Matthews: NFL Week 2 "Best Bets"


The Arizona Cardinals don’t look like a threat to survive deep into the playoffs this season. Star running back David Johnson will miss a few months after wrist surgery and QB Carson Palmer looked every bit of his 37 years in last week’s 35-23 loss at Detroit.

But Sunday’s opponent -- the punchless Indianapolis Colts-- are in even worse shape. QB Andrew Luck is out indefinitely and sub Scott Tolzien was awful in last week’s 46-9 road loss to the Los Angeles Rams. The Colts averaged 3.1 yards per carry.

This week’s “Best Bet”: Arizona (-7 1/2) 33, INDIANAPOLIS 14.

Sunday’s other games

(home teams in CAPS)

CAROLINA (-7 1/2) 27, Buffalo 13 – Bills coach Sean McDermott was Carolina’s defensive coordinator for the past six years and he knows his former team’s strengths and weaknesses. Buffalo will be fired up but the Panthers are the superior team.

BALTIMORE 20 (-8), Cleveland 17 – The Ravens have only slightly more firepower than the Browns and often play close game. The spot seems too generous.

NEW ENGLAND (-6 ½) 30, New Orleans 20 – Patriots coach Bill Belichick has had 10 days to prepare and QB Tom Brady isn’t likely to struggle two games in a row.

PITTSBURGH (-6) 30, Minnesota 21 -- The Steelers usually pie up the points at home and rookie LB T.J. Watt has fired up the defense.

Philadelphia 24, KANSAS CITY (- 4 ½) 21 – The Chiefs upset New England Week 1 but Eagles QB Carson Wentz is far more mobile than Tom Brady. Kansas City QB Alex Smith and rookie RB Kareem Hunt will have a tough time matching those performances and the season-ending injury to strong safety Eric Berry is a huge loss.

TAMPA BAY (-7) 27, Chicago 17 – The Bears hung tough in a 23-17 loss at Atlanta last week but I’m not sold yet on the team’s defense. The Buccaneers have a legitimately potent offense and should be eager to play in their home opener.

Tennessee (-2) 27, JACKSONVILLE 16 – My hunch is that the Titans will control the game on the ground and they also have a big edge at QB with Marcus Mariota over Blake Bortles.

OAKLAND (-14) 37, New York Jets 10 – I’m not sold on the Raiders as a lock to make the playoffs. But I’m pretty sure the Jets are among the all-time poorest offensive teams in NFL history.

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (-4) 27, Miami 17 – The Chargers should be ready to play in their debut in their new home. The Dolphins were idle last week because of Hurricane Irma and could be rusty. Warning: Miami is 10-3 outright and 9-4 against the spread vs. the Chargers since 1995.

SEATTLE (-13 ½) 28, San Francisco 7 – The Seahawks should be in an ornery mood coming off a season-opening 17-9 loss in Green Bay. Seattle is 10-1-1 ATS in the last 12 meetings.

Washington 24, LOS ANGELES RAMS (-2 ½) 20 – The Rams exploded for 46 points in a home romp over Indianapolis last week. That probably was a fluke. The Redskins are much better than the Colts.

DENVER 20, Dallas (-2) 14 – Denver’s defense is legitimately good, QB Trevor Siemian looked fine in last week’s 24-21 win over the Chargers and the 2-point spot at home is a bonus.

ATLANTA (-2 ½) 35, Green Bay 30 – This should be a high-scoring, fun-to-watch game. I’m taking the home team.

Monday night’s game

NEW YORK GIANTS (-3 ½) 24, Detroit 17 – With or without super wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., the Giants have much to prove and their pride is at stake coming off a woeful 19-3 season-opening loss in Dallas.

Last week’s results: 8-7 picking winning teams outright...5-9-1 picking winners against the Las Vegas point spread...the “Best Bet” is 1-0 straight up and ATS after 5 ½-point favored Carolina beat host San Francisco by 20 points (23-3).


Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenando could become only the eighth player in Major League Baseball history to lead a league in runs-batted-in for three straight seasons.

Entering Thursday, Arenado was leading the National League with 123 RBI and his team had 16 games remaining in the regular season.

Arenado has a chance to become the first slugger ever to lead a league in RBIs three straight seasons with at least 130 RBI each time. He led the NL with 130 RBI in 2015 and 133 RBI in 2016.

The seven players to lead a major league in RBIs three straight times were:

Cap Anson (NL Chicago White Stockings) – 1880 (74 RBI)...1881 (82) and 1882 (83). He also led the NL in 1884 (102), 1885 (108) and 1886 (147)...and in 1888 (84) and 1891 (126). He was pretty good.

Ty Cobb (AL Detroit Tigers) – 1907 (117)...1908 (108) and 1909 (107).

Babe Ruth (AL New York Yankees) – 1919 (114)...1920 (137)...1920 n(171).

Rogers Hornsby (NL St. Louis Cardinals) – 1920 (94)...1921 (126)...1922 (152).

Joe Medwick (NL St. Louis Cardinals) – 1936 (138)...1937 (154)...1938 (122).

George Foster (Cincinnati Reds) – 1976 (121)...1977 (149)...1978 (120).

Cecil Fielder (AL Detroit) – 1990 (132)...1991 (133)...1992 (124).


The legions of Carmelo Anthony fans are upset because ESPN’s annual pre-season ranking of the “NBA’s 100 Greatest Players” has the 33-year-old 14-year pro “only” No. 64.

At this stage of Anthony’s career, I can’t dispute his No. 64 spot in the rankings – although being sandwiched between raw rookie Lonzo Bell (No. 63) and reserve guard Marcus Smart (No. 65) does seem a bit demeaning.

Two other fading former superstars: Pau Gasol is No. 80 and Dirk Nowitzki is No. 97 (probably generous at this late stage of his too-long career). Dwight Howard and Dwyane Wade didn’t even make the top 100.

I believe Anthony is a future Basketball Hall of Famer, partly because he carried Syracuse to the 2003 NCAA championship in his only college season. He also ranks 30th in NBA career scoring.

Carmelo hasn’t come close to winning an NBA title and I don’t see contending teams lining up with trade offers to the New York Knicks.  He is what he is – a prolific streak-shooting scorer who never was regarded as an above average rebounder or defensive player.


The 22-game winning streak of the Cleveland Indians brought the 1916 New York Giants back to life – sort of.

Those 1916 Giants posted the Major League Baseball-record 26-game winning streak. Sort of.

Some people argue that the 1916 Giants don’t deserve the record because they played a tie game between 12 consecutive wins and 14 more wins. But that 1-1 tie game versus Pittsburgh September 18 (called by rain and darkness after 8 ½ innings; the Giants didn’t get to bat in the bottom of the ninth) was made up the very next day as part of a doubleheader. New York swept the Pirates 9-2 and 5-1.

A few interesting notes on that streak: All of the 26 wins were at the Polo Ground during a 31-game homestand September 7 through September 30.  The streak ended with an 8-3 loss to the Boston Braves in the second game of a doubleheader Sept. 30...The Giants outscored opponents 121-32 during the streak...Managed by Hall-of-Famer John McGraw, the team finished fourth in the NL with an 86-66 record.

Top players for the Giants included Benny Knuff, Dave Robertson, Art Fletcher, George Burns, future Rochester stars Fred Merkle and High-Pockets Kelly, plus pitchers Jeff Tesreau, Pol Perritt and Rube Benton.


Philadelphia Phillies rookie slugging sensation Rhys Hoskins hit another home run Thursday night. He has 18 home runs in his first 34 games major-league games since being promoted from the Lehigh Valley Pigs August 10.

Hoskins is making the International League look like a heckuva tough league. His 2017 batting lines:

With the IronPigs – 115 games; .284 batting average(114-for-401); 78 runs; 24 doubles; 4 triples; 29 HRs; 91 RBI; 64 walks; 75 strikeouts; .966 OPS (.385 on-base percentage + .581 slugging percentage).

With the Phillies – 34 games; .314 batting average (37-for-118); 32 runs; 4 doubles; 18 HRs; 39 RBI; 26 walks; 27 strikeouts; 1.247 OPS (.442 on-base percentage + .805 slugging percentage).

Phillies fans must be wondering why it took so long to promote this 24-year-old right-handed slugger.

He now has the MLB record for the quickest to 18HRs (34 games). He broke Gary Sanchez’s 18 HRs in 45 games set way back in 2016.

Here is Hoskins’ batting line against the 2017 Rochester Red Wings: 21 games; .289 batting average (22-for-76); 15 runs; 4 doubles; 1 triple; 6 HRs; 22 RBI; 6 walks; 18 strikeouts.

He had two 2-HR games at Frontier Field: May 18 in a 10-8 loss to the Red Wings and Aug. 2 in a 4-3 win over the Red Wings.

Hoskins was selected IL Most Valuable Player, Rookie of the Year and all-star first baseman. He’ll get some NL Rookie of the Year also-ran votes, too, despite playing less than two months with Philadelphia.


The newest Rochester Amerk is left wing Garret Ross, signed to a one-year AHL contract. He’s 25 and was the 139th pick in the 2012 NHL entry draft. His best season was 2014-15 with the Rockford IceHogs: 21 goals and 22 assists in 69 games.

According to Spotrac, the Minnesota Twins ($138,629,177) and Cleveland Indians ($138,575,884) rank 18th and 19th, respectively, in 2017 MLB total payroll. The top five: LA Dodgers $260,640,523...Yankees $223,321,195...Boston $222,102,008...Toronto $199,421,718...Detroit $198,761,188.

The Buffalo Bills ranked ninth-oldest in average age of the 22 starting players Week 1 at 26.91 years. Arizona was oldest (28.41) and Cleveland was youngest (24.46).

An unofficial survey of listeners to my radio show suggests that most Buffalo Bills fans would not be interested in oft-suspended former Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon.

Firing long-time caddies seems to be a trend on the PGA Tour this year. Jason Day (Colin Swattan) this week joined Phil Mickelson (Jim “Bones” Mackay) and Rory McIlroy (J.P. Fitzgerald)

Here are the latest odds on Saturday night’s middleweight title fight between undefeated Gennady Golovkin an challenger Canelo Alvarez (courtesy of Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook):  Golovkin bet $150 to win $100...Alvarez bet $100 to win $130. The fight is expected to attract 1/3 the legal betting action as last month’s Mayweather-McGregor fight.

The Durham Bulls can wrap up the IL Governors’ Cup playoffs Friday night. They beat the Scranton/Wilkes Barre RailRiders 6-2 Thursday night before a crowd of 2,036 in Moosic, Pa., to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five Finals.  Scranton/Wilkes Barre eliminated Lehigh Valley 3-1 in the first round.

I’m moving Tyrod Taylor up one spot on my NHL quarterback ratings. After watching the Cincinnati Bengals (0-2) lose 13-9 at home to the banged-up Houston Texans Thursday night, I’d take him over Andy Dalton any day.


Friday, September 15

Marshal Yanda (33)..Luck Hochevar (34)....Mike Dunleavy Jr. (37)...Patrick Marleau (38...Jason Terry (40)...Will Shields (46)...Sherman Douglas (51)...Earnest Byner (55)...Dan Marino (56)...Joe Morris (57)...Richard Broudeur (65)...Pete Carroll (66)...Suzyn Waldman (69)....Jerry Korab (69)...Gaylord Perry (79). Tommy Lee Jones is invited to the birthday party.

Saturday, September 16

Robbie Grossman (28)...Brandon Moss (34)...Bobby Korecky (38)...Mark Bruener (45)...Chester McGlockton (48)...Mark Parent (56)...Mickey Tettleton (57)...Tim Raines (58)...Orel Hershiser (59)...Wilbert Montgomery (61)...Robin Yount (62)...Rosemary Casals (69)...Lucius Allen (70)...sailor Dennis Conner (75)... Elgin Baylor (83). Marc Anthony (49), David Copperfield (61) and Mickey Rourke (65) are invited to the birthday party.

Sunday, September 17

Auston Matthews (20)...Zack Granite (25)...Jose Ramirez (25)...Marcus Semien (27)...Alexander Overckin (32)...NASCAR’s Jimmie Johnson (42)...Rasheed Wallace (43)...Mark Brunell (47)...Valeri Zelepukin (49)...Scott Arniel (55)...John Franco (57)...Scott Simpson (62)...Wayne Krenchicki (63)...Junior Bridgeman (64)...Kermit Washington (66)...Phil Jackson (72)...Orlando Cepeda (80).

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