Wednesday
January 19, 2022
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#2704


sometimes it's only about heart


I tried one of my oldest #DMD tricks today. I didn't open Dale Williams' Maryland story until I was finished writing and preparing today's edition to be published. At the very end, after everything was coded and ready for launch, only then did I open Dale's post-game recap and start prepping it for today's #DMD.

I do that "trick" so I'm in no way influenced by something Dale himself might include in his piece. I do that, actually, with every #DMD contributor. I almost never open their story for the next day's issue until I've already authored what I'm going to post here. It's just better that way, I think.

So as I sit down to produce #DMD today -- and offer a short account of what I saw from Maryland last night in their loss to Michigan -- I've yet to see anything Dale wrote about the game.

One of the most often used responses when it comes to evaluating and/or providing criticism of college athletes is, of course: "they're just kids..."

Interim coach Danny Manning saw his Maryland team get completely outworked in last night's loss at Michigan.

There was a time, in fact, when you could also say "they're not getting paid" and that would serve as a suitable deflection of any harsh criticism, but even that excuse is out the window now. They are, in many cases, "getting paid".

The Maryland men's basketball team is a group of college athletes. That much is true. They're not professional athletes, they're college athletes.

They're not "kids", per se, but they are, if that makes sense. They say the adult male brain doesn't fully develop until age 26. My wife might tell you differently, by the way, but don't pay attention to her.

Ironically, I suppose, Maryland played like "kids" last night. They played as if the result didn't really matter. They played, I thought, like a group of young men who were far more interested in going home and playing on their Xbox than they were playing a high level basketball game.

Occasionally in the summer, after three or four straight days of golf, swimming, golf, swimming, my (now) teenage son will suddenly start asking weird questions: "Is it supposed to rain tomorrow?", or, "How do you know if you're getting strep throat?". I immediately know what that means. He needs a day off. Or an afternoon off. Or his friends have organized a tournament on Xbox and he wants to be part of it. It's easy to sense when kids need a break or a day to "just be a kid".

Maryland looked, last night, like a team that's in need of a break. That's the nice way of saying it.

You want the tough evaluation? OK, here goes: Maryland looked like a team -- last night, anyway -- that's throwing in the towel.

I realize that's harsh. I get it: "they're just college kids..."

But that's also the reality. The Terps were not interested in playing basketball last night when that game started. Why? I have no idea, because I'm not around to make that kind of assessment. Is the team's chemistry good? Not sure. Are the coaches in sync with the kids? Not sure of that, either.

I didn't see the second half of Saturday's home loss to Rutgers, but perusing the internet told me the story. I saw lots of "Maryland quit" and "Maryland didn't work hard" late Saturday afteroon after the Terps got outscored by 22 points in the second half of their 70-59 loss to the Scarlet Knights.

But I didn't see the game myself, so I don't have an opinion on the second half collapse.

I know what I saw last night, though. Because I'm a glutton for punishment, I watched all 40 minutes of the action from Ann Arbor. I saw a group of Maryland players early in the game who had very little interest in competing. We're not talking quality of "performance", here. There are nights when you give it all you have and it's just not good enough on that given night. It happens to everyone in every sport.

We're talking quality of "competing". Effort, determination, will. You know it when you see it. And you didn't see it last night in Ann Arbor. At least not from Maryland.

Interestingly -- and to sorta kinda prove the point -- two players who see very little playing time for the Terps got a few minutes at the end of that fiasco; Simon Wright and Marcus Dockery. Guess what you saw from those two? Effort.

Neither of them are great basketball players. Wright actually logged six minutes last night, which is probably something he'll tell his grandkids someday. He didn't do anything, stat wise, in those six minutes. But he most certainly tried hard. You could see it.

The same with Dockery, the sophomore from D.C. who is probably regarded more as a defensive specialist than anything else. He got a couple of minutes last night and even scored 2 points against the Wolverines. But, again, it's not about stats or scoring. It's about the fact that when pressed into duty, those two guys gave real, legitimate effort.

It can be done, in other words. You just have to want to do it. And when you're starting and the game is in your hands, you either work hard and give your all or you trail by 20 points at halftime. Maryland gave very little "real" effort in the first half last night. It was, I assume to everyone involved, embarrassing.

I don't have the answer, but I don't think it's "they're just not very talented", because that's really not true. This Maryland team might not be as talented as a Baylor or Gonzaga or Duke, but they're talented enough to take a top ten team (Wisconsin) to the wire last week in College Park. They do have quality. But heart matters more than talent in most cases. If you don't have heart, talent only takes you so far.

Now, because the Terps got humiliated last night and because Illinois has "kids" who read the internet and scan the boxscores, there's no telling what might happen this Friday night in College Park. Sports, as we all know, is weird like that. You never know what might take place the next time out.

But last night, at least, was an eye opener. It's one thing to lose. It's another thing to basically allow yourself to get outworked, outhustled and outplayed from the very beginning. That's what I saw from the Terps last night. I'm not sure it has anything at all to do with Danny Manning being there or Mark Turgeon not being there.

Last night, as I saw it, had everything to do with heart. Maryland had none. Well, except for those two kids who came in at the end and wanted to distinguish themselves. They played like they were interested. I didn't see many others who did, unfortunately.

It was, in a word, embarrassing. Maryland basketball should be better than that type of effort.

Throwing in the towel is never a good look. And it's easy to detect when it's happening.

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The Stats Nerd
And His Numbers


Contributed by #DMD's data and numbers analyst
The Stats Nerd


Before the past weekend’s slate of NFL wild card games my intention was to write a bit about the draft and the influence of analytics and changes over the last 25 years. But then Sunday afternoon and evening happened in Dallas and I decided to switch gears. I’ll be back to the draft next week.

I should have known better…Mike McCarthy, a nationally televised game, the highest of stakes. I mean this is like the perfect recipe for some good old fashioned head scratching decision making. The kind of decision making by 1 of 32 NFL head coaches that would be impossible to believe were it written into a script. And yet…there it was, on TV for us all to see. And Mike did not disappoint….Not in the least.

They say things are bigger in Texas. Apparently that saying even applies to FUBARs. Because this was the biggest and bestest FUBAR in the history of sports FUBARs. If Drew ever opens a #CLOWNSHOES Hall of Fame, I respectfully submit a tape of this 4th quarter for first ballot consideration.

But first a little history. As we all know, McCarthy was the head coach in Green Bay from 2006-2018. He won a Super Bowl in 2011 over Steeler Steve’s favorite team. But all the while there were questions. It seemed the bigger the stage the more peculiar the decisions he made became. Of course, for most of his time in Green Bay, he had Aaron Rodgers behind center. Commentators, social media types and, particularly, analytics goobers believe that he wasted the prime of Rodgers career. He even has an unfavorable internet moniker that I won’t share here.

Mike McCarthy...strikes again.

But I’m not here to debate the man’s past. He has been a frequent whipping boy and it’s not hard to find articles and opinion pieces taking shots at him. In fact, I raised the question of his tenure back in October when, at 5-1, I wondered if an ignominious exit for the Cowboys might be the end for Big Mike in Big D. As of now there are rumors flying but it appears he will survive Sunday’s debacle and live to see another season.

I wonder what would have happened here on our very own #DMD and in Baltimore media if Harbaugh managed a 4th quarter like McCarthy did against San Francisco?

For perspective, I went to some Cowboys oriented message boards and websites and hooooo boy Charm City is positively amatuer hour when it comes to this stuff. We at #DMD have a lot to learn from Joe Cowboy Fan.

It seems the whole city of Dallas is piling on. The whole staff should be fired, Jerry Jones should be forced to sell the team, Dak needs to be traded….blah blah blah. It’s all there. Cowboy fans have seen enough and they have had enough. The vitriol is real and it’s palpable.

I suspect there is a daily sports blog site in suburban Fort Worth called Big Bob’s Breakfast Buffet (BBBB if you will) with a head writer trying to reasonably explain what happened and why. Big Bob may even give weekly pics that are meticulously tracked by a guy named Mark In Plano (MIP for short). But the comments section of BBBB is not having any of it. They want their pound of flesh and they want answers.

And you know what? I can’t blame them. What we all witnessed on Sunday evening was an absolute embarrassment to a once proud and storied franchise. Maybe it’s the immediacy of it all but I’m not sure how he comes back from this. What a complete and utter trainwreck.

But for most of the game it wasn’t McCarthy that seemed unwilling to grab the game by the throat and take control…it was the Niners Kyle Shanahan. Shanahan is a real conundrum. He’s a borderline offensive savant. His play calling, set formations, and general creativity make him a darling amongst analytics nerds.

BUT, and it’s a big but, he seems to make poor decisions with the easy stuff. His 4th down decision making is notoriously poor. He seems to fall in love with players only to put those same players in the doghouse early in their careers. And his influence on personnel decisions has led to some bizarre draft day choices.

All that said, however, he made it to Super Bowl LIV and his Niners actually held a 20-10 lead heading into the 4th quarter. And this season saw the team rebound from a 3-5 start winning 7 of the last 9 to get into the playoffs as the 6th seed. Shanahan should also get the credit for the emergence of Deebo Samuel as a Mr. Everything of sorts for the team. Samuel has been a revelation. The kind of revelation some here in Baltimore wish we could see from someone…somewhere…some time.

Anyway, the Niners were in control for most of the game with Shanahan eschewing multiple 4th and short opportunities and punting. The team had chances to put the Cowboys away or at least continue drives and simply discarded those opportunities and punted.

The two biggest 4th down errors came late in the 4th Quarter. The first, with 2:50 left to go in the game from mid-field saw the Niners up 6 facing a 4th and 1. The WP analytic tools rated this as a STRONG Go For It spot with an increased WP% of 5-8% depending on which model you used. That is simply too much WP to give up. But he did.

The second 4th down decision came with only 40 seconds left. In this case, from the Dallas 38 Shanahan DID make the right decision and lined up to go for it. Except he couldn’t help himself, overthought the situation and had an O-Lineman go in motion. Ultimately said lineman wasn’t set at the snap resulting in a disastrous penalty. So a simple QB sneak turned into a 4th and 6 from the +42 and the ball was punted into the end zone. A grand total of a Net 22 yard gain. Bad!

But in spite of these mistakes the Cowboys and McCarthy were in full blown “HOLD MY BEER” mode. They simply were not going to be outdone. They tied the record for most penalties in a playoff game. Their leader, Dak Prescott, wasn’t very good for most of the game. And Ezekiel Elliott…YIKES…his MEGA contract is looking more and more of an anchor around that franchise’s neck every time I watch him play.

But the piece de resistance for “America’s Team” was the 4th quarter. It all started innocently enough. The Cowboys trailed 23-7 heading into the 4th quarter and, frankly, were really not showing much effort or interest in coming back. And then McCarthy tried a trick play.

Facing a 4th and 5 from their own 48 they lined up to punt and the punter threw a pass to one of the gunners for a 16 yard gain and a fresh set of downs. Well done Mikey! But then the chaos began.

For some reason that I simply don’t understand, the Cowboys left the punt team on the field. Until there was about 12 seconds left on the play clock that is. At that point they rushed the regular offense on the field. By rule the officials have to allow the defense a chance to match the change in personnel and this ultimately led to a delay of game penalty.

This was Keystone Cops stuff here. Absolute amateur hour thinking. The Cowboys later explained that they thought they could force the Niners to burn a timeout. LOL ok chief.

I generally prefer that if a team is going to go for it they should leave their actual QB in to do the throwing. But I get it, the surprise of the fake sometimes works well. Maybe there was something they saw that led them to think this fake punt would work better than a normal 4th and 5 play from Dak.

Ok great. It worked. Now just get your offense back out there and resume the drive. Don’t try some dumb cutesy play that really isn’t likely to do anything and simply exposes your team to potential penalties. To paraphrase Drew: Clownshoes #1!

So the drive stalled on a 4th and 7 and McCarthy trotted out his kicker for a 51 yard field goal. Which he made…cutting the lead from 16 to 13. Or for those Flyers fans amongst us I’ll make it simple: from a 2 score game to a – *checks notes* – (still) 2 score game. I mean the field goal has SOME value but with under 12 minutes to go and an offense showing absolutely zippo, they had to get touchdowns.

Back to the game. Inexplicably, Dallas creates a turnover and scores a TD with 8 minutes left to cut the lead to six. Is this happening? Keep in mind Dallas has won a grand total of 3 playoff games since 1996.

And then the real tom foolery begins. The next SF drive results in the initial aforementioned 4th down decision by Shanahan. Followed thereafter by the Cowboys stalling at mid-field and the subsequent Niners 4th down QB sneak attempt penalty. It was 7 1/2 minutes of game time that seemingly took an hour of real time and featured multiple dead ball penalties, official reviews, bad 4th down decisions and terrible punts. That’s a veritable smorgasbord of game management debacles to pick from!

And yet, THE BEST WAS YET TO COME! 39 seconds to go 80 yards to win the game with no timeouts. Mike McCarthy at the helm. What could possibly happen? I’m still excited by the prospect and I already know what happens next!

Inexplicably, SF goes into the worst prevent defense I’ve ever seen and essentially offers sideline routes to the ‘Boys. 3 plays later and the ball is on the SF 41 with 14 seconds remaining. Will they try again to pick up a quick 10-15 yards and give themselves 1 or maybe 2 shots at the end zone? Or will they start looking to the end zone with the hope of a completion or DPI call?

NEITHER! If you had “run the ball into the middle of the field” on your Mike McCarthy game management bingo card, come on down you are a WINNER! This is Mike McCarthy galaxy brain stuff right here. Run the ball for 17 yards to the SF 24 and then just hope beyond hope that the official can spot it in time for a spike?!?!

Honestly I thought I was missing something. Maybe they actually had another timeout I thought….no that’s not it. Maybe the clock stops on a first down like in college now…OK I knew this wasn’t it but I’m grasping at any semblance of logic I can at this point.

But then the spike never happened and the TV camera panned to Mike McCarthy on the sideline…and I thought to myself “ah there is the reason…now I understand”. To paraphrase Drew: Clownshoes #2!

The company line is that Kellen Moore (OC) called the play, McCarthy approved it and Dak didn’t check out of it. If that is true then maybe the comments section over at BBBB is right and good old fashioned house cleaning is in order. I can not, for the life of me, believe that all three of those men thought this was a good idea.

Later McCarthy responded to a question about this hot mess by saying “We talked to our analytics guys, that’s the play they recommended so we went with it. Process over results, that’s what we always say”. I’ll put this very succinctly: BULLSH&*. No “analytics guys” recommended a running play into the middle of the field with 14 seconds left and no timeouts. No they didn’t.

And if some “analytics dude” did say that, it’s because they spun a wheel with all the possible plays on it and called whatever play it landed on. The YOLO strategy if you will. Or they were drunk. Or they had the SF moneyline. Or they had the under. THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS! But an analytics person calling that play in good faith is not one of said possibilities.

Process over results is, in fact, an analytic “saying”. We can’t necessarily control the end results but we can control our process and our inputs so that we have a better chance of positive results. But we still can not control the result. What that implies, however, is that the process of calling a middle of the field run could reasonably be expected to result in a higher chance of scoring a TD. Ummmm what??

So Mike’s response is kind of like when Adam Sandler compared the Industrial Revolution to a growing puppy he read about in a story in the movie Billy Madison. Of course, this was when Billy was playing a school game show. The answer made little sense to anyone that heard it and so the Principal replied with that now famous line turned internet meme:

”Mr. Madison, what you have just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.”

(OK maybe that was overkill but I couldn’t resist).

I have no clue how this plays out. As I said, it seems at this point that McCarthy will be back. But there is a pattern of poor, some would say terrible, clock and game management decisions throughout his head coaching history. He’s been at this for over 15 years and he keeps hitting doozies year after year.

The Cowboys and Jerry Jones have a lot to think about this off season. They have a running back making entirely too much money with a MASSIVE cap hit should they try to shed him. They have a multi-billion dollar stadium with glares blinding receivers on sunny days. And they have a coach that can’t seem to get out of his own way. Honestly, I can’t see how they get past this.

To me, ripping the band aid off and moving on from McCarthy makes the most sense. But Jerry Jones is nothing if not stubborn. I suspect the national and local outcry over this game will simply entrench Jerry in his decision.And then as soon as a poor coaching decision is made next season this cycle will repeat itself.

But one thing seems sure, our buddy Big Bob in Fort Worth will have a lot of comment monitoring to do at the BBBB as long as Mike McCarthy is in charge. I wonder what Bob’s season hypothetical wagering account looks like?

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dale williams aims the
terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his seventh season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2021-2022 season.


terps get blown out in ann arbor


Now that was an embarrassing effort the Terps put forth last night. Plain and simple: embarrassing.

If you don’t have the desire to play hard on the road in the Big Ten, you can get humiliated. The Terps played with no heart, energy, or enthusiasm in a first half that saw them go down by 20. The result was a pure and simple “laugher” for the Michigan Wolverines as they curb stomped Maryland, 83-64.

The Terps allowed Michigan to shoot 58% from the floor (most of those shots were uncontested) and they were outrebounded 32-20. The interior defense was nonexistent as Qudus Wahab, Donta Scott, and Julian Reese offered no resistance to anything their Michigan counterparts wanted to do.

Maryland gave up 44 points in the paint. Not to be outdone, the Terp guards were not any better defensively.

Eric Ayala once again led Maryland in scoring last night, but was just 1 of 6 in the first half when the Terps fell behind by 20 points at Michigan.

Eric Ayala led the Terps with 22 points and Scott had 19. But Ayala went 1-6 in the first half when the game was decided. The lone bright spot for Maryland was Reese hitting 2 three-pointers. He still struggles handling the ball in traffic and his court awareness needs vast improvement, but it was nice to see him hit a few shots. HE went 4-4 from the floor, notching 10 points.

Michigan's Hunter Dickinson did whatever he wanted, anywhere on the court. He was 10-14 from the floor, posting a team high 21 points. Why he was left unguarded so many times, I’ll never understand. Perhaps his defender was offering help because a teammate was left in the dust on the perimeter.

In what was one of the worst halves in recent Maryland basketball history, the Terps paid the price for being lazy on both ends of the floor. They trailed 39-19 after 20 minutes of play. Maryland had 10 turnovers and only 7 made baskets during the half.

The defense was pathetic, allowing three double-digit scorers in just 20 minutes of basketball. They gave up dunks, lay ins, run outs, and wide-open, unchallenged threes. I’d confidently characterize their effort as lazy. That lack of caring was epitomized by Eric Ayala allowing a loose ball to go out of bounds when he could have easily grabbed it and retained possession. Of course, The Wolverines were awarded the ball. Pure laziness. A lack of caring and even self-respect.

During the opening 20 minutes, they allowed Michigan to shoot 55% from the floor, 40% from the three-point line, and were outrebounded 17-11. Ayala shot 1-6, missing all 4 of his three-point tries. The Michigan big men outscored the Entire Terp team, 25-19.

The second half was pretty much meaningless other than to complete the game. The Terps cut the Michigan lead to 13, with a chance to get to 11, but a missed Russell layup combined with a sensational Frankie Collins layup off a lob pass pushed the lead to 15. Game over. The Wolverines started to play harder, putting a 14-4 run together to kill any hopes that Maryland may have had.

This Terp team was never willing to make the kind of effort required to win a road game in the Big Ten. They were slow closing out on shooters and they gave cutters and drivers free reign. There was no boxing out, no working the ball on offense, no hustle on loose balls. I wish I could pinpoint a Wolverine strategy or game plan that provided them with their winning edge. But they just played harder, faster, and with an intensity that the Terps weren’t willing to match.

It was a humiliating defeat to a Wolverine team that is average at best. After getting destroyed by 22 points in the second half of their game against Rutgers, last night’s 20-point first half deficit meant that the Terps had been outscored by 42 points over 40 consecutive minutes of game time.

This Maryland team does not have the kind of talent to win without giving anything less than 100% of their effort. Last night they played lazily, and got rolled.

The same thing will happen this Friday night in the XFINITY Center if they give a similar effort against a very good Illinois team. Game time is 7 p.m.

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#dmd comments








Jeff “Fireball” Roberts     January 19
It was just a matter of time before the Dallas coach pulled a mccarthy. Ya’ think Manning will be invited back to College Park next season ? Yeah, me either. I hope the CBA gets settled in the next 2-3 weeks. I am looking forward to Orioles season.

Travis     January 19
Drew



On your constant bashing of the Flyers (most subjects that pertain nothing to ice hockey), did the hatred start when some Flyers Fan poured a beer on you at The Spectrum for wearing a Caps Jersey?

KC     January 19
@Drew saying what the FM radio guys won't say today because they're tied into UM basketball. Today reminds me of the way @Drew was on the radio when he was the only guy in town willing to hammer the Orioles for their losing ways. Old school Dish today!!!

Stats Nerd     January 19
@Kenny-yeah the whole thing makes little sense. I thought if managed properly they could have run at least 2 and maybe 3 more plays with 14 seconds. If they felt more comfortable from, say the 25, run a 1215 yard out route and get out of bounds. Wild man

@Chris-yeah I've heard people ask about Duv. Think Deebo is thicker but Duv has wheels. I'm not sure it would work either but some of those things had to have worked better than some of the crap they were running. Getting Duv 6-8 touches a game certainly makes sense to me.

I am EXTREMELY bullish on Bateman. He won't be Deebo but I think he could be an absolute monster next year. He tics all the boxes: strong physical, runs clean routes, incredibly good hands. If GRo or whoever doesn't get the ball to him in space next season it will be a huge error to me. Reminds in a lot of ways of Anquan.

lou@palo alto     January 19
a UK study has shown a post covid brain fog that can last up to 9 mo--on a variety of cognitive tests there was a decreased attention span, memory and overall game performance--??Lamar he certainly looked slow and confused in his last few games--fyi

Bill     January 19
I consider myself a Maryland basketball fan. I completely agree that they looked disinterested last night. I am feeling a little disinterested too. I don't know why but the Terps have lost me this season. Very little energy on or off the court. Players (and maybe coaches) look like they are just going through the motions. I worry what the recruits must be thinking. Maryland better get this ship turned around quickly or fans could be in for a few years of bad basketball.

David Rosenfeld     January 19
I feel bad for those guys--as basketball players. Their coach--he quit on them. I don't care as a fan if you're glad he's gone, you have to admit that's what he did. And I'm sure they feel like they're kind of on their own right now. I mean...heck...even some awful MD teams had a great home court advantage, and they don't even have that anymore.

And now...what's happening is that they realize that they aren't good, and that the mechanism isn't in place for them to get better. And I'm not sure how they are going to respond to that.

I think this is Square 1. Reese will probably leave, despite his sister. The good news? You can get good quickly with the right coach.

Tom J     January 19
Maryland basketball is now resembling what Maryland football has been over the years. And it's starting to look like no one cares about the basketball now either judging by all of the empty seats there. Turgeon is laughing all the way to the bank......

Chris in Bel Air     January 19
Was watching the Caps and then remembered Terps were playing too. Flipped to that game, saw they were down by 17 and flipped back to Caps. Glad that's all I saw because if two writers are roasting due to lack of effort, it's not good.

@StatsNerd - Enjoyed today's article and agree on Deebo. He is unique player and I'm sure all fans wish their team had a multi-tool player like that. On that note, I don't expect Duvernay to be the same exact talent as Deebo but I do feel like the Ravens underutilize him. He might get one jet sweep or a poorly executed/timed screen but that's about it.

Agree w/ @DelRay - thankfully Ravens hired Harbs and not Garrett.

Kenny G     January 19
Stats Nerd - the one way I thought of the Dallas draw play was could Dak run far enough in say 10 seconds (need time to spot and spike) to make the next play(s) have a higher probability of success. The difference of a 41 yard vs 27 yard TD potential play cant be much but having two chances from 41 was probably the better option - TD or pass interference. Add in the factors that Dak did not give the ball to the ref and the line effectively blocked the ref from spotting the ball - what were they thinking? Sorry you answered that.




MFC     January 19
Who knows what goes through the heads of these players. I can't call them them kids because many are over 21 and with "re-classing", transferring in high school now the transfer portal in college many may well be 23 and 24. I do know when I watch games I don't see many "college looking kids" on the floor. I see men with incredible strength. Maybe, even though they probably have no idea what the old ACC was about are hearing about going to warm Miami or Florida State and now have to play in the dreary, cold midwest to face Michigan, Northwestern, Iowa etc. Who knows, but you're right, they didn't show up that's for sure.



Faithful, picking games is a guess. Yes computers, reading about past performances, metrics and "that stuff" can make it an educated guess but so many things can and do happen in a game that it comes down to you're either right or wrong. Remember, you're getting free thoughts here. You're introspection may be 100% correct and then..... Much easier to just pick a winner, now add in a spread and the job gets tougher. If not for the 1/2 point the faithful coffers would be a few thousand richer.

Dale, no need to read any comments dissing you, you made an educated guess, it didn't turn out. The world didn't end and unfortunately Omicron is still with us. You do write great re-caps.


Delray RICK     January 19
That's why the "COWGIRLS " have been nothing but a 500 team for years. Think if we didn't hire JOHN.

Mike     January 19
Drew and Dale both going in with both barrels on Maryland today. Wowza!

Ray Ray     January 19
#MJ Dale had the courage to make his "prediction" BEFORE the game was over.

MJ     January 18
Dale gonna get crushed in 4......3.......2.......1

Steve of Pimlico     January 18
I don't bet football,but what makes Drews picks any better than anyone else's. I would bet his golf picks as he has a degree of expertise there.

David Rosenfeld     January 18
7 teams in each conference making the playoffs aside, it was still kind of amazing to see the kinds of blowouts we saw.

Did I think the Eagles and Patriots were good teams? No. Was there reason to believe they'd be blitzed like that IMMEDIATELY? No way. And surely the Steelers weren't any good, but they just as surely found ways to stay in games all year.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals are a good team, but I can't imagine they could play worse, including maybe the worst play I've seen a QB make in his end zone. And for all intents and purposes, the Cowboys SHOULD have been blown out.

Howard     January 18
Unless the NY COVID rules change between now and the playoffs, the Nets would be better off finishing 8th in the conference. That way Kyrie will be available for any game 7 (unless they play the Knicks or Raptors)

Pauly Dee     January 18
The Emperor Has No Clothes.



We've been fed this "Get the shots...they're safe...they're effective" junk long enough. Wake up and smell the coffee. I personally know, or know of, over 100 fully vaccinated/boostered up people who have gotten the virus. In addition, scientific journal, The Lancet, and others have published articles showing that the shots don't stop the spread of the virus. And what are the long-term studies showing us of the effects of getting the shots?



On this, Kyrie will be shown on the right side of history. The tyrants of NYC and many others in what used to be known as, "The Land of the Free," will not be.

Chris in Bel Air     January 18
Despite their expanded playoff format and giving opportunities to pretender teams like the Steelers, the NFL does have the 8 best teams now playing to earn a spot in the Super Bowl. Cards started off hot but limped in losing 4 of last 5. Cowboys? Plenty of talent but after all the penalties and that bonehead play on the last drive, they didn't deserve to move on. Raiders were close but just didn't have the offensive horses. All 4 games this weekend are intriguing match-ups. Should be much better games than this past weekend.

unitastoberry     January 18
Another NFL playoff blowout last night. Cardinals folded like a chair in December/January. There QB is not impressive in 3-4 years he's probably working for a living. I hope it gets better next weekend. Cha-Ching!

MFC     January 18
Good weekend for the faithful. Here's the recap of our mythical $1,000/game wager.



YTD ($300)

Wins 4 = $4,000

Lose 2 = ($2,200)

Total = +$1800 hope everyone sends the site owner his wine of choice, you can afford it



YTD = ($300)

week= +$1800

YTD Total +$1500- in the NFL betting that many games this is a WIN





Hope Ramey and the faithful didn't plow it all back in last night.

Just a note I didn't chart the "best bet" of the week.



It would seem to me that the betting faithful didn't like "all" of the picks and went with your own thoughts and prognostication as some have posted of OC weeks that are now paid for. No biggie and congrats but you can't scram from the mountaintop about the picks if you strayed. That's not exactly apples to apples.

Certainly glad you won. If you rode the pony all the way you would be up and those PXG's would be on order. Still time to make a serious dent into Vegas.


aaron     January 17
I bet $5 grand on the Cardinals since Drew was so sure of that pick, I sure hop e they can rally!

Billy     January 17
Hey @Mark, how we doing on that AZ pick tonight??

George     January 17
What odds can I get the Jacksonville Jaguars finish above .500 next year and win at least one playoff game the next year?

snead     January 17
If Billy had the balls to wager he'd be winning $$$ and wouldn't be here crying! LMAO

Mark in Perry Hall     January 17
Has anyone ever lived in someone else's head rent free like @DF lives in @Billy's head? LMFAO.

DJ     January 17
I only bet DF's "Best Bet of the Day" games and wound up plus $1,000 for the season. He was pretty good at those games, FWIW.

Ramey     January 17
Billy, I bet the Best Bet pick every week and would usually pick one other game or sometimes two because that's pretty much what my budget allowed for. I started out at $200 a game and eventually took it to $500 a game. I don't remember exactly which weeks this happened but I went 2-0, 3-0, 2-1 and 3-0 over a 4 week run. I think it was in week 2, 3, 4, 5. It was early in the year I know that. I was up $11,300 at one point but week 16 or 17 I went 0-4. I'm not even sure Drew knows this but he was very good picking AFC West games. I think he went 13-3 according to my calculations.

Billy     January 17
LOL, sure "RAMEY". Did you know ahead of time which pick was a loser, or you bet enough on the others to net such a nice haul??

You faithful crack me up....

Czechm8     January 17
Completely agree with you about the playoffs. 5 games this weekend and 3 were curb stompers. The Eagles and Patriots were out of it early and once the Chiefs got their footing, they ran off 5 TDs in under 12 minutes. But Drew is right: there is no going back with the oligarchs who run the league. A 7th team in each conference is extra revenue in their pockets, which is first and foremost in their planning. The only way it would possibly change is if people stop going to the games and/or viewership numbers, which impact advertising dollars, drops. I see neither happening anytime soon.

Ramey     January 17
I bet real money on Drew's picks and I am $7,800 to the good. I'm happy as I can be to share that info.

kevin     January 17
The "faithful" all crawling out of the world work today. Serious question, why is it ok to post pernicious comments when site owner does well with his picks, but when critics do the same on the inevitable bad weeks, those folks are shouted down and derided as "haters"?

Seems to me both sides should be allowed to crow about their respective views if they so choose. I don't understand either side, as my guess is none of these commenters are truly betting on any of these picks so who cares?? If they are, it seems the MFC scoreboard would tell you how those bets have gone.

Caps definitely struggling with having consistent lineups, but its the NHL, no need to worry about how any team is playing until Mar.




Stats Nerd     January 17
My hot take: Jimmy G is far better than most give him credit for. Dude wins. A lot. Would prefer he not be in a Pitts or Browns jersey

@Chris re: Caps. They have been decimated with injuries/COVID protocol. There certainly is reason to be concerned but I think they likely overachieved initially and perhaps their record is reverting to the mean now. They are really good 5v5 but their PP is hot garbage atm. Also Vitek > Samsonov right now IMO. But Ilya has more upside probably

DF     January 17
Note: There are 16 teams in each conference. Not 15. I forgot the Jaguars and Giants are considered "in the league". Apologies.

jfd23@comcast.net     January 17
I wouldn't be surprised to see Jimmy Garoppolo wearing a Steeler uniform next year.

Chris in Bel Air     January 17
Was hoping the Raiders were going to win, A- because the players have been through a lot this year and was really liking their resolve and B- watching them beat the Bengals would have been nice. But Drew is correct. The Steelers, Eagles and Patriots were not playoff teams and they were exposed as such. Same would have been had the Ravens somehow squeaked in the last week. Sure, Steelers, Eagles and Patriots earned their spot under the current NFL rules. But, the NFL's goal for the playoffs isn't high-level competition. It's all about viewing and money. More teams = more viewing = more money. No doubt they will continue to expand as well and keep rewarding more mediocre teams with a playoff spot.

Drew, any concerns growing with the Caps? They have lost 5 of last 6 and are 7-10 over last 17. Just a little mid-season slump that is normal part of the ebb and flow of a season or something more telling of them?

MFC     January 17
@JK, the recap comes at the end of the weekend with no games remaining, I think there's a game tonight at least the site owner has picked a winner for tonight so I'm sure there's one. Reading comprehension wasn't taught where you went to school? Hopefully it was not Calvert Hall, this was posted Saturday, "and it was a great start to the weekend for the faithful. Right now out of the hole, good luck."



Speaking of Calvert Hall congrats to Lou Eckerel on his announced retirement. We were combatants in high school and both stayed involved with sports. He is a really good man and outstanding coach and athletic director. I wish him well in his retirement, he's earned it.



Please get me out of your head trust me I'm not worth it.


James     January 17
Like "TimD", I had a profitable weekend thanks to Drew. Appreciate the "site owner" coming through! ha ha ha

If my math is correct Drew is now 51-44 picking games. I wonder what the peanut gallery thinks about that?

JK     January 17
4-1 for @DF yesterday and crickets from @MFC and @Billy and the rest of the doubting Thomas types. Poor sports.

unitastoberry     January 17
The mediocre football league MFL was on full display this weekend. Extra playoff teams and the 17 game season made for several run the score up games. Playoff series are for elite teams not mediocre teams. I was pretty glad at the outcome with NE, Cowgirls,Eagles,and Stillers all going home. It was a good year to root against PA teams which I always do and promises to get worse next year including Penn Pedo St getting butt kicked and signing their loser coach to a 10 year deal in UnHappy Valley. I don't care who wins now just hope they are all clutch games to the finish.

TimD in Timonium     January 17
Yesterday's Bucs / Niners / Chiefs parlay turned out pretty well. Thanks, @DF.

Eric in Gaithersburg     January 17
CJ- How am i backtracking? When did i say Manning would win with these scrubs. Of course its the players, recruited by lousy coach.

Bradley     January 16
So if one were a twitter follower- 49ers went from epic loss to NFC championship? Great insight!

Chris     January 16
Check that GM. Drew is now 4-1 ATS and 5-0 on the ML.

Stats Nerd     January 16
Mike McCarthy doing Mike McCarthy things. Nature is healing

Gm     January 16
@DF 3-1 ATS and 4-0 on the ML. Haters gotta be sick.

Billy     January 16
@MFC The faithful too busy allowing @Kevin to live in their heads lol....

MFC     January 16
Surprised the faithful didn't catch my mistake a rare mistake by them. I was wrong the DMD big bettors are not up $1,000 YTD they are actually down ($300).



Sorry for the error but also proves to the faithful that I'm not exactly hanging on every game and it was a great start to the weekend for the faithful. Right now out of the hole, good luck.

Jerryh     January 16
I was thinking the same thing as "KJ".

Tuesday
January 18, 2022
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2703


tuesday stuff


Well, I'm halfway there.

You might recall back in early September when I made my NFL predictions here at #DMD that I had the Los Angeles Rams in the Super Bowl.

They were supposed to meet...the Baltimore Ravens.

One half of that equation is still alive and well after the Rams dismantled the Cardinals in L.A. last night, 34-11. The Ravens, of course, won't be going to SoFi Stadium in mid-February for the big game, but the Rams just might. They were very impressive last night in their win over Arizona.

Matthew Stafford won his first-ever playoff game last night for the L.A. Rams.

I'll wait until this Saturday to make my picks for this weekend's four NFL playoff games, but I have a feeling the Rams are going to be a tough out for Tampa Bay on Sunday. I realize Los Angeles still has Matthew Stafford at quarterback and he's capable of producing a stinker at any time -- regular season or playoffs -- but that Los Angeles defense is fierce. If ever there was a tonic to beat Tom Brady in the post-season, the Rams just might have it.

The Cardinals, meanwhile, authored one of the more heartless post-season performances in recent history last night in that 34-11 defeat to the Rams. How they went 8-1 on the road in 2021 is anyone's guess.

I joked on Twitter that Kyler Murray was coming out for the third quarter with a new sticker on the back of his helmet: "End Turnovers". He was terrible and the rest of the Cardinals weren't much better.

There's widespread speculation that Kliff Kingsbury might be out as the head coach in Arizona after another season of big-hype-meets-big-disappointment. I don't know if that's the answer out there in the Valley of the Sun, but I imagine Kingsbury wouldn't stay unemployed for long if he gets the boot from the Cardinals. Someone would scoop him up as their new offensive coordinator -- if not their new head coach -- in a flash.


In case you missed it last week, the Orioles are changing the dimensions of the left wall at Camden Yards for the 2022 season. We chimed in about here when it was announced and pretty much thought it was a nothing-burger. "The left field fence is getting expanded by roughly 30 feet." OK, yeah, so? Who cares...

A lot of people apparently care. Why, I'm not sure. But folks around town erupted when the team revealed a sneak peek of what the left and center field fencing will look like when the renovations are complete in mid-March.

Here's what the new left field configurations will look like at Camden Yards (with the old wall outlined as well).

I don't get it.

It's a baseball stadium. It sits there. You go watch baseball in the stadium. Who really cares what it looks like?

I've seen threats on social media from folks who say they're turning in their tickets, no longer going to games, signing petitions and so on.

You mean the team routinely losing 100 games a year doesn't make you stop going to the ballpark or make you sign a petition but the stadium dimensions will? #clownshoes

Maybe I've just bought too much stock in Mike Elias, but if moving the fences somehow equates to the Orioles getting better players, which then translates to the team winning more games down the road, I say "move the fences, please." I have no idea if the ploy will work, by the way, but I also know -- as we've seen from the O's since 2017 or so -- that not having good players on the team doesn't work.

The outcry from the sentimentalists about the "beauty of the ballpark" being wrecked is hilarious. Who cares what it looks like? They're apparently taking the 13th hole at Augusta National and turning it from a 520 yard par-5 to a 560 yard par-5 in an effort to keep today's players from hitting 6 irons into the green and making eagles galore. Fair enough. I happen to think the hole is fine just the way it is, but it's not my course.

By the way, if anyone reading this is upset about the change to the 13th hole and wants to sell their tickets in protest, you can reach out to me. I'll take 'em off your hands.

As someone who has been a ticket plan holder at Camden Yards in 8 of the last 12 years, I can say without hesitation the way the left field wall looks (and plays) has no bearing or impact on me at all. I couldn't care less.

Just get the team good again, please. That's all that matters to me.

That's all that should matter to anyone in Baltimore, actually.


Because I get interested in weird sports stories when the Ravens are no longer part of the landscape, I've been following along with the Kyrie Irving saga in Brooklyn, where he continues to miss Nets' home games because he has not yet received the Covid-19 vaccination.

The story has taken a new twist in recent days with the news that Brooklyn's Kevin Durant will miss 4-to-6-weeks with a knee injury. The Nets are in 3rd place in the Eastern Conference at 27-16 but the 7th place team (Charlotte) is not far behind at 24-20. In other words, one bad two-week stretch of basketball could send the Nets tumbling down the standings.

Irving is now under even more pressure to get the vaccination. With Durant out for at least a month, Brooklyn will play home games without two of their best players as long as Kyrie remains vaccine-free. Last night after Brooklyn lost at Cleveland, 114-107, Irving remained steadfast in his decision to not get vaccinated.

"It's (the decision to remain unvaccinated) not going to be swayed just because of one thing in this NBA life," Irving told reporters after the game, where he led the Nets with 27 points. "That somehow it's brought to my attention as being more important than what's going on in the real world. It's just not happening for me. Again, I respect everyone else's decision, I'm not going to ever try to convince anyone of anything or any of that, I'm just standing rooted in what I believe in. And though we're dealing with this right now with Kev, I just know that I'm protected by the organization, I'm protected by my teammates, I'm protected by all the doctors I've talked to. And I just stand rooted."

Irving continued: "You're bringing my vaccination status into a basketball game, and I live my life, the majority of the time, when I'm away from this. So when I say I'm not getting vaccinated and I'm making a choice with my life, somehow it gets mixed into, 'Well, what about the basketball?' When it's like no, bro. We live in a real world. It's great to be able to do this. I'm grateful for the opportunity. I love being with my teammates. I love playing on the Nets, but I've already been away enough time to think about this, to process it, to be able to make this decision, stand strong, understand that people are gonna agree and some people are gonna disagree."

I read Ayn Rand's Fountainhead a while back and got roughly halfway through before I realized I had no idea what I was reading. I got about three sentences into that statement by Irving (above) and realized I had no idea what he was trying to say.

Here's what I figure: Irving can stand "rooted" in his decision to not go to work for his employer for one reason: he already has enough money that if they somehow fire him, he's still good. It's really that simple. I mean, I respect the fact he's staying true to the cause and staying "rooted" as he says, but let's not kid ourselves here. A "normal American" doesn't make $35 million a year.

If Irving doesn't play a home game this season, he stands to lose somewhere around $17 million or so. That's tough. Except he's already made six times that much in his career. When you can "afford" to lose $17 million in order to "stay rooted", it's the money that's causing the problem, not the vaccine.

Part of the blame goes on the city of New York, of course, for mandating that all professional athletes playing in New York City get the Covid-19 vaccination. They're just asking for a story like this to brew and circulate. Does ever banker or Wall Street investor have to get the vaccine? Don't they travel as well? Take ski trips? Business trips? Come on, man.

But the biggest chunk of the blame goes on the contrast between how much money Irving has made in his career and the losses he takes, financially, when he doesn't report for work.

If you make $100,000 a year developing widgets and your company says "get the vaccine or don't come to work and don't get paid", my guess is you're either getting the vaccine or finding a new job where the vaccine isn't mandated. What I doubt you'd do, though, is say, "You know what, I'm good...I'll just stay home and you can keep my $100,000."

Irving can afford to stand his ground because he makes $425,000 per-game.

And for all the blustering about science and being "protected" and all that other stuff, the reality is $425,000 to Kyrie Irving is like $45.00 to you and I.

We haven't even touched on the subject of Irving being "fair" to his employer and the team and the players. It seems like that should be talked about more, but it's not. Covid-19 has a way of masking a lot of the stories that we should be examining.

Meanwhile, what's another $425,000 gone by the wayside?

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dale williams aims the
terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his seventh season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2021-2022 season.


terps visit struggling michigan tonight


A letter to Ken Pomeroy (of kenpom.com fame). “Dear Mr. Pomeroy, by what metrics can Michigan possibly be your #31 team in the country? Yes, they have played some tough teams, but they lost every one of those battles, most of them by significant margins. They have no quality wins, unless you count their victory over a San Diego State team that didn’t have all of their pieces. They are 1-3 in the Big Ten and just 9-9 overall. Please help me understand.”

This Wolverine team Maryland faces tonight (7 pm) bears little resemblance to the stout Michigan teams of the last few years. Livers, Wagner, Smith, and Brown all are gone from the Michigan squad that won the conference regular season championship last year. Coach Juwan Howard has been unable to replace their production on both ends of the court.

Can Maryland limit Michigan's big man, Hunter Dickinson, tonight?

As a team, Michigan does not excel in any particular aspect of the game, but what they do have is size. Star center, Hunter Dickinson, is a legitimate 7 footer who might be the best back-to-the-basket big man in the conference. The sophomore is most likely playing his last season of college ball, as I expect him to get his name called in the next NBA draft. He plays big (260 lbs) and is also sneaky long. With nearly a 60% shooting percentage, if I’m coaching this team, Dickinson gets a touch on the low blocks on every possession. I’d let him take 30 shots a game if teams failed to double team him. He’s a very efficient scorer.

At 6’11”, freshman forward Moussa Diabate has a lot to offer, but also a lot to learn. He’s the biggest starting “4” man in the league. He’s not a threat once he’s away from the basket, but he’s a consistent rebounder and can score inside. A recent starter, his game needs more seasoning, and strength, for him to get the most out of his almost 7-foot, but only 210-pound frame.

Another freshman, Caleb Houstan, is long and athletic, but has yet to show he’s a consistent shooter. He’ll hustle, scrap, play defense, and hit the occasional corner three. After Dickinson at 16 and Eli Brooks at 12.5, Houstan is the Wolverines third leading score (9.2).

Brooks and Devante Jones handle the back court duties for Michigan. I’d characterize their games as solid but unspectacular. Jones hits almost 50% of his threes, but he has games where he rarely shoots the ball. Maryland will need to play him tight. When he gets rolling, he can score in bunches. He’s hit 8 of his last 10 three-pointers.

Brooks is the leader of this team, logging a team high 34.5 minutes per game. He makes about 90% of his foul shots, so keeping him away from the rim, where he can draw fouls and go to the line, is paramount. He’s a tough competitor and provides needed senior leadership.

To contain the Michigan offense, the Terps need to focus on stopping Dickinson. He’s going to get 16-20 points, but you can’t let him get 25 or more. Double teams on his low post-ups are a necessity. He also likes to quickly catch and shoot if you give him enough space and he’s facing the hoop. The key here is to give him absolutely no space to get off this shot. Dickinson shoots a very flat-footed jumper, with no lift at all, and can easily be defended by either of the Terp big men as long as they stay directly in his face. Give him zero room to shoot those little shots, even the occasional three-pointer.

I’m not impressed with this Michigan roster. They’ll play 9 guys, and they all have some talent, but other than Dickinson, there’s no real standouts. They play aggressive defense, but it’s usually in spurts. Maryland can score on this bunch.

I can’t see how Eli Brooks is going to stay in front of Maryland’s Fatts Russell. The Terp point guard gets past the faster Big Ten defenders, and Brooks isn’t one of those. This is a tough assignment for Brooks, and he’s going to need some help from off the ball. This will leave Terps open around the perimeter when Russell isn’t getting to the rim.

Ayala will most likely draw Jones. Ayala is a big 6’5” guard while Jones checks in at 6’1”. Knowing how Ayala likes to bull his way though smaller defenders, this is a good situation for him. If he can hit threes also, he can have a big night.

Another advantage for the Terps will be Donta Scott against the young Diabate. Like last year when the Terps went 5-wide, Scott can beat his Wolverine counterpart off of the dribble. Scott will run into Dickinson once he gets inside, so look for more assists than usual from the Terp 4-man.

The Hart/Houstan match-up is interesting in that Houstan is naturally more athletic, but Hart’s experience should more than compensate. I see no real advantage here for either team.

As you’ve probably figured out, I think Maryland can compete and even win this game tonight. Vegas doesn’t agree with me however, as Michigan came out as an early 6.5-point favorite. I think that number is more a reflection of what the books feel is the bettor’s perception of Michigan, the basketball school, and not necessarily this team.

So much has to go right for Michigan to win this game. They have to shoot lights out, and force the Terps to turn it over. Maryland needs to contain Dickinson, play straight up on the other Michigan offensive players, and body-up on the defensive boards.

I’ll go out on a limb here and say not only do the Terps cover, but they win this game and move up a notch in the Big Ten standings. I see a 71-65 finish with Maryland owning the “71”.

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RANDY MORGAN
on American soccer


Americans are playing more and more of a vital role in international soccer these days, and Randy Morgan has his eyes on all of them for #DMD. Each Tuesday here, he looks at recent performances of American players and highlights upcoming games of importance.


u.s. men's soccer report

This week several of the top USMNT players made contributions in the biggest games around Europe. A couple of young American attackers jumped into action for new teams in Germany and England. Meanwhile, several lingering injuries are a big concern for the fast approaching next round of World Cup qualifiers.

Stock Up

Once again Weston McKennie headlines the report with another strong week for Juventus. The Texan started both the midweek 2-1 loss to Inter Milan in the Italian Super Cup and the weekend 2-0 victory over Udinese in Serie A. McKennie scored similar headed goals in each game, putting Juventus up 1-0 in the first half against Inter Milan and putting the game out of reach at 2-0 against Udinese. Unfortunately Juventus squandered the lead in the Super Cup and fell to an agonizing last second overtime goal from Alexis Sanchez.

In addition to the goals, McKennie delivered some outstanding hustle plays in defense and flashed some nice passing vision in midfield. He has been pushing a little more into attack over the last month than earlier in the season and has been one of the best players on the field for Juventus. With several key attackers likely missing for the US in January, McKennie’s ability to attack the goal from midfield could be crucial.

American Tyler Adams figures to play a key role for the U.S. when they resume World Cup qualifying later this month.

After his disappointing suspension from the US team in September, McKennie has bounced back to produce one of the best seasons an American midfielder has ever played in a top European league. After going the full 120 minutes midweek and another full 90 at the weekend, it would be nice if McKennie could get a little rest before heading into the qualifiers at the end of the month.

Another important starter with a big week for his club was Antonee Robinson. The American left back delivered two strong performances in a dominant week for Fulham, who thrashed Reading 7-0 and then followed up with a 6-2 win over Bristol City. Robinson delivered an assist in the first game and was solid all around in both. Fulham is currently in great position for promotion to the Premier League, sitting at the top of the English Championship, two points ahead of second place Bournemouth with a game in hand.

In Germany, Tyler Adams had another good performance for RB Leipzig in a much needed 2-0 win over Stuttgart, which pulled Leipzig to within three points of the Champions League places. Adams was a key part in the shutout, providing a stout defensive presence with several timely interceptions and ball recoveries. He delivered a pretty through ball late in the game that nearly set up a goal as well.

Elsewhere in the Bundesliga, Ricardo Pepi got his first start for Augsburg in just his second game with the team. The teenage striker looked comfortable in his new settings, getting in dangerous positions multiple times but not quite hitting the back of the net. He did score a goal on a counter attack but it was called back for a foul by his teammate. He demonstrated his ability to drop back and facilitate attacks with a clean settle and lay off in the build up to the first Augsburg goal. If he continues to build on his first two Bundesliga performances he should be the favorite to start at striker for the US.

Joe Scally made a solid substitute appearance for Borussia Monchengladbach in his return from being sidelined with Covid. He was sharp passing the ball and nearly got a game tying goal with a skillful trap and shot in the box forcing a tough one handed save from the keeper. Gladbach scored on the ensuing corner but couldn’t find an equalizer and fell 2-1 to Bayer Leverkusen.

John Brooks also delivered a strong defensive performance in a 0-0 draw for Wolfsburg against Hertha Berlin. The veteran center back won 11 of 12 duels and 4 of 5 aerial battles. He has maintained his spot in the team despite a midseason slump and looks like a good candidate to return to the US at the end of the month.

Daryl Dike made his debut for his new team West Bromwich in the English Championship with a short substitute appearance. A quick integration into the team could put Dike on the radar for the January qualifier roster.


Stock Down

It was a tough week for young American midfielders Tanner Tessmann and Gianluca Busio at Venezia. The team was knocked out of the Italian Cup with a 2-0 loss to Atalanta on Wednesday and then drew 1-1 at home with Empoli on Sunday in Serie A.

Tessmann started both games but struggled to make an impact and was subbed off in the weekend game after just 30 minutes. Busio did not get on the field for the cup match and only saw a late substitute appearance against Empoli. Venezia has brought in former Bayern Munich midfielder, Michael Cuisance, in the January transfer window, as well as Portuguese attacker Nani. The new additions will provide more competition for minutes for the two young Americans, especially as Venezia battle to avoid relegation.

There was some disappointing injury news for the USMNT this week, as Borussia Dortmund coach Marco Rose said that Gio Reyna is not expected to return until after the international break in late January. This makes it nearly certain he will not participate in the upcoming qualifiers for the US. In addition, Tim Weah remained sidelined for Lille this weekend, making him a long shot to recover in time for the qualifiers as well.


Stock Even

Christian Pulisic got another start for Chelsea in the top game in the Premier League this week. The Hershey, PA native went 68 minutes as an attacking midfielder in the 1-0 loss to Manchester City. He had some good moments in the first half but generally struggled to make an impact as Chelsea was limited in possession and created few chances. The loss further distanced Man City at the top of the table and ended any realistic chances at a title run for Chelsea this season.

In a last bit of news, another teenage American secured a move overseas. 18 year old FC Dallas defender, Justin Che, is joining fellow US defender Chris Richards at Hoffenheim in Germany. This is a big opportunity for Che, who will be a key piece on the US U20 team this summer.

JERRY'S TOYOTA banner
Open Again
Monday
January 17, 2022
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2702


that went exactly as we thought


Those six team parlays aren't the easiest thing in the world to hit, but #DMD is on the verge of connecting on one if the Cardinals do their job tonight in L.A. against the Rams.

You know me. Just send along a bottle of Insignia or Silver Oak if you're looking to show your appreciation. Just make sure the Silver Oak is the one from Napa Valley, not Alexander Valley. Thanks.

Speaking of showing appreciation, I thought NBC did a nice job last night of not beating us over the head with Ben Roethlisberger's retirement story.

Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth obviously mentioned it and there were a few graphics and highlights along the way -- particularly once the score reached 35-7 and the outcome was decided -- but it felt like a playoff game and not a tribute to the Steelers' QB for the most part.

Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs ended the 18-year career of Ben Roethlisberger last night as Kansas City pounded the Steelers, 42-21.

Roethlisberger's season ended last night. I assume his career did as well, although it's interesting to note he hasn't formally announced his retirement yet.

Is it possible he'd put on another uniform, a la Philip Rivers, if a desperate team like Denver, Houston or the Washington Commanders called and offered him a starting gig? I can't see that happening, but I do know it's tough for those guys to walk away even when their skill set has declined.

Meanwhile, the Steelers are, now, officially "done" for the next couple of years. That is, unless they go out and somehow coax a legitimate QB to the Steel City. If they start the '22 season with Wilson, Rodgers or Watson at the helm, that's a different story. Those three could step in and keep the engine purring nicely in Pittsburgh.

But if Pittsburgh goes to Rudolph or Haskins or brings in a NFL re-tread, they're cooked. The guess here is the Steelers try to draft a stud QB and start the rebuilding process the right way, but we won't know that until April.

Once my team is either not playing in the playoffs or has been eliminated from the post-season, I tend not to do a whole lot of rooting against the rival teams. But it was enjoyable watching Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs pound the Chiefs into submission last night.

When the score reached 35-7 in the third quarter, it dawned on me that in the last two years, the Steelers trailed a playoff game by that exact score. Last January, the Browns were up 35-7 on them in Pittsburgh, remember. That's a good lottery number to play in Pennsylvania today/tonight, eh? 3-5-7.

Editor's note: I should admit, though, that even with the Capitals out of the playoffs, I always root against the Flyers in the playoffs. Then again, the Flyers don't get there very often, so I need not worry about that. Carry on...


So, the playoffs have gone just as we thought thus far. The only wagering loss we've suffered came in Sunday's early game, where the Eagles were just totally outclassed by the Buccaneers, 31-15. Other than that, we've nailed the playoff games thus far. Again, I prefer Insignia or Silver Oak for those wanting to show their appreciation.

The game of the day on Sunday was in Dallas, where the 49'ers tried their best to give away a win the Cowboys weren't interested in taking. But Dallas couldn't play the final 14 seconds smartly and San Fran held on for a 23-17 that sends them to Green Bay next Saturday night for a date with Aaron Rodgers and the 1-seed Packers.

Dak Prescott and the Cowboys endured another home playoff loss on Sunday, falling 23-17 to the 49'ers.

You probably know what happened by now, but let's offer commentary nonetheless. The Cowboys trailed by six and got the ball on their own 20 with no timeouts and 32 seconds remaining in the game. The 49'ers, for reasons only they know, then allowed Dallas to catch three straight passes near the sideline and run out of bounds each time to stop the clock.

Here's where it got fun.

The Cowboys had the ball on the 49'ers 41 yard line with 14 seconds left. There was plenty of time to throw two balls into the end zone, perhaps hoping for a miracle catch or a pass interference call. Either way, two plays were available, at least.

Instead, Dak Prescott took off running on a designed play, scooting up the middle of the field and running for 17 yards. But by the time he hit the turf and the bodies started unpiling, only 8 seconds remained in the game.

Prescott and the offensive line tried to get settled so he could spike the ball before the game clock expired, but the official has to touch the ball before it's snapped in order to "start the play" and when all of that couldn't take place within 8 seconds, the game was over.

Somehow, people tried to blame the official for that whole fiasco.

When teams gather in August to start preparing for the upcoming season, one of the things they diligently work on is the end-of-game 2-minute drill. Rule #1 of the two-minute drill: after each play, get the ball to the official so he can put it down and start the next play. That's literally the first rule to know if you're an offensive player. You can't start the play yourself. The official must put the ball down on the line of scrimmage to start the play.

The Cowboys ran three plays in 18 seconds, then took 14 seconds to run one play. And that's the fault of the referee?

Oh, and the ONLY thing you couldn't do with 14 seconds left was run a play that kept you in bounds, somehow. Do anything else but do not stay in bounds. The officials are to blame for that sequence?

Can you imagine the outcry in Baltimore if that exact sequence happened to Lamar Jackson and the Ravens and that's how John Harbaugh's team lost a playoff game? "Oh my", as the great Dick Enberg to say.

The Cowboys have no one to blame but themselves. They did the only thing you couldn't do with 14 seconds left in the game. Oh, and if Dak would have run for, say, 10 yards, and then gone to the ground, he and the Cowboys probably would have had enough time for the whole process to play itself out. But running for 17 yards took too much time.

I'm just glad that didn't happen to the Ravens. The folks in Baltimore would have had the entire organization terminated by midnight.


The other white elephant in the room is the 7-team playoff system the NFL created in 2020. We're not dealing with a huge body of work here, but the 7-seed "thing" is pretty much a joke.

Not one 7-seed has won, yet, and only last year's Colts-Bills game (won by Buffalo, 27-24) was even remotely close.

Both 7-seeds were in action yesterday and neither Philly or Pittsburgh looked like they were capable of competing. It's fair to point out, of course, that the Los Angeles Chargers coulda, shoulda, woulda made the post-season and the Raiders would have then gone to K.C. yesterday, but Las Vegas might have lost 42-21 as well. Who knows?

Here's what we do know: 7 teams out of 15 making the playoffs is too many. It lends itself -- as the data shows -- to blow out results.

Also keep this in mind: There will be an 18-game regular season in the NFL at some point in the not-too-distant-future.

And when that happens, you can almost feel it coming: 8 teams from each conference make the post-season instead of 7 teams. That will require everyone to play instead of creating first week byes, unless you give the #1 seed a "double bye" like they do in the Big Ten basketball tournament. Otherwise, all teams will have to play right from the get-go, which the NFL would probably like since it -- wait for it -- adds more games and more TV revenue to the coffers.

I guess the league could expand to 18 games and go back to only six playoff teams making it from each conference, but the NFL doesn't do a whole lot of "going back" if you look at their history. The guess here is they play 17 games again in '22 and then, by '23, they're at 18 games, two pre-season games, and either 7 or 8 playoff teams.

Right now -- the 7 team playoff concept just isn't working. At least not from a competitive standpoint, anyway.

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a 277-yard 3-wood? sure...


Russell Henley held a 2-shot lead going into Sunday's final round of the SONY Open in Hawaii, then posted a 65 yesterday for a 23-under-par total.

The former University of Georgia star shot 62-63-67-65 for four days.

Hideki Matsuyama capped off a superb final round 63 with an eagle on the first playoff hole to win the SONY Open yesterday.

But Henley didn't win.

That's because Hideki Matsuyama shot a final round 63, then made eagle on the first playoff hole, to win the tournament.

"These guys are good", as the famous PGA Tour marketing slogan once said.

Henley's final round 65 featured one bogey (#11) and one other small blemish -- he couldn't birdie the benign finishing hole, a par-5 that he could have reached with an iron had he hit a decent drive either on the final hole of regulation or the first playoff hole.

He had 10 feet for the win on the 72nd hole and narrowly missed his winning birdie putt, which sent Henley and Matsuyama (who hit the green in two and two-putted from 70 feet for a tying birdie) back to the 18th tee for a sudden death playoff.

In that playoff, Henley again missed the fairway to the right (in a bunker) while Matsuyama played it safe off the tee with a 3-wood that left him 277 yards to the pin.

On course announcer Notah Begay summed up Matsuyama's shot by saying, "He can definitely reach the green from here, maybe with a hybrid or 3-wood."

I giggled when Begay said that. "Come on, man. He has 277 yards to the hole. You're acting like he has an 8-iron into the green," I muttered to myself.

It turned out that Matsuyama hit the shot like he did have an 8-iron in his hand. He smashed a 3-wood straight up in the air and it bounded into the green some 25 feet from the flag and rolled out nicely to about 4 feet. Henley made a mess of the hole and wound up missing a 7-footer for par. Matsuyama took the sting out of Henley's poor play by rolling in the winning eagle putt and that was that.

The 29-year old Japanese star, who won last April's Masters for his first major victory on TOUR, has long been one of the game's best ball strikers. It's always been his putting that has held him back. But putting was his strength at the SONY, where he led the field in strokes gained: putting. If he has indeed "found something" with the flat stick, 2022 could be a monster year for Matsuyama.

Henley, meanwhile, will remember he shot 65 on Sunday and lost ground en-route to losing a golf tournament that looked all but wrapped up. He had a 5-shot lead standing on the 10th tee yesterday, but failed to make a birdie on the back nine.

Matsuyama stepped on the gas with four back-nine birdies and then hit the best 270 yard three wood you'll see for a long time. Those guys are good, for sure.

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January 16, 2022
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#2701


a tough saturday


Not every Saturday is a good one.

Such was the case for three teams yesterday, all of whom didn't see their weekend get off to a rousing start.

Maryland basketball.

Bill Belichick's Patriots got boatraced by Buffalo last night in their playoff opener, 47-17.

Bill Belichick and the Patriots.

And the officiating crew in the Cincinnati-Las Vegas NFL playoff game.

It's hard to figure out who actually got the worst of it.

Maryland led Rutgers by 11 points at halftime yesterday. And lost. You know Rutgers, they're the team that got beat by Lafayette earlier this season. You probably know Lafayette lost to our own Loyola University this season. Rutgers also beat #1 ranked Purdue, too, so it's quite clear they're as topsy-turvy as they come.

The Terps were coming off of a thrilling double OT win over Northwestern on Wednesday night and looked like maybe, just maybe, they had found something out there in Evanston, Illinois. And when they ran out to an 11-point point lead at the intermission yesterday, there was reason for some modest excitement.

"This is the best basketball we've seen from the Terps this season!" radio play-by-play man Johnny Holiday beamed during the halftime recap. "Could Maryland be starting to turn things around?"

Sadly, Johnny, that's a "no".

Dale Williams handles all the heavy lifting of the disappointing loss in his game recap below, but we're just here to throw a Maryland log on the fire as we discuss a forgettable Saturday for Danny Manning and his team.

Somewere yesterday, Mark Turgeon watched the second half of the Terps' home meltdown and said to a friend, "I think I'll take that cigar now."

But did Maryland have it worse than Belichick and his Patriots?

I'm not sure.

Buffalo scored a touchdown on their first seven drives of the game, setting a new record in the Super Bowl era, and the Bills went on to crush the visiting Patriots 47-17 last night.

The Bills were up 40-10 with ten minutes left and were still throwing the ball downfield like they were Uncle Rico in the movie Napoleon Dynamite.

There was clearly no let-up in Sean McDermott or the Bills on Saturday. They were going for a 50-burger if they could have reached it.

You never know what goes through a coach's mind in circumstances like that. McDermott apparently eschewed conventional wisdom and decided to keep trying to pile on even though he had to figure the guy across the field wasn't too pleased about it.

I joked on Twitter in the waning moments of last night's game that Belichick's first order of business in the locker room would be scrapping his summer vacation in mid-July.

"No one runs up the score on me," Belichick would say. "I'll spend every waking minute this summer devising a plan to beat McDermott twice next season."

In all seriousness, Belichick is actually one of the few NFL coaches who doesn't care about the other team piling on in the final few minutes of a blowout. For starters, he did it a lot himself in the old days when he had Tom Brady at quarterback. And second, he understands that NFL coaches wire their players to play the entire 60 minutes. It's hard to tell those 53 guys to suddenly turn it off with five minutes to go in a 47-17 game.

But I'm sure Belichick wasn't pleased to see last night's game get out of hand in the 4th quarter. His New England defense had no answers for Josh Allen, Dawson Knox and anyone else the Bills threw at them.

It's been a long time since the Patriots were embarrassed like that in a game that matters. They weren't very good last season, of course, but they had Cam Newton at quarterback and no one expected much from them in their first season without Brady. This year, though, they were a good team, albeit with a rookie quarterback. It's one thing to lose. It's another to get run out of the gym.

The two Bills-Patriots games in 2022 should be fun. Sunday Night Football worthy, I'm assuming.

But just when you thought the Terps and Belichick had it bad, along comes another group who suffered through an embarrassing afteroon.

Jerome Boger and his officiating crew became part of the narrative of the Bengals 26-19 playoff win over the Raiders after they botched a rules interpretation and misfired on several other calls that impacted the game.

In fairness to Boger's group, they offered a reasonable explanation of the situation that took place late in the second quarter, where Joe Burrow connected with Tyler Boyd for a 10-yard touchdown pass that gave Cincy a 20-6 lead.

But "reasonable explanation" probably doesn't cut it if you're the Raiders.

A second or so before Burrow threw the ball to Boyd, one of the on-field officials (the post-game explanation didn't say which one) inadvertenly blew his whistle. By rule, the play should have ended at that moment. But the crew either didn't pick up on it in the moment or didn't realize what the rule was; either way, they allowed the TD to count.

After the game, the officiating crew (through a designated spokesman) said they believed the timing of the erroneous whistle was such that the play was essentially over when the whistle blew and there was no need to disallow the TD completion. Right or wrong, they apparently disregarded the rule (or didn't know it existed and then created an explanation in the aftermath) and gave Cincinnati a touchdown they might not have deserved.

There were other moments of misfortune for Boger's crew on Saturday, including a fairly obvious uncalled pass interference penalty on Ja'Marr Chase that helped the Bengals score a TD and a horrendous roughing-the-passing call on a Bengals defensive player who so barely crazed the helmet of Derek Carr that a feather would have done more damage.

But the inadvertent whistle mistake was the one that left everyone howling on Saturday, including bettors who had the Raiders plus 5.5 points.

We've been saying this for a while now, but with gambling becoming more and more prevalent in the NFL (and all sports) in 2022 and beyond, the league has to figure out a way to upgrade and improve the officiating. Sure, mistakes happen, but these days it still seems like too many of them are taking place in situations of importance.

Not everyone had it bad on Saturday, though.

#DMD handed out two more football winners to the masses yesterday, so hopefully you got that parlay in and made a little spending money.

Russell Henley (third round 68) maintained his lead at the Sony Open in Hawaii, as Henley owns a 2-shot edge over Hideki Matsuyama. Henley enters today's final round at 18-under par.

And the Washington Capitals got back on the winning track with a 2-0 win over the New York Islanders yesterday. Alex Ovechkin notched his 25th goal of the season in the win.

Not all was bad on Saturday.

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terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his seventh season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2021-2022 season.


terps fall at home to rutgers, 70-59


Ron Harper Jr. and the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers (4-2,10-6), stepped on the second half gas yesterday, erasing an 11-point halftime deficit and pulling away to an 11-point win, 70-59 in College Park.

Harper Jr. notched 20 of his game high 31 points in the second half, going 5 for 5 from the three-point line.

The Terps built their 11-point first half margin by going 13-15 from the foul line. In the second half, the Terps shot just 4 free throws and went 7 for 28 from the field, totaling a measly 21 second half points.

Eric Ayala's 13 points weren't nearly enough for the Terps on Saturday as they fell at home to Rutgers.

Eric Ayala paced the Terps with 13 points, but only three of those came in the second half. Ayala made just 5 of 15 shots for the game.

Maryland had no answer for Harper Jr. Donta Scott had little chance of defending him, and Xavier Green didn’t fare too well, either.

Harper made 10 of his 16 shots, including 6 of 8 from the three-point line. His points inside the three-point arc came from aggressively going to the hoop or powerfully backing down his defender. It was an impressive showing by the son of former NBA stalwart, Ron Harper Sr. Harper Sr. played 16 seasons and picked up 5 NBA championships.

A huge disparity in shots made from the foul line enabled the Terps to carry a 38-27 lead into the locker room at halftime. Maryland went to the line 15 times in the opening 20 minutes, hitting an impressive 13 of those shots. The Scarlet Knights didn’t score from the charity stripe in the first half, attempting just one free throw. The other glaring stat saw Rutgers turn over the ball 11 times compared to just 5 for the Terrapins.

Eric Ayala had an early hot hand for Maryland, scoring eight points in the first 5 minutes, including back-to-back threes. He and Hakim Hart accounted for all 13 of the Terp points as they raced out to a quick 9-point lead, 13-4.

Rutgers would claw back and actually secured a 21-20 lead at the 8:30 mark before Maryland closed the first half with an 18-6 run. Half of those Terrapin points came from the foul line.

Ron Harper Jr. was the onlyearly scoring threat for Rutgers, going 5-10 from the field for 11 points. With the exception of the foul shots and turnovers, the rest of the halftime stats were remarkably similar. Each team had 15 rebounds, 16 points in the paint, and 3 triples.

Maryland started the 2nd half hitting just 1 of their first 6 shots while committing 3 turnovers, allowing Rutgers to cut the Terp lead to just 4, 40-36 with only 5 minutes played. By the 9:14 mark, Rutgers had a 49-45 lead courtesy of consecutive threes by Harper Jr. By that time the Terps were 3 of 13 from the floor and had 6 turnovers. The wheels were seemingly coming off.

But Maryland answered with two three pointers of their own to reclaim a two-point lead. The first triple was courtesy of Scott and the second came from Ayala in the right corner. Maryland led 51-49 and there was 7:06 left in the game.

But Harper Jr. wasn’t finished his long-range bombing, connecting on two more 3’s less than a minute apart, putting Rutgers up by 4.

Buckets by Fatts Russell and Julian Reese tied the game at 55 with 3:22 remaining. At that point, it appeared like the home crowd would be witnessing another legitimate nail biter. It wasn’t to be. A 15-5 Scarlet Knight run ended the contest and delivered another loss for the Terrapins.

Perhaps the biggest shot of the final three minutes was the second chance three pointer by Paul Mulcahy which increased the Rutgers lead to 5 points with 2:17 left. It came after Geo Baker rebounded his own missed three-point attempt. The Terps never threatened from that point on as they fell to 0-3 at home in conference play.

Mulcahy played a very heady floor game. He scored 15 timely points, recorded 6 rebounds, 2 steals and a block. His contributions atoned for his 7 turnovers.

Obviously, Harper Jr. was main cog in the Scarlet Knights’ victory, but Rutgers received a huge lift from Mulcahy. And they needed it considering that Geo Baker missed all 6 of his three pointers while shooting just 4 of 14 from the floor. The Rutgers point guard did dish out 7 assists, nearly equaling the total assists of the entire Maryland team (9).

Terp guards shot 3 for 18 in the second half. Credit has to be given to the Rutgers defenders. For the most part, they are an athletic bunch who can put pressure on the ball and cut off attempts to drive to the bucket. Rutgers’s center, Clifford Omoruyi, only dropped 6 points, but he controlled the paint by collecting 10 rebounds and blocking 3 shots.

Maryland is now 1-5 in the Big Ten with only Nebraska (0-7) below them. The Terps next have a 7 p.m. date at Michigan on Tuesday. ESPN2 will provide the live coverage. The struggling Wolverines have lost 4 of their last 5 games and are only 1-3 in conference play and 7-7 overall.

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Saturday
January 15, 2022
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#2700


root for him? na?


Hey, the Ravens are out of the playoffs so this is what you get. A slow playing golfer who "walks in" his putts before they reach the hole.

I'm kidding. Well, sort of. There's more to today's #DMD than just Friday's Kevin Na controversy, but on any occasion when golf has a full-fledged "tour war" on its hands, we have to cover it.

Kevin Na shot an opening round 61 (-9) to lead the Sony Open in Hawaii. That he shot 61 isn't a surprise to anyone who follows golf. In fact, guess which TOUR player has the most rounds under 63 on the PGA Tour over the last 20 years? If you guessed Kevin Na, it's probably just because you assumed that's where we going with this one. But, yes, it's Na. He has 12 of them.

Na also won the Sony Open last January, so his opening round 61 on Thursday wasn't surprising on that end, either.

But while Na was busy taking Thursday's first round lead, not everyone was thrilled. Na has a reputation for being, let's just say, "very methodical" on the greens. The term "very methodical" is golf's code word for "slow". Na is a slow player, especially once he gets on the putting surface.

On more than one occasion during Thursday's opening round, one of Na's playing partners, Talor Gooch, shuffled around the green nervously while the first round leader studied his putt from every imaginable angle. Gooch's body language made it obvious: Na was taking far too long on the greens and it was impacting Gooch's rhythm and pace of play.

The TV announcers picked up on it Thursday and spent the last few holes of Na's opening round discussing how a player of his caliber gets a reputation over time as someone you might not want to draw when the TOUR releases the tournament pairings every Tuesday (assuming Na is in the field).

To wit, there are really only two kinds of villains on the PGA Tour: A player who cheats or is a presumed cheater and a player who plays slow. Everyone else is cool. Cheaters and slow players -- not cool.

Fortunately for the TOUR, there are a dozen or more slow players and only a couple of players who have been liberal enough with the rules to be considered "a cheater". The two most notable guys in that group are Patrick Reed and Sung Kang. They're no one's favorite, to say the least.

Na has quickly become no one's favorite when it comes to his pace of play. To make matters worse, Na's "brand" centers on a rather strange habit he picked up a few years back and one that is now so embedded into his golfing style that it's actually his own, personal logo. Na "walks in" his putts -- or at least the ones that are going in. In other words, as the video below shows, Na hits his putt, looks up, and if the ball appears to be going in, he starts walking off after it as if to arrive at the hole before the ball actually goes in.





This is not looked at as disrespectful in golf or anything like that. It might be frowned upon a bit in match play, where you're going head-to-head with someone, but for the most part, it's a non-starter. In fact, it's actually kind of funny. Golf needs funny, sometimes, so seeing a professional "walk in" a putt adds some "fresh air" to the sport.

But in Na's case, the whole "walking in" concept creates an interesting juxtaposition. In no other moment on the green is Na in a hurry. In fact, he's actually really, really slow. And then, suddenly, he appears to be in a rush to get to the next tee just as his ball enters the hole.

The "walking in" story became cool a couple of years ago when Tiger Woods imtitated Na at The Players Championship. "No one thought it was cool until Tiger did it with me," Na would later say. "I have Tiger to thank for that. Otherwise, I'm just a guy walking in putts. Once Tiger imitated me, I was free to keep walking them in."

But not everyone likes Na and his style.

Na's pace of play was the center of a Friday incident on Twitter involving fellow TOUR player Grayson Murray (who has not played since last summer due to alcohol and anxiety issues) and Na and it quickly got ugly (for golf, anyway).

After Golf Channel reporter Chantel McCabe tweeted out: "Kevin Na walking in putts does not get old", Murray responded with this Twitter snipe: "Kevin Na taking 3 minutes to putt does get old."

Na took exception to that.

"U missing the cut is getting old," Na shot back from his personal Twitter account. And unlike some TOUR pros, who have social media and marketing managers doing their "tweeting" for them, Na was at the keyboard for his rebuttal.

Murray dug in for the return volley: "Ha ha, love it little guy. Would never tell me that to my face."

And then one more shot from Murray, "If they penalized you for slow play like they should, you'd never make another cut either!"

Murray quickly deleted the "tell it to my face" tweet, but left the other one up about Na potentially being penalized for slow play.

Look what we have here, golf fans. A raging Twitter war!

Na, it should be noted, shot 1-over par on Friday to fall seven shots behind leader Russell Henley, so his mood wasn't the best following Friday's round. Hence, the agitation level when he saw Murray's tweet.

But Na also knows he's a slow player. There's really no denying that. That he offsets his pedestrian pace with the whole "walk in" thing is fine, but slow play is a big enough problem on the TOUR without having a guy like Na out there crawling around.

As for the walking-putts-in thing, I personally like it. It probably gets a tad embarrassing for Na if he walks one in that lips out or fails to go in the hole, but I'm guessing that's a rarity. He knows what he's doing.

Last summer it was Bryson vs. Brooks, which a lot of astute folks figured out right away was more about marketing than it was a real, genuine dislike for one another.

If Grayson Murray ever gets back on TOUR, maybe the next showdown in Vegas will be Na and Murray duking it out on a golf course in Sin City. That match would likely be far more entertaining than last November's borefest between Koepka and DeChambeau, at the very least.


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our nfl picks for playoff weekend #1


After cruising through the regular season with a winning record (47-43), we figured we'd stick around for the playoffs and continue our assault on the experts in Las Vegas.

What else are we going to do, watch Kevin Na walk in putts all day?

So, for those interested and inclined to have some, you know, "extra interest" in the games this weekend, here's who #DMD likes in the six games being played over the next three days.

Can Joe Burrow and the Bengals win a playoff game for the first time in 31 years today?

RAIDERS AT BENGALS (-5.5) -- This one is certainly hard to handicap given that the Bengals haven't won a playoff game since people started texting. There's always a part of you that assumes Cincy will lead 27-14 with 5 minutes left and somehow figure out a way to lose, 28-27. "Bengals gonna Bengals" is a popular saying for a reason, remember. But we're thinking this might be the beginning of a new era in Cincinnati, what with Burrow, Chase and Higgins set to be together for a few years, at the very least. Conventional wisdom says take the Raiders and the points, but we're going the other way here, as the Bengals cover the 5.5 and win this one 31-23.


PATRIOTS AT BILLS (-4.5) -- These two meet for the third time this season, with each winning on the other's home field during the regular season. This one, we believe, will come down to the quarterbacks, and we just don't see Mac Jones outplaying Josh Allen. In fact, we're kind of thinking this one might not be all that close. We see Buffalo's defense stepping up today and limiting Jones and New England as Buffalo covers the 4.5 and wins easily at home 27-13.


EAGLES AT BUCCANEERS (-8.5) -- OK, so this one looks like a complete mismatch, right? There's no way Philadelphia goes into Tampa Bay and wins. It's just not happening. Right? Now -- you're starting to think we're taking the Eagles to win outright, aren't you? Well, we're not. But we are going to take Philadelphia to cover the 8.5, believe it or not, as the Eagles fight hard throughout and keep it a one-score game in the second half, only to fall by the final of 28-20.


49'ERS AT COWBOYS (-3.0) -- The boys in Vegas sure don't think much of Dallas, as they're only a 3-point home favorite over a San Francisco team that needed a borderline miracle just to make the playoffs. Well, we don't think much of Dallas either, as we're taking Jimmy G. and the 49'ers (and the 3 points) in a road upset. San Francisco eliminates the Cowboys with a 23-21 win.


STEELERS AT CHIEFS (-12.5) -- Don't worry Steelers fans, you'll be able to turn in early on Sunday night. This. Is. Going. To. Be. A. Blowout. Pittsburgh could barely beat the Ravens JV team last Sunday. They're not going out there to Kansas City and making any noise. I could see the Steelers scoring on their opening drive and then not getting into the end zone for the rest of the game. We're going with the Chiefs in this one and laying the 12.5 points as K.C. puts a lid on Big Ben's career with a 40-16 whoopin' of the Steelers.


CARDINALS AT RAMS (-4.0) -- OK, so this one looks and feels so much like a game the Cardinals are going to win that we just can't ignore it. Both of these teams are just weird. Arizona got off to a great start, then sputtered, won a huge game at Dallas in week 17, and inexplicably lost to a visiting Seattle team on the final Sunday of the season when a win would have given them the division title. The Rams, meanwhile, barely escaped with a win over the Ravens, then lost at home to the 49'ers after being up at one point, 17-0. We really like Arizona in this one, so we're taking the Cardinals and the 4 points and calling an outright win, 30-27 in overtime.


BEST BET: Chiefs, Chiefs, Chiefs, Chiefs, Chiefs. All day long. Chiefs. Chiefs. Chiefs. Got it? We're going with Kansas City and laying the 12.5 points. Chiefs.

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dale williams aims the
terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his seventh season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2021-2022 season.


terps host rutgers today


The Rutgers Scarlet Knights roll into College Park today for a 2:00 pm game televised by the Big Ten Network. Rutgers is 3-2 in the Big Ten with wins over Nebraska, Michigan, and they also gained a victory over then #1 ranked Purdue.

The Nebraska win may not be impressive, but the win over Purdue certainly is. (I’m on the fence about the quality of Michigan). Overall, the Scarlet Knights are 9-6, albeit without a signature non-conference win.

The road hasn’t been kind to Rutgers. They have posted an 0-5 record outside of the friendly confines of Jersey Mike’s Arena, more commonly known as the “RAC”. They will be trying to bounce back from a 66-49 setback at Penn State on Tuesday.

The Terps need junior Donta Scott to bounce back from a terrible final minute at Northwestern on Wednesday and help them beat visiting Rutgers today.

Rutgers poses some real matchup issues for Danny Manning and his Terps today as they attempt to win back-to-back conference games.

How the coach and his staff chooses to contend with Ron Harper Jr. and Geo Baker will determine the outcome of this game. Those two are matchup nightmares today.

Harper Jr.’s size might dictate going head-to-head with Maryland’s Donta Scott. Harper is 6’6” and a big 245. While Scott has the body to contend with Harper Jr, I fear the Terp forward isn’t nearly mobile enough to handle the top scorer for Rutgers. Harper Jr. recently had 29 points against Nebraska and 20 versus Michigan. He can score from inside or out, off the dribble or catch and shoot.

If Harper Jr isn’t Scott’s assignment, then who gets the call? My guess is Hakim Hart starts out guarding Harper Jr., with some relief from Xavier Green. Green has played some nice ball on both ends of the court over the last few games. Containing Harper Jr. is a big key today.

Next up is the question of who guards Baker. Process of elimination has Qudus Wahab or Julian Reese battling 6’11” Clifford Omoruyi. That leaves Eric Ayala, Donta Scott, or Fatts Russell to check the 6’4”, crazy-athletic, Geo Baker. Scott is out, as I’d like to see him on Paul Mulcahy (6’6”, 6.7 ppg). Russell is too small to check the Scarlet Knight’s Caleb McConnell (6’7”), so by default he get’s Baker. That’s a serious mismatch in Rutgers’ favor.

I expect Eric Ayala will be checked by head coach Steve Pikiell’s defensive specialist, Caleb McConnell. McConnell is long and quick and can play great defense. Assuming he’s on Ayala, the Terp leading scorer will need to be on top of his game if he hopes to approach his team leading 16.2 points per game.

Even if Rutgers gets good looks all day long, there’s no guarantee they will rack up a bunch of points. They are one of the worst shooting teams in the Big Ten. Only Maryland and Wisconsin make a lesser proportion of their shots from the field. From the three-point line, the Scarlet Knights only shoot better than Maryland, Wisconsin, and Nebraska. They are also the worst free throw shooting team in the Big Ten (67%). In their recent loss to Penn State, Rutgers shot 34% from the field, 26% from the three-point line, and a woeful 50% from the foul line.

It’s my opinion that Rutgers has a better roster, including the bench. Sixth-man Aundre Hyatt is only getting 16 minutes and 6 points, but the freshman will be an important player for this program for the next several years. I hate to state the obvious, but with the lack of a go-to big man on either side, this game comes down to shooting.

Rutgers has nights when they light it up...just ask Purdue. But they can produce some stinkers too, like when they shot 29% in a loss to Lafayette. All Terp fans know of Maryland’s struggles on the offensive side. So, which squad prevails?

Rutgers has the better big man in Omoruyi. They also have the most established scorer with Harper Jr. Geo Baker is such a matchup problem, and, with McConnell, the Scarlet Knights have a defender that can slow down Ayala. However, the Terps are coming home after a big win on Wednesday. Rutgers hasn’t won a road game all year. The Vegas guys think the Terps are 5 points better and have established the home team as the favorite.

It’s tough to go with a road team in conference play who is searching for their first win away from home. But in this game, I have to appreciate what Rutgers brings to the table. If they have even a mediocre shooting game, and keep Omoruyi out of foul trouble, they will handle the Terps.

In a low scoring ball game, the Terps fall by four, 68-64.

JERRY'S TOYOTA banner
Friday
January 14, 2022
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2699


fixing the ravens and the nfl


OK, let's end our 2021 Ravens review with a look ahead to 2022 and some very specific changes the organization should make as they try to rebound from the disastrous conclusion to the '21 campaign.

To that end, we'll throw the NFL in there as well and provide commentary on some changes the league should make as they move forward.

These are all "legit" changes, by the way. They're not pie-in-the-sky things like "go back to 16 games" or "get rid of Thursday Night Football", neither of which the owners would be willing to do at this point. If those things are important to the players, they'll collectively bargain their way out of them at some point down the road.

Let's first start off with the NFL.

These three things seem like total no-brainers to me.

1. Eliminate ties in week 18 of the season -- I personally think ties should be eliminated, period, but I understand from the *player safety* aspect the league has to legislate the length of the games to some degree. But never again should their be a scenario like we saw last Sunday night in Las Vegas where the Raiders and Chargers could have both done the wink-wink thing and played for a tie once they reached overtime. Moving forward, the league should regard week 18 as a "playoff game" with relation to ties. There can be no tie games in the last week of the season. Everything gets played out until there's a winner, just like in the playoffs.

Give Bill Belichick and the rest of the NFL head coaches up to four challenges per-game.

2. Coaches are allowed a maximum of four challenges -- As long as the officials in the NFL keep getting things wrong and as long as the league won't go to an arbitrary "eye in the sky" concept, the coaches should have four challenges per-game and they can be used anytime the coach wants to use them. There's no more worrying about whether the challenges were successful or not or anything like that. You get four challenges to use whenever you want, although for purposes of not having the games run 3 hours and 45 minutes, let's just clarify and say "you get four per-game but can't use more than two in any one quarter." By the way, we wouldn't need to suggest this modification to the rules if the officials got more calls right or the league went to the eye-in-the-sky idea.

3. One foot in-bounds on receptions of any kind -- For a league hell-bent on scoring, scoring and more scoring, this one seems like a total no-brainer. I understand the NFL thinks they're king and they'd rather not adopt college rules as their own, but the one-foot-in-bounds rule is one of the best differences between college and the pros. It's always seemed strange to me that college players learn the art of catching a pass by needing to only have one foot in-bounds and they when they get to the NFL, they suddenly have to learn a new skill set and get two feet down. The NFL would be well served to go with the "one foot" rule. More receptions, more scoring and less challenges from coaches, too, I would assume.


Now, we move on to the Ravens.

Beef up the defense -- I don't have an exact financial split figured out, per se, but if I'm the Ravens I dedicate 70% of my off-season money to signing defensive players. The same goes for the draft. 70% of the team's draft picks, including those in the first 4 rounds, should be dedicated to improving the defense. A quality edge rusher is needed (no disrespect to Odafe Oweh, but two of those guys are better than one), two young, tough defensive linemen are vital and more depth in the secondary would be a good thing. If the Ravens can snag a quality safety in the first few rounds, that should be a strong consideration as well.

Is Ronnie Stanley going to return to 100% health in 2022 or should the Ravens start planning for his replacement?

Plan for life without Ronnie Stanley -- Ronnie Stanley might come back in training camp and be just fine. If so, that's great. But the Ravens, based on what happened with Stanley last September, should probably consider drafting a solid offensive lineman that they could eventually slide into the left tackle spot if Stanley's foot injury eventually turns into something that's career ending. Think: Orlando Brown Jr. In other words, that's precisely the kind of player the Ravens should draft. Someone they can use at right tackle with the thought he'll eventually move to the left side. Not that the club necessarily needed "Plan B" with regard to Stanley last season (they thought he was fine heading into 2021), but they were in big trouble once he wasn't able to play.

Bid farewell to Hollywood, sign a legit veteran receiver -- Yes, I'm aware that Lamar might not be thrilled. Such is life in the NFL, which, of course, stands for "Not For Long". It appears highly unlikely the Ravens will be willing to ink Brown to one of those mega-deals (otherwise known as a "second contract") in 2023. So, knowing they're likely going to let Brown walk after the '22 season, why not use this opportunity to try and snag a quality, veteran wide receiver? Davante Adams might be too rich for the Ravens' blood, but Mike Williams could be had for the right price. Short version: Consider trading Brown this off-season if you can find a taker and get a good deal for him and sign a veteran receiver who still has some legit quality left in him (not a Watkins, Bryant or Maclin type -- a real receiver with tread left on his tires.)

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o's move the wall


You've heard of the term "moving the goalposts", right? That term gets used a lot these days, particularly in our current political climate, where the truth changes by the hour.

The Orioles are actually doing that very thing this week, although they're "moving the wall" instead of the goalpost.

Construction has started at Camden Yards as seats (in gray) are labeled to be removed and the playing field extended by 30 feet.

The Birds announced this week they're extending a significant part of the left field fence by thirty feet and raising the height of the wall by five feet to 12 feet in an effort, they say, to "balance out pitching and hitting in our ballpark."

The picture to the right shows the initial work being done. You can see how dramatic an extra 30 feet looks. The ballpark will change substantially in 2022.

This week's announcement by the O's was met with media and social media ridicule. "This is so funny," a few of the radio talking heads in town said on Wednesday. "Our pitching sucks, so instead of getting better pitching we'll just extend the playing field to keep more balls from leaving the field."

Well, actually, that's correct. That is one of the reasons why it was done, I'm sure. General Manager Mike Elias said the decision to move and extend the left field wall was done in part after "an extensive analytics study" and I assume that's true. And, yes, while the Orioles pitching hasn't been good and extending the field might help them, it's also natural to remember that extending the field might also hurt your team's offense at the same time.

Then there's a train of thought that suggests more talented free agent pitchers might consider Baltimore if it's not such a home-run-derby kind of facility, but I'm not sure I subscribe to that concept. I think really, really good free agent pitchers just want to be paid and they don't care where they go. Their salary is guaranteed whether they go to Baltimore, Cleveland, Chicago or Los Angeles.

Now, middle-of-the-road kind of guys looking for a two-year deal (which, of course, the O's are more known for pursuing) like Cashner or Cobb (as an example of past signings) might choose to avoid Baltimore because they know if they go there and get lit up in that bandbox they might be impacting their street value for a future deal. But Gerrit Cole would have come to Baltimore as a free agent if the O's would have offered him $375 million and the size of the ballpark wouldn't have mattered at all.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for the changes to the stadium's configuration. I trust Elias and his research staff. If they think extending and raising the left wall are "good for business", I'm buying that stock. But I also don't think this is suddenly going to make a quality pitcher decide to come to Baltimore.

When -- or "if" -- the Orioles ever decide to legitimately dip their toes into the free agent waters, players will come to Baltimore because the team is promising and looks like they might be on the verge of winning again and the organization is willing to pay top dollar for them. The field dimensions aren't nearly as important as getting paid, winning games and being competitive.

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faith in sports


Former Ravens tight end Ben Watson is one of the NFL's most popular figures when it comes to faith and his Christian testimony. He's an active public speaker both in and out of the league and has a number of widely-viewed YouTube videos about his faith journey. We're huge Ben Watson fans here at #DMD. Here's an excellent six minute video with Watson and his wife, Kirsten, sharing conversation about how their faith helped them navigate the end of Watson's career.

As always, we thank our friends at Freestate Electrical for their support of #DMD and our Friday "Faith in Sports" segment.


JERRY'S TOYOTA banner
Thursday
January 13, 2022
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2698


why did you give me a "D"?


It's report card day.

And when you're 8-3 and then six games later you're 8-9, you have to assume the grades aren't going to be all that sweet.

Some of the Ravens we'll be grading didn't have the benefit of a full season, so we'll assign them what we feel is fair based on how much action they did see.

We did our best to place value on the 18 best players on the team. Well, the 18 best who played, at least.

Agree? Disagree? File your own grades below in the comment section if you so choose.


Lamar Jackson -- Was never the same after the Miami game, whether that was health-related, injury-related or a combination of both. Started off well and was en-route to an "A" until the wheels came off. 2021 Grade: C

Tyler Huntley -- Had moments of excellence and moments of "that's why he's a back-up quarterback." His quality seemed to decline the more he played. When the Ravens needed one home win out of him vs. the Rams or Steelers, he couldn't produce it. 2021 Grade: C-

Mark Andrews was one of only two Ravens to receive an "A" for his play in the 2021 season.

Devonta Freeman -- Gave the Ravens about what they expected. Certainly didn't embarrass himself but also showed that he's no longer close to being a featured running back in the league. 2021 Grade: C

Latavius Murray -- Like Freeman, he didn't do anything to embarrass himself. Ran hard late in the season and was a rare bright spot in the season-ending loss to the Steelers. 2021 Grade: B-

Mark Andrews -- What can you say? Was the team's MVP going away and is now firmly entrenched as one of the league's top tight ends. Simply put, he had a remarkable season. 2021 Grade: A

Rashod Bateman -- Missed the first month but showed glimpses of excellence throughout the season. Whether he was used enough or the right way is up for debate, when it comes to route running and catching the football, he looks like he could be legit. 2021 Grade: B+

Hollywood Brown -- Enjoyed a really good start but completely lost his way in the final month of the season when Lamar wasn't around. Did hit the 1,000 yard mark, but by and large he was absent during the 6-game losing streak. 2021 Grade: C

Kevin Zeitler -- Had a terrific first season in Baltimore and established himself as a guy the Ravens can count on again in 2022. 2021 Grade: A

Alejandro Villanueva -- A costly $8 million signing, particularly once Ronnie Stanley went out and "AV" was pressed into a different role on the offensive line. Tried hard. But that was about it. 2021 Grade: D

Bradley Bozeman -- Graded out as a mid-scale center (12th in the league according to Pro Football Focus) and may have played well enough over the last four years to earn himself a hefty free agent deal somewhere this spring. Wasn't terrible by any means and the Ravens will have a big decision to make prior to free agency. 2021 Grade: B

Brandon Williams -- Battled a shoulder injury and seems to be entering the October of his career, but the Ravens run defense was still far better any time "Big Baby" was healthy and in the lineup. Will likely be pursued by a team in free agency, but certainly had a solid Ravens career if this is the end of his journey in Baltimore. 2021 Grade: B

Calais Campbell -- Definitely not the player he was 5 years ago, but who is? "Played like a Raven" throughout the year, which is probably the highest compliment you can give a newcomer. 2021 Grade: C+

Justin Houston -- The Ravens thought he'd make an impact chasing the quarterback, but his play was always spotty at best. 2021 Grade: C

Tyus Bowser -- Enjoyed an outstanding season until the unfortunate achilles tear in the season finale against Pittsburgh. Proved to be a solid signing for Eric DeCosta and Company. 2021 Grade: B+

Marlon Humphrey -- Still one of the best corners in the league, even if his 2021 play was a bit "off" from what we've seen in previous years. Missed the last five games after suffering an arm injury in Pittsburgh in early December. 2021 Grade: B-

Chuck Clark -- Has turned into one of the team's more reliable defensive backs and figures to only improve the more snaps he gets in 2022 and beyond. If any defensive player on the team "Plays Like A Raven" more than Clark, please point him out. 2021 Grade: B

Patrick Queen -- From getting benched early in the season to working his way into a more comfortable role, year 2 turned out to be a promising one for the 2020 1st round pick. Improved against the run as the season went on, but still needs work defending the pass. 2021 Grade: B-

Odafe Oweh -- Started out on fire the first half dozen games and then saw his play drop off dramatically as the season wore on. Had he played the way he played in September and early October all season long, he would have been a Rookie of the Year candidate. Instead, he was just another guy who did some good stuff in his first year in the league. 2021 Grade: C+


------------------------


John Harbaugh -- If a coach was only graded by "keeping the team competitive", Harbs would receive an "A" for his work in 2021. Playing most of the season with a decimated roster and losing his franchise quarterback for the last five games, the head coach kept his team in the playoff race until the last weekend of the season. The two point conversion decisions really don't factor in here. They were gutsy calls that coaches have to make...and on both occasions, the call and play were "on", but the execution was "off". Still, when you're the coach of the team that lost their last six games and coughed up what looked to be almost a locked playoff spot, your grade suffers because of it. 2021 Grade: B

Greg Roman -- Another tricky one because Roman's offense, by the numbers, graded out well. The Ravens, in fact, finished 7th in the league in points. But numbers don't tell the story. Or at least not the whole story. Roman's offense was again its usual, predictable self for the most part. Without Mark Andrews at his disposal, Roman's offense would have been hard pressed to score more than 14 points per-game. His unit's performance in the red zone in December was awful. He again failed to get the likes of Duvernay and Proche into the offense in a meaningful way. There was lots of good from the Baltimore offense, but lots of not-so-good, too. And it's Roman's responsibility to get more out of it. 2021 Grade: C

Wink Martindale -- Was certainly hurt by the pre-season injuries to Peters, Wolfe and Fort -- none of whom played a down in '21 -- but once again this year it was his defense's inability to "close out games" that became the story of his unit's season. It started in Las Vegas in week one when the Ravens needed just one late defensive stop to hold off the Raiders. They got outclassed by a lowly Miami team in November, then couldn't get off the field in the 4th quarter of late losses to the Rams and Steelers. Martindale's grade might be a tad more generous than Roman's because losing Marlon Humphrey with five games to go was just too much to overcome, but all in all, the Baltimore defense was "just OK" this season. 2021 Grade: C+

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dale williams aims the
terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his seventh season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2021-2022 season.


terps earn "bizarre" win at northwestern


In what was a pretty boring game for 39 minutes, last night's Maryland visit to Northwestern turned into a wild finish of epic proportions.

Two overtimes were required before Maryland emerged victorious, 94-87. Eric Ayala had a magnificent second half and finished with 26 points and 11 rebounds. The crazy finish made up for what was a lackluster, even sleepy, 39 minutes and 30 seconds.

The victory gave Danny Manning his first conference win of the season as the Terps (9-7 overall) improved to 1-4 in Big Ten play.

Eric Ayala's 28 point night and clutch 3-point shooting helped the Terps earn a rare conference win at Northwestern last night.

Overtime was required (courtesy of Donta Scott) when Maryland, with possession of the ball, blew a 6-point lead with only 19 seconds left on the clock.

Yes, you read that right. Maryland was up 6 and had the ball with 19 seconds remaining. And somehow, the game went to overtime.

A Scott turnover turned into a Pete Nance three pointer, cutting the lead to just 3 points. When the next inbound pass was kicked out of bounds by Ayala, the ball was again in the Wildcats' hands. But before Northwestern could inbounds the ball, a review of Maryland’s throw in showed an intentional elbow to the neck delivered by Scott. It was a really stupid play by Scott and could have cost them the game. Robbie Beran went to the line to shoot the technical fouls and made both shots, cutting the lead down to one with Northwestern maintaining possession.

Northwestern, now down by one, again went to Nance who drove past Scott and was fouled by him. Nance’s chance to deliver a win for his team was lost when hit just 1 of 2 foul shots. The game went to OT when Ayala missed a tough three.

The Wildcats had the early upper hand in the first overtime, going up by 4 with the ball and only about 2 minutes remaining. Fatts Russell brought his team back by scoring 5 quick points for Maryland to tie the game at 83 a-piece. Now it was Northwestern’s chance at a game ending bucket, but a really bad pass attempt to Nance was picked off. Russell’s half court heave missed and the game went to the second overtime.

This time the Terps had the early upper hand, scoring on their first 4 possessions. Maryland was up 4, shooting 2 foul shots, there was 2:23 left, and Northwestern was without their top 2 scoring threats. Nance had to leave for a spell with an ankle injury and Chase Audige fouled out.

With a chance to put his team up by 6, Xavier Green missed both free throws. Northwestern then ran a horrible offensive set that ended with a shot clock violation. On the next Terp possession, 3 straight offensive rebounds allowed the Terps to run down the clock and ultimately forced the Wildcats to foul. Russell was sent to the foul line where he made one shot to put the Terps up by 5. From that point on Northwestern couldn’t hit a shot and Maryland held on for the win.

The first half ended in a 30-30 tie. Nance getting only 3 shots in the paint during the first 20 minutes totally confused me. This guy is a force inside and he wasn’t given the opportunity to work on the low blocks. He was more frequently found around the three-point line. Baffling.

Eric Ayala dominated the second half, knocking down NBA range threes and getting to the basket and to the foul line where he connected on 7 of 11 attempts. It was Russell who carried Maryland in the second overtime.

A boring game with a crazy finish. Each team seemed to be in the driver’s seat at certain points, but it was the Terps who prevailed. Next up is Rutgers in College Park on Saturday at 2 p.m.

JERRY'S TOYOTA banner
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Wednesday
January 12, 2022
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2697


about bisciotti and harbaugh...


Tomorrow we'll finish our 2021 review with our report card of the team's 18 most important players of the '21 season.

Today, though, we'll look at two bubbling stories around town and shed our own insight on each of them. Your mileage may vary on each of the four, which is why we have a comments section below. Have at it, as Brian Billick used to say.

Ever since the season ended with a thud on Sunday afteroon, there have been cries from the masses urging Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti to hold a season-ending press conference and face the media. The fans, of course, see that concept as an extension of their "right" to know what's going on with the franchise they support and prop up with their hard earned money. Although these years might not be exact, Bisciotti was at the helm of what the team called "The State of the Ravens" season ending press conference from 2004-2018...give or take a year or two on either side.

Will Steve Bisciotti address the media this month as he has in past years?

While Bisciotti hasn't held one of those pressers in several years, it's fair to point out he has been involved in a series of team-organized phone calls with season ticket holders during the off-season, where fans are randomly selected to participate and ask questions of the owner. I've never been on one of those calls and have no idea if they're good, bad or futile. I'm just pointing out that Bisciotti has made himself available to patrons of the team in some way over the last few years.

I always thought the "State of the Ravens" press conference was an outstanding concept and one, frankly, that set the Ravens apart from the Orioles, who -- at least in my 12 years on the radio, 2002-2014 -- never made the owner available to speak with the media. I saw the value of having Bisciotti, Cass, Billick/Harbaugh and Ozzie sit in front of the media for 75 minutes and field questions.

My guess on why Bisciotti no longer sees the event as necessary? 80% of the questions he used to field or would field in 2022 are about topics he either, A) doesn't want to discuss publicly or, B) are areas where he has little or no professional expertise.

Here's an example of a question that someone in the room would routinely ask: "Steve, what do you think of the job John Harbaugh did this year?"

Simply put, Bisciotti has no interest in answering that question, mostly because he knows just about anything he says will be dissected by the media and chewed up by the fans on social media.

Everything these days is turned into a "gotcha!" moment.

Bisciotti: "I think John did a good job this year."

Media: "Bisciotti certainly didn't give Harbaugh a ringing endorsement with that answer!"

There's literally no way Bisciotti can answer any question without his answer somehow being turned into a story or an angle that he didn't intend it to be a part of at all. He's done too many press conferences to think otherwise.

"Steve, what did you think of the decision by Harbaugh to go for two points vs. the Steelers and Green Bay?"

Anything he says other than "I 100% thought both of those decisions were the right ones and I would have done the exact same thing" would be torn apart and turned into a negative. That's just how the media works. Always has, always will.

And with everyone (who wants one) owning a Twitter or Instagram account these days, Bisciotti's answers now get detailed by thousands and thousands of people in real time. 20 years ago you wrote a "Letter to the Editor" if you wanted to lash out at Bisciotti and there was about a 5% chance it got published in the Sunday paper. Now if you're upset or angry, you post something on your social media account and it's there for the world to see. And you can be as nasty and vile and hateful as you please, too.

The Ravens, like the Orioles and every other sports team in America, have tried hard in recent years to distance themselves from "needing" the media to get the word out about their organization. They use their own communications efforts to distribute team information and then allow the media to pick up on those stories and broadcast them as they see fit. There's also a growing connection to what the team calls their "broadcast partners", where they give those entities preferential treatment when it comes to administrative interviews, coach and player access and so on.

I'm not saying I agree with all of the changes over the last decade, by the way. In my 12 years on the radio, the Orioles never once made the owner available to the media en masse for a press conference. I thought that was a joke back then and it still is even today.

But while I don't agree with the way things have shifted in recent years -- especially with the Ravens -- I also get it.

What Steve Bisciotti's opinion is of Greg Roman or the 2-point conversions is really here nor there. The people he pays to oversee those situations (Harbaugh) have to answer those questions. If Bisciotti doesn't like Greg Roman or the 2-point conversion gambles he really only has two options; fire the person responsible for those two things (Harbaugh) or allow that person to continue making those decisions. There's not much in-between and, for sure, publicly commenting on those two things does Bisciotti no good at all.

If I had the chance to ask Bisciotti a question, it would center much more on "ownership things". My biggest question for him would be about the 17-game season. Was the extra money to each team really worth the extra wear and tear on the players? Was it so much better than a 16-game season from a profit standpoint? If so, why not play 18 games? Or 20 games?

I'd ask Bisciotti business questions. "Have you started to think about selling the team at some point down the road?" (He has, by the way, in case you care). "Would it be important to you to have a Marylander buy the team when you do sell it or would that not matter?"

I don't think the Ravens have the "State of the Ravens" press conference any longer because they don't see the value in doing it when they have their own means of broadcasting that same information to basically the same people who would digest the press conference. And I'm not defending them or saying they're right, by the way. I'm just saying "this is the way they feel" and, in 2022, nearly every other franchise in sports is going the same route.

"If we want information distributed to the public, we'll do it ourselves," is the new sports franchise mantra.

Get used to it.


As is always the case once the off-season starts, there are folks around Baltimore who want the coach and the various coordinators fired.

Heck, to show you maximum insanity, there are people in Tuscaloosa this week who think "it's time to look for someone new to run Alabama football", believe it or not.

One playoff win since 2015 for John Harbaugh and the Ravens. Is that good enough for Steve Bisciotti?

One way of defending John Harbaugh's ongoing status as Ravens head coach is to say, "Who are they going to find that's better?" With all due respect, that theory might be the dumbest one of them all when it comes to the subject of firing a head coach.

If you fire your coach, it's because you don't see the team getting any better under him/her. Who comes in next is irrelevant at that point, because you don't know what they might do. But you do know, or at least think you know, that the current coach isn't the person for the job.

The Ravens hired John Harbaugh in 2008 and he had zero head coaching experience. Zilch. Nada. None. There was no way at all that Bisciotti, Ozzie, DeCosta, Byrne etc. knew Harbaugh would turn into a 15-20 year head coach for the organization.

I remember Eric DeCosta once telling me, "When Harbs left the room after the first interview, we all looked at each other and said, "That guy is going to make a great head coach for someone someday." As it turned out, Eric was right.

So, whether there's someone out there "better" isn't really part of the equation because there's no way of knowing that in advance. You certainly hope you can find someone better, or else you'll be the Giants or Jaguars in a short amount of time. But there's always someone else out there -- as Harbaugh proved in 2008 -- who is ready to step in and make the best of a new opportunity.

There has been growing speculation that Harbaugh's tenure in Baltimore could be nearing its end. Personally, I don't think Bisciotti would do anything with his head coach unless he was in the beginning stages of selling the team. It would only be fair to a new owner to give him/her/them the opportunity to hire their own head coach.

To wit, Bisciotti inherited Billick and was never 100% warm and fuzzy about the Super Bowl winning coach. In a perfect world, the new owner would have been able to bring in his own guy right out of the gate. But that scenario wasn't realistic when Steve assumed full control of the team.

As for Harbaugh himself, I don't think John is at all interested at moving on from his role in Baltimore, but it goes without saying he'd have a job within a day (if he wanted one) once his days with the Ravens come to an end.

Within the NFL, I don't think many jobs would appeal to him. For starters, let's remember he no longer really needs a job. He has more money than he or his daughter or her kids (if she ever has any) would be able to spend. But if he wanted continued employment once his Ravens gig ends, he's not going to Jacksonville, Washington, the Giants or some other league bottom feeder in an effort to "rebuild them to glory".

There probably is one exception to the bottom feeder idea...the Detroit Lions. Because of his Michigan roots, that might be a job Harbaugh would consider, particularly if he were given personnel control as well.

Other than that, my guess is the only other teams he'd consider in the NFL would be ones with stable ownership intact; Kansas City, Green Bay, Atlanta, Chicago, Pittsburgh -- to name just a few.

My personal prediction is once Harbaugh leaves Baltimore, he won't coach again. He'll shift over to a TV role and be very good at it.

And when Harbaugh's tenure does end in Baltimore, you can bet the Ravens will not go after a league re-tread. They'll wind up hiring a surprise name, someone outside the box, like the guy they hired in 2008. He turned out to be "better", even though they had no way of knowing it when they hired him.

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dale williams aims the
terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his seventh season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2021-2022 season.


terps look for first big ten win tonight


I’m not quite sure how to analyze tonight’s Maryland/Northwestern game (9 p.m. BTN).

Which information do I prioritize when evaluating these two teams? The Wildcats came into the XFINITY Center on December 5th and handed the Terps a 67-61 loss. They outscored the Terps in the paint 32-12 as Pete Nance and his front court mates manhandled any Terp that tried to score inside. Take away Hakim Hart’s 3 for 4 inside the arc, and Maryland only made 4 of 32 two-point shots. Can that possibly happen again?

That first match-up was one I’ll never forget. As I wrote in my post game article of that game, I was outside of each team’s locker room as they prepped for the short 5-minute warmup directly preceding tipoff. The Wildcats were full of energy and loud, maybe boisterous is the proper word. Maryland looked like they were at a wake. It was their first game after Mark Turgeon’s departure and his former team was dead silent as they entered the arena.

Can Maryland get improved defensive play from Donta Scott tonight at Northwestern?

Will Maryland, having had more time to adjust to the change, play with more confidence and energy tonight?

One thing we can count upon is that Nance will dominate inside again. Maryland’s interior defense has been weak. Qudus Wahab has been a bust on both sides of the court and Donta Scott has been disinterested on defense for a good while. I rewatched some recent Terp games to make sure I wasn’t being too hard on the Terp forward. I wasn’t. In fact, reviewing those games only served to justify calling him ‘Onta Scott (no “D”) on another site.

In my opinion, Wahab should come off the bench tonight. Julian Reese is going to be an impact player in this league. He is very inexperienced at this level and needs time to figure where he best fits in offensively. Let him gain that experience now. Wahab can come off the bench. Reese will get roasted by Nance, but I’d rather give Reese help inside and take your chances with the Northwestern 3-point shooters, than let Wahab get abused. Something has to be done to offset the 32-12 points-in-the-paint disparity.

In the first game, Northwestern’s Chase Audige had 14 points but missed all four of his three-pointers. This guy, with Hakim Hart guarding him, worries me. He’s going for 20 tonight, especially if he’s allowed to consistently go to his right. Audige is a tough matchup.

It also doesn’t work in the Terps favor that the Wildcats are on a three-game losing streak and are coming home hungry for a win.

Northwestern played Michigan State tight in a 73-67 loss, gave up a ten-point lead while losing to Penn State, and scored 87 points at Ohio State while losing 95-87. I expect them to be hungry tonight at home. Compare that to the horrible lacking start that Maryland had on Sunday, and any psychological advantage has to go to the Wildcats.

The trio of Nance, Ryan Young, and Robbie Beran will be too much inside for Maryland. Ty Berry, Boo Buie, and Chase Audige hold a slight edge over their Terrapin counterparts at the guard positions. While Maryland certainly can’t produce the same dismal numbers inside the arc that they produced during the first matchup, I can’t expect them to hit 10 three-pointers again either.

If Maryland comes out with some fire, they can hang with Northwestern. If they don’t. they could get blown out. Somewhere in the middle probably lies the actual outcome.

Will the Terps play harder this time after being blindsided by their coach’s departure? Will they score inside? Can they make threes again? Is their any chance they can stop Nance?

I went into my game reviews thinking the Terps were on equal footing with the Wildcats. I came out of it more convinced that this is a tough spot for a Maryland team that can’t score or defend with their big men.

The line has the Terps as a 3.5-point underdog. Don’t be surprised when a late rally cuts the Northwestern lead to 10. A final score of 73-63 in favor of the home team drops the Terps to an 0-5 conference record.

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#dmd comments








Jeff “Fireball” Roberts     January 19
It was just a matter of time before the Dallas coach pulled a mccarthy. Ya’ think Manning will be invited back to College Park next season ? Yeah, me either. I hope the CBA gets settled in the next 2-3 weeks. I am looking forward to Orioles season.

Travis     January 19
Drew



On your constant bashing of the Flyers (most subjects that pertain nothing to ice hockey), did the hatred start when some Flyers Fan poured a beer on you at The Spectrum for wearing a Caps Jersey?

KC     January 19
@Drew saying what the FM radio guys won't say today because they're tied into UM basketball. Today reminds me of the way @Drew was on the radio when he was the only guy in town willing to hammer the Orioles for their losing ways. Old school Dish today!!!

Stats Nerd     January 19
@Kenny-yeah the whole thing makes little sense. I thought if managed properly they could have run at least 2 and maybe 3 more plays with 14 seconds. If they felt more comfortable from, say the 25, run a 1215 yard out route and get out of bounds. Wild man

@Chris-yeah I've heard people ask about Duv. Think Deebo is thicker but Duv has wheels. I'm not sure it would work either but some of those things had to have worked better than some of the crap they were running. Getting Duv 6-8 touches a game certainly makes sense to me.

I am EXTREMELY bullish on Bateman. He won't be Deebo but I think he could be an absolute monster next year. He tics all the boxes: strong physical, runs clean routes, incredibly good hands. If GRo or whoever doesn't get the ball to him in space next season it will be a huge error to me. Reminds in a lot of ways of Anquan.

lou@palo alto     January 19
a UK study has shown a post covid brain fog that can last up to 9 mo--on a variety of cognitive tests there was a decreased attention span, memory and overall game performance--??Lamar he certainly looked slow and confused in his last few games--fyi

Bill     January 19
I consider myself a Maryland basketball fan. I completely agree that they looked disinterested last night. I am feeling a little disinterested too. I don't know why but the Terps have lost me this season. Very little energy on or off the court. Players (and maybe coaches) look like they are just going through the motions. I worry what the recruits must be thinking. Maryland better get this ship turned around quickly or fans could be in for a few years of bad basketball.

David Rosenfeld     January 19
I feel bad for those guys--as basketball players. Their coach--he quit on them. I don't care as a fan if you're glad he's gone, you have to admit that's what he did. And I'm sure they feel like they're kind of on their own right now. I mean...heck...even some awful MD teams had a great home court advantage, and they don't even have that anymore.

And now...what's happening is that they realize that they aren't good, and that the mechanism isn't in place for them to get better. And I'm not sure how they are going to respond to that.

I think this is Square 1. Reese will probably leave, despite his sister. The good news? You can get good quickly with the right coach.

Tom J     January 19
Maryland basketball is now resembling what Maryland football has been over the years. And it's starting to look like no one cares about the basketball now either judging by all of the empty seats there. Turgeon is laughing all the way to the bank......

Chris in Bel Air     January 19
Was watching the Caps and then remembered Terps were playing too. Flipped to that game, saw they were down by 17 and flipped back to Caps. Glad that's all I saw because if two writers are roasting due to lack of effort, it's not good.

@StatsNerd - Enjoyed today's article and agree on Deebo. He is unique player and I'm sure all fans wish their team had a multi-tool player like that. On that note, I don't expect Duvernay to be the same exact talent as Deebo but I do feel like the Ravens underutilize him. He might get one jet sweep or a poorly executed/timed screen but that's about it.

Agree w/ @DelRay - thankfully Ravens hired Harbs and not Garrett.

Kenny G     January 19
Stats Nerd - the one way I thought of the Dallas draw play was could Dak run far enough in say 10 seconds (need time to spot and spike) to make the next play(s) have a higher probability of success. The difference of a 41 yard vs 27 yard TD potential play cant be much but having two chances from 41 was probably the better option - TD or pass interference. Add in the factors that Dak did not give the ball to the ref and the line effectively blocked the ref from spotting the ball - what were they thinking? Sorry you answered that.




MFC     January 19
Who knows what goes through the heads of these players. I can't call them them kids because many are over 21 and with "re-classing", transferring in high school now the transfer portal in college many may well be 23 and 24. I do know when I watch games I don't see many "college looking kids" on the floor. I see men with incredible strength. Maybe, even though they probably have no idea what the old ACC was about are hearing about going to warm Miami or Florida State and now have to play in the dreary, cold midwest to face Michigan, Northwestern, Iowa etc. Who knows, but you're right, they didn't show up that's for sure.



Faithful, picking games is a guess. Yes computers, reading about past performances, metrics and "that stuff" can make it an educated guess but so many things can and do happen in a game that it comes down to you're either right or wrong. Remember, you're getting free thoughts here. You're introspection may be 100% correct and then..... Much easier to just pick a winner, now add in a spread and the job gets tougher. If not for the 1/2 point the faithful coffers would be a few thousand richer.

Dale, no need to read any comments dissing you, you made an educated guess, it didn't turn out. The world didn't end and unfortunately Omicron is still with us. You do write great re-caps.


Delray RICK     January 19
That's why the "COWGIRLS " have been nothing but a 500 team for years. Think if we didn't hire JOHN.

Mike     January 19
Drew and Dale both going in with both barrels on Maryland today. Wowza!

Ray Ray     January 19
#MJ Dale had the courage to make his "prediction" BEFORE the game was over.

MJ     January 18
Dale gonna get crushed in 4......3.......2.......1

Steve of Pimlico     January 18
I don't bet football,but what makes Drews picks any better than anyone else's. I would bet his golf picks as he has a degree of expertise there.

David Rosenfeld     January 18
7 teams in each conference making the playoffs aside, it was still kind of amazing to see the kinds of blowouts we saw.

Did I think the Eagles and Patriots were good teams? No. Was there reason to believe they'd be blitzed like that IMMEDIATELY? No way. And surely the Steelers weren't any good, but they just as surely found ways to stay in games all year.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals are a good team, but I can't imagine they could play worse, including maybe the worst play I've seen a QB make in his end zone. And for all intents and purposes, the Cowboys SHOULD have been blown out.

Howard     January 18
Unless the NY COVID rules change between now and the playoffs, the Nets would be better off finishing 8th in the conference. That way Kyrie will be available for any game 7 (unless they play the Knicks or Raptors)

Pauly Dee     January 18
The Emperor Has No Clothes.



We've been fed this "Get the shots...they're safe...they're effective" junk long enough. Wake up and smell the coffee. I personally know, or know of, over 100 fully vaccinated/boostered up people who have gotten the virus. In addition, scientific journal, The Lancet, and others have published articles showing that the shots don't stop the spread of the virus. And what are the long-term studies showing us of the effects of getting the shots?



On this, Kyrie will be shown on the right side of history. The tyrants of NYC and many others in what used to be known as, "The Land of the Free," will not be.

Chris in Bel Air     January 18
Despite their expanded playoff format and giving opportunities to pretender teams like the Steelers, the NFL does have the 8 best teams now playing to earn a spot in the Super Bowl. Cards started off hot but limped in losing 4 of last 5. Cowboys? Plenty of talent but after all the penalties and that bonehead play on the last drive, they didn't deserve to move on. Raiders were close but just didn't have the offensive horses. All 4 games this weekend are intriguing match-ups. Should be much better games than this past weekend.

unitastoberry     January 18
Another NFL playoff blowout last night. Cardinals folded like a chair in December/January. There QB is not impressive in 3-4 years he's probably working for a living. I hope it gets better next weekend. Cha-Ching!

MFC     January 18
Good weekend for the faithful. Here's the recap of our mythical $1,000/game wager.



YTD ($300)

Wins 4 = $4,000

Lose 2 = ($2,200)

Total = +$1800 hope everyone sends the site owner his wine of choice, you can afford it



YTD = ($300)

week= +$1800

YTD Total +$1500- in the NFL betting that many games this is a WIN





Hope Ramey and the faithful didn't plow it all back in last night.

Just a note I didn't chart the "best bet" of the week.



It would seem to me that the betting faithful didn't like "all" of the picks and went with your own thoughts and prognostication as some have posted of OC weeks that are now paid for. No biggie and congrats but you can't scram from the mountaintop about the picks if you strayed. That's not exactly apples to apples.

Certainly glad you won. If you rode the pony all the way you would be up and those PXG's would be on order. Still time to make a serious dent into Vegas.


aaron     January 17
I bet $5 grand on the Cardinals since Drew was so sure of that pick, I sure hop e they can rally!

Billy     January 17
Hey @Mark, how we doing on that AZ pick tonight??

George     January 17
What odds can I get the Jacksonville Jaguars finish above .500 next year and win at least one playoff game the next year?

snead     January 17
If Billy had the balls to wager he'd be winning $$$ and wouldn't be here crying! LMAO

Mark in Perry Hall     January 17
Has anyone ever lived in someone else's head rent free like @DF lives in @Billy's head? LMFAO.

DJ     January 17
I only bet DF's "Best Bet of the Day" games and wound up plus $1,000 for the season. He was pretty good at those games, FWIW.

Ramey     January 17
Billy, I bet the Best Bet pick every week and would usually pick one other game or sometimes two because that's pretty much what my budget allowed for. I started out at $200 a game and eventually took it to $500 a game. I don't remember exactly which weeks this happened but I went 2-0, 3-0, 2-1 and 3-0 over a 4 week run. I think it was in week 2, 3, 4, 5. It was early in the year I know that. I was up $11,300 at one point but week 16 or 17 I went 0-4. I'm not even sure Drew knows this but he was very good picking AFC West games. I think he went 13-3 according to my calculations.

Billy     January 17
LOL, sure "RAMEY". Did you know ahead of time which pick was a loser, or you bet enough on the others to net such a nice haul??

You faithful crack me up....

Czechm8     January 17
Completely agree with you about the playoffs. 5 games this weekend and 3 were curb stompers. The Eagles and Patriots were out of it early and once the Chiefs got their footing, they ran off 5 TDs in under 12 minutes. But Drew is right: there is no going back with the oligarchs who run the league. A 7th team in each conference is extra revenue in their pockets, which is first and foremost in their planning. The only way it would possibly change is if people stop going to the games and/or viewership numbers, which impact advertising dollars, drops. I see neither happening anytime soon.

Ramey     January 17
I bet real money on Drew's picks and I am $7,800 to the good. I'm happy as I can be to share that info.

kevin     January 17
The "faithful" all crawling out of the world work today. Serious question, why is it ok to post pernicious comments when site owner does well with his picks, but when critics do the same on the inevitable bad weeks, those folks are shouted down and derided as "haters"?

Seems to me both sides should be allowed to crow about their respective views if they so choose. I don't understand either side, as my guess is none of these commenters are truly betting on any of these picks so who cares?? If they are, it seems the MFC scoreboard would tell you how those bets have gone.

Caps definitely struggling with having consistent lineups, but its the NHL, no need to worry about how any team is playing until Mar.




Stats Nerd     January 17
My hot take: Jimmy G is far better than most give him credit for. Dude wins. A lot. Would prefer he not be in a Pitts or Browns jersey

@Chris re: Caps. They have been decimated with injuries/COVID protocol. There certainly is reason to be concerned but I think they likely overachieved initially and perhaps their record is reverting to the mean now. They are really good 5v5 but their PP is hot garbage atm. Also Vitek > Samsonov right now IMO. But Ilya has more upside probably

DF     January 17
Note: There are 16 teams in each conference. Not 15. I forgot the Jaguars and Giants are considered "in the league". Apologies.

jfd23@comcast.net     January 17
I wouldn't be surprised to see Jimmy Garoppolo wearing a Steeler uniform next year.

Chris in Bel Air     January 17
Was hoping the Raiders were going to win, A- because the players have been through a lot this year and was really liking their resolve and B- watching them beat the Bengals would have been nice. But Drew is correct. The Steelers, Eagles and Patriots were not playoff teams and they were exposed as such. Same would have been had the Ravens somehow squeaked in the last week. Sure, Steelers, Eagles and Patriots earned their spot under the current NFL rules. But, the NFL's goal for the playoffs isn't high-level competition. It's all about viewing and money. More teams = more viewing = more money. No doubt they will continue to expand as well and keep rewarding more mediocre teams with a playoff spot.

Drew, any concerns growing with the Caps? They have lost 5 of last 6 and are 7-10 over last 17. Just a little mid-season slump that is normal part of the ebb and flow of a season or something more telling of them?

MFC     January 17
@JK, the recap comes at the end of the weekend with no games remaining, I think there's a game tonight at least the site owner has picked a winner for tonight so I'm sure there's one. Reading comprehension wasn't taught where you went to school? Hopefully it was not Calvert Hall, this was posted Saturday, "and it was a great start to the weekend for the faithful. Right now out of the hole, good luck."



Speaking of Calvert Hall congrats to Lou Eckerel on his announced retirement. We were combatants in high school and both stayed involved with sports. He is a really good man and outstanding coach and athletic director. I wish him well in his retirement, he's earned it.



Please get me out of your head trust me I'm not worth it.


James     January 17
Like "TimD", I had a profitable weekend thanks to Drew. Appreciate the "site owner" coming through! ha ha ha

If my math is correct Drew is now 51-44 picking games. I wonder what the peanut gallery thinks about that?

JK     January 17
4-1 for @DF yesterday and crickets from @MFC and @Billy and the rest of the doubting Thomas types. Poor sports.

unitastoberry     January 17
The mediocre football league MFL was on full display this weekend. Extra playoff teams and the 17 game season made for several run the score up games. Playoff series are for elite teams not mediocre teams. I was pretty glad at the outcome with NE, Cowgirls,Eagles,and Stillers all going home. It was a good year to root against PA teams which I always do and promises to get worse next year including Penn Pedo St getting butt kicked and signing their loser coach to a 10 year deal in UnHappy Valley. I don't care who wins now just hope they are all clutch games to the finish.

TimD in Timonium     January 17
Yesterday's Bucs / Niners / Chiefs parlay turned out pretty well. Thanks, @DF.

Eric in Gaithersburg     January 17
CJ- How am i backtracking? When did i say Manning would win with these scrubs. Of course its the players, recruited by lousy coach.

Bradley     January 16
So if one were a twitter follower- 49ers went from epic loss to NFC championship? Great insight!

Chris     January 16
Check that GM. Drew is now 4-1 ATS and 5-0 on the ML.

Stats Nerd     January 16
Mike McCarthy doing Mike McCarthy things. Nature is healing

Gm     January 16
@DF 3-1 ATS and 4-0 on the ML. Haters gotta be sick.

Billy     January 16
@MFC The faithful too busy allowing @Kevin to live in their heads lol....

MFC     January 16
Surprised the faithful didn't catch my mistake a rare mistake by them. I was wrong the DMD big bettors are not up $1,000 YTD they are actually down ($300).



Sorry for the error but also proves to the faithful that I'm not exactly hanging on every game and it was a great start to the weekend for the faithful. Right now out of the hole, good luck.

Jerryh     January 16
I was thinking the same thing as "KJ".

Tuesday
January 11, 2022
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2696


who stays, who goes?


Unrestricted free agents are the worst kind, of course, because they can literally take any offer, from anyone, and leave you hanging.

Occasionally you might actually be glad their agent calls with the *bad news*, but there are also occasions -- and the Ravens have several of these guys in 2022 -- where you really would like to keep them around but you're also not willing to overpay the way a team or two might.

Heading into the 2022 off-season, the Ravens have 22 unrestricted free agents. If these players don't sign a new deal with the Ravens before March 16 at 4:00 pm, they're free to peddle themselves to the highest or best-fitting bidder.

One of the issues facing the Ravens with regard to their own free agents they might to re-sign and keep (Bozeman, Ricard, Campbell, Smith) is this one: Could they do better by rolling the dice and trying to outbid 31 other teams for free agents that will be roaming the league for a job in March?

In other words, do you fork over money for Bradley Bozeman in February or risk him losing him in March and not having a suitable free agent center to replace him with? You could always draft a center, obviously, but either way -- if you don't re-sign Bozeman -- you're bringing someone new into the system.

There are a number of quality free agents available at various positions this off-season. The Ravens figure to be active in pursuing a veteran wide receiver, defensive lineman and edge rusher.

Let's take a look at the 22 Ravens free agents today here at #DMD (in alphabetical order) and give you our assessment of whether the Ravens should and/or will try and keep them or let them wander off to greener pastures.


Anthony Averett (CB) -- Will likely draw interest elsewhere. Not a huge loss if he leaves, but someone worth keeping if the price is right. What happens? Averett re-signs in Baltimore.

Chris Board (LB) -- Can't imagine he gets much attention from other teams. Has had some bright moments in Baltimore. Would be good to keep around for depth, but certainly not a huge loss if he's not back. What happens? Board signs elsewhere.

Bradley Bozeman (C) -- Will draw significant attention and figures to be in line for a "good" to "really good" contract from either the Ravens or a new organization. There's no middle ground here. Either keep him, spend a lot of money, and hand over the center position to him for 3 years at least. Or let him go and perhaps draft a center in the first three rounds...one that can step in right away and play. The thought here is the Ravens would have already re-signed him if they wanted to keep him for '22 and beyond. What happens? Bozeman signs a 4-year deal elsewhere.

Josh Bynes (LB) -- Has carved out a nice role in Baltimore and serves as a valuable fill-in guy when injuries come around. Probably not a guy you'd want starting and playing 50 snaps every Sunday, but he's worth keeping. What happens? Ravens re-sign him.

Has Jimmy Smith played his last game in purple?

Calais Campbell (DT) -- A lot of his situation depends on whether Campbell plays another year or retires, but either way I can't see the Ravens paying him in '22. Was a good player for the most part, but he'll be another year older next season and the league is about getting younger, not older. What happens? Campbell either retires or plays one more season elsewhere.

DeShon Elliott (S) -- You have to wonder if his injury-prone-status will finally force the Ravens to bid the hard-hitting safety farewell. He simply can't stay healthy. There will be teams interested in him, though, and Elliott will play in the NFL somewhere in 2022. What happens? He signs as a free agent with a team who needs an upgrade in defensive intensity, like the Chiefs or Saints.

Justin Ellis (DT) -- Can't imagine he'll draw much interest around the league, but will likely play in the league in '22. What happens? The Ravens pass on re-signing him.

L.J. Fort (ILB) -- This is a tricky one because he missed the '21 season due to injury. All things being equal, I think the Ravens would like to have him back. He could draw some interest from the likes of the Patriots or Bengals, perhaps, but the Ravens will certainly look to keep him if they can. What happens? Fort signs 2-year deal in February but could be a training camp cut if the Ravens can upgrade at the ILB spot before the season starts.

Devonta Freeman (RB) -- Showed occasional bursts of something in '21, but there's little chance he returns in '22 as long as Dobbins and Edwards are back and healthy by training camp. What happens? Ravens don't re-sign him.

Justin Houston (OLB) -- Probably did about what the Ravens expected of him, but they need a significant upgrade at the OLB/edge rush position and Houston isn't it. What happens? Ravens don't re-sign him.

Tony Jefferson (S) -- Don't let the few good games and popular social media account fool you. Jefferson is a back-up at best these days. If he's willing to sign a reasonable contract for a year or two I could see the Ravens keeping him around. No team in the league is going to be calling him 3 times a day to get him to sign with them, that's for sure. What happens? Jefferson remains a free agent throughout the early part of the summer and signs a team friendly deal in July but could still be a training camp casualty.

Josh Johnson (QB) -- Doesn't have much value around the league but, as he showed in Cincinnati, could be a useful 2nd or 3rd string guy. Can't imagine the Ravens have any kind of legit interest in him. What happens? He's not re-signed.

Anthony Levine (S) -- This might finally be the end of the road for Levine unless he's willing to accept a league-minimum kind of deal. Most notably a special teams ace now. There's value there, but only at the right price. Someone else might be willing to give him a 2-year deal with some guaranteed money the Ravens aren't willing to part with. What happens? Levine signs elsewhere.

Pernell McPhee (OLB) -- Not really getting better or younger. He knows the system and is great in the locker room, but the NFL is a business and his stock certainly isn't going up. Someone might give him a modest 2-year contract, but the bet here is he tests the waters and finds them calm. What happens? Ravens pass on him, he doesn't sign elsewhere, but remains available to return if there's a training camp or early season injury.

Latavius Murray (RB) -- Can still play in the league, although he's certainly no longer a 200-carries-a-season kind of running back. As long as Edwards and Dobbins are healthy, there's no use for him. And, frankly, Murray is better than a 3rd string guy. Someone will sign him in the off-season on a 2-year deal. What happens? Ravens don't re-sign him and he plays for another team in '22.

Patrick Ricard (FB) -- Like Bozeman, he'll be chased by several other teams who are eager to utilize his multi-dimensional talents. And, like Bozeman, it seems the Ravens would have already signed him if they were afraid of losing him. The guess here is someone will give him a 3-year offer that's just too rich for the Ravens' blood. They'll have to draft a fullback in the middle rounds, somewhere, and groom their next Patrick Ricard. What happens? Ricard signs elsewhere. Don't be surprised if he winds up in Pittsburgh. Just a hunch.

Kevon Seymour (CB) -- Pressed into duty when the Ravens secondary crashed and burned with injuries. He's just a guy. I can't imagine he'll draw any free agent interest or any interest from the Ravens. Might latch on somewhere in training camp, but it won't be in Baltimore. What happens? Ravens don't re-sign him.

David Sharpe (OT) -- Was promising coming out of Florida and was a 4th round pick of the Raiders in 2017 but his career never really materialized. Can't imagine there's much off-season interest in him, but perhaps the Ravens would be interested in seeing more of him in training camp? What happens? Sharpe isn't re-signed.

Jimmy Smith (CB) -- Based on his comments last week, Smith is either retiring or re-signing with the Ravens. He's not a candidate to go elsewhere, he said. I can't imagine the Ravens would be willing to pay him anything "decent" and I also think the last thing they want to do is make him an embarrassing offer. What happens? The Ravens don't re-sign him.

Eric Tomlinson (TE) -- He doesn't have any street value, so his only hope is the Ravens see fit to keep him around since he already knows the system. What happens? Ravens re-sign him in July to a league-minimum deal.

Sammy Watkins (WR) -- The last minute TD catch in Pittsburgh was his biggest highlight of the season. Spent most of the year not factoring in and was, per his career, bothered with nagging injuries throughout the campaign. Made 27 catches and was paid $6 million. That's good work if you can get it. Might latch on elsewhere during free agency but his days as a valued receiver are over. What happens? Ravens don't re-sign him.

Brandon Williams (DT) -- Definitely has value still, particularly with a team starving to improve their run defense. Isn't the player he was 2-3 years ago, but there's still life left in his career. Someone will overpay for him and the Ravens will have to look the other way. They need to get younger and faster. What happens? Williams signs elsewere during free agency.


Tomorrow we'll look at the team's list of restricted free agents.


As you'll see below, we welcome our new baseball writer to the family today as "Regular Joe" chips in with his debut column here at #DMD.

What better time to start thinking about baseball, right? The Ravens are done, the Terps are likely on the verge of a forgettable hoops season and the Masters doesn't come around until early April. So...let's talk baseball!!

Regular Joe is "that guy". When I met him in December to talk about his role here, I asked him how many O's games he watched in 2021.

"Nearly every one of them," he said.

Give me that guy, you know, the one who is still watching the games in late August when the Birds are 40-84 and mired in last place in the American League East.

So, Regular Joe is our new Orioles correspondent for 2022 (and hopefully beyond). He'll be watching the games and reporting about the growth of the Orioles here throughout the season.

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RANDY MORGAN
on American soccer


Americans are playing more and more of a vital role in international soccer these days, and Randy Morgan has his eyes on all of them for #DMD. Each Tuesday here, he looks at recent performances of American players and highlights upcoming games of importance.


u.s. men's soccer stock report


The holiday period was a down time for most US national team players. All the major European leagues besides England’s were on a break for the weeks surrounding Christmas and the New Year. This weekend they sprung back into action and most of the American players were back on the field with their clubs.

While the past few weeks lacked much on field news, there was a flurry of activity off the field. Several American players completed big moves to start the new year with new clubs in Europe. The largest of those was Ricardo Pepi’s $20 million transfer to Augsburg in Germany’s Bundesliga. The move made Pepi the the most expensive homegrown player ever to be exported from MLS to Europe and was a club record transfer fee for FC Dallas.

19-year-old American Ricardo Pepi fetched $20 million transfer fee from German club Augsburg.

The large investment in the 19 year old striker demonstrates the upside the German club sees in the Texan. It is a great move for Pepi, as he will get a chance to learn in one of the top leagues in the world for young players while testing himself against top caliber competition. Augsburg are currently in the lower middle of the Bundesliga points table.

Joining a team a little bit lower in the league standings likely gives Pepi a better chance to earn playing time and get his bearings without the pressure of the race for a title or Champions League place. If he performs well at Augsburg he will certainly draw attention from the bigger clubs around Europe. The key for him will be to integrate quickly and start earning the trust of his teammates and coaches so he can get on the field and stay sharp for the critical upcoming qualifiers for the US team.

Another young striker made a move to Europe as well. Daryl Dike completed a transfer to West Bromwich Albion in the English Championship (2nd tier) for around $9.5 million. At West Brom Dike will reunite with his coach from Barnsley last season, where he had a successful loan spell in the same league. This move provides Dike with a big opportunity to earn his way back into the picture at striker for the US. West Brom currently sit in 4th place in the Championship, putting them firmly in the battle for promotion to the Premier League. That is a huge stage for Dike to make an impact and impress Gregg Berhalter along the way. If he can reproduce his success from last season he will be hard to keep out of the team.

It was a great last month for New York City FC defender James Sands. Fresh off winning the MLS Cup, Sands has secured an 18 month loan to the top team in the Scottish Premier League, storied Glasgow club, Rangers. Sands will need to fight his way into the lineup in the midst of another title race for the defending champions, but if he is able to earn playing time it will be an invaluable learning experience for the 21 year old.

While the Scottish Premier League is not a huge step up in skill level from MLS, Rangers are a class above most of the league and provide a good level for Sands to grow his game and make a name for himself in Europe. In addition to the title race, Rangers are still alive in the knockout round of the Europa League, where they are scheduled to face Gio Reyna’s Borussia Dortmund.


Stock Up

Wasting no time upon his arrival, Ricardo Pepi made his debut for Augsburg in the 60th minute of their 3-1 loss to Chris Richards and Hoffenheim. Though he didn’t get on the score sheet, Pepi did look sharp on the ball in his 30 or so minutes and showed good movement to drop back to help build attacks. He also got the best of Chris Richards on a couple occasions, nearly directing a cross on goal on one of them. The biggest worry with a young player making a move to a bigger league is playing time, and this quick introduction for Pepi is a positive sign that Augsburg plans to give him ample opportunity to shine on the field.

Four other key US starters had good showings for their clubs this week as well. Christian Pulisic was the busiest American player over the last few weeks, with Chelsea short on players due to Covid and the Premier League having a packed holiday schedule. Pulisic started each of Chelsea’s four games over the last couple weeks. While he hadn’t been at the top of his game recently, mostly due to playing out of position to fill needs for Chelsea, he delivered a standout performance in one of their biggest games of the season against Liverpool last week.

Playing in a more suitable attacking midfield position, Pulisic had a big impact on the game, scoring a nice left footed goal to even the score at 2-2 in the first half, which eventually became the final result. Unfortunately for both Chelsea and Liverpool, the tie just widened the gap between them and league leaders Manchester City.

In Italy, Weston McKennie continued his standout season for Juventus, starting at center midfield in both a 1-1 draw with Napoli last Thursday and a crazy 4-3 win over Roma on Sunday. McKennie showed some good passing vision in midfield along with his typical industrious work ethic in each game. Against Napoli he helped set up the only goal with a nice run onto a ball in the channel and a chipped pass back into the box from the endline. In the Roma match, he set up the game winning goal with a skillful chipped pass into the box. The goal completed a comeback from a 3-1 deficit for an improbable 4-3 win. The victory was a boost to Juventus’s fight to remain in the race for a Champions League place.

Tyler Adams returned to the starting lineup for RB Leipzig as the Bundesliga season resumed this weekend. He delivered a solid all around performance in a much needed 4-1 win over Mainz. Adams was extremely efficient passing the ball, completing 97% and was also involved in the build up to the second and third Leipzig goals, playing an accurate long ball to put an attacker in on goal for the former.

Yunus Musah got a big opportunity for Valencia this week. The teenage midfielder started in center midfield for both the midweek cup win over Cartagena and the weekend league match against leaders Real Madrid. Musah had one of his best games of the season in the cup win. He had some good moments against Real Madrid, but also had a bad turnover that led directly to the third goal in a 4-1 loss.

Musah has often played out of position on the wing this season, but with several players missing he is getting a chance to play his more preferred role at his club leading up to the World Cup qualifiers.


Stock Down

There was some disappointing news for another young US prospect in the Red Bull system. Teenage midfielder Caden Clark was set to join Tyler Adams at RB Leipzig in January, but he has been loaned back to the New York Red Bulls until at least the summer. Leipzig is in a tough battle to get back into the Champions League next season so opportunities might have been limited for Clark. The club also cited logistics around Covid as a reason for the move.

Going back to NY for another season in MLS will give Clark a chance to establish his game with more playing time before moving to Europe. He is probably a long shot for this World Cup cycle but he will likely be an important piece of the U20 team that will try to qualify for the next Olympics this summer.

Sergio Dest sat out once again in Barcelona’s 1-1 draw with Granada this weekend. He had missed the previous game due to Covid but was an unused substitute in this one. Dest has seen limited playing time since new coach Xavi took over and is one of several players Barcelona are rumored to be shopping for transfers as they try to improve their financial situation. It’s certainly not ideal for Dest to play so sparingly leading up to the next round of crucial World Cup qualifiers. Hopefully the situation resolved itself sooner rather than later.

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"Regular Joe"
on the 2022 Orioles and their minor league teams


"Regular Joe" has been following the Orioles for the better part of four decades. He'll be our eyes and ears in 2022 as the O's continue to rebuild a winner in the American League East. He'll also follow the organization's minor league teams and keep a watchful eye on "The Baby Birds".


hope springs eternal


As we venture into 2022, many local sports fans are struggling a bit. The Ravens teased us early in the season with some fantastic finishes, but the events of this past weekend have ended any championship dreams.

The Terps basketball team is close to unwatchable; I am not sure how you construct a basketball team these days without any guys that can shoot, but my guess is that is one of the reasons Mark Turgeon is no longer on the sideline. At least for me I am glad the Wizards are competitive. I grew up a huge Baltimore Bullets fan and am glad to see Wes Unseld Jr. have some early success.

What will Mike Elias do with the Orioles' 2022 roster?

And of course we still have baseball in Charm City, which is what I will focus on here at #DMD. January is normally a month for “hope” for Orioles fans of the last 35-40 years, with many of those years turning into disappointment. Thankfully for me, it wasn’t always like that. I grew up in the glory years (1966 – 1983), when the Orioles were not only one of the best teams in baseball but one of the better franchises in sports. And when you lived in York, Pa, there was no sweeter moment than beating the Phillies in 1983, since my hometown was pretty much split between the two teams.

So fast forward to 2022, and I am “hoping” for those glory years to return. I am sure we all are. However, there are a few facts to consider:

* Our beloved Os are 178-368 since the beginning of 2018 (or winning less than 1 out of every 3 games).

* The current payroll for 2022 stands at less than $24 million, per Spotrac (with another $27 million in deferred or “retained” salaries) – thanks Alex Cobb and Chris Davis.

* Mike Elias has blessed the fans with one major league signing for 2022 so far, Jordan Lyles, a journeyman starting pitcher who owns a career ERA of 5.21 and 54-79 record.

* The owners have locked out the players union, thereby eliminating all major league transactions and reducing the baseball news cycle to a drip; not a real bright idea given the declining popularity of the sport.

I do think we will have a season – remember hope springs eternal. And this is a big one for the Elias leadership team. He has steered this ship for the past three full seasons, generating real progress in the minors, but little to show at the major league level. I believe that is OK at this point but likely needs to show some increases in the win totals over the next two seasons, if ownership is paying attention (the fans certainly will be).

My goal will be to report on the major league club at least weekly, and sprinkle in consistent updates from the farm. I am anxious to see how the players who did so well at lower levels in 2021 perform as the 2022 season evolves. My early take is that we are developing some good hitting talent – Henderson, Westburg, Cowser, etc. – and we will really need it to acquire some pitching, because Rodriquez and Hall aren’t nearly enough.

I am not forgetting Adley Rutchman, but am already assuming he is a major league catcher.

As we look outside at this cold, dreary weather, this Oriole fan will stay hopeful for 2022. Baseball at the Yard (and at Delmarva for that matter, close to Drew’s new beach house?) on an 80 degree day sounds pretty good right now. Stay well everyone.

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Monday
January 10, 2022
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2695


so......that happened


OK, well, the good news: Technically, the Steelers didn't eliminate the Ravens from the post-season.

The bad news: The Ravens let the Steelers make the post-season by losing yesterday's finale, 16-13 in OT.

Yes, sure, Pittsburgh winning the game was the finishing blow, but even if the Ravens would have won that one, they still wouldn't have made the playoffs once the Dolphins beat the Patriots.

But losing and letting the Steelers into the playoffs? Yuck. Not a good way to end the season.

Where to start?

A 6-game losing streak to end the regular season left John Harbaugh and the Ravens down and out on Sunday in Baltimore.

The Ravens finished the year on a 6-game losing streak. They lost their last three home games of the season and finished the year 5-4 in Baltimore. Those three defeats were by one point to Green Bay, one point to the Rams and a three point overtime defeat to Pittsburgh. They were in them all to the end -- and lost them all.

It's fair to point out they played four of their last six games without the services of arguably their two most important players; Lamar Jackson and Marlon Humphrey. There were lots of injuries both before and after they each went down, but those two injuries were the most impactful of them all.

Someone hopped on Twitter yesterday and implored me not to use injuries as an excuse for the Ravens going from 8-3 to 8-9 and missing the playoffs.

Sure thing.

Except, umm, injuries were the biggest reason why the team couldn't win a game down the stretch. They came close...yes. They were right there...absolutely. One play here or there would have swung things...perhaps. But when you're playing 3rd and 4th stringers, those moment-of-truth circumstances are likely not going your way.

Late in yesterday's game, the Ravens had Brandon Stephens playing cornerback. You might remember him. He was once a running back for UCLA before transferring to SMU. He played safety and cornerback on Sunday. Once Tavon Young and Chris Westry both left with injuries, the Ravens asked Stephens to step in and go man-to-man against the likes of Chase Claypool and Diontae Johnson. Quite the mismatch.

That's how a team like the Ravens winds up losing six straight games. Not only did they have rookies, newcomers and practice squad guys playing pivotal roles in the most important game(s) of the season, a handful of them were playing out of position as well.

Injuries weren't the only reason the Ravens lost on Sunday to the Steelers. And injuries weren't the only reason the Ravens lost their last six games to fall out of the playoffs. But the margin of defeat, particularly in the last two, was all about the talent on the field. The Ravens didn't have enough of it.

There are folks around town who spent much of Sunday evening griping about Greg Roman. It's that way every time the Ravens lose, of course. What I saw on Sunday was a Hall of Fame quarterback outplaying a back-up quarterback, albeit neither of them were even close to being spectacular on a rainy, chilly Sunday in Charm City. But tip your cap to Roethlisberger, who expertly drove Pittsburgh down the field in overtime after the Ravens won the toss but were forced to punt.

The other team tries, too, especially when it's your fiercest rival and a chance to keep playing next weekend is on the line.

It was probably fitting -- make that "vomit-worthy-fitting" -- that Roethlisberger stuck the final nail in Baltimore's 2021 coffin. He tortured the Ravens for the better part of 18 seasons and will go down as one of the biggest thorns in the franchise's side...ever. The drive in overtime was vintage Big Ben, moving around, seeing the field well, dumping off short passes and throwing sideline darts to keep drives alive. Good riddance.

The unsettling loss to Roethlisberger and the Steelers became eye wash later in the day when the Dolphins upended the Patriots. That outcome would have kept Baltimore out of the post-season anyway, but it's doubtful that result eased John Harbaugh's mind last night as he reflected on a lost opportunity in the final six weeks of the season. The Steelers came to Baltimore and beat the Ravens in the final regular season game. That's how Harbaugh will remember January 9, 2022.

We'll spend this week breaking down what we saw over the last 18 weeks, handing out report cards and such and doing the normal post-season clean-up stuff that we do once the final ball is thrown for the Ravens.

But the overwhelming theme of the 2021 season will always be the injuries. They started in August and continued for the next four months. Along the way, the Ravens lost their top two running backs, their best two defensive backs, a starting interior defensive lineman, their starting offensive left tackle and their franchise quarterback. There are others that we're failing to mention, but you get the idea. It was just too much to overcome.

There will be lingering questions about the two point conversion decisions vs. the Steelers and Packers. Harbaugh will deal with those the same way Greg Roman and Wink Martindale will deal with their respective failings. Roman's offense was terrible in the red zone over the last month of the season and Martindale's defense couldn't make a stop in the fourth quarter when December games were on the line. No one gets out alive when you missed the playoffs by a whisker and several of the games came down to one or two plays that your team couldn't make.

If there's good news for the Ravens, it comes in the simple thought that 2022 will be better, health wise. There's simply no way the team will encounter another season like the one they just faced. There will be injuries, sure, but nothing like we saw in the 2021 campaign.

A few key decisions are on the table right away, which we will address here tomorrow at #DMD as our "look ahead" begins. There's a looming 14th pick in the first round of the draft that should provide the '22 roster with an impact player. And free agency provides several opportunities for the Ravens to improve as well.

So, that's a wrap on the 2021 season. It started with a loss in Las Vegas in overtime and ended in Baltimore with an overtime loss to the Steelers.

In between, it was one wild ride. It was a season -- and an ending -- that won't soon be forgotten.

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"insanity!"


It wasn't quite of the caliber of "Do you believe in miracles?!", but Al Michaels' call of the last second touchdown pass by Justin Herbert that sent last night's pivotal Chargers-Raiders game to overtime was still awesome.

And very simple.

"Insanity!" Michaels said after Mike Williams hauled in a 12-yard touchdown on 4th down as time expired with his team's season on the line.

Derek Carr and the Raiders survived an incredible Chargers rally from 15 points down late in the game and won in overtime last night, 35-32, to earn a first round playoff encounter with the Bengals.

The ensuing overtime period was worth the price of admission, as the Raiders struck first with a field goal, the Chargers countered with their own -- a series that included yet another 4th down throw that (temporarily) saved their season -- and then the final two minutes included one of the most bizarre sequences we've seen in......well......forever.

With both teams advancing to the playoffs if the game ended in a tie (Chargers would have gone to Buffalo and Raiders would have traveled to Arrowhead to play K.C.), the Raiders got the ball to the 39 yard line, but with 38 seconds remaining in the game, Los Angeles called timeout.

The Raiders were apparently content on letting the clock run out there and taking themselves to Arrowhead and allowing the Chargers to make the post-season as well. But when Los Angeles called timeout, Las Vegas regrouped, ran for a first down to the L.A. 29 yard line, and then kicked the game-winning field goal at the buzzer to change their plans. Pittsburgh heads to Kansas City, Los Angeles goes home, and the Raiders get to visit the Bengals in Cincinnati.

"Insanity!"

Someone else besides the Steelers benefitted from the Raiders-Chargers game not ending in a tie: The bookmakers.

The books were sweating out a multi-million dollar loss if the contest in Las Vegas (sure, go ahead and raise your eyebrows now) would have ended in a tie after that overtime period. One bettor from an undisclosed location had this 5-way card on Sunday: a Steelers win, a Seahawks win, a Jaguars win, a Browns win and a Raiders-Chargers tie. His $1,000 investment would have returned a whopping $477,000 payday had last night's game ended 29-29 or 32-32.

Instead, he's just another guy who lost $1,000 betting on football games. But he has a whopper of a story to tell at the bar for the next couple of years. And, I assume, he won't be much of a Chargers fan moving forward.

So Pittsburgh gets the luxury of going to Kansas City next Sunday night and getting blown out by the Chiefs.

Buffalo hosts their old friends, Bill Belichick and the Patriots on Saturday.

And the Raiders get to take on the Bengals in early game on Sunday.

In the NFC, Philadelphia travels to Tampa Bay on Saturday.

San Francisco visit Dallas on Sunday.

And next Monday night, Arizona goes to Los Angeles to take on the Rams.

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dale williams aims the
terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his seventh season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2021-2022 season.


terps drop nailbiter to badgers


The Wisconsin Badgers escaped with a 70-69-win last night in the XFINITY Center. "Escaped" being the important word in that sentence.

A desperation heave at that buzzer by Eric Ayala, one that would have given the Terps their first conference win, was way off the mark, as Maryland fell to 0-4 in conference while Wisconsin improved their record to 4-1.

Maryland did a nice job on the Badger’s Johnny Davis, holding him to 19 points, but it was Tyler Wahl’s absolute destruction of Donta Scott that sealed Maryland’s fate. Wahl put up 21 points on 8-12 shooting and was a perfect 5 for 5 from the foul line. Maryland was led by Ayala’s 19 points. All of his points were scored in the second half.

Tyler Wahl's 21 points led #23 Wisconsin to a 70-69 win at Maryland last night.

The game started out like it would be a blowout of unprecedented proportions. At 8:21 mark of the first half, the Terps were offering no resistance on the defensive side of the court, and between taking ill-advised shots and missing everything else, they fell behind by a whopping 21 points, 29-8.

They looked so bad while scoring just 8 points in over 11 minutes, that a 30-point halftime deficit was not out of the question. At the under 8-minute TV timeout, the Terp cheerleaders tossed t-shirts into the stands. Some of those shirts came closer to going in the hoop than a few of the basketball team’s shots. It was that bad.

But, as sometimes happens in college basketball, in a flash that all changed. Wisconsin’s torrid shooting fizzled, and Terp shots started to fall. A three pointer by Xavier Green, followed by a 4-point play by Donta Scott, highlighted a 15-0 Maryland run. The Terps were able to cut the 21-point deficit down to as little as six before closing out the half down 7, 33-26.

That run happened largely with Eric Ayala and Fatts Russell on the bench. Each player had been charged with 2 personal fouls. Wisconsin was dealing with their own foul trouble as both of their big men, Steven Crowl and Tyler Wahl, had also accumulated 2 fouls. All four players would return for the start of the second half.

In the first 5 minutes of the second half, Maryland outscored the Badgers 10-2, and took a 36-35 lead. Fatts Russell started the second half scoring with 2 buckets in the paint and then Eric Ayala hit back-to-back 3’s. From that point on, neither team could gain much of an advantage.

Wisconsin did manage to go up by three, 53-50 with 7:34 left, but Maryland’s Xavier Green hit a three and then a pull up 2-pointer to give the Terps a 55-53 lead with 6:30 remaining in the game.

After 4 straight points by Wahl, Ayala hit a jumper to tie the game at 57 with 4:50 left. Wisconsin would lead for the rest of the night. The go-ahead bucket would be provided by the 7-footer Crowl when he buried a three from just left of the top of the key. That shot would be a back-breaker.

After a missed Scott three-pointer as the shot clock was running out, the Badgers went to their bread and butter, Johnny Davis. Davis delivered a short jumper, pushing the Wisconsin led to 5 with 3:03 remaining. The Terps had one more run in them.

Hakim Hart made consecutive lay ups to pull Maryland within 1 point. Johhny Davis then missed from short range and the Terps finally had their opportunity to grab a late lead. But it was not meant to be. Hart missed a wide open three pointer from the right corner which was rebounded by Wisconsin.

Brad Davison followed that with a nice jumper while moving to his right. Wisconsin was now up three and in control. The game followed a pattern of made Maryland buckets followed by made Badger foul shots. This continued until the final foul shots by Wisconsin’s Davison. Up by 1 point with just 4 seconds left in the game, Davison went to the line with a chance to put his team up three.

Davison missed the first shot, and then intentionally missed the second, giving Maryland limited time to get the ball downcourt for the win. The strategy worked well, as Ayala’s desperation heave need to cover more than half the court. The shot never had a chance and Wisconsin walked away winners.

This game was won on the shoulders of Tyler Wahl. He absolutely torched an uninterested-looking Donta Scott. On two occasions, Scott was caught daydreaming while Wahl cut to the basket to receive an inbounds pass from under the Wisconsin basket. The results were a layup and a dunk. In a one-point game, those types of mistakes are inexcusable. Actually, they are inexcusable in any situation.

I didn’t figure Wahl to push Scott around, but he did. Maybe Scott was sick or even injured. Whatever the case, Wahl was able to back down Scott for easy buckets all night. Scott had no answers for Wahl and it cost Maryland a chance for Victory.

In the first half, Maryland did a nice job of keeping the Badgers off of the offensive glass. Wisconsin did manage to pull down 5 offensive boards in the final 20 minutes.

The Terps will travel to Northwestern on Wednesday for a 9 p.m. game against the Wildcats.

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The Stats Nerd
And His Numbers


Contributed by #DMD's data and numbers analyst
The Stats Nerd


potential ravens talent on the field tonight?


Now that the Ravens are eliminated from the playoffs, I guess we are officially in offseason mode around here. Some are calling for massive changes to be made on the roster and amongst the coaching staff but I don’t really see it that way. I’m sure Drew will go over the key questions facing the team this off-season but I’m not here to go through all of that right now.

What I am here to do is start looking at the 2022 NFL Draft. The Ravens are loaded with picks (10) due to various trades and compensatory situations. I do believe they need to get younger in some key spots and, as this season showed us all, a team can never be deep enough. In addition, they pick higher (14) than they have since 2016 when they selected Ronnie Stanley 6th.

The first opportunity to see some potential Ravens is tonight in the College Football Playoff Championship Game between Alabama and Georgia. Unsurprisingly, these teams are absolutely loaded with 15+ players between them likely to be drafted. I would not be at all surprised to see 1 or 2 of the players in this game suited up in purple and black next fall.

Below is a listing of key players to keep an eye as you watch this evening. While I have watched both of these teams 4 or 5 times this season, I haven't studied tape or anything like that. This is merely a summary of what I have seen across several draft and scouting sites.

I’ll hit on this more at a later time but my hunch is that basically any position on the field other than QB and K is probably in play. Some positions represent a bigger need for the team but almost all other positions could at least use some depth, if not impact players.

First Round

Evan Neal, OT Alabama

Unless the Ravens move up in the draft, Neal will not be on the board at 14. He is 6’6” 360 and he is a run blocking mauler with good pass blocking skill. Probably a more natural RT he moved to LT this year for the Tide and still was All SEC.

Projected Draft Position: Top 5


Georgia's Nakobe Dean would be a perfect Raven, according to #DMD's Stats Nerd.

Jordan Davis, DT Georgia

I’ve read 5 or 6 scouting reports on him and boy they are all over the place. There is no question that he has the potential to disrupt from the inside of the defensive line. He is a big one and holds the line well in the run game but separates from others by his ability to get pressure from the inside. His issues seem to be that he isn’t very consistent. His highlight reel is super impressive so don’t be surprised if he makes a big play or two tonight.

Projected Draft Position: Anywhere from 10th to Early R2


Nakobe Dean, ILB Georgia

My goodness he jumps off the screen. He plays a similar position and style as Patrick Queen. He can be a missile at times getting into the backfield and from sideline to sideline. He is far better in the passing game though and can handle pass coverage on TE and RBs. Can line him up all over the field and really good on the blitz. The only issue with him is that he is a little small. If he were 6’3” 240 he would likely be a top 5-6 pick.

This guy smells like a Raven.

Projected Draft Position: Anywhere from 12th to Early R2


Jameson Williams, WR Alabama

Williams transferred from Ohio State and just had a monster season. He has good size (6’2”) and runs all the routes and catches almost everything. He can stretch the field and catch in traffic. I’ve seen him compared to former Alabama star Jerry Jeudy but he may be even faster. This guy is going to be a problem in the NFL. If the Ravens select him in R1 that will tip their hand on intentions with Hollywood I think. I love this player as a Best Player Available (BPA) type of pick.

Projected Draft Position: 10th-20th in R1


Jordan Battle, S Alabama

Strong and physical safety at 6’1” 210 lbs he can cover as well as hit hard in the run game. Super solid all around safety. Seems if he has a weakness he has been occasionally sloppy with tackles and angles. Might be a good pick if he falls to the Ravens in the 2nd.

Projected Draft Position: Late 1st-Mid 2nd


OTHERS --

George Pickens, WR Georgia

Were it not for a torn ACL last spring, Pickens would likely be a high first rounder. As it is, he only played the last regular season game for Georgia plus the SEC Championship and the CFP game versus Cincinnati. Not super fast but has really nice size and solid hands. A lot of the draft experts like him for the Ravens in R2.

Projected Draft Position: 2nd-Early 3rd


Henry To’o To’o, LB Alabama

High character, high motor 3 down linebacker. He is very physical and plays sideline to sideline. Maybe a bit small to play in the middle and doesn’t have a tone of pop. Just a super solid mid round linebacker.

Projected Draft Position: 3rd or 4th Round


Christian Harris, LB Alabama

The other pro ready LB is Harris. A high end athlete, he has only played LB for 2 seasons. Not surprisingly his weaknesses seemed to be in space and coverage. He could potentially develop into a dominant player but coming out he still has a bit of developing to do.

Projected Draft Position: 2nd or 3rd Round


Travon Walker, Edge, Georgia

Plays best on the edge rushing the QB. High motor, athletic and plays long. He also is fairly versatile and is big and strong enough to take some snaps inside. Another guy that fits the mold of the Ravens.

Projected Draft Position: 2nd Round


Josh Jobe, CB Alabama

A later round pick, Jobe hits hard and tackles well for a CB. He plays super physical and isn’t afraid to get chippy with receivers. He plays well in press coverage against bigger, stronger receivers. Would be a nice mid round pick up.

Projected Draft Position: 3rd or Early 4th Round

That’s 10 players and, honestly, I could do 15 more. Both of these teams are loaded with athleticism that will be playing on Sundays. I particularly love Williams and Dean but really all of these players could help John Harbaugh’s team in the future.

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#DMD GAME DAY
Week 18


Sunday — January 9, 2021
Issue 2694

Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens

1:00 PM EST

M&T Bank Stadium
Baltimore, MD

Spread: Ravens (-3.5)



send ben home


OK, maybe the NFL got this one right.

I'm not sure they knew all that would be on the line today when they created the 2021 regular season schedule last spring, but they sure did create a doozy of a match-up this afternoon in Baltimore.

Today's game -- otherwise known as the Ben Roethlisberger Invitational -- could mean a whole lot to one of the teams if the Colts somehow stub their toe in Jacksonville and a couple of other things fall favorably for them. It's hard to believe, given how lousy both the Steelers and Ravens have been at various points in '21-22, that either of these teams could make the post-season, but indeed it is possible that one of these two could be playing next weekend.

The weather forecast being what it is and all, there's really no telling how this one might play out.

Tyler Huntley hopes to keep the Ravens' playoff chances alive today in the season finale vs. Pittsburgh.

Cold and windy is one thing. It's AFC North football, after all. It's supposed to be cold and windy in January when the Ravens and Steelers meet.

Cold, windy, rainy and icy -- now that's a different story. As this edition of #DMD is created just after 6 am on Sunday morning, the weather looks fine. The overnight precipitation either never materialized or is slow arriving. Right now, outside, it just looks like we're in store for a cold winter day in Charm City.

But if the ice and rain do show up by game-time, things change dramatically. Keep an eye on the roads if you're heading downtown for the Big Ben Classic.

The lead-up to the game will, of course, focus on Ben Roethlisberger, who is playing (apparently) his final regular season game ever. That it's happening in Baltimore is quite poetic indeed. Other than Pittsburgh, where Ben carved out most of his historical goodness, the highlights of his career probably involve the Ravens more than any other team. He beat us more than we beat him, it seems. Sure, Charlie Batch somehow came to Baltimore once and won a big game, but Roethlisberger was a collosal pain in the rear end for the better part of two decades.

If the Ravens do put a message on the video board for Ben today, it should simply read: "Congrats Ben, you were great. Now...good riddance."

As for the Ravens themselves, today's game does fall into "must win" territory, for if they lose, they're officially done. But they also need help, of course, and a lot of it.

The Ravens need to beat Pittsburgh and then they need the following to also occur today:

Patriots beat Dolphins in Miami.

Jaguars beat Colts in Jacksonville.

Raiders beat Chargers in Las Vegas.

Oh, and if all of that happens today and if the Titans beat the Texans in Houston, the Ravens would then travel to Kansas City next weekend for their playoff opener. That's quite a reward, huh?

If the Ravens do get past the Steelers today, they'll be doing it with Tyler Huntley at quarterback. The back-up to Lamar Jackson will make his 2nd straight start today but figures to be without two key pieces to the team's offense -- fullback Patrick Ricard and tight end Nick Boyle. Those two aren't the equivalent of Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce or anything like that, but on a day where the Ravens will likely try and use their rushing attack early and often, the loss of Ricard and Boyle is potentially very damaging.

There's a lot at stake today for both teams, even if Jacksonville doesn't get the job done against the Colts. A winning season is on the line for the Ravens, while the Steelers are ready to end one era and start another with the expected departure of Roethlisberger. Jobs and future contracts, draft pick order, and pride in performance are all part of this afteroon's contest in Charm City.

A loss for the Ravens means they end the season on an unheard of six-game losing streak. Sure, the fine print will show you injuries and Covid-19 wrecked what was, at one point, a promising campaign. But flying overhead and looking down from 35,000 feet, all you see is "from 8-3 to 8-9", with at least two games mixed in there (at Pittsburgh, home vs. Green Bay) where the Ravens had the game on their racquet and couldn't serve one into the box to finish things off.

No matter what happens in Jacksonville today, this is a big season-ender for the Ravens.

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how drew sees today's game


I guess I can make this simple and move on to more important stuff, like giving you five more winners today in our betting piece below.

The Ravens aren't losing to Pittsburgh this afternoon.

We see...Big Ben leaving Baltimore with a sad look on his face this afternoon.

For starters, the Steelers aren't really any good.

They have one decent win in the last two months. They beat Tennessee in Pittsburgh. Other than that, what have they done? Sure, they beat the Ravens by one point, but Baltimore took half-a-team to Heinz Field for that game. Trust me, the Steelers are the Browns but with just a little more organizational heart.

Tyler Huntley will throw 1 touchdown pass and run for another. Devin Duvernay will also find the end zone on that famous jet-sweep playcall that Greg Roman loves to use once a game.

The Baltimore defense will get to Roethlisberger four times today, including a ferocious hit by Tyus Bowser that will send the crowd into a frenzy.

Yes, T.J. Watt will get the sack record with 2 of them on the day, but that's about the only highlight the Steelers will have in Ben's final game.

The Ravens lead 10-3 at half and win this one 24-16 to finish the season at 9-8. Unfortunately, the season ends on a down note, though, as the Colts blister the Jaguars 30-14 to claim an AFC playoff spot.

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"saving up for the duke fund"


My son bounced into the living room a few days ago with an announcement.

"Dad, I want to go to Duke."

"Huh?" I said.

"Yep, I want to swim and play golf at Duke," he replied.

Once I explained to him he likely can't do both at Duke, he still insisted he wants to eventually wind up in Durham. I have no idea where that came from, although I assume a certain basketball program and Hall of Fame coach has something to do with it.

"Duke's a great school," he added in as he made himself another tray of chicken nuggets, his 3rd (or 4th?) of the day.

"Duke is a great school," I confirmed. "It's also an expensive school."

Fortunately, I have three full years to start saving up for Duke. And what better way to start the "Duke fund" than by winning five NFL games today, right? I mean, the beach house project is done. We clobbered Las Vegas through the first 17 weeks of this season. Why not get started with the Duke Fund in Week 18, right? And we still have the playoffs to come.

Heck, by the end of January, I might have enough in the bank for Duke and a nice off-campus condo for my son.

Here's who we like today:

TITANS AT TEXANS (+10.5) -- Tennessee has to win today in order to secure home ice in the first round of the playoffs, which would give Derrick Henry an all-important extra week to recover from his foot injury. The Texans beat the Titans earlier this year, remember, and these late season division games are always tricky even when one team is good and the other isn't. We're going with Tennessee to win this one late, but we'll take the Texans and the 10.5 points in a 27-24 Titans victory.


Look for Josh Allen and the Bills to roll over the Jets today...but will they cover the 16.5 point spread? That's the question.

BENGALS AT BROWNS (-5.5) -- Cincinnati has zero to play for and their 53-man game-day roster will reflect that. The Browns also have nothing to play for, but they'll go into this game in a completely different mindset than the visiting Bengals. We love, love, love Cleveland today and think this one could turn into a blowout, as Case Keenum and the Browns win going away, 31-13.


JETS AT BILLS (-16.5) -- Another one of those tricky end-of-season division games that is probably better to stay away from than play, but we're diving in anyway. We don't see the Jets winning this one, but we're taking New York and the 16.5 points as they get a late touchdown and backdoor cover in a 23-10 Buffalo victory.


SAINTS AT FALCONS (+3.5) -- New Orleans needs this game. Atlanta doesn't. New Orleans also needs help out in Los Angeles, but the Saints will march into Atlanta and win this one just to see what happens out west. We're going with New Orleans to win and cover the 3.5 points by the narrowest of margins, as the Saints win 27-23.


49'ERS AT RAMS (-3.5) -- The Rams didn't look all that great in Baltimore last Sunday and they have had a lot of trouble with the 49'ers in the last couple of years. That won't matter today. San Francisco gets bumped from the post-season and Los Angeles wins the NFC West and covers the 3.5 points with a 33-23 victory.


BEST BET OF THE DAY -- Give us the Saints in Atlanta giving up 3.5 points as today's "Best Bet". We just don't see New Orleans going in there and stubbing their toe against the Falcons today. Not with a playoff spot on the line for one team and nothing on the line for the other one. Take the Saints. Oh, and you might see below we've hammered Vegas in the "Best Bet" wager this year. Take notice, friends.


LAST WEEK'S RECORD: 3-2

SEASON RECORD TO DATE: 45-40

BEST BET OF THE DAY: 10-7

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dale williams aims the
terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his seventh season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2021-2022 season.


terps host wisconsin tonight


Unless I’ve totally underestimated the contribution to be made by the Wisconsin big men, Steven Crowl and Tyler Wahl, don’t be surprised to see the Terrapins hang in long enough tonight to put a scare into the 23rd ranked Wisconsin Badgers (10-2, 3-1).

The Badgers have recorded victories this season over #12 Houston, #3 Purdue, and also defeated a talented Marquette team. Unlike Florida, who was ranked when the Terps beat them in December, Wisconsin is a legit top 25 squad. They are a very fundamentally sound team that plays tough defense and protects the basketball.

Wisconsin’s +4 turnover ratio ranks among the leaders in that category in the Big Ten. As a reference, the Terps are -1.71. While playing at nowhere near the pace of the Terp’s last two opponents, Iowa and Illinois, this Badger team is not the slow plodding team of the recent Wisconsin past.

The Terps have been running into the country’s top scorers recently with Keegan Murray of Iowa (1st), Kofi Cockburn at Illinois (3rd), and now #2 Johnny Davis of Wisconsin. Davis is a scoring machine. You have to go back to December 1st to find a game in which Davis didn’t get at least 20 points and he topped out in the Badger road win at Purdue when he dropped 37.

Davis is by far the most athletic Badger and possesses a lethal pull up and turn-around jumper game. He can also put the ball on the floor and get inside, where he finishes with authority. He’s going to get his 20 plus points tonight. No Terp has the size and speed to stop him. I expect Hakim Hart to struggle with this assignment. Watch this guy. He may have the best pull-up and turnaround jumpers in college hoops.

Unlike their last game against Illinois, Maryland won’t have to contend with a 280-pound beast on the blocks tonight. The Badgers will start Crowl at center, but despite being 7’0” tall, his 234 pounds don’t assert nearly the same presence as Cockburn’s massive body. Crowl provides Wisconsin with 8.7 points per game, almost entirely scored on offensive rebounds and nice assists from his teammates. He doesn’t have the length, girth, or skill, to be a consistent scorer down low on isolations. I feel he can be neutralized by Maryland’s Qudus Wahab or Julian Reese.

Wisconsin’s “4” man, Tyler Wahl, is a bit more of an offensive concern for me tonight, but I like Donta Scott’s matchup here. With Wahl, Scott won’t have to contend with guarding the three-point line. Scott can instead focus upon using his bulkier body to keep Wahl from gaining advantageous offensive positions. If Wahl gets established, he has the skill to score inside.

I expect Eric Ayala to be chasing Wisconsin’s Brad Davison all evening. This is an even matchup of two strong, experienced guards. Davison, a fifth-year senior, is one of those players that seems like he’s been in the program for a decade. Over 62% of his field goal tries come from behind the three-point line. He’s a streaky shooter who hits just 35% from distance, but you have to respect his outside game, and chase him off of the line. He’s also a solid ball handler who rarely turns it over.

Now I’ll answer the question as to why I see the Terps being competitive here. Maryland has little athleticism and they struggle with teams and players that are long and can elevate. Wisconsin, outside of Davis, does not sport a lineup of pogo stick athletes. That alone certainly gives the Terps a chance. The Badger interior players are not intimidating, and they don’t block a ton of shots.

The point guard matchup of Fatts Russell against freshman Chucky Hepburn is favorable for the Terps. The 6’2” Hepburn won’t match the speed of Russell and on the offensive side, Hepburn shoots 36% from the field and just 29% from the three-point line.

As a team, Wisconsin shoots under 30% from behind the arc and just 41.5% overall. Unless they get red hot, I don’t expect an explosion of points from the Badgers. This again plays in Maryland’s favor.

Reese will be the most athletic player inside the paint, and Wahab won’t be pushed and thrown around. Ayala can post Davison and Russell will get blow-bys. Scott, who is at his best when he can create from the outside and go to the hoop, should have plenty of chances to do just that.

I’m left with three areas of concern tonight for the Terrapins. They are, in order, boxing out, boxing out, and boxing out. Maryland has to make a concerted effort to put butts into bodies and keep Wisconsin off of the offensive glass. The Badgers won’t be bigger and they shouldn’t just jump over the Terps. Solid blocking out will result in controlling the boards. This isn’t a prolific shooting team that Maryland is facing. There will be ample balls coming of the rim and clanking off of the backboard. Limiting second chance points is paramount to Maryland’s chances for success.

This game can be won by Maryland without scoring a ton of points. The books have installed Wisconsin as a very slight 1.5-point favorite. The total is just 110. I agree with the spread, but I think the total is a bit low.

Someone is going to have a buzzer beater attempt to win this game. The outcome hangs on that last possession. I’m going with a Terp victory here, 63-61. Maryland wins the battle in the paint and benefits from big offensive production from Ayala and Scott.

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Saturday
January 8, 2022
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2693


the things people say


If nothing else, the imminent retirement of Ben Roethlisberger has ignited an old flame here in Charm City.

"Hate the Steelers".

Granted, the rivalry has died down to embers these days and there's no telling when or if it will ever fully blaze again. Once Ray Lewis retired, it seemed like things started to quiet down. When Terrell Suggs departed, there wasn't much left at all. Roethlisberger truly is the last piece of wood on the fire. Once he goes, we can clean up the fire pit and sprinkle grass seed on it.

But...boy oh boy, that rivalry sure was great for the better part of two decades.

Maybe in the near future it will be Joe Burrow and the Bengals that draw Baltimore's ire. You know, the quarterback who had the audacity to throw a 52-yard pass while his team was ahead 41-21 a couple of weeks ago. (That's a little bit of sarcasm there...but it's true that the rivalry that matters most in Baltimore might be Ravens-Bengals in a couple of years).

The big debate around town this week has centered on whether or not the Ravens will, and should, recognize Ben Roethlisberger this Sunday when the Steelers and Ravens duel in the final game of the regular season.

If you buy any stock in social media posts and radio talk show callers, Baltimore seems fairly split on the idea. The Ravens haven't tipped their hand at all.

The decision will likely come from the top and filter down to the organization's game entertainment department. I can say this for certain: If the recently-retired Kevin Byrne were still the team's VP of Public Relations, Roethlisberger would receive a complimentary gesture from the Ravens during this Sunday's game. But that's how Byrne was -- always willing to tip his cap to the other team or player when the moment called for it. He was a classy man and would have led the charge to give Roethlisberger his due this Sunday, albeit in a quick, friendly way.

That said, Byrne's retired now and I'm not sure how the powers-that-be will react this Sunday. My suspicion is the Ravens will do something, at some point, but I wouldn't bet it either way.

I locked horns with a friend of mine yesterday on the very subject of "honoring" Roethlisberger. Part of the conversation I had with him was something Glenn Clark and I talked about last Wednesday during my appearance on Glenn Clark Radio.

My friend said, "I can't believe you think the Ravens should honor Roethlisberger this Sunday. He plays for the f***ing Steelers, man."

"First, no one ever used the word "honor" when discussing what the Ravens should do on Sunday," I shot back. "What I and a lot of others have asked is, "Are the Ravens going to recognize Ben for his career accomplishment(s) on Sunday?", which is far, far different than honoring him."

"The answer is still, "hell no!", no matter what you want to call it...honor, recognize, I don't care," my friend said.

I honestly didn't feel like arguing with him about the whole thing, mainly because I really couldn't care less what the Ravens do on Sunday. If they want to be classy about it and throw up 10 seconds of Ben getting sacked by the likes of Lewis, Suggs, Scott and Ngata and then end the video montage with something like "Congrats on a great career, Ben", that's fine by me.

If they choose to do nothing, that's fine as well. I know that the right thing to do would be to recognize him in some kind of way but I'm not going to throw flaming darts at them if they don't do it.

But then the conversation took a turn for the worse.

"And I would never stand up and applaud for a rapist like Roethlisberger," my friend stated.

There we go...

We're going in that direction, huh?

"Rapist..."

As a Ravens fan, the last thing you should ever do is bring up character issues within other organizations.

Today's edition of #DMD would be 5,000 words long if we chronicled every encounter-with-the-law the Ravens have had to deal with over the last 26 years.

Glenn Clark and I talked about this a lot on Wednesday of this week.

"You're going to stand your moral ground this Sunday if Roethlisberger gets recognized ("I'm not applauding a rapist") but you're good with the Ravens bringing in Terrell Suggs for Sunday's game and trotting him out to midfield to be part of the in-game entertainment?" Is that what you're saying?

I'm not here to broadcast all of Suggs' issues over the years and, much like Roethlisberger's pair of incidents in Nevada and Georgia didn't result in a guilty verdict, neither did any of the domestic charges against Suggs result in a guilty verdict.

I have no idea about the guilt or innocence of Roethlisberger or Suggs. I wasn't there and I've never seen the evidence from either side to the point that I could even render an opinion on it. So I don't know that either of them were guilty of anything, but I will say that the police reports filed in both situations didn't shed a favorable light on their innocence.

Still, that's neither here nor there. What's puzzling to me is how you can stand against Roethlisberger but will glorify Suggs.

We all know "why" that is -- one guy played for the Steelers and one guy played for the Ravens. It's a pretty simple game.

But it's also inherently wrong.

If you want to sit down with your hands under your butt cheeks on Sunday while the Ravens recognize Big Ben, go right ahead. I would never judge you. If I were at the game, I'd surely stand up and give him his 5 second "golf clap" because I think he was a great player and competitor, but if you don't want to do that, I get it. No harm there.

But if you just draw a line in the sand and say, "I'm never, ever showing any member of the Steelers any kind of good grace," I totally understand. Well, I don't "totally understand", but I also realize that sometimes you have to draw a line and not be willing to cross it under any circumstances.

The Flyers haven't had a great player in 20 years or so, but if I happened to be at Bobby Clarke's final game ever in Washington D.C., and the Capitals showed a quick video montage of Clarke and he stepped out onto the ice and raised his stick to the crowd, I'd stand up and golf clap him. I'd probably have my index and middle fingers crossed so it didn't count, but you get the idea.

To me, you do the right thing in moments like that, even if -- I can't believe I'm writing this -- it's Bobby Clarke and the Flyers. Or Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers. That's the message I would pass along to my own son this Sunday if we were in the stands and he asked me why I stood up and clapped for Roethlisberger.

"Because he was a great player and he had a great career and it's the right thing to do," I'd say.

But refusing to clap because he's a Steeler and refusing to clap because "he's a rapist" are entirely different animals.

And if you're going to pull the "rapist card" on Roethlisberger, you better be willing to pull the "poured bleach on his girlfriend" card on Suggs. Unless, of course, you play that role of the guy who only brings up the bad stuff when it involves the other team. Like my friend, for example.

"We probably shouldn't go there," I said to him with a giggle when he brought up the Roethlisberger rape issue.

"Oh, you're going to bring up Ray and the murder stuff in Atlanta now, aren't you?" he replied.

"Actually, no, I'm not. But you just did. And that's exactly what people in Pittsburgh would have done if the roles were reversed and the Steelers put up a 10-second video montage of Ray Lewis," I said.

"I'm not standing up and clapping for that guy," Steelers fans would have said. "He killed two people in Atlanta."

No, he didn't. In fact, there was a trial for that incident and those who were charged were found not guilty. Ray Lewis never did pull out a knife and stab two people, even though a lot of football fans around the country cling to that statement as if it were true.

But that's how we roll these days.

If it's "your guy", you come up with a way to nuance your way out of it. If it's the other guy, you go in with both barrels, aim, and shoot.

This isn't just a sports problem, either.

In 2020, people all over the country said the former President was "directly responsible for everyone who is dying from Covid-19."

In 2022, those same people have their lips sealed shut as the virus rages on and people all over the country are still contracting Covid-19 and dying from it. Back then it was the President's fault. Now it's not the President's fault, even though the current President used that very subject as one of the main platforms during his campaign.

"My administration will get rid of this virus," was the statement. Over and over.

Yet the folks who chastised the former President for not being able to control the virus are silent when the current President can't control it, either.

And this is not a political argument at all about which President was "better". It's a topic about the way people are when they render their opinion on something.

It's called "memory of convenience", which has become one of our worst character flaws in the United States of America.

And you'll see that flaw on full display this Sunday in Baltimore if Roethlisberger and Suggs are both featured somehow.

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Friday
January 7, 2022
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2692


how on earth do you believe antonio brown?


My friend on December 19: "I swear, Maryland winters are the worst anymore. It's 55 and sunny the whole time. I can't stand it."

My same friend via text this morning after our golf in York, PA got cancelled due to snow: "I'm moving to Florida. I can't stomach this snow all the time."

I'm probably the exception amongst my golfing friends, but I've always enjoyed -- and, oddly needed -- a nice run of winter weather that forced me to take a break from golf. It created a de facto "off season", gave my body time to recover and rebuild, and just provided what I believe to be a necessary break from the sport for a few weeks.

That's not to say I wouldn't mind living in a place like Florida, Arizona or California where you can play every day of the year, rain notwithstanding, but I do believe in the mental and physical "re-set" that winter weather provides.

Enjoy the snow. Drive safe.


The Antonio Brown saga took three or four turns for the worse yesterday, if that was even humanly possible. In no short order, Brown released a lengthy explanation of "his side of the story" that included text messages from Bruce Arians that were clearly doctored, claimed he didn't have a halftime outburst in the locker room (since flatly denied by Tampa Bay players), and then, last night, a story broke where an adult model says Brown snuck her into his New York hotel room after hours on Saturday night and loosely referred to the Sunday incident where he left the field by saying, "wait until you see what I do tomorrow."

The Buccaneers released their side of the story on Thursday as well, which included a recent run-in with Brown and his agent where the wide receiver requested that $2 million in potential earned incentives be guaranteed to him in the last three weeks of the season.

Antonio Brown exits the Meadowlands last Sunday vs. the Jets.

I assume all of you watched the outstanding movie, A Few Good Men. You know, the one where Jack Nicholson screams, "You can't handle the truth!" at Tom Cruise. That movie.

Anyway, 30 minutes in, you just knew -- or had a very, very strong suspicion -- that this creep of a Marine colonel, Nathan R. Jessup, ordered one of his platoon members to be given a "code red". You knew it. But it took another 120 minutes and some remarkable detective work from Cruise's character, Daniel Kaffee, to prove that Jessup did, in fact, order the code red on Private Santiago.

Remember that movie?

That's precisely how I feel about Antonio Brown and his side of the story. I already know what really happened. It took me about 5 minutes to piece it all together. It might take another two weeks for the whole thing to come into high definition, but I'm a dummy from Glen Burnie and I already know what happened.

When Tampa Bay's two best receivers, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, both went out with injuries in New Orleans in week 14, Brown sensed the opportunity to leverage the Buccaneers by asking that the $2 million he could reach in incentives simply be turned into guaranteed money.

You can hear him now with his agent: "They want a happy A.B., don't they? They don't have any receivers now. They need me. They don't want me upset and distracted do they? Tell 'em I want that $2 million to finish up the season. They'll give it to me. They want me happy."

The Bucs didn't budge. They said "no" to his request to turn the incentive money into guaranteed money.

Now, Brown had three games left to reach those incentives. He did the math. It was going to be close, even with the other two receivers sidelined with injuries.

Coincidentally -- or not -- Brown himself was battling a minor ankle injury of his own throughout the 2021 season. (It goes without saying that almost every NFL player has some sort of nick or ailment in December.) He also missed three games, remember, due to a suspension for providing the NFL with a fake vaccination card (that's a shocker, huh?), but returned with 10 catches and 101 yards vs. the Panthers on December 26.

When he only caught three passes in the first half of the game in New York last Sunday (for 26 yards), Brown threw a fit in the locker room at halftime. In his defense, he's not the first wide receiver in the history of the league to stomp up and down about wanting the ball, but the Bucs were in a dogfight with the lowly Jets and the last thing Arians and his staff needed at that moment was Brown yelling and screaming in the locker room.

So they sat Brown on the bench to start the third quarter, which, frankly, a lot of coaches would do with an unsettled player.

As Tampa Bay fell behind and their offense was forced to throw the ball even more than usual in an attempt to comeback, A.B. realized his outburst at halftime was leaving him sidelined at a time when he might be getting the opportunity to have the ball thrown his way.

But maybe he didn't actually "realize" it while he was on the bench. Maybe it was all part of the plan from the start once the Bucs didn't guarantee him the $2 million two weeks ago.

When Arians came over in the 3rd quarter to tell Brown he was going in, the wide receiver said he wasn't able to play due to his ankle injury. You know, the ankle injury that didn't bother him the week before when he caught 10 passes in Carolina or the ankle injury that didn't bother him enough to miss Sunday's game in New York. Or the ankle injury that apparently wasn't bothering him when he hopped around in the end zone like Kevin Bacon in Footloose as he was exiting the field. That ankle injury.

Brown might be nuts, but he's also a coniving kind of nuts. Leverage the team for $2 million in guaranteed money. Get denied. Study the numbers and know you need a bit of a miracle to reach the incentive package you agreed to. Don't get the ball thrown to you in the first half of the penultimate game of the year. Decide "I'll show them who runs things here" and refuse to go in when they need you. Blame your ankle, not your attitude or halftime outburst, and know that an injury lawsuit could potentially be far more lucrative than the $2 million you might or might not get.

That's the story right there. The whole thing reeks of something Vincent K. McMahon would proudly concoct.

And we didn't even need Nathan Jessup or Daniel Kaffee for this explanation. A dummy from Glen Burnie figured it out.

Nothing Antonio Brown says can be believed. I'm sorry to be that blunt about it, but it's true. And he created that stigma attached to him with years and years of bizarre and nefarious behavior. If he told me the sky was blue, I would absolutely stick my head out the window to see it for myself.

And yet...someone in the NFL will employ him again next season, which is probably the most bizarre ending to the story that anyone could create.


In case you missed it earlier this week, the Orioles announced their flagship broadcast rights are going back to WBAL after a lengthy run with the town's FM station, 105.7.

John Angelos and the Orioles are leaving 105.7 for WBAL Radio, a move that seems odd on the surface.

No one asked me, but I think that's a mistake.

Now, I have no idea about the financial side of it and I can only assume the Orioles are somehow making more money from WBAL than they were, or would have, from 105.7. That seems like the no-brainer of no-brainers. Why would they leave 105.7 unless they were getting a better deal from WBAL, right?

105.7, through one of their higher-ups, even alluded to that when they published a statement that called the move "a business decision."

That's what it was, clearly. More money for the Orioles.

But does that make it a good move?

I'm not sure.

WBAL is a news station that dabbles in sports. And by "dabbles", I mean they air Ravens games. They no longer have evening hours dedicated to sports talk like they did in the 80's, 90's and 00's. They are a news station that sprinkles sports in on occasion.

105.7 is a sports station, plain and simple.

Yes, their morning show does include some occasional "newsy" angles due to the involvement of former police chief Ed Norris, but for the most part everything 105.7 does connects to sports, whether that's the Ravens, Orioles and Terps.

And they do it well, I might add. Sure, opinions are scattered about the on-air hosts, which is akin to saying "opinions are scattered about Greg Roman", but the station itself and the quality of their dedication to sports is of the utmost quality.

Yet, the Orioles decided they would move from the station that "only talk sports" to the station that "barely talks sports". I don't get it.

I have no idea how much more money the O's are getting from WBAL. $150,000? $500,000? $1 million? I have no clue. But I'm not sure any of those three amounts is enough to leave the FM station. From 6 am until 6 pm, Monday through Friday, from March through September -- even when the team is 30-50 in late June -- the FM station treats the Orioles like they're important. The morning show, mid-day show and afternoon show all talk Orioles, every single day.

I understand WBAL Radio also has WBAL TV, which, the Orioles say, is an important cog in the wheel. They'll get promotional time on WBAL TV they'd normally have to pay for out of pocket. In fact, WBAL is actually paying the Orioles for the right to promote them. That one's weird, huh?

By the way, I think this might be a good time for WBAL to hop back on the Orioles' wagon. The Birds are in the beginning stages of a turn around (laugh all you want, but I think it's true) and WBAL might very well be getting back "in" at just right the time.

But I can't for the life of me figure out why the Orioles think leaving 105.7 is a good move. I just don't understand it.

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faith in sports


Have you seen the story of Baron Batch? The former Steelers running back turned entrepreneur and artist has created an amazing life for himself in Pittsburgh and he once shared his faith testimony with the outstanding platform, "I Am Second". If you have 7 minutes to spare today, this video will both impress and inspire you.

Thanks, as always, to our friends at Freestate Electrical for their continued support of our Friday "Faith in Sports" segment here at #DMD.


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dale williams aims the
terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his seventh season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2021-2022 season.


terps hang tough but fall at illinois


In last night’s Maryland loss at Illinois, 76-64, Illinois guard Trent Frazier was the picador, softening up the Terps' resolve, while Kofi Cockburn was the matador delivering the kill shot.

It was 8 straight points by Frazier that turned a 1-point Terp lead into a 7-point Fighting Illini advantage at about the midpoint of the second half. From that point on, Cockburn scored at will and seemingly grabbed every rebound to be had.

After a foul plagued first half where Cockburn saw little action, he posted 16 points and 15 rebounds in the final 20 minutes. For the game, Cockburn had 23 and 18. Frazier added 16 and Filip Plummer had 12. Donta Scott led the Maryland scorers with 17, but was shut down in the second half, scoring only 2 points.

Donta Scott led Maryland with 17 points in last night's loss at Illinois.

After 4 minutes of play, Maryland had attempted only 5 shots, hitting just 1, while Illinois had 10 tries, hitting 5. The Illini were outrebounding Maryland 8-2, including a 3-0 advantage on the offensive boards. The scoreboard would show an early 13-4 advantage for Illinois going into the first TV timeout.

The rebounding disparity continued to grow during the next 4 minutes. The Terps were now being outrebounded 17-3, and were being outscored 21-7. It was at this point that three momentum changing things happened.

The most significant of those was Kofi Cockburn picking up his second foul and leaving the game. The second was that the rest of Cockburn’s team then went stone cold from the field and, lastly, Maryland's Donta Scott got red hot.

Illinois only made 2 field goals in the last 10 minutes of the first half. Scott poured in 15 first half points and his Terp teammates kept chipping away at that rebounding deficit. A dominating 27-9 Maryland run gave them a 34-30 lead at the half. That all happened with Cockburn on the sidelines.

Both teams came out of the halftime blocks firing away, with Illinois unable to cut into the Terrapin lead. That would quickly change. Eric Ayala knocked down a three giving his team a 5-point lead, 47-42, at the 14:31 mark of the second half. The next 4 minutes belonged entirely to the Fighting Illini, specifically Trent Frazier, and those 4 minutes determined the outcome of the game.

Frazier scored the last 8 points in a 12-0 Illinois run to put Illini up 7, 54-47. He hit a driving 2 and then nailed back-to-back threes. From this point on, the game was basically Cockburn stuffing the stat sheet from the field, the foul line, and off the glass. With 3:27 left, Illinois had a 10-point lead, 67-57, and an 18-4 advantage with offensive rebounds. Julian Reese had fouled out and Qudus Wahab quickly followed him. Maryland had no answer for Cockburn’s size, and the big Illinois center dominated.

A layup by Maryland’s Hakim Hart with 2 seconds left provided the final margin of 76-64.

One stat was very revealing: 19 Illinois offensive rebounds led to 26 second chance points. Compare this to the 4 and 4 that Maryland was able to get. Cockburn had 7 of those offensive boards. My calculator tells me that the rest of the Fighting Illini had 12 offensive boards. I can see Kofi getting 7, but allowing his teammates to gather 12 shows a lack of fundamentals, energy, and athleticism. Danny Manning can’t make this team more athletic, so he had better focus on energy and fundamentals.

This Terp lineup, on most nights, is considerably outmanned. Outside of a freakish night shooting threes, they won’t beat good teams unless they tighten up the defense and play with 40 minutes of energy. Even if they do that, its still going to be a long season. They just don’t have the pieces.

Maryland returns home this Sunday night (7 pm) to face the 23rd ranked Wisconsin Badgers. The Big Ten Network will broadcast the event.

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January 6, 2022
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a dangerous, slippery slope


Before we delve into a Steelers/Ravens topic that might or might not interest you, there's something else to review that popped into the news yesterday.

I'm going to say this from the start: I'm not sure we can all handle this one with the care and diligence it requires. But I'll bring it up nonetheless and hope we're all able to navigate this one without writing something stupid.

It's a "soccer story", but don't let that sway you from reading and diving in. I'm seriously looking for answers on this subject, because I do actually find it to be an interesting situation.

The former President of the United States Soccer Federation, Carlos Cordeiro, announced yesterday he is going to once again run for that position in 2022. Cordeiro was elected the USSF President back in 2018 and lasted just a bit more than two years. The finishing blow for him was the highly publicized "equal wages" lawsuit the U.S. Women's soccer team filed in federal court (which was dismissed in May of '20).

It was in that lawsuit that defense attorneys for the USSF wrote that female soccer players possessed "inherently less ability than their male counterparts" because, they argued, "ability is materially influenced by the level of certain physical attributes, such as speed and strength."

Megan Rapinoe's comments about an upcoming USSF election sparked a reminder about a significant controversy in the world of American soccer.

USSF lawyers also stated the organization's position was not a "sexist stereotype", but rather, "indisputable science."

The backlash from the USSF's legal position -- despite the case being dismissed in court -- led Cordeiro to resign. He would later claim he hadn't fully read the defense attorney's filing in its entirety but, had he done so, he would have objected to the language used by the attorneys his organization employed.

You can believe all of that or not. It's sort of neither here nor there whether Cordeiro was telling the truth or fibbing.

Yesterday, U.S. women's soccer star Megan Rapinoe responded to Cordeiro's announcement that he would once again run for USSF President by asking whether he "resigned under pressure or resigned because he embarrassed everything and everyone with caveman levels of misogyny?"

And that, of course, will be the platform of the candidate running against Cordeiro, Cindy Parlow Cone, who took over for Cordeiro when he resigned in 2020.

She'll argue that Cordeiro and his misogynist ways have no business being in charge of an organization that plays a significant role in the development of women's soccer in our country.

None of that stuff really interests me, honestly. I couldn't care less who becomes the next President of the USSF.

Here's what does interest me: The language and opinion of the defense team back in 2020. You know, the "men have more ability" position they created.

Their argument for why female soccer players shouldn't be paid as much as male soccer players came down, they said, to "ability". Their argument -- as you read above -- was that male soccer players had certain "better" physical attributes than female soccer players, namely speed and strength.

In case you care, the lawsuit was dismissed because the judge determined the women weren't due the equal wages because they hadn't collectively bargained to receive them in the first place. It wasn't an "ability" issue, he said, rather a "bargaining and contract issue".

So you're wondering what my question is, right?

I assumed you would have figured it out by now.

Why is it that the USSF doesn't pay the women in the national team program the same as the men in the national team program?

I mean, they are, after all both soccer players, playing professionally, and representing their country. Why the difference in compensation?

This is the touchy topic: Is it an ability issue? Is that fair to use as the reason?

"Ability" comes into play in virtually every occupation in the world. A first-year lawyer doesn't get compensated like the lawyer entering his/her 12th year with the firm. We can go on and on with this, so we won't. You get the idea. "Ability" does matter, althogh I would point out "ability" can also connect with other elements of performance like experience, leadership, conforming with pre-set standards, etc.

Unless I'm missing something here -- and if I am, please correct me, someone -- there's little argument that the 24 players on the men's national team would all be starters on the women's national team and it's very likely -- although not a slam dunk -- none of the 24 players on the women's national team would be starters on the men's national team.

And when someone says, "Why is that?", I think one way it would be answered would be to point to some very basic levels of potential performance; speed and strength -- ironically -- being two of them.

It's here where I will admit something that I've probably mentioned here previously. Because of my 17 years in the soccer business, I've talked with a lot of people at various stages of my life about the sport. One of the general, routine questions people have asked me is this: "Who's the best American born soccer player ever?"

My answer, at least for the last 20 years: Mia Hamm.

Yes, her. Mia Hamm. A woman. I think she's the best "technical soccer player" the U.S. has ever produced. Now, would she have ever played a minute for the U.S. men's team? No, never. But from a soccer standpoint, skill wise, I think she's the best American we've ever seen in the sport.

Some would say that tells us more about the men's program in our country than the women's program. Maybe so. But that's the way I've felt for the last 20 years or so. Mia Hamm was a total rockstar.

The PGA Tour had their own "men vs. women" issue nearly two decades ago when Annika Sorenstam wanted to play in a men's TOUR event. It created quite a stir initially because some people argued the champion women's golfer should play from her normal set of (red) tees, which are routinely 600-800 yards or more in front of the men's tees.

TOUR players vehemently disagreed with that idea. She either played from the same set of blue (back) tees as they played or she didn't get to play in the event at Colonial Country Club.

When Sorenstam agreed to play from the men's tees, they let her in the tournament. Although she played decently, she didn't make the 36-hole cut.

However -- had she played from the red tees, there's little doubt she would have made the cut and played all four days. Her biggest nemesis from the back tees? She didn't hit the ball far enough. She was hitting 5 irons into par 4's where the men she was playing with were hitting 8 irons.

Vijay Singh was the most outspoken TOUR player that week. He felt Sorenstam was taking a spot from a male TOUR player who needed that start in Texas. "She can't make the cut," Singh said. "All she's doing is taking a spot from someone who could make it."

How does the Annika story connect with yesterday's USSF story?

"Perception."

The perception of Annika was that the difference between the red tees she would normally play and the blue tees she would have to play would leave her at a distinct disadvantage. "Golf wise", some would argue, "Annika's golf skills were as good as Tiger, Vijay, Ernie and the top players of 2003." But, those same people argued, "she can only compete with them if she plays her set of tees."

Her critics opined, "If her skills are "equal to or better" than the men, she doesn't need to compete from different tees." Yes? No? (Confused?)

The perception the USSF tried to create in 2020 was that female soccer players have less ability than male players and, therefore, shouldn't receive equal pay.

Were they right?

They didn't win the lawsuit because their argument was "upheld" by the judge. They won for a totally different reason. But were they right? Is Megan Rapinoe as good as Christian Pulisic at soccer? If you put those two together on the field, would Rapinoe have a chance of "outplaying" Pulisic? Are their skill sets comparable?

But the even bigger question is this one: Should ability matter? In other words, Rapinoe is a professional soccer player for the United States. Christian Pulisic is also a professional soccer player for the United States. Shouldn't they, then, both receive the same amount of compensation?

The women say "yes" to that question.

The USSF says "no" -- and they say "no" and then add on, "because the women aren't as good at soccer as the men."

I told you this is a touchy subject. This is what happens when your football team goes from 8-3 to 8-8 and has a 4.3% chance of making the playoffs on the last Sunday of the season.

Anyone? Opinion? Thoughts?

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ravens-steelers...are you selling?


OK, so the Ravens and Steelers are playing in Baltimore this Sunday. You might have heard.

The game is important. It's not the most important home game the Ravens have ever played or anything like that. Both teams have a shot at making the playoffs, yet neither are in control of their own destiny. The reality, sadly, is that no matter who wins in Baltimore on Sunday, their season is likely finished.

Over the years, both Heinz Field and M&T Bank Stadium have seen their fair share of Ravens and Steelers fans, respectively. Depending on the time of year, importance of game, etc., there are sometimes as many as 5,000 or more visiting fans in Pittsburgh or Baltimore.

There are some projections floating around that suggest upwards of 20,000 or so Steelers fans might invade Charm City for this Sunday's season finale. The Ben Roethlisberger situation has greatly influenced the influx of visiting fans, obviously.

Selling your Ravens tickets to Steelers fans could help this guy. And who wants to help him?

One look at the secondary ticket market shows a remarkable number of tickets on sale for this weekend. There were 9,000 no-shows at last Sunday's home game vs. the Rams. The holiday weekend, Covid-19 and the plight of a declining on-field product led to the empty seats.

Naturally, there wasn't much of a market for visiting fans to sell to last weekend. It's not like thousands of people in L.A. decided to visit beautiful Baltimore for the weekend in early January. Not without a weapon, anyway.

So the 9,000 empty seats last weekend were somewhat understandable. This Sunday? There probably won't be many empty seats. The problem? 40% of the seats might include yellow towels.

Here's the question Ravens fans are forced to ponder this week: Should I know for certain I'm selling my tickets to a Ravens fan or does it matter who buys them?

The opinion around town -- based on social media polls -- is pretty much 50/50. Half the people say, "Never, ever sell your tickets to a Steelers fan" and half say, "I bought 'em, I own 'em, I can do whatever I want with 'em."

Which position is true?

And does it matter that Sunday's game is, essentially, "do or die" for the Ravens?

It's one thing, people might argue, to sell your seats to a Ravens-Steelers game in mid-October. But to sell them on January 9th when the playoffs are (potentially) at stake?

Should you simply swallow the tickets (assuming you're not going) if you can't find a legitimate Ravens fan to buy them?

Or should that matter? If a Ravens fan would give you $150 each for them and a Steelers fan would give you $200 each for them, what do you do?

Here's the other thing ticket holders are dealing with this week: If you have four seats to sell and elect ONLY to sell them to Ravens fans, Steelers fans will just buy four tickets from someone else. In other words, just because you draw a line in the sand and say "Ravens fans only", Steelers fans are still getting into the stadium. Someone, somewhere, will sell them the tickets they need.

There was a time, a decade or so ago, when the Washington Capitals tried so hard to not allow Pittsburgh Penguins fans into their arena that they literally blocked the Pittsburgh zip code from purchasing seats through their on-line ticketing platform.

It's one thing for the team to not want visiting fans in the building. They assume their fans will scoop up all of the available tickets.

It's a different story when a season ticket holder spends a lot of money on tickets and has the opportunity to either get rid of unwanted tickets and not lose money or, perhaps, even make a small profit by selling their tickets to visiting fans.

But it's not the Saints or Texans or Seahawks coming to town. It's the Steelers. We won't judge too hard, here, but, you know, they're Steelers fans. Enough said.

Does it matter?

Are you a "bad fan" this Sunday if you knowingly sell your tickets to a Steelers fan?

Or should the Ravens and the rest of the folks in town mind their own business?

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dale williams aims the
terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his seventh season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2021-2022 season.


terps face tall task tonight


When you are seven feet tall and tilt the scales at a solid 285 pounds, and your team’s top scorer and rebounder, it’s hard to not be the focal point of any game in which you are involved. But Illinois’s Kofi Cockburn is exactly in that position tonight as his Fighting Illini team take on the Maryland Terrapins at the State Farm Center in Champaign Illinois. Gametime is 7 p.m. and the contest can be viewed on ESPN 2.

Cockburn will easily be the most recognizable player on the court, but Maryland should tune their defensive focus to another area.

Maryland faces one of the toughest tasks in the Big Ten tonight -- slowing down Kofi Cockburn of Illinois.

Cockburn is an enormous man, but he’s still very raw, even awkward, when making moves with the ball around the basket. Still, he’s averaging 22.4 points per game and 9.5 rebounds (3.4 on the offensive side). When he catches the ball deep enough to shoot without putting the rock on the floor, he’ll score. But when he’s forced to dribble, especially into traffic, turnovers happen. He hands it over 2.3 times each game.

The Terps have only two players who can attempt to defend the Illini big man tonight. Those two being Qudus Wahab and Julian Reese. Cockburn will push around both Terps, and he’ll probably get them into foul trouble too. But to me, that’s acceptable.

Cockburn won’t go for 35 points like Keegan Murray did a few nights ago. He’s big, so his points will come, but he’s not versatile. For success tonight, Maryland needs to focus upon a trio of guards on the perimeter and not the massive center.

Alphonso Plummer must be held in check. The 6’1” guard has poured in 21 or more points in 8 of his last 10 games. In the other 2 games he had 19 and 10. Plummer is fast, has a quick trigger, and knocks down 43% of his three point tries. I’m not sure who would be coach Danny Manning’s best option to guard Plummer. He might try Eric Ayala and perhaps mix in some Ian Martinez. Whoever it is has to keep this guy off of the three-point line. He’ll shoot a bunch from long range and he’ll do damage.

Trent Frazier is the second player that needs to be contained if Maryland wants to be competitive tonight. The 6’2” guard doesn’t get as many looks as Plummer, or even Cockburn, so his numbers vacillate. But ask #11 ranked Arizona about this quick point guard. Frazier dumped 27 on the Wildcats during an 83-79 loss. I would guess that Fatts Russell gets this matchup for most of the night.

Jacob Grandison is the third guy on which to focus, and he may not even start. He’s 6’6” and connects on 52.3% of his threes. He cannot be left alone on the perimeter. He’s getting a bit over 15 points per game in Illinois’ three Big Ten contests. If Maryland doubles down on Cockburn, Grandison is not the one to leave open.

That leaves Da’Monte Williams. Williams hits 37% of his threes, but he won’t pull the trigger that often, averaging just 4 points per game. He’s the guy to leave open when the Terps rotate after doubling down on Kofe. If he beats you, so be it. Focus on taking away the three-point game of Grandison, Frazier, and Plummer, and maybe that gives your team a fighting chance.

Illinois will play at a pace just a fraction under the frantic pace with which Iowa plays. They are a good shooting, good rebounding, but high turnover team. Offensively, as long as Cockburn is roaming the paint, points from the Terp bigs will be scarce. Dribble penetration can work because Cockburn doesn’t anticipate well and can be a bit slow to help.

Maryland won’t deviate, offensively, much from what we’ve seen all year long. That’s mostly because they don’t have versatile personnel. To win, the Terps will have to shoot lights out and constantly beat the Illini to the hoop off the dribble. I have little faith in that happening.

Illinois had a game at Minnesota on Tuesday (a 23-point win) and returns home to play Maryland after just one day of rest. Perhaps they’ll be a bit tired, as Brad Underwood’s bench is pretty shallow. Dead legs may be all that separates Maryland from their own 20-point loss. The point spread in tonight’s contest is 11.5. I see that number as a fairly accurate assessment of the final Illinois margin of victory.

Maryland can keep this close for a while, but Illinois has too many weapons for the Terps to pull off the upset. An 83-70 loss for Maryland, and an 0-3 start in the Big Ten is what we’ll see tonight.

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January 5, 2022
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let's rank the top 5


We haven't done many lists around here this football season. It wasn't by intention or anything like that. We just didn't get around to doing many.

We'll change that today.

Here for your reading and opining pleasure -- seven different top 5 lists for the '21 NFL season.

Rant as you wish in the comments section below.


The 5 Best Teams on January 5

1. Green Bay Packers

2. Kansas City Chiefs

3. Los Angeles Chargers

4. Tennessee Titans

5. Buffalo Bills


Is Aaron Rodgers on the verge of a second straight NFL MVP award?

The 5 Best QB's in the NFL

1. Aaron Rodgers

2. Tom Brady

3. Patrick Mahomes

4. Justin Herbert

5. Kyler Murray


The 5 Best WR's in the NFL

1. Davante Adams

2. Justin Jefferson

3. Cooper Kupp

4. Tyreek Hill

5. Stefon Diggs


5 Surprise Thoughts For 2022

1. QB's move - Watson to Miami, Tua to Houston, Wilson to Pittsburgh

2. Eagles make it to the NFC Championship Game

3. Garoppolo lands in D.C.

4. Tampa Bay misses the playoffs

5. Von Miller signs with Arizona


Can you imagine this hype if this Super Bowl were to happen in February?

The 5 Best Super Bowl Storylines Still Possible For This February

1. Brady vs. Belichick

2. Belichick wins with rookie QB

3. Burrow, Bengals finally break through

4. Rodgers wins his 2nd in Green Bay

5. Bills earn that elusive ring


The 5 Most Underrated Coaches

1. Bruce Arians

2. Frank Reich

3. Mike Vrabel

4. Brian Flores

5. Ron Rivera


The 5 Best Helmets

1. Houston Texans

2. Las Vegas Raiders

3. Indianapolis Colts

4. Detroit Lions

5. Miami Dolphins


The Ben Roethlisberger love fest on Monday night in Pittsburgh went about as expected. There was certainly nothing wrong with the way both the Steelers organization and ESPN fawned over the Pittsburgh quarterback. He's a future Hall of Fame inductee who played his entire 18-year career in the Steel City. He deserved the attention and accolades he received on Monday night.

But the Ravens organization is an interesting position this Sunday when Roethlisberger comes to town for what will be his final regular season game ever and, unless things shift very favorably for the Steelers, the last game of his NFL career.

What should the Ravens do, if anything, for Ben Roethlisberger this Sunday in Baltimore?

Should the Ravens recognize Big Ben in some way either prior to or during the game?

This topic has been making the rounds in the media and elsewhere over the last two days and it is, as expected, a fairly polarizing scenario.

Our #DMD Twitter poll revealed 60% of those responding think the Ravens should recognize him via some sort or video board "moment" and 40% say the Ravens shouldn't.

It's a delicate situation, of course, because Roethlisberger and the Steelers are coming to Baltimore to effectively try to eliminate the Ravens from the playoffs. Do you really want to take a minute (or 15 seconds, even) to praise the quarterback trying to end your team's season? That's a tough one.

The Ravens probably also realize the stands are going to be loaded with Steelers fans on Sunday. It's already going to feel a lot like Heinz Field in the place. Do you really want to make it feel even more like downtown Pittsburgh by getting those people fired up when you put Roethlisberger's picture up on the video board?

A few people along the way have asked if other franchises did something similar for Ray Lewis when he was playing what could have been his last game? I don't recall, honestly, but I don't think the Broncos or Patriots did anything like that for Ray in the 2013 playoffs. But the playoffs and the final regular season game are totally different animals, in my opinion.

And the issue of whether other teams "would" do something is neither here nor there. It's what you want to do and what you think is appropriate -- or not -- that matters.

I certainly see both sides of it and I'm not 100% sure there is a right or wrong answer on this one.

Here's what I'll say: If the Ravens put me in charge of this decision, I would create a quick 10-second message up on the video board just prior to kick-off. "Congrats on a great career, Ben Roethlisberger". I wouldn't make a PA announcement or anything like that. I'd just put it up on the board and if the crowd sees it and wants to applaud, that's fine. And if they see it and want to boo, that's fine, too.

I wouldn't make a big deal about it, but I wouldn't ignore it, either. Roethlisberger was a tremendous competitor throughout his career. Ten seconds of recognition from a foe that respects him is perfectly acceptable.

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your 2022 pga tour primer


The "real" part of the '21-22 PGA Tour season starts tomorrow at Kapalua in Hawaii, so we figured today was a great day to give you some TOUR insight in the event you're a fantasy golf enthusiast and need to make some money over the next nine months.

We'll give you six players to play often, five to watch carefully and four to avoid in '22.

Always remember, of course, that PGA Tour players have years and years of data to reflect on when you're sizing up their chances in a particular event. Professional golf very much is "horses for courses" and you'll see that theme play out all the time. For example, we might tell you to stay away from Paul Casey in '22 but even when we tell you that, he is a must play at Innisbrook in Tampa Bay, where he has won twice previously and contended on other occasions.

Without further adieu, here's who we like in the '22 TOUR season.

Play Them Whenever Possible

Justin Thomas -- This is his year, period. Look for a 3 or 4 win campaign from J.T. with a major championship an extremely high possibility.

#DMD thinks 2022 will be the best year of Justin Thomas's young career to date.

Sam Burns -- He could be on the verge of breaking through as one of the best American players in the game. It might be too soon for a major title for him, but expect a win in one of the "second tier" majors like The Players, Bay Hill, Memorial or a WGC event. This kid is really legit.

Viktor Hovland -- He's our early darkhorse at Augusta National and we think Hovland is primed for a massive season. Any time you can get him on your fantasy team, scoop him up.

Bryson DeChambeau -- He can only get better, which is really scary. If Bryson gets his wedges dialed in, watch out. Like Thomas, we think he could be in store for a 3 or 4 win season.

Jordan Spieth -- We're bullish on Spieth this year but the longer courses on TOUR might force you to sit him out occasionally.

Patrick Cantlay -- Could wind up the #1 player in the world by the end of the year. Do NOT be surprised if that happens.


Keep Your Eye On These Five

Luke List -- Hits it a long way and can get hot with the putter for 2-3 weeks at a time.

K.H. Lee -- One of a number of super-talented Asian players; this could be a breakout year for him.

Abraham Ancer -- A ball striking machine. Really close to being a "must play" every week.

Sungjae Im -- The same as Ancer. Incredibly gifted iron player. Always a threat if he's in the field.

Corey Conners -- If he ever matches up his putting with his ball striking, he'll win 4 times in 6 months. Play him often.


Shy Away From These Four

Tommy Fleetwood -- Always fairly expensive and rarely delivers. Fade...

Gary Woodland -- He'll get hot for a week or three along the way, but for the most part he's not worth the investment.

Adam Scott -- Will he ever be really good again? Hard to tell. Stay away...

Phil Mickelson -- A lot of people are still "on" Phil, but we're not. Just trying to sell coffee now.

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The Stats Nerd
And His Numbers


Contributed by #DMD's data and numbers analyst
The Stats Nerd


new year's resolutions


Today’s column will only tangentially relate to sports and analytics so I hope you bear with me a bit.

LA few weeks ago I had a strange interaction with a “cultural critic” on social media. He made a post listing all of the classic albums of 1990 and 1991 with the message that there simply weren’t any talented artists anymore to match the greats of that era. No talent, eh? He immediately had my attention with this inane take.

He listed all of the expected (Nirvana, REM, Guns N Roses and U2), some of the less mainstream but culturally lauded (Massive Attack, Pixies and My Bloody Valentine) and some straight up Top 40 records (Janet Jackson and Madonna amongst others).

I certainly don’t debate the legacy of the music that was put out in that era. What I did take umbrage to is the need to constantly degrade some artists at the expense of others (current versus past). And part of the reason I take issue with that type of thought process is because IT IS THE EXACT SAME THING PEOPLE SAID TO MY GENERATION…and my parents' generation…and their parents….and on and on and on.

I finished college in the early 90s. The mid-80’s thru the early 90’s were the era I developed my musical tastes. So yes, I am more in tune with the records he listed (FWIW Loveless by My Bloody Valentine is a top 10 record in my lifetime). But that isn’t the point.

This writer was roughly the same age as me (50-ish) and his preferred musical tastes are in line with mine. I can’t tell you how many times in the 80’s older people told me my music sucked or wasn’t real. “There’s a synthesizer…that’s not a real instrument” they would say. Or RUN DMC’s hip hop “isn’t real music” and “anyone can do that” since they “just talk over other people’s music”.

And it was pretty damn annoying. Always feeling like people were belittling my preferences and my generation’s culture for really no reason other than (I guess) making themselves feel better. And the truly insane thing was that the people that felt the need to denigrate what my friends and I were drawn to were subjected to the same message in the 60’s.

The Beatles fanaticism in the early 60’s was mocked and equated to a cult by some writers. Prior to that Elvis Presley was censored on TV appearances and threatened with jail time for his hip gyrations and “overt sexuality”. For something truly wild, Hungarian composer Franz Listz generated a frenzy in the 1840s so intense it was dubbed Lisztomania. That mania even spawned a GREAT song in the 2000’s called Lisztomania by the band Phoenix (that you have likely heard…look it up if you haven’t).

So we essentially have history repeating itself over and over again, generation after generation for reasons I can’t quite figure out. I consciously DO NOT crap on the music my teenage daughters listen to as I recall how much I hated it when done to me. I might tease them a bit about some song or artist but it’s all in good natured fun.

Some of their music I quite enjoy…others I don’t. But just because I don’t enjoy it doesn’t mean a whole generation of artists is lacking in talent. One’s preferred taste in…well anything is not the determinant of generational talent. To think otherwise reeks of self importance.

Of course, this generational divide is not limited to music or the arts. You can hear it when people of different generations talk about anything really.

I started my career in the early 90s. My colleagues and I were labeled “Slackers”. I don’t even know what that was supposed to mean?? Because Kurt Cobain was the Jim Morrison of the early 90’s and wore flannel shirts we were all just depressed, sad sacks like him? I really have no idea.

I just know that I was trying to start a career and older colleagues and bosses labeled all of us early 20-somethings slackers. Nevermind (pun intended) that we were working the same hours they did 10, 15, 25 years before and doing whatever idiotic tasks they asked us to do. We were just always “the lazy slackers” for some undefined reason.

My parents' generation were labeled amoral hippies and flower children by my grandparents. They listened to the likes of Peter, Paul and Marie, watched Easy Rider and scored “medicinal substances” at Woodstock. Twenty years later they were managing and running Fortune 500 companies, small businesses and educational institutions.

My kids will be working in the next 5-8 years and their generation is already mocked as entitled little Millennials and Gen Z’ers. My generation will complain about how they don’t want to work, want to mooch off the system, etc. Best of luck to them but I hear it already from friends looking to hire.

But because of the way things work…Gen Z’ers and their peers will be running the same Fortune 500 companies, small businesses and educational institutions when Drew and I are off playing Super Senior events. History will simply repeat itself. It always does.

Which brings us to sports and how it is covered and analyzed.

There seems to be two camps that look at the effectiveness and efficacy of analytical data. Old timers often think it’s just meaningless numbers and swear that you can’t possibly make sports decisions based on data. And (generally) younger people that believe that decisions should be made in the context of this data. Some want to base decisions exclusively off data, to be sure. But the successful ones will use data and real world knowledge together to make better, more informed decisions.

Of course, “analytics” has always been a part of sports, unknowingly in some cases. The decision to run the ball in the 4th quarter and drain the clock was an analytical decision in so much as it increased the team’s win probability. Decisions to go for 4th downs in the past were generally limited to late in game desperation. Now we are seeing 4th down decisions analyzed and tried to the extent they help a team increase their win probability throughout all 4 quarters.

Modern analytics simply tries to quantify some of these decision points and provide coaches and decision makers with better, more valuable information. Unfortunately, many commentators and old school football players seem to go bananas the moment the word analytics is uttered. It’s almost as if they think it is an affront to their perception and knowledge of the game.

Coverage of sports has also changed. The bright light of ESPN and other media outlets shines on every sport virtually 24/7. There is a need to amplify things that may have been non-stories 25 years ago. There is a need to constantly spew hot takes about whatever the hot button issue of the day is.

Case in point was this past weekend’s coverage of the college football bowl season. There is no question that the allure of bowl season has been greatly diminished over the last 20+ years (and seems to be in hyper drive the last 10). Players are opting out or entering the transfer portal and that impacts the quality of the games played.

There has been no shortage of opinions on why this is happening. The most repugnant of these hot takes was the one offered by Kirk Herbstreit and agreed with by Desmond Howard on ESPN’s College Gameday.

Basically Herbstreit went on a bit of a rant and ended it by saying “this era of player doesn’t love football”. Howard followed up with “student athletes nowadays…their whole mentality right now is about the championship, the playoffs…”

To both of which I say “are you frigging kidding me?” These takes are the equivalent of “The Old Man Yelling at the Clouds” meme from the Simpsons. Essentially older guys taking shots at younger guys because things are different now. It’s lame.

Why do you think it is that some might feel this way about the other bowl games? ESPN spends basically the whole season harping on which 4 teams will be playoff participants. It starts in August before the season even starts and runs up through the final standings are announced. They even have a weekly 30 minute show starting in October to announce the current up to the minute rankings full of more hot takes and blather about the playoffs.

Is there any hype surrounding the Pinstripe Bowl that MD won or the Music City Bowl (that was actually a great game) or the Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl presented by Stifel? I’ll save you any Google time and tell you no… no there was not.

The fact is there were 18 bowl games in 1991. This year there were 43 (although some were canceled for COVID). You can’t honestly tell me that more than doubling the number of bowl games in 30 years hasn't watered down the product. I call BS. And, of course, the reason for the expansion is only one: MONEY. And that’s fine, everyone understands it.

But ESPN and all it’s talking heads spend all season hyping up the importance of the playoffs and then are disappointed when players not participating in said playoff opt-out of meaningless exhibition games. And let’s be perfectly clear…that is what they are. MEANINGLESS EXHIBITION GAMES. It’s important to note that NONE of the players in the playoffs opted out. In other words, meaningful games still attract player’s interest.

But back to the other games. Sure they mean something to SOME of the players and coaches and SOME of the team’s fan bases but in the grand scheme of things they are of no consequence or importance whatsoever. Quick, remind me who won last year’s Cheez-It Bowl??

And Herbstreit questioning these kids' love of the game because they don’t feed the beast at ESPN is just galaxy brain stuff. He should be ashamed of himself for this take. He knows as much as anyone how much time these kids spend practicing and preparing for 4 years (or more). During the season their social lives are severely limited and their down time is non-existent.

I know a bunch of kids that play non-revenue D1 sports (lacrosse, swimming and soccer) and hear the schedules they keep. I have to imagine football and basketball players schedules are more time consuming and all encompassing. And it’s not just during the season. There are off season lifting sessions, spring practices/game and summer practices.

Look, I'm not naive. These kids also have it fairly good. They are fed well, have virtually unlimited assistance in their classes and probably are never short a few bucks when needed. And, most important to 18-22 year old young men, they have no issues with the ladies. Life is good when you are the Big Man on Campus.

But in spite of all of that, if a kid thinks it’s in his best interest to take the time off between the season’s end and some dusty bowl that means exactly nothing, I think we should be a little empathetic to that desire.

Most of the players opting-out are doing so to prepare for the draft. That, in effect, is the biggest job interview of their lives. In the interest of candor, if I had a son that was a likely 1st or 2nd round draft choice and his team was going to play in Random XYZ Bowl sponsored by Whatever Brand Lawnmower…my advice would probably be to opt out. Why risk it like Matt Corral did for Mississippi the other evening?

Where is the outrage for the coaches that bolt for greener pastures..EVERY SINGLE YEAR?? I don’t really have a problem with them leaving either. College football and coaching is a business. But if commentators aren’t going to call out coaches for making business decisions, I don’t think the players should be in play either. But that is unlikely to happen because access to those coaches is so important now and in the future.

Having said all of this for MOST of these young men a bowl game is likely to be their last time playing organized football. For them, skipping that last game seems like a mistake. But it’s their decision and a little empathy for these players could go a long way.

So What is Your Point Stats Nerd?

To be honest, I’m not exactly sure. When I started thinking about this week’s column it was around New Year’s Day. I had been thinking about what I want to accomplish this year, etc. I’m not really a big resolution person but I can reflect on the past year and the year coming.

I recall hearing a podcast (which I can’t find anymore) where the host interviewed a hostage negotiator that had served in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was fascinating. I heard it right around the end of the year so I always think about it around the New Year. My takeaway was that this negotiator really tried to have empathy for these terrorists that he was trying to pry life saving information from.

Now empathy doesn’t mean siding with them or encouraging their beliefs. It simply means trying to hear and understand their perspective. Even if you ultimately disagree with it. Just hear it and understand it.

I think about that a lot. It frames up how I think about things. In the past, when I was younger particularly, I had opinions, often knee jerk opinions, on just about anything. Now I try to be a bit more conscious or deliberate about the opinions I form. I’m certainly not perfect in this process of listening but I think I get better every year.

I’m not here to change your mind about your musical preferences or your opinions on what is going on in college football or what your kids and grandkids work ethic is. I just think that if everyone took a moment to consider why someone thinks differently than you or I do about (insert whatever issue) that can’t possibly be a bad thing.

So as I do every year, that is my 2022 Resolution. To be open to other ideas and thoughts. To try and actually listen to others I speak with rather than frame up my next question in my head while they are speaking. To try and understand where others are coming from even if their ultimate beliefs are the polar opposite of my own.

The modern world and social media, in particular, make sticking to that resolution hard. But I’m going to try.

JERRY'S TOYOTA banner
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Tuesday
January 4, 2022
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#2689


looking ahead


We might be getting the cart before the horse here. The Ravens could still make the playoffs if four things fall in their favor this coming weekend.

But it seems unlikely that everything could swing their way. And so, because of that, we're going to go ahead and get started on some things the Ravens might need to do for the 2022 campaign.

There's one thing they can't control next season but it's obviously a huge part of the narrative for the '22 campaign. The Ravens need to get, and stay, healthy. Yes, of course, injuries are part of every team's season. You're bound to get a few here and there.

But what happened to Baltimore in 2021 was out-of-this-world crazy. It was totally unpredictable. And it also cost the team a playoff berth and a potential Super Bowl run.

So by nature alone, you'd figure the Ravens are going to be better in '22 than they were in '21. They won't lose ten key players to injuries next season. At least the odds say they won't, anyway.

But there are other things on the Ravens' plate that need to be examined in the off-season. Despite the high-quality roster they've assembled at Owings Mills, there are enough holes in it to warrant some serious work in February, March and April.


For starters, they need more wide receivers for Lamar Jackson and the offense.

Should the Ravens pursue one of the coveted free agent wide receivers in the off-season, like Mike Williams of the Chargers?

They have two legit guys in Hollywood Brown and Rashod Bateman. Those two are locks for '22. Bateman, in particular, looks like he could be a potential diamond.

Then there's Devin Duvernay and James Proche, both of whom have displayed occasional flashes of substance but haven't yet solidified themselves as reliable, 6-8 targets-per-game receivers.

Rookie Tylan Wallace saw increased playing time in December and barring something strange, will be part of the 53-man roster in '22.

Miles Boykin and Sammy Watkins? "They gone," as the kids say.

So an obvious priority for the Ravens this off-season will be at the wide receiver spot. Either via the draft or free agency, Eric DeCosta needs to increase the quality of his receiving corps.

There are some high-profile receivers available according to the website spotrac.com, including Allen Robinson, Chris Godwin and the hottest free agent commodity in the upcoming off-season, Davante Adams. But it's more likely, given the development of Duvernay and Proche, that the Ravens would opt for a second-tier guy like one of these free agent veterans; DJ Chark, Mike Williams or Emmanuel Sanders.

The Ravens have to upgrade from the departed (Boykin and Watkins) and give Lamar more pass catchers at his disposal. That's a no-brainer.

It's fair to point out that Baltimore might not be a treasured destination for talented free agent wide receivers. You can just hear the conversation now between, say, Allen Robinson and his agent (assuming the Bears don't franchise him again, which Chicago media folks are saying is highly unlikely).

Agent: "We have a number of teams interested you."

Robinson: "My brother is friends with Lamar and he told my brother he wants me to come to Baltimore."

Agent: "Baltimore? You're not a running back, you're a wide receiver. Have you seen their passing stats with Greg Roman there? You'll get the ball thrown to you 4 or 5 times a game, max. Scratch Baltimore off the list. Tell Lamar we're sorry."

So that's why you draft a wide receiver. He has no say in where he goes at that point. The team's best receivers (Brown and Bateman) came via that route. Just draft another one in the first three rounds.

And while you're upgrading your passing attack, hire the guy in Pittsburgh who has been responsible for the drafting of the Steelers receivers over the years...he's been awfully good at it.


The offensive line is clearly a priority as well. Alejandro Villanueva was an expensive purchase a season ago and his performance wasn't worthy of the expenditure. Will the Ravens opt for a tackle or guard early in the 2022 draft or will they go the free agency route and hope for a success story like Kevin Zeitler, who has been outstanding in his first campaign in Baltimore?

Given what we've seen with the team's offensive performance without Lamar Jackson, it's imperative to consider the offensive line the team's number one off-season priority in terms of "significant investment". It's critical that Jackson is protected as much as possible, particularly if the organization is about to give him $300MM or more.

And if Greg Roman is to be retained (see below for more on that), the Ravens need to give him what he works best with; quality offensive linemen who can boost up the team's running attack.

Bradley Bozeman will be re-signed, although his future might not necessarily be at center. Depending on what they do with Bozeman position-wise, the Ravens might need to bring in a true center, like they once did with Matt Birk. A lot of people on the outside poo-poo the center position but ask any player which offensive line position is the second most critical after left tackle (assuming your QB is right handed, obviously) and they'll tell you it's the center.

That the Ravens haven't put significant emphasis on the center position since Birk's departure in 2013 is very puzzling.


On defense, the priorities are numerous. A true, game-changing edge rusher (outside linebacker) would be awesome, but they don't grow on trees. This is an area, though, where plenty of quality free agents will be peddling themselves in the spring, including Chandler Jones (Cardinals), Von Miller (Rams) and Jerry Hughes (Bills). The Ravens could try and draft one, too. Adafe Oweh had a decent first season until he crashed head first into the rookie wall in early December. If DeCosta and his staff can draft another Oweh type, maybe that's the way they'll go.

Secondary depth is also critical. Jimmy Smith figures to depart after an excellent career in Baltimore. A draft pick in this position in the first couple of rounds is almost a guarantee given the Ravens' history of drafting defensive backs early in the draft.

The Ravens don't have many on-field holes to fill in '22, but the ones they do have require precision and success stories. Whether through the draft or free agency, DeCosta and his group of personnel folks have to "hit" on their off-season moves.


OK, let's go ahead and address the white elephant in the room.

No, not the quarterback situation. That's not "really" an issue at this point. Lamar is the quarterback next season. Whether he gets a new deal in the off-season or plays under his 5th year option in '22 is the only thing left to be decided. But he's the quarterback in '22 and it's not even a discussion point.

Is it time for the Ravens to move on from Greg Roman?

There is, potentially, a discussion to be had about Tyler Huntley moving forward. Do the Ravens keep him and potentially overpay him down the road as Lamar's back-up or do they cash in on his solid play late in the '21 season and move him in the off-season for a draft pick or two? Either of those solutions is fine, frankly.

The white elephant in the room is the offensive coordinator.

What to do with Greg Roman?

His offense will wind up somewhere around 7 or 8 in total offense in '21. They were 19th in 2020. In Lamar's MVP season, they were 2nd.

In terms of points-per-game, which is certainly one of the most important offensive statistics, the Ravens will likely finish 16th out of 32 teams in '21. Currently, the bottom 14 teams in points-scored-per game are all going to miss the playoffs. Defense matters, but scoring points on offense is clearly connected to post-season play.

Here's my summary of Greg Roman: I think he's a good coordinator. His history and resume speaks for itself. He was relatively successful in San Francisco and Buffalo and he's been successful in Baltimore, too. His offenses generally follow a similar pattern no matter the organization; they're really good at running the ball and not nearly as good throwing the ball.

In Baltimore over the last four seasons, he's had the game's top running quarterback to fiddle with, so it's only natural the team's running numbers should be among the league's best. Roman has done well for Lamar Jackson's development as a quarterback, but the team's passing game is still not an out-and-out strength.

The model in Baltimore in Roman's tenure? Their offense has been solid in the regular season and then goes kaput in the playoffs. Greg Roman isn't the sole reason why the Ravens haven't done well in the post-season offensively, but he's part of the reason. He has to be part of the reason, after all -- he's the offensive coordinator.

Tennessee and San Diego completely gagged the Baltimore offense in '19 and '20 and the Bills shut down Lamar and Company last January. It is what it is. "The eye-in-the-sky-don't-lie", as football nerds like to say.

With all that said, yes, you know where this is going: The Ravens should employ a new offensive coordinator in 2022.

This is not meant to say Greg Roman stinks or should be put out to pasture. Instead, the Ravens simply need someone with new ideas and new concepts to come in and move the offense in a new direction. Sometimes it really is that simple.

I didn't say they need someone to come in and do it "better" than Roman because there's no telling what influence a new coordinator might have on the offense. The next guy could come in and the Ravens offense could take a downturn. That's the risk you take. But they do need "new", in my opinion.

What we've seen for the last couple of years has been acceptable, but it's time for a new wrinkle in the quest to get to the next level.

A new playbook.

New options 2nd and 5, 3rd and 7 or while confronting those pesky two-yard, two-point conversions.

New pass routes.

A trick play or three.

The Ravens need someone new who comes to the party with a different look than we've seen the last couple of years under Greg Roman.

Who would that be? Who knows?

James Urban or Tee Martin could be internal considerations.

There are plenty of others around the league who would love a chance to work with Lamar Jackson. Unlike circa 2004 when coordinating the Ravens offense was one of the least desirable coaching gigs in the league, it would now be one of the most sought-after and interesting roles.

John Harbaugh has always been crazy-loyal to his coordinators and that's (somehwat) understandable. After all, if you keep going through coordinators like a warm knife through butter, eventually the owner is going to say to you, "Your hiring skills aren't very good, buddy."

But Harbs is also the guy who ran out of patience for Cam Cameron and Marty Mornhinweg. And the thought here is it's time for Harbaugh to bring on a new offensive coordinator for the 2022 season.

The Ravens are not in rebuild mode or anything even close to that. They have a few holes to patch up and they need some of their injured stars like Ronnie Stanley, Marcus Peters and J.K. Dobbins to come back fully healthy in 2022. But with a few key free agency signings and some pinpoint drafting next April, John Harbaugh's team should enter the '22 season as one of the top favorites in the AFC.

The only question mark...what will they do at offensive coordinator?

It all starts there. Once that decision is made, the blueprint for '22 and beyond can be created.

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dale williams aims the
terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his seventh season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2021-2022 season.


valiant effort comes up short for terps


As I wrote yesterday, if you let Keegan Murray go off, you won’t win.

Murray finished last night's game with 35 points, none bigger than his put back off of an air ball as the shot clock was running out with 32 seconds left in the game, and his Iowa team up by 4, 74-70. Maryland could never recover and they suffered an 80-75 loss in Iowa City.

The Terps had a last gasp hope when a missed Hawkeye free throw gave the Terps the ball, down 3, with 7 seconds left in the game. The Hawkeyes wisely fouled Eric Ayala, preventing the game-tying three pointer. Ayala inexcusably missed the first free throw and then while attempting to intentionally miss the second shot, failed to hit the rim, turning the ball over to Iowa. Game over.

Both teams played a bunch of zone defense in the second half, but Maryland’s inability to handle the Iowa zone led to their defeat. In fact, other than Keegan Murray’s output, the Iowa zone may have been the game’s biggest factor. The Terps settled for way too many three pointers in the final 20 minutes, connecting on just 4 of 13.

While 35% of Maryland’s first half shots were threes, in the second half, that percentage increased to 48%. With the zone defenses slowing down the game and limiting possessions, Maryland could ill afford to waste scoring chances by forcing threes. They did just that, and paid the price.

Ayala paced Maryland with 19 points and Fatts Russell chipped in 16. Besides Murray’s 35, Filip Rebraca poured in 13 and Joe Toussaint added 9 big points and 9 assists. The whole Terp team only had 11 assists.

Iowa got off to a scalding hot start, scoring 18 points in the game’s first 5 minutes. Defensively, Maryland was atrocious early, allowing transition layups and dunks, offensive rebounds, an wide-open threes. The score was 18-7, in Iowa’s favor, at the first TV timeout. Keegan Murray already had 9 points.

The Keegan Murray onslaught continued during the next 4 minutes. With 11:09 left in the first half, he had 14 of his team’s first 24 points, and his Hawkeyes led 24-15. But a Terp zone defense combined with some wholesale substitutions by Iowa Coach Fran McCaffery fueled a Terp comeback that eventually allowed Maryland to tie the game at 26.

The Terps continued to thrive and were able to forge ahead behind Russell’s 12 first-half points and solid team rebounding (4 players with 4 rebounds each). Maryland held a 22-16 first half rebounding edge including 8 to 6 on the offensive glass. The scoreboard showed a 40-36 Terp advantage after the first 20 minutes of play.

The second half started much like the first. Keegan Murray was scoring at will and the Hawkeyes finally caught, and passed, Maryland. Give the Terps credit, they never quit and found themselves down by just 1 point, 59-58 with 9:10 left in the game.

Much to the disappointment of Terp players, coaches, and fans, it would be over 4 minutes before Maryland would score again. By that time, they were down by 10 and never seriously challenged Iowa the rest of the way.

Danny Manning’s team didn’t do enough to deny Keegan Murray the ball. Maryland failed to get into passing lanes, never fronted him on the inside, and didn’t double team him when he put the ball on the floor. The result was a 35-point performance by the nation’s leading scorer and a loss for the Terps.

Maryland’s fortunes were not enhanced by their sub-par 10-17 shooting from the foul line. Ayala missed 3 of 7, one of those being the front end of his one and one with just a few seconds left. Qudus Wahab missed 3 of 5.

The Terps, this year, won’t see many chances to gain conference wins, especially on the road. They’ll next travel to Illinois for a 7 pm game on Thursday. They’ll face Kofi Cockburn and Alfonso Plummer in a contest where Maryland will be a massive underdog and looking at a probable 0-3 Big Ten start.

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Monday
January 3, 2022
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#2688


one play...among thousands


I took a few minutes after yesterday's crushing Ravens 20-19 loss to the Rams and thought long and hard about the season John Harbaugh's team has endured.

Your mileage may vary here, but it's fair to broad-brush things and say they won five games they probably shouldn't have won; Kansas City, Detroit, Indianapolis, Minnesota and Chicago.

They also lost games they were within a whisker of winning; an extra point or two point conversion here and there and Baltimore might have had wins over Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Green Bay. Three of their current eight losses were by a single point.

At one point they were 8-3 and they coulda, shoulda, woulda been 4-7, if we're being honest. That said, they squandered the opener to the Raiders and lost to the (then) lowly Dolphins in Miami. Coulda, shoulda, woulda been 10-1 if things went ultra-favorably for them.

But here they are now, sitting at 8-8 and clearly in danger of missing the playoffs. It might not constitute a "miracle", per se, but the Ravens need to beat Pittsburgh next weekend and then they need Indianapolis (at Jacksonville) and Miami (home vs. New England) to lose and they need Las Vegas (home vs. L.A. Chargers) to win. They also need Cleveland to lose one of their last two games (Browns play at Steelers tonight). If those five things happen, the Ravens make the post-season.

Yes, Miami has been eliminated from the playoffs, but if they win next weekend to finish 9-8 they would involve themselves in a multi-team tiebreaker which would (somehow) eliminate the Ravens.

So it's clearly a longshot at this point. That's what a five-game losing streak at the end of the season will do to you, right?


At the beginning of the season, if we would have done a legitimate poll and asked ardent Ravens fans to list the top three players the team couldn't lose to injury/illness for any extended period of time during the season, I think 90% of us (me included) would have listed, Lamar Jackson, Marlon Humphrey and Ronnie Stanley...in some order.

Four Justin Tucker field goals weren't enough yesterday as the Ravens suffered a 20-19 loss to the Rams.

Well, they lost all three of them for an extended period of time. And two of them, Lamar and Marlon, were lost in the month of December when the chips were down and the division games rolled around. There were plenty of other injuries (pre-season and in-season) and Covid-related absences during the season, too, but the December roster was woefully short on NFL quality.

Call it excuse making if you will, but the reality is the team the Ravens have employed the last four weeks would be lucky to win 6 games in a 17-game campaign.

Tyler Huntley was decent enough in his role as Lamar Jackson's back-up yesterday, but the Ravens have been crushed by Lamar's absence since his injury at Cleveland three weeks ago. Sure, Jackson wasn't his MVP self over the last couple of months, but on any given Sunday he can beat just about any defense in the league by himself. He was missed considerably in Cincinnati last Sunday and vs. the Rams yesterday.


Like any of their other seven losses, yesterday's defeat was especially difficult to accept given that the Ravens never trailed until the late touchdown catch by Odell Beckham Jr. put the Rams up 20-19.

The Ravens also had a 10-0 lead late in the second quarter that quickly evaporated after a Tyler Huntley interception (on a pattern apparently run incorrectly by Hollywood Brown, if that matters to anyone keeping score), but a late Justin Tucker field goal put Baltimore up 13-7 at intermission.

The Greg Roman bashers lit up social media with the "aggressive play calling" decision late in the second quarter, but it's fair to note the Rams offense had done nothing in the opening 28 minutes of the game and the Ravens, despite only leading 10-0, had moved the ball well on the Los Angeles defense. I liked the fact the Ravens tried to score at the end of the quarter. I didn't like the interception or the Baltimore defense surrendering a touchdown, though.

In the 4th quarter, the Ravens were nursing a 16-14 lead when they ventured into Rams territory. A solid running series moved Baltimore into the red zone and the Ravens eventually had 1st and goal from the 5 yard line with 6:49 to play. A touchdown there and a 23-14 lead would have been critically important.

The Ravens got the ball to the 2 yard line before the drive stalled, thanks in part to a delay of game penalty and a sack of Huntley.

And so, that's how a 23-14 lead turned into another Tucker field goal and a 19-14 advantage. And that was the opening Matthew Stafford and his talented receiving corps needed.

With 1:08 remaining in the game, the Ravens playoff chances revolved around one play. All of that stuff above about the improbable wins and the weird losses and the injuries and Covid-19 absences. The controversial two point conversions. Mix it all together and the Ravens were an 8-7 football team that had the Rams against the wall facing a 4th and 5 on the Baltimore 12 yard line.

The playoffs...were basically on the line. A defensive stop on the 4th and 5 throw and the Ravens -- according to ESPN's stat center -- were 97% certain to win. A conversion on that 4th and 5 situation and the Rams were in the driver's seat.

One play. 16 games into the season and it was all hinging on the Ravens being able to keep Stafford and the Rams from getting a first down on a 4th and 5 play.

Matthew Stafford connected with Odell Beckham Jr. for five yards and the first down. On the next play, the two did it again, only this time Beckham Jr. found the end zone to give Los Angeles the win. Stafford delivered with the game on the line, which hasn't always been his nature in the NFL. Give him credit. When a play needed to be made, Stafford made it.

On the flip side, when the Ravens needed to make a play in the red zone on Sunday, they couldn't do it. In fact, Baltimore didn't score an offensive touchdown vs. the Rams. Los Angeles has a decent defense, of course, but 60 minutes and no offensive touchdowns isn't going to yield many wins, even when you have Justin Tucker kicking the ball for you.

Couple Sunday's inability to score in the red zone with the failed two point conversion attempts against Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Green Bay and the Ravens have some work to do this off-season. While the stats show their red zone scoring percentage was among the best in the league, it was shockingly poor in the games they lost.

Four yards -- the failed conversions vs. Pittsburgh and Green Bay -- might have kept the Ravens out of the playoffs.

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around the nfl in two minutes and eleven seconds


BILLS 29 - FALCONS 15 -- Atlanta actually led this game at the half, 15-14, and then they fired blanks in the final two quarters and Buffalo went on to win and keep their AFC East title hopes alive. The Bills need only to beat the visiting Jets next Sunday to secure the division title. Atlanta (7-9) is better than the most people thought, but they'll finish under .500 once again.

BEARS 29 - GIANTS 3 -- This one was probably far more about the Giants (4-12) being terrible than anything else, but Chicago (6-10) has strung together some decent performances of late. It seems like New York is on the verge of another coaching change and "rebuild", which is weird since they started another one of those a couple of years ago.

BENGALS 34 - CHIEFS 31 -- If Cincinnati (10-6) stays healthy, they could be a problem in the playoffs. Their offense is extraordinarily dangerous. Their defense isn't all that great, but if they face a team or two in the playoffs (New England, Las Vegas) who are offensively challenged, they could win a game or two in January. Kansas City (11-5) probably squandered the AFC's #1 seed with that loss, but I can't imagine they're overly concerned about that.

Joe Burrow and the Bengals earned their first playoff appearance since 2015 yesterday with a 34-31 win over the Chiefs.

TITANS 34 - DOLPHINS 3 -- Well, Miami (8-8) came back to earth with a resounding thud once they had to play a really good team. Tennessee (11-5) needs only to beat Houston on the road next week to secure the first round bye and home field in the AFC playoffs. If they get Derrick Henry back, watch out. Miami, meanwhile, is now eliminated from the playoffs but could impact the post-season by beating the Patriots next week and finishing at 9-8.

RAIDERS 23 - COLTS 20 -- The league fired their coach and then they lost their star wide receiver to a horrific tragedy and yet, here the Raiders are, on the verge of the playoffs after a big showdown win over the Colts yesterday. Las Vegas (9-7) could get in even with a loss next week, but they can guarantee themselves a playoff spot by beating the visiting Chargers. Indianapolis (9-7) will make the playoffs with a win at Jacksonville next Sunday but be aware -- the Colts have lost 7 straight years in Jacksonville. The Ravens desperately need the Colts to lose next Sunday. Don't count on it happening.

PATRIOTS 50 - JAGUARS 10 -- I wonder what Bart Scott will have to say about the Patriots' blowout win over the Jaguars? New England (10-6) can still win the AFC East but they need help from the Jets. Jacksonville (2-14), meanwhile, would secure the #1 draft pick in 2022 with a loss at home to Indy next Sunday. The Patriots finish up in Miami.

BUCCANEERS 28 - JETS 24 -- The Antonio Brown #clownshoes show overshadowed a ferocious 4th quarter rally by the Bucs and a late TD throw by Tom Brady that moved Tampa Bay to 12-4 on the year. The Jets (4-12) could impact the AFC playoff picture next Sunday by beating the Bills in Buffalo, but their season has long been over. Brady has pulled some rabbits out of his hat in his out-of-this-world career but this one would be the cake-topper of them all. If the Bucs make it to the Super Bowl again then he really is the greatest of the greatest.

EAGLES 20 - WASHINGTON 16 -- Philadelphia (9-7) clinched their playoff spot by beating the "Red Wolves" (soon to become) and watching Minnesota getting eliminated by Green Bay last night. Washington (6-10) battled gamely yesterday but it wasn't enough. They need to bring in a real quarterback down there in D.C. in 2022.

CHARGERS 34 - BRONCOS 13 -- The Chargers (9-7) are alive and well in the AFC playoff race, but they'll have to go to Las Vegas and win next Sunday to guarantee themselves a post-season berth. If Justin Herbert and the Chargers do get in, they could be a problem for other AFC foes. Denver (7-9) had it going in mid-season, but a late losing skid ended their playoff hopes.

49'ERS 23 - TEXANS 7 -- San Francisco got a good performance from Trey Lance and the 49'ers (9-7) stayed alive in the NFC playoff race. They'll need to beat the Rams in Los Angeles next Sunday to make it, though. Despite having the best helmets in the league, the Texans (4-12) are just playing out the string now.

CARDINALS 25 - COWBOYS 22 -- Now this was a football game! Arizona (11-5) might be the real deal, particularly if they get DeAndre Hopkins back in the post-season. Kyler Murray is growing into a franchise quarterback, in case you haven't noticed. Meanwhile, the Dallas offense continued to sputter. The Cowboys (11-5) will go to Philadelphia next Sunday with their playoff seeding on the line. They are already in, but they're still not sure where they'll play or who they'll face.

SAINTS 18 - PANTHERS 10 -- Taysom Hill returned off the Covid-19 list and New Orleans (9-7) kept their playoff hopes alive with a win over the mostly hapless Panthers (5-11). It's a shame New Orleans might miss the post-season based in large part on last Monday's home loss to Miami when some guy named Ian Book had to play QB for the Saints.

SEAHAWKS 51 - LIONS 29 -- This was a nothing game from the start, as both teams are just playing not to get hurt before spring vacation. Seattle (6-10) got a big day from Russell Wilson in what might have been his last game in the Pacific Northwest. Detroit (2-13-1) got a big day from the airplane pilot who got the team home safely.

PACKERS 37 - VIKINGS 10 -- Minnesota was just another team in the line of those who played a game without a real QB last night, as Covid-19 shut down Kirk Cousins. And...it showed. Not that they would have defeated Green Bay anyway, but the Vikings (7-9) were eliminated from the post-season with the loss while the Packers (13-3) clinched home ice for the NFC playoffs with the win. The Rodgers-Adams connection is as spectacular as anything we've seen since the days of Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison. It's fun to watch.

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terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his seventh season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2021-2022 season.


terps travel to iowa tonight


The Iowa Hawkeyes, Maryland’s opponent tonight at 9pm in the Carver-Hawkeye arena, are a vastly transformed team from the one that threatened to make a run at last year’s national title.

The talented and massive Luca Garza is now playing in the NBA, as is Joe Wieskamp, while CJ Frederick took his talents to Kentucky and is now playing for the Wildcats.

In order to replace the loss of 60% of their points, the Hawkeyes have turned to a more balanced bench, and Keegan Murray has emerged as the leading scorer in the country.

Without Murray’s customary offensive output, Iowa, tonight will drop their third straight Big Ten game. Iowa has put up good fights against Purdue and Illinois, but fell 77-70 and 87-83 to start their Big Ten season 0-2. Maryland is 0-1 in conference, having lost to Northwestern in their only Big Ten game four weeks ago.

#DMD's Dale Williams says to expect a big game from Maryland's Eric Alaya in Iowa this evening.

Before discussing Murray and some of his teammates, let's first discuss the type of game we can expect.

Iowa plays fast. They get up and down the court, pass quickly, penetrate aggressively, and apply pressure defensively. The pace will certainly be up-tempo and this won’t be a game where the Terps can keep the score in the 60’s and still be competitive.

Maryland will need close to 80 points, or more, to get this “W”, which is a bit of a reach for a team that struggles to put up points and resides among the bottom four in scoring in the Big Ten. The good news for Terp fans is that the Hawkeyes defense has multiple vulnerabilities.

Iowa can be beaten off of the dribble from almost every position. In each game I've watched, getting into the lane and to the bucket was never a problem for any Hawkeye opponent. Once inside, the lack of a true rim protector will mean the Terps will score around the rim. I expect Fatts Russell, and his speed, to be a real problem for Iowa. Terp fans can only hope that once inside, Russell finishes strongly or makes the prudent pass. Opportunities will abound.

I’ll make one fairly bold offensive prediction for this game. Because I’m not impressed with Iowa’s interior defense, and also because I’m equally unimpressed with their defensive rebounding, I think Julian Reese will put up career high numbers tonight. The freshman has tallied 12 points on two occasions so far this year. His strengths match up favorably with Hawkeye weaknesses and I expect him to see enough floor time to put up some productive numbers. 17 points out of him would not surprise me.

Reese isn’t the only Terp that I expect to post good numbers. Qudus Wahab should have success on the low blocks and Eric Ayala, too, can score against this crew of Hawkeye defenders. Russell will live in the paint. In all, this may be Maryland’s highest Big Ten scoring output of this season. But all is not well for the Terps in this matchup. There are plenty of Iowa hurdles to overcome.

First and foremost, Maryland must contend with the 6’8” Keegan Murray. Murray is super smooth and has more than adequate athleticism and finesse. His inside moves are lethal and his mid-range game cannot be ignored. He leads Iowa (and the nation) with almost 24 points per game. He is also Iowa’s leader in rebounds (8.2), steals (1.6), and blocks per game (2.0). Iowa can’t win this game without a big night of scoring from him.

The Terps must also keep the Big Ten’s all time three-point shooting leader, shooting guard Jordan Bohannon, in check. Allowing him to roam the perimeter, where he knocks down 40% of his tries, will spell disaster for Danny Manning’s team. Bohannon is the Hawkeye’s most emotional player and allowing him to hit threes and transfer that energy to Iowa’s defensive side would be a bad mistake.

The rest of Iowa’s starting five are all capable and can’t be ignored. Patrick McCaffrey is the 6’9” coach’s son that pours in almost 12 points per game. He’s solid, not spectacular, but his match up with either Donta Scott or Hakim Hart isn’t in McCaffery’s favor.

Point guard Joe Toussaint is a tough competitor and his team’s assist leader. He averages about 5 points per contest, and because of the pressure I expect Iowa to deploy, I think he can get a few more than that tonight. But he’ll struggle with Russell’s speed or Ayala’s size.

Forward Filip Rebraca will start and probably be assigned to Wahab. Rebraca, despite getting under 6 points per game at Iowa, is a capable scorer inside or out, as evidenced by his 17-point average last year at the University of North Dakota.

Expect Iowa to pressure the Terps into turnovers tonight. The Hawkeyes are the conference leader in turnover margin (+6.46) while the Terps are last in assist to turnover ratio (0.96). Taking care of the ball is point of emphasis #1 for Maryland. A close second will be to contain Murray.

Iowa State had great success fronting the Iowa big man while doubling on him if he received the ball down low and put it on the floor. This is the exact strategy that Manning must use. Murray will get 15-20 points just because he’s good and scrappy, but you can’t let him get the ball near the bucket and operate one-on-one. If Maryland allows that, Murray will drop 30 (or more) on them.

Lastly, the Terps can’t let Bohannan get hot. He’s streaky and excitable. Let the others beat you, but control Bohannon.

This should be an interesting game. One in which Maryland may have to play more to Iowa’s style than to their own slow pace. The books have placed the over/under at 151.5. I won’t be shocked to see it go over that number. Those same lines-makers have placed Iowa as a 7.5 point favorite. I don’t think the talent gap between these two teams is worth laying that many points.

Assuming there are no significant injuries when Iowa comes to College Park in mid-February, I expect Maryland to be favored and to pick up a victory. But this game is in Iowa City and I can’t see the Hawkeyes dropping to 0-3 in conference by losing at home to Maryland.

I see a fun game this evening with a bunch of scoring. Reese gets 17, Ayala and Russell each get 20. The Terps could win this thing, but it’s more likely that balanced scoring and too much Keegan Murray provide Iowa with an 82-80 win.

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#DMD GAME DAY
Week 17


Sunday — January 2, 2021
Issue 2688

Los Angeles Rams at Baltimore Ravens

1:00 PM EST

M&T Bank Stadium
Baltimore, MD

Spread: Rams (-6.0)



it's (really, really close to) must-win time


The Ravens don't have to win today vs. the Rams, but if they lose and a few other results work against them, John Harbaugh's team can be eliminated from the playoffs this afteroon in Baltimore.

Ready for something even more crazy?

The Ravens can still win the AFC North and host a home playoff game.

Their season can essentially end today or they could turn the entire last two weeks upside down with a win and losses by Cincinnati and Cleveland.

The NFL is one crazy league, huh?

Several things are working against the Ravens today. In no short order, they're the Rams, Lamar, the Ravens secondary and momentum. All of those elements favor the visitors today, it would appear.

The Rams (11-4) are in need of a win to stay ahead of Arizona in the NFC West. Los Angeles could still finish either 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th in the NFC, so a win today is paramount for Sean McVay's team. Finishing 2nd in the NFC would be huge for the Rams. They need to win two games and need Dallas to lose one of their last two in order to snag the 2nd seed. And the Packers still have to win their games or the Rams could claim the top seed in the NFC.

Can Wink Martindale and the Baltimore defense slow down the NFL's leading receiver, Cooper Kupp, today?

All things being equal -- with both teams being relatively healthy and playing this game on a level playing field -- the Ravens wouldn't be overly concerned with the Rams. But there's concern, of course, because the Baltimore quarterback situation is still very much up in the air. Will Lamar Jackson play today? Will he be fully healthy if he does? And if he can't go, is Tyler Huntley up for the task of avoiding the fierce Rams pass rush and directing the Baltimore offense efficiently for 60 minutes?

And even if Lamar is healthy and good to go, can the Baltimore defense hold off a Rams passing attack that features the NFL's top receiver (Cooper Kupp) and a rejuvenated Odell Beckham, Jr.? If the game turns into a shootout, in other words, can the Baltimore offense pick up the slack created by the injury-riddled Baltimore secondary?

Momentum is a week-to-week thing in the NFL. In this game, though, the Rams have it and the Ravens don't. Los Angeles has won four straight and the Ravens have dropped four in a row. One potential saving grace for the Ravens -- the Rams are traveling across the country for a 1 pm game. The bad news? The Rams are 4-0 this year in games in the east or midwest part of the country.

The Ravens aren't automatically eliminated with a loss today, but there are 34 combinations of results that could eliminate them. It is fair to note that 15 of the 34 combinations include a tie by either the Raiders or Chargers, but the other 19 are more realistic and nearly all of them involve the Miami Dolphins. The Ravens aren't in the business of rooting against other teams, since they have business of their own to handle, but a Miami loss in Nashville today would be VERY beneficial to Baltimore's playoff hopes.

Somehow, all four teams are still alive in the AFC North. The only thing that could get decided today is the division title, which goes to the Bengals if they beat Kansas City. A Bengals win eliminates the Browns, Ravens and Steelers from the AFC North title chase and a Cincinnati win coupled by a victory by either Miami or the Los Angeles Chargers would eliminate Cleveland from the playoffs entirely. The Steelers are eliminated from the playoff picture if the Ravens win and the Steelers lose to the Browns on Monday night. No matter what the Ravens do today, a loss to Cleveland would virtually eliminate Pittsburgh from the post-season.

The Ravens are up against it today, no two ways about it.

They're facing a surging Rams team, in what should be fairly decent early January weather, and L.A.'s strength (offense and throwing the ball) could unfortunately expose Baltimore's biggest late season weakness (defense and the secondary).

But John Harbaugh's team is far more healthy than they were this time last week and they're back home, two points that should help them compete with the Rams today. Unfortunately for the Ravens, "competing" isn't the desired goal or outcome. They need a win, desperately, in order to stay alive in the AFC playoff race.

As is always the case, the two coordinators will be under the gun to produce a stellar game plan this afternoon. No matter who starts at QB for Baltimore, Greg Roman has to figure out a way to keep the likes of Aaron Donald and Von Miller from making a major impact in the game. Wink Martindale has the same sort of issue on the defensive side; how can he negate Kupp and Beckham Jr. for 60 minutes?

The Ravens have put themselves in this position today, but it's one they didn't necessarily do to themselves. Injuries, Covid-19 woes and a tough final month schedule have put them in this must-win situation.

One win changes a lot of things, though. Just a win, by any score or any manner.


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how drew sees today's game


I'm going to buy stock in the Ravens today, believe it or not.

Three reasons:

1. I believe Lamar will be healthy enough to play by game-time. And even if he isn't, I consider Tyler Huntley to be more than capable of getting the job done. No disrespect intended to Josh Johnson, but the Ravens can beat the Rams today if Lamar or Huntley get the starting nod.

The Ravens offense will need to once again lean on Mark Andrews in today's showdown with the Rams.

2. The season's on the line for the Ravens. If you're a believer in market correction -- and I am, for sure -- you have to think the Ravens are due for a good break or two today. I don't see them losing at home with their playoff hopes at stake. John Harbaugh will figure out a way to get every morsel of quality out of the healthy players he has at his disposal today. If I'm betting on someone, I'm betting on Harbaugh.

3. I don't think this is the kind of game Matthew Stafford wins. If he engineers the Rams to a win today, I'll be the first one here tomorrow at #DMD to say "I was wrong." Matthew Stafford's not coming to Baltimore and winning today. It's not in his career DNA.

There's no need to go through the play-by-play and such, because if the Ravens win, we know who the stars are going to be; Lamar or Huntley, Mark Andrews, Justin Tucker and perhaps one of the veteran defensive players like Calais Campbell or Brandon Williams. One of those two will recover a late fumble or bat a ball in the air that gets picked off to seal the game.

I assume Kupp and OBJ will not be held in check all day. The Rams will primarily throw the ball, which will lengthen the game and give both teams plenty of offensive possessions. The Ravens will trail at the half, 20-17, but respond with two TD's in the 3rd quarter to lead 31-27 after three quarters.

L.A. scores with 6 minutes left to go up 34-31, but the Ravens march right down the field themselves and score with just under 2 minutes remaining to lead 38-34. The Rams get the ball to the Baltimore 30 but can't punch it in from there and the Ravens keep their 2021 season alive with a 38-34 win.

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all moved in but still have expenses


Well, after smashing the experts in Las Vegas again last week, we've moved into the new beach house in Delaware and we're starting to enjoy the benefits of awesome tax-free living.

But we're discovering the bills keep coming in. The wine cellar ran us about $2,000 more than we thought and we decided to upgrade both the fridge and dishwasher and spent an extra $2,000 on those items.

So here we are again, ready to hand out five more winners and afford all of this fun we've created for ourselves.

Are you in? The five winners are free. Just follow along and play to your means, that's all. We're glad we can help.

Mahomes vs. Burrow today in Cincinnati. We're going with the veteran over the 2nd year guy.

CHIEFS AT BENGALS (+4.0) -- Talk about a "silver platter game". The Bengals are coming in sky high after last Sunday's blowout of the Ravens. Yes, they are absolutely primed for a letdown, particularly when they're facing perhaps the AFC's best team in Kansas City. The Bengals were ready for last Sunday's contest against the depleted Ravens, but they are not ready to beat an elite team like the Chiefs. We're taking Kansas City -- as if you can't tell -- in a 32-23 win over the Bengals.


DOLPHINS AT TITANS (-3.0) -- We're going to do a little reserve-thinking here and see if we can get a bit of luck on this one. We don't see any way Miami goes to Tennessee and wins. The Dolphins have feasted on bad teams during their 7-game winning streak and they're simply not ready for this kind of "upgrade" in Nashville today. So we're taking Miami and the 3 points, right? Makes total sense doesn't it? Well, we're not. We'll go with the Titans and lay the 3 points in a 24-17 win over Miami.


RAIDERS AT COLTS (-8.0) -- That line of 8 points must assume Carson Wentz is playing (which, it looks as if he will after being activated off the Covid-19 list yesterday) in what is basically a "must win" game for the Raiders. If Las Vegas (8-7) wins, they stay alive in the AFC. A loss and they're cooked. We're figuring the Raiders stay in this throughout the game, so we're taking Las Vegas and the 8 points but Indy comes through with an important home win, 27-23.


EAGLES AT WASHINGTON (+4.5) -- This one's a bit dangerous because the Eagles really need a win and the Washington's would love to spoil the party. Whether the Washington's have enough under the hood to spoil the party is a whole other story, though, and we're figuring they don't, as we're going with Philly here and giving up the 4.5 points as the Eagles win, 23-16.


BRONCOS AT CHARGERS (-7.5) -- Los Angeles needs this one to stay alive and they're facing the perfect team, a Broncos squad that was essentially booted out of the post-season by Las Vegas last Sunday. The Chargers are still thinking Super Bowl, despite their up-and-down season. We love, love, love the Chargers today in a big way, so we're taking L.A. and the 7.5 points in a 38-17 win.


BEST BET OF THE DAY -- We went to the well against Denver last week and it paid off and we're doing it again today. We're going with the Chargers (-7.5) against the Broncos in today's BEST BET game. You're welcome.


LAST WEEK'S RECORD: 3-2

SEASON RECORD TO DATE: 42-38

BEST BET OF THE DAY: 9-7

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#dmd comments








Jeff “Fireball” Roberts     January 19
It was just a matter of time before the Dallas coach pulled a mccarthy. Ya’ think Manning will be invited back to College Park next season ? Yeah, me either. I hope the CBA gets settled in the next 2-3 weeks. I am looking forward to Orioles season.

Travis     January 19
Drew



On your constant bashing of the Flyers (most subjects that pertain nothing to ice hockey), did the hatred start when some Flyers Fan poured a beer on you at The Spectrum for wearing a Caps Jersey?

KC     January 19
@Drew saying what the FM radio guys won't say today because they're tied into UM basketball. Today reminds me of the way @Drew was on the radio when he was the only guy in town willing to hammer the Orioles for their losing ways. Old school Dish today!!!

Stats Nerd     January 19
@Kenny-yeah the whole thing makes little sense. I thought if managed properly they could have run at least 2 and maybe 3 more plays with 14 seconds. If they felt more comfortable from, say the 25, run a 1215 yard out route and get out of bounds. Wild man

@Chris-yeah I've heard people ask about Duv. Think Deebo is thicker but Duv has wheels. I'm not sure it would work either but some of those things had to have worked better than some of the crap they were running. Getting Duv 6-8 touches a game certainly makes sense to me.

I am EXTREMELY bullish on Bateman. He won't be Deebo but I think he could be an absolute monster next year. He tics all the boxes: strong physical, runs clean routes, incredibly good hands. If GRo or whoever doesn't get the ball to him in space next season it will be a huge error to me. Reminds in a lot of ways of Anquan.

lou@palo alto     January 19
a UK study has shown a post covid brain fog that can last up to 9 mo--on a variety of cognitive tests there was a decreased attention span, memory and overall game performance--??Lamar he certainly looked slow and confused in his last few games--fyi

Bill     January 19
I consider myself a Maryland basketball fan. I completely agree that they looked disinterested last night. I am feeling a little disinterested too. I don't know why but the Terps have lost me this season. Very little energy on or off the court. Players (and maybe coaches) look like they are just going through the motions. I worry what the recruits must be thinking. Maryland better get this ship turned around quickly or fans could be in for a few years of bad basketball.

David Rosenfeld     January 19
I feel bad for those guys--as basketball players. Their coach--he quit on them. I don't care as a fan if you're glad he's gone, you have to admit that's what he did. And I'm sure they feel like they're kind of on their own right now. I mean...heck...even some awful MD teams had a great home court advantage, and they don't even have that anymore.

And now...what's happening is that they realize that they aren't good, and that the mechanism isn't in place for them to get better. And I'm not sure how they are going to respond to that.

I think this is Square 1. Reese will probably leave, despite his sister. The good news? You can get good quickly with the right coach.

Tom J     January 19
Maryland basketball is now resembling what Maryland football has been over the years. And it's starting to look like no one cares about the basketball now either judging by all of the empty seats there. Turgeon is laughing all the way to the bank......

Chris in Bel Air     January 19
Was watching the Caps and then remembered Terps were playing too. Flipped to that game, saw they were down by 17 and flipped back to Caps. Glad that's all I saw because if two writers are roasting due to lack of effort, it's not good.

@StatsNerd - Enjoyed today's article and agree on Deebo. He is unique player and I'm sure all fans wish their team had a multi-tool player like that. On that note, I don't expect Duvernay to be the same exact talent as Deebo but I do feel like the Ravens underutilize him. He might get one jet sweep or a poorly executed/timed screen but that's about it.

Agree w/ @DelRay - thankfully Ravens hired Harbs and not Garrett.

Kenny G     January 19
Stats Nerd - the one way I thought of the Dallas draw play was could Dak run far enough in say 10 seconds (need time to spot and spike) to make the next play(s) have a higher probability of success. The difference of a 41 yard vs 27 yard TD potential play cant be much but having two chances from 41 was probably the better option - TD or pass interference. Add in the factors that Dak did not give the ball to the ref and the line effectively blocked the ref from spotting the ball - what were they thinking? Sorry you answered that.




MFC     January 19
Who knows what goes through the heads of these players. I can't call them them kids because many are over 21 and with "re-classing", transferring in high school now the transfer portal in college many may well be 23 and 24. I do know when I watch games I don't see many "college looking kids" on the floor. I see men with incredible strength. Maybe, even though they probably have no idea what the old ACC was about are hearing about going to warm Miami or Florida State and now have to play in the dreary, cold midwest to face Michigan, Northwestern, Iowa etc. Who knows, but you're right, they didn't show up that's for sure.



Faithful, picking games is a guess. Yes computers, reading about past performances, metrics and "that stuff" can make it an educated guess but so many things can and do happen in a game that it comes down to you're either right or wrong. Remember, you're getting free thoughts here. You're introspection may be 100% correct and then..... Much easier to just pick a winner, now add in a spread and the job gets tougher. If not for the 1/2 point the faithful coffers would be a few thousand richer.

Dale, no need to read any comments dissing you, you made an educated guess, it didn't turn out. The world didn't end and unfortunately Omicron is still with us. You do write great re-caps.


Delray RICK     January 19
That's why the "COWGIRLS " have been nothing but a 500 team for years. Think if we didn't hire JOHN.

Mike     January 19
Drew and Dale both going in with both barrels on Maryland today. Wowza!

Ray Ray     January 19
#MJ Dale had the courage to make his "prediction" BEFORE the game was over.

MJ     January 18
Dale gonna get crushed in 4......3.......2.......1

Steve of Pimlico     January 18
I don't bet football,but what makes Drews picks any better than anyone else's. I would bet his golf picks as he has a degree of expertise there.

David Rosenfeld     January 18
7 teams in each conference making the playoffs aside, it was still kind of amazing to see the kinds of blowouts we saw.

Did I think the Eagles and Patriots were good teams? No. Was there reason to believe they'd be blitzed like that IMMEDIATELY? No way. And surely the Steelers weren't any good, but they just as surely found ways to stay in games all year.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals are a good team, but I can't imagine they could play worse, including maybe the worst play I've seen a QB make in his end zone. And for all intents and purposes, the Cowboys SHOULD have been blown out.

Howard     January 18
Unless the NY COVID rules change between now and the playoffs, the Nets would be better off finishing 8th in the conference. That way Kyrie will be available for any game 7 (unless they play the Knicks or Raptors)

Pauly Dee     January 18
The Emperor Has No Clothes.



We've been fed this "Get the shots...they're safe...they're effective" junk long enough. Wake up and smell the coffee. I personally know, or know of, over 100 fully vaccinated/boostered up people who have gotten the virus. In addition, scientific journal, The Lancet, and others have published articles showing that the shots don't stop the spread of the virus. And what are the long-term studies showing us of the effects of getting the shots?



On this, Kyrie will be shown on the right side of history. The tyrants of NYC and many others in what used to be known as, "The Land of the Free," will not be.

Chris in Bel Air     January 18
Despite their expanded playoff format and giving opportunities to pretender teams like the Steelers, the NFL does have the 8 best teams now playing to earn a spot in the Super Bowl. Cards started off hot but limped in losing 4 of last 5. Cowboys? Plenty of talent but after all the penalties and that bonehead play on the last drive, they didn't deserve to move on. Raiders were close but just didn't have the offensive horses. All 4 games this weekend are intriguing match-ups. Should be much better games than this past weekend.

unitastoberry     January 18
Another NFL playoff blowout last night. Cardinals folded like a chair in December/January. There QB is not impressive in 3-4 years he's probably working for a living. I hope it gets better next weekend. Cha-Ching!

MFC     January 18
Good weekend for the faithful. Here's the recap of our mythical $1,000/game wager.



YTD ($300)

Wins 4 = $4,000

Lose 2 = ($2,200)

Total = +$1800 hope everyone sends the site owner his wine of choice, you can afford it



YTD = ($300)

week= +$1800

YTD Total +$1500- in the NFL betting that many games this is a WIN





Hope Ramey and the faithful didn't plow it all back in last night.

Just a note I didn't chart the "best bet" of the week.



It would seem to me that the betting faithful didn't like "all" of the picks and went with your own thoughts and prognostication as some have posted of OC weeks that are now paid for. No biggie and congrats but you can't scram from the mountaintop about the picks if you strayed. That's not exactly apples to apples.

Certainly glad you won. If you rode the pony all the way you would be up and those PXG's would be on order. Still time to make a serious dent into Vegas.


aaron     January 17
I bet $5 grand on the Cardinals since Drew was so sure of that pick, I sure hop e they can rally!

Billy     January 17
Hey @Mark, how we doing on that AZ pick tonight??

George     January 17
What odds can I get the Jacksonville Jaguars finish above .500 next year and win at least one playoff game the next year?

snead     January 17
If Billy had the balls to wager he'd be winning $$$ and wouldn't be here crying! LMAO

Mark in Perry Hall     January 17
Has anyone ever lived in someone else's head rent free like @DF lives in @Billy's head? LMFAO.

DJ     January 17
I only bet DF's "Best Bet of the Day" games and wound up plus $1,000 for the season. He was pretty good at those games, FWIW.

Ramey     January 17
Billy, I bet the Best Bet pick every week and would usually pick one other game or sometimes two because that's pretty much what my budget allowed for. I started out at $200 a game and eventually took it to $500 a game. I don't remember exactly which weeks this happened but I went 2-0, 3-0, 2-1 and 3-0 over a 4 week run. I think it was in week 2, 3, 4, 5. It was early in the year I know that. I was up $11,300 at one point but week 16 or 17 I went 0-4. I'm not even sure Drew knows this but he was very good picking AFC West games. I think he went 13-3 according to my calculations.

Billy     January 17
LOL, sure "RAMEY". Did you know ahead of time which pick was a loser, or you bet enough on the others to net such a nice haul??

You faithful crack me up....

Czechm8     January 17
Completely agree with you about the playoffs. 5 games this weekend and 3 were curb stompers. The Eagles and Patriots were out of it early and once the Chiefs got their footing, they ran off 5 TDs in under 12 minutes. But Drew is right: there is no going back with the oligarchs who run the league. A 7th team in each conference is extra revenue in their pockets, which is first and foremost in their planning. The only way it would possibly change is if people stop going to the games and/or viewership numbers, which impact advertising dollars, drops. I see neither happening anytime soon.

Ramey     January 17
I bet real money on Drew's picks and I am $7,800 to the good. I'm happy as I can be to share that info.

kevin     January 17
The "faithful" all crawling out of the world work today. Serious question, why is it ok to post pernicious comments when site owner does well with his picks, but when critics do the same on the inevitable bad weeks, those folks are shouted down and derided as "haters"?

Seems to me both sides should be allowed to crow about their respective views if they so choose. I don't understand either side, as my guess is none of these commenters are truly betting on any of these picks so who cares?? If they are, it seems the MFC scoreboard would tell you how those bets have gone.

Caps definitely struggling with having consistent lineups, but its the NHL, no need to worry about how any team is playing until Mar.




Stats Nerd     January 17
My hot take: Jimmy G is far better than most give him credit for. Dude wins. A lot. Would prefer he not be in a Pitts or Browns jersey

@Chris re: Caps. They have been decimated with injuries/COVID protocol. There certainly is reason to be concerned but I think they likely overachieved initially and perhaps their record is reverting to the mean now. They are really good 5v5 but their PP is hot garbage atm. Also Vitek > Samsonov right now IMO. But Ilya has more upside probably

DF     January 17
Note: There are 16 teams in each conference. Not 15. I forgot the Jaguars and Giants are considered "in the league". Apologies.

jfd23@comcast.net     January 17
I wouldn't be surprised to see Jimmy Garoppolo wearing a Steeler uniform next year.

Chris in Bel Air     January 17
Was hoping the Raiders were going to win, A- because the players have been through a lot this year and was really liking their resolve and B- watching them beat the Bengals would have been nice. But Drew is correct. The Steelers, Eagles and Patriots were not playoff teams and they were exposed as such. Same would have been had the Ravens somehow squeaked in the last week. Sure, Steelers, Eagles and Patriots earned their spot under the current NFL rules. But, the NFL's goal for the playoffs isn't high-level competition. It's all about viewing and money. More teams = more viewing = more money. No doubt they will continue to expand as well and keep rewarding more mediocre teams with a playoff spot.

Drew, any concerns growing with the Caps? They have lost 5 of last 6 and are 7-10 over last 17. Just a little mid-season slump that is normal part of the ebb and flow of a season or something more telling of them?

MFC     January 17
@JK, the recap comes at the end of the weekend with no games remaining, I think there's a game tonight at least the site owner has picked a winner for tonight so I'm sure there's one. Reading comprehension wasn't taught where you went to school? Hopefully it was not Calvert Hall, this was posted Saturday, "and it was a great start to the weekend for the faithful. Right now out of the hole, good luck."



Speaking of Calvert Hall congrats to Lou Eckerel on his announced retirement. We were combatants in high school and both stayed involved with sports. He is a really good man and outstanding coach and athletic director. I wish him well in his retirement, he's earned it.



Please get me out of your head trust me I'm not worth it.


James     January 17
Like "TimD", I had a profitable weekend thanks to Drew. Appreciate the "site owner" coming through! ha ha ha

If my math is correct Drew is now 51-44 picking games. I wonder what the peanut gallery thinks about that?

JK     January 17
4-1 for @DF yesterday and crickets from @MFC and @Billy and the rest of the doubting Thomas types. Poor sports.

unitastoberry     January 17
The mediocre football league MFL was on full display this weekend. Extra playoff teams and the 17 game season made for several run the score up games. Playoff series are for elite teams not mediocre teams. I was pretty glad at the outcome with NE, Cowgirls,Eagles,and Stillers all going home. It was a good year to root against PA teams which I always do and promises to get worse next year including Penn Pedo St getting butt kicked and signing their loser coach to a 10 year deal in UnHappy Valley. I don't care who wins now just hope they are all clutch games to the finish.

TimD in Timonium     January 17
Yesterday's Bucs / Niners / Chiefs parlay turned out pretty well. Thanks, @DF.

Eric in Gaithersburg     January 17
CJ- How am i backtracking? When did i say Manning would win with these scrubs. Of course its the players, recruited by lousy coach.

Bradley     January 16
So if one were a twitter follower- 49ers went from epic loss to NFC championship? Great insight!

Chris     January 16
Check that GM. Drew is now 4-1 ATS and 5-0 on the ML.

Stats Nerd     January 16
Mike McCarthy doing Mike McCarthy things. Nature is healing

Gm     January 16
@DF 3-1 ATS and 4-0 on the ML. Haters gotta be sick.

Billy     January 16
@MFC The faithful too busy allowing @Kevin to live in their heads lol....

MFC     January 16
Surprised the faithful didn't catch my mistake a rare mistake by them. I was wrong the DMD big bettors are not up $1,000 YTD they are actually down ($300).



Sorry for the error but also proves to the faithful that I'm not exactly hanging on every game and it was a great start to the weekend for the faithful. Right now out of the hole, good luck.

Jerryh     January 16
I was thinking the same thing as "KJ".

Saturday
January 1, 2022
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2686


2022 is here


Some friends were chatting about the end of 2021 and the arrival of 2022 yesterday and one of the constant themes was, "I sure hope this year is better than the last."

To which I replied, "It's like the opera. It will be better than you think. It has to be..."

That's kind of how I approach the first day of 2022 and the new year that's upon us. I don't think it's possible to be worse than 2020 or 2021, right? Although it is fair to admit that, for the most part, 2021 actually did itself proud. People went back to work (on location), the beach and resorts were almost fully vibrant once again and there were concerts and fans in stadiums and arenas as well.

It was only the last six weeks or so of 2021 that made us all lament better times in the past.

Is there a better picture in all of sports?

I do seriously think 2022 will be better. The Covid-19 stuff isn't going away anytime soon, but there are medications on the way, more vaccines and boosters available to those that want them and, I assume, continued safety precautions that we'll all quietly and not-so-quietly abide by throughout the next 12 months.

Who made resolutions last night? I've never been big on them, but I do understand the value of a good New Year's Resolution. It gets your mind right, so to speak. It gives you the opportunity to start from scratch and move forward with dedication to the task at hand.

I have actually gone 41 straight years of hitting my New Year's Resolution right on the nose.

Not many people can say that, but I can. I'm 41-for-41. When I was 17, my New Year's Resolution was to root as hard as humanly possible against the Philadelphia Flyers for the next 12 months.

And I've kept that resolution intact since 1980 and every year since, I've said I was going to do it and I went out and did it.

My 2022 resolution is the same. I eagerly check the scores every night the Flyers are playing and root as hard as I can for the team they're playing against. When the Flyers lose, much like the bell that rang in the movie, It's A Wonderful Life, an angel gets her wings.

It's actually kind of comforting knowing you've made a resolution that you know going in you're going to keep throughout the year.

What about you? Any resolutions you care to share that we can all follow and hold you to in 2022?


To no one's surprise, it will be an all SEC championship game on January 10 in college football after Alabama and Georgia both won in easy fashion on Friday.

Nick Saban and Alabama handed Cincinnati their only loss of the season on Friday night.

Alabama didn't exactly crush Cincinnati (27-6) but the Tide were always in control, which wasn't any great surprise. Georgia was never really threatened by Michigan in a 34-11 win.

I saw lots of Twitter activity about the games yesterday (full disclosure, I saw about 3 minutes of Alabama's win and maybe 10 minutes of Georgia's win) and there was a common theme that the College Football Playoff needs to expand to 14 or 16 teams to "make it more interesting".

OK, maybe. If you just want more meaningful college football games, that's fine. I thought that's what the bowl games were for, actually, but I get it. When you have a "playoff", more teams are in and the more opportunities you get for stories and wild upsets and come-from-behind wins and so on.

But a playoff isn't likely going to change the fact that Alabama is going to be in the championship game. There have been eight CFP championship games now and Alabama has qualified for six of them.

I guess folks feel the more teams that are in the playoff and the more games perennial stalwarts like Alabama have to play, the more likely they'll get bumped out along the way. Do people really hate Alabama that much? I guess they do.


We're a day away from Ravens-Rams and there's still no real indication of who will play at quarterback for John Harbaugh's team tomorrow.

Lamar Jackson didn't practice on Friday and Tyler Huntley was a full participant, so we at least know the Ravens have a 100% healthy guy under center tomorrow if Huntley winds up starting.

With Lamar missing practice again on Friday, Tyler Huntley seems to be in line for the start vs. the Rams. Or is he?

But Harbaugh and Huntley both said they think Lamar has a legit chance to play vs. the Rams. To that I say: "Come on man, who do you two think you're kidding?" The way he limped around on Wednesday at practice...and then didn't practice on Thursday and Friday? He's really going to play Sunday? No way.

But wait. There is a way Lamar plays tomorrow and it's called "a pre-game pain killer". One train of thought from a bird in a tree at Owings Mills was shared with me yesterday.

"We wanted him out there on Wednesday to see if he was at least mobile enough to move around, set his feet and make throws. And he was. He clearly wasn't 100%, but he told us after practice he actually felt better as they day went on. Second, having him practice on Wednesday at least created some thought in the Rams' minds that he might actually play on Sunday," the source said.

The Owings Mills bird continued: "And so, he took Thursday and Friday off to get more treatment. He'll do the walk-through today. And then Sunday morning he can get the shot and play through it against the Rams. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Lamar play Sunday and play well."

I'll believe it when I see it, but I also know, having had "a shot or two" in my elbow and my knee in order to play a golf tournament, that you do feel like a new person in the aftermath of those pain killer injections. There's not much that bothers you in the hours that follow.

As for Huntley getting the nod, I'm fully comfortable with that idea. With Josh Johnson at the helm, the Ravens' chances of winning were probably 10%. Huntley increases those odds to 40%, in my opinion. Lamar's presence would shift the odds to 50%, even in his limited state.


Just for fun, I went to the "playoff machine" website and took a few minutes to input the expected results for the last two weeks of the NFL (AFC) season. Doing that yields the playoff picture and seedings in the AFC.

The biggest question mark in all it is the status of Colts' QB Carson Wentz, who was placed on the Covid-19 list earlier this week. Wentz has to be removed from the list by 4 pm today and then he has to record a negative Covid test on Sunday morning before the Colts host the Raiders in a pivotal game. In making my picks with the playoff machine, I did so assuming Wentz will pass the protocols and play against Las Vegas.

So here's what I think will happen:

Pittsburgh beats Cleveland, loses to Baltimore.

Cincinnati loses to Kansas City, beats Cleveland.

Baltimore beats Los Angeles, beats Pittsburgh.

Buffalo beats Atlanta, beats NY Jets.

New England beats Jacksonville, loses to Miami.

Miami loses to Tennessee, beats New England.

Indianapolis beats Las Vevas, beats Jacksonville.

Los Angeles Chargers beats Denver, beats Las Vegas.

Las Vegas loses to Indianapolis, loses to Los Angeles Chargers.

Tennessee beats Miami, loses at Houston.

Kansas City beats Cincinnati, beats Denver.


And with all of that done...here's what happens to the playoff picture.

Kansas City is the #1 seed in the AFC at 13-4.

#2 Tennessee (11-6) hosts #7 Baltimore (10-7).

#3 Buffalo (11-6) hosts #6 New England (10-7).

#4 Cincinnati (10-7) hosts #5 Indianapolis (11-6).


So there you have it...

Nashville road trip, anyone?

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Friday
December 31, 2021
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2685


goodbye, 2021


When I was 19, I went to Times Square in New York City for the dropping of the ball and all the celebrating and hoopla that went with it.

I met a young lady from Smithtown, New York that night. I think that's out on Long Island, somewhere. Her name was Emily. She was home from college, a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania if my memory serves me right.

Those details I shared about that night in Manhattan are far more exciting than anything I'll do tonight as the clock nears midnight and we put another year in the rear view mirror. I might stay up long enough to do the countdown at 11:59, but I wouldn't bet on it. As the years go by, I don't treat December 31 any different than January 31 or March 31.

Younger Drew -- out until the wee hours of the morning ringing in the new year.

Older Drew -- content to watch a movie with his wife and kids at home and fall asleep on the couch at 11:15 pm.

Behind the 9th green at Omaha Country Club, July 9, 2021.

Now...if you're still someone who celebrates the ball dropping and the turnover from 2021 to 2022 later tonight, please do it safely! Enough said on that subject, right?

Despite my non-interest in New Year's Eve revelry, I've spent the last day or two thinking about the last 12 months. 2021 was indeed a memorable year for me. Quite honestly, it turned out to be one of the most memorable years of my life.

In January I accepted a position on staff at my church, Immaculate Heart of Mary. I run the Outreach office there. We service our neighbors in the 21286 and 21234 zip codes, providing food and financial assistance for people who are struggling with their basic expenses like rent, BG&E and medical costs.

The office is open 3 days a week. In 2021, we assisted roughly 250 families. We're blessed to have an incredibly vibrant and generous parish, donating money, food and household items that we in turn distribute to our neighbors in need.

We recently held a 3-day Christmas Outreach event where 47 families from the neighborhood came out and picked up food, clothes and new toys for the holiday season. Through the generous help of our awesome group of volunteers, we helped make Christmas bright for 47 families in the 21234 and 21286 zip codes. God is great, indeed!

On June 14, I shot 69 and qualified for the U.S. Senior Open at Argyle CC in Silver Spring, MD. I birdied the 17th and 18th holes to get into a 3-man playoff, with only one of the three advancing to the tournament at Omaha Country Club in July.

For the last 30 years, one of the things I've done thousands of times is stand over a putt on a practice green at either Mount Pleasant, Mountain Branch or Eagle's Nest and say to myself, "And now this putt.....from 10 feet.....to win the Masters."

Sometimes I'd substitute U.S. Open for Masters. Or I'd be putting to win the British Open and be crowned "the champion golfer of the year." Jack Nicklaus used to say he played "a movie in my head" of every shot or putt he was going to make. He "saw the shot" in his mind before he executed it, in other words.

On the fourth playoff hole at Argyle CC back on June 14, I had a 16-foot putt that had a cup of break, left to right. One of the three players in the playoff had been eliminated on the second extra hole with a bogey. And now, the other competitor had 8 feet left for par. I had a birdie putt from 16 feet to qualify for the U.S. Senior Open.

And as I read the putt I retreated to the old practice habits at Mount Pleasant. I lined up the putt, looked down at the ball and said to myself, "This is a putt to make the U.S. Senior Open."

Only this time, it was for real. It wasn't practice. I wasn't putting with Dale Williams or Greg Ruark or Jim Pappas or Ernie Kosmas. I had a 16-foot putt to play in one of golf's "major championships". It was -- and still is, now -- surreal.

I've never been like Jack Nicklaus, but in that moment I was. I literally saw the ball going in the hole before I stroked it. And then I hit the greatest putt of my life. It dove right into the middle of the hole, with perfect speed.

On July 8 and 9, I played in the U.S. Senior Open at Omaha Country Club. Those were the greatest two days of golf I've ever had. My son caddied the final hole for me. No other player in the 156-man field made a bogey on his final hole on Friday while he had tears running down his face, watching his son carry his bag up the fairway.

Jim Furyk might have won the golf tournament in Omaha, but he didn't do what I did on Friday on my very last hole. I might even say my reward was better than his. Nothing I'll ever do in golf will top that last 15 minutes I had at Omaha Country Club.

There's a saying about everyone having their 15 minutes or something or other. That was my 15 minutes that day. I spent it with my son on the 9th hole, with my wife and daughter on the edge of the fairway walking along just outside the ropes. It can't ever get better than that.

I have no idea why God blessed me with that U.S. Senior Open opportunity, but I'm forever grateful that He did.

In late August, my son started his freshman year at Calvert Hall College High School. My wife and I are beyond blessed and thankful to have him attend that outstanding institution. He's fitting in nicely there and will merge from JV swimming to JV golf in late February and I'm excited to see how his golf game progresses. He has to improve his game quite a bit in the next year or so in order to someday make the varsity golf team I coach at Calvert Hall, but I'm excited to watch him play on the JV squad in 2022.

2021 wasn't all peaches and cream. My wife's mother and father are not doing well health-wise, which is always tough to witness. Covid-19 continues to be at the forefront of everything we do here in Baltimore and throughout the country. And I had a mid-November case of quadriceps tendinitis that kept me off the golf course for the better part of six weeks. You know what they say about getting old -- it ain't for the faint of heart.

But another year is in the books and we're all looking forward to bigger and better days in 2022.

Thanks to all of you for being part of my 2021; corporate partners, #DMD writers, staff members and, of course, those of you who are reading this message right now. I hope your 2021 was memorable in a pleasant way and I wish you great success in 2022.

Happy New Year to all! May God bless you with abundant joy in 2022.

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so...what's ahead in 2022?


Just for kicks and giggles, and because a few of these are bound to be right and I can then say, "Dude, I told you back on December 31st that was going to happen."

January

Alabama beats Georgia, 33-31, to win the college football national championship.

Ravens lose at Tennessee in the first round of the playoffs, 27-21.

Chiefs, Colts, Packers, Rams are your NFL "Final Four".

February

Chiefs 27 - Packers 23 in the Super Bowl.

Tiger Woods makes his 2022 debut at the Genesis Invitational in Los Angeles and finishes T22 with rounds of 70-71-70-73.

Ravens announce signing of Lamar Jackson to a 7-year contract worth $330MM, with $84 million guaranteed.

March

Maryland basketball loses in the 2nd round of the Big Ten tournament and does not receive an invite to the NCAA tournament.

Harris English wins The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass.

Orioles open the '22 season with a stirring 6-4 win in ten innings over Toronto at Camden Yards on March 31. Ryan Mountcastle's two run homer is the difference after Toronto scored once in the top of the 10th to take the lead, 4-3. Adley Rutschman goes 1-4 in his professional debut, with a single in the 4th inning.

Maryland basketball announces hiring of former Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard.

Viktor Hovland shoots -14 to win the 2022 Masters.

April

Kansas, UCLA, Villanova and Arizona make the college basketball Final Four. Kansas beats Villanova in the championship game, 77-70.

Viktor Hovland wins the Masters for his first major championship.

Ravens select University of Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad Gardner in the 1st round of the NFL Draft.

May

Jack Christopher wins the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs

Dustin Johnson wins the PGA Championship at Southern Hills in Tulsa, OK.

Messier wins the Preakness.

The Toronto Blue Jays finish the first 40 games of the '22 baseball season with an astounding record of 29-11.

The Washington Capitals are eliminated by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Eastern Conference Finals of the NHL playoffs, 4-games-to-2.

June

Barossa wins the Belmont.

Toronto defeats Calgary, 4-games-to-1, to win the Stanley Cup.

Orioles reach the halfway mark of the '22 season with a record of 35-46.

Bryson DeChambeau wins the U.S. Open at The Country Club in Brookline, MA.

Golden State defeats Milwaukee, 4-games-to-2, to win NBA championship.

July

Jordan Spieth wins the British Open at St. Andrews.

August

Capitals trade T.J. Oshie to Minnesota

September

Ravens open the '22 season at home and beat Buffalo, 24-20.

October

Orioles lose 11-4 to the Yankees in New York to finish the '22 season with a record of 72-90. Adley Rutschman plays 129 games with a .277 batting average, 22 HR's and 77 RBI. He will eventually finish 2nd in A.L. Rookie of the Year voting.

Toronto Blue Jays defeat the New York Mets in the World Series, 4-games-to-2.

Ravens start the season 5-0 but finally drop their first game, 30-23, at Tampa Bay, on Sunday Night Football.

November

Cincinnati's 10-0 start to the '22 season ends when the Ravens beat the Bengals in Baltimore, 27-24 in OT.

Maryland football records the biggest win in two decades when they knock off #3 Ohio State in College Park, 35-30.

December

Orioles sign former Phillies starting pitcher Aaron Nola to 4-year deal worth $105 million

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faith in sports


It never hurts to go back to this one, because it remains, to this day, my favorite "Faith in Sports" video we have published here at #DMD. The part at the end where Tim Tebow starts reciting his stats from the playoff game and they're all "316" just blows me away every time I watch this video.

Tim Tebow is the real deal. Please enjoy a cup of coffee and watch this 6 minute presentation he makes. I promise it will be worth your time.


JERRY'S TOYOTA banner
Thursday
December 30, 2021
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2685


and the #1 sports moment of 2021 is...


You know how you see, hear or experience something in your life and it stops you in your tracks and you say, "This....is....perfect."??

That happened to me on Monday, December 6.

It was on that night, when I saw "the incident" on Twitter, that I knew my ship had indeed come in.

"That's it," I said to myself as I watched the YouTube clip. "There's no way another moment in sports in 2021 can top what I just saw."

And with that, we're here today to announce -- with great pride -- our 2021 #1 Sports Moment of the Year.

Prior to the Flyers-Avalanche game that night, the Philadelphia Police Department brought several of their top canines out on to the ice. The first few dogs strolled out, sniffed around, looked relatively unimpressed, and spent a minute or so gazing up at the empty seats in the Wells Fargo Center.

It was then that the greatest police dog in the history of police dogs snagged the spotlight. And, well, let's just allow video evidence to take over now and you can see what happened for yourself.




We don't know what the little guy's name is, but we know one thing for sure: He did what every self-respecting hockey fan wishes he or she could do on the Flyers logo at the Wells Fargo Center!

Can you imagine the conversation back at the police station later on when some of the dogs who stayed behind meet up with the dogs who made the trip to the Flyers-Avalanche game?

"Hey, how did it go down at the game tonight? Sniff out any bombs or weapons or anything?"

"No, it was pretty boring tonight. Well, except for before the game when Rocky pooped on the Flyers logo at center ice."

"Wait...what? Rocky did what?"

"He pooped at center ice. Right on the Flyers logo."

"Rocky gets all the fun. I can't stand it."

So there you have it.

Tom Brady's historic 7th Super Bowl victory was the #3 Sports Moment of 2021.

Phil Mickelson's improbable and incredible win at the PGA Championship last May -- at age 50 -- was the #2 Sports Moment of 2021.

And a Philadelphia police dog pooping squarely in the middle of the Flyers logo at center ice at the Wells Fargo Center is the #1 Sports Moment of 2021.



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thursday ramblings


I wish I could find out how we could all donate some money to the canine group at the Philadelphia Police Department. I'd totally take up a collection and send it up there for the pups to enjoy some toys and premium dog food. It's the least we can do, right?

That whole incident gives new meaning to the phrase, "You lucky dog."


Like most of you yesterday, I saw the clip of Lamar Jackson limping on the practice field at Owings Mills. I don't know what to make of it because, frankly, I'm not sure the clip was 100% legit.

Members of the media are allowed very limited access at Owings Mills and they're provided with a strict set of guidelines with regard to what they can report or publish on social media.

In case you didn't know, the media gathered at practice aren't allowed to report on or publish video of any specific formations, plays being practiced, and so on.

Why would the Ravens allow a reporter to video and then publish Lamar limping around the practice field on Wednesday? The Ravens didn't publish that video on their Twitter account. A reporter did. Something's not adding up.

I'm not saying the Ravens instructed Lamar to limp around like that while the media were permitted to gather and watch practice...but it's also not something that would shock me if we found out that's precisely what happened.

If the video was, in fact, "legit", it seems highly unlikely Lamar will be healthy enough to play this Sunday. And why would the Ravens broadcast that information -- or at the very least, "permit it" to be filmed and distributed -- to the likes of the Rams and their coaching staff four days in advance of the game?

The whole thing seems very "un-Raven-like". The Jaguars or Washington Football Team might do something goofy like that, but the Ravens? They're as secretive as any team in the league when it comes to injuries.

We'll know more today, of course. If Jackson is back on the practice field, then yesterday's effort must have gone well enough that Lamar and the training staff feel like he's making progress.

If Lamar isn't practicing today, we know he won't be around on Sunday.

Yesterday's video, though...I just don't know what to make of it. As secretive as Harbaugh always is about injuries, why on earth would he allow a media member to broadcast Lamar's "status" to the entire country and the rest of the NFL?

It doesn't add up.


Maryland football won the Pinstripe Bowl yesterday, beating a dilapidated Virginia Tech team, 54-10, in New York. The win gives the Terps a final 2021 record of 7-6.

Winning a bowl game is better than losing a bowl game. That's for sure. But the excitement over yesterday's win was a little much, I'd say. Maryland finished the regular season at 6-6, but they were blown out by Iowa, Ohio State and Michigan along the way. When the Terps played "real" teams in '21, they were thoroughly outclassed.

That's not a low blow...it's just a fact.

Yes, winning a bowl game -- especially against a bit of a regional recruiting foe like Virginia Tech -- is a good thing and there's no debating that the Terps appear to be making a smidgen of progress under Mike Locksley. The Terps have improved on the recruiting trail under Locksley and they're locked and loaded at the QB and WR positions in 2022. Things are better now than they were this time two years ago.

But a 6-6 football team that can't hang with the powers of the Big Ten isn't going to become a hot ticket in College Park. Heck, the basketball team has been an annual participant in the NCAA tournament and routinely wins roughly 24 games per-season and that wasn't even good enough down there.

Overly celebrating a .500 football team seems a bit odd. But it does appear that better days might be ahead. We'll know more next September.


I read yesterday's piece by The Stats Nerd with great interest and think he accurately covered the dilemma of signing a "franchise quarterback" to a significant multi-year deal while all the while minding the salary cap over that five or six year period.

Here are "facts" that I see as pretty much undeniable when it comes to Lamar Jackson and the quarterback market in the NFL.

Lamar is, by the standards set on contracts signed over the last couple of years, a $40 million per-year quarterback. That he'll get somewhere between $250MM and $300MM is all but a done deal. He'll either get it in Baltimore or elsewhere, but he's getting that kind of money.

The Ravens are under no obligation to fork over that $250MM or $300MM right now. They can exercise his $24MM option in '22 and, if they want, franchise him (at somewhere around $32MM or so, projected) in '23 and '24. Franchising him would likely not be a path the Ravens would take. They can create a far more cap-friendly deal with him than forking over $32MM for him in a single season.

After a dozen years of looking long and hard for a quality, long-term, home-grown quarterback, the Ravens hit on back-to-back draft picks in Flacco ('08) and Lamar ('18). Flacco was a good quarterback in Baltimore for the better part of a decade and Lamar's first four seasons have gone well, playoff hiccups not included.

The question facing the Ravens isn't whether or not Lamar is worth $250MM or $300MM. That's his "value", whether they agree with it or not. The question is this: Do they want to pay him that much money?

No one from the Ravens asked me, of course, but my answer to that question right now is simple: "I'm not sure."

I'm a Lamar fan. I think he's an extraordinarily talented athlete. I'm not sure he's an extraordinarily talented quarterback, though, and I'm not trying to re-start the "maybe he should try being a wide receiver" debate, either.

If the Ravens "only" had to pay Lamar $20MM or $25MM a year, I would probably be a lot more flexible with my opinion of his value as a 5-year or 6-year investment.

But they're going to have give him $40MM or more a year for 5 or 6 years. All told, they'll be forced to give him upwards of $300MM.

And I'm just not sure I'd do that. Yes, I realize quarterbacks don't go on trees. Yes, I realize the Ravens have are lucky to have Jackson at this point. Just look at the situation with the Jets, Panthers, Giants, Texans -- to name four -- and you see first-hand what not having a real quarterback does to your team.

Why would the Ravens intentionally walk away from a scenario where they have one of the league's top quarterbacks? There's only one reason: money.

As The Stat's Nerd's graph showed yesterday, paying top dollar for the quarterback-du-jour doesn't guarantee you anything, really. You certainly have a better chance of succeeding if you have a Brady, Mahomes, Allen, Jackson, Rodgers, etc., but you should also remember that in recent years guys like Jimmy Garoppolo, Nick Foles and Blake Bortles played in the conference championship game. I seem to remember a guy named Joe Flacco making it to the AFC title game in his rookie campaign.

If I'm the Ravens, I exercise Lamar's '22 option, table the long-term talk for now, and see what next season brings us. They can explain it to him quite easily.

"2021 was kind of a dead season for you. Our roster was depleted with injuries by the time we broke training camp, you got Covid, your play was spotty once we reached mid-October or so and, in general, it was just "one of those years" where things didn't go well. Let's do a factory re-set and see what 2022 brings us and revisit the long term deal after the '22 season."

"And by the way, we'll give you $24 million next year for the privilege of delaying the long term contract discussion."

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Wednesday
December 29, 2021
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#2684


please don't expose yourself


Remind me to put our headline writer on notice. We don't do "click-bait" here at #DMD.

Speaking of headlines, before we delve into today's variety of topics -- including a truly outstanding piece from The Stats Nerd -- let's take a trip down memory lane. There was an occasion in the late 1960's when the Orioles were playing the Chicago White Sox in some kind of pivotal series and a pitcher named Gary Peters, who was not only solid on the mound but awesome with a bat in his hands, was forced to miss the series with some sort of injury/ailment (I don't remember the specifics).

The News American ran this headline on the day of the series opener:

Orioles to face White Sox with Peters out

Ummm, yeah. That one probably should have been re-worked by one of the night editors, don'tcha think?

There's no truth to the rumor that the series opener featured more female fans in attendance than usual. At least I *think* that was a rumor.

Anyway, our headline above notwithstanding, I'm seeing some folks around town exposing themselves this week and it's not pretty.

Just yesterday, I saw and heard two "concepts" making the rounds on the internet and talk radio.

What would be better for Lamar's growth as quarterback...another playoff game or two or sitting at home watching the playoffs on TV?

1. The Ravens would be "better off" losing in the final two weeks of the regular season, not making the playoffs, and creating a better draft position for themselves in the process.

2. Ravens General Manager Eric DeCosta didn't do a good enough job formulating this year's roster and, thus, the team's "Super Bowl or bust" mentality wound up being an approach that cost the club from a depth standpoint.

Anyone that subscribes to either of those positions should stop by the store when we open at 10:00 am today and we'll fit you in a nice, comfortable pair of #clownshoes.

The Ravens would not be better off missing the playoffs this year. No, no and.......no.

Anyone saying, "All that's going to happen is we'll make it and get bounced out in the first round" is not thinking logically.

(A) You actually have NO idea at all what is going to happen in the playoffs because there's no one alive who has the script (OK, maybe this is a bad analogy given what we've seen from the refs this season) on how the season is going to play out.

And, (B) even if the Ravens do make it and get bounced in the first round, grinding it out and beating the Rams and Steelers and making it into the post-season is better in every way than is losing, not making it, and moving 5-6 spots up the draft order chart.

Every player on the team would benefit from playing in one, two or more playoff games. There's nothing that replaces experience. The more playoff games Lamar plays, the better he can be in the future. He's just one example.

If you think the Ravens organization would rather lose than win, you're nuts. They've worked six months on this project called "a season" and they're at the finish line now. They want to finish the project, not abandon it.

The team started 8-3. If they lose out and finish 8-9, that's a stigma they'll all have to deal with for the first 8 months of 2022. It's easy for you to say "just lose and get a better draft pick" but you're not the one that has it on your record that you were part of an organization that lost 6 straight games to end the season at 8-9 and miss the playoffs.

Not much shocks me any longer. I see, hear and read things every day that make me think "what on earth?" and I try and make sense out of it.

To that end, I see, on a daily basis, a lot of people on social media and in the media try and position themselves as smart about sports. I think a lot of those folks actually are smart about sports. And then they'll write or say "the Ravens would be better off losing their last two games, missing the playoffs, and getting a better first round draft choice next April" and I realize those people haven't a clue about sports.

The best thing for the Ravens, without question, is to win a game or two and make the playoffs. That's it. Period. Now, if they happen to not make it and they receive a better draft position as an unintended consequence of losing, so be it. But never, ever, ever is losing and not making the playoffs this season better than making the playoffs this season.

If you believe it's better for the Ravens to lose and not make the playoffs, please post your shoe size below and we'll ship your pair out later today.


A local sports-radio fill-in host stepped into hot water yesterday when he broached a subject that had Baltimore foaming at the mouth by late afternoon.

"Did Eric DeCosta's "Super Bowl or bust" roster mentality cost the Ravens from a depth standpoint or should we (the fans) just be willing to chalk up what's happened this season to injuries and Covid-19?"

A lot of people piled on throughout Tuesday. The person who brought up the subject and later posted a Twitter message about the subject is a station producer who was "brought up to the big leagues" this week because a number of the full-time hosts are out on vacation. So it is fair to cut the young man some slack. This actually is his first rodeo. Oh, and he's entitled to his opinion, as wrong as it might be.

Did Eric DeCosta's off-season roster tweaking help or hurt the Ravens in 2021?

The roster Eric DeCosta compiled in August was, by my estimation, the most talented 53-man group the Ravens have had since perhaps the 2011 season. (Thanks a lot, Billy Cundiff........I'm kidding. The Ravens still might have lost that game in overtime.)

What's the goal of the general manager of any sports in the off-season?

Answer: Compile the best roster possible given salary cap constraints and the like.

That's the goal. Period. DeCosta did that. End of story.

For anyone to suggest that he is somehow responsible for the team's current plight is laughable. It's beyond #clownshoes, frankly.

The roster the Ravens were set to play with on August 1 would have gone 14-3 or 15-2 this season. Maybe they lose one to the Bengals, maybe they lose to the Packers. Maybe they lose to either the Chiefs, Browns or Steelers. But the August 1st roster would have boatraced the league in 2021.

Now, we also know that no team goes injury or Covid-free these days. But the Ravens don't lose one or two key players. They lost 8 key players.

No, wait, they lost 10 key players along the way.

Peters, Dobbins, Edwards, Wolfe, Stanley, Boyle (ten weeks), Bateman (six weeks), Elliott (eight weeks), Humphrey (six weeks), Lamar (three weeks and counting).

I'm probably missing a few guys, too.

You get the picture.

22 players are basically full-time "starters" and the Ravens played all or a signficant part of the season with 10 of those 22 not playing some or any of the season.

And here's the best part: Even with a roster half-filled with 3rd stringers and practice squad candidates, the Ravens are still 8-7 and have a legit shot at making the playoffs.

Somehow, though, Eric DeCosta is getting criticized?

OK, sure, the Villanueva signing now looks like a bad one. Fair enough. But he was never signed to be the go-to-guy at left tackle. He was brought in to spruce up the right side along with Kevin Zeitler, who, you might know, has enjoyed a super first year in Baltimore.

Stanley's situation put Villanueva in a spot he wasn't really capable of handling. Take away any team's starting left offensive tackle and you're bound to see a drop-off in performance. If the back-up was better than the starter, he'd be playing in the first place.

Other than that, I don't see where DeCosta has done anything worthy of criticism. He compiled a Super Bowl roster and it got decimated with injuries and Covid-19 stuff.

The Bengals are at 9-6 and perched atop the AFC North and they've had one of those seasons where they've largely been unaffected by injuries and Covid-19. That's why they're 9-6. Even then, they still have to win a game to guarantee themselves a playoff berth. Their margin for error isn't all that different than what the Ravens face and the Ravens have been crushed with injuries and Covid-19.

Eric DeCosta is not above criticism. But even hinting at the idea that perhaps his roster-compilation-skills are connected to the Ravens' 8-7 record is laughable. We might have to offer a 2-for-1 special on #clownshoes, in fact.

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#dmd's top 3 sports moments of 2021


We started our year-ending "Top 3 List" yesterday with Tom Brady's historic 7th Super Bowl win last February as our #3 top sports moment of 2021.

You might recall we turned the whole thing over to the people a few days when we ran a Twitter poll asking our followers to choose #3 and #2.

Phil Mickelson's PGA Championship win is #DMD's #2 Sports Moment of 2021.

The people spoke loud and clear. Brady received 25% of the vote. The Braves winning the World Series and Shohei Ohtani's MVP season gathered 10% between the two.

Phil Mickelson's win at the PGA Championship last May received 65% of the vote and is the #2 sports moment of 2021.

Smart choice, Twitter friends.

Mickelson not only won a major championship at age 50, he stared down Brooks Koepka in the process and tamed a golf course (Kiawah's Ocean Course) that was about as ill-fitting for Phil as a championship venue could get.

Yet, it was Phil's ability to blast his driver 325 yards into the middle of the fairway that made the difference over those four magical days.

He even came to the last hole needing to hit a great drive and second shot to secure the victory and he did both of those almost perfectly. There was a time, of course, when Phil's ability to close (see Winged Foot, 2006) was a weakness, not a strength. And while one PGA Championship won't erase a bunch of near misses at the U.S. Open throughout his storied career, there's no doubt the win at Kiawah will go down as one of the most impressive and improbable triumphs in the history of golf.

Tiger winning at Augusta National in 2019 was impressive and improbable, but a bunch of guys around him gagged it on the back nine on Sunday. They didn't "hand deliver" the Masters to Tiger, but they left it in the pick-up area for Door Dash to collect.

Phil's win at Kiawah was earned. It was, given his age and his shoddy play leading up to the PGA, the most surprising and impressive victory since Nicklaus won the Masters in 1986. And it's fair to remember that Ballesteros, Kite and Norman all helped Nicklaus out that year by failing to close themselves.

No one gave Phil anything last May at Kiawah. He beat every player, fair and square.

Check in tomorrow for our #1 sports moment of the year. I'm sure you already know what it is. There's absolutely no denying it.

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The Stats Nerd
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Contributed by #DMD's data and numbers analyst
The Stats Nerd


the qb question


As the Ravens limp into the final two weeks of the season, the biggest offseason question facing the front office will be the long term status of Lamar Jackson. Will he be granted a long term deal or not? I think the answer to that question is almost certainly yes. What the specifics of that deal look like are, of course, up for debate.

Let’s get a few things out of the way up front. The Ravens have already picked up Lamar’s 5th year option and will cost the team $23 million for the 2022-2023 season. After that a long term deal must be worked out or Lamar becomes a free agent (the Ravens could still theoretically use the franchise tag on him).

Long term means exactly that: LONG term. It has been suggested in the comments that the team offer Lamar a 2 or 3 year deal as a sort of trial run. This is to put it nicely…idiotic. He’s not signing a deal that short. It may be what some fans think makes sense but there is virtually no chance Lamar or his advisors would even entertain those short term contracts.

For reference, Josh Allen’s long term deal was for 6 years (beyond the initial 5 year rookie contract) at an average annual rate of ~$43MM. This is 2nd only to Patrick Mahomes' giant deal which pays him an average annual rate of about $45MM over 10 years. So while some fans may not like the length or the amount that Lamar is likely to yield, the market is what the market is.

If the Ravens don’t sign him to a large deal there are likely 25-ish teams that would line up with their checkbooks open. Do we honestly believe the Browns or Steelers or Saints or (fill in 22 other teams) wouldn’t be thrilled just to be in the room with Lamar and negotiate with him? If you don’t think so, I don’t think you are being honest.

My guess, with no knowledge other than that of a fan, is that Lamar’s contract will be somewhere in the neighborhood of what Allen is getting or the next QB on the list, Dak Prescott ($40MM). Lamar has done at least as much as both of those QBs in spite of his poor play over the last half of the current season.

But I’m not here to debate the merits of Lamar’s resume or what I think he is worth. Frankly, I don’t particularly care. This is the market the team and #8 are playing in and they have to make a deal in that market environment.

The question I want to address is how signing him impacts the team’s ability to sign other players and remain competitive. It’s a frequent mantra that you have to hit while the QB is on a rookie contract because once he is locked up long term the team becomes hamstrung in its ability to surround him with quality players and depth. But is that theory actually proven out in on field results?

First the obvious. QBs are the highest paid players in the NFL by a wide margin. This season the top 12 salaries in the league are paid to QBs. This makes sense because from a positional value standpoint QBS are so much more important than any other position. PFF has a WAR (wins above replacement) value that shows QBs are far more important than even the 2nd most important WAR position: cornerback.

But that doesn’t answer the question of whether their outsized contracts limit the team's ability to attract other high priced talent or build appropriate depth. I guess the best way to look at it is to look at teams over the last few years with high cap-hit QBs and see how they fared. Note: the actual amount paid to a player in a given year is less important than the cap number the contract represents. Let’s look at the results of the teams with the top 5 cap hit QBs over the last 3 years:


TOP FIVE CAP HITS
2019 TEAM CAP HIT RESULT
Matt Stafford Detroit 30.7 MM 3-12-1
Aaron Rodgers Green Bay 29.35 MM 13-3
Kirk Cousins Minnesota 29 MM 10-6
Russell Wilson Seattle 26.3 MM 11-5
Ben Rothlisberger Pittsburgh 26.2 MM 8-8
2020 TEAM CAP HIT RESULT
Dak Prescott Dallas 31.4 MM 6-10
Russell Wilson Seattle 31 MM 12-4
Jared Goff LA Rams 28.85 10-6
Jimmy Garoppolo San Francisco 26.6 MM 6-10
Philip Rivers Indianapolis 25 MM 11-5
2021 TEAM CAP HIT RESULT
Russell Wilson Seattle 32 MM 5-10
Kirk Cousins Minnesota 31 MM 7-8
Aaron Rodgers Green Bay 27.58 MM 12-3
Matt Ryan Atlanta 26.9 MM 7-8
Jimmy Garoppolo San Francisco 26.4 MM 8-7

So on average the top 5 QB cap hit teams have won slightly more than 8.5 games per season. That is not a ringing endorsement in favor of large contracts. Because of the way the contracts are structured, Mahomes and Allen’s contracts won’t show up in these tables until 2023 and 2024 respectively.

None of these QBs reached the Super Bowl in the years referenced. The last time a QB with a top 5 cap hit did make the Super Bowl was Matt Ryan after the 2016 season. In fact, over the last 10 years it hasn’t happened nearly as much as I would have thought. Part of this is because Tom Brady has often been “underpaid” relative to his production on the field but has been a frequent Super Bowl participant, of course.

It is worth noting that both Green Bay and Seattle are consistent winners despite high cap numbers for their QBs (this season's Seattle team notwithstanding). Of course, both of those teams have future Hall of Famers leading them. The same cannot be said for the other teams shown.

The rest of those teams have not exactly been juggernauts over this three year sample. So this history certainly looks like high cap hits aren’t helpful in terms of roster construction. But perhaps Super Bowl appearances isn’t the best metric for defining success of a team. Only one team can win a Super Bowl each year obviously. In the single elimination tournament that is the NFL playoffs, there is bound to be a lot of variance in results.

Perhaps a better metric is to look at conference championship games. Each year there are 4 teams that play in the conference championships so it gives us a larger sample to look at. Still not definitive necessarily but a larger pool to make some determinations.

Over the last 20 teams to play in their conference championship game (4 per year for 5 years) a grand total of 3 were quarterbacked by a player with a top 5 cap hit. I’ll be honest, this was really surprising to me.

Incredibly if we expand the search to include top 10 cap hits over that same 5 year period the number increases to a total of 6 teams! By definition that means that 14 teams that made the conference championship over the last 10 years were led by a QB whose cap hit was number 11 or LOWER in the league. Remarkable really.

There are two things that jump out to me in looking at these results: 1) In 4 of the 5 years a team led by Tom Brady played in a championship game. In only one of those appearances was #12 a top 10 cap hit in the league. 2) The Mahomes led Chiefs have played in 3 straight championship games and because he was still on a rookie contract his cap hit was way down the list in terms of size.

Conclusion –

So what does all of this mean? There is a saying that correlation does not equal causation. This of course means that there is not a direct cause and effect relationship between correlated outcomes. Any number of items could cause a team to underperform with a high cap hit quarterback: injuries, poor coaching, poor drafting, etc.

It’s also easy to point at some of the high cap hit QBs and just say something to the effect that “well he’s not very good”. Bad contracts happen in every sport. Having a bad contract for a position as important as QB is disastrous.

In this case, the high cap hits of some quarterbacks over the last 5 years seems to not be correlated with deep playoff runs. This does not inherently mean that a high cap hit is the cause of that lack of playoff success. Also, in spite of the fact that we expanded the search to include conference championship participants this is still a fairly small and perhaps insignificant sample size.

But all of the ways we look at it should give teams pause. The recipe does seem to be signing a great veteran who is willing to take a “hometown discount” (Brady) or finding the next generational talent (Mahomes) and locking them up.

Will Mahomes' contract stifle the Chiefs in the coming years? Only time will tell. They have Travis Kelce locked up through 2025 but Tyreek Hill only has one year remaining and several other key players (including Orlando Brown Jr) have short windows where they are signed.

To me signing Lamar or any superstar QB to a mega deal means a few things have to happen to remain competitive.

* The Ravens have to draft extremely well to replace older vets with young players that can contribute very early on cheaper contracts.

*They have to identify a handful (maybe 4-6) of other players that are going to continue playing at a high level over a medium to long term deal (they have already done this with Andrews, Humphrey and Bowser)

* They have to be willing to part ways sooner rather than later with high profile contributors (how do they handle Bozeman (after this season) and Hollywood (after next offseason)?)

*The Ravens have to consistently hit on veteran signings (see Zeitler NOT Villanueva)

* Stay away from big swings and misses that create dead cap money later down the line (ie Earl Thomas)

* Hope to be on the right side of injury luck and variance (AVOID 2021!!)

So I don’t think a high profile, big ticket QB signing is automatically the death knell for an organization. There is still plenty of money to sign other impact players. All the teams with big cap hit QBs have superstars at other positions commanding large salaries.

The issue seems to be depth. As Ravens fans have seen this year injuries and unforeseen issues (COVID) take a drastic toll on a team. I think this season is an anomaly. There simply is no way to go into a game with 1 of your preseason top 8 CB (who then got hurt in the game), none of your preseason QBs and none of your preseason RBs and expect a positive outcome. At some point it becomes too much and it’s barely a NFL roster.

But if we assume that this season was somewhat of a Black Swan event for the Ravens it will be their depth that is tested after a large Lamar contract is inked, even in a more normal year injury wise.

Based on the tests I laid out above the Ravens have a pretty solid history. They generally draft well, they have not been shy about letting players walk and haven’t been frivolous with large free agent signings.

But only time will tell. If Eric DeCosta manages this well and Lamar is who we’ve seen him be, the Ravens should be a consistent team for the foreseeable future. If not, it could be dark days for the hometown franchise.

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how the last two weeks shape up


Here's what the AFC playoff picture looks like, where only the Chiefs have actually clinched a post-season spot thus far.


Buffalo Bills (9-6) -- vs. Atlanta, vs. NY Jets

New England Patriots (9-6) -- vs. Jacksonville, at Miami

Miami Dolphins (8-7) -- at Tennessee, vs. New England


Tennessee Titans (10-5) -- vs. Miami, at Houston

Indianapolis Colts (9-6) -- vs. Las Vegas, at Jacksonville


Las Vegas Raiders (8-7) -- at Indianapolis, vs. Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Chargers (8-7) -- vs. Denver, at Las Vegas


Cincinnati Bengals (9-6) -- vs. Kansas City, at Cleveland

Baltimore Ravens (8-7) -- vs. Los Angeles Rams, vs. Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7-1) -- vs. Cleveland, at Baltimore

Cleveland Browns (7-8) -- at Pittsburgh, vs. Cincinnati


Wild stuff, huh?

Imagine if this happened in the AFC North.

Cincinnati loses their last two to finish 9-8 (could easily happen).

Baltimore beats the Rams, loses to the Steelers to finish 9-8 (could happen).

Cleveland loses in Pittsburgh, beats Cincinnati to finish 8-9 (could happen).

Pittsburgh beats Cleveland and Baltimore to finish 9-7-1 (could happen).

The Steelers, despite being pretty lousy all season, could still win the division title and host a home playoff game in that scenario presented above.


The Ravens are in trouble if any tiebreakers are used in the AFC North based on their 1-4 division record (currently). The Steelers and Browns are both 2-2 in the division, but someone will likely have at least three division wins since they play one another this coming Sunday in Pittsburgh.


The Ravens also need to avoid any kind of 3-team or 4-team tiebreaker in the AFC that includes the Dolphins and Raiders but doesn't include the Chargers.


What the Ravens are hoping for at season's end is a tie with both Las Vegas and the Chargers only (assuming the Chargers beat Las Vegas in the final game to earn that tie with the Raiders). In the scenario where the Raiders, Chargers and Raiders finish tied and the Chargers beat the Raiders, that means the tiebreaker between the three teams would come down to Los Angeles vs. Baltimore because the Chargers-Raiders tie would first be broken by head-to-head in the regular season, which L.A. won, 2-0. And the Ravens, by virtue of their win over L.A. earlier this season, would win that tiebreaker with the Chargers. Make sense? You can look it up if you don't believe me. It's true.


12/28 update: By the way, this could happen: The Bills, Patriots, Chargers, Ravens, Colts and Bengals all finish 10-7. That would require Buffalo (home vs. NY Jets), Tennessee (at Houston) and Indianapolis (at Jacksonville) losing games on the last weekend they probably won't lose, but it could happen, of course. And in that scenario above, where all of those teams finish 10-7, the Ravens would be the 7th seed and play at Tennessee in the first round of the playoffs.

Oh, and there's also a way that the Ravens could play in Cincinnati on the first weekend of the playoffs if both teams finish 10-7. Wouldn't that be charming?

There's a very realistic chance (if Bengals lose both of their last two games and Ravens win their last two and Miami finishes 9-8) that the Ravens could host the Colts in the first round of the playoffs. The Colts...back in Baltimore...would be a doozy.

12/29 update: There's a really weird way the Ravens can win their last two games, finish 10-7, and not make the playoffs. If New England, Las Vegas, Indianapolis and the Ravens all end the year at 10-7, Baltimore is out. This assumes Buffalo and Tennessee both win their respective divisions.

Also weird: The Dolphins, Chargers and Ravens could all go 1-1 in their last two, finish 9-8, and the Chargers would advance to the playoffs and the Ravens and Dolphins would be out. This scenario assumes these four teams all make it, though: Tennessee, Indianapolis, New England and Buffalo.

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Tuesday
December 28, 2021
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#2683


grumblings


We probably shouldn't do much grumbling during the week between Christmas and New Year's Day, but we see too much of it going on to ignore it here at #DMD.

A pretty serious media story has built up over the last couple of days involving ProFootballTalk.com, who produced a story in the aftermath of Sunday's Ravens/Bengals game that indicated there was tension at the post-game handshake between John Harbaugh and Zac Taylor.

PFT went as far as to produce a video that they say confirms their position, where Harbaugh and Taylor meet, the Ravens' coach says something, Taylor responds with brief commentary and a gesture, and the two part ways after, maybe 2.5 seconds of interaction.

ProFootballTalk.com continues to contend that John Harbaugh was miffed with the Bengals and Zac Taylor on Sunday in Cincinnati.

Pro Football Talk, owned by NBC Sunday Night "contributor" Mike Florio, doubled down yesterday in the wake of a Twitter fight with thousands of people -- a lot of them from Baltimore, actually -- who called their story false and accused the website of creating a story where there was none.

They produced yet another piece of social media content addressing the situation again and claiming -- again -- that there was tentions between the two coaches.

Harbaugh and Taylor both said yesterday at their respective press conferences there was nothing said at midfield about "running up the score" or the Bengals "still trying hard despite being up by 20 points." Harbaugh, in fact, seemed preturbed by the story.

“I don’t really know where that’s coming from, and I really...I don’t necessarily appreciate having to address ‘there’s a feeling out there’ kind of questions. I think it’s kind of absurd. I don’t know where it comes from. But Zac and I had a good conversation just like we always do. We always have good conversations. There’s mutual respect there. Everything’s fine.”

That's what Harbaugh said.

When asked by members of the Bengals media if the Ravens' coach admonished him during the post-game handshake, Taylor responded by saying, "No."

PFT won't leave it alone, though. Why that is, I have no idea.

I contend it's very possible that Harbaugh did say something to Taylor at the handshake but that it's a bit of an unwritten rule in the NFL coaching world to not bring that up afterwards. "What's said at midfield stays at midfield." That sort of thing.

But once Harbaugh and Taylor are asked about it and they both deny it happened, Pro Football Talk is best served to back off the story and move on. They don't necessarily have to issue a retraction, since it was mostly their "opinion" that something happened between the two coaches after the game, but they should probably issue a staff memo and tell their folks to let the story die a quick (hopefully) death.

If you want my honest opinion -- I think Harbaugh probably was pissed at Taylor and Burrow and the Bengals for picking on that group of players the Ravens employed on Sunday. If anything, that's what irritated Harbs the most. The Cowboys piled on Washington on Sunday night but both teams had (mostly) legitimate players on the field throughout the game. The Ravens used a defensive secondary on Sunday that probably would have allowed the University of Cincinnati to throw for 300 yards, let alone Burrow and his weapons.

So it wouldn't shock me at all to find out that Harbaugh said to Taylor, "It was kind of bush league for you guys to keep throwing on us at the end there when you know what kind of roster situation we were dealing with..."

But that doesn't mean the two coaches hate one another and it doesn't necessarily mean anything will linger into next season, either. Harbaugh knows the truth: The final score of the games really don't matter at all. A win by 13-12 has the same value as a win by 34-10. And a 10-9 loss counts the same as a 41-21 loss.

Do I think Harbaugh was agitated at the final throw by Burrow that put him over the 500 yard mark? Probably. Just like Vic Fangio was irritated that Harbaugh directed Lamar Jackson to run for 5 yards on the final play of the game in Denver when the Broncos assumed the Ravens were taking a knee. But in the heat of the moment, coaches get irritated at stuff they probably shouldn't get irritated about and then, later, they realize it was a nothing-burger.

And I'm not trying to be PFT here, because anyone that has read this website over the years knows what I think about coaches and teams piling on at the professional level. I think it's a non-starter. You play the entire 60 minutes and you try as hard as you can until you're otherwise directed or decide not to try hard any longer. The Bengals stopped trying with one minute left in the game on Sunday or they could have made it 48-21 with no problem.

I do think there's a certain degree of sportsmanship at the amateur and youth level that coaches are responsible for following. But at the college and professional level, you play the entire game (in whatever sport) and let the chips fall where they may.

And if you get beat 41-21 and you're upset about it, you could always try this concept next time around: Do better.


I noticed an old friend grumbling in the comments section about the subject of NFL teams "packing it in" as the season winds down and some clubs will have nothing at all to play for in the final two weeks of the season.

While I don't think there's ever any concrete evidence of an entire team "packing it in" (that would be VERY obvious, I'd assume), there's zero doubt that certain players will pack it in with a week or two left in the season. It's called "a business decision".

This might not take place in the AFC this weekend, where 13 teams still have a legitimate shot at making the playoffs (only Houston, Jacksonville and the NY Jets are officially out), but in the NFC, there will be a number of players on non-contending teams who say to themselves "the one thing I don't want to happen is to get injured in one of these last two meaningless games".

The tackling won't be as sharp. The blocking won't be as precise. The route running won't be textbook. There will be players who go at about 75% efficiency because that's what the situation dictates.

Getting injured -- especially if you're under contract -- means the club can ask you to stay in town and rehab over the off-season instead of you heading off to Florida or California or whatever other sunny destination you choose. Getting injured also means you might not be ready for next season.

If you're a pending free agent or restricted free agent, getting injured at the end of the season is the worst thing that can happen to you. You're about to peddle yourself to the highest bidder and then, suddenly, the quality of your play is in question because you're hurt.

So the idea of all 53 players packing it in for a game is silly. But if you have 3 or 4 players on offense or 3 or 4 players on defense who aren't fully vested in the game, that can certainly impact the outcome. And if you don't think that happens, you're just being naive for the sake of being naive.

No one wants to get hurt on the last weekend of the season.


I'd love to grumble about New Orleans being forced to use some guy named Ian Book at quarterback last night, but I know that's kind of silly given that every team in the league has been punched in the gut by Covid-19 over the last few weeks.

There's no guarantee the Saints would have won last night with either Taysom Hill or Trevor Siemien under center, but they surely weren't going to win with Book at the helm. Miami won the game, 20-3, and they were pretty much lousy themselves all night. They just happened to be playing a team more lousy.

I still don't think the Dolphins (8-7) are a legit threat to the Ravens, playoff wise, but if they go to Nashville and win this Sunday, they'll be in the driver's seat with one game remaining. Alas, I don't see that happening. Tennessee (10-5) has too much to play for themselves, still, and the Titans are better on both sides of the ball than the Dolphins, who last night became the first team in NFL history to have a 7-game winning streak and 7-game losing streak in the same season. Weird stuff.

The Covid-19 thing took a strange turn in Baltimore yesterday when Tony Jefferson (vaccinated and asymptomatic) tested positive for the virus. He's now on the team's Covid-19 Reserve List.

While it's still possible he'll be able to play on Sunday (with two negative tests later in the week), it's also possible he'll again test positive on Friday or Saturday and be forced to miss the game.

This is still something I don't "get" in the NFL. You forced the players to get vaccinated, essentially, by creating a different set of rules for those who are and those who aren't vaccinated, but you're still forcing players to miss games that could greatly impact an entire season of hard work put in by their organization.

We won't even touch on the Omicron variant and how it's far less dangerous than the others before it, but that is the truth. It's still the coronavirus and it's still worthy of taking every precaution possible, but those vaccinated individuals getting this version of Covid-19 aren't "feeling it" as much as they would have this time last year without the vaccine.

Just yesterday, in fact, the CDC issued a statement recommending people who test positive for Covid-19 now should isolate only 5 days instead of 10 days. I'm not sure how much faith we all have in the CDC any longer, but they're the supposed experts and they're now saying 5 days instead of 10 days.

Tony Jefferson is a journeyman player. I get that. But he's still important to the Ravens in the wake of injuries and Covid-19 absences and it seems like it's backwards thinking to not allow him to play this Sunday if he did everything the league asked of him and still somehow tested positive.

So, yes, I'm basically saying the league should be treating these Covid-19 cases like the flu at this point. John Harbaugh might not want Tony Jefferson in the building huffing and puffing around his players this week, but he definitely wants him to be able to play this Sunday against the Rams. And if Jefferson had the flu, the Ravens would likely keep him out of the building (or at least wouldn't want him to practice), but he'd suit up on Sunday for sure.

Vaccinated players missing games is silly. I know I'm grumbling like a bitter Saints fan at this point, but those two QB's missing the game last night (assuming they both received the vaccine) is just poor thinking by the league, plain and simple.

And in Baltimore, if Lamar Jackson isn't healthy by this Sunday, Tyler Huntley's Covid-19 situation becomes vitally important to the Ravens. Will he be able to "test out" of the protocol or will Huntley miss a second straight game? Josh Johnson was OK on Sunday in Cincy, but I think we all know the Ravens have a better chance of winning with Huntley at the helm vs. the Rams.

If Huntley can't play on Sunday, I won't be the only one in Baltimore grumbling about the Covid-19 rules in place.

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#dmd's top 3 sports moments of 2021


Here we are, at the end of another year.

And that means, as always, a brief period of reflection on what we saw in the world of sports over the last 12 months.

We saw the Atlanta Braves lose their best player in mid-season, make a couple of significant moves at the trade deadline, and somehow turn a .500 season in August into a World Series title in October. If you're a baseball enthusiast, the Braves "story" in 2021 was pretty cool.

We saw "someone" win the NCAA basketball tournament last spring. Here's where I'll admit that I don't remember who won. Was it Gonzaga? Or UCLA maybe? I know it wasn't Duke. That's a good thing.

I do what we all do when we don't know. I go to Google.

Baylor? They won? OK, then. Who knew?

Tom Brady and the Bucs beating Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs is #DMD's #3 Sports Moment of 2021.

We saw the Tampa Bay Lightning win the Stanley Cup last June over the Montreal Canadiens. I watched all of the hockey playoffs, you probably didn't. That doesn't make you a bad person.

Hideki Matsuyama fulfilled several years of promise by finally breaking through and winning a major championship in golf, as he captured the Masters last April. It wasn't Tiger or Phil or Rory, but it was still a pretty cool story. He became the first Japanese player to ever win a major title.

Today, Wednesday and Thursday, we'll give you our Top 3 sports stories of 2021. We took to Twitter for some help on this, by the way. In fact, the #2 and #3 stories were voted on by our followers and social media enthusiasts.

#3 -- Tom Brady wins his 7th Super Bowl

Come on, you really thought we could compile a list of "great stories from 2021" and not include Brady going to Tampa Bay and winning a Super Bowl there?

If you're a sports fan, you have to be impressed with what TB12 did with the Buccaneers. He -- along with Bruce Arians and his offensive mind -- took Tampa Bay on the road in the playoffs (as a wild card team) and won in Washington, in New Orleans and in Green Bay to become the first team EVER to play the Super Bowl in their own stadium.

Oh, and let's not forget who "Tommy" stared down last February in that Super Bowl win: Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. Brady threw three touchdowns in the 31-9 win that denied Kansas City their second consecutive title.

Brady has long been either loved or hated by the American sports fan. There's not much "in between" with him. But as he now continues to play at a high level at age 44, more and more folks are moving over to the dark side and giving the five-time Super Bowl MVP the credit he deserves.

It seems like a done deal that he'll be back for another season in 2022, which will make him a starting quarterback in the NFL at age 45. That in and of itself is borderline miraculous. Throw in that he's still among the best QB's in the league in his mid 40's and it's even more amazing.

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how the last two weeks shape up


Here's what the AFC playoff picture looks like, where only the Chiefs have actually clinched a post-season spot thus far.


Buffalo Bills (9-6) -- vs. Atlanta, vs. NY Jets

New England Patriots (9-6) -- vs. Jacksonville, at Miami

Miami Dolphins (8-7) -- at Tennessee, vs. New England


Tennessee Titans (10-5) -- vs. Miami, at Houston

Indianapolis Colts (9-6) -- vs. Las Vegas, at Jacksonville


Las Vegas Raiders (8-7) -- at Indianapolis, vs. Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Chargers (8-7) -- vs. Denver, at Las Vegas


Cincinnati Bengals (9-6) -- vs. Kansas City, at Cleveland

Baltimore Ravens (8-7) -- vs. Los Angeles Rams, vs. Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7-1) -- vs. Cleveland, at Baltimore

Cleveland Browns (7-8) -- at Pittsburgh, vs. Cincinnati


Wild stuff, huh?

Imagine if this happened in the AFC North.

Cincinnati loses their last two to finish 9-8 (could easily happen).

Baltimore beats the Rams, loses to the Steelers to finish 9-8 (could happen).

Cleveland loses in Pittsburgh, beats Cincinnati to finish 8-9 (could happen).

Pittsburgh beats Cleveland and Baltimore to finish 9-7-1 (could happen).

The Steelers, despite being pretty lousy all season, could still win the division title and host a home playoff game in that scenario presented above.


The Ravens are in trouble if any tiebreakers are used in the AFC North based on their 1-4 division record (currently). The Steelers and Browns are both 2-2 in the division, but someone will likely have at least three division wins since they play one another this coming Sunday in Pittsburgh.


The Ravens also need to avoid any kind of 3-team or 4-team tiebreaker in the AFC that includes the Dolphins and Raiders but doesn't include the Chargers.


What the Ravens are hoping for at season's end is a tie with both Las Vegas and the Chargers only (assuming the Chargers beat Las Vegas in the final game to earn that tie with the Raiders). In the scenario where the Raiders, Chargers and Raiders finish tied and the Chargers beat the Raiders, that means the tiebreaker between the three teams would come down to Los Angeles vs. Baltimore because the Chargers-Raiders tie would first be broken by head-to-head in the regular season, which L.A. won, 2-0. And the Ravens, by virtue of their win over L.A. earlier this season, would win that tiebreaker with the Chargers. Make sense? You can look it up if you don't believe me. It's true.


12/28 update: By the way, this could happen: The Bills, Patriots, Chargers, Ravens, Colts and Bengals all finish 10-7. That would require Buffalo (home vs. NY Jets), Tennessee (at Houston) and Indianapolis (at Jacksonville) losing games on the last weekend they probably won't lose, but it could happen, of course. And in that scenario above, where all of those teams finish 10-7, the Ravens would be the 7th seed and play at Tennessee in the first round of the playoffs.

Oh, and there's also a way that the Ravens could play in Cincinnati on the first weekend of the playoffs if both teams finish 10-7. Wouldn't that be charming?

There's a very realistic chance (if Bengals lose both of their last two games and Ravens win their last two and Miami finishes 9-8) that the Ravens could host the Colts in the first round of the playoffs. The Colts...back in Baltimore...would be a doozy.

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#dmd comments








Jeff “Fireball” Roberts     January 19
It was just a matter of time before the Dallas coach pulled a mccarthy. Ya’ think Manning will be invited back to College Park next season ? Yeah, me either. I hope the CBA gets settled in the next 2-3 weeks. I am looking forward to Orioles season.

Travis     January 19
Drew



On your constant bashing of the Flyers (most subjects that pertain nothing to ice hockey), did the hatred start when some Flyers Fan poured a beer on you at The Spectrum for wearing a Caps Jersey?

KC     January 19
@Drew saying what the FM radio guys won't say today because they're tied into UM basketball. Today reminds me of the way @Drew was on the radio when he was the only guy in town willing to hammer the Orioles for their losing ways. Old school Dish today!!!

Stats Nerd     January 19
@Kenny-yeah the whole thing makes little sense. I thought if managed properly they could have run at least 2 and maybe 3 more plays with 14 seconds. If they felt more comfortable from, say the 25, run a 1215 yard out route and get out of bounds. Wild man

@Chris-yeah I've heard people ask about Duv. Think Deebo is thicker but Duv has wheels. I'm not sure it would work either but some of those things had to have worked better than some of the crap they were running. Getting Duv 6-8 touches a game certainly makes sense to me.

I am EXTREMELY bullish on Bateman. He won't be Deebo but I think he could be an absolute monster next year. He tics all the boxes: strong physical, runs clean routes, incredibly good hands. If GRo or whoever doesn't get the ball to him in space next season it will be a huge error to me. Reminds in a lot of ways of Anquan.

lou@palo alto     January 19
a UK study has shown a post covid brain fog that can last up to 9 mo--on a variety of cognitive tests there was a decreased attention span, memory and overall game performance--??Lamar he certainly looked slow and confused in his last few games--fyi

Bill     January 19
I consider myself a Maryland basketball fan. I completely agree that they looked disinterested last night. I am feeling a little disinterested too. I don't know why but the Terps have lost me this season. Very little energy on or off the court. Players (and maybe coaches) look like they are just going through the motions. I worry what the recruits must be thinking. Maryland better get this ship turned around quickly or fans could be in for a few years of bad basketball.

David Rosenfeld     January 19
I feel bad for those guys--as basketball players. Their coach--he quit on them. I don't care as a fan if you're glad he's gone, you have to admit that's what he did. And I'm sure they feel like they're kind of on their own right now. I mean...heck...even some awful MD teams had a great home court advantage, and they don't even have that anymore.

And now...what's happening is that they realize that they aren't good, and that the mechanism isn't in place for them to get better. And I'm not sure how they are going to respond to that.

I think this is Square 1. Reese will probably leave, despite his sister. The good news? You can get good quickly with the right coach.

Tom J     January 19
Maryland basketball is now resembling what Maryland football has been over the years. And it's starting to look like no one cares about the basketball now either judging by all of the empty seats there. Turgeon is laughing all the way to the bank......

Chris in Bel Air     January 19
Was watching the Caps and then remembered Terps were playing too. Flipped to that game, saw they were down by 17 and flipped back to Caps. Glad that's all I saw because if two writers are roasting due to lack of effort, it's not good.

@StatsNerd - Enjoyed today's article and agree on Deebo. He is unique player and I'm sure all fans wish their team had a multi-tool player like that. On that note, I don't expect Duvernay to be the same exact talent as Deebo but I do feel like the Ravens underutilize him. He might get one jet sweep or a poorly executed/timed screen but that's about it.

Agree w/ @DelRay - thankfully Ravens hired Harbs and not Garrett.

Kenny G     January 19
Stats Nerd - the one way I thought of the Dallas draw play was could Dak run far enough in say 10 seconds (need time to spot and spike) to make the next play(s) have a higher probability of success. The difference of a 41 yard vs 27 yard TD potential play cant be much but having two chances from 41 was probably the better option - TD or pass interference. Add in the factors that Dak did not give the ball to the ref and the line effectively blocked the ref from spotting the ball - what were they thinking? Sorry you answered that.




MFC     January 19
Who knows what goes through the heads of these players. I can't call them them kids because many are over 21 and with "re-classing", transferring in high school now the transfer portal in college many may well be 23 and 24. I do know when I watch games I don't see many "college looking kids" on the floor. I see men with incredible strength. Maybe, even though they probably have no idea what the old ACC was about are hearing about going to warm Miami or Florida State and now have to play in the dreary, cold midwest to face Michigan, Northwestern, Iowa etc. Who knows, but you're right, they didn't show up that's for sure.



Faithful, picking games is a guess. Yes computers, reading about past performances, metrics and "that stuff" can make it an educated guess but so many things can and do happen in a game that it comes down to you're either right or wrong. Remember, you're getting free thoughts here. You're introspection may be 100% correct and then..... Much easier to just pick a winner, now add in a spread and the job gets tougher. If not for the 1/2 point the faithful coffers would be a few thousand richer.

Dale, no need to read any comments dissing you, you made an educated guess, it didn't turn out. The world didn't end and unfortunately Omicron is still with us. You do write great re-caps.


Delray RICK     January 19
That's why the "COWGIRLS " have been nothing but a 500 team for years. Think if we didn't hire JOHN.

Mike     January 19
Drew and Dale both going in with both barrels on Maryland today. Wowza!

Ray Ray     January 19
#MJ Dale had the courage to make his "prediction" BEFORE the game was over.

MJ     January 18
Dale gonna get crushed in 4......3.......2.......1

Steve of Pimlico     January 18
I don't bet football,but what makes Drews picks any better than anyone else's. I would bet his golf picks as he has a degree of expertise there.

David Rosenfeld     January 18
7 teams in each conference making the playoffs aside, it was still kind of amazing to see the kinds of blowouts we saw.

Did I think the Eagles and Patriots were good teams? No. Was there reason to believe they'd be blitzed like that IMMEDIATELY? No way. And surely the Steelers weren't any good, but they just as surely found ways to stay in games all year.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals are a good team, but I can't imagine they could play worse, including maybe the worst play I've seen a QB make in his end zone. And for all intents and purposes, the Cowboys SHOULD have been blown out.

Howard     January 18
Unless the NY COVID rules change between now and the playoffs, the Nets would be better off finishing 8th in the conference. That way Kyrie will be available for any game 7 (unless they play the Knicks or Raptors)

Pauly Dee     January 18
The Emperor Has No Clothes.



We've been fed this "Get the shots...they're safe...they're effective" junk long enough. Wake up and smell the coffee. I personally know, or know of, over 100 fully vaccinated/boostered up people who have gotten the virus. In addition, scientific journal, The Lancet, and others have published articles showing that the shots don't stop the spread of the virus. And what are the long-term studies showing us of the effects of getting the shots?



On this, Kyrie will be shown on the right side of history. The tyrants of NYC and many others in what used to be known as, "The Land of the Free," will not be.

Chris in Bel Air     January 18
Despite their expanded playoff format and giving opportunities to pretender teams like the Steelers, the NFL does have the 8 best teams now playing to earn a spot in the Super Bowl. Cards started off hot but limped in losing 4 of last 5. Cowboys? Plenty of talent but after all the penalties and that bonehead play on the last drive, they didn't deserve to move on. Raiders were close but just didn't have the offensive horses. All 4 games this weekend are intriguing match-ups. Should be much better games than this past weekend.

unitastoberry     January 18
Another NFL playoff blowout last night. Cardinals folded like a chair in December/January. There QB is not impressive in 3-4 years he's probably working for a living. I hope it gets better next weekend. Cha-Ching!

MFC     January 18
Good weekend for the faithful. Here's the recap of our mythical $1,000/game wager.



YTD ($300)

Wins 4 = $4,000

Lose 2 = ($2,200)

Total = +$1800 hope everyone sends the site owner his wine of choice, you can afford it



YTD = ($300)

week= +$1800

YTD Total +$1500- in the NFL betting that many games this is a WIN





Hope Ramey and the faithful didn't plow it all back in last night.

Just a note I didn't chart the "best bet" of the week.



It would seem to me that the betting faithful didn't like "all" of the picks and went with your own thoughts and prognostication as some have posted of OC weeks that are now paid for. No biggie and congrats but you can't scram from the mountaintop about the picks if you strayed. That's not exactly apples to apples.

Certainly glad you won. If you rode the pony all the way you would be up and those PXG's would be on order. Still time to make a serious dent into Vegas.


aaron     January 17
I bet $5 grand on the Cardinals since Drew was so sure of that pick, I sure hop e they can rally!

Billy     January 17
Hey @Mark, how we doing on that AZ pick tonight??

George     January 17
What odds can I get the Jacksonville Jaguars finish above .500 next year and win at least one playoff game the next year?

snead     January 17
If Billy had the balls to wager he'd be winning $$$ and wouldn't be here crying! LMAO

Mark in Perry Hall     January 17
Has anyone ever lived in someone else's head rent free like @DF lives in @Billy's head? LMFAO.

DJ     January 17
I only bet DF's "Best Bet of the Day" games and wound up plus $1,000 for the season. He was pretty good at those games, FWIW.

Ramey     January 17
Billy, I bet the Best Bet pick every week and would usually pick one other game or sometimes two because that's pretty much what my budget allowed for. I started out at $200 a game and eventually took it to $500 a game. I don't remember exactly which weeks this happened but I went 2-0, 3-0, 2-1 and 3-0 over a 4 week run. I think it was in week 2, 3, 4, 5. It was early in the year I know that. I was up $11,300 at one point but week 16 or 17 I went 0-4. I'm not even sure Drew knows this but he was very good picking AFC West games. I think he went 13-3 according to my calculations.

Billy     January 17
LOL, sure "RAMEY". Did you know ahead of time which pick was a loser, or you bet enough on the others to net such a nice haul??

You faithful crack me up....

Czechm8     January 17
Completely agree with you about the playoffs. 5 games this weekend and 3 were curb stompers. The Eagles and Patriots were out of it early and once the Chiefs got their footing, they ran off 5 TDs in under 12 minutes. But Drew is right: there is no going back with the oligarchs who run the league. A 7th team in each conference is extra revenue in their pockets, which is first and foremost in their planning. The only way it would possibly change is if people stop going to the games and/or viewership numbers, which impact advertising dollars, drops. I see neither happening anytime soon.

Ramey     January 17
I bet real money on Drew's picks and I am $7,800 to the good. I'm happy as I can be to share that info.

kevin     January 17
The "faithful" all crawling out of the world work today. Serious question, why is it ok to post pernicious comments when site owner does well with his picks, but when critics do the same on the inevitable bad weeks, those folks are shouted down and derided as "haters"?

Seems to me both sides should be allowed to crow about their respective views if they so choose. I don't understand either side, as my guess is none of these commenters are truly betting on any of these picks so who cares?? If they are, it seems the MFC scoreboard would tell you how those bets have gone.

Caps definitely struggling with having consistent lineups, but its the NHL, no need to worry about how any team is playing until Mar.




Stats Nerd     January 17
My hot take: Jimmy G is far better than most give him credit for. Dude wins. A lot. Would prefer he not be in a Pitts or Browns jersey

@Chris re: Caps. They have been decimated with injuries/COVID protocol. There certainly is reason to be concerned but I think they likely overachieved initially and perhaps their record is reverting to the mean now. They are really good 5v5 but their PP is hot garbage atm. Also Vitek > Samsonov right now IMO. But Ilya has more upside probably

DF     January 17
Note: There are 16 teams in each conference. Not 15. I forgot the Jaguars and Giants are considered "in the league". Apologies.

jfd23@comcast.net     January 17
I wouldn't be surprised to see Jimmy Garoppolo wearing a Steeler uniform next year.

Chris in Bel Air     January 17
Was hoping the Raiders were going to win, A- because the players have been through a lot this year and was really liking their resolve and B- watching them beat the Bengals would have been nice. But Drew is correct. The Steelers, Eagles and Patriots were not playoff teams and they were exposed as such. Same would have been had the Ravens somehow squeaked in the last week. Sure, Steelers, Eagles and Patriots earned their spot under the current NFL rules. But, the NFL's goal for the playoffs isn't high-level competition. It's all about viewing and money. More teams = more viewing = more money. No doubt they will continue to expand as well and keep rewarding more mediocre teams with a playoff spot.

Drew, any concerns growing with the Caps? They have lost 5 of last 6 and are 7-10 over last 17. Just a little mid-season slump that is normal part of the ebb and flow of a season or something more telling of them?

MFC     January 17
@JK, the recap comes at the end of the weekend with no games remaining, I think there's a game tonight at least the site owner has picked a winner for tonight so I'm sure there's one. Reading comprehension wasn't taught where you went to school? Hopefully it was not Calvert Hall, this was posted Saturday, "and it was a great start to the weekend for the faithful. Right now out of the hole, good luck."



Speaking of Calvert Hall congrats to Lou Eckerel on his announced retirement. We were combatants in high school and both stayed involved with sports. He is a really good man and outstanding coach and athletic director. I wish him well in his retirement, he's earned it.



Please get me out of your head trust me I'm not worth it.


James     January 17
Like "TimD", I had a profitable weekend thanks to Drew. Appreciate the "site owner" coming through! ha ha ha

If my math is correct Drew is now 51-44 picking games. I wonder what the peanut gallery thinks about that?

JK     January 17
4-1 for @DF yesterday and crickets from @MFC and @Billy and the rest of the doubting Thomas types. Poor sports.

unitastoberry     January 17
The mediocre football league MFL was on full display this weekend. Extra playoff teams and the 17 game season made for several run the score up games. Playoff series are for elite teams not mediocre teams. I was pretty glad at the outcome with NE, Cowgirls,Eagles,and Stillers all going home. It was a good year to root against PA teams which I always do and promises to get worse next year including Penn Pedo St getting butt kicked and signing their loser coach to a 10 year deal in UnHappy Valley. I don't care who wins now just hope they are all clutch games to the finish.

TimD in Timonium     January 17
Yesterday's Bucs / Niners / Chiefs parlay turned out pretty well. Thanks, @DF.

Eric in Gaithersburg     January 17
CJ- How am i backtracking? When did i say Manning would win with these scrubs. Of course its the players, recruited by lousy coach.

Bradley     January 16
So if one were a twitter follower- 49ers went from epic loss to NFC championship? Great insight!

Chris     January 16
Check that GM. Drew is now 4-1 ATS and 5-0 on the ML.

Stats Nerd     January 16
Mike McCarthy doing Mike McCarthy things. Nature is healing

Gm     January 16
@DF 3-1 ATS and 4-0 on the ML. Haters gotta be sick.

Billy     January 16
@MFC The faithful too busy allowing @Kevin to live in their heads lol....

MFC     January 16
Surprised the faithful didn't catch my mistake a rare mistake by them. I was wrong the DMD big bettors are not up $1,000 YTD they are actually down ($300).



Sorry for the error but also proves to the faithful that I'm not exactly hanging on every game and it was a great start to the weekend for the faithful. Right now out of the hole, good luck.

Jerryh     January 16
I was thinking the same thing as "KJ".

Monday
December 27, 2021
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2682


somehow...still in it


Two games remain in the regular season and the Ravens are still alive and well in the AFC playoff picture.

That's a sentence a lot of people probably didn't think they'd be reading today after the 41-21 loss at Cincinnati yesterday, but it's all very true. Thanks to a shocking Chargers loss in Houston, the Ravens (8-7) are right there with Los Angeles and Las Vegas in the battle for a playoff spot in the AFC.

In fact, if the Ravens win their final two regular season games to finish 10-7, it's likely they'll snag a trip to the post-season for the 4th straight year. Heck, two Baltimore wins could net them the AFC North title, still. Nothing is "done" in the division as of yet, despite the Bengals (9-6) being perched at the top of the standings.

There are, of course, a number of lingering questions that will be answered in Charm City over the next few days. The answers to those questions will be critical to the Ravens chances of beating the Rams next Sunday (4:25 pm) in Baltimore, which will be as close to "must win" as you can get in the regular season.

Will Lamar Jackson be healthy enough to play against the Rams? Jackson's presence alone increases Baltimore's chances of winning by at least 50%, if not more. If Lamar plays, it's anyone's game.

Zac Taylor and the Bengals were still trying to score at the end of the game yesterday when they were ahead 41-21. Right? Or wrong?

If Lamar can't go, will Tyler Huntley slide back in as the starter? Huntley missed Sunday's game in Cincinnati after the Ravens placed him in Covid-19 protocol on Saturday. Assuming he's vaccinated, Huntley should be OK to return against the Rams. If Huntley isn't vaccinated, that's a different story. (We think it's a "different story." We found what we think is the current set of Covid-19 rules, but there could be an update to the rules that we haven't yet been able to find.)

With all due respect to Josh Johnson, who performed admirably for a while on Sunday in Cincinnati, the Ravens' fortunes lie directly with Lamar or Huntley. If either of those two can play next Sunday, the Ravens have more than a puncher's chance of beating the Rams. If those two can't play and Johnson gets the call again, you can go ahead and plan that mid-January golf trip to Marco Island. I might even see you there.

The Rams (11-4) clinched a playoff spot yesterday. But they have a lot more to play for this Sunday in Baltimore. They can still win the NFC West, for starters, and could, with a few other games falling into place for them, still snag the #1 seed in the NFC. Any thought at all that Los Angeles might step off the gas next Sunday is foolish thinking. They need a win just like the Ravens need a win.

L.A. has only ventured east once this season, beating the Giants easily in week 6. They've hit the midwest four times (Indy, Houston, Green Bay and Minnesota) and are 3-1 in those games. That they're coming all the way across country to play brings up the whole west-coast-to-east-coast thing that has bothered teams from time-to-time, but the 4:25 pm start time probably negates some of that concern.

Matthew Stafford has played plenty of cold-weather games in his career, but he hasn't always been great in them. That said, he also didn't have many good teams along the way, either. Stafford will be critical to the Rams' chances on Sunday. If the Ravens can simmer him down, they have a shot.


A lot was made about the Bengals "still trying" when they were ahead by 20 points with five minutes left in the game yesterday. The post-game handshake between John Harbaugh and Zac Taylor fueled the flames, as Harbs definitely took an extra second to say something to the Bengals coach, who responded with something and a gesture of his own.

In Baltimore, social media lit up with people (and media members) throwing around faux outrage at Taylor for the way he handled things with Cincinnati ahead 41-21.

The whole thing was a joke. #clownshoes stuff. The football game is 60 minutes long. You're more than welcome to try for all 60 minutes or you can -- as the Steelers and Washington Football Team did on Sunday -- pack it in after 45 or 50 minutes if you so choose.

The Bengals were well within their rights to play hard for the entire 60 minutes yesterday. The Ravens, by the way, were also "still trying" while they were losing 41-21. I'm not sure folks in Charm City saw that, but the Ravens were still trying to score and stop the Bengals, even though the game was out of reach.

Anyone who has played sports at some reasonably decent level "gets it". Folks who haven't played sports don't get it. It's really that simple. Just like earlier this season when the Ravens ran a "needless play" at the end of the game in Denver for the sole purpose of tying a league record, the Bengals were allowed to try and score 48 or 55 points yesterday if that's what they wanted to do.

Remember John Harbaugh's comment after the game in Denver when asked about running one additional play with his team ahead by 13 points?

"The record was important to us." Great answer. Right answer. It didn't have to be important to the Broncos. It wasn't their record.

Zac Taylor could have said the same thing yesterday. "Joe Burrow had the chance to become the first Bengals quarterback to ever throw for 500 yards in a game. That record was important to us." True that. It didn't have to be important to the Ravens. They could have stopped Burrow, of course. (Well, maybe not, but you know what I mean).

That Taylor "risked" his franchise quarterback by having him in there late in the game ahead by 20 points is neither here nor there. Harbaugh leaves Lamar in the game all the time when the Ravens are ahead by 20 points in the fourth quarter. What business is it of our's what other coaches do with their key players?

I have no idea what was actually said at midfield after the game. I'm going to guess it went something like this.

Harbaugh: "Well done, Coach. It was kind of lame to try and pile on us at the end there. You saw what we were working with, roster wise."

Taylor: "We can never satisfy you. Last year you got pissed because we kicked a field goal at the end of the game when you were beating us 27-0 and now you're whining because we're trying to be the best team we can be. I'll check in with you next year and ask for your permission on when we're allowed to score and when we're not allowed to score."

If Harbaugh did say something to Taylor like that, the Cincy coach had every right to laugh at him. Imagine being a professional coach and complaining because the other team was still trying at the end of the game.

On the record, both coaches commented on the situation after the game and said everything was fine. Harbaugh was abrupt with his answer ("They call their plays and we call our plays.") but he also knows the truth. He once called for a fake punt in Miami in the 2019 season opener when the Ravens were ahead 35-3 late in the second quarter. You coach the game all the way through in the NFL. It's not the CYO or rec soccer. It's the NFL.

And if it all did bother Harbaugh and the players, they'll get two cracks at the Bengals again next season and they can do something about it at that point. Heck, they could face each other this January, somehow. Who knows?

People in Baltimore were irate with Taylor yesterday, but that whole thing was the biggest nothing-burger of the season. The game is sixty minutes long. If you want to take a knee at the end (which the Bengals did, by the way, when they were on the Baltimore ten yard line in the final minute) you can do that. But you're also allowed to play all sixty minutes if you so choose. And the other team has the right to stop you or quit themselves.

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how the last two weeks shape up


Here's what the AFC playoff picture looks like, where only the Chiefs have actually clinched a post-season spot thus far.


Buffalo Bills (9-6) -- vs. Atlanta, vs. NY Jets

New England Patriots (9-6) -- vs. Jacksonville, at Miami

Miami Dolphins (8-7) -- at Tennessee, vs. New England


Tennessee Titans (10-5) -- vs. Miami, at Houston

Indianapolis Colts (9-6) -- vs. Las Vegas, at Jacksonville


Las Vegas Raiders (8-7) -- at Indianapolis, vs. Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Chargers (8-7) -- vs. Denver, at Las Vegas


Cincinnati Bengals (9-6) -- vs. Kansas City, at Cleveland

Baltimore Ravens (8-7) -- vs. Los Angeles Rams, vs. Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7-1) -- vs. Cleveland, at Baltimore

Cleveland Browns (7-8) -- at Pittsburgh, vs. Cincinnati


Wild stuff, huh?

Imagine if this happened in the AFC North.

Cincinnati loses their last two to finish 9-8 (could easily happen).

Baltimore beats the Rams, loses to the Steelers to finish 9-8 (could happen).

Cleveland loses in Pittsburgh, beats Cincinnati to finish 8-9 (could happen).

Pittsburgh beats Cleveland and Baltimore to finish 9-7-1 (could happen).

The Steelers, despite being pretty lousy all season, could still win the division title and host a home playoff game in that scenario presented above.


The Ravens are in trouble if any tiebreakers are used in the AFC North based on their 1-4 division record (currently). The Steelers and Browns are both 2-2 in the division, but someone will likely have at least three division wins since they play one another this coming Sunday in Pittsburgh.


The Ravens also need to avoid any kind of 3-team or 4-team tiebreaker in the AFC that includes the Dolphins and Raiders but doesn't include the Chargers.


What the Ravens are hoping for at season's end is a tie with both Las Vegas and the Chargers only (assuming the Chargers beat Las Vegas in the final game to earn that tie with the Raiders). In the scenario where the Raiders, Chargers and Raiders finish tied and the Chargers beat the Raiders, that means the tiebreaker between the three teams would come down to Los Angeles vs. Baltimore because the Chargers-Raiders tie would first be broken by head-to-head in the regular season, which L.A. won, 2-0. And the Ravens, by virtue of their win over L.A. earlier this season, would win that tiebreaker with the Chargers. Make sense? You can look it up if you don't believe me. It's true.


By the way, the Patriots, Titans, Bengals, Colts, Ravens and Chargers could all finish 10-7 still. That scenario exists. Check back tomorrow and we'll let you know how that breaks down. It might take a few hours to figure out.

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#dmd comments








Jeff “Fireball” Roberts     January 19
It was just a matter of time before the Dallas coach pulled a mccarthy. Ya’ think Manning will be invited back to College Park next season ? Yeah, me either. I hope the CBA gets settled in the next 2-3 weeks. I am looking forward to Orioles season.

Travis     January 19
Drew



On your constant bashing of the Flyers (most subjects that pertain nothing to ice hockey), did the hatred start when some Flyers Fan poured a beer on you at The Spectrum for wearing a Caps Jersey?

KC     January 19
@Drew saying what the FM radio guys won't say today because they're tied into UM basketball. Today reminds me of the way @Drew was on the radio when he was the only guy in town willing to hammer the Orioles for their losing ways. Old school Dish today!!!

Stats Nerd     January 19
@Kenny-yeah the whole thing makes little sense. I thought if managed properly they could have run at least 2 and maybe 3 more plays with 14 seconds. If they felt more comfortable from, say the 25, run a 1215 yard out route and get out of bounds. Wild man

@Chris-yeah I've heard people ask about Duv. Think Deebo is thicker but Duv has wheels. I'm not sure it would work either but some of those things had to have worked better than some of the crap they were running. Getting Duv 6-8 touches a game certainly makes sense to me.

I am EXTREMELY bullish on Bateman. He won't be Deebo but I think he could be an absolute monster next year. He tics all the boxes: strong physical, runs clean routes, incredibly good hands. If GRo or whoever doesn't get the ball to him in space next season it will be a huge error to me. Reminds in a lot of ways of Anquan.

lou@palo alto     January 19
a UK study has shown a post covid brain fog that can last up to 9 mo--on a variety of cognitive tests there was a decreased attention span, memory and overall game performance--??Lamar he certainly looked slow and confused in his last few games--fyi

Bill     January 19
I consider myself a Maryland basketball fan. I completely agree that they looked disinterested last night. I am feeling a little disinterested too. I don't know why but the Terps have lost me this season. Very little energy on or off the court. Players (and maybe coaches) look like they are just going through the motions. I worry what the recruits must be thinking. Maryland better get this ship turned around quickly or fans could be in for a few years of bad basketball.

David Rosenfeld     January 19
I feel bad for those guys--as basketball players. Their coach--he quit on them. I don't care as a fan if you're glad he's gone, you have to admit that's what he did. And I'm sure they feel like they're kind of on their own right now. I mean...heck...even some awful MD teams had a great home court advantage, and they don't even have that anymore.

And now...what's happening is that they realize that they aren't good, and that the mechanism isn't in place for them to get better. And I'm not sure how they are going to respond to that.

I think this is Square 1. Reese will probably leave, despite his sister. The good news? You can get good quickly with the right coach.

Tom J     January 19
Maryland basketball is now resembling what Maryland football has been over the years. And it's starting to look like no one cares about the basketball now either judging by all of the empty seats there. Turgeon is laughing all the way to the bank......

Chris in Bel Air     January 19
Was watching the Caps and then remembered Terps were playing too. Flipped to that game, saw they were down by 17 and flipped back to Caps. Glad that's all I saw because if two writers are roasting due to lack of effort, it's not good.

@StatsNerd - Enjoyed today's article and agree on Deebo. He is unique player and I'm sure all fans wish their team had a multi-tool player like that. On that note, I don't expect Duvernay to be the same exact talent as Deebo but I do feel like the Ravens underutilize him. He might get one jet sweep or a poorly executed/timed screen but that's about it.

Agree w/ @DelRay - thankfully Ravens hired Harbs and not Garrett.

Kenny G     January 19
Stats Nerd - the one way I thought of the Dallas draw play was could Dak run far enough in say 10 seconds (need time to spot and spike) to make the next play(s) have a higher probability of success. The difference of a 41 yard vs 27 yard TD potential play cant be much but having two chances from 41 was probably the better option - TD or pass interference. Add in the factors that Dak did not give the ball to the ref and the line effectively blocked the ref from spotting the ball - what were they thinking? Sorry you answered that.




MFC     January 19
Who knows what goes through the heads of these players. I can't call them them kids because many are over 21 and with "re-classing", transferring in high school now the transfer portal in college many may well be 23 and 24. I do know when I watch games I don't see many "college looking kids" on the floor. I see men with incredible strength. Maybe, even though they probably have no idea what the old ACC was about are hearing about going to warm Miami or Florida State and now have to play in the dreary, cold midwest to face Michigan, Northwestern, Iowa etc. Who knows, but you're right, they didn't show up that's for sure.



Faithful, picking games is a guess. Yes computers, reading about past performances, metrics and "that stuff" can make it an educated guess but so many things can and do happen in a game that it comes down to you're either right or wrong. Remember, you're getting free thoughts here. You're introspection may be 100% correct and then..... Much easier to just pick a winner, now add in a spread and the job gets tougher. If not for the 1/2 point the faithful coffers would be a few thousand richer.

Dale, no need to read any comments dissing you, you made an educated guess, it didn't turn out. The world didn't end and unfortunately Omicron is still with us. You do write great re-caps.


Delray RICK     January 19
That's why the "COWGIRLS " have been nothing but a 500 team for years. Think if we didn't hire JOHN.

Mike     January 19
Drew and Dale both going in with both barrels on Maryland today. Wowza!

Ray Ray     January 19
#MJ Dale had the courage to make his "prediction" BEFORE the game was over.

MJ     January 18
Dale gonna get crushed in 4......3.......2.......1

Steve of Pimlico     January 18
I don't bet football,but what makes Drews picks any better than anyone else's. I would bet his golf picks as he has a degree of expertise there.

David Rosenfeld     January 18
7 teams in each conference making the playoffs aside, it was still kind of amazing to see the kinds of blowouts we saw.

Did I think the Eagles and Patriots were good teams? No. Was there reason to believe they'd be blitzed like that IMMEDIATELY? No way. And surely the Steelers weren't any good, but they just as surely found ways to stay in games all year.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals are a good team, but I can't imagine they could play worse, including maybe the worst play I've seen a QB make in his end zone. And for all intents and purposes, the Cowboys SHOULD have been blown out.

Howard     January 18
Unless the NY COVID rules change between now and the playoffs, the Nets would be better off finishing 8th in the conference. That way Kyrie will be available for any game 7 (unless they play the Knicks or Raptors)

Pauly Dee     January 18
The Emperor Has No Clothes.



We've been fed this "Get the shots...they're safe...they're effective" junk long enough. Wake up and smell the coffee. I personally know, or know of, over 100 fully vaccinated/boostered up people who have gotten the virus. In addition, scientific journal, The Lancet, and others have published articles showing that the shots don't stop the spread of the virus. And what are the long-term studies showing us of the effects of getting the shots?



On this, Kyrie will be shown on the right side of history. The tyrants of NYC and many others in what used to be known as, "The Land of the Free," will not be.

Chris in Bel Air     January 18
Despite their expanded playoff format and giving opportunities to pretender teams like the Steelers, the NFL does have the 8 best teams now playing to earn a spot in the Super Bowl. Cards started off hot but limped in losing 4 of last 5. Cowboys? Plenty of talent but after all the penalties and that bonehead play on the last drive, they didn't deserve to move on. Raiders were close but just didn't have the offensive horses. All 4 games this weekend are intriguing match-ups. Should be much better games than this past weekend.

unitastoberry     January 18
Another NFL playoff blowout last night. Cardinals folded like a chair in December/January. There QB is not impressive in 3-4 years he's probably working for a living. I hope it gets better next weekend. Cha-Ching!

MFC     January 18
Good weekend for the faithful. Here's the recap of our mythical $1,000/game wager.



YTD ($300)

Wins 4 = $4,000

Lose 2 = ($2,200)

Total = +$1800 hope everyone sends the site owner his wine of choice, you can afford it



YTD = ($300)

week= +$1800

YTD Total +$1500- in the NFL betting that many games this is a WIN





Hope Ramey and the faithful didn't plow it all back in last night.

Just a note I didn't chart the "best bet" of the week.



It would seem to me that the betting faithful didn't like "all" of the picks and went with your own thoughts and prognostication as some have posted of OC weeks that are now paid for. No biggie and congrats but you can't scram from the mountaintop about the picks if you strayed. That's not exactly apples to apples.

Certainly glad you won. If you rode the pony all the way you would be up and those PXG's would be on order. Still time to make a serious dent into Vegas.


aaron     January 17
I bet $5 grand on the Cardinals since Drew was so sure of that pick, I sure hop e they can rally!

Billy     January 17
Hey @Mark, how we doing on that AZ pick tonight??

George     January 17
What odds can I get the Jacksonville Jaguars finish above .500 next year and win at least one playoff game the next year?

snead     January 17
If Billy had the balls to wager he'd be winning $$$ and wouldn't be here crying! LMAO

Mark in Perry Hall     January 17
Has anyone ever lived in someone else's head rent free like @DF lives in @Billy's head? LMFAO.

DJ     January 17
I only bet DF's "Best Bet of the Day" games and wound up plus $1,000 for the season. He was pretty good at those games, FWIW.

Ramey     January 17
Billy, I bet the Best Bet pick every week and would usually pick one other game or sometimes two because that's pretty much what my budget allowed for. I started out at $200 a game and eventually took it to $500 a game. I don't remember exactly which weeks this happened but I went 2-0, 3-0, 2-1 and 3-0 over a 4 week run. I think it was in week 2, 3, 4, 5. It was early in the year I know that. I was up $11,300 at one point but week 16 or 17 I went 0-4. I'm not even sure Drew knows this but he was very good picking AFC West games. I think he went 13-3 according to my calculations.

Billy     January 17
LOL, sure "RAMEY". Did you know ahead of time which pick was a loser, or you bet enough on the others to net such a nice haul??

You faithful crack me up....

Czechm8     January 17
Completely agree with you about the playoffs. 5 games this weekend and 3 were curb stompers. The Eagles and Patriots were out of it early and once the Chiefs got their footing, they ran off 5 TDs in under 12 minutes. But Drew is right: there is no going back with the oligarchs who run the league. A 7th team in each conference is extra revenue in their pockets, which is first and foremost in their planning. The only way it would possibly change is if people stop going to the games and/or viewership numbers, which impact advertising dollars, drops. I see neither happening anytime soon.

Ramey     January 17
I bet real money on Drew's picks and I am $7,800 to the good. I'm happy as I can be to share that info.

kevin     January 17
The "faithful" all crawling out of the world work today. Serious question, why is it ok to post pernicious comments when site owner does well with his picks, but when critics do the same on the inevitable bad weeks, those folks are shouted down and derided as "haters"?

Seems to me both sides should be allowed to crow about their respective views if they so choose. I don't understand either side, as my guess is none of these commenters are truly betting on any of these picks so who cares?? If they are, it seems the MFC scoreboard would tell you how those bets have gone.

Caps definitely struggling with having consistent lineups, but its the NHL, no need to worry about how any team is playing until Mar.




Stats Nerd     January 17
My hot take: Jimmy G is far better than most give him credit for. Dude wins. A lot. Would prefer he not be in a Pitts or Browns jersey

@Chris re: Caps. They have been decimated with injuries/COVID protocol. There certainly is reason to be concerned but I think they likely overachieved initially and perhaps their record is reverting to the mean now. They are really good 5v5 but their PP is hot garbage atm. Also Vitek > Samsonov right now IMO. But Ilya has more upside probably

DF     January 17
Note: There are 16 teams in each conference. Not 15. I forgot the Jaguars and Giants are considered "in the league". Apologies.

jfd23@comcast.net     January 17
I wouldn't be surprised to see Jimmy Garoppolo wearing a Steeler uniform next year.

Chris in Bel Air     January 17
Was hoping the Raiders were going to win, A- because the players have been through a lot this year and was really liking their resolve and B- watching them beat the Bengals would have been nice. But Drew is correct. The Steelers, Eagles and Patriots were not playoff teams and they were exposed as such. Same would have been had the Ravens somehow squeaked in the last week. Sure, Steelers, Eagles and Patriots earned their spot under the current NFL rules. But, the NFL's goal for the playoffs isn't high-level competition. It's all about viewing and money. More teams = more viewing = more money. No doubt they will continue to expand as well and keep rewarding more mediocre teams with a playoff spot.

Drew, any concerns growing with the Caps? They have lost 5 of last 6 and are 7-10 over last 17. Just a little mid-season slump that is normal part of the ebb and flow of a season or something more telling of them?

MFC     January 17
@JK, the recap comes at the end of the weekend with no games remaining, I think there's a game tonight at least the site owner has picked a winner for tonight so I'm sure there's one. Reading comprehension wasn't taught where you went to school? Hopefully it was not Calvert Hall, this was posted Saturday, "and it was a great start to the weekend for the faithful. Right now out of the hole, good luck."



Speaking of Calvert Hall congrats to Lou Eckerel on his announced retirement. We were combatants in high school and both stayed involved with sports. He is a really good man and outstanding coach and athletic director. I wish him well in his retirement, he's earned it.



Please get me out of your head trust me I'm not worth it.


James     January 17
Like "TimD", I had a profitable weekend thanks to Drew. Appreciate the "site owner" coming through! ha ha ha

If my math is correct Drew is now 51-44 picking games. I wonder what the peanut gallery thinks about that?

JK     January 17
4-1 for @DF yesterday and crickets from @MFC and @Billy and the rest of the doubting Thomas types. Poor sports.

unitastoberry     January 17
The mediocre football league MFL was on full display this weekend. Extra playoff teams and the 17 game season made for several run the score up games. Playoff series are for elite teams not mediocre teams. I was pretty glad at the outcome with NE, Cowgirls,Eagles,and Stillers all going home. It was a good year to root against PA teams which I always do and promises to get worse next year including Penn Pedo St getting butt kicked and signing their loser coach to a 10 year deal in UnHappy Valley. I don't care who wins now just hope they are all clutch games to the finish.

TimD in Timonium     January 17
Yesterday's Bucs / Niners / Chiefs parlay turned out pretty well. Thanks, @DF.

Eric in Gaithersburg     January 17
CJ- How am i backtracking? When did i say Manning would win with these scrubs. Of course its the players, recruited by lousy coach.

Bradley     January 16
So if one were a twitter follower- 49ers went from epic loss to NFC championship? Great insight!

Chris     January 16
Check that GM. Drew is now 4-1 ATS and 5-0 on the ML.

Stats Nerd     January 16
Mike McCarthy doing Mike McCarthy things. Nature is healing

Gm     January 16
@DF 3-1 ATS and 4-0 on the ML. Haters gotta be sick.

Billy     January 16
@MFC The faithful too busy allowing @Kevin to live in their heads lol....

MFC     January 16
Surprised the faithful didn't catch my mistake a rare mistake by them. I was wrong the DMD big bettors are not up $1,000 YTD they are actually down ($300).



Sorry for the error but also proves to the faithful that I'm not exactly hanging on every game and it was a great start to the weekend for the faithful. Right now out of the hole, good luck.

Jerryh     January 16
I was thinking the same thing as "KJ".

#DMD GAME DAY
Week 16


Sunday — December 26, 2021
Issue 2681

Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals

1:00 PM EST

Paul Brown Stadium
Cincinnati, OH

Spread: Bengals (-6.5)



bengals...still "gonna bengals"?


Even before yesterday's news that Tyler Huntley wouldn't play today and someone named Josh Johnson would start at quarterback for the Ravens, I assumed we'd see what we usually see from these two teams when they get together and the chips are down.

I figured the Ravens would figure out a way to squeeze out a crazy, "legendary win" that we'd talk about for a long time in these parts.

And I assumed the Bengals would figure out a way to lose a game they had no business losing.

"Ravens gonna Ravens" and "Bengals gonna Bengals", in other words.

Today's Ravens hero will be...who else but this guy?

Sure, Cincinnati has, on a rare occasion or two, turned the tide on the Ravens in late-season games. I don't even have to bring up Dalton-to-Boyd, 4th and 12, in Baltimore, on New Year's Eve, 2017. I need not bring it up because it's indelibly etched in your brain, if you're any kind of Baltimore football fan.

But more times than not over the last two decades, when the Bengals need to do something right, they, instead, do something wrong.

Bengals gonna Bengals, most of the time.

So with Josh Johnson at the helm today and recent Calvert Hall grad Kenji Bahar backing him up, it stands to reason there's just no way Cincinnati can squander this opportunity. Right?

Right?

Wrong.

The Ravens, on brand, will win today.

You read that right. I'm not changing my tune on this one, even though the odds are incredibly stacked against John Harbaugh's team. The reason I'm not swaying? The Bengals.

Cincinnati, until proven otherwise, doesn't know how to handle the kind of Christmas gift they've been presented with today in their own building. Somehow, against all conventional, reasonable thinking, the Bengals will squander this opportunity this afteroon and, at the same time, self-inflict a wound they'll be talking about all off-season in Cincinnati.

I'm not being a homer, either.

This is actually far more about the Bengals than it is the Ravens. I certainly see what the Ravens are taking out there. It's not much, obviously. They have a guy at quarterback today who NFL journeymen point to, giggle, and say, "That guy has had one lousy career, huh?"

Yes, Josh Johnson has, let's just say, "been around a time or two." His back-up, from Calvert Hall to Monmouth University (NJ) to practice-squad-filler, has never thrown a pass in his life that really matters, unless you count the Turkey Bowl on Thanksgiving Day in Baltimore.

The Ravens are going to win a football game -- an important one, nonetheless -- with Josh Johnson and Kenji Bahar as their quarterback duo of record and a dozen other key players either on the Covid-19 list or injured list?

Yes indeed, they are winning today. The Ravens are going to win because the team they're playing doesn't know how to win just yet. Joe Burrow seems like he's the real deal. He has a significant group of pass catchers at his disposal and a formidable running back in Joe Mixon. The Bengals' defense isn't great, but they're posting up against Josh Johnson today. How hard can it be?

Football teams have "brands", I believe.

You saw that first-hand yesterday, where the Packers (who usually figure out a way to win) and Browns (who usually figure out a way to lose) played to the level of their respective brands in Green Bay's 24-22 win.

And you saw it last night in Glendale, Arizona, too, where the Cardinals' brand was on full display in their loss to the Colts. Arizona started the season at 7-0. They're now 10-5 and holding on for dear life, hoping they can string together a couple of wins to end the season and make the playoffs.

Today's display of "brand" will show the Ravens for what they are and the Bengals for what they are. I don't think the quarterback for Baltimore matters all that much. In fact, it increases the chances that Cincinnati will display their brand once again and figure out a way to look a gift horse in the mouth and lose.

The Ravens get four field goals from Justin Tucker, a safety, and a 5-yard TD run by Latavius Murray after a Patrick Queen interception in Cincinnati territory and Baltimore -- despite only 240 yards of total offense -- pulls off a Christmas miracle, beating the Bengals, 21-20.

Ready for this? Cincinnati scores a TD with 35 seconds remaining to cut the lead to 21-20 and then, on brand, they miss the extra point.

Ravens gonna Ravens and Bengals gonna Bengals.

Until I see otherwise, that's what I'm going with today.

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the movers are scheduled for january 7


The moving company has us scheduled for a January 7 move-in-date for the beach house in Dewey, so we need to start getting everything put in boxes. Who has some bubblewrap we can use?

Here we are in week 15 of the NFL season and we've all but embarrassed the smart guys in Vegas in 2021, posting a winning record (39-36) against the spread. We heard that was impossible to do, but we're doing it. As Al Michaels once said, "Do you believe in miracles?"

We have five winners for you below, which would seem almost impossible given the crazy nature of rosters around the NFL this week. There's no telling who actually winds up playing today given this week's Covid-19 impact on the NFL. But this is like playing golf in the wind and the rain. You ignore the elements and you forge ahead.

A wise gambler would sit out today's slew of games and consider that a win in and of itself. But we've made lots of birdies in the wind and the rain in our lifetime. We're not sitting anything out. The movers are coming on January 7. We have games to win. So let's go.

LIONS AT FALCONS (-7.0) -- The Falcons are a dangerous team to bet on because their brand is to win or stay close when they shouldn't and cough up easy point spreads and victories when they shouldn't. But we don't see anything about today's game that worries us when it comes to Atlanta and laying seven points at home. Detroit's done for the year and the Falcons are still alive in the playoff race, trying to figure out a way to finish 9-8 and see what that gets them. We're taking Atlanta and laying the seven points in a 33-19 win over Detroit.

Justin Herbert and the Chargers giving up only 10.5 today in Houston? We'll all over that one.

JAGUARS AT JETS (-1.5) -- You have to be a complete degenerate to actually wager on this game with any kind of real money. I mean, you're going to take your hard earned cash and actually put it on either team and depend on them to follow through with a professional performance? I sure wouldn't do that. But it strikes me that a bad team at home is always better than a bad team on the road, so we're going with New York today, as the Jets cover the 1.5 point spread in a 24-20 win over Jacksonville.

GIANTS AT EAGLES (-10.0) -- We've gone to the well with the Giants on two occasions recently and they've let us down both times, so we're not biting that hook today. So you know what that means, right? We go with Philly and the Giants man-up and only lose by six. It always works that way. But we're staying the course here and taking Philadlphia and laying the 10 at home as the Eagles win easily, 30-10.

CHARGERS AT TEXANS (-10.5) -- It almost feels like a "gimme" in this one. Los Angeles, with that offense, only has to give Houston 10.5 points? Shouldn't the number be 13.5 or 14.5? The Texans are a weird team, as the Titans found out six weeks ago. They have the best helmets in the league, which means on any given Sunday, they can actually man-up and play well. But it won't be this Sunday. No, no, no. Los Angeles goes into Houston, covers the 10.5, and pounds the Texans, 37-20.

BRONCOS AT RAIDERS (EVEN) -- You don't see a pick 'em game in the NFL very often, but you have one today in Las Vegas, where two teams with 7-7 records meet up for the right to stay alive in the playoff race. The loser is probably "out" and the winner will continue to cling to post-season hopes with two weeks remaining. We like Las Vegas to win this one, so we'll take the Raiders in a 27-24 victory.

BEST BET OF THE DAY -- We don't see Denver going into Las Vegas and winning. We'll take the Raiders as today's best bet.

LAST WEEK'S RECORD: 2-3

SEASON RECORD TO DATE: 39-36

BEST BET OF THE DAY: 8-7

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#dmd comments








Jeff “Fireball” Roberts     January 19
It was just a matter of time before the Dallas coach pulled a mccarthy. Ya’ think Manning will be invited back to College Park next season ? Yeah, me either. I hope the CBA gets settled in the next 2-3 weeks. I am looking forward to Orioles season.

Travis     January 19
Drew



On your constant bashing of the Flyers (most subjects that pertain nothing to ice hockey), did the hatred start when some Flyers Fan poured a beer on you at The Spectrum for wearing a Caps Jersey?

KC     January 19
@Drew saying what the FM radio guys won't say today because they're tied into UM basketball. Today reminds me of the way @Drew was on the radio when he was the only guy in town willing to hammer the Orioles for their losing ways. Old school Dish today!!!

Stats Nerd     January 19
@Kenny-yeah the whole thing makes little sense. I thought if managed properly they could have run at least 2 and maybe 3 more plays with 14 seconds. If they felt more comfortable from, say the 25, run a 1215 yard out route and get out of bounds. Wild man

@Chris-yeah I've heard people ask about Duv. Think Deebo is thicker but Duv has wheels. I'm not sure it would work either but some of those things had to have worked better than some of the crap they were running. Getting Duv 6-8 touches a game certainly makes sense to me.

I am EXTREMELY bullish on Bateman. He won't be Deebo but I think he could be an absolute monster next year. He tics all the boxes: strong physical, runs clean routes, incredibly good hands. If GRo or whoever doesn't get the ball to him in space next season it will be a huge error to me. Reminds in a lot of ways of Anquan.

lou@palo alto     January 19
a UK study has shown a post covid brain fog that can last up to 9 mo--on a variety of cognitive tests there was a decreased attention span, memory and overall game performance--??Lamar he certainly looked slow and confused in his last few games--fyi

Bill     January 19
I consider myself a Maryland basketball fan. I completely agree that they looked disinterested last night. I am feeling a little disinterested too. I don't know why but the Terps have lost me this season. Very little energy on or off the court. Players (and maybe coaches) look like they are just going through the motions. I worry what the recruits must be thinking. Maryland better get this ship turned around quickly or fans could be in for a few years of bad basketball.

David Rosenfeld     January 19
I feel bad for those guys--as basketball players. Their coach--he quit on them. I don't care as a fan if you're glad he's gone, you have to admit that's what he did. And I'm sure they feel like they're kind of on their own right now. I mean...heck...even some awful MD teams had a great home court advantage, and they don't even have that anymore.

And now...what's happening is that they realize that they aren't good, and that the mechanism isn't in place for them to get better. And I'm not sure how they are going to respond to that.

I think this is Square 1. Reese will probably leave, despite his sister. The good news? You can get good quickly with the right coach.

Tom J     January 19
Maryland basketball is now resembling what Maryland football has been over the years. And it's starting to look like no one cares about the basketball now either judging by all of the empty seats there. Turgeon is laughing all the way to the bank......

Chris in Bel Air     January 19
Was watching the Caps and then remembered Terps were playing too. Flipped to that game, saw they were down by 17 and flipped back to Caps. Glad that's all I saw because if two writers are roasting due to lack of effort, it's not good.

@StatsNerd - Enjoyed today's article and agree on Deebo. He is unique player and I'm sure all fans wish their team had a multi-tool player like that. On that note, I don't expect Duvernay to be the same exact talent as Deebo but I do feel like the Ravens underutilize him. He might get one jet sweep or a poorly executed/timed screen but that's about it.

Agree w/ @DelRay - thankfully Ravens hired Harbs and not Garrett.

Kenny G     January 19
Stats Nerd - the one way I thought of the Dallas draw play was could Dak run far enough in say 10 seconds (need time to spot and spike) to make the next play(s) have a higher probability of success. The difference of a 41 yard vs 27 yard TD potential play cant be much but having two chances from 41 was probably the better option - TD or pass interference. Add in the factors that Dak did not give the ball to the ref and the line effectively blocked the ref from spotting the ball - what were they thinking? Sorry you answered that.




MFC     January 19
Who knows what goes through the heads of these players. I can't call them them kids because many are over 21 and with "re-classing", transferring in high school now the transfer portal in college many may well be 23 and 24. I do know when I watch games I don't see many "college looking kids" on the floor. I see men with incredible strength. Maybe, even though they probably have no idea what the old ACC was about are hearing about going to warm Miami or Florida State and now have to play in the dreary, cold midwest to face Michigan, Northwestern, Iowa etc. Who knows, but you're right, they didn't show up that's for sure.



Faithful, picking games is a guess. Yes computers, reading about past performances, metrics and "that stuff" can make it an educated guess but so many things can and do happen in a game that it comes down to you're either right or wrong. Remember, you're getting free thoughts here. You're introspection may be 100% correct and then..... Much easier to just pick a winner, now add in a spread and the job gets tougher. If not for the 1/2 point the faithful coffers would be a few thousand richer.

Dale, no need to read any comments dissing you, you made an educated guess, it didn't turn out. The world didn't end and unfortunately Omicron is still with us. You do write great re-caps.


Delray RICK     January 19
That's why the "COWGIRLS " have been nothing but a 500 team for years. Think if we didn't hire JOHN.

Mike     January 19
Drew and Dale both going in with both barrels on Maryland today. Wowza!

Ray Ray     January 19
#MJ Dale had the courage to make his "prediction" BEFORE the game was over.

MJ     January 18
Dale gonna get crushed in 4......3.......2.......1

Steve of Pimlico     January 18
I don't bet football,but what makes Drews picks any better than anyone else's. I would bet his golf picks as he has a degree of expertise there.

David Rosenfeld     January 18
7 teams in each conference making the playoffs aside, it was still kind of amazing to see the kinds of blowouts we saw.

Did I think the Eagles and Patriots were good teams? No. Was there reason to believe they'd be blitzed like that IMMEDIATELY? No way. And surely the Steelers weren't any good, but they just as surely found ways to stay in games all year.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals are a good team, but I can't imagine they could play worse, including maybe the worst play I've seen a QB make in his end zone. And for all intents and purposes, the Cowboys SHOULD have been blown out.

Howard     January 18
Unless the NY COVID rules change between now and the playoffs, the Nets would be better off finishing 8th in the conference. That way Kyrie will be available for any game 7 (unless they play the Knicks or Raptors)

Pauly Dee     January 18
The Emperor Has No Clothes.



We've been fed this "Get the shots...they're safe...they're effective" junk long enough. Wake up and smell the coffee. I personally know, or know of, over 100 fully vaccinated/boostered up people who have gotten the virus. In addition, scientific journal, The Lancet, and others have published articles showing that the shots don't stop the spread of the virus. And what are the long-term studies showing us of the effects of getting the shots?



On this, Kyrie will be shown on the right side of history. The tyrants of NYC and many others in what used to be known as, "The Land of the Free," will not be.

Chris in Bel Air     January 18
Despite their expanded playoff format and giving opportunities to pretender teams like the Steelers, the NFL does have the 8 best teams now playing to earn a spot in the Super Bowl. Cards started off hot but limped in losing 4 of last 5. Cowboys? Plenty of talent but after all the penalties and that bonehead play on the last drive, they didn't deserve to move on. Raiders were close but just didn't have the offensive horses. All 4 games this weekend are intriguing match-ups. Should be much better games than this past weekend.

unitastoberry     January 18
Another NFL playoff blowout last night. Cardinals folded like a chair in December/January. There QB is not impressive in 3-4 years he's probably working for a living. I hope it gets better next weekend. Cha-Ching!

MFC     January 18
Good weekend for the faithful. Here's the recap of our mythical $1,000/game wager.



YTD ($300)

Wins 4 = $4,000

Lose 2 = ($2,200)

Total = +$1800 hope everyone sends the site owner his wine of choice, you can afford it



YTD = ($300)

week= +$1800

YTD Total +$1500- in the NFL betting that many games this is a WIN





Hope Ramey and the faithful didn't plow it all back in last night.

Just a note I didn't chart the "best bet" of the week.



It would seem to me that the betting faithful didn't like "all" of the picks and went with your own thoughts and prognostication as some have posted of OC weeks that are now paid for. No biggie and congrats but you can't scram from the mountaintop about the picks if you strayed. That's not exactly apples to apples.

Certainly glad you won. If you rode the pony all the way you would be up and those PXG's would be on order. Still time to make a serious dent into Vegas.


aaron     January 17
I bet $5 grand on the Cardinals since Drew was so sure of that pick, I sure hop e they can rally!

Billy     January 17
Hey @Mark, how we doing on that AZ pick tonight??

George     January 17
What odds can I get the Jacksonville Jaguars finish above .500 next year and win at least one playoff game the next year?

snead     January 17
If Billy had the balls to wager he'd be winning $$$ and wouldn't be here crying! LMAO

Mark in Perry Hall     January 17
Has anyone ever lived in someone else's head rent free like @DF lives in @Billy's head? LMFAO.

DJ     January 17
I only bet DF's "Best Bet of the Day" games and wound up plus $1,000 for the season. He was pretty good at those games, FWIW.

Ramey     January 17
Billy, I bet the Best Bet pick every week and would usually pick one other game or sometimes two because that's pretty much what my budget allowed for. I started out at $200 a game and eventually took it to $500 a game. I don't remember exactly which weeks this happened but I went 2-0, 3-0, 2-1 and 3-0 over a 4 week run. I think it was in week 2, 3, 4, 5. It was early in the year I know that. I was up $11,300 at one point but week 16 or 17 I went 0-4. I'm not even sure Drew knows this but he was very good picking AFC West games. I think he went 13-3 according to my calculations.

Billy     January 17
LOL, sure "RAMEY". Did you know ahead of time which pick was a loser, or you bet enough on the others to net such a nice haul??

You faithful crack me up....

Czechm8     January 17
Completely agree with you about the playoffs. 5 games this weekend and 3 were curb stompers. The Eagles and Patriots were out of it early and once the Chiefs got their footing, they ran off 5 TDs in under 12 minutes. But Drew is right: there is no going back with the oligarchs who run the league. A 7th team in each conference is extra revenue in their pockets, which is first and foremost in their planning. The only way it would possibly change is if people stop going to the games and/or viewership numbers, which impact advertising dollars, drops. I see neither happening anytime soon.

Ramey     January 17
I bet real money on Drew's picks and I am $7,800 to the good. I'm happy as I can be to share that info.

kevin     January 17
The "faithful" all crawling out of the world work today. Serious question, why is it ok to post pernicious comments when site owner does well with his picks, but when critics do the same on the inevitable bad weeks, those folks are shouted down and derided as "haters"?

Seems to me both sides should be allowed to crow about their respective views if they so choose. I don't understand either side, as my guess is none of these commenters are truly betting on any of these picks so who cares?? If they are, it seems the MFC scoreboard would tell you how those bets have gone.

Caps definitely struggling with having consistent lineups, but its the NHL, no need to worry about how any team is playing until Mar.




Stats Nerd     January 17
My hot take: Jimmy G is far better than most give him credit for. Dude wins. A lot. Would prefer he not be in a Pitts or Browns jersey

@Chris re: Caps. They have been decimated with injuries/COVID protocol. There certainly is reason to be concerned but I think they likely overachieved initially and perhaps their record is reverting to the mean now. They are really good 5v5 but their PP is hot garbage atm. Also Vitek > Samsonov right now IMO. But Ilya has more upside probably

DF     January 17
Note: There are 16 teams in each conference. Not 15. I forgot the Jaguars and Giants are considered "in the league". Apologies.

jfd23@comcast.net     January 17
I wouldn't be surprised to see Jimmy Garoppolo wearing a Steeler uniform next year.

Chris in Bel Air     January 17
Was hoping the Raiders were going to win, A- because the players have been through a lot this year and was really liking their resolve and B- watching them beat the Bengals would have been nice. But Drew is correct. The Steelers, Eagles and Patriots were not playoff teams and they were exposed as such. Same would have been had the Ravens somehow squeaked in the last week. Sure, Steelers, Eagles and Patriots earned their spot under the current NFL rules. But, the NFL's goal for the playoffs isn't high-level competition. It's all about viewing and money. More teams = more viewing = more money. No doubt they will continue to expand as well and keep rewarding more mediocre teams with a playoff spot.

Drew, any concerns growing with the Caps? They have lost 5 of last 6 and are 7-10 over last 17. Just a little mid-season slump that is normal part of the ebb and flow of a season or something more telling of them?

MFC     January 17
@JK, the recap comes at the end of the weekend with no games remaining, I think there's a game tonight at least the site owner has picked a winner for tonight so I'm sure there's one. Reading comprehension wasn't taught where you went to school? Hopefully it was not Calvert Hall, this was posted Saturday, "and it was a great start to the weekend for the faithful. Right now out of the hole, good luck."



Speaking of Calvert Hall congrats to Lou Eckerel on his announced retirement. We were combatants in high school and both stayed involved with sports. He is a really good man and outstanding coach and athletic director. I wish him well in his retirement, he's earned it.



Please get me out of your head trust me I'm not worth it.


James     January 17
Like "TimD", I had a profitable weekend thanks to Drew. Appreciate the "site owner" coming through! ha ha ha

If my math is correct Drew is now 51-44 picking games. I wonder what the peanut gallery thinks about that?

JK     January 17
4-1 for @DF yesterday and crickets from @MFC and @Billy and the rest of the doubting Thomas types. Poor sports.

unitastoberry     January 17
The mediocre football league MFL was on full display this weekend. Extra playoff teams and the 17 game season made for several run the score up games. Playoff series are for elite teams not mediocre teams. I was pretty glad at the outcome with NE, Cowgirls,Eagles,and Stillers all going home. It was a good year to root against PA teams which I always do and promises to get worse next year including Penn Pedo St getting butt kicked and signing their loser coach to a 10 year deal in UnHappy Valley. I don't care who wins now just hope they are all clutch games to the finish.

TimD in Timonium     January 17
Yesterday's Bucs / Niners / Chiefs parlay turned out pretty well. Thanks, @DF.

Eric in Gaithersburg     January 17
CJ- How am i backtracking? When did i say Manning would win with these scrubs. Of course its the players, recruited by lousy coach.

Bradley     January 16
So if one were a twitter follower- 49ers went from epic loss to NFC championship? Great insight!

Chris     January 16
Check that GM. Drew is now 4-1 ATS and 5-0 on the ML.

Stats Nerd     January 16
Mike McCarthy doing Mike McCarthy things. Nature is healing

Gm     January 16
@DF 3-1 ATS and 4-0 on the ML. Haters gotta be sick.

Billy     January 16
@MFC The faithful too busy allowing @Kevin to live in their heads lol....

MFC     January 16
Surprised the faithful didn't catch my mistake a rare mistake by them. I was wrong the DMD big bettors are not up $1,000 YTD they are actually down ($300).



Sorry for the error but also proves to the faithful that I'm not exactly hanging on every game and it was a great start to the weekend for the faithful. Right now out of the hole, good luck.

Jerryh     January 16
I was thinking the same thing as "KJ".

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Saturday
December 25, 2021
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2680


merry christmas, 2021!


To our readers who celebrate the Christmas holiday, I hope this finds you well and enjoying your Christmas morning.

Never before has the birth of a child been as anticipated, celebrated and impacted our world the way the birth of Jesus did. His is the greatest of all birthdays. His influence continues to be felt all over the world, not only today, but tomorrow, the next day and for as long as we all live.

"Oh come let us adore him...Christ, the Lord."

In our world of gift-giving and gift-receiving, let's always remember the greatest gift of all -- Jesus. It's through his birth, life and sacrifice that we are all afforded the possibility of eternal peace and life. Merry Christmas to all!

On this Christmas Day, we'll share an awesome testminioal video below from athletes and coaches who shared their faith with the world. As always, we thank our friends at Freestate Electrical for their continued support of #DMD and our "Faith in Sports" segment.



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10 gifts for christmas, sports style


From the world of baseball --

* Some decent, reliable young pitching for the Orioles. They can add Jordan Lyles and veteran arms all they want, but it's the likes of Grayson Rodriguez and D.L. Hall that we hope will eventually hatch in Baltimore and make the Baby Birds into a budding contender at some poin in the future.

* A full-season of baseball in 2022, absent labor strife and the like. Many of the small towns in Floriday rely heavily on the traffic and business of the 6-week spring training every February and March. They need a full season, too. Let's hope baseball's best gift is to itself. A gathering of players in February and all 162 games played in 2022.


From the world of golf --

One more Masters win for Tiger under the tree this morning?

* As we just saw last weekend at the Parent-Child golf championship, no one in golf moves the needle -- still -- more than Tiger Woods. Tiger needs one more win, just one, to become the TOUR's all-time leading tournament winner at 83. Anywhere will do, of course, but if Woods could somehow either do it at the Masters (tying Jack with 6 green jackets), Bay Hill (Arnold Palmer's event) or St. Andrews (British Open) that would be one awesome gift to the golf world.

* If Tiger can't win at Augusta, the next-best-gift would be a Rory McIlroy triumph. Not only would it complete the career grand slam for Rory, it would reward him for standing the test of time after several years of uneven golf. Much like Greg Norman, we say every year "Rory's going to win a Masters title...it's inevitable." Well, the clock continues to tick. 2022? Santa, please?

* Speaking of grand slams and all, how about Santa brings Jordan Spieth a win at this year's PGA Championship so he can join the likes of Tiger and Jack as a winner of all four major championships? The golf world would sure love to see it.


From the world of football --

* Another impressive first round pick from the Ravens next April, cut from the same mold as Rashod Bateman in 2021. As we've seen this year, offensive stars are a priority in the NFL, whether that's an offensive tackle, another tight end or a game-breaking wide receiver. May the Ravens continue to shine on draft day.

* The legacy of John Harbaugh won't be defined whether or not he wins this year's Coach of the Year award, but that's a gift Harbaugh truly deserves. Keeping the Ravens intact, together and still on the cusp of a division title are worthy of the honor. No one in the league has done a better job in 2021 than Harbs.


From the world of hockey --

* Alex Ovechkin can ill afford another Covid-shortened season in his pursuit of Wayne Gretzky's all-time goal scoring record. Here's hoping the NHL gifts itself a clean rest-of-the-season after this one-week hiatus and Ovi gets the full 82 games to produce the anticipated 40-50 goal season he's on pace to achieve.


From the world of college basketball --

* Towson University hasn't made the men's basketball tournament in 30 years. How about this year Santa gives Pat Skerry and his Tigers a berth in March Madness? Towson's off to a great start and conference play is right around the corner. Give Skerry and his team the ultimate gift, Santa.

* Maryland men's basketball will be bringing in a new coach in 2022 and the candidates will be lined up at the door for a chance to coach in College Park. The Terps' number one choice is Kevin Willard, the 46-year old head coach at Seton Hall. Others Maryland has an interest in include Anthony Grant and Eric Musselman. Here's hoping Santa gifts Maryland athletics one of their top choices and UM basketball can begin its climb to the top of the Big Ten.

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Friday
December 24, 2021
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2679


it's beginning to look a lot like christmas (?)


Longtime followers of #DMD know that today and tomorrow typically featured shorter, abridged versions of the website, unless the Ravens are playing on Christmas Eve.

This year is no different than the usual. We're here and all, but we like to take these two days to reflect mainly on the gifts we have and a little less about the sports we follow and cover.

We don't take two days off on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but we do "work from home", so to speak.

Oddly enough, the entire sports world is "off" today. With the cancellation of the Hawaii Bowl and the NHL going on a one-week hiatus and no NBA or college hoops being played, there are no sports being played on Christmas Eve, 2021. The only other days this would typically occur would be during the All-Star break in Major League Baseball (Wed. and Thurs.). Every other day of the year, we have sports to follow in our country.

It might be a blessing today to have no sports. Let's just gather with family and enjoy quality time together and reflect on the gift of life God has given us. That's better than watching sports today, I say.


I often think about my friends in California and Florida, specifically, during the Christmas season because they experience the holiday in a completely different fashion than I've ever experienced it.

My memory isn't great for these things, but I think, in my 58 years, I've seen snow on the ground in Baltimore on Christmas day a grand total of four times. I vaguely remember getting some kind of snow activity on Christmas Eve a decade or so ago, but we've never had one of those "movie scene snowfalls" on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day that I can remember.

I definitely remember a Christmas one year -- circa 1976, 1977 -- where a bunch of us treked to Lake Waterford in Pasadena for Christmas Eve hockey on the pond and it snowed that afternoon. I remember thinking "this is how every Christmas should be."

My sunny state friends? They'll wake up to 70 degrees and sunny today and tomorrow, and while that weather is certainly glorious -- particularly for late December -- I've often wondered if they're able to really, truly appreciate Christmas while walking around in shorts and a golf shirt.

And I guess it's worth nothing the friends I have in California and Florida all moved there from Baltimore and/or the east coast. It's not like "Christmas in the sunshine" is all they've ever known. Some of them spent time in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New York and, then, Baltimore, before heading for warming weather. Is Christmas the same for them as it is for the folks in Minnesota or North Dakota or Michigan? I wonder...

Even around here today, it's supposed to get close to 60 degrees. The texts from some friends started rolling in yesterday afternoon, wondering if I'd be up for playing golf today. 60 degrees on December 24 will do that to you, I guess. Alas, I'm unavailable today, no matter the temperature. I might stop up to Eagle's Nest to wish "Merry Christmas" to a few folks, but golf will be played another day.

If you and your family make it to a Christmas Eve or Christmas Day church service, please take a minute to say a special prayer for the soul of Baltimore City police officer Keona Holley, who was removed from life support yesterday, a week after suffering two gunshot wounds in an ambush attack in Curtis Bay.

That her killers were arrested shortly thereafter makes it no easier, but at the very least those two will no longer be on the streets terrorizing the community. Ms. Holley leaves behind four children and a community that needed her and her service. If there's anything we need to change in Baltimore in 2022 it's the endless cycle of murder we see all too regularly.

If we could give ourselves a gift on this Christmas Eve, it would be to fully understand the value of life around us. God put everyone on this planet he created to make a positive difference. That some do make a difference is pleasing to Him. That others don't saddens Him greatly. We need to do better. All of us.

May God grant eternal peace to Ms. Holley and her family.


There's only one legitimate sports topic to bring up today and tomorrow around here and you know what and who it involves: Tyler Huntley and the subject of being "the hot hand".

Lamar Jackson missed his 12th straight day of practice on Thursday. It seems unlikely, unless he somehow is a "full participant" today at practice, that Lamar won't play on Sunday vs. the Bengals. In that case, barring something bizarre (Covid-19), Tyler Huntley will get the starting nod in Cincinnati.

And now, we'll play the "hot hand" game.

If Huntley goes to Cincinnati on Sunday and has an outstanding game -- as in, the same kind of performance we saw from him vs. Green Bay last weekend -- and the Ravens win, what do you do the following Sunday when the Rams come to town if Lamar is ready to go?

This is not to suggest that Tyler Huntley is potentially going to "Wally Pipp" Lamar Jackson here in Baltimore. That's not going to happen. Huntley might very well be a starter somewhere next year, but it wouldn't be in Charm City. Lamar Jackson will be QB1 in Baltimore in 2022.

The question is one about the short term. If Huntley stacks up another quality performance on Sunday in Cincinnati, do you just roll him back out there the following Sunday vs. the Rams? Or does Lamar automatically get his job back against Los Angeles if he's healthy?

What say you?

Stick with Huntley next week or go back to Lamar?

And here's the thing: If you're willing to go the "hot hand" route and give Tyler the starting gig next Sunday vs. the Rams, you'd likely have to throw him back in there against the Steelers. Right? That's presuming he continues to play at the level we saw from him vs. Green Bay, of course.

Me? What would I do?

I'd go back to Lamar as soon as he's 100% healthy. I realize he's been, let's say, "uneven" the last two months or so, but I'm not a big believer in people losing their job or role due to injury. Oddly enough, that's precisely how Lamar snagged the job from Joe Flacco midway through the 2018 season, but that's neither here nor there.

As soon as Lamar is healthy enough to go at 100% efficiency, I'm going back to him. Your mileage may vary, though.


I hope all of you have a wonderful Christmas Eve celebration, whatever that might be.

My family of four will settle in for a nice meal, some Christmas related movies on TV, and gift wrapping, coffee (for the adults) and hot chocolate (for the kids). We'll take in Christmas Eve mass and celebrate the birth of the most influential person in the history of the world, Jesus.

Please stay safe and healthy and enjoy your holiday season.

Merry Christmas to all!

DF

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Thursday
December 23, 2021
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2678


how's it all going to end?


The NFL, as we know, is completely crazy.

The team everyone sorta-kinda assumed was the one most likely to win the title lost at home last Sunday night, 9-0, to a team with a hybrid quarterback and their head coach watching the game at home in his living room.

Arizona went into Detroit, where the Lions were 1-11-1, and got blistered, 30-12. The Cardinals entered the contest at 10-3 and riding high in the NFC. They didn't lose last Sunday 20-17 on a last second field goal or something like that. They were run out of the gym. By the Lions.

Every week, results occur like the ones we saw in Tampa Bay or Detroit in week 15. It goes against the grain of everything we expect, which is one reason why the guys who run the casinos in Vegas all drive expensive cars and live in nice houses.

Have late season injuries in Tampa Bay reduced the possibility of this Super Bowl match-up in February?

So...how will everything unfold in the final three weekends of the season? We're here to tell you. Someone needs to cut this out and paste it on their refrigerator, please. Circle back here on January 10 and let me know how I did, will ya?

AFC East -- It's all New England (9-5) and Buffalo (8-6) at this point. Yes, that means we're discounting the Dolphins, who are 7-7 but are likely to finish either 7-10 or 8-9. Either way, Miami's spirited second-half run will leave them short of the post-season. New England will lose to the Bills this Sunday in Foxborough and win their final two (vs. Jacksonville, at Miami) to end the campaign at 11-6. The Bills will win their last three (at New England, home vs. Atlanta and NY Jets) to finish 11-6 as well.

Buffalo -- who will split the season series with the Patriots -- will win the division based on a 5-1 record in AFC East play vs. New England's 4-2 mark. The Patriots will be a wild card team based on their 9-3 conference record.


AFC South -- The injury-riddled Titans (9-5) are holding on for dear life at this point, as the Colts (8-6) continue to mount a serious charge. Tennessee will lose at home tonight to the 49'ers but then win their final two (vs. Miami, at Houston) to end the campaign at 11-6. The Colts will win their last three (at Arizona this Saturday, vs. Las Vegas, at Jacksonville) to also finish 11-6.

The Titans win the division based on a 2-0 series record vs. the Colts. Indianapolis will join the Patriots as a wild card team based on their 9-3 conference mark.


AFC West -- Kansas City (10-4) will squeak past the Steelers this Sunday and then easily beat Cincy and Denver to finish the campaign with the best conference record at 13-4. The Chargers (8-6) will beat the Texans this Sunday and handle the Broncos on January 2 but will fall to the Raiders on the final day of the regular season to post a 10-7 mark.

Kansas City wins the division. The Chargers get in as the final wild card team in the AFC at 10-7.


AFC North -- All four teams technically still have a chance to win the division, but it's going to come down to this Sunday's game in Cincinnati...and, because we believe in making you come back around on Sunday for the good stuff...we'll abstain from giving you our AFC North picks until Sunday.

But we will tell you this: Only one team in the AFC North is going to make the post-season. There's a teaser for you.


NFC --

NFC East -- Dallas (10-4) finishes the season beating Washington and Arizona at home and then wins their season finale in overtime at Philadelphia to to post a 13-4 record. The Eagles (7-7) beat the Giants, lose at Washington, and fall to Dallas to end the campaign at 8-9.

The Cowboys waltz to the division crown. The Eagles miss the post-season by virtue of their loss to Dallas in the final regular season game.


NFC South -- If not for a cakewalk schedule in the last three weeks, the Buccaneers (10-4) would be in trouble. That said, it wouldn't be surprising to see them somehow lose one of their final games (at Panthers, at Jets, home vs. Panthers). We'll say they hang on and win all three, though, to finish at 13-4. The Saints (7-7) beat the Dolphins and Panthers in New Orleans, but lose at Atlanta in the season finale to end the year at 9-8.

Tampa Bay finishes as the #2 seed based on their head-to-head win over Dallas. New Orleans finishes 9-8 and misses the playoffs by virtue of a strength of schedule tiebreaker with Minnesota after both teams end the campaign at 6-6 in conference play. (Editor's note: We're not 100% sure on this. We did the tiebreaker breakdown over two glasses of Chianti last night and our math got a little fuzzy at the end.)


NFC West -- This division is.....insane. The Rams (10-4) finish the campaign at 12-5 after beating the Vikings in Minnesota, losing in Baltimore and beating the 49'ers in Los Angeles. Arizona (10-4) loses at home to Indianapolis, falls at Dallas, then beats the Seahawks in Arizona to finish the season at 11-6. San Francisco (8-6) beats the Titans in Tennessee tonight, crushes Houston at home, and loses in L.A. to the Rams to finish the season at 10-7.

The Rams win the division at 12-5. Arizona snags a wild-card spot at 11-6, as does San Francisco (10-7).


NFC North -- Green Bay (11-3) cruises through their final three games (Cleveland and Minnesota at home, Detroit on the road) and wins the division and secures the #1 seed in the NFC at 14-3. Minnesota (7-7) beats the Rams at home, loses to the Packers in Green Bay, and beats the Bears at home to end the year at 9-8. They earn the third wild card spot in the NFC by virtue of a strength of victory tiebreaker over New Orleans (see our above mentioned Chianti-influenced disclaimer, please).


So there you have it, for the most part.

In the AFC, the Chiefs finish up as the #1 seed. We can't go through the rest of the AFC because we don't want to spoil our AFC North pick, but the other five AFC playoff teams are Buffalo, New England, Tennessee, Indianapolis and the Chargers.

In the NFC, it's Green Bay in the #1 slot, followed by Tampa Bay, Dallas and the L.A. Rams as division winners. The three wild card teams are Arizona, San Francisco and Minnesota.

What happens after that? The way we see it now, we're headed for a return visit by the Chiefs, but don't discount the Colts working their way through the bracket and making it out of the AFC.

The injuries in Tampa Bay will keep them from a repeat trip to the big game. We're leaning towards Green Bay getting out of the NFC as long as Clark and Bakhtiari are back and healthy in January. Getting to L.A. for the Super Bowl will be quite a jump for Aaron Rodgers. You might remember he's not been all that great in NFC Conference Championship games in his career.

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it seems inevitable


Maybe this one can be filed under "Don't wish for it, because you might get it."

For the better part of the Ravens' first dozen years in Baltimore, they longed for their own, home grown franchise quarterback. The word eventually morphed into "elite" instead of "franchise", for some reason or the other.

Then in 2008, along came Joe Flacco. And the Ravens had their quarterback. The argument of whether Flacco was elite or not took on several iterations in his decade long run in Baltimore. He was effective most of the time, outstanding some of the time, and had a historic month in 2013 that helped the Ravens to their second Super Bowl title.

Injuries and the inevitable career decline started to surface circa 2016 and Flacco got "Wally Pipp'd" by Lamar Jackson midway through the 2018 campaign.

For a while, though, the Ravens had their franchise quarterback. And eventually, after that Super Bowl win, they had to pay the freight. They paid it to the tune of about $125 million.

At some point the Ravens are going to have to pay Lamar or risk losing him. But how much? And for how long?

Flacco deserved that contract, most would argue. He had, after all, gambled on his own value the year before by literally turning down a $91 million offer because his bottom line, "can't go below this number" was......$92 million. So he waited it out, won the Super Bowl, and made another $30 million plus because he wouldn't budge.

The Ravens drafted Lamar Jackson 2018 and hoped he would be the "next man up" after Flacco's days were done in Baltimore. Perhaps the scouts and front office folks really thought Lamar could emerge into a legit, league-MVP quarterback right away or maybe they were taking a flyer on him when they made a deal to snag him with the last pick in the first round of the '18 draft. We'll never know what they *really* thought, but it doesn't matter now.

Lamar Jackson is an elite NFL quarterback.

And at some point in the next 18 months, the Ravens will have to pay him as such.

And therein lies the inevitable argument in Baltimore, one we're already starting to read and hear all over town.

Keep Lamar and pay him the going rate for a top 5 NFL quarterback (somewhere between $40M and $50M annually most likely) or let him go get that from another team and start the quarterback process all over again?

That he can be retained for a "bargain" in 2022 is a formality. He'd cost $24 million or so next year, but in 2023, he's a free agent and available to the highest bidder.

Let him play out '22 and see how it goes, which risks both offending him and costing you even more money if he -- like Flacco in 2013 -- takes the team to the Super Bowl next season (or even this season)?

Or sign him now (this off-season) and pour $250 million or more into him for five or six years and hope he continues to play at the level we've seen over the last couple of seasons?

The Ravens wanted an elite quarterback all along. They got one. Now what do you do with him?

There's a camp in Baltimore who thinks it's even ridiculous to consider anything but signing him.

"Give him whatever he wants," some are saying.

"He's earned one of those top contracts like Mahomes and Allen received. Give the man his money," we're hearing.

But is it really that easy?

This, I think, is where the real story penetrates the Baltimore football fan.

Some people think you shouldn't even consider the scenario. "It's offensive to even think about not giving him the $40 million per-year deal," some folks are saying on the radio or social media.

And this is where I say -- "It's never offensive, ever, to thoroughly review the decision to give someone on your team -- anyone, at any position -- $40 million or $50 million per season."

I am a Lamar Jackson fan. Through and through. I think he's an incredibly gifted and talented athlete. I'm not sure he's a *great* quarterback yet, but I definitely know he's a great *football player*. And that might very well be good enough to cough up the money that will be required to retain him for 5 or 6 years.

But I also don't see any harm in seeing how the 2021 and 2022 seasons play out. We're not talking a 4-year deal worth $36 million here. If that were the case, you might not worry too much about 2022. We're talking a contract that will not only need to be dealt with from a financial standpoint with the owner (Do any of you have $60 million laying around to wire into Lamar's account when he signs his deal?), but a contract that could (notice: could) have major ramifications on the team's salary cap for years to come.

I think the Ravens should sign Lamar Jackson.

But I also think the Ravens should do every bit of due diligence they can to make sure he's a $40 million or $50 million quarterback. And they shouldn't do that with guesswork. They should do it by continuing to watch him play and monitoring his rate of improvement along the way. Contrary to popular belief in town, there *are* things Lamar still needs to do better as a NFL quarterback. He's not Tom Brady.

If you noticed, I wrote that entire piece without mentioning the other guy in town who is currently the back up to Lamar and might wind up playing this Sunday's key game in Cincinnati. I didn't mention him because I'm fairly certain he doesn't need to be mentioned in the discourse of Lamar's value.

If, somehow, it comes to pass the Ravens don't think Lamar is a $40 million per-season quarterback, then "the other guy" comes into play or another QB gets drafted, etc. But the first order of business for the Ravens should be determining what they believe Lamar's value is and starting there.

And contrary to some opinions around town...there's nothing wrong -- at all -- with doing a deep dive before you shell out $250 million or more for a football player. Any football player.

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Wednesday
December 22, 2021
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2677


so....that's bourbon?


You know I've had a fairly limited life when I can admit to trying three new things in the last four months of 2021.

In September, for the first time ever, I had a deviled egg. A close friend's daughter got married in Washington D.C. and the deviled eggs were part of the pre-reception happy hour. Two glasses of wine into the night, a young lady stopped by our group and said, "Deviled eggs?"

"I've never had one of those in my life and I'm sure not starting tonight!" I said. Two or three people laughed.

"Come on man, you've never had a deviled egg, ever?" one of them asked.

"Nope, never," I confirmed.

And with a little friendly arm twisting and the promise of a third glass of an amazing Bourdeaux they were serving, I went ahead and did it. I ate a deviled egg.

It was OK. Nothing more. I won't be eating any of them down the road, I can say that for sure. But it wasn't terrible, either. It was just OK.

Editor's note: I'll take a second here to ask you to check out the gracious offer from our friends at Royal Farms. If you're a ROFO Rewards member, you'll get free coffee on Christmas Day!!! If you haven't tried Royal Farms coffee yet (see the theme here?), you should get yourself into a Royal Farms and try their coffee!! It's outstanding.

Last month while I was in San Diego for a golf tournament, tournament organizers put out an awesome lunch spread on Saturday at Torrey Pines. And for the first time in my life, I had guacamole. You probably don't believe that, just like the friends at the table didn't believe it at the time. But it was true. Until that afternoon, I'd never before had guacamole. And this particular guacamole was delicious. So much so, in fact, that I went back and piled on more chips and guacamole.

And then last night, for the first time ever......I had bourbon. My friend Chris Saffer of Saffer Plumbing is also involved in a bit of a family enterprise right here in good old Baltimore that makes bourbon. They had an event at McAvoy's in Parkville, which is a driver and a hard 4-iron (as the crow flies) from my house. So I ventured over to say hi and support the night and when I got there, Chris was shocked to find out I'd never before tasted bourbon.

"You've come to the right place," he said with a smile.

The bourbon product they were sampling and selling last night is called "Montebello". I'm no bourbon expert, so I can't tell you anything about it the way I'd be able to give you some details on a nice glass of red wine you were sampling with me. But I can say this: the bourbon I tasted last night was enjoyable. I don't think it will be replacing red wine as my favorite or anything like that, but I can say without hesitation that it won't be the last time I have bourbon in my life.

For those in the area, Total Wine on Loch Raven Blvd. is selling Montebello and a number of other high end wine/liquor retailers in the area also carry it.

So in September it was deviled eggs (no thanks), November it was guacamole (yes!) and December it was bourbon (I'll be back!). Three new things in my life. I need to make a pledge to try something new once a month in 2022. I'll keep you updated.

By the way, I've still never seen one second of a Star Wars movie. Not one second.


On March 12, 2020, my Calvert Hall golf team defeated St. John's of D.C. in our first match (non-conference) of the season, 17-4. It was after that match I delivered my players the bad news. The Governor was closing all schools for at least 14 days effective the following Monday. Our season was being put on hold.

I remember saying to the players, "Let's see what happens in the next two weeks. Hopefully we'll get this thing under control in the next two weeks and we can get back together and continue on with the season."

That didn't happen, of course.

And, well, here we are now, on December 22, 2021, and Covid-19 is still a significant disruption in our lives in the United States. This is not in any way meant to be shaped into a political discussion. The virus is still here, people are still not only getting it but suffering from it, and sports is once again started to feel a major impact from it all.

The NHL is shutting down for the rest of the week, starting today, to try and get a grip on how to handle the rest of their season. My guess is they might reconfigure the schedule, if that's possible, and limit travel as much as possible. Although the owners wouldn't want to do it -- particularly without the support of another government-funded PPE program -- shutting off the arena to spectactors is probably something the various leagues are considering as well.

The NFL has played two weeks worth of games now that have largely been impacted by Covid-19. The Browns and Washington Football Team both played games this week with a grocery-bagger as their quarterback. The Browns, like the Ravens, have been ravaged with Covid-19 issues. Their season might have seriously been altered with Monday's 16-14 loss to an otherwise fairly healthy Raiders team. You can argue the Browns dug their own hole with "other" losses along the way, but there's no denying that Covid-19 has hurt them -- and the Ravens -- over the last couple of weeks.

Will the NFL just keep forging ahead? The relaxing of Covid-19 testing for vaccinated players (some of whom could very well have asymptomatic Covid) seems to suggest the NFL isn't considering a stoppage or delay in the regular season. They need these games to finish and they need that Super Bowl in Los Angeles to be played on February 13. There's money to be made, after all.

The NBA is just going ahead as if it's 2018 all over again. Maybe they'll wind up being the smart ones? Who knows...

And college basketball has already been littered with cancellations and game postponements and new teams coming to town who weren't supposed to be on the schedule but the tickets have been sold and "by golly, we're gonna play a basketball game here in this arena tonight!"

Meanwhile, Covid-19 numbers at colleges all over the country have gone through the roof over the last three weeks. It can't be a surprise that Covid-19 is impacting college basketball in that case, right?

I have a friend who works in the medical field whose wife has been involved in a signficant study in Washington D.C. over the last eight months. I'm not breaking any news when I share this, I don't think, but the study (which apparently will be published in early January) suggests the Covid-19 variant will be with us here in some shape or form until 2024. So we all have that going for us...which is nice.

In the meantime, football games are still scheduled for this weekend and fans -- at least as of now -- are still going to be allowed to gather en masse and tailgate, share common space, huddle next to one another in the stands, and yell and scream for the home team. I can't say that's right or wrong because it's very much a "horses for courses" ordeal.

Last spring when the vaccine started making the rounds, people here wondered about going back to the stadium in September.

I suggested that I wasn't sure I was ready for that. I did venture out to Camden Yards in August to see the Orioles take on Shohei and the Angels, but, like most Orioles home games these days, I had an entire lower deck row all to myself (along with my son). I didn't feel Covid-threatened that night.

But I've flown on an airplane four times in 2021 and never once felt totally comfortable on the plane or in the airport. I most certainly wouldn't feel comfortable in a stadium surrounded by 70,000 other people. And I have the vaccine and the booster and if they offer another booster, I'd sign up for that one as well.

I don't know what else to say about Covid-19 that hasn't been said already. It's here. It's not going anywhere. At some point, it would seem we're all bound to test positive for it. The severity of our/your case remains to be seen. I just keep assuming at some point I'm going to get it and that way I won't be shocked when I do.

I try the same concept in golf, by the way. If I'm four over through 12 holes I just assume I'm going to make 2 or 3 birdies coming in to salvage my round. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, but I'm prepared for it at least.

Anyway, I had a (vaccinated) friend test positive recently and get wrecked by it and spend three days in the hospital. He's a 32-year old completely healthy, athletically-inclined male. And he spent three days in GMBC last week. "I honestly didn't know if I was going to make it," he said to me.

I've also had a friend get Covid (vaccinated, early 40's) within the last month who had two days of very mild home-bound discomfort and was feeling good as new within roughly 24 hours after his fever broke. "Nothing to it," he said to me.

The various leagues and commissioners have quite the dilemma on their hands, particularly since all of the seasons are well underway and tickets and sponsorships have been sold under the guise that the entire season is going to be played in its entirety.

Baseball might wind up being the lucky ones. They can spend the next few months planning for the 2022 season as a 162-game campaign, a 130-game campaign or an 80-game campaign. And they have a lockout to deal with too, don't forget.

Above all else, stay safe out there. Monitor your surroundings and protect yourself and your family as best you can.

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The Stats Nerd
And His Numbers


Contributed by #DMD's data and numbers analyst
The Stats Nerd


I am away on the west coast this week so I'm missing what I'm sure is riveting, well reasoned talk radio back in Charm City. Or perhaps not.

I think Drew has done a good job hitting on all the salient points related to the local and national discourse. Frankly, I’m a little done with all of the 2 point and 4th down talk so I’m not going to rehash it again (though I do briefly get into it).

This week's column will be an abbreviated version with a few thoughts on random things of interest, sports analytics or not.

2 Point Mania --

When I started talking to Drew about this column last summer, I wouldn't have believed there would be this much analytics driven discussion across the NFL. The last week or so in particular has been rather exhausting with both sides stating their case and neither side really listening to the other. The back and forth really can be mind numbing.

Did Harbs bungle the fourth quarter last Sunday by not going for two after TD1?

This past Sunday, John Harbaugh DID make a fairly big error. He even admitted to the error after the fact. The error was not going for 2 after TD1 cut the lead to 8 points.

As I stated back in an earlier piece, going for 2 after TD1 increases the teams WP% by as much as 12.5% (assuming 50% success rate). Even at a 35% 2 Point success rate there is a marginal increase in WP%.

Harbs didn't go that route and it may have cost the Ravens the game. As it was, he elected (with player buy-in) to go for 2 after TD2 and…well we all know how it ended. Based on his comments after the game I know he wished he would have gone for two after TD1.

Now I see hot takes across my Twitter feed about Harbaugh’s ego crushing the Ravens chances. I see hot takes that the math nerds are being put in their place. I see takes saying that this is what they get for trying to reinvent football. To that I say, "whatever".

There are ebbs and flows to the results just like there are ebbs and flows to the NFL season. The inability to see the long term based on short term results is a flaw not unique to just sports fans.

Regardless of how the Ravens got to this point in the season it kinda, sorta feels like they are where they should be. There are a few games they probably should have won but didn't (Vegas, Pitt), a few they probably should have lost but didn't (Indy, Minn) and a handful of close games that could have gone either way (KC, Det, CLE x 2, Chi, GB). Strange year with strange results but 8-6 seems about right.


All Or Nothing --

I recently ripped through two seasons of the All or Nothing series on Amazon Prime and am VERY impressed. It’s a sports documentary series in the vein of HBOs Hard Knocks.

Specifically, I watched two seasons worth featuring Premier League teams Manchester City and Tottenham. I know very little about soccer or the PL but found the show endlessly fascinating.

The series might have even made me a (very) casual fan of Man City. I find myself looking to see how they did on Saturdays and trying to figure out how the whole Champions League competition within a season works.

The Premier League is massive in the UK obviously. It’s remarkable how many different nationalities are represented on the pitch. Not something we Americans are used to seeing with our version of football.

If you grow a bit tired of all the holiday festivities or family gatherings give the series a shot. I thought it was a good, quick watch. It can be found on Amazon Prime.

Bonus viewing: if you like the All or Nothing series, Netflix has its own offering called Sunderland Til I Die. It’s a more sobering version of the same concept and features Sunderland Football as they struggle to fight relegation two years in a row. The difference in the soccer economy between the haves like Manchester City and the have nots like Sunderland is striking.


The Boss Sells --

Like Drew, I'm a huge music guy. He would probably classify my musical preferences as “weirder” than his, however. I prefer more indie oriented artists than mainstream ones.

Amongst the artists that I listen to, the worst thing one can be labeled is a "sell out". The idea that an artist can be creative AND make a good living is apparently a non-starter for many fans. I've always thought that was BS but believe me when I say there is something of a bias against artists that actually become...well...popular.

Bruce Springsteen sold the rights to this album and the rest of musical catalog earlier this month, as SONY paid him $500 million.

Last week Bruce Springsteen, one of the most popular music artists of the last half-century, sold his song rights for a whopping $500 Million. For the Glen Burnie High School graduates amongst us, that's...a lot...of...money.

Of course, Bruce has been a successful artist for nearly 50 years. He's made millions and millions of dollars. He puts on legendary live shows, released countless best selling albums and has a large and loyal following. He's not really my cup of tea but clearly I'm in the minority.

The idea that a man at the absolute tippity-top of his craft shouldn't be entitled to the fruits of his labor is utterly asinine to me. And yet there seems to be a vocal minority that are angry he sold the rights to his music.

Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio are two of the best and most successful actors of their generation. Got a good script and $30M? You MIGHT have a shot at these two superstars.

They get that kind of money because they are worth it. They attract eyeballs the same way The Boss attracts listeners. Show business is big business that rewards the very best whether that's Bruce or Brad or Leo or Scarlett Johannson.

(Full disclosure: whatever you think of my opinions on sports and analytics, tax and finance is what I do in “real life”. Money is my wheelhouse so to speak)

Another thing about the sale of the rights that irrationally irks me is the repeated claim that Bruce is now $500M wealthier after the sale. Nope. Not in the least.

His wealth didn't change by a penny. He simply traded a catalog of music for a pile of greenbacks. One asset for a different asset.

He certainly became more liquid with the recent sale, but in no way did he become more wealthy. In fact, because the sale is a taxable event, he more than likely is LESS wealthy on paper now than he was before the sale.

For what it's worth, the sale likely benefits from long term capital gain treatment. My estimate is that the tax bite between Federal, NJ and various additional surtaxes is that he will pay 33-35% in tax on that sale. In real dollars that’s about $166M to Uncle Sam and the various other taxing authorities.

Of course, there is currently a bill in Congress (struggling though it is) that may have increased his tax by roughly another 8% if he had waited and sold in 2022. 8% doesn’t sound TOO terrible but on $500M that’s another $40M. Wowsers.

I’ll be back next week with a more “normal” column. I wonder if anything will happen between now and then worthy of discussion?

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Open Again
Tuesday
December 21, 2021
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2676


crazy thoughts


Just throwing these things out there for you to chew on and opine, if you feel so moved.

There's nothing like listening to talk radio the day after a Ravens game. At one point in my life, I did it for 12 straight years and remember those mornings quite fondly. "Vividly" is probably a better word than "fondly", in all fairness, because having folks call in to scream about the ineffective play of Kyle Boller or Anthony Wright was only fun for about three weeks or so.

Everyone has an answer or an opinion, of course, which is why talk radio has held serve in this town. It's a shame the powers-that-be don't allow more people to get through and air their thoughts, though. Instead, the hosts take up most of time, with an occasional "expert" chiming in as a guest.

On some occasions, the whole "guest appearance" thing becomes nothing more than a scene out of professional wrestling. It's so badly and obviously contrived that you have to laugh while you're listening.

Yesterday was a perfect example. The two show hosts spent the better part of 15 minutes bashing Harbaugh and Roman, first for the decision to go for two points at the end of Sunday's game and second, for the "horrendous play call" on the conversion itself. It was like a tennis match. One host screeched about Harbaugh for three minutes. And when he ran out of breath, the other would bark about Roman's decision to have Tyler Huntley roll out to his right on the ill-fated conversion throw. A few minutes later, they'd go back to Harbaugh bashing, then they'd get back to screaming about Roman.

That went on for 15 minutes. Then we got some great news. "We're going to step out for a break now (Thank you, Lord) and when we come back, the football expert (whatever his name was, I honestly was so put off by that point I was considering switching over to The Springsteen Channel on Sirius/XM) will join us and give us his thoughts on yesterday's loss to the Packers."

And, as promised a few minutes later, on came the football expert. And guess what he did? Take a guess...

He spent his 15 minute segment bashing the coaching of Harbaugh and Roman.

It was on-air wrestling radio at its best. Just when you thought the expert might offer a different take or opinion, he turned heel and threw salt in everyone's eyes while the referee wasn't looking. And we were treated to another 15 minutes of screeching and yelling about how Harbaugh has "no feel" for the game and Roman "can't cook up a decent play...just ask Steve Smith."

I would love to know, honestly, if the people in charge at the radio station think the expert guest is better radio or people calling in to give their opinions is better radio? I guess we know the answer, but I don't think I agree. Now, in fairness, my former boss thought having people call in was dumb, too. "I know far more than they know," he would remind us quite often. "Listening to them b**ch and complain gets us nowhere."

I always thought the people listening in their car actually "deserved" the opportunity to participate. But that was me. And that was then and this is now.

For sure, these days, the experts calling in from parts unknown are clearly more of a priority to the station than the people listening. Much like the manner in which they disagree with John Harbaugh.......I disagree with them.


Speaking of John Harbaugh, here's a crazy thought that I'm sure won't get an ounce of movement, but I'm going to float it out there anyway just for kicks and giggles. And because I believe it, too.

Harbaugh for MVP in 2021?

Harbaugh is the Ravens' MVP this season.

Mark Andrews is going to wind up being the team's MVP, I assume. And he's not a terrible choice in the least.

But John Harbaugh is, without question, the "most valuable performer" on the 2021 Ravens. And it's not even close.

I know, I know. There's no way to give him the award. A coach isn't even eligible, by most standards. I get it.

But that doesn't change the fact that Harbaugh is the most valuable performer this season in the wake of everything he's had to deal with and the way he's kept the team together since training camp injuries started to pile up.

Like I said, it's a crazy thought. But it's also "the right thought" as well.

A head coach as the team's MVP? This year, in Baltimore, that's a "yes".


More on Harbaugh for just a second and then we'll move on to another topic. Did you see yesterday's highlight clip distributed by the Ravens where Harbaugh met with several offensive players in the 4th quarter to discuss the 2 point conversion idea?

The Ravens and the NFL won't allow us to post it here, unfortunately, so you'll need to do 20 seconds of research and you'll find it. It's "everywhere" on the web, including Twitter.

Harbaugh approaches the bench and says, to what looks to be Tyler Huntley and Lamar Jackson, "When we score the second touchdown do you want to go for two and try and win it right there?"

He gets his answer right away. "Go for two."

Once they scored the touchdown to make it 31-30, Harbaugh seems content, himself, on kicking the extra point. He asks his guys upstairs what they think. They have the data on hand, of course, and he has obligated himself to analytics numerous times over the last three or four seasons.

He then gathers the offensive players near the sideline and asks them: "What do you guys want to do?" It's a remarkable piece of in-game-footage and an up close view on why Harbaugh will go to the Hall of Fame someday. He's willing to let his players essentially make the call but it's THEIR outcome, even though he knows he's going to get all the blame if it doesn't work.

You can almost hear it in his voice. "We can take this thing to overtime," he says. "We're in good shape." It's as if he wants them to say, "Yeah, coach, you know what. We've fought tooth and nail with these guys today. Let's take our chances in overtime."

The analytics suggest going for it. Harbaugh's gut might have told him to kick the extra point. He needed a tiebreaker vote. So he went to the players.

"Let's win this thing right now," someone said. He asks again. "Is that what you guys want to do?"

And they confirmed it. So Harbaugh went with that, because that's what you do when you ask the players what they want to do and they give you an answer. Sometimes it might not be the answer you wanted to hear, but you asked...

Harbaugh giving his players the ability to have input there is the ultimate player-coach relationship. Fans might scream, "Noooo, you're paid to coach and make those decisions!" But what Harbaugh is really paid to do is get the team together, keep the team together, and make the team feel like they're all in it together. And that's what he did in that moment on Sunday night.

You can tell by the way Mark Andrews consoles Harbaugh after the failed two pointer that the tight end knows all too well that the coach is going to get roasted for another one of his decisions that didn't work out.

"You did the right thing," Andrews says with sadness in his voice.

That the play didn't work has almost no bearing at all on the scenario of asking the players for their input. The Ravens could have kicked the extra point and lost in overtime and there would have been something else that happened in the sudden-death session (a controversional decision, in other words) that also would have needed defending or explaining.

But in that moment at the end of the game, Harbaugh turned the team and the result over to the players themselves, which was a masterful slice of coaching. It is, after all, THEIR game and THEIR result. The coach can lead them there, but in the end it's their performance that matters more than anything else.


On one of the rare occasions a listener was allowed to chime in yesterday, the caller presented a "crazy thought" take that seemed wildly out of this world.

"How many first round picks could DeCosta get for Lamar?" the caller asked.

"Because if he can get two first round picks and a couple of second round picks for Lamar, the Ravens should do it."

The caller went on to say that he didn't think Huntley is the answer at quarterback, by the way. He said, simply, Lamar's value right now is probably at its highest and the Ravens don't have much time left to showcase him.

His idea was quickly poo-poo'd, of course. "No team would give you two first round picks for him when he's in the last year of his contract," was the response.

"Well, give us a first rounder and a bunch of second rounders then," came the counter offer from the caller.

I don't think I'd do that deal for Lamar. A first rounder and two second rounders? Nah...

But four picks in the first two rounds for him? I might have to bite that hook.

Would you take a first round pick in '22, a second round pick in '22, and first round pick in '23 and a second round pick in '23 for Lamar right now?

Hmmmmmmmmm...

You'd be without a "real" starting quarterback at that point, keep in mind. You might consider Huntley for the job or you'd have to go find a college QB and start the whole process over again. But two first rounders and two second rounders? That's some draft capital right there.

Keep in mind, you'd also have to find a team desperate enough for a quarterback to fork over four picks for Lamar. Is there someone out there that crazy? I bet there is. Teams do dumb stuff with their draft picks all the time. See: Los Angeles Rams.


And there's nothing crazy about this thought, but if you're a bourbon lover (or, even, "liker"), our friends at Saffer Plumbing are involved in a cool event tonight at McAvoy's in Parkville from 8 to 10 pm.

Chris Saffer is not only a master plumber, he loves bourbon too! And his newest project, "Montebello Bourbon" will be available for taste testing and purchase tonight at McAvoy's. There's also free engraving on the bottle if you buy it tonight. If you have a bourbon lover in your family, this might make for a great holiday gift!

I'll be out there to sample and taste test as well. And I'm not even sure I like bourbon! But I'm excited to see what Chris has done with this other venture in his life!

Come on out to McAvoy's in Parkville tonight from 8 pm to 10 pm and enjoy a night of bourbon tasting and supporting a local business.

BARCS banner ad

RANDY MORGAN
on American soccer


Americans are playing more and more of a vital role in international soccer these days, and Randy Morgan has his eyes on all of them for #DMD. Each Tuesday here, he looks at recent performances of American players and highlights upcoming games of importance.


u.s. men's national team stock report


This week, most of the key USMNT players were playing with their clubs in Europe, while the MLS based players met for a training camp and exhibition game with Bosnia and Herzegovina. It wasn’t a great week for the Americans abroad, as not many had standout performances, but a few of the players on the fringe of the roster improved their stock with strong outings for their clubs.

On Saturday night a “B” team version of the US composed mostly of MLS based players took on a mostly under 23 Bosnia and Herzegovina team in California. The exhibition game was about as meaningless as they get, with the training camp and the game just designed to keep the MLS contingent fit and sharp between the end of their season and the upcoming January qualifiers.

Is Ricardo Pepi's stock declining within the U.S. men's soccer team?

Gregg Berhalter’s lineup choices reinforced that purpose, with most of the playing time going to the veteran players who are most likely to contribute in January. There were a few cameos towards the end of the game from some promising young players, but on the whole the game was more of a training exercise than a competition.

With that in mind, the performance left a lot to be desired. Many of the players seemed a bit rusty after a few weeks off since the end of the MLS season. The US dominated possession, especially after Bosnia and Herzegovina had a player sent off late in the first half with a red card. However, the Americans struggled to generate many dangerous chances from the possession and rarely challenged the Bosnian keeper.

Bosnia and Herzegovina played extremely defensive after the red card, bunkering deep in their own end and making it even more difficult for the US to penetrate in the attacking zone. It took until the final minutes of regulation for the US to finally break down their defense. Substitute left back Jonathan Gomez hit a low hard shot from just outside the box that forced a save from the keeper and midfielder Cole Bassett put back the rebound to give the US a 1-0 win.


Stock Up --

The best American performance this week came from Switzerland. Striker Jordan Pefok delivered a dominant performance, pouring in four goals for Young Boys in a 5-0 win over Lugano. Pefok scored two headed goals, another with his right foot in the box and one from a penalty kick. He also won all seven of his one on one duels and every header he contested. His best goal of the night saw him drop back towards midfield to receive the ball and play through a teammate then continue his run into the box to get to a cross and head it home.

Pefok has been left off the last few US rosters, but plays like that one can demonstrate to Coach Berhalter that Pefok can do some of the buildup work that the coach requires of his strikers. If Pefok can continue to find the back of the net at a high rate, he will be tough to leave home in January.

Another player on the fringe of the roster continued a strong run of performances in Belgium. Mark McKenzie got his third start in a row at center back for Genk in their 1-1 draw with Royal Antwerp. The former Philadelphia Union product won nearly all of his one on one duels and was solid in the air throughout the game. He was one of the best players on the field for Genk against one of the other top teams in the league. There is a pretty healthy competition for center back spots in January with no clear cut choices among McKenzie, Chris Richards, Walker Zimmerman and John Brooks.

In Italy, Weston McKennie returned from injury and jumped right back into the starting lineup for Juventus. The Texan delivered a solid performance in a 2-0 win over Bologna. His quick return to the lineup highlights his importance to the historic Italian team.

There was a dearth of positive performances in the game against Bosnia and Herzegovina. One player who turned some heads was 18 year old left back Jonathan Gomez. Despite getting just a short cameo appearance off the bench, he managed to find himself in a dangerous position and delivered a strong shot to set up the US goal in the pivotal moment of the game.

The teenage prospect is heading to Spain to join Real Sociedad in January. He will likely start with their reserve team with the hopes of working his way up to the first division team. Gomez is eligible for both the US and Mexico, so it was good to see him get an opportunity on the field for the stars and stripes.

Another notable performer from Saturday was Jordan Morris. The Seattle attacker did not have a great game, but he nearly opened the scoring in the first half with a header that was kept out by a nice diving save from the goalie. After missing over a year with a bad leg injury, it was good to see Morris back out on the field and looking like his old self. He has some tough competition to work his way back into the attacker pool, but his great athleticism could be an asset for the US if he regains his form.


Stock Down --

Some bad news came out of Catalonia this week, where Sergino Dest missed Barcelona’s match with an adductor injury. There is no official word on the timeline for the injury yet, but it adds another name to the list of key players in jeopardy of missing the January qualifiers. Prior to the injury Dest seemed to have fallen out of favor with new coach Xavi and there have been rumors he may be on the way out of Barcelona in January. It's definitely a situation to monitor for the starting US right back.

Among the more disappointing players for the US on Saturday were stiker Ricardo Pepi and midfielder Kellyn Acosta. Both players emerged during the past year as important pieces for the USMNT, but were far from their best against Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Pepi whiffed on a golden chance early in the game when a Brooks Lennon cross rolled right past him in front of goal. Aside from that miss, he was generally uninvolved in the game, not making the movements and runs needed to connect with the midfield and build the attack. The FC Dallas striker finished the MLS season in a goal scoring slump and Saturday showed no indication that he has rebounded from it yet. The US needs him to regain his form if he is going to start in the qualifiers in January. If he can’t get back to his top level then they may have to consider another option such as Jordan Pefok, Gyasi Zardes, Josh Sargent or Daryl Dike.

Kellyn Acosta has been a valuable depth option for the US this year, aptly filling in when Tyler Adams was injured. Against Bosnia and Herzegovina he started as one of the “box to box” midfielders and was lackluster. He was a big part of the American offensive problems, lacking any incisive passing and playing sloppy with the ball too often. It seems he is better suited to the defensive midfield role he played behind Adams. Berhalter may need to consider other box to box options, like Gianluca Busio or Luca de la Torre, ahead of Acosta in the pecking order come January.


Stock Even --

Two of the top USMNT players had decent outings in rough weeks for their respective clubs. Christian Pulisic started both of Chelsea’s games this week as the striker in a three man attack. Chelsea has been hit hard by injuries and Covid in the last week, forcing Pulisic to play out of position in the front line. Pulisic was decent but not spectacular in both games, but Chelsea dropped points in each, drawing 1-1 with Everton and 0-0 with Wolverhampton. The draws left them in third place in the Premier League, six points behind leaders Manchester City.

Tyler Adams was a halftime substitute in RB Leipzig’s midweek 1-1 draw with Augsburg and then came on in the seventh minute to replace an injured player in an embarrasing 2-0 loss to Arminia Bielefeld over the weekend. Leipzig is a club in turmoil after firing Jesse Marsch and new coach Domenico Tedesco has yet to find the solution to right the ship. For Adams' part, individually he played well in both games. He completed 98% of his passes against Augsburg and was pushing higher in the attack and playing some good combinations around the opposition box in each game.

Freestate banner ad

"helping" those at helping up


Tim and Linette Miller and Kris Sharrer (right) of Helping Up Mission unload gift bags specially prepared for the men and women at HUM.

Our annual Winter Apparel Drive at Helping Up Mission was supposed to culiminate yesterday with our distribution event, where we give over 4,000 pieces of apparel to the men and women at Helping Up Mission. This is year #13 of the event Glenn Clark and I started way back in our radio days and it has blossomed into something I'm sure we never thought it could or would.

Unfortunately, Covid protocols postponed yesterday's event. We'll get out there in January to distribute the items, though. Have no fear.

But we were still able to help the men and women at Helping Up Mission yesterday, thanks to our friends at Freestate Electrical! Tim and Linette Miller presented HUM with 150 gift bags filled with Christmas cheer, half for the men and half for the women. Linette made them herself over the last month; Tim and I just lugged them in!! Linette did all the hard work.

After we moved the gift bags inside for distribution, Tim presented Helping Up Mission's Kris Sharrer with two checks; one from Freestate Electrical and one from Tim and Linette, personally.

We're so happy to see Freestate Electrical and the Miller family learning about Helping Up Mission and supporting all of the great work they do at their downtown facilities. It's through the generosity of people in the community (whether you're donating apparel, gift bags or financial support) that the men and women at Helping Up Mission can get back on their feet and back into the community!

JERRY'S TOYOTA banner

#dmd comments








Jeff “Fireball” Roberts     January 19
It was just a matter of time before the Dallas coach pulled a mccarthy. Ya’ think Manning will be invited back to College Park next season ? Yeah, me either. I hope the CBA gets settled in the next 2-3 weeks. I am looking forward to Orioles season.

Travis     January 19
Drew



On your constant bashing of the Flyers (most subjects that pertain nothing to ice hockey), did the hatred start when some Flyers Fan poured a beer on you at The Spectrum for wearing a Caps Jersey?

KC     January 19
@Drew saying what the FM radio guys won't say today because they're tied into UM basketball. Today reminds me of the way @Drew was on the radio when he was the only guy in town willing to hammer the Orioles for their losing ways. Old school Dish today!!!

Stats Nerd     January 19
@Kenny-yeah the whole thing makes little sense. I thought if managed properly they could have run at least 2 and maybe 3 more plays with 14 seconds. If they felt more comfortable from, say the 25, run a 1215 yard out route and get out of bounds. Wild man

@Chris-yeah I've heard people ask about Duv. Think Deebo is thicker but Duv has wheels. I'm not sure it would work either but some of those things had to have worked better than some of the crap they were running. Getting Duv 6-8 touches a game certainly makes sense to me.

I am EXTREMELY bullish on Bateman. He won't be Deebo but I think he could be an absolute monster next year. He tics all the boxes: strong physical, runs clean routes, incredibly good hands. If GRo or whoever doesn't get the ball to him in space next season it will be a huge error to me. Reminds in a lot of ways of Anquan.

lou@palo alto     January 19
a UK study has shown a post covid brain fog that can last up to 9 mo--on a variety of cognitive tests there was a decreased attention span, memory and overall game performance--??Lamar he certainly looked slow and confused in his last few games--fyi

Bill     January 19
I consider myself a Maryland basketball fan. I completely agree that they looked disinterested last night. I am feeling a little disinterested too. I don't know why but the Terps have lost me this season. Very little energy on or off the court. Players (and maybe coaches) look like they are just going through the motions. I worry what the recruits must be thinking. Maryland better get this ship turned around quickly or fans could be in for a few years of bad basketball.

David Rosenfeld     January 19
I feel bad for those guys--as basketball players. Their coach--he quit on them. I don't care as a fan if you're glad he's gone, you have to admit that's what he did. And I'm sure they feel like they're kind of on their own right now. I mean...heck...even some awful MD teams had a great home court advantage, and they don't even have that anymore.

And now...what's happening is that they realize that they aren't good, and that the mechanism isn't in place for them to get better. And I'm not sure how they are going to respond to that.

I think this is Square 1. Reese will probably leave, despite his sister. The good news? You can get good quickly with the right coach.

Tom J     January 19
Maryland basketball is now resembling what Maryland football has been over the years. And it's starting to look like no one cares about the basketball now either judging by all of the empty seats there. Turgeon is laughing all the way to the bank......

Chris in Bel Air     January 19
Was watching the Caps and then remembered Terps were playing too. Flipped to that game, saw they were down by 17 and flipped back to Caps. Glad that's all I saw because if two writers are roasting due to lack of effort, it's not good.

@StatsNerd - Enjoyed today's article and agree on Deebo. He is unique player and I'm sure all fans wish their team had a multi-tool player like that. On that note, I don't expect Duvernay to be the same exact talent as Deebo but I do feel like the Ravens underutilize him. He might get one jet sweep or a poorly executed/timed screen but that's about it.

Agree w/ @DelRay - thankfully Ravens hired Harbs and not Garrett.

Kenny G     January 19
Stats Nerd - the one way I thought of the Dallas draw play was could Dak run far enough in say 10 seconds (need time to spot and spike) to make the next play(s) have a higher probability of success. The difference of a 41 yard vs 27 yard TD potential play cant be much but having two chances from 41 was probably the better option - TD or pass interference. Add in the factors that Dak did not give the ball to the ref and the line effectively blocked the ref from spotting the ball - what were they thinking? Sorry you answered that.




MFC     January 19
Who knows what goes through the heads of these players. I can't call them them kids because many are over 21 and with "re-classing", transferring in high school now the transfer portal in college many may well be 23 and 24. I do know when I watch games I don't see many "college looking kids" on the floor. I see men with incredible strength. Maybe, even though they probably have no idea what the old ACC was about are hearing about going to warm Miami or Florida State and now have to play in the dreary, cold midwest to face Michigan, Northwestern, Iowa etc. Who knows, but you're right, they didn't show up that's for sure.



Faithful, picking games is a guess. Yes computers, reading about past performances, metrics and "that stuff" can make it an educated guess but so many things can and do happen in a game that it comes down to you're either right or wrong. Remember, you're getting free thoughts here. You're introspection may be 100% correct and then..... Much easier to just pick a winner, now add in a spread and the job gets tougher. If not for the 1/2 point the faithful coffers would be a few thousand richer.

Dale, no need to read any comments dissing you, you made an educated guess, it didn't turn out. The world didn't end and unfortunately Omicron is still with us. You do write great re-caps.


Delray RICK     January 19
That's why the "COWGIRLS " have been nothing but a 500 team for years. Think if we didn't hire JOHN.

Mike     January 19
Drew and Dale both going in with both barrels on Maryland today. Wowza!

Ray Ray     January 19
#MJ Dale had the courage to make his "prediction" BEFORE the game was over.

MJ     January 18
Dale gonna get crushed in 4......3.......2.......1

Steve of Pimlico     January 18
I don't bet football,but what makes Drews picks any better than anyone else's. I would bet his golf picks as he has a degree of expertise there.

David Rosenfeld     January 18
7 teams in each conference making the playoffs aside, it was still kind of amazing to see the kinds of blowouts we saw.

Did I think the Eagles and Patriots were good teams? No. Was there reason to believe they'd be blitzed like that IMMEDIATELY? No way. And surely the Steelers weren't any good, but they just as surely found ways to stay in games all year.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals are a good team, but I can't imagine they could play worse, including maybe the worst play I've seen a QB make in his end zone. And for all intents and purposes, the Cowboys SHOULD have been blown out.

Howard     January 18
Unless the NY COVID rules change between now and the playoffs, the Nets would be better off finishing 8th in the conference. That way Kyrie will be available for any game 7 (unless they play the Knicks or Raptors)

Pauly Dee     January 18
The Emperor Has No Clothes.



We've been fed this "Get the shots...they're safe...they're effective" junk long enough. Wake up and smell the coffee. I personally know, or know of, over 100 fully vaccinated/boostered up people who have gotten the virus. In addition, scientific journal, The Lancet, and others have published articles showing that the shots don't stop the spread of the virus. And what are the long-term studies showing us of the effects of getting the shots?



On this, Kyrie will be shown on the right side of history. The tyrants of NYC and many others in what used to be known as, "The Land of the Free," will not be.

Chris in Bel Air     January 18
Despite their expanded playoff format and giving opportunities to pretender teams like the Steelers, the NFL does have the 8 best teams now playing to earn a spot in the Super Bowl. Cards started off hot but limped in losing 4 of last 5. Cowboys? Plenty of talent but after all the penalties and that bonehead play on the last drive, they didn't deserve to move on. Raiders were close but just didn't have the offensive horses. All 4 games this weekend are intriguing match-ups. Should be much better games than this past weekend.

unitastoberry     January 18
Another NFL playoff blowout last night. Cardinals folded like a chair in December/January. There QB is not impressive in 3-4 years he's probably working for a living. I hope it gets better next weekend. Cha-Ching!

MFC     January 18
Good weekend for the faithful. Here's the recap of our mythical $1,000/game wager.



YTD ($300)

Wins 4 = $4,000

Lose 2 = ($2,200)

Total = +$1800 hope everyone sends the site owner his wine of choice, you can afford it



YTD = ($300)

week= +$1800

YTD Total +$1500- in the NFL betting that many games this is a WIN





Hope Ramey and the faithful didn't plow it all back in last night.

Just a note I didn't chart the "best bet" of the week.



It would seem to me that the betting faithful didn't like "all" of the picks and went with your own thoughts and prognostication as some have posted of OC weeks that are now paid for. No biggie and congrats but you can't scram from the mountaintop about the picks if you strayed. That's not exactly apples to apples.

Certainly glad you won. If you rode the pony all the way you would be up and those PXG's would be on order. Still time to make a serious dent into Vegas.


aaron     January 17
I bet $5 grand on the Cardinals since Drew was so sure of that pick, I sure hop e they can rally!

Billy     January 17
Hey @Mark, how we doing on that AZ pick tonight??

George     January 17
What odds can I get the Jacksonville Jaguars finish above .500 next year and win at least one playoff game the next year?

snead     January 17
If Billy had the balls to wager he'd be winning $$$ and wouldn't be here crying! LMAO

Mark in Perry Hall     January 17
Has anyone ever lived in someone else's head rent free like @DF lives in @Billy's head? LMFAO.

DJ     January 17
I only bet DF's "Best Bet of the Day" games and wound up plus $1,000 for the season. He was pretty good at those games, FWIW.

Ramey     January 17
Billy, I bet the Best Bet pick every week and would usually pick one other game or sometimes two because that's pretty much what my budget allowed for. I started out at $200 a game and eventually took it to $500 a game. I don't remember exactly which weeks this happened but I went 2-0, 3-0, 2-1 and 3-0 over a 4 week run. I think it was in week 2, 3, 4, 5. It was early in the year I know that. I was up $11,300 at one point but week 16 or 17 I went 0-4. I'm not even sure Drew knows this but he was very good picking AFC West games. I think he went 13-3 according to my calculations.

Billy     January 17
LOL, sure "RAMEY". Did you know ahead of time which pick was a loser, or you bet enough on the others to net such a nice haul??

You faithful crack me up....

Czechm8     January 17
Completely agree with you about the playoffs. 5 games this weekend and 3 were curb stompers. The Eagles and Patriots were out of it early and once the Chiefs got their footing, they ran off 5 TDs in under 12 minutes. But Drew is right: there is no going back with the oligarchs who run the league. A 7th team in each conference is extra revenue in their pockets, which is first and foremost in their planning. The only way it would possibly change is if people stop going to the games and/or viewership numbers, which impact advertising dollars, drops. I see neither happening anytime soon.

Ramey     January 17
I bet real money on Drew's picks and I am $7,800 to the good. I'm happy as I can be to share that info.

kevin     January 17
The "faithful" all crawling out of the world work today. Serious question, why is it ok to post pernicious comments when site owner does well with his picks, but when critics do the same on the inevitable bad weeks, those folks are shouted down and derided as "haters"?

Seems to me both sides should be allowed to crow about their respective views if they so choose. I don't understand either side, as my guess is none of these commenters are truly betting on any of these picks so who cares?? If they are, it seems the MFC scoreboard would tell you how those bets have gone.

Caps definitely struggling with having consistent lineups, but its the NHL, no need to worry about how any team is playing until Mar.




Stats Nerd     January 17
My hot take: Jimmy G is far better than most give him credit for. Dude wins. A lot. Would prefer he not be in a Pitts or Browns jersey

@Chris re: Caps. They have been decimated with injuries/COVID protocol. There certainly is reason to be concerned but I think they likely overachieved initially and perhaps their record is reverting to the mean now. They are really good 5v5 but their PP is hot garbage atm. Also Vitek > Samsonov right now IMO. But Ilya has more upside probably

DF     January 17
Note: There are 16 teams in each conference. Not 15. I forgot the Jaguars and Giants are considered "in the league". Apologies.

jfd23@comcast.net     January 17
I wouldn't be surprised to see Jimmy Garoppolo wearing a Steeler uniform next year.

Chris in Bel Air     January 17
Was hoping the Raiders were going to win, A- because the players have been through a lot this year and was really liking their resolve and B- watching them beat the Bengals would have been nice. But Drew is correct. The Steelers, Eagles and Patriots were not playoff teams and they were exposed as such. Same would have been had the Ravens somehow squeaked in the last week. Sure, Steelers, Eagles and Patriots earned their spot under the current NFL rules. But, the NFL's goal for the playoffs isn't high-level competition. It's all about viewing and money. More teams = more viewing = more money. No doubt they will continue to expand as well and keep rewarding more mediocre teams with a playoff spot.

Drew, any concerns growing with the Caps? They have lost 5 of last 6 and are 7-10 over last 17. Just a little mid-season slump that is normal part of the ebb and flow of a season or something more telling of them?

MFC     January 17
@JK, the recap comes at the end of the weekend with no games remaining, I think there's a game tonight at least the site owner has picked a winner for tonight so I'm sure there's one. Reading comprehension wasn't taught where you went to school? Hopefully it was not Calvert Hall, this was posted Saturday, "and it was a great start to the weekend for the faithful. Right now out of the hole, good luck."



Speaking of Calvert Hall congrats to Lou Eckerel on his announced retirement. We were combatants in high school and both stayed involved with sports. He is a really good man and outstanding coach and athletic director. I wish him well in his retirement, he's earned it.



Please get me out of your head trust me I'm not worth it.


James     January 17
Like "TimD", I had a profitable weekend thanks to Drew. Appreciate the "site owner" coming through! ha ha ha

If my math is correct Drew is now 51-44 picking games. I wonder what the peanut gallery thinks about that?

JK     January 17
4-1 for @DF yesterday and crickets from @MFC and @Billy and the rest of the doubting Thomas types. Poor sports.

unitastoberry     January 17
The mediocre football league MFL was on full display this weekend. Extra playoff teams and the 17 game season made for several run the score up games. Playoff series are for elite teams not mediocre teams. I was pretty glad at the outcome with NE, Cowgirls,Eagles,and Stillers all going home. It was a good year to root against PA teams which I always do and promises to get worse next year including Penn Pedo St getting butt kicked and signing their loser coach to a 10 year deal in UnHappy Valley. I don't care who wins now just hope they are all clutch games to the finish.

TimD in Timonium     January 17
Yesterday's Bucs / Niners / Chiefs parlay turned out pretty well. Thanks, @DF.

Eric in Gaithersburg     January 17
CJ- How am i backtracking? When did i say Manning would win with these scrubs. Of course its the players, recruited by lousy coach.

Bradley     January 16
So if one were a twitter follower- 49ers went from epic loss to NFC championship? Great insight!

Chris     January 16
Check that GM. Drew is now 4-1 ATS and 5-0 on the ML.

Stats Nerd     January 16
Mike McCarthy doing Mike McCarthy things. Nature is healing

Gm     January 16
@DF 3-1 ATS and 4-0 on the ML. Haters gotta be sick.

Billy     January 16
@MFC The faithful too busy allowing @Kevin to live in their heads lol....

MFC     January 16
Surprised the faithful didn't catch my mistake a rare mistake by them. I was wrong the DMD big bettors are not up $1,000 YTD they are actually down ($300).



Sorry for the error but also proves to the faithful that I'm not exactly hanging on every game and it was a great start to the weekend for the faithful. Right now out of the hole, good luck.

Jerryh     January 16
I was thinking the same thing as "KJ".

Monday
December 20, 2021
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2675


so many moving parts...so many questions


To no one's real surprise, the Ravens lost yesterday, 31-30 to the Packers. That it went down to another failed 2-point conversion seemed like a perverse turn of events for a team that was decimated with injuries. But that's what happened.

Shedding aside the loss for a second, which isn't nearly as critical standings-wise as people think, let's look at a few notable components of the game and some questions looming in the aftermath.

The decision to go for two points with 42 seconds left wasn't at all surprising. "We were trying to win the game right there," John Harbaugh said afterwards. He said the same thing after the Pittsburgh game two weeks ago. You can't really fault him for that. It's a gunslinger's mentality, perhaps, but you can't coach scared.

A lot of people have said -- "this team would be 3-11 without Lamar" -- but the more clear and obvious reality is the Ravens would be 3-11 (given this season's circumstances) without Harbaugh. He won't win Coach of the Year because the award rarely goes to the guy who runs a 10-7 team, but the job he's done this season might be his best since joining the Ravens in 2008. Without John Harbaugh, the Ravens would have been cooked six weeks ago.

Tyler Huntley led the Ravens to an impressive fourth quarter comeback yesterday but another failed 2-point conversion was the difference as Baltimore fell to Green Bay, 31-30.

But there are two things that are up for debate as it related to the decision to go for 2 points and both are simply "horses for courses" situations. I think one way, you might think the other way and we're just not going to agree.

For starters, if the Ravens knew when they were trailing 31-17 that they would go for two points if they scored a touchdown late in the game to draw within 31-30 (which we can assume they've already mapped all of this out prior to the game), why not go for two points after the first touchdown with just under five minutes remaining?

Yesterday's scenario was almost exactly like the one the Ravens faced in Cleveland last week except the deficit was 15 vs. the Browns and yesterday it was 14. But if the Ravens were trying to win the game outright on their final two offensive possessions yesterday (which is precisely what they had facing them in Cleveland), going for two points after the first TD made total sense.

If you connect on the 2-point conversion after TD #1, all you need is the extra point after TD #2 and you're a point ahead with 42 seconds left. If you fail to get it, you know you need a 2-pointer after TD #2 to tie the score and potentially force OT.

I guess I'm just confused as to what was different about this week's game from last week's game? Both 4th quarter scenarios were nearly identical, but last week the Ravens went for two after TD #1 and this week they didn't.

The other issue involves the actual play itself. You can generally only do one of two things there; pass or run. I thought the idea of going for two to win was fine; but why not run the ball there? Latavius Murray had been running downhill it seemed...why not see if he can't get you two a couple of yards there to win the game? Or some kind of Huntley designed run with Nick Boyle paving the way as the lead blocker?

But here's where we can defend the playcall they actually did go with. People around town were bellyaching about the roll out and "cutting the field in half" and all of that other stuff, but if you watch the replay, Huntley missed Hollywood Brown in the end zone. Sometimes it's OK to just say "the quarterback had a guy wide open and missed him." That's precisely what happened on the final two point conversion. Brown beat his man and had 3-4 yards on him but Huntley had already zeroed in on Mark Andrews. Better quarterbacking play there and it's 32-31 with 42 seconds remaining.

I know the sexy thing around town is to crucify Greg Roman anytime something goes wrong on offense but it doesn't make you a bad person to just point to the player himself -- Huntley in this case -- and say, "Yeah, that one was on him." The 2-point miss was mostly on Huntley there. It's fine to just say that.

In the end, though, John Harbaugh and his staff did a miraculous job getting that kind of performance out of a roster that contained, oh, about 7 or 8 good players. Wink Martindale took Davante Adams out of the game and Greg Roman got the most he could out of Huntley and Mark Andrews, mainly. It wasn't a coaching clinic or anything like that, but both Martindale and Roman did themselves proud yesterday, as did Harbaugh. The Ravens never, ever quit. They've now lost three straight games by a total of 4 points. They could be 4-10, 8-6 or 11-3. They are what their record says, though: 8-6.

Speaking of Huntley...now we're going to dive into a delicate topic and see where it takes us.

As I wrote last night on Twitter, if you read this and misconstrue it as "Lamar hate", then you're missing the point entirely. Re-read it again. And if you still think it's "Lamar hate", stop reading and just resign yourself to the fact it's over your head.

Has Huntley's performance this season -- albeit in a short sample size -- been decent enough to at least have the Ravens ask this question: "Lamar at $35-$40 million or Huntley at $3-5 million?"

This isn't really a question about which of the two is the better quarterback. I think everyone would agree Lamar is better. This is a question about money and the salary cap and whether Lamar can outplay Huntley by $30 or $35 million?

If you had both of them play without a name and number on the back of their jersey, would you see an obvious, detectable $30 or $35 million difference in their play? That's the question, I think. And I don't know that I have an answer. But I do think it's a legitimate question that the Ravens should potentially be trying to answer.

Next year alone, the Ravens will have to pay Lamar in the neighborhood of $24 million as part of the 5th and final year of his rookie deal. If they sign him to something new, he will immediately become a $35-$40 million quarterback. Now, they can finagle the salary cap hit to reflect something different, of course, but at some point you're paying the freight that you agreed to pay.

And I'm just asking -- should the Ravens front office at least consider the math and the $35 million vs. $3 million question?

Can Huntley be a starter in the NFL? I think we all would say, based both on his play and what we've seen from a handful of other half-a-scrub QB's in the league, the answer to that question is: yes.

His true value comes at the salary he earns. Huntley is a steal at $2 or $3 million annually when you consider Lamar might make upwards of $35 or $40 million to do "mostly" the same job on the field. Lamar is better and has more experience, but how much better? There are even some expert talking heads in the media -- former players and such -- who are quick to suggest that Huntley actually throws the football better than Lamar. They're not saying Huntley is a better QB, mind you. They're simply saying he throws the ball better.

Should the Ravens consider this plight or just fork over $250-$300 million or more to Lamar for 5 or 6 years?

The loss to the Packers was about as painless as a loss can be in week 15 because it came against a NFC opponent. Sure, 9-5 would be a lot better than 8-6, but no matter what the Ravens did yesterday, next Sunday's game in Cincinnati is the crucial one because the Bengals won the earlier game in Baltimore.

A Ravens loss next week and suddenly they're 8-7 and Cincinnati is 9-6 and the Bengals own the head-to-head tiebreaker. A loss to the Bengals would mean the best the Ravens could finish would be 10-7 if they beat the Rams and Steelers to close out the season. And a Cincy win next week would mean the Bengals need only to win one of their last two (vs. K.C. and at Cleveland) to eliminate the Ravens from winning the AFC North.

Next Sunday is the game of the year for the Ravens. They're not out of the woods even with a win, mind you, but a loss would be crushing.

There are so many tiebreakers that could come into post-season play that we won't bother listing them here just yet. The Ravens do own tiebreaker scenarios with Denver, Indianapolis and Los Angeles, but there are 3-way situations that could wind up hurting the Ravens, believe it or not.

So it's on to next week and the Bengals, with lots of moving parts in place for John Harbaugh's team. We assume Lamar will be back for that one, but how healthy will he be?

And last but not least, what if, just pretend for a second, next Sunday in Cincinnati comes down to the final minute again and the Ravens score a late TD to cut the score to 25-24 in favor of the Bengals. Does Harbaugh go for it again, assuming at some point the dice have to come to rest in his favor? Or does he say "you know, this 2-point conversion thing just isn't our cup of tea this season, let's kick the extra point and try our luck in overtime"?

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around the nfl in 1 minute, 44 seconds


Bills 31 - Panthers 14 -- Just as we thought, the Bills were stocked and ready to roll after that New England loss the night before and the Panthers were ready to quit. This one was close for a while before Cam Newton became Cam Newton and the Bills rolled to an easy win. Those all red uniforms though? Yikes. Get rid of those things, please.

Dolphins 31 - Jets 24 -- Miami has now won six straight games to get to 7-7 on the season. They're in the playoff hunt, but they'll have to perform magic now to make the post-season. They finish at New Orleans, at Tennessee and home vs. New England. That looks like 7-10 or 8-9 to me. Nice try, Miami. The Jets? Done.

Dak and the Cowboys improved to 10-4 with yesterday's win over the Giants.

Lions 30 - Cardinals 12 -- Poor Arizona. Like the Browns and Bengals, Cardinals-gonna-Cardinals. With home ice still there for the taking in the NFC, they go to Detroit and get lit up. In fairness to the Lions, though, this kind of game is well deserved. They've been on the bad end of some heartbreaking losses throughout the season. Arizona is still Arizona until they prove otherwise, I'm afraid.

Texans 30 - Jaguars 16 -- Is it bad to make fun of the Jaguars for losing to the lowly Texans? Probably not, since the Jaguars are actually more lowly than their AFC South counterparts. Urban Meyer said he was "heartbroken" at how things turned out in Jacksonville. I'm sure the Jags appreciate that.

Cowboys 21 - Giants 6 -- That was, as they call it, a "professional win" for Dallas in New York yesterday. Well, technically the win was in New Jersey, but you know what I mean. Dallas went in there and did everything they needed to do to win and keep their hopes alive for the #1 seed in the NFC. The Giants stink. I guess you knew that, but I'm just reminding you. How weird is it that both New York football teams are awful?

Steelers 19 - Titans 13 -- I'm not sure if this one tells us more about the never-say-die component of the Steelers or the injury riddled mess that the Titans have been forced to confront. Pittsburgh is now 7-6-1 and somehow still alive in the AFC playoff picture, but their remaining schedule dooms them; at Kansas City, home vs. Cleveland, at the Ravens. They might go 0-3 and at best they'll go 1-2. No playoffs for you, Big Ben.

Bengals 15 - Broncos 10 -- As we told you here yesterday at #DMD, the Bengals were going to go into Denver and win because that's what the Bengals do. They flop and fail at home when they have a chance to make hay ("Bengals gonna Bengals") and then they go on the road and post an improbable win. At 8-6, Cincy's playoff fate is in their hands. They have the Ravens (home), Chiefs (home) and Browns (away). A win over Baltimore and one more win against KC or Cleveland and they're likely going to be the AFC North champs. But remember, they're the Bengals. Expect a 9-8 finish somehow.

49'ers 31 - Falcons 13 -- Don't look now, but the 49'ers have played as impressively as any team over the last four weeks or so. They're running the ball well, Jimmy G. looks like a semi-real quarterback and the 49'ers are now 8-6 with three games left; at Tennessee (this Thurs), home vs. Houston and at the Rams. Atlanta's hopes for a playoff spot ended yesterday, but there's reason to be excited about the future in Atlanta. They've been better this season than most people thought.

Saints 9 - Buccaneers 0 -- Yes, you read that right. If you didn't stay up to watch it, good for you. It might have been the most dreadful game of the season to date and that's really saying something. Tampa Bay didn't just lose the game, their roster got crushed with key injuries last night. Godwin, Fournette and Evans all left the game with injuries that could linger for several weeks. Tampa Bay still has a great shot at doing post-season damage, again, but if those three are out for any extended period of time things could get dicey for the Bucs in January.

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your 2030 masters champion is.....


I have no idea what jacket size Charlie Woods will be wearing at age 21 (or will he be 22?) when he wins the 2030 Masters, but the guys at Augusta National should be stocking up on coats to make sure they have his size ready.

For the first time ever, the silly season "Parent-Child" Championship actually mattered this past weekend, thanks solely to the needle-moving Woods family, who did their part by making 12 straight birdies in Sunday's final round to briefly tie for the lead before settling for a second place finish by Team John Daly.

Any other year, none of us would have watched and 91% of the people who follow golf probably wouldn't have even known the event was taking place, let alone spend a few hours on Saturday and Sunday watching it. Alas, this weekend was different.

Tiger is indeed back, although he hit enough indifferent shots to show the rust of a 10-month layoff can't be overcome in one 36-hole stretch of golf. But he hit enough 300 yard drives to show the world he will be able to compete again. When, where and how much? That's the question moving forward.

But the 15-time major champion didn't steal the show over the weekend. His 12-year old son did. For the second straight December, Charlie showed off a gloriously well-tuned golf swing, complete with club twirls and body movements that looked exactly like, yeah, you guessed it, his old man. It was as if we were watching 12-year old Tiger, circa 1987.

That Tiger gets to share these moments with his son is, as every Dad with a son knows, the golden moment of life. Win, lose or draw, having your son (or daughter) along with you is the best moment one can have while you're on this big round ball of whatever it is.

I did an interview with a national golf writer last week in a year-end piece he's producing and he asked me what the most memorable part of playing in the U.S. Senior Open was last July and the answer was never anything except: "Sharing it with my family and having my son take the bag for the final hole on Friday and walking up the fairway with me."

If I never get to do anything else in golf in my life, having Ethan walk the last hole with me at Omaha Country Club will always be the best moment of my golfing life. The putt on the 4th playoff hole at Argyle to get in the Senior Open was memorable, sure. But nothing will ever beat my son and I enjoying that walk up the 9th hole on Friday, July 9, 2021.

So I watch Tiger and Charlie compete and I totally get it. Tiger's certainly not naive to the fact that he's in the November or December of his playing career. And, as you saw after the 2019 Masters when he won the title and was greeted behind the 18th green on Sunday, having your family there to share it all is much more emotional than just hugging your caddy and walking off to sign your scorecard.

It's amazing to see a 12-year old play golf with the precision we saw from Charlie over the weekend. There were other remarkable young players there as well, including John Daly II, who barely cracks the top 100 in Florida in his age group, but seems destined for big things in golf if he continues to play the game at the level he displayed over the weekend. Matt Kuchar's son is also solid tee to green. Junior golf -- as I see every year coaching 14-18 year olds -- is blossoming with extraordinary talent.

But remember this about Charlie Woods for just a second. He's not just a junior golfer. He's Charlie Woods. Every eye is fixed on him from the moment he arrives at the course. And this past weekend, not only every eye on the course, but every eye watching at home. It's one thing to hit a 6-iron from 170 to ten feet to a back left flag on the 17th hole with water all the way down the left side like Charlie did yesterday. It's another thing, entirely, to do it in a golf tournament, playing for the lead, and with TV cameras dotting the tee box watching your every move.

Imagine how nervous we would be in that situation. 12-year-old Charlie Woods handled it with the ease of a 15-time major champion. In fact, on that hole, Charlie's shot was better than both Tiger's and Matt Kuchar's. And, well, those guys are pretty good at golf.

Name another sport where a 12-year old could compete at the same level as a professional in his 20's, 30's or 40's and do one better than them? No 12-year old could play in the NFL or the NBA or Major League Baseball. Charlie couldn't compete on TOUR, yet, because the length of the golf course would eat him up, but you put him on a 170 yard par 3, in a golf tournament, and he can hit a better shot than the professionals in the group. And he didn't do that just once over the weekend. He did it a dozen times or more.

Tiger, of course, deserves credit -- along with Elin, his mom -- for bringing Charlie into the game the right way. That Charlie has significant advantages that other junior golfers don't is the understatement of all understatements. But he's clearly learning the game at a pace that's wildly impressive. He'll go to any college he chooses and his career path will be a little more smooth because his last name is "Woods" and not "Jones" or "Smith". But it's golf...and he'll still have to get the ball in the hole quicker than the rest of the guys in order to be successful.

My hunch? Charlie Woods's ball will find the hole a lot more quickly than the guys he tees it up with. For a long, long time.

JERRY'S TOYOTA banner

#DMD GAME DAY
Week 15


Sunday — December 19, 2021
Issue 2674

Green Bay Packers at Baltimore Ravens

4:25 EST

M&T Bank Stadium
Baltimore, MD

Spread: Packers (-6.5)



we'd be talking about this one for years


When FOX TV executives elected to ask the NFL to shift today's game in Baltimore from the orginal 1:00 pm start to 4:25, the thought was obvious -- and smart.

Lamar Jackson and the playoff bound Ravens vs. Aaron Rodgers and the high-profile Green Bay Packers.

It's not Peyton vs. Brady, but it would have been a heckuva TV draw.

Instead, the network is getting something much different. It's not quite the Stinker Bowl, but Jackson's out, a half dozen others are on the sideline due to Covid-19 protocol, and Tyler Huntley will apparently settle in behind center as Baltimore's quarterback today as the Ravens try to end a 2-game losing streak and stay on top of the AFC North.

All eyes will once again be on Ravens' offensive coordinator Greg Roman, who has to come up with a game plan to help the Ravens overcome the Packers.

We say Huntley will "apparently" settle in because no formal announcement has come from the Ravens yet, but when the oddsmakers make the Packers a 6.5 point favorite in Baltimore, they know Lamar isn't playing, even if no one else does.

But it would certainly be interesting to see #8 trot out there to start the game today, that's for sure.

Alas, we're going on the premise that everyone else is. Jackson will miss the game with a sprained ankle and Huntley will make his 2nd start of the season and first-ever in Baltimore. The Ravens' lost two more starters to the Covid-19 list yesterday (Chris Westry and Sammy Watkins) and more could be on that list by game time today. This one sets up -- on the surface -- to be a Green Bay blowout.

But not so quick...

Green Bay is 10-3, but all three of their losses have come on the road. One of them, it's worth nothing, came in Kansas City five weeks ago when Aaron Rodgers missed the game due to Covid-19 protocol and the quarterback-less Packers fell 13-7. They also got slammed by the Saints on opening day, 38-3, and fell in Minnesota a few weeks back, 34-31. They've also won a couple of squeakers on the road, 30-28 at San Francisco and 25-22 at Cincinnati.

We're trying hard here to create an angle where the shorthanded Ravens could somehow sneak past Green Bay today and post an improbable win. And about the only way we can do it is through the fact that it's a road game and anything could happen and Rodgers could have one of his twice-a-season stinkers in Charm City today. If you know of another way the Ravens could win, by all means, bring it on.

In all fairness, football wise, Green Bay is fairly one dimensional on offense. It's Rodgers and the receivers and that's pretty much it, which I'm sure Wink Martindale knows all too well. The Packers are ranked 21st in the NFL in rushing yards per-game (107) and there's no reason to think they'll try and run the ball all that much today in Baltimore. If the Ravens can somehow get to Rodgers and create a turnover or three and if the future Hall of Famer has a "C" game or worse...well, you never know what might happen.

The Baltimore offense will have to do their job today with Huntley at quarterback, which isn't a terrible thing. He has held serve in his limited action this year and playing in front of the home crowd for the first time ever should be a pick-me-up for him. Losing Watkins isn't that big of a deal and it might actually open up more time and playcalls for talented rookie Rashod Bateman.

I'm still trying hard here to create a winning scenario for the Ravens. Give me some credit...

I would point to the expected yucky weather they're calling for around 4:25 pm today. Gray skies, teams in the low 40's, a chance of showers, and winds in the 10-20 MPH range. But we're talking about the Packers here. Those conditions are a mild late summer day in Green Bay. So while the weather won't be ideal or anything like that, it hardly seems like something that could impact Rodgers and the Packers offense.

I'm still trying...I even pulled out the "bad weather" card.

This would be, if the Ravens somehow pull out a victory today, one of those games we talk about for years. It would be similar to when the Ravens and some dude named Ryan Mallett beat the Steelers in the final regular season game of the 2015 season. We still remember that in these parts even today. And if the injury-and-Covid-wrecked Ravens -- without Lamar at quarterback -- somehow beat the Packers this afternoon, we'd always have that example in our back pocket any time someone mutters, "well, you know we can't win this one."

The formula for a Ravens upset seems fairly obvious. Run the ball effectively, eat up the clock to win time of possession, keep Rodgers and his passing attack off the field as long as possible, get a turnover or three on defense, and hope Huntley keeps the ball secure and makes a few good throws when called upon.

Simple, right?

But that is the game plan you have to assume Greg Roman is going to employ today. Can the Ravens run the ball 25-30 times and reduce Green Bay's offensive possessions to somewhere in the 10-12 range? Can they own time of possession to the tune of 35:00 to 25:00? Can Huntley be "just good enough" to limit his own turnovers and keep the Ravens in the game until fate or Justin Tucker takes over?

Conventional wisdom and the mere fact that Rodgers is one of the best quarterbacks of the last 20 years -- and his arsenal weapons combined with the severely hampered Baltimore secondary -- tells you this is far more likely going to be a 37-20 Green Bay win than a 23-20 Ravens shocker.

But unlike a lot of folks who have already written "L" next to this one, I'm not ready to do that. I think the Ravens could hang in there long enough to pull off a wild win somehow. They've largely been doing just that all season. I'm not "calling" a Baltimore win. I'm just saying I don't think it's the automatic loss most people in town believe it to be.

I'll go with a Green Bay victory to the tune of 34-26. I think the Packers are relatively in control most of the afternoon but it's 31-20 in the 4th quarter and Huntley hits Bateman for his 2nd TD of the game and the ensuing failed two-point conversion makes it 31-26. The Packers then drive down the field and finalize the scoring with a field goal inside of two minutes and hold on from there.

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the bill is coming due, so...


They're picking out the copper doorknobs as we speak in Dewey Beach and by mid-week we'll be ready to move into our new beach house. Alas, we probably won't start using it until summer 2022, but it's great to know it's going to be ready and waiting for us.

But someone has to pay for those copper doorknobs somehow, so I guess we'll lean on our expected 5-0 weekend here at #DMD to continue the funding process.

On a side note, our new friend "Bet It All Paul" suffered a couple of terrible narrow losses yesterday that spoiled what could have otherwise been a massive day. He had six wagers on the table and went 3-3 in those, hitting both NHL games and the Marquette (+10) pick. In that Marquette pick, he had Marquette and the "under 150" and Xavier won that won 80-71. He also had the "over 45" in the Patriots/Colts game last night and that one was 27-17...44 total points. Alas, he was thatclose to another winning session for us here at DMD. Keep up the good work, Paul.

And now to our picks today.

PANTHERS AT BILLS (-13.5) -- It seems like it's about time for the Panthers to pack it in. Meanwhile, Buffalo is galvanized by last night's New England loss and the upcoming showdown with the Patriots in Foxborough. We see Buffalo lighting up the scoreboard today and the Panthers quickly fading. We'll take Buffalo and give the 13.5 points in a 29-10 win.

Cincinnati and Joe Burrow have a supremely important game today in Denver.

JETS AT DOLPHINS (-9.5) -- The Dolphins know, based on their remaining schedule, that this one is an absolute gift today and they really need to win. The Jets know their season is over. Therein lies the issue. Will Miami "do just enough to win" or will they clobber the Jets right from the start? We're going with the "clobber" angle as Miami jumps out to a 20-7 halftime lead and wins going away, 30-14.

COWBOYS AT GIANTS (+11.5) -- I realize the Cowboys offense is good and the Giants aren't really good in any particular area, but this 11.5 point number seems a bit high, particularly for a road team in a division game. We'll bite the hook on this one and hopefully not regret it later. Yes, we're taking the Giants, as Dallas wins a fairly close one 23-16.

FALCONS AT 49'ERS (-9.0) -- Another game that seems like it contains an odd number. But the 49'ers are at home and the Falcons aren't typicall all that good on the road. But this game is "make or break" for Atlanta and we think they're going to man up today with a good performance out west. In fact, we're not only taking Atlanta and the 9 points but we're calling a Falcons upset and a 26-23 OT victory outright.

BENGALS AT BRONCOS (-3.0) -- I just have this weirdest-of-weird-feelings that Cincinnati is going to go out there today and win. I don't know, except to say I think they're a smidge better than they've showed the last couple of weeks and they know, at 7-6, a loss today would really hurt their post-season chances (given their remaining schedule). We're taking Cincinnati and the 3 points in a 24-21 Bengals win.

BEST BET OF THE DAY -- They all can't be as easy as last week's winner (Chargers over Giants), right?? This week's is a bit more difficult, but we'll go with Miami to cover 9.5 over the Jets as our "Best Bet".


LAST WEEK'S RECORD: 4-1

SEASON RECORD TO DATE: 37-33

BEST BET OF THE DAY: 8-6

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JERRY'S TOYOTA banner
Saturday
December 18, 2021
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2673


saturday nuggets


I assume you know this by now, but sports wagering in Maryland is now legal and several area casinos have opened their betting kioks on site.

The game has officially changed in Maryland. That it took our great state a couple of years to do what other nearby states have been doing isn't a surprise, of course. We always seem a step or three behind in areas like sports gambling, casino gambling, etc. But no sense crying over spilled milk now. Go bet!

I assume this officially brings an end to the old white, folded up "card" my Dad used to bring home from the car dealership circa 1976.

That was my first exposure to sports gambling and now that I look back on it, that was quite an enterprise, huh?

With Lamar Jackson apparently out on Sunday, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers have nudged up to 6.5 point favorites tomorrow in Baltimore. And you can now bet on that game legally in the state of Maryland.

On Tuesday afternoon during football season, the cards would get delivered to you "somehow". I just remember my Dad bringing them home, I have no idea how he got them. Kind of like Santa Claus and gifts under the tree.

The card would have all the college and pro games for the following weekend listed on two sides. You would circle your winning picks (imagine that, "just circle who you think will cover the spread") on both sides and then tear off one side for your records and the other side would go to ----- somewhere? Wherever it went, that's who controlled the wagering. You would write your first name on the card and that would be it. You were gambling on sports at that point!

On the back of the half that you kept was the "scoring" as they called it. No mention of money anywhere, naturally. Instead, it read, "Choose 4 out of 4 correctly -- 20 points."

Imagine that. You put down 5 bucks and if you went 4-for-4 you got 20 dollars in return. In today's world, if you pick 4 out of 4 this weekend and put down $100 every time, you'd be a superstar.

It was, as my Dad used to explain, "all just for fun". They had a thing at the car dealership where he worked where all the guys on the sales floor would put in an extra dollar and pick 10 games to try and win "500 points". I remember once, vividly, they were 9 for 9 and they needed Pittsburgh to beat Houston on a Monday night and the Oilers kicked a field goal right near the end of the game to win and negate the 10-for-10 bet. My Dad mumbled something about the game being fixed and shut off the TV just as the ball creased past the right upright.

That was then. A card with all the games and you circled your winners and paper clipped the money you were betting to the half of the card you turned in.

Today, you can go to any local casino and make any kind of wager you want. I'd be lying if I said "I'm not jealous of all of my gambling friends." They are in the garden spot now. After years of risky online gambling sites with your money stirring in an account in Antigua or Barbados, you can simply walk in, put your money in a machine, make your wagers, and know with great certainty you're getting paid out immediately if things work out in your favor.

This was always going to happen, of course. Just like relaxed drug laws and lighter sentences for various petty crimes, our country continues to loosen up where voting deems it appropriate. Gambling is a vice, of course, but there's no reason it can't be an enjoyable outlet if done in moderation. People have been betting on horses for years and that was always billed as "good entertainment". Wagering on tomorrow's Ravens-Packers game can also be seen that way as long as you do it carefully and within your means.

What I hope doesn't happen is that somehow, down the road, legal gambling trickles down to the high school level. Before you say "don't worry, it won't", keep in mind that 30 years ago you would have never dreamed of an ESPN-affiliated network airing high school football and basketball games, either, and that's now part of their programming platform.

If someone can make a dollar off of high school sports gambling, you can bet they'll push for the legality of it at some point down the road. I hope it never comes to that. Betting on college sports already seems sketchy enough to me. Without mentioning anything specific about the game itself, I can say, with about as much certainty as I have in my body, that I believe I witnessed a local college basketball game here within the last 20 years where the point-spread-outcome looked contrived in the game's final minute.

I remember sitting in the stands with someone at the end of the game and we both looked at one another and said, "Ummmm, yeah, that sure looked a little odd there at the end, didn't it?" If you think it would potentially be easy to get college kids to do something creative to get $25,000 or so, imagine the trickle down at the high school level. I hope it never happens.

We've occasionally featured sports gambling here at #DMD because I do believe it's part of the healthy, fun enjoyment of sports. And, as we all know, it's not going away. It's here to stay and you can either ignore it (which is fine) or take part in it (which is also fine).

Now that it's legal in Maryland, we would certainly consider accepting a sports wagering advertiser here but I can't ever see the site doing a daily betting column or anything like that unless someone came along who thought that was important and wanted to oversee it. I'm not into sports gambling enough myself to write about it every day or, even every week. In fact, once football season is over, the only mention of gambling here might be an occasional betting reference during the golf majors.

That said, does anyone know what the odds are that Tiger will win a tournament in 2022? Please pass them along if so...and tell me where I can make that wager. I might have to put a few bucks down on that one.

Oh, and our friend "Bet It All Paul" is back with an installment of his weekend picks below. Sports gambling, ya know.


Three NFL games got moved yesterday due to Covid-19 issues. I have to admit, I assumed we were way past the point of moving games and such. I do know there's a widespread national outbreak of Covid (again) and it's everywhere, including right here in Baltimore, but I figured the NFL had their testing and vaccination stuff figured out.

I saw yesterday where people were crying about vaccinations (still), but vaccinated players are still testing positive for the virus and are still in Covid-related protocols that could force them to miss a game or games. Baker Mayfield was irate on Twitter yesterday complaining about asymptomatic positive Covid tests and others in the NFL have said the same thing recently.

A year ago, the mantra was "get the vaccine and you won't get Covid!" but we now know that was wrong. The vaccine can help (and before anyone asks, I am vaccinated) and all, but it's very obviously not a cure-all against Covid-19. Anyone that thinks that is obviously dead-red-wrong.

So while the NFL continues to navigate this situation, games are being moved because teams would almost have no "real roster" at their disposal. And even though the league won't say it, "fairness" comes into play here. Do you really want the Browns and Raiders -- both playing for their respective playoff lives -- to play a game where one of the teams has 8-10 starters out (nearly all of which were apparently vaccinated) and potentially no head coach or real quarterback at the helm?

There's a train of thought that perhaps the league should have built in another extra week into the schedule to allow for this or to potentially not have scheduled games on Christmas weekend, even, and use that Sunday (26th) as an "open date" for teams impacted by Covid-19. I have to guess the NFL figured they had all of this under control and that 2021 wouldn't look anything like the mess that was the 2020 schedule.

As for our #DMD readers...stay safe out there. We need you happy and healthy for the holiday season!

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bet it all paul says...


I don't expect everyone to follow along with my wagering here and I do have a few other sites like this where I list my picks, so I'll just let you know that I'm +2800 giving out selections at Drew's Morning Dish.

Drew told me this week I can come back as long as I keep winning, so here I am again!

NFL - Patriots at Colts - New England is 6-0 on the road this season and the Colts are in a fight for the playoffs so I think this game tonight is going to be a really good one. I don't have a feeling on the winner or the spread (the Colts are -2.5) but if you forced me to wager on the spread I'd take New England and the 2.5. Any way, one element of the game I do like is the total, which is 45. I think this one hits the total and then some, probably to the tune of 48 to 51 points. I love the over 45 tonight in Indianapolis. We're putting 200 coffee beans on the over.

Steph Curry and the Warriors play their 4th game in 6 nights this evening. A good time for an offensive slow down for the red-hot Warriors?

College hoops - Marquette at Xaver - Xavier is off to a great start (10-1) and playing their conference opener against Marquette (8-3). Xavier is (-10.0) in this one and the total is a comfortable 150. Xavier is 9-2 against the spread this year, Marquette is 5-6. Early season conference games are sometimes hard to judge, but we feel like Marquette is the play here in a close one. We're putting 100 beans on Marquette (+10.0) and another 100 (to win 360) on Marquette and the "under" 150 points. Xavier wins this one 77-69.

NHL - Kings at Hurricanes - We've had a nice run on NHL wagers over the last couple of weeks so we'll throw in a game we really like tonight in Raleigh. We love the total in this one (5.5) and will throw 200 coffee beans on the "over" in a 5-2 Carolina Hurricanes win.

NHL - Oilers at Kraken -- Another total we love, as Edmonton is in Seattle with a goals total of "6". This one sets up to be a high scoring contest and we're going hard on the "over 6" here. Another 200 beans on the total going "over" as Edmonton squeaks out a 5-4 win.

NBA - Warriors at Raptors -- The total in this one is very inviting (210.5) as Golden State played last night in Boston and now faces the Raptors this evening. Both teams have scored 100 or more in 4 of their last 5 games, but we see Golden State perhaps feeling the impact of playing their 4th game in 6 days. We like the "under" 210.5 in this one. Something in the 104-97 range seems about right to us. 200 beans on the "under 210.5".

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Friday
December 17, 2021
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2672


it's difficult...


They're playing a big football game in Baltimore this Sunday, you might have heard. It's not a playoff-decider or anything like that but it could go a long way in either helping or hurting the Ravens' post-season chances in 2021.

But while 71,000 people in Charm City start mapping out their Sunday plans in anticipation of a showdown with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, there's a police officer clinging to her life about 1,000 yards from the football stadium.

It's difficult to write about football today when the events of early Thursday morning are still fresh and stirring about. A 39-year old police officer, who told friends she was joining the force to "make a difference" in the wake of the Freddie Gray unrest, was ambushed in Curtis Bay on Thursday and is fighting for her life at Shock Trauma.

I realize they have to play the game on Sunday, but it almost seems inappropriate given what is going on in our city and what transpired on Thursday. How can we celebrate anything in Baltimore when a police officer gets treated like that while trying to service the very community who turned on her?

And to watch and hear that widely circulated Instagram video, where eyewitnesses essentially reveled in the officer's distress. I'm not sure I've ever heard or experienced something in Baltimore as sickening as that. A mother, a grandmother, a sister, an aunt -- laying there fighting for her life while someone standing 50 yards away essentially says "that's what you all get..."

In the aftermath of yesterday's police officer ambush, I think the Ravens should immediately cease with the "Omar whistle" prior to player introductions. I understood the concept when the idea was launched back in September and loosely endorsed it at that point, but I certainly wasn't in the camp that it was the greatest idea in the history of ideas. I understood the meaning behind it -- "a warning of sorts" -- and the fan reaction prior to that Kansas City game was overwhelmingly approving, but in light of what happened on Thursday I believe the Ravens should discontinue the whistle and distance themselves from a show and character that essentially glorified criminal activity in Baltimore, albeit in a TV show.

The football game on Sunday is important. But right now, as you read this, there's something else far important happening at Shock Trauma. Lives are lost every day in our city, many due to gun violence. And, yes, any lost life is worth grieving over, but when the police officers who sign up to protect all of us are left for dead in their own vehicle, the professionals in charge -- government and law enforcement -- have to step up and do anything and everything in their power to get the violence to stop.

Perhaps there isn't an answer or a remedy to our city's crime and gun violence or one would have already been discovered. I don't know. But I do know it will be hard to get excited about a football game in Baltimore on Sunday while Officer Holley clings to her life.

It's hard to write about sports this morning. May God continue to bless Officer Holley and the medical professionals who treat her at Shock Trauma.


It would appear as if Tyler Huntley will get the start for the Ravens on Sunday unless something dramatically changes with Lamar Jackson over the next two days.

I'm totally OK with that.

Tyler Huntley vs. Aaron Rodgers? Bring it on.

And, no, I'm not suggesting -- as some have done on talk radio this week -- that this could be Tyler Huntley's chance to "Wally Pipp" Lamar or anything even close to that. Lamar Jackson is the Ravens' starting quarterback no matter if Huntley goes 25-for-35 and throws 4 touchdowns on Sunday in a 34-24 Baltimore. But there's a growing sense as you watch these games week after week that backups and depth are critical to any team's success.

I think Huntley is more than an adequate back-up to Lamar. Could he start in the NFL? Maybe. I've seen some pretty dismal quarterbacking this year, frankly. I have no idea what the Steelers plan on doing next season, but they could certainly do a lot worse than Tyler Huntley. And maybe he just serves as a stop-gap for a year while they figure it out? I'm just saying...he's better than a back-up, potentially.

More importantly than where Huntley plays next year is how he impacts the Ravens between now and the end of the season. He could very well play the whole game Sunday vs. Green Bay. And while it seems reasonable to think Lamar won't miss the Packers and Bengals game, it's at this point where I might casually mention the Ravens' "injury history" and the divulging of return dates and such isn't exactly one of the franchise's strong points. In other words, I think Lamar will be back for the Bengals game, but Huntley might have to run the show for the next two weeks.

I've been suggesting for the last six weeks or so that Lamar's uneven play throughout the '21 season might very well be a sticking point for the Ravens in the off-season when they try and navigate Lamar's new multi-year contract. I've heard some people opine the spotty play could lead the organization to "think twice" about signing him to a long term deal.

In no way can I see that happening.

They are going to sign Lamar to a new deal and that's that. But his play in '21 could help the Ravens keep the cost down a little, maybe by a year or two. What once looked like a 6-year deal at $45-$50 million per-season might now wind up being "only" a 5-year contract in the $35-$40 million annual salary range. There will be pressure on Jackson to sign something similar to what Josh Allen inked a year ago but there's no guarantee his play in '21 will warrant that kind of package. No matter what anyone says, contract negotiations are largely based on recent accomplishments. Lamar was great in 2019, good in 2020 and has been "just OK" in 2021. Of course, there's still time left for him to make 2021 into something memorable and a season that could help, rather than hurt, his contract status moving forward.

In the meantime, Tyler Huntley will handle things just fine on Sunday if he's forced into duty. He's not Lamar Jackson, but he's Tyler Huntley. And so far this season, when called upon, that's been plenty good enough for me.


The golf world will be watching with great interest tomorrow and Sunday as Tiger Woods makes his first appearance in an event since last February's car accident in Los Angeles.

I understand the value Woods brings to an event and a TV broadcast. Never before has a "hit and giggle" tournament like the Father-Son championship been this anticipated. But it's Tiger and he's 9 months removed from nearly losing his right leg. So everyone's going to watch.

Which Woods will get the most attention this weekend?

But in all honesty, the "other Woods" might be more entertaining and interesting than Tiger. I mean, what can we really learn about Tiger on Saturday and Sunday that we don't already know? He wouldn't have entered the tournament if he wasn't ready to compete at some sort of high level. It really is -- as Tiger calls it -- a "hit and giggle" event, where he can blast it all over the place and take advantage of the scramble format by using his 12 year old son's tee shot on most of the par 4 and par 5 holes.

I'm serious. I think 12-year old Charlie will be, as he was a year ago, the talk of the event. Sure, things are different this time around because of Tiger's injury and return, but by about the 4th or 5th hole on Saturday, we'll know enough about the Dad and we can shift our focus to the Son.

There are a lot of PGA Tour players who would someday wind up with a TOUR-playing son. Craig and Kevin Stadler. Bob and Kevin Tway. Jay and Bill Haas. Jack and Gary Nicklaus. Of those, Haas was a legit, big-time TOUR player who actually won the Fed Ex Cup one year. Stadler was good for a while. Kevin Tway is still looking for his breakthrough. Gary never amounted to much when he finally got his TOUR card.

Someday, when he makes it on TOUR, Charlie Woods will be the most scrutinized of them all. Sure, he still has a lot of developing to do, but you know a TOUR career is bound to happen. He's receiving the best instruction a 12-year old can receive. He'll go to Stanford like his Dad or perhaps one of the big golf schools like Oklahoma State or Pepperdine or Alabama will somehow scoop him up. And he'll get plenty of sponsor exemptions, private air transportation, and just about any other benefit a rising professional golfer can receive.

Watch his golf swing this weekend. It's remarkably solid for a 12-year old junior golfer. Can he be as good as his father someday down the road? Well, that would be quite an accomplishment given that his old man is the best player ever. But if you can find a wager somewhere that asks you to bet on Charlie Woods winning a PGA Tour event by the time he's 23 years old, get your money together and make that bet. You'll wind up cashing in, for sure.

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faith in sports


Today's edition of "Faith in Sports" showcases former NFL wide receiver Ricardo Louis, who was once a 4th round pick of the Cleveland Browns and used his faith to battle through a series of injuries that eventually shortened his NFL career.

This is a great 11 minutes of testimony from Louis, all brought to you by our friends at Freestate Electric. We appreciate their continued support of our "Faith in Sports" segment here at #DMD.


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Thursday
December 16, 2021
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2671


thursday quick hits


With the Ravens signing of veteran quarterback Josh Johnson yesterday, it would appear as if Lamar Jackson won't play this Sunday vs. Green Bay.

Of course, the signing also could have been "Covid protection" as well. Teams around the league are getting crushed with positive Covid tests and there's always a chance both Jackson and primary backup Tyler Huntley show up at practice on Friday and test positive. And then what?

Tyler Huntley might make his 2nd start of the season this Sunday vs. Green Bay.

But the more reasonable assessment is that Jackson's ailing right ankle will force him to miss this Sunday's game -- which in and of itself isn't a terrible thing -- and Johnson will serve as Huntley's relief vs. the Packers.

John Harbaugh bristled at the notion that having Lamar ready for the Bengals game was more important than tryimg to squeeze him into this Sunday's contest with Green Bay. He was asked about that scenario on Wednesday and immediately replied with a terse: "No, that's not what we're thinking. We want to win every game we play. If Lamar can go this Sunday we want him out there."

That's a fine answer, Coach, but it's also not really the truth. I mean, you'd like to win this Sunday. A win would be helpful, for sure. But the Bengals game is far, far more important than is this game coming up on Sunday. There's the tiebreaker with Cincinnati at stake, plus the division record and the conference record, if it's necessary to use one, two or all three of those things to determine the Ravens' playoff viability.

Closing up on the Ravens-Packers topic, I think Tyler Huntley will do fine. Better than Lamar? No. But am I petrified that Huntley could have a stinker and the Ravens might get blown out 37-13? Not really. I think Huntley has acquitted himself well in his limited duty this season. I'm not suggesting he's a whisker away from being a starter in the league somewhere, but I think he's a perfect compliment to Lamar as the team's backup quarterback. I expect he'll do just fine on Sunday vs. the Packers.


During my weekly visit on Glenn Clark Radio yesterday, the host brought up recent criticisms of Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman and asked for my opinion on Roman's work this year and his status moving forward.

My stance on Roman hasn't changed one iota over the last few years. He's a "run strength" coordinator who has always been able to churn out extremely successful running attacks, whether that was in San Francisco, Buffalo or, now, Baltimore. His weakness has always been developing and producing a passing offense.

There's little doubt that this year's slight uptick in his passing numbers is due to the fact that the Ravens lost their top two running backs in pre-season. All things being equal, my guess is the Ravens would once again boast a top 5 running attack and a bottom 10 passing offense. But without Dobbins and Edwards, and with the Baltimore running game stifled a bit over the last second half of the season, the team's passing numbers are a bit better than perhaps we expected.

Baltimore currently ranks 3rd in rushing yards per-game at 144.8, but they are 20th in rushing yards per-game over their last 6 games.

Passing wise, they now rank 12th overall at 243.0 yards per-game, which is actually far better than I'm sure even the most vocal Roman critic would believe. But even then, there's no way anyone would classify the Ravens as a "dangerous" passing team.

I'm in no way suggesting Roman is above criticism. I've been critical of him quite often over the years. That said, he is exactly what he's always been. If you've followed his career at all and you're not just howling at the moon for the sake of howling at the moon, you realize that Roman is simply following his career path here in Baltimore.

I don't know much, but I know this: When the Ravens get rid of Greg Roman (someday, whenever), the next guy who gets the offensive coordinator gig will come to town with great fanfare attached and a palpable "relief" that we have finally have a new person designing the offense and calling the plays. And as sure as the sun rises in the East and Jim Nantz says "Hello Friends" at the beginning of every NFL telecast he does, the next offensive coordinator in Baltimore will be a bum within three seasons. I mean, he might not really be a bum, but that's the way the masses will see him in no short time.

I suppose it's that way everywhere, but I'm not everywhere to learn it for myself. The offensive coordinator is the most thankless job in the NFL. Even when/if you're good at it, you get no credit. And when something goes wrong, it's always the coordinator's fault.

I brought this up earlier in the week. The fact that the ball wasn't getting thrown to Rashod Bateman when Lamar Jackson was the quarterback is somehow Greg Roman's fault. For some reason, though, Tyler Huntley throws it often to Bateman. I don't know why or how that happens, but it does. People blame that oddity on Roman, but yet they don't give Roman any credit when Mark Andrews catches 12 passes for 110 yards three out of five games.

Don't misunderstand this as an effort to relieve Roman from any criticism he deserves. Instead, take it for what it is: an example of how the coordinator is the most maligned guy in town. When things go well for his offense, it's because the players performed. When things don't go well, it's because the coordinator doesn't know what he's doing. And while there's no real data to back this up, let's all admit this while we're beating up Greg Roman. He forgot more about football and running an NFL offense yesterday while he was lifting weights at the team's facility than you and I will ever know.

So, I might be one of those people who sorta-kinda doesn't know if Greg Roman is the best guy for the Ravens given his strengths and weaknesses, but I'm also the guy who knows that the next man who gets the gig is going to have a brief honeymoon with the fan base and then he, too, will be public enemy #1 within a couple of years. That...you can count on.


Steph Curry set the new NBA record for career 3-pointers on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden and he did it in 511 fewer games than Ray Allen, who previously held the record. Curry's 2,974th 3-pointer came in just his 789th game. Allen needed 1300 games to score his 2,973 three point baskets.

It's not in any way surprising that Curry broke the record. I think we knew three years ago he would, someday, be the league's all-time leading 3-point scorer. It's that he did it in 511 fewer games that's the most impressive note.

Steph Curry became the NBA's all-time leading 3-point shooter on Tuesday night in New York.

There are athletes who come along once in a generation and are forever known as "game changers". Not only because of how great they were at the position they played, but because their style and success motivated others to try and be just like them. The first one that comes to mind is Michael Jordan. Kids on playgrounds all over the United States stuck out their tongue and tried to "be like Mike" while they were putting the ball in the basket.

Tiger Woods would fit that profile as well. He changed golf, not only within the PGA Tour itself, but with millions of junior golfers all over the world. Back in the 1970's, you might say that John McEnroe had that sort of impact on men's tennis. He played a style of tennis a lot of young players wanted to emulate.

Steph Curry changed the NBA. There were other successful 3-point shooters before him -- Allen and Reggie Miller among them -- but no one has ever been as successful at piling up "the three" than Curry. He's on the fast track to what could be his 3rd career league MVP award this season and the Warriors are most definitely NBA title contenders again this season. And they don't even have Klay Thompson back in the lineup yet.

But for one night on Tuesday in New York, team records and titles took a back seat to individual greatness. Steph Curry is the best shooter in the history of the NBA and he now has the milestone to prove it.


The Urban Meyer era is over in Jacksonville, as the embattled head coach was fired late Wednesday after a troubling story from last August was published in which Meyer allegedly kicked Josh Lambo, the team's former kicker, who was stretching prior to the team's final 2021 pre-season game.

"And you..." Meyer reportedly said to Lambo. "Make your f**king kicks!" At that point, Meyer kicked Lambo in the leg as he stretched.

"Don't you ever kick me like that again!" Lambo reportedly said to Meyer.

"I'm the head coach of the team, I'll kick you anytime I want," Meyer reported countered.

There were other incidents, as well, including Meyer's hiring of a strength and conditioning coach who was accused of bullying African American players in college. That one, and his threat to cut unvaccinated players, resonated the loudest in the Jaguars' locker room, but it was his recent comment that his assistant coaches were all "losers" that was perhaps the final nail in Meyer's coffin.

What's interesting about the Meyer dismissal isn't the actual decision itself. It was apparent from jump street that Urban Meyer wasn't going to be successful with the Jaguars. What's more interesting is the issue of high profile college coaches recently trying to make it in the NFL and either outright failing or simply finding life and career suits them far better at the college level.

Jim Harbaugh is probably the most obvious example, other than Meyer. Harbaugh had a nice run at San Francisco that even resulted in a Super Bowl appearance, but his abrasive style wasn't a great fit for the 49'ers or the NFL, so back to college (Michigan) he went.

Chip Kelly is another example. Terrific in college, not so terrific with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Bobby Petrino lasted 13 games in the NFL (Atlanta) after a successful stint at Louisville.

Even the great Nick Saban didn't find the NFL to his liking after a short run with the Dolphins.

There have been some success stories, of course. Marv Levy, Tom Coughlin and Pete Carroll were all college coaches who had (are having) success in the NFL.

But Urban Meyer is, yet again, just another college coach who couldn't duplicate his success at the NFL level. Why is that? I wish I knew. And I'm sure there are a lot of NFL owners who wish they knew, too.


Just a reminder that Glenn Clark and I will be at Glory Days Grill (Towson) tonight from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm to share some holiday cheer and collect any gently used winter coats or apparel you can bring along to donate to the men at Helping Up Mission.

Glenn and I will be heading downtown to Helping Up this coming Monday, December 20, for our annual distribution event that helps the 400+ men who are housed there. With the development of the new women's facility at Helping Up Mission, we're now able to also assist the women who have fallen on hard times and have sought out Helping Up Mission for their recovery.

A lot of the apparel items donated through this drive are also used as holiday gifts for the men and women who aren't able to get out and purchase gifts themselves this year. So your donations are assisting in a variety of ways!

Our friends at Freestate Electrical and Jerry's Toyota are also collecting apparel items and will join us on Monday to distribute everything. It's our favorite day of the year and we appreciate those of you who have donated items in the past and again this holiday season.

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#dmd comments








Jeff “Fireball” Roberts     January 19
It was just a matter of time before the Dallas coach pulled a mccarthy. Ya’ think Manning will be invited back to College Park next season ? Yeah, me either. I hope the CBA gets settled in the next 2-3 weeks. I am looking forward to Orioles season.

Travis     January 19
Drew



On your constant bashing of the Flyers (most subjects that pertain nothing to ice hockey), did the hatred start when some Flyers Fan poured a beer on you at The Spectrum for wearing a Caps Jersey?

KC     January 19
@Drew saying what the FM radio guys won't say today because they're tied into UM basketball. Today reminds me of the way @Drew was on the radio when he was the only guy in town willing to hammer the Orioles for their losing ways. Old school Dish today!!!

Stats Nerd     January 19
@Kenny-yeah the whole thing makes little sense. I thought if managed properly they could have run at least 2 and maybe 3 more plays with 14 seconds. If they felt more comfortable from, say the 25, run a 1215 yard out route and get out of bounds. Wild man

@Chris-yeah I've heard people ask about Duv. Think Deebo is thicker but Duv has wheels. I'm not sure it would work either but some of those things had to have worked better than some of the crap they were running. Getting Duv 6-8 touches a game certainly makes sense to me.

I am EXTREMELY bullish on Bateman. He won't be Deebo but I think he could be an absolute monster next year. He tics all the boxes: strong physical, runs clean routes, incredibly good hands. If GRo or whoever doesn't get the ball to him in space next season it will be a huge error to me. Reminds in a lot of ways of Anquan.

lou@palo alto     January 19
a UK study has shown a post covid brain fog that can last up to 9 mo--on a variety of cognitive tests there was a decreased attention span, memory and overall game performance--??Lamar he certainly looked slow and confused in his last few games--fyi

Bill     January 19
I consider myself a Maryland basketball fan. I completely agree that they looked disinterested last night. I am feeling a little disinterested too. I don't know why but the Terps have lost me this season. Very little energy on or off the court. Players (and maybe coaches) look like they are just going through the motions. I worry what the recruits must be thinking. Maryland better get this ship turned around quickly or fans could be in for a few years of bad basketball.

David Rosenfeld     January 19
I feel bad for those guys--as basketball players. Their coach--he quit on them. I don't care as a fan if you're glad he's gone, you have to admit that's what he did. And I'm sure they feel like they're kind of on their own right now. I mean...heck...even some awful MD teams had a great home court advantage, and they don't even have that anymore.

And now...what's happening is that they realize that they aren't good, and that the mechanism isn't in place for them to get better. And I'm not sure how they are going to respond to that.

I think this is Square 1. Reese will probably leave, despite his sister. The good news? You can get good quickly with the right coach.

Tom J     January 19
Maryland basketball is now resembling what Maryland football has been over the years. And it's starting to look like no one cares about the basketball now either judging by all of the empty seats there. Turgeon is laughing all the way to the bank......

Chris in Bel Air     January 19
Was watching the Caps and then remembered Terps were playing too. Flipped to that game, saw they were down by 17 and flipped back to Caps. Glad that's all I saw because if two writers are roasting due to lack of effort, it's not good.

@StatsNerd - Enjoyed today's article and agree on Deebo. He is unique player and I'm sure all fans wish their team had a multi-tool player like that. On that note, I don't expect Duvernay to be the same exact talent as Deebo but I do feel like the Ravens underutilize him. He might get one jet sweep or a poorly executed/timed screen but that's about it.

Agree w/ @DelRay - thankfully Ravens hired Harbs and not Garrett.

Kenny G     January 19
Stats Nerd - the one way I thought of the Dallas draw play was could Dak run far enough in say 10 seconds (need time to spot and spike) to make the next play(s) have a higher probability of success. The difference of a 41 yard vs 27 yard TD potential play cant be much but having two chances from 41 was probably the better option - TD or pass interference. Add in the factors that Dak did not give the ball to the ref and the line effectively blocked the ref from spotting the ball - what were they thinking? Sorry you answered that.




MFC     January 19
Who knows what goes through the heads of these players. I can't call them them kids because many are over 21 and with "re-classing", transferring in high school now the transfer portal in college many may well be 23 and 24. I do know when I watch games I don't see many "college looking kids" on the floor. I see men with incredible strength. Maybe, even though they probably have no idea what the old ACC was about are hearing about going to warm Miami or Florida State and now have to play in the dreary, cold midwest to face Michigan, Northwestern, Iowa etc. Who knows, but you're right, they didn't show up that's for sure.



Faithful, picking games is a guess. Yes computers, reading about past performances, metrics and "that stuff" can make it an educated guess but so many things can and do happen in a game that it comes down to you're either right or wrong. Remember, you're getting free thoughts here. You're introspection may be 100% correct and then..... Much easier to just pick a winner, now add in a spread and the job gets tougher. If not for the 1/2 point the faithful coffers would be a few thousand richer.

Dale, no need to read any comments dissing you, you made an educated guess, it didn't turn out. The world didn't end and unfortunately Omicron is still with us. You do write great re-caps.


Delray RICK     January 19
That's why the "COWGIRLS " have been nothing but a 500 team for years. Think if we didn't hire JOHN.

Mike     January 19
Drew and Dale both going in with both barrels on Maryland today. Wowza!

Ray Ray     January 19
#MJ Dale had the courage to make his "prediction" BEFORE the game was over.

MJ     January 18
Dale gonna get crushed in 4......3.......2.......1

Steve of Pimlico     January 18
I don't bet football,but what makes Drews picks any better than anyone else's. I would bet his golf picks as he has a degree of expertise there.

David Rosenfeld     January 18
7 teams in each conference making the playoffs aside, it was still kind of amazing to see the kinds of blowouts we saw.

Did I think the Eagles and Patriots were good teams? No. Was there reason to believe they'd be blitzed like that IMMEDIATELY? No way. And surely the Steelers weren't any good, but they just as surely found ways to stay in games all year.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals are a good team, but I can't imagine they could play worse, including maybe the worst play I've seen a QB make in his end zone. And for all intents and purposes, the Cowboys SHOULD have been blown out.

Howard     January 18
Unless the NY COVID rules change between now and the playoffs, the Nets would be better off finishing 8th in the conference. That way Kyrie will be available for any game 7 (unless they play the Knicks or Raptors)

Pauly Dee     January 18
The Emperor Has No Clothes.



We've been fed this "Get the shots...they're safe...they're effective" junk long enough. Wake up and smell the coffee. I personally know, or know of, over 100 fully vaccinated/boostered up people who have gotten the virus. In addition, scientific journal, The Lancet, and others have published articles showing that the shots don't stop the spread of the virus. And what are the long-term studies showing us of the effects of getting the shots?



On this, Kyrie will be shown on the right side of history. The tyrants of NYC and many others in what used to be known as, "The Land of the Free," will not be.

Chris in Bel Air     January 18
Despite their expanded playoff format and giving opportunities to pretender teams like the Steelers, the NFL does have the 8 best teams now playing to earn a spot in the Super Bowl. Cards started off hot but limped in losing 4 of last 5. Cowboys? Plenty of talent but after all the penalties and that bonehead play on the last drive, they didn't deserve to move on. Raiders were close but just didn't have the offensive horses. All 4 games this weekend are intriguing match-ups. Should be much better games than this past weekend.

unitastoberry     January 18
Another NFL playoff blowout last night. Cardinals folded like a chair in December/January. There QB is not impressive in 3-4 years he's probably working for a living. I hope it gets better next weekend. Cha-Ching!

MFC     January 18
Good weekend for the faithful. Here's the recap of our mythical $1,000/game wager.



YTD ($300)

Wins 4 = $4,000

Lose 2 = ($2,200)

Total = +$1800 hope everyone sends the site owner his wine of choice, you can afford it



YTD = ($300)

week= +$1800

YTD Total +$1500- in the NFL betting that many games this is a WIN





Hope Ramey and the faithful didn't plow it all back in last night.

Just a note I didn't chart the "best bet" of the week.



It would seem to me that the betting faithful didn't like "all" of the picks and went with your own thoughts and prognostication as some have posted of OC weeks that are now paid for. No biggie and congrats but you can't scram from the mountaintop about the picks if you strayed. That's not exactly apples to apples.

Certainly glad you won. If you rode the pony all the way you would be up and those PXG's would be on order. Still time to make a serious dent into Vegas.


aaron     January 17
I bet $5 grand on the Cardinals since Drew was so sure of that pick, I sure hop e they can rally!

Billy     January 17
Hey @Mark, how we doing on that AZ pick tonight??

George     January 17
What odds can I get the Jacksonville Jaguars finish above .500 next year and win at least one playoff game the next year?

snead     January 17
If Billy had the balls to wager he'd be winning $$$ and wouldn't be here crying! LMAO

Mark in Perry Hall     January 17
Has anyone ever lived in someone else's head rent free like @DF lives in @Billy's head? LMFAO.

DJ     January 17
I only bet DF's "Best Bet of the Day" games and wound up plus $1,000 for the season. He was pretty good at those games, FWIW.

Ramey     January 17
Billy, I bet the Best Bet pick every week and would usually pick one other game or sometimes two because that's pretty much what my budget allowed for. I started out at $200 a game and eventually took it to $500 a game. I don't remember exactly which weeks this happened but I went 2-0, 3-0, 2-1 and 3-0 over a 4 week run. I think it was in week 2, 3, 4, 5. It was early in the year I know that. I was up $11,300 at one point but week 16 or 17 I went 0-4. I'm not even sure Drew knows this but he was very good picking AFC West games. I think he went 13-3 according to my calculations.

Billy     January 17
LOL, sure "RAMEY". Did you know ahead of time which pick was a loser, or you bet enough on the others to net such a nice haul??

You faithful crack me up....

Czechm8     January 17
Completely agree with you about the playoffs. 5 games this weekend and 3 were curb stompers. The Eagles and Patriots were out of it early and once the Chiefs got their footing, they ran off 5 TDs in under 12 minutes. But Drew is right: there is no going back with the oligarchs who run the league. A 7th team in each conference is extra revenue in their pockets, which is first and foremost in their planning. The only way it would possibly change is if people stop going to the games and/or viewership numbers, which impact advertising dollars, drops. I see neither happening anytime soon.

Ramey     January 17
I bet real money on Drew's picks and I am $7,800 to the good. I'm happy as I can be to share that info.

kevin     January 17
The "faithful" all crawling out of the world work today. Serious question, why is it ok to post pernicious comments when site owner does well with his picks, but when critics do the same on the inevitable bad weeks, those folks are shouted down and derided as "haters"?

Seems to me both sides should be allowed to crow about their respective views if they so choose. I don't understand either side, as my guess is none of these commenters are truly betting on any of these picks so who cares?? If they are, it seems the MFC scoreboard would tell you how those bets have gone.

Caps definitely struggling with having consistent lineups, but its the NHL, no need to worry about how any team is playing until Mar.




Stats Nerd     January 17
My hot take: Jimmy G is far better than most give him credit for. Dude wins. A lot. Would prefer he not be in a Pitts or Browns jersey

@Chris re: Caps. They have been decimated with injuries/COVID protocol. There certainly is reason to be concerned but I think they likely overachieved initially and perhaps their record is reverting to the mean now. They are really good 5v5 but their PP is hot garbage atm. Also Vitek > Samsonov right now IMO. But Ilya has more upside probably

DF     January 17
Note: There are 16 teams in each conference. Not 15. I forgot the Jaguars and Giants are considered "in the league". Apologies.

jfd23@comcast.net     January 17
I wouldn't be surprised to see Jimmy Garoppolo wearing a Steeler uniform next year.

Chris in Bel Air     January 17
Was hoping the Raiders were going to win, A- because the players have been through a lot this year and was really liking their resolve and B- watching them beat the Bengals would have been nice. But Drew is correct. The Steelers, Eagles and Patriots were not playoff teams and they were exposed as such. Same would have been had the Ravens somehow squeaked in the last week. Sure, Steelers, Eagles and Patriots earned their spot under the current NFL rules. But, the NFL's goal for the playoffs isn't high-level competition. It's all about viewing and money. More teams = more viewing = more money. No doubt they will continue to expand as well and keep rewarding more mediocre teams with a playoff spot.

Drew, any concerns growing with the Caps? They have lost 5 of last 6 and are 7-10 over last 17. Just a little mid-season slump that is normal part of the ebb and flow of a season or something more telling of them?

MFC     January 17
@JK, the recap comes at the end of the weekend with no games remaining, I think there's a game tonight at least the site owner has picked a winner for tonight so I'm sure there's one. Reading comprehension wasn't taught where you went to school? Hopefully it was not Calvert Hall, this was posted Saturday, "and it was a great start to the weekend for the faithful. Right now out of the hole, good luck."



Speaking of Calvert Hall congrats to Lou Eckerel on his announced retirement. We were combatants in high school and both stayed involved with sports. He is a really good man and outstanding coach and athletic director. I wish him well in his retirement, he's earned it.



Please get me out of your head trust me I'm not worth it.


James     January 17
Like "TimD", I had a profitable weekend thanks to Drew. Appreciate the "site owner" coming through! ha ha ha

If my math is correct Drew is now 51-44 picking games. I wonder what the peanut gallery thinks about that?

JK     January 17
4-1 for @DF yesterday and crickets from @MFC and @Billy and the rest of the doubting Thomas types. Poor sports.

unitastoberry     January 17
The mediocre football league MFL was on full display this weekend. Extra playoff teams and the 17 game season made for several run the score up games. Playoff series are for elite teams not mediocre teams. I was pretty glad at the outcome with NE, Cowgirls,Eagles,and Stillers all going home. It was a good year to root against PA teams which I always do and promises to get worse next year including Penn Pedo St getting butt kicked and signing their loser coach to a 10 year deal in UnHappy Valley. I don't care who wins now just hope they are all clutch games to the finish.

TimD in Timonium     January 17
Yesterday's Bucs / Niners / Chiefs parlay turned out pretty well. Thanks, @DF.

Eric in Gaithersburg     January 17
CJ- How am i backtracking? When did i say Manning would win with these scrubs. Of course its the players, recruited by lousy coach.

Bradley     January 16
So if one were a twitter follower- 49ers went from epic loss to NFC championship? Great insight!

Chris     January 16
Check that GM. Drew is now 4-1 ATS and 5-0 on the ML.

Stats Nerd     January 16
Mike McCarthy doing Mike McCarthy things. Nature is healing

Gm     January 16
@DF 3-1 ATS and 4-0 on the ML. Haters gotta be sick.

Billy     January 16
@MFC The faithful too busy allowing @Kevin to live in their heads lol....

MFC     January 16
Surprised the faithful didn't catch my mistake a rare mistake by them. I was wrong the DMD big bettors are not up $1,000 YTD they are actually down ($300).



Sorry for the error but also proves to the faithful that I'm not exactly hanging on every game and it was a great start to the weekend for the faithful. Right now out of the hole, good luck.

Jerryh     January 16
I was thinking the same thing as "KJ".

Wednesday
December 15, 2021
r logo#DMDfacebook logoIssue
#2670


it's that time of year again!


At our annual pre-season meeting for Calvert Hall Golf earlier this week, I outlined our January and February workout schedule, discussed three main team goals for 2022 and highlighted a few new practice methods we are going to employ in the spring.

I also offered this reminder to the players.

"You don't have to play golf at Calvert Hall. You get to play golf at Calvert Hall."

That absolutely is a condition we stress on every team member. You don't have to practice at Country Club of Maryland on a Tuesday in March when it's 35 degrees at 3:15 pm. You get to practice in 35 degree temperatures.

I don't have to spend January through May coaching high school golf. I don't have to spend the late winter months outside in freezing temperatures coaching golf. I get to do those things.

In other words, you're much better served looking at it all -- whether you're a player or a coach -- like it's a privilege, because it is. There are others who aren't on the team who would gladly play bare chested on a Tuesday in March when it's 35 degrees -- if that's what it took to play varsity golf, they'd do it.

The same, of course, goes for the high profile spring sports at Calvert Hall like lacrosse and baseball, two nationally ranked sports who routinely field some of the best teams in the entire country right there at Goucher and Putty Hill. There are kids not on those two teams who would give up chocolate and energy drinks for life if they could play lacrosse and baseball at Calvert Hall.

Which brings me to today's entry here at #DMD.

I'm involved in a 3-day Christmas Outreach Project at my church, Immaculate Heart of Mary, where we are distributing clothes, shoes, toys and food to families in need in our area (21234 and 21286 zip codes). Through the generosity of our parish members and students at IHM, we have collected over 500 pieces of winter apparel, 400 pairs of shoes, 400 toys and enough food to feed a small army for a month.

Our mission: To make Christmas brighter for families in need and, hopefully, bring them closer to Jesus and the work he did in his own community.

The distribution phase started yesterday and runs again today and tomorrow from 9 am to 2 pm at Cartwright Hall in the back of the church. I'm pleased to report we served 28 families yesterday. They came in with nothing and left with sweaters and jackets and shirts and shoes and toys and food. Their Christmas was yesterday, in reality.

And as I gathered our volunteer staff yesterday morning before the doors opened, I reminded them of something.

"We don't have to be here this week organizing this event and helping our neighbors shop and secure these items for their Christmas season. We get to be here."

Nearly every person walking into Cartwright Hall would gladly change places with all of us if they were the ones distributing the items and we were the ones picking them out.

"There but by the grace of God go I..."

Next Monday, for the 13th straight year, Glenn Clark and I will oversee our annual "Winter Apparel Drive" to help the men -- and now, women -- of Helping Up Mission in downtown Baltimore.

Thirteen years! I have no idea how many pieces of apparel we've collected and taken down there over the years, but it has to be nearing 50,000. And that, of course, is all because of the generosity of you and others reading this who might have been on board back in the old days when Glenn and I started this project while we were together on the radio in Baltimore.

Even when the radio show ended, we figured out a way to keep it going, mostly through Glenn's continued diligent work. He is the real driving force behind it all. I'm just the guy who helps move the piano on stage. He's the one who actually plays the piano. Glenn is the superstar in this whole thing and I'm very proud of him.

Last night, he and I ventured over to Towson University to collect winter apparel outside of Gate 1 prior to the Tigers' men's basketball game with UNC-Greensboro (a nice 74-64 win for Towson...way to go Tigers!). We even had one man walk over to us and take off the coat he was wearing and put it in our box! He literally gave us the coat off his back, which, it reminded me, is precisely what Jesus would have done in the same circumstance.

Our friends at Freestate Electrical have been collected coats and winter apparel for three weeks now and they will join us next Monday, December 20th at Helping Up Mission for our annual distribution event there. Jerry's Toyota also has coats and apparel they've collected, as have other "friends" in the community that have reached out to Glenn and I.

Next Monday, the lives of the men and women at Helping Up Mission will be greatly impacted by the generosity of people they'll likely never even meet. It's always an amazing experience to be down there on distribution day and see the men come in to pick out clothes and items for themselves and family members as Christmas gifts. There is always that reminder, which I mention to Glenn every time we're there."

"There but by the grace of God go I."

Our final collection event for this year's Helping Up Mission drive is tomorrow night, Thursday, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm, at Glory Days Grill in Towson.

There will be a certain football-playing guest in the house to say hi and sign autographs and I'm working on having someone else slip in for a visit and a photo opportunity. Glenn and I will be on hand to say "thank you" in person and collect your gently worn (or new) apparel; winter coats, sweaters, sweatshirts, etc.

So if you're in the Towson area tomorrow night and you'd like to come by for a beverage and say "hi", Glenn and I would love to see you. If you can bring a piece of winter apparel, please do. If you can't, that's cool as well. It would just be nice to see you and chat a bit.

And remember, you don't have to go to Glory Days tomorrow night and bring winter apparel. You get to do that. There are plenty of men at Helping Up Mission who would love to be in your shoes tomorrow night and be capable of bringing items for you to wear and enjoy.

"There but by the grace of God go I..."


when a father sees his son


Our resident #DMD technology expert, George, offered the line of the year yesterday when he saw the video of Tiger Woods and his son, Charlie, side by side, swinging the golf club.

"If I was 13 and thinking about a career in golf, after seeing this video I'd take up heating and air conditioning."

It certainly is impressive, that's for sure. Charlie Woods and his father will tee it up this weekend in the Father-Son championship in Orlando and while the father will be in the spotlight, the event gives the younger Woods yet another opportunity to impress everyone with his blossoming talents.

The PGA Tour released a video yesterday in advance of this weekend's tournament that shows Tiger and Charlie side-by-side and the similarities are incredible. The video also captured Tiger watching it all, which was really cool to see. There's nothing that matches parental pride, in my opinion.

I did not see the comment section yesterday during the day time hours because I was busy with the above-mentioned Christmas Outreach Project and an afternoon swim meet with my son. When I finally settled in last night, I saw the commentary surrounding Tiger and the response to what I thought was a fairly benign paragraph here at #DMD on Tuesday, where I simply asked: "Is anyone else excited to see Tiger play this weekend?"

One commenter here used the space provided to him to highlight Tiger's personal failings, which is certainly that commenter's prerogative.

The commenter went on to essentially ask: "Is there nothing Tiger could do that would warrant his supporters to abandon him?"

I've said this numerous times over the years both here and in other media platforms. I follow Tiger Woods for golf. I'm well aware of his mistakes. They've been publicized to a large extent by the media even though, on occasion, the situation wasn't really any of "our business". But I get it. When you're a public figure, your marriage becomes our business. Just ask Tom Brady, who had a son out of wedlock and still gets reminded of that with pictures and tabloid stories a couple of times a year.

I watch Tiger Woods play golf. That's what I'm interested in with him, in the same way I watch football players play football and don't really concern myself with what they do off the field. In all of my years doing radio shows and seeing players out and about in the community, I saw some, let's just say, "interesting things". But that never stopped me from rooting for them as football players in Baltimore.

As long as Tiger Woods never does something in golf that I'm not willing to associate with, I'm good with it. As an example, I was once very fond of Patrick Reed's toughness and tenacity on the golf course. I thought, circa 2016 or so, he was one of the best competitors I'd seen in the world of golf. But the incident at Torrey Pines last January soured me on Reed. It's hard to accept that kind of incident on the course and still root for him to be successful.

If they caught Tiger cheating on the course like they caught Reed cheating last January, there is no question my enthusiasm for Tiger would diminish. The greatest player of my lifetime -- by 20 lengths -- took his ball out of the rough and claimed it was a plugged lie even though it wasn't? I couldn't and wouldn't be cool with that. Alas, that's the difference between Woods the golfer and Woods the person.

Tiger's off-course "issues"? Not for me to judge. Like all of you reading this, I've done a lot of dumb things in my life. Some of them I still regret. But I don't have the media following me around and highlighting them, thankfully.

"There but by the grace of God go I."

So, while I realize others judge Woods for his marital problems, his pain-killer issues and his February 2021 car accident, I don't put those in the context of "favoring" or "disfavoring" him. Those are his personal failings. They aren't my business in the least, although I certainly see the ability to create a "teaching moment" out of them for my own children and/or golfers I coach. But in the end, the ultimate teaching moment is this one; forgive those who have sinned.

I'm sure Tiger isn't proud of some of the things he's done over the years. But you can't have a comeback without a setback, and Woods is probably still trying to complete his "personal comeback". It's not a sprint; it's a marathon.

Oh, and by the way, you're welcome to feel any way you want about Tiger. If you want to marry his personal flaws and blemishes with his golf game and you can't support, endorse or hope he returns and plays well, I'm certainly not going to try and talk you into thinking differently about him. You do you. I merely brought up "my point" again because it was asked in a roundabout way yesterday and I thought it was a good opportunity -- for probably the 10th time -- to explain why I want nothing but success for Woods.

And with that, here's the Tiger-Charlie video that would drive George into the heating and air conditioning business. The similarities between the two are remarkable.



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The Stats Nerd
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Contributed by #DMD's data and numbers analyst
The Stats Nerd


i don’t think, i don’t know and i don’t care


I typically consume the NFL via the NFL Red Zone. No commercials and zipping around from key spots in every game is more fun than slogging through boring stretches of whatever game is on CBS or FOX. Of course, when the Ravens are on I generally stick with the broadcast feed for almost the entirety of the game.

So this week when the Ravens disappointing 24-22 loss to the Browns ended, the feed was sent to the NFL Today (or whatever it is currently called) in New York. There I watched Boomer Esiason, Phil Simms and Bill Cowher absolutely screeching about the “poor decision” made by John Harbaugh to attempt the 2 point try after scoring to cut the Browns lead from 15 points to 9.

To put it mildly, it was embarrassing.

Their arguments about the conversion attempt were over the line and completely unfair to Harbaugh from my perspective. It came across as almost mean spirited to my eyes. They dismissed his decision smugly as if this were something an elementary schooler would know.

The funny thing is, any snot nosed kid playing Madden understands these decision points better than some of these analysts (I’m being mildly hyperbolic).

In the wake of another 2-point conversion controversy, John Harbaugh's tee-shirt tells the story..."us vs. them".

The exchange showed a complete unwillingness of the trio to look at things from a different perspective. Clearly Harbaugh has studied these situations and come to a conclusion. Clearly the staff and management of the Ravens have studied it. The same can not be said about the talking heads mentioned above.

I’ve mentioned before that if data doesn’t support a certain decision, the person making that incorrect decision is either unaware or willfully chooses to ignore that data. There really isn’t any other explanation. These talking heads went after Harbs with the typical anti-analytics arguments seen week after week. Someone even pulled out the old trope of making decisions by referencing spreadsheets. That got a real chuckle from the panel. Riveting stuff.

But the coup-de-gras of the whole diatribe was Phil Simms blathering on and finally saying “…I don’t think, I don’t know and I don’t care”. I’m sorry what? That’s a real quote from Phil Simms discussing how analytic decisions are made.

So he blasts the decision, blasts Harbaugh for making the decision and then openly shows contempt for how the decision was made all while admitting he doesn't understand any of it? WTF kind of analysis is this? To quote an anonymous Twitter response I saw “I think I’d rather listen to the refs interviewed after the game”. It was that bad.

Look, I sort of get it with Cowher. He coached in a different era when this data wasn’t as available. He was successful and probably thinks the way he coached the game is the right way to coach the game still.

But for Esiason and Simms to not even attempt to understand why Harbaugh and others make these decisions week after week is laughable. Both of these men host talk radio shows throughout the week yet can’t seem to make an effort to learn something new.

And it’s not just these three men. There are untold commentators across all sports that are so stuck in their way of thinking that they have a complete blind spot to anything new that challenges their long held beliefs. It seems to me a commentator willing to do just a smidge of work in understanding this information would be able to provide so much more color and perspective to the discussion.

Even if they ultimately disagreed with whatever analytics driven decision was being made, they would actually be able to knowledgeably say “this is why Harbaugh is doing this”. Currently, they either don’t want to understand the decision making process or they are willfully ignoring it. (end rant).

At this point, I haven’t even stated what the modeling suggests when cutting into a lead from 15 to 9. Not surprisingly, the answer is generally it is best to go for 2 after TD1 (though not by a lot). Most of the modeling favors a 2 point try the closer the game is to the end (technically it is based on expected additional possessions rather than just time).

The website 538.com has a handy decision tree that calculates the change in WP% of the 2pt try down 9 at only .5% (though that tool doesn’t factor in remaining possessions). A few others I looked at measure the change as +1-2% in WP. The closer to the end of the game the more the 2 point decision tilts towards going for 2 pts after TD1.

So like last week’s game ending call, this isn’t a fist pump decision one way or another. If you don’t buy into the modeling or the efficacy of these analytical measures, you could certainly elect to kick the extra point and be down 8. I would, of course, argue that this is incorrect thinking and think that the coach is giving up some valuable WP%. But I wouldn’t think it’s the end of the world. The idea that Harbaugh’s decision was some back of the envelope, fly by the seat of his pants, riverboat gamble is utter nonsense.

Frankly I’m not sure this is entirely an analytics decision per se. Is there some WP% at play? Yes. Is it enough to jump up and down about if you disagree with the decision from either perspective? No, I don't think so. I would classify this more of a game management decision with some analytics sprinkled in but that's just me.

But back to Sunday’s decision. Some social media folks and old schoolers seem to think there is value in making it a “one score game” or “maintaining momentum” by deferring the 2 point try into the future. Try as I might, I just can’t wrap my head around this thinking.

Why should we care about any of these things? I stated last week the goal of analytics is to identify the best approach to help the team win. In reality, shouldn’t this be the litmus test for making any decision at any time throughout a game? Don’t care about extending the game or any other factors…what gives us the best chance to win.

One Score Game –

This is the way that football coaches, fans and commentators have thought in these spots for years. Cut the lead to 8 and “Hey it’s a one score game still!” Except is it? Well technically it’s a 2 SCORE game…touchdown and successful 2 point try. It’s only a “one POSESSION game” if the 2 point try is successful after TD2.

There is no magical reason to expect a successful 2 point play is more likely when down 2 versus when down 9. Or later in the game for that matter. We know we are going to need a successful 2 point try at some point. So why wouldn’t we want to know the success or failure of the 2 point try sooner rather than later? The sooner the coach has the information on what is needed the better the decisions he can make.

So going for 2 after the TD1 always gives the coach something of an information advantage. If they make the conversion, the team is down 7 and can make decisions accordingly. If they fail on the conversion they are down 9 and can make decisions accordingly.

The alternative is to defer the 2 point try until later in the game. Often this will be very late with little time on the clock. At that point the team basically has to convert the 2 point try or the game is all but over and the team loses. If, instead, the team tried for 2 with, say, 6 minutes left and failed, they now know they need 2 possessions and obviously 2 scores to win the game. While not a great situation, it is certainly far better than failing as the clock expires and realizing you need another possession.

Imagine Drew is playing in a US Senior Open Qualifier next spring. He shoots even par on the front nine and I walk up to see how he is playing. He is in the last group and I know for a fact that -2 gets in (a little unrealistic but bear with me). He asks me how it’s looking and I tell him. He then decides to cut off a corner on a par 5 or knock it over a pond in 2 fronting a par 5. He still needs to execute the shots but he has better information now. He may hit the appropriate shots or he may not. But it won’t be from a lack of knowledge.

Now imagine I walk up to him on the 18th green and he asks me the same question. Let’s say he is one shot out so he needs to hole his 40 foot putt. Ok he knows what he needs to do but is this a realistic chance? I mean it’s better than no chance but this is it. Make it or he is done. In the first example he at least has 2 hours to try and find a way to get it done.

In our example, would a coach rather know that he needs 2 possessions after an unsuccessful 2 pt try with 6 minutes left or know they need 1 more possession with 30 seconds left? I would assume the former but your mileage may vary.

Momentum –

I think it was our very own Earl Weaver who famously said, “Momentum is only as good as the next day’s starter”. Put another way, momentum can be stopped by the opposing team through their good play. The idea that a team that scratched and clawed its way back into a game without its star QB, best defensive lineman and all the other impact players is suddenly going to fold up and quit after a failed 2pt try seems laughable on its face.

As it was, the Browns went 3 and out TWICE using a grand total of 3 minutes and 1 second after the failed 2 point try. So either this idea of momentum shifting is nonsense or the Ravens defense was the “next day’s starter” using Earl’s quip. One or the other.

Momentum, much like teams “Wanting it more”, is just something that has been thrown around for years and years to “explain things”. But now with the ability to actually analyze with data and previous results we are able to realize that all of these buzzwords and cliches are just that…buzzwords and cliches. Most of them really don’t explain anything.

Many sports psychologists debate whether momentum is really even a thing (for transparency I don’t really think it is). Or is it simply an after the fact explanation that fits the narrative of what actually happened on the field of play. It certainly can’t be measured (or at least I don’t know how you measure it). Was there momentum that changed hands on Sunday from the Ravens to the Browns after the failed 2 pt try? It certainly doesn’t appear that way.

It’s kind of like the announcers curse. Announcer says “Justin Tucker hasn’t missed a field goal from….blah blah blah”. Well the announcers say this every single time #9 lines it up. We only remember the announcers curse the one time a season the announcer says it and Tucker misses one. We forget all the other mentions of his kicking prowess prior to kicking because nothing bad happened.

“Momentum” is sort of like that. A big play happens and suddenly the announcers are screaming about momentum. We remember it when the “momentum” leads to an outcome for which “momentum” makes sense. We don’t remember the momentum when the team receiving the ever elusive Big Mo is sacked on the first play and goes three and out. It no longer fits the narrative.

Other Consideration –

Another consideration is that if a coach's goal is to win in regulation then 2 successful 2 point tries are required, obviously. Who knows if Harbaugh would have done it or not. But if he wanted the option to win in regulation with 2 touchdowns and conversions then he had to try after TD1.

A final thought that I think was interesting. With 1:43 left on the Cleveland 38, the Ravens faced a 4th and 6. This was coming out of a Cleveland timeout (I’m guessing this was when there was a CLE injury…can’t recall why they would have called timeout).

There was some discussion on Twitter about going for the Field Goal there and cutting the lead to 6. I suspect if the ball was closer Harbaugh would have gone ahead and sent Tucker out. He knew they needed a TD and a FG but, of course, the order of those scores isn’t important.

As it happened, Huntley connected with Bateman for 30 yards down the sideline and the Ravens scored on the next play from scrimmage. Obviously once they got closer to the goal line the thought process switched to getting it in the end zone. But what would have happened if, for example, Bateman got out of bounds at the 21 yard line? Does Harbaugh trot Tucker out right away and get the 3 or does he press for the end zone right there? I guess we will never know.

I started this by ranting about the announcers on CBS. I know it’s hard to fill these shows up with quality information. I also realize that these shows aren’t necessarily targeting knowledgeable, informed fans. They mostly consist of fluff pieces and hot takes. I get all of that.

But my hope is that over time these dinosaurs are put out to pasture and can be replaced by analysts who actually…analyze. Crazy thought right?

All of the networks employ an official consultant that gets called in to comment on a replay review or some coaches challenge. Maybe one out of 10 of those interactions provides something illuminating. Most are just spots with old refs reminding us over and over “that there has to be clear and convincing evidence to overturn” or “important reminder the call in the field was…”. It’s mind numbingly worthless virtually every time.

What if instead there was a data consultant that could come in the broadcast with some actual knowledge. “Harbaugh is doing XX here because it increases his WP% by…” or “Pete Carroll just gave up XX% of WP by punting there”. This would be different and help explain what is happening far more than “…I don’t think, I don’t know and I don’t care”

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Tuesday
December 14, 2021
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#2669


penn swimmer ignites controversy


A University of Pennsylvania female swimmer set a bunch of records recently in the pool at the University of Akron. That's the good news, at least for her. Lia Thomas set a new school, meet and pool record in something called the Zippy Invitational and also set an Ivy League record in the 500-yard freestyle final.

Penn swimmer Lia Thomas recently set records as a transitioning female, two years after competing in the same competition as a male.

This is Ms. Thomas's third year on the Penn swim team.

The first two years, she competed as a male.

This year, she's competing as a female, having transitioned in 2020.

After taking a mandated one year absence in order to partake in testosterone suppression, Thomas is back. But not without controversy.

Her school, pool and conference records have left a number of people wondering about the fairness of it all, particularly given Ms. Thomas previously competed on the men's team and was a quality swimmer for the Quakers.

Opponents and even teammates have reacted angrily to Thomas's domination this year.

So who is right?

The transgender subject in college sports has been polarizing in recent years, especially in the male-to-female sector, where testosterone suppression still doesn't level the supposed physical playing field.

The NCAA has been under great scrutiny throughout the discussion about transgender athletes, eventually settling on the mandated 1-year hiatus and testosterone suppression as a way of satisfying those who say a male-to-female transitioned athlete has the potential to dominate her new sport.

Well? What's right? And what's wrong?

There are actually two "levels", if you will, of transitioning high school or college athletes that some experts are factoring in when discussing a trans athlete's eligibility.

The first is an athlete who transitioned before beginning to participate on their high school or college team. For example, if a 16-year old male-to-female athlete completes her testosterone supression treatment prior to entering college, then it makes total sense to allow her to compete as a female in college. In other words, she competed in high school as a male and then wants to compete in college as a female.

The other scenario, where a male-to-female athlete transitions during college, is far more controversial. It could be viewed, as a number of experts have argued recently, patently unfair to naturally-born-female-athletes.

This is not meant to slander the trans community in any way or single out Lia Thomas has a "problem child". She is welcome to transition and lead the life she wants to lead. What she shouldn't be allowed to do, some are claiming, is to compete at the University of Pennsylvania as both a male and a female. Some of her supporters are saying that it's fair to her to allow it. Others would suggest it's not fair at all to everyone else competing against her.

So what do we do? Do we create a rule for the benefit of one (or a few) at the expense, potentially, of thousands of others competing in the same sport and/or same conference? Or do you put the needs of the thousands ahead of the needs of the few?

It's a slippery slope, because any refusal to allow a trans athlete compete is looked upon as a "terrible message" to the trans community.

The records and stats, though, tell a different story.

Allowing Lia Thomas to compete as a female this year has created a huge advantage for Penn's team, but has also cost other female swimmers opportunities to compete and, perhaps, win.

It's a tough scenario to navigate. But it really shouldn't be. College sports should be inclusive to all, but once you begin a sport in one gender, you should have to complete your eligibility in that gender.


Here's a news flash: the officiating in the NFL continues to be an issue. I know, I know. You're shocked. Me too.

OK, not really. Sunday's game in Cleveland -- and I only bring that one up because I watched it -- contained a number of "huh?" calls, including an early pass interference penalty on Chris Westry that sure didn't look anything like actual pass interference.

And speaking of pass interference, the Tampa Bay Bucs got away with one late in regulation on Sunday. That call might have prevented the Bills from winning the game outright and could, if things shake out on the bad end for Buffalo over the next few weeks, mean the difference between making the playoffs or not for Josh Allen and Company.

Oh, and how about this one? After the game on Sunday, veteran NFL referee Terry McAulay pointed out that the Ravens actually employed an illegal formation on their successful onside kick late in the game. The guys in the stadium, though, didn't catch it. And the Ravens nearly pulled off a miracle comeback in Cleveland.

It's one thing to "miss" a pass interference call. There's clutching and grabbing -- by both players -- on every ball that goes in the air. The game happens so quickly and your vantage point can often change in a split second. Those kinds of calls can be missed.

But how did the officials in the stadium not see the Ravens were in an illegal formation before Justin Tucker's kick? That's the one that's maddening. (And I'm saying that as a Ravens fan, of course. It's still maddening, because we all know that this Sunday in Baltimore the officials could miss the exact same call and the Packers could benefit from it and, this time, kick a field goal to beat the Ravens.)

Here's the most obvious solution to this whole thing: Sit someone upstairs, by themselves, and send every "contact" penalty up to their booth for an immediate review. They have a pre-determined amount of time to send a change back to the field. I'll make this up: It's 35 seconds.

If, any 35 seconds, the "eye-in-the-sky" can't change the call or doesn't feel he (she) sees enough to make the change, the call on the field stands and the game rolls on. It's 35 seconds. No TV commercials allowed or needed. Just take a quick look and keep on moving.

The Westry interference call from Sunday would have likely been overturned immediately by someone watching from the booth. It was pretty much that easy to see.

We used the term "contact penalty" just to give the whole thing some definition. In other words, illegal shifts and illegal formations wouldn't be thrown to the booth. Neither would offsides. Those, you assume, can be handled with ease on the field, although the officials in charge on Sunday missed that Ravens illegal formation on the onside kick, so there's that.

This all, of course, harkens back to the Rams/Saints playoff game a few years back when the Rams made the Super Bowl because of a blown pass interference call late in the game. A quick booth review there and New Orleans would have played New England instead of Los Angeles playing New England.

There's too much at stake these days to have games decided by missed obvious calls. Having someone sit upstairs and sift through the egregious errors isn't any more of a dumb idea than is playing 17 games, by the way. It can be done efficiently and correctly if you have an ex-official up there who quickly looks at it and says, "Good call, move on" or "You missed that one, guys. Reverse it."

Oh, and one other reason why getting the calls right matters now...

Everyone in America (practically) can not only wager on every game, they can now wager on just about every play and every prop bet you can imagine.

When money is rolling in on every play, you're best served to make sure every play is correctly called.


Anyone else excited to watch Tiger Woods play this weekend? I know I am, and not "just because" he's Tiger Woods, but more because it will give us our first glimpse at what lies ahead in 2022 for the 15-time major champion.

Can he play all 36 holes "comfortably" this weekend? Sure, he gets to ride in a golf cart, which makes things dramatically easier for his ailing right leg, but Tiger will still have to hit shots and put "game pressure" on his body that he hasn't done since last February.

If Tiger gets through the Father-Son tournament in good shape, when might we see his next tournament? He's routinely started his playing season at Torrey Pines every year (late January) but that seems unlikely in 2022. His foundation runs the Genesis Invitational in Los Angeles in February. Might that be a better spot?

It seems, to me at least, like we probably won't see Tiger until March, perhaps at The Players, as a lead-up to playing the Masters in April.

One thing for certain: The golf world is excited to see him back this weekend and so, too, are the TV folks. Never before has the Father-Son event been this anticipated.

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RANDY MORGAN
on American soccer


Americans are playing more and more of a vital role in international soccer these days, and Randy Morgan has his eyes on all of them for #DMD. Each Tuesday here, he looks at recent performances of American players and highlights upcoming games of importance.


u.s. men's soccer stock report


This week was a mixed bag for USMNT players with their clubs. Several of the star US players saw limited action due to injuries and coaching decisions. Meanwhile, a few young players delivered performances that could earn them bigger roles going forward. In the US, two USMNT backups were crucial in helping NYCFC to lift the MLS Cup.

Stock Up --

The MLS season concluded in Portland on Saturday with New York City FC winning in a dramatic shootout to claim the Championship. James Sands and goalie Sean Johnson both came up big for the winners, helping New York take a 1-0 lead into the final seconds before Portland pulled out a last second game tying goal.

After two scoreless overtime periods, Johnson came up with several key saves to give NYCFC a 4-2 penalty shootout win. Johnson was named MLS Cup MVP to cap off a strong year for the 32 year old keeper. His standout season has made a strong case for him to be the third keeper for the US behind Zack Steffen and Matt Turner.

In Germany, Chris Richards was back in the Hoffenheim starting lineup after his standout performance last week. He again proved key in a 2-1 win over Freiburg that moved Hoffenheim into the Champions League places in the Bundesliga. Richards was solid defensively but also important to the Hoffenheim attack. The young American hit a precise defense-splitting pass to initiate the sequence that ended in Hoffenheim’s first goal. Then he came up with the decisive play of the game, heading home a corner kick in the dying seconds of injury time to give Hoffenheim a big 2-1 victory. With his play the last two weeks Richards has earned back his starting role for his club and may be quickly moving up the pecking order for US center backs.

Nearby in Austria, it was Brenden Aaronson who had a big week for Salzburg. The New Jersey native was instrumental in Salzburg’s historic 1-0 Champions League win over Sevilla, which put them into the knockout round. They became the first Austrian team to progress that far in the Champions League since 1990. Aaronson showed good awareness of space and accurate passing in the game, along with his standard aggressive defensive pressing. He made a nice turn and pass to the wing from central midfield to help set up the game’s only goal.

He then delivered another standout performance in Salzburg’s weekend 5-0 win in the Austrian Bundesliga. In that match, Aaronson was one of the attacking hubs, dishing out six key passes, creating seven chances and getting an assist on one of the goals. This has been a breakout year for Aaronson in Europe and he will now get to lead Salzburg against Bayern Munich in the Champions League knockout round. If he continues to play at this level, it won’t be long before teams like Bayern are calling Salzburg to inquire for his services.

Earlier in the week, Zack Steffen got a rare start for Manchester City in their 2-1 Champions League loss to RB Leipzig. Man City had already secured the top spot in the group so they rested several key players. The scoreline could have been worse if it weren’t for Steffen, who came up with three or four good saves and could not have done much about either goal.

In Italy, Gianluca Busio started and produced a solid performance in an upset 1-1 draw with Juventus. Busio’s defensive work especially stood out, with him winning 8 of his 11 duels and picking up 9 ball recoveries. This is the aspect of his game the young midfielder needs to sharpen to be an asset for the US, so this was a promising performance against a top European team.

In Belgium, Mark McKenzie played well as a starter in both Europa League and Belgian League games for Genk this week. After being stuck on the bench for much of the season, it seems McKenzie is starting to earn the trust of his coach.

Nicholas Gioacchini has been in a similar situation since moving to Montpellier in the French Ligue 1. This weekend he came up with a big performance as a substitute, delivering a highlight assist in a 4-0 win over Brest. He has been productive recently as a sub and this should help him earn more time going forward.

Stock Down --

It wasn’t all positive this week for Americans abroad. After seeming to have bounced back from an early season slump, John Brooks appears to have lost his starting spot for Wolfsburg after a couple more poor performances. There are also reports that he may have a strained relationship with his new coach and could be on the move in January. Perhaps this would be best for Brooks in the context of the US team. A reset with a new club may give him the chance he needs to regain his form as one of the top American defenders.

Stock Even --

There were more concerns around several other stars of the USMNT. There isn’t any question of the importance to the US team for these players, as they are all vital for qualifying, but it is crucial they keep healthy and in top form.

Weston McKennie, Gio Reyna, and Tim Weah all missed action this week due to injuries. McKennie seems to be the least severe, with his return expected in the next week or so. Reyna has returned to training for Borussia Dortmund but has still not been included in a game day roster. Weah had been on fire for both club and country before getting injured in practice last week and he looks like he’ll be out until at least early January.

A couple other US stars seem to have some work to do to get back in the good graces of their club coaches. Christian Pulisic only saw 30 minutes as a sub off the bench in Chelsea’s two games this week. He was effective in his limited time, producing a nice assist in a 3-3 draw with Zenit St. Petersburg in the Champions League. However, he was left on the bench for Chelsea’s 3-2 win over Leeds this weekend. Chelsea has an incredible depth of talent, so Pulisic will need to continue to impress both in training and his limited game time to get on the field more. At least he can’t get injured if he’s not playing.

After American coach Jesse Marsch was replaced as RB Leipzig head man, Tyler Adams has seen his role reduced. He was used as a second half substitute in Leipzig’s 2-1 win over Man City and again in their 4-1 win over Borussia Monchengladbach. It is a small sample size, so it may just be due to those specific matchups, but new coach Domenico Tedesco is putting a greater emphasis on ball possession, which may favor some of Leipzig’s more technical midfielders over Adams.

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Open Again
Monday
December 13, 2021
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#2668


still in control...somehow


Never before has a team fighting for their playoff lives lost a football game in December and felt good about it...but the Ravens came awfully close to that feeling yesterday after the 24-22 loss in Cleveland.

For starters, John Harbaugh's team showed grit and heart in coming back from a 24-3 first half deficit. The Browns showed what they always show -- the inability to get out of their own way, narrowly winning the game after their offense fizzled and their defense hung on for dear life.

Mark Andrews had another huge day for the Ravens in a losing effort, but Baltimore maintained first place in the AFC North nonetheless.

And when San Francisco pulled off an overtime win at Cincinnati a few hours later, the Ravens were still in first place in the AFC North and well in control of their own playoff destiny despite falling to 8-5 and losing Lamar Jackson to an ankle injury.

If you watched the game as a Ravens fan yesterday and weren't proud of the way they competed in the face of adversity, you probably shouldn't watch them play any longer. You've lost your way...

Let's get the playoff stuff out of the way first.

The Ravens are 8-5 with four games remaining, three of which will come at home. Next Sunday they host Green Bay, the following Sunday they're at Cincinnati, and then they end the season with home games against the Rams and Steelers. Here's the scenario: Ravens win 2 of those 4 and they'll win the AFC North at 10-7. Which two? Well, that's anyone's guess. But if they can finish at 10-7, that should be good enough.

The Bengals are at 7-6. Next Sunday they're at Denver, a team fighting for their own playoff lives at 7-6. Then they host the Ravens and Chiefs. Cincinnati's final game of the season is on the road at Cleveland. They'll be hard pressed to get to 10-7, but if they do and if one of their last three wins is over Baltimore, they'd win the tiebreaker if the Ravens also finish at 10-7.

Cleveland is also 7-6. They host the reeling Raiders next Sunday, then visit the Packers and Steelers before ending the season at home vs. the Bengals. They, too, have their work cut out for them in an effort to reach that magical 10-win mark.

Interesting note: Because they play one another in the season finale, the Bengals and Browns can not both finish at 11-6. Barring a tie by each team, one of those two teams is going to finish with 7 losses at a minimum.

Pittsburgh sits at 6-6-1 and their road is tough down the stretch. They have the Titans at home, the Chiefs on the road, the Browns in Pittsburgh and the Ravens in Baltimore. Best case for them? 3 wins and 1 loss, which leaves them at 9-7-1. They're not going 4-0 to finish 10-6-1. Not happening.

The Ravens are in the catbird seat from a schedule standpoint. They just have to get to 10 wins at the very least and they should be fine. It seems very unlikely that the Browns and Bengals will both go 3-1 down the stretch. Not the way they've both been playing, anyway.

Now, back to yesterday's game.

Major props to Tyler Huntley, who stepped in for Lamar Jackson and acquitted himself well for the most part. Sure, he lost two fumbles , one of which negated a scoring drive in the third quarter, but Huntley looked -- can we say it? -- like a replica-Lamar with some of his shake and bake moves and ability to convert on third down with his arm and his legs.

The Ravens would obviously like to have Lamar back for this Sunday's home showdown with the Packers, particularly after watching the way Justin Fields and the lousy Bears offense chopped up the Packers defense last night, but if Lamar can't go, Huntley will step in and do just fine.

The very first call into the FM station this morning (I was taking my son to swim practice at 6:00 am for those wondering why I would be listening at that hour) was from someone essentially saying the Ravens should save the $40 million a year they're going to shell out for Lamar and just give Huntley the starting quarterback job.

In no way am I agreeing with that, but I will say this: If Lamar is out for a couple of weeks and if Huntley leads the Ravens to a few wins and a playoff spot and/or the AFC North title, that issue will fester in Baltimore with a certain segment of the fan base. There will be people who say, "Just let Lamar walk and give Huntley the gig. They're pretty much the same quarterback." You just know that's coming down the road if Huntley shines while (if) Lamar is out of action.

Big credit goes to the Baltimore defense, who stepped up in the second half and kept the game close long enough for the Browns to become the Browns again. Cleveland's vaunted running game was again held in check by Baltimore, as the Browns accumulated just 100 yards on the ground.

And two weeks after torching the Baltimore secondary, wide receiver Jarvis Landry was largely held in check, with 5 catches for 41 yards, plus a touchdown.

The Cleveland offense generated only 290 yards of offense (190 passing, 100 rushing) and, yet, hung on to win. The Ravens defense did themselves proud in the second half, though. They deserved a better fate.

Rashod Bateman had his best day as a professional with 7 catches for 103 yards and was within a whisker of breaking the game's final throw on 4th and 16 for a long gain or a touchdown. But Denzel Ward sniffed out the throw after Cleveland applied pressure on Huntley and took Bateman down just before he could hit full stride with the ball. If Bateman could have snuck past Ward, he had clear sailing.

For the Ravens to successfully navigate their way through the last four games and make the playoffs, Bateman will need to be a central figure in the team's offensive game plan. Hollywood Brown is reliable enough, but that's about it. Sammy Watkins is seemingly always battling some kind of injury, Miles Boykin no longer plays and the team doesn't throw the ball to Devin Duvernay for some weird reason. So Bateman has to shine now, which he can if the balls comes his way.

Speaking of Bateman and Andrews, that brings us to offensive coordinator Greg Roman. The talking heads in town and the folks on Twitter will continue to roast Roman for his play calling, but here's the thing: Where is the balance for Roman's ability to get Andrews the ball game-in and game-out? Where's the positive commentary about the way Bateman has started to emerge as a big time passing threat?

I'm not a huge Roman fan, personally, but I see him for what he is and what he has always been: A coordinator who generally has a top 5 rushing offense and a bottom 5 passing offense. This year, though, it's been different, as the Ravens were 12th in passing heading into yesterday's game in Cleveland. Roman isn't going to morph into something he's not. He's a "run first" guy who uses the ground game to set up the throw. He gets beat on in town just like every other offensive coordinator who has been in Baltimore and some of that is understandable, but the narrative that he's responsible every time the Ravens lose or don't complete a pass or don't pick up a first down on 3rd and 12 is laughable.

There was a lot of bellyaching and whining on Twitter when the Ravens went for two points after a touchdown cut the score from 24-9 to 24-15 in the 4th quarter. But there's no question about this: If your plan was to try and win the game with two possessions, going for two after the first touchdown was absolutely the right call from Harbaugh and his analytics staff in the press box.

I totally understand that media/radio types need to create a "hot take" for Monday and coach bashing is definitely the easiest way to go about it, but when you're trailing by 15 points and you'd like to win the game in two possessions, you go for two points when you score the first touchdown. That's not football. That's actually called "math".

The problem in Baltimore, as I see it, is some media people have drawn their personal line in the sand with regard to Harbaugh, Roman, Lamar, etc. and they aren't in a position to change directions -- even when one, two, or all three of those guys are in the right. So it's always just bash, bash, bash. It's old. And tiring. But, frankly, very predictable.

As it turned out, the Ravens failed to get that first two point conversion and trailed by nine points. A few minutes later they then scored a TD and kicked the extra point to only trail by two, 24-22.

And then they got the ball back after the onside kick and had a chance to move into field goal position and win the game.

It's interesting to hear/read people say, "You kick the extra point first...then you know what you need to do for the rest of the game."

Maybe I'm wrong, but no matter what you do on the first touchdown, you "know what you need to do for the rest of the game". If you get the two point conversion, you know you still need a touchdown and an extra point to tie or another two point conversion to win.

If you kick the extra point first to make it 24-16, you know you still need a touchdown and a two point conversion to tie the game.

If you go for two after the first TD and don't get it, you now know it's going to require more than one more possession to win the game, unless you score a defensive touchdown.

This stuff about "knowing how to play the rest of the game" is total #clownshoes stuff. You "know what you need to do for the rest of the game" no matter what happens. Whether you can actually pull it off is a whole other story.

In the end, here's the whole situation in a nutshell.

Are you playing to win or playing to tie on your last two possessions? Either way, you need at least one two-pointer to get 15 points and two to get 16 points.

Going for two points was the right call, no matter what the gabbers on TV, radio and the newspaper say.

I assume "Stats Nerd" will have an opinion or two on the whole thing later this week. I look forward to seeing what he thinks about it.

This isn't as dire as everyone paints it out to be. The Ravens are the only AFC North team with 8 wins and they're the only AFC North team with 3 home games remaining, too.

As crazy as it sounds for a team with half of their good players out for the season and a hobbling starting quarterback, the Ravens are still in the driver's seat in the division. And if they continue to play with the kind of heart they displayed in Cleveland yesterday, they'll figure out a way to scratch and claw their way to two or three wins and wind up claiming the AFC North title.

And don't forget this little nugget. The Ravens are in the same division as the Browns, Bengals and Steelers. Heck 9-8 might be good enough to win the division, truth be told. The Bengals and Browns are "always gonna Bengals and Browns" at the worst moment and the Steelers are cooked at 6-6-1.

The Ravens just need to hold serve at home and they'll be fine. And if they're going to lose one, dropping the Green Bay game wouldn't be all that crushing. Losing to a NFC team doesn't hurt that much and -- get ready for it -- losing the first one lets them know what they need to do for the rest of the season.

Too soon for snark after a tough loss like that one yesterday?

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around the nfl in 2 minutes and 6 seconds


Titans 20 - Jaguars 0 -- You know there wasn't much to this game when the biggest story out of Nashville was the perfunctory post-game handshake at midfield between Mike Vrabel and Urban Meyer. Meyer's team just got punched in the mouth, 20-0, and people thought he should have stood there at midfield and bro-hugged Vrabel. Anyway, the Titans are quietly 9-4 and rolling in the direction of the AFC South crown since they own the tiebreaker over the Colts (7-6).

Chiefs 48 - Raiders 9 -- Kansas City is really starting to flex their muscles now and the Raiders look like they've thrown in the towel. Don't look now, but K.C.'s defense has given up 9 points in three straight games and -- here's a stat -- they've allowed a grand total of 65 points during their current 6 game winning streak.

Dak Prescott and the Cowboys are cruising to the NFC East crown at 9-4 after yesterday's win over Washington.

Saints 30 - Jets 9 -- The Saints are 6-7 and actually have a winning road record (4-3) believe it or not. The Jets? Ummm, yeah, they're not very good. New Orleans still has an outside shot at the post-season; at Tampa Bay, home vs. Miami and Carolina and at Atlanta. They could finish 9-8, which might get them in somehow.

Cowboys 27 - Washington 20 -- The story of this game? Dallas flew their own heated benches in -- complete with the Cowboys logo -- because the Seahawks told them the benches the Washington team provided didn't heat up properly. Dallas is now 9-4 and on the verge of the NFC East title. Washington (6-7) can still make the post-season, believe it or not. They're at Philly, at Dallas, home vs. the Eagles and at the Giants. Win 3 of those 4 and they might make the playoffs. I don't see it happening, but you never know.

Falcons 29 - Panthers 21 -- I feel like I say this about every team in the NFC except the Lions and Bears. "The Falcons can still make the playoffs." They're 6-7 and somehow they're 5-2 on the road this season. They finish the season at San Francisco, home vs. Detroit, at Buffalo and home vs. the Saints. Like Washington, if they get to 9-8, they might make the post-season.

Seahawks 33 - Texans 13 -- I have no idea what to say about this game. Despite being 2-11, he Texans still have the best helmets in the league. So there's that, I guess.

Broncos 38 - Lions 10 -- Denver has had a crazy season. Started 3-0, dropped 4 straight, and now they're 7-6 and in the playoff hunt with four games left. Home vs. Cincy, at Raiders, at Chargers, home vs. Kansas City. If they're legit, they'll figure out a way to 3 of those 4 and make the playoffs. Even if they win two and finish 9-8, they could probably squeeze in somehow. My guess? They win 2 but don't make it due to tiebreakers.

Chargers 37 - Giants 21 -- Los Angeles hosts Kansas City this Thursday night with first place on the line in the AFC West. After that, they finish with wins over Houston, Denver and the Raiders. Los Angeles could finish at 12-5 if they get past the Chiefs this week. If not, they'll probably go 11-6 and easily make the playoffs. The Chargers could be a tough out in the post-season if their defense has a good couple of weeks.

49'ers 26 - Bengals 23 OT -- So this was weird. The Bengals actually scored first in OT on a field goal and still didn't win, as the 49'ers went right down the field and scored a TD on their first possession to win the game and stay alive in the NFC playoff race at 7-6. The Bengals just can't win at home in 2022; they're now 3-4 in Cincinnati.

Buccaneers 33 - Bills 27 OT -- After Buffalo tied it late at 27-27, Tom Brady hit -- can't even believe I'm writing this -- Breshad Perriman on a 55-yard TD throw in overtime to give Tampa Bay the win at home. The Bills are now 7-6 and they have the Panthers at home, at New England, home vs. Atlanta and home vs. the Jets. They should finish 11-6 and make the playoffs with ease.

Packers 45 - Bears 30 -- Chicago led 10-0 and 24-14 at one point and then Aaron Rodgers got interested and that was the end of Chicago's upset dream. I'm worried about next Sunday in Baltimore. The Packers might throw a 40-burger on the Ravens.

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dale williams aims the
terps spotlight

DALE WILLIAMS returns for his seventh season of covering all things Maryland men's basketball for #DMD. Terps Spotlight will preview and review all games in the 2021-2022 season.


terps get manning his first win at maryland


Yesterday, both Maryland and Florida unexpectedly lit up the scoreboard from long range. But the Terps were able to make a stop with one second left in the game, and walked away with a 70-68 win over a Gator team that was ranked #20 in the country.

Eric Ayala and Fatts Russell led the Terrapins with 19 points each, followed by Donta Scott with 12. Those three scored the last 14 points for Maryland, with Scott scoring just outside of the the paint with 16 seconds left in the game to provide the winning two-point margin.

The Terps shot 49% from the floor and 61.5% from the three-point line, helping to offset their 15 turnovers