Go West, James Harden …

Big news from last night; the Sixers found a way to rid themselves of that thorn they had under their fingernail – – James Harden.  Daryl Morey – – Sixers’ GM – – may or may not be a man of his word when you hear Harden tell the tale, but he got “value received” in the swap PLUS he added to the team harmony by moving Harden three time zones to the west.  If you have not read about the intricacies of this deal, here is how ESPN.com explained it:

“The 76ers traded Harden, P.J. Tucker and Filip Petrusev to the Clippers for Marcus Morris, Robert Covington, Nic Batum, KJ Martin, a 2028 unprotected first-round pick, two second-round picks, a 2029 pick swap and an additional first-round pick that will be routed from a third team, sources told ESPN.”

Got that?  I don’t know if the Sixers “won the trade” because Harden – when he is in the mood to play his best game – is far and away the best player involved here.  And the Sixers will also have to be without the services of PJ Tucker as a result of the trade and Tucker is a “for real” NBA player.  Having said all that, this trade might be all that is needed to name Daryl Morey as the NBA Executive of the Year.

Harden was not going to be a constructive member of the Sixers; he was in “get me outta here mode”, which is a role he has perfected having used it to exit Houston and Brooklyn in recent years.  When the Nets unloaded Harden – – to the Sixers – – all the Nets got in return was the headcase known as Ben Simmons who has added precious little to the Nets fortunes.  In this deal, Morey has actually acquired some NBA assets.  None will surpass a happy James Harden, but Marcus Morris and Robert Covington will play hard and play well every night for the Sixers and that haul of draft picks has trade value should Morey choose to use it that way.

The Clippers got a third “Top-Shelf Player” in Harden to go with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George; that makes for a potent offensive trio, but Harden adds nothing in terms of defense either individually or as a team.  Leonard is still a quality defender and George is better than average, but the Clippers might be vulnerable in terms of 3-point defense on the wings.

For the Clippers, this trade puts them squarely in “Win Now Mode”.

  • James Harden is 34 years old.
  • Paul George is 33 years old.
  • Kawhi Leonard is 32 years old.

And do not forget that the Clippers also have Russell Westbrook on the roster which might be extremely interesting to watch.  Westbrook is another offensive asset; there is no denying that.  Westbrook and Harden used to be teammates and then they weren’t.  The two of them did not pair well on the court and by some reporting, the same situation obtained in the locker room.  This story is far from over.

Switching gears …  Yesterday, I said that I assumed things were percolating in the background to finalize the move of the Oakland A’s to Las Vegas.  Then, I got a note from a reader who lives in Arizona telling me there is a potential roadblock for the deal which I was totally unaware of.  Here is the substance of his note to me:

“… the State Education Association created a petition that got enough signatures so that the money approved by the Nevada Legislature for the stadium will be on the ballot next week as a referendum.  If the voters support the State Education Association position, the money for the stadium will not be available.”

The Legislature approved spending $380M on the new ballpark; just as the stadium for the NFL’s Raiders has been a plus for the economy in Las Vegas, voters in places like Reno could easily ask themselves, “How does another stadium ‘down there’ make my life any better?”  This referendum – should it be successful for the State Education Association – could be important for two reasons:

  1. It could thwart – at least in the immediate term – a move of the A’s from Oakland to Las Vegas.
  2. It could provide a new way for stadium opponents to fight against public money appropriations for such things.

Democracy in action at the ballot box next week…

Moving on …  After the Spanish Women’s National Soccer Team won the Women’s World Cup in August, the head of the Royal Spanish Football federation, Luis Rubiales, kissed one of the Spanish players, Jennifer Hermoso.  She said it was uninvited and unwanted and filed a grievance; Rubiales was adamantly unrepentant.  Yesterday, FIFA barred Luis Rubiales “from all football-related activities for three years.”

Rubiales has declared that he will appeal this punishment – – meaning this story is not over yet.  From his perspective, the appeal will assure “that justice is served and the truth shines.”  Here is my position on this matter:

What Rubiales did was wrong.  Period.

  1. On a 1-to-10 scale of “wrong behaviors” where “1” is farting in an oxygen tent and “10” is genocide, what Rubiales did is a “1”.  I am sorry; but given the emotion of the moment and the nature of the wrong behavior, this is not something that has societal implications for the ages.
  2. He should have apologized – – sincerely – – at the time of the incident and then again about 30 seconds after Ms. Hermoso filed her grievance.  That time has passed…
  3. Three years seems like an overly harsh penalty here; it seems to me there is a measure of “virtue signaling” included in the penalty.

Finally, since I mentioned what may become the “Kiss Heard Round the World”, let me close with this observation by my favorite curmudgeon, H. L. Mencken:

“When women kiss, it always reminds one of prize fighters shaking hands.”

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



The World Series And Baseball Stuff …

Tonight there is a double scoop of sports on TV.  At 8:03 PM EDT, the World Series Game 3 starts; at 8:20 PM EDT, the NFL Monday Night Football game kicks off.  Thomas Paine labeled the social situation of his age as “the times that try men’s souls.”  Here in Curmudgeon Central, it is times like these that make us glad that God invented the DVR and the TV remote.

Game 1 of the World Series was as interesting and dramatic as could be wished for.  A game-tying two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning sent the game to extra innings which produced a walk-off home run.  Game 2 of the World Series was interesting for a while, but the game turned into a rout in the later innings.  Yesterday was a travel day for the Rangers and D-Backs; action tonight and for the next couple of days moves to Arizona.

I have no personal links to either the Rangers or the D-Backs; I have never lived or worked in “Dallas” or in “Phoenix”; I have friends who live in both cities; so, there is no tipping of the scales for me on that dimension.  In situations such as this, the rule here in Curmudgeon Central is to adhere to the “Hedonism Principle”.  I will root for the team that is behind in the Series to even things up such that the World Series goes to 7 games.

  • More games to watch and enjoy = the “Hedonism Principle”.

One last item to clean up before moving away from this year’s World Series …  I mentioned last week that I did not foresee these two teams duking it out in the World Series in 2023 nor did I recall any other prognosticators doing so.  But I did run across this item at one of the sports gambling sites on the Internet giving you an idea how many – if any – folks called this pairing in advance:

“In March [of this year] the odds on a D-backs/Rangers World Series were 1,750 to 1.”

Let me stay on the subject of baseball here and present to you a stat that came to me from a reader who obviously loves mining baseball data for oddities.  I used to try to “fact check” his communications but have come to take them at face value.  So, here is his latest missive:

  • In 13 post-season games this year, the Phillies struck out 120 times.
  • In the entire decade of the 1990s, Tony Gwynn only struck out 188 times.

There has been no real news recently about the intended move of the Oakland A’s to Las Vegas but if I am to believe a report on a travel/tourism site, there must be things happening in the background.  The proposed site for the stadium that will be needed to house the A’s will require the demolition of the Tropicana Hotel and Casino.  According to the travel site, they have had access to an “internal memo” which says that the Tropicana will close sometime between late 2024 and mid-2025.  The structure will need to be imploded and removed to create space for the stadium and a new hotel/casino that will go up adjacent to the stadium.

Assuming that information is accurate, I would draw a couple of conclusions:

  1. The time frame is right.  The A’s lease in Oakland runs out soon.  The team – and MLB presumably – have targeted 2028 as the year the team will move into the as yet to be constructed stadium in Las Vegas.  Ergo, the demolition of the existing hotel at the stadium site by mid-2025 makes sense.
  2. There has been no announcement of a formal vote of the MLB owners approving the movement of the franchise from Oakland to Las Vegas.  However, if this level of detail is afoot in the planning processes, I would have to think that Commissioner Manfred has “read the room” and is confident that there are 23 votes out there in favor of this franchise relocation.  Any such move needs a 75% vote of the owners; that means there needs to be 23 of the 30 owners in favor of such an action.

Three venues have been floated as trial balloons about where the A’s might play until the new facility is ready.  Obviously, one is to extend the lease in Oakland and hope there are no more sewage backups into locker rooms and dugouts.  Two other ideas seem more aesthetically pleasing but less practical:

  1. Play “some” home games at Oracle Park – – home of the SF Giants.  The problem with that idea is where to play “the other games” that are not held at Oracle Park.  There needs to be a solution for all the A’s home games not “some” of them.
  2. Play at least “some” home games at Las Vegas Ballpark which is the home field for the Las Vegas Aviators of the Pacific Coast League – – a AAA farm team affiliated with the A’s.  The stadium has seating for 8,196 and can hold 10,000 fans including standing room.  Moreover, it has no dome to allow “climate mitigation”.

I suspect that the MLBPA will not be happy to accede to a situation where some of its members will get to play outdoor baseball in Las Vegas in the summer in front of 8,196 fans in a sellout.  This is why I am convinced that things are going on in the background on this whole situation.

Finally, since I mentioned hedonism above, let me close with this observation by Woody Allen related to that concept:

“You’ll live to be a hundred if you give up all the things that make you want to.”

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



Football Friday 10/27/23

The calendar says today is Friday – – and that means that we have all survived yet one more week on this planet as it careens around the sun.  It also means that we need to strap ourselves in for another Football Friday experience.  As is customary, I shall begin with a review of last week’s “Betting Bundle”:

College:  3-0-0   =>   Season:   9-6-0

NFL:   1-2-0   =>   Season:   10-5-0

Parlays:   0-2   Loss:   $200    Season:   6-5   Profit:   $413


College Football Commentary:


            The Linfield College Wildcats extended their 2023 record to 6-0 by thrashing the Lumberjacks of the University of Puget Sound 55-6.  Both teams scored touchdowns and then failed to covert the PAT in the first quarter, so the score was tied 6-6 going into the second quarter.  From that point, Linfield scored 49 unanswered points.  Linfield lived on big plays in the game; Puget Sound actually held the ball for more than half the game (31:25) but Linfield gained 203 more yards of offense in the game.  This week, the Wildcats are at home to take on the Boxers of Pacific College who arrive at the kickoff with a record of 1-5.  Go Wildcats!

Last week was not a great showing by several of the top-ranked teams in the country as I will point out as we go along in today’s rant.  But Michigan had no real difficulty in steamrollering hapless Michigan State 49-0.  The Wolverines are 8-0 and have won each of those games by 24 points or more.  Even if – – and I said IF – – they are stealing opponents’ signs improperly, that is an impressive display.  Look, Michigan has yet to play any team that is within hailing distance of being a “top team”; their conference schedule is back-loaded in terms of difficulty and their out of conference schedule should be greeted with utter scorn.  Nevertheless, 8-0 and winning every game by 24 or more points is noteworthy.

Also noteworthy is the observation that the bottom has fallen out on the football program at Michigan State as it meanders along toward the end of this season.  As of this morning, the season stands at 2-5 with the two wins coming at the expense of Division 1-AA Richmond and MAC powerhouse Central Michigan.  There are 4 games left on Sparty’s schedule and two of them are against Ohio State and Penn State.  It is going to be a long winter in East Lansing…

A former colleague and a reader of these rants back before the days when they appeared on the Internet is an alum of Florida State.  He has a simple formula for figuring out the amount his annual donation to his alma mater:

  • He gives the school a base amount of “X dollars”.  If the Seminoles beat the Gators in football that year, he doubles his donation.

While I do not have any similar way to gauge any of my charitable contributions for the year, I do admire the simplicity of his generosity.  And from that simplicity, you will probably not be surprised to learn that he hopes that Florida loses every football game that it ever plays.  Knowing that, I was not overly surprised to get an email from him earlier this week telling me to check out Florida’s remaining schedule to see if – – maybe – – the Gators might lose every one of their remaining games.  So here is the Florida football schedule for the rest of 2023:

  • Vs. Georgia in Jax – – undefeated and ranked #1 in the country as of this morning
  • Vs. Arkansas
  • At LSU – – ranked #15 in the country as of this morning
  • At Missouri – – ranked #16in the country as of this morning
  • Vs. Florida St. – – ranked #4 in the country as of this morning.

The Gators should be underdogs in all of those games save for the one at home against Arkansas.  Moreover, if the Gators were to lose all of their remaining games, they would not be bowl eligible.  So, of course, I asked my former colleague if he might consider adding a “sweetener” to his contribution this year if his Seminoles not only win that final game of the season but if that victory would also keep Florida out of a bowl game.  I have not heard back from him as of this morning…

Here are some comments on games from last week; I’ll start in the SEC:

Mississippi St. 7  Arkansas 3:  Arkansas fired offensive coordinator Dan Enos in the wake of a 7-3 loss at home to Mississippi State. Frankly, I’m a little surprised Enos was the only one out on the streets. The Hogs have a bye week and a 2-6 overall record this year (0-5 in the SEC); so, I would have thought that head coach, Sam Pittman. would also be getting a pink slip.

Missouri 34 S. Carolina 12:  Hear me out.  Missouri could become the 2023 version of 2022’s TCU.  The Tigers could follow that model of a completely out-of-the-box dark horse team that gets on a run and makes it to the CFP.  Missouri is 7-1 for this season and they are tied with Alabama for the second-best overall record in the SEC.  Moreover, Mizzou gets to go head to head with Georgia two weeks from now in a game that is going to be far more important than I ever thought possible at the start of the season.  Am I going to bet on this happening?  Hell, no!   But I didn’t have TCU making the final game in the CFP last year either…

Alabama 34 Tennessee 20:   Alabama trailed Tennessee 20-7at the half and were outplayed in the first half.  Bama rallied in the second half pitching a shutout to win the game.  Whatever Nick Saban said to his team at halftime needs to be bottled, trademarked and sold as a motivational tonic.

Ole Miss 28 Auburn 21:  The stat sheet says this game should not have been this close.  Ole Miss produced 475 yards on offense; Auburn only managed 275 yards.  But that is the result in the books …

In Big-10 action:

Ohio St. 20 Penn St. 12: Ohio St. beat Penn St. in a defensive struggle.  Actually, it was only because of a very good defensive effort by Penn St that made a game of it because the Penn St. offense was barely existent.

Rutgers 31 Indiana 14:  UNLV and Rutgers both achieved bowl eligibility last week.  For UNLV that is only their second bowl eligibility year since 2000.  Rutgers won this game despite having only 39 yards of passing offense in the game.  Woody Hayes would approve …

Minnesota 12 Iowa 10:  The total offense generated by BOTH teams in this game was 363 yards.  If you want to label the game, call it the Ineptitude Bowl.  Iowa’s total rushing output for the game was 11 yards.

Nebraska 17 Northwestern 9:  Call this the Battle of the “N-logos”.  You have to find something interesting about this game because it had all the drama and heart-stopping ambience of a Gregorian chant concert.

Michigan 49 Michigan St.  0:  So, what is the next embarrassment for Sparty football that might be more embarrassing than what the team has shown over the past several weeks?  Maybe one of the starters caught on video in flagrante delicto with a barnyard animal?  Michigan still has yet to play an opponent that anyone thinks is a real opponent – – but they keep mauling lesser opponents.

In ACC action …

Virginia 31 UNC 27:  This is the first loss for UNC, and it comes in a game where the Cavaliers were 24-point underdogs on the road in Chapel Hill.  UNC lost to a team that was 1-5 entering the game and that lone win had been over a Division 1-AA opponent.  Nonetheless, the Cavaliers struck first and hung on to win this game.   North Carolina – – now 6-1 for the season – – led 24-14 early in the third quarter but Uva quarterback Tony Muskett, had a great game going 20 of 30 including a game winning 14-yard TD pass in the closing moments.

Florida St. 32 Duke 20:  Duke led 17-7 early in the second quarter but that lead would not be nearly enough because the Blue Devils would only manage a field goal from that point forward.   The Seminoles gained 420 yards on offense as opposed to only 273 for the Blue Devils.  Add to that the fact that Florida St. was 7 for 12 on third-down conversions and the result here is understandable.   Duke’s record now stands s at 5-2; they are mathematically alive in the ACC race to crown a conference champion but the more realistic outcome for the Blue Devils is an upper level bowl game.  Florida State remains unbeaten and should be given lots of consideration for inclusion in the CFP.

Miami 28 Clemson 20 (OT):  Miami rallied from 10 points down at the start of the 4th quarter to force OT and ultimately to come away as the winner in this game.

In Big-12 games …

Oklahoma St.  48 West Virginia 34:  West Virginia led 24-20 at the start of the 4th quarter – – then the teams combined to score 38 points in the 4th quarter.  The Total Line for the game was 48 points; the oddsmakers did not think Oklahoma St. would reach that total all by themselves.  Total offense in the game by both teams was 966 yards.

K-State 41 TCU 3:  This TCU team is not nearly of the caliber of last year’s TCU team that went to the National Championship Game – – only to be slaughtered by Georgia.  This makes 4 losses for the Horned Frogs on the season – – one each to Colorado, West Virginia, Iowa St. and K-State.  Meanwhile, K-State is 5-2 for the season with the following schedule in front of them:

  • Vs Houston’
  • At Texas
  • Vs Baylor
  • At Kansas
  • Vs Iowa St.

Texas 31 Houston 24:  Texas took a big lead 21-0 in the first half and then saw Houston rally to make a game of it.  The Cougars actually outgained the Longhorns 392 yards to 360 yards for the day.  The Longhorns (6-1) had two weeks to overcome their loss to Oklahoma and came out revved up and ready to go; but after halftime, Houston tied the game and had a chance to create overtime at the end. The Texas defense held in the Red Zone in the final 2 minutes to secure the victory.

Out west in PAC-12 games …

Utah 34 USC 32:  People have been “skeptical” or “critical of USC’s defense all season long.  Well let me give you a picture of why fans of USC cannot be happy.  The Trojans lost to Utah last week, but it is how they lost that is frustrating.

  • Utah was without their starting QB yet again; that meant they would be relying on their running game more than they would if Cam Rising had been at 100% and ready to play.
  • Even knowing that, the Trojans allowed the Utes to gain 247 yards on the ground in the game.  Utah just pushed them around.
  • Utah’s backup QB, Bryson Barnes, added 245 yards passing with 3 TDs and he also ran the ball for 57 yards in the game.

The coaches at USC who are assigned recruiting duties had better get some defensive studs signed up for next year because if not, there are going to be Big-10 teams that will embarrass USC.  Having said all that negative stuff about USC, one also needs to recognize that Utah is a good team that is very well coached by Kyle Wittingham.

Washington 15 Arizona St. 7:  The Huskies were 28-point favorites in this game and never began to threaten to cover that spread.  The Total Line was 59.5 points.  If you bet the OVER, you had to be tearing your hair out all through this one.  Arizona St had the advantage in terms of offense generated by 61 yards on the game, but Washington turned the ball over 4 times in the game as compared to Arizona St. who only turned it over once.  I said this could be a letdown game for Washington; it sure seems that way.

In miscellaneous other games:

SMU 55 Temple 0:  There are SHOE Tournament implications for Temple – – and this is the 5th straight week Temple has given up 40 or more points to opponents.

South Alabama 55 So. Mississippi 3:  Clearly some SHOE Tournament stuff here too for So. Mississippi …

Nevada 6 San Diego St. 0:  Nevada won its first game of the year over San Diego St.  That leaves only one winless team – – Sam Houston St. which can be forgiven for that record somewhat because it is the first year in Division 1-A football.  However, this outcome does not assure Nevada elimination from the SHOE Tournament seeding later this year.

UNLV 25 Colorado St. 23:  As noted above, UNLV and Rutgers both achieved bowl eligibility last week.  For UNLV that is only their second bowl eligibility year since 2000.  UNLV is 6-1 for the season; the last time UNLV started a season like this was in 1984 when their offensive backfield included Randall Cunningham and Ickey Woods…

New Mexico 42 Hawaii 21:  There are SHOE Tournament implications here…


The SHOE Tournament Watch:


Over the years, several readers have chastised me for focusing SHOE Tournament scorn on the “little guys” in college football and ignoring Power 5 teams that are not good at all.  Let me assure any and all folks who are interested in MAC football or AAC football that I am not consciously picking on schools in those conferences.  So, this week, let me break down the SHOE Tournament Watch List as follows:

  • Power 5 Teams:  Arizona St. Indiana, Michigan St. Stanford, Vandy
  • AAC Teams:  East Carolina, Temple, UNC-Charlotte
  • Independents:  Army, UConn, UMass
  • MAC Teams:  Akron, Ball St. Kent St. W. Michigan
  • MWC Teams:  Hawaii, Nevada
  • Sun Belt Teams:  La-Monroe, So Mississippi

And to keep you up to date on teams in contention for the Brothel Defense Award in 2023, here is the data as of this morning:

  • Temple gives up 38.0 points per game
  • So. Mississippi gives up 38.1 points per game
  • UMass gives up 42.4 points per game


Games of Interest This Week:


Michigan St. at Minnesota – 7 (40.5):  Of course, you should not wager on this game; but you should also structure your weekend such that you will not have to watch this game unless you are kidnapped and tortured by domestic terrorists.

UMass at Army – 9 (51):  Major SHOE Tournament implications here …

Tennessee – 3.5 at Kentucky (51):  Both teams are 5-2 overall and both teams have 2 conference losses.  The winner of this game remains mathematically alive in the SEC East race, but they will be on life support.  The Vols are 0-2 on the road this year if you are looking for a trend in the game.

Florida St. – 20 at Wake Forest (51):  The Total Line opened the week at 53 points and has inched down to this level.  The Seminoles are 7-0 for the season and aspire to a CFP invitation; the Demon Deacons are 4-3 for the season (all 3 losses are in conference games) and aspire to bowl-eligibility.

Virginia at Miami – 18.5 (47.5):  Clearly, the oddsmakers were only slightly impressed with Virginia’s upset win last week over previously unbeaten UNC …

Duke at Louisville – 5 (46):  Florida St. is undefeated in ACC games this year.  Four teams have only one loss in ACC games to date; both of these teams are among the four with only s single loss.  This is an important game; the loser can forget being a part of the ACC Championship Game.

La Monroe – 1 at Arkansas St. (58):  A team on the SHOE Tournament Watch List is a favorite on the road.  That does not happen often …

UNC – 12 at Georgia Tech (64):  The Tar Heels should be smarting from that loss last week to an inferior Virginia squad.

Oklahoma – 9 at Kansas (66):  The Sooners own an 18-game wining streak over the Jayhawks.  Oklahoma is the only team without a loss in the Big-12; Kansas has lost 2 conference games so a loss here would all but eliminate them from a shot at the Big-12 Championship Game.

Indiana at Penn St. – 32 (46):  Given the ineptitude shown by the Penn St. offense last week against Ohio St. (see above), that spread is a testament to the porosity of the Indiana defensive unit.  Indiana gave up 31 points to Rutgers last week; this game will be one of the ugliest games of the day.  No way would I play a game with a spread like this – – but I would not be surprised if Penn St. were to win by 40 or more points.  For the record, the Money Line for Penn St. in this game is minus-15,000.

  • If you took Penn St. on the Money Line at those odds and wagered $100, you stand to win $0.67 if the Nittany Lions prevail.
  • Be still my heart …

Wyoming at Boise St. – 5 (49):  Both teams have one loss in MWC games.  Wyoming is 5-2 for the season while Boise St is 3-4.  However, Wyoming has lost both of its games on the road in 2023.  This line set by the oddsmakers looks like a “venue call” to me.

Oregon – 6 at Utah (47.5):  Both teams are 6-1 overall and both teams are 3-1 in PAC-12 games.  Consider this an “elimination game” for the loser when it comes to the PAC-12 Championship Game.  Here is an amazing stat to consider:

  • In 7 games so far in 2023, Oregon has only turned the ball over 1 time.

This is my College Game of the Week.  It beats out Georgia/Florida because of its “elimination game” status

UNLV at Fresno St. – 9 (58):  With bowl-eligibility assured, is this a letdown game for UNLV?  Or will they show up invigorated to defend their unbeaten status in MWC games?  Fresno St. is 6-1 for the season and its loss was a conference game to Wyoming three weeks ago.

Colorado at UCLA – 16.5 (61.5):  Colorado has 3 conference losses; it will not be part of the PAC-12 Championship picture in 2023.  The Buffaloes’ overall record is 4-3 meaning they need 2 more wins for bowl-eligibility a year after finishing the season at 1-11.  They have 5 games left to play including this one; none of them are walk-overs for Colorado but a couple of them should be competitive games.  Meanwhile, UCLA with 2 conference losses might still sneak into the PAC-12 Championship picture but it would be a longshot at best.

Oregon St. – 3.5 at Arizona (56.5):  Yes, I know that Oregon St. is 6-1 for the season but Arizona has been playing very well over the last several weeks.  Oregon St. is tough at home but not nearly as good on the road.  Their loss was a road game against Washington St and their two road wins were over San Jose St. and Cal (not exactly the Bruise Brothers).  Arizona is a home underdog with the better defense; I like that betting angle here; give me Arizona plus the points; put that in the “Betting Bundle”.

New Mexico at Nevada – 1 (50):  Another team on the SHOE Tournament Watch List is a favorite this weekend…  Note that New Mexico waxed another SHOE Tournament Watch List team last week (see above)

Georgia – 14.5 at Florida (49):  I will be interested to see how Georgia’s offense looks in the absence of Brock Bowers who I think should be considered for the Heisman Trophy if the voters ever look beyond the QB position to cast their ballots.

Houston at K-State – 17.5 (60):  The oddsmakers are clearly unimpressed by the game Houston gave Texas last week (see above).  I know that K-State is always tough at home, but the size of the spread does surprise me here.

Iowa St. – 2.5 at Baylor (47.5):  The Cyclones are one of four Big-12 teams with only one conference loss chasing undefeated Oklahoma for a slot in the Big-12 Championship Game.  Baylor already has 2 conference losses.  You may think Baylor has home-field advantage in the game, but Baylor is only 1-4 in home games this year.  I think Iowa St. is the better team with positive momentum; I’ll take them to win and cover on the road; put that in the “Betting Bundle”.

Ohio St. – 14.5 at Wisconsin (45):  The Buckeyes must avoid a letdown after beating Penn St. in the football equivalent of an axe fight last week.

Mississippi St. at Auburn – 6.5 (41):  Auburn has been disappointing and sluggish on offense all year; Mississippi State won last week despite scoring only 7 points.  This game has the earmarks of an UGLY game…

South Carolina at Texas A&M – 16 (52.5):  The Gamecocks are 2-5 on the season and 0-3 on the road.  Having said that, the Aggies’ offense has been so sporadic this year that backing them and giving 16 points to any team not confined to an ICU somewhere is risky.


NFL Commentary:


The 2023 iteration of the Buffalo Bills is inscrutable.  They looked like strong Super Bowl contenders in August; they have an elite talent at QB; they have a highly regarded head coach.  Nevertheless, it is difficult to know how they are going to play “on any given Sunday” – – or Thursday night either.  The Bills record is 5-3; that puts them a half-game behind the Dolphins in the AFC East and the Bills have played one more game than the Dolphins.  By the way, the Bills beat the Dolphins four weeks ago by 4 TDs.  That is in line with their “projection” as a top team.  And then …

  • The Bills have lost to the Jets and the Pats – – both teams below them in their division standings.
  • The Bills have also lost to the Jaguars in a London game which can be acceptable due to the Jags’ competence and jet lag
  • But the Bills only beat the woeful Giants by only 5 points and needed 2 TDs in the 4th quarter to do so.
  • Last night as a double-digit favorite at home over the Bucs, the Bills dominated the stat sheet and won by only 6 points.

When you figure out what is going on with the Bills, please drop me a line and clue me in…  The Bills seem to fit this description by the author Jack London:

“At once he became an enigma.  One side or the other of his nature was perfectly comprehensible; but both sides together were bewildering.”

Let me also comment this week on the Washington Commanders.  If you want an example of how a team can play up to or down to the level of its opponent, just check out the Commanders.

  • In Weeks 1-4, the Commanders beat two bad teams in very close games.  (Cards by 4 points and Broncos by 2 points).  Also, they lost to the Eagles by 3 points.
  • In Weeks 5-7, the Commanders have beaten the Falcons but have also lost two games to the Bears (by 20 points) and then lost to Giants in a game where the Commanders only scored 7 points.  Those 7 points only came after the Commanders recovered a muffed punt that set up a TD drive of 21 yards.

The Commanders OL is embarrassing – – and what makes it more embarrassing is that at least three guys the Commanders had on their team are now elsewhere in the NFL and playing well.  I refer here to Morgan Moses (Ravens), Brandon Scherff (Jags) and Trent Williams (Niners).

In the first half of last week’s game against the Giants, the Commanders had net offense of 46 yards.  For the game, the Commanders were 1 of 15 on third down conversions.

So … the Commanders can play the Eagles – – a legit playoff team with a chance to go back to the Super Bowl in February 2024 – – to a game decided by a field goal where the Commanders scored 31 points AND they can lose to the Bears by 20 and then wet the bed against a bad Giants’ team starting its backup QB.  That goes beyond “inscrutable” and into “WTF” territory.

A most pleasant surprise for its fans so far this year, the Houston Texans are 3-3 and in second place in the AFC South.  The Texans were less than good just last year posting a season record of 3-13-1 and earning the second overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.  They used that pick to take CJ Stroud (Ohio St.) who has been an important part of what appears to be a major turnaround.  In addition to the play of the rookie QB, the Texans’ defense has played well too, ranking 8th in the NFL in points allowed per game (18.8).  I suspect that some of the credit here belongs to new head coach, DeMeco Ryans, and GN Nick Caserio.

Deshaun Watson will be out again this week for the Browns.  The fully guaranteed $230M contract the Browns lavished on Watson was a bad move by the Browns in the first place – – notwithstanding the fact that they had to part with multiple first round picks just to be able to negotiate with Watson.  However, if Watson rarely if ever plays, it makes that deal into one of the worst personnel moves ever.  When he has played in 2023 – – all or part of 4 games – – his QB Rating is 80.9 which is nothing to write home about.

The Bears are not a good football team in 2023.  Neither are the Raiders and the game last week between the two of them was embarrassing.  (I’ll get to details on that later.)  So, what have the scheduling mavens of the NFL done?

  • Both the Bears and the Raiders are on the air in Prime Time this week.  Oh joy!

Here’s a quick review of last week’s NFL action:

Vikes 22 Niners 17:  Kirk Cousins put on a show even though it was a “Prine Time Game” where Cousins has not shown well in the past.  Here is his stat line:

  • 35 of 45 for 378 yards with 2 TDs and 1 INT

Justin Jefferson was not on the field, but Jordan Addison and TJ Hockenson combined to catch 18 passes for 209 yards and 2 TDs.  The Niners offense was pedestrian.  Brock Purdy threw two INTs in the 4th quarter and that did not help the Niners’ cause at all.  The Niners’ defense was neither solid nor smothering; they gave up over 450 yards to the Vikes and did not sack Kirk Cousins even once on those 45 pass attempts.  This makes 2 losses in a row for the Niners narrowing their lead in the NFC Wesst to a half-game over the Seahawks.  Meanwhile, this win by the Vikes puts them in second place in the NFC North, two games behind the Lions.  Maybe an interesting race is developing in the NFC North?

Ravens 38 Lions 6:  The Ravens were as dominant as the scoreboard would indicate.  The Ravens generated 504 yards on offense in the game (355 yards on offense in the first half) and had the Lions shut out 35-0 to start the 4th quarter.  The Ravens simply disemboweled the Lions.  There is no other way to put it.  Lamar Jackson was unstoppable in this game with this stat line:

  • 21 of 27 for 357 yards and 3 TDs with 0 INTs plus a rushing TD

I also read somewhere – – but did not record where – – that Lamar Jackson has started 16 games against NFC teams and his record in those games is 15-1.  Wow!

Falcons 16 Bucs 13:  For the first 59 minutes and 56 seconds, the Falcons had generated 401 yards on offense and produced only 13 points.  In the final four seconds, the Falcons kicked a 51-yard field goal to win the game.  Desmond Ridder tried to hand the game to the Bucs losing 3 fumbles in the Red Zone.  So far in 2023 when the Bucs win, they score 20+ points; in their 4 losses this year, the Bucs have averaged 12 points per game.

Pats 29 Bills 25:  I am not sure what was more surprising – – the Pats winning this game in the first place or the fact that Mac Jones’ stat line was significantly better than Josh Allen’s stat line.

  • Allen:  27 of 41 for 265 yards with 2 TDs and 1 INT
  • Jones:  25 of 30 for 272 yards with 2 TDs and 0 INT

The Bills record after this game was 4-3; with their win last night, they stand at 5-3 this season.  Josh Allen is fifth in the AFC in passer rating, but he threw in a fumble on top of an interception against the Pats. The Bills’ defense only sacked Mac Jones once in this game.

Bears 30 Raiders 12: The Ls Vegas Raiders should be embarrassed.  The last time Tyson Bagent started a football game, it was in the Division 2 tournament semi-finals and his team (Shepherd U) lost that day to the Colorado Schol of Mines.  Bagent only managed to produce 13 points in that college loss; so, you have to have figured that the Raiders’ defense would confound the rookie and hold the Bears to something near single-digits.  Cue Lee Corso here:

“Not so fast, my friend!”.

Not only did Raiders lose the game, they lost by 18 points to the Bears.  Given that the Raiders chose to start geriatric backup QB, Brian Hoyer, you would think their game plan would have included a heavy leaning on Josh Jacobs in the running game.  Jacobs rushed 11 times for 35 yards which was not a good showing.  Making it even worse, one of his carries was for 11 yards; so, his other 10 carries gained all of 24 yards.  Meanwhile, the Bears running game produced 173 yards for the game on 38 carries.   The Bears intercepted three passes and converted 8 of 13 third-down situations.

Giants 14 Commanders 7:  The Giants had not scored a TD in the first half of any game this year; they got two of them in this game and that was enough to win.  Going into this game, the Giants defense had recorded a total of 5 sacks for the season; they sacked Sam Howell 6 times in this game.  See above for some of the other gory details of this game.  The Commanders are 3-4 on the season with a point differential of minus-50 points.  There are three other teams in the NFC with 3-4 records; here are their point differentials:

  • Rams  +14 points
  • Saints  +6 points
  • Vikes  minus-1 point.

Here is another indication of how sloppy and inept the teams were in this game.  There were 18 punts and 14 assessed penalties in the game.

Browns 39 Colts 38:  The Colts dominated the stat sheet gaining 456 yards and yielding only 316 yards.  The Colts’ defense also created 5 turnovers in the game – – and somehow the Colts managed to lose.  Myles Garrett has to be the Player of the Week.  He had two strip sacks, and he blocked a field goal attempt in this game.  Gardner Minshew had a Jekyll and Hyde type of game.  He threw for more than 300 yards and produced 4 TDs in the game; he also created 4 turnovers in the game.

Chiefs 31 Chargers 17:  The Chiefs posted 483 yards of offense (413 yards through the air) and won this game handily.  The Chiefs only led by 7 at the half and the Chargers’ defense was efficient in the second half allowing only one TD on 6 Chiefs’ possessions.  However, the Chargers’ offense in the second half produced this mess:

  • INT
  • PUNT
  • PUNT
  • PUNT
  • INT

The Chiefs now lead the AFC West by a whopping three full games over the Raiders who have not looked “menacing” so far in 2023.    Patrick Mahomes had a signature game here; he threw for 324 yards and 4 TDs in the game.

Steelers 24 Rams 17:  The Rams outgained the Steelers by 54 yards in the game and converted 9 of 16 third down attempts.  Usually, that leads to a win; last weekend it did not.  The Rams did commit one turnover and it led to a short-field TD drive of 7 yards for the Steelers.  The Rams led 17-10 at the start of the 4th quarter and managed to lose the game.

Broncos 19 Packers 17:  The Packers had a BYE Week before this game and put forth this clunker of a game.  The Broncos led 9-0 at the half; I guess you could say that the Packers “rallied” in the second half, but that would be very generous.  The Packers led by a point with 8 minutes to play in the game; after a Broncos’ field goal putting the Packers behind the eight ball, the Packers had the ball in the final two minutes.  But an INT by Jordan Love cemented the loss. Feh on both teams here …

Seahawks 20 Cards 10:  The Seahawks led 14-10 at the half and then shut the Cards out in the second half to win a lackluster game.  In the first half of the game, there was a scrum that would up with two players swinging at each other.  Both “made contact” with an official but only one was ejected on the basis that the officials determined that he was the instigator.  Frankly, if that is how it went down – – I did not see this game live – – then that is the best use of replay so far this season.  The Cardinals, after playing close/competitive games in September, now look like the bottom-feeder team I expected all along. Since they beat Dallas at the end of September, they have lost four consecutive games, all by 10 points or more.  The Cards were 0 for 3 on fourth down in this game.

Eagles 31 Dolphins 17:  I was in the stadium to watch this game.  The Dolphins’ high octane offense was held to 244 yards with only 45 yards coming on the ground.  When Tua tried to pass, he was under pressure at least 75% of the time.  Nevertheless, the Eagles only led 24-17 at the start of the 4th quarter and the Dolphins had put together a nice drive to get the ball deep in Eagles’ territory when Darius Slay intercepted Tua at the 2 yard line with about 11 minutes left in the game.  From there, the Eagles put together a scoring drive that covered 83 yards in 13 plays and consumed 6 minutes and 35 seconds.  The final defensive series for the Eagles had them regaining possession after 4 plays that netted the Dolphins zero yards.  AJ Brown had another big game catching 10 passes for 137 yards.   Brown has been impossible to stifle. He has caught at least six passes for at least 131 yards in each of the Eagles’ last five games.

Before getting to this week’s contests, let me keep you up to date on two trending issues in the NFL:

  1. The Steelers gained 300 yards on offense last week.  That means they have been at or below 300 yards in 5 of their 6 games this week.  Also, it has now been 40 consecutive games for Steelers OC, Matt Canada, where he has failed to put together a game plan that could gain 400 or more yards in a game.
  2. Sam Howell was sacked 6 times by the Giants last week.  He has now been sacked 40 times in the Commanders’ seven games to date.  That projects to 97 sacks for the season.  The NFL record is 76 sacks in one season.


Games This Week:


For reasons known only to the NFL scheduling mavens, all the teams are in action this week.  It is as if the “Bye Weeks” have taken a BYE Week after 6 teams took off last week and 4 teams will sit out next week.

One other interesting note before getting to the individual games this week.  The road team is favored in 9 of the 15 games left on the card for this weekend.  Whatever happened to home-field advantage?

Saints – 1 at Colts (44):  The Saints have had a long week to prepare since they last played on Thursday night a week ago – – losing to the Jags.  The Saints have been unimpressive this year posting a 3-4 record, but in the homogenized NFC South, that puts the Saints in second place one game behind the less-than-fearsome Falcons in the division.  This is an important game for the Saints.  Meanwhile the Colts are 2 games behind the Jags in the AFC South and a loss here would but the team squarely behind the eight ball.  The QB comparison in the game is stark:

  • Derek Carr:  Never spectacular, never abjectly awful.  Steady as she goes…
  • Gardner Minshew:  Sometimes 4 TDs; sometimes 4 INTs; sometimes both in the same game.  Full speed in one direction or the other …

Jags – 3 at Steelers (41):  The Steelers are 4-2 this year and are only a half game behind the Ravens in the AFC North.  Amazingly, with that winning record, the Steelers’ point differential so far in 2023 is minus-24 points. The Jags have won 4 games in a row; that is the second longest winning streak in the league.  Statistically, the two teams are about even; Trevor Lawrence is the better QB.  Is that enough for me to take the Jags and lay points on the road in Pittsburgh?  No.

Texans – 3 at Panthers (43.5): Obviously, the storyline here is the first NFL confrontation between Bryce Young (Overall #1 pick in April’s draft) and CJ Stroud (Overall #2 pick in April’s draft).  So far, Stroud has the better record and the better stats, but it is way too soon to write off Young as a bust.  The Panthers are winless this year.  Their defense has been decent ranking 19th in the NFL in yards allowed per game; the offense has been less effective ranking 24th in the league in yards gained per game.  On the scoreboard, the Panthers are losing by 12.5 points per game.  Given that this game means a lot to the Texans in terms of the standings, I like them to win and cover even on the road; put that in the “Betting Bundle”.

Eagles – 7.5 at Commanders (43.5):  Simply stated, this is a classic “sandwich game” for the Eagles.  Last week, they had to prep for the high-flying Dolphins; next week, they face their closest rival in the NFC East, the Cowboys; the week after that they go on the road to take on the Chiefs.  And here in the middle of all that are the plain vanilla Washington Commanders.  No way do I take the Eagles to cover here; if you think that hook on top of a full TD in the spread makes you comfortable taking the underdog here, be my guest.

Rams at Cowboys – 6 (45):  The Cowboys have the better overall roster.  The Rams have the better QB and the better head coach.  If you want to make a pick here, flip a coin…

Pats at Dolphins – 9.5 (47):  Both teams surprised last week.  The Pats were a pleasant surprise playing well and winning over the Bills.  The Dolphins were pushed around by the Eagles and lost by 2 TDs.  There is an unknown here:

  • Tyreek Hill did not practice on Wednesday with a “hip injury”.

If he does not play, that changes a lot because it would allow the Pats to focus on Jaylen Waddle making the explosive Miami passing game less lethal.  So, is Hill in or out?  Without knowing that, this game is a pass…

Jets – 3 at Giants (37):  Look for a defense-dominated game here.  The offensive unit that makes the biggest mistake will lose this game.  If you want to make a prediction as to which team’s offense will do that, have at it…

Falcons – 2.5 at Titans (35.5):  This is the Dog-Breath Game of the Week.  The Titans are a mess; the only thing offensive about their offense is their body odor.  Ryan Tannehill has a sprained ankle and is not expected to play; even if he does, he should not be at peak performance which is what Ryan Tannehill has to put out for the Titans to win.  So, the Titans could start Malik Willis or Will Levis.  At least if Levis starts his first game in the NFL, it might make the game watchable simply to see what the kid can do.  For the Falcons, I trust Desmond Ridder about as much as the dealer in a 3-card Monte game…

Vikes – 1.5 at Packers (42):  The Vikes played very well last week beating the Niners, but the Vikes traditionally do not play well in Green Bay.  The counter to that statement is that the Packers have looked awful over the last several weeks,

Browns at Seahawks – 3.5 (38):  The spread opened the week at 1 point and slowly rose to this level over the week.  The Total Line opened the week at 41 points and dropped to this level pretty quickly.  It looks as if the Browns will start PJ Walker again this week; he got the job done last week so the team should not lack confidence in him making plays.  Make no mistake, it is the Browns’ defense that stands out for the team.  I know this is a long ride for the Browns to get to the kickoff, but I really do like that defense to dig in and limit the Seahawks offense.  I’ll take the Browns plus the points; put that in the “Betting Bundle”.

Chiefs – 7 at Broncos (47):  If you like trends, here are two for you:

  • Patrick Mahomes has started 12 games against the Broncos.
  • In those games the Chiefs’ record is 12-0.

And …

  • Patrick Mahomes has started 16 games on the road against AFC West teams.
  • In those games, the Chiefs’ record is 16-0.

Give me the Chiefs to win and cover on the road; put that in the “Betting Bundle”.

Bengals at Niners – 4 (43.5):  The spread opened at 6.5 points and has been inching down over the course of the week; the Total Line opened at 45.5 points and dropped rather quickly to this level.  This is my Game of the Week.  The Niners have lost two in a row and need to right the ship; the Bengals continue to dig out of the early season hole they dug for themselves.  These are two very good teams, and both need this game.  The Niners will be without Deebo Samuel again and they really do need to give Christian McCaffrey a little breather at some point in this game; McCaffrey was on the field for all the offensive snaps last week.

Ravens – 9 at Cards (44.5):  The spread opened at 7.5 points and has been expanding slowly all week.  The Ravens look like a team with an eye on the AFC Championship Game; the Cards look like a team with an eye on a Top-5 Draft Pick next April.

(Sun Nite) Bears at Chargers – 9 (46):  This game came within a millimeter of being the Dog-Breath Game of the Week.  If you have followed the Bears’ fortunes this year, you know they can be awful or they can win by 3 scores depending on the phase of the moon.  If you have followed the Chargers’ fortunes this year, you know that their defense can keep any opponent in any game.  The two best things about this game as a nationally televised game are:

  1. Folks can see Tyson Bagent (rhymes with “agent”) play and root for a narrative like the one in the horrendous movie, Rudy.
  2. Folks can see Justin Herbert demonstrate to Bears’ fans how a QB named “Justin” should play QB in the NFL.

(Mon Nite) Raiders at Lions – 9 (46):  The Total Line opened the week at 44 points.  Both teams wet the bed last week (see above).  The Lions have the better roster and the better coach and the better QB – – even if Jimmy G. can start and finish this game.  I am tempted to take the Lions here but will resist that temptation.

So let me review the “Betting Bundle”:

  • Arizona +3.5 against Oregon St.
  • Iowa St – 2.5 over Baylor
  • Texans – 3 over Panthers
  • Browns +3.5 against Seahawks
  • Chiefs – 7 over Broncos.

Also here are two Money Line parlays – – one for college games and one for the NFL…

  • Tulane @ minus-400 (over Rice)
  • Air Force @ minus-425 (over Colorado St.)
  • Oklahoma @ minus-300 (over Kansas)
  • $100 wager to win $106

And …

  • Ravens @ minus-450
  • Chiefs @ minus-350
  • Texans @ minus-170
  • $100 wager to win $150

            Finally, let me close this out with these words of wisdom from UNC coach, Mack Brown:

“Most players don’t mind drug testing once they realize they don’t have to study for it.”

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



NBA News Today …

The NBA regular season has begun – – in case you had not noticed or cared.  You will be enticed into caring about early season games by the inaugural “In-Season Tournament” that will take place in November and December.  Far too many NBA regular season games have no energy; the players are trying to win, but they are not TRYING TO WIN all the time.  There is a completely different “vibe” in the regular season as opposed to the playoffs.  So, here is my criterion for getting seriously interested in the “In-Season Tournament”:

  • If the players care enough about it to create that “playoff urgency” in their participation, then I will pay “playoff attention” and I will invest “playoff interest” in the event.

If not …

I would like to post a list of five NBA players here and ask a question about the list:

  1. Giannis Antetokounmpo
  2. Luka Doncic
  3. Joel Embid
  4. Nikola Jocic
  5. Victor Wembanyama

What is striking about this list?  For me, the striking thing is that the first four entries on the list are certainly four of the Top Ten players in the league and the fifth player surely looks as if he will achieve that status soon.  AND all five of those players are foreign-born.  The reality in the world of basketball is that the US no longer has a monopoly on producing the best players.

Granted, the basketball talent pool here in the US is much deeper than in Europe or Africa where the five guys on my list come from, but the gap is narrowing as time goes on.  Consider the fate of this year’s US Men’s Team in the World Cup:

  • The US lost to Lithuania, Germany and finally to Canada in the “Bronze Medal Game”.

The World Cup Team this year featured NBA players; these were not college kids representing the USA.  Compare these results with those of the Dream Team in their foray into international basketball competition:

  • The Dream Team was 8-0 in their games
  • The average margin of victory was 44 points
  • The closest final score in that run was US 103 and Croatia 70.

The world is catching up with the US in basketball; that is not a lamentation; that is not a call to action; that is simply a fact.

Sticking with basketball items up for discussion, there was a surprising report earlier this week that Dwight Howard as part of a defense in a lawsuit against him admitted to “consensual sex” with a man but denied having another man dressed as a woman join them in a “forced threesome”.  Howard is just famous enough and the allegations here are just salacious enough to suggest that this story has legs – – and might provide more surprise headlines down the road.

I want to go on record here with my personal feelings about sexual activities and encounters.  I have done this before, but I want to be clear about my personal views in case this matter gets outrageous.  I have no problem with anyone engaging in sexual relations so long as five criteria are met:

  1. The act(s) are mutually consensual.
  2. The actors are both adults.
  3. The actors are not closely related.
  4. The actors are both alive.
  5. The actors are both of the same species.

In another ongoing saga involving a star NBA player, there have been reports that Ja Morant had been a “bad boy” more than once prior to his two gun toting incidents that got him an 8-game suspension for the first one and then a 25-game suspension that he is currently serving.  This report at CBSSports.com says that Morant has been somewhat of a “problem child” since he was signed by the Grizzlies.  Earlier incidents were “swept under the rug” by the team because of Morant’s value on the court.  Rather than trying to summarize the incidents, let me suggest you read the report for yourself; it is about a 5 minute read.

Two things in that report made me shake my head:

  1. The report is that Morant’s father took Ja Morant out drinking when Morant was still underage after he had signed with the Grizzlies.  I was never nominated for “Father of the Year”, but that seems way over the line to me.
  2. People have – supposedly – tried to use the stories of Allen Iverson and Steve Francis as cautionary tales in speaking with Morant.  And some folks say he was dismissive …

Ja Morant is an outstanding basketball talent.  However, he is now at a point where his off-the-court behavior has become a cautionary tale.  It just may not end well …

Finally, these words from former middleweight boxing champion, Rocky Graziano:

“I quit school in the sixth grade because of pneumonia. Not because I had it, but because I couldn’t spell it.”

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



Get Set For The World Series …

I don’t know about you, but back in March I did not have the Rangers/D-Backs as the participants in the 2023 World Series.  Congratulations to both teams.

  • The Rangers outlasted the Astros in the ALCS in a series that put the lie to Dorothy’s mantra in the Wizard of Oz.  Home teams did not fare well at all in that series; the visitor won all 7 games.
  • The D-Backs just kept grinding and somewhere between Game 5 and Game 6, the Phillies’ bats went AWOL.

Should be an interesting World Series starting Friday night in Texas …

Last week, reports said that Roger Goodell has signed a contract extension that will make him the NFL Commissioner through the end of the 2027 NFL season; he has been in that position since 2006.  Roger Goodell is not a “fan favorite”; there have been lots of times and lots of issues when a large measure of the public’s reaction to something or other has resulted in Goodell being the figurative punching bag.  It is almost as if he is the guy they put in the stocks in colonial times for screwing up something or other.  Reports say that in his current deal, he has made $63.7M annually – – and that number infuriates the people who “hate” Roger Goodell.

Make no mistake; I have disagreed with some of his decisions and his edicts over the years; I am not a “Goodell acolyte”.  Having said that, he deserves the contract extension and whatever salary is included in the deal – – presumably north of $63.7M per year.

Roger Goodell is employed by the 32 owners of the NFL teams; his job description does not really include “keeping fans happy all the time” as a key element of the job.  As I see it, he has 3 major roles to play:

  1. He is supposed to grow the business of the NFL
  2. He is supposed to be the ultimate arbiter in discipline cases involving players, teams and/or owners.
  3. He is to “take the heat” when fans get their dander up over something or other.  He is the buffer between owners and angry fans.

Let me look at those three things separately:

  • The NFL “business outlook” is rosy.  The latest round of media rights deals will bring in just under $110B after all of them run their course.  NFL games dominate TV ratings in the US and the game is growing overseas; London games sold out in less than a day when tix were made available last Spring.  The last two times a franchise changed hands, the price tags were $4.6B and then $6B.
  • He has been the league’s head disciplinarian for almost 20 years now and has had to “preside” over some dicey issues.  Lots of people “took sides” in matters involving Bountygate, Tom Brady, Spygate, Ray Rice, Colin Kaepernick, Ezekiel Elliott, Myles Garrett and Deshaun Watson; those are the ones that come off the top of my head; there have to have been hundreds of other discipline cases in his time on the job that generated far less agita than the one’s mentioned here.
  • He has been the one pilloried by some fan faction or activist group in lots of those matters acting as a human shield between angry people and the 32 owners who are the ones keeping him in their employ.

The bottom line here is that Roger Goodell is not expected to behave in ways that make fans happy; the NFL product is what makes fans happy.  So long as he grows the business and shields the owners from scorn, he is a success.  Remember, the owners are the ones paying him something north of $63.7M per year – – not the fans.

Another report from last week should provide some tangential benefit to the NFL in terms of “growing the fanbase”.  The IOC decided that flag football – – along with some other sports – – will be part of the 2028 Summer Games to be staged in LA.  Yes, I am aware that flag football is not NFL football, but the premise of the two games and the “strategies” of the two games are closely aligned.  Making this an Olympic sport can only bring flag football and NFL football greater exposure in various parts of the world where it is largely ignored today.

Are there areas of the world that meet these two criteria:

  1. There is a high standard of living there such that many folks have “disposable income” – – AND – –
  2. Folks there would “take to” American football if they were ever exposed to the product.

Putting the game in the Olympics could be a good way to find such areas of the world so that the NFL might slowly cultivate the interest there and begin to exploit it.  I think this is a decision that might provide a huge business benefit to the NFL – – as if it needed one.

There are some reports that say current NFL players want to be on the US Flag Football Team in 2028.  Of course, that is their right, but I do not think that is the best thing that could happen for the NFL from a business standpoint.  Yes, the NFL could field a “dream team” in 2028 and crush the other competitors.  Maybe that is not the best way to “introduce” the game to lots of folks around the world?  Whatever …

Finally, let me close today with an observation by former Notre Dame coach, Lou Holtz:

“If what you did yesterday seems big, you haven’t done anything today.”

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



Football Friday 10/20/23

“Anonymous” once said:

“Work begins on Monday.  Life begins on Friday.”

I like to think that unidentified cultural observer attributes some of the beginning of life on Friday to our Football Fridays.  But then I come back to Earth and realize that these are – – at best – – an acquired taste.  Enough prologue, let me get to a review of last week’s “Betting Bundle”:

College:  1-1-0  =>  Season:  6-6-0

NFL:  2-0-0   =>   Season:  9-3-0

Parlay:  1-0  => Profit = $106     Season: 6-3   =>  Profit: = $613


College Football Commentary:


            Congratulations to the Linfield College Wildcats; last week they beat George Fox University 41-13 giving them a record of 5-0 for the season.  As a Division 3 school, Linfield’s regular season schedule is only 9 games long and that means that Linfield will once again have a winning record in football – – as it has in every season since 1956.

People who analyze sports value “continuity” and/or “stability”.  The history of head football coaches at Linfield over the course of its streak of winning seasons only has 5 entries:

  1. Paul Durham – – 1948 – 1967
  2. Ad Rutschman – – 1968 – 1991  (Yes, he is Adley Rutschman’s grandfather.)
  3. Ed Langsdorf – – 1992 – 1995
  4. Jay Locey – – 1996 – 2005
  5. Joseph Smith – – 2006 – present.

This week, Linfield travels to Tacoma, WA to take on the Lumberjacks of the University of Puget Sound who will arrive at the kickoff with a 2-3 record for the year.  Go Wildcats!

New Mexico State football has not had nearly the success rate in terms of wining seasons as Linfield.  Consider these data for the Aggies since the 2000 season:

  • Three winning seasons – – in 2002, 2017 and 2022
  • Fifteen seasons with 3 or fewer wins

Jerry Kill took over the program in 2022 and immediately produced one of those rare winning seasons – – and a bowl game victory.  With a win over UTEP earlier this week, the Aggies are 5-3 and have another bowl bid clearly in sight.  If the Aggies have a winning record in 2023 – – making it two years in a row with a winning record – – that will be the first time that has happened in Las Cruces since 1968.

This is the second “turnaround” situation for Jerry Kill; before this he did something similar to Minnesota’s football fortunes.  Kill had to leave the Minnesota job for health reasons after suffering some seizures during his time there.  It is good to see him back on the sidelines in good health; the guy can coach football.

Some teams had bad fortune last week.  Georgia lost TE Brock Bowers for at least a month.  Bowers is an outstanding football player; I have said that I think Marvin Harrison, Jr. is the best WR and maybe the best college football player in the country at this time; Brock Bowers is not that far behind Messr. Harrison, Jr.  Bowers suffered an ankle injury against Vandy and needed a surgical intervention.  If Georgia makes the CFP and continues to chase a “three-peat” as National Champions, maybe Bowers will be back to his normal level of excellence for those CFP games.

Miami did not necessarily have bad fortune last week, but things did not come out well for the Hurricanes.  The team really needed a win after the shocking/embarrassing loss to Georgia Tech two weeks ago.  UNC did not cooperate beating the Hurricanes by 10 points in a game that was not nearly that close.  Miami was supposed to be a tough out this year; as of today, Miami is one of 4 ACC teams without a conference win; the other three are Syracuse, Virginia and Wake Forest.

The fortunes for the Air Force team are almost the direct opposite from Miami.  Air Force has quietly amassed a record of 6-0 to start the season and should be favored over the rest of its Mountain West opponents.  Prior to the season, Air Force was slotted as a mid-pack team in the MWC; now maybe Air Force should enter the discussion as the Group of 5 conference winners that get consideration for a New Year’s Day bowl slot.

Some comments on games from last weekend:

Stanford 46  Colorado 43 (2OT):  A major upset here; Colorado was minus-700 on the Money Line for this game.  The Buffaloes had things in hand, leading at halftime by 29 points.  The teams combined for 1056 yards of offense in the game.  Stanford WR, Elic Ayomanor caught 13 passes for 295 yards and 3 TDs in the game.  Colorado was penalized 17 times in the game; some of the blame for that has to be assessed on the coaching staff.  After scoring 4 TDs on their first 4 possessions in the first half, here are the Colorado possessions in the second half:

  • 9 plays – – 18 yards – – DOWNS
  • 5 plays – – 15 yards – – PUNT
  • 3 plays – – 9 yards – – PUNT
  • 9 plays – – 8 yards – – DOWNS
  • 4 plays – – 75 yards – – TOUCHDOWN
  • 6 plays – – 29 yards – – PUNT

During the week leading up to the game, Coach Sanders said that he hated late starting games.  This one did not start until 8:00 PM and Sanders made no bones about the fact that it was later than he wanted his team to be playing.  He never said it but maybe – – just maybe – – he worries that when the game is still in progress and the time is later than 11:00 PM, it is no longer “Prime Time” and he takes that personally.  Just a thought…

Washington 36  Oregon 33:  Both teams live on strong QB play.  Both Michael Penix and Bo Nix will be drafted into the NFL.  The teams combined for 931 yards of offense in the game with Oregon outgaining Washington by 101 yards.  Penix threw a TD pass in the final two minutes to give Washington the lead.  Oregon got the ball and tried a 43-yard field goal with time expiring and it missed.  This was a fun football game for fans.

Notre Dame 48  USC 20:  The Trojans’ defense held Notre Dame to 251  yards of total offense in the game; that stat does not normally fit with allowing the opponent to score 48 points.  The Irish intercepted Caleb Williams 3 times in the game; the Notre Dame defense had a Scoop-and-Score in the game, and the special teams scored a TD on a 99-yard kickoff return.  The Irish defense also recorded 11 tackles for a loss in the game.  The USC defense has been the subject of criticism so far this year; well, after watching this game, let me say that the Trojans’ OL is not all that special either.

Oregon St. 36  UCLA 24:  Oregon St. is 6-1 this year; their only loss was by 3 points to Washington St. four weeks ago.  It may be tough for Oregon St to win 10 games this year, but 9 wins is within reach.  UCLA narrowly won the stat-sheet contest here, but a Pick-Six and two other INTs by the Beavers’ defense led to this outcome.

In Big-12 games:

Houston 41  West Virginia 39:  This game is not particularly important but it is of note here because the two teams combined to score 42 points in the 4th quarter of the game.  The Total Line for the game was 49 points; at the end of the 3rd quarter, the teams had combined for 38 points; people who played UNDER still thought they might cash their tickets.  Then came the 4th quarter deluge …

K-State 38  Texas Tech 21:  K-State only led by 3 points at halftime but they pulled away in the second half for a comfortable win.  The stat sheet was very close with a slight tilt in favor of Texas Tech, but the State defense forced 3 turnovers in the game that were pivotal.  Freshman QB, Avery Johnson played the entire second half for K-State and had himself quite a day:

  • PASSING:  8 of 9 for 77 yards with 0 TDs and 0 INTs
  • RUSHING:  12 carries for 95 yards and 5 TDs

In ACC action:

Pitt 38  Louisville 21:  This shaped up to be a letdown game for the Cards after beating Notre Dame two weeks ago; and that is what materialized.    Whatever; this was Louisville’s first loss of the season.  The Cards outgained the Panthers by 128 yards in the game and they had 27 first downs to only 13 for Pitt.  But they also turned the ball over 3 times…

Florida St. 41  Syracuse 3:  The Seminoles continue to make their case as a CFP participant this year.  This was a dominant win; consider these stats:

  • Syracuse TOTAL offense = 261 yards
  • Florida St. PASSING offense = 344 yards.

Duke 24  NC St. 3:  NC State took the lead with a 57-yard field goal in the opening minutes of this game; then Duke pitched a shutout.  The stat sheet was dead even with State outgaining Duke by 4 yards for the day.  State was penalized 11 times in the game for 87 yards killing off several drives that had looked promising.  Duke is 5-1 for the season with Florida St., Louisville and UNC still to come in 2023.

UNC 41  Miami 31:  The Tar Heels remain unbeaten for the season; that was Miami’s second loss for the season.  There was not a lot of defense in this game; the teams combined for 990 yards of offense.  UNC WR, Tez Walker was released from NCAA transfer prison and played his first game for UNC.  Here were his results:

  • RECEIVING:  6 catches for 132 yards and 3 TDs
  • RUSHING:  2 carries for 20 yards and 0 TDs

Moving into SEC territory …

LSU 48  Auburn 18:  This was complete domination by LSU; the Tigers gained 563 yards on offense averaging 8.5 yards per offensive play.  In the SEC West standings, Alabama is still unbeaten in conference games; LSU has 1 loss and Ole Miss has 1 loss.  Auburn is now 0-3 in conference play; so, they are effectively eliminated from the SEC Championship Game.

Missouri 38  Kentucky 21:  Missouri has quietly posted a 6-1 record for the season; their only loss was to LSU three weeks ago.  Missouri only outgained Kentucky by 33 yards for the game but they won the turnover battle by 2 turnovers and Kentucky was penalized 14 times for 122 yards.  Those factors led to this final outcome.

Tennessee 20  Texas A&M 13:  Tennessee throttled the Aggies’ offense in the game allowing only 277 yards on offense.  The Aggies got a TD on their first possession but did not do much after that.  The Aggies led 10-7 at halftime but the Tennessee defense forced these outcomes on A&M’s possessions in the second half:

  • PUNT
  • PUNT
  • PUNT
  • INT
  • INT

Jimbo Fisher’s buyout number is more than $70M according to reports.  That probably keeps him safe from termination but any aspirations that Aggies’ fans had about the program becoming part of the college football elite have been thoroughly dashed.

Alabama 24  Arkansas 21:  Alabama was a 19-point favorite in the game and dominated the stat sheet if not the scoreboard outgaining Arkansas 414 yards to 250 yards.  Alabama leads the SEC West with an unblemished conference record but those wins have not been the dominant victories that ‘Bama fans have become accustomed to over the past several seasons.  In this game, Alabama went “three-and-out” three consecutive possessions in the late second half but held on to win.

And in the Big-10 …

Rutgers 27  Michigan St. 24:  Sparty led 24-6 as the fourth quarter began.  Michigan St. had the ball twice in the 4th quarter and went “three-and-out” both times using only 2:48 on the clock.  Rutgers recovered a fumble in the State end zone for a TD and then scored twice on two consecutive possessions in the 4th quarter to complete the comeback.  For the record, Rutgers will be bowl eligible with one more win …   [Aside:  Should I put Michigan State on the SHOE Tournament watch list …?}

Illinois 27  Maryland 24:  This is the second loss of the year for Maryland but the only very good team they played before this week was Ohio State and the Terps lost that game.  Illinois is not a powerhouse; so, what should Md fans make of the situation?  Well, the good news is that Maryland still has Northwestern, Nebraska and Rutgers on the schedule.  The bad news is that they also have Penn State and Michigan on the schedule.

Iowa 15  Wisconsin 6:  These are the two best teams in the Big-10 West this year.  That is a scary thought.  Iowa had 237 yards on offense and that meager number is inflated by one play where RB, Leshon Williams took a handoff and ran 82 yards for a TD.  Other than that scamper, Iowa ran 61 plays and gained 155 yards.  Iowa’s net passing offense for the game was 37 yards.  And Iowa won the game…

  • [Aside:  Checking to see Iowa’s standing with regard to the 25 points per game it needs for its Offensive Coordinator to keep his job, the Hawkeyes have scored 146 points in 7 games which translates to 20.9 points per game.]

In miscellaneous games …

UTEP 27  FIU 14:  This is the second win of the season for UTEP and might allow them to escape the SHOE Tournament this year…

James Madison 41  Georgia Southern 13:  JMU only outgained Ga Southern by 16 yards in the game but JMU produced 3 turnovers in the game that were pivotal; three JMU touchdown drives were shorter than 40 yards.  I said last week that these are probably the two best teams in the Sun Belt Conference.  This result puts JMU in the catbird seat for the conference championship.

North Texas 45  Temple 14:  North Texas had been giving up the most points per game in the country going into this contest – – just under 40 points per game.  The shock here is that the Mean Green defense pitched a shutout in the second half.  This makes 4 games in a row where Temple has given up 40+ points to an opponent.

Penn St. 63  UMass 0:  Shameful scheduling …

Checking in on my “watch list” for the imaginary SHOE Tournament here are a Baker’s Dozen teams to watch:

  • Akron, Ball St., Indiana, Kent St., Michigan St., Nevada, Temple, UConn, UMass, UNC-Charlotte, Vandy, Virginia and W. Michigan.

And just to keep up with teams in the running for the Brothel Defense Award for 2023:

  • UMass gives up 42.4 points per game  [UMass won this “award” in 2021]
  • Nevada gives up 39.5 points per game
  • So. Mississippi gives up 38.1 points per game.


College Games of Interest This Week:


Penn St. at Ohio St. – 4.5 (45.5):  This is the Game of the Week.  The winner will take a giant step forward in terms of CFP inclusion.  Penn St. is second in the nation in scoring defense; the Nittany Lions allow only 8 points per game.  Ohio St. is third in the nation in scoring defense; the Buckeyes allow only 9.7 points per game.  Neither team runs the ball all that well.  Penn St had best figure out how to double-cover Marvin Harrison Jr. on every snap.  I am so tempted to take the UNDER in this game…

  • [Aside:  No peeking now; these two teams rank second and third in the nation in scoring defense; so, what team is 4th in the nation in scoring defense this week allowing only 9.8 points per game?  Answer is below …]

Clemson – 3 at Miami (49):  Both teams have two conference losses so far in 2023.  The only teams with 3 conference losses in the ACC at this point of the season are Wake Forest and Syracuse.  Neither Clemson nor Miami wants to join that list …

BC at Georgia Tech – 5 (58):  Both teams are 3-3 so far in 2023.  The winner keeps bowl hopes alive …

USF – 1.5 at UConn (54.5):  SHOE Tournament implications here …

Michigan – 24 at Michigan St. (48):  State blew a big lead to Rutgers last week in a come from ahead loss (see above).  They will not get a big lead this week, so they need not worry about blowing one again.

Duke at Florida St. – 13.5 (49):  The Total Line opened the week at 54 points; it did not stay there long.  The Seminoles are 6-0 for the season and 4-0 in conference games.  Duke is 5-1 for the season and 2-0 in conference games.

  • [Answer to question above:  Duke is currently fourth in the nation in scoring defense allowing only 9.8 points per game.]

Rutgers – 5 at Indiana (40):  It has been two years since Indiana won a Big-10 game …  Rutgers is 5-2 so far this year; if they win this they will be bowl eligible before Halloween arrives.

UNC-Charlotte at E. Carolina – 7 (40):  SHOE Tournament implications here …

Air Force – 10.5 at Navy (34.5):  Undefeated Air Force has the Commander in Chief trophy from last year and wants to retain possession.  Air Force currently leads the nation in rushing offense averaging 334.17 yards per game.  Navy is no slouch running the ball; the Middies are fifth in the nation in rushing offense at 235.67 yards per game.

Minnesota at Iowa – 4 (31.5):  I do not ever recall seeing a college game with a Total Line this low since the days of Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler and Murray Warmath.

And speaking of Murray Warmath, here is one of his coaching observations:

“If lessons are learned in defeat, our team is getting a great education.”

UCLA – 17 at Stanford (53.5):  The oddsmakers seem not to be very impressed by Stanford’s huge comeback win over Colorado last week …

Arizona St. at Washington – 27.5 (60):  This might be a letdown game for the Huskies after an emotional win over Oregon last week (see above).  That spread is just a beep under 4 full TDs; this is a scary betting proposition.

Washington St. at Oregon – 20 (63):  Oregon is in the same boat as Washington coming off a game where they spent a lot of emotional energy – – and now the oddsmakers are asking them to win by almost 3 full TDs.  Washington St. seems to have forgotten how to score.  After posting 183 points in their first 4 games (Do the math.), the Cougars have only scored 23 points in their last 2 games.  Oregon’s defense is solid, and the Washington St. defense is OK.  I don’t see where that 64th point is coming from; so, I like the game to stay UNDER; put that in the “Betting Bundle”.

Utah at USC – 7.5 (54):  The Total Line opened the week at 61 points and has dropped steadily to this level; I will not be surprised if it goes even lower.  When Utah wins, it is with its defense.  When USC loses, it is with its defense.  I think Notre Dame exposed the USC OL to the point that Utah can figure out how to exploit that.  I don’t think Utah can win this game outright, but I do think they will keep it very close; give me Utah plus the points; put that in the “Betting Bundle”.

TCU at K-State – 6 (59):  TCU has two conference losses already; a third loss will effectively remove it from consideration for the Big-12 Championship Game.  K-State has one conference loss as do 4 other Big-12 teams who are in pursuit of Oklahoma which is undefeated in 2023.

Tennessee at Alabama – 8 (48):  The Vols have a conference loss already but if they win out – – meaning a win here and then a win over Georgia on November 18th – they will be in the SEC Championship Game.  A loss here would put a severe crimp in those plans.  Meanwhile Alabama has a one-game lead in the SEC West over LSU and Ole Miss; Nick Saban would not be happy to relinquish that.  Last year, Tennessee beat Alabama in Knoxville in a shoot-out, 52-49.  Is this a “revenge game”?  Here is an angle to consider:

  • Tennessee has only played one road game so far this year.  They were a road favorite in that game at Florida and lost 29-16.
  • By the way, Florida is a mediocre team and ‘Bama is not.

South Carolina at Missouri – 6.5 (60):  Missouri has only lost once this year – – a 10-point loss to LSU.  S. Carolina is not a bad team, but they are not a very good team either.  I like Missouri at home to win and cover; put that in the “Betting Bundle”.


NFL Commentary:


Let me just throw this out there for consideration.  Regarding the situation with the 2023 Denver Broncos, is it possible that two things are both true at the same time:

  1. The Seattle Seahawks went to two Super Bowl Games and won one of them with Russell Wilson as their QB but not because Russell Wilson was their QB.    AND …
  2. QB, Drew Brees, was the main reason the Saints were so good under Sean Payton and perhaps Sean Payton is overrated as a coach.

I bring this up because I think too many people have taken sides in this matter.  When that happens both sides place the blame on “the other side”.  I have purposely made the two statements above polarizing and negative because I want to suggest here that the Broncos’ problems in 2023 just may be “the fault” of lots of folks and not a single individual.

Rather than assess blame here, I have tried to figure out how the Broncos can make this better – – and I do not see a clear path to making that happen in the near term.  Let me outline my thinking:

  • Given Wilson’s performance last year and this year, it is difficult for me to envision that he will reinvent himself and become a Pro Bowl QB once again in 2024.  That is not an impossible situation, but I think it is highly unlikely; I believe that Wilson’s career arc is on a downward trajectory.
  • If my belief is correct, then the Broncos will need to “move on” from Russell Wilson as their QB and find a “new guy”.  That “new guy” would probably have to come via the Draft for two reasons:
      1. The Broncos do not have a ton of Draft capital to offer to another team to acquire a franchise QB in a trade.
      2. Even if they could pry such a QB away from his current team, the Broncos would be in Salary Cap Hell paying an established franchise QB from somewhere else PLUS taking the cap hit from releasing Wilson.

I am NOT an “NFL Salary Capologist”, but if I understand the published terms of Russell Wilson’s deal with the Broncos, he will cost them a ton of cap room as “dead money” if/when he is released.  Let me do a reset:

  • When the Broncos acquired Wilson in a trade, they also signed him to a massive contract extension that could be worth up to $245M if all the options and incentives were to come to pass.  The extension averages out to $49M per year.
  • The word “extension” is important here.  Wilson was already under contract; this new deal would kick in after the existing contract would have expired.  Russell Wilson’s contract with the extension now runs through the end of the 2028 NFL season.
  • The extension had $125M fully guaranteed and another $40M worth of “guarantees” once certain other things happened.  This is where I get in over my head in the contract analysis; but using reported figures, Wilson’s cap number for 2024 will be $35.5M because his fully guaranteed money has been prorated across the life of the contract.
  • However, if he is released, all of that proration collapses into a current year and if my calculations are correct, that means he will count as a “dead money” charge to the Broncos’ cap in 2024 to the tune of $35.5M and then in 2025 when all the guarantees accelerate into the accounting, he will cost the Broncos about $50M in “dead money”.  [Aside: “Dead money” is a charge against the salary cap of a team attributed to a player no longer on the team.  It is an accounting measure.]

Since I am not a “Capologist”, my numbers may be incorrect – – but Wilson’s burden on the Broncos’ cap over the next couple of years should he be released is not going to be “three easy payments of $39.95”.  So, carrying Wilson on the books for cap purposes plus paying an existing free agent QB and incurring that cap number would seem to be impossible without gutting the rest of the Broncos’ roster.

For those folks who believe that “Wilson is the problem” and “Payton will fix things once Wilson is gone”, those conclusions may be correct.  However, giving Payton the resources to “fix things” may take a while.  I think the Broncos’ are in for a couple of years of rough sledding …

Now, let me throw out one more thing for consideration:

  • What’s up with Josh Jacobs?

He has been in the NFL since 2019.  In the first 4 years in the league, he averaged 1185 yards rushing per season; he went to the Pro Bowl twice and was an All-Pro once.  Last season, Jacobs led the NFL in rushing (1653 yards or 97.2 yards per game); he averaged 4.9 yards per carry.

This year – – after 6 games – – here are Jacobs’ comparison stats:

  • 312 yards total – 52.0 yards per game
  • 2.9 yards per carry.

The Raiders’ OL is not a good unit, but the Raiders’ OL last season was not a good unit either.  This decline in production is strange …

Just an update here on a potential record breaking stat:

  • Commanders’ QB, Sam Howell has been sacked 34 times in 6 games.  That projects to 99 sacks over the course of the 2023 season.
  • The NFL record is 76 sacks in a season.

I have said this before; I want to say it again.  The Detroit Lions are a very good football team.  The last time the Lions were NFL Champions was back in 1957 which is not only prior to the existence of the Super Bowl, it predates the existence of the American Football League.  The Soviet Union launched Sputnik in 1957 kicking off the great “Space Race”.

The Lions provided an interesting twist to the 1957 season.  As the team was in Training Camp and playing through the six-game exhibition schedule, Buddy Parker was their coach.  Parker was a two-time NFL Champion coach with the Lions in the 1950s; there seemed to be little drama associated with the Lions.

Then, at a luncheon held to cheer the team on in the upcoming season, Parker told everyone in attendance that there was an organizational problem he could not fix, and he quit on the spot.  Notwithstanding that surprise, the Lions then went on to win an NFL title.

The Lions have been a mess for most of the time since 1957.  When Dan Jenkins wrote one of his novels concocting a scenario where an expansion team made it to the Super Bowl, Jenkins doubled down on the insanity of that happenstance and made it so the Lions were the opponent of – – and the loser to – – the expansion team.  I don’t know if the Lions are destined for the Super Bowl in February 2024, but this is a very good Detroit Lions team.  They should not be underestimated because of the futility of previous versions of the team.

Let me move on to comments on last week’s games:

Ravens 24 Titans 16:  I missed the first half of this game but caught the second half.  What a slog!  If you are a student of placekicking, this was the game for you.  The Ravens kicked 6 field goals and the Titans kicked 3 field goals plus a PAT.  If you like punting, this game was also entertaining as the two teams combined to punt the ball 8 times.  This game put the “foot” back in “football”.

Dolphins 42  Panthers 21:  At the end of the first quarter, the Panthers led 14-0.  Then the Dolphins scored 35 unanswered points.  Ho-hum …  Tua Tagovailoa had a big day producing this stat line:

  • 21 of 31 for 262 yards and 3 TDs with 0 INTs

It is easy to point fingers at Panthers’ QB, Bryce Young as the overall #1 pick who is not leading the team to glory in 2023.  However, before you get too deep in that set of beliefs, consider this other Panthers’ stat for the season:

  • Panthers; opponents are 9-for-9 in Red Zone possessions in the last two games.

Vikes 19  Bears 13:  The Bears outgained the Vikes by 55 yards and the Bears had the ball for more than 35 minutes in the game – – and they lost.  The margin of victory here was provided by a Vikings’ Scoop-and-Score in the third quarter.  Justin Fields left the game in the third quarter with an injury to the thumb on his throwing hand and did not return to action; he was replaced by Tyson Bagent.  If you do not recognize that name, join the chorus; Bagent spent his college career at Shepherd University – – a Division 2 school.

Jags 37  Colts 20:  The Colts dominated the stat sheet but not the scoreboard:

  • Colts’ offense = 354 yards
  • Jags’ offense = 233 yards

The difference in the game was Gardner Minshew turning the ball over 4 times (3 INTs and a lost fumble).  Jonathan Taylor was not really a factor in the game; he ran eight times for 19 yards, a slightly increased workload from his season debut a week earlier. He also caught five passes for 46 yards.

Texans 20  Saints 13:  The Saints outgained the Texans in the game by 133 yards and the Saints had the ball in the Red Zone twice in the final six minutes of the game trailing by 7 points.  Those two incursions produced nada – – a missed field goal and then an INT that virtually ended the game.

Bengals 17  Seahawks 13:  The Seahawks got a TD on their first possession and it looked as if they were going to dominate the game.  The Seahawks moved the ball well but did not produce points with the ball movement:

  • Seahawks’ total offense = 381 yards
  • Bengals’ total offense – 214 yards.

The Seahawks had the ball inside the Bengals 10-yardline twice in the final three minutes of the game and turned the ball over on downs both times.  The Bengals get a week off now to prepare for the Niners next week.

Browns 19  Niners 17:  Not only did Brock Purdy look mortal in this game, there were a half-dozen plays where he looked downright mediocre.  Here is his stat line for the game:

  • 12 of 27 for 125 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT.

The Browns’ QB – – PJ Walker – – did not shine either throwing two very bad INTs in the game.  This was a showcase for both defenses.  People knew that Niners’ defense was really good; now they should know the Browns’ defense is really good too.

Raiders 21  Pats 17:  No, the Raiders did not score 3 TDs last week, those 21 points came on 1 TD with a PAT, 3 field goals and a safety.  You can never jump to conclusions with the Raiders.  The Patriots scored with about 3 minutes to play in the game bringing them to within 2 points of the Raiders.  Then the Pats’ defense forced a punt and the possibility of a drive for a winning field goal was under serious consideration.  That is when Maxx Crosby and company sealed the game by tackling Mac Jones in the end zone for a safety.

Commanders 24  Falcons 16:  Check this out:

  • Falcons’ offense = 402 yards
  • Commanders’ offense = 193 yards.

And …

  • Falcons time of possession = 36:23
  • Commanders’ time of possession = 23:37

And …

  • Falcons’ first downs = 25
  • Commanders’ first downs = 13

Now go back and look at the final score again.  The Commanders intercepted Desmond Ridder 3 times in the second half to seal the deal.

Rams 26  Cards 9:  The Rams ran Kyren Williams 20 times for 158 yards and 1 TD in this game.  The Cards led 9-5 at the half but were squashed in the second half as the Rams fed  Williams over and over.

Lions 20  Bucs 6:  Let me remind you that the Lions are really good; on a day when their offense was inefficient, the Lions’ defense just took control of the game.  Here is what I mean by an “inefficient offense”:

  • Lions’ total offense = 380 yards
  • Lions’ time of possession = 36:30
  • Lions’ third-down conversions = 9 of 16
  • Lions’ total points in the game = 20 points.

Here is what I mean by a “throttling defense”.  The Bucs were only 2 of 12 on third down conversions in the game.

Jets 20  Eagles 14:  The Jets were simply the better team on the field; they shut the Eagles out for the entire second half.  The Eagles led 14-3 with 5 minutes left in the first half.  After that, here are the Eagles possessions:

  • 3 plays – – 32 yards – – LOST FUMBLE
  • 6 plays – – 27 yards – – PUNT
  • 3 plays – – 4 yards – – PUNT
  • 5 plays – – 33 yards – – INT
  • 9 plays – – 63 yards – – MISSED FIELD GOAL
  • 8 plays – – 26 yards – – INT
  • 4 plays – – 2 yards – – DOWNS

The Eagles turned the ball over 4 times in the game and the Jets did not turn it over at all.

Bills 14  Giants 9:  The Bills scored all of their points in the 4th quarter to come from behind to win this game.  The Giants had the ball on the Bills’ 1-yardline as time expired in the first half – – and got no points; the Giants had the ball on the Bills’ 1-yardline in an untimed down after the clock had run down to 0:00 – – and got no points.  The football gods did not want the Giants to win this game.  Josh Allen connected with Stefon Diggs 10 times for 100 yards and the Bills’ defense had nine tackles for loss in the game.  This is the third time this season that the Giants have failed to score a TD in a game.


Games This Week:


This week is a truncated NFL schedule because six teams are on their BYE Week:

  1. Bengals:  At 3-3, the Bengals are in last place in the AFC North for now and can use this week to prepare for the Niners next week.
  2. Cowboys:  At 4-2, the Cowboys have looked like world-beaters in their four wins and have looked marginally competent in their two losses.  They can use this week to figure out who they are.
  3. Jets:  At 3-3, the Jets are in the middle of the AFC wildcard race and are only two games behind the Dolphins in the AFC East – – plus their next three games look very winnable.
  4. Panthers:  At 0-6, the Panthers are the only winless team in the league …
  5. Texans:  At 3-3, the Texans are only one game behind the Jags in the AFC South race.  They are one of the biggest surprises of this NFL season.
  6. Titans:  At 2-4, they are in last place in the AFC South and are winless on the road so far in 2023.

Falcons at Bucs – 2.5 (37):  The Total Line opened the week at 40 points and dropped quickly to this level.  Both teams lost last week; the Bucs lost to the Lions and the Falcons lost to the Commanders.  Here is an interesting stat I ran across:

  • Falcons’ QB, Desmond Ridder, has never won a road game in his career.

Meanwhile, the Bucs are 3-2 on the year – – and both losses have come at home.  Something has got to give …

Raiders – 3 at Bears (37.5):  The spread opened at 1 point and rose to this level in mid-week; my guess is that was in response to news that Justin Fields’ thumb injury might force the Bears to start Tyson Bagent at QB.

  • [Aside:  Imagine if Bagent starts and lights it up and wins the game.  There are already more than a few folks ready to cut the chord on Justin Fields.  Could be fun times …]

Meanwhile, the Raiders will need to start one of their backup QBs too; reports say Jimmy G is out for this week.  So, is it going to be Bryan Hoyer or Aiden O’Connell?  The biggest difference in this game is the Raiders’ defense is better than the Bears’ defense.

Browns – 2 at Colts (40.5):  The Browns’ defense won last week’s game against the Niners.  PJ Walker was the QB for the Browns and the stats show that as a win for him as a starting QB which is misleading at best.  Meanwhile, Gardner Minshew was awful last week against a good Jags’ defense.  This week, the Colts face an even better defense and Walker has another game under his belt.  I like the Browns to win and cover on the road; put that in the “Betting Bundle”.

Lions at Ravens – 3 (43):  This game would have been my Game of the Week had it not been for the Dolphins/Eagles game later on the card.  The Lions lead their division comfortably; the Ravens have a half-game lead in their division.  This is the second road game in a row for the Lions; the Ravens had to return home from a London game last week.  Jared Goff has produced this cumulative stat line for the Lions in 2023:

  • 141 of 203 for 1618 yards with 11 TDs and 3 INTs.

This week, the Lions face the second-ranked pass defense in the NFL which only gives up 163.2 yards per game.

Bills – 9 at Pats (41):  The Pats’ defense is good, but they are not going to hold the Bills to 15 points or so.  The Pats’ offense is not good, and they are not going to score more than 17 points or so.  This looks like a lopsided contest to me.

Commanders – 2.5 at Giants (39):  This game came within a whisker of being the Dog-Breath Game of the Week.  The Commanders – – under whatever nickname you have ever used for the franchise – – tend not to play well in the Meadowlands.  The Giants are a pure hot mess, and it is not clear who will start at QB for them.  It may not matter because the Commanders’ DL should dominate the Giants’ OL and give the incumbent Giants’ QB lots of trouble.  The same should be the case when the Commanders have the ball.  The team that makes the fewer mistakes should win this one.

Cards at Seahawks – 7.5 (44):  The Total Line was originally at 47 points.  The Cards have lost their last 3 games badly – – by 19 points, 14 points and 15 points.  The Seahawks lost last week with a listless performance against the Bengals (see above).  The Seahawks need this game for positioning in the standings; the Cards need this game just for pride.

Steelers at Rams – 3 (44):  It’s hard to figure either of these teams; the only constant would be that when the Steelers win, it is because of their defense and not because of their offense.  Matthew Stafford is enjoying the luxury of now having two top-shelf targets to throw to in Cooper Kupp (back from injury) and rookie sensation Puka Nacua.

Chargers at Chiefs – 5 (47.5):  The Total Line opened at 52 points and has slowly eroded to this level as the week wears on.  The Chiefs have had 10 days to prep for this game and they will face a Chargers’ pass defense that is allowing almost 290 yards per game on average.  Meanwhile, the Chargers come off a short week having played on Monday night last weekend.  I think the Total Line has moved in the wrong direction; I like the game to go OVER; put that in the “Betting Bundle”.

Packers – 1 at Broncos (45):  Say “Hello” to the Dog-Breath Game of the Week.  The Broncos make a tire fire look appealing.  The Packers had a BYE last week but were miserable in their last outing against the Raiders two weeks ago.  I will bet against the tire fire here; believe it or not, I will take the Packers on the road to win and cover; put that in the “Betting Bundle”.

(Sun Nite) Dolphins at Eagles – 2.5 (51):  This is clearly the Game of the Week.  The Dolphins average 37.2 points per game.  Even if you throw out that 70-point outburst earlier this year, the Dolphins average 30.6 points per game.  The Eagles’ defense is allowing only 20.6 points per game.  That is the matchup that will decide the winner of the game.  More specifically, the question is:

  • Can the Eagles’ defense pressure the QB enough to throw the Dolphins passing game off rhythm?

The Dolphins average 316.8 yards per game through the air which is 53 yards per game more than the second-best passing offense this year.

(Mon Nite) Niners – 7 at Vikes (44):  The Total Line opened at 47 points.  The most explosive offensive players on the Niners are Christian McCaffrey and Deebo Samuel; both of them left last week’s game against the Browns with injuries.  Not knowing their status means I will pass on playing this game even though I am no fan of the Vikes without Justin Jefferson on the field.

So let me recap the “Betting Bundle” for this week:

  • Oregon/Washington St.  UNDER 63
  • Utah +7.5 against USC
  • Missouri – 6.5 over S. Carolina
  • Browns – 2 over Colts
  • Chargers/Chiefs  OVER 47.5
  • Packers – 1 over Broncos.

And here are two Money Line Parlays for this weekend:

  • Lions @ +135
  • Chiefs @ minus- 235
  • $100 wager to win $235

And ,,,

  • Bills @ minus-360
  • Seahawks 2 minus-350
  • Chiefs @ minus 235
  • $100 wager to win $134

Finally, I’ll close this out with an observation by former Georgia football coach, Wally Butts:

“In Alabama, an atheist is someone who does not believe in Bear Bryant.”

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



Rest In Peace, Suzanne Somers

Suzanne Somers died earlier this week.  She played the role of the “dumb blonde” on television; but in reality, she was sharp as a tack.  In addition to acting, she was an author and entrepreneur.  I wonder if – – ten years from now – – she will be most remembered for her role on the TV sit-com, Three’s Company or for her thigh master commercials.

Rest in peace, Suzanne Somers.

A couple of days ago, I got an email from the “reader in Houston”; naturally, I assumed that I had misstated a stat in a recent rant or possibly had ignored a historical comparison.  When I opened it however, it was a gentle reminder that I had not yet done my “annual MLB Spotrac Injury List Summary.”  So, here we go …

When MLB players sign their contracts, those deals are guaranteed in the event of injury; that means when a player goes on the Injured List (IL) he still gets paid as if he were out on the field day after day.  Over the course of a season lots of players show up in the IL for varying lengths of time and MLB owners continue to shell out despite the unavailability of the players.  Spotrac.com tracks players that go on and off the IL and by going over their list, you can find some interesting facts.  Start with the ”Big Picture”; in 2023:

  • At some point in the season 678 different players were on IL.  That is an average of 22.3 players on IL per team.
  • Those 678 players spent a total of 45,033 days on IL.  So, the average player on IL spent 66.4 days there.
  • Of the 678 players to show up on IL, 141 players went on IL and came back only to be placed on IL a second time in 2023.
  • Of the 678 players to show up on IL,17 players were on IL three different times.
  • Of the 678 players to show up on IL, 1 player (Brandon Crawford) appeared on the list four different times.
  • The total salary paid out to players on IL during the 2023 season was $965,686,146.  Therefore, the average player on IL earned $1.42M while on the IL.

The player who collected the most salary while on IL this year was Stephen Strasburg (Nats).  He was on the list for the entire season (186 days) and collected $34,999,992.

Nineteen players were paid $10M or more while they spent time on the IL this year.

The player who collected the least salary while on IL this year was Dallas Keuchel (Twins).  He was on the list for 1 day and collected $3,871.

  • [Aside:  Three players are on Spotrac’s list for spending time on the IL but according to the database, they did not collect any salary while there.  I do not know why that is the case but that is the entry in the database.]

Twenty-three players were paid $40K or less while they spent time on the IL this year.

  • [Aside:  Many people are concerned with income inequality in society these days; MLB salaries have a huge amount of income inequality as some data here show.]

One player, Max Stassi (Angels) was on the IL for 201 days which is longer than the MLB regular season, I suppose he was injured in the offseason and put on the list before the season started.

Forty-five players spent 186 days (the entire length of the MLB season) on the IL.  One player, Frankie Montas (Yankees) was on the IL for 185 days.  He was there on 3/30/2023 when the season began and came off the list on 9/30/23 – – the day before the season ended.

Looking at team stats relative to the IL:

  • The Angels put 35 different players on IL at some point in the season – – most in MLB.
  • The Astros put only 13 players on IL at some point in the season – – least in MLB.
  • The Yankees paid the most money to players on the IL.  The Yankees had 28 players on IL at some point and paid those players $82,093,459.
  • The Guardians paid the least money to players on the IL.  The Guardians had 15 players on IL at some point and paid those players $9,479,905.
  • The Dodgers lost the most service time by players on the IL.  The Dodgers had 29 players on IL at some point and lost a total of 2,470 days of playing time – – most in MLB.
  • The Guardians lost the least service time by players on the IL.  The Guardians had 15 players on IL at some point and lost a total of 703 days of playing time – – least in MLB.

So, if you enjoyed this plunge into MLB injury and financial data, thank the “reader in Houston”.  If you did not enjoy it, be thankful you can simply hit the delete button and move on with your life.  It’s all good …

Finally, I’ll close today with this definition provided by humorist, S. J. Perelman:

“A farm is an irregular patch of nettles bounded by short-term notes, containing a fool and his wife who didn’t know enough to stay in the city.”

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



Some MLB Free Agents This Year …

As the MLB playoffs progress, let me look ahead just a bit to take a quick look at some of the potential excitement in this year’s MLB free agency.  I need not mention that Shohei Ohtani will be a free agent and will be the most coveted free agent out there.  There will be ample sources of information and speculation about where Ohtani could or should sign – – so I will leave that topic to others.  I want to look at nine other free agents and where they might wind up.

  1. Cody Belinger – – OF/1B:  His career has been a yo-yo.  He has been Rookie of the Year and an NL MVP.  He also stunk out the joint from 2020 to 2022 such that the Dodgers just let him go.  Last year with the Cubs he rediscovered his hitting stroke with a batting average of .307 and an OPS of .881.  I think the Cubs will work hard to re-sign him.
  2. Jeimer Candelario — – INF:  His value is as a utility player who routinely plays first base of third base but could fill in at second base or shortstop.  The question here is how much a team will want to pay for an 8-year veteran whose career batting average is .243.
  3. Josh Hader – – LHP:  As far as I am concerned, he is the best relief pitcher that I believe will be on the market this winter.  He is a 5-time All-Star and even though he is 30 years old, he only has 388.2 innings of work on his left arm.  I think the big-spending clubs will be in on the bidding here.
  4. Rhys Hoskins – – 1B:  He missed all of 2023 with an ACL tear that required surgical repair.  The good news is that he has a career OPS of .864; the bad news – along with that knee injury – is that he will be 31 years old next season.
  5. Clayton Kershaw – – LHP:  His workload has shrunk considerably.  He has not started 25 games in a season since 2019 and his innings pitched average out at 127 innings over the last 3 seasons.  He will be 36 years old but when he pitches, he often pitches well.  My guess is that he goes back to the Dodgers on yet another 1-year contract.
  6. Aaron Nola – – RHP:  Is he the most coveted MLB veteran pitcher – – or is Blake Snell?
  7. Blake Snell – – LHP:  Is he the most coveted MLB veteran pitcher – – or is Aaron Nola?
  8. Justin Turner – – INF/DH:  He will be 39 years old next season; if he signs somewhere, look for it to be a 1-year deal maybe with a club option for a second season.  This may be the end of the line for Turner in MLB …
  9. Yoshi Yamamoto – – RHP:  Yes, his accomplishments have been in the Japanese League but those accomplishments have been prodigious.  He has won the Tiple Crown in the Japanese League twice and has had the lowest ERA in the league 3 times.  He is only 25 years old, and I will be shocked if he signs with any team not recognized as one of MLB’s “big spenders”.

            Moving on …  For about the last year or so, there have been dozens of reports saying that Manchester United of the English Premier League might be for sale.  The team’s fans fondly wished for that to be the case; there has not been an abundance of bonding between Man U fans and the Glazer family since Malcom Glazer bought the team in 2005.  Malcom Glazer passed in 2014 but the relationship has not warmed even slightly between the fans and the next generation of Glazers.  So, there was hope among the fans that someone not named Glazer would soon be in charge of the club.

The latest reporting is not going to make every Man U fan happy.  According to a report last week, Sir Jim Ratcliffe is in line to buy a 25% stake in the team for a reported $1.6B.  From the fans’ perspective, that is not a controlling position which means the Glazers will still be in sight and in charge.  Reporters and analysts say that this is a first step in a process that will eventually have Sir Jim owning the entire club sometime down the road.  I have no idea if that is his thinking and/or if that is part of the Glazers’ thinking, but that seems to be the narrative out there today.

As of this morning, Man U is in 10th place in the English Premier League; for now, they are not nearly in danger of relegation, but they are also 8 full points behind Tottenham and Arsenal who lead the EPL for the moment.  Man U fans might – – I said might – – look fondly upon the Glazers as club owners if the standings looked very different, but with Man U sitting in the middle of the table and not being a key figure in the league outcome, the fans’ displeasure is simply magnified.

Up to now, I have been peeking into the EPL newsfeed to follow two teams just because I find them interesting in 2024:

  • Everton sits in 16th place in the 20-team EPL.  This is interesting to me because it was in 1951 when Everton was last relegated to a league below the top level of English football.  This morning, Everton has 7 points in 8 games; the relegation level this morning is 4 points in 8 games.
  • Luton Town sits in 17th place in the 20-team EPL.  Luton Town had been relegated sequentially out of the multiple tiers of English professional football leagues; and then, over the past 10-15 years has clawed its way back to the top tier of English football.  Can they stay there?  Well, this morning they have 4 points in 8 games and would only escape relegation based on goal differential with Burnley who also have 4 points in 8 games.

            Given the potential sale of Man U, perhaps I will look at EPL news for three teams as this season progresses …

Finally, here is a brief observation from George Bernard Shaw:

“The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it.”

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



The MLB Playoffs

Today, let me catch up with the MLB Playoffs.  In the National League, the D-Backs swept the Dodgers which led lots of commentators to conclude that the expanded MLB Playoffs have “devalued the regular season”.  Their reasoning went along these lines:

  • The Dodgers won 100 games in the regular season and the D-Backs squeezed into the final expanded playoff slot with a modest 84-78 record.
  • Then in a spasm of lethargy, the Dodgers were eliminated from the playoffs and summarily shunted to the sidelines.
  • Somehow, these commentators seem to think that the Dodgers’ elimination somehow deprives baseball fans of something that is critical to the fans’ enjoyment of the Playoffs.

First, regarding any sort of “deprivation”, I think that is nonsense.  Yes, every Dodgers’ fan feels “deprived” of a chance to continue to have their heroes compete for a World Series Championship.  Such is not the case for D-Backs’ fans or for fans of baseball in general.

Winning 100 or more games in the regular season is a laudatory accomplishment and the Dodgers have now done that three years in a row.  Winning 100 or more games will guarantee a team a slot in the Playoffs – – but nothing more.  The Dodgers have not won a World Series in any of those last three years with their 100+ regular season wins – – and that’s OK.

In the other NL bracket, the Phillies eliminated the Braves for the second year in a row.  And like the Dodgers, the Braves had a significantly better regular season than the Phillies.  The Braves won 104 games and finished 14 games ahead of the Phillies in the NL East standings.  Sure, I would have enjoyed watching the Dodgers and the Braves duke it out for the NL’s pennant and World Series entry.  But that was simply not to be in 2023 …

If I have counted correctly:

  • Since 2011, there have been 23 teams to win 100+ games in the MLB regular season.
  • Seven of those teams have made it to the World Series.
  • Five have won the World Series
  • Sixteen of those teams have been eliminated from the playoffs on the way to the league pennant.
  • What happened to the Braves and the Dodgers – – and the Orioles in the AL – – this year is not unheard of.

Last night in Game 1 of the D-Backs/Phillies series, the Phillies hit three home runs in the first two innings and went on to win the game 5-3.  Two of those homeruns came in the bottom of the first inning and neither one was a fluke; you knew those balls were going over the fence as soon as they left the bat.

In the AL playoffs, the “upstart” Rangers bounced the 101-win Orioles from the playoffs in a sweep and the Astros eliminated the Twins in a business-like manner.  The Astros and Rangers finished the regular season with identical records of 90-72.  However, the Rangers have now won the first two games of the series with both games having been in Houston.  If you believe in “home field advantage”, the Rangers are clearly in the catbird seat as of this morning.

Orioles’ fans, Braves’ fans and Dodgers’ fans can lament the hand that was dealt to their favorites – – as they should.  Nevertheless, I and others who are fans of baseball as a sport can adapt, turn the page, sit back, and watch/enjoy the Rangers, Astros, D-Backs and Phillies carry on.

Switching gears …  The White Sox and the Red Sox had disappointing years in 2023 and both teams fired their GMs during the season.  When teams disappoint on the field, it is often the case that the GM and/or the field manager gets the axe; such is life in MLB.  However, this year there is a “surprise opening” in one of the GM suites.

  • The Miami Marlins finished third in the NL East and made the NL playoffs.  The Marlins finished ahead of the free-spending Mets and the still-rebuilding Nats.
  • Yesterday, it was announced that the Marlins and their GM. Kim Ng, have come to a parting of the ways.  There was a “mutual option clause” in Ms. Ng’s contract that the Marlins exercised, but she declined the extension on her end of the deal.

Kim Ng is the highest-ranking female executive in MLB’s history; her team just made the playoffs with a young roster and she – reportedly – walked away from the job.  Seems strange at first but there are some reports out there saying that her reason was that she was going to be “downgraded” in Miami.  According to those reports, the team wants to hire a team president to whom the GM would report starting in 2024.

Obviously, I have no insight into the negotiations in Miami; but it seems to me that the Marlins’ ownership appears to be mighty meddlesome at this point:

  • They will lose in the PR world parting company with the highest-ranking female baseball exec ever.
  • They will lose an exec who put together a playoff team in 2023.
  • They stand to gain an organization with an additional level of “management”.

So, this is progress … ???

Finally, since today has dealt with success and failure, let me close with this observation by author, Joseph Heller:

“Success and failure are both difficult to endure.  Along with success come drugs, divorce, fornication, bullying, travel, depression, neurosis and suicide.  With failure comes failure.”

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



Football Friday 10/13/23

Today is a confluence of Friday the Thirteenth and Football Friday.  I will not try to look for or work in any angles about hexes, spells, jinxes and the like here because I am reminded of something my fifth-grade teacher – – Mr. Garrity – – said about the silliness of the superstitions surrounding Friday the 13th:

“If something bad is going to happen, it can happen on Thursday the 12th or on Saturday the 14th too.”

With that out of the way, let me move on to a review of last week’s “Betting Bundle”:

  • College:  2-1-0  =>  Season:  5-5-0
  • NFL:  3-0-0  =>  Season:  7-3-0
  • Parlays:  2-1 => “Profit” = $193   Season:  5-3  =>  “Profit” = $507


College Football Commentary:


The Linfield College Wildcats extended their record for 2023 to 4-0 by handily beating Lewis and Clark 57-15.  As a Division 3 school, Linfield’s regular season schedule is only 9 games long, so the Wildcats only need one more win this year to extend their streak of winning season in football to 67 consecutive seasons.  This week is Homecoming for the Wildcats; they will host the Bruins of George Fox University.  Go Wildcats!

While things are looking up for Linfield and its fans this season, there are four college programs with high visibility that disappointed their fans last weekend.  I’ll start with Miami.

The Hurricanes won their first 4 games this year outscoring those 4 opponents by 125 points.  Last week, they played at home against Georgia Tech and the oddsmakers had Miami as a 21.5-point favorite in the game.  It was supposed to be a tune-up game leading Miami into the tough part of its schedule starting this week against UNC and then Clemson.  What happened was that through one of the biggest coaching blunders of the decade, Miami allowed Tech a final possession and then gave up a long Hail Mary TD pass to lose the game 23-20.  Note, even without the blunder and the defensive brain cramp, Miami would only have beaten an inferior opponent by 3 points.  Miami coach, Mario Cristobal has a reputation as a great recruiter and as a bad game coach.  Last week did not help that reputation.

Next up is Notre Dame.  The Irish also won their first 4 games in 2023.  Like the Hurricanes there was only one opponent in that early season that might be considered anything more than a scrimmage for the Irish, but the team was undefeated as it prepared to host Ohio State.  The Buckeyes won that game in South Bend but it was a close and a hard-fought game.  There was still a lot of positivity surrounding the program.  Then Notre Dame went on the road to play Duke and struggled to win that game by 7 points; and then, last week, the Irish went on the road again and got spanked by Louisville 33-20.  With two losses on their record, it is highly unlikely that Notre Dame will get any consideration for the CFP and will probably need to win out on the schedule to be in a New Year’s Day bowl game.

Let me move on to Texas.  The Longhorns won their first 5 games this year including a win over Alabama in Tuscaloosa.  The other opponents were not of that caliber, but Texas’ early season schedule did not include Amputees-R-Us either.  Last week, Texas played traditional rival Oklahoma; the Longhorns had the game in hand until the final 15 seconds when it gave up a TD pass that gave the Sooners the win.

Last on this list of four teams to disappoint last week is Texas A&M.  The Aggies were 4-1 entering last weekend’s game and the loss was to Miami back in Week 2; that loss could be dismissed by Aggie fans as a tough loss to a “top team” and it was a road game for the Aggies.  Last week, Alabama arrived in College Station looking less awesome than Alabama teams of recent vintage; this was a major home game for Texas A&M.  And the Aggies did what the Aggies do all too often; they lost the “big game”.  With two losses already on the books and with 3 games still to be played against ranked teams (as of this week), it looks as if this might be another mediocre season for Texas A&M fans.

Let me say something about the rankings of teams this week.  There are three teams from the Big-10 ranked in the Top 6:

  • Michigan is ranked second
  • Ohio State is ranked third
  • Penn State is ranked sixth.

            My problem here is that of these three teams, only Ohio State has played a “real opponent” in 2023; recall that Ohio State beat Notre Dame by 3 points in South Bend.  The rest of the schedule for all the schools is embarrassing.

  • Michigan:  Yes, they are demolishing inferior opposition; that is what good teams are supposed to do.  But the Wolverines 6-0 record does not impress.  If I had to identify a “signature win” for Michigan in 2023, it would probably be the 31-7 win over Rutgers four weeks ago.  Meh!
  • Ohio State:  Give credit to the Buckeyes for scheduling Notre Dame out of conference.  Then ponder why the other two out of conference opponents on the dance card are Youngstown St. and Western Kentucky.  Other than Notre Dame, the Buckeyes’ toughest opponent was probably Maryland.  Meh!
  • Penn State:  The Lions’ out of conference games this year were West Virginia (mediocre), Delaware (Division 1-AA) and UMass.  Seriously, Delaware and UMass in the same season?  Meh!

The only saving grace here is that these three schools will play one another between now and the end of the season; it is unlikely that all three will wind up in the Top-6 in December.

The college football season is about half over; by this point in the season, we should have a grasp on the cadre of “really good teams” and some indication as to the “really bad teams”.  By the end of the season, I will offer up my view of the eight worst teams in the country that I would like to see participate in an on-field tournament to determine the worst team in the country.  The idea is for teams to play one another, and the loser must continue to play until there is an ultimate loser.  I call that imaginary tournament the SHOE Tournament where SHOE stands for Steaming Heap Of Excrement.

I am nowhere near ready to make any pronouncements about the teams that will be in the ultimate SHOE Tournament, but I do have my eyes on about a dozen teams that look pretty bad to me, Let me just give you a preview here:

  • Akron, Ball St., Kent St., W. Michigan – – four teams from the MAC
  • UMass, UTEP – – two perennial “contenders” for this tournament
  • Arizona St., Nevada, Northwestern, Stanford, Temple UConn, UVa – – bad teams.

And just to keep you up to date regarding the contenders for the 2023 Brothel Defense Award given to the team that surrenders the most points per game over the season:

  • North Texas gives up 39.8 points per game
  • UMass gives up 39.4 points per game
  • Nevada gives up 38.4 points per game.

Here are some observations about games from last weekend; I’ll start in the SEC:

LSU 49  Missouri 39:  The teams combined for 1044 yards on offense and 50 first downs.  Missouri turned the ball over twice; LSU had no turnovers.  A Pick-Six in the final minute of the game sealed the win for LSU and made the margin of victory seem larger than it was.

Alabama 26  Texas A&M 20:  Alabama was held to 23 net yards rushing in the game and won the game.  Alabama turned the ball over more than Texas A&M and won the game.  Alabama was penalized 14 times (for 99 yards) and won the game.  Makes you think the football gods were intervening here – – or maybe it’s just that Texas A&M always loses “big games” …

Georgia 51  Kentucky 13:  The Bulldogs finally put everything together here.  Georgia gained 608 yards on offense and limited Kentucky to only 183 yards of total offense.  The game was domination from start to finish; at halftime the score was 34-7.

Ole Miss 27  Arkansas 20:  Once again, Ole Miss trailed in the 4th quarter and rallied to win the game.  In this case, it took two consecutive scoring drives – – a TD and a FG – – in the final minutes to pull out the win.  Arkansas turned the ball over twice in the game and that did not help their cause at all.

In ACC games last week:

Georgia Tech 23  Miami 20:  Miami outgained Georgia Tech 454-250 yards, had 23 first downs to the Yellow Jackets’ 12, and none of it mattered.  As discussed above, Tech won the game on a 44-yard Hail Mary completion with 2 seconds left in the game.  They only had possession because Miami chose not to take a knee on the previous possession that would have run the clock out.  Somehow, the Miami defenders let the Tech receiver get well behind them on the play that decided the game.

Louisville 33  Notre Dame 20:  That is the second loss of the year for the Irish; Louisville is still unbeaten at 6-0 for the season.  The Cardinals’ defense held Notre Dame to only 44 yards rushing in the game.  The Irish turned the ball over 5 times in the game – – 3 INTs and 2 lost fumbles.

Clemson 17  Wake Forest 12:  If you are a connoisseur of passing offense, do not bother to find the tape on this game.  The teams combined to produce only 268 yards of passing offense.  Clemson missed a field goal and lost two fumbles in the game – – and still came out with a win.

Florida St. 39  VaTech 17:  The Seminoles led 22-0 at the end of the first quarter and won the game on cruise control from that point.  Running back Trey Benson had a big day for Florida St. rushing for 200 yards and 2 TDs on only 11 carries.  He also caught 3 passes for 15 yards.

UNC 40  Syracuse 7:  The Tar Heels remain unbeaten so far in 2023.  This game was an unmitigated butt-kicking.

  • UNC:  644 yards total offense, 32 first downs.
  • Syracuse:  221 yards total offense, 11 first downs

And in the Big-10 …

Ohio St. 37  Maryland 17:  The score was tied at halftime, but Ohio St. pulled away in the second half.  Marvin Harrison, Jr. had a big day with 8 receptions for 163 yards and 1 TD.

Nebraska 20  Illinois 7:  The game was dead even on the stat sheet:

  • Nebraska:  312 yards  17 first downs  5 of 15 third down conversions
  • Illinois:  310 yards  16 first downs  4 of 15 third down conversions

A goal line stand by Nebraska and a kickoff recovery by Nebraska were turning points in the game.

Iowa 20  Purdue 14:  The Hawkeyes are 5-1 for the season despite scoring only 21.8 points per game for the season.  In this game, Iowa had only 12 first downs and ran only 55 plays – – as compared to 80 for Purdue.  Here are the results of the Purdue possessions in the second half; this should tell you that the Iowa defense is responsible for that gaudy record:

  • 6 plays  18 yards  PUNT
  • 5 plays  18 yards  PUNT
  • 5 plays  0 yards  PUNT
  • 8 plays  33 yards  DOWNS
  • 6 plays  24 yards  INT
  • 6 plays  74 yards  TD
  • 4 plays  0 yards  DOWNS

And out west in the PAC-12 …

UCLA 25  Washington St. 17:  That is the first loss of the year for the Cougars and an important conference win for the Bruins.  The UCLA defense was dominant holding Washington St. to only 17 yards rushing and 216 yards of total offense.

Colorado 27  Arizona St. 24:  The stat sheet belonged to Arizona St. for the game, and it pointed to a weaknesses for Colorado that has plagued the Buffaloes all season long – – Colorado cannot run the ball; they gained 56 yards on the ground in this game.

  • For the season, Colorado ranks 129th in the country in rushing offense per game.
  • The Buffaloes only run the ball for 78.7 yards per game and only average 2.46 yards per carry.

Nevertheless, this is Colorado’s 4th win of the year, and they have a real shot at bowl eligibility for the year.

Oregon St. 52  Cal 40:  The teams combined for 946 yards of offense in the game.  There were only 3 punts in the game.  The Total Line for this game was 51 points; Oregon St. eclipsed that mark all by themselves.

USC 43 Arizona 41 (3OT):  Arizona dominated the stat sheet gaining 506 yards on offense as compared to 365 yards for USC.  This result keeps USC unbeaten for the year at 6-0 but it is not the game the Trojans will use very much in its season highlight film.  At one point in the first half, Arizona led 17-0.


Games of Interest This Week:


NC St. at Duke – 3 (45):  Duke is one of four teams in the ACC without a conference loss.

Texas A&M at Tennessee – 3 (55):  If the Vols “run the table” they can make it to the SEC Championship Game.

Syracuse at Florida St. – 18 (56):  The Seminoles rightfully have their eye on an invitation to the CFP.  Every game is a big game for them.

Missouri at Kentucky – 3 (51):  The game opened as a “pick ‘em game” but the line has moved toward Kentucky all week.  Both teams have one conference loss so far; the loser here is probably eliminated from any real chance to make the SEC Championship Game.

Florida at S. Carolina – 2.5 (53.5):  This line is a bit surprising, but Florida is winless on the road this year and S. Carolina is undefeated at home this year.  Nevertheless, I think Florida is the better team here – – albeit not nearly a great team; I’ll take the “better team” plus the points; put that in the “Betting Bundle”.

Michigan St. at Rutgers – 4 (39):  Have the wheels completely fallen off the wagon at Michigan State?

Louisville – 7.5 at Pitt (45):  The spread opened at 10 points and has fallen to this level.  The Cardinals need to avoid a letdown after a big win last week over Notre Dame; they enter this contest with a 6-0 record.  Meanwhile the Panthers are a less-than-laudable 1-4 for the season.

UMass at Penn St. – 41.5 (55):  Should be ugly …

Miami at UNC – 4 (57):  The Tar Heels are unbeaten (5-0) for the year; Miami will have to find a way to bounce back from its crushing loss to Georgia Tech last week (see above).

Georgia Southern at James Madison – 6 (59):  These are probably the two best teams in the Sun Belt Conference, and they are both in the East Division.  Big game in Harrisonburg VA…

Cal at Utah – 12 (44):  The Utes already have a conference loss; they cannot afford another one here.

Oregon at Washington – 3 (67):  This is the College Game of the Week.  Both teams are 5-0 coming into the game and both are 2-0 in conference games.  Washington is ranked 7th in the country this week and Oregon is ranked 8th.  Because the PAC-12 dissolved its division structure this year, it is possible that these two teams can meet again in the PAC-12 Championship Game.  I like both teams here; I am tempted to take Oregon with the points, but I shall resist.

UCLA at Oregon St. – 3.5 (54):  Both teams have one conference loss so far; a second loss would not be beneficial for either side.

Iowa at Wisconsin – 10 (34.5):  College football Total Lines rarely get anywhere near as low as this one.  I wonder if there is a prop bet for OVER/UNDER the number of punts in the game?

Arkansas at Alabama – 19.5 (46.5):  Alabama leads the SEC West and is undefeated in conference play.  The Razorbacks have already lost 3 conference games.

Temple at North Texas – 6 (70):  North Texas gives up more points per game than any other Division 1-A school so far this year (see above).  Temple has given up 40 points or more in each of its last 3 games.  This could be a “Tackling Optional” Game…

Kansas – 3 at Oklahoma St. (56):  Half the teams in the Big-12 have one conference loss; these are two such teams.  A second loss in conference will not be helpful at all.

K-State at Texas Tech – 2.5 (57):  Half the teams in the Big-12 have one conference loss; these are two such teams.  A second loss in conference will not be helpful at all.

USC at Notre Dame – 3 (61.5):  The Total Line opened at 69 points and plummeted to this level late in the week.  The fact that USC is the underdog here speaks to the porous defense the Trojans have fielded so far this year; they surrendered a total of 110 points in the last three games.  They rank 112th in the country and surrender 421.3 yards per game.  Nevertheless, USC is undefeated at 6-0 when it arrives at the kickoff.  Call this a “Weather Channel Game” because its forecast for South Bend on Saturday night calls for high wind and heavy rain with temperatures in the low 40s.  If that forecast is remotely accurate, I like this game to stay UNDER; put that in the “Betting Bundle”.


NFL Commentary:


I have not seen all the NFL teams play for a meaningful amount of time so far this year to categorize all of them.  Highlight reels are not sufficient but I have seen enough of the following teams to create 5 categories as the NFL starts the middle third of its schedule>

  • Best Teams:  Niners, Dolphins
  • Very Good Teams:  Eagles, Chiefs, Bills, Lions
  • Meh Teams:  Commanders, Saints, “Everyone in the AFC North”
  • Not-So-Good Teams:  Chargers, Colts, Texans, Packers, Raiders
  • Bad Teams:  Cards, Bears, Giants, Broncos, Pats

This categorization is my own and it is solely dependent on my eyeball test from watching these teams on TV.

My eyeballs are going to be assaulted by the NFL and the TV execs again this week because the schedule negotiators totally misread the tea leaves for 2023.  The Giants are going to be making yet another national/prime time appearance – – this time on Sunday Night Football.  There is no joy over that situation here in Curmudgeon Central.

Fans in Pittsburgh are happy to a degree because the Steelers beat the Ravens last week, but they are not at all happy with the team’s offensive performance under the tutelage of offensive coordinator, Matt Canada.  In last week’s victory, the Steelers’ offense produced 287 yards from scrimmage; it was a victory created by defense and special teams; Steelers’ fans certainly noticed that.

This is hardly a new phenomenon in Pittsburgh.  The Steelers have now gone 39 consecutive games without posting 400 yards or more of offense in the Matt Canada Era.  That stat is also not lost on Steelers’ fans.  I am loath to call for a coach to be fired because in the end the coach is not the one who makes the play or scores the TD.  However, 400 yards of offense is a good benchmark for a “Big Offensive Output” and the Steelers have now gone the equivalent of more than two full seasons of regular season play without demonstrating a “Big Offensive Output”.  Keep an ear to the ground on this matter; it is not going to go away quietly.

Back in early September, I made my annual NFL predictions for 2023 and one of the coaches that I had on my “Hot Seat” list was Bill Belichick.  My reasoning then was that owner Robert Kraft is now in his 80s and that he might be getting “impatient” for a return to times like the AFC Championship Game – – or better.  Earlier this week, Jeff Howe of The Athletic had a report that contained these tidbits:

“There’s a school of thought that suggests Bill Belichick has earned the right to go out on his own accord, that the architect of the greatest dynasty in NFL history can coach in New England as long as he chooses.  Kraft doesn’t subscribe to it.”

And …

“Kraft likes to remind people he grew up as a Patriots fan during the organization’s darkest days, but that doesn’t mean he has the patience to endure more of them. On multiple occasions in recent years, he has lamented the team’s lack of a postseason victory in the post-Brady era. … Kraft has grown frustrated, if not downright angry, over this shortage of success.”

I listed the Pats as one of the “Bad Teams” above in my “Eyeball Categories”.  This is another situation to keep in mind as the season progresses.  Frankly, what I think should be a first step for Kraft and the Pats would be to replace Belichick as the team’s GM and hire a real GM with the necessary support for that position.  But I don’t own the team …

Let me use one example of a failed personnel move by the Pats.  In last year’s free agency, the Pats allowed Jakobi Meyers to sign on with the Raiders.  So far in 2023, Meyers has caught 25 passes for 275 yards and 3 TDs.  Meyers is averaging 11 yards per catch.

GM Belichick brought in JuJu Smith-Schuster during free agency; it is hard to see JuJu in any light other than as a replacement for Meyers.  So far in 2023, JuJu has caught 14 passes for 86 yards and 0 TDs.  JuJu is averaging 6.1 yards per catch.

The Pats are not the only NFL team that is floundering in 2023.  The Broncos brought in a Super Bowl winning coach in Sean Payton with the idea that Payton had worked with Drew Brees and had developed ways to make an undersized QB with merely an average arm into a top-shelf QB who will be in the Hall of Fame one of these days.  Well, so far that has not worked even a little bit.  The Broncos are 1-5 (after losing Thursday Night’s game) and Russell Wilson is no better this year than he was last year.

I don’t recall who it was who pointed out that the Eagles play the Jets this week and that the Jets have never beaten the Eagles.  The two teams have met 12 times; the Jets are 0-12.  I wonder if Jets’ coach Robert Saleh will make that part of his pre-game speech to the team …

Meanwhile, the Eagles had better not look past the Jets this week because they will see an absolutely brutal eight-game schedule stretch from October 22 through December 17:

  1. Vs. Dolphins
  2. At Commanders
  3. Vs. Cowboys
  4. At Chiefs
  5. Vs. Bills
  6. Vs. Niners
  7. At Cowboys
  8. At Seahawks

Henry Kissinger famously said this about schedules:

“There cannot be a crisis next week.  My schedule is already full.”

Here are some comments about last week’s games:

Raiders 17  Packers 13:  When a defense holds an opponent to 17 points, the odds are that such a performance will produce a win.  However, when the QB for that same team also throws 3 INTs in the game, the odds can change.  Absent those 3 INTs, this game was dead even on the stat sheet as well as on the scoreboard.

Jags 25  Bills 20:  The Jags spent two weeks in London this year and came away with two wins.  The Bills’ defense had shown up big-time two weeks ago stifling the high-octane Dolphins’ offense, but in this game the Bills’ defense allowed 425 yards of offense by the Jags.  Meanwhile, the Jags’ defense made the Bills’ offense one-dimensional allowing only 29 yards rushing on 14 attempts in the game.

Steelers 17 Ravens 10:  For the first 20 minutes of this game, it looked as if the Ravens would win by at least two TDs if not three.  The Steelers’ offense in the first quarter ran 9 plays and gained all of 21 yards.  But the Steelers’ defense kept plugging and the Ravens’ offense went somnambulant, and the game came down to the 4th quarter with the Ravens holding onto a 10-3 lead.  In the 4th quarter here is what happened:

  • The Steelers blocked a punt resulting in a safety.
  • Then the Steelers got a field goal on the next possession to make the score 10-8.
  • Then the Steelers got a TD but missed the two-point conversion making the score 14-10.
  • A final field goal with less than 3 minutes left in the game produced the final score.

Meanwhile, here is what the Ravens did with the ball in the 4th quarter:

  • 3 plays – – minus-6 yards – – BLOCKED PUNT FOR A SAFETY
  • 3 plays – – 8 yards – – PUNT
  • 3 plays – – 2 yards – – INT
  • 2 plays – – 11 yards – – FUMBLE
  • 4 plays – – minus-3 yards – – TURNOVER ON DOWNS

            Let me do the math for you here.  The Ravens ran 15 plays, turned the ball over twice, had a punt blocked and had a net gain of 12 yards in a quarter of football.

The Ravens and Steelers will meet again this year; conveniently, that game will be on January 7th, 2024, and it will be the final game of the season.  There could well be playoff implications tied to the outcome then.  The Steelers need to avoid playing the way they did in the first quarter last week and the Ravens need to avoid playing the way they did in the fourth quarter last week.

Lions 42  Panthers 24:  The Lions are for real; the Panthers are still winless.  This game was pretty even on the stat sheet; the Lions only gained 35 more yards on offense in the game.  The Panthers turned the ball over 3 times in the first half setting up the Lions to take a 28-10 lead into the locker room.  The Lions’ game this week against the Bucs was bumped to a late afternoon start to put them in front of a potentially larger TV audience; it has been a while since that happened to the Lions.

Falcons 21  Texans 19:  The Falcons outgained the Texans by 134 yards in the game, held the ball for more than 35 minutes in the game, converted 7 of 14 third-down conversions – – and still needed a last-minute drive to set up a winning field goal in the game.  Two turnovers by the Texans did not help their cause at all.

Dolphins 31  Giants 16:  The Giants got a Pick-Six in the game to make the score seem more respectable than the game really was.  Consider:

  • Dolphins’ total offense = 524 yards
  • Giants’ total offense = 268 yards

And …

  • Dolphins’ average yards per play = 9.7 yards per play
  • Giants’ average yards per play = 3.9 yards per play.

The Miami defense also sacked Daniel Jones 7 times in the game.

Saints 34  Pats 0:  This makes two games in a row where the Pats have lost by more than 30 points.  The Saints’ defense started the scoring with a Pick-Six and then limited the Pats to a meager 156 yards of offense for the day.  This was an organized ass-kicking.  After the game, Coach Belichick spoke obliquely about “starting over”.  I suspect it is way too late to “start over” for the 2023 season.

Colts 23  Titans 16:  Forget about the return of Jonathan Taylor to the Colts’ lineup for a moment; this game belonged to his backup RB, Zack Moss who carried 23 times for 265 yards and 2 TDs.  Gardner Minshew once again came into the game in relief of Anthony Richardson and the Colts’ defense held Derrick Henry to only 43 yards for the day.

Bengals 34  Cards 20:  Joe Burrow had a ”Joe Burrow Style Day” with this stat line:

  • 36 of 46 for 317 yards with 3 TDs and 1 INT.

Meanwhile, Joshua Dobbs also had a “Joshua Dobbs Style Day” with this stat line:

  • 15 of 32 for 166 yards with 2 TDs and 2 INTs.

By the way, Jamar Chase caught all three of those TD passes from Joe Burrow…

Eagles 23  Rams 14:  The Eagles’ defense pitched a shutout in the second half to secure this victory.  The Eagles dominated the stat sheet gaining 454 yards to only 249 for the Rams.  AJ Brown had another big game catching 6 passes for 125 yards.  The Eagles held the ball for almost 38 minutes in the game.  The Eagles converted 13 of 18 third downs allowing them to enjoy that Time of Possession advantage.

Chiefs 27  Vikes 20:  The game was dead-even on the stat sheet:

  • Chiefs:  67 yards rushing and 266 yards passing
  • Vikes:  70 yards rushing and 259 yards passing

The Chiefs are 4-1 and have not played a “Chiefs’ quality game” yet this year.  [Aside:  That loss was by a single point in Week 1.]  Is this an off year for the Chiefs where the schedule collapses on them or should the NFL be very afraid of what their record might be if they ever put all the pieces together?  Stay tuned…  To make things even worse for the Vikes, they had to put WR Justin Jefferson on IR this week meaning he will be out for at least the next 4 games.

Jets 31  Broncos 21:  The Jets trailed 10-8 at halftime and then dominated the second half of the game.  Zach Wilson played Russel Wilson to a standoff here; Zach had more passing yards on fewer attempts, but he threw an INT.  Russell threw 2 TDs but also surrendered a safety in the game for intentional grounding while he was in the end zone.  The Jets amassed 407 yards of offense here while the Broncos only managed 308 yards.  The Jets only had 1 offensive TD in the game (a 72-yard run by Breece Hall).  The rest of the scoring came from a safety, 5 field goals and a short field TD set up by a fumble recovery.

Niners 42  Cowboys 10:  The stat sheet was as lopsided as the score; the Niners ran up 421 yards on offense despite only running the ball for about the final 10 minutes of the game; the Cowboys’ offense only managed an anemic 197 yards for the game.  Dak Prescott’s stat line was particularly unimpressive:

  • 14 of 24 for 153 yards with 1 TD and 3 INTs


Games This Week:


Here are the teams with a BYE this week:

  1. Packers:  They get an extra week to chew on a lackluster offensive performance from last week.  The Packers are 2 full games behind the Lions in the NFC North; they need to “get it right” awfully soon.
  2. Steelers:  There is no quit nor any glaring weakness in the Steelers’ defense.  There is no glaring area of competence in the Steelers’ offense.  They get a week off to work on that offense.

In last night’s game on Thursday Night Football, the Chiefs beat the Broncos 19-8.  The Chiefs got into the Red Zone 5 times in the game and scored only 1 TD; if you told an opposing coach that his team would do that in a game, that coach would probably be chalking up a victory.

The Broncos’ defense was more than adequate last night; the Broncos offense – – to be most polite – – was uninspiring.  The play-calling was plain vanilla, and the execution was better than listless but not a lot better.  The Broncos are 1-5; the trade deadline arrives in two weeks; the Broncos traded away a boatload of draft capital to acquire Russell Wilson.  Might the Broncos be in rebuilding mode starting with the trade deadline that is careening toward them?

Ravens – 4 at Titans (41):  Both teams lost last week and now they get to travel all the way to London to play this week.  I expect this one to come down to the final moments of the 4th quarter.

Commanders at Falcons – 2.5 (42.5):  The Commanders come to this game off a Thursday Night Football game meaning they have had “extra time” to try to figure out the answers to two “issues”:

  1. Why has a defense that sports 6 first round picks in its starting lineup given up 160 points in 5 games?
  2. Can Offensive Coordinator, Eric Bienemy call a game that will keep Sam Howell from being sacked more than 5 times?

Washington fans love the new team owner – – but patience is running out with the coaching staff and some of the players.  The Falcons need this game to keep pace in their division; the Commanders need this game to keep body and soul together.

Vikes – 2.5 at Bears (43.5):  The Total Line here opened at 48.5 points.  This was my runner-up for the Dog-Breath Game of the Week.  The Bears looked good beating the Commanders the last time out; the Vikes are getting nothing but bad breaks and heartaches after last year’s run of good fortune.  Do not be surprised if the Bears win this one and break their long losing streak…

Seahawks at Bengals – 2.5 (45):  Joe Burrow looked as if his leg injury has healed against the Cards last week.  If that is the case, the Bengals are the better team in this matchup – – but the key words here are “If that is the case…”

Niners – 7.5 at Browns (37):  The spread opened at 3 points and the Total Line opened at 42 points.  Those movements indicate to me that people do not think Deshaun Watson is going to play again this week; reports say he did not practice on Wednesday after having last week off on a BYE Week.  If Watson does not go, that means either PJ Walker or Dorian Thompson-Robinson must take on the Niners’ defense.  Not good…  On the other hand, the Niners invested a lot of emotional capital in their trouncing of the Cowboys last week; there could easily be a let-down here.  The Niners are the better team – – but I’ll pass on this one.

Saints – 1 at Texans (42):  The spread opened the week as a “Pick ‘em” game.  There is a betting philosophy out there that says you should take a home underdog if that underdog has the better defense.  The Texans’ defense is good, but it is not necessarily better than the Saint’s defense.  I’ll pass on this game.

Colts at Jags – 4 (44):  The winner of this game will be in the lead in the AFC South Division; that fact puts this over the top as my Game of the Week.  It looks as if Gardner Minshew will be starting in place of Anthony Richardson this week; but frankly, I am not so sure that is a big step backward for the Colts.  Is Jonathan Taylor ready to play like a guy who has been the NFL rushing leader in seasons past?  I’ll go with the teams scoring on each other and take the game to go OVER; put that in the “Betting Bundle”.

Panthers at Dolphins – 13.5 (47.5):  This shapes up as a blowout where the Dolphins might take the game OVER all by themselves.  On the other hand, this is a classic “trap game” for the Dolphins playing the sorry-assed Giants last week and looking ahead to a game against the Eagles next week.

Lions – 3 at Bucs (42):  The Total Line opened at 45 points and dropped to nearly this level early in the week.  Call me a wild-eyed optimist here, but I think the Lions are a very good football team in 2023 and the oddsmakers/betting public have undervalued them here because of the Lions’ history of – – well – – being the Lions.  I like the Lions to win and cover on the road; put that in the “Betting Bundle”.

Pats at Raiders – 3 (41):  Here is my Dog-Breath Game of the Week.  Neither team seems to be capable of winning this game; one of them will surely lose the game.

Cards at Rams – 7 (48):  The spread for this game opened at 4.5 points while the Total Line opened at 45.5 points.  If you believe that QB is the most important part of an NFL team, you have to like the Rams here; Matthew Stafford is significantly better as a QB than Joshua Dobbs.

Eagles at Jets – 7 (41):  Can the Eagles make it 13 wins in a row over the Jets?  The Eagles’ defense should make it a hard day for Zach Wilson; the Jets’ defense can make it a hard day for any team in the league.

(Sun Nite) Giants at Bills – 14.5 (44.5):  The Bills stunk it out in London last week; the Giants just stink.  No way I play an NFL game with a spread of 14.5 points – – but I will not be surprised to see the Bills put a pasting on the Giants here.

(Mon Nite) Cowboys – 2.5 at Chargers (51):  The Total Line opened at 47 points and jumped to this level quickly.  Dak Prescott had a miserable game last week against the Niners’ defense; this is the Chargers’ defense and the only similarity to the Niners ‘defense is that both teams use 11 players at a time on defense.  I would pay attention to the Cowboys’ secondary in this game; it looked very vulnerable last week with the absence of Trevon Diggs.

So, let me review the “Betting Bundle”:

  • Florida +2.5 against S. Carolina
  • USC/Notre Dame UNDER 61.5
  • Lions – 3 over Bucs
  • Jags/Colts OVER 44

And just for fun, here is a Money Line Parlay for the week:

  • Lions @ minus-180
  • Rams @ minus-310
  • $100 wager to win $106

            Finally, let me close here with these words from former Notre Dame coach, Dan Devine:

 “There are two kinds of people in the world, Notre Dame lovers and Notre Dame haters. And, quite frankly, they’re both a pain in the ass.”

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