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

— Started reading this book this week about the USFL back in the 80’s, about how spring football was, and still is, a viable business.

In 1959, the NFL had 12 teams, then the AFL started in 1960, with eight new teams. Television and football became a great marriage; in the mid-60’s, some businessmen wanted to start a third pro league, with teams mostly in the south. It was going to be a fall league, not a spring league. 

It was then that the NFL, which had added Dallas/Minnesota in the early 60’s, decided to add teams in Atlanta, New Orleans in mid 60’s, When they did that, the businessmen who wanted to start the third league went away. Go figure.

Competition makes things happen; there will be two spring football leagues in 2023. Curious to see how long they co-exist, before they wind up merging.

— Apparently ten major league umpires have retired; that’s roughly 15% of their whole crew, which seems like a lot in one year.

— Carlos Correa still hasn’t signed with anyone; he played in 136 games last year, 148 the year before, 58 of 60 games in the short 2020 season. What exactly is the problem?

Whatever the problem is, apparently the Giants’/Mets’ doctors agree that shelling out $300M+ isn’t a great idea. Spring training starts in mid-February, exhibition games start February 24. Something needs to happen fairly soon. 

Cowboys 27, Titans 13
— Cowboys won 12 of their last 15 games (10-5 ATS).
— Dallas converted 8-13 third down plays.
— Last nine games, Dallas scored 39 TD’s on 96 drives.
— Cowboys are 8-4 ATS in last 12 games as a road favorite (2-2 TY).
— Dallas needs Eagles to lose Sunday, or else they’ll be #5-seed in NFC. 

— Tennessee lost last six games, scoring 14.8 points/game.
— Titans are 0-6 SU since OC got DUI coming home from road trip. 
— Titans have showdown with Jaguars next week for AFC South title.
— Dobbs was 20-39/232 passing in his first NFL start.
— Titans are 1-5-1 ATS coming off a loss this season.

Tennessee has used 84 players this year, most in the NFL; they used 91 players last year, also the most in the league.

Washington 27, Texas 20
Washington converted 11-20 third down plays.
Huskies went 11-2 in Kalen DeBoer’s first year as coach.
Texas was 30-18 under Tom Herman; they’re 13-12 under Steve Sarkisian.

Florida State 35, Oklahoma 32
Oklahoma led 25-18 with 12:00 left in game.
Seminoles scored 17 points in last 11:05, kicked GW field goal with 0:55 left.
This was Oklahoma’s first losing season (6-7) since 1998.
Florida State QB Travis threw for 418 yards, two TD’s. 

Minnesota 28, Syracuse 20
Syracuse started season 6-0; they finished it 7-6.
Orange outgained Minnesota, 477-215.
Gophers scored on a 70-yard pick-6 to make score 21-10.
Minnesota RB Ibrahim finished his college career with 4,668 rushing yards and 53 TD’s in 40 games; he was a 2-star recruit coming out of high school. 

Maryland 16, NC State 12
Wolfpack kicked four FG’s, none longer than 38 yards.
Maryland was 10-21 on third down, State 5-18.
Wolfpack completed only 22-48 passes; they’ve lost last three bowls.

Pittsburgh 37, UCLA 35
UCLA led 28-14 after a pick-6 with 8:45 left in third quarter.
Pitt took 34-28 lead on field goal with 4:24 left.
Bruins scored TD with 0:34 left, to go ahead 35-34.
Pitt kicked 47-yard FG with 0:04 left for the win.

Notre Dame 45, South Carolina 38
Gamecocks had two pick-6’s, scored TD on fake FG and still lost.
Notre Dame drove 80 yards, scored game-winning TD with 1:38 left.
Notre Dame was 11-19 on third down, Carolina 5-15.

Ohio U 30, Wyoming 27 OT
Wyoming led 14-6 after first quarter.
Ohio kicked 46-yard FG with 0:04 left to force OT.
Bobcats outgained Wyoming, 385-291.

Tennessee 31, Clemson 14
Vols finished 11-2 for first time since 2001
Clemson got into Tennessee territory on 9 of their first 10 drives, but could only manage two field goals.
Clemson ran 101 plays for 484 yards, but only scored 14 points.

— Las Vegas Raiders are 6-9; they just benched their QB, who started their last 91 games, and the QB is stepping away from the team for the last two games this season. They traded for the guy’s best friend from college, a star WR, yet the team floundered this year anyway.

Raiders went 10-7 last year, made the playoffs under interim coach Rich Bisaccia; maybe they should have kept him as the head coach this year. 

— If you were a college football player, would you want to go to a bowl game in cruddy weather, like Boston, New York, Boise? Would seem like Florida/Arizona would be a more fun place to go for a mini-vacation/football game. 

— Random NBA stat: Washington Wizards are 6-1 ATS on 2nd night of a back/back.

— Happy 87th birthday to the great pitcher Sandy Koufax, who in 1965 threw a 132-pitch shutout in Game 7 of the World Series, on two days’ rest.

— We end the year with good news: Thursday, Tampa Bay Bucs’ backup QB Blaine Gabbert helped rescue three people from Tampa Bay after a helicopter accident landed them in the water. All the people survived, with no injuries. 

Friday’s Den: Notes on NFL teams’ playoff histories

Since winning Super Bowl 10 years ago, they’re 2-4 in playoff games, 0-2 at home. Ravens also won the Super Bowl in 2000. Lamar Jackson is 1-3 in playoff games, scoring 13 ppg.

Went WL in playoffs the last two years; before that, they went 0-5 in playoff games from 1996-2019. Bills are 0-4 in Super Bowls, with their last appearance in 1993.

Before winning AFC title last year, Bengals went 0-7 in playoff games from 1991-2020. Cincinnati won playoff games at Tennessee/Kansas City LY; before that, in their entire history, Bengals were 0-7 in road playoff games.

All-time record in playoff games: 7-7, 4-6 on the road. Made the playoffs seven times in their history, went 5-2 in their first playoff game those years.

Should also be noted that Doug Pederson won a Super Bowl coaching the Eagles.

Kansas City
Last three seasons, Chiefs are 7-2 in playoff games. From 1994-2018, Kansas City was 2-11 in playoff games.

Andy Reid has a 19-16 record in playoff games.

LA Chargers
Chargers have an 11-13 record in NFL playoff games, getting to one Super Bowl, in 1994. Bolts went WL in the playoffs, three of last four times they got in.

In their AFL days, Chargers played for the title five of the first six years, but went 1-4 in those title games, winning the AFL championship in 1963.

Dolphins haven’t won a playoff game since 2000, going 0-4 in last four playoff games, outscored 104-23 in those games. Dolphins last made the playoffs in 2016; before that, 2008.

Dallas— Cowboys are probably going to open on the road in the playoffs this year; since 1993, Dallas is 0-8 in road playoff games. Their last road playoff win was 30-20 in San Francisco, 30 years ago.

Minnesota— Since 1997, Vikings have been in playoffs 11 times; they went WL in playoffs in 8 of those 11 years, lost in first round the other three times. Vikings are 0-4 in Super Bowls, with their last appearance in 1976.

NJ Giants— Haven’t been in playoffs since 2016; they’ve won four Super Bowls, last one in 2011. Nine of their last 11 playoff games were either on road/neutral field games.

Philadelphia— Won their first Super Bowl title five years ago; since then, they’re 1-3 in playoff games, scoring 13.5 ppg. Eagles are 2-3 in last five home playoff games. 

San Francisco— Since 2012, 49ers have been in playoffs four times; they went WWL all four times, losing Super Bowls to Ravens/Chiefs, losing NFC title games at Seahawks/Rams.

49ers have won five Super Bowls, but last one was in 1994.

Tampa Bay— Buccaneers won Super Bowls in 2002/2020; in between, they went 0-2 in playoff games. Obviously, Tom Brady has won seven Super Bowls in his career, one with the Bucs.

Washington— Redskins won a playoff game 17-10 in Tampa in 2005; since then, they’re 0-5 in playoff games. Last three times Washington made the playoffs, they lost first round home games, all by 8+ points.

Playoff notes on other NFL teams:
Arizona— 4-0 in home playoff games, 2-8 in road playoff games, 0-1 in Super Bowls.

Atlanta— Hasn’t made playoffs since 2017, year after they blew that 28-3 lead in Super Bowl. 

Carolina— Lost Super Bowl seven years ago; they’re 0-1 in playoff games since then.

Chicago— Last made Super Bowl in 2006; since then, they’re 1-2 in playoff games, with lone win in 2010.

Cleveland— Old Browns became the Baltimore Ravens; the new Browns are 1-2 in playoff games, with lone win in 2020, when Baker Mayfield was their QB.

Denver— Won Super Bowl in 2015 with Peyton Manning; haven’t been in playoffs since.

Detroit— This year will be the 57th Super Bowl; during that time, Lions are 1-12 in playoff games, with lone win 31-6 against the Cowboys in 1991.

In fairness, back in the 50’s, Lions won three NFL titles in a six-year span, but that was before the AFL even existed, way before there was a Super Bowl.

Green Bay— Packers won Super Bowl in 2010; since then, they’re 7-9 in playoff games.

Houston— In their history, Texans are 4-2 in home playoff games, 0-4 on road.

Indianapolis— Haven’t made playoffs since 2018; they’ve won two Super Bowls, in 1970 and 2006.

Las Vegas— Lost Super Bowl in 2002; since then, they’re 0-2 in playoff games. They’ve won three Super Bowls, last of which was in 1983. 

LA Rams— 7-3 in playoffs under Sean McVay, winning Super Bowl last year- they also won a Super Bowl under Dick Vermeil in 1999. 

New England— Bill Belichick is 31-13 in playoff games; his last playoff win was in 2018.

NJ Jets— Lost AFC title game in 2009 and 2010, haven’t been in playoffs since then.

New Orleans— Lost their last three playoff games, all at home.

Pittsburgh— Haven’t won a playoff game since 2016; they’ve won six Super Bowls, last of which was in 2008.

Seattle— From 1985-2004, went 0-5 in playoff games; are 14-11 in playoffs since then.

Tennessee— Lost 20-13/19-16 in playoffs the last two years, which is why they drafted Malik Willis last spring. 

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

— Las Vegas Raiders are benching QB Derek Carr, will start Jarrett Stidham this week against San Francisco. Carr has started the Raiders’ last 91 games.

Stidham is in his 4th NFL season, has thrown 61 passes in 11 games. This will be his first start in the NFL.

Arkansas 55, Kansas 53, OT
Arkansas led 38-13 with 4:00 left in third quarter.
Kansas scored 15 points in last 1:05 to force overtime.
Jayhawks’ QB Daniels was 37-55/544 passing, with 5 TD’s.
Arkansas ran ball for 394 yards. 

Duke 30, Central Florida 13
Duke is now 35-12 ATS in its last 47 non-ACC games.
Blue Devils won five of last six games, overall.
UCF was 0-4 this season scoring less than 27 points.
Duke ran ball for 177 yards, was +2 in turnovers.

Oregon 28, North Carolina 27
Ducks drove 79 yards, scored game-winning TD with 0:19 left.
UNC converted 5-15 on 3rd down, 4-4 on 4th down.
Oregon ran ball for 209 yards (6.5 yards/carry).
Carolina lost its last four games, after a 9-1 start.

Texas Tech 42, Ole Miss 25
Red Raiders led 26-7 at halftime.
Ole Miss turned ball over five times, Texas Tech three times.
Tech ran ball for 242 yards (5 yards/carry).
Penalties: Rebels had 8 for 86 yards, Tech 3 for 15.

— Texas Tech gave football coach Joey McGuire a six-year, $26.6M contract; Tech went 8-5 this season, their first 8-win season since 2013.

Missouri 89, Kentucky 75
Wildcats are 8-4, 2-4 vs top 100 teams, with three losses by 10+ points.
Mizzou is 12-1, 4-1 vs top 100 teams- they made 10-25 on the arc.

UConn 74, Villanova 66
Huskies’ first win this season by less than 10 points.
Half of UConn’s 14 wins are top 100 wins.

LSU 60, Arkansas 57
Arkansas led by 6 with 9:20 left in game.
Three Razorbacks played all 40:00.
Teams combined to shoot 8-42 on the arc.

Nevada 74, Boise State 72
Boise led 63-56 with 4:22 left in game.
Nevada was 10-23 on the arc, Broncos 5-16

San Jose State 75, UNLV 72 OT
San Jose led 58-45 with 11:03 left in game.
Spartans out-rebounded UNLV 49-35 (16 offensive boards)
San Jose was 21-30 on foul line; UNLV 7-11.

— Phoenix Suns’ star Devin Booker is out for the next four weeks with a left leg injury.

— Milwaukee Brewers’ OF Christian Yelich has hit for the cycle three times in his career; all three of those came against Cincinnati.

— Apparently New York City gives out only so many yellow taxi cab medallions; that number is 13,587. Medallions are auctioned by the city and are transferrable on the open market by licensed brokers.

— Baseball stuff:
Red Sox gave P Corey Kluber a one-year, $10M deal.
Marlins gave IF Jean Segura a two-year, $17M deal. 

Wednesday’s Den; Mid-week musings…….

— NFL teams with most touchdown plays of 20+ yards:
16— Eagles, Raiders, Seahawks
15— 49ers
13— Dolphins
12— Cowboys

— NFL teams with fewest touchdown plays of 20+ yards:
1— Steelers— only one of their 24 TD’s was on a play of 20+ yards.
3— Colts, Buccaneers
4— Falcons
5— Rams, Texans

— Wake Forest QB Sam Hartman is bolting to Notre Dame; he played 45 games over five years for the Deacons, will be 24 next summer. He has one year of college eligibility left.

By way of comparison, Ravens’ QB Lamar Jackson will turn 26 next week; he’s already in his fifth year in the NFL.

As an Oakland A’s baseball fan, I despise free agency, but that’s where we are with college football now. Colleges are paying players NIL money and obviously, QB’s make the most $$$. Hartman must be getting paid to transfer away from Wake; why wouldn’t he just play pro football instead? 

— NFL coaches with shortest tenures:
1978— Pete McCulley, 49ers- went 1-8, got fired, then they hired Bill Walsh.
1976— Lou Holtz, Jets- went 3-10, quit, went back to college coaching
2007— Bobby Petrino, Falcons— also went 3-10, quit, went back to college coaching
2021— Urban Meyer, Jaguars— went 2-11, got fired, then they hired Doug Pederson.
2022— Nathaniel Hackett— went 4-11, got fired. Who do they hire next?

— Denver Broncos also fired their special teams coach, offensive line coach with two games left to go. Defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero turned down an offer to be the interim coach, but he’ll interview to be their new head coach.

Condoleeza Rice owns a small part of the Broncos; she has connections to Stanford. I’ll guess that former Stanford coach David Shaw is going to get an interview for this job.

— Over their last three games, Green Bay Packers ran 196 plays, their opponents ran 138. Green Bay outscored those teams 45-9 in the second half.

— Jets are getting QB Mike White back this week, for their game in Seattle. Jets scored 21.7 ppg in White’s three starts (1-2) this season.

— Arizona DE JJ Watt announced he is retiring after the season; he’s had a great 12-year career, winning Defensive Player of Year three times, but he’s a better person than he was a ballplayer.

While playing for the Texans, Watt helped raise $38-40M to help flood victims in Houston after Hurricane Harvey ravaged Houston in 2017.

— Buffalo 23, Georgia Southern 21
Buffalo converted 12-19 third down plays.
GSU QB Vantrease threw for 355 yards against his old team.
Buffalo wins its third straight bowl game.

— Memphis 38, Utah State 10
Tigers threw for 284 yards (9.8 yards/pass attempt)
Game was 24-3 at halftime.
Memphis gained 179 yards, just in the 2nd quarter.

— East Carolina 53, Coastal Carolina 29
Pirates averaged 5.4 yards/running play, 8.1 yards/pass play.
Chanticleers lost three fumbles (minus-3 in turnovers)
penalties: Coastal 11-98 yards; ECU 11-130.

— Wisconsin 24, Oklahoma State 7
Both teams had new QB’s; the starters both transferred. 
Badgers ran ball 47 times for 258 yards (5.7 yards/carry).
Oklahoma State completed only 14-31 passes. 

— Bad beat in the NBA Monday night; with 2:56, Pistons (+5.5) led Clippers 126-112, but not only did they not win the game, they didn’t even cover, losing 142-131 in overtime.

— There was almost a similar bad beat in the NBA Tuesday night; Knicks (+5.5) led Dallas 110-101 with 0:44 left in game- they lost 126-121 in overtime. Ugly loss.

Knicks were only 15-24 in foul line; Luka Doncic was 16-22 on the line by himself. Mavericks made 25-33 on the line overall.

Doncic, by the way, scored 60 points, with 21 rebounds, 10 assists. 

— Baseball stuff:
Braves gave C Sean Murphy a 6-year, $73M contract
Rangers gave P Nathan Eovaldi a 2-year, $34M deal
Pirates gave 42-year old P Rich Hill a one-year, $8M deal

Hill will be 43 in March; he was 8-7, 4.27 in 26 starts for the Red Sox last year. Pittsburgh will be his 12th major league team. 

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

— If the NFL playoffs started today, these QB’s would start in the playoffs:
Buffalo— Josh Allen, 1st round pick (#7)
Kansas City— Patrick Mahomes, 1st round pick (#10)
Cincinnati— Joe Burrow, 1st round pick (#1)
Jacksonville— Trevor Lawrence, 1st round pick (#1)
Baltimore— Lamar Jackson, 1st round pick (#32)
LA Chargers— Justin Herbert, 1st round pick (#6)
Miami— Tua Tagovoiloa, 1st round pick (#5)/Teddy Bridgewater, 1st round (#32)

All seven AFC starting QB’s would be first round draft picks.

Philadelphia— Jalen Hurts, 2nd round pick
Minnesota— Kirk Cousins, 4th round pick
San Francisco— Brock Purdy, 7th round pick
Tampa Bay— Tom Brady, 6th round pick
Dallas— Dak Prescott, 4th round pick
NJ Giants— Daniel Jones, 1st round pick (#6)
Washington— Carson Wentz, 1st round pick (#2)

Only 2 of 7 starting QB’s in NFC playoffs would be first round picks. 

— Green Bay Packers have won their last fifteen December games; their next game is being played Sunday, January 1st.

— Tua Tagovoiloa went into concussion protocol Monday; sounds like he’ll be out for this week’s game in New England. Teddy Bridgewater is the backup QB; Skylar Thompson is the #3 QB.

Meanwhile, Miami is 32nd in kickoff coverage, 25th in punt coverage, 31st in kickoff returns and 30th in punt returns. Special teams suck, QB is hurt, team has lost four games in a row.

— Denver Broncos did the inevitable, fired coach Nathaniel Hackett, who seemed overmatched in the #1 chair. Denver is 4-11 despite selling the farm to acquire Russell Wilson:

Denver sent two first round picks to Seattle, plus…….
Two second round picks
A fifth round pick
three players
They’re paying Wilson a guaranteed $165M……..and they’re 4-11.

— In his last seven games, Jacksonville Jaguars’ QB Trevor Lawrence has thrown for 1,909 yards, with 14 TD passes, only one INT. Hiring Doug Pederson as coach has worked out great for Jacksonville, which is stunningly in first place in AFC South with two weeks to go.

Chargers 20,, Colts 3
— Chargers clinched their first playoff berth since 2018.
— Chargers’ first 3 drives: 9 plays, 18 yards, no first downs.
— Chargers last 7 drives: 58 plays, 278 yards, 20 points.
— Under is 6-2 in Bolts’ last eight games.
— Chargers are 8-1 giving up less than 27 points, 1-5 if they give up 27+.

— Last three games, Colts were outscored 82-9 in 2nd half/OT.
— Colts were 0-10 on third down, Chargers 8-18
— Last five games, Colts converted 18-89 (26.1%) third down plays.
— Colts are 3-1-1 scoring 20+ points, 1-9 if they score less.
— Colts lost eight of their last nine games SU.

New Mexico State 24, Bowling Green 19
— Last 10 years, NM State was 26-85; they went 7-6 this year.
— Aggies started season 0-4, outscored 147-32.
— This was coach Kill’s first win in six bowl games.
— Underdogs are 7-3 ATS in last ten Quick Lane Bowls.

— So far in bowl games this month, underdogs are 10-7 ATS; under is 10-6-1 in those games.

— A reminder that since 2010, when a QB wins the Heisman Trophy, his team is 12-5 SU in bowl games that year, 10-7 against the spread. Caleb Williams’ USC squad is a 2-point favorite over Tulane in the Cotton Bowl next week.

— Apparently the day the Mets announced they were signing Carlos Correa to the big contract that he hasn’t signed yet, the Mets sold $1M in single game tickets. In one day.

— NBC flexed Rams-Chargers out of this week’s Sunday night slot, and chose Steelers-Ravens for their 8:15 telecast.

— Atlanta Falcons covered their first six games this season; they’re 0-9 ATS in their last nine games, and now they’re starting a rookie QB.

— It was 46 degrees in Miami Christmas afternoon, when the Packers nipped Miami; it was the coldest Dolphins’ home game since 1989.

— One day last week, price of gas went down 40 cents a gallon; that was a pleasant surprise.

— New Mexico Lobos are 12-0, albeit vs schedule #275; Lobos are #22 in this week’s top 25 college basketball poll, first time in nine years New Mexico has been there.

— Former Texas QB Hudson Card is transferring to Purdue; he started five games at Texas, but Arch Manning is coming to Austin, so Card wasn’t going to play there anymore.

— NFL officials are getting soft with roughing-the-passer penalties; someone on the Dolphins gave Aaron Rodgers a two-hand shove after he threw a pass, and they threw a flag. No way this was a penalty; guys who played QB in the 80’s and earlier had to be laughing— they used to get pummeled by pass rushers. Way easier to play QB now, and opposed to the old days.

— Last thing today; it baffles me that Cleveland didn’t want Baker Mayfield as its QB; the guy went 30-31 as QB of the Browns, 1-1 in playoff games. You win a playoff game in Cleveland, you figure they’d build the guy a statue, but they went all in on Deshaun Watson and told Mayfield to take a hike. Go figure.

Watson went 28-25 in Houston, 1-2 in playoff games, but he’s been sued by dozens of women. You really want the face of your franchise to have numerous off-field issues? I would not.

This still needs to play out down the road, but Mayfield is definitely a starter-quality NFL QB; where he surfaces next year will be an interesting topic to follow. 

Monday’s Den: Wrapping up Week 16 in the NFL

Packers 26, Dolphins 20
— Dolphins lost their last four games, after a 5-0 streak.
— Miami in first half: 6 drives: 26 plays, 229 yards, 20 points.
— Miami in 2nd half: 4 drives: 22 plays, 100 yards, 3 INT’s, no points.
— Last four games, Dolphins are 10-39 on third down.
— Miami leads four teams by game each for last playoff slot.

— Packers won last three games, after a 1-7 skid.
— Green Bay had 12-yard advantage in field position.
— Packers’ last five drives: one TD, three field goals.
— Packers won despite converting only 2-14 on third down.
— Packers led at halftime once in last eight games.

Rams 51, Broncos 14
— Performances like this get head coaches fired.
— Denver lost 10 of their last 12 games (4-7-1 ATS)
— Rams led 31-6 at halftime.
— Broncos scored 16 or fewer points in 11 of 15 games.
— Denver is 0-7 SU in true road games TY; they won game in England.

— Rams scored on every drive (5 TD’s/3 FG’s); they took knee with 0:06 left.
— Rams’ first two TD drives were only 34-11 yards.
— Akers ran ball 23 times for 118 yards, three TD’s.
— Higbee caught nine passes for 94 yards, two TD’s.
— Rams won two of Mayfield’s three starts for them. 

Buccaneers 19, Cardinals 16 OT
— Cardinals led 16-6 with 9:00 left in regulation.
— Tampa Bay tied game on a FG with 2:31 left in regulation.
— 7-8 Buccaneers lead NFC South by a game.
— Tampa Bay is 7-1 allowing less than 20 points, 0-7 giving up 20+.
— Buccaneers are 5-9 ATS last 14 games as road favorite (2-4 TY)

— Cardinals’ last four drives: 20 plays, 71 yards, 2 turnovers, no points.
— McSorley was 24-45/217 passing, in his first NFL start.
— Last three games, Arizona converted 11-45 third down plays.
— Arizona is 1-11 SU when it scores less than 29 points.
— Cardinals lost five in row, nine of their last 11 games SU.

— Since 1950, only two NFL QB’s have started their careers 3-0 with 2+ passing TD’s in each game………49ers’ QB Brock Purdy and Hall of Famer Kurt Warner.

Hawai’i 58, SMU 57
Host Rainbows win Diamond Head Classic on 3-pointer at buzzer.
SMU led by 12 with 14:30 left in game.
Mustangs missed front end of two 1&1’s in last minute.

Utah State 82, Washington State 73
Aggies made 11-17 3-pointers.
Good win for everyone in Mountain West Conference.
Mountain West is 6-5 SU/ATS vs Pac-12 this season.

Creighton 80, DePaul 65
Since 2008, DePaul is 49-222 in Big East conference games.
Bluejays made 16-29 3-point shots in this game.
DePaul scored 55 ppg in its last three games.  

Bengals 22, Patriots 18
— Bengals led this game 22-0 at halftime.
— First half stats: Bengals ran 48 plays for 303 yards.
— First half stats: Patriots ran 15 plays for 60 yards.
— Patriots fumbled on Cincinnati’s 6-yard line with 0:55 left.
— New England missed two PAT’s and a 2-point conversion.

— Patriots’ last eight games: 11 TD’s, 23 FGA’s, 31 3/outs on 88 drives.
— Patriots lost four of their last five games SU.
— Cincinnati won/covered last seven games (12-1 ATS last 13).
— Cincy  is 6-3 SU on road TY, 6-2 ATS as a road favorite.
— Bengals are 14-7 ATS last 21 games as a road favorite.

Vikings 27, Giants 24
— Joseph kicked a 61-yard FG at the gun for the win.
— Vikings scored TD on a 29-yard drive after a blocked punt.
— Vikings won 11 of their last 13 games SU.
— Minnesota is 10-0 when it scores 24+ points, 2-3 when it does not. 
— Despite being 12-3, Vikings have outscored foes only 378-373.

— Giants converted 3-11 on third down, Minnesota 6-13.
— Big Blue outgained Vikings, 445-353.
— Barkley ran for 84 yards (6.0 yards/carry) and a TD.
— Giants are 11-4 ATS this season, 5-1 as a road underdog.
— Giants are 2-5-1 SU last eight games, after a 6-1 start.

Ravens 17, Falcons 9
— Atlanta was in red zone four times, scored only nine points.
— Falcons lost six of last seven games SU, are 0-9 ATS in last nine.
— In 2 games with Ridder, Atlanta scored 2 TD’s on 18 drives, with 4 FG’s.
— Falcons averaged only 3.5 yards/pass play.
— Atlanta is 1-5 SU outdoors this season, scoring 16 ppg.

— Ravens’ only TD came on 70-yard drive near end of first half.
— Baltimore is 9-1 giving up 20 or less points, 1-4 if they give up 20+.
— Last three games, Ravens ran ball for 215-198-184 yards.
— Last four weeks, Ravens converted 16-50 (32%) on 3rd down.
— Baltimore won eight of its last eleven games SU.

Saints 17, Browns 10
— Saints’ winning TD came on 15-yard drive after a 3rd quarter INT.
— This was Saints’ first win in six outdoor games this year.
— Dalton was only 8-15/92 passing for the whole game.
— Saints held last seven opponents under 6.0 yards/pass attempt.
— Seven of last eight New Orleans games stayed under the total.

— Cleveland’s only TD came on a 30-yard drive after an INT.
— Watson’s four games: Browns scored 3 TD’s on 38 drives, with 16 3/outs.
— Cleveland was in red zone three times, scored only 10 points.
— Browns averaged only 3.8 yards/pass attempt.
— Browns are 7-12-1 ATS last 20 games as a home favorite (2-3 TY).

Panthers 37, Lions 23
— Carolina ran for 240 yards in first half, most of any team since 2006.
— Panthers’ first six drives: 42 plays, 428 yards, 31 points.
— You’re reading armadillosports com
— Only nine of Carolina’s 65 plays came on third down.
— Carolina had seven plays of 30+ yards.
— Panthers won four of last six games, covered seven of last nine.

— Lions ran ball 17 times for only 45 yards.
— Carolina ran for 320 yards, averaged 11.4 yards/pass play.
— Panthers outgained Detroit, 570-381.
— Detroit had two empty trips to the red zone.
— Under Campbell, Lions are 10-21-1 SU, 21-10-1 ATS.

Bills 35, Bears 13
— Buffalo ran ball for 254 yards (8.2 yards/carry).
— Bills were 6-11 on 3rd down, Chicago 2-12.
— Buffalo outgained the Bears, 426-209.
— Last five games, Bills converted 32-66 (48.5%) on third down.
— Bills won their last six games, scoring 28.3 ppg.

— Bears were in red zone four times, scored only 13 points.
— Chicago lost eight in row, 11 of last 12 games SU (3-8-1 ATS).
— Last eight games, Chicago gave up 32.6 ppg.
— Opponents scored TD’s on 30 of last 74 drives.
— Over is 9-1-1 in their last eleven games.

Texans 19, Titans 14
— Texans snap their nine-game losing streak.
— Houston outgained the Titans, 285-272.
— Under is 6-3 in Houston’s last nine games.
— With loss, Titans fall behind Jacksonville in AFC South.
— Tennessee scored 19 or less points in nine of last 11 games. 

— Titans turned ball over 3 times, averaged only 3.3 yards/pass attempt.
— Tennessee lost last five games, scoring 16-10-22-14-14 points.
— Henry ran ball for 126 yards and a TD.
— Last five weeks, Titans were outscored 60-28 in second half.
— Titans are 0-5 SU since OC got a DUI coming home from road trip.  

Chiefs 24, Seahawks 10
— Seattle’s first five drives: 20 plays, 22 yards, 1 first down, no points.
— Seahawks were 2-14 on third down, Chiefs 3-11.
— Seattle averaged only 4.8 yards/pass attempt.
— Seattle is 1-5 SU/0-6 ATS in their last six games.
— Geno Smith is 20-28 as an NFL starter.

— Chiefs were in red zone three times, scored three TD’s.
— Chiefs won 10 of last 12 games (5-7 ATS).
— Chiefs have 79 plays of 20+ yards; opponents have 48.
— Kansas City had 9-yard edge in field position.
— Chiefs were held under their team total in 6 of last 8 games.

49ers 37, Commanders 20
— Game was 7-7 at halftime.
— 49ers scored 3 TD’s, 3 FG’s on seven second half drives.
— 49ers outscored last seven opponents 117-37 in second half.
— 49ers are 9-0 when they score 24+ points, 3-4 when they don’t.
— San Francisco won its last eight games (7-1 ATS)

— Former starter Wentz replaced Heinicke at QB late in third quarter,
— Washington was 7-13 on third down, 49ers 4-11.
— Commanders ran for 79 yards, first time since Week 8 they ran for less than 100 yards.
— Washington is 4-1 when it scores 23+ points, 3-6-1 if they don’t.
— Washington is still hanging on to the #7-seed in the NFC. 

Cowboys 40, Eagles 34
— Cowboys are 10-5 ATS last 15 games as home favorite (5-2 TY)
— Dallas is +14 in turnovers in its wins, minus-2 in losses.
— Cowboys won 11 of their last 14 games (9-5 ATS).
— Last eight games, Dallas scored 36 TD’s on 85 drives.
— Dallas is 14-4 ATS last 18 NFC East home games.

— Eagles turned ball over four times (minus-3).
— DeVonta Smith caught eight passes for 112 yards, two TD’s.
— Over is 6-1-1 in last eight Eagle games.
— Under Sirianni, Eagles are 4-7 ATS as an underdog.
— Philly is now 7-1 SU on road this year, 2-6 ATS.

Steelers 13, Raiders 10
— Steelers drove 76 yards, scored game-winning TD with 0:46 left.
— Pittsburgh is 5-2 since its bye week, with +8 turnover ratio.
— Steelers have one turnover (+12) in their wins, 17 (-11) in losses.
— In seven post-bye games, opponents are 26-79 (32.9%) on third down
— Under is 8-3 in their last eleven games.

— Raiders drove 72 yards for a TD on their first drive.
— Rest of game: 39 plays, 109 yards, 7 first downs, 3 points.
— Raiders averaged only 4.3 yards per pass attempt.
— Raiders are 3-7 SU in games decided by 5 or less points, or in OT.
— Raiders have lost five games they led by 7+ points at halftime.

— Pitt QB Kedon Slovis is transferring to BYU; Slovis started his college career at USC.

Middle Tennessee 25, San Diego State 23
Blue Raiders kicked 37-yard FG with 2:05 left for the win.
San Diego State led 14-0 after the first quarter.
Aztecs outgained Middle Tennessee 364-170.
San Diego State turned ball over five times (minus-4)

Sunday’s Den: NBA trends…….

NBA trends (thru December 24)

Hawks (17-16):
— 3-1 last four games SU.
— 1-5 ATS last six as home favorite
— over 6-2 last eight games

Celtics (23-10):
— 2-5 SU/1-5-1 ATS last seven games
— 1-4 ATS last five games as a home favorite
— under 10-1 last 11 road games

Nets (21-12):
— won last eight games SU (5-2 ATS last seven).
— 5-1 ATS last six as a road underdog
— over 6-2 in their last eight games.

Hornets (9-24):
— lost 11 of last 13 games SU.
— 3-8 ATS as a home underdog
— over 6-1 last seven road games

Bulls (14-18)
— won/covered last three games.
— 2-6 ATS last eight home games.
— under 8-2-1 last eleven home games

Cavaliers (22-12):
— won five of last seven games SU
— 12-4-1 ATS as a home favorite.
— over 4-1 last five games

Mavericks (17-16):
— 4-5 SU last nine games.
— 3-7 ATS as road favorites.
— under 5-1 last six games

Nuggets (20-11):
—won six of last seven games SU.
— 6-11 ATS on the road 
— under 4-0 last four games

Pistons (8-27):
— lost 12 of last 15 games SU.
— 2-6 ATS last eight games
— over 6-1 in their last seven home games.

Warriors (15-18):
— lost seven of last nine games SU
— 9-4 ATS as home favorite; 1-7 ATS as road favorite.
— under 8-2 last ten home games.

Rockets (9-23):
— 0-5 SU/1-4 ATS in last five games
— 7-2 ATS last nine as home underdog
— under 5-2 last seven road games 

Pacers (17-16):
— split their last ten games SU
— 7-2-1 ATS last 10 as a road underdog
— under 4-1 last five road games

Clippers (19-15):
— 5-2 SU/ATS last seven games 
— 4-1 ATS last five home games.
— under 18-4 in Staples Center. 

Lakers (13-19):
— lost last three games SU/0-4 ATS last four
— 2-9 ATS as a road underdog.
— over 7-1 last eight road games

Grizzlies (20-11):
— won/covered eight of last 10 games.  
— 3-10 ATS last 13 road games
— under 4-1 last five road games

Heat (16-17):
— home side won/covered six of last seven games.
— 3-12-1 ATS as a home favorite
— under 5-1 last six games.

Bucks (22-10):
— 3-4 SU last seven games
— 5-1 ATS last six home games.
— over 10-2 last 12 home games.

Timberwolves (16-17):
— 3-5 last eight games SU.
— 2-7 ATS as road underdogs
— under 6-3 last nine home games

Pelicans (20-12):
— 9-4 SU in their last 13 games.
— 6-2 ATS last eight games as home favorite
— over 7-1 last eight games

Knicks (18-15):
— lost last two games SU, after an 8-0 run.
— 6-10-1 ATS at home.
— under 10-3 last 13 road games 

Thunder (14-19):
— won three of last four games SU (5-2 ATS last seven).
— 9-2 ATS last 11 games as an underdog.
— under 5-2 last seven road games

Magic (13-21):
—7-1 last eight games SU/10-0 ATS last ten
— 11-4 ATS as home underdog
— over 4-1 last five road games. 

76ers (19-12):
— won last seven games SU (6-1 ATS)
— 13-1 ATS last 14 home games
— over 3-1 last four road games

Suns (19-14):
— 3-7 last ten games SU
— 1-4 ATS last five road games.
— over 6-3 last nine road games

Trailblazers (17-16):
— 1-4 last five games SU
— 8-5 ATS at home.
— over 7-1 last eight home games

Kings (17-14):
— 3-4 SU last seven games
— 9-5 ATS as a favorite.
— nine of last 11 home games went over.

Spurs (10-22):
— 1-4 SU/ATS last five games 
— 3-8 ATS last 11 games as road underdog.
— over 6-1 last seven games

Raptors (15-18):
— won last two games, after an 0-6 skid
— 7-4 ATS as a road underdog
— over 5-1 six games

Jazz (19-16):
— 4-2 SU/ATS last six games.
— 5-1 ATS as a home underdog
— over 6-2 last eight road games

Wizards (13-21):
— 2-9 SU/4-7 ATS last 11 games.
— 2-6 ATS last eight games as a home favorite. 
— under 4-0-1 last five road games.

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

— First of all, hope all of you have an excellent Christmas; thanks for reading this blog, hope you read it every day (you don’t read it every day?!?!?!). Hope we all have an excellent 2023.

— Why, why, why do TV stations send reporters people outside during winter storms? As I type this, some poor bastard is standing outside in Buffalo, struggling to stand still in a vicious storm with both wind/snow beating down on him. We get it, the weather sucks; why punish this guy?

— 50 years ago this week, Steelers beat Oakland 13-7 in a dramatic playoff game, the Immaculate Reception game, where Franco Harris scored on a 60-yard TD pass off a deflection right at the end of the game. One of the most dramatic wins in NFL history. 

Before that game, the Steelers had never won a playoff game; they had losing seasons in 25 of their previous 37 seasons. Starting in 1972, Pittsburgh made the playoffs eight years in a row, winning four Super Bowls. That one play was the turning point in their franchise history.

— Which college QB has thrown the most TD passes this season?

Western Kentucky QB Austin Reed has thrown 41 TD passes this year; never would’ve guessed that.

— Read this week that there are now 333.2 million people in this country, 1.2 million more than at this time last year.

— Phoenix Suns sold for $4B this week; that’s billion, with a B.

Just 12 years ago, Golden State Warriors sold for $450M. Warriors are a much more successful franchise than Phoenix. NBA has taken off in popularity all over the world. The league basically forced the Suns’ owner out because he’s a bad guy, but he still banks a $4B payday. 

— There are 42 NBA players making $30M+ this season.

— Lakers’ star Anthony Davis is out for a while with a foot injury; they haven’t said exactly how long he’ll be out, but it doesn’t sound good.

— Kids today don’t know how great a basketball player Wilt Chamberlain was; he still holds the record, with two streaks of 14 games in a row with 40+ points.

Chamberlain helped the 76ers win the 1967 NBA title, but people criticized him because they said he didn’t pass enough, so the next year, Wilt led the league in assists. Seriously, he did.

The guy scored 100 points in a game; he also played in 79+ games in seven of his last eight seasons, spanning ages 29-36, and this was before teams flew on charters. None of this load management BS for him.

— Arizona Diamondbacks are trading OF/C Daulton Varsho to Toronto, for C Gabriel Moreno and OF/1B Lourdes Gurriel Jr. Varsho hit 27 homers for Arizona LY.

— P Erick Fedde signed a $1M deal with the NC Dinos in Korean baseball; $1M is the maximum deal for a foreign player who is in his first season in the KBO.

— Two best base stealers ever: Rickey Henderson and Lou Brock.

Brock stole his first base on April 13, 1962.
Henderson stole his last base on August 29, 2003. 

There were four days in 1979 where Brock/Henderson both stole a base on the same day.

— Houston Astros are really good in large part because their international scouting is excellent; they have four starting pitchers— Framber Valdez, Cristian Javier, Luis Garcia, Jose Urquidy, whose COMBINED signing bonuses were only $140,000.

Houston 23, Louisiana 16
Houston drove 92 yards, scored game-winning TD with 0:20 left.
Ragin’ Cajuns led 13-0 in second quarter.
Teams combined to convert 6-25 on 3rd down, 6-8 on 4th down.
Houston was +3 in turnovers.

Wake Forest 27, Missouri 17
Wake QB Hartman threw for 280 yards, three TD’s.
How is Dave Clawson still the coach at Wake Forest? Some big $$$ school should scoop him up. Wake is a smallish school for big-time football; last seven years, Deacons are 44-30- they’ve won four of last six bowl games.

— Clemson QB DJ Uiagalelei is now Oregon State QB DJ Uiagalelei; he bolted to Corvallis this week, as the epidemic of QB’s transferring continues. He needs to be a more accurate passer.

— Mets traded backup C James McCann to Baltimore, have now signed C Omar Narvaez to an $8M deal for next season. Narvaez has a .728 career OPS.

— San Francisco Giants spend some of the $$$ they saved on the Carlos Correa non-signing; they gave Michael Conforto a 2-year, $36M deal— he sat out last year a shoulder sinjury, and they also gave P Taylor Rogers a 3-year, $33M deal. Rogers joins his twin brother Tyler in the Giants’ bullpen.

— Phillies signed closer Craig Kimbrel to a one-year, $10M deal. 

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

— NFL’s Sunday Ticket is going to YouTube TV starting next year, which means that I’ll dump DirecTV after college basketball ends in March. I’ve had DirecTV for a long time, but primarily so I can watch the Rams every week, without going out to bars to watch.

Have to do my research on the best TV plan going forward; lot of options out there. I know almost nothing about YouTube TV, but I have until August to figure it out.

— Mets’ fans are excited about signing Justin Verlander, Carlos Correa as free agents; they’re going to have the biggest payroll in MLB history. Good for them. 

But hey, the A’s signed Drew Rucinski this week. The 33-year old Rucinski gets $3M for this year, roughly what the Mets’ batboys earn (kidding). $3M is big money in Oakland. So what if Verlander will make $1,343,750 PER START this year, and that’s if he starts 32 games.

Rucinski pitched for the NC Dinos in Korea the last four years, going 53-36, 3.06 in 121 KBO starts. He is 4-4, 5.33 in 41 major league games from 2014-18, with the Angels/Marlins.

— An unusual thing about college basketball is that once you play a team out of conference, you root like hell for that team to win games, since their success helps your strength of schedule, which factors in to if/where you land on Selection Sunday. 

Let’s look at UNLV, which is 11-1, but against schedule #227. Rebels beat Dayton/Washington State, two top 100 teams, lost by a hoop to #89 San Francisco. None of those three teams are in the top 50, so it will really help the Rebels if those three teams win a lot of conference games. 

Jaguars 19, Jets 3
Jacksonville is 5-2 SU in last seven games after a 2-6 start.
QB Lawrence threw for 229 yards, ran 7 times for 51 more yards.
Jaguars were 7-16 on third down, Jets 2-13.
Last six games, Jaguars are +7 in turnovers (13-6)

 Jets’ only score was FG on 1st drive; they recovered fumble on Jags’ 16-yard line.
#4 QB Streveler ran ball 9 times for 54 yards; rest of team had 11 rushes, 12 yards. 
Jets are 2-6 SU in their last eight games, after a 5-2 start.
Jets are 6-1 scoring 20+ points, 1-7 scoring less than 20.

— Eagles’ QB Jalen Hurts (shoulder) is out for Saturday’s game in Dallas; Gardner Minshew (8-14 as an NFL starter) will start under center for Philly.

— Ravens’ QB Lamar Jackson is out again this week, third game in a row he’ll miss. He is trying to get a huge contract from the Ravens, but the best ability is availability— Jackson got hurt in Week 13 LY, never played again, and now he’s missed Weeks 14-16 this year. Not good.

Adding to the intrigue is that Jackson has been acting as his own agent, which makes things in negotiations a lot more personal.

— Eastern Illinois 92, Iowa 83— How does a 31-point underdog win on the road?
Favored Hawkeyes led 22-8 early on.
Iowa was down two starters (Murray, Connor McCaffery)
Eastern Illinois shot 66.7% inside the arc.
Iowa was only 7-33 on the arc.

Eastern Illinois is a bad team, 2-9 vs D-I teams; their other D-I win was over IUPUI, the worst of all the 363 D-I teams in the country. Just a hideous loss for Iowa, the biggest favorite to lose in the last 30 years. 

— Wednesday was Early Signing Day in college football; lot of games that will be played 3-4 years from now were decided Wednesday, as teams re-stock their rosters. But don’t just assume what you hear on TV in true. Recruiting ratings aren’t gospel.

When he came out of high school, Aaron Donald was the #22 recruit in his class; he’s going to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. You think there were really 21 players who were better than him that year?

Some teams develop talent better than others; Kansas State is 10-3 this year, with three (3!!!!) players who were 4 or 5-star recruits. They recruit athletes, develop them into players.

— New York Knicks got nailed for tampering with free agent Jalen Brunson; as a result they’ll lose a 2nd-round draft pick in 2025. 

— Golden State Warriors are 15-18, #11-seed in the west right now, and Steph Curry is out for the next couple months. Warriors are 3-16 on the road; looks like they’ll miss the playoffs.

Law and Order is one of my favorite TV shows; 21 years, 472 episodes, a great launching point for lot of acting careers, not to mention the spinoff shows that branched off this original show. 

Take Billions on Showtime; there are 32 actors who have appeared in 12+ episodes of Billons. 14 of those 32 actors appeared in at least one episode of Law and Order, and two others were in Law and Order SVU, and that doesn’t count Eric Bogosian, who was in Law and Order: Criminal Intent for 61 episodes, but was only in 11 episodes of Billions (so far).

— Cincinnati Reds signed OF/1B Wil Myers to one-year, $6M deal; Myers had an injury-plagued 2022, then went 3-29 in the playoffs for San Diego. 

— Saints-Browns total Saturday is going to be the lowest NFL total since 2009, due to frigid weather in Ohio this weekend. 

— Billy Eppler is the New York Mets’ GM; when he first graduated from college at UConn, he interned with the NFL’s Washington Redskins, then scouted in the Bronx, became assistant GM there, and later moved on to become GM of the Angels. Must also be nice to be GM of a team where the owner writes blank checks.

— SMU 85, Iona 81— Mustangs trailed by 12 with 10:36 left in game, but rallied to beat Rick Pitino’s Iona squad, overcoming 21 turnovers. Iona lost despite making 13-22 on the arc. SMU shot 64.3% inside the arc.

This game is part of the Diamond Head Classic in Hawai’i. Christmas in Hawai’i must be fun.

— Detroit-Ottawa NHL game this week was postponed because of cruddy weather in Canada; it will be played February 27 instead.

— Missouri 93, Illinois 71— Tigers led 51-26 at half-time; putrid effort by the Illini, which is 2-3 in its last five games, after a 6-1 start. 

— Western Kentucky 44, South Alabama 23
Hilltoppers led 31-3 at halftime.
WKU’s first three TD’s came on plays of 44-27-25 yards.
Hilltoppers threw for 522 yards (9.3 yards/attempt)

— Air Force 30, Baylor 15
Falcons outgained Baylor 379-230.
Bears ran ball 26 times for 42 yards, completed only 11-23 passes.
Baylor lost its last four games, after a 6-3 start.

— Major League Baseball reduced Trevor Bauer’s suspension from 324 games to 194, meaning he is good to go for spring training. Dodgers have until January 6 to release him or add him to the 40-man roster. Bauer is eligible now, but is being docked pay for the first 50 games of 2023

Thursday’s Den: In a perfect world, where I made the decisions……….

 In a perfect world, where I made the decisions……….
— Higher-seeded NFL teams would choose their opponents for playoff games.

Eagles are the #1 seed in the NFC right now; they would get a first round bye, which leaves Minnesota as the #2 seed. They would get the choice of playing the 5-6-7 seed in their first playoff game, then San Francisco would get their choice of the two remaining teams to play.

This would be a tremendous TV show, when teams announce who they choose to play. Great TV means more $$$ and we know NFL owners love $$$.

Second round of the playoffs would be the same thing; #1-seed would get to choose which of the two lowest-remaining teams they’d like to play.

They used to do this in the G-League; we do it in our fantasy baseball league now— it is fun.

— Long time ago, in the early 70’s, NBA had a 1-on-1 tournament; this would be an awesome idea for the offseason, to raise $$$ for the charities of the players’ choice.

Imagine a 64-player bracket, with games on national TV in the summer; it would be excellent. Would be fun to sit in a sportsbook and watch people who bet on these games.

Two players per team would get in, and then you could have fan voting for the last four spots. It would create a lot of interest.

— Major League Baseball has to have a salary floor; we pretty much know there will never be a salary cap, but for the love of God, if you own a big league team and you don’t try to win, why do you own the freakin’ team?!?!?! 

A site called Spotrac estimates that the Mets will wind up paying a luxury tax of $84.2M on next year’s payroll. $84.2M tax on a payroll of $353,900,339. With Carlos Correa’s signing, the salary tax goes up to the $100M level.

Here are the bottom five estimated payrolls in MLB
26) Royals $96,280,809
27) Reds $86,491,989
28) Orioles $81,787,001
29) Pirates $72,965,709
30) A’s $61,930,158

Mets’ payroll TAX will be higher than five teams’ entire payrolls. Awesome.

So let’s suggest a $100M salary floor; you’re not up for that, then sell your team. Competitive balance is what makes the NFL great; baseball could use more of it.

— You know how they have four play-in games at the start of the NCAA Tournament? Those eight teams should all be at-large teams, not conference champs from cruddy conferences. Reward the conference champs by letting them all get to the first Thursday/Friday round.

Let the last teams eight who survive the bubble have to play in Dayton.

— Once a quarterback gets past the line of scrimmage running with the ball, he should lose his special quarterback protection. You see a guy run, then he slides down when he seems a tackler coming, and whines to the ref if he gets touched. You pass the line of scrimmage, you’re just another player.

— With USC/UCLA bolting the Pac-12 for a midwestern league (the Big 16?), Pac-12 will be back to Pac-10, unless they listed to us and add two teams:

UNLV, and either San Diego State/Boise State. BYU would’ve made sense, but they’re bolting to the Big X instead. Adding both San Diego State/Boise State would help the football side a decent amount, but how do you add teams and ignore Las Vegas?

— NFL should scrap Thursday games (except Week 1/Thanksgiving) and go to doubleheaders on Monday nights, that’s the better idea. Amazon Prime could still show a game every week, and the players wouldn’t have to play games on three days’ rest.

— One week every season, NBA games would use the red, white and blue ball the ABA had back in the day; the four former ABA teams that still exist (Pacers, Nuggets, Spurs, Nets) would play each other that week. A good way to honor the sport’s past.

— If I ran an NFL team and we had a good quarterback, I’d let him call plays and use no-huddle offense. Teams have all week to work up a game plan; let Sunday be the players’ day. Think that defenses would have harder time defining trends and they couldn’t substitute as much.

— Baseball should re-align geographically; the five California teams could be in one division, the two New York City teams should be division rivals, it would just be more fun.

Cubs-White Sox, A’s-Giants, Dodgers-Angels would be good division rivalries.

— High school basketball players should be able to jump right from high school to the pros; they used to do this. Lebron James, Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant; none of them played in college.

This would help the college game; people would become more familiar with the players who play college ball.

— There are readers out there who just LOVE IT when I talk about politics, so let’s do that for a minute. My idea: once any politician turns 72 years old, he/she cannot run for office again. We need younger people more invested in our government; having 80-year old senators makes zero sense. Who would be against this idea?

— When a college football/basketball coach takes more $$$ and moves up the coaching ladder, his new team should have to play a road game at the coach’s old school, to compensate them for poaching the coach.

Last spring, Shaheen Holloway bolted from Saint Peter’s to Seton Hall; under my plan, Seton Hall would have to come to Jersey City and play a road game against the Peacocks. Big money teams don’t like to play true road games.

— There is absolutely no need for baseball managers/coaches to wear uniforms; let them dress like football coaches, with pullovers/khakis.

— College basketball has no official starting point; they should bring back the 24-hour college basketball marathon that used to be on TV. It was awesome; it was actually 28 or 29 straight hours of college hoop, with a game from Hawai’i at 4am, then small college East Coast games at 6am/8am. Maybe the night before Election Day, so we have a solid TV option instead of results of elections.

Wednesday’s Den: Mid-week musings……..

— San Francisco Giants were supposed to sign SS Carlos Correa to a 13-year, $350M contract, then have a big press conference about it Tuesday, but a medical concern appeared during Correa’s physical, and everything was on hold.

I’m typing this at 4am, watching re-runs of The West Wing on my laptop; Correa has changed his mind, and inked a 12-year, $315M deal with the New York Mets.

I’m wondering what those medical concerns are.

— I was thinking the other day: “How do Heisman Trophy winners do in their bowl game?” so I looked it up. It figures that winning the Heisman is a big distraction; football coaches pretty much hate distractions.

Since 2009, the Heisman winner’s team is 12-6 SU, 11-7 ATS in their bowl; some of those teams were in the college football playoff, which is why it is 18 games in 14 years. 

— New York Knicks have won eight games in a row, during which they’re +112 with Quentin Grimes on the floor. Of the 48 NBA players who played 250+ minutes since the Knicks’ streak started, Grimes’ +112 is the best plus-minus in the league. 

— Atlanta Falcons covered their first six games this season, going 3-3 SU; they’re 0-8 ATS since then, going 2-6 SU. Now they’re starting a rookie QB, which usually doesn’t help much in the present.

— Billionaire mortgage lender Mat Ishbia bought the Phoenix Suns Tuesday for roughly $4B, that’s billion, with a B. The deal includes the Phoenix team in the WNBA.

Ishbia, president and CEO of United Wholesale Mortgage, a Michigan-based company, has been trying to buy NBA/NFL teams recently- he tried to buy the Denver Broncos LY. He was a walk-on reserve for Michigan State’s national champion college hoop team in 2000.

— Quarterback Devin Leary transferred from NC State to Kentucky; he played 30 games for the Wolfpack, throwing 62 TD’s with only 16 INT’s. He will be coached by Liam Coen, who is going back to being an assistant at Kentucky after coaching this year with the LA Rams.

— Hopefully another college QB, JT Daniels, will write a book someday; Daniels announced this week that he is transferring to Rice, his 4th college stop. He must have some very interesting stories to tell. 

Daniels played two years (12 games) at USC, then two years (9 games) at Georgia, then played this year at West Virginia (10 games). Daniels will turn 23 on Groundhog Day; he’ll be 24 before the NFL drafts him in 2024.

— Other baseball happenings:
Angels signed IF Brandon Drury to a 2-year, $17M deal.
P Jordan Lyles gets a 2-year, $17M deal with Kansas City.
RP Adam Ottavino gets a 2-year, $14.5M deal to stay with the Mets.
1B/OF Matt Carpenter signed a one-year, $6M deal with San Diego

— Last six games, Chicago Bears have been outscored 45-0 in last 2:00 of each half.

— Green Bay waived WR Sammy Watkins Monday afternoon; Baltimore Ravens gobbled him up Tuesday, after WR Devin Duvernay got hurt in practice.

— Providence 103, Marquette 98, 2OT
Marquette led by 8 with 5:04 left in regulation.
Providence was 35-49 on foul line, Marquette 13-19; three Golden Eagles fouled out.

— Wake Forest 81, Duke 70—In 1975, John Wooden retired as UCLA’s coach; he remains the best college hoop coach ever. The guy who replaced Wooden was Gene Bartow, who went 52-9 at UCLA, but 52-9 wasn’t good enough to satisfy a spoiled fanbase, and he left to start the program at UAB, where he wound up coaching for 18 years. He was a very good coach. 

Which brings us to Jon Scheyer, who is replacing Mike Krzyzewski this year; Krzyzewski is probably the 2nd-best coach of all-time. Duke is 10-3 this year- they started three freshmen in the Wake Forest game, but freshman don’t always stay in school very long, and Duke’s fanbase is spoiled.

It’ll be interesting to see how long Scheyer lasts at Duke; he’ll win lot of games, but it figures to be a thankless job. He’ll get other offers from less-stressful programs; when will he jump?

— There have been some big upsets in college basketball the last couple nights:
North Alabama (+22) 66, Ole Miss 65
Weber State (+16) 75, Utah State 72
Md-Eastern Shore (+15.5) 86, Temple 78
Tex-Arlington (+15) 68, San Francisco 63
Utah Valley (+12) 77, Oregon 72
Harvard (+10) 62, Cal-Irvine 57

— Miami 66, Virginia 64— Hurricanes are quietly 12-1, 3-0 in ACC games. 

— Eastern Michigan 41, San Jose State 27
Spartans led 13-0, had PAT blocked and run back for two points.
Eastern Michigan wound up scoring 33 consecutive points.
EMU WR Lassiter caught six passes for 108 yards, two TD’s.

— Toledo 21, Liberty 19
Rockets were 10-18 on third down, Liberty 2-9
Toledo ran 84 plays for 356 yards; Liberty 41 plays for 253 yards.
Good day for the MAC, going 2-0 in bowls. 

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

— Genius alert; the guy in Texas who caught Aaron Judge’s 62nd home run was offered $3M for the baseball, but he turned it down, putting it up for auction instead, figuring he would get more than $3M. Whoops. 

The bidding for the baseball just closed, with a high bid of……….$1.5M.

— When a QB throws a long pass and they call pass interference, the QB/WR should get stat credit for it, maybe a separate category, but they deserve credit.

— Indianapolis Colts lost 39-36 Saturday, blowing a 33-0 halftime lead; little odd that they scored 36 points, but had only one offensive TD— they had a pick-6 and a special teams TD- they also kicked five field goals.

— Chargers’ QB Justin Herbert is the first player in NFL history with 4,000+ passing yards in each of his first three NFL seasons.

— Eagles QB Jalen Hurts sprained his right (throwing) shoulder in Chicago Sunday; they’re not saying whether Hurts will play in Dallas Saturday.

— Saints visit Cleveland this week; the total is 32.5; if it stays at 32.5, would be lowest total in an NFL game since Week 17 back in 2010.

Weather forecast for Saturday in Cleveland: winds of 35 mph, with gusts up to 60 mph, wind chills as low as minus-14. Going to be a miserable Christmas Eve on Lake Erie. 

Packers 24, Rams 12
— Green Bay outgained the Rams, 345-156.
— Packers also had a 13-yard advantage in field position.
— Only nine of Green Bay’s 68 plays came on third down.
— Aaron Jones carried ball 17 times for 90 yards.
— Aaron Rodgers wins his 10th straight Monday night game. 

— Baker Mayfield was 4th QB to start for Rams this year.
— This was Rams’ 4th game outdoors TY (scored 9-13-10-12 points)
— Under is 5-1 in their road games this season. 
— LA is 0-4-1 ATS this season as a road underdog.
— Rams are 0-6-1 ATS in last seven visits to Lambeau.

— Baker Mayfield has now played for seven different head coaches in his first five years in the NFL, the most of any QB since 1950.

— Hall of Famer Kenny Stabler holds the record, with 11 consecutive Monday night wins.

Marshall 28, UConn 14
Thundering Herd led 21-0 at half, scoring on a pick-6.
UConn completed only 11-30 passes on a sunny day in Myrtle Beach.
Both teams had over 110 penalty yards.
Marshall was 7-15 on third down, UConn 3-12.

— TCU QB Max Duggan is going to play in the college football playoff for the Horned Frogs, but then he will turn pro.

— San Diego Padres gave P Seth Lugo a 2-year, $15M deal; they’ll give him a chance to be a starter. Lugo has started 38 MLB games, but none since 2020.

Lugo appeared in 108 games for the Mets the last two years, but he wants to start; he started 18 games for the Mets back in 2017.

— Standings in NFC South:
Tampa Bay 6-8
Atlanta 5-9
Carolina 5-9
New Orleans 5-9

Standings in AFC South:
Tennessee 7-7
Jacksonville 6-8
Indianapolis 4-9-1
Houston 1-12-1

Standings in AFC East:
Buffalo 11-3
Miami 8-6
New England 7-7
NJ Jets 7-7

Standings in NFC East:
Philadelphia 13-1
Dallas 10-4
NJ Giants 8-5-1
Washington 7-6-1

New Mexico 82, Iona 74— Undefeated Lobos have played schedule #250, not exactly the best competition, but they’re still 11-0. This game was special because Richard Pitino’s team beat Iona, coached by Rick Pitino, Richard’s dad.

Iona is 7-3 this year, just the second top 100 win for New Mexico. Gaels are playing in the Rainbow Classic in Hawai’i this week

Monday’s Den: Wrapping up a sports Sunday

Raiders 30, Patriots 24
— Raiders scored bizarre defensive TD at 0:00, intercepting a lateral.
— Raiders had tied game on 30-yard TD pass with 0:32 left.
— Las Vegas won four of last five games, with two wins in OT, plus this.
— Raiders also blew another double-digit halftime lead (17-3).
— Last 13 games, Las Vegas’ opponent is 9-3-1 against its team total.

— Carr threw an awful pick-6 in 3rd quarter when Raiders led 17-3.
— New England is 7-0 giving up 17 or less points, 0-7 giving up 20+.
— Patriots are 1-5 SU when game goes over total, 6-2 if it stays under.
— Last five games, Patriots converted 15-61 third down plays.
— Raiders also scored a TD with 0:05 left in first half. 

Jaguars 40, Cowboys 34 OT
— Prescott threw a 52-yard pick-6 in overtime.
— Dallas led 27-10 with 5:00 left in third quarter.
— Jaguars outgained Dallas, 503-397.
— Cowboys were 9-16 on third down, Jaguars 8-12.
— Over is 6-1 in  last seven Cowboy games.

— Jaguars’ last six drives: 31 plays, 278 yards, 24 points.
— Zay Jones caught six passes for 109 yards, three TD’s.
— Jacksonville is 4-2 SU in last five games after a 2-6 start.
— Jaguars are 4-0 ATS this season as a home underdog.
— In his career, Pederson is 12-4 ATS as a home underdog.

Saints 21, Falcons 18
— Falcons ran ball for 231 yards, but threw for only 97.
— WR London lost fumble on Saints’ 39 with 2:06 left.
— Underdogs are 9-4-1 ATS in their games TY.
— Six of their last seven games were decided by 6 or fewer points.
— Falcons lost five of last six games SU, are 1-7 ATS in last eight.

— Saints’ first two drives: 12 plays, 148 yards, 14 points.
— Saints rest of game: 42 plays, 191 yards, 7 points.
— Backup QB Hill threw a 68-yard TD pass in 1st quarter.
— Saints won eight of last ten meetings with Atlanta.
— Six of last seven New Orleans games stayed under the total.

Lions 20, Jets 17
— Goff threw 51-yard TD pass to TE Wright with 1:49 left.
— It was Lions’ only play all day of 20+ yards.
— Detroit won six of its last seven games (7-0 ATS).
— Under Campbell, Lions are 21-9-1 ATS, 7-1 ATS coming off a win.
— Under Campbell, Detroit is 8-2 ATS in games with spread of 3 or less points.

— Jets ran ball 22 times for only 50 yards.
— Jets are 2-4 in their last six games, after a 5-2 start.
— Jets are 6-1 scoring 20+ points, 1-6 scoring less than 20.
— Jets held nine of last 11 opponents under their team total.
— Seven of last nine Jet games stayed under the total.

Chiefs 30, Texans 24 OT
— McKinnon ran 26 yards for the walk-off TD in overtime.
— Chiefs won nine of last eleven games SU (4-7 ATS).
— Chiefs have 75 plays of 20+ yards; opponents have 44.
— Last seven games, Chiefs are minus-6 in turnovers (7-13)
— Last ten games, Chiefs converted 72-124 (58.1%) third down plays.

— Houston led this game 14-13 at halftime.
— Texans are 0-9 SU since their bye week (3-6 ATS)
— Chiefs had a 13-play, 97-yard TD drive just before halftime.
— Kansas City outgained Houston, 502-219.
— Four of Texans’ last five TD drives were shorter than 50 yards.

Eagles 25, Bears 20
— Eagles won last five games, scoring 40-35-48-25 points in last four. 
— Philly is 7-0 SU on road this year, but 2-5 ATS.
— Eagles outgained Chicago, 421-248; they threw for 309 yards.
— Last four games, Eagles have 26 plays of 20+ yards (opponents have 14).
— Eagles are 4-10 ATS last 14 games as a road favorite.

— Chicago lost seven in row, 10 of last 11 games SU (3-7-1 ATS).
— Fields ran ball 15 times for 95 yards, but was sacked six times.
— In Fields’ last five starts, Bears converted 36-67 on third down.
— Last seven games, Chicago gave up 32.3 ppg.
— Bears have led at halftime twice this season (2-10-2).

Steelers 24, Panthers 16
— Steelers were 12-16 on third down, Carolina 4-11.
— In six post-bye games, Steelers converted 46-84 on third down
— Pittsburgh covered four of its last five road games.
— Steelers are 9-5 ATS last 14 games with spread of 3 or less.
— Pittsburgh is 4-2 since its bye week, with +6 turnover ratio.

— Carolina’s first five drives: 23 plays, 94 yards, 7 points.
— Panthers went 3/out on four of first five drives.
— Carolina’s last three drives: 23 plays, 152 yards, 9 points (3 FG’s).
— Panthers ran ball 16 times for only 21 yards.
— Carolina has converted only 49-168 (29.2%) third down plays.

Broncos 24, Cardinals 15
— 2nd-string QB McCoy got hurt; #3 QB McSorley was 7-15/95 passing (2 INTs).
— Cardinals lost eight of their last ten games SU.
— Arizona was outscored in 2nd half in each of its last nine games.
— Cardinals lost field position battle by 12 yards.
— Arizona is 1-10 SU when it scores less than 29 points. 

— Denver scored 7 TD’s in last two games (3 TD’s/previous 4 games)
— Broncos ran ball for 168 yards (4.9 yards/carry).
— Broncos allowed 9-10-17-15 points in their four wins.
— Denver was perfect in red zone (21 points/three drives).
— Broncos first four drives in 2nd half: 24 plays, 182 yards, 21 points.

Chargers 17, Titans 14
— Titans drove 74 yards for TD, tied game 14-all with 0:48 left.
— Chargers won game on 43-yard FG with 0:04 left.
— Tennessee lost last four games, scoring 16-10-22-14 points.
— Titans are 0-4 SU since OC got a DUI coming home from road trip. 
— Tennessee scored 19 or less points in eight of last ten games. 

— Chargers are 4-3 in last seven games SU (wins by 1-3-6-3 points).
— Right now, Chargers are the #6-seed in the AFC.
— Under is 5-2 in Bolts’ last seven games.
— Bolts ran ball for 91 or fewer yards in 12 of 14 games. 
— Chargers are 7-1 giving up less than 27 points, 1-5 if they give up 27+.

Bengals 34, Buccaneers 23
— Tampa Bay’s first half: 42 plays, 243 yards, 17 points.
— Buccaneers led 17-0 until Bengals kicked FG at halftime gun.
— Tampa Bay’s 2nd half: 30 plays, 119 yards, 6 points.
— Buccaneers turned ball over on four straight drives in 3rd quarter.
— Tampa Bay is 3-6 SU in its last nine games.

— Bengals’ first three TD drives were 31-13-39 yards.
— Cincinnati had a 26-yard advantage in field position.
— Cincinnati won/covered last six games (11-1 ATS last 12).
— Bengals are 8-0 if they score 21+ points, 1-4 if they don’t.
— Bengals are 13-7 ATS last 20 games as a road favorite.

Giants 20, Commanders 12
— Giants’ first TD was a strip sack/fumble by Thibodeaux.
— Barkley ran ball for 87 yards and a touchdown.
— Last five games, Big Blue converted 18-63 (28.6%) on third down.
— Giants are 10-4 ATS this season, 4-1 as a road underdog.
— Under is 9-4-1 in Giants opponents’ team totals this year. 

— Washington converted 1-10 on third down, Giants 2-10.
— Washington outgained Giants 387-288, was minus-2 in turnovers.
— Giants are 8-2 ATS in last ten games at Washington.
— Washington is 5-8 ATS last 13 games as a home favorite (1-2 TY)
— Commanders are now 3-12 ATS in its last 15 post-bye games.

— Red Sox signed 3B/DH Justin Turner to a 2-year deal worth $22M. 38-year old Turner hit .276 last year with 81 RBI. 

— Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic scored 40 points, with 27 rebounds and 10 assists in Denver’s 119-115 win over the Hornets.

Jokic is the first player to score 35+ points, 25+ rebounds and 10+ assists in a game since Wilt Chamberlain went for 53 points, 32 rebounds and 14 assists in 1968.

— Lakers’ star Anthony Davis is expected to miss at least a month with a right foot injury,

Sunday’s Den: Wrapping up a sports Saturday

Vikings 39, Colts 36 OT
Colts led this game 33-0 at halftime. 33. Nothing.
This is biggest comeback win in NFL history.
Matt Ryan is now losing QB in biggest comebacks in regular season/Super Bowl history.
Colts blocked punt for TD, also had a pick-6 in first half.

Colts lost six of their last seven games SU.
Underdogs covered 10 of their 14 games.
Colts are 8-4 ATS last 12 games as a road underdog.
Colts are 23-10-1 ATS in last 34 games vs NFC opponents.

Vikings in first half: 24 plays, 91 yards, 3 first downs, no points.
Vikings in 2nd half/OT: 60 plays, 499 yards, 29 first downs, 39 points.
Dalvin Cook had 95 rushing yards, 95 receiving yards.
Vikings won 10 of their last 12 games SU- they clinched NFC North.

Browns 13, Ravens 3
Browns win Deshaun Watson’s home debut in Cleveland.
Watson’s first three starts TY: 2 offensive TD’s on 28 drives (12 3/outs).
Browns are 6-3 giving up 24 or less points, 0-5 giving up more than 24.
Cleveland is 4-3 in its last seven games after a 2-5 start.

Baltimore had two empty trips to red zone, averaged 3.8 yards/pass attempt.
Nine of Ravens’ last eleven games stayed under the total.
Last three weeks, Ravens converted 12-38 on 3rd down.
Ravens’ loss puts Cincinnati atop the AFC North.

Bills 32, Dolphins 29
Dolphins lost their last three games, after a 5-0 streak. 
4th quarter of this game was played in snowy conditions.
Mostert ran ball for 136 yards (8 yards/carry).
Bills converted 8-14 on third down, Miami 5-14.

Buffalo drove 86 yards, kicked game-winning FG at the gun.
Bills clinch their fourth straight playoff berth.
Bills won their last five games, scoring 27 ppg.
Buffalo is 1-6-1 ATS since their bye week.   

Gonzaga 100, Alabama 90
Alabama led 20-11 early on.
Zags forced 21 turnovers (+9)
Gonzaga shot 62.3% inside arc, Alabama 65.7%.
Zags’ next top 50 game figures to be February 4, at Saint Mary’s.

North Carolina 89, Ohio State 84 OT
Buckeyes led 66-56 with 6:58 left in game.
UNC was 19-27 on foul line, Ohio State 7-14.
Tar Heels scored on a side out-of-bounds play at buzzer to force OT.
Bacot had 28 points, 15 rebounds for North Carolina.

UCLA 63, Kentucky 53
Kentucky had 18 turnovers on 67 possessions.
Teams combined to make 8-29 on the arc, 13-28 on foul line.
UCLA has won seven in a row, with four top 70 wins

— Coming into this weekend, there were no freshmen in the top 50 in scoring in college basketball.

Baseball happenings:
Cubs are signing SS Dansby Swanson to a 7-year, $177M contract.
Dodgers signed OF/DH JD Martinez for one year, $10M.

— It is possible that I have a masochistic side to me, seeing how I read all these articles about the Oakland A’s off-season moves.

A’s recently added a pitcher named Garrett Williams, who pitched in college at Oklahoma State and was most recently in the Cardinals’ organization.

In 80 innings pitched at the AAA level, Williams has walked 70 batters; no bueno. He is also 1-8, 6.75 in 44 AAA games (11 starts). He’s struck out 93 guys in those 80 IP, which is probably the attraction, but 1-8, 6.75 doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence.

There is this though; he once struck out 17 kids in a game at the Little League World Series.

— Most Super Bowl appearances, since 1999 season:
9— New England
4— Rams
3— Seahawks, Steelers, Giants
Eight teams have been in two Super Bowls in this century.
11 teams haven’t been to any Super Bowls in this century.

Louisville 24, Cincinnati 7
Cardinals outgained Cincinnati, 419-127
Louisville was 7-14 on third down, Bearcats 2-13.
ACC teams are 22-11 SU last 33 games vs AAC squads.

Fresno State 29, Washington State 6
Fresno outgained the Coogs. 502-183.
Wazzu is 0-6 ATS in its last six bowl games.
Coach Tedford has an 8-3 record in bowl games.

Oregon State 30, Florida 3
Beavers finish the season 10-3, a great year.
Gators ran the ball 33 times for 39 yards.
Florida lost five of its last seven games.
Pac-10 teams are 4-0 ATS vs SEC opponents this year.

BYU 24, SMU 23
SMU scored TD with 0:08 left, went for 2 points/win, but fell short.
BYU took lead for good on a 76-yard pick-6 in third quarter.
SMU outgained the Cougars, 389-256, converted 10-18 on third down.

Southern Miss 38, Rice 24
USM outscored the Owls 21-0 over last 19:00 of game.
Eagles ran for 361 yards (9.5 yards/carry)
Frank Gore Jr ran for 329 yards, also threw a TD pass. 

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

Bowl season started Friday; lot of football on TV for the next month:
Troy 18, Texas-San Antonio 12:
UTSA led 12-0 with 2:00 left in first half; they never scored again.
Roadrunners had five turnovers, 104 yards in penalties. 
Troy has now won its last five bowl games
Underdogs covered Cure Bowl six of last seven years.

UAB 24, Miami OH 20
UAB drove 70 yards, scored game-winning TD with 1:33 left.
Miami WR was tackled on the 2-yard line as time ran out.
Blazers were 7-12 on third down, Miami 4-14.
UAB outgained Miami 390-272.

There is also lot of basketball on TV these days……..
Marquette 69, Creighton 58
Marquette outscored Bluejays 24-9 over final 10:15 of first half.
Golden Eagles were +8 in turnovers (18-10)
Creighton has lost six games in a row, after a 5-0 start.
Marquette is shooting 60.3% inside the arc (#4)

Xavier 102, Georgetown 89
Xavier made 14-26 on arc, scored 59 points in second half.
Georgetown has lost 21 Big East games in a row.
In 5+ years under Patrick Ewing, Hoyas are 26-64 in Big East regular season games.
Xavier has won five games in a row, scoring 86 ppg.

76ers 116, Warriors 108
Embiid scored 34 points, added 13 rebounds.
Golden State is 14-16, #11-seed in Western Conference.
Steph Curry is out for couple months with a bad shoulder.

49ers 21, Seahawks 13
San Francisco clinches the NFC West crown.
McCaffrey ran ball for 108 yards and a TD. 
Last six games, 49ers allowed six TD’s on 62 drives.
Two games vs Seattle this year, 49ers ran ball for 359 yards.

Seattle’s first four drives: 14 plays, minus-4 yards, one first down.
Seattle is 1-4 SU/0-5 ATS last five games, running for 62.6 yards/game.
Last five games, opponents are 28-54 (50.7%) on 3rd down.
Last five games, Seattle gave up 161-283-171-223-170 rushing yards.

— QB Russell Wilson is out for Denver’s game with the Cardinals Sunday; Brett Rypien will make his third NFL start instead.

Jets QB Zach Wilson gets the nod under center Sunday; Mike White wasn’t cleared by doctors to play. Joe Flacco will be the Jets’ backup QB.

Baseball happenings:
White Sox signed OF Andrew Benntendi for five years, $75M.
Minnesota Twins signed OF Joey Gallo for one year, $11M.
Red Sox DFA’d 1B Eric Hosmer.

— Alabama’s football team is 10-2 this season, but they’re minus-2 in turnovers; from 2015-21, Crimson Tide was +76 in turnovers in 100 games.

— Favorites won/covered the last seven Cotton Bowls.

— When Manhattan College fired basketball coach Steve Masiello on October 25, their best player, Jose Perez, hit the transfer portal— he chose West Virginia, and is eligible to start practicing with WVU today. But the NCAA denied Perez’ appeal to become immediately eligible to play games; West Virginia will appeal the decision.

Murray State 68, Austin Peay 60— Two teams who were long-time Ohio Valley rivals, but have both bolted the OVC for different leagues. Murray State is 7-4, winning both their MVC games in overtime. Murray outscored the Governors 13-2 over final 4:53 of this game.