HOW MANY CARRIES SHOULD LeSEAN McCOY GET?

In a perfect football world, LeSean McCoy would have 25-to-30 carries for the Buffalo Bills every Sunday. And throw in four or five catches per game.

McCoy obviously is by far Buffalo’s best offensive weapon but the Bills must carefully monitor his workload if they hope to keep him healthy for the entire season.

McCoy’s busiest NFL season was 2013 with the Philadelphia Eagles: 314 carries for 1,607 yards + 52 catches for 539 yards. That was 366 touches for 2,146 yards and 11 TDs in 16 games.

In 2014, he had 312 carries for 1,319 yards + 28 catches for 155 yards. That was 340 touches for 1,574 yards and 5 TDs in 16 games.

In 2016, with Buffalo, McCoy had 234 carries for 1,267 yards (a career-best 5.4 yards per carry) and 50 catches for 356 yards. That was 284 touches for 1,623 yards and 14 TDs in 15 games.

For the record, the Bills have had six total individual 325-or-more carries in as season:

1—Thurman Thomas 355 carries + 48 catches (403 touches) in 1993

2—O.J. Simpson 332 carries + 6 catches (338 touches) in 1973 (14 games)

3—Travis Henry 331 carries +28 catches (359 touches) in 2003

4—O.J. Simpson 329 carries + 28 catches (357 touches) in 1975 (14 games)

5—Travis Henry 325 carries + 43 catches (368 touches) n 2002

6—Willis McGahee 325 carries + 28 catches (353 touches) in 2005.

The NFL record for carries in one season is 416 (for 1,798 yards and 17 rushing TDs) for Kansas City in 2006. He also had 41 catches for 410 yards and 2 TDs. He had 457 touches for 2,199 yards and 19 TDs in 16 games. He was 27 years old and it was his last 1,000-yard rushing season.

I’d like to see the 29-year-old McCoy get around 300 touches this season. Anything more and the Bills would be pressing their luck.

IS NOLAN ARENADO THE NATIONAL LEAGUE’S MVP?

Colorado Rockies slugging third baseman Nolan Arenado is making a strong case for National League Most Valuable player.

Entering Wednesday, he was hitting .309 with 42 doubles, 7 triples, 33 HRs and 123 RBI. He had a .960 OPS (on-base percentage + slugging percentage).

He’s also an excellent defensive third baseman. He won a Gold Glove in each of his four major-league seasons and figures to make it five-for-five.

Arenado was selected in the 2009 baseball amateur draft out of high school. He was the 59th overall pick. Players chosen ahead of him included pitcher Stephen Strasburg (No. 1 overall by Washington), outfielder Dustin Ackley (No. 2 by Seattle), pitcher Matt Hobgood (No. 5 by Baltimore), pitcher Kyle Gibson (No. 22 by Minnesota) and Mike Trout (No. 25 by the Angels).

Arenado, 26, could become the fist player in Major League history to lead his league with at least 130 RBI in three consecutive seasons: 130 in 2015, 133 in 2016 and 123 and counting in 2017.

With 2 ½ weeks and about 20 games remaining in the regular season, here are my NL MVP contenders in order of preference: Arenado...teammate Charlie Blackmon...Giancarlo Stanton (54 HRS and 133 RBI must be respected)...Paul Goldschmidt...Joey Votto (great player on a poor Cincinnati team)...Corey Seager (he was sidelined for a portion of the Dodgers’ recent slide).

SUMMING UP NFL WEEK 1

Week 1 of the 2017 NFL season was relatively low scoring (40.4 points per game) and didn’t produce many close games (2 of 15 games decided by 3 points or less and 3 of 15 games decide by a TD or less).

Road teams were 8-7 outright and 7-7 -1 against the Las Vegas point spread (ATS).

Las Vegas favorites were 10-5 straight up and 8-9-1 ATS.

Teams scoring first were 10-5. Teams leading at halftime were 11-3 and teams leading after three quarters were 13-2.

Teams winning the turnover battle were 7-2. Teams leading in time of possession were 14-1.

Teams with the most rushing yards were 10-5 and teams with the most passing yards were 12-3.

INDIANS LAST 20 GAMES: 20-0 RECORD; 39 HRs; RUN DIFFERENTIAL (+10; 134-32)

The Cleveland Indians entered Wednesday afternoon’s home game against Detroit with 20 consecutive victories – tying the American League record held by the 2002 Oakland Athletics of Moneyball movie fame.

During their amazing run, the Indians outscored opponents 134-32 (+102). They had more home runs (39) than opponents had runs. That’s ridiculous.

The Indians improved their record from 79-56 to 89-56 and are closing in on the struggling Los Angeles Dodgers (93-52) for the best record in Major League Baseball.

Cleveland’s Corey Kluber blanked Detroit 2-0 Tuesday night and has replaced Chris Sale (Boston) as the frontrunner for the American League Cy Young Award:

Records – Kluber 16-4...Sale 16-7

Earned-run average – Kluber 2.44...Sale 2.76

Innings – Sale195.2...Kluber 184.2

Hits allowed – Kluber 126...Sale 147

Walks – Kluber 34...Sale 38

Strikeouts – Sale 278...Kluber 243

WHIP (walk+hits allowed per inning) – Kluber 0.87...Sale 0.95

Opposing batting average – Kluber .191...Sale .203.

SALUTING THE 1977 ROCHESTER LANCERS

Forgive me for belatedly recognizing the 40th anniversary of the 1977 Rochester Lancers and the most exciting two weeks in the team’s North American Soccer League history.

On August 21, 1977, the Lancers and the Cosmos (they dropped “New York” that season) met in a two-game playoff series for the Atlantic Conference title.

The Cosmos were huge favorites. They were loaded with big-name players, including Pele, Franz Beckenbauer, Giorgio Chinaglia, Vito Dimitrijevic, Werner Roth, Carlos Alberto, Steve Hunt and Shep Messing. They were a somewhat disappointing 15-11 in the regular season (outscored opponents 60-39).

The Lancers were 11-15 and outscored by opponents 41-34. Rochester was 10-3 at home (Beckenbauer compared Holleder Stadium’s field to a cow pasture and said it would be a good place to grow potatoes) but a pitiful 1-12 on the road. Coach Dragan Popovic’s famed (and feared) “offsides trap” worked to perfection at home but the zebras usually weren’t as generous in road games.

The Lancers reached the conference finals with an exciting two-game sweep over the favored Toronto Metros-Croatia in the division playoffs.  Rochester won Game 1 in a 3-2 shootout before 10,556 fans August 13 and then won Game 2 in Toronto 1-0 before 8,062 mostly hostile fans August 16.

The Lancers hosted the Cosmos in Game 1 of the conference finals August 21. It was a nationally televised match and the Cosmos won 2-1 in a hotly-contested match before 20,005 fans – believed to be the largest home crowd ever to watch a Rochester pro sports team.

Three days later, August 24, the Cosmos crushed the Lancers 4-1 before 73,669 fans at Giants Stadium. It was by far the largest crowd ever to watch a Rochester pro sports team.

The Lancers folded after the 1980 season. The NASL folded after the 1984 season.

 HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO...

Wednesday, September 13

A.J. McCarron (27)...Sean Williams (31)...Nene (35)...Daisuke Matsuzaka (37)...Jose Theodore (44)...Ted Drury (46)...Bernie Williams (49)...Brad Johnson (49)...sprinter Michael Johnson (50)...Rick Dempsey (68).

Thursday, September 14

Deshaun Watson (22)...Gregory Polanco (26)...Chance Warmack (26)....Jimmy Butler (28)...Michael Crabtree (30)...Delman Young (32)....Terrell Fletcher (44)...Kurt Gouveia (53)...Cedric Mack (57)...Tim Wallach (60)...Larry Brown (77)...Harry Sinden (85).