Sunday’s Den: Wrapping up a college football Saturday

13) Texas 41, Oklahoma State 34 OT:
— OSU led 31-20 in 3rd quarter, then Texas ran a kick back 100 yards for a TD.
— Texas was outgained 530-287, but was +4 in turnovers, and also got a free set of downs after a roughing the punter penalty- they also ran that kick back for a TD.
— Texas is 5-1 in last six series games, with four wins by 3 points or in OT.

12) Clemson 34, Boston College 28:
— BC led 28-13 at halftime; they didn’t score in second half.
— Clemson’s freshman backup QB Uiagaleleiu stepped in for Lawrence, was 30-41/382 passing, with two TDs.

11) Michigan State 27, Michigan 24:
— Spartans drove 93 yards for winning TD, with 0:37 left.
— State averaged 10.1 yards per pass attempt.

10) Purdue/Indiana are both 2-0 in Big 14 play, first time since 1972 they’ve both been 2-0 in conference games.

9) Coastal Carolina 51, Georgia State 0:
— Chanticleers are 6-0 this season, with a win at Big X’s Kansas.

8) Indiana 37, Rutgers 21:
— Rutgers scored a TD with 1:31 left that was nullified by a penalty; they threw eight laterals on the play, which took 0:33 to run. Penalty was for a forward lateral; they’ll show this on highlight shows all weekend, I’m guessing.
— Teams combined to convert only 5-26 third down plays- they combined for 187 penalty yards.

7) Upsets of the Week:
— Michigan State (+24) 27, Michigan 24
— Maryland (+20) 45, Minnesota 44 OT
— Louisiana Tech (+12) 37, UAB 34 OT
— Virginia (+7) 44, North Carolina 41
— Texas (+3.5) 41, Oklahoma State 34 OT

6) Maryland 45, Minnesota 44 OT:
— Gophers led 38-21 after third quarter, then blew the lead.
— Minnesota has to recruit a kicker; they missed a PAT in overtime.
— Tagovailoa threw for 394 yards, three TD’s for the Terrapins.

5) Alabama 41, Mississippi State 0:
— Last year, Mike Leach’s Washington State team was 3-0, then they blew a 49-24 lead at home to UCLA, losing 67-63. Starting with that game, Leach’s teams are 4-10 in their last 14 games— his Miss State team has been outscored 93-16 in their last three games.

4) Cincinnati 49, Memphis 10:
— Bearcats are 5-0; they outrushed Memphis 242-3 in this game.

3) ESPN is going to televise 35 of the 37 bowls this season; first bowl will be December 19, last one will be the national title game, on January 11.

2) Auburn 48, LSU 11:
— Defending national champs are 2-3; this was their worst loss since 1996.
— LSU has given up 44+ points in three of their five games.

1) Could someone explain to me why East Carolina and Tulsa are in the same league? MapQuest tells me that the two schools are 1,235 miles apart. Same deal with Navy and SMU. 

Saturday’s Den: NFL trends with Week 8 upon us

13) Five of Chicago’s last six games stayed under the total.

12) Detroit’s three wins stayed under the total; their three losses losses all went over.

11) Over is 4-0-1 in Tennessee’s last five games.

10) In their last four games, Jacksonville allowed 20.8 ppg, just in the 2nd half!!!

9) Tampa Bay outscored its last four foes 64-23 in the second half.

8) Giants covered four of their last six games; their last three games were decided by a total of five points.

7) Colts won four of their last five games; they converted 19 of last 41 third down plays.

6) 49ers outscored their last two opponents 44-9 in the first half.

5) Green Bay won/covered five of its six games; their last three games stayed under.

4) Buffalo’s first four games: they scored 30.8 ppg
Buffalo’s last three games: they scored 17 ppg

3) Over is 6-0 in Raider games; they gave up 30+points in five of those games.

2) Dallas is 0-7 against the spread this season.

1) Cleveland scored 32+ points in its five wins, 6-7 points in their losses. 

Friday’s Den; Random stuff with the weekend here……

13) Chicago White Sox hired 76-year old Hall of Famer Tony LaRussa as their new manager; his first managerial job was with the White Sox, from 1979-86, back when I had full head of hair.

LaRussa won World Series with the A’s/Cardinals; he last managed in 2011, in St Louis. He is already in the Hall of Fame as a manager.

In his playing days, LaRussa was an infield prospect until he hurt his arm; he pinch-hit for the A’s in their first-ever home game in Oakland, in 1968.

12) Falcons 25, Carolina 17:
— Atlanta covered three of its four road games. 
—Atlanta is 7-4 ATS in its last 11 games as a road underdog.
— Carolina lost its last three games, 23-16/27-24/25-17.
— Panthers lost three of its four home games this year.
— Carolina is 10-15 ATS in its last 25 games as a home favorite.

11) Georgia Southern 24, South Alabama 17:
— Eagles outscored South Alabama 14-0 in 4th quarter.
— Georgia Southern ran ball for 250 yards, threw only 9 passes.
— South Alabama scored 30+ points in its wins, 24-10-17 in losses.

10) When the Saints play in Chicago Sunday (November 1), it’ll be their first game outdoors this season- they’ve played road games in Detroit, Las Vegas, both domed stadiums.

9) Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence has COVID, will miss Saturday’s game vs Boston College. He is expected to be the #1 pick in next spring’s NFL Draft.

8) Jaguars’ QB Gardner Minshew has multiple fractures and a strained ligament in his right thumb, so he may not play next week— Jacksonville has their bye this week.

Patriots’ WR Julian Edelman underwent a precautionary standard knee procedure Thursday morning and is out for this week’s game in Buffalo.

7) Cowboys’ QB Andy Dalton hasn’t practiced this week, so looks like rookie Ben DiNucci gets his first NFL start Sunday night in Philly. DiMucci was a 7th-round draft pick; he went 2-3 for 39 yards passing last week, in relief of the injured Dalton.

6) Indiana Hoosiers are an 11-point favorite at Rutgers Saturday; in handicapping circles, this is what is known as a trap game, a team that just pulled a big upset going out on the road to play a team they figure to beat easily. Doesn’t always work that way.

5) This year’s Army-Navy game has been moved from Philadelphia to West Point, because attendance limits in Pennsylvania during the pandemic would prevent the Brigade of Midshipmen and Corps of Cadets from attending the game.

4) The 2020 Gavitt Tipoff basketball games between the Big East/Big 14 have been cancelled for this year; the games were supposed to be played in mid-November, and the logistics of re-scheduling were just too cumbersome, so the games were ditched for this year.

3) Highest netting casino games in Nevada, in September:
$14.1M— baccarat
$22.4M— roulette
$32.7M— craps
$64.6M— blackjack
$269.7M— penny slots

2) RIP to Mr Henry Berben, an optometrist here in Albany who passed away this week at age 98. Mr Berban was a childhood friend of my mother’s, and we always got our glasses there as kids. He was a very nice man who served our country in the Navy and was on a ship that was awarded two Presidential Citations. He also made us laugh a lot.

I remember that when we went there, we always left with a smile on our face, and we could see better. Henry Berben was a good guy. RIP, sir.

1) If you’re at home during the day, TNT is showing a bunch of The West Wing TV shows starting at 11am Friday. One of the better TV shows ever made, Martin Sheen plays the President and the show has a great supporting cast. It is going to be a snowy Friday here in beautiful upstate New York, so I could be watching TV all day. 

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

13) First of all, thanks to all the MLB/NBA players (NHL too, but I don’t want watch much hockey) for entertaining us for the last several months. 2020 has been a cruddy year, and while I know pro athletes make a boatload of money, they put up with unusual circumstances and put on a good show for us this season. Their efforts are appreciated.

12) NBA’s revenue dropped 10% to $8.3B for the 2019-20 season amid losses because of the coronavirus pandemic. Losses included $800M loss in gate receipts and a $400M loss in sponsorships and merchandise.

Losses also included $200M in deemed “net negative impact” from a months-long splintering of a partnership with China, after then-Rockets GM Daryl Morey tweeted something about Hong Kong that ticked off the Chinese government.

11) Speaking of Morey, he lands on his feet in Philadelphia, where he will be named president of basketball operations, with Elton Brand staying on as GM of the 76ers.

An educated person told me that he thinks the Sixers will play Ben Simmons inside at the 5 (center), where he will be a superior passer.

10) Utah Jazz are being sold for $1.6B, so while NBA revenues are down, owning an NBA team is still a good thing.

9) If travel between US and Canada still isn’t allowed by the time the NBA season starts, then Kansas City is pushing to be the temporary home of the Toronto Raptors.

There was a time when Kansas City had an NBA team; the Kings later moved to Sacramento.

8) Sunday night’s Seattle-Arizona game was the 14th NFL game since 1988 where both teams gained 500+ total yards.

7) Wisconsin Badgers have 12 COVID positives, their game with Nebraska this week has been cancelled. Badgers’ head coach and two of their QB’s tested positive over the weekend.

6) National League has now won seven of the last 11 World Series.

5 LA Rams changed kickers Tuesday; Sam Sloman was told to take a hike, and Kai Forbath is the new kicker.

4) There are rumors floating around that Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence may stay in college for his senior season, instead of going to the NFL, if the Jets wind up with the #1 pick.

Thing is, Jets have a bunch of high draft picks coming up, and figure to get more if they deal Sam Darnold; they may not be terrible for much longer.

3) I stumbled upon the movie Brian’s Song the other night, the 1971 original with James Caan and Billy Dee Williams. Great movie, sad movie, the true story of the friendship between two running backs on the Bears, Gale Sayers and Brian Piccolo.

I was 10 years old when it first aired on ABC’s Tuesday Night Movie; first movie that made me cry. If you see it on your TV listings, it is well worth watching.

2) Tuesday night, top of the 4th inning, and FOX does an interview with Kevin Cash while the game is going on; WHY?!?!?!? It is the bleeping World Series and you’re bothering a manager to do a nonsensical interview. Maybe if they asked him if he was going to stupidly remove his pitcher after 73 pitches, then maybe the interview would’ve made sense.

Speaking of Blake Snell, last time he finished the 6th inning was 20 starts ago, back in July 2019. But he was rolling Tuesday night; it was almost like they wanted to take him out.

1) Case Keenum is the backup QB in Cleveland this year; I’m hoping he writes a book someday, because he’s had an interesting career:

2007-11— Keenum was a 4-year starter for the Houston Cougars; he threw for 19,217 yards and 155 touchdowns. They retired his number.
2012— Keenum wasn’t drafted, but made the Houston Texans’ practice squad.
2013— Went 0-8 as the Texans’ starter.

2014— Bounced between St Louis/Houston, going 2-0 as the Texans’ starter.
2015-16— Went 7-7 as starter for the Rams, as they moved from St Louis to Los Angeles; he was 4-5 as Rams’ starter in 2016, before he got benched in favor of rookie Jared Goff.
2017— Went 11-3 as the starter in Minnesota; they pulled off a late-game miracle and beat the Saints 29-24, then lost 38-7 to the Eagles.

2018— Went 6-10 as the starter in Denver- they lost their last four games.
2019— Went 1-7 as the starter in Washington; was benched for rookie Dwayne Haskins.
2020— Is now Baker Mayfield’s backup in Cleveland. 

Wednesday’s Den: Mid-week musings…….

13) I voted today, a week early; good move. Was on line for only 45 minutes; well organized polling place, though the parking lot had tight quarters.

Side benefit of voting early; I felt young again and I’m 60; got there right after the bus from the Senior Citizen Center. Several people with walkers, oxygen tanks, one guy had a motorized scooter. Admire their spunk for getting out to vote on a chilly day.

Go out and vote; it is our responsibility for being lucky enough to live in a democracy.

12) Strange story from the Chargers; when rookie QB Justin Herbert made his first NFL start in Week 2 against the Chiefs, he was told he was starting……while the opening kickoff was in the air, like 40 seconds before the Chargers’ offense took the field.

Starting QB Tyrod Taylor couldn’t play when a pain-killing injection punctured his lung; official word of his being unavailable didn’t come until that soon before the game started. Herbert handled that game well and has been a terrific QB for the Chargers ever since.

11) NFC West standings:
5-1- Seattle
5-2- Rams, Arizona
4-3- San Francisco

I’ve been a Ram fan since 1966, so I know the NFC West pretty well— every one of these four teams is capable of winning the Super Bowl, but chances are, one of them won’t make playoffs, seeing how each conference will only have three Wild Card teams. Too bad.

10) 1966 was the first year of the Super Bowl; had I chosen to become a Lions’ fan when I was six years old instead of the Rams, my favorite team would be 1-12 in playoff games since then. ONE PLAYOFF WIN in 54 years; yikes. This is a franchise that won three NFL titles in the 50’s.

Detroit is 3-3 this year, so they have a legit shot at making this year’s playoffs.

9) In the 55 years of the Super Bowl era, Chicago Bears started 51 different QB’s, more than any other team. Compare that to division rival Green Bay, which since 1992, has basically started only two QB’s (Favre/Rodgers) except for the year Rodgers broke his collarbone.

Continuity is a good thing, especially with coaches/quarterbacks.

8) ESPN scrapped a plan to host eight of its college basketball tournaments at the Disney bubble in Orlando; lot of teams are scrambling, only a month before the season starts, to schedule games. Not sure yet if those tournaments will move elsewhere or just be cancelled for this year.

7) Punter Johnny Hekker was awesome in the Rams’ 24-10 win over Chicago Monday; the Rams downed FIVE of Hekker’s punts inside the Chicago 10-yard line. Bears’ average starting position was their own 16-yard line; Rams won field positions by a whopping 18 yards.

6) Chicago Bears have three wins this year where they’ve trailed by 13+ points during the game; they’re only one game behind the all-time record, set by the 2011 Lions, who won four times after trailing by 13+ points. Detroit finished 10-6 that season.

5) Southern Mississippi fired its football coach (they said he resigned, but come on…..) after they lost their season opener; now the interim coach has bolted to become the new head coach at I-AA Austin Peay. Brett Favre’s alma mater is 1-4 this season.

4) New Orleans Pelicans introduced Stan Van Gundy as their new head coach Tuesday; I’ll miss the guy on TV- he talked all ball, and it was like listening to a Masters’ class on basketball, with simple descriptive language that was easy to understand. I’ll be rooting for the Pelicans.

3) From the great researcher Chris Kamka: Dodgers led the major leagues this year with 118 home runs, but didn’t hit a grand slam, second year in a row the team that led MLB in homers had the fewest with the bases loaded. Last year, Minnesota hit 307 taters, with only two grand slams.

Dodgers were one of 10 teams this season with no grand slams.

2) Bad beat of the week: unfortunately, my cousin was on the wrong side of this one. Browns (-3.5) scored with 0:11 left to grab a 37-34 lead over the Bengals, but they missed the PAT and Cincinnati covered by half a point. They say breaks like this even out over time, but guaranteed you remember the brutal losses way more than the fortunate wins.

1) Dodgers 3, Rays 1 (LA wins World Series, 4-2)
— Rays took Snell out after 73 pitches, 5.1 brilliant innings; at some point, common sense has to come before your damn analytics. Betts/Seager/Turner were 0-6 with six K’s vs Snell in this game, but they take him out, and the roof falls in. 
— Mookie Betts added insurance with an 8th inning homer.
— People will be talking about the bottom of the 6th inning all winter. 

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

13) NFL switched the Seattle-Arizona game to Sunday night because the Raiders had COVID issues last week, so that game was somewhat in doubt— it turned out to be a lucky break. Seahawk-Cardinal game was first one in at least 70 years where both QB’s threw for 300+ yards, ran for 50+ yards; fun game to watch.

Seattle coach Pete Carroll, the youngest-acting 69-year old in America, had his knee scoped October 13, during the Seahawks’ bye week.

12) Chargers’ QB Justin Herbert had a 31-yard run Sunday, longest run by a Chargers QB since Mark Malone’s 36-yard run in 1988.

Malone was a great athlete; he was a QB who played some WR for the Steelers, and in 1990, he caught a 90-yard TD pass from Terry Bradshaw, in a game against Seattle.

11) Indiana Hoosiers are ranked #19 in one college football poll this week, the highest they’ve been ranked nationally since November 8, 1993.

Hoosiers play Ohio State in a few weeks; they’re 2-42-1 all-time against the Buckeyes.

10) When an NFL team changes punters, like the Steelers did last week, it creates another problem, in that the punter is almost always also the holder for kicks, so if you bring in a new punter, the kicker has to work with him.

There was a time when I was a kid, where mostly backup QB’s held for kicks, or defensive backs did. When Tom Dempsey made the first 63-yard FG in NFL history, his holder was Joe Scarpati, a DB. Rams used to have DB Nolan Cromwell hold for kicks, Dolphins used to have a WR named Karl Noonan do the holding.

Now it has been decided that it is just easier to have the punters hold, since they can work a lot in practice with the kicker. Makes it harder to have a good fake FG play, though.

9) LSU lost 32 players, three assistant coaches from their national champion football team last year; that’s a huge turnover, and now their new QB is hurt. Everyone has to scramble this year, adjusting on the fly. In the long run, it’ll help coaches be better coaches, as long as they don’t get fired first.

8) It is a little eerie when I’m surfing the Interweb, looking at stuff I might like to buy, and a half-hour or so later, ads for that stuff starts showing up in margins of sites I’m looking at. It is like we’re being monitored all the time, trying to scrape every last nickel out of us.

7) Re-runs of the great TV show The West Wing popped up on TV last week, first time in a long time I’ve seen them. The West Wing ran on NBC from 1999-2006; great cast- Martin Sheen, Alan Alda, Jimmy Smits, Alison Janney, Rob Lowe.

6) How much you think Chris Rock got paid for these commercials he is doing for IPhone 12? Has to be a pretty penny.

5) A reader from California contributed this knowledge:

In the late 1200’s, a set of legal statutes enacted by King Edward I were recorded on a series of scrolls, known as the Ragman Rolls.

These records were so lengthy that their name came to be used as a byword for any long, serious process- and eventually, became the word “rigamarole”

4) Wisconsin QB Graham Mertz had a big game in the Badgers’ season opener Friday, completing 20-21 passes for 248 yards in an easy win over Illinois, but then he tested positive for COVID, so now Wisconsin has that problem to deal with.

3) Best wishes to Washington coach Ron Rivera, who had his last cancer treatment Monday. Hopefully he’ll be healthy now and his life can get back to normal.

2) Big game this week; Ravens-Steelers. Baltimore is 7-2-2 ATS in last eleven games of this divisional rivalry.

1) Rams 24, Bears 10
— Chicago had two empty trips to the red zone, both in the 2nd half.
— Bears were the last NFL team this year to complete a pass of 40+ yards. 
— Rams outrushed Chicago, 165-49.
— Five of Bears’ last six games stayed under the total.

— Rams won all three of their home games, giving up 13.3 ppg
— LA has outscored opponents 93-32 in second half of games.
— LA’s last four games stayed under the total.
— NFC West teams are 13-7 ATS outside the division.


Monday’s Den: Wrapping up a sports Sunday

Browns 37, Cincinnati 34
— Mayfield threw a 24-yard TD pass with 0:11 left to win this exciting game.
— Browns’ last five drives: 40 plays, 379 yards, five TD’s (34 points)
— Cleveland split its four road games, giving up 37 ppg.
— Last 4+ years, Cleveland is 1-5 ATS as a road favorite.
— Five of their last six games went over the total.

— Bengals had ball in Cleveland red zone on 7 of their 8 drives.
— Rookie QB Burrow threw for 406 yards; Bengals scored TD’s on their last two drives.
— Bengals scored 30-34 points against Cleveland this year, but lost both games.
— Cincinnati is 5-1-1 ATS this season.
— Divisional home underdogs are 8-0 ATS so far this season.

Washington 25, Cowboys 3
— Dallas is first team EVER to allow 20+ first half points, six games in a row.
— Last six games, Dallas is minus-14 in turnovers.
— Cowboys are 0-7 ATS this year; their two wins by total of 4 points.
— Cowboys are 3-7 ATS in last nine games as a road favorite.
— Dallas offense in 2nd half: 19 plays, 30 yards, 3 first downs, zero points.

— Washington outrushed Dallas 208-83.
— Washington had lost its previous five games, before this easy win.
— This is only 2nd win for Washington in last nine series games.
— Washington in 1st half, on 5 drives: 33 plays, 276 yards, three TD’s.
— Washington sacked two Dallas QB’s 6 times; they KO’d Andy Dalton.

Lions 23, Atlanta 22
— Stafford threw an 11-yard TD pass on the last play of the game for the win. 
— Prater made FG’s of 50-51-49 yards; the game-winning PAT was 50 yards long.
— Lions allowed 27+ points in their three losses; 22-23-16 in their wins.
— Detroit won field position by 12-yard average.
— NFC North teams are 13-5 ATS outside the division.

— Atlanta scored a TD with 1:04 left, instead of taking a knee that would’ve ended the game, and that gave Detroit the chance they needed to win the game.
— Atlanta lost all four of its home games, giving up 28.5 ppg.
— Falcons are 5-10 ATS in last 15 games as a home favorite.
— Home side lost six of last eight series games.
— NFC South teams are 1-7 ATS in non-divisional home games.

New Orleans 27, Panthers 24
— Carolina just barely missed a 65-yard FG with 1:55 left that would’ve tied it.
— Panthers ran ball only 14 times for 37 yards- they only ran 43 plays overall.
— Carolina converted 6-9 third down plays; New Orleans 12-14.
— Carolina is 15-10 ATS in last 25 games as a road underdog.
— Team leading at halftime won all seven Carolina games.

— New Orleans outgained Panthers 415-283.
— Saints allowed 23-29-27-24 points in their wins, 34-37 in losses.
— New Orleans is 7-14 ATS in its last 21 games as a home favorite.
— Saints had ball six times; three TD’s, two FG’s and a fumble.
— All six of their games went over the total.
  Saints won seven of last eight series games; four of their last five series wins were by 5 or fewer points.

Bills 18, NJ Jets 10
— Buffalo won game without scoring a TD; they made 6-8 FG’s.
— Bills had ball nine times, and tried FG’s on 8 of the 9 drives.
— Buffalo won field position by 10 yards, ran 72 plays, to 51 for Jets.
— Total yardage in game: 422-190, Bills.
— Last time Buffalo won without scoring a TD? Week 13 of 2007, in a 17-16 win at Washington.

— Jets haven’t won yet, but they covered here- they’ve lost all their home games by 18-9-20-8 points.
— Weird thing is, they’re +4 in turnovers the last four games, but were still outscored by a combined 109-48.
— Jets in second half: 16 plays, four yards, 2 first downs, no points.
— Four of their last five games stayed under the total.
— Divisional home underdogs are 8-0 ATS so far this season.

Packers 35, Houston 20
— Packers scored TD’s on four of their first six drives.
— Green Bay won five of its six games, losing in Week 6 to Tampa.
— Packers are 3-0 in domes this season, scoring 43-37-35 points.
— Green Bay converted 7-12 3rd down plays; they did have a punt blocked.
  NFC North teams are 13-5 ATS outside the division.

— Texans lost six of their first seven games, giving up 28+ points in every game.
— Total yardage was close: 379-365 Packers, but Green Bay led 21-0 at the half.
— Houston is 3-6 ATS in last nine games as a home underdog.
— AFC South non-divisional underdogs are 3-6 ATS.

Steelers 27, Tennessee 24
— Steelers won first six games (5-1 ATS), scoring 30.5 ppg.
— Pittsburgh’s first two drives: 29 plays, 136 yards, two TD’s, TOP: 16:23.
— Steelers led 24-7 at halftime, then hung on for dear life.
— Pittsburgh won six of last eight series games.
— Over is 3-1-1 in their last five games.

— Tennessee has played five games decided by 3 or fewer points or in OT.
— Titans scored 17+ points in 2nd half, in each of their last four games.
— Tennessee ran only 56 plays in this game; Steelers ran 74.
— Over is 3-1-1 in Titans’ last five games.
— AFC South teams are 7-10 ATS outside the division.

49ers 33, New England 6
— 49ers ran ball for 197 yards, outgained New England 467-247
— Niners are 4-0 if they score 24+ points, 0-3 if they score less than 24.
— 49ers are 13-7 ATS in last 20 games as a road underdog.
— NFC West teams are 13-7 ATS outside the division.
— First half overs are 66-37-2 so far this season.

— Patriots lost last three games, scoring two TD’s on 30 drives, with 11 turnovers. 
— New England ran only 49 plays, were 1-6 on 3rd down, threw four INTs.
— Last three games, Patriots are minus-9 in turnovers, were outscored 41-9 in first half.
— Newton was benched in this game after going 9-15/98 with three INT’s.
— AFC East teams are 5-11 ATS outside the division.

Chiefs 43, Denver 16
— Chiefs scored 43, and didn’t convert a third down (0-8).
— Chiefs are 4-0 on foreign soil, winning by 3-14-9-27 points.
— KC is 8-3 ATS in its last 11 games as a road favorite.
— Chiefs scored a defensive TD and ran a kick back for a TD.
— Chiefs won last ten series games, last three by total of 96-25.

— Denver turned ball over four times, allowed a kick return TD.
— Broncos lost all three of their home games, 16-14/28-10/43-16.
— Chiefs won their last four visits to Denver.
— Divisional home underdogs are now 8-1 ATS so far this season.

Buccaneers 45, Las Vegas 20
— Buccaneers’ last 7 drives: five touchdowns, one FG.
— Tampa Bay won five of its last six games, scoring 36.5 ppg.
— Bucs are allowing only 66.3 rushing yards/game.
— Last 4+ years, Tampa Bay is 5-2 ATS as a road favorite.
— NFC South non-divisional road teams are 6-3 ATS.

— Raiders scored 34-34-40 points in their wins, 20-23-20 in losses.
— Las Vegas has led only one of its games at halftime, beck in Week 1.
— All six of their games went over the total.
— Raiders didn’t have a sack or a takeaway, allowed 8.2 yards/pass attempt.

LA Chargers 39, Jaguars 29
— Jaguars trailed 16-0 early, then scored three straight TD’s, last one on a blocked punt.
— Jaguars lost last six games, are 0-5 ATS in last five.
— Jacksonville gave up 33.2 ppg in its last six games.
— Jaguars are 5-11-1 ATS in last 17 games as a road underdog.
— AFC South teams are 6-12 ATS outside the division.

— Rookie QB Herbert threw for 347 yards, got his first NFL win.
— Chargers outgained Jacksonville 484-294.
— Last five times Bolts had ball: 31 plays, 264 yards, three TD’s, FG, missed FG
— Herbert ran 9 times for 66 yards; he was LA’s leading rusher.
— AFC West teams are 11-5-2 ATS outside the division.

Arizona 37, Seahawks 34 OT
— Lockett caught 15 passes for 200 yards, three TD’s.
— Seahawks had 42-yard TD nullified by a holding penalty with 1:04 left in OT.
— Seattle won five of its first six games, scoring 33.7 ppg.
— Road team is 9-2-1 SU in last 12 series games.
— First loss for Seahawks in their last seven visits to the desert.
— Five of their six games went over the total.

— Cardinals scored 10 points in last 2:28 to send game to OT.
— Only time Arizona led the game was when they kicked FG in OT.
— Murray threw for 360 yards, three TD’s; ran ball for 67 yards and a TD.
— Arizona DB Budda Baker picked off a 1st half pass and appeared to headed for a TD, but was caught from behind by Seattle WR Metcalf. Cardinals didn’t score on the ensuing drive.
— Divisional home underdogs are now 9-1 ATS so far this season.

Dodgers 4, Rays 2 (LA leads 3-2)
— Dodgers scored twice in first inning, hung on from there.
— LA bullpen got the last 10 outs without allowing a run.
— Pederson homered for the Dodgers.
— Game 5 is Tuesday night. 

Sunday’s Den: Wrapping up a sports Saturday

13) Indiana 36, Penn State 35 OT— I could write about this game for an hour.
— Hoosiers snapped a 41-game losing skid to top 10 teams, which dated back to 1987.
— Penn State led 21-20, had the ball with 1:40 left and could’ve run out the clock, but Indiana let them score a TD and Penn State stupidly did so- take a knee, win 21-20. Then they didn’t go for 2, when that would’ve put them up 29-20 and ended the game.
— Indiana tied the game with 0:22 left in regulation.

— Both teams scored a TD in OT; when Indiana scored to make it 35-34, they went for two- their QB scrambled and appeared to be stopped short of the goal line, but the linesman called it good, replay declined to overturn the call and the Hoosiers had their upset.
— If I was James Franklin, I would’ve found the replay official after the game and given him a piece of my mind. To me, the ball hit out of bounds before it hit the pylon.

— Anyway, Penn State outgained Indiana 488-211, outrushed them 250-41. Game shouldn’t have gotten to overtime.
— Penn State had ten penalties for 100 yards, Indiana four for 36.

12) Middle Tennessee 40, Rice 34 OT— You have to find a replay of this on the Interweb; Owls tried a 45-yard FG to win the game earlier in OT, the ball hits:
— the right upright
— the crossbar
— the left upright
— the crossbar again, and bounces out, no good.

I’ve never seen that happen before; rough way to start your season- this was Rice’s first game.

11) Auburn 35, Ole Miss 28
— Rebels are only 1-4, but they’ve been fun to watch.
— Auburn threw a 58-yard TD pass with 1:11 left for the win.
— Teams combined to convert 21-32 third down plays.

Watching these games with teams that didn’t play any non-conference games, you understand why teams schedule stiffs to play before conference play begins— they get the kinks out, gain some continuity, so they don’t look terrible when conference play begins.

10) Rutgers 38, Michigan State 27
— Spartans turned ball over seven (7!!!) times; hard to win that way.
— Switching head coaches from Mark D’Antonio to Mel Tucker is not an upgrade. Tucker was 5-7 in his only season as a head coach, at Colorado LY.
— Rutgers turned ball over three times themselves; they were outgained 369-276. 

9) Nevada 37, Wyoming 34 OT
— Nevada’s punter was a star of the game; had a 75-yard punt, then a 72-yarder that pinned Wyoming back on their 2-yard line. Of course, if Wyoming’s punt returner would actually catch a punt, he would’ve helped his team’s cause a lot.
— Cowboys kicked a 42-yard FG with 0:23 left to send the game to OT; freshman walk-on kicker made 4-4 field goals, while wearing a red shoe. Give the kid a scholarship; make sure he keeps using the red shoe.
— Nevada led 28-6 with 3:00 left in third quarter, before Wyoming stormed back to tie it.

— Fun to see Mountain West football on TV again; this was a wild game.
— Nevada coach Norvell lost his father earlier this week. Our condolences to him. 

8) They’re building the Aztecs a new football stadium on the site of what used to be Jack Murphy Stadium, so San Diego State is playing home games in a soccer stadium in Carson, where the Chargers played home games the last few years.                            

7) Upsets of the Day:
— Rutgers (+11) 38, Michigan State 27
— Wake Forest (+10.5) 23, Virginia Tech 16
— Jacksonville State (+10) 19, FIU 10— Gamecocks are a I-AA team
— San Jose State (+7.5) 17, Air Force 6
— Indiana (+6) 36, Penn State 35 OT
— Purdue (+4) 24, Iowa 20
— Missouri (+3.5) 20, Kentucky 10

6) Clemson 47, Syracuse 21— Clemson was favored by 46 or 47 points, but Syracuse had the ball, down 27-21 in third quarter, before reality set in. Clemson coasted here, and star RB Etienne left with an injury. 

5) Missouri 20, Kentucky 10: Random observation: Week-to week, teams are having wildly erratic performances. Mizzou outgained Kentucky 421-145 in this game, after Wildcats won their previous two games by a combined score of 58-9. Missouri ran 92 plays in this game, Kentucky ran only 36 plays.

4) North Carolina 48, NC State 21:
— Tar Heels ran the ball for 326 yards, gained 578 yards on the day.
— NC State’s receivers were terrible in this game; they’re juggling backup QB’s with the starter breaking his leg. One of the WR’s dropped an easy TD, juggling it until a defender picked it off.
— State threw the ball for 358 yards; 11 different kids caught a pass, but they were useless when the game was close. 

3) If you bet first half lines in college football, you probably know that Liberty is 26-7 ATS in their last 33 first halves. Independent Flames are 6-0 SU this season. 

2) This is a very 2020 thing: Army already accepted a bowl bid, to the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, where they’ll play a Pac-12 opponent.

The thing is, Pac-12 won’t even start their football season for a couple more weeks, and one of their teams’ bowl opponents has already been decided. Very unusual. Very 2020. 

1) Rays 8, Dodgers 7 (series 2-2)
— Brett Phillips, with a .202 lifetime average, had the game-winning hit.
— Seager/Turner both had four hits for LA.
— There was a run scored in eight consecutive half-innings, setting a World Series record.
— This was third World Series game ever that, with today’s save rules, there were 3+ saves blown in the same game- the others were in 1960, 2011.
— Hunter Renfroe finished this game at 1B, where he had played for an entire 9 innings in his entire big league career. 

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

13) Dodgers 6, Rays 2 (LA leads World Series 2-1)
— Turner homered in the first inning.
— Buehler struck out 10 Rays in six IP.
— Tampa Bay had only four hits in the game.

12) NBA came out with a surprising proposal to start the 2020-21 season a few days before Christmas, play a 72-game regular season with only a 10-week offseason. Players have to sign off on these changes, but if the league shows it is financially beneficial, why wouldn’t they?

11) NBA Draft will be a virtual draft on November 18; hopefully, they’ll show coaches/GM’s in their homes, the way the NFL did.

10) Tulsa 42, South Florida 13:
— Tulsa ran ball for 227 yards, threw for 235; they also had a defensive score.
— USF is 0-5 vs I-A teams, with four losses by 20+ points.
— Tulsa covered its first three games (2-1 SU); they haven’t played at home yet. 

9) Louisiana 24, UAB 20
— UAB kicked a FG with 0:34 left in the half to go up 13-3; Louisiana ran the kickoff back 100 yards for a TD.
— UAB led 20-10 with 1:00 to go in third quarter, but was held scoreless rest of the way.
— Louisiana drove 86 yards for the winning TD with 6:35 left. 

8) Wisconsin 45, Illinois 7:
— Badgers scored two TD’s in last 1:06 of first half to break game open.
— Illinois’ only TD was a defensive score in second quarter.
— Wisconsin outgained the Illini 430-218.                              

7) WR Antonio Brown signed with Tampa Bay; he is likely to play for the Bucs in two weeks, when Tampa Bay hosts the Saints.

6) Big West Conference announced their conference basketball schedule; they’re doing something different, not playing home/home series, but having teams visit an opponent and play on consecutive nights, with half the series at home, half on the road, to reduce travel.

For instance, Cal Poly is at Cal-Irvine Jan 22-23; Northridge visits Cal Poly Jan 29-30. 

5) When Daniel Jones had his 80-yard run Thursday night, I wondered who had the longest run by a quarterback; over the last 25 years, Terrelle Pryor appears to have the longest run by a QB— he had a 93-yard TD run for the Raiders in 2013. 

4) Who are the best teams in the red zone, so far this season?
Seattle 6.17 points/possession, Arizona 6.15 ppp, Tampa Bay 5.95 ppp

3) Who are the worst teams in the red zone, so far this season?
Giants 3.19 ppp, Jets 3.23, Denver 4.07

2) What NFL teams have had the most TD plays of 20+ yards?
7— Atlanta (17 TD’s overall), Seattle (23 TD’s)
6— Arizona, Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh

1) What NFL teams have had the fewest TD plays of 20+ yards?
0— Colts (12 TD’s, longest TD play, 17 yards)
0— Patriots (11 TD’s, longest TD play, 11 yards)
1— Denver/Jacksonville both have one TD play of 20+ yards, on 15 TD’s. 

Friday’s Den: Random stuff with the weekend here

13) Eagles 22, Giants 21:
— Eagles scored two TD’s in last 4:38 to pull out this win.
— Daniel Jones had an 80-yard run; Giants ran ball for 160 yards.
— Giants lost their last five visits here, by 1-5-3-3-6 points.

— Eagles won last seven series games; five of those wins were by 6 or fewer points.
— Underdogs covered six of seven Eagle games.
— Philly survived 2nd quarter where they had ball in red zone three times, but scored only three points- they missed a 29-yard FG.

12) NFL jerked around their TV schedule for this Sunday; Seattle-Arizona moves to the Sunday night slot, Bucs-Raiders moves to 4:05, probably because Las Vegas put several players on the COVID list this week, including several offensive linemen.

11) Had this been a normal baseball season, Dodgers’ payroll would’ve been $222,115.000; Tampa Bay’s payroll would’ve been $72,489,233. 

10) LSU will start true freshman QB TJ Finley this week, in place of injured starter Myles Brennan; this will be Finley’s first college start. Another true freshman QB, Max Johnson, is also expected to play some for the Bayou Bengals. 

9) The Holiday Bowl will not be played this season, bowl organizers announced Thursday, citing the coronavirus situation; the Holiday Bowl had been played every year since 1978.                                 

8) Baltimore Ravens traded a 2021 3rd-round pick and a 2022 conditional 5th-round pick to the Minnesota Vikings for Yannick Ngakoue. NFL trade deadline is November 3rd. 

7) When Pac-12 starts their football season, teams will need to have 53+ players active and ready to play, with 7+ of those 53 being offensive linemen. 

6) In their first four games, Buffalo Bills had 24 plays that gained 20+ yards; in their last two games, they’ve had only three plays of 20+ yards. 

5) Jordan Spieth’s father is caddying for him this week at the ZoZo Championship; Spieth’s regular caddy had a death in the family and was unavailable. 

4) Indiana Pacers named Nate Bjorkgren their new head coach; he spent the last two years as an assistant coach in Toronto, helping them win the 2019 title. As recently as 2007, Bjorkgren was a high school coach in Arizona. 

3) It snowed in Minnesota Tuesday. On October 20. No bueno. 

2) Dallas Cowboys have trailed by 17+ points at halftime in three of their four home games. 

1) Appalachian State 45, Arkansas State 17:
— App State ran ball for 305 yards, outgained Ark State 521-368.
— App State converted 10-15 third down plays.
— App State had three TD plays of 46+ yards. 

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

13) Rays 6, Dodgers 4 (series 1-1)
— Blake Snell didn’t allow a hit until 5th inning; bullpen got the last 16 outs.
— Brandon Lowe snapped out of a slump, homered twice for the Rays.
— Joey Wendle knocked in three runs for Tampa Bay.
— Game 3 is Friday night in Arlington.

12) Dodger OF Cody Bellinger hit 47 homers last year, seems headed to becoming a big star, but he’s got a ways to go before he catches up with his dad, at least in one category. 

Clay Bellinger played in 193 big league games over parts of four seasons with Bronx and the Angels; he hit 12 career homers, struck out 82 times, bur he also won THREE World Series rings, two in New York, a third one with the Angels. Cody is trying for his first one this year. 

Today, I’m looking at how NFL teams do on drives that start 75+ yards from the goal line; can.a team’s offense carry the team, if need be? Lot of strong teams have really good special teams and defenses, so the offense’s job is a somewhat simpler, but which offenses drive the field the best?

11) Top teams in points/possession on drives that start 75+ yards from goal line:
— Raiders 3.37 points/possession
— Steelers 3.16
— Chiefs 2.95
— Dolphins 2.62
— Rams 2.58

10) Worst teams in points/possession on drives that start 75+ yards from goal line:
— Jets 0.48 points/possession
— Washington 0.69
— Broncos 0.86
— Bears 1.24
— Cleveland 1.43

If a team gives up a defensive TD/safety, it goes against them in this category. 

9) Obviously, teams that have better field position are more likely to win. These teams have started the lowest %age of their drives 75 yards from the goal line:
47.5% (29 of 61)— Ravens
50%— Colts
51.0%— Steelers
57.8%— Buccaneers   
60.8%— Titans

All teams with winning records.                                    

8) These teams have started the highest %age of their drives 75 yards from the goal line:
85.7% (48 of 56)— Jets
82.5%— Vikings
81.5%— Chargers
79.4%— Cowboys
78.3%— Patriots

Interesting that New England has started 36 of 46 drives 75+ yards from the goal line. 

7)  Since 1986, NFL teams that started the season 0-6 won an average of 3.0 games the rest of the season.

6) Clemson is a 46-point favorite over Syracuse Saturday; there is one sportsbook in America offering a money line on this game. Risk $1,000 on Clemson, win a dollar, One dollar. 

5) Dallas Cowboys are 3-10 in their last 13 playoff games, losing their last eight road playoff games- their last road playoff win was 1993, in San Francisco. 

4) Jets have been outscored 114-29 in the second half of games this year. 

3) Only one person has won an Olympic Gold Medal and also played on a Super Bowl champ; Bob Hayes, who was a very fast receiver for the Cowboys, from 1965-74. He won a gold medal in the 100 meters sprint at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo. 

2) Memphis Tigers’ WR Damonte Coxie has opted out of this season, and is headed to prepare for the NFL Draft; he caught 16 balls for 175 yards in two games this year, then sat out the UCF game Saturday, and now he’s bolted the team for greener pa$ture$.

Last two years, Coxie caught a combined 148 passes for 2,450 yards and 16 TD’s. 

1) 3-3 Miami Dolphins are changing QB’s after their bye week; rookie Tua Tagovailoa will get his first NFL start against the Rams next week, replacing veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick, who had been playing really well. 

Wednesday’s Den: My running diary of Sunday’s 1:00 NFL games

12:59: We have eight games on one screen on channel 702 of DirecTV, a good way to follow the early games, as long as the Rams aren’t playing- they play tonight. Bengals-Colts is the one game that isn’t being shown on this screen. 

1:04: Minnesota QB Cousins throws an INT on the Vikings’ first play; no bueno. If there were fans in the stands, they’d be grumbling right now.

1:07: Falcons take advantage; Ryan-to-Jones gives Atlanta a 7-0 lead, first TD of the day in the league.

1:08: 4-1 Bears score an early TD, lead the Panthers 7-0 early on in Charlotte. 

1:12: Lamar Jackson scrambles, throws a TD, Ravens lead 7-0 in nPhilly, as the NFC East’s struggles continue. Coming into this week, NFC East squads are 3-12-1 ATS outside the division.

1:14: Washington misses a field goal against the Giants; Detroit scores an early TD  against the the Jaguars in Jacksonville. 

Speaking of Jacksonville, if I owned the Jaguars and we were home underdogs to Detroit, I’d have a talk with my football people and ask what the BLEEP is going on????

1:15: Baker Mayfield throws a pick-6, Browns are down 10-0 in Pittsburgh- they’ve lost 16 games in a row in Pittsburgh, and appear to be on a fast track to #17.

1:19: Tannehill throws a TD for the Titans; they led Houston 7-0.

When Tannehill was a rookie with Miami, they were on HBO’s Hard Knocks, and there was a conversation where Tannehill and Matt Moore, the other QB, are talking in a meeting room. Tannehill tells Moore that he doesn’t know who the other three teams in the AFC East are. 

“How do you not know that?!?!?!” Moore was as incredulous as I was.

1:22: Denver leads 6-0 in Foxboro, kicking field goals on their first two drives, but not taking full advantage of scoring opportunities. 

1:23: Giants 3, Redskins 0— The moveable force leads the resistible object.

1:25: Falcons lead 10-0 in Minnesota; this is where I’m supposed to point out that Kirk Cousins makes $28M a year, but won only one playoff game (1-2). He is 20-18-1 in 2+ years QB’ing the Vikings.

I admire Vikings’ coach Mike Zimmer; guy has had eight operations on one of his eyes but he still coaches. I’ve had two eye operations in the last 13 months; has to be very difficult for him to work as hard as coaches do while properly maintaining his eye, or maybe that’s why he’s had to have eight operations- could be he isn’t maintaining the eye.

1:27: Carolina kicks a FG, trail Chicago 7-3, first game today where both teams have scored. 

1:32: Giants lead 10-0; Jones throws a 23-yard TD pass to Slayton.

1:35: Titans lead Houston 14-0; the Texans traded star WR DeAndre Hopkins, then fired the guy who traded him four games later— not a well-run franchise. Great players help win games. 

1:42: Ravens lead 14-0 in Philly; Eagles drafted Carson Wentz in 2016, won the Super Bowl the next year, but Wentz had gotten injured during the season and Nick Foles was the hero, but now Foles plays for the Bears and Wentz is increasingly viewed as a suspect.

1:45: Denver leads 9-0 in Foxboro; they have Drew Lock back at QB, and have FG’s on their first three drives. It is super-ironic that John Elway is struggling to find a franchise QB for the team he once starred for.

1:50: Daniel Jones runs for 49 yards; problem is, he runs better than he throws, which isn’t so great for an NFL QB.

I miss watching NFL games at the Westgate Theater in Las Vegas, the same room where Barry Manilow performs. Seats 1,500 people; there is a concession stand on the left, betting windows in the back, and people have always been cool when I’ve been there.

One Sunday in the Westgate 2-3 years ago, I’m talking to this guy wearing a Cardinals’ jersey; we’re shooting the breeze about sports, gambling, Las Vegas; all of a sudden, it dawns on me that this guy is betting $6,000 a game, while I’m stressed out about my $30 wager. Oy. 

Las Vegas is the big time of gambling; can’t wait to get back there.

2:00: Denver leads 9-3 in Foxboro; over bettors are queasy. Teams are moving the ball, but not scoring touchdowns.

Bengals led 21-0 in Indy, now lead 21-7; at one point, Joe Burrow was a 3rd-string QB at Ohio State, playing behind JT Barrett and Dwayne Haskins. Anyone want to ask Urban Meyer about that?

2:03: Baker Mayfield scrambles, throws another INT; Cleveland QB’s are measured by how they do against the Steelers/Ravens, who rule the AFC North. This ain’t going well. 

2:07: Tannehill has Tennessee ahead of the Texans 21-7; in a couple weeks, Titans play Cincinnati, and Tannehill will meet up with Zac Taylor, whose father-in-law is Mike Sherman, the guy who moved Tannehill from WR to QB while they were both at Texas A&M.

2:14: Denver leads 12-3 at halftime in Foxboro; four possessions, four FG’s. 

This is where I break down Bill Belichick’s career as a head coach:
— With Tom Brady at QB: 219-64, six Super Bowl titles
— Without Tom Brady at QB: 56-65, and down 12-3 at halftime today

2:16: Giants lead 13-10; Washington’s Kyle Allen throws a TD with 0:13 left in the half. Giants have mostly dominated the half, but lead only 13-10.

2:28: Eagles get stopped on 4th-and-a in the red zone, trail 17-0 with 0:56 left in the half, and may be at least a little grateful there are no fans there to boo them off the field.

Note to self; buy some Halloween candy, Reese’s cups or KitKats. That way, if no kids show up, I’ve still got a bowlful of candy I like.

With most of the games at halftime, time for a nutritious meal, a bowl of Fruit Loops.

2:48: Broncos lead 15-3 in Foxboro; five possessions, five FG’s. Has this ever happened before, a team with field goals on their first five drives?

2:53: Houston has rallied, cutting the Titans lead to 21-17.

Jennifer Garner must have a great agent; she does a ton of commercials.

2:55: New England’s tight end fumbles, Denver has the ball in NE territory- they kick yet another FG, now lead 18-3.

3:00: There was a time 10-11 years ago when Jacksonville owner Shahid Khan tried to buy the Rams, when they were in St Louis. Mercifully, that didn’t happen, because Stan Kroenke moved the Rams to LA and that’s a good thing.

3:02: Falcons lead 23-7 in Minnesota; Mike Zimmer is a defensive-minded coach, and has gone thru offensive coordinators very quickly. Watching the Vikings gag away that game in Seattle Monday night, it had to be a dispiriting loss, and today they look like a depressed team.

3:05: Guy on the Eagles runs 70+ yards, fumbles, and a teammate recovers for a TD, but then Philly goes for two points- why? When was it decided that going for two all the time was such a great idea?

3:09: Jones throws a terrible INT in the end zone, Giants still lead, but only 13-10.

3:11: Matt Ryan throws another TD pass, Falcons lead 30-7, and interim coaches are about to go 2-0 this season in their first game after the firing.

3:13: Lamar Jackson runs 37 yards for a TD; he could’ve run to Newark before he got hit, and the Ravens are jogging, 24-6.

3:19: Tennessee misses a FG, still trails 23-21, in what looks like the best of these early games.

3:20: Steelers lead Cleveland 31-7 and Case Keenum is in at QB for the Browns; I’ll be doing a look at Keenum’s unusual career pretty soon. Guy moves around a lot.

3:25: Cam Newton gets the Patriots in the end for the first TD of the day, but they miss on the 2-point play, trail 18-9 with 8:31 left. First TD of the game for either side.

3:27: Tennessee’s Derrick Henry runs 94 yards for a TD, Titans lead 29-23 with 9:23 left.

3:29: Washington kicks a FG; they’re 13-13 with the Giants, 8:56 left. My cousin bet the Giants on the money line. Kind of glad I’m not there right now. 

3:32: Deshaun Watson throws a 53-yard TD pass, Houston leads 30-29 with 8:29 left. Thisis really a good game.

3:37: Denver QB Lock throws an awful INT; Patriots get the ball on Denver’s 25, but only kicks a field goal, and trails 18-12 with 3:23 left.

3:42: Lock throws ANOTHER interception, and New England is going to steal this bleeping game. Denver just cut Blake Bortles, who can’t possibly be worse than the guys the Broncos have been using at QB.

3:44: Giants get sack/fumble/TD, take a 20-13 lead with 3:29 left.

3:50: Former QB Julian Edelman throws an 18-yard pass to Cam Newton on a trick play; Newton is way bigger than the DB’s, is bigger than lot of linebackers. Patriots are on the move.

3:52: Eagles’ tight end Zach Ertz sprains his ankle; the Philly offense is messed up.

3:53: Houston scores a TD, leads 36-29; they go for 2 to get ahead by nine points (two scores) but miss on the try. I have no problem with that strategy.

3:54: Denver holds on, wins 18-12 in Foxboro, without scoring a TD. Belichick falls to 56-66 in his career with a QB other than Brady.

3:56: Redskins score TD with 0:36 left, trail 20-19, and Rivera has them go for two points- they don’t get it, much to the relief of a certain living room on Long Island.

Unless your QB is a great runner, I’m a firm believer in kicking the PAT and going to OT, but football coaches have this macho attitude that we can run them over, but it makes very little sense. Then again, no one asked me.

4:00: Titans score with 0:04 left to force overtime, and now the TV guys are killing Romeo Crennel for going for two after Houston’s last TD.

4:07: Tennessee wins coin toss in OT, Watson winces noticeably, not showing whole lot of faith in his defense.

4:12: Once down 21-0, Colts have rallied to lead Indianapolis 31-27; Burrow throws a pick in Colt territory with 0:32 left.

Philip Rivers grew up in Alabama, but neither Alabama/Auburn saw him as a starting QB, so he went to NC State, where he started for four years, and since has played 17 years in the NFL.

Go figure.

4:14: Derrick Henry scores TD, puts Houston’s defense out of its misery, 42-36. He ran the ball for 221 yards and looked like a man amongst boys.

Tennessee is 5-0, but they have a four wins by 3 or fewer points, plus this overtime win.

4:19: Eagles have rallied, have ball down 30-22, after Baltimore killed off only 0:27 on their last drive. After a terrible interference call on Baltimore, Wentz sneaks in for a TD with 1:55 left, but the 2-point try fails, and Ravens hold on, 30-28.

Eagles scored four TD’s, but never tried an extra point- they went for two four times.

Pretty good card of early games, considering it is October, when league tries to hide lot of the lesser-appealing non-divisional matchups. 

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

13) Chiefs 26, Buffalo 17
— Chiefs won all three of their road games, 2by 3-14-9 points. 
— KC is 11-7 ATS in last 18 games following a SU loss.
— Under is 4-1-1 in their games this season.
— Chiefs are 7-3 ATS in last ten games as a road favorite.

— Buffalo lost its last two games, giving up 68 points, after a 4-0 start.
— Buffalo is 5-10 ATS in its last 15 games as a home underdog.
— Game was played on a rainy, cruddy night in western New York.
— Chiefs ran the football for 245 yards; they outgained Buffalo, 466-206.

12) Cardinals 38, Dallas 10:
— Arizona’s first three drives: 16 plays, 23 yards, three punts.
— Redbirds’ next four drives: 26 plays, 240 yards, four TD’s.
— Arizona ran the ball for 261 yards.
— Cardinals scored 38 points despite Murray completing 9-24 passes.
— Arizona is 3-1 on the road this season.

— Last five games, Dallas has allowed 39-38-49-34-38 points.
— Ezekiel Elliott lost fumbles on two of his first eight touches.
— With 11:30 left in 3rd quarter, play-by-play guy said that Dallas lacked enthusiasm, a nice way of saying they quit. No one disagreed with him.
— NFC East teams are 4-14 ATS outside their division, 1-9 at home. 

11) Why did Red Sox trade Mookie Betts? Isn’t it good to have great players on your team? 

10) Last three Georgia-Alabama games, Dawgs led all three games at halftime, then got outscored by a combined 68-17 in second half and lost all three. 

9) Tennessee Vols signed a new defensive line coach to a 2-year contract this year, but they fired the guy Sunday, after only four games. Must be an interesting story there. 

8) Social media flipped out Saturday night, when Tampa Bay took starter Charlie Morton out of the game despite Morton having thrown only 66 pitches. Everything worked out and the Rays won, but analytics people are obsessed with the idea that facing hitters a third time in a game is a bad idea, even if the pitcher doing it is way better than the reliever.

Thats part of what makes life interesting, different ideas being debated. 

7) When the Tampa Bay Rays won the American League in 2008, it was also their first-ever winning season; they became a franchise in 1998. Starting in ’08, they’ve been over .500 nine of the last 13 years. 

6) Of the 32 current NFL head coaches, 11 of them were also head coaches at a previous stop.

10 defensive coordinators, 7 offensive coordinators have previously been head coaches.

5) Tennessee Titans lost OT Taylor Lewan for the year with a torn ACL; big loss.

4) You wonder how much playing these weeknight games on national TV will help recruiting for Sun Belt, AAC football programs that are getting an unusually high amount of TV exposure.

It is good football, the games have been fun to watch; kids are going to see the games, and it has to help their recruiting a little bit, no? 

3) Long time ago, there was a guy who played in the ABA named Wes Bialosuknia; he played at UConn in college, played one year for the Oakland Oaks, scoring 8.7 ppg. 

He had a great nickname; the Typographical Terror. 

2) Leads seem to less safe in the NFL this year; in six weeks of play, at least one team every week has blown a lead of 16+ points, with the Bengals doing it this past week- they led the Colts 21-0 in Indianapolis Sunday, lost 31-27.

1) One of the great broadcasters of all-time announced his retirement this week; Mike Emrick is one of, if not the best hockey play-by-play guy ever (with the late Dan Kelly). Few years ago, Emrick was very nice to a friend of mine’s son, who is an up-and-coming hockey announcer. He is just a classy guy and was great fun to listen to. Enjoy your retirement!!! 

Monday’s Den: Wrapping up an NFL Sunday

Tennessee 42, Texans 36 OT
— Houston scored TD with 1:50 left to go up 36-29; they went for 2 points to get ahead by two scores, but missed.
— Texans lost despite a 10-yard edge in field position.
— Texans lost four of last five visits to Nashville, losing by 7-11-6 points.

— Titans gained 601 yards, had 31 first downs.
— Henry ran ball 22 times for 22 yards, including a 94-yard TD.
— Tennessee drove 76 yards for the tying TD with 0:04 left.
— Tennessee drove 82 yards for the winning TD on the first drive in OT.
— Bad beat if you took the points with Houston (+3.5)

Ravens 30, Philadelphia 28
— Ravens led 17-0 at halftime, had to stop tying 2-point play in last 2:00.
— Baltimore won its three road games, 33-16/31-17, spring 30+ points in all three games.
— QB Jackson ran ball for 108 yards, threw for 186 more.
— Penalties: Ravens 12-132 yards, Eagles 3-20.

— Eagles went 3/out on their first six drives.
— In 2nd half: Philly ran 36 plays for 319 yards, four TD’s.
— Eagles went for 2 points after all four of their TD’s.
— Underdogs covered five of their six games this year.

Indianapolis 31, Bengals 27
— Bengals led 21-0 after first play of the 2nd quarter.
— Cincy’s first three drives: 23 plays, 191 yards, 21 points.
— Bengals rest of the game: 53 plays, 207 yards, 6 points.
— Cincy is 16-9 ATS in its last 25 games as a road underdog.

— Colts won their three home games, 28-11/36-7/31-27.
— Rivers threw for 234 yards, just in the 2nd quarter.
— Indy converted 7 of 11 third down plays.
— Colts averaged 8.2 yards per pass attempt.

Broncos 18, New England 12
— Broncos kicked FG’s on each of their first six drives; never saw that before.
— Denver’s last four drives: 12 plays, 26 yards, two INT’s.
— Broncos had 3 takeaways (+1), after having only two takeaways in first four games.
— Denver is 7-3 ATS in its last ten games as a road underdog.

— Newton had 76 of Patriots’ 117 rushing yards.
— New England’s only TD, only TD of the game, came on their 8th drive.
— Total of only three penalties were enforced in this game, for 24 yards.
— Belichick’s career record as a head coach without Brady: 56-66.

Bears 23, Carolina 16
— Chicago’s average starting point: their own 44 (won field position by 26 yards)
— Bears are 5-1, with four wins by 4 or fewer points.
— Chicago won its three road games, 27-23/30-26/23-16.
— Four of their last five games stayed under the total.

— Carolina converted only 3-13 on 3rd down; Bears were 7-14.
— Panthers had one TD, two FG’s on three red zone drives.
— Panthers are 10-14 ATS in last 24 games as a home favorite.
— Chicago won five of last six games overall vs Carolina.

Lions 34, Jacksonville 16
— Detroit ran ball for 180 yards, outgained Jaguars 403-275
— Lions scored four TD’s, kicked FG on five red zone drives.
— Detroit’s first two drives: 16 plays, 125 yards, 14 points.
— Detroit covered 8 of its last 9 post-bye games.

— Jaguars lost their last five games, giving up 30+ points in all five.
— Jacksonville ran ball only 16 times for 44 yards.
— Cole caught six passes for 143 yards, including a 51-yarder.
— Jacksonville has been outsacked 18-5 this season.

Falcons 40, Minnesota 23
— Falcons win in first game with interim coach Morris.
— Atlanta scored four TD’s; only one TD drive was longer than 44 yards.
— Falcons converted 9-17 on 3rd down, had three INT’s, won field position by 14 yards.

— Cousins threw an INT on first play of game; it went downhill from there.
— Vikings in 1st half: 6 series, 24 plays, 135 yards, 3 turnovers, 0 points.
— Minnesota has lost field position by 10+ yards in five of its six games.

NJ Giants 20, Washington 19
— Redskins scored TD with 0:36, but went for 2 points and the win- they lost.
— Washington lost its last five games, giving up 28.2 ppg.
— Last four games, Washington was outscored 46-16 in second half.
— Last 4+ years, Redskins are 16-12 ATS as a road dog.

— Giants had a sack/fumble/TD for winning points with 3:29 left.
— Giants have scored only six TD’s on 52 drives this year- their one TD drive here was 27 yards.
— Washington ran 69 plays, Giants 46 in this game.
— Daniel Jones is 4-14 as an NFL starter, but 3-0 vs Washington. 

Pittsburgh 38, Browns 7
— Cleveland went 3/out on six of their 12 drives.
— Browns converted only 1-12 third down plays, lost field position by 12 yards.
— Cleveland is 11-19-1 ATS in its last 31 games as a road underdog.
— Browns lost their last 17 visits to Steel City.

— Pittsburgh won its first five games (4-1 ATS), scoring 31.2 ppg.
— Steelers’ first five drives: 28 plays, 190 yards, 17 points.
— Neither team gained 300+ yards in this game; unusual.
— Steelers are 13-2-1 SU in last sixteen series games. 

Tampa Bay 38, Packers 10
— In its first four games, Green Bay went 3/out one time on 35 drives; they went 3/out 7 times on 11 drives in this game.
— Packers led 10-0 orly in 2nd quarter, then Rodgers threw a pick-6 and things unraveled.
— Green Bay’s last nine drives: 39 plays, 52 yards, four first downs.
— Packers are 1-4-1 ATS in their last five post-bye games.

  Tampa Bay won its first three home games, scoring 31-38-38 points.
— Buccaneers allowed only 2.7 yards/pass attempt in this game.
— For only 2nd time time in their history,  Tampa Bay didn’t have any penalties.

Miami 24, NJ Jets 0
— Jets lost their first six games (0-6 ATS), giving up 30.8 ppg.
— Jets have been outscored 114-29 in first half of games.
— Gang Green lost its three road games, 27-17/36-7/24-0.
— Jets are 8-19-2 ATS in last 29 games as a road underdog.

— Miami scored TD’s on two of their first three drives.
— Teams  combined to convert 3-26 third down plays.
— Dolphins won field position by 18 yards.
— Miami is 6-1-1 ATS in last eight games as a home favorite.

San Francisco 24, LA Rams 16
— Rams were outgained 390-311, converted only 4-12 on third down.
— LA’s four 1st half drives: 21 plays, 92 yards, 6 points (missed PAT).  
— Rams had only two plays of 20+ yards.

— 49ers’ first four drives: 35 plays, 256 yards, 21 points.
— SF averaged 8.1 yards/pass attempt, LA 5.2.
— 49ers ran 70 plays from scrimmage, LA only 57. 

Dodgers 4, Braves 3 (LA wins 4-3):
— Bellinger homered in 7th inning for winning run.
— Urias pitched three perfect innings to get the win.
— Atlanta OF Nick Markakis has played in 2,154 regular season games and has had a really good career, but he’s still never played in a World Series. 


Sunday’s Den: Wrapping up a busy Saturday

13) Kentucky 34, Tennessee 7:
— Wildcats had lost 17 games in a row in Knoxville, which was the longest losing skid in one visiting stadium in the country- their last win at Tennessee was in 1984.
— Kentucky won its last two games by a combined 58-9.
— Tennessee changed QB’s twice; Kentucky’s first two scores of the day were pick-6’s.

12) Memphis 50, Central Florida 49:
— Total yards: UCF 798-703
— First downs: Memphis 41-34
— UCF’s QB Gabriel threw for 601 yards in a losing cause.
— Golden Knights missed a 42-yard FG for the win with 0:04 left. 

11) Florida State 31, North Carolina 28— Seminoles led 31-7, missed a FG, then had to fight like hell to hang on for the win. UNC threw for 374 yards, outgained FSU 558-432, but converted only 2-12 on third down.

10) Texas A&M 28, Mississippi State 14— MSU lost its last three games; in their last two games, Bulldogs scored a total of 16 points, 9 by their defense, only 7 by their offense. 

9) Alabama 41, Georgia 24— Crimson Tide outscored Georgia 21-0 in 2nd half; they gained 564 total yards, picked off three Georgia passes. Dawgs completed only 18-40 passes; I’m guessing that USC transfer QB Daniels will get medically cleared to play next week. 

8) Arkansas 33, Ole Miss 21— Not often a QB stays in the game long enough to throw six INT’s, but that happened here. Arkansas led 20-0, had lead cut to 20-14, when Rebels converted only 4-16 on third down and turned ball over seven times- hard to win that way.

Arkansas WR Treylon Burks made one of the greatest catches I’ve ever seen for a TD, as good as any catch you’ll see on a Sunday. 

7) Upsets of the Week:
— Florida State (+13.5) 31, North Carolina 28
— Coastal Carolina (+9) 30, Louisiana 27
— Kentucky (+6.5) 34, Tennessee 7
— North Texas (+6) 52, Middle Tennessee 35
— South Carolina (+3) 30, Auburn 22

6) Liberty 38, Syracuse 21— Last year, Syracuse was a 19-point favorite at Liberty, and they blanked the Flames, 24-0, but Liberty ran the ball for 338 yards in this game- they were favored by 2.5 points on the road, over an ACC team. Hugh Freeze won’t be at Liberty much longer. 

5) South Carolina 30, Auburn 22— Gamecocks hadn’t beaten Auburn since 1933; this was their first win over Auburn in SEC play. Tigers outgained Carolina 481-297, but threw three INT’s. 

4) Temple 39, South Florida 37— A gambler at SouthPoint in Las Vegas risked $50,000 to win $10,000 that Temple would win SU; they were down 31-20 with 2:00 left in third quarter, but rallied to win. Had to be a long three hours for that guy, but he did win. 

3) I was flipping channels Saturday afternoon, hit the wrong button and found a pro bowling tournament; guy had a perfect game heading into the 10th frame. Francois Lavoie struck out and got his 300 game, which is such a cool event that his opponent was taking pics of him with his cellphone after the game. 

2) Dodgers 3, Braves 1 (series 3-3):
— Seager/Turner homered in the first; that was enough.
— Braves had nine hits, were 2-11 with RISP.
— Buehler tossed six shutout innings. 

1) Rays 4, Astros 2 (Tampa Bay wins 4-3):
— Morton threw 5.2 scoreless innings.
— Arozarena homered in the first inning.
— Tampa Bay plays Game 1 of the World Series Tuesday.