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.
HOW CAN BILLS’ BRASS EVEN THINK ABOUT STATUS QUO?
SEAHAWKS NFL’S BEST TEAM…AT LEAST AT HOME
“MEGATRON” RECEIVING RECORD SEEMS LEGIT TO ME
WILL YANKEES MISS SWISHER?
Remember when the Buffalo Bills were 3-3 and in a four-way tie for the top spot in the AFC East? A lot has happened since – most of it bad for the dime-store (5-10) Bills.
But they finally did something right on Sunday. They lost (24-10 to Miami).
Not that weren’t trying to beat the host Dolphins.
Unless you’re a backer of coach Chan Gailey and/or QB Ryan Fitzpatrick – a vanishing breed these days – the latest loss was a plus for the team’s future.
Every loss means a better spot in the 2013 NFL college draft – how does Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o sound?
A victory Sunday wouldn’t have done anything except reinforce the incredulous possibility of Gailey and/or Fitzpatrick returning for the 2013 season.
Bills Chief Executive Officer Russ Brandon recently hinted that Gailey will return. Brandon does a terrific job selling tickets to his consistently inferior product – but I believe he is kidding himself if he fails to recognize the depth of despair the vast majority of the team’s loyal fans are feeling.
He says you can’t build a winning team by changing coaches every three years or so. I could understand that rationale if any of those coaches were any good.
I believe Buffalo’s roster has improved under GM Buddy Nix’s three-year watch, but the team appears to be stuck in the mud with Gailey.
He’s the guy who decided Fitzpatrick was a franchise quarterback – I hate to repeat an old comment, but did he mean a Dunkin Donuts franchise or a Wendy’s franchise? And Gailey is the guy who decided not to take full advantage of the rare ability talent of C.J. Spiller. His reputation as an offensive “guru” took two huge hits there.
Spiller is 9th in the NFL with 1,185 rushing yards and his 6.5 yards per carry rank 1st among RBs. .Adrian Peterson (Minnesota) leads the NFL with 1,898 rushing yards and is second to Spiller with 6.0 yards per carry. Peterson 314 carries. Spiller, who accumulated plenty of pine time while Fred Jackson was taking his “turn” at RB, had only 183 carries (24th in the NFL).
And we haven’t even mentioned the assorted dubious decisions on the sidelines that that contributed to at least one (being kind) or two losses this season.
I’m tired of picking on Fitz. I have no doubts that he’s doing his best every Sunday. That’s the problem. His “best” isn’t nearly good enough to take this team to the promised land – no, not the Super Bowl – a playoff berth!
Fitz’s ridiculous interception lob to seal Sunday’s 24-10 loss in Miami would be a fitting final throw for the Bills. Can anyone give me ONE logical reason why outcast Tarvaris Jackson should not start Sunday’s finale at home against the New York Jets? Maybe he’d be an improvement. I suspect we’ll never know.
THOUGHTS, STATS AND FACTS ON NFL WEEEK 16
I don’t think Seattle is the best team in the NFL. But I think they’re the best team when they’re playing at home. Sunday night’s 42-13 demolition of San Francisco gives the Seahawks a 7-0 record at home (outscored opponents 223-82). They finished 3-5 on the road…Seattle outscored its last 3 opponents 150-30.
The battle for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year is going to the wire. Entering Week 7, my preferred order is Washington QB Robert Griffin III, Seattle QB Russell Wilson, Indianapolis QB Andrew Luck, Washington RB Alfred Morris and Tampa Bay RB Doug Martin.
Entering Week 17, the only teams ranked in the top 10 in total offense and total defense are Denver (4th and 3rd) and Houston (8th and 9th)…Buffalo ranks 19th in total offense (343.5 yards per game) and 22nd in defense (364.9 yards allowed per game). The Bills are 20th in scoring (21.1 points per game) and 31st in scoring defense (28.4 points allowed per game).
Another problem with Chan Gailey’s Bills is lack of discipline and execution of fundamentals. Buffalo had 11 penalties for 93 yards on Sunday. Miami had 3 penalties for 25 yards. Through 15 games, the Bills have 100 penalties for 847 yards. Opponents are 76x648.
Washington’s 6-game winning streak is second only to Denver’s 10-game winning streak.
Dallas has lived dangerously all season. Including Sunday’s 34-31 overtime loss to visiting New Orleans, the Cowboys (8-7 record) have played 12 games decided by 7 points or less and are 7-5 in those games. In the process, QB Tony Romo probably showed more than enough to keep his job.
Do you know anyone who predicted when this season started that the Bills wouldn’t make the playoffs and the Indianapolis Colts, Washington Redskins and Seattle Seahawks all would make the playoffs? Amazing what a rookie QB can do for teams knowing what they’re doing.
Cincinnati’s 13-10 win Sunday in Pittsburgh was a breakthrough for Bengals QB Andy Dalton, who had been a combined 0-6 vs. AFC North rivals Baltimore and the Steelers…The Bengals (9-6) clinched their first consecutive playoff berths since 1981-82.
Philip Rivers (San Diego) boosted his career record in December to 25-5.
Cleveland last beat Denver in 1990 and is 0-10 since.
Pitiful Oakland hasn’t topped 20 points in its last five games.
Washington entered its bye week 3-6 and is 6-0 since (outscoring opponents 182-122).
Cleveland’s loss in Denver clinched a fifth straight double-digit loss season.
Cincinnati wound up 6-2 on the road with a 13-10 win Sunday in Pittsburgh. The playoff-bound Bengals are 3-4 at home.
Stats Can Be Deceiving Department: Ryan Fitzpatrick ranks 19th in the NFL in passer rating (82.9). Playoff-bound rookie Andrew Luck (Indianapolis) ranks 29th (75.6).
Jacksonville owns the tiebreaker with Kansas City for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 draft.
BOB’S NFL POWER RANKINGS ENTERING WEEK 17
1-Atlanta…2-Denver…3-Green Bay…4-New England…5-Houston…6-Seattle…7-San Francisco…8-Baltimore…9-Washington…10-Minnesota…11-Indianapolis…12-Cincinnati…13-Chicago…14-Dallas…15-New York Giants…16-New Orleans…17-Miami…18-St. Louis…19-Carolina…20-Pittsburgh…21-San Diego…22-Tampa Bay…23-New York Jets…24-Arizona…25-Cleveland…26-Buffalo…27-Tennessee…28-Detroit…29-Philadelphia…30-Oakland…31-Jacksonville…32-Kansas City.
WEEK 16 STAT PACK
Home teams were 6-10 outright (132-107-1 this season) and 7-8-1 against the Las Vegas point spread (103-130-7 this season)
Las Vegas favorites were 10-6 outright (154-85-1 this season) and 8-7-1 against the spread (109-124-7 against the spread)
The first teams to score were 12-4 (145-94-1 this season)
Teams leading after the first quarter were 12-4 (133-61-1 this season)
Teams leading at halftime were 14-1 (167-57-1 this season)
Teams leading entering the fourth quarter were 14-0 (184-39 this season)
Teams with the most rushing yards were 13-3 (169-70-1 this season)
Teams with the most passing yards were 8-8 (134-104-1 this season)
Teams winning the turnover battle were 12-1 (150-39-1 this season)
Teams with the fewest yards penalized were 7-4 (130-102-1 this season)
Teams leading in time of possession were 9-7 (149-90-1 this season)
Teams with the better record entering the game were 12-4 (116-65-1 this season)
The NFC was 3-1 against the AFC Week 15 and won this season’s interconference series 39-25 (+14). The NFC had a 33-31 advantage over the AFC in 2011. Prior to that, the last time the NFC won the interconference series was 1995.
WEEK 16’S TOP PERFORMERS
300-yard passers – Drew Brees (New Orleans) 446 yards (won)…Matthew Stafford (Detroit) 443 yards (lost)…Tony Romo (Dallas) 416 yards (lost)…Josh Freeman (Tampa Bay) 372 yards (lost)…Chad Henne (Jacksonville) 348 yards (lost)…Nick Foles (Philadelphia) 345 yards (lost)…Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay) 342 yards (won)…Peyton Manning (Denver) 339 yards (won)…Joe Flacco (Baltimore) 309 yards
100-yard rushers – Jammal Charles (Kansas City) 226 yards (lost)…C.J. Spiller (Buffalo) 138 yards (lost)…Bernard Pierce (Baltimore) 123 yards (won)…Marshawn Lynch (Seattle) 111 yards (won)…Ray Rice (Baltimore) 107 yards (won)…Peyton Hillis (Kanas City) 101 yards (lost)
100-yard receivers – Calvin Johnson (Detroit) 225 yards (lost)…Dez Bryant (Dallas) 224 yards (lost)…Roddy White (Atlanta) 153 yards (won)…Marques Colston (New Orleans) 153 yards (won)…(Mike Williams (Tampa Bay) 132 yards (lost)…Lance Kendricks (St. Louis) 119 yards (won)…A.J. Green (Cincinnati) 116 yards (won)…Jeremy Maclin (Philadelphia) 116 yards (lost)…Larry Fitzgerald (Arizona) 111 yards (lost)…Vincent Jackson (Tampa Bay) 108 yards (lost)…Darren Sproles (New Orleans) 104 yards (won)…Demarius Thomas (Denver) 102 yards (won)…James Jones (Green Bay) 100 yards (won).
BOB’S NFL WEEK 17 EARLY LINE
Bills favored by 3 at home vs. Jets…Chicago (-3) at Detroit…New England -13 at home vs. Miami…Atlanta (-4) at home vs. Tampa Bay…Cincinnati (-2) at home vs. Baltimore…Indianapolis (-2) at home vs. Houston…Green Bay (-5) at Minnesota…New Orleans (-3) at home vs. Carolina…New York Giants (-10) at home vs. Philadelphia…Pittsburgh (-8) at home vs. Cleveland…Tennessee (-6) at home vs. Jacksonville…Washington (-2) at home vs. Dallas…Denver (-17) at home vs. Kansas City…San Diego (-5) at home vs, Oakland…San Francisco (-14) at home vs. Arizona…Seattle (-9) at home vs. St. Louis.
IS CALVIN JOHNSON’S RECORD PASS-CATCHING SEASON LEGITIMATE?
Detroit’s Calvin Johnson had 225 yards receiving Saturday night to give him an NFL single-season record of 1,892 yards receiving with one game remaining. He’ll smash Jerry Rice’s former league mark of 1,848 yards receiving in 1995.
Here’s how their banner seasons compare:
Rice (1995) – 122 catches for 1,848 yards…15.1 yards per catch…151.1 receiving yards per game…17.6 catches per game…15 TDs…16 games.
Johnson (2012) – 117 catches for 1,892 yards…16.2 yards per catch…126.1 receiving yards per game…7.8 catches per game…5 TDs…15 games.
Rice’s 49ers were 11-5 in the 1995 regular season and Johnson’s Lions are 4-11 (obviously not his fault).
Both players were by far the best offensive weapons on their teams.
The current Lions have a weak rushing game and Johnson is the team’s only healthy quality receiver left. He gets a huge number of passes thrown his way mostly because he is a great receivers and partly because Detroit has so few other offensive options.
But the 1995 49ers relied almost as much on Rice. The team’s top rushers were Derek Loville (723 yards) and William Floyd (237 yards). The other top receivers were Loville (87 catches for 662 yards) and Floyd (47x348).
Both players had prolific quarterbacks throwing to them. Detroit’s Matthew Stafford needs 7 pass attempts this week Chicago to break Drew Bledsoe’s single-season NFL-record 691 attempts with New England in 1994.
The QBs for the 1995 49ers were Hall of Famer Steve Young and Elvis Grbac (started 5 games when Young was injured).
Th3 1995 49ers had 644 passes and 415 carries (61 percent pass plays). The 2012 lions have had 698 pass plays and 371 runs (65.3 percent passes).
Comparing the numbers, I don’t believe it would be fair to contend that Rice’s 1995 record-setting season was better than Johnson’s current record-breaking season.
Rice obviously deserves to be tagged the NFL’s all-time greatest wide receiver. Johnson is building a case to be come the NFL’s all-time No. 2 receiver.
Two advantages for Johnson over Rice: size (6-foot-5, 235 pounds to 6-foot-2, 200 pounds) and nickname (“Megatron” is among the all-time best nicknames in sports; as far as I know, Rice had no lasting nickname).
YANKEES FIGURE TO MISS NICK SWISHER
Nick Swisher’s four-year stint with the New York Yankees officially ended last week when he was signed as a free agent by the New York Yankees. He wasn’t a great player for the Yankees but he was entertaining to watch. He always hustled and had fun playing. His enthusiasm was refreshing on the mostly bland Yankees.
The main reason the Yankees let Swisher go was his horrible post-season batting record for them. In 36 games, he hit .162 (21-for-130) with 4 HRs, 7 RBI and 38 strikeouts.
In his four regular seasons with the Yankees, he hit .268 with 105 HRs and 349 RBI.
I still can’t believe the Yankees plan to play the 2013 season with slap-hitters Brett Gardner in left field and Ichiro Suzuki in right field. They might combine for 10 HRs. That simply isn’t Yankee-like.
Swisher knockers say he’ll do fine in Cleveland because the Indians aren’t likely to make the playoffs to give him the opportunity to choke in October. But I don’t think the Yankees are going to make the playoffs either.