Sunday’s Den: Conference USA football knowledge

Alabama-Birmingham
— 6 starters back on offense, 8 on defense
— 74 starts back on offensive line; junior QB has 14 starts
— UAB coach Clark abruptly retired in June (has back issues)
— OC Bryant Vincent will be the interim head coach
— Since 2017, they’re 14-6-2 ATS as a home favorite.
— 13-8 ATS in last 21 games as an underdog.
— 2-2 in bowls last five years (3-1 ATS)

Charlotte
— 8 starters back on offense, 6 on defense
— 46 starts back on offensive line; senior QB has 35 starts
— Have one winning season out of nine as a I-A team
— Since 2019, they’re 4-2 ATS as a home dog, 4-8 as a road dog.
— Last year, they gave up 49 ppg in losing their last three games. 
— lost their only bowl game 31-9 in 2019. 

Florida Atlantic
— 8 starters back on offense, 6 on defense
— 125 starts back on offensive line; senior QB has 21 starts
— 10-11 SU in two years since Lane Kiffin left.
— In his career, Taggart is 37-25 ATS in road games.
— FAU is 4-1 SU in last five bowls (underdog in 3 of 5 games)
— Since 2015, FAU is 2-9 ATS as a home underdog. 

Florida International
— 5 starters back on offense, 5 on defense
— 25 starts back on offensive line; senior QB had 11 starts at Duke
— Should have 3 sophs, one freshman starting on OL
— New coach MacIntyre is 36-29 ATS in road games.
— FIU is 3-13-1 ATS last 17 games as an underdog.
— Last three years, they’re 2-16-1 ATS in conference games.
— Lost three of last four bowls; last one was in 2019

Louisiana Tech
— 6 starters back on offense, 8 on defense
— 85 starts back on offensive line
— went 8-14 last two years, after going 10-3 in 2019
— New coach Cumbie was an OC at TCU, Texas Tech
— have new QB’s; two of them played for Cumbie at TCU, Texas Tech
— Since 2017, Tech is 8-13 ATS as a home favorite.
— Last two years, they’re 2-8 ATS as a favorite.
— won four of last five bowls; were underdog in 4 of the 5. 

Middle Tennessee State
— 5 starters back on offense, 6 on defense
— 31 starts back on offensive line
— brought in five junior college linemen this year
— senior QB has 5 starts; soph QB also has 5 starts
— since 2016, they’re 26-9-1 ATS coming off a loss.
— Coach Stockstill is 21-13 ATS as a road favorite.
— 2-3 in bowls since 2015 (average total: 68.2)

North Texas
— 8 starters back on offense, 5 on defense
— 106 starts back on offensive line; junior QB has 12 starts
— Last two years, UNT is 5-2 ATS as a favorite.
— since 2017, they’re 9-14 ATS coming off a loss.
— under Littrell, they’re 19-29 ATS in C-USA games
— they’re 2-10 all-time in bowls (0-4 ATS last four)
— 0-5 SU/1-4 ATS last five bowls, allowing 44.6 ppg. 

Rice
— 7 starters back on offense, 7 on defense
— 92 starts back on offensive line; 3 backups QB’s from LY return
— Last four years, Owls are 11-31 SU
— Last four years, they’re 1-7 ATS as favorites, 18-15 as an underdog
— last three years, they’re 7-12 ATS coming off a loss
— won 3 of last 4 bowls, but their last bowl was in 2014. 

Texas- El Paso
— 7 starters back on offense, 8 on defense
— 94 starts back on offensive line; junior QB has 19 starts
— 7-6 LY, their second winning season in last 10 years
— Coach Dimel is 14-29 ATS as a favorite.
— Since 2004, Miners are 0-5 SU/1-4 ATS in bowls.
— Last year was their first bowl since 2014. 

Texas-San Antonio
— 8 starters back on offense, 5 on defense
— have 121 starts back on offensive line; senior QB has 28 starts.
— went 12-2 SU last season
— Under Traylor, UTSA is 8-2 ATS as an underdog.
— Since 2018, they’re 9-3 ATS coming off a loss.
— Last two seasons, Roadrunners are +20 in turnovers
— 0-3 SU/2-1 ATS in bowls; were underdog in all three.

Western Kentucky
— 4 starters back on offense, 7 on defense
— 39 starts back on offensive line; junior QB had 25 starts at a D2 school
— Under Helton, they’re 11-5 ATS as an underdog.
— Helton is their 6th head coach in last ten years.
— 15-8-1 ATS in last 24 conference games
— 3-2 SU in bowls the last six years

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

— As a lifelong A’s fan, I’ll tell you this; the trade deadline can be uplifting, when your team goes out and gets players to fortify the roster, or depressing/deflating, when teams give up and sell off their good players because they’re too cheap to pay them.

Next four days will be interesting; the trade deadline is 6pm Tuesday. Once a team starts making moves, then other contenders will try to keep pace.

— Cincinnati Reds traded P Luis Castillo to Seattle Friday night, for four minor league prospects, including two of Seattle’s three best minor league prospects. 

— Kansas City traded OF Andrew Benintendi to New York for three minor leaguers; Royals are in the Bronx this weekend, so Benintendi is playing against the guys he flew to New York with. He went 1-7 with a walk in his first two games for New York.

— Bronx 11, Kansas City 5— Royals led 5-3 in 8th inning, first time they’ve scored in their last four games, but their bullpen imploded, giving up eight runs. Kansas City is 3-8 in its last 11 games.

2017 Royals are still the last big league team to get shut out four games in a row.   

— Reds sent OF Tyler Naquin to the Mets, giving them another lefty bat off the bench, which means that Dom Smith will get traded before Wednesday. 

— Braves 5, Arizona 2— Atlanta is 19-10 in their last 29 games, but they’re 1-8 in last nine series finales, 18-2 in all the other games. Avoid the Braves on Sundays, I guess.

— A’s 7, White Sox 3:
Chicago is 21-27 at home; they were 53-28 at home last year.
Oakland is 13-8 in its last 21 games, but they’re probably going to trade 2-3 more guys before the deadline, which will put an end to this recent stretch of good play.    

— Mike Trout played in only 36 games last year; he’s played in only 79 games this year, and has no timetable to return to action with an unusual back injury. Something about his rib cage not connecting to his spinal column the right way.

They say the best ability is availability; will the Angels trade Shohei Ohtani to try and make their team better? Problem is, Ohtani is their best pitcher and they really need pitching. 

— San Diego Padres’ alternate uniforms are unusual; right sleeves are pink, left sleeves are mint green, the numbers are pink, names on back are yellow, batting helmets are mint green. They are very pastel-ish; they’re meant to replicate the colors of the Mexican flag. San Diego isn’t too far from the Mexican border.

Padres hammered Minnesota ace Joe Ryan Friday night, hitting five homers, scoring 10 runs in 4.2 IP. Not a good night for my fantasy squad. 

— Brewers 4, Red Sox 1— Milwaukee is 10-3 against the American League this year.

— Do pitchers have any input pregame, as far as how the defense will be positioned behind them? If not, how often do they get steamed when the shifts don’t work?

— Word of the Day: shenanigans— Silly or high-spirited behavior; mischief.

— Found a list I made with all-time NBA teams on it; people forget how great Wilt Chamberlain was, because he played 50+ years ago. 

Chamberlain had 55 points and 29 rebounds, in his 8th NBA game; he scored 100 points in a game. They busted his chops about not passing enough; the next year he led the leagues in assists. Seriously, he did (1967-68)

— Arizona Cardinals cut the studying clause out of Kyler Murray’s contract; they did what they wanted to do; they embarrassed Murray because they don’t think he does enough homework during the week at home. The clause was unenforceable anyway.

Now they have to hope the $46M a year they’re paying him will soothe any hurt feelings.

— Most consecutive games with at least one passing TD:
54— Drew Brees
52— Tom Brady
51— Peyton Manning
47— Johnny Unitas

— UCLA football coach Chip Kelly pointed out this week that UCLA/Rutgers are going to be in the same league, even though the two schools are located 2,765 miles apart.

This doesn’t sound like a financially sound plan, but that’s the way things are headed.

— Prop bets are interesting to look at; here are some over/under yardage prop bets:

— passing yardage:
Baker Mayfield 3,800.5 yards
Kyler Murray 3,939.5
Dak Prescott 4,249.5
Aaron Rodgers 3,950.5
Jameis Winston 3,750.5

— rushing yardage:
Antonio Gibson 824.5 yards
Derrick Henry 1,350.5
Josh Jacobs 749.5
Elijah Mitchell 900.5
Jonathan Taylor 1,350.5

— receiving yards:
Mark Andrews 950.5 yards
Ja’Marr Chase 1,199.5
Jerry Jeudy 905.5
Cooper Kupp 1,300.5
DK Metcalf 900.5

— Tua Tagovailoa prop bets:
INT’s— over/under 13
Passing yards: over/under 3,900.5
TD passes: over/under 24.5

— There are only four games in Week 1 of the NFL season where both teams have the same coach and QB that they had last year:
Bills-Rams
Eagles-Lions
Chiefs-Cardinals
Ravens-Jets

Friday’s Den: ACC football knowledge

Boston College
— 6 starters back on offense, 8 on defense
— 29 starts back on offensive line; junior QB has 16 starts
— Last six years, they’re 38-35 SU
— Since 2014, they’re 18-8-1 ATS as a road underdog.
— Last five years, they’re 27-14-1 ATS in ACC games.
— lost last two bowls; their last bowl win was in 2016. 

Clemson
— 9 starters back on offense, 6 on defense
— 75 starts back on offensive line; soph QB has 15 starts
— Lost both coordinators from LY; replaced from within.
— Last ten years, they’re 121-17 SU
— Since 2017, they’re 14-8-1 ATS as a road favorite.
— Since 2017, they’re 7-1 ATS as a road underdog.
— Last four years, they’re 4-2 SU in bowl/playoff games. 

Duke
— 6 starters back on offense, 5 on defense
— 124 starts back on offensive line; 4th year in row they’ll have new QB
— New coach was defensive coordinator at Texas A&M
— Last three years, they’re 10-19 SU, with minus-27 turnover ratio.
— Last two years, Rams are 4-12 ATS as an underdog.
— Won last three bowls, but last one was in 2018
— Average total in last five bowls: 77. 

Florida State
— 8 starters back on offense, 8 on defense
— 101 starts back on offensive line; junior QB has 13 starts
— Last four years, they’re 19-27 SU
— Since 2016, they’re 11-17 ATS as a home favorite.
— Last two years, they’re 3-9 ATS coming off a loss.
— 2-3 SU in last five bowls, with last bowl win in 2017

Georgia Tech
— 5 starters back on offense, 3 on defense
— 37 starts back on offensive line; soph QB has 16 starts
— Since 2016, Tech is 5-12 ATS as a home underdog.
— Since 2019, they’re 5-7 ATS as a road underdog.
— Collins is 15-19 ATS as an underdog, 4-11-1 as home favorite.
— Last bowl was in 2018; last bowl win 2016. 

Louisville
— 7 starters back on offense, 7 on defense
— 116 starts back on offensive line; senior QB has 38 starts
— since 2017, they’re 3-7-1 ATS as a home favorite.
— were +2 in turnovers LY (from 2018-20, were minus-25)
— Over last decade, they’re 29-42-1 ATS coming off a win.
— Lost three of last four bowls (average total on last three: 61)

Miami
— 7 starters back on offense, 7 on defense
— 137 starts back on offensive line; soph QB started 9 games
— Cristobal is 13-22-1 ATS as a home favorite.
— since 2016, Miami is 1-7 ATS on neutral fields.
— Since 2019, they’re 5-1 ATS as an underdog.
— Since 2012, they’re 7-3 ATS as a home underdog.
— 0-4 SU/ATS last four bowls, allowing 30 ppg. 

North Carolina
— 5 starters back on offense, 8 on defense
— 104 starts back on offensive line; new QB 
— Lost last nine times they scored less than 34 points.
— Last two years, they’re 8-4 ATS as home favorites, 1-5 as road favorites.
— lost four of last five bowls, giving up 33.2 ppg; they were favored in 3 of 5 games.
— average total in last three bowls: 65.0

NC State
— 7 starters back on offense, 10 on defense
— 95 starts back on offensive line; junior QB has 20 starts
— 17-7 SU last two years
— Under Doeren, they’re 14-24 ATS as a favorite.
— Last six years, they’re 6-9 ATS as a road favorite.
— Last five years, they’re 3-8-1 ATS as a road dog.
— Last bowl win was in 2017- their bowl LY was cancelled. 

Pittsburgh
— 8 starters back on offense, 7 on defense
— have 145 starts back on offensive line.
— junior QB started 26 games at USC; his OC in high school was Kurt Warner.
— Since 2019, they’re 8-1 ATS as a road favorite.
— Since 2015, they’re 27-11 ATS on the road.
— Since 2015, they’re 22-15 ATS as an underdog.
— 1-4 SU/ATS in last five bowl games.

Syracuse
— 9 starters back on offense, 8 on defense
— 120 starts back on offensive line; junior QB has 13 starts
— 10-4 ATS in last 14 games as a favorite.
— since 2016, they’re 15-11 ATS as an underdog.
— were minus-6 in turnovers LY (+25 from 2018-20)
— won their last four bowls SU (were favored in only one of the four)

Virginia
— 4 starters back on offense, 6 on defense
— 22 starts back on offensive line; brought in OL from Harvard/Georgetown
— junior QB has started 20 games.
— covered 8 of last 11 games as a home favorite.
— Last four years, they’re 12-7 ATS as an underdog.
— Last two years, they’re 8-3 ATS coming off a win.
— 10-5 ATS in last 15 non-conference games.
— lost three of last four bowls; their last bowl win was 2018.

Virginia Tech
— 4 starters back on offense, 7 on defense
— 62 starts back on offensive line; soph QB started 23 games at Marshall
— Last four years, they’re 25-25 SU, which is why there is a new coach.
— Since 2016, Hokies are 5-13 ATS as a road favorite.
— Last two years, they’re 1-9 ATS coming off a win.
— lost last four bowls SU, giving up 39 ppg (lost 54-10 in bowl LY)

Wake Forest
— 7 starters back on offense, 6 on defense
— 104 starts back on offensive line; junior QB has 33 starts
— 23-13 SU last three years (+27 turnover ratio)
— under Clawson, Deacons are 18-13 ATS as a road underdog.
— since 2015, they’re 4-7 ATS as a road favorite.
— played in a bowl the last six years, unusual for Wake. 

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

— NFL preseason games start a week from tonight; here are stats from how many passes some starting QB’s threw in last summer’s exhibition games:

Zero passes: Carr, Herbert, Prescott, Rodgers, Ryan, Stafford, Tannehill, Wentz, Wilson
1— Joe Burrow
4— Kyler Murray, Lamar Jackson
9— Jared Goff
10— Baker Mayfield, Ben Roethlisberger
14— Kirk Cousins
16— Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo
22— Daniel Jones
26— Josh Allen
29— Patrick Mahomes
34— Tua Tagliavoa

— How is former Green Bay/Seattle coach Mike Holmgren not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame?

Holmgren was 161-111 in regular season games, 13-11 in playoff games; won three NFC titles, one Super Bowl and also won two Super Bowl rings as an assistant coach with San Francisco.

This seems like a pretty big oversight.

— Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed WR Julio Jones, who is 33 years old and has played in only 19 of 33 games the last two seasons. He’s led the league in receiving yards/game five times.

Jones played for the Falcons for 10 years; Atlanta-Tampa Bay tilts just got a little more interesting. 

— Falcons named Marcus Mariota their starting QB after the first day of camp; rookie Desmond Ridder will be the backup. Mariota is 30-33 as an NFL starter, but his last start was in 2019. He was Derek Carr’s backup in Las Vegas the last couple years.

— San Francisco named Trey Lance their starting QB; they become the ninth NFL team with a new starting QB this season. Lance started twice last year (1-1); the year before, his North Dakota State played only one game because of the pandemic. He needs experience.

— Of the 53 guys who were on the Chicago Bears’ roster on Week 1 last year, only 23 are still with the Bears, fewest of any NFL team. Eagles/Lions still have 43 guys from Week 1 last year, tied for most in the league. 

— There have been only four players in the Super Bowl era who led the NFL in touches in their rookie season:
1983— Eric Dickerson, Hall of Famer
1999— Edgerrin James, Hall of Famer
2001— LaDanian Tomlinson, Hall of Famer
2021— Najee Harris

— Saw this headline on the Interweb today: “US offers deal to Russia for Brittney Griner”; for a split second, it crossed my mind that Joe Biden and Putin were in the same WNBA fantasy league. Apparently they’re not.

US is offering to trade Viktor Bout, a convicted Russian arms trafficker, as part of a potential deal with Russia to release Griner and corporate security director Paul Whelan.

I didn’t realize stuff like this happened; countries trading prisoners, sounds like it would’ve made a good episode of The West Wing. 

— Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Kaat won 16 Gold Gloves during his great career; someone asked him last week what he did with all of them.

Turns out Kaat sold most of the Gold Gloves, to help fund the Bob Allison Ataxia Research Center of the University of Minnesota, in honor of his former teammate with the Twins.

— Since start of last season, Seattle Mariners are 56-31 in one-run games; 33-19 last year, 23-12 so far this year.

— Mark McGwire’s son Mason was picked in the 8th round of the draft by the Cubs last week; he banks a $200,000 signing bonus.

Apparently three years ago, when Mark McGwire was inducted into the Oakland A’s Hall of Fame, Mason McGwire met Rollie Fingers, and the Hall of Fame reliever showed the kid how he threw his splitter. It must be working.

— Minnesota Twins lead the AL Central with a 52-46 record, but they’re only 8-18 in games where the winning run scores from the 7th inning on. Will Minnesota trade for relief help at the trading deadline next week?

— Toronto Blue Jays are 10-0 when Jose Berrios starts at home (5-4 on road)

Texas Rangers are 0-10 on the road when Dane Dunning starts (4-5 at home).

— Rockies-Royals-Nationals are only three teams without a grand slam this season; Rockies had 11 of them last year.

— Luis Castillo is the first Cincinnati starting pitcher to pitch in 2+ All-Star games since Mario Soto did it, in 1982, 1984. 

— Bengals’ QB Joe Burrow had an appendectomy this week; if I remember right, it’ll be 3-4 weeks before he is allowed to have any physical contact. Doubtful he plays in any of the Bengals’ three exhibition games- their season opener is September 11, 45 days from now. 

In case you were wondering, Brandon Allen/Jake Browning are Cincinnati’s backup QB’s. 

— Long time ago, summer of 1993, I had an emergency appendectomy in the middle of the night; they said it had become gangrenous, which sounded bad (I had no idea what it meant until the next week). Luckily I lived across the street from a hospital and it got taken care of.

After my surgery, they wheel me into a room; I can’t see for squat without my glasses, but it looked like there was a picture of a clown on the wall. 

I ask the nurse about the clown’s picture: “We don’t have much room; we put you in the pediatric ward” That was a fun few days. 

— Speaking of which, read a story this week about a guy who took his 8-year old daughter to “Take Your Kid to Work Day”

Father/daughter walk into the office and a few minutes later, the daughter starts to cry.

The father asks what’s wrong, some of the people in the office gathered around her; she looks at her father and asks: “Daddy, where are all the clowns you said you worked with?”

Wednesday’s Den: Mountain West football knowledge……

Air Force
— 8 starters back on offense, 7 on defense
— 44 starts back on offensive line; senior QB has 18 starts
— Last three years, they’re 24-8 SU.
— Under Calhoun, they’re 35-26-2 ATS as an underdog.
— Since 2015, Air Force is 12-4-1 ATS as a road underdog.
— won four of last five bowls, scoring 36.2 ppg.

Boise State
— 8 starters back on offense, 9 on defense
— 86 starts back on offensive line; junior QB has 25 starts
— 7-5 SU last year, after going 88-26 the previous nine years.
— Since 2012, they’re 28-16 ATS as a road favorite.
— Since 2017, they’re 7-1 ATS as a road underdog.
— Last two years, they’re 3-8 ATS coming off a win.

Colorado State
— 6 starters back on offense, 6 on defense
— 70 starts back on offensive line; they’ll have a new QB this year
— Last four years, they’re 16-29 SU.
— Last five years, Rams are 4-9 ATS as a home favorite.
— Lost last four bowls; were favored in three of them.
— New head coach comes from MW rival Nevada.

Fresno State
— 8 starters back on offense, 7 on defense
— 80 starts back on offensive line; senior QB has 19 starts
— Jeff Tedford returns as coach (Aaron Rodgers’ college coach)
— Last five years, they’re 7-2 ATS as a road underdog.
— Last five years, they’re 13-5-1 ATS out of conference.
— won last three bowls, scoring 31.7 ppg.

Hawai’i
— 4 starters back on offense, 2 on defense
— 110 starts back on offensive line; unsure who QB is
— Since 2014, Hawai’i is 6-22-1 ATS as a home favorite.
— Last five years, they’re 7-14 ATS as a road underdog.
— won three of last four bowls (underdogs 4-0 SU)
— New coach is Hawai’i alum Chang, a former Rainbow QB

Nevada
— 2 starters back on offense, 4 on defense
— 44 starts back on offensive line; soph QB had 3 starts at Oklahoma State
— 30-18 SU last four years- their coach bolted to a conference rival
— were +16 in turnovers LY, but were only 8-5.
— Since 2013, they’re 11-7 as a home underdog.
— Nevada covered five of last seven games as a home favorite.
— 45 players from last year have departed. 

UNLV
— 6 starters back on offense, 6 on defense
— 69 starts back on offensive line; QB started 3 games at Tennessee
— Last nine years, Rebels are 24-67 SU
— Since 2012, they’re 11-19 ATS as a favorite.
— Since 2012, they’re 32-18 ATS as a road underdog.
— Last bowl was in 2013; last bowl win was in 2000.

New Mexico
— 5 starters back on offense, 7 on defense
— 22 starts back on offensive line; unsure who QB will be
— Last five years, they’re 13-42 SU
— Since 2017, Lobos are 0-11 ATS as a home favorite.
— Since 2017, Lobos are 15-39 ATS overall
— underdogs covered four of last five bowls (last one was in 2016)

San Diego State
— 5 starters back on offense, 7 on defense
— 36 starts back on offensive line; senior QB had 16 starts at Virginia Tech
— won 10+ games five of last seven seasons
— Last five years, they’re 8-16 ATS as a home favorite, 5-2 as a home dog.
— Last four years, they’re 6-2-1 ATS as a road underdog.
— In his career, Hoke is 46-35-1 ATS at home.
— Aztecs start playing in brand-new Snap Dragon Stadium this year.

San Jose State
— 6 starters back on offense, 8 on defense
— have 59 starts back on offensive line.
— one junior QB started 23 games at Hawai’i; other junior QB started six games here LY
— Under Brennan, Spartans are 15-9-1 ATS at home.
— finished under .500 seven of last eight years.
— won four of last five bowl games.

Utah State
— 7 starters back on offense, 5 on defense
— 102 starts back on offensive line; senior QB has 29 starts
— 15-4-1 ATS in last 20 games as a home favorite.
— 3-11 ATS in last 14 games as a home underdog.
— In his career, Anderson is 38-25 ATS in conference games.
— underdog won four of their last five bowls SU

Wyoming
— 4 starters back on offense, 4 on defense
— 66 starts back on offensive line; new QB started twice at Utah State
— Last four years, they’re 5-8 ATS as a road underdog.
— covered seven of last ten non-conference games.
— covered last four games on a neutral field.
— won last three bowls, scoring 42.3 ppg. 

Tuesday’s Den: Nobody asked me, but……

— Over the last 20 years, 58 NFL teams lost at home in their first playoff game that year; teams work hard for five months to get home-field advantage in a playoff game. Does losing like that leave a team with a hangover the next season?

Of those 58 teams, 26 of them (44.8%) missed the playoffs the next season. 

Of the 32 teams that returned to the playoffs; they went 20-12 in their first playoff game the next season, 8-12 in their second.

Three teams won the Super Bowl the year after losing their first playoff game at home:

2006— Colts
2008— Steelers
2015— Broncos

Two of those three teams had Peyton Manning as their quarterback. 

— From 2002-16, Kansas City lost their first playoff game at home five times; they missed the playoffs the next season three of those five years, went 1-2 in their playoff games those seasons. Chiefs lost a home playoff game three years in a row before breaking thru and winning a Super Bowl three years ago. 

— Who lost at home last year, in their first playoff game?
Dallas
Green Bay
Tennessee (did it the last two years), which could explain why they drafted QB Malik Willis. 

Elsewhere……..
— NFL preseason games start soon:
Cleveland Browns are 11-5 ATS in their last 16 exhibition games.
Cincinnati Bengals are 2-5 ATS in their last seven.

— Arizona Cardinals are paying QB Kyler Murray $46M a year; they put a unique thing in his new contract, saying he needs to study more away from the field.

Murray’s new deal contains an addendum that requires four hours of “independent study” during every game week in the season. The clause requires that Murray look over material he receives from the Cardinals outside of regularly scheduled meetings to help him prepare for games.

Was reading a lot on the Interweb, as to whether this is at all normal, and people who have worked in NFL front offices say that it is not. There is something in there about his not playing video games or surfing the web while he watches game film. 

Oy.

— USFL alumnus QB Kyle Sloter (New Orleans Breakers) signed on with Jacksonville Jaguars; QB Luis Perez (New Jersey Generals) signed on with the Rams— he was also in camp with the Rams four years ago. Since then, he played in the AAF, XFL and USFL. 

— A’s 7, Houston 5— Astros are now 37-3 when they score 5+ runs.  

— Boston Red Sox are 12-29 against their AL East rivals, 37-19 against everyone else.  

— St Louis Cardinals visit Toronto this week; stars Paul Goldschmidt/Nolan Arenado won’t be there, since they’re both unvaccinated. 

— Baltimore Orioles are 10-3 at home in games where the winning run scores from the 7th inning on. 

— Alex Rodriguez was in Cooperstown over the weekend for the Hall of Fame ceremonies; it was the first time Rodriguez has ever been to the Hall of Fame. Will be interesting to see if ARod ever gets inducted himself. Personally, I’d vote for him, but I don’t have a vote. 

— This November, the PK85 takes place in Oregon, honoring Nike’s Phil Knight. Here are the first round pairings for the two, 8-team events:

Duke-Oregon State
Florida-Xavier
Purdue-West Virginia
Gonzaga-Portland State

North Carolina-Portland
Villanova-Iowa State
Oregon-UConn
Michigan State-Alabama

— If you like high school basketball, Tuesday night ESPNU has four games in a row, starting at 5:00 from Las Vegas. Two 16U games, two 17U games; Lebron James’ son is expected to play in one of the games. 

— If the baseball playoffs started today (they do not):
NL: Mets, Brewers, Dodgers Wild Cards: Atlanta-San Diego-St Louis
AL: New York, Twins, Astros Wild Cards: Toronto-Tampa Bay-Seattle

— RIP to the great actor Paul Sorvino, who passed away at age 83; I remember him from Law & Order, The Cooler, Bulworth, The Firm. He was in 31 episodes of Law & Order, playing a police sergeant. What an excellent career he had. RIP, sir. 

Monday’s Den: AAC college football knowledge……..

Central Florida
— 9 starters back on offense; 8 on defense
— 132 starts back on OL
— soph QB has 10 starts; junior QB started nine games at Ole Miss
— Last two years, Knights are 2-7 ATS as a home favorite.
— Malzahn is 9-5 as a home underdog, 8-13 as a road dog.
— Last three years, UCF is 2-8 ATS coming off a loss.
— 3-2 in last five bowls (underdog in 4 of 5 games)

Cincinnati
— 8 starters back on offense; 5 on defense
— 107 starts back on OL
— junior QB started 11 games at Eastern Michigan LY; he was backup here in ’19/’20.
— Last four years, Bearcats are 49-7 SU
— Last four years, they’re 16-8-1 ATS as a home favorite.
— Fickell is 14-6 ATS as an underdog
— Last four years, Cincy is 12-6 ATS out of conference.

East Carolina
— 7 starters back on offense; 8 on defense
— 63 starts back on OL; senior QB has 37 starts
— Under coach Houston, ECU is 9-3 ATS as a road underdog.
— Since 2013, Pirates are 4-11 ATS as a road underdog.
— Last year was their first winning season since 2014; their bowl was cancelled.
— ECU lost three of last four bowls; their last bowl win was 2013.

Houston
— 7 starters back on offense; 6 on defense
— 65 starts back on OL; senior QB has 31 starts
— Last five years, they’re 12-7 ATS as a home favorite.
— Last six years, they’re 9-13 ATS as a road favorite.
— Holgorseb is 5-11-1 as a home underdog, 15-11 as a road dog.
— Cougars scored 17 or less points in four of last five bowls (2-3 SU)

Memphis
— 7 starters back on offense; 6 on defense
— 61 starts back on OL; soph QB has 11 starts
— were 6-6 SU last year, after seven straight winning seasons
— Under Silverfield, Tigers are 3-11 ATS as a favorite.
— Under Silverfield, Tigers are 0-8 ATS on the road.
— Lost three of last four bowls (favored in three of four)

Navy
— 5 starters back on offense; 6 on defense
— 31 starts back on OL; junior QB has 10 starts.
— Last three years, Navy is 8-2 ATS as a favorite.
— were underdog in last 10 home games (6-4 ATS)
— Last three years, they’re 16-8-1 ATS coming off a loss.
— won four of last five bowls (scored 44+ points in three of last four)

South Florida
— 10 starters back on offense; 9 on defense
— 154 starts back on OL; junior QB had 12 starts at Baylor
— Last three years, USF is 7-26 SU
— Last four years, they’re 4-10 ATS coming off a win.
— Last bowl game was in 2018
— Split last four bowls SU, despite giving up 39 ppg.

SMU
— 6 starters back on offense; 7 on defense
— 74 starts back on OL; junior QB has 12 starts
— went 25-10 SU last three years: new coach was OC at Miami.
— 11-4 ATS in last 15 games as a home favorite.
— 3-11 ATS in last 14 games as a road favorite.
— last two bowls, lost 56-10/52-28
— last bowl win was in 2013.

Temple
— 7 starters back on offense; 7 on defense
— 66 starts back on OL; soph QB has 8 starts
— last two years, Owls are 4-15 SU
— Temple was 1-9 ATS as an underdog LY.
— Last three years, they’re 16-8-1 ATS coming off a loss.
— lost last two bowls 56-27/55-13.
— last bowl win was in 2017.

Tulane
— 9 starters back on offense; 9 on defense
— 108 starts back on OL; soph QB has 18 starts
— 10-2 ATS last 12 games as home favorite; 7-2 last nine as home dog.
— Last three years, Green Wave is 14-6 ATS coming off a loss.
— Fritz is 30-17 ATS as a favorite.
— Last four years, Tulane is 6-9-1 ATS as a road underdog.

Tulsa
— 6 starters back on offense; 6 on defense
— 51 starts back on OL; junior QB has 13 starts.
— since 2015, Tulsa is 21-8 ATS as a road underdog.
— last three years, Tulsa is 3-7-1 ATS as a home favorite.
— last three years, Tulsa is 11-5 ATS coming off a loss.
— 3-2 SU last five bowls (losses by 3-2 points)

Sunday’s Den: Random thoughts on a hot summer day

13) Last year, all 32 NFL teams got $347.2M each in revenue sharing from the league; the salary cap last year was $182.5M per team. NFL is a thriving business. 

12) Cleveland Browns signed QB Josh Rosen this week; Rosen was the 10th player taken in the 2018 draft, but lasted only one year in Arizona, going 3-10 as a starter. He went 0-3 as a starter in Miami the next year, then re-surfaced as a backup in Atlanta LY.

Rosen started for three years at UCLA; after his third season, they fired the coach; Arizona also fired their coach after Rosen’s rookie season.

With Deshaun Watson expected to be suspended soon, Cleveland’s QB’s figure to be Jacoby Brissett, Joshua Dobbs and Rosen. They’re only NFL team with no QB’s back from last season. 

11) Eight NFL teams are expected to have new starting QB’s this season; if the 49ers start Trey Lance, that’ll be nine new starters this season. 

10) Last 19 years, defending Super Bowl champ is 11-5-3 ATS in their first game the next season. Rams open this season at home against Buffalo. Matthew Stafford’s brother-in-law is the WR coach for the Bills.

9) Was watching a replay of the 2018 Rams-Chiefs game the other night; interesting how many players from that team are no longer with the Rams. Players/coaches come and go quickly from year to year; sometimes change is good. With the salary cap, not everyone can get paid what they want, so they have to switch teams to maximize their value.

8) Mempbis Tigers have a QB named Ryan Glover who is on his fourth college:
— He played for the Penn Quakers from 2017-19
— He played at Western Carolina in 2020
— He was with the Cal Bears LY, starting one game, a 10-3 loss to Arizona that was the Wildcats’ only win last season.

7) Toronto Blue Jays won 28-5 in Boston Friday night, scoring 11 runs in the 5th inning— their first two guys that inning both made out, then 12 straight guys reached base. 

6) Baltimore Orioles signed high school SS Jackson Holliday to a contract worth $8.19M; he was the first pick in the MLB Draft last week. 

5) Houston Astros are scoring only 3.1 runs/game when Jordan Alvarez is out of the lineup; they’re scoring 4.7 runs/game when he plays. 

4) Los Angeles Angels are 5-17 this season in games where the winning run scores from the 7th inning on. Teams have called the Angels to see if Shohei Ohtani is available for a trade, but word is, the Angels aren’t interested in dealing him.

3) Mets acquired lefty slugger Daniel Vogelbach from Pittsburgh Friday, in exchange for rookie reliever Colin Holderman.

Vogelbach is a platoon player; he is 9-64 (.141) this season against lefties, .137 for his career, but he does have good pop against righties (.896 OPS this year)

2) Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell scored 25.9 ppg last year; he is also a big baseball fan— his dad works in the New York Mets’ front office, as director of public relations and community engagement. The elder Mitchell played minor league ball, getting as high as the AAA level, and has also managed in the minor leagues. 

1) July 20, 1973, Chicago White Sox played a doubleheader in the Bronx, Knuckleballer Wilbur Wood started the first game for Chicago, but gave up six runs without getting anyone out. For some reason, White Sox also started Wood in the nightcap; he gave up seven runs in 4.1 IP.

Wood was a very good pitcher; he went 24-20, 3.46 in 48 starts that year, going on short rest a lot because he threw the knuckleball. A full work load in modern times is 32 starts and he had 48, making the bullpen’s job a lot easier.

He is the last major league pitcher to start both games of a doubleheader. 

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

Lot of money flying around this week……
13) Arizona Cardinals’ QB Kyler Murray signed a 5-year, $230.5M contract extension that guarantees him $160M. Murray has a 22-24-1 record in three years with Arizona, losing his only playoff game 34-11 last season. 

12) Speaking of QBs and contracts, here are Baker Mayfield’s contract incentives:
If Mayfield plays 75% of regular season snaps AND
— 10+ wins— $250K
— divisional round win (with 50% snaps) $500K
— NFC championship win (with 50% snaps) $600K
— Super Bowl win (with 50% snaps) $750K

Playing time/team’s total offense:
— 75% of snaps and top 5 in NFC or top 10 in NFL in total offense— $300K
— 75% of snaps and top 5 in NFC or top 10 in NFL in points scored— $300K

Completion percentage: (minimum 224 attempts)
— 75% of snaps and top 5 in NFC or top 10 in NFL— $300K
— making Pro Bowl— $500K

11) Georgia football coach Kirby Smart signed a 10-year contract extension worth $112.5M.  

10) Last year, Georgia became the fifth team in big-time college football history to win 13 games by 15+ points and just the second team to do it over the last 100 years. 2018 Clemson Tigers also did that; before them, Minnesota in 1903 was the last team to do it.

9) Philadelphia 76ers’ star James Harden signed a 2-year deal worth $68.6M. 

8) Charles Barkley makes $10M a year working on TNT; that’s a pretty good gig. 

7) Word of the Day— Quisling— a traitor who collaborates with an enemy force. 

6) Couple notes about the NFL red zone:
— Only 22.4% of touchdowns in the NFL last year came on plays longer than 20 yards, the lowest percentage in the last ten years.
— Teams scored TD’s 58.2% of the time they got inside the 20-yard line, the 3rd-highest %age in the last decade. 

5) New Mexico Lobos’ football team used five different QB’s in each of the last two years; things got so bad for them last year, a student manager played QB in three games, starting in a 35-10 loss to Utah State.

A long time ago, I was a student manager for our college basketball team; things wouldn’t have gone too well if I had to play in a real game.

August 1980, we took a 16-day trip to Sweden and played in some exhibitions; somehow, I got in one of the games, and proceeded to shoot most of the time they threw me the ball. I was subbed out for pretty quickly. Go figure. 

4) It feels weird typing this, but over the last four years, Florida State’s football team is 19-27.

3) Houston 3, New York 2— Astros’ first two batters in first inning of Thursday’s twinbill opener reached base with a bunt single. It is the 41st time it has happened in MLB history; Astros are first team to do it since the Colorado Rockies on September 15, 2015.

2) Los Angeles Dodgers are 60-30, only 7-9 in one-run games. If you wagered on the Dodgers, would it be smart to play them -1.5 runs? 53 of their 60 wins are by 2+ runs.

1) Suggestions for TV coverage of the All-Star Game:
— There are 64 All-Stars; only 10 of them are on the field at once.
— Interview one of the other 54 All-Stars in each dugout, in the bullpens, wherever.
— Interview the managers.
— Do NOT interview players who are on the field, playing the game.
— For better or worse, people bet on this stuff, and you’ve got pitchers/batters miked. It isn’t good. 

Friday’s Den: Big 14 football knowledge

Illinois
— 7 starters back on offense, 6 on defense
— 74 starts return on offensive line; QB started 18 games at Syracuse.
— Last three years, they’re 9-5 ATS as a road underdog.
— Last 10 years, they’re 39-79 SU
— Last bowl win was in 2011.

Indiana
— 5 starters back on offense, 7 on defense
— 61 starts return on offensive line; QB 20 starts at Missouri
— Since 2016, they’re 5-13 ATS as a road underdog.
— Allen is 11-2 ATS as a home favorite; 4-11 as home underdog.
— Lost last five bowls, last four by total of 12 points.

Iowa
— 7 starters back on offense, 7 on defense
— 44 starts return on offensive line; junior QB has 19 starts
— Last four years, they’re 21-13 ATS as a favorite.
— Since 2015, Iowa is +63 in turnovers (88 games)
— won three of last four bowls (4-0 ATS)

Maryland
— 9 starters back on offense, 7 on defense
— 94 starts return on offensive line; junior QB has 17 starts
— Locksley is 19-30 ATS as an underdog.
— Last year was their first bowl since 2016; they beat Va Tech 54-10.
— Average total in their last five bowls: 63.6.

Michigan
— 9 starters back on offense, 4 on defense
— 85 starts return on offensive line; soph QB has 15 starts
— Last four years, they’re 13-7 ATS as a home favorite.
— Last 10 years, they’re 15-23-1 ATS in non-conference games.
— lost last five bowls; allowed 36.7 ppg in last three

Michigan State
— 5 starters back on offense, 9 on defense
— 90 starts return on offensive line; soph QB has 14 starts
— 11-2 SU LY (16-17 SU previous three years)
— Tucker is 7-2 ATS as a home underdog.
— won three of last four bowls (4-0 ATS)

Minnesota
— 6 starters back on offense, 6 on defense
— 64 starts return on offensive line; senior QB has 39 starts
— since 2014, they’re 11-6-1 ATS as a home underdog.
— since 2013, they’re 9-4-1 ATS as a road favorite.
— won last five bowls (were underdog in 3 of 5 games)

Nebraska
— 7 starters back on offense, 5 on defense
— 78 starts return on offensive line; junior QB started 10 games at Texas
— Last five years, they’re 19-37 SU.
— Under Frost, they’re 8-15 ATS when favored, 13-7-1 as an underdog.
— Nebraska’s last bowl was in 2016

Northwestern
— 9 starters back on offense, 5 on defense
— 110 starts return on offensive line; junior QB has 16 starts
— Under Fitzgerald: 32-48-2 ATS as favorite, 37-21 as road underdog.
— Since 2014, they’re 10-16-2 ATS out of conference
— won last four bowls (were underdog in 2 of 4 bowls)

Ohio State
— 6 starters back on offense, 8 on defense
— 45 starts return on offensive line; soph QB has 12 starts
— Day is 20-10-1 ATS as a favorite.
— Last 10 years, Ohio State is 117-13 SU.
— average total in their last three bowls: 82.0.

Penn State
— 7 starters back on offense, 4 on defense
— 36 starts return on offensive line; senior QB has 33 starts
— Under Franklin, they’re 9-12 ATS as an underdog.
— Since 2016, they’re 12-8 ATS as a road favorite.
— Since 2014, they’re 8-23 ATS coming off a loss.

Purdue
— 7 starters back on offense, 7 on defense
— 77 starts return on offensive line; senior QB has 15 starts
— Since 2018: 3-9 ATS as home favorite, 8-4 as home underdog.
— Last year was their second winning season in last decade.
— 3-2 SU last five bowls, despite giving up 46.6 ppg.

Rutgers
— 6 starters back on offense, 6 on defense
— 73 starts return on offensive line; senior QB has 20 starts; another QB is freshman who threw 5 passes LY.
— Last two years: 1-7 ATS as home underdog, 6-1 as road underdog.
— Last two years, they’re +8 in turnovers (previous two years, they were minus-27)
— lost 3 of last 4 bowls (were double digit underdog in 2 of last 3). Last bowl win: 2014

Wisconsin
— 5 starters back on offense, 3 on defense
— 57 starts return on offensive line; soph QB has 20 starts
— 17-24 ATS last 41 games as HF; 19-7 last 26 as road favorite.
— since 2013, they’re 23-13 ATS out of conference
— won four of last five bowl games. 

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

13) Major League Baseball is debating expanding to 32 teams; seems to be one of the few things the owners/Players’ Association agree upon. Only question is when, and which cities?

Two new teams means:
— 52 more major league roster spots
— increased revenue for the owners (entry fee for the new reams will be over $1B each)
— more minor league teams, which is more jobs for players/staff/umpires
— 32 teams means interleague play doesn’t have to happen every day. 

12) Seven of the Pirates’ first ten draft picks this week were pitchers, which seems like a good idea for a team that sorely lacks pitching. 

11) Houston’s first 11 picks were college players; seven of those were pitchers. It is interesting how some teams prefer high school kids, but college kids are further along, usually get to the majors quicker, and Houston is in a win-now mode. 

10) Dodgers drafted Baylor OF Kyle Nevin Tuesday; his dad Phil Nevin is the interim manager of the Angels right now, and his brother plays for Baltimore. 

9) Random trivia: Ryan Dempster/Kenny Rogers both allowed 11 grand slams, most of any pitchers in MLB history.

8) Nick Swisher/Mark Teixeira both had 14 games where they hit a home run from both sides of the plate, tied for the most in MLB history. 

7) Since 1988, fewest pitches thrown in a 9-inning complete game: 74, by Minnesota’s Carlos Silva in 2005, Colorado’s Aaron Cook in 2007.  

6) Oakland A’s/San Diego Padres are only two teams who have never had a second baseman start in the All-Star Game.

5) Jeff McNeil was the first New York Met to start an All-Star Game since 2013; Texas Rangers have the longest such drought- their last All-Star starter was in 2012. 

4) Juan Soto banked $1M for winning Home Run Derby; Julio Rodriguez got $750K for his second-place finish. Wonder what their batting practice pitchers got?

3) Since 1988, most swings/misses generated by a pitcher in one game:
38— David Cone, 1991
38— Pedro Martinez, 2000
37— Randy Johnson, 1997

2) SEC football Media Days are this week, as coaches gathered to promote their teams and the upcoming season. Even Nick Saban tries to be pleasant for a little while. It is unclear when Texas and Oklahoma are jumping to the SEC, or if the SEC will add any teams beyond that.

1) American League has now won the last nine All-Star Games, and 21 of last 25. Under is on a 13-2-1 run in All-Star Games. 

Two Lists for Wednesday: the first, Mid-week musings…..

13) My favorite part of the All-Star Game is the player introductions; you see guys who are All-Stars for the first time- has to be a tremendous thrill to hear your name while you stand with the best players in the business. 

12) Every team has to be represented in the All-Star Game; this year, the A’s representative is P Paul Blackburn, who was scheduled to fly commercial from Houston to Los Angeles after the A’s series in Texas over the weekend.

Astros heard about it, and offered Blackburn a seat on their team’s charter from Houston to LA, pretty classy move.  

11) I felt pretty old Sunday night, when Jackson Holliday was first player taken in the amateur baseball draft. His dad is Matt Holliday, who was a terrific ballplayer for Rockies/Cardinals.

Our fantasy baseball league started in 2005; it is a dynasty league— you keep the same players from year-to-year. Our first draft took 81 days to finish; we started before Christmas, and my first pick was Matt Holliday. Now his son is a pro ballplayer. Time flies.

Later on, I wound up with Rays’ LF Carl Crawford on my team for 3-4 years; his son got drafted in the first round by the Phillies Sunday night. Carl Crawford played in the 2008 World Series, against the Phillies. Go figure. 

10) Ironic that Sunday, the day the draft started, Detroit Tigers sent Spencer Torkelson down to AAA.

Torkelson was the first player taken in the 2020 draft; they rushed him to the majors, but he struggled, batting .197 with a .577 OPS. Now he is back in AAA, and has to regroup.

Being a top draft pick is great, but no matter who you are, once you get to The Show, you have to produce to stay there. It is a production-based business, after all.

9) Washington Nationals lost the first game in 16 of their last 20 home series; they have a big star in 23-year old Juan Soto, but it looks like he isn’t going to sign with Washington long-term, so eventually they’ll have to trade him. Tough times.

He turned down a 15-year, $440M offer last week.

Nationals won the World Series in 2019, but when your stars are turning down $30M a year deals, how can you sustain success?

8) I know next-to-nothing about video games, but when I see that Ja’Marr Chase is the #18 WR in the Madden ratings, it just seems wrong.

81 catches, 1,455 yards, 13 TD’s. There are not 17 WR’s who are better than Chase, whether in video games or real football.

7) I like that Lamar Jackson is serving as his own agent; saves him the 3% agent fee, and from what you read, he is well-versed on what he wants in his next contract. Will be fascinating to see what he winds up making. If Jackson does well with his contract, will more players follow his lead and be their own agent?

6) Circa Casino in Las Vegas advertises a lot on San Diego Padres’ TV games; they have an amazing sportsbook, part of which is outside on the 3rd floor of the casino, with lounge chairs scattered amongst pools, with a lot of distractions walking around.

Video screens take up a wall above the betting windows; it is amazing to see.

You have to be 21 years old to stay at Circa; no kids allowed.

5) Watching the British Open, the person who invented pot bunkers is a sadistic bastard. 

4) In case you were wondering, Portland Trailblazers won the Las Vegas Summer League.

3) Poker player from Norway named Espen Jorstad won this year’s Main Event at the World Series of Poker, banking $10M in the process. Total of 8,663 people competed in this year’s Main Event. 

2) Pittsburgh Steelers changed the name of their stadium from Heinz Field to Acrisure Stadium. Over the last 20 years, Heinz paid the Steelers $57M for naming rights; Acrisure is going to pay the Steelers $10M a year. 

1) Bills/Raiders started their training camps Monday; eight other teams started Tuesday. When is the NFL going to announce their decision on Deshaun Watson? Cleveland Browns start camp July 30; would be nice if they knew who their quarterback was going to be.

If Watson gets suspended, Jacoby Brissett will be their QB; three years ago, Brissett replaced Andrew Luck as the Colts’ QB, when Luck abruptly retired. He also was in New England for a year, and Miami last year, when the coach got fired after a 9-8 season.

Brissett could write a hell of a book someday. 

Our 2nd List for Wednesday: Umpire trends for the first half

Here are some trends on home plate umpires so far this season:

Umps whose games go over the total a lot
12-4– Wendelstedt
10-3– Layne
12-6-1— Bellino
12-6— Libka, Porter
10-5-1— Guccione   
9-4— Marquez, Muchlinski

Umps whose games stay under the total a lot
15-2– Fletcher
14-6— Livensparger
12-4— Scheurwater
12-6— Ceja, Cuzzi
12-7— Hernandez
11-6— Hoberg, May
10-6— Carapazza, Dreckman, Wills

Umps whose games see home team win a lot:
14-3— Bucknor
12-3– Barber
12-4— Reynolds, Scheurwater
10-3– Barry
13-6— Ceja
10-4— Hickox
12-6— Little, Vondrak
11-5— Wendelstedt 

Umps whose games see road team win a lot:
14-5– Hernandez
12-4— Whitson
12-5– Fletcher
11-5— Carapazza
10-6— Reyburn
11-7— TGibson, Torres

Umps whose games see home favorite win a lot: 
12-0– Bucknor
11-2— Vondrak
12-3— Valentine
10-1– Barry
9-1— Wendelstedt
8-1— Barber
10-3— Moscoso
12-5— Mahrley
9-2— Merzel
8-1— Scheurwater

Umps whose games see road underdog win a lot:
10-3– Hernandez, Whitson
7-4— Layne
8-5— Reyburn
7-5— Dreckman, Miller
6-5— Fletcher

Umps whose games see home underdogs win a lot: 
8-0— Little
4-1— Barksdale
6-3— Hickox, Wegner
4-2— Barber, Hudson
3-1— Dreckman, Hamari, Knight

Umps whose games see road favorites win a lot:   
6-0– Fletcher
7-1— Livensparger, Valentime
5-0– Drake, Hoye, Johnson, Muchlinski, Wolcott
7-2— Bacchus, Moscoso

Tuesday’s Den: Notes, trends for AFC teams…….

Baltimore Ravens
— Won Super Bowl in 2012; since then, they’re 2-4 SU in playoffs.
— Last three years, they’re 9-0-1 ATS as an underdog.
— Harbaugh is 13-9-1 ATS as a road favorite in division games, 24-29-1 out of division.
— 5-1 ATS in last six series openers.

Buffalo Bills
— Last two years, they’re 3-2 in playoffs; previous 18 years, they were 0-2.
— Last four years, they’re 9-0-1 ATS as an underdog of 3 or less points.
— Under McDermott, Bills are 24-14-2 ATS on the road.
— Last two years, over is 10-4-2 in their road games.

Cincinnati Bengals
— Last year was first time they won a playoff game on the road. Ever.
— Bengals were even in turnovers LY; previous two years, they were minus-21.
— Last two years, they’re 6-3-2 ATS as a home underdog.
— Last seven years, they’re 13-7-1 ATS in AFC North road games (2-0 as road favorite)

Cleveland Browns
— Last 20 years, they’re 1-2 in playoff games; Baker Mayfield was QB for the win.
— Under Stefanski, they’re 7-12-4 ATS as a favorite.
— Last three years, they’re 7-14-2 ATS coming off a loss.
— Last ten years, Browns are 10-19-1 ATS in AFC North home games.

Denver Broncos
— Denver hasn’t been in the playoffs since 2015.
— In his 10-year career, Russell Wilson is 9-7 in playoff games.
— Last five years, Broncos are 6-12-2 ATS as a home favorite.
— Last five years, Denver is 4-10-1 ATS in AFC West road games.

Houston Texans
— Last two years, they’re 8-25 SU; Smith is their third HC in three years.
— Last three years, Texans are 2-8 ATS as a home favorite.
— Since 2016, they’re 1-5-2 ATS as a road favorite.
— Smith went 89-87 as head coach of the Bears (3-3 in playoff games)

Indianapolis Colts
— Ryan will be the Colts’ 6th different starting QB the last six years.
— Last seven years, they’re 1-2 in playoff games.
— Last two years, Colts are +24 in turnovers; they were 9-8 LY with a +14 ratio.
— Last five years, they’re 14-3-1 ATS as a favorite of 3 or less points.

Jacksonville Jaguars
— Last four years, Jags are 15-50 SU; Pederson is their 3rd coach in three years.
— Last three years, they’re 8-15 ATS in Jacksonville.
— Last four years, they’re 3-7-2 ATS in AFC South road games.
— Pederson went 42-37-1 coaching the Eagles, and won a Super Bowl.

Kansas City Chiefs
— Mahomes is 50-13 SU in regular season, 8-3 in playoffs.
— In the 16 years before Mahomes, KC was 1-7 in playoff games.
— Last six years, they’re 13-5 ATS as an underdog.
— Under Reid, Chiefs are 43-26-1 ATS on the road.

Las Vegas Raiders
— Since losing Super Bowl in 2002, Raiders are 0-2 in playoff games.
— Last two years, Raiders are 18-15 SU, despite minus-20 turnover ratio.
— Last five years, they’re 2-7-1 ATS as a road favorite.
— In two years in Las Vegas, over is 11-5-1 in Raider home games.

Los Angeles Chargers
— Chargers made playoffs twice in the last 12 years.
— Last seven years, they’re 12-8-1 ATS in AFC West road games.
— Last 10 years, they’re 22-34-5 ATS in games with spread of 3 or less.
— Last 20 years, their starting QB’s: Brees-Rivers-Herbert. Pretty good QB’s (5-7 in playoffs)

Miami Dolphins
— Last 20 years, Miami is 0-1 in playoff games (game was in 2008)
— Last two years, Dolphins are 19-14 SU, missed playoffs both times.
— Last three years, they’re 20-14 ATS as an underdog.
— Last four years, they’re 11-6-1 ATS as a favorite.
— Week 17 last two years: lost 56-26 at Buffalo/lost 34-3 at Tennessee.

New England Patriots
— 17-16 SU in two years since Brady left town.
— Last seven years, they’re 31-17-3 ATS as a home favorite.
— Last 10 years, they’re 34-16-1 ATS in non-divisional home games.
— Last eight years, under is 35-19-1 in their road games.

New Jersey Jets
— Haven’t made playoffs since 2010, when Rex Ryan was coach.
— Last six years, they’re 27-70 SU (39-54-4 ATS)
— Last five years, Jets are 0-4 ATS as a road favorite.
— Last four years, they’re 2-10 ATS in AFC East home games. 

Pittsburgh Steelers
— Last four years, Steelers are 0-2 in playoff games (previous 16 years- 15-8).
— Last four years, they’re 4-0 ATS as a home underdog.
— Last six years, they’re 20-13 ATS in games with spread of 3 or fewer points.
— Last three years, they’re 7-2 ATS in AFC North home games.

Tennessee Titans
— Last two years went 23-10 SU, but were 0-2 in playoffs, both at home.
— Last five years, they’re 9-3 ATS as a home underdog.
— Last three years, over is 17-7 in their road games.
— Last five years, they’re 18-12 ATS in AFC South games. 

Monday’s Den: Baseball thoughts at the All-Star break

13) I’m still amazed that the pitching coach of the Minnesota Twins was making $350,000, so he quit and became the pitching coach at LSU, where he now makes $750,000.

13 pitchers on a team that has 26 players on it; pithing coach is basically the manager for half the team, and he makes half what the minimum wage is for a player ($700,000)? Wow. 

12) Can we just give Baltimore skipper Brandon Hyde Manager of the Year right now? Last year, Orioles were 52-110, a dreadful team. This year, they head to the All-Star break 46-46.

Part of the improvement goes to management, which made left/left-center in Camden Yards way bigger, which has to have helped their pitchers’ confidence.

11) Further evidence of the excellent job Hyde is doing:

Baltimore’s total payroll for 2022: $32,918,626
Max Scherzer’s salary for 2022: $43,333,333

10) All five teams in the American League East are .500 or better; last time a division had all of its teams at .500 or better on July 17? Back in 2005, the National League East. 

9) Freddie Freeman heads into the All-Star break 16 for his last 24; he is probably sad not to play again until Thursday.

8) Red Sox P Chris Sale has been on the injured list seven times since 2018; he is headed for trip #8. A line drive broke the pinky on Sale’s pitching hand Sunday- it didn’t look good. 

7) Apparently the business of baseball is doing well:
— Aaron Judge turned down a contract $31M a year.
— Juan Soto turned down a 15-year, $440M deal

Agents for both players obviously think their client will wind up making more $$$. 

6) Since June 28, Los Angeles Angels are 3-0 when Shohei Ohtani pitches, 0-13 when anyone else is the starting pitcher. 

5) Texas Rangers’ SS Corey Seager has a .976 OPS in his home games, which is really good; his OPS on the road is .634, which is terrible. Weird thing is that Texas has a pitchers’ ballpark, so you figure he would hit better on the road.

OPS is on-base %age plus slugging %age. 

4) Boston Red Sox are 12-26 against their division rivals, 36-19 against everyone else. Boston has fallen out of the playoff picture; they’re still really close, but they need to pick it up against their AL East rivals.

3) Philadelphia Phillies are 27-14 since they changed managers, 11-8 since Bryce Harper broke his hand. 

2) Colorado is 28-22 at home, 15-27 on the road; do opposing teams struggle playing in Denver, and if so, why? Rockies haven’t gotten much from newly-signed Kris Bryant until recently; will they be a better team after the All-Star break?  

1) Trade deadline is August 2nd; with 12 teams making the playoffs now, will be interesting to see which teams sell off players for prospects and which teams try to fortify their roster.