Monday’s Den: Wrapping up an NFL Sunday

Dolphins 21, Bills 19:
— Buffalo lost, despite outgaining Miami 497-212.
— Allen was 42-63 passing for 400 yards, with 2 TD’s.
— Bills converted 11-18 on 3rd down (25-41 in three games)
— Buffalo outgained first three opponents, 1,324-642. 

— Bills drove 73 yards/17 plays, were stopped on Miami 2-yard line with 1:46 left.
— Dolphins have converted 20-36 third down plays.
— Miami ran ball 17 times for only 41 yards.
— Dolphins ended a six-game series losing streak.
— 3rd-year QB Tagovailoa is 16-8 as an NFL starter.

Ravens 37, Patriots 26:
— Jackson threw for 218 yards, 4 TD’s; ran for 107 yards and a TD
— Andrews caught 8 passes for 89 yards, two TD’s.
— Last 3+ years, Ravens are 9-0 ATS in games with spread of 3 or less.
— Ravens have outscored opponents 52-23 in first half.
— Jackson is 40-16 as an NFL starter.

— Patriots are 18-19 since Brady went to Tampa Bay.
— Patriots turned ball over last three times they had it.
— New England was 2-9 on third down, Ravens 5-11.
— Since 2018, they’re 7-13 ATS in games with spread of 3 or less.
— QB Jones hurt his ankle at end of game (check status)

Colts 20, Chiefs 17:
— Chiefs missed a PAT and a 34-yard field goal.
— Kansas City’s TD drives were short: 35-21 yards.
— Chiefs’ four 2nd half drives: 35 plays, 203 yards, only 3 points.
— Last two games, Chiefs are only 7-22 on third down.

— Ryan threw 12-yard TD pass with 0:24 left for the win.
— Woods caught only 2 passes for 13 yards, but both catches were TD’s.
— In last two games, Colts gained only 218-259 yards.
— Colts have only four TD’s on 33 drives this season.

Panthers 22, Saints 14:
— Saints outgained Carolina 426-293, were minus-3 in turnovers.
— New Orleans had two empty trips to red zone.
— Panthers won field position by 12 yards.
— Saints are 13-39 on 3rd down so far this season.
— Winston is 34-46 as an NFL starter, 6-5 with the Saints.

— Carolina snaps a 9-game losing skid with this win.
— Panthers scored a defensive TD to take a 7-0 lead.
— Panthers’ only offensive TD was a 67-yard TD pass to Chenault.
— Last two games, Carolina has only 2 TD’s on 21 drives.

Bears 23, Texans 20
— Mills threw INT with 1:05 left, giving Bears ball on 20-yard line in 20-20 game.
— Texans have allowed 177-149-281 rushing yards in three games.
— Texans were 3-12 on 3rd down; Chicago was 6-14.
— Houston lost despite a 10-yard advantage in field position.

— Herbert carried ball 20 times for 157 yards, two TD’s.
— Bears kicked a FG in last 2:00 of each half, including game-winner at gun. 
— Bears have been outscored 45-20 in first half this season. 
— Chicago has completed only 23-45 passes in three games, for 235 yards.

Vikings 28, Lions 24:
— Detroit led 14-0 early in second quarter.
— Under Campbell, Lions are 4-15-1 SU, 14-6 ATS.
— Lions hav run ball for 170.3 yards/game so far.
— Detroit scored 35-36-24 points so far (11 TD’s on 35 drives)

— Cousins threw 28-yard TD pass with 0:45 left for the win.
— Vikings trailed 24-14 with 8:00 left in game.
— Minnesota has converted only 10-34 third down plays.
— Vikings won eight of last nine series games.
— Last 2+ years, Minnesota is 3-9 ATS as a home favorite.

Bengals 27, Jets 12:
— Bengals’ first five drives: 30 plays, 237 yards, 20 points.
— Bengals’ last six drives: 37 plays, 104 yards, 7 points.
— Cincinnati held Jets to 4.5 yards/pass attempt.
— Last 2+ years, Cincy is 12-6 ATS coming off a loss.

— Jets were in Cincinnati territory on 7 of 12 drives, didn’t score a TD.
— Gang Green came up empty on two trips to red zone.
— Jets turned ball over four times (minus-3)
— Opponents have converted 20-39 third down plays.
— Last 2+ years, Jets are 12-22 ATS as an underdog.

Titans 24, Raiders 22:
— Raiders scored TD with 1:14 left, but failed on 2-point PAT.
— Las Vegas is 0-3, with losses by 5-6-2 points.
— Raiders were 1-12 on third down, Tennessee 5-10.
— Las Vegas is 2-6 ATS in last eight games with spread of 3 or less.
— Since 2017, Raiders are 2-8-1 ATS as a road favorite.

— Titans’ first three drives: 26 plays, 229 yards, 21 points.
— Titans rest of game: 28 plays, 114 yards, 3 points.
— Since 2017, Titans are 10-3 ATS as a home underdog.
— Tennessee has been outgained 1,204-907 in three games.

Eagles 24, Commanders 8:
— Eagles have outscored opponents 62-21 in first half.
— Philly outgained the Commanders, 400-240.
— WR Devonta Smith caught 8 passes for 169 yards and a TD.
— Philly won its first three games, scoring 28.7 ppg.

— Eagles sacked ex-teammate Wentz nine times.
— Washington in first 3 quarters: 34 plays, 62 yards, 5 first downs, no points.
— Washington lost field position by 11-12-9 yards in its first three games.
— Since 2016, Commanders are 6-13 ATS in NFC East home games.

Jaguars 38, Chargers 10:
— Last two games. Jaguars allowed only one TD on 21 drives.
— Jaguars ran ball for 151 yards, converted 8-15 on third down.
— Jacksonville opponents have only 24 points on 7 red zone drives.
— Doug Pederson is our early leader for Coach of the Year.

— Chargers have been outscored 59-24 in second half.
— Bolts were outgained 413-312; they were minus-2 in turnovers.
— Jaguars won field position by 12 yards.
— Chargers have run ball for only 76-75-26 yards so far this season.
— Last 3+ years, Chargers are 10-17-1 ATS coming off a loss.

Falcons 27, Seahawks 23
— Falcons ran ball for 179 yards, averaged 9.0 yards/pass attempt.
— Atlanta ran 54 plays, only seven of them on third down.
— Atlanta scored 26-27-27 points in first three games.
— Falcons are 6-3 ATS in last nine games with spread of 3 or less.

— Geno Smith passed for 326 yards, two TD’s.
— Smith is also now 14-23 as an NFL starter.
— Seattle converted 9-17 third down plays.
— On five drives to red zone, Seahawks scored 2 TD’s, kicked 3 FG’s. 

Rams 20, Cardinals 12:
— LA’s first three drives: 21 plays, 145 yards, 13 points.
— Rams pulled away to 20-9 lead with 75-yard drive on 8 plays
— Rams won field position by 13 yards.
— Los Angeles won 12 of last 13 series games.
— Rams are 8-0 ATS in last eight visits to Arizona.

— Out of 85 plays they ran, Cardinals had only two plays of 20+ yards.
— Arizona has been outscored 56-13 in first half this season.
— Cardinals’ first four drives: 13 plays, 22 yards, one first down, no points.
— Cardinals’ last five drives: 72 plays, 303 yards, 22 first down2, 12 points.
— Arizona is 3-7 ATS in last ten NFC West home games. 

Packers 14, Buccaneers 12:
— Packers’ first two drives: 22 plays, 146 yards, 14 points.
— Rest of game: 38 plays, 149 yards, no points.
— Green Bay is 9-4-1 ATS in last 14 games coming off a win.
— Green Bay is 11-7-2 ATS in last 20 games with spread of 3 or less.
— Last 3+ years, Packers are 9-2 ATS as a road underdog.

— Tampa scored their first TD with 0:14 left in game- the 2-point play failed.
— Bucs ran ball only 14 times for 34 yards.
— Bucs have scored only three TD’s on 32 drives.
— Tampa Bay has scored 16 points on six red zone drives.

Broncos 11, 49ers 10:
— 49ers drove 75 yards for a TD on their second drive of game.
— After that: they had 11 drives- 39 plays, 161 yards, 3 points.
— 49ers outscored first three opponents 34-3 in first half.
— 49ers are 4-8 ATS in last 12 games with spread of 3 or less.

— Broncos were +3 in turnovers (3-0).
— Denver converted 6-19 on third down, 49ers 1-10.
— Broncos have scored 18 points in seven red zone drives.
— Denver scored 16-16-11 points in first three games. 

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

Our daily baseball is posted
Week 3 NFL knowledge is posted.

Sunday’s 6-pack
— Astros 11, Orioles 10— Houston scored four runs in 9th.
— Marlins 4, Nationals 1— Alcantara struck out 11 guys in 8 IP.
— Guardians 4, Rangers 2— Cleveland is 17-3 in its last 20 games.
— Mariners 6, Royals 5— Seattle is only 3-7 on this road trip.
— Padres 9, Rockies 3— Machado scored twice, had two RBI
— Braves 6, Phillies 3— Kyle Wright is MLB’s first 20-game winner.

Quote of the Day
“The experience that he got last year is the biggest thing that has happened to him. He sprung-board off the World Series when he won that big game [Game 4, a 3-2 win over Houston] for us and he learned he was pretty good. And he came to spring training a different guy and it’s carried him to now. Hopefully, he gets a couple of more.”
Braves manager Brian Snitker, talking about P Kyle Wright

Sunday’s quiz
Who was the QB for the Arizona Cardinals in their one Super Bowl appearance?

Saturday’s quiz
In the classic basketball movie Hoosiers, Gene Hackman’s character coached the basketball team at Hickory High School.

Friday’s quiz
Ozzie Guillen managed the Chicago White Sox, last time they won the World Series (2005)

Sunday’s Den: Wrapping up a college football Saturday

Gambling is difficult.

Last week, Eastern Michigan won 30-21 at Arizona State, as a 20-point underdog; they went out Saturday and lost 50-31 at home to Buffalo, as a 7.5-point favorite. Go figure.

Last week, Tulane (+13.5) won 17-10 at Kansas State.
Saturday, Tulane (-11.5) lost 27-24 at home to Southern Miss, while K-State went to Oklahoma and upset the Sooners, 41-34. Speaking of which…….

Kansas State 41, Oklahoma 34
K-State beats the Sooners for third time in four years.
QB Martinez ran for 148 yards, 4 TD’s; he threw for 234 yards and a TD.
Oklahoma QB Gabriel threw for 330 yards and four TD’s.

Clemson 51, Wake Forest 45 OT
Clemson led 14-0 early, trailed 28-20 with 5:00 left in 3rd quarter.
Tigers tied game on a 52-yard FG with 4:01 left.
Clemson converted 16-23 on third down, Deacons 5-12
Clemson had 10 penalties for 120 yards, lot of pass interference calls.
Wake QB Hartman threw for 337 yards and six TD’s.

Middle Tennessee State 45, Miami 31
Blue Raiders’ first-ever win over a ranked team.
MTSU led this game 24-3 in 2nd quarter.
Blue Raiders had TD passes for 71-69 yards.
I’m guessing this score doesn’t sit well with Miami’s boosters.

Texas Tech 37, Texas 34 OT
Longhorns led 24-14 at halftime.
Tech went ahead 34-31 on a 45-yard FG with 0:21 left.
Texas tied game on a 48-yard FG with 0:00 left.
Tech was 7-20 on third down, Texas 3-9.
First time Texas lost in Lubbock since 2008.

Minnesota 34, Michigan State 7
Spartans also lost 39-28 at Washington last week.
Last year, Mel Tucker signed a 10-year contract for $95M, after only three years as a head coach, when he had an 18-14 record. Now his record is 20-16.
Gophers outgained Michigan State 508-240.

Texas A&M 23, Arkansas 21
Arkansas led 14-0 after first quarter.
Aggies ran a fumble back 82 yards for a TD.
Arkansas tried a 42-yard FG with 1:30 left; it hit the top of the right upright, went straight up in the air, and fell short of the crossbar. 

Tennessee 38, Florida 33
Total yardage: 594-576, Florida
Gators had 10 penalties, for only 47 yards.
Tennessee ran 70 plays; only 9 of them were on third down.

Auburn 17, Missouri 14 OT
Mizzou missed a 26-yard FG at the gun in regulation.
Mizzou lost a fumble on the 1-yard line in overtime that ended the game.
Auburn led 14-0 in first quarter,
No one scored in second half.
Mizzou outgained Auburn, 312-217
Teams combined to convert only 7-29 on third down.

UNLV 34, Utah State 24
Rebels were a road favorite for first time in six years; they covered as a road favorite for first time since 2013. UNLV is 3-1, by the way.

Kansas 35, Duke 27— Jayhawks are 4-0 for first time since 2009; their coach won FIVE national titles in D-III. He is a really good coach; this game sold out in Lawrence.

Oregon 44, Washington State 41:
Wazzu led this game 34-22 with 4:00 left to play.
Ducks scored 22 points in 5:42, including a pick-6.
Coogs had a 95-yard pick-6 in first half. 

Oregon had three FG’s shorter than 30 yards in first half; they weren’t good in red zone.

Upsets of the Week:
— Middle Tennessee State (+26) 45, Miami 31
— Navy (+16.5) 23, East Carolina 20 OT
— UTEP (+16.5) 27, Boise State 10
— Kansas State (+13.5) 41, Oklahoma 34
— Southern Miss (+11.5) 27, Tulane 24
— UL-Monroe (+9.5) 21, UL-Lafayette 17
— Buffalo (+7.5) 50, Eastern Michigan 31
— Miami OH (+7.5) 17, Northwestern 14

I-AA Sacramento State 41, Colorado State 10

USC 17, Oregon State 14— This game was on Pac-12 Network, which I don’t have. When USC/UCLA bolt for the Big 14, will the Pac-12 Network even exist anymore?

Memo to DirecTV— I pay you a lot of $$$, Add the Pac-12 Network!!!

Troy State 16, Marshall 7— Marshall won at Notre Dame, then lost to Bowling Green and Troy, all of which makes perfect sense.

James Madison 32, Appalachian State 28
App State led 28-3 with 6:00 left in first half- they never scored again.
Teams combined to convert 6-26 third down plays.
App State’s four games (2-2) were decided by a total of 9 points.

— By the way, Sun Belt plays pretty good football; can we get more of their games on TV? 

Saturday’s Den: Clearing out a cluttered mind……

Syracuse 22, Virginia 20
— Orange led 13-0 at halftime.
— Syracuse kicked 31-yard FG with 1:14 left for the win.
— Virginia had ball near midfield at the end, but lost ball on downs.
— Syracuse is off to an impressive 4-0 start; they were 11-24 last three years.

Air Force 48, Nevada 20:
— Total yardage was 541-242. Bad game.
— Air Force even threw an 80-yard TD pass.
— Air Force ran ball for 461 yards.
— Nevada is in a total rebuild; this’ll be long year for them.

Texas-El Paso 27, Boise State 10:
— Boise was favored by 16.5 points.
— Boise is now 9-7 under Andy Avalos, after going 69-19 under Bryan Harsin, and before that, 92-12 under Chris Petersen.
— Boise completed only 13-34 passes, gained total of only 177 yards.
— Big win on national TV for UTEP, which ran ball for 199 yards.

Cardinals 8, Dodgers 0— Albert Pujols hit his 699th/700th career home runs. He is the 4th big leaguer to hit 700 home runs.

Jeremy Frank posted on Twitter that Pujols’ average home trot is 26 seconds, meaning that he has spent over five hours of his life on his 700 home run trots.

This obviously wasn’t a close game; Cardinals are 12-3 on the road in games where the winning run scored from the 7th inning on.

Orioles 6, Astros 0— Baltimore won its last three games, with starting pitchers getting 80 of the 81 outs. They shut Houston out the last two nights.

— When the Astros’ win again, Dusty Baker will become the 4th manager in MLB history to win 100+ games in a season in both leagues, joining Sparky Anderson, Whitey Herzog and Tony La Russa, all Hall of Fame managers.

— Bowling Green football coach Scot Loeffler will miss Saturday’s road game at Mississippi State due to a personal health matter; he is expected to return next week for the Falcons’ game at Akron.

— Aaron Rodgers has thrown only three pick-6’s in 4,692 NFL passes; two of the three came in Tampa, where he has only played four times.

— Amon-Ra St. Brown has scored a touchdown in six straight games for the Lions. St. Brown has 9 TD’s in his last eight regular season games.

— Dodgers utility guy Hanser Alberto has pitched in nine games this season, most of any position player. He threw two innings against the Cardinals Friday.

Guardians 6, Rangers 3— Cleveland has won 16 of its last 19 games; they lead the AL Central by 8 games, with 11 games left to play. Terry Francona is a great freakin’ manager.

— If the playoffs started today (they don’t)
NL Mets, Cardinals, Dodgers. Wild Cards: Braves, Phillies, Padres
AL New York, Guardians, Astros. Wild Cards: Rays, Blue Jays, Mariners

— Wild Card races:
AL— Orioles trail Seattle by 3 games for the last playoff slot.
NL— Brewers trail San Diego by 2 games for the last playoff slot.

— Seattle looks like a tired, staggering team- they batted Jarred Kelenic 6th Friday night; the guy is hitting .142. 

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

Browns 29, Steelers 17
— Cooper caught 7 passes for 101 yards and a TD.
— Browns ran for 217-184-171 yards in first three games.
— Cleveland has converted 22-46 third down plays this year.
— Browns scored a defensive TD on last play of game; this game was lot closer than final score makes it seem.

— Steelers in 2nd half: 27 plays, 105 yards, 6 first downs, 3 points.
— Pittsburgh converted only 1-9 3rd down plays.
— Steelers were outgained 1,184-818 in first three games.
— Pittsburgh has 4 TD’s on 31 drives, with 12 3/outs.

West Virginia 33, Virginia Tech 10
— WVU outscored Tech 17-0 in fourth quarter.
— Mountaineers outgained Tech, 421-228
— Hokies ran ball 18 times for only 35 yards.
— Tech had 15 penalties for 132 yards.

Coastal Carolina 41, Georgia State 24
— Coastal threw TD passes of 50-53 yards in first 2:53 of game.
— Chanticleers outgained Georgia State, 540-309
— Last 2+ years, Chanticleers are 26-3 SU.
— Georgia State’s only 2nd half score was a 77-yard pick-6. 

— Best SU records in college football since the start of 2020:

29-2— Alabama
26-3— Coastal Carolina
25-3— Georgia
25-3— Louisiana

— As far as the Steelers are concerned, the clock has to be ticking loudly on Kenny Pickett’s NFL debut. Pittsburgh is 1-2; they were +5 in turnovers in their win, and they still needed OT and a missed PAT to win that game. Time to get the young quarterback’s feet wet.

— Cleveland WR Amari Cooper had 100+ receiving yards for the second straight game, the first Browns’ WR to do that since Josh Gordon in 2013.

— The Amazon Prime NFL broadcasts are the normal high quality stuff, I’m just confused why they chose Kirk Herbstreit as their analyst. Herbstreit does a good enough job, but he is still doing college games on Saturday. Amazon couldn’t find a former NFL player to work games?

I mean, Al Michaels is the play-by-play guy; has to be a great gig for an analyst.

— Vikings-Lions play Sunday. Minnesota backup QB David Blough spent the last three years with the Lions, and also training camp this year. He knows the Detroit offense as well as anyone, that has to be an edge for the Vikings this week, right?

— NFL schedule makers have their fun; last week, Carson Wentz/Washington plays the Jaguars and Wentz’s old coach with the Eagles, Doug Pederson. This week, Wentz plays the Eagles for the first of two meetings this season. Lot of subplots early in the season.

— 49ers’ coach Kyle Shanahan was 15 years old when his dad Mike became head coach of the Broncos; Denver won the Super Bowl in his 3rd/4th seasons with Denver, when Kyle Shanahan was graduating high school. Had to be fun times.

This week, Kyle Shanahan brings his 49ers into Denver, another good subplot.

— Boston Celtics suspended head coach Ime Udoka for the 2022-23 season, citing violations of team policies. ESPN reported that that Udoka had an intimate relationship with a female member of the Celtics’ staff.

This is way above my pay grade, but Udoka can’t possibly be the first guy to screw around on the job; he gets suspended for a year for this? They say it was a consensual relationship, so there is no crime or anything— this will cost him a few million bucks— there isn’t any guarantee that Udoka will get his job back when the suspension is over.

Celtics made the NBA Finals last year, for the first time in 12 years- that was Udoka’s first year as Boston’s head coach. Assistant coach Joe Mazzulla is the interim head coach.

— Juan Soto’s stats this year:
with Washington: 101 games, 21 homers, 46 RBI, 62 runs, .894 OPS
with San Diego: 40 games, 4 homers, 13 RBI, 25 runs, .769 OPS

He’s leading the league in walks for the second year in a row; maybe he should bat leadoff.

— Seattle star Julio Rodriguez left Thursday’s game in the first inning with lower back issues; Mariners will need him healthy if they’re going to make noise in the playoffs. 

— Brewers 5, Reds 1— Kolten Wong hit three home runs; Milwaukee is 2.5 games out of the last playoff slot with 12 days left in the season.

— A’s play the Mets this weekend; as an A’s fan, this should be a thoroughly depressing weekend. Not only are the A’s awful, Mets have three of their guys from last year’s Oakland team.

How did I become an A’s fan?, you ask. OK, you probably didn’t ask, but way back in 1965, when I was five years old, my grandparents gave me a box filled with baseball cards. Spent that day opening packs of cards and sorting them by team.

Back then, rookie cards had four prospects on the same card, with their minor league stats on the back. One of the prospects on the A’s rookie card had no minor league stats; he had been shot in the foot in a hunting accident.

Not only that, but they misspelled his name on the back of the card. I noticed this, took the card and showed it to my dad, saying “This guy is my favorite player”

What are the odds that the player would wind up in the Hall of Fame?

Jim “Catfish” Hunter became an awesome pitcher, helping the A’s win three straight World Series. Was fun to be in Cooperstown in 1987, the day he got inducted into the Hall of Fame, all because of the baseball cards I was given in 1965. 

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

13) Since 1999, only 13 NFL teams have trailed a game by 17+ points after the third quarter and rallied to win the game, which figured to have been an emotional win.

Those 13 teams went 10-3 ATS in their next game after the big comeback.

Dolphins fit that role this week; they beat the Ravens last week, after trailing 35-14 with 15:00 to play. Miami is getting 5.5 points at home from Buffalo this week.

12) I watch a ton of baseball, every day; some announce teams are great to listen to, some are fun to listen to, others…….I just hit the mute button.

The best announce teams are like two friends sitting in a room, talking about ball, and I get to eavesdrop on their conversation.

Cubs have struck gold by adding Joe Girardi to their announce team. He was a manager and he was a catcher, so he’s always had to think the game, which makes him a better analyst. Always learn stuff listening to Jon Sciambi/Girardi on Cubs’ games. 

11) Cubs 2B Esteban Quiroz is a 30-year old rookie who just got called up to the majors for the first time. Before he played in the majors, Quiroz played in 1,093 games in the minors and the Mexican League. Can you imagine how excited he was to finally get the call to The Show?

So far, Quiroz is in four big league games. 

10) Kansas City Royals fired lead baseball executive Dayton Moore Wednesday; he had been in that job since 2006. Royals won back-to-back AL pennants in 2014 and 2015, winning the World Series in 2015, but their rebuild after the World Series title has been a disaster. 

9) Detroit Tigers hired 35-year old Scott Harris as their new president of baseball operations; he comes to Detroit after three seasons in San Francisco, which followed seven years with the Chicago Cubs- he was there was the Cubs won the 2016 World Series.

Detroit hasn’t made the playoffs since 2014; they spent some more $$$ this year but they’re still awful. Tigers haven’t won the World Series since 1984. 

8) I’m wondering, with lot of NFL teams not playing their main guys in the preseason, is it a smart thing to bet games in the first couple weeks of the season? Would it be smarter to sit back and watch for 2-3 weeks before making some plays?

Under is 21-10-1 in the NFL so far; defense is head of offense right now. Way ahead. 

7) New York 14, Pittsburgh 2— Before this season, Aaron Judge turned down a contract worth $31M a year; he’s going to make way more next year.

This season, the Pirates’ entire payroll is $59,361,373. For the whole freakin’ team. 

6) If the playoffs started today (they do not):
NL: Mets, Cardinals, Dodgers. Wild Cards: Braves, Padres, Phillies
AL: New York, Guardians, Astros. Wild Cards: Blue Jays, Rays, Mariners

5) Wild card races: 

NL— Milwaukee is 2.5 games behind Philly for the last playoff spot.
AL— Orioles trail Seattle by four games; White Sox trail Seattle by 5.5 games. 

4) Iowa plays Rutgers in college football this week; why are these teams in the same league? According to MapQuest, the two schools are 992 miles apart. It makes no sense, and will make even less sense when USC/UCLA join the Big 14.

3) Dodgers’ OF Joey Gallo grew up in Las Vegas, went to Bishop Gorman HS; on the day of his high school prom, Gallo threw a no-hitter during the day, then went to the prom that night with the daughter of Hall of Fame pitcher Greg Maddux.

2) Robert Sarver has begun the process to sell the NBA’s Phoenix Suns, after the league fined and suspended him for various inappropriate conduct. Sarver bought the Suns for $400M in 2004; now they’re valued by Forbes at $1.8B. He’s going to walk away with a boatload of $$$.

1) Odds of 0-2 NFL teams to make the playoffs this year:
+110— Colts
+145— Bengals
+165— Titans
+250— Raiders
+550— Panthers

Wednesday’s Den: NFL teams and 3/outs…….

Thru two weeks, this is how NFL teams did with 3/outs, both offense and defense.
Offense:
.100— 49ers 2-20
49ers have had 20 drives, went 3/out only 2 times.
.111— Broncos 2-18
.118— Dolphins 2-17
.136— Jets 3-22
.150— Browns 3-20
.158— Eagles 3-19
.176— Packers 3-17
.188— Seahawks 3-16
.190— Chiefs 4-19
.200— Ravens 4-20
.211— Falcons 4-19
.222— Cardinals 4-18
.238— Cowboys 5-21
.250— Panthers 5-20
.261— Bengals 6-23
.263— Bills, Raiders, both 5-19
.286— Jaguars, Bucs, both 6-21
.294— Patriots 5-17
.300— Rams 6-20
.304— Colts .304
.333— Giants, Chargers both 7-21
.350— Vikings 7-20
.381— Titans, Steelers, both 8-21
.391— Lions 9-23
.400— Saints 10-25, Commanders 8-20
.409— Texans 9-22
.500— Bears 9-18

Defense
.455— Colts 10-22
.450— Eagles 9-20
.417— Bucs 10-24
.389— Packers 7-18
.350— Bills, Chiefs, both 7-20
.333— Titans, Jaguars, both 7-21, Patriots 5-15
.318— Falcons, Lions, both 7-22
.316— 49ers 6-19
.300— Browns, Chargers both 6-20
.294— Broncos, Dolphins both 5-17
.286— Giants 6-21
.263— Cowboys 5-19
.261— Bengals, Steelers, both 6-23
.250— Commanders 6-24
.238— Panthers 5-21
.222— Rams 4-22
.211— Raiders, Vikings 4-19
.200— Jets 4-20
.182— Texans 4-22
.167— Bears 3-18
.150— Cardinals 3-20
.091— Ravens
.000— Seahawks 0-18

In two games, Seattle’s defense has been on field for 18 drives, hasn’t forced a 3/out yet. 

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

Bills 41, Titans 7
— Last six quarters, Titans were outscored, 62-14.
Tennessee had a bad night:
— gave up 6 touchdowns
— lost yardage on 8 plays
— had 9 penalties
— scored only 7 points.
— turned ball over 4 times.

Titans are 0-2 for first time in ten years. 

— Buffalo outgained first two opponents, 827-430
— Last 2+ years, Buffalo is 10-5 ATS as a home favorite.
— Last 2+ years, Buffalo is 13-8 ATS coming off a win
— Bills converted 14-23 third down plays in two games

Eagles 24, Vikings 7:
— Philly outgained the Vikings, 486-264.
— Minnesota threw 46 passes, ran ball only 11 times.
— Last 4+ years, Minnesota is 13-15 ATS in games with spread of 3 or less.
— Cousins is now 2-10 on Monday Night Football. 

— Eagles converted 7-13 on third down, Vikings 4-12.
— All three of their TD drives were longer than 80 yards.
— Eagles ran ball for 216-163 yards in their first two games.
— Philly won easily despite losing field position by 17 yards.

— Thru two weeks, under is 21-10-1 in NFL games, 6-1 in prime time games. Is it too early to expect offenses to be sharp? Not playing key players in exhibition games may be setting offenses back in the first few weeks of the season.

— Tampa Bay WR Mike Evans is suspended for this week’s game with Green Bay, after he was in a fracas in New Orleans Sunday.

— When the Giants hired Brian Daboll as their new head coach, they were the sixth team Daboll had interviewed with to be head coach, which means that five other teams missed the boat. He is off to a very fast start changing the culture in New Jersey.

— 6,133 people entered the Circa Casino survivor pool; after two weeks, 2,033 people are left. Only 33.1% of contestants are left. All they have to do is pick one winner a week (no spread) but it ain’t that easy.

— Teams that have gone the longest since they were 2-0:
new Cleveland Browns- never (old Browns (now Ravens) were 2-0 in 1993)
Indianapolis Colts- 2009
Washington Commanders- 2011
Chargers- 2012

— We overreact to early season results; last year, the #1-seed in each conference, Packers and Titans, lost their Week 1 games by a combined 60 points. It is a long season; coaching matters, as does luck avoiding injuries.

— Arizona’s Zac Gallen recently tossed 44 consecutive scoreless innings, setting the franchise record. The previous record holder was Brandon Webb in 2007, who had a 41-inning streak; in his great streak, Webb struck out only 35 batters.

Odd coincidence is that both Webb/Gallen was/is on my fantasy team, luckily for me.

— In his start against the Pirates Sunday, Jacob deGrom threw 101 pitches; only six of those pitches were put in play, and four of those were hits. He got 20 called strikes, 20 swinging strikes, 22 foul balls. 

— deGrom’s Mets clinched a playoff spot Monday night; Buck Showalter has now led four teams to the playoffs- both New York teams, Arizona and Baltimore.

— There was a I-AA football game on TV Saturday, Albany at Fordham. Fordham’s mascot is the Ram, but for some reason, Fordham just has dark red helmets with a black F on them, no Rams’ horns, which seems like a wasted opportunity to have awesome helmets.

Fordham won the game 48-45; it looked like Arena Football, not much defense.

— Arizona State fired football coach Herm Edwards after the Sun Devils lost as a 20-point home favorite to Eastern Michigan Saturday night.

— So far this football season, Pac-12 teams are 6-2 ATS against Mountain West opponents; the past couple seasons, Mountain West teams have had the edge ATS in those games.

— Braves’ 2B Ozzie Albies came back from an injury last week, then broke his pinky finger the next day, bad news for Atlanta.

— In the great TV show M*A*S*H, Alan Alda (Hawkeye Pierce) was the only cast member who appeared in every episode. 

Monday’s Den: Wrapping up an NFL Sunday……

Dolphins 42, Ravens 38:
— Ravens led 35-14 after the third quarter.
— Miami scored 28 points in 4th quarter for first time ever.
— Dolphins won game on 7-yard TD pass with 0:14 left.
— Tagovailoa threw for 469 yards and six TD’s.
— Hill caught 11 balls for 190 yards, Waddle 11 for 171. 

— Ravens ran opening kick of game back for a TD.
— Jackson ran 79 yards for a TD, threw a 75-yard TD pass.
— Both teams had six plays each of 20+ yards.
— Ravens in first half: 31 plays, 295 yards, 16 first downs, 21 points.
— Ravens in second half: 24 plays, 199 yards, 7 first downs, 10 points.

Jets 31, Browns 30:
— Jets scored two TD’s in last 1:22 to pull off an amazing comeback.
— Jets recovered an onside kick that set up the winning TD. 
— According to ESPN Stats, teams had won 2,229 consecutive games when leading by 13+ points in the final 2:00.
— 37-year old Flacco threw for 307 yards and four TD’s.

— Cleveland scored 57 points in first two games, but this is a horrendous loss.
— Browns ran for 184 yards here, 401 yards in two games.
— Jets won seven of last nine series games.
— Jets were 8-15 on third down, Cleveland 8-12.
— Since 2005, Browns are 5-13 ATS in home openers
— Since 1999, Browns are 0-9 ATS as a favorite in home openers. 

Lions 36, Commanders 27:
— Washington in 1st half: 26 plays, 39 yards, 2 first downs, no points.
— Washington in 2nd half: 45 plays, 340 yards, 19 first downs, 27 points.
— Wentz threw for 337 yards, much of it in garbage time.
— Detroit won six of last seven series games.
— Commanders scored 55 points in their first two games (1-1).

— Detroit led this game 22-0 at halftime.
— St Brown caught nine passes for 116 yards, two TD’s.
— Lions have scored 9 TD’s on their first 23 drives this year.
— Under Campbell, Lions are 4-15-1 SU, 13-6 ATS.
— Over is 18-7-1 in their last 26 home games.

Jaguars 24, Colts 0
— Colts lost last eight visits to Jacksonville; they were favored in 6 of 8.
— Indy has been outscored 27-3 in first half this year.
— Colts were 2-10 on 3rd down, had only nine first downs.
— Ryan threw three INT’s, went scoreless in two trips to red zone.
— In two games, they’ve scored 17 points in seven trips to red zone.

— Jaguars outgained Colts 331-218.
— Jacksonville scored two TD’s, FG on their first four drives.
— Home side won last eight series games.
— Under is 4-1 in last five series games.

Buccaneers 20, Saints 10:
— Game was 3-3 after three quarters.
— Tampa Bay has allowed one TD on 24 drives in two games.
— Tampa Bay has scored two TD’s on 21 drives in two games.
— Bucs scored on a pick-6 with 4:11 left.
— Tampa Bay won field position by 12 yards.
— With Brady at QB, Bucs are 4-0 ATS in games with spread of 3 or less points.

— New Orleans turned ball over five times (minus-4)
— QB Winston was sacked six times, in addition to the turnovers.
— According to Jay Glazer on TV, Winston is playing with four fractures in his back.
— Saints are 1-7 ATS in last eight home openers.
— New Orleans had only one play of 20+ yards.

Giants 19, Panthers 16:
— Carolina lost first two games, by 2-3 points.
— Panthers gained 261-275 yards in their first two games.
— Carolina converted only 2-12 third down plays in this game.
— Panthers fumbled away opening kick, then fumbled again on first series.
— Last 3+ years, Carolina is 15-36 SU.

— Giants won first two games, by 1-3 points.
— Giants scored only 6 first half points in two games.
— Big Blue has converted only 8-28 third down plays.
— Giants are 2-0 for first time since 2016.
— Under is 9-0 in their last nine home openers.

Patriots (0-1) @ Steelers (1-0)
— Patriots outgained Pittsburgh, 376-243.
— New England converted 9-17 third down plays.
— New England scored 7-17 points in its first two games.
— Last 6+ years, under is 33-16-1 in their road games.
— New England won six of last seven series games.

— Steelers gained 267-243 yards in first two games.
— Pitt had a 16-play drive that took 7:07, but gained only 48 yards and a FG.
— Steelers averaged only 4.2 yards per pass attempt.
— Steelers are 0-5 ATS in last five games as home underdogs.

Rams 31, Falcons 27:
— Falcons first drive: 13 plays, 8:06 off clock, missed FG.
— Atlanta blocked punt for TD with 4:57 left to get within 31-25.
— Ramsey picked off Mariota in red zone with 1:07 left to preserve the win.
— Falcons converted 3-10 on third down, Rams 6-10.
— Last 2+ years, Falcons are 9-6 ATS as a road underdog.

— Rams scored TD’s on four of their first five drives.
— They also turned ball over three times, had punt blocked for TD.
— Kupp caught 11 balls for 108 yards, despite no targets in first quarter.
— Rams outgained Atlanta, 337-261.
— Buffalo was 9-10 on 3rd down LW; Falcons were only 3-10.

Seahawks (1-0) @ 49ers (0-1)
— Seattle’s only TD was an 86-yard return of a blocked field goal.
— Seahawks were outgained 373-216, running for 36 yards.
— In two games, Seattle ran 37 second half plays for 110 yards.
— Geno Smith is 14-22 as an NFL starter.
— Seahawks had only one play of 20+ yards.

— QB Lance broke his ankle early, is out for the year.
— Garoppolo threw for 154 yards and a TD.
— 49ers won field position by ten yards.
— In first two games, 49ers ran for 176-139 yards
— Before this game, 49ers had lost 15 of last 17 series games.

Cowboys 20, Bengals 17:
— Bengals’ only TD of day tied game 17-17 with 3:45 left.
— Cincinnati had only one play of 20+ yards.
— Burrow got sacked six times (13 times in two games)
— Dallas outgained the Bengals, 337-254.

— Maher kicked a 50-yard FG at the gun for the walk-off win.
— Maher also kicked a 54-yard FG at end of the first half.
— Dallas was 3-10 on third down, Bengals 6-17.
— Last 4+ years, Dallas is 7-1 ATS as a home underdog.
— QB Rush is now 2-0 as an NFL starter, winning 20-16 at Minnesota LY.

Broncos 16, Texans 9:
— Game was 6-6 at halftime.
— Houston has been outgained 867-533 in two games.
— Texans are 0-1-1 SU, but covered both games.
— Since 2016, under is 22-15-3 in their road games.
— 2nd-year QB Mills is 2-10-1 as an NFL starter

— Denver’s only TD was the game-winner with 12:37 left.
— Wilson completed only 6-17 passes in first half.
— Denver converted 3-12 on third down, Houston 2-13.
— Broncos outgained first two foes, 783-487.
— Since 2017, Denver is 6-13-1 ATS as a home favorite.

Cardinals 29, Raiders 23 OT
— Arizona tied game on a Murray run/2-point pass with 0:00 left.
— Arizona won game on a 59-yard fumble return in OT
— Cardinals in first half: 19 plays, 71 yards, no points.
— Cardinals in 2nd half/OT: 59 plays, 325 yards, 23 points.
— Fumble return TD was the longest one in OT in NFL history.

— Raiders in first half: 40 plays, 236 yards, 20 points.
— Raiders in 2nd half/OT: 24 plays, 115 yards, 3 points.
— Las Vegas converted 6-11 on third down, Arizona 3-13.
— Last five years, Raiders are 7-13-2 ATS vs NFC teams.
— Derek Carr is 57-73 as an NFL starter.

Packers 27, Bears 10:
— Bears drove 71 yards for a TD on their first drive.
— Rest of game: 35 plays, 142 yards, 7 first downs, 3 points.
— Last 3+ years, Chicago is 7-12 ATS as a road underdog.
— How does a team lose 27-10 and throw only 11 passes?
— Bears were outgained 745-432 in their first two games.
— 2nd-year QB Fields is 3-9 as an NFL starter.

— Rodgers is now 24-5 in his career against Chicago.
— Bears are 1-6 ATS in last six visits to Lambeau Field.
— Green Bay scored 3 TD’s and FG on first five drives.
— Last 3+ years, Packers are 17-7 ATS as a home favorite.
— Last 3+ years, Green Bay is 10-0 ATS off a SU loss.

 

Sunday’s Den: Wrapping up a college football Saturday……

Kansas 48, Houston 30
Lance Leipold is the coach at Kansas; he won five D-III national titles coaching Wisconsin–Whitewater- you win five national titles at any level, you’re a damn good coach. Then he went to Buffalo, and went 24-10 his last three years there.

This is his second year at Kansas; Jayhawks are 3-0, and have won consecutive road games by 10+ points for the first time since 1995. Kansas is 3-1 in its last four road games, after they had been 2-64 in their previous 66 road tilts.

I’m guessing he’ll be getting a phone call from Nebraska fairly soon.

Appalachian State 32 (-13.5), Troy State 28
App State scored on a 53-yard Hail Mary as time expired for the win.
Troy took an intentional safety to improve field position with 0:20 left- they led 28-26 after the safety.
Check out the highlights on TV; App State pulled one out of the hat here.

UCLA 32, South Alabama 31
UCLA kicked a 24-yard FG on last play for the win.
USA led 31-29, but eschewed a 39-yard FG with 3:00 left and tried for a game-clinching first down with a fake field goal, which failed badly. Bruins then drove for the winning score.
UCLA outscored South Alabama 9-0 in fourth quarter.

Arizona 31, North Dakota State 28
I-AA North Dakota State was a 3-point favorite in this game.
Bison ran 57 plays; only 7 of them were on third down.
Arizona threw a 22-yard TD pass with 4:53 left for the win. 

Syracuse 32, Purdue 29
Syracuse threw a 25-yard TD pass with 0:07 left for the win.
Purdue led 9-3 at halftime.
There were 42 points scored in the 4th quarter.
Purdue QB O’Connell threw for 424 yards and 3 TD’s, but also threw a pick-6.
Boilers missed a PAT and two field goals- they had 13 penalties for 138 yards.

Washington 39, Michigan State 28
Huskies led 29-8 at halftime.
Indiana transfer QB Michael Penix threw for 397 yards, four TD’s.

Indiana 33, Western Kentucky 30 OT
Hoosiers scored TD/2-point conversion with 0:47 left to force OT.
WKU led 24-13 after three quarters.
Hilltoppers outgained Indiana, 545-484
Indiana won game with a 51-yard FG in overtime.

Wake Forest 37, Liberty 36
17-point favorite Deacons led 20-8 at halftime.
Liberty scored TD with 1:11 left, went for 2 points and the lead, but failed.
Flames outgained Wake Forest, 437-346
Liberty turned ball over four times (minus-2)
Wake ran ball 26 times for only 21 yards.

Rutgers 16, Temple 14
Temple’s QB is freshman EJ Warner, son of NFL Hall of Famer Kurt Warner; he was 19-32 for 215 yards passing in this game.

Florida 31, South Florida 28
Gators blew a 24-10 lead, scored game-winning TD with 5:05 left.
USF missed a 49-yard field goal with 0:23 left.
Florida was 23-point favorite; if they were ranked #18 last week, they should be lower after this.
USF ran for 286 yards, ran 74 plays- they outgained Florida 402-329.

Arkansas 38, Missouri State 27
I-AA Missouri State led 17-0 with 9:00 left in 2nd quarter, led 27-17 with 12:00 left in game.
Arkansas gained 597 yards, but turned ball over three times (minus-3)
Razorbacks averaged 12.4 yards/pass attempt. 

Charlotte 42, Georgia State 41
20-point underdog Charlotte scored TD with 0:17 left for the win.
49ers threw for 401 yards and 5 TD’s; Georgia State ran for 259 yards. Panthers gained 602 yards and lost.

Eastern Michigan 30, Arizona State 21
Big late-night upset out west.
Eagles led 24-14 at halftime.

Oregon 41, BYU 20
Ducks led 38-7 after three quarters.
Oregon ran for 212 yards, averaged 11.4 yards/pass attempt.
Ducks lost 49-3 to Georgia; how freakin’ good is Georgia?

Upsets of the Week:
Charlotte (+20) 42, Georgia State 41
Eastern Michigan (+20) 30, Arizona State 21
Bowling Green (+17) 34, Marshall 31 OT
Wyoming (+16.5) 17, Air Force 14
Tulane (+13.5) 17, Kansas State 10
Rice (+11) 33, Louisiana 21
Kansas (+9) 48, Houston 30

Also, I-AA Southern Illinois beat Northwestern 31-24. 

Saturday’s Den: Clearing out a cluttered mind…….

— Was lying in bed Friday morning, heard a truck go up my street; as it went past my house, I heard a thud, which didn’t sound good.

Quickly got up and looked out the front door; it was a damn tractor trailer that went up my street, and it ripped down a wire that went over the street and was attached to my house— the wire was now hanging on a tree on my front lawn. There should never be a tractor trailer on my street; it is a suburban side street, for Pete’s sake.

No bueno.

The genius driving the tractor trailer stopped the truck two houses up, before he ripped down anyone else’s wires. Police were called, I called the power company (National Grid) to see how to get the damn wire fixed. Not an ideal start to the day.

Luckily for me, the wire involved was an old Verizon phone wire; I don’t have a land-line phone anymore, so it really didn’t matter. When the guy from National Grid came, he offered to cut the wire and secure the rest of it to the house, so I appreciate his efforts.

The policeman was a good guy; he said this happens more than you would think.

The genius truck driver had to back his truck down the street to get off the street without causing any more damage. He had been whining on the phone while he waited for the police that this was only his 3rd delivery of the day, so he probably had a cruddy Friday.

Could’ve been a lot worse, but it was a weird start to the day.

Florida State 35, Louisville 31
Seminoles’ WR Wilson caught 7 passes for 149 yards and two TD’s.
FSU’s #1 QB got hurt; backup Rodemaker threw for 109 yards, 2 TD’s.
Florida State has two I-A wins; 24-23 over LSU and this game.
Louisville was hurt by 11 penalties for 81 yards.

Wyoming 17, Air Force 14
Underdog Cowboys led 10-0 at halftime.
Wyoming outgained Air Force, 342-272
Flyboys ran for only 171 yards, but they did pass for 101 yards.
Air Force is now 0-6 ATS in last six visits to Laramie.

=- Chargers’ QB Justin Herbert has a fracture in his rib cartilage; Bolts host the Jaguars in Week 3. Sounds like it’ll be a pain management thing for Herbert, as to whether he plays or not.

If Herbert gets a pain-killing shot next week, hopefully the Chargers’ doctor will be a little more careful than he was two years ago, when he accidentally punctured Tyrod Taylor’s lung with a shot just before a Chargers-Bengals game, which quickly became Herbert’s first NFL start.

— In his 6-year NFL career (76 starts), Patrick Mahomes’ Chiefs have been behind by 10+ points 20 times- they’re 11-9 in those games.

That is the best record of any NFL QB ever (with 20+ starts); Tom Brady has next-best %age (39-61) in games where his team trailed by 10+ points.

  Vikings’ QB Kirk Cousins has a 2-9 record on Monday Night Football.

— Texas A&M is switching QB’s; Max Johnson gets the nod for the Aggies when they host Miami in College Station Saturday night. Johnson started 14 games at LSU; when you lose at home to Appalachian State, fingers are going to be pointed— the previous starting QB, Haynes King, threw for only 97 yards against App State last week.

— Tennessee football coach Josh Heupel got a 1-year contract extension (thru 2027); he will now make $5M a year.

— Back in June, Arch Manning made a recruiting visit to Texas; he and nine other recruits spent the weekend in Austin. Manning wound up signing with the Longhorns.

According to The Athletic, the school spent $280,000 on that recruiting weekend:
— 5-star hotel
— airfare, cars
— open bar for the parents
— custom cakes
— TopGolf
— an ice sculpture
— a lake cruise
Recruiting is big business.

— Characters in TV shows/movies rarely watch TV; why is that?

— September 16, 1975; Pirates’ 2B Rennie Stennett went 7-7 in a nine-inning game, the only time that has ever happened in MLB history. Pittsburgh beat the Cubs 22-0 that day.

— This week in 1972, The Bob Newhart Show made its debut on CBS. That was an underrated show, right after Mary Tyler Moore’s show on Saturday nights.

— Guardians 4, Twins 3— Minnesota led 3-0 in 7th inning.

— Cardinals 6, Reds 5— Albert Pujols hit his 698th career homer.

— Nationals 5, Marlins 4— Joey Meneses hit an inside-the-park homer; Washington came from behind after trailing 4-0 in 7th inning.

— Braves 7, Phillies 2— Atlanta scored six runs in bottom of 8th inning.

— Friday night, two pitchers got removed from their starts after throwing five no-hit innings, Justin Verlander with the Astros, Dustin May with the Dodgers. 

— Angels 8, Mariners 7— Rengifo hit a homer from both sides of the plate; Santana homered twice for Seattle.

— Dennis Schroder signed a one-year deal with the Lakers for $2.6M.

— If the baseball playoffs started today (they don’t):

NL Mets, Cardinals, Dodgers. Wild Cards- Braves, Phillies, Padres
AL New York, Guardians, Astros. Wild Cards- Blue Jays, Mariners, Rays

— Wild Card race:
NL— Milwaukee is 1.5 games behind San Diego, the 3rd Wild Card right now.
AL— Orioles trail the 3rd Wild Card by 4.5 games, White Sox trail by 6.5, Twins by 7.5. 

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

Chiefs 27, Chargers 24
— Game swung on 99-yard pick-6 by Jaylen Watson, with 10:29 left.
— Chiefs’ offense scored six TD’s last week, had only two in this game.
— Chiefs won 14 of last 17 series games.
— Chargers got back-door cover on 4th-and-goal TD from 7 with 1:11 left.

— Chargers led 10-0 early in second quarter.
— Bolts converted only 5 of 16 third down plays.
— WR Williams caught 8 passes for 113 yards and a TD.
— Since 2015, Chargers are 22-12-2 ATS as road underdogs.

— Amazon’s first regular season NFL broadcast was good; not sure why they hired Kirk Herbstreit as their analyst, but he did fine. Al Michaels, obviously, was really good.

— I don’t think football was meant to be played on three days’ rest; if I had my choice, NFL would have a Monday night doubleheader every week and college teams would have the stage to themselves on Thursday/Friday.

Now, Thursday night NFL games bring in a boatload of $$$, or else they wouldn’t be played on Thursday. NFL is a lucrative business; they don’t give a rat’s ass what I think, but their product would be better with Monday games instead of Thursday games. 

— Several years ago, FOX was going to hire Jay Cutler as a TV analyst but Cutler signed on to play one more year, with the Dolphins, after Ryan Tannehill got hurt during training camp. He’s never re-surfaced in a TV booth, which is too bad. I’ve always been curious how he would’ve done analyzing games. 

Cutler was a QB for 12 years in the NFL; he had a stint on a reality show Very Cavallari with his then-wife Kristin Cavallari from 2018-20. He had a low-key sarcastic wit that made it seem like he would be good on TV. Would be interesting if some network put him on NFL games.

— Over the last 10 years, if you blindly wagered on every NFL team in Week 2 that had lost by 10+ points in Week 1, you would’ve gone 36-21-1 (61%) with those bets.

— Since 2010, NFL teams that lost in Week 1 are 57-40-1 ATS (58.8%) when facing a team that won in Week 1.

— Over last three seasons, NFL teams that started the season with back/back road games went 8-0 ATS in their Week 2 games.

— Since 2010, NFL teams that lost as an away favorite in Week 1 are 17-8-1 ATS in Week 2.

— Green Bay Packers are 9-0 ATS in their last nine games coming off a loss.

— Seattle S Jamal Adams is out for the year with a torn quadriceps tendon.

— My favorite football helmets:
NFL— Rams, Chargers, Saints
College— Clemson, Richmond

— White Sox 8, Guardians 2— Chicago is 11-5 under interim manager Miguel Cairo.

Cleveland P Hunter Gaddis gave up seven runs in 4 IP; he is only the 4th pitcher since 1920 to give up 7+ earned runs in each of his first two career starts.

— UConn announced that it agreed to pay former basketball coach Kevin Ollie another $3.9M to settle discrimination claims involved with his 2018 firing. UConn had previously paid Ollie $11.1M after there was a ruling that Ollie had been improperly fired. 

Ollie led UConn to a 127–79 record and the 2014 national championship in six seasons as head coach; they fired him after two losing seasons.

— During the Chargers-Chiefs games, they showed Roger Goodell in a luxury box with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. Al Michaels mentioned how Bezos doesn’t know how to play craps— the guy is smart, one of the richest people in the world. Guess it is surprising that he doesn’t know how to play craps, but he doesn’t believe in risking his money, which is why he is really, really rich.

September 1998, I was in Las Vegas with a buddy at the MGM Grand; my friend liked to play craps, so I watched him play for a while. The amount of $$$ on the table was staggering as people rolled the dice, trying to get on a roll. 

I had never seen anyone play craps, so I’m trying to process it; at one point my friend looked back at me and said “Don’t try to figure it out. Remember, it’s a crapshoot.”

He won some money that weekend, but damn, I’m too much of a cheapskate to risk money on the roll of a dice. Sure was interesting to watch, though. 

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

13) Circa Casino in Las Vegas has a big survivors’ pool; you pick one NFL team a week, and if they win, you stay in the pool. They lose, you’re out. Whoever lasts the longest wins the money.

6,133 people were in this pool; after ONE WEEK, only 2,685 people are left. 56.2% of the people in this pool couldn’t pick one winner (without a spread) in Week 1. Pretty amazing.

12) One of the many reasons that baseball is cool is that you often see stuff you’ve never seen before. Tuesday night in Miami, Sandy Alcantara had a 3-pitch inning against the Phillies, but he gave up a hit in the inning. I can never remember seeing that before.

1st batter— Bryce Harper got an infield hit, on the first pitch.
2nd batter— JT Realmuto flies out to right, on the first pitch.
3rd batter— Eric Bohm grounds into a 6-4-3 double play, on the first pitch.

I’m sure it has happened before, but don’t think I ever saw it before. Usually if the first two batters of an inning put the first pitch in play, the third batter takes the first pitch.

11) By the way, that was Alcantara’s sixth start this season against the Phillies, something we’ll never see again, because starting next year, division rivals are only going to play each other 12-13 times a season, as opposed to the 18-19 times they played each other this year.

This will help pitchers; the fewer times a hitter sees a pitcher, advantage pitcher. Eliminating the shift will obviously help hitters; it’ll be interesting next year to figure out how much it helps. 

10) Detroit Lions are favored by 2 points this week, the first time the Lions have been a favorite in their last 25 games, dating back to Week 11, 2020 vs Carolina. 

9) If you’re a Denver Broncos’ fan, how concerned are you that new coach Nathaniel Hackett may not be very savvy about game management?

QB Russell Wilson makes $45M a year; you would think, with 4th-and-5 on the 47-yard line and 1:01 and two timeouts left, a $45M-a-year QB could get a first down, which would almost assure Denver of a much more makeable field goal than the 64-yarder they appeared happy to try.

In the press conference after, while defending the strategy, Hackett tried to laugh it off; his bosses just paid $4.5B to buy the Broncos. I doubt they were laughing. On Wednesday, Hackett admitted the strategy was a mistake.

Not the best start to his head coaching career.

Do NFL teams quiz candidates about game strategy during their job interviews? This seems like an important part of the job.

8) With Dak Prescott out with an injured thumb, Dallas Cowboys are a 7.5-point home underdog against Cincinnati this week. Cowboys have covered their last six games as a home dog; they were a 14-point home dog against Pittsburgh two years ago, when Prescott was also hurt- they lost that game 24-19. 

7) Adam Wainwright/Yadier Molina set a major league record Wednesday, starting their 325th game together as the St Louis Cardinals’ battery. Previous record was held by Mickey Lolich, Bill Freehan with the Tigers back in the 60’s. 

6) NBA suspended Phoenix Suns’ owner Robert Sarver for a year, fined him $10M after an investigation found “…….conduct that clearly violated common workplace standards, as reflected in team and league rules and policies.” The investigation included interviews with more than 320 current and former employees as well as Sarver.

The average NBA salary is worth $2.58B, so $10M is a drop in the bucket to Sarver.  

5) Florida State is a road favorite at Louisville this week; it is the first time since 2018 that the Seminoles are favored in a road game. Doesn’t seem possible, but it is true. 

4) Indianapolis Colts cut kicker Rodrigo Blankenship after he missed a field goal in overtime Sunday; pro sports are a results-oriented business. Colts signed two kickers to come in and compete for the kicking job; Indianapolis visits Jacksonville this week.

3) Pretty good college basketball twinbill in Fort Worth December 3rd; Texas A&M plays Boise State, Houston plays Saint Mary’s. 

2) Three NFL teams that lost last week (49ers, Rams, Cowboys) are favored by 8+ points this week; none of those three teams score more than 10 points last week. 

1) Cubs 6, Mets 3— Chicago sweeps the Mets, first time this season they’ve been swept in a series. Mets are 4-7 in their last 11 games, against Nationals, Pirates, Marlins, Cubs- they lead the NL East by only a half-game over Atlanta. 

Wednesday’s Den: How MLB teams have fared in close games……

Looking at how teams do in games where winning run scored from 7th inning on:
Successful teams
— Toronto 26-14— 14-9 on road, 12-5 at home. Blue Jays fired their manager, have an interim skipper now- they’re 29-17 in one-run games.

— Cleveland 27-15— 16-8 on road, 11-7 at home; Terry Francona is an excellent manager.

— St Louis 22-12— 11-3 on road, 11-9 at home. Cardinals are 21-14 in one-run games.

— Dodgers 20-12— LA is 12-13 in 0ne-run games, 85-30 in games decided by more than one run. If you bet the Dodgers, lay 1.5 runs.

— Baltimore 20-13— 5-9 on road, 15-4 at home. Brandon Hyde is your Manager of the Year.

— White Sox 25-18— 9-9 on road, 16-9 at home; they’re 23-15 in one-run games.

— Milwaukee 23-17— 14-12 on road, 9-5 at home. Lot more drama in their road games.

— Seattle 24-18— Mariners were 33-19 in one-run games last year, are 29-17 this year; Scott Servais is going to have Seattle in the playoffs for the first time since 2001.

Team in the middle:
— Bronx 23-23— 7-14 on road, 16-9 at home.

Unsuccessful teams
— Angels 11-23— 5-10 on road, 6-13 at home; they’re 14-25 in one-run games. Firing Joe Maddon didn’t help their situation any.

— Minnesota 12-24— 4-13 on road, 8-11 at home; they’re 2-8 in last 10 games overall.

— San Francisco 13-23— 7-16 on road, 6-7 at home. 19-26 in one-run games. Overall, they’re 68-73, after going 107-55 last year.

— Oakland 14-23— 8-9 on road, 6-14 at home. I think Mark Kotsay has done a good job, managing a team which has, in reality, a glorified AAA roster.

— Boston 15-23— 8-13 on road, 7-10 at home; they’re 22-23 in one-run games, but overall are 69-72, after going 92-70 last year.

— Cubs 19-27— 9-13 on road, 10-14 at home; Chicago is a big market. Why do the Cubs have such a cruddy team? 71-91 last year, 59-82 this year. Hmmmmm

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

Seahawks 17, Broncos 16:
— Denver lost two fumbles inside Seattle’s 5-yard line.
— Broncos were in red zone four times, scored total of 6 points.
— Seahawks outgained Denver, 433-253.
— Denver missed a 64-yard FG on their last series; I’ll be kind and say their game management wasn’t ideal on that series— they had time to try and get a lot closer.
— Last 5+ years, Broncos are 5-7 ATS as a road favorite.

— Seattle didn’t score in second half, still won.
— Seahawks in 2nd half: 18 plays, 47 yards, zero points.
— Last 4+ years, Seattle is 12-5-1 ATS vs AFC teams.
— Last 10+ years, Seahawks are 9-2 ATS as a home underdog.
— Both teams converted over half their 3rd down plays. 

— Last four years, NFL coaches in their first year with a new team are now 0-12 ATS as Week 1 favorites.

— Cowboys’ QB Dak Prescott is out 6-8 weeks after having thumb surgery Monday; for now, Cooper Rush is the Cowboys’ starting QB. 

That is how fragile all these NFL teams are; Prescott’s injury was similar to the one Russell Wilson had last year— his passing hand hit a defender’s hand as he threw the ball, something that happens all the time. And now Dallas is screwed, without its QB for 6-8 weeks. 

— There is a quirk to the NFL schedule this week; two games on Monday night, but not a doubleheader- the games will be staggered.

Titans-Bills play at 7:15 in Buffalo on ESPN, Vikings-Eagles play in Philadelphia at 8:30 on ABC.  

— Ravens’ QB Lamar Jackson apparently turned down a long-term deal worth up to $290M, with $133M of that fully guaranteed, a better deal than either Kyler Murray or Russell Wilson got. Lot of money turn down.

Jackson is his own agent; he is trying to earn more than the $230M guaranteed Deshaun Watson got from Cleveland. Good luck with that.

— When a college football team fires its coach on September 11, something is screwed up. I know Nebraska was favored by 11 and 23 points in its two losses, but you’re not going to hire a new coach full-time until December, at the earliest.

When the big-money boosters are calling the shots, hasty decisions are made. Nebraska was really, really good at football for a long time, but those days are over now— moving to the Big 14 hasn’t helped their situation any.

Will be very interesting to see who their next coach is; there are high expectations, but where are they getting their players from?  

—Steelers’ LB TJ Watt tore a pectoral muscle, is out at least six weeks. 

— Last year, Kansas City Chiefs led the NFL, averaging 161 yards after catch (YAC) per game; Sunday, with Tyreek Hill in Miami now, Chiefs gained 192 YAC, so they’re doing the same stuff, just with some new people. 

— Over the last three seasons, NFL teams that led by 15+ points in 4th quarter:

Atlanta Falcons: 5-3
other 31 teams: 245-2-1

— Under Kyle Shanahan, the 49ers are 39-43 in the regular season:
31-14 when Jimmy Garoppolo starts at QB
8-29 when anyone starts at QB

— Guardians 5, Angels 4— Mike Trout has homered in seven straight games, one short of the all-time record. Trout is the first right-handed hitter to homer in seven straight games since 2006, when Kevin Mench did it.

Angels have now lost 18 of their last 19 games in Cleveland.

— Saturday was the first time since 1978 that four college football teams that were all favored by 17.5 or more points all lost on the same day. 

— Kentucky beat Florida in football the last two seasons, first time that has happened since 1976-77, when Fran Curci was Kentucky’s coach, and Doug Dickey was the Gators’ coach.

— Last 20 years, six NFL QB’s played in Week 1 against the team they played for the year before:
2005— Kurt Warner vs Giants— L
2007— Josh McCown vs Detroit— L
2008— Chad Pennington vs Jets— L
2021— Sam Darnold vs Jets— W
2022— Baker Mayfield vs Browns— L
2022— Russell Wilson vs Seahawks— L