER; put it in the Six-Pack.
Northwestern at Wisconsin – 24 (41): That is an awfully large spread for a game that should be low-scoring…
Arizona St. – 5.5 at Washington (45): Washington suspended its coach for this game after a sideline incident where he appeared to have slapped one of his players. The Sun Devils cannot afford a loss here…
Washington St. at Oregon – 14 (58): If the Cougars pull the upset here, they would take over first place – thanks to a tiebreaker – in the PAC-12 North. If you think that can happen here, the Money Line odds for Washington St. are +450 this morning.
Mississippi St. at Auburn – 5 (50.5): Auburn is playing to keep a hold on its path to the SEC Championship Game against Georgia. Mississippi St. is chasing a bowl game invitation.
New Mexico St. at Alabama – 51 (68): That is not a typo; Bama is favored by 51 points in this game. Only 1 Internet sportsbook has Money Line odds posted for this game. For your amusement, here they are:
- New Mexico St. +70,000
- Alabama minus-210,000
Texas A&M – 2.5 at Ole Miss (57): The Aggies have something to play for; they can still win the SEC West. Ole Miss cannot win the division and is already bowl eligible at 7-2. This Is only the second road game for the Aggies this year; they have played 6 home games and 2 neutral site games this year. The Aggies are also going into a Money Line parlay today.
Georgia – 20 at Tennessee (56): The Bulldogs have played nine games this year; that is a good sample size. Here is what the Georgia defense has done in nine games in 2021:
- They have allowed 6 TDs
- They have allowed 6 Field Goals
- They have allowed 5 PATs
- That is 59 total points allowed in 9 games = 6.6 points per game.
Purdue at Ohio State – 21 (63): Lightening has struck twice for Purdue in 2021 but not a third time here…
Miami – 3 at Florida State (61): This is a potential “season salvage game” for the Seminoles. Purely a hunch but I’ll take the Seminoles at home plus the points; put it in the Six-Pack.
Arkansas – 3 at LSU (59): That spread would have been inconceivable just two seasons ago…
Nevada at San Diego St. – 3 (46): This one is for all the cheese in the West Division of the Mountain West conference. Nevada has two losses for the season and both losses were on the road. The Aztecs are 10th nationally in scoring defense only allowing 16.7 points per game.
Maine – 1 at UMass (59.5): The oddsmaker is obviously not impressed by the coaching change at UMass…
The four teams with BYE Weeks are:
- Bears: They lost a close game to the Steelers on Monday night; it was their 4th loss in a row.
- Bengals: They took a drubbing from the Browns last week; their record is 5-4, but they are in last place in the AFC North this morning.
- Giants: They upset the Raiders last week; they will be pulling for a loss by the Eagles this week.
- Texans: They lost again last week; no one will miss their presence on the card for this week.
Earlier this week, Cam Newton returned to the NFL and more specifically to Carolina and the Panthers where he spent most of his career. The Panthers’ “experiment” with Sam Darnold is not working out plus the team had to put him on the IR meaning that he will be unavailable for a minimum of 3 weeks. The other QBs “in the room” are PJ Walker and Matt Barkley; that tandem is not going to put the fear of God in defensive coordinators around the NFL. So, to the rescue – hopefully for Panthers’ fans – comes Cam Newton who spent 9 seasons with the Panthers from 2011 to 2019.
Another major player move was announced yesterday. Odell Beckham, Jr. was put on waivers by the Browns and none of the 32 teams picked hm up along with his existing contract. Then as a free agent, OBJ narrowed down his landing spots to the Packers and the Rams; yesterday he signed with the Rams on a one-year deal described as “incentive-laden”. Beckham has showed diva tendencies in New York and again in Cleveland. Just recently, his father – – Odell Beckham, Sr. of course – – did a LaVar Ball imitation by causing a stir as the “parent of the player”.
If OBJ was unhappy about the number of times he got the ball in Cleveland, how is he going to feel in LA when he lines up with – and must measure up to – Cooper Kupp who leads the NFL in receptions; Robert Woods and Van Jefferson who have each shown top flight ability this year? I will not be surprised to hear that he is not happy after about a month with the Rams.
Notwithstanding last week’s loss to the Broncos, if there were an award to NFL assistant coaches for biggest turnaround on the field, I think Dan Quinn as the DC for the Cowboys has to be the front-runner. The Cowboys’ defense last year was as good as gauze this year they are giving up 24 points per game which may not sound good but is an improvement over the 29.6 points per game they gave up last year.
I ran across this item in Gregg Drinnan’s blog, Taking Note and I want to say that I agree with this 100%:
“You know what is really wonderful these days? You turn on the TV and tune into an NFL game. A woman is part of the on-field officiating crew and from the game’s start to its end no one mentions it.”
The Bucs will return to action this week after a BYE Week last week. The Bucs are not a young team, and they needed a week off; injuries have been piling up. The defensive backfield was hit hard as two starters – – Sean Murphy-Bunting and Carleton Davis – – had to go on IR. The Bucs brought in Richard Sherman to fill that gap; he lasted less than a game before he became a sideline observer. Antonio Brown is still wearing a walking boot and one report said he is 3 weeks away from practicing; Rob Gronkowski missed a couple of games but did practice after the BYE Week. The Bucs are still leading the NFC South by a half-game simply because the one guy who cannot be replaced has not missed any time this year.
The San Francisco 49ers are an enigmatic team. They are in last place in the NFC West trailing the Cards by 5.5 games with 9 games left to play. The Niners’ defense has been a mess; it ranks 25th in the NFL in points per game allowed (25.3 points per game). There are 7 teams who give up more points per game than the Niners; of that septet, only the Falcons have a .500 record. The strange thing is that in terms of total defense – – yards per game allowed – – the Niners rank 8th in the NFL. How does that happen?
Regarding last week’s games, we saw a reversal of the trend from several weeks ago. Instead of having a bunch of blowout games, this was the week where some of the generally weaker teams rose up to smite their NFL overlords. The mantra, “On any given Sunday …” turned out to be more like “On THIS given Sunday…”
Jags 9 Bills 6: Three turnovers by the Bills (2 INTs thrown by Josh Allen) were enough to keep the Bills out of the end zone all day long. The Bills outgained the Jags by 83 yards for the day, but only got to the Red Zone once in the game. There were two Josh Allens in this game; the one on the Jags played linebacker and all he managed to do was to intercept a pass, recover a fumble and record a sack.
Falcons 27 Saints 25: The Saints staged a late rally to make this game seem like a nail-biter, but the score was 17-3 Falcons at the start of the 4th quarter. Stop me if you have heard this before, but the Falcons’ defense disappeared in the fourth quarter. The Saints actually took the lead at 25-24 with about a minute left in the game, but they did not convert on a two-point PAT. The Falcons then drove the field in that final minute to kick a 29-yard field goal with 3 seconds left on the clock.
Broncos 30 Cowboys 16: This game was not nearly this close. The score was 30-0 with about 6 minutes to play in the game; the two scores by the Cowboys were meaningless and marginally contested. The Broncos held the ball for just over 41 minutes and outgained the Cowboys by 117 yards. The Broncos gained 190 yards rushing in the game and held the Cowboys to 78 yards rushing.
Giants 23 Raiders 16: The Raiders dominated the stat sheet outgaining the Giants by 158 yards in the game. Three turnovers (including a Pick-Six by Derek Carr) provided the Giants with the win. The Giants led 17-16 at the start of the 4th quarter; here are the 3 possessions by the Raiders in the 4th quarter:
- 8 plays for 70 yards leading to a Missed Field Goal
- 3 plays for 12 yards leading to an INT
- 10 plays for 52 yards leading to a Lost Fumble
Browns 41 Bengals 16: You got the idea during the first quarter that this was not going to be the Bengals’ day. Cincy took the opening kickoff and marched down the field to inside the 5 yardline. Then Denzel Ward intercepted a pass and took it back 99 yards for a Browns score. On the next possession, the Bengals drove the field again and scored to tie the game at 7-7. As the first quarter ended, the Bengals had 143 yards of offense (on pace for 572 yards for the game) and the score was tied.
Pats 24 Panthers 6: The return of Christian McCaffrey was not sufficient for the Panthers; he led the team in rushing (52 yards) and in receiving (54 yards). A Pick-Six by the Pats early in the third quarter put the game out of reach at 21-6.
Ravens 34 Vikes 31 (OT): Lamar Jackson took over the game in the 4th quarter and then again in OT to lead the Ravens to a come-from-behind win. Jackson alone accounted for 386 yards of offense for the Ravens. This puts the Ravens atop the AFC North with a comfortable 2-game lead in the loss column over the Browns and the Bengals and a 1-game lead in the loss column over the Steelers. The Vikes fall to 3-5 for the season putting them 3 losses behind the Packers in the NFC North.
Cards 31 Niners 17: The Cards outgained the Niners by exactly 100 yards in the game. The Cards led 14-0 at the end of the first quarter because here are the results of the Niners’ four possessions in the first quarter:
- 6 plays for 28 yards leading to a Punt
- 1 play for 18 yards leading to a Lost Fumble
- 4 plays for 11 yards leading to a Punt
- 6 plays for 68 yards leading to a Lost Fumble
The Cards achieved this win without Kyler Murray at QB; Colt McCoy stepped in and led the team with 249 yards passing plus 1 TD with 0 INTs. Also missing in action for the Cards were DeAndre Carter and AJ Green. The Cards’ defense forced the Niners’ offense to be one-dimensional holding the Niners to a meager 39 yards rushing for the game. I ran across another interesting stat relative to this game:
- The Niners have now lost 10 of their last 11 home games.
Chargers 27 Eagles 24: The Chargers outgained the Eagles by 114 yards in the game. Justin Herbert threw for 356 yards and 2 TDs in the game as compared to Jalen Hurts throwing for 162 yards and 1 TD. The score was tied at 24 with 6 minutes left to play. Then the Chargers drove 69 yards on 15 plays and kicked the game winning field goal with 2 seconds left in the game.
Chiefs 13 Packers 7: Jordan Love (190 yards) had more passing yards in the game than did Patrick Mahomes (166 yards). The Packers had 301 yards of offense and the Chiefs only gained 237 yards. The Packers had nine possessions for the game; here are the outcomes from those nine possessions:
- Missed FG
- Blocked FG
- Turnover on downs
Greg Cote of the Miami Herald had this observation about this game and the missing Aaron Rodgers:
“Unlike a good neighbor, Aaron wasn’t there for his teammates.”
Colts 45 Jets 30: The two defenses took a sabbatical this week. The two offenses combined to produce 1018 yards of offense in the game. The Jets lost Mike White at QB in the first half to an “arm injury”; no problem, the Jets went to their #3 guy, Josh Johnson, and all he did was post this stat line:
- 27 of 41 for 317 yards with 3 TDs and 1 INT
The Colts led 42-16 at the start of the 4th quarter and the Jets rallied to make the game look closer than it was.
Titans 28 Rams 16: The Titans did this without Derrick Henry there to control the clock and keep the Rams’ offense on the sidelines; give credit to the Titans’ defense here. The Rams outgained the Titans by 153 yards for the day but only recorded 1 TD in three trips to the Titans’ Red Zone. That Titans’ defensive unit also contributed a Pick-Six to the cause. The Titans led 21-3 at halftime because here are the results of the Rams’ possessions in the first half:
Steelers 29 Bears 27: Each team’s special teams’ unit tried to give the game away and there were more than a few ticky-tack calls by the officials in the game. Nevertheless, the Bears took the lead 27-26 with less than 2 minutes to play. That was enough time for the Steelers to set up a relatively short field goal try to take the lead. The Bears had one final heroic attempt to win the game with a 66-yard field goal try – – but it was short by about 10 -15 yards.
Dolphins 17 Texans 9: The Texans’ draft position benefits this week from a loss to the Dolphins and a win by the Jags. As of this morning, the Texans would draft second in next year’s draft immediately after the Lions figure out how to blow a draft pick. Tyrod Taylor was back as the starting QB for the Texans; he threw 3 INTs and in 4 trips to the Red Zone he produced zero TDs. Oh swell…
Watching the Ravens throw up on their shoes against the Dolphins last night, it occurred to me that through some unknown contagion vector, all the teams in the AFC North now suffer from “Play Down To The Level Of The Opposition Syndrome”. The Ravens kept the game close because they are a better team than the Dolphins even when the Ravens are at their putrid worst. However, a defensive TD by the Dolphins sealed the deal on a night when the Ravens’ offense was AWOL from start to finish.
Jags at Colts – 10 (47.5): The Jags’ defense is rounding into form; last week it kept the Bills out of the end zone for an entire 60-minute game. The Colts trail the Titans by 3 games in the AFC South and cannot afford another loss here. This is a game the Colts have had circled as a “W” ever since the NFL schedule was released in May.
Browns at Pats – 2 (45): The Browns turned up 4 positive COVID-19 tests this week and three of those positive tests – – meaning those players are out for Sunday’s game – – were running backs. Until and unless the Browns activate someone from the practice squad or sign someone off the street, the remaining RB for the Browns is D’Ernest Johnson.
There is good news and bad news for the Pats:
- Good News is they are back home after two weeks on the road
- Bad News is they are 1-4 at home this season.
Falcons at Cowboys – 9 (55.5): The Cowboys’ offense stunk out the joint last week not scoring a point until late in the 4th quarter when the Broncos had 30 points on the scoreboard. Oh, and the Cowboys’ defense did not cover itself in glory either giving up 30 points to the offensively mediocre Broncos. I see a big rebound for the offense against a Falcons’ defense that has had “disappearance issues”; I’ll take the Cowboys at home to win and cover; put it in the Six-Pack.
Bills – 13 at Jets (47): The Bills’ offensive unit should have been totally embarrassed in the team meetings this week after failing to score a TD against the Jags last week. Two weeks ago, the same offensive unit sputtered against the Dolphins and saw the score tied 3-3 at the half. Dolphins/Jags/Jets is the soft spot in the schedule and the Bills have not handled the first two thirds very well. I think this is the week the Bills’ offense gets back in the groove…
Saints at Titans – 3 (44): This is my runner-up for Game of the Week. The Titans should have been euphoric for most of this week after beating the Rams last week without Derrick Henry; it was their 5th win in a row. I suspect his absence will be more profoundly felt this week. Meanwhile the Saints have to be angry with themselves after a heartbreaking loss to the Falcons last week (see above). Here are two opposing trends:
- Titans are 3-1 at home this season.
- Saints are 3-1 on the road this season.
Bucs – 10 at Football Team (51): Both teams had last week off to rest, recuperate and reassess their goals for the year. For the Bucs, it is “Back to the Super Bowl”; for the Football Team, it is “Remembering Last Year’s Playoff Status.” The outcome of this game depends on something simple:
- Can the vaunted and thus far overhyped Washington front four put pressure on Tom Brady?
I don’t think so…
Lions at Steelers – 9 (43): The Steelers are an average to slightly better than average team in 2021; that is all. The Lions are on a glide path to – possibly – be the only team in NFL history to go 0-17; the Lions are in tear-down/rebuild mode and right now all they seem to have done is to tear-down. Like the little kid in a room neck deep in horses[p]it who keeps digging around and looking for a pony, here is a straw for the Lions’ coaches to snatch to try to convince the team they can win this game:
- Lions had a BYE last week, so they are rested and doubly prepared.
- Steelers are playing on a short week from Monday night’s game.
Like I said, this is grasping at straws… And by the way, there really is no pony in that room full of – – you know.
Vikes at Chargers – 3 (52.5): Both teams average scoring just under 25 points per game in 2021. Both teams give up just under 25 points per game in 2021. I think this will be a tit-for-tat game where each team that scores gets to watch the opponent do the same. I think this will be high scoring, so I’ll take the game to go OVER; put it in the Six-Pack.
Panthers at Cardinals – 10.5 (44): The Panthers’ defense is good; it ranks 7th in the league in Scoring Defense (20.3 points per game allowed) and 2nd in the league in Total Defense (293.1 yards per game allowed). However, I do not think that will be enough to win this one against a rested and recovered Kyler Murray and his Band of Merry Men. If Cam Newton plays and pulls out this game, he really is Superman.
Seahawks at Packers – 3 (49): We may get to see Russell Wilson vs. Aaron Rodgers this weekend; that was not necessarily a given due to recent happenings – – Wilson’s injury and Rodgers’ mendacity. Dwight Perry had a great way to look at this game in his column in the Seattle Times last weekend:
“The Seahawks’ Russell Wilson (broken finger) and the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers (unvaccinated arm) will face off Nov. 14 in Green Bay — maybe.
“Just call it the Pins and Needles Bowl.”
Eagles at Broncos – 2.5 (45.5): This is the Dog-Breath Game of the Week. Neither team is very good, and it is an inter-conference game which has the least impact on standings and tie-breakers and things of that sort. The Broncos just beat the best team in the NFC East on the road last week; now they get to play one of the also-rans in the NFC East at home this week. The only question here is:
- Can the Broncos avoid a let-down game?
(Sun Nite) Chiefs at Raiders – 2.5 (52): This is my Game of the Week. It is a longstanding rivalry game; it is a division game; both teams need to win this game badly. What else do you need? The Chiefs’ offense has been sputtering and wheezing for most of the season; after this much of the season, it is reasonable to wonder if it will ever “find itself”.
(Mon Nite): Rams – 4 at Niners (49): Both teams lost last week meaning both coaching staffs had the opportunity to chew folks out. I said above that the Niners are enigmatic, and I do not like the idea of an enigmatic team going up against a very good team that needs to win for playoff seeding purposes. I like the Rams to win and cover on the road; put it in the Six-Pack.
Let me review the Six-Pack for this week:
- Houston/Temple UNDER 54.5
- Florida St. +3 against Miami
- Notre Dame/UVa OVER 63.5
- Cowboys – 9 over Falcons
- Vikes/ Chargers OVER 52.5
- Rams – 4 over Niners
Now let me give you a 3-team college Money Line parlay and a 3-team NFL Money Line parlay:
- Kansas State at minus-220
- Va Tech at minus-450
- Texas A&M at minus-115 A $100 wager wins $232.
- Rams at minus-200
- Bucs at minus-450
- Broncos at minus-150 A $100 wager wins $206
Finally, since I cribbed a comment from Dwight Perry above, let me use another one here:
“Q: What do Russell Wilson’s surgically repaired finger and a hand grenade have in common?
“A: Neither is effective until you pull the pin.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………