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………