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.

Pay DiRT

Ravens Baltimore_ntc120 @ New_england_6n_120 Patriots 01/10 04:35 PM NBC Clear-night 16f Clear 8m WSW

NE -7 (47.5)

The Patriots are not the dynasty you remember, or hate, but they may be the best team in the AFC.  In their last 9 playoff games since 2008 they are a Peyton-esque 4-5.  Tom Brady has .444 winning percentage since 2008.  In the last three times they have met – Tom is 1-2 against the Ravens – could be 0-3 if someone could catch.  They have had O-line issues all year and now the Ravens come into town with the league’s best sack%, of 9.4.  Joe Flacco, in his last 4 playoff games has thrown 13 TD to 0 INT’s.  Flacco has 7 post season road wins, most all time, and the 6th highest winning % (.714) in the playoffs with a minimum of 10 starts.  So it says.  Expect a good, tough game.  Expect some points to be scored, because Baltimore may have the league’s best sack%, but their secondary is terrible.  More than 40% of the time New England lines up with 2 TE’s, so who is going to cover Tim Wright AND Gronk for the Ravens?  The key to both will be who runs the ball better and which D covers the TE’s best – either way it sets up for a Manning v Brady AFC title game XXV.  Plus, let’s look at the actual wins the Ravens have against: the entire NFC South, Cleveland, Jacksonville, Tennessee – it says to me, Paper-Tiger.  The A.I. says the Patriots win but do not cover and believes the OVER is the right side.  If you want to play straight up, I lean towards the Ravens…if you want to get crazy, I would tease the Ravens and tease the OVER.

FanDuel consideration: Joe Flacco, Justin Forsett, Tim Wright, K.Aiken, J.Edelman

Vegas consideration: tease Ravens and the OVER

DiRT Canon A.I. says: Patriots by 2.6 and the OVER


Panthers Carolina_6n_120 @ Seattle_6n_120a Seahawks 01/10 08:15 PM FOX Ncloudy 44f Overcast 1m S

SEA -10.5 (40)

Beware the Panthers D they say!  That is what we have seen the last 5 weeks and if (s)Cam Newton is anything like his rookie season this could get ugly for Seattle and their hope for a repeat.  In 5 of the last 7 games Seattle has failed to score 20 points.  Who does Russell Wilson throw to against that D, and besides Marshawn Lynch what kind of offense can we expect.  If you have been reading this site for awhile you would have witnessed that we projected a Panther victory previous to this matchup, and you’re getting 10.5pts on top of it- that’s a sweet cherry.

NOT SO FAST MY FRIEND!

The last two times these two have played they have been close but, the Kitties have 1 TD in the redzone in their last 6 attempts.  Plus, this will be the FIRST time that Carolina has played IN Seattle.  (s)Cam Newton is a bust that continues to devolve and without Defensive Tackle Lotulelei for Carolina, expect Marshawn to do what he do in the Great Northwest – skittle-chasin-beast-mode!  Seattle also gets back 2-time all-pro C Max Unger.  Factor in the East-coast -to the- West-coast trend, add to it, a night game IN Seattle and more importantly this:  since 2000, non-home underdogs of 10+pts or more, are 4-7 ATS (1-7 if you remove the 2007 Patriots) and since 2007, the Seahawks are 31-12 ATS at home.  The A.I. says the Seahawks win but do not cover; however, I’ll take Seattle straight up.  I believe this will not be close and the right play is all on Seattle – as I trust Russell, Skittles and big game Pete, more than anything the Kitties have – Kuechly is a man, but will not be enough.

FanDuel consideration: Marshawn Lynch, Doug Baldwin

Vegas consideration: Seattle +10.5, tease the UNDER

DiRT Canon A.I. says: Seattle by 5 and the OVER


Cowboys Dallas_6n120 @ Greenbay_6n_120 Packers 01/11 01:05 PM FOX Cloudy 17f Overcast 7m W

GB -5.5 (52)

Both the UNDER and the LINE have dropped since opening at 53 and GB -6.  It’s a battle of unbeaten streaks: GB is 8-0 at home and Dallas is 8-0 on the road – something’s gotta give.  This is also the first time Dallas has met Green Bay, in Lambeau, in the playoffs, since 1967’s Ice Bowl where the Packers defeated the Cowboys 21-17.  The weather does not expect to be the same but the score could be.  Aaron Rodgers is a remarkable 36 TD to 0 INT’s at home and their Defense since wk9, has only allowed 2 RB’s to gain more than 60yds, (LeSean McCoy and Fred Jackson).  However, DeMarco and the Cowboy O-line are more than willing to challenge that #6-ranked Packer D.  If the Packers do shutdown or limit DeMarco, Dallas is more than capable to throw it with Romo, Dez, and Witten.  In comparison to when Dallas throws the ball, consider this:  the Packers D allows an average of 22 completions at home. 1.9 TD’s thrown, but averages 1.8 takeaways a game, at home.  Rodgers has a slight-tear in his calf and that’s gonna limit him scrambling, but it does not limit his lethality within the pocket.  The Cowboys have the #22-ranked D and the difference from last years D to this years D is the success of the offense controlling the clock and giving those guys rest.  The Cowboys still give up first-downs at a rate of 43%.  Both teams’ last game was against Detroit, so…Dallas escaped scoring 24pts,  Green Bay ran up 30pts at home while also holding Detroit to 20pts.  So where do we go? Do we trust Roddgers with a bad wheel over Romo? Is Jordy and Cobb more dangerous than Dez and Witten?  who has a better day running the ball, Lacy or Murray?  The A.I. says this game is really close and that there is greater value in Dallas than with Green Bay.  There is something about Dallas this year that has me taking the Cowboys against Aaron Rodgers – or maybe its the good luck of C.Christie’s awful-orange sweater.

FanDuel consideration: Tony Romo, Eddie Lacy, Dez, Witten, Cobb, R.Rodgers

Vegas consideration: Cowboys +5.5, tease the OVER

DiRT Canon A.I. says: Green Bay by .23, and the OVER


Colts Indianapolis_6n_120 @ Denver_6n_120 Broncos 01/11 04:40 PM CBS Cloudy 40f Overcast 2m E

DEN -7 (53.5)

This should be named the Legacy-Bowl because both QB’s have so much riding on this game.  If Luck loses, you’ll here how much talent he has but struggles against good teams and winning on the road, (14-12).  With a loss, it will not matter, to many, that Andrew Luck has a terrible offensive line and the Colts have not had ANY RB rush for 100yds, in ANY game since 2012 – that’s KC WR bad.  Now imagine the fallout, if the greatest-regular-season-QB-of-all-time choked away another 1st-round-bye-home-playoff-loss.  The pressure has to be immense each week for Peyton, until he WINS another title.  The positive is, aside from Peyton’s recent wet-noodle-ness throwing the ball, the pressure is dispersed amongst the newly found ground game and #2 D.  CJ Anderson has 8 TD’s in his last 6 games and it reminds me of the last years of John Elway finally giving the keys to Terrell Davis – not saying it IS the same thing – just saying maybe Peyton has finally loosened his control and allowed other guys to help him win.  You read/here, that Peyton’s teammates want the pressure dispersed and want to win FOR him, much like they did for Elway.  Denver’s D has only allowed a league best 25.76 yds per drive, so with no-one to run the ball for the Colts, Luck is gonna have to chuck it.  I see this as a repeat of week 1 with a likely back-door cover by the Colts.  I do not like this game very much because the line is a bit high with all the what-ifs, but I would lean on teasing Denver and teasing the over.  The A.I. says Denver wins the game, but close.

FanDuel consideration: Luck, CJ Anderson, Julius Thomas!, D.Moncrief

Vegas consideration: tease Denver and tease the OVER

DiRT Canon A.I. says: Denver by 1.38 and the OVER

So here is your 8-team TEASER bet +8.5 ties win: Denver(+1.5) and the OVER(45), Dallas(+14) and the OVER(43.5), Seattle(-2) and the UNDER(48.5), Baltimore(+15.5) and the OVER(39).


Here is last week’s perfect lineup for FanDuel:

wcweekend-perfect-lineup


For multiple lineup combinations in FanDuel consider using these low-cost guys: Julius Thomas is only $5,500 

Legarette Blount

Donte Moncrief

Doug Baldwin

Kamar Aiken

Dan Herron

Tim Wright

Baltimore D

Green Bay D

Justin Tucker


Quick and DiRTy

Just like starting oo-ver…

In what is typically called Black Monday in the NFL we have already seen several dismissals.  how many more could there be before the day/week is done?

Bears – fire Marc Trestman and the GM Phil Emery.  Trestman, the media proclaimed QB guru, was 8-8 and 5-11 as a coach and saw Jay Cutler get worse.  Phil Emery is the guy who decided to pay Jay Cutler all that scratch.  Trestman in his grand delusion, thought he was still going to retain his job – this after losing to the vikings and no touchdowns were scored.  It would be hard to see Trestman get another Head Coaching job in the NFL, and I am not sure he could get a QB coach or O-Coordinator job either, considering that dwarf-star-implosion we witnessed this year.  A good coach would have to take a desperate-housewives-type-chance on Trestman, along with that team’s offense needing to be DYNAMIC, to repair his self-inflicted-damage.  Otherwise it is back to the CFL for Marc.

Jets – fire Rex Ryan and GM John Idzik.  This was clear as day, and Rex had his last hurrah for the Jets and Idzik had to go with him.  Does it seem more like a PARDON from the Governor then an actual firing?  The owner of the Jets had some nice things to say and stayed classy, but is now conducting a search for replacements with the help of Charlie Casserly and Ron Wolfe.  This seems more like a restoration project than a rebuild or quick-flip.  The Jets have a solid D-Line and Geno has played well, (who saw that against Miami?) since taking over for Vick, but does he work harder at getting better and how much does the new GM and Head Coach have to say about Geno – it’s not like he’s RGIII.

Falcons – fire Mike Smith.  GM Dimitroff may not be far behind, so this decision clearly came from the Home Depot.  The Falcons best coach in their 49 seasons of playing da-foos-ball continued to degrade in his management of a team that has contention-type Offensive talent.  The D was terrible but played good in stretches and the O-Line had to contend with a ton of injuries.  It won’t take long for the next guy to be looked at like a savior because this team is not as bad as their record.  Next year, whomever is the coach, will be Fool’s Gold; but none of it will matter if they look like the 2012 team.

49ers – Harbaugh is gone and it was reported yesterday – by several sources like this one csnbayarea.com – that he had already accepted the Michigan job.  The last time the 49ers had this kind of stretch was ’95-’98, so be careful what you wish for.  With the potential rumored replacements, it might be even longer for this Bay-area team to be relevant.  For Harbaugh, he goes back to his Alma-mater and resurrect a dying program.  However, you wouldn’t know it by the Detroit-Free Press’ headline.  Maybe the Michigan job is gonna be a lot more difficult than we thought?

That’s brother John, Head Coach of the Ravens – not Jim – Cripes!

Giants – retain Tom Coughlin after going 6-10.  You would have to believe the spark generated by OBJ is what helped Tom keep his job.  All OBJ did was become the R.O.Y. – (if not, then what a joke) – tie Michael Irvin’s record of 9 games with 90+ yards receiving, (a NFL record that took Irvin until his 8th season to get, OBJ his first) – score 12 touchdowns in 12 games.  The Giants got too 6 wins by running off two 3-game win streaks, one of them being in the last 4 games of the season.  So now what for the Giants?  Victor Cruz will come back and the the D will have to find a way to limit the big-plays that killed them all year – but think of the potential of that offense or could it be a puzzle with to many mouths to feed?  The what-if game is tricky because, what-if Jarvis Landry, Jeremy Hill and OBJ had stayed at LSU?

The Best in Team (their)History?

The Cowboys throttled the Fightin’ Americans in what could only be an attempt to gain precious mo’ and swagger heading into the playoffs.  Remember in 2007 when the ‘boys were 11-1 and coasted the rest of the season to then get bounced by the Giants?  Need proof of how serious the Cowboys were in trying to exorcise demons and announce their presence with authority – how about an onside kick with 11:30 left in the second quarter after being up 20-7.  Jason Garrett, playing his starters was a statement to the team that players play and the importance of maintaining a winning attitude.  It could also have been a statement on the new triplets, sans rings, but team records.  DeMarco Murray eclipsed Emmitt in Yards, #of 100yd games and total yards from scrimmage in a season.  Dez Bryant surpassed Terrell Owens for most receiving touchdowns in a season.  Tony Romo passed Troy Aikman last week and moved up further on the all-time passing yards list and threw his first interception of December this year.  The NFL’s second season tournament will determine the faith needed for what this team might accomplish, if this 3 is ever to contend with their past.

Uncle Rico Retires

Kyle Orton, at 32, has decided to be a Dad and stay home with his family, and just like John Elway, he went out with a W.  Let us pause and reflect on all those special-moments we shared, watching uncle Rico…like that one play he made when he…or that throw to that guy when…that game in the playoffs when…Kyle Orton was a decent QB out of Purdue and was always the guy in the last-man-on-earth scenario; like the NFL version of FKM (got benched for Tebow).  For now, the future is all on the Bills ownership and what do they do with EJ Manuel; or who else is gonna play the role of Uncle Rico, (only one other QB on the roster, Jeff Tuel)?  You’d have to wonder the direction of this franchise considering they do not have a first round pick in 2015.  However, just like Michael Corleone in Godfather III, I’m sure someone is gonna pull him back in.  Until then, all we’ll have is that highlight reel and those Wonder Years to get us through.

The Playoffs…non-Playoff team Draft order

Game Date Kickoff (ET) TV
Wild Card playoffs
Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers January 3, 2015 4:35 pm ESPN
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers January 3, 2015 8:15 pm NBC
Cincinnati Bengals at Indianapolis Colts January 4, 2015 1:05 pm CBS
Detroit Lions at Dallas Cowboys January 4, 2015 4:40 pm Fox
Divisional playoffs
TBA at New England Patriots January 10, 2015 4:35 pm NBC
TBA at Seattle Seahawks January 10, 2015 8:15 pm Fox
TBA at Green Bay Packers January 11, 2015 1:05 pm Fox
TBA at Denver Broncos January 11, 2015 4:40 pm CBS
Conference Championships
NFC Championship Game January 18, 2015 3:05 pm Fox
AFC Championship Game January 18, 2015 6:40 pm CBS
Super Bowl XLIX
University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona
AFC Champion vs. NFC Champion February 1, 2015 6:30 pm NBC

Seeding is now official.  The Seahawks and the Packers both have a bye, with Seattle taking the #1 seed with the best 12-4 record of all other 12-4 records – there can only be one.  Dallas and Carolina both host a playoff game with Dallas hosting Detroit and Carolina hosting the Cardinals.  It’s probable that Carolina goes to Seattle and then plays in Jerry-World for the NFC championship, after Dallas beats Green Bay.  In the AFC, New England and Denver both get a bye, with New England keeping their #1 seed with a loss against Buffalo and having a better 12-4 record than Denver – there can only be one.  Pittsburgh and Indy both host a playoff game with Pittsburgh hosting division rival Baltimore and Indy hosting AFC North alternate Cincy.  No matter what happens either Indy or Pittsburgh will travel to Denver and from there it is safe to say that we could get another Peyton v. Tom for the AFC crown.

The non-playoff team draft order is set for the first 20 picks of the first round of the 2015 NFL draft, and Tampa, you are now on the clock.  Consider (in)Famous Jameis Winston to be the 1st pick and the only QB in the top 10.

1. Tampa Bay (2-14)

2. Tennessee (2-14)

3. Jacksonville (3-13)

4. Oakland (3-13)

5. Washington (4-12)

6. N.Y. Jets (4-12)

7. Chicago (5-11)

8. Atlanta (6-10)

9. N.Y. Giants (6-10)

10. St. Louis (6-10)

11. Minnesota (7-9)

12.Cleveland (7-9)

13. New Orleans (7-9)

14. Miami (8-8)

15. San Francisco (8-8)

16. Houston (9-7)

17. Kansas City (9-7)

18. San Diego (9-7)

19. Cleveland (from Buffalo 9-7)

20. Philadelphia (10-6)

Today’s Bowl games on ESPN, all times Eastern

Dec. 29 Texas Houston, Texas 9 p.m. Texas Longhorns(6-6) vs. Arkansas Razorbacks(6-6)
Dec. 29 Russell Athletic Bowl Orlando, Fla. 5:30 p.m. Clemson Tigers(9-3) vs. Oklahoma Sooners(8-4)
Dec. 29 Liberty Memphis, Tenn. 2 p.m. West Virginia Mountaineers(7-5) vs. Texas A&M Aggies(7-5)