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Tuesday's List of 13: Nobody asked me, but............
13) If your favorite NFL team is 5-6, all isn’t lost; in seven of last eight years, a team that 5-6 at this point of the season wound up making the playoffs. First time Rams made the Super Bowl, in 1979, they were 5-6, so it can happen. Not likely, but still possible.
12) Falcons have led at halftime in only one of their last seven games; they haven’t covered spread in four of 10 wins (0-3-1). Eagles didn’t cover any of their three wins, Ravens failed to cover five of their nine; other 29 teams are covering 84.2% of their wins.
11) If either Louisville or UConn leave the Big East before July, the league could just dissolve and go away, making way for a new, basketball-only league with the seven non-football Big East schools, plus other teams like Butler/Saint Louis/VCU/Xavier. Conference juggling never seems to stop.
10) USC basketball coach Kevin O’Neill let a TV camera inside his locker room at halftime of their game Sunday night; as luck would have it, Trojans were down 12, so his halftime talk was…..passionate.
He told the kids they were going to win, which they didn’t, but at one point they did storm back to take the lead. USC has a lot of talent, but lot of transfers, so not lot of chemistry; how quickly they gel could determine if O’Neill keeps his job next year.
9) University of North Dakota is now in the Big Sky Conference; problem is, they’re 800 miles from their closest conference rival. Can’t even imagine what living out there must be like in the winter.
8) Speaking of which, not sure if I ever knew before I went to Alaska this summer that Alaska is twice as large as Texas, and is actually 20% as big as the contiguous 48 states. Not lot of people there, but lot of frozen spaces.
7) I feel bad for NHL fans, who love the sport and have to watch it wither away during another labor impasse. Not sure how the owners think this is good for their business; lot of people blame the Commissioner, but doesn’t he just do the owners’ bidding for them?
6) Speaking of the NHL, former St Louis Blues coach Jacques Demers is now an elected official, a Senator in Canada; there are debates going on in Canada about whether to legalize sports betting north of the border.
5) Something to think about when the minor bowls start; Conference USA teams are 7-35 SU this season in non-conference games vs other I-A teams, 1-23 vs teams from BCS leagues.
4) San Francisco Giants’ World Series shares are $377,002, not much less than the minimum salary for big leaguers. Posey/Bumgarner combined to make $1,175,000 this season, so thats significant money for them.
3) Tampa Bay Rays signed Evan Longoria to a 10-year contract extension; two thoughts:
a) I wonder where the Rays will call home by time that contract ends and
b) It would be nice if Longoria’s hamstrings stayed in one piece so he could earn the $100M he’s going to make; he had a procedure on his injured hamstring earlier this month.
Interesting note: Longoria does not have a no-trade clause.
2) Kansas City Chiefs are 0-6 at home for the first time since 1976.
1) San Diego Chargers had 10 takeaways in two wins against the Chiefs this year; they’ve had nine takeaways in other nine games (2-7) combined.
32) Chiefs—Three TDs on their last 76 drives. Guess it wasn’t Todd Haley’s fault.
31) Raiders—Allowed 42 ppg last four games; Chiefs-Oakland is great rivalry, but Dec. 16 meeting might be its low point. Ever.
30) Cardinals—Started season 4-0, now 4-7. Lost a game when they were +5 in turnovers. Desperately need a QB. Alex Smith? Matt Cassel? Matt Barkley?
29) Eagles—Three wins are by 1-1-2 points, so they’re seven points away from being 0-11. Amazing.
28) Chargers—Opponent gets game-saving on 4th-and-29 when they dump the ball four yards downfield. If I watched this play 100 times, still hard to believe Ray Rice got that first down. Strong rumors that Mr Spanos wants Andy Reid as next coach.
8) Giants—Seemed energized coming out of late bye; interesting Monday night game against Redskins.
7) Bears—Scored 10-6-7 points in their three losses. Play Seattle in a Viking sandwich this week.
6) Ravens—Won road games last two weeks scoring 16-13 points; are 4-5 vs spread in their nine wins, which doesn’t matter for this list. Just don’t trust Flacco as a championship QB. I could be wrong.
5) Falcons—7 of 10 wins by 7 or less points; averaged 10.5 ypa in Tampa last week. Gutty win.
4) Broncos—Its interesting that Colts let Peyton Manning walk, and they could play Manning/Broncos in playoffs; that would be great theater.
3) 49ers—Tremendous linebackers took the game over in New Orleans.
2) Patriots—Scored five return TD’s in last two games; visit Miami team this week that has zero takeaways in last four games. Trap game.
1) Texans—As long as they get home field thru AFC playoffs; if they have to play in cold weather, they’d drop a fair distance on this list.
Saints (5-6) @ Falcons (10-1)—New Orleans (+2) beat Falcons 31-27 at home three weeks ago, Atlanta’s only loss this year, outrushing them 148-46 for 11th win in last 13 series games; Saints won last three visits here, all by exactly three points. Five of last six series games were decided by 4 or less points. Falcons’ last three games were also all decided by 4 or less points; they’re 5-0 at home, with all five wins by 6 or less points (2-3 as HF). Atlanta is 6-4-1 vs spread in last 11 games as a divisional home favorite. Saints are 5-1 when they score 28+ points, 0-5 when they don’t; they’re 2-2 as underdog this year, 1-1 on road. Atlanta allowed 28+ points in only two games, but one of them was against Saints. Last three NO games went over the total; five of last seven Falcon games stayed under. Underdogs are 4-2 vs spread in NFC South divisional games this season.
Seahawks (6-5) @ Bears (8-3)—Seattle’s starting CBs may be suspended soon for PED use, but are expected to play here; once they’re out we’ll look to play against Seattle, with games going over total. Chicago was held to 10-6-7 points in its three losses (Pack-Texans-49ers); they’re 5-1 at home, 3-3 as home favorite, winning home games by 20-17-6-1-18 points. Seattle is 1-5 on road despite being favored in half the games; they’re 2-1 as road underdogs, losing away games by 4-6-7-4-3 points- they’ve won regular season games here last two years (23-20/38-14) but lost 35-24 in ’10 playoffs; Hawks lead 9-6 overall in series. Seattle allowed 20+ points in three of last four games. NFC North non-divisional home favorites are 6-8 vs spread; NFC West road underdogs are 6-5. Four of last five Chicago home games stayed under total; three of last four Seattle games went over.
Vikings (6-5) @ Packers (7-4)—Green Bay hasn’t played well in two post-bye games, limping past Lions 24-20 (never got inside Detroit red zone despite +3 turnover margin), getting waxed by Giants last week. Pack is home for first time in four weeks; they’re 2-3 as home favorites, winning last four at Lambeau by 13-1-9-14 points. Packers scored 34.3 ppg in winning last four series games; Vikings lost five of last six visits here, with losses by 2-34-5-4-38 points. Fading Minnesota lost three of last four games, allowing 29.5 ppg (14 TDs on last 46 drives), after allowing average of 18.7 ppg in first seven games; they’re 1-4 on road, 1-2 as road dog, losing away games by 3-12-10-18 points Three of last four Viking games went over total, as have three of five Green Bay home games. Home favorites are 2-3 vs spread in NFC North divisional games.
49ers (8-2-1) @ Rams (4-6-1)—Teams battled to 24-24 tie (SF -12) three weeks ago in Candlestick, with both teams missing FGs to win it; Niners are 7-1-1 in last nine series games, winning four of last five visits here, with wins by 1-1-22-7 points. Rams are 4-1 in games where spread was 3 or less points; they’re 0-5-1 in other games, losing last two home games by 10-14 points. St Louis is 7-3 vs spread as a dog, 3-1 at home. All eight SF wins this year are by 7+ points; they’re 4-1 on road, 3-1 as road favorites, winning away games by 8-34-21-10 points. Kaepernick’s mobility gives them another dimension, but fact is they were losing in Superdome last week until defense scored two TDs off Brees. Last three 49er games, last five Ram games all went over the total. Underdogs are 5-1-1 vs spread in NFC West divisional games.
Cardinals (4-7) @ Jets (4-7)—Arizona lost last seven games after 4-0 start; in last two games, Cardinal offense scored three TDs on 28 drives, while giving up three TDs to opposing defenses. Redbirds are 1-4 on road, 2-2 as road underdogs, losing away games by 14-7-14-4 points. If they had a decent QB, they’d be a contender, but they don’t. Jets lost five of last six games, with last three losses by 21-21-30 points; they’re 2-4 at home this year, 3-1 vs spread as a favorite, with only home wins by 20-21 points. Gang Green is 1-7 when their turnover ratio is worse than +3. Jets won last five series meetings by average score of 35-15, winning last one 56-35 here back in ’08. Last time Cardinals beat Jets was in ’75. NFC West road underdogs are 6-5 vs spread; AFC East home favorites are 4-3. Five of last seven Arizona games stayed under the total.
Panthers (3-8) @ Chiefs (1-10)—Very tough to lay points on road with 3-8 Panther squad that was fired up for rare MNF appearance, and is now travelling on short week, but since late rally vs Chargers fell short in Week 4, Kansas City has three offensive TDs on 76 drives (0 for 21 in last two games), while allowing three return TDs to opponents; they’ve now lost seven games in row, are 0-6 at home for first time since 1976. KC has 83 points in last seven games (11.9 ppg). Carolina covered last four road games, winning last two (Wash/Phil). Three of last four Carolina road games went over total; last three Chief games stayed under. NFC South non-divisional favorites are 10-7 vs spread, 4-0 on road; AFC West underdogs are 6-13, 2-5 at home. Bad teams have very little enthusiasm from fans, therefore very small, if any home field advantage.
Colts (7-4) @ Lions (4-7)—Indy had -4 turnover ratio in three of four losses; they’re 7-1 otherwise, making them live dog here; Colts won/covered five of last six games, with only loss in Foxboro- they’re 4-3 vs spread as underdog, 1-3 on road. Detroit has only two takeaways (-5) in last three games; they’ve lost last three weeks, allowing 30.7 ppg (nine TDs/10 FGA on last 37 drives)- their last seven TDs allow all came on drives of 74+ yards, so they’re not stopping anyone, and Colts have good offense, converting 16 of last 30 3rd down plays. Lions are 2-3 vs spread as underdog, 1-2 at home. Indy won last three series games by average score of 34-16, but that was with Manning at QB. Under is 4-1-1 in last six Indy games, 1-4 in last five Detroit games. AFC South underdogs are 11-9 vs spread, 5-5 on road; NFC North favorites are 10-11, 6-8 at home.
Jaguars (2-9) @ Bills (4-7)—Buffalo is 4-0 when it allows 17 or less points, 0-7 when it doesn’t. December trip up north for Florida team is generally bad news for visitors, but since Henne became QB, Jags scored 37-24 points in last two games (7 TDs on last 25 drives), and appear energized. Jax is also 5-0 vs spread on road, with losses by 3-3-9-6 points, but three of those five road games were in domes. Buffalo lost four of last five games, with only win vs Miami (Florida team coming north); Bills are 2-2 SU at home, 3-1 vs spread as favorites this year, with home wins by 18-5 points. Jaguars won four of six visits here, winning 36-26 in last trip here, two years ago. AFC East favorites are 7-5 vs spread, 4-3 at home; AFC South underdogs are 10-9, 5-5 on road. Three of last four Buffalo games stayed under the total.
Patriots (8-3) @ Dolphins (5-6)—New England has five return TDs in last two games; Miami hasn’t forced a turnover in its last four games. Last week was first time Dolphins won without positive turnover ratio (1-6). Patriots won four in row, eight of last 10 series games, winning four of last five visits here, with wins by 21-20-27-14 points. NE is 17-6-1 vs spread in last 24 games as a divisional road favorite; they’re 4-2 on road, this year, with all four wins by 21+ points. Pats’ losses are by 1-1-2 points, so in reality, they’re seven points away from being 11-0 right now. Miami is 3-2 at home, with three of five games decided by exactly 3 points. Over last decade, Miami is 5-9 as a divisional home dog. Last nine Patriot games went over the total; under is 5-1-1 in last seven Miami games. Home teams are 2-6 vs spread in AFC divisional games, home dogs are 0-3.
Texans (10-1) @ Titans (4-7)—Tennessee’s development of young Locker as QB of future took major hit when they fired OC Palmer Monday; now you have 2nd-year QB with very little experience, a rookie OC, and a 2nd-year HC with an Impatient 86-year old owner who never should’ve let Jeff Fisher get out of Nashville in first place. Titans lost 38-14 (+13) at Houston in Week 4; Texans had two return TDs, +3 turnover ratio in game that was only 14-7 at half. Potential trap game for Houston, which plays in Foxboro next week; they’re 5-0 on road this year, 2-1-1 as road favorite, winning road games by 20-6-6-7-3 points. Titans are 4-5 as underdogs this year, 2-2 at home. Six of last nine Houston games went over total; three of last four Titan games stayed under. Home teams are 2-5 vs spread in AFC South divisional games this season.
Buccaneers (6-5) @ Broncos (8-3)—Denver won last six games, failed to cover last two, despite winning by 7-8 points; they’re 3-1 as Mile High favorites, with home wins by 12-31-20-7 points, and loss to Houston. Bronco defense has improved greatly; opponents converted just six of last 42 third down plays. Bucs had 4-game win streak snapped last week; they’re 5-1-1 as an underdog this year, 4-0 on road, winning last three games on foreign soil while scoring 35 ppg. Broncos won five of seven series games, with last four all decided by 4 or less points; Bucs lost three of four visits here, with only win in ’93, and last two losses by 4-3 points. NFC South non-divisional road underdogs are 9-1 vs spread this season; AFC West favorites are 5-5, 3-3 at home. Six of last eight Tampa games, five of last seven Broncos tilts went over the total.
Steelers (6-5) @ Ravens (9-2)—Pittsburgh scored 16-10-14 points in last three games, losing last two with backup QBs playing, scoring just single FG in second half of those games; Batch-led Steelers had 8 turnovers (-7) last week, first NFL team in 11 years to do that, so Big Ben’s recovery probably accelerated here, as Ravens beat Pitt 13-10 (-3.5) two weeks ago at Heinz, despite being outgained 311-200. Ravens were +3 in turnovers that game, are +7 in last four; they’re 2-3 as home favorites this year, winning at home by 31-1-7-2-35 points. Baltimore scored only 13-16 points in last two games, but won both with defense, converted 4th-and-29 swing pass on game-tying drive last week. Pitt is 2-4 on road, losing by 12-3-3-6 points; they’re Home teams covered four of first six AFC North divisional games. Under is 5-1-1 in last seven Steeler games, 3-1 in last four Raven games.
Browns (3-8) @ Raiders (3-8)— Cleveland is 3-3 since last six games since starting out 0-5; they’re 0-5 on road, though, with four losses by 7 or less points. Browns beat rival Steelers at home last week, forcing eight turnovers from 37-year old, 3rd-string QB Batch; they’re 3-7-1 vs spread in game following their last 11 wins. Oakland lost last four games, allowing 42.3 ppg (20 TDs on last 48 drives), 182.5 rushing yards/game; they’re 2-3 at home, beating Steelers/Jaguars by FG each. Raiders are 0-3 as a favorite this year; since 2006, they’re a ridiculous 4-16 vs spread when favored. Home team won last three series games, with Browns losing 26-24/24-17 in last two visits here. AFC North underdogs are 6-7 vs spread, 4-4 on road; AFC West favorites are 5-5, 3-3 at home. Under is 4-0-1 in last five Cleveland games, 1-5 in last six Raider games.
Bengals (6-5) @ Chargers (4-7)—San Diego couldn’t stop Ray Rice from getting first down on 4th-and-29 last week, which led to tying FG in OT loss that officially ended its season; Chargers lost six of last seven games, with only win vs hideous Chiefs- they’re 2-3 at home, and forced total of only nine turnover in non-Chief games (10 takeaways in two games vs KC). Bengals won last three games allowing 9.7 ppg (two TDs on 35 drives); they’re 6-0 when they score 27+ points, 0-5 when they don’t. San Diego allowed 30+ points in four of its last seven games- they haven’t had TD drive of less than 78 yards since Week 6. Chargers are 8-3 in last 11 series games, winning five of last six played here. AFC West teams are 5-8 vs spread in non-divisional home games; AFC North teams are 6-8 on road. Under is 6-2 in last eight Bengal games, 2-6 in last eight San Diego games.
Eagles (3-8) @ Cowboys (5-6)—Eagles are in tank, losing last seven games (0-6 vs spread in last six); national TV cameras didn’t help them last week, likely won’t help here, especially with WR Jackson now out for year (ribs)- their three wins are by 1-1-2 points, so they’re seven points away from being 0-11. Dallas beat them 38-23 (-1) three weeks ago at the Linc, despite being outgained by 75 yards- Pokes had three return TDs in same quarter. Cowboys are 6-19-1 vs spread in last 26 games as a favorite, 2-5 this year; they’re 2-3 at home this year, 0-4 as home favorite, beating Bucs by 6, Browns by 3. Foles hasn’t been awful at QB for Eagles; he is a Dallas kid (Westlake Carroll HS). Eagles have two takeaways (-8) in last five games. Home teams are 1-6 vs spread in NFC East games, home favorites 1-4. All five Eagle road games stayed under the total; three of last four Dallas home games went over.
Giants (7-4) @ Redskins (5-6)—Washington scored go-ahead TD with 1:32 left to take 23-20 lead in Week 7’s first meeting, but Manning hit on 77-yard TD pass on first play after kickoff to give Giants dramatic win, their 7th in last nine series games. Big Blue is 0-4 when they score 20 or less points, 7-0 when they score more; Redskins allowed 21+ points in nine of 11 games. Both teams have played better since their bye; Redskins scored 31-38 points in beating other two division rivals; they’ve had three extra days to prepare since Turkey Day win. Giants looked invigorated in crushing Green Bay last week. Home teams are 1-6 vs spread in NFC East games, home underdogs 0-2. Last three Giant games, three of last four Washington games stayed under the total. Last four years, team that won first series meeting also won the second; Giants won five of last six visits here.
Thursday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud........
13) Six Big East teams have already bolted for greener pa$ture$; UConn-Cincinnati-South Florida are jockeying to get the remaining two spots that the ACC seems destined to open up.
Its very possible that the football end of the Big East could be defunct by July, with the non-football Big East teams forming a new basketball league. This is all a high stakes game of musical chairs where no one knows when the music will stop, or if it ever will.
12) Despite 18 consecutive winning football seasons, Southern Mississippi was always on the outside looking in on conference realignment. Now, after Ellis Johnson’s first season as coach ended at 0-12, ending their streak of winning seasons, USM showed him the door. No matter what league you’re in, 0-12 still gets you fired, and it always will.
11) With five weeks to go in the regular season, 95 of 176 NFL games (54%) have been decided by 8 or less points, the highest percentage ever at this point of the season.
10) Tennessee Titans fired OC Chris Palmer with five games left in the season, a definite red flag, especially when you’re playing a QB with almost no experience. Palmer didn’t seem too sad about losing his job, saying the Titans can hire/fire who they want, but firing him didn’t fix any of the problems. Developing a young QB usually takes time, but 86-year old owners don’t tend to look at the big picture. Impatience breeds mistakes.
9) ACC pulled a tremendous coup getting Louisville to replace departed Maryland. Cardinals are better than Maryland in both in both football/ basketball; only thing you lose with Terrapins leaving is tradition, since Maryland was an ACC charter member. No one care$ about that anymore.
8) Speaking of the Cardinals, Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater is a tough human; he played the second half against UConn last week with a broken left (non-throwing) wrist. He’s very good in addition to being very tough.
7) Conference USA replaced East Carolina/Tulane with Middle Tennessee. Its hard to imagine anyone will miss having Tulane in their league, other than the easy wins and the trips to Bourbon Street.
6) Tonight’s Big East football game on ESPN between Louisville of the ACC and Rutgers of the Big 14 is sold out, the first Rutgers home sellout in three years.
5) I understand that Notre Dame is 12-0 and deserves to play for a national title, but if I’m voting for Coach of the Year, I’m adamant that 10-1 at Kansas State is better than 12-0 almost anywhere else. The job Bill Snyder has done in the Little Apple is truly amazing.
4) Denver Pioneers played in the Sun Belt last year, the WAC this year and will be in the Summit League starting next year.
I’m wondering if they tried to get into the Mountain West as a basketball-only member? Seems like a better fit than the obscure Summit League.
3) CBS showed A Charlie Brown Christmas last night, couple of nights after the Grinch was on. These are classic shows that should be on closer to Christmas; late November? Not good.
2) As it stands right now, a San Diego State-SMU football game next season will be a Big East conference game. Get a map. SMU is in Dallas. San Diego State is in, well, San Diego. How does this make any sense?
1) Big East basketball tournament is a staple of March; lot of great games over the years. Big East final has 8:00 Saturday spot during Championship Week. In 2014, you could get a Tulane-Central Florida championship game; in the Big East, not Conference USA. Want to see how ESPN sells that one, or any of this stuff.