Seminoles Continue to Live Dangerously

Jameis Winston threw three interceptions last night but still rallied the 'Noles past Louisvile.

During the 2013 season, the Florida State Seminoles faced very few moments of urgency. They trailed in the first half at Boston College before storming back to win and then in the national championship game they trailed Auburn by 11 points at the break. We know how that ended…

The 2014 season has seen the Seminoles in far different scenarios. Already through eight games Florida State has trailed in half of them. Last night was no exception as the ‘Noles came back from 21-0 down in the first half to defeat Louisville 42-31. This game was seen as the Seminoles’ last serious hurdle in terms of remaining unbeaten.

FSU will host Virginia next Saturday then play their final road game of the season at Miami. Home games against Boston College and Florida round out the season. Certainly anything can happen especially with those two rivalry games but the Seminoles will be favored heavily in all of their final four games.

The Cardinals just couldn't hang on to the upset over Florida State.

Great teams always find ways to win and so far in 2014 this is exactly what FSU has done. Despite all of the controversy surrounding Jameis Winston for one thing after another and then the more recent allegations against running back Karlos Williams, the Seminoles have persevered. That doesn’t mean some luck hasn’t come their way either.

Most notably was the pass interference call against Notre Dame. While I believe it was the right call, it was still a stroke of luck that it was even called in the first place. There was also the Clemson game in which Winston sat out for his stupid decision to yell obscenities in the FSU Student Union. In that game, the Tigers missed field goals which would have won them the game rather than forcing them to overtime where the Seminoles prevailed.

Last night was no different as the bounces once again went the way of Florida State. Winston threw three interceptions but on one of those he forced the interceptor to fumble the ball back to FSU. Then there was the mishandled snap near the goal line where the ball seemed to roll free for an eternity before FSU tight end ick O’Leary fell on it for a touchdown.

How long can the Seminoles keep living dangerously? My guess is that they’ll survive the final four games but the real test will be when they enter the four-team playoff where they will likely face an SEC team. There’s no question Florida State can win the national title again but the doubts are much greater than they were last year at this time. Will luck and all the bounces continue to go their way? Only time will tell at this point.

Gurley Will Return But I Have Issues With the NCAA

The fact that I have issues with the NCAA is not shocking.They are easily one of the most incompetent and over-judicious bodies I’ve ever seen. Georgia’s Todd Gurley can attest to this. I do not excuse Gurley one bit for signing collectibles and then taking money for his signature because he knew it was wrong and did it anyway. The problem I have is how easily the NCAA has just cast aside Florida State’s Jameis Winston.

The FSU signal caller has far more of his stuff than does Gurley on the website where their wares are hocked. Yet amazingly, the NCAA seems to be uninterested in this fact and takes Winston’s word that he didn’t accept money.

So let’s see; Gurley signed far less stuff and was paid. Winston has been in trouble since he set foot on the Florida State campus yet no one believes he accepted money. Actually, no one can prove he accepted money. I mean, I’m sure the Beats headphones Winston wears all over the place were purchased with money he found lying on the street right?

Saints, Panthers in a Key NFC South Showdown While the Seminoles Visit Louisville in College Football

Cam Newton needs to engineer some points if the Panthers are going to beat the Saints tonight.

Thursday night brings two very big games to us with one fro the National Football League and one from College Football. Even though both teams are under .500, tonight’s game between New Orleans and Carolina is for the lead in the NFC South.

Meanwhile, the defending national champion Florida State Seminoles invade Papa John’s Stadium to play ACC newcomer Louisville. If anyone is expecting the ‘Noles to walk out with an easy win then they need to remember the Cardinals are not exactly new to the big game scene.

New Orleans (-3) at Carolina (O/U 48.5) – I take no pride in saying the NFC South is the worst, or at least the most disappointing, division in professional football. At 3-4-1, the Panthers currently lead while the under-achieving Saints are 3-4. New Orleans appears to have gotten back on track now with a big win over Green Bay but that was in the Superdome where the Saints always play well.

This game is on the road though and if the Panthers’ defense plays as well as they did against Seattle then they’ll have a fighting chance. The problem is the inconsistency on offense. New Orleans is going to score at some point but the Panthers must score some points of their own and not put all the pressure on their defense to keep in the game.

Look for Carolina to try and establish the running game early to give Cam Newton more time to find his receivers. Saints’ defensive coordinator Rob Ryan will of course be bringing the heat so the Panthers’ offensive line has to be up to the task.

Trends: New Orleans is 3-9 against the spread in their last 12 games against Carolina… The Panthers are 4-2 straight up in their last six games at home against the Saints… The total has gone UNDER in nine of New Orleans’ last 11 games on the road against Carolina… The total has gone UNDER in 10 of the Panthers’ last 14 games at home.

Key Injuries: NO – Jimmy Graham Shoulder QUEST, CAR – DeAngelo Williams Ankle QUEST

The Pick: As bad as the Saints have been defensively, I think they are starting to put some things together. Take them to cover and the UNDER.

College Football

I think Jimbo Fisher and his Seminoles are in for a battle tonight.

Florida State (-3.5) at Louisville (O/U 50.5) – When I initially started writing this piece, the ‘Noles were favored by as many as seven points. I’m not sure what is causing the rapid drop other than the issues with running back Karlos Williams but I’m not sure even that has the power to move the line like this.

Either way, I expect FSU to struggle with the Cards. Louisville is no stranger to big games and Bobby Petrino isn’t either. The Cards most recent of their two losses was 23-17 at Clemson. The Seminoles needed overtime at home to defeat Clemson by the same exact score albeit was without Jameis Winston.

Cards’ QB Will Gardner has a completion percentage under 55% but has thrown for 11 touchdowns versus just two interceptions. If takes care of the ball Louisville will be right there in the end.

Trends: The Seminoles are 1-7 against the spread in their last eight games… The Cardinals are unbeaten in their last five games at home… The total has gone OVER in seven of FSU’s last eight games on the road… The total has gone UNDER in five of Louisville’s last seven games at home.

Key Injuries: FSU C Austin Barron, Out-Arm

The Pick: I suspect the Seminoles will have some “Notre Dame hangover” but I think they score late to cover. Take the UNDER as well.

Introducing My NFL Mid-Term Awards

Despite the fumbles, DeMarco Murray is my mid-season choice for NFL MVP.

Believe it or not the National Football League is entering week nine which means we are at the half-way point of the 2014 season. I couldn’t live with myself (OK I probably could) if I didn’t give you my thoughts on who is headed for the podium to receive awards. I’m also going to give you some awards that might not necessarily appear in most publications.

NFL Most Valuable Player

DeMarco Murray. The easy answer here is always Peyton Manning and he is having an MVP-worthy season and will probably win it but I’m going with Murray. Behind a much-improved offensive line, Murray has been absolutely dominant in leading the Cowboys to a 6-2 record. Others: Philip Rivers, J.J. Watt, Ben Roethlisberger

NFL Offensive Player of the Year

Manning. With all due to respect to Murray who could eclipse 2,000 yards rushing, my gut feeling is that Manning’s numbers will be hard to ignore. The fact that he’s 38 years old doesn’t hurt his chances either. Others: Rivers,Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell,

NFL Defensive Player of the Year

J.J. Watt. The only reason I’m even mentioning this is because there is still half the season to go but to this point Watt is the front-runner by miles. Others: Von Miller, Justin Houston

NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year

Odell Beckham, Jr. Yup, I know… He’s hardly played this season but now that he’s healthy he’s been tearing it up and I believe he will continue to do so. Others: Kelvin Benjamin, Sammy Watkins

Anthony Barr is quietly putting together a great rookie year in Minnesota.

NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year

Anthony Barr. This could go to one of several guys but considering that Barr is basically the only true pass rushing threat the Vikings have that’s pretty damn good for a rookie. Others: C.J. Mosely, Ryan Shazier

NFL Coach of the Year

Bruce Arians. What more can we say about Arians? After “retiring” from the Steelers, he was the offensive coordinator that led rookie Andrew Luck into the playoffs then led the Cardinals to a 10-6 record last year. Now his Cards are 6-1 and he’s seen his team win with a banged up Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton at QB. Others: Jason Garrett, Jim Caldwell

Surprise Team of the Year

Detroit Lions. At 6-2, the Lions have gotten here despite injuries to Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush. They’ve also pulled rabbits out of their hats in the last two weeks with crazy comebacks. Either way, wins are wins. Others: Cleveland Browns, San Diego Chargers

Coach on the Hottest Seat

Mike Smith, Falcons. There are worse records out there but Smith’s Falcons have been brutal over the last season and a half and Sunday’s loss in London was the clincher. Others: Rex Ryan, Joe Philbin

Most Irritating Owner

Jerry Jones, Cowboys. Jones is a media whore and the networks like ESPN just follow his every move like a lost puppy. Others: Jim Irsay

Luckiest Man in the NFL

Dennis Allen. The former Raiders’ head coach was the first casualty of the season and he couldn’t have been luckier to get out of there.

Best Celebration Award

Randall Cobb, Packers. Cobb’s recent “Lambeau Leap” wasn’t all that unusual until someone’s hot dog got ketchup all over his jersey. So red was it that the trainer had to make sure it wasn’t blood. Others: Jeremy Hill’s “Ickey Shuffle”

Most Disappointing Division

NFC South. 3-4-1 leads this division right now. ‘Nuff said.

Worst Uniforms

Steelers Throwbacks. Flight of the Bumblebees is more like it.







Here’s Your Early Look at NFL Lines for Week Nine

A healthy Jimmy Graham would be a welcome sight for Saints' fans.

Tuesday means I’m giving you an early look at the National Football League schedule and who is favored and who is not. Here’s you’re sneak peek.

New Orleans (-1) at Carolina – The Saints got a much-needed win over Green Bay and now can take over first place with a win over the Panthers. Were the Saints in any other division, they may have been left for dead, but not this one.

San Diego (+2.5) at Miami – Very interesting game here with the Chargers getting ten days to prepare for a Dolphins’ team that has struggled offensively but is playing very well defensively. This is a monster game for both teams in terms of their respective divisions.

Jacksonville (+11.5) at Cincinnati – The Bengals appear to have righted their listing ship with a tight win over Baltimore on Sunday. They had gone 0-2-1 in their previous three games. Jacksonville got that all important first win over Cleveland but then was just awful in losing to Miami. A.J. Green may return for the Bengals as well even though I don’t think they’ll need him.

Tampa Bay (+6) at Cleveland – I think the Browns got a significant wake-up call after they beat rival Pittsburgh and then lost to Jacksonville. They got past the Raiders Sunday and now entertain the Buccaneers who are about as bad as it gets right now.

Washington (+2.5) at Minnesota – Depending on what happened last night in Dallas, we could see Robert Griffin III return, Kirk Cousins get another shot or maybe Colt McCoy again. The biggest thing about this game however might be the protests going on outside regarding the Redskins’ nickname.

Nick Foles and the Eagles look to bounce back in Houston.

Philadelphia (-2.5) at Houston – The Eagles hit the road again following a tough loss at Arizona on Sunday. The Texans will not be an easy challenge as they typically play well at home. If the Eagles can put the clamps on Arian Foster then they should win going away.

NY Jets (+9.5) at Kansas City – Rex Ryan wasted no time in announcing that Michael Vick would get the start against the Chiefs following Geno Smith’s brutal performance against Buffalo. Ryan is as close to a dead man walking as anyone could be right now so he needs to get something going immediately or he’s gone before the season ends.

Arizona (+4) at Dallas – The Cowboys played last night and barring an enormous injury things should be set up for the game of the week with the 6-1 Cardinals. The formula will be simple for Dallas; run the ball and limit the Cards’ offense. This should be a great game.

St. Louis (+9.5) at San Francisco – The Rams looked to be on the right track when they beat the Seahawks but then they played poorly in losing to Kansas City. Now they head to San Francisco where the 49ers are getting healthy and seem to be putting any issues with Head Coach Jim Harbaugh behind them.

Denver (-3) at New England – Stop me if you’ve heard this but Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are meeting once again an the media will do everything to not fall all over themselves. Actually this should be a great match-up where both QBs will need to find the mismatches at the line of scrimmage. Hard to believe the Pats are underdogs at home where Brady rarely loses.

Oakland (+15) at Seattle – I expected a bit more from the Tony Sparano-led Raiders but the talent just isn’t there. While I think the Seahawks still have some issues, they should roll over Oakland.

Baltimore (+1.5) at Pittsburgh – The Ravens beat the Steelers in week two and have a 2-2 divisional record. Pittsburgh is 1-2 in the division and still has two games remaining with Cincinnati. These two almost always play games to within a field goal and I expect this to be no different.

Indianapolis (-3) at NY Giants – The Colts look to rebound from their 51-34 loss to Pittsburgh while the Giants come off the bye week. You can pretty much pencil in a 300-yard passing game for Andrew Luck who seemingly does it every week, but now the Colts’ defense appears to be a weakness. Can the G-Men take advantage at home?

Things Get Worse at Michigan; Where Do We Stand for the College Football Playoffs

Brady Hoke has lost control in Ann Arbor and just needs to go.

It’s pretty common knowledge that Michigan’s Brady Hoke is no longer on the ‘hot seat.’ It’s not that Hoke isn’t in serious trouble it’s that there is no seat under him to even be hot anymore. The latest nail in his maize ‘n blue coffin wasn’t even so much that blowout loss to Michigan State. It was his team’s behavior before the game and his reaction afterwords.

After taking the field in the annual ‘Backyard Brawl,” the Wolverines apparently drove a spike into the center of the Spartan at mid-field. Now before “Sparty” fan gets all high and mighty let’s not forget that it wasn’t too long ago that the Spartans stuck their flag in the center of Notre Dame Stadium following an upset of the Irish. Be that as it may, the actions by the Wolverines were tasteless and reeked of a team desperate for anything.

If you talk to Michigan alumni, they’ll tell you that’s the type of stuff that lesser programs used to do. Teams that needed to make their mark or gain attention through any means necessary. This was certainly not something Michigan did or would ever do but there it was and what made matters worse were Hoke’s comments afterwards.

The soon-to-be-fired Hoke claimed to know little if anything about what his team had done. Let’s consider just how dumb and how bad this looks on its’ own merits but then consider how badly it looks just weeks after Hoke claimed he didn’t realize his quarterback was nearly out cold.

Remember the Wolverines’ loss to Minnesota when Hoke started Shane Morris at quarterback? Morris was decked late in the game and while he tried to motion to the sidelines that he was ‘OK,’ he clearly was not as he stumbled and needed help getting to the sideline. Morris was later declared to have suffered a concussion and for Hoke and Athletic Director Dave Brandon it was a week of public discourse not seen in Ann Arbor perhaps in forever.

Brandon isn’t exactly off the hook either as he faces a huge push from the student body as well as the alumni to resign. My guess is that he will unload Hoke before anyone can unload him in a desperate chance to save his own job. Either way, but Hoke has demonstrated he really doesn’t have his fingers on the pulse of this team and that’s not good for anyone wearing the maize ‘n blue.

Don't sleep on Bo Pelini's Huskers who are flying under the radar right now.

Race to the Final Four

With Ole Miss’ loss in Baton Rouge, the college football playoff picture got a little more clear. Or did it? Auburn won at home but struggled with a very average South Carolina team. Mississippi State struggled at Kentucky while teams like Michigan State and Kansas State posted solid wins.

There is any number of one-loss teams right now waiting to pounce if one of the remaining unbeatens goes down. Two interesting two-loss teams to keep an eye on though as West Virginia and LSU. If things get really crazy, don’t count either of these teams out if they run the table because of the teams they will have beaten.

One other team to pay attention to is Nebraska. After hosting Purdue this week, they play at Wisconsin, host Minnesota and finish at Iowa. If the Cornhuskers run the table and presumably play a one-loss Michigan State or Ohio State in the Big Ten Title Game and they win, that becomes a one-loss team that cannot be ignored by the selection committee.

Really Good Match-Ups in Your NFL Late Games

LeSean McCoy and the Eagles invade Arizona for a battle of 5-1 teams.

As is usually the case, the National Football League offers us some great games in the late time slots so let’s get to them.

Philadelphia (+3) at Arizona (O/U 48.5) – There are several god games on the Sunday schedule but I’m hard-pressed to find a better match-up than this one. Both teams are 5-1 but the Cards lead their division while the Eagles find themselves behind the surging Cowboys who are 6-1.

The match-up to watch is when the Eagles are on offense against the Cardinals’ defense. The secondary for Arizona is among the best in the league and they’ll depend on the front seven to limit LeSean McCoy and get pressure on Nick Foles.

Key Injuries: PHI Darren Sproles Quest-knee, ARI Calais Campbell, Quest-knee

Trends: Philadelphia is 6-2 straight up in their last eight games on the road… Arizona is 7-1 SU in their last eight games at home… The total has gone OVER in seven of the Eagles’ last 10 games when playing in Arizona… The Cardinals are 4-1-1 against the spread in their last six games against Philly.

The Pick: I like Philly getting the points and the OVER.

Andrew Luck has been red-hot and now plays a vulnerable Steelers' defense.

Indianapolis (-3.5) at Pittsburgh (O/U 49) – The Colts enter this game as hot as any team in the league. They shut out Cincinnati last week and have beaten AFC North leader Baltimore as well. Andrew Luck has put himself in the MVP conversation with spectacular play.

The Steelers have been inconsistent all season winning every other game on the schedule to stand at 4-3. They won Monday night over Houston with a three-minute barrage that ended with 24-straight points. Outside of that, they didn’t play particularly well.

Key Injuries: IND Reggie Wayne OUT Elbow, PIT Marcus Gilbert Doubt Concussion

Trends: Indianapolis is 3-6 against the spread when playing on the road in Pittsburgh… The Steelers are 11-2 in their last 13 games against the Colts… The total has gone OVER in five of the Colts’ last seven games when playing in Pittsburgh… The Steelers are 7-3 straight up in their last 10 games.

The Pick: The Steelers tend to play to the level of their competition so I expect a good game but take the Colts to cover and I like the OVER.

Green Bay (+1) at New Orleans (O/U 56) – Remember when Packers’ Quarterback Aaron Rodgers told the fans to “R-E-L-A-X?” He was mocked by some for that but all he and the Packers have done since then is win. Winning has been important with good play of Detroit who is atop the division with them. Rodgers has been spectacular in the last few weeks and now he gets to go up against a Saints’ defense that has been abysmal through the first six games.

Last week, New Orleans blew a 13-point lead in the final four minutes to the Lions. Part of that was the defense and part of that was the offense. Drew Brees will be happy to be at home as the Saints have spent most of the early part of the season on the road.

Key Injuries: GB Sam Shields Doubtful Knee, NO Jimmy Graham Quest shoulder

Trends: The total has gone OVER in six of Green Bay’s last seven games… New Orleans is 8-1-1 against the spread in their last ten games at home… The Packers are 6-3 straight up in their last nine games against the Saints… The total has gone OVER in five of New Orleans’ last five games against Green Bay.

The Pick: Take the Packers because the Saints just haven’t proven anything to me yet and take the OVER.

Bonus Pick: Oakland (+6.5) at Cleveland (O/U 43.5)  Take the Browns to cover and the UNDER

College and Pro Football are on the Docket as Well as the World Series

CFB Trophy
CFB Trophy
The committee that decides who plays for this trophy unveils their first final four this week.

Saturday brings me to the blog and to the fact that I can’t believe we have less one week until we hit November. Didn’t college football just kick off? Do you believe the first week of the season was actually in August? I was always told that time goes faster the older we get but I didn’t exactly expect a supersonic jet ride.

Today I’m catching my breath with thoughts on college and pro football as well as the Fall Classic which may actually end before November gets here believe it or not.

College Football

This Tuesday the 13-person college football playoff committee meets and reveals their top four teams. The committee is now actually down to 12 as Archie Manning had to step aside due to health issues. I for one am about as excited for this as I am a root canal but it creates talking points though doesn’t it?

Let’s be real here; there is still a lot that can happen and perhaps some of that chaos will continue today with Ole Miss and Mississippi State both on the road in the SEC. One of the top people I lean on for college football insight is Stewart Mandel who now writes for Fox Sports after years with Sports Illustrated.

Mandel argued this week that it’s very possible that two of the five major power conferences will get shut out in the ‘final four’ and he isn’t wrong. But I question the politics that will be involved by the committee. Mandel believes the Big Ten and Pac-12 will be on the outside looking in even with a potential one-loss Ohio State or Michigan State or even Oregon.

No one argues the SEC and more specifically the SEC West is the most dominant conference in football but there are two questions that come from this. First is whether or not the teams will knock each other off so badly that no one is left with less than two losses and secondly will there be ‘SEC overkill’ in the eyes of the committee.

Remember, good match-ups are great for the fans but they are even more important for the television networks. How would a final four of Ole Miss, Mississippi State, TCU and Florida State look versus let’s say a final four of Florida State, Notre Dame, Alabama and Auburn?

Don’t ever dismiss the politics in collegiate athletics my friends.

Ned Yost has leaned heavily on his bullpen and rightfully so.

The World Series

The Kansas City Royals took a 2-1 lead last night in the World Series with a 3-2 win over the Giants in San Francisco last night. For the second straight game the Royals’ bullpen shut down the Giants which has become a trend throughout the season and now into the playoffs. It’s a very common theme where the Royals get a lead and take that lead into the sixth inning.

In effect, Manager Ned Yost has shortened official nine-inning games to essentially games that are just six or seven innings. This isn’t new; the Yankees did it during the great run of five World Series titles when the bullpen would take over and then hand the ball to John Wetteland and then Mariano Rivera. If the Giants are going to stay in this series they must get out early or this thing will be over in five.

Pro Football

Remember my preseason picks? Ya, that selection of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a wild-card team isn’t looking so good now is it? The Bucs have been competitive in most of their games but for the most part it has been nothing like I thought it would under new coach Lovie Smith.


Another Great Saturday Slate for You to Consider

Kiffin Saban
Kiffin Saban
The combination of Lane Kiffin and Nick Saban is an odd one and their next challenge is in Knoxville.

Alabama (-17.5) at Tennessee (O/U 46.5) – It’s pretty much a shame that the focus of tomorrow’s game is less about the players and more about Lane Kiffin’s return to Knoxville. Kiffin is now the offensive coordinator at Alabama and was the coach at Tennessee for just one year 2009. His tenure was marked by stupid comments and a quick split out of town for USC.

The Vols have improved under Butch Jones but this program is still a few years away from truly competing at a high level. I expect the team to have its’ moments tomorrow but these guys are significantly over-matched by an Alabama team fresh off a 59-0 destruction of Texas A&M.

Trends: Alabama is 2-7 against the spread in their last nine games… The Vols are 0-5 against the spread in their last five games at home against Bama… The Crimson Tide are 18-2 straight up in their last 20 road games… The total has gone UNDER in five of Tennessee’s last seven games against Alabama in Neyland Stadium.

The Pick: Take the Tide to cover and the OVER.

The Paul Bunyan Trophy is what Michigan and Michigan State will battle for tomorrow.

Michigan (+17.5) at Michigan State (O/U 49.5) – The Backyard Brawl in recent years has been more like the “Spartan Beat Down” as Michigan State has dominated the series winning five of the last six. Brady Hoke is no longer on the hot seat in Ann Arbor, he’s a dead man walking and sure to be replaced this winter.

Things couldn’t be better in East Lansing where Mark Dantonio has built the Spartans into a national powerhouse behind toughness, discipline and difference-making players. Last year, the Spartans sacked Devin Gardner eight times in pounding the Wolverines 29-6.

The only way Michigan keeps this close is with their defense which has been pretty decent but I don’t think they are good enough to completely stop the Spartans which they would need to do to win.

Trends: Michigan is 8-16-1 against the spread in their last 25 games on the road… The total has gone OVER is eight of MSU’s last nine games… The Wolverines are 1-6 straight up in their last seven road games… The Spartans have won five straight since losing to Oregon.

The Pick: This one is over early. Take Sparty to cover and take the OVER.

Ole Miss (-4) at LSU (O/U 44.5) – LSU is 35-2 at home since 2009 and despite this being one of Les Miles’ weaker teams, this can’t be overlooked. At stake for the Rebels is obviously their unbeaten season. The thought of both Ole Miss and Mississippi State (who already beat the Tigers in Baton Rouge) being unbeaten when they play their season finales against each other is enough to boil over the Magnolia State.

The problem that LSU is facing is that the Ole Miss defense is darn good and the Tigers’ offense is struggling to find a QB and consistency. In order for LSU to pull off the upset, the Tigers’ defense will need a colossal effort to limit Bo Wallace and the Rebels’ offense.

Trends: Ole Miss is 1-5 straight up in its’ last six games when playing LSU in Death Valley… The Tigers are 0-5 against the spread in their last five games at home against the Rebels… The total has gone OVER in four of Ole Miss’ last five games when playing the Tigers… The total has gone UNDER in four of LSU’s last six games at home.

The Pick: Every time I count out Les Miles, he burns me. Take the Tigers at home and getting the points and take the UNDER as well.

Other Games of Note:

South Carolina (17) at Auburn (O/U 64.5) – Auburn covers, take the OVER

Mississippi State (-14) at Kentucky (O/U 59) – Take UK and the points, UNDER

Oregon State (+13) at Stanford (O/U 42) – Take the Beavers and the points, UNDER

An Apology and Another Idea About Money in the NFL

Vaught-Hemingway Stadium
Vaught-Hemingway Stadium
Could the NFL play a regular season "neutral site" game in a place like Ole Miss?

There are times when I find myself so enamored with getting you some good betting information that I make a mistake or two. Usually it’s a missed bit of punctuation or a double up on a word in my haste to get the information to you. Yesterday however I committed a pretty egregious error that I’m a bit embarrassed about for a couple of reasons.

First I gave you everything you needed to know about the Arkansas State at Louisiana-Lafayette game. The only problem is that the game isn’t being played tonight. It was played Tuesday night. I completely read the date incorrectly. Worse yet was I thought for sure the Red Wolves would win in Lafayette but nope. The Rajun Cajuns prevailed 55-40. Please accept my apologies…

On to the topic of the day.

I read with great interest an article at Peter King’s MMQB website about the potential for expansion to Europe that quickly turned to a discussion about the length of the regular season. Jenny Vrentas wrote about getting the idea for this regular season change from a reader who commented on an article of hers about NFL expansion to London.

The reader suggested a regular season of 19 weeks with a 17-game schedule. Each team in the league would have eight home games, eight away games and one neutral site game. Obviously with 17 games in 19 weeks, there would be two bey weeks for each team. On the surface, it looks like a good idea but it has flaws and lacks originality.

Cowboys Texans
Where would the Cowboys and Texans play each year for a neutral site and would it even make sense?

First of all, the idea of two bye weeks has already been done. In 1993, all NFL teams had two bye weeks. The regular season at the time was 16 games and that’s the way it remained. On this particular issue therefore, it isn’t exactly revolutionary.

One of the major flaws of the proposal is how do we determine who plays who at neutral site games? Right now, NFL schedules are based upon a rotation between divisions across the conferences, one division within the conference, two games against division opponents and then two in-conference games based upon order of finish the previous year.

So for example, the Pittsburgh Steelers are playing the NFC South this year (four games), the AFC South (four games), in-division opponents (six games) and then Kansas City from the West and the New York Jets from the East. That adds up to 16 games. Now let’s say we add a 17th game. How do we determine who that neutral site game is against and where shall it be?

Would it be fair for the Steelers to play the Eagles perhaps? What if they are the defending NFC Champs and the Steelers are coming off of a 3-13 season? Plus, where would you play that would be “neutral?”

Many in the NFL would like to see regional rivalries like the one I mentioned played every year. Dallas vs Houston, San Francisco vs Oakland, the Jets vs the Giants and so but how do you balance the schedule to make it as fair as it is now? Also, what do you do with a team like Atlanta? Who would there regional rival be or Buffalo for that matter?

The overriding problem with any such addition to the current schedule flies in the face of everything that the NFL currently stand for which is “player safety.” Playoff expansion, regular season expansion, blah, blah, blah. If they would just admit these ideas are about money above all else I’d at least have a little respect for their honesty.

Broncos Host the Chargers Tomorrow Night in a Key AFC West Showdown

Peyton Manning looks to do this several times Thursday night against the Chargers.

Thursday night offers us just two games on the gridiron with one being in the college game while the other is serious AFC West showdown between the Broncos and Chargers.

San Diego (O/U 51) at Denver (-7.5) – It’s hard to say that the San Diego Chargers were looking ahead to this game when they lost to the Chiefs at home on a field goal. Kansas City is a division rival and arguably was just as important as the game tomorrow night in Denver. Still, the Chargers dropped a game they probably shouldn’t have and now find themselves needing a win in Denver a little more than they did a week ago.

Can Philip Rivers out-duel Peyton Manning Thursday night?

In the Rocky Mountain State, all eyes have been on Peyton Manning who broke Brett Favre’s record for passing touchdowns in a career. As good as Manning has been in recent weeks, the Broncos’ defense has been pretty darn good as well. They limited the San Francisco 49ers and QB Colin Kaepernick to just 17 points which is pretty impressive.

Since November of 2011, the Broncos have beaten San Diego five of the last six times they’ve met including last season in the playoffs. The Bolts always seem to play the Broncos tough home or away so I expect that trend to continue. Denver will look to make life miserable for Philip Rivers while the Chargers will need to limit the big plays from Manning and company as well.

Trends: The Chargers are 4-2 straight up in their last six games playing on the road in Denver… The total has gone UNDER in four of Denver’s last six games against the Chargers… The total has gone UNDER in six of San Diego’s last nine games… The Broncos are 1-7-3 against the spread in their last 11 games against the Chargers at home in the Mile High City.

The Pick: I think we are in for a good game tomorrow night and although I like Denver to win, take the Chargers getting the 7.5 and I like the UNDER too.

College Football Thursday Night

Arkansas State (-3.5) at Louisiana-Lafayette (O/U 58) – This is a very interesting match-up that could go a long way towards deciding the Sun Belt Conference champion. Right now, the Red Wolves are 4-2 overall and 2-0 in conference play.

The Rajun Cajuns are 3-3 overall but they are also 2-0 in the conference. Both teams trail leader Georgia Southern who currently stands at 4-0 in the Sun Belt Conference. Neither team has Georgia Southern on the schedule this year.

Trailing both of them in the standings however is South Alabama who stands at 3-1. They have to travel to Arkansas State and Louisiana-Lafayette in back-to-back weeks starting November first.

What this all means is that the Sun Belt should start shaking itself out in the next couple of week.

Lafayette is one of the rare hidden gems in college football tailgating and the home-field provides quite a spark for the Cajuns. In their last four games against each other, they’ve split the series 2-2 with each posting a win at the other’s field.

Trends: The total has gone UNDER in four of Arkansas State’s last six games at ULL… The Red Wolves are 1-5 against the spread in their last six games against the Rajun Cajuns… Louisiana-Lafayette is 7-1 straight up in their last eight games when playing ASU at home… The total has gone UNDER in six of Arkansas State’s last seven games.

The Pick: Almost everything favors the Red Wolves tomorrow night and I’m not going to pass on that. Take them to cover and take the UNDER.