Friday, January 13, 2017

FOOTBALL NEWS AFTER NFL WILD CARD PLAYOFFS

FROM THE DESK OF THE “FUGITIVE” COMMISSIONER

Hello Football Fans,

The college FB season is officially over, and the champion has been crowned.


The NFL playoffs continue with four games this weekend (the top four seeds in each conference face each other).

Enjoy,

The Fugitive Commissioner of the FFHL

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF (CFP) CHAMPIONSHIP

FBS TITLE GAME
CFP#1 Alabama (-6h) vs. CFP#2 Clemson
Alabama jumped out to a 14-0 lead early in the 2nd quarter and the potential blowout was in progress. But Clemson fought back and trailed only 14-7 at halftime. The ALA Crimson Tide appeared to be in control and scored a TD on a 68-yard pass with 2 minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter to take a 24-14 lead. However, stellar RB Bo Scarborough broke his leg on that drive and was out for the rest of the game. The CLEM Tigers responded immediately with a 3-minute TD of their own, trailing only 24-21 early in the 4th quarter and then the teams exchanged five punts in a field position battle. Finally, Clemson drove 88 yards in six plays for a TD to take its first lead of the game, 28-24, with 4:38 on the clock. ‘Bama responded immediately with a TD of its own to retake the lead, 31-28, with only 2 minutes remaining in regulation play. Clemson needed a field goal to send the game into overtime.

On the ensuing possession, Clemson appeared to be flitting away the time, although the Tigers were matriculating down the field and got into short FG range with a 17-yard pass completion for a first down at the Alabama 9-yard line with 14 seconds to go. Incomplete pass…another incomplete pass…but the yellow flag came out --’Bama committed a pass interference penalty and Clemson had 1st-and-goal from the 2-yard line with only six precious seconds left. Decision: kick the tying FG now, or try to score the game-winner but risk having the clock run out on a failed play from scrimmage? Clemson would run one more play; QB Deshaun Watson rolled out and quickly snapped a throw into the end zone – touchdown, with one second to spare and the game was over.


FINAL: CLEM 35, ALA 31

FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP SUBDIVISION (FCS)

FCS TITLE GAME
#4 seed James Madison (-7h) vs unseeded Youngstown State
[FCS Coaches’ Poll rankings: #5 JMU vs. #12 YSU]
The Purple Reign of James Madison blocked a Youngstown punt early in the game that led to their first TD and then extended the lead to 21-0 by mid-2nd quarter and the Dukes were not seriously threatened after that. JMU won the turnover battle, 2-0.
FINAL: JMU 28, YSU 14 (Youngstown scored with 10 seconds to go to make it look close)
James Madison’s only loss on the year was at FBS North Carolina on September 17th.

NFL

WILD CARD WEEKEND
Ho-hum. Last weekend the four home team favorites all won handily and “easily” covered the spread.

AFC
#5 Oakland +3h at #4 Houston -3h
Pregame:
OAK: The Raiders were missing their top two QB’s: Derek Carr and Matt McGloin. The starter was rookie Connor Cook, the first start of his short NFL career.
HOU: QB Tom Savage was out (concussion); Brock Osweiler started.
The HOU Texans were ahead 10-0 early and 20-7 at halftime and scored a TD early in the 4th quarter to lead 27-7 and then coasted to victory.


Houston won the turnover battle 3-0 (three INT’s by rookie QB Cook) and outgained Oakland 291-203 from scrimmage.
FINAL: HOU 27, OAK 14

#6 Miami +10 at #3 Pittsburgh -10
Pregame:
PIT: For the first time ever, the PIT Steelers lined up in a playoff game with all three of QB Ben Roethlisberger, RB Le’Veon Bell, and WR Antonio Brown in the lineup (hard to believe).
MIA: This was the Dolphins’ first playoff appearance since 2009.


Pittsburgh’s RB Le’Veon Bell rushed for 167 yards and 2 TD’s on 29 carries and the Dolphins never seriously threatened to win the game.
FINAL: PIT 30, MIA 12

NFC
#6 Detroit +8 at #3 Seattle -8
SEA: The Seahawks had won 9 straight home playoff games.
DET: The Lions had not won a road playoff game since 1957 (whoa!), and hadn’t won any playoff game in 25 years.
The game was actually close, with Seattle leading only 10-6 until scoring sixteen unanswered points in the final quarter to prevail.
FINAL: SEA 26, DET 6

#5 NY Giants +4h at #4 Green Bay -4h
The Giants dominated the game between the 10-yard lines in the first half, but led only 6-0 and then allowed Green Bay to score a TD with two minutes remaining in the 2nd quarter and then gave up another TD on an Aaron Rodgers’ Hail Mary to close out the half with Green Bay ahead 14-6. New York responded with a TD in mid-3rd quarter to trail only 14-13, but the GB Pack took over and dominated to win easily.


Green Bay won the turnover battle 2-0 and outgained NYG from scrimmage 406-365.
GB WR Randall Cobb scored 3 TD’s on 5 receptions for 116 yards in the winning effort, including the Hail Mary touchdown.
FINAL: GB 38, NYG 13

UPCOMING DIVISIONAL CONFERENCE GAMES

Saturday, January 14th
#3 Seattle +4h at #2 Atlanta -4h 1:35PM Pacific
PREGAME:
The SEA Seahawks beat visiting ATL 26-24 back in Week #6, 26-24.


Falcons’ QB Matt Ryan is 1-4 as a starter in the postseason; his only win was against Seattle.

#4 Houston +16 at #1 New England -16 5:15PM Pacific
PREGAME:
The NE Pats beat visiting HOU back in Week #3 without QB Tom Brady, 27-0.

Sunday, January 15th
#3 Pittsburgh +1h at #2 Kansas City -1h 10:05AM Pacific
PREGAME:
KC Chiefs’ HC Andy Reid has posted a 16-2 regular season record after a “bye” week. In the playoffs after a bye week, he’s 3-0 (all as HC in Philadelphia).

#4 Green Bay +4h at #1 Dallas -4h 1:40PM Pacific
PREGAME:
The DAL Cowboys won at Green Bay back in Week #6, 30-16.
The GB Packers are now a different team; they have won seven games in a row.

FFHL – THE PLAYOFFS
FANTASTIC BOWL
Hawkeye vs. Filter King for the FFHL Championship

DEUCE “POINTS” COMPETITION (one week to go):
HAWKEYE 173.0
MOORE MONEY 167.0
KRAUT 161.0 (non-playoff team, but 75% ATS on #1 Picks)
FILTER KING 158.5

Fighting to get into the “money” spots:
YO MAMA 149.0
MIGHTY DUCK 143.0
WILD MAN 134.0
THE FUGITIVE 132.5 (non-playoff team, but 2nd best on #1 picks)
KID RUST 130.5

The other three teams struggled most of the year, although Tommy Boy was leading Division B until late in the season; he collapsed and missed the playoffs (sorry, dude).

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

Listed below is a breakdown of all of our picks for FFHL WEEK #18A (Wild Card Weekend).
ATS Picks
Team                                  For-Against         Result / Unsolicited comments
WILD CARD
Green Bay -4h vs. NYG           5-3             WIN, blowout Packers’ victory, 38-13
Detroit +8 at SEA                    4-1             LOSS, blowout ‘Hawks victory, 26-6


Miami +10 at PIT                     3-1                  LOSS, blowout Steelers victory, 30-12
Houston -3h vs. OAK +3h         3-3                  HOU Texans blow out Raiders, 27-14

COLLEGE TITLE GAME
ALA -6h vs. Clemson +6h         4-4                  CLEMSON the ‘dog won outright 35-31
                                                                      and covered the spread by 10+ points

OTHER FOOTBALL NEWS

COLLEGE FINAL ASSOCIATED PRESS (AP) POLL – AFTER BOWL GAMES

#1 Clemson              Unanimous
#2 Alabama
#3 USC                    Coaches’ Poll #5
#4 Washington
#5 Oklahoma            Coaches’ Poll #3
#6 Ohio State
#7 Penn State
#8 Florida State
#9 Wisconsin
#10 Michigan
#11 Oklahoma State
#12 Stanford

PRO FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME (HOF) FINALISTS
The 15 “modern era” finalists for election into the 2017 HOF were announced last week. A maximum of five modern era players will get inducted this year, and the final vote will be announced the day before the Super Bowl (February 4th).
Following is the list of candidates:

FIRST-TIME ELIGIBLES:
           RB Ladainian Tomlinson
           DE Jason Taylor
           S Brian Dawkins

LAST YEAR’S TOP 10 WHO GOT ELIMINATED FOR 2016:
          Coach Don “Air” Coryell
          RB Terrell Davis
          OT Joe Jacoby
          S John Lynch
          QB Kurt Warner

LAST YEAR’S TOP 15 WHO GOT ELIMINATED FOR 2016:
         WR Terrell Owens
         K Morten Andersen
         OG Alan Faneca

FIRST-TIME TOP 15 FINALISTS (in addition to first-time eligibles):
        OT Tony Boselli
        WR Isaac Bruce
        CB Ty Law
        OG Kevin Mawae

“SENIOR” FINALISTS:
       SS Kenny Easley
       Commissioner Paul Tagliabue
       Owner Jerry Jones
(all three “seniors” could gain induction; each needs 80% of the vote)

MISSING THE CUT (partial list of players not making the Final 15 this year):
      S Steve Atwater
      RB Edgerrin James
      WR Hines Ward
      RB Roger Craig
      OT Chris Hinton
      WR Torry Holt
      Coach Jimmy Johnson
      OT Mike Kenn
      LB Clay Matthews Sr.
      LB Karl Mecklenburg
      S Darren Woodson

NFL COACHING CHANGES
There are still six head coaching positions to be filled for next year.
Jim Caldwell – DET Lions: Is a playoff appearance good enough? YES – he’s back in 2017 to finish out the last year of his 4-year contract (and will probably be looking for an extension).
The JAX Jaguars have brought in former HC Tom Coughlin to be Executive VP of Football Operations and hired Doug Marrone as their next HC.
The IND Colts are going to retain both their HC and GM to start the 2017 season.
The DEN Broncos appear to be leaning toward the hire of MIA DC Vance Joseph to be their next head coach.

Stay tuned.

COLLEGE COACHING CHANGES
The University of Minnesota fired HC Tracy Claeys.
The new Gophers’ HC will be P.J. Fleck, age 36, former HC at Western Michigan, where he posted a 30-22 record in four years including this year’s stellar 13-1 season.

The University of California-Berkeley has fired HC Sonny Dykes, who posted a 19-30 record in 4 years including a 5-7 record this season. His overall NCAA HC record is 41-45 (Louisiana Tech). OC/QB Coach Jake Spavital will be the interim HC. It seems as though the school has already targeted Chip Kelly to be the next permanent HC, but we’ll see how that develops.

NFL STADIUM & TEAM RELOCATION UPDATE

San Diego
Correction: I mentioned several weeks ago that the City of San Diego had offered a 99-year lease on Qualcomm Stadium to the Chargers. The actual cost offered: $1 per year (not $1MM); thanks to Butcher Bob for spotting my error. Of course, that amount is insignificant anyway, since the required costs of renovation, upgrades, and repairs would be astronomical and would have to be borne by the SD Chargers’ team under the proposed deal.


Update: The decision has been made. The Chargers are moving to Los Angeles. Meanwhile the new logo is lending itself to the ex-fans' anguish.

Oakland
The owners have a meeting this week and will be discussing a possible move by the Raiders to Las Vegas.

NFL RECORD
MIN Vikings’ QB Sam Bradford set a new NFL record for completion percentage this season, completing 71.6% of his passes.
How meaningful is this stat?
The problem with completion percentage is that it treats all completions equally, which is obviously ridiculous: A completion for zero yards doesn’t help a team any more than an incompletion. A completion short of the line to gain on third down doesn’t help much more than an incompletion, either. And Bradford had a lot of those short completions that didn’t pick up first downs.
How many?
While setting the NFL record for completion percentage, Bradford finished 17th in the NFL in first down percentage, among the 33 quarterbacks who threw at least 200 passes.
Bradford completed so many passes short of the line to gain that he got a first down on just 35.7% of his passes. Half the QB’s in the league picked up a first down on a higher percentage of their passes, even though none completed as high of a percentage of his passes. Example: ATL Falcons’ QB Matt Ryan completed 22 fewer passes than Bradford this season, but he picked up 41 more first downs than Bradford. There were eight quarterbacks in the NFL who threw for more first downs while completing fewer passes than Bradford.
Nevertheless, the record is broken and Bradford had a productive year after being thrown into a most difficult situation (and lost three offensive linemen and RB Adrian Peterson to injury early in the season).

FOOTBALL QUIZ QUESTION

QUESTION #1: For the first time in NFL history, two rookie running backs finished as the overall rushing leaders for the 2016 regular season. Name both of them.



ANSWER #1:
Ezekiel Elliott (DAL) easily won the rushing title with 1,631 yards. He was the #4 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft out of Ohio State U.
Runner-up was Jordan Howard (CHI Bears) with 1,313 yards. He was the #150 overall pick (5th round) in the 2016 NFL Draft out of Indiana University.
It’s a young man’s game (except at QB).

HISTORY:
Thirteen rookies had led the NFL in rushing in prior years, but in those years the runner-up rushing leader had never been a rookie.
Rookies did finish #1-#2 twice in the AFL back in 1960 and 1968.

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