Matthews: Army Won The Battle Of The Uniforms


Army is favored by 7 points over Navy Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia in the 119th meeting of the service academies.

If Las Vegas factored in uniforms in the betting  line, Army might be favored by 27 points.

Army will wear imposing helmet-to-toe all-black uniforms with red highlights to honor the 100th anniversary of the 1st Infantry Division – the Big Red One.

When the 1st Infantry Division – 28,000 strong -- landed in Europe during World War I, it was larger than the allied and German forces combined on the Western Front. It was the U.S. Army’s first permanent division and is oldest continuously serving division in the Regular Army.

Needless to say, Army’s football team will be super-psyched to uphold the honor of the Big Red One.

Underdog Navy will counter with a white uniform honoring the Bill the Goat mascot.

The uniform doesn’t make the team, of course, but if intimidation is a factor, huge advantage to Army.

Navy beat Army 14 straight times from 2002 through 2015. Most of the scores weren’t close. But the Midshipmen scored upset wins the past two years – 21-17 in 2016 and 14-13 last year.

For a change, the Tale of the Tape favors Army:

Records – Army 9-2...Navy 3-9

Points scored per game – Army 30.8...Navy 26.3

Points allowed per game – 18.7...Navy 34.9

Point differential – Army +12.1...Navy -8.6

Net yards rushing per game – Army 303.0...Navy 288.5...out of the 129 FBS teams, Army ranks 2nd and Navy ranks 3rd

Rush attempts; average gain/rush TDs – Army 716; 4.66/37...Navy 695; 4.98/36

Yards passing per game – Army 81.7...Navy 77.2...out of the 129 FBS teams, Army ranks 128th and Navy ranks 129th

TDs rush/pass – Army 37/6...Navy 10/16

Penalties/yards – Army 53/541...Navy 62/486

Average time of possession – Army 39:15...Navy 20:45

Red zone TDs – Army 32x45...Navy 17x25

Sacks by per game – Army 1.36 (114th)...Navy .75 (129th)

Fewest sacks allowed per game – Army .18 (1st; 2 in 11 games)...Navy 1.58

First downs offense – Army 245...Navy 222

First downs defense – Army 170...Navy 258.

Navy leads the series 60-51-7 since 1890.

Bob’s prediction: Army 27, Navy 13.


The Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday night provided a pitiful display of how not to tackle in a 30-9 prime-time loss to the host Tennessee Titans. Aside from linebacker Myles Jack, who played like he cared all of the game, Jacksonville’s defensive unit was disgraceful. Marcell Dareus, for example, had a total of one tackle. He’s so big, you’d think he’d have more than one tackle simply because opponents might run into him.

I felt sorry for Jaguars Executive VP/Football Operations Tom Coughlin. It must have been a very long night for him. Expected to be a Super Bowl contender, the Jags are 4-8. I don’t feel sorry for coach Doug Marrone, who walked out on the Buffalo Bills and now appears to have lost control of his Jaguars.

+++New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning is a good example of how stats can be misleading. His 2018 performance line looks pretty good. Including career-bests in completion percentage (.679) and passer rating (93.7). His career marks are .603 and 84.0. He also has a 15/8 TD pass/INT ratio.

But you’ve watched the Giants all season, you know Eli hasn’t been very good. His completion percentage is up because he throws more dump passes now. And he’s going to smash his personal worsts for times sacked and yards lost on sacks. Through 12 games, he’s 41/317 and counting.

+++I wonder if Kansas City Chiefs wide receivers Kelvin Benjamin and Sammy Watkins have been swapping tales of their time with the Buffalo Bills.

+++Pro Football Focus grades the five rookie first-round quarterbacks on performance this season entering Week 14: 1-Baker Mayfield (Cleveland) 79.6 grade...2-Josh Allen (Buffalo) 66.5...3-Lamar Jackson (Baltimore) 56.8...4-Josh Rosen (Arizona) 55.7...5-Sam Darnold (NY Jets) 50.9.


The Los Angeles Chargers probably are the most underrated of the NFL’s handful of really good teams.

The Chargers don’t have a weakness and got even stronger with the return of pass-rushing star Joey Bosa.

Cincinnati has underachieved – again – and has lost QB Andy Dalton and star WR A.J. Green to season-ending injuries.

This week’s “Best Bet”: LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (-14) 38, Cincinnati 17.

Sunday’s other games

(home team in CAPS)

BUFFALO (-3 ½) 20, New York Jets 13 – The Bills are due for a big effort and figure to be ready to play after a tough-luck loss in Miami. Buffalo won 41-10 over the host Jets Week 10 and is 4-1 against the Leas Vegas point spread (ATS) in the last five home games.

CLEVELAND (+1 ½) 28, Carolina 20 –The disappointing Panthers are 2-7 ATS in their last 9 road games. Carolina’s home opponents have a 116 passer rating this season. Browns rookie QB Baker Mayfield should have another big game.

HOUSTON (-4 ½) 31, Indianapolis 1 – The Texans have won nine straight games and the Colts are 3-12 in their last 15 road games.

New Orleans 42, TAMPA BAY (+8) 27 – Coming off an embarrassing drubbing in Dallas, Drew Brees and Co. figure to bounce back in a big way against the defenseless Buccaneers.

GREEN BAY (-5 ½) 31, Atlanta 28 – A coaching change can’t cure all of Green Bay’s problems and the Falcons have the firepower to hang tough all the way in this spot.

New York Giants 28, WASHINGTON (+3 ½) 13 – No excuses for the Giants. They’re finally clicking on offense, 5-0 ATS in their last five road games and Mark Sanchez is Washington’s emergency starting quarterback.

New England 35, MIAMI (+7 ½) 20 – Tom Brady is 7-9 all-time in Miami for no logical reason. Maybe that’s why the Dolphins are getting only 7 ½ points.

Denver 21, SAN FRANCISCO (+4 ½) 18 – The Broncos don’t have enough offense to spot any home team – even the 49ers -- 4 ½ points.

Detroit 27, ARIZONA (+2 ½) 15 – Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is better than Arizona rookie Josh Rosen and has more weapons at his disposal. Warning: Detroit is 11-27 in its last 38 games as a road favorite.

DALLAS (-3 ½)  28, Philadelphia 21 – The Cowboys are playing with confidence and play much better at home than on the road. The Eagles are coming off a victory over depleted Washington.

KANSAS CITY (-7) 30, Baltimore 17 – Ravens rookie QB Lamar Jackson’s wheels won’t be as effective after the Chiefs take an early lead.

PITTSBURGH 45, OAKLAND (+10 ½) 14 -- With RB James Conner sidelined, the Steelers figure to throw the ball even more than usual. Big numbers for Ben Roethlisberger? Warning: the Raiders are 6-1 ATS in the last 7 meetings.

Los Angeles Rams 27, CHICAGO (+3) 20 – With strong offensive and defensive lines and terrific RB Todd Gurley, the Rams figure to handle any kind of weather in Chicago.

Monday night’s game

SEATTLE (-3) 24, Minnesota 17 – The Seahawks always  are tough to beat with QB Russell Wilson and the home-field advantage. Seattle is 6-1-1 ATS in the last 8 games and the Vikings are 1-7 ATS in their last 8 games versus teams with winning records.


Minnesota signed two free-agent second basemen Thursday, one probably for the Twins (former Baltimore star Jonathan Schoop) and one maybe for the Rochester Red Wings (5-foot-8 former Yankees reserve Ronald Torreyes)...If Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin all are healthy for the entire 2019 season, the Washington Nationals figure to easily win the NL East even without Bryce Harper. The weak-link catcher position is vastly improved with the additions of Kurt Suzuki and Yan Gomes...Popular former Rochester Red Wings catcher Tim Laker is the new batting coach for the Seattle Mariners – unfortunately just when the team is unloading veteran hitters in a massive rebuilding program...The Los Angeles Angels released ex-Red Wings pitcher Alex Meyer, who once was a can’t-miss Minnesota Twins prospect but has been derailed by injuries.


Former Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze reportedly will be the new head coach of the Liberty Flames, replacing Turner Gill. Liberty jumped from FCS to TBS last season. Syracuse U. will open the 2019 season at Liberty (in Virginia) and host the Flames in 2020 and 2021...Reminder: SU will play Notre Dame in 2022, 2025 and 2026.

The Associated Press 17th-ranked basketball UB Bulls play at Syracuse U., Tuesday, December 18. I believe the Orange will be favored by a few points but they’d better bring their B+ game at least if they hope to win.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman says the salary cap projection for next season is around $83 million.

The National Lacrosse League is expected next week to announce an expansion team for Long Island for the 2019-20 season.

One of the all-time great pro wrestlers, Tom “The Dynamite Kid” Billington, died Wednesday on his 60th birthday. He was part of the famous tag team  “British Bulldogs” with his cousin, Davey Boy Smith, in the 1980s and 1990s. He was famous for acrobatic and dangerous moves to thrill the fans. His book “Pure Dynamite” is a cult classic. It included accounts of using alcohol, drugs and steroids. The Englishman broke his back in a match in Madison Square Garden, made a ring comeback, eventually lost use of a leg and spent many years in a wheelchair before his death

Entering NFL Week 14, there were 34,000 plays, with 2,555 penalties for 21,893 yards.

The winningest NFL teams against the Las Vegas point spread this season are New Orleans (9-3), Kansas City (8-3-1), Chicago (8-4) and New England (8-4)...The costliest teams against the point spread are Atlanta (3-9), San Francisco (3-9) and Green Bay (4-7-1)...Buffalo is 5-7 against the spread (2-3 home and 3-4 road).

Atlanta United FC is a big favorite (bet $210 to win $100) at home Saturday night against the Portland Timbers (bet  $100 to win $600 in Major League Soccer’s MLS Cup. Atlanta was 21W-6T-7L and Portland was 15W-9T-10L in the regular season. The over/under is 2.5 goals. Atlanta began its season March 3 with a 4-0 road loss to the Houston Dynamo. It’s been a loooong season.


Friday, December 7

Yasiel Puig 28...Kevin Seraphin 29...Kyle Hendricks 29...Dean Ambrose 33...Milan Michalek 34...Ben Leber 40...Eric Chavez 41...Alan Faneca 42...Al Harris 44...Terrell Owens 45...Keith Goganious 50...Tino Martinez 51...Peter Laviolette 54...Larry Bird 62...Curtis Brown 64...Richie Coggins 68...Johnny Bench 71...Garry Unger 71...Gerry Cheevers 78.

Saturday, December 8

Andrew Nicholson 29...Drew Doughty 29...Sam Shields 31...Amir Khan 32...Dwight Howard 33...Josh Donaldson 33....Philip Rivers 37...Vernon Wells 40...Ryan Newman 41...Kevin Harvick 43...Mike Mussina 50...Jeff George 51...Steve Elkington 56...E.J. Junior 59....Roy Firestone 65...Tim Foli 68...Bob Love 76...Red Berenson 79. Sinead O’Connor 52 and Kim Basinger 65 are invited to the birthday party.

Sunday, December 9

Kelly Oubre Jr. 23...Langston Galloway 28...Eric Bledsoe 29...Mat Latos 31...Gerald Henderson 31...Aron Baynes 32...Mardy Fish 37...Shayne Graham 41...Tony Batista 45...Petr Nedved 47...Kurt Angel 50...Ray Agnew 51...Barry Wilburn 55...Juan Samuel 58...Jim Haslett 63...World B Free 65...Tom Kite 69...Dick Butkus 76...Darold Knowles 77. Donny Osmond 61, John Malkovich 65, Judi Dench 84 and Kirk Douglas 102 are invited to the birthday party...Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Charles “Old Hoss” Radbourn was born on this date 165 years ago (1853) in Rochester and died in 1897 at age 42.

Bob Matthews' Column

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