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Thursday's List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind.........
13) Steve Nash looks weird in a Lakers’ uniform. Weird in a bad way. He’s wearing #10, by the way.
12) Clippers-Denver are playing first-ever basketball game at Mandalay Bay hotel/casino in Las Vegas Saturday night.
11) Orioles had a fire on their plane to Tampa Sunday night, had to make a landing in Jacksonville, but everyone got to Tampa safely; apparently the O's weren’t too happy with Andrew Bailey when Ibanez hit the tying homer off the Red Sox closer Tuesday night.
10) Greedy bastard update: Gas went up 12 cents a gallon in 36 hours. Why? Because it is foliage season? These people seriously need to rot in hell.
How come no one asks the Presidential candidates about this in the debates?
9) No NHL this month, which is sad; NBA regular season starts up Halloween night.
8) Speaking of which Kansas coach Bill Self just got a 10-year, $50M contract extension.
Bulls’ coach Tom Thibodeau got four years, $17M+ from Chicago.
More security in the college game. Thibodeau has to hope Derrick Rose doesn’t wake up one morning and want him fired. If he ever did, Thibodeau would be gone before lunch. In the NBA, stars rule the roost.
7) Still think its pretty cool that the only coach with a losing record in the history of Kansas basketball is James Naismith, the guy who invented basketball.
6) RA Dickey pitched with a torn abdominal muscle since April? Did the Mets’ crackerjack medical staff know this, or did they think he had a tweaked hamstring?
5) “A goal without a plan is a wish.” Herm Edwards would make a good motivational speaker. Not a coach, just a motivational speaker.
4) Eric Mangini picked the Cowboys to win the Super Bowl, but why? I mean, he could still be right, but it just seems really unlikely, as bad as their OL appears to be.
3) Guy named Shawn Hochuli reffed the Arizona State-Cal game Saturday. Yes, thats Ed's son.
2) Baltimore Orioles are 74-0 this season when they lead after the 7th inning; that’s very impressive, being 74-0 at anything.
1) I wonder if anybody has contacted Brad Pitt about making Moneyball 2? The 2012 A's are a much more unlikely story than the '02 A's were.
Cardinals (4-0) @ Rams (2-2)-- Arizona has now won last 10 games that were decided by less than 7 points; three of their four wins this year came down to last minute, so long travel on short work week could be dicey, seeing how Rams won both home games (albeit both wins came vs rookie QBs). Cardinals won 10 of last 11 series games, winning last seven visits here by average score of 29-20, but these Rams aren't those Rams, having forced 8 turnovers in four games (+2). Problem for St Louis is porous OL; they've run ball for just 134 yards on 44 carries (3.0/carry) in last two games, scoring one TD, and that on 52-yard drive. Home teams are 10-12 vs spread in divisional games so far this season. Average total in last four series games was 32.5.
Falcons (4-0) @ Redskins (2-2)—Washington plays fun games to watch; all four went over total, with Skins scoring 24+ in every game, allowing 22+- they’ve got 13 TDs on 48 drives, averaging 5.27 ppp in red zone- they’ve run ball for 175.5 yards/game, so you wonder how bad their defense would be if they weren’t running ball so well. One area Skins have struggled is on 3rd down, converting just 13 for 51 (25.4%), part of why they’ve won field position battle only once in four games. Atlanta pulled home game out of hat last week vs Carolina team with mobile QB Newton; Falcons won field position battle in all four games; they’re +8 in turnovers, with seven INTs and only three giveaways. Road team won last four series games, with average total in last five, 48.8. Falcons won their last three visits here- they’re 10-5 vs spread in last 15 games as road favorite, 20-8-1 in last 29 games where spread was 3 or less points. Since ’08, Washington is 9-11-2 as a home dog.
Eagles (3-1) @ Steelers (1-2)—Iggles have three wins by total of four points, as Vick has led game-winning drive in last 2:00 of all three wins; last week was their first turnover-free game, after they had 12 giveaways in first three games (-6). Philly off physical win over divisional rival Giants; they scored only one offensive TD in last two games (19 drives) and scored total of 23 points in splitting pair of road games. Pitt off bye after sluggish 1-2 start; add in Steelers’ post-bye stat. Eagles are 8-3 in last 11 series games, splitting last four visits here. Over last seven years, Steelers are 18-10 vs spread vs NFC foes; since ’06, they’re 17-12 as non-divisional home favorites. Eagles are 5-9 vs spread in last 14 vs AFC squads, but since ’06, they’re 13-4 as road underdog. Three of four Philly games stayed under the total. NFC teams are (9-4) vs AFC squads so far this season.
Packers (2-2) @ Colts (1-2)—Figure Colts to be emotional here- they found out this week their head coach has leukemia, and will be gone for most of rest of season. Indy off its bye, after splitting pair of close home games with Vikes/Jags (they led both games by 11 points at half). Add in Colts’ post-bye stats. Last two Packer games were decided by total of 3 points; they lost only road game (14-12 on controversial late TD at Seattle) and haven’t had takeaway in three of four games, so defense is suspect. Home side won last five series games, with Green Bay 0-3 in Indy, giving up 41 ppg, but those trends are all with #18 under center. Since 2006, Pack is 16-7-1 vs spread as road favorites- they’ve covered 15 of last 20 games vs AFC opponents. Football teams generally do worse with change of routine (see Saints) so shift of duties with Coach Pagano on sick leave will hamper progress of young Indy squad.
Browns (0-4) @ Giants (2-2)—Game opened Giants -13, was quickly bet down to -9, as Browns have yet to lose game by more than 10 points-- they’ve also had three extra days to prep after 23-16 loss (+11) in Baltimore last Thursday. Cleveland defense has been decent in red zone last three weeks, allowing four TDs, three FGs (4.00 ppp) last 10 times they were threatened. Problem for Browns is they haven’t run ball well (30 rushes for 76 yards in last two games), which exposes defense to Giant aerial attack (10.0/7.2/7.4 ypa last three games). Underdogs are 12-0 vs spread in non-divisional games involving NFC East squads (NFC East non-divisional favorites are 0-8). Trap game for Giants, after last-minute loss in Philly and with 49ers on deck; since ’09, Big Blue is 6-17-1 as home favorite (4-10-1 outside division)- they covered twice in last seven games as double digit favorite, should spread creep back to 10+ points. Three of four games for both sides stayed under the total.
Dolphins (1-3) @ Bengals (3-1)—Miami lost in OT last two weeks to Jets/ Cardinals; they’re 7th team over last 5+ years to play OT games in consecutive weeks- other six teams were 1-3-1 vs spread in that next game (one team had a bye). Three teams lost back/back OT games; those three were 1-2 vs spread in that third game, with both losses by 3 points- the three games were decided by total of 10 points. Miami is 14-5 in series vs Bengals, 8-3 here, but this is rare occasion where Cincy has better squad, having won last three games, scoring 34-38-27 points (scored 11 TDs on last 32 drives). Explosive passing attack averaged 8.0/12.8/7.9 ypa in last three games. Dolphins have seven TD drives of 75+ yards in last three games, after getting shut down by Texans in opener; Miami has to cut down on turnovers (10, -5 ratio) but they have to be pleased with progress of rookie QB Taneyhill (394 PY last week). Both teams had three of four games go over the total.
Ravens (3-1) @ Chiefs (1-3)— Word of caution on what looks like low number; since 2005, Ravens are 3-10 vs spread as road favorites in non-divisional games. Flat spot for Baltimore, coming off primetime games with Pats/Browns, and with big name Cowboys/Texans on deck. Illness to Colts’ coach Pagano had to hit hard here- he was Ravens’ defensive aide for last four years (DC LY). Chiefs are off to dismal start, allowing 34 ppg- they were down 24-6 at winless Saints in their only win, before rallying for win. KC ain’t running ball for 275 yards against Raven defense.that allowed 120 yards on 51 carries in last two games (Pats/Browns). Chiefs were outscored 58-12 in first half of last three games. OC Cameron is trying to pump up Raven passing game, but they averaged only 4.9 ypa in only road game, a 24-23 loss at Philly. Teams haven’t met since Ravens whacked KC 30-7 in ’10 playoffs, their third straight series win. Both teams had three of first four games go over total.
Seahawks (2-2) @ Panthers (1-3)— Greatest moment in Seahawk history was 34-14 win over Carolina in ’05 NFC title game, but that was many moons ago. Home side won all five series games, with Seattle losing both visits here, 26-3/13-10. Hawks have sturdy defense this year, but they don’t trust rookie QB Wilson enough to win tough road games, having scored 14.5 ppg (two TDs on 22 drives) in losing first two away games 20-16/19-13. Carolina had its guts ripped out in tough 30-28 loss at Falcons last week, when Newton fumbled on game-clinching run, with ball being recovered short of first down marker; Panthers allowed 31 ppg in last three games- they’re -6 in turnovers already and allowed nine offensive TDs in last three games (seven of nine on drives of 68+ yards). Seahawks are 15-22-3 vs spread in last 40 games where spread was 3 or less points; Panthers are 8-10 in their last 18 such games. All four Seattle games stayed under total.
Bears (3-1) @ Jaguars (1-3)—Trap game for Chicago after surprisingly easy Monday night win in Dallas; their only loss was road game at Lambeau on short week; this is road game on short week, but Jags are hardly Packer-esque, scoring two offensive TDs on 21 drives in home losses to Texans (27-7), Bengals (27-10). Bears have 11 INTs in four games- they ran three of them back for TDs in last two games, and are already +7 in turnovers. Gabbert has played better on road, averaging 2.2/3.6 ypa at home, 6.1/6.7 on road. Chicago is 6-2-1 vs spread in last nine games as road favorite, 12-10-3 in last 25 vs AFC teams. Jaguars are 3-8 vs spread in last 11 games as home underdogs-- road team covered all four of their games this season. Home side won last three series games; this is Bears’ first visit here since ’04. Jags’ owner Khan is from Illinois (big Illini booster) via Pakistan. Last three Jacksonville games stayed under the total.
Titans (1-3) @ Vikings (3-1)—Hard to endorse Tennessee squad that already lost games by 26-28-24 points; in their only win, they scored three non-offensive TDs, and still needed OT to beat struggling Detroit. Titans are 3-4 as road underdogs under Munchak; they’ve had only two takeaways in four games (-6 turnover ratio). Vikings didn’t score an offensive TD last week, but used PR/KR for TDs to nip the Lions in Detroit, week after they upset 49ers here; underdogs all four of their games this season. In their last three games, Minnesota allowed only 228 rushing yards on 70 carries (3.3/carry), so could be more tough sledding for Chris Johnson. Titans had 158 yards on ground last week, after having total of 117 in first three games. Vikes are 1-4 vs spread in last five games as home favorites. Minnesota won four of last five series games, with last four decided by 10+ points; titans lost six of seven visits here, with only win 20 years ago. Last three Viking games stayed under the total.
Broncos (2-2) @ Patriots (2-2)—Belichick crushed Tebow-led Broncos twice LY, 41-23 at Mile High, 45-10 at home in playoffs, but Denver has a better QB now; Patriots lost four of last five meetings with Manning brothers, with two losses to Eli in Super Bowls. Not only that, but Pats’ OC McDaniels faces his old team for first time since they fired him as HC after ’10 season. Broncos have 12 offensive TDs on 42 drives, as Manning develops chemistry with his new WRs- they pummeled Raiders LW, outgaining them 503-237, but off big divisional win and with pre-bye tilt at San Diego up next, this might be bigger game for Patriot squad that lost its only home game to 4-0 Cardinals. Pats scored 30+ points in all three away games, but were held to one TD, five FG tries in home opener. Since 2007, NE is 15-11 vs spread as a non-divisional home favorite. Keep in mind that through four weeks, underdogs are 27-14 vs spread in non-divisional games.
Bills (2-2) @ 49ers (3-1)—Buffalo was 2-1 and up at half over Patriots last week, then they gave up 45 points in second half and now its hard to tell what to make of them, considering that high-priced pass rusher Mario Williams has touched opposing QBs three times in four games. All four Bills games were decided by 10+ points, with favorites covering all four. Buffalo’s losses by 48-28/52-28 scores. Since ’05, Bills are 12-16-2 vs spread as non-divisional road dogs. Niners bounced back from loss at Metrodome by crushing dysfunctional Jets 34-0 in Swamp; 49ers’ other two wins this year are by 8 points each- they’re 8-0 as home favorites under Harbaugh, 9-4-1 vs spread in game following a win. Three of four Buffalo games went over total; last three 49er games stayed under. Niners were +28 in turnovers LY, then even in first three games this year, before +4 last week got them back on track. Since ’05, Buffalo is 10-15-3 vs spread when facing an NFC squad.
Friday's List of 13: Random thoughts with weekend here.......
13) If you ran a big league baseball team and your career depended on team winning, would you give free agent-to-be Josh Hamilton big bucks? I’m just asking; he puts up huge numbers, but also has very glaring flaws. Will be interesting to track.
12) Congrats to Miguel Cabrera on being the first Triple Crown winner since 1967. All in a year when he changed positions too, and on a playoff team. Well done.
11) Teddy Roosevelt won the President’s Race at Nationals’ Park for the first time in 500+ tries Wednesday. Maybe Stephen Strasburg got bored and was inside the Teddy costume.
10) College hoop practice starts next week; Texas Tech named an interim coach from within, which is probably a good thing, since they’ve got nine new players on the squad. The Big X is a tough, tough league; Tech is going to get whacked around this year. Interesting to see who they hire full-time next spring.
9) Cliff Lee is first pitcher in modern history to strike out 200+ batters and not win seven games.
8) Knicks-Pistons are playing regular season game in London in January. I could envision a European division in the NBA someday, if they can get five cities with NBA-quality arenas. NBA might be more popular in Europe than America.
7) Tampa Bay Rays were 47-27 when Evan Longoria played this season, 43-45 when he didn’t; they need a more durable Longoria moving forward.
6) Houston Rockets drafted Iowa State’s Royce White in first round; he’s a terrific talent, but is scared to fly, and wants to travel to road games via a customized bus. Can’t wait to see how the Rockets deal with this one.
5) San Diego’s Chase Headley led the NL with 115 RBI, first Padre to lead the league since Dave Winfield in 1979. Want to feel old? Winfield turned 61 Wednesday.
4) Speaking of age, Knicks have the oldest roster in NBA history. Seriously. Hard to envision this ending well.
3) Oakland rookie pitchers started 103 of 162 games this season, the most by any big league team since the ’52 Brooklyn Dodgers, who played in the World Series that year.
2) Derek Holland threw 113 stressful pitches for the Rangers Sunday night, in second game of twinbill in Arlington; what was he doing in the game Wednesday afternoon in Oakland, throwing 50 more? Not like the Rangers were dead if they lost, and they had 17 pitchers on their roster. Seemed like they were putting a young talent at risk and they still didn’t win.
1) Bobby Valentine can whine all he wants about his coaches, the media, the players, anything he wants, but he doesn’t seem like a guy who endears much loyalty. What he does seem like is a self-promoting control freak who was way out of his element in Boston. The Red Sox’ winter will be one of the best baseball stories of the offseason.
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a college football Saturday........
13) Three of top five teams got beat Saturday, with LSU/Florida State getting blanked in the second half on the road, first time since 2008 that three of the top five teams lost on the same day.
12) Florida State led 16-0 at halftime in Raleigh, but Seminole QB Manuel took an awful sack in Wolfpack territory when Seminoles were up 16-10, costing his team a shot a field goal that would've been very helpful about an hour later. NC State was missing three starters on offensive line.
11) If you like to invest in games, you can spend hours looking at stats, like some of us do, or you can just read the papers, and go against the teams who appear on that week's police blotter........
-- TCU's QB was suspended after a DUI: Frogs (-7) lost on the up.
-- Missouri had five guys suspended; Tigers (-7) lost on the up.
-- Wake Forest had five guys suspended; Deacons (+7) lost 19-14, but at least they covered the spread.
Winning two of three by that method ain't bad.
10) Miami had a WR drop a wide-open TD on the first play of the game, and it was all downhill from there, as they got bamboozled 41-3 in Chicago by Notre Dame. They'll be payback down the road for this one.
Quick lookalike: Miami coach Al Golden and the late George Allen, who coached the Rams and Redskins. He has some of Allen's mannerisms.
9) Wheels have completely fallen off at Auburn, which lost 24-7 at home to a dysfunctional Arkansas team. Is it possible for a coach to be on the hot seat less than two years after he won a national title? Nothing has gone well for coach Chizik since Cam Newton left town.
8) LSU was supposed to have improved QB play this year, but they've scored 18 points in their last two road games, they converted only 1-13 on 3rd down Saturday with only 8 first downs in an ugly 14-6 loss at Florida. The offensive coordinator at LSU makes $750,000 a year; could be a long week for him.
7) Duke is 5-1, its best start since 1994; Blue Devils beat Virginia 42-17, after trailing 17-14 at the half. Duke is coached by David Cutcliffe, who had a decent stint at Ole Miss but got run out of town after Eli Manning went on to the NFL, despite having only one losing season in Oxford.
6) ESPN might want to think twice about airing BYU games on weeknights; they've already had a 7-6 loss to Boise State, a 6-3 win over Utah State on the nation's airwaves, a couple of snoozefests. Conference games are more fun to watch, that is almost always true.
5) North Carolina outrushed Virginia Tech 339-40, thumped Hokies in Chapel Hill, 48-34. UNC survived 15 penalties for 126 yards. This is as bad as the Hokies have played in years.
4) If you bet on Central Michigan (+11.5) Saturday, someone upstairs has it out for you; Chippewas were down 5 in the last minute, and Toledo kicked a FG to go up 43-35 with 0:54 left, something like that. You know it is a bad day when Toledo runs pick-6 back with 0:38 left to cover, 50-35. Rockets also had a punt return for TD and another pick-6 earlier.
3) There were 23 unbeatens coming into this week; now there are 16.
2) Penn State outscored Northwestern 22-0 in 4th quarter to hand the Wildcats their first loss of the year, 39-28. ESPN's Brian Griese went out of his way to praise the coaching QB McGloin has been getting this year, a not so subtle dig at the old QB coach, Jay Paterno.
1) Ohio State 63, Nebraska 38. Cornhuskers' coach Bo Pelini played at Ohio State; you get the feeling these two teams are going to be great rivals, both on the field and on the recruiting trail.
Buckeyes scored a TD on a 16-yard run with 0:48 left; hmmm.....