Bad Ads 2023

I am not someone who has ever been involved in the advertising enterprise; I claim no insight into the fundamental principles of that field of endeavor.  Like everyone else, I am a consumer of advertising – – whether I like it or not – – because it is everywhere.  Moreover, I have a basic acceptance of advertising as an activity that brings me good because it is the presence of advertising that allows me to enjoy all my sports programming on television.  So, count me as an “accepting novice” when it comes to evaluation of advertising.  I watch and listen to ads on sports/news shows and just react to what they are telling me.

Once a year, I compile my notes and make a list of ads that did not seem to motivate me in any particular way to use or consume the product being pushed.  I call those “Bad Ads”.  Probably the creators of those ads would argue that the fact that I made a note of them and then put them here on my list shows that they were not really “Bad Ads”.  Whatever …  This is my rant and so I will label them as “Bad Ads”.

First up this year is an ad campaign for a drug that alleviates hot flashes in post-menopausal women.  The ad cleverly claims to turn “hot flashes” into “not flashes”; the drug certainly addresses a problem area for many women.  However, every drug ad on TV has a portion of the ad that starts with:

  • “Do not take XXX if you are allergic to it or if you have had YYY or if something else exists…”

After that peroration, the voiceover will begin to list possible side effects which can range from “soreness at the injection site” to “death”.  In the case of the ad for alleviation of hot flashes, one of the possible side effects noted is … drumroll please …  “Hot Flashes”.

Excuse me.  If the drug is supposed to alleviate hot flashes, then a hot flash is not a side effect; in that situation a hot flash is an indicator that the drug is not working.

Another drug ad that had a silly portion was for Rinvoq – – an eczema treatment.  The ad claims:

  • “Some patients saw up to 100% clear skin”. 

No!   EVERY patient saw – – and will aways see – – “up to 100% clear skin.”  And no one will ever see 101% clear skin.  Got that …?

And in the realm of healthcare ads, let me lump together every single one of the ads for Medicare Advantage plans into a single category and denounce them all.  One of them has Joe Namath as its spokesperson.  Why would you want to take medical advice, financial advice or insurance advice from him?

Ads for the GMC Sierra truck should remind you always to read the fine print.  There is an ad for the Sierra where they are bragging about their “hands free driving” capability.  I’m sure you have seen it; the driver and the passengers all begin to clap their hands as the background music plays “We will, we will rock you…”

Check the fine print on that ad and you will see that they claim that the vehicle you are seeing is a “pre-production model”.  No problem there – – until you recall that GMC has been showing the same ad for about 3 years now. So:

  • When might the vehicle shown in the ad actually be produced? 

Oh, but there is more reason to read the GMC Sierra fine print than that minor point.  The ad shows the truck hauling a load with the hand-clappers inside as it autonomously passes a slower vehicle on the totally vacant highway.  Once again, no problem until you read the fine print to learn that lane changing – – essential to passing a slower vehicle – – will not be available when towing something with the truck.  So, we have a model that does not exist yet being advertised with a feature that will not be available whenever it does exist.  Isn’t that swell?

GMC Sierra is consistent if nothing else in its ads.  Another ad shows the vehicle mastering plenty of difficult terrain.  If you are into off-roading, this is probably impressive – – until you read the fine print.  There, you will learn that the vehicle you are seeing on your screen is another pre-production model and that some “features” may not be available on production models.  Sign me up for a test drive if/when one of these things ever enters the real world…

Buick Envision is another brand that runs old ads.  One of those old ads ran again in 2023 during March Madness; it has fine print at the bottom saying that it shows features that may or may not be available on 2021 models.  Guess what, If I am looking to buy a NEW Buick Envision, I doubt I could find a 2021 model with or without those unspecified features.

Mercedes Benz advertises their “Certified Pre-Owned” cars that are meticulously examined before you are even allowed to see them let alone buy them.  Excuse me, but I don’t need Mercedes Benz to certify or assure me in any way that someone has owned or leased the car before me; the odometer will certify that to me perfectly adequately.

Here’s a thing about lots of car company ads.  They tell us that they will give a certain interest rate or a certain set of lease terms to “well qualified buyers”.  OK, that’s great; now I know what Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos can get as terms from your company if they choose only to buy a car and not to pay cash and buy the whole damned company.  Can you please:

  1. Define “well qualified buyer”.  What percentage of people who walk into a showroom turn out to be “well qualified”?
  2. Give out the terms for a “moderately qualified buyer” and maybe even for a “bottom-of-the-barrel buyer”.

Little Caesars is the “Official Pizza of the NFL” this year; they obviously out-pizzaed the Hut to earn that designation.  Little Caesars makes miserable pizza AND it also assaults game viewers with stupid ads too.

  • Memo to Ad Execs:  That is quite the exacta there…

Jack Links beef jerky shows some guys in a lavatory.  One guy is eating beef jerky in there which is nauseating at best.  Then “Sasquatch” comes into the restroom and starts peeing like a firehose until he knocks a urinal off the wall with the force of his elimination.

  • Memo to Ad Execs:  I am never going to buy a Jack Links product – – ever.

Amazon has an ad where a guy decides to get some “early Holiday shopping” done.  He receives a box with the logo on it which contains some unidentifiable object in it.  Then he goes and jumps off a dock into waters with ice floes still floating in the water.  That’s it; that’s the ad.  And that is supposed to get me to go to and order something early for my Holiday shopping?  I don’t think so.

I know this ad has been on the list before, but they keep running the same one year after year.  I refer here to the “Kars-4-Kids” ad where a “rock group” of untalented kids sing the same annoying jingle that has been around since forever.  It is probably only a rumor, but some folks think that Julius Caesar was stabbed to death because he would not stop singing that outrageous tune.  The “music” in this ad is so bad I am compelled to issue the following warning:

  • Warning:  Wherever those “musicians” are performing this song or any other song, that area will be designated as an “International Talent-Free Zone.”

Who thought the idea of a buffalo that grew wings and speaks English was an interesting character to introduce in ads for Buffalo Wild Wings – – Get it???.  Let me be clear; Buffalo Wild Wings is a horrendous place to go and try to watch an important sporting event; it is needlessly loud and often offensive.  It would take some brilliant advertising campaign to get me to go there for a game.  These ads assure I will not go there to watch any sporting event of any kind.

Lume Deodorant cream aired an ad where a woman describes in complete detail her problem areas as:

  • “… pits, underboob, sideboob, thigh folds, butt crack…”
  • Memo to Ad Execs:  I just wish she would go and take a shower.

Burger King had an ad for various sorts of combo meals; you pick the kind of sandwich you want as the “main course”.  There is nothing unusual here; no big deal.  Except, these were all “bacon combos” and one of the choices was an “Impossible Burger” – – with bacon.  Really …???

Also in the “fast food category” is the Taco Bell ad where they set up a counter and a kitchen in Davante Adams’ house so he could always have immediate access to Taco Bell.  That is beyond stupid…

Old Spice ran an ad that has a guy in a bathrobe going to a “club” to address some women at a table.  He wants to know if one of the women there has used his Old Spice Body Wash.  She says of course she did because she would not let hotel soap touch her precious skin.

  • Memo to Precious Skin Lady:  If you are that worried about hotel soap, pack whatever you need and bring it from home.  It’s not difficult.

The insurance companies never fail to make this annual compendium.  I guess the reason is that the product being sold by the various companies is basically the same from vendor to vendor and it would not be particularly attention-grabbing to have someone drone on about coverages and deductibles and exclusions and …  So, someone in the ad world decided many years ago to create “humorous ads” for insurance products.  At first, there were some clever ones like the gecko and the cavemen and “What are you wearing, Jake from State Farm?”  Uhh… Khakis…”  Those days seem to be nothing but fond memories as we look at today’s insurance ad creations.

Progressive Insurance a while back created a cast of characters for their ads, and I guess the underlying thinking for that cast of characters was for each one to be more annoying than the ones preceding it.  This year, Progressive introduced a new character, “TV Dad”.  Not only did he live down to the standard of being more annoying than any of the other Progressive characters, but he is also even more annoying than “LIMU the Emu – – and Doug”.  Now that was a difficult limbo bar to get under – – but Progressive did.

Speaking of LIMU the Emu and Doug, they introduced a kid to their ads this year.  Basically, he is a mini-version of Doug with a moustache and a tiny toy auto that he drives.

  • Memo to Ad Execs:  As the kid rides off in his toy car, Doug tells him to “Stay off the freeway.”  I often tell the kid at that point to “Go play in traffic!”

The “Bad Ads” listing would not be complete without an entry from the beer makers.  This year, Bud Light put together an ad where Peyton Manning goes to a bar and orders a round of Bud Lights for the bar.  Celebratory shouting ensues as Manning tosses beers to other patrons and then out of nowhere he is joined by Emmitt Smith as simultaneous tossers of beer cans to the masses.  Can you imagine the clean-up mess in that bar as about 50 people open cans of Bud Light that have been thrown to them that they caught – – presumably on the fly?  That establishment will smell of stale beer for a month after that event.

The ads for JG Wentworth – – call 877-CashNow – – are anything but entertaining or attractive, but they make this list because they advertise a service that can actually be harmful to folks who use it.  JG Wentworth will buy out a person’s annuity; and in many cases, people purchased an annuity or had one purchased for them as a means to provide cash in retirement.  Selling one out to JG Wentworth to satisfy some real-time craving can come back to haunt the seller in his/her golden years.  I cringe at those ads.

“Bad Ads” is traditionally the final rant of the year out of Curmudgeon Central.  Having reflected on the Bad Ads for 2023, it is comforting to know that as the calendar turns to 2024, the advertising world will continue to provide materials for another year-ending event 12 months from now.  I won’t need to wait until Spring for any sort of “renewal”.  In mid-February there will be a huge number of Super Bowl ads and surely somewhere in that compendium will be the start of next year’s list.  And since 2024 will be an “Election Year”, I know that I and everyone else will be inundated with political ads next year.  Just a thing to remember here:

  • Any objective truth represented in a political ad is there by accident at best.

Based on the contents of this and previous “Bad Ads” rants, I hope that these words from novelist Norman Douglas are not accurate:

“You can tell the ideals of a nation by its advertisements.”

Happy New Year, everyone.  Stay safe and stay well in 2024.

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



Football Friday 12/28/23 – – On Thursday

William Shakespeare wrote:

“Better three hours too soon than a minute too late.”

That directive applies today because even though the calendar declares today as a Thursday, this will be an early edition of Football Friday.  Had this edition not shown up early, it would have been a week late.  So, I’ll just call this a Sort of Football Friday and begin in the normal way by reviewing last week’s “Betting Bundle”:

  • College = 0-0-0   =>  Season = 19-9-0
  • NFL = 1-2-0   =>   Season = 19-21-0
  • Parlays = 1-1  Profit = $42   =>  Season = 9-14  Loss = $88


College Football Commentary:


The Florida State/ACC showdown is coming.  The Seminoles have filed a lawsuit against their own conference seeking to extricate themselves from that conference.  There is no question that Florida State is the “big dog” in the ACC when it comes to football, only Clemson’s stature rivals Florida State’s.  And now the “big dog” wants out…

If somehow there is no reconciliation here, this matter looks to me as if it will play out over a LONG period of time.  Florida State filed its suit less than a week ago and already there is an ACC action seeking to have the conference select the venue of the trial proceedings.  There are probably law firms from Virginia to Florida salivating over the idea of getting a piece of the available billable hours here.

The legal costs to both sides would seem to provide a reason for settlement here.  Spending on legal representation is a “sunk cost”; there is little likelihood of ever recovering those funds.  Settlement/reconciliation would be a “hefty cost”, but it can also be money spent in order for the two sides to “get on with their lives”.

The Seminoles want out; the ACC fears that losing its best football program will do severe damage to the conference itself.  And yet, there must be some point at which Florida State becomes a sufficiently annoying thorn under the thumbnail that the conference begins to view the matter as a sufficient pain in the ass that it wants to end the conflict.  The ACC “grant of rights” that seemingly binds the conference together runs through 2036.  I cannot believe that Florida State will be a member of the ACC that far into the future.  As I said earlier this week, I don’t know where they will wind up, and I don’t know when it will happen, but this is not a relationship that can be saved.

One of the minor bowl games – – the Las Vegas Bowl – – produced a result that could lead to some interesting college football news.  Northwestern beat Utah 14-7 in that game meaning that Northwestern finished the season 8-5.  That may not sound like much but recall that at the beginning of August, Northwestern fired its long-term head coach, Pat Fitzgerald, over a hazing scandal.  The school needed a head coach, and it would have been unseemly to name one of the assistants as the head coach if the assistant had been on the football staff while the alleged hazing was going on.  So, Northwestern handed what looked like a sack of wet goat sh*t to “the new guy” – David Braun – who had just taken a job at Northwestern having come from the job of defensive coordinator at Division 1-AA North Dakota St.

To say that Northwestern qualifying for a bowl bid – let alone beating a decent Utah team in a bowl game – was not a prevalent thought in suburban Chicago back in August.  But that is what happened, and David Braun now has some thinking to do.  He is probably going to lose more than a couple of his assistants when the euphoria of the season wears off and the memories of the hazing allegations return to the headlines.  What David Braun needs to think about is simple:

  • Should he stay at Northwestern – where he will surely get a decent offer as their head football coach – or should he use this performance as a way to get another job in a place where there ought to be fewer off-field distractions and much less acrimony surrounding the program?

Were I in his position, I would thank the Northwestern Board of Trustees for the confidence they have shown in me but I would choose to move on to calmer waters that may also be greener pastures.  But that’s just me…


College Football Games This Week:


The better bowl games tend to cluster around New Year’s Day and this year is no exception.  The reason I do not make selections for most bowl games is because there are far too many intangible factors to weigh not the least of which is that lots of the best players on various teams over the course of the season will voluntarily sit out a minor bowl game looking to avoid injury prior to the NFL Draft in April.  There are some matchups that might be interesting in terms of viewing this week and of course there will be the semi-finals of the CFP on Monday night.

(Fri Afternoon) Notre Dame – 6.5 vs. Oregon St (41.5):  There has been a lot of line movement for this game.  The spread opened with Notre Dame as a 10.5-point favorite and the Total Line opened at 47.5 points.  Both teams finished the year in the Top 20 in whatever poll you favor.  Neither team will have their starting quarterback nor their #1 running back for the game.  Clearly, that is sufficient reason not to make a pick here, but this is a game worth watching even if it is the “Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl”.

(Fri Nite) Missouri vs Ohio St. – 3 (49):  The Buckeyes’ starting QB this year, Kyle McCord, entered the transfer portal when the season closed and so Ohio St will be under the direction of sophomore, Devin Brown for the game.  Brown appeared in 5 games – briefly – in 2023 and posted these stats:

  • 12 of 22 for 197 yards with 2 TDs and 1 INT

The best storyline for the game is probably Mizzou RB, Cody Schrager who started his career at Missouri as a walk-on and this year was named to the All SEC Team as the running back.

(Sat Noon) Ole Miss vs Penn St. – 5 (48):  Both teams come to the game with 10-2 records; that alone makes the game interesting.  However, there is an even more interesting aspect to this game.  Land Kiffin has Ole Miss playing a fast and loose offensive system that wins games by outscoring opponents.  The Rebels rank 15th in the country in Total Offense per game (455.4 yards per game) and 19th in the country in Scoring Offense (34.8 points per game).  Penn St. relies on its defense; the Nittany Lions rank 1st in the nation in Total Defense allowing only 223.3 yards per game and rank 3rd in the nation in Scoring Defense allowing only 11.4 points per game.

(Mon Afternoon) Liberty vs Oregon – 17 (67):  Last year, Tulane was the so-called Group of Five team to get a New Year’s Day bowl bid and Tulane went and won the game.  Can Liberty maintain that “tradition”?

(Mon Evening) Alabama vs Michigan – 2.5 (44.5):  After two years of embarrassing losses in the CFP, Michigan has the motivation, the depth, the talent and the experience to win it all this year.  Alabama almost always over the past 15 years has had all that stuff and has indeed “won it all” in the past.  Michigan has played with a lead for almost the entirety of the 2023 season so it might be interesting to see what the Wolverines might do should Alabama get a lead in the game.

(Mon Nite) Texas – 4.5 vs Washington (64.5):  I think Texas is the better team here because I think the Washington pass defense is vulnerable.  The Huskies rank 123rd in the country in passing defense, allowing 263.2 yards per game.  Conversely, Washington leads the nation in passing offense (343.8 yards per game), but the Texas pass defense is a bit stingier allowing 241 yards per game.  I like Washington QB, Michael Penix, Jr. to keep this game close to the end; I’ll take Washington plus the points here; put that in the “Betting Bundle”.


NFL Commentary:


I ran across an interesting stat this week.  The New England Patriots are poised to set an NFL record this year.  So far in 2023, the Pats have not had a 100-yard rusher in a game, nor have they had a 100-yard receiver in a game.  No team has ever completed a 16-game or a 17-game season without at least one such performance:

  • The Colts had that happen to them in 1982 – – but that was a “strike season” and consisted of only 9 games.
  • The ‘Skins had that happen to them in 1977 – – but was back in the days when the NFL regular season was only 14 games.

The Patriots have now played 15 games in the 2023 regular season without a 100-yard performance by a runner or a pass catcher.  What Snuffy Smith was wont to say in the comic strips applies now to the Pats:

  • “Time’s a-wasting…”

Last week, I watched the Steelers/Bengals game and heard Noah Eagle and Todd Blackledge do that game.  Since there were no other games on at the time and since I had no social distractions, I watched the whole thing without “interference”.  That was the first time I heard that tandem on the mic and I liked what I heard.

  • Noah Eagle is the son of Ian Eagle.  I have always liked Ian Eagle doing play-by-play in football and/or in basketball.  The adage that the apple does not fall far from the tree certainly applies here; Noah Eagle is going to be a very good play-by-play guy for many years to come; he is only 26 years old.
  • I have heard Todd Blackledge in the past – – but not recently as I recall.  He has never managed to find his way to the head of the class as a color analyst either at CBS or at ESPN.  That is a shame because he presents the game to viewers calmly and rationally without histrionics or needless chatter.
  • Noah Eagle and Todd Blackledge make for an excellent broadcast pairing.

Let me pose a rhetorical question here.  Which “old fossil” – – in NFL terms that means anyone who has been around the league for about 10 years – – is playing better:

  1. Mike Evans:  In his 10th year in the NFL, he has started every game with the Bucs and caught 73 passes for 1163 yards and a league-leading 13 TDs.
  2. Joe Flacco:  He was called back into the league off his man-cave couch after Thanksgiving for a 16th season in the NFL when the Browns desperately needed a QB.  He has started 4 games; the Browns are 3-1 in those games.  Flacco has averaged 326.8 yards per game passing with 10 TDs and 7 INTs.

You make the call …

Let me move on to a review of last week’s games:

Rams 30  Saints 22:  The Saints made a game of it in the fourth quarter scoring 15 of their 22 points then, but the Rams dominated the game.  The Saints’ running game was a no-show; 35 yards on 16 carries.  Also, the Saints went for it 3 times on fourth down and failed to convert any of those attempts.  The Rams’ total offense in the game was 458 yards.  Rams are now well positioned for a playoff run with an interesting schedule in the next two weeks:

  • At Giants – – Rams should be a touchdown favorite here
  • At Niners – – will the Niners have anything to play for?

Steelers 34  Bengals 11:  The Steelers’ offense seemed to regain consciousness here gaining 397 yards in the game.  Mason Rudolph threw for 290 yards and 2 TDs.  Jake Browning accumulated yardage but also threw 3 INTs.  George Pickens had a huge day catching 4 passes for 195 yards and 2 TDs.  The result of this game is that both teams now have their playoff hopes on life support.  Neither is mathematically eliminated; neither is anywhere near likely to get in.

Raiders 20  Chiefs 14:  This game has one of the oddest stat sheets ever.  The Raiders won the game despite having only 48 yards passing in the game and being outgained by more than 100 yards in the game and not scoring an offensive TD in the game.  The Raiders did not even attempt a pass in the second half of the game.  The Chiefs had the ball for more than 34 minutes.  The turning point was a span of 7 seconds late in the second quarter.  First, the Chiefs bungled a direct snap from center to running back Isaiah Pacheco which resulted in a Scoop and Score TD for the Raiders.  On the first offensive play after the kickoff, Patrick Mahomes threw a Pick Six.  The Raiders’ defense was able to parlay those scores into a victory.  The Raiders could win the AFC West if they win out and the Chiefs lose out.

Bills 24  Chargers 22:  Recall that I said the Chargers could experience the football version of Wall Street’s “dead cat bounce”.  The Chargers dominated time of possession and won the turnover battle 3-0.  Still, that was not enough for a win.  The Bills will make the playoffs if they win out; here is the remaining schedule for the Bills:

  • Vs. Pats – – should be a solid favorite here
  • At Dolphins – – Maybe the winner is NFC East champion as well as a playoff participant?

Eagles 33  Giants 25:  The Eagles outgained the Giants 465 yards to 292 yards; that difference usually produces an outcome that is more lopsided than a “one-score game”.  Let me give you a flavor of the imbalance on the stat sheet:

  • Eagles’ Time of Possession = 34:38   Giants’ Time of Possession = 25:22
  • Eagles’ First Downs = 28   Giants’ First Downs = 14
  • Eagles’ Offensive plays = 74   Giants Offensive plays = 59

The Eagles led 20-3 at halftime but a Giant’s TD in the third quarter followed by a Pick Six thrown by Jalen Hurts closed the gap to 20-18.  The fourth quarter was a nail-biter despite the statistical imbalance.  The 2023 Eagles are the masters of “winning ugly”.  As of this morning their record is 11-4 but their point differential for the season is only +26.  This win coupled with the Cowboys’ loss to the Dolphins puts the Eagles in first place in the NFC East.

Ravens 33  Niners 19:  The Ravens dominated this game on offense and on defense despite the stat sheet saying that the Niners outgained the Ravens by 87 yards.  Lamar Jackson accounted for 297 yards from scrimmage (passing + running) and 2 TDs.  The Ravens’ defense intercepted 5 passes in the game.

Browns 36  Texans 22:  The Browns and the Cowboys have the same record; there is lots of talk about the Cowboys being a Super Bowl participant; there is little to no talk about the Browns being part of that game.  Amari Cooper was the dominant player in this game:

  • 11 receptions for 265 yards and 2 TDs

The Browns led 36-7 with 12 minutes left in the game.  The Texans got two meaningless TDs to make the game appear closer than it was.  The Texans remain tied with the Jags and the Colts in the AFC South race despite this loss because the Jags and Colts both lost last weekend too.

Lions 30  Vikes 24:  The Lions have won the NFC North for the first time since 1993.  The Vikes were driving for a potential game-winning TD in the final minute of the game, but the Lions’ defense intercepted a Nick Mullens pass at the Lions’ 5 yardline to seal the deal for the Lions.  That was Mullens’ 4th INT for the day.  Mullens did throw for 411 yards in the game which is what kept the game close because the Vikes’ total rushing offense for the day was 17 yards on only 11 rushing attempts.

Packers 33  Panthers 30:  This game was as even on the stat sheet as it was on the scoreboard.  The Packers had the ball late in the 4th quarter and were able to get into field goal range and converted that play to provide the margin of victory with 19 seconds left on the clock.  The Packers can still make the playoffs in the NFC with this win.

Falcons 29  Colts 10:  Taylor Heinicke got the start at QB for the Falcons and produced 406 yards on offense.  Gardner Minshew had one of his “lesser performances” leading the Colts to only 262 yards on offense.  The Falcons are only one game behind the Bucs in the NFC South as of this morning.

Seahawks 20  Titans 17:  Here is a taste of how even this game was:

  • Seahawks’ First Downs = 21   Titans’ First Downs = 23
  • Seahawks’ 3rd down conversions = 7 of 13   Titans’ 3rd down conversions = 6 of 12
  • Seahawks Total Offense = 273 yards   Titans’ Total Offense = 287 yards
  • Seahawks’ Avg Gain per play = 4.6 yards   Titans’ Avg Gain per play = 4.5 yards

The Titans took a 17-13 lead with 3 minutes to play in the game, but the Seahawks were able to get the game winning TD from Geno Smith with a minute left to play.

Jets 30  Commanders 28:  It was Jacoby Brisset to the rescue for the Commanders again this week.  The Commanders trailed 27-7 at halftime; Brisset entered the game midway in the 3rd quarter and led the team to three TDs to take the lead at 28-27 with about 5 minutes to play.  The Jets were able to maneuver themselves into field goal range to kick a game-winning 54-yard field goal with 10 seconds left.  The Jets had the ball for more than 36 minutes in the game and outgained the Commanders by 136 yards and still needed last second heroics to win this game.  Wow …!

Bucs 30  Jags 12:  Don’t look now but the Bucs have won 4 games in a row and the Jags have lost 4 games in a row.  If you saw that coming sometime before Thanksgiving, raise your hand.  If the season ended today, both teams would be playoff-bound.  The Bucs led this game 30-0 in the third quarter; the game was a rout.

Bears 27  Cards 16:  The Bears dominated the game leading 21-0 in the second quarter and 24-10 in the 4th quarter.  The Bears accumulated 420 yards on offense; Justin Fields threw for 170 yards and ran for another 97 yards in the game.  The Bears’ record this morning is 6-9 and they are not yet mathematically eliminated from the NFC playoffs, but I have not been able to figure out what their road to a playoff slot would look like.  Interestingly, with that 6-9 record, the Bears’ point differential for the season is only minus-31 points.  As a reference, the Jets are also 6-9 this year and the Jets point differential is minus-84 points.

Dolphins 22  Cowboys 20:  The Dolphins scored 1 TD in this game and kicked 5 field goals – – the last one as time expired – – for a narrow win at home.  The Cowboys’ road woes continued here; they are 7-0 at home and only 3-5 on the road.  The Dolphins’ win keeps them atop the NFC East for this week.  However, if the Dolphins were to lose this weekend on the road against the Ravens and if the Bills win this weekend over the Pats in Buffalo, that will set up the Bills and Dolphins in Week 18 where the winner is the AFC East champion, and the loser is a wildcard team.  Should it come down to this, that Week 18 matchup will be in Miami where the Dolphins are 7-1 this year.

Pats 26  Broncos 23:  The Pats led 23-7 to start the 4th quarter but the Broncos rallied to tie the game 23-23 with about 3 minutes left to play in the game.  The Pats managed to get to a point where they had a 56-yard field goal try to win the game with 7 seconds left in the game.  That kick was good, and the Pats won only their 4th game of the year.  The Broncos are not eliminated from the AFC playoffs as a result of this loss, but their road to the playoffs is a winding and treacherous one to be sure.


NFL Games this Week:


Four NFC teams have guaranteed themselves a slot in the playoffs.  The Eagles and Cowboys will both participate but it is not yet determined which will be the NFC East champion and which will be a wildcard team.  As of this morning, the Eagles hold a 1-game lead over the Cowboys.  The Lions and the Niners are both in the playoffs as winners of their respective divisions.

Only two of the AFC playoff positions are filled as of now.  The Ravens are in even though they have not clinched the AFC North title and the Dolphins are also in under the same circumstances.

An announcement came yesterday that the Broncos would bench Russell Wilson for the last two games of the season and will start Jarrett Stidham in those games.  The justification for this is to “preserve their financial flexibility in the coming offseason.”  Remember, the Broncos are not eliminated from this year’s playoffs.  Here is the explanation from a report at

“One key reason behind the switch is financial … Wilson has a $37 million injury guarantee for 2025 that becomes fully guaranteed in March. Sitting the QB the final two weeks to ensure he doesn’t suffer a catastrophic injury provides the Broncos financial flexibility if Sean Payton and Co. decide to move on from the 35-year-old quarterback in 2024. It’s not a done deal, but the late-season benching is a strong indicator Denver will end the Wilson ride after two seasons.

“Wilson is due $39 million fully guaranteed in 2024.”

There is no Monday Night Football this week; the NFL games are on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.

(Thurs Nite) Jets at Browns – 7.5 (34.5):  I guess the Jets will stick with Trevor Siemian as their QB this week after the Jets scored 30 points last week.  Problem is simple:

  • Last week, the Jets played the Commanders with the worst defense in the NFL this year.
  • This week the Jets play the Browns whose defense is among the best in the NFL this year.

There is no question who the QB for the Browns will be here; that would be Joe Flacco.  I suspect that he will find it difficult to torch the Jets’ defense the way he has some of the Browns’ recent opponents, but the Browns will win the game and secure a playoff spot in the process.

(Sat Nite) Lions at Cowboys – 6 (54): This is the Game of the Week matching two teams who will be in the NFC playoffs and who bring a combined record of 21-9 to the kickoff.   In terms of the intangibles, this game should go to the Cowboys.  The Lions clinched their division for the first time in 30 years last week; a small letdown is to be expected notwithstanding the fire in Coach Dan Campbell’s belly.  The game is in Dallas where the Cowboys are undefeated in 2023.  The Cowboys need this win if they still harbor hope for an NFC East title and/or an overall #1 seed in the NFC playoffs.  Now for the football part of the equation, the Lions’ pass defense is a weak spot.  Last week, Nick Mullens threw for 400+ yards against the Lions (see above); I don’t see the Lions holding Dak Prescott and company to a meager offensive showing.  The Total Line here is a bit higher than I would expect but I will avoid an UNDER selection here; however, I do like the Cowboys to win and cover; put that in the “Betting Bundle”.

Dolphins at Ravens – 3.5 (47):  I thought about this game as the Game of the Week.  This could be a letdown game for the Ravens after they dismantled the Niners last week.  This game could be difficult for the Dolphins in that it is the second game of a very tough 3-game sequence in their schedule – – Cowboys last week, Ravens this week, Bills next week.  There is also a “weather trend” at work here.

  • Since 2017, the Dolphins are 1-17 in games where the temperature at kickoff is 45 degrees or below.
  • The weather forecast has the high temperature on Sunday in Baltimore at 45 degrees.

Pats at Bills – 12 (40.5):  The Bills need this game to keep their playoff hopes alive; the Pats are playing out the string.  I do not like the fact that the Bills needed to rally to beat a bad Chargers team last week, but they should have their act together at home here and win the game.  But there is no way I would play this at a double-digit spread.

Falcons at Bears – 3 (38):  This is my Dog-Breath Game of the Week.  CBS Sports gives the Falcons a 4.9% chance of making the playoffs; CBS Sports gives the Bears a “less than 1.0% chance of making the playoffs.  That is enough for me.

Titans at Texans – 4.5 (43):  The Texans beat the Titans a couple of weeks ago in a close game.  Will CJ Stoud be able to play and if so, will he be able to play to the level he established earlier this year?  Will Levis may or may not be back for the Titans; that is another issue to consider.  The Texans need a win a lot more than do the Titans who are mathematically eliminated from the AFC playoffs.

Raiders at Colts – 3.5 (44):  The Raiders (7-8) need this win to keep their longshot odds to make the playoffs alive.  Similarly, the Colts (8-8) need to win to assure themselves a shot at the division title next week.  The Raiders’ defense dominated the Chiefs last week (see above); was that performance based on emotion or has the defense figured out how to play better?  At the same time, the Raiders’ OL stepped up significantly in that game.  The OL has been a weak point all season long.  This is the second straight road game for the Raiders, but I am counting on that defensive front to make life miserable for Gardner Minshew here; I’ll take the Raiders plus the points; put that in the “Betting Bundle”.

Panthers at Jags – 6.5 (38):  Trevor Lawrence hurt his shoulder last week – – adding to his concussion and ankle injuries.  For insurance, the Jags signed Matt Barkley in case Lawrence cannot go and CJ Beathard gets hurt.  Color me unimpressed with that roster move.  The Jags need to break a 4-game losing streak; for a team with such a need, the best scheduling twist available is to draw the Panthers…

Rams – 4.5 at Giants (43.5):  The Rams are playing very well and have a playoff slot in their crosshairs.  The Giants’ defense has come around, but the Giants’ offense is a hot mess at best.  It is a long trip and a body-clock game for the Rams; that is why I am not making a selection here.

Cards at Eagles – 11 (48):  I toyed with this as the Dog-Breath Game of the Week.  The Eagles are in the playoffs no matter what; the Cards have been eliminated for a couple of weeks now.  Last week, I said the Eagles should not be 13.5-point favorites over a USFL team; they have the talent to beat the Cards by several TDs, but they have had that sort of a talent advantage in several games earlier this year and not delivered.  Cards’ coach, Jonathan Gannon, returns to the Linc to play his team from last year.  I am tempted to take the OVER here – – but will not.

Saints at Bucs – 2.5 (42.5):  Baker Mayfield’s contract is one-year and $4M.  He has earned that money several times over already.  His contract calls for a $1M bonus if the Bucs win their division – – and beating the Saints here will assure the Bucs that title.  Motivation anyone …?

Niners – 13.5 at Commandeers (48):  Kyle Shanahan spent some less-than-fully-pleasant time at FedEx Field as the offensive coordinator of the ‘Skins.  Chase Young was on the Commanders’ roster until he was traded away at the end of October.  They will both be motivated to do well on Sunday.  The Commanders stink; they may or may not be better than the Panthers at this point of the season. Even if they start Jacoby Brisset to experience his magic for the entire game, I don’t think it will matter.  I think there will be scoring in the game so give me the OVER here; put that in the “Betting Bundle”.

Steelers at Seahawks – 3.5 (42):  I really think that the key question for this game is:

  • Can Mason Rudolph play the way he did last week again this week?

If he does, the Steelers will win the game outright.  If not, the Steelers will lose, be out of the playoffs, and will face pressure to win their final game next week to avoid the first Steelers’ losing season since Mike Tomlin took over in 2007.

Bengals at Chiefs – 7 (44):  Last week when the Eagles were 13.5-point favorites over the Giants, I said I would not make the Eagles that big a favorite over a USFL team.  Well, the Chiefs inspire about that same level of confidence this week.  The Chiefs have lost 4 of their last 6 games and instead of improving as the season progressed, the Chiefs’ performances have stagnated.  The Bengals are not nearly the powerhouse many folks expected this year, but the Bengals are not coming apart at the seams.  Back in August, this looked like a sure-fire contender for Game of the Week.  Hah!

Chargers at Broncos – 3 (37.5):  The spread opened at 6 points and was steady there until yesterday’s announcement about the benching of Russell Wilson for the rest of the season.  So, the QB matchup this week will be Easton Stick vs. Jarrett Stidham.  If that inspires you to wager real money on this game, you probably need an intervention.

(Sun Nite) Packers at Vikes – 2 (46):  The loser of this game can make Caribbean cruise reservations for January.  The Vikes get lots of yardage with Nick Mullens at QB but seem to flame-out in the Red Zone.  They need to find a cure for that – – quickly.

So, let me review the “Betting Bundle”:

  • Washington +4.5 against Texas
  • Cowboys – 6 over Lions
  • Raiders +3.5 against Colts
  • Niners/Commanders OVER 48

            Here are two Money Line Parlays just to add to the fun:

  • Bills @ minus-700
  • Raiders @ +165         $100 wager to win $203.

And …

  • Cowboys @ minus-260
  • Eagles @ minus-500
  • Niners @ minus-525             $100 wager to win $98.

Finally, some words of wisdom from former Tennessee coach, Bowden Wyatt:

“My advice to defensive players: Take the shortest route to the ball and arrive in a bad humor.”

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



Records Are Meant to Be Broken

As they say in France, if you are une personne d’un certain âge – someone of a certain age – you will recall ABC’s Wide World of Sports and the phrase:

“The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat…”

The NBA’s Detroit Pistons have known nothing but the agony of defeat since October 28, 2023; that is 60 days ago for those of you keeping score at home.  In that span, the Pistons have lost 27 consecutive basketball games setting a new single-season record for futility.  To put a bit of perspective on that “dry spell”, consider that the Texas Rangers had not yet won the World Series when the Pistons last won an NBA game.

The previous NBA record for single-season futility belonged jointly to the Sixers and the Cavs; as of this morning, the Pistons own that record outright.  Note that I have repeatedly referred to this current losing streak as the “single-season record”; that is because the record for most consecutive losses stands at 28 games and that one belongs to the Sixers across the boundaries of the 2014/15 and the 2015/16 seasons.  You should recall that was a time when the Sixers were in the throes of “The Process” where losing carried a cachet and not a stigma.

The Pistons can claim part ownership of that ultimate losing streak with a loss in their next game.  Here is a look at the Pistons’ schedule for the next two weeks:

  • Dec 28:  AT Boston – – current record 23-6 (best record in the NBA)
  • Dec 30:  VS Toronto – – current record 11-18 (would set the new record)
  • Jan 1:  AT Houston – – current record 15-13
  • Jan 3:  AT Utah – – current record 13-18
  • Jan 5:  AT Golden State – – current record 15-15
  • Jan 7:  AT Denver – – current record 22-10
  • Jan 9:  VS Kings – – current record 17-12
  • Jan 10:  VS Spurs – – current record 4-25

Things look bleak for the Pistons and their fans.  [Aside:  It would seem that Pistons’ fans have stood by the team in these dark days.  The Pistons have averaged 17,882 fans per game over 15 home games so far this season.]  If the Pistons do set a new record by losing at home to the Raptors, the fact that they would go on the road for their next 4 games is not a good sign at all.

It is too early to make full season projections, but consider this as a metric:

  • Back in the 1970s when the Sixers set the full season mark for futility with a 9-73 record, that was a winning percentage of .110.
  • Here in the 2023-203-24 season the Pistons have a winning percentage of .067.
  • Moreover, the Spurs have a winning percentage of only .138.
  • And the Wizards have a winning percentage of only .172.

When the Sixers set that mark back in the 70s, they had a new coach at the start of the season; he lasted 48 games; the team replaced him when the team record was 4-44.  The Pistons are not likely to replace their coach this year.  They just signed Coach Monty Williams to a 6-year contract with $78.5 M guaranteed; that would be huge buyout for the owners to swallow and that is far too much money for Williams to “leave on the table” by resigning.

Moving on …  This is the time of year when eligible voters for baseball’s Hall of Fame are preparing their ballots. had a piece recently that ran under this headline:

“Is Chase Utley a Hall of Famer?  Why glorious peak could get former Phillies star into Cooperstown”

I think the answer is “Yes, Chase Utley belongs in the Hall of Fame” and I believe that matter was settled in 2001 when the Veterans’ Committee voted to include Bill Mazeroski in the Hall of Fame.  Both Utley and Mazeroski played second base for more than 90% of their careers; so, comparisons of their stats are far more like apples-to-apples than they are apples-to-oranges.

  • Mazeroski was the better fielder; he won a Gold Glove Award seven times in his career.  Utley never won a Gold Glove.
  • Utley won the Silver Slugger Award four times in his career.  Mazeroski could not have won the award because it did not exist when he was playing MLB.

At the plate, Utley was clearly superior to Mazeroski with these career stats:

  • Tenure in MLB:  Mazeroski = 17 years   Utley = 16 years
  • Career Batting Average:  Mazeroski – .260  Utley = .275
  • Career OBP:  Mazeroski = .299  Utley = .358
  • Career OPS:  Mazeroski = .667   Utley = .823
  • Bill Mazeroski never led the NL in any offensive category in his 17 years in the major leagues and his best season in runs scored was 71.
  • Chase Utley never led the NL in any offensive category – – except hit by pitch – – in his 16 years in the major leagues but he scored more than 71 runs in 9 seasons.

My conclusion is simple.  If Bill Mazeroski is a member of the baseball Hall of Fame, then Chase Utley should also be a member of the baseball Hall of Fame.

Finally, since today involved a deep dive into some MLB stats, let me close with some words from Casey Stengel:

“A lot of people my age are dead at the present time.”

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



Boxing Day Has Nothing To Do With Boxing

Today is Boxing Day in many parts of the world.  The holiday was originally meant to be a day when gifts were given to the needy; today it is a public holiday celebrated as part of the festivities of the Christmas season.  Here in the US, Boxing Day is the day when folks pack into boxes the things they got for Christmas that they want to return; it is a high traffic/high revenue day for UPS and FedEx.  Happy Boxing Day to all …

Jerry Kill has had to step down as the head football coach at New Mexico St.  He had been the coach of the Aggies for only two years but in that time, he amassed a record of 17-11, which is a major improvement of football fortunes in that part of the world.  Coach Kill has been dealing with health issues related to epilepsy for more than a decade now and those issues caused him to resign as the coach at Minnesota in the middle of the 2015 season.

Coach Kill remained in the football world as a special assistant to various other coaches after taking a couple of years off to deal with his health.  He returned to the sidelines in 2021 at New Mexico State.  In his career, he has taken over several programs that were “in distress” and turned them around; his overall coaching record is 175-115.  Jerry Kill is 62 years old; he has earned his retirement.

  •  Bonne chance Jerry Kill…

Sticking with the broad theme of college football coaches, the University of Colorado will offer a new course in its College of Media Communication and Information (CMCI).  The course number will be CMCI 4021, and the course title will be:

  • “Prime Time: Public Performance and Leadership”

Yes, the course will be on how Coach Prime handles his celebrity status in addition to his head coaching responsibilities.  As part of the course description, the school catalog contains this information:

“The course will focus on helping college athletes explore how to manage their time in college, prepare for career, manage their celebrity, identify when best to speak into their profit center, advocate for worthy causes, coordinate with sports agents and how to interact with journalists and the media.”

No, Deion Sanders will not teach the course.  But would you be shocked to your foundations if you heard that he attended one of the classes to “give a lecture” or to demonstrate how to conduct a press event?  I expect that will happen at one point…

Staying in the realm of college football, Casey Thompson has entered the NCAA transfer portal.  If you are wondering why that is even marginally interesting, let me peel back a couple of layers of this announcement:

  • When Thomson finds/selects a school, he will go there and be part of college football for a seventh season.  A redshirt year, an added year of eligibility due to COVID and whatever other arcane rules the NCAA applies to “eligibility” have seemingly given Thompson the athletic equivalent of tenure in college football.
  • Thompson was at Texas from 2019 through 2021.
  • Thompson was at Nebraska in 2022.
  • Thompson was at Florida Atlantic in 2023.
  • Quo vadis Casey Thompson?

Reacting to the news of Thompson’s entering the transfer portal, here is the assessment offered by humorist, Brad Dickson:

“Casey Thompson is going to return for his SEVENTH year of college. This ties the record of Bluto Blutarsky in ‘Animal House.’”

Switching gears and switching sports …  The LA Dodgers were clearly not content with signing Shohei Ohtani to a $700M contract – – much of it deferred compensation – – because they have also signed Yoshinobu Yamamoto to a $325M contract over the next 12 years.  Yamamoto has been dominant in Japanese leagues for the last several years, but he has never thrown a pitch in a Major League game.  The Dodgers have taken a hefty gamble here.

The magnitude of Ohtani’s contract raised eyebrows, but Ohtani is an established major league player who can pitch and play every day as a designated hitter.  In addition to receiving votes in his career for the Cy Young Award, Ohtani finished this year with the best OPS in the AL at 1.066.  One can think the Dodgers committed more resources than they should have to one player, but one cannot think Ohtani will be “a bust” – – save for injury of course.

Yamamoto’s deal is similarly surprising due to its magnitude, but it is made even more interesting by the Dodgers’ faith in their scouts who have seen him play in Japan and their conclusion that his talents will indeed translate to MLB.  For the record, the Dodgers are on the hook for $1.025B to these two players PLUS the Dodgers will pay Yamamoto’s Japanese team $50M in exchange for the playing rights to Yoshinobu Yamamoto.  Deep pockets …

Finally, the following quotation from financier, J. P. Morgan, seems to have been a guiding principle for the LA Dodgers ownership:

“If it makes the slightest difference to you what it costs, don’t try it.”

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



Writing Schedule …

I will be doing a rant later today (Dec.26th) and tomorrow (Dec 27th).

I will do a rant on Dec. 28th; it may be a Football Friday on Thursday if I have enough time to do the preparation work to get one of them done. If I do not have enough time for that, there will still be a rant a but there will not be a Football Friday this week.

I will also finish writing the annual Bad Ads rant sometime  in the next day or so and will post it before New Year’s Day.  Time = TBD…?

There will not be any rants from Dec 29th through Jan 2nd.  The Irish contingent of our family – – #1 son, daughter-in-law, and grandson, known in these parts as The Fog – – are in the US for the Holidays and will be visiting for that period of time.  I don’t have a firm schedule for those 5 days, but I know that the agenda will be jam-packed.

Best I can tell, I will be back on the air on Jan 3, 2024.

Happy New Year, everyone…



Football Friday 12/22/23

Earlier this week, my long-suffering wife and I had good friends come to our home for dinner.  One of the guests said that as a retiree, she thought it wasn’t quite right for her to say TGIF since she had not put in a full work week and every day of the week in retirement is pretty much like every other day.  In general, I agree with that position.

However, here in Curmudgeon Central, Friday is a “special day” because Friday manifests itself as Football Friday which identifies that day as different from the other six. Lemony Snicket famously asked:

  • “Why Is This Night Different From All Other Nights?”

I will answer for Fridays during the daytime in this part of the world simply by commencing this Football Friday in the usual manner – – reviewing last week’s “Betting Bundle”.

  • [Aside:  Until the last two weeks, the “Betting Bundle” has not been embarrassing when subjected to review; however, in the last two weeks the combined record is 1-5-0 which is shameful.]

Anyhow …

  • College:  0-0-0   =>   Season:  19-9-0
  • NFL:  1-2-0   =>   Season:  18-19-0
  • Parlays:  1-1    Profit:  $17    =>  Season:  8-13   Loss:  $130


College Football Commentary:


Yesterday, Florida State announced a “special board of trustees meeting” to be held today.  Reports are that the major item on the agenda is the Seminoles’ continued presence in the ACC.  That conference represents that it has an “ironclad grant of rights” from all its member schools that cannot be tinkered with until 2036.  Naturally, the terms and conditions of that ironclad document have never been challenged in court, the actual level of “ironcladedness” is still to be ascertained.

Seminoles’ fanboys are still hurting by the fact that undefeated Florida State was bumped from the CFP this year by not one but two teams with a loss on their record.  More than a few commentators who believe that strength of schedule matters in decisions such as the invitation to the CFP can rightly point to the fact that Florida St. did not play a schedule one might characterize as “Murderers’ Row”.  Nevertheless, that is not the motive force behind today’s meeting to consider the collegiate athletics version of “secession”.

As is always the case, the issue is money.  In terms of payments to the various schools in the ACC based on TV rights fees and revenues from the ACC Network, the ACC members get as much as $30M per year less than schools in the Big 10.  One of the trustees tipped his hand as regards his position on today’s agenda item when he was quoted as saying:

 “It’s not a matter of if we leave [the ACC], but how and when we leave.”

So, allow me a flight of fancy here and let me assume that Florida St. finds a way out of its commitment to the ACC.  Where might the Seminoles take up new residence – – assuming that another conference might want them?

  • SEC:  Geographically and regarding rivalries, this makes the most sense.  But does Florida want rival Florida St. as a conference foe?  And that would give the SEC an odd number of schools which becomes a scheduling headache.
  • Big 10:  Geographically, this makes almost no sense.  Look at the footprint of the Big 10 and ponder these questions:

Is Ohio St. the closest school in the Big 10 to Florida St. or is it Maryland?

How lovely will road trips to Washington and Oregon be?

  • Big 12:  The simple question here is, how much more money would Florida St. get as a Big 12member compared to staying in the ACC?  I do not know the answer to that question, but I would be surprised if it was a huge amount.
  • Independent:  Florida St. was an independent for much of its football history; it only joined the ACC in 1992 in the middle of Bobby Bowden’s tenure there.  There is no pot of gold in terms of TV revenues for an independent team unless the name is Notre Dame.  I think this is a non-starter of an option.

News out of Oxford MS is that Lane Kiffin and Ole Miss have reached an agreement for a contract extension for Coach Kiffin.  Details of the extension were not announced but state law in Mississippi does not allow state employees – – such as Kiffin – – to get extensions greater than 4 years.  This extension – – if it is indeed for 4 years – – would be a career departure for Lane Kiffin.

Lane Kiffin’s coaching career has been peripatetic to say the least.

  • He began his head coaching experience with the then Oakland Raiders in 2007.
  • In 2009, he was the head coach at Tennessee.
  • He took over the USC job in 2010 and remained there through the 2013 season.
  • From 2013 through 2016, he was the Offensive Coordinator at Alabama.
  • From there through 2019, Kiffin was the head coach at Florida Atlantic.
  • In December 2019, he signed on with Ole Miss.  If he stays through a 4-year extension, he will have been at Ole Miss for 9 years.  Unheard of …


NFL Commentary:


The NFC South is both pathetic and exciting.  None of the four teams has a winning record as of this morning (pathetic) but three of the four are within one game of one another (exciting).  The Bucs lead the division today with a record of 7-7 (based on tiebreakers) and the Bucs won the division last year with a regular season record of 8-9.  Here is what Bucs ‘coach Todd Bowles had to say about the next three weeks of this year’s regular season:

“It’s the playoffs for everybody right now. We’ve got to show up and do the right things we can to win the game. We’re all banged up, we’re all fighting for spots… I don’t really care where we play at, as long as we get in.”

Tom Brady was not generous in his comments on the quality of NFL football on display this season.  I did some counting and assuming that I got it right, there have been 244 regular season games to date in 2023.  Of those games, 155 of them (69.2%) have been one-score games.  [Aside:  I define “one-score” as 8 or fewer points.]  So, does that large fraction of close games represent league parity or does it mean there are not enough very good teams that can go out and beat up on “the rest of the league” routinely.  It would seem as if Tom Brady is on the side of “not enough good teams”.  The NFL probably likes the parity angle and sponsors who bought ads in late 4th quarter time slots don’t care about the underlying reason, but they are happy to have reason for fans to stay tuned in to the very end.

The NFL owners held a meeting recently and one announcement coming from that conclave was that there will be a regular season game played in Sao Paolo, Brazil next year.  The league played a regular season game in Germany for the first time this year; next year will give the league exposure in Brazil.  I once watched a Super Bowl game at a sports bar in Sydney, Australia and I will not be surprised if the NFL puts on a game there and finds an interested audience there.

The NFL’s 17-game schedule sets up conveniently for a way to schedule 8 international games.  With an odd number of regular season games for each team, what the league does is to have one conference hold 9 home games one year and then 8 home games in the next year.  Well, if the conference with 9 home games were to be scheduled to play 8 of their conference games overseas, that would send every team in the “9 home-game conference” to another country for one game.  If Sao Paulo demonstrates interest in next year’s game, the league could begin this way:

  • Three of the eight overseas games in London
  • Two of the eight overseas games in Germany
  • One of the eight overseas games in Mexico City
  • One of the eight overseas games in Sao Paulo
  • One of the eight overseas games in Australia

So, let it be written; so, let it be done …

The time has come for a look at last week’s NFL games:

Panthers 9  Falcons 7:  I told you this was the Dog-Breath Game of the Week last week …  The Falcons scored their TD in the second quarter with about 5 minutes left; they led 7-3 at halftime.  Here are the Falcons’ possessions in the second half:

  • 6 plays – – 27 yards – – 3:16 Time of Possession – – PUNT
  • 3 plays – – 1 yard – – 0:44 Time of Possession – – FUMBLE
  • 11 plays – – 51 yards – – 5:57 Time of Possession – – INT

That’s it; that’s the list.  The Falcons managed about 80 yards of offense and held the ball for about 10 minutes in a full half of a game against a team that was 1-12 at the kickoff.  If the football gods believe in “accountability” they will assure that the Falcons do not win their division after this bed-wetting.  I am now convinced that Desmond Ridder is not a “project” at QB; Desmond Ridder is a “mirage” at QB.

Browns 20  Bears 17:  The Browns are for real; the defense is excellent, and Joe Flacco is playing as if he were a character in a Hollywood movie about a guy who was watching games on his couch until he got an emergency call to come and be the QB of a pro team.  Oh wait; that’s the story of Joe Flacco’s year in 2023.  Here is Flacco’s stat line for the game:

  • 28 of 44 for 374 yards with 2 TDs and 3 INTs.

One of those INTs was a ball that bounded off the intended receiver’s hands and into the hands of a nearby defender.  The Browns won this game despite gaining only 29 yards rushing on 18 carries.  The Bears led this game by 10 points in the 4th quarter and blew it…

Texans 19  Titans 16 (OT):  Case Keenum stepped in for CJ Stroud and won the game for the Texans keeping them in serious contention for a playoff slot.  They outgained the Titans 340 yards to 204 yards.  The Texans’ defense held Derrick Henry to 9 yards rushing on 16 attempts which is pretty awful in and of itself.  But Henry’s long gain for the day was 4 yards meaning he only gained 5 yards on the other 15 carries.  The Texans’ defense sacked Will Levis 7 times.  The Titans led 13-0 early in the second quarter and then did this for the rest of the game:

  • 6 plays – – 9 yards – – PUNT
  • 5 plays – – 15 yards – – INT
  • 3 plays – – minus-17 yards – – PUNT
  • 5 plays – – 26 yards – – PUNT
  • 8 plays – – 19 yards – – FIELD GOAL
  • 6 plays – – 18 yards – – PUNT
  • 3 plays – – 1 yard – – PUNT
  • 6 plays – – 13 yards – – PUNT (This was possession #1 in OT)
  • 5 plays – – 5 yards – – PUNT (This was possession #2 in OT)

Chiefs 27  Pats 17:  This was not a great showing by the Chiefs, but it was good enough to beat a team that is sorely undermanned on offense.  Chiefs’ rookie WR, Rashee Rice, had another really good day catching 9 passes for 91 yards and 1 TD.

Saints 24  Giants 6:  I said last week that I thought the Giants had “emptied the gun” with Tommy DeVito at QB; the league’s defensive coordinators now have film on him to analyze.  It sure seems as if the Saints’ defensive braintrust figured it out in this game; the Saints sacked DeVito 6 times.  Total offense for the Giants was only 193 yards.  The Giants were also 2 of 16 on third down conversions.

Dolphins 30  Jets 0:  The Jets’ OL allowed 6 sacks in the first half of this game; total offense for the Jets was 103 yards and the net passing offense was 80 yards.  At halftime, the Jets trailed 24-0 and had generated a net offense of 4 yards.  The Jets also turned the ball over 4 times in the game to make this even more of a debacle than it would appear.  Playing without Tyreek Hill, the fact that the Dolphins hung 30 points on the Jets’ defense is impressive.

Bucs 34  Packers 20:  The Bucs hold onto first place in the NFC South (via tiebreakers) over the Saints with this win.  The Packers’ playoff hopes took a major hit with this eighth loss; they cannot win the division and there are five teams in the NFC with only 7 losses.  Baker Mayfield lit it up here:

  • 22 of 28 for 381 yards with 4 TDs and 0 INTs.

Niners 45  Cards 29:  The Cards outgained the Niners 436 yards to 406 yards and lost by 16 points; in the process, the Cards held the ball for more than 34 minutes in the game.  Two turnovers – – one of which was a Pick-Six – – did not help the Cards’ cause at all.

Rams 28  Commanders 20:  This game was not as close as the score indicates.  The Rams lost 2 fumbles inside the Commanders’ 10-yardline after long drives.  The Rams are clearly a better team than the Commanders.  The Rams gained 445 yards on offense including 196 yards running the ball.  At the half, the Rams had 242 yards of offense to the Commanders 82 yards of offense.  Jacoby Brisset relieved Sam Howell in the game and led the Commanders to 2 TDs; does that mean the Commanders will give up on Howell?  They should not …

Bills 31  Cowboys 10:  The shock here is that the Cowboys’ offense was held to 195 yards with only 106 yards passing.  Even so, the Cowboys had more passing yards than the Bills who only netted 85 yards through the air.  What happened is that the Bills ran the ball down the throat of the Cowboys’ defense gaining 266 yards rushing on 49 attempts.  Notwithstanding this loss, based on other happenings last weekend, the Cowboys are now assured of a playoff slot in the NFC.  The Cowboys are 7-0 at home and only 3-4 on the road this year.  All the talk about Dak Prescott as MVP needs to take a short break here after he posted this rancid stat line:

  • 21 of 34 for 134 yards with 0 TDs and 1 INT

Ravens 23  Jags 7:  The Ravens dominated this game from the beginning and this win assures the Ravens of an AFC playoff slot.  This is the third loss in a row for the Jags giving them the same record as the Colts and the Texans, but the Jags remain in the lead in the AFC South via tiebreakers.  The Jags continue to confound regarding their home and road records:

  • Jags at Home = 3-5
  • Jags Away = 5-1

The Jags all but gave the game away in the first half when they got inside the Ravens’ 40-yard line 4 times.  For their trouble, the Jags netted exactly zero points. They missed two field goals; Trevor Lawrence lost a fumble; and then they gave away a shot at a chip-shot field goal with some horrible clock management at end the first half.

Bengals 27  Vikes 24 (OT):  The Vikes under the direction of Nick Mullens outgained the Bengals by 46 yards in the game; Mullens posted what looks like an impressive stat line until you notice that both INTs were in the Red Zone.  Overall, Mullens went:

  • 26 of 33 for 303 yards with 2 TDs and those 2 INTs in the Red Zone.

The Bengals trailed 17-3 at the start of the 4th quarter; this was a heroic comeback win.  The loss is the 7th this season for the Vikes meaning they are in a scramble with 4 other NFC teams for a playoff slot.  The Bengals’ win gives them an 8-6 record and keeps them alive in the AFC playoff picture for now.

Colts 30  Steelers 13:  The Colts remain in the playoff picture in the AFC: the Steelers are now only a mathematical possibility.  The Steelers’ offense was a no-show again last week generating only 216 yards for the game.  With 14 minutes to go in the second quarter, the Steelers led 13-0.  After that the offense went into hibernation:

  • 3 plays – – 14 yards – – INT
  • 6 plays – – 31 yards – – PUNT
  • 3 plays – – 9 yards – – HALFTIME
  • 1 play – – 2 yards – — FUMBLE
  • 3 plays – – minus-2 yards – – PUNT
  • 8 plays – – 36 yards – – PUNT
  • 7 plays – – 26 yards – – INT
  • 4 plays – – minus-8 yards – – TURNOVER ON DOWNS
  • 2 plays – – 13 yards – – GAME OVER

Lions 42  Broncos 17:  So, this week the Lions were the bullies and not the bullied.  Here are data to give you a sense of the Lions’ dominance:

  • Lions’ Offense = 448 yards   Broncos’ Offense = 287 yards.
  • Lions’ rushing = 6.6 yards per carry   Broncos’ rushing = 3.0 yards per carry
  • Lions’ Red Zone = 6 for 6 TDs   Broncos’ Red Zone = 2 of 3 for TDs

Here is the offensive output for the Broncos in the first half where they fell behind 21-0:

  • 4 plays – – 41 yards – – FUMBLE
  • 3 plays – – 1 yard – – PUNT
  • 6 plays – – 30 yards – – PUNT
  • 3 plays – – minus-12 yards – – PUNT
  • 7 plays – – 11 yards – – PUNT
  • 1 play – – minus-1 yard – – HALFTIME

Do the math.  The Broncos gained 70 yards on 24 plays in 2 quarters of football …


Games This Week:


There has been a lot of talk about how important this week’s games are for the handful of players who are in contention for the 2023 MVP Award.  Ordinarily, I prefer to ignore those sorts of speculations until the season is over, but I do want to make one exception.  For this year’s Comeback Player of the Year, my vote – – if I had one – – would have been locked in on Monday night November 13th.  On that night, Damar Hamlin was active, played in the game and made one tackle.  Later in the season, he doubled those stats giving him 2 tackles in 2 games in 2023.  And for that, Damar Hamlin is my unquestioned choice as the Comeback Player of the Year.  I will listen to no arguments to the contrary!

(Sat 4:30 PM ET) Bengals – 3 at Steelers (38):  The spread opened as a “pick ‘em” game and has trended to the Bengals all week long.  The two teams have been headed in opposite directions over the past month with the Bengals on a three-game winning streak and the
Steelers losing three in a row.  Mitchell Trubisky goes to the bench this week in favor of Mason Rudolph; I have no idea if that is an upgrade, a downgrade or just a lateral arabesque.  The Bengals will be without Jamar Chase for the game; that is a downgrade for the Bengals’ offense.  Count this as an elimination game for the Steelers.  The Bengals need the win to continue their favorable positioning in the AFC wildcard race.  AFC North games are always fun to watch and this one should be no exception.

(Sat 8:30 PM ET) Bills – 13 at Chargers (44):  This line has flown all over the place this week.  It opened with the Bills as 9-point favorites; then it soared to 14 points and even 14.5 points around Tuesday and early Wednesday.  Then came a flow of “Chargers money” dropping the line to 11 at which point “Bills’ money” showed up again and settled the line between 12.5 and 13.5 depending on which book you are looking at.  The Bills’ offense has been clicking recently and the Chargers’ defense is porous to say the least.  I am tempted by the OVER because I think there is a reasonable chance that the Bills will score in the high 30s here, but I will resist that because I fear the football equivalent of what Wall Street calls the “dead cat bounce” – – if you drop a dead cat from high enough, it will bounce a little bit once it lands.  Wall St. thinks about that as financially troubled stocks crater in value; I worry about it in the NFL sense when a bad team fires its coach, and the bad team puts it together for a game or two and looks less bad.

Colts at Falcons – 2.5 (44.5):  I gave this game a passing thought as the Dog-Breath Game of the Week because neither team is fun to watch.  However, the game is important to both teams regarding their playoff aspirations this season, so I dropped that thought.  The Falcons will start Taylor Heinicke in favor of Desmond Ridder here; the Colts will continue to go with “The 2023 Gardner Minshew Experience”.  If you think you have a handle on the outcome of this game, teach me how to read the entrails of goats.

Packers – 5 at Panthers (37):  Two weeks ago, the Packers looked like a shoo-in for a wild card slot in the NFC playoffs – – and then proceeded to lose 2 games in a row.  They remain “in the hunt” but it is not clear to me whether they are predators or prey at this juncture.  What I know is that the Panthers’ offense has been putrid all year long and has not scored an offensive TD in the last two games – – coaching change notwithstanding.  The key here is for the Packers to stop the Panthers from running the football because the Packers’ defense has been vulnerable to the run all season long.

Browns – 1.5 at Texans (40.5):  Here is a stat I ran across earlier this week:

  • The Texans are 4-1 against teams who arrive at the kickoff with winning records.  Only two teams are better so far this year:
  • The Niners are 5-0 and the Ravens are 5-1 against such opponents.
  • That is lofty company for the 2023 Houston Texans.

Oh, by the way, the Browns have a winning record as of this morning …  This game has serious implications for both teams and their playoff hopes.  I love the Texans as a storyline for the 2023 NFL season, but I like the Browns storyline too; I think the Browns’ defense wins this one; I’ll take the Browns to win and cover on the road; put that in the “Betting Bundle”.

Seahawks – 3 at Titans (41):  The Titans’ QB is a game-time decision.  Will Levis hurt his ankle last week after taking 7 sacks against the Texans; the Titans may need to go back to Ryan Tannehill for this game.  Geno Smith is set to return for the Seahawks this week.  The Titans are eliminated from the playoff chase, but the Seahawks took a big step forward last week with their win at home over the Eagles.  Another win puts them in a positive position; a loss would be difficult to overcome.

Commanders at Jets – 3 (37):  Here you have it, folks; this is the Dog-Breath Game of the Week.  The two teams line up at the kickoff with a combined record of 9-19.  In addition, consider all this:

  • The Jets are last in the NFL in Total Offense and average only 14.4 points per game.
  • The Commanders are last in the NFL in Total Defense and give up 30.2 points per game.

As Frank Sinatra sang:

“Somethin’s gotta give; somethin’s gotta give’ somethin’s gotta give …”

As an added element of putrescence for the game, the Jets will start Trevor Siemian at QB; he will be the fourth Jets’ starting QB of this season.  With Zach Wilson questionable due to concussion protocol, Siemian’s backup would be Brett Rypien.  I wonder what the OVER/UNDER line for Total Punts in the Game might be…?

Lions – 3 at Vikes (47):  The Vikes’ defense under the tutelage of Brian Flores blitzes more often than any other team this year and their success with their blitzes is what fuels the defense,  The Lions are second in the NFL in rushing offense and if the Lions can run the ball effectively it will limit the effectiveness of the Vikes’ blitzes and minimize the opportunities for the Vikes to deploy them.  The Lions can wrap up the NFC North title with a win here; a loss for the Vikes is not fatal to their playoff chances – – but a loss will hurt.  If you like trends:

  • The Vikes have covered five games in a row when they were the underdog.
  • The Vikes are the underdog here.

Jags at Bucs – 2 (40):  The spread opened with the Jags as 3-point favorites; then came reports that Trevor Lawrence was in the concussion protocol and the line shifted almost immediately to this number.  The fact that it has remained there tells me that the betting public expects Lawrence to miss the game this week.  If so, it will be the first time in his NFL career than he has not been the starting QB for the Jags,  This is a big game for both teams; the Bucs have won 3 in a row and lead the NFC South based on tiebreakers but need a win to maintain that position; the Jags have lost 3 games in a row and have squandered their lead in the AFC South such that they now have the same record (8-6) as the Colts and the Texans in that division.

Cowboys at Dolphins – 1 (49.5):  The spread opened with the Cowboys as 1-point favorites, and it has bounced around between those two numbers all week.  A huge question for this game is the availability of Tyreek Hill for the Dolphins; reports say he was a “full participant” in practice with the team this week.  I guess that means he will play…  Both teams’ scoring average is more than 30 points per game – – and so I wonder why the Total Line is as low as it is and has been steady around that level all week.  The Cowboys’ road-game troubles have been chronicled to death and this is a road-game for the Cowboys against a team with a solid winning record.  Can they find a cure for their “road-game aversion”?  Maybe the oddsmakers are sucking me in here, but I think this game goes OVER the Total Line comfortably; put that in the “Betting Bundle:”

Cards at Bears – 4 (43.5):  This could have been the Dog-Breath Game of the Week; it is little consequence and neither team is a compelling attraction.  Both teams have a shot at owning the Overall #1 pick in the draft next year thanks to the Bears’ acquisition of the Panther’s pick.  So, losing this game is not much of a setback for either team.

(Sun Nite) Pats at Broncos – 6 (34):  The Total Line opened at 36 points and has been eroding all week long; you can find it at 33.5 points at one sportsbook this morning.  Frankly, I have no idea how the Pats are going to move the ball effectively against the Broncos’ defense; the Pats’ offense is anemic at best.  The weather forecast says there could be snow in Denver this weekend with accumulations up to 5 inches.  That should not assist the Pats’ offense even a little bit. The Broncos still have hope for the playoffs and should be motivated beyond the level for the Pats; I’ll take the Broncos at home to win and cover; put that in the “Betting Bundle”.

(Mon 1:00 PM ET) Raiders at Chiefs – 11 (41):  This is a rivalry game that goes back to the origins of the old AFL in the 60s.  Since Patrick Mahomes arrived in KC, the Chiefs are 10-1 against the Raiders.  The Chiefs will be the AFC West champions if they win here; I believe the Raiders will be mathematically eliminated from the playoffs with a loss.

(Mon 4 :30 PM ET) Giants at Eagles – 13.5 (42.5):  Given the way the Eagles have been playing over the last month, I would be hard pressed to make them a 13.5-point favorite over a USFL team.  Last week, the Eagles unveiled a new defensive play caller, and that change produced no new results.  The Giants also stunk out the joint last week (see above) gaining less than 200 yards passing and allowing Tommy DeVito to be sacked 7 times.  Motivation for this game is both simple and subtle:

  • The Eagles are in the playoffs for sure; the Giants are out of the playoffs for sure.
  • The Eagles can lead the NFC East with a win and a Cowboys’ loss.
  • The Giants can avoid – – for now – – double-digit losses in the season with a win.

(Mon Nite) Ravens at Niners – 5.5 (47):  As if you needed any clarification, this is the Game of the Week.  In fact, if I were to make a Super Bowl prediction, I would say that this is the pairing we will see come February 2024.  The Ravens’ defense leads the NFL in points allowed (16.1 points per game).  The Niners’ offense averages 30.4 points per game (3rd in the NFL).  The Ravens have won 4 games in a row; the Niners have won 6 games in a row – – and all 6 of those wins were double-digit wins.  The Niners have already wrapped up the NFC West title; they have their eye on the #1 seed in the NFC playoffs with all their playoff games coming at home.  The Ravens lead the Browns by 2 games in the AFC North this morning with 3 games left to play; that puts them in great shape for a division title, but they too want the #1 seed in their playoff bracket, and they lead the Dolphins by 1 game in that chase.  Count this game as appointment viewing …

So let me review the “Betting Bundle”:

  • Browns – 1.5 over Texans
  • Cowboys/Dolphins OVER 49.5
  • Broncos – 6 over Pats.

And just for fun, here are two Money Line Parlays:

  • Bengals @ minus-150
  • Browns @ minus-145  $100 wager to win $182.

And …

  • Jets @ minus-160
  • Bears @ minus-205   $100 wager to win $142.

            Finally, here is a cathartic comment from former Ohio St. head coach, Woody Hayes:

“There’s nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you.”

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



Letting My Mind Wander …

In May 2018, the US Supreme Court declared PASPA – – the Professional And Amateur Sports Protection Act – – unconstitutional.  No need to relitigate the issues in the case, but the ruling opened the doors for any states in the US that wanted to legalize wagering on sports were free to do so.  PASPA had prevented that prior to May 2018.

So, what has transpired in the more than 5 years since that Supreme Court ruling?  Well, for one thing it showed that whatever evil PASPA was protecting sports from seems minor at best.  Gambling on professional and amateur sports opened up to various states has not wrought havoc with those sports nor have there been myriad betting scandals.  What has happened is that legislatures in 37 states have passed laws enabling or authorizing sports betting in those states.

Interestingly, the two most populous states – – California and Texas – – are not part of the list of states with legal sports gambling.  Please note that I said legal sports gambling because you may be certain that there is plenty of sports gambling taking place in California and Texas in venues other than a sanctioned sportsbook within the borders of those two states.  California had two sports gambling items on the ballot as voter referendums in 2023 and both were defeated badly.

To give you an idea of how popular sports gambling is in the US, consider these data:

  • In 2018 when sports gambling was confined to Nevada and Delaware, Americans bet $4.6B on sports.
  • In 2022 with sportsbooks open in 37 states, Americans bet 93.2B on sports.

Shifting gears …  As of this morning the McNeese St. women’s basketball team has a record of 5-9 for the season.  Looking at the results of their games, one might conclude that they are in some strange middle ground when it comes to their place in the women’s basketball hierarchy.  Consider these scores:

  • Baylor 124
  • McNeese St.  44

And …

  • K-State 101
  • McNeese St.  39

And …

  • LSU 133
  • McNeese St.  44

Those shellackings might lead you to conclude that McNeese St is as bad as it gets in women’s college basketball until you look at these other results:

  • McNeese St.  102
  • Ecclesia  28

And …

  • McNeese St.  107
  • North American 77

It seems to me that the McNeese St. Cowgirls are too good to be lumped in with the likes of “schools you have never heard of” and also, they are too bad to try to compete against Big-12 or SEC competition.  Maybe they need to pick their lane…

Next up …  Do you recall back in 2021 when MLB moved its All-Star Game from Atlanta to Denver in the wake of a new Georgia voting law that upset many civil rights advocates who said the law had the potential to restrict access to voting for minority groups.  Let me be clear on two points:

  1. I believe that every US citizen over the age of 18 should be able to vote in any election where he/she is eligible to vote.
  2. I do not believe that MLB’s decision to move that All-Star Game granted access to voting to a single minority voter who might have been denied a vote in Georgia.

And in case you missed it, MLB has decided to play the 2025 All-Star Game in Atlanta.

Last item for today …  The NY Jets activated Aaron Rodgers from Injured Reserve and put him on the 53-man active list.  Coach Saleh said he will not play in any of the Jets final three games now that the Jets are mathematically eliminated from the AFC playoffs, but that Rodgers will remain on the 53-man active roster because:

“… it’s all a part of his rehab, and just having him out on the football field is a plus for everyone. It’s a plus for him, it’s a plus for his teammates, so we’re going to keep him on the 53.”

Granted, I do not have any pipeline of information pouring out of the Jets’ locker room, but it does seem like a waste of an active roster spot.  If Rodgers had not been hinting for months that he wanted to try to play for real in the late season Jets’ games, would they have even thought about such a move.  If so, and if he injures his Achilles again in “active roster drills” next week, will the Jets replace him with Joe Namath on their active roster?  If not, why not’?

Finally, let me close with this from G. K. Chesterton:

“The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies, probably because they are generally the same people.”

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



A Third Mid-Season Firing In The NFL

In case anyone was wondering why there was no rant yesterday, it is because we had an equipment failure in the system that gives us home Internet service.  But thanks to a competent and quick Verizon technician who came this morning, I am back on the air again.

A week ago, the Chargers fired their coach, Brandon Staley, and their GM, Tom Telasco, in the wake of losing to the Raiders and giving up 63 points in the process.  On the one hand, this is not hugely surprising.  That loss is an embarrassment, and it comes less than a year after a loss by the Chargers in the playoffs after they led the Jags 27-0 at halftime.  The reason I was mildly surprised is that the Chargers’ owner, Dean Spanos, is not known as someone who looks to have to pay someone not to coach his football team.  But in this case, he swallowed a year left on Staley’s contract and moved on.

This makes 3 NFL teams who have made an in-season coaching change in 2023.  The Raiders and the Panthers also have different coaches now from the ones who started the season back in September.  The Raiders are highly unlikely to make the playoffs; the Panthers are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs; the Chargers are a game behind the Raiders so you can basically count them out too.  I mention this because over the years, only a very few in-season coaching changes have made a big positive difference in team performance.

Nevertheless, the Chargers’ change spawned a lot of speculation about other NFL coaches who could/should be fired immediately – – if not sooner.  Here are five coaches who have been called out as being on a short leash.  I have put them in alphabetical order lest anyone suspect that I am prioritizing this in any way:

  • Bill Belichick:  His record with the Pats is a gaudy 265-119 but the team has been a disappointment for several years now and has been only slightly better than fetid in 2023.  He has one year left on his contract with the Pats, but I doubt if that would be much of a factor as Robert Kraft thinks about retaining or not retaining Belichick’s services in 2024.  The question I would ask is simple; the Pats’ record in 2023 is currently 3-11; it is two games worse than any other team in the AFC.  So, what is there to be gained by firing the coach now?  Maybe the owner will decide to fire him in January, but there seems to be nothing to gain over the next three weeks.
  • [Aside:  IF Robert Kraft decides to fire Belichick – – now or in January – – he needs to announce the new coach 24 hours after the presser that announces the firing.  If you fire one of the best coaches in the history of the NFL, you must do it with a new candidate in mind and not as the beginning of a search process that could take a month.]
  • Matt Eberflus:  His record with the Bears is an unimpressive 8-23.  However, the Bears have a far more fundamental situation to address and assess than Eberflus’ coaching capabilities.  The Bears need to decide once and for all if Justin Fields is their QB of the future; and if he is, they must improve the talent level of the skill players around him.  If he is not, then the Bears need to draft a QB this year and get an Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach who can begin the new guy’s developmental processes.  Spend the next three weeks working on that stuff and not firing the coach.
  • Ron Rivera:  His record with the Commanders – under a variety of team names – is 26-37-1.  He has one year left on a 5-year contract as the coach and director of football stuff for the team.  I said before that Rivera cannot remain in his GM role with the team because the roster he constructed is flawed to say the very least.  I suspect that his recent decision to fire the Defensive Coordinator and the DB Coach will not work to his benefit regarding maintaining his job in the new year.  After firing those guys, Rivera took over defensive play calling and game planning.  The result of his taking on those roles is that the team’s defense gave up even more points than they had been giving up.  The Commanders’ final regular season game this year is on January 7th; I will be surprised if Rivera is still the coach on January 9th, but there is nothing tangible to be gained by firing him now.
  • Robert Saleh:  His record with the Jets is a not-so-good 16-32.  He is signed as the Jets’ coach through 2026 which makes firing him now or even in January financially burdensome.  Saleh – – and GM, Joe Douglas – – have built an excellent defensive team; on offense, they need an infusion of talent and a healthy Aaron Rodgers to play QB for them.  The Jets’ QB situation has been disastrous ever since Joe Namath’s knees gave out; Saleh has had to trot out Zach Wilson, Tim Boyle, Trevor Siemian, Mike White etc. and that is not conducive to building a winning record.  My opinion: the Jets would be nuts to fire Saleh now or in January.
  • Arthur Smith:  His record with the Falcons is 20-28.  Meh!  I cannot find reliable sources regarding his contract with the team so I have no idea if it would be financially burdensome to fire him now or in January.  I will say that Smith came to the team with an “offensive pedigree” and usually teams led by “offensive coaches” are “fun to watch”.  The Falcons are not fun to watch; they are a slog.  The signature loss by the Falcons just last week to the previously 1-win Panthers by a score of 9-7 can easily be portrayed as a firing offense for an NFL coach.  However, the Falcons are only a game behind the division leading Bucs in a sorry-assed NFC South.  Is “disruption” the Falcons’ path to the playoffs?  If the owner wants to fire Smith in January, I will have no strong objection, but I think an immediate firing makes little sense.

Finally, here is a quote from novelist, Peter De Vries about confession; I think it also applies to NFL owners firing coaches in mid-season:

“Confession is good for the soul only in the sense that a tweed coat is good for dandruff – it is a palliative rather than a remedy.”

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



I’ve Joined A New Club …

Let me lead today with a personal note/announcement.  Over the weekend, I had a birthday and that birthday inducted me as a member in good standing of the Octogenarian Club.  I hear it is an exclusive entity – – but its benefits are not clearly stated.    One day at a time …

I received a call from #2 son last weekend for two reasons; the first was to wish me a happy birthday and the second was to tell me about a happening in an international cricket match that he knew I would miss.  Let me set the stage here:

  • On a trip to Australia in 2012, our tour leader patiently and in great detail explained the rules and the scoring of cricket to me.  By the time I left to go home, I had the most rudimentary understanding of the game.
  • When our plane landed at Dulles Airport, I probably retained 90% of that rudimentary understanding.
  • Today, it is probably at 5%.

The story here deals with an international cricket match between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.  A Sri Lankan batter was “timed out” – – which in an analogy to American baseball means he was declared out and sent back to the dugout – – because he was not ready to bat within 2 minutes of being on the pitch (field).  The chin strap on his helmet broke as he was tightening it and by the time he got a new one and adjusted it and the like, more than 3 minutes had elapsed.  Evidently, there is a 2-minute clock in cricket and when the Bangladesh bowler – – the analog is a pitcher in MLB – – asked the umpire to “dismiss” the batter, the umpire consulted with his colleagues and sent the batter off.

I can anticipate your thought at this point:

  • Why is this interesting?

Glad you asked, this is indeed the rule in cricket.  However, this batter – – named Angelo Matthews – – is the first batter ever to be “timed out” and “dismissed” in an international cricket match, and international cricket has been played since 1844.

Here in the US, there was a lot of sturm und drang over the idea of instituting a “pitch clock” in baseball.  In cricket, which many consider to be an ancestor of baseball, they have had a “batter clock” on the books for 180 years and just now was the first enforced violation of that rule.

Another unusual sporting situation happened over the weekend.  In an English Premier League game between Luton Town and Bournemouth, the Luton Town captain, Tom Lockyer suffered cardiac arrest on the pitch in the second half of the game.  Fortunately, medical personnel were able to attend to him and Lockyer was reported to be “stable and undergoing further tests” in a nearby hospital.  As I read the reports of this incident, I got to this point and thought that it was great that the medics were as successful/competent as they must have been, and I recalled the Damar Hamlin incident from a year ago in the Bills/Bengals game.

However, in the later part of the report about the EPL game, it turns out that this is Lockyer’s second cardiac arrest incident.  Earlier this year, Lockyer also collapsed on the pitch in the game that Luton Town won that earned them promotion to the Premier League.  Over the summer he underwent heart surgery, cleared rehab and returned to the team.  Now this …  I hope this sequence of events is not an omen regarding Damar Hamlin and his future health status.

  • Absit omen!

The EPL made the rational decision to “abandon” the game with the score tied at 1-1.  I do wonder how they might handle that in the final standings for this year given that Luton Town is currently in the relegation zone but has had one less game recorded in the standings than the rest of the league.

  • At the end of the year, will this game count as a draw?
  • Will it be replayed from the start?
  • Will it take up from where it was “abandoned”?
  • Will it just be ignored?

Moving on …  Kyle McCord was the starting QB for Ohio St. in every game in 2023.  Yesterday, McCord announced that he has decided to transfer to Syracuse next year.  His season stats were 3,170 yards passing with 24 TDs and 6 INTs and those numbers seem positive to me.  So, I am a bit surprised that he would choose to take a step down from Ohio St. to Syracuse – – no offense to Syracuse fans but in the hierarchy of college football over the last 40 years …

Finally, as I contemplate writing these rants at the start of my ninth decade in residence on this planet, let me close with these words by English author, Jerome K. Jerome:

“I like work; it fascinates me.  I can sit and look at it for hours.”

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



Football Friday 12/15/23

Earlier this week, my long-suffering wife and I hosted friends for dinner.  Our guests are “irregular readers” of these rants and as they were leaving after dinner, one of them asked me for an “advance look” at what might be the topic for the next day’s rant.  My answer was that I had no idea – – and rarely do – – what I would focus on until I sat down to attack the keyboard.  The one exception is Thursday evenings, I know then that tomorrow will be a Football Friday.

And today is Friday so let me begin – – as usual – – with a review of last week’s highly embarrassing “Betting Bundle”:

  • College  =  0-0-0   =>   Season  =  19-9-0
  • NFL  =  0-3-0   =>   Season  =  17-17-0
  • Parlays  0-1  Loss  =  $100   =>  Season  7-12  Loss  = $147

Undaunted, I shall press on …


College Football Commentary:


Earlier this week, Tulane announced and introduced its new head football coach, Jon Sumrall.  Tulane needed a new coach because last year’s coach, Willie Fritz, took the job at Houston; Sumrall comes to Tulane after a couple of highly successful seasons at Troy.  Normally, a coaching change at a Group of Five school is not particularly noteworthy but at his introduction – in and among all the boilerplate/scripted lines and phrases – – Sumrall said this:

“We are going to make the college football playoff and we are going to win it.”

This year, Tulane will take part in the Military Bowl in Annapolis, MD on December 27th with Va Tech as the opponent.  It is a big step from there to winning the CFP which will expand to 12 teams next year.

Jayden Daniels (QB LSU) won the Heisman Trophy for 2023.  He is the second LSU QB to win that award in the last 5 seasons; Joe Burrow won the award in 2019.  I said previously that I would have voted for Marvin Harrison, Jr. if I had a vote but that if a QB was to win the award again this year, my choice would have been Jayden Daniels.

Some of the schedules for next year have already been released.  I was scanning a couple and did a double-take when I saw the schedule for the University of Florida.  Next year’s Gators need to strap on the helmets extra tight:

  • Florida has 3 out of conference games – – Miami, Samford and UCF.  Samford should be a glorified scrimmage, but Miami and UCF will put up a fight.
  • Florida has 5 games in the month of November – – Georgia, Texas, LSU, Ole Miss and Florida St.  No tiptoeing through the tulips there …


NFL Commentary:


The LA Chargers will have to finish the season without their QB, Justin Herbert who underwent surgery on a broken index finger on this throwing hand.  His replacement last week was Easton Stick.  In case you are not familiar with his CV let me give you a thumbnail:

  • Last week in relief of Herbert, he was 13 of 24 for 179 yards with 0 TDs and 0 INTs.
  • Prior to that work, his only appearance in an NFL game was in 2020 and he attempted 1 pass then, completed it for 4 yards – – and that’s it.
  • He was a four-year player at Division 1-AA, North Dakota St. and joined the Chargers in 2018.
  • He is 28 years old.
  • There is no way you might conclude that the Chargers have “rushed him” into action.

Easton Stick is another example of a point I tried to make before; the position of “Backup QB” has become very important in the NFL.  I do not have the interest to go team by team to list all the backup QBs who have been pressed into action this year but let me just name the ones that come immediately to mind without any searching:

  1. Tyson Bagent
  2. Tim Boyle
  3. Jake Browning
  4. Tommy DeVito
  5. Josh Dobbs
  6. Joe Flacco
  7. Will Levis
  8. Davis Mills
  9. Gardner Minshew
  10. Nick Mullens
  11. Aidan O’Connell
  12. Tyrod Taylor
  13. Dorian Thompson-Robinson
  14. Mitchell Trubisky
  15. Clayton Tune
  16. Zach Wilson
  17. Jameis Winston
  18. Bailey Zappe

As if that list is not scary enough, look at this week’s schedule when we get to it and try to recall who started at QB for every team in Week 1.  Almost 40% of the league has had to make a change.   However, before any of the “trauma injury activists” out there decide to crank this up as an evil of the expanded 17-game NFL schedule, please recall that all this pillage and destruction of QBs happened within 13 potential NFL contests for all of the QBs listed here.

The Circa is a relatively new hotel/casino/sportsbook in Las Vegas; it is the home of VSIN broadcasting network and it boasts the largest sportsbook seating area in the world.  The Circa started an NFL survival pool at the start of the 2023 season; the entry fee was $1000.  There were over 9000 entries so the last man standing will take home $9.2M.  From that starting group of about 9200 folks, there are a total of only 13 survivors as of this week …

As of this morning, I think the Chicago Bears are the most interesting story in the NFL.  It has been a while since the Bears have won a playoff game; since the start of the millennium, the Bears have only had 7 winning seasons; in 2023, their record stands as 5-8.  Why is that interesting?

Well, the Bears seem to be putting things together and Justin Fields is beginning to play at a high level much more predictably than he did in the past.  Last year, the Bears were 3-14 but they stuck with Fields and did not draft a QB.  In fact, they traded their high pick to the Panthers and one of the pieces of that trade was this year’s Panthers’ first round pick.  As of this morning the Bears will own the overall #1 pick in the draft.  If they stuck with Fields after last season, it is hard to imagine that the Bears would jettison him now and draft a rookie QB; so, maybe the Bears might add Marvin Harrison, Jr. as a weapon for Fields to use as needed?  Another possibility would be to trade that overall #1 pick – remember the Bears still have a pick of their own in Round One – and acquire several picks to add to the roster.

The remaining schedule for the Bears presents an interesting picture:

  • At Browns – – Joe Flacco has been great for the last two games; can he keep it up?
  • Vs. Cards – – Bears will be favored at home
  • Va. Falcons – – Bears will be favored at home
  • At Packers

If the Bears manage to win this week and hold serve against the Cards and Falcons, they would be 8-8 heading to Green Bay for the final game of the year possibly with a playoff berth on the line.

That is why I think the Chicago Bears are the most interesting story in the NFL this morning…

Let me review some of last week’s games:

Saints 28  Panthers 6:  Another example of a head coach being fired and the team continuing to lose despite the change.  The Panthers outgained the Saints 303 yards to 207 yards and lost by 22 points; that does not happen often.  It takes a special kind of ineptitude to do that.    Looking at the overall stats, it is difficult to see how the Panthers lost:

  • Panthers’ Time of Possession = 34:50  Saints’ Time of Possession = 25:10
  • Panthers’ Turnovers = 2  Saints’ Turnovers = 1

Here is the stat that could explain everything, The Panthers went for it on fourth down seven times in the game and only converted once.  This win puts the Saints in a three-way tie atop the NFC South; the loss puts the Panthers in last place in the NFC South and it makes the Panthers the only NFC team mathematically eliminated from the playoffs already.

Bengals 34  Colts 14:  The score was tied 14-14 at the half.  The Bengals continued to score in the second half while the Colts eschewed their opportunities.

Browns 31  Jags 27:  Joe Flacco turned in an excellent performance, especially considering he had been with the team for about an hour and half.  Here is Flacco’s stat line:

  • 26 of 45 for 311 yards with 3 TDs and 1 INT

The Jags maintained their lead in the AFC South because the Colts lost, and the Texans also lost last weekend.

Bears 28  Lions 13:  Justin Fields acquitted himself nicely in this game:

  • 19 of 33 for 223 yards with 1 TD and 0 INTs – – PLUS – –
  • 12 carries for 58 yards with 1 TD

The Lions still have a comfortable 2-game lead in the NFC North, but the Lions have not played well since Thanksgiving.  The score was 13-10 at the half; the Lions received the kickoff in the third quarter and here are the results of their drives in the third quarter:

  • 3 plays – – 4 yards – – PUNT
  • 3 plays – – 7 yards – – PUNT
  • 3 plays – – minus-1 yard – – PUNT
  • 2 plays – – 6 yards – – FUMBLE

That is the sort of “Lions football” fans would recognize over the  past 30 years or so…

Jets 30  Texans 6:  I said last week that DeMeco Ryans would have to work to be sure his team did not take the Jets lightly.  Well, the Jets put on an offensive eruption here; this is the second-highest point total for the Jets this season.  In fact, over the previous 6 games, the Jets had averaged only 9.7 points per game.  The Texans only managed 175 yards on offense (58 yards passing) for the game while the Jets amassed 347 yards.  Zach Wilson had 302 yards passing with 2 TDs and no INTs.  Wow!  Even worse news for the Texans is that CJ Stroud was in the concussion protocol and had to be replaced by Davis Mills last week.

Ravens 37  Rams 31 (OT):  This was the game on in my viewing area in the early Sunday time slot and it was one of the more interesting games of the season.  It was back and forth for the entire game.  For the 60 minutes of regulation time, the largest lead in the game was 5 points and there were 9 lead changes.  The loss – – breaking a 3-game winning streak for the Rams – – puts the Rams 4 games behind the Niners in the NFC West which is virtually insurmountable with only 4 games left to play.  In terms of a wild card slot, the Rams are “in the mix” but are not “sitting pretty.  Meanwhile the Ravens are 10-3 this morning and have the best record in the AFC.

Bucs 29  Falcons 25:  I have no rooting interest in the Bucs and I have no particular dislike for the Falcons, but I wanted the Bucs to win this game as I saw the Saints were toasting the Panthers.  In the squishy-soft NFC South there is a three-way tie for the division lead and all three teams are below .500.  For now:

  • Saints are in third place with a poorer division record than the Falcons or Bucs.
  • Falcons are in second place with a poorer conference record than the Bucs.
  • Bucs are in first place – – by default.

The Falcons lost this game despite outgaining the Bucs 434 yards to 290 yards.  Mike Evans had an uncharacteristically bad day catching only one pass for 8 yards.

Vikings 3  Raiders 0:  No, these teams did not take Mr. Peabody’s Wayback Machine in order to play the game in the 1940s.  However, the two teams combined to produce only 433 yards of offense in the game.  The two teams also combined to punt the ball 17 times in the game.  The lone score in the game was a 56-yard field goal with 2 minutes remaining.  The interesting thing about the Vikes this morning is that they are two games behind the Lions in the NFC North race – – AND – – the Vikes and Lions play each other twice between now and the end of the season.

Niners 28  Seahawks 16:  The Niners outgained the Seahawks 527 yards to 324 yards; normally, that level of dominance yields a win by more than 12 points.  The Niners were clearly the better team on the field here.  The win gives the Niners a record of 10-3 which is the same record held by the Cowboys and the Eagles – – but the Niners have already beaten both the Cowboys and the Eagles head-to-head.  With this win, the Niners have clinched a playoff slot.

Cowboys 33  Eagles 13:  Here is another game where one team (Cowboys) was clearly the better team on the field.  The Eagles’ TD came on a Scoop-and-score; the offense only managed 2 field goals in the game.  The Cowboys forced 3 turnovers in the game and outgained the Eagles by 70 yards.  Cowboys’ rookie kicker, Brandon Aubrey kicked 3 field goals in the game from 50 yards, 59 yards and 60 yards.  In the history of the NFL, no kicker has had a game where he hit two field goals of 59+ yards.

Pats 21  Steelers 18:  The Steelers’ offense came to life two weeks ago and gained more than 400 yards in a game.  Last week, the Steelers’ offense reverted to non-productive status gaining only 264 yards.  Bailey Zappe was the Pats’ QB in the game and posted this impressive stat line:

  • 19 of 28 for 240 yards with 3 TDs and 1 INT

The Pats led 21-10 at the half and never scored again.  Here are the Steelers’ possessions in the second half trying to erase an 11-point deficit:

  • 11 plays – – 32 yards – – PUNT
  • 3 plays – – 7 yards – – PUNT
  • 4 plays – – 9 yards – – TURNOVER ON DOWNS
  • 4 plays – – 26 yards – – TOUCHDOWN
  • 7 plays – – 13 yards – – PUNT
  • 6 plays – – 22 yards – – TURNOVER ON DOWNS
  • 2 plays – – 45 yards – – END OF GAME

Despite the win, the Pats are officially eliminated from the AFC playoffs as of today.  C’est la guerre …

Giants 24  Packers 22:  Don’t look now, but the Giants have won three games in a row.  They won this one by running the ball 34 times for 209 yards (6.1 yards per carry).  It was not a pretty game; the two teams combined to turn the ball over 5 times.

Titans 28  Dolphins 27:  The Dolphins led by two scores with 3 minutes left in the game and gave up two TDs and a two-point conversion in that span.  The Dolphins still lead the AFC East by 2 games, but they are a game behind the Ravens in the race for the #1 seed in the AFC playoffs.  That is important because the Dolphins are better at home than they are on the road.  Will Levis put on a show for the Titans in this game:

  • 23 of 38 for 327 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT

The Dolphins won the turnover battle 3 to 1 but that was not enough to secure a victory.

As of today, the four lowest scoring teams in the NFL are:

  1. Pats – – 169 points
  2. Giants – – 183 points
  3. Panthers – – 197 points
  4. Jets – – 201 points.

As a testament to the adage that “On any given Sunday …”, three of those four teams won lasts week; only the Panthers lost.

Just to let you know, Sam Howell was not sacked at all last week – – because the Commanders had a BYE Week.  Going into this week’s action, Howell has been sacked 58 times in 13 games and that projects to just shy of the all-time NFL record.  Stay tuned…  The Commanders’ final four games are:

  • At Rams
  • At Jets
  • Vs Niners
  • Vs Cowboys

Those final three opponents play a lot of defense…


Games this Week:


BYE Weeks are a thing of the past in this regular season; everyone is in action from here until the start of the playoffs.  This week is the first of two Saturdays with a full day of NFL action.

About 60 years ago, Dinah Washington sang:

“What a difference a day makes.

Twenty-four little hours …”

I found myself humming that little tune last night watching the Raiders beat the Chargers 63-21.  That was the same Raiders’ team that was shut out and lost a game 3-0 last Sunday (see above).  Of course, the generosity of the Chargers in terms of turnovers and short fields played a part in this debacle, but the Raiders took advantage of the turnovers and led 42-0 at halftime. To give you a flavor of the shellacking here:

  • Four times the Raiders began a drive in Chargers’ territory.  All four drives resulted in a Raider TD.
  • The Raiders scored on a “Scoop-and-score”.
  • The Raiders scored on a “Pick-Six”.

For the record, the Total Line for the Raiders/Chargers game last night was 36 points.  Anyone who bet the UNDER could have ripped up the ticket before halftime.

There is always line movement for games as the week progresses and as news about injuries or whatever hits the street.  It seems to me that there are no more line movements this week than usual, but the movements this week seem larger than usual.  Whatever …  Here are the numbers.

(Sat Early PM) Vikes at Bengals – 3.5 (40):  The spread opened with the Vikes as one-point favorites, but the line quickly flipped to the Bengals as favorites and then climbed to this level.  Both teams are 7-6 and both are relevant in the playoff discussion – – even though I cannot fathom how that is the case.  Back in September if you told me that this game would be Nick Mullens versus Jake Browning, I would have assumed that it would be a candidate for the Dog-Breath Game of the Week.  Instead, this is an important game for the playoffs in both conferences.

(Sat Late PM) Steelers at Colts – 1.5 (41):  Both teams would be in the playoffs if the season had ended last week; that will almost assuredly not be the case for the loser of this game come Sunday morning.  Neither team is “fun to watch” but this is a playoff game of sorts here in mid-December.

(Sat Nite) Broncos at Lions – 4.5 (48):  The Lions have lost two of their last three games and have not played well since Thanksgiving; they lead their division but are trending down and not up in the latter part of the regular season.  The Broncos are the opposite.  They do not lead their division but have been playing much better in recent weeks than they did at the beginning of the season.  The Broncos will be playing their third road game in a row here.

Falcons – 3 at Panthers (34):  This game was my runner-up as the Dog-Breath Game of the Week, but this is a must-win for the Falcons, so I’ll cut the game some slack.  After this game, the three remaining games for the Falcons look to be toss-ups.  If they lose here, they should probably hang things up for the year.  The Panthers enter the game with a 1-12 record having been outscored by 144 points over the season.  Normally, in low scoring games, I prefer to take the points but the problem with the Panthers is that their offense just doesn’t score; give me the Falcons to win and cover on the road against a bad opponent; put that in the “Betting Bundle.”

Bears at Browns – 3 (38): The Bears have won three of their last four games and have impressed in each game (see above).  The trade deadline acquisition of Montez Sweat seems to have been an energy tonic for the Bears’ defense.  The Browns’ defense is for real; that unit is capable of keeping the Browns in a game against any opponent and Joe Flacco had a brilliant outing last week for the Browns.  Both teams are still playoff-relevant, but the loser here may lose its relevance.

Bucs at Packers – 3 (42):  Both teams need this game.  The Bucs lead the NFC South via tiebreakers; the Falcons have a patsy this week in the Panthers and the Saints are playing the Giants who – – having won 3 games in a row – – may have emptied the gun.  The Packers need the game to stay within hailing distance of the Lions who seem to be coming back to the pack – – pun intended – – in the NFC North.

Texans at Titans – 3 (37):  The spread opened with the Texans as 3.5-point favorite; given the current spread, that is a major line move indeed.  The injury bug may be residing in Houston at the moment because the list of players who did not practice for the Texans early this week included:

  • Will Anderson, Jr. – – LB
  • Blake Cashman – – LB
  • Nico Collins – – WR
  • Noah Fant – – TE
  • CJ Stroud – – QB

The magnitude of the line shift indicates to me that the betting public assumes CJ Stroud will not clear concussion protocol and the Texans will go with Davis Mills this week.

Giants at Saints – 6 (38.5):  This is not a typical selection for the Dog-Breath Game of the Week, but it matches up two teams with losing records who offer only marginal viewing excitement potential.  I do not believe that Tommy DeVito is the long-term replacement for Eli Manning as the QB for the Giants.  Having said that, Tommy DeVito is playing well and very confidently.  The Saints need the game much more than the Giants do, but the Saints’ team has had more than its share of turmoil this year and no one looks to be playing comfortably on the Saints’ sideline.  Maybe the major drama element for this game is:

  • Who will be on the receiving end of a temper tantrum by Derek Carr this week?

Jets at Dolphins – 9 (37.5):  The spread opened with the Dolphins as 13.5-point favorites and has been dropping all week long.  In fact, this morning, I found the line at 8 points at one Internet sportsbook.  The Total Line has also moved a lot starting the week at 41 points.  The Dolphins are hit with injuries on their offensive line and with a leg injury to Tyreek Hill, who did not practice earlier this week.  With Hill in and out of the game – – and playing at less than 100% efficiency – – last week, the Dolphins’ offense was not nearly what it has been in previous games.

Niners – 12 at Cards (48):  All I can say here is that if you think the Cards can win this game, you can get them on the Money Line at +590.  Over to you …

Commanders at Rams – 6 (49.5):  The Total Line opened at 46 points and rose slowly but surely as the week wore on.  I found it as high as 50.5 points this morning and as low as 49 points.  The Commanders’ defense has given up the most points in the league so far in 2023 – – 395 points or 30.4 points per game.  That explains why the Commanders record is 4-9 and how they lost 4 in a row prior to their BYE Week last week.  The Rams are not the offensive juggernaut they were a couple years ago when they won the Super Bowl, but they are an above average offense.  I think the Rams will put up some big numbers on the stat sheet and on the scoreboard here; I like the Rams to win and cover at home; put that in the “Betting Bundle”.  I also like the game to go OVER because the Commanders will need to play keep-up/catch-up and will be throwing the ball all over the field; put that in the “Betting Bundle” too.

Cowboys at Bills – 2 (50.5):  Not only have the Cowboys won 5 games in a row, but they have also scored 30+ points in all five wins; they are hitting on all cylinders.  The Bills’ playoff hopes will suffer more with a loss here than would the Cowboys’ hopes but a loss by the Cowboys would make their pursuit of the #1 seed in the NFC awfully difficult.I think this is the Game of the Week based on the quality of the two teams plus the importance to both sides.  The weather in Buffalo is often a factor in mid-December but the forecast for gametime has temperatures in the 40s with the possibility of a “shower in the area.”  Should be a great game to watch…

Chiefs – 7.5 at Pats (37):  The spread here opened at 10.5 points and has dropped slowly and steadily all week long.  The Chiefs have lost three of their last four games even though the Chiefs’ offense, which had been problematical early in the season, has looked like a much more competent and cohesive unit.  The Pats won last week with Bailey Zappe lighting it up (see above).  I think both defenses will do well in this game.

(Sun Nite): Ravens – 3 at Jags (43):  Lots of line movement here; the spread opened at 6 points and the Total Line opened at 39.5 points.  I guess folks were impressed with Trevor Lawrence’s grit and determination in last week’s loss to the Browns where he played with what looked like 3 pounds of tape on his injured ankle.  The Jags get to play another bruising defense this week and still hold a one-game lead over both the Colts and Texans going into the weekend action.

(Mon Nite): Eagles – 4 at Seahawks (47.5):  The Eagles have lost two games in a row and have lost both of them badly.  Granted those two opponents were the Niners and the Cowboys, but still …  The Eagles’ defense has been porous in their recent losses and cannot cover for situations where the offense turns the ball over – – as the Eagles did 3 times last week.  Meanwhile, the Seahawks have lost 4 games in a row, but a win here would even them up at 7-7 with 3 winnable games left on the schedule.  This is an important game for the Eagles; it is a vital game for the Seahawks.

So let me review the “Betting Bundle”:

  • Rams – 6 over Commanders
  • Rams/Commanders OVER 49.5
  • Falcons – 3 over Panthers

And here are two Money Line Parlays for fun:

  • Chiefs @ minus-360
  • Falcons @ minus-160   $100 wager to win $108.

And …

  • Rams @ minus 275
  • Ravens @ minus 170  $100 wager to win $117.

Finally, I will close this week with this comment by former head football coach at Michigan St., Duffy Daugherty:

“I could have been a Rhodes Scholar except for my grades.”

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