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Abandon all hope, ye who enter here
The statistic is grim: In the current era of NFL playoffs, no team that has started the season 0-3 has made the playoffs.
  • There's always a first time, but the Saints don't seem like a candidate to break new ground.
  • For one thing, they have only one game to go in the opening quarter of their season that was generally recognized as the easiest four-game set on the slate.
  • I'm sure the Saints staff figured a 3-1 start was a must against Oakland, the Giants, Atlanta, and San Diego.
  • Now, the Saints must win in San Diego to come out 1-3 before enjoying a bye week.
  • Here's the remaining sets of four games:
    Carolina, @Kansas City, Seattle, @San Francisco
    Denver, @Carolina, Los Angeles, Detroit
    @Tampa Bay, @Arizona, Tampa Bay, @Atlanta
    Do you see four wins in there? Five? Six?

The Saints played hard Monday night.

  • The secondary did a terrific job on Julio Jones. He caught only one pass for 16y.
  • But Devonta Freeman caught five passes out of the backfield for 55y and a TD and ran for 152 more. Matt Ryan had a good night: 20/30, 240, 2 TD, 0 INT.
  • The Saints might have hung with the Falcons but for the special teams faux pas that led to a fumbled punt recovered on the 11 and the 90y INT return off a deflected pass by Crescent City native Deion Jones.
  • That's the thin margin of error the Saints face - they don't have the luxury of giving the opponent easy TDs or else the offense can't score enough to win.
  • And the small margin of error problem also refers to roster depth. The Saints need all hands on deck to compete. But losses like DB Delvin Breaux, LB Dannell Ellerbe, WR Willie Snead, OT Terron Armstead, and S Kenny Vaccaro - all out of action Monday night - spell defeat.
Golden NFL Rankings - after 3 Weeks
Golden NFL Top Ten
Opp. wins
4 1
New England
4 7
2 16
3 5
Pittsburgh 2-1
2 9
2 10
7 Carolina
1 3
2 31
9 Green Bay 2-1 16.19 1 13
Kansas City
2 8
"Opponent wins" means the total number of wins
by the teams the ranked team defeated.

Saints are dead last, #32.

Complete Golden NFL rankings

Division Rankings
Rank Division Average Last Year
1 NFC East 16.118 8
2 NFC North 16.047 3
3 AFC West 16.042 5
4 AFC North 16.042 6
5 AFC East 16.000 1
6 NFC West 15.982 4
7 AFC South 15.917 7
8 NFC South 15.829 2

Overall: AFC 16.000, NFC 15.994
Update from Baton Rouge
Someone told me this morning that Ed Orgeron contacted Pete Jenkins two weeks ago about joining the LSU staff. The source is an offensive lineman. That means Alleva put the wheels in motion for a change after the Wisconsin loss. It also implies that it was win or be fired for Les Miles at Auburn. In other words, the particular circumstances of the loss - the time mismanagement of the last drive - were not that significant although it added gasoline to a fire that was already raging.
What a Weekend!
Little did I know when I posted the article below this one about noon Sunday, that the deed would be done within a few hours.
  • Obviously, I'm glad Ed Orgeron is the interim coach. But LSU can do much better for the permanent head coach for 2017 and beyond. Hopefully, Ed would stay on as D-line coach and chief recruiter.
  • I didn't envision Cameron being fired but support it since it's impossible to separate Cameron and Miles in laying blame for the inept offense. (A "source" says that Orgeron fired Cameron, not LSU.)
  • I'm hearing conflicting reports about Art Briles. One person with a source in the LSU athletic department said LSU wanted him as an offensive consultant for the rest of the season - similar to what Alabama is doing with Steve Sarkesian. But other reports have LSU interested in him as head coach for 2017. (The two reports aren't mutually exclusive, of course.) (Auburn is also interested in Briles as offensive coordinator.)
  • And no one should be surprised that LSU has reportedly contacted Tom Herman of Houston, the hottest young coach in the land. He'll cost a pretty penny but LSU has the resources to match any offer. LSU can also pay top dollar for assistant coaches, who are essential to success.
  • Moving forward, I think a 6-2 record the rest of the way would be outstanding. That would salvage an 8-4 season and a bowl game.
  • You can add only so much to an offense during the season. But hopefully week by week the offense can improve.
  • We'll know immediately whether what the offense's potential is since Missouri brings an excellent defense to Tiger Stadium Saturday night. The advantage the new staff will have is that the visiting Tigers won't know what to expect.
  • Then comes the trip to Florida and their outstanding defense.
Fire Les Miles Now!
I agree with Ron Higgins of the Times-Picayune.
  • AD Joe Alleva should dismiss Les Miles immediately.
  • Make Ed Orgeron the coach for the rest of the season. Ed coached Ole Miss for several years and did a good job as USC interim coach when Lane Kiffin was fired after three games in 2013.
  • Orgeron should turn over the offense to Cam Cameron and let him run it with no interference from the head coach.
  • This is the only way to salvage at least a bowl game from this season. LSU owes it to its seniors, particularly the ones like White and Beckwith who postponed the NFL for a year to play on what they thought would be a national contender.
  • Maybe Orgeron can ignite some passion in the team and remove the frustration that is obvious in the players, particularly those on offense.
  • How is LSU going to beat Florida, Ole Miss, Alabama, Arkansas, and Texas A&M - or Missouri this week for that matter - if they can't generate much offense? We're staring at seven losses (and USM, conquerors of Kentucky, is no sure victory).
  • The main justification for Miles's impeachment is that he has lied to us since last season by insisting in the spring and again in August that the offense - and specifically the QB play and the passing game - would be much improved. No points in Q4 in four games??????
  • Supposedly he escaped the gallows in November with instructions to improve the offense or else. Etling has done better than Harris, but the offense is still not SEC-worthy.
  • LSU players said that Miles was a "players' coach" and one added that he couldn't remember the last time Coach yelled at a player. Well, maybe that was the problem. Mistakes continued because players were not taken to task for them. Practices were not intense enough.
LSU-Auburn Comments

I posted the following on Tiger Rag Saturday night.

I want to mention two points in the game (among many) where coaching and player missteps hurt the Tigers.

  • The first came right after the play where Etling was injured. After the review that led to a 15y penalty and the ejection of the Auburn defender, Brandon Harris handed to Fournette, who gained 4y to the 20. I wanted Harris to stay in for the rest of the series to give Etling time to recuperate from the hit to his head. Even if he passed the concussion tests, he needed time to literally "clear his head." But Miles put him back in after that one play. To make matters worse, Cameron called for back-to-back passes that resulted in a flat pass that lost 4y and a 10y sack. That pushed Delahoussaye into a 51y FG try that missed. LSU's strategy on the final drive would have been much different if all they needed was a FG to win.
  • The other event occurred on the final drive. Etling completed a pass to Dural along the LSU sideline BUT TRAVIN FAILED TO GO OUT OF BOUNDS WHEN HE COULD HAVE. The Tigers could have used the 15-20 seconds that would have saved later when it had no more timeouts.
  • Finally, do you think Jimbo Fisher would still be interested in the LSU job for 2017? I’m not put off by Louisville's thrashing of FSU last week. One game doesn’t negate his overall record. Nick Saban's 2004 Tigers got clobbered at Georgia.

Here's more commentary.

  • In the two losses, LSU's defense has allowed but one TD. That's terrific in today's football and should be enough to win with even a good - not great - offense.
  • Auburn played like a team desperate for a victory. They generally took it to LSU on both sides of the ball. They would have won more comfortably had Aranda's defense not kept them out of the end zone.
  • Once again, LSU failed to show cohesion on offense. They looked like a unit that just hadn't practiced enough.
  • On the other side, Auburn had no huddle stretches where they ran play after play flawlessly. Some plays may not have gained much because of good defense but you didn't see receivers running from side to side to line up correctly and players looking to the sideline to know what to do.
  • LSU hasn't even gotten to the meat of its schedule. Yet the offense has failed to score a point in Q4 in four games.
  • As the TV crew pointed out with replays, Etling consistently missed an open Malachi Dupre on the final drive. Whereas Harris always looked to Dupre first and often forced the ball to him, Etling prefers DJ Chark.
  • I won't reiterate what's already been written by multiple reporters about the clock management on the final drive (except for the comment about Dural above).

Here's a sad last word: Auburn won the Buyout Bowl but the victory may still not be enough to save Gus Malzahn's job. His Tigers must still face Arkansas, Ole Miss, Georgia, and Alabama. Assuming they win at Mississippi State and beat Vanderbilt at home, they may still go 6-6 thanks to "rent-a-wins" against Arkansas State, Louisiana-Monroe, and Alabama A&M.

Golden College Rankings after Four Weeks
In the two years of the College Football Playoffs, the Golden Rankings has gotten the Final Four correct each time. And in 2014, Golden had the teams in the correct order at the end of the regular season, with Ohio State (committee's #4) first and Oregon second.
Golden Rankings Top Ten
Average Opp.
Tennessee 4-0
10 14 1.25 8
8 7 2.01 5
7 7 2.10 3
4 Ohio State 3-0 13.34 5 3 1.41 4
8 4 0.87 20
Texas A&M
7 9 1.03 16
6 3 1.34


6 5 1.26 6
5 5 0.61 13
6 4 1.12 7
  • "Opps. wins" is the number of victories by the teams the ranked team defeated.
  • "Opp. opps". is the number of victories by the teams the defeated teams beat.
  • "Score value" is a measure of the margin of victory in relation to the defeated team's number of wins coupled with the margin of defeat in relation to the victorious team's number of losses.
Golden Conference Rankings
Average Impressive Non-Conference Wins
North Carolina, TCU, UCLA, USC, Va.Tech
Big Ten
Colorado, Duke, Iowa State, LSU, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon
Auburn, Illinois, Indiana, Ole Miss, Penn St., Vanderbilt
BYU, Kansas St., Rutgers, Texas, Texas Tech, UVa
Cincinnati, Kansas, N.C. St., Oklahoma, Purdue. Syracuse, UVa
Big 12
BYU, Missouri, Notre Dame, Pitt
Sun Belt
Akron, Miss.State, New Mexico, Ohio
Fresno St., Illinois, Kansas, Marshall, Okla. St., UNLV, Wyoming
Mtn. West
N. Illinois, Wash. St.

Complete Golden Rankings

Synopsis of the ranking system: Each team starts with 12 points for each game. The winning team goes up from there depending on the number of wins of the defeated opponent and the margin of victory. The loser goes down from 12 depending on the losses of the opponent and the margin of defeat. Teams can gain a bonus for road wins or a penalty for home losses. Read complete rules.

Compilation of Dozens of Rankings

Week 4 Picks
Home team in CAPS. Rankings are from the AP poll.

Top 25 - 8-7

  • Kent State +43.5 over #1 Alabama X
    Saban goes easy on his alma mater.
  • #3 Louisville over Marshall +25.5
    Akron put up 65 on Marshall last week; Jackson & Company can do that even while looking ahead to Clemson.
  • Penn State +19 over #4 Michigan X
    Visitor covers in Ann Arbor for second week in a row.
  • Texas State +34.5 over #6 Houston X
    Cougars rest ailing QB Ward after gaining big league.
  • #7 Stanford over UCLA +3
    McCaffrey continues his Heisman quest.
  • #8 Michigan State over #11 Wisconsin +5.5 X
    Badgers go on road with QB uncertainty.
  • #9 Washington over Arizona NO SPREAD
    Not sure why there's no spread on this one.
  • #17 Arkansas +5.5 over #10 Texas A&M X
    Razorbacks run ball to keep A&M offense off field.
  • #23 OLE MISS over #12 Georgia +7
    Rebels harass Bulldogs' frosh QB.
  • #13 Florida State over South Florida +6
    Noles bounce back after last week's debacle.
  • #14 TENNESSEE over #19 Florida +6.5
    Vols finally beat Gators, who are starting a backup QB.
  • #16 Baylor over Oklahoma State +8
    Cowboys gave up 38 to Pitt last week.
  • #18 LSU over Auburn +3.5 X
    Tigers' second road game goes much better than first.
  • #20 Nebraska over Northwestern +7 X
    3-0 Cornhuskers hit the road for the first time.
  • #24 Utah over Southern Cal +3
    I'm still not impressed by Trojans.

Additional Big Ten Games - 0-4

  • #13 Iowa over RUTGERS +13 X
    Hawkeyes bounce back from home loss to FCS team.
  • Colorado State +16.5 over Minnesota X
    Gophers tend to play down to opposition.
  • PURDUE over Nevada +6 X
    With two weeks to prepare new QB, Boilermakers prevail.
  • Wake Forest +7.5 over Indiana X
    Expect close game between two weak offensive teams.
Intriguing Numbers - Week Three/Four
4 Consecutive seasons - covering Rich Rodriguez's tenure - that Arizona has pulled an upset over a Top 10 team as the Wildcats prepare to host #9 Washington
8 Consecutive wins by the home team in the Arizona-Washington series.
Sacks by Florida in three games
18 TDs accounted for by Louisville QB Lamar Jackson in just three games
52-9 Combined score by which Ole Miss led Florida State (28-6) and Alabama (24-3) before losing both games.
3 Games this year, counting this Saturday's clash with Georgia, in which Ole Miss has played a team with a freshman starting QB
16 Consecutive wins by Greg Ward as Houston's QB
369 All-purpose yards by Stanford's Christian McCaffrey in last season's 56-35 victory over UCLA
368 All-purpose yards by McCaffrey January 1 against Iowa in the Rose Bowl, the same field where this Saturday's UCLA game will be played.
3 Consecutive seasons Utah has started 3-0
10 Sacks by Utah - by eight different players - against San Jose State last week
66 Consecutive games by Florida State without consecutive defeats, second nationally to Oregon's 70
7 Consecutive home games Auburn has lost to Power 5 Conference teams

Record after three weeks: 54-42-1

Did You Notice? NFL Week 2
  • Not So Terrific Week 2
    There was only one one-point game - as opposed to four in Week 1 - and only seven games with a difference of seven or less (after eleven such the week before). The one point game was Titans 16 Lions 15. (More on that below.)
  • More New England QB Intrigue
    The Patriots' already had the most interesting QB situation with Tom Brady's four-game suspension. But the plot thickened last Sunday when Jimmy Garoppo­lo was knocked out of the game against Miami with a right shoulder injury in Q2 after throwing three TD passes. Rookie Jacoby Brissett led New England to a TD on the first possession of the second half for a 31-3 lead. That proved fortuitous as the Dolphins scored 21 straight points but fell short, 31-24. Bill Belichick has limited time to prepare his new QB for the tough Thursday night clash with Hous­ton.
  • From Senior Bowl to the Senior League
    The 2016 Senior Bowl rosters included these QBs, with their NFL Draft positions:
    North: Cody Kessler, USC (Round 3, Cleveland); Kevin Hogan, Stanford (Round 5, Kansas City); Carson Wentz, North Dakota State (1st round, Phil­adelphia); Jeff Driskel, Louisiana Tech (6th round, San Francisco)
    South: Brandon Allen, Arkansas (6th round, Jacksonville); Jacoby Brissett, N. C. State (3rd round, New England); Jake Coker, Alabama (Undrafted); Dak Prescott, Mississippi State (4th round, Dallas)
    Three of these rookies will start for their respective teams in Week 3. Wentz and Prescott have started the first two games. The Eagles are 2-0 and the Cowboys 1-1. Prescott got his chance when Tony Romo suffered a back injury in presea­son. As explained above, Brissett was pressed into service when Garoppolo left with an injury and will probably start the next two Patriots games until Brady returns from suspension.
    Meanwhile, Cody Kessler is set to start for Cleveland this week after Robert Griffin II I was placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury and backup Josh McCown went down in Game 2.
  • Peyton's Successor
    The Broncos are 2-0 with second-year QB Trevor Siemian at the helm. He's a combined 40-for-59 for 444y, 1 TD, and 3 INT. His 222 yd/game are almost exactly what Peyton Manning averaged last year (224.9) in ten games. Trevor faces his first road start Sunday at Cincinnati.
  • Lions Flip Flop
    Detroit fans haven't enjoyed a playoff victory since 1991. They were excited when the Lions defeated the Colts on the road 39-35 in Week 1. Motor City afficianados envisioned a 2-0 start since they were hosting the down-and-out Titans last Sun­day. But second-year pro Marcus Mariota moved Tennessee down the field like a savvy veteran, completing all nine passes on the final drive, including a 9y TD pass to Andre Johnson with 1:13 left for a 16-15 victory.
  • Bad Start in D.C.
    The Redskins, fresh off making the playoffs last year played their first two games at home but against tough opponents. The result is an 0-2 start after falling to the Steelers 38-16 and the 27-23 to the Cowboys and their rookie QB. The talk increases that QB Kirk Cousins has lost the locker room.
  • Not What L.A. Expected
    The Rams haven't scored a TD in two games. Yet they won in Week 2 by holding the Seahawks to a FG while kicking three of their own to the delighted of a sold-out Coliseum crowd welcoming the Rams back after 22 years. Pete Carroll's offense has scored only one TD in two games, but it came with 31 seconds left in the opener to defeat the Dolphins 12-10.
  • Fantastic First Halves
    The Chargers have outscored their two opponents by 42-3 in the first 30 minutes of action. Yet they are only 1-1 as the Chiefs came back from a 21-3 deficit at the break to pull out a 33-27 victory in OT. San Diego has been outscored in the second half 44-23.
  • Winston Flip Flop
    Consider Jameis Winston's stats for Tampa Bay's two games this season:
    31-24 victory at Atlanta Week 1: 23-of-32, 281y, 4 TD, 1 INT, QBR 91.8
    40-7 loss at Arizona Week 2: 27-of-52, 243y, 1 TD, 4 INT, QBR 23.2
Intriguing Numbers - NFL
9-of-29 Seattle's 3rd down conversions in two games
19 Adrian Peterson's yards on 12 carries before leaving Minnesota's victory over Green Bay with a torn meniscus
Times Buffalo Coach Rex Ryan has been 0-2 in his NFL career - this season.
0 Turnovers by Dallas rookie QB Dak Prescott in his first two games
1035 Yardage surrendered by the Oakland defense in the first two games, making the Raiders the first team since the 1967 Falcons to allow more than 500y of offense in both their first two games
103 Rushing yards by the Bengals in their first two games
17 Penalties called on the Lions against the Titans last Sunday
2 Times John Fox has taken his team to the Super Bowl in the second year of his tenure with the Panthers and Broncos - a streak that's sure to be broken with the woeful Bears this year
10 Number of QBs who threw for over 300y last week
59 Carries by the Jets' Matt Forte the first two weeks, a pace for 472 rushes for the season
8 Receptions by Giants rookie WR Sterling Shepard against the Saints on eight targets
17 Catches by former Tiger Jarvis Landry for the Dolphins in two games
20-0 Deficit overcome by the Ravens to beat Cleveland (25-20) last week
4-1 Lions' record in their last five road games dating to last year as they visit Lambeau Field this week
24 Consecutive games lost by Detroit at Lambeau Field before winning there last November
4-0 Rams' record against Tampa Bay - one victory each of the last four years after meeting only seven times the previous 17 years - as they face off for the fifth straight year Sunday
31.7 Yards per catch by San Diego second-year WR Tyrell Williams on 7 receptions
15-5 Sean Payton's record against the Falcons
Did You Notice? NCAA Week 3
  • Bad Day for SEC?
    Consider these results:
    Louisville 63 Florida State 20
    FSU defeated Ole Miss 45-34 in Week One
    Alabama 48 Ole Miss 43
    Tide had to score two defensive TDs and a kick return six to defeat the Rebels, who surrendered a three-TD lead for the second time in three weeks.
    Wisconsin 23 Georgia State 17
    Victors over LSU in the opener, the Badgers hung on against a Sun Belt team.
    Tennessee 28 Ohio 19
    Vols struggled for the second time at home against a non-conference opponent.
    Miami 45 Appalachian State 10
    Hurricanes blew out the team that almost beat Tennessee in Week One.
    Troy 37 Southern Miss 31
    Two weeks after bopping Kentucky 44-35 in Lexington, the Golden Eagles lost at home to a C-USA foe. Troy had lost by just six points at Clemson the week before.
    Georgia Tech 38 Vanderbilt 7
    The Engineers are not considered one of the top teams in the ACC.
    South Carolina 20 East Carolina 15
    Playing at home, the Gamecocks edge ECU from the American Conference.
    Louisiana-Lafayette 28 South Alabama 23
    Jaguars lose their second Sun Belt game in a row after upsetting Mississippi State in Starkville. Former LSU QB Anthony Jennings went 18-for-26 with 3 TD and 2 INT for the Cajuns.
  • Scare for Arizona State
    A week after their instate rivals, Arizona, fell far behind Grambling before winning, the Sun Devils rallied from 16 down in the second half to defeat Texas San Antonio 32-28.
  • Break Up the Broncos
    No, not the ones in Denver. The ones in Kalamazoo. 3-0 Western Michigan scored its second road win against a Big Ten foe by blowing out Illinois in Champaign 34-10. WMU's game at Central Michigan in two weeks looms as a major contest in the MAC Western Division. CMU beat Oklahoma State Week 2 on an extra play they shouldn't have gotten.
  • Sorry, Podnah, But I'm in Cali Now
    Davis Webb grew up in the Dallas area cheering for the Longhorns. But they didn't want him. So he went to California instead. The senior threw four TD passes and finished 27-for-40 for 396y as the Bears beat Texas 50-43. The Longhorns scored on their first four possessions before the offense started to stall a bit. Senior kicker Trent Domingue, a transfer from LSU, missed two FGs.
  • More Big 12 Woe
    The other Big 12 schools usually root against Oklahoma as a matter of principle. But this year, they have an added reason. With two losses (to Houston and Ohio State) before beginning conference play, the Sooners would likely put the conference on the outside of the CFP looking in if they won the Big 12 championship.
My Live Game This Weekend: Mississippi State @ LSU WITH COMMENTS

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This site is devoted primarily but not exclusively to college and pro football. The unique feature of this site is the publication each fall of the author's rankings of all FBS college football teams and similar rankings for the NFL. I live in New Orleans and am a graduate of LSU and FSU. So I present a Southern and particularly an SEC point of view but one that is reasonably objective. I also publish a monthly Football Magazine with stories from the past and a monthly Baseball Magazine with a similar format. During the winter and spring, there's a monthly Basketball Magazine.

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