I managed to make it through the two-week gap between Conference Championship Games and the Super Bowl without mentioning the upcoming game or the storylines surrounding the upcoming game. Actually, the biggest NFL news in this two-week stretch was totally focused off-field:
- Tom Brady is retiring.
- New allegations of sexual assault involving Washington Commanders’ owner Daniel Snyder.
- Brian Flores sues the NFL and three specific teams
Now it is time for a Football Friday focus on more upbeat stuff. Let me begin as usual with a review of the abbreviated Six-Pack from two weeks ago:
- College: 0-0-0
- NFL: 2-1-0
- Total: 2-1-0
- Money Line Parlay: 0-1 Net loss for the week = $100.
Those results bring the cumulative records for the season to:
- College: 15-20-0 [Unimpressive]
- NFL: 46-38-2 [It is “in the black” even with the vig.]
- Total: 61-58-2 [It is “in the red” with the vig.]
- Money Line Parlays: 7-13 [Nevertheless, this shows a profit of $267.]
Obviously, there will be no Six-Pack this week. I will make a selection in the game, and I will cobble together a parlay bet using the Money Line odds and a prop bet or two.
College Football Commentary:
There is an interesting situation ongoing at Auburn university. Head coach Bryan Harsin is under fire there and players are “entering the transfer portal” en masse along with assistant coaches jumping ship. Auburn boosters cannot be happy that the team finished the season 6-7 – the first time since 2012 the Tigers were below .500. That negativity is only magnified by the fact that Auburn lost its last 5 games in a row.
The “come-from-ahead defeat” in the Iron Bowl last year had to be a gut-punch for the Auburn faithful because it came on the heels of two losses in a row to Mississippi State and South Carolina – – not exactly powerhouses. Moreover, earlier in the season Texas A&M and Georgia both beat the Tigers by three scores or more. Last year was Harsin’s first year at Auburn coming there after seven successful years at Boise State where his teams went 69-19.
But that is not the worst of it… Harsin’s contract was signed last year; it was reportedly a 6-year deal worth $31.5M; that works out to be $5.25M per year. Just a few weeks ago, Auburn gave basketball coach Bruce Pearl a contract extension worth $50M over 8 years.
- Do the math there and the head basketball coach at an SEC school is going to make more money per year than the head football coach.
- That is heresy in SEC country.
One storyline for the game deals with Joe Burrow should he lead the Bengals to a win. That would make Burrow the only player ever to win the Heisman Trophy, an NCAA National Championship and a Super Bowl. When I first heard that statement, I thought it could not possibly be right after 55 years of Super Bowls – – but it checks out. Joe Namath won a Super Bowl and a National Championship but did not come close to winning the Heisman which went to John Huarte in 1964.
I have seen a lot of speculation that Jerry Rice’s record for receiving yards in a Super Bowl game (215 yards) might be eclipsed in this game. Two WRs here have had breakout games in the last month or so that might threaten the mark:
- JaMarr Chase had 266 yards receiving against the Chiefs in Week 17 of the regular season.
- Cooper Kupp had 189 yards receiving in the Rams win over the Bucs in the divisional round of the playoffs.
It would be embarrassing for the Bengals if Kupp were to break Rice’s record in the game on Sunday. Jerry Rice’s record happened in Super Bowl 23 – – the Niners beat the Bengals in that game. If a record that stood for 30+ years and was set against the Bengals were to be broken against the Bengals again, that would not be a happy thing for folks in Cincy.
When the Bengals beat the Titans to advance to the AFC Championship Game, they did so despite allowing the Titans to register 9 quarterback sacks. That ties an NFL playoff record:
- Chiefs sacked Bills’ QBs 9 times in January 1967.
- Niners sacked Bears’ QBs 9 times in January 1985.
- Browns sacked Jets’ QBs 9 times in January 1987
- Chiefs sacked Oilers’ (now Titans’) QBs 9 times in January 1994.
The big difference here is that the Chiefs in ’67, the Niners, the Browns and the Chiefs in ‘94 all won those games where they recorded 9 sacks. Somehow, that was not enough for this year’s Titans.
Time for a Quick Quiz… Which play call was the dumbest one in NFL playoff history:
- The Chiefs and Andy Reid opting to run a play from the 1-yardline at the end of the first half against the Bengals with no time outs and only a few seconds on the clock
- The Seahawks and Pete Carroll not handing the ball to Marshawn Lynch at the Patriots’ 1-yardline at the end of Super Bowl 49.
Fifty words or less… My answer is the Seahawks call was worse because it was the Super Bowl and not a Conference Championship game and because it was at the end of the game not in the first half. That is my answer, and I am sticking to it…
And mentioning that game segues into the next area for comment. Al Michaels will be calling the game on Sunday, and he also called the Seahawks/Pats Super Bowl game back in 2015. This will be his last game with NBC; his contract is up, and NBC is going to move on and put Mike Tirico on the microphone for the Sunday Night Football package starting next year. Just a few comments on that issue alone:
- Mike Tirico is a good play-by-play announcer; Al Michaels is a great play-by-play announcer.
- Reportedly, Michaels was on board with this transition back when NBC hired Tirico away from ESPN thinking that at the end of his contract he would retire at age 77. According to rumors, that is no longer the case and Michaels is supposedly weighing options to “take his talents elsewhere”.
- All of that is good news for NFL fans and not-nearly-so-good news for NBC.
The most prevalent rumor is that Michaels will sign with Amazon – – yes, THAT Amazon – – because Amazon will have the rights to Thursday Night Football starting next season. Another tantalizing rumor has it that Troy Aikman will bolt from FOX and join Michaels as the Amazon announcing team.
What is interesting to me in all this is that most rumors have ESPN “standing pat” with their Monday Night troika and 10 more ManningCast episodes on ESPN2 for next season. At the same time, Louis Riddick from that Monday night troika has an interview with the Steelers for their open GM position. There are loads of moving parts in the announcers’ shuffle this year; for me, the best news is that Al Michaels is probably not going to ride off into the sunset. From my perspective, Al Michaels still has his fastball working…
Here are comments on the Conference Championship games from two weeks ago…
Rams 20 Niners 17: It was another nail-biter of a game keeping with the theme of the NFL playoffs ever since the mass blowouts in the wildcard round. The Rams dominated the stat sheet outgaining the Niners by 114 yards. The Niners led 17-7 to start the fourth quarter but that quarter belonged to the Rams:
- The Niners had 3 possessions in the 4th quarter; they went Punt, Punt, INT.
- The Rams had 4 possessions in the 4th quarter; they went TD, FG, FG, kneel out the clock.
The Rams were without any time outs for the final 10 minutes of the game. They tried two challenges in the second half and lost both and they wasted a time out by not getting the play called into the huddle in a reasonable time. I cannot recall ever seeing an NFL team with no time outs left with that much time left on the clock.
Bengals 27 Chiefs 24 (OT): The bad call of the day was the call I referenced in the Quick Quiz above. The Chiefs led 21-10 and had a chip shot field goal in front of them – – and they did not take the opportunity. It happened too early in the game to say definitively that it determined the outcome, but those points would have looked awfully good in terms of game momentum. The Chiefs’ offense simply went dormant in the second half – and in the OT; here are the outcomes of the Chief’s possessions after halftime:
- 5 plays and a PUNT
- 5 plays and a PUNT
- 2 plays and an INT
- 3-and out
- 14 plays leading to a FG
- 3 plays and an INT
Lots of people pointed to defensive adjustments made by the Bengals at halftime that put the brakes on the Chiefs’ offense. If that is indeed the case, that is an indictment of Eric Bienemy as the offensive coordinator/play-caller for the Chiefs. Remember, Bienemy is the poster child for “deserving Black coaches” who seem not to get head coaching offers. Then go look at the offensive output for his offense in the second half and OT of a Conference Championship Game…
The Super Bowl Game:
(Sun 6:30 PM EST Rams – 4 vs. Bengals (48.5): These lines started out at these numbers two weeks ago and have oscillated around these numbers by only a half-point either way for the entire time. The oddsmakers really read the mood of bettors for this game very accurately.
Obviously, there will be a lot of focus on the Bengals’ OL and how it protects Joe Burrow from a strong Rams’ defensive pass rush. Remember, this is the OL that gave up those 9 sacks to the Titans’ defense… I think that is going to be a problem for the Bengals for much of the game; Burrow bailed out the OL in the Titans game; does he have any pixie dust left in his pocket?
Nonetheless, I think one key to this game is everyone in the Rams’ secondary not named Jalen Ramsey. No matter who Ramsey is assigned to cover on a play, he is going to do a good job more than 90% of the time. However, if Jalen Ramsey is a triple scoop hot fudge sundae, the rest of the Rams’ defensive backfield is low-fat vanilla frozen yogurt. If those “other guys” do not kick it up a notch in this game, Joe Burrow could throw for 450 yards – even if he gets sacked a half dozen times along the way.
Another key will be the Rams’ ability to run the football against the Bengals run defense which ranked 5th in the NFL in the regular season giving up only 102.5 yards per game but that defense has allowed 127.3 yards per game in the Bengals 3 post season games.
My selections are:
- Bengals +4
- Bengals/Rams OVER 48.5
My Parlay suggestion for the weekend:
- Bengals on the Money Line @ +180
- Cooper Kupp’s longest pass reception OVER 27.5 yards @ minus-110
- $100 wager wins $435
As noted above, this is the last of this season’s Football Friday offerings. Also noted above is the fact that there ought to be significant shuffling of NFL game announcing assignments once next season kicks off. So, let me end this final Football Friday with the lyrics that Dandy Don Meredith would croon on Monday Night Football about 50 years ago when the outcome of a game was no longer in doubt:
“Turn out the lights, the party’s over
They say that, ‘All good things must end’
Let’s call it a night, the party’s over
And tomorrow starts the same old thing again…”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………
6 thoughts on “Football Friday 2/11/22”
“Dandy Don” was the perfect complement to H. Cosell. I long for those days again…
Good to hear from you again…
I miss the Gifford/Meredith/Cosell announcing team. They made MNF fun to watch.
Pete Carrol Superbowl 49 is dumbest call of all time. He had the beast in the backfield and don’t forget he had a timeout too.
I just hope Joe Burrows doesn’t get hurt Sunday. Rams by a bundle.
PS – Jack weren’t your writing about Cooper Kupp a few years ago in college and saying someone should take a chance on him? Good prediction.
A few years ago at the encouragement and recommendation of Dwight Perry (Seattle Times), I did follow Cooper Kupp in his senior year at E.Washington and after seeing his stats there thought he should be given a chance in a team;s training camp. Turns out, he was better than those gaudy college stats…
I don’t even think the Chiefs call was the dumbest of this postseason – that has to go to the Cowboys QB draw, which also ended the game.
You are correct; the Quick Quiz should have had three options for voting. My bad…
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