Sunday, September 15, 2013



Hello Football Fans,

I focused on the first week of pro games this week.

Will try to balance between NFL and college in the next few weeks.

Big revenge game this week is Alabama at Texas A&M.


The Fugitive Commissioner of the FFHL

(Ed. Note – This column also includes sports & bet terms definitions, all after the junp)


Some of my new readers are struggling with the shortcuts I use.  So before we jump into an exciting first week in the NFL, following is a legend for a few of my abbreviations:

“+3h” means a team is the underdog by 3½ points and gets that number of points added to their final score to see which team wins “ATS” (against the spread).
On the other side, the favorite in this game would be designated “-3h”, a 3½ point favorite and would have to win the game by at least 4 points to cover ATS [the spread].

“SU”=straight up, relates to the score of a game ignoring the point spread.  If a team wins the game, that team won straight up (or you could say “won outright”) and the losing team lost straight up.

Player positions:
QB=quarterback, RB=running back, WR=wide receiver, TE=tight end, OL=offensive lineman, OLT=offensive left tackle, ORT=offensive right tackle, OG=offensive guard, OC=offensive center, KR=kick returner, PR=punt returner, PK or K=place/field goal kicker, P=punter, DL=defensive lineman, NT=nose tackle, DE=defensive end, DT=defensive tackle, LB=linebacker, OLB=outside linebacker, MLB=middle linebacker, ILB=inside linebacker, DB=defensive back, CB=cornerback, S=safety, SS=strong safety, FS=free safety

FG=field goal
HC=head coach  OC=offensive coordinator  DC=defensive coordinator

NFL teams: I use either two or three letters to abbreviate these 32 teams.
Examples: NOR=New Orleans, WSH=Washington, TB=Tampa Bay, JAX=Jacksonville.

College Teams: There are 125 FBS schools, so “OSU” does not work, as it could be Oregon State, Ohio State, Oklahoma State.  Thus, I usually use postal abbreviations for the state: OR.St, OH.St, OK.St, respectively, unless it is clear from the context of the paragraph.
USC=Southern California, and S.CAR=South Carolina

Hope that is helpful; let’s move on to the results of games.


For the 16 NFL games in the first week, 13 games had a point spread of less than 7 points.  And the experts did pretty well at predicting the outcomes, as the actual outcomes in 12 of the 16 games were within 7 points (amazing).  Only Denver 49-27, Kansas City 28-2, Miami 23-10, and Detroit 34-24 won by more than a TD & extra point.

And, FOUR games were decided by a FG with less than one minute remaining on the clock, with three of them decided with 5 seconds or less to go. (Winners were NE at 0:05, NYJ at 0:02, STL at 0:40, and HOU at 0:00);

In an oddity for any week, three games started with a score of 2-0.
Tennessee botched its opening kickoff, giving host Pittsburgh a 2-0 lead.  The Steelers wouldn’t get another point until 1½ minutes left in the game.
KC had their first punt of the game blocked out of the end zone for a safety, only 2½ minutes into the game, giving two points to host Jacksonville.  It was the Jags only scoring for the game.
Tampa Bay QB Josh Freeman fumbled the ball out of the end zone for a safety, giving the NY Jets a 2-0 lead midway through the first quarter.

To kick off the 2013 season on Thursday night, host Denver (-7h) beat defending champ Baltimore handily, 49-27.  But the Ravens kicked a FG with about 6 minutes remaining in the game to only trail by 15.  If they had stopped the Broncos on the next possession and subsequently scored a TD and 2-point conversion, they would have been covering ATS (trailing only by 7).  It seems almost every game comes down to the wire ATS.  The reality for this game, however, was that Baltimore could not catch up because their defense couldn’t stop Manning and the Denver offense.


In pro games this week, only 4 underdogs won their games outright out of 16 games, or 25.0%.

Tennessee +6h won at Pittsburgh, 16-9, and it wasn’t even that close, as the Steelers scored a TD with 1½ minutes remaining in the game to make the score look respectable.
Pittsburgh lost two starters and a 3rd-down back for the year – OC Maurkice Pouncey (ACL/MCL; Pro Bowler), defensive signal-caller ILB Larry Foote (torn biceps) and RB LaRod Stephens-Howling (ACL).  And their kicker is injured and out for a few weeks as well.  PIT signed PK Shayne Graham to fill in; he has now played for 14 different NFL teams, including all four teams in the AFC North.

Miami +1 won at Cleveland, 23-10.  The Dolphins were outgained from scrimmage 275-291, but took advantage with three interceptions of Browns’ QB Brandon Weeden.


The New York J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets (+3h) were the underdog at home vs. Tampa Bay, having been chastised throughout the preseason.  The Jets did not look that great, but kicked a FG with 5:05 remaining in the game to take the lead 15-14.  However, the TB Bucs retaliated with their own FG to retake the lead, 17-15, with only 0:34 on the clock.  Rookie QB Geno Smith and the Jets really didn’t have enough time to get into FG position, but Tampa LB Lavonte David committed the sinful personal foul penalty as Geno was running out of bounds to stop the clock with about 7 seconds left (and the Jets with no time outs).  The penalty gave NYJ another 15 yards and put them in FG range, and the 48-yard kick was good as the clock ran down to 0:02.  FINAL: NYJ 18, TB 17.

Geno Smith had not yet stepped out of bounds when he was shoved (i.e., he was still in bounds when the hit was applied).  Did the officials blow the call?  According to the NFL league office, NO!  If a guy is running out of bounds, any forceful pushing or shoving will be viewed as unnecessary roughness.  The player in that situation is giving himself up (similar to the “slide”).  If Smith had been running along the sidelines, he would have been fair game.  But he was clearly running out of bounds.  Whatever, it was questionable to me.

On Monday night, Philadelphia (+3h) unveiled its “hurry-up” offense and exploded to a huge 33-7 lead over the ‘Skins in Washington.  And it was an impressive display by the Eagles, even with QB Michael Vick not being all that accurate of a passer.  But the ‘Skins fought back, finally scored a TD at the end of the 3rd quarter, scored two more TD’s in the final stanza and ended up losing only 33-27, barely missing out on recovering an onside kick with 1 minute remaining in the game.
Eagles’ RB LeSean McCoy ran 31 times for 184 yards from scrimmage, and not only did he look tired, but the Philly offensive line and the whole ‘Skins defense looked exhausted, as the Eagles were running plays about every 20 seconds for three quarters.  It was definitely entertaining.

Also on Monday night (and into Tuesday morning, Central Daylight Time), San Diego (+4) was ahead 28-7 until the visiting Texans scored a TD with 4:57 left in the 3rd quarter, followed by two more unanswered TD’s in the 4th quarter to tie the game before kicking a game-winning 41-yarder on the last play of the game.  Houston ended up outgaining SD from scrimmage, 449-263.
FINAL: HOUSTON 31, SAN DIEGO 28 (Chargers lost but covered ATS by 1 point).


Washington State +15h visited the Coliseum in Los Angeles and beat heavily favored AP#25 USC.  The Cougars didn’t play a great game statistically, with 3 turnovers (2 for USC) and 8 penalties for 87 yards (3 for 19 yards USC) and only gained 222 yards from scrimmage (193 for USC), but still found a way to muster up a 10-7 victory.  The Trojans are struggling with their offense, with the dual-QB system not working, having passed for a total of only 54 yards (and 2 interceptions) against WSU.  HC Lane Kiffin is already on the hot seat; the Trojan fans are restless.
QB Cody Kessler has been named the starter for this Saturday’s home game vs. Boston College, presumably ending the 2-quarterback system.


In FBS college games this week, only 7 underdogs won their games outright out of 40 games, or 17.5%, including the shocker mentioned above.

Miami of Florida (+3) beat visiting AP#10 Florida State, 21-16, and the Hurricanes moved up to AP#15 after the big victory.

Illinois (+7h) crushed visiting Cincinnati, 45-17.

South Alabama +6 won at Tulane, 41-39.

Navy +12h won at Indiana, 41-35.

BYU (+7h) beat visiting AP#15 Texas, 40-21.

New Mexico +6 won at UTEP, 42-35.

“UPSETS” -- FCS (Division 1-AA) beats FBS (Division 1-A)

FBS Western Michigan got beat by unranked FCS Nicholls State, 27-23.
FBS Massachusetts got beat by Maine, 24-14.
Georgia State, in its first year as an FBS school, got waxed by FCS #25 Chattanooga, 42-14.

Cumulatively for the first two weeks, the total FCS wins over FBS teams is now at ELEVEN (albeit four of those losses were by schools that have just entered the FBS within the last two years).


Central Michigan barely beat FCS #8 New Hampshire, 24-21.
Purdue beat Indiana State only 20-14.
SMU beat FCS #22 Montana only 31-30.
The California “Bad News” Bears beat FCS Portland State only 37-30.
NC State beat FCS #14 Richmond only 23-21.
Akron barely beat FCS #15 James Madison 35-33.

There is parity in the FFHL.  After two weeks of picks (Week Zero and Week #1), 10 of the 12 of us are sporting a 1-1 record, with 1-800-OPPOSITE as the only unbeaten at 2-0 (5-2 ATS both weeks) and FILTER KING the only winless franchise (5-9 ATS).  In the Junior Division (“B”), all six teams are 1-1.
It’s still early, handicappers.

This week, we FFHL’ers performed well on college picks at 27-16-0 (62.8% ATS), but struggled big time with the opening week of the NFL season at 11-26-4 ATS (31.7%).
Overall, we averaged out at a mediocre 38-42-4 ATS (47.6%).
We selected only 18 underdogs out of 84 picks, and those ‘dogs were 5-10-3 ATS, or 36.1% ATS.  That means we produced monkey-like results on our “favorites” picks at 33-32-1 ATS (50.8%). 

Our #1 picks for this week were not much better this week at 5-7, or 41.7% ATS (last week was 4-8 ATS, 33.3%).  Three of us had Houston Texans -4 in the top spot, and they failed to cover ATS by 1 point.

Listed below is a breakdown of some of our significant picks. 

                                    ATS Picks
Team                           For-Against    Result / Unsolicited comments
HOU Texans -4 at SD             7-0       LOSS, big comeback win in San Diego, only 31-28
NE Pats -9h at BUF                6-0       LOSS, New England lucky just to win, 23-21
TB Bucs -3h at NYJ               3-0       LOSS, outright fizzle in loss to Jets, 18-17
SEA ‘Hawks -3h at CAR         3-2       WIN, Seahawks cover by 1.5 in ugly 12-7 win
CIN Bengals +3 at CHI           3-1       TIE, as Da Bears pull out the win, 24-21

Oregon -22h at Virginia          4-0       WIN, as Ducks easily cover ATS in 59-10 win
Arizona -10h at UNLV           3-0       WIN, as ‘Cats easily cover ATS in 58-13 win
Ohio State -28 vs. SDSU       3-0       WIN, Buckeyes eased off but still covered, 42-7
S. Carolina +3h at Georgia     4-1       LOSS, as Bulldogs beat SC 41-30 to cover by 7h

In the 2nd week of college games:

                                                ATS                             Straight-up
                                                Record                        Record

FAVORITES                              26-14-0  (65.0%)        33-7-0 (82.5%)
No wonder we did so well in college

HOME TEAMS                          22-18-0  (55.0%)        27-13 (67.5%)

            AP TOP 10                    3-2-0     (60.0%)         4-1-0  (80.0%)

Cumulative percentages through two weeks:

                                                ATS                             Straight-up
                                                Record                        Record
FAVORITES                              37-47-0  (44.0%)        70-14-0 (83.3%)        

HOME TEAMS                          37-43-0  (46.3%)        57-21-0 (73.1%)

AP TOP 10                                 7-5-0    (58.3%)          8-2-0   (80.0%)

NFL – 1st week:

                  ATS                               STRAIGHT-UP
                                                Record                                  Record

            FAVORITES              7-8-1  (46.9%)                        12-4-0  (75.0%) 
            HOME TEAMS          8-7-1  (53.1%)                        9-7-0  (56.3%)

LOOKING AHEAD – selected games, not the full slate

Thursday         AP#24 TCU -3 at Texas Tech
Sept 12th          Tulane +7h at Louisiana Tech
                        Troy +7h at Arkansas State

Friday             Air Force +23h at Boise State
Sept 13th               
Saturday          AP#1 Alabama -7h at AP#6 Texas A&M    GAME OF WEEK
Sept 14th         
AP#16 UCLA +4h at AP#23 Nebraska
AP#7 Louisville -13h at Kentucky
                        Marshall -8h at Ohio U
                        Tennessee +27h at AP#2 Oregon      
                        Georgia Tech -8 at Duke
                        Iowa -2h at Iowa State            Battle for #2 & #3 spots in the state
                                                                        2-0 UNI Panthers have “bye” week
                                                                           after beating Drake last week
AP#19 Washington U -9h at Illinois
                        Tulsa +24h at AP#14 Oklahoma
                        Florida Atlantic +13 at South Florida
                        AP#21 Notre Dame -20h at Purdue
                        Oregon State +3h at Utah
                        AP#20 Wisconsin +5h at Arizona State


Thursday        NY Jets +11h at New England           Two 1-0 teams with
Sept 12th         (8:25PM Eastern)                               ugly victories in Week #1

Sunday            Divisional Matchups:
Sept 15th          Minnesota +6 at Chicago
                        Cleveland +6h at Baltimore
Tennessee +8h at Houston
New Orleans -3 at Tampa Bay
San Francisco +2h at Seattle            Battle for NFC West “supremacy”

Monday          Pittsburgh +7 at Cincinnati        Two 0-1 teams in AFC North matchup
Sept 16th         (8:30PM Eastern)                                                                  


QUESTION #1:  Many of you saw Eagles’ RB LeSean McCoy running all over the field on Monday night for 184 rushing yards.  What NFL player is currently 2nd in rushing yards from scrimmage after Week #1?
HINT: None this time; a hint might just give it away.

QUESTION #2: Denver QB Peyton Manning threw 7 TD passes against Baltimore last Thursday night, tying the single-game all-time NFL record.  Name the five QB’s he tied.
HINT:  The other five QB’s excelled in 1943 (famous), 1954 (obscure, to me), 1961 (famous “old” guy), 1962 (famous), 1969 (lost to Iowa in 1958 season Rose Bowl).

Terrelle Pryor, QB for the Oakland Raiders who ran for 112 yards on 13 carries against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday in only his second game as a starter in the NFL (he played in three games last year, one as a starter).

Sid Luckman              1943
Adrian Burk                1954
George Blanda            1961
Y.A. Tittle                  1962
Joe Kapp                   1969
Peyton Manning         2013 (44 years since the last one)
Manning completed 27 of 42 passes for 462 yards.

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