Football Friday 9/22/23

Some phenomena repeat themselves with such regularity that we take them for granted.  The sun rises in the east and then sets in the west yesterday, today and tomorrow.  The tide comes in and then the tide goes out every six hours or so.  Around these parts, when Friday shows up on the calendar in Autumn or early Winter, it is time for Football Friday.  So let me begin with a review of last week’s “Betting Bundle”.

  • College:  0-1-0   => Season total:  2-1-0
  • NFL:  1-1-0   => Season total:  4-3-0
  • Money Line Parlays:  1-0   => Season total:  2-1   Net “Profit” = $195


College Football Commentary:


The Linfield College Wildcats came home from their visit to Redlands, CA with another win last week defeating the Redlands University Bulldogs 17-10.  This gives the Wildcats a 2-0 record in 2023 and it concludes their out-of-conference schedule for the season.  This week, Linfield hosts the Willamette Bearcats in McMinnville, OR.  Willamette brings a 1-2 record to the kickoff; they won their opening game but have struggled badly in their last two games, losing by a combined score of 87-14.  Go Wildcats!

Long term readers here will recall that I proposed a reorganized college football structure about 5 years ago that involved regionally based conferences and which incorporated the idea of promotion and relegation among levels of the game.  Obviously, that never happened; but according to a report this week at the Athletic Director at Boise State, Michael Walsh, is thinking about a reorganized structure for college football in the West that could involve promotion and relegation.

For details about his proposal and the level of thought that has gone into it – – there is a 22-slide Power-Point presentation that exists for the plan – – please follow the link above.  The idea makes some sense even though it has a thousand obstacles that could render it moot.  It could easily suffer from being nibbled to death by ducks.  But I think the important thing here is that someone in the “college football business” and someone who holds a position of some authority and prestige has spent time and effort thinking about a plan for implementation here.

Necessity is the mother of invention (Hat tip to Plato here).  The expansion of the Big-10 and the Big-12 Conferences that have caused the PAC-12 to shrink down to the PAC-2 in the near future have made it important to rethink college football in the Western US where the PAC-12 used to rule, and the Mountain West was the “other kid on the block”.  Walsh’s proposal is a structure for football only for teams in the Pacific and Mountain Time Zones.  I do not think I can summarize the proposal fairly here; so, I urge those that think this might be an interesting thing to add to the college football mix to go and read this report.

There were not a lot of “important games” on the schedule for last week but I think one deserves mention here.  Alabama was coming off a loss at home to Texas by double-digits and was facing a USF team that has not beaten a Division 1-A team since October 2021.  Alabama was a 34.5-point favorite in the game, and it won by a score of only 17-3.  Jalen Milroe was the QB against Texas; he was benched in favor of Tyler Buchner and Ty Simpson.  Those two replacements combined to generate 107 yards passing on 23 pass attempts. In fact, Alabama only outgained USF by 46 yards on offense for the game.  I said last week after the loss to Texas that I would not be surprised if Alabama lost again in 2023; looking at this result, there are a handful of games where Alabama could struggle and possibly lose.

Last week, I pointed out that the SEC might not have the depth of good teams that it has had for the past several years.  Well, that same situation could easily obtain in the Big-12.  Check out these happenings from last week:

  • Baylor played Division 1-AA LIU and did not put the game away until the 4th quarter.
  • Cincy lost outright to Miami (OH) – – a MAC team.
  • Iowa State lost outright to Ohio – – another MAC team.
  • K-State was ranked #15 and lost to Missouri.
  • Texas beat Wyoming – – but the score was tied at the start of the 4th quarter.

None of those showings were laudatory to be sure, but possibly the most embarrassing performance by a Big-12 team last week was turned in by Oklahoma State.  The Cowboys were at home playing South Alabama from the mighty Sun Belt Conference.  Oklahoma State was pushed around at home in the game losing 33-7 and giving up 243 yards rushing for the day.  The South Alabama defense held Oklahoma State’s passing attack to 3.3 yards per pass attempt.  Wow!

I know it is early in the season and we are only looking at a small sample size and yada-yada; but at the end of the season, I will point out the team that earned the Brothel Defense of the Year Award given to the team that gives up the most points per game for the season.  Brothel Defense … everyone scores there … get it?  Well after 3 games the team in the lead for this “distinction” is the Mean Green from North Texas; they are giving up 47.0 points per game and have yet to hold an opponent under 35 points.

Looking at some of the games from last week:

Washington 41  Michigan St. 7:  Do not sleep on Washington; their defense in 2023 looks to be almost as good as their offense.  The Michigan State score came in the 4th quarter with Washington leading 41-0; it was a meaningless TD.  The domination of the Huskies in this game is shown here:

  • Washington total offense = 713 yards
  • Michigan St. total offense = 261 yards

And …

  • Washington pass offense = 31 of 39 for 536 yards with 4 TDs and 1 INT
  • Michigan St. pass offense = 14 of 35 for 208 yards with 0 TDs and 1 INT

Fla St 31  BC 29:  BC scored 13 points in the 4th quarter to make this a nail-biter and they outgained Fla St by 117 yards on offense.  BC committed 18 penalties in the game (for a total of 131 yards) giving the Seminoles 4 first downs via charity.  While BC scored TDs on 2 of its final 3 possessions in the game, Fla State punted 3 times and lost a fumble on a fourth possession in the second half.  The Seminoles did not look like a Top-Five team this week.

Wake Forest 27  Old Dominion 24:  ODU led 17-0 at halftime and 24-7 with 7 minutes left in the 3rd Quarter.  After that, here were the ODU possessions:

  • 3 plays and a PUNT’
  • 4 plays and a PUNT
  • 5 plays and a FUMBLE
  • 3 plays and a PUNT
  • 4 plays and a TURNOVER ON DOWNS

Wake outgained ODU by 108 yards for the day.  Three turnovers including two that were defensive TDs made this a close game.

Penn State 30  Illinois 13:  The Nittany Lions only outgained the Illini by 29 yards in this game.  In fact, Illinois had one more first down in the game compared to Penn State.    The difference was in the turnovers; Illinois turned it over 5 times (4 INTs and a lost fumble) and Penn State did not turn the ball over at all.

Ohio 10  Iowa St. 7:  I mentioned this game in passing above; it was a horrid loss for the Cyclones to a MAC team.  The Cyclones only managed to develop 271 yards total offense in the game – – but that was 24 yards more than Ohio generated.  Two turnovers by Iowa St and 5 big penalties earned them this embarrassing loss.

Miami (OH) 31  Cincy 24  (OT):  I also mentioned this game in passing above.  It is not a good look for a “Big-12 team” to go to overtime – – let alone lose a football game – – to a “MAC-team”.  Cincy dominated the stat sheet outgaining Miami by 180 yards for the game.  The Bearcats ran 91 plays to only 49 plays for Miami.  Ten penalties and 2 turnovers did Cincy in here.

Missouri 30  K-State 27:  The difference was a 61-yard field goal by the Tigers with no time left in the game.  It happens to be the longest field goal in the history of all SEC teams.  K-State was ranked #15 in the country coming into this game.  Yes, this was a loss for a well-regarded Big-12 team, but Mizzou is an SEC team not a MAC team!

Texas 31  Wyoming 10:  The score was tied 10-10 as the fourth quarter started.  Two offensive TDs and a Pick-6 by Texas in the 4th quarter made the game seem much less competitive than it was.

Georgia 24  S. Carolina 14:  Georgia trailed 14 – 3 at halftime but the Georgia defense asserted itself in the second half pitching a shutout; here were the Gamecocks’ possessions in the second half:

  • 3 plays – – PUNT
  • 6 plays – – PUNT
  • 3 plays – – PUNT
  • 6 plays – – TURNOVER ON DOWNS
  • 9 plays – – INT
  • 5 plays – – INT

Iowa 41  W. Michigan 10:  The offense came alive against what must be a less-than-wonderful defense.  The Hawkeyes are currently averaging 28.3 points per game; Iowa Offensive coordinator, Brian Ferentz, and his job are “safe” – – for the moment…

Florida 29  Tennessee 16:  The Vols were a fashionable pick to challenge Georgia for SEC supremacy this year.  That’s not gonna happen now …  This was a dominating win by Florida; the Gators opened the game with a drive that resulted in a blocked field goal but that did not deter the Gators’ offense.  After that setback, they scored TDs on their next 4 possessions in the first half.

Utah 31  Weber St. 10:  Utah stays undefeated with this comfortable win.  The Utes’ defense was overwhelming here allowing only 127 yards of offense by Weber St. for the day.  That figure is even more shocking when you realize that Weber St. had one running play that went for 47 yards; so, the rest of the day only produced 80 yards of offense.

UNC 31  Minnesota 13:  Drake Maye produced this stat line for the Tar Heels:

  • 29 of 40 for 414 yards with 2 TDs and 2 INTs

Nate McCollum caught 15 of those passes for 165 yards and 1 TD.  Minnesota’s total offense for the game was only 303 yards.

Colorado 43  Colorado St. 35 (2OT):  Colorado St. outgained the Buffaloes for the day 499 yards to 418 yards.  Once again, the Colorado running game was anemic, gaining only 70 yards on 25 rushes.  Colorado was a 23.5-point favorite in the game.  The game was a flag-fest.  Officials enforced 27 penalties in the game and 17 were against Colorado State for a total of 177 yards.  YOWZA!

Arkansas St. 31  Stoney Brook 7:  Yes, Arkansas St. won a game – – but Stoney Brook is a winless Division 1-AA team that has yet to come within 3 TDs of an opponent.  I still think Arkansas St. is a bad football team for 2023 …

Sacramento St. 30  Stanford 23:  Losing to a Division 1-AA is not a good way to lead into a team’s PAC-12 schedule…   Stanford faces conference opponents from here on out until November 25th when they play another out-of-conference game – – against Notre Dame.


College Football Games of interest:


This week James Madison is visiting Utah State and Appalachian State is off to play Wyoming.  How did those games get scheduled? 

Miami – 23.5 at Temple (47.5):  The oddsmaker is showing respect to the Temple defense with that Total Line.  The Hurricanes have scored 134 points in 3 games (44.6 points per game), and he has the Total Line at 47.5 points.

New Mexico at UMass – 3.5 (51):  UMass is favored in the game.  How bad must New Mexico be?

Florida State – 1 at Clemson (55):  The spread started the week as a “pick ‘em game” but the like has moved in Florida State’s direction.  This is the College Game of the Week.  The Seminoles eked out a win over BC last week (see above); perhaps they were looking ahead to this clash?  This game has division and conference title implications along with possible invitations to the CFP.  I like Florida State this year; I don’t know if they are “national championship material” but I think they are very good.  Give me Florida State to win and cover on the road; put that in the “Betting Bundle.”

Rutgers at Michigan – 24 (44):  Rutgers is 3-0 so far in 2023 with wins over Northwestern, Temple and Va Tech.  I doubt that is a springboard to a victory over a Michigan team that has only allowed 5.3 points per game so far this year.

Oklahoma State at Iowa State – 3 (36):  Both teams wet the bed last week (see above).

Arizona – 13 at Stanford (61):  I think Stanford is pretty bad but there is no way I would trust Arizona enough to lay 13 points unless the opponent was the children who sing the Kars 4 Kids song on TV.

Oregon State – 3 at Washington State (58):  Next year, this game could be for the championship of the PAC-2.  Do not sleep on either of these teams; they can be a tough opponent on any given weekend.

Maryland – 7.5 at Michigan State (53):  The Michigan State program is in disarray now; losing at home to the likes of Maryland will not make the big-money folks involved with Sparty happy at all.

Ole Miss at Alabama – 7.5 (55.5):  I think this is a “down year” for Alabama meaning they will only be in the Top 25 in the country as opposed to the Top 5.  And I think that line is fat because lots of people still think this is a powerhouse Alabama squad.  I like Ole Miss plus the points here – – particularly the hook on top of the full TD – – so put that in the “Betting Bundle”.

Auburn at Texas A&M – 9 (51):  Huge Freeze at Auburn and Bobby Petrino at Texas A&M are both up-tempo offensive coaches.  Auburn averages 34.3 points per game so far this year and the Aggies average 44 points per game.  Granted, each squad will face a better defense here than they have seen to date but still …  I like this game to go OVER; put that in the “Betting Bundle”.

Ohio State – 3 at Notre Dame (55):  This was my runner-up College Game of the Week; if the teams were in the same conference, it would have earned that title.  If Ohio State gets solid production from its QB in the game, they will beat the Irish – – but that has not been any sort of comfort zone for the Buckeyes so far this season.  Just watch this one and enjoy the game.

Penn State – 15 at Iowa (39):  The attraction in this game is how many points Iowa scores and what that might that do to Brian Ferentz’ contract come December.

Colorado at Oregon – 21 (70):  The spread opened at 16.5 points and has ballooned to this level over the course of the week.  Meanwhile, the Total Line opened at 73 and has inched down to this level.  I like the game to go OVER – – maybe way over; put that in the “Betting Bundle”.


NFL Commentary:


Last Monday, I got an email from a former colleague asking me which NFL head coach would be the first one to be fired this year.  His nominee for that “honor” was Matt Eberflus of the Bears and his projected date was October 23rd.  The Chicago Bears are indeed a hot mess; they had the worst record in the NFL last year at 3-14 losing their last 10 games in a row; they chose to trade away the overall #1 pick and stick with Justin Fields as their developing QB-of-the-Future.  That decision does not look good in the short term; to date in 2023, Justin Fields has not shown significant progress in terms of passing accuracy or passing decision making.

But wait; there’s more …  The Bears’ defense is not about to come to the team’s rescue.  Last year, the Bears’ defense gave up 463 points (27.2 per game) – – the most in the NFL.  After two weeks in the current season, the Bears’ defense has allowed 65 points in 2 games – – not good at all.  And to make sure things on the defensive side of the ball continue according to some sort of plan, the Bears’ defensive coordinator just resigned today – – to focus on his health and his family.

The Bears go to KC this week to play the Chiefs and the Bears are 13-point underdogs in the game.  With a loss there, the 2023 record will sink to 0-3 and the losing streak will extend to 13 games in a row.  Matt Eberflus may indeed not make it until November as the head coach of the Bears.

I would suggest that there is another head coach who needs to be walking on eggs these days.  Brandon Staley’s time with the LA Chargers has been disappointing to say the least and in a way it is mysterious.  Staley is a “defensive guy”; the Chargers have a better than average offense; so, one should expect the team to be successful.  Not so, last year the team made the playoffs and led the Jags by 27 points late in the first half of the game only to lose the game and be eliminated from the playoffs.  That defensive lapse seems to have carried over to this year.  The Chargers are winless in 2023 even though they have scored 58 points in those two games and the Chargers have yet to turn the ball over this year.

The Bears are not as good a team as the Chargers so that might put Eberflus ahead of Staley in this race to the bottom – – except that the Chargers were a playoff team last year and lots of folks thought they would be one again this year; so, expectations for the Chargers were higher than those for the Bears.  Stay tuned …

I mentioned that the Bears’ defensive coordinator resigned this week; he has not done a great job in his tenure with the Bears.  There is another coordinator in the league that should be on a short leash.  Matt Canada is the offensive coordinator for the Steelers and – not to put too fine a point on it – – the Steelers’ offense stinks.  Canada has been the OC in Pittsburgh since January 2021, and the team has had to live and die with its defense for that entire time because the Steelers’ offense has been mediocre at best under Canada.

There is also some reason to be concerned for the well-being of Colts’ rookie QB, Anthony Richardson.  He is an exciting player and a great athlete; he is not only large for a QB, he is large for a linebacker; and he plays QB sort of the way one normally plays linebacker.  And that has not worked well in the first two weeks of the season:

  • Week 1:  Richardson had to leave the game with a knee injury that was described as not extremely serious, and that Richardson could have finished the game had it been close and had it been a playoff game.
  • Week 2:  Richardson had to leave the game early in the first half with a concussion.  He did not return to the game.

Richardson has plenty of tools in his toolkit to make it as a QB in the NFL – – so long as he can keep his large and athletic body from breaking down.  Richardson’s style of play might be the biggest hurdle for him to overcome as his NFL career develops.

In last week’s games …

Ravens 27  Bengals 24:  The Bengals began the 2022 season at 0-2 and managed to make it to the AFC Conference Championship Game.  They have started 2023 with the same record … only this time both losses have been to division opponents.   This game was not nearly as close on the stat sheet as it was on the scoreboard.  The Ravens outgained the Bengals 415 yards to 282 yards.  The big difference was on the ground:

  • Ravens gained 178 yards rushing.
  • Bengals gained 66 yards rushing.

Joe Burrow was limping noticeably in the 4th quarter of the game; he had a calf injury that kept him out of action for most of training camp.  The Bengals without a “fully functional Joe Burrow” are unlikely to climb out of their 0-2 hole as effectively as they did last year.

Colts 31  Texans 20:  The Texans held the ball for 35 minutes in the game, had 5 more first downs than the Colts, converted 9 of 19 times on 3rd down and 2 of 2 tries on 4th down, committed fewer penalties than the Colts, only turned the ball over once and lost the game by 11 points.  That is not easy to do.  As mentioned above, the bad news for the Colts is that Anthony Richardson had to leave the game under the concussion protocol in the second quarter and did not return to action.

Bucs 27  Bears 17:   Baker Mayfield had another good day throwing for over 300 yards and a TD and did not turn the ball over.  Justin Fields turned in another marginal performance throwing for 211 yards but also throwing 2 INTs – – one of which was a Pick-Six.  Here is another game that was closer on the scoreboard than on the stat sheet:

  • Bucs Total Offense = 437 yards
  • Bears Total Offense = 236 yards

The Bears offensive line did not protect Fields well — he got sacked six times — and even when he did have time to throw, he struggled to find any open receivers. The Bears might be the worst team in football.   On Christmas Eve the NFL will give us as a Christmas present the Arizona Cardinals at the Chicago Bears and that game may provide the answer to that question.

Chiefs 17  Jags 9:  The Chiefs amassed 399 yards on offense but put only 17 points on the scoreboard.  Twelve penalties on the Chiefs did not help their cause even a little bit.  The Chiefs led 14 -6 at the start of the 4th quarter; in that quarter the Jags had 1st and goal at the Chiefs’ 1-yardline.  All the Jags got out of that red zone possession was a field goal; that was the turning point of the game.

Falcons 25  Packers 24:   The Packers led 24-12 as the fourth quarter began but the Falcons put together three drives that resulted in a TD and then two field goals to win the game.  Meanwhile in the fourth quarter, here is what the Packers’ offense accomplished:

  • 3 plays – – 2 yards – – PUNT
  • 3 plays – – 5 yards – – PUNT
  • 4 plays – – 0 yards – – TURNOVER ON DOWNS

As Porky Pig would say, “That’s all, Folks!”

Titans 27  Chargers 24 (OT):  The Titans failed to find the end zone in Week 1, but they found it 3 times against the Chargers’ defense.  The Titans held the ball for 36-and-a-half minutes in the game thanks to a rushing attack that provided 141 yards on 34 rushing attempts.  Ryan Tannehill was awful in Week 1 throwing 3 INTs against the Saints.  In this game against the Chargers’ defense, he was 20 of 24.

Bills 38  Raiders 10:  The stat sheet was as lopsided as the score in this one.  The Raiders were shut out in the second half of the game and were outgained 450 yards to 240 yards.  The Raiders only had the ball 3 times in the second half with these results:

  • 4 plays – – 23 yards – – INT
  • 4 plays – – 17 yards – – PUNT
  • 5 plays – – 60 yards – – LOST FUMBLE

The Raiders’ defense was rarely able to pressure Josh Allen, who picked apart the secondary for three touchdowns.  Allen rebounded from his poor showing against the Jets in Week 1 posting this stat line against the Raiders’ defense:

  • 31 of 37 for 274 yards with 3 TDs and 0 INTs

Meanwhile, on the other sideline, the Raiders’ Josh Jacobs – – who led the NFL in rushing last year – – was limited to minus-2 yards on 9 carries.

Seahawks 37  Lions 31 (OT):  The Lions erased a 10-point deficit in the 4th quarter to force OT, but the Seahawks took the OT kickoff and marched down the field until Geno Smith hit Tyler Lockett in the end zone for the winning score.  The game was as even on the stat sheet as it was on the field.

Giants 31  Cards 28:  Last week’s Dog-Breath Game of the Week lived up – – or down – – to its label.  The Cards led 20-0 at the half.  That meant the Giants spent the first 6 quarters of the 2023 season with a composite score of:

  • Opponents  60
  • Giants  0

Then the Cards showed why folks think they are the worst team in the league for 2023.  They still led 28-14 at the start of the 4th quarter only to see the Giants score 17 unanswered points and win the game at the end.  Here are the Cards possessions in the 4th quarter with the game on the line:

  • 3 plays – – minus-1 yard – – PUNT
  • 3 plays – – minus-1 yard – – PUNT
  • 3 plays – – 19 yards – – END OF GAME

The silver lining here is that the Cardinals have played two competitive games through two weeks — they even led both games in the fourth quarter — but unfortunately for Arizona, there is no separate column in the standings for moral victories or “Games that the team played well in for a while…”

Niners 30  Rams 23:  The Rams held a slight advantage on the stat sheet in this game but 2 INTs in the second half by the Niners doomed the Rams.  The Rams’ rookie WR, Puka Nacua drafted in the fifth round this year out of BYU caught 15 passes for 147 yards in the game.  Remember his name; he has 25 pass receptions in his first two NFL games.  The Niners have what appear to be two “easy games” on the schedule next hosting both the Giants and then the Cards.  Then on October 8, the Niners go on the road to play the Cowboys in what should be a big game.

Cowboys 30  Jets 10:  Here is the good news for the Jets:

  • Zach Wilson threw a TD pass and rushed for 36 yards in the game.

Here is the rest of the news for the Jets:

  • Zach Wilson was 12 of 27 for 170 yards with 3 INTs

The Jets’ defense is very good, but it had to be on the field for more than 42 minutes in this game and that is no way to win a football game.

  • Serious Question:  I know it is a small sample size, but is it possible that the Jets need to bench Zach Wilson and get another QB in there if they want a real shot at the playoffs?

Commanders 35  Broncos 33:  I said in my pre-season predictions that Commanders’ QB. Sam Howell looked like an NFL-caliber QB to me.  Well, he played his third game in the league last week and posted this stat line against a good-but-not great Broncos’ defense:

  • 27 of 39 for 299 yards with 2 TDs and 0 INTs

The Broncos are 0-2 on the season with both losses coming at home – – not a good start for coach Sean Payton who you may recall went out of his way to criticize last year’s Broncos’ coach, Nathaniel Hackett.  The Broncos travel to Miami next week which should not be an easy game for them.  Meanwhile, the Commanders started the year 2-0 and have played solidly in both games.  The NFC East could be very interesting this year…

Dolphins 24  Pats 17:  This game never felt as if it was this close; it seemed as if the Dolphins were in charge from start to finish.  The Pats have opened the 2023 season at 0-2 with both losses in Foxboro; that is not something the Pats’ fans are used to by any stretch of the imagination.  College teammates, Tua Tagovailoa and Mac Jones, posted similar stat lines:

  • Tua:  21 of 30 for 239 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT
  • Mac:  31 of 42 for 231 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT

Dolphins’ RB, Raheem Mostert ran for 121 yards on 18 carries and 2 TDs in the game.

Saints 20  Panthers 17:  The Saints’ defense won this game; they harassed and confused rookie QB Bryce Young all night long.  Then again, Young’s pass catchers did not do him many favors; he did not have a ton of easy open throws to WRs who had separation on their routes.  The Saints, Falcons and Bucs are all 2-0 in the NFC South as of today.

Steelers 26  Browns 22:  Here is another game won by the defense.  The Steelers got two defensive TDs in the game – – a Pick-Six that bounced off two players’ hands before being picked and returned and a Scoop-and-Score after a strip sack of Deshaun Watson.  The Steelers’ offense was anemic once again – – particularly in the first half.  Recall in Week 1, the Steelers opened with 5 straight “three-and-out” possessions.  Here is how they started last week’s game:

  • 3 plays – – 7 yards – – INT
  • 3 plays – – 7 yards – – PUNT
  • 1 play – – minus-5 yards – – LOST FUMBLE
  • 6 plays – – 35 yards – – PUNT

The Browns won the stat battle posting 408 yards on offense compared to only 255 for the Steelers.  However, 4 turnovers by the Browns negated that advantage.

The Steelers ran eight plays and lost seven yards during the final 15 minutes of the game while their defense saved the day by forcing and recovering a pair of fumbles, including the one that T.J. Watt returned for the game-winning score.

Deshaun Watson was called for 2 facemask penalties in the game.  I have to think that is the first time a QB has had two such penalties in one game.  In fact, I am trying to recall the last time I saw a QB get called for one facemask penalty…

Here is another oddball occurrence from this game:

  • The Steelers never snapped the ball inside the Red Zone – – and they still won the game.  That does not happen often…

Nick Chubb suffered a season-ending knee injury to the same knee that he blew out while in college.  Chubb is an excellent RB who is fun to watch.  I am hoping he can come back from this injury as he did from the one he suffered while at Georgia.

In last night’s game …

Niners 30  Giants 12:  The Niners lead 17-6 at half – – but it wasn’t that close.  The Niners were 8 of 10 on 3rd down conversions in the first half leading to a huge advantage in time of possession.  There was no miraculous comeback for the Giants this week; they were outmanned and dominated in the second half.  Here are a couple of stats to show how lopsided the game actually was:

  • Niners Offense = 441 yards
  • Giants Offense = 150 yards

And …

  • Niners total plays = 78
  • Giants total plays = 46

And …

  • Niners yards per pass attempt = 7.7 yards
  • Giants yards per pass attempt = 3.5 yards


This Week’s Games:



There are lots of mediocre games on the card for this week.  There aren’t any top shelf games that constitute “must see TV” and there are no games for which you should avert your eyes at all costs.  I am finding it difficult to generate any wagering excitement over this card. 

Chargers at Vikes “Pick ‘em” (54):  Here you have a pair of teams that went to the playoffs last year and who have lost both of their first two games in 2023.  The Vikes have a small advantage in that they have had 10 days off since their last game on Thursday night.  Neither team has a reliable defense; both teams have good offenses.  If I were going to play this game – – and I am not – – I would take the game to go OVER.  I will label this game as the Dog-Breath Game of the Week simply because both teams are winless.

Titans at Browns – 3 (40):  The Titans are 1-1 but have not been either impressive or depressing.  The Browns are 1-1 and have looked disappointing given the anticipation surrounding the team over the summer.  Deshaun Watson has not looked as if he was worth 3 first round picks; Ryan Tannehill has been known to show up small in big moments – such as in Week 1 when the Titans managed 5 field goals and zero TDs.  The loss of Nick Chubb is huge and puts even more pressure on Deshaun Watson.  No thank you …

Texans at Jags – 10 (44.5):  The spread for this game opened the week at 7.5 points and you can still find it at 9 points at one sportsbook this morning.  The Texans have played well against the Jags recently even if they have not played well against many other teams.  Nevertheless, I think the Texans are severely over-matched here.  I hate double-digit spreads in NFL games and am more than happy to avoid this one.

Pats – 2.5 at Jets (36):  The Pats have won 14 consecutive games against the Jets; is that a motivating factor for either of these two teams?  Both defenses are better than average and both offenses are less than average.  First team to 20 points wins the game?

Saints at Packers – 1 (42.5):  The Saints are 2-0 to start the season; the Lions should be 2-0 because they lost an OT game last week that they should have won at home.  This should be a defensive game; so, maybe it is an interesting UNDER play?  Not interesting enough…

Broncos at Dolphins – 7 (48):  The Broncos lost the first two games of the season at home; this is a long trip to play an undefeated team that leads its division for now.  This is either a wake-up call for the Broncos or it is the start of a great unraveling.  It is an interesting game to watch simply for that reason.

Bills – 6 at Commanders (43):  The Commanders are 2-0 and have played well in both games.  The Bills stunk out the joint in Week 1 turning the ball over 4 times against the Jets and then the Bills looked unstoppable racking up 38 points against the Raiders.  The temptation here is to take the Commanders on the Money Line at +235.

Falcons at Lions – 3 (46).  The spread for this game opened at 6 points and has been eroding as the week wore on.  I have no strong feeling about the game other than to say that both teams are well coached.  If I thought about playing this game, I would take it to go OVER – – but I’ll pass.

Colts at Ravens – 9.5 (44):  Is Anthony Richardson cleared from the concussion protocol?  Has he had sufficient practice time this week to get ready for an aggressive – and competent – defense?  The Ravens have only given up 33 points in 2 games; that defense has been front and center in giving the Ravens the early lead in the AFC North.  Too many unknowns here…

Panthers at Seahawks – 7 (42.5):  Bryce Young and the Panthers’ offense have looked pedestrian so far this year – – and that’s being polite.  Now, they get to traverse 3 time zones to take on a team that can establish itself as a factor in the NFC playoff picture so long as it wins games it should win.  And this is a game the Seahawks should win.  But I don’t like that spread even a little bit.

Cowboys – 13 at Cards (43):  This line opened the week at 10.5 points and has risen all week even with news that Cowboys’ CB, Trevon Diggs tore his ACL and is out for the year.  I smell a blowout here; Josh Dobbs versus the Cowboys’ defense – – even minus Trevon Diggs – – looks to be a mismatch.  But I am not touching 13 points in the game…

Bears at Chiefs – 13 (48):  The spread opened the week at 11.5 points and has inched up to this level as of this morning.  Once again, I smell a blowout here, but I am not touching 13 points for the game.  The Chiefs’ offense so far this season has not looked nearly as efficient as it has in recent years, but this is a Bears’ defense that should have difficulty stopping the Chiefs from doing what they want to do.

(Sun Nite) Steelers at Raiders – 2.5 (43):  This spread opened as a “Pick ‘em game”.  Why the emphatic movement to the Raiders is a mystery to me.  The key to this game is the Raiders’ defense against what has seemed to be an anemic offense from the Steelers for the last year or so.  That Raiders’ defensive unit was a no-show last week.

(Mon Nite early) Eagles – 5 at Bucs (46):  Here we have two undefeated teams for 2023; in fact, here is the only game with that distinction this week.  Therefore, I call this the Game of the Week on that flimsy premise.  The Bucs are 2-0 and lots of folks are surprised to see that – – me included.  The Eagles are 2-0 surprising only a few folks; the Eagles’ “surprise” for 2023 has been their mediocrity.  Yes, they won two games; and yes, they looked unimpressive in both.

(Mon Nite late) Rams at Bengals – 3 (44):  The spread here opened the week at 7 points.  Clearly, the ability of Joe Burrow to play at all in the game – – let alone at something approaching his high level of play – – will not be known until sometime on Monday.  If he is scratched or if he is limping sometime in the first half, the Rams ought to win the game.  If not …

So, let me review this week’s “Betting Bundle”:

  • Florida State – 1 over Clemson
  • Ole Miss +7.5 against Alabama
  • Auburn/Texas A&M OVER 51
  • Colorado/Oregon OVER 70

And just for fun two Money Line Parlays:

  • New Mexico @ +155 (against UMass)
  • Arizona @ -400 (against Stanford)
  • $100 wager to win $219.

And …

  • Dolphins @ minus-275
  • Seahawks @ minus-275
  • Jags @ minus-385
  • $100 wager to win $134.

Finally, I’ll close with these words from former Michigan State head coach, Duffy Daugherty:

“Football is not a contact sport; it is a collision sport.  Dancing is a contact sport.”

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



One thought on “Football Friday 9/22/23”

  1. Nate McCollum transferred to UNC because he was uncertain about the Ga Tech QB situation. He will be fine with the Tarheels, but Haynes King is the #1 QB in the ACC. His replacement is freshman Eric Singleton who looks like an emerging star at WR.

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