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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.
“BEST BETS” ATTEMPTS TO BOUNCE BACK FROM A 1-13 DISASTER
WHY THE YANKEES CAN’T AFFORD TO KEEP A-ROD
CAN SPILLER BE NFL’S MOST PRODUCTIVE RUNNING BACK?
SYRACUSE HAS EDGE ON OFFENSE…UCONN BETTER DEFENSE
Who am I to put down Buffalo Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and New York Yankees third baseman/benchwarmer Alex Rodriguez?
They’ve struggled this season, but they’ve been pretty good compared to my “Best Bet” performance last week.
I’ve been doing “Best Bets” for a long time and never had a week nearly as putrid as NFL Week 6.
A chimpanzee at the Seneca Park Zoo would have done better – even if it doesn’t know a banana from a football.
I was 3-11 picking winners straight up and an even more ridiculous 1-13 against the Las Vegas point spread.
Entering Monday night’s game, I suggested to WHAM 1180 listeners that they take Denver (+1) because I liked San Diego at home – a lot.
I was feeling better at halftime: Chargers 24, Broncos 0.
But I was even more humbled and embarrassed when the game ended: Denver won the second half 35-0 and the game 35-24 to cap a truly awful display of NFL handicapping.
Entering Week 7, “Best Bets” is 49-42 picking winners straight up and 35-53-3 against the Las Vegas point spread. The “Best Bet” is 3-2-1 outright and 2-3-1 against the spread after Cincinnati (favored by 3 points over winless Cleveland) lost 34-24.
It was a very strange week – even by NFL standards. I don’t think many people had a winning record against the spread but I know almost everyone was better than 1-13.
The most profitable betting trend this season continues to be the underdogs. They’re 57-32-2 against the spread. I’m tempted to pick all of the underdogs this week, but the favorites probably would start reversing the trend.
I ‘ll do better on “Best Bets” this week. That’s guaranteed! If I don’t, I’ll give you next week’s picks for free.
The Arizona Cardinals couldn’t beat the Buffalo Bills at home last week. So why should they beat host Minnesota on Sunday?
Both teams are off to surprising 4-2 starts but the Vikings appear more legitimate to me. Arizona is 3-14 The Cardinals are hurting at running back and quarterback John Skelton will be under steady pressure from Jared Allen and Co.
Arizona is 3-14 straight up in its last 17 road games and 7-14 against the spread (ATS) in its last 21 road games.
The Vikings are 9-2 straight up in the last 11 meetings and this week’s “Best Bet”: MINNESOTA (-6) 27, Arizona 10.
Sunday’s other games
(Home team in CAPS)
BUFFALO (-3) 30, Tennessee 14 – This would be a good time for Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick to put up big passing numbers against a team allowing opposing a league QBs to post a cumulative 107.9 passer rating. Tennessee’s best hope would be a 150 yard-plus rushing performance by Chris Johnson. Buffalo should be ready for him.
Dallas 28, CARLOLINA (+2) 13 – The Cowboys are desperate for a win and they were impressive in defeat last week at Baltimore…Warning: Dallas is 3-9 ATS in its last 12 games.
Green Bay 33, ST. LOUIS (+6) 17 – Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is back in MVP form and should be the difference…Warning: Green Bay is 2-5 ATS in its last 7 games and the Rams are 4-0-1 ATS in their last 5 home games.
Cleveland 24, INDIANAPOLIS (-2 ½) 20 – The Browns have played better than their 1-5 record and are 7-2-1 ATS in their last 10 games.
NEW YORK GIANTS (-6) 28, Washington 14 – This is a tough spot for Redskins rookie QB Robert Griffin III.
HOUSTON (6 ½) 28, Baltimore 17 – The Ravens are banged-up on defense and the talented Texans are due for a top effort.
New Orleans 35, TAMPA BAY (+2) 24 – The Saints can’t afford many more losses and have a big advantage at quarterback. The Buccaneers are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 home games and 3-7 ATS in their last 10 home games against New Orleans.
OAKLAND (-4) 23, Jacksonville 13 – The Raiders have a more-balanced attack than the run-happy Jaguars, who are 2-10 in their last 12 road games.
NEW ENGLAND (-10 ½) 37, New York Jets 17 – The unpredictable Jets aren’t likely to approach last week’s surprising effort in a 35-9 home romp over Indianapolis. The Patriots are 15-5 in the last 20 meetings and 18-4 in their last 22 home games.
CINCINNATI (+1 ½) 27, Pittsburgh 20 – Strictly a hunch. The Steelers are 1-6 ATS in their last 7 games but 9-2 in the last 11 meetings.
Monday night’s game
CHICAGO (-6) 27, Detroit 16 – The Bears are 11-3 in the last 24 meetings and will be eager to prove they’re one of the NFL’s most-underrated teams. C hicago is 7-2 On Monday Night Football since 2006 (16-32 from 1970 through 2003).
Thursday night’s pick was: SAN FRANCISCO 28 (-7 ½), Seattle 17 – The 49ers were out to make up for last week’s embarrassing 26-3 home loss to the Giants. The Seahawks usually play their best at home (7-14-1 in their last 22 road games).
LAST WEEK’S RESULTS – 3-11 picking winners outright (49-42 for the season); 1-13 picking winners against the point spread; the “Best Bet” is 3-2-1 outright and 2-3-1 against the point spread after 2 ½-point favored Cincinnati lost 34-24 at Cleveland.
YANKEES PUT THEMSELVES OUT OF THEIR MISERY
The 2012 American League Championship Series will go down as a low point in Yankees history. Of course, 27 world championships puts things in perspective, but the last week of rotten baseball will sting until next spring training at least.
Detroit swept the Yankees 4-0 in the ALCS and it was no contest.
The Yankees hit .157 (22x140) and scored 6 runs. They had 4 doubles, 1 triple and 6 RBI, with 12 walks, 36 strikeouts, a 224 on-base percentage and a .264 slugging percentage.
Detroit hit .291 (46x158) and scored 19 runs. The Tigers had 7 doubles, 1 triple, 6 HRs and 19 RBI, with 12 walks. 30 strikeouts, a .341 on-base percentage and a .462 slugging percentage.
Derek Jeter, Raul Ibanez, Ichiro Suzuki and Mark Teixiera were the only Yankee regulars to respectably in the postseason (and Teixeira had no power).
Here’s the sad rundown for the Silent Seven for the ALDS win over even weaker-hitting Baltimore plus the never-in-it ALCS sweep for Detroit:
Nick Swisher -- .167 (5x30); 2 doubles; 2 RBI; 3 walks, 10 strikeouts
Russell Martin -- .161 (5x31); 1 double; 1 HR; 1 RBI; 3W; 5K
Alex Rodriguez -- .120 (3x25): 3 singles; 0 RBI; 2#; 12K plus one hit in the flirting league
Curtis Granderson -- .100 (3X30); 1 HR; 1 HR; 3W; 16K
Robinson Cano -- .075 (3x40); 2 doubles; 4 RBI; 1W; 6K
Eric Chavez -- .000 (0x16); 0RBI; 0W; 8K
Brett Gardner -- .000 (0x9); 0 RBI; 0W; 1K.
Benching A-Rod and Granderson wouldn’t have been a complete joke if Chavez and Gardner had been improvements, but they weren’t.
WHAT THE YANKEES SHOULD DO WITH ALEX RODRIGUEZ
Get rid of him – the sooner the better.
The Yankees almost have to move Alex Rodriguez as quickly as possible. The team’s huge cable TV contract drives the franchise. The Yankees have to be a World Series contender every season in order to get the ratings the network’s sponsors expect.
The Yankees can’t afford to play A-Rod --or anyone else – when they become liabilities on the field. There is no room for sentiment and loyalty here. And forget about moody A-Rod as a reserve. He’d be miserable and so would everyone around him.
If the Yankees brass agrees with me – and I think they do – that A-Rod is shot and unlikely to rebound in 2013 – they should let the other 29 big-league teams know that he’s available in trade or For Sale Cheap. A report Wednesday claimed the Yankees and Miami already have discussed a deal involving A-Rod.
Few – if any -- teams can afford to absorb a big chunk of the remaining five years of A-Rod’s ridiculous contract. I’d ship him to the team offering to pay the most. It wouldn’t be much. The Yankees would need to eat most of his contract. In the long run, assuming the team would be stronger on the field without him, it would be a profitable move.
Which team(s) might be interested?
I don’t believe a contending team would want him at any price. They could find better options at third base or even DH.
A non-contending team might be interested in him as a gate attraction. He was a great player for a long time and he’d sell tickets – at least for a short time—home and away. Miami is a logical destination. He’s a native of Miami and lives there. The Marlins have a tough time drawing fans even with a new stadium.
What happened to A-Rod? He’s 37, he’s off steroids for the first time since who knows when and he’s become more vulnerable to injury (a common trait for aging PE users).
Don’t be shocked if A-Rod has played his last game in pinstripes.
COULD HEISMAN TROPHY BE DECIDED SATURDAY?
Two senior quarterbacks – Geno Smith (West Virginia) and Collin Klein (Kansas State) – are 1-1 in this week’s Heisman Trophy odds (Smith 6x1; Klein 7x1) from BetVega.com
One of them figures to take a comfortable lead in Saturday’s Kansas State (6-0) at West Virginia (5-1) showdown.
Smith has the amazing passing stats (195x260; .753; 2,271 yards; 25 TD passes; 0 INTs) but took a Heisman hit in last week’s windy 49-14 loss at Texas Tech.
Klein isn’t close to Smith in passing stats (70x118; 1,074 yards; 7 TD passes; 2 INTs) but has been much more versatile. He has rushed 98 times for 510 net yards and 10 TDs. He has the advantage of being on an undefeated team.
The other Heisman favorites entering Saturday: Johnny Maziel (Texas A&M) 12x1…DeAnthony Thomas (Oregon) 12x1…Manti Teo (Notre Dame) 18x1…Marcus Lattimore (South Carolina) 20x1…E.J. Manuel (Florida State) 25x1…A.J. McCarron (Alabama) 30x1…Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville), Aaron Murray (Georgia) 30x1.
SYRACUSE’S PASSING VS. CONNECTICUT’S DEFENSE
Syracuse (2-4) is favored by points Friday night against Connecticut (3-4) at the Carrier. It will be rare prime-time exposure for Doug Marrone’s Orange. I don’t know if that’s good or bad. SU hasn’t generated much excitement this football fall. Maybe a heavier dose of former Rush-Henrietta star Ashton Broyld would help.
Here’s how SU and UConn measure up among the 120 FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision teams):
Total offense – SU T39th (445.50 yards per game)…UConn 107th (320.57)
Rush offense – SU 92nd (127.50)…UConn 111th (100.14)
Pass offense – SU 13th (318.00)…UConn 73rd (220.43)
Scoring offense – SU 94th (22.83 points per game)…UConn 109th (19.00)
Total defense – SU 28th (335.50)…UConn 6th (261.00)
Rush Defense – SU 46th (136.17)…UConn 13th (99.43)
Pass defense – SU 27th (199.33)…UConn 8th (161.57)
Scoring defense – SU 59th (25.67)…UConn 16th (16.29)
Sacks by per game – SU 38th (2.33)…UConn T14th (3.00)
Sacks allowed per game – SU 63rd (1.83)…UConn 102nd (2.86).
The bottom line: The Huskies haven’t run the ball well and give up more than their share of sacks, but they have a stingy defense…SU is more explosive offensively and underrated on defense…SU has the home-field advantage, assuming there is a decent crowd…My pick: Syracuse 28, Connectic ut 20.
AFC EAST IS NO LONGER A BEAST
The four AFC East teams enter Week 7 with identical 3-3 records. The key numbers suggest that New England has been by far the best of the four teams. Offense makes the Patriots an above average NFL team. The three other teams in the division are below average overall.
Here’s how the four AFC East teams measure up (ranking in the 32-team NFL in parentheses):
Total offense – New England 445.3 yards per game (1)…Buffalo 343.5 (21)…Miami 343.2 (22)…Jets 295.5 (30)
Rush offense – New England 152.3 (4)…Buffalo 147.7 (5)…Miami 116.2 (12)…Jets 111.2 (15)
Pass offense – New England 293.0 (3)…Buffalo 227.0 (21)…Miami 195.8 (195.8)…Jets 184.3 (30)
Scoring offense – New England 31.3 (1)…Buffalo 22.8 (18)…Jets 22.2 (20)…Miami 20.0 (T21)
Total defense – Jets 359.8 yards allowed per game (18)…Miami 363.0 (T19)…New England 371.5 (22)…Buffalo 429.8 (31)
Rush defense – Miami 78.2 (5)…New England 82.7 (6)…Jets 150.5 (28)…Buffalo 173.5 (32)
Pass defense – Jets 209.3 (5)…Buffalo 256.3 (20)…Miami 284.8 (27)…New England 288.8 (28)
Scoring defense – Miami 19.5 (T9)…New England 22.8 (T15)…Jets 23.5 (19)…Buffalo 32.0 (31).
STATS AND FACTS
Here are the World Series records for the four teams that reached the two 2012 league championship series:
New York Yankees – 40 appearances…won 27 times and lost 13 times…225 games; 134-90-1 record
St. Louis Cardinals – 18 appearances…won 11 times and lost 7 times…112 games; 56-56 record
New York/San Francisco Giants – 18 appearances…won 6 times, lost 12 times…105 games; 49-54-2 record
Detroit Tigers – 10 appearances…won 4 times…lost 6 times…61 games; 27-33-1 record.
--Some of the worst numbers for the Buffalo Bills (3-3 record) entering Week 7:
Points – Bills 137…opponents 192
Total offensive yards – Bills 2061…opponents 2579
Total offensive yards per game – Bills 343.5…opponents 429.8
Rush yards/yards per rush – Bills 886/5.1 (good)…opponents 1041/5.8 (awful defense by Bills)
Passing yards/yards per attempt – 1175/6.39…opponents 1538/7.36
Comp/att/INTS – Bills 106/184/9…opponents 126/209/6
Sacks by – Bills 15…opponents 7
Total first down – Bills 102…opponents 145
3rd-down conversions – Bills 29x73 (.397)…opponents 34x77 (.442)
Touchdowns – Bills 16…opponents 24
FGM/FGA – Bills 3x3…opponents 8x11
Takeaways/points off takeaways – Bills 11/17…opponents 15/60
Time of possession – Bills 29:13…opponents 31:25.
It doesn’t bother me that Lance Armstrong probably used performance-enhancing drugs and/or blood doping to win the Tour de France seven times. He still was a great athlete and the best cyclist of his generation. The vast majority of the cyclists on his team and other teams were doing the same thing in the dirtiest pro sport of them all. But I don’t like being lied to over-and-over again. I hope he opens up and gives us the true story soon. I’d even buy his tell-all book.
Buffalo’s home game Sunday against Tennessee is the perfect time for Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to shine. No excuses. The Titans have one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL. They’ve allowed opposing QBs to post a cumulative league-high 107.9 passer rating this season....Buffalo has a 943.5 opposing passing rating.
I suggested on air this week that Buffalo’s C.J. Spiller has a chance to be the NFL’s best running back. At least one listener couldn’t believe what I said. But I was serious. Spiller currently ranks 10th in yards rushing (453) and 1st in yards per carry (7.6). The next-best per carry for RBs in 5.5 by San Francisco’s Kendall Hunter. Spiller also a dangerous receiver. He’s a threat to bust a big play whenever he touches the ball. If he stays healthy (he has proved he isn’t fragile) and coach Chan Gailey finds ways to get him 25-plus touches per game, I see no reason why Spiller can’t lead the league in yards from scrimmage – if not this season, in a future season(s). Is that such a stretch?