The number seven has plenty of historical significance and symbolic meanings. There are the 7 Liberal Arts; there were 7 visible planets that mystified astronomers prior to Galileo; there are 7 notes between octaves on the harmonic scale; and of course, there are 7 deadly sins. Here in Curmudgeon Central, the importance of the number 7 is that there are 7 days in a week – – meaning that every seventh day in the Fall and Winter, it is time for a Football Friday.
And so, I shall begin with a review of last week’s Six-Pack and Money Line selections:
- College = 2-0-0 Season Total = 9-6-0
- NFL = 2-1-1 Season Total = 7-8-3
- Money Line Parlays = 1-1 Season Total = 2-5
- Profit/Loss = +$36 Season Total = minus-$261
College Football Commentary:
The Linfield College Wildcats remained undefeated and won their 4th game of the season on the road against the Pirates of Whitworth University by a score of 35-17. As a Division III team, the Wildcats only play a 9-game regular season; so, with only one more victory, Linfield will extend their streak of winning football seasons to 66 years. This week the Wildcats are on the road again in Forest Grove, OR to take on the Boxers of Pacific University. The Boxers are 3-1 so far in 2022 and like the Wildcats the Boxers are undefeated in Northwest conference games. Go Wildcats!
By my count, there are 15 Division 1-A football teams that are still undefeated in 2022. This weekend presents a strong slate of games including three games where both teams arrive at the kickoff undefeated for the season:
- Michigan/Penn St.
- Oklahoma St./TCU
That means at the very most, there will be 12 undefeated teams going into action next week. And in addition to those interesting contests, there are three other games where both teams are ranked in the Top 25 in the country:
- Mississippi St./Kentucky
- NC St./Syracuse
The schedule maker has been kind to us this weekend. We should thank the schedule maker. Glory be to the schedule maker.
For the sake of completeness, I need to point out that of the 131 schools playing Divisin1-A football, there is only 1 team in the nation that is winless to date. That ignominy belongs to:
- The University of Colorado Buffaloes
Going into last week, Colorado St. was also winless; they got off the schneid last week against Nevada (see below) and looking at that result got me thinking about football programs in various states. So here is a thought to ponder – – which state has the worst “tandem of flagship football teams”. Here are six contenders from my perspective:
- Arizona/Arizona St.
- Colorado/Colorado St.
- New Mexico/New Mexico St.
- Virginia/Virginia Tech
From my standpoint, it would be a tossup between Massachusetts and New Mexico…
Let me go over some game results from last week involving SEC teams:
Mississippi St. 40 Arkansas 17: This was a big day for the Bulldog’s offense gaining 568 yards in the game. As you would expect from a Mike Leach team, Mississippi St. gained 398 yards passing. That is the third conference loss for Arkansas effectively eliminating them from the conference race.
Florida 24 Missouri 17: Mizzou won the stat sheet:
- Total Offense: Missouri 370 yards Florida 297 yards
- Yards Passing: Missouri 220 yards Florida 66 yards
- First Downs: Missouri 21 Florida 12
A Pick-Six by the Gators was an important turning point in the game. Florida had lost 6 consecutive conference games going back to last season; notwithstanding this win, Florida has two SEC losses so far this year and is probably out of contention for the conference title.
Alabama 24 Texas A&M 20: Bryce Young did not play; Jalen Milroe took his place and Alabama relied on its running game and defense to come out ahead here. Here is Milroe’s stat line:
- 12 of 19 for 111 yards with 3 TDs and 1 INT.
Meanwhile the Tide ran the ball 51 times amassing 288 yards on the ground. The Aggies had the ball at Alabama’s 2- yardline with 3 seconds to play but could not produce a winning TD. That makes 2 conference losses for Texas A&M.
Tennessee 40 LSU 13: The Vols were favored in the game but not by 27 points. Defense is a strength for LSU, but it was not on display last weekend; Tennessee ran up 499 yards of offense for the game. Tennessee and Georgia are the two undefeated teams left in the SEC East.
Georgia 42 Auburn 10: Georgia just about doubled up Auburn in terms of offense generated; the Bulldogs had 500 yards in the game and held Auburn to 258 yards. The score was 35-3 in the 4th quarter when Auburn scored a meaningless TD which will allow them to say they reached Georgia’s end zone in the game.
Ole Miss 52 Vandy 28: Vandy led at the half by a score of 20-17. Here are the results of the 7 Vandy possessions in the second half:
- 5 plays and a PUNT
- 3 plays and a LOST FUMBLE
- 3 plays and a PUNT
- 6 plays and a PUNT
- 16 plays and a TURNOVER ON DOWNS
- 6 plays and a TOUCHDOWN
- 1 play and END OF GAME
Meanwhile, Ole Miss was scoring 35 points…
South Carolina 24 Kentucky 14: That is the second conference loss for Kentucky who had been ranked #13 in the country coming to this game. Kentucky played without its injured starting QB, Will Levis and started freshman Kayia Sheron in his place. Sheron had a decent day producing this stat line:
- 15 of 27 for 178 yards with 2 TDs and 1 INT
Both teams now have 2 conference losses in the SEC East race.
Here are some games in the ACC from last weekend.
Pitt 45 Va Tech 29: Pitt led 17-16 at the half and then pulled away in the second half.
Georgia Tech 23 Duke 20 (OT): That makes it two wins in a row for Tech after firing the head coach there. Both teams now have 1 conference loss in the ACC Coastal Division race.
UNC 27 Miami 24: The Tar Heels are the only undefeated team in conference play left in the ACC Coastal Division. Miami is one of 4 teams in that division with only 1 conference loss, but this was the third consecutive loss for the ‘Canes.
Clemson 31 BC 3: The game was much closer on the stat sheet than on the scoreboard. Both teams had a passing offense of 220 yards. The biggest difference was in the running game where Clemson won that battle 244 yards to 34 yards. But that sort of differential does not normally yield a 4 TD margin of victory.
NC St. 19 Florida St. 17: The Seminoles led 17-3 at halftime but never scored again and only gained 93 yards on offense in the entire second half.
Moving on to Big-10 action from last week.
Michigan 31 Indiana 10: The Wolverines’ defense dominated the game allowing only 222 yards to the Hoosiers and holding Indiana’s ground game to 19 yards on 18 rushes and 7 QB sacks. The game was tied 10-10 at the half but Michigan pulled away in the second half.
Wisconsin 42 Northwestern 7: The interim coach at Wisconsin comes out of the gate flying; If the team continues to play like this, could he be the “next guy” in Madison, WI?
Ohio St. 49 Michigan St. 20: The stat sheet for this game is even more lopsided than the score.
- Total Offense: Ohio St. = 614 yards Michigan St. = 202 yards
- Rushing Offense: Ohio St. = 237 yards Michigan St. = 7 yards
CJ Stroud threw 6 TD passes in this rout.
Illinois 9 Iowa 6: There were 538 yards total offense in this game. That is the total for both teams. If you are a connoisseur of the punting game, this was a delight for you. The two teams combined to punt the ball 14 times in the game.
Purdue 31 Maryland 29: The game was also dead even on the stat sheet including the fact that neither team ran the ball well. Maryland gained 72 yards on the ground on 25 carries while Purdue only managed 13 yards on 23 carries.
Nebraska 14 Rutgers 13: Rutgers home losing streak in 21 straight conference games continues with a narrow loss here. It was a tale of two halves. Rutgers led 13-0 at the half; then Nebraska shut out Rutgers for the second half. Three turnovers and nine penalties by the Scarlet Knights did them in.
Next up will be the Big-12.
TCU 38 Kansas 31: That is the first loss of the year for Kansas, and it leaves TCU as one of three teams in the Big-12 without a conference loss. Both teams put on an offensive show:
- Total Offense: Kansas = 540 yards TCU = 452 yards
- Average yards per rush: Kansas = 5.0 TCU = 4.6
- Average yards per pass attempt: Kansas = 9.9 TCU = 8.8
Texas 49 Oklahoma 0: When Lincoln Riley pulled up stakes in Norman, OK and headed to So. Cal., there was a lot of bravado in Sooner-land that the program would go on without him. Less than a month ago, the Sooners were ranked #6 in the country. Well, things had already been looking “shaky” over the previous 2 weeks, but this result is simply shocking. Oklahoma is now 3-3 for the season but all 3 losses are conference losses. Normally, Oklahoma is at or near the top of the Big-12 standings but not this year…
- Total Offense: Texas = 585 yards OU = 195 yards
- Passing Offense: Texas = 289 yards OU = 39 yards
Oklahoma St. 41 Texas Tech 31: The Cowboys remain undefeated in Big-12 games while Tech sees its conference record fall to 1-2.
K-State 10 Iowa St. 9: K-State sits atop the Big 12 as of today with a 3-0 conference record; Iowa St. in in the cellar at 0-3 in Big-12 games. I ran across this disturbing stat for Iowa St:
- The Cyclones have scored 1 TD in their last 20 possessions
K-State has this week off to prep for a big game against TCU next week.
And in the PAC-12 …
UCLA 42 Utah 32: The Bruins are 6-0 for the season and have scored 40 points or more in 5 of those 6 games. The score last weekend is a bit of a surprising result because Utah’s defense is normally very stingy.
USC 30 Washington St. 14: Like cross-town rival, UCLA, the Trojans are off to a 6-0 start in 2022. USC led only 17-14 at the half but shut out the Cougars in the second half to win handily.
Arizona St. 45 Washington 38: It looks as if the pre-season hype about “Washington being back” was not much more than hype because this result would indicate that Washington is still mired in mediocrity. The Sun Devils entered the game with a 1-4 record and the only time they ever scored more than 25 points in a game was against a Division 1-AA opponent. Last week, they dropped 45 on the Huskies…
Oregon 49 Arizona 22: The Ducks scored early and often running up 580 yards on offense for the game including 306 yards on the ground. Arizona converted on 10 of 17 third-down situations; normally, that sort of performance leads to a win but not nearly the case here.
And in some other random games of interest from last week …
Navy 53 Tulsa 21: Navy has had trouble scoring so far this year. They entered the game averaging only 13.2 points per game – – and then 53 points happened last weekend. As is often the case, Navy dominated the ground game stats gaining 455 yards rushing to only 25 yards for Tulsa.
James Madison 42 Arkansas St. 20: James Madison advances to 5-0 in its first season playing Division 1-A competition. I will say it again here; this is a good football team.
UConn 33 Florida International 12: FIU now has a 2-3 record for the season. The two wins have come against a Division 1-AA opponent and against New Mexico St. In the three losses, the combined score is 135-24. This week, Florida International is a 34-point home underdog against Texas-San Antonio.
Notre Dame 28 BYU 20: That makes three wins in a row for the Irish with some very winnable games coming up on the schedule against Stanford and UNLV before taking on Syracuse and Clemson. BYU’s record is now 4-2 with Arkansas on tap this weekend.
Wake Forest 45 Army 10: This game was never close; the score was 38-0 at the start of the 4th quarter. The stat sheet was much closer than the score.
- Total Offense: Wake Forest = 488 yards Army = 407 yards.
Colorado St. 17 Nevada 14: That is the first win of the year for Colorado St. and Nevada’s record falls to 2-4.
Let me take a moment now to update you on the three teams in contention this week for the Brothel Defense Award:
- Bowling Green gives up 41.0 points per game
- Colorado gives up 43.2 points per game
- UNC-Charlotte gives up 46.3 points per game
College Football Games of Interest:
Alabama – 7 at Tennessee (65): Is Bryce Young going to play? If he can play, will he be at or near 100%? If he cannot play, this is a tempting UNDER wager, but we are not likely to know about Young until just before kickoff. So, I’ll pass on a selection here but will note that Alabama has beaten Tennessee in each of their last 15 meetings. If Tennessee has the opportunity, they will not take their foot off the gas. If Bryce Young is ready to go in this game at or near full strength, this is the College Game of the Week.
Miami – 7 at Va Tech (46): Miami has lost three in a row and are still a full touchdown road favorite here. That tells you a lot about how the oddsmakers regard the Hokies.
Penn St. at Michigan – 7 (51): Both teams are 5-0; neither team has faced a top-shelf opponent to date. Both defenses have been strong to date; Michigan gives up 11.3 points per game and Penn St. gives up 14.8 points per game. Both offenses use the running game very effectively and both teams present strong rush defenses:
- Penn St. gives up 79.8 yards per game on the ground (5th in the country)
- Michigan gives up 81.7 yards per game on the ground (7th in the country)
If Alabama/Tennessee is not the College Game of the Week, then this one is.
Mississippi St. – 4 at Kentucky (49): This game seems to be a showdown between a good Kentucky defense and a good Mississippi St. offense. It should be fun to watch if it is on in your part of the country.
UNC – 7 at Duke (67): The Tar Heels need this game to maintain their supremacy in the ACC Coastal Division; Duke is coning off an OT loss to Georgia Tech. Add those elements of relevance to the rivalry nature of this game and it is one to keep an eye on.
LSU at Florida – 3 (50): LSU gave up 2 scores last week on bad special teams plays. Presumably, lightening will not strike again on that front. LSU’s defense is a good one (gives up an average of 328 yards per game) and Florida’s offense is just OK. I like the Tigers plus the points on the road here; put it in the Six-Pack.
NC St. – 4 at Syracuse (41): This is a very important game for the ACC. State has one conference loss – – to Clemson so they trail the Tigers by a game-and-a-half – – and Syracuse is undefeated.
Clemson – 3 at Florida St. (51): This spread opened at 5.5 points and has been sliding slowly as the week went on. If you like the Seminoles, you can still find the line at 3.5 points and that half-point might be important. I don’t think so; I think Clemson is for real again this season and I think Florida St. may be a year or so away from being for real. I’ll take the Tigers and lay the points on the road here; put it in the Six-Pack.
Minnesota – 6.5 at Illinois (39): Both teams have one conference loss in the Big-10 West race; this game means a lot to both teams. The spread opened with Minnesota as a 3.5-point favorite, but that number has been swelling all week long.
Arkansas – 1 at BYU (66): The spread on Monday had BYU as a 2-point favorite but that has changed significantly as the public weighed in on the line. If you like Arkansas, shop the line because there are sportsbooks where the game is listed as “pick’em”.
New Mexico – 6.5 at New Mexico St. (38): See my question above about which state has the worst tandem of “flagship football teams” …
Cal – 15 at Colorado (48): Cal is 3-2 this season but those three victories have not been against fearsome opponents. And yet, they are 15-point road favorites here…
USC at Utah – 3.5 (64.5): The Total Line here opened at 59 points. What you see here is a major line movement indeed. This game has all sorts of implications for the PAC-12 standings.
Arizona at Washington – 14.5 (73): I expect both teams to march the ball up and down the field and for there to be a basketful of points. And I do not think either team is very good.
Auburn at Ole Miss – 15 (55): This is another road game for Auburn and that is a good thing because they do not want to be blown away at home in front of boosters who seem to think that Auburn should be contending for the CFP every season – – and they could well be blown away here.
Kansas at Oklahoma – 9 (62): I am so tempted to take Kansas here, but I am spooked by reports that the Jayhawks’ starting QB will not play. Whether or not he plays, do not expect much out of the Sooners’ defense; it has been miserable this year:
- OU ranks 117th in the country in Total Defense giving up 450.0 yards per game
- OU ranks 88th in the country in Scoring Defense giving up 29.2 pint per game
- OU ranks 122nd in the country in Rushing Defense giving up 214.5 yards per game
Looking at those defensive stats, this is not OU, this is Oy !!
Oklahoma St. at TCU – 4 (68.5): Both teams are undefeated in Big-12 Conference games; the winner will share the conference lead with K-State at 3-0 in the conference standings come Sunday morning.
Wisconsin – 7 at Michigan St. (49): Can the Badgers continue to play well for their new interim coach as they did last week? Is Michigan St. really as bad as it has looked to date in 2022?
Stanford at Notre Dame – 17 (54): Stanford has had a couple of “down years” in a row and this one looks like a continuation of that string.
James Madison – 11 at Georgia Southern (67): The Total Line opened at 62.5 points and then jumped to this level pretty quickly. I have said here for several weeks that James Madison is a good football team; as of today, they rank #1 in the nation in rushing defense yielding a mere 42.0 yards per game and they rank #3 in the nation in Total Defense giving up only 228.4 yards per game.
After last week’s games, Lions’ coach Dan Campbell said that the Lions’ defense “lacked confidence”. After 5 games – – and a 1-4 record – – the Lions’ defense can look at the standings and see that they are giving up 34 points per game. The defense may or may not “lack confidence” but the place-kick defense unit should be confident that they will be on the field more than a couple times every Sunday. From what I have seen, the Lions’ defense plays hard but it only has 2 or 3 “high-talent-level” players. I will give it to Dan Campbell on this point:
- The Lions may be outmanned in terms of talent, and they have not come out on top very often during Campbell’s tenure on the Lions’ sideline, but that team does not quit; it plays hard for 60 minutes.
The Carolina Panthers and Matt Ruhle parted company last Monday. I will probably have more to say about that move next week when I have more time/space but suffice it to say here that Ruhle’s 11-27 record in a little over 3 seasons in Carolina made such a move easy for owner David Tepper. The question in my mind now is simple:
- Do the Panthers trade away whatever valuable assets they have to amass draft capital and “start over” – – or do they try to build on what they have there?
I do not make a habit of it, but occasionally, I do like to ponder the NFL standings particularly the point differential stats. This week, there was one stat that jumped out and bit me on the nose:
- The Raiders are 1-4 for the season; their point differential is only minus-5
Compare that point differential to the other 1-4 teams in the NFL as of the end of last week’s games:
- Commanders = minus-28
- Lions = minus-30
- Steelers = minus-51
- Panthers = minus-29
Some other point differential observations this week:
- The Bills have – by far – the biggest positive point differential at 91 points. Trailing that number significantly are the Niners and Eagles with a +47-point differential.
- The reigning Super Bowl champs – the Rams – have a point differential of minus-36 to go with their 2-3 record so far in 2022.
- Only one team in the AFC South – the Jags – have a positive point differential for the season. The Jags are +31 points, but their 2-3 record has them in third place in the division race.
I want to say something about the last two Thursday Night Football Games – – Colts/Broncos a week ago and Commanders/Bears last night. Those games were football-porn; there was nothing artistic or socially redeeming about either one. The good folks at Amazon are paying about $1B to stream these games over Amazon Prime Video; they should put in a call to Roger Goodell and ask for at least a one-game refund.
Al Michaels channeled his inner Howard Cosell and “told it like it is” a week ago in the Colts/Broncos game. In the second half of a game that would go to OT and not see a TD scored, he said candidly at one point:
- This is the kind of game you might see as a fifth regional game on CBS on Sunday. (paraphrase)
Last night Michaels and his sidekick, Kirk Herbstreit, started joking about needing to see a TD this week. When the teams went to the locker rooms at halftime with the score 3-0, the joking stopped because the play on the field threatened to go on forever without any damage done to either end zone’s grass. When the Bears finally found the end zone to take a 7-3 lead in the second half, Michaels said he almost forgot how to call one.
I said to my long-suffering wife before the game that it would be a “sh*t-storm game” where the team that made the last mistake would lose. Actually, both teams tried to lose it with blown plays in the final five minutes, but the Bears played the way you would expect the Lions to play in a game like this.
- Twice in the first three quarters, the Bears had the ball 1st and goal at about the Commanders’ 5 yardline. The Bears got zero points from those two possessions.
- In the final minute of the game, the Bears had the ball first down at the Commanders’ 5-yardline yet again. Washington had them just where they wanted them. You guessed it; the Bears came up dry on four shots from the 5-yardline trailing by 5 points.
- This was – by far – the worst NFL game I have seen this season …
Here is a rundown of NFL games from last week…
Giants 27 Packers 22: The Packers led 20-13 at the start of the 4th quarter but the Giants took the lead when Saquon Barkley scored a go-ahead TD. The Packers had a shot to win with the ball at the Giants’ 6-yardline but Aaron Rodgers 4th down pass was batted down at the line of scrimmage to preserve the Giants’ victory. The Giants’ defense held Rodgers to only 75 yards passing in the second half of the game. The win advances the Giants record to 4-1 for the season.
Bucs 21 Falcons 15: #1 son was watching this game in Dublin and texted me the following note early in the 4th quarter:
“The Falcons are talent deficient but want it more than most teams.”
I agree – – and that is a very positive commentary on the Falcons’ coaching staff. Meanwhile, Tom Brady said in an interview about 10 days ago that he saw a lot of bad football being played in the NFL. I agree with that too – – and I would point out that some of that “bad play” comes from Brady’s Buccaneers.
Vikes 29 Bears 22: This game was not nearly this close on the stat sheet; the Vikes gained 429 yards on offense while the Bears only managed 271 yards. The Vikes also won time of possession handily with 36:44 in the game, and the Vikes recorded 29 first downs to only 14 for the Bears. But the Bears would not give up; after trailing 21-3 in the game, the Bears rallied to take the lead at 22-21 before a final winning drive by the Vikes followed by a Vikes’ defender stripping the ball from a Bears receiver in the final minute ended the festivities.
Pats 29 Lions 0: This game looks relatively even on the stat sheet and nothing at all like a game decided by 4 TDs. A scoop-and-score by the Pats defense and a strong running game allowed rookie QB, Bailey Zappe, to win his first NFL starting assignment. Here are the results of the first four possessions by the Lions in the game:
- Turnover on Downs
- Scoop-and score fumble recovery for a Pats’ TD.
The Lions tried to convert 6 fourth-down situations and failed on all 6. Ouch!
Texans 13 Jags 6: The Jags won the stat sheet handily gaining 422 yards on offense to only 248 for the Texans. Two turnovers by the Jags stopped potential scoring drives and the Texans’ defense foiled 3 fourth-down tries by the Jags in the game. This is the Texans first win of the season meaning there are no more winless teams in the NFL. The Texans have beaten the Jags in their last 5 meetings.
Chargers 30 Browns 28: The Browns led this one early 14-0 but could not keep the Chargers’ offense in check. The Browns had a chance to win the game on a field goal with about 10 seconds to go in the game – – but it was not meant to be. Nick Chubb had a huge game in defeat for the Browns; he ran the ball 17 times for 134 yards and 2 TDs in the game.
Jets 40 Dolphins 17: Teddy Bridgewater started the game but like the guy he was subbing for, Tua Tagovailoa, Bridgewater also suffered a head blow that sent him to the concussion protocol. That put Skylar Thompson at QB for the Dolphins and that did not work. He threw 1 INT and also lost a strip-sack fumble.
Bills 38 Steelers 3: This game was about as lopsided as the score would indicate. Josh Allen had more than 300 yards passing in the first half of the game and the Bills made it look easy. Kenny Pickett got his first start in the NFL and played decently – – but he was playing from behind for the entirety of the game on the road against a really good team. Pickett was not responsible for this blow out; this one belongs on the Steelers’ defense.
Saints 39 Seahawks 32: Two weeks ago, the Seahawks gave up 45 points; last week they gave up 39. That is not a formula for success in the NFL. Taysom Hill was amazing in this game rushing for 112 yards and 3 TDs and also throwing a TD pass in the game. Alvin Kamara also returned to action for the Saints in the game and contributed almost 200 yards from scrimmage to the Saints’ cause.
Titans 21 Commanders 17: The Commanders produced 385 yards on offense and held the Titans to only 241 yards of offense. Normally, that sort of differential would point to a win for the Commanders. With less than 10 seconds left in the game, the Titans intercepted a Carson Wentz pass in the end zone to preserve their lead and assure the win. The Commanders also came up very small on third-down conversions going 1 for 11 in that category. The Commanders have had trouble protecting Wentz this year but this week it was the Commanders who showed up with a pass rush sacking Ryan Tannehill 5 times in the game.
Niners 37 Panthers 15: The Niners offense was efficient if not spectacular and the defense contributed a Pick-Six to the scoreboard to give the team a solid victory that puts the Niners alone in first place in the NFC West. Jeff Wilson gained 120 yards rushing in the game. The game was played in Carolina but crowd shots during the game showed an awful lot of “red Niners’ paraphernalia” in the stands.
Eagles 20 Cards 17: Speaking of visiting teams having lots of fan support, there was a lot of Eagle-Green in the stands in Arizona for this game. I said last week that the Eagles do not play well in Arizona, and they did not play well in this game. The Cards had a good chance to send the game to OT but a missed 42-yard field goal with less than 30 seconds left in the game allowing the Eagles to hold on and advance their record to 5-0 for the season. Teams often talk about “getting a fast start”; the Cards have done just the opposite this year:
- In 5 games in 2022, the Cards have not scored a single point in the first quarter of any game.
Recall the brouhaha about the clause originally inserted into Kyler Murray’s new contract requiring him to do a few hours a week of study at home? Well consider Murray’s “awareness” or “recognition” in a crucial time of this game:
- The Cards were down a field goal and Murray orchestrated a 50-yard, 10-play drive that got the offense across the 50-yardline. The Cards had no timeouts, and the clock was running at just under a minute in the fourth quarter; on second-and-10, Murray evaded the pass rush and ran up the middle, but he slid about 2 yards short of the first down marker. That meant the Cards had to spike the ball to stop the clock on third down and short. ON 4th down and 2 with only about 25 seconds left in the game, the Cards trotted out their kicker – – someone they picked up off the waiver wire earlier in the week. The field goal try was VERY wide right and the Eagles won the game.
Murray flunked clock management and situational awareness here – – and it came back to bite him and the Cards in a sensitive body area…
Cowboys 22 Rams 10: The Rams had 85 more yards of offense in this game but did not turn many of those yards into points. A strip-sack returned for a TD by the Cowboys in the first quarter made the Rams play catch-up. Then the Cowboys’ defense pitched a shutout in the second half. Three turnovers by the Rams made their task far more difficult than it needed to be. The Rams have not looked good at all this year. Maybe you can make excuses for them by observing that they have gone up against three of the best defenses in the league (Bills, Cowboys and Niners). But the Rams’ offense just does not look as if it is firing on all cylinders; Cooper Kupp is great but other than him, the offense this year has been mediocre. And the Rams’ OL has not been anything like the unit it was just last season.
Ravens 19 Bengals 17: Justin Tucker kicked 4 field goals in this game – – one from 58 yards and another from 43 yards as time expired to provide the impetus for the Ravens’ victory.
Chiefs 30 Raiders 29: The Raiders ran out to a 17-0 lead and looked as if they were going to win in a walk, but the Chiefs mounted a comeback – particularly in the second half – and hung on to win. The game was exciting from start to finish but one’s viewing pleasure was diminished significantly by some seriously questionable officiating. After the roughing the passer call on Chris Jones in the third quarter, Raider fans are forever forbidden to moan about “The Tuck Rule’ ever again.
NFL Games This Week:
There are no “overseas games” this week, but this week begins the NFL Bye Weeks. Four teams have the week off to prepare for a return to action nest week:
- Lions: Maybe the coaching staff and help the Lions’ defense find its confidence this week? Maybe the coaches can point out that the defense will not give up 34 points this week unless it does so playing Madden 2022…
- Raiders: The four Raiders’ losses have been by margins of 5 points, 6 points, 2 points and 1 point. Maybe they need to focus on how to close-out games?
- Texans: They have been competitive even though their record stands at 1-3-1. Their defense has been solid giving up only 19.8 points per game; now if they can find a way to goose the offense a bit…
- Titans: They lead the AFC South Division with a 3-2 record – – but with a minus-22 point differential.
Bucs – 8.5 at Steelers (45): Based on last week’s debacle against the Bills, it is hard to pick the Steelers here. Their defense looked average at best; and even if I believe that Kenny Pickett is the next coming of Tom Brady, he ain’t Tom Brady yet. Compound all that with the fact that the Steelers offense is about as imaginative as the old See Dick and Jane reading books we used in grade school. But the Bucs are no joy either; they score 20 points per game and could not put the Falcons away last week. We are at our weekend house in central PA, so I will certainly get this game as the regional choice in the early slot on Sunday. Hi ho!
Bengals – 1 at Saints (45): Saints defense gives up over 25 points per game; Bengals defense gives up about 18 points per game. I suspect that is the difference here. I’ll take the Bengals on the road to win and cover; put it in the Six-Pack.
Jags at Colts – 2 (41): This is an early season rematch; the Jags dominated the first time these teams played and won 24-0. Then last week, the Jags produced 422 yards on offense and scored a grand total of 6 points. The Colts have severely underperformed so far this year. No way I want to make a selection here…
Pats at Browns – 2.5 (43.5): The Browns have played well on offense so far this year with Jacoby Brisset at QB; The Browns defense, however, has been another story. Both teams like to run the ball; the Browns average 190 yards per game and 5.3 yards per carry; the Pats ran for 176 yards last week on the Lions and average 4.6 yards per attempt for the season. I am tempted to take the UNDER here but will resist that temptation.
Jets at Packers – 7 (45): The Packers’ record is 3-2; they have scored 97 points and given up 96 points; the Packers’ record is plain vanilla and that is how they have looked on the field so far this year. If the Packers are going to put on a surge, this would be the time to do it. The Jets are also 3-2 on the season; they have scored 116 points and given up 118 points; the Jets’ record is plain vanilla and that is a lot better than folks has predicted about this team back in August. The Packers are at home coming off a loss – – but remember that loss was in London so there is jet lag to consider. I’ll pass on this game, thank you.
Ravens – 5.5 at Giants (45.5): There all sorts of angles to this game. The Giants are playing well above expectations; the Ravens have disappointed losing two games in the final seconds. The Giants come home from London; the Ravens’ road trip last week was not much more than a hop-step-and-a-jump. The Giants’’ defensive coordinator, Wink Martindale, was the Ravens’ DC for the last 5 years; if anyone “knows” Lamar Jackson’s strengths and weaknesses, it would be Wink.
Vikes – 3 at Dolphins (45.5): Someone needs to explain this line to me. The Dolphins will start their third-string QB, Skyler Thompson, and might have Teddy Bridgewater available as a backup if Bridgewater clears the concussion protocol by game time. The Jets dominated that version of the Dolphins just last week so that spread looks awfully small. Is this a sucker bet? I guess I’ll find out because I’ll take the Vikes on the road to win and cover; put it in the Six-Pack.
Niners – 5.5 at Falcons (44): The Total Line here opened at 41 points, and I have no idea why it has moved so much – – but it has. I was surprised to read earlier this week that the Falcons are the only team to be 5-0 against the spread in 2022. I do like the way they play hard to the end of games, but this is not a team I can generate any enthusiasm toward. The Niners were in Charlotte last weekend and stayed on the East Coast for the week, so they do not have two transcontinental games in a row.
Panthers at Rams – 10 (41): I said above that the Rams do not look like the team that won the Super Bowl last year. Consider:
- Rams are last in the NFL in rushing yards per game at 61
- Rams average 3.2 yards per carry which is 31st in the league.
- Rams have given up 21 sacks so far. Only the Bears and Commanders – who have an extra game on the stat sheet thanks to last night’s hot mess of a game – have given up more.
And then you have the Panthers who have been playing as if they should be called the Pantloads. I hate double-digit spreads in NFL games, and I hate to make selections when neither team is reliable.
Cards – 3 at Seahawks (50.5): Last night’s Commanders Bears Game was unquestionably the worst game on the card for the weekend but of the games still left to play, let me anoint this one as the Dog-Breath Game To Be Played On The Weekend. I mentioned above how the Cards mismanaged the final two minutes of last week’s game; is that a Kyler Murray problem or is the team simply a disjointed mess? I do know that the Seahawks’ defense is very “pliable” so if there is a time and place for the Cards to “put it all together”, this would be that game. The Seahawks’ pass defense ranks 25th in the league giving up 260 yards per game on average. If pressed, I would take the Cards here – – but I do not make selections in Dog-Breath Games.
Bills – 2.5 at Chiefs (54): Clearly, this is the Game of the Week. In fact, it may be the Regular Season Game of the Year. These are two of the three most exciting QBs in the league right now – – Justin Herbert would be the third member of that troika – – and this is a replay of a playoff game last year that went down to the final seconds. Here is an arcane stat I ran across:
- Patrick Mahomes has been “the underdog” 8 times in his career.
- The Chiefs are 7-0-1 against the spread in those 8 games.
I think the Bills come to the game with plenty of momentum and a clear “revenge factor”. It will be a great game to watch. And then…
(Sun Nite) Cowboys at Eagles – 6.5 (43): After you finish watching the Bills/Chiefs game, you should have about an hour to decompress, get a bite to eat – and perhaps and adult beverage – to get ready for another game that ought to be fun to watch. The Eagles are unbeaten so far in 2022; the Cowboys’ defense has yet to allow an opponent to score 20 points in any game. I think this line is fat. I think the game will be low scoring and I like the Cowboys plus the points; put it in the Six-Pack.
(Mon Nite) Broncos at Chargers – 4.5 (45.5): The Broncos are on national TV again? I think the networks and the NFL schedulers got caught up in “Russell Wilson Mania” last Spring. Wilson was traded to the Broncos in March and the schedule came out in May; that left plenty of time for all the suits to figure out ways to put the Broncos front and center on the TV menu for the year; after all, this was supposed to be the Broncos’ ticket to the Super Bowl. Channeling Lee Corso for a moment:
Not so fast, my friend!
The Broncos rank 31st in the NFL in points scored; they average all of 15 points per game. Russell Wilson was supposed to “cure that problem”. I like the Chargers at home to win and cover; put that in the Six-Pack.
Let me review the Six-Pack and then present 3 Money Line Parlays for your entertainment:
- LSU + 3 against Florida
- Clemson – 3 over Florida St.
- Bengals – 1 over Saints
- Vikes – 3 over Dolphins
- Cowboys + 6.5 against Eagles
- Chargers – 4.5 over Broncos.
For Money Line Parlays this week:
- Clemson @ – 180
- James Madison @ – 460
- Notre Dame @ – 650 $100 wager wins $119
- Niners @ – 220
- Chargers @ – 220
- Vikes @ – 165 $100 wager wins $240
- Jets @ +270
- Bucs @ – 420 $100 wager wins $358
Finally, here is an item from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times related to Notre Dame football – – sort of:
“Archaeologists working under the floor on Paris’ Notre Dame cathedral discovered several tombs that likely date to the 14th century.
“No word on whether they woke up any echoes.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………