BOB’s 2019 AFC PREVIEW: EXPLOSIVE KANSAS CITY TO GO ALL THE WAY...SO...
THE CHIEFS OVER JACKSONVILLE IS THIS WEEK’S “B EST BEST”
New England Patriots (12-4) – One of these years, QB Tom Brady is going to regress and coach Bill Belichick is going to quit. Until those things happen, the Patriots will continue to rule the division...Will anyone be shocked if TE Rob Gronkowski comes back if the Pats struggle and buddy Brady beckons?
Buffalo Bills (9-7) – They’re getting better, that’s for sure. The Bills are at least an average NFL team. For most of the past 20 years, they were not...If QB Josh Allen improves quickly, a playoff berth is possible. There’s a lot of pressure on him but he has a lot of talent...I think the defense is slightly overrated but the offense could surprise, especially if rookie RB Devin Singletary is a major factor.
New Yok Jets (8-8) – RB Le’Veon Bell is a huge addition and QB Sam Darnold has star potential...Gregg Williams is a top-notch defensive coordinator but most of his personnel is average...Who kicks the field goals?...Most forecasters prefer the Jets over the Bills. I don’t agree.
Miami Dolphins (3-13) – The Dolphins are in a full-scale rebuild. They’ll have more than $100 million in cap space and at least 12 draft picks in 2020...They’re dreaming of drafting a franchise QB. Sound familiar? With Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen sharing QB duties this season, that’s a great strategy.
Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6) – Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown are gone but RB James Conner and WR Juju-Smith-Schuster are very good replacements and the team’s attitude should be much better...The OL is solid and QB Ben Roethlisberger is coming off a 5,129-yard passing season...The defense is good enough to win the division.
Cleveland Browns (9-7) – I’m going against the grain. The roster is loaded with high-profile talent but also is relatively inexperienced with a first-year head coach...The Browns figure to have some very bright moments when things are going well, but what happens when things go poorly?
Baltimore Ravens (8-8) – I’m a QB Lamar Jackson guy. I think he’s on the verge of stardom. The Ravens will have a terrific ground attack with Jackson, RB Mark Ingram and huge blocking TE Nick Boyle...The defense remains above average despite the departures of LB Terrell Suggs and LB C.J. Mosley.
Cincinnati Bengals (3-13) – Coach Marvin Lewis finally is gone after 16 seasons and zero post-season victories...New coach Zac Taylor can’t hurt but he doesn’t have much to work with...Good break for the Bills to play the Bungles in the home opener Week 3. (Of course, a loss would be a mammoth setback for Buffalo).
Jacksonville Jaguars (10-6) – The Jaguars were a “wise guy” pick entering last season but they finished 5-11. They figure to improve considerably this year...QB Nick Foles replaces Blake Bortles...More is expected from RB Leonard Fournette...The DL is loaded with Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakoue and 2019 first-round draft pick Josh Allen...CB Jalen Ramsey is almost as good as he thinks he is.
Houston Texas (9-7) – QB Deshaun Watson is a great athlete and a winner. Trading for OLT Laremy Tunsil to protect Watson was a master stroke by coach/GM Bill O’Brien...Trading DE Jadaveon Clowney wasn’t so smart...J.J. Watt is the heart of the defense.
Tennessee Titans (7-9) – I’m not sold on QB Marcus Mariota, who is inconsistent even when he isn’t injured...RB Derrick Henry is coming off a career year...The defense should keep the Titans in most games.
Indianapolis Colts (4-12) – Maybe I’m overrating retired QB Andrew Luck and underrating Jacoby Brissett...Quenton Nelson is a great young pass protector minus his great QB.
Kansas City Chiefs (13-3) – The current NFL favors passing and league MVP QB Patrick Mahomes throwing to WRs Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins and speedy rookie Mecole Hardman, and TE Travis Kelce is the best in the business...DE Frank Clark will improve the pass rush...The defense is good enough to help win Super Bowl 54.
Los Angeles Chargers (11-5) – QB Philip Rivers doesn’t have much time left to win a Super Bowl and this team could have what it takes...Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and TE Hunter Henry are quality targets...The defense is solid...Anthony Linn is a very good coach...So when will holdout RB Melvin Gordon report?
Denver Broncos (6-10) – The strength of the team should be defense, with former Chicago coordinator and new Broncos head coach Vic Fangio in charge and Von Miller and Bradley Chubb to build around...Many people expect QB Joe Flacco to regain star status in Denver. I do not.
Oakland Raiders (5-11) – Can we all agree that the Steelers were wise to let WR Antonio Brown go and the Raiders were desperate to trade for him?...Now he’s reportedly headed fgor a team suspension and QB Derek Carr’s main weapon is at least temporarily out of commission.
Bob’s Super Bowl 34 Pick: Kansas Chiefs (AFC) 27, Philadelphia Eagles (NFC) 24.
BOB’S NFL WEEK 1 “BEST BETS”
The Kansas City Chiefs are my pick to win Super Bowl 34 and they’re my Week 1 “Best Bet” as a mere 3 ½-point favorite Sunday at the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Jaguars have high hopes with QB Nick Foles replacing Blake Bortles, they can’t possibly be as lousy as they looked in a winless preseason and the defense is above average.
But the modern NFL is programmed to favor pass offenses and the Chiefs have the best quarterback – Patrick Mahomes – throwing to explosive wide receivers and super tight end Travis Kelce. That’s air-attack overkill.
This week’s “Best Bet”: Kansas City (-3 ½) 31, JACKSONVILLE 20.
Sunday’s other games
(home teams in CAPS)
Buffalo (+3) 23, NEW YORK JETS 20 – Am I overrating the Bills and underrating the Jets? The 3-point spot to Buffalo looks like a gift from the betting gods. Jets star RB Le’Veon Bell hasn’t played in 19 months and they’re minus three injured suspended and injured starters on defense.
MINNESOTA (-4) 27, Atlanta 20 – I expect Vikings QB Kirk Cousins to play much better this season and coach Mike Zimmer leads current NFL coaches with a profitable 52-28-3 against the spread (ATS).
PHILADELPHIA (9 ½) 35, Washington 7 – The Eagles figure to soar for as long as QB Carson Wentz is healthy. Imports WR Desean Jackson and RB Jordan Howard make the potent offense even better. Philadelphia is 4-0 ATS in the last four meetings (wins by 30-17, 34-24, 28-13 and 24-0).
Baltimore (-6 1/2) 20, MIAMI 3 – The undermanned Dolphins figure to have a long afternoon trying to contain Ravens QB Lamar Jackson. Miami’s players aren’t tanking. Management is.
San Francisco (+1) 24, TAMPA BAY 17 – I have much more faith in a healthy 49ers QB Jimmy Garopollo than in Jameis Winston. Bucs coach Bruce Arians is known for developing QBs and this could be his greatest challenge.
CLEVELAND (-5 ½) 28, Tennessee 20 – I believe the Browns are overrated, particularly on defense, but they have more raw talent than the Titans and the home crowd will be super pumped up for the opener.
Los Angeles Rams (-2 1/2) 33, CAROLINA 20 – The Rams were embarrassed in their 13-3 Super Bowl 33 loss to New England and should be primed to make amends immediately.
Detroit (-2 ½) 20, ARIZONA 14 –The Lions aren’t good but the Cardinals are worse.
SEATTLE (-9 ½) 27, Cincinnati 10 – The Seahawks have a nasty defense, QB Russell Wilson and one of the NFL’s best home-field advantages.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (-6 ½) 28, Indianapolis 13 – Chargers QB Philip Rivers is running out of time in his quest for a Super Bowl but he lasted longer than Andrew Luck.
DALLAS (-7) 27, New York Giants 13 – Cowpokes RB Ezekiel Elliott won’t be close to 100 percent but I prefer a 75 percent Zeke over a 100 percent Eli Manning at this stage of his career.
Pittsburgh (+5 ½) 24, NEW ENGLAND 20 – The Steelers have much to prove minus Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. The Patriots usually play better later.
Monday night’s games
NEW ORLEANS (-7) 28, Houston 24 – My hunch is that the Texans are underrated and the 7-point spot is too generous.
Denver 20 (-2), OAKLAND 13 – I’m not going to back the Raiders until they win a game – with or without Antonio Brown.
WONDERING WHAT THE NEW MEXICO STATE AGGIES ARE THINKING
I’m wondering what the New Mexico State Aggies football players are thinking these days.
Last, they kicked off their 2019 season as 33-point underdogs at Washington State and lost 58-7.
On Saturday, they’ll play at the Alabama Crimson Tide. The Aggies are 55-point underdogs in Tuscaloosa.
WARNING for bettors who think Alabama surely will win by at least 56 points: : Alabama coach Nick Saban often plays lots of freshmen in the fourth quarter of blowouts.
New Mexico State obviously can’t beat Alabama. We can only hope the Aggies escape with any major injuries.
HOW MLB’S BIG FIVE MEASURE UP
As the MLB regular season winds down, five teams have stamped themselves as legitimate threats to win the World Series:
1-New York Yankees: MLB-best 92-49 record; +165 run differential; 53-22 home/39-27 road...Might be adding Severino and Luis Severino and Dellin Betances soon...Interesting decision on Giancarlo Stanton: use him now or wait until next season?
2-Los Angeles Dodgers: 92-50 record; MLB-best +230 run differential; 55-18 home/37-32 road (why are the Dodgers so much better at home?
3-Houston Astros:91-50 record; +216 run differential; 52-17 home/39-33. The Astros have seldom been 100 percent healthy this season. Will SS Carlos Correa be ready for the postseason?
4-Minnesota Twins: 87-53 record; +173 run differential; decent 39-20 home/amazing 48-24 road. Why? They’re MLB’s the best-hitting team – at least so far this season – and Target Field is not a great park for hitters. Pitching remains the huge ???? Fair starting rotation; suspect bullpen (have used 25 relief pitchers; many of whom spent time with Rochester this season.
5-Atlanta Braves: 87-54 record; +100 run differential; 45-27 home/42-27 road. The Braves figure to be very good for a long time but might not be quire ready to go all the way.
Can the New York Yankees catch the pace-setting Minnesota Twins for the home-run title in this Year of the Long Ball?
The Yankees set the MLB-record with 267 home runs last season. So far this season, 15 of the 30 MLB teams have at least 200 HRs.
1-Minnesota 272 HRs (the new MLB record) with 22 games remaining in the regular season
2-New York Yankees 263 HRs with 21 games remaining
3-Los Angeles Dodgers NL-record 250 HRs with 20 games remaining
4_Houston Astros 237 HRs with 21 games remaining.
Xxxx Recommended sporting event: The Frontier Field Kickoff Classic, Saturday, 1 p.m., at Frontier Field. It will be the first football game at the downtown stadium that opened in 1996. There were plenty of fooootball games in the glory years of the Rhinos. The Red Wings aren’t concerned about damage to the field because it will be replaced this off-season.
Xxxx Pittsford Mendon’s Danny Mendick 25, is the latest Rochester product to record a hit in Major League Baseball. He made his first MLB start Thursday at third base for the Chicago White Sox. He was 2-for-4 and scored a run.
Xxxx Jaylin Davis, who had a sensational summer with the Rochester Red Wings before a trade to the San Francisco Giants organization, finally is a MLB player. He’s 1-for-6 in his first two games with the Giants.
Xxxx Former Rochester Red Wings left-handed slugger Daniel Palka has had quite a contrasting two seasons with the Chicago White Sox:
2018 -- .240 batting average (100-of-417), 15 doubles, 3 triples, 27 HRs, 67 RBI in 124 games.
2019 -- .019 batting average (1-of-53), 0 doubles, 0 triples, 0 HRs, 0 RBI in 19 games.
He spent most of this season with Charlotte (International League): .263, 27 HRs, 72 RBI in 106 games.
Xxxx On October 25, 1925, the NFL Rochester Jeffersons visited Green Bay and lost to the Packers 33-13 before a crowd of 2,700.
HAPPY SPORTS BIRTHDAY TO...
Friday, September 6
Jordan Hicks 23...Clint Frazier 25...Ryan Shazier 27...Tyler Austin 28...Jon Wall 29...Sam Acho 31...Mitch Moreland 34...Braun Strowman 36...Samuel Peter 39...Dreeck Lee 44...Igor Korolev 49...Kevin Willis 57
Saturday, September 7
Donovan Mitchell 23...Devin Smeltzer 24...Kevin Love 31...Wade Davis 34..Mark Prior 39....Derrick Dockery 39...Mateen Cleaves 42...Antonio McDyess 45...Sam Couch 46...Jason Isringhausen 47...Briana Scurry 48...Erik Williams 51....Bruce Armstrong 54...Uta Pippig 54...Scott Virkus 60...Bart Jones 68...Joe Rudi 73.
Sunday, September 8
Nick Williams 26...Gerrit Cole 29....Matt Barkley 29...Matthew Dellavedova 29...Alexandre Bilodeau 32...Jay McKie 41...Marco Sturm 41...Deshea Townsend 44...Amani Toomer 45...Clarence Weatherspoon 49...Latrell Sprewell 49...Gerald Williams 56...Al Pardo 57...Larry Spriggs 60...Maurice Cheeks 63....Tim/Tom Gullickson 68...Rogie Vachon 74...Lem Barney 74.
ON THIS DATE IN SPORTS...
1920 (99 years ago), Jack Dempsey KOd Billy Miske in 3 for the heavyweight boxing title in the first radio broadcast of a prizefight.
1942 (77 years ago), Czech marathon runner Oskar Heks was transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau.
1946 (73 years ago), the All-America Football Conference began regular-season play as the Cleveland Browns beat the Miami Seahawks 44-0 before 60,135 at Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium.
1960 (59 years ago), Australian middle distance runner Herb Elliott broke his own world record in winning the 1,500m at the Rome Olympics in 3:35.6.
1975 (44 years ago), Czech tennis star Martina Navratilova asked for political asylum in New York City during the tennis US Open.
1980 (39 years ago), college football’s longest losing streak of 50 games ended for Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn.
1995 (24 years ago), Calk Ripken Jr., played in his 2,131st straight game to break Lou Gehrig’s record.
1880 (139 years ago), Geo Ligowsky patented a device to throw clay pigeons for trapshooters.
1892 (127 years ago), James Corbett KOd John Sullivan in 21 for the heavyweight boxing title.
1953 (66 years ago), in an all-American US National Championship Women’s Tennis, Maureen Connolly became the first female to achieve a Grand Slam, beating Doris Hart 6-2, 6-4.
1974 (45 years ago), Billie Jean King won her fourth and final US Open singles title, beating Evonne Goolagong Cawley 3-6, 6-3. 7-5.
1979 (40 years ago), the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (ESPN) made its debut.
1986 (33 years ago), Dan Marino became the fastest NFL quarterback to throw 100 career TD passes.
1991 (28 years ago), Monica Seles of Yugoslavia won her first US Open tennis title, beating Martina Navratilova 7-6, 6-1.
2002 (17 years ago), Serena Williams beat older sister Venus Williams 6-4, 6-3 for her second US Open tennis title.
1957 (62 years ago), Althea Gibson beat Louise Brough Clapp 6-3, 6-2 for the first of her two US National Championship Women’s singles crowns.
1960 (59 years ago), American sprinter Wilma Rudolph won her third gold medal of the Rome Olympics.
1963 (56 years ago), Warren Spahn tied Christy Mathewson with his 13th 20-win season.
1968 (51 years ago), Arthur Ashe won his first Open era US singles title, beating Tom Okker 14-12, 5-7, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.
1974 (45 years ago), Pete Rose tied Ty Cobb with 4,191 hits.
2008 (11 years ago), Roger Federer won his fifth consecutive US Open tennis title.