Email Bob here.
Call the show:
Phone Local: (585) 222-1180
Phone Toll-Free: (800) 295-1180
Verizon Wireless: *1180
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” KICKS OFF ANOTHER NFL SEASON WITH PATRIOTS (-10) OVER BILLS
BOB’S AFC PREVIEW PROJECTS ONLY SIX TEAMS ABOVE .500
SUPER BOWL 48 PICK: DENVER OVER SAN FRANCISCO
WHAT IS THE TRIPLE-A CHAMPIONSHIP GAME?
MANN CUP ROSTERS STACKED WITH KNIGHTHAWKS
Honest. I tried to be upbeat on the 2014 Buffalo Bills. But then the injuries hit, including the season-ending concussion to Kevin Kolb, the team’s only veteran quarterback. Now the two best defensive backs are out hurting.
I hate to kick off another season of NFL “Best Bets” by picking on the Bills, but I can’t help myself. The quarterback matchup of Tom Brady vs. rookie EJ Manuel figures to be a mismatch, particularly with Brady throwing against a secondary minus Stephon Gilmore and perhaps Jairus Byrd .
The 10-point underdog Bills will be playing at home on Sunday but that won’t be much help in this spot. The “Best Bet” is New England 35, BUFFALO 7.
Thursday night’s pick was DENVER (-8) 35, Baltimore 30. I figured the 7 1/2-point spot to the defending champion Ravens was too generous. That thought held up for the first half (Baltimore led 17-14). Then Peyton Manning got hot and the Broncos won the second half 35-10 and the game 49-27...1-0 outright; 0-1 against the spread.
Sunday’s other games
(home teams in CAPS)
Cincinnati 27, CHICAGO (-3) 20 – The Bears plan to open up their offense under new coach Marc Trestman but Cincinnati’s much-improved defense will be a tough test.
Miami 23, CLEVELAND (-1) 17 – The Browns are 1-13 in Week 1 games since returning to the NFL in 1999. That trend should continue as Ryan Tannehill takes advantage of a weak secondary.
Seattle 28, CAROLINA (+3 1/2) 20 – The Seahawks won’t be at full strength on defense but have enough firepower to outscore a Panthers offense that struggled in the preseason.
INDIANAPOLIS (-10) 27, Oakland 13 – The big difference is at quarterback. Andrew Luck figures to get even better for the Colts. The Raiders are crossing their fingers with Terrelle Pryor.
DETROIT (-5 1/2) 31, Minnesota 20 – The Vikings have RB Adrian Peterson but the Lions have even more firepower with Matt Stafford, Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush.
PITTSBURGH (-7) 23, Tennessee 10 – The Steelers no longer are a powerhouse, but they’re still tough against the run, Tennessee’s strength offensively.
NEW ORLEANS (-3) 33, Atlanta 27 – The Superdome will be rocking with the return of coach Sean Payton’s from last year’s suspension and the debut of fiery new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.
Kansas City 27, JACKSONVILLE (+4) 13 – Both teams were 2-14 last season, but the Chiefs underachieved and have a much better chance for a dramatic turnaround.
Tampa Bay 20, NEW YORK JETS (+3) 10 – The Jets are underdogs in their home opener. They should be. Tampa Bay’s Josh Freeman is inconsistent, but that means he’s sometimes good and a far better bet than New York’s Geno Smith or Mark Sanchez.
ST. LOUIS (-4 ½) 23, Arizona 14 – The underrated Rams were 2-1-1 vs. Seattle and San Francisco last season and have high hopes for this season. They can’t afford a deflating loss in their home opener.
SAN FRANCISCO (-4 ½) 30, Green Bay 24 – The Packers will be out to avenge last season’s playoff loss, but I still give the edge to San Francisco’s overall talent.
DALLAS (-3 ) 27, New York Giants 20 – The Cowboys have lost all four matchups at AT&T Stadium so they’re due. And Tony Romo figures to feast on a shaky pass defense.
Monday night’s games
WASHINGTON (- 3 ½) 28, Philadelphia 17 – I’m counting on Robert Griffin III playing the entire game. I’m not sold on Michael Vick at this stage of his career being an effective trigger man for Eagles new coach Chip Kelly’s amped-up offense.
Houston 35, SAN DIEGO (+4) 24 – Getting rid of coach Norv Turner won’t hurt but he wasn’t the only reason the Chargers have underachieved lately. At least they won’t be overrated this season.
BOB’S AFC FORECAST: PATS, BENGALS, TEXANS, BRONCOS DIVISION WINNERS
The AFC has a few teams good enough to win Super Bowl 48, including New England, Cincinnati, Houston and Denver, but it also has more lousy teams than the NFC. I project a -16 for the AFC in interleague play this season.
New England Patriots 11-5 record – This will be the team to beat in an otherwise weak division as long as coach Bill Belichick and QB Tom Brady are on top of their games.
Miami Dolphins 7-9 record – Tough to see the Dolphins minus OLT Jake Long and multi-threat Reggie Bush seriously challenging New England.
Buffalo Bills 5-11 record – Yet another “wait until next year” season for the Bills. The number of quality players is growing, but injuries, lack of experience at quarterback and overall lack of depth dooms this team to a 14th straight playoff-less season.
New York Jets 3-13 record – The defense is OK but a weak offense figures to cost coach Rex Ryan his job.
Cincinnati Bengals 11-5 record – This is the season the talented Bengals should win at least one playoff game and probably more.
Baltimore Ravens 10-6 record – The revamped defense eventually could be even better than last season (it sure wasn’t Thursday night) but the passing game figures to slip a bit.
Pittsburgh Steelers 9-7 record – The Steelers no longer are a powerhouse but I can’t see coach Mike Tomlin and QB Ben Roethlisberger finishing last in the division.
Cleveland Browns 7-9 record – The defense and running game are playoff-caliber. The passing game probably is not.
Houston Texans 10-6 record – An otherwise solid team waits for QB Matt Schaub to step up.
Indianapolis Colts 9-7 record – QB Andrew Luck will continue to improve. Pass protection and rush defense might not.
Tennessee Titans 7-9 record – RB Chad Johnson should have a huge season with newcomers Andy Levitre and Chance Warmack paving the way. Need more from QB Jake Locker.
Jacksonville Jaguars 3-12 – Not much to like besides RB Maurice Jones-Drew. Lack nearly everything else, including fans.
Denver Broncos 12-4 record – Awesome potential on offense. QB Peyton Manning a prominent league MVP contender. Pass rush could struggle early minus Elvis Dumervill (signed as a free agent by Baltimore) and Von Miller (suspended for the first six games).
Kansas City Chiefs 8-8 record – They have the talent to go from 2-14 to at least 8-8 under new coach Andy Reid. QB Alex Smith has a lot to prove and the ability and supporting cast to do it.
San Diego Chargers 5-11 – Rated a sleeper by many observers. I don’t see it unless QB Philip Rivers lifts his game several notches. That seems unlikely.
Oakland Raiders 3-13 record – Lousy drafting and QB flops Terrelle Pryor and Matt Flynn give the Raiders a chance to be the NFL’s worst team this season.
Playoff teams –NFC: division winners Washington, Green Bay, New Orleans and San Francisco; wild-cards Seattle and New York Giants... -AFC: division winners New England, Cincinnati, Houston and Denver; wild-cards Baltimore and Indianapolis.
Conference championship games: NFC San Francisco over New Orleans; AFC Denver over Cincinnati.
Super Bowl 48: Denver 33, San Francisco 27.
MVP – Peyton Manning, Denver
Coach of the Year – Sean Payton, New Orleans.
WHAT IS THE TRIPLE-A NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME?
The Red Wings and the seven other teams participating in the Triple-A playoffs are playing for the Gilden Triple-A National Championship. The one-game showdown between the International League and Pacific Coast League playoff champions will be Tuesday, Sept. 17, at Coca-Cola Park, home of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, in Allentown, Pa.
The game will be shown live nationwide on the NBC Sports Network beginning at 7 p.m.
Here are the winners since the event began in 2006:
2006 – Tucson (PCL) 5, Toledo (IL) 2...at Oklahoma City
2007 – Sacramento (PCL) 5, Richmond (IL) 1...at Oklahoma City
2008 – Sacramento (PCL) 4, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (IL) 1...at Oklahoma City
2009 – Durham (IL) 9, Memphis (PCL) 4...at Durham
2010 – Columbus (IL) 12, Tacoma (PCL) 6...at Oklahoma City
2011 – Columbus (IL) 9 ...Omaha (PCL) 3...at Albuquerque
2012 – Reno (PCL) 10, Pawtucket (IL) 3....at Durham
The PCL leads 4-3.
BILLS 150x1 ODDS TO WIN SUPER BOWL 48
Here are Bovada.com’s latest odds on winning Super Bowl 48:
6x1 – Denver and San Francisco
17x2 – Seattle
10x1 – New England
12x1 – Atlanta, Green Bay
16x1 – Houston
18x1 – New Orleans
25x1 – Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas and NY Giants
28x1 – Baltimore and Pittsburgh
33x1 – Washington
40x1 – Detroit, Indianapolis, Miami, Minnesota and St. Louis
50x1 – Kansas City, Philadelphia, San Diego and Tampa Bay
66x1 – Carolina
125x1 – Arizona and NY Jets
150x1 – Buffalo, Cleveland and Tennessee
250x1 – Oakland
300x1 – Jacksonville
BILLS 30th IN ESPN POWER RANKINGS
Here are the ESPN NFL Power Rankings entering Week 1: Seattle...Atlanta...San Francisco...Denver...Green Bay...New England... Houston... Baltimore... Cincinnati... Washington... Indianapolis... NY Giants... New Orleans... Chicago...St. Louis... Pittsburgh... Minnesota... Dallas... Kansas City... Miami... Detroit... Tampa Bay... Carolina...San Diego... Philadelphia... Arizona... Tennessee... Cleveland... Jacksonville... Buffalo... Oakland... NY Jets.
KNIGHTHAWKS TALENT ON DISPLAY IN MANN CUP
The Rochester Knighthawks will be trying to become the first team in National Lacrosse League history to win three straight league championships.
The Mann Cup, Canada’s summer Senior A indoor lacrosse championship, begins tonight – the Six Nations Chiefs vs. the Victoria Shamrocks. The entire best-of-seven series will be played at Bear Mountain Arena in Victoria, BC.
Another indication of how strong the Knighthawks are: Nine players in the Mann Cup finals play for Rochester in the winter:
Six Nations – Cody Jamieson, Craig Point, Johnny Powless, Stephen Keogh, Sid Smith, Ian Llord
Victoria – Matt Vinc, Tyler Burton, Dylan Evans.
WORST IN MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL
Entering Thursday, here were some of Major League Baseball’s worst performers this season:
Most times struck out – Chris Carter (Houston) 184
Lowest batting average – Dan Uggla (Atlanta) .184
Most times hit by pitch – Shin-Soo Choo (Cincinnati) 23
Most grounded into double plays – Matt Holliday (St. Louis) 28
Most errors – Pedro Alvarez (Pittsburgh) 26
Most losses – Edwin Jackson (Cubs) 15...Lucas Harrell (Houston) 15
Most blown saves – Jim Johnson (Baltimore)
Most wild pitches – Trevor Cahill (Arizona) 16
Home runs allowed – A.J. Griffin (Oakland) 33
Most batters hit by pitch – Justin Masterson (Cleveland) 16...Doug Fister (Detroit) 16
Lowest team batting average (.231), fewest runs 448), fewest HRs (82) – Miami
Worst team earned-run average – Houston 4.86
Highest batting average against – Minnesota .276
A record nine African-American quarterbacks are scheduled to start NFL Week 1. Judging by the stellar QBs in the college ranks (including Teddy Bridgewater, Tajh Boyd and Jameis Winston), that record doesn’t figure to last long.
Peyton Manning (Denver) reportedly is throwing better this season than he did last year coming off neck surgery. He already has a record four NFL MVP awards and has to be the early MVP favorite for 2013 coming off Thursday night’s performance (7 TD passes; 27x42 for 462 yards; 141.1 passer rating) in a 49-27 romp over visiting Baltimore.
The Red Wings ranked 10th in the 14-team International League in home attendance for the 2013 regular season: 420,751 paid; 6,098 per game...The Columbus Clippers were tops: 635,613 (9,212 per game).
If the Pittsburgh Pirates win the National League Central, my hunch is that Andrew McCutchen will be MVP. He’s easily the best player on the team that ended a streak of 20 consecutive losing seasons.
Safety Jim Leonhard spent his first three NFL seasons with Buffalo as an undrafted free agent in 2005. He played plenty of quality football after that for three other teams. Let’s hope he has something left in his second stint with the Bills at age 30.
Don’t overlook pitcher Ricky Nolasco as a major factor in the turnaround of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Since being liberated from the Miami Marlins via a trade June 6, Nolasco is 7-1 with a 2.27 ERA.
Rochester product Cito Culver, a former first-round draft pick of the New York Yankees, finished his 2013 season impressively after being promoted from Single-A Charleston to Advance-A Tampa. In 16 games in the Florida State League, he batted .355 (22x62) with 13 runs, 5 doubles, 1 HR and 5 RBI.
Cheers to “Soccer Sam” Fantauzzo for being named the 2013 Italian Civic League’s Outstanding Citizen Award. Soccer Sam is founder/CEO of the Rochester Lancers indoor soccer team and has been promoting and supporting his favorite sport for almost 35 years in the Rochester area.
WHAM 1180 will be the home for NFL Monday Night Football, Thursday Night Football and Sunday afternoon doubleheaders.