Friday’s 6-pack, Quote, Quiz of the Day

Write-ups on major league games are on the MLB page
College football write-ups are on college football page.
Week 3 NFL write-ups are posted

Friday’s 6-pack
Six interesting spreads for this week’s college games:
— Florida (-13.5, 57) @ Ole Miss
— Iowa State (-2.5, 44.5) @ TCU
— Mississippi State @ LSU (-16.5, 57)
— Tulane (-3.5, 54.5) @ Southern Mississippi
— Army @ Cincinnati (-13.5, 45.5)
— NC State @ Virginia Tech (-6.5, 56.5)

Americans who have died from COVID-19: 201,959
Please wear a mask when you go out.

Quote of the Day
“I tear up (saying this) but I’ll never be able to put into words how much he has helped me grow as a baseball player and as a man. But I am so fortunate to have been able to call him a friend these last five years.”
Whit Merrifield, talking about Royals’ teammate Alex Gordon, who is retiring from baseball

Friday’s quiz
Lakers’ coach Frank Vogel has coached two other NBA teams; which ones?

Thursday’s quiz
Joe Maddon was the Tampa Bay Rays’ manager in their only World Series appearance.  

Wednesday’s quiz
Denver Nuggets star Jamal Murray played his college basketball at Kentucky. 

Friday’s Den: Random stuff with the weekend here…….

13) Teams that have already clinched playoff spots will be tweaking their lineups and pitching setups this weekend; A’s used Jesus Luzardo for three innings in relief Thursday, as they ready to maybe piggy-back him and Mike Fiers in Game 1 of the playoffs on Tuesday.

San Diego might not have Mike Clevinger (biceps) now, so Dinelson Lamet could get their Game 1 nod on Wednesday, which may shorten his stint on the mound in San Francisco tonight.

12) Cardinals 4, Brewers 2— Yadier Molina got his 2,000th hit, which is a lot, especially for a catcher; 32-year old Kwang-Hyun Kim is 3-0, 1.62 in his first season of American baseball.

11) Astros 12, Rangers 4— Texas is 13-10 in its new domed stadium when the roof is closed; they’re 0-4 when the roof is open, as it was in this game. Jose Altuve had three hits, three RBI in his best game of what has been a poor season.

10) Dolphins 31, Jaguars 13:
— Miami’s first three drives: 29 plays, 239 yards, 21 points.
— Fitzpatrick was 18-20 passing for 160 yards, two TD’s.
— Dolphins won four of last five visits to Jacksonville.

— Dolphins had a 12-yard advantage in starting field position.
— Miami converted 7-13 on 3rd down, Jaguars 3-10.
— Last 4+ years, Jaguars are 6-10 ATS as a home favorite.

9) Indians 5, White Sox 4— Cleveland sweeps a 4-game series, has won seven of last eight games- they trail Pale Hose by a game, Twins by two games in AL Central. All three teams are going to make the playoffs.

8) Lakers 114, Nuggets 108 (LA leads 3-1)
— Third straight series Denver has trailed 3-1.
— James/Davis combined to shoot 28 foul shots; Denver shot 23.
— Denver subs were a combined minus-29 in 82:00.

7) Pac-12 is going to play football starting November 6; they’ll have their conference title game December 18. If they’re smart, Pac-12 will play some weeknight games; won’t be much else going on sports-wise during the week in November.

6) UAB 42, South Alabama 10— Blazers racked up 509 yards, converted 10-16 third down plays and led 28-10 at halftime- UAB averaged 11.4 yards per pass attempt.

5) Was bummed out when I found out this week that the Starbucks closest to my house closed down; used to stop in there for a hot chocolate and a slice of lemon pound cake- they have great lemon pound cake. 

I’ve never had coffee, but hot chocolate on a chilly day is a good thing.

4) Congrats to the Toronto (Buffalo) Blue Jays, who clinched a playoff spot Thursday, despite playing their home games this season in their adopted hometown of Buffalo, where you can smelll Cheerios being made in the factory beyond the centerfield fence.

3) You know a guy is a sketchy prospect when he throws a no-hitter, and still doesn’t get picked up in our 14-team fantasy league, where each team has 28 players on his roster.

Cubs’ Alec Mills allowed eight runs in 9.2 IP in his two starts since throwing a no-hitter in Milwaukee September 13. For the season, he is 5-5, 4.48 in 11 starts.

2) Robinson Cano bunted for a hit against Washington’s shift in the 6th inning Thursday; it was his first bunt basehit since 2013.

1) If the baseball playoffs started today (they don’t):
AL East: Tampa Bay, New York
AL Central: Minnesota, Chicago
AL West: Oakland, Houston
AL wild cards: Cleveland, Toronto

NL East: Atlanta, Miami
NL Central: Chicago, St Louis
NL West: Los Angeles, San Diego
NL wild cards: Cincinnati, San Francisco

Thursday’s Den: Doing some thinking out loud…….

13) We talked yesterday about the LA Chargers’ QB situation; Wednesday afternoon, word came out that on Sunday, Tyrod Taylor was getting a pain-killing shot for bruised ribs before the game, when the Chargers’ team doctor accidentally punctured Taylor’s lung with the needle. 

Oy. 

Rookie QB Justin Herbert is likely to start again this week; it’ll be interesting to see how this plays out, going forward. I’m thinking the Chargers might also have a new team doctor soon.

12) Thinking out loud here, but is it better to be the #3 seed in the American League than the #2 seed? 

#3 seed would play the 2nd-place team with the worst record, which right now would be the Astros, who are 28-28.

#2 seed would play the #1 Wild Card team, which right now would be Cleveland, which is 32-24.

The #1 Wild Card team figures to be a team that ended the regular season on a roll; this is such a unique situation, no real way of knowing until it all plays out.

11) There could be extra games before the playoffs begin; St Louis may have to play a doubleheader on Monday if they’re still in contention to make the playoffs, then there is the possibility that three teams tie for the two Wild Cards in the National League- that could be very cumbersome.

10) Tuesday night in Washington, the Nationals beat Philly 9-8 when 32-year old rookie Yadiel Hernandez hit a walk-off homer for Washington. Hernandez is now the oldest player in MLB history whose first career home run was also a walk-off blast. 

9) Tampa Bay 8, New York Mets 5— Rays win their first AL East tile since 2010.

8) RIP to the great running back Gale Sayers, 77, who passed away this week after suffering from dementia the last few years. RIP, sir. 

Sayers was a great running back, fast, elusive- he scored six TD’s in a game against the 49ers, but he also hurt his knee in a later game against San Francisco and played only seven years in the NFL.  Sayers was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame when he was 34.

7) Back in the early 70’s, ABC had a Tuesday night movie of the week, where the movies were made just for showing on TV, not in theaters. Brian’s Song was one of those, but what a cast: Billy Dee Williams, James Caan, Jack Warden. 

The movie chronicled a great friendship between Sayers and teammate Brian Piccolo; Piccolo replaced Sayers when he got hurt, but Piccolo was discovered to have cancer, and he passed away way too young. Very sad movie, but Brian’s Song is one of the best-ever sports movies.

6) Miami 112, Boston 109 (Heat leads 3-1):
— Tyler Herro scored 37 points in 36:00 off the bench.
— Miami was +11 (19-8) in turnovers.
— Celtics took 40 3-point shots, 42 2-point shots.

5) It is interesting to me the total lack of major league catchers who are good hitters; JT Realmuto is far and away the best of the bunch, everyone else is hit-and-miss. Modern baseball values defense more than offense behind the plate.

4) Tuesday night was a rough night for an Australian gambler; this is from Ben Fawkes, who works for VSIN:

– This person wagered $228,733 on Lakers money line (-263) pre-game

– The person then cashed out for $97,624 in the 2nd quarter with Denver leading 44-32

– The person placed all that money on Denver -9.5

Denver won 114-106 after Alex Caruso made an unguarded layup w/ 1.6 sec left. Not good.

3) Random stat: Yu Darvish is having a great season for the Cubs; nine of his 11 starts have been at home at Wrigley Field, but in his two road starts, he’s allowed only one run in 13 innings.

2) Here is some obscure trivia: In many East Asian cultures, including China, Korea, Japan and Taiwan, the number 4 is considered unlucky.

You probably wouldn’t see a button indicating the 4th floor on an elevator because most apartment buildings and hospitals skip the number four altogether. In Beijing, it’s not even possible to get a vehicle license plate that has the number 4 on it. The Chinese word for the number 4 sounds much like the Chinese word for death., and that is why it is considered unlucky.

1) If the baseball playoffs started today (they don’t):
AL East: Tampa Bay, New York
AL Central: Minnesota, Chicago
AL West: Oakland, Houston
AL wild cards: Cleveland, Toronto

NL East: Atlanta, Miami
NL Central: Chicago, St Louis
NL West: Los Angeles, San Diego
NL wild cards: Cincinnati, San Francisco

Wednesday’s Den: Mid-week musings………

13) LA Chargers and head coach Anthony Lynn may have to have a conversation soon; he seems committed to Tyrod Taylor being the Chargers #1 QB, but fact of the matter is, rookie Justin Herbert was the 6th player taken in last spring’s draft- they’ve got a lot of $$$ tied up in him, and he looked good against the Chiefs Sunday, so he will be the starter, and probably soon.

Recent QB’s taken in the top 10 of the draft and when they first started:
2020:
— Joe Burrow— started Weeks 1-2
— Justin Herbert— started Week 2, but because of injury
— Tua Tagovailoa— hasn’t played yet

2019:
— Kyler Murray— started all 16 games
— Daniel Jones— started 12 games

2018:
— Baker Mayfield— started 13 games
— Sam Darnold— started 13 games
— Josh Allen— started 11 games
— Josh Rosen— started 13 games

2017:
— Mitch Trubisky— started 12 games
— Patrick Mahomes— started one game

Odds are the Chargers aren’t going to let Herbert sit on the bench all year.

12) Unusual situation this weekend, with the 49ers playing back/back games in New Jersey, especially when they had a lot of injuries against the Jets last week and complained about the “sticky” turf at MetLife Stadium.

QB Jimmy Garoppolo didn’t play in the 2nd half after spraining his ankle; he’s expected to play this week.

49ers are staying/practicing at the Greenbrier resort in West Virginia this week; its pretty nice there-  golfer Nick Faldo owns a home there.

11) Speaking of turf, the Las Vegas Raiders play home games on natural grass, which is wheeled outside brand-new Allegiant Stadium when the Raiders aren’t playing there. 

When UNLV plays its home games in, they’ll play on an artificial turf field that is on the floor of the new stadium. Playing on artificial turf is cheaper than maintaining a pristine grass field.

10) Jacob deGrom has been the ace of my fantasy baseball team for a few years now; I was watching him pitch Monday night and I wondered if pitchers got queasy when they saw certain umpires calling balls and strikes when they pitched. 

So I looked up deGrpm’s record and came up with umpires who he excelled with, and also some where things didn’t go so well;

Umpires he likes to see:
— Ron Kulpa 2-0, 0;66 four starts
— Paul Mauert 3-0, 0.75 four starts
— Mark Ripperger 2-0, 1.64 three starts
— Lance Barrett 2-0, 0.48 three starts
— Jeff Nelson 3-0, 1.90 four starts

Umpires he’d rather not see:
— Tom Hallion 1-2, 6.87 four starts
— Mike Muchlinski 1-2, 7.98 three starts
— John Tumpane 0-3, 3.68 five starts

9) Two additional things about pitchers/umpires:
a) Next year, when things go back to 162 games, we’ll do more on our daily write-ups about umpires, getting back to the way we’ve always done things.

b) In October/November, when things get slow again before the college hoop/NBA re-starts, I’ll do a deeper dive into pitchers and umpires. Lot of good information in that database.

8) Since the Tampa Bay Rays started using an opener, a relief pitcher throwing the first inning or so, they’ve gone 64-41 in games where they used one. They do things differently, but it sure does work.

7) Nuggets 114, Lakers 106 (LA leads 2-1):
— Nuggets shot 55% from the floor for the game.
— Denver’s four subs were a combined +16.
— Lakers’ three starters other than Davis/James scored a combined 20 points.
— To oversimplify, Denver looked like the much hungrier team in this game.

6) Unusual situation in Anaheim, where SS Andrelton Simmons opted out of the rest of the season with six days to go, with the Angels still alive (though barely) for a playoff spot. The team was taken completely by surprise.

Simmons is a free agent after the season; this would lead you to believe that he has zero desire to re-sign with the Halos.

5) Chicago Bulls hired Billy Donovan as their new coach, which has to make give a lot of college coaches reasons to exhale— he would’ve been a highly sought after college coach.

I’m curious if Donovan would’ve been a strong candidate for the Knicks/Nets if he became available before those jobs were filled— Donovan grew up on Long Island.

4) Denver Broncos signed QB Blake Bortles to back up Jeff Driskel while Drew Lock nurses his injuries. Lock is expected to miss 3-4 weeks.

3) Cubs’ SS Javy Baez and Twins’ P Jose Berrios are married to sisters; they faced each other in the last two All-Star games, but until last Sunday night, they had never faced each other in a regular season game. Baez went 0-4 Sunday night, in a game Berrios won 4-0.

2) It is very early in this truncated college football season, but so far, home favorites in conference games are 1-5 ATS. Home underdogs are 2-2.

1) If the baseball playoffs started today (they don’t):
AL East: Tampa Bay, New York
AL Central: Chicago, Minnesota
AL West: Oakland, Houston
AL wild cards: Cleveland, Toronto

NL East: Atlanta, Miami
NL Central: Chicago, St Louis
NL West: Los Angeles, San Diego
NL wild cards: Cin/Mil/SF

Tuesday’s Den: Nobody asked me, but…….

13) Las Vegas 34, Saints 24
— Penalties: Saints 10-129 yards, Raiders 3-13 yards
— Saints averaged 7.4 yards/play, converted 7-11 on 3rd down.
— New Orleans lost eight of its last ten road openers.

— Raiders converted 16-28 on 3rd down, scored 68 points in winning their first two games.
— Las Vegas ran 76 plays, the Saints only 57, but were outgained by 49 yards.
— AFC West teams are 5-0-1 ATS outside their division.

12) Raiders have spent $52.6M of their salary cap on their offensive line, the most of any team in the league.

When the Raiders’ move to Las Vegas was approved by the league, the vote was 31-1; for some unknown reason, Miami Dolphins were the team that voted against the move.

11) Being a head coach involves having both onions and a feel for your team.

3rd quarter Sunday, Rams lead 21-16 at Philly, 6:51 left in 3rd quarter. LA has 4th and a foot on their own 29, after intercepting a Wentz pass in the end zone on the Eagles’ previous drive. Most coaches, maybe 90%, maybe higher, punt the ball there. 

McVay has the Rams go for it, Goff sneaks for the first down, and Rams go down and kick a FG on a drive that went 68 yards on 16 plays and gave his defense a nice rest.

10) NFL injury issues:
— Giants’ RB Saquon Barkley is out for the year.
— Panthers’ RB Christian McCaffrey is out 4-6 weeks.
— Broncos’ QB Drew Lock is out for 3-5 weeks.

9) With Lock out for a while, Jeff Driskel figures to be backed up by Brett Rypien, who played college ball at Boise State but has to make his NFL debut.

8) So far this season, NFC West reams are 6-0 ATS outside their division; AFC West teams are 5-0-1 ATS. NFC East teams are 1-5.

7) Deion Sanders is going to be the football coach at Jackson State, where his son will undoubtedly follow him to play quarterback. 

Shedeur Sanders has verbally committed to play at Florida Atlantic, but that’s about to change; the kid is an accurate passer, a 4-star recruit. He played on ESPN a few weeks ago, and looked pretty good. Deion Sanders is the offensive coordinator for his son’s high school team.

6) They were talking on a ballgame the other night how hitters are no longer allowed to watch videos in between their at bats, and it has screwed up some hitters, who are used to doing that and need it to adjust their approach. Thank the Astros and their garbage can for that.

5) ESPN had Ian Happ miked while he played the outfield Sunday night; this bothers me, it is an intrusion on the game. Alex Rodriguez actually was busting Happ’s chops because he roots for the Cleveland Browns. Who in the commissioner’s office thinks BS like that is a good idea?

4) I’m thinking that if the expanded baseball playoffs that start next week are popular with fans, they’ll become a permanent part of the major leagues, in combination with a slightly shorter regular season (154 games?)

One thing I DO NOT want to see ever are automated umpires for balls/strikes; no thank you.

3) 203 ballplayers have made their major league debut this season, 18 of them play for the Miami Marlins. Someone’s going to write an interesting book about this unusual season.

2) Of the 30 current major league managers, Colorado’s Bud Black is the only one who was a pitcher in the major leagues. 10 of the 30 skippers were catchers in their playing days.

1) If the baseball playoffs started today (they don’t):
AL East: Tampa Bay, New York
AL Central: Chicago, Minnesota
AL West: Oakland, Houston
AL wild cards: Cleveland, Toronto

NL East: Atlanta, Miami
NL Central: Chicago, St Louis
NL West: Los Angeles, San Diego
NL wild cards: Philadelphia, Cincinnati

Monday’s Den: Wrapping up an NFL Sunday

Dallas 40, Falcons 39
— Atlanta didn’t cover an onside kick with 1:49 left; watch the highlights, someone has to lose their job over this. Inexcusable loss.
— Falcons led 20-0; game was 29-10 at halftime.
— Atlanta ran 72 plays, Dallas 81; lot of plays for an NFL game.
— Very seldom a team is +3 in turnovers, wins field position by 17 yards, and loses.

— Prescott is first player ever with 450+ passing yards, 3 rushing TD’s in same game.
— Dallas turned ball over on three of first five possessions.
— Dallas hung 570 yards on Atlanta’s defense.
— Cowboys won eight of last ten home openers (3-1-1 ATS last five)

Rams 37, Philadelphia 19
— Game swung on great end zone INT by Darious Williams when LA led 21-16.
— Rams’ first three drives: 23 plays, 196 yards, 21 points.
— LA converted 16-29 on 3rd down in first two games.
— Last three years, Rams are 16-9 ATS on the road.
— Under McVay, LA is 4-0 in road openers, scoring 35.3 ppg.

— LA outgained Eagles 449-363; Rams ran ball for 191 yards.
— Last two years, Philly is 5-12 ATS at home.
— Eagles are 3-9 ATS in last 12 home openers.

Tampa Bay 31, Panthers 17
— Carolina’s 1st drive: INT, 2nd: fumble, 4th: lost on downs.
— Bridgewater threw for 365 yards, but they turned ball over four times (-2).
— Carolina gave up 65 points in losing its first two games.
— Last 2+ years, Panthers are 5-8 ATS as a road underdog.

— Bucs started two drives in Carolina territory, scored on first play both times.
— Fournette had 12 carries for 103 yards and two TD’s.
— Since 2014, Tampa Bay is now 5-15-2 ATS as a home favorite.

Pittsburgh 26, Broncos 21
— Denver QB Lock hurt his shoulder in first quarter, didn’t return.
— Former Florida Gator Driskel was 18-34/256 yards, two TD’s.
— Broncos converted only 8-27 third down plays in first two games.
— Broncos lost their last four road openers, by 10-13-5 points (1-3 ATS).

— Roethlisberger threw for 311 yards; Steelers won first home opener in three years.
— Conner ran for 106 yards and a TD.
— Last three years, Pittsburgh is 9-12 ATS as a home favorite.

49ers 31, NJ Jets 13
— First play of game, Mostert ran 80 yards for a TD.
— 49ers had lot of injuries; backup QB Mullens played 2nd half.
— 49ers are 10-5 ATS in last 15 road openers.

— Jets were outgained 763-531 LW in their first two games.
— Two trips to red zone, Jets kicked two FG’s.
— 49ers’ first four drives: 31 plays, 221 yards, 21 points.

Bills 31, Miami 28
— Allen was 24-35 for 417 yards, averaged 11.5 yards/attempt. Wow.
— Bills drove 97 yards for a TD on their first drive.
— Under McDermott, Buffalo is 3-2 ATS as a road favorite.
— Bills won six of last seven series games.

— Last 4+ years, Miami is 12-7-1 ATS as a home underdog.
— Dolphins covered via the back door with 0:49 left.
— Over is 15-3 in their last 18 home openers.

Indianapolis 28, Vikings 11
— On a day where Stefon Diggs caught 8 passes for 153 yards for Buffalo, Vikings gained total of 175 yards on 47 plays here.
— Cousins completed 11-26 passes, with three INT’s. In a dome.
— In their history, Vikings are 0-12 in road games against the Colts.
— Vikings are 3-9-1 ATS in last 13 games as a road underdog.
— Minnesota is 4-12-1 SU in last 17 road openers (5-10-2 ATS).

— Colts outgained first two opponents 799-416.
— Last three years, Indy is 10-6-1 ATS as a home favorite.
— In nine red zone drives this year, Colts have scored only 34 points.

Chicago 17, Giants 13
— Giants’ RB Barkley hurt his knee early; they fear a torn ACL.
— Giants had ball on 10-yard line as game ended, but couldn’t score.
— Giants started one drive on Chicago’s 25, but settled for a FG.
— Big Blue covered 15 of its last 21 games as a road underdog.

— Chicago scored 10 points on its first two drives, led 17-0 at halftime.
— Bears in 2nd half: 28 plays, 97 yards, no points, one huge sigh of relief.
— Under is 5-1-1 in Bears’ last seven home openers.

Green Bay 42, Lions 21
— Lions are 9-24-1 under Patricia; they were 36-28 under Caldwell, and they fired him.
— Detroit’s first two drives: 21 plays, 150 yards- they led 14-3.
— Detroit’s last nine drives: 38 plays, 154 yards, 7 points.
— Lions are 16-23 ATS in last 39 games as a road underdog.

— Packers gained 1,010 yards, scored nine TD’s on 18 drives in two games.
— Green Bay is 26-15-2 ATS in last 43 games as a home favorite.
— Packers won eight in row, 13 of last 14 home openers (11-3 ATS).

Tennessee 33, Jaguars 30
— Jax outgained Titans 480-354, had 30 first downs, converted 10-14 on 3rd down.
— Jaguars completed 49-65 passes, converted 15-24 on 3rd down in splitting their first two games.
— J’ville covered its last four road openers (3-0 ATS).
— Jaguars lost their last seven visits to Nashville.

— Gostkowski kicked a 49-yard FG with 1:36 left after Titans blew a 2-TD lead.
— Under Vrabel, Tennessee is 3-6-1 ATS as a home favorite.
— Titans won eight of last ten series games.
— Tannehill threw for 239 yards, four TD’s.

Arizona 30, Washington 15
— Washington fell behind 17-0 last week, 20-0 in this game. 
— Washington had trouble containing mobile QB Murray- he ran for 67 yards.
— Washington was down 27-3, then scored TD’s on TD’s on last two drives.

— Arizona ran ball for 340 yards, converted 14-31 on 3rd down in first two games.
— Cardinals scored two TD’s, kicked two FG’s on first six drives.
— Murray threw for 286 yards, ran for 67 more.

Chiefs 23, LA Chargers 20 OT
— Chiefs’ first six drives: 33 plays, 142 yards, 6 points.
— Chiefs’ last four drives: 40 plays, 232 yards, 17 points.
— Butker kicked two 58-yard FG’s, including game-winner in OT
— Reid’s SU record after a bye or Thursday game: 18-2.
— Chiefs won 12 of last 13 series games.

— QB Taylor was scratched just before kickoff; rookie Herbert made his NFL debut.
— Herbert was 22-33 for 311 yards, actually looked pretty good, averaging 8.5 yards/pass attempt.
— Chargers led 17-6 midway thru third quarter.

Ravens 33, Texans 16
— Baltimore scored 71 points in winning its first two games.
— Ravens had a pick-6, was +2 in turnovers again. 
— Baltimore ran ball for 230 yards.
— Ravens are 5-0-1 ATS in last six games as a road favorite.
— Baltimore is 9-4 ATS in last 13 road openers.

— Texans started 16 of 18 drives at their 25 or worse field position in first two games.
— How does passing game stack up after trading star WR Hopkins?
— Since 2013, Houston is 5-11 ATS as a home underdog.
— Houston covered twice in its last eight home openers.

Seahawks 35, Patriots 30
— NE ran ball for 217 yards LW, but only 67 yards here.
— Newton threw ball for 397 yards, but got stopped on 2-yard line running ball on last play of the game.
— Patriots scored on a pick-6 on first series of the game.
— Five red zone drives, 23 points.

— Seahawks won their last 12 home openers (9-3 ATS).
— Seattle completed 52-63 passes, scored 10 TD’s on 20 drives in first two games.
— Seahawks held Newton to 47 rushing yards; Patriot RB’s combined for 20 YR.
— Seattle had a 13-yard edge in stating field position. 

 

Sunday’s Den: Wrapping up a sports Saturday

13) Louisiana 34, Georgia State 31 OT— Ragin’ Cajuns sprung an upset at Iowa State last week; but had to fight like hell to avoid being upset here- they trailed 21-7 midway thru the third quarter.  

Louisiana outgained Georgia State by 100 yards, but converted only 3-14 on third down. Both teams ran the ball for 200+ yards.

12) Back in the day when ESPN first started, 1980 or so, one of the first leagues that let ESPN show its basketball games was the Sun Belt Conference. ESPN needs to show the Sun Belt some love and give their games more airtime. Besides, Sun Belt football is at a pretty high level and is fun to watch.

By the way, and I’m rambling here because its 2:30am and Korean baseball is on, but in 1980, Sun Belt basketball included VCU, South Alabama, Charlotte, South Florida, among others. Some of those teams are lot higher on the food chain now, but it is still a good league, and ESPN needs to give the league its own weekly time slot.

11) Dodgers 6, Rockies 1— In his career, LA’s Clayton Kershaw has started 43 games against Colorado; the Dodgers are 32-11 in those games.

10) Sounds like both the NBA/NHL might not start next season until January; college basketball is rumored to be starting November 25, which means the first part of November is going to pretty desolate for sports, except for football on the weekends. 

Good thing I have a very large stack of books to read; you’ll be getting some book reports in November, and lots and lots of football stats.

9) Navy 27, Tulane 24— Midshipmen were down 24-0 at halftime, after losing their opener 55-3 at home, so this was an emotional win for them after a huge second half.

8) Astros’ P Justin Verlander will have Tommy John surgery, will miss next season, then he’ll be a 39-year old free agent.

7) Miami 47, Louisville 34— Miami’s kicker made 48 and 57-yard field goals, which means we’ll be seeing him kick on Sundays fairly soon. Hurricanes were +3 in turnovers.

6) Best wishes to Florida State football coach Mike Norvell, who tested positive for COVID and is on the shelf for a while. Seminoles play Miami next week, leaving deputy head coach Chris Thomsen as the interim coach.

Thomsen was the head coach at Abilene Christian from 2005-11; he spent the past three years coaching the offensive line at TCU.

5) NC State 45, Wake Forest 42— Deacons stormed back from down 35-21 in third quarter to lead 42-38, but State scored with 5:51 left and held on for the win.

4) Lot of carping on social media about individual awards and who certain people voted for; to me, this is a total waste of time. I don’t give a rat’s ass about individual awards, other than who gets into the Halls of Fame. Too much drama about these NBA awards; its a team game, people.

3) Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire abruptly retired Saturday for health reasons; he has a career record of 1,068-1,039 in regular season games. Lot of people posted stuff on social media about how well-liked and well-respected Gardenhire is. We wish him well.

2) Celtics 117, Heat 106 (Miami leads 2-1)
— Four starters scored 20+ points for the Celtics.
— Only six Celtics played double figure minutes.
— Miami was 12-44 behind the arc; no bueno.

1) If the baseball playoffs started today (they don’t):
AL East: Tampa Bay, New York
AL Central: Chicago, Minnesota
AL West: Oakland, Houston
AL wild cards: Cleveland, Toronto

NL East: Atlanta, Miami
NL Central: Chicago, St Louis
NL West: Los Angeles, San Diego
NL wild cards: Philadelphia, Cincinnati

Saturday’s Den: Random thoughts on a happy day

13) Good day Friday; finally got my new glasses, so my eyesight is back to 100%, for first time in 11 months. I have a list of people to thank, but unfortunately, I don’t know a lot of their names.

— Dr Mallick, my retina surgeon, who has since moved to New Jersey
— Dr Lemanski, my cataract surgeon

— My cousins Maureen/Kevin, who went above and beyond to help me out.
— Friends/drivers Luke, Christina, Dara.
— My friend Chris the bartender, who advised me on where to get a new pair of glasses back in February- they helped a lot.

— The people at Memorial Hospital who helped me thru retina surgery
— The people at the Surgery Center in Latham, where I had cataract surgery.

Dr Lemanski’s staff got me new glasses, so it is lot easier to write this site now.

People at the Retina Care Center were also very nice to me. 

Its been a long 11 months, but it is good to have my vision back to 100%.

12) Tampa Bay/Oakland clinched playoff spots this week; A’s are in postseason for 6th time in nine years, with a payroll in the bottom third of the sport.

11) Michael Bloomberg is contributing $100M to Joe Biden’s campaign in Florida; money like that has to buy a hell of a lot of TV commercials. This is  a good couple months for TV networks; politicians throwing money at them for commercial time.

10) WR Adam Humphries recently signed a $26M deal with the Tennessee Titans; this is a guy who had only one scholarship offer coming out of high school- Clemson. This is part of why Dabo Swinney’s team is in the college football playoff every year; he can recognize talent.

9) Boston Celtics are 8-5 in playoffs so far; they led by 10+ points in four of the five losses.

8) Cleveland Browns’ coach Kevin Stefanski came to Cleveland from the Vikings, where he had been an assistant coach for 14 years, working for three different head coaches. That’s an unusual career path for a pro football coach.

7) Lakers 126, Nuggets 114 (Lakers lead 1-0)
— Game was 70-59 at halftime; LA shot 53% from the floor.
— Anthony Davis scored 37 points; Denver needs to find a way to defend him.

6) Ruben Amaro Jr is a new TV analyst for the Phillies and he is very good; relaxed, talks the game, and as a former GM/coach, knows it very well.

5) Milwaukee Brewers are 24-26, wallowing just below the cut for the playoffs; their most talented pitchers are Brandon Woodruff/Josh Hader, but Hader has thrown only 15.2 innings all year, while a washed-up stiff like Brent Suter has thrown 26 innings- Brett Anderson has thrown 39 innings.

Milwaukee rushed Hader to the majors because their AAA team was in high-altitude Colorado Springs, where prospects got their confidence squashed by lofty ERA’s- they made him a reliever to limit his innings early in his career. But now that he is an established big leaguer, Hader needs to be a starting pitcher, so the Brewers can maximize his immense potential.

4) Late night TV surfing, ran into an old friend; the old TV show Without a Trace was very underrated, about the part of FBI in New York City that found missing people. Anthony LaPaglia was great as Jack Malone, who headed the agency. It is on Paramount Network 2-3 hours in a row, late at night.

3) ESPN signed up longtime NBA star Vince Carter as an NBA/college hoop analyst; you never know how these things are going to go, but I’ll be curious to hear what he has to say.

2) Speaking of college basketball, sounds like next season will begin November 25, the night before Thanksgiving. No freakin’ idea what the schedule is going to look like, but it’ll be fun to see kids playing basketball again.

1) If the baseball playoffs started today (they don’t):
AL East: Tampa Bay, New York
AL Central: Chicago, Minnesota
AL West: Oakland, Houston
AL wild cards: Cleveland, Toronto

NL East: Atlanta, Miami
NL Central: Chicago, Cincy/StL
NL West: Los Angeles, San Diego
NL wild cards: Philadelphia, SF/Cin/StL

Friday’s Den: Wrapping up a busy Thursday

13) White Sox 4, Twins 3— Chicago clinches its first playoff berth since 2008.

6th inning of this game, Josh Donaldson was carping about balls/strikes during his at-bat, then he hits a home run to put the Twins up 3-2. When he rounds the bases, he kicks dirt on home plate as he scores as the ump kicks him out. Not good. 

Twins are fighting like hell to make the playoffs; you can’t get kicked out of a one-run game.

12) Dodgers were the first team to clinch a playoff berth; they’re 35-15 this season.

11) Browns 35, Bengals 30:
— Burrow was 37-61 for 316 yards, most passes a rookie has ever completed in a game.
— Bengals had 30 first downs, converted 8-18 on 3rd down.
— Last three years, Cincy is 15-8 ATS as a road underdog; over is 11-2 in their last 13 road openers.
— Bengals went 5-5 going for it on 4th down.

— Chubb ran for 124 yards, two TD’s for the Browns.
— Cleveland scored TD’s on three of first four drives.
— Browns allowed 68 points in splitting their first two games.

10) Sean McVay is in his 4th year as an NFL head coach; he went to college at Miami OH, but he is four years younger than another Miami alum, Ben Roethlisberger, who is still playing ball. McVay is 34, Big Ben is 38.

9) When the Clippers ousted Dallas in the first round of the playoffs, they shot 47% on 3-point shots from the corner, which is exceptional.

Problem is, they got to Game 7 against Denver in the 2nd round and went 0-12 on those corner jumpers behind the arc. 0-12 doesn’t butter the biscuit.

8) An adventurous gambler wagered $200,000 on the Lakers to win the NBA title; if the Lakers win it all, the bettor pockets $121,212.

7) Heat 106, Celtics 101 (Miami leads 2-0)
— Miami was down 13 at the half, but held Boston to 41 points in 2nd half, after Celtics scored 60 in first half.
— Miami was +11 (20-9) in turnovers.
— Crowder/Robinson took 24 shots; 22 of them were 3’s.

6) This weekend’s Mariners-Padres series was moved to San Diego, because of the poor air quality in Seattle.

5) Angels’ rookie 1B Jared Walsh has scored a run/driven in a run in nine consecutive games, the longest streak like that by a rookie in baseball history.

4) Saw a film clip Thursday of Colorado Rockies’ manager Bud Black giving up Reggie Jackson’s 500th home run in 1984, when Jackson was playing for the Angels. Black was a good pitcher, with a 121-116 career record.

Angels’ manager then was John McNamara; two years later, he was Boston’s manager when they lost the World Series in seven games to the Mets. He was also Jackson’s manager in Oakland in 1970, when Jackson got involved in a squabble with owner Charlie Finley, the team unraveled and McNamara got fired.

3) How would you like to be the guy who works for the Diamondbacks who advised them to sign Madison Bumgarner to a 5-year, $85M contract? You’d have to be a little bit queasy about you job.

Bumgarner is only 31, but he’s got a lot of miles on that arm; he’s thrown 1,877 regular season innings and 101 more in the postseason. This year, he is 0-4, 8.53 in seven starts. Not good.

2) Get well soon to Texas Rangers’ TV analyst CJ Nitkowski, who tested positive for COVID; Ranger games are fun to listen to- Nitkowski is a good analyst.

1) If you baseball playoffs started today (they don’t):
AL East: Tampa Bay, New York
AL Central: Chicago, Minnesota
AL West: Oakland, Houston
AL wild cards: Cleveland, Toronto

NL East: Atlanta, Miami
NL Central: Chicago, Cincinnati
NL West: Los Angeles, San Diego
NL wild cards: Philadelphia, San Francisco

Thursday’s Den: 13 athletes who excelled at more than one sport

(listed alphabetically)
— Danny Ainge— Played 14 years in the NBA, after a great career at BYU. He also hit .220 in 211 games over three years for the Toronto Blue Jays.

— Jim Brown— One of the best running backs in NFL history, he led the NFL in rushing in 8 of his 9 seasons. Brown also played basketball, ran track, and was a great lacrosse player while in college at Syracuse.

— Wilt Chamberlain— Scored 31,419 points in his NBA career; once scored 100 points in a game- he averaged over 30 ppg for his career. He preferred track in high school, high jumping, long jumping, running the quarter-mile and half-mile events while also throwing the shot put.

When he was in the NBA, Wilt got annoyed that he was criticized for shooting too much so the next season (1967-68) he led the league in assists. 

— Bob Hayes— Played wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys for 11 years; he also won two gold medals in track at the 1964 Olympics. Hayes caught 371 passes for 20 yards/catch in his NFL career, scoring 73 touchdowns.

— Bo Jackson— Was a great running back at Auburn, and played 38 games for the Raiders, averaging 5.4 yards/carry. He played eight years in the major leagues, hitting 141 homers- he played the last two years with an artificial hip.

— Michael Jordan— Not much to add here; won a national title at North Carolina, six NBA titles with the Chicago Bulls, and out of nowhere, he hit .202 for the AA Birmingham Barons in 1994, as an outfielder, during his sabbatical from the NBA.

Hitting .202 doesn’t sound like much, but I was an official scorer for two years at the AA level; there are guys who were career baseball players who didn’t hit .200 at that level. Jordan also stole 30 bases that season.

— Kenny Lofton— Played 17 years in the big leagues, with a .372 on-base %age and 622 stolen bases— hell of a ballplayer, a 6-time All Star. Lofton also played college basketball at Arizona; he is one of only two people EVER to play in the Final Four and World Series.

— Nate Robinson— Played 11 years in the NBA, he won the Slam Dunk title three times even though he is only 5-9; he scored 11 ppg for his professional career. Robinson originally went to U of Washington on a football scholarship; he played football for the Huskies as a freshman, but gave football up after that season.

— Bill Russell— Played 13 seasons in the NBA, won 11 titles, lost in the finals another year. San Francisco won consecutive NCAA titles with Russell as their center in 1955-56. Russell also was a high jumper at USF; at one time, he was ranked as the 7th-best high jumper in the world, but had to choose between track and basketball as far as the Olympics went- he chose basketball.

— Deion Sanders— Played 14 years in the NFL for five teams; he picked off 53 passes in his pro career, running back nine of them for touchdowns. He also played baseball, playing nine years in the major leagues, hitting .263 for four teams, with 186 stolen bases.

— Tim Stoddard— First person ever to play in a Final Four and a World Series; he was a starting forward on NC State’s championship team in 1974. He also pitched in the major leagues for 13 years, winning a World Series ring with the ’83 Orioles. He also got a hit in his only at-bat in a World Series game.

— Charlie Ward— He won the 1993 Heisman Trophy, leading Florida State to their first-ever national title on the gridiron. Ward also played 11 years in the NBA for three teams, mostly the Knicks, scoring 6.3 ppg for his career.

— Dave Winfield— Played both baseball/basketball for the Minnesota Gophers; his college basketball coach was Bill Musselman, who later coached in the NBA. Winfield was also drafted by the NFL’s Vikings, but he never played college football.

Winfield was a great baseball player; he played 22 years in the majors, hit .283 with 465 career homers and an on-base %age of .353. 

Wednesday’s Den: Mid-week musings……

13) ESPN finally found its Monday Night Football crew; Steve Levy, Brian Greise, Louis Riddick are an excellent 3-man team. Smart, unassuming, easy to listen to.

12) Baseball announced its playoff plan; AL bubble in California, NL bubble in Texas, no days off in the division or league championship series, which is a big deal. Pitching depth is going to be a lot more important than usual. Aces will only pitch once in a best-of-5 series, unless they pitch a game on short rest.

Air quality in southern California could be become a problem; I’m assuming the backup plan is Arizona’s dome, but that wasn’t mentioned Monday.

World Series will be in the Rangers’ new domed stadium in Arlington.

11) Nuggets 104, Clippers 89 (Denver wins 4-3)
— Denver held LA to 33 points in 2nd half.
— Nuggets were down 3-1 in both series this year, but won both.
— Jokic had 16 points, 22 rebounds, 13 assists. Wow.
— In their 50-year history, Clippers are now 0-8 in games where they had a chance to reach the conference final.

10) Cincinnati Bengals’ kicker Randy Bullock missed a game-tying 31-yard field goal at the end of Sunday’s 16-13 loss to the Chargers; Bullock then grabbed his leg— a calf strain was given as the reason. Bengals need a new kicker. 

Problem is, Cincinnati plays on Thursday this week and if you bring someone into Ohio from another state, there is a 72-hour thing because of COVID, so the Bengals quickly scooped up kicker Austin Seibert, who was shown the door by the Browns after he missed a PAT and a field goal in Cleveland’s 38-6 loss in Baltimore Sunday.

Seibert will see his old friends Thursday, when the Bengals visit Cleveland.

9) Unusual fact: Five QB’s whose team won in Week 1 were led in rushing by their QB. More and more teams are going to running back-by-committee. 

I cringe every time a quarterback takes a hit while running; they’re very valuable players, so there is a fine line between a running QB making his offense more explosive while also risking the whole thing blowing up, if that QB gets hurt.

8) NFL officials called two huge offensive pass interference penalties Sunday, but they only called offensive holding 18 times in 16 games last week, so that’s an improvement. Thats the 2nd-fewest amount of Week 1 holding calls since 2001.

7) Why some teams don’t want their head coach also being a coordinator:

Denver Broncos totally screwed up clock management in the last minute Monday night; once Tennessee got within field goal range, Denver had to use its timeouts, to preserve some time for their offense if the Titans took the lead, which they did. 

Head coach Vic Fangio also coordinates Denver’s defense, and that was what he was thinking about while Tennessee was driving at the end. Game management was botched, depriving the Broncos of a last-gasp chance at a win- remember, the game was in Denver, so longer field goals are more possible.

6) Orlando’s NBA bubble on the Disney grounds will also host eight early season college basketball tournament:

— Champions Classic, Jimmy V Classic
— Wooden Legacy, preseason NIT
— Orlando Invitational, Charleston Classic
— Myrtle Beach invitational, Diamond Head Classic

5) Over the last 10 years, when NFL teams went for it on 4th and 1, they got the first down 64% of the time.

4) Tennessee Titans missed three field goals and an extra point Monday night; last year, they made only 44.4% of their FG’s, by far the worst %age in the NFL. 2nd-worst %age last year was the Jets, who made 67.9% of their field goals.

3) My preference for the NFL schedule would be Monday night doubleheaders every week but no Thursday games, except for Week 1 and Thanksgiving Day. Football wasn’t meant to be played on three days’ rest.

2) Michael O’Keefe, the actor who played Danny Noonan in Caddyshack 40 years ago, caddied for club pro Danny Balin this week at practice rounds for the US Open.

1) If you baseball playoffs started today (they don’t):
AL East: Tampa Bay, New York
AL Central: Chicago, Minnesota
AL West: Oakland, Houston
AL wild cards: Cleveland, Toronto

NL East: Atlanta, Miami
NL Central: Chicago, St Louis
NL West: Los Angeles, San Diego
NL wild cards: Philadelphia, San Francisco

Tuesday’s Den: Nobody asked me, but…….

13) Steelers 26, Giants 16:
— Pitt led 16-10 late in 3rd quarter; Giants had a 19-play drive that ended on an end zone INT.
— Last five years, Pittsburgh is 15-6 ATS against NFC teams.
— 11 of Steelers’ last 14 road openers stayed under the total.

— Barkley carried ball 15 times for 6 yards; he caught 6 passes for 60 yards.
— Giants started one drive on Pittsburgh’s 3-yard line but only kicked a FG.
— Giants started out 0-1 eight of last nine years.
— Giants are 4-14 ATS in last 18 games as a home underdog.

12) Titans 16, Denver 14
— Titans missed three FG’s and a PAT, but kicked 25-yard FG with 0:17 left for the win.
— The was the Oilers/Titans’ first win in Denver since 1980 (they also won a 1987 replacement game, but I don’t count that)
— Tennessee won seven of last eight road openers, covered nine of last 13.

— Broncos were stopped on downs on the Tennessee 1-yard line in 2nd quarter.
— Titans converted 7-16 on 3rd down, Denver only 3-9.
— Denver is 21-10-1 ATS in its last 32 home openers.

11) Why did the Houston Texans trade DeAndre Hopkins? Isn’t it important to keep your best players, especially when your young QB is growing into being an elite player? Going to be a lot of heat on Texans’ management if they regress on offense this season.

My high school Chemistry teacher was Bill Warner (no relation to Kurt); he was a great teacher, also a licensed pilot, a basketball referee, a brilliant guy. When something made no sense to him, he would call it “nonsensical” He is the only person I’ve ever heard use that word.

To me, the Texans trading Hopkins was nonsensical.

10) No NFL head coach has ever won Super Bowls with two different teams.

Only two guys (Bill Parcells, Mike Holmgren) made it to a Super Bowl with another team, after winning a title somewhere else.

9) NFL supposedly wants more scoring in their games, but two huge offensive plays in the last minute of close games were nullified Sunday by offensive pass interference calls. If you want more points to be scored, why would you point the officials towards calling more offensive PI?

Bengals scored a TD with 0:06 left that was negated; Dallas completed a long pass that would’ve set up a game-tying field goal. Wide receivers pushing off has been overlooked for decades; Michael Irvin is in the Hall of Fame because of that.

The NFL makes their rules, the officials just enforce them; I don’t understand this apparent change in direction.

8) Last 16 years, Cleveland Browns are 0-15-1 in their season openers; they threw 10 passes to Odell Beckham Sunday in Baltimore, but completed only three of them.

7) Mike D’Antoni’s NBA coaching record: 16 years, 672-527 in regular season games, 54-56 in playoff games. If he still wants to coach, hard to believe someone won’t hire him.

6) Denver Nuggets are first NBA team ever to have four straight playoff series go 7 games.

5) Overlooked with all the football Sunday was Alec Mills throwing a no-hitter for the Cubs in Milwaukee, in his 15th career start.

Earlier this season, Lucas Giolito threw a no-hitter for the White Sox; this is the first season ever that both Chicago franchises had a pitcher throw a no-hitter in the same season.

4) Over the last 21 years, Washington Redskins have started 13 different quarterbacks in their season opener. This isn’t a good thing.

3) Big day for Mets fans; the Wilpon family and Saul Katz have agreed to sell the Mets to billionaire hedge fund manager Steve Cohen, which has to help the team a lot. The Wilpons were horrendous owners.

Trivia: If you watch Billions on Showtime, Damian Lewis’ character Bobby Axelrod is loosely based on Cohen. He is a rich guy, really rich.

2) Atlanta Braves signed Pablo Sandoval to a minor league deal, after the Giants released him. Sandoval could be a DH for the Braves down the stretch.

1) If the baseball playoffs started today (they don’t):
AL East: Tampa Bay, Toronto
AL Central: Chicago, Minnesota
AL West: Oakland, Houston
AL wild cards: Cleveland, New York

NL East: Atlanta, Miami
NL Central: Chicago, St Louis
NL West: Los Angeles, San Diego
NL wild cards: Philadelphia, San Francisco

Monday’s Den: Wrapping up an NFL Sunday

Seahawks 38, Atlanta 25:
— Four trips to red zone, four TD’s for Seattle.
— Last three years, Seahawks are 14-9-2 ATS on the road.
— Seattle is 7-3 in its last ten games vs Atlanta.

— Matt Ryan threw for 450 yards in a losing cause.
— Atlanta gained 506 yards but was -2 (0-2) in turnovers.
— Last 2+ years, Falcons are 6-10-2 vs spread at home.

Buffalo 27, Jets 17
— Buffalo had a 19-yard edge in field position, very big.
— Jets are 9-17-1 ATS in last 27 games as a road underdog.
— Last four years, Gang Green is 4-7-2 ATS in AFC East road games.

— Buffalo threw the ball 26 times in first half; surprising.
— Bills won seven of last ten home openers (9-5 ATS in last 14)
— Buffalo is 6-2 ATS in last eight home openers as a home favorite.

Bears 27, Detroit 23
— Detroit led 23-6 after three quarters.
— Last four drives for Chicago: 22 plays, 155 yards, 21 points.
— Chicago won last five series games, winning last three visits to the Motor City.

— Guy on Lions dropped a pretty easy pass in end zone with 0:06 left.
— Last two years, Detroit is 7-10 ATS at home.
— Lions are 9-23-1 under Patricia; they were 36-28 under Caldwell, his predecessor.

Packers 43, Minnesota 34
— Packers scored five TD’s on nine possessions.
— Green Bay had a 14-yard advantage in field position.
— Over is 12-3 in Green Bay’s last 15 road openers

— Pack ran 76 plays for 522 yards; Vikings ran 49 plays.
— Vikings had 8 plays of 20+ yards; 7 of them came on 1st down.
— Under Zimmer, Minnesota is now 26-11-1 ATS as a home favorite.

New England 21, Dolphins 11
— Fitzpatrick threw 3 INT’s, including one in end zone with 1:28 when a TD would’ve at least covered the spread.
— Since 2014, Miami is 16-26 ATS as road underdogs
— Miami lost 11 of its last 12 visits to Foxboro.

— Newton threw for 155 yards, ran 15 times for 75 yards.
— Since 2015, New England is 25-12-3 ATS as a home favorite.
— NE won 17 of its last 19 home openers (10-7-2 ATS)

Washington 27, Eagles 17
— Eagles led 17-0 with 2:00 left in first half.
— Philly’s last 11 drives: 42 plays, 100 yards, 0 points, 3 turnovers.
— Washington had a 15-yard edge in field position.

— Washington’s points were all scored on drives that started in Philly territory. 
— Ron Rivera is Washington’s coach; he had a chemo treatment during the week, took an IV at halftime. Tough freakin’ guy.
— As a head coach, Rivera is 13-7-1 ATS as a home underdog.

Raiders 34, Charlotte 30
— Jacobs carried ball 25 times for 93 yards, three TD’s
— Three of four Las Vegas TD drives were 75+ yards.
— Raiders covered five of their last six road openers.

— McCaffrey ran for 96 yards, but caught only three passes.
— Both teams converted over half their 3rd down plays.
— Since 2016, Panthers are 14-18-1 ATS at home.

Jacksonville 27, Colts 20
— Indy outgained Jags 445-241, but was -2 in turnovers.
— Colts lost their last five trips to Jacksonville.
— Indy lost nine of its last 11 road openers, six of last seven season openers.

— Minshew completed 19-20 passes for 173 yards, three TD’s. 
— Jacksonville covered 10 of last 15 AFC South home games.
— Jaguars last five home openers went over the total.

Baltimore 38, Browns 6
— Cleveland scored only one TD and missed the PAT after.
— Since 2013, Cleveland is 10-18-1 ATS as a road underdog.
— Since 2003, Browns, are 6-10-2 ATS in road openers.

— Ravens had a 23-yard advantage in starting field position.
— Baltimore won its last five Week 1 games, by combined score of 177-26.
— Ravens won 14 of last 16 home openers (11-5 ATS).

Chargers 16, Cincinnati 13
— Bengals’ game-winning TD with 0:06 left was nullified by offensive pass interference call.
— Last three years, Chargers are 7-3-2 ATS as a road favorite.
— Chargers are 6-2-1 ATS in their last nine road openers.

— Bengals averaged 4.4 yards/pass attempt; their only TD drive was 44 yards.
— Last two years, Bengals are 5-10-2 ATS at home.
— Cincy is 2-6-2 ATS in last ten games as a home underdog.

New Orleans 34, Buccaneers 23
— Buccaneers turned ball over three times; Brady threw a pick-6.
— Arians is 5-12 ATS in last 17 games as a road underdog.
— Tampa Bay won four of its last five road openers.

— Saints scored the only defensive TD of the week so far.
— Since 2014, New Orleans is 16-25-1 ATS as a home favorite.
— Saints had a 24-yard edge in starting field position.

Cardinals 24, San Francisco 20
— WR Hopkins caught 14 passes for 151 yards; why did Houston trade HIM?
— Cardinals are 10-5-2 ATS in last 17 games as a road underdog.
— Arizona ran ball for 180 yards, converted 7-14 on third down.
— Redbirds won five of their last six visits here.

— 49ers are 7-16-2 ATS in last 25 games as a home favorite.
— Niners covered twice in last ten NFC West home games.
— Six of 49ers’ last seven home openers stayed under the total
— Five of last eight series games were decided by 4 or fewer points.

Rams 20, Cowboys 17
— Dallas converted only 3-12 third down plays.
— Prescott averaged only 5.8 yards/pass attempt.
— Cowboys had only one play of 20+ yards.

— Rams held Dallas to a field goal in second half.
— Under McVay, Rams are 15-8 SU at home.
— Rams won/covered their last six home openers.

 

Sunday’s Den: Wrapping up a sports Saturday

13) Like everything else in 2020, the first real Saturday of college football was odd, capped off by a Coastal Carolina-Kansas game that kicked off at 9pm local time in Lawrence, followed by a 1am ET Korean baseball game. Fun for the whole family.

I’m not a scientist, but I’m pretty sure playing football in this environment isn’t a great idea, especially when the players do not get paid, but college sports is big business, and if you don’t believe that, well Oklahoma charged $55 or so on pay-per-view for their opener against I-AA juggernaut Missouri State. Sooners won 48-0; thrilling.

12) If the presidents/AD’s in the Big X knew what was going to happen on the field Saturday, they might’ve thought a quarantine wasn’t such a bad idea.

Coastal Carolina 38, Kansas 23— Second year in row the Chanticleers upset Kansas in Lawrence; this game was 28-0 until just before halftime.

11) Texas Tech 35, Houston Baptist 33— Houston Baptist is I-AA, so this is kind of like a loss for Tech, except it isn’t officially a loss. I mean, Tech was a 40-point favorite and won by 2.

10) Louisiana 31, Iowa State 14— Ragin’ Cajuns’ DB’s dominated the Iowa State receivers; it helped that the refs didn’t seem interested in throwing any flags for defensive holding or PI. Iowa State was a 13-point favorite.

Louisiana missed two easy field goals, but ran a punt back for a TD and also ran a kickoff back for a TD. Saturday looked like it was a very rough day for placekickers, especially young ones.

9) Arkansas State (+14.5) 35, Kansas State 31— Arkansas State’s coach is Blake Anderson; he deserves some joy in his life- his wife passed away just before last season started, and then he lost his dad this offseason. Guy is a good coach who could be moving up soon.

8) Game of the Day: Tex-San Antonio 51, Texas State 48 OT— Down 41-35, Texas State ran a punt back 91 yards for a TD with 1:13 left, but they missed the PAT, then missed a short FG in overtime, and the Roadrunners escaped with a win in Jeff Traylor’s debut as USTA’s coach.

Texas State played without its starting QB, who sat out with COVID-related issues.

7) Saturday’s football upsets:
— Louisiana (+13) 31, Iowa State 14
— Arkansas State (+14.5) 35, Kansas State 31
— Georgia Tech (+13) 16, Florida State 13
— Coastal Carolina (+6) 38, Kansas 23

6) Kansas State (8-1) won the SouthPoint’s prop bet by scoring the first touchdown of the day; the favorites were North Carolina (3-1), Appalachian State (7-2).

5) Some NFL guys had big paydays Saturday; Saints’ RB Alvin Kamara, Vikings’ RB Dalvin Cook and Rams’ WR Cooper Kupp all got contract extensions.

4) Oakland A’s got some very bad news; 3B Matt Chapman will have hip surgery, is out for the season. Thats a big loss- they somehow acquired Jake Lamb from Arizona right before I typed this. They must pay Arizona under the table to cut him, then they signed Lamb up when no one else claimed him.

3) Arizona/Red Sox are first two teams to clinch their under bets in season win total wagering.

2) Lakers 119, Rockets 96— Lakers win series 4-1; you get the feeling Mike D’Antoni will be the scapegoat for Houston’s 2nd-round exit. Now the Lakers hope Denver can force a Game 7 against the Clippers tonight, just to tire both teams out.

1) If the baseball playoffs started today (they do not):
AL East- Tampa Bay, Toronto
AL Central- Chicago, Minnesota
AL West- Oakland, Houston
AL Wild Cards- Cleveland, New York

NL East- Atlanta, Philadelphia
NL Central- Chicago, St Louis
NL West- Los Angeles, San Diego
NL Wild Cards- Miami, San Francisco

15 days left in the season, and the Marlins are still a playoff team. 

Saturday’s Den: Wrapping up a busy Friday

13) Boston 92, Toronto 87 (Celtics win 4-3)
— Celtics held Toronto to 16 points in 4th quarter.
— Teams combined to make 17-66 on the arc.
— Jayson Tatum led Boston with 29 points.
— Celtics advance to the Eastern Conference final.

12) Nuggets 111, LA Clippers 105 (LA leads 3-2)
— Denver outscored LA 38-25 in 4th quarter to stay alive.
— Michael Porter scored Denver’s last 7 points, his only points of the game.

11) Tampa Bay 11, Red Sox 1— Rays are first team since at least 1900 to start nine lefty hitters in a game, with none of them switch-hitters.

10) Two more random facts from Thursday’s NFL games:
— There were only five plays of 20+ yards in Thursday’s game; Chiefs had two of them. Last year, Kansas City averaged 4.25 plays/game of 20+ yards
— Chiefs had a 15-yard advantage in average field position, which is unusually big.

9) Happy birthday to the great NBA player Bob Lanier, who turned 72 this week; to show how great Lanier was in college, he led St Bonaventure to the 1971 Final Four. Think about that; St Bonaventure is located in the middle of freakin’ nowhere, in the southern tier of central New York; for them to make the Final Four was amazing. 

He was a great college player, but tore his knee up in the regional final, when Villanova’s Chris Ford rolled up on his knee. Ironically, Lanier/Ford later wound up as NBA teammates with the Pistons. 

8) I was at an AAU tournament in Las Vegas a few years ago, at Bishop Gorman HS, two games going on at once. I’m sitting in the bleachers by myself, behind one couple.

Being AAU ball, when the coach’s cellphone buzzes that he got a text while the game is going on, the guy takes the phone out and reads the text. Why?

He turns around, looks at the couple in front of me and snaps, “If you text me again, he’ll never get in!!!”

The couple wanted their kid to play more; I couldn’t laugh in their faces, so I went to the concession stand. Good stuff.

7) Unsolicited opinions: best-ever play-by-play announcers by sport:
— MLB— Vin Scully
— NFL— Al Michaels
— NBA— Mike Breen
— NHL— Mike Emrick/Dan Kelly
— College hoop— Dick Enberg
— College football— Keith Jackson

6) Phillies’ pitcher Zach Wheeler makes $22M this year; he is now on the IL after tearing the fingernail on the middle finger of his pitching hand while he was putting his pants on.

Wheeler is 4-0, 2,47 in 8 starts; he is really good, but he got hurt putting his pants on.

5) Giant-Padre games for Friday/Saturday were postponed after a Giants’ player tested positive for COVID.

4) Dr Fauci was on TV today telling the truth, because someone needs to; the moderator said they were glad he was speaking, but they were also afraid he would get fired soon.

They can’t fire him; every TV network in the country (except FOX) would be throwing lucrative offers at him, to get his commentary on their station. He’d definitely get his own show, if he wanted one.

3) Sounds like November will be a very quiet month TV-wise, with only football going on until maybe college hoop starts around Thanksgiving. Good news, then, that the NBA now plans to hold their draft November 18, so that’ll provide one night of entertainment.

2) September 11, 1985— Pete Rose set the all-time hits record, getting a hit off of Eric Show of the Padres. Sadly, September 11 is now an infamous date in American history, because of the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers and Pentagon.

1) If the baseball playoffs started today (they do not):
AL East- Tampa Bay, Toronto
AL Central- Chicago, Minnesota
AL West- Oakland, Houston
AL Wild Cards- Cleveland, New York

NL East- Atlanta, Philadelphia
NL Central- Chicago, St Louis
NL West- Los Angeles, San Diego
NL Wild Cards- Miami, San Francisco