I began this season with $50 of Monopoly money. I will mock bet, against the line, five games from college/NFL every week. Over the last two years, I am plus $110 which confirms what we already know - I am a winner.
What a setback. Trash week. So much hurt and sadness. Thank the lord for the Saints plus 5.5. Alas, I am not broken. Get back on the horse, and back to the ATM. Overall record: 25-29-2
LAST WEEK: 1-4 1. Texas A&M at Auburn (-23). TIGERS. LOSS 2. Kansas State at TCU (-6). WILDCATS. LOSS 3. Iowa St. (-4) at Kansas. CYCLONES. LOSS 4. Steelers (-4.5) at Jets. STEELERS. LOSS 5. SF 49ers at NO Saints (-5.5). Saints. WIN
THIS WEEK: 5-0 1. Oklahoma (-13) at Texas Tech. SOONERS. Coach Bro is struggling. 2. Auburn at Georgia (-2.5). TIGERS. Bounce back for Auburn. 3. Missouri at Texas A&M (-4). AGGIES. Mizzou keeps killing me, so law of averages prevails. 4. Broncos (-9.5) at Rams. MANNING. Rams starting Shaun Hill at QB. 5. Lions at Cardinals (-1). CARDS. Should be OK with Drew Stanton.
The Dallas Stars are not off to the big start so many - myself included - predicted before the season began. As a rule of thumb, seven-game losing streks before Thanskgiving are not good for overall records.
The Stars have rebounded from their seven-game skid to win consecutive games on the road, most recently on Thursday night in L.A. against Los Kings. The Stars are 6-6-4 with 16 points. Plenty of time remains, but the start is not ideal.
The forwards, with the exception of Tyler Seguin who ranks second in the NHL in scoring and first in goals, are not producing well. The blueline is often being hung out to dry by a group of forwards that aren't getting back quickly enough, or taking dumb chances, and goalie Kari Lehtonen has not been an eraser - his 2.72 GAA ranks 27th in the league.
Dallas Stars general manager Jim Nill was nice enough to ask some questions about the state of his team so far. He saw some of this coming, and if you read between the lines you can hear the knock - start defending.
When you watch your team, what is the problem you see? We haven't found our identity from last year. (Coach Lindy Ruff) and I talked before camp and when you get better, expectations rise and sometimes you lose your identity. We've lose that. We thought we were going to be a team that was going to score at will, and you still have to play a certain way.
You added new players to your forwards, is there a lack of cohesion there? It just gets back to remembering how you have to play. Our identity is speed, and pucks at the net. Other teams are breaking down what we do. We haven't adjusted to that.
Is your team one dimensional? No, we do have different dimensions. Our bottom half of our forwards are very effective. It's the top six that is trying to find a way. There is so much skill up front.
Did this start catch you off guard? No, I was worried about it coming into the season. When you start getting better you have to remember how you got there. It's a little bit subconscious because sometimes you take more chances than you should. Not really surprised where we are - it comes with expectations.
Your blueline was my big concern for this team - how has it been? Trevor Daley and Alex Goligoski have been outstanding. The rest of the guys are really young and inexperienced. You know there are going to be highs and lows with that. To be fair to them, it's the way we play - you can leave them hung out to dry. It's overall team defense. To be successful, everybody has to buy into it. You have to play good defense. That doesn't mean you take away from your offense, but it means you don't turn it over at the wrong place at the wrong time.
It's not late, but it's not early - are you concerned long term? We have to get our game going. The league has changed so much with all of the parity. You are going to see teams that lose five or six or seven in a row. The days of you being out of it by Thanksgiving are over. I think 25 of the teams will go to the last week of the regular season with a chance to make the playoffs.
Dallas Cowboys owner/GM/president Jerry Jones continues to top himself with verbal winners. During his radio show on the G Bag Nation on 105.3 The Fan on Friday morning, Jerry said this:
"We've come a lot closer to coming to the Super Bowl with (Tony) Romo than we've been given credit for."
It would appear that Jerry has come down with a bad case of The Wade Phillips.
Let's take a look at just how close the Dallas Cowboys have come to that Super Bowl with Tony Romo since he took over as the starter since 2006.
'06: Wildcard playoff loss at Seattle. Just needed three wins to reach the Super Bowl. Playoff record: 0-1. '07: Divisional home playoff loss against New York Giants. Only two wins shy from Super Bowl. Playoff record: 0-1 '08: No playoffs. '09: Divisional playoff loss at Minnesota. Two wins shy of Super Bowl. Playoff record: 1-1 '10: No playoffs. '11: No playoffs. '12: No playoffs. '13: No playoffs.
Dallas Cowboys & Tony Romo playoff record: 1-3, no NFC title games.
The team that should have made it, or genuinely been close, was the 2007 team but the head coach Wade Phillips couldn't keep his group mentally there. The rest haven't been close.
"(Elvis) Andrus’ spot might not be as secure, not with a hefty contract that the cash-strapped and shortstop-rich Rangers have considered moving to free up more money for starting pitching."
Texas Rangers ... cash-strapped. The Texas Rangers are cash-strapped. Cash-strapped? Texas Rangers. Cash strapped.
That's right - the Rangers don't, or can't, spend much more because the cash is gone. Or at least that is the latest lie they are dispensing.
This sounds so very Tom Hicks-ish.
The infusion of money from the local TV broadcasting rights with Fox Sports Southwest? Already spent.
The Rangers are not slashing, burning and going Miami Marlins on us, but don't expect some dramatic increase in payroll because they have already spent the money they intended to spend.
The Rangers already have committed $118 million for 2015, and they are not going to increase their budget of $133 million.That $118 million helped crank out a last place finish last season in the American League West. And this is a team that needs starting pitching, an outfielder, and relievers.
With all due respect to team owners Ray Davis and Bob Simpson and the fact they have spent big money on the payroll, this team can't start selling the idea that it is somehow cash strapped.
The last time the team sold "cash strapped" began in about 2004, when then owner Tom Hicks began to lose money and tire of the model that never worked. He had built the team, and its payroll, based on the concept that it would win, the crowds would come, and the money would flow.
It never happened, and the empty seats combined with the bloated payroll forced Hicks to change his strategy.
The Rangers have given no indication they are going to go the slash and burn route, but after last season's disaster - 67-95 record - bet big that season tickets are fleeing, and the revenues will decrease unless they start winning.
It's not uncommon for new owners to come in, spend big, and then get frustrated when the results don't come. When Davis/Simpson bought the Rangers, they were in the World Series, they got the bug, spent big, and now it's not so much fun.
The size of the payroll is not the issue for the Rangers, but how the money is spent and precisely how much can be spent to improve a roster that needs help.
Losing, and losing money, eventually made Hicks gun shy. It hasn't happened to Davis/Simpson yet, but the fact they are "cash strapped" is not a great sign.
FORT WORTH, Texas - Somewhere amid the middle aged men/women is a college kid absolutely loving the attention. Enjoy it now Trevone Boykin ... these things don't happen to everybody, but in this situation it is fun to watch a guy so deserving have his chance at college football's brighest light.
Boykin may not win the Heisman Trophy - most "experts" have Oregon's Marcus Mariota and Mississippi State's Dak Prescott as the leaders - but the junior from Mesquite has already won. The face of the 2014 TCU team is Trevone Boykin, who now has his own unofficial T-shirt line. The fact that he doesn't see a cut of this is a different matter.
This is not the first time in the modern era TCU has had a Heisman contender, but it is nothing like the last time the school had a player who could win the award. (For this article, I am deliberately leaving out 2010 quarterback Andy Dalton, who was never seriously considered as a legit candidate).
TCU alum's Amy and B.J. Warren sport the popular TCU/Trevone Boykin shirt
In 2000, TCU spent about $100,000 to promote senior running back LaDainian Tomlinson in his pursuit of the Heisman. There were billboards, notebooks, and a slogan of "LT For Heisman".
In 2014, TCU is not spending any money to promote Trevone Boykin.
Then head coach Dennis Franchione's thinking, as well as the school's, was that if LT made it to New York as a finalist it was a win. LT made it to New York, and finished fourth. The winner was Florida State QB Chris Weinke ... I can't believe I typed that.
LT did interviews all over the map, as did head coach Dennis Franchione. If there was a microphone, one or both was talking to it.
In 2000, the school was in the Western Athletic Conference, and using every available tool to promote the university, the team, and there was no more visible spokesperson than LT. At the time TCU needed every piece of available positive exposure.
Looking back, it all worked as the team and school continued to grow.
In 2014, TCU is established and while the head coach is still very much a salesman, he is trying doggedly to control how much time Trevone Boykin fields questions about his own greatness. GP should feel good that Boykin has been properly neutered coached to say little.
"I'm aware of it. I see the shirts. I see things around and people talk to me all the time about it," Boykin said after TCU's 41-20 win against Kansas State on Saturday in Fort Worth. "It's an inividual award and I'm blessed and honroed to be mentioned with those guys. The only thing I want is for the best for the team."
Is it a distraction?
LaDainian Tomlinson finished 4th in the 2000 Heisman voting
"It's not a distraction at all. We joke about it," he said. "Who would have thought? Nobody was thinking last year I'd be up for the Heisman."
He is right. Nobody ever thought Trevone Boykin would be a Heisman candidate. But his head coach does not agree these things are not a distraction.
Most of this promotion comes down to the coaches, and the time. Fran' and GP are different animals, and TCU is in a much different place than 14 years ago. Today, TCU is in the club. Back then, everybody at TCU was banging on the door to be recognized.
It's 2014, and head coaches are paranoid of their own shadows fearing the shadow may be taking notes, stealing plays or signals that ultimately get them fired. Accordingly, coaches at big time programs treat their teams like the CIA, and information is released on a need to know basis.
TCU is not spending a dime on any Trevone Boykin For Heisman promotion, mostly because it is doubtful the head coach would sign off on it, and the teams in the Power Five already receive enough publicity.
Ultimately, Trevone Boykin may finish a few votes shy of actually winning the award but the fact that TCU didn't have to spend any money for him to be a part of the debate is another indicator of just how far this program has come.
Not that this should take away from the surprisingly horrible start by the local hockey franchise - 4-6-4 for a Western Conference worst 12 points - but Dallas Stars general manager Jim Nill did finally undo a terrible wrong today.
The Dallas Stars, somehow despite all odds, traded veteran defenseman Sergei Gonchar to the Canadiens in exchange for a travel guide to Montreal. That's not entirely true ... the Stars acquired winger Travis Moen in return.
Dealing Gonchar is not like the Dallas Mavericks ability to get rid of Raef LaFrentz's horrible contract many years ago, but dumping this salary was imperative and impressive.
This was all about getting rid of one bad contract for another.
Gonchar, 40, never did play like the Sergei the Stars desperately still seek - Sergei Zubov.
In two plus seasons with the Stars, Gonchar played in 79 games and scored two goals with 21 assists and was a minus-13. In his day, he was a very good D man. His day is gone. He agreed to wave his no-trade clause to get out of town.
Gonchar is in the final year of a contract that will pay him $4.6 million this season. The Stars reportedly agreed to pay a little less than 10 percent of his deal to the Canadiens.
It's not as if the Stars are picking up a big ticket player in return. Moen is 32, and is now with his fifth NHL team since 2003. He has no points this season in 10 games, and has another year on his contract that will pay him $1.8 million.
Of the many moves Nill has made since he took over as GM of the Stars, the one ingredient he can't find is a top two defenseman, like a Sergei Zubov.
From 1996 to 2009, Zubov was one of the best players in the NHL, and one of the bigger reasons the Stars were so successful for so long. He was truly one of the most amazing players to come through Dallas-Fort Worth, only nobody knew it.
Finding a top defenseman these days is akin to finding top starting pitching - you just keep adding them until one hits. The Stars continue to rely on Trevor Daley and Alex Goligoski as their top D men, but neither was Sergei.
FORT WORTH, Texas - One of fiction's most celebrated struggles is Captain Ahab catching and killing Moby Dick in the Pacific Ocean. Second to that is Captain Mac's personal fight against squirrels in the attic.
This fight has cost lives, ruined a home, caused incalculable damage in the terms of stress, and the financial ramifactions will be felt for generations. Next to building contractors, the worst thing to a home is a squirrel. They are rats with nice outfits that show no mercy.
They will be defeated.
After many years, and thousands spent, this little piece of garbage was finally trapped. Notice the fear and the resignation of total defeat in his eyes. He knew it was done.
Capturing this spawn of satan is one of the great accomplishments of mine, or any, lifetime. These little rats are exceptionally challenging to lure into these traps.
It took patience, cunning, courage and a few pieces of nuts and dry cereal.
The debate is to how to use this trapped beast as evidence to his friends, family and fellow terrorist squirrels that there will be no mercy. We don't negotiate with squirrels.
I wanted to go midievil: Slice off its head, put it on a stick and place it outside of the hole these punks are using to destroy this home to send a message that this is how this home chooses to deal with squirrels.
Instead, I took the cage about 2 miles away from the house, and after much jostling finally opened it up to the squirrels' delight. He took off running and was up a tree, plotting another plan to inflitrate an innocent home.
The war against the squirrels is not over. This is merely one chapter. There figures to be more lives caught, money spent, tears and bloodshed.
The way the NFL is played, Tony Romo is the league MVP. Or Andrew Luck. Or Tom Brady. Aaron Rodgers. Peyton Manning. Etc. These days, it is a waste of an MVP vote for anybody who is not a quarterback.
Teams cannot survive without their QBs, but can live without anybody else. This includes DeMarco Murray, who is having an MVP season with the great misfortune of playing in a league that now simply worships quarterbacks.
As we all saw last week when the Cowboys played the Arizona Cardinals, the MVP of this team is Ramiro Romo until he retires, or his back explodes into 1,000 pieces.
Since 2001, the NFL MVP has been a QB all but three times. The other three were running backs Adrian Peterson, LaDainian Tomlinson and Shaun Alexander.
Unless Murray breaks Eric Dickerson’s single season NFL rushing record, he should not be the NFL MVP. If Murray breaks the record, hand him the trophy.
What Murray should be is the NFL’s offensive player of the year.
In Romo’s first game back since he suffered a pair of fractures in his back, he threw three TD passes in the Cowboys’ 31-17 win against the Jacksonville Jaguars in London, England.
One game after facing eight and nine-man fronts and failing to reach 100 yards for the first time this season, Murray rushed 19 times for 100 yards against the Jags. He may have been able to do this had backup QB Brandon Weeden played, but with Romo the Jags had to honor the pass and it created additional breathing room for Murray.
Nothing should take away from Murray’s sensational season, but unlike Peterson when he won the MVP award despite the presence of no real threat at quarterback, the man needs his Romo.
Murray has rushed for 1,133 yards this season, and is on pace for 2,014 yards. That would give him the fourth highest total in NFL history, behind Dickerson, Peterson, Jamal Lewis and Barry Sanders. If the league was not so heavily weighted for the QB, making a case for Murray would be easy. But we have seen this team without Romo, and how it affected Murray. Murray is the league’s most dynamic offensive player this season, but only QBs can be MVPs.
The single biggest reason the Cowboys snapped their two-game losing streak is the Jacksonville Jaguars. As good as rookie QB Blake Bortles will be, he is still a rookie and his team stinks. The Jaguars are 1-9 for a reason. The Cowboys handed the Jags a few reasons to stick around this game, and every time the “home” team took a pass.
There was some stupid report floating 20 players violated a curfew check on … who cares? The Cowboys were playing the Jaguars, in London. Jerry Jones denied the report, which again – who cares? Let them stay out until 5 a.m.; they weren’t losing this game even if they were all drunk during the game.
The Twitter world was irate with Coach Process’ decision not to rest Tony Romo, DeMarco Murray and Dez Bryant in the fourth quarter when the final outcome was decided. Can’t disagree. There was no reason to play Romo, who clearly is not 100 percent. At this point, Romo is a bubble wrap player – unwrap him as needed. The Cowboys are not the same without him, and when there is a chance to put him on the bench there is no reason to put him in harm’s way. The same can be said of Murray, whom it would appear the Cowboys will make no special effort for him to try to break Eric Dickerson’s NFL single season rushing record. If there isn’t a need, don’t play either one. …
Playing a rookie passer really helps, but defensive tackle Henry Melton is looking like the Henry Melton who was a Pro Bowler with the Bears. Melton was credited with only one tackle, for a loss, but over the past month he is increasingly visible on the interior. He is good against the run, and anything he provides against the passer is a bonus. Melton came to the Cowboys on a one-year deal, and the way he is playing he will sign an extension. …
Not sure how/why the Jaguars ever let him go in the redzone, but Jason Witten remains one of the very best at what he does for his ability to find a hole in a defense. That and his best buddy, Romo, just knows where the man is going to be at all times. Despite the fact Romo missed Witten badly earlier in the game, late in the first quarter on a 3rd-andgoal from the Jaguars two, a scrambling Romo found Witten open in the end zone for a the Cowboys’ first touchdown. Witten finished with five catches for 33 yards againt the Jags. He is on pace for his worst statistical season since he was a rookie when he caught 35 passes. If things continue to go as they are, Witten will finish with 60 receptions for 708 yards. For a lot of tightends, that’s pretty good. For Witten, it’s career worst.
He’s not Justin Durant, or Rolando McClain, but rookie fourth round pick Anthony Hitchens is doing a nice job of getting to the ball in a timely manner. He led the Cowboys in tackles with nine, and had one hit on Bortles, and one stop on a fourth down run in the third quarter. Playing without Durant is not ideal, but on Sunday the Cowboys also played without McClain and there was no massive drop. Durant, who is out for the year with a torn bicep, is likely not returning to the team next season. Hitchens may be a decent replacement.
UP NEXT: The Cowboy have a bye, and then travel to New York to play the New York football Giants for a Sunday Night game on Nov. 23. The Giants stink. The Cowboys defeated the Giants by 10 on Oct. 19 at Jerry World, which was the second in New York’s current four-game losing streak. The Giants, who lost 38-17 at Seattle on Sunday, are 3-6 and have all of the characteristics of a team that will change coaches in the offseason.