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

Bengals 27, Dolphins 15
— Cincy allowed only four TD’s on 46 drives this season.
— Bengals outscored opponents 48-15 in second half this year.
— Cincy converted 8-15 on third down, Miami 2-10.
— McPherson made a 57-yard FG to put Bengals up, 20-15.
— Burrow averaged 9.2 yards/pass attempt.

— Miami QB Tagovailoa suffered head/neck injuries in first half.
— Backup QB Bridgewater threw for 193 yards and a TD.
— Miami in first half: 34 plays, 235 yards, TD, 2-3 on FG’s.
— Miami in second half: 30 plays, 181 yards, one FG.
— Cincinnati outscored Dolphins 13-0 in 4th quarter.

— Pet peeve of mine; NFL needs teams to have three QB’s active for every game; Miami had their #3 QB active for this one, but usually teams don’t. If the starting QB gets hurt early in a game, they’re behind the 8-ball with play calling, since they’re screwed if the #2 QB also gets hurt. Plus it hurts the quality of the product to have teams so cautious.

NFL teams are incredibly rich; keeping one more guy on the active roster to preserve the quality of the product should be no big deal.

— Joe Burrow has already been sacked 16 times this season; Carson Wentz has been sacked 15 times. Detroit’s Jared Goff has only been sacked four times.

— Speaking of the Lions, offensive coordinator Ben Johnson was a walk-on QB at North Carolina from 2004-07; he was a Math major in college. 15 years later, he is on a fast track to become an NFL head coach.

BYU 38, Utah State 26
— BYU went up 14-7 on a 34-yard pick-6 in first quarter.
— Game was 17-all at halftime.
— BYU averaged 10 yards per pass attempt.
— Utah State is 12-6 ATS in last 17 non-league games

— Orioles’ 5-3 loss in Boston Thursday clinched a Wild Card spot for Toronto.

— Phillies-Nationals’ doubleheader was switched from Saturday to Friday because of the impending bad weather; teams are still scheduled to play a single game Saturday, but that could turn into a Sunday doubleheader. 

— People with the Minnesota Twins were praising the 2023 schedule, when every team will play every other team for the first time. Smaller market teams like the idea of big stars visiting their ballpark at least once every other year. 

The flip side of the new schedule is that hitters will face the same pitcher fewer teams from now on, since there will be fewer divisional games. That equates to less offense, which supposedly the powers-that-be don’t want- they want more scoring, which is why the shift is going to be banned starting next year.

— In 2004, Barry Bonds was INTENTIONALLY walked 120 times; in his career he got 688 intentional walks, the equivalent of a whole season of at-bats.

— Cubs 2, Phillies 0— Phillies lead Milwaukee by a half-game for the last Wild Card in the NL; they went 0-6 against the 70-86 Cubs this season.

— Marlins 4, Brewers 2— Milwaukee led 2-0 in 8th inning but blew the lead, which is why the Phillies are still ahead of them in the standings, with six days left in the season.

— Tampa Bay leads the Orioles by five games with six to play, as they try to sew up the last Wild Card slot in the American League.

— Amazon Prime is a treasure trove of old movies; the other night I’m up at 3am watching Three Days of the Condor, an old Robert Redford movie from 1975. Great movie, with Faye Dunaway. Also watched Crazy Heart that night, an old Jeff Bridges movie about an aging country singer. 

As I type this, I’m watching Autumn in New York, with Richard Gere/Wynona Rider. Lot of good stuff on there.

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

— Thru three weeks, underdogs are 27-19-2 ATS in the NFL; under is 29-18-1.

Home underdogs are 14-9-1 ATS.

— NL East is the only divisional race still in doubt;
Mets 5, Marlins 4 (10)— Eduardo Escobar knocked in all five runs for the Mets.

Nationals 3, Braves 2 (10)— CJ Abrams had the walk-off hit. Mets have a one-game lead over Atlanta; teams play three times in Atlanta this weekend, weather permitting.

— Braves don’t have a sacrifice bunt this season, the only team since 1955 to do that (excluding the shortened 2020 season). Previous low for sacrifice bunts in a full season is four.

— Marlins have a backup catcher Nick Fortes: he has been the Marlins’ DH 12 times this year, and went 1-39 in those games, with six walks. Not good. 

— Marlins are the only major league team that has never had a player hit for the cycle.

— We send prayers out to the people in Florida who are in the way of that terrible storm; the people broadcasting from Florida on the Weather Channel were actually wearing baseball batting helmets when they were on the air.

Not sure why people have to be outside in conditions like that, but they were.

— Some college football games have been affected by the storm:
East Carolina at South Florida was moved from Tampa to Miami.

Eastern Washington-Florida game was moved from Saturday night to Sunday at noon.

SMU-Central Florida game has been moved from Saturday to Sunday at 1pm.

South Carolina-SC State game was moved up from Saturday at noon to Thursday night.

Wake Forest-Florida State game is still scheduled to be played 3:30 Saturday in Tallahassee. 

— In the NFL, Tennessee Titans have been outscored 57-7 in second half of their first three games.

— Arizona Cardinals have been outscored 56-13 in the first half of games; they’ve converted only 12 of 43 third down plays this season.

— Bill Belichick’s all-time coaching record: 322-158, one of the all-time greats.
Belichick’s record with someone other than Tom Brady at QB: 73-83.

— Patriots’ QB Mac Jones has a high ankle sprain, which medical people on TV say is a multi-week injury. Brian Hoyer is New England’s backup QB; he is in his 13th season, is 16-23 as an NFL starter. Hoyer’s last win came in 2016, for the Bears (0-14 as a starter since then)

— Since the start of the 2021 season, NFL teams with the worst record in games decided by 8 or fewer points: 

0-7 Buffalo
0-6-1 Houston
2-8-1 Detroit
3-8 Carolina

— Before the season, if you had the Eagles/Dolphins as the NFL’s only unbeaten teams thru three weeks, then you should go buy a lottery ticket. 

Wednesday’s Den: How NFL teams do on 75+ yard drives…….

Points per possession on drives that start 75+ yards from goal line:
Offense
3.22— Bills
2.81— Browns
2.76— Jaguars
2.50— Ravens
2.26— Falcons
2.25— Dolphins
2.13— Eagles
2.00— Chiefs
1.80— Vikings
1.70— Saints
1.63— Bears, Raiders
1.62— Lions
1.59— Panthers
1.50— Packers, Titans
1.48— Cowboys
1.44— Seahawks
1.41— Patriots, Commanders
1.35— Cardinals, Broncos
1.30— Buccaneers
1.29— Bengals
1.22— 49ers
1.18— Jets
1.14— Texams
1.12— Steelers
1.10— Chargers
1.05— Colts
1.04— Giants
0.69— Rams

Rams gave up blocked punt for TD vs Atlanta, which hurts their number.

Defense
0.63— 49ers
0.91— Broncos, Bucs
0.92— Bengals
0.94— Steelers
0.96— Packers
1.09— Jaguars
1.18— Raiders
1.22— Ravens
1.28— Colts
1.29— Vikings
1.30— Eagles
1.35— Saints
1.42— Giants
1.44— Texans
1.59— Bills
1.61— Bears
1.78— Rams
1.83— Panthers
1.86— Dolphins, Commanders
1.89— Chiefs
1.95— Cowboys
2.00— Patriots
2.28— Chargers
2.33— Lions
2.39— Browns, Titans
2.41— Jets
2.59— Cardinals
2.74— Seahawks
2.93— Falcons

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

13) Cowboys 23, Giants 16:
— Dallas ran ball for 176 yards, won field position by 15 yards.
— Cooper Rush is now 3-0 as an NFL starter.
— Dallas has only four TD’s on 31 drives this season.
— Cowboys are 12-4 ATS in last 16 road openers.
— Dallas won 10 of last 11 games against the Giants.

— Jones threw for 196 yards, ran for 79 more (14-26 as NFL starter)
— Giants have converted only 11-39 on third down.
— Giants’ only TD was a 36-yard run by Barkley.
— Big Blue ran ball for 508 yards in first three games.
— Giants are 4-9 ATS in last 13 NFC East home games.

 12) Rams held Arizona without a touchdown Sunday, but the Cardinals moved the ball:
19 plays, 65 yards, 9:30- FG
8 plays, 47 yards, 0:47 (2:00 drill)- FG
16 plays, 58 yards, 7:47- FG
12 plays, 49 yards, 4:31- -lost on downs
17 plays, 84 yards, 5:32- FG

Unusual to have so many long drives, but no touchdowns. 

11) This is my annual reminder that quarterbacks used to call their own plays; Terry Bradshaw won four Super Bowls with the Steelers calling the plays himself.

If I had a veteran QB and wanted to play no-huddle, I’d let my QB call plays. 

10) College football coaches lead a tenuous existence; Boise State fired the offensive coordinator after the Broncos lost at UTEP Friday. Georgia Tech fired their coach and athletic director over the weekend.

Boise State hired Dirk Koetter as their new OC; the guy was a head coach in the NFL five years ago, with Tampa Bay. Chances are he’ll be their head coach next year.

9) If you were the fan who caught Albert Pujols’ 700th home run, what would you ask for, when the Cardinals/Pujols or some collector wanted to buy it from you?

Pujols hit his 700th home run in Los Angeles; no way the Dodgers are coughing up tickets or anything valuable in exchange for the ball. We’ll see what winds up happening. 

8) Seattle Mariners gave P Luis Castillo a 5-year contract extension worth $108M. 

7) If newly-acquired Miguel Andujar plays 1B for the Pirates this week, he’ll be the 11th first baseman Pittsburgh has used this season. 

6) 23 of 48 NFL games this season have been decided by 5 or less points; 18 games have been decided by 3 or fewer points. 

5) New Orleans Pelicans signed CJ McCollum tp a 2-year, $64M contract extension; a cynical person on Twitter declared McCollum to be the highest-paid player ever who hasn’t played in an All-Star Game. He’s really good, though. 

4) For the last six years, the holder for kicks on Clemson’s football team has been one of Dabo Swinney’s sons- they’re also backup wide receivers.

3) Memo to TV guys: Stop talking about the Heisman Trophy, at least until baseball season is over. I swear there are guys who work for ESPN who get paid to talk about it— they bring it up all the time, and there is no other possible reason for it.

2) If Aaron Judge had 60 home runs while playing for the Royals, A’s or Minnesota, would ESPN interrupt college football telecasts to show his at-bats? Didn’t think so.

1) If you’re up early in the morning, Friday at 6am there is an NBA exhibition game on live from Japan- Golden State-Washington. I’m never up that early; sometimes I haven’t gone to bed at 6am. Unsure if I’ll see any of that game, unless they replay it later in the day. 

Monday’s Den: Wrapping up an NFL Sunday

Dolphins 21, Bills 19:
— Buffalo lost, despite outgaining Miami 497-212.
— Allen was 42-63 passing for 400 yards, with 2 TD’s.
— Bills converted 11-18 on 3rd down (25-41 in three games)
— Buffalo outgained first three opponents, 1,324-642. 

— Bills drove 73 yards/17 plays, were stopped on Miami 2-yard line with 1:46 left.
— Dolphins have converted 20-36 third down plays.
— Miami ran ball 17 times for only 41 yards.
— Dolphins ended a six-game series losing streak.
— 3rd-year QB Tagovailoa is 16-8 as an NFL starter.

Ravens 37, Patriots 26:
— Jackson threw for 218 yards, 4 TD’s; ran for 107 yards and a TD
— Andrews caught 8 passes for 89 yards, two TD’s.
— Last 3+ years, Ravens are 9-0 ATS in games with spread of 3 or less.
— Ravens have outscored opponents 52-23 in first half.
— Jackson is 40-16 as an NFL starter.

— Patriots are 18-19 since Brady went to Tampa Bay.
— Patriots turned ball over last three times they had it.
— New England was 2-9 on third down, Ravens 5-11.
— Since 2018, they’re 7-13 ATS in games with spread of 3 or less.
— QB Jones hurt his ankle at end of game (check status)

Colts 20, Chiefs 17:
— Chiefs missed a PAT and a 34-yard field goal.
— Kansas City’s TD drives were short: 35-21 yards.
— Chiefs’ four 2nd half drives: 35 plays, 203 yards, only 3 points.
— Last two games, Chiefs are only 7-22 on third down.

— Ryan threw 12-yard TD pass with 0:24 left for the win.
— Woods caught only 2 passes for 13 yards, but both catches were TD’s.
— In last two games, Colts gained only 218-259 yards.
— Colts have only four TD’s on 33 drives this season.

Panthers 22, Saints 14:
— Saints outgained Carolina 426-293, were minus-3 in turnovers.
— New Orleans had two empty trips to red zone.
— Panthers won field position by 12 yards.
— Saints are 13-39 on 3rd down so far this season.
— Winston is 34-46 as an NFL starter, 6-5 with the Saints.

— Carolina snaps a 9-game losing skid with this win.
— Panthers scored a defensive TD to take a 7-0 lead.
— Panthers’ only offensive TD was a 67-yard TD pass to Chenault.
— Last two games, Carolina has only 2 TD’s on 21 drives.

Bears 23, Texans 20
— Mills threw INT with 1:05 left, giving Bears ball on 20-yard line in 20-20 game.
— Texans have allowed 177-149-281 rushing yards in three games.
— Texans were 3-12 on 3rd down; Chicago was 6-14.
— Houston lost despite a 10-yard advantage in field position.

— Herbert carried ball 20 times for 157 yards, two TD’s.
— Bears kicked a FG in last 2:00 of each half, including game-winner at gun. 
— Bears have been outscored 45-20 in first half this season. 
— Chicago has completed only 23-45 passes in three games, for 235 yards.

Vikings 28, Lions 24:
— Detroit led 14-0 early in second quarter.
— Under Campbell, Lions are 4-15-1 SU, 14-6 ATS.
— Lions hav run ball for 170.3 yards/game so far.
— Detroit scored 35-36-24 points so far (11 TD’s on 35 drives)

— Cousins threw 28-yard TD pass with 0:45 left for the win.
— Vikings trailed 24-14 with 8:00 left in game.
— Minnesota has converted only 10-34 third down plays.
— Vikings won eight of last nine series games.
— Last 2+ years, Minnesota is 3-9 ATS as a home favorite.

Bengals 27, Jets 12:
— Bengals’ first five drives: 30 plays, 237 yards, 20 points.
— Bengals’ last six drives: 37 plays, 104 yards, 7 points.
— Cincinnati held Jets to 4.5 yards/pass attempt.
— Last 2+ years, Cincy is 12-6 ATS coming off a loss.

— Jets were in Cincinnati territory on 7 of 12 drives, didn’t score a TD.
— Gang Green came up empty on two trips to red zone.
— Jets turned ball over four times (minus-3)
— Opponents have converted 20-39 third down plays.
— Last 2+ years, Jets are 12-22 ATS as an underdog.

Titans 24, Raiders 22:
— Raiders scored TD with 1:14 left, but failed on 2-point PAT.
— Las Vegas is 0-3, with losses by 5-6-2 points.
— Raiders were 1-12 on third down, Tennessee 5-10.
— Las Vegas is 2-6 ATS in last eight games with spread of 3 or less.
— Since 2017, Raiders are 2-8-1 ATS as a road favorite.

— Titans’ first three drives: 26 plays, 229 yards, 21 points.
— Titans rest of game: 28 plays, 114 yards, 3 points.
— Since 2017, Titans are 10-3 ATS as a home underdog.
— Tennessee has been outgained 1,204-907 in three games.

Eagles 24, Commanders 8:
— Eagles have outscored opponents 62-21 in first half.
— Philly outgained the Commanders, 400-240.
— WR Devonta Smith caught 8 passes for 169 yards and a TD.
— Philly won its first three games, scoring 28.7 ppg.

— Eagles sacked ex-teammate Wentz nine times.
— Washington in first 3 quarters: 34 plays, 62 yards, 5 first downs, no points.
— Washington lost field position by 11-12-9 yards in its first three games.
— Since 2016, Commanders are 6-13 ATS in NFC East home games.

Jaguars 38, Chargers 10:
— Last two games. Jaguars allowed only one TD on 21 drives.
— Jaguars ran ball for 151 yards, converted 8-15 on third down.
— Jacksonville opponents have only 24 points on 7 red zone drives.
— Doug Pederson is our early leader for Coach of the Year.

— Chargers have been outscored 59-24 in second half.
— Bolts were outgained 413-312; they were minus-2 in turnovers.
— Jaguars won field position by 12 yards.
— Chargers have run ball for only 76-75-26 yards so far this season.
— Last 3+ years, Chargers are 10-17-1 ATS coming off a loss.

Falcons 27, Seahawks 23
— Falcons ran ball for 179 yards, averaged 9.0 yards/pass attempt.
— Atlanta ran 54 plays, only seven of them on third down.
— Atlanta scored 26-27-27 points in first three games.
— Falcons are 6-3 ATS in last nine games with spread of 3 or less.

— Geno Smith passed for 326 yards, two TD’s.
— Smith is also now 14-23 as an NFL starter.
— Seattle converted 9-17 third down plays.
— On five drives to red zone, Seahawks scored 2 TD’s, kicked 3 FG’s. 

Rams 20, Cardinals 12:
— LA’s first three drives: 21 plays, 145 yards, 13 points.
— Rams pulled away to 20-9 lead with 75-yard drive on 8 plays
— Rams won field position by 13 yards.
— Los Angeles won 12 of last 13 series games.
— Rams are 8-0 ATS in last eight visits to Arizona.

— Out of 85 plays they ran, Cardinals had only two plays of 20+ yards.
— Arizona has been outscored 56-13 in first half this season.
— Cardinals’ first four drives: 13 plays, 22 yards, one first down, no points.
— Cardinals’ last five drives: 72 plays, 303 yards, 22 first down2, 12 points.
— Arizona is 3-7 ATS in last ten NFC West home games. 

Packers 14, Buccaneers 12:
— Packers’ first two drives: 22 plays, 146 yards, 14 points.
— Rest of game: 38 plays, 149 yards, no points.
— Green Bay is 9-4-1 ATS in last 14 games coming off a win.
— Green Bay is 11-7-2 ATS in last 20 games with spread of 3 or less.
— Last 3+ years, Packers are 9-2 ATS as a road underdog.

— Tampa scored their first TD with 0:14 left in game- the 2-point play failed.
— Bucs ran ball only 14 times for 34 yards.
— Bucs have scored only three TD’s on 32 drives.
— Tampa Bay has scored 16 points on six red zone drives.

Broncos 11, 49ers 10:
— 49ers drove 75 yards for a TD on their second drive of game.
— After that: they had 11 drives- 39 plays, 161 yards, 3 points.
— 49ers outscored first three opponents 34-3 in first half.
— 49ers are 4-8 ATS in last 12 games with spread of 3 or less.

— Broncos were +3 in turnovers (3-0).
— Denver converted 6-19 on third down, 49ers 1-10.
— Broncos have scored 18 points in seven red zone drives.
— Denver scored 16-16-11 points in first three games. 

Sunday’s Den: Wrapping up a college football Saturday

Gambling is difficult.

Last week, Eastern Michigan won 30-21 at Arizona State, as a 20-point underdog; they went out Saturday and lost 50-31 at home to Buffalo, as a 7.5-point favorite. Go figure.

Last week, Tulane (+13.5) won 17-10 at Kansas State.
Saturday, Tulane (-11.5) lost 27-24 at home to Southern Miss, while K-State went to Oklahoma and upset the Sooners, 41-34. Speaking of which…….

Kansas State 41, Oklahoma 34
K-State beats the Sooners for third time in four years.
QB Martinez ran for 148 yards, 4 TD’s; he threw for 234 yards and a TD.
Oklahoma QB Gabriel threw for 330 yards and four TD’s.

Clemson 51, Wake Forest 45 OT
Clemson led 14-0 early, trailed 28-20 with 5:00 left in 3rd quarter.
Tigers tied game on a 52-yard FG with 4:01 left.
Clemson converted 16-23 on third down, Deacons 5-12
Clemson had 10 penalties for 120 yards, lot of pass interference calls.
Wake QB Hartman threw for 337 yards and six TD’s.

Middle Tennessee State 45, Miami 31
Blue Raiders’ first-ever win over a ranked team.
MTSU led this game 24-3 in 2nd quarter.
Blue Raiders had TD passes for 71-69 yards.
I’m guessing this score doesn’t sit well with Miami’s boosters.

Texas Tech 37, Texas 34 OT
Longhorns led 24-14 at halftime.
Tech went ahead 34-31 on a 45-yard FG with 0:21 left.
Texas tied game on a 48-yard FG with 0:00 left.
Tech was 7-20 on third down, Texas 3-9.
First time Texas lost in Lubbock since 2008.

Minnesota 34, Michigan State 7
Spartans also lost 39-28 at Washington last week.
Last year, Mel Tucker signed a 10-year contract for $95M, after only three years as a head coach, when he had an 18-14 record. Now his record is 20-16.
Gophers outgained Michigan State 508-240.

Texas A&M 23, Arkansas 21
Arkansas led 14-0 after first quarter.
Aggies ran a fumble back 82 yards for a TD.
Arkansas tried a 42-yard FG with 1:30 left; it hit the top of the right upright, went straight up in the air, and fell short of the crossbar. 

Tennessee 38, Florida 33
Total yardage: 594-576, Florida
Gators had 10 penalties, for only 47 yards.
Tennessee ran 70 plays; only 9 of them were on third down.

Auburn 17, Missouri 14 OT
Mizzou missed a 26-yard FG at the gun in regulation.
Mizzou lost a fumble on the 1-yard line in overtime that ended the game.
Auburn led 14-0 in first quarter,
No one scored in second half.
Mizzou outgained Auburn, 312-217
Teams combined to convert only 7-29 on third down.

UNLV 34, Utah State 24
Rebels were a road favorite for first time in six years; they covered as a road favorite for first time since 2013. UNLV is 3-1, by the way.

Kansas 35, Duke 27— Jayhawks are 4-0 for first time since 2009; their coach won FIVE national titles in D-III. He is a really good coach; this game sold out in Lawrence.

Oregon 44, Washington State 41:
Wazzu led this game 34-22 with 4:00 left to play.
Ducks scored 22 points in 5:42, including a pick-6.
Coogs had a 95-yard pick-6 in first half. 

Oregon had three FG’s shorter than 30 yards in first half; they weren’t good in red zone.

Upsets of the Week:
— Middle Tennessee State (+26) 45, Miami 31
— Navy (+16.5) 23, East Carolina 20 OT
— UTEP (+16.5) 27, Boise State 10
— Kansas State (+13.5) 41, Oklahoma 34
— Southern Miss (+11.5) 27, Tulane 24
— UL-Monroe (+9.5) 21, UL-Lafayette 17
— Buffalo (+7.5) 50, Eastern Michigan 31
— Miami OH (+7.5) 17, Northwestern 14

I-AA Sacramento State 41, Colorado State 10

USC 17, Oregon State 14— This game was on Pac-12 Network, which I don’t have. When USC/UCLA bolt for the Big 14, will the Pac-12 Network even exist anymore?

Memo to DirecTV— I pay you a lot of $$$, Add the Pac-12 Network!!!

Troy State 16, Marshall 7— Marshall won at Notre Dame, then lost to Bowling Green and Troy, all of which makes perfect sense.

James Madison 32, Appalachian State 28
App State led 28-3 with 6:00 left in first half- they never scored again.
Teams combined to convert 6-26 third down plays.
App State’s four games (2-2) were decided by a total of 9 points.

— By the way, Sun Belt plays pretty good football; can we get more of their games on TV? 

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

Syracuse 22, Virginia 20
— Orange led 13-0 at halftime.
— Syracuse kicked 31-yard FG with 1:14 left for the win.
— Virginia had ball near midfield at the end, but lost ball on downs.
— Syracuse is off to an impressive 4-0 start; they were 11-24 last three years.

Air Force 48, Nevada 20:
— Total yardage was 541-242. Bad game.
— Air Force even threw an 80-yard TD pass.
— Air Force ran ball for 461 yards.
— Nevada is in a total rebuild; this’ll be long year for them.

Texas-El Paso 27, Boise State 10:
— Boise was favored by 16.5 points.
— Boise is now 9-7 under Andy Avalos, after going 69-19 under Bryan Harsin, and before that, 92-12 under Chris Petersen.
— Boise completed only 13-34 passes, gained total of only 177 yards.
— Big win on national TV for UTEP, which ran ball for 199 yards.

Cardinals 8, Dodgers 0— Albert Pujols hit his 699th/700th career home runs. He is the 4th big leaguer to hit 700 home runs.

Jeremy Frank posted on Twitter that Pujols’ average home trot is 26 seconds, meaning that he has spent over five hours of his life on his 700 home run trots.

This obviously wasn’t a close game; Cardinals are 12-3 on the road in games where the winning run scored from the 7th inning on.

Orioles 6, Astros 0— Baltimore won its last three games, with starting pitchers getting 80 of the 81 outs. They shut Houston out the last two nights.

— When the Astros’ win again, Dusty Baker will become the 4th manager in MLB history to win 100+ games in a season in both leagues, joining Sparky Anderson, Whitey Herzog and Tony La Russa, all Hall of Fame managers.

— Bowling Green football coach Scot Loeffler will miss Saturday’s road game at Mississippi State due to a personal health matter; he is expected to return next week for the Falcons’ game at Akron.

— Aaron Rodgers has thrown only three pick-6’s in 4,692 NFL passes; two of the three came in Tampa, where he has only played four times.

— Amon-Ra St. Brown has scored a touchdown in six straight games for the Lions. St. Brown has 9 TD’s in his last eight regular season games.

— Dodgers utility guy Hanser Alberto has pitched in nine games this season, most of any position player. He threw two innings against the Cardinals Friday.

Guardians 6, Rangers 3— Cleveland has won 16 of its last 19 games; they lead the AL Central by 8 games, with 11 games left to play. Terry Francona is a great freakin’ manager.

— If the playoffs started today (they don’t)
NL Mets, Cardinals, Dodgers. Wild Cards: Braves, Phillies, Padres
AL New York, Guardians, Astros. Wild Cards: Rays, Blue Jays, Mariners

— Wild Card races:
AL— Orioles trail Seattle by 3 games for the last playoff slot.
NL— Brewers trail San Diego by 2 games for the last playoff slot.

— Seattle looks like a tired, staggering team- they batted Jarred Kelenic 6th Friday night; the guy is hitting .142. 

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

Browns 29, Steelers 17
— Cooper caught 7 passes for 101 yards and a TD.
— Browns ran for 217-184-171 yards in first three games.
— Cleveland has converted 22-46 third down plays this year.
— Browns scored a defensive TD on last play of game; this game was lot closer than final score makes it seem.

— Steelers in 2nd half: 27 plays, 105 yards, 6 first downs, 3 points.
— Pittsburgh converted only 1-9 3rd down plays.
— Steelers were outgained 1,184-818 in first three games.
— Pittsburgh has 4 TD’s on 31 drives, with 12 3/outs.

West Virginia 33, Virginia Tech 10
— WVU outscored Tech 17-0 in fourth quarter.
— Mountaineers outgained Tech, 421-228
— Hokies ran ball 18 times for only 35 yards.
— Tech had 15 penalties for 132 yards.

Coastal Carolina 41, Georgia State 24
— Coastal threw TD passes of 50-53 yards in first 2:53 of game.
— Chanticleers outgained Georgia State, 540-309
— Last 2+ years, Chanticleers are 26-3 SU.
— Georgia State’s only 2nd half score was a 77-yard pick-6. 

— Best SU records in college football since the start of 2020:

29-2— Alabama
26-3— Coastal Carolina
25-3— Georgia
25-3— Louisiana

— As far as the Steelers are concerned, the clock has to be ticking loudly on Kenny Pickett’s NFL debut. Pittsburgh is 1-2; they were +5 in turnovers in their win, and they still needed OT and a missed PAT to win that game. Time to get the young quarterback’s feet wet.

— Cleveland WR Amari Cooper had 100+ receiving yards for the second straight game, the first Browns’ WR to do that since Josh Gordon in 2013.

— The Amazon Prime NFL broadcasts are the normal high quality stuff, I’m just confused why they chose Kirk Herbstreit as their analyst. Herbstreit does a good enough job, but he is still doing college games on Saturday. Amazon couldn’t find a former NFL player to work games?

I mean, Al Michaels is the play-by-play guy; has to be a great gig for an analyst.

— Vikings-Lions play Sunday. Minnesota backup QB David Blough spent the last three years with the Lions, and also training camp this year. He knows the Detroit offense as well as anyone, that has to be an edge for the Vikings this week, right?

— NFL schedule makers have their fun; last week, Carson Wentz/Washington plays the Jaguars and Wentz’s old coach with the Eagles, Doug Pederson. This week, Wentz plays the Eagles for the first of two meetings this season. Lot of subplots early in the season.

— 49ers’ coach Kyle Shanahan was 15 years old when his dad Mike became head coach of the Broncos; Denver won the Super Bowl in his 3rd/4th seasons with Denver, when Kyle Shanahan was graduating high school. Had to be fun times.

This week, Kyle Shanahan brings his 49ers into Denver, another good subplot.

— Boston Celtics suspended head coach Ime Udoka for the 2022-23 season, citing violations of team policies. ESPN reported that that Udoka had an intimate relationship with a female member of the Celtics’ staff.

This is way above my pay grade, but Udoka can’t possibly be the first guy to screw around on the job; he gets suspended for a year for this? They say it was a consensual relationship, so there is no crime or anything— this will cost him a few million bucks— there isn’t any guarantee that Udoka will get his job back when the suspension is over.

Celtics made the NBA Finals last year, for the first time in 12 years- that was Udoka’s first year as Boston’s head coach. Assistant coach Joe Mazzulla is the interim head coach.

— Juan Soto’s stats this year:
with Washington: 101 games, 21 homers, 46 RBI, 62 runs, .894 OPS
with San Diego: 40 games, 4 homers, 13 RBI, 25 runs, .769 OPS

He’s leading the league in walks for the second year in a row; maybe he should bat leadoff.

— Seattle star Julio Rodriguez left Thursday’s game in the first inning with lower back issues; Mariners will need him healthy if they’re going to make noise in the playoffs. 

— Brewers 5, Reds 1— Kolten Wong hit three home runs; Milwaukee is 2.5 games out of the last playoff slot with 12 days left in the season.

— A’s play the Mets this weekend; as an A’s fan, this should be a thoroughly depressing weekend. Not only are the A’s awful, Mets have three of their guys from last year’s Oakland team.

How did I become an A’s fan?, you ask. OK, you probably didn’t ask, but way back in 1965, when I was five years old, my grandparents gave me a box filled with baseball cards. Spent that day opening packs of cards and sorting them by team.

Back then, rookie cards had four prospects on the same card, with their minor league stats on the back. One of the prospects on the A’s rookie card had no minor league stats; he had been shot in the foot in a hunting accident.

Not only that, but they misspelled his name on the back of the card. I noticed this, took the card and showed it to my dad, saying “This guy is my favorite player”

What are the odds that the player would wind up in the Hall of Fame?

Jim “Catfish” Hunter became an awesome pitcher, helping the A’s win three straight World Series. Was fun to be in Cooperstown in 1987, the day he got inducted into the Hall of Fame, all because of the baseball cards I was given in 1965. 

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

13) Since 1999, only 13 NFL teams have trailed a game by 17+ points after the third quarter and rallied to win the game, which figured to have been an emotional win.

Those 13 teams went 10-3 ATS in their next game after the big comeback.

Dolphins fit that role this week; they beat the Ravens last week, after trailing 35-14 with 15:00 to play. Miami is getting 5.5 points at home from Buffalo this week.

12) I watch a ton of baseball, every day; some announce teams are great to listen to, some are fun to listen to, others…….I just hit the mute button.

The best announce teams are like two friends sitting in a room, talking about ball, and I get to eavesdrop on their conversation.

Cubs have struck gold by adding Joe Girardi to their announce team. He was a manager and he was a catcher, so he’s always had to think the game, which makes him a better analyst. Always learn stuff listening to Jon Sciambi/Girardi on Cubs’ games. 

11) Cubs 2B Esteban Quiroz is a 30-year old rookie who just got called up to the majors for the first time. Before he played in the majors, Quiroz played in 1,093 games in the minors and the Mexican League. Can you imagine how excited he was to finally get the call to The Show?

So far, Quiroz is in four big league games. 

10) Kansas City Royals fired lead baseball executive Dayton Moore Wednesday; he had been in that job since 2006. Royals won back-to-back AL pennants in 2014 and 2015, winning the World Series in 2015, but their rebuild after the World Series title has been a disaster. 

9) Detroit Tigers hired 35-year old Scott Harris as their new president of baseball operations; he comes to Detroit after three seasons in San Francisco, which followed seven years with the Chicago Cubs- he was there was the Cubs won the 2016 World Series.

Detroit hasn’t made the playoffs since 2014; they spent some more $$$ this year but they’re still awful. Tigers haven’t won the World Series since 1984. 

8) I’m wondering, with lot of NFL teams not playing their main guys in the preseason, is it a smart thing to bet games in the first couple weeks of the season? Would it be smarter to sit back and watch for 2-3 weeks before making some plays?

Under is 21-10-1 in the NFL so far; defense is head of offense right now. Way ahead. 

7) New York 14, Pittsburgh 2— Before this season, Aaron Judge turned down a contract worth $31M a year; he’s going to make way more next year.

This season, the Pirates’ entire payroll is $59,361,373. For the whole freakin’ team. 

6) If the playoffs started today (they do not):
NL: Mets, Cardinals, Dodgers. Wild Cards: Braves, Padres, Phillies
AL: New York, Guardians, Astros. Wild Cards: Blue Jays, Rays, Mariners

5) Wild card races: 

NL— Milwaukee is 2.5 games behind Philly for the last playoff spot.
AL— Orioles trail Seattle by four games; White Sox trail Seattle by 5.5 games. 

4) Iowa plays Rutgers in college football this week; why are these teams in the same league? According to MapQuest, the two schools are 992 miles apart. It makes no sense, and will make even less sense when USC/UCLA join the Big 14.

3) Dodgers’ OF Joey Gallo grew up in Las Vegas, went to Bishop Gorman HS; on the day of his high school prom, Gallo threw a no-hitter during the day, then went to the prom that night with the daughter of Hall of Fame pitcher Greg Maddux.

2) Robert Sarver has begun the process to sell the NBA’s Phoenix Suns, after the league fined and suspended him for various inappropriate conduct. Sarver bought the Suns for $400M in 2004; now they’re valued by Forbes at $1.8B. He’s going to walk away with a boatload of $$$.

1) Odds of 0-2 NFL teams to make the playoffs this year:
+110— Colts
+145— Bengals
+165— Titans
+250— Raiders
+550— Panthers

Wednesday’s Den: NFL teams and 3/outs…….

Thru two weeks, this is how NFL teams did with 3/outs, both offense and defense.
Offense:
.100— 49ers 2-20
49ers have had 20 drives, went 3/out only 2 times.
.111— Broncos 2-18
.118— Dolphins 2-17
.136— Jets 3-22
.150— Browns 3-20
.158— Eagles 3-19
.176— Packers 3-17
.188— Seahawks 3-16
.190— Chiefs 4-19
.200— Ravens 4-20
.211— Falcons 4-19
.222— Cardinals 4-18
.238— Cowboys 5-21
.250— Panthers 5-20
.261— Bengals 6-23
.263— Bills, Raiders, both 5-19
.286— Jaguars, Bucs, both 6-21
.294— Patriots 5-17
.300— Rams 6-20
.304— Colts .304
.333— Giants, Chargers both 7-21
.350— Vikings 7-20
.381— Titans, Steelers, both 8-21
.391— Lions 9-23
.400— Saints 10-25, Commanders 8-20
.409— Texans 9-22
.500— Bears 9-18

Defense
.455— Colts 10-22
.450— Eagles 9-20
.417— Bucs 10-24
.389— Packers 7-18
.350— Bills, Chiefs, both 7-20
.333— Titans, Jaguars, both 7-21, Patriots 5-15
.318— Falcons, Lions, both 7-22
.316— 49ers 6-19
.300— Browns, Chargers both 6-20
.294— Broncos, Dolphins both 5-17
.286— Giants 6-21
.263— Cowboys 5-19
.261— Bengals, Steelers, both 6-23
.250— Commanders 6-24
.238— Panthers 5-21
.222— Rams 4-22
.211— Raiders, Vikings 4-19
.200— Jets 4-20
.182— Texans 4-22
.167— Bears 3-18
.150— Cardinals 3-20
.091— Ravens
.000— Seahawks 0-18

In two games, Seattle’s defense has been on field for 18 drives, hasn’t forced a 3/out yet. 

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

Bills 41, Titans 7
— Last six quarters, Titans were outscored, 62-14.
Tennessee had a bad night:
— gave up 6 touchdowns
— lost yardage on 8 plays
— had 9 penalties
— scored only 7 points.
— turned ball over 4 times.

Titans are 0-2 for first time in ten years. 

— Buffalo outgained first two opponents, 827-430
— Last 2+ years, Buffalo is 10-5 ATS as a home favorite.
— Last 2+ years, Buffalo is 13-8 ATS coming off a win
— Bills converted 14-23 third down plays in two games

Eagles 24, Vikings 7:
— Philly outgained the Vikings, 486-264.
— Minnesota threw 46 passes, ran ball only 11 times.
— Last 4+ years, Minnesota is 13-15 ATS in games with spread of 3 or less.
— Cousins is now 2-10 on Monday Night Football. 

— Eagles converted 7-13 on third down, Vikings 4-12.
— All three of their TD drives were longer than 80 yards.
— Eagles ran ball for 216-163 yards in their first two games.
— Philly won easily despite losing field position by 17 yards.

— Thru two weeks, under is 21-10-1 in NFL games, 6-1 in prime time games. Is it too early to expect offenses to be sharp? Not playing key players in exhibition games may be setting offenses back in the first few weeks of the season.

— Tampa Bay WR Mike Evans is suspended for this week’s game with Green Bay, after he was in a fracas in New Orleans Sunday.

— When the Giants hired Brian Daboll as their new head coach, they were the sixth team Daboll had interviewed with to be head coach, which means that five other teams missed the boat. He is off to a very fast start changing the culture in New Jersey.

— 6,133 people entered the Circa Casino survivor pool; after two weeks, 2,033 people are left. Only 33.1% of contestants are left. All they have to do is pick one winner a week (no spread) but it ain’t that easy.

— Teams that have gone the longest since they were 2-0:
new Cleveland Browns- never (old Browns (now Ravens) were 2-0 in 1993)
Indianapolis Colts- 2009
Washington Commanders- 2011
Chargers- 2012

— We overreact to early season results; last year, the #1-seed in each conference, Packers and Titans, lost their Week 1 games by a combined 60 points. It is a long season; coaching matters, as does luck avoiding injuries.

— Arizona’s Zac Gallen recently tossed 44 consecutive scoreless innings, setting the franchise record. The previous record holder was Brandon Webb in 2007, who had a 41-inning streak; in his great streak, Webb struck out only 35 batters.

Odd coincidence is that both Webb/Gallen was/is on my fantasy team, luckily for me.

— In his start against the Pirates Sunday, Jacob deGrom threw 101 pitches; only six of those pitches were put in play, and four of those were hits. He got 20 called strikes, 20 swinging strikes, 22 foul balls. 

— deGrom’s Mets clinched a playoff spot Monday night; Buck Showalter has now led four teams to the playoffs- both New York teams, Arizona and Baltimore.

— There was a I-AA football game on TV Saturday, Albany at Fordham. Fordham’s mascot is the Ram, but for some reason, Fordham just has dark red helmets with a black F on them, no Rams’ horns, which seems like a wasted opportunity to have awesome helmets.

Fordham won the game 48-45; it looked like Arena Football, not much defense.

— Arizona State fired football coach Herm Edwards after the Sun Devils lost as a 20-point home favorite to Eastern Michigan Saturday night.

— So far this football season, Pac-12 teams are 6-2 ATS against Mountain West opponents; the past couple seasons, Mountain West teams have had the edge ATS in those games.

— Braves’ 2B Ozzie Albies came back from an injury last week, then broke his pinky finger the next day, bad news for Atlanta.

— In the great TV show M*A*S*H, Alan Alda (Hawkeye Pierce) was the only cast member who appeared in every episode. 

Wednesday’s Den: How MLB teams have fared in close games……

Looking at how teams do in games where winning run scored from 7th inning on:
Successful teams
— Toronto 26-14— 14-9 on road, 12-5 at home. Blue Jays fired their manager, have an interim skipper now- they’re 29-17 in one-run games.

— Cleveland 27-15— 16-8 on road, 11-7 at home; Terry Francona is an excellent manager.

— St Louis 22-12— 11-3 on road, 11-9 at home. Cardinals are 21-14 in one-run games.

— Dodgers 20-12— LA is 12-13 in 0ne-run games, 85-30 in games decided by more than one run. If you bet the Dodgers, lay 1.5 runs.

— Baltimore 20-13— 5-9 on road, 15-4 at home. Brandon Hyde is your Manager of the Year.

— White Sox 25-18— 9-9 on road, 16-9 at home; they’re 23-15 in one-run games.

— Milwaukee 23-17— 14-12 on road, 9-5 at home. Lot more drama in their road games.

— Seattle 24-18— Mariners were 33-19 in one-run games last year, are 29-17 this year; Scott Servais is going to have Seattle in the playoffs for the first time since 2001.

Team in the middle:
— Bronx 23-23— 7-14 on road, 16-9 at home.

Unsuccessful teams
— Angels 11-23— 5-10 on road, 6-13 at home; they’re 14-25 in one-run games. Firing Joe Maddon didn’t help their situation any.

— Minnesota 12-24— 4-13 on road, 8-11 at home; they’re 2-8 in last 10 games overall.

— San Francisco 13-23— 7-16 on road, 6-7 at home. 19-26 in one-run games. Overall, they’re 68-73, after going 107-55 last year.

— Oakland 14-23— 8-9 on road, 6-14 at home. I think Mark Kotsay has done a good job, managing a team which has, in reality, a glorified AAA roster.

— Boston 15-23— 8-13 on road, 7-10 at home; they’re 22-23 in one-run games, but overall are 69-72, after going 92-70 last year.

— Cubs 19-27— 9-13 on road, 10-14 at home; Chicago is a big market. Why do the Cubs have such a cruddy team? 71-91 last year, 59-82 this year. Hmmmmm

Tuesday’s Den: My 13 favorite movies……..

13) The Fabulous Baker Boys— Two struggling musicians, who are brothers, team up with a beautiful, up-and-coming singer, who revitalizes their careers. Michelle Pfeiffer is the singer; Jeff/Beau Bridges are the two brothers. 

12) Bull Durham— Susan Sarandon is a minor league baseball groupie; Kevin Costner is a journeyman catcher brought in to mentor the team’s young pitching prospect. Durham Bulls were a Class A farm club when this movie was made (1988); they’re a AAA team now. 

11) Major League— The new owner of the Cleveland Indians puts together a horrible team on purpose so they’ll lose and she can move the team to Miami, but it is the movies, so of course, they win the pennant. 

Couple of things:
— Moving a ball club to Miami turned out to be a terrible idea in real life.
— Bob Uecker steals the show in this movie as the team’s radio announcer. 

10) Prince of Tides— A high school football coach from the South (Nick Nolte) talks to his suicidal sister’s psychiatrist (Barbra Streisand) in New York City about their family history and, because it is the movies, they fall in love. George Carlin has a pretty good cameo as a neighbor of the psychiatrist.

9) Cousins— Ted Danson plays a dance instructor in a failing relationship who meets a woman (Isabella Rossellini) at a family wedding and they become great friends- her husband isn’t amused. Lloyd Bridges is excellent as Danson’s father. William Peterson played the unhappy car salesman/husband.

Danson/Peterson both wound being the star of CSI, at different times. Cousins ends with the happy couple literally sailing off into the sunset. 26 years later, in the last scene of CSI, William Peterson/Jorja Fox also sail off into the sunset, a very similar scene. 

8) The Bodyguard— A former Secret Service agent takes the job of a famous singer’s bodyguard,  whose lifestyle is a lot different than a President’s.

Of the 13 movies on this list, Robert Wuhl has a small role in three of them; he plays the host of the Academy Awards in this movie. He was a pitching coach in Bull Durham, and a basketball recruiting guru in Blue Chips. 

7) Leap of Fsith— A huckster faith healer (Steve Martin) is stranded with his entourage in a small Midwestern town that is going thru tough times financially, because of a drought. He decides to set up camp in the town for a few days and put on some shows to make money.

Liam Neeson is the town’s sheriff; Debra Winger, Meat Loaf and Philip Seymour Hoffman are part of his entourage. 

6) Last Vegas— Four longtime friends take a break from their day-to-day lives to throw a bachelor party in Las Vegas for their last remaining bachelor friend. Morgan Freeman, Robert DeNiro, Michael Douglas, Kevin Kline; tremendous cast. Mary Steenburgen is a singer in Binion’s Casino who becomes friends with the group. 

5) A Star Is Born— A famous musician helps a young singer find fame/fortune as age and alcoholism ruin his own career; this is the fourth time this movie has been made.

Andrew Dice Clay adds to the movie as Lady Gaga’s father; the guitarist in Bradley Cooper’s band is Lukas Nelson, whose dad is Willie Nelson.

This Lady Gaga/Bradley Cooper version is very similar to the 1954 version, with Judy Garland, James Mason. The 1976 movie, with Barbra Streisand/Kris Kristofferson, was a lot different. 

4) Rounders— A young gambler plays big stakes poker to help a friend pay off loan sharks, while balancing his relationship with his girlfriend and his commitments to law school. Every movie star who gambles in the movies comes out ahead, except for Mark Wahlberg in The Gambler, who is very grateful to wind up even.

3) Moneyball— Would be ranked higher if the A’s won at the end, or in the beginning; oh well. This is the story of how Oakland GM Billy Beane put together a baseball team on a small budget by using computer-generated analysis to evaluate players.

I was lucky enough to meet Michael Lewis, who wrote the book Moneyball, in 2004. Nice guy. 

2) Blue Chips— A college basketball coach is forced to break the rules in order to get the players he needs to stay competitive; two of the players he recruits are played by Shaquille O’Neal and Penny Hardaway. Jerry Tarkanian/Dick Vitale/Jim Boeheim have cameos. Nick Nolte spent some time with the Indiana Hoosiers to prep for this role. 

Basketball scenes were filmed in a high school gym in Indiana; they have some really nice high school gyms in Indiana. 

1) American Underdog— What did you think I would have at #1? This is the story of Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner, who went from stocking shelves at a supermarket to becoming a football star, leading the Rams to a Super Bowl title.

Seriously, this movie was better than I thought it would be; it is a great story, but they avoided making the movie too sappy.