Friday’s List of 13: Things I’m looking for this weekend…….

13) Average total in Falcons’ games this year is 61.1; Packers were held to 14-16 in their two losses, scored 23+ in their wins. You do the math.

12) Don’t sleep on Navy-South Florida Friday night; Middies run the ball down your throat but USF has really good speed, so we’ll see. Tough to prepare for the Navy option game. Navy is also 24-10 as a road underdog.

11) Houston is 4-0 at home, 0-3 on the road; Texans have a short week after losing in Denver Monday night. Every Detroit game is close; they’re fun to watch. All seven Lion games were decided by 7 or less points.

10) TCU beat Texas Tech 55-52/82-28 last two years; not like the Red Riders are any better on defense now, but Horned Frogs are lot younger- they struggled to beat Kansas 24-23 two weeks ago.

9) Jimmy Graham was a great player for the Saints, but in Seattle? Not so much. Seahawks are in the Superdome this week. Interesting game.

8) World Series visits Wrigley Field for first time since 1945. Teams split first two games in Cleveland. Schwarber sits; no DH in NL parks.

7) New England actually has a revenge motive this week in Buffalo. Bills blanked Patriots 16-0 in Week 4, the last game of the Jacoby Brissett era in Foxboro.

6) Baylor-Texas are not friendly rivals; lot of chirping goes back/forth on the recruiting trail. Unbeaten Bears might send Charlie Strong packing with a win in Austin.

5) Cleveland Browns signed QB Joe Callahan this week, who played college ball at D-III Wesley College in Delaware; he had been with Packers/Saints this year and if McCarthy/Payton have an interest in a QB, this kid may be pretty good. Browns have used six QBs in seven weeks, so not like the kid could be any worse.

4) Nebraska is unbeaten and a 9-point underdog in Madison, where they were smoked in last two visits. Badgers have played a very tough schedule so far.

3) Eagles-Cowboys on Sunday Night Football, with two rookie QB’s. Teams that were hot going into their bye week have stumbled a little coming out of the bye. This should be a good game.

2) Clemson-Florida State in Tallahassee is an ACC classic; Seminoles are thin on defense, but coming off a bye (which they badly needed) am curious to see how FSU does. Last time Clemson went to Tallahassee as the higher-rated team? 1989.

1) Huge trap game for the Vikings in Chicago Monday night, with Jay Cutler expected back for the Bears. Minnesota was sloppy (four turnovers) in Philly last week; need to right the ship.

Thursday’s 6-pack, Quote and Quiz of the Day

***Baseball information is on the MLB2 page.***

NHL information every day on NHL page……NBA stuff on Hoops page

Thursday’s six-pack
— 30 of Carlos Santana’s 34 homers this year were hit lefthanded.
— Last grand slam in World Series? Paul Konerko for the White Sox in Game 2 of ’05 Series.
— Opening Day rosters of the 30 NBA teams: 113 foreign players, 43 white Americans.
— Kevin Harlan is a busy broadcaster; he did the NFL game in London Sunday, then flew to Oakland for the Spurs-Warriors game Tuesday night.
— In their last three road games, Jets scored only one TD on 30 drives.
— Former Wyoming hoop coach Larry Shyatt is now an assistant coach for the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA.

Quote of the Day

“We’re all about playing together now. It’s not about one guy anymore. It’s about sacrificing for the team. Kobe deserved every bit of attention he got in his last year, but there’s freedom in Kobe not being around.”

D’Angelo Russell

Thursday’s quiz
Who was the oldest person sworn in as President of the United States?

Wednesday’s quiz
Kevin Love’s father Stan also played in the NBA; he played most of his career for the Baltimore Bullets (now the Washington Wizards).

Tuesday’s quiz
Concord is the capital of New Hampshire, the Granite State.

Super Bowl records- most passing yards in a Super Bowl: keep in mind there have now been 50 Super Bowls (100 QBs).
3) 365 yards, Kurt Warner, Rams vs NE– Super Bowl XXXVI
2) 377 yards, Kurt Warner, Cardinals vs Pitt– Super Bowl XLI
1) 414 yards, Kurt Warner, Rams vs Tenn– Super Bowl XXXIV

Like donuts? Try Cider Belle donuts on North Pearl Street in Albany……

Thursday’s List of 13: NFL knowledge and our top 7

Some notes about how NFL teams have done on the first drive of each half this season: in my mind, the first drive of each game goes to how coaches prepare for their opponent each week.

First drive of the second half goes to halftime adjustments, as much as can be done in 10-12 minutes. Through seven weeks, here is some information:

13) Dallas Cowboys, in six games, have three TDs, two FGs and a missed FG on their first drive of the game, averaging 66.7 yards/drive, by far the best in the NFL thru seven weeks.

12) Three teams have yet to score on their first drive of a game: Arizona, Jacksonville and the Giants, who have only 79 yards on 27 plays on the first drive of their seven games.

11) Saints/Chargers both have four TDs on their first drive, though Saints did that in six games and Chargers seven; New Orleans averages 54.2 yards/first drive, San Diego 47.1.

10) Most surprising that I’ve found so far: Denver has allowed four TDs and a FG on opponents’ first drive of a game- their 31 points allowed on the first drive is 2nd-worst in the NFL.

9) Less surprising is Cleveland’s defense allowing five TDs on its seven game opening drives, with foes gaining an average of 55.9 yards/drive.

8) Giants have been outscored 30-3 on each team’s first drive of each half; Jets have been outscored 35-16. For the Giants, 66 plays, 210 yards (3.2 yards/play) on the first drive of their 14 halves is very poor.

On to the NFL’s top 7 for this week:

7) Chiefs— Andy Reid is this generation’s Chuck Knox— very good coach, wins a lot of games, just not any Super Bowls. Nothing wrong with winning a lot of games.

6) Raiders— 4-0 on the road and all four games were east of Mississippi; this week is #5.

5) Seahawks— Lost 9-3 in LA, tied 6-6 at Arizona, their two games on grass. Won the other four games. Not sure how bad Wilson’s leg injuries are, but if he doesn’t start running around soon, I’ll lose faith in Seattle.

Related point; NBC’s Cris Collinsworth actually grouped Wilson with Brady and Roethlisberger as a pocket passer during Sunday night’s game. Um, no. Not even close.

4) Cowboys— Is it easier for a rookie QB to be without Dez Bryant and not have him calling for the ball all the time? What Jason Garrett has done in the first six games is tremendous- their offensive line is just super.

3) Broncos— Little queasy about having them at #3, but they’re the defending champs and they’re 5-2. I wouldn’t bet your money on them on win the Super Bowl this year.

2) Vikings— Sam Bradford began his NFL career with the Rams, so pardon me if I’m skeptical he can lead the Vikings to the Super Bowl. He just doesn’t stay healthy.

1) Patriots— They head into heir bye week with an actual revenge game this week; Bills beat them in Foxboro in Week 4, the last week of Brady’s suspension and also in all probability, the last NFL action Jacoby Brissett will ever see.

Wednesday’s List of 13: Sports Illustrated ranks NBA players……

Before starting today, I have something that needs to be said.

New Jersey Giants are taking some heat for how they handled the Josh Brown situation; they may have made a mistake giving the guy a 2-year contract after his domestic violence issues, but they corrected that mistake and sent Brown on his way. No one is perfect; when mistakes are made, they need to be corrected and this one was.

The Giants used to have training camp here in Albany; I got to know some of their PR people and they couldn’t have been nicer to me. First class people all the way. My dad (a huge Giants fan) got sick one summer and the Giants gave him a football signed by the whole team. It meant a lot to him. It is still here in my living room, next to my football signed by Vince Ferragamo (ha!!!).

Last year, when my dad passed away, the Giants sent a bouquet of flowers to the wake. It was so kind, so unexpected, just a very nice/thoughtful thing to do. Nice people get scoffed at in today’s society; it is too damn bad.

Lot of people like to report negative things for whatever reason; the positive things that are done by people/teams get glossed over, because that is corny. Kicking people when they’re down is in vogue, but truth is, a hell of a lot more good is done than bad.

You can take this to the bank: the New Jersey Giants are good people. Top-shelf.

— Sports Illustrated’s Ben Golliver and Rob Mahoney ranked the NBA’s top 100 players in SI’s NBA Preview issue, with random comments on various players…… are some of those comments:
(last season’s rank is in parentheses)

100) Devin Booker, Suns (NR)— “Superstar ceiling, but was still a teenager when preseason opened!”

97) Manu Ginobili, Spurs (NR)— “Still a magician at 39. The oldest player on the list.”

91) Bismack Biyombo, Magic (NR)— “Magic paid him $72 million; 71 for his defense, one for his offense.”

78) Nikola Jokic, Nuggets (NR)— “The best young player you’ve (probably) never heard of.”

68) Kristaps Porzingis, Knicks (NR)— “The Big Apple’s most beloved is a lock to make a big jump next year.”

60) Luol Deng, Lakers (56)— “The only Laker to make the list, now that Kobe is retired.”

42) Serge Ibaka, Magic (25)— “Took a hit after a rough season that led to trade.”

25) Kyrie Irving, Cavaliers (23)— “This one incited fan outrage, but his defense was damaging.”

19) Klay Thompson, Warriors (26)— “That’s right; four Warriors in the top 20.”

12) DeMarcus Cousins, Kings (14)— “Top 10 talent; HR nightmare.”

4) Chris Paul, Clippers (6)— “Barely edged out Westbrook, thanks to defense shot selection, control.”

3) Stephen Curry, Warriors (4)— “Is the unanimous MVP underrated?”

1— Lebron James, Cavaliers (1)— “The King for the fourth straight year.”

Tuesday’s List of 13: Random NBA knowledge

With NBA starting the week, some notes you might find interesting……….
13) Brooklyn Nets are terrible and do not have control of their first round draft pick until 2019. Hard to get better that way.

New GM of the Nets is Sean Marks, who was a throw-in in the Knicks-Toronto Oakley-Camby trade in 1998. Marks comes from the San Antonio front office. We wish him good luck; he’ll need it.

12) Portland Trailblazers had the #29 payroll in the NBA last year; they paid to keep their core players this spring and now have a top five payroll.

11) It was 948 days in between Joel Embiid’s last game at Kansas and his first preseason game for the 76ers. He did play well in preseason though.

10) Kyrie Irving scored 19.6 pts/game in regular season LY, 25.2 in playoffs. How much will he score this regular season?

9) Andre Drummond of the Pistons just signed a contract worth $130M for five years. He shot 35.5% from the foul line last year. This bothers me.

8) When Oklahoma City Thunder players have dinner together on the road, they all put their cellphones in the middle of the dinner table, to eliminate distractions.

7) According to a survey released last week, the average NBA player spends $42,500 a month.

6) This quote on the Milwaukee Bucks from an anonymous NBA scout: “Jason Kidd’s had a lot of influence in personnel moves and I don’t think that’s been a good thing.”

5) Minnesota Timberwolves’ top three scorers last year were all 21 years old or younger. Minnesota was the #28 defensive team LY; in Tom Thibodeau’s five years as coach of the Bulls, they were a top 6 defense four times. Thibodeau is Minnesota’s new coach.

4) In three years under Doc Rivers, Clippers are 166-80 in regular season, 15-18 in playoffs.

3) Memphis Grizzlies used 28 players last year, most in NBA history.

2) Now-retired Tim Duncan averaged 25.2 minutes/game for the Spurs LY; looks like 36-year old Pau Gasol will be his primary replacement. Better on offense, not nearly as good on defense.

1) NBA regular season is 1,229 games long; we’ll have knowledge on every one of them on the Hoops page, starting tonight. Plus we’ll do college hoop every night too. Enjoy!!

Bonus List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud

13) Since 1990, NFL teams that were 4-3 made the playoffs 47.9% of the time; teams that were 3-4 made it 19% of the time.

12) Before baseball season started, the Cubs-Indians World Series matchup was 74-1 in Las Vegas. Last year’s World Series (Mets-Royals) was 250-1 before the season.

11) Actor Marc Blucas has 57 credits to his name, including regular roles in TV shows Necessary Roughness and Underground; he went to college at Wake Forest, where he was a basketball teammate of Tim Duncan.

10) People are frontrunners: Golden State Warriors have a season ticket waiting list of 33,000. Across the parking lot, the A’s are lucky to draw half that unless they give stuff away or have firework shows.

9) Falcons’ QB Matt Ryan has thrown for 200+ yards 46 games in a row, which is an NFL record; now he plays at least nine games a year in a dome and two others in Charlotte/Tampa, so he hasn’t had to deal with much bad weather, but a record is a record.

8) Edmonton Oilers/Winnipeg Jets played an outdoor hockey game in Winnipeg Sunday; the ref wore a camera on his helmet and it provided some interesting angles of the game. It is worth finding on the Interweb.

7) Kentucky 40, Mississippi State 38- Kicker for Kentucky nailed a 51-yard FG at the gun to win this game for the Wildcats. After watching the kicking debacle in Arizona just now, this seemed more impressive than when I left it out of the college wrap up Saturday night.

6) Alabama has scored a TD on defense or special teams in 10 straight games, which is an amazing streak.

5) Oakland Raiders won in Jacksonville Sunday, will stay in Bradenton all this week before playing the Buccaneers in Tampa Sunday. Five of Oakland’s first eight games are east of the Mississippi, but they don’t have a road game in November and after this week, only have their three AFC West road trips remaining, as far as travel goes.

4) Penn State is in the top 25 for the first time in five years, so credit to coach James Franklin for that. You win at Vanderbilt, you can coach and he won there.

3) Sunday Night Football next week: Eagles at Cowboys with two rookie QB’s starting. Big game in the NFC East.

2) Carson Wentz’ emergence in the NFL is going to help make Wyoming’s soph QB Josh Allen really rich someday. Allen plays for Craig Bohl, who coached Wentz at North Dakota State. Allen is big and he can move a little and he has a rifle arm. When he comes out of college, either in the 2018 or 2019 NFL Draft, he will be a very high pick and Wentz’ success in the NFL ain’t going to hurt his standing any.

1— Rams QB Case Keenum gets his number retired at U of Houston Saturday; he is taking a lot of grief now in LA as the Rams have lost three games in a row. QBs get too much credit, too much blame. Jeff Fisher seemed to blame the WRs for some of the miscues in London but you cannot turn the ball over in the NFL and win and that is the QB’s #1 responsibility.

Anyway, congratulations on getting the number retired. Keenum was a great player in college, throwing for more yardage than anyone in I-A history.

Monday’s List of 13: Wrapping up an NFL Sunday

Giants 17, Rams 10— Lackluster game for both sides; both TD drives were 35 yards long, after turnovers. Giants also scored on a pick-6 and had two INTs in end zone. Time for Los Angeles to play rookie QB Goff; they’re not making the playoffs this year, let him get his feet wet so that next year he can hit the ground running.

Eagles 21, Vikings 10— First game in NFL history with an 11-3 halftime score. There were turnovers on five consecutive possessions in this game- very sloppy— first time since 2005 that happened. Both teams coughed ball up four times in the game. Vikings were last unbeaten team in NFL; they had turned ball over only once all season (+11). Eagles ran a kick back for a TD for the second week in a row, but they’ve scored only one offensive TD in last two games.

Chiefs 27, Saints 21— Just second game in NFL this year (Atl-Oak, Wk 2) where neither team went 3-and-out. Saints were 9-14 on 3rd down, outgained KC 463-326 but were -2 in turnovers, including a pick-6. New Orleans covered four of last five games. Chiefs are +9 in turnovers in their last four games.

Lions 20, Redskins 17— Every Detroit game has been decided by 7 or less points; their four home games were decided by total of 9 points. Washington scored with 1:05 left to take lead, before Stafford drove Lions 75 yards in six plays to win game with 0:16 left. Detroit won its last three games (all at home); Redskins had their 4-game win streak snapped here.

Bengals 31, Browns 17— Cleveland (0-7) has played seven games, used six different QBs, first NFL team to do that since 1976 Buccaneers, who were an 0-16 expansion team (Steve Spurrier was one of the QBs). Bengals ran ball for 271 yards, outgained Browns 559-352; not often an NFL team gains 559 yards.

Dolphins 28, Bills 25— Miami ran ball for 256 yards here, after running it for 222 yards in win over the Steelers last week- they had averaged 72.4 yards/game on ground in five games before that. Buffalo plays New England/Seattle the next two weeks, so their 4-2 start could be a distant memory unless they can at least split that pair.

Raiders 33, Jaguars 16— Decisive win for Oakland team that was +3 in turnovers, 8-18 on third down and ran ball for 144 yards in flagfest where both sides had 115+ penalty yards. Raiders are east of Mississippi for 5th time in eight games next week (@ Tampa); at 5-2, they’re a legit threat to make playoffs for first time since 2002, when they lost the Super Bowl.

Colts 34, Titans 26— Indy pulled off a surprise onside kick when they led 14-6; that doesn’t count as a turnover but it should. Colts have now beaten the Titans 10 games in a row, five in a row here. If Houston loses in Denver tonight, they’ll be in first place at 4-3, with these two a game behind and Jaguars 2-4. Luck threw for 353 yards as Indy bounced back from loss to the Texans last week.

Jets 24, Ravens 16— Baltimore started season 3-0, have now lost four games in row; all seven of their games were decided by 8 or less points. Geno Smith got hurt, so Fitzpatrick wound up back on field, was 9-14 for 120 yards, leading three scoring drives. If you’re the Ravens and you fire your offensive coordinator, replacing him with Marty Mornhinweg is the best you can do?

Chargers 33, Falcons 30 OT— San Diego fights like hell every week; they were down 27-10 on road here, rallied to win in OT, when Falcons went for it on 4th-and-2 from their own 43 or so in OT. Chargers are 5-2 vs spread this year, 4-1 as an underdog- they scored 31+ points in four of last six games. Addition of rookie DL Bosa has bolstered their defense.

Buccaneers 33, 49ers 17— Niners had 14-0 leads in three of their seven games, but have not won since their season opener. Tampa Bay ran for 249 yards here, outgained SF 513-273 in what turned into a severe beating. Bucs were +2 in turnovers; teams that were +2 or better in turnovers are 37-6 this season, 36-3 since Week 2.

Patriots 27, Steelers 16— Bye comes at right time for Pittsburgh- they play Ravens/Browns in two of first three games after the bye, so Big Ben’s injury shouldn’t hurt them too much. New England actually has a revenge game next week, when they visit the Bills in Orchard Park, in the first rematch of the NFL season.

Seahawks 6, Cardinals 6– Epic gag job by both kickers in OT; both kicks were less than 30 yards, either would’ve won the game. Seattle leads in NFC West, so doesn’t hurt them as much. Until Russell Wilson starts running around again, Seahawks are ordinary- two divisional road games, no TDs- they lost 9-3 in Los Angeles in Week 2

Sunday’s List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday

13) Cleveland Indians haven’t been to the World Series since 1997, haven’t won one since 1948. Chicago Cubs are in World Series for first time since 1945; they last won one in 1908.

Two very happy fanbases; congrats to both. Should be a very good World Series.

12) Penn State 24, Ohio State 21— 19.5-point home dog Nittany Lions blocked FG for a TD, also blocked a punt that set up a FG, as they rallied back from down 21-7 in 4th quarter to post a big upset, ending Buckeyes’ 20-game road win streak.

11) Other big upsets Saturday: Hawai’i (+17) won in OT at Air Force. North Texas (+18) won at West Point. SMU (+21.5) stunned Houston 38-16 in Dallas. Been a rough couple weeks for the Cougars, who lost 46-40 to Navy two weeks ago.

10) Oklahoma 66, Texas Tech 59— Both teams gained exactly 854 yards in this outdoor tribute to the Arena League. Next February on Signing Day, I’m going to report here as to how many defensive players Texas Tech signs, because their defense sucks- they lost 68-55 at Arizona State last month. If you score 55 or 59 points, you should win.

Tech deserves mention for converting 20-25 third down plays. Unheard of numbers.

9) Wisconsin 17, Iowa 9— Hawkeyes’ coach Kirk Ferentz took a ton of heat on social media for kicking FG when Iowa trailed 17-6 with 0:43 left. Maybe it was gamblers who took Iowa plus the 4 points, but the Hawkeyes were outgained 423-236; he passed up a 4th-and-2 to kick the FG. I’m guessing he was skeptical Iowa could get the first down so they kicked a FG.

8) Charlotte 27, Marshall 24— Thundering Herd opened at -18.5, wound up at -8 and lost SU. Marshall didn’t score in the second half after leading 24-17 at the half.

7) LSU 38, Ole Miss 21— At one point in this game, Leonard Fournette had seven carries for 241 yards; he wound up with 16 carries for 284 yards. LSU outscored the Rebels 17-0 in second half. The new OC has made LSU’s offense more balanced.

6) Utah 52, UCLA 45— Best part of this game was when UCLA was lining up to kick a 39-yard FG when they were down 10 points. Sideline mike caught UCLA coach Mora f-bombing one of his assistants for sending out the wrong kicker. Kid made the FG, gestured towards the bench (he had to have heard his coach), which was a little funny, but Bruins have lost four of last five games, are 3-5 and things are not real rosy in Westwood right now.

5) Cal 52, Oregon 49 OT— Late Friday night/early Saturday, this marathon took place, Golden Bears ran 118 plays (a record) for 636 yards, blew a 31-14 halftime lead, endured 14 penalties for 145 yards (Oregon had 14 for 134) in handing the Ducks their fifth loss in a row.

A note to the officials in this game: No one pays to watch you ref. Throw fewer flags.

4) Colorado 10, Stanford 5— Either Stanford or Oregon won last seven Pac-12 titles; those two teams are a combined 0-6 this season vs Colorado and the two Washington schools. Cardinal is 1-3 in its last four games, with the one win at Notre Dame. This has been a strange season.

3) Auburn 56, Arkansas 3— In 2010, when he was at Wisconsin, Bret Bielema’s Badgers beat Indiana 83-20, two weeks before they beat Northwestern 70-23. Was surprised when Bielema bolted to the SEC, because there are no Indianas/Rutgers in the SEC. Tigers ran ball 57 times for 543 yards here as they crushed Arkansas, outgaining the Hogs 632-215. Bielema is 8-20 in SEC games, 1-3 this year. The SEC is a hell of a lot more of a grind than the Big 14.

2) Texas-El Paso 52, Tex-San Antonio 49 (5 OTs)— There were 45 points scored in the OT’s, after a scoreless 4th quarter. Miners (+9.5) are now 1-7; bad loss for UTSA, which I’m sure was counting on this game to get to six wins and bowl eligibility.

1) Navy 42, Memphis 28— Midshipmen ran ball for 447 yards and their five passes averaged 21.2 yards/attempt, with two TDs. Navy has a senior QB who sat the bench for three years but boy does he run the option well. They have to be very difficult to prepare for.

Saturday’s List of 13: Random thoughts on a fall day

13) Boise State 28, BYU 27— Boise led this game 14-10 with 10:54 left in second quarter; then BYU’s coach Kilane Sitake called for a fake punt from his own 5-yard line, on 4th-and-19. They did not make it, which isn’t the point. There are some things you just don’t do.

A coach’s job is to put his players in the best possible position to win. It would be nice if the players had faith that their coach will give them an edge to win a close game. Calling a fake punt from your own 5-yard line on 4th-and-19 doesn’t fall into that category.

That said, BYU plays interesting games most every week; you never know what you’re going to see when the Cougars are on TV.

12) Indians’ 2B Jason Kipnis is from Northbrook, IL; he grew up on the same street as infamous Cubs’ fan Steve Bartman, who went to high school with Kipnis’ sister.

11) Going into Week 7, the top four receivers in the NFL, in terms of receiving yardage:
a) Julio Jones, 31 catches, 656 yards b) Greg Olsen, 39 catches, 610 yards
c) AJ Green, 42 catches, 606 yards d) Amari Cooper, 36 catches, 585 yards

10) Dodgers’ payroll on Opening Day was $249,781,668, by far the most in MLB; with a payroll like that, how do they have such poor starting pitching? Other than Clayton Kershaw, of course.

9) Speaking of the Dodgers’ payroll, Kershaw’s DAILY salary this season: $174,863. Wow. He made $174,863 every day for six months.

8) Thru six weeks, there have already been seven NFL games where the winning team trailed by 10+ points in the fourth quarter.

7) NBA general managers were polled as to who the best coach in the league is. Spurs’ coach Gregg Popovich got 84% of the votes; only other guys to get votes were Rick Carlisle of Dallas and Brad Stevens of the Celtics.

6) Cleveland Indians are 32-6 this season if they lead after the first inning.

5) NBA TV has some good discussion programs, one with coaches, one with GMs, one with former players. Houston’s Mike D’Antoni was saying how he likes to run a lot of his out of bounds plays out of the same starting position, so it doesn’t give away which play he is running.

If you run each play out of a different set, then it is easier for the opponents to tell quickly which play is being run.

4) One of the side benefits of Dak Prescott being such a good QB for Dallas is that because he was a 4th-round draft pick, he doesn’t make much money and won’t be a drain on their salary cap for a few years, much like Russell Wilson (3rd-round pick) was for the Seahawks.

3) John Smoltz is very good as a baseball analyst on FS1. Speaks his mind, has personality and really knows his stuff.

2) Illinois-Michigan today, Lovie Smith vs Jim Harbaugh, the first time in I-A college football that two head coaches who both coached in a Super Bowl face each other.

1- Pro Football Focus studies every play of every college game; here are the four QBs they rank #1-4 so far this season:

a) Lamar Jackson, Louisville
b) Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
c) Deshaun Watson, Clemson
d) Jake Browning, Washington

Friday’s Den: 13 things I’m looking for this weekend

13) Rams-Giants at 9:30am ET Sunday from London. I love pro football but am not fond of being awake at 9:30am, under any circumstance. My question is this: if LA were to lose this game, would Jared Goff start the Rams’ next game, after their bye week?

12) Oregon Ducks lost their last four games, giving up 70 points in their last game, at Washington. Ducks play in Berkeley tonight; how many points will Cal score?

11) Sam Bradford returns to Philly Sunday as QB of the 5-0 Vikings; interesting situation. If Teddy Bridgewater hadn’t have gotten hurt this summer, Bradford would be starting this game for the Eagles.

10) TCU-West Virginia will be a fun game from Morgantown. Horned Frogs won by one point in each of their last two visits to West Virginia.

9) New Orleans Saints allowed 72 points in their last two games, but won both of them. They’re getting points in Kansas City Sunday.

8) Wisconsin played its heart out last week in a tough home loss to Ohio State; now they go to Iowa City to face a Hawkeyes’ squad that has lost three straight home games to the Badgers.

7) Washington won its last two games, Detroit won its last two. Lions seem to play a nail-biter every week. This is an interesting game in the NFC playoff race.

6) Texas lost its last four visits to Kansas State, but K-State’s QB got hurt last week. Longhorns have a bad defense; can the Wildcats’ backup QB put points up against it?

5) Oakland Raiders covered their last six road games; they’re getting a point or so this week in Jacksonville. If the Raiders are a playoff contender, they win this game.

4) Michigan State lost its last four games, but is a road favorite this week at Maryland; you’d have to take a huge leap of faith to invest in them until they actually win a game.

3) Geno Smith gets the nod at quarterback for the Jets, which should appease their fanbase a little bit, at least for the first quarter. I’d like to see them give Bryce Petty a shot.

2) Seattle-Arizona is usually a fun game. Will be a good time for me to order a pizza, sit back and see if the Cardinals can tighten up the NFC West race at all.

1) Ed Orgeron used to be the head coach at Ole Miss; now he is the interim coach at LSU and Ole Miss is bringing a really good offense to Baton Rouge. Leonard Fournette is expected back for the Tigers this week. This will be an interesting 9:00 game. 9:00 at night!!!!

Thursday’s List of 13: NFL’s top 10 and bottom 3……

32) Browns— Jimmy Haslam owns the Browns; apparently his brother Bill is the governor of Tennessee. Wonder if they bet on last week’s game with the Titans and if so, did the governor give his brother seven points?

31) 49ers— San Francisco has allowed 42 pts/game in losing all three road games- they’ve been outscored 54-17 in second half of their last two games.

30) Jets— Geno Smith gets the nod under center for Gang Green this week; not sure why they have four QB’s, two who have never played in the NFL, but they do. Short week this week for their game with the Ravens.

10) Steelers— Ready to drop them out of top 10 until Big Ben returns, but there isn’t anyone better to put ahead of them this week. Landry Jones has started two NFL games but didn’t last long in the one Steelers won.

9) Raiders— Why are they getting points in Jacksonville this week? They’re 3-0 on the road.

8) Bills— So much for trying to have balance on offense. Rex Ryan wanted them to run the ball more, so he fired the OC and told the new guy to run it more, which they have, and very well.

7) Redskins— Jay Gruden was a head coach for 162 games in the Arena League and UFL before he got his chance in the NFL— he’s a really good coach who paid his dues.

6) Broncos— Not sold on either of their QBs, but their defense is really good and they’re still the defending champs.

5) Seahawks— They’ve slipped some but with 14 rookies and a veteran core, expect them to play better as the season rolls along.

4) Cowboys— Why would you replace Dak Prescott? Dallas won their last five games, they won easily at Green Bay, Cowboys have it rolling. Don’t mess with a winning streak.

3) Falcons— Was just as impressed with them in their loss in Seattle as I was by their wins. Atlanta gained 269 yards IN THE THIRD QUARTER at Seattle last week.

2) Patriots— Wonder if Microsoft stock will take a hit now that Belichick has disowned the tablets teams use on the sideline.

1) Vikings— Sam Bradford went thru training camp with the Eagles, now he goes back to Philly in Week 7 as the starting QB of the hottest team in the league.

Wednesday’s List of 13: Our readers have their say……

The other day, I posed this question: “If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?” Here are the answer some of my readers provided…….

13) Unretired Buckeye: “Fix the mess we’ve caused with the environment/climate.”

12) The Professor agrees: “Gotta do something seriously about climate change, and fast.”

11) Then there is this from Baseball Guy: “I’d get rid of the designated hitter. I hate the DH more than I hate climate change.”

10) Football dad: “I wouldn’t have bit on a fake in my last HS football game and I would’ve intercepted the pass that turned into the game-winning TD for our arch-rivals.”

9) Rebel Girl: “As cheesy as it sounds, world peace would be wonderful.”

8) Santa Monica’s finest: “People would have a fundamental understanding/appreciation for liberty— what it is, why it is important and why it must be upheld.”

7) Sean F: “The next President of the United States.”

6) Wolf Pack mom: “Too many people are shady, mean and cruel. We need harder laws and tougher punishments.”

5) JJ Arias: “#people”

4) Bartending Engineer: “Human equality. People should be all be treated the same, regardless of age, sex, religion. The fact that they’re not is ridiculous.”

3) Bayou Babe: “I’d change myself, make myself bolder, fiercer, more charismatic, fearless.”

2) Basketball dad: “I’d let kids go straight from high school to the NBA, just like Lebron did. Kids playing one year of college ball is a farce and hurts both college ball and the NBA.”

1) Me: “I wish we would treat each other with more respect and a tolerance of our differences.”

Tuesday’s List of 13: Nobody asked me, but……..

13) I think the world of Cam Newton as a football player; he is fun to watch, wins a lot of games, but there is one thing he is missing out on— how not to take the media personally. They love the winners and grill the losers, thats why quarterbacks make the big bucks.

Here is a quote from the great football movie, Any Given Sunday. Delivered by Al Pacino’s character (the coach) to Jamie Foxx (the QB):

“You’re a goddamn quarterback! You know what that means? It’s the top spot, kid. It’s the guy who takes the fall. It’s the guy everybody’s looking at first – the leader of a team – who will support you when they understand you. Who will break their ribs and their noses and their necks for you, because they believe. ‘Cause you make them believe. That’s a quarterback.”

Kill the media with cliches, Cam. Listen to Belichick just drone on and on— you think HE likes to lose? No one likes to freakin’ lose, but dealing with the media after a loss is part of being a professional QB who makes millions of dollars. It is part of the job.

12) Ben Roethlisberger had his left knee operated on Monday, they’re not saying how long he is expected to be out. Steelers have a bye week soon. Landry Jones is the starting QB until Big Ben returns.

11) There was a rare victory for common sense Monday; a young man named Isaiah Brock spent four years in the Army, but then got out and wanted to play college basketball at Oakland in the Horizon League. Problem is, the NCAA red-flagged him because of some course he took in 9th or 10th grade— he was ruled ineligible.

Isaiah Brock’s job in the Army? Taking dead soldiers from the battlefield and preparing them to have honorable burials. If anyone deserved a break, it is this guy.

Some national media got ahold of the story, publicized it, people realized how stupid the whole thing was, Oakland appealed……and now Mr Brock is on scholarship and eligible to play for the Grizzlies this season. It is a happy resolution where common sense scores a win.

10) Toronto pitcher JA Happ had a 62-61 career record coming into this season; then at age 33, he went 20-4 this year. Curious to see how he does next year.

9) San Diego Chargers have had Dan Fouts-John Unitas-Drew Brees-John Hadl and Philip Rivers all play for them, but their only Super Bowl appearance was when Stan Humphries was their quarterback.

8) Some football coaches are gypsies; Marty Mornhinweg is Ravens’ 5th offensive coordinator in the last five years. Dan Mullen has had six defensive coordinators in his eight years at Mississippi State.

7) I’m not fond of the NBA rule where if you get the ball in the backcourt and call timeout, you can inbound the ball in the frontcourt— creates artificial chances for late game drama. It has existed for years— I just think it cheapens the game.

6) Why is Trevor Bauer flying a drone? I had to ask someone what a drone even was, as far as a normal person having one. Indians’ pitcher cut his hand on a drone last week and had to have his ALCS start pushed back to Monday, then he had to leave in the first inning.

5) Last summer, i had a cab driver in Las Vegas who said he didn’t know where the Strip was. I’m not kidding, he is driving me from Cashman Center downtown to the Westgate Hotel— his GPS tells him to get on the Strip, and he says he doesn’t know where that is.

He said he was from iraq; I was diplomatic about it- “it is the long street with all the tall buildings with really, really bright lights”.

We got on the freeway instead and drove past Trump Hotel; i asked him about Donald, he didn’t answer me. How the bleep can you drive a cab in Las Vegas and not know where the Strip is?

4) JR Smith gets $57M for four years from Cleveland; it is good to have Lebron as a teammate.

3) Was surprised to see some quotes/stories leaking out of South Bend suggesting that Notre Dame players have tired of playing for coach Brian Kelly, citing “a culture of criticism…..” in the irish program.

If you know me, you know I NEVER root for Notre Dame football, but Kelly is a quality coach who won national titles at lower levels of college ball. Has our society gotten so soft that a coach can’t criticize his players anymore? it is bad for everyone involved if the team quit on him; you wonder if Kelly would surface in the NFL.

I’m assuming NFL coaches are still allowed to criticize players.

2) Odd scheduling quirk: Baltimore Ravens are playing in Swamp Stadium in New Jersey two weeks in a row; they lost 27-23 to Giants Sunday, visit the Jets this Sunday.

1) Miguel Montero hit a grand slam Saturday after an intentional walk, the first time that happened in the postseason since 2011, when Paul Goldschmidt hit a grand slam after an intentional walk… Miguel Montero.

Monday’s List of 13: Wrapping up an NFL Sunday

Patriots 35, Bengals 17— New England averaged 9.6, 9.4 yds/pass attempt in Brady’s first two games back; only 10 their 61 plays in this game came on 3rd down. Cincinnati has lost four of its last five games, allowed 8 TDs on foes’ last 16 drives.

Titans 28, Browns 26— Bad beat if you laid 7.5 with Tennessee; Browns scored 13 points in last 2:07 to cover spread, as they fall to 0-6 SU (3-3 vs spread). Titans averaged 10.4 yards/pass attempt, best in league so far this week. Browns went 3/out seven times, scored the other five times (three TD, two FG) they had the ball.

Giants 27, Ravens 23— All six Raven games were decided by 6 or less points. Baltimore scored with 2:04 left to take lead, but neglected to cover Beckham (DB fell down) on a 4th-and-1 a few minutes later and he went 66 yards for GW TD. Beckham caught eight balls for 222 yards and two TDs.

Lions 31, Rams 28— All six Detroit games were decided by 7 or less points; their three home games were decided by a total of five points.

Bills 45, 49ers 16— When Buffalo fired their OC after Week 2, they said they wanted to run the ball more; Bills won their fourth straight game here, running ball 44 times for 312 yards- they converted 8-13 on 3rd down, have outscored last three opponents 45-9 in second half.

Saints 41, Panthers 38— New Orleans led 21-0 with 4:00 left in first half, but Carolina tied game with 2:58 left in game, before Saints hit 52-yard FG with 0:11 left for the win. Saints won their last two games, despite allowing 72 points in those games- they’ve allowed 34+ points in four of five games. Defending NFC champs are 1-5.

Redskins 27, Eagles 20— Philly scored two TDs, one on the NFL’s first TD on a kick return this year, then the defense scored one, but the Eagle offense ran 45 plays for 239 yards; they had 114 yards in penalties, no TDs, as Washington had 67-45 edge in plays run. Yardage here was 493-239. Redskins, like Buffalo, have now won four in a row after an 0-2 start.

Dolphins 30, Steelers 15— Miami was +2 in turnovers, had 14-yard edge in field position and beat Pittsburgh for just second time in last seven meetings, first time at home since 1998. Yardage was 474-297 Miami; after the game, Steelers said Roethlisberger will have an MRI on his knee, which would make Landry Jones the starter next week.

Jaguars 17, Bears 16— Chicago was in red zone four times, but scored only one TD; they led 13-0 after three quarters, but left door open for Jaguars, who hit a 51-yard TD pass with 2:49 left  for a stunning comeback win. Bears were +2 in turnovers but had 10 penalties for 87 yards.

Chiefs 26, Raiders 10— Andy Reid is now 16-2 SU off a bye week, 12-4 vs spread in last 16 post-bye games; his Chiefs ran ball for 183 yards on a rainy day in Oakland. KC has now won six of last seven games against its arch-rival, winning four of last six visits to Oakland.

Cowboys 30, Packers 16— Its none of my business, but Dak Prescott has to stay the starting QB in Dallas, as long as they keep playing like this- they waxed the Packers on the day when Brett Favre got his Hall of Fame ring. Cowboys won/covered five games in a row with a rookie QB drafted in the fourth round. Highly unlikely story.

Seahawks 27, Falcons 26— Refs swallowed their whistle on Falcons’ last gasp pass to Julio Jones— Sherman grabbed his arm, no flag was thrown. Seattle led 17-3 at the half, but Atlanta stormed back and had ball around midfield up 24-23 with 4:00 left, before Ryan threw a pick that turned game in Seahawks’ favor. Falcons gained 269 yards in this game, just in the third quarter. These teams could meet again in January.

Texans 26, Colts 23 OT– Indy led 23-9 with under 4:00 left, then Texans came alive and Osweiler gets a big win, keeping Houston alone in first in AFC South. Next week the Texans head to Denver, Osweiler’s homecoming after he bolted the Broncos last winter. Bad loss for Indy, just a game you cannot lose, being up 14 points in last 4:00.


Sunday’s List of 13: Wrapping up a sports Saturday……..

13) Clemson 24, NC State 17 OT— Tigers GOT SO LUCKY in this game; Wolfpack had a 33-yard FG to win it at the gun, but the kicker choked and pushed it wide right. Clemson should drop in the polls this week; key word there is “should”.

12) Arkansas 34, Ole Miss 30— Want to thank both teams for 3.5 hours of solid entertainment. Didn’t care who won, but it was a close, interesting game between two good teams, and it was fun to watch. I’m not a big fan of Arkansas coach Bielema, who is now 8-19 in SEC games, but this is a solid win for him.

11) Upset of the Day: Syracuse (+19.5) 31. Virginia Tech 17— Dino Babers gave an emotional post-game talk to his team, where he quoted the Vegas spread on this game. Go find it on the Interweb, it is worth it. Will he recruit well enough/stay long enough to make the Orangemen relevant?

10) Stanford 17, Notre Dame 10— Cardinal star McCaffery didn’t play, Irish led 10-0 before Stanford scored a defensive TD, then a safety. Notre Dame is now 2-5; this was a very bad loss, after the Washington schools eviscerated Stanford the last two weeks.

Random tangent: Why doesn’t NBC have Notre Dame alums doing color on Notre Dame games? Have a different guy do it every home game: Theismann, Golic, Tim Brown, Ismail, Bettis, Reggie Ho. Doug Flutie went to BC; why is he on there?

9) Temple 26, Central Florida 25— Knights led 25-7, I turned game off but Owls rallied for the win, scoring GW TD with 0:01 left. AAC games are oddly entertaining.

Houston 38, Tulsa 31– 21-point favorite Cougars stopped Tulsa on the one-yard line on the last play of the game.

8) Northwestern 54, Michigan State 40— Wildcats have now covered seven games in a row in East Lansing, winning five of the seven SU. No explanation for this, but wheels have fallen off for Michigan State this season- they’ve now lost four games in a row.

7) Indians 2, Blue Jays 1— Teams head to Canada with Cleveland up 2-0. Andrew Miller is first reliever EVER with 5+ strikeouts in consecutive playoff games.

Cubs 7, Dodgers 3— I had Miguel Montero on my fantasy team this summer and was happy to get two pick ups from the scrap heap for him in a trade; now he is a playoff hero. Life makes no sense sometimes.

Cubs last won a World Series in 1908; the last living player from that team passed away……in 1961. Indians haven’t won a Series since 1948. Lot of anxiety in those two fanbases.

6) North Carolina 20, Miami 13— Not many teams beat Florida State/Miami in same year; both UNC wins came on road (and they lost 34-3 at home in the game between those two- go figure). Huge win for Larry Fedora’s program; hats off to him!!!

5) Eastern Michigan 27, Ohio U 20— Tip of the Armadillo’s cap to Eastern Michigan coach Chris Creighton, who was a QB in his playing days at D-III Kenyon College (Shaka Smart’s alma mater). From 2012-15, Eastern was 7-41; they’re 5-2 this year, one win from the Eagles’ first bowl game since 1987 (their only bowl game). Mr Creighton is going to get some job offers.

4) Alabama 49, Tennessee 10— On last four Satudays, Vols played Florida-Georgia-Texas A&M-Alabama; no off weeks, way too tough a stretch for a college team. Alabama just killed them here, running ball for 438 yards on 49 carries. Now the Vols can regroup during a bye week and finish their season strong. Whoever made Tennessee’s schedule needs a pay cut.

3) Whoever invented the TV camera-in-the-pylon thing deserves a pay raise. They get some interesting views from that camera in the end zone.

2) Ohio State 30, Wisconsin 23 OT– Coaches get more out of close wins than routs; Buckeyes survived a stiff test here, made them a better team. Tough loss for the Badgers, who played their hearts out.

1) Florida State 17, Wake Forest 6— Much like Tennessee, Seminoles need a week off to get healthy and just recharge some- they’re off this week, then play Clemson. Watching the reality show about FSU on Showtime, they seem like a tired group, maybe with not as much depth as recent years.