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

13) Seahawks 23, Eagles 17
— Seahawks won field position by 13 yards, sacked Wentz six times.
— Seattle won last seven series games, holding Eagles to 12.6 ppg.
— Seahawks won last seven visits here; their last loss in Philly was in 1989.

— Eagles’ first 5 drives: 15 plays, minus-1 yard, zero first downs.
— Down 20-9 with 2:14 left, Eagles went for it on 4th-and-4, eschewing a 42-yard FG; it didn’t go well.
— Philly is 1-5-1 SU outside their division.
— Eagles are 3-0 if they allow 21 or fewer points, 0-7-1 if they allow more than 21. 

12) NFL pushed Ravens-Steelers game back to Wednesday at 3:40 in the afternoon, so maybe Baltimore can get in some practicing Tuesday. This also means Sunday’s Washington-Pittsburgh game will be moved back in the schedule.

Game is in the afternoon because NBC is showing the Christmas tree lighting in Rockefeller Center Wednesday night- that’s a lucrative gig they didn’t want to give up. What TV wants, TV gets.

11) 49ers are moving to Arizona for a few weeks, because of Santa Clara County’s ban on contact sports. 49ers will host Buffalo/Washington in the Cardinals’ stadium in Glendale. 

10) Bad news for the Indiana Hoosiers; QB Michael Penix Jr is done for the year with a torn ACL. Indiana is having an excellent season; this puts a major damper on it.

9) Jacksonville Jaguars won their opener, haven’t won since; they fired GM Dave Caldwell Sunday, but kept coach Doug Marrone, at least until they have a new GM. 

8) Last NFL team to shut out a divisional rival twice in same year? 2002 Falcons blanked Carolina 20-0/41-0.

7) One of the bad beats of last week was Pepperdine (+7) at UCLA. Visiting Waves were up 7 at the half, but wound up losing 107-98, in triple OT. The right side doesn’t always win the bet. 

6) This season, there are 17 Division I basketball coaches who are coaching their son(s)

5) Texas 78, Davidson 76— They’re playing the Maui Classic this week in Asheville, NC; this was a good ballgame. Longhorns shot 68% inside arc, Davidson 78%. Game was 43-all at the half; Wildcats had couple of shots to tie/take lead at the end, but Texas prevailed and plays Indiana in the semifinal Tuesday. 

4) Thru Sunday, these basketball conferences were doing well ATS:
7-3 ATS: MAC, Mountain West
5-3: SoCon
9-6: ACC
8-6: WCC

3) Thru Sunday, these basketball conferences were doing poorly ATS:
3-8: C-USA
3-6: AAC
2-4: Big West
4-6: SEC

2) Houston Texans WR Will Fuller has been suspended six games for violating the NFL’s performance enhancing drug policy. 

1) Last year, Mississippi State beat Ole Miss 21-20 in the Egg Bowl rivalry game; Rebels scored a TD with 0:04 left, but missed a longer PAT after the Ole Miss player who scored the TD got an excessive celebration penalty for miming a dog peeing in the end zone. Not good.

After the game, both teams fired their head coach; those firings ended up impacting the jobs of nearly 300 coaches or staffers throughout the country, in a remarkable chain reaction.

52 I-A schools lost or hired a coach or off-field staffer as a result of the post-Egg Bowl shakeups. I-AA, Division II, D-III, junior college, high school and even six NFL staffs were affected. 

Monday’s Den: Wrapping up an NFL Sunday

New England 20, Cardinals 17
— Cardinals tied game on an 80-yard drive, with 8:02 left.
— Arizona was stuffed on 1-yard line trying to score TD on last play of first half.
— Total yardage in game: Arizona 298, New England 179.
— Cardinals’ longest play of day was only 19 yards.

— New England won three of its last four games.
— Folk kicked a 55-yard FG at the gun for the win.
— Newton was 9-18/94 passing, ran for 46 more yards.
— New England trailed at halftime in seven of its last eight games.

Minnesota 28, Panthers 27
— Rookie LB Jeremy China scored defensive TD’s 0:10 apart in 3rd quarter, first time since 1948 a player scored two defensive TD’s in same game.
— Carolina lost six of its last seven games; they missed a 54-yard FG wide left on last play.
— Panthers’ last three road losses were by a combined six points.
— Carolina is 0-8 when they allow 23+ points, 4-0 when they allow 21 or fewer.

— Vikings won four of five games since their bye week.
— Minnesota trailed 21-10 after third quarter.
— Three drives in 4th quarter: Vikings ran 30 plays for 222 yards, scored 18 points.
— Beebe caught game-winning 10-yard TD pass with 0:46 left.

Browns 27, Jacksonville 25
— Browns scored 6-7-6 points in their losses, averaged 30.8 ppg in wins
— Cleveland is 1-6 ATS in its last seven games as a road favorite.
— Chubb ran for 144 yards and a TD; Mayfield threw for 258 yards.
— Right now, Browns would be #5 seed in AFC.

— Jacksonville scored TD with 2:14 left to make it 27-25, but failed on 2-point play.
— Glennon was 20-35/235 passing in his first start since 2017.
— Jaguars lost last ten games (3-7 ATS) overall.
— Total yardage: Browns 459, Jaguars 375

Titans 45, Indianapolis 26
— Tennessee had ball six times in first half, scored five TD’s, led 35-14.
— Henry ran for 178 yards, 6.6 yards/carry. 
— Over is 7-2-1 in Titans’ last ten games.
— Titans are 9-6 ATS in last 15 games as a road underdog.

— Colts are 6-0 when they score 28+ points. 1-4 when they do not.
— Indy lost field position by 16 yards, ran ball for only 56 yards.
— Tennessee won its third straight visit to Indianapolis.
— Six of their last seven games went over the total.

Atlanta 46, Raiders 3
— Falcons won four of last six games, after an 0-5 start.
— Atlanta wasn’t great on offense, kicking five FG’s, with only three TD’s.
— Falcon opponents converted only 22 of last 69 third down plays.

—Las Vegas turned ball over five times, had 11 penalties for 141 yards.
— Raiders are 2-4-1 ATS in last seven games as road favorites.
— Raiders went 3/out on 7 of their 13 drives.

NJ Giants 19, Cincinnati 17
— Giants won their last three games, sit atop NFC East.
— Six of Giants’ last seven games were decided by 3 or fewer points. 
— Under is 4-1-1 in their last six games.
— This was Giants’ first win in seven visits to Cincinnati.

— Cincinnati scored with 2:33 left for the backdoor cover.
— Wilson ran a kick back 103 yards for the Bengals’ first TD.
— Bengals lost last three games by a combined 75-34.
— Cincy is 4-0-1 ATS at home this year.

Buffalo 27, LA Chargers 17
— Chargers lost eight of their last ten games.
— Bolts are 1-5 SU on road, losing by 7-3-1-8-10 points.
— Chargers are 2-5-2 ATS in last nine games as a road underdog.
— In their last eight games, Chargers gave up 30.3 ppg.

— Buffalo won four of its last five games, scoring 28.6 ppg.
— Bills ran ball for 172 yards, averaging 5.7 yards/carry.
— Buffalo ran 58 plays, only nine of them on 3rd down.
— Bills maintain a one-game lead over Miami in AFC East.

Dolphins 20, NJ Jets 3
— Dolphins won/covered six of their last seven games.
— Miami allowed 17 or fewer points in five of seven wins; 21-31-31-20 in losses.
— Miami won four of six road games, losing 21-11 in Foxboro, 20-13 in Denver. 
— Fitzpatrick regained starting job, threw for 257 yards, two TD’s.

— Winless Jets are 3-8 ATS, losing home games by 8-9-20-8-3-17 points.
— Jets have been outscored 66-29 in 2nd half of their last six games. 
— Gang Green was outscored 44-3 in two games vs Miami this year.
— Jets in second half: 6 drives, 21 plays, 60 yards, no points. 

Saints 31, Denver 3
— Denver’s QB’s didn’t follow COVID protocol; the league sent Denver (and the rest of the NFL) a message and made them play a game with no quarterback.
— Practice squad WR Kendall Hinton played QB at Wake Forest for a while; they threw him to the wolves here- it didn’t go well.

— New Orleans won its last eight games, covered last four.
— Saints are 14-5 ATS in their last 19 games as a road favorite.

Not much else to say about this game, the league made it clear that teams need to follow the COVID rules.

49ers 23, LA Rams 20
— 49ers kicked 42-yard FG at the gun for the win.
— WR Samuel caught 11 passes for 133 yards, both career highs.
— 49ers are 14-10 ATS in last 24 games as a road underdog.
— SF won the last four games in this divisional rivalry.

— Rams turned ball over four times on their first eight drives.
— LA has outscored opponents 133-61 in second half of games.
— Seven of LA’s last eight games stayed under the total.
— Rookie RB Henry ran ball for 84 yards on only nine carries.

Chiefs 27, Tampa Bay 24
— Mahomes threw for 462 yards, three TD’s.
— Tyreek Hill had seven catches for 203 yards and two TD’s, just in first quarter
— Chiefs won their last six games, last three by total of nine points.
— Kansas City won all six road games this year.

— Tampa Bay is 7-0 when it scores 25+ points, 0-5 when it scores less.
— Last five games, Bucs were outscored 99-46 in first half.
— Tampa Bay split its six home games this season. 
— Brady threw for 345 yards, three TD’s in a losing cause.

Green Bay 41, Bears 25:
— Bears lost their last five games, after a 5-1 start.
— Chicago scored only 17.6 ppg in last five games.
— Bears are 9-16-1 ATS in last 26 games as road underdog.  
— NBC’s Tony Dungy accused Chicago of “giving up” late in 3rd quarter.

— Green Bay’s first three drives: 36 plays, 230 yards, 20 points.
— Packers are 9-5 ATS in last 14 games as a home favorite.
— Packers converted 6-11 third down plays.
— Green Bay won 18 of last 21 series games.

Richmond 76, Kentucky 64
— Veteran Spider squad forced 21 turnovers (+11).
— Richmond starts four seniors, Kentucky starts four freshmen.

Sunday’s Den: Wrapping up a sports Saturday

13) All three quarterbacks on the Denver Broncos’ roster are ineligible to play Sunday against the Saints after being deemed high-risk, close contacts in COVID-19 tracing.

Denver has a WR Kendall Hinton who played some QB at Wake Forest; he completed 53% of his passes for 1,504 yards passing, eight touchdowns, and seven interceptions. He would seem like a logical candidate to take over, or they could run a Wildcat-type offense with their RB’s.

Game has been taken off the board in several sportsbooks, but Circa Sports reposted with the Saints a 13-point favorite.

12) Oklahoma State 50, Texas Tech 44- Strangest ballgame I’ve seen in quite a while:
— Tech scored a TD with 7:15 left in 3rd quarter to go up 24-21
— Tech tried a surprise onside kick; Oklahoma State ran it back for a TD.
— On next series, Tech threw a pick-6, and now trailed 34-24.
— Series after that, Tech drove 75 yards for a TD. 34-31.
— Four TD’s in 4:43, with OSU’s offense never taking the field during that time.

Oklahoma State was -12; with about 1:30 left, Cowboys had a third down play in Tech territory, and their RB breaks into the clear for an easy TD, but he slides down on the 8-yard line, since Tech was out of time-outs. If you took the 12 points, good for you; if you gave 12, not so much.

11) Buffalo 70, Kent State 41:
— Buffalo RB Jaret Patterson ran ball 36 times for 409 yards, 8 TD’s. He ran for 301 yards and four TD’s last week.

10) Detroit Lions fired their coach and their GM Saturday; Lions were 13-29-1 under Matt Patricia, after the last coach went 36-28 and got fired. Very curious to see where they go next.

9) For at least the next three weeks, the San Francisco 49ers are a team without a home; Santa Clara County issued stricter COVID-19 guidelines this weekend, effectively putting a three-week ban on any contact sports taking place in the county.

During the next three weeks, 49ers have home games with Buffalo/Washington. They can’t even practice in Santa Clara County, so they’ll be pulling up stakes and moving elsewhere for at least a month or so. 

8) Indiana 27, Maryland 11— Hoosiers’ QB Michael Penix Jr left with a leg injury after suffering thru a bad day- 6-for-19 for 84 yards passing. Indiana is a surprising 5-1. 

7) College football upsets this week:
— Oregon State (+14) 41, Oregon 38
— Michigan State (+13.5) 29, Northwestern 20
— East Carolina (+12.5) 52, SMU 38
— Rutgers (+12) 37, Purdue 30
— Ball State (+10) 27, Toledo 24
— South Alabama (+7) 38, Arkansas State 31
— Utah State (+6) 42, New Mexico 27

6) Baylor 32, Kansas State 31
— Bears scored 10 points in final 4:32 to pull out win, kicking GW 30-yard FG at gun.
— K-State led 17-6 at halftime; loss drops them to 4-5. 

5) East Carolina 52, SMU 38:
— Imagine laying 12 points with SMU and being down 45-7 at halftime?
— East Carolina racked up 493 yards, improved its record to 3-6. 

4) Coastal Carolina-Louisiana will play in the Sun Belt title game Dec 19; Chanticleers routed Texas State 49-14, while the Ragin’ Cajuns waxed UL-Monroe 70-20.

3) Virginia Tech 81, Villanova 73 OT
— Really good game; Tech made 10-20 3’s to pull the upset.
— Villanova played all five starters 37:00+; only six guys played more than 4:00.

2) Saint Louis 85, LSU 81— This will be a significant score on Selection Sunday; Billikens have all five starters back from last year, are one of the best teams in the Atlantic 14.

1) It says on the Interweb that this coming Tuesday morning at 10:30am, Western Kentucky will play Charlotte in a football game, to be telecast on CBS Sports Network. 10:30am; why?

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

13) San Francisco 61, Virginia 60— Playing for third day in a row, Dons pulled a big upset, going 13-28 on the arc. Not often do you beat a top 10 team, 48 hours after losing to Mass-Lowell.

12) Illinois 77, Ohio U 75— Visiting Bobcats led by 8 with 13:47 left, but couldn’t hang on; they were 4-9 on foul line, Illinois 15-24.

Ohio was +9 in turnovers (16-7); they have kid Jason Preston who scored 31 points- only reason Ohio offered him a scholarship is because they saw a highlight reel he made himself and posted it on Twitter. He wasn’t even on the varsity at the prep school he went to in Florida.

11) UCLA 107, Pepperdine 98 3OT— Rough start to season for the Bruins, splitting pair with a couple of teams they would never normally schedule. Pepperdine led this game by 7 at the half; PG Ross scored 33 points, but Pepperdine was only 9-41 on the arc- they shot 62% inside arc.

UCLA played only seven guys; three of them played 51:00+. They’re missing two players right now; judging from this week, they must be two valuable guys.

10) West Virginia 70, Western Kentucky 64- Both teams were winners this week; West Virginia was down 9 in second half, rallied to win the tournament and improve to 3-0. Hilltoppers were not originally in this event; they gained lot of national respect and got a win over Memphis that will resonate on Selection Sunday.

WKU star Bassey got banged up, only played 19:00; if they keep him healthy all season, it is likely that the Hilltoppers will be in the NCAA’s.

9) Syracuse 85, Bryant 84— Syracuse kids hadn’t practiced in 10-12 days because of COVID; they were down 13 in second half of this game. Bryant put five guys in double figures but turned ball over 21 times (-7) and missed some open shots in last minute.

There were total of 72 3’s taken in this game, 74 2-point shots; playing in an empty dome, not the best shooting background, it is like playing outdoors. 

8) This week’s Ravens-Steelers game has been pushed back to Tuesday night; next week’s Cowboy-Raven game has been pushed back to Monday, December 7. 

7) NFL QB knowledge:
— Sam Darnold will start for the Jets this week.
— Mitch Trubisky will start for the Bears this week. 

6) Over the last six games, Ron Rivera’s Washington team has outscored opponents 90-26 in the second half of games- they lead the NFC East, albeit with a 4-7 record. 

5) Sign of the times: Baylor’s basketball team flew to Las Vegas Thursday, where they’re going to play two games, against Louisiana Saturday, Washington Sunday. The game with the Ragin’ Cajuns was put together Friday- the team flew to the desert not knowing who their first opponent would be. Baylor coach Scott Drew is still in self-isolation with COVID.  

4) Lot of football coaches are nomads; they wander all over the country, getting jobs in various places. Todd Bowles has been a highly successful coach (NFL coaches make good bank); he was even head coach of the Jets, but he has done his share of moving. Here is how Bowles spent his last 21 years:

2000— Jets, secondary coach
2001-04— Browns, secondary coach, nickel package
2005-07— Cowboys, secondary coach
2008-11— Dolphins, assistant head coach, secondary coach
2012— Eagles, secondary coach
2013-14— Cardinals, defensive coordinator
2015-18— Jets, head coach
2019-20— Buccaneers, defensive coordinator

3) Contrast that resume to Steve Alford’s resume as a basketball coach; there was a time when I would have wagered that Alford would be the coach at Indiana someday, since he was such a good player there. Doesn’t look like that will happen, but he’s also had an interesting career:

1991-95— Manchester
1995-99— Missouri State
1999-2007— Iowa
2007-13— New Mexico
2013-18— UCLA
2019-20— Nevada

2) Baseball’s postseason star Randy Arozarena was in some hot water in his native Mexico this past week, getting locked up after a fracas with his ex-wife and her father, which revolved around custody of their child; he is out of jail now and will not be charged.

If he keeps hitting during the season, Arozarena is going to be really rich in a couple years, but he needs to stay out of the headlines in the off-season. 

1) Villanova-Virginia Tech are playing Saturday at Mohegan Sun, a matchup cobbled together Thursday night/Friday. Thats part of what will make this season so much fun, things changing on the fly— the teams that handle the chaos the best will likely win the most. 

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

13) Roger Goodall must’ve had some indigestion with his turkey when he heard that Ravens’ QB Lamar Jackson tested positive for COVID.

If the Baltimore-Pittsburgh game gets postponed out of this week, it probably creates a Week 18 of the regular season, which would push the playoffs back a week and eliminate the extra week between conference title games and the Super Bowl.

12) Texans 41, Detroit 25
— Texans won three of their last four games, after a 1-6 start.
— JJ Watt had a pick-6 in the first quarter.
— Two of Houston’s four TD drives were shorter than 40 yards.

— Detroit lost four of last five games, giving up 32.6 ppg.
— Lions are 6-12 ATS in last 18 games as a home underdog, 0-3 TY.
— From 2014-17, Detroit was 36-28 under Jim Caldwell; he got fired.
— Last three years, Detroit is 13-29-1 under Matt Patricia; he still has a job.

11) Since Barry Sanders retired in 1999, Detroit has averaged 92.2 rushing yards/game, the lowest amount of any NFL team during that time.

10) Washington 41, Dallas 16
— Washington won three of its last four games, after a 1-5 start.
— Washington scored a defensive TD, had short TD drives for 19-23 yards.
— Washington is 3-2 inside the division, with losses by 1-3 points.
— Washington is 17-12-1 ATS in last 30 games as a road underdog. 

— Things unraveled for Dallas after an ill-fated fake punt failed badly.
— Cowboys lost five of their last six games.
— Last nine games, Dallas is minus-13 in turnovers.
— Cowboys are 2-9 ATS this year; their three wins by total of 7 points.
— Dallas lost four of its last six Thanksgiving games.

9) Western Kentucky 75, Memphis 69:
— WKU big man Charles Bassey had 21 points, 14 rebounds.
— Hilltoppers play West Virginia in the tournament final Friday. 

8) Gonzaga 102, Kansas 90:
— Game was tied with 16:35 left; Zags pulled away late.
— Gonzaga scored 1.24 points/possession, very efficient.
— Talent level for Kansas is down a little this season. 

7) Villanova 83, Arizona State 74
— Villanova was +16 on the boards in this game.
— Arizona State was 12-21 on foul line, after going 34-46 Wednesday. 

6) Virginia Cavaliers scored 89 points in their season opener Wednesday; they averaged 57 ppg last year, with a season-high of 78, in a win over Boston College. Tony Bennett added shooters, and Virginia looks poised for another excellent year.

5) ESPN’s Paul Biancardi was saying this week that this year’s freshman class in college hoop is one of the most talented in years. Something to keep an eye on this winter.

4) Strange/ominous scores from this week so far:
— USC 95, Cal Baptist 87 OT
— St Francis PA 80, Pittsburgh 70

3) When Sam Merrill got drafted by Milwaukee, it was the first time in 34 years the NBA had drafted a Utah State Aggie (Greg Grant).

2) After he passed away in 2015, former North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith sent each of his former players a $200 check for a night out on him- he had a lot of former players.

1) Belated congratulations to the NC Dinos, who won the Korean World Series in six games over the Doosan Bears. I enjoyed learning about the KBO this year, but the 5am first pitch for lot of their games was a bit much. 

Thursday’s Den: Happy Thanksgiving, everyone……

Originally I was going spend today naming names of people that I have a debt of gratitude towards for various reasons over the years, but then people would get left out and I’d feel like a jerk, so I bailed on that idea. Just want to say on this Thanksgiving Day, thank you so much to all my friends and readers out there. 

I will go out of my way to publicly thank my eye surgeons, Dr Mallick and Dr Lemanski, who fixed my right eye. Its great to be able to see well again!!!

Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving everyone……..

13) Georgia State 123, Georgia Tech 120, 4OT:
— This might wind up being the best game played all season.
— Visiting Panthers were up 7 at the half, led by 11 with 14:01 left.
— Tech was 41-59 on foul line, State 21-38.
— Tech was +12 on boards, but shot only 7-33 on arc.
— This is Georgia State’s first-ever win over an ACC team. 

12) Ravens-Steelers game scheduled for Thanksgiving night was moved to Sunday afternoon, because Baltimore has COVID issues. 

11) QB changes for NFL teams this weekend:
— Bengals will start backup QB Brandon Allen, his first 2020 start; he was 1-2 as a starter for Denver last season.
— Mike Glennon gets the start at QB for the Jaguars, his first NFL start since 2017; he is 6-16 as an NFL starter. Glennon is on his 5th different team the last five years. 

10) Glennon is also the answer to a good trivia question; when Russell Wilson bolted NC State after his junior season for Wisconsin because he wouldn’t give up playing minor league baseball, Mike Glennon became the starter for the Wolfpack.

Glennon started for the Wolfpack for two years; after a 7-5 regular season his senior year, the school fired coach Tom O’Brien, who was largely responsible for Wilson’s transfer the year before.

9) Drake 80, Kansas State 70:
— Bad loss for the Wildcats of the Big X; they put only two guys in double figures.
— Great win for the Missouri Valley; Drake won 20+ games the last two years, for the first time since 1970-71. Garrett Sturtz scored 15 points off the Bulldogs’ bench. 

8) Oklahoma State 75, Tex-Arlington 68:
— One of the most timeless recruiting scams: hiring a great recruit’s father/brother as an assistant coach. Kansas did it with Danny Manning in the 80’s, and now Oklahoma State has dome it, hiring Cade Cunningham’s brother as an assistant. Cowboys aren’t on probation this year, but Cunningham didn’t bolt- he’ll never play in an NCAA tournament game, since odds are he’ll be in the NBA Draft next June. And his brother will still have a job.
— Strong showing here by Tex-Arlington of the Sun Belt; game was 32-27 at the half. 

7) Upsets of the Day:
— St Francis PA (+15) 80, Pittsburgh 70
— Georgia State (+8) 123, Georgia Tech 120, 4OT
— Towson State (+8) 76, San Francisco 68
— Drake (+5.5) 80, Kansas State 70
— San Diego State (+3.5) 73, UCLA 58

6) Arizona State 94, Rhode Island 88:
— Bobby Hurley was a whiner when he played and he’s a whiner as a coach, but now, with no fans in the stands, refs can hear everything he says. He got a technical in this game.
— Lot of whistles in this game: ASU was 34-46 on the line, Rams were 21-35.
— Imagine whining the whole game, and your team shoots 46 free throws??? 

5) Memphis 73, Saint Mary’s 56:
— If Penny Hardaway stays in Memphis, he’ll get the Tigers to a Final Four.
— Not sure if Saint Mary’s is as good as usual- they were 1-18 on arc in this game. 

4) San Diego State 73, UCLA 58:
— UCLA was missing two of its top six players, but still……
— Aztecs were +5 in turnovers, put four players in double figures. 

3) NFL Films had a great show on FS1 Tuesday, “My first favorite player”; it had past, present players describing their first favorite NFL player, as well as celebrities’ favorite players, people like Jon Hamm, Marlee Matlin, Roger Staubach, Jon Gruden, Sean McVay. Very well done.

Picked up (at least) three good nuggets watching this show:
— Actor James VanDerBeek says that he was such a Brett Favre fan, that when he made the movie Varsity Blues, it was in his contract that his character had to wear #4, not #12, as originally planned.
— Hall of Fame safety Ronnie Lott says that wore #42 because he was a Redskins fan and his favorite player was Charley Taylor, the great receiver.
— Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said he wore #33 on the basketball court because his first favorite football player was Giants’ FB Mel Triplett. Kareem grew up in New York City.

2) Our thoughts/prayers go out to the family of Dallas Cowboys strength/conditioning coach Markus Paul, who passed away Wednesday at age 54. He collapsed at the Cowboys’ facility Tuesday morning. Very sad thing. RIP, sir.

1) March 12 seems like about five years ago, but that was when the conference tournaments were paused last spring, because of COVID. Was great to see college basketball again last night, even with empty gyms. Hope you enjoy the games today; have a great holiday. 

Wednesday’s Den: Lets get the college hoop season started

13) 11am Wednesday morning, East Tennessee State vs Abilene Christian kicks off this year’s college basketball season, live from Estero, FL. McNeese-Nebraska is the noon game on Big Ten Network- they have games on that channel all day/night.

Things are very fluid; games are being dropped from the schedule because of COVID, others are being added. It’ll be an unusual season, just like this whole year has been unusual, everywhere.

We’ll do our best to stay on top of things, but its a work in progress. Hopefully by the time the NCAA tournament rolls around, there will be a vaccine and things will be calming down some. Hopefully. 

12) 68-year old Rick Pitino is the new coach at Iona, which made six of the last eight NCAA tournaments, but was just 12-17, when their last coach was on the sidelines with health issues.

Iona had nine open scholarships when Pitino got to New Rochelle, so the Gaels won’t have a lot of experience, though their two returnees are senior guards, which helps. Iona has four big men who are all from other countries; Pitino is following the Gonzaga model; get quick guards, bring in quality transfers and get your big guys from other countries.

Iona will be an interesting team to follow. 

11) UConn is back in the Big East, after seven years in the AAC; Huskies never won an AAC title, but they did win the national championship in their first year in the AAC. Huskies were 19-12 under Danny Hurley last year, and they have four starters back, but they’re moving up in class. 

10) Speaking of the AAC, Wichita State fired Gregg Marshall after former players complained about Marshall’s coaching style, which they claimed was abusive. Six players transferred out of Wichita last season, which lit the fuse for his dismissal. 

Marshall was 331-121 in 13 years at Wichita and made a Final Four; not often a coach with a record like that is told to take a hike. 

9) Top six teams in America this season, according to KenPom.com:
— Gonzaga
— Duke
— Baylor
— Villanova
— Kansas
— Texas Tech

8) San Diego State poached grad transfer Terrell Gomez from Cal-Northridge to be its point guard; Aztecs lost three starters from LY’s 30-2 team that was probably going to be a 1-seed in the NCAA’s- eight of their 12 players this year are juniors/seniors. Thats a good thing. 

7) Cal-Oregon State is a late addition to Wednesday’s schedule; this will be a non-conference game between Pac-12 rivals. Both teams needed a game, so they hooked up on short notice. 

6) SEC will play an 18-game conference season, starting December 29-30. There will also be a set of games between SEC and Big X teams in there somewhere, too.

5) 7-foot-3 big man Matt Haarms left Purdue, then chose BYU over Kentucky as his next stop, which raised eyebrows. BYU is picked 2nd in the WCC by Blue Ribbon, and that’s because Gonzaga is picked #1 in the country. 

4) MAC is changing how its conference tournament works; only 8 of 12 teams will make it this year, which eliminates the on-campus first round games in Championship Week.

3) Big West has two new teams this year; UC San Diego and Cal-Bakersfield; Bellarmine is new to the Atlantic Sun and Division I. Tarleton State joins D-I and the WAC. 

2) South Dakota State is the heavy favorite in the Summit League, which is down to eight teams; Jackrabbits have all five starters back from LY, and also have three subs back who played 11+ minutes a game.

1) Memphis-Saint Mary’s in the 2:00 game on ESPN2, live from that basketball hotbed of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Excellent early season matchup. 

This should be a fun, interesting, odd season. Let’s get started.

Answer to yesterday’s trivia question: Cal Golden Bears have had five of their QB’s start a Super Bowl, more than any other college program:
Joe Kapp, Craig Morton, Vince Ferragamo (started at Cal, transferred to Nebraska), Aaron Rodgers, Jared Goff

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

13) We start today with an excellent trivia question, its too good for the daily question.

Which college football program has had the most quarterbacks start a Super Bowl?

I’ll post the answer tomorrow. The answer is a little surprising. 

12) As far as the start of college basketball goes, I’ll be posting whatever knowledge I have on the college hoop page, like we always do, but things are fluid in these crazy times, as in, matchups may be changing as teams back out of playing because of COVID issues.

December figures to be a little bizarre, until conference games begin. March Madness will be in one geographic area (Indianapolis, probably), to cap off what figures to be a unique season.

Tomorrow I’ll be posting some basic college basketball knowledge as the season begins. 

11) Drew Brees’ rib and lung injuries have turned out to be more serious than first thought; turns out he has 11 fractured ribs, so almost half his ribs are broken. Yikes. 

10) Speaking of the Saints, in their last three games, New Orleans has outscored opponents 31-6 in the second half. No second half TD’s allowed for three straight games; impressive. 

9) In their last two games, Indianapolis Colts outscored their opponents 41-3 in second half/OT, winning two games, when they didn’t lead either one at the half. 

8) Northwestern’s football team is ranked #11 this week, its highest ranking since 1996.

7) New York Knicks have four Kentucky alums on its roster right now, plus former Kentucky assistant coach Kenny Payne is on their coaching staff. 

6) Auburn’s basketball program gave itself a one-year ban from postseason play this year, as they try and soften the blow that will be coming from NCAA authorities. 

5) New Mexico Lobos basketball team has relocated to Texas, so they can begin their season; restrictions in New Mexico are prohibitive, so the Lobos and New Mexico State had to bolt to other states- the Aggies are hunkered down in a Phoenix hotel, roughly until Christmas. 

4) Charlotte Hornets are getting shredded for giving Gordon Hayward a 4-year, $120M contract; they’ll execute a sign-and-trade deal with Boston, so he fits under their salary cap.

Hayward will be 31 in March; he is a career 15.3 scorer, but scored 17.5 ppg with the Celtics LY- he is a 36.6% shooter on the arc, and shooting is at a premium now. 

3) There are rumors afoot than the Washington Nationals will trade for Nolan Arenado or Kris Bryant; Washington’s third basemen hit only .204 last year, with Anthony Rendon off to the Angels, so trading for a stellar third baseman makes sense. 

2) By the way, it is still annoying that DirecTV doesn’t carry the Pac-12 Network; for the $$$ I pay every month, they should have Pac-12 games on there.

1) This is usually one of my favorite weeks of the year; tons of college basketball, pro and college football, Thanksgiving Day is usually a fun day, just a good week, with lot of food and sports. . 

There will still be games this week, but for this year, it needs to be quieter, so everyone is safer. Please be careful, lets make sure that we’re all around to enjoy Thanksgiving, 2021.

Monday’s Den: Wrapping up an NFL Sunday

Indianapolis 34, Packers 31 OT
— Green Bay in first half: 31 plays, 251 yards, 28 points.
— Packers in 2nd half/OT: 27 plays, 146 yards, 3 points.
— Packers were outscored in second half in each of their last seven games.
— Green Bay converted 57-119 third down plays (47.9%)
— In his career, Aaron Rodgers is 2-8-1 SU in overtime games.

— Last two games, Colts outscored foes 41-3 in 2nd half/OT.
— Colts are 6-0 when they score 28+ points. 1-3 when they do not.
— Indy won four of its five home games.
— Colts were called for nine holding penalties in this game.
— Indy is 12-7-1 ATS in last 20 games as a home favorite, 3-1 TY.
— Five of their last six games went over the total.

Cowboys 31, Minnesota 28
— Cowboys won field position by 14 yards; only one of their 4 TD drives was longer than 61 yards.
— Dallas ran ball for 180 yards; Elliott had 103 of those.
— Dallas is 3-8 ATS this year; their three wins are by a total of 7 points.
— Cowboys get their first road win in five tries.

— Vikings were down 16-7 at half, took 28-24 lead with 9:37 left to play.
— Dallas drove 61 yards to score game-winning TD with 1:37 left.
— Vikings allowed 27+ points in all six of their losses; they allowed 23-22-20-13 in wins.
— Minnesota ran ball for only 125 yards, threw for 314; they had been running ball much better of late.

Tennessee 30, Ravens 24 OT
— Henry ran ball for 133 yards, including a 29-yard walk-off TD in OT
— Tennessee outgained the Ravens 423-306.
— Titans won four of their last five visits to Baltimore.
— Tennessee’s last four drives: 36 plays, 297 yards, two TD’s, two FG’s.

— Ravens led 14-10 at half, kicked 29-yard FG with 0:15 left to force OT.
— Baltimore lost three of last four games, after a 5-1 start. 
— Ravens allowed 17 or fewer points in five of six wins, 34-28-23-30 in losses.
— Ravens are 7-14 ATS in last 21 games as a home favorite, 2-3 TY.

Cleveland 22, Eagles 17
— Philly fumbled ball away on Browns’ 5-yard line on their first drive.
— Eagles converted only 2-12 third down plays.
— Philly is 1-5-1 SU outside their division.
— Eagles are 3-0 if they allow 21 or fewer points, 0-6-1 if they allow more than 21.

— Chubb ran for 114 yards on a rainy day by Lake Erie.
— Browns led 7-0 at the half; only score was a defensive TD.
— Cleveland won five of their six home games.
— Under is 4-1 in their last five games.

New Orleans 24, Falcons 9
— Falcons lost five of last six series games.
— Atlanta was outgained 378-248; Falcons ran ball for only 52 yards. 
— Five of Falcons’ last seven games stayed under the total.
— Atlanta kicked FG’s on 3 of first 5 drives, didn’t score again.

— Saints ran for 168 yards, averaged 8.1 yards/pass attempt.
— QB Hill threw for 233 yards, ran for 51 more in his first NFL start.
— New Orleans won its last seven games, last three by 35-14-15 points.
— Last three games, Saints allowed 25 points (1 TD on 32 drives).

Carolina 20, Lions 0
— Detroit lost its last three games, giving up 31.7 ppg.
— Lions were outgained 374-185, ran ball 17 times for only 40 times.
— Detroit was outrushed 601-303 in its last four games.
— Lions got inside the Carolina 40 on only one drive.

— Backup QB Walker was 24-34/258; he threw two INT’s in red zone.
— Carolina broke a 5-game losing skid with this win.
— Panthers held Detroit to only 3.8 yards/pass attempt.
— Carolina is 0-7 when they allow 23+ points, 4-0 when they allow 21 or fewer.

Houston 27, Patriots 20
— New England loses in Houston for 2nd year in a row.
— Patriots lost four of their five road games, with win 30-27 over Jets.
— New England trailed at halftime in six of its last seven games.
— Newton threw for 365 yards; Patriots only got to red zone twice (10 points)

— Texans scored three TD’s on five first half drives, gaining 239 yards.
— Houston is 3-1 when they score 27+ points, 0-6 when they do not.
— Teams combined for 693 passing yards, 141 rushing yards.
— Under is 5-2 in Houston’s last seven games. 

Steelers 27, Jacksonville 3
— Steelers won first ten games (8-2 ATS), scoring 29.8 ppg.
— Pittsburgh outgained Jaguars 383-206, picked off four passes.
— Pittsburgh is +12 in turnovers this season. 
— In their last six games, Steelers won field position by 9+ yards five times.

— Jacksonville drove 52 yards for FG on its first drive, never scored again.
— Jaguars lost their last nine games (3-6 ATS).
— Luton averaged threw four picks, averaged 3.4 yards/pass attempt.
— Jacksonville gave up 30.8 ppg in their last nine games.

Washington 20, Bengals 9
— Bengals were up 9-7 when rookie QB Burrow tore his ACL.
— Backup QB Finley was 3-10/30 yards passing.
— Bengals are 0-5-1 SU on the road, losing by 5-24-4-26-11 points.
— Cincy led at halftime in five of their last six games.

— NFC East standings:
3-6-1 Eagles
3-7 Dallas, New York, Washington
— Washington is 2-3 in last five games; losses were by 1-3-3 points.
— Under is 4-0-1 in last four Washington games.
— Alex Smith 17-25/166 passing; he gets his first win in two years, after shattering his leg and having 17 operations on it.

Denver 20, Miami 13
— Dolphins had their 5-game winning streak snapped.
— Miami replaced ineffective QB Tagovailoa with veteran Fitzpatrick in 4th quarter.
— Miami went 3/out on five of their first seven drives.
— Dolphins’ only TD was on a 22-yard drive after an INT.
— Dolphins were a road favorite for first time since Week 2 of 2017.

— Broncos outgained Miami 459-223; final score is misleading.
— Denver outrushed Miami 189-56; Gordon ran for 84 yards, two TD’s.
— Denver came up empty on two red zone drives in second half.
— Broncos are 10-5-1 ATS in last 15 games as a home underdog, 3-2 TY.
LA Chargers 34, Jets 28
— Jets were down 31-13 with 1:00 left in 3rd quarter, had ball with chance to tie in last 1:00.
— Winless Jets are 3-7 ATS, losing road games by 10-29-24-26-8 points.
— Jets are 1-4 ATS as a road underdog this year.
— Jets covered three of last four games overall.

— 2nd week in row, Chargers had a punt blocked on their first drive.
— Chargers’ first TD was scored by their defense.
— This was only 2nd win for Bolts in their last nine games.
— Last seven Charger games went over the total.
— Chargers are 4-11 ATS in last 15 games as a home favorite, 1-1 TY. 

Chiefs 35, Las Vegas 31
— Chiefs drove 75 yards in seven plays for the winning TD with 0:29 left.
— Kansas City had ball eight times in this game, scored five TD’s.
— Chiefs ran 73 plays, only nine of them on third down.
— Chiefs won their last five games, last two 33-31/35-31.
— Divisional home underdogs are 14-4 ATS in the NFL this year.

— Las Vegas covered five of their last six games overall.
— Las Vegas lost three of their five home games SU.
— Raiders converted 25 of their last 46 third down plays.
— Eight of ten Raider games went over the total.
— Raiders 2-11 SU in last 13 games against Kansas City. 

Sunday’s Den: Wrapping up a college football Saturday

13) Michigan 48, Rutgers 42 OT:
— Both teams missed field goals in first OT, scored TD’s in 2nd OT.
— Rutgers led this game 17-0 with 4:00 left before halftime.
— Scarlet Knights scored TD with 0:27 left, tied game with QB scramble for 2 points.
— Soph QB McNamara came off Michigan’s bench, was 27-36/260 passing, with four TD’s. 

12) Georgia 31, Mississippi State 24:
— USC Daniels threw for 401 yards, four TD’s in his first Georgia start.
— Miss State had only 49 scholarship players; a team has right not to play if they have fewer than 53 kids available, but MSU played, and played well.
— There were 737 passing yards in this game, only 30 rushing yards. 

11) Ohio State 42, Indiana 35:
— Buckeyes led 35-7 early in 3rd quarter, hung on for dear life.
— Hoosiers got within 42-35 with 10:26 left; there was no scoring after that.
— Indiana QB Penix threw for 491 yards, five TD’s in a losing cause.
— Rushing yardage: Ohio State 307, Indiana minus-1.

10) Texas State 47, Arkansas State 45:
— Bobcats scored on a 6-yard TD run with 0:34 left for the win.
— Ark State outscored Texas State, 654-505
— Bobcat QB McBride threw for 443 yards, five TD’s.
— ASU had two QB’s throw for 200+ yards each. 

9) NC State 15, Liberty 14:
— Liberty loses for first time in nine games.
— Wolfpack scored game-winning TD with 6:53 left.
— Flames had potential game-winning FG blocked with 1:08 left. 

8) Nevada 26, San Diego State 21:
— Nevada, Liberty, Coastal Carolina are a combined 21-1.
— Penn State, Florida State, Michigan are a combined 2-14. 

7) Upsets of the Day:
— Illinois (+14.5) 41, Nebraska 23
— Middle Tennessee (+11.5) 20, Troy State 17
— Northwestern (+7.5) 17, Wisconsin
— Pitt (+3.5) 47, Virginia Tech 14 

6) Northwestern 17, Wisconsin 7:
— Total yardage: 239-230, Northwestern. Yikes.
— 5-0 Wildcats are Big 14’s only unbeaten, other than Ohio State. 

5) Oregon State 31, California 27:
— Beavers scored winning TD with 4:30 left.
— OSU scored on a 75-yard on the first play of the game.
— Cal outgained OSU 439-360, converted 9-19 on 3rd down. 

4) LSU 27, Arkansas 24:
— LSU scored on a 13-yard pass with 3:59 left for the winning TD.
— Tigers converted 12-23 third down plays, Arkansas 0-10. 

3) Coastal Carolina 34, Appalachian State 23:
— Chanticleers scored two TD’s in last 2:24 for the win/unlikely cover
— Coastal scored on a 38-yard pick-6 with 1:20 left to cover the number.
— Penalties: App State 8-51 , Coastal 1-5

2) Oregon 38, UCLA 35:
— Both teams scored a defensive TD.
— UCLA outgained the Ducks, 462-422, with their backup QB playing.
— Bruins turned ball over four times (-3). 

  1. Cincinnati 36, Central Florida 33:
    — Bearcats remain unbeaten; can they make the playoff?
    — UCF led this game 14-3 after the first quarter.
    — Cincy outgained UCF, 482-359.
    — Knights converted 11-19 on third down.

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

13) I’m in favor of the NFL posting a new statistical category, penalty yards earned by QB’s and WR’s on pass interference/illegal contact calls. Its only fair. I wouldn’t combine those yards with yards gained on completed passes, but they should posted there somewhere. 

12) Clemson Tigers haven’t lost consecutive football games since November, 2011. 

11) NBA’s Raptors will play home games in Tampa this winter, because of travel restrictions the Canadian government has put in place because of the pandemic. Raptors will play home games at Amalie Arena, home of the Stanley Cup champ Tampa Bay Lightning. 

10) Western Kentucky will replace Creighton in the Bad Boy Mowers Crossover basketball event  in South Dakota next week. Bluejays have had COVID issues in and around the program.

9) Tulane’s 30-24 overtime loss in Tulsa Thursday night might very well go down as the worst gambling beat of the year, in any sport.

So far this season:
— Tulane led Navy 24-0 at halftime, lost 27-24.
— Tulane led Houston 24-7, lost 49-31
— Tulane lost 30-24 in OT, at Tulsa:
Tulane led 14-0 with 10:00 left to play; Tulsa tied the game.
Tulane went ahead 21-14 with 1:38 left; Tulsa tied the game on a 37-yard TD pass on the last play of regulation.
Tulsa then won the game on a 96-yard INT return in overtime, covering the 5-point spread.

Very bad beat if you took the points; a stroke of good luck if you gave them. 

8) Saints will start Taysom Hill at QB Sunday against Atlanta; remains to be seen how much New Orleans may or may not also play Jameis Winston, who is a better passer than Hill. 

7) Cardinal is a color, a darkish shade of red, so if I owned the Arizona Cardinals, why would my team ever wear black uniforms, the way they did in Seattle Thursday night? No bueno. 

6) Speaking of the Cardinals, how did they hoodwink the Houston Texans into giving them DeAndre Hopkins, without giving up a first round draft pick? Seriously? The guy who traded Hopkins to Arizona is the guy you want in your fantasy league, a sucker. 

5) Seahawks will find the mini-bye after their Thursday game useful; they’ve used three different centers the last three games. Continuity on the offensive line is kind of important. 

4) Over in Korea, Doosan Bears nipped the NC Dinos 7-6, taking a 2-1 lead in the Korean Series, in a game where the two starting pitchers lasted a total of 4.2 innings.

3) MLB posted the four Opening Day games for next April 1st:
Toronto-Bronx, LA-Colorado, Mets-Washington, Houston-Oakland. 

2) Thru three weeks of MAC-tion, home sides are 6-10-1 ATS, favorites 9-7-1. MAC teams are playing every Tuesday/Wednesday night this fall. 

1) Had CNN on Friday afternoon while I was surfing the Interweb; they went to a commercial and when they came back, the COVID death total was 380 people higher than it was before the commercial- that is alarming. Please wear a mask and be safe for the next few months. 

Friday’s Den: Random stuff on a chilly autumn day

Seattle 28, Cardinals 21
— First time in six games Arizona scored less than 30 points.
— Arizona ran the ball only 18 times for 57 yards.
— Redbirds had only two plays of 20+ yards.
— Arizona trailed at halftime in seven of its ten games.

— Seattle ran ball for 165 yards, threw for 182; good balance.
— Seattle is 4-1 ATS as a home favorite this year.
— Seahawks scored a safety with 9:12 left when they led 23-21.
— Both teams converted over 50% of their third down plays.

— 42 years ago Thursday (today as I type this), November 19, 1978, was the Miracle of the Meadowlands, when the Giants had the Eagles beaten at home, but instead of taking a knee, they tried a handoff, fumbled and Eagles DB Herm Edwards (yes, him) picked the ball up and scored the touchdown that propelled the Eagles into the playoffs that year.

The play changed the NFL forever, because everyone takes a knee now at the end of games, and they started doing it pretty much right after that day.

As a lifelong Rams fan, though, the game was significant to me for other reasons; Philly made the Super Bowl two years after that, but their coach quit after the ’82 season and became a TV commentator, and a good one, doing both pro/college games. 

In 1997, after 14 years on TV, Dick Vermeil became coach of the Rams, and won the Super Bowl in his third year with the then-St Louis Rams.

The Giants’ coach on that day in 1978 was John McVay, who went 14-23 in New Jersey but got fired after the ’78 season. You may have heard of his grandson; current Rams’ coach Sean McVay. 

— Back to the present; the Los Angeles Rams have won their last 31 games when they led at halftime, longest current streak in the NFL.

— Bad news from the Bay Area: Klay Thompson tore his right achilles, is done for this season. Thompson was just about done with a 17-month rehab from his left ACL being torn. He will be 31 years old in February; we wish him well in rehabbing this injury.

Warriors are trading for Kelly Oubre Jr., to try and fill part of the void left by Thompson’s injury. 

— This is very 2020; Tulane played its 10th football game, before Utah played any games. 

— LaMelo Ball got drafted 3rd Wednesday night, by the Hornets; hard to believe that its been over three years since I saw him play in an AAU game in Las Vegas. 

July 2017, I’m at the Cashman Center in downtown Vegas, where there are seven courts under one roof at an Adidas tournament. I’m taking notes for this site, oblivious to what may or may not happen, I just knew there were a whole lot of games going to be played.

There is a main court, where the game was broadcast on the Interweb and there was a big video screen up on the wall showing the action, so I hunkered down by that court, and then noticed that the 4th and last game of the night would be LaVar Ball’s team, with his youngest son on it. 

Didn’t think much about it at the time, but at the end of the first game, the bleachers were packed with kids, tons of kids. AAU games usually have some college coaches and a handful of friends/family, but there are like 1,000 people milling around, it was crazy. 

So it turns out that LaVar Ball’s team was playing a team from South Carolina, which had a really good player named Zion Williamson on it— you may have heard of him. I was sitting next to a college coach, asked him who he thought would win— he said Zion’s team by 30-40.

So LaMelo’s team presses the whole game, takes a ton of 3’s, while all Zion does on offense is be an outlet against the press- they’d lob the ball to him and he’d find an open teammate. The game was way closer than expected, ended like 110-95, something like that.

Saw the boxscore the next day; Ball’s team took 46 3-pointers, Zion’s team took one— one!!!!

No idea if LaMelo Ball will be a good pro; he can shoot/pass, no clue if he has any other basketball skills. His career has been extremely dysfunctional— he didn’t finish his high school career, never played in college, has already played pro ball in two countries.

Can he be part of a professional team? Can he deal with sitting on the bench? Will he work his butt off to improve his craft? I’m not saying he can’t/won’t, its just that no one knows yet, but being drafted by Michael Jordan’s team is a pretty hefty endorsement. 

— One of the weirder things that day was that Patrick Ewing was there, recruiting for his team at Georgetown. He is sitting right by this court, with hundreds of kids who love basketball buzzing around, and Ewing gets up and goes to the concession stand. Not one kid says a word to him— he is one of the 50 greatest players ever!!!

But hey, there’s Lonzo Ball over there, scrolling thru his iPhone. Kids know who he is. Ewing was probably glad no one bugged him, but it was strange. 

— Knicks created $40M in salary cap space Thursday, when they cut six players. 

— Random knowledge gained from watching too much TV: when Joe Buck was a much younger person, he was a Houston Oilers fan. He was talking about Colts’ coach Frank Reich and the great comeback Reich led against the Oilers in the playoffs, when he played for Buffalo. 

— Korean World Series is going on this week; five teams make their playoffs, but the #1 seed gets a bye straight to the World Series, so the NC Dinos had 16 days off before the series started. Not sure that’s a good thing. Dinos and Doosan Bears split the first two games of the series.

Tulsa 30, Tulane 24 OT:
— Tulsa ran an INT back 96 yards for the game-winning TD in OT.
— Game was scoreless at halftime; Tulane led 14-0 with 4:00 left in 3rd quarter.
— Tulane took a 21-14 lead with 1:38 left in game.
— Tulsa tied game on a 37-yard TD pass at the gun in regulation.
— Tulsa outgained Tulane 522-302, converted 10-21 third down plays.


Notes from the NBA Draft.

I accidentally deleted Tuesday/Wednesday’s articles; whoops. Too bad, they were beautifully written (kidding) so I’m doing a 2nd Thursday list, thoughts on last night’s NBA Draft. 

— Tyler Herro was really good for Miami Heat last year, but he was only the 13th player taken in last year’s draft. How hard will players work from this point on?

— Rece Davis hosted the telecast; he is, by far, the best host ESPN has. Davis is mostly a football guy, but he is like a great point guard— he sets up his teammates very well. Thats the job.

— Golden State’s Klay Thompson hurt his lower right leg in a pickup game Wednesday, he hurt his left leg last year. No word yet on the severity; he is getting an MRI Thursday morning, but from what people on TV are saying as I type this, it might be another severe injury.

— Minnesota took Georgia’s Anthony Edwards with the #1 pick; when a kid says “To be honest, I can’t watch basketball. I’m still not really into it. I love basketball, yeah, it’s what I do”, I wonder if he’ll love the gym enough to do the work to become great.

Being great doesn’t just happen; it takes hours and hours in gyms, working your butt off on skills, agility, strength. If you’re the #1 pick in a draft, the expectations are that you’ll become a great player. We’ll see what happens.

— From 2020-26, Oklahoma City has 26 draft picks, as they rebuild their roster.

— I feel old; Orlando took North Carolina PG Cole Anthony, whose dad Greg was the point guard on the great UNLV teams 30 years ago.

— Dallas Mavericks took Arizona’s Josh Green, who grew up in Australia until his family moved to Phoenix six years ago.

Green is tough; how do I know this? He was also an excellent Aussie Rules Football player, and you have to be really tough to play that sport— he was in the Sydney Swans developmental academy until the family moved.

— People wager on the NBA Draft, not a big surprise I guess, but the total of 4.5 freshmen being taken in the first 10 picks went over easily.

— 76ers coach Doc Rivers traded for his son-in-law, acquiring Seth Curry in a deal with Dallas.

— Knicks hit it big, in my opinion, getting Dayton’s Obi Toppin with the 8th pick.

— In the last three drafts, Villanova has had four kids taken in the first round of the draft, two others in the second round. Has to be good for recruiting.

— Florida State had two players taken in the first 11 picks Wednesday.

— Charlotte took LaMelo Ball with the third pick; mercifully, his father wasn’t interviewed. LaVar Ball once said he could take Michael Jordan 1-on-1; with his son now a Hornet, maybe they can have a game for charity.

— Sacramento took Kenyon Martin Jr in the 2nd round; the kid didn’t play college ball, so he is a developmental player with excellent bloodlines. Tremendous athlete, they say.

— Brooklyn Nets will be a fascinating team this winter, with rookie coach Steve Nash coaching a team filled with some talented players who also have very strong personalities.

— After listening to ESPN’s pundits rattle on for four hours, I’m disappointed to report that while I have decent wingspan, my motor isn’t good and I have very little upside. No bueno.

— Disappointed that, unlike the NFL Draft, we didn’t see any homes of coaches/GM’s. Picks went pretty quickly, they put on a good show, but would’ve been nice to see how fancy the homes are where some of these guys live.

— Kind of weird; usually right after the draft, the Summer League happens in Las Vegas, but this is 2020, so right after the draft, training camp will start, with regular season starting Dec 22.

Not lot of time for these kids to get acclimated to their new jobs. 

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

13) A medical expert posted this on Twitter Tuesday: 

“A Thanksgiving with your family on Zoom is better than Christmas/New Year’s in the ICU”

Over the next 3-4 months, self-discipline will save lives. Please be intelligent. Protect yourself and your family.

12) When I see what a big prospect Georgia’s James Edwards is, then I read this quote:

“To be honest, I can’t watch basketball,” Edwards told ESPN. ”I’m still not really into it. I love basketball, yeah, it’s what I do.”

That red flag couldn’t get any brighter; if he has a great career, more power to him, but I wouldn’t touch him with a 20-foot pole.

11) New Jersey Giants had an interesting day during their bye week; the head coach brought in a consultant to work with the offensive line, the current OL coach wasn’t happy about that, words were exchanged and the consultant replaced the OL coach, who was fired.

Jason Garrett brought the OL coach with him from Dallas when he was hired as the Giants’ offensive coordinator, so might be little awkward for him. 

10) If you’re interested in such things, Steelers are +750 to finish the season 16-0. 

9) NBA exhibition games start December 11, regular season starts December 22. 

8) San Francisco 49ers are 24-9 in last 33 games that Jimmy Garoppolo started, 5-23 in last 28 games he didn’t start. 

7) 38-year old Robinson Cano flunked another PED test, gets a year suspension from MLB— it also frees up $24M in salary for the Mets to use this year, but Cano is still owed $24M in both 2022-23. 

6) New Mexico State’s basketball team will relocate to Phoenix for at least the next five weeks;  they will hunker down at Arizona Grand Resort & Spa, where they’ll have access to a full basketball court in a ballroom along with an up-to-date weight room.

5) Big 14 Conference posted its basketball schedule, with four nationally televised games on Christmas Day:

Wisconsin at Michigan State
Iowa at Minnesota
Michigan at Nebraska
Maryland at Purdue

4) Jay Bilas was on ESPN Tuesday night, basically saying that because the NCAA Tournament is such big business, it has to be played this year— having it cancelled two years in a row would be catastrophic financially. 

3) Iona’s new coach Rick Pitino posted a suggestion that college basketball be moved back a couple months, with the NCAA Tournament in May (May Madness!!!) for one year only, but the idea doesn’t seem to be gaining much traction. 

2) Dodger OF Cody Bellinger hurt his shoulder while celebrating a homer he hit in Game 7 of the World Series; he had that shoulder operated on this week. 

1) Note on the NBA; last season, 77 undrafted players played 20+ games, so skill development is a huge thing, mistakes are made in evaluation and if guys work hard to improve their skills, they can still bank a lot of money, even if they aren’t drafted. 

Monday’s Den: Wrapping up a football Sunday……

Arizona 32, Buffalo 30
— Cardinals scored on a 43-yard Hail Mary with 0:02 left for the win.
— Buffalo scored on a 21-yard TD pass with 0:34 left to take a 30-26 lead.
— Arizona is one of three teams tied for first place in NFC West.
— Cardinals scored 30+ points in last five games, winning four of them.

— Hopkins had 7 catches for 107 yards, including the game-winner.
— Murray threw for 245 yards, ran for 61 more.
— Buffalo is 5-2-1 ATS in last eight games as a road underdog.
— Eight of their ten games went over the total.
— Spread was 2.5 or 3; Cardinals declined to kick the PAT after winning TD, since if it had been blocked and run back, game could’ve been tied.

Detroit 30, Washington 27
— Alex Smith has had 17 operations on his broken leg since he last started a game two years ago; he threw for 390 yards in this game. Tough guy.
— Detroit led 24-3 with 3:00 left in the third quarter, blew the lead.
— Washington’s last three losses are by total of 7 points.
— Washington’s last four drives: 45 plays, 300 yards, three TD’s and a FG.

— Lions’ K Prater drained a 59-yard FG at the gun for the walk-off win.
— Detroit is +6 in turnovers in its wins, minus-7 in its losses.
— Stafford threw for 276 yards, three TD’s.
— All four Detroit home games went over the total.

Cleveland 10, Houston 7

— Texans were stopped on downs on 2-yard line in the 2nd quarter.
— Houston’s only score came with 4:59 left; they never got ball back.
— Texans are 0-6 when they score less than 27 points.
— In Arizona, DeAndre Hopkins won a game for the Cardinals with a great catch. Think the Texans could use him?

— Cleveland is 6-3, despite scoring 10 or fewer points in four games.
— Browns outgained Houston 356-243, running ball for 231 yards.
— Both teams converted 50% of their 3rd down plays, odd in a 10-7 game.
— Cleveland is 2-6 ATS in its last eight post-bye games.

Green Bay 24, Jaguars 20
— Jaguars lost last eight games, are 2-5 ATS in last seven
— Jaguars’ first TD came on a 91-yard punt return.
— Jaguars’ second TD came on a 16-yard drive after a Green Bayfumble.
— Robinson ran for 109 yards, only Jaguar to carry the ball in this game.

— Packers drove 75 yards, scored game-winning TD with 9:03 left.
— Valdes-Scantling caught four balls for 149 yards, including a 78-yard TD.
— Green Bay’s first three drives: 10 plays, 47 yards, three punts.
— Five of last six Green Bay games stayed under the total.

NJ Giants 27, Philadelphia 17
— Eagles are 3-0 if they allow 21 or fewer points, 0-5-1 if they allow more than 21.
— Underdogs covered seven of nine Eagle games this season.
— Philly is 2-7 ATS in last nine post-bye games.
— Eagles are 7-10 ATS in last 17 games as a road favorite.

— Win ends Giants’ 7-game skid against the Eagles.
— Philly was 0-9 on third down conversions.
— Giants covered six of their last seven games overall.
— QB Jones had a 34-yard TD run; Giants scored TD’s on first two drives.

Tampa Bay 46, Carolina 23:
— Game was tied 17-all at halftime.
— Bucs lost a fumble on their 2nd play of the game; they had ball nine more times, and scored five TD’s, kicked four FG’s.
— Tampa Bay outgained Carolina 544-187, ran 77 plays, Carolina 47.
— Last week, Tampa ran ball five times the whole game, for 8 yards; Jones carried ball 23 times in this game, for 192 yards.

  Carolina lost its last five games, giving up 30.8 ppg.
— Panthers lost QB Bridgewater with a knee injury late in the game.
— Panthers are 1-4-1 ATS in last six games as a home underdog.
— Carolina is 0-7 when they allow 23+ points, 3-0 when they allow 21 or fewer.

Las Vegas 37, Broncos 12:
— Denver had ball 12 times, committed five turnovers (-5).
— Broncos gave up 26+ points in seven of their last eight games. 
— Broncos lost their last five visits to Oakland/LV, by 10-6-13-8-25 points.
— Home side won last eight series games.

— Raiders scored 31+ points in five of six wins; 20-23-20 in their losses.
— Las Vegas ran ball for 203 yards; Jacobs ran for 112.
— Raiders converted 19 of last 37 third down plays.
— Las Vegas covered all three of its games as a favorite TY.

Rams 23, Seahawks 16
— Seahawks drove 78 yards on their first drive, for their only TD all day.
— Seattle lost three of last four games, after a 5-0 start.
— Seahawks gained 5.1 yards/pass attempt, their worst mark of the year.
— Seattle, Arizona and the Rams are all 6-3, tied atop the NFC West.

— Rams won all four home games, giving up 17-9-10-16 points.
— Veteran LT Whitworth tore the MCL in his knee late in game.
— LA is 10-2-1 ATS in its last thirteen post-bye games.
— Rams won five of last six series games.

Pittsburgh 36, Bengals 10
— Bengals lost four of their last five games.
— Cincy lost its last five visits to Steel City, by 8-15-3-24-26 points.
— Bengals are 0-4-1 SU on the road, losing by 5-24-4-26 points.
— Bengals are 1-6 ATS in last seven post-bye games.

— Steelers won first nine games (7-2 ATS), scoring 30.1 ppg.
— Roethlisberger threw for 333 yards, four TD’s.
— Steelers are 4-1 ATS as home favorites this year, winning by 5-7-9-31-26.
— Pittsburgh has a 3-game lead over Ravens/Browns in AFC North.

New Orleans 27, 49ers 13:
— 49ers outgained New Orleans 281-237, but turned ball over four times (-2)
— 49ers allowed 16 or fewer points in their wins, 24+ points in their losses.
— SF ran ball 25 times for only 49 yards in this game.
— 49ers drove 75 yards for a TD on their first drive, their only TD all day.

 — New Orleans won its last six games, by 6-3-3-3-35 -14points.
— Brees hurt his ribs in this game, was replaced by Jameis Winston.
— New Orleans won four of five home games, winning by 11-3-3-14 points.
— Saints are 7-2, half-game ahead of Tampa Bay in NFC South.

Miami 29, LA Chargers 21
— Dolphins won/covered their last five games, scoring 31.6 ppg.
— Miami blocked a punt on Chargers’ first drive, got ball on 1-yard line.
— Dolphins are 7-1-1 ATS in last nine games as a home favorite.
— Miami is 6-3, in a 5-way tie for the two AFC Wild Card slots.

— Since Week 2 of last year, Chargers are 2-16 in games decided by 8 or fewer points.
— Bolts lost seven of last eight games, with five losses by 5 or fewer points.
— Last six Charger games went over the total.
— Last three games, LA was outscored 57-39 in the second half.

New England 23, Ravens 17
— Patriots ran for 173 yards on a rainy night in Foxboro.
— WR Meyers, a high school QB, threw a TD pass in 2nd quarter.
— Ravens lost five of their last six visits to Foxboro.
— Penalties: Ravens 8-64, Patriots 3-18

— Last 12+ years, Patriots are 5-0 ATS as a home underdog.
— This was first time in six games that New England led (13-10) at the half.
— Four of their last five home games stayed under the total.
— Ravens gained 25 yards on 13 plays in 4th quarter, when weather got a lot worse.

UCLA 34, California 10:
— Bruins outgained Cal 440-176 in this 9am local time kickoff.
— UCLA ran ball for 244 yards; Felton had 107 of those yards.
— Cal’s loss leaves Utah as the only I-A team that hasn’t played yet.