WHAT WE LEARNED: SUPER BOWL LVIII

BY ADAM GREENE Our NFL season officially ended with the Kansas City Chiefs crowned for the third time in the last five seasons, beating the San Francisco 49ers 25-22 in overtime in Super Bowl LVIII. Patrick Mahomes won MVP and, more importantly, I nailed every single pick but the under, which I missed by half a point. I feel good about it. You are welcome. Still, let’s talk about some stuff. YOUR EARLY SUPER BOWL LIX ODDS Kansas City Chiefs +500 San Francisco 49ers +600 Detroit Lions +700 Baltimore Ravens +1200 Buffalo Bills +1200 Cincinnati Bengals +1400 Green Bay Packers +1600 Dallas Cowboys +1800 Miami Dolphins +2000 Philadelphia Eagles +2000 Los Angeles Chargers +2200 New York Jets +2500 Houston Texans +2800 Atlanta Falcons +3300 Cleveland Browns +3300 Jacksonville Jaguars +3300 Los Angeles Rams +3300 Chicago Bears +4000 Indianapolis Colts +4000 Minnesota Vikings +5000 Tampa Bay Buccaneers +5000 Pittsburgh Steelers +6600 Seattle Seahawks +6600 Arizona Cardinals +7500 Las Vegas Raiders +7500 Denver Broncos +10000 New England Patriots +10000 New Orleans Saints +10000 New York Giants +10000 Tennessee Titans +10000 Washington Commanders _10000 Carolina Panthers +15000 You know who might be worth a real look here for a little bit of cash? The Browns, the Rams and the Vikings. If Deshaun Watson could re-discover the player he was in 2019-2020 without ending up as the defendant in a court case with a unlicensed massage therapist, Cleveland (+3300) could be a real problem. The Rams (+3300), as we’ll get into later, were probably one traded out touchdown for a field goal against the Detroit Lions from battling Swiftie nation last Sunday with a team filled with rookies. They have a full compliment of draft picks now, extra compensatory picks coming and an empty salary cap. Minnesota (+5000)is a wild card because they might move on from Kirk Cousins and bring in another guy that’s already won a Super Bowl. We’ll talk about that in another article. Honestly, if I’m picking a game today, I’m probably going rematch between the Chiefs and 49ers with a similar result. Kansas City is still Kansas City and the Niners will once again field the best roster in football until they have to cough up real quarterback money for Brock Purdy. I do not hate the Bengals (+1400) at all and there’s a good chance the Bills (+1200) and Ravens (+1200) will finally get over the hump, if for no other reason than a three-peat has never happened before in the history of the NFL. If Kansas City doesn’t go again, somebody’s got to. Who don’t I like out of the top half? The Lions (+700), Packers (+1600), Cowboys (+1800), Jets (+2500) and Texans (+2800). I have an entire offseason to think about it, but I’m not sure, sitting here in February, that the Lions will even make the playoffs in 2024-25. The Pack will, but they don’t have the team to win it all unless injuries decimate every other contender. The Jets? I’m off that wagon. The Texans are a year or two away and as for the Cowboys? Come on, guys. How many times do we have to do this? IT MAY NOT BE POSSIBLE TO WIN A SUPER BOWL WITHOUT AN ELITE QB ANYMORE Back in the 2021 offseason, Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay made a plea to team owner Stan Kroenke and Chief Operating Officer Kevin Demoff after running into Matthew Stafford in Cabo, where the then Detroit Lions quarterback was vacationing too with his family.  Here is how McVay sold the trade that sent Jared Goff and a couple of first round picks to the Lions in exchange for Stafford. “Here’s the f—ing deal, OK? We can sit here and exist, and be OK winning nine to 11 games, and losing in the f—ing divisional round and feel like, ‘Oh, everything’s OK.’ Or, we could let our motherf—ing nuts hang, and go trade for this f—ing quarterback, and give ourselves a chance to go win a f—ing world championship. You ready to f—ing do this or what?” The rest is history, literally historic as Stafford led the Rams to a Super Bowl title in his first season with the team. What McVay saw with Goff matches exactly what I saw with Goff back then and with Brock Purdy now. This is the top out. And as long as there are elite quarterbacks on good teams, those second to third tier guys aren’t hoisting a Vince Lombardi Trophy. And, right now, there are more elite QBs playing at once at any point maybe in the history of the NFL. To win a Super Bowl, you’re going to have to go through Stafford, Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, Aaron Rodgers or Joe Burrow and probably more than one of them. Mahomes had one game against a Goff/Purdy and that was their dominating Wild Card victory over the Tua Tagovailoa, who is certainly on that same trajectory. It’s something that Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel is going to have to figure out heading forward. After Tua, it was Allen and then Jackson, who was named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player for the second time. If you toss in Tom Brady, who just retired last offseason, one of those quarterbacks has been in every Super Bowl for the last near decade. The era of a Nick Foles winning a Super Bowl appears to be over, regardless of the team he has around him. For the 49ers, it’s only getting more difficult. Purdy will need to be paid in the next offseason and they’ll have to cough up $40 million, which means other great players will be tossed off the side of the boat. The window is open now for San Fran, but they don’t have a quarterback that can push them through it. At the same time, Purdy is legitimately good. He’s above average at worst and not bad enough to replace. They’ve gone from Jimmy Garoppolo to Jimmy Garoppolo 2.0. And you

TITLE: TAYLOR, TOKYO AND TRAVIS – CHIEFS/KELCE SHOUT-OUT ODDS

Taylor Swift’s Determined Journey to the Super Bowl Taylor Swift, the globally renowned pop sensation, has captured headlines recently for her determined efforts to attend her boyfriend, Travis Kelce’s, Super Bowl game in Las Vegas, despite her packed international touring schedule. Swift’s commitment to making it to the Super Bowl, scheduled for February 11th, is a testament to her dedication and the power of modern logistics. Swift’s tour, known as the Eras tour, brings her to Tokyo, Japan, where she had shows from February 7th to February 10th. With such a tight schedule, one might wonder how she intends to make it to the Super Bowl! Her commitment and determination, however, reveal a feasible plan… Tokyo to Vegas: A Time Difference Advantage The key factor working in Swift’s favor is the significant time difference between Tokyo and Las Vegas. Tokyo is 17 hours ahead of Las Vegas. Swift’s show in Tokyo is expected to last around three and a half hours, starting at 6 P.M. local time. Assuming she finishes around midnight on February 11th, it would only be 7 A.M. on February 10th in Vegas. This time difference provides her with a substantial advantage. To facilitate her journey, Swift will need to take a long-haul flight from Tokyo to Las Vegas, covering a distance of approximately 5,548 miles between the two cities’ airports. While such a flight could take around 10 hours, Swift still has ample time to make it to the Super Bowl. If she leaves Tokyo around 1 A.M. local time on February 11th (8 A.M. Vegas time on February 10th), she would land in Vegas on February 10th, well in advance of the Super Bowl’s kick-off time, which is at 3:30 P.M. Vegas time. Swift’s determination is further highlighted by her willingness to adapt to unforeseen circumstances. Reports suggest that even if her flight faces delays or cannot land directly in Las Vegas due to air traffic, she is prepared to land in Los Angeles and drive from there to make it to the game. Taylor Swift Betting: Will Swift Mention Chiefs/Kelce at Tokyo Show? Taylor Swift Super Bowl Betting – 80+ Markets Maybe you prefer to bet on Taylor Swift Lipstick Color, or whether she will get married to Travis K, Whether Trump will mention her on his social network, or one of the other 80+ bets available on BetOnline’s Taylor Swift Props Page.

Taylor Swift Super Bowl Betting – Will AA Flight 1989 or AA Flight 87 be Delayed?

Taylor Swift’s 1989 Album and Travis Kelce Taylor Swift’s fifth album, aptly titled 1989 after the year of her birth, marked a significant turning point in her career. It saw her transition from a country singer to a pop icon, solidifying her position as one of the industry’s leading artists. Adding to her newfound prominence was her relationship with Travis Kelce, the tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs, who sports jersey No. 87. Swift’s presence at Chiefs’ games during the season garnered considerable public attention and media scrutiny – and great exposure for the league with non-football fans. Flight Information for Super Bowl Travelers In an interesting twist, American Airlines and United Airlines have taken note of these high-profile connections and are offering unique flight experiences for fans and enthusiasts alike, whether they are fervent Swifties or devoted members of the Chiefs Kingdom. For those looking to travel from Kansas City to Las Vegas in time for the Super Bowl on February 11th, a few flight numbers stand out: (Odds correct at time of publication:) Will AA Flight 1989 or AA Flight 87 be Delayed? At Betonline, we’ve got over 80 Taylor Swift related props markets, including betting on whether flights 1989 and 87 will be delayed. More Flights Number Trivia It’s not just Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce who’ve had their numbers transformed into flight numbers. There are three Flight 15 offerings, mirroring the jersey number of Kansas City’s star quarterback, Patrick Mahomes. Flight 15 is available from Kansas City to Las Vegas on February 8th, and the same flight number, now departing from Vegas to Kansas City, is offered on February 12th and 13th. In a nod to the Chiefs’ roster, there’s also Flight 1521, combining the jersey numbers of Patrick Mahomes and safety Mike Edwards. This unique flight is available from Kansas City to Las Vegas once during this special period. More Taylor Swift Betting And many many more… BetOnline New Customer Bonus If you’re a new customer joining Betonline to bet on the Super Bowl, you can score a 50% Welcome Bonus up to $1,000 on your first-ever deposit. Use promo code BET1000 and get your 50% Bonus, and good luck with your bets!

WHAT WE LEARNED: NFL CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND

BY ADAM GREENE If ever there was a week that exemplified what stupidity can look like, both on the football field and on the sideline, it was the Championship Weekend we just enjoyed. We have to discuss as well as a couple of new head coaching hires in what has been the most mediocre and uninspiring coaching carousel in recent memory. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS 17, BALTIMORE RAVENS 10 First off, I feel sorry for John Harbaugh. He tried to mitigate the bad karma and Taylor Swift hate all week and was forced to watch in horror as his own dumbass team immediately ruined it with Zay Flowers’ touchdown celebration with the rest of the offense that mocked Taylor Swift dancing with Travis Kelce’s family from the Buffalo Bills AFC Divisional win. I have said this for weeks. You dummies are going to piss off the football gods to the point that the Chiefs will just walk into a third Vince Lombardi and you are doing everything to prove me right. I literally had the thought, the second I saw that celebration, that there was no way Kansas City was going to lose and instantly regretted my Ravens pick. John Harbaugh and I both knew what would happen with a pissed off Travis Kelce and annoyed football gods. Zay Flowers though, he’s a rookie. Someone should have informed him of how these things work. Of course, Flowers wasn’t done, as the football gods saw fit to have him suffer a fumble at the goal line that would have been a touchdown as well as a taunting penalty that set up the eventual goal-line butterfingers play. Zay Flowers, as you would expect, is now getting death threats on Twitter, because that’s the platform Elon Musk has turned it into, but only for the fumble and taunting, not for angering Football Zeus atop Mount Lombardolympus with his stupid dance. There was also some pregame stupidity from Justin Tucker trying to screw with Patrick Mahomes during his warmups. Travis Kelce put a stop to that, and then Kelce and Mahomes teamed up to put a stop to Baltimore’s season. But, more than that, it was the complete abandonment of the running game. This was the best rushing offense in the league and they had 16 rushing attempts total in the game and literally half of those were Lamar Jackson designed runs or scrambles. This was a game in which the Baltimore defense held the Chiefs scoreless all through the second half. It was never out of hand and they just abandoned everything that worked for them all through the 2023-24 season. I’ve been the guy praising new offensive coordinator Todd Monken since the preseason, but what the hell happened here? At home? This was malpractice and just stupid. If the Chiefs win the Super Bowl, and with two weeks of Taylor Swift hate fueling them, they certainly could, Baltimore should view this year as a “missing ring.” And that’s not even touching on Mark Andrews putting his hand up like he was open while being triple covered. This was the dumbest coached football game I’d ever seen… for all of about two hours…. As for Kansas City, the big dogs showed up when the lights were the brightest. And the guys that are a tad less heralded on a team led by one of the best quarterbacks of all time and the undisputed best tight end in NFL history, on the defense, played huge once again. In a year where no one outside of the Swiftie-verse believed Kansas City would make it back to back-to-back Super Bowls and their fourth in five seasons, they got it done. This is why, to build a dynasty and win consistently, you must have a sorcerer at quarterback and a genius head coach. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS 34, DETROIT LIONS 31 Alright, let’s get into it. The Lions led this game 24-7 at the half, completely dominating the 49ers and all but punching their ticket to the first Super Bowl in franchise history. Yes, they would have lost, either to the Ravens or the Chiefs. That much is certain, but they would have had the experience and, hey, you never know. Injuries and freakish things can happen in a Super Bowl. Nick Foles outdueled Tom Brady once for God’s sake. But Dan Campbell would not let his team get the chance. Sure, the Lions have enjoyed going for it on fourth down or going for two in weird situations and it’s worked out. It also has not, literally costing them a game against the Dallas Cowboys that would have made them the two seed in the NFC. Momentum is a real thing, regardless of what any coach or philosopher wants to pretend and not making the fourth down there, regardless of the play and Josh Reynold’s drop (and it would have been a tough catch. Let’s not act like Jared Goff put it on him perfectly), the risk vs reward of even making that call, eschewing a very makable field goal from 45 yards away to go back up three scores with just a quarter and a half to go, was a game altering stupid decision. I texted a buddy right after and told him, “The 49ers are going to win this game now” and they were still down by 14 when I sent it. Football works how it works. You pin a team at the one with a punt and let them pick up a first down, they usually score. You go for it on fourth down and don’t get it in a big game, the other team always scores. Yes, Brock Purdy nearly tossed the game right back to Detroit with a stupid throw that should have been easily picked instead of turned into a volleyball dig for Brandon Aiyuk to haul in, but that’s how the football gods work. You pay for doing something dumb. That’s why you never see guys running dynasties or potential

WHAT WE LEARNED: NFL WEEK 17

WHAT WE LEARNED: NFL WEEK 17 BY Jonathan Willis There’s too much to talk about this week, but today we’re focusing on the playoffs and a certain Denver Broncos quarterback. There’s other stuff we have to get into this week and will, both with the NFL’s referee issues on full display in prime time and David Tepper being very David Tepper last Sunday, getting fined $300,000 by the NFL for tossing a drink on Jacksonville Jaguars fans. There’s just so long this thing can be. I have to break it up and, frankly, this is a solid week to focus on some of these events in the Power Rankings. Like the fact that Zach Wilson’s time in New York is officially over that Mike Tomlin, in spite of fielding one of the worst offenses in NFL history and firing its coordinator, Matt Canada, still got the Pittsburgh Steelers to a winning record, keeping his non losing season streak going for the 17th season and once again, for the 17th straight year, is alive for a potential playoff spot heading into the final week of the season. It’s a lot, but we’re focusing on DangerRuss and the playoffs in this one. RUSSELL WILSON AND THE BRONCOS CONSCIOUSLY UNCOUPLE After falling in consecutive games that all but realistically, if not officially, knocked the Denver Broncos out of playoff contention, last week head coach Sean Payton announced that starting franchise quarterback Russell Wilson, a man for which the team gave up a king’s ransom in draft picks and players to add, would hit the pine, replaced by Jarrett Stidham against the Los Angeles Chargers. It was a surprise move, in spite of the two losses. Wilson, in the first year in Payton’s system, seemed to be finding his footing and, while not worth what the Broncos gave up to get him, looked very much like, at worst, a quality starting NFL QB, if not the franchise signal caller Denver thought it was bringing in before the 2022 season. When asked about the benching after a 26-23 loss to the hapless New England Patriots, Payton, speaking to the press, was coy but almost told the whole truth. “We’re desperately trying to win,” Payton said. “Sure, in our game today, there are economics and other things but the number one push behind this — and it’s a decision I’m making — is to get a spark offensively.” That “economics” bean spillage was the key, as Wilson filled in the blanks when he got his chance to speak to the media, his divorce with the Broncos already well underway in his mind, I’d presume. The benching had apparently been in the works for weeks, at least since Denver’s monster win over the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 8. The team wanted Wilson to remove his injury guarantee in his contract and he refused, according to the quarterback. “They definitely told me I was going to be benched and all that,” Wilson said. “That whole bye week I didn’t know what was going to be the case, I was going to be ready to play, I wanted to go to Buffalo and beat Buffalo (on Nov. 13). … I wasn’t going to remove the injury guarantee. This game is such a physical game, I’ve played 12 years and all that. I want to be able to play, I want to be able to help this team win. … I know every time I step on the field it’s a physical game. I never play timid, I never play scared.” Now, a handful of days later, no one seems to be disputing this fact. I’m sure Payton feels he’s covered by the consecutive losses and, while Wilson was better than he was last year, he was hardly playing up to the massive contract the Broncos gave him. There have been some in punditry floating that there could be some legal action from Wilson and the NFLPA over the benching, I can’t see how they have much an argument. This is a guy that’s won 11 football games in two seasons, ironically one win short of matching the number of bathrooms in his house. Something that haunted Wilson, and his touchdown pass mark, all last season. Make no mistake, if Denver was 9-7 right now, still in the playoff mix, and hadn’t lost to the pathetic Pats, Wilson would still have his job. Denver would have wanted a contract re-work, but wouldn’t have sacrificed their first postseason appearance since 2015 to do it. With Wilson under center, the Broncos went 11-19 in two years for three different head coaches. Wilson completed 66.4 percent of his passes this season for 3,070 yards, 26 touchdowns and eight interceptions, numbers that a solid contingent of NFL teams would accept from their starting QB. Thanks to those two losses, even with Stidham leading the team to a cumbersome 16-9 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers, Denver’s postseason missing streak officially continues as they were eliminated from AFC playoff contention. And while the Broncos owe Wilson a ton of money, they’ll still be on the hook for $39 million next season, Denver can split up his $85 million cap hit over 2024 and 2025 with a post June 1 cut designation. So can they trade Wilson? Sure, if he waves his “no trade” clause and there’s no way he will. Wilson rightly should want to go the Derek Carr route and become a free agent. All he does by agreeing to a trade is keep his present contract intact, which he’s already collected a huge chunk of, and let Denver off the hook on paying him the $39 million they owe him, Some other team would have to take that on. And that would limit Wilson’s options on where he could end up. As a free agent, still being paid nearly $40 million by Denver, Wilson can sign with whoever he wants for any cap-friendly deal he and his agent are willing to

WHAT WE LEARNED: NFL WEEK 16

WHAT WE LEARNED: NFL WEEK 16 We had so much NFL football this past weekend we had to spread it over four days and it still feels as if it wasn’t enough. What was sorted? Not a lot, but it was fun and frankly, for my particular fandom and betting this past week, could not have gone better. Still, we had some major events go down over the weekend and this is where we get to pop out our spyglass and deerstalker hat to really investigate what went down. LAMAR JACKSON TAKES OVER THE MVP RACE Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t a Brock Purdy believer in the offseason. In fact, if you go back to my 5 Bold Predictions for the 2023 NFL season article, I predicted that Purdy would be benched for Sam Darnold by Thanksgiving. That obviously didn’t happen. Is Purdy a legit NFL starter? It looks that way. I’ve seen all the comparisons to what Jimmy Garoppolo did in that same offense and the excuses made about talent around him, but that’s all ridiculous. I defy you to show me the MVP that didn’t play with elite talent around him. My eyes work. And even though I’m a Los Angeles Rams fan and, as such, hate the San Francisco 49ers, I also live in reality. He looks like the real deal to me. Has he looked like the NFL’s Most Valuable Player? No. He’s not even the most valuable player on his own team and hasn’t been. Now, to be fair, Purdy also humbly thinks he’s not the MVP or, at least that’s what he’s publicly said and I buy it. He doesn’t seem like some egocentric guy. In fact, he looks like your sister’s middle school boyfriend who she broke up with because he always has a booger in his nose. But, for whatever reason, Purdy was the odds-on favorite to be handed the MVP Trophy at the NFL Awards after the 49ers endure their annual NFC Championship loss, but that changed significantly after the events of a pretty phenomenal Christmas weekend for your humble narrator. Lamar Jackson is now atop the pack as he should ne. Purdy, well, let’s just say it’s a precipitous drop. Here’s our current odds as of Tuesday; Lamar Jackson -190 Christiam McCaffrey +340 Josh Allen +900 Tua Tagovailoa +1100 Brock Purdy +1200 Dak Prescott +2000 Tyreek Hill +2000 Patrick Mahomes +5000 That is a quick elevator ride down. It’s like the Wild Eagle roller coaster at Dollywood. It’s steep, happens fast and once you’re going down, there ain’t no way to stop it. With two weeks to go, Jackson probably has it sewn up. A win over the Miami Dolphins this coming week will not only seal home field advantage in the playoffs and will likely seal the deal on this trophy for Jackson, who has been incredible this season, as I knew he would be, in an actual NFL level offense. I’ve been screaming this in Jackson’s defense for years. And, sure, it validates every criticism I leveled at Greg Roman and John Harbaugh for keeping the Pop Warner play caller employed, but I’m happier for Jackson and the NFL than I am for me. But, you know, I was dead on correct. Just saying. Could anyone else realistically sneak in there with just two weeks to go? Probably not. McCaffrey has done all he can and he’s still No. 2. Josh Allen and Tua Tagovailoa face off in Week 18, maybe for the AFC East, but the consistent big game performances aren’t there. Miami, as of this writing, still has just one win over a team with a winning record — the Dallas Cowboys, and that literally happened this past weekend. Dak Prescott has a stat argument, but not the big game argument. The Cowboys have been crushed too many times and have lost two straight to contending teams. Tyreek Hill has missed games and time and probably isn’t even the No. 1 contender for Offensive Player of the Year right now. As for Patrick Mahomes? That’s a “no.” So who should be in here that isn’t? How about Matthew Stafford? No quarterback on the planet is playing better than he has over the last six games. He’s got the Los Angeles Rams in the current playoff bracket and is doing things with the football in each of those games that blow your mind. He wouldn’t win, but I’d have him listed over Hill and Mahomes. And, if you’ve been paying attention to what’s happening in LA, you would too. And that’s not just my fandom talking. NO, THERE ISN’T A TAYLOR SWIFT PROBLEM WITH THE CHIEFS Yeah, I know you’ve seen it. Make no mistake, this critique of the Kansas City Chiefs current problems on the field is stupid across the board. Taylor Swift is not the first famous woman to date an NFL player and she won’t be the last. She’s also not the first to be shown on TV during the game. It happens every single time. Simone Biles, Gisele Bundchen all the way back to Angie Harmon in the 1990s. But, of course, we live in the dumbest possible world right now and the chorus of morons harping about this on Twitter, or X if you’re an idiot (or are forced to say it by the media company for which you work) have ulterior motives in espousing this particular conspiracy theory. Now, if you’re a regular reader, you know I try to keep politics out of my writing here unless the article is specifically about something political. The, you know, I have fun with it. The animus toward Swift and Kelce comes from his commercials promoting and supporting the COVID-19 vaccine, his commercials for Bud Light, the fact that he’s one of the few white players who took a knee during the Black Lives Matter protests and Swift’s own political leanings which, let’s just say, align closely with

BEST NCAA FOOTBALL GAMES OF WEEK 7

BY ADAM GREENE I have once again perused the week’s NCAA Football schedule to hand select four games to feature for your potential betting entertainment. It’s been a bad couple of weeks for your humble narrator. I thought adding another matchup to the picks would help me pull my record out of the basement. Instead, I just grabbed a shovel and put myself in a deeper hole. But, with every week comes a new hope. Here’s the four games I’ve handpicked for you this week. TEXAS A&M AT TENNESSEE (-3, O/U: 55) Location: Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, Tenn. Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 14, 3:30 p.m., CBS Texas A&M (4-2, 2-1 SEC) has flirted with relevance all season, only to drop the ball, literally and figuratively when they have a shot to get back on the map. Last week they fell in a close one to Alabama, 26-20. Max Johnson had a solid day under center, going 14 of 25 passing for 239 yards, a touchdown and a pick. The defense held the Crimson Tide to 23 total yards on the ground and picked off Jalen Milroe once. No. 19 ranked Tennessee (4-1, 1-1 SEC) had a bye last week after what was probably their best game of the season. The Volunteers blasted South Carolina, 41-20, Much-maligned quarterback Joe Milton was 21 of 32 passing for 239 yards, one touchdown and two picks. The Vols rushed for 238 yards, with Jaylen Wright leading the way with 16 carries for 123 yards and a score. The defense shut down Spencer Rattler, holding him to 169 passing yards, no TDs and an interception. The only thing the Volunteers can do consistently is run and it’s bad news that the Aggies were able to shut down the Bama running game so thoroughly. I’m feeling an upset in Neyland here, Texas A&M 27, Tennessee 23 OREGON AT WASHINGTON (-3, O/U: 66.5) Location: Husky Stadium, Seattle, Wash. Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 14, 3:30 p.m., ABC No. 8-ranked Oregon (5-0, 2-0 Pac-12) has answered the bell this season in a big way once the “difficult” part of their schedule hit. They’ve had one tight shootout win over Texas Tech in week 2 and no other game has even been close. Two weeks ago, they obliterated No. 19 Colorado, 42-6 and then put up that same score in a 42-6 victory over Stanford last week. Bo Nix was dealing, going 27 of 32 passing for 290 yards and four touchdowns. Two Ducks running backs went for 88 yards and a touchdown, Jordan James and Bucky Irving. The defense held the Cardinal to just 222 yards of total offense. No. 7 Washington (5-0, 2-0 Pac-12) took a week off after taking their turn knocking off Arizona. Michael Penix, Jr. was 30 of 40 passing for 363 yards, no touchdowns and no picks in the win. All the Huskies TDs came on the ground, with Dillon Johnson leading the way with 16 carries for 91 yards and two scores. There’s a good chance this will be the best game of the day. The Ducks just look way too strong at this point and could be cruising into the College Football Playoff. This will definitely be their toughest test to date, but I think they’ll pass it. Oregon 45, Washington 27 USC AT NOTRE DAME (-3, O/U: 60.5) Location: Notre Dame Stadium, Notre Dame, Ind. Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 14, 7:30 p.m., NBC/Peacock Caleb Williams and No. 10-ranked USC (6-0) have been on an offensive roll that’s kept its record perfect. The defense hasn’t been much help in that. While the Trojans have scored 42 or more in every single game this season, the defense has given up 41 in consecutive weeks to Colorado and Arizona. In last week’s 43-41 win over the Wildcats, Williams was 14 of 25 passing for 219 yards and a touchdown. He rushed 12 times for 43 yards and two scores. The defense surrendered 506 total yards of offense, including 203 on the ground. Excessive offensive production has not been an issue for No. 21 Notre Dame (5-2) this season. They’ve not scored more than 21 points in a game in the past three weeks and gone 1-2 in that span. Last week they fell 33-20 to No. 25 Louisville. Sam Hartman was 22 of 38 passing for 254 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. The Fighting Irish rushed for just 44 yards as a unit while surrendering 185 yards on the ground to the Cardinals. I have no idea why the Irish are still ranked, let alone favored in this game. Sure, the Trojans basically leave their defense on the bus every game, but Caleb Williams is putting up Steph Curry basketball numbers at QB. I don’t think this one will be close. USC 38, Notre Dame 23 MISSOURI AT KENTUCKY (-2.5, O/U: 50.5) Location: Kroger Field, Lexington, Ky. Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 14, 7:30 p.m., SEC Network Missouri’s stint in the Top 25 lasted all of a week. The Tigers (5-1, 1-1 SEC) played toe-to-toe with LSU for a while, losing 49-39. Brady Cook was 30 of 47 passing for 411 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in the loss. The defense surrendered 533 yards on offense. No. 24 Kentucky (5-1, 2-1 SEC) ran into a brick wall last week, taking their first loss of the season, 51-13, to No. 1 Georgia. Devin Leary had a rough day at quarterback, going 10 of 26 passing for 128 yards and two touchdowns, but he did not throw an interception. The Wildcats rushed for just 55 yards and were held to a pitiful 188 total yards of offense. There was a time in SEC play that this game would be all but forgettable. While neither Mizzou or the Wildcats could keep their record spotless before this one, somebody’s falling completely out of the final SEC East race after this contest. I think it’ll be the Tigers. Kentucky 31, Missouri 27 Last week Straight up: 1-3 Against the spread: 1-3 Season

NFL POWER RANKINGS WEEK 3

BY ADAM GREENE It always surprises me how quickly the NFL weeks start to jet by once the actual season kicks off. It doesn’t hurt that, counting college football, we have just two days a week (Tuesday and Wednesday) without games, sometimes multiple options, to watch. This week, there’s no real movement at the top of the rankings or at the very bottom, but those teams in the middle still seem to be sorting it out. So, hey, let’s offer an assist by arbitrarily ranking them. 1. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (2-0) Most teams look worse on Thursday night than they do on Sunday afternoon. After floundering a little in Week1, the Eagles looked every bit like the defending NFC Champions in Week 2, at least from the second quarter on against the Minnesota Vikings. Also, I want to say a word about the NFL coaches wanting the league to outlaw Philly’s short yardage QB sneak play. Suck it up, losers. Yes, they’ve devised an unstoppable play that can gain exactly 1-2 yards. Now it’s up to you to come up with a play to stop it. That’s how this whole thing works. Last week: No. 1 2. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (2-0) The two best rosters in the NFL populate the two top spots, but the Niners got all they could handle last week from a scrappy Los Angeles Rams team that no one expected to do much in 2023. I will say this, my bold prediction that Brock Purdy would get benched by Thanksgiving is looking way off right now. Last week: No. 2 3. MIAMI DOLPHINS (2-0) Not only have the Dolphins looked nearly unstoppable on offense over the first two weeks of the season, they made sure the New England Patriots would open the year 0-2, making their appearance on next summer’s HBO’s Hard Knocks that much more likely. Also, it’s great that Tua Tagovailoa is healthy and has apparently learned how to take a hit. If I was a quarterback, I’d be signing up for whatever Jujitsu thing Tua is doing today. Last week: No. 3 4. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (1-1) There was no way the Chiefs would start the year 0-2, but I didn’t see them completely dominating the Jacksonville Jaguars on defense and surrendering a single digit score. Last week: No. 4 5. DALLAS COWBOYS (2-0) Dallas has surrendered 10 points to two New York teams this season in total. Now, let’s not pretend the Jets have an elite offense (in spite of some elite offensive players) without Aaron Rodgers, but these have been two real NFL teams. And while the Giants probably won’t make the playoffs this year, Brian Daboll is a hell of a coach and Dan Quinn’s defense blanked him. Last week:  No. 5 6. BALTIMORE RAVENS (2-0) When the season began, it looked as if the Ravens were in the toughest division in the NFL. While I expected them to battle for the division and certainly land a Wild Card, I didn’t expect the rest of the AFC North to look, well, this bad. Baltimore may walk to a division title and could also be looking at home field advantage and a bye in the playoffs. Last week: No. 7 7. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (1-1) The loss to the Chiefs wasn’t a shocker. Jacksonville still has a ways to go before they can count on wins like that against a great squad with its back against the wall. What was surprising was the poor performance of the offense, scoring just nine points. Last week: No. 6 8. LOS ANGELES RAMS (1-1) We like to say there are no moral victories in the NFL and it’s probably true. But to stand toe-to-toe with the 49ers and be a play or three away from actually winning the game was a solid step forward for a Rams team that half of NFL punditry expected to tank this season. Puka Nacua has set new rookie records for receptions and yards in his first two games. Tutu Atwell has shed the bust label and now the Rams have the Bengals coming up on the schedule, which looks very winnable now, before a game against the Indianapolis Colts. Last week: No. 9 9. CINCINNATI BENGALS (0-2) Joe Burrow hobbling back to the sideline after another poor game just shows that the team rushed him back too fast after his preseason calf injury. Now, they’re talking about possibly sitting him for a game or more. With Aaron Donald and Jeffery Simmons on the other side of the field over the next two contests, that might not be the worst idea. If Burrow does hit the bench for the next four games and Cincy pulls out two wins, they come out of their bye 2-4 and absolutely could make a run if Burrow is 100 percent. It’s probably the smart move. Last week: No. 8 10. DETROIT LIONS (1-1) You know, I didn’t pick Detroit to win in Week 1, but did think they’d cover. Week 2? I figured they’d blow the Seattle Seahawks off the field. To drop that game, after such a masterful win nine days before over the Chiefs (with the extra prep time too) is a bad look for a team we all hope will play into late January. Last week:  No. 10 11. BUFFALO BILLS (1-1) So this is what it looks like when Josh Allen doesn’t hand the ball to the other team multiple times? Weird. Now they have the 2-0 Washington Commanders coming up on the schedule and the best thing Buffalo can do for a long suffering fanbase is beat the Commanders by 50. Yes, I was talking about Washington’s fanbase. Who did you think I meant? Last week: No. 14 12. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (2-0) Three teams in the NFC South open the year 2-0, but with a visit to the Green Bay Packers coming up Sunday. Frankly, looking at every NFC South’s team schedule, I think they’re all taking losses

WHAT WE LEARNED – NFL WEEK 2

BY ADAM GREENE Our Monday Night Football doubleheaders are in the books, so now let’s take a look at what everyone’s talking about heading into Week 3. 9 TEAMS OPEN 2-0, BUT NOT ALL ARE MAKING THE PLAYOFFS We’re two weeks in and nine NFL squads currently have spotless records, but not all of these teams will be playing late into January. The Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens, Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Commanders, Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and San Francisco 49ers are all 2-0. Now, the math is in their favor. Teams that open the year 2-0 have a 63.8 percent chance to make the playoffs. But not every 2-0 start is the same. The good news for the three NFC South teams that opened undefeated is that one of them has to win the division, so somebody’s definitely going to be in that 68.3 percent. But I can’t see two or more of them making it in. I’m confident that the Dolphins, Ravens, Cowboys and Eagles can go ahead and make whatever long term plans for the end of January that they want. But the Commanders? There’s no way in the world that’s sustainable and all you can do is look at their schedule and the fact that they have a great coach in Ron Rivera to explain how they got here. It’s why I thought, in spite of actively tanking via their QB room, they’d probably still put up too good a record to draft Caleb Williams without making a monster trade like I’m sure their ownership would love. 9 TEAMS OPEN 0-2, BUT AT LEAST ONE OF THEM WILL MAKE THE PLAYOFFS On the flip side of this equation, we have nine teams sitting at 0-2, which means they’re all looking at a 41.8 percent chance of making the postseason. That crew includes the New England Patriots, Cincinnati Bengals, Houston Texans, Los Angeles Chargers, Denver Broncos, Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears, Carolina Panthers and Arizona Cardinals. Some of those are shockers. Three of them, the Vikings, Bengals and Chargers, all made the playoffs last season and Cincinnati made it all the way to the AFC Championship. Like their 2-0 counterparts, these 0-fors are not the same. Los Angeles can’t even blame its schedule. Sure, the Dolphins are great and that was an epic shootout and instant classic in Week 1, but there is no excuse at all to lose to a Tennessee Titans team dying to bench its quarterback and sim to next season. Cincinnati has played two tough teams, both potential playoff participants, and have obviously rushed quarterback Joe Burrow back too quickly from his preseason calf injury. Now there’s some serious talk about pulling Burrow for the next couple of games to try to get his calf right. But, considering his back up, rookie Jake Browning has attempted one single pass (an incompletion), that’s pretty much a white flag. Especially with a Monday Night Football game coming up against the Rams before a trip to Tennessee to take on the aforementioned Titans. While the Rams are good and the Titans, well, we don’t know yet, one thing is for sure. Both those teams can get after the quarterback and the last thing Cincy wants to see is Burrow’s Achilles pop with Aaron Donald or Jeffery Simmons riding him to the ground. I would rather start 0-4 knowing I’ll get a full-go Joe Burrow later on than to lose him for the year. As for the other 0-2 squads? The Broncos might be able to turn it around. You’d hope that Minnesota could, considering the talent they have on their roster. The NFC North still looks very winnable after both the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions took surprising losses Sunday. The Patriots already have a date with HBO’s Hard Knocks next season and the Texans, Bears, Panthers and Cardinals are all looking at landing Top 5 draft picks. RAMS ROOKIE PUKA NACUA OFF TO HISTORIC START Sometimes an injury to a star player (as long as it’s not that serious) can be a good thing, opening up an opportunity for another guy. For the Los Angeles Rams, that other guy is rookie Puka Nacua and he has done nothing short of make history in his two games playing in replacement of All-Universe wide receiver Cooper Kupp. Nacua’s 25 receptions over his first two games is a new NFL record for a rookie. He’s piled up 266 yards along the way and spent all last week being snapped up from fantasy football waiver wires all over the country. All of us that landed him (yes, I did) were pretty happy about it Sunday night, even though the Rams fell a touchdown short of the 49ers. Nacua’s 25 receptions over two contests destroys the old record of 19 from San Francisco 1980 rookie Earl Cooper. Nacua is just the third rookie since 1970 with 10 or more receptions in his first two games and is the fifth player with 10 or more catches and 100-plus yards the first two times he’s put on the horns. In fact, the only player that’s caught more yards in his first two games was Anquan Bolden, who hauled in 279 in 2003 for the Arizona Cardinals and was the Offensive Rookie of the Year. Nacua, who I’m pretty sure didn’t even have odds for that when the season began, now has the third best (+500) behind only Bijan Robinson (+190) of the Falcons and Anthony Richardson (+350) of the Indianapolis Colts. Of course Bolden, Robinson and Richardson were all first round picks. Nacua was selected by LA in the fifth round of April’s draft. What’s been very interesting, and good for the Rams with Kupp returning, is that Tutu Atwell has also emerged as a legit receiver and flirting with bust status after being selected in the second round of the 2021 draft. Atwell’s healthy, running all the routes and has 13 catches for 196 yards. Follow