Ness Notes: Tuesday, Nov 24

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: Jared Goff outplayed Tom Brady last night, completing 39 of 51 passes for 376 yards with three TDs. WRs Robert Woods (12 receptions for 130 yards and one TD) and Cooper Kupp (11 receptions for 145 yards) brought their "A" games. Woods had a single-game high in 2020 for catches and Kupp matched his season-high (also had 11 catches in Week 9). Tom Brady completed 26 of 48 passes for a modest 216 yards with two TDs (both Goff and Brady had two INTs}. The two TD passes lifted Brady's career count to 566, allowing him to pass injured New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees (565) for the most in NFL history. The Rams have now won THREE of four and at 7-3 are tied atop the NFC West with Seattle, while the Bucs have lost TWO of three and at 7-4 not only trail the 8-2 Saints by 1 1/2-games in the NFC South but also have lost BOTH meetings with New Orleans this season.

NFL Week 11 recap and highlights: Let's start with the numbers. Home teams did well in Week 10 going 11-3 SU and 8-6 ATS (home dogs were 2-3 SU & ATS) and followed in Week 11 by going 9-5 SU and 9-5 ATS, as well (home dogs were 3-1 SU & ATS). Doing the math on the Y-T-D numbers, home teams are now 85-75-1 (.531) but they remain under .500 ATS at  77-82-2 ATS (48.4%). Home dogs are well below .500 at 17-37 (.315) SU but are a small money-maker in going 29-23-2 (55.8%) ATS. Week 10's 14 games averaged 45.7 PPG (down about 7 PPG from Week 9) and Week 11 games followed suit, averaging 45.5 PPG. A closer look reveals that SIX games averaged more than 50 PPG, while SIX others averaged under 40 PPG. THREE games totaled 60-plus points, while THREE others totaled 30 points or less. EIGHT of Week 11's 14 games stayed under the total and there have now been 81 overs, 76 unders and four pushes through 11 weeks.

Week 11 highlights: Pittsburgh moved to 10-0 with a 27-3 win at Jacksonville. Pittsburgh's D is allowing the fewest points in the league (17.4 per) and leads the league with 38 sacks and 21 takeaways. Pittsburgh has had at least ONE sack in 67 straight games, two games shy of the all-time record of 69, set by the TB Bucs from 1999 thru 2003. Pittsburgh is 10-0 for the first time in franchise history and becomes the NINTH team this century to start that hot. Of the previous eight, only one (2009 Saints) won the Super Bowl. The NY Jets are the "yin" to Pittsburgh's 'yang," as their 34-28 loss to the Chargers dropped them to 0-10 on the season. The Jets have lost 10 straight games in the same season for the first time in club history and they are two losses from matching their longest losing streak ever, a 12-game skid that bridged the 1995-96 seasons. In direct contrast to the Steelers, the Jets are now the NINTH team since 2000 to have opened 0-10 and of the previous eight, the 2008 Lions and 2017 Browns are the only ones to finish 0-16.

Russell Wilson's MVP candidacy has somewhat faded but he picked up his 93rd regular season win last Thursday, tying Peyton Manning for the most by a QB through his first nine seasons. Wilson also reached 30 TD passes for the FOURTH straight season, joining Brett Favre and Drew Brees as the ONLY QBs to do so in NHL history (not bad company). Two QBs made their NFL debuts as a starter on Sunday and BOTH won! Taysom Hill (not Winston) got the start for the Saints and completed 18 of 23 for 233 yards plus ran for 51 yards with two TDs, as New Orleans beat Atlanta 24-9. Carolina's PJ Walker started for an injured Teddy Bridgewater and completed 24 of 34 for 258 yards with one TD and one INT. However, with the Carolina defense 'throwing its first shutout' in five years, the Panthers broke a five-game losing streak in beating the Lions 20-0 (Detroit was held to just 10 FDs and 185 total yards).

Sticking with the QB theme, the Chargers' Justin Herbert entered Sunday's game with the Jets as the first QB in the Super Bowl era to lose SEVEN of eight starts despite an overall passer rating exceeding 100.0. He shredded the Jets pass D for a career-high 366 yards, while throwing three TDs. He has completed 68.0% on the season for 2,699 with 22 TDs and six INTs (QB rating of 104.7). He's now become the first rookie in league history with at least a two TD passes in SEVEN consecutive games! Two "feel good" stories from Week 11 were Alex Smith and Andy Dalton. Just FOUR days after the second anniversary of an injury that threatened his life, Smith led Washington to a 20-9 win over Cincinnati. He had thrown for 390 yards the week before but the Washington lost to Detroit. Smith threw for just 166 yards vs the Bengals but the "W" had to feel VERY good. However, there was some sad news to come out of the Cin/Was game, as Cincinnati QB Joe Burrow (the No. 1 pick of the 2020 Draft), suffered a torn ACL and MCL. Returning to the "fell good" theme, Burrow's Cincinnati predecessor, Andy Dalton, coming off a bout with COVID-19, threw three TDs passes (game-winning TD pass came with 1:37 left), as the Cowboys upset the Vikings 31-28. It was Dalton's first win as Dallas' starting QB.

A final shout to a pair of WRs. Keenan Allen of the Chargers has quietly had some career for the Chargers, garnering very little recognition. However, he set a Chargers single-game record with 16 catches against the Jets and is now one of only FIVE players with two games of at least 15 receptions. The other four are Antonio Brown, Brandon Marshall, Wes Welker and Jason Witten. Allen entered the 2020 season with 303 receptions his previous three seasons, with six TDs in each. He already has 81 catches through 10 games (on pace for 130) and six TDs. Then there is New Orleans' WR Michael Thomas. He set an NFL single-season record with 149 catches in 2019 but he's been hampered by injuries for MOST of 2020. However, he had NINE catches on Sunday and his career total now sits at 489 receptions, the MOST of any receiver in NFL history through his first five seasons! Don't look over your shoulder, Jerry Rice!

Wednesday's notes will feature the first CFP rankings of 2020 (out tonight) plus the opening of 2020-21 college hoops season. With the NFL dominating the Thanksgiving landscape, I'll preview NFL Week 12 on Thursday, with my CFB preview moving to Friday.

Good luck...Larry

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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