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.
ADRIAN PETERSON MAN TO CATCH FOR NFL MVP
ANOTHER SEASON CAN’T END SOON ENOUGH FOR BILLS
MICHAEL CARTER- WILLIAMS BIDDING FOR FIRST-TEAM ALL-AMERICAN
JEREMY LIN RETURNS TO MADISON SQUARE GARDEN MONDAY NIGHT
R.A. DICKEY LATEST COUP FOR WIN-NOW BLUE JAYS
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is on a remarkable roll and trying to defy two popular NFL theories: Teams need an above-average quarterback to make the playoffs and QBs almost always win the league Most Valuable Player Award.
Peterson, coming off major reconstructive knee surgery, is running like it never happened. He had 212 yards on 24 carries in Sunday’s 36-22 victory in St. Louis. He averaged 8.8 yards per run when everyone in the stadium knew he’d have the ball.
The Vikings are 8-6. If they make the playoffs, Peterson’s MVP stock would soar. He deserves serious MVP consideration even if his team fails to make the postseason.
Peterson has 1,812 yards on 289 carries and 11 TD runs. He’s averaging 129.4 yards rushing per game and 6.3 yards per carry. In his last 8 games, he has run for 153, 123, 182, 171, 108, 210, 154 and 212 yards.
Peterson’s success is all the more impressive considering the probability than teammate Christian Ponder is one of the least effective quarterbacks in the NFL, throwing for under 200 yards eight times this season – partly because Peterson runs so often and partly because Ponder isn’t very good.
Peterson’s main competition for MVP is quarterbacks Peyton Manning (Denver) and Tom Brady (New England). Manning won Sunday and Brady didn’t lose any MVP support for his amazing comeback performance in the fourth quarter of a wild 41-34 loss to San Francisco.
MVP history is against Peterson.MVP breakdown by position: QBs 35 (including 10 of the last 12)…RBs 15…defensive tackle 1…kicker 1…linebacker 1.
Peterson has a shot to break Eric Dickerson’s NFL-record 2,105 yards rushing in 1984. He averaged 5.6 yards per carry and had 14 rushing TDs.
Dickerson’s Los Angeles Rams finished 10-6 and made the playoffs, but he wasn’t the league MVP. Miami’s Dan Marino was. It was his then-record 5,084-yard, 48 TD-pass season.
The Vikings close out the regular season at Houston and home against Green Bay. If Peterson can gain the 294 yards he needs to top Dickerson and his Vikings make the playoffs, the player and his team will have earned it.
ANOTHER LOUSY SUNDAY AFTERNOON FOR THE BILLS
Finally, even the eternal optimists and dreamers must admit it. No amount of miracles can take the 5-9 Bills to the playoffs.
That’s an incredible 13 straight years without making the postseason. That’s an amazing futility streak considering the built-in advantages really lousy teams have to get better (the NFL draft and favorable scheduling).
I hope 94-year-old Bills owner Ralph Wilson lives to be at least 100, but he wasted three precious hours watching Sunday’s fiasco. Buffalo lost 50-17 in Toronto. I’m tired of the players paying lip service to coach Chan Gailey. If they’re playing for his job, they’re doing an awful job of it.
Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick had another poor game. Plenty of garbage time padded his numbers a bit. That happens quite often. And never fails to give Gailey ammo when he defends his pet QB.
Meanwhile, Seattle rookie quarterback Russell Wilson played like a solid veteran.
Maybe if Gailey and GM Buddy Nix weren’t so sold on Fitzpatrick the past two years – an outrageous opinion that all but clinched Buffalo’s non-playoff streak for a few more seasons – they might have considered beating the fortunate Seahawks to the punch on Russell. He was the 75th pick in the 2013 draft. The Bills took DB Stephon Gilmore No. 9, OT Cordy Glenn No. 41 and (ouch) WR T.J. Graham No. 69.
Two minor highlights Sunday for Buffalo fans: C.J. Spiller had 17 carries for 103 yards and didn’t need oxygen on the sidelines after every run; and there is a Tyler Thigpen. He got mop-up duty for a change.
Wilson hates to eat contracts. But I wonder if he recognizes how many season-ticketholders are fed up with Gailey – and Nix unless he finds a better head coach. Gailey is 15-31 in his three seasons, including 6-17 since last season’s 5-2 start. He has two weeks left – I hope – to improve his 3-13 record vs. AFC east rivals. Does the team look like it is improving to you?
Another demoralizing note: I did further research on Buffalo’s 13-year non-playoff run. The NFL is considering expanding the NFL playoff field from 6 teams per conference to 7 or 8 teams.
Believe it or not, even if the AFC had 8 playoff teams from 2000 through 2011, the Bills STILL WOULDN’T HAVE MADE THE PLAYOFFS. The closest they would’ve come was in 2004, when they finished 9-7 and in a three-way tie with Baltimore and Jacksonville for the 7th-best record in the AFC. But Buffalo lost head-to-head to both the Ravens and the Jaguars and thus wouldn’t have made the playoffs.
OTHER NFL WEEK 14 FACTS, STATS AND OPINIONS
Why we love the NFL – One week after the New York Giants crushed New Orleans 52-27, the Giants lost 34 -0 to Atlanta and the Saints shut out Tampa Bay 41-0.The NFL is incredibly tough to figure. About the only constant is Buffalo missing the playoffs.
The best gamble – By Washington coach Mike Shanahan, who saw the light and decided not to expose QB Robert Griffin III’s sore knee in favor of starting fellow rookie Kirk Cousins in a must-win game at Cleveland. Cousins was terrific in his first NFL start in a 38-21 victory.
One coach should be fired before Gailey is Norv Turner. He’s in his sixth season with San Diego, at least three too many. He’s even losing in December now. He was 18-3 in December as coach of the Chargers entering this year. Now he’s 19-5.
Eli Manning (New York Giants) sure slipped from elite QB status in a hurry – at least for now.
I wonder if Joe Flacco (Baltimore) stills thinks he’s as good as any QB in the NFL.
Colin Kaepernick (San Francisco) is another QB the Bills could’ve had – if they didn’t like Ryan Fitzpatrick so much. In the 2011 NFL draft, Buffalo selected DB Aaron Williams No. 34 and the 49ers took Kaepernick No. 36.
And don’t forget Kirk Cousins. Washington made him the 102nd pick in the 2013 draft – after they took Robert Griffin III No. 2 overall. Many draft observers thought the Redskins were crazy. How much do you Cousins is worth in trade now? How good would he look in a Bills uniform?
For the first three quarters Sunday night against5 San Francisco, New England appeared overrated. But in the fourth quarter, Tom Brady and Co. reminded us of why they’re still one of the two or three best teams in the NFL and will be a very tough out in the postseason.
Green Bay has 6 straight wins over Chicago and is 7-1 since starting 2-3 this season.
Tony Romo (Dallas) probably has played his way off the trade market. Too bad. I’d have traded a second-round pick for him.
Atlanta is 7-0 at home, but before Sunday’s 34-0 romp over the New York Giants, 5 of their first 6 home wins were by 6 points or fewer.
Are these the Steelers? Pittsburgh has 18 giveaways in its last 5 games (1-4 record).
Baltimore is 4-4 since starting this season 5-1.
One reason to respect Cincinnati: The Bengals are 5-2 on the road (3-4 at home).
St. Louis is 4-0-1 vs. NFC West opponents and 2-7 vs. the rest of the league.
Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay) is back in his customary No. 1 spot in passer ratings: Rodgers 104.7...Robert Griffin III 104.2…Alex Smith 104.1…Peyton Manning 103.5…Tom Brady 100.1.
Another clue that the Bills might not be well-coached: Buffalo has 89 penalty for 754 yards; opponents have 73 penalties for 623 yards. The Bills can’t afford to be so generous.
Buffalo ranks 20th in the 32-team NFL in total offense (340.8 yards per game); 6th in rushing yards (139.6); 25th in passing yards (201.2); 19th in scoring (21.9); 23rd in total offense (369.5); 30th in rush defense (144.1); 15th in pass defense (225.4); and tied for 30th in scoring defense (28.7).
Chris Johnson (Tennessee) is the eighth player to reach 1,000 yards rushing in 5 consecutive seasons. Which Johnson will show up Monday night? He has rushed for 125+ yards in four games this season and 51 or fewer yards in 6 other games.
Great catch and a strong game by Stevie Johnson on Sunday. But I still hope he’s Buffalo’s No. 2 wide receiver next season. He ranks 21st in the NFL in receiving yards (891) and 52nd in average yards per catch (12.9). That’s not No. 1 stuff.
Top three NFL players in yards per rush: Robert Griffin III (Washington) 6.7…C.J. Spiller (Buffalo) 6.5…Adrian Peterson (Minnesota) 6.3.
Spiller is 10th in the NFL in rushing yards (1,047) but only 25th in carries (161). Will being underutilized by his coach cost Spiller a trip to the Pro Bowl?
The New York Jets enter Monday night with 115+ rushing yards in 4 consecutive games and running backs have averaged 34.2 carries.
There were only two shutouts in the first 13 weeks of this season. There were three shutouts Sunday.
TOP PERFORMERS WEEK 14
300-yard passers –Tom Brady (New England) 443 yards (lost)…Sam Bradford (St. Louis) 377 yards (won)…Tony Romo (Dallas) 341 yards (won)…Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh) 339 yards (lost)…Kirk Cousins (Washington) 329 yards (won)…Drew Brees (New Orleans) 307 yards (won)
100-yard rushers – Adrian Peterson (Minnesota) 212 yards (won)…Arian Foster (Houston) 165 yards (won)…KnowShon Moreno (Denver) 118 yards (won)…Marshawn Lynch (Seattle) 113 yards (won)…Darren McFadden (Oakland) 110 yards (won)…BenJarvus Green-Ellis (Cincinnati) 106 yards (won)…Vick Ballard (Indianapolis) 105 yards (lost)…Reggie Bush (Miami) 104 yards (won)…C.J. Spiller (Buffalo) 103 yards (lost)
100-yard receivers – Brandon Lloyd (New England) 190 yards (lost)…Andre Johnson (Houston) 151 yards (won)…Eric Decker (Denver) 133 yards (won)…Dennis Pitta (Baltimore) 125 yards (lost)…Calvin Johnson (Detroit) 121 yards (lost)…Randall Cobb (Green Bay) 115 yards (won)…Stevie Johnson (Buffalo) 113 yards (lost)…Michael Crabtree (San Francisco) 107 yards (won)…Cecil Shorts III (Jacksonville) 101 yards (lost).
NFL Week 14 STAT PACK (not including Monday night’s New York Jets at Tennessee game)
Home teams are 6-9 outright (125-97-1 this season) and 6-9 against the Las Vegas point spread (95-122-6 this season)
Las Vegas favorites are 10-5 outright (143-79-1 this season) and 10-5 against the point spread (110-117-6)
The first teams to score are 11-4 (133-89-1 this season)
Teams leading after the first quarter are 11-0 (121-56-1 this season)…
Teams leading at halftime are 12-2 (152-56-1 this season)…Teams leading entering the fourth quarter are 14-0 (169-39 this season)
Teams with the most rushing yards are 15-0 (155-67-1 this season)…
Teams with the most passing yards are 7-8 (125-96-1 this season)
Teams winning the turnover battle are 12-2 (137-38-1 this season)
Teams with the fewest penalty yards are 6-9 (121-95-1 this season)
Teams leading in time of possession are 12-3 (140-82-1 this season)
Teams with the better record entering the games are 10-3 (104-60-1 this season)
There have been 691 points scored in 15 games (46.07-point average)
The NFC was 5-1 head-to-head vs. the AFC Week 14 and the NFL leads this season’sinterconference series 36-24 (+12).
BOB’S NFL RANKINGS (entering Monday night’s New York Jets at Tennessee game)
1-Denver…2-Houston…3-San Francisco…4-Atlanta…5-Green Bay…6-New England…7-Seattle…8-Indianapolis…9-Baltimore…10-Washington…11-Dallas…12-Cincinnati…13-Minnesota…14-New York Giants…15-Chicago…16-Pittsburgh…17-New York Jets…18-St. Louis…19-Miami…20-New Orleans…21-Carolina…22-Tampa Bay…23-Arizona…24-Cleveland…25-San Diego…26-Buffalo…27-Tennessee…28-Detroit…29-Oakland…30-Philadelphia…31-Jacksonville…32-Kansas City.
SU’S CARTER -WILLIAMS LOOKS LIKE AN ALL-AMERICAN
Syracuse University star sophomore Michael Carter-Williams figures to apply for the 2013 NBA draft, so this is his only chance to earn All-American honors. I like his chances.
Carter-Williams leads the nation is assists (10.8) by a wide margin and is among the leaders in steals (33). He’s a lean and lanky 6-foot-6. That helps him average 5.2 rebounds per game and be the key perimeter defender in SU’s zone defense. He’s also averaging12.3 points per game.
There isn’t a more valuable all-around player in college basketball and he almost surely will be a top-five selection in spring’s NBA draft. As he fills out and gains experience, he figures to only improve.
Carter-Williams, who recently settled a reported shoplifting “misunderstanding,” figures to pad his stats Monday night at home against Detroit and versus Temple Saturday, noon, at Madison Square Garden.
For the record, here are the Jim Boeheim-era Associated Press All-Americans:
First-team -- 1989 guard Sherman Douglas…1990 forward Derrick Coleman…1991 forward Billy Owens…2005 forward Hakim Warrick…2010 forward Wesley Johnson
Second-team – 1996 forward John Wallace…2003 forward Carmelo Anthony
Third-team – 1985 and 1986 guard Dwayne “Pearl” Washington…1988 guard Sherman Douglas…1995 forward Lawrence Moten…2004 forward Hakim Warrick.
LIN RETURNS TO MSG; SPURS-THUNDER IS NBA WESTERN SHOWDOWN
The NBA features two extremely interesting matchups Monday night: the Houston Rockets at New York Knicks and the San Antonio Spurs at the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Houston’s Jeremy Lin, who turned his NBA career around with the Knicks last season, returns to Madison Square Garden – probably as a rare visiting hero (at least for this game).
The Knicks decided not to pay top dollar to retain Lin after last season and – so far – it looks like they knew what they were doing. The Knicks have a terrific record (18-5) and the player who took Lin’s place at point guard --Raymond Felton -- has outperformed him.
Felton – 16.3 points per game; 6.8 assists per game; 2.7 rebounds per game; .403 field-goal percentage; .406 3-point field-goal percentage (41x101); .756 free-throw percentage
Lin – 10.8 points per game; 6.0 assists per game; 4.0 rebounds per game; .395 field-goal percentage; .317 3-point field-goal percentage (19x60); .821 free-throw percentage. The Rockets are 11-12 after Sunday’s 103-96 loss in Toronto.
San Antonio (19-6) and Oklahoma City (19-4; .826) are a combined 38-10 and, with Memphis, appear to be the class of the Western Conference.
So far, the Thunder haven’t missed James Harden. Oklahoma City was 47-19 (.712) last season and Harden averaged 16.8 points. This season, Kevin Martin, Harden’s replacement as shooting guard off the bench, is averaging 16.0 points. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are scoring slightly less than last season (48.4 points combined per game compared to 51.6 points per game), but Serge Ibaka has more than made up for it (from 9.1 points per game last season to 14.2 this season).
The Thunder lead the NBA in scoring (105.7 per game) and point differential (+9.3 per game). Last season, they were 3rd in scoring (103.1) and 2nd in point differential (+6.2) to San Antonio’s +7.2.
DICKEY MORE PROOF THAT THE BLUE JAYS ARE PRIMED TO WIN – NOW!
Assuming Toronto’s trade with the Mets for 2012 National League Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey, it will be another strong clue that the Blue Jays think the aging and wounded Yankees are vulnerable and are going all out to win the AL East immediately.
Toronto’s lineup is awesome: SS Jose Reyes, 2B Emilio Bonifacio/Maicer Izturtis, RF Jose Bautista, 1B Edwin Encarnacion, LF Melky Cabrera, 3B Brett Lawrie, DH Adam Lind, CF Colby Rasmus, C J.P. Arencibia.
Casey Janssen is a very good closer and the rest of the bullpen is decent (including Sergio Santos, Brad Lincoln, Steve Delabar).
The big improvement is the starting rotation – with newcomers Dickey, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle – plus Brandon Morrow and Ricky Romero or J.A. Happ. NL imports Dickey, Johnson and Buehrle figure to see their numbers rise against AL lineups with DHs, but they should be good enough to win plenty of starts with much more hitting support than they received last season.
I could be very wrong on this, but I’ve been amazed at the relatively few number of the sport’s media experts who’ve jumped on Toronto’s bandwagon and still consider the Yankees and Tampa Bay as the teams to beat in baseball’s best division.