MNF Preview and College Bowl Playoffs
Okay, so whoever thought while heading into the final game of this NFL Week 13 menu that everyone in the NFC East would be looking up at the ... Dallas Cowboys?
It's the strange-but-true world of this year's NFL 2018 season - hey, the Cowboys now have the second-longest SU (straight up) winning streak in the league at four in a row (behind Houston's amazing nine-game winning streak) and so when the M*A*S*H-like Washington Redskins (6-5) invade the 6-point favorite Philadelphia Eagles (5-6) this evening at "The Linc" both teams will attach "must win" labels to this prime-time affair. Wouldn't you say so?
Tonight, it's ...
WASHINGTON (6-5) at PHILADELPHIA (5-6) - 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN
If you happen to be a fan of the Super Bowl go-against - in other words, you bet every week against the previous year's Super Bowl winner - then no doubt you've cashed in plenty this year when it comes to these Eagles: Last year's champs are a crummy 3-8 ATS (against the spread) this season and that happens to include two-of-three spread setbacks against fellow NFC East sides. If Doug Pederson's squad is gonna win/cover here in its first meeting of the season against archrival Washington, then that famed pass-catch combo of QB Carson Wentz to TE Zach Ertz (team-leading 84 receptions worth 895 yards and 6 TDs) must do damage to a D.C. crew that ranks a lowly 25th in the league in pass defense.
On the flip side, Washington's injury-savaged offensive line - missing three starters from the original depth chart this year - must allow backup-turned-starting QB Colt McCoy (3 TDs / 3 INTs) to throw from a moving pocket here and thus hope the Eagles' secondary just can't stay with the likes of TE Jordan Reed (50 catches) and developing WR Josh Doctson (32 grabs) for that extra split-second. Did you know the 'Skins have scored more than 24 points just once this whole '18 season (see 31-17 win against Green Bay back in Week 3 action)?
Spread Notes - Washington's actually a rock-solid 7-4 ATS this season and note the 'Skins have covered six of their last eight head-to-head showdowns against the Eagles. Meanwhile, Philly is a dreadful 2-7 versus the vig as betting favorites this year after covering 7-of-11 as chalk sides a year ago.
In other NFL Week 13 commentary ...
Lots to chow down on when it comes to the here-and-now NFL but let's start with the Mike McCarthy firing in Green Bay (now 4-7-1):
Folks, we never like when teams axe a head coach during the season but insiders say that McCarthy really had "lost touch" with this Packers' squad and most notably with star QB Aaron Rodgers who - truth be told - has not been nearly as good as the numbers would suggest (see 3,504 yards passing with 21 TDs and 1 INT). McCarthy's backers don't like the fact a Super Bowl-winning coach was fired before year's end - but note that SB win happened eight years ago and we've always thought the Packers should have won more than a single Super Bowl with Brett Favre all those years ago and should have won more than once with Mr. Rodgers. Still, Green Bay should have kept McCarthy on and given him the final four games; he deserved that at least ...
And a word or two about the Los Angeles Chargers' rather unlikely 33-30 win at 3-point fav Pittsburgh on Sunday Night Football: Okay, so the Chargers were "handed" their first TD of the game when an obvious false start penalty wasn't called but the referee Bill Vinovich-led crew blundered the rest of the evening with "make-up" calls although they had no choice but to tag the Steelers with back-to-back offsides penalties on those attempted FG tries by Michael Badgley from 29 yards out. Expect the NFL to bring down the hammer on a couple of game officials from this tilt ...
Finally, in case you had lost count there have been seven - count 'em, seven - outright underdog winners already on this NFL Week 13 card and it started with last Thursday's 13-10 home win by the 7.5-point pup Cowboys. Other outright winners included Jacksonville, Tampa Bay, Baltimore (so much for that Las Vegas line move of Ravens minus 2 points to plus 2.5 points), the New York Giants, Arizona and those LA Chargers - lots of big-time money-line winners for these dog players.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS
Wait, are those ESPN talking heads STILL debating the pros and cons of Oklahoma getting into this year's four-team College Football Playoffs?
The reality of this year's playoff situation was the 13-member committee got it right by including the OU Sooners (12-1) and excluding both Georgia (11-2) and The Ohio State University (12-1) but - let's face it - hasn't this whole process become way too messy? Sure, we keep hearing how the debates are "healthy" for the sport but you could have sat there following all of last Saturday's conference championship games and made a strong case for all of 'em ... Oklahoma, Georgia and Ohio State ... but what if, in reality, Georgia's the best top-to-bottom football team or what if the Buckeyes brought this late-season momentum into the playoffs (see 2014) and rolled the competition again?
Gotta admit that we were fans of this four-team playoff setup at first and opposed to an eight-team tournament but we're starting to change our mind: Maybe it's time for everyone to play 11-game regular seasons, keep the conference championship games in place and then go to an eight-team playoff tourney where the ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC Championship Game winners are all rewarded a playoff berth, the non-Power 5 would get a representative and then the next two highest-rated teams in the final rankings round out the eight-team field but no league could have more than two teams in the 8-team field.
For instance, that would mean an 8-team playoff this year would look something like this:
Alabama, Clemson, Oklahoma, Ohio State and Washington would net the conference championship game berths joined by UCF, Notre Dame and Georgia.
How would quarterfinal playoff matchups look if they were ...
Alabama vs. Washington; Clemson vs. UCF; Notre Dame vs. Ohio State; and Oklahoma vs. Georgia? Sounds juicy to us!