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

Bengals 37, Falcons 36— Atlanta is first team since ’66 Giants to score 35+ points two weeks in a row, and lose both games (Giants lost 72-41 @ Washington, 49-40 @ Cleveland in consecutive games, going 1-12-1 after a 6-0 preseason). Falcons’ defense is really bad. 

Cincy scored on a 13-yard pass to AJ Green with 0:07 left for the win, ending a 16-play, 75-yard drive. Bengals lost TE Eifert in 3rd quarter, with what looked like a broken ankle. 

Texans 37, Colts 34— Coaching Malpractice 101- With 0:27 left in OT, Houston had 4th and 4 on its own 43-yard line. You punt the ball and take the tie, right? It is still early in the season. 

Colts went for it, threw an incomplete pass, and three plays later, Houston kicked field goal to win the game. This is Grade A stupidity; in a 16-game season, you can’t give a game away!!!! There is a proper time to be conservative- this was it. 

Bright spot for Indy was Andrew Luck, who led a 9-play, 85-yard drive that tied game 31-all with 0:45 left in regulation. Luck passed for 464 yards; Colts shouldn’t have lost this game. 

Titans 26, Eagles 23 OT— Tennessee scored on a 10-yard pass with 0:05 left in OT to pull out a game they trailed 17-3 early in third quarter. Titans are 3-1, with three consecutive wins, all by three points. 

Eagles in red zone; four drives, one TD, three FG’s
Titans in red zone: four drives, three TD’s, one FG

Why did the NFL shorten overtimes to 10:00? OT football is fun, ties not so much. 

Cowboys 26, Lions 24— Dallas drove 55 yards in nine plays and kicked winning FG at gun; they are 2-0 at home, 0-2 on road. Dallas led 20-10 after third quarter, but Lions scored two TD’s in 4th quarter. Rookie kicker Maher kicked four FG’s for the Cowboys. 

Dallas had five plays of 20+ yards, more than they had (4) in first three games combined. 

Patriots 38, Dolphins 7— Miami coach Adam Gase has some serious coaching to do this week, after his 3-0 team came north and got their butts kicked very soundly. Dolphins have now lost ten games in a row in Foxboro. Patriots are 25-11 vs spread coming off a loss. 

Tom Brady tied an NFL record by throwing a TD pass to his 70th different receiver (Cordarrelle Patterson). Check the quiz on this site if you know who the other guy is. 

Packers 22, Bills 0— Total yardage was 423-145, which sums it up; sometimes when play a rookie QB on the road, bad things happen. Hey, Jared Goff was 0-7 as a starter two years ago, and he’s doing pretty well now. Since 2008. Bills are 22-39-2 vs spread coming off a win. 

One thing about Green Bay; Aaron Rodgers obviously has an injured knee, but in last 5:00 of this game, Rodgers was in game, throwing ball and scrambling. Why? Nothing good can come from that— thats where the coach has to step in and either run the ball on every play or sub Rodgers out for the backup. 

Jaguars 31, Jets 12— Total yardage was 503-178; Jaguars averaged 9.4 yards per pass play. I mean, Jacksonville was -3 in turnovers, still won by three TD’s. That doesn’t happen much. 

Pains me to type this, but New England outscored the rest of the AFC East (Miami, Jets, Bills) Sunday, 38-19. 

Bears 48, Buccaneers 10— Ryan Fitzpatrick era came to a crushing end; Bucs were down 38-3 at the half and Jameis Winston played the whole second half. Chicago averaged 12.7 yards per pass attempt; when was last time they did THAT? Bears are already +6 in turnover margin. 

Mitchell Trubisky is first Bears’ QB to throw 5+ TD’s in a game since Johnny Lujack threw six on December 11, 1949, against the Chicago Cardinals at Wrigley Field. 

Seahawks 20, Cardinals 17— In a game in a dome where both teams missed two FG’s, Seattle K Janikowski nailed a 52-yarder at the gun to even Seattle’s record at 2-2, while Arizona drops to 0-4, losing Josh Rosen’s first NFL start. Not often a road team wins while going 0-10 on 3rd down conversions; Seattle ran ball for 171 yards, had 9-yard advantage in field position. Total yardage was 331-263, Seahawks. 

Home side is now 0-7-1 in last eight series games; Seattle is 5-0-1 in last six visits here; Arizona is 12-6-1 in last 19 games as home underdogs. 

Raiders 45, Browns 42 OT— Gruden gets his first win in decade in game his team trailed 28-14 in 3rd quarter; Oakland tied game with 0:30 left in regulation, won it on 29-yard FG in OT. 

Browns aren’t a joke anymore; Mayfield threw for 295 yards in his first NFL start, but Cleveland turned ball over four times (-2)- they’ve had a very interesting month, with two brutal losses and a tie, wrapped around a win over the Jets. 

Saints 33, Giants 18— New Orleans was in red zone four times in 2nd quarter, kicked four FG’s, leaving door open for Giants, but Saints scored TDs on both 2nd half drives and had 389-299 edge in yardage for game, holding Beckham to 7 catches for 60 yards. 

Saints wore throwback uniforms, the kind Charlton Heston wore in the 1969 movie Number One, when he played an aging Saints’ QB. I’ve tried to find the movie to watch it, but have seen on the Interweb that Heston didn’t like the movie and tried his best to squelch its distribution- he broke a rib filming the football scenes. 

Chargers 29, 49ers 27— Think about this, the 49ers were -1 in turnovers, lost field position by 19 yards (an awful lot), scored only 13 points on four red zone drives, and only lost by two points!!! 

49ers scored a defensive TD; yardage was 368-364, so they hung in with backup QB Beathard as a 10-point underdog, averaging 7.6 yards/pass attempt- thats bad news for the Chargers. LA is now 2-8 vs spread last ten times they laid double digits. Over is 4-0 in Charger games this year. 

Ravens 26, Ravens 14— Baltimore led 14-0 early, fumbled on goal line when it looked like it would be 21-0, then Steelers tied game in 2nd quarter, before Ravens outscored them 12-0 in 2nd half, with Tucker booting four FG’s, second week in row Steelers didn’t score in 2nd half. 

Ravens are 8-2-1 vs spread in last 11 divisional road games; they outgained Steelers 451-284, had 16-yard edge in field position, were 8-17 on third down (Steelers were 2-12). When was last time Steelers had a game where they ran ball 11 times for 19 yards? 

Sunday’s List of 13: Wrapping up a college football Saturday

13) Clemson 27, Syracuse 23— Clemson’s week with their QB’s:
— Quarterback A is named the new starter.
— Quarterback B, the former starter, decides to transfer.
— Quarterback A gets hurt in the second quarter.
— TV announcers wonder if Quarterback B has withdrawn from school yet.
— Quarterback C (a redshirt freshman) comes in, rallies Clemson from a 23-13 deficit with a last-minute TD; he was 7-13 for 83 yards. Big day for him. 

12) Ohio State 27, Penn State 26— Nittany Lions led 13-0 after a 93-yard TD pass in the 2nd quarter, then led 26-14 with 8:00 left, but Ohio State had drives of 75-96 yards in last 6:30 to pull out a big road win. 

It is great to have a senior QB because at the end of the game in critical spots, the senior QB makes big plays, but on 4th-and-5 in the last minute, Penn State handed off instead of letting their terrific QB McSorley make a play, and they got stopped. 

11) Northern Illinois 26, Eastern Michigan 23 OT—  From 2012-15, Eastern Michigan was 7-41. Since start of ’16, they’re 14-16, but 0-6 in overtime games. Coach Chris Creighton has turned the program around, but it has to be frustrating- they lost last two weeks by FG in OT.  

10) Kentucky 24, South Carolina 10— Wildcats are 3-0 in SEC play for first time since 1977, when I was a college freshman with an excellent head of hair. These days? No more hair. 

Not only is Kentucky 5-0, they’ve already beaten Florida, South Carolina and Miss State, three quality wins- their game at Texas A&M next week will be fun to watch. 

9) Fresno State 49, Toledo 27— Bulldogs are 13-5 in 1+ seasons under Jeff Tedford; they were 10-28 the three seasons before he got there. 

Tedford was Aaron Rodgers’ college coach at Cal, later a head coach in the CFL. Why exactly did Cal fire him? He had winning seasons nine of his 11 years in Berkeley (82-57, 50-45 in Pac-12). 

8) Washington State 28, Utah 24— Gardner Minshew threw an 89-yard TD pass with 4:14 left as the Coogs improved to 4-1. Wazzu had zero rushing yards in this game. Zero- they threw the ball for 445 yards. 

Minshew is a grad transfer from East Carolina; only reason he is in Pullman is because the kid who was supposed to be Wazzu’s QB this season took his own life last January- that tragedy opened the door for Minshew to transfer in and he is having a big season. 

7) Upsets of the Week:
— Tulane (+13.5) 40, Memphis 24
— Army (+8) 42, Buffalo 13
— Georgia State (+7.5) 46, UL-Monroe 14
— Louisiana Tech 29 (+7.5), North Texas 27
— Florida (+7) 13, Mississippi State 6
— Nevada (+6.5) 28, Air Force 25
— Liberty (+6.5) 52, New Mexico 43

6) Arizona State 52, Oregon State 24— Sophomore RB Eno Benjamin ran the ball 30 times for 312 yards, which is a new ASU record. In this pass-happy era, Herm Edwards’ Sun Devils ran the football 48 times for 396 yards. 

5) Colorado 38, UCLA 16 (Friday)— If you had the Buffaloes to be the last unbeaten team in the Pac-12, a) pat yourself on the back, b) unless you’re lying, which you probably are. 

Colorado QB Montez is very good, a mobile field general; their WR Shenault will be in the NFL fairly soon. 

4) Army 42, Buffalo 13— This could be the Cadets’ best team in 20+ years (they went 10-2 in ’96 under current Chiefs’ DC Bob Sutton). Whipping a pretty good Buffalo team suggests that last week’s OT loss at Oklahoma wasn’t a big a shock as we thought it was. In their last two games, Army has converted 22-35 third down plays. 

3) Michigan 20, Northwestern 17— Wildcats led 17-0 five minutes into the 2nd quarter, then didn’t score again and suffered a bitter loss. Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald is a pretty cool guy, but he fired his headset down when this game ended. 

This was the 3rd-biggest comeback win in Michigan football history. 

2) Western Michigan 40, Miami OH 39— Broncos’ QB Wassink was 27-42/439 yards passing with five TD’s, no INT’s. Wassink ran two yards for the winning score with 2:53 left in a game they trailed 33-21 in third quarter. 

1) Middle Tennessee State 25, Florida Atlantic 24— Down 24-17 in last minute, Blue Raiders scored TD with 0:38 left, went for two points and the win; coach’s son Brent Stockstill threw for the two points, as MTSU wins a game they once trailed 21-3. 

Saturday’s List of 13: Trends on non-top 13 college football games

13) Army lost in OT at Oklahoma LW; they’re 9-4-1 vs spread in last 14 games as a single digit underdog. Under Monken, Cadets are 7-7-2 as road underdogs. Buffalo is 3-0-1 in last four games as a home favorite. Home side won last three series games, with all three games decided by 8 or fewer points. 

12) Northern Illinois won its last six games with Eastern Michigan, last two 30-27/31-24. NIU is 10-5 as road underdogs under Carey, 0-2 this year. Since ’08, EMU is 5-12 as home favorites, 3-3 in last six. Eagles are 14-15 SU in their last 29 games, after going 7-41 from 2012-15. 

11) Syracuse upset Clemson at home LY, after losing 54-0 in Death Valley two years ago; under Babers, Orange are 7-3 as road underdogs- they covered seven of last nine games when getting 20+ points. Since 2008, Tigers are 12-21 when laying 20+ points. 

10) Air Force won three of last four games with Nevada, with average total in those games, 84. Wolf Pack lost 45-48 OT/48-31 in last two visits here. Nevada is 4-9 in its last 16 games as home favorites, 7-9 in last 16 games as single digit dogs. Since 2009, Falcons are 8-16 as MW home favorites. 

9) Arizona State/Oregon State split last six meetings; Beavers lost 30-17/35-20 in last two trips to Tempe. Since ’12, ASU is 19-11 as home favorites; they covered only one of last five when laying 20+ points. Since 2014, OSU is 7-14-1 as road underdogs, 2-4-1 when getting 20+ points. 

8) Underdogs covered five of last six Georgia-Tennessee games. Dawgs beat Tennessee 41-0 in Knoxville LY; prior to that, previous five meetings were all decided by 7 or fewer points, with average total of 67. Vols are 0-6 vs spread last six times they got 20+ points. 

7) TCU won four of last five games with Iowa State, losing 14-7 (-6 in Ames LY; Cyclones are 6-4 as road underdogs under Campbell, 5-2 in last seven games as double digit dogs. TCU lost last two games to Ohio St/Texas; they’re 2-9-1 in last dozen games as home favorites. 

6) Not only is Nebraska 0-3 for first time since 1945; they’re 0-9 vs spread in last nine home games; Cornhuskers won four of last five games with Purdue, winning 27-14/35-14 in last two games played here. Underdogs are 22-7 vs spread in Purdue’s last 29 road games; since 2012. Boilers are 0-3 as road favorites. 

5) Louisiana Tech won three of last four games with North Texas, but Mean Green upset Tech 24-23 in Ruston LY- road teams won four of last five series games. Since 2011, UNT is 14-7 as home favorite, but only 2-5 in last seven C-USA games as a HF. Tech is 11-3 in last 14 games as a road underdog. 

4) Western Kentucky won three of last four games with Marshall, but lost 30-23 (+10) in Huntington LY. Since 2014, Marshall is 8-6-1 as road favorites; they’re 6-3-1 in last 10 games as single digit dogs. Since 2009, Hilltoppers are 12-5 as home underdogs. 

3) Florida Atlantic beat Middle Tennessee 38-20 LY, ending 9-game series skid; under Kiffin, FAU is 9-3 vs spread as favorites, 3-1 on road. Since ’08, Blue Raiders are 4-10 as home dogs. Owls lost last visit to Murfreesboro 77-56 two years ago. 

2) Boise State won five of last six games with Wyoming, losing 30-28 (-14) in last visit to Laramie, two years ago (Josh Allen was Wyoming’s QB). Since ’08, Boise is 37-16 as a road favorite- they’re 15-19 in last 34 games when laying 10+ points. 

1) Michigan beat Northwestern 38-0 at home in 2015, teams’ last meeting; Wolverines won last three visits to Evanston, by 1-8ot-18 points. Since ’13, Michigan is 5-8 as road favorites; they’re 17-18 in last 35 games as double digit favorites. Wildcats are 7-3 in last 10 games as double digit underdogs. 

Friday’s List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind……

13) Rams 38, Vikings 31— Scouting in football is very important: 

— Rams WR Cooper Kupp went to college at Eastern Washington.
— Vikings WR Adam Theilen went to college at Mankato State. 

Two damn good players; teams with really good scouts found them. 

12) Oklahoma Sooners had the ball for only 15:19 vs Army last week, Sooners’ lowest TOP in any game since at least 1995.

11) Cleveland Indians will end the regular season with a winning record against their division, but a losing record against everyone else; they’re first playoff team to do that since the 2009 Minnesota Twins, who got swept in the ALDS. 

10) Last week, Seattle RB Chris Carson carried the ball 32 times, most by any Seahawk since Week 12 of 2006, when Shaun Alexander carried it 40 times.

9) Since Bill Lazor became the Bengals’ OC, only Tom Brady, Russell Wilson have thrown more TD passes than Cincy QB Andy Dalton.

8) Elsewhere…..Denver Broncos’ TE Jake Butt tore his ACL and is expected to miss the remainder of the season; he got hurt going thru what basically was a walk-thru. Freak injury 

7) Actor John Hurt has died in 45 different movies, making him the unofficial leader in on-screen deaths.

6) This from Darren Rovell of ESPN:

20 years ago, when Mark McGwire hit his 70th home run of the year for the Cardinals, Phil Ozersky, a fan making $30,000 a year, caught the baseball. Cardinals asked him for the ball in exchange for a signed bat, ball and jersey. Ozersky said he also wants to meet McGwire. McGwire declined. 

Three months later, Ozersky sold ball for $3.05M. Thats million, with an M. 

5) Former NBA star Amare Stoudemire is still playing basketball, for a pro team in Israel that is also the co-owner of. 

4) Rockies 5, Phillies 3— Philly went 0-8 on their road trip, their worst road trip since 1883. Thats 18-83, not 19-83. 

On August 5, Phillies were 63-48 and stop the NL East after beating the Marlins; they’re 15-33 since then. 

3) Thursday afternoon, in the midst of an 12-1 blowout of Tampa Bay, CC Sabathia drilled Jesus Sucre of the Rays, in retaliation for an inside pitch a Tampa pitcher had thrown earlier. Sabathia was ejected from the game, leaving him two innings short of a $500,000 innings bonus. 

Will they give him the $500K for being a good teammate? 

2) Miami 47, North Carolina 10— Maybe the UNC players shouldn’t sell the sneakers/gear they get for free, then they wouldn’t get suspended, then their team wouldn’t get whacked just about every week. Miami came in struggling, but had a big night here. 

1) Weird stat: in the 57-year history of the Mets, Jacob deGrom may become the first Mets pitcher ever to finish the season with a 10-9 record.

Thursday’s List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud…..

13) Baseball season ends Sunday; every major league game will start at 3pm ET, to make it more interesting for teams competing in the pennant races. Interesting idea they’ve been doing for a while now. 

12) Now this is a rivalry; Giants’ P Madison Bumgarner asked for his last start of the year to be pushed back to Friday, so he can pitch against the Dodgers and hopefully knock them out of the playoff race. 

11) Congrats to Felix Hernandez; the Mariners’ pitcher became an American citizen Tuesday, so good for him!!! His teammate Hector Cruz will join him as an American citizen next week. 

10) Mariners’ OF/2B Dee Gordon has batted 585 times this season; he’s walked nine times, and has an on-base %age of only .288. 

9) Vince Velasquez has started 30 games for the Phillies this year, but pitched total of only 146.1 IP, the least IP per start ever by someone who started 20+ games. 

8) As recently as five years ago, 36 major league pitchers threw 200+ innings; so far this season, only eight pitchers have thrown 200+, with two or three more expected to get there by the end of the week, when the regular season ends. More and more, pitchers are getting coddled. 

7) Bears’ 16-14 win in Arizona Sunday was a big win for them; from 2014-17, Chicago was 8-21 in games decided by 7 or fewer points. Finding a way to win is important. 

6) Speaking of which, Arizona Cardinals were 21-12-1 under former coach Bruce Arians in games decided by 7 or fewer points. Would’ve been interesting to see Arians work with rookie QB Josh Rosen, who makes his first start Sunday against the Seahawks. 

5) All-time record for most home runs hit on the road by one team in a season is 138, set by the 2001 San Francisco Giants. A’s have 132 homers on road this year, with three games left. 

4) Phillies lost their first three games in Denver this week by a combined score of 34-4; not a gutty effort by this team, who seem to have packed it in under rookie manager Gabe Kapler. 

Colorado won, Dodgers lost Wednesday, so Rockies are in first place in NL West, and Dodgers lead St Louis by a game for the second Wild Card spot. Brewers/Cubs clinched playoff spots last nite. 

3) If I ain’t startin’, then I’m departin’…….Clemson QB Kelly Bryant is leaving the school, after the Tigers named freshman Trevor Lawrence the starter for the rest of this season. 

New rule they put in this year; you can red-shirt as long as you play in only four of fewer games, which is where Bryant is now— he can play one year somewhere else down the road.

2) Tennessee Titans WR Richard Matthews was a  no-show at practice on Wednesday, then told a local media outlet that he plans to “move on” from the team.

Matthews texted this to a media person Wednesday night: ”Everything is good! Just wasn’t happy with what was going on barely getting any playing time. It was time to move on.” 

So far this season, Matthews has caught three passes for 11 yards; he caught 53 passes for 795 yards in 2017, when Tennessee had a different coaching staff.

1) Happy 73rd birthday to Dave Duncan, former catcher/pitching coach who won two World Series rings with the A’s— he was one of the best pitching coaches ever. 

Wednesday’s List of 13: NFL stats, and other stuff…….

13) Tampa Bay Bucs play in Chicago Sunday, then have their bye week; Ryan Fitzpatrick just became the first QB EVER to throw for 400+ yards three games in a row. Problem is, he isn’t the Bucs’ starting QB; he is the backup who started while Jameis Winston was suspended for off-field issues. 

If Winston is on the Tampa Bay roster next March 13, the Bucs will owe him $20.9M; thats going to be a very interesting decision. Fitzpatrick will be 36 in late November, so he isn’t the QB of the future in the Big Sombrero. Question is: if not Winston, then who?

12) Arizona Cardinals are switching to rookie Josh Rosen as their starting QB for their home game with Seattle Sunday; Arizona put Rosen in the game with about 4:15 left Sunday and the Cardinals down 16-14— very difficult spot to be put in, for his NFL debut. 

In their first three games, Arizona’s offense:
— Total yards: 213-137-221
— 3rd down conversions: 1-8, 3-12, 3-10
— Turnovers: 2-1-4 (minus-3 for season)
— Cardinals had zero red zone snaps in their last two games.
— Arizona has been scoreless in four of six halves this season.

In other words, Rosen’s starting won’t hurt any. 

11) Happy 85th birthday to the great Hubie Brown, who won 528 games and two NBA Coach of the Year titles; he is still an excellent basketball analyst for ESPN. 

Long time ago, October 15, 1984 to be exact, Knicks-Bulls played an exhibition game in Glens Falls, an hour from where I live- Michael Jordan was a rookie, but he wasn’t “Michael Jordan” yet, just the 3rd pick in the NBA Draft. 

Friend of mine and I went to Glens Falls during the day and walked in the arena while the Knicks were having their walk-thru. No one stopped us, so we went down to the floor and sat down on the end of the Knicks’ bench and watched practice. When I stretched my legs, my feet were on the court- it was awesome. 

10) After practice, I talked to Bernard King, the Knicks’ star and Hubie Brown; both guys were nice to me, Coach Brown talked to me for 10 minutes about what stats (analytics now) are good to use and what ones aren’t. That was a good day 

10) Clemson named true freshman Trevor Lawrence starting QB for this week vs Syracuse; the previous starter, Kelly Bryant, is apparently not happy and may transfer— he had a meeting with Dabo Swinney on Monday. The meeting was said to be “emotional”; Bryant didn’t practice on Monday or Tuesday.

9) Garbagemen come thru my neighborhood at 5:40am on Tuesdays, when it is still very dark out- now that is a bad job, especially in winter, when it is cold as hell. In summers, the sun is actually out at 5:40, so it might not be so bad. What time do these guys have to get up? Yuk. 

8) Angels’ DH/P Shohei Ohtani will undergo elbow surgery next week; not sure what that means for his availability as a hitter next spring, but he won’t pitch at all next season.

7) Seems like NFL bye weeks are more stretched out this season; Panthers-Redskins are off this week; Rams-Chiefs don’t have their bye until Thanksgiving weekend, after their Mexico City tilt. 

6) NFL teams who scored most pts/possession in the red zone this season:
Ravens 6.92 ppp, Chiefs 6.67, Bengals 6.50, Seahawks 6.33

Seattle scored 38 points on only six red zone drives, T3rd least in NFL. Arizona has only been inside opponents’ red zone twice.

Teams with worst ppp in red zone:
Cardinals 3.00, Jets 3.33, Titans 3.83, Broncos 3.88

5) NFL teams who allowed fewest pts/possession in the red zone this season:
Titans 2.60, Dolphins 2.67, Eagles 3.25, Jaguars 3.67

Teams who’ve allowed most ppp in red zone:
Panthers 7.14, Bucs 6.56, Chiefs 6.44, Falcons 6.27

4) NFL teams who scored most ppp on drives starting 75+ yards from goal line:
Chiefs 2.94, Falcons 2.90, Ravens 2.87, Bengals 2.60

Teams who scored fewest ppp on drives starting 75+ yards from goal line:
Cardinals 0.65, Vikings 0.80, Jets/Texans 0.86

3) Teams with most plays of 20+ yards this season:
Bucs 21, Chargers 20, Chiefs 19, Broncos 18, Bengals 17

Teams with fewest plays of 20+ yards:
Cowboys 4, Titans 5, Cardinals/Bears/Patriots 6. 

2) Teams who allowed fewest plays of 20+ yards:
Cowboys 4, Redskins 6, Jaguars 7, Ravens/Browns, Lions, Seahawks 9

Teams who allowed most plays of 20+ yards:
Chiefs/Steelers 20, Chargers/Raiders 17, Panthers 16

1) Buffalo has gone 3/out on 18 of its 35 drives this season.
Rams have gone 3/out on one of their 27 drives. 

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

13) Someone in Las Vegas Saturday bet $5,000 on the Cleveland Browns to win the AFC at 50-1; they win one game in 635 days and a guy is dropping five grand on them to get to the Super Bowl. 

Someone else risked $9,000 to win $450 ($450!!!!) on the Vikings Sunday; all they had to do was beat the 17-point dog underdog Buffalo Bills. 

Gambling and winning is difficult. 

12) Then again, a gambler at Buffalo Bill’s casino in Primm, NV hit a $25, 8-team parlay Saturday, using eight “under” bets on college football totals. Winning wager was worth $4,500.

11) There are bitter losses, then there is Oregon’s home loss to Stanford Saturday night. 

— Ducks led 24-7 at halftime.
— Oregon had ball in Stanford territory up 24-7 in 3rd quarter; Stanford’s defense picks up an Oregon fumble and runs 80 yards for a TD.
— Ducks had ball in Stanford territory in last minute, appeared to have first down that would have ended game, but runner fumbled, Cardinal recovered and they tied game with a FG.
— Stanford wins the game in OT.  

10) Minnesota Twins have allowed 10 walk-off homers this year, an all-time record; they’ve had 15 walk-off losses, which is one short of the all-time record, held by five teams:

1924 Phillies
1943 St Louis Browns
1966 Red Sox
1969 Giants
1975 Houston Astros

9) Lookalikes, when they both have a hat on: Tennessee football coach Jeremy Pruitt and Indians’ manager Terry Francona. 

8) Eli Manning makes roughly $200,000 a year (give-or-take $20K) to do a for short spot each week with Mike Francesa on WFAN in New York City during the football season. Thats a lot of cash to pay a guy for spewing cliches while failing to appear interested. 

7) Sounds like the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves are off to a great start this season; the star player wants to be traded, the coach and the GM don’t want to trade him, but the owner does, so he orders the reluctant GM to engage in trade talks. Could be a long winter for the Wolves. 

Minnesota also signed its other star, All-Star center Karl-Anthony Towns to a 5-year, $190M super-maximum contract extension. Apparently the two stars didn’t get along well. 

6) Things you don’t see in lot of places: After the A’s game Saturday night, 40 or so fans lined up on the third base line, the players/coaches took their jerseys off, signed them and gave them to the corresponding fan who won the contest to win that person’s jersey. Pretty cool promotion.

5) ESPN play-by-play guy Joe Tessitore is a little bit of a hype master; Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes is off to a great start in his career, but you’re not “a superstar” after four games. 

4) If you’re counting New England out as a Super Bowl contender this year, remember that the Patriots were 1-3 in ’01 and won the Super Bowl; they were 2-2 in ’03 and won the Super Bowl, and were 2-2 in ’14 and won the Super Bowl.

That said, Miami is 3-0 and everyone else in the AFC East is 1-2. Dolphins are visiting Foxboro Sunday, and that suddenly becomes a much more important game. 

3) With Jimmy Garoppolo done for this year, 49ers’ coach Kyle Shanahan said he’s working out several FA QBs tomorrow; Tom Savage. Kellen Clemens. TJ Yates. Nick Mullens will be promoted from the practice squad. Matt Moore may also try out. 

CJ Beathard is now the 49ers’ starting QB. 

2) Steelers 30, Buccaneers 27— Pittsburgh hung a 30-spot on the Bucs in the first half; Tampa Bay turned ball over four times before halftime. Hard to win that way. 

Bucs stormed back in second half, but fell short; Ryan Fitzpatrick is first player in NFL history to throw for 400+ yards in three consecutive games.

1) Meanwhile, in St Pete, the Rays lost 4-1, which means the Oakland A’s are in the playoffs, and I really, really enjoyed typing this sentence. Later this week, I’ll have a lot more on this gritty, gutty team that has pulled off a baseball miracle this season.

Tickets for postseason games in Oakland go on sale Friday morning at 9am, PST

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

Bills 27, Vikings 6— Three of first five times Buffalo had ball, they started drive in Viking territory; Bills had 22-yard edge in field position in winning Josh Allen’s first career road start- they led 27-0 at the half. Underdogs of 16+ points are now 6-75 SU in their last 81 games; this was biggest upset in NFL since Redskins Dallas on Dec. 3, 1995.

Minnesota ran ball only six times for 14 yards in this game; they turned ball over three times. 

Lions 26, Patriots 10— Detroit outgained Patriots 414-209, but they also kicked four FGs while scoring only two TD’s, a red flag for their offense. New England should get Gordon/Edelman back at WR soon; they need ‘em- Patriots averaged only 4.3 yards/pass attempt. Big night for former Patriot assistant coach Matt Patricia- his first win as an NFL head coach. 

Saints 43, Falcons 37 OT— Last four times New Orleans had ball, they ran 38 plays 247 yards, four TD’s; they had only one TD on their first eight drives. Game turned when Saints blocked a punt when trailing 21-16- they scored on a 16-yard drive after that, only one of ten TD drives in this game that was shorter than 75 yards. Atlanta gained 9.4 yards/pass attempt, but their defense fell apart down the stretch. 

Chiefs 38, 49ers 27— Overshadowing this game is Garoppolo blowing out his knee, a disaster for San Francisco. Chiefs’ offense was perfect in first half; five drives, 41 plays, 295 yards, five TD’s and a 35-10 lead. KC now has 15 TD’s, only two FGA’s this year. Home side has now won last ten games in this series. CJ Beathard takes over at QB; would the Niners take a look at bringing back Colin Kaepernick? 

Rams 35, Chargers 23— Rams lost both starting CB’s during this game; they play Minnesota on Thursday, which could be dicey. In this game, Rams blocked punt for a TD, only TD scored all week in NFL by defense/special teams. Teams combined to convert 15-24 on third down in this game; Rams had three TD drives of 75+ yards- they didn’t have one longer than 59 yards in first two games. 

Dolphins 28, Raiders 20— Oakland is 0-3 despite leading all three games at halftime; they’ve been outscored 64-17 in second half this season. Miami averaged 13.3 yards/pass attempt, including a 52-yard TD on a trick play that gave Miami the lead for good with 7:18 left. Fish are now +4 in turnovers- over is 12-4 in their last sixteen home games.

Eagles 20, Colts 16— Wentz was 25-37/227 passing in his 2018 debut; Eagles outgained Colts 379-209 for game, overcoming -2 turnover ratio. Indy is obviously much-improved with Luck back at QB; they scored only 16 points on five red zone drives, though and were 2-12 on third down, after going 20-33 in first two games. Philly had a TD drive that lasted over 11:00. 

Panthers 31, Bengals 21— Teams with -4 turnover ratios rarely win; Dalton threw four picks, allowed 230 rushing yards (McCaffery had 28 carries for 184 yards, after catching 14 passes for 102 yards LW). Cincy had eight plays of 20+ yards; Carolina has allowed 15 such plays in their last two games.  All three Bengal games this year went over the total. 

Ravens 27, Broncos 14— More and more I hear that “….the first four games of NFL season are for evaluation”, since starters don’t play much in preseason these days. Home side is 3-0 vs spread in Raven games. Denver is now 1-10 in its last 11 road games; they’re 4-12 vs spread in last 16 games as road underdogs. Ravens scored first TD on 6-yard drive after a blocked punt; 

Titans 9, Jaguars 6— First NFL game this season with no TD’s; there was only play of 20+ yards. Gabbert started at QB, got knocked goofy, Mariota threw for only 100 yards. Tennessee has now won five of last six games vs Jacksonville; first downs in this game were 15-12, Titans. Rams had 14 first downs in first quarter alone Sunday. 

Redskins 31, Packers 17– In first half, Redskins had ball six times; they ran 33 plays for 323 yards scoring four TD’s- they led 28-10 at the half on a rainy day. Adrian Peterson had 19 carries for 120 yards. Thru three games, Green Bay has only 36 points on nine red zone drives. Over is now 14-3 in Green Bay’s last 17 road games. 

Giants 27, Texans 22— Houston’s two running backs ran ball combined 14 times for 23 yards; Watson threw for 385 yards, but they’ve got no balance and now O’Brien is on the hot seat. Manning was 25-29/297 passing as Big Blue silences the back pages of the tabloids for a week. Bekcham had nine catches for 109 yards; his presence is opening up chances for other guys to catch passes. 

Bears 16, Cardinals 14— Arizona put rookie QB Josh Rosen in for his NFL debut with 4:31 left and Cardinals down 16-14; I’ve never seen a coach put a young QB on the spot like that before. He threw INT’s on both his drives, though one was on 4th down so he had to force ball in. 

Arizona led 14-0 in first quarter; after that, they ran 39 plays for 120 yards and zero points. Redbirds turned the ball over on all four of their second half possessions. 

Seahawks 24, Cowboys 13— Seattle won its last ten home openers, and 15 of last 16; they were +3 in turnovers here. In three games, Cowboys have only four plays of 20+ yards; they’ve scored total of 21 points in losing both their road games, are 8-38 on third down. Under is 15-2-1 in Seahawks’ last 18 home openers. Under is 18-7 in Cowboys’ last 25 road games. 

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

13) Couple of Week 3 NFL trends to consider:
— Over last five years, teams playing their home opener in Week 3 are 6-11-1 vs spread; 4-8-1 if favored, 2-3 if an underdog. Chiefs-Seahawks-Texans are in that boat this week.

— Teams playing their road opener in Week 3 are 8-9 vs spread; 2-3 if favored, 6-6 if an underdog. Packers-Broncos-Saints are in that boat this week. 

12) Old Dominion 49 (+27.5), Virginia Tech 35— Monarchs are in their fifth season of I-A football; they lost 52-10 to Liberty earlier this month, but they pulled a shocker here, beating a Tech squad that recruits heavily in ODU’s talent-rich backyard. 

Old Dominion scored four 4th quarter TD’s, on drives of 75-67-75-79 yards; they put up 632 yards on the Hokies. 

11) Oklahoma 28, Army 21 OT— Sooners were 30-point favorite; they needed OT to win, after Cadets ran 87 plays from scrimmage, converted 13-21 third down plays, 4-5 fourth down plays. Oklahoma averaged 8.9 yards per play but ran only 40 plays the whole game. 

10) Stanford 38, Oregon 31 OT— Ducks are on their third head coach in three years; am guessing Mario Cristobal will stay for a while, but his clock management needs some work. 

Ducks led this game 24-7 at the half, but Stanford fought back, forced an Oregon turnover with 0:50 left, and tied the game at the gun, then won it in OT.

If Stanford coach David Shaw wanted to be an NFL head coach, he’d get a lot of offers.  

9) Texas 31, TCU 16— Tom Herman is now 6-1 vs spread as an underdog in his four years as a head coach. TCU turned ball over four times (-4) in this game; hard to win that way. 

Who made TCU’s schedule? Ohio State/Texas on consecutive Saturdays? No bueno. 

8) Upsets of the Day:
— Old Dominion (+27.5) 49, Virginia Tech 35
— Texas Tech (+14.5) 41, Oklahoma State 17
— Kentucky (+10) 28, Mississippi State 7
— Purdue (+7) 30, Boston College 13
— Illinois State (I-AA team) 35, Colorado State 19

7) Penn State 63, Illinois 24— Illinois led Penn State 24-21 early in third quarter Friday night; they lost 63-24, biggest loss since 2003 by a team that led at any point in second half. 

Nittany Lions outscored their last three opponents 108-0 in second half. 

6) Buffalo 42, Rutgers 13— Why is Rutgers in the Big 14? Not only were the Scarlet Knights a 6-point home underdog in this game, Buffalo got a $920,000 check just for showing up playing the game.

Here’s the thing; if you pay a team $920,000 to show up, you’re supposed to beat them. 

5) Georgia 43, Missouri 29— Dawgs scored a defensive TD, scored another TD on a blocked punt; total yardage was only 445-393 Georgia, but Mizzou turned ball over time three times (plus the BP), completed less than half their passes and Georgia won a game that seemed closer than it actually was. 

All three of Georgia’s offensive TDs were on plays of 33+ yards

4) Texas-San Antonio 25, Texas State 21— Difference in game was Roadrunners’ defense; they scored a TD in the first minute, and a safety in last 2:00 of this game. 

3) Florida 47, Tennessee 21— Volunteers aren’t very good; they turned ball over six times in this game. Some assistant coaches are more recruiters than tacticians; Tennessee needs some serious recruiters on their staff, because this roster lacks a quarterback, to start…….

2) Utah State 42, Air Force 32— Guy at SouthPoint casino Saturday night risked $72,000 to win $20,000 on Utah State to win SU— he banks the $20,000 with Utah State winning this game. Aggies were a 10-point favorite. 

1) South Carolina 37, Vanderbilt 14— Andy Ludwig is the offensive coordinator at Vanderbilt; he’s worked at 13 different schools in his 32-year college coaching career. Guy must be awful good at packing. 

Saturday’s Den: College football trends for today’s non-top 13 games

13) Akron is 16-11 as road underdogs under Terry Bowden; they upset Northwestern LW, as a 21-point dog. Iowa State is 5-1 in last six tries as home favorites; they played Oklahoma LW, play TCU next week, so a sandwich game here for them. 

12) Under Doeren, NC State is 7-3 as road favorites; they beat Marshall 37-20 (-23) at home LY. Thundering Herd is 6-5 as home underdogs under Holliday; since 2011, they’re 19-8-1 as a single digit underdog. 

11) Road team won both Minnesota-Maryland games last two years; Gophers are 2-5-2 in last nine games as road underdogs- they’re 9-5 in games where spread was 3 or fewer points. Terps are 3-6 in last nine games as a Big 14 home favorite. 

10) North Carolina won its last five games vs Pitt, all by 7 or fewer points, with average total in those games of 54.6. Tar Heels are 1-6 in last seven games as home underdogs, 7-15-2 as an underdog of less than 10 points. Under Narduzzi, Pitt is 2-1 as road favorites. 

9) Clemson won last visit to Georgia Tech 26-7 in ‘16, their first win in last six visits here; since ’14, Tigers are 7-12 as road favorites. Tech is 4-8 in last 12 tries as home underdogs; they’re 3-6-1 in last ten games as double digit underdogs.

8) Notre Dame won last four games with Wake Forest, last three by 11+ points; this is their first visit here since a 24-17 (-13) win in ’11. Since 2011, Irish are 7-12 as road favorites, 3-8 in last 11 tries as single digit favorites. Wake Forest is 8-4-1 in last 13 games as home underdogs. 

7) Mississippi State won six of last seven games with Kentucky, but lost 40-38 (-4) in last visit here, in ’16. Bulldogs covered three of last four tries as road favorites. Under Stoops, Kentucky is 3-11-2 as home underdogs, 8-13-2 as a double digit underdog. 

6) LSU upset Auburn next week, plays Ole Miss next, so sandwich game here vs Louisiana Tech team they haven’t met since ’09. Tech covered 10 of last 13 tries as road underdogs; they’re 6-6 as double digit dogs. LSU is 1-6 vs vs spread last seven times they laid 20+ points. 

5) Kansas won its last two games after opening with loss to a I-AA team; since ’08, Jayhawks are 14-29-2 as road underdogs, 7-13 if getting single digit spread. Since 2015, Baylor is 5-9 as home favorites; they won last five series games, by average score of 54-10. 

4) Air Force won its last three games vs Utah State, by 3-7-7 points; Flyboys covered eight of last ten games as road underdogs. Utah State is 5-9 in last 14 tries as home favorites; they’re 13-8 in last 21 games as double digit favorites. 

3) Since 2013, Alabama is 13-6-1 as a home favorite in SEC games, 8-11-2 in last 20 games when laying 20+ points- they won last three games with Texas A&M, by average score of 34-19. Since 2013, Aggies are 5-8 as road underdogs- they covered four of last five when getting 20+ points. 

2) Arizona State (+18) upset Washington 13-7 in the desert LY; they won four of last five games with the Huskies, losing 44-18 in last visit here. Since 2011, ASU is 7-12-2 as road underdogs. Under Petersen, Washington is 14-10 as home favorites; they’re 13-12 when laying 10+ points. 

1) Eastern Michigan covered 11 of last 13 games as road underdogs; they upset Purdue already this year. Since 2015, San Diego State is 7-11 as home favorites. Last seven years, MW teams are 15-11 vs spread when playing a MAC opponent. 

Friday’s List of 13: A Baker’s dozen interesting things…….

13) Browns 21, Jets 17— This rematch of the first-ever Monday Night Football game in 1970 gave us an awful lot to think about. 

— This game was awful, a total dud, until Tyrod Taylor got hurt in the 2nd quarter, with Jets leading 14-0. Rookie Baker Mayfield made his NFL debut, and he sparked the Browns to this win- who does he remind me of? I’ll get back to you on this. 
— You could hear it in Troy Aikman’s voice how excited he was to see Mayfield play; you could read the Browns players’ body language- they were excited, too.
— Cleveland and the Jets are BOTH vastly improved; this was the Browns’ night, but Sam Darnold will be a good player, in time.
— Lot of free beer was given out in Cleveland Thursday; hope everyone was safe.
— After the game, Hue Jackson wouldn’t commit to Mayfield being the starter going forward. If I owned the Browns, I’d make that decision for Jackson. Then again, if I owned the Browns, Hue Jackson wouldn’t be the coach. 

12) Cleveland Browns as a favorite last 3+ years
2018: -3 vs NJ Jets: W21-17
2017: -1.5 @ Colts L28-31
2017: -1 vs NJ Jets L14-17
2015: -4 vs Ravens L27-33
2015: -1.5 vs 49ers: W24-10

11) Browns sideline reporter Nathan Zegura was banned from the team’s radio broadcasts for eight games, after he yelled at an NFL official over a call during Sunday’s loss to the Saints in the Superdome. He was also banned from his weekday radio show for two weeks, and won’t return to the radio station’s pre-game or post-game shows.

10) Each NFL teams has 10 players on their practice squad, so thats 320 players- out of those 320 guys, 141 of them weren’t drafted, so 44% of practice squad guys were overlooked in the draft, which gives lot of obscure players hope. 

9) So far this season, in two games: 

Saints’ WR Mike Thomas: 28 catches, 269 yards, 3 TDs
All the Buffalo Bills: 29 catches, 343 yards, 1 TD

8) Roughing the passer penalty called on Green Bay’s Clay Matthews with 1:37 left in regulation Sunday was a terrible call; it negated the game-clinching INT by Green Bay. Minnesota went on to tie the game, and the game ended that way, so it cost the Packers a half-game in standings. 

But think about it, Minnesota missed two FG’s in the OT, and they changed kickers during this week, so that call also cost the Vikings’ kicker his job. 

7) Watching Aaron Rodgers in that game, I was reminded of when we first went out to bars to watch out-of-town NFL games on the satellite dish, back 25-30 years ago. Was worth the time and effort, just to watch Barry Sanders run with the ball— feel the same way about Rodgers now. 

6) Baltimore Ravens have won their last 14 exhibition games; now we might know why; they were just fined $200,000 by the NFL for having multiple players wearing hearing devices in their helmets during preseason games- only one is allowed on the field at any time. 

Ravens, like all guilty parties, threw their hands up and said “We didn’t know!!!” that the rule pertained to the preseason too. Uh-huh. 

5) If Alabama was playing in the national title game this weekend, the spreads vs various opponents would be:

— Alabama -9.5 vs Ohio State
— Alabama -10.5 vs Georgia
— Alabama -11.5 vs Clemson
— Alabama -14.5 vs Oklahoma 

4) Mets shut down P Zach Wheeler for his last two starts; Wheeler threw 182.1 IP this year, compared to 86.1 last year- he didn’t pitch anywhere in 2015-16, but did throw 185.1 innings in 2014 (after 100 IP in ’13). They’re erring on the side of caution.

3) You can bet on almost anything, its actually fun to figure this stuff out:

How many missed extra points will there be in Week 3 of the NFL?
over 4,  -$135
under 4, -$105

2) Angels’ catcher Francisco Arcia is the first player EVER to pitch, catch and hit a home run in the same game. He mopped up on the mound in the Halos’ 21-3 loss to Oakland Thursday. 

1) Major League Baseball needs to scrap its blackout policy; do you know they rarely show Dodger games on TV in Las Vegas casinos, because of those stupid rules?

I was in the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas back in May; there were probably a hundred people left in the book, and the Dodger game was the last game going— they could have had in-game wagering, but the game couldn’t be shown, so the screens had nothing live going on, since it was off-night for any NBA/NHL playoff action.

So instead of a hundred people hanging around, wagering/talking/thinking about baseball, or the very least, watching it, everyone scattered to other parts of the casino or home or up to their rooms. How does that help baseball?

Expose your product to as many people as possible!!!! Thats how to grow your business. 

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

13) Oakland Raiders’ starters have an average age of 29.13, oldest NFL lineup since the 2010 Redskins- is Jon Gruden this generation’s George Allen?  

Oldest NFL lineup since 2000? The ’04 Buccaneers (29.9), also coached by Jon Gruden. 

If you don’t know, George Allen coached Rams/Redskins in 60’s/70’s; he won a ton of games, is in the Hall of Fame— his approach was to trade just about all his draft picks for veteran players. His teams were really, really “experienced” 

Allen’s career record was 118-54-5; his ’72 Redskins were NFC champs, losing 14-7 to Miami’s undefeated Dolphins in the Super Bowl that year. 

12) Youngest Week 1 lineups in NFL:

Oldest: Raiders-Patriots-Falcons-Cardinals

11) College with most players on Week 1 NFL rosters:
44- Alabama
40- LSU
37- Florida
36- Miami, Fla, Ohio State
33- Florida State

10) Westgate Super Contest in Las Vegas, with a $1,500 buy-in, pays off the top 100 finishers. 2,712 people are in this year’s contest.

Winner is going to get $1,422,214.20, runner-up $517,168.80. 

Places #81-100 each collect $2,154.87. 

9) Russell Wilson is first NFL QB to be sacked 6+ times in each of his first two games of a season since Detroit’s Joey Harrington, in 2007. 

8) Random political opinion; I don’t think people over the age of 80 should be serving in Congress. They should be relaxing with their grandkids, or playing golf. 

7) Genius of the Day award: Lynn Redden, superintendent of the Onalaska Independent School District in Texas, writing on Facebook about Texans’ QB Deshaun Watson’s play Sunday: 

“That may have been the most inept quarterback decision I’ve seen in the NFL. When you need precision decision making you can’t count on a black quarterback.”

This guy is the superintendent of a school district. Oy. 

6) Alabama has scored 14 TD’s on 20 drives this season when starting QB Tua Tagovailoa has been in the game. 

5) Mike Trout’s on-base percentage in his career:
2012: .399  2013: .432  2014: .377
2015: .402  2016: .441  2017: .442
2018: .463

4) New Word Alert: Quisling— a traitor who collaborates with an enemy force. 

First heard of this word last year while watching the great Showtime series, Billions. Lot of people on these series stab each other in the back. If you watch enough of these cable series, you’ll never trust anyone the rest of your life…

3) From A gem mint version of a 1980 Larry Bird-Magic Johnson Topps rookie card had a winning bid of $125,200 on eBay on Wednesday night.

Must be nice to be wealthy enough to pay $125K for a basketball card. 

2) Dodgers 5, Rockies 2— Brutal week for Colorado; they’re 2.5 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West, 1.5 games out of the second Wild Card slot. 

1) A’s 10, Angels 0— Much-needed win for the Oaklanders, who are 5.5 games up on Tampa Bay in the Wild Card race; A’s magic number to clinch is 6.

Wednesday’s List of 13: Mid-week musings…….

13) Sunday afternoon in the Marlins-Phillies game, teams used a combined 15 pitchers, and none of them batted, which is first time that ever happened in an NL game.

It is time for baseball to do away with September roster expansion; if they care so much about pace of play, then they should reduce the amount of pitching changes that are made.  

12) Seahawks were drop-kicking the ball when they kicked off a couple times Monday night; pretty sure I’ve never seen that before. Seattle’s punter is an Australian, so he knows drop-kicking from playing Aussie Rules Football, but his onside kick Monday night didn’t work.

Doug Flutie once tried to drop-kick a field goal (or PAT) but this was on a kickoff, which was interesting to see.

11) When do the most explosive plays happen in the NFL? Which down? 

After two weeks of play, there have been 258 plays of 20+ yards; 124 of them (48.1%) came on first down, 83 (32,2%) on second down, 48 on third down, three on 4th down. 

There were 122 explosive plays in Week 1, 136 in Week 2; are offenses now using Weeks 1-4 to get into game shape, since many starters don’t play in preseason anymore? 

10) Coming into Tuesday’s games, Baltimore Orioles were 60 games out of first place; they’re first team since the ’62 Mets to be that far out of first place. 

9) Christian Yelich is only third player since 1900 to hit for the cycle twice in the same season; when the Marlins sold off their outfield last winter, who knew that Yelich would have the best season of those three guys this year?

8) Philadelphia 76ers named Elton Brand as their new GM; he was promoted from from vice president of Basketball Operations. 

7) injury stuff:
— Jaguars lost LT Cam Robinson (torn ACL) for the year.
— Rams lost K Greg Zeurlein for few weeks; they signed K Sam Ficken
— Colorado Rockies lost SS Trevor Story (elbow), but the good news is that it doesn’t look like he needs Tommy John surgery. 

6) Milwaukee Brewers moved their AAA farm club from Colorado Springs to San Antonio starting next year, which will make their minor league pitchers happier. San Antonio had been home of the Padres’ AA team in the Texas League, so fans in the Alamo will see better ball. 

A’s made something official that we reported a few months ago; their AAA farm team will be in Las Vegas starting next year, which is good for A’s fans who enjoy going to Las Vegas (like me). 

Mets’ AAA team jumps from Vegas to Syracuse; Nationals switch from Syracuse to Fresno, the Rangers are moving to Nashville and the Astros to Round Rock. Got all that?

5) There have been 94 days in Las Vegas this year where the temperature got to 100 degrees; the all-time record is 100 days, back in 1947.

4) Remember former Michigan football coach Brady Hoke? He went 31-20 as coach of the Wolverines from 2011-14; now he is the defensive line coach for the Carolina Panthers. It is kind of amazing how much football coaches move; it is a nomadic profession. 

3) Phillies actually had 40 players active last night; Mets’ TV guys said they’ve never heard of any team having the full 40 players eligible for a September game. 

2) Over the last 10 years, 20 NFL teams that have been favored to win by 16+ points; all 20 teams won SU, but went only 8-11-1 against the spread. 

1) Nationals 4, Marlins 2— Bryce Harper batted five times, and walked all five times. 

Monday’s Den: Wrapping up an NFL Sunday

Chiefs 42, Steelers 37— Don’t think I’ve ever seen this before; Patrick Mahomes threw six TD passes in a game where his offense faced only five 3rd down plays the whole day. More TD passes than 3rd down plays? Doesn’t happen much. 

Chiefs led 21-0, it was 21-21 at the half; Pittsburgh scored 58 points in its first two games, but they didn’t win either one of them. And Le’Veon Bell has coughed away $1,760,000 in just two weeks, because…….well, I don’t know why. Guess he doesn’t want to play. 

Saints 21, Browns 18— Cleveland outgained Saints by 52 yards, but Browns’ kicker missed two FG’s, two PAT’s, including one with 1:16 left that would’ve given the Browns a 19-18 lead. Don’t scrimp when it comes to paying kickers; they decide who wins close games. Gregg Williams’ defense held Saints to 5.6 yards/play, but it wasn’t good enough. 

Vikings 29, Packers 29 OT— Two weeks, two ties; not sure I can remember a kicker missing two FG’s in same OT period, but Vikings’ rookie Carlson was 0-3 in this game, 0-2 in OT. Why do contending teams have rookie kickers?!?!?!?!

Green Bay scored only one offensive TD, tried six FG’s; they scored a TD on a blocked punt on Minnesota’s first series. Total yardage here was 480-351 Vikings, but they didn’t win. 

Titans 20, Texans 17— A gentleman in Las Vegas wagered $100,000 on the Texans in this game; imagine having the onions to bet $100K on a team coached by Bill O’Brien?? Total yardage was 437-283 Houston, but Titans got the home win. 

Tennessee led 14-0 early behind backup QB Gabbert and a TD pass off a fake punt, but Houston rallied to lead 17-14 early in 4th quarter, before Titans kicked FG’s on their last two drives to win the game.  

Falcons 31, Panthers 24— Falcons have now won five of last six series games, with all five wins by 7+ points; Carolina lost its last four visits here. Atlanta is 13-2 vs spread in its last 15 home openers. Total yardage was 442-439, Atlanta averaged 9.7 yards/pass attempt. Cam Newton took a vicious shot to the head as he slid after a run; the tackler was ejected. 

Rams 34, Cardinals 0— Arizona needs to play rookie QB Rosen now, because Sam Bradford isn’t competing; he dumps the ball off quick as hell so he won’t get hit. If Rosen isn’t ready, then play Mike Glennon, because the defense got depressed in this game. They know they have no shot. 

Cardinals had five first downs, 137 total yards, and lost field position by 20 yards, in a game where Rams’ kicker Greg Zeurlein strained a groin muscle before the game. Punter Johnny Hekker kicker a FG and a PAT- Rams went for two the other times they scored. 

Chargers 31, Bills 20— Buffalo trailed 26-0/28-6 at halftime of its two games, but at least now rookie QB Allen is getting needed experience that hopefully will pay off down the road (can you hear us, Arizona?). Chargers scored 59 points in splitting their first two games; they visit the Rams in the LA Coliseum next week. 

Bills’ CB Vontae Davis abruptly retired at halftime of this game, saying in a statement that the reality had hit him: “I shouldn’t be out there anymore.”

Dolphins 20, Jets 12— First-place 2-0 Miami ran out to a 20-0 lead, won field position by 10 yards- two of their three TD drives were less than 50 yards- they held Jets to 42 rushing yards. Dolphins covered four of their last five road openers; under is 20-5 in their last 25 road openers.

NFL Network has Jets-Browns on this Thursday night; huge game for both teams. Winner will either be 2-1 or 1-1-1 after three weeks, a big improvement. 

Buccaneers 27, Eagles 21— Ryan Fitzpatrick is 48-61 for 819 yards in two wins; Jameis Winston ain’t getting his job back after his suspension ends next week, at least not right away. Bucs had two drives of one play, 75 yards each- they averaged 11.2 yards/pass attempt. 

49ers 30, Lions 27— Underdogs were 10-4 against spread Sunday, including this back-door cover by Detroit, which scored two TD’s in last 8:40 to beat the number. 

Matthew Stafford threw 53 passes, Lions ran ball only 18 times; he may make $9M a year more than Tom Brady, but Stafford’s career record is 60-67, his playoff record is 0-3. Matt Patricia is learning the hard way that winning without Brady ain’t so easy. 

Guess who the Lions play next week? Brady and the Patriots, on Sunday night. 

Jaguars 31, Patriots 20— Jax’ville avenged their loss in LY’s AFC title game; they converted 10-14 on third down, held Gronkowski to two catches for 15 yards and overcame a -2 turnover ratio. Yardage was 481-302 Jaguars; people have to stop riding Blake Bortles, he’s winning lot of games lately. 

Broncos 20, Raiders 19— Oakland led 12-0 at halftime, 19-7 with 3:00 left in third quarter, but Denver scored on all four second half possessions (two TD’s, two FG”s), kicking winning FG with 0:06 left, giving them two home wins, by total of four points. Raiders converted only 3 of 10 third down plays and fell to 0-2. 

Colts 21, Redskins 9— Indy converted 9 of 16 on 3rd down, scored 21 points on three red zone drives. Redskins kicked FG’s on both their red zone drives, ran ball for only 65 yards- they were 5-15 on third down. Colts are 9-4 in their last 13 games vs NFC teams. Redskins have now lost six of their last seven home openers;

Cowboys 20, Giants 13— Dallas held rookie RB Barkley to 28 rushing yards, sacked immobile QB Manning six times, and won a game that took well under 3:00 to play, shortest NFL game I can remember in long time. Barkley did catch 14 passes for 80 yards; Beckham was held to four catches, 51 yards. 

Sunday’s Den: Wrapping up a college football Saturday

13) Troy 24, Nebraska 19— Cornhuskers are 0-2 for first time since 1957; their QB Martinez sat this game out- walk-on sophomore Bunch played instead. 

This is what happens now; when a team has a QB competition in the summer, the player who loses the competition transfers, because no one wants to be a backup, and it leaves the team very thin at QB. 

12) Syracuse 30, Florida State 7— This was no fluke; Syracuse outgained them 450-240; FSU was 1-14 on third down conversions- they’re 1-2 and they trailed a I-AA team at halftime in the one game they did win. 

Seminoles’ offense is TERRIBLE; their OL doesn’t block much, and their QB didn’t show much of a football IQ at the end of the first half. 

Syracuse led 6-0 but FSU had the ball in the SU red zone (orange zone?); Seminoles didn’t have any timeouts left, but the QB threw a pass by the numbers, the receiver got tackled, and the half ended with no points being scored. Throw it in the end zone, or the sidelines, or throw it away, and at least they kick a field goal. No bueno. 

11) Not the best day for the Big 14:
— Rutgers lost 55-14 at KANSAS
— Wisconsin lost at home to Brigham Young.
— Northwestern lost at home to Akron. 
— Nebraska lost at home to Troy.
— Illinois lost to South Florida before a small crowd at Soldier Field.
— Missouri 40, Purdue 37
— Maryland lost 35-14 at home to Temple; Terps scored zero points on offense; their TD’s were scored by the defense and on a blocked punt. 

10) LSU 22, Auburn 21— How much talent does Ohio State have? Buckeyes’ 3rd-string QB transfers to LSU, becomes the starter there and already has a road win at Auburn, and a neutral field win over Miami. LSU chewed up the final 5:38 on the game-winning drive.

Interviews with Ed Orgeron are odd; can’t understand 80% of what the guy is saying. 

9) Oklahoma 37, Iowa State 27— Sooners avenged their home loss to Iowa State last year, but Cyclones have a WR named Hakeem Butler who is an NFL player- he had five catches for 174 yards and two TD’s. Very impressive player.

8) Upsets of the Day:
BYU (+21.5) 24, Wisconsin 21
Akron (+21) 39, Nebraska 34
Temple (+17) 35, Maryland 14
Troy (+11) 24, Nebraska 19
LSU (+10.5) 22, Auburn 21
North Texas (+7) 44, Arkansas 17

7) Cleveland Browns cut WR Josh Gordon, who is both talented/troubled, and after six years, obviously became more trouble than he is worth.

6) South Florida 25, Illinois 19— Blake Barnett is USF’s QB; he was Alabama’s starting QB in the 2016 opener, got yanked for Jalen Hurts, then transferred to a junior college, then Arizona State, where he threw only five passes, and now USF— his Bulls are off to a 3-0 start.

In a way Barnett is the poster boy for the “If I ain’t startin’, then I’m departin’” age of college football; he got beat out by Hurts at Alabama and then Manny Wilkins at ASU, and he quickly left both schools. 

They said on TV during the USF-Georgia Tech game last week that USF coach Charlie Strong told Barnett that he has to prove to people now that he isn’t a quitter. We’ll see what happens. 

5) North Texas 44, Arkansas 17— Razorbacks blew a big lead and lost at Colorado State LW, then got crushed here by a team from Conference USA. When you throw six INT’s in a game, you lose. Think the natives are restless? 

Arkansas’ 3rd-string QB threw a pick-6, which normally wouldn’t be news, except the kid is John Stephen Jones, Jerry Jones’ grandson. Rough day all around for Arkansas. 

4) Texas Tech 63, Houston 49— Sixteen TD’s, no FGs. one turnover in this touch football game where a total of 192 plays were run, for 1,376 yards. Freshman QB Alan Bowman was 43-59 for 605 yards, five TDs and no INTs. 

By way of contrast, the Dallas-Carolina NFL game last week had 118 plays for 525 yards; there is more action in college football, for the most part. 

3) Missouri 40, Purdue 37— Boilermakers are 0-3, with three losses by total of eight points. 3-0 Mizzou kicked a FG at the gun to win this game- they host Georgia next week. 

2) Ohio State 40, TCU 28— Buckeyes scored 20 points in a 4:01 span of the 3rd quarter, erasing a 21-13 Horned Frog lead, and breaking game open. Up until that point, this was a really good game. 

TCU got $5M to move this game from their campus stadium in Fort Worth to Jerry World in Arlington; the return match for next year in Columbus was scrapped. 

1) Texas 37, USC 14— Trojans lost 17-3 at Stanford last week, then lost by three TD’s here; college football is one sport where a coach’s job security goes in the ashcan in a matter of eight days.

Texas blocked FG for a TD with 6:25 left to play; a made FG would’ve cut Texas’ lead to 23-17. Trojans’ punter had a rough night; USC’s special teams are screwed up right now.

I’ve said this several times already, but no idea why USC is starting a young man at QB who should still be a senior in high school. He is playing against a lot of guys 4-5 years older than he is.