BOB MATTHEWS SPORTS TALK
Weeknights 6:00PM - 8:00PM
on WHAM 1180
Email Bob here.
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.
“BEST BET” 49ers LIKELY TO DEMOLISH ARIZONA
PINSTRIPE BOWL FEATURES NASSIB-GENO SMITH MATCH-UP
TOUGH TO TAKE THE PIRATES SERIOUSLY
AMERKS 2nd IN AHL SC ORING
JUNIOR DOS ANTOS 2-to-1 FAVORITE OVER VELASQUEZ
The San Francisco 49ers haven’t been sharp recently and figure to enjoy a timely tune-up against the hapless Arizona Cardinals.
The Cardinals, with a feeble running game and rolling out their fourth different starting quarterback this season, will be challenged to reach the red zone a few times.
The 49ers are favored by 17 points at home Sunday and should romp as Week 17’s “Best Bet”: SAN FRANCISCO 35, Arizona 0.
As of Friday morning, three of Sunday’s games had no odds posted in Las Vegas because they were meaningless and no one knows how many players will be given the day off. I’ve posted a line on the Cleveland at Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and Atlanta and Oakland at San Diego just for the sport of it.
Sunday’s other games
(home team in CAPS)
BUFFALO (- 3 ½) 24, New York Jets 14 – The Bills can only hurt their draft status by winning – so they probably will. C.J. Spiller should have a big game if Chan Gailey decides to get his best offensive weapon fully involved for a change. Better late than never? Not really.
NEW ENGLAND (-10 ½) 30, Miami 13 – When Tom Brady talks, the Patriots listen and respond. And he let everyone know how unimpressed he was with the team’s effort in a 23-16 win in Jacksonville last week.
CINCINNATI (-2 ½) 27, Baltimore 17 – The playoff-bound Bengals are healthier and should be hungrier playing at home with memories of a 44-13 loss in Baltimore to start the season.
Cleveland at Pittsburgh (-7) – The Steelers failed to make the playoffs but they have enough pride to give their loyal fans an honest effort.
Houston 27, INDIANAPOLIS (+6 ½) 14 – The Colts always give an honest effort but the Texans have much more overall talent and hope to gear up for the postseason.
TENNESSEE (-4) 24, Jacksonville 13 – The Jaguars are allowing an NFL-most 30.1 points per game and Titans running back Chris Johnson should be in the mood to take advantage.
NEW YORK GIANTS (7) 27, Philadelphia 10 – One more chance for the disappointing Giants to wake up. Eagles QB Michael Vick will be auditioning for a new team for next season but he figures to be rusty.
Dallas 35, WASHINGTON (-3) 24 – This would be a good time for the Cowboys to get off to a good start for a change. My hunch is that Washington rookie QB Robert Griffin III’s sore knee will significantly reduce his effectiveness.
Chicago 23, DETROIT (+3) 15 – The Bears play enough defense to hand the disappointing Lions their eighth straight loss.
Green Bay 30, MINNESOTA (+3) 20 – This game means more to the Vikings but the Packers want to keep their momentum for the postseason.
ATLANTA (-9) 24, Tampa Bay 20 – The Falcons figure to rest some of their starters and the Buccaneers are good enough to stick close all the way under the circumstances.
NEW ORLEANS (-7) 33, Carolina 30 – This figures to be a shootout and Cam Newton has looked good enough lately to keep the Panthers in the game to the finish.
DENVER (-16) 35, Kansas City 10 – The Broncos are No. 1 in some weekly power rankings while the Chiefs are No. 32 in most of them.
SAN DIEGO (-7) 28, Oakland 14 – The hapless Raiders provide an opportunity for the Chargers to send coach Norv Turner out on a winning note.
SEATTLE (-10 ½) 37, St. Louis 17 – The Rams have had a decent season but playing at Seattle is a tough way to close out the season.
Last week’s results: 12-4 picking winning teams outright…9-6-1 picking winners against the point spread…the “Best Bet” – New England by more than the 14.5-point spot over Jacksonville -- won by only 7 points (23-16).
RYAN NASSIB vs. GENO SMITH SUBPLOT IN PINSTRIPE BOWL
Saturday afternoon’s New Era Pinstripe Bowl (3:15 p.m., at Yankee Stadium) figures to be one of the more exciting of the 35 bowl games this season.
Syracuse and West Virginia both have 7-5 records and legitimate bowl teams.
West Virginia has more firepower and Syracuse plays better defense.
Here’s how the teams matchup (rank among the 120 NCAA Football Subdivision teams in parentheses)
Total offense – West Virginia (8) 518.50 yards…Syracuse 21 (473.42)
Pass offense – West Virginia (6) 340.92…Syracuse (21) 301.58
Rush offense – West Virginia (46) 177.58…Syracuse (52) 171.83
Scoring offense – West Virginia (7) 41.58 points per game…Syracuse (60) 29.33
Total defense – Syracuse (50) 385.08…West Virginia (107) 469.58
Pass defense – Syracuse (62) 236.92…West Virginia (119) 327.08
Rush defense – West Virginia( 39)…Syracuse (47) 148.17
Scoring defense – Syracuse (52)25.67 point allowed per game…West Virginia (114)38.08
Turnover margin per game – West Virginia (35) +0.50)…Syracuse (62)-.08
Sacks by per game –Syracuse (61) 2.0…West Virginia (73) 1.75
Sacks allowed per game – Syracuse (20) 1.17…West Virginia (48)1.67
Punt returns – West Virginia (27) 11.00…Syracuse 106 (4.0)
Kickoff returns – West Virginia (81) 20.50…Syracuse (101) 19.03.\
A subplot in this game is the duel between senior quarterbacks Geno Smith (West Virginia) and Ryan Nassib (Syracuse).
Smith is expected to be selected in the first round of the 2013NFL draft. Nassib’s stock has been rising and some draft talent gurus think he could be chosen as early as the third round. Here are their performance lines for this season:
Smith – 350x490 (.714)…4004 passing yards…40 TD passes…6 INTs…
164.56 passing efficiency (7th in the nation)…63 carries for 155 net yards and 2 TDs
Nassib – 283x448 (.632)…3919 passing yards…24 TD passes…9 INTs…
144.69 passing efficiency (33rd)…77 carries for 129 net yards and 2 TDs.
West Virginia is favored by 3 ½ points. The over/under (combined points) is 73 ½.
WHY WOULD ANYONER BE A PITTSBURGH PIRATES FAN?
The Pittsburgh Pirates have a baseball-record 20 straight losing seasons and appear determined to extend that pitiful streak in 2013.
The Pirates this week traded exceptional closer Joel Hanrahan to Boston for pretty much a bunch of cheap junk. Why? Mostly because Hanrahan will be a free agent after this season and the Pirates apparently didn’t want to give him the going rate to stay. In the past two seasons, Hanrahan had 76 saves, a 2.24 ERA and a strikeout per inning.
I don’t believe Boston can win the AL East this season. Toronto and Tampa Bay will be better. But I think they can post a better record than the fading New YorK Yankees and stand-pat Baltimore.
I do know Boston’s bullpen will be excellent: Hanrahan, primary set-up man Andrew Bailey, import Koji Uehara and Daniel Bard, and left-handers Craig Breslow and Andrew Miller. They’ll be busy because the starting rotation isn’t nearly as good.
The Rochester Americans enter Friday night’s game in Buffalo against the Lake Erie Monsters as the second-highest scoring team in the 30-team AHL (3.5 goals per game), behind only the Syracuse Crunch (3.62 goals per game)…Rochester ranks 3rd on the power play (20.6 percent (27x131) and 19th in penalty killing (82.9 percent; 107x129, with 5 short-handed goals).
I wasn’t surprised that Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas was selected Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year, but I was surprised that U.S. soccer’s Carli Lloyd received more also-ran votes than teammate Alex Morgan. Abby Wambach won last year.
Former Western New York Flash leading scorer Christine Sinclair received some long overdue recognition this month. She was voted Canada’s Female Athlete of the Year by the Canadian Press for leading Canada to the soccer bronze medal in the Olympics.
The Buffalo Bills are 25th in ESPN.com’s Week 17 NFL Power Ranking. The top 10: Denver, Atlanta, San Francisco, Green Bay, New England, Seattle, Houston, Indianapolis, Washington and Baltimore. Miami is 19th and the New York Jets are 23rd.
I figure coach Bills coach Chan Gailey cost running back C.J. Spiller a Pro Bowl berth by not using him enough.
Cheers to 32-year-old Rochester super lightweight Kenny Abril for posting an upset Dec. 7 over veteran Dennis Laurente via split decision at Texas Station Casino in Las Vegas. Laurente now is 43-5-5 and Abril is 14-5-1. Abril probably earned himself a decent-paying fight or two in the near future.
Here are the odds on the top bouts in Saturday night’s USC 155 pay-per-view from Las Vegas: Heavyweight title fight – Junior Dos Santos bet $200 to win $100; Cain Velasquez $100 to win $160…Lightweight co-main event – Jim Miller bet $220 to win $100; Joe Lauzon bet $100 to win $180…Featured middleweight fight – Tim Boetsch bet $110 to win $100; Costa Philippou bet $120 to win $100.