Football Friday 12/1/23

Albert Einstein supposedly said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.  Well, here is Curmudgeon Central, we are not insane.  We do the same thing over and over every Friday in the Fall, but we expect the same result – – Football Friday.  So let us begin in the same way we begin every iteration of Football Friday – – a recap of last week’s “Betting Bundle”.

  • College  =  2-0-0  =>   Season  =  18-8-0
  • NFL  =  2-1-0   =>   Season  =  16-12-0
  • Parlays = 0-1  Loss = $100   =>   Season = 7-10  Profit = $53


College Football Commentary:


According to a report by the Associated Press, James Madison University is going to a bowl game after all.  It turns out that they can go to a bowl game if there are not enough qualifying Division 1-A teams with 6 wins for the season.  Given all the minor bowl games, there are 82 slots open; this year only 79 teams qualified so that opened the door for James Madison and Jacksonville St. to come off the “Ineligible List” raising the number of teams to 81 and leaving one slot empty.  The NCAA steps in at this point and uses some mysterious algorithm to determine which of its 5-7 teams has the best academic progress toward degree status for its athletes.  This year, that distinction goes to Minnesota who will get a bowl bid with a 5-7 record.

I said back in August that Rice would be an interesting program to follow this year because QB JT Daniels was going to finish his career with the Owls.  Well, Daniels played most of the year before getting injured and Rice needed a late season win to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2014.  Rice would not have had to wait until the last game of the season for 6 wins had it not lost a game that should have been easy for them against UConn, but given that loss, it took a final week victory over Florida Atlantic to even up the Owls’ record at 6-6.

Another of the major coaching vacancies has been filled.  We knew last week about Mike Elko replacing Jimbo Fisher at Texas A&M.  This week, Michigan St. filled the vacancy created by the dismissal of Mel Tucker by hiring former Oregon St. head coach, Jonathan Smith.  Oregon St. was in the race for a slot in the PAC-12 Championship Game until late in the season when they suffered losses to Washington and Oregon – – the two teams that will battle it out for the last ever PAC-12 Championship this weekend.

Let me take a look at some results from last week:

SMU 59  Navy 14:  SMU plays for the American Athletic Conference Championship this week.  The score was 52-14 at halftime; remember, Navy’s defense has had three shutouts this year so scoring 59 points is not something to be ignored.

Tulane 29  UTSA 16:  Tulane will play SMU for the AAC Championship.  Tulane finished the year at 11-1 and the only loss happened back in early September at the hands of Ole Miss.

Oregon 31  Oregon St.  7:  It was not a good day for the Beavers; they lost the game, and they lost their coach to Michigan St. (see above).  Oregon finished the year 11-1 and will play Washington for the PAC-12 Championship.

Washington 24  Washington St. 21:  State outgained the Huskies by 75 yards in the game, but Washington kicked a game-winning field goal at the buzzer to finish the regular season undefeated at 12-0.  The annual Apple Cup will continue for at least five more years (through 2028).  The schools agreed to that scheduling commitment even though the teams will not be in the same conference starting next year.  Maybe that agreement might be a model for Oklahoma and Oklahoma St. to use as a way to continue “Bedlam” as part of their football schedule?

Utah 23  Colorado 17:  Utah held Colorado’s running game to 37 yards – – on 17 rushing attempts – – in this game.

Notre Dame 56  Stanford 23:  The stat sheet is about as ugly as the score in this game:

  • ND Offense = 521 yards   Stanford Offense = 347 yards
  • ND third-down conversions = 7 of 9   Stanford third-down conversions = 5 of 16
  • ND yards per rush = 7.9   Stanford yards per rush = 4.1

Cal 33  UCLA 7:  Cal is now bowl eligible.  UCLA won the stat sheet outgaining Cal by 78 yards for the game.  The Bruins were 10.5-point favorites here, but 4 turnovers did them in.

Arizona 59  Arizona St.  23:  Here is a thumbnail sketch of how this game went down:

  • Arizona Offense = 619 yards (527 yards passing)
  • Arizona St. Offense = 306 yards (82 yards passing)

Michigan 30  Ohio St.  24:  Michigan and Iowa will play for the Big-10 Championship.  Ohio St. outgained Michigan by 40 yards in the game.  The Buckeyes had the ball and were driving in Michigan territory in the final minute, but an INT by Michigan put an end to that threat.

Iowa 13  Nebraska 10:  The Total Line for this game closed at 24.5 points and the game still went UNDER !!!

Northwestern 45  Illinois 43:  With this result, the Illini fall 2 points short of bowl eligibility…

Georgia 31  Georgia Tech 23:  Georgia led 31-13 to start the 4th quarter but Tech made a game of it coming within one score with about 4 minutes left in the game.

Alabama 27  Auburn 24:  Two weeks ago, Auburn lost at home to New Mexico St. by 3 TDs; this week it took an Alabama TD in the final minute of the game to cost Auburn a huge upset.  Georgia and Alabama will play for the SEC Championship this weekend.

LSU 42  Texas A&M 30:  LSU QB, Jayden Daniels put on a show here:

  • 16 of 24 for 235 yards with 4 TDs and 0 INTs – – PLUS – –
  • 11 rushing attempts for 120 yards and 0 TDs.

The two offenses were very efficient; the teams combined to go 14 of 27 on third-down conversions and 4 of 6 on fourth-down conversions.

Tennessee 48  Vandy 24:  Vandy finishes the year with a 2-10 record.  The Commodores have only had 3 winning seasons in football since 1982.

Florida St.  24  Florida 15:  The Seminoles remain undefeated for the year at 12-0 and Florida finishes with a 5-7 record meaning no bowl game for the Gators for the first time since 2017 and only the second time since 1986.

Kentucky 38  Louisville 31:  That is only the second loss of the year for Louisville, but it means that only Florida St. from the ACC has any hope of being in the CFP this year.  Louisville and Florida St. will square off this weekend for the ACC Championship.

Syracuse 35  Wake Forest 31:  This win makes Syracuse bowl eligible.  Wake Forest will stay home this year finishing with a 4-8 record.

Clemson 16  South Carolina 7:  The Gamecocks will not play in a bowl game this year for the first time since Shane Beamer took over the program in 2021.  The score was closer than the stat sheet would indicate.  Clemson gained 319 yards on offense and held South Carolina to only 169 yards in the game.

NC St. 39  UNC 20:  The Tar Heels started the season with 6 straight wins; then they lost two games in a row to Virginia and Georgia Tech.  Things seemed back on track after UNC demolished a cupcake opponent and then beat Duke in overtime.  But the season ended with two more consecutive losses to Clemson and then here to NC State.  UNC is bowl eligible with an 8-4 record; NC State finishes the season at 9-3.

San Jose St. 37  UNLV 31.  Three teams finish the season with 6-2 conference records in the Mountain West Conference.  UNLV had already clinched a share of its first conference title regardless of the outcome here, but the Rebels’ loss left UNLV, San Jose State and Boise State in a three-way tie for first place in the conference. A computer algorithm determined that the MWC Championship Game would be between UNLV and Boise St.  San Jose St. presented a balanced offense for the game against UNLV:

  • Passing offense = 249 yards
  • Rushing offense = 233 yards.

Boise St. 27  Air Force 19:  This result put Boise St. into the computer showdown that decided who plays for the MWC championship.  Air Force started the year with 8 straight wins and finished with 4 straight losses.

Oklahoma 69  TCU 45:  The teams combined for 1127 yards and 54 first downs on offense.  The Sooners only punted once in the game.

Texas 57  Texas Tech 7:  Texas is 11-1 and will play Oklahoma St. in the Big-12 Championship Game.  Texas Tech is a bowl eligible team, but the Red Raiders were outgained 528 yards to 198 yards here.

Old Dominion 25  Georgia St. 24:  Old Dominion trailed 21-7 at the start of the 4th quarter but rallied to win the game making ODU bowl eligible.  To demonstrate how even this game was, consider:

  • ODU Offense = 313 yards   Ga St. Offense = 300 yards
  • ODU first downs = 15   Ga St. first downs = 14
  • ODU punts = 7   Ga St. Punts = 7
  • ODU penalties = 7 for 67 yards   Ga St. penalties = 7 for 60 yards

JMU 57  Coastal Carolina 14:  JMU finishes the year with an 11-1 record in its second season in Division 1-A football.  They are probably the best college football team in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Liberty 42  UTEP 28:  Liberty finishes the year undefeated at 12-0.  They just might be the second-best college football team in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

New Mexico St. 20  Jacksonville St.  17:  New Mexico St. finishes the season with a 10-3 record.  This is a significant turnaround for a football program that was basically asked to leave the Sun Belt Conference in recent years.  This makes 2 winning seasons in a row for New Mexico St. and the last time that happened was in 1966-1967.

UConn 31  UMass 18:  Both teams are now 3-9 for the season.  Are both teams going to be in the SHOE Tournament this year?  Check below to find out…

The SHOE Tournament is a figment of my imagination.  I devised it as a way to determine the worst Division 1-A team of the year.  The acronym “SHOE” stands for Steaming Heap Of Excrement and the tournament field is selected by a committee of one – – me.  The idea is for 8 teams to play one another in a single elimination tournament with a twist.  In the SHOE Tournament, the winner goes home not the loser.  To determine the worst team in the country, it is the loser that must play-on.  And so, without further ado, here are the 8 teams in the SHOE Tournament for 2023 seeded from1 to 8 starting with the team seeded as the worst in the country:

  • #1 Kent St. (1-11) – – They are the only team with only one win for the season, and playing in the MAC means they do not face fearsome opponents every week.  By the way, that lone win came at the expense of Central Connecticut St.  They ranked dead last in scoring offense in the country this year at 14.7 points per game.
  • #2 Akron (2-10) – – Another MAC team in the field.  Those two wins were over Morgan St. and – – you guessed it – – Kent St.  The Zips averaged all of 16.3 points per game scored.
  • #3 Vandy (2-10) – – Yes, playing an SEC schedule is tough.  But Vandy’s two wins were over Hawaii and Alabama A&M back in August and early September.  The Commodores lost their last 10 games giving up 35 points or more in 8 of them.
  • #4 East Carolina (2-10) – – Those two wins were against Gardner Webb and Florida Atlantic.  They ranked 128th in the country in scoring offense at 17.3 points per game despite scoring 44 points in the win over Gardner Webb.
  • #5 La-Monroe (2-10) – – The two wins were over Army and Lamar.  Their average margin of defeat for the year was 17.6 points.
  • #6 Nevada (2-10) – – The good news is that the two wins were both over Division 1-A teams, New Mexico and San Diego St.  The bad news is that they lost to a Division 1-AA opponent, Idaho.
  • #7 UMass (3-9) – – They simply must be in this tournament because they have the worst scoring defense in the country giving up 37.8 points per game.
  • # 8 UNC-Charlotte (3-9) – – Two of those three wins were almost gimmees – – South Carolina St. and East Carolina (seeded #4 here).  The other win was over Tulsa who finished the year at 4-8.

Let the games begin …

And before moving on to this week’s action, I want to congratulate the Minutemen of UMass for winning the 2023 Brothel Defense Award given to the team that allows the most points per game in Division 1-A college football.  Why is it the Brothel Defense Award?  Simple.  Everyone scores easily.

  • [Aside:  UMass has now won this award twice in the 4-year history of the award.]


Games This Week:


There are lots of important games this weekend and there is the possibility for the results to create chaos or certainty for the CFP Selection Committee.  Before I get to various scenarios, I think it is important to understand what I believe is the charge to the Selection Committee:

  • I believe they are “chartered” to select the 4 BEST teams for the CFP that is to be played in late December/early January.
  • That is a different charge than “rewarding” teams that earned a shot to be in the CFP.
  • Please keep this distinction in mind later when I am probably going to take an unpopular position as to the teams that should be in or out.

Let me go through a “certainty scenario”:

  • Michigan beats Iowa to be the Big-10 Champ.  They’re in
  • Georgia beats Alabama to reign over the SEC.  They’re in
  • Either Washington or Oregon wins HUGE.  They’re in.
  • And then … what?

Even before Florida St. and Louisville take the field for their conference championship game, let me say something that is obverse to what I have been saying in these Football Friday pieces for the last month or so:

  • Florida St. using a backup QB is not obviously one of the 4 best teams to be in the CFP this year.  Do you put them in because they “earned it?”
  • If Texas beats Oklahoma St. and finishes with only one loss, should the Longhorns fill out the CFP field?
  • What consideration should be given to Ohio St. and/or the loser of the PAC-12 Championship Game?
  • Alabama?

I know; hundreds of Seminoles’ fans read that and freaked out.  Nevertheless, if my model of the CFP Selection Committee charge is correct, then Florida St. without QB, Jordan Travis, is not one of the best four teams in the country at this point in the season.

But a “certainty scenario” like the one created above only obtains if there are no major upsets this weekend. But suppose upsets were the order of the day this weekend and college football chaos ensues:

  • Alabama beats Georgia.  Then, there would be no undefeated team in or around the SEC.  Would the CFP make sense with no SEC representative?
  • If you compare “one-loss Alabama” to “one-loss Georgia” to “one-loss Texas”, you have to remember that Texas beat Alabama straight up this year.
  • Suppose Iowa beats Michigan 10-9.  Then, what?  Does Florida St. begin to look like one of the best teams in any of these scenarios?

The Selection Committee will take heat regardless of what happens this weekend, but they might be in store for major heat in a chaos scenario.  So, let us now turn to this week’s games:

(Fri Nite)  Oregon – 10 vs Washington (66):  This is the College Game of the Week.  The spread opened at 7.5 points; Oregon is favored despite having lost to Washington earlier this year by a field goal.  Since that first meeting, Oregon has been blowing opponents away while Washington has remained undefeated but has not appeared dominant.  A win for the Huskies will guarantee them a place in the CFP.  The PAC-12 has not been part of the CFP since 2016 and this is the last year of the PAC-12’s existence.  In a Hollywood script, Washington would win this game on the final play.  Given recent performance, I think Oregon is the better team, but I am not comfortable with a double-digit spread.  I may regret this, but I think the Total Line is too high; give me the UNDER in this game; put that in the “Betting Bundle”.

(Fri Nite)  New Mexico St. vs Liberty – 11 (57):  The spread opened at 6.5 points and has risen through 7 points and 10 points which are two common point differences.  Either there has been a lot of money showing up on undefeated Liberty here or the action is so thin that even a few relatively small wagers have moved the line.  The winner will be the C-USA champion; neither of these schools has ever won the conference title.  If Liberty wins and remains undefeated, they might get the New Year’s Day bowl slot that is “reserved” for a team not in a Power-5 conference.  These teams met in the regular season and Liberty won by 16 points.

Oklahoma St. vs Texas – 15 (55):  This line opened at 11.5 points and has been rising all week; one sportsbook this morning has the line at 16 points.  I was surprised to learn that this will be the first time Texas has had a shot at the Big-12 Championship since 2009; to give you an idea how long ago that was, the Texas QB that season was Colt McCoy.  A win for the Longhorns will keep them in the discussion for a CFP slot; Oklahoma St. has 3 losses this year and will not be part of the CFP under any scenario.

Miami (OH) vs Toledo – 8 (44):  The winner is the MAC champion.  These teams met earlier this year with Toledo winning by 4 points.  Toledo has won 11 games in a row after losing the season opener to Illinois.

Boise St. – 3 vs UNLV (59):  The winner is the Mountain West champion.  This is the first time UNLV has played for the title; Boise St. has been in a position to win that title 7 times.  Boise St. scores 32 points per game and averages 208 yards rushing per game.  Those numbers are a bit surprising for a team that is only 7-5 overall this season.  UNLV relies on its passing game which averages 237 yards per game.  UNLV has been a football doormat for a while now; they should be motivated to win this game being played in Las Vegas; I’ll take the Rebels plus the points; put that in the “Betting Bundle”.

SMU vs Tulane – 4 (47):  The winner here is the AAC Champion; if Tulane wins, it will be their second consecutive conference championship.  Tulane has won 10 games in a row; SMU has won 8 games in a row.  SMU ranks 4th in the country in scoring average at 41.8 points per game but Tulane only gives up 18.3 points per game.  SMU will be without its starting QB in the game, probably explaining the low Total Line.

Georgia – 5.5 vs Alabama (54.5):  This game is another pupil vs master confrontation.  Nick Saban has beaten Kirby Smart in SEC Championship Games when they have met in the past.  In fact, Georgia has won its last 29 games in a row with the last loss coming at the hands of Alabama in the SEC Championship Game in 2021.

Appalachian St. vs Troy – 5.5 (52):  The winner is the Sun Belt champion because James Madison is not allowed to compete for that honor this year despite an overall record of 11-1.  The one loss for JMU was an OT game that Appalachian St. won by a field goal two weeks ago.

Louisville vs Florida St. – 2 (47.5):  I said above that I do not consider Florida St. to be one of the 4 best teams in the country at this point with their starting QB on the shelf.  However, in the history of the CFP, the Committee has never left out a Power 5 champion who was undefeated for the season.  So, history says that Florida St. is in a “win-and-you’re-in” situation.  The Seminoles average 39 points per game; the Cardinals average 33 points per game; yet the Total Line is only 47.5 points.  That tells you how highly both defenses are regarded.

Michigan – 22 vs Iowa (34.5):  Everyone knows about Iowa’s defensive prowess; here are data to put that in perspective.

  • Iowa is dead last in the country in Total Offense per game at 246.3 yards per game.
  • The next-to-last team in Total Offense is SHOE team, Kent St. at 270.4 yards per game.
  • Nonetheless, Iowa has an overall record of 10-2 for the season.

I do not think this will be a particularly interesting game to watch and none of the numbers here are close to making the game an interesting wagering proposition.  For the record, the line for Iowa’s total score in the game is set at 7.5 points; but if you bet the UNDER, the odds are minus-210.  Wow!


NFL Commentary:


There is still plenty of time left in the NFL regular season for a team to “get hot”.  However, I also think there is also plenty of time left in the NFL regular season for a team to “stink it up”.  And that sort of thinking makes me wonder if the winner of the NFC South this year could host a playoff game despite having a losing record.

  • The Falcons lead the division with a 5-6 record.  With a QB tandem of Desmond Ridder and Taylor Heineke, do you trust the Falcons to go 4-2 in the remaining regular season games?
  • The Saints also have a record of 5-6.  Big things were expected of the Saints this year with their acquisition of Derek Carr to play QB and those expectations have not come close to being fulfilled.  The Saints also need to go 4-2 for the rest of the regular season to post a winning record.
  • The Bucs are 4-7 this morning and would need to win 5 of their last 6 games to have a winning record.  Frankly, the Bucs are closer to being a team that needs a tear-down/rebuild than to a team about to win 5 of 6 games.
  • The Panthers cannot post a winning record even if they win out in the regular season – – which they will not do.

I think the NFC South can be won by a team finishing with an 8-9 record; and then, that team will be cannon fodder in the NFC playoffs.

I mentioned above that the Falcons’ QB situation is “less than ideal”.  Just for perspective, the Falcons’ QB tandem is significantly better than the Pats’ QB tandem.  Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe would have to improve by 100% to qualify as a dumpster fire.

And do not get me started on the Jets’ QB situation …

I may have been over my skis in dismissing Jordan Love as a competent NFL QB earlier this year.  My impression in early games was that he was overwhelmed by the skills of NFL defenders; after seeing him in recent games against the Lions and the Chargers, I think he is developing and improving rapidly.  I do not have a firm opinion about “his ceiling”, but I no longer think he is over his head in the NFL.  The Packers have a relatively soft schedule to finish the season; with their record now at 5-6, they could finish at 9-8 – – or even 10-7.  Here is that remaining schedule:

  • Vs. Chiefs
  • At Giants
  • Vs. Bucs
  • At Panthers
  • At Vikes
  • Vs. Bears

Speaking of schedules that set up nicely, consider the Jags’ remining games.

  • Vs. Bengals – – no Joe Burrow
  • At Browns – – QB uncertain
  • Vs Ravens – – tough game
  • At Bucs – – record is 4-7 as of this morning
  • Vs Panthers – – what a goat rodeo
  • At Titans – – record is 4-7 as of this morning.

The Jags are now 8-3 on the season; looking at that schedule, a final record of 12-5 looks highly probable.

The NFL and its broadcasting partners have agreed to permit schedule flexing late in the season; such flexing allows for important games to be put in prime TV time slots.  Until now, the only flexing has involved moving games on a given day to a different starting time.  That is going to change in Week 15 of this year:

  • MNF was originally scheduled to be Chiefs/Pats.  As of today, that game does not look as if it will be very competitive even if you chant the mantra of “On any given Sunday – – or Monday …”
  • So, the NFL is going to move the Eagles/Seahawks game from Sunday to Monday night and put that game on ESPN.  The Chiefs and Pats will play on Sunday that weekend in the 1:00 PM ET time slot.

Just to keep you abreast of a running storyline here, Sam Howell has now been sacked 54 times in 12 games which projects to a season total of 76.5 sacks.  The all-time NFL record is 76 sacks in a season.  Stay tuned…

So let me review what happened last week:

Dolphins 34  Jets 13:  Can everyone now take a deep breath and allow themselves to conclude that Zach Wilson was not THE cause of the Jets’ offensive stench in 2023?

  • Jets Total Offense = 159 yards

Here is Tim Boyle’s stat line – – playing behind an OL that might not be able to find work as piano movers should the Jets cut them loose:

  • 27 of 38 for 179 yards with 1 TD and 2 INTs.
  • That is 6.6 yards per completion and 4.7 yards per attempt.

I don’t care how good the Jets’ defense is; that sort of offensive output will not lead to team success.  The Jets’ offense is not stuck in low gear; it is stuck in reverse; the Jets’ offense was an embarrassment here.

Packers 29  Lions 22:  The Lions have a 50-year tradition of screwing up anything that seems to be “success”.  Is this game a harbinger of a return to that status?  For a team comfortably leading their division and one that some folks think should be in the NFC Conference Championship Game, the first half performance here was as relaxing and pleasing as an atonal symphony created by Igor Stravinsky might have been to Mozart’s audiences.  The Packers were in control of the game from the start; they took advantage of 3 lost fumbles by Jared Goff including one that turned into a “Scoop-and-Score”.  The Lions made this a one-score game with less than a minute to play – – and then reverted to “Lions football”.  Clearly, an onside kick was in the offing – – but the Lions were lined up in an illegal formation on that onside kickoff attempt.

Cowboys 45  Commanders 10:  The game was actually close enough at halftime for Commanders’ fanboys to think about a miracle finish by the hometown heroes that pulled out a win in the final moments.  Not happening!  The second half score was:

  • Cowboys  25
  • Commanders   0

The Commanders produced some good news and some bad news on the stat sheet for offense:

  • Third down conversions for Commanders = 7 of 15    Good News!
  • Fourth down conversions by commanders = 0 of 3  Not Good News!
  • Commanders turned the ball over only once.  Good News!
  • That turnover by the Commanders was a Pick-Six.  Not Good News!

I ran across this stat but did not record where I found it, but it is worth noting:

Over the last 25 years, NFL teams have gone 57-0 when they have posted these stats in a game:

  • 100+ yards rushing
  • 250+ yards passing.
  • 35:00+ time of possession
  • Fewer than 25 yards in penalties – – AND – –
  • Fewer than 2 turnovers.

The Commanders did all that on Thanksgiving Day and lost by 5 TDs.  Amazing…

Niners 31  Seahawks 13:  This game was not nearly as close as the score might indicate.  The Niners were the dominant team on the field from start to finish.

Titans 17  Panthers 10:  Brice Young and Will Levis – – two rookie QBs – – had the same game here:

  • 18 of 31 for 194 yards with 0 TDs and 0 INTs  (Young)
  • 18 of 28 for 185 yards with 0 TDs and 0 INTs  (Levis)

Giants 10  Pats 7:  What a train-wreck of a game …  I got to see Tommy DeVito, Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe try to play the role of an NFL QB.  The Pats’ QB tandem averaged 3.7 yards per pass attempt and they threw 3 INTs for the day – – the last INT late in the 4th quarter set up the Giant’s winning field goal.  Meanwhile, the Giants’ QB was sacked 5 times in the game.  Phew …

Jags 24  Texans 21:  the Jags held on for the win when a 58-yard field goal try in the final seconds hit the crossbar but did not bounce through the goal posts.  Both QBs put on a show in this game:

  • 23 of 38 for 364 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT  (Lawrence)
  • 26 of 36 for 304 yards with 2 TDs and 0 INTs  (Stroud)

The Texans ran the ball effectively in the game, averaging 5.1 yards per carry.

Falcons 24  Saints 15:  The Falcons are now tied with the Saints in the NFC South; both teams are 5-6 with the Bucs only one game behind them.  One of these teams will win this division but I have little interest in watching them figure out who it will be.  The stat sheet for this game was basically a dead heat.  Derek Carr threw for 304 yards for the Saints but never found the end zone; the Saints scoring consisted of 5 field goals for the game.

Steelers 16  Bengals 10:  Well, it finally happened.  The Steelers got a new play-caller and a new offensive coordinator and then they generated 421 yards on offense in the game.  Considering that the Steelers’ defense held the Bengals to only 222 yards on offense, the score here is surprisingly close.  The Bengals had Joe Burrow on the sidelines in street clothes and the product on the field showed his absence:

  • Bengals’ time of possession was 22:43
  • Bengals ran only 41 offensive plays in the game.
  • Bengals were only 2 of 10 on third-down conversions.

Colts 27  Bucs 20:  Jonathan Taylor ran for two TDs for the Colts; Mike Evans caught 2 TD passes for the Bucs.  In terms of other offensive happenings, it was to the Colts advantage; they outgained the Bucs by 96 yards in the game.  The Colts’ record is 6-5 putting them 2 games behind the Jags in the AFC South and if the playoffs started this weekend, the Colts would be the 7th seed in the AFC.

Broncos 29  Browns 12:  The Broncos have now won 5 games in a row; that streak is tied with the Eagles for the longest current winning streak in the league.  The stat sheet makes this game appear to be a nail-biter on the scoreboard, but it was a comfortable win for the Broncos.  The Browns lost QB, Dorian Thompson-Robinson to concussion protocol and then Myles Garrett to a shoulder injury.  If both are lost for any period of time, the Browns’ season may be circling the drain.

Eagles 37  Bills 34 (OT):  This was another ugly win by the Eagles – – but there are no style points awarded in the NFL.  Consider these stat comparisons:

  • Bills’ Total Offense = 505 yards   Eagles’ Total Offense = 378 yards
  • Bills’ Time of Possession = 40:30  Eagles’ Time of Possession = 26:53
  • Bills’ third-down conversions = 13 of 22  Eagles’ third-down conversions = 4 of 11
  • Bills ran 92 plays   Eagles ran 65 plays.
  • Bills committed 1 turnover   Eagles committed 2 turnovers.

Not only did this game somehow go to OT, but the Eagles also came away with a victory. A playoff slot for the Bills is questionable – – but not impossible.  The Bills are 6-6 putting them half a game behind the Colts (6-5) for the 7th playoff slot in the AFC. Also, the Texans and the Broncos are 6-5 and lead the Bills via tiebreakers.  However, if Josh Allen and the Bills’ offense can play each week like they did against the Eagles, the Bills will be a playoff team.

  • [Aside:  It might be a good idea for the Bills to avoid any more OT games as they try to make a run to the playoffs.  Josh Allen has been in 6 OT games in his career and the Bills’ record in those games is 0-6.]

Chiefs 31  Raiders 17:  The Raiders raced off to a 14-0 lead with 12 minutes to play in the second quarter.  After that, the Raiders could only manage a field goal while the Chiefs scored 31 points.  The Chiefs’ offense gets all the attention, but the Chiefs’ defense has now held 11 consecutive opponents to 24 or fewer points.  The Chiefs’ defense shut down the Raiders’ offense in the second half, holding them to 113 yards.

Ravens 20  Chargers 10:  This game was in doubt until late in the 4th quarter; the Ravens lead was only 13-10 when Zay Flowers took a jet sweep handoff and ran 37 yards for a TD with a minute and a half left on the clock.  The Chargers are now in last place in the AFC West.


Games This Week:


Six teams have the week off:

  1. Bears:  Not sure too many people will even notice that they are not playing.
  2. Bills:  Need to shake off that heart-breaking loss to the Eagles last week.
  3. Giants:  Need to figure out how to score; they have scored the fewest points in the league.
  4. Raiders:  Record on the road is 1-5; how to fix that?
  5. Ravens:  All they need is some R&R and time to heal some injuries.
  6. Vikes:  Can they hang on to the playoff slot they have in hand as of today?

In last night’s game, the Cowboys beat the Seahawks 41-35.  The oddsmakers had the game pegged as a low-scoring event; the Total Line closed at 47.5 points.  The game went OVER with 10 minutes left in the third quarter.  The two teams combined for 819 yards of offense.  Both QBs put on a show for the fans:

  • 29 of 41 for 299 yards with 3 TDs and 0 INTs (Dak Prescott)
  • 23 of 41 for 334 yards with 3 TDs and 1 INT (Geno Smith)

If you are an aficionado of the punting game, this was not a game of interest for you; neither team punted even once.

There is a surfeit of mediocre matchups this week; I had to sift through 4 games to find the Dog-Breath Game of the Week.  One interesting feature of this week’s card is that there are 12 games:

  • Road teams are favored in 7 games.
  • Home teams are favored in 5 games.

Chargers – 5 at Pats (40):  Call this the Underachievement Bowl.  Both teams find ways to lose games.  It’s a long way to Tipperary – – and it’s a long way from LA to Foxboro.  To what end…?

Lions – 4 at Saints (47):  I am tempted by the OVER here because the Lions’ defense has been porous of late.  But I just do not trust the Saints after last week where they could not score a TD and had to kick 5 field goals to get on the scoreboard.

Falcons – 2 at Jets (33.5):  Desmond Ridder will be the best QB on the field in this game.  What a joy!  This was my runner up as the Dog-Breath Game of the Week.

Cards at Steelers – 5.5 (41):  Is last week’s offensive eruption by the Steelers sustainable?  If so, the Steelers should cruise to a win here.

Panthers at Bucs – 5 (37): This is the Dog Breath Game of the Week.  The Bucs are not a good team; the Panthers are awful.  Be thankful if you are not in a viewing area where this game is telecast.

Colts – 1 at Titans (42.5):  This game is just blah! If you like trends:

  • Titans are 4-1 at home this year.
  • Colts are 4-1 on the road this year.
  • Titans are at home and Colts are on the road.
  • Good luck with that.

Dolphins – 10 at Commanders (49):  I think both teams can score on the opposing defense.  There is no way I want to take the Dolphins on the road as a double-digit favorite, but I have no trouble seeing them engage in a track meet with the Commanders.  I’ll take this game to go OVER; put that in the “Betting Bundle”.

Broncos at Texans – 3.5 (47):  The Texans are a pleasant surprise as a team this year with a record above .500 as December starts.  CJ Stroud has been amazing.  That said, the Broncos are on a 5-game winning streak that has all but erased the memory of the 70 points they surrendered to the Dolphins earlier this year.  I think the wrong team is favored here so I am happy to take the Broncos plus the points; put that in the “Betting Bundle”.

Niners – 3 at Eagles (48):  This is so obviously the Game of the Week.  The spread opened the week with the Eagles as 1-point favorites but that favorite quickly shifted and the line has been steady at this number for a couple of days.  Make time on your schedule to tune into this game as the national game in the late afternoon time slot.

Browns at Rams – 3.5 (40):  Dorian Thompson-Robinson suffered a concussion last week; will he play this week?  Myles Garrett hurt his shoulder last week and was wearing a sling during the week; will he play this week?  Both teams need this game as both are playoff aspirants but there are too many question marks to make this a wagering proposition.

(Sun Nite) Chiefs – 6 at Packers (42):  The Packers have extended rest for this game having played on Thanksgiving last week.  As noted above, Jordan Love has been improving of late, but his positive showings have been against the Chargers and the Lions.  The Chiefs’ defense is better than either of those defenses, so it will be interesting to see how he does here.

(Mon Nite) Bengals at Jags – 8.5 (39):  I watched Jake Browning in his start last week at home against the Steelers and I was unimpressed.  Now the Bengals are on the road to play another tough defense.  The Jags have an “inverted record” so far in 2023:

  • Jags at home are 3-3
  • Jags on the road are 5-0

Nevertheless, I do not think the Bengals can hang with the Jags here; I’ll take the Jags and lay the points; put that in the “Betting Bundle”.

Let me review the “Betting Bundle”:

  • UNLV +3 against Boise St.
  • Oregon/Washington UNDER 66
  • Broncos +3.5 against Texans
  • Dolphins/Commanders OVER 49
  • Jags – 8.5 over Bengals

And here is a Money Line Parlay just for fun:

  • Jags @ minus-400
  • Chargers @ minus-240
  • Lions @ minus-200       $100 wager to win $166.

Finally, since I began this rant with a reference to Albert Einstein, let me close with another of his musings:

“Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.”

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