Ness Notes: Tuesday, Nov 17

by Larry Ness

This column will be available Monday through Friday (posted no later than 1:00 ET), EXCLUSIVELY at BigAl.com. I like to call it my daily 'random thoughts' on the sports betting world, although I'll pass along that my therapist refers to it as "thoughtful commentary."

MNF: NFL Week 10 concluded with the Vikings beating the Bears 19-13 in Chicago. Kirk Cousins threw for 292 yards and two TDs (both to Adam Thielen, who now has NINE TD receptions on the season), as the Vikings won their THIRD straight after a 1-5 start. In stark contrast, after opening 5-1, the Bears have now lost FOUR in a row. Cousins completed 25 of 36 passes and was intercepted once but is ONE happy guy, as he won for the FIRST time in 10 career starts on Monday night, snapping his record drought. Chicago QB Nick Foles had a poor game (15 of 26 for 106 yards and an interception) and was carted off the field with 37 seconds to go due to an apparent right leg injury. Was it a great performance by the Minnesota D (entered the game allowing 29.2 PPG on 417.9 YPG) or a pathetic effort by the Chicago offense?  Chicago had just 149 total yards (including 41 rushing yards on 2.4 YPC) and accounted for just 10 FDs, converting 2 of 11 on third down and 0-2 on fourth down. Week 10 recap in just a bit.

The CFB week begins with Tuesday night MACtion. The MAC completes its Tuesday and Wednesday schedule this week, as the conference will move to Saturday games on Nov 28, Dec 5 and Dec 12 to complete its regular season schedule. The conference championship game (at Ford Field in Detroit) will be played Friday, Nov 18. There were supposed to be three MAC games on Tuesday but the Mid-American Conference made an announcement Sunday afternoon that there will be no "Battle of the Bricks" this year between Ohio U and the Miami-Ohio. The statement read; “The Ohio University at Miami University football game has been canceled due to roster issues with the Ohio football team related to positive covid-19 tests and subsequent contact tracing. The game has been declared a no contest.” After 15 games were postponed or canceled last week in CFB, as of Tuesday morning, the Ohio/Mia-O contest is just one of SEVEN games to already suffer a similar fate. The list includes No. 5 Texas A&M, No. 12 Miami-Fl and No. 15 Marshall. And so it goes...

Returning to teams actually playing, tonight's MACtion features a pair of games featuring 2-0 schools playing 0-2 ones. 2-0 Buffalo (2-0 ATS) is at 0-2 Bowling Green (0-2 ATS) at 7:00 ET, while 0-2 Akron is at 2-0 Kent St (both schools are 1-1 ATS) at 8:00 ET. Buffalo is averaging 45.5 PPG and BG is allowing 50.0 PPG, so it's no surprise that the visiting Bulls are a 31-point road favorite. The Zips are averaging 11.5 PPG and allowing 41.0 PPG in their 0-2 start (more in just a second), while Kent is averaging 44.5 PPG in its 2-0 start. Once again, there is no surprise in the pointspread, which has the Golden Flashes favored by 26 points. I'll close with the continuing woes of the Akron Zips (bring back Gerry Faust!). Akron went winless in 2019 at 0-12 and also matched that by going 1-11 ATS. In fact, Akron's last win came back on 10/27/18, when the Zips won 17-10 at home over Central Michigan. Doing the math, Akron takes a 19-game losing streak (nation's longest active) into tonight's game, having gone almost as bad ATS, covering just FOUR of its 19 losses (21.1%). Wednesday's Notes will feature more MACtion plus take a look at CFB's 'lovable losers' in 2020.

NFL Week 10 recap and highlights: Let's start with the numbers. Home teams did well, going 11-3 SU and 8-6 ATS (home dogs were 2-3 SU & ATS). Doing the match on the Y-T-D numbers, home teams entered the week below .500 at 65-67-1 (.492) on the season but are now 76-70-1 (.520), although they remain under .500 ATS at  68-77-2 ATS (46.9%). Home dogs are well below .500 at 14-36 (.280) SU but are a small money-maker in going 26-22-2 (54.2%) ATS. Scoring was robust in Week 9, as games averaged 52.9 PPG, resulting in nine overs, four unders and one push. However, Week 10's 14 games averaged just 45.7 PPG (just over a TD less per game!), as EIGHT of 14 games stayed under the total. There have now been 75 overs, 68 unders and four pushes through 10 weeks.

I already credited Kirk Cousins for winning a MNF game in his 10th try but also noteworthy in last night's game was Bears kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson opening the second half by returning the kick-off 104-yards for a score. He is now tied for first-place in NFL history with his eighth career kickoff return for a TD. he's pulled even with Josh Cribbs (2005-14) and Leon Washington (2006-14). It also was the longest kickoff return in Bears history, eclipsing a 103-yard TD by Gale Sayers against Pittsburgh on Sep 17, 1967. We lost Gayle ("The Kansas Comet") on Sep 23rd at 77-years-old and if you haven't watched Brian's Song, shame on you! I saw it the first time as a freshman at Ohio U in a crowded dorm lobby, with each one of us trying to hide the tears in our eyes from one another. 

Steelers fans will surely remember the chant, "Pittsburgh Goin' to the Super Bowl, We've got a Feeling," back in the 1974 season. As the 2020 moves to Week 11, Pittsburgh remains the NFL's lone unbeaten, after taking care of the Bengals 36-10 on Sunday. "Big Ben' couldn't practice all week because of COVID protocols, but passed for a season-high 333 yards with four TD passes. The Steelers are now 9-0 and with Baltimore falling to 6-3 with a 23-17 loss in New England, Pittsburgh has a commanding three-game lead in the AFC North. Up next, is securing home field advantage in the AFC. However, the defending champion 8-1 Chiefs, just may have other ideas. Buffalo still leads the AFC East at 7-3 (more on their game in a bit) but Tua moved to 3-0 as an NFL starter in Miami's 29-21 win over the Chargers, as the Dolphins have now won FIVE in a row and sit 6-3. In the AFC South, the Texans (winners of the division in four of the last five seasons) are 'dead' at 2-7 and it will be a 'fight to the finish' between the 6-3 Colts and Titans. The Colts beat the Titans 34-17 in Week 10 (Thursday night) and the teams will have a rematch at Indy in Week 12.

Over in the NFC, the Giants beat the Eagles 27-17, as QB Daniel Jones has now gone without a TO in back-to-back games for the first time in his career. The 3-5-1 Eagles lead the NFC 'Least' but are the 3-7 Giants charging? Washington lost 30-27 at Detroit but is there a better 'feel good' story in NFL 2020 than the journey of Alex Smith? It's taken nearly two years for him to return to the starting lineup. It took him only two games to inject himself into the conversation over whether he can be Washington's future quarterback. He's thrown for a combined 715 yards in Washington's last two losses, nearly leading comebacks from large deficits each time. Smith has returned to a place few thought he would reach again. In Sunday's 30-27 loss to the Detroit Lions, Smith's first start since breaking the fibula and tibia in his right leg on Nov 18, 2018, he completed a career-high 38 passes for 390 yards. Washington tied the game after trailing by 21 points in the second half only to lose on a last-second field goal.

Chicago's MNF loss to the Vikings leaves the Packers 'smiling' atop the NFC North. Green Bay had a sluggish 24-20 win over Jacksonville on Sunday but is now 7-2 and no other team in the division has a better record than Chicago's 5-5 mark. Should the Pack really be worried about the 4-5 Vikings and their current three-game winning streak? The Saints won their SIXTH straight game (27-13 over the 49ers) and are now 7-2. However, Drew Brees has multiple rib fractures on both sides of his chest and a collapsed lung on the right side, injuries suffered over two weeks. It is uncertain how much time he might miss. Jameis Winston to the rescue? Oh my! The Tampa Bay 'Bradys' moved to 7-3 with a 46-23 rout of Carolina (TB rolled up 554 yards), as TB-12 threw three TD passes and added a TD run, bouncing back from his embarrassing three-INT game in Week 9, 38-3 at home to the Saints.

New Orleans' win over San Francisco leaves the defending NFC champions at 4-6 in the NFC West, a division which features Arizona, the LA Rams and Seattle all tied at 6-3. No postseason in 2020 for the 49ers! Arizona beat the Bills on a 'miracle' Hail Mary 43-yard TD pass with two seconds remaining in the game. Up by two points and NOT wanting to risk the extra-point attempt being blocked and returned for two points, the Cards 'passed.' Arizona was favored by anywhere from one to three points in the game. Oh, the ATS carnage! Meanwhile, the Rams beat the Seahawks 23-16, leaving the Cards, Rams and Seahawks all tied (see above). That sets up Week 11's Thursday night game, as the Cards travel to Seattle for a rematch with the Seahawks. Arizona won 37-34 in OT at home over Seattle back in Week 7. Pretty good way to kick off 'lucky' Week 11. 

Good luck...Larry

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