FROM THE DESK OF THE “FUGITIVE” COMMISSIONER
Hello Football Fans,
And in the NFL only eight teams are still alive in the playoffs, with the conference semifinal games this weekend.
The Fugitive Commissioner of the FFHL
The College Football Playoff semifinals did not disappoint, with exciting atmospheres at both the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl. Oregon (an 8-point favorite) won in Pasadena and Ohio State (an 8-point underdog) won in New Orleans; these two winners will play for the CFP National Title on Monday, January 12, 2015 in Arlington, TX (Cowboys Stadium, “JerryWorld”).
Oregon is currently listed as a 6½ to 7-point favorite over Ohio State.
THE BOWL GAMES
FINISHING UP FFHL WEEK #17
Tuesday Dec 30th
LSU (-7) vs. Notre Dame Nashville, TN
UPSET RESULTS: ND 31, LSU 28
In an evenly played game, the ND Irish and LSU Tigers traded touchdowns for three quarters and were tied at 28-28; the only scoring in the 4th quarter was on the last play of regulation – the winning 32-yard FG after a 14-play, 71-yard drive. Notre Dame blocked an LSU 40-yard FG attempt earlier in the 4th quarter.
And if you watched the game, you saw a controversial call at the end of the first half whereby an LSU fake FG play was ruled “not a TD”.
Georgia (-7) vs. Louisville Charlotte, NC
RESULTS: UGA 37, LOUIS 14
Stanford (-14) vs. Maryland Santa Clara, CA
RESULTS: STAN 45, MARY 21
Wednesday Dec 31st
PEACH BOWL Atlanta, GA
TCU (-3) vs. Mississippi
RESULTS: TCU 42, MISS 3
FIESTA BOWL Glendale, AZ
Arizona (-3) vs. Boise State
UPSET RESULTS: BOISE 38, AZ 30
ORANGE BOWL Miami, FL
Miss St (-7) vs. GA Tech
UPSET RESULTS: GA.TK 49, MS.ST 34
AND THE START OF FFHL WEEK #18
Thursday Jan 1st
Auburn (-6) vs. Wisconsin Tampa, FL
UPSET RESULTS: WISC 34, AUB 31 (OT)
Missouri (-4h) vs. Minnesota Orlando, FL
RESULTS: MIZZU 33, MINN 17
Baylor (-2h) vs. Michigan St COTTON BOWL Arlington, TX
UPSET RESULTS: MI.ST 42, BAYL 41
The BU Bears were leading 41-21 heading into the final quarter, but the MSU Spartans scored two TD’s to get back into the game, behind only 41-35 with five minutes to go. Baylor drove into position for a 43-yard FG that would have made it a “two-score” game with 1:05 remaining in regulation play. But Sparty blocked the potential game-clinching FG, marched for another TD and completed the miraculous comeback for victory.
FACT: Michigan State’s only losses this year were against the two teams playing for the national championship – Oregon and Ohio State.
CFP PLAYOFF GAMES:
#2 Oregon (-8) vs. #3 Florida State ROSE BOWL Pasadena, CA
BLOWOUT RESULTS: OU 59, FSU 20
The Oregon Ducks took advantage of five FSU turnovers to waltz into the NCAA championship game.
OU was only ahead 25-20 after Florida State scored a TD with 8 minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter. But in the next 13 minutes of clock time, the FSU Seminoles turned the ball over on four straight drives and the opportunistic Ducks capitalized and led 59-20 with 10 minutes remaining in the game.
#1 Alabama (-8h) vs. #4 Ohio State SUGAR BOWL New Orleans, LA
UPSET RESULTS: OH.ST 42, ALA 35
The OSU Buckeyes outlasted the Crimson Tide in a game with several serious momentum changes.
Alabama jumped out to a big 21-6 lead after scoring a TD in mid-2nd quarter, but Ohio State scored two TD’s before halftime to trail only 21-20 and then scored the first two TD’s of the second half to take a 34-21 lead with 3:21 remaining in the 3rd quarter. The Crimson Tide scored two minutes later to trail by only six points, but could get no closer in the fourth quarter.
Both teams had three turnovers in the game.
Friday Jan 2nd
Pittsburgh (-3) vs. Houston Fort Worth, TX
UPSET RESULTS: HOU 35, PITT 34
The Houston Cougars came through with the biggest 4th quarter comeback in bowl history. The PITT Panthers scored a TD with 14 minutes remaining in the final quarter to lead 31-6, and then still held a convincing 34-13 lead after kicking a FG with only 6:14 on the clock. But the HOU Cougars scored three TD’s in the last 4 minutes of the game, including the last TD with one minute remaining in regulation play to trail only 34-33 (needing only the extra point kick to tie). Houston decided to “go for two” and the successful PAT completed the amazing comeback victory.
There were no turnovers in the game by either team.
Tennessee (-3h) vs. Iowa Jacksonville, FL
RESULTS: TENN 45, IOWA 28
Ugly: Speed kills! The Hawkeyes did not have enough speed to contain the Volunteers and this game was over early.
Kansas State (+1) vs. UCLA San Antonio, TX
RESULTS: UCLA 40, KSU 35
The Bruins were ahead 31-6 at halftime, but the KSU Wildcats made a courageous comeback attempt and trailed only 34-28 after scoring a TD with 5 minutes remaining in the game. But UCLA responded with a 67-yard TD run. Kansas State came right back and scored a TD with 1:21 showing on the clock, but recovery of the ensuing “behind-the-back” tricky onside kick was unsuccessful and the Bruins prevailed.
Washington (-6) vs. Oklahoma St. Tempe, AZ
UPSET RESULTS: OSU 30, UW 22
Saturday Jan 3rd
Florida (-6h) vs. East Carolina Birmingham, AL
RESULTS: FL 28, ECU 20
Sunday Jan 4th
Toledo (-4) vs. Arkansas State Mobile, AL
RESULTS: TOL 63, ARK.ST 44
THE POST-SEASON HAS BEGUN
WILD CARD WEEKEND
All of the home teams were favored to win in last weekend’s wild card games.
Three of the four home teams won their games, with the exception being Pittsburgh’s loss to visiting Baltimore.
#5 Arizona (+6) at #4 Carolina
RESULTS: CAR 27, AZ 16
The AZ Cardinals generated only 78 net yards from scrimmage with 4th-team QB Ryan Lindley running the offense; a solid season by Arizona was derailed by injuries to starting QB Carson Palmer and backup Drew Stanton (and rookie Logan Thomas was deemed by the coaching staff “not ready to start”).
The CAR Panthers improved their season record to 8-8-1.
#6 Detroit (+7) at #3 Dallas
RESULTS: DAL 24, DET 20
The game was a travesty, if you ask me.
Detroit was leading 20-17 with 8:25 remaining in the game; the Lions were facing 3rd-and-1 and threw a pass down field…the yellow flag flew…defensive pass interference on Dallas, and everyone in the booth agreed with the call, including former VP of NFL officials Mike Pereira and Cowboy honk Troy Aikman. The referee even announced the penalty and “first down” for the Lions. The next thing we knew, the penalty had been picked up and Detroit faced 4th down, after which a shanked punt netted only 10 yards. Had the penalty been accessed, Detroit would have had 1st-and-10 at the Dallas 29-yard line (and in field goal range). It was a gift playoff victory handed to the host Cowboys; the current head of NFL officials, Dean Blandino, admitted that “defensive holding” should have been called earlier on that same controversial play (on the same Cowboy linebacker) when he grabbed the jersey of the Lions TE who was later “interfered with” farther downfield.
Detroit still hasn’t won playoff game since the 1991 season, and tied the NFL record for most consecutive playoff losses (current/active streak of eight games).
Ndamukong Suh won his appeal for dirty play (stepping on Aaron Rodgers) and did not get suspended for this playoff game; instead, he was fined $70,000. Suh had been taken off the “repeat offenders” list only one week before the Green Bay game - after 32 games without a violation. His last “violation” was a $100K fine for an illegal block during Week #1 of the 2013 season, after which he played 15 games in 2013, three preseason games for 2014 and then 15 regular season games in 2014, or a total of 33 games. Basically, he wasn’t held accountable for his previous indiscretions/violations.
[Editorial Comment: this was a bad decision by the NFL appeals officer Ted Cottrell; a mere fine will not provide any future disincentive and could set an ugly precedent.]
[One more: before the 2014 season, the NFL tabled a potential rule change that would have allowed coaches to challenge penalty calls; Bill Belichick and I still say it was a mistake to not institute that change. It will be discussed again before the 2015 season, especially after this playoff game debacle.]
#6 Baltimore (+3) at #3 Pittsburgh
UPSET RESULTS: BAL 30, PIT 17
#5 Cincinnati (+3h) at #4 Indianapolis
RESULTS: IND 26, CIN 10
Cincinnati hasn’t won a playoff game since the 1990 season.
UPCOMING NFL PLAYOFF MATCHUPS
#6 Baltimore (+6h) at #1 New England Saturday 4:35PM ET
#4 Carolina (+10h) at #1 Seattle Saturday 8:15PM ET
#3 Dallas (+6) at #2 Green Bay Sunday 1:05PM ET
[QB Aaron Rodgers hasn’t thrown an interception
at Lambeau Field since 2012; in 2014, GB is 8-0 at home,
whereas DAL is 8-0 on the road]
#4 Indianapolis (+7) at #2 Denver Sunday 4:35PM ET
ODDS TO WIN THE SUPER BOWL
Seattle 9/5 1.8 to 1
New England 9/4 2.25 to 1
Green Bay 11/2 5.5 to 1
Denver 6/1 6 to 1
Dallas 9/1 9 to 1
Baltimore 22/1 22 to 1
Indianapolis 22/1 22 to 1
Carolina 28/1 28 to 1
FINAL STATS AFTER WEEK #17 (FFHL Playoff Semifinals)
After last week’s newsletter, we were still competing in FFHL Week #17 with several bowl games on Tuesday and Wednesday. The final stats for the week are as follows:
On our college picks, we were a horrendous 17-35-0 ATS (32.7%), but in the NFL we were a stellar 21-11-0 ATS (65.6%). Overall, we ended up 38-46-0 ATS (45.2%).
Our regular season is over, and three teams from each of the six-team divisions made the playoffs.
In Semifinal #1, THE ROUNDERS (4-3 ATS) advanced to the Fantastic Bowl (title game) with a win over 1-800-OPPOSITE (1-6 ATS), who got burned on a bunch of college favorites. Matt Damon (Scott) and Ed Norton (King Kenny) of The Rounders went 3-1 ATS on their pro picks to prevail.
In Semifinal #2, YO MAMA (5-2 ATS) outlasted three other competitors to earn the right to face The Rounders for the FFHL Championship; Doug hit on his top four picks, all NFL favorites, to advance to the Fantastic Bowl and a shot at the FFHL title. The losing semifinalists move to the Consolation Bowl.
TOMMY BOY (2-5 ATS)
SOUR KRAUT (1-6 ATS)
MOORE MONEY (3-4 ATS)
FFHL2 – “THE DEUCE” POINTS COMPETITION
We have only one week to go in the Deuce competition. Through 18 weeks, following are the standings:
THE ROUNDERS 173.0
YO MAMA 163.5
MOORE MONEY 155.0
And still hoping to jump into the Top Four:
WILD MAN 134.5
TOMMY BOY 127.0
THE FUGITIVE 123.5
CUMULATIVE RECORDS AGAINST THE SPREAD (ATS) and STRAIGHT UP
I’ll send out a separate analysis (same format as last year) for all of the bowl games – by conference, based on how teams performed against the spread and straight up.
NFL – WILD CARD WEEKEND
FAVORITES 2-2-0 (50.0%) 3-1-0 (75.0%)
HOME TEAMS 2-2-0 (50.0%) 3-1-0 (75.0%)
NFL - CUMULATIVE (through Wild Card Weekend)
FAVORITES 125-127-4 (49.6%) 174-81-1 (68.2%)
HOME TEAMS 120-132-4 (47.7%) 146-109-1 (57.2%)
OTHER FOOTBALL NEWS
COACHING CHANGES - UPDATES
Jim Harbaugh is the new head coach for the Michigan Wolverines. To give a better breakdown of his contract, he signed a 7-year deal that starts out with a $2MM signing bonus and a base salary of $5MM per year; in Year 4 he gets a 10% base salary increase to $5.5MM, and then gets another 10% bump in Year 6 to $6.05MM. That adds up to over $40MM, plus his contract is loaded with incentives that could give him another $10MM or so over the 7-year deal.
The search is still ongoing for new head coaches by these NFL teams:
Chicago – maybe Mike Shanahan will get the job; he previously coached both QB Jay Cutler and WR Brandon Marshall in Denver.
Buffalo – former HC Doug Marrone exercised an option clause in his contract and on December 31, 2014 decided not to stay with the Bills for the 2015 season; he receives $4MM from the Bills whether he gets another job or not. The option became active when the Bills were sold to new ownership (Pegula). Marrone’s two-year record at Buffalo was 15-17-0 (47%) [2012: 6-10; 2013: 9-7]
COLLEGE PLAYERS HEADED FOR THE 2015 NFL DRAFT
POTENTIAL TOP 5 PROSPECTS DECLARING FOR DRAFT:
USC DE Leonard Williams
Nebraska DE Randy Gregory
Oregon QB Marcus Mariota
FSU QB Jameis Winston has NOT declared yet; he plans to decide by next Monday.
Players have until January 15th to decide whether to declare for the 2015 NFL Draft.
Indiana RB Tevin Coleman (late 1st to 2nd round prospect); however, Indiana did pick up “replacement” RB Jordan Howard from UAB (Alabama-Birmingham program abandoned).
Colorado State RB Dee Hart, one year after CSU lost RB Kapri Bibbs to the 2014 NFL Draft. After graduating at Alabama, Hart transferred to Fort Collins and in his one year (2014) at CSU rushed for 1,275 yards and 16 TD’s.
Washington All-American LB Shaq Thompson (projected 1st round pick)
Michigan State CB Trae Waynes (2nd/3rd team All-American; projected Top 20)
Florida State CB PJ Williams (1st team All-ACC; projected 1st round pick)
WR Dorial Green –Beckham (projected late 1st or 2nd round), who sat out the 2014 season after being dismissed by Missouri in April of 2014; he transferred to Oklahoma, but never played for the Sooners.
COLLEGE PLAYERS STAYING IN COLLEGE
Former Florida QB Jeff Driskel is transferring to Louisiana Tech, and will replace departing senior QB Cody Sokol.
Ohio State QB Braxton Miller is presumably shopping for a new school; he may transfer to another Power 5 conference team. More later.
Notre Dame QB Everett Golson will graduate in March of 2015 (assuming he doesn’t get caught cheating on his finals) and could transfer to another school and play immediately.
LSU is a possibility; more later.
COLLEGE TITLE GAME ODDS
Before the 2014 season started, the favorites to win the CFP title were FSU at 4/1, Alabama at 5/1, and then trailing behind were Oregon at 15/2 (7.5 to 1) and Ohio State at 20 to 1.
FFHL WEEK #18B – FFHL PLAYOFF FINALS
(picks are due by 7PM every Friday – total of seven picks through Super Bowl)
NFL PLAYOFF GAMES:
Four conference semifinal games (January 10th & 11th)
#4 Carolina (+10h) at #1 Seattle
#3 Dallas (+6) at #2 Green Bay
#6 Baltimore (+6h) at #1 New England
#4 Indianapolis (+7) at #2 Denver
NCAA Championship Game on Monday, January 12th
Oregon (-6h) vs. Ohio State
ODD NOTE: The City of Oregon, Ohio (suburb of Toledo) by proclamation has changed the name of its city for one week only (through January 12th, of course). The city’s name will be: BUCKEYES ON THE BAY, CITY OF DUCK HUNTERS.
The local high school has school colors of green and gold (coincidentally, the University of Oregon’s colors), and had discussed changing them for just one week as well, but I haven’t heard if that was ever done.
FUTURE NFL PLAYOFF GAMES:
2 conference finals games (January 18th)
Super Bowl (February 1st)
QUESTION #1: The Detroit Lions lost another playoff game on Sunday, tying them with the dubious active/current record of eight consecutive playoff losses. What other NFL team currently carries the baggage of having eight consecutive playoff losses?
BONUS: Name the NFL team with an active streak of seven consecutive playoff losses.
QUESTION #2: Regarding current/active streaks, which two NFL teams are tied for the most consecutive years of playoff appearances (six years – 2009 through 2014)?
BONUS: Try to name the next two NFL teams tied with four consecutive years of playoff appearances; and then try to name the next two NFL teams with three consecutive years.
QUESTION #3: Which former or current NFL head coach has the most regular season wins without ever getting a playoff win?
HINT: This former coach does have a famous (or infamous) “playoff” reference attributed to him.
BONUS: Try to name the next three coaches in line for playoff futility.
HINT: Runner-up on the list is a current head coach in the NFL.
Kansas City Chiefs have lost 8 consecutive playoff games dating back to the 1993 season. Detroit hasn’t won a playoff game since the 1991 season. And in third place with a current streak of 7 consecutive playoff losses dating back to the 1990 season is Cincinnati, who just lost again at Indianapolis on Sunday (and HC Marvin Lewis is 0-6 in the playoffs).
New England and Green Bay (6)
Cincinnati and Denver (4)
Seattle and Indianapolis (3)
Jim Mora, Sr. (125 regular season wins) “Playoffs??!!? PLAYOFFS??”
Marvin Lewis (100) Current HC of the Cincinnati Bengals
Norm Van Brocklin (66)
Dick Jauron (60)