Friday, December 13, 2013

FOOTBALL NEWS AFTER WEEK FOURTEEN



FROM THE DESK OF THE “FUGITIVE” COMMISSIONER

Hello Football Fans,

College now goes into the bowl season, starting on December 21st.

The NFL regular season finishes in three weeks.

So much info; hope you have time to read it.

The Fugitive Commissioner of the FFHL


COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Several weeks ago there were six undefeated teams, and now we are down to merely one.  Unbeaten Florida State, now the nearly unanimous #1-ranked team, secured a spot in the BCS Championship Game.  Baylor lost on November 23rd at Oklahoma State and then #1 Alabama lost at Auburn on November 30th to reduce the number of unbeaten teams to four.  And then last weekend Ohio State, Northern Illinois and Fresno State all lost as favorites in their conference title games.

FBS ACTION – UNDERDOG WINNERS

In FBS college games last weekend, 5 underdogs won their games outright out of an abbreviated slate of 14 games, or 35.7% (last week 25.4%). 

Bowling Green +4 beat previously undefeated Northern Illinois, 47-27, in Detroit to win the MAC Conference title and the Falcons knocked the NIU Huskies out of a likely BCS bowl berth.

Oklahoma +10 won the “Bedlam” game at Oklahoma State, 33-24 (it was much closer than that, as the Sooners scored a meaningless TD on the last play of the game and got most of the breaks throughout the game).  The game was tied at halftime, 10-10, and the Sooners’ QB was knocked out of the game at the end of the 1st half.  But the OSU Cowboys were unable to take advantage and blew their chance to win the game, win the Big XII title, and get an automatic BCS bowl invitation.  Ironically, Oklahoma ended up with an at-large BCS bowl invitation to play Alabama in the Sugar Bowl (and Okie State didn’t get a BCS at-large bid).

Rice +6h beat visiting Marshall, 41-24, to win the Conference USA title.

Stanford +3 soundly won at Arizona State, 38-14, to win the Pacific 12 Conference title and a Rose Bowl berth. 

Michigan State +5h beat previously undefeated Ohio State, 34-24, to win the Big 10 Conference title and a Rose Bowl berth.  The MSU Spartans were ahead 17-0, allowed the OSU Buckeyes to score the next 24 points to fall behind by a touchdown in the 3rd quarter, but then responded with the final 17 points of the game to prevail.

FINAL CONFERENCE STANDINGS

BCS Automatic Qualifier “AQ” Conferences

PAC-12
STANFORD (+3) dominated on the road at Arizona State to win 38-14 and get the automatic BCS bowl bid to the Rose Bowl vs. Michigan State on Wednesday, January 1st.  The Cardinal had beaten ASU earlier in the year at home, 42-28, but the game wasn’t really that close back on September 21st.

SEC
AUBURN (-2) outlasted Missouri at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA, 59-42.  Auburn led only 45-42 going into the final quarter but then prevailed with a smattering of defense.  AUB outgained Mizzou from scrimmage, 677-534.
One-loss Auburn got the nod by the BCS formula over eight other one-loss teams for a spot in the BCS Championship Game in Pasadena, CA on January 6th.
                       
BIG XII         
After a stunning loss by Oklahoma State at home to rival Oklahoma in the “Bedlam” game, BAYLOR (-16) beat visiting Texas 30-10 to win the conference title outright with a 7-1 conference record; the Bears earned an automatic BCS berth and will play in the Fiesta Bowl on Wednesday, January 1st against AAC Champion Central Florida.
AGAINST THE SPREAD
Texas +16 was behind only 23-10 (and covering ATS) with the ball at the Baylor 40-yard line with less than four minutes remaining in the game, still with plenty of time to score and then try to recover an onside kick, still having a chance to win.  Instead, the Longhorns threw a “Pick-6” (interception for a TD), and now the score was 29-10 (with Baylor now covering ATS)….. but wait, there was a penalty after the interception, Baylor still kept the ball but the TD was nullified (back to 23-10, Texas covering ATS).  Baylor had the ball at the Texas 30-yard line with the clock winding down under 3 minutes.  On the first play from scrimmage, an up-the-gut running play broke for a TD, and this time it was for real – Baylor won by 20 points and covered ATS.

BIG TEN
MICHIGAN STATE (+5h) beat previously unbeaten Ohio State at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, 34-24, to earn an automatic BCS bowl berth and with face Stanford in the Rose Bowl on Wednesday, January 1st.

ACC
As expected, FLORIDA STATE (-29) beat upstart Duke in Charlotte, NC, 45-7, became the only remaining undefeated FBS team, and will get a shot at the national title in Pasadena, CA on January 6th vs. Auburn.

“THE AMERICAN” AAC
CENTRAL FLORIDA (-10) won at SMU 17-13 to win the AAC title and clinch an automatic BCS bowl berth.  The Knights will face Big XII Champion Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl on Friday, January 3rd.

NON-AUTOMATIC BCS QUALIFIER CONFERENCES (“Non-AQ”)

SUN BELT    
LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE and ARKANSAS STATE tied for the conference title with 5-2 records, after ULL (+3) lost at South Alabama, 30-8, last Saturday to not win the conference title outright.  The Ragin’ Cajuns lost for the second week in a row, and the A-State Red Wolves finished their regular season the previous week with a heartbreaking 34-31 loss at Western Kentucky.
I’m not sure if the conference uses a tiebreaker to determine the conference winner, but Louisiana had beaten ASU in Jonesboro, AR earlier in the year, 23-7.

C-USA           
RICE (+6h) hosted MARSHALL in the conference title game and won convincingly as the underdog, 41-24.

MAC              
BOWLING GREEN (+4) soundly beat previously undefeated Northern Illinois at Ford Field, Detroit, MI, 47-27, to win the Mid-American Conference title.

MW
FRESNO STATE (-3) beat visiting Utah State, 24-17, to win the inaugural Mountain West championship (and cover ATS).
           
FINAL BCS RANKINGS as of December 8, 2013

Following are the FINAL BCS RANKINGS and a comparison to the latest Associated Press rankings.

BCS RANK           SU             RANK
TEAM             RECORD        AP Poll           Comments

#1 Florida St         13-0           #1 (56)            Won ACC title game over Duke, 45-7
#2 Auburn            12-1           #2  ( 4)            Won SEC title game over Mizzou, 59-42
#3 Alabama          11-1            #3                   SUGAR BOWL
#4 Michigan St     12-1            #4                   Won Big 10 title game over Ohio St, 34-24
#5 Stanford          11-2            #5                   Won PAC-12 title game at AZ St., 38-14
#6 Baylor             11-1            #6                    Beat visiting Texas on Sat., 30-10
#7 Ohio State       12-1            #7                    1st loss in Big 10 title game vs. Mich.St.
#8 Missouri          11-2            #9                    Lost SEC title game to Auburn
#9 S.Carolina        10-2           #8                    Plays Wisconsin in Orlando’s Capital One
#10 Oregon          10-2           #10                  Plays Texas in San Antonio’s Alamo Bowl
#11 Oklahoma       10-2           #11                  Upset host Oklahoma State on Sat., 33-24
#12 Clemson         10-2           #12                  ORANGE BOWL
#13 Okla. State     10-2           #13                  Lost to Oklahoma; failed to win Big XII
#14 Arizona St     10-3            #16                  Lost Pac-12 title game at home to Stanford
#15 Central FL     11-1            #15                  UCF barely won at SMU on Sat., 17-13
#16 LSU               9-3            #14                  Plays Iowa in Tampa’s Outback Bowl
#17 UCLA             9-3           #17                  Plays VA Tech in El Paso’s Sun Bowl
#18 Louisville       11-1           #18                  Barely won at Cincy on Thu., 31-24 in OT
#19 Wisconsin       9-3           #19                  Plays S.Carolina in Capital One Bowl
#20 Fresno State   11-1          #21                  Beat visiting Utah St. 24-17 to win MW title
#21 TX A&M        8-4          #20                  Plays Duke in Atlanta’s Chick-Fil-A Bowl
#22 Georgia           8-4          #23                  Plays NEBR in Jacksonville’s Gator Bowl
#23 N. Illinois       12-1         #24                  Lost MAC title to Bowling Green, 47-27
#24 Duke             10-3         #22                  Lost ACC title game to #1 FSU
#25 USC                9-4         #26                  Plays Fresno in the Royal Purple Las Vegas
                                                                        Bowl (“Say What?”)
NR Notre Dame      8-4        #25                  Beat Michigan St. in South Bend, 17-13
NR Iowa                8-4        #27                  Plays LSU in Tampa, FL Outback Bowl
NR Miami.FL         9-3        #28                  Plays Louisville in Orlando

With a loss last weekend at Baylor, Texas dropped out of the BCS Top 25; USC moved into the #25 spot.

The AP Poll has the same Top 7 in the exact same order as the BCS rankings, and also has the same Top 24 teams as the BCS rankings, in slightly different order.

Football fan Bob S. asks, “How does a two-loss Stanford team, who lost to Utah and USC, get ranked ahead of Baylor and Ohio State?”  I don’t get it, either.  The Cardinal is definitely good, but “Scoreboard, baby”.  See analysis of one-loss teams below.

The six computers:
The machines have the same Top 3 in exactly the same order.  Only 4 of the 6 computers have FSU #1; the other two have Auburn #1.  All six computers had these two teams as the top two teams.  I’m not buying this Auburn and SEC frenzy; it could have been really ugly if Ohio State had won its Big 10 title game, been undefeated, and gotten beat out by a one-loss team for the 2nd spot in the championship game.  But of course, that didn’t happen.

Florida State got all of the first place votes in the human polls, except Auburn got 4 of 60 votes in the AP, 8 of 105 in the Harris, but none of 62 in the USAToday. 


BCS BOWL GAMES

January 1st       ROSE BOWL             #5 Stanford -4 vs. #4 Michigan State
January 1st       FIESTA BOWL          #6 Baylor -16h vs. #15 Central Florida
January 2nd      SUGAR BOWL          #3 Alabama -15 vs. #11 Oklahoma
January 3rd      ORANGE BOWL       #7 Ohio State -2h vs. #12 Clemson
January 6th     BCS TITLE GAME              #1 Florida State -9 vs. #2 Auburn

Note that none of the non-AQ teams qualified for an automatic BCS bowl invitation, since both Fresno State and Northern Illinois lost last weekend and dropped to #20 and #23, respectively, which was not in the Top 16 and also not ranked higher than the lowest ranked AQ conference champion - #15 UCF.

Also, note that only two teams from any one conference can get into a BCS bowl.  Left out of these prestigious games were #8 Missouri and #9 South Carolina, since Auburn and Alabama were already representing the SEC.  #10 Oregon got “snubbed”, if you will, and #11 Oklahoma & #12 Clemson snagged the last at-large bids.

HOW DID AUBURN WITH ONE LOSS GET INTO THE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME?

Well, it makes sense that Florida State got into the BCS title game.  The Seminoles sport a perfect 13-0 record, and won 12 of those games by at least 27 points (they beat BC on the road by “only” 14).  FSU beat four teams ranked at the time the game was played: #25 Maryland, #3 Clemson, #7 Miami, and #20 Duke.

HERE ARE THE NINE ONE-LOSS TEAMS:

#2 AUBURN lost at then-#6 LSU, 35-21.  The Tigers had five wins over then-ranked opponents, but 4 of the 5 were by eight points or less (only the SEC title game was a double-digit win): #24 Mississippi, #7 Texas A&M, #25 Georgia (a gift win at home,  donated by dual bonehead Bulldog defensive backs), #1 Alabama (a nail-biter), and #5 Missouri.

#6 BAYLOR lost at then-#10 Oklahoma State, 49-17.  The Bears beat only two then-ranked teams (but both convincingly): #10 Oklahoma 41-12 and #25 Texas 30-10 in the Big XII finale that determined the conference champion.

#3 ALABAMA lost at then-#4 Auburn, 34-28, on a 108-yard runback of a failed FG at the end of regulation.  The Crimson Tide beat three then-ranked teams during the season: #6 Texas A&M (by 7), #21 Mississippi, and #13 LSU.  All of the Tide’s 11 wins were by double-digit margins except the A&M game.  However, Alabama only had two tough road games all season; one was a loss and one was a win by only 7.

#4 MICHIGAN STATE lost at then-#22 Notre Dame, 17-13.  The Spartans beat only two then-ranked teams: #21 Michigan (29-6) and #2 Ohio State.  Wisconsin was not on the schedule this year.  All 12 wins by MSU were by double-digit margins.

#7 OHIO STATE lost to Michigan State in the Big 10 title game in Indianapolis, 34-24.  Not to make excuses, but the Buckeyes were playing their 4th away game in their last five games.  Anyway, the Bucks beat only two then-ranked teams: #23 Wisconsin by 7 and #16 Northwestern by 10.


#15 CENTRAL FLORIDA lost at home to then-#12 South Carolina, 28-25.  The Knights had only one win over a then-ranked team, 38-35 at #8 Louisville.

#18 LOUISVILLE lost at home to then-unranked Central Florida.  The Cardinals did not have any wins over ranked teams (a very weak schedule), but did beat AP#31 Cincinnati in overtime in their regular season finale.

#20 FRESNO STATE lost at San Jose State, 62-52.  The Bulldogs had no wins over ranked teams.  The biggest wins were over Boise State at home, 42-41, and at San Diego State in overtime, 35-28.

#23 NORTHERN ILLINOIS lost to AP#32 Bowling Green in the MAC title game in Detroit, 47-27.  The Huskies had no wins over ranked team.  The biggest win was in its opener at AP#27 Iowa, 30-27.

If this had happened next year when the BCS system is gone and there is a 4-team playoff scenario, we could have seen #1 FSU vs. #4 Michigan State and #2 Auburn vs. #3 Alabama in the semifinals (potentially, although a human committee is going to choose the four teams and their seedings).

COLLEGE BOWL GAMES – THE REST

There are 35 bowl games this year, including the five BCS Bowls (see above).  That’s 70 teams that will be playing in the post-season, leaving another 56 FBS teams that will not get a bowl invitation.

With the regular season completed (except the Army-Navy game), 80 teams have become bowl eligible.  That means 10 qualifying teams will be left at home for the bowl season. 
Last weekend SMU, Rutgers, and South Alabama were fighting for bowl eligibility.  Only SMU failed to win; the Mustangs had a tough matchup vs. #16 UCF and lost only 17-13 in a valiant effort.

Following are the teams that qualified for a bowl game, by conference (number of teams eligible noted in parentheses), and then I’ve marked the teams that did not get an invitation to a bowl game this year (with an “OUT”):

ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE (11 qualifying of 14 teams)
Florida State (13-0)                BCS Title Game – Rose Bowl Jan 6th
Duke (10-3)
Clemson (10-2)
Miami (Fla.) (9-3)
Virginia Tech (8-4)
Georgia Tech (7-5)
Boston College (7-5)
Maryland (7-5)
Syracuse (6-6)
North Carolina (6-6)
Pitt (6-6)

American Athletic Conference (5 of 10)
UCF (11-1)                 BCS automatic bowl bid
Louisville (11-1)
Cincinnati (9-3)
Houston (8-4)
Rutgers (6-6)

Big XII Conference (6 of 10)
Baylor (11-1)              BCS automatic bowl bid
Oklahoma (10-2)
Oklahoma State (10-2)
Texas (8-4)
Kansas State (7-5)
Texas Tech (7-5)

Big Ten Conference (7 of 12)
Michigan State (12-1)                        BCS automatic bowl bid
Ohio State (12-1)
Wisconsin (9-3)
Iowa (8-4)
Nebraska (8-4)
Minnesota (8-4)
Michigan (7-5)
NOTE: Penn State is ineligible due to NCAA probation.

Conference USA (7+1 conditional of 14)
Rice (10-3)
Marshall (9-4)
East Carolina (9-3)
Middle Tennessee (8-4)
North Texas (8-4)
Tulane (7-5)
FAU (6-6)                   OUT - interim head coach went 4-0 after HC Pelini was fired
#-UTSA (7-5)             OUT
NOTE: #-UTSA is in its final transition year from the FCS; the Roadrunners are only bowl eligible under the "reclassification rules" set forth by the NCAA.

Independents (3 of 7)
Notre Dame (8-4)
Brigham Young (8-4)
Navy (7-4)

MID-AMERICAN CONFERENCE (7 of 13)
Bowling Green (10-3)
Northern Illinois (12-1)
Ball State (10-2)
Buffalo (8-4)
Toledo (7-5)                           OUT
Ohio (7-5)
Central Michigan (6-6)          OUT

Mountain West (7 of 12)
Fresno State (11-1)
Utah State (8-5)
San Diego State (7-5)
Boise State (8-4)
UNLV (7-5)
Colorado State (7-6)
San Jose State (6-6)                OUT

PAC-12 CONFERENCE (9 of 12)
Stanford (11-2)                       BCS automatic bowl bid
Arizona State (10-3)
Oregon (10-2)
UCLA (9-3)
USC (9-4)
Washington (8-4)
Arizona (7-5)
Oregon State (6-6)
Washington State (6-6)

SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE (10 of 14)
Auburn (12-1)                         BCS Title Game – Rose Bowl Jan 6th
Missouri (11-2)
Alabama (11-1)
South Carolina (10-2)
Georgia (8-4)
LSU (9-3)
Texas A&M (8-4)
Vanderbilt (8-4)
Mississippi (7-5)
Mississippi State (6-6)

Sun Belt Conference (7 of 8)
Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4)
Arkansas State (7-5)
Western Kentucky (8-4)         OUT
Troy (6-6)                               OUT
Louisiana-Monroe (6-6)         OUT
South Alabama (6-6)              OUT
Texas State (6-6)                    OUT

COMMENT:
An astute football fan from Iowa believes that 6-6 teams should not be considered as bowl-eligible.  Well, there are 14 teams that finished the season 6-6, including four from the Sun Belt and three from the ACC.  Doing the math, that means at least FIVE “mediocre” 6-6 teams get a bowl invitation; in fact, there were seven -- Washington State, Oregon State, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Rutgers, Mississippi State and North Carolina.  That means two teams with records better than 6-6 got left out – Western Kentucky (8-4) and Toledo (7-5).
That’s the breaks, Wayne.

HEISMAN TROPHY UPDATE

Here is the final Heisman Straw Poll (per Heismanpundit.com, ten anonymous Heisman voters, the most trusted gauge of Heisman Trophy winners).  The Heisman Trophy presentation will be televised on Saturday, December 14th.

                                                            12/9/13
PLAYER (SCHOOL)                         FINAL             COMMENTS 

QB Jameis Winston (FSU)                 26  (7)             Redshirt freshman is BIG favorite    
QB Jordan Lynch (N. Illinois)              8  (2)             Highly ranked for non-AQ player
QB Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M)        7                   Defending Trophy holder
RB Tre Mason (Auburn)                     5  (1)             First appearance in this straw poll
QB A.J. McCarron (Alabama)              4                  If Tide had beaten Auburn, he’s #2
QB Marcus Mariotta (Oregon)             2
QB Derek Carr (Fresno State)             2
RB Andre Williams (BC)                     1                    Injury shut down his chances
QB Bryce Petty (Baylor)                     1                    One bad loss & he was toast
DT Aaron Donald (Pittsburgh)            1
LB Shayne Skov (Stanford)                1                    First appearance in straw poll
QB Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville)      1                    Preseason favorite lost favor
                       
Final ballots from all Heisman voters were due Monday, December 9th.

Many voters waited until the last weekend to make a decision, as they wanted to see what happened with the Jameis Winston situation.  Last week, prosecutors decided not to file charges against him for felony sexual assault presumably because of the difficulty of proving guilt in a criminal trial.  He could still face civil charges later.

This is a strange individual award, since the winner is generally the quarterback of the best team at the time of the awards ceremony.  Whatever.

UPDATE (announced late Monday)
The SIX finalists for the Heisman Trophy are:
Jameis Winston

It’s the first time since 1994 — and only the second time in Heisman history — that six players have been named as finalists.

NFL

NFL WEEK #14 – UNDERDOG WINNERS

In pro games this week, only THREE underdogs won their games outright out of 16 games, or 18.8% (same as last week). 

Jacksonville +3h beat visiting Houston, 27-20; the Jaguars have won 4 of their last five after a sorely needed bye week, having started the season with eight straight losses.  The HOU Texans on the other hand have now lost 11 straight games after starting the season 2-0, and HC Gary Kubiak was fired after the game.

Miami +3 won at Pittsburgh, 34-28.  PITT scored early in the opening period, but eventually the Dolphins took a 17-7 lead after a score early in the 2nd half.  Wasting no time, Pittsburgh retook the lead with two third-quarter TD’s of its own.  After that, there were three more lead changes (five total for the game), and eventually the ‘Phins prevailed to virtually knock the Steelers out of playoff contention.

Chicago +1 soundly beat visiting Dallas in chilly Soldier Field, 45-28, as the Bears’ backup QB shredded the porous Cowboys’ defense.

NOT QUITE:

Minnesota +6h was only trailing 7-6 at Baltimore after three quarters in a defensive slug-fest, and scored its first TD of the game early in the fourth quarter to take the lead 12-7.  Not much happened after that until the Ravens scored a go-ahead TD with only 2:05 remaining in regulation.  But with precious little time left in the game, the two teams scored four more touchdowns.  The Vikings took the lead 26-22 on their last TD of the game with 0:45 on the clock, but Baltimore came right back and scored the game winner with 4 seconds left.  This is a head-shaker: six touchdowns in the fourth quarter, five of them in the last 125 seconds of the game, and only one total in the first three quarters.
FINAL: BAL 29, MIN 26 (but the Vikings covered ATS)


NFL AFTER WEEK #14

Every team has now played 13 games, with three more games remaining in the regular season (Weeks #15 through #17).

NFC East:       PHI at 8-5 (“Say What?!!”) has a tenuous 1-game lead over DAL (7-6).
                        The Eagles play at Dallas in Week #17, a game likely to decide which team makes the playoffs.
                       
NFC North:     DET (7-6) and CHI (7-6) have both been shaky, and hold only a ½-game lead over GB Pack at 6-6-1.  Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers is still a spectator, but is itching to get back into uniform.  His broken collarbone doesn’t seem to be healing well.

NFC South:     NOR (10-3) beat Carolina (9-4) in New Orleans on Sunday, 31-13, to take a commanding 1-game lead, as the Saints hold the tiebreaker over the Panthers (which translates to a two-game lead for tiebreaking purposes).   NOR faces CAR in Charlotte in Week #16.

NFC West:      Seattle (11-2) now has only a 2-game lead over SF (9-4) after losing to the Niners on Sunday in San Francisco, 19-17, on a 49’er FG with 31 seconds remaining in the game.  Arizona is still in an uphill battle for a playoff spot at 8-5.  The Seahawks had already clinched a playoff spot before the SF game, but have not yet clinched the division title.

AFC East:       NE (10-3) has at least tied for the division title; the Pats are 3 games ahead of 2nd place MIA at 7-6; the NY Jets are gasping for air at 6-7, but still have a long-shot chance at the last wild card spot.

AFC North:     CIN (9-4) maintained its 2-game lead over BAL (7-6) after both teams won on Sunday.  The Bengals host Baltimore in Week #17.

AFC South:     Indy (8-5) lost on Sunday at Cincinnati, 42-28, but still clinched the division title with a 3-game lead over TEN (5-8) and having beaten them twice (barely, both times) during the season to hold the tiebreaker over the Titans.

AFC West:      DEN (11-2) took charge of the division tiebreaker with two wins in three weeks over KC (10-3), but the Chiefs are in great position for a wild card playoff spot.  SD (6-7) beat the NY Gnats at home on Sunday, 37-14 to stay alive for the last wild card playoff spot.




NFL PLAYOFF PICTURE

Following are the playoff seedings based on the current standings, and of course this is tentative because there are still THREE weeks remaining in the regular season.

NFC SEEDINGS (projected)                          AFC SEEDINGS (projected)
#1        Seattle (11-2)                                      #1        Denver (11-2)
#2        New Orleans (10-3)                            #2        New England (10-3)
#3        Detroit/Chicago (7-6)                          #3        Cincinnati (9-4)
#4        Philadelphia (8-5)                                #4        Indianapolis (8-5)
#5        Carolina (9-4)                                     #5        Kansas City (10-3)
#6        San Francisco (9-4)                            #6        Baltimore/Miami (7-6)

#3 seeds will play #6-seeds in wild card weekend
#4 seeds will play #5-seeds in wild card weekend
#1 and #2 seeds will get a Bye week in the first week of the playoffs

As of right now, following are the teams still in contention for the Wild Card spots (#5 and #6 seeds), in addition to the teams listed above:

NFC

AZ Cardinals at 8-5
DAL Cowboys at 7-6
Non-division winner between DET Lions and CHI Bears at 7-6
GB Packers at 6-6-1

AFC

There are realistically four teams battling for one playoff spot, the #6 seed.
Currently, Miami and Baltimore are tied at 7-6, with San Diego and the NY Jets hanging in there with 6-7 records.


FFHL RESULTS – WEEK FOURTEEN

This week, we FFHL’ers collectively had our best week of the year and posted 50-34-0 (59.5% ATS).  In college, we were 29-24-0 (54.7% ATS), but in the NFL we finally had a decent week at 21-10-0 (67.7% ATS).  We picked 29 underdogs, going a stellar 18-11-0 ATS (62.1%).  In college, our 20 ‘dogs were 12-8-0 ATS (60.0%), and our 9 NFL ‘dogs were 6-3-0 ATS (66.7%).

FFHL LOP-SIDED and CONTESTED PICKS AGAINST THE SPREAD (ATS)

Listed below is a breakdown of some of our significant picks.  We are getting more contentious as the season progresses.

                                    ATS Picks
Team                           For-Against    Result / Unsolicited comments

KC Chiefs -3 at WSH             4-0       WIN, blowout in DC, 45-10
SEA ‘Hawks +3 at SF            4-1       WIN, Niners won only 19-17 to not cover
BAL Ravens -6h vs. MIN       3-0       LOSS, Baltimore won only 29-26 to not cover
TB Bucs -2h vs. BUF             3-0       WIN, Tampa Bay wins handily, 27-6
DEN Broncos -11h vs. TEN   3-0       WIN, Denver takes charge late, wins 51-28
PIT Steelers -3 vs. MIA         3-1       LOSS, Miami scores late to win, 34-28
NY Jets -2h vs. OAK             2-1       WIN, Jets win 37-27 to cover by 7h
NOR Saints -3 vs. CAR         2-1       WIN, New Orleans controls game, wins 31-13

Michigan St +5h vs. Ohio St  7-3       WIN, Spartans upset Buckeyes, 34-24
Auburn -2 vs. Missouri         5-3       WIN, Auburn wins 4th quarter & game, 59-42
UCF -10 at SMU                  5-1       LOSS, Central FL wins only 17-13 to not cover
Fresno State-3 vs. Utah St     4-0       WIN, Bulldogs beat visiting Aggies, 24-17
Florida St -29 vs. Duke         4-1       WIN, Seminoles blow out Blue Devils, 45-7
Okie St -10 vs. Oklahoma      3-2       LOSS, Sooners upset host OSU, 33-24
Marshall -6h at Rice              3-0       LOSS, Owls upset visiting Herd, 41-24

COLLEGE
In the last week of the regular season:
                                                ATS                             Straight-up
                                                Record                        Record

FAVORITES               7-6-0  (53.8%)            8-5  (61.5%)  
HOME TEAMS          7-3-0  (70.0%)            6-4 (60.0%)
            AP TOP 10                  4-3-0   (57.1%)           4-3   (57.1%)

COLLEGE
Cumulative percentages through regular season:

                                                ATS                             Straight-up
                                                Record                        Record
                       
FAVORITES               346-338-12  (50.8%)  550-146 (79.0%)       
HOME TEAMS          341-327-12  (51.3%)  404-276 (59.4%)
AP TOP 10                  60-54-4   (52.5%)       94-24  (79.7%)

And this concludes my tracking of these college statistics.  I’ll come out with a separate analysis of the bowl games by conference in mid-January after the BCS Championship Game.



NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE
NFL – 14th week:

ATS                             STRAIGHT-UP
                                                Record                        Record

FAVORITES               9-7-0  (56.2%)                        13-3-0  (81.2%)         
HOME TEAMS          10-6-0  (62.5%)          14-2-0  (87.5%)


NFL
Cumulative percentages through fourteen weeks:

ATS                             STRAIGHT-UP
                                                Record                        Record

FAVORITES               100-100-7  (50.0%)    139-67-1  (67.4%)     
            HOME TEAMS          110-88-7  (55.4%)      126-78-1  (61.7%)

And the favorites have now covered exactly 50% of the time.  The home teams have done well ATS on the average this year.

LOOKING AHEAD –full slate this week
COLLEGE FOOTBALL - FFHL WEEK #15

Only one game:                     
The Army-Navy game will be played Saturday, December 14th in Philadelphia.
Navy is a 13-point favorite.

NFL WEEK #15 – THE FULL SLATE OF GAMES

Thursday        San Diego +10h at Denver    

Sunday            Divisional Matchups:
                        Houston +6 at Indianapolis
                        New England -2 at Miami
                        Kansas City -4 at Oakland
                        Cincinnati -3 at Pittsburgh
                       
                        Other interesting games:
                        Green Bay at Dallas
                        NY Jets +11 at Carolina

                        And the rest:
                        Washington +6 at Atlanta
                        Chicago at Cleveland
                        Arizona -2h at Tennessee
                        New Orleans -5h at St. Louis
Philadelphia -4h at Minnesota
Seattle -7 at NY Giants
Buffalo -2h at Jacksonville
                        San Francisco -5h at Tampa Bay

Monday          Baltimore +6 at Detroit

FOOTBALL QUIZ QUESTION

QUESTION #1:  Golden Tate has really come into his own this year as a wide receiver and kick returner for the Seattle Seahawks, having been drafted in the 2nd round of the 2010 NFL Draft out of Notre Dame.  What is his real first name?

QUESTION #2:  Denver’s Matt Prater kicked a 64-yard FG in the thin air against Tennessee on Sunday to break the all-time NFL record.  Name the four kickers who previously shared the record at 63 yards.

ANSWER #1:
Golden.
More specifically, Golden H. Tate III.

Bonus Question: What is his father’s name.
Answer: Golden Tate, Jr.

ANSWER #2:
The previous record of 63 yards was shared by Tom Dempsey, Jason Elam, Sebastian Janikowski and David Akers.
Elam and Janikowski also made their record kicks in Denver, where the thin air gives kickers an advantage (unless they’re playing in a snow storm).
Speaking of snow, did you see that DET-PHI game in Philadelphia on Sunday?  Now that was a BLIZZARD BOWL in the first quarter.  And for the whole game, there was only one attempt to try to kick the ball through the uprights, an extra point after touchdown (Detroit called a timeout to be able to clear out a spot on the field for the kicker to have a fighting chance to get the ball airborne), but in the snowy, sloppy conditions, the attempt failed miserably.  However, the long snappers and punters did a great job for the most part.


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