Happy Thanksgiving Day weekend and welcome to an avalanche of games, implications and unusual predicaments.
Raise your hand if you thought Green Bay Packer stud quarterback Aaron Rodgers would enter this weekend with an unprecedented, seven, count em, seven straight road losses, dating back to last year. He'll try to rectify that when Green bay visits Minnesota this weekend. The teams played to a 29-29 tie in Week 2, with Vikings quarterback rescuing his team to a tie after a controversial late hit negated what would have been a game-losing interception.
Another big story line concerns the Eagles, coming off the worst loss ever for a defending Super Bowl champion, 48-7 from New Orleans last week. It's disheartening for them, because an overwhelming majority of Super Bowl champs at least make the playoffs the following year. Notable exceptions include the New York Giants, with a 6-9 follow-up to a championship. Tampa Bay, at 7-9 the year after its title, was not that much better.
Liberal rules against contacting quarterbacks keep making sports books raise the over-under bar. It was a league-record 64 last week when Kansas City visited the Los Angeles Rams on Monday night. Well, halfway through the third quarter, the number was toast. The teams became the first to each score 50 points in a game, as the Rams triumphed 54-51. Remember that change in the line from 2.5 to 3 and then 3.5 favoring the Rams after the game was moved from Mexico City? That mattered. So did the fact that nearly 70 percent of the public took the over. The books prefer 50-50 wagering and pocket the “vig”, your surcharge for betting. But they are often forced into “one-way action” because they don't want to service the bettors. The books often become gamblers too and in this case, they got beat.
For those who have asked, this was not the highest scoring game of all time. That belonged to the Redskins and Giants, 113 points in 1966. Washington won 72-41 and what made the game more notable was the Redskins calling timeout in the final seconds to kick a field goal. Turns out that Sam Huff, traded from the Giants to the Redskins, still had a grudge and convinced his coach to rub it in with one final score.
This week's games
How do you dig into an unappealing game? Talk to Taylor Caby, an expert for Sugar House casino in Pennsylvania. You can access the action at his property via PlaySugarHouse.com. Caby provides some interesting information on one of the strangest teams in NFL history, Tampa Bay, which plays San Francisco this week.
Tampa Bay is 8-2 against the spread vs the game total and the 49ers are 6-4 ATS vs the total.
“This is leading to an interesting situation where even though we have a backup QB (Nick Mullens ) for San Francisco and a quarterback (Jameis Winston) for Tampa Bay who was benched earlier this year for poor play, we still have the highest game total of the weekend at 55,” he indicates. “This game will surely attract a ton of interest on the over.”
He notes that Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick have the most passing yards of any QB for the first twelve weeks of the season, yet both have been benched for bad play. We pointed out the crazy statistic a couple weeks back in which Tampa Bay attained 501 scrimmage yards, and three points, an all-time NFL low.
We have also spoken about the over-rated passing yardage numbers compared to rushing. He bears that out, saying that Tampa, with 3,610 yards, has the record for passing yardage through 10 games. And where's the team? They are 3-7 after a 2-0 start. They get burned by a big play every week.
On the other extreme, Houston is the first team to go 7-3 after an 0-3 start since 1970.
This Week's Games. Over-unders in parentheses. In Caby's honor, we will use Sugar House odds.
Philadelphia -6 New York Giants (46)
Cincinnati -3.5 Cleveland (47.5)
Jacksonville -3.5 Buffalo (37.5)
New England -9 AT New York Jets (46.5)
Tampa Bay -3.6 San Francisco (54.5)
Carolina -3.5 Seattle (47)
Baltimore -10.5 Oakland (43)
LA Chargers -13 Arizona (44.5)
Indianapolis 8.5 Miami (51.5)
Pittsburgh -3 AT Denver (47)
Minnesota -3.5 Green Bay (47.5)
Tennessee at Houston, check later for lines.
Did you notice? Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson set a record for rushing attempts by a quarterback, 27, as Baltimore held off Cincinnati and broke a three-game losing streak. Twenty-seven? Coaches cringe at that, but the injury to Joe Flacco enabled his rushing to seep into the game plan. It won't be a staple, however. Think of Teddy Bridgewater, RG III and even Desean Watson, running quarterbacks who have suffered year-ending or career-ending injuries.
Bad things happen to bad teams. You noticed that the Arizona Cardinals lost to the lowly Oakland Raiders, 23-21, at home. And how about what led up to it? Arizona has a one-point lead and breaks a 57-yard touchdown play by running back David Johnson in the waning moments. Game over, and a cover, right? They were giving four. No game over, no cover and they deflated defensively, giving up a last-second score.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have not only imploded after beating the Patriots in week 2. Now they are finding excruciating ways to lose. Their 20-16 setback to Pittsburgh occurred as they blew a 16-point lead. That's the first time they've done that since 2011. A seven-year low light and against a team they beat in the post-season, just this past January, to get within one game of the Super Bowl. Big ouch for them.
Beat the Degenerates returns on radio. I host it with Scott Cronick, director of entertainment publications for the Press of Atlantic City. Listen to our next broadcast, Nov. 28, from on Newstalk 1400-AM WOND, 92.5-FM, WONDRadio.com and the Tune In app.
Last Week. A good time had by all. Dave Weinberg, Press of Atlantic City Eagles write, predicted an Eagles embarrassment in no uncertain terms in midweek. And they were beaten by 41 points. Cronick selected the Bears -2.5 and they held off the Vikings. I got a push/win with a selection of the Bengals at 3 against Baltimore. On radio, it was a push but by the time this column appeared, the line was 3.5 and later went to 4. They lost by 3.
This week: the “handicappers” took the holiday weekend off. See you next week.