Thursday’s Den: How NFL offenses do on long drives

Points per possession, on drives starting 75 yards from the goal line:

Chiefs 191 points on 72 drives— 2.65 ppp
Browns 2.51
Bills 2.38
Bengals 2.37
Cowboys 2.36
Ravens 2.30
Seahawks 2.28
Vikings 2.26
Eagles 2.19

Dolphins 1.99
Raiders 1.94
49ers 1.88
Falcons 1.84
Packers 1.79
Saints 1.68
Giants 1.67
Jaguars/Chargers 1.64
Buccaneers 1.62

Lions 1.59
Patriots 1.58
Bears 1.51
Cardinals 1.49
Titans 1.46
Commanders 1.45
Texans 1.34
Jets 1.27

Broncos 1.23
Panthers 1.19
Steelers 1.10
Rams 1.03
Colts 0.81

If a team gives up a defensive/special teams TD on one of these drives, they lose 7 points, which hurt the Rams’/Colts’ ppp.

Why is this important? Sometimes, teams score lot of points because takeaways/special teams create short fields for the offense. This metric measures an offense’s ability to drive the length of the field, and score on its own. 

New England has only 57 of these drives, seven less than any other team; they generally win the field position battle, and have good special teams, not necessarily good offense. 

Wednesday’s Den: Mid-week musings……..

— If you’re running the Green Bay Packers, what do you do with your 4-8 team? 

Do you still play 38-year old Aaron Rodgers, who hurt his oblique Sunday night and is also playing with a broken bone in his hand?

Or do you do play 3rd-year QB Jordan Love, their first round pick in 2020? At some point, they need to decide whether to sign Love to a new contract; this is his third year. The decision has to be made after the 2023 season; the way Love played Sunday night in Philly, his services will be in demand when the time comes.

Interesting decision, when to say goodbye to a legend.

— Virginia 70, Michigan 68
Michigan led by 11 early in second half.
Slow-paced game, only 62 possessions.
Virginia was 12-19 on foul line, Michigan 8-10. In Ann Arbor.

— Marquette 96, Baylor 70
Impressive performance by the 5.5-point home underdog.
Marquette led 51-25 at halftime. 51-25.
Marquette scored 1.39 points/possession, shooting 12-25 on the arc.

— Clemson 101, Penn State 94, 2OT
Penn State led by 10 late in first half.
Clemson led by 10 with 7:22 left in game.
Clemson was 11-21 on the arc, Penn State 11-36.

— Missouri 88, Wichita State 84, OT
Wichita led by 10 with 5:15 left; they were 6-14 on foul line.
Shockers turned ball over 20 times, Missouri 8.

— Illinois 73, Syracuse 44
Syracuse is 3-4, with losses to Colgate/Bryant. Not good. 

— Was going to post some notes about college quarterbacks transferring, but then I remembered that a lot of backup QB’s transfer. A twist of the old Garry Templeton line: “If I ain’t starting, then I’ll be departing”

Michigan has a shot at the national title this year, but backup QB Cade McNamara is gone to the transfer portal. He has two years of eligibility left; he is from Reno, would Nevada be an option?

— San Diego Toreros are 5-3 this year under new coach Steve Lavin, who went 226-133 in 12 years at UCLA/St John’s. He made the NCAA’s six times in seven years at UCLA, twice in five years at St John’s.

San Diego is a much tougher job; Toreros haven’t been in NCAA’s since 2008, but the weather is really nice. Lavin did a TV gig in between his coaching stops; I enjoyed his work- he seems like a genuinely nice person. Hope the Toreros win lot of games the next few years.

— Detroit Mercy guard Antoine Davis is in his fifth year of college ball; he’s scored 2,897 points in his career, is a lock to become the 11th player ever to score 3,000 points.

Odd fact: when he gets to #11 on the all-time list, it’ll mean that three of the top 11 scorers ever played for their father in college. Mike Davis coaches in Detroit; Pete Maravich and Doug McDermott also played for their dads in college, at LSU/Creighton.

— UAB is expected to hire former NFL QB Trent Dilfer as its new football coach; he spent the last four years coaching high school ball in Tennessee, going 38-8.

Dilfer played 14 years in the NFL for five different teams; he won a Super Bowl with the 2000 Ravens, later made a Pro Bowl with Tampa Bay. He worked as an analyst for ESPN and FOX before he took on the coaching gig in Nashville.

— San Francisco 49ers outscored their last four opponents 54-0 in the second half.

In their last eight games, Dallas Cowboys outscored opponents 130-45 in second half.

— Minnesota Timberwolves’ star Karl Anthony Towns is out 4-6 weeks with a calf injury.

— So far this season, there have been six times where a team played Lakers/Clippers back/back at the Crypto com Arena (Staples Center). Either back/back nights or two games in three nights. 

First game, the visiting team is 4-2 ATS; all six games stayed under the total. 

Second game, the visiting team is 1-5 ATS; five of the six games went over.

— Washington Nationals signed two free agents:
Jeimer Candelario, a 29-year old 3B who played seven years for Detroit.
Stone Garrett, a 27-year old OF who hit .276 in 27 games for Arizona LY.

— Hugh Freeze’s move to Auburn is vaguely similar to Ed Orgeron’s hiring by LSU.

Orgeron coached Ole Miss from 2005-07, going 10-25, 3-21 in SEC games.
Freeze coached Ole Miss from 2012-16, going 39-25, 19-21 SEC games.

Orgeron moved on to the Saints, Tennessee Vols, USC and finally to LSU; he went 6-2 as interim coach at USC, after Lane Kiffin was fired in 2013.
Freeze went off the grid for two years, then surfaced at Liberty, where he went 34-15 in four years, rehabilitating his career. His QB last year was Malik Willis, who is now a rookie with the Tennessee Titans.

Orgeron went 51-20 at LSU, 31-17 in SEC games; he won the national title in 2019, with Joe Burrow as his QB.
Will Freeze be able to match Orgeron’s success at his second SEC stop? 

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

— If you care about such things, some quick NBA betting trends. Here are teams’ records when they play the second night of a back/back so far this season:

Road teams who were home last night: 6-6-1 ATS
Road teams who were also on road last night: 20-17 ATS
Home teams who were also  at home last night: 11-7-1 ATS
Home teams who were on road last night: 10-13-1 ATS

— Matt Rhule’s 8-year contract to coach football at Nebraska will pay him $74M, with 90% of it ($66.6M or so) guaranteed. Is this a great country or what?

Here are the highest paid NFL coaches:
$12M— Bill Belichick
$11M— Pete Carroll
$9M— John Harbaugh
$8.5M— Sean McVay
$8M— Andy Reid
$8M— Mike Tomlin

How on God’s green earth does Ruhle get paid more than all but three NFL head coaches?

Random fact: Carolina Panthers are 3-4 SU/5-2 ATS since they fired Rhule; they were 1-4 when they fired him.

— College football is wacky; here are some SEC coaches’ salaries:
$11.7M— Nick Saban
$11.25M— Kirby Smart
$9.5M— Jimbo Fisher
$9.5M— Brian Kelly
$9M— Lane Kiffin

Texas A&M had a lousy year this year, so Jimbo fired his offensive coordinator Monday— would be way too expensive for the school to fire Jimbo, so the OC became a scapegoat.

Steelers 24, Colts 17
— Steelers led 16-3 at halftime.
— Colts rallied to lead 17-16 after three quarters.
— Steelers drove 75 yards for game-winning TD early in 4th.
— Steelers ran ball for 172 yards (4.8 yards/carry).
— Steelers have no turnovers (+13) in their wins, 14 (-8) in losses.

— Colts drove to Pittsburgh 26 on last drive, were stopped on downs.
— Steelers converted 7-14 on third down, Colts 3-12.
— Trailing 16-10, Colts lost fumble on the Steelers’ 1-yard line.
— Colts lost five of their last six games SU.
— Underdogs covered nine of their 12 games.  

— Colts’ coach Jeff Saturday already holds one record; most NFL games played in by a guy who later became a head coach (211).

— Cleveland Browns visit Houston this week, with QB Deshaun Watson active for the first time this season, playing against his old team. Good theater by the NFL; you don’t see a lot of 11-game suspensions. 

Watson was 29-27 as the Texans’ QB, but his off-field issues sent him packing; Houston made the playoffs twice in Watson’s three years as the full-time starter, but he hasn’t played in a regular season game since 2020.

— Watson’s old team is terrible; last two games, Texans trailed 20-0/30-0 at halftime.

— Washington Commanders have an odd schedule: they visit the Giants Sunday, then have a bye week, then play the Giants again in Week 15.

— Eagles ran for 363 yards against Green Bay Sunday night, which made me wonder; what is the record for rushing yards in an NFL game?

Back in 1950, the Giants ran for 423 yards in a 55-20 win over the Colts; Bengals ran for 407 yards in a 2000 game against Denver.

— Minnesota Vikings are 9-2; only one of their wins was by more than 8 points- their two losses were 24-7/40-3.

— Baltimore Ravens’ kicker Justin Tucker is the best kicker ever. 

— David Shaw is out as Stanford’s football coach; he went 96-54 coaching Stanford, 65-40 in Pac-12 games. The last four years, Stanford was only 14-28.

Shaw didn’t get fired, he resigned; am guessing he pops up on TV next year, seeing how he was an analyst on the NFL Draft the last few years.

— Auburn signed High Freeze to a 6-year deal, worth $6.5M a year; Freeze was 39-25 as head coach at Ole Miss (19-21 in SEC games), then 34-15 at Liberty. 

— 32-year old Kenny Dillingham was named Arizona State’s new football coach; he is the first ASU alum to coach the Sun Devils. This season, he was offensive coordinator and QB coach for the Oregon Ducks.

— UNLV fired football coach Marcus Arroyo; Rebels went 5-7 this year, after going 2-10 last year. When a school has a new president and athletic director, the coach better win, or else they bring in their own people, to try and make a splash.

UNLV is a tough football job; they haven’t been to a bowl game since 2013, and before that, their last bowl was in 2000. Curious to see who they hire as their new coach.

— Former Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell signed a 7-year, $50M contract to be the new football coach at Wisconsin. Badgers just fired a guy who was 67-26, 43-18 in league games, so they have big expectations. 

Cincinnati is moving from the AAC to the Big X, which is a much deeper pond than the AAC.

— This year is the first time ever that Texas Tech beat Texas/Oklahoma in the same season.

— Houston Cougars are #1 in the college basketball poll, for the first time since 1983, the Phi Slamma Jamma era.

— Houston Astros signed 1B Jose Abreu to a 3-year deal; he will turn 36 in January, but is an upgrade at 1B over Yuli Gurriel.

— Maryland has mobile sports betting now; they had 16.5M wagers placed Thanksgiving weekend, compared to 8.5M in Virginia, 6.7M in Indiana, 6.6M in Tennessee, and 3.8M in Colorado. New Jersey had 17.1M wagers placed overt the weekend.

— Struck gold with late-night TV over the weekend; HLN, a station I didn’t even know about, ran a 4-day marathon of The West Wing, one of the best TV shows ever, so that was fun. I’m usually watching CSI or Law and Order re-runs late at night, or replays of ballgames. 

Monday’s Den: Wrapping up an NFL Sunday

Browns 23, Buccaneers 17 OT
— Bucs’ last seven drives: 32 plays, 95 yards, no points.
— With Brady, Tampa Bay is 5-8 ATS as a road favorite.
— Nine of eleven Tampa Bay games stayed under the total.
— Buccaneers are 1-7-1 ATS in their last nine games.
— Tampa Bay is 5-1 allowing less than 20 points, 0-5 giving up 20+.

— Browns drove 46 yards, tied game on TD with 0:32 left in regulation.
— Browns drove 71 yards, scored TD to win game with 0:24 left in OT.
— Cleveland ran ball for 189 yards (5.6 yards/carry).
— Browns averaged only 4.3 yards/pass play.
— Cleveland has outgained nine of 11 opponents, but they’re 4-7.

Jaguars 28, Ravens 27
— Baltimore led 19-10 with 7:00 left in game.
— Ravens led by 9+ points in all four of their losses TY.
— Ravens kicked FG’s of 24-27-29 yards; poor in red zone.
— Jackson threw for 254 yards, ran for 89 more.
— Six of last eight Raven games were decided by 5 or fewer points.

— Down 27-20, Jaguars scored TD, got 2-point conversion with 0:14 left.
— Jaguars are 3-0 ATS as a home underdog this year.
— Jaguars averaged 7.2 yards/pass attempt, their 3rd-best average this year.
— Zay Jones caught 11 passes for 145 yards.
— Last three games, Jacksonville outscored foes 45-25 in 2nd half.

Panthers 23, Broncos 10
— Broncos averaged 3.3 yards/pass attempt.
— Denver lost seven of its last eight games SU.
— Broncos scored 16 or fewer points in nine of 11 games.
— Ten of eleven Denver games stayed under the total. 
— Last five games, Denver was outscored 69-33 in second half.  

— Panthers haven’t allowed a TD in first half of last three games.
— Carolina ran ball for 185 yards, averaged 8.6 yards/pass attempt.
— Panthers are 4-1 ATS as a home underdog this year.
— Carolina has converted only 39-144 (27.1%) third down plays.
— Panthers covered five of their last six games.

Commanders 19, Falcons 13
— Falcons had ball on 4-yard line in last minute, but threw INT in end zone.
— Atlanta is 5-11 ATS last 16 games coming off a win (2-3 TY).
— Last three games, Falcons converted 9-30 third down plays. 
— Commanders had 10-yard edge in field position.
— Falcons are 1-4 SU on the road, winning at Seattle in Week 3.

— Washington won six of last seven games (6-0-1 ATS).
— Heinicke is 5-1 as Commanders’ QB this season.
— Washington is 4-0 ATS as a favorite this season.
— Eight of their last ten games stayed under the total.
— Commanders are 14-6-1 ATS last 21 games coming off a win.

Bengals 20, Titans 16
— Bengals’ first three drives: 13 plays, 21 yards, 2 first downs.
— Bengals rest of game: 54 plays, 339 yards, 20 points.
— Bengals are 7-1 when they score 20+ points. 
— Cincinnati won seven of its last nine games (8-1 ATS).
— Cincy is 4-1 ATS this season coming off a win.

— Bengals held Derrick Henry to 38 yards on 17 carries.
— Titans’ three red zone drives: 2 FG’s, one missed FG (35 yards)
— Tennessee held last nine opponents under their team total.
— Seven of last eight Titan games stayed under the total.
— Titans have been outscored 120-62 in second half.

Dolphins 30, Texans 15
— Houston ran ball 14 times for 36 yards. Not good.
— Texans converted 2-13 on 3rd down (29.4% last five games)
— Texans are 7-12 ATS in last 19 games as a road underdog.
— Texans lost nine of their last ten games SU (2-7 ATS last nine).
— Texans are 0-6 SU/1-5 ATS since their bye week, giving up 27.1 ppg.

— Dolphins led this game 30-0 at halftime.
— Miami scored defensive TD, had a 3-yard TD drive set up by an INT.
— Dolphins in first half: 46 plays, 284 yards, 23 points.
— Dolphins in first half: 29 plays, 69 yards, no points.
— Dolphins are 7-0 if they score more than 17 points.

Jets 31, Bears 10
— Bears’ first two drives: 18 plays, 142 yards, 10 points.
— Bears rest of game: 38 plays, 212 yards, no points.
— Chicago is 4-10-1 ATS in last 15 games as a road underdog (1-5-1 TY).
— Last five games, Bears allowed 34.6 ppg.
— Chicago lost five in row, eight of its last nine games SU (2-6-1 ATS).
— With Fields hurt, backup QB Siemian played whole game.

— Mike White was 22-28/315 with 315 passing yards in first ’22 start.
— Jets outgained Chicago 466-292.
— Jets won/covered six of their last eight games.
— Jets held seven of last eight opponents under their team total.
— Jets are 6-0 scoring 20+ points, 1-4 scoring less than 20.

Raiders
40, Seahawks 34 OT
— Jacobs ran 86 yards for the game-winning TD in OT.
— Las Vegas drove 75 yards for game-tying TD with 1:54 left.
— Raiders outgained Seattle, 576-372.
— Last 10 games, Raiders’ opponent is 8-1-1 against its team total.
— Raiders are 14-7 ATS last 21 games as a road underdog.

— Geno Smith was 27-37/328 passing, with two TD’s.
— Seahawks had an 11-yard edge in field position.
— Las Vegas converted 8-14 on 3rd down, Seahawks 3-9.
— Last seven weeks, Seattle is 27-78 (34.6%) on 3rd down conversions.
— Seattle is 1-4 when it allows 27+ points, 5-1 when it allows less than 27.  

Chargers 25, Cardinals 24
— Down 24-17, Chargers scored TD, got 2-point conversion with 0:15 left.
— Chargers averaged only 4.8 yards/pass attempt.
— Bolts had an 11-yard edge in field position.
— Chargers are +7 in turnovers in their wins, minus-4 in losses. 
— Chargers are 5-1 giving up less than 27 points, 1-4 if they give up 27+.

— Arizona lost 10 of its last 11 home games SU.
— Cardinals lost six of their last eight games overall.
— Arizona’s last four drives: 11 plays, 16 yards, no first downs.
— Last six Arizona games went over the total.
— Arizona is 2-8 when it scores less than 29 points.

Chiefs 26, Rams 10
— Last two years, Rams are 0-7 SU in November.
— LA’s longest play of the game was 16 yards.
— Rams averaged 3.0 yards/pass attempt.
— Rams lost four in row, six of last seven games.
— Rams are 3-1 scoring 20+ points, 0-7 when they score less. 

— Score is misleading; Chiefs outgained LA, 437-198.
— Chiefs won five in row, seven of last eight games (5-3 ATS).
— Chiefs were in red zone on six drives, only scored 19 points.
— Under is 6-1 in their home games.
— Last six weeks, Chiefs converted 54-89 (60.7%) third down plays.

49ers 13, Saints 0
— Saints were shut out for first time since 2001.
— Saints in first half: 21 plays, 104 yards, 4 first downs, no points.
— Last 4 games, Saints have 5 plays of 20+ yards (opponents have 16).
— Saints are 4-3 scoring 24+ points, 0-5 when they score less.
— NO is 0-3 ATS as a road dog TY, after going 10-2 from 2018-21.

— Saints were in red zone on last two drives (lost fumble/stopped on downs)
— 49ers’ only TD came on a 57-yard drive in second quarter.
— San Francisco won its last four games (3-1 ATS).
— 49ers outscored last four opponents 57-0 in second half.
— Last four games, 49ers converted 33-64 on third down.

Eagles 40, Packers 33
— Eagles scored TD’s on three of first four drives.
— Philly ran ball 49 times for 363 yards. 363 freakin’ yards.
— Eagles have 38 touchdowns on 107 drives this season. 
— Eagles converted 8-15 on third down, Packers 1-7.
— Under Sirianni, Philly is 8-1 ATS as a home favorite (4-1 TY)

— Packers lost seven of their last eight games SU.
— Eagles led 27-20 at halftime.
— Last eight weeks, Green Bay gave up 171.3 rushing yards/game.
— Rodgers left in third quarter with an oblique injury.
— Jordan Love’s two drives: 11 plays, 113 yards, 10 points. Hmmmm…..

— Alabama 103, North Carolina 101, 4 OT’s
Crimson Tide shot 16-38 on the arc.
Tar Heels led by 8 with 8:56 left in regulation, also by 6 in third overtime.
Two subs played 40+ minutes for Alabama. 

Sunday’s Den: Wrapping up a sports Saturday…….

— This may come in handy when the bowl pairings are announced; conference records in games played outside their conference.

Best records ATS:
Big X 16-5-1 (5-1 as an underdog)
SEC 26-12-1 (22-8-1 as a favorite)
Sun Belt 17-13-2
Pac-12 12-10 (7-3 as an underdog)

Worst records ATS:
MAC 11-18-2 (0-3 as a favorite)
ACC 12-18-2 (3-8 as an underdog)
American 12-17 (4-10 as a favorite)
Mountain West 10-16 (8-5 as an underdog)

South Carolina 31, Clemson 30
Gamecocks end 7-game losing streak in this rivalry.
Clemson led 30-21 with 4:00 left in third quarter.
Carolina QB Rattler was 25-39/360 with two TD passes
Clemson QB Uiagalelei was 8-29/99 passing.

Michigan 45, Ohio State 23
Buckeyes led 20-17 at halftime.
Michigan averaged 11.1 yards/pass attempt, 21.4 yards/completion.
Wolverines won last two meetings, after losing previous eight series games.
9th year in a row this game went over the total.

Oregon State 38, Oregon 34
Ducks led 34-17 with 14:00 left in game.
Oregon State completed only 6-13 passes the whole game, for 60 yards.
Beavers were also minus-3 in turnovers; they ran ball for 268 yards.
Beavers beat Oregon for just third time in last 15 series games.

Texas Tech 51, Oklahoma 48 OT
Oklahoma led 17-0 early in second quarter.
Tech kicked a 43-yard FG with 0:03 left to force OT
Sooners outgained Tech, 672-599
Oklahoma finishes regular season 6-6.

TCU 62, Iowa State 14
Horned Frogs have five wins by 8 or less points; this isn’t one of them.
12-0 TCU heads to the Big X title game next weekend.

Upsets of the Week:
South Carolina (+14) 31, Clemson 30
Tulsa (+12) 37, Houston 30
Texas A&M (+10) 38, LSU 23
Nebraska (+10) 24, Iowa 13
West Virginia (+8.5) 24, Oklahoma State 19
Michigan (+7.5) 45, Ohio State 23
NC State (+6.5) 30, North Carolina 27 OT

Texas A&M 38, LSU 23
Aggies converted 10-15 on third down, LSU 4-11
A&M ran ball for 274 yards (5.5 yards/carry)

Central Florida 46, South Florida 39
Kid on UCF made a great catch in end zone with 0:20 left for the win.
Central Florida led 31-7 with 8:00 left in third quarter.
Knights ran for 345 yards, converted 10-12 on third down.

Tex-San Antonio 34, UTEP 31
Miners led 31-14 with 10:00 left in third quarter.
Roadrunners threw TD passes of 65-70 yards, also scored on a pick-6.
UTSA is 10-2; they were outgained 498-458, but was +2 in turnovers.

Western Kentucky 32, Florida Atlantic 31 OT
Hilltoppers went for 2 points and got it after their TD in overtime.
WKU’s QB Reed was 28-52/410 with three TD passes.
Hilltoppers are 8-5, will go bowling.

Georgia Southern 51, Appalachian State 48 OT
App State outgained Eagles 629-487, ran ball for 376 yards.
Georgia Southern threw for 385 yards; they’re bowl eligible now.
Eagles are 3-2 SU in last five meetings; they were underdog in all five.

East Carolina 49, Temple 46
Pirates threw a 38-yard TD pass with 1:11 left for the win.
EJ Warner was 45-63/527 with five TD passes for Temple.
East Carolina is 7-5, will go bowling.

Bryant 73, Syracuse 72
Bryant was up 11 at halftime, by 13 with 13:05 left.
There was a scuffle in this game, multiple ejections.
Teams had last met two years ago; Syracuse won, 85-84.

TCU 79, Iowa 66
Horned Frogs shot 60% inside the arc.
This was TCU’s first game against a team in the top 200.
Iowa shot 3-17 on the arc. 

Saturday’s Den: Wrapping up a busy couple days………

Bills 28, Lions 25
— Buffalo drove 48 yards, kicked 45-yard FG with 0:02 left for the win.
— Bills are 4-2 SU on road, with wins by 21-4-3-3 points (2-4 ATS).
— Allen threw his 4th red zone INT, most in the league.
— Bills ran ball for 164 yards (5.7 yards/carry).
— Buffalo has 58 plays of 20+ yards (opponents 45)

— Loss snaps Detroit’s 3-game winning streak.
— Under Campbell, Lions are 7-20-1 SU, 20-9-1 ATS.
— Last four games, Detroit opponents converted 34-63 on 3rd down.
— Badgley missed a 29-yard FG wide left in third quarter.
— St Brown caught nine passes for 122 yards and a TD.

Cowboys 28, Giants 20
— Giants lost three of last four games, after a 6-1 start.
— Giants converted 3-11 on third down, Dallas 7-11.
— Giants are still 8-3 ATS this season.
— Last two games, Barkley was held to 61 yards on 26 carries.
— Giants are 22-11 ATS in last 33 games as a road underdog (3-1 TY).

— Dallas trailed 13-7 at halftime.
— First 3 drives of 2nd half: 30 plays, 199 yards, 21 points.
— Cowboys won eight of their last ten games (7-3 ATS).
— Last five games, Dallas scored 21 TD’s on 50 drives.
— Lamb caught six passes for 106 yards.

Vikings 33, Patriots 26
— Vikings outscored New England 10-0 in fourth quarter.
— Nwangwu ran a kickoff back 97 yards for a Minnesota TD.
— Jefferson caught nine passes for 139 yards and a TD.
— Vikings won eight of last nine games (6-2-1 ATS).
— Despite being 9-2, Vikings have outscored foes by only 262-257.

— Game was tied 16-16 at halftime.
— New England is 6-0 giving up 17 or less points, 0-5 giving up 20+.
— Patriots’ last three games: 3 TD’s, 11 FGA’s, 13 3/outs on 34 drives.
— New England converted 3-10 on third down, Vikings 8-15.
— Last six games, Patriots ran ball for only 84.7 yards/game.

Elsewhere in the world………
Why are all these pre-conference tournaments important? Nine of last 11 national champs won an in-season tournament- they’re a good indicator of talent/chemistry/depth.

Tennessee 64, Kansas 50
Vols win Battle for Atlantis, giving up 53.7 ppg in the three games.
Tennessee survived 24 turnovers, made 12-27 on the arc.
Tennessee is forcing turnovers 27.8% of time (#10).

Purdue 84, Gonzaga 66
Purdue outrebounded Gonzaga 46-31
Zags split their first four games vs top 30 teams (4-2 overall)
Boilers advance to play UConn in the finals Sunday

— Tough day for Tar Heel fans:
NC State 30, North Carolina 27 OT
Tar Heels scored TD on last play of regulation to force OT.
Tar Heels missed a 35-yard FG in overtime that ended the game.
UNC converted only 5-20 on 3rd down, but was 3-3 on 4th down.

Iowa State 70, North Carolina 65
Caleb Grill scored 31 points, making 7-11 on the arc.
Tar Heels made 3-18 on arc, after making 11-22 on Thursday.
Right now, UNC is #362 out of 363 teams in bench minutes.

Portland 83, Villanova 71
Wildcats went 9-41 on the arc; no bueno.
Villanova is 2-4 in the first year of Jay Wright’s retirement.
Portland is #25 in country in continuity; they shot 23-56 on arc last two days.

UConn 82, Alabama 67
Huskies outscored Alabama 32-19 over the last 10:00
UConn was +9 in turnovers (21-12)

Bellarmine upset Louisville in its opener, but overall the Knights are 2-4 in their third season as a D-I team. The accountants are happy though; their schedule so far:

W67-66 at Louisville (crosstown trip)
L55-62 at Morehead State
W86-46 over Campbellsville, a non-D-I game
L66-76 at Clemson
L57-74 at Duke
L80-59 at Loyola Marymount— they play at UCLA Sunday.

Bellarmine doesn’t play a D-I team at home until December 10 vs Murray State.

— College hoop teams that have played the hardest schedule so far:
Robert Morris
NC-Wilmington
Oral Roberts
Bethune-Cookman
Southern Utah
Michigan State

— College hoop teams that have played the easiest schedule so far:
TCU
Denver
Fordham
Missouri
Marshall
Hawai’i

— Pittsburgh Pirates gave 1B Carlos Santana a one-year deal for $6.7M; with the shift being banned now, Santana’s production is expected to improve. It better improve; he hit .202 last year.214/.199 the two years before that.

— Nebraska Cornhuskers are said to be eyeing former Carolina Panthers’ coach Matt Rhule to be their new football coach. Rhule did a great job at Temple before trying his hand at the NFL, which didn’t go as well.

Tulane 27, Cincinnati 24
Green Wave is 10-2, will host the AAC championship game.
Tulane drove 75 yards, threw 30-yard TD pass to win game with 5:10 left.
Cincinnati had to play its backup QB; he was 10-26/102 passing.

Florida State 45, Florida 38
Seminoles outscored Florida 17-0 in third quarter.
Neither QB completed half his passes.
Gators had touchdown plays of 52-43-45 yards.

Missouri 29, Arkansas 27
Razorbacks led 21-20 at halftime.
Mizzou ran ball for 226 yards, threw ball for 242 yards.
Tigers are now bowl eligible.

Boise State 42, Utah State 23— Talk about bad beats, this was one of the worst I’ve seen in a long time. Boise State was favored by 16.5 points; with 1:20 left, they lead only 28-23, but Taylen Green runs 91 yards for a TD to make the score 35-23.

38 seconds later, Boise scores again, on a pick-6, to cover the spread. If you took Utah State and the 16.5 points, the betting gods owe you one. 

Friday’s Den: NBA trends…….

NBA trends (thru November 24)

Hawks (11-7):
— split last eight games SU.
— 5-4-1 ATS as favorite, 3-5 as underdog
— over 6-2 on road

Celtics (14-4):
— won 10 of last 11 games SU (3-1 ATS last four).
— 5-4 ATS as a home favorite, 4-5-1 ATS as a road favorite
— over 7-1 at home

Nets (9-10):
— won/covered three of their last four games.
— 4-3 ATS as a road underdog
— under is 3-1 in their last four home games.

Hornets (5-14):
— 2-11 last 13 games SU.
— 2-6 ATS at home
— under 5-2 at home

Bulls (8-10)
— won last two games SU, scoring 121-118 points.
— 3-1 ATS as a home favorite, 2-4 as home dog.
— have already played 4 back/backs: 1-3 ATS first nite, 2-2 2nd nite
— under 7-0 last seven home games

Cavaliers (12-6):
— won last four games SU (3-0-1 ATS)
— 6-1-1 ATS as a home favorite.
— under 4-1 last five games

Mavericks (9-8):
— lost three of last four games SU.
— 1-10-1 ATS last 12 games.
— over 4-1 last five road games

Nuggets (11-7):
— 3-4 in last seven games SU.
— 5-10 ATS on the road.
— under 6-0 home games

Pistons (5-15):
— won last two games SU, covered last four.
— covered last four games as a road underdog.
— over 5-2 in their last seven road games.

Warriors (9-10):
— won three of last four games SU
— 4-0 ATS last four games as a home favorite
— under 4-1 last five home games.

Rockets (3-14):
— 6-9-2 against the spread, all as an underdog
— 2-4 ATS as home underdog
— over 5-3 last eight games 

Pacers (10-7):
— won seven of last nine games (10-2 ATS last 12).
— 7-4 ATS as an underdog
— under 3-1 last four home games

Clippers (11-8):
— won six of last nine games SU (8-4 ATS last 12)
— 2-5 ATS as a home favorite.
— under 89-2 in their hone games.

Lakers (5-11):
— won three of last four games SU
— 0-5 SU/ATS on the road
— 3-9 ATS as an underdog.
— under 4-1 on road

Grizzlies (10-8):
— lost four of last five games SU. 
— 4-3 ATS as home favorite, 2-4 as road favorite.
— 0-4 ATS as a road underdog
— under 6-3 last nine games

Heat (8-11):
— lost four of last five games SU.
— 3-7 ATS as a home favorite
— over 4-0 last four home games.

Bucks (12-5):
— 2-4 SU last six games
— 1-3 ATS last four home games.
— over 5-1 last six home games.

Timberwolves (10-8):
— won last five games SU.
— 3-7 ATS at home
— under 4-1 last five home games

Pelicans (11-7):
— won/covered five of last six games.
— 4-1 ATS last five home games
— under 6-1 last seven home games
— over 7-2 road games

Knicks (9-9):
— 4-3 in last seven games SU.
— 2-5 ATS at home, 6-5 on road
— under 7-1 last eight road games
— over 5-2 at home

Thunder (7-11):
— lost four of last five games (0-3 ATS last three).
— 6-2 ATS as a road underdog.
— last eight games went over

Magic (5-13):
— lost four of last five games SU
— 2-5-2 ATS as road underdog
— 6-2 ATS as home underdog
— under 5-2 last seven games. 

76ers (9-9):
— won four of last six games SU (5-1 ATS)
— 4-0 ATS as a home underdog.
— over 4-1 last five at home

Suns (11-6):
— won 3 of last 4 games SU (4-1 ATS last five)
— 7-2 ATS as home favorite, 1-3 road favorite
— under 5-1 last six home games

Trailblazers (10-8):
— lost last four games SU
— 10-3 ATS as an underdog.
— over 5-2-1 at home

Kings (10-7):
— 7-1 SU last eight games, 7-2 ATS last nine
— 8-2 ATS as an underdog.
— last six home games went over.

Spurs (6-13):
— lost last six games SU (1-5 ATS)
— 1-5 ATS last five road games
— under 4-1 last five road games

Raptors (9-9):
— lost four of last six games SU
— 2-5-1 ATS in last eight games
— over 5-2 last seven road games

Jazz (12-8):
— lost five of last seven games SU (1-6 ATS)
— 10-3 ATS as an underdog
— over 4-1 last five road games

Wizards (10-8):
— won six of last eight games SU (0-4 ATS last four)
— 1-5 ATS last six games as a home favorite. 
— under 3-1 last four home games.

Thursday’s Den: Happy Thanksgiving, everyone……..

Maui Classic
Arizona 81, Creighton 79
Wildcats win the Maui Classic, shooting 59.6% inside the arc.
Arizona led by 14 with 12:19 left to play.
Creighton outscored Arizona 15-4 on foul line.

Arkansas 78, San Diego State 74 OT
Up 4 with 0:13 left, Aztecs fouled intentionally; it proved costly.
Teams combined to shoot 5-35 on the arc.
Arkansas was 27-38 on foul line, San Diego State 18-23.

Odd sidebar to this game: Long time ago, Bill Musselman was the basketball coach at Minnesota; his son Eric coaches Arkansas now. When Musselman left Minnesota, he was succeeded by Jim Dutcher, whose son Brian coaches San Diego State.

Eric Musselman also coached at Nevada for four years, so he’s seen the Aztecs before.

Anyway, the Maui Classic was great this year; Lot of good teams.

Kansas State 61, LSU 59— Wildcats win tournament on Cayman Islands; Tigers led by 12 late in first half, but they scored only 18 points in second half.

UNLV 71, Minnesota 62— Rebels improve to 6-0, winning this tournament that was played in a high school gym in San Juan Capistrano. Minnesota took 31 3-pointers (9-31), only 26 2-point shots (12-26).

Wisconsin 43, Dayton 42— Badgers win a game where they shot 25% inside the arc; only one of their starters scored more than 3 points- he had 9.

Auburn 43, Northwestern 42— Another 43-42 game? With a Bruce Pearl team? Teams combined to shoot 7-45 on the arc. So far this season, Auburn is rebounding 42% of its missed shots, #5 in country— they had lot of chances for offensive rebounds in this game.

Mississippi State 52, Utah 49— Bulldogs take tournament in Fort Myers, winning both games by three points. Miss State is 6-0, giving up 48.5 ppg- they have top 100 wins over Utah and Marquette- their eFG% defense is #7 in country.

Cincinnati 81, Louisville 62— Cardinals have a long, proud basketball tradition, but this year’s team doesn’t have a quality point guard, and they’re 0-6 already, losing the three games in Maui by 26-32-19 points. Not good.

American 74, Georgetown 70— Speaking of not good, Hoyas have now lost three of last four games, after going 6-25 last season. Losing to a Patriot League opponent ain’t going to help.

Elsewhere in the world………
— Each member of World Series champ Houston Astros banks $516,347, the biggest winners’ share ever; all the Phillies get $296,255 for winning the National League title.

— NFL knowledge:
Jets will start QB Mike White this week, benching 2nd-year QB Zach Wilson. White started three games for the Jets LY, throwing for 953 yards in four games.

Texans are benching 2nd-year QB Davis Mills, will start Kyle Allen this week. Allen is 7-10 as an NFL starter, mostly with Carolina.

Matthew Stafford has a strained neck; looks like the Rams will give QB Bryce Perkins his first NFL start this week. Rams signed QB Case Cookus to the practice squad; he played in the USFL last spring, may wind up being the Rams’ backup the rest of this season.

Aaron Rodgers has apparently been playing with a broken bone in his throwing thumb.

Chicago QB Justin Fields has a separated left shoulder; it is unclear if he’ll play Sunday.

— QB’s taken in first round of the 2021 NFL Draft:
#1 pick— Trevor Lawrence, Jaguars
#2— Zach Wilson, Jets
#3— Trey Lance, 49ers
#11— Justin Fields, Bears
#15— Mac Jones, Patriots

If they did that draft all over again, would the order change any?

Genius Alert— Arizona Cardinals fired their offensive line coach after he allegedly groped a woman in Mexico City last weekend. He was sent home before the Cardinals’ 38-10 loss in to the 49ers Mexico City Monday night.

— Tennessee Vols’ QB Hendon Hooker tore his ACL, is out for the year. He suffered the non-contact injury while rolling left on an option play. Hooker passed for 3,135 yards and 27 TD’s while throwing only two interceptions this season.

— Bryce Harper had Tommy John Surgery this week, is expected to miss the first half of next season. Harper isn’t expected to play in the outfield at all until September.

— Texas Rangers brought Mike Maddux back as their new/old pitching coach; he was their pitching coach from 2009-2015, when they made their only two World Series appearances. 

Wednesday’s Den: Mid-week musings……..

— Stephen Curry is getting paid $48,070,014 this season; that works out to $536,219.68 per game. Lot of cabbage to play 82 basketball games.

Monday night, Golden State was on the back end of a back/back; most of the Warriors’ stars sat the game out (rest). This doesn’t seem right.

If you’re healthy and getting paid $536,219.68 per game, you should play. It is basketball, a fun game to play. People pay a boatload of money to buy tickets to watch you play; they don’t get a refund if the stars don’t show up.

Play fewer minutes if you have to, but play. It is your freakin’ job, after all.

Maui Classic
Creighton 90, Arkansas 87
Arizona 87, San Diego State 70
High level semi-final games; we might see these teams at the Final Four.
Creighton-Arizona is the Maui Classic final Wednesday

— Eight of Arizona’s 12 scholarship players are from other countries.

St John’s 76, Syracuse 69 OT
Syracuse led by 10 with 15:08 left in the game.
Teams combined to go 10-39 on the arc: a brickfest.
Red Storm is 6-0 now, with two top 100 wins.

— College basketball season is only 15 days old, but so far, ACC teams are 19-36-1 ATS, which is pretty terrible.

— NCAA announced future sites for the Final Four:
2027— Detroit
2028— Las Vegas
2029— Indianapolis
2030— Arlington, TX

Miami OH 18, Ball State 17
Red Hawks trailed 17-3 with 6:00 left in third quarter.
Miami scored winning TD on 34-yard pass with 1:42 left.
Miami is now bowl eligible.

Ohio 38, Bowling Green 14
Bobcats clinch their division, will play Toledo in MAC title game.
Ohio converted 11-18 on third down, was +4 in turnovers.

— Sam Darnold willl start at QB for Carolina when the Panthers host Denver Sunday; he will be the Panthers’ third different starting QB in three games.

— Last three games, San Francisco 49ers outscored opponents 54-0 in the second half.

— Cowboys crushed Minnesota 40-3 Sunday; when the game was 37-3, Vikings’ RB Dalvin Cook got a taunting penalty.

While his team trailed by 34 points. Oy.

— Former NFL/college head coach Herm Edwards is back on ESPN; he worked for the network for several years after the Chiefs fired him as head coach in 2009.

—- Sacramento 113, Memphis 109— Kings win their 7th consecutive game, their longest win streak since 2004. Kings are currently tied for the #3-seed in Western Conference.

— Milwaukee Brewers traded OF Hunter Renfroe to the Angels, in exchange for three minor league pitchers. Renfroe hit 29 homers with 72 RBI last year.

This is his career path:
2016-19— San Diego
2020— Tampa Bay
2021— Boston
2022— Milwaukee
2023— Angels

Anaheim will be his fifth stop in five years; you don’t see that a lot, especially for a productive player.

— It is a little weird that Hunter Renfroe plays big league baseball while Hunter Renfrow is a wide receiver for the Raiders. Odd coincidence.

— Philadelphia Phillies gave GM Dave Dombrowski a contract extension through the 2027 season, after the Phils won the National League pennant this year. Dombrowski has led four different franchises to a World Series. 

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

49ers 38, Cardinals 10
— 49ers’ first two drives: 7 plays, 19 yards, 1 first down, no points.
— Rest of game: 51 plays, 368 yards, 20 first downs, 38 points.
— Last four games, 49ers converted 28-51 on third down.
— 49ers won 13 of last 16 meetings with Arizona.
— 49ers are 5-0 when they score 24+ points, 1-4 when they don’t.

— Arizona in 2nd half: 32 plays, 139 yards, no points.
— Cardinals lost five of their last six games.
— Dortch caught 9 passes for 103 yards; Hopkins 9 for 91.
— Arizona is 1-7 when it scores less than 29 points.
— 49ers had an 11-yard edge in field position.

Busy college basketball night, for a Monday………
UNLV 56, Southern Illinois 49— This game tipped off around 1am here in New York, anded at 3:15. Have to sleep fast; first games Tuesday are at 11:30am.

UNLV is 5-0; very good defensive team. 

Arizona 101, Cincinnati 93— Wildcats scored 61 points in second half; they scored 1.32 points/possession, shot 65.2% inside arc. Nolley scored 33 points for Cincinnati, making 9-14 shots on the arc.

San Diego State 88, Ohio State 77— Solid win for Mountain West Conference; four Aztecs scored in double figures- two of them didn’t start.

Syracuse 74, Richmond 71 OT— Syracuse led 11-2, then trailed by 5 with 5:54 left. Girard scored 31 points for the Orange. Richmond was 4-9 on the foul line. Spiders were minus-12 in turnovers (18-6).

Arkansas 80, Louisville 54— Arkansas shot 72.4% inside arc. Cardinals are 0-4 for first time since 1940. Arkansas-Creighton Tuesday night is must-watch TV.

Texas State 59, California 55— Golden Bears are off to an 0-5 start, with losses to Cal-Davis, Cal-San Diego, Southern. Opponents are shooting 38.1% on the arc against Cal (#291). Not good.

Colgate 85, Monmouth 66— Hawks are 0-5; looks like they picked a bad year to jump up in class to the CAA. Monmouth is turning ball over 28.5% of the time (#359)

— Maui Classic is one of my favorite parts of the college basketball season; 12 games in three days, eight good teams. The tournament itself announces that this is Thanksgiving Week, a week loaded with lot of ballgames and good food. Nothing bad about that.

This is the first time in three years the Maui Classic has been in Maui, because of the pandemic. We’ll learn a lot this week about the plusses/minuses of teams. The way rosters are cobbled together every year nowadays, the coaches will learn a lot, too.

— Random facts about the Maui Classic, when played in Maui:
Since 2001, every champ of the Maui Classic made the NCAA tournament, except for Notre Dame in 2017— they played in the NIT.

14 of the last 18 Maui Classic champions had a winning record in conference play.

Since 2001, Duke won the Maui Classic three times; those three years, Duke went a combined 3-3 in the NCAA tournament.

Since 2001, North Carolina won the Maui Classic three times; those three years, Tar Heels went 18-0 in the NCAA tournament, winning three national titles.

Of the last 18 Maui champs, only five made the Final Four that year; North Carolina the three times they won the national title, plus UCLA in 2006, UConn in 2010.

— ESPN has added former Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski to his studio crew, because they don’t already have enough Duke-affiliated people on their staff.

Wojciechowski went 128-95 in seven years at Marquette, 59-68 in Big East games, 0-2 in NCAA tournament games- he was a 5-seed and a 10-seed in those losses.

Allow me to vent for a minute……..

March 2019, Marquette got off to a 23-4 start, but they lost their last four regular season games, split of pair of games in the Big East tournament and were matched up with 12-seed Murray State in the first round of the NCAA’s.

Big East #5-seed against an OVC #12-seed; Seton Hall was only a 3-point favorite. I posted the over in this game as my pick of the day; didn’t think Marquette would contain Ja Morant, and when Murray State got ahead, Marquette would have to press and the game would go over.

One small problem.

Up 42-35 at halftime, Murray State outscored Marquette 22-9 in first 10:00 of second half, and when Marquette did score, they declined to press, they just dropped back into a passive zone, conceding defeat to a freakin’ OVC team. Murray State won 83-64; the game stayed under the total. I was not amused.

When you’re picking games, you win some, you lose some, but the 15-20 minutes after that game was as mad as I’ve ever been after losing a pick. If Wojciechowski had just done his job and competed for 40:00, the pick was an easy winner. Morant would’ve shredded them- he had 16 assists as it was.

Now Wojciechowski is in the ESPN studio, where he sits next to Chris Spatola, who happens to be Mike Krzyzewski’s son-in-law. Go figure.

— Big 14 went 6-2 against the Big East in the Gavitt Games last week.

— Friday night, Eastern Kentucky beat Georgia State on a half-court shot at the buzzer; you don’t see those very often.

— In the NBA Monday night, Timberwolves beat Miami 105-101; Rudy Gobert played 31:00 for Minnesota- they were +3 with him on the floor, even though he didn’t take one shot— he did go 4-4 on foul line and grab nine rebounds.

— This could be the first year ever where North Carolina, NC State, Wake Forest all go to bowl games in the same season. Has never happened before.

— Back when Nick Saban was head coach at Toledo in 1990, a young coach called Saban’s house, hoping for a job on Saban’s staff. The young coach was working at Illinois State at the time, but he was born in Toledo and was interesting in working there.

The young coach talked with Saban’s wife and apparently never got his interview with Saban, but things turned out alright for him. You may have heard of the guy…Urban Meyer, who wound up winning three national titles as a head coach.

— Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders has a son Nick who is a walk-on basketball player at Michigan State. He wears number 20, just like his dad did.

— Why some teams never win: this is from the 2010 baseball draft:
Colorado in 4th round (pick #140)— Russell Wilson, NC State (at the time)
NY Mets in 9th round (pick #272)— Jacob deGrom, Stetson

Russell Wilson is likely a Hall of Famer, but in football, not baseball.

— Baltimore Ravens’ next four opponents are all 3-7 right now, so it figures that Baltimore is going to make a strong run at a playoff spot, if not the AFC North title.

— Atlanta’s Cordarrelle Patterson had his 9th TD on a kick return Sunday; that is an all-time NFL record, and one that figures to last a long time, since kick returns are lot more uncommon than they used to be.

— Texas Tech basketball coach Mark Adams used to own a minor league hockey team in Lubbock, the Lubbock Cotton Kings, with his twin brother. 

Monday’s Den: Wrapping up an NFL Sunday

Falcons 27, Bears 24
— First time in six games Chicago ran for less than 238 yards (160).
— Bears converted 9-16 on third down, Atlanta 2-9.
— Chicago lost seven of its last eight games SU (2-5-1 ATS).
— Bears had touchdown drives of 44-29-75 yards.
— Chicago is 4-9-1 ATS in last 14 games as a road underdog (1-4-1 TY).

— Cordarrelle Patterson ran a kickoff back 103 yards for a TD.
— Koo kicked a 53-yard FG with 1:47 let for the win.
— Both teams ran for more yards than they threw for.
— Last five opponents converted 67-136 (49.3%) third down plays.
— Five of their six home games were decided by 3 or less points.

Patriots 10, Jets 3
— Marcus Jones ran a punt back 84 yards for a TD with 0:05 left.
— New England won its last 15 games against the Jets.
— Jets in 2nd half: 26 plays, 17 yards, 2 first downs, no points.
— Jets had one play the whole game longer than 14 yards.
— Jets held six of last seven opponents under their team total.

— New England won five of last six games (6-1 ATS last seven).
— Patriots are 6-0 allowing 17 or less points, 0-4 giving up 20+.
— Last five games, Patriots outscored foes 77-32 in 2nd half.
— Patriots are 10-6 ATS in last 16 games as a home favorite.
— Jets are 1-6 ATS in last seven visits to Foxboro.

Saints 27, Rams 20
— Rams led 14-10 at halftime.
— 3rd-string QB Perkins played just about whole second half.
— Rams lost six of their last seven games.
— Rams have one takeaway in their last eight games (minus-7). 
— In their losses, LA was outscored 95-29 in second half.

— Saints first two drives in 2nd half: 14 plays, 143 yards, 14 points.
— Dalton was 21-25/260 passing, with three TD passes.
— Saints are 3-1 when they score 27+ points.
— New Orleans is 13-8-1 ATS last 22 games coming off a loss.
— LA is 1-4 ATS in last five games in the Superdome.

Lions
31, Giants 18
— Detroit won last three games, scoring 31-31 points in last two.
— Williams ran ball 17 times for 64 yards, with three TD’s.
— Lions had a 19-yard edge in field position.
— Three of Detroit’s four TD drives were less than 60 yards.
— Last four games, Detroit converted 21-44 third down plays.

— Barkley was held to 22 yards on 15 carries.
— Giants outgained Detroit 413-325; they had 324 passing yards.
— Giants were 0-2 on PAT’s, also failed on a 2-point play.
— Giants were held to 16-13-18 points in their losses.
— Giants are 5-8-1 ATS last 14 games as a home favorite

Bills 31, Browns 23
— Cleveland lost six of their last seven games.
— WR Cooper caught 8 passes for 112 yards, two TD’s.
— Browns turned ball over 13 times in last six games (minus-8)
— Six of their nine games went over the total.
— Cleveland has outgained eight of its ten opponents.

— Buffalo went ahead for good on TD with 0:14 left in first half.
— Bills in 2nd half: 5 drives- 35 plays, 224 yards, one TD, 4 FG’s
— Singleton/Cook both had 86 yards rushing.
— Bills are 15-6-1 ATS in last 22 games coming off a loss
— Bills will stay in Detroit; they play Lions on Thanksgiving Day. 

Eagles 17, Colts 16
— Eagles in first three quarters: 41 plays, 155 yards, 3 points.
— Eagles in 4th quarter: 19 plays, 178 yards, 14 points.
— Philly drove 75 yards, scored game-winning TD with 1:20 left.
— Eagles are 12-20 ATS last 32 games coming off a loss.
— Philly won all five road games TY, by 1-3-16-3-12 points (1-4 ATS).

— Colts led this game 13-3 after three quarters.
— Three drives to red zone, Indy scored one TD, kicked two FG’s.
— Colts lost four of last five games SU.
— Nine of Colts’ 11 games stayed under the total. 
— Colts are 13-5-1 ATS last 19 games vs NFC teams.

Commanders 23, Texans 10
— Commanders scored on a pick-six 1:44 into the game.
— Washington won/covered five of last six games.
— Last six games, Washington is +7 in turnovers (minus-7 in first five).
— Seven of their last nine games stayed under the total.
— Opponents stayed under the team total eight of last nine games.

— Houston in first half: 20 plays, minus-4 yards, one first down.
— Texans lost eight of their last nine games SU (2-6 ATS last eight).
— Washington outgained the Texans, 344-148.
— Houston is 37-126 (29.4%) on 3rd down this season.
— Texans are 10-19-1 ATS last 30 games coming off a loss.

Ravens 13, Panthers 3
— Carolina ran the ball 17 times for only 36 yards.
— Panthers in first half: 21 plays, 48 yards, 4 first downs, no points.
— Carolina has converted only 37-132 (28.0%) third down plays.
— Seven of last ten Panther games stayed under the total.
— Last 3+ years, Carolina is 18-42 SU.

— Ravens drove 76 yards, kicked FG at gun to lead 3-0 at halftime.
— Ravens scored only one TD in four trips to red zone.
— Baltimore won five of its last six games SU.
— Ravens are 2-8 ATS last ten games as a home favorite.
— Six of Ravens’ last seven games stayed under the total.

Raiders 22, Broncos 16 OT
— Raiders drove 67 yards on three plays for the GW TD in OT.
— Adams caught seven passes for 141 yards, two TD’s.
— Raiders tied game on a field goal with 0:16 left in regulation.
— First road win in six tries for Las Vegas this year.
— Raiders are 13-7 ATS last 20 games as a road underdog.

— Denver lost six of last seven games, with losses by 9-3-3-7-7-6 points— Broncos scored 16 or fewer points in eight of ten games.
— Last five games, Denver was outscored 56-26 in second half/OT.
— Last seven games, Broncos are 32-127 (25.2%) on third down. 
— Nine of ten Denver games stayed under the total.  

Cowboys 40, Vikings 3
— Dallas scored first seven times they had the ball.
— Cowboys won/covered seven of their last nine games.
— Last three games, Dallas scored 17 TD’s on 41 drives.
— Cowboys outgained Minnesota, 458-183
— NFC East teams are 20-10-2 ATS outside the division.

— Minnesota after first quarter: 42 plays, 92 yards, no points.
— Dallas converted 12-17 on third down, Vikings 1-11.
— Jefferson was held to three catches for 33 yards.
— Last nine games, Minnesota has 24 plays of 20+ yards; opponents have 39.
— Minnesota is 8-2, but they’ve been outscored 231-229.

Bengals 37, Steelers 30
— Cincinnati won six of its last eight games (7-1 ATS).
— Burrow threw for 355 yards and four TD’s.
— Higgins caught nine passes for 148 yards.
— Cincy is 11-6-1 ATS in last 18 AFC North road games.
— Four of Bengals’ last five games went over the total.

— Steelers led this game 20-17 at halftime.
— Pittsburgh has been outscored 106-67 in second half of games.
— Steelers lost seven of their last nine games SU.
— Steelers converted 8-17 on third down, Cincinnati 3-9.
— Last two games, Pittsburgh won 58.2% of third down plays. 

Chiefs 30, Chargers 27
— Chiefs drove 75 yards, scoring game-winning TD with 0:15 left.
— Kelce caught six passes for 115 yards, three TD’s.
— Chiefs won six of their last seven games (4-2 ATS).
— Chiefs have 57 plays of 20+ yards; opponents have 38.
— KC is 11-20-1 ATS last 31 games coming off a win.

— Chargers led this game 20-13 at halftime.
— Bolts have been outscored 134-75 in second half.
— Chargers lost three of their last four games.
— Last four games, Chargers allowed 183.4 rushing yards/game.
— Chargers lost 14 of last 17 games against Kansas City.

Toronto 24, Winnipeg 23
— Argonauts blocked field goal in last minute to seal their win.
— Toronto wins Grey Cup for first time since 2017.
— Winnipeg had won the previous two Grey Cups.
— Backup QB Chad Kelly engineered the game-winning drive; he is Jim Kelly’s nephew.
— Blue Bombers’ Janarion Grant had a 102-yard punt return for a touchdown. 

 

Sunday’s Den: Wrapping up a college sports Saturday

TCU 29, Baylor 28
TCU scored nine points in last 2:09 to stay undefeated.
Horned Frogs drove 45 yards, kicked GW 40-yard FG at the gun.
Baylor ran for 232 yards, outgained the Frogs 501-442. 

South Carolina 63, Tennessee 38
Gamecocks scored a TD first five times they had the ball.
QB Rattler was 30-37/438 passing, with six TD’s.
Tennessee was up 38-7 at halftime of LY’s meeting, a 45-20 win. 

USC 48, UCLA 45
UCLA led 14-0 after the first quarter
Total yardage: 648-507, USC
UCLA turned ball over four times, still scored 45 points.
Trojans clinch a spot in the Pac-12 title game.

Pittsburgh 28, Duke 26
Duke scored TD with 0:47 left, tying 2-point play failed.
Leading 20-14, Pitt scored defensive TD to widen their lead.
Both teams are 7-4.

Michigan 19, Illinois 17
Michigan kicked a 35-yard FG with 0:09 left for the win.
Wolverines kicked three field goals in 4th quarter.
Michigan’s only TD of day came 3:32 into the game.

Virginia Tech 23, Liberty 22
Hokies snap 7-game skid, their worst losing streak since 1951.
Va Tech 17-7 midway thru second quarter.
Liberty had a 97-yard kickoff return for a TD.

Navy 17, Central Florida 14
Knights blow their chance to host the AAC title game.
Navy ran ball 63 times for 248 yards; they didn’t throw any passes.
UCF was 3-12 on third down, minus-2 in turnovers; they ran only 57 plays.

Clemson 40, Miami 10— Hurricanes gained total of 98 yards, fewest yards Miami gained in one game since 1965.

Boise State 20, Wyoming 17
Broncos will host the Mountain West title game December 3rd.
Wyoming ran for 278 yards, but completed only 3-16 passes for 30 yards.

Upsets of the Week:
Georgia Tech (+21) 21, North Carolina 17
Navy (+16.5) 17, UCF 14
Bowling Green (+15) 42, Toledo 35
Vanderbilt (+14) 31, Florida 24
Indiana (+10) 39, Michigan State 31 OT
Western Michigan (+10) 12, Central Michigan 10
Virginia Tech (+10) 23, Liberty 22

Indiana 39, Michigan State 31 OT
Michigan State led 24-7 at halftime.
Indiana had an 88-yard kick return for a TD.
Spartans outgained Indiana 540-288
Hoosiers threw seven passes the whole game (2-7/31 yards)

James Madison 42, Georgia State 40
Down 34-14 at halftime, Dukes rallied to improve their record to 7-4.
Georgia State scored two defensive TD’s in first half.
Panthers scored TD with 2:30 left, but tying 2-point play failed.

Oregon State 31, Arizona State 7
This is only Beavers’ 2nd win in last 20 visits to Tempe.

Iowa 13, Minnesota 10— Gophers’ RB Mo Ibrahim ran 39 times for 263 yards, his 19th straight game with 100+ rushing yards— that is the longest-such streak in the last 20 years.

Vanderbilt 31, Florida 24
Improved Commodores are 5-6, can go to bowl with win next week.
Vandy’s long snapper recovered a fumbled punt in the end zone for a TD.

Wisconsin 15, Nebraska 14
Cornhuskers led 14-3 after three quarters.
Wisconsin drove 50 yards, scored game-winning TD with 0:35 left.
6-5 Badgers are bowl eligible; they outgained Nebraska, 318-171

California 27, Stanford 20
Stanford led 17-6 after three quarters.
Cal went ahead for good on a defensive TD with 9:54 left in game.
This was first time since 2000 that these rivals met, with neither eligible for a bowl game.

Miami 74, Providence 64
700th career win for Jim Larranaga.

Oakland 92, Eastern Michigan 90 OT
Oakland scored the last six points of the game.
Oakland led 40-21 late in the first half.
Grizzlies shot 15-31 on arc, EMU 11-24. 

Saturday’s Den: There’s a lot of stuff going on these days…….

— The college basketball season is only 12 days old, little early to be making judgements, but ACC teams are 12-22 ATS so far this season, 7-15 as a favorite, 5-7 as an underdog.

Louisville and Florida State haven’t won a game yet; Syracuse lost to Colgate, Pitt has losses by 25-31 points.

Lot of teams around the country are in total rebuilds; will be interesting to follow which coaches are the best builders.

— Right now, Pac-12 is the #6-ranked conference, but their teams have already lost 10 games against teams ranked #120 or lower, five teams outside the top 200, two teams outside the top 300. UCLA/Arizona are their only teams ranked in the top 30.

Bruins’ loss to Illinois Friday ain’t going to help their seeding come March; this league needs a couple high profile wins to boost their resume.

Virginia 86, Baylor 79— An inspired Virginia team upset Baylor, in their first game since the tragic events in Charlottesville last week, when three Virginia football players were murdered.

Virginia scored 1.28 points/possession, which is great; they were 27-35 on foul line (Baylor was 12-14). Bears shot 11-26 on arc but still lost.

First 10:00 of 2nd half, Virginia outscored Baylor 30-7; Tony Bennett is a great freakin’ coach.

Illinois 79, UCLA 70— Resume-building win for the Illini, who outscored UCLA 51-33 in the second half. Terrence Shannon had 29 points, 10 rebounds; he made 8-9 on the arc.

Pretty good twinbill at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas;

Loyola Marymount 84, Georgetown 66— Sometime in the next few months, someone in the Georgetown administration is going to have to tell Patrick Ewing that he is being fired- I would not want to be that person on that day. Ewing is a Georgetown legend, and he is also a very large person.

Hoyas are 8-27 in their last 35 games; in Ewing’s tenure, Georgetown is 26-63 in conference games- they did win the Big East conference tournament two years ago, but finished that season 13-13, losing by 23 to Colorado in the first round of the NCAA tournament. 

Not sure what direction Georgetown would go in next, but this direction isn’t working. Losing to a lower-level WCC team by 18 on a neutral floor, after losing to Coppin State, is a red flag.

Cal-Fullerton 94, Pacific 92 2OT— 3-1 Titans win a tight game despite going 21-41 on the foul line. Four Titans played 38:00+. Fullerton has now won consecutive games in double OT. 

Kansas 82, Southern Utah 76— Bill Self’s suspension is now over, and just in time; visiting Thunderbirds led this game by a hoop with 12:00 to play. Southern Utah outrebounded the Jayhawks; you lose by 6 at Kansas, SUU should be a threat in the WAC this winter. 

Myrtle Beach tournament:
In the first round Thursday, all four underdogs won SU; you don’t see that a lot.

Friday, UMass nipped Murray State 71-69 on a 3-pointer with 0:00.7 left. Minutemen trailed by 10 with 6:37 left to play. UMass will play Charlotte in the tournament final Sunday.

Charleston tournament:
Virginia Tech will play the host school Charleston in Sunday’s final; Hokies won the last two days by a combined six points. Charleston won its two tourney games by 23-10 points.

Colorado 103, Texas A&M 75— Buffs added two transfers from Ivy League teams this season, one from Yale, one from Princeton. Unusual.

Jalen Gabbidon scored 11.3 ppg for a good Yale team LY; he is playing 23.4 minutes a game for Colorado this year, scoring 9.8 ppg.

Ethan Wright is averaging around 14 minutes a game as a backup PG; he shot 38.8% on the arc for Princeton last year.

Today’s basketball requires much more imaginative recruiting; you poach players wherever you can.

— Underrated fact: Michigan State has had only two basketball coaches since 1976, when I was a junior in high school. Jud Heathcote, Tom Izzo, that’s it.

— Sam Houston State is an under-the-radar mid-major program; they’ve had nine straight winning seasons. This is the Bearkats’ second year in the WAC, after moving up from the Southland Conference.

Sam Houston already has wins this season over Oklahoma, Utah; they’re forcing turnovers 27.6% of the time, which is very good. Bearkats start four seniors; they played ten guys 13+ minutes against Utah. Interesting team.

Jazz 134, Suns 133
Surprising Jazz improve to 11-6 this season.
Lauri Markkanen scored 38 points for Utah.
Devin Booker scored 49 for the Suns.

Golden State 111, New York 101— Warriors are 0-8 SU on the road for first time since 1990, but they’ve won their last six home games, are 7-9 now.

— Tennessee Titans won in Green Bay Thursday night, their 7th win in eight games, but then late last night, their offensive coordinator got a DUI, about a half hour after the team plane landed in Nashville. Not good.

Apparently there is a rule against having alcohol on team flights; the NFL is investigating.

— So far this season, on their opponents’ first drive of a game, Arizona Cardinals have allowed 5 touchdowns, 4 field goals on 10 drives, an average of 54.9 yards/drive— not good.

On their opponents’ first drive of the second half, Arizona has allowed only two field goals, an average of 10.8 yards/drive. They make good halftime adjustments.

Cody Bellinger was MVP of the National League three years ago; now he’s a free agent- the Dodgers didn’t tender him a $18M deal for 2023. Bellinger can re-sign with LA for less money, or test the free agent waters (or both, eventually).

Dodgers have pared $100M off their payroll so far this winter; they interested in Aaron Judge?

— SS Carlos Correa is a free agent; Minnesota traded for Kyle Farmer Friday, so Correa won’t be back in the Twin Cities. 

Twins also traded 3B Gio Urshela to the Angels, for a 19-year old minor league pitcher. 

Friday’s Den: NBA trends

NBA trends (thru November 17)

Hawks (9-6):
— 2-3 in last five games SU.
— 4-3-1 ATS as favorite, 3-4-1 as underdog
— over 6-1 on road

Celtics (12-3):
— won last eight games SU (4-3-1 ATS).
— 3-4-1 ATS as a road favorite
— over 6-1 at home

Nets (7-9):
— covered six of their last eight games.
— 2-4 ATS at home
— under is 8-2 in their last ten games. 

Hornets (4-12):
— 1-9 last ten games SU.
— 1-6 ATS at home
— over 3-1 last four road games

Bulls (6-9)
— lost last three games SU, giving up 121.7 ppg
— 3-0 ATS as a home favorite, 1-4 as home dog.
— have already played 4 back/backs: 1-3 ATS first nite, 2-2 2nd nite
— under 4-1 last five games

Cavaliers (8-6):
— lost last five games SU
— 6-3 ATS as a favorite.
— over 4-1 home games

Mavericks (8-6):
— 2-3 last five games SU.
— 1-7-1 ATS as a home favorite
— over 3-1 last four road games

Nuggets (9-5):
— 7-3 SU their last ten games
— 3-2 ATS as home favorite, 2-4 as road favorite
— under 5-0 home games

Pistons (3-13):
— lost their last five games SU (1-3-1 ATS)
— 3-5 ATS on the road.
— under is 6-3 in their last nine games. 

Warriors (6-9):
— 0-8 SU on road (1-7 ATS)
— 4-3 ATS as a home favorite
— under 3-0 last three home games.

Rockets (3-12):
— 5-8-2 against the spread, all as an underdog
— 1-3 ATS as home underdog
— over 4-2 last six games 

Pacers (7-6):
— won six of last eight games (8-0 ATS).
— 7-3 ATS as an underdog
— over 3-1 last four games

Clippers (9-7):
— won seven of last ten games SU (6-3 ATS last nine)
— 0-5 ATS as a home favorite.
— under 8-1 in their hone games. 

Lakers (3-10):
— 0-4 SU/ATS on the road
— 3-8 ATS as an underdog.
— 0-2 ATS as a favorite
— under 3-1 on road

Grizzlies (9-6):
— 3-7 ATS in last ten games. 
— 3-2 ATS as home favorite, 2-4 as road favorite.
— 0-3 ATS as a road underdog
— under 4-1 last five road games

Heat (7-8):
— won three of last four games SU.
— 2-7 ATS as a home favorite
— over 3-0 last three home games.

Bucks (11-3):
— 2-3 SU last five games
— 7-2 ATS as a home favorite
— under 4-1 on the road.

Timberwolves (7-8):
— 3-6 ATS at home
— 1-3 ATS as an underdog
— under 3-1 last four home games

Pelicans (9-6):
— won/covered last four games.
— 4-3 ATS at home
— under 4-1 last five home games
— over 6-2 road games

Knicks (8-7):
— won three of last four games SU.
— 2-5 ATS at home, 5-3 on road
— under 5-0 last five road games 

Thunder (7-8):
— won three of last four games (4-0 ATS).
— 6-1 ATS as a road underdog.
— last five games went over

Magic (4-11):
— 0-4-2 ATS as road underdog
— 6-2 ATS as home underdog
— under 3-1 last four games. 

76ers (7-7):
— won three of last four games SU
— 3-4 ATS as a home favorite.
— under 6-2 home, over 4-2 road

Suns (9-5):
— 3-4 last seven games SU
— 5-2 ATS as home favorite, 1-3 road favorite
— under 3-1 last four home games

Trailblazers (10-5):
— won four of last six games SU
— 9-2 ATS as an underdog.
— under 6-2 on road

Kings (8-6):
— won last five games SU, covered last six
— 7-1 ATS as an underdog.
— last five home games went over. 

Spurs (6-10):
— lost eight of last nine games SU (4-5 ATS)
— 1-4 ATS last five road games
— under 5-2 last seven games

Raptors (9-7):
— 1-4-1 ATS in last six games
— 4-3 ATS at home.
— over 3-1-1 last five games

Jazz (10-6):
— lost four of last five games SU (0-3 ATS last three)
— 9-2 ATS as an underdog
— under 4-2 at home

Wizards (8-7):
— won of last five games SU (5-1 ATS last six)
— 5-3 ATS as an underdog. 
— under 5-2 last seven games.

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

— Buck Showalter has now won Manager of the Year four times, in four different decades, for four different teams:

1994 New York (A)
2004 Texas
2014 Baltimore
2022 New York (N)

Showalter has a 10-16 record in playoff games, making the playoffs six times in 21 seasons.

Texas 93, Gonzaga 74— This is what Bob Huggins was talking about couple weeks ago, when he said that Gonzaga wouldn’t fare as well if they move from the WCC to the Big X. It is good to be a big fish in a small pond; the Big X is a very big pond, no easy wins there.

Northern Kentucky 64, Cincinnati 51— Norse held Cincinnati to 11 second half points; great win for the Horizon League. Bearcats shot 6-21 on the arc. 

Iowa 83, Seton Hall 67— Pirates shot 35.6% inside arc, were 11-13 on foul line, Iowa was 28-33 on line; after falling behind 10-2, Hawkeyes dominated this game. Kris Murray scored 29 points for Iowa.

Arizona State 63, VCU 59— VCU led 56-48 with 6:20 left in the game, got outscored 15-3 the rest of the way. Rams’ PG Baldwin didn’t play in this game, which obviously hurt them. /

Watched this game on my laptop with ESPN+; I’ll say it again, if you like college basketball, ESPN+ is worth the investment, which isn’t very much anyway.

BYU 66. Missouri State 64— Cougars scored a hoop with 0:02 left as they survived 11-20 shooting on the charity stripe. BYU played 10 guys 10+ minutes; they have good depth.

UNLV 60, Dayton 52— Good win Tuesday night for Kevin Kruger’s Rebels, who have a chronologically-old team, but one with players who played on six teams other than UNLV last season. Kruger has utilized the transfer portal very wisely. Dayton didn’t score a basket in the last 6:46 of this game.

UNLV ranks #60 in country in experience, but #252 in continuity, which suggests that they should get stronger as the season progresses, as they get more used to each other. Rebels have forced turnovers on 34.9% of possessions this season, #1 in the country

— Early season rankings of college basketball conferences, by KenPom.com:
1) Big X
2) SEC
3) Big 14
4) Big East
5) ACC
6) Pac-12

— How favorites/underdogs are faring in college football conference games:
AAC— road teams are 20-10-1 ATS
ACC— home underdogs are 11-9 ATS
Big 14— underdogs are 22-18-2 ATS
Big X— home teams are 20-13-2 ATS
C-USA— home favorites are 11-9 ATS
Mountain West— home favorites 7-7 ATS, home dogs 9-9
Pac-12— home favorites are 15-8 ATS
SEC— home favorites are 14-15 ATS
Sun Belt— home favorites are 10-15 ATS

— Alabama is playing Austin Peay in football this weekend; why????

Austin Peay is a I-AA team; this might be an interesting basketball game, because Austin Peay is D-1 in hoops, but it is ludicrous for the best football program in the country to be playing a I-AA team. Plus, it cheats the fans of seeing a more competitive game.

Play a Sun Belt team.
Play a MAC team
Play a team from Conference USA
Play an SEC team in a non-conference game.

Alabama isn’t the only team that does it, but it is more obvious when it happens in November. Mississippi State is doing same thing this week, playing East Tennessee State. No bueno.

— Bryce Harper is having elbow surgery Thursday; the timeframe for his recovery is unclear, since they don’t know if he needs Tommy John surgery.

— Read an interesting article about Astros’ owner Jim Crane, how he has become more involved in the decision making process with his team. Crane also solicits advice from ex-players (Jeff Bagwell, Reggie Jackson, as well as others) to balance the analytics-based info they use.

Looking forward to see who Crane picks for his next GM, seeing how he just canned a guy who won him a World Series.

— In the NBA, Oklahoma City Thunder should be good going forward; they have FOUR first round draft picks in 2024, then THREE more in 2025.

Only 15 guys on a roster; unsure if the Thunder will package those picks for a star player, but it’ll be interesting to find out.