Matthews: Patriots Favored By Only 7 ½ Points Over Bills

PATRIOTS FAVORED BY ONLY 7 ½ POINTS OVER BILLS...

TOM BRADY IS 30-3 VS. BUFFALO AND DUE FOR A LOSS

The Buffalo Bills are a relatively unimpressive 3-0. Of the seven undefeated teams they have the lowest point differential at +19 (Green Bay is +23, the Rams +28, the Chiefs +37, the 49ers +42, Dallas +53 and New England +89).

Skeptics will point out that the three teams the Bills defeated are a combined 1-8.

Optimists will point out that the Bills have a legitimate top-10 defense and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in not invincible. He’s a mere 30-3 lifetime against Buffalo.

The Patriots are favored by only 7 ½ points against Buffalo Sunday at New Era Field. That’s showing some respect for the Bills.

Too much respect, probably.

I think the Bills are ready to make the playoffs. I don’t think they’re ready to beat New England. Not yet.

Buffalo would need a near-perfect game from QB Josh Allen. Rookie running back Devin Singletary would need to have his Motor running and he’s hurt for now. The defensive unit would need to play a notch above the routine very good.

It will be a fun week in western New York during the countdown to Sunday at 1 p.m. How great would a win over the Mighty Patriots and a 4-0 start be? Heady stuff for sure.

But what if the Bills lose? Certainly not a disaster. 3-1 would be a good start. Many of us are thinking a 6-2 mark for the first half of the season would set up a 4-4 second half for a 10-6 final record and a likely ticket to the playoffs.

Considering injuries and disappointing records by a few of the eight opponents down the stretch, that 4-4 record doesn’t seem so imposing: at Cleveland, at Miami, Denver, at Dallas, Baltimore, at Pittsburgh, at New England and home vs. the Jets.

WOW...ESPN’s BARNWELL CALLS BUFFALO “THE BEST DEFENSE IN FOOTBALL”

I know this in a coincidence of the highest, but one week after I suggested that ESPN might forever underrating the Buffalo Bills in favor of large-market teams, senior writer Bill Barnwell’s article on the NFL’s seven undefeated teams said it was not surprising because “Buffalo has the best defense in football.”

Since Week 3 of the 2018 season, the date cornerback Vontae Davis retired in the second quarter of a game, Barnwell’s statistics include the Bills ranking 1st in yards per drive (24.8), 1st in 3-and outs (36.2 percent), tied for 2nd in turnover percentage, 3rd in TD percentage and 3rd in scoring defense (20.7).

He concluded, ”To be right up there with the likes of the Bears and the Patriots is downright magical.”

AROUND THE NFL...

I was very much looking forward to Sunday’s Baltimore Ravens at Kansas City Chiefs for the showdown between the two hot-shot young quarterbacks: Lamar Jackson was very good but Patrick Mahomes was spectacular.

Is there a better pro athlete in North America (at least) today? He was NFL MVP in his first full season last year. How many more times will he be MVP? His NFL career passing line: 20 games; 16-4 record; 487 of 729 for 66.8 completion percentage; 6,576 yards passing; 328.3 yards passing per game; 60 TD passes; 13 INTs; 115.3 passer rating.

Whispers Sunday night had the Chiefs thinking about signing Antonio Brown. Let’s hope not. Imagine Mahomes throwing to Tyeek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Mecole Hardman and Travis Kelce -- plus Brown.

Xxxx Huge props to New York Giants rookie Daniel James could not have reacted any better to the immense pressure of replacing Eli Manning as starting quarterback. With star running back Saquon Barkley on the bench with a foot injury for much of the game, including the entire second half, the Dukie Rookie threw for two TD and ran for two more – including the game-winner with 1:16 left, to spark a rally from an 18-poinnt deficit for a 32-31 road win over Tampa Bay.

Hero for at least one Saturday. The New York Post headlines: NEW MANN IN TOWN; DAN-O-MITE: rookie pulls off miracle comeback in debut.

HOME RUN DERBY

With one week to go in the Year If the Atomic Ball, three teams already have topped the 2018 New York Yankees former MLB record of 267 HRs for a season:

Yankees 298

Minnesota 297

Houston 277.

If someone had told you the Yankees would be closing in on 300 HRs, you probably wouldn’t have guessed in April that Brett Gardner would be third on the list: Gleyber Torres 38, Gary Sanchez 34, Gardner 27, Aaron Judge 26, DJ LaMahieu 26,

SPORTS BIRTHDAY TO...

Monday, September 23

Brandon Jennings 30, Matt Kemp 35, Bryant McKinnie 40, Ricky Davis 40, Matt Hardy 45, Eric Montros 48, Jeff Cirillo 50, Pete Harnish 53, Marvin Lewis 61, Larry Mize 51, Marty Schottenheimer 76. Skylar Austin 32, Hasin Minhaj 34. Anthony Mackie 41, Bruce Springsteen 70 and Julio Inglesias 76 are invited the birthday party.

Tuesday, September 24

Owen Farrell 28, Randy Foye 36, Paul Hamm 37, Stephanie McMahon 43, Eddie George 46, Rodrick Rhodes 46, Rafael Palmeiro 55, Terry Matcalf 68, “Mean” Joe Greene 73. Ben Platt 26 is invited to the birthday party. Puppeteer Jim Henson was born on this dare in 1936 and died in 1990.

ON THIS DATE IN SPORTS...

September 23

1845 (174 years ago), the first baseball team, the New York Knickerbockers, was organized and adopted a rules code.

1868 (131 years ago), 17-year-old Tom Morris, Jr., beat his father, Tom Morris, Sr., by three strokes to retain his British Open title.

1908 (111 years ago), New York’s George Merkle failed to touch second base and the apparent winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning was disallowed; the Cubs won the replayed game and Merkle got the unfortunate nickname “Bonehead.” He later was a star for the Rochester Tribe and was elected to the Red Wings Hall of Fame for his contributions to Rochester baseball.

1926 (93 years ago), Gene Tunney beat Jack Dempsey in 10 for the heavyweight boxing title.

1952 (67 years ago), undefeated Rocky Marciano KOd defending champion Jersey Joe Walcott for the world heavyweight boxing title.

1988 (21 years ago), Jose Canseco became the first MLB player to have 40 home runs and 40 stolen bases in one season.

1992 (27 years ago), goalie Manon Rheaume became the first female to play in an NHL pre-season game; she allowed two goal on nine shots in one period.

2018 (last year),Tiger Woods posted his 80th PGA Tour victory and his first in five years with a two-stroke victory over Billy Horschel. ... New Orleans Saints quarterback passed Brett Favre’s 6,300 career completions.

September 24

1919 (100 years ago), Boston’s Babe Ruth hut his MLB-record 28th home run in a season off Yankees pitcher Bob Shawkey.

1927 (92 years ago), the NHL Toronto St. Patricks became the Maple Leafs.

1931 (88 years ago), New York City’s three MLB teams had a round-robin playoff to raise money for the unemployed. Brooklyn lost to both the Yankees and Giants.

1953 (66 years ago), Rocky Marciano TKOd fan favorite Roland LaStarza in 11 at the Polo Grounds to retain the heavyweight boxing title.

1969 (50 years ago), the New York Mets clichéd the National League East pennant.

1995 (24 years ago), Europe beat the United States 14 ½-13 1/3 at the Ryder Cup at Oak Hill CC.

Bob Matthews' Column

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