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”.
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.”
“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:
- Vs. Dolphins
- At Commanders
- Vs. Cowboys
- At Chiefs
- Vs. Bills
- Vs. Niners
- At Cowboys
- 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
- 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:
- 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.
- 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”:
- Why has a defense that sports 6 first round picks in its starting lineup given up 160 points in 5 games?
- 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………