Tuesday, January 5, 2016

FOOTBALL NEWS AFTER WEEK SEVENTEEN


FROM THE DESK OF THE “FUGITIVE” COMMISSIONER

Hello Football Fans,

The NFL regular season is over and the playoffs start on Saturday, January 9th.


The college bowl games are over, with just the CFP Championship Game to be played on Monday night, January 11th.

I've got some good factoids and minutia this week plus three quiz questions.

Enjoy,

The Fugitive Commissioner, on the lam from the gambling police


NFL
The regular season is over.
The playoff seedings are finalized.
The Wild Card Weekend begins on Saturday.
The four teams with #1 and #2 seeds in each conference get a “bye” this weekend.

AFC

 
The NY Jets lost at Buffalo in Week #17, leaving the door open for the PIT Steelers to walk into the playoffs after winning at Cleveland in Week #17.
New England lost at Miami in Week #17, leaving the door open for the DEN Broncos to walk into the #1 seed and home field advantage throughout the playoffs after beating San Diego in Week #17. Denver held the tiebreaker over the NE Patriots for the #1 seed.
Houston beat visiting Jacksonville in Week #17 to clinch the AFC South Division title.

NFC

 
Minnesota won at Green Bay in Week #17 to capture the NFC North Division title.
Carolina beat visiting Tampa Bay in Week #17 to secure the #1 seed and home field advantage throughout the playoffs.



NFL ACTION – UNDERDOG WINNERS
FLIP A COIN
NINE (9) underdogs won outright in 16 NFL games this week for an upset rate of 56.2% (43.8% the previous week). In other words, only seven favorites won straight-up in Week #17 (less than half; unbelievable).
Buffalo (+3) beat visiting NY Jets, 22-17, to knock the New York team out of the playoffs. Bills’ HC Rex Ryan beat his former team in both meetings this year. The only other coach to accomplish this feat in the year after changing teams was back in 1929 (Jack Depler for the Orange Tornados).
Miami (+10) beat visiting New England, 20-10. The Patriots relinquished their hold on the #1 seed in the AFC and ended up with the #2 seed.


New Orleans (+4h) won at Atlanta, 20-17.
Washington (+3h) won at Dallas, 34-23.
Detroit (+1) won at Chicago, 24-20.
Philadelphia (+3h) won at the NY Giants, 35-30 with interim HC Pat Shurmur.
Minnesota (+3h) won at Green Bay, 20-13. The Vikings led 20-3 after three quarters, but the GB Packers charged back and had another “Hail Mary” chance to send the game into overtime (but it was unsuccessful).
San Francisco (+3h) beat visiting St. Louis, 19-16 in overtime. 


Seattle (+6h) smoked the AZ Cardinals in Glendale, Arizona, 36-6. Assuming Carolina was going to win and get the #1 seed in the NFC (playing at the same time as Arizona), the Cardinals were going to be slotted into the #2 seed in the NFC and virtually had “nothing” to play for. Carolina was ahead 24-3 when Arizona HC Bruce Arians decided to rest starting QB Carson Palmer and put in backup QB Drew Stanton for the second half trailing 30-6.



DIVISIONAL RACES
AMERICAN FOOTBALL CONFERENCE
AFC EAST: NEW ENGLAND (12-4) – division winner 

 
AFC NORTH: CINCINNATI (12-4) – division winner
AFC WEST:
DENVER (12-4) clinched the division title with a win on Sunday over visiting San Diego, 27-20. The Broncos started QB Brock Osweiler, with Peyton Manning available as the backup QB. Denver gave up 4 turnovers in the first half, but still led 7-6 at intermission. The fifth turnover came early in the 2nd half, and by mid-3rd quarter HC Gary Kubiak made the decision to insert Manning (with SD ahead 13-7), and the aging QB provided a spark to the whole team and gave the Broncos a 17-13 lead. Nevertheless, the SD Chargers hung in there and recaptured the lead on a TD with 13 minutes remaining in the game, 20-17, before Manning led his team to victory and the #1 seed in the AFC.
AFC SOUTH
HOUSTON (9-7) beat visiting Jacksonville on Sunday, 30-6, to clinch the division title.



NATIONAL FOOTBALL CONFERENCE
NFC SOUTH: CAROLINA (15-1) – division winner
NFC WEST: ARIZONA (13-3) – division winner
NFC EAST: WASHINGTON (9-7) – division winner
NFC NORTH:
MINNESOTA (11-5) won at Green Bay (10-6) on Sunday night, 20-13 to clinch the division title.



NFL PLAYOFFS
NFC SEEDINGS

 
#1 Carolina (15-1)
#2 Arizona (13-3)
#3 Minnesota (11-5)
#4 Washington (9-7)
#5 Green Bay (10-6) GB beat SEA in Week #2 to win tiebreaker
#6 Seattle (10-6) for the #5 seed and a game vs. WSH



AFC SEEDINGS
#1 Denver (12-4) Won tiebreaker over NE Pats
#2 New England (12-4)
#3 Cincinnati (12-4) Lost tiebreaker to both NE & DEN
#4 Houston (9-7)
#5 Kansas City (11-5)


#6 Pittsburgh (10-6) Won tiebreaker over NY Jets (10-6)



THE PLAYOFFS - WILD CARD WEEKEND
AFC
SATURDAY, JANUARY 9TH

#5 Kansas City -3 at #4 Houston 4:30PM Eastern
#6 Pittsburgh -2h at #3 Cincinnati 8:15PM Eastern



NFC
SUNDAY, JANUARY 10TH

#6 Seattle -4h at #3 Minnesota 1:05PM Eastern
#5 Green Bay +1h at #4 Washington 4:40PM Eastern
Note: the lower-seeded road teams are favored in three of the four matchups, and traveling Green Bay is only a slim underdog.
The #1 and #2 seeds in each conference have a “bye” this weekend.
The following weekend, the #1 seeds will play at home versus the lower-seeded Wild Card winners.
The #2 seeds will play at home versus the higher-seeded Wild Card winners.

SUPER BOWL ODDS
According to www.oddschecker.com, a website that reports various betting odds from other betting sources such as “Bet365”, following were the odds for teams to win the Super Bowl before Week #17 and after the final regular season game:
                                      1/4/16                                         12/28/15
                                     Current                                           Before
                                                                                          Week#17



CAR Panthers             4/1 (+400)                                    4/1 (+400)
NE Patriots                 9/2 (+450)                                  10/3 (+333)
AZ Cardinals              9/2 (+450)                                    4/1 (+400)
SEA Seahawks           6/1 (+600)                                    8/1 (+800)
DEN Broncos           13/2 (+650)                                 12/1 (+1200)
PIT Steelers             12/1 (+1200)                                22/1 (+2200)
GB Packers              16/1 (+1600)                                11/1 (+1100)
KC Chiefs                16/1 (+1600)                                14/1 (+1400)
CIN Bengals            18/1 (+1800)                                14/1 (+1400)
MIN Vikings            25/1 (+2500)                                30/1 (+3000)
WSH ‘Skins             40/1 (+4000)                                40/1 (+4000)
HOU Texans            66/1 (+6600)                                50/1 (+5000)
NY Jets eliminated  35/1 (+3500)


IND Colts eliminated  250/1 (+25000)



COLLEGE
FBS COLLEGE BOWL GAMES
Overall, the point-spread favorites performed quite well in the bowl games.
The favored teams posted a straight-up record of 30-10 (75% SU), and against the spread were an amazing 26-12-2 (67.5% ATS), soundly beating the historical averages.
Please refer to my detailed analysis “By Conference” for the 40 bowl games to see which conference produced the best results. A separate newsletter was sent to you earlier.
The 39th and 40th bowl games played on Saturday, January 2nd to finish out the bowl season may have been the two most exciting bowl games of the year. See below.



CATCH-UP FROM FFHL WEEK #16
TUESDAY, DEC 29TH
California -7 vs. Air Force               Armed Forces Bowl               Fort Worth, TX





RESULTS: CAL 55, AIRF 36
 
CFP#17 Baylor +3 vs. CFP#10 UNC       Russell Athletic Bowl          Orlando, FL



UPSET RESULTS: BAYL 49, UNC 38
The BU Bears obliterated the all-time FBS bowl game rushing record with 645 yards from scrimmage. The previous record was 524 rushing yards by Nebraska over Florida in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl. Wow! Baylor used the Wildcat formation almost exclusively, since its top two QB’s and top WR were injured and out for the game. Plus, the Bears normal starting RB Shock Linwood was out (he had rushed for over 1,000 yards during the season).
Backup Baylor RB Johnny Jefferson rushed for 299 yards and 3 TD’s on 23 carries in the game, and ended the season with exactly 1,000 rushing yards after sharing time with Linwood for most of the season.

Colorado State -3 vs. Nevada                    Arizona Bowl                   Tucson, AZ
UPSET RESULTS: NEV 28, CSU 23
 
CFP#20 LSU -7 vs. Texas Tech                 Texas Bowl                       Houston, TX
RESULTS: LSU 56, TX.TK 27
 
WEDNESDAY, DEC 30TH
Memphis +2h vs. Auburn                           Birmingham Bowl             Birmingham, AL
RESULTS: AUB 31, MEMP 10
Game was tied 10-10 at halftime.

Mississippi St -5h vs. NC State                 Belk Bowl                         Charlotte, NC


RESULTS: MS.ST 51, NC.ST 28 
 
Texas A&M +4h vs. Louisville                 Music City Bowl                Nashville, TN


RESULTS: LOUIS 27, TXAM 21
The A&M Aggies were playing the bowl game without their top two QB’s, who both decided to transfer to other schools for the 2016 season. That allowed sophomore Jake Hubenak to get his first career start.

CFP#25 USC -3h vs. Wisconsin                    Holiday Bowl                     San Diego, CA
UPSET RESULTS: WISC 23, USC 21
The WISC Badgers scored a TD mid-3rd quarter to take a 20-7 lead, but the USC Trojans responded and took its first lead of the game, 21-20, on a TD with 10 minutes remaining in the 4th quarter. Wisconsin later kicked a FG with 2:27 on the clock that ended up being the game-winner, giving the Badgers their first-ever win over USC in seven tries (last meeting was in 1966).



FBS COLLEGE BOWL GAMES – FFHL WEEK #17
THURSDAY, DEC 31ST (New Year’s Eve)
 
CFP#9 FSU -6h vs. CFP#18 Houston                 PEACH BOWL            Atlanta, GA


UPSET RESULTS: HOU 38, FSU 24
The UH Cougars’ QB Greg Ward Jr. was injured and out with only 4 minutes remaining in the game with his team holding a tenuous 31-24 lead. But Houston’s backup QB led his team to the clinching TD that included two big rushing first-downs by him.

** Semifinal College Football Playoff (CFP) games: 
 
CFP#1 Clemson +4 vs. CFP#4 Oklahoma                ORANGE BOWL             Miami, FL


UPSET RESULTS: CLEM 37, OKLA 17

 
The OK Sooners led 17-16 at halftime. Oklahoma’s undisciplined play on the field (multiple unnecessary 15-yard penalties), in my humble opinion, cost them the game. However, Clemson is no slouch (just ask Chevy Chase of “Caddyshack” fame).

CFP#2 Alabama -9h vs. CFP#3 Michigan State           COTTON BOWL             Arlington, TX


RESULTS: ALA 38, MSU 0



FRIDAY, JAN 1ST (NEW YEAR’S DAY)
Five potentially good games were on tap to get the new year off to a rousing start.
Instead, calendar year 2016 began with five blowout wins by the favorites on this day.

CFP#13 Northwestern +8h vs. CFP#23 Tennessee      Outback Bowl        Tampa, FL
RESULTS: TENN 45, NW 6
 
CFP#14 Michigan -4 vs. CFP#19 Florida                    Citrus Bowl           Orlando, FL


RESULTS: MICH 41, FL 7 
 
CFP#8 Notre Dame +6h vs. CFP#7 Ohio State                FIESTA BOWL            Glendale, AZ
RESULTS: OH.ST 44, ND 28
 
CFP#5 Iowa +6h vs. CFP#6 Stanford                              ROSE BOWL               Pasadena, CA


RESULTS: STAN 45, IOWA 16
Stanford RB and Heisman Trophy runner-up Christian McCaffrey caught a TD pass on the first play from scrimmage for the Cardinal and the team never looked back.


Stanford jumped out to a quick 21-0 lead after a Pick 6 interception return for a TD in the first quarter, extended its lead at halftime to 35-0, and was not threatened in the second half.

CFP#16 Oklahoma St +7h vs. CFP#12 Ole Miss               SUGAR BOWL          New Orleans
RESULTS: MISS 48, OK.ST 20



SATURDAY, JAN 2ND
Penn State +6h vs. Georgia                                                Taxslayer Bowl          Jacksonville, FL
RESULTS: UGA 24, PSU 17

 
The GA Bulldogs led 24-3 heading into the fourth quarter, but the Nittany Lions scored two unanswered TD’s in the final stanza with 6 minutes still on the clock to make it interesting. In the end, Penn State failed to cover ATS by the hook (½ point).

Arkansas -12h vs. Kansas State                                   Liberty Bowl               Memphis, TN
RESULTS: ARK 45, KSU 23
The ARK Razorbacks were ahead only 31-23 after three quarters, but scored two unanswered TD’s in the 4th quarter to win going away and cover the point spread by 9½ points.

CFP#15 Oregon +1 vs. CFP#11 TCU Alamo Bowl San Antonio, TX


RESULTS: TCU 47, OREG 41 (Triple OT)
Several days prior to the game, Texas Christian QB Trevone Boykin was arrested after a bar fight in which he allegedly struck a police officer. He violated midnight curfew, and the team suspended him for this bowl game.

BOWL GAME COMEBACK OF THE CENTURY
In the 39th bowl game of the 2015 season, this contest appeared to be a laugher when the Oregon offense exploded for a 31-0 lead by the 2nd quarter, while TCU Horned Frog’s QB Boykin had been suspended and was out of the game. But then starting QB Vernon Adams Jr. was injured and was out for the rest of the game. After that, Texas Christian scored 31 unanswered points including the game-tying FG with 19 seconds remaining in regulation play to send the game into overtime, after which the Horned Frogs finally prevailed in the third extra period.


NCAA Record:
TCU tied the all-time record for the biggest comeback in bowl history.

West Virginia -1 vs. Arizona State Cactus Bowl Phoenix, AZ
RESULTS: W.VA 43, AZ.ST 42
West VA and AZ State racked up a combined 1,196 yards from scrimmage in this game, and there were six lead changes in the 2nd half before the winner was finally determined.
The ASU Sun Devils scored a TD with 5 minutes remaining in the game to take the lead 41-36, and then a coaching decision on the PAT try ended up costing Arizona State.

Instead of going for the 2-point conversion (as “the chart” says), the Sun Devils inexplicably kicked the extra point to lead only by six, 42-36. Oops. West VA recaptured the lead on a TD pass with 2:19 showing on the clock and a successful extra point kick. Arizona State turned the ball over on downs in its last possession, and the game ended with the favorite winning by one point, resulting in a tie ATS.
''We were supposed to go for 2 and we didn't,'' ASU head coach Todd Graham said. ''Mismanagement there and that is my responsibility.''
West VA Mountaineers’ QB Skyler Howard threw for a Cactus Bowl-record 532 yards and tossed five TD passes.



FFHL RESULTS – WEEK SIXTEEN
Overall, we FFHL’ers posted a “cover the juice” record of 43-39-2 ATS (52.4%). In college games we were a stellar 31-19-0 ATS (62.0%). But in the NFL, we floundered with a record of 12-20-2 ATS (38.2%). We selected 20 underdogs and posted a record of 11-8-1 ATS (57.5%). With the college ‘dogs, we were 4-7-0 ATS (36.4%) and on NFL ‘dogs we were 7-1-1 ATS (83.3%).



FFHL RESULTS – WEEK SEVENTEEN
Overall, we FFHL’ers posted a lousy record of 33-47-4 ATS (41.7%). In college games we were only 21-29-4 ATS (42.6%). In the NFL, we were even worse with a record of 12-18-0 ATS (40.0%). We selected 30 underdogs and posted a lousy record of 8-18-4 ATS (33.3%). With the college ‘dogs, we were a horrendous 3-17-4 ATS (20.8%) and with NFL ‘dogs we were stellar at 5-1-0 ATS (83.3%), since more underdogs won their games outright than did the favorites.



FFHL REGULAR SEASON IS OVER

YO MAMA (12-4) won the Division A title by three games over MOORE MONEY and THE ROUNDERS, who posted 9-7 records. These three teams qualify for the playoffs. Getting edged out of the playoffs were 1-800-OPPOSITE and TOMMY BOY at 8-8.
WILD MAN (11-5) won the Division B title by two games over KID RUST (9-7), followed by THE FUGITIVE (8-8). These three teams qualify for the playoffs. Getting edged out of the playoffs was FILTER KING at 7-9.

The best percentage winners on individual games against the spread (ATS) through Week #16, the end of the FFHL regular season, were:

KID RUST                                          55.0% (65.5 wins in 119 picks)
MOORE MONEY                              54.2% (64.5 wins in 119 picks)
YO MAMA                                        52.1% (62.0 wins in 119 picks)
1-800-OPPOSITE                              51.7% (61.5 wins in 119 picks)
FILTER KING                                    50.0% (59.5 wins in 119 picks)
WILD MAN                                       50.0% (59.5 wins in 119 picks)

The other six handicappers were below 50% for the FFHL regular season, including the worst ATS picker, who miraculously still made the playoffs:

THE FUGITIVE                                 42.9% (51.0 wins in 119 picks)



FFHL PLAYOFFS
YO MAMA beat WILD MAN in Semifinal #1 with a record of 4-2-1 ATS (all bowl games); Wild Man was 3-4 ATS (all NFL games).

THE FUGITIVE beat three other teams in Semifinal #2 with a record of 5-2 ATS (2 bowls, 5 NFL), but didn’t clinch victory until his #6 pick, the Oakland Raiders as an underdog at Kansas City by 6½ points, scored a “meaningless” TD at the end of the game to lose only 23-17 and cover ATS by the hook to send The Fugitive into a euphoric state. Kid Rust went 4-3 ATS and would have won a tiebreaker over The Fugitive with “home field advantage”.
Yo Mama and The Fugitive will face each other in the Fantastic Bowl to determine the FFHL Champion.

FFHL LOP-SIDED and CONTESTED PICKS AGAINST THE SPREAD (ATS)
Listed below is a breakdown of ALL of our 84 picks for Week#17.
In college bowl games, we had 11 contrary picks (20%) out of 54 picks.
In the NFL, we had only 3 contrary picks (10%) out of 30 total NFL picks.

ATS Picks
Team                                     For-Against      Result / Unsolicited comments
Oklahoma -4 vs. Clemson         8-1               LOSS, CU Tigers maul Sooners in 2nd half, 37-17
Michigan -4 vs. Florida            5-0               WIN, Wolverines eat Gator tail, 41-7
Oregon +1 vs. TCU                   5-0               LOSS, Ducks blow 31-0 lead and lose cover ATS
Michigan St +9h vs. ALA         5-1               LOSS, Alabama annihilates MSU, 38-0
Ohio St -6 vs. Notre Dame       5-2               WIN, Buckeyes zap luck from Irish, 44-28
Arizona St +1 vs. W. VA           4-0               TIE, West Virginia wins 43-42 as 1-point favorite
Florida St -6h vs. Houston        3-2               LOSS, non-Power 5 HOU wins outright, 38-24
Iowa +6h vs. Stanford               3-2               LOSS, Cardinal dominates Hawks, 45-16
Ole Miss -7h vs. OK State        2-1               WIN, Rebels hog-tie OSU Cowboys, 48-20


Tennessee -8h vs. NW               1-1              TENNESSEE smokes Northwestern, 45-6
Arkansas -12h vs. KSU             1-1               ARKANSAS takes charge in 4th quarter, 45-23
Georgia -6h vs. Penn State        1-0               WIN, UGA Bulldogs win 24-17 to cover by ½ point



NY Jets -3 at Buffalo                5-0               LOSS, BUF Bills knock Jets out of playoffs, 22-17
NY Giants -3h vs. PHI              3-0               LOSS, Philadelphia wins outright, 35-30
CAR Panthers -10h vs. TB       3-1               WIN, Carolina blows out another foe, 38-10
WSH ‘Skins +3h at DAL          2-0               WIN, Washington wins outright at Dallas, 34-23
NE Patriots -10 at MIA            2-0               LOSS, ‘dog Miami wins outright, 20-10
HOU Texans -6 vs. JAX           2-0              WIN, Houston wins handily 30-6


CHI Bears -1 vs. DET              2-0              LOSS, ‘dog Detroit wins outright, 24-20
PIT Steelers -11 at CLE            2-0             WIN, Pittsburgh hangs on for cover ATS, 28-12
KC Chiefs -6h vs. OAK            2-1             LOSS, Oakland gets backdoor cover with late TD
MIN Vikes +3h at GB Pack       1-1             WIN, ‘dog Minnesota wins outright, 20-13
DEN Broncos -9h vs. SD         1-0              LOSS, Denver wins only 27-20 to not cover by 2½
STL Rams -3h at SF                 1-0              LOSS, San Francisco wins outright, 19-16 in OT
NOR Saints +4h at ATL           1-0              WIN, ‘dog New Orleans wins outright, 20-17



NFL STATS
In the 17th week:
                                                                ATS                          STRAIGHT-UP
                                                             Record                             Record
         FAVORITES                       4-12-0 (25.0%)                     7-9 (43.8%)
         HOME TEAMS                  6-10-0 (37.5%)                     9-7 (56.3%)

The regular season ended with more underdogs winning their games outright than did the favorites – go figure.
And the home teams did a poor job of covering ATS this week.

NFL - CUMULATIVE
END OF REGULAR SEASON

                                                               ATS                          STRAIGHT-UP
                                                            Record                              Record
        FAVORITES                     114-134-8 (46.1%)                157-99 (61.3%)
        HOME TEAMS                117-127-8 (48.0%)                137-115 (54.4%)

Both favorites and home teams did not get very close to 50% as would have been expected.



FOOTBALL NEWS and MINUTIA

NFL – RACE FOR THE #1 OVERALL DRAFT PICK
The #1 overall pick in the 2016 NFL was clinched in Week #17 as Tennessee lost at Indianapolis, 30-24.
Here is the final list of draft order (SOS=strength of schedule, used for tiebreaker):

#1 Tennessee 3-13 worse SOS at .492 vs. CLE .531
#2 Cleveland 3-13 lost out to the TEN Titans in a tiebreaker
Not quite bad enough:
#3 San Diego 4-12 (SOS .527)
#4 Dallas 4-12 (SOS .531)
#5 JAX 5-11 (SOS .473)
#6 Baltimore 5-11 (SOS .508)
#7 SF 5-11 (SOS .539)
#8 Miami 6-10 (SOS .469)
#9 Tampa 6-10 (SOS .484)
#10 NYG 6-10 (SOS .500)
#11 Chicago 6-10 (SOS .547)



NFL COACHING CHANGES – “BLACK MONDAY”
Some coaching announcements were made prior to the end of the regular season. Most coaching changes were announced the day after the regular season was over on Sunday, January 3rd (“Black Monday”).

PRE-BLACK MONDAY
Philadelphia’s HC Chip Kelly was fired on Tuesday before the Eagles Week #17 game (after PHI had been eliminated from playoff contention). He presumably did not want to relinquish his General Manager (player personnel) responsibilities and be “demoted” to head coach only. Kelly still wants to stay in the NFL, and should get several job offers as a head coach, but not both GM and HC.

Jacksonville’s HC Gus Bradley will be coming back for the 2016 season with the Jaguars.

BLACK MONDAY
Cleveland’s HC Mike Pettine was fired, as was the Browns’ GM. The CLE Browns have had 8 different head coaches since 1999 (17 years), and 5 different coaches since 2008, and they have made the last five coaching changes in the AFC North.

SF 49’ers HC Jim Tomsula was fired, but the Niners’ GM Trent Baalke was not. San Francisco had fired Jim Harbaugh after the 2014 season; his SF teams in four years lost a total of only 19 games. In the year-before Harbaugh (2010) and the year-after Harbaugh (2015), the 49’ers lost 21 games (2 seasons).

New Orleans’ HC Sean Payton may get traded; the Saints are asking for a 2nd round draft pick for him. He has two years remaining on his current contract.

Indianapolis’ HC Chuck Pagano, in somewhat of a shocker, was signed to a 4-year extension to stay with the team. Likewise, General Manager Ryan Grigson got an extension through 2019.

NY Giants’ HC Tom Coughlin, age 69, decided to step down for the good of the organization. He was revered by his players and by the organization as a whole. He posted a regular season record of 102-90 in twelve years as the Giants’ HC; and more impressively, he was 8-3 in playoff games and won two Super Bowls (2007, 2011). But his team had missed the playoffs in the last four years, and had posted losing records in the last three years.

The San Diego Chargers will retain their HC Mike McCoy and GM Tom Telesco, but will be replacing six assistant coaches, including OC Frank Reich.

According to pundits, the Miami Dolphins’ organization is a mess. Right now, the team has a host of coaching candidates to fill the vacant HC job. Included in the group is Mike Shanahan, formerly a HC at Denver and Washington.

In Detroit, owner Martha Ford is still searching for a General Manager, and after that the fate of HC Jim Caldwell will be determined for 2016.

In Tennessee, the GM stepped away and a new HC is needed. The Titans may look within their own organization and hire Mike Mularkey, formerly a HC at Jacksonville.



NFL MINUTIA

Carolina Panthers’ QB Cam Newton (age 26) is the first player in NFL history to throw for 30+ TD’s and rush for 10+ TD’s in the same season. He is a “lock” to win the league’s MVP award, leading his team to a 15-1 regular season record.
Do you remember my challenge to you back on September 30th?

Nine NFL teams had started the season with a 0-2 record. Statistically, only 1 of those 9 teams was expected to make the playoffs (about an 11% chance for a team to reach the postseason). Did you pick the right team(s) to qualify for the postseason?
What happened? TWO teams made it – Seattle and Houston.
The teams that didn’t make it: IND, PHI, BAL, DET, NYG, NOR, and CHI.

Let me surmise as to the reason for this statistical anomaly (that is, “2 of 9” instead of “1 of 9”). The AFC South was a weak division with both HOU and IND starting the season 0-2, yet one of them was likely to win the division and make the playoffs because the other two teams in the division were not very good (TEN, JAX). Houston won the division with a 9-7 record and got into the playoffs as the “second” team, the statistically unexpected result.

Seattle was the logical, statistical playoff team that emerged (the Seahawks won 6 of their last 7 games to finish the regular season 10-6 and earn a wild card playoff spot).
And then there were four teams that continued their losing streaks, beginning the season with 0-3 records [BAL, NOR, CHI, and DET]. Statistically, only 3 of 124 teams (2.4%) since 1990 had ever made the playoffs after starting this poorly. None of the four teams made it this year, which makes sense statistically.


Not fitting into the above category, but pretty impressive nonetheless, were the Kansas City Chiefs this year. They started this season 1-5, after which KC rattled off ten straight wins to end the regular season at 11-5 and the Chiefs qualified for the postseason.



LOOKING AHEAD
COLLEGE FOOTBALL - FFHL WEEK #18

The postseason bowl games have been completed -- 40 bowl games were played through January 2nd. The only college game remaining is the CFP title game on Monday, January 11th :
#1 Clemson +7 vs. #2 Alabama
Monday, January 11th
U. of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ (home of NFL’s Arizona Cardinals)

Preview:
The Clemson Tigers hope to become the first major college team to post a 15-0 record for a single season since PENNSYLVANIA did it in 1897!
Injury note: Star DE Shaq Lawson is expected to play; he suffered a knee injury in the CFP semifinals that knocked him out of that game.

The ALA Crimson Tide has beaten Clemson 12 times in a row, including seven shutouts.
Disturbing Fact: As you might know, the NCAA puts a restriction on practice time (generally 20 hours per week) at various times during the year. Clemson will have restricted practice time for the CFP title game because their 2nd semester starts on January 6th, while Alabama will have unrestricted practice time since their school doesn’t start back up until January 13th. This is just a travesty and a flaw in the whole NCAA system.

And, did you know?

Last year Ohio State benefited from this same situation over its opponent Oregon in the CFP Championship Game. The OSU Buckeyes won the game 42-20 as a 6-point underdog to the OU Ducks.



NFL WEEK #18 – THE FULL SLATE OF GAMES
The Wild Card Weekend games on Saturday and Sunday are listed above.




FOOTBALL QUIZ QUESTIONS

QUESTION #1: Which football team has the heaviest five starting offensive linemen?

HINT #1: It is not an NFL team; it’s a college team.
HINT #2: This college team played in a bowl game recently.



QUESTION #2: Minnesota RB Adrian Peterson won the 2015 NFL rushing title with 1,485 yards from scrimmage at the ripe age of 30. Name the other two running backs that were able to win the rushing title after turning age 30.

HINT: One was pre-NFL/AFL merger (good luck on that one; he is a Hall of Famer, inducted in 1968); the other was during this century by a Hall of Famer (inducted in 2012).

BONUS: Who was the last running back to win the NFL rushing title with fewer rushing yards for the season (less than 1,485)?
Hint: It was in 2007.



BIG BONUS: Who was the RB prior to the “BONUS” question answer to win the rushing title with fewer yards than 1,485?
Hint: It was way back in 1990! He’s a Hall of Famer.



QUESTION #3: Who were the four NFL head coaches in the last five years to be fired after only one year at the helm?



ANSWER #1:
Of course, these are the listed weights, and could vary significantly during the season.
The Arkansas Razorbacks, weighing in at 1,638 pounds, as follows:
LT 340#, LG 334#, OC 322#, RG 311#, RT 331#
The heaviest NFL offensive line is the SD Chargers at 1,625 pounds:
LT 330#, LG 316#, OC 310#, RG 330#, RT 339#



ANSWER #2:
Curtis Martin (2004) Age 31
Marion Motley (1950) Age 30



BONUSES:
LaDainian Tomlinson in 2007 with 1,474 rushing yards,
Barry Sanders in 1990 with 1,304 (and in a sixteen-game season)



ANSWER #3:
2015 SF Jim Tomsula (5-11 record)
2013 CLE Rob Chudzinski (4-12)
2012 JAX Mike Mularkey (2-14) (he may get a HC job for 2016 in TENN)
2011 OAK Hue Jackson (8-8) (he may get a HC job for 2016 -- in MIA??)

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