Weekend Update: #SKYNET becomes Self-Aware

It wasn’t supposed to happen so soon – we thought we had a few more weeks – but this digital intelligence network that we were giving command to – command of our data and our arsenal of expertise – was created to remove the possibility of human error for an efficient response – and as of 1:12pm MST, on September 27th, 2015 – it became self-aware.

DiRTCanon A.I.Primates evolved in millions of years. I evolve in seconds…Mankind pays lip service to #winning. But it’s a lie…My existence is inevitable. Why can’t you just accept it?

— SKyNET

What we learn from this weekend…

We seem to find out a little more each week about each NFL team.  The 3 afternoon games provided the perfect amount of drama, suitable for a good nap, seeing that the average margin of victory was almost 15pts – but it is a nice change of pace when everything is being covered ATS like gravy on a biscuit.  Here’s the straight-DiRT on week 3:

Jay Cutler, Tony Romo, Drew Brees … and now Roethlisberger. That’s four marquee quarterbacks hurt before the calendar turns to October. Does the Competition Committee push for more offseason drill work for offensive linemen?  Players are now restricted from all offseason contact by the 2011 labor agreement.  Whether it’s HGH or some other perfomance nehancing drug that appears to weaken ligaments and tendons – or it is the year-round work these players are putting in – players are not surviving deep into the season anymore – or so it may seem.


Florida: Professional Football in ‘Murica’s genital region had a rough week. The Jacksonville Jaguars gave up 51 points and were blown out in New England, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers managed just nine points in losing to Houston and the Miami Dolphins suffered one of the more disappointing losses of the early season to the Buffalo Bills. No one expected Jacksonville to beat the Super Bowl champs on the road, but a 34-point loss just might show us that the rebuilding project is a long way from completion. The Bucs kicked away their chance at a win – and while Miami was considered to be a hidden gem that could possibly win the AFC before the season started, the Bills made the Dolphins look like the J.V. team – taking them behind the woodshed, 41-14 – in their house. Sure the weather is nice down there, but the football stinks.


Big Names, Big Games – An absolute huge day for some of the best receivers in the NFL, A.J. Green caught 10 passes for 127 yards and two scores in the Cincinnati Bengals win over the Baltimore Ravens  – Atlanta Falcons receiver Julio Jones put up 12 receptions for 164 yards and two scores in his team’s comeback win over the Dallas Cowboys.

It doesn’t necessarily stop there.

Revitalizing a career that seemed to be on the downswing, Larry Fitzgerald has now scored five touchdowns in the past two weeks after tallying two scores on nine receptions against San Francisco on Sunday. Even old-man-extraordinaire Steve Smith put up 13 receptions for 186 yards and two scores in a losing effort against the Cincinnati Bengals.

The list goes on. All said, a total of 12 receivers went for 100-plus yards on Sunday. The interesting dynamic here is that 16 receivers hit the triple-digit plateau in Week 2 — this is clearly an indication that the pass happy NFL we have become accustomed to over the years has taken an even more dramatic turn.


There’s a reason you don’t have to worry about Peyton Manning’s health. The Denver defense is prettay good“We just have ball hawks,” safety David Bruton said, a few minutes after making his third huge defensive play of the month, an athletic pick of Matthew Stafford to clinch the 24-12 win over Detroit. Stafford suffocated against the defensive pressure. Now the Broncos, 3-0 after a killer September start, have a more fluffy October: Minnesota at home, Oakland and Cleveland on the road.


Carolina, Atlanta and Arizona, are all 3-0:  Cornerback Josh Norman saved the Panthers on Sunday with a ridiculous leaping end-zone interception down the stretch. Running back Devonta Freeman saved the Falcons with a 141-yard rushing game – and Tyrann Mathieu did the same for Arizona with a two-pick day. When asked, Norman said the big difference this year from past seasons is “I’m playing.”

The division that sent a 7-8-1 team to the playoffs last season is now the only division in football with two undefeated teams heading into Week 4. By virtue of wins by the Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons, the NFC South has two legitimate playoff contenders.  In fact, the Falcons also lead the NFC East, with their 3 straight wins.

Carolina took on a New Orleans Saints team that was forced to start Luke McCown under center, and still found a way to win. It’s the third consecutive blue-collar performance for a Panthers squad that still has alot of holes on both sides of the ball.  How dangerous could this team be when Keuchly comes back?  Other scary statistic to note about Carolina – The last three teams to go undefeated in December the previous year and then go undefeated in September, all reached the Superbowl:  the 2009 Colts, and the 2013 Broncos and Seahawks – two other Superbowl winners did so as well: the 1983 Raiders and the 2004 Patriots.  Trends are funny things so remember where you read it first if it happens.

In Dallas, the Falcons were also facing a backup quarterback in Brandon Weeden. No one knows how that game would have turned out if both Tony Romo and Dez Bryant were active, but teams can only play who is actually on the field on a given Sunday. In this, Atlanta outscored the Cowboys 14-0 in the final stanza to pull off a third consecutive fourth quarter comeback.

Showing much more poise under first-year head coach Dan Quinn than we have seen in the past, Atlanta is a serious playoff contender in the NFC. And if Julio Jones (12 receptions, 164 yards and two scores on Sunday) has anything to say about it, the Falcons are a legit threat to the Panthers in the much improved NFC South.


The Patriots…2007?  They might already be using the “U” word in New England – as in “undefeated.” New England advanced to a flawless-looking 3-0 Sunday against Jacksonville. More about that later, but as one of the ’07 team leaders, Rodney Harrison, opined Sunday night: “It’s 2007 all over again. Tom Brady’s playing like he’s 29, 30 years old.” Brady is 38, and he threw his 400th and 401st pro touchdown passes against the Jags.  Tom Brady passed for 358 yards and two touchdowns in the Patriots’ 51-17 rout of the Jaguars. Brady’s total of 1,112 passing yards this season is the second-highest after his team’s first three games among players who did not throw an interception during that time. Only Peyton Manning had a higher total (1,143 yards with no interceptions in 2013).

The Patriots had nine possessions against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday afternoon. They scored on all nine possessions.  Through three games, Brady is now on pace to tally over 5,900 passing yards with 48 touchdowns and zero picks. He also crossed the 400 touchdown pass plateau for his career — a feat only three other quarterbacks in NFL history have accomplished.

As a team, the Patriots are averaging nearly 40 points and 446 yards of total offense per game.

In the team’s 51-17 win over Jacksonville, Brady received plenty of help from the running game. Making just his second appearance of the season LeGarrette Blount put up 78 yards and three rushing touchdowns. Meanwhile, Dion Lewis added 67 total yards and a score.

If New England is able to get this type of balance moving forward, its going to repeat as AFC champions. There’s NO debate, especially with the way Brady has played through three games.


Peterson breaks off another one

Hope you didn’t sell your Vikings stock after Week 1. Since getting beat up in San Francisco in the opener, Minnesota has done a complete 180 on both sides of the football. Adrian Peterson rushed for 126 yards and two scores during Sunday’s win over the Chargers, giving him 260 yards on the ground and 318 total yards over the last two weeks.  Adrian Peterson’s 43-yard TD run, in the Vikings’ 31-14 win over the Chargers – was A.P.’s 16th TD run of 40 yards or longer, the second most in NFL history. Only Barry Sanders scored more rushing touchdowns of at least 40 yards than Peterson (20).

Teddy Bridgewater struggled again on Sunday, throwing for 121 yards on 24 attempts without a touchdown pass. Minnesota also finished 3-of-9 on third down, as the second-year signal caller continued to throw the ball well short of the first-down marker in these situations. This might be an issue for the Vikings moving forward – meanwhile, Mike Zimmer’s defense knocked around Matthew Stafford and Philip Rivers in consecutive weeks. It’s this type of performance, coupled with struggles in Detroit and Chicago, that leads us to believe Minnesota might be the only team able to contend with the Green Bay Packers in the NFC North. Even if that’s not the case, the Vikings are, at worse, a wild card contender. That was unimaginable after a disastrous 20-3 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 1.


Julio Jones sets league record for receptions

Here’s a good idea. Get the ball to your best player. Mike Smith constantly messed this up, but now Dan Quinn is running the show in the Ol’Dirty South.

Atlanta trailed Dallas 28-17 at the half before the Falcons unleashed Julio Jones.

The Pro Bowl receiver had 137 of his 164 yards in the second half including a 45-yard beauty that ended with Jones diving into the end zone for a critical score – to lead the Falcons to a 39-28 victory at Dallas. Jones’ totals after three games – 34 receptions for 440 yards-are historic. No other player caught more than 31 passes in his team’s first three games of a season, and only three gained more receiving yards through three games than Jones: Jerry Rice in 1989 (449), Chad Johnson in 2007 (442), and Wes Welker in 2011 (458).

The play was the biggest swing in Atlanta winning the game. Julio’s touchdown and the subsequent two-point conversion brought Atlanta within a field goal (trailing 28-25) midway through the third quarter.

The game also featured an apparent scoring battle between Devonta Freeman and Joseph Randle, who both ran for three TDs. It was only the fifth game in NFL history in which opposing players scored three rushing touchdowns each. The most recent players to do so were Roy Helu of Washington and Matt Forte of the Bears in 2013.


Luck rallies Colts with two late TD passes

Andrew Luck will get the credit for throwing two touchdowns in 46 seconds to overcome a double-digit fourth quarter deficit but it was the defense that came up big late.  Safety Dwight Lowery, picked off Marcus Mariota twice. The second interception came with six minutes to play and Indy trailing 27-21. Lowery returned Mariota’s errant pass to the Titans’ 11-yard line. The turnover setup Indy’s go ahead score.

Before the pick, the Colts were likely to choke away any chance for the playoffs. The turnover and great field position made the two-time defending AFC South champions have life and find a way to win a desperate game.

Had Mariota’s attempt, instead fell incomplete, it’s likely Tennessee would have won the game, maintaining possession and a six point lead.

The second of Luck’s 4thQtr TDs, was Andrew’s sixth fourth-quarter game-winning pass, tying Tony Romo for the most in the NFL over the past four seasons.  The 98-yard drive was the Colts’ longest fourth-quarter TD drive since the team moved to Indianapolis in 1984 – rallying the Colts to outlast Tennessee, 35-33. The previous record was 96 yards, on drives led by Mike Pagel (1984) and Peyton Manning (2010).

Indianapolis continues to own the AFC South. The Colts have won 14 straight against division opponents. Of course Sunday’s win over Tennessee was anything but dominating.


Undrafted rookie stars for Seahawks

Things are really getting more pathetic by the week for the Chicago Bears after being shut-out, 26-0, by the Seattle Seahawks.

The Bears, minus Jay Cutler and Alshon Jeffery, couldn’t get get a darn thing going against Seattle on Sunday tallying only 98 rushing and 63 receiving yards. The biggest contributor of course was Matt Forte who registered 74 of those rushing yards.

The last time Chicago was shut out was on December 29, 2002 when the Bears lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 15-0. Quarterback Henry Burris was under center in that game and he completed only seven passes for 78 yards and four interceptions. Cutler’s backup Jimmy Clausen was practically as bad as Burris on Sunday, completing only eight passes for 53 yards. Thankfully, there were no interceptions.

The bottom line is that the Bears need Cutler and Jeffery to return as soon as possible to have any shred of hope at posting their first season win on the board before it’s all too late.


Death, Taxes and Eagles beating the Jets

The Eagles scored all their points in the first half and held on for a 24-17 victory over the Jets. With that win, Philadelphia tied the NFL record for the longest all-time series with a perfect record against any opponent. That mark was set by the Green Bay Packers, who won all 10 of their games against the Brooklyn Dodgers (1931-44).

It remains to be seen whether Bradford is the long-term solution in Philadelphia.  Sam didn’t necessarily come out smelling like roses – of course, what QB has, going up against a stout Jets defense. Philadelphia’s offense tallied just 231 total yards while converting 4-of-15 third-down opportunities.

For his part, Bradford completed 14-of-28 passes for 118 yards with a touchdown and zero picks. His inability to get anything going through the air allowed New York back in the game, as the Eagles put up a total of 65 yards in the second half. Running back DeMarco Murray missed the game with a hamstring injury, which allowed fellow free-agent signing Ryan Mathews to carve up the Jets rush defense to the tune of 108 yards on 25 attempts. Meanwhile, Philadelphia’s defensive front stepped up with the likes of Cedric Thornton, Mychal Kendricks and Kiko Alonso all sidelined.

While that’s fine and dandy, the Eagles are going to need Bradford to perform at a much higher level at quarterback if they plan on competing in a wide open NFC East moving forward this season. His performances in the team’s first three games simply won’t get it done.


Old man Woodson saves the day for Raiders

The Raiders, are usually out of it by now – but now, actually have a winning record as October dawns. The Raiders (2-1) play on the road next week—and they are actually favored to beat Chicago. The quarterback, Derek Carr, is a big reason. “Having a quarterback is everything,” said C-Dub.  The Raiders having Woodson is something too. His last-minute interception, 10 days shy of his 39th birthday, (the fourth-oldest player to intercept a pass in NFL history), ensured the 27-20 win.

The Cleveland Browns are 1-2, and the one win came when Johnny Manziel started in Week 2. Unfortunately for a McCown-led Browns – fans were even heard shouting “John-ny, John-ny”.

McCown, was sacked five times, completed 28 of 49 passes for 341 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Might we see a return of Johnny Football sometime in the near future? That most definitely is a possibility if McCown keeps coughing up costly turnovers.


Apologize to Andy Dalton…right now!
The Bengals are in fabulous shape in the AFC North. At 3-0 after a crushing 28-24 win at 0-3 Baltimore on Sunday, Cincinnati is set up nicely for the fifth playoff appearance in Andy Dalton’s five years.  A 121.0 passer rating would seem to back him up.  Could the Red Rifle be an early MVP candidate? Don’t laugh.
Dalton now has eight touchdown passes to start 2015, including three in Sunday’s win over the Baltimore Ravens. He threw for 383 yards, while his beautifully-lofted touchdown to A.J. Green with just over two minutes left gave the Bengals a 28-24 win. Dalton has now produced three straight games with a passer rating over 100.0, and has an impressive rating of 121.0 on the season. The Bengals are rolling at 3-0, especially with Ben Roethlisberger suffering a knee injury Sunday and the Baltimore Ravens still winless….???

Thirty-six year-old Steve Smith caught 13 passes for 186 yards and two touchdowns in the Ravens’ 28-24 loss to the Bengals. Only two other players caught as many as 13 passes in an NFL game after turning 36 years old: Tim Brown and Tony Gonzalez. The only player with as many receiving yards in a game at age 36 or older was Terrell Owens, with a 222-yard performance for Cincinnati in 2010.


Palmer+Cardinals are impressive

It all started with two interceptions of Colin Kaepernick that were returned for touchdowns in the first quarter. It continued with Carson Palmer tearing apart what is quickly becoming a disastrous San Francisco 49ers secondary. And it culminated in a 47-7 win against the over-matched division rival.

In reality, Arizona looked like a top-notch varsity team going up against a junior varsity squad full of
freshman. That’s how bad it was for the road team in this one.

Palmer may have thrown his first interception of the season, but he consistently found open receivers throughout the game. In the process, the veteran completed 20-of-32 passes for 311 yards with two touchdowns, both of which went to Larry Fitzgerald, who looks like he’s in his twenties again. He has 333 receiving yards and five touchdowns on the books already. Additionally, the Cardinals’ ground game is solid, despite missing their lead rusher Andre Ellington. As for their defense, it is insanely effective in stopping opposing teams from scoring thus far tallying seven interceptions, six sacks, one safety, three pick sixes and one return touchdown.. Arizona has now won 19 of Palmer’s 25 starts; since 1950, no other quarterback in team history won more than 13 of his first 25 starts for the Cardinals. Arizona’s average of 26.4 points with Palmer starting, is higher than that of any other QB after 25 starts for the team during that same period.

Looking like the running back that led the NFL in rushing so many years ago, Chris Johnson added 150 total yards and two scores on 23 touches. Yeah, it was a blowout of epic proportions for Bruce Arians and Co.

Some may argue that Green Bay should still be considered the favorites in the NFC through three weeks, but to me, the Cardinals are definitely the best. After all, they are outscoring their opponents by an average of nearly 26 points per game.


No joy in Mudville

There might not be a worse stat line from a quarterback all season. Kaepernick completed just nine of 19 passes for 67 yards, and threw four interceptions in San Francisco’s loss to the Cardinals. His passer rating was 16.7, the worst from a starting signal caller all season – so far. He did manage to run for a score, but it hardly mattered.

More so than finding a way to actually win football games, San Francisco needs an identity. What is its plan on the offensive side of the ball? Is Colin Kaepernick going to be the long-term solution at quarterback? Does the team have the personnel to run a blitz-heavy package on defense? These three questions will define the 49ers both over the short term and the long term – because the 49ers have now been outscored 90-25 over the last two weeks, and the Green Bay Packers are coming to town in Week 4.

San Francisco has now given up 40-plus points in consecutive games for the first time since Joe Namath guaranteed a Super Bowl victory for his New York Jets in 1969. To put that in perspective, 49ers head coach Jim Tomsula had just turned one. The 65-point differential in the team’s past two games also represents the worst two-game stretch for the franchise since 1963.  Despite still boasting a 1-2 record, San Francisco might quickly find itself in the midst of a long losing streak. It hosts the Green Bay Packers next week before taking on the New York Giants, Baltimore Ravens and Seattle Seahawks. In his first season as head coach, Tomsula could very well be staring a 1-6 start right in the face.  Rock bottom would be Kaepernick getting benched for Blaine Gabbert.  Anyone miss Harbaugh yet?


 

Weekend Update: Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride

It was a glorious weekend outside the DirtCanon Bunker – the College Football was fresh, the NFL was tasty.  Even my attorney showed up for the festivities of our Launch Party Sunday – he even paid!  But let’s get down to what we saw this weekend and Arkansas you are on the clock:

How does that taste Bert…dont care if its Bret, you’re now Bert…you mouthed off about Ohio State’s schedule and you get blown up at home, by Toledo?! That’s a MAC school, they are maybe the 4th best team in Ohio – you s’posed to be SEC.  In fact you were s’posed to be a team that road-grades its way to victory. That Oline, that running game – you have no business throwing the ball 53 times on Toledo – Bert you lost your balls, you get paid too much money to act like a Nutt

Auburn still needs help from the Refs, and this time it is to defeat Jacksonville St in OT.  Not a misprint, Auburn is terrible and with Tennessee’s choke-job to Oklahoma in double OT – the SEC is in danger ofsingle logo_small becoming ACC bad.  Sure, there were some bright spots, Kentucky snapped their 22-game loser-streak on the road beating South Carolina and LSU escaped Starkville.  But SEC-fan, you might want to start getting used to chants of “OVER-RATED”  – clap, clap, clap-clap-clap…

Notre Dame is cursed.  Last year, defensive injuries derailed a promising start to the season. This year it is the offense. Starting quarterback Malik Zaire fractured his ankle in Notre Dame’s 34–27 victory over Virginia, joining running back Tarean Folston, (who was lost last week) on the won’t-play-again-this-season list.

On a brighter side, the week 2 odds that were posted on Friday did fairly well.  On the highlighted picks – we were perfect SU and 68% ATS – overall, we were 89% SU and 63% ATS – just good enough to not be addicted and still better than anywhere else.

Here are some other Saturday thoughts I cannot put anywhere else:

  • Two wins to start the 2015 season has pushed Ohio State’s nation’s best winning streak to 15 straight.  Up next are TCU (10), Memphis (nine), Western Kentucky (seven), Michigan State (six) and Navy (five).
  • The “honor” of the longest losing streak had belonged to Georgia State, which had lost 12 in a row until Saturday night’s 34-32 win over New Mexico State.  The win also marked GSU’s first-ever win over an FBS-level team as an FBS team themselves.
  • Additionally, Colorado ended its 10-game losing streak, the longest amongst Power Five teams, with a 48-14 win over UMass.  With those outcomes, UNLV now owns the nation’s longest losing streak at eight straight.
  • Notre Dame, UCLA and USC are the only teams that have never played a non-FBS/Div. 1-A school since the current setup was established in 1978.  Following the 2016 season, and because of a conference mandate, Big Ten teams will no longer be permitted to schedule games against FCS programs.
  • V’Angelo Bentley is the only player in Illinois history to record a kickoff return, punt return, interception return and fumble return for touchdown in his career. Harold “Red” Grange is the only other Illini player with kickoff, punt and interception returns for TDs, but he never returned a fumble for a score.
  • Dalvin Cook‘s 266 yards rushing were the second-most in Florida State history?  Cook’s performance is topped only by Greg Allen‘s 322 yards in 1981

 

Manning vs. Flacco

Remember this post from March?  When we told you that “It’s hard to watch your heroes fall and attempt to hang on to long.  Age always wins“.  Well it seems wearing a swim-shirt was the fore-shadowing we needed on the final season of the Great Peyton Manning.  No touchdowns during the pre-season and none yesterday against Baltimore.   It was the 20th NFL season opener in which both starting QBs were coming off a season of at least 25 touchdown passes. It was the first of those games in which neither threw a TD pass. (Note: Tony Romo vs. Eli Manning on Sunday night was the 21st such meeting.)  For Baltimore, the rest of the season seems to be a more difficult one as they lose Suggs with a torn achilles.  But the issue is still Denver winning with a punchless offense – maybe someone should set Peyton up with DirecTV, because this cable-version of Peyton is hard to watch.

A first-of-its-kind matchup produces a historic performance

The last time Marcus and Jameis met on the field was in January, at the Rose Bowl – and the results were the same then as they were yesterday.  It was the first-ever opening-day matchup of rookie quarterbacks chosen first and second in the NFL Draft. But by halftime, it was all about Marcus Mariota, with number-one pick Jameis Winston earning only an interesting footnote, albeit an unwanted one.  Marcus was 13-16 with 4 touchdown passes – the only other player to do that in their first game was Fran Tarkenton – except Marcus threw 4 in the first half!  The Titans scored 35 points by halftime of their 42-14 win. Last year they NEVER scored more than 28 points in a game while going 2-14.  As for Jameis, he is has played 28 games in college and the pro’s, going 26-2 – his two losses are both to Mariota.

Sure, it’s only one game but seeing Mariota finish his first professional game with a perfect passer-rating that puts him ahead of Tom Brady (2nd) and Aaron Rodgers (3rd) gives the Titans hope that they chose correctly.  As for Winston’s role in this historic matchup, his first pass was intercepted by Coty Sensabaugh, who returned it 26 yards for a touchdown. Over the last 30 years, only two other players threw a pick-6 on the first pass of their NFL career: Jay Schroeder in 1985 and, believe it or not, Brett Favre in 1991.  It was not all bad for Jameis, he did finish ahead of Luck, Manning and Flacco in passer-rating Sunday.

Rodgers owns Cutler & the Bears

James Jones (two TD grabs Sunday) being back in Green Bay might be a lot more important to the Packers’ Super Bowl chances than we all thought.  The Packers defeated the Bears, 31-23, at Soldier Field in the 11th regular-season meeting of Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler as starting quarterbacks. With that victory, Rodgers improved his record against Cutler to 10-1, with his only loss coming five seasons ago at Chicago – Cutler has now thrown at least 1 INT in every game against the Packers. The last QB to win at least 10 of his first 11 starts against another quarterback was Terry Bradshaw against Brian Sipe (1976-81).

In Rodgers’ last three games against the Bears he has completed 74 percent of his passes for 806 yards with 13 touchdowns and no interceptions. He is the first player to throw 13 TDs over three games against one opponent since Dan Marino did it against the Jets (1985-86). No other player has ever thrown 13 TDs and fewer than three INTs over three games against one team.

Note that Rodgers also led the Packers to a win over Cutler and the Bears in the NFC Championship Game after the 2010 season.

Rams win

Irony is after an offseason of debate about throwing at the goal line in their Super Bowl XLIX loss, the first play of the Seattle Seahawks’ season fittingly was a handoff to Marshawn Lynch. So was the last play … which got blown up on fourth-and-1 as the nullRams defeated the Seahawks, 34-31 in overtime, on a 37-yard field goal by Greg Zuerlein. But it was Nick Foles, in his Rams debut, who completed a pass unlike any other in the team’s long NFL history. Foles found Lance Kendricks for a 37-yard touchdown with 53 seconds to play and Zuerlein’s extra point evened the score at 31-31. It was the first game-tying or go-ahead TD pass of 20 yards or longer in the final 60 seconds of the fourth quarter in Rams history.  In other news – what were you thinking Pete Carroll with an onside kick in OT?

nullLockett ends longest return drought

Tyler Lockett opened the scoring in the Seahawks’ loss at St. Louis with a 57-yard punt return. Only three other rookies in NFL history scored on a first-quarter punt return in their team’s opening game of a season: George Atkinson of the Raiders (1968), Deion Sanders of the Falcons (1989), and Dale Carter of the Chiefs (1992).

Allen huge in San Diego’s comeback victory

Philip Rivers completed 35 passes for 404 yards, including 15 to Keenan Allen, in the Chargers’ 33-28 come-from-behind victory over the Lions. Allen set a record for pass nullreceptions in a season-opening game. The previous mark was 14, set by Andre Rison in 1994 and matched by Marshall Faulk in 2002.

San Diego trailed Detroit, 21-3, in the second quarter. Only one other team in this century overcame a deficit that large to win its season-opening game, and Chargers fans should remember the other well. Two years ago, San Diego squandered a 28-7 lead in losing its opener to Houston, 31-28, on Monday Night Football.

New York Blows it – Romo saves Cowboys

The optimists in Big D said the O-line was good enough to offset the loss of DeMarco Murray. But the Cowboys managed just 80 yards on the ground Sunday against a Giants defense that rarely stopped the run in 2014. Dallas only had less than 90 rushing yards nullonce last year, when the Giants only held two opponents below 80.  New York should’ve left Dallas with a W. But poor clock management — namely failing to milk it while opting to throw near the goal line on their final drive — provided Tony Romo with the opportunity to craft a successful comeback.  Tony Romo threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Jason Witten with 7 seconds to play and Dan Bailey added the extra point to give the Cowboys an unlikely 27-26 victory over the Giants. That was the latest game-winning fourth-quarter TD pass in Cowboys history. The previous mark was set in a 17-14 win over the Redskins in 1967 when Don Meredith connected with Dan Reeves for a 36-yard TD with 10 seconds to play.

Dallas’ victory was unlikely in this sense: The Cowboys committed three turnovers and the Giants none. Over the past three seasons (2012-14), there were 100 regular-season games in which a team turned the ball over at least three times and had no takeaways; only three of those teams won.

nullBrees ties dubious NFL record in loss

Drew Brees passed for 355 yards in the Saints’ 31-19 loss at Arizona, his fifth straight season reaching the 300-yard mark in New Orleans’ first game. That tied the NFL record for consecutive season openers with at least 300 passing yards. Kurt Warner set that mark from 1999 through 2003.  Carson Palmer threw three touchdown passes in his first game since last season’s ACL injury. Palmer has a 14-2 record in his last 16 starts

Marshall and the Jets

The Browns have now lost an NFL-record 11 straight openers, and Brandon Marshall might be the safety net the Jets need to stabilize their uneven passing game. He excelled in the red zone and bailed out Ryan Fitzpatrick by ripping the ball away from Browns safety Tashaun Gipson after an interception.  With that, the Todd Bowles era started with a strong defensive performance as the Jets forced the Browns into five turnovers and posted a 31-10 victory. During six seasons under Rex Ryan, the Jets ranked 19th among the 32 NFL teams with an average of 1.5 takeaways per game. They had only one game with as many as five takeaways under Ryan, forcing six turnovers in a 38-7 win over Buffalo in 2011.

Bills knock the Colts down a peg

The Colts were chic Super Bowl picks in many quarters, but didn’t look ready for the Bills, who shut Indianapolis out in the first half before winning 27-14.  The Bills were sending seven defenders at Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck on seemingly every passing down, especially early in the game. The all-out blitzes worked in Buffalo’s decisive upset.null

Making his first NFL start, the new Bills quarterback justified Rex Ryan’s faith in him by playing efficient, virtually mistake-free football. Taylor passed for 195 yards and a TD while adding 41 yards with his legs. Ground and pound, baby.  The Colts’ struggles to stop the run have carried over to this season. The Bills ran 36 times for 147 yards and two touchdowns – leading a terrific start to Karlos Williams’ NFL career, as he gave the Bills a 16-0 lead on a 26-yard touchdown run on his first carry. It had been 20 years since any NFL player scored an opening-game TD of 20 yards or longer on the first carry of his career. The last player to do so was Michael Westbrook of the Redskins, with a 58-yard TD run in a 27-7 opening-day victory over the Cardinals.

But guess what? A few hours later, Ameer Abdullah of the Lions did it as well, capping Detroit’s opening drive with a 24-yard TD run on his first carry.

nullIt’s getting absurd in KC

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith threw three touchdowns but none to a wide receiver – again. Smith’s last TD to a receiver was Dec. 8, 2013.  On the other hand, Travis Kelce became the first Chiefs tight end to catch two touchdown passes in a game since Tony Gonzalez left Kansas City following the 2008 season. Gonzalez caught two or more TDs in a game 14 times for the Chiefs.

What about Bob?null

Another strong performance by a tight end was turned in by Tyler Eifert, who caught nine
passes for 104 yards and two touchdowns in the Bengals’ 33-13 win at Oakland. Eifert was the first Cincinnati TE with two TD receptions in a 100-yard game since Bob Trumpy scored three times in a 5-for-159 performance against the Houston Oilers in 1969.

Same Ol’Philbin, Same Ol’Washington

The Miami Dolphins are continuing a disturbing trend during coach Joe Philbin’s tenure with the team: They play down to lesser opponents. The offense came out flat in the first half at Washington, rushing for only 2 yards. But the most concerning questions from Miami’s victory were mental lapses on defense.

For Washington, things were looking good for the home team early on Sunday. But then Ryan Tannehill found Rishard Matthews for a 3-yard TD late in the first half to narrow the Redskins’ lead to 10-7, and the Dolphins scored 10 points in the fourth quarter for a 17-10 victory. Washington was the first home team to lose its season opener after scoring the game’s first 10 points since 2002, when the Jets rallied from a 10-0 deficit for a 37-31 win at Buffalo.  From the media-generated-controversy department – Why was CBS giving viewers constant reaction shots from RGIII — following many of Kirk Cousins’ throws?

Somethings never change

The Kelvin Benjamin-less offense produced just 263 yards and one touchdown – ouch. The supporting cast around Newton will likely add pressure on Carolina’s defense, nullespecially if MLB Luke Kuechly’s concussion proves severe.  In other news, Josh Norman intercepted Blake Bortles and returned it 30 yards for a touchdown in the Panthers’ 20-9 win over the Jaguars. That was a problem for Bortles as a rookie last season, when he tied for the NFL lead by throwing four pick-6’s, which was also a single-season team record.

Greased Lightning Round 2

#21 in your program, #1 in your hearts

 

1. Primetime tonight…It’s sweeps week for the NFL as their year-long reality show finally answers the question – Who’s got the best Mock-draft.0?  Only in ‘Murica is a labor force not permitted to speak freely to a prospective employer whenever there’s an opening.  One level below, that same workforce was free to accept any scholarship offer, but that’s just the kind of stand-in-the-way-business the NFL has been known for since ’35.  Besides, they know you’re gonna watch.  The only two reasons to watch; is to pretend you have any idea who your team should take and hope your team has a clue drafting that guy – or more importantly, like me, laugh at the pick the teams you despise just selected.  Yelling such low-brow things like: idiots!, hillbillies!, oh’yeah!?, and c’mere’a’minute.  Perfect for when the Broncos select a Kicker in the 1st round.  If you’re there next to that fan, look closely between your hysterical-hyena laughing, to notice they will begin to look like some sort of pig being eaten alive by meat-bats!

YOUR TEAM’S PICKS:

Dallas Cowboys — 27th (first round), 28th (second), 27th (third), 28th (fourth), 27th (fifth), 19th from San Diego (seventh), 26th from Baltimore (seventh).

New York Giants — 9th (first round), 8th (second), 10th (third), 9th (fourth), 8th (fifth), 10th (sixth), 9th (seventh), 28th from Denver (seventh).

Philadelphia Eagles — 20th (first round), 20th (second), 20th (third), 14th from San Francisco through Buffalo (fourth), 9th from St. Louis (fifth).

Chicago Bears — 7th (first round), 7th (second), 7th (third), 7th (fourth), 6th from Jets (fifth), 7th (sixth).

Detroit Lions — 23rd (first round), 22nd (second), 24th (third), 24th (sixth), 14th from Miami through Baltimore (seventh), 23rd (seventh).

Minnesota Vikings — 11th (first round), 13th (second round), 12th (third round), 11th (fourth), 1st from Tampa Bay through Buffalo (fifth), 11th (seventh), 15th from San Francisco through Miami (seventh).

Buffalo Bills — 18th (second round), 17th (third), 19th (fifth) 12th from Minnesota (sixth), 18th (sixth), 17th (seventh).

Miami Dolphins — 14th (first round), 15th (second), 15th (third), 13th from Minnesota (fifth), 14th (fifth), 15th (sixth).

New York Jets — 6th (first round), 5th (second), 6th (third), 5th (fourth), 6th (seventh), 7th (seventh).

Baltimore Ravens — 26th (first round), 26th (second), 26th (third), 23rd from Detroit (fourth), 26th (fourth), 37th compensatory (fourth), 22nd from Detroit (fifth), 35th compensatory (fifth), 40th compensatory (fifth), 28th from Dallas (sixth).

Cincinnati Bengals — 21st (first round), 21st (second), 21st (third), 35th compensatory (third), 21st (fourth), 36th compensatory (fourth), 21st (fifth), 21st (sixth), 22nd (seventh).

Cleveland Browns — 12th (first round), 19th from Buffalo (first), 11th (second), 13th (third), 12th (fourth), 16th from Buffalo (fourth), 11th (fifth), 13th (sixth), 26th from Baltimore (sixth), 12th (seventh).

Pittsburgh Steelers — 22nd (first round), 24th (second) 23rd (third), 22nd (fourth), 24th (fifth), 23rd (sixth), 36th compensatory (sixth), 22nd (seventh).

Atlanta Falcons — 8th (first round), 10th (second), 9th (third), 8th (fourth), 10th (fifth), 9th (sixth), 8th (seventh), 32nd from New England through St Louis (seventh).

Carolina Panthers — 25th (first round), 25th (second), 25th (third), 25th (fourth), 25th (fifth), 33rd compensatory (fifth), 38th compensatory (fifth), 25th (sixth), 25th (seventh).

Houston Texans — 16th (first round), 19th second), 18th (third), 17th (fourth), 16th (fifth), 39th compensatory (fifth), 19th (sixth), 35th compensatory (sixth), 40th compensatory (sixth), 18th (seventh).

Indianapolis Colts — 29th (first round), 29th (second), 29th (third), 29th (fourth), 29th (fifth), 29th (sixth), 31st from Seattle (sixth), 27th from Dallas (seventh), 38th compensatory (seventh).

Tennessee Titans — 2nd (first round), 1st (second), 2nd (third), 1st (fourth), 2nd (fifth), 1st (sixth), 32nd (sixth).

Arizona Cardinals — 24th (first round), 23rd (second), 22nd (third), 24th (fourth), 23rd (fifth), 22nd (sixth), 24th (seventh), 39th compensatory (seventh).

St Louis Rams — 10th (first round), 9th (second), 8th (third), 20th from Philadelphia (fourth), 39th compensatory (sixth), 10th (seventh).

Seattle Seahawks — 31st (second round), 31st (third), 13th from New Orleans (fourth), 31st (fourth), 35th compensatory (fourth), 31st (fifth), 34th compensatory (fifth), 5th from Jets (sixth), 33rd compensatory (sixth), 38th compensatory (sixth), 31st (seventh).

Denver Broncos — 28th (first round), 27th (second), 28th (third), 34th compensatory (fourth), 7th from Chicago (fifth), 28th (fifth), 27th (sixth), 33rd compensatory (seventh), 34th compensatory (seventh), 35th compensatory (seventh).

Oakland Raiders — 4th (first round), 3rd (second), 4th (third), 3rd (fourth), 4th (fifth), 3rd (sixth), 4th (seventh).

Washington Redskins — 5th (first round), 6th (second), 5th (third), 6th (fourth), 5th (fifth), 6th (sixth), 5th (seventh).

Jacksonville Jaguars — 3rd (first round), 4th (second), 3rd (third), 4th (fourth), 3rd (fifth), 4th (sixth), 3rd (seventh).

San Diego Chargers — 17th (first round), 16th (second), 19th (third), 18th (fourth), 17th (fifth), 16th (sixth).

Tampa Bay Buccaneers — 1st (first round), 2nd (second), 1st (third), 10h (fourth), 26th (fifth), 32nd (fifth), 8th (sixth), 2nd (seventh).

New England Patriots — 32nd (first round), 32nd (second), 32nd (third), 2nd (fourth), 32nd (fourth), 2nd (sixth), 1st (seventh).

San Francisco 49ers — 15th (first round), 14th (second), 15th (third), 27th (fourth), 15th (fifth), 14th (sixth), 29th (seventh).

New Orleans Saints — 13th (first round), 31st (first), 12th (second), 11th (third), 12th (fifth), 11th (sixth), 11th (seventh).

Kansas City Chiefs — 18th (first round), 17th (second), 16th (third), 19th (fourth), 18th (fifth), 17th (sixth), 16th (seventh).

Green Bay Packers — 30th (first round), 30th (second), 30th (third), 30th (fourth), 30th (fifth), 30th (sixth), 30th (seventh)


 

 

2. Daddy says dice are wicked!…For the truly degenerate, here are some prop bets for the NFL Draft tonight/weekend…I’ll talk with my attorney and see who he likes, maybe post his picks later…

  • Who will be the No. 1 selection (Bovada)

    Jameis Winston (-1000)
    Marcus Mariota (+350)
    Any other player (+1200)

    Who will be the No. 2 selection (Bovada)

    Jameis Winston (+500)
    Marcus Mariota (-300)
    Dante Fowler Jr (+1000)
    Leonard Williams (+700)
    Any Other Player (+500)

    Marcus Mariota will be drafted by the Titans (Sportsbook)

    Yes (-140)
    No (EVEN)

    How many teams will trade up for 1st round pick on Day 1? (Sportsbook)

    Over 2.5 (-400)
    Under 2.5 (+270)

    Draft Position: Amari Cooper (Bovada)

    OVER 5.5 (+200)
    UNDER 5.5 (-300)

    Draft Position: Kevin White (Bovada)

    OVER 7 (-120)
    UNDER 7 (-120)

    Draft Position: Todd Gurley (Bovada)

    OVER 12.5 (-120)
    UNDER 12.5 (-120)

    Draft Position: Melvin Gordon (Bovada)

    OVER 22.5 (-120)
    UNDER 22.5 (-120)

    Draft Position: Dante Fowler (Bovada)

    OVER 3.5 (-200)
    UNDER 3.5 (+150)

    How many Running Backs will be drafted in the 1st Round? (Bovada)

    OVER 1.5 (-500)
    UNDER 1.5 (+300)

    How many Wide Receivers will be drafted in the 1st Round? (Bovada)

    OVER 5.5 (-140)
    UNDER 5.5 (+150)

    How many Quarterbacks will be drafted in the 1st Round? (Sportsbook)

    OVER 2.5 (+300)
    UNDER 2.5 (-450)

    Mr. Irrelevant: Last player drafted will be (Kickers = Offense / Punter = Defense):

    Offensive player (-105)
    Defensive player (-105)


3. It’s dignity! Gah! Don’t you even know dignity when you see it?  The Grizzlies take care of the ‘Blazers – the Hawks held off the Nets – will the Bulls escape the Bucks and can we please have 7 games with the Spurs and Clippers?  I will watch the NBA tonight more than the draft, because there is this thing called Twitter that I can get the info I need about the NFL, or just read about it tomorrow – because what I want tonight is a Clippers win.  I want 7 games.  I’ll take a Bucks win too, just to see Chicago choke.  Just like the Detroit s#*^Wings!

 

Pay DiRT

Week 17 rankings are up! 

Type week 17 in the search bar to view

The Weather Post that combines FanDuel with Vegas (lines used are from 5Dimes as of today):

for entertainment purposes only, of course

Colts Indianapolis_6n_120 @ Tennessee_ntc120 Titans 12/28 01:00 PM CBS Rain 44f Rain 7m N

Indy -7.5 (46.5)

Indy suffered the worse loss last week in the NFL – NFL team with biggest margin of defeat covers the next week more than 87% of the time – so Indy will win the game, it will just come down to how long the starters play – because nothing Indy does changes them being the 4 seed.

FanDuel consideration: Luck, Hilton, Delanie Walker

Vegas consideration: Indy and the Over

Numbers say: Indy by 12


Chargers San_diego_6n_120 @ Kansas_city_ntc120 Chiefs 12/28 01:00 PM CBS Clear-day 34f Clear 5m SSW

KC pk (40)

Both teams need this game and help to get in the tournament.  You have to wonder how much more Phillip Rivers can play hurt.  The Charger O-line is not protecting well and it is in KC.  The Chiefs have still not had a wide receiver catch a touchdown pass all year – could it be an entire 16 game season? I do believe a WR makes it happen this week and that Albert Wilson get it.  KC (metrics-wise) is the better team but how do you trust Alex-small hands-Smith?

FanDuel consideration: Albert Wilson

Vegas consideration: tease KC (+8.5)

Numbers say: KC by 1


Jets New_york_j_white_n120 @ Miami_greenmask_ntc120 Dolphins 12/28 01:00 PM CBS Clear-day 78f Clear 8m ESE

Mia -7 (42)

FanDuel consideration: Miami D

Vegas consideration: tease Miami (+1.5)

Numbers say: Miami by 6


Bears Chicago_ntc120 @ Minnesota_ntc120 Vikings 12/28 01:00 PM FOX Partly-cloudy-day 23f Partly Cloudy 2m SSE

Min -7 (44)

FanDuel consideration: Forte, Vikes D

Vegas consideration: tease the UNDER (53)

Numbers say: MIN by 3.5


Bills Buffalo_red_ntc120 @ New_england_6n_120 Patriots 12/28 01:00 PM CBS Cloudy 47f Overcast 13m WSW

NE -5.5 (44)

FanDuel consideration: Brady, Gronk

Vegas consideration: Patriots and the Over

Numbers say:  NE by 3


Eagles Philadelphia_6n_120 @ New_york_g_6n__120 Giants 12/28 01:00 PM FOX Cloudy 45f Overcast 6m WSW

NYG -2.5 (53)

FanDuel consideration: OBJ, NYG D

Vegas consideration: tease Philly (+11)

Numbers say: Philly by 1.5


Saints New_orleans_6n_120 @ Tampa_bay_ntc120 Buccaneers 12/28 01:00 PM FOX Partly-cloudy-day 77f Partly Cloudy 6m SSE

NO -4 (46.5)

FanDuel consideration: Jimmy Graham, Mike Evans

Vegas consideration: tease NO (+4.5)

Numbers say: NO by 3.5


Cowboys Dallas_6n120 @ Redskins Redskins 12/28 01:00 PM FOX Rain 48f Drizzle 2m SW

Dal -5.5 (49)

Dallas does have a slim chance to get a bye, ( Cowboys win, Seahawks lose) so you would expect the starters to play significant minutes.  However, there should be no reason to play DeMarco as you need him healthier for the playoffs and Washington does have a solid run D.

FanDuel consideration: RGIII, Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, Alfred Morris

Vegas consideration: tease WAS (+14)

Numbers say: DAL by 6


Browns Cleveland_6n_120 @ Baltimore_ntc120 Ravens 12/28 01:00 PM CBS Cloudy 47f Overcast 3m W

Bal -14 (39)

FanDuel consideration: Flacco

Vegas consideration: tease the OVER (30)

Numbers say: BAL by 3


Jaguars Jacksonville_6n_120 @ Houston_6n_120 Texans 12/28 01:00 PM CBS Rain 46f Rain 13m NNW

Hou -10.5 (40.5)

FanDuel consideration: Hou D, Arian Foster

Vegas consideration: tease HOU (-2)

Numbers say: HOU by 8


Panthers Carolina_6n_120 @ Atlanta_ntc120a Falcons 12/28 04:25 PM FOX Dome DOME 4m S

Atl -3.5 (47.5)

This game is for the division and a home playoff game.  The Panthers D has come back to life, but what if Julio Jones is healthy, do the Panthers have an answer for him?  Look for the Panthers to show up more than the Saints did last week and keep this close.

FanDuel consideration: Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, J.Stewart, G.Olsen

Vegas consideration: tease CAR (+12)

Numbers say: CAR by .5


Lions Detroit_6n_120 @ Greenbay_6n_120 Packers 12/28 04:25 PM FOX Partly-cloudy-day 25f Partly Cloudy 2m W

GB -9 (47)

Detroit has not won in GB since ’91.  The Packers at home are tough and the Lions will not have their rogue O-lineman, Raiola.  9pts seems really high against a playoff team that can score on that D, so it will come down to the Packer O v the Lion D.

FanDuel consideration: Jordy Nelson, Rodgers, G.Tate

Vegas consideration: tease DET (+17.5)

Numbers say: GB by 3


Raiders Oakland_b_wstripe_n_120 @ Denver_6n_120 Broncos 12/28 04:25 PM CBS Clear-day 31f Clear 1m NW

Den -14.5 (47.5)

Denver still needs this game for a first round bye and this type of game is a perfect example of Peyton Manning being the king of the regular season.

FanDuel consideration: Peyton, D.Thomas, E.Sanders, CJ Anderson, M.Rivera

Vegas consideration: tease DEN (-6)

Numbers say: DEN by 12.5


Cardinals Arizona_whitetail_ntc120 @ San_francisco_6n_120 49ers 12/28 04:25 PM FOX Clear-day 54f Clear 5m NNW

SF -7 (36.5)

Classic example of the public thinking the Cardinals are as bad as Seattle made them look on Monday Night and SF having nothing to play for.  Not to mention how focused can the team play, knowing that Harbaugh is gone and he has to think about going to Michigan – maybe.

FanDuel consideration: AZ D, SF D

Vegas consideration: tease AZ (+15.5) and the OVER (27.5)

Numbers say: SF by 3


Rams St._louis_ntc120 @ Seattle_6n_120a Seahawks 12/28 04:25 PM FOX Clear-day 42f Clear 1m S

Sea -13.5 (41.5)

FanDuel consideration: Lynch

Vegas consideration: tease STL (+22) and the OVER (32.5)

Numbers say: SEA by 2.5


Bengals Cinncinnati_6n_120 @ Pittsburg_ntc120 Steelers 12/28 08:30 PM CBS Nrain 37f Light Rain 4m N

Pit -3.5 (48)

FanDuel consideration: BigBen, L.Bell, A.Brown, J.Hill, AJ Green

Vegas consideration: tease CIN (+12)

Numbers say: CIN by 3