BOB’s NFL QUARTERLY REPORT...
Best Team – Los Angeles Rams. The Rams and Kansas City are the only 4-0 teams. Kansas City’s offense might be the best unit in the league. But the Rams are almost as strong offensively and considerably better than the Chiefs on defense.
Worst Team – Arizona edges Buffalo.
Best Player – (tie) Rams QB Jared Goff and Kansas City QB Patrick Mahomes. They’ll hook up on Monday Night Football November 19 in Mexico City. Should be a fun show.
Biggest Upset – Buffalo 27, Minnesota 6. One for the ages. The Vikings were favored by 17.
Most Underrated Team – Baltimore. Why don’t the Ravens get their fair share of respect?
Top Coach – Tennessee’s Mike Vrabel. 3-1 with a point differential of +2.
Top Comeback Player – Washington RB Adrian Peterson. Written off at age 33. Hasn’t run out of gas yet.
Most Improved Team – Cleveland. From 0-16 to competitive every week.
Most Disappointing Team – Atlanta. All three losses in a 1-3 start were in the closing minutes. Sunday’s versus Pittsburgh’s looks like a must-win trip.
Worst Teammate (tie) – Buffalo DB Vontae Davis, who retired at halftime; and Pittsburgh AWOL RB Le’Veon Bell, who says he plans to show up soon.
Biggest Downfall for a Player – QB Tyrod Taylor. Discarded after starting for a playoff team last season (Buffalo) and then demoted by a team that was 0-16 last season (Cleveland).
Worst Division – NFC West./AFC East. Nothing to fear for the Rams and Patriots.
Beat Trade Acquisition – Khalil Mack By Chicago.Oddest Suspension – Seattle LB Mychal Kendricks indefinitely by the NFL for alleged insider trading. He has appealed.
The Battle of New York – The Giants, Jets and Bills all are 1-3.
Most Costly Injury – Jimmy Garapollo season-ending knee injury. The 49ers went from a marginal playoff contender to a going-nowhere team.
The Only Two Teams in Top 10 Total Offense/Total Defense – Rams (1st off/10th def)...Baltimore 10th off/4th def.
Most Profitable/Least Profitable Teams to Wager On -- Rams 4-0 against the point spead/Denver 0-3-1 ATS.
Most Pleasing Tends – Declines in dubious roughing-the-passer calls and media coverage of players “protests” during the national anthem...Increases in scoring and TV ratings.
Best New Head Coaches – Mike Vrabel’s Tennessee Titans and Mike Nagy’s Chicago Bears are off to 3-1 starts. The six other teams with new coaches this season are a combined 4-16.
Strangest Season by a Player – Tampa Bay’s Ryan Fitzpatrick became the first QB in NFL history to pass for 400+ yards three consecutive games. The Pro Football Hall of Fame requested his jersey for display. The day it arrived in Canton, Fitz was demoted to second string in favor of Jameis Winston.
Games to Most Look Forward To – Week 5: Jacksonville at Kansas City...Week 6: Kansas City at New England...Week 7: New England at Chicago...Week 8: Green Bay at LA Rams.
BULLPENS COULD DONINATE THE MLB PLAYOFFS
Bullpens never have been more important in Major League Baseball. Teams will poor bullpens don’t make the playoffs. Teams with the best bullpens usually are tough outs in the postseason.
Here are my ratings of the bullpens for the eight teams that will be fighting for the 2018 World Series crown:
1-Houston...3.03 ERA; 31-23 record; 46 saves in 67 opportunities; 1.06 WHIP; .214 batting average against; 449.2 innings; 393 hits allowed; 137 walks; 556 strikeouts; stt-up man/closer Hector Rondon; Chris Devenski;Ryan Pressly/Roberto Osuna. Depth in stating pitcher should provide stellar long relief.
2-Yankees...3.38 ERA; 35-20 record; 49 saves in 67 opportunities; 1.21 WHIP; .221 BAA; 594.2 IP; 493 HA; 227 BB; 753 Ks; set-up man/closer: David Robertson; Dellin Betances/Aroldis Chapman
3-Oakland-3.37 ERA; 45-17 record; 44 saves in 62 opportunities; 1.18 WHIP; .220 BAA; 641.1 IP (no team in this postseason relies so much on relievers; they’re cheaper than strong starting pitchers); 1.18 WHIP; 641.1 IP; 524 HA; 234 BB; 627 Ks; set-up man/closer: Lou Trivino/Blake Treinen.
4-Milwaukee-3.47 ERA; 42-21 record; 49 saves in 74 opportunities; 1.25 WHIP; .230 BAA; 614.0 IP; 522 HA; 243 BB; 708 Ks; set-up man/closer: Josh Holde/Corey Knebel.
5-Boston-3.72 ERA; 40-12 record; 46 saves in 66 opportunities; 1.29 WHIP; .235 BAA; 587.1 IP; 515 HA; 245 BB; 628 Ks; set-up man/closer: Matt Barnes/Craig Kimbrel.
6-Dodgers-3.72 ERA; 35-33 record; 48 saves in 74 opportunities; 1.21 WHIP; .231 BAA; 581.1 IP; 505 HA; 199 walks; 625 Ks; set-up man /closer Soott Alexander/Kenley Jansen.
7-Atlanta-4.15 ERA; 30-26 record; 40 saves in 60 opportunities; 1.40 WHIP; .241 BAA; 557.0 IP; 505 HA; 273 walks; 556 Ks; set-up man/closer Doug Winkler/Arodys Vizacaino.
8-Colorado-4.62 ERA; 32-29 record; 51 saves in 78 opportunities; 1.35WwHIP; .247 BAA; 520.1 innings; 483 HA; 217 walks; 526 Ks; set-up man/closer Adam Ottavino/Wade Davis.
9-Cleveland-4.60 ERA; 15-29 record; 41 saves in 58 opportunities; 1.34 WHIP; .253 BA; 463.2 IP; 456 HA; 163 BB; 478 K; set-up man/closer Oliver Prez; Andrew Miller (they hope)/ closer Cody Allen.
REX’S BILLS WERE COMPARATIVELY COMPETITIVE
Will many of you be upset if I suggest that the bad old days of Rex Ryan in Buffalo (the 2015-16 seasons) weren’t all that dreadful? Especially compared to what we’ve been exposed to in three of the four games the Buffalo Bills have appeared in this season?
After the latest embarrassing loss – 22-0 in Green Bay last Sunday – I’m all the more amazed that Buffalo won 27-6 at Minnesota two weeks ago. It’s starting to look like that was not a monumental upset. It might have been a football miracle!
Sean McDermott is 10-10 now through 20 regular-season games, I’m not including the 10-3 playoff loss to Jacksoville. I give him major props for simply getting his team to that game. I think by now that only the most die-hard Bills fans would dispute that the 2017 Bills were among the NFL’s least-talented 9-7 playoff teams in a long time.
Rex Ryan’s record was 15-16 in his two seasons: victory margins 13, 27, 1, 16, 5, 11, 10, 5, 15, 16, 11, 29, 4, 17, 20; average victory margin 12.67 points.
McDermott’s record is 10-10: victory margins 8, 10, 6, 3, 20, 6, 6, 8, 6, 21; average victory margin 9.4 points.
Ryan’s 16 losses were 8, 14, 13, 3, 7, 8, 3, 10, 6, 6, 3, 16, 6, 14, 7, 3: average losing margin 9.9 points; nine of the losses were by a TD or fewer. The largest losing margin was 16 points.
McDermott’s 10 losses were by 4, 13, 37, 30, 20, 21, 40, 9, 22; average losing margin 20.2 points., including six by at least 20 points.
In fairness to McDermott, I believe his rosters were considerably less-talented than Ryan’s rosters. The new regime’s over5haul of the roster it inherited was not a bad idea in theory. The Bills coached by Ryan quarterbacked by Tyrod Taylor did not seem to be on the verge of surviving deep into the playoffs anytime soon.
But those two Ryan teams looked better on paper, weren’t any older and were consistently more competitive than the 2017-2018 teams overseen by McDermott and GM Brandon Beane.
Let’s all hope patience is a virtue and the fan bases isn’t expecting too much too soon.
BOB’S THUIRSDAY NIGHT NFL “BEST BET”
The New England Patriots again last week at least temporarily silenced their critics by crushing previously undefeated AFC East rival Miami 38-7.
The Patriots are home again Thursday night against the Indianapolis Colts, who obviously won’t be full of themselves and overconfident.
New England should win but the 10 ½-point spot looks too generous to me. Colts quarterback Andrew Luck figures to keep his team reasonably close.
My pick: NEW ENGLAND 27, Indianapolis 20.
OUR DEPARTED TEAMS AREN’T DRAWING MUCH BETTER IN THEIR NEW HOMES
The exodus oi several pro sports teams from Rochester in recent years destroyed our reputation as one of America’s greatest mid-sized sports cities.
There were a variety of reasons for the demise of those teams, but poor attendance was the most obvious single factor. Ownership – most from of towns – figured they could draw bigger crowds and lose less money in other markets.
It hasn’t exactly worked out as well as they hopes.
The Western New York Flash – The National Women’s Soccer League team left in February 2017 in favor of becoming the North Carolina Courage, based in Cary, N.C.
The Courage drew around 2,000 on a good day in Rochester’s downtown soccer stadium. This season, with arguably the best team in American women’s pro soccer history, the championship Courage averaged 5,129 for 12 home games. The league average was 6,024.
The Major League Lacrosse Rochester Rattlers became the Dallas Rattlers after the 2016 season. In their last two years in Rochester, the Rattlers averaged 1,456 and 2,191 fans per home game. They averaged 4,779 fans with a regular-season championship team this season in Dallas.
The USL Rochester Rhinos went dormant after the 2017 USL season. They were drawing 1,000-to-2,000 per home game. Coach Bob Lilley and several of his players went to the USL Pittsburgh Riverhounds. They’re one of the 33-team league’s best teams but rank 25th in average home attendance at 2,353 through 17 home games.
Will fewer home teams in Rochester help boost attendance for the Red Wings and Amerks. Hope so.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO...
Wednesday, October 3
Courtney Lee 33...Zlatan Ibrahimovic 37...Anquan Boldin 38...Fred Couple 59...Dennis Eckersley 64...Dave Winfield 67...Nerve Campbell 45,Gwen Stefani 49, Clive Owens 54, Al Sharpton 64 and Chubby Checker 77 are invited to the birthday party.
Thursday, October 4
Barkevious Mingo 28...Kimmie Meisner 29...Derrick Rose 30...Kurt Suzuki 35...Jeted Weaver 36...Sarah Foster 38...Kyle Lohse 40...Kurt Thomas 46...Brian Kozlowski 48...Jim Hofford 54...A. C. Green 55...Sherri Turner 62...Truck Robinson 67...Tony LaRussa 74.Liev Schreiber 51, Christoph Waltz 62 and Susan Sarandon 72 are invited to the birthday party.
ON THIS DATE IN SPORTS
98 years ago (1920), St. Louis Browns star George Sisler collected his MLB-record 257th hit of the season – the record was broken by Ichiro Suzuki...the American Pro Football Association – later the NFL – played its first games...67 years ago (1951), New York Giants star Bobby Thomson’s home run -- “The Shot Heard ‘Round the World” (frankly, most of the world wasn’t paying attention) – beat the Brooklyn Dodgers 5-4 in a playoff for the National League pennant...65 years ago (1953), Sam Snead won six of his seven matches to lead the U.S. to its sixth consecutive Ryder Cup triumph, 6 1/2-to-5 ½, over Great Britain...56 years ago (1962), the San Francisco Giants – 103-62 – beat the Los Angeles Dodgers – 102-63 – in the season-ending National League pennant-deciding game. The Dodgers had a then MLB-record home attendance of 2,755,184...47 years ago (1971), tennis star Billie Jean King became the first female athlete to win $100,000 in prize money in a single year...46 years ago (1972), Roric Harrison, pitching star of the great 1971 Rochester Red Wings, beat Cleveland for Baltimore, 4-3, and became the last American League pitcher to hit a home run until MLB interleague play began 25 years later...44 years ago (1974), 39-year-old Frank Robinson became MLB’s first African-American manager. He signed a one-year deal with Cleveland for $180,000...42 years ago (1976), In Hank Aaron’s final MLB plate appearance, he singled for his 2,297th RBI in a 5-2 Milwaukee Brewers loss to Detroit..28 years ago (1990), Kansas City’s George Brett became the first MLB player to win a battle title in three different decades...23 years ago (1995), O.J. Simpson was found noy guilty in the muder of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman...10 years ago (2009), O.J. Simpson was found guilty of kidnapping and armed robbery.
112 years ago (1906), The Chicago Cubs finished 116-36 for a MLB-record .763 winning percentage...90 years ago (1928), The New York Yankees beat the St. Louis Cardinals 4-1 on the way to a World Series sweep for the second straight season...65 years ago (1953), Mickey Mantle hit a World Series grand slam...1955 (63 years ago), the Brooklyn Dodgers beat the Yankees 2-0 in Game 7 for their first and only world championship...59 years ago (1959), Cleveland Browns RB Jim Brown had a team-record 37 rushing attempts...31 years ago (1987), the first “Scrub Sunday” of NFL football with replacement players...6 years ago (2012), Formula One legend Michael Schumacher retired.