About a hundred years ago, George Gershwin penned these song lyrics:
“I got rhythm
I got music
I got my man
Who could ask for anything more? …”
Well, I have no rhythm and all the musical talents of a foghorn, but I do recognize and respond to a 7-day periodicity that leads to the next iteration of Football Friday. So, here we go. As always, I begin with a review of last week’s Six-Pack.
Against the spread/Totals:
- Last week: College: 1-2-0 NFL: 1-2-0
- Season to date: College: 2-4-0 NFL: 1-2-0
Money Line Parlays:
- Last Week: 2-0 “Profit/Loss” +$281
- Season to date: 2-2 “Profit/Loss” +$81
I need to put a footnote on last week’s Money Line Parlay results. One of the three team parlays had a tie game on the wager. The way sportsbooks handle such a situation is to assume that game never happened so if the rest of the ticket was a winner – – as it was last week – – the payout is calculated as if it were a 2-team parlay with the team odds as stated on the ticket. That happened last week with the Money Line Parlay of Eagles/Colts/Saints. The Colts’ game was a tie; the Eagles and Saints won their games.
College Football Commentary:
The Linfield College Wildcats had last week off as they prepared to host the University of Redlands Bulldogs as Homecoming opponents tomorrow. The Bulldogs bring a record of 0-2 to the kickoff but those two losses came by a total of 8 points. These teams met last year in out-of-conference action and Linfield won handily 51-10 as the visiting team. Go Wildcats!
Kansas is 2-0 this year; who had that back in July? Moreover, one of the wins came against a real team in Division 1-A – – West Virginia – – and Kansas has scored 111 points in those two wins. Let me put this in perspective for you:
- Ever since Kansas fired Mark Mangino as the head football coach in 2009, the Jayhawks have not won more than 3 games in any season.
- In that timespan, the Jayhawks have had 2 winless seasons and 2 seasons with only 1 victory.
- Their record under 5 coaches from 2009-2021 is 23-118-0.
- Starting this year at 2-0 is a big deal in Lawrence, KS.
When head coaches move around on the college coaching carousel, lots of folks pay lots of attention. I want to point out two defensive coordinators who “changed jobs” in this offseason and they seem to have had a significant positive effect on their new teams in the first couple of weeks:
- Jim Knowles: The Ohio State Buckeyes hired him away from Oklahoma State back in January. Last year, the Ohio State defense was clearly the weak link in the chain at Columbus and Knowles had achieved significant improvements in the Oklahoma State defense over the previous 4 seasons in Stillwater. Acknowledging the small sample size, it is clear so far that the Ohio State defense is much improved over what I saw last year. In two games, the Buckeye’s defense has only allowed a total of 22 points.
- Gary Patterson: Last year in mid-season, Patterson was the head coach at TCU when he and TCU “mutually agreed to go in different directions” . Patterson had been the head coach there since 2000 and had compiled a 181-79 record in that time. His teams went to a bowl game 17 times including an appearance in both the Fiesta Bowl and the Rose Bowl. Patterson’s teams emphasized defense; his teams did not play many games where both teams went north of 50 points. Technically, he is the “Assistant to the Head Coach” at Texas these days but if you watch on the sidelines, he is the guy working with the defense for the Longhorns. The Texas defense has been a mess for several seasons now; with Patterson on board, the Longhorns held Alabama to 20 points last week and almost upset the team ranked #1 in the country at the time.
College football has already had one coach at a major school fired. The University of Nebraska fired Scott Frost after the Huskers lost to Georgia Southern 45-42 last week. Here is how badly the folks in charge in Lincoln, NE wanted to get rid of Scott Frost:
- According to reports, the amount of money it would take to buy him out of the rest of his contract would drop by more than $6M on October 1, 2022.
- There are two games (one tomorrow and another on 1 October 2022) between now and the time when the athletic department could save $6M.
- They opted to fire Scott Frost anyway.
[Aside: Scott Frost is the leader in the clubhouse to win the Thomas Wolfe Award for 2022 demonstrating that indeed, “You Can’t Go Home Again”.]
Here are some results from last week’s games – – a week where top teams either lost outright or did not cover:
Ohio State 45 Arkansas St. 12: The Buckeyes have a very good team in 2022 and as noted above, their defense is now pulling its weight.
Iowa St. 10 Iowa 7: There is good news and bad news for the Hawkeyes’ offense here:
- Good news: They scored a TD this week
- Bad news: Their total offense in the game was 150 yards.
Alabama 20 Texas 19: The Texas defense almost pulled this one out for the Longhorns. What Alabama does not have this year that it has had in abundance in the last 4 or 5 years is a speed receiver on the outside that demands deep coverage help. The NFL is littered with such players – not counting Henry Ruggs II who is suspended from the NFL for off-field issues and who may be the fastest of that corps of Alabama speed burners.
Ole Miss 59 Central Arkansas 3: At the start of the 4th quarter the score was 52-0. Central Arkansas drove to the Ole Miss 13-yardline – – and chose to kick a 30-yard field goal. I wonder how the coaches explain that decision to their offensive unit…
Arkansas 44 South Carolina 30: The Razorbacks look pretty good to me this year. Granted, they are in the SEC West so it is difficult to project them as a force majeure, but they could be a tough out for teams down the line.
Kentucky 26 Florida 16: The Gators were shut out in the second half of this game; the Kentucky defense was very good last week. A Pick-Six late in the 3rd quarter put the Wildcats on top to stay.
Appalachian St. 17 Texas A&M 14: This was the upset of the day. According to a report I read, Appalachian St. got $1.1M to come to College Station to play this game; the idea was for the Aggies to win that home game and generate excitement among its passionate fans. So, the Mountaineers just took the money and the game too. This was a real win for Appalachian St.:
- Total Offense: Appalachian St. 315 yards – – Texas A&M 186 yards
- First downs: Appalachian St. 22 – – Texas A&M 9
- Third down conversions: Appalachian St. 9 of 20 – – Texas A&M 2 of 8
Wake Forest 45 Vandy 25: The trajectory for a Vanderbilt undefeated season [eyeroll here] came to a screeching halt last week. This was a butt-stomping…
Tennessee 34 Pitt 27 (OT): You expect an OT game to be a close contest on the stat sheet and this game does not disappoint:
- Total Offense: Tennessee 416 yards – – Pitt 415 yards.
Duke 31 Northwestern 23: The Blue Devils are 2-0 on the season. Their projected win total for the year was 3 wins; I said in my college football preview that I liked the OVER there. We shall see…
UNC 35 Georgia State 28: The Tar Heels are 3-0 to start this season and they have won those 3 games on offense. So far, the Heels have given up 113 points in 3 games; most teams that give up 38 points per game are not on the list of undefeated teams.
Marshall 26 Notre Dame 21: This game was not a fluke, Marshall out played and out hit Notre Dame for four quarters of football. The Irish are 0-2 under new head coach, Marcus Freeman and the Irish schedule is not a cakewalk from here on out. The Irish are 0-3 under Freeman since he coached the team as it lost in the Fiesta Bowl last year. Freeman is not on a hot seat just now, but the folks who pull the strings in South Bend will likely be most attentive to this week’s game against an undefeated albeit mediocre Cal team in South Bend.
Washington St. 17 Wisconsin 14: The home field in Wisconsin is a significant home field advantage. The fact that the Cougars went there and came out with a win could be a significant factor for the PAC-12 in terms of its perceived strength as a conference. Wisconsin only had 4 possessions in the second half of the game; here are the outcomes of those possessions:
- 3 plays and a PUNT
- 11 plays and a MISSED FG
- 14 plays (41 yards) and an INT
- 2 plays and a LOST FUMBLE
USC 41 Stanford 28: So. Cal had this game in hand at the end of the 3rd quarter leading 41-14. There was not a lot of defense here, the teams combined to rack up 946 yards of total offense. There were 57 first downs in the game!
Mississippi St 39 Arizona 17: I had this game as an OVER 57.5 last week – – the line dropped to 56.5 at game time. Note the total points is 56… Then, check the stats to find out that Mississippi State missed a point after touchdown in the game. It would not have made my Six-Pack selection good, but it would have made a big difference for bettors who took the OVER proximal to game time.
College Football Games of Interest:
UConn at Michigan – 48.5 (60): After hosting a miserable Hawaii team last week Michigan now welcomes another patsy to Ann Arbor. Clearly, there is no shame in the scheduling department at Michigan. The Wolverines did not cover a 52.5 point spread last week; let’s see what they do here.
Rutgers – 18.5 at Temple (44): Rutgers enters the game at 2-0. Temple won last week over Division 1-AA, Lafayette.
Georgia – 28.5 over South Carolina (55): The Georgia defense is awfully good again this year. They pitched a shutout against Samford last week.
Oklahoma – 11 at Nebraska (64.5): The spread opened at 14.5 points has dropped earlier in the week. Perhaps bettors think the Huskers will rally under new coaching leadership?
Old Dominion at Virginia – 9 (54): The Cavaliers disappointed in last week’s Six-Pack and seemed to abandon its wide-open pass offense against Illinois. Old Dominion shocked Va Tech two weeks ago in Blacksburg. Should be an interesting game…
South Alabama at UCLA – 15.5 (59): The Bruins have averaged 45 points per game in the first two games of the season. The Jaguars scored 31 points in the first half last week against a bad Central Michigan defense. I think this game will produce a lot of offense and big plays; I like the game to go OVER; put it in the Six-Pack.
Cal at Notre Dame – 11.5 (41): These lines show little faith in the Notre Dame offense. If they are going to win by 11.5 points that means they should only score 27 points against a mediocre defense …
Penn St. – 3 at Auburn (48): All I can say is that Auburn’s home field is a big advantage for the Auburn team.
Vandy at Northern Illinois – 2 (59.5): A week ago, Vandy was undefeated. This week they are a 2-point underdog to a MAC team. Sic transit gloria mundi …
BYU at Oregon – 3.5 (58): This game lost some of its preseason luster when Oregon was steamrolled by Georgia two weeks ago.
Kansas at Houston – 8.5 (58): Kansas is 2-0; Houston had a Top 20 pre-season ranking. What gives here?
La-Monroe at Alabama – 49 (61.5): ‘Bama only scored 20 points last week at Texas. They might exceed that score in the first quarter here…
Mississippi St. – 2.5 at LSU (54): I do not understand these lines at all. If you made me guess what the lines would be, I would have said LSU -3 at home with a total of 60.
Michigan St. at Washington – 3 (56): An important game for the PAC-12’s reputation nationally.
Nevada at Iowa – 24 (40): This line says a ton about the perception of the Nevada defense. Iowa has scored a total of 14 points – – and one TD – – in two full games and they are more than a 3 TD favorite here. Supporting that idea that Iowa might score a bit this week is last week’s performance by Nevada. They lost to Incarnate Word by a score of 55-41.
Miami at Texas A&M – 6.5 (45): I call this the College Game of the Week. Miami is rebuilding its program quickly and the Aggies cannot afford to lose another game at home. I will definitely be tuned in for this one.
San Diego St. at Utah – 20.5 (48): After a disappointing loss to Florida in the opener, Utah went home and crushed Southern Utah 73-7. The Aztecs beat Utah last year in triple OT; so, this is sort of a revenge game for the Utes. San Diego won 12 games last year with a strong running attack and a very good defense – – but neither aspect of that sort of play has shown up this year. I like Utah to keep winning big to try to “repair” its national image. I’ll take Utah and lay the points here; put it in the Six-Pack.
There was a lot of sloppy football on display in Week 1 and conventional wisdom has it that the lack of playing time for starters in the Exhibition Season is the cause of the sloppiness. Let me assume that statement is absolutely correct; that makes the Exhibition Games even worse than they are. They are meaningless; they do not give the “real players” the reps they need to be efficient/effective in Week 1; they inflict injuries on players who never really had a chance to make the team just so the owners can make a bit more money and the networks can sell a little more ad time. Shameful…
Every team seemed to partake of the “unpreparedness waters” last Sunday. There were fourteen games then; eight were one-score games and 5 games were decided by a total of 4 points including a tie-game. As was the case last season, the Packers – – and Aaron Rodgers – – looked amateurish in Week 1. Rodgers was visibly upset with his receives on more than a handful of botched catches and/or patterns; he did not demonstrate unconditional love for his teammates on that day.
Sean Payton is on TV as of this morning but after the egg that the Cowboys’ offense laid on Sunday Night Football, I have to believe that Jerry Jones is loosening up the fingers on his writing hand to put an offer on a piece of paper and slide it across a table to Payton’s agent. According to reports, Bill Belichick was the highest paid coach last year making $12M. I suspect that Jerry Jones is beginning to think about how big a gap he wants to put between Belichick’s annual salary and the one he is about to offer to Sean Payton.
With the thumb injury to Dak Prescott, the Cowboys will turn to Cooper Rush to hold the fort until Prescott is ready to come back. There was speculation that the Cowboys would try to trade for the niners’ backup, Jimmy Garoppolo, but I think that is not going to happen for 2 reasons:
- The Niners may need to play Jimmy G given how poorly Trey Lance played last week in what was admittedly terrible weather conditions.
- Jimmy G has a no-trade clause. Why would he waive it to go to a team that will sit him down the minute Dak Prescott is healthy? He is on the bench in SF so going to the Cowboys is not much different…
Sometimes it is interesting to compare statistical results with the “Eyeball Test”. So, for last week consider:
- The NFC QB with the highest QB Rating was – – Geno Smith. The Seahawks’ passing offense was 177 yards and he threw for 31 yards in the second half of the game. Really?
- Geno Smith’s QB Rating was 7.5 points higher than Josh Allen’s QB Rating. Allen threw for 297 yards and 3 TDs. Really?
- Geno Smith’s QB Rating was 19.2 points higher than Russell Wilson’s QB Rating. Wilson threw for 340 yards and a TD. Really?
There are 10 new head coaches in the NFL this season. In first appearances, those new guys had their teams go 6-3-1 which should be encouraging to at least 6 NFL fanbases. The fanbase that must be the most unhappy this week is the Broncos; “Orange Nation”. Coach Hackett’s decision to run down the clock and try a 64-yard field goal instead of going for it on 4th and 5 is mind-boggling. I thought Payton Manning was going to have a cerebral hemorrhage as that clock was counting down to the time-out taken by the Broncos.
In last week’s games …
Seahawks 17 Broncos 16: The Broncos fumbled and lost the ball twice inside the Seahawks’ 2-yardline in the game. The contest should never have come down to that stupid 64-yard field goal attempt…
Ravens 24 Jets 9: The Ravens did not impress in the way they won this game. The Jets were just awful. The Ravens usually produce some solid rushing stats; last week their leading rusher was Kenyan Drake who gained all of 31 yards on 11 carries. Jets’ coach Robert Saleh says he is “taking receipts” for all those who are mocking the Jets. I think the Jets are better than they were last year but take a receipt from me today for saying the Jets were horrible last week.
- [Aside: He better lease a storage locker to keep all those receipts in one place; they are not going to fit in his office.]
Browns 26 Panthers 24: That makes 8 losses in a row for the Panthers going back to last year. Maybe now that they have the “Baker Mayfield Revenge Game” out of the way, the Panthers can get down to a more normal state of preparation.
Colts 20 Texans 20: When Gene Mauch managed the Phillies, he said that splitting a doubleheader was like kissing your sister through a screen door. I guess that applies to an NFL game that ends in a tie as well…
Commanders 28 Jags 22: The Jags led 22-14 with about 12 minutes left in the game. On their final two possessions, the Jags went:
- 4 plays and a PUNT
- 4 plays and an INT.
Meanwhile, the Jags’ defense gave up two TD passes (49 yards and 24 yards) in those remaining minutes to secure the loss.
Dolphins 20 Pats 7: All during Training Camp and the Exhibition Season, folks focused on the fact that bill Belichick did not name an offensive coordinator and that he must have some deep dark master plan that he was about spring on the league come Week 1. Well, if he has a master plan, it sure did not work well last week. The Pats need to worry significantly about this failure in Week 1:
- Their pass receivers were not getting any separation on short passes or long passes. Mac Jones may be an accurate passer, but he is not a magician.
Saints 27 Falcons 26: It was another come from ahead loss for the Falcons who led the game 23-10 when the 4th quarter started.
Eagles 38 Lions 35: After one week, the Eagles lead the NFC in total offense having racked up 455 yards in this game. However, they also gave up 355 yards on defense.
Steelers 23 Bengals 20 (OT): It took a blocked PAT buy Steelers DB, Minkah Fitzpatrick to put the game into OT. Fitzpatrick also had a Pick-Six earlier in the game. The Steelers have lost TJ Watt to a pectoral muscle injury, but they say he will not need season-ending surgery. If/when Watt returns at close to his all-Pro form, the Steelers’ defense will be formidable indeed.
Bears 19 Niners 10: Yes, it was one game and most assuredly, the playing conditions were horrible with standing water all over the field. And yes, in those adverse conditions, Trey Lance was terrible at QB in his first game as “The Guy” in SF. This week’s game at home against the Seahawks is a big game for the team and for Trey Lance…
Vikings 23 Packers 7: As noted above, the Packers’ offense was discombobulated last week, and Aaron Rodgers was not happy about it. In addition to having to find rapport with young receivers, Rodgers needs to worry about his OL which was overwhelmed for much of the game last week.
Chiefs 44 Cards 21: Basically, the Cards were a no-show at home in the opener. Patrick Mahomes was 30 of 39 for 360 yards and 5 TDs with zero INTs.
Chargers 24 Raiders 19: The Raiders’ OL was much worse than a mere “mess”; they need to buy the “Flex Seal Family of Products” to patch all those leaks.
Giants 21 Titans 20: Saquon Barkley carried the ball 18 times for 164 yards and a TD. He also caught 6 passes for 30 yards. Not a bad day at the office…
Bucs 19 Cowboys 3: Mike McCarthy is an “offensive coach”; the Cowboys’ offense last week was somewhere between rancid and fetid. Total Cowboys’ offense was 244 yards. But that does not tell the whole story. After an opening drive that produced a field goal, here is the Dallas offense for the rest of the game:
- 3 plays and a PUNT
- 3 plays and a PUNT
- 3 plays and an INT
- 5 plays and a PUNT
- 1 play to end the half
- 5 plays and a PUNT
- 9 plays and a TURNOVER ON DOWNS
- 3 plays and a PUNT
- 11 plays and a TURNOVER ON DOWNS
- 8 plays and a TURNOVER ON DOWNS.
Meanwhile, the Bucs should not be overconfident here. Micah Parsons spent more time in the Bucs’ backfield than some of the Bucs’ RBs. The Bucs’ OL was not good last week.
NFL Games This Week:
Last night the Chiefs beat the Chargers in KC by a field goal in a very entertaining game. Last year, the Bills played the Chiefs in KC in early October. After that game, I wrote that I thought Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes where the two most fun QBs to watch in the NFL – – not necessarily the two best but the two most fun to watch. I would now like to have the same privilege as is afforded to members of the US Congress and I would like to revise and extend my remarks:
- I think Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert are the three most fun to watch QBs in the NFL.
The Chargers had to play without WR Keenan Allen last night, so they turned to Mike Williams to be the #1 WR. Williams caught 8 passes for 113 yards and a TD. Not bad for a “sub”… A 99-yard Pick-Six by the Chiefs provided the margin of victory here.
Dolphins at Ravens – 3.5 (44.5): The Dolphins’ defense is for real, but their 20 points scored last week might be a tad misleading about the Dolphins’ offense. The team had s strip sack for a TD. The Ravens are a better team than the Pats and this game is in Baltimore.
Jets at Browns – 7 (39.5): The Jets shut down the Ravens’ running attack last week (see above). The Ravens had Lamar Jackson to pick up the slack. If they Jets can contain the Browns’ running game, the Browns will have to rely on Jacoby Brissett who is not nearly Lamar Jackson. Shop this line because the spread varies from 6.5 to 7.5 at various sportsbooks. I like the Jets plus the points here; put it in the Six-Pack.
Commanders at Lions – 1 (48): I have no idea why the Lions are favored here, and I do not trust either team in terms of consistency. However, I do believe that both offenses can dominate the other defense, so I’ll take the game to go OVER; put it in the Six-Pack.
Colts – 3.5 at Jags (45.5): The Colts are not a great road team, but they produced 517 yards of offense in their tie-game with the Texans last week. The Jags gave up 390 yards on offense last week – – but I am queasy about this game. I wanted to put it in the Six-Pack, but I will not.
Bucs – 2.5 at Saints (44.5): Since joining the Bucs, Tom Brady is 0-4 against the Saints in the regular season. Both teams won last week; neither team was impressive in doing so.
Panthers at Giants – 2.5 (43): Yes, the Giants won last week and the Panthers lost. Having said that, the only impressive performance by either team was Saquon Barkley. This is my Dog-Breath Game of the Week.
Pats – 3 at Steelers (40.5): Both teams struggled on offense last week – – and that is being polite about it. Losing TJ Watt is a big deal here but given the way the Steelers’ DBs cover, I don’t think Mac Jones will have many easy pitch-and-catch opportunities here. I like the Steelers plus the points at home; put it in the Six Pack.
Falcons at Rams – 10 (46.5): The Rams need to win because they are going to be in a tough divisional race down the road; the Falcons put up a fight against the Saints last week, but I think they are over-matched here.
Seahawks at Niners – 9 (41): The Niners need to win because they are going to be in a tough divisional race down the road; Trey Lance had better be 200% better than he was last week in the Niners’ home opener this year.
Bengals – 7 at Cowboys (42): The Cowboys will probably have to run the ball really well to win and I don’t think they can do that. Micah Parsons may have 4 sacks in the game, but I don’t expect Joe Burrow to throw a bunch of INTs. Give me the Bengals to win and cover even on the road; put it in the Six-Pack.
Texans at Broncos – 10 (45): Yes, the Texans are not good, and the Broncos will not fumble at the goal line twice in this game. But I hate double-digit spreads in NFL games, so I’ll pass…
Cards at Raiders – 5 (51.5): It is awfully early to call this a “must win” for both teams – – but it feels that way to me. Both teams were disappointing last week to say the very least.
(Sun Nite) Bears at Packers – 10 (41.5): The Packers are the better team, but it is not as if they are without “issues”. Yes, Aaron Rodgers “owns” the Bears. No, I will not make a selection in this double-digit spread game…
(Mon Nite) Titans at Bills – 10 (48): The only double-digit spread on the card this week that tempts me even a little bit is this one and I would lean toward taking the points with the Titans. But I have the Six-Pack full already so this one must go by the wayside.
(Mon Nite) Vikes at Eagles – 2 (50.5): I am not sure why the Eagles are favored in this game other than it is in Philly.
So, let me review the Six-Pack:
- UCLA/South Alabama OVER 59
- Utah – 20.5 over San Diego State
- Steelers +3 against Pats
- Jets +7 against Browns
- Commanders/Lions OVER 48
- Bengals – 7 over Cowboys
And here are two Money Line parlays just for fun:
- Steelers @ +120 and Saints @ +120 $100 wager wins $384.
- Vikes @ +115 and Bills @ – 470 and Bengals @ – 340. $100 wager wins $237
Finally, Dwight Perry had this item in the Seattle Times two weeks ago – – before Scott Frost got fired at Nebraska:
“Comedy writer Brad Dickson, on the Cornhuskers rallying from a 7-7 halftime tie to beat North Dakota: ‘Nebraska served notice (they) are slightly better than the second-best team in North Dakota. … OK, that doesn’t sound as impressive as I thought.’”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………