BOB MATTHEWS SPORTS TALK
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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.
DO YOU BELIEVE IN MIRACLES? SCHEDULE GIVES BILLS A SHOT
SYRACUSE APPEARS BOWL-BOUND
BASEBALL AWARDS TBA THIS WEEK
The Buffalo Bills played about as well as they can on Sunday.
Unfortunately, all we can say is “good try.” We say that a lot.
The Bills probably deserved to beat New England. They outplayed a genuine Super Bowl contender in a 37-31 road loss.
The Patriots don’t play much defense. Maybe less than the Bills. New England is an excellent offensive team but Buffalo was the better offensive team in this game.
The two biggest reasons the Bills lost were the zebras, who gave New England much the best of the calls, and the seemingly eternal frustrating misfortunes of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Fitz was sharp – very sharp by his standards – and the offensive line gave him very good protection after a rough start.
But he also had two costly giveaways – a lost fumble and an interception in the end zone to kill a possible game-winning rally. Rookie T.J. Graham admittedly ran a poor route but Fitz took the heat for throwing the ball to safety Devin McCourty, who plays for the other team.
Fitz has assets. He’s tough. He has some mobility. He’s OK throwing screen passes. But one thing he is not – a FINISHER! When the chips are down and the seconds are ticking off, he’s not the QB you want to pull a game out.
I really thought he was going to come through Sunday. Didn’t you? He just missed. Were you surprised? This script has grown old.
It wasn’t all Fitz’s fault. Generally reliable running back Fred Jackson lost a fumble at the goal line. A fraction of an inch deprived Buffalo of a TD on that play.
Maybe Buffalo will start getting some breaks. The Bills are 3-6 with 7 games to go. 11-5 is out. 10-6 isn’t likely. 8-8 would be a decent goal.
But let’s dream big. A 9-7 record could be good enough to sneak into the playoffs.
Can the Bills go 6-1 to finish 9-7 and take the heat off Fitzpatrick, GM Buddy Nix and coach Chan Gailey?
Stranger things have happened. But I can’t think of many.
Five of those seven games are at home (including one in Toronto). That’s good. The list of opponents is the stuff to build a sustained winning streak: Miami Thursday night…at Indianapolis Nov. 25…Jacksonville Dec. 2…St. Louis Dec. 9…Seattle (in Toronto) Dec. 16…at Miami Dec. 23…New York Jets Dec. 30.
Anything is possible. I suppose.
Friendly suggestion to Gailey: Please give C.J. Spiller at least 20 touches a game. This is beyond ridiculous. He had 9 carries and caught 4 passes Sunday. He averaged 10.1 yards on those 13 plays. Have you ever seen a great athlete more underused by a desperate team than Spiller by the Bills?
Minnesota RB Adrian Peterson – He had 27 carries for 171 yards and 1 TD Sunday in a 34-24 home win over Detroit. He leads the NFL in rushing (1,128 yards on 195 carries; 5.78-yard average; 7 TDs) coming off reconstructive knee surgery. In any other season, he’d be a cinch for NFL Comeback of the Year.
Denver QB Peyton Manning – The reason Peterson probably won’t be Comeback Player of the Year was 27x38 for 301 yards, with 1 TD pass, 0 INTs and a 103.1 passer rating in a 36-14 win at Carolina.
Seattle RB Marshawn Lynch – He had 27 carries for 124 yards and 1 TD in a 28-7 home win over the listless New York Jets. He leads the NFL with six 100-yard rushing games and topped 1,000 yards rushing for the second straight season
Tennessee RB Chris Johnson – Remember his horrible start this season? He’s the NFL’s hottest RB now. He had 23 carries for 126 yards and 1 TD in Sunday’s 37-3 romp at Miami. He became the first player to 23 games to top 100 yards rushing vs. the Dolphins. If Chan Gailey gives C.J. Spiller 20 carries Thursday night, I like his chances.
Baltimore QB Joe Flacco – He was 21x33 for 341 yards, with 3 TD passes and 1 INT, in a 55-20 home romp over Oakland.
New Orleans TE Jimmy Graham – He had 7 catches for 146 yards in a 31-27 home victory over Atlanta.
Cincinnati QB Andy Dalton – He ended his slump by completing 21 of 30 passes for 199 yards, with a career-best 4 TD passes, 0 INTs (for the first time this season) and a 127.6 passer rating in a 31-13 upset home victory over the New York Giants.
Houston RB Arian Foster – Playing in miserable conditions in Chicago, he had 20 carries for 102 yards in a wet 13-6 victory over the Bears.
Miami QB Ryan Tannehill – The rookie had 0 TD passes, 3 INTs and a 42.4 passer rating in a 37-3 home loss to Tennessee.
Atlanta RB Michael Turner – He had 13 carries for only 15 yards (1.2-yard average) as the previously unbeaten Falcons lost 31-27 in New Orleans.
New York Giants QB Eli Manning – His slump continued in a 31-13 loss at Cincinnati. Two third-quarter INTs set up Bengals’ TDs and he was sacked a season-high 4 times.
New York Jets QBs Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow – The Jets don’t have two NFL-caliber QBs. They have about ½. Sanchez was 9x22 for 124 yards with 0 TD passes and 1 INT in Sunday’s 28-7 loss at Seattle. Tebow came on and was 3x3 passing for a grand total of 8 yards. He did run 4 times for 14 yards. It’s what he does best.
San Francisco kicker David Akers – The veteran missed left on a 41-yard field-goal attempt in overtime as the host 49ers settled for a 24-24 tie with St. Louis. It was the NFL’s first tie game since 2008.
Pittsburgh is 39-23 on Monday Night Football and hasn’t lost at home on MNF since 1991. Kansas City is 22-16 on MNF but is up against it on this Monday night…Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh) is 3-0 with 6 TD passes, 0 INTs and a 108.2 passer rating at home this season…With Sunday’s 31-27 loss at New Orleans, Atlanta now is 27-11 in one-score games under coach Mike Smith…Smith’s Falcons are 2-7 vs. the Saints and 49-15 against the rest of the NFL…Peyton Manning (Denver) has 16 TD passes and 3 INTs in his last 6 games…Manning (420) is 1 TD pass from topping Dan Marino for No. 2 all-time. No. 1 Brett Favre had 508 TD passes…Dallas is 124-126 in regular-season games since 1996 after Sunday’s 31-23 road win over Philadelphia… The Cowboys are 17-16 since Jason Garrett took over from Wade Phillips midway through the 2010 season...Philadelphia is 0-5 since starting the season 3-1…The Eagles had 50 sacks in 2011. They have only 11 sacks in 2012.
Seattle is 5-0 at home after Sunday’s 28-7 win over the Jets and has outscored opponents 123-69 in those games…Seattle rookie QB Russell Wilson has 9 TD pases and 0 INTs at home and 4 TD pases and 8 INTs on the road…Tom Brady is 20-2 vs. Buffalo. Only Ben Roethlisberger has a better record against a single opponent (14-1 over Cleveland) since the 1970 merger. Joe Montana was 15-2 vs. New Orleans…Baltimore’s last five wins were by a total of 23 points before Sunday’s 55-20 home romp over Oakland…Drew Brees (New Orleans) extended his own NFL record to 52 straight games with a TD pass….Tony Gonzalez (Atlanta) became the first NFL tight end to top 100 TD catches….San Francisco 24, St. Louis 24 was the NFL’s first tie game since 2008.
Tampa Bay is 4-1 and has scored 38, 28, 36, 42 and 34 points in the last five games…Josh Freeman (Tampa Bay) has 1,766 yards passing, 14 TD passes and 2 INTs in his last six games…Baltimore is 20-1 in its last 21 home games and won its 15th straight home game Sunday (55-20 over Oakland)…Miami plays at Buffalo Thursday night and the Dolphins will be coming off their worst home loss (37-3 to Tennessee) since 1968 (48-3 to Kansas City)…Jacksonville is 0-5 and has been outscored 153-44 at home. Beware Londoners of what you’re wishing for….Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay) has a team-record 22 TD passes in his last 6 games.
Houston has held opponents to 14 or fewer points six times this season…The Texans have allowed 2 rushing TDs in their last 17 games… Houston is 4-0 on the road…A.J. Green (Cincinnati) has a TD catch in 8 straight games. The NFL record is 10 by Randy Moss…Under Tom Coughlin, the best regular-month has been October and the worst has been November (0-2 in 2012)…Why the Denver Broncos (6-3 record) could finish 13-3: remaining games are San Diego (4-5), Kansas City (1-7), Tampa Bay (5-4), at Oakland (3-6), at Baltimore (7-2), Cleveland (2-7) and Kansas City (1-7).
WEEK 10 STAT PACK (entering Monday night’s Kansas City at Pittsburgh game):
Home teams are 7-5-1 outright ( 84-60-1 this season) and 6-7 against the Las Vegas point spread (63-80-2 this season)
Las Vegas favorites are 8-4-1 outright (89-55-1 this season) and 7-6 against the spread (61-82-2 this season)
The first teams to score are 8-4-1 (89-55-1 this season)
Teams leading after the first quarter are 7-2-1 (79-35-1 this season)
Teams leading at halftime are 11-1-1 (106-31-1 this season)
Teams leading entering the fourth quarter are 11-1-1 (114-22-1 this season)
Teams with the most rushing yards are 9-3-1 (99-45-1 this season)
Teams with the most passing yards are 3-9-1 (79-65-1 this season)
Teams winning the turnover battle are 10-0-1 (90-22-1 this season)
Teams with the fewest penalty yards are 7-4-1 (78-62-1 this season)
Teams leading in time of possession are 6-6-1 (86-58-1 this season)
Teams with the better record entering the game are 6-3-1 (53-40-1 this season)
There have been 651 points in 13 games (50,1-point average).
The AFC won three of Week 10’s five interconference games (this season).
The NFC leads the AFC 25-16 this season.
WEEK 10’S TOP PERFORMERS:
300-yard passers – Matt Ryan (Atlanta) 411 yards (lost)…Carson Palmer (Oakland) 368 yards (lost)…Joe Flacco (Baltimore) 341 yards (won)…Philip Rivers (San Diego) 337 yards (lost)…Ryan Fitzpatrick (Buffalo) 337 yards (lost)…Matthew Stafford (Detroit) 329 yards (lost)…Peyton Manning (Denver) 301 yards (won)
100-yard rushers – Adrian Peterson (Minnesota) 171 yards (won)…Chris Johnson (Tennessee) 126 yards (won)…Marshawn Lynch (Seattle) 124 yards (won)…Arian Foster (Houston) 102 yasrds (won)…Steven Jackson (St. Louis) 101 yards (tied)
100-yard receivers – Calvin Johnson (Detroit) 207 yards (lost)…Jimmy Graham (New Orleans) 146 yards (won)…Demaryius Thomas (Denver) 135 yards (won)…Danario Alexander (San Diego) 134 yards (lost)…Tony Gonzalez (Atlanta) 122 yards (lost)…Roddy White (Atlanta) 114…Brandon Marshall (Chicago) 107 yards (lost)…Cecil Shorts (Jacksonville) 105…Greg Olsen (Carolina) 102 yards (lost).
NFL WEEK 11 EARLY LAS VEGAS LINE:
Miami at Buffalo (+1) Thursday night…Cleveland at Dallas (-7)…Jets at St. Louis (-2 ½)…Jacksonville at Houston (-13)…Cincinnati at Kansas City (+3)…Philadelphia at Washington (-2)…Green Bay at Detroit (+4)…Arizona at Atlanta (-10)…Tampa Bay at Carolina (-2)…New Orleans at Oakland (+4)…San Diego at Denver (-7)…Indianapolis at New England (-11)…Baltimore at Pittsburgh (-4)…Chicago at San Francisco (-5)…Open date: Minnesota, Giants, Seattle, Tennessee.
BOB’S RANKINGS (entering Monday night)
– 1 Houston Texans…2 Atlanta Falcons…3 Baltimore Ravens…San Francisco 49ers…5 New England Patriots…6 Chicago Bears…7 Denver Broncos…8 Green Bay Packers…9 Pittsburgh Steelers…10 New York Giants…11 Indianap0lis Colts…12 Seattle Seahawks…13 Tampa Bay Buccaneers…14 Minnesota Vikings…15 Dallas Cowboys…16 New Orleans Saints…17 San Diego Chargers…18 Cincinnati Bengals…19 Miami Dolphins…20 Detroit Lions…21 St. Louis Rams…22 Arizona Cardinals…23 Washington Redskins…24 Philadelphia Eagles…25 Tennessee Titans…26 New York Jets…27 Buffalo Bills…28 Oakland Raiders…29 Carolina Panthers…30 Cleveland Browns…31 Jacksonville Jaguars…32 Kansas City Chiefs.
WEEK 11’S TOP GAMES INCLUDE:
Miami at Buffalo (Thursday night) – The Bills will try to beat an AFC East rival for a change and keep faint hopes alive for a trip to the playoffs.
Arizona at Atlanta – Can the Falcons rebound from their first loss?
Indianapolis at New England – Andrew Luck vs. Tom Brady will be interesting.
Baltimore at Pittsburgh – This matchup always is a hard-hitting affair.
Chicago at San Francisco – This Monday Night Football showdown could be a playoff preview.
THE SAD SAGA OF THE BILLS VS. AFC EAST FOES SINCE 2008
Perhaps the most frustrating item regarding the Buffalo Bills is their hideous record against AFC East rivals. Here’s how Buffalo has fared since the start of the 2008 season:
Vs. New England Patriots: LLLLLLWLLL (1-9)…outscored 316-191 (-125)
Vs. New York Jets: LLWLLLLLLL (1-8)…outscored 268-157 (-111)
Vs. Miami Dolphins: LLLWLWLL (2-6)…outscored 187-118 (-69)
Totals: 4-23 record…outscored 771-466 (-305).
FOOTBALL ORANGE APPEAR TO BE BOWL-BOUND
The Syracuse University football team is rounding into top form at an appropriate time. The Orange crushed visiting Louisville 45-26 before 40,312 thoroughly entertained fans at the Carrier Dome. The Cardinals were 9-0 and ranked No. 11 in the nation but they were completely outclassed against SU.
SU is 5-5 with the two regular-season games remaining. 6-6 would be good for a minor bowl bid and appears attainable.
Both games are on the road:
At Missouri ,Saturday – 5-5 record…ranked 103rd among the 20 major-college teams in total offense and 35th in total defense…Missouri has played a much tougher schedule than SU, with wins including Arizona State, Kentucky and Tennessee (in 4 OTs last Saturday), and losses to Georgia, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Alabama and Florida.
At Temple, Friday Nov. 23 – 3-6 record…ranked 118th in total offense and 82nd in total defense…The Owls have lost their last four games, all against Big East foes (Rutgers, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Cincinnati) by a combined 161-54.
Syracuse ranks 24th in total offense (469.80 points per game) and 50th in total defense (379.70 yards allowed per game).
BASEBALL AWARDS ANNOUNCED THIS WEEK
Major League Baseball’s major individual awards will be announced this week. Here is when they’ll be revealed (6 p.m. on MLB Network) and the five finalists as chosen by the Baseball Writers Association of America and how I believe the order of selection will look in number of total votes; projected first-place votes in parentheses (total of 28 in the AL and 32 in the NL; non-finalist will get some first-place votes for several of the awards)):
Monday, Rookies of the Year:
AL -- Mike Trout (Angels) 28 votes (unanimous)…Yoenis Cespedes (A’s)…Yu Darvish (Rangers)
NL – Bruce Harper (Nationals) 28 votes…Todd Frazier (Reds) 4…Wade Miley (Diamondbacks)
Tuesday, Managers of the Year
AL – Buck Showalter (Orioles) 20 votes…Bob Melvin (A’s) 8…Robin Ventura (White Sox)
NL – Davey Johnson (Nationals) 22…Bruce Bochy (Giants) 5…Dusty Baker (Reds) 3
Wednesday, Cy Young Awards
AL – David Price (Tampa Bay) 14…Justin Verlander (Tigers) 13…Jered Weaver (Angels)
NL – R.A. Dickey (Mets) 21…Gio Gonzalez (Nationals) 5…Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers) 2
Thursday, Most Valuable Player Awards
AL – Miguel Cabrera (Tigers) 24...Mike Trout (Angeles) 4…Josh Hamilton (Rangers)…Robinson Cano (Yankees)…Adrian Beltre (Rangers).
NL -- Buster Posey (Giants)18...Ryan Braun (Milwaukee) 3…Andrew McCutchen (Pirates (5)…Yadier Molina (Cardinals) 3…Chase Headley (Padres) 3.
Wladimir Klitschko retained his WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight titles last Saturday night in Hamburg, Germany, outpointing Poland’s Mariusz Wach (120-107, 120-107 and 199-109). The 36-year-old Klitschko is 59-3 (51 knockouts) and Wach is 27-1 (15 Kos)…Sylverster Stallone attended to promote the
--Hamilton Bulldogs forward Blake Geoffrion suffered a depressed skull fracture in an AHL game last Friday night in Montreal’s Bell Centre. He had his head down when he was checked hard but cleanly by Syracuse defenseman Jean-Phillipe Cote. Geoffrion is a grandson of Canadiens Hall Of Famer Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion.
--There are only 10 more nights of live harness racing at Batavia Downs this season (Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights). Post-time favorites have a 41.83 winning percentage. Post 1 starters gave a 25.9 winning percentage (195x753).
JOCKEY DAVILA’S STREAK IN JEOPARDY; ENGLEHART LIKELY TO ADD TO HIS STREAK
Entering this week, there are only 19 live racing programs left this season at Finger Lakes Casino and Racetrack. Wednesdays have replaced Saturdays on the schedule.
John Davila Jr.’s streak of nine straight jockey titles could be in jeopardy: Wilfredo Rohena has 120 wins (out of 468 rides), followed by Davila (115 out of 339) and Jaime Rodriguez (109 of 490).
Chris Englehart has all but wrapped up his ninth straight trainers’ title. He has saddled 121 winners this season. His son, Jeremiah Englehart, is second with 83 wins. Jim Acquilano is third with 80 wins.