Matthews: Bills Have The NFL's Top Ranked Defense

BULLETIN: BILLS HAVE THE NFL’S TOP-RANKED DEFENSE

The Buffalo Bills figure to enjoy their bye week coming off a 41-10 road demolition of the New York Jets – in fact Buffalo was the only AFC East team to win Week 10 – and relish the fact that they have the NFL’s NO. 1-RANKED DEFENSE.

Buffalo is allowing 302.2 yards per game, ahead of No. 2 Baltimore (305.0) and No. 3 Jacksonville (319.1).

Unfortunately, Buffalo ranks 32nd in scoring and pass offense, and 31st in total offense. That’s why the Bills have a 3-7 record. But how much worse would things be without this defense?

General manager Brandon Beane, head coach Sean McDermott and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier deserve major props for building this defense and making it work. It is an effective mixture of hard-working veterans and promising young players.

The big hope is that many of the players on defense still will be on the team when their peers on the beleaguered offensive unit catch up.

AN ENTERTAINING SUNDAY AFTERNOON WITH THE BILLS

The weather outside was gloomy Sunday afternoon but watching but Bills crush the grounded Jets 41-10 was time well spent for the struggling team’s fans.

The following tweetbook is dedicated to coach Sean McDermott, emergency quarterback Matt Barkley and revitalized running back LeSean McCoy:

“I think I’ve never been looking less forward to a Buffalo Bills game. Maybe they’ll surprise me.” (A texter replied: “Same here. I’ll be watching but please don’t tell anyone”).

“I wonder if this is the first time in NFL history that both starting quarterbacks for a Week 10 game will be taking their first snaps of the season. This is getting more embarrassing as we go along.”

“Maybe the Bills can start new quarterbacks with only five or six practices with the team under their belts because there aren’t that many plays to learn?”

“My pick: Jets 14, Bills 10.”

“If someone two weeks ago would’ve said that when the Bills played Game 10, Matt Barkley would complete a 48-yard pass to Robert Foster to set up Buffalo’s game-opening TD against the Jets, you might have replied, “Who? What?”

 “I see Tony Romo on a Corona commercial and wish he were taking snaps with the Bills.”

“Tight end Logan Thomas completes a first-down pass on a fake punt. If you can’t beat them, trick ‘em. What took so long? A few months late?”

(When the Bills fell on a fumble in the end zone for a 14-0 lead) “Good break for the Bills. It’s about time. The boos (for the Jets) are starting.”

 “The Jets offense is doing a nice impression of Buffalo’s offense most of this season.”

(Bills 24, Jets 0) “If the Bills are tanking, they forgot to tell Matt Barkley.”

“Well, the Bills were due to pick the right quarterback – for a game at least.”

“Barkley is making (Nathan) Peterman look even worse.”

(Matt) Barkley is throwing rainbow completions a la Drew Brees. Touch not velocity. Letting his receivers adjust and catch. I hope Josh Allen is watching and learning.”

 (At halftime) “Bills 31, Jets 3. Who could’ve envisioned this?”

“Who are these guys?”

“I wonder how many Bills players right now are thinking, ‘Where has that Barkley guy been all this season?’”

“The only people not shocked by this score today are wearing Minnesota Vikings uniforms.”

“Glad to see LeSean McCoy having a big game. He still can play with just an ordinary dose of help.”

“If you’ve been embarrassed for being a Bills fan most of this season, how do you think Jets fans are feeling right now?”

“If the Bills cut Barkley and keep Peterman, I believe most fans would revolt. I don’t know if Barkley could be a reasonable No. 2 behind Josh Allen next season, but I’m pretty sure that Peterman can’t be.”

“We’ve been reminded that Buffalo played the NFL’s toughest for the first half of this season and will play the easiest schedule the second half of the season.”

“Because of the Syracuse U/Buffalo Bills 1-2 football punch, Bobby Petrino (Louisville) and Todd Bowles (Jets) could be out of coaching job within days.”

(Final score) “Bills 41, Jets 10. How good was Buffalo? How lousy were the Jets?”

TALE OF THE TAPE: NOTRE DAME VS. SYRACUSE

The Syracuse University football team will be in the national spotlight Saturday afternoon when it tackles undefeated Notre Dame at Yankee Stadium. Notre Dame is favored by 9 ½ points.

Notre Dame is 10-0 and ranked No. 3 in the nation and Syracuse in 8-2 and ranked No. 12. The game will start around 2:30 p.m., and will be carried by NBC.

Here’s a quick Tale of the Tape (rank among the 130 FBS-1 teams in parentheses):

Scoring – Notre Dame 34.5 points per game (31st)...Syracuse 44.4 (7th)

Scoring defense – ND 18.7 (15th)...SU 27.6 (t70th)

Scoring differential – ND +15.8 points per game...SYR +16.8 points per game

First downs –ND 241 (t21st)...238 (t25th)

Yards offense per game – ND 454 (27th)...SU 482 (14th)

Yards allowed per game – ND 330 (25th)...SU 430 (97th)

Pass Yards per game – ND 254.8 (46th)...SU 266.1 (36th)

Rush yards per game – ND 199.4 (42nd)...SU 216.1 (27th)

Fewest pass yards allowed per game – ND 191.2 (29th)...SU 261.3 (107th)

Fewest rush yards allowed per game – ND 138.9 (41st)...SU 169.0 (70th)

Penalties by – ND 50 (t25th)...SU 70th (t91st)

Sacks by – ND 23 (t51)...SU 33 (9th)

Fewest sacks allowed – ND 14 (t29th)...SU 24 (t80th).

CAN ZACH REDMOND END ROCHESTER’S EDDIE SHORE AWARD DROUGHT?

Rochester Americans veteran defenseman Zach Redmond has always been a stellar American Hockey League player and he’s off to a spectacular start this season.

Through 14 games this season, Redmond leads all AHL defensemen in goals (10) and points (18). He’s also a hard-nosed and effective blue-liner.

Redmond is the way-too-early favorite for the 2019 Eddie Shore Award. The prestigious honor goes to the AHL’s outstanding defenseman. Offensive-minded defenseman tend to be favored.

The Eddie Shore Award was introduced after the 1959 season and the first winner was veteran Steve Kraftcheck of the Rochester Americans.

The great Al Arbour, a four-time AHL First-Team All-Star defenseman for Rochester in the mid-1960s, was the only other Rochester player to win the Eddie Shore Award. He won it in 1965.

Considering the large number of exceptional defensemen for Rochester through the decades, it is sort of amazing that only Kraftcheck and Arbour won the Eddie Shore Award and none for the last 52 years. Could Zach Redmond end that drought?

For the record, here is the list of AHL defensemen who’ve played for Rochester and won the Eddie Shore Award before or after they were Amerks: Larry Hillman, Kent Douglas, Marc Reaume, Bob Blackburn, Joe Zanussi, Noel Price (three times), Richie Dunn, Jim Wiemer, Dave Fenyves (two times), Chris Snell, Ken Sutton, Andy Delmore, Marc-Andre Gragnani and T.J. Brennan (two times).

WHY I BELIEVE JOE MAUER IS A HALL-OF-FAMER

Minnesota Twins former baseball star Joe Mauer officially retired last Friday at age 35. He probably had some decent baseball left in him, but a few concussions had taken a toll and he wanted to spend more time with his young family..

I believe Mauer calling it quits now --while he still could’ve squeezed out a few more seasons as a player --- will boost his chances to make the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

From 2006 through 2013, Mauer was a very good-to-great catcher. He had a .327 batting average and .883 OPS (on-base + slugging percentage) over that span. His average season for 162 games was 40 doubles, 15 HRs, 90 RBI and 98 runs. He had more walks than strikeouts. He won three Gold Gloves.

From 2014 through 2018, when concussions took their toll, he became a first-baseman/designated hitter. His batting average plunged to .278 over that span. He averaged around 10 HRs and 69 RBI.  He had lost some power and speed. He was an average-at-best offensive 1B/DH.

I believe he’ll be elected to the Hall of Fame based on his performance solely as a catcher. He’s the only catcher to win three batting titles (2006, 2008 and 2009). The only other catchers to win batting crowns were Bubbles Hargrave in 1926, Ernie Lombardi in 1938 and 1942, and Buster Posey in 2012.  He was 2009 American League MVP. He was fourth in 2008 and sixth in 2010.

His final career batting line is solid: 1,858 games (including 921 at catcher, 603 at first base and 310 as a DH -- .306 batting average; 2,123 hits; 428 doubles; 30 triples; 143 HRs; 923 RBI; 939 walks; 1,034 strikeouts; .388 on-base percentage; .439 slugging percentage.

But his batting line as a catcher was extraordinary and is what makes him worthy of the Hall of Fame.

(Joe Mauer was a former Rochester Red Wing – barely. He jumped directly from Double-A to the Minnesota Twins after the 2003 season, but he spent five games early in that season on a rehab assignment in Rochester. He was 6-for-19 (.316 batting average), with 3 doubles and 2 RBI...14 years later, Mauer played 10 games with the Red Wins on another brief rehab stint. In three games as a DH, he was 0-for-10).

SHORT SHOTS

The over/under (total points by both teams) for Sunday night’s Kansas City Chiefs versus Los Angeles Rams game in Mexico City is 64. According to ESPM Stats & Information, that’s the NFL’s highest over/under since at least 1986. St. Louis versus the St. Louis Rams in November 2009 was over/under 62. The Rams won 34-24.

The announced crowd for Friday night’s 54-23 Syracuse U. football victory over Louisville at the Carrier Dome was 42,797. It was the largest home crowd in Dino Babers’ three seasons as head coach and boosted this season’s average home attendance to 37,043.

So far, so good for the Buffalo Sabres in the big trade with Carolina last summer for left wing Jeff Skinner. Last season with the Hurricanes, he had 24 goals + 29 assists for 49 points in 82 games. Through 17 games with this season’s Sabres, he has 12 goals and 7 assists and his plus/minus is a team-beat plus-11.

Carmelo Anthony and the Houston Rockets are at odds and might not last the week.  The team is struggling, he’s not happy about how he’s being used and management isn’t crazy about how he’s been playing. The solution seems obvious. Trade Melo to a team for which he can start and play and shoot as much as he wants. He probably could help a playoff contender coming off the bench, but that doesn’t seem likely to happen. He’s 34 years old, averaging 13.4 points mainly as a reserve this season, and the 19th leading scorer in NBA history (25,551 points).

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO...

Monday, November 12

Adam Larsson 26...Marcell Ozuna 28...Russell Westbrook 30..Jason Day 31...Charlie Morton 35...Lance Briggs 38....Corey Maggette 39...Matt Bowens 42...Tonya Harding 48...Sammy Sosa 50...Michael Moorer 51...Gerald Perry 54...Mark Hunter 56...Nadia Comaneci 57...Steve Bartkowski 66...Al Michaels 74..Ken Houston 74....Cliff Harris 70. Anne Hathaway 36, Ryan Gosling 38 and Neil Young 73 are invited to the birthday party.

Tuesday, November 13

Trey Burke 26..Chris Devenski 28...Wade Miley 32...Asdrubal Cabrera 33...Michael Bennett 33...Ron Artest 39...Pat Hentgen 50...Steve Christie 51...Vinny Testaverde 55...Jon Hand 55..Gates Orlando 56...Rosie Jones 59....Larry Harlow 67...Gilbert Perrault 68...Gene Garber 71...former Amerks Rene Drolet 74. Jimmy Kimmel 51 and Whoopi Goldberg 63 are invited to the birthday party. Rochester Red Wings Hall of Famer Steve Bilko was born on this date 90 years ago (1928) and died in 1978 at age 50.

ON THIS DATE IN SPORTS...

November 12

126 years ago (1892), Pudge Heffelfinger received $500 to become the first professional football player in the Allegheny Athletic Association’s 4-0 win over the Pittsburgh Athletic Club...98 years ago (1920), Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis was elected baseball’s first commissioner...36 years ago (1982), Aaron Pryor scored a 14th round KO of Alexis Arguello in Miami to retain his WBA super lightweight title in The Ring’s “Fight of the Decade”...32 years ago (1986), Rogers Clemens unanimously won the American League Cy Young Award...23 years ago (1995), Dan Marino beat Fran Tarkenton’s all-time passing yardage record of 47,003.

November 13

143 years ago (1875), Harvard-Yale played the first college football game with uniforms...118 years ago (1900), the Baltimore Orioles – now the New York Yankees – entered the American League...54 years ago (1964), Bob Pettit of the St. Louis Hawks became the first NBA player to score 20,000 points...50 years ago (1968), Bob Gibson edged Pete Rose fort National League MVP...45 years ago (1973), Reggie Jackson won the American League MVP unanimously...36 years ago (1982), boxer Duk Koo Kim was defeated by Ray Mancini in Las Vegas and died four days later...24 years ago (1994), Dale Earnhardt won the 44th NASCAR Sprint cup.

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