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    stormstopper last won the day on April 7

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    1. [2021] Week #9 - TNF

      From 2015 to 2020, Oregon State went 6-66. With this win today, they are now 6-1. They've matched their single-season wins record with their sixth today and earned their second-ever bowl bid. Congrats Beavers!
    2. Thursday Night Kansas State (2-4) at Texas Tech (4-2)* Let's throw it back to the days of Dylan Stewart, plunging headlong through the scrum at the line time and time again as both the anchor and the wheel of the DFS offense. And let's throw it back to the days of Michael Bruce (our best wishes are with him) or Jeremy Miller, dominating the line of scrimmage and stopping all opponents cold in their tracks. And finally, to quote Missy Elliott, let's put our thing down, flip it, and reverse it. This time, it's Texas Tech's Solomon McLaughlin who's blasting his way through defenses, and it's Kansas State who leads with their front seven to try and stop him. In case you weren't aware, McLaughlin is the best runningback in the country. He's rushed for 1,000 yards and 13 touchdowns in 6 games, and being the focal point of the offense hasn't stopped him from averaging 6.2 yards per carry. Knowing exactly what Texas Tech is going to do hasn't slowed McLaughlin down by even a step, and the Red Raiders are scoring a respectable 25.2 points per game as a result. Kansas State will welcome the challenge. Defensive ends Matthew Mayfield and Javier Tovar are their two best defensive players, defensive tackle Jonah Caruso and middle linebacker Brendan Scherer are future stars as well, and they're able to get into the backfield and get after the run. The Wildcats are probably happy, though, that Texas Tech won't be challenging their secondary virtually at all. That said, when the tables are turned Kansas State's going to have a hard time getting through an athletic and aggressive Texas Tech defense. They're very much reliant on Rahim Murrell, who's predictable in his unpredictability. He's never had a game without a touchdown pass, but he's also thrown an interception in 15 of the 18 games he's played. He's going to face pressure from Curtis Jones and the rest of the Texas Tech defensive line, and Austin Callahan floating over the middle is dangerous as a pass defender from the linebacker spot. There's a reason they give up 17.5 points per game after all. I think that's the difference-maker: Kansas State might be able to slow down Texas Tech somewhat, but they'll have a harder time cracking through on the other end. Give me the Red Raiders. Texas Tech 24, Kansas State 16
    3. [2021] Week #8 Fan Interest Figures

      Looks like we still have work to do getting and keeping the fanbase engaged even with our start so far. Can't erase several years of bad memories in seven games.
    4. 2021 JuCo Recruiting Rules

      It's regular season wins only, so the ODU win doesn't factor in.
    5. 2021 JuCo Recruiting Rules

      Points, Scholarships, and Visits by School And in CSV format
    6. Saturday Morning Kansas 23, West Virginia 16 (OT) Nine Tenths of the Law: ...is possession, and both defenses were eager to uphold the law. West Virginia pressured Christian Graham into an interception and a lost fumble; Aaron Pagan in particular was a permanent resident in Kansas's backfield with 2 sacks and 2 additional tackles for loss. But Kansas's secondary made up the difference with interceptions by Bradley Spurlock and Javier Blount. The tiebreaker was Noah Urlacher's sack of Bobby Davies in the endzone for a safety that ended up proving crucial for Kansas in regulation. Working Overtime: This was the third overtime game in the Big XII this season and the second to involve Kansas. The Jayhawks got the ball first, lost two yards on a screen pass to open the drive, and then struck paydirt with Alexander Durant's 27-yard touchdown run to put them up 23-16. West Virginia, for their part, ran for no gain on first down before back-to-back incompletions set up 4th and 10. Bobby Davies dropped back, looked for Stephen Hager, and could only watch as Javier Blount got a hand on it to end the ballgame. Kansas improves to 4-2 all-time in overtime games, and West Virginia falls to 3-5. Opportunities Missed: West Virginia's now lost three straight one-possession games, and there will be multiple points in the film study that the staff and players will look on with regret. The two turnovers and the safety will be among them, of course. Felipe Munoz's missed 48-yarder at the end of regulation will sting, but it's still a 48-yard attempt for a college kicker. Two dropped passes will hurt. Going 3 of 12 on third down and 0 of 2 on fourth down will hurt. This was a winnable game and Kansas gave them opportunities; it just didn't all come together for the Mountaineers. Waterman Injured: Kansas offensive tackle Benjamin Waterman had to be helped off the field late in the fourth quarter and did not return to the game. However, the program has indicated that the ankle sprain was minor and that Waterman will be available next week against Oklahoma State. Next up: Both teams now square off against the Big XII title game favorites. West Virginia falls to 1-5 and now goes on the road to face TCU; 3-3 Kansas goes to Stillwater to take on Oklahoma State. Both will have to step up over this effort to have a shot at the upset. Saturday Afternoon Baylor 38, Kansas State 24 The Second Quarter: If you were watching this game on TV and had to make a run for more wings or chips during the second quarter, and if your TV was aligned in such a way that the scoreboard was hidden, and if you couldn't hear the commentators and chose not to check your phone because you're not one of those millennials who need to be connected to technology all the time...where was I? Oh right, you would have thought that this was a dominant Kansas State win. The Wildcats looked sharp in the second half in outscoring Baylor 21-3. But given that it occurred after Baylor had outscored Kansas State 28-0 in the second, it was a moot point. It was the 11th time a Big XII team scored 28 points in a quarter, and the first time since Baylor did so against West Virginia last year. (Note: Baylor lost that game.) Caleb Olmsted's touchdown pass to Marquise Rolle began the festivities. On the third play of Kansas State's drive, Garrett Powers snatched a pass over the middle to set up another Olmsted touchdown pass four plays later. Alex Whitney stripped Rahim Murrell on the first play of the next drive to set up another Olmsted touchdown--three in less than 5 minutes. And Miles Street got his due later on with a 36-yard score that put the Bears up 35-3 heading into the half. Sack Attack: Both teams had little to no trouble getting into the backfield. Matthew Mayfield, Jonah Caruso, and Javier Tovar each dragged down Caleb Olmsted; Garrett Powers and Andrew Newton each brought down Rahim Murrell with Alex Whitney getting credit for a strip-sack and fumble recovery. The difference was how each quarterback responded to the pressure. Murrell isn't the steadiest of quarterbacks with a clean pocket, and he finished the day with a 57.1% completion percentage and a pair of turnovers. Olmsted's more mobile in the pocket and had his best game as a Baylor student as a result: 21-31 passing for a career-high 285 yards, 3 touchdowns, and zero turnovers. War Powers Resolution: Garrett Powers was the best player on the Baylor defense, and he made a bit of history on the side with his 6 tackles, 1.0 sack, and 1 interception to win Big XII Defensive Player of the Week. Out of the 3,584 statsheet appearances made by a Big XII player, just 17 have included a sack and an interception in the same game--Powers became the second Baylor player to hit that mark after Julian Neville last year. In only seven of those games did the player in question also record 6 tackles or more, and Powers was the first one to do so. May I remind you that this man is a freshman? Next up: Baylor goes on bye this week before playing 5 of their final 6 games on the road. Kansas is first on that docket, followed by Oklahoma and Texas Tech before their next bye. At 4-2, they can lock up a bowl berth during that stretch. Kansas State is in the middle of their own three-game road swing, and they'll also have Texas Tech and Oklahoma before their own next bye. At 2-4 with TCU still on the schedule, they need to win at least one of those games in order to stay in the bowl hunt. Saturday Evening Oklahoma 33, #21 Texas 21 Four Drives: The Sooners scored on each of their first four drives to open the game, naturally allowing them to seize the early lead. Eric Pope put them up 7-0 with a rollout touchdown pass to Lucas Dykes, but Texas's defense was able to at least limit the Sooners to three points the next three times down. That was a positive result for the Sooners the first time on Louis Dwyer's 46-yarder, but their next two drives stalled out in the red zone and forced Dwyer to come on. Oklahoma scored on four drives in one quarter, but only built a 9-point lead. Second Half Surge: And even though Texas rallied to cut the deficit to 16-14 at the half, Oklahoma took to the ground after the break to bury Texas. Maurice White finished the game with 139 yards and a pair of second-half touchdowns on 28 carries, Pope added 55 yards on 8 carries, and Samir Sneed (8 tackles, 1 TFL) was the only member of Texas's stacked front seven that seemed willing to put his body on the line to make a play on defense. After a scoreless second quarter, the Sooners raced to 17 second-half points to run away with this game. In the first game of the HAFFnHAFF era, the Sooners made it look easy. Lowering the Boom: We'd be remiss if we didn't take a look at how thoroughly the Oklahoma defense controlled this game. They held Simeon Wells to just 98 yards (and a touchdown) on 23 carries, and Kyler Tackett was a nonfactor on the ground. They also held Tackett to a season-low 188 yards on season-low 60% passing. He tossed a pair of touchdown passes, but he also took a sack, threw an interception to Jeremy Green, and should've had another one picked on a throw that ventured too close to Julian Foster. Oklahoma dominated on offense, dominated on defense, dominated on special teams--this was a three-phase win. The River Flows to Norman: The Red River Shootout isn't just a series that ebbs and flows as quickly as the tide. It shifts, often suddenly and often seismically. There has only been one game in this rivalry that wasn't part of a three-game winning streak one way or the other, and that was the very first one. This is the third straight Sooner win in the series, and it brings their overall record against Texas to 6-4. These last two games must be particularly frustrating to the Longhorns, who were favored both times. They'll be hearing "Boomer Sooner" in their sleep until they snap the streak. Next up: Both teams emerge from this game with identical 4-2 records. Texas slides in their bid to make it back to the Big XII title game for the first time since 2017, losing co-favorite status to surging Oklahoma State. However, they'll have a chance to get back on track at Iowa State next week. Oklahoma, meanwhile, gets a bye before hosting Kansas State. #22 Oklahoma State 31, USC 9 Points of Attack: Oklahoma State's offense had absolutely no trouble moving the ball at will against an overworked USC defense. They hit the Trojans with just about everything in the book: Jeremy Bridges made catch after catch to keep the chains moving, Jay Dunn made the USC secondary his second home, Ian Baldwin found just about every receiver he could en route to a 309-yard and two-touchdown game, and Barack Holmes kept the whole operation honest with 128 yards and a pair of scores on the ground. There isn't really a way to lock down this offense at every point of attack unless your defense is TCU this year or Penn State in years prior. But if the Cowboys aren't slowed down in at least one area, then the game's going to trend their way in a hurry. Shook Ones, Part II: Bernard Shook led the way for the Trojan offense, but an aggressive and successful Oklahoma State defense ensured that it was all for naught. Shook crossed the century mark on 23 carries, but neither he nor any of his teammates were able to find paydirt. Sam Goldberg as his partner in the backfield was...not good. He was 11-20 for 140 yards and two interceptions and only had one run of significance. It's not a position Goldberg is supposed to be in, and he most likely won't be needed to start again. But as adversity continues to strike like Greeks bearing gifts, the Trojans have played more like shook ones than crooks, son. Big-Play Defense: Credit to the Cowboy defense for their shutdown effort, though. They had to actually make the big plays, after all. Brian Suarez led the way with 6 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and a sack. Eduardo Gallardo also had a sack with his three tackles. In the passing game, Antonio Askew had an interception and a pass breakup to go with Sebastian Byrd's own interception. Slowing a team down on a play-to-play basis is one thing, but Oklahoma State's defense refused to either bend or break in a dominant effort. Next up: The Cowboys improve to 5-1, and they're one of the two clubhouse leaders for the Big XII title game (after TCU, of course). Most teams don't score like them, and most teams who score like them don't defend like them. They'll stay home and host Kansas next before a bye in advance of their most critical stretch of the season. Byes: Iowa State (1-5), #2 TCU (6-0), Texas Tech (4-2)
    7. Welcome to the Chicago Tribune's By the Numbers, a statistically minded look at the contenders and pretenders of the 2021 NFL season. We're approximately at mid-season, with the trade deadline coming up and seven or eight games in the book for all 32 teams. The playoff picture is starting to take shape, but in a lot of places it's awful jumbled--so we'll take a look at the numbers and try to make sense of it. We'll go division-by-division and team-by-team to tell you what has been, what is, and what might be. Not sure yet whether this will be a recurring series--if it is, it will likely only be occasional as opposed to weekly (and it probably won't be as long as this one). Quick note: Strength of played schedule excludes games involving the team in question. Strength of remaining schedule does not--that is, if you've already played 1 of 2 games against a division opponent, that game will be counted in strength of remaining schedule. This is just due to the fact that the former adjustment is easier to put in a spreadsheet than the latter. AFC East 1. Miami Dolphins (8-0) Scoring stats: 30.25 PF/game (2nd), 15.5 PA/game (1st), +14.75 PD/game (1st) Strength of played schedule: 25-28 (.472, 21st-hardest) Strength of remaining schedule: 26-31 (.456, 25th-hardest) Projected record: 14.0-2.0 Projected finish: 1st in AFC East, #1 seed in the AFC playoffs If you didn't get the memo, the Dolphins are good. Like, really good. Like, Super Bowl favorite good. Five of their eight wins have been by multiple possessions, and it hasn't really mattered how good their opponent is. They shot down the Jets and sailed past the Raiders, and that's just the past two weeks. With a 2.5-game lead on the rest of the conference and no sign of slowing, the Dolphins are favored to get the #1 seed in the AFC and earn their first playoff appearance since 2018. If Miami gets through the Rams without a blemish, they will be at a point where the conversation should shift to whether 16-0 is a possibility. As of now, they have a 9.9% chance of doing so; winning up to that point would get them into about the 25% range. Even if they don't go 16-0, this is the best team Miami's had since their two Super Bowl wins. Enjoy this, Miami fans. 2. New York Jets (5-2) Scoring stats: 29.71 PF/game (4th), 27.14 PA/game (25th), +2.57 PD/game (10th) Strength of played schedule: 25-22 (.532, 13th) Strength of remaining schedule: 32-34 (.485, 19th) Projected record: 10.4-5.6 Projected finish: 2nd in AFC East, #6 seed in the AFC playoffs We're coming up on six years since the New York Jets watched the playoffs on TV rather than playing in them. And more likely than not, that's not going to change this year...but for the first time in a while, there's room for doubt. The Jets started 5-0, but four of those wins came by one possession against three teams they probably should have beaten anyway (plus Jacksonville). They then were routed in the division showdown against the Dolphins before being upset at home by the Broncos in overtime. What's worrying is their defense: they're in the bottom quartile of the league, and they've given up 102 points in their last three games. As long as they can still throw points on the board, though, they'll be a playoff contender. 3. New England Patriots (4-4) Scoring stats: 27.0 PF/game (9th), 24.25 PA/game (16th), +2.75 PD/game (9th) Strength of played schedule: 27-22 (.551, 9th) Strength of remaining schedule: 29-31 (.483, 21st) Projected record: 8.0-8.0 Projected finish: 3rd in AFC East, miss playoffs, #17 overall pick unlikely to convey to Baltimore; also own Miami's projected #25-32 overall first-round pick The Pats are a bit of a strange team. Their point differential pegs them as a slightly better-than-.500 team, and the back half of their schedule shouldn't be quite as hard as the front half. But the projection still calls it a wash and expects them to essentially repeat their 4-4 first half in the second half. I think what's hidden is that there's a wide range for what New England is capable of. Maybe they pull an upset over the Jets in defense-optional mode and Old Man Reggie takes revenge against the Ravens to sneak them up to a playoff bid at 10-6. Maybe they lay a dud against San Francisco or Cleveland (either of whom could resurge down the stretch) and finish 6-10 to earn a top-10 pick. ...or maybe they do neither and finish a boring 8-8. They'll also have Miami's pick next year, so slipping down in the first round wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. Maybe the next J.C. Weldon will fall to them. 4. Buffalo Bills (2-5) Scoring stats: 21.1 PF/game (24th), 27.0 PA/game (23rd), -5.86 PD/game (27th) Strength of played schedule: 25-21 (.543, 10th) Strength of remaining schedule: 31-36 (.463, 24th) Projected record: 6.3-9.7 Projected finish: 4th in AFC East, miss playoffs, #10 overall pick plus Houston's projected #9 overall pick The Bills are currently projected in a crowd of teams that are all projected between 6.0 and 6.5 wins. Despite the fact that they aren't strong on either side of the ball, a finish anywhere from 4-5 to 6-3 is certainly possible because they play a smorgasbord of beatable opponents: the entire AFC North, the under-new-management Cardinals, the hapless Chargers, and the mercurial Patriots. If they sell off any assets between now and the trade deadline, it'll serve the secondary purpose of gaining the edge over other teams they're competing with for draft position. Or maybe the primary purpose. AFC North 1. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-4) Scoring stats: 22.43 PF/game (22nd), 24.14 PA/game (15th), -1.71 PD/game (19th) Strength of played schedule: 15-30 (.333, 31st) Strength of remaining schedule: 35-33 (.515, 13th) Projected record: 7.0-9.0 Projected finish: 2nd in AFC North, miss playoffs, #14 overall pick In their first seven games, the Steelers have played one team with a record above .500 (the Raiders) and one team with a .500 record (the Patriots). They haven't won a game outside the AFC North. They've provided the struggling Bills, Pats, and Lions with a win apiece. They have a sub-.500 record and a negative point differential...and they lead the division. I don't know if that's the good news or the bad news. But what's unambiguously bad news is that their schedule reverts to the mean going forward. Their next five games include 5-2 Chicago, 2-5 Cincinnati, 8-0 Miami, 7-0 Green Bay, and the 5-2 Jets. The Colts and Vikings follow, and they're capable of catching lightning in a bottle and playing better than their 2-6 record. Bottom line: the Steelers have to win tough games to stay in the division race, and that's not necessarily going to be true for everyone else in the North. 2. Baltimore Ravens (3-5) Scoring stats: 24.25 PF/game (17th), 22.63 PA/game (13th), +1.63 PD/game (13th) Strength of played schedule: 27-25 (.519, 15th) Strength of remaining schedule: 24-34 (.414, 29th) Projected record: 7.5-8.5 Projected finish: 1st in AFC North, #4 seed in the AFC playoffs, New England's projected #17 overall pick unlikely to convey The Ravens are the opposite of the Steelers. They're a game back in the loss column, but they've largely survived the hardest part of their schedule with a record that will let them compete for the division. The Bears and Jaguars are the only teams above .500 on the remainder of their schedule, but New England and Pittsburgh could be toss-up games as well. Detroit is also a wild card. They're probably going to need 8 wins to take the division, if not 9. It's going to be hard for them to get more than that, though they've been competitive in every single game other than the season-opening drubbing by Miami. The Ravens are currently the division favorite because of their potential and their schedule, but the division is so volatile that this could change again next week. 3. Cincinnati Bengals (2-5) Scoring stats: 25.71 PF/game (14th), 31.71 PA/game (31st), -6.00 PD/game (28th) Strength of played schedule: 13-33 (.283, 32nd) Strength of remaining schedule: 36-31 (.537, 8th) Projected record: 4.7-11.3 Projected finish: 4th in AFC North, miss playoffs, #3 overall pick The Bengals have played the worst schedule in the league so far and emerged with a 2-5 record from it. They upset the Bears, they outpaced the Chargers, and...that's it. The only other .500 team they played was New England, who waxed them. Most recently, they made Brad Davis and Keith Dunn look like an elite backfield. They can score, but they can't score enough to keep pace with a defense that's giving up 31.7 points per game to (again) the worst schedule in the league. The good news is that they'll be in great position to draft a premier defensive talent at the top of the draft. 4. Cleveland Browns (1-7) Scoring stats: 20.25 PF/game (26th), 25.13 PA/game (18th), -4.88 PD/game (24th) Strength of played schedule: 31-19 (.620, 3rd) Strength of remaining schedule: 21-38 (.356, 32nd) Projected record: 5.2-10.8 Projected finish: 3rd in AFC North, miss playoffs, #4 overall pick In week 1, the Browns beat the Bengals. Since then, they haven't beaten anybody--but their opponents have included six projected playoff teams and the Steelers. They've lost four games by 3 or fewer points. And going forward, the 4-4 Patriots are the only team on their remaining schedule with a .500 or better record. If there's a team that's a candidate for a second-half turnaround, it's the Browns--the problem is that any turnaround starts from a 1-7 position. If they were to go an unlikely 6-2 with wins over the Bills, Texans, Vikings, Ravens, Steelers, and Bengals, then they probably still finish a game short of the division at 7-9. A perfect run would give them a shot at the playoffs, and they play good enough defense to do it. But unless they can start to score more, we're talking about the difference between a top-5 pick and a top-10 pick. AFC South 1. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-2) Scoring stats: 30.14 PF/game (3rd), 20.71 PA/game (7th), +9.43 PD/game (7th) Strength of played schedule: 21-23 (.477, 20th) Strength of remaining schedule: 36-33 (.522, 11th) Projected record: 10.0-6.0 Projected finish: 1st in AFC South, #3 seed in the AFC playoffs What kind of CAR runs the quickest? A Jaguar, of course. The trio of Christian Barkley, Asante Sowell, and Raheem Robinson pace the third highest scoring offense in the league, and they've established the early pole position for what is currently the most important division race in the AFC. (The second place finisher is not a projected playoff team, so as of now it's win the division or go home in the South.) The biggest thorn in Jacksonville's side right now is their home loss to Tennessee on Thursday night of week 2. They followed that up with a Sunday night loss to the Jets. Other than that, they've taken care of business--including a potentially valuable win over fellow AFC contender Kansas City. Jacksonville's performance also holds up when adjusting for opponent performance moreso than any AFC team not named Miami or Las Vegas. Their schedule gets tougher down the stretch with 7 potential playoff contenders in their final 9 games. They don't have to win them all; they just have to win enough of them. 2. Tennessee Titans (5-3) Scoring stats: 29.50 PF/game (6th), 25.75 PA/game (21st), +3.75 PD/game (8th) Strength of played schedule: 23-27 (.460, 22nd) Strength of remaining schedule: 29-30 (.492, 17th) Projected record: 9.6-6.4 Projected finish: 2nd in AFC South, miss playoffs, #20 overall pick If the Titans miss the playoffs by a game, their baffling 35-20 week 3 loss to the Bills will loom large. They beat the Jaguars on the road. They've otherwise taken care of business against non-contenders, though they were gored by the Raiders and edged by the Panthers. With Wheelin' Dealin' Wheeler at the helm and a stable of wide receivers that can run wild on anybody in the league, Tennessee is capable of scoring--but they're not unstoppable, and their defense is prone to lapses. Their next four games are against teams that are .500 or better--including the home game against the Jaguars. That's likely going to be their make-or-break stretch. 3. Houston Texans (3-4) Scoring stats: 26.29 PF/game (11th), 30.86 PA/game (30th), -4.57 PD/game (23rd) Strength of played schedule: 21-26 (.447, 24th) Strength of remaining schedule: 35-32 (.522, 9th) Projected record: 6.3-9.7 Projected finish: 3rd in AFC South, miss playoffs, #9 overall pick conveyed to Buffalo The Texans have given up 94 points in their last two games, which is less than ideal. It could be worse, because one of those games was a 45-42 win over Indianapolis (hold that thought). But the defense is getting rung like a bell and things are only going to get worse with Frederick Fain out for the rest of the season. This is a very high-scoring, low-defense division with all four teams in the top 12 in over/under per game. But Houston's surprisingly solid offense and usually absent defense make them the 2nd most shootout-prone team in the whole NFL. Again, it could be worse. They'll sell a lot of tickets that way, fans will come to watch Leshoure row, and they won't have to think about the fact that Buffalo owns their next first-rounder too. 4. Indianapolis Colts (2-6) Scoring stats: 24.5 PF/game (16th), 29.88 PA/game (29th), -5.38 PD/game (25th) Strength of played schedule: 33-19 (.635, 2nd) Strength of remaining schedule: 29-29 (.500, 14th) Projected record: 6.1-9.9 Projected finish: 4th in AFC South, miss playoffs, #8 overall pick conveyed to LA Chargers Much has been made of the Colts' runningback situation, and their lack of 1st- or 2nd-round pick will make it tough to address that problem next season. While their offense ranks ahead of their defense by a lot, it's fair to place that kind of emphasis on the run game because otherwise they have the tools for a top-5 offense. They have one of the best regular-season quarterbacks in the league and a ridiculously talented set of receivers. But they still score at an average rate, and they don't hold the ball long enough to give their defense time to rest. Even with a run game, they won't win if they're allowing 30 points a game. They should get some much-needed regression to the mean with their second-half schedule, but they would need a perfect second half (and some luck) to even think about the playoffs. They're in talks to sell assets (including trading Jeremy Bell), so the front office seems to see the writing on the wall already. AFC West T-1. Kansas City Chiefs (5-2) Scoring stats: 23.29 PF/game (20th), 21.71 PA/game (10th), +1.57 PD/game (14th) Strength of played schedule: 25-20 (.556, 8th) Strength of remaining schedule: 26-41 (.388, 31st) Projected record: 10.6-5.4 Projected finish: 2nd in AFC West, #5 seed in the AFC playoffs Run the dang ball, and good things will happen. The Chiefs' two-headed bull-headed attack has worked wonders with the departure of Thomas Wheeler. Perhaps part of its success is actually just the fact that it keeps the opposing offense off the field considering that the Chiefs are still just 20th in scoring, but it's pretty frickin' hard to argue with wins over the Raiders and the Eagles. The Raiders win will be particularly valuable if things come down to a division tiebreaker; however, the loss to the Jaguars could bite them in a wild card tiebreaker scenario. Truly the best thing the Chiefs have going for them (other than being a solid team) is that their remaining schedule is favorable. They have as many games remaining against teams above .500 as they have games remaining against the Chargers (2). A win over the Titans would put them in enviable playoff position; a loss wouldn't necessarily eliminate them. T-1. Las Vegas Raiders (5-2) Scoring stats: 32.0 PF/game (1st), 19.29 PA/game (6th), +12.71 PD/game (2nd) Strength of played schedule: 25-21 (.543, 10th) Strength of remaining schedule: 32-33 (.492, 16th) Projected record: 11.4-4.6 Projected finish: 1st in AFC West, #2 seed in the AFC playoffs The Raiders possess the point differential of a team that should be 6-1 or 7-0; instead, they're on the short end of the tiebreaker with the Chiefs. Their two losses have been reasonable: a 3-point defeat to the Chiefs, and a 7-point loss to the white-hot Dolphins. They have one other competitive game on their résumé, a 30-24 win over the Colts. Other than that? They crushed the Chargers and Steelers, they smothered the Broncos, and they opted not to remember the Titans. This team has that extra gear that a contender needs, but their baseline is so high that they don't usually have to rely on it. Barring health problems, expect the Raiders to kick it up in the second half; it would be surprising (though not impossible) for them to earn anything less than a first-round bye. 3. Denver Broncos (4-4) Scoring stats: 19.63 PF/game (27th), 21.0 PA/game (8th), -1.38 PD/game (18th) Strength of played schedule: 21-29 (.420...I see what you did there, Denver) Strength of remaining schedule: 33-25 (.569, 4th) Projected record: 7.9-8.1 Projected finish: 3rd in AFC West, miss playoffs, #15 overall pick The Broncos have had a solid couple of weeks, dismissing the Chargers in week 7 before going on the road to stun the Jets in overtime in the early-going this past Sunday. If they're finding their offensive footing with 69 points in two weeks (nice), this is a really good sign for them...for next year. They just don't have a route to the playoffs at this point, even at a respectable 4-4. It's likely going to take 10 or 11 wins to get a wild card spot, and the Broncos have one of the toughest slates remaining. They have the Giants and Chargers, yes. Apart from those two, their other six remaining opponents all have winning records. That includes the Eagles, Jaguars, and Raiders once each and the Chiefs twice. And in order to truly turn up the heat down the stretch, they'll need to keep up that level of offense against opponents that aren't 32nd and 25th in scoring defense like the Chargers and Jets are. Does Todd Jennings have it in him? 4. Los Angeles Chargers (0-7) Scoring stats: 15.71 PF/game (31st), 35.43 PA/game (32nd), -19.71 PD/game (T-31st) Strength of played schedule: 18-26 (.409, 28th) Strength of remaining schedule: 37-29 (.561, 5th) Projected record: 1.2-14.8 Projected finish: 4th in AFC West, miss playoffs, #1 overall pick plus the Colts' projected #8 overall pick The Chargers are the last winless team in the NFL and currently riding a 22-game losing streak. There's about a 29% chance that they finish the season without breaking that streak. Their best chance is probably their home game against Buffalo week 12; maybe they get lucky and the Eagles or Chiefs rest starters at the end of the season. Their only competitive games so far have been against the Bengals and Giants. They still have the Raiders again, the Chiefs twice, the Eagles, and the Cowboys. They should begin considering who they want with the #1 overall pick. Projected AFC playoffs: #3 Jacksonville Jaguars over #6 New York Jets #5 Kansas City Chiefs over #4 Baltimore Ravens #1 Miami Dolphins over #5 Kansas City Chiefs #2 Las Vegas Raiders over #3 Jacksonville Jaguars #1 Miami Dolphins over #2 Las Vegas Raiders ************************************************************************************************************************************ NFC East 1. Philadelphia Eagles (7-1) Scoring stats: 29.63 PF/game (5th), 18.13 PA/game (5th), +11.5 PD/game (3rd) Strength of played schedule: 25-24 (.510, 17th) Strength of remaining schedule: 25-33 (.431, 28th) Projected record: 12.5-3.5 Projected finish: 1st in NFC East, #2 seed in the NFC playoffs By adjusted margin of victory, the Eagles are the second-best team in their own division. Part of that is owed to closer-than-expected wins against struggling Detroit and San Francisco in the past two weeks. We'll get into why Dallas is so highly rated in their own section, but let's not sleep on Philly. They're certainly one of the two best teams in the NFC, and only the Packers' undefeated record keeps the Eagles from being a projected 1-seed. They have an early 2.5-game lead in the division (2 games in the loss column), and the NFC isn't particularly deep this year. The Eagles are playing well on both ends of the field, one of 5 teams in the entire league to rank in the top 10 in scoring offense and scoring defense. They're a playoff team, and they're probably getting a bye. 2. Dallas Cowboys (4-3) Scoring stats: 26.14 PF/game (12th), 15.71 PA/game (2nd), +10.43 PD/game (5th) Strength of played schedule: 29-15 (.659, 1st) Strength of remaining schedule: 33-33 (.500, 14th) Projected record: 10.5-5.5 Projected finish: 2nd in NFC East, #5 seed in the NFC playoffs When the Cowboys win, they're dominant. They held the Giants to 3 points, Washington to 9, and both Denver and Kansas City to 6. Two of their three losses have come by one possession, and all three have come to elite teams. So adjusted margin of victory is quite kind to the Cowboys, who are rated as the 2nd-best team by that metric when their record doesn't back that up. Essentially, how much you want to believe in the Cowboys depends entirely on how much weight you put on their schedule and how much weight you put on their potential. The back half of their schedule isn't easy by any means--their next five opponents are all over .500, though none of their final four games are. There aren't that many teams they need to outpace; if they go 3-1 against the NFC South, sweep the Chargers and Giants, and find another win or two anywhere else on the schedule, they should be in the playoffs. 3. Washington Football Club (3-4) Scoring stats: 24.14 PF/game (18th), 22.29 PA/game (12th), +1.86 PD/game (12th) Strength of played schedule: 25-21 (.543, 10th) Strength of remaining schedule: 31-34 (.477, 22nd) Projected record: 7.9-8.1 Projected finish: 3rd in NFC East, miss playoffs, #16 overall pick Washington probably isn't a playoff team this year, but that's okay. There were exactly two things that mattered this season: Tanner Bowman's development, and the team's ability to build around him. They're showing positive signs on both fronts. Bowman's been solid as a rookie, and their offense has improved by 8.7 points per game. The defense has quietly snuck into average (or maybe slightly above-average) territory. They'll want to grab a signature win to build on, but they've got the makings of a solid future in the nation's capital. Watch this space next year. 4. New York Giants (1-6) Scoring stats: 9.43 PF/game (32nd), 29.14 PA/game (28th), -19.71 PD/game (T-31st) Strength of played schedule: 19-25 (.432, 25th) Strength of remaining schedule: 42-25 (.627, 2nd) Projected record: 2.2-13.8 Projected finish: 4th in NFC East, miss playoffs, #2 overall pick They won a game. In scoring a season-high 19 points (which is a horrifying phrase to write) despite David Brezina's 10 of 21 effort for 75 yards and 2 interceptions, the Giants pushed past the Chargers to earn their first win of the season. They might win another one, though it's actually harder to pick a most winnable game for the Giants than it is for the Chargers. Washington is the only remaining sub-.500 team they play. The real drama will come down to two questions: will the Giants average a double-digit point total this season, and will they find a way to sneak back ahead of the Chargers for the #1 overall pick? NFC North 1. Green Bay Packers (7-0) Scoring stats: 25.71 PF/game (14th), 15.71 PA/game (2nd), +10.0 PD/game (6th) Strength of played schedule: 20-27 (.426, 26th) Strength of remaining schedule: 29-35 (.453, 26th) Projected record: 13.3-2.7 Projected finish: 1st in NFC North, #1 seed in the NFC playoffs Green Bay is one of three teams that are clearly above the NFC pa--er, above the NFC fray. It's their defense that's been leading the way, spearheaded by Marquise Reed and Julio Barnes in the secondary. The median team in the NFL gives up about 24.4 points per game; the Packers have held every single opponent they've played below that mark. (In fairness, three of them scored 23 or 24 points. But that's the most of anybody.) What's scary is that it's hard to say whether the Packers are playing at their full potential. Dan Nomellini's been overshadowed, and Jaz Durant has tailed off. But they're winning their games, they've beaten the good teams they've played, they've beaten the bad teams they've played, and their schedule favors them the rest of the way. Expect Green Bay to get a top-3 seed, if not a bye. 2. Chicago Bears (5-2) Scoring stats: 23.0 PF/game (21st), 22.86 PA/game (14th), +0.14 PD/game (17th) Strength of played schedule: 16-29 (.356, 30th) Strength of remaining schedule; 31-34 (.477, 22nd) Projected record: 9.4-6.6 Projected finish: 2nd in NFC North, #6 seed in the NFC playoffs Like the Titans, the Bears will have one game that they look upon with regret if they miss the playoffs by a game: a defense that's normally been solid this year gave up 34 points to the Bengals for one of Chicago's two losses. The Bears are 5-2 in large part because of several close wins, a sweep of the Vikings, and a 28-14 rout of the Rams on the road--but we're still talking about a team that struggles to block, struggles in the backfield, and relies almost entirely on receiving and defense. The good news for the Bears is that they don't need to be perfect, and they might not even need to be that good depending on how the NFC South and the Dallas Cowboys shake out. Again, the NFC's not that deep this year. A 10-win season in 2018 left them short; 10 wins this year could get them in. Taking a game from the Packers would also go a long way, though they'll also need to beat back the Lions at least once to prevent any pursuit from behind. This may well be Norris Brooksheer's last opportunity to make the playoffs as a Bear, and exceeding last year's win total in the first half of the season is a good start. 3. Detroit Lions (2-5) Scoring stats: 15.86 PF/game (30th), 21.43 PA/game (9th), -5.57 PD/game (26th) Strength of played schedule: 25-19 (.568, 7th) Strength of remaining schedule: 30-37 (.448, 27th) Projected record: 6.4-9.6 Projected finish: 3rd in NFC North, miss playoffs, #12 overall pick Like the Colts, the Lions' 4-year playoff streak is in serious jeopardy after an ice-cold start. The difference is that the cavalry is coming for Detroit in a way that it couldn't for Indianapolis. Keyshawn Thompson missed time with a foot fracture, but he's back now. Rob LeCount has been out with a wrist fracture, but he's reportedly medically cleared to play and questionable for Sunday's game against Cleveland. Blake Shell has been a serviceable stopgap, but the Lions' offense simply doesn't have a big-time playmaker without LeCount. With him, their offense moves up to the ranks of the average. That said, average offense and great defense can make a playoff team, and the Lions' defense has been unwavering. This is a team that will be dangerous from here to the end of the season. A 2-5 start is probably too much of a hole to dig out of and they essentially can't afford a loss, but it's not like there's an unwinnable game on their schedule. 4. Minnesota Vikings (2-6) Scoring stats: 19.5 PF/game (28th), 27.75 PA/game (27th), -8.25 PD/game (30th) Strength of played schedule: 29-21 (.580, 6th) Strength of remaining schedule: 23-35 (.397, 30th) Projected record: 5.2-10.8 Projected finish: 4th in NFC North, miss playoffs, #6 overall pick The Vikings seem to have taken all the misfortunes of the NFC North and rolled them into one package: their offense wasn't loaded with playmakers in the first place. Both sides of the ball are dealing with serious injury issues. They're not scoring, they're not defending, and they're not winning. Except when they're playing the Bengals or the Cardinals, apparently. While the first half was the tougher half of their schedule, being down six players for the season is going to make it difficult to actually do anything about the cakelike second half. They'll get Brian Vardell back in the next few weeks, but what good will that do? Prized rookie Luke Cobb is done for the year, so there's no connection to establish between him and Vardell. There's not much to play for other than pride. That might be enough. NFC South T-1. New Orleans Saints (5-3) Scoring stats: 27.0 PF/game (9th), 25.63 PA/game (20th), +1.38 PD/game (15th) Strength of played schedule: 27-24 (.529, 14th) Strength of remaining schedule: 29-30 (.492, 17th) Projected record: 9.1-6.9 Projected finish: 3rd in NFC South, miss playoffs, #18 overall pick The NFC South is by far the most competitive division in the league. Need evidence other than the fact that every team is within 1.5 games of the top? How about the fact that the Saints are projected to be within 0.2 wins of the division lead...which is still only the third-best projection in the division. Despite injuries to their receivers, the Devereaux and Jenkins (and Jamaal Brown-Sanderson) Show is continuing to light up scoreboards leaguewide. And more importantly, they're playing a modicum of defense! Sure, it's league-average defense at best, but that's the difference between them and the reeling Colts. The Saints are 2-2 in division play: a split with Atlanta, a home win over Carolina, and a home loss to Tampa Bay. Their next six games are all non-divisional, so they'll likely have a shot heading into the final two weeks of the season. Given that both those games are on the road, they will likely need to be 1 game up entering that stretch. T-1. Carolina Panthers (5-3) Scoring stats: 25.88 PF/game (13th), 25.25 PA/game (19th), +0.63 PD/game (16th) Strength of played schedule: 31-20 (.608, 5th) Strength of remaining schedule: 32-26 (.552, 6th) Projected record: 9.3-6.7 Projected finish: 1st in NFC South, #4 seed in the NFC playoffs It is tough to imagine a playoff without Christian Skaggs, who has led the Panthers to the postseason for each of the past 5 seasons now. It's the second-longest streak in the league, and it's in danger this season. The Panthers are a solid offensive team, but not the elite unit you'd expect with the Skaggs-Latta-Jackson-Henry quartet. When adjusting for opponent, the Panthers are also a pretty solid defensive unit, but not an elite one there either. They've had one of the toughest schedules, with a loss to Green Bay and division losses to both New Orleans and Tampa Bay--the latter two could come back to haunt them. They've also picked up wins over the Rams, Falcons, and Titans, so we're still not talking about a team of scrubs. The problem is that they've had a tough schedule already, and they have a tough remaining schedule. Jacksonville, Philadelphia, and Dallas are three of their next four games; they also have to play each division opponent again. They have been in discussions to move either Jacoby Seaverns or Mike Latta, which would be surprising for a team that needs all the help it can get to stay playoff-bound in a division that could be decided by something as simple as a shift of the wind on a field goal attempt in week 17. 3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-3) Scoring stats: 28.86 PF/game (7th), 26.71 PA/game (22nd), +2.14 PD/game (11th) Strength of played schedule: 29-18 (.617, 4th) Strength of remaining schedule: 32-34 (.485, 19th) Projected record: 9.1-6.9 Projected finish: 2nd in NFC South, miss playoffs, #19 overall pick Tampa Bay is only going to go as far as Taylor Heiden takes them. When they're good, they can be really good. They're scoring an extra 4.8 points per game above what their opponents typically allow. The only team so far to hold them to fewer than 27 points in a game was the Eagles, who we've already established are pretty dang good this year. They followed up that 10-point effort with a 38-13 demolition of the Falcons, and they have a 3-0 record in division play. But even with a similar scoring defense ranking to their divisional compatriots, they've been more vulnerable to outright defensive collapses. They let up 45 to Tennessee and 38 to Philadelphia as their opening act. They've given up 35 to Indianapolis and 28 to New Orleans in their two most recent games. Good offenses don't just score on them, they torch them. But their offense is every bit as explosive as the Saints' offense, so they'll have a shot. Their schedule is chock full of games that are winnable but certainly not easy. That's the story of the NFC South, though: whoever wins those toss-up games is going to win the division. 4. Atlanta Falcons (3-4) Scoring stats: 22.43 PF/game (22nd), 25.00 PA/game (17th), -2.57 PD/game (20th) Strength of played schedule: 23-22 (.511, 16th) Strength of remaining schedule: 35-32 (.522, 9th) Projected record: 6.6-9.4 Projected finish: 4th in NFC South, miss playoffs, #13 overall pick Whereas the rest of the division is offense-first, defense-second, the Falcons have historically inverted that trend in the NFC South. That looked like a promising formula during a 2-0 start to the season with wins over the Niners and Saints. Since then, the Falcons have lost 4 of 5. They've given up 27 points or more in all four losses and 31 or more in two--that spoiled what has otherwise been a surprisingly solid offensive effort over that stretch. Three of those losses have come in division play, erasing the advantage they earned from the Saints win. And their remaining schedule doesn't have a single easy win on it given that the Lions can defend and the Colts can attack. The Falcons haven't made the playoffs since their Super Bowl run, though they came tantalizingly close last year. This skid has seriously damaged their chances of getting back. They're not in this predicament because their schedule's been overly tough; it's because they haven't been able to win enough toss-up games. Turn that around, and they're still not totally out of the running yet. NFC West 1. Los Angeles Rams (5-2) Scoring stats: 28.57 PF/game (8th), 17.29 PA/game (4th), +11.29 PD/game (4th) Strength of played schedule: 22-23 (.489, 19th) Strength of remaining schedule: 36-30 (.545, 7th) Projected record: 10.8-5.2 Projected finish: 1st in NFC West, #3 seed in the NFC playoffs If you told me that I had to pick one team to make the playoffs upon penalty of being exiled to Missouri, I'd pick the Rams. They're far and away the best team in their division. They've already built a 2-game lead, and the only other team that is capable of challenging them is stuck in third. They've earned both halves of their 5-2 record. On the one hand, they demolished Detroit (less impressive in retrospect) and routed Dallas (which I expect to look better by season's end). On the other, they dropped back-to-back games early to Chicago and Carolina and they don't have any other particularly notable wins. What's crucial to understanding their season is the fact that they've played bad opponents and beaten them by a lot. That matters! Their schedule's going to get harder in the second half, with the entire AFC East plus the Packers on their schedule. Does it matter? Probably not. If they take care of business in their four remaining division games, they likely don't even need to win any of those. Win those four division games and beat 2-5 Buffalo, and that would mathematically be enough to clinch the division. They've been elite on both sides of the ball for years. Nobody else in their division is top-10 in scoring defense or top-16 in scoring offense. The Rams will win the division by a lot. 2. Arizona Cardinals (3-4) Scoring stats: 20.57 PF/game (25th), 27.29 PA/game (26th), -6.71 PD/game (29th) Strength of played schedule: 17-28 (.378, 29th) Strength of remaining schedule: 42-24 (.636, 1st) Projected record: 6.1-9.9 Projected finish: 3rd in NFC West, miss playoffs, #7 overall pick plus Seattle's projected #11 overall pick Things started off very promising in Arizona after back-to-back wins over Seattle and Detroit to start the season. The results since then have indicated that their early success was a mirage. Both of those opponents have struggled mightily, and the Redbirds have dropped four of five since then. That's a similar arc to the Falcons, except for the fact that the Cards have lost to teams that their ornithological relatives would have beaten. It's no shame that they were routed by Los Angeles. A loss to New England makes sense. Getting routed by Washington and Minnesota, though? That's...not ideal. With a new ownership group, the Cardinals are looking to elicit a cultur3 change--but it'll be hard to pull that off given that their schedule gets ridiculously hard in the second half. The Rams are the only team above .500 that they've played so far. They'll play the Dolphins, Bears, Rams, Jets, Saints, and Packers between now and season's end. It's a young team that wasn't expected to do well, and being at 3-4 right now would have been a positive sign at season's dawn. They also own Seattle's pick that's currently trending toward the upper half of the first round. But this is probably as good as it's going to get for them this year. 3. Seattle Seahawks (3-5) Scoring stats: 17.75 PF/game (29th), 22.25 PA/game (11th), -4.5 PD/game (22nd) Strength of played schedule: 25-24 (.510, 17th) Strength of remaining schedule: 30-28 (.517, 12th) Projected record: 6.4-9.6 Projected finish: 2nd in NFC West, miss playoffs, #11 overall pick conveyed to Arizona The good news for Seattle is that they've finally figured out how to score points. Their point total failed to eclipse the legal drinking age in any of their first six games of the season. On Monday night of week 7 in Los Angeles, though, they put up an impressive 30 points on the Rams. (They lost, but still.) They followed that up by scoring 28 against Buffalo, accompanied by the return of their stout defense. Their remaining schedule isn't so strong that they're out of the hunt yet. They don't need their offense to become elite; they just need to not be at the very bottom of the league. As of now, they have 13 touchdowns and 12 turnovers, they've given up 20 sacks, and their 17.3 yards per point is the third-worst in the NFL. They're averaging 4.6 yards per carry and 7.5 yards per pass attempt, so there's a spark there. They just have to commit fewer turnovers, take fewer sacks, and convert more third downs to keep drives alive. Their defense will take care of itself. It may be too late to make a charge for the division, but the wild card race is wide open because (all together now) the NFC is not that deep this year. 4. San Francisco 49ers (2-5) Scoring stats: 23.57 PF/game (19th), 27.0 PA/game (23rd), -3.43 PD/game (21st) Strength of played schedule: 20-24 (.455, 23rd) Strength of remaining schedule: 42-25 (.627, 2nd) Projected record: 5.2-10.8 Projected finish: 4th in NFC West, miss playoffs, #5 overall pick Oh, Niners. Poor Niners. I'm not sure they're really as bad as their 2-5 record suggests. Adjusting for opponent, they're literally the opposite of the Seahawks: they're scoring reasonably well, but not really playing much defense. They have spots of hope, such as their close loss to Philadelphia on Monday night. They also have moments that show just how much things can change in 2 years, such as their blowout loss to Arizona. Their wins so far are against Seattle and Buffalo, neither of whom are particularly fervent believers in scoring. And they ain't seen nothin' yet: their next six opponents are all .500 or better, including the undefeated Packers and Dolphins. And the Rams. And the Rams again. And the Jets. All of those teams can score, and all of them ought to score. It's not going to be a fun stretch, but it'll at least outline exactly where the former champs need to improve this offseason. They'll be back soon enough. Projected NFC Playoffs: #3 Los Angeles Rams over #6 Chicago Bears #5 Dallas Cowboys over #4 Carolina Panthers #5 Dallas Cowboys over #1 Green Bay Packers #2 Philadelphia Eagles over #5 Los Angeles Rams #5 Dallas Cowboys over #2 Philadelphia Eagles ************************************************************************************************************************************ Projected Super Bowl Miami Dolphins over Dallas Cowboys That does it for this edition of By the Numbers. Until next time, whenever that time may be!
    8. [2021] Week 8 Headlines

      SECOND EFFORT Bears fight back from early deficit, top Browns on fourth quarter field goal Ivory Hull contests a pass intended for Tai Miller in the fourth quarter
    9. ZackTyzwyz

      Congratulations, you are approved for Oklahoma State! We'll work on cleansing off that Maryland-ness that still afflicts you, but for now you know the drill: Post here to get your avatar Set your new depth chart here And request your Cowboys on the interface here Welcome to the nation's most exciting conference!
    10. I have to start on the homer side and nominate Gaines, Snead, and Paglieli. Gaines can take over a game, Snead's as steady as they get, and I think Pags adds a bit more verticality to the offense. WR and TE are the only truly above-average units on our offense, so it's these guys who carry us on that end. That team in cheeseland isn't bad at WR either. Nomellini's one of the best there is (maybe starting to fall off a bit but still up there), and he's still only the second-best on his team after McCain. Other people have already mentioned Indy, Miami, and the Rams, but they're obviously all up there as well. I think if you limit it to just duos, they don't come much better than Nomellini-McCain and Cobb-Weldon. Indianapolis has star power on star power at receiver to bail out their quarterback. And I'm pretty sure the Rams make star receivers on a conveyor belt. I think you also have to watch out for the Saints' group. They can't stay healthy, but they're getting some serious production from guys who are having to take a bigger role than expected. Jamaal Brown-Sanderson is low-key nice, and Sean Jenkins is Sean Jenkins. And Tennessee is getting the most out of their guys too--Kevin Williams has been one of the best in the league, and if Cody Hunter shakes his drop problem then that's going to be an elite duo too.
    11. If you are interested in the Oklahoma State opening, please PM me by 6:00 PM ET tonight (Monday April 16, 2018).
    12. Welcome back to this week's installment of the nation's most exciting conference. This week figures to be just a little bit more bananas than usual: three of the four games will see one team with a different coach on the sideline than the one who was there last week, and the fourth is part of a series that almost never has a quiet game. A desperate Kansas faces off against an even more desperate West Virginia, Kansas State looks to repeat history at Baylor, Oklahoma State looks to continue their dominance against sliding USC, and headlining it all is the centerpiece game of the Big XII calendar: the Red River Shootout. We're not here for predictable. So let's talk about the games. Saturday Morning Kansas (2-3) at West Virginia (1-4)* We return to action with two programs that are looking to avoid a complete tailspin in Morgantown. Kansas enters on a two-game skid, having lost a heartbreaker to TCU before taking a trouncing at the hands of Solomon McLaughlin and Texas Tech. At 29.6 points allowed per game, the Jayhawks are 100th in the country in scoring defense. (Hint: that's not good.) Exacerbating matters is the fact that their offense is increasingly being held up by chewing gum, duct tape, and a whole lot of Christian Graham. With their best wide receiver hobbled, their second-best done for the season, a starting tackle playing through a foot fracture, and their starting runningback still out, Kansas has had to rely on their redshirt sophomore quarterback and his stable of tight ends for almost everything. It's working out decently well on that side; Graham is completing 70.9% of his passes, he's maintaining a 167.1 passer rating, the offense is averaging a respectable 26.4 points per game. That might be enough against a West Virginia team that's been depleted by early declarations and graduations a year after their dominant run through the conference. Their 14.8 points scored per game is the lowest in the Big XII, and their 32.0 allowed per game is the highest. Bobby Davies is completing less than 50.5% of his passes and has thrown 2 scores to 6 picks. It doesn't help that Elias Langston has 3 drops and just 1 touchdown catch. It doesn't help that the Mountaineers have only four effective pass-catchers. And the lack of passing production means defenses can set their sights on Mohamed Mustafa, who is averaging just 3.9 yards per carry and 74.6 yards per game. He may find better luck against Kansas's run defense, where "tackle the ballcarrier" has been more of a suggestion than a strategy. But while West Virginia's looked better against Baylor and Oklahoma than it did against Oklahoma State and Missouri, I expect Kansas to be able to get the win. They should be able to get pressure in the Mountaineer backfield on defense, and they should be able to move the ball through the air fairly consistently. I expect a lot of points, and I expect Kansas to have the majority of them. Kansas 34, West Virginia 24 Saturday Afternoon Kansas State (2-3) at Baylor (3-2)* A year ago, down to the week, Kansas State fans stormed the field after the Wildcats upset Baylor 20-17, snapping a Big XII-record 18-game losing streak in conference play. This weekend, Kansas State will take to the road and hope to repeat the feat. There basically isn't a way to predict how this game will go. Baylor's offense has looked awesome at times, dropping 45 against California, 30 against Minnesota, 26 against West Virginia, and 28 against Texas. On the other hand, they also dropped a baffling 38-7 decision to Iowa State that remains the Cyclones' only win of the year. It's hard not to like what the duo of Caleb Olmsted and Miles Street can bring to the table when they're on, but the two freshmen haven't developed the necessary consistency yet. That said, Lamont Wilder has been as steady as it gets as the #1 target. He's 2nd in the Big XII with 438 receiving yards, tied for 3rd with 5 touchdowns, and his 34 receptions lead the conference--all of that comes without a single drop. Can Kansas State cover him? Maybe, their secondary's much more solid than it used to be. Can Kansas State cover him without ceding big yards to Street and Olmsted on the ground? Maybe, they've got a solid defensive line and Baylor's starting a true freshman at right tackle with Joshua Hyde done for the year. Can Kansas State succeed on defense without giving the game right back on offense? That's the bigger question. Rahim Murrell will continue to start at quarterback now that Swipet has the reins in Manhattan. The mercurial wonder is tied for third in the Big XII with 9 touchdown passes, but he's also tied for first in the conference with 6 interceptions. That seems like a poor matchup when Big XII career interceptions leader Kyle Cunningham is prowling around the defensive backfield, but Baylor also is capable of yielding way more than they ought to on paper. My brain says that Baylor has the better team. My gut says that this is a matchup Kansas State can win, just like last year. I normally like to go with my brain, but I'm going with my gut. Give me the 'Cats. Kansas State 30, Baylor 27 Saturday Evening Oklahoma (3-2) vs. #21 Texas (4-1) (AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX)* Welcome to the next edition of the Red River Shootout, this time with a twist. In the north corner are the Oklahoma Sooners, coming off of one of the biggest losses in school history and (more importantly) its first-ever coaching change with HAFFnHAFF taking over for ChicagoTed1. On the one hand, it's always difficult going from one coaching style to another midseason. On the other hand, it means that the Sooners' plan of attack is a total wild card. Last year, Oklahoma came into the Red River Shootout with an 0-5 record and a defense that was off to an historically bad start. But with a reshaped attack on that side of the ball, they pulled the upset and wound up winning 6 of their last 7 to close the season. With the 105th-highest scoring offense in the country at 18.6 points per game, it's now Oklahoma's offense that will hope to use this game as a springboard. They're still getting solid production out of Maurice White: his 4.93 yards per carry and 121.2 yards per game are well within the range of what he put up last year. They're not getting much from their passing game, with Eric Pope averaging just 14.4 attempts per contest. (He's thrown 2 touchdowns to 1 interception.) They have playmakers on playmakers who can stretch the field, and Sooner fans should wonder when and how they'll be unleashed. At the same time, Texas is more vulnerable up the middle than usual with starting defensive tackle Zion Gaines out for the foreseeable future. Fun fact, though: Texas's defense and Oklahoma's defense are actually tied with 21.2 points allowed per game. Texas did give up gobs to Houston, Virginia Tech, and Baylor--they also shut down New Mexico and Kansas State. Their defense is truly on or off; Oklahoma's is just mostly on. I think that's a recipe that bodes well for Oklahoma. They know that they're going to have to stop Kyler Tackett and Simeon Wells with all other threats being secondary; Texas has to prepare for every possibility. I think the element of surprise wins the day, and Oklahoma pulls the upset. Oklahoma 17, #21 Texas 14 USC (1-4) at #22 Oklahoma State (4-1) The final game of the Big XII slate this week features one of the fastest-rising programs in the conference against the preseason top-10 USC Trojans. USC began their season fairly strong, playing now-#2 TCU close in the opener before doubling up Arizona State in Tempe. Then, disaster struck in Salt Lake City. Marc Lockwood went down with a shoulder injury (later diagnosed as a rotator cuff tear), and the Trojans suffered a 20-17 upset to Utah. With their signal-caller out, the USC offense has been rudderless and often scoreless. They managed 7 points against Arizona and 14 against Oregon, spoiling a pair of strong defensive efforts. For the season, USC is 32nd in points allowed per game...and 112th in points scored. Lockwood is expected back sometime in the next couple of weeks, but he has already been ruled out of this game. Sebastian Reardon hasn't worked out, so the Trojans will turn to redshirt freshman Sam Goldberg hoping that he can make plays with his feet. Look for USC to run Bernard Shook as much as possible to hide Goldberg. Even with the retirement of recently inked head coach randye4, Oklahoma State is dangerous. They have a strong defensive front, and defensive tackle Amir Pryor (15 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 2 TFL, 1 FF) is a ripper. They're 6th in the country in scoring defense; USC will have to earn every point it scores. And the Trojans will have to earn every stop they get against Oklahoma State's elite aerial attack. USC does not have a strong secondary beyond Donovan Singleton-Blake, and Oklahoma State has four different guys who can put up 100 yards in a game--even with Xavier Gant inactive. Ian Baldwin is completing 67.9% of his passes, averaging 8.8 yards per attempt, and throwing 16 touchdowns to 2 interceptions with a 171.5 passer rating. Just as they're the country's #6 scoring defense, they're also the country's #6 scoring offense. They are the definition of an explosive offense, and it's scored in bunches no matter who it's faced. With the field position advantage created by USC's inability to move the ball down the field due to Lockwood's injury, I don't expect anything to change. #22 Oklahoma State 34, USC 17 Byes: Iowa State (1-5), #2 TCU (6-0), Texas Tech (4-2)
    13. Swipet

      Congratulations, you are approved for Kansas State! I'm sure you already know what to do next, but: Request account elevation and your avatar here Post your new depth chart here (K-State's last depth chart is here, for reference) And request Kansas State on the interface so you can get your gameplan in as soon as possible.
    14. The sun still shines. The Earth still spins. And the Big XII is still the nation's most exciting conference. Week 7 featured a lot of truly dominant individual performances: Simeon Wells rushed for 150 yards and Solomon McLaughlin rushed for 200, Austin Callahan had a pick and seven tackles, Thomas Morton had 9 tackles and a TFL--and none of them won Player of the Week for their respective side of the ball. But even so, the McLaughlin Show did continue. The Bryce Thompson Show rolled into town and did not disappoint...unless you were rooting for Iowa State. Texas-Baylor was a thriller from start to finish. And Felix Luck showed the world just what he's capable of on his best day. So let's talk about the games. Friday Night Texas Tech 38, Kansas 17 And I Would Run One Thousand Yards: Solomon McLaughlin racked up another 200 yards today, including 66 yards on one of his three touchdown runs of the day. That puts him at 1,000 yards for the year through six games--which, for all you non-math majors is a regular-season pace of 2,000 yards on the dot. No Big XII player has reached that mark since Sterling Brown and Trace "The Ace" Buchanan both did in 2013--Brown topped out at 1,997 two years later, and Arturo Pacheco (1,982 in 2018) is the only one to come close since then. Did I mention that all four of them had a bowl game, two had a conference championship game, and McLaughlin's on track to hit 2,000 yards in the regular season? The Best Callahan On Defense: While Kansas defensive end Jamari Callahan would naturally never line up against Texas Tech freshman linebacker Austin Callahan, the matchup between the two players (with no familial relation) was intriguing heading into the game. By the end of the day, it was Austin who had stolen the show. He racked up a team-high 7 tackles and intercepted one of Christian Graham's passes over the middle in the first quarter to set up a first-quarter touchdown that allowed Texas Tech to seize control. Security Blanket: Christian Graham looked to tight end Jaime Bautista for most of the day, finding him 11 times for 125 yards and a pair of touchdowns. No other Jayhawk caught more than two passes, and no other player on either side had more than 46 yards receiving. Bautista was essentially the only available offensive option for Kansas, with Chris Burgos hobbled and Alexander Durant ineffective. Graham had no trouble reaching for his security blanket, but that's about the only positive to take away. Next up: Kansas drops to 2-3 and enters must-win territory on the road at struggling West Virginia. They'll hope for better performances from injured Chris Burgos and Armani Bello, but it'll be some time yet before starting runningback Rod Fulton is ready to return. Texas Tech improves to 4-2, and they'll hit their bye week riding high before a matchup with Kansas State. Saturday Afternoon Duke 38, Iowa State 7 Bryce Is Nice: When Bryce Thompson took a quarterback draw play and turned it into a 51-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, the fans in Ames realized it was going to be a long day. Thompson did basically whatever he wanted on Saturday, throwing for 347 yards and 3 touchdowns on 22-of-29 passing and leading all rushers with 104 yards and a touchdown on 9 carries. Duke led 14-0 after the first quarter, 28-0 at the half, and never looked back on the way to their first-ever win over a Big XII team. Amari Nicholson was the big-play receiver with 5 receptions for 128 yards and 2 touchdowns; Sean Spaczek caught the other touchdown pass. OL is everything: When Iowa State is blocking well, its offense runs like a well-oiled machine. But when their first line of defense...er, their first line of offense fails, it gets ugly. After a missed assignment that led to a sack by Victor Minor, Iowa State's offensive line coach was caught on camera throwing his headset to the ground in disgust--that pretty much summed up how things went for the Cyclones. They gained just 185 yards of offense: Kofi McCullough had 97 yards on 24 carries, and Vaughn Sheppard finished with 88 yards and an interception on 8-14 passing. Backfield Progress Report: Halfway through the regular season, Kofi McCullough's had more ups than downs. He's had the second-most carries in the Big XII, but he's responded by rushing for the second-most yards. (No prizes for guessing who's first in both categories.) His 5.2 yards per carry are the fourth-most of any starting Big XII runningback, he's scored 7 touchdowns in 6 games, and he's got a lot of room to grow. It'll be exciting to see what he can do as he develops as a player. But defenses are learning that he's the one to key in on, and Vaughn Sheppard hasn't been able to make them pay for that. He's thrown 2 touchdowns to 6 interceptions. Barring a massive turnaround, this would be the second consecutive season and fourth overall that Iowa State has had more interceptions than passing touchdowns. But don't despair, Cyclone fans: every single Iowa State starter has had a season underwater, including Alfred Spruill and Clifford Wilcox. Sheppard has the tools to be great; he's just a long way from putting it together. Next up: The Cyclones fall to 1-5 and are in danger of being sent home for the winter for the second straight year. They have a bye coming up, and they'll welcome in the Longhorns next. Saturday Evening #20 Texas 31, Baylor 28 Hit The Ground Running: Texas wasted no time establishing the run against Baylor. They went to Simeon Wells early and often, and the junior rewarded his coaches' confidence with a 56-yard touchdown run early. Not only that, but the degree to which the defense keyed on in Wells allowed Kyler Tackett to pull the ball out on a few option plays and sneak away for massive gains of his own. The two of them combined for 194 yards and 3 touchdowns on 28 carries, and Texas roared out to a 21-7 lead heading into the half. Fury of the Wounded Bear: Oftentimes, though, it's the bear that's wounded but alive that's the most dangerous. With nothing left to lose, Baylor struck back and struck back hard. They weren't running the ball quite as well as they'd like, netting 93 yards on 22 carries. But Caleb Olmsted found his form through the air in the second half to finish the day with 211 yards and two scores on 18 of 30 passing, and Miles Street found a way to chip in two scores on the ground. Just as importantly, the Baylor defense got more aggressive against the run. Thomas Morton wound up with 9 tackles, one for a loss, and Baylor got Texas's 14-point lead all the way down to 3. But... Special Teams Matter: ...but both Texas's Giovanni Esposito and Baylor's Jesse Cantrell had one opportunity to hit a field goal. Cantrell attempted his late in the third quarter, the lead down to 21-14. The snap was good, but the hold had the laces facing the wrong direction and Cantrell wound up hooking it wide left from 44 yards out. After both teams traded touchdowns in the fourth quarter, Esposito got his chance to put the Longhorns back up two scores with under 5 minutes to play. There were no issues whatsoever on his 42-yarder, which sailed straight down the middle and ultimately gave Texas the last bit of cushion it needed to secure the win. Next up: Both schools will be the first opponent of a new era next week. The 4-1 Longhorns head over to Dallas for the Red River Shootout in the first game of the HAFFnHAFF era at Oklahoma, while the Bears play host to Kansas State (who expects to hire a new coach by the end of Monday). #2 TCU 35, Oklahoma 3 Felix Felicis: The TCU coaching staff had a lot to ask of redshirt sophomore quarterback Felix Luck. They bet this game on him, and he made that bet pay off. He set multiple new career highs: completions (30), pass attempts (50), and passing yards (346) were the biggest three. He even put his body on the line to sneak in a rushing touchdown on 1st and goal from the 1 early in the game. His three total touchdowns matched a career high, and for the second straight game (and third time overall) he avoided committing any turnovers. He found tight end Miguel Aguilera for 106 yards and a score, found Finn Nielsen for 97 and a score, and generally excelled at distributing the ball far and wide amongst his receivers. At present, Luck's consistency is the difference between TCU as a contender and TCU as a title favorite. Headwinds: Meanwhile, Oklahoma was able to find absolutely no traction against the impassable wall known as the TCU defense. Maurice White had a 23-yard scamper, but other than that there just wasn't room for him to run against the imposing TCU front. He finished with 98 yards on 21 carries with a fumble, snapping his 17-game streak of rushing for at least 100 yards. The last defense to hold him to double-digits was Alabama in the 2019 College Football Playoff, so that's good company to be in if you're a TCU fan. Rewriting the Record Books: This game set multiple records for Oklahoma, and none of them are good. It was the worst margin of defeat for the Sooners in a conference game, and it tied their 49-17 loss to Auburn as their largest margin of defeat in any game at all. Their three points are tied for the fewest they've scored in a game; it joins the 2017 Red River Shootout (a 13-3 loss) as the only other time they've been held to single digits. Conversely, it's also the largest conference win TCU has ever recorded; it's also TCU's biggest win since a 40-0 annihilation of SMU back in 2018. Griffin McHanna injured: Electric receiver and return man Griffin McHanna left the game early and was unable to return. TCU anticipates that he will indeed miss time with hamstring tendinitis; that will keep him out for at least the next three weeks, if not longer. He might begin to practice again during the Frogs' week 11 bye. Next up: TCU gets a bye before continuing their three-game homestand against West Virginia and Iowa State. Oklahoma begins a new era under HAFFnHAFF, who's pretty much being thrown into the fire on day 1 as they take on Texas for the all-important Red River Shootout. Byes: Kansas State (2-3), West Virginia (1-4), #23 Oklahoma State (4-1)
    15. NFLHC Check in

      Party like it's '85