Thursday, December 14, 2023

NFL Week 15

The Bye Weeks are over!  Everyone has played 13 games, and everyone has four games left.  Here is ESPN's current top ten, after Dallas hammered the Eagles:

1.  San Francisco:  10-3
2.  Dallas:  10-3
3.  Baltimore:  10-3
4.  Philadelphia:  10-3
5.  Miami:  9-4
6.  Detroit:  9-4
7.  Kansas City:  8-5
8.  Buffalo:  7-6
9.  Cleveland:  8-5
10.  Jacksonville:  8-5

For me, the Game of the Week takes place at 3:25 P.M. Central on Sunday:  Dallas at Buffalo.  This game strikes me as huge -- two very talented teams, both of which have a history of losing big games, both playing in a really big game that will challenge them.  I think this will probably be the first time all season that I turn off the Red Zone to devote myself to a single game on Sunday afternoon.

The Sunday Night game is also big:  Baltimore at Jacksonville.  The Jaguars are fighting for their lives after two painful losses, but they are at home.  Can the up-and-down Ravens put them away?

Here are the latest Super Bowl odds:

San Francisco:  +260
Baltimore:  +600
Kansas City:  +650
Philadelphia:  +750
Miami:  +800
Dallas:  +850


  1. With 17 minutes left in the second half, Indiana leads Kansas 42-36 at Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Indiana. Bill Self is starting to see why Coach Cal ended this series. Ken Pom has KU winning this game 77-71, so we'll see if the Jayhawks can pull it out.

  2. UConn went to Seattle last night and crushed Gonzaga 76-63. In my opinion, the Huskies are the best team in the country by a fair amount. They lost at Kansas on a Phog Allen Special, but that's like our 2012 team losing at IU.

  3. CBS has an old school college basketball triple header today:

    11:30 AM Central: Indiana v. (2) Kansas
    2:00 PM Central: Ohio St. v. U.C.L.A. (in Atlanta)
    4:30 PM Central: (9) N. Carolina v. (14) Kentucky (in Atlanta)

  4. K-Pom has UNC beating the Cats 85-83.

  5. Indiana 56 - 50 Kansas (10 minutes left)

  6. Indiana 58 - 55 Kansas (8:39 left). Hoosiers call time. I complain a lot about how the officials help KU -- and I think the officials generally do help KU -- but the Jayhawks are really great in the last 10 minutes of any game. Kentucky will almost always lose unless it's ahead with 10 minutes to go. In fact, Kentucky often loses even when it's ahead with 4 minutes to go. But KU will just murder you down the stretch. They did it to Kentucky on a neutral floor, they did it to UConn in Phog Allen Fieldhouse, and now they're coming for the Hoosiers on the road.

  7. Indiana 59 - 58 Kansas (7:10 left). The Jayhawks are really bringing the defense now. It feels like IU won't get any more two-point baskets.

  8. By the way, UK and UNC will be playing with the Wilson EVO NXT ball, which is the same ball they use for the NCAA Tournament. Last year, in two NCAA games with that ball, the Cats went 9-36 from 3-point range, for a shooting percentage of 25 percent. Obviously, if they shoot that poorly from 3-point range today, they will lose. I have no idea why the Cats wouldn't just use the same ball that will be used in the NCAA Tournament all the time, but I'm sure there's some type of reason for it.

  9. Indiana 64 - 67 Kansas (3 minutes left). Over the last seven minutes, KU has outscored IU 17-8.

  10. Sirius/XM 70's on 7 is now playing "This is It," by Kenny Loggins. For me, this will always be the song NBC used to promote the 1980 NCAA Basketball Tournament, which was one of the best ones ever played.

  11. Indiana 64 - 69 Kansas (2:26 left). This game is over. KU is really good, although I think UConn would beat then on a neutral floor.

  12. Indiana 69 - 71 Kansas (18.3 seconds left). KU going to the line. With 23 seconds left, IU had a 3-point shot to take the lead, but missed it.

  13. Heartbreak for the Hoosiers. KU misses the free throw, but the Hoosiers knock the rebound out of bounds. KU ball.

  14. KU goes back to the line with 17.9 seconds left. They make the first one. They make the second one. Start the bus.

  15. I like to divide college basketball games into four quarters. In the last quarter against Kentucky, KU outscored the Cats 24-17. In the last quarter against UConn, KU outscored the Huskies 22-18. So far in the last quarter at IU, KU has outscored the Hoosiers 23-13. That's quality basketball.

  16. Indiana 71 - 75 Kansas (Final) In the last ten minutes of the game, the Jayhawks outscored Indiana 25-15. K-Pom had the Jayhawks winning 77-71, so he looks like a genius on this one.

  17. Next up: Ohio State v. U.C.L.A. in Atlanta. K-Pom has the Buckeyes, 69 to 66.

  18. Right now, it looks like the four number one seeds will be Houston, Arizona, UConn, and Purdue. But KU has a home-and-home with Houston, and if the Jayhawks win the Big XII regular season they will probably take a Number One seed.

  19. Kansas won it all in 2022, and UConn won it all in 2023, and right now they appear to be the two strongest teams in 2024. I know Houston, Arizona, and Purdue all look good on Ken Pom, but I just can't see any of those teams going all the way.

  20. Here's UK's record in the CBS Sports Classic:

    12/20/14: Kentucky 83, U.C.L.A. 44 (Chicago)
    12/19/15: Ohio St. 74, Kentucky 67 (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
    12/17/16: Kentucky 103, N. Carolina 100 (Las Vegas, Nev.)
    12/23/17: U.C.L.A. 83, Kentucky 75 (New Orleans)
    12/22/18: Kentucky 80, N. Carolina 72 (Chicago)
    12/21/19: Ohio St. 71, Kentucky 65 (Las Vegas, Nev.)
    12/19/20: N. Carolina 75, Kentucky 63 (Cleveland)
    12/18/21: Kentucky 98, N. Carolina 69 (Las Vegas, Nev.)
    12/17/22: U.C.L.A. 63, Kentucky 53 (New York City)

    3-1 against N. Carolina
    1-2 against U.C.L.A.
    0-2 against Ohio St.

    1. UK's four losses against Ohio State and U.C.L.A. in the CBS Sports Classic have to be four of the worst games the Cats have played since Calipari became the coach. They weren't good -- or even competitive -- in any of those games.

  21. OSU and U.C.L.A. tip off before an arena in Atlanta that is almost completely empty.

  22. Same-old same-old for UK and the media. Kyle Tucker of the Athletic, who famously trashed Calipari in a long article at the beginning of the season, tweeted a few hours ago that Ugonna Onyenso wasn't traveling to Atlanta with the rest of the team. Now the UK bus has pulled up to the arena, and the Herald-leader reports that Onyenso is there with the rest of the team.

    1. Now Calipari is telling the media that Onyenso will play in this game, which would be his first appearance of the year.

  23. High drama in Cincinnati, where the Bengals (7-6) and the Vikings (7-6) are in overtime. The Vikings led 17-3 and 24-17, but Cincinnati fought back to tie the game. In OT, the Bengals went three and out. But the Bengals just stuffed Minnesota on 4th and inches at the Cincinnati 41. It was an amazing play by the Cincinnati defense. So now the Bengals take over with 6:12 left and they just need a field goal to win.

  24. Oh, my! On 3d and 9, Jake Browning -- who single-handedly knocked me out of Survivor Pool, scrambles to his left, looks like he's going out of bounds, and then uncorks a perfect pass to Tee Higgins, who carries the ball down to the Minnesota 12.

  25. And there's your ball game. Cincinnati wins in overtime for the second time in three weeks. They are now 8-6 and the age of Jake Browning continues. Minnesota falls to 7-7.

  26. Meanwhile, U.C.L.A. and Ohio State are proving that no one can shoot with this stupid basketball. Their game is 31-29 for someone with about 15 minutes left in the second half.

  27. It's U.C.L.A. They have the 31-29 lead. The Bruins and Buckeyes are so uninterested in this game that both teams are wearing their road uniforms.

  28. For the record, here's how UConn shot from 3-point range in last year's tournament:

    Round 1: 11-25 (44.0 percent)
    Round 2: 10-22 (45.5 percent)
    Sweet 16: 9-20 (45.0 percent)
    Elite 8: 11-31 (35.5 percent)
    Final 4: 9-26 (34.6 percent)
    Final: 6-17 (35.3 percent)

    For the tournament as a whole, UConn went 56-141 from 3-point range, for a percentage of 39.7 percent. Obviously the ball didn't give them too much trouble. My advice to UK would be to learn how to shoot with the NCAA's preferred ball.

  29. Michigan State, who had stumbled to a 4-5 start this season, hammers Baylor -- who had been undefeated -- 88 to 64 in Detroit. The Spartans were up 45-15 (!) at the half.

    1. On Ken Pom, Michigan St. jumps from 33 to 23. Baylor falls from 5 to 13.

  30. Oh, my. Now Sirius/XM Channel 14 is running a special channel hosted by John Mayer. They are playing The La's, "There She Goes," which I identify with the great movie "Fever Pitch" -- the British version starring Colin Firth, not the American version with Drew Barrymore. The British version of "Fever Pitch" is the best movie ever made about sports fans, and is probably also the best movie ever made about growing up in the 1970's.

  31. So far in this game, U.C.L.A is 1-6 from 3-point range, and OSU is 0-14. Obviously, if the Cats shoot like that they're going to get killed.

  32. With 7 minutes left, OSU leads 48-47.

  33. Ohio State wins 67 to 60. K-Pom had them winning 69-66, so that's another good pick for him. Meanwhile, over in the Classic Southwest Conference, Houston beat Texas A & M 70-66 to remain undefeated on the year.

  34. Kentucky's starters tonight:

    Guard: Justin Edwards, 6' 8", 203 lbs., Freshman, Philadelphia
    Guard: Antonio Reeves: 6' 6", 195 lbs., Fifth Year, Chicago
    Guard: D.J. Wagner, 6' 4", 192 lbs., Freshman, Camden, N.J.
    Forward: Aaron Bradshaw, 7' 1", 226 lbs., Freshman, Rahway, N.J.
    Forward: Tre Mitchell, 6' 9", 231 lbs., Grad Student, Pittsburgh

  35. At the half, Kentucky leads 40-38. Kyle Tucker of the Athletic, who was wrong about Onyenso, takes the opportunity to knife Calipari for the fact that UK was up 37-27 with the ball when Cal was called for a technical for being on the Court. UNC outscored UK 11-3 after the technical.

    1. And UNC ended the half on an 8-0 run.

    2. There was an obvious goaltend that should have been called on UNC with a minute left, but of course it wasn't called. But that's just normal in a Carolina game.

  36. Onyenso did play a few minutes -- he got 1 point, 1 rebound, 1 foul, and 1 block.

  37. Kentucky:
    4-14 from 3-point range (28.6 percent)
    10-27 from 2-point range (37.0 percent)
    8-10 from the line (80.0 percent)
    40 points, 24 rebounds, 9 turnovers

  38. N. Carolina:
    4-13 from 3-point range (30.8 percent)
    9-18 from 2-point range (50.0 percent)
    8-11 from the line (72.7 percent)
    38 points, 21 rebounds, 11 turnovers

  39. Both teams are being very inefficient. UK scored 0.87 points/possession in the first half; UNC scored 0.83 points/possession.

  40. On the other hand, Bradshaw, Wagner, Thiero, and Sheppard each had 7 points.

  41. Basically, UNC has struggled in the half court, but has killed UK on runouts after missed shots. UK has been slightly better in the half court, but has gotten very few transition baskets.

  42. Here's the bottom line: Kentucky has already lost to Kansas and UNC-Wilmington, and the SEC is going to be a struggle from beginning to end. If the Cats want to finish the year in the AP Top 10, and be in the conversation for a top-2 seed in the tournament, they really need to win this game.


    Kentucky 87, N. Carolina 83 (Final).

    Honestly, I haven't felt like this since COVID hit.

    1. There is no feeling in the world like winning a close game. That's why Kansas fans are always so happy.

  44. Kentucky:
    8-23 from 3-point range (34.8 percent)
    22-49 from 2-point range (44.9 percent)
    19-26 from the line (73.1 percent)
    87 points, 43 rebounds, 14 turnovers

    N. Carolina:
    8-24 from 3-point range (33.3 percent)
    19-33 from 2-point range (57.6 percent)
    21-27 from the line (77.8 percent)
    83 points, 32 rebounds, 17 turnovers

    1. So Kentucky loses to UNC-Wilmington, but beats UNC-Chapel Hill. That's life as a Kentucky fan. And besides, I'm now going to blame the Rupp Arena floor for the Wilmington loss.

    2. Wilmington (and the bad floor) are responsible for the only game all year where the Cats didn't score at least 81 points.

    3. UK finishes with 1.07 points per possession, UNC with 1.02. That's UNC's lowest points per possession of the year.

  45. Rob Dillingham led Kentucky with 17 points. D.J. Wagner had 14. Aaron Bradshaw had 12. Reed Sheppard had 11.

  46. For the first time since the 2019-20 season, UK had the better players on the floor in a close game, and it showed. Oh, Doctor!

  47. KPom had UNC winning 85-83, and UK won 87-83, so the Cats probably won't move that much in his rating. But they'll move in the AP Poll, and that's more important for seeding.

  48. More importantly, this is what fan bases live for. Any fan base needs to win these type of games every once in a while.

  49. Meanwhile, Lyon County went to the old Wayland H.S. gym and beat Floyd Central, 110 to 72. What a day for basketball.

  50. Scores from the noon Central games:

    Cleveland 7 - 7 Chicago (2d quarter)
    Green Bay 10 - 13 Tampa Bay (Half)
    Tennessee 13 - 3 Houston (Half)
    Miami 24 - 0 N.Y. Jets (2d)
    New England 10 - 14 Kansas City (Half)
    New Orleans 7 - 6 N.Y. Giants (Half)
    Carolina 3 - 7 Atlanta (Half)

  51. Cleveland 7 - 7 Chicago (3d quarter)
    Green Bay 10 - 20 Tampa Bay (3d)
    Tennessee 13 - 6 Houston (3d)
    Miami 24 - 0 N.Y. Jets (3d)
    New England 10 - 24 Kansas City (3d)
    New Orleans 14 - 6 N.Y. Giants (3d)
    Carolina 3 - 7 Atlanta (3d)

  52. Here are the other scores from Thursday and Saturday:

    Oakland 63 - 21 San Diego
    Cincinnati 27 - 24 Minnesota (OT)
    Indianapolis 30 - 13 Pittsburgh
    Detroit 42 - 17 Denver

  53. Cleveland 7 - 17 Chicago (3d)
    Green Bay 17 - 27 Tampa Bay (4th)
    Tennessee 13 - 9 Houston (4th)
    Miami 27 - 0 N.Y. Jets (3d)
    New England 10 - 27 Kansas City (3d)
    New Orleans 17 - 6 N.Y. Giants (3d)
    Carolina 3 - 7 Atlanta (4th)

  54. Cleveland 7 - 17 Chicago (3d)
    Green Bay 20 - 27 Tampa Bay (4th)
    Tennessee 16 - 9 Houston (4th)
    Miami 30 - 0 N.Y. Jets (4th)
    New England 10 - 27 Kansas City (4th)
    New Orleans 24 - 6 N.Y. Giants (4th)
    Carolina 6 - 7 Atlanta (4th)

  55. All the noon games are now in the 4th Quarter

    Cleveland 7 - 17 Chicago (13:18 left)
    Green Bay 20 - 34 Tampa Bay (4:34)
    Tennessee 16 - 16 Houston (3:03)
    Miami 30 - 0 N.Y. Jets (8:32)
    New England 17 - 27 Kansas City (8:24)
    New Orleans 24 - 6 N.Y. Giants (5:12)
    Carolina 6 - 7 Atlanta (2:00)

  56. I just want to point out that the Titans are wearing the Oilers' uniforms for their game with Houston today. And the Titans have even painted the word "OILERS" in their end zones.

    1. They've even painted the Oil Derrick at the 50 yard line.

  57. The Panthers kick a last second field goal to beat Atlanta 9-7. The Panthers move to 2-12; the Falcons fall to 6-8.

  58. Cleveland 10 - 17 Chicago (8:39 left)
    Green Bay 20 - 34 Tampa Bay (Final)
    Tennessee 16 - 16 Houston (1:06)
    Miami 30 - 0 N.Y. Jets (3 minutes)
    New England 17 - 27 Kansas City (2:35)
    New Orleans 24 - 6 N.Y. Giants (1:56)
    Carolina 9 - 7 Atlanta (Final)

  59. Tampa Bay beats the Packers. The Bucs are now 7-7; the Packers fall to 6-8.

  60. The Chiefs beat New England 27-17. The Chiefs are 9-5; the Pats are 3-11.

  61. The Saints beat the Giants 24-6. The Saints are 7-7; the Giants are 5-9.

  62. Miami beats the Jets 30-0. The Dolphins are 10-4; the Jets are 5-9.

  63. Tennessee and Houston are still tied at 16, and are now headed for overtime. Cleveland and Chicago are tied at 17 with 3 minutes left.

  64. The AFC West is finished for the week:

    Kansas City: 9-5
    Denver: 7-7
    Oakland: 6-8
    San Diego: 5-9

  65. The NFC South is also finished:

    Tampa Bay: 7-7
    New Orleans: 7-7
    Atlanta: 6-8
    Carolina: 2-12

  66. With 36 seconds left, Cleveland kicks a field goal to go up 20 to 17.

  67. Cleveland beats Chicago 20 to 17. The Browns are 9-5; the Bears are 5-9

  68. The NFC North is finished for the week:

    Detroit: 10-4
    Minnesota: 7-7
    Green Bay: 6-8
    Chicago: 5-9

  69. With two seconds left in OT, the Texans kick a 54-yard field goal to beat the Titans 19 to 16 in Nashville. I have no idea why Tennessee thought it would bring them good luck to wear the Oilers' uniforms against the Texans, but obviously they were wrong. The Texans move to 8-6; the Titans fall to 5-9.

  70. That completes the noon games. Now I'm going to watch the Cowboys and the Bills.

  71. At the half, Buffalo leads Dallas 21 to 3. This game has brought out the best in the Bills, and Dallas is simply not keeping pace. When the Chiefs and Bengals face Buffalo, they know that they're in for a war -- and they sometimes lose anyway. If you don't know what you're in for -- and you don't match their intensity -- you will have a very long day.

  72. With 12 1/2 minutes left, Buffalo leads Dallas 31-3. Here are Buffalo's last four games:

    Buffalo 32 - 6 N.Y. Jets
    Philadelphia 37 - 34 Buffalo (OT)
    Kansas City 17 - 20 Buffalo
    Buffalo 31 - 3 Dallas (4th quarter)

    How did this team lose six games? How did they lose to the Jets, the Patriots, and the Broncos? It's like the fable of the tortoise and the hare come to life.

  73. The Bills hammer the Cowboys, 31 to 10. Very disappointing from the Cowboys, who fall to 10-4. The Bills go to 8-6. The AFC East is finished for the week, and the standings look like this:

    Miami: 10-4
    Buffalo: 8-6
    N.Y. Jets: 5-9
    New England: 3-11

  74. The Niners beat Arizona 45 to 29. That's not Scorigami -- it's the third time that score has appeared in an NFL game. The Niners are now 11-3, and the Cardinals are now 3-11.

  75. The Rams beat Washington 28-20. The Rams are now 7-7, while Washington is now 4-10 after winning their first two games of the year.

  76. Baltimore thumps the Jags, 23 to 7. So the AFC North now looks like this:

    Baltimore: 11-3
    Cleveland: 9-5
    Cincinnati: 8-6
    Pittsburgh: 7-7

  77. Meanwhile, the AFC South looks like this:

    Jacksonville: 8-6
    Indianapolis: 8-6
    Houston: 8-6
    Tennessee: 5-9