BOB MATTHEWS SPORTS TALK
Weeknights 6:00PM - 8:00PM
on WHAM 1180
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For over 25 years, Bob Matthews has held the title of Rochester's most popular sports writer/commentator. For over 20 years, Bob has hosted WHAM's nightly sports talk program...consistently ranked at the top of his time slot!
From 1978 to 2012, Bob Matthews was a sports columnist for the Times-Union and Democrat and Chronicle and a regular "As the Sports World Turns" contributor to the Gannett News Service. He is the only person to be selected Press-Radio Club Sportswriter of the Year (five times) and Sportscaster of the Year, and was a pioneer inductee into the Frontier Field Walk of Fame.
A Rochester native, Bob graduated from Brighton High School where he played varsity baseball, basketball and served as student council V-P. Bob is also a veteran, serving his country in Vietnam.
Always opinionated and outspoken, Bob's proudest accomplishment is advocating for Frontier Field. His all-time favorite athlete...former Red Wing Luke Easter. One of his sports regrets……not being around for the glory year of the Rochester Royals.
IRISH COULD USE DIVINE INTERVENTION
PACKERS (-13) OVER JAGUARS IS THE “BEST BET”
FITZPATRICK 27THh IN BOB’S QB RATINGS
PADRES PULL IN THE FENCES
Notre Dame will be playing its biggest football game in many autumns Saturday at the Oklahoma Sooners.
The Irish are ranked 5th and the Sooners are ranked 7th (ESPN coaches’ poll), but Oklahoma is favored by 12 points. With good reason.
The Sooners are 5-1. Their only loss was 24-19 at Kansas State. Oklahoma has since won three straight by combined 156-48, including 41-20 over Texas Tech and 63-21 over Texas.
Notre Dame is 7-0. with four of the wins by a TD or less. If the Irish win Saturday, they’d have a very good chance to be 11-0 entering the showdown at USC Nov. 24.
Here’s how Notre Dame and Oklahoma measure up (rank among the top-tier major-college teams in parentheses):
Scoring offense ND 25.66 points per game (76th)…Oklahoma 44.67 (5th)
Scoring defense ND 9.43 points allowed per game (2nd)…Oklahoma 15.33 (12th)
Total offense ND 387.86 yards per game…Oklahoma 488.17 (17th)
Total defense ND 280.7 (6th)…Oklahoma 302.50 (15th)
Rush offense ND 193.86 (38th)…Oklahoma 199.67 (34th)
Pass offense ND 194.00 (98th)…Oklahoma 288.50 (26th)
Rush defense ND 106.71 (15th)…Oklahoma 138.17 (46th)
Pass defense ND 174.00 (14th)…Oklahoma 164.31 (9th)
Sacks by ND 2.71 per game (21st)…Oklahoma 2.00 (t53rd)
Sacks allowed 1.86 per game (62nd)…Oklahoma 2.00 (54th)
Turnover margin +1.29 per game (11th)…Oklahoma +.33 (42nd).
The bottom line: Notre Dame hasn’t faced a team with nearly as much firepower as Oklahoma possesses. The Irish are tough but the Sooners have considerably more speed on both sides of the football…Oklahoma has a big edge at quarterback with Landry Jones. Notre Dame could cut that advantage with a big game rushing the passer…I can’t see Notre Dame scoring more than 20. I can’t see Oklahoma scoring fewer than 30 points.
Prediction: Oklahoma 33, Notre Dame 17…Considering my cold streak with NFL “Best Bets”, this pick could be one of the best things the Irish have going for them.
PACKERS (-13) OVER JAGUARS IS THE “BEST BET”
The Green Bay Packers are rolling behind super-sharp quarterback Aaron Rodgers and figure to show mercy Sunday against visiting Jacksonville.
The Jaguars are last in the NFL in total offense (235.8 yards per game) and will be missing injured running back Maurice-Jones Drew.
Quarterback Blaine Gabbert isn’t much good when he’s healthy and his non-throwing shoulder is hurting.
The Packers are 16-2 in their last 18 games at Lambeau Field. The Jaguars are 2-11 in their last 13 road games
The Packers are favored by 13 and should beat the punchless Jaguars by many more as this week’s “Best Bet”: GREEN BAY 35, Jacksonville 10.
(home team in CAPS)
MINNESOTA (-6 ½) 24, Tampa Bay 17 – The Vikings entered the game 2-5-1 in their last 8 games at home. Buccaneers QB Josh Freeman has been sharp lately.
Sunday’s other games
CHICAGO (9) 27, Carolina 13 – The struggling Panthers aren’t likely to get well against the well-balanced Bears. Carolina is 2-5 against the Las Vegas spread (ATS) in its last 7 games. Chicago is 5-1-1 ATS in its last 7 games.
San Diego 28 at CLEVELAND (-1) 17 – The Chargers and Philip Rivers are due to beat up on a weak opponent. The Browns are 5-9-1 ATS in their last 15 home games.
Seattle 27, DETROIT (-1) 24 – the Lions are 1-6-1 ATS in their last 8 games and 1-4 ATS in their last 5 home games. I think the underrated defense of the Seahawks will be the key to a mild upset over pass-happy Detroit.
Miami 20, NEW YORK Jets (-1) 17 – The Dolphins have played decent football in relative obscurity while the Jets been struggling to find a passing game….Warning: Miami is 5-12-1 ATS in the last 18 meetings and the Jets are 10-4 straight up in the last 14 home games in the series.
Atlanta 23, PHILADELPHIA (-1) 20 – The Falcons might not be the best 6-0 team in the NFL history but they’re more than good enough to win here unless the butter-fingered Eagles finally manage to protect the football.
PITTSBURGH (-5) 24, Washington 21 – The Redskins always are dangerous with super rookie QB Robert Griffin III. The Steelers are 2-6 ATS in their last 8 games.
New England (-7) 35, St. Louis 20 (in London) – The Patriots have too much firepower for the Rams to keep up with for long.
TENNESSEE (-5 ½) 27, Indianapolis 17 – I’m assuming Titans running back Chris Johnson will have as much fun against the Colts as he did last week against the Bills.
Oakland 24, KANSAS CITY (-1) – The Raiders should be good enough to beat the Brady Quinn-led Chiefs.
New York Giants 28, DALLAS (-1) 15 – The sometimes play down to their opposition but they’ll be out to avenge a season-opening 24-17 home loss to the NFC East rival Cowboys.
DENVER (-6) 35, New Orleans 33 -- Drew Brees never should be a 6-point underdog, not even on the road against Peyton Manning.
Monday night’s game
San Francisco 28, ARIZONA (+7) – The well-rounded 49ers are likely to be showing off against the outclassed NFC West rival Cardinals…
Warning: San Francisco is 2-5 ATS in its last 7 road games.
LAST WEEK’S RESULTS: 10-3 picking winning teams outright (59-45 this season)…5-7-1 picking winners against the Las Vegas point spread (40-60-4); the “Best Bet” is 4-2-1 outright and 3-3-1 against the spread after 6-point favored Minnesota beat Arizona by 7 (21-14).
BOB RANKS THE 32 NFL STARTING QUARTERBACKS AT THE BILLS’ BREAK
There are five rookie starting quarterbacks in the NFL this season. I rank Buffalo’s Ryan Fitzpatrick behind three of them Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck and Ryan Tannehill) – and way behind two of them (Griffin and Luick):
1 Aaron Rodgers…2 Tom Brady…3 Eli Manning…4 Drew Brees…5 Peyton Manning…6 Matt Ryan…7 Ben Roethlisberger…8 Robert Griffin III…9 Jay Cutler…10 Matthew Stafford…11 Matt Schaub…12 Andrew Luck…13 Joe Flacco…14 Tony Romo…15 Josh Freeman…16 Carson Palmer…17 Philip Rivers…18—Andy Dalton…19 Alex Smith…20 Cam Newton…21 Michael Vick…22 Ryan Tannehill…23—Sam Bradford…24 Mark Sanchez…25 Christian Ponder…26 Matt Hasselbeck…27 Ryan Fitzpartrick…28 Russell Wilson…29 Brandon Weeden…30 Kevin Kolb…31 Blaine Gabbert…32 Brady Quinn.
I believe that there is slightly less of a chance that we’ll ever see the proposed $1.4 billion downtown Buffalo Bills stadium go from rendering-to-concrete than we’ll see the Bills participate in a Super Bowl within the next 10 years.
Cheers to the National Lacrosse League for new rules certain to reduce high-sticking and cross-checking (more severe penalties) and brawls on the field. I’ve seen too many sticks to the head in recent seasons. Lacrosse players are a tough breed, but they wear far less padding than and football players.
The San Diego Padres for bringing in the outfield fences for next season. The rationale is to reduce the number of dull games (balls hit against the wall or over the wall are more enretaining than long flyouts). Amazing how long it took to come to that conclusion…The Minnesota Twins have decided to keep their vast outfield dimensions because the average number of HRs per game in Target Field have increased from 1.43 to 1.56 to 2.05.
If you watched only two baseball games this season – the All-Star Game and World Series Game 1 – you’d think Detroit’s Justin Verlander is baseball’s worst pitcher, not the best.
It is difficult to imagine anyone doing a better job as NBA commissioner than David Stern. He this week announced he’ll retire Feb. 1, 2014, after 30 years on the job. The NBA’s popularity soared during his watch – in North America and around the world. If any sport ever challenges soccer as the most popular sport on the globe, it figures to be basketball. His work to popularize the sport in China was a master stroke.
The Minnesota Twins came through for Rochester baseball fans this week by signing outfielder Wilkin Ramirez for 2013. Ramirez gets an invitation to major-league training camp but figures to be a mainstay for the Red Wings. Last season, in 98 games with Rochester, he hit .276 with 15 HRs and 54 RBI. In his 30 games after Aug. 1, he hit .350 (41-for-117) with 5 HRs and 26 RBI.
WHAT THE BILLS ARE DOING WELL AND NOT SO WELL
Decent defense…awful defense. That’s the stats story for the Buffalo Bills as they hit their bye week. Their 3-4 record is exactly what they deserve:
Outscored by opponents 227-171 (-56)
Total yards – Bills 2443…opponents 2969
OFF plays/avg yards – Bills 426/349,0…opponents 467/424.1
Total rushing yards/plays/avg yards – Bills 1052/199/5.3…opponents 1238/208/6.0
Total passing yards/yards per attempt – Bills 1361/6.35…opponents 1731/7.15
Completions/att/ints –Bills 133/219/10…opponents 148/242/6
Sacks by/yards – Bills 17/101…8/49
Total first downs – Bills 124…opponents 166
Touchdowns – Bills 22…opponents 29
Takeaways/points off – Bills 11/17…opponents 17/74.
SOME PROPS FOR THREE BILLS
Buffalo Bills players C.J. Spiller, Kyle Williams and Jarius Byrd made profootballfocus.com.’s early-bird AFL Pro Bowl roster. Here’s Neil Hornsby’s AFC squad:
QBs Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Peyton Manning
Running backs C,J. Spiller (starting tailback), Ray Rice, Willis McGahee (edged Arian Foster)
Wide receivers Reggie Wayne, A.J. Green, Wes Welker, Malcolm Floyd
Fullback Vonta Leach
Tight ends Rob Gronkowski, Heath Miller
Tackles Duane Brown, Sebastian Volmer, Ryan Clady
Guards Ryan Lilja, Marshal Yanda, Kevin Zeitler
Center Mike Pouncey, Chris Myers
Defensive ends J.J. Watt, Cameron Wake
Defensive tackles Geno Atkins, Haloti Ngata, Kyle Williams
Inside linebackers Jerod Mayo, Karlos Dansby
Outside linebackers Von Miller, Justin Houston, Philip Wheeler
Cornerbacks Kevin McCourty, Antonio Cromartie, Sean Smith
Safeties T.J. Ward and Jairus Byrd.
Special teams K Justin Tucker, P Donnie Jones, KR Josh Cribbs, ST Corey Graham.
COMPARING THE MANNINGS
A publication this week had Eli Manning (New York Giants) and Peyton Manning (Denver) one-two in its weekly NFL Most Valuable Player ratings. I believe that was a stretch, but not a huge one. Here’s how the brothers compare this season:
Eli – 154x227 (.678) for 1,808 yards…8.0 yards per attempt…290.8 pass yards per game…14 TD passes…4 INTs…10 sacks for 63 yards…105.0 passer rating.
Peyton – 169x265 (.638) for 2,109 yards…8.0 yards per attempt…295.6 pass yards per game…12 TD passes…7 INTs…5 sacks for 40 yards…92.5 passer rating.