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.
LACK OF DEPTH BURNS THE BILLS AT THE MOST IMPORTANT POSITION
“BEST BET”: BRONCOS OVER COWBOYS
The Buffalo Bills are on the upgrade. The number of good players is increasing. The number of bottom feeders is dwindling.
Through five games this season, the Bills have demonstrated that they have enough talent to be competitive almost every Sunday.
But they’re not likely to end their 13-season playoff drought. The main problem is lack of depth. No one should be surprised. We suspected that would be the case when this season began and it burned the Bills in Thursday night’s 37-24 road loss to the Cleveland Browns.
I viewed Thursday night’s game as a matchup between two improving young teams striving to become slightly above average. I thought both teams put on a good show.
The key factor in Cleveland’s victory was better depth at the most important position – quarterback.
Buffalo gambled this season’s success and long shot playoff hopes on rookie quarterback EJ Manuel. After veteran QB Kevin Kolb suffered a season-ending injury during training camp – not a big shock considering his NFL history – the Bills gambled again. They opted to stick with suspect rookie Jeff Tuel as Manuel’s backup.
By deciding to go with Tuel, the pressure on Manuel from fans and media was significantly reduced. Manuel was going to be the starting QB through thick and thin. He’d be able to grow with experience – good and bad. That wasn’t a bad idea.
So far, I don’t agree with those who refer to Manuel as “star rookie quarterback,” but he was showing flashes of becoming Buffalo’s long-awaited “franchise quarterback.”
In Thursday night’s game, when Cleveland starting QB Brian Hoyer was knocked out of action, former starter Brandon Weeden took over and got the job done. When Manuel was knocked out of action, Tuel came up empty. That was the major difference in the game.
The Bills and their fans now are sweating out the condition of Manuel’s sprained right knee. Hopefully, he’ll be back soon and continue to grow as a player.
I was hopeful that the 2013 season would determine if Manuel is capable of making the Bills a steady playoff contender in the near future. If he can’t return for the rest of this season, the QB situation will remain unresolved and it would be another wasted year.
I hope Manuel ultimately will fill the bill. I’m pretty sure Jeff Tuel won’t. The Bills were hoping Tuel wouldn’t need to play. Now he might have to.
--The Bills now are 2-3 and probably would need to go 7-4 the rest of the regular season to make the playoffs. Here’s the rest of the schedule:
Cincinnati home Sunday, Oct. 13
At Miami Oct. 20
At New Orleans Oct. 27
Kansas City home Nov. 3
At Pittsburgh Nov. 10
New York Jets home Nov. 17
BYE Nov. 24
Atlanta home Dec. 1
At Tampa Bay Dec. 8
At Jacksonville Dec. 15
Dec. 22 Miami home
At New England Dec. 29
EVEN WITH HOT ROMO, COWBOYS NO MATCH FOR THE BRONCOS
You don’t often see the Dallas Cowboys getting an 8 ½-point spot at home. But they rarely take on an offense as potent as the Peyton Manning Air Show (16 TD passes, 0 INTs, 138.0 passer rating, 4-0 and outscoring opponents 172-91.
Even if Tony Romo has a terrific game on Sunday, the Cowboys aren’t likely to come close to matching scores against the Broncos. Dallas is 2-0 at home this season, with victories over the Giants and Rams. Denver is several notches above that competition.
It is way too early to speculate on a 16-0 season for the Broncos. But a 5-0 start is highly probable.
This week’s “Best Bet” is Denver 35, DALLAS (+8 ½) 20.
Sunday’s other games
(home teams in CAPS)
GREEN BAY (7)33, Detroit 20 – The Packers are coming off their bye week and Aaron Rodgers figures to be primed for a big game against Detroit’s suspect secondary.
New England 27, CINCINNATI (-1) 24 – The Bengals probably have a slight edge in overall talent but the critical difference here figures to be at quarterback – Tom Brady over Andy Dalton.
Seattle 24, INDIANAPOLIS (+3) 17 – The Seahawks figure to storm out of the gate after last week’s slow start in Houston.
Baltimore 24, MIAMI (-3) 20 – Look for Ravens QB Joe Flacco to bounce back after throwing a career-high five picks in last week’s 23-20 loss at Buffalo.
New Orleans 35, CHICAGO (+1) 23 – The Saints are in the groove on offense and figure to keep rolling with less than three giveaways against the opportunistic Bears.
Philadelphia 30, NEW YORK GIANTS (-2 ½) 17 – The speed of the Eagles should be the difference in this clash of disappointing NFC East teams. The home crowd could turn on the Giants early as they try to avoid their first 0-5 start since 1987.
ST. LOUIS (- 11 ½) 24, Jacksonville 10 – You seldom see a team as weak as the Rams favored by 11 ½ points. That’s how bad the Jaguars have been.
Kansas City 23, TENNESSEE (+ 2 ½) 17 – Can Ryan Fitzpatrick lead the Titans over the unbeaten Chiefs? I don’t think so.
Carolina 30, ARIZONA (+2) 17 – No excuse for the underrated (I think) Panthers comi9ng off a 38-0 romp over the Giants and a bye week.
SAN FRANCISCO (-7) 23, Houston 20 – The 49ers figure to win but the Texans should be ready to play after last week’s tough 23-20 home loss to Seattle and have enough talent to hang tough all the way.
San Diego 27, OAKLAND (+ 4 ½) 20 – The Chargers are six points short of being 4-0 (three-point losses to Houston and Tennessee) and Q B Philip Rivers is in rare form.
Monday night’s game
ATALANTA (-10) 33, New York Jets 10 – The Falcons have lost two straight games for the first time since 2009 and are due for a top effort. Atlanta is 34-6 at home since QB Matt Ryan arrived and that rend figures to continue.
Thursday night’s pick was CLEVELAND to beat Buffalo by more than the 3 ½-point spot (20-13).
Last week’s “Best Bets” results: 10-5 picking winners straight up (42-21 this season)...10-5 picking winners against the point spread (33-27-3 this season)...The “Best Bet” is 2-2 straight up and 1-3 against the spread after 3 ½-point favored Baltimore lost to Buffalo 23-20.
America’s Line World Series odds entering Thursday and (season-opening odds): Red Sox 7x2 (30x1)...Dodgers 7x2 (8x1)...Tigers (x2 (4x1)...Cardinals 6x1 (20x1)...Athletics 8x1 (30x1)...Braves 8x1 (15x1)...Pirates 12x1 (50x1)...Rays 20x1 (20x1).
Minnesota Twins general manager Terry Ryan expects to have at least 15 new names on the 40-man major-league roster active roster when spring training begins. That means quite a few former Red Wings will be history.
There has been a huge shakeup of the Rochester RazorSharks. Rochester-based Red Penguin Athletics LLC will manage the Premier Basketball League’s team operations through the 2016 season. There will be a new coach and front office staff. The 2014 season opens New Year’s Eve at Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial.
Popular pacer Michael Scores will be retired in ceremonies Saturday night at Batavia Downs. The gritty 12-yeear-old harness star had 87 victories in 275 career starts, mostly on the Western New York circuit. His earnings were $668,079 for co-owners Sandra and Jim Compton. His lifetime-best mile was 1:50.4 at Tioga Downs in 2007.