FROM THE DESK OF THE “FUGITIVE” COMMISSIONER
Hello Football Fans,
I will forego any Gamblers Anonymous talk in this edition.
In college football, the Top 10 has been quite stable so far. Still waiting for a few stunners.
In the NFL, the games are nearly always a toss-up. In Week #4, 40% of the favorites lost straight up.
The Fugitive Commissioner of the FFHL
NFL AFTER WEEK #4 (end of first quarter of regular season for most teams)
After four weeks, historically (since 1990) teams starting a season 1-3 have only a 14% chance of making the playoffs. That means six teams: MIN, WSH, PHI, ATL, STL, and OAK have only a slim chance to make the playoffs this year (statistically, only one of these teams is going to make the playoffs). Last year, no team that started 1-3 or worse made the 2012 playoffs. I’ll take the Vikings (my team), but the best team on this list, if healthy, is Atlanta.
Four teams are 0-4 and in even worse shape to make the playoffs: NYG, TB, PIT, and JAX.
Since 1990, teams starting 2-2 have about a 36% chance to make the playoffs. There are currently nine of these teams: DAL (leading its division by 1 game), SF, AZ, NYJ, BUF, CIN & BAL & CLE (tied three for AFC North division lead), HOU, and SD. Statistically, only 3 of these 9 teams will make the playoffs (meaning that six probably won’t).
At this stage, I’ll take SF, CIN, and HOU to make it (staying with my preseason predictions).
Five teams are undefeated at 4-0: KC, DEN, SEA, NE, and NOR.
NFL ACTION – UNDERDOG WINNERS
In pro games this week, SIX underdogs won their games outright out of 15 games, or 40.0%.
SHOCKER OF THE WEEK:
There were no big shockers this week, in my mind. Only two teams were favored by more than 7 points (DEN and IND), and they both won handily.
But a few of the upsets were surprising to most of us fans.
Cleveland +4 beat visiting Cincinnati, 17-6, in a key AFC North matchup. Both teams are now 2-2 in the division, tied with Baltimore for 1st place. The Browns started the year 0-2, lost their QB to injury, traded their #1 RB, started their #3 QB the last two weeks, and have won the last two weeks. That’s ….. almost shocking.
Minnesota +3 beat Pittsburgh in London, 34-27. The Vikings started the year 0-3, replaced their injured starting QB this week with #2 QB Matt Cassel, and beat the winless Steelers, who hadn’t started a season 0-4 since 1968. That’s …. a bit surprising.
Buffalo +3 beat visiting Baltimore, 23-20. The Bills have been decimated by injuries, but the Ravens could only muster 24 rushing yards for the whole game and QB Flacco threw five interceptions against a depleted Buffalo secondary. From scrimmage, the two teams gained virtually the same total yardage. This result seems to indicate a “changing of the guard” in the AFC (is that too dramatic?).
San Diego +2 beat visiting Dallas, 30-21. The inconsistent Chargers were down 21-10 late in the first half, but scored 20 unanswered points in eventually dominating the game from scrimmage, 506 to 317. Which Bolts team will show up next week in Oakland? That game will start at 8:35PM Pacific time, moved back to accommodate a baseball playoff game.
Arizona +2h won at Tampa Bay, 13-10, with the Buccaneers presumably in turmoil with tensions between players and coaches (mainly former starting QB Josh Freeman, who was inactive for Week #4, and HC Greg Schiano, it appears). After beginning the season 0-3, the Bucs demoted starting QB Josh Freeman and started rookie Mike Glennon. The move looked good for three quarters, with TB ahead 10-0, but the Cardinals scored 13 in the final stanza including the game-winning 27-yard FG with 1½ minutes remaining.
New England +1 led 30-13 late in the Sunday night game and held on at Atlanta to win 30-23. The Falcons are missing key players due to injury, and the Patriots stayed undefeated at 4-0.
Houston +2 was ahead of visiting Seattle, 20-3 at halftime and still led 20-13 controlling the ball in Seahawks’ territory with only 2½ minutes remaining in the game. But Texans’ QB Matt Schaub threw a Pick-6 for a Seattle 58-yard interception return for a TD, and the game was knotted at 20 – overtime. HOU had 2 possessions in OT without scoring; On their 2nd overtime possession, Seattle kicked the game-winning FG from 45 yards (aided by a roughing penalty to get into range) with only 3:19 remaining in extra time. Houston dominated the game in yards from scrimmage, 476-270, and only lost the turnover battle 3-2, but ultimately lost on the scoreboard.
FINAL: SEA 23, HOU 20, and the Seahawks covered ATS by 1 point.
FBS ACTION – UNDERDOG WINNERS
Last week, only 2 underdogs won in 44 lined games. In FBS college games this week, two underdogs had already won after Thursday night’s games. However, by the end of the fifth week of college games, only nine underdogs won their games outright out of 48 games, or 18.8% (still pretty low).
On Thursday night, Virginia Tech +7 won at Georgia Tech, 17-10 and
Iowa State +3 won at Tulsa, 38-21, the Cyclones’ first win of the year.
Kent State +2h won at Western Michigan, 32-14.
East Carolina +13 won at North Carolina, 55-31, and the ACC Tar Heels are reeling.
Idaho +7h held on to beat visiting Temple on the Vandals’ Homecoming Day game, 26-24. With its first win of the year, Idaho equaled its win total from last year (1-11).
Tulane +14 won at Louisiana-Monroe, 31-14.
Texas State +12 beat visiting Wyoming, 42-21.
Western Kentucky +3 beat visiting Navy, 19-7.
SHOCKER OF THE WEEK:
West Virginia +19 beat visiting and AP#11Oklahoma State, 30-21, even with poor clock management in the fourth quarter that kept the Cowboys in the game until the end.
AP#6 LSU +3 could easily have won at AP#9 Georgia in an exciting game with two good offenses and nearly two non-existent defenses.
Both teams were ahead by 7 points at some point in the game, but no more than that. The UGA Bulldogs outgained the Tigers from scrimmage only 494-449, and turnovers (1-1) and penalties were the same for each team.
FINAL: GA 44, LSU 41.
Hawaii +18 was behind 42-3 (and not covering ATS by 21 points) in mid-3rd quarter, but scored 34 unanswered points including 20 in the 4th quarter to threaten victory, but came up just short against visiting AP#25 Fresno State. The Rainbow Warriors did, however, easily cover ATS.
FINAL: FRES 42, HI 37. THE ROUNDERS got a win ATS with their #6 pick.
COLLEGE GAMES AGAINST THE SPREAD (ATS)
Central Florida +6h was behind 28-10 but narrowed the gap with a TD early in the fourth quarter. Visiting South Carolina responded and was marching in for another score with 2½ minutes remaining in the game, anticipating an insurmountable 17-point lead. But the Gamecocks fumbled at the Knights’ 5-yard line, giving UCF new life. They matriculated down the field on a 3-play, 95-yard TD drive to get within 3 and the clock showing 1:54 (UCF now covering ATS but still behind). The ensuing onside kick failed, as the Gamecocks easily caught the ball and started to run nearly unabated to the end zone to regain a 10-point lead …….. but wait, the kicking team knocked the runner out of bounds at the 15-yard line. Form there, SC just knelt down three times and ran out the clock.
FINAL: S.CAR 28, UCF 25, so the Gamecocks won but failed to cover ATS.
MOORE MONEY of the FFHL got a win against the spread here, and he picked the game because his grandson was on the field for the UCF Knights, wearing jersey #30.
AP#4 Ohio State -6h (point spread was 7 in some sportsbooks) beat visiting AP#23 Wisconsin, 31-24 to cover ATS by the hook. The Badgers were down 31-14 after 3 quarters and couldn’t make up the difference. Their vaunted running game was silenced by the Buckeyes, as Wisconsin ground out only 104 rushing yards. OSU has the current NCAA’s longest winning streak at 17 games.
AP#2 Oregon -36 scored early and often against visiting Cal, then slowed it down to win “only” 55-16 but still covered ATS by 3 points.
RE-RANK FOR NEW POLLS
AP RANK SU RECORD
TEAM RECORD ATS Comments
#1 Alabama 4-0 2-2 Plays cupcakes until Nov 9th LSU home
#2 Oregon 4-0 3-0 Plays at Stanford Thursday, Nov 7th
#3 Clemson 4-0 2-1 Hosts FSU on Oct 19th
#4 Ohio State 5-0 3-1 Plays soft schedule, at Michigan Nov 30th
#5 Stanford 4-0 2-2 Hosts Notre Dame on Nov. 30th
#6 Georgia 3-1 1-2-1 Plays at JAX vs. Florida Nov 2nd
#7 Louisville 4-0 2-0-1 Hosts UCF Friday, Oct 18th
#8 Florida St 4-0 2-1 Plays at Clemson Oct 19th
#9 TX A&M 4-1 2-2 Plays at LSU Nov 23rd
#10 LSU 4-1 2-2-1 Tough loss at Georgia last Saturday
#11 Oklahoma 4-0 3-1 Plays Texas in Dallas on Oct 12th
#12 UCLA 3-0 3-0 Plays at Stanford Oct 19th
#13 S.Carolina 3-1 1-3 Plays FL & Clemson home in Nov.
#14 Miami.FL 4-0 2-1 Plays at FSU on Nov 2nd
#15 Washington 4-0 3-0 Plays at Stanford this Saturday
#16 Northwest'n 4-0 2-1 Hosts Ohio State this Saturday
#17 Baylor 3-0 2-0 Hosts Oklahoma Thursday, Nov 7th
#18 Florida 3-1 1-3 Plays at LSU on Oct 12th
#19 Michigan 4-0 2-2 Hosts Ohio State on Nov 30th finale
#20 Texas Tech 4-0 2-1 Plays at Oklahoma on Oct 26th
With losses last weekend, Notre Dame and Wisconsin dropped out of the Top 25.
FFHL RESULTS – WEEK FOUR
This week, we FFHL’ers collectively performed pretty well at 47-34-3 (57.7% ATS). In college, we were 29-17-3 (62.2% ATS), but we are still struggling in the NFL as we were only 18-17-0 (51.4% ATS).
Cumulatively, we raised our win percentage to 52.4% ATS so far this year (that is exactly the breakeven point with bets made at 11 to 10, or -110, or bet $11 to win $10). We are 56.7% in college on 268 picks and only 44.7% in the NFL on 152 picks.
Our best handicappers in the FFHL so far are:
TOMMY BOY 23.5 of 35 67.1% 6-1 ATS the last two weeks
MOORE MONEY 23 of 35 65.7% College 65.2% and NFL 66.7%
YO MAMA 21 of 35 60.0% 16 of 24 in college games
And we have one straggler at the bottom at 35.7% ATS, but his FFHL identity will not be revealed, as it is early in the season and his new “system” has not had a chance to kick in yet.
FFHL LOP-SIDED and CONTESTED PICKS AGAINST THE SPREAD (ATS)
Listed below is a breakdown of some of our significant picks.
Team For-Against Result / Unsolicited comments
Stanford -9h vs. WA.St 6-0 WIN, a Cardinal blowout in Seattle, 55-17
Texas A&M -15 at ARK 5-0 LOSS, Aggies win only 45-33 to not cover
Iowa -1 at Minnesota 3-0 WIN, Hawks 23-7 victory secures Floyd Trophy
Ohio State -6h vs. WISC 3-1 WIN, Buckeyes cover ATS by ½ point, 31-24
S.Carolina -6h at UCF 2-1 LOSS, Gamecocks win only 28-25 to not cover
LSU +3 at Georgia 2-1 TIE, Bulldogs win at home, 44-41
BAL Ravens -3 at BUF 6-0 LOSS, costly turnovers aid Bills, 23-20
IND Colts -7h at JAX 6-0 WIN, blowout by Colts over Jags, 37-3
KC Chiefs -4 vs. NYG 4-0 WIN, blowout over 0-4 NY Gnats, 31-7
CIN Bengals -4 at CLE 4-0 LOSS, straight up victory by Browns, 17-6
CHI Bears +3 at DET 4-0 LOSS, Lions dominate until end, win 40-32
SEA Seahawks -2 at HOU 3-0 WIN, “lucky” outright victory & cover, 23-20 OT
None of us FFHL’ers picked against each other on any NFL picks this week.
In the 5th week of college games:
FAVORITES 28-19-1 (59.4%) 39-9 (81.2%)
HOME TEAMS 27-18-1 (59.8%) 28-18 (60.9%)
AP TOP 10 5-2-2 (66.7%) 8-1 (88.9%)
Cumulative percentages through five weeks:
FAVORITES 105-112-4 (48.4%) 185-36 (83.7%)
HOME TEAMS 114-92-4 (55.2%) 139-71 (66.2%)
AP TOP 10 19-14-3 (56.9%) 32-4 (88.9%)
NFL – 4rd week:
FAVORITES 9-6-0 (60.0%) 9-6-0 (60.0%)
HOME TEAMS 8-6-0 (57.1%) 8-6-0 (57.1%)
Cumulative percentages through four weeks:
FAVORITES 32-29-2 (52.4%) 43-20-0 (68.3%)
HOME TEAMS 35-25-2 (58.1%) 40-22-0 (64.5%)
LOOKING AHEAD – selected games, not the full slate
COLLEGE FOOTBALL - FFHL WEEK #5 (sixth week)
Thursday Texas -9h at Iowa State Back-2-back Thursday games for Cyclones
#12 UCLA -5h at Utah
Western Kentucky -7 at Louisiana-Monroe
Friday Nevada +4h at San Diego State
BYU +6 at Utah State
Saturday BIG GAMES OF THE WEEK:
#15 Washington+7h at #5 Stanford U-Dub beat the Cardinal last year
#4 Ohio State -7 at #16 Northwestern Buckeyes are 28-1 SU vs. NW
OTHER INTERESTING GAMES:
#9 LSU -8h at Mississippi State
#6 Georgia -10h at Tennessee
Michigan State +1 at Iowa Hawk fans, we are favored (gulp)
Kansas State +14 at #21 Oklahoma State
West Virginia +27h at #17 Baylor
Maryland +15h at #8 Florida State Terps are 2-21 vs. FSU
North Carolina +7h at Virginia Tech
#22 Arizona State -6 vs. Notre Dame at Cowboy Stadium, Arlington, TX
Air Force +11h at Navy
New Mexico State +10 at New Mexico
Florida International +17 at Southern Mississippi “Futility Bowl”
Ohio U -5h at Akron
South Alabama +3h at Troy
NFL WEEK #5 – SELECTED GAMES
BYE WEEKS: MIN, PIT, TB, WSH
Thursday Buffalo +4 at Cleveland
Sunday Divisional Matchups:
Philadelphia +2h at NY Giants
Detroit +6h at Green Bay
San Diego -4h at Oakland
Other interesting games:
New Orleans +1 at Chicago
New England +1h at Cincinnati
Seattle -2h at Indianapolis
Baltimore +3 at Miami
Houston +6h at San Francisco
Denver -7 at Dallas
Monday NY Jets +8h at Atlanta
USC HC Lane Kiffin was fired after his team gave up 62 points at Arizona State last Saturday night. DL Coach Ed Orgeron will take over as the interim head coach. The search for a new HC will continue probably until just before the UCLA game late in the regular season.
And for you handicappers who have been betting against Connecticut every week, the Huskies’ head coach was just fired this week.
More Peyton Manning:
He now has 16 TD passes after 4 games and still no interceptions. He has thrown for 1,199 yards, even after sitting out the 4th quarter of last week’s game. Denver has scored 179 points this year, and next best is Chicago with 127 points. In last week’s home game against Philadelphia, Manning engineered three drives in the 3rd quarter, all of which started at their own 20-yard line. The result was three TD’s, but more amazingly, the team did not face even one 3rd down play on any of those three drives.
Denver plays at home again in Week #6 against the worst team in the NFL, the Jacksonville Jaguars. The LVH Las Vegas Hotel and Casino’s Super Book both installed the Broncos as a 26½ point favorite for the October 13th matchup. Of course the line could change based on the results of Week #5 games, but if this holds up, it will break the record for largest point spread in an NFL game. The highest point spread on record was in 2007, Philadelphia +25 at New England in the year the Patriots were on their way to an undefeated regular season. Just short of that spread was in 1976 when Pittsburgh was favored by 24 over Tampa Bay (who ended up the season winless at 0-14 in their first year in the NFL, HC Jim McKay and those orange uniforms).
FOOTBALL QUIZ QUESTION
QUESTION #1: I listed the AP Top 20 teams in college football above. How many undefeated teams outside of the Top 20 can you name? There are a total of FIVE. Get three of them, and you are doing well. Get all of them and give yourself an extra bonus.
HINT: Two of the five are ranked in the AP Top 25.
QUESTION #2: Who is paying attention to college football on the “left” coast? How many teams are in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) this year?
AP#23 Fresno State with QB Derek Carr (David’s younger brother)
Not Iowa at 4-1 (matching their win total from last year), but the Hawkeyes are alone at the top of the Big 10 Legends Division at 1-0. The only other team that’s played a conference game is Minnesota, who lost to Iowa.
None; that conference disbanded at the end of last year.