Well, let's roll. The underdogs barked loudly last week, going 4-0 against the number with three road teams winning and the Seahawks grabbing one of the great backdoor covers in recent memory.
We covered our confidence polls Wednesday. And we're locked and loaded. Well, we're locked. We'll get loaded later.
Indianapolis plus-5.5 over Kansas City. This looks like it could be a great one, and we could see either team winning to be honest, so we'll take the points and roll the dice. Couple of points here: Highs in the mid-to-low 30s Saturday in K.C. with a 60-percent chance of snow. That helps the Colts and that powerful offensive line and Marlon Mack, who went for almost 150 against Houston last week. Side question: OK gang, we're all pretty much in agreement that Patty Mahomes is the NFL MVP right? Dude became only the second QB ever with 50 TDs and 5,000 passing yards in the same season. (The other is Peyton Manning, and anytime it's you and Peyton on a QB list it's almost always a good thing.) So Mahomes has the numbers. But, if we are going to make an argument about the V in the award, who has more value in this league than Andrew Luck right now? Without Luck in 2017, the Colts were 4-12 and fired their coach. With Luck, the Colts finished 10-6, and that was after a 1-5 start as Luck was getting back in the saddle, so to speak. The Chiefs, last year as Mahomes watched from the sideline, finished 10-6 and won the division with Alex Smith starting 15 games. So there's that.
Dallas plus-7 over Los Angeles Rams. Buy the half because that's what we do. This is a large number, and no I am not super stoked to back Jason Garrett over Sean McVay. But let's review what we know: This will be the smallest home-field edge left in the postseason. (Dallas could have a third of the fans and the noise and conditions are far from intimidating.) And then there is the fact that the Rams have allowed the most yards per carry of any team in the league at 5.1 per rush. That stat is magnified when Ezekiel Elliott and that offensive line and scheme are on the other side.
New England minus-4 over Los Angeles Chargers. The crazy, seven-DB set that the Chargers used to confuse and corral Lamar Jackson may be used this weekend to blanket the Patriots short passing game. But here are a couple of things: On the short list of the stats you are going to to get tired of hearing is Tom Brady is 7-0 against Philip Rivers. We're betting Rivers is assuredly tired of it. Secondly, something tells me that Sony Michel is going to have his way against the undersized Chargers front seven, regardless of how many DBs they use. Side note: Highs in the 20s Sunday in Foxboro.
Philadelphia plus-8 over New Orleans. I'm not buying the "They ran up the score" motivation. Man, the lengths athletes will go for the "We shocked the world" or "No one believes in us" or the "They don't respect us" angle of motivation. Whatever. That said, I do believe in the Foles Magic. When you have a shooter or a pitcher or a quarterback that the team believes delivers in any and all circumstances, then that confidence is real and effective. The Eagles have that in Nick Foles, especially across the offensive line. And the Eagles are getting healthier across the defensive line, too. Man, if Nick Foles wins this one, Carson Wentz is going to drown some goldfish or something.
Last week's NFL picks: 2-1-1 (66.7 percent) against the spread
NFL season picks: 14-5-1 (73.7 percent) against the spread
Final bowl picks: 19-14-2 (57.6 percent) against the spread
College regular season picks: 53-38-2 (58.2 percent) against the spread
Combined college picks: 72-52-4 (58.1 percent) against the spread
Hurts, so good
As a regular Twitter correspondent informed me last night, and take it for what it's worth, but among Jalen Hurts' new Twitter followers are Miami HC Manny Diaz, Miam OC Major Applewhite and a couple of current or former Hurricanes players. Yes, that is as binding as a wet noodle or a coach's commitment to his current gig until his 'next' dream job opens up, but it's interesting for sure.
Hurts, the Alabama graduate in the transfer portal, will be a coveted piece in the next month of a recruiting cycle. And Miami, which had enormous QB issues in last year's free fall, makes sense.
While we are here, transfer portal is easily my new favorite sports phrase. That is all.
In fact, the Vegas oddsmakers are starting to offer their best guesses on Hurts' next home. Here, from MyBookie.ag, are the odds: TCU 4-to-1, Auburn and Maryland 5-to-1, Miami and Houston 6-to-1, Arkansas and Florida 7-to-1, FSU and Tennessee 8-to-1, FAU and Arizona 10-to-1, Nebraska and Oklahoma 12-to-1. The field is 3-to-1, and not for nothing, Alabama is 7-to-1.
Right now, Hurts' legacy at Alabama, even with a transfer, will be fondly recalled by Johnny Tide Fans. He stayed and delivered a monster effort in the SEC title game.
How that legacy would change if Hurts went to Auburn or Tennessee, though, would be very interesting to watch.
And Jalen, if you are reading this — and why wouldn't he — man, my first call would be to Oklahoma. Because if he can turn Kyler Murray into a Heisman winner, well, think of that Lincoln Riley could do with someone with your skills and experience.
Change of heart, equipment
Love the intrigue of this decision. Love it.
If the reports are true that Murray is headed to the NFL draft and prepared to give back his multi-million-signing bonus.
This decision is not without risk. The combine will reveal the Heisman winner's for real height. (There are talks and concerns about Murray's listed 5-foot-10 and folks who wonder if he's closer to 5-7 than 5-11.)
But let's look at the salary statistics.
Baseball, if you make it, offers more long-term money.
Football, as a first-rounder, offers a much higher basement.
Look at the hard numbers that are comparable.
If we take the last three baseball drafts (2016-18) out because those players need time to matriculate through the minors, let's review outfielders taken in the top 10 from 2011-2015.
In 2015, Kyle Tucker (64 at-bats) went No. 5 overall and Ian Happ (387 ABs) went 9.
In 2014, Alex Jackson (has not made the MLB yet) went No. 6 and Michael Conforto (established big-leaguer with 78 career homers) went 10.
In 2013, Clint Frazier (34 career ABs) went 5th.
In 2012 Byron Buxton (.230 career hitter in almost 1,000 career ABs), Albert Almora Jr. (.289 career average in 855 ABs) went No. 6 and David Dahl (.293 in 471 ABs) went 10th.
In 2011, Bubba Starling (Clarice's little brother) has not made his MLB debuted.
So that's nine outfielders in five years in the top 10 that have had a fair chance to make the majors. Of that nine, here's believing that four — Conforto, Almora, Dahl, and we're being kind with Happ — will get that big second contract after six years. That's 44 percent.
Granted the certainty of a first-round quarterback making it long-term in the NFL is not a given either, but if Murray is taken in the top 10 the money is more than three times what the A's paid him to sign after last year's draft. Josh Rosen was the 10th pick last spring. He is guaranteed between $17 and $18 million.
Rosen's name is an interesting drop here because new Arizona head coach Kliff Kingsbury raved — RAVED — about Murray's skill set and said that he would take him with a top pick. (Side note: Guess who has the No. 1 overall pick? Yep, Kingsbury's Cardinals. Side question about the side note: Shouldn't, considering now that dreamy Kliff Kingsbury is the head dude in the desert, we start calling them the Kardinals? Discuss.)
For those of you wondering, the only time since the merger an NFL franchise spent consecutive first-round picks on quarterbacks was in 1982 and '83 when the Colts took Art Schlichter fourth and some dude named John Elway No. 1 in 1983.
This and that
— Speaking of Kingsbury's Kardinals, well, apparently the franchise's official Twitter account got a tad defensive over a specific critic of the move. Hey, Arizona, you rolled the dice and hired a guy that just got fired after going 35-40 at Texas Tech and took the USC OC gig for about 48 minutes. Criticism was coming. But the Kardinals slapped back bug time toward Stephen A. Smith, who blasted the hire and said the handsome Kingsbury was a better candidate for The Bachelor than an NFL head coach. "We thought you would be in a good mood since the Chargers activated Hunter Henry this week," was the Kardinals' Twitter response, citing Stephen A.'s memorable and error-filled breakdown of the Chargers last month. Here's betting ol' Stephen A. may have some bounce back for the Kardinals on one of his shows today.
— Auburn got worked on the road last night at Ole Miss. I think of the three SEC front-runners, Auburn's over-reliance on the 3 ball will lead to a very unpredictable tournament trip.
— Nice tidbit here from Gene of Many Hats Henley from Knoxville: The 13th-ranked Lady Vols haven't lost back-to-back home games since the 1996-97 season. To prevent that from happening, there are some things they'll need to clean up tonight against 16th-ranked Kentucky. (FWIW, that team won the national championship). Here's his preview story on tonight's game.
— With friends like this Here's a story of a guy's roommate who tried to bait and switch his rommie's winning lottery ticket. The payoff was the tidy sum of $10 million. Hmmmmmm.
While we are here, and we will have loads of time to discuss the draft — I love the draft; you know this — Kyler Murray or Dwayne Haskins, which one would you draft first?
If you were Jalen Hurts, where are you playing ball next year?
Today is Jan. 10, which is known as Majority Rule Day, but shouldn't Majority Rule Day every day? Discuss.
Common Sense by Thomas Paine was published on this day in 1776 and turned the American opinion in terms of fighting for independence.
To tie in with an earlier Rushmore this week, The Catch by Dwight Clark was on this day 36 years ago. So there's that.
OK, The Sopranos debuted on this day 20 years ago. Yes, 20 years ago. They are replying the series currently on HBO2 and I forgot how good it was.
Rushmore of TV/movie mobsters (and real life guys on the screen count too). Go and remember the mailbag.