Wednesday’s List of 13: Happy New Year!!!!

13) This season’s bowl records:
AAC: 2-3
ACC: 4-5
Big 14: 3-2
Big X: 1-4
C-USA: 3-4
MAC: 2-3
MW: 4-2
Pac-12: 3-3
SEC: 4-1
Sun Belt: 2-2

12) From Darren Rovell:
Bettor who bet $74,430 on Patriots to beat Dolphins straight up would have won $4,651, but New England lost.

At the same sportsbook, a bettor wagered $744.55 on the Dolphins to win straight up. He won $6,329. 

11) Cleveland Browns fired GM John Dorsey Tuesday, fortifying their position as the worst-run franchise in the NFL. They have zero continuity from year to year, are now replacing their coach and GM, and if the new people aren’t big Baker Mayfield fans, they’ll change QB’s again. 

Baylor coach Matt Rhule declined an interview with the Browns; smart guy. 

10) Next year, the Browns will have their 8th head coach in 12 years; the Steelers have had three head coaches in the last 50 years.

9) 37-year old QB Ryan Fitzpatrick ran the ball for 215 yards this year; that led the Dolphins in rushing for the season. 

Marlon Mack of the Colts ran the ball for 225 yards in one game this season. 

8) Chicago Bears fired four assistants, including OC Mark Helfrich, and re-committed to QB Mitch Trubisky for next year.

7) Arizona State 20, Florida State 14— From 2012-16, Seminoles went 59-9; the last three years, they’re 18-20, and will have their third coach in four years next season. 

6) I’m still trying to process that Seattle had 21 first downs in the 2nd half Sunday; they’ve had seven games this season where they had less than 21 first downs for the whole game. 

5) Solid bit of trivia: Howard Schultz is the guy who used to be the CEO of Starbucks; he grew up in Brooklyn, but went to college at Northern Michigan, where he tried out for the football team, as a QB. But Northern Michigan already had a good QB, a guy named Steve Mariucci, who went on to coach the 49ers and Lions in the NFL.

Starbucks is overpriced, but they do have excellent lemon pound cake. 

4) Baylor coach Matt Rhule is one of the ten highest paid coaches in the country? Wow. Word is the Giants are interested in hiring Rhule as their next coach. 

3) Detroit Lions fired six assistant coaches, which raises the question: Why did they keep the head coach? What has he done to justify his continued employment? 

2) Minnesota Twins signed pitchers Rich Hill ($3M), Homer Bailey ($7M) to one-year deals; Hill isn’t expected to pitch until June after having his arm operated on recently. 

1) Happy New Year, everyone. Hope 2020 is a great year for all of us. 

Tuesday’s List of 13: Our last home page of 2019……

13) If you’re an NFL head coach and your GM drafts a quarterback, you’d best have some job security, because these days, rookie QB’s play sooner than later, and they usually don’t play well, so the team loses and the coach gets fired. They don’t fire players very much.

2013– Mike Shanahan, Redskins (fired after RGIII’s 2nd year)
2014– Dennis Allen, Raiders (Carr)
2015– Ken Whisenhunt, Titans (Mariota)
2016– Jeff Fisher, Rams (Goff)
2017— John Fox, Bears (Trubisky)
2018— Steve Wilks, Cardinals (Rosen)
2018— Hue Jackson, Browns (Mayfield)
2018— Todd Bowles, Jets (Darnold)
2019— Jay Gruden, Redskins (Haskins)
2019— Pat Shurmur, Giants (Jones)

12) Doug Peterson (Wentz), Mike Smith (Ryan) did it right; they got hired as head coach the same year their team drafted a QB, which gives you time to grow together.

11) California 35, Illinois 20— Garbers threw for 272 yards, four TD’s, as Pac-12 evens its bowl record this month at 2-2. 

10) Western Kentucky 23, Western Michigan 20— True freshman kicker nailed a 52-yard FG at the gun for the win; he missed a 29-yard FG at end of first half. 

Hilltoppers outgained WMU 481-307, but threw a pick-6 in last minute of first half that tied score at 10-all. WKU finishes the season 9-4.

9) Louisville 38, Mississippi State 28— Sometimes life is simple; when you hear that one of Miss State’s QB’s couldn’t play in this game, because one of his teammates broke the orbital bone near his eye in a post-practice fracas, then you pick against that team. 

8) College basketball upsets:
— Stetson (+21) 63, South Carolina 56
— South Carolina State (+11) 58, Jacksonville 52
— Green Bay (+5.5) 73, Northern Kentucky 59

7) Michigan State’s basketball team is 2-0 early on in the Big 14 standings; Northwestern is 0-2; the other 12 teams are all 1-1. 

Northwestern lost to Hartford the other day, not a good sign for the Wildcats. 

6) Cal State- Fullerton won 77-74 at UCLA Saturday, which isn’t good for Mick Cronin; losing to North Carolina or Michigan State is one thing, but losing to Big West teams, especially one with a 3-10 record and #275 ranking, is a huge red flag. 

One of Cronin’s apologists tried to blame the talent former coach Steve Alford left behind, but Alford went to Nevada, inherited a total of two players (TWO!!!) from Eric Musselman and the Wolf Pack is 8-5. Maybe Alford is as good a coach as Cronin is.

This is the first UCLA roster without at least one McDonald’s All-American since the award was started in 1977, but plenty of solid D-I players weren’t McDonald’s All-Americans.

5) By the way, over the last 19 years, UCLA had never lost to a team ranked lower than #210 in the KenPom rankings; Fullerton was #284 before they upset the Bruins.

4) USC fired their defensive coordinator and special teams coach after its dismal performance in the Holiday Bowl Friday night. 

3) In the NBA, Knicks have won one playoff series since 2001; they ain’t going to make it there this year, either. Too bad they can’t fire owners for gross incompetence.

2) Zion Williamson has a 5-year sneaker contract worth $15M a year but he still hasn’t played a game yet for the Pelicans.

1) From Zach Berman:
At Caesars sportsbook this summer, the over/under on passing yards for Carson Wentz this season was 4,040.5. You could wager whether Wentz would pass for more or less than 4,040.5 yards.  

He finished with 4,039 yards; Sunday’s finale was played in a steady rain. Very bad beat. 

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

Dolphins 27, Patriots 24:
— Miami drove 75 yards in 3:29 for the winning TD with 0:25 left.
— Dolphins went 5-4 in last nine games, after an 0-7 start.
— Ryan Fitzpatrick should play in the Pro Bowl; seriously.

— Patriots will be hosting a playoff game next weekend.
— In their last eight games, NE was outscored 97-75 in first half.
— Four of last five Patriot games went over the total. 

Chiefs 31, Chargers 21:
— Chargers lost six of their last seven games.
— In last eight games, LA was minus-13 in turnovers (4-17).
— Four of Chargers’ last five games went over the total.

— Chiefs get a first round bye, thanks to New England’s loss.
— Down 14-10, KC ran a kickoff back 104 yards for the go-ahead TD.
— Next time they had the ball, Williams ran 84 yards for a TD on first play. 

Packers 23, Lions 20:
— Green Bay gets a bye next week.
— Packers drove 68 yards in eight plays, kicked GW FG at gun.
— Green Bay won its last five games, allowing 14.2 ppg

— Detroit led this game 17-3 at halftime.
— Lions in 2nd half: 24 plays, 89 yards, 4 first downs, 3 points.
— Detroit lost its last nine games (2-6-1 ATS); they’re 9-17-1 ATS in last 27 games as a home underdog, 4-3 TY.

Bengals 33, Browns 23:
— Browns lost four of last four games, giving up 38-31-33 points in last three.
— Cleveland lost its last six road games; since ’13, they’re 1-7 ATS as a road favorite, 1-4 TY.
— Browns lost nine t of their last 11 visits to Cincinnati.

— Bengals ran ball for 179 yards, converted 9-14 on third down.
— Was this Andy Dalton’s last game as Cincinnati’s QB?
— Bengals’ last four games went over the total. 

Bears 21, Vikings 19:
— Chicago won its fourth game in a ow over the Vikings.
— Pineiro kicked GW 22-yard FG with 0:10 left.
— Spread opened Vikings -7, wound up Vikings +4.

— Minnesota went 0-4-1 ATS in last five home games.
— Both teams scored only one TD, kicked four FG’s.
— Boone ran ball 17 times for 148 yards and a TD.

Falcons 28, Buccaneers 22 OT:
— Falcons tied game with FG at gun, won it on a pick-6 on first play of OT.
— Atlanta won six of its last eight games after a 1-7 start.
— Falcons scored 9 points on five trips to red zone; no bueno.

— Tampa Bay didn’t score in 2nd half or OT.
— Winston is first QB ever with 30+ TD’s, 30+ INT’s.
— Bucs were 0-3 on FG’s, Atlanta was 5-5. 

Saints 42, Panthers 10:
— New Orleans won six of its last seven games overall, scoring 20 TD’s on their last 42 drives
— Saints won six of last seven series games, winning last three visits to Charlotte by 3-21-32 points
—  Saints will host Minnesota in the early game Sunday afternoon. 

— Carolina lost its last eight games (2-6 ATS).
— Panthers’ first seven drives: 19 plays, 41 yards, one first down.
— In their last eight games, Panthers had a minus-20 turnover ratio, turning ball over 22 times.

Jets 13, Bills 6:
— Jets won six of last eight games after a 1-7 start.
— Five of the Jets’ last six games went under the total.
— Jets scored only 10 points on three red zine drives.

— Josh Allen played for a while at the start; no idea why.
— Buffalo heads to Houston for a playoff game next week.
— Under is 7-2 in Buffalo’s last nine games.

Eagles 34, Giants 17:
— Philly wins NFC East; they host Seattle in Wild Card round.
— Eagles won 12 of their last 13 games with the Giants.
— Philly won its last four games overall, scoring 13 TD’s on 47 drives

— Giants are 1-10 ATS in last 11 games as a home underdog.
— Seven of their last nine games went over the total.
— Giants are likely to fire coach Pat Shurmur Monday. 

Cowboys 47, Redskins 16:
— Redskins lost eight of their last nine games with Dallas.
— Washington converted 1-12 on third down, Cowboys 8-15.
— Starting tomorrow, Redskins’ president Bruce Allen will no longer run football operations, which is good news for Redskins’ fans.

— Gallup caught five footballs for 98 yards, three TD’s.
— Dallas had seven plays of 20+ yards, five of them on third down.
— Cowboys will probably fire Jason Garrett this week.  

Ravens 28, Steelers 10:
— In 2nd half, Steelers’ offense was outscored 9-3 by Ravens’ defense.
— Pitt misses playoffs for 2nd year in row, after making it 12 of previous 17 years.
— Steelers lost their last three games, scoring 10 points in all three games.

— Ravens ran ball for 223 yards on a rainy day were neither team threw for 100 yards.
— Heading into playoffs, Ravens are clearly best team in NFL.
— Baltimore was 2-2 at one point, then won its last 12 games. 

Jaguars 38, Colts 20:
— Colts in first half: 37 plays, 236 yards, 13 first downs, 20 points.
— Colts in second half: 20 plays, 46 yards, 4 first downs, no points.
— Indy lost its last five visits here, by 6-20-3-35-18 points.

— Jaguars outscored Indy 22-0 in second half.
— Jax broke game open with defensive TD which made it 31-20 with 9:28 left.
— Minshew threw for 295 yards; Jags converted 9-14 on third down.

Titans 35, Texans 14:
— Titans ran ball for 245 yards, averaged 10.6 yards/pass attempt.
— Tennessee ended a 7-game losing skid in Houston.
— Titans visit New England in the Wild Card round next week.

— AJ McCarron was 21-36/225 passing for Houston.
Wild Card spreads:
— Houston -3, 41.5 vs Buffalo; New England -5.5, 43.5 vs Tennessee
— New Orleans -8, 47 vs Minnesota; Seattle -1, 45.5 @ Philadelphia. 

Rams 31, Cardinals 24:
— Arizona lost last seven series games, losing last five by combined score of 163-56.
— Cardinals gained 268 yards on five drives in 2nd half: two TD’s, three turnovers.
— When you’re minus-5 in turnovers, you ain’t winning.

— Rams faked a punt from their own 17 in first quarter; it didn’t work.
— LA converted 11-18 third down plays.
— Under McVay, Rams’ record in games decided by 6 or fewer points:
2017: 3-1……2018: 5-0……2019: 1-3

Broncos 16, Raiders 15:
— Oakland scored TD with 0:07 left, went for two points and the win.
— Raiders scored 15 points on five red zone drives. Not good.
— Home side won last eight series games.

— Broncos won four of five games with rookie Lock at QB.
— Teams combined for two TD’s, eight field goal attempts.
— Denver won its last four home games (3-1 ATS). 

49ers 26, Seahawks 21:
— SF tackled a Seattle TE on 1-yard line as game ended.
— 49ers win NFC West, are #1 seed in NFC.
— This was only Niners’ 2nd win in last 12 games vs Seattle.

— Seahawks in 1st half: 24 plays, 79 yards, 6 first downs, zero points.
— Seahawks in 2nd half: 47 plays, 269 yards, 21 first downs, 21 points.
— Seattle visits Philadelphia in Wild Card game Sunday. 

Sunday’s List of 13: Going thru the first group of bowl games…….

13) Clemson 29, Ohio State 23:
— Ohio State led 16-0 with 3:00 left in the first half.
— Lawrence threw for 259 yards, ran for 107 more; he took a lot of hits in this game.

— If you had a choice between Joe Burrow/Trevor Lawrence to QB your NFL team, who would you choose?
— Early line on the national title game: LSU -4 vs Clemson. 

12) LSU 63, Oklahoma 28:
— At one point, Burrow had 7 TD passes; Oklahoma had 8 first downs.
— How was this kid the 3rd-string QB at Ohio State?

— LSU’s kicker is 18 years old; their holder is 29.
— Horrible news before the game; the daughter-in-law of LSU OC Steve Ensminger was one of five people killed in a plane crash in Lafayette, LA Saturday. Very sad.

11) From 2012-15, Eastern Michigan’s football team went 7-41; the last four years, they’re 25-26, losing their three bowl games by total of 10 points, covering all three games as an underdog. Eagles are 21-6-1 ATS in last 28 games as an underdog.

10) Mike Leach’s teams score lot of points, but his success doesn’t translate to bowls; Wazzu scored an average of only 21.6 ppg in their last five bowls. 

Coogs were 3-0 this year, led UCLA 49-17 at home, then blew that game 67-63, their defensive coordinator either quit/got fired, and the team fell apart, losing seven of last ten games.

Air Force ran the ball for 371 yards in their 31-21 Cheez-It Bowl win over the Coogs; Air Force ran 81 plays, Wazzu only 50.

9) Washington Huskies were 32-9 the last three years, but were a disappointing 8-5 TY; they pounded coach Chris Petersen’s old team Boise State 34-7 in Petersen’s last game as Huskies’ coach. Washington was 0-5 TY in games decided by 10 or fewer points.

8) Big 14 teams won the last five Holiday Bowls; Iowa thrashed USC 49-24. Have to think the boosters who wanted coach Clay Helton fired aren’t nay happier now.

7) MAC teams are 3-1 ATS in bowls; last three years combined, they were 5-12.

6) Skip Holtz is 6-0 at Louisiana Tech in bowl games; Miami lost nine of its last ten bowls.

5) Oklahoma State lost the Texas Bowl 24-21 to Texas A&M, but they covered the spread, are now 11-4 ATS in last 15 games as an underdog. 

A&M coach Jimbo Fisher improved to 7-2 in bowl games.

4) Temple coach Rod Carey is 60-35 as a head coach, but 0-7 in bowl games; 0-6 at Northern Illinois, 0-1 at Temple after North Carolinas thrashed his Owls 55-13 Friday.

3) Florida Atlantic played at home in the last two Boca Raton Bowls, and cruised in both, 50-3/52-28. SMU lost its last two bowls, 51-10/52-28.

2) In six years at the I-A level, Appalachian State is already 5-0 in bowls, scoring 31+ points in all five games- they’re also going to have their third coach in three years next year, as big money teams scooped up their coach the last two years.

1) Arkansas State had a very emotional year; their coach lost his wife to cancer in August- he missed their season opener, then coached the rest of the season. Red Wolves won five of their last six games to finish the season 8-5, with a 34-26 bowl win over FIU, only their 2nd bowl win in last six tries. Good for them. 

Saturday’s List of 13: Random stuff with weekend here…….

13) Pitt 34, Eastern Michigan 30— OK, never saw this before; Panthers score with 0:47 left to take a 34-30 lead, their first lead of the night. EMU was trying to drive for a winning score when their QB gets hit while throwing an incomplete pass with 0:10 left. 

The QB gets up, one of the defenders says something to him, and the QB smacks the guy in the facemask— not good. He gets thrown out of the game; a kid playing his last college game, who threw for 311 yards and two TD’s, gets tossed before the last play. Oy. 

12) Found a treasure trove of old knowledge Thursday, a website full of old stats from the USFL, which played from 1983-85. Was a very good league, good springtime entertainment. 

22 different cities hosted USFL teams; Breakers played in a different city every year (Boston, New Orleans, Portland). 

11) Steve Young led the LA Express to a 10-8 record in 1984, playing for coach John Hadl, who was an excellent QB himself in the old AFL for the Chargers, and then briefly for the Rams. 

Young threw for 2,361 yards, ran for 515 more; they slipped to 3-15 the next year, losing a great 34-33 game to Jim Kelly and the Houston Gamblers early in the season, in front of a small gathering at the LA Coliseum. 

When I say small crowd, the Express averaged 8,415 fans a game in the Coliseum. No bueno. 

10) Tampa Bay Bandits averaged over 40,000 fans/game in their three-year run for Steve Spurrier, going 35-19. Florida alum John Reaves played QB most of the time for the Bandits; at one point, he was a 1st round draft pick of the Philadelphia Eagles. 

9) Super Bowl winners by seed, since 1990:
seed #1) 14 Super Bowl champs
#2) 7  
#3)  1  (Colts ’06)
#4)  4  
#5)  1  (Giants ’07)
#6)  2 (Steelers ’05/Packers ’10)

8) Minnesota Vikings are locked into the #6 seed in the NFC; they’re likely to sit lot of guys this weekend, including QB Kirk Cousins. 

7) Marshawn Lynch will apparently be paid $60,588 by the Seahawks this week. 

For any NFL player with more than 10 years of experience, the minimum salary is $1,030,000 for the whole year, which breaks down to $60,588 per week over 17 weeks. 

6) Washington Huskies’ QB Jacob Eason, the #4 NFL prospect at QB, according to ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr., announced Thursday that he will forgo his senior season and enter the NFL Draft.

5) Lebron James has played four games for the Lakers against the rival Clippers; he is 5-29 on the arc in those four games. 

4) Louisiana Tech 14, Miami 0— Miami used three QB’s in this game; none of them played well. This is their first losing season since 2014. Not often the TV announcers are speculating during the game about the offensive coordinator getting fired.

Friday, the offensive coordinator got fired.

Miami lost nine of its last ten bowl games. Meanwhile, Skip Holtz is 6-0 in bowls at Louisiana Tech. 

3) On November 12, Evansville upset Kentucky 67-64 in Rupp Arena, a great moment for the Purple Aces and their coach, Kentucky alum Walter McCarty. 

Six weeks later, McCarty was put on leave by Evansville, after “……a troubling report about Coach McCarty’s interactions with a member of the campus community.”

Former Samford coach Bennie Seltzer is the Purple Aces’  interim head coach. 

2) RIP Don Imus, 79, a legend on NYC radio who often made me laugh when I was driving to work. ESPN’s Mike Breen did the sports on Imus’ show for a while; Imus would bust his chops and make him laugh, while he was trying to read his report. 

1) Aaron Rodgers, Danica Patrick recently bought a Malibu estate for $28M in cash; who doesn’t have $28M lying around?

Friday’s Den: In a perfect world, where I made all the decisions……..

13) I’d like everyone to be nicer to each other; life is short, lets enjoy it. 

Lets tolerate our differences; I like the A’s, you like someone else. you like beer, I like Cherry Coke, our differences are what make life interesting. 

12) A friend of mine wouldn’t talk to me for a year because I didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016 (I voted for the 3rd party candidate). Why take life that seriously? Especially the way Presidential elections are, the Democrat almost always wins New York anyway. 

11) Would a date with Gina Gershon be too much to ask for? (probably, yes…..)

10) Sounds like one of the things I’ve been posting in this space for years will finally happen; both leagues should have the DH in 2022. Both leagues should have the same rules. 

9) Lets do away with Daylight Savings Time; who needs sunlight at 5:30am? Keep the clocks the way they are in the summer. Let it stay light as late in the day as possible.

8) Can we get rid of the Electoral College? Whoever gets the most votes should win, yes?

7) Every kid would learn basic life skills in high school: cooking, laundry, how to write a check, how to do a budget, the divorce laws. 

When it comes to cooking, I can make one thing……reservations. 

6) No Thursday NFL games, except for Week 1 and Thanksgiving Day. Instead, why not have Monday night doubleheaders every week? 7:00/10:30 games; that would be fun. 

5) NBA playoff series would be two out of three until the Finals, which would be best-of-5. 

4) College football teams shouldn’t be playing I-AA opponents; I mean, Alabama played Western Carolina this year, and Florida played UT-Martin AND Towson State- how does this happen? Why would anyone pay to see mismatches like this?

3) I’d be in favor of college basketball adopting the NBA’s 8-second rule for getting the ball over half court; most anything that encourages pressing and a faster-paced game is a good thing.

2) I’d make cigarettes illegal; they’re known to cause cancer. What is good about them?

1) I’d make sure DirecTV picked up the Pac-12 Network. Its not too much to ask. This is my list after all.

Hope everyone had a great Christmas. 

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

13) Rickey Henderson was born on Christmas, which raises the question; whats the worst day of the year to have a birthday? 

My votes: December 26, April 1, February 29. Could you imagine having a birthday once every four years? 

12) Best days of the year to have a birthday? 

My picks are January 1st, July 4th. Maybe December 31, too. 

11) MLB Network ran an old hour-long special Tuesday night on the Oakland A’s of the 70’s; brought me back to my childhood days as a baseball fan. Good stuff.

10) Guessing I’m very late with this, but stumbled across an HBO series called Curb Your Enthusiasm yesterday; funny stuff. Some of Larry David’s act is cringe-worthy, but I spent lot of time laughing, which is pretty much what matters. 

The late Bob Einstein was on this show; he was also the star of Super Dave, a comedy show in the 90’s, and was in Oceans 13. Funny man. 

9) Celtics 118, Raptors 102— Toronto had won 34 consecutive divisional home games. 

8) Edwin Encarnacion signed with the Chicago White Sox for one-year, $12M.

7) NFL named Joe Namath as one of the 22 finalists for the QB slots on their 100 greatest players list. Joe Namath is a terrific guy, was very famous, but he won two (two!!!) playoff games in his career. Overrated, for sure. 

6) My top 3 quarterbacks of Super Bowl era: Elway, Staubach, Brady

5) Ben Roethlisberger said that he’ll be back with the Steelers next year, good news for fans in Pittsburgh. Big Ben hasn’t played since Week 2 this season.

4) Podcast recommendation: “How I Built This”, an interview series with successful people who built big businesses. Interesting to hear how successful people think. 

3) Ravens’ QB Lamar Jackson gave each of his offensive linemen a Rolex watch for Christmas. 

2) Clippers 111, Lakers 106— Smart scheduling by the NBA, having the two LA teams play each other, so neither has to travel on Christmas.

High quality game; Leonard had 35 points, 12 rebounds in a game the Lakers led by 15 points in the third quarter. Harrell had 18 points in 31:00 off the bench for the Clippers. 

1) Houston 75, Washington 71— Cougars win the Diamond Head Classic. We’ll see both teams in March, also on a neutral floor. Houston was +8 in turnovers; their bench outscored Huskies’ bench 18-5, after Washington led by 14 early on. 

Wednesday’s List of 13: Merry Christmas, everyone…….

13) Lamar Jackson isn’t playing for the Ravens Sunday; they’ve already clinched the #1 seed in the AFC, so Jackson and some of his friends will take Sunday off when the Steelers come calling. 

Robert Griffin III will get the start at QB for Baltimore; if that doesn’t send you running to the casino to wager on Pittsburgh, I’m not sure what would. Griffin is 15-25 as an NFL starter, 6-19 in his last 25 games. His last NFL start was three years ago. 

12) Other NFL stuff:
— Case Keenum will start at QB for injured Dwayne Haskins (ankle) for Washington Sunday.

11)  Hawai’i 38, BYU 34—Hawai’i QB McDonald threw for 336 yards, three TD’s in first half, then got benched for series in third quarter. He came back in later and Rainbows scored winning TD with 1:17 left. Tremendous game, especially important with nothing else on TV. 

10) Tennessee Vols officially announced the addition of Santiago Vescovi, a point guard from Uruguay who most recently played for the NBA Global Academy in Australia.

18-year-old Vescovi signed with Tennessee November 22. He will join the team this weekend,  is awaiting standard NCAA, Southeastern Conference clearance protocols before becoming eligible to play in games, which probably won’t come until early January.

9) Kawhi Leonard’s agent is a guy named Mitch Frankel who doesn’t represent any other active NBA players. That is pretty unusual, an agent with one client. 

8) Miami Marlins have C/1B Francisco Cervelli a one-year deal worth $2M. 

7) 2B Cesar Hernandez signed a one-year deal with Cleveland worth $6M. 

6) Mets gave P Dellin Betances a one-year deal worth $10.5M, wth the chance to get up to $13M, with incentives. 

5) New Mexico Lobos suspended two starters, F Carlton Bragg, PG JJ Caldwell indefinitely, 

Bragg, a team captain, transferred from  Kansas in January 2018, is averaging 13.7 ppg, 10.8 rag and 1.4 blocks/game this season.Caldwell leads the Mountain West in assists at 5.7 per game, and averages 5.8 points per game.

4) NFL home favorites are 54-89-6 ATS this season.
Road favorites are 48-41-2 ATS. 

3) This is how the Oakland Raiders can still make the playoffs:
— Raiders win in Denver.
— Colts win in Jacksonville.
— Ravens beat Pittsburgh
— Texans beat Tennessee

If those four things happen, then one of these teams also has to win:
Chicago, Detroit, LA Chargers or New England. 

2) Merry Christmas to this guy: A customer at a William Hill sports book in Las Vegas turned a $5 bet into a $100,000 jackpot when he went a perfect 15-for-15 on the William Hill $100,000 Parlay Card this past weekend.

Guy had to sweat the Dolphins blowing a 34-12 lead in the last 6:21 of regulation, then waiting until the last play of OT to kick the winning FG. 

1) Hope you all have a great Christmas; if you don’t celebrate Christmas, have a great Wednesday. Nine basketball games on TV Wednesday, five NBA games, four college games from Hawai’i; thats a good day. 

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

13) Last six years, only teams in the Super Bowl were #1 and #2 seeds, teams that got first-round byes in the playoffs. Getting a bye is really helpful. 

Before that though, from 2010-12, Super Bowl winners were #6-4-4 seeds, with Baltimore Ravens the last #4 sed to win a Super Bowl. 

12) Social media can be incredibly annoying; our society is so fickle, everyone who loses should be fired, everyone who wins is the greatest ever, at least until their next loss. 

Rams didn’t make the playoffs this year; they’re 8-7, a disappointing year. Rats are jumping off the ship left and right, “fans” demanding changes be made before next season. 

I can guarantee you this; the Rams will LOOK different next year. How do I know this? They’re getting new uniforms, to coincide with the opening of their new domed stadium.

11) Social media is also funny sometimes; a debate erupted the other day on Twitter about how some people put gas in their car while the motor is still running. Never heard of that before. 

Apparently it is a thing in really cold places like Alaska, but supposedly it is dangerous and is not advised. Decent amount of people said they did it, though, and they all lived to tell about it.

10) Toronto Blue Jays gave P Hyun-jin Ryu $80M for four years. 

9) Washington 72, Hawai’i 61— Hawai’i went 9-39 on the arc; one kid was 1-17— can you imagine a kid having that bright a green light to shoot, then going 1-17? Washington plays Houston Wednesday night in the finals of the Diamond Head tourney. 

8) CBS won’t be televising SEC football anymore; they backed out of the bidding for a new contract. Sounds like ESPN/ABC will carry the SEC now. 

7) Are the Dolphins going to bring 37-year old QB Ryan Fitzpatrick next year? Miami split its last eight games after an 0-7 start, screwing up their draft position. Where do they go from here? 

Fitzpatrick and Bengals’ QB Andy Dalton both wear wedding rings while they play football. which surprised me.

6) Tennessee point guard Lamonte Turner’s college career is over; he is going to have shoulder surgery, a big blow to the Vols’ hopes of getting back to the NCAA tournament. 

5) Milwaukee Bucks have seven wins this year where they never trailed; thats the most by any NBA team before January in the last 20 years. 

4) MLB and the umpires came to a 5-year contract agreement; curious to see if the automated strike zone becomes a thing during that time. 

3) Seattle Seahawks signed Marshawn Lynch Monday night to help replenish their depleted group of running backs. 

2) Packers 23, Vikings 10— Kirk Cousins is now 0-9 on Monday Night Football. Minnesota gained 139 yards, had only 7 first downs- they started three drives in Green Bay territory, and still scored only 10 points. 

1) Congrats to the Big Dawg on another winning season picking NFL games on this site; he is 25-18-1 this season, and since 2012, he is 209-166 (55.7%) against the number. Well done!!!!

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

Jets 16, Steelers 10:
— Rudolph replaced Hodges at QB at 9:00 mark in 2nd quarter, with Jets up 10-0; Hodges went back in when Rudolph got hurt early in 4th quarter.
— Steelers scored 7-10-10 points in their last three losses.
— Pittsburgh in 2nd half: 30 plays, 61 yards, 5 first downs, zero points.

— When Ficken kicked a FG to make it 10-0, it was first FG of day league-wide, after 13 TD’s had been scored. Unusual.
— Over last 11 years. Jets are 23-12-2 ATS as a home underdog, 4-2 TY.
— Jets scored 36.5 ppg in winning their last four home games. 

Saints 38, Titans 28:
— Michael Thomas set an all-time record with his 144th catch of the year.
— Saints won 10 of their last 12 games, winning last six on road
— NO is 11-3 ATS in last 14 games as a road favorite, 3-0 TY.

— Titans led this game 14-0 after the first quarter.
— Tennessee had three TD plays of 36+ yards; that is explosive.
— Eight of Titans’ last nine games went over the total. 

Falcons 24, Jaguars 12:
— Jaguars lost six of last seven games, were outscored 82-9 in first half last four games.
— Jacksonville is 4-8-1 ATS in last 13 games as a road underdog, 3-4 TY.
— Atlanta converted 7-13 on third down, Jaguars 3-14.

— Falcons scored TD on opening drive, Jaguars fumbled kickoff, Atlanta scored again and led 14-0 after 5:32 of play. Game, set, match.
— Falcons won five of last seven games, covered six of last eight.
— Julio Jones caught 10 balls for 166 yards. 

Giants 41, Redskins 35 OT:
— Jones threw a TD pass to Smith on first drive in OT to end this game.
— Barkley ran ball 22 yards for 189 yards, including a 67-yard TD.
— Giants won five of their last seven visits here; they won two road games this year, and gave up 30+ points in both of them.

— Rookie QB Haskins hurt his ankle; veteran Keenum came in and rallied Washington back from a two-TD deficit to tie game with 0:29 left.
— With the loss, Redskins move up to the #2 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
— Washington was outgained 552-381; Giants ran ball for 206 yards. 

Dolphins 38, Bengals 35 OT:
— Bengals went 55-137 from 1991-2002, under four different coaches.
— Bengals were 131-122-3 with Marvin Lewis as coach, from 2003-18.
— Bengals are 1-14 in first year after they fired Lewis; why did they fire him?

— Miami led this game 35-12 with 6:30 left, but blew the lead.
— 80 different players have played for Miami this year, an NFL record.
— Dolphins split their last eight games, after an 0-7 start.

Colts 38, Panthers 6:
— Carolina lost its last seven games.
— Last four weeks, Panthers are minus-11 (1-12) in turnovers.
— Carolina had ball in red zone three times, scored total of 3 points.

— Nyheim Hines had punt returns of 84-71 yards for TD’s.
— Colts won for only second time in their last eight games.
— Indy is +6 in turnovers in its last three games. 

Ravens 31, Browns 15:
— Ravens’ first four drives: 23 plays, 120 yards, no points.
— Ravens’ next five drives: 42 plays, 353 yards, four TD’s, one FG
— Baltimore won its last 11 games, covering eight of last nine.

— Browns are 7-17-1 ATS in last 25 games as a home underdog, 0-2 TY.
— Cleveland allowed 451-445-481 TY in last two games; they’re 0-5 giving up 400+ TY.
— Baltimore scored 35 TD’s on its last 72 drives. 

Eagles 17, Cowboys 9:
— Cowboys are 7-0 when they score 31+ points, 0-8 when they don’t.
— Dallas lost four of its last five games.
— Cowboys ran ball for 54 yards here, after running it for 263 yards LW.

— Eagles need a win or tie next week (vs Giants) to win the NFC East.
— Philly gained 120 yards on 18 plays, 10 points on first two drives.
— Eagles outscored opponents 54-16 in 2nd half of last three games

Cardinals 27, Seahawks 13:
— Cardinals covered last five trips to Seattle, winning four of them SU.
— Arizona covered six of seven road games TY.
— QB Murray hurt his hamstring, didn’t play last 20:00 of game.

— Seahawks converted only 1-12 on third down.
— Seattle is 6-12-1 ATS in last 19 games as a home favorite, 2-5 TY.
— Seahawks host 49ers next week for NFC West title, possible bye in playoffs.

Broncos 27, Lions 17:
— Detroit’s first TD came on a 64-yard punt return.
— Lions lost their last eight games, outscored 48-13 in 1st half the last three weeks.
— Detroit scored four TD’s on 44 drives in last four road games.

— Denver is 3-1 with rookie QB Lock starting; they won four of last five home games
— Broncos outgained Detroit 348-191, held Lions to 3.4 yards/pass attempt.
— Under is 7-4 in Denver’s last 11 games.

Raiders 24, Chargers 17:
— Oakland snaps its four-game losing skid.
— Raiders are 6-15-1 ATS  in last 22 games as a road underdog.
— There is still a weird scenario where Oakland makes the playoffs.

— Chargers’ first five drives: 21 plays, 55 yards, 2 first downs, zero points.
— LA is 2-10 ATS in last 12 games as a home favorite, 0-5 TY.
— Chargers lost five of their last six games overall.

Chiefs 26, Bears 3:
— Chiefs didn’t allow a TD on 15 drives in their last two games.
— KC won/covered their last five games, allowing total of only 31 points in last four.
— Chiefs outscored last four opponents 73-10 in first half.

— Bears got into KC territory on four drives, but scored only three points.
— Seven of their last nine games went under the total.
— Bears were outgained 350-234, averaged only 3.6 yards/pass attempt. 

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

13) Texans 23, Bucs 20:
— Houston clinches the AFC South with this win.
— Texans’ first TD scored on a pick-6.
— Houston had three FG’s, only one TD on four drives to red zone.

— Bucs’ first five possessions: three INT’s, a FG and a blocked FG.
— Tampa Bay outgained Houston, 435-229.
— If Jameis Winston played for the Rams, I’d have a nervous breakdown. 

12) Patriots 24, Bills 17:
— Buffalo lost 16-10/24-17 in its two games vs NE this season.
— Bills are already in playoffs, will likely play winner of AFC South in Wild Card.
— Buffalo was only 2-11 on third down, Patriots 7-14.

— New England clinches AFC East, has game lead over KC for the #2 seed.
— Patriots lost field position by 7 yards, only 3rd time that happened this year.
— NE’s 2nd half possessions: 4 drives, 28 plays, 182 yards, TD, two FG’s. 

11) 49ers 34, Rams 31:
— Rams’ first five drives: 209 yards, three TD’s.
— Rams’ last eight drives: 167 yards, one TD/one FG/one pick-6
— Rams are 1-3 this year in games decided by 6 or fewer points.

— Gould kicked a 33-yard FG at the gun for the win.
— 49ers are half-game up on Seattle in NFC West; they play next week.
— This was SF’s 4th game in row decided by 3 or fewer points, or in last 0:10.

10) Colorado 78, Dayton 76 OT— Buffs hit a 3 at the buzzer to win this game, which was a lot like an NCAA tourney game; two good teams on a neutral floor. 

Dayton led 19-5 early on, trailed by 8 with 7:51 left. They could meet again in March.

9) St John’s 68, Arizona 67— This game was part of the Al Attles Classic in San Francisco; Attles coached the Warriors when they won the 1974 NBA title, when their best player was Rick Barry, one of the most underrated basketball players ever. 

Bill Walton was the TV analyst on this game; he spoke the truth when he talked about how Barry is one of the 10-12 best players ever. He was as good as Larry Bird, but he played before the NBA took off inn popularity and before ESPN began in the early 80’s. 

Mike Anderson is doing a nice job in his first year at St John’s; they’re 11-2 after this upset win.

8) Ohio State 71, Kentucky 65— Wildcats are 8-3 vs schedule #310; they were outscored 21-8 on foul line, are shooting 27.8% on arc this year (#323). Meanwhile, John Calipari’s son Brad plays for the Detroit Titans, where he is shooting 45.3% on the arc this year- go figure.

7) College basketball upsets:
— Florida A&M (+13.5) 71, Seattle 57
— St John’s (+11) 68, Arizona 67
— North Dakota (+9) 75, Nebraska 74
— Northwestern State (+7.5) 67, Lamar 61
— Green Bay (+6.5) 85, Northern Illinois 84
— Texas A&M (+6.5) 64, Oregon State 49
— Colorado (+5.5) 78, Dayton 76 OT

6) Villanova 56, Kansas 55— Wildcats hit a 3-pointer with 0:24 left for the win. Kansas is the 5th team to lose this year while ranked #1 in country. Gonzaga becomes the new #1.

5) Baseball stuff:
— White Sox signed P Dallas Keuchel to a 3-year, $55.5M contract.
— Detroit signed 1B CJ Cron, 2B Jonathan Schoop to 1-year, $6.1M contracts. Tigers will be Schoop’s 4th team in four years.

4) Florida State 66, South Florida 60— Seminoles ended game on a 21-3 run; South Florida pretty much imploded down the stretch- they led 57-47 with 6:20 left.

3) Colorado State 111, Tulsa 104, 3OT— Rams blew an 8-point lead with 1:08 left in regulation, then rallied back from down 89-86 with 0:59 left in first OT. Rams were minus-8 in turnovers; they had three guys play 46:00+. 

2) One of the reasons a lot of college basketball teams like to play these neutral court games just before Christmas, is that it is legal for them to pay for kids’ trips home from the neutral site to wherever the player lives, os he can have a few days off for Christmas.

1) Good news is that tonight it starts getting dark later every day; its all downhill until spring. Lot of bowl games and college hoop coming up in the next week, as 2019 winds down to its end. 

Random bowl facts; Merry Christmas……

— Over the last three years, Pac-12 teams are 7-15 SU in bowl games, 3-18-1 ATS, which is hard to believe, so I checked it twice. 3-18-1 it is. 

— Last five tears, Pac-12 teams are 12-27-1 ATS in bowls, 9-20-1 when favored.

— Friday was a huge day for the MAC; they won two bowl games. Over the previous three years, MAC squads were 2-15 SU in bowls, 5-12 ATS.

— Over last three years, SEC teams are 17-19 SU in bowls, 9-12 ATS when favored.

— Underdogs won four of last five Pinstripe Bowls SU.

— Three years ago, big 14 teams were 3-7 SU in bowls; the last two years, they went 12-5 SU/ATS.

— In last five Cheez-It Bowls, Big X teams are 5-0 SU, beating four Pac-12 teams and Boise State.

— Over last five years, Big X teams 5-7 ATS when favored in bowls, 13-8 when the underdog; they’re 13-6 SU in bowls the last three years.

— Over last three years, Sun Belt teams are 9-5 SU in bowls. Go figure.

— Last four years, AAC teams are 10-20 SU in bowls; 6-11 ATS when favored, 4-9 when an underdog.

— Last three years, ACC teams are 20-12-1 ATS in bowls, 9-4 when favored, 11-8-1 when they’re getting points.

— Last five years, Conference USA teams are 11-5 ATS when favored, 7-11 when an underdog.
— Pac-12 teams beat an ACC team in four of last five Sun Bowls; four of the five games were decided by 6 or fewer points. 

Saturday’s List of 13 Clearing out a cluttered mind…….

13) Lot of times when I’m writing this space late at night, I turn the TV off and listen to podcasts on my phone. Thought it would be a good idea to post some of those podcasts and recommend them to you, so every so often, I’m going to do that. 

If you hate the podcasts, forget that I recommended them; if you enjoy them, you’re welcome.

a) The Steam Room, with Ernie Johnson/Charles Barkley. If you like Inside the NBA on TV, you’ll love this podcast, because Barkley runs amok as Ernie points him in the right direction. 

b) The Moment, with Brian Koppelman, who co-writes Billions and co-wrote Rounders, Oceans 13. He talks to a variety of people who are successful, whether in show business, cooking, sports (his podcast with JJ Redick was kind of random, but interesting).

His podcast with the great author John Grisham was excellent. 

12) There is a bowl game in Phoenix every year called the Cheez-It Bowl- some thoughts:
— I ate my share of Cheez-Its when I was a kid, because my dad liked them, so they were always around.
— Wasn’t terribly fond of Cheez-Its; too dry. It surprises me that they’ve lasted this long. The puffed-up Doritos they sold a few years ago were great, but they never caught on. Why?
— For the Cheez-It people to have enough money to sponsor a bowl is alarming, well not alarming, but very surprising.

Like you give a rat’s ass what I think of Cheez-Its. Lets move on…….

11) In case you were wondering, Pete Rose had 51 games in his carer with 7+ plate appearances; Rickey Henderson had 43. No one else has/had more than 32.

10) They had G-League showcase games on ESPNU Friday, mostly players who left college early but haven’t stuck in the NBA. Kids go from playing in front of 15,000 fans to playing in a casino events center, where there is a wall right behind the benches. Has to be kind of a reality check.

9) The minimum salary for NBA rookies is $898,310, which is why the most talented kids don’t want to play college basketball; the really big money is in that second contract, though, so you better have your game ready when you get to the pros. Not a lot of patience there.

Guys in the G-League make less money than players who go overseas to play ball.

8) There are also 18 referees who split their time between the NBA and G-League; when you see one of these G-League games, keep in mind that the refs are trying out for the bigtime, too.

7)  Baseball stuff:
— Minnesota Twins gave P Tyler Clippard a one-year deal is worth $2.7M.
— Chicago White Sox signed P Gio Gonzalez to a one-year deal worth $4.5M.
— C Martin Maldonado signed a 2-year deal with Houston, worth $7M.
— 2B Ian Kinsler announced his retirement; he had 1,999 career hits.

6) I have a baseball cap collection that is too big, but had to look anyway when the new XFL caps came out. Think the Seattle team has the best logo, but it looks an awful lot like UAB’s logo. Houston’s logo is a smaller version of the old Houston Oilers’ logo.

5) Back when John Chaney was a highly-successful coach at Temple (1982-2006), if one of his players got two fouls in the first half, Chaney would take him out and the kid would sit for the rest of the half. It became a thing in college basketball, just about everyone did it. 

Last few years, coaches are starting to play kids more with two fouls in first half, partially because rosters are generally thinner now, because of the transfer epidemic. Not a lot of teams go more than eight quality players deep. 

4) Giants are going back to Daniel Jones at QB for their game at Washington Sunday.

3) Georgia 87, SMU 85 2OT— Fun game to watch; not sure how good these teams are, but they are evenly matched. SMU was only 8-32 on arc, but had 26 offensive rebounds. Three of their guys played 45:00, a 4th kid played 42:00. Georgia played ten guys 10:00+; no one played more than 37:00.

2) Buffalo 31, Charlotte 9— Bulls get their first bowl win in their 4th try; this was Charlotte’s first-ever bowl. Jaret Patterson ran for 173 yards and two TD’s for Buffalo.

1) Kent State 51, Utah State 41— Kent is coached by 33-year old Sean Lewis, the youngest I-A coach in the country. This was their first bowl win ever, only their fourth bowl ever. Kent went 7-6 TY, after being 12-47 the previous five years.

This might wind up being the most fun bowl game this year, unless you bet the under.

People at this game outside of Dallas looked like they were at Lambeau Field in January; they were dressed warmer than I was this week, when it was 10 degrees here in Albany. According to my phone, it was 47 degrees at the game. Oy. 

Friday’s List of 13: Random stuff with weekend here……

13) Memphis Tigers’ freshman C James Wiseman declared for the NBA Draft, so his college career is over, almost before it started. Wiseman played three games for Memphis. 

12) NBA needs to re-instate the rule in where kids can go right from high school to the NBA, then kids who want to play college ball will do that, and other kids can gamble on their future by going straight to the pros. 

12) Auburn 79, NC State 73— Wolfpack PG Johnson has the ball A LOT, but if you’re going to dominate the ball, you can’t go 4-10 on foul line in a close, physical game. This was an NCAA tournament-style game, and Auburn remains unbeaten, avenging LY’s loss to NC State.

11) ESPN had the NC State-Auburn game Thursday; Jimmy Dykes was the analyst, and in the first half, Auburn football coach Gus Malzahn was a guest on the broadcast. 

Turns out that 25 years ago, Dykes was the AD at Shiloh Christian School in Arkansas and he had to hire a football coach. He hired Malzahn, and the two have been friends since. Imagine going from being a high school coach to making seven figures coaching in the SEC?

10) Rockets 122, Clippers 117— LA had 69 points at halftime, leading by 15, but Rockets stormed back and outscored Clippers 36-18 in 3rd quarter. Harden had 28 points, 10 assists; Capela was +27 in 39:00, meaning Rockets were outscored by 22 points in 9:00 he sat out.

9) Seton Hall 52, Maryland 48— Red flag for Maryland, since Pirates were playing without their two best players. Terps shot 29% inside arc, 5-21 on arc. Not good.

8) Major league pitcher Wade Miley got pounded at the end of last season, after being pretty good prior to September; one day in late September he gets a text from a former teammate, which says: “Check your glove”

Turns out Miley was tipping his pitches, and the former teammate could see it. Miley signed a two-year deal with the Reds this winter; we’ll see if that was the only problem he had.

7) Baseball stuff:
— Brewers gave 2B Eric Sogard a 1-year, $4.5M deal, 1B Justin Smoak to a 1-year, $5M deal.
— Angels signed P Julio Teheran to a 1-year, $9M deal.

6) Stanford QB K.J. Costello has entered the NCAA transfer portal; he started 25 games for the Cardinal the last three years- he’ll be a graduate transfer.

5) Owners of pro teams shouldn’t be eligible for the Hall of Fame in that sport; those honors should be reserved for players, coaches, front office people. George Halas would be one of the exceptions, since he also played/coached.

4) Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban is trying to learn Slovenian, Luka Doncic’s native language. Thats when you know you’re a big star, when your boss learns a new language because he wants you to stick around.

3) The last time a team won consecutive basketball games at Duke/North Carolina was way back in 1975, when a Maryland team led by John Lucas/Brad Davis pulled it off.

2) Citadel 102, Longwood 99, 3OT— There were 84 3’s taken in this game, 78 2’s; Citadel was down 5 in second OT. Longwood took 16 FT’s in a 55:00 game; Kaelon Harris of Citadel was 13-14 by himself, in 48:00.

1) Oklahoma City Thunder players were among people evacuated from an Oklahoma City mall Thursday when an isolated shooting took place at the Penn Square Mall- a man was shot at the Foot Locker at the shopping complex.

The shooting victim was in critical but stable condition after being shot in the chest.