George Jones sang:
“It’s finally Friday, I’m outta control,
Forget the workin’ blues and let the good times roll.”
Well, it is indeed Friday, but I am still in control here in Curmudgeon Central and I am ready to let the good times roll with another edition of Football Friday. And as usual, I will begin with a review of last week’s Six-Pack and Money Line Parlays:
- College = 2-1-0 Season total = 15-8-0
- NFL = 2-1-0 Season total = 12-13-3
- M/L Parlays = 2-2 Season total = 4-13
- Profit/Loss = +$455 Season total = minus-$406
I do not engage in “what ifs” very often, but I have one for last week. IF the Jets had beaten the Pats, all four of my Money Line Parlays would have hit and instead of an imaginary profit of $406 the imaginary profit would have been $1983. May the fleas of a thousand camels infest Zach Wilson’s armpits… [Hat Tip to Johnny Carson as Carnac the Magnificent for that imprecation.]
College Football Commentary:
The Linfield College Wildcats came home with another win last week defeating the George Fox Bruins 37-10. That stretches the Wildcats record for 2022 to 7-0 as they return home to McMinnville OR to face the Willamette University Bearcats. Willamette brings a 2-6 record to the game having lost their last 5 games in a row including a 53-0 blowout loss last weekend. Go Wildcats!
Auburn and Coach Bryan Harsin “parted ways” last week after Auburn lost by 2 TDs to Arkansas. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back; Harsin had been in hot water for a while. Harsin took over the Auburn job from Gus Malzahn after the 2020 season; since then Auburn has gone 9-22 including a 3-10 stretch in its last 13 games. The removal of Malzahn is interesting because at the time of his firing, Malzahn’s record at Auburn was 67-35 – – and that was not good enough for the boosters and alums at Auburn who seem to think that Auburn needs to be a national champion contender at least every other year. Here is the statement by the university related to Harsin’s firing last week:
“Auburn University has decided to make a change in the leadership of the Auburn University football program. President Christopher Roberts made the decision after a thorough review and evaluation of all aspects of the football program. Auburn will begin an immediate search for a coach that will return the Auburn program to a place where it is consistently competing at the highest levels and representing the winning tradition that is Auburn football.”
The Auburn coaching job is a two-edged sword:
- The expectations are unrealistic and the statement by the school on the release of Harsin makes it clear that those unrealistic expectations are still in place.
- The money is great. Harsin will get a reported $15.5M buyout and half of that is due to him within 30 days of his termination plus there is no offset clause in there should he take another coaching job. Gus Malzahn supposedly had a similar structure to his contract.
The first CFP rankings are out and there is lots of attention paid to those rankings. I think the Committee has purposely done some finagling with the rankings knowing full well that they will have four or five more iterations before it really matters even a little bit. I really think the first set of rankings is purposefully provocative to start the drumbeat that leads to the CFP in January. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain until Thanksgiving weekend…
Here are some results from last weekend in the SEC:
Arkansas 41 Auburn 27: Arkansas is now 5-3 and has a real shot at a bowl game in December, but their next three games are all against ranked opponents. They will play Liberty and LSU at home and then travel to play Ole Miss. The season finale for Arkansas is on the road at Missouri. Auburn is now 3-5.
Georgia 42 Florida 20: The game was over at halftime with Georgia leading 28-3. To give you an idea of Georgia’s dominance here, the Bulldogs turned the ball over 3 times in the game and the Gators did not turn the ball over once. Yet, the final score had the Bulldogs up by just over 3 TDs. Normally losing the turnover stat by 3 is a ticket to a loss.
Tennessee 44 Kentucky 6: Pay attention to the Tennessee offense; running up 44 points on a good Kentucky defense is an impressive outing. Even more impressive is that the Tennessee defense came up big in this game holding Kentucky to only 205 yards of offense for the day. Look forward to the Tennessee/Georgia game this week; it should be interesting indeed.
Ole Miss 31 Texas A&M 28: The Rebels gained 390 yards on the ground in this game on 62 carries. That loss leaves the Aggies with an overall record of 3-5 with an SEC record of 1-4. I read a report that said it would take $84M to buy out Jimbo Fisher’s contract. I wonder if the “big money boys” around College Station have the stomach to pony up that much cheese… By the way, that rushing total by Ole Miss is not totally surprising. The Rebels have gained 250 or more yards in a game 5 times this season.
And in some Big-10 action from last week …
Ohio St. 44 Penn St. 31: The teams combined to score only 30 points in the first three quarters of the game. Then the two teams combined to score 45 points in the 4th quarter alone. Why not? The stat sheet for the game was almost even – – except for the fact that Penn St. turned the ball over 4 times and Ohio St. did not turn it over at all. Penn St. led 21-13 early in the 4th quarter but could not hold the lead.
Minnesota 31 Rutgers 0: This was a spanking. Rutgers’ total offense for the day was 134 yards. Rutgers managed 7 first downs in the game and one of those first downs came via a penalty on Minnesota. Oh, and the Scarlet Knights “helped their cause” by turning the ball over 3 times in the game. What a stinkeroo of a performance…
Illinois 26 Nebraska 9: The Illini are in control in the Big-10 West; they have to lose a game for any other team there to challenge them. For example, the Huskers are down 2 games in the loss column plus a tiebreaker to the Illini…
Iowa 33 Northwestern 13: This was an offensive explosion for the Hawkeyes; going into this game Iowa averaged 14.0 points per game…
Michigan 29 Michigan St. 7: The Wolverines controlled the game; they had more rushing yards (276) than Michigan St. had in total offense (215). The Michigan defense was dominant in the second half; the Spartans had the ball 5 times in the second half and here are the results of those possessions:
- 3 plays and a PUNT
- 3 plays and a PUNT
- 4 plays and a TURNOVER ON DOWNS
- 5 plays and a PUNT
- 8 plays and an INT
In some ACC action last week …
Miami 14 Virginia 12 (OT): The game was tied 6-6 at the end of regulation. Then it took 4 OT periods to get to a decision. No TDs were scored; all points came from field goals, or the mandatory 2-point conversion tries in OT periods. The total offense for the two teams combined through regulation time and all the OT periods was 600 yards.
UNC 42 Pitt 4: The Tar Heels remain unbeaten in ACC games putting them in control of the Coastal Division. Pitt was the ACC Champion last year but their record this year is only 1-2 in conference games and 4-3 overall.
NC State 22 Va Tech 21: Tech led by 18 points at one point in the third quarter and led 21-10 at the start of the 4th quarter in this game. One oddity from the stat sheet is that the Hokies were penalized 13 times in the game and 10 of those penalties were for a false start. That is the sort of thing you tend to see in Pop Warner football…
Louisville 48 Wake Forest 21: The stat sheet says this game should be really close:
- Total Offense: Louisville = 410 yards Wake Forest = 398 yards.
The stat sheet was like a Sesame Street episode brought to you by the number 8:
- Turnovers: Louisville = 0 Wake Forest = 8 as in Eight!
- Sacks by Louisville: 8 as in Eight!
To put that turnover stat in perspective, Wake Forest had only committed 5 Turnovers in the 7 games leading up to last weekend. Wow!
Moving on to Big-12 games from last weekend …
TCU 41 West Virginia 31: The Horned Frogs are still undefeated in 2022. TCU had three TD plays of 50+ yards in the game.
K-State 48 Oklahoma St. 0: I thought Oklahoma St. was going to win outright here so I took them plus a single point in last week’s Six-Pack. <hanging my head in shame>. K-State more than doubled the offensive output for the Cowboys:
- K-State = 497 yards offense
- Ok State = 217 yards offense
Three turnovers by Oklahoma St. did not help their cause even a little bit. This was a great defensive game by K-State; the Cowboys had been averaging almost 45 points per game until last week; in fact, Oklahoma St. never made it to the Red Zone let alone the end zone.
Baylor 45 Texas Tech 17: Baylor still has an outside shot at being in the Big-12 Championship game; Texas Tech is out of it.
And way out west in the PAC-12 …
Oregon 42 Cal 24: Yet again, Oregon scored more than 41 points in this game. Only Georgia has held the Ducks below that number in 2022. However, a look at the Oregon defensive stats does not paint nearly as rosy a picture:
- Oregon is 76th in the country in Total Defense allowing 386.3 yards per game
- Oregon is 82nd in the country in Scoring Defense allowing 28.4 points per game
Utah 21 Washington St. 17: Utah maintained the importance of its upcoming game against USC in terms of PAC-12 Conference standings. The PAC-12 Championship game will involve two of these four teams:
Washington St. will not be part of that crowd but has an excellent shot at bowl-eligibility. They are not going to be serious underdogs in any of their remaining games; in fact, they will be favored in three of their four remaining games and could well be favored in the fourth one.
And in “other games of interest from last week” …
UConn 13 BC 3: UConn is above .500 at this point in the 2022 schedule; I surely would not have predicted that in August. The alert status in BC has to be the college football equivalent of DEFCON 1. Right?
Notre Dame 41 Syracuse 24: That makes two losses in a row for Syracuse. Notre Dame won the game by running the ball; the Irish gained 246 yards on the ground on 54 carries.
UNC-Charlotte 56 Rice 23: This was a game Rice was probably counting on to become bowl-eligible. Life is going to be more difficult after losing to a bad UNC-Charlotte team. The Owls were 15-point favorites at home in this game.
New Mexico St. 23 UMass 13: The Aggies had to travel 2500 miles to get this win; I guess it was worth it… UMass actually led at halftime 13-10 and then failed to score in the second half.
The SHOE Tournament:
The CFP determines a national champion on the field of play. I know it will never happen, but I like to fantasize about determining the worst team in the country on the field of play also. I call it the SHOE Tournament because it finds the SHOE team of the year where SHOE stands for Steaming Heap Of Excrement. Here is how it would work:
I pick the worst 8 teams in the country and seed them with the worst of the bunch seeded #1 and the “least worst” at #8.
Then we play a normal bracket of 8 teams except the loser in each round has to play on while the winner can go home and not have to continue to embarrass itself on the field.
In the end there is one ultimate losing team…
I will begin this week by identifying 12 teams that are on my radar screen for entry into the SHOE Tournament. As with the initial CFP rankings, there is lots of time and room for modification here – – but I’ll give it an early go this week putting my candidates in alphabetical order lest anyone think a seeding process has begun:
- Akron 1-8
- Colorado 1-7
- Colorado St. 2-6
- Hawaii 2-7
- La-Monroe 2-6
- Nevada 2-7
- New Mexico 2-6
- Northwestern 1-7
- Northern Illinois 2-7
- UMass 1-7
- UNC-Charlotte 2-7
- USF 1-7
College Games of Interest This Week:
Air Force – 7.5 at Army (40.5): Air Force will claim the Commander-in-Chief Trophy with a win here since it has already defeated Navy earlier in 2022. Tempted to play this game UNDER …
UNC – 7 at Virginia (61): The spread opened at 9 points and dropped to this level; meanwhile the Total Line opened at 58.5 points and has risen to this level. The Tar Heels look to remain undefeated in ACC games this year. UNC will score points; the UNC defense is not good – – but the Virginia offense is not good either. I like the Tar Heels to win and cover even on the road; put it in the Six-Pack.
Michigan – 26 at Rutgers (45): Two weeks ago, Rutgers broke a 21-game home losing streak in conference games by beating Indiana. Last week, Rutgers was on the road. This week, they can start a new losing streak in home conference games.
Wake Forest – 4 at NC State (54): Both teams are already bowl eligible with 6-2 records; neither team is going to catch Clemson in the ACC Atlantic Division. This one is just a game for bragging rights along Interstate 40.
Florida St. – 7.5 at Miami (52.5): About 20 years ago, this would have been the biggest game of the year. Not nearly so this week…
Ga. Tech at Va. Tech – 3 (41): Guaranteed that “Tech” will win this game…
Iowa at Purdue – 3.5 (39.5): Purdue trails Illinois in the Big-10 West race; the Boilermakers have 2 conference losses and Illinois has only 1. This game means more to Purdue than it does to Iowa.
Penn St. – 14 at Indiana (50): The Nittany Lions look to bounce back here after losing to Ohio St. last week.
Syracuse at Pitt – 3.5 (48.5): Syracuse has lost two in a row – – to Clemson and then to Notre Dame – – after starting the season at 6-0. Pitt has 3 conference losses; so, it is out of the running for the ACC Championship Game, but the Panthers do need 2 more wins to achieve bowl eligibility.
Oklahoma St at Kansas – 1 (64.5): Kansas has lost 3 in a row; Oklahoma St. was pantsed by K-State last week (see above). The Cowboys can still get into the Big-12 Championship Game; the Jayhawks are not mathematically eliminated but they will need a lot of Pixie Dust to get an invite there.
USF – 3.5 at Temple (50): Two bad teams here. USF is on my SHOE Tournament radar and Temple will put themselves there with a loss in this game.
Liberty at Arkansas – 14.5 (51): Both teams have made brief appearances in the Top 25 in 2022. Liberty is 7-1 so far this year; Arkansas is 5-3 and needs a win to become bowl-eligible. That line looks fat to me; I’ll take Liberty plus those points; put it in the Six-Pack.
Michigan St. at Illinois – 17 (41): Bret Bielema seems to have things pointed in the right direction in his second year at the helm for Illinois. Meanwhile, Mel Tucker’s program at Michigan St. seems to be coming apart at the seams in Tucker’s third year in East Lansing.
Maryland at Wisconsin – 4.5 (49.5): The Terps are 6-2; the Badgers are 4-4 and need to find 2 more wins to make it to a bowl game this year.
Texas – 2.5 at K-State (54): If the Longhorns want to have any chance at all to be in the Big-12 Championship Game, they must win this one. K-State is solidly in second place with only 1 conference loss but would fall behind the Longhorns on a tiebreaker if they lose this one. Seriously important game for both teams…
Baylor at Oklahoma – 3.5 (61): Baylor is in the same position as Texas; they must win this game to maintain a shot at being in the Big-12 Championship Game.
Ohio St. – 38.5 at Northwestern (56): This should be an “Avert-Your-Eyes Game”. The most interesting thing here is that the Total Line opened the week at 62 points and has dropped significantly from that level.
Florida at Texas A&M-3 (55): Neither team can be happy with their status at this point of the season. Their joint SEC record so far this year is 2-8. The Aggies have lost 4 games in a row…
Auburn at Mississippi St. – 12 (51): Game is interesting only to see how Auburn plays under its new interim coach…
Tennessee at Georgia – 8 (67): This is certainly the Game of the Week in college football. It might even be the Game of the Year – – and how refreshing might that be since the “Game of the Year” has always involved Alabama for the past several years. Both teams are undefeated. Take a look at some stats here:
- Georgia allows 10.5 points per game
- Tennessee scores 49.4 points per game
- Georgia allows 85.4 yards per game on the ground
- Tennessee averages 199.6 yards per game on the ground
- Tennessee allows 393.6 yards per game in total offense
- Georgia produces 530.1 yards per game in total offense
Texas Tech at TCU – 8 (68): TCU is still unbeaten in 2022 sitting in first place in the Big-12 standings…
Alabama – 13 at LSU (56): Alabama cannot afford another loss; they need to win out to climb into the CFP bracket. Both teams are ranked in the Top Ten for now and while both teams have a great reputation for tough defenses, the 2022 teams are much stronger offensively. I see lots of scoring here so let me take the game to go OVER; put it in the Six-Pack.
Clemson – 4 at Notre Dame (44.5): Clemson is another undefeated team looking to impress the CFP Committee.
There were some interesting moves at the NFL trading deadline this week. I have already commented on the Christian McCaffrey, Robert Quinn and Roquan Smith trades by the Panthers and the Bears so let me quickly comment on some others:
- Bears acquire Chase Claypool from the Steelers: I understand why the Bears would want to upgrade their pass-catching cadre. What I do not understand is how or why the Steelers think trading away their most experienced receiver helps their rookie QB.
- Jags acquire Calvin Ridley from Falcons: Ridley is suspended indefinitely and cannot even apply for reinstatement until next March. Again, I am not sure how or why the Falcons consider him to be expendable. Ridley will be back eventually.
- Vikes acquire TJ Hockenson from Lions: Trading a Pro Bowl caliber player to a division rival is hardly commonplace. Ladies and gentlemen, I hope you are not surprised that it was the Lions that did this.
They say that sometimes the best trades you make are the ones you don’t make. Well, the Packers better hope that is the case because the Packers need help this year and they got bupkes at the trade deadline.
Two years ago, the Dolphins got three high draft picks from the Niners that allowed the Niners to move way up in the Draft so that the Niners could take Trey Lance. The Dolphins have traded away those three high draft picks and got in return:
- Jaylen Waddle: One of the picks was part of the trade that moved the Dolphins up ahead of the Eagles to make that pick.
- Tyreek Hill: One of the picks went to the Chiefs in the trade that got Hill to Miami.
- Bradley Chubb: The last of those picks was part of the deal to get Bradley Chubb at this year’s trading deadline.
So, if you look at the trade as being Waddle, Hill and Chubb in exchange for Lance, you would have to say that it looks like the Dolphins won that trade comfortably – – at least for now.
This year’s iteration of the Tampa Bay Bucs is a mess. The Bucs’ offense exposes the defensive unit because the offense does not stay on the field enough. Consider that the Bucs rank 27th in the NFL in third-down conversions. That means they do not put together lots of long drives that eat up the clock. That fact is compounded by the fact that the Bucs’ offense does not give the defense a lot of margin for error. When the Bucs do get into the Red Zone, the offense ranks 29th in the NFL in touchdown efficiency. Far too often, the Bucs have to settle for a field goal in those situations – – which is better than when they turn the ball over in those situations.
One of the things that makes for Red Zone efficiency is the ability to run the ball effectively. The back line of the end zone is like a 12th or even a 13th defender when the ball is inside the 20-yardline. If the defense has no reason to play the run honestly, it makes for an awfully crowded area for the Red Zone offense. And the Bucs running game is vestigial in 2022. The Bucs average only 62 yards per game on the ground – – dead last in the NFL. So, the question now becomes:
- Are they last in rushing offense because they throw the ball about 75-80% of the time – – OR – – do they throw the ball 75-80% of the time because they just cannot run the ball?
Speaking of teams that are a mess, allow me to turn your attention to the Las Vegas Raiders. With a 2-5 record for the season – – and their BYE Week already in the books – – they are in last place in the AFC West. That is bad enough but then there is last week’s 24-0 loss to the mediocre New Orleans Saints. If you watch the Saints’ highlights” one of the things that will jump out at you is the miserable tackling attempted by the Raiders’ defenders. There are Pop Warner teams that tackle more effectively. Raiders’ defensive coordinator, Patrick Graham said after that game that his charges need to “execute at a higher level”. That is coach-speak for:
“Those guys stunk out the joint in the Saints’ game and if they do that again, I am going to lose my job!”
However, do not get the idea that the Raiders’ offense is off the hook here. An offense that features Derek Carr, Davante Adams and Josh Jacobs generated only 183 total yards on offense for the game. [Aside: Alvin Kamara alone had 158 yards from scrimmage in that game.] Here are two things Raiders’ fans need to be asking themselves:
- Is it possible that Josh McDaniels is a really good offensive coordinator and a really bad head coach?
- Where is Rich Bisaccia now that we need him?
Here are some comments about games from last weekend:
Broncos 21 Jags 17: I read a report that said the “Broncos saved their season” with this win. That may be a bit premature since the Broncos are now 3-5 in the AFC West and trail the Chiefs by 3 games in the loss column. Having said that, they are in better shape than the Jags whose record now is 2-6 and they seem to play just well enough to lose close games. The Jags’ passing attack was anemic at best here; it averaged only 3.5 yards per pass attempt. Travis Etienne, however, had a good day running the ball for the Jags; he gained 156 yards on 24 carries and scored a TD.
Vikes 34 Cards 26: Don’t look now, but the Vikes are 6-1 and lead both the Packers and the Bears by 4 games in the loss column. The stat sheet was pretty even but the Cards had 3 turnovers – – including 2 INTs by Kyler Murray in the second half of the game – – which tilted things in favor of the Vikes. One other thing from the stat sheet that stands out is that the Vikes had 5 Red Zone opportunities and scored TDs every time.
Falcons 37 Panthers 34 (OT): The Falcons now lead the NFC South with a 4-4 record. They tried to lose this game in the final seconds of regulation time, but Panthers’ WR DJ Moore was having none of that. Here is what happened:
- Falcons led by 6 with less than 30 seconds left in the game.
- Panthers had the ball on their own 38-yardline.
- PJ Walker threw up a Hail Mary to DJ Moore who ran between two defenders to get behind both of them.
- That TD pass tied the score, and the PAT was going to win it for the Panthers … BUT …
- Moore took off his helmet to celebrate and incurred a 15-yard penalty.
- That moved the PAT try back making it 48-yard kick attempt.
- It failed; the game went to OT; the Falcons won it with a FG late in the OT.
- That is the sort of outcome that falls in favor of a team that is in the good graces of the football gods…
Cowboys 49 Bears 29: The Total Line for this game was 43 points; the Cowboys blew past that number by themselves. An astonishing stat from this game is that the Cowboys were 9 for 11 on third-down conversions. Both teams ran the ball very well; the Bears gained 240 yards on 43 carries and the Cowboys gained 200 yards on 29 attempts. The Bears passing game was “limited” to be as polite as I can be.
Saints 24 Raiders 0: It is easy to look at the stats for the game and point the finger at the Raiders’ offense as the reason for the loss here because that offense gained a measly 182 yards on offense for the day. But that is only half the story. The Raiders’ defense was similarly inept; for some reason, half the defenders on the field seemed to forget that using their arms as part of the technique of tackling is a good idea. This was a totally sloppy effort by just about everyone on the Raiders’ roster (see comments above).
Dolphins 31 Lions 27: The Lions scored all 27 points in the first half and led 27-17 at halftime. The Lions had the ball only 3 times in the second half with these results:
- 3 minutes and 55 seconds 5 plays minus-2 yards PUNT
- 3 minutes and 6 seconds 5 plays 1 yard PUNT
- 5 minutes and 27 seconds 10 plays 53 yards TURNOVER ON DOWNS
That pretty much tells you why the Lions’ defense could not hold the lead… By the way, this is not a new situation for the Lions; over the last 3 games, the Lions have not scored a single point in the second half of those games.
Pats 22 Jets 17: I did not see the game as it happened, but I have seen “highlights” of the 3 INTs that Zack Wilson threw in the game, and they were 3 genuinely ugly plays. Two of them looked to be attempted throwaways that went to a defender instead of to the guy on the sidelines filling the Gatorade cups. The Jets outgained the Pats by 99 yards for the day, but the Pats’ defense limited the Jets’ running game to only 51 yards.
Eagles 35 Steelers 13: AJ Brown dominated the Steelers’ secondary catching 6 passes for 156 yards and 3 TDs. The Eagles’ defense did its part forcing 2 turnovers and sacking Kenny Pickett 6 times. The Steelers posted a pair of entries on the stat sheet that are strange in juxtaposition:
- Steelers’ third-down conversions: 1 for 11
- Steelers’ fourth-down conversions: 4 for 4 (and one of the conversions was a TD)
Tony Romo reported a stat during the telecast that the Eagles – – now 7-0 on the season – – have not trailed for even one second in the second half of any game so far this year.
Titans 17 Texans 10: The Titans won this one with rookie Malik Willis at QB. A lot of what Willis did for the day was to hand the ball to Derrick Henry 32 times and watch as Henry ran for 219 yards and 2 TDs. In what would try to look like a passing game, Willis threw the ball 10 times and gained 55 yards on those attempts. Meanwhile the Titans’ defense held the Texans’ offense to only 161 yards total offense for the day.
Seahawks 27 Giants 13: The Giants trailed 13-10 at the start of the 4th quarter which set them up for a fourth quarter win as has been their specialty this season. Not today. While the Seahawks put 2 TDs on the scoreboard, here are the results of the 4th quarter possessions by the Giants:
- 3 plays 6 yards PUNT
- 9 plays 46 yards TURNOVER ON DOWNS
- 6 plays 3 yards END OF GAME
The Seahawks at 5-3 sit atop the NFC West.
Dwight Perry had this observation about tis game in the Seattle Times:
“If you predicted before the NFL season that the only Week 8 matchup pairing winning teams would be the Seahawks and Giants, step forward and claim your prize.
“And slip us the next winning Powerball numbers while you’re at it.”
Niners 31 Rams 14: The Rams were shut out in the second half and Cooper Kupp injured an ankle in the final series of the game – – severity of the injury is still TBD. The Niners’ defense limited the Rams’ running game to 56 yards on 19 carries. The Niners’ performance was dominant; they outgained the Rams by 145 yards; they also averaged 7.1 yards per offensive play to only 4.0 yards per play by the Rams.
Commanders 17 Colts 16: The Commanders have won 3 in a row and are back to .500 – – and they are still in last place in the NFC East. The Colts started Sam Ehlinger at QB replacing the injured/benched Matt Ryan and Ehlinger did not embarrass himself; this was not anything like the time the Cowboys ran Ben DiNucci out to start a game. Here is Ehlinger’s stat line:
- 17 of 23 for 201 yards with 0 TDs and 0 INTs
Taylor Heinicke started again for the Commanders and led two scoring drives producing 10 points and the win in the final 12 minutes of the game.
Bills 27 Packers 17: The game did not feel like one with a 10-point margin of victory; there was never any serious indication that the Packers might win this game. The Packers had more total offense in the game than the Bills but lots of it came as the Packers looked to move the ball from deep in their own territory.
NFL Games this Week:
It is a big week for BYE Weeks on the NFL schedule with 6 teams on hiatus:
- Broncos: They need to use the extra time they have here to figure out how to score more than 21 points in a game. The team’s defense got a little bit worse with the trading of Bradley Chubb,
- Browns: They looked good in dominating the Bengals last week, but consistency has eluded this team for several years now.
- Cowboys: Their offense can pat themselves on the back for scoring 49 points last week against the Bears. Meanwhile, the defense should be given a swift kick in the posterior for allowing the Bears to score 29 points in only 4 quarters.
- Giants: They lost a game when they were within striking distance in the 4th quarter; the Giants have won lots of those in 2022. They need a week to reassure themselves that they can do that sort of thing again and again …
- Niners: They get another week to get Christian McCaffrey familiar with the arcane parts of the Niners’ playbook. Even more importantly, the defense gets to give some of its performers time to heal.
- Steelers: This may turn out to be Mike Tomlin’s first losing season as the coach of the Steelers – – but the team will go down fighting.
Last night, the Eagles beat the Texans 29-17. This was a “talent wins out” game; the Eagles have a better roster than the Texans, but the Eagles played down to the level of their opponent. Given that type of performance, it is still at least 6 weeks too early for anyone to be mentioning a 17-0 season for the team.
A general comment on the NFL card for this weekend is that there are no “great games” and there are lots of games that can be considered for the “Dog-Breath designation”. I think you will be surprised at my pick for Game of the Week” below…
Colts at Pats – 5.5 (40.5): The Colts went with Sam Ehlinger at QB last week and the offense sputtered – – as it has all season long. The Pats have also been less than formidable on offense in 2022 no matter whom they play at QB. This game should be interesting to watch because it should be close from start to finish. The Pats need this game if they want to climb out of the AFC East basement; the Colts need this game because they already trail the Titans by two games and have lost the tiebreaker already.
Bills – 11 at Jets (46): Both teams have a winning record; the Jets trail the Bills by 2 games in the AFC East, so, the game has relevance to the standings. Nevertheless, this looks like a mismatch to me. I ran across this stat at one of those “handicapping sites”:
- Bills have been favored by double-digits 10 times over the last two seasons.
- Bills are 6-2-2 against the spread in those 10 games.
Dolphins – 4 at Bears (45.5): This makes two road games in a row for the Dolphins and that is never a plus for an NFL team. Moreover, the Dolphins’ 5-3 record is slightly tainted by the fact that the team also has a negative 14-point differential; other teams with that same record all have positive point differentials this morning. Nonetheless, even though the Bears’ offense exploded last week and scored 29 points, the fact is that the Bears still average fewer than 20 points per game. I am not yet sold on the Bears’ offense, so I’ll take the Dolphins to win and cover here; put it in the Six-Pack.
Vikes – 3 at Commanders (43.5): This is a ‘Homecoming game” for Kirk Cousins. The Vikes are 6-1 coming into the game having won 5 in a row and lead the NFC North by a comfortable 4 games in the loss column. The Commanders are in last place in the NFC East, but they have won 3 games in a row thanks to a trio of good defensive efforts. This game got brief consideration as the Game of the Week.
Packers – 3.5 at Lions (49.5): The spread for this game opened as a “Pick ‘em game” but that did not last long at all. The Lions have the worst record in the NFL and have lost 5 games in a row. The Packers have disappointed lots of people and have lost 4 games in a row. This is the Dog-Breath Game of the Week. The Lions’ defense has given up more points than any other team in the league – – and the Lions have had a BYE Week already.
Chargers – 3.5 at Falcons (49.5): The Falcons lead the NFC South with a 4-4 record. The Chargers trail the Chiefs by a game in the AFC West. The game is relevant to the standings. Moreover, the oddsmakers have this pegged as a close game. The Falcons will try to run the ball down the Chargers’ throats; the Chargers will try to throw the ball all over the field. This is my Game of the Week. This is also a “body-clock game” for a west coast team playing in the early time slot on the east coast. Just a hunch but give me the Falcons plus the points at home; put it in the Six-Pack.
Panthers at Bengals – 7 (42.5): Neither team has shown much consistency this season, but the Panthers appear to be playing better in recent weeks with PJ Walker at QB. I think the key to this game is the protection the Bengals’ OL provides for Joe Burrow because the strength of the Panthers is their defensive front seven.
Raiders – 1.5 at Jags (48): The spread here opened with the Jags as 1-point favorites; not so anymore… This game got serious consideration for the “Dog-Breath” label. The Raiders were awful last week; the Jags have lost 5 games in a row.
Seahawks at Cards – 2 (49): The Seahawks lead the NFC West; The Cards are in the basement in the NFC West. So, naturally, the Cards are favored in this game… Say what?
Rams at Bucs – 3 (42.5): Back in August if you had shown me this schedule of games, I would have immediately picked this as the Game of the Week. Not so this weekend; neither team brings a winning record to the kickoff. The loser of this game might put their playoff aspirations in jeopardy even though the Bucs have a road to the playoffs that only requires them to finish ahead of the rest of the mediocre NFC South teams. This will be the national game in the late afternoon time slot, and I think it will be pretty thin gruel.
(Sun Nite) Titans at Chiefs – 13 (45.5): Yes, both teams lead their division so that game has plenty of standings relevance and potentially playoff seeding relevance. So, how is this not the “Game of the Week”? Simple. Look at the spread; the oddsmakers do not think this is going to be a nailbiter. Now, if it is indeed a nailbiter, this will be – in retrospect – the “Game of the Week”, but I am not doing retrospectives here. The clash of styles on offense between these teams could not be starker. It should be an interesting game to watch – – unless it gets out of hand.
(Mon Nite) Ravens – 2.5 at Saints (47.5): So, did the Saints come to life last week as they dominated the Raiders? Or did they simply dominate a bad team that put forth a mediocre level of effort? The Ravens ran the ball for 200+ yards against the Bucs last time out; I doubt they will do anything close to that level of business against the Saints’ defense – – so what can Lamar Jackson do in the passing game. I think this will be a low scoring game and am tempted to take the UNDER, but I prefer taking the Ravens to win and cover; put it in the Six-Pack.
Let me review the Six-Pack here:
- Alabama/LSU OVER 56
- UNC – 7 over Virginia
- Liberty +14.5 against Arkansas
- Dolphins – 4 over Bears
- Falcons +3.5 against Chargers
- Ravens – 2.5 over Saints
And here are two Money Line Parlays,
- Bills @ minus-570
- Commanders @ +150 To win $194
- Air Force @ minus-270
- UNC @ minus-270
- Penn St. @ minus-470 To win $128
Finally, with the midterm elections early next week, that means the majority of the Congressthings have their careers on the line. So, let me close today with an entry from The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm that speaks to Congressional careers:
“Lust: God’s way of giving overworked, stressed-out congressmen a convenient way to end the careers they lack the courage to end for themselves.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………