Sports World Oddities Today …

Halloween is a time when ghosts, goblins and various other “odd phenomena” take center stage for a day.  In that spirit, let me try to deal with some “odd” stories related to the sports world this morning.  I will start with a tragic pre-game incident at a high school football game in Tennessee between David Crockett HS and Jonesborough HS.  Before the game, three parachutists tried to land on the field but one of the three – – an experienced jumper – – crash landed and was fatally injured.  What is odd about that?

  1. That is a much more elaborate pre-game event for a high school football game than is normal in my part of the world.  And …
  2. After the parachutist was airlifted to a local hospital via helicopter- – to no avail – – they went ahead and played the scheduled football game.

One of the mantras for football coaches everywhere is the attempt to minimize “distractions”.  I have to believe that the players in this game had to be just a bit “distracted” by the pre-game happenings.

The next oddity for today involves a professional fishing tournament in Lake Erie where anglers were in pursuit of walleyes; a purse of $28K was available to the tournament winner(s) and the weight of the fish caught within the rules of the tournament was an important part of the determination of the winner.  Two anglers who caught the heaviest fish have been accused of cheating in that tournament and now face felony charges of:

  • Cheating – – who knew that was a felony?
  • Attempted grand theft – – Seems proper here
  • Possession of criminal tools – – really?

There is also a misdemeanor charge tacked on here for “unlawfully owning wild animals” which I will not even try to explain.  Here is the basis for all this:

  • When these two men presented the walleyes they caught during the tournament, the tournament director was suspicious because the fish presented to the judges were “significantly heavier than walleyes of that size normally are”.
  • So, the tournament director took a knife and cut open the fish only to find “fishing weights” and “fish fillets” stuffed inside the fish presented to the tournament judges.

At least for me, the idea of presenting a fish to judges that was so unusually heavy as to draw incredulous attention to it is odd enough.  But looking at the charges here and imagining how all of this happened, the “criminal tools” involved here would be fishing weights and fish filets; and somehow, I have managed to avoid such charges while being in possession of both things for significant stretches of my life.  Oh, and as for “unlawfully owning wild animals”, I hope that does not refer to the walleyes caught as part of the tournament; and if it does not, I guess the wild animals referred to here are those fish filets that were jammed down the gullets of the walleyes.

And completing a trifecta of oddball stuff for today, we have a new pronouncement from Kyrie Irving to consider.  For the purposes of perspective here, please recall that Irving has previously been on record saying that:

  • COVID vaccination mandates were a huge human rights violation
  • The Earth is flat
  • Scientists just make up what dinosaurs looked like
  • JFK was assassinated because he was a threat to an international bank cartel
  • The CIA tried to assassinate reggae singer, Bob Marley

His latest comments have been labeled as being supportive of antisemitic tropes and charges put forth by Alex Jones.  When challenged on his supportive statements, Irving doubled down and took umbrage at the fact that reporters challenged his support of a conspiracy theory offered up in a documentary film titled, Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America.  I have not seen the documentary myself but according to reports it contends that there are people in the government who seek to enslave the general population by releasing various viruses among other machinations.  Evidently, the documentary insinuates that Jews are involved in this conspiracy to enslave humanity.

Who knows?  Maybe those “conspiratorial enslavers” are breeding an army of yetis deep in the Himalaya Range and training them to swoop down out of those mountains as the initial assault on humankind.  I cannot prove such a thing is not happening…

Finally, let me close today with an entry from The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm:

Logic:  The principles of reasoned thought.  Brazenly abandoned on a daily basis by either your employer, your spouse or the President of the United States.  And, let’s be honest, most days it’s all three.”

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



Football Friday 10/28/22

Going over my “To Do List” for today …

  1. Get Halloween candy for next Monday night
  2. Make sure no pumpkin spice stuff sneaks into the house
  3. Write this week’s Football Friday.

I’ll get to the first two things on the list once this is written and posted.  So let me begin as usual with a look at last week’s Six-Pack.

  • College = 2-1-0                                  Season Total = 13-7-0
  • NFL = 1-2-0                                        Season Total = 10-12-3
  • Money Line Parlays = 0-3                Season Total = 2-11
  • Profit/Loss = minus-$300                 Season Total = minus-$861


College Football Commentary:


The Linfield College Wildcats maintained their undefeated status in 2022 with a 45-0 drubbing of Pacific Lutheran.  This week, the Wildcats go on the road – albeit only about 15 miles down the road – to take on the George Fox Bruins in another Northwest Conference game.  George Fox has a 6-1 record this season with the only loss coming at the hands of Pacific Lutheran by a score of 13-12 four weeks ago.  Go Wildcats!

Six teams in Division 1-A continue to be undefeated as the calendar gets ready to turn over into November:

  1. Clemson
  2. Georgia
  3. Michigan
  4. Ohio St.
  5. TCU
  6. Tennessee

Looking down the road a bit, Michigan and Ohio St. will play in the final weekend of Big-10 football and Georgia/Tennessee will happen on November 5th.  So, at most, there will be 4 undefeated teams at the end of the year.

I think it is interesting to look at the Oregon football schedule this year.  The Ducks opened the season with a thud; they lost to Georgia in the opening game 49-3 – – and it might not have been that close.  The next week, Oregon took out its frustrations on a Division 1-AA opponent winning 70-14.  Since those two “oddball games” at the start of the season, here are the subsequent results:

  • Oregon 41  BYU 20
  • Oregon 44  Washington St. 41
  • Oregon 45  Stanford 27
  • Oregon 49  Arizona 22
  • Oregon 45  UCLA 30

With those 5 games – plus the one against a cupcake opponent – all seeing the Ducks go “north of 41 points”, the question is:

  • Is the Georgia defense that good – – or did Oregon need a week’s more practice time to get their offensive unit completely in sync?

An unusual circumstance presented itself in a Division 1-AA game last week between Weber St. and Montana St.  Weber St. inflicted itself with 4 safeties in the game and all 4 of the safeties happened in the same way.  The long-snapper sailed the ball over the head of the punter and out of the end zone.  The final score of the game had Weber St. on the short end by 5 points – – so those 8 points offered up at no cost to Montana St. did indeed provide the margin of victory.  I suspect that there might be a bit of tension in the air in the special teams’ room as the film from that game is dissected.  The only thing that might cut that tension a bit is the fact that Weber St. scored two TDs on special teams play.

  • Returned a kickoff for 99 yards and a TC
  • Returned a punt 67 yards for a TD.

Here are comments on two ACC games from last week…

Clemson 27  Syracuse 20:  It took a 17-point rally in the 4th quarter of this game for Clemson to prevail.  The Tigers dominated the stat sheet, but 4 turnovers kept the game closer on the scoreboard than it should have been.  To give you an idea of the dominance here consider:

  • Total Offense for Syracuse = 269 yards
  • RUSHING offense for Clemson = 293 yards

Duke 45  Miami 21:  To get an idea of the oddity of this game, begin with this comparison:

  • Duke Total Offense = 336 yards
  • Miami Total Offense = 327 yards

So, you ask yourself, how those stats can lead to a 24-point margin of victory for the Blue Devils?  Here is how:

  • Duke Turnovers = 2
  • Miami Turnovers = 8 – – as in EIGHT!

            If you thought the Miami loss to Middle Tennessee State was bad – – and it was – – this may have been worse.  This was a 24-point home conference loss to Duke thanks to the most turnovers in a game by any Power 5 conference team since 2009. There are serious questions now about Miami making bowl-eligibility.  The Hurricanes are 3-4 today; they need 3 wins in their last 5 games to finish at 6-6 for the season.

Moving on to Big-10 action last week …

Rutgers 24  Indiana 17:  The streak of 21 consecutive home losses to Big-10 opponents is broken.  To the joy of Rutgers alums, the team not only won – – they covered.

Ohio St. 54  Iowa 10:  No surprise here that Iowa could not score; the Hawkeyes offense is about as prominent as a herd of yetis.  Nonetheless, this game marked a distinct low for that offense – – only 2.7 yards per offensive snap.  Oh, and that offense found six opportunities to turn the ball over too. The Iowa defense had been strong up to this game – – but not on that day.

Maryland 31  Northwestern 24:  Maryland is bowl-eligible, and it is not Halloween yet.  Northwestern is 1-6 having lost 6 in a row after beating Nebraska in the opener in Dublin, Ireland.

Wisconsin 35  Purdue 24:  With this loss, Purdue – – second loss in conference – – falls a game behind Illinois in the Big-10 West race.  Those two teams will meet on November 12th as a home game for Illinois.  Nebraska is the only other team in the division with only 2 conference losses.

Penn St. 45  Minnesota 17:  Sean Clifford had himself a day for Penn St.  He threw for 295 yards and 4 TDs with only 1 INT as the Nittany Lions dominated the game.  This makes 3 losses in a row for Minnesota and all of them are conference losses.

Next up is the Big-12 …

Baylor 35  Kansas 23:  I think we can pretty much say the bloom is off the rose for Kansas.  Yes, they are 5-3 but those three losses have come in the last 3 weeks and the Jayhawks’ defense has given up 125 points in those 3 losses.  Baylor has 2 conference losses as of today but there are three teams in the Big-12 that only have 1 loss or zero losses in conference.  Baylor is not “out of it” but it will need some help.

Oklahoma St. 41  Texas 34:  Oklahoma St. has only 1 loss in Big-12 games, and this is the 2nd conference loss for the Longhorns.  The Cowboys rallied with 14 points in the 4th quarter to win last week.  Three INTs thrown by Texas QB, Quinn Ewers was too much for the Longhorns to overcome.  Texas’ upcoming schedule is not easy at all; they have 4 games left and they may be favored in only one of them (on the road at Kansas).  One other interesting note here, Oklahoma St. was not penalized once in the game last week.

TCU 38  K-ST. 28:  The Horned Frogs are still undefeated for the season and enjoy a privileged spot atop the Big-12 standings.  K-State falls to 5-2 overall.  K-St led 28-10 in the first half but were shut out for all of the second half.

And in some SEC games last week …

LSU 45  Ole Miss 20:  The Rebels were shut out for the second half; so much for their unbeaten season in 2022.  Ole Miss led 17-3 in the second quarter; then the wheels came off the wagon.  Question here is:

  • Was Ole Miss over-rated or was LSU dismissed too quickly after that loss to Florida St.?  Or both?

This is the second game in a row where LSU scored 45 points; maybe that offense is starting to come around?  They have this week off to prep for a game against Alabama whose defense has been “tested” at times this year.

Alabama 30  Mississippi St. 6:  This is the much-more-recognizable Alabama defense as compared to the one last week that gave up 50+ points to Tennessee.  The Bulldogs’ TD came as the final play of the game.   Alabama has road games at LSU and at Ole Miss still on the schedule; they need to win both to win the SEC West and play in the SEC Championship Game.

South Carolina 30  Texas A&M 24:  The Aggies had CFP aspirations for this year, and they now have 4 losses on the books and might not even make it to one of the minor bowl games.  They need to win 3 of their last 5 to make themselves bowl-eligible.  There is a “gimmee game” against UMass – – the Aggies ought to be ashamed – – on November 19th; other than that, the Aggies will be tested in the other 4 contests.

In PAC-12 games …

Oregon 45  UCLA 30:  This game took UCLA from the ranks of the unbeaten teams in 2022.  Folks in Oregon have to hope that the CFP Selection Committee forgets just how badly the Ducks were beaten by Georgia in the opening game of the season.  Looking at the future schedule, the only ranked team left for Oregon is Utah; that game will be a home game for Oregon on November 19th.  And of course, there is still the Civil War game with Oregon St. and that rivalry game is never a walkover.

Oregon St. 42  Colorado 9:  the Buffaloes won their only game of the year two weeks ago and that momentum did not carry over even a little bit.  The Beavers generated 174 more yards of offense than did the Buffaloes and Colorado found ways to turn the ball over 4 times in the game.  As Forest Gump’s mother might say:

  • “Bad is as bad plays…”

And some comments on miscellaneous other games of interest last week …

Army 48  La-Monroe 24:  This is the first win of the year for Army over a Division 1-A team.  The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step…

Rice 42  La-Tech 41 (OT):  Rice is 4-3 for the season and just could make it to bowl eligibility.  They need to find two wins and have UNC-Charlotte, UTEP and North Texas still on the schedule in their remaining 5 games.

Notre Dame 44  UNLV 21:  It’s a win for the Irish – – but not a cover…

Liberty 41  BYU 14:  The stat sheet looks as you would expect for this game.  Liberty won the offensive battle 547 yards to 258 yards.  Liberty had 28 first downs in the game compared to 12 for BYU.

FIU 34  UNC-Charlotte 15:  These are two bad teams.  UNC-Charlotte found more ways to lose this game than did FIU; UNC-Charlotte turned the ball over 5 times in the game.

Colorado St. 17  Hawaii 14:  Here are two more bad teams.  Hawaii led 13-3 at the half and then were shut out in the second half.


Games of Interest This Week:


Illinois – 7 at Nebraska (50): Nebraska can insert itself in the Big-10 West race – at least for a while – with a win here.

New Mexico St. – 2 at UMass (37.5):  Here are two BAD teams and one of them had to travel about 2500 miles to get to the venue.  Why?

Kentucky at Tennessee – 11.5 (62):  The question here is pretty simple:

  • To what extent can Kentucky’s very good defense slow down/hold Tennessee’s very good offense?

The reason that question is so important is that Kentucky’s offense is not likely to give the Tennessee defense a case of agita.

TCU – 7 at W. Virginia (70):  The Horned Frogs keep finding ways to win and W. Virginia is not having one of its better seasons with a 3-4 record.  TCU has a high-powered offense, and the Mountaineers give up 33.7 points per game (ranked 117th in the country).  I think this is a mismatch even with TCU on a long road trip.  I’ll take TCU to win and cover on the road; put it in the Six-Pack.

Ohio St. – 14.5 at Penn St. (62.5):  Penn St. was able to run the ball effectively against Minnesota last week setting up their passing game for some big plays.  Duplicating that success will not be easy against Ohio St. The Buckeyes rank 8th in the country in run defense giving up only 90.9 yards per game.

Notre Dame at Syracuse – 2.5 (48):  The Total Line opened the week at 45 points and has been climbing all week.  I have to admit that back in August I never thought this game would have this spread with Syracuse as the ranked team on the field.  And yet, here we are.

Miami – 2 at Virginia (48):  Miami needs this game for its bowl-quest – – but so does Virginia; both teams are 3-4 at this point in the season.  Expectations in Charlottesville were not so lofty this year; expectations in Miami with the hiring of Mario Cristobel were through the roof.

Michigan St. at Michigan – 22.5 (55):  Michigan St. gives up points in droves (27.7 points per game ranked 73rd in the country).  The Michigan St. offense ranks 77th in the nation and has yet to see a defense like Michigan’s which only allows12 points per game.  If Jim Harbaugh does not intentionally take his foot off the gas, the Wolverines can name the score here.

Northwestern at Iowa – 11 (37):  The temptation here is to take the UNDER – -even at 37 points.  Northwestern will struggle to score 13 points; Iowa’s offense is a mirage.  But that number is so low that I will not yield to the temptation…

Pitt at UNC – 3 (64):  The Tar Heels are undefeated in conference games; they are the only team in the ACC Coastal Division in that status.  Pitt has two conference losses on the books; another one here would end their hopes of a return to the ACC Championship Game.

Oklahoma – 1 at Iowa St. (55.5):  I certainly did not think back in August that this game would be a contest between two stragglers in the Big-12.  But it is…  The combined conference record for these teams is 1-7.

Arizona St. – 13 at Colorado (46):  This game is “interesting” because it involves two teams that fired their head coaches in mid-season; this is a battle of the interim coaches…

UNC-Charlotte at Rice – 16.5 (59):  As noted above, Rice needs two wins for bowl-eligibility and this one is a perfectly winnable game for the Owls at home

USC – 15 at Arizona (77):  Two explosive offenses playing two porous defenses.  USC and Oregon are not slated to meet in the regular season this year, but they might be the participants in the PAC-12 Championship Game…

Oregon – 16.5 at Cal (58):  This spread opened at 15 points and has been inching up as the week wore on.  If you like the underdog, you can find the spread as high as 17 points in several places today.  I think Oregon is on a roll and I am sure they know that any hope they have for a CFP shot is to win out convincingly in every game between now and the first week in December.  Cal only scores 23 points per game; it hangs in games because its defense only gives up 22 points per game – – but they have not seen the likes of Oregon’s offense yet.  I like Oregon to run away and hide here; I’ll lay the points on the road; put it in the Six-Pack.

Oklahoma St. at K-St. – 1 (56):  This one is purely a hunch.  K-State is much stronger at home than on the road – – and they are home here.  K-State had an extra week to prepare for this game; the Cowboys had a tough game last week against Texas.  The game opened as a “Pick ‘em game” and the current line indicates money on the K-State side of the ledger.  However, I think Oklahoma St. sees itself as one of the contestants in the Big-12 Championship Game and has assembled the puzzle pieces to reveal the picture.  I like the Cowboys to win this one outright on the road, so I’ll take the points here; put it in the Six-Pack.

Baylor at Texas Tech – 2.5 (62.5):  Both teams are 4-3 for the season and both teams are 2-2 in conference games.  The loser here is pretty much eliminated from the Big-12 race; the winner remains alive but needs outside assistance.

Ole Miss – 2 at Texas A&M (55):  The only reason I hesitate to take Ole Miss in this game is that their defense has been a no-show in each of the last two weeks giving up a total of 79 points to Auburn and LSU.

Florida vs Georgia – 22 (56):  Even with the Bulldogs favored by more than 3 TDs, this is the College Game of the Week.  The reason the spread is that big is not just that the oddsmakers figure Georgia’s defense to present problems to the Florida offense – – which it will – – but also because Florida’s defense is not stout; the Gator defense gives up 28 points per game ranking 80th in the country in scoring defense.  Unless Georgia is looking ahead to its meeting with Tennessee next week, this should be a rough day for the Gators and Gator fans.  Since this game is affectionately known as the “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party”, let me interject a thought from noted dipsomaniac, W. C. Fields:

“I exercise self-control and never touch any beverage stronger than gin before breakfast.”

I am not certain that all the Gator fans and Bulldog fans will be so careful this weekend…

Before I move on to NFL stuff, I want to alert everyone that next week will begin my look at teams for my imaginary SHOE Tournament – – the means by which we might determine the worst team in the country for 2022.


NFL Commentary:


There are two teams on their BYE Week this week in the NFL:

  1. Chargers:  They get to lick their wounds after being run over – literally – by the Seahawks last week and losing by 2 TDs.
  2. Chiefs:  They get to heal their bruises and bask in the glory of last week’s demolition of the Niners and a 3 TD victory.

There is another London Game this week matching the Broncos and the Jaguars.  Neither team is playing well so far this year; the Broncos offense is non-existent, and the Jags play just well enough to lose close games.  The people in the UK have lost their Queen and their Prime Minister in the last two months; the pound sterling has tanked to its lowest level since WW II; and now the NFL sends them that game?  Haven’t those people suffered enough?

The Green Bay Packers are going to miss the playoffs if they play the way they have played in the last two weeks.  Two weeks ago, the Packers were steamrollered by the Jets; last week they threw up on their shoes against the Commanders (see below).  A closeup of Aaron Rodgers during the game clearly showed him asking the sidelines “What are we doing?”

As someone who tries to find solutions to problems, let me offer a suggestion:

  • When the Packers get their BYE Week, maybe Aaron Rodgers should take all the offensive players to Peru to smoke some ayahuasca.
  • How much could it hurt?
  • The problem is that the Packers BYE Week does not come until Week 14 – – and it might be too late for such an excursion even if the Packers’ brass thought it was a good idea.

Another team that might have trouble making the playoffs is the Tampa Bay Bucs.  Their record is 3-5 after last night’s loss and they have lost 5 of their last 6 games and the offense is anemic at best.  Everyone is waiting for Tom Brady to “throw the switch” and propel the Bucs back to Super Bowl contender status.  But there is a confluence of too many negative factors here for me to think that is anything more than a 50/50 chance:

  • Brady is dealing with those “dreaded distractions” off the field.  In his case, it is his marriage and his family that provides the distractions.
  • Brady is hardly the same “all-in/all-for-one-and-one-for-all kind of teammate” that he was in New England or that he was in his first year with the Bucs.  He misses time in Training Camp; he gets Wednesdays off; he goes to Robert Kraft’s wedding instead of being with the team before a game.
  • Brady was never a “mobile QB” but his OL this year is more porous than any he has played behind before.  If you want to be polite and say he was not mobile before, you would have to say he is statuesque in 2022.
  • Oh yeah, and Father Time has never missed a tackle…

One other veteran QB having a bad year in 2022 was Matt Ryan.  I use the past tense here because the Colts announced last week that Ryan has a “Grade 2 separation of his shoulder” and that he is on the shelf for the rest of 2022.  Grade 2 shoulder injuries usually do not require surgery, but this injury is in a “wait and see” status.

The Colts have named Sam Ehlinger – – a 6th round pick from Texas – – as their starting QB.  That is an interesting choice given that the other QB on the Colts’ roster is Nick Foles who has a very positive history with Colts’ coach Frank Reich.  Reich was the Eagles’ QB coach when Foles and the Eagles won the Super Bowl in February 2018.  Choosing to go with Ehlinger tells me that the Colts want to know if they might have a guy already on the roster who might be their starting QB for a few years; Foles is not that guy and Ryan will be 38 coming off this injury in 2023.

The Colts have been casting about for a QB ever since Andrew Luck decided to retire and live his life without NFL football.  Since 2018, here are the starting QBs that the colts have tried to make into a replacement for Luck:

  • 2019:  Jacoby Brisset and Brian Hoyer
  • 2020:  Philip Rivers
  • 2021:  Carson Wentz
  • 2022:  Matt Ryan

Unless Ehlinger plays well, the Colts will once again be QB shopping in the early months of 2023.  No pressure, Sam…

Here are some comments about games from last week in the NFL.

Ravens 23  Browns 20:  The Ravens were on the brink of giving up another double-digit lead in this one but held on to win in the end.  The Browns won the statistical battle for what that is worth holding Lamar Jackson to 120 yards passing in the game.  However, the Browns only converted on 2 of 11 third-down tries and gave up 5 sacks for the day.

Cowboys 24  Lions 6:  The Lions led at halftime 6-3 but 5 turnovers by the Lions were too much to overcome.

Commanders 32  Packers 21:  The levels of ineptitude on display in this contest were stunning.  If the teams had been wearing uniforms from two schools in C-USA, you might never have told the difference.  To cite just one measure of ineptitude, with 2 minutes to play in the first half, Aaron Rodgers had 38 yards passing; he finished the day with 194 yards passing.  In addition, the officiating in this game resembled the officiating in a C-USA game.  The Packers lost a long “scoop and score” TD because of a penalty call that was at least 30 yards removed from the play AND that call was below the level of a “ticky-tack call”.  If what happened on that play was “illegal contact” then there should have been a penalty flag thrown on every pass play this season.  The Packers had not converted on a third down try until the 4th quarter when they converted twice in a row – – on penalties against the Commanders’ defense.  This was the “early game” in my viewing area; it was brutal.

Bengals 35  Falcons 17:  If you only saw the stat sheet, you might think this game was an even bigger blowout.

  • Total Offense:  Bengals 537 yards  Falcons 214 yards
  • First Downs:  Bengals 29  Falcons 13
  • Average Gain per play:  Bengals 8.1  Falcons 4.8

Joe Burrow threw for 481 yards – – 345 yards in the first half alone – – and this game was never in doubt.

Titans 19  Colts 10:  This game puts the Titans in control of the AFC South.  Derrick Henry led the way carrying the ball 30 times for 128 yards.  The Titans have now won 4 in a row – – the longest winning streak in the AFC.

Giants 23  Jags 17:  The Giants scored 10 points in the fourth quarter for another comeback win in this game.  The Jags almost made a comeback of their own when WR Christian Kirk was tackled at the 1 yardline as time expired in the game.  The Giants are 6-1 for the season but their point differential is only 20 points.  The Giants’ did not pick up the 5th year option for Daniel Jones last season; my guess is that they wish now that they had done that.

Panthers 21  Bucs 3:  Unless I missed it, Robert Kraft was not married again on the Friday before this game causing Tom Brady to miss more practice time than usual.  This was a huge upset; at gametime, the spread on the game had ballooned to 13.5 points.  The Bucs’ offense was skewed to the pass once again; Brady threw the ball 49 times, and the Bucs ran the ball only 16 times.  The Panthers did just the opposite.  They ran the ball 27 times and threw it 22 times.  The Bucs have now lost four of their last five games but still find themselves on top of the NFC South race despite a 3-4 record.     The Buccaneers couldn’t stop a Panthers rushing attack that just traded away its best player. Carolina steamrolled the Buccaneers defense for 173 yards on the ground.

Raiders 38  Texans 20:  You would never have guessed the score of this one just looking at the stat sheet:

  • Total Offense:  Texans = 404 yards  Raiders = 400 yards
  • First downs:  Texans = 21  Raiders = 25
  • Time of possession:  Texans = 29:17  Raiders = 30:43
  • Total Offensive Plays:  Texans = 65  Raiders = 55

Josh Jacobs had a big day gaining 143 yards on 20 carries and scoring 3 TDs.  The Texans led 20-17 at the start of the 4th quarter but two of Jacobs’ TDs and a Pick-Six in the 4th quarter provided the win for the Raiders.  Both teams entered the game with 1-4 records; the Raiders are now 2-4 but with a point differential of +13.

Jets 16  Broncos 9:  The Jets led 10-9 at the start of the 4th quarter; the Broncos had 3 possessions in the 4th quarter:

  • 3 plays – – 9 yards – – PUNT
  • 10 plays – – 50 yards – – TURNOVER ON DOWNS
  • 7 plays – – 31 yards – – TURNOVER ON DOWNS

Russell Wilson did not play due to a hamstring injury, so Broncos’ fans cannot blame him for this lack of scoring.  Jets still have work to do despite a 5-2 record.  Jets were only 3 of 14 on third-down conversions and the Jets were penalized 11 times (for 85 yards) in the game.  When you have only 260 yards total offense in a game, it is usually going to be fatal if you lose 85 yards on penalties.  Also, losing RB Breece Hall to a knee injury will give the Jets another thing to “work out”.

Seahawks 37  Chargers 23:  Don’t look now, but the Seahawks are leading the NFC West with a 4-3 record.  Kenneth Walker III, rookie RB from Michigan St. and Wake Forest, led the way here with 168 yards rushing and 2 TDs.  The Chargers are also 4-3 for the season but they trail the Chiefs in the AFC West by a game.

Chiefs 44  Niners 23:  These teams played evenly for the first half; the score at the intermission was 14-13 in favor of the Chiefs.  But the second half belonged entirely to Chiefs.  Both QBs had good days:

  • Patrick Mahomes:  25 of 34 for 423 yards with 3 TDs and 1 INT
  • Jimmy Garoppolo:  25 of 37 for 303 yards with 2 TDs and 1 INT

The Niners have a very good defense; Nevertheless, the Chiefs had 10 possessions in the game with these outcomes:

  1. INT
  2. TD
  3. TD
  4. Missed FG attempt
  5. TD
  6. TD
  7. TD
  8. TD
  9. PUNT
  10. END of GAME

It looks to me as if JuJu Smith-Schuster has adjusted to the KC offense and that Patrick Mahomes has adjusted to JuJu Smith-Schuster.  In the last two Chiefs’ games, Smith-Schuster has 12 receptions for 237 yards and 2 TDs.  Not too shabby…

Dolphins 16  Steelers 10:  The Dolphins led this game 13-0 at the end of the first quarter and it looked as if this would be uninteresting by halftime.  Not so.  The Steelers’ defense played well, and the offense rose to some level of consciousness making the game interesting to the end.  Neither team scored in the second half; the Steelers had the ball 7 times after intermission; they punted on the first 5 of those possessions and threw 2 INTs on the subsequent ones.  (Kenny Pickett had a total of 3 INTs in the game.)  The Dolphins likewise had 7 possessions in the second half.  They turned it over on downs once, punted 5 times and then knelt out the game.


NFL Games This Week:


The Bucs continued their poor play last night losing to the Ravens.  The final score of 27-22 is deceiving because the Bucs got a TD with less than a minute to play in the game making it appear as if the game was up for grabs when it was not.  The Ravens did not dominate the game, but they were clearly the better team on the field.

(Sun Morning) Denver vs. Jax – 2 (39.5): [Game is in London] This is the Dog-Breath Game of the Week.  Neither team is particularly good.  If I had a fleeting thought to set my alarm clock on Sunday morning so I could get up and cook my long-suffering wife a nice breakfast such that I would be ready to tune into this game at 9:30 ET, even a glace at who is playing would put the kibosh on that idea.  Given the prospects for the teams in this London Game, perhaps an observation from Sir Winston Churchill is appropriate here:

“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”

The Broncos’ defense has been heroic so far this year; the Broncos’ offense has been AWOL.

Bears at Cowboys – 9 (42.5):  If you are planning on a wager on this game, you might want to shop this line.  Most places have the spread at 9 points, but you can find it higher in several places and one sportsbook has it at 10.5 points.  Both teams are strong defensively – – although the Bears’ trade of Robert Quinn for a 4th round draft pick probably diminishes the Chicago pass rush a bit.  I like the Cowboys at home despite the Bears’ strong showing last week on the road against the Pats.  Give me the Cowboys to win and cover; put it in the Six-Pack.

Raiders – 1 at Saints (50):  Reports say that Jameis Winston is healed sufficiently to practice and play, but the Saints announced that Andy Dalton is their QB.  Evidently, Dennis Allen sees a lot more in Dalton’s 4 games under center than the stat sheet reveals to me.  And remember that I am not a Jameis Winston fan or apologist, but I do not understand this decision.  Both teams run the ball well; both teams average over 5 yards per rushing attempt.

Panthers at Falcons – 3.5 (41.5):  These are not good teams, but this game cannot be the “Dog-Breath game because the NFC South race is so close that this game has meaning in those standings.  The spread opened the week at 7 points and dropped to this level quickly; that means a lot of money showed up on the Panthers early in the week.  Given the Bucs loss last night, consider this:

  • The Falcons will lead the NFC South if they win this game.  Really…

Just for giggles, I’ll take the Falcons at home to win and cover; put it in the Six-Pack.

Steelers at Eagles – 10.5 (43):  In 1943 with WW II in full swing, there were not a lot of people here in the US willing and able to play professional football.  So, for one season the Steelers and the Eagles “merged their teams” and played as the Steagles.  The team finished the season with a 5-4-1 record; it was the first time the Eagles had a winning season in team history.  In 1944, the Steagles were dissolved but the Steelers merged that year with the Chicago Cardinals to form the Car-Pitts.  That merger was not so successful; Car-Pitts finished 1944 with an 0-10 record.  I like the Eagles to win this game but will not be doing anything with that double-digit spread.

Dolphins – 3.5 at Lions (51.5):  Last week, the Lions and Dolphins combined to score a total of 22 points.  So, I am not sure where a Total Line above 50 comes from…

Cards at Vikes – 3.5 (49):  If you can figure out how either of these teams will play on “any given Sunday” you are a better person than I am.  The line opened at 5.5 and has been dropping slowly all week so there must be a lot of folks out there who are convinced that they know how this game will unfold.  Do not count me in that number; I think this game is a mystery.

Pats – 2.5 at Jets (40.5):  The spread here opened as a “Pick ‘em game” and money flowed to the Pats instead of to the Jets at home.  Surely, no one was positively impressed by the bed-wetting performance the Pats put out there last Monday night against the Bears.

Titans – 2.5 at Texans (40.5):  I do not understand this line; the Titans are the better team, and they can maintain their control of this division race with a victory here.  The Texans run defense was gashed last week by Josh Jacobs; this week, they get to try to contain Derrick Henry – – and the spread is less than a field goal?  I guess folks expect a bit of a letdown for the Titans after beating the Colts last week.

Giants at Seahawks – 3 (44.5):  This game could be a fun one to watch.  It is not often that a 6-1 team gets points against a 4-3 team but there it is.  Both teams can run the ball and neither team is particularly adept at stopping the run.  The Giants rank 29th in the league in rushing yards allowed and the Seahawks rank 30th.

Commanders at Colts – 3 (39.5):  If Carson Wentz was at QB, this might be an interesting game as a “revenge game”.  Too bad.  Now it is a battle to the death between Taylor Heinicke and Sam Ehlinger.  I don’t know if I can stand all that excitement.

Niners – 1 at Rams (42.5):  This is the Game of the Week.  The Rams arrive with a 3-3 record while the Niners are 3-4.  However, the Niners beat the Rams in Santa Clara by 2 TDs just 4 weeks ago.  This game features two good teams and the game will have all sorts of impact on the standings and playoff positioning down the road.  If you are thinking of wagering here, this is another line to shop.  This morning you can find the game anywhere from “Pick-‘em” to the Niners as a 2-point favorite.  The Niners have won 7 of the last 8 games against the Rams and I think that streak will be extended here.  I like the Niners to win and cover on the road; put it in the Six-Pack.

(Sun Nite) Packers at Bills – 11 (47.5):  The Packers have not been a double-digit underdog in any game Aaron Rodgers started since Rodgers took over QB duties in Green Bay back in 2008.  For the record, he has started 213 games since then, and the spread is 11 points in this game.  The Bills had last week off while the Packers were embarrassing themselves against the Commanders.  Everything points to a blowout here, but I will not be laying double-digits.

(Mon Nite) Bengals – 3.5 at Browns (46):  I thought about this as the Game of the Week for a brief moment because it is a division rivalry game and because the Bengals are tied for the lead in that division.  But I went with Niners/Rams instead.  If the Browns have any hope of winning the AFC North, this is a must-win game for them.

So, let me review the Six-Pack:

  1. Oregon – 16.5 over Cal
  2. Oklahoma St. +1 against K-St.
  3. TCU – 7 over W. Virginia
  4. Falcons – 3.5 over Panthers
  5. Cowboys – 9 over Bears
  6. Niners – 1 over Rams

And here are 4 Money Line Parlays for this week:

  • Jets @ +115
  • Titans @ minus-140
  • Commanders @ +135
  • Cowboys @ minus 420                    To win $972

And …

  • Titans @ minus-140
  • Commanders @ +135
  • Cowboys @ minus-420                    To win $399

And …

  • Jets @ +115
  • Titans @ minus-140
  • Cowboys @ minus-420                    To win $356

And …

  • Ole Miss @ minus-125
  • Tennessee @ minus-410
  • Arkansas @ minus-170                    To win $256

Finally, let me close with this observation by Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times regarding the Black Friday game the NFL will be putting on starting in 2023:

“NFL Prime Video will exclusively stream a ‘Black Friday’ NFL game in 2023, the day after Thanksgiving.

“Pundits predict a huge increase in personal fouls, unsportsmanlike conduct and targeting calls that day — and the football game might even be worse.”

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



The World Series Begins Tomorrow

The World Series begins tomorrow night in Houston between the Astros and the Phillies.  Each team averages 4.6 runs per game over the course of the regular season; the biggest statistical difference is this one:

  • Runs Allowed (Astros) = 518              Run Differential = 219
  • Runs Allowed (Phillies) = 685             Run Differential = 62

Not surprisingly, the Astros are the betting favorite to win the World Series.  The betting line for the Astros as of this morning ranges from minus-185 to minus-190 while odds on the Phillies range from +170 to +175.  However, the oddsmakers do have a somewhat surprising line on the Total Runs Scored in Game 1.  As noted above, these teams combined to average 9.2 runs per game in the regular season.  The Total Run Line for Game 1 is 6.5 runs.

Yes, both teams are starting quality pitchers in Game 1 but that is a pretty sharp drop in the expected number of runs to be scored in that game.

Around this time every year, I suggest here that MLB ought to play a Saturday World Series game in the daytime.  For some folks, that would be a nostalgic moment; it used to be that the World Series played ONLY day games.  My suggestion has nothing to do with nostalgia; it has to do with growing baseball.  Let me explain:

  • The 7 games this year are all scheduled to begin at 8:00 PM ET.  Most – if not all – will end between 11:30 and midnight ET.
  • Games 3, 4 and 5 will happen on school nights.  Kids in school are not likely to be around to see the ends of those games.
  • Adding kids to the MLB fanbase makes a lot of sense for the folks who run MLB.  So, why not play Game 2 on Saturday afternoon instead of at night?

I have been asking that question for about 20 years now …

The next thing to consider this morning is the recent rash in “field storming” by college football fans this year.  When LSU beat Ole Miss, the fans stormed the field; since when did a win over Ole Miss deserve that sort of exuberance?  Last year, fans at UMass stormed the field after UMass beat – – hold your breath here – – UConn.  In that Titanic struggle:

  • UMass was 0-5 and had lost 16 games in a row.
  • UConn was 0-6.

And somehow that victory in that meaningless game merited a field storming…???  [Aside:  Once college basketball season starts, substitute “court storming” for “field storming” here.]

The SEC fined LSU $250K for the incident after the Ole Miss game as if it were the school that somehow egged on the goofs who felt compelled to come out of the stands.  The problem here is that far too much attention is paid to these events and having others pay attention to you is the motivation that drives things like TikTok and Instagram and other social media things.  Coverage by media outlets tends to focus in the size of the crowd on the field and the excitement of the fans along with some clucking about dangerousness of the field storming itself.  That is nonsensical; college kids do lots of things that are far more dangerous than running onto a football field after a game and jumping up and down like a goof.

What might make more sense is for media outlets to ignore the field storming part of the sporting event and focus on the game and not the goofs.  If there has to be a discussion of the event(s) at all, focus on how the currency has been cheapened by so many field stormings that follow games that are simply not that big a deal.  Field storming can be justified if it happens:

  • When an unranked team beats the #1 or #2 team in the country – – OR – –
  • When a team beats a division rival it has not beaten in the last decade or more.

Other than that, pay no attention to the attention-whores storming the field…

One more thing today …  I noted above that college basketball season is about to begin and that reminds me that there is a local story here in the DC area that will likely get national attention if things go awry.  Patrick Ewing has been the head basketball coach at Georgetown for five years.  Ewing helped put Georgetown on the college basketball map back in the 1980s and he brought years of experience as an NBA assistant coach to the job at Georgetown when he replaced John Thompson III.  The thinking then was that Ewing would be a top-shelf recruiter and developer of talent and Georgetown would return to its “glory days”.

Well, that simply has not happened.  Ewing’s record at Georgetown is a less-than-laudatory 68-84.  But it gets worse because if you look only at Big East conference games, Georgetown is only 26-63 against conference opponents.  Last year, Georgetown was 0-19 against other Big East teams.

Patrick Ewing has a pedigree and his ties to Georgetown and to Georgetown basketball are solid.  But I doubt that he can survive another season that even resembles last year’s debacle.  And that will become a national story if it happens.

Finally, let me close with this observation by musician/comedian Oscar Levant:

“I envy people who drink – at least they know what to blame everything on.”

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



Two Trouble Spots Today …

There are two topics on the agenda for today; both have the potential to get me in trouble.  If I were smart, I would delete the references from my clipboard and produce a space-filling “listicle” such as:

  • Six Reasons the Phillies will Win the World Series – – or – –
  • The Top Ten Punters of the Super Bowl Era

“Listicles” are useful; they created debate but not rancor and they are usually easy to compose.  Not so with today’s agenda.  So, let me begin in Madison, Wisconsin with the University of Wisconsin’s women’s volleyball team.

Let me set the stage here by quoting three paragraphs from a report about this matter from

“The Wisconsin volleyball team has been engulfed by scandal ever since nude videos and images started circulating the web earlier in the week.

“In the videos and photos which Outkick will not share or link to, members of the team expose themselves in a sexually graphic manner.  While portions of the footage are incredibly sexually graphic, there is no sex shown.  Most of it involves women together posing and dancing around.  Some of the footage was filmed in 2021 but it’s unclear if it was all filmed last year.

“It is also important to note the footage was not secretly captured.  The women in the videos and photos are aware they are being filmed.”

The snarky thing to do here is to dismiss this matter with a flip reference to “Girls will be girls” and move on.  But in this case the university police are investigating “multiple crimes” related to the release of this stuff on the Internet.  Moreover, the Wisconsin Athletic Department has gone on record publicly in support of the women and condemning the release of these videos/images.  In an obviously crafted comment decrying the release the Athletics Department concludes with this sentence:

“Our top priority is supporting our student-athletes and we are providing them with the appropriate services and resources.”

At this point, I have to call time out because if I don’t, I will have to call Bullsh*t!  The women in this case are not victims; they never agreed to allow these materials to hit the Internet and it would be nonsense to suggest that they derive any sort of benefit from such a release.  Nonetheless, if the reporting above is correct in saying that the women were aware that they were being filmed, then they are not victims here.  They chose to “go on camera” doing whatever it was that they did; they obviously expected privacy but took the risk anyway that their privacy might be breached.  This is simply a logical consequence of the choice that they made; it is an unfortunate consequence but there is no suggestion that someone forced, coerced or tricked these women into doing what they did.

I believe the proper current street argot here would be, “Suck it up, buttercup.”

One more thing here …

  • Memo to Wisconsin Athletic Department:  As you try to provide your student-athletes with appropriate services and resources, you might want to find someone who can counsel these women not to do something embarrassing when they know they are on camera.
  • And since some of this footage has been around for at least a year, you might want to ask some of the coaches there if they knew about any of this before the stuff hit the Internet.

Moving on to Topic #2 today, I would like to suggest that Tom Brady give serious consideration to retiring today.  Not at the end of the 2022 season; not during the Bucs’ BYE Week which starts on November 14; not after tomorrow night’s game against the Ravens on Thursday Night Football; I mean today.  And I am not going anywhere near the nonsensical argument that Brady’s substandard play so far in 2022 is somehow “tarnishing his legacy”.  That “reasoning” is patently nonsensical; even if the Bucs finish 2022 with a 5-12 record and will have been eliminated from the playoffs prior to Christmas Day, Tom Brady still has 9 Super Bowl appearances and 6 Super Bowl rings.  That legacy does not change.

My suggestion is that retiring today gives him a chance – – not a certainty but a chance – – of saving his marriage and his family.  I am assuming here that all the reporting about Brady and his wife both hiring divorce lawyers and a growing environment of estrangement building on the home front is accurate and that the thorn in the paw that gives rise to said discomfort is the fact that Brady retired and then unretired last winter.

Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen have been married for more than a decade and have two children together.  [Aside:  Brady has a third child from a previous relationship.]  I know that I am projecting here, but I have to think that family relationships built over a period of more than a decade are more important than football games – – even Super Bowl football games.  I know; that is easy for me to say since the chances that I might ever play in a Super Bowl game are the same as the chances that I might learn to levitate.  Nevertheless, I have to believe I would choose a chance at “family preservation” if ever faced with a comparable situation.

Finally, the description of the antics engaged in by those Wisconsin volleyball players reminded me of a snarky remark made by author/poet, Dorothy Parker:

“If all these sweet young things were laid end to end, I wouldn’t be the slightest bit surprised.”

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



Christian McCaffrey To The Niners

A couple of weeks ago when the Carolina Panthers fired coach Matt Rhule, I wondered aloud if that meant the team was going to do a complete teardown and start over sort of thing.  It surely looked as if the team needed help in lots of areas, but there were two question marks that did not make it clear to me what the team direction would be:

  1. The GM that assembled the current iteration of the Carolina Panthers – the roster that has multiple areas of need – is still on the job.  So, is he ego-invested in the current roster to the point that the team would try to resolve its problems with a patchwork approach?
  2. The owner appears to be a well-intentioned and impatient man.  When he hired Rhule, he gave him a 7-year contract and said then that he and the team were embarking on a 5-year plan to become annual contenders.  Nonetheless, that 5-year plan was abandoned in less than two-and-a-half years; so, might an impatient owner be unwilling to watch his team “bottom out” for a year or two on the way to becoming an annual contender?

The decisions to jettison Robbie Anderson and then to trade away Christian McCaffrey indicate that the owner is OK with the idea of a tear-down/rebuild project for the team.  Anderson and the coaches got themselves crosswise during a game and Anderson was sent to the locker room by the head coach.  It is nearly impossible to walk back from that sort of confrontation; and at the same time, whatever happened to cause that situation to obtain diminished Anderson’s trade value significantly.  The Panthers’ brass took what they could get – – a 6th-round pick in 2024 and a 7th-round pick in 2025.  Those are slim pickings.

Then came the “big one”.  Christian McCaffrey is a valuable asset.  If you want to nitpick McCaffrey’s value, you would have to point to the fact that he has had injury issues for the last couple of seasons; but when healthy, he has All-Pro level seasons on the record.  Last week, the Panthers sent McCaffrey to the Niners in exchange for 4 draft picks – – a second, third and fourth round pick is 2023 and a fifth-round pick in 2024.

That transaction says to me that the “strategy folks” in Carolina are looking to the future and that their vision of the future is not just to take a nip and a tuck on the fabric of the team.  Here is why I think that way:

  • Assuming that the “strategy folks” have some level of faith in their scouts and talent evaluators, the four draft picks they just got for McCaffrey should produce 3 players for the roster.  It would be hugely optimistic to plan for even one of them to be an All-Pro caliber player, but three competent players is not an unrealistic expectation.
  • Also, barring a miraculous finish to the 2022 season, the Panthers will also be in the market for a new head coach in January 2023.  Having all of that extra “draft capital” should make the job in Carolina a bit more attractive to top-shelf candidates once the owner goes on the “interview circuit”.

Before anyone thinks that I see smooth sailing ahead for the Panthers, the team still needs a QB.  Ever since Cam Newton’s body broke down on him, the Panthers have been looking for a competent replacement.  That competent replacement does not appear to be on the current roster so the strategic direction for the team comes to the fore once again.

  • Is there sufficient patience to develop a young QB who can grow into something more than a journeyman status along with a bunch of young teammates?
  • We shall see…

What that trade tells me about the Niners is that their strategic plan is “Super Bowl in Feb 2023 or Bust”.  When I read the teams of the trade, I wondered why the Panthers did not get a first round pick as part of the mix; well, the reason the Niners did not offer up a first round pick is because they have already traded it away for 2023 in the deal that allowed them to move up in the draft to take Trey Lance.

Another aspect of this trade from the Niners’ perspective is that this move prevents the Rams from acquiring McCaffrey.  There were plenty of rumors floating around that the Rams were interested in making a deal with the Panthers and it is plenty clear that the Rams could use an upgrade at RB.  So, perhaps an element of the Niners’ thinking involved making the trade to prevent a division rival from acquiring an asset that it needs.

Trading away – – and therefore also trading for – – an excellent RB who still has mileage on the tires is not commonplace.  I tried to come up with comparable exchanges in recent years and the best I could come up with took me back more than a few years:

  • Jerome Bettis went from the Rams to the Steelers
  • Eric Dickerson went from the Rams to the Colts.
  • Marshall Faulk went from the Colts to the Rams

I am sure there are other examples that I have not dredged up from my memory, but I will note that looking only at that list, every one of those trades worked out well for the “acquiring team”.

Finally, Christian McCaffrey is on his way back to California where he went to college at Stanford.  So, let me close with this comment on “California” from humorist Ian Shoales:

“Most people in California come from somewhere else.  They moved to California so they could name their kids Rainbow or Mailbox, and purchase tubular Swedish furniture without getting laughed at.  It’s a tenet also in California that the fiber of your clothing is equivalent to your moral fiber.  Your ‘lifestyle’ (as they say) is your ethic.  This means that in California you don’t really have to do anything, except look healthy, think good thoughts and pat yourself on the back about what a good person you are.  And waiters in California want to be called by their first name.  I don’t know why.”

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



World Series And World Cup Today …

The World Series is set.  Starting on Friday, the Houston Astros and the Philadelphia Phillies will decide this year’s World Champions of MLB.  The Astros had the best regular season record in the AL; of all the teams that qualified for the NL playoffs, the Phillies had the worst regular season record.  I said earlier this month that if the Phillies made it to the World Series, there would be calls for changes in the playoff system citing some sort of unfairness regarding the teams with better regular season records.  Well, it is happening, and it is mostly nonsense

It is beyond imagination to have a situation where all the teams entering the NL playoffs would have an identical regular season record.  So, by definition, there will be matchups between teams where one of them had a “better” regular season than the other.  If you let that regular season difference be your guide, then there is no reason to waste time playing any playoff games.  Take a look at the team with the better record and give then a walk-over.  That is – in essence – what the World Series used to be; the team in the NL with the best record played the team in the AL with the best record and that was it.

Teams that had better regular season results are rewarded in the MLB system.  They get an “extra” home game – – assuming they can stretch the series to its limit – – and the two teams with the best regular season records get a BYE through the first round of the playoffs.  In the AL, “the chalk” prevailed; in the NL, “the chalk” lost every playoff series.  And somehow, some folks portray that as a “bad thing”.  Sorry, I don’t get it…

Last weekend, my TV remote got a real workout flipping back and forth among NFL games and MLB playoff games; next weekend will provide another stress test for that “Recall” button on the remote and the AA batteries inside.

Moving on …  While browsing around for sports tidbits, I came across the following statement:

“Indonesian police are bringing criminal charges against three officers and three civilians for their roles in the deaths of 131 people at a soccer match when police fired tear gas inside a stadium, setting off pandemonium.”

I recalled an incident at a Turkish soccer match where fans were so upset with a loss by the home team that they set fire to part of their own stadium to show their displeasure.  So, I wondered what had happened here.

The game took place in Malang city in East Java.  The home team – – Arema – – lost to Persebaya by a score of 3-2.  Fans of Persebaya were not in attendance; they had been banned for fear of hooliganism and/or a riot.  It turns out that precaution was not sufficient.

After the game, fans stormed the field to “demand answers” and part of the fans’ ”demanding” included throwing bottles and other objects at players and officials.  Things got really out of hand when the “demand for answers” continued in the area outside the stadium where fans overturned police vehicles and that led to the police employing tear gas.  That caused a stampede and the stampede caused deaths and injuries that would turn out to be fatal injuries later.  All that because the home team lost a soccer match 3-2…

The President of Indonesia ordered a complete suspension of Indonesian soccer league games until a “thorough safety evaluation” is carried out.  [Aside:  Good luck with that.] and tighter security measures are provided for games once they resume.  The Indonesian soccer mavens have banned all home field matchups for Arema for the rest of the season.  [Aside: If anyone ever asks you to give an example of “locking the barn door after the horse has bolted”, tell them about this move to avoid home games for the rest of the season.]

I just did a quick check to see if the Indonesian National Team is part of this year’s World cup Tournament in Qatar.  It is not.  So, officials there are probably happy not to have to deal with fans and supporters who can be provoked to rioting so easily.

And speaking of the World Cup Tournament and the hosts in Qatar, I ran across this report at saying that the government in Qatar is going to require all foreign visitors to download two apps to their phones – – and that those apps are a form of spyware.

One app – – Ehteraz – – is an app for tracking COVID and by extension for tracking people movement.  The app evidently can “manipulate content” on the phone (whatever that might mean) and it can “override other installed software” on the phone. Sounds like fun …

In case that just makes you shrug your shoulders, the other app – – Hayya – – intends to track tournament matches but it also has permission to “share other content on the phone” with persons or organizations not specified in the downloading process.  What could possibly go wrong …?

The Qatari government is serious about security for the World Cup.  They have requested – – and the request has been granted – – Pakistani military troops being sent to Qatar to provide security for the game venues AND those Pakistani troops will be augmented by “an unlimited number” of military police from Turkey.

Now that you mention it, I think I made the right choice to stay home and watch the World Cup games on TV here in Curmudgeon Central.

Finally, apropos of nothing, let me close with this observation by humorist, Dave Barry:

“The best babysitters, of course, are the baby’s grandparents.  You feel completely comfortable entrusting your baby to them for long periods, which is why most grandparents flee to Florida.”

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



Football Friday 10/21/22

In an old movie, Best Foot Forward the fictional Winsocki Military Institute has a fight song for its football team.  The concluding lyrics of that song tells the team:

“You can win, Winsocki

If you buckle down

If you mow them down

If you go to town

You can wear the crown

If you will only buckle down.”

I shall not worry about “mowing them down” or even “going to town” today in Curmudgeon Central, but I will try to follow the song’s instruction to “buckle down” in an attempt to produce a winning Football Friday.

And I begin as usual with a review of last week’s selections and the Six-Pack:

  • College = 2-0-0                                  Season Totals = 11-6-0
  • NFL = 2-2-0                                        Season Totals = 9-10-3
  • Money Line Parlays = 0-3                Season Totals = 2-8
  • “Profit/Loss” = minus-$300             Season Totals = minus-$561


College Football Commentary:


The Linfield College Wildcats extended their 2022 record to 5-0 last week with a 42-21 victory over Pacific University.  That win extends the streak at Linfield of winning seasons in football to 66 in a row.  The streak began in 1956 and was only “interrupted” by the coronavirus in 2020 when Linfield did not play football in the midst of the COVID pandemic.  This week the Wildcats are at home for Family Weekend and welcome Pacific Lutheran as their opponent.

The Lutes bring a record of 4-2 to the game and a winning streak of 3 consecutive games all of which are over Northwest Conference opponents.  Go Wildcats!

Tings are looking good in McMinnville, OR given the football fortunes of the Linfield College Wildcats; such is not exactly the case in South Bend, IN.  It’s not just that Notre Dame is losing football games; it’s to whom they are losing.  Last week it was Stanford – – a team that has been struggling for the last several years.  The game was a home game for the Irish and they were 16-point favorites.  In 2022, Stanford has 2 wins; one was last week at Notre Dame and the other was on opening weekend over Colgate.  This is definitely not a good look for Marcus Freeman in his first year at the helm for Notre Dame.

But wait, there’s more …  another Irish loss at home this year was to Marshall.  If you google “Marshall football schedule 2022” you can find some scary stuff there:

  • Marshall is 3-3 so far this year.
  • Marshall has beaten Norfolk St., Notre Dame, and Gardner-Webb.
  • Marshall has lost to Bowling Green, Troy, and La-Lafayette.

That information is not stuff you go out of your way to include in your curriculum vitae.  Moreover, Notre Dame still has upcoming games against Clemson, Syracuse (still unbeaten in 2022) and USC on its dance card.

There is a question mark hanging over half of the Big-10 as of this week.  We know Michigan and Ohio State are good in the East and Penn St. is not bad either.  But who is the class of the Big-10 West?  Is it Illinois this year?  The Illini are 6-1 having won 5 in a row and beaten Minnesota last week.  They are tied with Purdue at 3-1 in the Big-10 West.    Normally, Wisconsin is the Big-10 West bully, but the Badgers have already lost 3 conference games this season; so, they are irrelevant for 2022.

There is a potentially interesting season-ending rivalry game brewing in Division 1-AA football.  For whatever national rankings at that level might be worth, Montana St. is currently ranked #6 in the country and Montana is currently ranked #10.  As of this morning, the combined record for the two teams is 11-2.  As you might guess, these schools are longstanding rivals and play each year for the possession of the “Great Divide Trophy”.  This year, the teams will play at Montana St. in Bozeman, MT on 19 November.

The undefeated teams for the 2022 season in Division 1-A college football took a hit last week.  As of this morning, only 9 teams have unblemished records:

  1. Clemson
  2. Georgia
  3. Michigan
  4. Ohio St.
  5. Ole Miss
  6. Syracuse
  7. TCU
  8. Tennessee
  9. UCLA

And here is your weekly reminder regarding the contenders for the 2022 Brothel Defense Award – – given to the football team that allows the most scoring upon it for the season:

  • Akron gives up 39.0 points per game
  • Vandy gives up 39.4 points per game
  • UNC-Charlotte gives up 44.6 points per game

            Looking at some games from last week in the SEC:

Ole Miss 48  Auburn 34:  Total offense for the two teams here was 1019 yards and most of it came on the ground.  Auburn ran for 301 yards while Ole Miss ran the ball for 448 yards in the game.  Three turnovers by Auburn gave Ole Miss an important edge here.

Tennessee 52  Alabama 49:  The Vols broke a 15-game losing streak against Alabama and set up a showdown with Georgia in the SEC East on November 5th.  Total offense in this game was an evenly divided 1136 yards.  ‘Bama missed a field goal with about 3 minutes left in the game and then Tennessee made a field goal with 15 seconds left to play.  That was the difference on the scoreboard.  The difference on the stat sheet was this:

  • Alabama:  17 penalties for 130 yards
  • Tennessee:  6 penalties for 39 yards

Georgia 55  Vandy 0:  This outcome is not surprising.  The stat sheet is worth looking at for its total imbalance:

  • Total Offense:  Georgia = 579 yards  Vandy 150 yards
  • First Downs:  Georgia = 31  Vandy = 11

This is the 24th consecutive loss for Vandy in SEC conference games.

LSU 45  Florida 35:  The Tigers outgained the Gators by 133 yards in this game and they converted on 8 of 12 third-down situations – – and then 2 of 2 fourth-down situations.   The teams combined to punt the ball only 3 times in the game.

Kentucky 27  Mississippi St. 17):  Both teams are now 5-2 for the season and both teams have 2 conference losses for the season.  That probably means they are playing for bowl invitations and not any part of the SEC Championship Game.

In ACC action last week …

Syracuse 24  NC St. 9:   The Orange remain unbeaten for the year and hand NC St its second loss both in ACC games.  The Syracuse defense has certainly done its jo0b so far this year only giving up an average of 13.2 points per game ranking them6th in the country.

Clemson 34  Florida St. 28:  The Seminoles won the stat sheet and they rallied with 2 TDs in the 4th quarter to make this a close game.  This is the 7th win in a row for Clemson over Florida St. as the Tigers remain unbeaten in 2022.

UNC 38  Duke 35:  The game went back and forth all day long until the Tar Heels scored a TD with 16 seconds left in the game to win it.

Onward to Big-12 games last week …

Texas 24  Iowa St. 21:  Texas QB, Quinn Ewers, only threw for 172 yards in the game but three of his completed passes went for TDs.  The Cyclones had the ball deep in Texas territory in the final minutes and threatened to win or send the game to OT, but they turned the ball over on a fumble.  The Longhorns’ record is now 4-2 while Iowa St. drops to 3-4.

Oklahoma 52  Kansas 42:  That makes two losses in a row for Kansas and that makes it twice in a row that the Sooners have yielded more than 40 points in a game.  Neither of those statements makes for lots of smiles in either locker room…

TCU 43  Oklahoma St. 40 (OT):  State led 30-16 at the start of the 4th quarter but TCU rallied to force OT and then to seal the deal in OT.  That is the first loss for State while TCU remains unbeaten in 2022.  Big game this week for TCU at home against K-State who had last week off to prep for the game.

And in Big-10 action last week …

Illinois 26  Minnesota 14:  The Illini are tied for the lead in the Big-10 West and are 6-1 overall for the 2022 season.  Check these stats:

  • Total Offense:  Illinois = 472 yards  Minnesota = 180 yards
  • Passing Offense:  Illinois = 252 yards  Minnesota = 38 yards (and 3 INTs)

Michigan 41  Penn St. 17:  Penn St. led 14-6 at halftime but the second half was all Michigan.  Both teams were undefeated at the start of this game, but Michigan was clearly the better team on the field.  The Wolverines ran the ball for 418 yards in the game.

Michigan St.  34  Wisconsin 28 (OT):  Both teams are mired in mediocrity this year with 3-4 records.

Purdue 43  Nebraska 37:  The Huskers managed to lose yet another 1-score game…

Out west in the PAC-12 …

Colorado 20  Cal 13 (OT):  And then there were none…  Every team in Division 1-A college football now has a win in 2022.

Utah 43  USC 42:  The two teams combined to produce 1138 yards on offense for the game.  That may not be so surprising for USC since Lincoln Riley’s teams at OU were never known for their defense.  Not the case with Utah; even adding in last week’s scoring outburst by USC, Utah only gives up 22.3 points per game for the season.

And in “miscellaneous games of interest” from last weekend …

Arkansas 52  BYU 35:  As you might expect from the score, this was an offensive explosion.  The two teams combined to produce 1101 yards of offense in the game.

Georgia Southern 45  James Madison 38:  This is the first loss of the year for James Madison in their first season competing at the Division 1-A level.

Stanford 16  Notre Dame 14:  That is the third loss for the Irish this year and two of those losses – – the two BAD ones – – have been at home.

UCF 70  Temple 13:  UCF ran up 738 yards of total offense including 305 yards on the ground.  The Owls managed only 304 yards of total offense.  UCF converted 8 of 9 third down tries and only punted once.  This was an organized ass-kicking, and Temple was like a one-legged man in that contest.


College Football Games of Interest:


One general comment if I may:

  • There are a lot of very interesting and potentially very good games on tap for this weekend.  If you cannot find something on this card to interest you, college football is just not your game.

K-State at TCU – 3 (54):  These teams are a combined 11-1 for the season and both have 3-0 records in Big-12 Conference games.  Both teams are in the Top 25 his week so the confluence of two ranked opponents and the conference importance makes this the College Football Game of the Week.

La-Monroe at Army – 6.5 (55.5):  Army is 2-4 for the season and both wins came at the expense of a Division 1-AA team.  La-Monroe is one of the teams in the lower tiers of Division 1-A football so this game could be an indicator of where Army fits into the college football hierarchy in 2022.  Starting this week, Army’s remaining schedule is not exactly Murderer’s Row:

  • Vs. Air Force
  • At Troy
  • Vs UConn
  • At UMass
  • Vs. Navy

Army could still become bowl-eligible – – but cannot afford a loss here.

Duke at Miami – 9 (58):  Believe it or not, Duke has the better overall record at this point in the season.  However, Miami needs this game more because Miami only has 1 conference loss, and a second loss could render some future games as meaningless.

Texas A&M – 3 at South Carolina (44):  That is neither the spread nor the Total Line that Aggies’ boosters envisioned for this game back in June…

Indiana at Rutgers – 3 (48):  The Scarlet Knights have lost 21 consecutive home games against Big-10 opponents.  Here they are at home and a short-priced favorite.  Can they break that streak?

Iowa at Ohio St. – 29.5 (49.5):  Iowa does not score; so far in 2022, the Hawkeyes only average 14.7 points per game ranking them 127th in the country just below other offensively challenged teams such as New Mexico St. and Temple.  The Ohio St. defense is much better than average, so Iowa is highly unlikely to score save for a short field opportunity here or there and maybe a long TD on a busted coverage.  The far more interesting part of this game will be the very good Iowa defense against the very good Ohio St. offense.  The Buckeyes lead the nation scoring an average of 48.8 points per game.  Iowa’s defense only gives up 9.8 points per game (3rd in the nation).  Something’s gotta give …

Marshall at James Madison – 12.5 (50):  Please remember that Marshall went on the road and beat Notre Dame last month.  Now, they are once again on the road and are double-digit underdogs to James Madison.  Of course, I saw all this coming back in August – – NOT!

Syracuse at Clemson – 13.5 (49.5):  Both teams are undefeated in 2022 and both teams are in the Atlantic Division of the ACC.  Paint this game as most important …  It was my runner-up to K-State/TCU as the College Football Game of the Week.

Hawaii at Colorado St. – 6 (46.5):  The last game of interest involved two undefeated teams; this one involves two “rather bad” teams.  You can be interested in college football games at or near the top of the heap as well as games in the dregs of the barrel.

UNLV at Notre Dame – 27 (47):  The Bible says there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth on Judgement Day.  I suspect there will be a localized outbreak of weeping and gnashing of teeth among the Notre Dame fanbase if they find a way to lose this one at home…

UCLA at Oregon – 6.5 (71.5):  The Bruins are one of the undefeated teams left standing and the Ducks have rebounded from their opening week shellacking at the hands of Georgia.  This is a big game in the PAC-12, and I think it should be a scoring extravaganza.  Sadly, the weather forecast for Eugene, OR is rain much of Friday and overnight into Saturday and ongoing through much of the day on Saturday.  I really wanted toe OVER in that game…

Colorado at Oregon St. – 23 (48):  Obviously, the oddsmakers do not think that Colorado’s first win of the season last week was the harbinger of a great awakening for the Buffaloes …

Texas – 6 at Oklahoma St. (61):  The two teams are a combined 10-3 for the season and both have only one loss in conference games.  The winner will remain within striking distance of the winner of the K-State/TCU game this weekend; the loser will need help to make it to the Big-12 Championship Game.

Mississippi St. at Alabama – 20 (61.5):  I do not think I would want to have been an Alabama player in close contact with Coach Saban this last week after the ‘Bama defense gave up 50+ points and the team got flagged for 17 penalties in last week’s loss to Tennessee.  I see an Alabama team motivated to deal with a happier version of Coach Saban next week; I’ll take the Tide to win and cover at home; put it in the Six-Pack.

Ole Miss at LSU – 3 (66):  I know that Baton Rouge is a tough place for visiting teams and I know that LSU is hardly a stumblebum of a team, but Ole Miss is 7-0 this year and scores 40.9 points per game.  And the Rebels are the underdog here …???  Give me Ole Miss plus those points; put it in the Six-Pack.

Kansas at Baylor – 9.5 (59):  The question mark here is about the Kansas starting QB.  Simply put, can he play at nearly his capability this week or not?  The oddsmaker thinks not.

Florida International at UNC-Charlotte – 15 (64):  These are two bad teams; do not try to gloss over that reality.  Note above that UNC-Charlotte gives up more points per game than any other team to date in 2022 (44.6 points per game).  Notwithstanding that fact, the oddsmaker likes UNC-Charlotte by more than 2 TDs.  What might one infer from that data about the Florida International offense…???

Purdue at Wisconsin – 2.5 (51.5):  Purdue has only one conference loss in 2022 meaning it is in contention for the Big-10 West title; Wisconsin has already lost 3 conference games.  And Purdue is on a 4-game winning streak.  So, I do not understand this line, nor do I understand why it has expanded slightly as the week wore on.

Minnesota at Penn St. – 4 (44):  The Gophers have two conference losses; another one here will make their shot at the Big-10 West title a dicey proposition.  Penn St. was outclassed by Michigan last week – – but Minnesota is not Michigan.

Boise St. at Air Force – 3 (47.5):  Boise St. has been improving over the past couple of weeks after changing their starting QB; the Broncos have won their last two games by a combined 2 points.  I think the wrong team is favored here, so I’ll take Boise St plus the points; put it in the Six-Pack.


NFL Commentary:


The focus of most of the pregame coverage for the Bills/Chiefs game last week dealt with the statistical comparisons between Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen and particularly the way the two of them battled in last year’s playoff win by the Chiefs.  I think there was not nearly enough coverage of another important linkage between these two young star QBs:

When the Chiefs traded up in the 2017 NFL Draft to grab Patrick Mahomes, the team they traded with was the Buffalo Bills.

Now, before you jump to the conclusion that the Chiefs had to have “won that trade”, consider what the Bills got in return.  This “haul” takes into account the various picks the Bills got from the Chiefs after the Bills did a bunch of wheeling and dealing with them.  So, in exchange for Patrick Mahomes, the Bills got:

  • Tre’Davious White (CB) Has been voted All-Pro twice and second team All-Pro once.
  • Tremaine Edmunds (LB) Has been to the Pro Bowl twice
  • Dion Dawkins (OL) Has not missed a game since 2017 and been to one Pro Bowl
  • Siran Neal (CB) Provides secondary depth and special teams play for the Bills

            The Bills would take Josh Allen in the next NFL Draft and now have Allen plus those other player assets…

We are often reminded of two things that are fundamental to NFL football.  First, the league is a “quarterback driven league”; you can get anywhere without a stud playing QB.  Second, is the famous caution, “On any given Sunday …”  Well, those two adages came into an interesting juxtaposition last week when – – all on the same weekend no less:

  • Mitchell Trubisky beat Tom Brady
  • Zach Wilson beat Aaron Rodgers
  • Daniel Jones beat Lamar Jackson
  • Geno Smith beat Kyler Murray
  • Marcus Mariota beat Jimmy Garoppolo.

Make sense of that …

The NY Giants are 5-1 and have won a string of games by forcing late turnovers or coming up with late game offensive heroics.  Some say that is not sustainable but looking at the Giants’ schedule for the next 6 games, I can envision this situation continuing apace.  In fact, I think it might take a negative intervention from the football gods to make a change against this upcoming schedule for the Giants through December 4th:

  • At Jags
  • At Seahawks
  • BYE Week
  • Vs. Texans
  • Vs. Lions
  • At Cowboys
  • Vs. Commanders

Giants’ fans should look at that schedule and figure that a 9-3 record in early December is hardly out of the question.

So, “Team Blue” in NYC is pretty happy going into this weekend’s games.  On the other hand, “Team Green” in NYC is ecstatic.  The Jets are 4-2; they have won 3 games in a row, and they are winning by beating up the “other guys”.  Coach Saleh’s defenses in SF used to “beat people up” and he seems to have brought that sort of play east with him.  The Jets’ special teams were also excellent last week blocking a field goal try and blocking a punt that was returned for a TD.

Hey, it could be irrational exuberance – – hat tip to Alan Greenspan here – – but the NY Jets could be in the playoff picture this year.  Consider the next four games; three of them are clearly winnable.

  • At Broncos
  • Vs Pats
  • Vs Bills
  • At Pats

The other possibility is that the Jets could revert to being – – the Jets – – and have all this euphoria amount to nothing.  Let the games begin…

And speaking tangentially about the Jets upset victory last weekend, the victims then were the Packers and Aaron Rodgers in Lambeau Field.  Everyone and every team has an “off-day”; that is part of the fundamental NFL Mantra of “On any given Sunday…” but Rodgers and the Packers did not look as if they were “having a bad day”.  They looked downright discombobulated and outmanned.

In the Panthers/Rams game last week, WR, Robbie Anderson was sent to the locker room by Panthers’ interim head coach, Steve Wilks, in the middle of the game.  Shades of last year’s Antonio Brown sideline contretemps; but in this case, Anderson was sent off; he did not walk off.  Then the Panthers traded Anderson to the Cards on Monday.  In return, the Panthers got a 6th round pick in 2024 and a 7th round pick in 2025.  That is the NFL equivalent of trading Anderson for a bag of beans, and it surely seems like a low rate of return for a team like the Panthers that needs a talent infusion – – or might this be a signal to the locker room that the guys who played for Coach Rhule in college do not hold a special place on the roster anymore?  Just asking …

Moving on to a look as last week’s results …

Giants 24  Ravens 20:  The Ravens led by 10 points with 13 minutes left to play in the game.  Here are the results of the following possessions by both teams in those final 13 minutes:

  • Giants:  12 plays – – 75 yards – – TOUCHDOWN
  • Ravens:  5 plays – – 15 yards – – INT
  • Giants:  3 plays – – 13 yards – – TOUCHDOWN
  • Ravens:  2 plays – – minus-8 yards – – LOST FUMBLE
  • Giants:  5 plays – – 7 yards – – END OF GAME

The Ravens dominated the stat sheet racking up 406 yards on offense to only 238 for the Giants.  Nevertheless, the Giants had more time of possession with 31:52.  Very strange outcome…

Bengals 30  Saints 26:  The Bengals took their first lead of the game with 2:10 left in the game and held on to win.  The Saints final possession encompassed 9 plays and consumed 22 yards but lost the ball on downs.  The Bengals and Ravens are both 3-3 and are tied atop the AFC North.

Colts 34  Jags 27:  The Colts gave up 6 points in the 4th quarter of this game; that is interesting because in the 5 games leading up to this one, the Colts had not allowed a single point in any of the fourth quarters.  The Colts were entirely a passing offense in this game throwing the ball 58 times and gaining 389 yards through the air.

Vikes 24  Dolphins 16:  Looking at the stat sheet, this should have been a win for the Dolphins:

  • Total Offense:  Dolphins = 458 yards  Vikes = 254 yards
  • Time of possession:  Dolphins = 35:29  Vikes = 24:51
  • Total Offensive Plays:  Dolphins 73  Vikes = 50

How did this become a Vikes’ victory?  Three turnovers by the Dolphins did the trick.

Pats 38  Browns 15:  The Pats only outgained the Browns by 71 yards in this game, but they dominated time of possession by 10 minutes and held the Browns to only 70 yards rushing.  This was Bill Belichick’s 324th win has a head coach in the NFL tying him with George Halas for 2nd place in NFL history.  Don Shula is the NFL’s all-time winningest coach with 347 victories.

Jets 27  Packers 10:  The Jets dominated this game despite the fact that each team generated exactly 278 yards on offense for the day.  The Jets only managed 99 yards passing in the game but ran the ball for 179 yards against a Packers’ defense that is supposed to be better than that.  I did not see the whole game, but watching the condensed version leads me to observe that Aaron Rodgers missed a lot of open targets and that he was harassed by the Jets pass rush most of the day and that his receivers dropped more than a couple of balls that hit the receivers in the hands.  The Packers trail the Vikes by 2 full games in the NFC North; they need to get things organized in Green Bay ASAP.

Falcons 28  Niners 14:  The Falcons are now 6-0 against the spread for 2022.  The stat sheet shows a small edge for the Niners in this game – – except for 3 turnovers which set up 3 short fields for the Falcons.

Steelers 20  Bucs 18:  The Steelers’ defense came to life in this game and the Bucs’ offense continued to sputter notwithstanding a Tom Brady sideline tirade directed toward his OL.  I wonder if some folks on that Bucs offense are wondering if their productivity might be better had Brady not missed about 2 weeks of training camp or took time off to go to Robert Kraft’s wedding last weekend?

Seahawks 19  Cards 9:  The good news is that the Cards are only 1 game out of first place in the AFC West.  The bad news is that the Cards are 2-4 for the season.  The Cards got a field goal early in the game and then recovered a fumble in the end zone for a TD late in the third quarter.  That was the extent of their scoring for the day.

Rams 24  Panthers 10:  The Rams needed a solid win and got one here.  The Rams had 360 yards on offense and held the Panthers to only 203 yards.  The Panthers led 10-7 at the half but never found the scoreboard for the balance of the game.

Eagles 26  Cowboys 17:  The Eagles have a script for games in 2022:

  • Get a lead; build that lead; take that lead into halftime.
  • Hold the lead and close out the game with running and defense.

That pretty much sums up this game against the division-rival Cowboys last week …  After playing almost perfectly for the last month or so, Cooper Rush demonstrated that he is human by throwing 3 INTs in the game.

Bills 24  Chiefs 20:  This game was a Sesame Street game brought to you by the letter “E”.  It was entertaining, exciting, engaging, … you get the idea.  Most of all, it whetted my appetite for another game between these two teams in the AFC Championship Game in late January 2023…

Chargers 19  Broncos 16 (OT):  To say both offenses “sputtered” would be very generous here. The Chargers tied the game at 16-16 with 4 minutes left to play.  Here are the results of the possessions from that point on until the Chargers won with a field goal in OT:

  • Broncos:  4 plays – – 9 yards – – PUNT
  • Chargers:  7 plays – – 19 yards – – TURNOVER ON DOWNS
  • End of regulation and start of OT
  • Broncos:  3 plays – – 9 yards – – PUNT
  • Chargers:  3 plays – – minus-4 yards – – PUNT
  • Broncos:  3 plays – – 3 yards – – PUNT
  • Chargers:  3 plays – – 1 yards – – PUNT – – muffed by Denver recovered by LA
  • Chargers:  4 plays – – 7 yards – – FIELD GOAL.

If you add all that up, there were 27 offensive plays in about 10 minutes of game time that amassed a total of 43 yards for the two teams combined.  And that was a “prime-time game” …


NFL Games This Week:


As attractive as the college football schedule looks this weekend, that is how bleak this NFL lineup appears to be.  There are four teams off enjoying their BYE Week – – and three of the four are good teams that would have spiced up the schedule a bit:

  1. Bills: Their record is 5-1 with a league-high point differential of 95 points.
  2. Eagles:  They are the NFL’s only unbeaten team at this point of the season.
  3. Rams:  They are the reigning Super Bowl champs with a 3-3 record.
  4. Vikes:  Their record is 5-1 – – good enough for a 2-game lead in the NFC North.

The Cards beat the Saints last night 42-34 leading me to pose this question:

  • Given all the scoring and the fact that it was a 1-score game, why was I so glad to see the clock run down to zero?

The margin of victory here – plus some – came through two Pick-Six INTs by the Cards’ defense on successive possessions in the second quarter.  Even with that unusual circumstance, the game lacked excitement/energy.

Lions at Cowboys – 7 (49):  No matter what Jerry Jones says, I think the plan for Dak Prescott’s return all along was this game against the Lions who have a very porous secondary.  The Lions had last week off to try to shore things up back there but just as Rome was not built in a day, neither will the Lions’ pass defense deficiencies be resolved in a single BYE Week.  The fact that this line is only 7 points tells me that the oddsmakers are counting on both DeAndre Swift and Amon-Ra St. Brown to be back in action for the Lions.

Giants at Jags – 3 (42):  Sportsbooks do not stay in business for long by posting dumb lines.  Given all the hype surrounding the Giants (see above) you should wonder if there is a typo in the line shown here.  The 2-4 Jags are favored over the 5-1 Giants?  Bet the butter and egg money Maw…  The Jags’ run defense is a team strength and that is how the Giants have been winning games – – on the ground.  This game is tempting – – but I will find other games to make a selection.

Colts at Titans – 2.5 (41.5):  The Titans had last week off to prep for this division game And the Titans beat the Colts just two games ago.  A win for the titans here could give then a stranglehold on the division race with the tiebreaker in hand against the Colts.  So, call this a “must win” for the folks in Indy and they are on the road…

Falcons at Bengals – 6.5 (47):  The Falcons are perfect this year – – against the spread; the Bengals seem to be putting the pieces together in a come from behind win last week.  Could be an interesting game …

Browns at Ravens – 6.5 (45):  Is this the game where Lamar Jackson emerges from the funk he has been in for the last couple of weeks?  It is a division game and the Browns’ defense has been anything but fearsome so far in 2022.  If that does not arouse Jackson from his slumber, there may be something fundamentally wrong in Baltimore.  Meanwhile, the Browns do well when Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt are running the ball well.  I think the Ravens will try to make the Browns win the game through the air this week.  I do not see this as a game that lights up the scoreboard, but I do think that Total Line is short; I’ll take the game to go OVER; put it in the Six Pack.

Bucs – 11 at Panthers (39.5):  Unless Tom Brady has another wedding to go to this evening, I have to like the Bucs here; the Panthers are a hot mess.  But I have no interest in this double-digit spread.

Packers – 4 at Commanders (41):  The Packers have lost two in a row and have looked bad doing so.  Taylor Heinicke showed last year that he can find ways to win games and he can find ways to lose games.  This game pairs two teams that have no idea how they will play “on any given Sunday”.  If you are tempted to wager on this game, play the lottery instead…

Jets at Broncos – 1 (38):  The game opened the week as a “pick ‘em game” and now the Broncos are favored even though Russell Wilson has a hamstring injury and had to deal with it in practice all week.  So, all of a sudden, his “questionable status” becomes a plus for the Broncos?  I like the Jets, but I do not like the venue for the game.  I like this game to be a defensive struggle, but that Total Line is ridiculous.

Texans at Raiders – 7 (45.5):  Neither team played last week; so, there is no “BYE Week advantage” or “BYE Week hangover” at work here.  The Raiders can run the ball with Josh Jacobs and like to run the ball; the Texans allow an average of 5.1 yards per rush attempt so far in 2022.  The game is in Las Vegas; give me the Raiders to win and cover at home; put it in the Six-Pack.

Chiefs – 2.5 at Niners (48):  This is the Game of the Week.  Both teams are tied for the lead in their division; both have serious playoff aspirations; both of them lost last week.  I’ll just watch and enjoy this one.

Seahawks at Chargers – 5 (50):  The Total Line opened the week at 52 points and has been dropping slowly all week long.  I have no explanation for that; this game should see plenty of scoring.  The Chargers have won 3 games in a row and are tied with the Chiefs for the AFC West lead – – but they have hardly looked dominant in any of those three wins.  Meanwhile, the Seahawks’ 3-3 record has them tied with the Niners and the Rams for the lead in the NFC West.  The temptation here is the OVER – – but I will resist,

(Sun Nite) Steelers at Dolphins – 7 (44.5):  Tua should be back at QB for the Dolphins meaning the Steelers’ depleted secondary should be on notice.  Having said that, the Steelers’ defense played excellently last week against the Bucs.  I will use this s a “decompression game” on Sunday night so I can get a nice night’s sleep.

(Mon Nite) Bears at Pats – 8.5 (39.5):  This spread opened the week at 7 points and eased up during the week.  As noted above, Bill Belichick and George Halas are tied for second place in coaching victories in the NFL.  So, of course, this week the Pats get to play the Bears on MNF this week.  Every screenwriter in Hollywood would have that angle in his/her plot – – although lots of movie scripts would have this game played in Chicago.  The Bears have been off for 10 days, but I doubt that has been enough time to coach Justin Fields up for the defensive confusion he will face here.  For the Pats the only question is will Mac Jones start or not?  Notice, the question is not if his ankle is healed or not; the question is who will start at QB for the Pats.  Give me the Pats at home to win and cover here; put it in the Six-Pack.

So, let me review the Six-Pack:

  1. Alabama – 20 over Mississippi St.
  2. Ole Miss +3 against LSU
  3. Boise St. +3 against Air Force
  4. Browns/Ravens OVER 45
  5. Raiders – 7 over Texans
  6. Pats – 8.5 over Bears.

And here are three Money Line Parlays for imaginary $100 plays:

  • Ole Miss @ +125
  • Penn St. @ – 215
  • Miami (FL) @ – 335                            To win $338

And …

  • Jets @ – 110
  • Raiders @ – 290
  • Pats @ – 400                                      To win $221

And …

  • Commanders @ + 185
  • Raiders @ – 290
  • Pats @ – 400                                      To win $379

Finally, let me close today with an item that will explain why I like certain spectator sports more than some participatory sports:

Skiing n.  The art of catching cold and going broke while rapidly heading nowhere at great risk.”

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



Futbol, Football And $$$…

Time is counting down to the 2022 FIFA World Cup.  Here in the US, the promos for the upcoming telecasts of the games have been on the air sporadically for a couple of weeks, and it seemed to me that there were more of them last weekend during the national college football game telecasts and the NFL telecasts than there had been the week before.  This should not surprise anyone because sports on TV is only about money and the FIFA World Cup is as big a global sports brand as there is.  And to give you some perspective on how big that brand is, consider this latest information:

  • The 2022 games will be held in Qatar starting on Sunday, 20 November.
  • The population of Qatar in 2020 was 2.8 million people; that is the population of the entire country, not just its capital city – – Doha.
  • As of last week, FIFA officials said that 2.9 million tickets to the 53 games that will make up this version of the World Cup Tournament had already been sold.  Think about that; the games have sold more tickets in total than there are citizens of the host country.
  • Oh, and all the tickets are not yet sold.  You can still buy into some of the games because between 200,000 and 225,000 tickets are still up for grabs.

When I read that headline, my first thought was that – at least for once – it appears as if the World Cup will be “profitable” for the host nation and that the people who live there could possibly see some material benefits from having hosted the games.  That thought was tempered just a bit as I read on and ran across these sentences:

“The demand for accommodations has caused a huge spike in prices, and landlords are pushing renters out to cash in on the surge.

“One foreign resident said that she was given a week to leave her apartment, moved to a hotel, and then to a temporary apartment.  Similar apartments might typically rent for $2,500 per month but are going for $1,700 per night with a minimum 14-night stay.”

In case the batteries in your calculator are low, that’s a lodging bill of about $24K for two weeks in Qatar to watch soccer games.  Soccer – – or futbol – – likes to present itself as a sport of the people because it does not take great wealth to be able to play the game.  That is most certainly true, but the economics that surround attendance of soccer – – or futbol – – games at the highest level of the sport do not portray it as a sport of the people.

Moving on from futbol to NFL Football here in the US.  There was an announcement earlier this week that the NFL and Amazon Prime Video were going to stage a Friday game in 2023 on Black Friday.  Of course, you see the linkage – – Black Friday and Amazon Prime.  I can imagine all the suits in both executive suites covering themselves in drool over the consummation of that deal.  So, why was I surprised to read about that proposition? Well, the answer is that I am an old fart and I remember something from the dim recesses of my memory that explains why there are no normal Friday Night Football Games involving NFL teams.

Listen up children while the resident fogey around here tries to reassemble some details from long ago when the NFL only had 12 teams and was third in popularity among US sports fans behind major league baseball and horseracing.  At some point in the 1950s, the NFL negotiated a deal with CBS to televise NFL games as a “package”.  Some folks did not like that and filed suit and won that suit.  The basis of the suit was that the deal between the league as a whole and a broadcast network was a violation of the extant anti-trust laws.  Trust me, I cannot pretend to explain the merits or faults with the arguments made in that lawsuit and I will not even try to do so here.  But that was the situation at hand in the late 1950s/early 60s.

Not to worry, sports fans; the US Congress came riding to the rescue with a bill that in legislative niceties said:

  • Notwithstanding what a previous Congress said the Nation’s anti-trust laws and how the court has interpreted that previous Congressional intent, the current Congress calls BULLSH*T on all that and specifically wants to allow the NFL and CBS to enter into this broadcast rights deal.

Now, in order to get enough Congressthings on board, there had to be some “assurances” and ”carve-outs” here and there.  It is not written directly into the new law that Congress was about to pass – – because that would make the backroom dealing far too evident and no one wanted that to happen – – but the NFL “agreed” that this package and future broadcast packages would not put the NFL in direct competition with college football games on Saturdays nor high school football games on Friday nights.  The NFL could try to be a big bully against major league baseball in September and October on weekends, but it was not going to pick on those feisty high school footballers on Friday nights or the plucky “student-athletes” who played on Saturdays.

  • Please note that the NFL only plays regularly scheduled Saturday games after the college football season is over in December and January.
  • Please note that when the NFL sought to expand its regular season footprint beyond Sunday, it chose to create Monday Night Football because that did not interfere with high school or college football scheduling at the time.
  • Please note that when the NFL sought to expand its regular season footprint beyond Sunday and Monday, it established Thursday Night Football.

So, yes, the Amazon/Black Friday football deal is a marketing bonanza for all concerned – – but it is still a bit out of the ordinary.  Black Friday probably misses most high school football regular season schedules, but it still could be seen as the camel’s nose under the tent flap.  And I suspect that the execs who concocted and finalized this deal realized that this could ruffle some feathers so this new game will be presented:

  • … as a one-off.  Black Friday happens only once a year; this is not an attempt by the NFL and Amazon to beat up on local high school football teams.
  • … as no threat to any schools who may have a final regular season game scheduled for Black Friday because kickoff for the NFL’s  “Black Friday Game” will be at 3:00 PM ET.  The game will not be a “Friday Night Football Game” anywhere in the US.

Finally, both topics today have dealt with lots of money flowing to sports enterprises that already have plenty of money.  So, let me close with this line form Irish comedian, Brendan O’Carroll, about the harder side of family economics:

“One Christmas, things were so bad in our house that I asked Santa for a yo-yo and all I got was a piece of string.  My father told me it was a yo.”

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



Knowing, Thinking, Feeling …

Several weeks ago, I tried a new “art form” here and enjoyed doing it; so, I am going to give it a try once again to see if it is something I want to continue to do when the Moon is in Capricorn or whatever.

Here are two things I know:

  1. I know that the ”secrecy” – or “mysteriousness” if you will – that the Boston Celtics have maintained regarding the Ime Udoka suspension is not helpful.  Obviously, whatever Udoka did was serious enough in the eyes of the folks who run that organization to suspend him indefinitely; I do not question their motivation or anything else associated with their decision.  However, by being as “secretive” as they were – and have been – the organization encourages rumor and speculation about just what it was that got Udoka in such trouble.  Left to the imagination, the speculations can become very lurid.
  2. I know that I hate political advertising on TV by any and all candidates in any and all time slots involving programs I might be watching.  For the record, I hate them even more when they assault my focus in the middle of a timeout in a football game.  Candidates who “approve those messages” should be boiled in oil.

Here are three things I think:

  1. I think Brett Favre’s image as a fun-loving country boy who also happened to be a great NFL QB is shot.  His involvement in the scandal to divert welfare funds from very needy people to something as crass as a volleyball venue at Southern Mississippi is pretty dark stuff.  Others involved in the mess have been charged criminally; as that number grows, it will become more difficult for Favre to “remain above it all”.  Even in the southeastern part of the US where football is revered, I think Favre has squandered his stardom.
  2. I think the NFL’s “Concussion Protocol” continues to need improvement.  It will never be “perfect”, but I do not think it is so good now that the league and the union can turn their attention elsewhere.  If the primary objective is “player safety” and if a brain scan device is not available at every game venue for use by the “unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant”, then no player going under examination should ever be approved to go back into a game.  And if that were ever to be the case, look for a threat to the “integrity of the game” as “spotters in the booth” who are never within 50 yards of a player on the field can take a player out of a game “for examination” …
  3. I think the lawsuits and the counter-lawsuits between the LIV Golf folks and the PGA Tour need to be settled via compromise.  Continuation on the current path is not likely to be beneficial to either organization or to any of the professional golfers who choose to play under either – – or both? – – entities.  The only beneficiaries are the law firms generating billable hours attached to these legal actions.  If it were the Congress that somehow set these suits in motion, I would have to call what the Congress did the “Litigators’ Full Employment Act”.

Here are two things I feel:

  1. I feel that too many people have taken Tom Brady’s diminished performance so far in 2022 and concluded that Father Time has caught up with him.  Maybe that is the case, but I feel that Brady’s problems this year are not physical or emotional.  I feel that Tom Brady has succumbed to his celebrity status and has begun to believe some of the nonsense that is written about him and said about him on radio/TV.  He missed two weeks of Training Camp – – so what, he’s The GOAT; he doesn’t need all that practice time.  He does not always practice with the team on Wednesdays – – so what, he knows the game plan better than the coaches do.  He skipped last week’s Saturday practice/walk-through to attend Robert Kraft’s wedding in NYC on Friday night – – so what, he is going to call audibles at the line of scrimmage half the time anyway.  Sorry …  Even Tom Brady needs to spend time practicing with this team this year because football is choreographed, and he needs to be in step with the other ten guys out there on offense.  The practice field is more important than the Red Carpet.
  2. I feel that far too many people have overlooked a truly valuable and positive contribution made to US society by Danny Boy Snyder.  We live in a time of serious division in the US.  Red States hate Blue States.  Progressives consider conservatives as demonic – – and vice versa.  There are issues dividing the genders and the generations.  We have hawks and doves along with globalists and isolationists.  I doubt if even the most fundamental US dispute has ever been resolved – – Great Taste versus Less Filling…  And into the middle of all that turmoil, you have the unifying factor of Danny Boy Snyder.  He seems to be The Great Unifier in the sense that just about everyone I know considers him to be a horse’s ass.  Remember this the next time you hear or read anything about this man…

Here is what comes next:

  1. A judge in Nevada ruled against the NFL in a motion to dismiss Jon Gruden’s lawsuit against the league and the Commissioner regarding the release of his emails and his firing as the head coach of the Raiders.  Obviously, the league will appeal the ruling since it wants this matter heard under its very private “arbitration system” – – the results of which seem to resemble the outcomes from the Court of the Star Chamber.  This matter is far from over; this was a victory for Gruden in a minor skirmish.  However, if you think it might be fun to get a peek behind the curtain of mystery surrounding NFL owners, you should root for this action to remain in open court.
  2. The MLB Playoffs have reached the semi-final round; if the Phillies make it to the World Series as the “third-wildcard team”, look for lots of proposals to modify the playoff system to favor teams with better regular season records.
  3. The NHL and the NBA seasons are both underway.  Until the Super Bowl is finished, both sports will have to take a seat in the back row for US sports fans.
  4. College basketball has not begun just yet – – save for the annual exercise of ranking the Top 25 teams in the country having never seen any of those teams play any basketball at all.

Finally, apropos of nothing, let me close with two observations by comedians who are no longer with us:

“Behind every successful man is a woman, behind her is his wife.”  [Groucho Marx]

And …

“Just cause you got the monkey off your back doesn’t mean the circus has left town.”  [George Carlin]

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



Predicting The Future …

There is a guy in Houston commonly known as “Mattress Mack”; he owns a chain of furniture stores, and over the past several years he has achieved sports notoriety for making very large wagers on various sporting events and using the wagers as a means to promote sales at his chain of furniture stores.  His most recent “big bet” was earlier this year when he placed a series of bets totaling $10M taking the Astros to win the World Series.  According to one report I read, he stands to win $73M if the Astros accomplish that feat.

Here is how he uses his bets to promote sales:

  • Customers who buy a minimum amount of furniture/furnishings at his stores in a specified time frame will get their money back if his bet is cashed.
  • So, if he loses his wager, there is some compensation due to increased sales at the stores.  If he wins the wager, he benefits from the increased sales but must pay off customers from his winnings on the wager.

Even though I understand the “philosophy” behind this wager/promotion concept, I must admit that when I first read about his futures wager on the Astros to be World Champions in 2022, I was a bit shocked.  I am not averse to gambling on sporting events; anyone who has read these rants for any time will surely recognize that.  However, I am not interested in betting on baseball because baseball is further out on the spectrum than “unpredictable”; baseball is often “inscrutable”.  Consider this year’s two National League Divisional Series matchups:

  1. The Phillies finished 14 games behind the Braves in the NL East and the Braves held an 11-8 advantage in head-to-head play.  Naturally, the Phillies won the best-of-five game series by a 3-1 margin simply because the Phillies scored 7, 8, and 9 runs in their three victories.  Scoring like that covers up incidental flaws such as “poor team defense” and a “shaky bullpen”.
  2. The Padres finished 22 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West and the Dodgers held a 14-5 advantage in head-to-head play this year.  Naturally, the Padres won the best-of-five game series by a 3-1 margin simply because the Dodgers only found away to score a total of 7 runs in their three losses.

And serious MLB fans just shrug their shoulders at these results tossing them aside as being “just the way baseball is”.  And they are right; that is “how baseball is” and that is why I do not consider baseball as an attractive wagering situation.

Then again, I am not the owner of a chain of furniture stores with a net worth of several hundred million dollars – – like “Mattress Mack”.  Good luck to him on his wager.  So far, the Astros have done their job for him ousting the Mariners 3 games to none in one of the American League Divisional Playoff rounds.  The Astros will play the winner of the Yankees/Guardians series that will finish up today – – weather permitting.

Changing subjects … During the NFL off-season, there were 5 “major” QB moves in the league that have not even begun to bear fruit so far in 2022:

  1. Baker Mayfield:  He became expendable when the Browns traded for Deshaun Watson and his contract was too much for the club to carry as a back-up/ fill-in for Watson.  The Browns got a “conditional fifth-round pick” for Mayfield from the Panthers – – so he did not cost much.  And that is about the best you can say about that QB acquisition because the Panthers’ offense has been miserable, and that unit basically got Coach Matt Rhule fired last week.
  2. Matt Ryan:  He was a slightly more costly acquisition than Mayfield; Ryan cost the Colts a third-round pick in 2023.  However, Ryan got off to a rocky start in Indy at best.  His most notable stat through the first 5 games was that he had fumbled 11 times in those 5 games.  At that pace, Ryan would fumble 37 times in a 17-game season and the season record for “fumbles by a QB” is only 23.  The Colts have played 4 division games out of their first 6 games and have a 1-2-1 record in those games; acquiring Matt Ryan was supposed to allow the Colts to dominate their division…
  3. Mitchell Trubisky:  He did not cost the Steelers any draft capital; he just cost them a 2-year deal worth less than $20M.  Nevertheless, Trubisky was benched after only 4 games as the starter when the Steelers’ offense was effectively AWOL for those first 4 games.  There are some reports that Trubisky and one of the Steelers’ WRs got into a shouting match at halftime of the game where Trubisky was benched.  I have no idea if that happened but if Trubisky had a QB Rating of 120 and the Steelers’ offense was blowing folks out of the water, then that putative shouting match would not have happened.
  4. Carson Wentz:  The Commanders paid a third-round pick in the 2022 draft and a conditional third-round pick in the 2023 draft to acquire Wentz.  This is good news and bad news.  The good news is that Wentz is the best QB the Commanders have had on the roster since Kirk Cousins left town and maybe for even longer than that.  The bad news is that statement is damning by faint praise because the Commanders’ QB situation has been a hot mess for as long as 45 years now.  Commanders’ fans will now get their wish and see Wentz on the sidelines as he just had surgery for a broken finger and will be out a while.  Welcome back, Taylor Heinicke…
  5. Russell Wilson:  He cost the Broncos a ton – – 3 NFL quality players, two first round picks and two second round picks.  Through 6 games, the Broncos are 2-4 and they have only scored 91 points in those 6 games.  [Aside:  Only the Texans have scored fewer than 91 points.]  Wilson looks confused and hesitant in his new environs and with his new offense.  If that is simply an issue of his “learning curve” then things will be fine in Denver; if there is something else at work here, this could be very bad news for Broncos’ fans.

            Finally, since today’s rant has been about the successes and the failures in trying to predict the future, let me close with this observation from the ancient Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu:

“Those who have knowledge don’t predict; those who predict don’t have knowledge.”

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