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16 posts from December 2013

December 31, 2013

What Dolphins leader most needs firing? New poll. Vote now!; plus D.Wade's surprise baby & more

1) It is TUESDAY, DECEMBER 31. Happy New Year's Eve, everybody! Over/under on people cleverly telling me, "See you next year!" today: 12.5. 2) Click on Random Evidence for the latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with Dolphins-Jets. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins blow it vs. Jets and miss playoffs, DSM poll & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).

DSM season final: 4.2%: See the blogpost directly below for final and yearly Dolfan Satisfaction Meter results. This year's awful season-ending figure is despite a one-game improvement over last year, obviously influenced by the two bad late losses that cost Miami the playoff spot thatw as in its grasp.

IF YOU COULD ONLY PICK ONE ... WHO AMONG THE DOLPHINS LEADERSHIP MOST NEEDS REPLACING?: I chew on this topic in today's latest column. Click on Whom Do You Trust? to read. A problem for Miami is that nobody on the top tier of the club's management or leadership is Grade A state-of-the-art in the NFL. In this poll I list six top Dolphins figures. If you could replace one but only one, whom would it be and why? If you feel none should be replaced, say that, too. The list in the poll is alphabetical.

ON WADE'S SURPRISE CHILD: So Heat star Dwyane Wade became a daddy again the other day, with a child conceived with another woman while he and Gabrielle Union were taking some time apart earlier this year. Wade can afford condoms dusted with gold, but that's a different story. Does this revelation make you think less of Wade? I say if his now-fiancee is OK with this, so should fans be. Children born "out of wedlock," as it used to be called, has stopped being scandalous. That seems especially true in the world of pro sports. It is unfortunate. But those are my morals, not everyone's.

COMING ON NEW YEAR'S DAY...: We'll welcome 2014 tomorrow in the blog with a poll inviting you to name the biggest South Florida sports story of the past year from among a top 10 finalists. Watch for it and vote. 

Click back. Will be updating/adding to this latest blogpost...

December 29, 2013

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter / season final: 4.2%; plus Miami falls to Jets 20-7, misses playoffs

1) It is MONDAY, DECEMBER 30. Click on Random Evidence for the latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with Dolphins-Jets, and on Drama Not Done Yet for my column from Orlando off Saturday's Canes bowl beating. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes-Louisville bowl game, season-ending CSM poll & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 16.1%: See blogpost directly below for our final CSM poll results. Figure is lower than I think it should be following a 9-4 season, but I respect the verdict. It reflects the bitter taste of a 36-9 bowl loss. It also reflects that UM once was 7-0 and ranked No. 7 (remember?) for losing four of last six games.

Click on Dolphins Did What They Do: Disappoint for my column from Sunday's season-ending loss. In-game commentary is directly below poll.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G16/SEASON FINAL: Results are in on the latest and last Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 4.2 percent overall satisfaction -- a season-low approval rating -- in the wake of Sunday's 20-7 loss vs. the New York Jets putting the 1aa1dsmDolphins' final season record at 8-8. This is the season-ending poll. The DSM, in its sixth season, is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Because this was the last poll I asked that extra weight be given to the season as a whole. Polls never close, but results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 8:15 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2013 DSM Results

G1: 86.5% (20.3-v, 66.2-s) following 23-10 victory at Cleveland.

G2: 98.8% (71.9-v, 26.9-s) following 24-20 victory at Indianapolis.

G3: 99.0% (78.2-v, 20.8-s) following 27-23 victory vs. Atlanta.

G4: 58.2% (18.8-v, 39.4-s) following 38-17 loss at New Orleans.

G5: 33.5% (4.3-v, 29.2-s) following 26-23 loss vs. Baltimore.

G6: 6.5% (3.8-v, 2.7-s) following 23-21 loss to Buffalo.

G7: 4.7% (3.0-v, 1.7-s) following 27-17 loss at New England.

G8: 50.3% (8.2-v, 42.1-s) following 22-20 OT victory vs. Cincinnati.

G9: 4.7% (3.6-v, 1.1-s) following 22-19 loss at Tampa Bay.

G10: 42.4% (7.2-v, 35.2-s) following 20-16 victory vs. San Diego.

G11: 7.8% (4.0-v, 3.8-s) following 20-16 loss vs. Carolina.

G12: 61.9% (12.3-v, 49.6-s) following 23-3 victory at N.Y. Jets.

G13: 84.9% (28.3-v, 56.6-s) following 34-28 victory at Pittsburgh.

G14: 96.3% (65.-v, 31.0-s) following 24-20 victory vs. New England.

G15: 13.4% (4.3-v, 9.1-s) following 19-0 loss at Buffalo.

G16: 4.2% (2.4-v, 1.8-s) following 20-7 loss vs. N.Y. Jets.

Yearly DSM results:

2013: 4.2% (following 8-8 season)

2012: 29.8% (following 7-9 season)

2011: 34.9% (following 6-10 season)

2010: 3.8% (following 7-9 season)

2009: 31.2% (following 7-9 season)

2008: 96.9% (following 11-5 season/playoff loss)

G16: N.Y. STINKIN' JETS @ DOLPHINS: IT ONLY MEANS EVERYTHING, THAT'S ALL: Final: Tannehill rough day with three INTs and a 42.1 passer rating exemplifies a miserable must-win performance by Miami. Watch for my game column online soon. ...... 4Q: Tannehill intercepted for third time. Done. ... NYJ lead now 20-7 with 26-yard FG with 2:59 to play, set up by Tanny INT. ... Forget about the playoffs. Tannehill intercepted (by old Cane Ed Reed) with 3:59 to play. All over but the cryin'. ... Dolphins down 17-7 with 4:18 left after 35-yard NYJ field goal. Miami playoff hopes on life-support. Priest walking in room. ... Huge gift for Miami as Jets blow 36-yard FG try, wide right. Seemed to go right over upright, a miss by inches if it was really a miss at all. ..... 3Q: Jets driving as quarter ends; MIA playoff hopes in great peril. ..... Tannehill intercepted by Dee Milliner one play after a near-TD into end zone appeared to be catchable but Wallace did not make the play. ... Awful. MIA goes for it on 4th-and-1 from own 48, Charles Clay carries, gets nothing; Jets ball. Dolphins' lack of a running game has become stunning. ..... Half: Miami is getting help in Cincinnati, where the Ravens are down 17-6 at the half. But Miami is not helping itself in Miami in a must-win game. Too little offense. Despite a TD pass Tannehill is only 20-for-22 for 118 yards, and the running game is run-down (again), with 28 yards so far on 13 carries. ..... 2Q: Stinkers up 14-7 three seconds before halftime on Geno Smith pinballing 7-yard run up middle at 0:03. Planes had a timeout left, so not that daring a call. ... NYJ squares it 7-7 on 1-yard run by 300-pound D-lineman Sheldon Richardson. ... Miami 7-0 on Wallace 5-yard TD catch from Tanny. ... Early concern that Hartline knee injury could be serious. His return is called questionable. Don't expect it. ..... 1Q: Dolphins driving, at NYJ 41 as quarter ends. ... Hartline 25-yard catch, but limps off field with tweaked ankle. ... Joe "Red Flag" Philbin wins another challenge for a first down; is now 7-for-8 on challenges this year. ... Oy. Brandon Fields celebrates Pro Bowl selection with 18-yard punt. ..... Pregame: Better than average Dolphins home crowd, but still lots of empty seats in the upper corners -- too many, given the stakes. ... This is when people will try to tell you the Dolphins crowd is "half Jets fans." No, it isn't. My visual guesstimate has it Dolphonics by maybe a 7-1 margin. ..... Original post: Well, being honest here, I am writing this at around 3 a.m. from Orlando, after columnizing off the Hurricanes' awful bowl 1aa1dol16 1aa1dolnyjshow against Louisville, followed by requisite post-game libations. So I hope this makes some sense. I hate the casual, inaccurate use of the phrase "must win" in sports. I love-love-LOVE that today vs. the Jets in the regular-season finale actually IS a must-win for Miami. I love that Miami is in the playoff chase, after last making it in 2008 and last winning a playoff game in 2000. I mean, are we starving over here or what!? All know that Miami must beat the Stinkin' Jets today and then hope either the Ravens lose or the Chargers win. I like all three happening. But that accentuates the fascination  here, which is that a Dolphins playoff berth will be all the more special for the trampling of the hated Jets to get it ... while an elimination at the hands of Rex Ryan's grinning face may be just too much to bear for Dolfans already stinging from last week's shutout loss at  Buffalo. Must win? Oh yes. Literally, figuratively, and every which  way. My pick: Playoffs! Dolphins, 24-20.

Join us here for our live in-game commentary from the stadium...

December 28, 2013

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter / season final: 16.1%; plus UM loses bowl to Louisville 36-9, buried by Bridgewater

1) It is SATURDAY, DECEMBER 28. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Year-end poll: Biggest national sports story of 2013, Dolphins?NFL Week 17 picks, LeBron sucks at golf & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).

Vote: What was biggest national sports story of 2013?: Poll still open. Navigate to the blog post directly below this new one and have your say. Ten choices. You can vote for three.

Click on Drama Not Done for my column from Orlando off Saturday's Canes-Louisville game. And find in-game commentary directly below the poll. 

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: BOWL/FINAL: Results are in on the latest and 2013 final Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 16.1 percent overall satisfaction in the wake of Saturday's 36-9 loss to Louisville in 1aa1csmthe Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando, putting Mami's final season record at 9-4. This was the fifth year for these polls in our blog, and thanks to the thousands of fans who participated. These polls are your invitation after every Hurricanes game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM football fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, program's direction, and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Because this was the final poll, I asked that you please give added weight to the season as a whole. (Not quite sure you did, honestly. I know it's tough to not give disproportionate weight to what just happened). Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 9:15 a.m. today/Monday.

2013 Canesfan Satisfaction Meter

G1: 82.9% (19.9-very, 63.0-somewhat) following 34-6 victory vs. FAU.

G2: 96.7% (71.2-v, 25.5-s) following 21-16 victory vs. Florida.

G3: 95.7% (77.2-v, 18.5-s) following 77-7 victory vs. Savannah State.

G4: 97.6% (67.9-v, 29.7-s) following 49-21 victory at South Florida.

G5: 95.8% (60.4-v, 35.4-s) following 45-30 victory vs. Georgia Tech.

G6: 82.3% (41.8-v, 40.5-s) following 27-23 victory at North Carolina.

G7: 68.4% (31.2-v, 37.2-s) following 24-21 victory vs. Wake Forest.

G8: 65.7% (28.5-v, 37.2-s) following 41-14 loss at Florida State.

G9: 15.1% (4.7-v, 10.4-s) following 42-24 loss vs. Virginia Tech.

G10: 5.7% (2.5-v, 3.2-s) following 48-30 loss at Duke.

G11: 51.1% (6.2-v, 44.9-s) following 45-26 victory vs. Virginia.

G12: 78.0% (21.9-v, 56.1-s) following 41-31 victory at Pitt.

G13: 16.1% (2.7-v, 13.4-s) following 36-9 loss vs. Louisville.

Final season results:

2013: 16.1% overall satisfaction (following 9-4 season)

2012: 80.9% overall satisfaction (following 7-5 season)

2011: 22.1% overall satisfaction (following 6-6 season)

2010: 4.2% overall satisfaction (following 7-6 season)

2009: 41.7% overall satisfaction (following 9-4 season)

BOWL: HURRICANES VS. LOUISVILLE IN ORLANDO: LET ME COUNT THE SUBPLOTS: Final: What can you say? Teddy Bridgewater passed for 447 yards and three TDs, ran for another, and left Miami helpless all night. Now UM fans must decide if they saw an overall positive season this year, or if all theyh can see is the way it ended. My column from Orlando is now online (link above). ..... 4Q: Louisville misses late FG try. Miami still in it! (Sorry). ... Score now 36-9 after Gus Edwards' 2-yard TD run. ... Teddy's 1-yard scoring run on 4th down makes score 36-2. Felt like running up the score. Teddy leaves field mocking UM by making "The U" gesture with his hands, and turning that into a slit-throat gesture. Sad. ..... 3Q: It's now a 29-2 rout on Teddy's 3rd TD throw, this one 24 yards to Senorise Perry, abetted by abysmal non-tackling by UM. ..... Half: Distilling the why on a 22-2 Canes hole at halftime, I would mostly say this: Teddy is 19-for-26 for 231 yards and two TDs for Louisville, and Morris is 6-for-14 for 71 yards and a lost fumble for The U. Teddy is being Teddy, and the Canes offense is being awful. ..... 2Q: Teddy to Michaelee Harris for 13-yard scoring play and 22-2 Louisville lead (the kick was missed) 30 seconds before halftime. ... Canes finally show a spark with Clive Walford's 28-yard catch for a first and goal, but Morris loses fumble when hit in pocket. Awful turnover, terribly timed. ... Miami now 0-for-6 on 3rd downs. Offense sucks at this point. ... L-Ville up 16-2 after Teddy's 26-yard TD pass to DeVante Parker in end zone. He's like Pele' now. No surname needed. Just "Teddy." ... Miami now 0-for-5 on 3rd downs and O-line getting dominated. This will turn lopsided fast if UM offense doesn't find a way. ... Cards add a 42-yard FG for 9-2 lead. Canes defense hanging on, but offense must do something now. Feels like a game that could get out of hand unless Stephen Morris & Company make a stand, pronto. ..... 1Q: Miami defense holding its own vs. Bridgewater in first Q but offense has only 30 net yards on 15 plays. ... Cards add three-run homer I mean 43-yard FG for a 6-3 lead late in quarter. ... Canes didn't make it, but like the go-for-it- call on 4th-and-1 from own 45, even though it set LV up for that FG drive. ... Louisville up by the baseball score of 3-2 with a 36-yard FG. I'd have an "action in both bullpens" line here if it were later in the game. ... Canes 2-0 on safety when Deon Bush sacks Bridgewater in the e-zone. ... "Teddy" chants for Bridgewater. Still think more UM fans here, but Louisville fans seem louder. ..... Pregame post: Visual guesstimate based on orange vs. red in the stands is that UM fans will be in the majority. ... Miami in white uniforms tonight, Louisville in its blood-red duds. ... I'd forgotten what a dump the Florida Citrus Bowl is. The Orange Bowl in its last days was the Taj Mahal compared to this place. ..... Original post: I won't lie and say that being up in Mousetown to columnize off tonight's Russell Athletic Bowl ranks among career highlights, but 1aa1canesbowl13it's a bowl game that means something to the Miami Hurricanes, and so I'm on the trip and happy to be. Louisville (18th-ranked, 11-1) is a 3.5-point favorite over UM (9-3), and with reason. I give the Canes a big upset shot but love the matchup for the subplots. If you don't think this game is huge for Miami, let's count those subplots: UM is in its first bowl since 2010, after the scourge of an NCAA probe and two years of self-imposed bans. Miami last won a bowl game in 2006. A win gives UM its first double-digit-win season, a benchmark, since 2003. The opposing QB, Teddy Bridgewater, is a Miami kid who committed to the Canes but changed his mind when Randy Shannon was fired -- essentially turning his back on Al Golden and the restart. (Bridgewater and UM counterpart Stephen Morris are pictured). A win makes Miami ranked in the final post-bowl polls. Louisville is switching to the ACC so this is the first shot in a budding conference rivalry. And Louisville recruits South Florida heavily so this result carries weight there, too. That enough to chew on? It should be. I see an upset -- if UM can get pressure on Bridgewater, a large if. This bowl game is a letdown for Louisville, which dearly wanted the BCS bid that went to Central Florida. For Miami it's bigger, a deserved reward after all the program has been through. I think the Canes will want this more, and I think that matters in bowls without otherwise obvious stakes. My pick: Upset! Hurricanes, 31-27.

December 27, 2013

What was 2013's biggest national sports story? New poll. Vote now!; plus Dolphins/NFL Week 17 predix, LeBron sucks at something (w/ video) & more

1) It is SATURDAY, DECEMBER 28. Am driving this morning to Orlando, not for Mickey, but for bowling. 2) Condolences to Bobby Bowden and family on the death of his grandson in an auto accident. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Annual Christmas video from me to you, LeBron named AP athlete of year, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, Heat-Lakers, Dolphins' playoff odds & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).

Bowling with Canes, Louisville: Watch for our Miami-Louisville bowl post in the blog starting Saturday afternooon.

Four Dolphins make Pro Bowl: No surprises among C Mike Pouncey, DE Cam Wake, CB Brent Grimes and P Brandon Fields. Congrats to all. 

YOU PICK THE 2013 NATIONAL SPORTS STORY OF THE YEAR: The top 10 stories in our poll are from The 1aa1a2013Associated Press annual ranking, out today. However I have listed them alphabetically in the poll, not in 1-through-10 order, so your vote will be more independent and not influenced by The AP's rank. I am purposely not including a synopsis of each story, figuring that if you need an explanation, the story mustn't have been that big or important to you. VOTE FOR YOUR TOP THREE and check back to monitor evolving results. Ready? Let's go!:

Note: This is a national list, so please endeavor to consider the Heat championship in that broad context. Soon we'll bring you 2013's Greater Miami Top 10 Sports Stories, also with a poll.

UPSET BIRD DAY / WEEK 17 NFL PREDIX: STARS ALIGN, DOLPHINS END PLAYOFF DROUGHT!: It 1aa1fripixhappens. It actually happens. The Dolphins will make the playoffs for the first time since 2008 in search of their first playoff victory since 2000. Must beat Jets Sunday here for that to be possible. Done. Then either the Ravens must lose or the Chargers must win. Done, done. All three will happen. Click on Week 17 Gems for all our full prediction capsules as the NFL regular season wraps up. Click on Dramatic Ending for my Friday Page column on how two winner-take-all games (Packers-Bears, Eagles-Cowboys) highlight a mad scramble among 10 teams seeking four available playoff spots.

1aa1golflebLEBRON JAMES SUCKS AT GOLF: In a new Samsung commercial entitled "Golf Lesson," with comedian Kevin Hart, LeBron James displays a really awful golf swing. Maybe not quite Barkley-bad, but close. Click HERE for the vid.

Click back. Will be updating/adding to this latest blogpost...

December 24, 2013

Happy holidays! Annual Christmas video from me (and friends) to you; plus NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, Heat-Lakers, Dolphins' playoff likelihood & more

1) It is THURSDAY, DECEMBER 26. I'm down in the Friday Page Dungeon today summoning this week's NFL predictions. 2) Hope all of you who celebrated it had a very Merry Christmas! 3) To the e-mailers asking: I have bunch of back-loaded vacation days I need to use before end of year. That's why I have had fewer columns lately. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins fall flat in Buffalo, DSM poll & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).

LeBron's big honor: Heat's LeBron james today named Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year for 2013. Easy choice, and richly deserved.

1aa1blogxmas13OUR ANNUAL CHRISTMAS VIDEO FOR READERS WHO'VE BEEN GOOD: All of you in our Blog Family and readers both online and in print have made it another great year for us, and I am grateful. Thank you. That's me in the middle at right. Got together the other day with four old friends -- Miley Cyrus, Drunk Cartoon Santa, Richie Incognito and LeBron James -- to make this Christmas video. Click HERE and enjoy. Happy holidays to all!

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY / WEEK 16: ENDING ON A POSITIVE NOTE: Blaming the holiday hurly burly 1aa1fripixfor posting this a couple of days later than usual... NFL predix: Only went 8-8 overall this past week on my NFL picks but was an ethereal 12-3-1 against the spread. That included six 'dogs-with-points. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos won again in our consolation-round playoffs, 107-63, to finish fifth in our eight-team league. I ain't braggin'. Congrats to our champion, Bennie & The Jets (Christie Ferrara). Well deserved!osers say, I know.

HEAT-LAKERS. TWO THINGS: First, with Kobe Bryant out injured (again) and the Lakers mediocre, yesterday's game in L.A. hardly was the NBA jewel David Stern envisioned. Second, I don't like sporting events on Christmas. Just don't. It isn't a religious/sacrilege thing with me. I just think there should be a day when even almighty sports rests, and when athletes get to make it about family first, not career.

COMPUTER LIKES RAVENS OVER DOLPHINS FOR LAST PLAYOFF SPOT: You know by now that to make the playoffs the Dolphins must beat the Jets on Sunday and hope either the Ravens or Chargers lose. Five AFC playoff spots are spoken for and four teams are alive for that final No. 6 seed. Here is how the computers at makenflplayoffs.com sees the likelihood: Ravens 43.76 percent, Dolphins 37.46, Chargers 12.58 and Steelers 6.20. So, Dolfan. Feeling lucky?

Click back. Will updating/adding to this latest blogpost...

December 22, 2013

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 13.4%; plus Miami falls at Buffalo 19-0, hopes take hit; updated playoff picture here

1) It is MONDAY, DECEMBER 23. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with the good-old-days feel of the Dolphins and Canes both being relevant in December again. 2) To the e-mailers asking: I have bunch of back-loaded vacation days I need to use before end of year. That's why I have had fewer columns lately. 3)  In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Week 16 predictions, Heat's statement, Duck Dynasty fracas, Free the Nipple movement & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).

"What do you get Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union for a wedding gift? Home Depot gift card? Fondue pot?" --Greg Cote

UPDATED DOLPHINS PLAYOFF PICTURE: Miami must win next week AND hope at least one of two things happens: 1) Ravens lose at Bengals, OR 2) Chargers win vs. Chiefs. (Game blog below poll).

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G15: Results are in on the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 13.4 percent overall satisfaction in the wake of Sunday's 19-0 loss at Buffalo putting the Dolphins' season record 1aadsmat 8-7. That is the lowest approval rating since Game 11. The DSM, in its sixth season, is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Polls never close, but results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that will be around 9 a.m. Tuesday.

2013 DSM Results

G1: 86.5% (20.3-v, 66.2-s) following 23-10 victory at Cleveland.

G2: 98.8% (71.9-v, 26.9-s) following 24-20 victory at Indianapolis.

G3: 99.0% (78.2-v, 20.8-s) following 27-23 victory vs. Atlanta.

G4: 58.2% (18.8-v, 39.4-s) following 38-17 loss at New Orleans.

G5: 33.5% (4.3-v, 29.2-s) following 26-23 loss vs. Baltimore.

G6: 6.5% (3.8-v, 2.7-s) following 23-21 loss to Buffalo.

G7: 4.7% (3.0-v, 1.7-s) following 27-17 loss at New England.

G8: 50.3% (8.2-v, 42.1-s) following 22-20 OT victory vs. Cincinnati.

G9: 4.7% (3.6-v, 1.1-s) following 22-19 loss at Tampa Bay.

G10: 42.4% (7.2-v, 35.2-s) following 20-16 victory vs. San Diego.

G11: 7.8% (4.0-v, 3.8-s) following 20-16 loss vs. Carolina.

G12: 61.9% (12.3-v, 49.6-s) following 23-3 victory at N.Y. Jets.

G13: 84.9% (28.3-v, 56.6-s) following 34-28 victory at Pittsburgh.

G14: 96.3% (65.-v, 31.0-s) following 24-20 victory vs. New England.

G15: 13.4% (4.3-v, 9.1-s) following 19-0 loss at Buffalo.

Next poll: Dec. 29 following game vs. N.Y. Jets

G15: DOLPHINS @ BUFFALO: PLAYOFFS ARE SO CLOSE MIAMI CAN TOUCH 'EM: Final: The Dolphins' worst performance of the season came at the worst possible time, a 19-0 loss at Buffalo seriously damaging Miami's playoff hopes. Tannehill had a nightmare, going 10-for-27 for 82 yards. The running game was all but non-existent. And the defense wasn't very good, either, gouged for more than 200 yards rushing. The playoff picture now? MIA no longer is in charge. Dolphins would be eliminated later today if Ravens win and if Chargers lose. Barring that, Miami would need as win next week and help -- a Ravens loss -- to advance. ..... 4Q: Moore throws second INT. ... Miami finishing game with Moore over Tannehill as precaution. ... Buffs up 19-0 now, late. Done. Awful, ill-timed loss by Dolphins. ... Tannehill back in game after missing a few plays. ... Moore intercepted one play after 49-yard completion to Hartline. ... Tannehill leaves field limping after a sack. Matt Moore in. ... Bison add 21-yard FG for 13-0 lead. Miami's non-existent offense will wake up now, and in a major way, or Dolphins' playoff hopes will take a major hit. ..... 3Q: Nightmare for Hartline. Seven times targeted, 0 catches, two drops -- at least. ... Bills' WR Woods ejected from game for throwing a punch. Miami needs Bills defenders to be ejected the way things are going. ... Terrible offense continues for Miami. It's now eight punts, five sacks allowed. ..... Half: Awful first half for Miami's offense, with 57 net yards, negligible rushing (9 carries, 9 yards) and seven punts. Is Miami fighting for a playoff spot or what? WAKE UP, MIAMI! ..... 2Q: Tannehill takes huge 3rd-down sack on blitz, wasting the Carroll INT. ... Nolan Carroll picks off Thad Lewis. Finally something good happens for Dolphins! ... Another sack allowed, another punt for Dolphins. ... MIA in 10-0 hole after 9-yard Fred Jackson scoring run. A little offense, please? ..... 1Q: Miami in first quarter: Four possessions, 15 net yards, four punts. Awful. ... Sure-handed Brian Hartline with a big miss. ... Rookie Bills WR Robert Woods torches Nolan Carroll for 57-yard pass play; Bills settle for 45-yard FG and 3-0 lead. Joe Philbin lost his first red-flag challenge in series; he's now 6-for-7. ... Two series, two sacks allowed for MIA. Not good. ... Dolphins punt on first series because of sack a bad sign. ..... Original post: Alarming! Alarming? Fire alarm at Dolphins' team hotel in Buffalo went off at 3:30 this morning. Sounds like shenanigans! OK back to football. The Dolphins' recent snowy win in Pittsburgh makes today's frigid, maybe sleety elements in Buffalo seem somewhat less scary, but make no mistake: Winning in upstate New York in December always has been a chore for Miami. Two 1aa1dol15 1aa1dolbuff13other factors give me an uneasy feeling about an upset by the Bills this afternoon. One is that the Bison have an NFL-leading sack attack that, combined with the weather, I think could make it a rough day for Ryan Tannehill. The other factor is just a gut feeling that Miami -- after three straight emotional wins over the hated Jets, at Pittsburgh, and over nemesis New England -- could be simply due a letdown/stumble. Having said all that, Dolphins catch a big break with Buffs starting QB E.J. Manuel and top receiver Stevie Johnson both out. Miami also should enjoy the incentive edge, fighting for that No. 6 AFC playoff seed while all Buffalo is fighting for (as usual) is its draft position. Miami can clinch a playoff spot today if it wins and if the Ravens and Bengals also lose. In any case, Miami is in if it wins today and next week vs. the Stinkin' Jets. So Miami's first playoff berth since 2008 is thisclose ... meaning the failure to get it will be that much more painful. I like Miami's chances of not failing, even as today's playdate makes me nervous. My pick: Dolphins, 23-20.

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December 19, 2013

Dolphins/NFL Week 16 predictions; plus Heat states its case, Duck Dynasty fracas, 'Free the Nipple' movement & more

1) It is SATURDAY, DECEMBER 21. Bowl glut begins! Today are the first four of 35 bowl games, and it'd take a court order to make me watch any of them. 2) To the e-mailers asking: I have bunch of back-loaded vacation days I need to use before end of year. That's why I have had fewer columns lately. 3)  In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Shame and opportunity in Sochi Olympics, first Mock Draft, Google search stats, Dolphins' playoff chances, George Zimmerman's art, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).

Dolphins' Christmas greeting: Click HERE for the official Dolphins' Happy Holidays video. In case you weren't sure who the team considers its biggest stars, the players greeting you are (in order) Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, Cam Wake and Ryan Tannehill.

UPSET BIRD DAY / WEEK 16 NFL PREDIX: WITH DIFFICULTY, DOLPHINS KEEP ROLLING: Dolphins at Buffalo in December with Miami playoff hopes in play. Like Ringo said, you know it don't come easy. 1aa1fripixTwo things worry me. One, the Bills' NFL-leading sackers as much as the elements making it tough on Ryan Tannehill. Two, just this gut feeling that after three straight emotional wins -- vs. the hated Jets, in snowy Pittsburgh, then over the nemesis Pats -- the Dolphins are due a letdown/stumble/return-to-Earth performance. Still like Miami, 23-20, but that's logic talking me out of that gut feeling of an upset. Click on Week 16 Gems for all of our complete prediction capsules, and on Holiday Cheer for my Friday Page NFL notes column, leading with a rose-colored take on why Miami, once in the playoffs, can beat anybody.

1aa1dwadedrivingHEAT SAY HOLD ON YOUNG PACERS, NOT YET, SON: Click HERE for my column from Wednesday night's 97-94 Heat win over the visiting Pacers. In the NBA the challengers, the wanna-be's, seek to make statements in December. The champions make theirs in June. But fans and Your Friend the Media love the concept of "statement games," and so contained in last night's win was the reminder Miami will not cede the East easily, or quietly. The fight for the best record and No. 1 seed is on. Bring it. The inevitable Miami-Indiana Eastern finals will be brutally delicious. And there was this, too, arising from the bayside arena last night: If that Dwyane Wade, healthy and soaring to a season-high 32 points, is the one we see in the playoffs, the Heat can three-peat. Wade is shown driving last night in a shot by staff photog Hector Gabino. That is the Dwyane Wade who drew LeBron James here in the first place, and who might convince him to re-up.

DUCK DYNASTY: PHENOMENON AND FRACAS: [Update: The Duck Dynasty family has produced the T-shirt pictured left to support their suspended brethren. Comeback for the word "Yuppie" is offically launched!] The phenomenon: A ratings-gold A&E reality show about a long-bearded Louisiana family that got rich making duck callers for hunters. Like the pet rock or 1aa1ddphilthat Gangnam Style 1aa1philshirtsinger, Duck Dynasty is one of those things that flare brightly and briefly across the American landscape, loved, then forgotten. It's the Warhol "15 Minutes of Fame" idea. And the clock is now ticking on Duck Dynasty because of ... The Fracas: Family patriarch Phil Robertson (pictured) ranting anti-gay in a GQ interview, calling homosexuality immoral and likening it to bestiality. A&E has now suspended Phil indefinitely; click HERE for the story. Meanwhile Phil met the predictable backlash by explaining he's an old hippie who got over drugs by embracing God, and that the Bible says man should be with woman. OK, whatever. That's in no way an apology, but it's a free country with free speech. The man is entitled to his beliefs. The thing is, folks like Phil always seem surprised by the consequences of those beliefs, surprised to learn that most Americans are intolerant of intolerance, and that using ancient Scriptures to justify modern-day bigotry doesn't fly with the grace of, say, a duck.

ON THE 'FREE THE NIPPLE' MOVEMENT: Yes, there is such a thing, and it went from obscure to talked-about when Miley Cyrus recently Tweeted in support of it. Talk about advertising! If your cause is 1aa1freeniptoplessness and Miley supports you, that's like owning a restaurant and having Bobby Flay rave about it. Gold! Anyway, Free the Nipple is the name of a documovie in the making (scene from shooting pictured left) by L.A. filmmaker and political activist Lina Esco, 28. It posits that women should be allowed to be topless whenever and wherever they wish as an equality issue, because men can, and because society should be concerned with violence, not nipples. I can already hear a national chorus of Red-Blooded Males shouting "WHOOO!" in lusty support of the movement. I would add two thoughts: First, being real here, there are legions of perverts and would-be rapists whose addled minds surely would take widespread female toplessness as an invitation for their creepdom. Second, rather than toplessness being OK for either 1aa1fatsex, I'd just as soon it be banned for both. That way the hairy-chested, morbidly obese man who jogs shirtless through my neighborhood would be made to throw on a tent shirt. I cannot honestly say that seeing a woman I don't know topless would outweigh the delight in not seeing the man pictured at right in all his shirtless glory. Nipples of either gender are not obscene, no. But neither is modesty a dirty word.

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December 17, 2013

Sochi Olympics: Shame and opportunity; plus Heat, Dolphins star in 2013 Google searches; '14 Mock Draft, Fins' playoff shot, Zimmerman art & more

It's Radio Wednesday!: They haven't fired me yet,  so I'm back in-studio with the Dan Le Batard Show today from 3 to 7 p.m. on 790 and 104.3 The Ticket, 4-7 on ESPN national radio.

1) It is WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 18. Click on Random Evidence for the latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with Heat-Pacers II. 2) To the several e-mailers who are asking: I have bunch of back-loaded vacation days I need to use before end of year. That's why I have had fewer columns lately. 3)  In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins beat Patriots, DSM poll, Incognito news & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).

LeBron questionable for Pacers game Wednesday: James missed yesterday's light Heat practice with a sore ankle and is questionable for the game vs. Indiana here tonight.

Dolphins will clinch a playoff spot this coming Sunday if...: ...Miami wins at Buffalo, Baltimore loses to New England, and Cincinnati loses to Minnesota. All three must happen.

SOCHI OLYMPICS: THE SHAME AND OPPORTUNITY: [Update: U.S. Olympic delegation at Opening and Closing ceremonies will include gay athletes, Billie Jean King among them]. The Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia are less than two months away. By degrees the world's sporting eyes will turn there, and what will be seen won't be all

1aa1sochi 1aa1sochi1pleasant, despite the Russian government's wishes and attempts at propaganda. Click HERE for a story about the Sochi governent's recent crackdown and harrassment of local activists protesting the Olympics' negative impact on the environment. The group Human Rights Watch has become involved to condemn the actions and accuse the government of treating activists like terrorists. Of course, the broader spotlight the Olympics will shine on Russia will help expose the country's human rights violations when it comes to gays. Pictured: The official Sochi Games logo, and a protest poster. Vladimir Putin sign into law a ban on "homosexual propaganda," seen as an umbrella law tantamount to criminalizing gays. Elton John, performing in Moscow this month despite protests, dedicated his concert to a young Russian who had been murdered because he was gay, and John spoke out from the stage against the law, calling it "inhumane." President Obama does not plan to attend the Olympics; the presidents of Germany and France already have said they will not. Soon Olympic athletes can make a statement of their own, one more literal. An Olympic torch of sorts will be handed to them. Skier Bode Miller already has called Russia's anti-gay law "absolutely embarrassing." Olympic athletes from here will have a unique worldwide platform, voice and opportunity to speak up for human rights. Perhaps it is generally impolite to criticize one's hosts, but if there is an exception to that, a Winter Olympics in Russia may be it.

THE FIRST 2014 MOCK DRAFT!: It begins. ESPN's Todd McShay beats the crowd with his 1.0 Mock today, and it has UM bowl foe Teddy Bridgewater, the Louisville QB, going No. 1 overall. Also notable: UCF's Blake Bortles No. 3, Johnny Manziel No. 4, Florida D-lineman Dominique Easley 21st, FSU defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan 22nd -- the the Dolphins -- FSU receiver Kelvin Benjamin 27th and Florida cornerback Marcus Roberson 29th. No Canes pegged 1R. As for the Dolphins top-picking a defensive tackle? Doubt it. A lot.

HEAT TITLE, DOLPHINS' BULLYGATE DRIVE 2013 SEARCHES: Google released its annual info on 2013 searches, with some interesting stuff from a Miami vantage. No surprise that LeBron James was the most-searched NBA player or that the double-champion Heat were the most-search NBA team. But the usually under-the-radar Dolphins are the third-most-searched NFL team, with Bullygate the obvious impetus. You want further proof? Richie Incognito turns up No. 7 among overall top athlete searches. Top searches by category:

1aa1ahernTop overall athlete searches: 1. Aaron Hernandez, Patriots accused murderer (pictured); 2. Adrian Peterson, Vikings; 3. Kevin Ware, Louisville guard who broke leg in NCAA Tournament ; 4. Jason Collins, NBA player who came out as gay; 5. Oscar Pistorius, "Blade Runner" charged with murder; 6. Lamar Odom, Kardashian-involved basketball player; 7. Incognito, Dolphins' accused bully; 8. Ray Lewis, Ravens champion; 9. Colin Kaepernick, 49ers; and 10. Lindsey Vonn, skiier and Tiger Woods' squeeze.

Top NFL searches: Players--Lewis, Peterson, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Kaepernick. Team--Ravens, Seahawks, Dolphins, 49ers, Falcons. Top NBA searches: Players--LeBron, Jeremy Lin, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard. Teams--Heat, Pelicans, Warriors, Spurs, Rockets. Top MLB searches: Players--Alex Rodriguez, Miguel Cabrera, Bryce Harper, Yasiel Puig, Derek Jeter. Teams--Red Sox, Pirates, Braves, Indians, Rays.     

DOLPHINS' PLAYOFFS CHANCES PUT AT 56 PERCENT, BUT...: That's the good news. Makenflplayoffs.com computers say Miami has a 56.39 percent likelihood to make the playoffs. The bad news? That still ranks seventh in the jockeying for six AFC spots. Colts, Broncos and Chiefs already have clinched, then it's Patriots 98.46%, Bengals 79.78, Ravens 63.21 -- after last night's win -- then Dolphins. Miami clinches by winning its last two games, but that eventually hardly is a slam dunk.

1aa1artzimGEORGE ZIMMERMAN, ARTIST: Multi-talented George Zimmerman, who shot Trayvon Martin to death, has an original painting (pictured) for sale on eBay, and it mortifies and saddens me to say the bidding is around $100,000.

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY / WEEK 15: STAYING HOT ON PICKS, TOO LITTLE TOO LATE IN FANTASY: Cut to 1aa1fripixthe chase... NFL predix: I went 10-6 overall this past week and a buoyant 9-6-1 against the spread (with one game off the board when I picked it). Nailed the Dolphins' upset win. Also bull's-eyed my Upset of the Week with Steelers over Bengals. "Aaawwwk!" Fantasy: Greg's Lobos won big in our consolation-round playoffs, 157-81, fueled by Dez Bryant and the Seahawks defense. That 157 was more than anybody in our championship round scored. Which is what losers say, I know.

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December 15, 2013

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 96.3%; plus Miami, Tannehill beat Patriots 24-20, take charge in playoff chase; also, Incognito news

1) It is SUNDAY, DECEMBER 15. Click on Random Evidence for yesterday's latest Sunday notes-column package, leading with Heat-Pacers II. 2) To the several e-mailers who are asking: I have bunch of back-loaded vacation days I need to use before end of year. That's why I have had fewer columns lately. 3)  In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Winston and Heisman, Dolphins/NFL Week 15 pix, breaking fantasy hearts, Heat three-peat result & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).

Incognito update: The Dolphins and guard Richie Incognito mutually agreed today to extend his suspension through the NFL Bullygate investigation. The significance: It continues to suggest there is a possibility Miami will reinstate Incognito IF the league investigation is not overly damning to him.

Click on Statement for my column from yesterday's Dolphins win.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G14: Results are in on the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 96.3 percent overall satisfaction in the wake of Sunday's 24-20 victory vs. New England putting the 1aadsmDolphins' season record at 8-6. That is the team's best approval rating since Game 3. The DSM, in its sixth season, is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Polls never close (you may still vote), but results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 9 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2013 DSM Results

G1: 86.5% (20.3-v, 66.2-s) following 23-10 victory at Cleveland.

G2: 98.8% (71.9-v, 26.9-s) following 24-20 victory at Indianapolis.

G3: 99.0% (78.2-v, 20.8-s) following 27-23 victory vs. Atlanta.

G4: 58.2% (18.8-v, 39.4-s) following 38-17 loss at New Orleans.

G5: 33.5% (4.3-v, 29.2-s) following 26-23 loss vs. Baltimore.

G6: 6.5% (3.8-v, 2.7-s) following 23-21 loss to Buffalo.

G7: 4.7% (3.0-v, 1.7-s) following 27-17 loss at New England.

G8: 50.3% (8.2-v, 42.1-s) following 22-20 OT victory vs. Cincinnati.

G9: 4.7% (3.6-v, 1.1-s) following 22-19 loss at Tampa Bay.

G10: 42.4% (7.2-v, 35.2-s) following 20-16 victory vs. San Diego.

G11: 7.8% (4.0-v, 3.8-s) following 20-16 loss vs. Carolina.

G12: 61.9% (12.3-v, 49.6-s) following 23-3 victory at N.Y. Jets.

G13: 84.9% (28.3-v, 56.6-s) following 34-28 victory at Pittsburgh.

G14: 96.3% (65.-v, 31.0-s) following 24-20 victory vs. New England.

Next poll: Dec. 22 following game at Buffalo.

G14: NEW ENGLAND @ DOLPHINS: STADIUM, FULL. HOPES, HIGH. VICTORY, HUGE: Final: Tannehill outduels Brady and Dolphins (at least temporarily) own the No. 6 AFC playoff seed. ..... 4Q: Michael Thomas, signed this week, seals it with an end-zine INT of Brady. ... Tannehill 14-yard TD pass to Marcus Thigpen and 24-20 MIA lead with 1:15 left. Clutch! What a day by Tanny. ... Brilliant drive by Brady ends with 24-yard TD pass to Julian Edelman, abetted by bad Dolphin tackling, and Pats back up 20-17 with 4:07 left. ... Pats within 17-13 on 23-yard FG, mid-quarter. Not bad for MIA. NE had 1st and 10 at 13 but were forced to settle. ... Miami up 17-10, first lead of game, on Tannehill 2-yard TD flip to Daniel Thomas. ..... 3Q: MIA threatening to take first lead -- 2nd and goal at 2 -- as quarter ends. ... Good news? Dolphins tie it 10-10 on 32-yard FG. Bad news? Had a 1st-and-10 at 20 and fizzled/settled. ... Pats open second half by missing a 48-yard FG try wide left. ..... Half: Odd game. Felt like Patriots dominated, but that late Tanny-Wallace scoring play made it a whole new game. QBs going toe to toe. Brady 14-18 for 130 yards, 115.3 rating; Tannehill 12-19, 171, 109.8; both with a TD pass. ..... 2Q: Whole new game! Tannehill-to-Wallace 39-yard TD pass makes it 10-7 32 seconds before halftime. ... Miami in a 10-0 hole after 13-yard Brady scoring pass to one "Michael Hoomanawanui." ... Dolphins botch 42-yard FG try when snap catches holder Brandon Fields unprepared to catch it. On 4th-and-1 from 24, gloing for it might have been the play. ..... 1Q: Pats drive 16 plays, 83 yards, 7-plus minutes but settle for 22-yard FG and 3-0 lead. ... Guesstimate based on visual evidence is maybe 15-20 percent of fans here are Patriots backers. ..... Original post: Every game and result are defining when you're in a playoff chase like Miami is, and so today's test is magnified well beyond just it being a division 

1aa1dol14 1aa1dolpats13
rivalry. The stadium figures to be uncommonly full. It will sound and feel like a playoff game, and should. Dolphins and Baltimore both are 7-6 and tied for that No. 6 AFC seed, though the Ravens enjoy the tiebreaker edge. But Baltimore faces a game it is favored to lose Monday night at Detroit, so Miami would be in great shape to likely take over control of its own fortunes with a victory over New England today. I think it will happen. Tom Brady missing Rob Gronkowski (again) is big. Miami's resilient O-line has been protecting Ryan Tannehill much better lately. And all three of the Pats' losses have been on the road. Make it four. My pick: Dolphins, 27-23.

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December 13, 2013

Dear Moralists: Winston deserves Heisman, and your benefit of doubt; plus Dolphins/NFL Week 15 predix (good news), Heat three-peat result & more

1aa1fri13th1) It is SATURDAY, DECEMBER 14. Did you survive yesterday? The superstition and fear of Friday the 13th is sometimes called paraskevidekatriaphobia, and its believers triskaidekaphobes. 2) To the e-mailers asking, I have bunch of back-loaded vacation days I need to use before end of year. That's why I have had fewer columns lately. 3)  In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Heat quarter-mark poll, Marlins trade, Dear Greg & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).

WINSTON DESERVES BENEFIT OF DOUBT AS HE MUCH AS HE DOES THE HEISMAN: Last night in New York they announced Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston as the landslide Heisman Trophy winner, 1aa1j-winas expected. He deserved it. He is the indispensable catalyst for the No.1 college football team in America. There are plenty who are bemoaning the vote result, though, and trying to apply an asterisk. These are the Moralists. They think that because Winston was investigated in a sexual assualt case -- never charged, let alone never convicted, but investigated -- that he does not merit the holy company of the Heisman. That's bulls---. The presumption of innocence applies here. There are two people on Earth who truly know if Winston is guilty or innoncent or the shades of gray that sometimes exist in between. Those two people do not include you or I.

UPSET BIRD DAY: WEEK 15 NFL PREDIX: DOLPHINS BEAT BRADY, BELICHICK: Patriots at Dolphins, in 1aa1fripixDecember, with playoffs on the line. Doesn't get much better than this, folks. (Dolfans, y'all better fill that damn stadium!) I like Miami in a home-'dog upset. Pats' luck in overcoming big deficits exposes a flawed team, now weaker with Rob Gronkowski's latest injury. Click on Week 15 Gems for full prediction capsules on the Dolphins and all other games, and on Broncos' Record Pursuit for our Friday Page NFL notes column. (Denver remains on pace to set the NFL scoring record even after last night). My week got off to a split start. I wrongly had Denver winning, but rightly had San Diego with the points.

MANNING BREAKS A MILLION HEARTS: You could almost hear it Thursday night. The air leaving a million deflated fantasy owners as their playoff hopes sank. Peyton Manning, consensus No. 1 scorer in fantasy football this season, managed only 17 points (at least in my league) last night, less than half of what his owners surely hoped.

Poll result: Heat three-peat hopes take a hit, but still buoyant: We asked in the last blogpost, at the quarter-mark of the NBA season, if you thought the Heat would win a third straight championship -- yes or no -- and 68.2 percent said yes. (You may still vote). We'd asked the same question just before the season started and then it was 83.0% yes.

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