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SPOOKY'S MANNY PACQUIANO IS DEAD AND THE NFL WEEKLY BOWL WEEK EXPRESS
-- This is the second time ever it snowed in Dallas before Chicago; the other time was 1952.
-- I knew Brandon McCarthy signed with Arizona, but I didn't realize they gave him $15.5M for two years. Thats some serious cheese.
-- Who fired Cam Cameron; John Harbaugh or owner Steve Bisciotti?
-- Western Kentucky hired Bobby Petrino as football coach; what would be the over/under on how long he stays there? Colorado hired San Jose State coach Mike MacIntyre; these mid-major teams don't get to enjoy their bowls-- the coaches always leave!!!!
-- ESPN Bowl Week is 17 days long.
-- Because Christmas Eve/New Year's Eve are on Mondays, next week is the last Monday night NFL game this year: Jets-Titans. Whoops.
Wrapping up an NFL Sunday - encore presentation..........
13) If you ever get the idea that these pro teams know everything about how they run their franchises, think again. Denver drafted Arizona State's Brock Osweiler in the 2nd round; QB turned out to not be an area of need.
Seattle drafted Russell Wilson in the third round, despite paying $13M for former Green Bay backup Matt Flynn. Its worked out well for them, but that $13M might've been better-spent elsewhere.
Also have to remember Tom Brady was a 6th round pick, two-time MVP Kurt Warner was never drafted. Drafting is an inexact science.
12) Iowa State sold its allotment of 10,000 tickets for the Liberty Bowl in less than 72 hours; that people, is how you get invited to bowls even after a mediocre 6-6 season. Bowls are businesses, thats the bottom line.
11) Who thought the Chargers would win easily in Pittsburgh? Five of 12 San Diego drives started in Steeler territory; Bolts had an 18-yard advantage in field position. Four teams this week had a 10+ yard edge in average field position- they scored an average of 42.5 ppg, covering all four games.
10) Colts' Bruce Arians is going to be Coach of the Year, even though he is an interim coach, but can't overlook the job Jeff Fisher is doing with Rams, who were 2-14 last year, 15-65 the previous five years. At 6-6-1, the Rams are still alive for a playoff spot, despite an offense that just isn't very good.
Sam Bradford led an 84-yard, 14-play drive that won the game with 0:48 left; watching the first half, you wouldn't have thought it was possible.
9) Tampa Bay Rays traded James Shields to the Royals for Wil Myers, the big outfield prospect. End of an era for the Rays; Shields helped Tampa Bay get to the World Series in 2008. Thats modern baseball; guys get some mileage on them, they start earning big money, they become expendable.
8) Cleveland Browns won their third game in row; wonder if their new owner has made up his mind about about whether to keep coach Shurmur or not. They seem to be making some progress.
7) Giants had a 30-yard edge in average field position; don't think I've ever seen that before. 7 of 13 Giant drives started in New Orleans territory, plus they ran a kick back for a TD.
6) If you owned the Dodgers, and you're going to wheel out the biggest payroll in baseball history next spring, are you content that your manager is Don Mattingly? Wouldn't you want a more accomplished skipper?
5) Carolina whacked the Falcons, Philly won at Tampa Bay; hard to figure this stuff out. Minnesota scored three TD's; one on a 5-yard drive, another scored by defense. Bears are 7-16 when Brian Urlacher doesn't play.
4) Bengals dropped back to pass 38 times, ran it 20 times against a defense whose starting nose tackle is hurt, its #2 nose tackle is in jail; not good.
Cincinnati drove 70 yards in five plays for a TD first time they had the ball, then never scored another TD, as they gagged away a 20-19 loss to Dallas, kicking field goals on their last three red zone drives, thanks in part couple drops by star WR AJ Green, who had a dismal game.
3) Backup QB Kirk Cousins led a game-tying drive in the last minute for Washington, after RGIII bruised his knee, then the Redskins won 31-28 in OT. What looked like a serious injury for Griffin turned out to be less so, as Redskin coaches/fans/players breathe a huge sigh of relief.
2) Seattle 58, Arizona 0. At one point, Cardinals had 8 turnovers, 7 first downs; their QB play is becoming legendary for its incompetence. Their QB coach is a guy named John McNulty, who played safety at Penn State. No disrespect to Mr McNulty, but in the NFL, think you need someone who has played the position to coach the position at the highest level.
1) Lions lost their third game in row when they led by 10+ points, tying an NFL record; they haven't won in Wisconsin since 1991. They keep finding new ways to lose every week. Horrendous!
Do you remember how awesome Matt Millen was with the Detroit Lions? Oh, those were some terrific times. But for as bad as Millen was as a president of an NFL team, I truly believe that Roger Goodell is just as awful running the entire league. Take this week's profile in Time Magazine for example. Ol' Ginger Dick apparently wants to eliminate the kickoff because it's more dangerous than war. O RLY? If you haven't heard, he wants to take it away from the game and replace it with the team that just scored getting a 4th and 15 from their own 30. They can go for it or punt. SO DUMB. Yeah, that's what football fans want to see...Make It, Take It.
If the kickoff is tantamount to Kobe Bryant hotel rape (it is not) then how about this simple proposal as opposed to Goodell's tard plan: do it like they do in high school. If the kick reaches the end zone, it's an automatic touchback. I feel like most kickers just crush it through the end zone anyway which makes this idea even more stupid. Stop pussifying the game, Rog. No one cares about player safety. Roger Goodell sucks. Onto the rest of week fourteen's worst:
Josh Brent - Well look at that, another player death this week! You've got to love dumb pro athletes who just refuse to use the car service that is readily available for them for free. This whole situation is just sad though...because we only got rid of one Cowboy and not all of them. COUNT IT.
Keyshawn Johnson - He took a break from wearing his own jersey (j/k, he would never do that) to mouth fart that young players don't have enough money to afford cabs and that is why they drunk drive and kill their buddies. FYI, the minimum NFL salary in 2012 is $390,000. Keyshawn is a fucking dolt.
The Return of Romeo, Hillis, and Rainbow Tenor - One of the dumbest subplots of the season was the little ex-GF spat between Hillis and Joe Thomas earlier this week. The Chiefs, built with a whole fuckload of ex-Browns, were coming back home to exact some revenge. Or not. The Chiefs are the worst.
Bad Browns Fans - I don't understand those that want their team to lose in order to get a higher draft pick. If you have a QB then you shouldn't want to lose ever. Whether or not you believe in Weeden is pointless because he is going to be there for the next few years. These guys need to learn to win. And they are. Quit being a dipshit.
Bengals - You deserved to lose that game and probably missing out on the playoffs. Good job by the Bengals losing to Team Dead Guy. Maybe one day Terrence Newman will learn how to catch. By the way, always bet on teams who just had a guy die the day before. They are 2-0 ATS.
Andrew Luck - Let's slow down on calling goblin boy the GOAT. Yeah, he is winning games and that is really all that matters BUT dude is leading the league in interceptions. The same league also features weekly Mark Sanchez, too. I just want to remind everyone that I picked the Colts to make the playoffs before the season started. I CALLED THIS SHIT.
Jay Cutler's Head - He should just retire. The Bears clearly do not care about his health. Just walk away and start up another Laguna Beach franchise or something. Adrian Peterson Update: still the best and the MVP because he is not a human being. AP is the TROOF.
Norv > Tomlin - HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Also Batch > Ben. Who the fuck gets smoked by the Chargers at home? They lost to the Browns! It's a damn shame that the Bingles lost because I would truly enjoy the Steelers sitting at home in January. But I can't be too mean since I will be rooting for them to kill more Cowboys next Sunday. We know that James Harrison has the guns to mow a few down.
Atlanta getting punked - Leading up to the game, Panthers DE Greg Hardy called the Falcons frauds and fags and skidmarks and whatever. He was right. The Falcons suck. Matt Ryan is hot garbage. He was missing open receivers by ten yards all day. Michael Turner is just a 300 pound ass with arms at this point. This team peaked way too early. They will lose their first playoff game yet again.
Cam Newton - Oh, how did you like his three months of trolling leading up to now? Can you believe this guy? If you somehow made your fantasy playoffs with Cam on your team, congratulations on the miracle, plus you are going to win your league. GUARANTEED. Cam is ELITE when there is nothing to play for.
Greg Schiano - It serves that douche right to lose a game like that to the terrible Eagles. After Napoleon Dynamite threw the GW TD, JB made the correct comment that the Eagles coaching staff are all 400 pounds. Just gross people.
The State of Arizona - This was the worst offensive game possibly ever. I'm not just blaming the Cards, I'm blaming the entire state.
Drew Brees - OK now, this is two weeks of straight garbage from the Breesus. And now that RG3sus is shaky, who will be the new -sus? Adrian Pesustersen? Nah, that makes too MUCH sense. I'm just going to say it: Drew Brees sucks.
Finally, the week is upon us (and the rest of you assholes that read and never comment like a bunch of free-loading shit-bricks), Its the week before bowl season and Im heading to Disneyworld and I'm bringing all of my African American Lion fans with me. The goal is to get up there on Wednesday and be back by Saturday for the first bowl game. By the way, there is no way in Hell that the Lions are capable of losing to the Cardinals next week. Is there?
Coming off another fabo fucking winning week - List of 13: Grading the NFC coaches.........
Ken Whisenhunt, Cardinals—4-0 start turned into a 4-9 debacle, mainly because of the worst QB play the NFL has seen since Jerry Golsteyn’s day in the league. Hire a QB coach, sir, one who played pro football. Grade: F
Mike Smith, Falcons—they’re 11-2 and might not play another outdoor game all season. Smith needs to win at least one playoff game this season, or he could turn into this generation’s Chuck Knox. Not the worst thing in the world, just not the best. Grade: A-
Ron Rivera, Panthers—Hard to work for a franchise that willingly let John Fox walk; looks like they’d rather have a coach who works cheap. Former Alabama coach Mike Shula coaching Auburn alum Cam Newton is a bad fit. Grade: D
Lovie Smith, Bears—Started fast, but team is fading with Urlacher out hurt; they’re 7-16 when he can’t play and he’s out for rest of regular season. Grade: B-
Jason Garrett, Cowboys—Most overrated franchise in sports (one playoff win last 16 years) has won three of last four games, and has shown offensive life late in games. Defense is lacking playmakers; if only they had a real GM. Grade: C+.
Jim Schwartz, Lions—Tied NFL record this week by losing third straight game when they had a 10+ point lead in all three games. Game management has been suspect. Defense takes too many cheap penalties. Grade: D-
Mike McCarthy, Packers—All they do is win. Still amusing that Aaron Rodgers wasn’t offered a college scholarship out of high school. Grade: A.
Leslie Frazier, Vikings—Had three TDs Sunday, but one was on defense, another on a 5-yard drive; won at Detroit this year without an offensive TD. Still not convinced Ponder is QB they need. Hope he doesn’t prove me wrong this week. Grade: B-
Tom Coughlin, Giants—Two-time Super Bowl champ is in shadows of Jets’ freak show, which is just how he wants it. In first place again, on his way to Canton. Grade: B+
Joe Vitt, Saints—NFL screwed the Saints bigtime in that whole bounty thing; NFL Films used to make light of bounties, before concussion-based lawsuits became a reality. Super Bowl week night not be fun for Mr Goodell on Bourbon Street. Grade: C-
Andy Reid, Eagles— Nothing ends well, or else it wouldn't end. There are times when a divorce benefits both sides. Reid has had the cruelest of years, both on and off the field. I’m thinking 2013 will be a lot better for him. This year was horrific. Grade: F for this year, but an A for his tenure in Philly.
Jeff Fisher, Rams—This franchise is 15-65 last five years, was 2-14 last year, but is 6-6-1 this year with a patchwork offensive line and a subpar group of WRs. How did Bud Adams let this man walk? ……. Grade: A
Jim Harbaugh, 49ers—Switch to Kaepernick at QB is what he wanted to do all along; he obviously doesn’t think Alex Smith is a franchise QB and he has to do what he thinks is best. Grade: A-
Pete Carroll, Seahawks—Inserting Russell Wilson at QB turned out to be brilliant, but what will they do with Flynn this winter? Winning road games will get tougher if both starting CBs get suspended for Adderall. Grade: A-.
Greg Schiano, Bucs—when Tampa Bay hired him, I almost choked on my food, but he has given team toughness and has improved their record. That’s his job. Read a wild article that said how disliked he is league-wide, but its not a popularity contest. Grade: B+.
Mike Shanahan, Redskins—RGIII is the man, which keeps the Shanahans employed, since they don’t have a first round pick again until 2015. Redskins are one of the most fun teams to watch. Grade: B+.
Wednesday's List of 13: Grading the AFC coaches.........
John Harbaugh, Ravens—8 of their 13 games have been decided by 3 or less points; firing your OC on December 10 is a huge red flag, especially when you replace him with Jim Caldwell. Grade: B.
Chan Gailey, Bills—Lost at home to Titans/Rams, giving up game-winning TDs in last minute of both games. If the Fitzpatrick contract was his doing, then he should be fired. Grade: C-.
Marvin Lewis, Bengals—Job he has done here is underrated, working for cheapskate owner Brown. Defense is sturdy; young QB Dalton is a keeper. Grade: B.
Pat Shurmur, Browns—Working under new owner who didn’t hire him; guy who did hire him is already gone, making it tough. Current 3-game win streak with (28-year old) rookie QB might get him another HC job down road if he gets canned here. Grade: B-.
John Fox, Broncos—Happiest man in America, upgrading from Tebow to Manning at QB. Survived early brutal schedule, now on serious roll. Could lift Lombardi Trophy soon. Grade: A.
Gary Kubiak, Texans—11-2, but two losses were one-sided in primetime, so naysayers still exist. Really need to get home field so playoff games are in dome, so two games with Indy in next three weeks are critical.
Bruce Arians, Colts— I’m not kidding when I say they’re going to make a movie about the ’12 Colts. Interim coach has been terrific under difficult conditions; definite Coach of Year in NFL. Grade: A+.
Mike Mularkey, Jaguars—Team has played much better on road, amidst rumors they could wind up playing anywhere from LA to London. Henne is better QB than Gabbert, but Gabbert was high draft pick of previous regime. Grade: C-.
Romeo Crennel, Chiefs—Dismal season became 100 times worse after murder/suicide two weeks ago. Would be surprised if all coaches/front office weren’t canned in three weeks. Grade: F.
Joe Philbin, Dolphins—Have done solid job staying competitive with sub-par talent/rookie QB. If Bill Polian says this is excellent staff, that’s all you need to know. Grade: B-.
Bill Belichick, Patriots—All they do is win. Plus-24 turnover ratio has them headed for first-round bye in playoffs, but Denver is right on their heels for that. Grade: A.
Rex Ryan, Jets—Lot of this is on front office, which allowed team to become shameless circus act with media. Whoever thought Tebow was a good idea is an idiot—no way was it Rex, who at least has the sense to be quieter now. Grade: D.
Dennis Allen, Raiders—Was defensive coordinator in Denver LY, but his defense this year fell apart. They have to give him time; changing coaches every year makes no sense, and has never worked. Grade: D.
Mike Tomlin, Steelers—Very difficult when the star QB gets hurt, but Big Ben had bum shoulder in offseason and never got it fixed. Why? His tenure here has been solid, but this year has been less so. Grade: C.
Norv Turner, Chargers—He was coach of Redskins last time they won a division title, but his time with Chargers is up. Someone would be wise to scoop him up as a OC next year. Grade: F.
Mike Munchak, Titans—His job would be easier if his young QB wasn’t a righthanded Tebow; well, he’s better than that, but not by a lot. Bud Adams was a fool for letting Jeff Fisher out of Nashville. Grade: D+.
Bengals (7-6) @ Eagles (4-9)—Tend to favor contending team in these short-week games, since injured guys more likely to suck it up and play, but Cincy gagged away game with Dallas last week, ending 4-game win streak; AJ Green caught three balls for 44 yards, dropped two passes in clutch spots that cost Bengals four points each in game they should’ve won. Bengals won last two road games, didn’t allow offensive TD on 21 drives; they are 3-3 as favorite this year, 1-1 on road. Since 2010, they’re 4-2-1 as road favorites. Iggles snapped 8-game skid with win at Tampa Sun day, scoring on last play of game; they’ve lost last four home games, allowing 31 ppg (13 TD’s/43 drives). Cincy leads this series 7-3-1, are 4-3 here; last time these teams met was 13-13 tie in ’08, last NFL tie until Rams-Niners last month. AFC North favorites are 9-11 vs spread, 4-4 on road; NFC East underdogs are 10-5, 1-2 at home. Last five Bengal games stayed under; five of six Philly home games went over.
Packers (9-4) @ Bears (8-5)— Bears are 5-2 at home, and division lead is at stake here, but these are two teams going in opposite directions. Green Bay (-6) beat Bears 23-10 in Week 2 Thursday nighter, picking off four passes, holding Cutler to 11-27/74 passing; it was 7th win in last eight meetings in this ancient rivalry. Pack won three of last four visits here, winning 21-14/27-17 in last two. Pack won seven of last eight games, taking three of last four on road after losing first two away games- they’re 6-5 as favorites this year, 2-2 on road; since ’07, they’re 16-12 as road favorites, 9-4 in divisional games. GB ran ball for 152-140 yards last two weeks, converted 14-27 on 3rd down. Chicago is now 7-16 without Urlacher; they’ve lost four of last five games overall, allowing 176-171 rushing yards last two weeks. NFC North home favorites are 4-3 vs the spread. Last four Green Bay games stayed under the total.
Giants (8-5) @ Falcons (11-2)—Giants are 8-0 when they score 26+ points, 0-5 when they don’t; would expect strong effort for hosts after they got pasted at Carolina last week. Atlanta allowed 30+ points in both losses, but held six of last nine opponents to 20 or less points; they’re 6-0 at home, with five of six wins by 6 or less points. Falcons were held under 80 yards rushing in four of last five games; would expect them to try and run it here more (Giants allowed 207-142 rushing yards last two games). Giants are 3-3 on road, scoring 13-16 points in last two (two offensive TD’s on 20 drives)- they’re +5 in turnovers last three weeks, +16 for season. Big Blue whacked Atlanta 24-2 in LY’s playoffs, fourth straight series win (average score 29-14); Giants won last seven visits to Atlanta (last here in ’04), with last loss here at old Fulton County Stadium in ’78. Four of last five Giant games, three of last four Atlanta games stayed under the total. Underdogs are 13-4 vs spread in NFC East non-divisional road tilts. NFC South home teams are 6-11 against spread out of their division.
Buccaneers (6-7) @ Saints (5-8)—Both teams lost last three games, as playoff hopes slip away; Saints (-1.5) escaped Tampa with 35-28 back in Week 7, when Bucs’ tying TD on last play was waved off because WR stepped OB earlier on his route. Bucs outgained NO 513-458 that day; Freeman was 24-42/415 passing. This season series has split in each of last four years; Bucs are 3-2 in last five visits here. Tampa is 5-2 as underdogs this year, 3-0 on artificial turf; they’ve won three of last four road games SU. Saints allowed 35.3 ppg last three weeks; they’ve won three of last four home games, covered last four games as a favorite (4-3 for year). Brees threw nine picks in last three games, as -6 turnover ratio in those games doomed playoffs chances on Bourbon Street. NO had 30-yard disadvantage in field position last week, which doesn’t count KR they allowed for TD. NFC South home teams are 5-3 vs spread. Three of last four Tampa games stayed under total; four of Saints’ last five games went over.
Vikings (7-6) @ Rams (6-6-1)—St Louis is getting most out of team with limited offense, winning last three games despite scoring three offensive TDs (defense also scored three); Fisher’s spunky bunch is 6-1 vs spread this year in games with spread of 4 or less points. Rams are 4-2 at home, 0-1 as favorites; their home wins are by 3-6-14-3 points. Since 2004, Rams are just 8-18 vs spread as home favorites. Minnesota is 1-5 on road, 1-3 as road dogs; they didn’t scored offensive TD (had two return TD’s) in only road win, 20-13 at Detroit in Week 4. Since 2008, Vikings are 10-15-1 as road dogs. Vikes are 2-3 in five visits here, with coming in ’09; average total in last eight series games, 57.1. NFC West home favorites are 6-4 vs spread. NFC North road dogs are 1-5. Last three Minnesota games stayed under; five of last seven Ram games went over (last two stayed under). Rams are 4-2 SU (5-1 vs spread) when game stayed under, 2-4-1 SU (4-3 vs spread) when it goes over.
Redskins (7-6) @ Browns (5-8)—Health of RGIII (knee) key issue here, since rookie Cousins gets first NFL start if Griffin can’t go. Washington won/covered last four games, beating three division rivals and regional rival Ravens, with Cousins leading tying drive in last minute last week. Skins are 3-3 on road, 4-1 as road underdogs, with five of six games going over total- their road losses are by 3-4-15 points. Redskins averaged 168.2 rushing ypg in last five games, but lot of that was RGIII’s mobility on read option plays- Cousins won’t be doing that. Browns gave up 80-yard run on first play last week but then blanked Chiefs rest of way- they’re 2-0 vs spread as favorites this year (last two games). Cleveland won/covered its last three games, allowing 12.7 ppg (4 TD’s on 36 drives); they won four of last five games, are 5-3 SU since 0-5 start. NFC East road underdogs are 8-3 vs spread. AFC North home favorites are 5-7. Under is 6-0-1 in Browns’ last seven games.
Jaguars (2-10) @ Dolphins (5-8)— Miami lost five of last six games after 4-3 start; only two of its five wins are by more than 4 points. Dolphins are 0-3 as favorites this year; since ’03, they’re 8-33 vs spread as a home favorite. Yes, 8-33. Jax is 5-1 vs spread on road, despite winning only one of six games; their road losses are by 3-3-9-6-16 points; only win was 22-17 at Indy, when they hit 80-yard TD pass in last 2:00. Only non-cover was 34-18 at Buffalo in last road game, two weeks ago. Jags are just 3-26 on 3rd down in last two years; they’ve been outsacked 14-2 last three games. Home team lost last three series games, with average total 30.7; Jaguars won 24-10 in only visit here, in 2006. Under is 6-2-1 in last nine Dolphin games, 1-3 in Jaguars’ last four road games. In fairness, Miami’s last three games were vs Seattle-49ers-Patriots, three playoff teams, but hard to endorse them laying seven points. AFC East favorites are 10-7 vs spread, 6-5 at home.AFC South underdogs are 11-12, 6-7 on the road.
Broncos (10-3) @ Ravens (9-4)—A winning team firing its OC on December 10, after game where Ravens scored 28 points, but defense gave up tying score in last minute? All is not well in Baltimore, where eight of 13 Raven games were decided by 3 or less points. New OC Caldwell (former Colt coach) has never called plays at this level, bad news vs Denver team that won its last eight games (6-2 vs spread) after 2-3 start vs brutal schedule. Broncos are 5-2 SU on road, 3-1 vs spread as road favorites. Ravens are 5-1 at home, losing only to rival Steelers; they’re 1-2 as underdogs this year. Since 2003, they’re 5-7 as home dogs, but this is first time since ’09 they’re in that role. Denver kept four of last five opponents under 75 rushing yards; curious to see how Ravens’ offense is different this week. Five of six Raven home games went over total, as did six of last nine Denver games. You knew Ravens had issues when they split pair of 3-point decisions with Big Ben-less Steelers.
Colts (9-4) @ Texans (11-2)—Storybook Colts won three in row, seven of last eight games; seven of their nine wins are by 4 or less points, or in OT. Three of their four losses are by 20+ points. Indy is just 2-3 as road underdogs this year; that includes wild 35-33 comeback win over Lions (two TDs in last 2:39) two weeks ago. Short week for hosts after Monday night debacle in Foxboro; they crushed the Ravens week after their first loss. Since ’09, Houston is 12-10-1 vs spread in game following a loss. Texans are 4-2 as home favorites, losing to Packers, winning at home by 20-24-30-12-6 points. Indy has three return TDs in last five games, but 18 of their last 21 offensive TDs came on drives of 74+ yards. Houston clinches division with win here, could blow #1 seed in AFC with loss; they’re 3-17 all-time vs Indy, but won last two meetings here, 34-24/34-7. AFC South home teams are 2-7 against spread, 1-4 when favored. Three of last four games for both sides went over the total.
Panthers (4-9) @ Chargers (5-8)—Carolina coach Rivera came to Panthers from San Diego; now both staffs are likely to be unemployed in three weeks. Panthers split last six games after 1-5 start; they won two of last three road games, covered four of last five- their road losses are by 6-2-1-6 points. As bad as they are, Carolina was favorite in three of first six road games- they’re 3-0 as road underdogs. San Diego had unlikely win at Pittsburgh last week; hard to tell how much of a carrot potential 8-8 finish is to players. Chargers lost four of last five home games, scoring one offensive TD on last 22 home drives- they’re 4-3 as favorites this year, 2-2 at home, Since 2010, Bolts are 10-8 as home favorites. Home side lost three of four in seldom-played series; Panthers won both visits here, 26-7/26-24. NFC South road underdogs are 9-3 vs spread. AFC West favorites are 6-5 against spread, 4-3 at home. 7 of last 10 San Diego games, four of last five Carolina games went over the total.
Seahawks (8-5) vs Bills (5-8) (Toronto)—Seattle heads to Canada winners in four of last five games, but they’re 2-5 on road, winning 16-12 (+3) at 4-9 Carolina in Week 5, 23-17 (OT, +3) at skidding Bears two weeks ago. All seven Seahawks road games were decided by 7 or less points. Marshawn Lynch will be fired up to run pigskin against his old team; Seattle ran ball for 176-284 yards last two weeks. Bills held last four opponents under 90 rushing yards- their goal here has to do same with Lynch and make rookie QB Wilson beat them passing, which he hasn’t been that good at on road, averaging 17 ppg on road (21-23 in last two away games). Buffalo lost five of last seven games after hopeful 3-3 start; they blanked Redskins in Toronto LY, snapping 3-game skid north of border. Bills are 2-5 vs spread as underdog this year; they’re 11-16-3 vs spread in last 30 games vs NFC teams. Five of last six Seattle games went over total; only one of Buffalo’s last four games did. Average total in last seven series games is 47.6. NFC West favorites are 8-6; AFC East underdogs are 8-8.
Lions (4-9) @ Cardinals (4-9)—Detroit tied NFL record last week by losing third game in row, when they led by 10+ points in all three games; good news is they led by 10+ points- if they get up 10 on Arizona, how can inept Redbirds come back? Cardinals do not have NFL-level QB on their roster; they were down 38-0 at half last week in Seattle, their ninth loss in row after 4-0 start. Arizona has five TDs on last 78 drives, while allowing five return TDs during same span- they’re 5-4 vs spread as a dog this year, and are 3-3 SU at home. Lions lost five games in row, allowing 32 ppg in last three- they’re 2-5 on road, winning by 3 at Philly, 17 at Jax’ville. Detroit is 2-5 as favorite this year; over last 11 years, they’re 2-6-2 vs spread when favored on foreign soil. Lions lost last five visits to desert; their only win here was in ’93. Seems like long time ago (Week 2) Arizona beat the Patriots in Foxboro. NFC North favorites are 10-13 vs spread, 4-3 on road. NFC West underdogs are 13-6 vs spread, 4-1 at home. If you wager on this game, report directly to your nearest GA meeting.
Steelers (7-6) @ Cowboys (7-6)—Dallas is 2-6 vs spread when favored this year, 0-5 at home; since start of 2010, they’re 3-16 vs spread as a home favorite, but they’ve won three of last four games overall, despite being outscored 71-23 in first half of those games. Dallas scored average of 23.4 ppg, just in second half of last five games. Free-falling Steelers (lost three of last four games) allowed Chargers to convert 12-22 on 3rd down last week in ugly 34-24 home loss (San Diego had converted 10 of previous 43 3rd downs coming in). Pittsburgh ran ball for 71.3 ypg last three weeks; even Big Ben’s return didn’t help. Underdogs covered last six Steeler games; Pitt is 3-4 SU on road, 2-1 as road dogs, losing away games by 12-3-3-6 points. Teams split 30 series games, but Steelers won last two 24-20/20-13, and won two of three Super Bowl meetings, but they’ve lost seven of last nine visits here. Four of last five Dallas home games went over the total. NFC East home favorites are 5-8 vs spread; AFC North underdogs are 6-8 against the spread, 3-6 on foreign soil.
Chiefs (2-11) @ Raiders (3-10)—Never thought I’d see day where these two teams are among NFL’s worst. Visitors won 10 of last 11 series games; Chiefs won eight of last nine visits here, but lost nine of last 10 games overall, losing last four away games by 28-18-3-23 points. KC is 2-4 as a road underdog this year, after being 21-14-1 from 2007-11. Oakland lost last six (0-6 vs spread) games, scoring 13.3 ppg in last three games; they’re 0-3 as favorites this year; since 2003, they’re 8-22 vs spread when favored at home. Raiders’ wins this year are by 3-10-3 points, so difficult to lay FG. Chiefs’ offense is horrific, scoring 13 or less points in five of last six games; they’ve scored six TDs on last 61 drives. Last three Oakland games, four of Chiefs’ last five games stayed under the total. Road teams covered six of nine AFC West divisional games; home favorites are 2-3. Much like the Detroit-Arizona game, not much to choose from here.
49ers (9-3-1) @ Patriots (10-3)—New England off impressive thrashing of Texans Monday night; they have to keep going, since Broncos are on their tail for #2 seed in AFC, which brings first-round bye in playoffs. Patriots won last seven games, covered three of last four; they’re 3-3 as home favorites, winning last five games in Foxboro by 10-3-6-35-28 points. Pats scored 11 TDs on last 21 drives at home, against teams with combined record of 20-6. 49ers are 4-2 on road, with both losses in domes (Vikings/Rams); they scored 13-3-13 points in three losses, 24 in their tie. Patriots held last three opponents under 20 points, but they’re hardly dominant defensive team, instead relying on takeaways (+24 turnover margin). 49ers are 4-1-1 vs spread last six times they were an underdog. Brady is from northern California, so this game figures to be special for him. 10 of last 11 Patriot games, four of last five Niner games went over the total. AFC East favorites are 10-7 vs spread, 6-5 at home. NFC West road dogs are 9-5.
Jets (6-7) @ Titans (5-8)—As bad as the Jets have been, as awful as their QB play has been, they close with Titans-Chargers-Bills; its not impossible they could still make playoffs. Go figure. Gang Green won three of last four games, allowing 13 or less points in all three wins; they’re 3-3 on road, losing at Pitt-Foxboro-Seattle. Tennessee lost four of last six games, as young QB Locker gets experience; he’s kind of a right-handed Tebow, athletic as hell, not an accurate passer. Titans are 2-4 at home, with both wins by a FG (Lions/Steelers). Jets ran ball for 177-166 yards last two games, as they try to take pressure off Sanchez, who has horrible set of WRs; expect more of same here. Jets won five of last six series games, winning three of four here, but last of those was in ’08. AFC East road underdogs are 5-7 vs spread; AFC South home favorites are 5-1. Did you know before the Jets were the Jets, they were the New York Titans?
Thursday's List of 13: Random thoughts on a chilly day.....
13) Lakers are 9-13, 2-7 on the road, and Steve Nash might not play until after New Year’s. Any Laker fans clamoring for the return of former interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff as coach? They played well when he was the coach. Rumors have LA adding Delonte West to bolster PG until Nash returns.
12) Further proof the NFL is really hard to analyze: NFL’s TV schedule is made up so that the “better teams” get maximum TV exposure later in the year, building up fan interest as the playoffs approach.
Problem is, the games are so unpredictable, we wound up with the awful Eagles having three primetime games in four weeks, the dysfunctional Jets on in primetime two weeks in a row, while upstarts Indy/Seattle weren’t scheduled into late season primetime slots.
No one knows who is going to be good. No one.
11) Don’t tell any Dodger fans, but over the last three seasons, Wandy Rodriguez has a better ERA than the $147M man, Zack Greinke.
10) If history is an indicator, Western Kentucky won’t have football coach Bobby Petrino for long, but it’ll be expensive for him to bolt to a higher-level school. His buyout is $1.2M. That might buy the Hilltoppers a second year with Petrino coaching them, but if he does well, and history says he will, don’t expect him around for Year #3.
If one of the big boys wants Petrino, $1.2M is pocket change to them.
9) ESPN is doing away with Bracket Busters weekend after this year; apparently the mid-majors thought it outlived its usefulness, as teams have bolstered their non-conference schedules.
8) Maybe this has already been done and I missed it, but it would be interesting to see a feature on what baseball players do as workouts in the offseason, especially at this time of year, 6-8 weeks before spring training.
A segment on Winter League ball would also be interesting.
7) Underrated Christmas song:
Tony Bennett’s “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”. An excellent rendition.
6) Ever see Storage Wars on A&E? The show’s villain, Dave Hester, complained that the show is rigged, that producers plant valuable stuff in the deserted lockers to make the show more interesting. A&E fired Hester for complaining publicly, so now he is suing A&E.
Wouldn’t he have been better off just shutting his mouth?
5) Eldrick Woods was #2 on the PGA in Thursday/Friday scoring LY, but only #32 in Saturday/Sunday scoring. Rounds 3-4 are where the money is made, and where Woods used to be dominant.
4) If the seven Catholic, non-football schools in the Big East jump to the Atlantic 16 (which loses Charlotte/Temple next spring) that would make it the Atlantic 21. If that is the case, they should move the basketball tourney back to Atlantic City, so they could play it in a casino, where 21 is already a popular game.
3) ESPN.com’s knowledgeable baseball guy Rob Neyer points out that Jim Kaat pitched in major leagues to both Ted Williams (started his career in 1939) and Julio Franco (retired in 2007). That’s good stuff.
2) Nike president Phil Knight and his wife donated $125M to University of Oregon, to further the cause of cardiovascular medicine. Must be nice to have an extra $125M laying around the house.
1) Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez has a better job than we do; in addition to his cushy salary as an administrator at a Big Dozen school, Alvarez is going to bank an additional $118,000 for coaching the Badgers in the Rose Bowl. For one game.
Should Wisconsin win that one game, Alvarez gets a $50,000 bonus!!!
What would happen if Alvarez told his players they could divide the $50,000 evenly if they won? That would be excellent, but against the rules. Only the adults are allowed to profit from all this.
-- Josh Hamilton gets $125M for five years from the Angels. Should make the Anaheim-Texas rivalry a little more interesting.
-- Lakers are now 2-8 on the road after losing 116-107 to the Knicks.
-- Interesting part of Tom Watson being Captain of the Ryder Cup team is apparently, he and Eldrick Woods don't get along very well.
-- The seven non-football schools in the Big East have apparently defected, making it 17 teams to bolt the Big East, just in the last eight years. TCU set a new standard by bolting the league before they ever played a game there.
-- At what point do the NHL owners wise up and realize how much they are crippling their own business with this lockout? They were doing so bad last year that they couldn't continue?
-- Rutgers suspended coach Mike Rice for three games, fined him $50,000, plus the $24,000 or so he'll lose from those three games, for doing stuff in practice, stuff like throwing basketballs at players' heads. Just fire him, but then the AD who hired him would be under fire. So Rice gets suspended.
32) Cardinals—Worst QB play the NFL has seen since the ’76-’77 Bucs started out 0-26 in the NFL. Should be noted that the ’79 Bucs played in the NFC title game.
31) Chiefs—Will be lot of relieved people when this season ends December 30; some of them will soon be unemployed, but they will still be relieved this debacle is behind them.
30) Raiders—This just dawned on me; why did they leave LA and go back to Oakland; isn’t LA a better place to own a team than the Bay Area? Al Davis got a pass from the media for lot of the things he did late in his career.
??) Eagles—Someone is going to be lucky to get Andy Reid as coach next year, but this year has been awful for him; all four of their wins are by 1 or 2 points. Turned ball over three times in 71 seconds Thursday night.
9) Giants—Defending champs were 7-7 after 14 games LY and won Super Bowl. Have tough road games next two weeks (Falcons/Ravens), could have trouble holding off Cowboys/Redskins.
8) Seahawks—I’m still mystified why Tom O’Brien ran Russell Wilson off at NC State; won’t this hamper him getting hired anywhere else? How does he explain that? Seahawks better not look ahead to next week's 49er game.
7) Colts—Got squashed at Foxboro, in their first game on a really big stage; this is their second chance, against a Texan team smarting after they got hammered by the Patriots. Indy could still win the AFC South.
6) 49ers—Interesting cold weather game Sunday night in Foxboro, followed by another primetime road game, again possibly in bad weather, at Seattle, which is on Jim Harbaugh’s birthday.
5) Falcons—The least respected 11-2 team in NFL history. Beating the Giants this week would help their perception.
4) Packers—Jordy Nelson. Wes Welker. Danny Amendola. Brandon Stokley. The Hartline kid on Miami; these are guys who almost always make clutch catches to keep the chains moving, and help your field position. Its not talked about much on TV, but average starting field position is a huge stat.
3) Broncos—Denver has Stokley and Eric Decker, two of those possession guys; they also have a pretty good QB. John Fox has won eight games in a row; he’s a happy man.
2) Texans—Got beaten badly in both losses, but what does it matter? Don’t think they’ll lose a home playoff game. Jeff Van Gundy has season tickets, by the way.
1) Patriots—Hard to argue they’re not the best team right now, but do not think they’ll win AFC title. Much like last year’s 49ers, they’re relying too much on forcing turnovers.