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.
HAPPY DAYS ARE HERE AGAIN – PATRIOTS LOSE, BILLS WIN
PATS DROP, BILLS ROSE IN BOB’S POWER RATINGS
MY WORLD SERIES PICK: BOSTON IN SEVEN
The New England Patriots might still be the best team in the AFC East, but the New York Jets supplied another strong clue Sunday that the Belichick-Brady Dynasty is starting to crack.
The Jets beat the visiting Patriots 30-27 in overtime to end New England’s NFL-best 12-game winning streak against division rivals. That’s significant. You can’t beat them until you think you can beat them.
The Patriots still are pretty good but they’re mostly pretty fortunate to still be leading the AFC East. They’re about as unimpressive as a 5-2 NFL team could be. The three other teams in the division know it. Maybe the Pats have some doubts, too. A controversial call even helped do them in. It has taken too long, but the balance of power is tipping.
The Buffalo Bills haven’t had their share of breaks for a long time – that’s one big reason why they haven’t made the playoffs since the 1999 season. Lack of talent was the main reason, of course, particularly at the quarterback position, but bad luck and dubious zebra calls also have been factors. Bottom-feeding teams don’t get much benefit of the doubt.
Sunday in Miami, Buffalo appeared headed for another could-have-gone-either-way defeat – until Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s lost fumble set up a field goal for a 23-21 victory. The Bills were due for a break. That stuff usually happens against them – not for them.
Barring injuries, the Bills appear capable of beating any AFC East rival. When was the last time we could think of saying that – and believing it? I’m going to have to start taking John The Optimist more seriously, at least a little bit.
For the record, here is how the AFC East teams measure up (NFL rank in parentheses):
New England 5-2...Jets 4-3...Miami 3-3...Buffalo 3-4
Total offense – Jets 343.3 (15th)...Patriots 341.1 (16th)...Bills 333.3 (20th)...Dolphins 312.7 (27th)
Total defense – Jets 302.6 (4th)...Patriots 352.7 (18th)...Dolphins 372.2 (20th)...Bills 380.4 (23rd)
Scoring offense – Bills 22.7 (17th)...Dolphins 22.5 (18th)...Patriots 21.7 (20th)...Jets 19.1 (24th)
Scoring defense – Patriots 18.1 (5th)...Jets 23.1 (19th)...Dolphins 23.3 (23.3)...Bills 25.4 (22nd)
Point differential – New England +25...Miami -5...Buffalo -19...Jets -28.
Turnover differential – Bills +5...Patriots +5...Dolphins -1...Jets -11.
The numbers suggest that New England no longer has a big edge over the AFC East competition.
BOB’S NFL POWER RANKINGS ENTERING MONDAY NIGHT
1—Chiefs...merit top spot as only undefeated team left
2—Broncos...understandable slight letdown in Indy
3—Seahawks...tough to fault
4—Saints...off layoff host Buffalo
5—Colts...handed Denver first loss
6—Packers...at less than full strength outclassed Cleveland
7—Bengals...Dalton stepping up
8—49ers...appear to be nearing top form
9—Patriots...injuries starting to take their toll
10—Cowboys...gritty victory in Philadelphia
11—Chargers...better balance on offense is working
12—Jets...tough to beat when they protect the ball
13—Bears...lost shootout to Washington
14—Lions...tough home loss to Cincinnati
15—Panthers...Cam Newton sharp in last two games
16—Dolphins...three straight losses since 3-0 start
17—Ravens...Super Bowl champs not looking so hot
18—Bills...only team with at least 20 points for/against every game
19—Redskins...RG III coming off best game yet in return
20—Eagles...Nick Foles flunked test in his big chance
21—Titans...still waiting for Chris Johnson to wake up
22—Browns...Brandon Weeden looks hopeless
23—Cardinals...no match for Seattle
24—Rams...sweating out Bradford’s knee injury
25—Falcons...finally found a team they could beat
26—Steelers...showing some pride
27—Raiders...maybe the week off helped
28—Texans...five straight losses since 2-0 start
29—Vikings...Josh Freeman probably can’t hurt
30—Buccaneers...weren’t supposed to be this bad
31—Giants...host Minnesota Monday night
32—Jaguars...0-16 appears within their grasp
WEEK 7 NFL TOP PERFORMERS
Peyton Manning (Denver) 386 yards (lost)
Andy Dalton (Cincinnati) 372 (won)
Matthew Stafford (Detroit) 357 (lost)
Jake Locker (Tennessee) 326 (lost)
Chad Henne (Jacksonville) 318 (lost)
Tony Romo (Dallas) 317 (won)
A.J. Green (Cincinnati) 155 yards (won)
Calvin Johnson (Detroit) 155 (lost)
Eric Decker (Denver) 150 (lost)
Harry Douglas (Atlanta) 149 (won)
Vincent Jackson (Tampa Bay) 138 (lost)
Jordan Reed (Washington) 134 (won)
Mike Brown (Jacksonville) 120
Ron Gronkowski (New England) 114 (lost)
Dez Bryant (Dallas) 110 (won)
Alshon Jeffery (Chicago) 105 (lost)
Jarrett Boykin (Green Bay) 103 (won)
Ryan Mathews (San Diego) 110 (won)
Chris Ivory (NY Jets) 104 (won)
NFL STAT PACK WEEK 7 PACK ENTERING MONDAY NIGHT
Home teams are 8-6 outright (65-41 this season) and 8-6 against the Las Vegas point spread (57-46-3 this season)
Las Vegas favorites are 8-6 outright (67-39 this season) and 8-6 against the spread (58-46-2 this season)
Teams winning the turnover battle are 7-2 (62-16 this season)
Teams leading in time of possession are 11-3 (75-31 this season)
Teams with the most yards rushing are 10-4 (71-34 this season)
Teams with the most yards passing are 10-4 (63-43 this season)
Teams scoring first are 12-2 (68-38 this season)
Teams leading after the first quarter are 10-2 (53-30 this season)
Teams leading at halftime are 13-1 (72-22 this season)
Teams leading after the third quarter are 13-1 (82-15 this season)
Teams with the better record entering the game are 6-6 (35-25 this season)
Five of the 14 games were decided by 3 points or less (26 of 106 games this season)
Six of the 14 games were decided by 7 points or less (49 of 106 games this season)
The NFC was 2-1 vs. the AFC in Week 7 and the AFC leads this season’s interconference series 20-15.
NFL NEWS AND VIEWS
A league that doesn’t have enough decent healthy quarterbacks to adequately stock 32 teams, now sweats out injuries to Nick Foles (Philadelphia; head), Jay Cutler (Chicago; groin) and Sam Bradford (St. Louis; knee)...And isn’t it time to wonder if former No. 1 overall pick Bradford ever will more than an average NFL QB?...Jerry Jones of Dallas, a terrific owner and a lousy GM, has thoroughly messed up his team’s salary cap for next season. Fortunately for him, some team has to win the lousy NFC East, and his Cowboys are alone on top despite their modest 4-3 record. They’re 3-0 vs. NFC East foes for the first time since 2007...Green Bay is hurting but Sunday’s home romp over Cleveland was a shining example of how much a top quarterback can mean against a healthier opponent with a lousy QB...For two weeks at least, Carolina has looked like a dangerous team when Cam Newton plays to his potential. He’s 35x43 for 464 yards with 4 TD passes and 0 INTs in two easy victories...Atlanta really misses injured RB Steven Jackson. The Falcons beat visiting Tampa Bay Sunday despite only 18 carries for 18 yards...Who could have guessed when this season started that Chip Kelly’s crazy offense would produce only 3 points in a 17-3 home loss Sunday to banged-up Dallas. The Eagles have lost a franchise-record nine straight home games.
RED SOX FAVORED OVER ST. LOUIS IN THE WORLD SERIES
The 2013 World Series begins Wednesday night. My pick is Boston over St. Louis in 7 games – but I’m surprised that the Red Sox are rather heavy favorites: bet $145 to win $100 on Boston; bet $100 to win $125 on the Cardinals.
The two teams tied for the best record in the majors in the regular season: 97-65. St. Louis was 54-27 at home and Boston was 53-28 at home. Boston led the majors in runs (853) and slugging per4centage (.446) and St. Louis led the National League in most offensive categories.
Boston’s offensive numbers are somewhat inflated by cozy Fenway Park, but the Red Sox do have more power (178 HRs to 125 HRs for St. Louis). The Cardinals have an impressive parade of .300-plus hitters at the top of their lineup.
St. Louis clutch-hitting first baseman Allen Craig missed the playoffs with a sprained left foot and his status for the World Series is iffy. He could start or DH. Backup Matt Adams has good power but isn’t nearly the overall hitter Craig is.
One reason I like Boston to win is the home-field advantage -- “earned” because the American League won the All-Star Game.
Playing games 1 and 2, and possibly games 6 and 7, at home means Boston DH David Ortiz will get a maximum of four games in the lineup. The Red Sox will be significantly weaker in the games played in St. Louis, without designated hitters. Boston can’t even hide Big Papi at first base. He’s a hitter. Period.
The main reason to like St. Louis is the 1-2 starting pitching punch of Adam Wainwright and hot rookie Michael Wacha (The compensatory pick for losing Albert Pujols to free agency; how do you think Pujols feels now – besides richer, of course) over Boston’s Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz. But the pressure might get to Wacha (it hasn’t yet) and I prefer Boston 3-4 starters John Lackey and Jake Peavy slightly over St. Louis’ Joe Kelly and Lance Lynn.
Both teams have loaded bullpens, but the best reliever in the playoffs has been Boston’s Koji Uehara. The Cardinals have patient hitters, but he never walks anyone.
One underrated element of Boston’s game is their team speed running. They were fourth in the majors in stolen bases (123) and were caught stealing only 19 times (fewest in the majors). St. Louis had 45 stolen bases (second-fewest in the majors) and were caught 22 times. I also give Boston a slight edge on the bench.
Both teams are reliable defensively (unlike, for example, the Detroit Tigers and Yasiel Puig). Including the playoffs, St. Louis has 78 errors and Boston has 83. The Red Sox aren’t likely to run wild on St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina.
This if the fourth Red Sox-Cardinals World Series: 1946 – St. Louis won in 7...1967 St. Louis won in 7...2004 Boston won in 4. The Red Sox also swept Colorado in 2007 and have won eight straight World Series games.
For the record, here were the time of games in their three previous World Series matchups: 1946 2:39, 1:52, 1:54, 2:31, 2:23, 1:56, 2:17...1967 2:22, 2:24, 2:25, 2:05, 2:20, 2:48, 2:23...2004 4:00, 3:20, 2:58, 3:14...The safest prediction for the 2013 World Series is that every game will last more than three hours.
SHAKING UP THE HEISMAN TROPHY RACE
Last week’s college football results probably knocked at least four Heisman Trophy contenders out of the race, including reigning Heisman winner Johnny Manziel. He threw two interceptions in Texas A&M’s second loss of the season, 45-41 at home to Auburn.
Other Heisman hopefuls who suffered probable knockout blows last week include Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater (less than brilliant in two straight weeknight prime-time appearances, including last week’s 38-35 loss to UCF), Clemson QB Tajh Boyd (two INTs and a lost fumble returned for a TD in a 51-14 home loss to Clemson) and South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney (less than dominant in a 223-21 loss to underdog Tennessee).
The new Heisman frontrunner likely is Florida State freshman QB Jameis Winston, who lived up to his hype in the 51-14 romp at Clemson). Oregon QB Marcus Mariota (327 yards passing, 2 TD passes and a 57-yard TD run in a 62-38 romp over Washington State) and Alabama QB AJ MaCarron (predictably steady in a 52-0 romp over Arkansas) also remained in the running.
BIRON A LIKELY NHL ANALYST
Veteran NHL goaltender Martin Biron, 36, announced his retirement over the weekend. He was put on waivers by the New York Rangers last week and opted to call it quits. He figures to be scooped up soon as a hockey analyst. He’s smart and loaded with personality.
Marty had one of the hottest runs by a goalie in Rochester Americans history in portions of three seasons:
1998-99 – 52 games...36-13-3 record... 2.07 goals-against average... .933 save percentage. ... 6 shutouts
1999-2000 – 6 games...6-0-0 record... 2.09 GAA... .924 save percentage...1 shutout
2000-01 – 4 games...3-1-0 record... 1.00 GAA... .955 save percentage...1 shutout.
In the 1997-98 season, he was the AHL first-team All-Star goalie.
FLASHBACK TO THE WORST BUFFALO SABRES’ SEASOR – SO FAR
The rebuilding Buffalo Sabres appear destined to spend the rest of this NHL season striving to avoid posting the worst season in franchise history.
Surprisingly, Buffalo’s all-time worst NHL season was not as a 1970-71 expansion team. That team was 24-39-15.
The following season, 1971-72, the Sabres were 16-43-19, including 5-24-10 on the road. They were outscored by 86 goals (289 to 203). The GM-coach was Punch Imlach. Rookie Rick Martin led the team with 48 goals and tied Gilbert Perreault with 74 points. Al Hamilton led with 105 PIM and goalie Roger Crozier had 13 wins. Other mainstays included Jim Lorentz, Ron Luce, Craig Ramsey, Mike Robitaille, and Rene Robert, acquired from Pittsburgh during the season for veteran Eddie Shack.
Encouraging historical note: The 1972-73 Sabres enjoyed a dramatic improvement. Imlach named old friend Joe Crozier coach. Robert had 40 goals to complement Perrault and Martin. Rookie Jim Schoenfeld anchored the defense. Roger Crozier/Dave Dryden were an effective duo in goal. The team finished the regular season 37-24-14, including 30-6-3 at home, and outscored opponents by 38 goals (257-219). They Sabres made the playoffs for the first time. They lost to Montreal in the first round but appreciative fans chanted “Thank you Sabres” as the curtain fell on home ice.
SCRATCH ONE TRIVIA QUESTION
Little did I know, when I asked the nightly trivia question on my radio show Friday, that the 15-year answer would be erased one night lately. Until Saturday night, the record for the most pass attempts by a QB in a major college game was 83 by Purdue’s Drew Brees. On Saturday night, Washington State’s Connor Halliday smashed that mark with 88 pass attempts in a 62-38 loss to Oregon...Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti was not impressed. He said he was a “low class” move by Cougars coach Mike Leach to throw the ball on every play in the fourth quarter after his team fell behind 55-24. Halliday threw 28 passes in the fourth quarter. He finished with 557 yards passing, 4 TD passes and 4 INTs.
Another reason to look forward to Syracuse University’s inaugural ACC basketball season: The football Orange play at Florida State Saturday, Nov. 16. SU lost 56-0 at Georgia Tech last Saturday.