College and NFL Football Notebook
So Sorry If You Were Sucked In On All The Media Hype About The Reborn Cleveland Browns That In Fact Like Those Of Past…Now 1-19-1 In Last 20 Openers
Miami Dolphins Worst NFL Team And Proved It In Record 59-10 Loss To Ravens And Have So Little Talent They May Go 0-16 This Season
Seminoles' Taggart, Vols' Pruitt, UCLA's Kelly And UNLV's Sanchez Should Be Fired Now And Probably Will Be This Month
Astros (94-50), Dodgers (93-52) Now 5-2 Co-Favorites To Win World Series…Yankees (94-50) Are 7-2 While Braves (89-55) and Twins (88-55) Are 9-1
By Kelso Sturgeon
There was no National Football League team given more hype for the 2019-20 season than those voodoo-stricken Cleveland Browns. So improved, so much more talented. Those who went for all praise took a stand where the truth is told—at the betting windows. When the futures books closed last week, Cleveland was the 7-5 favorite to win the American football Conference North, 9-1 to win the AFC championship and 18-1 to win the Super Bowl.
That is strong backing for a team that went 0-16 in 2017, 1-15 in 2016, and 3-13 in 2015. That translates to a horrible 4-44 record in that time frame. Then, with the arrival of Oklahoma All-American quarterback Baker Mayfield last season the Browns appeared a respectable 7-8-1 and won five of their last seven games.
The turn-around had arrived. Rome might not have been built in a day but the Browns defied all logic and became championship contenders in just 16 games. And, with the off-season arrival of superstar wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. hope blew out the sky. Oh, yes, let's not forget an upgraded defense to go with that new and explosive offense.
Sunday arrived and bettors were convinced they were stealing money by taking the Browns and laying the -5.5 at home against a suspect Tennessee Titans team, even though the latter was shooting for its fourth straight winning season under the leadership of quarterback Marcus Mariota, a tough-as-pig-iron five-year starter with the balls of a daytime cat burglar who knows how to win.
It was game time and reality made an entrance. Three hours later, the new and improved Cleveland Browns looked exactly like the old and disgraceful Cleveland Browns. Tennessee (+5.5) 43, Cleveland 13.
This may be the end for long-suffering Cleveland fans. Only a handful remained in 67,895-seat FirstEnergy Stadium when the game ended.
The Browns were so ill-prepared to play they committed an unheard of 18 penalties for 182 yards (6-7 will kill a team). Mayfield was 25-of-38 passing for 285 yards and one touchdown, with three interceptions, all in the fourth quarter. Mariota was 14-of-24 for 238 yards and three touchdowns, with no interceptions. For the record, research and very sophisticated algorithms say each interceptions cost the offender 2.9 points.
But hope springs eternal. Cleveland is at the New York Jets Monday night and are listed as 2.5-point favorites. Haver anther taste, suckers.
Dolphins One Of Worst NFL Teams I Have Ever Seen
There are reports floating around the NFL the Miami Dolphins are going in the tank this season in order to have an awful record and be in position to draft a franchise quarterback. Let me stop you right there. The Dolphins have so little talent they do not have to tank to lose to anybody. Losing will be natural, and expected, all season and there is a strong chance they will go 0-16.
There is next to nothing there and that is why I released the Baltimore Ravens (-7) over Miami this past Sunday as my 50-unit NFL Game of the Week and had no trouble getting the money in a 59-10 win, handing the Dolphins their worst loss in franchise history.
We knew going in Miami had no offense and even less defense, and could never stay close to a Ravens team that believes it can win the Super Bowl and absolutely comes to play every game. The numbers confirm that. Baltimore set a franchise record for points in a first half and led 42-10 at the intermission. The Ravens also set franchise records for points and total yards with 643.
Miami finished with 200 yards of offense and 12 first downs but did excel in punting, with six for an average of 53.7 yards. The Ravens punted but once—a 56-yarder—and controlled every aspect of the game, having the ball 40:07 to 19:53 for Miami.
Miami hosts the New England Patriots this week and the money already is pouring in on the latter. New England opened at -14.5 in the late afternoon Sunday but moved to -17.5 after the Pat crushed the Pittsburgh, 33-3, as 5.5-point favorites. If you like New England, bet now, because this line is going to move into the 20s by week's end.
Look For These Four Coaches To Get Fired Sooner Than Later
There are many schools where losing is not tolerated and at some of them a 10-3 season is considered a disaster. Winning is the only thing that counts—no excuses, please. That said, here are four coaches that are already just two weeks into the season and it would surprise no one if they were fired shortly.
- At Florida State, second-year coach Willie Taggart is in deep trouble. He took over last season, went 5-7 and the Seminoles did not go to a bowl game for the first time since 1978. FSU opened this season with a 36-31 loss to Boise State and last Saturday was all-out to beat UL-Monroe, a 23-point underdog, 45-44, in overtime. A loss at Virginia Saturday will really turn up the heat. FSU has the money to buy out Taggart's contract, if it wishes to.
- At Tennessee, the faithful are still in shock the Volunteers are 0-2. Under second-year coach Jeremy Pruitt, UT suffered one of the biggest losses in football history when it was upset at home by Georgia State, a 24.5-point underdog, 35-30. Last week, BYU rolled into Knoxville and as a 3-point underdog, beat Tennessee, 29-26, in two overtimes. Tennessee also has the money to buy out Pruitt's contract, if it wishes to.
- UCLA paid millions to hire former Oregon and Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly and he is in deep trouble after losing at Cincinnati, 24-14, and falling last week to San Diego State, 23-14, for the first time in 21 meetings. This comes on the heels of a 3-9 first season for Kelly, and with Oklahoma, Washington State and Arizona coming up, his Bruins may start their second straight season 0-5. The only chance he has to keep his job will be the reluctance of the school to spend several million dollars to buy out his contract.
- The firing of fifth-year UNLV coach Tony Sanchez is a must before he sends the Rebels into oblivion. He is 17-33 at UNLV and does not have a clue how to win in college football. His teams are never ready to go at the kickoff, have a habit of falling behind three-four touchdowns before waking up to the fact they are in a game. UNLV is 1-1 this season, beating I-AA Southern Utah, 56-23, as a 25-point favorite and last week losing at home to Arkansas State, 43-17, as 1-point underdog. His lack of ability to win at the college level came full cycle in 2017 when the Rebels were a 45.5-point favorite over I-AA Howard and lost 43-40. The team's next six games are against Northwestern, Wyoming, Boise State, Vanderbilt, Fresno State and San Diego State and I guarantee bettors the team will lose them all.
If Major League Playoffs Began Today
While a lot can happen in the standings between now and when the postseason starts on Oct. 1, here is what the playoff picture looks like if they were to begin today. The World Series begins October 22 at the home of the team with the best record.
NL Wild Card Game (Oct. 1): Cubs at Nationals
AL Wild Card Game (Oct. 2): A's at Rays
NLDS (begins Oct. 3): Wild Card Game winner at Dodgers; Cardinals at Braves
ALDS (begins Oct. 4): Wild Card Game winner at Astros; Twins at Yankees