BOB MATTHEWS SPORTS TALK
Weeknights 6:00PM - 8:00PM
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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.
THREE NFL BIG-NAME GUYS WHO FIGURE TO BE GONE SOON
HOW ABOUT MORE RUNS THAN THROWS FOR BILLS?
BATTLE FOR COLLEGE FOOTBALL’S NO. 2 TEAM
NOW TIGERS KNOW HOW YANKEES FELT
HEAT OVER LAKERS IS BOB’S NBA TITLE PICK
Kicking off with three high-profile NFL people who need a change of scenery:
1 Andy Reid (Philadelphia head coach) – He has clearly fallen out of favor with the fans and probably team owner Jeffrey Lurie…The Eagles are a disappointing 11-12 in the last two seasons, including a 30-17 home loss Sunday to Atlanta. Philadelphia had been 13-0 after bye weeks under Reid…Few if any teams have accomplished less with more talent over that span than the Eagles…He has a 139-94-1 record with the Eagles, with six NFC East titles and five trips to the NFC championship game. ..He is the NFL’s longest-tenured coach (Jan. 11, 1999), but all good things come to an end…He appears doomed in Philadelphia and needs a fresh start…Assuming he is not retained after this season, he figures to be head coach of another NFL team soon. How about the Buffalo Bills?
2 Norv Turner (San Diego heads coach) – The Chargers continue to underachieve and he continues to return. His teams often start slow and close fast, encouraging the Spanos family to keep him…His career record as an NFL head coach is 114-121-1. Few coaches with so many wins and a losing record stick around this long…The latest disappointing loss was 7-6 Sunday in Cleveland.
3 Tony Romo (Dallas quarterback) – Is he overrated or underrated? He looks very good or lost – often in the same game. Like Sunday: 437 yards passing and 4 INTs in a 29-24 home loss to the New York Giants. He helped put the Cowboys in an early hole, rallied the team to lead in the second half, but then tossed a costly INT after the Giants regained the lead…If owner/GM Jerry Jones decides it is time for a shake-up, including the head coach and QB after this season, Romo could need a new home. If Jones wants a second-round draft pick in exchange for Romo, I’m all in favor of the Bills making a strong pitch.
NFL THOUGHTS, FACTS AND STATS:
The NFL trade deadline is Tuesday. The biggest name being mentioned as trade bait is St. Louis running back Steven Jackson (the NFL’s active career rushing leader). Buffalo doesn’t need a RB, but I’d give up a future 7th-round pick for Cleveland QB Colt McCoy...Dallas is 0-4 against the New York Giants at Jerry Jones’ palace to himself – Cowboys Stadium. That must bother Jones more than anything else, and of course, that makes most of us happy…Pittsburgh is an NFL-best 400-253-2 since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger…The Steelers proved Sunday that they can play well with extremely ugly throwback jerseys (giant bumblebees or a large chain gang?)…Pittsburgh is 14-1 vs. rookie QBs since 2004…ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter notes that it has been 25 years since a quarterback Kansas City drafted has led the Chiefs to a victory (Todd Blackledge in 1987). … The Chiefs entered Sunday without leading in a game this season. Their only victory was in overtime…Former Buffalo and current Washington linebacker London Fletcher on Sunday played in his 232nd straight game (187th straight start). He sure could help the Bills now…Five NFL rookie QBs have started games this season. Scouts believe current collegians Matt Barkley, Geno Smith, Landry Jones and Tyler Wilson have the potential to start in the NFL next season. Barkley or Smith sound OK to me….Philadelphia entered Sunday with a 13-0 record under Andy Reid coming off bye weeks. … For the record, the Buffalo Bills are a fine 15-8 record off bye weeks
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft believes London is ready for its own NFLO team. Jacksonville fans must be worried. The Jaguars will play 7 “home” games in London the next four seasons (2013 through 2016)…Some of the British fans who were rooting against the Patriots Sunday in London must have long memories…New England on Sunday had at least 350 yards total offense in its 17th straight games (breaking the NFL record set by St. Louis 1999-2000)…Atlanta is 7-0 for the first time in the franchise’s 47-year history…Washington had 11 dropped passes on Sunday. The Redskins had a total of 10 drops in their first 7 games this season…Indianapolis ended a 10-game road losing streak with a 19-13 overtime victory in Tennessee…Oakland has won 6 straight games at Kansas City by a combined score of 129-74…San Francisco, after not allowing a 100-yard rusher in 39 games, has allowed 3 in the last 9 games…Arizona QB John Skelton is 6-0 at home in his career.
Tampa Bay RB Doug Martin and QB Josh Freeman – Martin ran 29 times for 135 yards and 1 TD and Freeman continued to be among the NFL’s hottest QBs: 19x36 for 262 yards, with 3 TDs, 0 INTs and a 104.2 passer rating in last Thursday’s 36-17 victory in Minnesota.
Cleveland RB Trent Richardson – The rookie had 24 carries for 122 yards and 1 TD in Sunday’s 7-6 home win over San Diego.
New England TE Rob Gronkowski – He had 8 catches for 146 yards and 2 TDs in a 45-7 romp over St. Louis in London.
Indianapolis QB Andrew Luck -- The rookie threw for 297 yards in another come-from-behind victory, 19-13 at Tennessee. The Colts have two more victories (4) than all of last season (2-14).
Atlanta QB Matt Ryan –He padded his lead for midseason MVP with 3 TD passes on the team’s first 3 possessions in a 30-17 road win over Philadelphia. The Falcons are 15-0 when he thros at least 3 TD passes in his NFL career.
Chicago CB Tim Jennings – He had 2 interceptions, one for a TD and the other a timely one late in the game, during a 23-22 home win over Carolina.
Dallas TE Jason Witten –The future Hall of Famer had 18 catches for 167 yards in a 29-24 home loss to the Giants.
San Diego QB Philip Rivers – He could use a change of scenery, too. He’s looking more and more like an aging gunslinger short on bullets. No way the Chargers should give up 7 points and lose – but they did 7-6 Sunday in Cleveland.
Dallas RB Felix Jones and the offensive line – He had 13 carries for 19 yards (1.5-yard average) in a 29-24 home loss to the Giants. The Cowboys had 17 carries for 19 yards overall.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell – He single-handedly doomed the New Orleans Saints by suspending head coach Sean Payton for the season in the apparently overblown Bountygate scandal. The Saints appear is disarray without Payton, who is looking better than ever by not being there.
Jets QB Mark Sanchez – He had an interception, a lost fumble and his NFL-most 7th quarterback rating of 15.0 or less since entering the league in 2009.
NFL WEEK 8 STAT PACK (entering Monday night’s San Francisco at Arizona game):
Home teams are 6-7 outright (70-47 this season) and 4-9 against the Las Vegas point spread (50-65-2 this season)
Las Vegas favorites are 7-6 outright (70-47) and 5-8 against the spread (43-72-2)
The first team to score is 9-4 (71-46)…The team leading after the first quarter is 11-0 (62-28)…The team leading at halftime is 10-3 (85-26)…The team leading after the third quarter is 9-4 (91-19)
The team with the most yards rushing is 10-3 (79-38)…The team with the most yards passing is 8-5 (65-52)
The team winning the turnover battle is 7-1 (71-20)…The team with the fewest penalty yards is 7-6 (65-49)…The team leading in time of possession is 5-7 (68-48)…The team with the better record entering the game is 10-3 (37-33)
There have been 554 points in 13 games (42.6-point average).
The AFC is 3-1 vs. the NFC but the NFC leads this season’s interconference series 20-12.
BOB’S NFL RANKINGS (through Sunday’s games)
1 Falcons…2 Texans…3 Giants…4 Bears…5 49ers…6 Packers…7 Patriots…8 Steelers…9 Broncos…10 Ravens…11 Vikings…12 Dolphins…13 Seahawks…14 Tampa Bay…15 Colts…16 Lions…17 Cardinals…18 Chargers…19 Cowboys…20 Eagles…21 Redskins…22 Bengals…23 Saints…24 Raiders…25 Bills..26 Rams…27 Jets…28 Titans…29 Browns…30 Carolina…31 Jaguars…32 Chiefs.
NFL WEEK 8 TOP PERFORMERS:
300-yard passers – Tony Romo (Dallas) 437 yards (lost)…Matt Stafford (Detroit) 352 yards (won)…Cam Newton (Carolina) 314 yards (lost)…Peyton Manning (Denver) 305 (won)…Tom Brady (New England) 304 (won)…Blaine Gabbert (Jacksonville) 303 yards (lost).
100-yard rushers – Doug Martin (Tampa Bay) 135 yards (won)…Stevan Ridley (New England) 127 yards (won)…Arian Peterson (Minnesota) 123 yards (lost)…Willis McGahee (Denver) 122 yards (won)…Trent Richardson (Cleveland) 122 yards (won)…Darren McFadden (Oakland) 114 yards (won)…Jonathan Dwyer (Pittsburgh) 107 yards…Marshawn Lynch (Seattle) 105 yards (lost).
100-yard receivers – Jason Witten (Dallas) 167 yards (lost)…Rob Gronkowski (New England) 146 yards (won)…Demaryius Thomas (Denver) 137 yards (won)…Miles Austin (Dallas) 133 yards (lost)…Julio Jones (Atlanta) 123 yards…Steve Smith (Carolina) 118 yards (lost)…Cecil Shorts (Jacksonville) 116 yards (lost)…Dez Bryant (Dallas) 110 yards (lost)…Titus Young (Detroit) 100 yards (won).
BIG GAMES NFL WEEK 9 WILL INCLUDE:
Miami at Indianapolis – The improving Dolphins vs. rookie comeback kid Andrew Luck.
Pittsburgh at New York Giants – No-holds-barred in this classic matchup.
Carolina at Washington – Cam Newton vs. Robert Griffin II should be fun to see.
Dallas at Atlanta – Can the Cowboys on their best effort hand the Falcons their first loss?
Houston at Chicago – A high-profile showdown with two of the NFL’s best teams.
Philadelphia at New Orleans – Two disappointing teams will battle to keep playoff hopes alive on Monday Night Football.
SUGGESTION FOR CHAN GAILEY
The Buffalo Bills should call more running plays than pass plays.
Why? Because it is logical to maximize what you do best.
The Bills have an excellent 1-2 punch at running back and a very good offensive line. Their quarterback ranks in the bottom quarter of the NFL and so do their receivers.
Entering Week 8, only 4 of the 32 NFL teams had more runs than passes this season – Seattle (+52), Washington +31, Houston +21 and San Francisco +11. They had an 18-10 record. They’re all better than Buffalo.
In fairness, Buffalo leads the NFL with 228 yards on screen plays (35).
NOW THE TIGERS KNOW ALMOST EXACTLY HOW THE YANKEES FELT
The New York Yankees were swept by the Detroit Tigers in the American League Championship Series. Their major problem was an embarrassingly feeble batting performance: .157 (22x140) batting average 6 runs; 3 HRs; 12 walks; 36 strikeouts; .224 on-base percentage; .264 slugging percentage; .488 OPS.
Now the Tigers know how the Yankees felt against them. They were swept in the World Series by San Francisco mainly because they couldn’t hit. Here was Detroit’s World Series batting line: .159 (32x132) batting average; 6 runs; 3 HRs; 12 walks; 36 strikeouts; .289 on-base percentage; .246 slugging percentage; .489 OPS.
Thoughts on the World Series: On a scale of 1 (worst) to 10 (best), I’d give it a 2 (unless you’re a Giants fan)…The only memorable individual performance was Pablo Sandoval’s 3 HRs in Game 1 He deserved his World Series MVP honors for being the most dangerous hitter in a series dominated by pitchers (except Justin Verlander)…The co-goats were Verlander and Detroit teammate Prince Fielder. Verlander was awful in the Game 1 and the Tigers never recovered. He didn’t pitch again. Fielder came up empty time after time (1x14, .071 batting average; 0 HRs; 0 RBI). Fielder and Miguel Cabrera combined were 4x27 (.148) with 1 HGR and 3 RBI.
THE BATTLE FOR COLLEGE FOOTBALL’S NO. 2 SPOT
At this point of the college football season, mighty Alabama is ranked No. 1 by a wide margin. The battle now is for the No. 2 spot – among Kansas Stare, Oregon and Notre Dame. All four teams are 8-0. Here are their remaining schedules:
Alabama – at LSU (7-1) Nov. 3…host Texas A&M (6-2) Nov. 10…host Western Carolina (1-8) Nov. 17… host Auburn (1-7) Nov. 24
Kansas State – Host Oklahoma State (5-2) Nov. 3…at TCU (5-3) Nov. 10…at Baylor(3-4) Nov. 17…host Texas(6-2) Dec. 1…combined record of opponents 19-11
Oregon – at USC (6-2) Nov. 3…at California (3-6) Nov. 10…host Stanford (6-2) Nov. 17…at Oregon State (6-1) Nov. 24…combined record of opponents 21-11
Notre Dame – host Pittsburgh (4-4) Nov. 3…at Boston College (2-6) Nov. 10…host Wake Forest (4=4) Nov. 17…at USC (6-2) Nov. 24…combined record of opponents 16-16.
ESPN college football talent guru Mel Kiper’s revised and updated top 5 on his Big Board 2013 NFL draft: ! Georgia OLB Jarvis Jones…2 USC QB Matt Barkley…3 Utah DT Star Lotuelei…4 Notre Dame LB Manti Te’o…5 Texas A&M DE Damontre Moore.
--Here are some highlights of NBA.com’s annual survey of the30-team league’s general managers:
Win the championship: Miami 21 votes…Los Angeles Lakers 7…Oklahoma City 2
MVP: LeBron James 20…Kevin Durant 9
Most improved team: Brooklyn Nets 18 votes.
--ESPN’s ran a SportsNation readers’ poll last week asking, “Who deserves the most blame in Buffalo?”…The results: defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt 31 percent; players on defense 31 percent; head coach Chan Gailey 23 percent; QB Ryan Fitzpatrick 11 percent…My pick would’ve been GM Buddy Nix (weak drafts; lack of depth at QB; horrible contracts to Fitz and Mario Williams; overrated LB corps; released punter Brian Moorman; misplaced faith in Shawne Merriman) -- but he inexplicably wasn’t among the four multiple choices.
Most of the fans who predicted a 10-6 record or better for the Buffalo Bills this season probably were counting on a sweep of Miami. Now that appears to be quite a chore: home against the Dolphins Nov. 15 and at Miami Dec. 23.
The success of the San Francisco Giants (two trips to the World Series in the last three seasons) makes me appreciate Barry Bonds a little bit more. The Giants had the fewest HRs (103) in the majors in the regular season and AT&T Park spacious yielded the fewest HRs. Bonds didn’t hit many cheapies.
Alex Rodriguez’s reputation for being overly sensitive was pretty much confirmed last week with a report that Yankees manager Joe Girardi phoned the team’s public address announcer to omit the player a pinch-hitter was batting for (A-Rod) to spare him further embarrassment.
I’LL TAKE THE HEAT, THUNDER AND LAKERS… YOU CAN HAVE THE REST
The NBA season starts Tuesday night. I enjoy the NBA and agree that it collectively has the best athletes in the world – sorry soccer fans.
My only complaint about the NBA is the lack of parity compared to North America’s 2 3/4 other major sports (NFL, MLB and NHL).
What other league opens a season with so few legitimate threats to win the championship? For example. I’ll take the Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Lakers to win the 2012-13 title. Would you take that trio or all of the other 27 teams at even odds?
Here are my NBA power rankings entering this season:
The genuine title contenders – 1 Miami Heat: add Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis to LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh; no other team in the Eastern Conference is a genuine title threat, unless you’re sticking with the aging Celtics…2 Oklahoma City Thunder: they’ll miss James Harden but Kevin Martin is a solid addition…3 Los Angeles Lakers: Dwight Howard and Steve Nash make them even better but the bench is weak: figure to rest aging vets at times and might post fewer regular-season wins than the Thunder, but should be the main threat to the Heat when the playoffs begin.
The other conference semifinals threats: 4 San Antonio Spurs: defense has slipped but younger and underrated…5 Los Angeles Clippers: Chris Paul and Blake Griffin still need more help…6 Boston Celtics: How much is left to squeeze out of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce?...7 Indiana Pacers: improving young team…8 Memphis Grizzlies…a sleeper team…9 Chicago Bulls: Best record in NBA past two seasons but superstar Derrick Rose (knee) will miss much of this season. If he returns at close to peak efficiency, the Bulls could surprise.
Probable playoff teams: 10 Philadelphia 76ers: underrated young team adds Andrew Bynum…11 Denver Nuggets: no elite player but Andre Iguodala will bolster offensive-minded team’s defense…12 Brooklyn Nets : great offseason moves; and Brook Lopez is healthy; I like them better than the Knicks…13 Dallas Mavericks: 2011 champs on a slow decline…14 New York Knicks: oldest roster in NBA history. That’s more of a negative than a plus…15 Utah Jazz…16 Milwaukee Bucks: will win their share of shootouts.
Their fans would be happy with a playoff berth:
17 Atlanta Hawks…18 Golden State Warriors…19 Minnesota Timberwolves: need star Kevin Love back soon…20 Portland Trail Blazers…21 Cleveland Cavaliers…22 Detroit Pistons.
The bottom feeders: 23 Toronto Raptors…24 Phoenix: Suns have set minus Steve Nash…25 New Orleans Hornets…26 Houston Rockets: James Harden will miss his Thunder teammates…27 Sacramento Kings…28 Washington Wizards…29 Orlando Magic...30 Charlotte Bobcats: likely to be better than last season’s 7-59, but not a lot better.
Conference Finals predictions: Miami over Indiana in 5 games in the East…Los Angeles Lakers over Oklahoma City in 7 games in the West.
NBA Finals prediction: Miami’s Big Three and deeper bench over the Lakers’ Big Four in 6 games.
MVP – LeBron James, of course, for the fourth time. He finally won his first title last season. His new mission is topping Michael Jordan for the “best NBA player ever” tag.
HOW THE BILLS MEASURE UP:
Through Sunday’s games, the Buffalo Bills ranked 19th in the 32-team NFL in total offense (349.0 yards per game); 4th in rush offense (1250.3); 29th in pass offense (198.7); 12th in scoring offense (24.4 points per game); 31st in total defense (424.1 yards allowed per game; 32nd in rush defense (176.9); 22nd in pass defense (247.3); and 32nd in scoring defense (32.4 points allowed per game).