Thursday, December 5, 2013

FOOTBALL NEWS AFTER WEEK THIRTEEN

FROM THE DESK OF THE “FUGITIVE” COMMISSIONER

Hello Football Fans,

We are down to the conference title games in college this weekend, plus a few big games in
conferences without a title game.

In the NFL, there are only four weeks remaining in the regular season.  One team has already clinched a playoff spot.

Enjoy,

The Fugitive Commissioner of the FFHL, junk punted by the oddsmakers



In case you missed it, MICHIGAN STATE is #1 and OHIO STATE is #5 in the latest poll – NCAA Basketball, that is.  OK, let’s move on to football.  These two teams play each other for the Big 10 Title on Saturday, ranked BCS #10 and #2, respectively.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

It was a wild and crazy week on the gridiron.
After two unbeaten teams lost over the weekend, only three undefeated teams remain standing with one more game to play before the bowl games.  One of the three is Northern Illinois, a non-AQ school that will have a good shot at a BCS bowl if they win their conference title game this Friday.  But the NIU Huskies will have virtually no chance to get into the BCS Championship game.  The other two unbeaten teams play in their respective conference title games this Saturday – Florida State vs. Duke in the ACC and Ohio State vs. Michigan State in the Big 10.

THREE SHOCKERS OF THE WEEK

#1 SHOCKER
SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI +14h traveled to Birmingham, AL and trounced UAB, 62-27, in the final game of the season, avoided a second straight 0-12 season.  The Golden Eagles were down 21-13 at halftime, but found something in the locker room and broke their 23-game losing streak with a stellar second half.

#2 SHOCKER
PENN STATE +24 was given a slim chance by the oddsmakers to win at #15 Wisconsin, but the Nittany Lions led 31-14 after scoring a TD early in the 4th quarter.  Back game the Badgers with two TD’s to trail by only seven, but their “Hail Mary” attempt with 9 seconds remaining in the game was unsuccessful and Wisconsin’s comeback effort fell short.
FINAL: PSU 35, WISC 28; and the Badgers hopes for a BCS bowl were dashed.

#3 SHOCKER (in shocking and bizarre fashion)
OK, this game from the Deep South is the one that y’all were waitin’ for.
#4 AUBURN +10h hosted #1 Alabama in the Iron Bowl to determine the winner of the SEC West Division and to help shape the national championship picture.  The Crimson Tide led 21-7 until the home team Tigers scored with less than two minutes in the 2nd quarter to trail only 21-14 at halftime.  Auburn then tied the game with a TD in the 3rd quarter, but ‘Bama responded with a TD early in the 4th quarter to retake the lead by seven.  The Tigers tied the game, 28-28, with 32 seconds remaining in regulation on a 39-yard TD pass.  But the Tide wasn’t done yet, trying to march into field goal range for the game-winning FG with precious little time left before overtime.  With seven seconds on the clock, the visiting Crimson Tide ran one last play…”get out of bounds to stop the clock”, he didn’t get out of bounds in time…wait, instant replay showed that the runner’s foot touched out of bounds with 0:01 still showing on the game clock, giving Alabama one last play from scrimmage in regulation from the Auburn 40-yard line.  Coach Nick Saban decided to try for the 57-yard FG, but the kick was just a bit off-line and short.  The Auburn kick returner was waiting for that failed FG attempt, caught it eight yards deep in the end zone, and returned it 108 yards to paydirt for the victory with no time on the clock.
FINAL: AUB 34, ALA 28; and the Crimson Tide’s chances to return to the BCS Championship game for a third straight year were dealt a severe blow after losing its first game of the year.  Alabama QB A.J. McCarron’s run at the Heisman Trophy was also compromised by the loss.

FOUR “NOT QUITE” SHOCKERS

ARKANSAS +24h was leading at #17 LSU, 17-14, at intermission and still 27-21 after three quarters.  The host Tigers kicked a FG with 5 minutes remaining in the 4th quarter, but still trailed by three.  LSU QB Zach Mettenberger got injured, so on the Tigers’ next possession freshman backup QB Anthony Jennings took charge and engineered a 99-yard TD drive that ended on a 49-yard touchdown reception with only 1:15 remaining for the game winner.
FINAL: LSU 31, ARK 27.

SOUTH FLORIDA +27h was a huge underdog at #19 Central Florida, but in a tightly contested game the whole way, the USF Bulls took the lead early in the 4th quarter with a TD to go ahead 20-16.  UCF came back with a TD drive and scored with 5 minutes remaining in the game to eke out a victory and clinch a tie for the AAC conference title.  UCF lost the turnover battle 5-2, which helped keep big underdog USF in the game.
FINAL: UCF 23, USF 20

OREGON STATE +22 traveled to struggling #13 Oregon for the “Civil War” and gave the Ducks everything they had.  Oregon led 14-0 early but by halftime the score was tied, 17-17.  The OSU Beavers scored a TD with 11 minutes remaining in the game to lead 29-24 (two-point PAT failed), but the fireworks had just begun.  The OU Ducks responded with 8 minutes left on a 4th-and-11 conversion for the go-ahead TD (two-point PAT failed), leading only 30-29.  Oregon State came back with another go-ahead TD with only 1½ minutes remaining in regulation (2-point PAT failed), leading 35-30.  The Ducks had one last chance, and were successful in marching quickly down the field on a 9-play, 83-yard drive in just over 1 minute for the winning TD with 29 seconds to go (2-point PAT failed).
FINAL: OU 36, OSU 35.

MICHIGAN +14h hosted #3 Ohio State with a chance to spoil their rival’s shot at the national title game.  The game was tied 14-14 after the first quarter and 21-21 at halftime, but the OSU Buckeyes scored two unanswered TD’s in the 3rd quarter to lead 35-21 going into the final stanza.  The Wolverines responded with two TD’s of their own, the second score coming with 5 minutes remaining in regulation.  Ohio State then scored again at 2:20, but Michigan came right back and scored with 32 seconds left to make the score 42-41 OSU, with the extra point try pending.  Coach Brady Hoke decided to go for two to win the game, the attempt failed, and the game did not go into an overtime period.
FINAL: OSU 42, MICH 41.

FBS ACTION – UNDERDOG WINNERS

In FBS college games last weekend, 15 underdogs won their games outright out of 59 games, or 25.4% (last week 24.0%).  Three of the upsets were mentioned above.  Following are the other twelve:

Iowa State +7h won a wild one at West Virginia in triple overtime, 52-44.  The Cyclones were behind 31-7 in mid-2nd quarter and still behind 38-21 in the fourth quarter after WVU scored a TD, but ISU scored 17 points after that including the game-tying TD with 1 minute remaining to extend the game into OT and then prevail.

Iowa +2h won at Nebraska, 38-17, to win in Lincoln, NE for the first time since 1941, capturing the “Heroes Trophy” for the first time.  The Hawkeyes took advantage of three Cornhusker turnovers early and had good field position most of the game, but Big Red got within seven points after scoring a TD early in the 4th quarter, trailing only 24-17, before Iowa pulled away.  The ‘Huskers outgained Iowa from scrimmage, 288-282, but lost the turnover battle 3-0.  Iowa LB Christian Kirksey was named National Defensive Player of the Week by the Camp Foundation.

Mississippi State +4h beat visiting Mississippi in the Egg Bowl, 17-10, in overtime to become bowl eligible with a 6-6 record.  The MSU Bulldogs brought in their injured sophomore QB Dak Prescott in the 4th quarter to put together the game-tying FG in regulation and then he engineered the game-winning TD drive in overtime.  Ole Miss got its only TD of the game on a blocked punt in the first half.

UCLA +3h won at the Los Angeles Coliseum over host USC, 35-14, to stop the momentum built up by the Trojans’ interim coach Ed Orgeron.  On Monday, Southern California hired Steve Sarkisian to be the head coach for next year.  Orgeron resigned and will look for employment elsewhere (he wasn’t happy to not get the HC job), after turning down a generous financial offer from USC and AD Pat Haden to become the assistant head coach.
Sarkisian played QB at BYU and then in the CFL.  He coached with the Trojans in various capacities from 2001 through 2003 and 2005 through 2008 (with Oakland Raiders in 2004 as QB coach), eventually becoming the assistant HC and offensive coordinator/QB coach (2007-08).  He then signed with the University of Washington as head coach from 2009 through 2013.

Akron +7h beat visiting Toledo, 31-29.

San Jose State +7 beat visiting #16 Fresno State, 62-52, to become bowl eligible and knock the Bulldogs from the unbeaten ranks and down to BCS #23.

Syracuse +2h beat visiting Boston College, 34-31, scoring the winning TD with 6 seconds remaining in the game.  BC’s Heisman hopeful RB Andre Williams was injured early in the 3rd quarter and did not return, which definitely hurt his chances of winning the Heisman Trophy.  His shoulder injury should be healed for their bowl game.  With the upset, the Orange became bowl eligible with a 6-6 overall record.

Duke +6h eked out a win at North Carolina, 27-25, to clinch the ACC Coastal Division title, earning the right to face unbeaten Florida State in the title game on Saturday.

Connecticut +3 beat visiting Rutgers, 28-17, to spoil the Scarlet Knights’ attempt to become bowl eligible (still has one more shot on Saturday vs. USF).  The UCONN Huskies scored two unanswered TD’s in the 4th quarter to take the lead and prevail.

Temple +8h won at Memphis, 41-21.

UNLV +3h handily beat visiting San Diego State, 45-19.

Louisiana-Monroe +14h beat rival Louisiana-Lafayette, 31-28, and with the huge upset became bowl eligible with a 6-6 record overall.

CONFERENCE STANDINGS

BCS Automatic Qualifier “AQ” Conferences

PAC-12
SOUTH         ARIZONA STATE (8-1)
NORTH        STANFORD (7-2); Oregon at 7-2 lost the tiebreaker, having lost to the Cardinal earlier in the year.
TITLE GAME:         To be played this Saturday, 4:45PM Pacific, ESPN; it’s a home game for ASU vs. Stanford, after the Sun Devils trounced visiting Arizona 58-21 last weekend.
          Winner goes to the Rose Bowl.

SEC
EAST  MISSOURI (7-1) beat visiting Texas A&M last Saturday, 28-21 to clinch the division title.
WEST AUBURN (7-1) clinched the division title with a 34-28 most incredible win over visiting Alabama (7-1) in Saturday’s Iron Bowl.  The Tigers have won their last two games in unbelievable fashion (extremely fortunate).
TITLE GAME:         To be played at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA this Saturday
                    Missouri Tigers vs. Auburn Tigers; 4PM Eastern, CBS
                   
BIG XII         OKLAHOMA STATE (7-1) currently holds the tiebreaker over TEXAS (7-1) and BAYLOR (7-1).  OSU hosts Oklahoma (6-2) and Baylor hosts Texas on Saturday.
          Okie State determines its own fate, and the Big XII Conference winner gets an automatic BCS Bowl berth.
TITLE GAME:         NONE

BIG TEN
LEGENDS    MICHIGAN STATE (8-0)
LEADERS     OHIO STATE (8-0)
TITLE GAME:         MSU vs. OSU at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis this Saturday; 8PM Eastern, FOX
          Unbeaten Ohio State is playing for a spot in the BCS title game (probably, unless a one-loss SEC team jumps over the Buckeyes)
                              Michigan State is playing for Rose Bowl berth.

ACC
ATLANTIC    FLORIDA STATE (8-0)
COASTAL     DUKE (6-2) won at North Carolina (4-4) to earn the division title, beating out three teams at 5-3: Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Miami of Florida.
TITLE GAME:         FSU vs. Duke, to be played in Charlotte, NC, this Saturday; 8PM Eastern, ABC; Florida State goes to BCS title game with win; Duke will get automatic Orange Bowl berth with win.

“THE AMERICAN”  
AAC   CENTRAL FLORIDA (7-0) still needs to win at SMU on Saturday to win the conference outright.  LOUISVILLE and CINCINNATI are lurking at 6-1; the Cardinals play at Cincy this Thursday, December 5th.  The conference champion is an automatic qualifier for a BCS Bowl.
          If UCF loses to SMU, the tiebreaker for the conference title still goes to UCF if Louisville beats Cincinnati (UCF won at Louisville 38-35 earlier in the year); but if Cincinnati wins that game, the CIN Bearcats would win the tiebreaker with a loss at SMU by UCF.
TITLE GAME:         NONE

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

SUN BELT    LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE (5-1) has only a 1/2-game lead over ARKANSAS STATE (5-2), and must win at South Alabama on Saturday to win the conference title outright.  The ASU Red Wolves finished their regular season last Saturday with a heartbreaking 34-31 loss at Western Kentucky.
On Saturday, the ULL Ragin’ Cajuns play at S. Alabama; the SA Jaguars need a win to become bowl eligible.
TITLE GAME:         NONE

C-USA         
EAST  MARSHALL (7-1) crushed East Carolina last Friday, 59-28, to clinch the division title over ECU and Middle Tennessee, who finished 6-2.
WEST RICE (7-1) clinched the division with a 17-13 win over Tulane, and beat out North Texas and UTSA, who sported 6-2 records in the conference.
TITLE GAME:         Home game for highest ranked, so the Owls get the nod;
Marshall at Rice this Saturday, 11AM Eastern, ESPN2

MAC            
EAST  BOWLING GREEN (7-1) beat Buffalo (6-2) on Friday night, 24-7, to clinch the division title.
WEST NORTHERN ILLINOIS (8-0)
TITLE GAME:         Bowling Green vs. Northern ILL at Ford Field, Detroit, MI (NFL Detroit Lions’ home field) this Friday night.

MW
WEST FRESNO STATE (7-1)
Mountain      UTAH STATE (7-1) convincingly beat Wyoming last Saturday, 35-7, to wrap up the division title over Boise State (6-2).
         
MOUNTAIN WEST
TITLE GAME:         This is the inaugural championship game in the restructured 12-team conference.  The higher BCS-ranked division winner is #23 Fresno State, and earns home field advantage; the Bulldogs will host Utah State this Saturday at 8PM Mountain Time, CBS.
         
COLLEGE POLLS as of December 1, 2013

Following is a comparison of the latest (and penultimate) BCS poll, and the most recent AP rankings.

BCS RANK         SU                    RANK
TEAM           RECORD      AP Poll         Comments


#1 Florida St       12-0       #1 (58)         ACC title game Sat. vs. #20 Duke
#2 Ohio State      12-0       #2                Big 10 title game Sat. vs. #10 Mich.St.
#3 Auburn          11-1       #3  ( 2)         SEC title game Sat. vs. #5 Missouri
#4 Alabama         11-1       #4                Lost at Auburn last Sat. to drop from #1
#5 Missouri         11-1       #5                SEC title game Sat. vs. #3 Auburn
#6 Okla. State      10-1      #6                Cowboys host #17 Oklahoma on Sat.
#7 Stanford         10-2       #7                PAC-12 title game at #11 AZ St. on Sat.
#8 S.Carolina       10-2       #8                Beat Clemson to move up from #10
#9 Baylor             10-1       #9                Bears hosts Texas on Saturday
#10 Michigan St   11-1       #10               Big 10 title game Sat. vs. #2 Ohio State
#11 Arizona St     10-2       #11               Pac-12 title game Sat. vs. #7 Stanford
#12 Oregon         10-2       #12              
#13 Clemson       10-2       #13               Lost at S. Carolina last Sat. to drop from #6
#14 N. Illinois      12-0       #16               MAC title game on Fri. vs. Bowling Green
#15 LSU               9-3       #14              
#16 Central FL     10-1      #15               UCF Knights play at SMU on Saturday
#17 Oklahoma      9-2        #18               Plays at #6 Oklahoma State on Saturday
#18 UCLA           9-3        #17              
#19 Louisville     10-1        #19               Plays finale at Cincinnati on Thursday
#20 Duke           10-2        #20               ACC title game vs. #1 FSU on Sat.
#21 Wisconsin      9-3        #21              
#22 Georgia          8-4       #25              
#23 Fresno State  10-1       #24               Game vs. Colorado Sept 14th was cancelled
#24 TX A&M        8-4       #22              
#25 Texas              8-3      #23               ‘Horns play at #9 Baylor on Saturday

With losses last weekend, USC and Notre Dame dropped out of the BCS Top 25; Georgia and Texas moved into the BCS Top 25.

The AP Poll has the same Top 13 in the exact same order as the BCS rankings, and also has the same Top 25 teams as the BCS rankings, albeit in slightly different order.

According to the BCS averages, #1 Florida State at .9948 is the clear top team, but #2 Ohio State at .9503 is not that far ahead of one-loss #3 Auburn at .9233.  Alabama is a distant #4 at .8539.  Ohio State most likely will solidify its #2 position and a spot in the BCS Championship with a win over #10 Michigan State in the Big 10 title game.

The six computers:
The metal midgets have the same Top 5 in exactly the same order.  Only 4 of the 6 computers have FSU #1 (one computer has them ranked #4, behind #1AUB, #2OH.St, #3Mizzu); Ohio State and Auburn got the #1 ranking from the other two computers.
One of the computers has Northern Illinois ranked #2 behind FSU but ahead of Ohio State at #3.

In the overall computer rankings, Arizona State is #6 and Stanford is #7.

First place votes in the human polls (last week’s results in parentheses):

USA             Harris
Team                      AP Poll         Today           Interactive    

#1 Florida State         58 (4)                     58 (6)                       97 (5)
#2 Ohio State             0  (0)                      4  (0)                        5   (0)
#3 Auburn                 2  (0)                      0  (0)                        3   (0)
#4 Alabama                0 (56)                     0 (56)                       0   (99)

COLLEGE BOWL GAMES – A PREVIEW

There are 35 bowl games this year, including four BCS Bowls plus the BCS National Championship Game.  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 very few games still to play in the regular season, 77 teams have become bowl eligible; 46 schools have been eliminated.  That leaves only 3 teams still with a chance to become bowl eligible: SMU, Rutgers, and South Alabama, all currently at 5-6.
And following is a summary of the 12 teams that were fighting for eligibility going into last weekend:

                              Current         Wk#13                    After last weekend’s games
TEAM                     RECORD      Result           STATUS

SMU                       5-6               LOSS           Still fighting for bowl eligibility
Rutgers                   5-6               LOSS                     Still fighting for bowl eligibility
Syracuse                 6-6               WIN              BOWL ELIGIBLE
Florida Atlantic        6-6                WIN              BOWL ELIGIBLE
Central Michigan      6-6               WIN              BOWL ELIGIBLE
San Jose State          6-6               WIN              BOWL ELIGIBLE
Colorado State          7-6               WIN              BOWL ELIGIBLE
Wyoming                 5-7               LOSS            Not bowl eligible
Mississippi State       6-6               WIN              BOWL ELIGIBLE
Louisiana-Monroe     6-6               WIN              BOWL ELIGIBLE
Troy                        6-6               WIN              BOWL ELIGIBLE
South Alabama          5-6               WIN              Still fighting for bowl eligibility

If all three of the teams fighting for bowl eligibility win this weekend, there will be 80 eligible teams for 70 spots, leaving ten teams at home for the postseason.  Some of my loyal readers believe that teams should have a winning record to be bowl eligible anyway (not a lame 6-6 record).  We’ll take a look later at the teams that get snubbed.

HEISMAN TROPHY UPDATE

What a strange year this has been for Heisman hopefuls.  There was a wild turn-around after weak performances by several QB’s two weekends ago.  And after this last weekend’s performances, Boston College’s RB dropped from #2 to #8 (got injured and played only one half last week) and Northern Illinois’ QB Jordan Lynch jumped from #4 to the runner-up spot in the projections.
Here is a comparison of the current Heisman Straw Poll (per Heismanpundit.com, ten anonymous Heisman voters, the most trusted gauge of Heisman voters) and their projections the previous two weeks  (total points based on 3-2-1 for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place, and 1st place votes in parentheses):

                                                  12/3/13
PLAYER (SCHOOL)                              Today           Nov 26          th          Nov 19TH    

QB Jameis Winston (FSU)                        24  (7)                    #1  18 (6)      #1  20  (6)     
QB Jordan Lynch (N. Illinois)                   18  (3)                    #4  7  (1)              2         
QB Braxton Miller (Ohio State)                   4  (0)                    no points               0
QB A.J. McCarron (Alabama)                    4  (0)                    #3  8  (2)              2
QB Bryce Petty (Baylor)                            3  (0)                    #7  2  (0)      #3  11  (1)
QB Marcus Mariotta (Oregon)                    2                #6  3  (1)      #4    6  (1)   
DT Aaron Donald (Pittsburgh)                    2                #8  1  (0)              0
RB Andre Williams (BC)                             1  (0)                    #2  16 (0)              1
QB Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M)               0                #5  4  (0)      #2  18  (2)              
QB Derek Carr (Fresno State)                     0                #8  1  (0)              0         

Final ballots from all Heisman voters are due next Monday, December 9th.
Many voters have not made a decision yet, as they want to wait until the last possible moment to see what happens with the Jameis Winston situation (see below).

Comments:
Top of the List:
Florida State’s Winston may or may not be charged with sexual assault based on a December 2012 incident.  A decision is not expected at a specific time just to cooperate or coordinate with any football schedules, which makes logical sense.  This is not a football matter.  Although Winston would be the clear winner without this “lack of integrity” issue, many voters may instead vote for either Jordan Lynch or A.J. McCarron.
And consider this: even if Winston gets the most votes, he could be eliminated from the competition if the Heisman Trophy Trust gets “lack of integrity” information after the final voting and before the ceremony.  It’s their prerogative, as we have already seen when Reggie Bush had to relinquish his trophy.  The Heisman Trust Mission Statement is presented below.

Runner-up:
Jordan Lynch has racked up Herculean statistics playing QB for Northern Illinois, both passing and rushing.  However, the knock on his numbers is that he played against inferior competition.  That’s why players from big name teams usually win the award.  The last few winners from “small” schools were QB Andre Ware from Houston U. in 1989 and QB Ty Detmer from BYU in 1990.  Before that, it was QB Roger Staubach from Navy in 1963 (and I believe back then Navy was a major school program).

Distant Thirds on the list:
Alabama QB A.J. McCarron dropped significantly in points from last week, even though he had a good game at Auburn last Saturday, accented by his 99-yard TD pass when it was really needed in the 4th quarter.  Go figure.
Ohio State QB Braxton Miller entered the poll with a smattering of points (4) to tie with McCarron in the penultimate straw poll projection.

The final HeismanPundit.com straw poll results will come out December 10th, and the actual Heisman Trophy presentation will be held Saturday, December 14th.

Heisman Trust Mission Statement

The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity. Winners epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work. The Heisman Trophy Trust ensures the continuation and integrity of this award. The Trust, furthermore, has a charitable mission to support amateur athletics and to provide greater opportunities to the youth of our country. Our goal through these charitable endeavors is for the Heisman Trophy to symbolize the fostering of a sense of community responsibility and service to our youth, especially those disadvantaged or afflicted. All assets of the Trust beyond the expense of maintaining the annual presentation of the Heisman Memorial Trophy are reserved for such charitable causes. The Trustees, who all serve pro bono, are guided by a devotion to college football and are committed to community service and the valued tradition which the Trophy represents.

NFL

NFL WEEK #13 – UNDERDOG WINNERS

In pro games this week, only THREE underdogs won their games outright out of 16 games, or 18.8% (last week 42.9%). 

Jacksonville +7 won at Cleveland, 32-28, scoring the game-winning TD with 40 seconds remaining in the 4th quarter.  Since its bye week, the Jaguars have won three of their last four games.

Miami +2 won convincingly at NY Jets, 23-3, as the Jets could not take off in the air, as two Jet QB’s combined for a net 78 yards passing for the game.  The Dolphins are keeping their playoff hopes alive, sporting a 6-6 record and tied with Baltimore for the #6 seed in the playoffs.

Atlanta +3 beat host Buffalo in Toronto, 34-31 in overtime.  The Bills were ahead 14-0 early, but it was tied 17-17 at halftime.  Buffalo retook the lead early in the 4th quarter, 31-24, but allowed the Falcons to score the tying TD with 1½ minutes remaining in regulation, after which Atlanta prevailed in OT.

TIE AGAINST THE SPREAD:
Philadelphia -3 never trailed in this game and was ahead of visiting Arizona 24-7 in mid-3rd quarter, but gave up two TD’s to the Cardinals, one with 5 minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter and one with 5 minutes left in the game, so the Eagles won only 24-21 and the result was a tie ATS.  Eagles’ QB Nick Foles, after taking over for injured Michael Vick and then stealing his job, has thrown 19 TD’s on the year, with ZERO interceptions.

NFL AFTER WEEK #13

Every team has now played 12 games, with four more games remaining in the regular season (Weeks #14 through #17).

NFC East:     PHI and DAL are tied at 7-5, two games ahead of NYG (5-7).
          The Eagles play at Dallas in Week #17, likely to decide which team makes the playoffs.
                   
NFC North:   DET (7-5) is one game ahead of CHI (6-6); the GB Pack is lurking only 1½ games back at 5-6-1, but QB Aaron Rodgers still may not start again this week.

NFC South:   Great 2-team race: NOR (9-3) and Carolina (9-3) are tied, and the Saints and Panthers face each other this Sunday in New Orleans and again in Charlotte in Week #16.

NFC West:    Seattle (11-1) has 3-game lead over SF (8-4); AZ is still in an uphill battle for a playoff spot at 7-5.  The Seahawks clinched a playoff spot with their dominating win on Monday night over the NOR Saints, 34-7.

AFC East:     NE (9-3) leads by 3 games over MIA at 6-6; the NY Jets are gasping for air at 5-7, but still alive for a playoff spot.

AFC North:   CIN (8-4) has a 2-game lead over BAL (6-6).  The Bengals host Baltimore in Week #17.  Pittsburgh (5-7) is still alive for a playoff spot.

AFC South:   Indy (8-4) has a 3-game lead over TEN (5-7) after beating them in Indianapolis last Sunday, 22-14.  Leading 15-14 after three quarters, the Colts (favored by 4) scored an “insurance” TD with 2 minutes left in the game to cover the spread.

AFC West:    DEN (10-2) took charge of the division tiebreaker with two wins in three weeks over KC (9-3), but the Chiefs are in great position for a wild card playoff spot.  SD (5-7) lost at home to CIN on Sunday, 17-10, but is still mathematically alive for a 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 FOUR weeks remaining in the regular season.

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

#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, very tentatively, 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 7-5
Non-division winner between DAL Cowboys and PHI Eagles (7-5)
CHI Bears at 6-6
GB Packers at 5-6-1
Long-shots:
STL Rams and NY Giants at 5-7

AFC

There are six teams battling for one playoff spot, the #6 seed.
Currently, Miami and Baltimore are tied at 6-6, with four other teams still desperately lurking at 5-7: San Diego, Tennessee, NY Jets, and Pittsburgh

NFL MVP AWARD – PRELIMINARY THOUGHTS

Denver QB Peyton Manning is the favorite right now.
But consider sophomore QB Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks, who has led his team to an 11-1 record so far this season.
Also, Detroit WR Calvin “Megatron” Johnson is just a beast, and puts up great numbers as well.
QB Cam Newton is having another good year, his 3rd, with the Carolina Panthers, who are a surprising 9-3 and tied with New Orleans for the NCF South Division lead.

FFHL RESULTS – WEEK THIRTEEN

This week, we FFHL’ers collectively had our worst week of the year and posted 26-54-4 (33.3% ATS).  In college, we were pathetic at 17-41-1 (29.7% ATS), and in the NFL we struggled again at 9-13-3 (42.0% ATS).  We picked 23 underdogs, going only 7-15-1 ATS (32.6%).  In college, our 12 ‘dogs were 4-8-0 ATS (33.3%), and our 11 NFL ‘dogs were 3-7-1 ATS (31.8%).



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

NE Pats -7 at HOU                        3-0     LOSS, New England wins only 34-31
IND Colts -4 vs. TENN                 3-1     WIN, late Indy TD to cover, 22-14
PHI Eagles -3 vs. AZ                     2-1     TIE, Philly wins only 24-21
SF 49’ers -7h vs. STL Rams          1-1     WIN, Niners win 23-13 to cover by 2h
SEA Seahawks -5 vs. NOR            1-1     WIN, blowout over Saints at home, 34-7
DET Lions -6h vs. GB Pack           1-1     WIN, Thanksgiving blowout, 40-10
DAL Cowboys -9h vs. OAK           1-1     LOSS, Dallas wins only 31-24

Baylor -12h at TCU                       5-0     LOSS, Bears win only 41-38
Ohio State -14h at MICH               5-1     LOSS, Buckeyes barely win 42-41
Fresno St -7 at SJ State                 3-0     LOSS, upset at San Jose, 62-52
Florida St -27 at Florida                 3-0     WIN, Seminoles barely cover in 37-7 win
LSU -24h vs. Arkansas                  2-1     LOSS, Tigers lucky just to win, 31-27
Missouri -4h vs. TX A&M             2-1     WIN, Tigers win 28-21 to cover by 2h

COLLEGE
In the 14th week of college games:
                                        ATS                        Straight-up
                                        Record                   Record

FAVORITES                  24-34-1  (41.5%)     44-15  (74.6%)  
HOME TEAMS              27-30-1  (47.4%)     37-21 (63.8%)
          AP TOP 10             4-5-0     (44.4%)     7-2     (77.8%)

COLLEGE
Cumulative percentages through fourteen weeks:

                                        ATS                        Straight-up
                                        Record                             Record
                   
FAVORITES           339-332-12  (50.5%)         542-141 (79.4%)    
HOME TEAMS        334-324-12  (50.7%)         398-272 (59.4%)
AP TOP 10             56-51-4    (52.3%)   90-21  (81.1%)
Both the favorites (50.5% ATS) and home teams (50.7% ATS) regressed closer to the mean (50%) ATS, and the bookies are generally happy about that because they don’t want to see any “trends” or biases.


NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE
NFL – 13th week:
ATS                        STRAIGHT-UP
                                        Record                   Record

FAVORITES           8-6-1  (56.7%)                  12-3-0  (80.0%)      
HOME TEAMS        7-7-1  (50.0%)                  9-6-0  (60.0%)

NFL
Cumulative percentages through thirteen weeks:

ATS                        STRAIGHT-UP
                                        Record                   Record

FAVORITES           91-93-7  (49.5%)     126-64-1  (66.2%)  
          HOME TEAMS        100-82-7  (54.8%)   112-76-1  (59.5%)

LOOKING AHEAD –full slate this week
COLLEGE FOOTBALL - FFHL WEEK #14

Thursday      #19 Louisville -3h at Cincinnati
DEC 5th

Friday           CONFERENCE TITLE GAME:
                    MAC  Bowling Green +3 vs. Northern Illinois in Detroit

Saturday       CONFERENCE TITLE GAMES:
                    PAC-12 Stanford +3 at Arizona State               4:45PM Pacific
SEC  Missouri +2 vs. Auburn in Atlanta            Tigers vs. Tigers
BIG 10  Michigan State +5h vs. Ohio State                 in Indianapolis
ACC  Florida State -29 vs. Duke                       in Charlotte, NC
C-USA  Marshall -4h at Rice
MW  Utah State +3h at Fresno State                          8PM Mountain

Other matchups:
                    #25 Texas +14h at #9 Baylor                
                    #17 Oklahoma +9h at #6 OKL State       Both teams off “bye” week
                    #16 Central Florida at SMU                              (no line yet)
                    South Florida +6 at Rutgers
                    Memphis (Pick’em) at Connecticut
                    Louisiana-Lafayette +3 at South Alabama
                   
Note:  The Army-Navy game will be played December 14th in Philadelphia.


                                       
NFL WEEK #14 – SELECTED GAMES

Thursday      Houston -3 at Jacksonville Ugly matchup for NFL Network

Sunday         Divisional Matchups:
                    Carolina +3 at New Orleans                   Top NFC South teams clash
                    Seattle +3 at San Francisco        
                    St. Louis +6 at Arizona               
                   
                    Other interesting games:
                    Indianapolis +6 at Cincinnati
                    Detroit +2h at Philadelphia
                    Miami +3 at Pittsburgh                

Monday        Dallas +1h at Chicago

FOOTBALL QUIZ QUESTION

Sorry, none this week.  Your brain should be tired by now, anyway, if you read and absorbed all the info above.

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