Football Friday 1/7/22

            Since this is the first Friday in 2022, it is appropriate that I set the year on a proper course and deliver the first Football Friday of the year.

[Aside:  And before I get any snarky emails from a former colleague in Pismo Beach, let the record show that I have no plans for “Tennis Tuesdays” in 2022.]

Here are the results of last week’s Six-Pack:

  • College:  0-1-0
  • NFL:  4-1-0
  • Total:  4-2-0
  • Money Line Parlays:  1-0  Net “profit” for the week = $116

Here are the cumulative results since the start of the season:

  • College:  14-20-0
  • NFL:  34-32-2
  • Total:  48-52-2
  • Money Line Parlays:  5-10  Net “loss: for the season = $minus-61


NFL Commentary:


In last week’s game against the Bears, the Giants net passing yardage was minus-10 yards.  Remember that in the NFL, yards lost on sacks is subtracted from the yards gained passing to arrive at the net passing yards.  I read somewhere that Ryan Leaf had a game with minus-19 yards net passing so I went to try to find the game.

I assumed that event must have happened during Leaf’s stint with the Cowboys because I recalled that those games were “less than successful”.  But I was wrong; that performance came in Leaf’s rookie year with the Chargers.  The game venue was KC and here are the pertinent stats:

  • 1 of 15 for 4 yards with 0 TDs and 2 INTs
  • Sacked 2 times for total loss of 23 yards
  • Net passing yards = minus-19 yards.

I mention the Giants’ futility because it was only 6 games ago when the Giants fired Jason Garrett as their Offensive Coordinator and installed Freddie Kitchens as the play-caller.  Last week may have been the nadir of the season for the Giants but here is stark reality:

  • In the 6 games since Jason Garrett was fired, the Giants have scored 5 TDs on offense.
  • In their last 25 offensive possessions, the Giants have scored exactly 1 TD.

There are situations where firing a coach – or a coordinator – resolves a problem.  Those situations are not commonplace; Jason Garrett was not the stumbling block for the Giants on offense this year; the problem is substandard play by too many players on the offensive unit.  There is no need to remind me; I know that QB, Daniel Jones, got hurt and is out – – but most folks who have paid attention to the NFL for the last 5 years know that Mike Glennon cannot be a team’s QB for weeks on end; it simply won’t work and that is what the Giants’ braintrust installed as its “backup plan”.  There is only one difference between Mike Glennon and Brock Osweiler and Paxton Lynch:

  • Glennon is still in the NFL cashing a check.

After watching the Steelers/Browns on Monday night and enduring the seemingly incessant focus on the possibility that this would be Ben Roethlisberger’s final home game, I came to appreciate even more a comment last weekend by Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times on the subject.  It was short and to the point – – which cannot be said about the broadcasters earlier this week:

“QB Ben Roethlisberger said “this could be it” — he’ll likely play his final home game Monday night after 18 seasons as a Steeler.

“If anybody knows it’s time, it’s a guy known as Big Ben.”

In 2021, the Saints set a record for defensive futility giving up 7042 yards.  That was in a 16-game season but now the league plays a 17-game season.  It does not appear as if any defense is going to threaten that total of yards allowed; going into the final week, the Jets have the most porous defense in the league giving up 6336 yards; I doubt they will give up 700 yards this weekend.

However, in future years, that number could be eclipsed and that is why it is important to focus on the “per-game” stats in situations such as these  Consider:

  • The Saints gave up 440.1 yards per game in 2012
  • A team giving up 7043 yards in a 17-game season would *only* give up 414.3 yards per game.

Speaking of bad defense, the Ravens have the worst pass defense in the league in terms of yards per game allowed – – 281.7 yards per game allowed.  Some might point to injuries as the source of this ignominy; others might criticize the defensive game planning.  I prefer to think about it this way:

  • The Ravens’ defensive backs are doing their part to demonstrate ways to counter the spread of COVID-19 by playing pass defense with social distancing.

Baker Mayfield will undergo shoulder surgery and will not play in the final Browns’ game this week.  He has been playing with an injured left shoulder for just about the entire season; his performance has suffered significantly.  There are “reports” that the Browns might “move on” and that Mayfield could be available to other teams looking for a QB.  Adam Kilgore covers the NFL as a whole for the Washington Post went so far as to write this earlier this week after Monday night’s performance against the Steelers:

“And then came Monday night.  Injured or not, eliminated from contention or not, supported by listless performances and shoddy play-calling or not, Mayfield delivered a declarative performance in the Browns’  24-16 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.  He removed any sheen of ambiguity about his future.  The Browns cannot sign Mayfield beyond the fifth-year option for 2022 they exercised back in April, and they need to explore moving on from him this offseason.”

OK, let me assume that Messr. Kilgore is right in his assessment and let me add the Browns to a list of twelve teams that might/should be looking to upgrade themselves at QB.  Here is my list:

  1. Broncos – – Bridgewater is good but an upgrade would be welcomed there
  2. Browns – – assuming Mayfield has worn out his welcome there
  3. Dolphins – – Tua’s lack of consistency is a problem
  4. Football Team – – Heinicke is fine as a backup to fill in for a game or two
  5. Giants – – if Jones is not the answer, the other QBs on the team are certainly not.
  6. Panthers – – the Darnold Experiment flamed out
  7. Raiders – – lots of fans think Carr is an impediment; not I; how about the GM?
  8. Saints – – is Winston the answer – – because Hill is not
  9. Seahawks – – could this be the “Russell Wilson Offseason of Discontent?”
  10. Steelers – – Roethlisberger is done; the backups there inspire little confidence
  11. Texans – – who knows what will happen there?
  12. Vikes – – has Cousins worn out his welcome there?

That is one-third of the league on my listing – – and I purposely left off teams with rookie QBs or ones where the young QB has not played enough to give the coaches aa solid basis for evaluation – – such as Justin Fields with the Bears or Trey Lance with the Niners. The important thing to note here is that there are not necessarily enough “quality QBs” to fulfill those teams seeking an upgrade and that leads GMs to “reach” for a QB in the Draft or to make a trade that is destined to be less-than-satisfactory.

Moving on to last week’s games:

Steelers 26  Browns 14:  Najee Harris won this game for the Steelers with 188 yards rushing and a TD.  I said above that Ben Roethlisberger is done; here is the stat line he produced in this game:

  • 24 of 46 for 123 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT.
  • That is 5 yards per completion and less than 3 yards per pass attempt.

As to Baker Mayfield’s performance in that game, forget the overall stats which were not particularly attractive; simply consider this:

  • Mayfield completed his first pass attempt for a 20-yard gain
  • He then threw 10 consecutive passes that were incomplete – – one of them was intercepted.
  • He took 9 sacks in the game – – not all his fault but a couple were totally his fault.

Bills 29  Falcons 15:  The Falcons led 15-14 at the half and then got shut out in the second half.  Josh Alen only had 120 yards passing in the windy snowy conditions of the game, but he also added 81 yards rushing to the Bills’ offense.

Pats 50  Jags 10:  Can the season end soon enough for the Jags and their fans?  Mac Jones threw 3 TDs in the game; Trevor Lawrence threw 3 INTs in the game.

Rams 20  Ravens 19:  Matthew Stafford played like the football equivalent of daredevil, Evel Knievel.  He threw for 300 yards and 2 TDs; he also threw 2 INTs – – one of them a Pick-Six.

Bengals 34  Chiefs 31:  JaMar Chase ran roughshod over the Chiefs’ secondary with 11 receptions for 266 yards and 3 TDs.  The Chiefs’ secondary could be their Achilles Heel.  Both teams’ offenses were clicking here; total offense for both teams in the game was 889 yards.

Raiders 23  Colts 20:  Derek Carr led a drive in the final 2 minutes to set up the winning field goas as time expired.  This was in improbable win for the Raiders; consider these happenings:

  • Raiders lost the turnover battle 2-0
  • Raiders lost a TD on a reversal by replay officials
  • Raiders allowed Jonathan Taylor to rush for more than 100 yards; Colts were 9-0 whenever that happened in 2021.

Bears 29  Giants 3:  Mike Glennon produced minus-10 yards of passing offense in the game (see above).  For icing on the cake, he also threw 2 INTs.  The Bears dominated in a game where they only produced 249 yards of offense.

Titans 34  Dolphins 3:  So much for that 7-game win streak for the Dolphins.  Tua was 18 of 38 with an INT in the game.  Meanwhile, the Titans – – without Derrick Henry remember – – ran the ball for 198 yards on 40 attempts.

Eagles 20  Football Team 16:  This game was a replay of the first meeting between the two.

  • Football Team runs out to a lead.
  • Eagles pitch a shutout in the second half and win the game

The Football Team had the ball 4 times in the first half and got a TD and 3 Field goals out of those 4 possessions.  Here are the second half possessions for the Football Team:

  • 3 plays and a PUNT
  • 6 plays and a PUNT
  • 7 plays and a TURNOVER ON DOWNS
  • 11 plays leading to an INT.

Bucs 28  Jets 24:  The Jets led 24-10 with about 7 minutes to play in the 3rd quarter but the defense could not close it out.  For the day, the Bucs gained 467 yards on offense and Tom Brady threw for 405 of those yards.

Chargers 34  Broncos 13:  The stat sheet for the game looks a lot more even than the result shown on the scoreboard. The biggest statistical difference is that the Chargers converted 9 of 15 3rd down tries while the Broncos were successful on only 3 of 11 attempts.

Saints 18  Panthers 10:  The Saints’ defense should be the ones doing the celebrating.  After the Panthers had 10 points on the board with 13 minutes to go in the second quarter, the Saints’ defense took over; here is what happened to the Panthers’ offense from that point on:

  • 3 plays leading to a LOST FUMBLE
  • 3 plays and a PUNT
  • 4 plays and a PUNT
  • 3 plays and a PUNT
  • 3 plays and a PUNT
  • 10 plays leading to a MISSED FIELD GOAL
  • 3 plays and a PUNT
  • 11 plays leading to an INT.

Cardinals 25  Cowboys 22:  The Cowboys’ offense was not very consistent here; it produced only 45 yards rushing for the game.  Kyler Murray put on a show here accounting for just over 300 yards from scrimmage and throwing 2 TD passes.

Niners 23  Texans 7:  Trey Lance was the QB here and the Niners amassed416 yards on offense.  His stat line was:

  • 16 of 23 for 249 yards with 2 TDs and 1 INT

Seahawks 51  Lions 29:  The Seahawks’ offense had been dormant for much of 2021 but they dominated here; the Seahawks ran the ball for 265 yards and threw for an additional 232 yards.  The Seahawks led 38-7 with about 14 minutes left in the 3rd quarter; the Lions “rallied” to make the score look less awful that the game actually was.

Packers 37  Vikes 10:  The QB matchup was Sean Mannion vs. Aaron Rodgers; it was not a fair fight.  The Packers’ defense loaded up to stop the run because they did not fear the Mannion-orchestrated passing offense.  The result was that the Vikes gained only 27 yards rushing for the game.  The Vikes had the ball 11 times in the game; here are the results:

  1. 5 plays leading to a TURNOVER ON DOWNS
  2. 3 plays and a PUNT
  3. 3 plays and a PUNT
  4. 3 plays and a PUNT
  5. 3 plays and a PUNT
  6. 9 plays leading to a FIELD GOAL
  7. 3 plays and a PUNT
  8. 6 plays leading to a TURNOVER ON DOWNS
  9. 8 plays leading to a TD
  10. 3 plays and a PUNT
  11. 7 plays leading to a TURNOVER ON DOWNS

The Packers dominated time of possession 38:33 to 21:27.


NFL Games:


This week, the NFL games are more than a little bit like Exhibition Games prior to the start of the regular season.  Teams that are in the playoffs may – – or may not – – play their regular starters for some or all the game.  Even teams out of the playoffs might want to “get a look” at some young players for purely evaluative purposes.  Some coaches may believe – – rightly or wrongly – – that the outcome of this one game is pivotal to their retaining their job for next year.  Making picks this week makes me realize why the Oracle at Delphi always gave cryptic answers to questions posed…

(Sat 4:30 PM EST) Chiefs – 10 at Broncos (45):  The Chiefs can still get the #1 seed in the AFC Playoffs, but they must win this game to keep that hope alive.  The Chiefs secondary had a bad day last week ( see above) but this week they are playing Drew Lock and not Joe Burrow/JaMar Chase.  Here is a trend you may find interesting:

  • The Chiefs have won 12 games in a row over the Broncos and Patrick Mahomes has never lost a game to the Broncos.
  • Last time Broncos beat Chiefs was in Week 2 of 2015.

I think the Chiefs will score – – and then score again – – and then score some more; I like the Chiefs to win and cover; put it in the Six-Pack.

(Sat 8:15 PM EST) Cowboys – 7.5 at Eagles (43):  Both teams are in the playoffs so I have no idea who will play and how long they might play for either team in this game.  Maybe you will be seeing Dak Prescott and Jalen Hurts play QB in this game – – or maybe it will be Cooper Rush against Gardner Minshew II.  The NFL flexed a meaningless game to the Saturday Nite prime time slot because the Cowboys for sure and the Eagles to a lesser extent virtually guarantee top shelf ratings.  Cha-ching!

Packers – 4 at Lions (44.5):  The spread opened on Tuesday with the Lions as 2-point favorites at home; by Wednesday morning, the line had moved to Packers – 3.5 and it seems to have settled in at 4 points for the balance of the week.

Bears at Vikes – 3.5 (44.5):  This is a meaningless game; both teams will be watching the playoffs on TV.  Maybe the semi-interesting story line is that both coaches are on VERY hot seats.  The Vikes will have Kirk Cousins back off the COVID-reserve list for the game; the Bears have The Troika of Mediocrity at QB on terms of Andy Dalton, Justin Fields and Nick Foles.

Pats – 6 at Dolphins (40:  These teams met in Week 1 and the Dolphins prevailed in Foxboro 17-16.  The Pats are in the playoffs and could possibly be the AFC East champs by Sunday night.  The Dolphins are out of the playoffs, and this could easily be a “payback game” for the Pats’ coaching staff.  I think the Pats take a lead here and then do not take their foot off the gas; I’ll take the Pats on the road to win and cover; put it in the Six-Pack.

Colts – 15.5 at Jags (44):  For the Colts, this game is “Win And You’re In”; for the Jags this game is a merciful end to a reeking season.  If the Colts’ defenders really take this game seriously, they could well hold the Jags to single digits.  Having said that, take a look at these recent trends:

  • Jags are 2-2 against the Colts in their last 4 meetings
  • Jags are 2-27 against the rest of the NFL over that same time span
  • Colts won the first meeting of these teams this year by 6 points

There are reports that a group of fans in Jax plan to attend the game wearing clown costumes to show what they think of the Jags this season.  That may be the most interesting aspect to this game…

Jets at Bills – 16 (41):  The Bills will be the AFC East champs with a win here; they will be a wildcard team with a loss and a win by the Pats.  The Jets will be playing for “pride” whatever that means in a season where the Jets’ record is 4-12 and they have been outscored by 177 points.

Panthers at Bucs – 8 (42):  The Panthers’ season has collapsed; the Bucs are in the playoffs.  However, the Bucs’ performance last week against the sorry-assed Jets was not the kind of game a playoff team wants to have as a “momentum-builder.  I see Tom Brady and Bruce Arians setting this one up as a “statement game”; I like the Bucs to win big; put it in the Six-Pack.

Titans – 10 at Texans  (43):  A win for the Titans here will put them in the AFC Playoffs as the #1 seed meaning a BYE Week and home games until/unless they lose.  Seven weeks ago, these teams met and the Texans – – the Texans – – won the game 22-13.  That means the Titans’ coaching staff can chew on the players to put out full effort here.

Football Team – 6.5 at Giants (38.5):  This is the Dog-Breath Game of the Week.  To be most generous, both teams have “disappointed their fans”; to be more accurate, both teams stink.  It is possible that the Giants will give Jake Fromm his second start of his career; it simply has to be an improvement over his first start, right?  The Football Team carries a 4-game losing streak to the kickoff; the Giants are on a 5-game losing streak.  The Football Team is 3-5 on the road; the Giants are 3-5 at home.  This game is what I call an “AYE Game”:

  • Avert Your Eyes !

Saints – 4.5 at Falcons (40):  The Falcons are out of the playoffs; the Saints can still get in with a win here and some help.  Everyone says that QB is the most important position in the NFL; and with that as a “guiding principle” let me say that Matt Ryan is a better QB than either Taysom Hill or Trevor Siemian.   I’ll take the Falcons at home plus the points; put it in the Six-Pack.

Steelers at Ravens – 5 (41):  The Ravens are eliminated from the playoffs; the Steelers can still get in with a win here and some help elsewhere on the schedule.  Can the Ravens’ league-worst pass defense stand up to the clearly limited Steelers’ pass offense?  That is the question that makes this game interesting…

Bengals at Browns – 6 (38):  The Bengals are in; the Browns are out.  The Browns will start Case Keenum at QB; the Bengals might play Joe Burrow because their seeding in the playoffs is not yet determined.  If Burrow does not play, the Bengals will go with Brandon Allen.

Seahawks at Cards – 6.5 (48.5):  The Cards can win the division with a win here and a Rams’ loss.  For the Seahawks, this game is nothing more than a final paycheck for the 2021 season.  The Cards played well last week in beating the Cowboys – – but they had not looked even remotely close to “good” for several weeks prior to that game.  The Seahawks blew the doors off the Lions last week but still gave up 29 points to a team that only averages 18 points per game.  I think the Cards use this game to “get sharp” for the playoffs; I like them to win and cover at home; put it in the Six-Pack.

Niners at Rams – 4 (44.5): This is my runner-up for Game of the Week, and it did not miss that label by more than a nose.  The Niners need the win to get in the playoffs; the Rams need the win to secure the NFC West title; the Rams have won 5 in a row.  A key to beating the Niners is to stop their running game.  The Rams’ run defense ranks 6th in the NFL; the burden is on them.

(Sun Nite) Chargers – 3 at Raiders (49.5):  Call this the play-in game for the AFC Playoffs; the winner is in, and the loser gets to wallow in the shame of losing this one; in poker terminology, both teams are all-in for this one  This is the Game of the Week.  The Raiders are at home, and they have the better defense; they give up an average of 30 yards per game less than the Chargers.  I like home teams that have the better defense when they are underdogs; give me the Raiders plus the points; put it in the Six-Pack.

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

  • Chiefs – 10 over Broncos
  • Pats – 6 over Dolphins
  • Bucs – 8 over Panthers
  • Falcons +4.5 against Saints
  • Cards – 6.5 over Seahawks
  • Raiders +3 against Chargers

And “just for the halibut”, here is a Money Line Parlay for this week:

  • Chiefs @ minus-500
  • Bucs @ minus-370
  • Pats @ minus-270  to win $109 on a $100 wager

Finally, comedian and social commentator, Mort Sahl, died late last year.  Here is one of his social observations about the evolution of American culture:

“In the Forties, to get a girl you had to be a G.I. or a jock.  In the Fifties, to get a girl you had to be Jewish.  In the Sixties, to get a girl you had to be Black.  In the Seventies, to get a girl you’ve got to be a girl.”

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



2 thoughts on “Football Friday 1/7/22”

  1. Great column. Of the twelve NFL teams listed searching for a future QB, only Derek Carr has a chance to lead the Raiders to an NFL playoff spot. I am one of those who say to dump Derek Carr. My disheveled mind can be assuaged with a playoff berth via the Sunday night win. After eight years, that seems fair to me.

    1. TenaciousP:

      Derek Carr is only 30 years old; he probably has another 5-8 years of “better-than-average” QB play left in his career. If there is a “sure-fire franchise QB” in this year’s draft, I did not see him play. I think the Raiders would have to acquire someone they think highly of in a trade or via free agency to replace Carr. If I were the Raiders braintrust, I would pllay the hand I have…

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