Wednesday, December 16, 2015

FOOTBALL NEWS AFTER WEEK FOURTEEN

FROM THE DESK OF THE “FUGITIVE” COMMISSIONER 
 
Hello Football Fans,
 
There are only three weeks remaining in the NFL regular season, and the playoff picture will become much clearer after the upcoming weekend.
 
 
The college bowl games begin this Saturday.
 
Enjoy,
 
The Fugitive Commissioner of the FFHL

NFL 


There are only THREE weeks remaining in the regular season. 


Three teams have now clinched a playoff berthArizona, New England, and Carolina. The CAR Panthers have clinched the NFC South Division and a “bye” week in the first round of the playoffs.  New England has clinched the AFC East division. 
 
NFL ACTION – UNDERDOG WINNERS 
 
SIX underdogs won outright in 16 NFL games this week for an upset rate of 37.5% (18.8% the previous week).   
 
Pittsburgh (+2h) won at Cincinnati, 33-20.  The CIN Bengals lost QB Andy Dalton in the first quarter with a fractured thumb; he’ll presumably miss the remainder of the regular season, but does not require surgery and is being labeled as “week-to-week”.  He will not play in San Francisco on Sunday – Week #15. 
 
Philadelphia (+1) beat visiting Buffalo, 23-20, as the Ryan-led Bills were flagged 15 times for 101 yards of penalties.  The PHI Eagles stayed in the race for the weak NFC East division title, while the losing BUF Bills became a longshot for a wild card playoff spot. 
 
Washington (+3h) won at Chicago, 24-21.  The WSH ‘Skins stayed in the race for the weak NFC East division title, while the losing CHI Bears were all but eliminated from the playoffs. 
 
St. Louis (+3) beat visiting Detroit, 21-14, as Rams’ rookie RB Todd Gurley had an excellent game. 
 
New Orleans (+4) won at Tampa Bay, 24-17. 
 
Oakland (+7) won at Denver, 15-12.  The OAK Raiders trailed 12-0 at halftime, and were statistically awful with negative 12 yards from scrimmage and their longest play of the half was 4 yards, while the DEN Broncos racked up 224 yards (but were only able to muster four FG’s).  What a collapse in the Mile High City. 
 
 
 
NOT QUITE??? 
Indianapolis was a one-point underdog at Jacksonville but led 13-9 at halftime, with the JAX Jaguars’ fans booing the team heading into the locker room.  After intermission, JAX scored a TD every time they had the ball.  FINAL: JAX 51, IND 16. 
 
DIVISIONAL RACES 
 
AFC 
AFC EAST: 
NEW ENGLAND (11-2) won at Houston on Sunday, 27-6, to clinch the division title for the 7th year in a row. 
The NY Jets (8-5) beat the TEN Titans on Sunday, 30-8, and are still battling with Pittsburgh and Kansas City for two wild card playoff spots. 
 
AFC NORTH: 
CINCINNATI (10-3) is suddenly just “hanging on” with a two-game lead over Pittsburgh (8-5) after the Bengals lost to the Steelers on Sunday, 33-20.  Cincinnati is now without its starting QB, while the PIT Steelers have won four of their last five games.  However, if CIN and PIT tie for the division, the Bengals will win the tiebreaker if they can get one more division win (Week #17 at home vs. Baltimore).  
 
AFC WEST 
DENVER (10-3) lost to Oakland on Sunday, 15-12, and the Broncos now have only a two-game lead over the KC Chiefs (8-5), who beat visiting San Diego on Sunday, 10-3.   Kansas City will win the tiebreaker if both teams finish 11-5 in the division, and the Chiefs have the easier schedule to finish up the regular season (3 opponents with losing records: at BAL, then home vs. CLE, OAK).  Denver plays at PIT, and then is home vs. CIN and SD. 
 
The Mediocre AFC SOUTH (all teams under .500) 
The Indianapolis Colts (6-7) and Houston Texans (6-7) both lost on Sunday and are still tied for the division lead.  Jacksonville (5-8) demolished the IND Colts on Sunday, 51-16, and the Jaguars find themselves only one game out of the division lead. 
 
NFC 
 
NFC SOUTH: 


CAROLINA (13-0) wrapped up the division title last week.  With another blowout win over Atlanta on Sunday, 38-0, the Panthers have also clinched a first-round “bye”. 
 
NFC NORTH: 
GREEN BAY (9-4) recaptured the division lead by one game over Minnesota (8-5), as the GB Packers whipped Dallas on Sunday, 28-7, and the MIN Vikings lost at Arizona on Thursday night, 23-20. 
 
 
NFC WEST 
Arizona (11-2) maintained its division lead of three games over the SEA Seahawks (8-5), as both teams won in Week #14.  The AZ Cardinals, currently on a 7-game winning streak, have clinched a playoff spot but have not mathematically won the division title yet. 
 
The Hapless NFC EAST (all teams under .500) 
There is a 3-way tie for the division lead among three mediocre teams, all sporting 6-7 records -- NY Giants, Washington, and the PHI Eagles.  All three teams won in Week #14 to keep up their mediocre pace. 
What a mess. 
 
NFL PLAYOFF CONTENDERS 
 
Just for the record, there are a total of 12 playoff spots, 6 in each conference.  Four spots in each conference are reserved for the division winners (the #1 through #4 seeds), leaving two spots in each conference for “wild card” teams (the #5 and #6 seeds). 
 
With only 3 games remaining in the regular season, following is a snapshot of how the playoff picture looks at this point: 
 
NFC SEEDINGS PROJECTION 
 
 

#1 Carolina (13-0) 
#2 Arizona (11-2) 
#3 Green Bay (9-4) 
#4 Washington, NY Giants, or Philly (6-7) 
#5 Seattle (8-5) 
#6 Minnesota (8-5) 
 
Playoff chances are fading: 
Tampa Bay (6-7) 
Atlanta (6-7) 
WSH/NYG/PHI division losers (6-7) 
 
Longshots: 
St. Louis (5-8) 
Chicago (5-8) 
New Orleans (5-8) 
Dallas (4-9) 
 
Eliminated: 
Detroit (4-9) was mathematically eliminated with loss at St. Louis on Sunday, 21-14 
 
 
 
AFC SEEDINGS PROJECTION 
 
#1 New England (11-2) 
#2 Cincinnati (10-3) 
#3 Denver (10-3) 
#4 Indianapolis (6-7) or Houston (6-7) 
#5 & #6 Kansas City (8-5), Pittsburgh (8-5), NY Jets (8-5) 
 
Playoff chances are fading: 
Oakland Raiders (6-7) 
Buffalo Bills (6-7) 
IND/HOU division loser (6-7) 
Jacksonville (5-8) 
 
Eliminated: 
Miami (5-8), with loss on Monday night (7th straight year out of playoffs) 
 
 
COLLEGE 
 
FBS ACTION (one game) 
 
Saturday, Dec 12th 
Navy (-21h) barely beat Army in Philadelphia, PA, 21-17, and Midshipmen QB Keenan Reynolds broke the all-time Division I career rushing touchdown record with 85.  He rushed for two TD’s in the game to surpass previous record-holder Adrian Peterson (no, not that one) from at-the-time FCS Georgia Southern (84 rushing TD’s from 1998-2001). 
 
Reynolds, who has now amassed 4,415 rushing yards in his career, broke Napoleon McCallum’s Navy career rushing record of 4,179 yards. 
Reynolds finished fifth in the 2015 Heisman Trophy voting. 
 
 
FCS PLAYOFF QUARTERFINALS 
 
There were FOUR playoff games over the weekend in the Football Championship Subdivision. 
Following are the results: 
 
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 11TH  
 
#1 Jacksonville State beat visiting #8 Charleston Southern, 58-38.  
 
#7 Richmond won at #2 Illinois State, 39-27, and the Spiders eliminated last year’s runner-up from the playoffs. 
 
 
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 12TH 
 
#3 North Dakota State beat visiting unseeded Northern Iowa, 23-13. 
ND State has won the last four FCS titles, and is on the “Drive for Five”. 
The NDSU Bison had beaten the UNI Panthers in October at home in Fargo, ND, 31-28. 
UNI had its 7-game winning streak snapped. 
NDSU is coached by Chris Klieman, who is an alumnus of Northern Iowa. 
The Bison lost their starting QB at mid-season due to a broken wrist; backup QB Easton Stick is 7-0 this year as the replacement starter. 
 
Unseeded Sam Houston State beat visiting unseeded Colgate, 48-21.  
The SHSU Bearkats also advanced to the FCS semifinals last year. 
 
FCS SEMIFINALS 
 
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 18TH (8PM Eastern) 
 
#7 Richmond at #3 North Dakota State (Fargo, ND) 
 
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 19TH (4PM Eastern) 
 
Sam Houston State at #1 Jacksonville State (Jacksonville, AL) 
 
FCS CHAMPIONSHIP 
The two semifinal winners will play in the title game on Saturday, January 9th in Frisco, Texas, and the game will be televised on ESPN2 at Noon (Eastern). 
 
UPCOMING FBS COLLEGE BOWL GAMESWEEK #15 
 
SATURDAY, DEC 19TH 
Arizona -9h vs. New Mexico  New Mexico Bowl  Albuquerque, NM 
CFP#22 Utah -2h vs. BYU  Las Vegas Bowl  Las Vegas, NV 
Appalachian St -7h vs. Ohio U  Camellia Bowl  Montgomery, AL 
Georgia State +3 vs. San Jose St  Cure Bowl  Orlando, FL 
Arkansas St +2 vs. Louisiana Tech  New Orleans Bowl  New Orleans, LA 
 
MONDAY, DEC 21ST 
W. Kentucky -2h vs. South Florida  Miami Beach Bowl  Miami, FL 
 
TUESDAY, DEC 22ND 
Utah State -6h vs. Akron  Idaho Potato Bowl  Boise, ID 
CFP#24 Temple -1h vs. Toledo  Boca Raton Bowl  Boca Raton, FL 
 
WEDNESDAY, DEC 23RD 
Boise State -8 vs. Northern Illinois  Poinsettia Bowl  San Diego, CA 
Bowling Green -7h vs. GA Southern  GoDaddy Bowl  Mobile, AL 
 
THURSDAY, DEC 24TH (Christmas Eve) 
W. Michigan -3 vs. MID Tennessee  Bahamas Bowl  Nassau, Bahamas 
San Diego State +1 vs. Cincinnati  Hawaii Bowl  Honolulu, HI 
 
 
FFHL RESULTS – WEEK FOURTEEN 
 
Overall, we FFHL’ers posted a record to barely cover the bookmaker’s juice for the second week in a row at 44-40-0 ATS (52.4%).  We selected 26 underdogs and posted a record of 14-12-0 ATS (53.8%).  With the college ‘dogs, we were 1-0-0 ATS; in the NFL we were 13-12-0 ATS (52.0%). 
 
 
FFHL LOP-SIDED and CONTESTED PICKS AGAINST THE SPREAD (ATS) 
 
Listed below is a breakdown of ALL of our 84 picks for the week.   
We had 19 contrary picks (23%) out of 82 total NFL picks. 
 
 ATS Picks 
Team    For-Against             Result / Unsolicited comments 
 
COLLEGE 
Navy -21h vs. Army1-1      ARMY WINS ATS, easily by 17 points 
 
NFL (14 games eligible; Thursday game and IND/MIAoff”): 
 
SEA Seahawks -10 at BAL 6-0 WIN, Seattle covers easily with 35-6 victory 
BUF Bills -1 at PHI            6-0LOSS, Eagles win outright, 23-20 
CAR Panthers -8h vs. ATL 6-1WIN, Carolina blows out Falcons, 38-0 
NE Patriots -3h at HOU      6-1WIN, New England wins easily, 27-6 
GB Packers -6h vs. DAL    6-2WIN, Green Bay pulls away in 4th, wins 28-7 
CIN Bengals -2h vs. PIT    5-2LOSS, Pittsburgh wins outright at Cincy, 33-20 
 

SF 49’ers +2h at CLE        4-0LOSS, Cleveland wins at home, 24-10 
NY Giants -1 at MIA         4-1WIN, Giants win in Miami on Monday night, 31-24 
DEN Broncos -7 vs. OAK 4-1LOSS, Oakland wins outright in Denver, 15-12 
DET Lions -3 at STL         4-2LOSS, St. Louis wins outright, 21-14 
NOR Saints +4 at TB Bucs 4-3WIN, New Orleans wins outright in Tampa, 24-17 
KC Chiefs -10h vs. SD       3-2LOSS, Kansas City wins 10-3 to not cover by 3½ 
TEN Titans +7 at NY Jets   3-2LOSS, Tennessee loses big, 30-8 
CHI Bears -3h vs. WSH     2-2WASHINGTON beats favored Chicago, 24-21 
 
 
 
 
 
NFL 
In the 14th week: 
ATS                    STRAIGHT-UP 
Record                  Record 
 
FAVORITES    8-8-0 (50.0%)        10-6 (62.5%) 
HOME TEAMS  7-9-0 (43.8%)       9-7 (56.2%) 
 
NFL - CUMULATIVE after 14 weeks: 
 
ATS                    STRAIGHT-UP 
Record                  Record 
 
FAVORITES   94-107-7 (46.9%)    129-79 (62.0%) 
HOME TEAMS  94-103-7 (47.8%)  110-94 (53.9%) 
 
FOOTBALL NEWS and MINUTIA 
 
NFL – RACE FOR THE #1 OVERALL DRAFT PICK 
The #1 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft is still up for grabs. 
Here is the latest list of contenders: 
Cleveland 3-10 
Tennessee 3-10 
San Diego 3-10 
Lurking with 4-9 records: 
Baltimore, Dallas, Detroit, and San Francisco 
 
THE HEISMAN TROPHY 
On Saturday night, December 12th the Heisman Trophy winner was announced, and it was no surprise.  Following is the order of finish: 
Points 
 

#1RB  Derrick Henry  Alabama  1,832  WINNER 
 
#2RB Christian McCaffrey Stanford 1,539 Anti-West Coast bias 
#3QB Deshaun Watson Clemson 1,165 
#4 QB Baker Mayfield Oklahoma   334 
#5QB Keenan Reynolds Navy   180 
 
THE CFP PLAYOFFS 
The self-promotion network, ESPN, has created its own FPI (Football Power Index) and uses it to predict the results of football games.  The following shows each team’s chances of winning the CFP Championship (as of December 8th ), per ESPN: 
OKLAHOMA  39% 
ALABAMA  33% 
CLEMSON  17% 
MICHIGAN STATE  11%  (for what it’s worth) 
 
COLLEGE COACHING CHANGES 
 
East Carolina 
The new HC for the ECU Pirates is Scottie Montgomery, who was the former associate head coach/offensive coordinator for Duke. 
 
Bowling Green 
The new HC for the BGSU Falcons is Mike Jinks, former Texas Tech running backs coach/associate head coach. 
 
West Virginia 
After some speculation, HC Dana Holgorsen will not be fired and will return for the Mountaineers’ 2016 season. 
 
Tulane 
The new HC for the Green Wave is Willie Fritz, former HC at Georgia Southern. 
 
Ohio State 
The OSU Buckeyes filled their coaching vacancy at associate HC/co-defensive coordinator under HC Urban Meyer with Greg Schiano, who was previously the HC at Rutgers from 2001-2011 and then HC for the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2012.  Schiano replaces the departed Chris Ash, who left Ohio State to become the head coach of…………  Rutgers. 
 
FALL EXPERIMENTAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE (FXFL) 
 
The fledgling FXFL got started in October of 2014 and was unable to finish the original regular season schedule last year. 
 
For the 2015 season, the plan was to field four teams with a six-game regular season.  But due to money problems and projected travel costs, the Mahoning Valley Brawlers team out of Niles, Ohio, folded prior to the start of the season. 
 
The season began with the Brooklyn Bolts (Brooklyn, NY), the Hudson Valley Fort (Fishkill, NY), and the Blacktips, originally out of Florida but later became a traveling team with no home field out of Orange County, NY. 
Five of six regular season games were completed, but the sixth and final game was cancelled and the season ended with Brooklyn at 4-1, the Blacktips at 1-1, and the HV Fort at 0-3.  All games were played in the State of New York. 
 
The big name for the FXFL was supposed to be QB Josh Freeman, former 1st round draft pick by the TB Bucs in 2009 (#17 overall out of Kansas State).  He was trying to revive his NFL career, but the league fizzled and his comeback suffered another setback.  
 
It appears that the FXFL may be defunct before a 2016 season gets started. 
 
MORE CATCH-UP 
 
Going into last weekend’s game at Houston, the New England Patriots had lost two games in a row for the first time since early in the 2012 season (over 3 years ago).  If they had lost to Houston (which they didn’t), it would have been the first time since 2002 that the Cheaters had a 3-game losing streak. 
 
Back in Week #13, Tennessee (-2h) beat visiting Jacksonville and won 42-39.  The Titans snapped their ugly 11-game home losing streak. 
 
2015 Heisman Trophy runner-up Christian McCaffrey eclipsed the all-time FBS record for all-purpose yards in a single season with 3,496; he did it in 13 games.  The former record was held by Barry Sanders, who generated 3,250 all-purpose yards during the 1988 season…………. in only 11 games. 
Christian is the son of former NFL wide receiver Ed McCaffrey. 
 
LOOKING AHEAD 
COLLEGE FOOTBALL - FFHL WEEK #15 
 
The first postseason bowl games will be played on Saturday, December 19th and a total of 40 bowl games will be played through January 2nd leading up to the CFP title game on Monday, January 11th. 
 
The bowl games through next Thursday, Christmas Eve, December 24th, are listed above. 
 
NFL WEEK #15THE FULL SLATE OF GAMES 
 
Thursday Tampa Bay +1 at St. Louis 
Dec 17th 
 
Saturday NY Jets -3 at Dallas 
Dec 19th 
 
Sunday Divisional Matchups: 
Dec 20th Houston at Indianapolis HOU QB Yates? IND QB Whitehurst? 
Chicago +5h at Minnesota 
The others: 
Kansas City -7h at Baltimore 
Atlanta +3h at Jacksonville 
Tennessee +14 at New England  NE RB Blount out for year 
Carolina -5 at NY Giants Panthers QB Newton was injured in two car wreck 
 

Arizona -3h at Philadelphia 
Buffalo -1 at Washington 
Green Bay -3 at Oakland 
Cleveland +14h at Seattle  SEA RB Rawls out for season 
Denver +6 at Pittsburgh 
Miami +1h at San Diego 
Cincinnati -4h at San Francisco  CIN QB A.J. McCarron 
 
Monday Detroit +3 at New Orleans 
Dec 21st 
 
FOOTBALL QUIZ QUESTIONS 
 
QUESTION #1:  Baltimore Ravens’ QB Jimmy Clausen started against the Seahawks on Sunday.  He also started against the SEA Seahawks earlier this year (in Week #3) as a member of the Chicago Bears.  There have been only five other quarterbacks in league history to start games against the same opponent in the same season while on the roster for two different teams.  
Can you name even one of those five QB’s? 
 
HINT: The most recent case was in this decade.  Before that, there were two QB’s in the 1990’s, one in the 1970’s and one in the 1960’s (a famous name). 
 
 
 
 
ANSWER #1: 
Kyle Orton was the most recent quarterback to do it and the only one to do it with two separate opponents in the same season. Orton faced both the Green Bay Packers and Oakland Raiders in 2011 as a member of the Denver Broncos; and then after being released by Denver and claimed by the KC Chiefs, Orton started games against both the Packers and Raiders before the end of the season. 
 
In 1998, Kerry Collins started games against the Atlanta Falcons as a member of the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints. 
In 1991, Chris Chandler started games against the NOR Saints as a QB for both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Phoenix Cardinals. 
 
In 1974, Norm Snead started games against the Dallas Cowboys as a QB for both the New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers. 
 
And in 1962, Jack Kemp started games against the New York Titans as a member of both the San Diego Chargers and Buffalo Bills. 
 
 

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