Football Friday 11/18/22

I feel as if Football Friday went through a time warp back to the 1920s.  No, I have not been visited by Mr. Peabody and Sherman, but check the analogy here:

  • 1920s:  WW I just ended; there was a “return to normalcy” per President Harding; and then the Great Depression and WW II followed.
  • Football Fridays:  Disrupted last week to yield a Football Friday-Lite; this week is going to be a normal Football Friday;  there will be no Football Friday at all next week and if there is one on December 2, it will be another “Lite one”.

So, let me begin as usual with a review of last week’s Six-Pack and Money Line Parlays:

College = 2-1-0                                                          Season Total = 19-10-0

NFL = 0-3-0                                                                Season Total = 14-17-3

Money Line Parlays = 1-3                                         Season Total = 6-17

Profit/Loss = +$484                                                   Season Profit = $106

 

College Football Commentary:

 

            The Linfield College Wildcats beat Lewis and Clark 70-7 to wrap up a 9-0 regular season.  Division III college football has a bracketed tournament to determine its national champion; normally, the Northwest Conference champion gets an invite to that event and with a 9-0 record, I expected Linfield to participate.  Indeed, this week Linfield will host Pomona-Pitzer in a first-round game of a 32-team bracketed field.  The Sage Hens bring an 8-2 record to this game.  Interestingly, the two losses on their schedule are both against teams that Linfield defeated earlier this season.  Go Wildcats!

The Big Ten West appeared to belong to Illinois 2 weeks ago as the Illini had a comfortable lead in the division with a winnable schedule ahead of them. However, after following up a miserable loss to Michigan State two weeks ago with a lackluster performance and another loss to Purdue last week, the race in the Big 10 West is now wide open.

Illinois, Purdue, Minnesota and Iowa are currently tied in the Big Ten West standings with a 4-3 conference record. The Illini play No. 3 Michigan this week and they are a 17.5-point underdog; so, they are likely to fall out of the race. That situation elevates the importance of the Iowa/Purdue game upcoming in Week 12. And Minnesota is hanging in there to see if anyone falters so that they might swoop in and pick up the shards…

I want to take a minute this week to talk about three college coaches in their first year on their current job who have produced significant turnaround results.  I am sure there are others out there who have done similarly laudatory work but these three are the ones that came to my mind as I was putting this stuff together.  Listed alphabetically:

  1. Kalen DeBoer – Washington:  He spent 5 seasons as the coach at the University of Sioux Falls – – an NAIA school.  In those 5 seasons he won 3 NAIA National Championships and lost in the Championship Game one other time.  After time as an assistant coach in various places, he took over Fresno State in 2020 and was hired by Washington last year after the Huskies went 4-8 in 2021.  As of this morning DeBoer’s Huskies have an 8-2 record and last week they upset Oregon which had been ranked #6 in the country at the time.
  2. Sonny Dykes – TCU:  He came to TCU from nearby rival SMU, and he has the so far undefeated Horned Frogs ranked in the Top 4 in the CFP rankings as of this morning.  Hard to find a lot of fault there…
  3. Jim Mora – UConn:  The Huskies had been a doormat – and a perennial contender for my imaginary SHOE Tournament – for years.  When Mora took the job, it seemed like such a huge step down for him that I wondered if he was serious.  A coaching career arc that goes from the Atlanta Falcons to the Seattle Seahawks to UCLA to UConn is more than a bit unusual.  He took over a program that went 10-50 in the last 5 years and now has the Huskies bowl-eligible before Thanksgiving.

In Big-10 action last week …

Michigan 34  Nebraska 3:   This game was never in doubt; the Wolverines almost tripled the Huskers in total offense 411 yards to 146 yards.  Brad Dickson had this Tweet as the kickoff approached:

“Michigan is favored by 31 points over the Huskers. Right now, the team feels like a Democrat running for office in Nebraska.”

Purdue 31  Illinois 24:  As noted above, the Big 10 West race is a scramble and Illinois is no longer the big dog there.  Illinois has a date with Michigan this week where they are 17.5-point underdogs.

Minnesota 31  Northwestern 3:  The Gophers are still in the race for the Big 10 West.  Like Illinois, Iowa and Purdue, the Gophers have 3 conference losses.  Iowa and Purdue play each other soon, Illinois must deal with Michigan this week.  Here is the rest of the Minnesota schedule:

  • Vs. Iowa this week – – huge game for both teams
  • At Wisconsin next week

Iowa 24  Wisconsin 10:  This victory means that Iowa remains in the Big 10 West picture despite miserable offensive stats for the Hawkeyes:

  • Total Offense = 251.1 yards per game – – ranked 130th in the country
  • Scoring Offense = 17.9 points per game – – ranked 124th in the country

Ohio St. 56  Indiana 14:  It was indeed that ugly; the Buckeyes generated 662 yards on offense compared to 269 for the Hoosiers.  CJ Stroud threw 5 TD passes in the game.  By the way, Indiana has now lost to Penn St and Ohio St in consecutive weekends by the combined score of 101-28.  The Hoosiers started the season with three straight wins; now their record is 3-7 …

Penn St. 30  Maryland 0:  The Penn St. defense had its way with the Terps in this one:

  • Maryland Total Offense = 134 yards
  • Maryland Rushing Offense = 60 yards on 38 carries
  • Maryland First Downs = 11
  • Maryland Punts = 9

Moving on to SEC games…

Georgia 45  Mississippi St. 19:  Georgia only led 17-12 at the half, but the second half was dominated by the Georgia defense.  This win puts Georgia in the SEC Championship Game against LSU.

Auburn 13  Texas A&M 10:  I suggested this game could be called the Agony Bowl last week and it seems to have lived down to that label.  If you ever wanted proof that pre-season polls are nothing more than wild guesses, remember that the Aggies were ranked #6 in the country back in August.  They are now #7 – – in the SEC West.  With this loss, the Aggies will not be bowl eligible and will have a losing record for the 2022 season.

Alabama 30  Ole Miss 24:  The Rebels ran out to a 10-0 lead early in the second quarter and led 17-14 at halftime.  The Tide rallied in the third quarter and the score was tied at 24 as the fourth quarter began.  Then the Alabama defense pitched a shutout in the 4th quarter; here are the results of the 3 possessions for Ole Miss in the 4th quarter:

  • 3 plays  minus-4 yards  1:47 time of possession  PUNT
  • 8 plays  36 yards  1:47 time of possession  TURNOVER ON DOWNS
  • 8 plays  55 yards  1:37 time of possession  TURNOVER ON DOWNS

LSU 13  Arkansas 10:  The win guarantees LSU the SEC West slot in the SEC Championship Game.  This was a defensive struggle from kickoff to final gun.  Neither team generated 300 yards on offense; there were a total of 13 punts in the game.  LSU freshman LB, Harold Perkins, Jr. had 4 sacks and 4 forced fumbles in the game.

Tennessee 66  Missouri 24:  That is quite a reversal of form for the Vols after scoring one meaningless TD two weeks ago against Georgia.

Vandy 24  Kentucky 21:  The Commodores came to the game having lost their last 26 consecutive conference games; that losing streak is over.  Trailing 21-17, Vandy went on a fourth quarter offensive drive that covered 80 yards – – including two fourth-down conversions – – and scored with about 30 seconds left in the game on a short pass.  For the record, Kentucky was a 17.5-point favorite in the game.

Let me interject something here about Vandy football in the SEC.  In general, Vandy is over-matched in the SEC.  Since 2000, the Commodores have posted exactly 3 winning seasons; since joining the SEC in 1933, Vandy has never had double-digit wins in a given season.  Prior to their win over Kentucky last week, their 3 wins this year had been against Hawaii, Elon and Northern Illinois.  In two games against Alabama and Georgia this year, Vandy has been outscored by a combined 110-3.  Now lest you leap to the conclusion that Vandy is the worst SEC team ever, let me lay some history on you:

  • Sewanee: The University of the South  was a charter member of the SEC when it formed in 1932.  The Sewanee Tigers were in the SEC for 8 seasons and never won a single football game against an SEC opponent.
  • Against SEC opponents, Sewanee was shut out 26 times.
  • By comparison, Vanderbilt looks like a powerhouse…

Now on the results from the Big-12 …

K-State 31  Baylor 3:  The Wildcats remain in the Big-12 Championship Game picture, but this loss likely eliminates Baylor for any chance to get there.

TCU 17  Texas 10:  Ignoring the fact that TCU was a 7.5-point underdog in the game, the Horned Frogs remain undefeated for 2022 and this victory guarantees them a place in the Big-12 Championship Game.  Credit the TCU defense here; the only Texas TD came on a scoop and score by the Longhorns’ defense.  Consider this pair of stats for the game:

  • Texas Rushing Offense = 28 yards on 22 carries
  • Texas RB, Bijan Robinson, Rushing Offense = 29 yards on 12 carries

TCU defense held Texas to 1 of 13 on third-down conversions.

West Virginia 23  Oklahoma 20:  This is only the second conference win for W Va.  The loss sets Oklahoma’s record at 5-5 for the season and all 5 losses for the sooners have been in conference.  The Mountaineers need to win both remaining games to be bowl eligible; the remaining opponents are K-State and Oklahoma St.  The Sooners need to find a win in their last two games for bowl eligibility.  Their opponents will be Oklahoma St. and Texas Tech.

Pitt 37  Virginia 7:  The score was 28-0 at the end of the first quarter and the way that happened was a bit strange.

  • Pitt scored on a Pick-Six on the first play of the game. 
  • Pitt scored on a Pick-Six on the next Virginia possession
  • Pitt added 2 offensive TDs on the next possessions of the quarter to lead 28-0.

Some ACC results from last week …

BC 21  NC St. 20:  NC State had won 17 straight home games and was an 18-point favorite at kickoff.  One interesting stat from the game concerning BC – – the winner here:

  • Net Yards Rushing = minus-1 yard on 22 rushing attempts

UNC 36  Wake Forest 34:  The teams combined to produce 1079 yards of offense in the game – – 786 of those yards coming via the passing games.  This win puts UNC in the ACC Championship Game.

Florida St.  38  Syracuse 3:  That is 4 losses in a row for the Orange after a 6-0 start to the season.  Meanwhile, the Seminoles’ offense has been on fire the last two weeks – – they beat Miami by 42 points two weeks ago – – and the Seminoles have quietly accumulated a 7-3 record for the year.

And out west in the PAC-12 …

Washington 37 Oregon 34:  Oregon might still make it to the PAC-12 Championship Game but with its second loss of the year, the Ducks can kiss any CFP participation goodbye.  Oregon had a slight advantage on the stat sheet, but it was the Oregon defense that was the weak link here allowing the Huskies to gain 552 yards on offense for the day.  By the way, Oregon was a 13-point favorite at kickoff time.

Utah 42  Stanford 7:  The Utes remain in good position to be part of the PAC-12 Championship Game but their two losses so far in 2022 makes it highly unlikely that they will be part of the CFP.

Arizona 34  UCLA 28:  This is the second loss of the year for the Bruins, and it surely hurts their chances for a chance in the PAC-12 Championship Game.  Until last week, the Bruins had wins over Utah and Washington; their only blemish was a loss to Oregon.  Were they looking past a mediocre Arizona team to a game against USC?

USC 55  Colorado 17:  This was a walkover for USC even though Colorado led 3-2 at the end of the first quarter.  Some bad news for Trojan fans is that RB Travis Dye suffered an injury that will keep him out for the rest of the season – – even if the season extends into January 2023.

And in random games of interest from last week …

UConn 36  Liberty 33:  This was a big let-down game for Liberty and the win makes UConn bowl-eligible for the first time since 2015.  This represents a major turnaround accomplishment for Huskies’ coach Jim Mora in his first year at UConn (see above).

Notre Dame 35  Navy 32:  Navy outgained Notre Dame on offense by 33 yards for the day and held the Irish to only 68 yards rushing.  The Irish led 35-13 in the second half and held on for the narrow win here.

Western Kentucky 45  Rice 10:  Rice still needs another win to be bowl eligible.  This game was never close.

Arkansas St. 35  UMass 33:  Two SHOE Tournament candidates faced off here …

 

The SHOE Teams:

 

Let me pose a conundrum here.  Florida International is 4-6 this year.  Normally teams with 4 wins are easily eliminated from consideration for my SHOE Tournament.  But FIU is a special case.  Consider:

  • One of the four wins was in OT against a Division 1-A opponent (Bryant)
  • FIU has lost 73-0 to W. Kentucky, 52-14 to North Texas, 41-12 to Texas St. and 52-7 against Florida Atlantic.

I am going to list them as “on the radar” this week just because those losses are so bad.

  • Akron  1-9
  • Colorado  1-9
  • Colorado St.  2-8
  • Florida International  4-6
  • Hawaii  2-9
  • Indiana  3-7
  • New Mexico  2-8
  • Northwestern  1-9
  • UMass  1-9
  • UNC-Charlotte  2-9
  • USF  1-9
  • Va Tech  2-8

And before I leave the college commentary for the week, here are the three teams contending for the Brothel Defense Award for 2022:

  • USF gives up 40.0 points per game
  • UNC-Charlotte gives up 41.1 points per game
  • Colorado gives up 41.7 points per game

It looks as if that “race to the bottom” will go down to the wire.  Also please note that the 3 teams in contention here are all on the SHOE Tournament watch-list…

 

College Football Games of Interest This Week:

 

K-State – 7.5 at W. Virginia (54.5):  K-State needs a win to stay in line for a shot at TCU in the Big-12 Championship Game; W. Virginia needs a win to keep alive the possibility of a bowl game appearance this year.  An important game…

NC St. at Louisville – 4 (45):  Both teams are wildly inconsistent this year.  Betting on this game is like playing the lottery…

Va Tech at Liberty – 10 (47):  My guess is that Liberty coach, Hugh Freeze, had some candid remarks to make to the team after they lost to UConn last week as 2 TD favorites.

Miami at Clemson – 18 (48):  Earlier in the season, some were touting this game as a confrontation between “the establishment” (Clemson) and the “resurrected powerhouse” (Miami).  However, the Hurricanes show up here with a 5-5 record hoping to find one more win so they can go to a bowl game.

Ohio St. – 27 at Maryland (62.5):  About once a year, the Terps play a game about a mile over their heads and win a game no one thought they had a shot at winning – – or maybe losing such a game by a late field goal.  Is this that game?

Illinois at Michigan – 17.5 (41):  Both teams need this win; one team is a lot better than the other one…

Northwestern at Purdue – 18 (44):  The Boilermakers cannot afford a loss given the state of events in the Big-10 West; Northwestern has lost 9 games in a row after winning the opening game against Nebraska in Dublin Ireland.

Georgia – 22 at Kentucky (48.5):  Maybe Kentucky was looking ahead to this game as it lost to Vandy last week?

UConn at Army – 10 (44):  It will be interesting to see if UConn can deal with the Army triple option offense…

Texas – 10 at Kansas (63.5):  Both teams lost last week; both teams are already bowl eligible; both teams are eliminated from the Big-12 Championship Game.  Hi ho…

Iowa at Minnesota – 3 (31.5):  That Total Line is not a typo; it opened the week at 33 points and has slowly eased on down the line.  If you still like the UNDER, you can still find this at 32 points at some Internet sports books.  This is a Big Game in the Big-10 West and because of the implications for the winner and loser here, this is my College Game of the Week.  I know Minnesota has won 3 in a row – – but those three opponents were Rutgers, Nebraska and Northwestern.  Iowa wins by shutting down opposing offenses and Minnesota’s offense is nothing special to begin with.  I think Iowa is the better team so getting points with the better team sounds like a good idea; I’ll take the Hawkeyes plus the points; put it in the Six-Pack.

UMass at Texas A&M – 33.5 (47.5):  I have two comments about this game and this spread:

  1. The Aggies have never scored more than 28 points in any game this season and they are 33.5-point favorites here.  What does that tell you about how the oddsmakers think of the UMass defense?
  2. I read that Jimbo Fisher’s buyout clause for this year is $85M.  If the Aggies lose to this opponent at home, I think some of the big-money-boys there will start passing the hat…

By the way, UMass is +7500 on the Money Line.

I fully expect the Aggies to break their 6-game losing streak here but there is no way I would wager even a farthing on the game…

BC at Notre Dame – 20.5 (42.5):  The Total Line opened at 46.5 points and has been dropping steadily all week.  This is another interesting spread in that Notre dame only scores 29.7 points per game.

Stanford at Cal – 4.5 (47.5):  This is a huge rivalry game…

USC – 2.5 at UCLA (76.5):  the Trojans need the win to stay on track for the PAC-12 Championship Game and it would love to win big to impress the CFP Selectors.

Utah – 2 at Oregon (60):  The other important PAC-12 game this week.  One of these teams will have a third loss for the season on Saturday night…

TCU – 2.5 at Baylor (56.5):  TCU is locked into the Big-12 Championship Game and would be in the CFP bracket if it were announced today.  They will drop out of the Top-4 with a loss here and will probably not get back in between now and the announcement of the 4 teams in the CFP field.  Big game for the Horned Frogs…

Ole Miss – 2.5 at Arkansas (64):  The Total Line here opened at 59 points and has been monotonically increasing as the week went on.  The Razorbacks need a win to get to bowl eligibility.  Ole Miss is already bowl-eligible and is looking to get a quality invitation – – not a pre-Christmas game.  Ole Miss can and will run the football here because Arkansas’ run defense gives up 146.3 yards per game (ranked 65th in the country).  I like Ole Miss to win and cover even on the road; put it in the Six-Pack.

Oklahoma St. at Oklahoma – 7.5 (66):  They call this rivalry game, “Bedlam”.  The Cowboys can still maneuver themselves into the Big-12 Championship Game, but a loss here will likely doom those chances.  The Sooners have not been impressive at all this year; that hook on top of a full TD is enticing; I’ll take the Cowboys with the points; put it in the Six-Pack.

 

NFL Commentary:

 

D.C. Attorney General, Karl Racine, filed a lawsuit against the NFL, the Washington Commanders, Daniel Snyder and Roger Goodell alleging they colluded to deceive residents and fans about an NFL probe into the team’s toxic workplace culture and claims of sexual misconduct.  While I hope this matter proceeds because it will shed light on all the findings in the toxic workplace investigation and possibly on those hundreds of thousands of emails involving former team President, Bruce Allen, I have to say that it is a bit of stretch for me to see this as a violation of a consumer protection law.  But good luck to AG, Racine here; nothing ventured; nothing gained – – or lost.

I want to comment on two specific teams here this week.  I’ll start with a team that is surprisingly good this year and looks as if it is playoff bound; I speak of the NY Giants.  The Giants are 7-2 with a point differential of only 14 points.  Their wins have not been artistic in any sense, but their record has them in second place in the NFC East one game behind the Eagles and one game ahead of the Cowboys.  It looks as if 10 wins will assure an NFC team of a playoff slot and all the Giants need to do is to win 3 of their final 8 games to get to 10 wins.

Here is their remaining schedule:

  • Vs. Lions (this week)
  • At Cowboys (Thanksgiving)
  • Vs Commanders
  • Vs. Eagles
  • At Commanders
  • At Vikes
  • Vs Colts
  • At Eagles

I do not have a problem seeing 3 wins on that menu unless a large number of debilitating injuries afflict the Giants.

The other team I want to look at is having a surprisingly bad season; they are not mathematically eliminated from the playoffs just yet but if those playoff chances were in human form, they would be in an ICU somewhere.  I speak of the Las Vegas Raiders.  Just as the Giants find ways to win close games despite a minuscule point differential, the Raiders never seem to win close games.  The Raiders are 2-7 in 2022 and their point differential is only minus-23 points.  But look at this another way and focus on the last 3 games for the Raiders:

  • They were shut out by the Saints
  • Then they lost to the Jags after leading by 17 points in the game
  • Last week they lost to the Colts in Jeff Saturday’s first game ever as a head coach.

That is not a good trend line by any definition of “good” …

The Raiders made the playoffs in 2021 and added two players that appeared to be quality additions in Chandler Jones and Davante Adams.  I did not think that was sufficient for the Raiders to overtake the Chiefs in the AFC West, but I thought they would be right in the middle of the wild card chase – – and they are not.  Chandler Jones has been almost invisible this year; Adams has lived up to his billing, but he cannot do it alone.

The Raiders’ defense has been miserable; it has yet to hold an opponent under 20 points for a game.  There are rumors of wholesale changes coming to the Raiders’ roster come the offseason including perhaps trading/releasing Derek Carr.  Mark Davis has said that first year head coach Josh McDaniels will be back next year; the jury is still out on McDaniels’ capabilities as an NFL head coach notwithstanding his successes as an offensive coordinator.  In this job plus his previous time as the head coach in Denver, McDaniels‘record is a less-than-stellar 13-24.

I want to throw something out there for cogitation:

  • Perhaps it is going to take a cadre of players who are super-dedicated to their craft and their performance to survive in Las Vegas where there are outside activities/distractions that are significantly greater than in most other NFL cities.

The temptations present in “Sin City” may be one part of the deteriorated state of the Raiders in 2022.  Just a thought…  As Mae West said about temptations:

“When choosing between two evils, I always like to try the one I haven’t tried before.”

Bucs 21  Seahawks 16:  The Bucs improve their record to 5-5 and lead the feeble NFC South by a full game.  That win snapped the Seahawks 4-game win streak and puts the Seahawks in a virtual tie with the Niners in the NFC West – – both teams have 4 losses.  The Seahawks preferred way to play is to run the football and control the clock.  That didn’t work:

  • Bucs Time of Possession = 36:55   Seahawks Time of Possession = 23:05
  • Seahawks Rushing Offense = 39 yards on 22 attempts

Another big difference here was the Bucs converting on 10 of 15 third down tries while the Seahawks were 1 for 9 in those situations.  And yet, this was a one-score game…

Tom Brady now holds another “NFL Record”; he has the most passing yards in games outside the US with 1210 yards in 4 games.  So, whose record did he break last week?  That would be – – wait for it – – Blake Bortles.

Dolphins 39  Browns 17:  Don’t look now, but the Miami Dolphins are alone in first place in the AFC East.  This was simply an old fashioned beatdown.  The Browns now have 6 losses and still have the Bills and the Bucs to play before Deshaun Watson becomes eligible to play.

Titans 17  Broncos 10:  The Broncos led 10-0 with 2 minutes to play in the first half but their offense in the second half was “unproductive” in its 6 possessions:

  • 3 plays  5 yards  PUNT
  • 6 plays  32 yards  PUNT
  • 9 plays  14 yards  PUNT
  • 5 plays  1 yard  PUNT
  • 3 plays  4 yards  PUNT
  • 10 plays  50 yards  INTERCEPTION

The Titans have a 2-game lead in the loss column over the Colts in the AFC South.

Lions 31  Bears 30:  The Chicago Bears are going through Groundhog Day – – the movie.  For the third week in a row, the Bears have scored 29 points or more – – AND they have lost all three games.  For the record, the Bears are the first team in NFL history to lose three straight games despite scoring 29 points or more in each game. In this one, the Bears dominated the stat sheet and led by 14 points at the start of the 4th quarter.  Then they let the Lions – – I said the Detroit Lions!  – – score 3 TDs in the 4th quarter and the Bears missed an extra point to assure the defeat.  The win for the Lions moves them out of the basement in the NFC North by half-a-game.  Yuck!

Giants 24  Texans 16:  Saquon Barkley was the story of this game carrying the ball 35 times for 152 yards and a TD.  The Giants are now in sole possession of second place in the NFC East.  The Texans have some good young talent, and they play hard; maybe in a year or two, they will be contenders in the AFC South…?

Chiefs 27  Jags 17:  It was just a typical day at the office for Patrick Mahomes:

  • 26 of 35 for 331 yards with 4 TDs and 1 INT

The Chiefs ran off to a 20-0 lead in the first half and never looked back.

Vikes 33  Bills 30 (OT):  This was the “early game” selected for my viewing area and it was a great choice.  There were huge momentum swings in the game; both QBs were hot and cold in the game; Stefon Diggs and Justin Jefferson both made highlight reel catches; and the game went to OT for a decision.  The loss drops the Bills a half-game behind the Dolphins in the AFC East.   The Bills played QB Josh Allen last week despite an elbow injury and that decision did not bear fruit. Allen made several mistakes in the loss, including a fumbled snap with under one minute to play that the Vikings recovered for a TD.  Allen also threw 2 INTs in the game.

Steelers 20  Saints 10:  The stat sheet says this game should have been a blowout:

  • Steelers Total Offense = 379 yards               Saints Total Offense = 186 yards
  • Steelers Time of Possession = 38:56   Saints Time of Possession = 21:04
  • Steelers Penalties = 3 for 40 yards               Saints Penalties = 10 for 74 yards
  • Steelers Third Downs = 9 of 17                        Saints Third Downs = 3 of 12

The return of TJ Watt to the lineup helps to explain the Saints offensive difficulties but with numbers like that the question is:

  • How did the Steelers only win by 10 points?

Colts 25  Raiders 20:  As if there was not enough “strangeness” surrounding the Colts over the past couple of weeks, Jeff Saturday sat Sam Ehlinger on the bench and played Matt Ryan at QB.  It was not that long ago that the owner wanted Ryan on the sidelines when Frank Reich was the coach.  That team simply needs to put “WTF” decals on their helmets for the rest of this season.  Meanwhile the Raiders fall to 2-7 losing yet another one-score game.  I said above that the Raiders’ defense has been lacking; in this game they yielded 415 yards to a Colts’ offense that has not been dominant all year long.  Do not let the Raiders’ offense off the hook here; consider the results of the Raiders’ first four possessions:

  • 3 plays  5 yards  PUNT
  • 3 plays  minus-19 yards  PUNT
  • 3 plays  4 yards  PUNT
  • 8 plays  28 yards  TURNOVER ON DOWNS

That is 17 plays for 18 yards to start the game.  Outrageous.

Cards 27  Rams 17:  It’s all but official; the Rams are not going to make the playoffs as the reigning Super Bowl Champions.  As of this morning, they are in last place in the NFC West and already have 6 losses on the books.  The Rams cannot run the ball and Cooper Kupp needs ankle surgery which severely limits the passing offense.  The Cards also have 6 losses on the season, but they appear to be a better team than the Rams at this point of the season.  Colt McCoy was the Cards’ QB in this game and John Wolford was the Rams’ QB.  Here is a stat that I ran across earlier this week:

  • The Rams have been outscored 81-17 in fourth quarters thus far in 2022.

Packers 31  Cowboys 28 (OT):  Mike McCarthy’s return to Green Bay looked promising early in the second half of last week’s game.  The Cowboys led 28-14 at the start of the 4th quarter but the Packers scored twice to force OT and then won the game in OT with a chip shot field goal.  Christian Watson – – the guy who dropped the perfectly thrown bomb on the Packers’ first play in Game 1 – – was the hero last week.  Watson caught 3 TD passes from Aaron Rodgers and had 107 yards receiving.  Dallas’ WR, Cee Dee Lamb, caught 11 passes for 150 yards and 2 TDs.  The win snaps a 5-game losing streak for the Packers; the loss drops the Cowboys into third place in the NFC East.  Here is a bit of perspective about this defeat for the Cowboys:

  • The Cowboys had never lost a game where they led by 14 points or more in the fourth quarter.
  • Prior to this game, the Cowboys’ record in games where they led by 14 points or more in the fourth quarter was 195-0.

Niners 22  Chargers 16:  The Niners outgained the Chargers by 149 yards in this game and held the ball for 36:59 in the game.  The key was the Niners’ exploitation of the Chargers’ run defense; the Niners ran the ball 41 times for 157 yards and 2 TDs.  The Niners are now a half-game behind the Seahawks in the NFC West while the Chargers are now 2 full games behind the Chiefs in the AFC West.

Panthers 25  Falcons 15:  Two mediocre teams put on a mediocre show last Thursday night.  The bright light from the stat sheet was the Panthers running game; they ran the ball 47 times for 232 yards and 2 TDs.  Other than that …

Commanders 32  Eagles 21:  The Commanders dominated time of possession with their run game.

  • Commanders Time of Possession = 40:24
  • Commanders Offensive Plays = 81                    Eagles Offensive Plays = 47

It was a total team effort for the Commanders.  The offense converted 12 third-down situations; the defense forced 4 turnovers and the special teams contributed a 58-yard field goal.

 

NFL Games This Week:

 

            Four teams are on their BYE Week this week:

  1. Bucs:  They lead the NFC South by a full game despite a mediocre 5-5 record.  This gives Tom Brady a chance to have Thanksgiving dinner with the wife and kids … scrap that.
  2. Dolphins:  They get to luxuriate for a week as the division leader in the AFC East.  Only the Chiefs have scored more points than the Dolphins to this point in the 2022 season.
  3. Jags:  The Jags get some rest and some time to try to learn how to win close games.  The Jags’ record is 3-7 and yet the point differential is +11 points.
  4. Seahawks:  They too get a week off as a division leader with a half-game lead over the Niners.

Please note that the NFL arranged for all of its three “Florida teams” to be on a BYE Week together.  Is this a test of a State’s ability to deal with withdrawal from NFL game action for a weekend?

In last night’s game, the Titans played workmanlike football in defeating the Packers 27-17.  The Packers seemed to have some momentum after last week’s OT win over the Cowboys, but any remnants of that energetic finish were well hidden in this game.  The Titans scored on the game’s opening possession and never looked back.  The Packers’ game plan was to stop Derrick Henry – – and for the most part they did just that.  The problem is that sort of defense opened the passing game for Ryan Tannehill who looked like a Hall of Fame QB in the game with this stat line:

  • 22 of 27 for 333 yards with 2 TDs and 1 INT.

Panthers at Ravens – 13.5 (41.5):  The Total Line opened at 45 and has fallen to this level pretty much coinciding with news that Baker Mayfield will be at QB for the Panthers.  The Ravens are coming off their BYE Week; this game has the potential to get UGLY.

Browns vs. Bills – 8 (42.5) [Game moved to Detroit due to weather]:  Does the neutral site really matter here?  The Bills are the better team even with Josh Allen having a “compromised” throwing arm.  I read one weather report that said Buffalo could get up to 6 feet of snow this weekend from a lake-effect storm.  However, another weather source was more optimistic calling for only 4 feet of snow over the weekend.

Eagles – 8 at Colts (45):  The Eagles’ weakness is run defense; the Colts have Jonathan Taylor healthy and ready to play.  I think the Eagles are the better team, but I am not willing to play the game with a spread that is more than a TD.

Commanders – 3 at Texans (40):  This is the second week in a row the Commanders are on the road and that is not a good thing for a young team.  However, here is the good news.  The Texans’ run defense is awful, and the Commanders showed last week that they can use their run game to control the entire game.  Assuming – – I know the danger here – – that Taylor Heinicke does not go way off script and turn the ball over multiple times. I like the Commanders to handle this game very calmly.  I’ll take the Commanders to win and cover on the road; put it in the Six-Pack.

Jets at Pats – 3 (39):  I thought about this as the Game of the Week because this game has lots of playoff implications down the road.   I see this as a game dominated by the two defenses; Zach Wilson must avoid any dumb turnovers in this game for the Jets to have a chance to win here.

Lions at Giants – 3 (46.5):  The Giants are 7-2; they are at home; they are playing the horribly inconsistent Lions whose record is 3-6.  And the Giants are only favored by a field goal?  The Lions are a feisty team, but that defense is going to be severely challenged here by Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones.  I know the Giants play close games with everyone, but I like them to win by more than a field goal here; I’ll take the home Giants to win and cover; put it in the Six-Pack.

Rams at Saints – 3 (39):  This is the Dog-Breath Game of the Week.  The combined record for these teams is 5-14; the only reason to think the Saints are relevant in 2022 is because they are in a division where the division leader is 5-5.  Matthew Stafford is supposed to be ready to go for the Rams this week; the Saints will stick with Andy Dalton.  Two teams heading to the same place – – oblivion.

Bears at Falcons – 3 (49):  The only reason I am not taking this game to go OVER is that both teams will run the ball successfully and shorten the game/minimize possessions.  The Falcons are still alive in the NFC South race despite a 4-5 record; the Bears are not a factor in the NFC North race.

Raiders at Broncos – 2.5 (41):  This game is not quite “Dog-Breath”, but it is certainly not pretty.  You have heard of the immovable object and the overwhelming force?  Well consider this situation:

  • The Broncos’ offense cannot or does not score.
  • The Raiders’ defense has yet to hold an opponent under 20 points in a game.

So, the game probably comes down to which underwhelming trend predominates here…

(Sun Nite) Chiefs at Chargers – 5 (52): The spread opened at 7 points and has shrunk by 2 points; meanwhile, the Total Line opened at 50 and has expanded by 2 points.  Go figure…  This is my Game of the Week because it has a major effect on the AFC West standings and potentially on the Playoff BYE Week situation in the AFC.  If the Chiefs win, they will have a 3-game lead on the second place Chargers with 7 games left on the schedule.  That pretty much means that the Chiefs can put a stranglehold on the AFC West division race with a win here.  The game will feature Patrick Mahomes against Justin Herbert; that alone makes this a game you want to watch on Sunday Night Football.

Cowboys – 2 at Vikes (47):  I came within a whisker of calling this one the Game of the Week.  The Vikes have won 7 games in a row; they may not have all been pretty wins, but they have been wins.  The Cowboys need a win here lest they fall significantly behind in a surprisingly tough NFC East race.  The Cowboys’ defense has had problems against the run and last week showed some vulnerability to the pass.  The Vikes have a strong runner in Dalvin Cook and a freakishly good WR in Justin Jefferson.  I like the Vikes to prevail at home so let me have the Vikes plus those two points; put it in the Six-Pack.

Bengals – 4 at Steelers (41):  TJ Watt is back on the field and that elevates a solid Steelers’ defense up to the level of strong.  The Bengals’ offense will be challenged here.  The Steelers’ issue remains their offense’s ability to score; the Steelers have scored only 140 points in 9 games (15.5 points per game); only the Broncos have scored fewer points so far in 2022.

(Mon Nite) Niners – 8 vs. Cards (43.5) [Game is in Mexico City]:  Will Kyler Murray’s hamstring allow him to play?  That is the major question hanging around this matchup in terms of the spread projected here.  I do not think it matters who the Cards play at QB regarding the winner of the game; the Niners seem to be poised to go on a run and take over the NFC West.

Let me review the Six-Pack:

  1. Oklahoma St. +7.5 against Oklahoma
  2. Iowa +3 against Minnesota
  3. Ole Miss – 2.5 over Arkansas
  4. Commanders – 3 over Texans
  5. Giants – 3 over Lions
  6. Vikes +2 against Cowboys

            And here are some Money Line Parlays for this week:

  • Bills @ minus-350
  • Chiefs @ minus-230
  • Niners @ minus-360                                     To win $136.

And …

  • Michigan St. @ minus-335
  • Liberty @ minus-340
  • James Madison @ minus-320                        To win $121

Finally, coaches often talk about their team’s focus on a common goal.  So, let me close this week’s Football Friday with Lou Holtz’ observation about a team’s common goal:

“On this team, we are all united in a common goal; to keep my job.”

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

 

 

6 thoughts on “Football Friday 11/18/22”

  1. RE coaches who have been impressive in their first year…surely Coach Mike Elko at Duke (DOOK) deserves notice…and this suggestion from a UNC Alum (’65).

  2. Obviously, very successful college coaches are always looked at to move to even better programs or to the pros. given the success of the first 2 you mentioned above… the Washington coach should be on the move next year to Baylor and 2 years later to Chicago in the NFL. The TCU coach should continue the acronym teams and go to LSU… they do have Dykes (sic) around Baton Rouge, don’t they???

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