Thursday means the start of Week 11 in the NFL and some premier matchups on NBA on TNT. It also means that we are a day closer to the weekend, which we are all excited about. It’s a short work week next week for most people with the Thanksgiving holiday and it’s getting to that busy time of year prepping for Christmas or year-end evaluations or whatever else. It’s hard to keep up with everything that’s going on, but that’s why BangTheBook is here to help you.

Make sure you tune into today’s edition of BangTheBook Radio, as we’ll cover a lot of topics, a lot of sports, and you’ll be treated to a lot of great insight.

Week 11 Begins

Interest seems rather low in the game between the Tennessee Titans and the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday night. It will draw betting interest and ratings because every NFL game does, but neither one of these teams have much in the way of postseason prospects. The Titans are well on their way to another high pick in the NFL Draft. The Jaguars, with a win at home, will tie Indianapolis and Houston in the win column in the pathetic AFC South. Based on that, maybe Jacksonville has a better shot at the playoffs than it seems.

The Jags are a standard-issue short favorite at home on this short week with travel for the Titans. Tennessee is 2-0 against the NFC and 0-5 against the AFC, which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Neither does the fact that the Titans are 2-2 on the road and 0-5 at home. Interim head coach Mike Mularkey could have a tough time getting his guys prepared on the short week, which is something that Adam Burke and Cole Ryan discussed on Tuesday’s edition of BangTheBook Radio.

Other NFL News and Notes

Condolences go out to Doug Flutie and his family after both of his parents died within an hour of each other. Flutie’s father, Dick, died of a heart attack. His mother, Joan, also had a heart attack and died within the hour. The couple, married 56 years according to Flutie’s Facebook post, apparently couldn’t bear to live without each other. It’s sad and tragic, yet somehow incredibly sweet. Thoughts and well wishes to the Flutie family.

Sam Bradford reportedly has a separated shoulder. The Eagles’ signal caller was going to be sidelined due to a concussion and a sprained AC joint, though it seems that the AC joint may have been sprained due to the separation. It is Bradford’s non-throwing shoulder, so his season probably wouldn’t be over, but it is a big blow to the Eagles. Mark Sanchez moved the offense, but threw a killer turnover late in the fourth quarter against Miami last week.

Pressure is already on Tony Romo, who returns this week for the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys are 2.5 games back in the NFC East, as they are chasing the New York Giants, who enter this week at 5-5. The Cowboys have been one of the league’s worst offensive teams this season. Romo’s return should help in a big way, but Dallas has a huge hole to climb out of. The silver lining is that 9-7 may win the division.

McHale Firing Sort Of Sparks Rockets

The Rockets came out incredibly flat in the first half of their game against the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night. They found a way to win in overtime, but it was a pretty sad performance at the outset. Corey Brewer’s 30-foot heave tied the game and sent it to extra time and the Rockets won by 5.

Kevin McHale was fired early Wednesday, as he became the scapegoat for the team’s 4-7 start. Assistant coach JB Bickerstaff took over on an interim basis, but he will be given a long leash after McHale prematurely got a contract extension last season. Adam Mares will be on BangTheBook Radio on Thursday to talk about the situation in Houston and more.

Cy Young Award Winners

Jake Arrieta and Dallas Keuchel were named the top pitchers in their respective leagues on Wednesday. Arrieta was the third award winner for the Chicago Cubs. Kris Bryant won the rookie of the year earlier this week and Joe Maddon was named manager of the year. Arrieta was not allowed to throw a cutter in the Baltimore Orioles organization and that pitch, along with the refinement of his other offerings, has really elevated his career in a big way.

It was a very competitive vote in the NL, as any of Arrieta, Zack Greinke, or Clayton Kershaw could have won the award. Arrieta’s historic second half was likely what pushed him over the top.

Keuchel beat out free agent David Price in the American League. The Houston Astros made the playoffs and Keuchel was arguably the biggest reason why. He led all AL pitchers in WAR, as well as innings pitched, and took a big step forward from a strikeout standpoint. Keuchel was the second award winner for the Astros. Carlos Correa won the rookie of the year earlier this week. The Astros narrowly missed the “Cubs trifecta” because AJ Hinch finished second to Jeff Bannister in manager of the year voting.

NHL News and Notes

Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta, who has had absolutely no luck on the medical front since he joined the NHL, was injured when he was hit by Nino Niederreiter into the open door on the Minnesota Wild bench. Initial fears were much greater than the actual diagnosis, which will keep Maatta out of action until around Christmas.

The NHL will change its All-Star Game format. The event will now be a 3-on-3 tournament. There will be three separate 20-minute periods that will mirror the new 3-on-3 overtime. Each team will have six forwards, three defensemen, and two goalies. It will be a highlight reel event with players from each division teaming up.

In NHL action last night, the Washington Capitals picked up a 2-1 overtime win over the Detroit Red Wings. The Chicago Blackhawks also won in overtime by a 4-3 score over the Edmonton Oilers. The Winnipeg Jets took home a 4-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks. A much bigger card is on tap for Thursday night.

BERT On The Prowl

Bret Bielema, whose Arkansas Razorbacks lost to Toledo earlier this season, wants a Big Ten/SEC football challenge. College basketball has these conference challenge series, like the ACC vs. the Big Ten and the SEC vs. the Big 12. Bielema wants to bring that concept to the non-conference slate in college football.

Strength of schedule has certainly become a buzz phrase in the College Football Playoff era and this is the week when SEC teams play FCS or small conference cupcakes prior to next week’s regular season finale. Alabama plays Charleston Southern, South Carolina plays The Citadel. Georgia Southern, who knocked off Florida a couple of years ago, will play Georgia. Florida plays Florida Atlantic.

Other SEC coaches had mixed reactions to Bielema’s pitch. One thing that would be a concern to NCAA is that these FCS teams rely on getting curbstomped by FBS programs in order to put some money into athletic programs. We always hear the money amounts brought up in games where FCS or lower-tier Division I FBS programs visit these big money schools. There would have to be some kind of contingency plan to help out these programs.

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