1) It is THURSDAY, OCTOBER 3. I'm bunkered today inside The Friday Page Laboratories coaxing my NFL predictions. Pray for me. 2) Supermodel Kate Upton joins Braves bros B.J. and Justin Upton on cover of new Sports illustrated. I believe Kate out-hit B.J. this year. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins routed at Saints, DSM poll, Marino's legs, Heat begin, Le Batard goes natty & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) & Facebook (Greg Cote).
Hockey's back! Panthers open tonight: Florida's 20th NHL season launches tonight in Dallas in the first of four straight road games preceding the home bow. Not much is expected of a young, developing Cats squad, but I write in a preview column today why this could be an interesting season even if it isn't a winning one. Click on Tim Thomas & The Kids to read.
EX-MARLINS ALL OVER THE PLACE IN MLB POSTSEASON: The plethora of former Marlins working the 2013 baseball playoffs should either make this postseason more exciting from a Miami perspective, or more sad, I'm not quite sure which. How would a Marlins fan feel? We rank the 10 playoff teams (including wild-card round) based on the EMF -- the Ex-Marlins Factor:
1. Tigers: 3B Miguel Cabrera is simply the best, most feared hitter in baseball, Anibal Sanchez is the No. 3 starter, 2B Omar Infante had a solid season, and of course the manager is Jim (Smokin') Leyland.
3. Pirates: A.J. Burnett is the No. 2 starter. 1B Gaby Sanchez and C John Buck are reserves.
5. Cardinals: Edward Mujica (37 saves) is the closer, and Randy Choate also is a big bullpen presence.
6. Red Sox: Ryan Dempster pitches out of the pen. So does Andrew Miller, but he's iffy to make postseason roster.
The A's and Rays (I don't count Yunel Escobar) do not have an Ex-Marlins Factor. Neither do the eliminated Indians or Reds.
Rootability Factor: Who to root for if you are not a fan of any one team? It might be "Buctober," but one team and city has waited even longer than Pittsburgh for a title. (And, after last night, alas, they're still waiting...) Here is ranking of the 10 playoffs teams including wild-card round based on the longest each team's fans have waited to celebrate a World Series championship: Indians (eliminated; since 1948), Pirates (1979), Tigers (1984), Dodgers (1988), A's (1989), Reds (eliminated; 1990), Braves (1995), Rays (never won; franchise since 1998), Red Sox (2007) and Cardinals (2011).
Bettings odds: Updated! Ranking the eight surviving teams based on odds to win the World Series, via Bovada, as of today: Red Sox 15-4, Dodgers 9-2, Tigers 19-4, Cardinals 11-2, Braves 7-1, A's 15-2, Rays 8-1, Pirates 10-1.
An observation and prediction: This postseason included three of the highest-payroll teams (Dodgers, Red Sox, Tigers) but also three of the lowest (Pirates, A's, Rays), reminding us again that payroll is neither a guarantee nor an excuse. World Series prediction: Tigers over Dodgers, 4-3. (Then again, as a lifelong Red Sox fan, I may simply be trying to avoid jinxing my Bearded Wonders).
NFL PIX 'N FANTASY / WEEK 4: Our two-way slump continues, the mire coalescing to a consistency of setting cement, or perhaps quicksand. This cannot continue! NFL predix: Too many right picks turned wrong (thanks for nothing, Texans, Bucs and others) and we wound up 7-8 overall and a dismal 5-9-1 vs. spread (Seahawks pushed). Had the Dolphins game figured, had Browns-with-points over Bengals and not much else. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos dropped to 1-3 with a 178-142 loss. Finally got an Arian Foster game out of Arian Foster and added 28 from Torrey Smith, but got buried Monday night by my opponent's Brees/Sproles quiniela. I vow a comeback! (Like I have a choice?)
Tonight's NFL pick: Browns favored at home by 4. Bills i an upset, 23-20. Read why in the full predix capsule here.
SOPY RANKINGS / WEEK 5: WINSTON PLAYS GOOD, LIKE A QUARTERBACK SHOULD: This is the second season of our blog-exclusive State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings, a weekly updated list of the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers from the state's seven FBS schools: Miami, FSU and Florida, FIU and FAU, and South Florida and UCF. Because our rankings are cumulative players on a bye week take a temporary hit that evens out over course of season. Canes QB Stephen Morris won the 2012 season title with 1,900.5 points. FSU QB Jameis Winston is the new current leader. Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown. Our 2013 standings entering Week 6:
Rk (LW) Player, Team-pos. SOPY Pts. Wk4=Year
1 (3) Jameis Winston, FSU-qb 256 = 719
2 (1) Blake Bortles, UCF-qb 196 = 681
3 (4) Marcus Shaw, USF-rb 133 = 584
4 (5) Storm Johnson, UCF-rb 111 = 503
5 (2) Jaquez Johnson, FAU-qb DNP = 476
6 (6) Duke Johnson, Miami-rb 90 = 462
7 (--) Rannell Hall, UCF-wr 154 = 388
8 (9) Kenny Shaw, FSU-wr 99 - 382
9 (10) Jonathan Wallace, FAU-rb 82 = 361
10 (--) Stephen Morris, Miami-qb 123 = 356
Bubble: Devonta Freeman, FSU-rb, 345. Other team leaders: Florida--Matt Jones-rb, 309; FIU--T.J. Lowder-wr, 175. Note: FAU has played five games, all others four.
Cote's State of the State rankings: 1. FSU (4-0); 2. Miami (4-0); 3. Florida (3-1); 4. UCF (3-1); 5. FAU (1-4); 6. USF (0-4); 7. FIU (0-4).
Click back. Will be updating/adding to this latest blogpost...