First and 10 (Thoughts)
1. Seahawks beat the Vikings 37-30 on Monday Night Football, to improve to 10-2. The loss drops Vikings QB Kirk Cousins to 0-8 all-time on Monday night football. Vikes have one more Monday nighter, against the Packers in week 16, a game that may have significant playoff implications. Minnesota (8-4) trails the Packers by one game in the NFC North race and leads the Rams by one game in the wild card race.
2. The fact that the 49ers or Seahawks will win 12, maybe 13 games, and play their first playoff game on the road in Dallas or Philadelphia is an absolute joke. The NFL needs to eliminate that rule asap. The division winners should remain the top 4 seeds, that makes sense. But they shouldn’t be hosting playoff games, if the wild card team has a better record.
3. The Knicks suck. They have the worst record in the NBA. How is it possible, that this team, which signed 7 veteran players and has multiple lottery picks, can actually be worse than last year’s team, which was the worst team in franchise history?
4. Illinois won more games against top 25 teams in 2019 than Alabama. Alabama finished 10-2 and went 0-2 against ranked teams. They don’t deserve to play in a New Year’s Six bowl game and whatever bowl they play in, they likely will have a dozen or so players sit out to prepare for the NFL, something they’ve never experienced due to always playing in a playoff game.
5. Coaching college football is hard. Washington Huskies head coach Chris Peterson announced on Monday that he was stepping away from coaching. Following three straight years of New Year’s Six bowl games, the Huskies dropped to 7-5 this year. The grind and stress of college football became too much for Peterson. Good for him, knowing when to step away for his own health and his family.
6. Which New York football coach is worse – Adam Gase or Pat Shurmur? It really is a fascinating debate and there’s honestly no wrong answer. Both should be fired. It’s likely Shurmur will be but Gase won’t be. But both hires have been an absolute disaster.
7. Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony was named NBA’s Western Conference Player of the Week, after averaging 22/8/3 in 3 games (Blazers went 3-0). YAY MELO! Good for him! Remember when literally no one wanted to sign the guy? But on a serious note, James Harden averaged 47 ppg last week, Luka Doncic averaged 30 ppg, 9 rpg, 9 apg and helped the Mavs beat the Lakers and Anthony Davis scored 28 ppg and 11 rpg, including 41 against his old Pelicans team. Were those guys ineligible for the award?
8. CFP poll will be released on Tuesday and I am fascinated to see who is higher between Oklahoma and Utah. Oklahoma is probably the more deserving team, based on resume but Utah has been more consistent and more impressive all year. A Georgia win on Saturday over LSU renders this debate meaningless, but it’s until than, it remains a compelling argument.
9. My biggest pet peeve with these rankings is the idea of “ranked wins”. Texas, for example, is not a ranked win for anyone. Too many people refer to them as a top 10 win for LSU. Sure, they were top 10 when they played, but they were only top 10 because the media put them there, not because they earned it. They proved to be a bad team. You don’t get extra credit for beating a bad team. You know who else was ranked in the pre-season? Washington (7-5), Nebraska (5-7), Stanford (4-8). Do teams get credit for “ranked wins” against them? No. They don’t. Nor should they.
10. Bad week for front runners. In the last 7 days, Duke basketball, Alabama football, Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots, and Los Angeles Lakers have all suffered a loss. Just a really bad week for those that grew up rooting for the top teams.
Why Hiring Greg Schiano is a grand slam move for Rutgers
When you hire a guy who previously worked for you and compiled a mediocre record of 68-67, it’s hard to view it as a homerun hire. But Greg Schiano to Rutgers is a grand slam.
Since joining the Big Ten, Rutgers has win totals of – 8, 4, 2, 4, 1. Not great. And over the past couple of seasons they have been largely noncompetitive in most of their games, getting blown out from the start.
The biggest win in hiring Schiano is his familiarity and relationships around New Jersey. Multiple reports have come out over the years that recent coaches like Kyle Flood and Chris Ash did not have strong connections with NJ high school coaches, while those same coaches claim they will gladly send their kids to Rutgers now to play for Schiano. Recruiting is about more than just convincing players and their families. Many players rely on coaches for these decisions, which makes the coach/coach relationship almost as important as the coach/family relationship. In this case, those relationships are established.
With Schiano at the helm, Rutgers is unlikely to ever beat Ohio State, Michigan, or Penn State. But Michigan State in vulnerable. They could improve enough to beat teams like Maryland, Illinois, Purdue, Indiana, Northwestern, Nebraska (LOL at the thought of lumping the Huskers in with this group, but here we are in 2019…).
Mike Tomlin is one of the top 5 head coaches in the NFL
After the 2018 season, the Steelers lost Leveon Bell (who sat out all year) and Antonio Brown. Their replacements – James Connor and Juju Smith Schuster, have both missed time and played through various injuries in 2019, which has significantly limited their impacted.
Future Hall of Fame quarterback Ben Roethlisberger suffered an injury week 2 and the Steelers have been using Mason Rudolph and Delvin Hodges at QB ever since.
And they find themselves 7-5 and in the thick of the wild card playoff race. How? Mike Tomlin, clearly.
There was discussion over whether Tomlin lost the locker room at the end of last year with the whole AB fiasco. Obviously, it’s been revealed who the real source of those troubles is. With a healthier locker room, Tomlin has been able to reinforce his culture and Pittsburgh has been a solid team week-to-week.
The biggest argument for what makes Tomlin such a good coach is the Cowboys. Look at that team on paper. You could easily claim that they have a top 5 roster in the NFL. It would be hard to argue that the Cowboys have more talent on their team than the Steelers. Yet Dallas is 6-6, while the Steelers are 7-5. The difference in their records is coaching.
Update on James Harden and his scoring ability
James Harden is good at scoring the basketball.
Five Stats from the weekend
1. Alabama and Patriots BOTH lose
The last time teams coached by Nick Saban and Bill Belichick BOTH lost in one weekend was 2011. The weekend of November 5-6, Alabama lost to LSU and the Patriots lost to the Giants.
Ironically, that was the last time Alabama had lost to LSU until this season (they avenged that year’s loss by winning the National Championship). And the Patriots would go on to lose a second time to the Giants, in Super Bowl XLVI.
2. No more tide rolling
Alabama football games usually aren’t meaningless. Their next game, kind of will be…
3. New York Football Giants long losing streak
This is amazing. The NY Mets (a baseball team, who haven’t played since September) have won a game more recently than the New York Giants, who have played every week for two months since the Mets last game.
They both won on the same day, September 29, but the Mets game ended after the Giants did.
4. History for the Jets
New York Jets made history on Sunday (yay!). Not good history (boo!). Jets became the first team in NFL history to lose twice in one season to teams with 0-7 records or worse (Dolphins in week 9 and Bengals in week 13).
5. America! F, yeah!
Air Force cracked the AP top 25 poll on Sunday. With Navy already in the top 25, Sunday marked the first time since October 14, 1985 that TWO service academies were ranked in the top 25 in the football polls (Air Force and Army).
What to Watch For – Tuesday 12/3
Big Ten/ACC Challenge begins. ESPN has an enormous double-header. Game one features #4 Michigan vs #1 Louisville in a rematch of the 2013 National Championship Game. The second game is a rematch of the 2019 Sweet 16 when Duke lost to Michigan State last year.
Lakers saw their 10 game winning streak snapped on Sunday against the Mavericks, and they’ll look to begin a new streak in Denver. Nuggets have the second best record in the West.