BOB’S UNOFFICIAL NFL 2017 TANK PRIMER

The way I see it, four teams will enter this season as the favorites to finish with the league’s worst record and “earn” the No. 1 overall pick in the quarterback-loaded 2018 college draft: New York Jets, Cleveland Browns, San Francisco 49ers and the late entry – the Buffalo Bills.

Last season’s records – Cleveland 1-15, outscored 264-452 (-188)...San Francisco 2-14, outscored 309-480 (-171)...Jets 5-11, outscored 275-409 (-134)...Buffalo 7-9, outscored opponents 399-378 (+21).

Why are the Bills included despite being relatively proficient last season? Because the new regime has cleaned house and the roster is in full-makeover mode. That’s probably a plus but it figures to take some time to become a genuine playoff contender. Drafting a “franchise” quarterback would be a huge plus. You get to do that by being bad.

2017 strength of schedule – Buffalo fifth-toughest; .561 (opponents were 143.5-112.5 last season)...Jets t8th; .535 (137-119)...San Francisco 20th; .475 (121.5-134.5)...Cleveland t21st (120-136).

Quarterback depth charts:

Cleveland – rookie DeShone Kizer...Brock Osweiler...Cody Kessler...Kevin Hogan

Jets – Josh McCown...Bryce Petty...Christian Hackenberg

San Francisco – Brian Hoyer...rookie C.J. Beathard...Matt Barkley...rookie Nick Mullens

Buffalo – Tyrod Taylor...rookie Nathan Peterman...T.J. Yates.

2016 rankings in total offense/defense:

Cleveland 30th (311.0 yards per game...31st (392.4 yards allowed per game)

Jets – 26th (329.3)...11th (342.4)

San Francisco – 31st (308.1)...32nd (406.4)

Buffalo – 16th (354.1)...19th (357.0).

 The main reasons they’re lousy:

Cleveland – trying to rebuild through the draft (for example, the Browns now have 18 picks in the 2018 draft and are trying to get more)...have unloaded proven players for picks.

Jets – a really awful offense.

San Francisco – a terrible defense (and the offense isn’t too hot, either).

Buffalo – new offensive scheme...lots of new players...proven talent has been traded away.

Why they might surprise and win more than three games –

Cleveland – There is a slim chance that the young talent will collectively come around ahead of schedule.

Jets – The defense isn’t bad and might steal a few low-scoring games.

San Francisco – Relatively soft schedule. That’s about it.

Buffalo – Good coaching, we hope...RB LeSean McCoy if he doesn’t get hurt or frustrated...good defensive line, especially if Marcell Dareus decides to make playing good football a priority.

Key games (the ones they can’t afford to win if they hope to win the Tank Trophy (top QB in the 2018 draft): Jets at Buffalo Sept. 10; home vs, Jacksonville Oct. 1; at Cleveland Oct. 8; home vs. Buffalo Nov. 2....Cleveland home vs. Jets Oct. 8; home vs, Jacksonville Nov. 9; at Chicago Dec. 24... San Francisco at Chicago Dec. 8; home vs. Jacksonville Dec. 24...Buffalo home vs.; Jets Sept. 10; at Jets Nov. 2.

My forecast – Jets 2-14...Cleveland 3-13...San Francisco 3-13...Buffalo 4-12. Cache of plum draft picks as trade bait gives Buffalo a shot at the No. 1 overall draft pick.

RED WINGS COULD WIN THE GOVERNORS’ CUP AT FRONTIER FIELD

If the Red Wings earn the wild-card playoff berth for the four-team International League Governors’ Cup playoffs, they’d play the first two games of the best-of-five first-round series against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in Rochester. The rest of the series would be in Moosic, Pa.

If the Red Wings advance to the Governors’ Cup Finals, the first two games would be at either Durham or Indianapolis and the rest of the best-of-five series would be at Frontier Field.

If Rochester wins its 11th Governors’ Cup, the Triple-A Championship Game would be September 19 in Moosic, Pa.

Since the Governors’ Cup began in 1933, Rochester is tied with Columbus for the most titles (10 each) and has the most losses in the Finals (11).

Two of Rochester’s 10 titles came after they finished fourth in the regular season:

1955 – Red Wings were 76-77 in the regular season (their first losing season since 1946)...upset first-place Montreal (95-59 record) 4-1 in the first round and second-place Toronto (94-59) 4-0 in the Finals. They lost the Junior World Series 4-3 to the Minneapolis Millers.

1964 – Red Wings were 82-72 in the regular season...upset first-place Jacksonville (89-62) 4-0 in the first round and second-place Syracuse 4-2 in the Finals.

The Gildan Triple-A Baseball national Championship Game between the champions of the IL and Pacific Coast League will be September 19 in Moosic, Pa. The game will be televised on NBCSN.

A NOSTALGIC TRIP DOWN RED WINGS ALL-STAR LANE

Congratulations to Rochester Red Wings catcher Mitch Garver and center fielder Zack Granite for making the Postseason International League All-Star Team.

Here are Rochester’s Postseason International League All-Star selections since World War II:

Catchers (2)– Johnny Bucha (1951)...Jose Morales (2007).

First basemen (10) – Rocky Nelson (1948)...Steve Bilko (1949)...Don Bollweg (1950)...Mike Epstein (1966)...Terry Crowley (1977)...Tom Chism (1979)...David Segui (1990)...Calvin Pickering (2001)...Chris Colabello (2013)...Reynaldo Rodriguez (2015).

Second basemen (6 players a total of 7 times) – Lou Ortiz (1953 and 1954)...Rob Andrews (1974)...Rich Dauer (1976)...Steve Scarsone (1992)...Tommy Hinzo (1993)...James Beresford (2015).

Shortstops (8) – Eddie Kasko (1956)...Mark Belanger (1966)...Bobby Grich (1971)...Tim Nordbrook (1974)...Bob Bailor (1975)...Bobby Bonner (1980)...Kelly Paris (1985)...Clay Bellinger (1996).

Third basemen (10 a total of 14 times) – Don Richmond (1950 and 1952)...Billy Harrell (1960)...Steve Demeter (1966 and 1967)...Mike Ferraro (1969 and 1970)...Tom Matchick (1972)...Doug DeCinces (1973 and 1974)...Cal Ripken Jr. (1981)...Craig Worthington (1988)...Leo Gomez (1990)...Jeff Manto (1994).

Outfielders (25 a total of 27 times) – Russ Derry (1949 and 1950)...Harry Walker (1952)...Tom Burgess (1953)...Bill Virdon (1954)...Jackie Brandt (1955)...Charlie James (1959)...Boog Powell (1961)...Pete Ward (1962)...Curt Motton (1967)...Merv Rettenmund (1968)...Terry Crowley (1969)...Don Baylor (1970 and 1971)...Roger Freed (1970)...Al Bumbry (1972)...Jim Fuller (1973)...Royle Stillman (1975)...Larry Harlow (1977)...John Shelby (1982)...Steve Finley (1988)...Butch Davis (1989)...Luis Mercedes (1991)...Sherman Obando (1994)...Mark Smith (1995)...Danny Clyburn (1997)...Jason Kubel (2004).

Pitchers (10) – Tom Poholsky (1950)...Jack Faszholz (1954)...Dave Leonhard (1967)...Roric Harrison (1971)...Bill Kirkpatrick (1974)...Mike Flanagan (1975)...Scott McGregor (1976)...Dennis Martinez (1976)...Mike Mussina (1991)...Kevin Slowey (2007).

Relief pitchers, award began in 1978 (2) -- Travis Bowyer (2005)...Pat Neshek (2006).

Designated hitters, award began in 1978 (3) – John Valle (1980)...Chris Hoiles (1990)...Willis Otanez (1998).

Utility player, award began in 1997 – None yet.

SHORT SHOTS

Another big difference between playing for the Buffalo Bills and the New England Patriots: Pats cornerback Stephon Gilmore was 6th in this week’s ESPN survey of the NFL’s 100 Best Players. Had he still been with Buffalo, you can be sure he would not have made the 100-man list.

The Rochester Knighthawks will have a new team to play against. San Diego will be joining Major League Lacrosse for the 2019 indoor season. Millionaire Joe Tsai reportedly paid around $5 million for the expansion franchise. 

The Albany Patroons are the third team to sign on for the North American Premier League’s inaugural 2018 basketball season, joining Rochester and Seattle. The season will start January 1, 2018 and run through late April.

John Davila Jr. appears headed for yet another jockeys’ title at Finger Lakes Race Track. Entering Saturday, he has 103 wins out of 296 mounts this season. The next-most victories: Luis Perez (55), Joshua Navarro (48) and Alexis Valdes (38)...Familiar names are atop the trainers’ standings, too: Jeremiah Englehart (has saddled 68 winners) and father Chris Englehart (64). Daniel Conway is third (35).

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO...

Friday, September 1

Gustav Nyquist (28)...Miles Plumlee (29)...Calais Campbell (31)...Leodis McKelvin (32)...Clinton Portis (36)...Aaron Schobel (40)...Jason Taylor (43)...Zach Thomas (44)...Tim Hardaway (51)...Hardy Nickerson (52)...Brian Bellows (53)...Karl Mecklenburg (57)...ESPN’s Kenny Mayne (58)...Vinnie Johnson (61)...Ben Williams (63). Lily Tomlin (78) is invited to the birthday party...On this date 11 years ago (2006), Roger Goodell became NFL Commissioner.

Saturday, September 2

Brandon Ingram (20)...Ronald Torreyes (25)...Marcus/Markieff Morris (28)...J.J. Hickson (29)...Demetrius Nichols (33)...Jason Hammel (35)...Rich Aurelia (36)...Brian Westbrook (38)...Jason Blake (44)...Tommy Maddox (46)...Lenox Lewis (52)...Gerard Gallant (54)...Eric Dickerson (57)...Rex Hudler (57)...Joe Danelo (64)...Nate Snell (65)...Terry Bradshaw (69)...Tiny Archibald (69)...Glenn Sather (74)...John Thompson (76). Keana Reeves (53) and Mark Harmon (66) are invited to the birthday party.

Sunday, September 3

Myles Jack (22)...James Neal (30)...Brandon Spikes (30)...Shaun White (31)...Casey Hampton (40)...Damon Stoudamire (41)...Jevon Krearse (41)...Reynaldo Wynn (43)...Martin Strada (45)...Keith Traylor (48)...Luis Gonzalez (50)...Bennie Blades (51)...Ernest Givins (53)...Gerry Meehan (70). Jennie Finch (37) and Charlie Sheen (52) are invited to the birthday party....On this date 89 years ago (1928), Ty Cobb got his 4,191st and final career hit.

Monday, September 4

Aaron Slegers (25)...Andrelton Simmons (28)...Adam Duvall (29)...Pat Neshek (37)...Maxim Afinogenov (38)...John Thierry (46)...Mike Piazza (49)...Tomas Sandstrom (53)...John Vanbiesbrouck (54)...Doyle Alexander (67)...Tom Watson (68)...Raymond Floyd (75)...Ken Harrelson (76). Beyonce Knowles (36) and Damon Wayans (57) are invited to the birthday party. On this date 76 years ago (1941), the New York Yankees clinched the earliest AL pennant. On this date 51 years ago (1966), the Houston Oilers held the Denver Broncos to zero first downs in a 45-7 victory.

NOTE: Have a great Labor Day weekend...My next column will appear in this space Wednesday, September 6. Thank you for listening and for reading.