Matthews: Giants Worst "New York State" Team

BILLS TIED FOR FIRST IN STATE PRO FOOTBALL RANKINGS...

...WHY THE ASTROS WILL WIN THE WORLD SERIES

We’re No. 1A. We’re No. 1A.

My rankings of the three NFL teams that claim allegiance to New York state (though two of them play home games in New Jersey):

1 and 1A (tie) – Buffalo Bills and the Jets

3—Giants.

In case you were fortunate enough to have something better to do Thursday evening than watch the NFL prime-time game, the Giants were demolished 34-13 by the visiting Philadelphia Eagles in a “must game” for both struggling NFC East teams. It wasn’t that close.

A few observations on the Giants:

1—Quarterback Eli Manning is completely shot. He’s 37 and plays like he’s 87. He’s lost virtually all of the mobility and elusiveness he had. If the Giants had a promising young QB in reserve, I’d consider a switch immediately. But they don’t.

2—The offensive line stinks. It isn’t all Eli’s fault but the five guys up front make a bad situation worse.

3—The defensive unit looked thoroughly confused. Helpless trying to stop the Eagles on third down-and-however many yards to go. Eagles receivers were wide open far too often. Sloppy tackling.

4—Rookie head coach Pat Shurmur appeared baffled on the sidelines. If he and his staff made any adjustments on offense or defense, they were well camouflaged.

5—“Superstar” wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., has done a good job of spoiling team chemistry by using the media to call out his teammates in general and Manning in particular. He had 6 catches for 44 yards Thursday night. He short-armed a few incomplete passes and was lucky to fall on the ball after he muffed a punt. I wouldn’t want him on my team but what teams other than Dallas and maybe Oakland would give fair value in trade?

6—Rookie running back Saquon Barkley was terrific. He had 13 carries for 130 yards and 9 catches for 99 yards. Fair question: Why only 22 touches?

7—Thursday night’s debacle was not a one-time thing. Since the start of the 2018 season. The Giants are 4-18. They’re an NFL-worst 1-5 entering this weekend. The Giants are making the Cleveland Browns look good.

8—My estimate on the raw talent on the Giants roster is around 16 in the 32-team NFL. Average. But QB and OL would be around 30. Beckham is an elite talent but his attitude negates some of his physical asserts.

The bottom line – The Jets and Bills are years away from being Super Bowl threats, but at least they have promising young quarterbacks than the Giants and much better team chemistry (excluding a player retiring at halftime).

WHYY THE ASTROS FIGURE TO REPEAT AS WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS

The 2018 Major League Baseball’s two best-of-seven League Championship Series starting Friday night in Milwaukee and Saturday night in Boston will showcase a dangerous live longshot in the Milwaukee Brewers (11 straight wins), an exceptionally deep team in the Los Angeles Dodgers (got here minus injured star shortstop Corey Seager; of course, Manny Machado was a decent pickup), an excellent team in the Boston Red Sox and maybe GREAT team in the Houston Astros.

Here are the odds to win the World Series (courtesy of Sportsbook.sg):

Houston Astros 21-to-10 (bet $10 to win $21)

Boston Red Sox 21-to-10 (bet $10 to win $21)

Los Angeles Dodgers 3-to-1

Milwaukee Brewers 4-t o-1.

...and a few reasons why I believe Houston is easily the best team in this four-team tournament:

Boston had a MLB-best 108-54 record this season. The Astros were “only” 103-59 despite infield sparkplugs Carlos Correa (52) and Jose Altuve (25) missing 77 total games due to injuries.

The Astros led MLB with a +263 run differential. Boston was next at  +229.

The Astros were an amazing 57-24 on the road. There is no such thing as a home-field disadvantage for Houston.

The Astros had a MLB-best 3.11 ERA and the lowest ERA for starting pitchers (3.16) and relief pitchers (3.03). Opponents hit a MLB-low .217.

The Astros had a MLB-fewest 63 errors and a MLB-best .989 fielding percentage.

The Astros have one of the all-time great all-around infields. 2B Altuve, SS Correa and #B Alex Bregman are upper-echelon stars and 1B Yuli Gurriel is an overlooked very good hitter.

George Springer anchors a decent outfield.

Martin Maldonado is an excellent defensive catcher.

The loaded bench includes Evan Gattis (25 HRs, 78 RBI), Tyler White, Tony Kemp, Jake Marisnick, catcher Brian McCann, Max Stassi and pinch-running specialist Myles Straw (70-for-79 stolen bases in 131 games at AA and AAA this season).

The Astros are defending champs and hungry to repeat. Bregman has a chip on his shoulder because the Astros played in the afternoon instead of in prime-time in the ALDS. He thinks his team deserves to be the feature attraction. He wears #2 because it still burns him that he was only the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 MLB June entry draft (behind Dansby Swanson; I believe Atlanta would like a do-over).

NLCS: HOW DODGERS/BREWERS MATCH UP

The Los Angeles Dodgers and host Milwaukee Brewers will open the best-of-seven National League Championship Series Friday night.

Here’s how they measure up (NL ranking in parentheses):

Records – Dodgers 92-71; 45-37 home, 47-34 road...Brewers 96-67; 51-30 home, 45-37 road

Runs differential – Dodgers +194; 804-610...Brewers +95; 754-659

Batting average – Dodgers .250 (8)...Brewers .252 (7)

Runs – Dodgers 804 (1)...Brewers 754 (7)

Doubles – Dodgers 296 (2)...Brewers 252 (10)

Triples – Dodgers 33 (6)...Brewers 24 _13)

Home runs – Dodgers 235 (1)...Brewers 218 (2)

Total bases – Dodgers 2461 (1)...Brewers 2352 (3)

On-base percentage – Dodgers .333...Brewers .323 (6)

Slugging percentage – Dodgers .442 (1)...Brewers .424 (3)

OPS (OB+SLG) – Dodgers .774 (1)...Brewers .747 (4)

Most strikeouts – Dodgers 1436 (6)...Brewers 1458 (5)

Most walks – Dodgers 647 (1)...Brewers 537 (8)

Hit-by-pitch – Dodgers 61 (8)...Brewers 58 (11)

Stolen basses – Dodgers 75 (4)...Brewers 124 (1)

Earned-run-average – Dodgers 3.38 (1)...Brewers 3.73 (4)

Starting pitchers -- Dodgers 3.19 ERA...Brewers 3.92 (7)

Relief pitchers – Dodgers 3.72 (5)...Brewers 3.47 (2)

Saves – Dodgers 48 (3)...Brewers 49 (2)

Fewest walks allowed – Dodgers 422 (1)...Brewers 553 (11)

Most strikeouts – 1565 (1)...Brewers 1428 (5)

Batting average against – Dodgers .230 (2)...Brewers .233 (3)

WHIP (walks+hits/inning) – Dodgers 1.15 (1)...Brewers 1.24 (2)

Fewest errors – Dodgers 100 (t12)...Brewers 100 (t12th).

The bottom line – The Dodgers have the more productive offense – but not by a lot...The Dodgers have much better and deeper starting pitching. The Brewers have a stronger bullpen and needs it more...The Brewers have more team speed and steal many more bases...The Dodgers take more walks...The Dodgers pitching staff led the NL in most strikeouts and fewest walks...The Dodgers have the deeper and more versatile bench.

Bob’s prediction – Dodgers in 6 games.

BOB’S NFL WEEK 6 “BEST BET”:  BEARS TO MAUL THE DOLPHINS

The Chicago Bears are one of the NFL’s most-improved teams on offense and they’re even better on defense.

The Bears are 3-1 after a 48-10 home romp over Tampa Bay and their bye week.

Chicago’s front seven versus Miami’s injury-ravaged offensive line looks like a mismatch.

After a surprising 3-0 start, the Dolphins returned to earth with a 27-17 loss at Cincinnati.

This week’s “Best Bet”: Chicago 28, MIAMI (+3) 13.

Sunday’s other games

(home teams in CAPS)

HOUSTON (-10) 30, Buffalo 15 -- Houston’s big-play offense and pass rush figure to overwhelm the Bills.

MINNESOTA (10 ½) 28, Arizona 10 – The Vikings are coming off a big 23-21 win at Philadelphia and have much more talent on both sides of the football.

Los Angeles Chargers 20, CLEVELAND (+1) 10 – The Browns are 2-1 in their last three gamers but the well-balanced offense of the Chargers should the difference.

ATLANTA (-3 ½) 33, Tampa Bay 20 – The disappointing 1-4 Falcons are due for a top effort after being outscored 121-90 in three straight losses.

CINCINNATI 35, Pittsburgh 28 – Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton is in top form and he should have a productive afternoon against Pittsburgh’s suspect secondary.

NEW YORK Jets (-2 ½) 27, Indianapolis 21 – The Jets and rookie quarterback Sam Darnold have more ways to score than the QB Andrew Luck’s pass-happy offense.

OAKLAND (+3) 21, Seattle 17 – The Seahawks are tough at home – in Seattle. But this game is in London.

Carolina 24, WASHINGTON (-1) 20 – Carolina’s 1-2 punch of QB Cam Newton and RB Christian McCaffrey  should be too much for the Redskins.

Los Angeles Rams 31, DENVER (+7) 14 – The high-powered Rams figure to take an early lead and negate Denver’s solid running game.

Jacksonville 27, DALLAS (+3) 20 – The talented Jaguars aren’t likely to lose for the third time in their last four games and the Cowboys don’t have much to complement running back Ezekiel Elliott.

Baltimore 24, TENNESSEE (+3) 17 – Ravens QB Joe Flacco has been considerably shaper than Ittans QB Marcus Mariota this season.

Kansas City 33, NEW ENGLAND (-3 ½) 27 – Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes has even more weapons at his disposal than New England’s Tom Brady in this Sunday night treat.

Monday night’s game

GREEN BAY (-9 2/2 – Can’t see E .J.  Beathard winning a passing duel against Aaron Rodgers at Lambeau Field.

Last week’s results: 10-5 picking winning teams straight up (45-31-2 this season)...7-7-1 against the Las Vegas point spread...The Best Bet is 3-2 after Kansas City (-3) beat Jacksonville 30-14.

SHORT SHOTS

The Bills will be facing arguably the NFL’s best wide receiver Sunday in Houston – Texans star DeAndre Hopkins is a rare blend of moves, speed, hands and durability.

A few interesting factoids: Hopkins has 39 catches for an NFL-best 595 yards and 2 TDs through 5 games this season. The six wide receivers for Buffalo this season have combined for 33 catches ffor 247 yard and 2 TDs...Buffalo’s six wide receivers combined would rank tied for 11th in receptions on the NFL’s list of individual wide receivers and 54th in receiving yardage.

+++The Golden State Warriors hope to have five players on Team USA for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo: Steph Curry, Marcus Cousins, Kevin Durant, Dreymond Green and Klay Thompson. I hope they do and I believe Gregg Popovich coach the entire Golden State team (with no other teams represented) to the gold medal.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO...

Friday, October 12

Ketel Marte 25...Mike Green 33...Ryan Clark 39...Marion Jones 43...Miroslav Satan 44...Tim Morabito 45...Charlie Ward 48...Nancy Kerrigan 49....Dwayne Rolson 49...Leon Lett 50...Chris Chandler 53...Mike Zordich 55...Sid Fernandez 56...Sally Little 67...Glenn Beckert 78. Hugh Jackman 50 is invited to the birthday party.

Saturday, October 13

Kamerion Wimbley 35...Ian Thorpe 36...Jermaine O’Neal 40...Paul Pierce 41...Quincy Carter 41...Brian Dawkins 45...Sean O’Donnell 47...Irv Smith 47...Trevor Hoffman 51...Jerry Rice 56...Doc Rivers 57...Derek Harper 57...Reggie Theus 61...Jeff Nixon 62...Rod Schutt 62...Jerry Jones 76. Tiffany Trump 25, Sasha Baron Cohen 47...Marie Osmond 59...Sammy Hagar 71 are invited to the birthday party.

Sunday, October 14

Jared Goff 24...Willians Astudillo 27....Kole Calhoun 31...Wesley Matthews 32...Brandon Weeden 35...Boof Bonser 37...Terrence McGee 38...Frank Wycheck 47...NBA Jim Jackson 48...P.J. Brown 49... Stephen A. Smith 51...Joe Girardi 54...Keith Byars 55...Steve Cram 58...Beth Daniel 623...Ray Williams 64...Kiko Garcia 65...Dave Schultz 69...Bob Kuechenberg 71...Charlie Joiner 71...Al Oliver 72. Usher 40 is invited to the birthday party.

Bob Matthews' Column

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