Thursday’s Den: Quick thoughts on the 2021 NFL schedule

I’ll have more on the NFL schedule over the next few days, but here are some early thoughts on the 2021 schedule:

— NFL teams will play 17 games this season for the first time; exhibition games have been reduced to three. AFC teams get the extra home game this season.

— Regular season ends January 9th, with games in Buffalo and Cleveland. Have fun!!!

— Jets traded QB Sam Darnold to Carolina this winter; the wise guys who create the schedule created an interesting Week 1 matchup, Jets @ Carolina. Go figure, a coincidence I’m sure.

— Christmas is on a Saturday, Halloween is a Sunday this year; there are two Christmas games. Browns-Packers, Colts-Cardinals. Which casino will I be watching those games in?

— This has nothing to do with football, but Halloween weekend in Las Vegas is tremendous, take my word on that.

— Cowboys-Buccaneers is the Week 1 Thursday game, where the defending champ traditionally opens the next season at home. Home team is 15-3 SU in this game the last 18 years, 11-3-4 against the spread.

— Don’t think the NFL foresees Aaron Rodgers being traded to Denver; Broncos have one game on in prime-time, Green Bay has five.

— NFL doesn’t think much of the Patriots; only three primetime games, one of which is Tom Brady’s return to Foxboro in Week 4.

— Thanksgiving Day slate:
Bears @ Detroit, Raiders @ Dallas, Bills @ New Orleans

— Non-schedule news; Green Bay signed backup QB Blake Bortles, re-uniting him with OC Nathaniel Hackett- they worked together in Jacksonville from 2015-18.

— Division rivals Carolina/Tampa Bay have their two meetings in weeks 16/18.

— I’m totally befuddled that Rams-Lions isn’t a primetime game. Detroit got one game on in primetime, at Green Bay in Week 2. Very surprised by this, seeing how the teams swapped quarterbacks this winter. ESPN obviously didn’t want the game.

Every team got at least one primetime game; eight teams got just one.

— Four teams have the earliest byes, Week 6— Falcons, Saints, Jets, 49ers.

— Four teams have the latest byes, Week 14— Colts, Dolphins, Patriots, Eagles.

— Nine teams got the maximum five primetime games.

— Cardinals/Chargers have three prime-time games, all at home, which is odd. Giants got three primetime games, all on the road— they can’t be real happy about that.

I’ll have some notes for each team’s schedule over the next week or so; season doesn’t start until September 9, so there is plenty of time. 

Monday’s Den: Thinking about no-hitters, and other stuff

There have been five no-hitters this season, which is a lot for May 10:

1) April 9: Joe Musgrove 3-0 @ Texas
— He threw 112 pitches, didn’t walk anyone, struck out 10.
— He got 15 whiffs on 53 swings
— Since then, he is 0-4, 5.63 in five starts.

2) April 14: Carlos Rodon 8-0 vs Cleveland
— He threw 114 pitches, didn’t walk anyone, struck out 7.
— He got 19 whiffs on 53 swings
— Since then, 3-0, 1.59 in three starts.

3) April 25: Madison Bumgarner 7-0 @ Atlanta
— This was a 7-inning game; he didn’t allow a hit, which makes it a “no-hitter”
— He threw 98 pitches, didn’t walk anyone, struck out 7.
— He got 10 whiffs on 53 swings
— Since then, he is 1-0, 1.64 in two starts.

To prove that I am fair-minded, I’m defending Bumgarner’s 7-inning no-hitter, even though his resurgence came 10 days after I cut him off my fantasy team. 🙁

4) May 5: John Means 6-0 @ Seattle. 

— He threw 113 pitches, didn’t walk anyone, struck out 12.
— He got 26 whiffs on 64 swings
— This was his most recent start.
— This was also his first career complete game. 

5) May 7: Wade Miley 3-0 @ Cleveland
— He threw 114 pitches, didn’t walk anyone, struck out 8.
— He got 9 whiffs on 49 swings
— This was his most recent start.

6) Four of the five no-hitters were thrown by lefties.

7) In two of the five no-hitters, Cleveland’s Zach Plesac was the losing pitcher. 

Elsewhere, away from the no-hitter related world……..
8) Cincinnati Reds are 15-16, even though they’re 8-2 in games where the winning run scored from the 7th inning on. 

9) Arizona Diamondbacks just had an 0-6 road trip, where they went 7-62 with runners in scoring position. Hitting in the clutch is important in baseball.

10) Since the DH came into the American League in 1973, the record for most home runs hit by a pitcher is 24, held by Carlos Zambrano, who was 132-91 as a big league pitcher, mostly for the Cubs. He had a .238 career batting average.

11) White Sox have won their last ten games at division rival Kansas City; maybe they should put fountains behind the outfield fence in their home stadium, the way they have them in Kansas City.

12) Was watching an old highlight clip of Willie Mays on the Giants game Sunday, forgot that they had artificial turf at Candlestick Park in the early 70’s, probably because the 49ers also played there. Not sure why they needed AstroTurf in good weather, but they had it. 

One year at Comiskey Park in Chicago, the infield was AstroTurf and the outfield was natural grass, which wasn’t that bad an idea, but it didn’t last long.

13) Umpire stats are returning to the baseball page this Wednesday; we note trends for each umpire when he is behind the plate, for all games except series openers, because we don’t know who the umpires are for each series until they play a game.