Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Cavaliers obtain Javale McGee, lose Thompson

     The Cleveland Cavaliers were in need of a veteran frontcourt body that could fill-in at center behind Andre Drummond and spend some minutes at power forward as the backup behind Kevin Love after Tristan Thompson signed with the Boston Celtics over the weekend.

Cleveland attempted to fill that hole with a trade with the defending world champion Los Angeles Lakers as the Cavaliers obtained veteran big man Javale McGee to serve in that position.

The Cavaliers sent journeymen forwards Alfonso McKinnie and Jordan Bell to the Lakers for McGee and the Lakers second-round pick in the 2026 draft

McKinnie played in 40 games last season for Cleveland, averaging 4.6 points and 2.8 rebounds in playing around thirteen minutes a game, while Bell was signed after the season by the Cavaliers after splitting last year between Minnesota and Memphis averaging 3.2 points and 2.8 rebounds in over eight minutes a game.

Either or both McKinnie and Bell could be waived by the Lakers, who needed some salary-cap relief in order to sign Marc Gasol.

The Cavaliers side of the deal brings the 7'0 McGee, who averaged six points, five rebounds, and a block and a half in sixty-eight games for the Lakers averaging sixteen minutes game, to Cleveland.
The soon to be 33 years old McGee has played for six teams in his twelve-year NBA career after being selected by Washington in the first round of the 2008 draft and two years ago with the Lakers, averaging twelve points and just under six boards.

McGee will be part of the second unit, can play center or power forward depending on which of the centers/power forwards are on the court at the time between Andre Drummond, Kevin Love, and Larry Nance Jr.
McGee isn't an outside shooting big man, but he does perform well on pick and roll and shoots well from the inside.

As a solid backup or even as a complimentary starter that doesn't have too much expected of him, Javale McGee can emulate Tristan Thompson's numbers somewhat.

As for Tristan Thompson, the Cavaliers were considered the favorites to retain his services, but after the
Celtics offered a two-year contract for just under nineteen million dollars, Thompson decided to join a contender rather than the rebuilding Cavaliers.
The 29-year-old Thompson spent his entire career in Cleveland after being drafted fourth overall in the 2011 draft after playing one season at Texas.

Thompson posted career highs last season averaging twelve points and ten rebounds per game and even though his shooting percentage dipped a little, Thompson still shot .512 from the floor for the year.

Tristan Thompson removes another link to the Cavaliers' only championship season and the Cavaliers lose a player that is very popular with the fan base.
Thompson's effort was never questioned, he developed into a player that didn't try to do what his skills were incapable of, and was a solid locker room presence, despite the occasional distraction from his relationship with reality star Khloe Kardashian.

Tristan Thompson will be missed in Cleveland by fans, and he'll be missed by the media as well, but what he does best is better used by a contender than a bottom dweller.
Thompson will hit the boards, get the ball out on the break, and bang some bodies on the inside to do the dirty work that many don't like to do in the NBA.
In other words, he's exactly what a contender like the Celtics are looking for.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Browns Clip Eagles 22-17

    For the third time in a three-game homestand for the Cleveland Browns, the weather was terrible- this time it was the always grungy "wintry mux" by Lake Erie with the ever-present wind along yet again for the Browns.

The wind wasn't as bad as the previous two home games, but the game was yet another less than exciting tilt that didn't pick up until late in the game and wasn't safely in the bag until the recovery of an onside kick with seconds remaining in a 22-17 Cleveland win.

Nick Chubb rushed for 114 yards to lead the Browns and despite only gaining eleven yards on thirteen carries, it was Kareem Hunt that scored the only offensive touchdown of the game by the Browns with a extra effort hurdle over Philadelphia defenders in the fourth quarter.

Olivier Vernon sacked Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz three times and Sione Takitaki grabbed a wobbly Carson Wentz heave and ran fifty yards for the only touchdown in the first half from either team to lead the Browns defense.

The now 7-3 Browns will go on the road for the first time in a month with a visit to Jacksonville against the one win Jaguars next Sunday.

Brownie Bits

1) Third game of a three game homestand with all three having various types and degrees of foul weather. 
Rain, Wind, and Wintry Mix involved in all three games and I wonder just how much effect on the outcome that the weather had.

2) That's because a defense that looked like they would struggle stopping teams in the Sun Belt conference earlier in the season has suddenly looked like a quality unit.
The Browns allowed 48 points in the three home games, which is certainly solid enough, but I wonder how much was the conditions slowing down the visitors and how much was an improved defense?

3) The Eagles offensive line is terrible.
How else can you explain Carson Wentz being sacked five times against a Browns pass rush that was without Myles Garrett?
With a few breaks, the Browns could have perhaps doubled the amount of sacks on the constantly harassed Wentz.

4) Olivier Vernon has been a player that has heard his share of criticism since coming to Cleveland, but his three sacks with one of those sacks giving the Browns two points for a safety dampened that fire for a while.
Vernon has disappointed in his two seasons as a Brown, but while you cannot deny the lack of production by Vernon, I've thought that he could be one of those players that doesn't play well through pain.
Some players are able to play through pain and others aren't able to produce at their usual level when dealing with injuries, Olivier Vernon might be one of those players that struggle.

5) Baker Mayfield didn't throw an interception, but that didn't mean he played well.
Mayfield's fumble to led to the only Philadelphia touchdown other than in garbage time and his continued struggles with accuracy cost the Browns early when wide open tight ends Harrison Bryan and Austin Hooper were underthrown and overthrown on back to back plays that could have produced touchdowns.

6) Mayfield's misfires cost the Browns a touchdown as when Kevin Stefanski decided to go for iton fourth and goal with Kareem Hunt being stopped inches from the line.
Hunt was so close that he was initially declared as having scored before an Eagles challenge allowed a replay to overrule the officials original call.
That play doesn't happen with Mayfield hitting either of two open recievers.

7) Kareem Hunt struggled in averaging less than a yard a carry, but the sheer desire shown by Hunt in scoring a touchdown is one of the more encouraging pieces of the Browns season.
Coaching changes always brings rumblings of "culture changes" and this team is showing signs of doing just that.
Hunt broke a tackle, leaped over another Eagles and tumbled into the end zone for the score when he could have easily been taken to the ground.
Small things that you see are the building blocks of future success.

8) Nick Chubb was bottled up for much of the day, but once again in the fourth quarter it was Chubb breaking a big run against a worndown defense complete with the "Heisman" stiff-arm on Philadelphia's Joe Ostman.
The drumbeat has begun on talk of a Nick Chubb extension and with it the discussion of giving long-term contracts to running backs.
Between a Chubb extension and picking up the option on Baker Mayfield, Andrew Berry has difficult decisions to make.

9) Sione Takitaki hasn't been great as a starting linebacker or even good this season, but you had to feel good for him when he scored a touchdown after intercepting Carson Wentz.
I wouldn't be even mildly surprised to see Takitaki gone from the team next season or at minimum moved to special teams where he is best suited, but he did have one day in the sun.
Hope he kept the football.

10) Give Cody Parkey credit as well for his third quarter 46 yard field goal into the Dawg Pound end of the field, which has proven through the years to be the more difficult end of the stadium to kick toward.
Parkey's previous Browns experience has proven to be handy in a difficult stadium to kick in.
Stadiums in cold weather cities are always a bit tricky and teams that use rookie/young kickers do so at their peril.

11) Much of the chatter before the game was focused on Philadelphia quarterback Carson Wentz, who could have been a Brown but was passed over when the Browns traded the second overall pick to the Eagles in a 2016 trade that netted the Browns lots of draft picks that they naturally botched with busts and failures with the exception of the now-departed Joe Schobert.
Wentz holds onto the ball way too long and takes too many hits, but he's not protected well at all by an offensive line that is bad to be generous.
While Wentz doesn't appear to be anything near a franchise quarterback and the Eagles paid way too much for him, the Browns look arguably (past front offices anyway) worse for blowing the picks.

12) Carson Wentz does remind me of one of the more important things to remember when you are rebuilding a franchise.
If you cannot protect a young quarterback, he better be a special talent as even top of the draft passers can beaten into submission as the Browns failed to do for Tim Couch and the Texans were unable to protect David Carr.
Both of those players had disappointing careers filled with beatings, lost confidence, and ruined mechanics and from what I saw yesterday Carson Wentz may be the next quarterback to join that club.

13) Finally, I may be open to a domed stadium in Cleveland.
I may write about this in the off-season, but I'm suddenly Ok with this after never supporting it before.

14) 7-3.
I'm still not completely convinced this is a good team and they still have only one good win.
However, you play the teams they tell you to and you cannot blame the Browns for that.
Cleveland should be favored in all three of their four road games (Jacksonville, NY Giants and Jets) and underdogs in their visit to Tennessee and home games against Baltimore and Pittsburgh.
Three wins and 10-6 puts them in the playoff hunt, but tiebreakers could come into play.
Four wins should do the trick, let's see if they can get them. 


Sunday, November 22, 2020

Ohio State outscores Indiana 42-35

  The Ohio State Buckeyes had little problems moving the football and scoring points against the undefeated upstart Indiana Hoosiers, but they did have problems stopping Indiana from moving the ball through the air as Michael Penix's 491 yards and five touchdowns clearly show.

Still, even as Indiana closed to within seven points late in the game, I never felt overly concerned about the outcome in the Buckeyes 42-35 win.

Justin Fields threw for 300 yards and two touchdowns but threw three interceptions as well in the victory.
Master Teague ran for 169 yards and two touchdowns on the ground to lead a ground game that finished with 307 yards as a team.

Ohio State improves to 4-0 with the win and will travel in their next two games- next week to Illinois and the following week to East Lansing against Michigan State.

Olentangy Offerings

1)  You have to be concerned with a pass defense that allowed almost 500 yards and five touchdowns.
Far too many times, the safeties were caught out of the position and allowed their man to get behind them and even Shaun Wade, who you expect not to be vulnerable, has been victimized as well.
The next two games are softer, but the work is going to have to be done in practice to shore this up.

2) However, put the yardage (at least) in perspective.
The amount is severely inflated because the Hoosiers threw the football fifty-one times because they were behind or even (for a little bit in the first half) for the entire game.
Common sense says that a trailing team throughout will have to put the ball in air, so the yardage is somewhat of a non-factor, but the number of big plays (three players caught four or more passes that averaged between twenty one and thirty one yards) will make you remember this when Ohio State faces a explosive offensive team next time.

3) Another reason for all the passing- Indiana could not run the football.
At all.
Sixteen rushes for negative one yard.

4) While the national narrative is that Ohio State barely survived this furious comeback, it didn't feel that way in real time.
It was more of a grinding comeback and even at the end with Ohio State eating time off the clock with a touchdown lead, I wasn't filled with concern.
Perhaps I should have been, but I didn't.

5) In the end, the difference was a fourth quarter interception returned for a touchdown by Shaun Wade with under a minute to play in the third quarter.
Ohio State led by 21 after that play and in the final period, the Buckeyes played the clock on offense more than the Hoosiers.
That's not an excuse, it's a fact.

6) Ohio State may have slammed the door with five minutes to go but with the kicking game in shambles with the injury to Blake Haubeil, Ryan Day decided to go for the first down on a fourth and one from the Indiana seven.
Justin Fields rolled out under pressure,but launched a pass to Luke Farrell that sailed high.
However, for as much as I dislike the targeting rule, Fields was clearly hit helmet to helmet and yet no flag fluttered to the turf.
Indiana took possession and even thought they would not score on that or their final possession, the close game narrative shouldn't have gotten to that point as OSU would have had a 1st and goal from short yardage with the clock rolling.

7) Justin Fields threw three interceptions and the most concerning portion of that is the sudden appearance of Fields deciding to throw the ball up and try to make a play happen.
The first interception wasn't the case, that was the Hoosier defender watching Fields and knowing where the ball was headed, but the second was a ball that shouldn't have been thrown and was picked off after several tips, and the third was the worrisome play.
Fields should have just kept the ball and instead tossed up one of those goofy looking throws that you just know is going to wind up in the other guys's hands.

8) BUT on that interception, the play was made by freshman wide receiver Julian Fleming, who never stopped running after the ball and as Indiana's Jamar Johnson (who had intercepted Fields first and third picks) moved deep into Buckeye territory, Fleming jumped into the play, punched the football away from Johnson with Thayer Munford falling on the football to regain possession for Ohio State.

9) Master Teague may not have the breakaway speed that results in those 75 yard touchdown runs like Ezekiel Elliott or J.K. Dobbins did for the Buckeyes, but he runs hard, doesn't take plays off and I'll take those six, seven, and eight yards chunks every time.
Teague finished with two scores and 169 yards with the types of runs that accumulate totals and wear down defenses.

10)  Ohio State did start quickly with a two play, seventy-five drive that saw Justin Fields hit Garrett Wilson for a sixty-five yard pass before a ten yard version for the touchdown put six on the board.
Wilson finished the game with seven catches, one hundred sixty-nine yards and two touchdowns and continues to make a smooth transition to an inside receiver role.
Wilson has finished all four games with over one hundred yards and should he repeat that feat next week vs Illinois, he will tie the Buckeye record held by Cris Carter.

11) While I wasn't quite as impressed with Indiana as many were, I still have to give credit to the Hoosiers for not throwing in the towel when it would have been easy to do so.
I really like Tom Allen, who seems to building Indiana into a solid resident of the Big Ten's third tier for now, which means that they would be good for six to eight wins a year and a smaller bowl bid most seasons.
What I like Allen is the positive attitude that doesn't seem like it's a Tony Robbins course like some people in the Big Ten that trademark a phrase and beat you over the head with it.

12) This game might be good for the Buckeyes and could keep them motivated with games at weak sisters Illinois and Michigan State before the meeting with Michigan.
Unless a stunner of an upset happens, Ohio State appears to be headed for a Big Ten title game against Northwestern and they'll need experience handling a test before then.
This game against Indiana should keep them humble.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Myles Garrett positive for Covid-19

    The Cleveland Browns took a hit to their playoff hopes when Myles Garrett tested positive for Covid-19 and will miss this Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Eagles and also is highly likely to miss the following game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Jacksonville.

The 24-year-old Garrett is in the midst of the best season of his career after being chosen by Cleveland with the first selection in the 2017 draft and is currently second in the league in sacks with nine and a half behind only the ten sacks collected by Yannick Ngakoue, who has split his season between Minnesota and Baltimore.

Garrett has upped his game not only in the pass-rushing aspect but has improved his play against the run as well as shown by his stuffing of Houston's DeShaun Watson last Sunday on a fourth-down play inside the Browns five-yard line.

Garrett's absence was glaring in the team's loss to the Raiders when he missed some of the game due to injury and with Oliver Vernon disappointing at the opposite defensive end position, the Browns have to be concerned about their ability to rush the passer without Garrett in the lineup.

Despite the disparity in the teams' records (Cleveland is 6-3 with Philadelphia at 3-5-1, good enough for first place in the putrid NFC East), the Browns are only a tepid favorite over the visiting Eagles and I'm not sure that the Eagles might not be even money now for Sunday's game.

The Browns have beaten only one team with a winning record (Indianapolis) and the Eagles are capable of winning this game.
Cleveland needs to bag as many of these games against the weaker opponents as they can and even though four of the final seven games are against teams with losing records, only this one against the Eagles will be at home by Lake Erie with visits to Jacksonville and back to back trips to Giants Stadium to face the Giants and Jets on the road.

The loss of Myles Garrett will be a big one to the Browns and should the Eagles win in Cleveland and the playoffs are missed by a game, the loss of Garrett to the lineup might be looked back on as a significant reason in the Browns staying home for yet another postseason...


PPM

   Another week of football and another week of wondering what teams will actually step foot on the field, especially in the college game.

Last Week: 8-2
Overall: 62-25

College
Ohio State over Indiana 45-28
Boise State over Hawaii 48-24
Army over Georgia Southern 27-21
LSU over Arkansas 40-31
Troy over Middle Tennessee State 32-17
N.C. State over Liberty 36-35

Game of the Week
Coastal Carolina over Appalachian State 33-31

NFL
Browns over Eagles 24-21
Saints over Falcons 35-28

Game of the Week
Buccaneers over Rams 28-24





Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Cavaliers select Isaac Okoro

  The Cleveland Cavaliers were linked to several players with the fifth pick in the first round of the NBA draft and were a main part of draft day trade rumors, but in the end, the Cavaliers returned to one of the players that they were connected to from the beginning and addressed their largest need in selecting small forward Isaac Okoro of Auburn.

The 6'6 small forward spent one season at Auburn, averaging just under thirteen points a game with 4.4 rebounds for the Tigers.

Okoro is thought of by many as the best defender in the draft with the ability to guard any player on the floor at any time and has the wingspan that you love to see from defenders off the ball.
Okoro jumps well and shows the potential to be an improved player offensively attacking the rim, but the biggest question mark is an outside jumper that needs a lot of work.

Okoro was lauded by Auburn coach Bruce Pearl as a tremendous team leader and tireless worker, which are words that aren't always heard about players that have left their school after only one season as Okoro left Auburn.

The key with Okoro will come down to the development of his outside shot.
IF Okoro can improve to an average shooter, eventually he can be a championship level player with the type of game that title contenders all crave from the supporting cast around their star.
And if he can't? Okoro will be a defensive stopper that can score some points in the open floor and he will always have value with those skills alone, if as a rotational player alone.

I don't hate the pick, I'm not sure anyone of the handful of players that were rumored to be under consideration would have caused me to be angry, but I do have concerns about a team that struggles to shoot well to add another player that doesn't shoot well.
Although the Cavaliers were the worst defensive team in the league last season, so Okoro does address that problem at least.

Isaac Okoro might not be the flashiest selection, but his floor is solid and I think he'll at least have a solid NBA career, if not a spectacular one and in a draft lacking superstar level players, Cleveland could have done worse by gambling on a higher risk player.

Cavaliers Draft Preview

    The Cleveland Cavaliers enter the 2020 draft much as they walked into the 2019 door- picking fifth in the draft and lacking a standout player at the position that they need the most- a scorer on the wing.

Because of that gap in the draft, the Cavaliers appear to be in either trade down (they have been rumored to have been talking to the Celtics and Knicks) mode, take the best player available or shove a player in the needed area earlier that he should be picked and hope for the best.

The players most mentioned for the Cavaliers that make the most sense position-wise are Israeli swingman Deni Avdija, Auburn's Issac Okoro, Florida State Devin Vassell, and Vassell's Seminole teammate Patrick Williams, who is the name that is rising quickly on draft day.

All of these players have positives, but none are sure to succeed.

Avdija brings praises for his passing skills and his play in the open court and Okoro is loved for his defensive intensity, but both come with big questions with their outside shot.

Vassell has a better outside shot and ranks with Okoro on the defensive end, but as noted by The Athletic's Sam Vecenie is less than strong as a ballhandler and isn't the most creative in the passing game.
Plus, when I hear the best comparison is Danny Green, I'm wondering about that player at the fifth pick in the draft.

Patrick Williams is the player rising right now and in every draft, there is a player that suddenly starts moving up the rankings.
Williams is 6'8, but isn't a pure "four", he looks to be a player that can block shots and defend very well, but at 19 years old and after playing only 22 minutes a night for Florida State, Williams offensive game isn't questioned as much as it is having no information.
Williams could be very teachable on the offensive end, but it's hard to tell what the end result will be in the long-term.
Williams is thought by some teams to be the eventual best player in the draft and by others to be a back end of the lottery selection.

Should the Cavaliers go the best player available route, I really like Iowa State guard Tyrese Haliburton, who at 6'5 can play either the point or the two-guard and has a great feel for the game.
However, does Koby Altman have the stomach for taking another guard in the lottery after taking Collin Sexton and Darius Garland in the last two lotteries?
And if so, what does that mean for either of those two?
I don't see the Cavaliers going for Haliburton on that reason alone.

The Cavaliers also have a glut of players at the four and the five with expensive contracts that could keep them from taking a player that would be a good pick.
In the NBA, a surplus can become a need very quickly and if they really like either of these players, I wouldn't worry about the Kevin Love, Andre Drummond, Larry Nance Jr, Tristan Thompson (if they decide to try to re-sign him) problem.
Good front offices are able to deal with those and improve the roster, oh never mind.

Dayton forward Obi Toppin is a player that would give the Cavaliers a semi-local player that is well-known after winning the player of the year last season in college basketball and would bring an offensive game that would be exciting to watch.
Toppin is the one player in this draft that I feel very comfortable with projecting a certain degree of success.
He's going to score his 20 plus a game and he can play power forward or even center in small lineups, but he is a massive defensive deficiency and might wind up being one of those players that is always the best or second-best player on bad teams that fantasy owners love. 

USC's Onyeka Okongwu has all the things that I like in a player- Always plays hard, hits the boards, great leaping ability, and isn't afraid to play defense.
Okongwu can be a rim protector to a degree and reminds many of Bam Adebayo for his cleaning the trash on the inside offensively.
Okongwu's not an outside threat and struggles in the passing game, so he's raw offensively at best and might be career limited as a scorer at worst.
I wonder if the best aspects of Okongwu's game may be suited for a style of play that has passed by and that's too bad because, without those questions, he might be my guy in this draft.

The Cavaliers do not have a second-round pick in the draft, so unless they make a move with this pick or buy a second-rounder, the fifth selection will be the only new addition to a roster that isn't exactly cohesive at the moment.

I don't presume to have any idea what they are thinking or even a firm grasp myself.
My favorite players are at the positions that they have the most invested in (salary and draft) and although I usually say go the best player available, with a team this awful a case can be made for going for need.

I'm not sure that I'll howl with anger no matter the selection and from what I am reading at this writing, the Cavaliers could be making a deal, which is rumored to be with the Knicks.
Should that deal be completed, Cleveland would drop three spots to the 8th selection and add the 23rd selection and perhaps another asset or two.
I'd be OK with that.
Usually, I'm not a trade down proponent, but many of the players that I like at five will be there at eight, and adding a second player later in the round would be a nice addition as well.

I'll be around as the night progresses with thoughts on the Cleveland draft.






Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Browns ground Texans 10-7

   Through rain, snow, sleet, and hail.
That was once the motto of the United States Postal Service, but it should be the motto of the ground game of the Cleveland Browns, who used one hundred games from Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt to cut through the wind and defeat the Houston Texans 10-7 in Cleveland.

Chubb finished with 126 yards and the only Browns touchdown and Hunt added 104 to lead an otherwise anemic Cleveland offense in the win in the middle of three Browns' home games.

Cleveland improved to 6-3 with the victory and will host the Eagles in Cleveland next Sunday.

Brownie Bits

1)  The talk around the Browns fan base was the long run at the end of the game by Nick Chubb in which he could have easily scored, but instead stepped out of bounds to essentially give Houston no chance of a comeback.
A touchdown likely would have left Houston with only a crazy prayer of winning, but the step out did allow the Browns to kneel twice to end the game.

2) Chubb's decision allowed those kneeldowns rather than live plays and one never knows when a key injury can occur.
Smart, especially on a team that isn't known for its depth.

3) The Browns haven't played a game that saw two of their backs finish with over 100 yards in a game since 1966 when Leroy Kelly and Ernie Green accomplished the feat.

4) Nick Chubb finished with more yards, the only touchdown, and the backbreaking run at the end of the game, but Kareem Hunt was just as effective.
Chubb may be the better back overall, but Hunt's numbers would be very similar if used in the same manner.

5) Ok, for the second home game in a row the wind was beyond awful and made the passing game very risky at best.
Still, DeShaun Watson managed to complete twenty of thirty and he's used to playing in a dome.
Baker Mayfield completed twelve of twenty, which is nothing special, but he did manage to avoid the big mistake and the Browns did win so I cannot complain too much, but...

6) One of the reasons that I didn't want Baker Mayfield in the 2018 draft was a concern about having the type of arm strength that you need to power the ball through the cold weather that comes with playing in the AFC North, let alone in Cleveland in a stadium that faces one of the Great Lakes.
I've seen nothing in these two games held in punishing winds to change any of those thoughts.

7) Then there was Myles Garrett, who isn't known for his run defense, stoning Watson on a 4th down run play inside the Browns five late in the second quarter.
That play alone might have won the game in a three point game, but Garrett also finished with two other tackles for losses and a half sack as the dominant player on the field.

8) The wind kept the Texans from trying two field goals during the game and blew another aside, but the Browns were able to keep things in line with the wind on their end.
Cody Parkey knocked in one field goal on the strong wind end (the Dawg Pound) and that was enough to win.

9) Romeo Crennel, having coached in Cleveland, should have known about the wind in Cleveland Stadium.
So why on Earth did Crennel choose to have the wind in his kicker's face in the fourth quarter?

10) The game could have been a shutout, but in the fourth quarter DeShaun Watson appeared to be sacked, hung into the pocket and tossed the ball up for a key completion.
The drive continued and ended with the only Houston touchdown.

11) The now 6-3 Browns have two more must win games against weak sisters Philadelphia and Jacksonville.
Win those two games and the playoffs are in sight, but lose one of those and look out.
Win the games that you should and hope for the best... 




Monday, November 16, 2020

Boxing Challenge: Crawford stops Brook

Photo: Mikey Williams-Top Rank
        Terence Crawford may not be facing the best welterweights in the world, through no fault of his own, but against the opposition that is facing Crawford is showing why the elite fighters in his division have shown such reticence to meet him in the ring.

Crawford took a few rounds to figure out former IBF welterweight champion Kell Brook and then took Brook out in the fourth round in a manner that enhanced his standing as the best finisher in the sport.

Crawford's fourth round right hand spun Brook into (and almost through) the ropes and his resulting hop away brought to my mind the desperate leap by Joe Frazier against George Foreman in 1973.
After the knockdown was declared, Brook attempted to continue but with Crawford jumping on him and scoring with another strong right hand, Brook was fortunate to have the fight ended before serious injury occurred.

For Kell Brook, the time appears right to walk away from boxing for a once-excellent boxer.
Unless the UK-lusted for fight with Amir Khan can be signed, I don't see a lot of reasons for Brook to continue fighting.
A Khan fight would bring a sizable payday and not a lot of danger, so I can see making that fight, but otherwise I don't see the point.

Terence Crawford was the best welterweight in the world entering this fight and I believe he left this fight at the same level.
Errol Spence has a legitimate claim to the same title, but with promotional issues involved a fight that needs to be made looks unlikely.

Mainly because it appears that both see more money to be made by fighting a 42 year old Manny Pacquiao in the Middle East somewhere.
Both Crawford and Spence would be favored to win such a fight and enrich themselves doing it, but the best fight is with each other.
It appears to be possible that Crawford may have to leave Top Rank to meet Spence (Although all bets are off if Danny Garcia upsets Spence in December) and I'm fine with that, if that's what it takes to make the fight, but it shouldn't be this hard to put the best against the best- yet boxing always finds a way.

Speaking of boxing always finding a way, there was the co-feature in which boxing botched another one.
In Andrew Moloney's rematch vs Joshua Franco, Moloney dominated the first two rounds and appeared to close Franco's eye shut with his jab.
However, referee Russell Mora ruled the eye was swollen by a headbutt, but no worries as Nevada has installed an instant replay program to avoid these travesties.
BUT this is boxing and after a twenty minute delay for a national television audience and countless reviews from the ESPN truck, the Nevada officials decided not to overturn Mora's mistake and ruled the fight a no-contest to deprive Moloney of a deserved win.
Only in boxing.

In the boxing challenge, I added two points to Ramon Malpica's one and move the season total to 158-148.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Boxing Challenge

  A soft weekend in boxing as far as depth is salvaged by an appearance by arguably the best fighter in the world on somewhat free ( you do pay for cable after all) television from ESPN and Top Rank.

Terence Crawford defends his WBO welterweight title against former IBF champion Kell Brook in a heavily anticipated fight- If this was 2016.

At that time, Brook was possibly the best welterweight in the world, having a decisive win over Shawn Porter ( that holds to this day, as Brook's win was far more authoritative than later wins by Keith Thurman and Errol Spence) and few wanted to face Brook.

That was before his gutsy, but questionable decision to face middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin, in which he was stopped and suffered a broken orbital bone, and a title defense against Errol Spence that saw him fight well and take a lead before another broken orbital bone and stoppage loss. Since losing to Spence, Brook has won three in a row at junior middleweight against weaker competition and hasn't looked good doing it.

Combine all of that for Brook along with fighting at a weight that he hasn't seen in years with the skills of Crawford and this looks like an easy fight to call.

I can see Brook winning some rounds early as Crawford doesn't always start fast, but Crawford should break him down and finish him in the middle to late rounds.

The co-feature is a junior bantamweight rematch from an ESPN bubble fight earlier this fight with Joshua Franco battling Andrew Moloney for a minor title.
Franco surprised Moloney (and Top Rank) in winning a unanimous decision that Franco won (on two cards) only because of an eleventh round knockdown, but deserved to be far wider in my opinion.
Moloney was in deep trouble in the eleventh and had the fight been ended in the round, I don't think many would have objected, but Moloney finished as well as he could for a fighter with two busted eardrums and Moloney exercised his rematch clause immediately after.

In the boxing challenge, I lead Ramon Malpica 156-147

WBO Welterweight Title. 12 Rds
Terence Crawford vs Kell Brook
R.L:  Crawford Unanimous Decision
TRS: Crawford KO 9

Junior Bantamweights. 12 Rds
Joshua Franco vs Andrew Moloney
Both: Franco Unanimous Decision


PPM

  It's a Covid-19 crippled college schedule as the pandemic wave continues to get higher, but at the PPM- we deal with what's on the schedule and not with what should be!

Last Week: 7-3
Overall: 54-23

College
Boise State over Colorado State 45-17
Marshall over Middle Tennessee State 39-17
Houston over South Florida 37-21
Texas Tech over Baylor 34-32
N.C. State over Florida State 28-24
Georgia Southern over Texas State 31-14

Game of the Week
Purdue over Northwestern 30-28

Pro
Browns over Texans 34-30
Saints over 49ers 36-28

Game of the Week
Seahawks over Rams 37-31

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Covid cancels Buckeyes trip to Maryland

 The Ohio State Buckeyes will have to shrug adversity off like Big Bubba Rogers taking a Dusty Rhodes chair shot as their visit to College Park, Maryland has been canceled with the ugly head of Covid-19 making an appearance with the Maryland program with several members being unable to participate in the game safely.

Ohio State will return a week from Saturday at home against the currently undefeated Indiana Hoosiers in a game that surprisingly could determine the East Division title and accompanying trip to Indianapolis.

A few words about the Covid crisis that is returning to the country with a roar.

I'm becoming more and more negative on many things involving Covid-19.

I'm extremely skeptical that we are going to see the college football season come to its conclusion and if it should, I think it is likely that there will be controversy over the four selected teams.

Ohio State started late and now has lost a game, will that cost them a spot, and should it?
Alabama is losing their game this weekend vs LSU, and there are already rumblings after Notre Dame's upset of Clemson (Minus Trevor Lawrence) that the SEC and ACC should each send two teams and to hell with any other qualifiers.

Granted, this is the usual M.O. of ESPN's Heather Dinich, who spoons out this garbage every year it seems ( Before you hit me as a chauvinist, the definition of equal treatment is being able to say someone is liked or disliked regardless of an outside reason), but it is going to result in controversy no matter how things tumble out.

Bill Landis of the Athletic offered this scenario, which is not farfetched in this environment.
Indiana defeats Michigan State on Saturday.
Next week's Indiana visit to Columbus is canceled.
Both teams run the table with Indiana winning the East at 8-0 to Ohio State's 7-0 and the Hoosiers play in the Big Ten title game.
Indiana wins that game (vs either Wisconsin or Northwestern of this writing) and yet it's Ohio State that gets the ticket to the playoffs.

Imagine that uproar- Do you take the better team that had a game (or two) canceled or the team that did finish the season undefeated, but did so likely because their game with team A was canceled?
Especially when the argument could be made that one team is always in the hunt and the other would be in the middle of a once in every forty years season.

What it's going to take to finish this season is the bubble version of housing teams and college football just isn't set to handle that with college students.
Perhaps they could do it if they make it to the final four teams, but nothing more than that.
The NFL can make it because they have the type of money that they can sequester teams in their town, bus players to the hotel to practice, and otherwise only leave a controlled area when they travel to a road game.

I'm also skeptical that basketball and hockey are going to start on-time and even more skeptical that either league will see more than maybe a scattering of fans for their games.
The NHL with a weaker television package and relying so much more than the other leagues on the gate revenue could be in the biggest danger zone of all, but the NBA isn't out of the woods.
Even boxing, which has handled things well thus far, could be in some danger of shutting down under certain conditions, should interstate travel become restricted.

No matter the side of the political side of the street that you reside on, I fail to see how the country has handled this crisis even close to an average manner, and the lack of empathy by so many boggles my mind.
As our country craves a return to normalcy on so many topics, the irony is this- we so desperately want our day to day life to be what it once was, but many don't want to pay a small fee such as wearing a mask.
Until the steps are taken by both the leaders and their followers to finish the job, we may not have a normal life for quite a while.







Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Cleaning out the Inbox

   Time to clean out the inbox before it gets too full and this time it will be a mixed bag between sports and non-sports to fill the outgoing tray.

We start with Chefbot.
Chefbot, who besides reminding me of the claymation characters of the 60s and 70s, is a new feature from the Kroger grocery chain on Twitter.
Chefbot is a product of a program to help with food waste by giving you recipes for three food items that you tweet a picture showing those items.
My attempt with Chefbot didn't go well
as Chefbot "saw" my picture of a potato, cheese, and sausage and "saw" it as "chicken, bread, and nut".
Oh, well.


The Atlantic's Megan Garber writes of almost everyone's favorite character from the television show "The Office" Dwight Schrute with a comprehensive breakdown of the character and how he relates to just about anything in the country today.
I cannot really do it justice except to say, if you are a fan of the show, this is a must-read.

The Athletic glances back at the Sam Wyche-Jerry Glanville feud of the 1980s when the head coaches of the Bengals and Oilers despised each other in the manner that you don't see anymore in football.
Wyche was a backup quarterback with the Lions with Glanville as the special teams coach and blamed Glanville for having a key role in his release.
Fast forward to 1989 and Wyche's Bengals relentlessly ran the score up on Glanville's Oilers with the Bengals using an onside kick leading 45-0, throwing the ball all through the fourth quarter, running a fake reverse, and finally with seconds remaining- calling a timeout so kicker Jim Breech could kick a field goal for a 61-7 final score.
The article writes about the other AFC Central (At the time) coaches in Cleveland's Marty Schottenheimer and Pittsburgh's Chuck Noll with their various divisional spats.
It's a terrific read if you enjoy looking back at a fun time in football.

I found an older article from Long Island's "Newsday" in 2018, which looks at the two seasons that the New York Giants spent playing away from the New York/New Jersey area at the Yale Bowl in New Haven, Connecticut in 1973 and 1974. 
The "football" Giants had always shared Yankee Stadium, but when Yankee Stadium was closed for two years for its first renovation and the first Giants Stadium was starting to be in the works of being built, the Giants needed a place to play.
Shea Stadium wasn't offered as an option until 1975, which the Giants grabbed for their final season before Giants Stadium was competed, so it was off to the Yale Bowl with all the problems that come with a sixty year old facility ( and this was for 1973 standards) complete bathrooms outside the stadium, tremendous traffic jams, two locker rooms for each team because they weren't large enough to fit the entire team and more.

We wrap with a link from the Bobblist, a blog that covers bobbleheads and the people that collect them.
Recently, the blog noted the collection of my friend Brad Adams.
The article talks to Brad about his personal collection, how he started collecting, what he continues to collect, and the measures that he can go to add to his collection.
I really laughed when I read Brad's comparison to hunting from a conversation with his dad because I've compared it to hunting myself in a different context!
















Buckeyes take sloppy win over Rutgers 49-27

 Ohio State was expected to dust the Rutgers Scarlet Knights and they were never threatened in a 49-27 victory.

However, the win wasn't a perfect one as the Buckeyes were far from smooth and Rutgers did take advantage of some sloppy play in the win, so this wasn't a machine-like win.

Justin Fields completed 24 of 28 passes for 314 yards and five touchdowns and Garrett Wilson led the skill players with six catches and 104 yards with a touchdown.

The now 3-0 Buckeyes will travel to College Park on Saturday against a suddenly resurgent Maryland club.

Since this is two days late, I'm going to cut this a bit shorter than usual.

Olentangy Offerings

1) Greg Schiano knows the Buckeyes personnel very well from his time in Columbus and that's why I am not as bothered as some with a 22 point win over the usual weak sister from New Jersey.
When the coach knows the personnel that well, it's a huge advantage.

2) Schiano also earns kudos for his gimmick plays and throwing everything against the wall with his outmanned squad.
Schiano used onside kicks, reverses, going for two point conversions several times, and several other plays that at least showed Rutgers was trying to win.
That's the type of entertaining football that could attract recruits to a flagging program.

3) Justin Fields has more touchdowns than incomplete passes on the season.
After three games...

4) Tackling is still a little sloppy, especially from the defensive backs and that will have to improve against a Maryland squad with talent at the skill positions.
Miss a tackle against the Terrapins and it can go to the house.

5) Some are concerned about the running game and the lack of breakaway threats, but there could be one looming in the distance.
DeMario McCall had one carry for 27 yards and showed the speed to do more with the ball.
McCall has never seemed to have won over the coaching staff and I'm not sure that will do the trick either.
Still, I'd like to see more.

I've been busy this weekend and now three days late, I figured I'd cut this shorter than usual

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Boxing Challenge: Haney decisions Gamboa

   Devin Haney didn't prove anything unexpected in his unanimous decision win over Yuriorkis Gamboa, but he did retain his WBC lightweight title in a dominant fashion in Hollywood, Florida.

Haney landed more and connected with some heavy shots but never seemed close to ending the fight by stoppage and never knocked down Gamboa, who had been stopped in the final round of his previous fight by Gervonta Davis.

Haney hadn't fought in close to a year (two days shy) after shoulder surgery and the inactivity did show, as, despite his effectiveness in the bout, Haney didn't land as many punches as in past fights.
Gamboa tried his best against Haney and even threw more punches than the far younger man, but at 38 Gamboa appears to be finished as a serious challenge to the best fighters in the division.
I scored Haney a 120-107 winner, winning every round with Gamboa losing a point in the eleventh round for holding.

Devin Haney is a very talented young fighter, but he seems to be a step ahead of where he should be in his career.
Haney has not lost a round in his last two fights, but both went the entire twelve round distance, he scored only one knockdown in those rounds (against Alberto Santiago), and with Gamboa's history of being knocked down (and three times out), it's not unreasonable to begin to wonder about Haney's power a little.

Haney certainly belongs in the lightweight discussion with Teofimo Lopez, Vasyl Lomachenko (should he decide to remain in the division), Gervonta Davis, the winner of next month's Ryan Garcia-Luke Campbell fight, and maybe Jorge Linares, but he'll need to begin to fight better opponents soon.
Haney's resume' doesn't have any standouts and should Garcia defeat Campbell, Haney will have the weakest opposition of any of the four standout young fighters in the division.
Hopefully, Haney will be facing a stern test in his next outing.

In Los Angeles, (Full Van Earl Wright here) heavyweight Luis "King Kong" Ortiz returned to the ring for the first time since his second of his two knockout losses to Deontay Wilder in what seemed to be an incredibly awful Fox main event from PBC.

Sadly, it was as awful as expected as Ortiz stopped Alexander Flores in 45 seconds in what appeared to be a glancing shot at best.
I say glancing because I didn't really see a punch, the two came together and Flores fell to the floor unable to beat the count.
Ortiz officially landed three punches in the win, but proved nothing about what he has remaining in his career.
Flores had been stopped early in both of his losses which happened to be the two fighters that you may have heard of (Joseph Parker and Charles Martin), but this was just beyond awful and a pathetic excuse for a main event on FS1, let alone network television.
An absolute joke.

Ramon Malpica and I each added three points on the day in the boxing challenge to move our totals to 156-147.

The Browns are on bye, so the next post will be the sloppy, but easy win by Ohio State over Rutgers.
I may do a smaller version of a recap as I really hate those squash match recaps sometimes.



Saturday, November 7, 2020

Boxing Challenge

 The boxing weekend is fairly light, but with two cards and one world title fight to watch, there is still some intrigue.

DAZN's main event will feature the WBC lightweight champion Devin Haney defending against aging Yuriorkis Gamboa from Hollywood, Florida.
Haney, who received the WBC title when Vasyl Lomachenko was promoted to the organization's ridiculous "franchise" champion and therefore cost boxing a four title unified champion when Teofimo Lopez upset Lomachenko, is still an extremely talented young fighter and is one of several top-notch lightweights that can make great fights over the next few years.
Sadly that great fight will not likely be Saturday against the well-worn Gamboa, who suffered an Achilles injury in his last fight against Gervonta Davis, where Gamboa fought better than expected but never bothered "Tank" before being stopped in the final round.
Gamboa will be the best name on Haney's record after this projected win, but that shows how soft Haney's opposition has been thus far in his career.
The main attraction to this one is comparing how Haney performs against Gamboa against Gervonta Davis's win over Gamboa.
Other than that, this is a showcase bout...

Fox will have an all-heavyweight card in primetime from PBC, which will likely be an infomercial for the upcoming Errol Spence- Danny Garcia with some heavyweight matches of less than world-class caliber to help fill out the time slot.

The main event has the return of former world title challenger Luis "King Kong" Ortiz against Alexander Flores.
Ortiz has been out of the ring for a year since his seventh-round knockout loss to then-WBC champion Deontay Wilder, in which Ortiz won the first six rounds and then was knocked out by one Wilder right hand in the seventh.
The 41-year-old Ortiz is boxing on borrowed time and is being fed Alexander Flores in an effort to build Ortiz up for one more run in the suddenly sparse PBC portion of the heavyweight decision.
Flores has a solid record at 18-2-1, but only three fights scheduled for more than eight rounds, only two fighters that are name heavyweights (Joseph Parker and Charles Martin) and lasted only three and four rounds against those two for his two losses.
If Ortiz has only his punch left, this could be very ugly and perhaps a highlight reel knockout.

In the boxing challenge, I lead Ramon Malpica 153-144.

WBC Lightweight Title. 12 Rds
Devin Haney vs Yuriorkis Gamboa
R.L:  Haney KO 5
TRS: Haney KO 8

Heavyweights. 10 Rds
Luis Ortiz vs Alexander Flores
R.L: Ortiz KO 6
TRS: Ortiz KO 3

Friday, November 6, 2020

PPM

 Another week in football and the PPM as the Pac-12 and Mac make their return to the gridiron in the year of Covid-19.

Last Week: 5-4
Overall: 47-20

College
Ohio State over Rutgers 51-13
Boise State over BYU 32-30
TCU over Texas Tech 24-21
Toledo over Bowling Green 35-10
Miami Fla. over N.C. State 30-17
Georgia Southern over Troy 33-27
Cincinnati over Houston 36-20

Game of the Week
Georgia over Florida 25-17

NFL
Buccaneers over Saints 31-25

Game of the Week
Texans over Jaguars 30-27


Thursday, November 5, 2020

Cleaning out the Inbox: Football Passings

Back again with more tributes to people that recently passed.

It's odd how this works sometimes.
At times, there are very few for the tributes and then suddenly there is a sad flurry as happened over the last three days.

Goodbye to Matt Blair at the age of 70. 
Blair, pictured to the right, played his entire career with the Minnesota Vikings after the Vikings drafted him in the second round of the 1974 draft from Iowa State.
Blair was an all-around linebacker for the Vikings that could cover running backs and tight ends and rush the passer, but players that played against him in college claim he never returned to form after a knee injury at Iowa State.
Blair must have been some player there as with the Vikings, Blair would make six Pro Bowls, make All-Pro in 1980, and All-NFC five times from 1977-81.

Blair was also noted as one of the best kick blockers ever as the pictured shows Blair blocking Pittsburgh's Bobby Walden's punt in Super Bowl Eight that would result in Minnesota's only points when Terry Brown would scoop the ball and run into the end zone in the Vikings 16-6 defeat.
Blair's 20 blocked kicks ranks him third all-time in league history.
Look for Matt Blair as a Forgotten Superstar down the road.

Goodbye to Herb Adderley at the age of 81.
Adderly played twelve years in the NFL for the Packers and Cowboys before being inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1980.

Known as perhaps the best cover cornerback in the NFL in the 1960s, Adderly started on all five of Vince Lombardi's world champion Packer teams and finished his career with Dallas, where Adderley played on the 1971 Cowboys to win another ring.

Adderley was drafted by Green Bay in 1961 from Michigan State as a running back but was sitting on the bench behind fellow Hall of Famers Jim Taylor and Paul Hornung when Lombardi tried Adderley at cornerback due to injuries and was so good that the Packers moved him to corner permanently in the following season.

Adderley made the All-NFL first or second team in all but one (1968) season in the 1960s and holds a league record for interceptions returned for touchdowns in a season with three in 1965.
Adderley also is the first player to return an interception for a touchdown in the Super Bowl when he returned a Daryle Lamonica pass sixty yards for a score in the final quarter.
Adderley is one of only four players in NFL history to win six world championships along with Packer teammates Fuzzy Thurston (Adderley's Packer team and 1959 Colts) and Forrest Gregg (same six teams as Adderley) and Tom Brady.
Adderley is also related (his cousin's grandson) to current Los Angeles Chargers defensive back Nasir Adderley, who would play for Temple where Herb Adderley did commentary on Temple games on the Owls radio network.

Goodbye to Jimmy Orr at the age of 85.
The 1958 Rookie of the Year with the Steelers, Orr would make two Pro Bowls (1959 Steelers and 1965 Colts) and win a Super Bowl in the final year of his career with the Colts in 1970.
Orr caught 400 passes in his thirteen-year career and finished seasons with double-digit touchdowns twice with the Colts in 1962 (11) and 1965 (10).
Known for his sure hands, Orr notched a surprisingly high (to me when researching this) yards per reception for his career with an average of 19.8 yards per catch and finished four seasons with twenty-one yards or more per reception.

For all of the accomplishments in Orr's career, Orr may be remembered by many for his frantic waving of his arms in Super Bowl III in an attempt to grab the attention of quarterback Earl Morrall.
Orr was wide open late in the first half as the Colts were driving down the field for what seemed to be a sure score and Morrall didn't see Orr, who would have walked into the end zone and instead threw to fullback Jerry Hill with the pass being intercepted by the Jets Jim Hudson.
Two stories from the play each seem credible when you watch the highlights of that game.
First, the game was played under clouds, but during the play, you can see the sun briefly shine right into Morrall's sight and that could be the reason that Morrall didn't see Orr.
The other reason could be this- with halftime approaching the Colts marching band can be seen in the end zone preparing for the halftime show.
The band's all-blue uniforms matched the jersey color that Baltimore wore that day and Orr could have blended in with the band and hindered Morrall's ability to find the open receiver.

Goodbye to Chris Isaac at the age of 61.
Isaac was a shooting star as a quarterback in the CFL for the Ottawa Rough Riders in 1982 as Isaac threw for a rookie-league record for passing with eighteen touchdowns and over three thousand yards in a campaign that won Isaac the CFL's outstanding rookie award.
In Isaac's first start with Ottawa, Isaac threw a team record-tying five touchdown passes and for a team-record 471 yards in a 55-5 destruction of the then-Montreal Concordes.
Isaac's career would end the following year when future U.S. congressman J.C. Watts returned to the Riders after skipping 1982 in a contract dispute and returned to his role as the Ottawa starter.
Isaac would play in eleven games in 1983 and wouldn't play professionally again.






Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Boxing Challenge: One Punch Knockout Night for Davis,Inoue

  The boxing Saturday was filled with world title defenses, title contenders returning to the ring, and two of the most devastating one-punch knockouts that you'll see.

Let's start with the final card of the evening with PBC putting together a pay per view from San Antonio, Texas, and a fight that has been reported to be quite an action-packed affair.

Editors Note: As of this writing, I have not seen any of the PPV card yet, so I'm just reporting the results. When I have a chance to see and score them, I'll come back and edit my scorecard with thoughts for posterity.

In the main event, Gervonta Davis took away Leo Santa Cruz's WBA junior lightweight title and kept his own minor title by a crunching sixth-round knockout that left Santa Cruz out cold for a period of time and will be a contender for knockout of the year.
The fight was noted to be fought on mostly even terms before the left uppercut (that I have seen!) that will threaten Alexander Povetkin's knockout of Dillian Whyte for the KO of the year.
Davis claims that he will keep both championships (Which I don't have an issue with if he can continue to make the weight), but in the past, the WBA has claimed that they will not allow a champion to hold two of their titles, but organizations in boxing tend to make these decisions on the fly and according to the fighter or promoters so who knows how the WBA will rule on this.

In the undercard matches.
Mario Barrios kept his minor title over Ryan Karl by 6th round knockout
Regis Prograis stopped Juan Heraldez in three rounds
Isaac Cruz knocked out Diego Magdaleno in the first round...

From London's television studio, Oleksander Usyk received what he was looking for from Derek Chisora- A good twelve round test as a heavyweight and moved to the future with a unanimous decision victory.
Chisora started well in the first few rounds and had his moments late, but Usyk rallied after the early stages and banked rounds to build a solid lead on the scorecards.
No knockdowns, although Usyk did wobble Chisora a bit near the end of the seventh round.
I scored Usyk a 116-112 winner, so the verdict was a fair one.
Usyk is the mandatory contender in the WBO for champion Anthony Joshua, but could take step aside money for Joshua's unification fight with Tyson Fury, or should he refuse to move away, he could fight for a vacated title from Joshua.

The co-feature saw a mild upset as George Kambosos won a split decision over former IBF featherweight champion Lee Selby in an IBF lightweight eliminator to earn a mandatory title shot next year against Teofimo Lopez.
The thoughts were as wide as the scorecards as experts from England (Selby) and Australia (Kambosos) were each puzzled by a split decision and complained about the judges not favoring their man.
I thought Kambosos landed the harder punches against the smoother Selby and deserved a close call- 115-113 on my scorecard.

On ESPN Plus from the Las Vegas bubble, Top Rank featured the "Monster" Naoya Inoue in his debut for the company, and Inoue shined as hoped with a one-punch knockout of tough Australian contender Jason Moloney.
Moloney fought on almost even terms for the first three rounds, but Inoue began to land well in the fourth and fifth before a left hook sent Moloney to the mat in round six.
Inoue's right hand ended the fight in the seventh with a KO that would have received far more attention had Gervonta Davis not scored his highlight-reel knockout later in the evening.
Inoue could face WBO champion John Riel Casimero next in a unification fight that was scheduled earlier this year before the Covid-19 pandemic.

In an untelevised bout, former cruiserweight champion Murat Gassiev made his heavyweight debut with a first-round KO of Sefer Sefari.
Gassiev scored an early knockdown with Seferi rising unsteadily and the referee stopping the fight.

In the boxing challenge, I outscored Ramon Malpica 13-9 on the day and boosted my lead to 153-144.




Monday, November 2, 2020

Browns Blow in the Wind- Lose to Raiders 16-6

  The Cleveland Browns appeared to be ready for a shootout with the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday in Cleveland.

After all these two teams "boast" two of the worst secondaries in football and the game looked to be another Cleveland Browns shootout with the team that has the ball last wins.

Mother Earth had different plans with high winds and occasional sleet and snow squalls to hamper the air game and turn the game into a ground-based defensive battle that saw only one touchdown out of two survive replay as Las Vegas dropped the Browns 16-6.

Cody Parkey kicked two field goals to account for the Browns points in the defeat as the Browns only nudged past the two hundred yard mark in total offense with Baker Mayfield throwing for 122 yards and Kareem Hunt leading the rushing games with 66 yards on eighteen carries.

The Browns fall to 5-3 with the defeat as they enter into their off-week with a return two Sundays away against the currently 1-6 Houston Texans by Lake Erie.

Brownie Bits

1) This one hurts a bit.
The game against a team that is roughly of the Browns caliber at home, You hope that those games are wins and losing those hurt in the building process as well as the standings if you think that you are in playoff contention.
These are games that good teams win- no matter the circumstances.

2) Still, the weather was a factor in this game with the heavy wind especially visible at the Dawg Pound end of the stadium.
Cody Parkey's miss late in the game was on its way through the uprights until the wind grabbed the football and shoved it aside to the left and Las Vegas booter Daniel Carlson missed a field goal in a similar manner kicking at the same goalpost.

3) The bad weather, while typical of an AFC North battle did arrive a bit early this season, but the disappointment is this- You are the Cleveland Browns. Building around the running game.
You play in the AFC North where November and December are where warmth goes to die.
Against a West Coast team that plays inside a dome, you expect to win this game.

4) The Raiders did what the Browns thought they would do- Possess the football and control the clock.
The Browns finished with only six drives for the entire game and lost the time of possession statistic by over fifteen minutes.
Josh Jacobs rushed for 128 yards on thirty-one carries and with his longest run consisting of only sixteen yards, Jacobs kept the chains moving and the clock running and that's all the Raiders needed to do.

5) Derek Carr didn't throw for more yardage than Baker Mayfield as Mayfield threw for ten yards more on the day, but Carr completed 15 of 24 to Mayfield's 12 of 25 and threw for the only touchdown of the game.

6) The game really swung on two calls in the same end zone.
In the third quarter, Jarvis Landry appeared to have caught a touchdown pass, but replay showed that the ball wasn't cleanly caught and it deserved to be overturned.
The Raiders were fortunate enough to have the camera in exactly the right place to see that Landry didn't catch the football.

7) In the fourth quarter, Hunter Renfrew appeared to have lost the ball as he hit the ground on what would be the only touchdown of the day.
However, this time the camera didn't have a clean shot of the play and the play stood for a touchdown.
I thought the ball hit the ground, but I understood why the play couldn't be overruled because there just wasn't enough evidence to turn the call over.

8) Myles Garrett played most of the game with a knee injury suffered in the first quarter.
Garrett will undergo an MRI today to see how severe the injury is and what his status will be entering the off week.
Garrett, understandably, didn't sack Derek Carr and saw his sack streak end at six games.

9) I've been critical of Baker Mayfield often for his inaccurate passing, but particularly for throwing the ball so high that his receivers are susceptible to taking unprotected blows from oncoming defensive backs.
The throw pictured above to Jarvis Landry in the end zone was an example of these throws and they are part of the problem with Mayfield, who didn't complete half of his passes in this loss.
Mayfield wasn't the reason that the Browns lost this game, but he didn't do much to help them win it either.

10) I know the Browns played without Nick Chubb, Odell Beckham, and Austin Hooper in this game and that meant a lot more of Harrison Bryant (who fumbled once), David Njoku (who once again dropped an easy catch in a key fourth quarter situation) and Rashard Higgins (one catch in three targets).
Those guys aren't the offensive talents similar to the players on the sidelines are, but as long as they have to play, they have to do better.

11) One week after catching the game-winning score against Cincinnati, Donovan Peoples-Jones didn't have a ball thrown to him and I'm not even sure that I remember on the field except for returning kicks.
KhaDarel Hodge was on the field in his return to the lineup and saw a lot of action without being targeted.
Peoples-Jones is still very raw, but he is the only deep threat that the Browns have in the absence of Odell Beckham and teams are going to start playing up on the Browns receivers that run the short and intermediate routes.

12) Finally, 5-3 at the halfway point.
I would have taken that eight weeks ago, but I have to feel that there has been an opportunity lost.
Yes, Pittsburgh is undefeated but their win over Baltimore dropped the Ravens to 6-2, which could have been a tie with the Browns had Cleveland taken care of business against the Raiders.
Still, 5-3 seems about right.
The Browns won a game that I wouldn't thought then (Indianapolis) and lost one that I would have picked as a win (Las Vegas) then despite picking the Raiders to win in the PPM.

13) The Browns would be the seventh and final team in the playoffs, if the season ended today.
The Browns have three very winnable games in the immediate future-home against the Texans and Eagles before a road visit to Jacksonville.
They have to go 2-1 at worst in those three games, but 3-0 is possible.
If they go 3-0, 8-3 before games at Tennessee and home against Baltimore.
That places them likely at 8-5 with losses before two games at Giants Stadium against the Giants and Jets before concluding the season at home against Pittsburgh.
By the chalk, that's 10-6.

Now there is the map to the playoffs- Can the Browns win the games that they should win to follow it?
The road begins in two weeks.

Back later with the boxing Saturday that I haven't had the time to write about!