November 21, 2017

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 3.6%. Approval rating stays in gutter; plus Miami falls late to Bucs, 30-20, for 4th straight loss; also, Truex wins NASCAR at Homestead and my Dale Jr. column, my Canes football column, latest Hot Button Top 10 & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is MONDAY, NOVEMBER 20. Holiday season! Give the Dolfan on your list the gift of my book on the club's first half-century. Click Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes beat Virginia for 10-0 with CSM poll, FIU handles FIU, other state Collball & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

New Dolphins column: Click Gase Must Find A Way for the latest from me on the Dolphins' woes. 

On Hurricanes' 44-28 Saturday win: Click on Heart and Fight Keep Canes' Perfect Dream Alive for my column from stadium on Saturday's comeback win by No. 3 and now 10-0 UM.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G10: 3.6%: Results are certified in the latest installment of the Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 3.6 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday afternoon's 30-20 Dolphins home loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers putting Miami's season record at 4-6. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its 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. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:45 a.m. today/Tuesday.

 
2017 game-by-game DSM results
G1: 81.9% (following 19-17 victory at L.A. Chargers)
G2: 4.8% (following 20-6 loss at N.Y. Jets)
G3: 3.8% (following 20-0 loss vs. New Orleans in London)
G4: 9.9% (following 16-10 victory vs. Tennessee)
G5: 79.7% (following 20-17 victory at Atlanta)
G6: 86.1% (following 31-28 victory vs. N.Y. Jets)
G7: 6.1% (following 40-0 loss at Baltimore)
G8: 13.1% (following 27-24 loss vs. Oakland)
G9: 3.5% (following 45-21 loss at Carolina)
G10: 3.6% (following 30-20 loss vs. Tampa Bay)
Next poll: Nov. 26 (following game at New England)

G10: TAMPA BAY AT DOLPHINS: MIAMI LOSES 4TH STRAIGHT, FALLS TO 4-6: Miami trailed 20-7 early, fought back to tie it 20-20 but lost on a 35-yard Bucs FG in the closing seconds followed by a fumble-TD on the final play. Fins had rallied behind Matt Moore after Jay Cutler (with three first-half INTs) left with a concussion. Original post: This is the season opener Hurricane Irma blew away and postponed 'til now -- what should have been a bye week for both teams. Instead the delayed meeting finds Fins and Bucs each slogging through disappointing seasons. Tampa just Tbmiaextricated from a five-game losing streak and now is without injured QB Jameis Winston. Miami was sailing along at 4-2 despite bad offense, but then came that 0-3 skid by a combined 112-45 score in consecutive prime-time pratfalls. Dolphins are only one game off playoff pace in the weak AFC but it feels worse, leading coach Adam Gase this week to say of his team: "It's not a total disaster everywhere." How's that for a positive spin! Such a rallying cry! It's hard to decide which team is worse right now, so this is a rare pick-'em game -- at least it was when I picked it -- though Miami opened a 2 1/2-point favorite and on Sunday morning I found both TB and MIA favored by 1 point in various lines. Not sure I get why Fins are not a three-point pick because team seem even. Jay Cutler vs. Ryan Fitzpatrick may be a push, but I anticipate a big bounceback performance at home by Miami's defense, which was embarrassed in that 40-0 loss at Baltimore and maybe even moreso in the 45-21 shellacking in Carolina Monday night. Against a Bucs squad that is 0-4 on the road, look for the Dolphins to shake their lapse into awfulness and get back to being average. Both teams share desperation,with LB Rey Maualuga's recent arrest and fast firing only adding to Gase's trying season. As the city swoons over the unbeaten Hurricanes, the Dolphins sincerely need a W to get folks caring again. My pick: Dolphins, 21-20. (Click Week 11 Gems for all our latest picks).

Nascar HomesteadNASCAR CROWNS TRUEX CHAMP, JUNIOR BIDS FAREWELL AT HOMESTEAD: My Dale Jr. column from the track. Click Truex Jr. Takes Trophy, But Dale Jr. Wins The Day. The four drivers running for the NASCAR season championship today -- Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski and Martin Truex -- do not, for me, include any transcendent star of particular interest. But the fact this is Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s final race before retiring adds a compelling layer to the day. I'll be down there columnizing. Gentleman, start your laptop!

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (NOVEMBER 19): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES: No. 3 Canes rally to beat Virginia in home finale: ACC title game, first 10-win season since 2003 and angling for College Football Playoff all say Miami is back. Saturday's third straight huge home crowd for the 44-28 win says Canes fans are back, too.

2. NASCAR: Truex wins title, Junior wins hearts at Homestead: Martin Truex beat fellow finalists Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski for the season championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway, but Dale Earnhardt Jr. won hearts and the day in his final race before retiring.

3. MARLINS: Trade-rumored Stanton wins NL MVP: Giancarlo Stanton joins Dan Marino (1984) and LeBron James (2012, '13) as only Miami athletes to win their sport's top individual award. Just one more reason we'll miss him when (if) he's gone.

4. DOLPHINS: Fins fall to Tampa, lose fourth straight: Miami has now been outscored 142-65 in a four-game skid including Sunday's 30-20 loss to visiting Tampa Bay. At 4-6 and with the schedule now really toughening, wave bye-bye to realistic playoff hopes.

5. HEAT: Wanted: Signs Miami is above average: Heat is 7-9 with Sunday's loss to Indiana, after last season's .500 finish. When will Miami leave Mediocreville and be relevant again? Wednesday visit by really-good Boston will tell us how good Heat is ... or isn't.

6. SOCCER: Two huge omissions as World Cup field set: The 32-nation field for the 2018 men's soccer World Cup in Russia is now set, with the draw scheduled for Dec. 1. Italy and the United States were the two most notable teams to fail to qualify. You'd think Putin could have snuck the U.S. in as a favor to Trump, no? 

7. SHULA BOWL: FAU handles FIU in rivalry renewal: The 16th annual Shula Bowl found host FAU clobbering FIU 52-24, Lane Kiffin besting Butch Davis in a duel of two veteran coaches who have turned around those programs in their first seasons at the schools.

8. UM BASKETBALL: Canes men rise in polls: Jim Larranaga's guys have started 3-0 and risen two spots to No. 11 in the polls entering Wednesday's game vs. LaSalle. Season's first big test: Nov. 29 at No. 14 Minnesota.

9. PANTHERS: Hey don't forget about us, say Cats: Florida fell to 7-13 with Sunday's loss in Anaheim. Inconsistent Cats need to make a run (a skate?) to earn attention of more than diehards in South Florida.

10. TENNIS: Serena gets married: Tennis star Serena Williams married Alexis Ohanian in a fairy-tale, Beauty and the Beast-themed wedding in New Orleans. They'd recently had a baby girl together. The baby is the early betting favorite to win Wimbledon in 2038.

Missing the HB10 cut: The Jerry Jones-Roger Goodell feud is getting nasty. On the bright side, it's a diversion from counting players who took a knee during the anthem ..... Bucs QB Jameis Winston is accused of grabbing the crotch of a female Uber driver. And, yes, that is worse than stealing crab claws ..... Dear Media Colleagues: A special request? Quit interviewing, quoting and broadcasting LaVar Ball. Thank you. Carry on.
 

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

October 28, 2017

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 6.1%. Huge 80-point drop following Fins' embarrassing 40-0 loss in Baltimore; plus our postgame observations, NFL Week 8 picks, The List (Fins on Thursdays), ode to Fats Domino & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is FRIDAY, OCTOBER 27. Know any people who are serious Dolfans despite last night? Surprise and delight them with our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Herald NFL QB rankings, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy results, SOPY standings & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

NEW: QUICK-HIT OBSERVATIONS ON DOLPHINS' 40-0 THURSDAY LOSS: Click Dolphins Debacle. Fins last night in Baltimore embarked upon three consecutive prime-time games -- a franchise first. With the nation watching, this is Miami's chance to get the elusive credit and respect it thinks it is due, with a 4-3 record even after last night's collapse. The national stage is yours, Miami. Last night they fell from it. For the challenge moving forward, click Time Is Right For Dolphins To Prove Doubters Wrong.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G7: 6.1%: Results are certified in the latest installment of the Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 6.1 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Thursday Dsmnight's 40-0 Dolphins loss at the Baltimore Ravens putting Miami's season record at 4-3. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its 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. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 8:30 a.m Saturday.
 
G1: 81.9% (following 19-17 victory at L.A. Chargers)
G2: 4.8% (following 20-6 loss at N.Y. Jets)
G3: 3.8% (following 20-0 loss vs. New Orleans in London)
G4: 9.9% (following 16-10 victory vs. Tennessee)
G5: 79.7% (following 20-17 victory at Atlanta)
G6: 86.1% (following 31-28 victory vs. N.Y. Jets)
G7: 6.1% (following 40-0 loss at Baltimore)
Next poll: Nov. 5 (following game vs. Oakland)

UPSET BIRD DAY IN AMERICA! NFL WEEK 8 PICKS: HOPING OUR FINS-RAVENS FORECAST WAS NO HARBINGER...: I predicted Miami would win in Baltimore Fripixlast night, 20-16, in a small upset. The Dolphins lost, 40-0. Oops! Nobody has been this wrong since New Coke, or that time I predicted the Internet would never catch on. This is what I get for having faith (even a little) in the Dolphins. But, we carry on! Click Week 8 Gems for our predix capsules on our Game of the Week (Broncos-Chiefs), Upset of the Week (Steelers-Lions: "Aawwk!") and the rest. It can only go up from here. By the way, if you wondered, 40-0 was the fifth-worst loss numerically in franchise history. Biggest margin of defeat remains the 62-7 playoff loss at Jacksonville to end 1999 season. This was Miami's worst shutout loss since 41-0 at Indianapolis in '97.

G7: DOLPHINS AT BALTIMORE: START OF PRIME-TIME TRIFECTA (WAS) A HUGE CHANCE FOR MIAMI: Original post: The 4-2 Dolphins are 3-point underdogs at the 3-4 Ravens for Thursday Night Football tonight starting at 8:25 on CBS and NFL Network, where you'll be watching if you wish to avoid Tony Romo incessantly predicting what Miabalthe next play will be. King Sport Week 8 kicks off with a matchup that should satisfy those in the mood for a low-scoring game between two lurching offenses and two teams trying to prove they’re playoff-caliber against prevailing doubts about that. The week also kicks off with an upset, it says here. “AAAWWWK!” Baltimore is favored less for the home field than for the recent series trend, with Ravens a nemesis that has beaten Miami in six of past seven meetings dating to 2008. Baltimore is not favored on merit, or shouldn't be. The fact they’re favored at all verifies my latest column’s point that Nobody Believes In The Dolphins. This first of three straight prime-time games for Miami -- a franchise first -- offers a unique chance for the Dolphins to go get (earn) the national credit and respect they believe is due. The sinking Crows are on a 1-4 skid because Joe Flacco has been close to awful and because a once-vaunted defense is dead-last in the NFL in stopping the run. And now the Crabcakers are beat up with injuries on both their offensive line and receivers corps. Contrarily, Miami has won three straight and brings a solid defense that should continue Flacco’s woes. And if Jay Ajayi isn’t the league’s No. 1 fantasy running back this week, he’s close. BAL coach John Harbaugh called Matt Moore a “great quarterback” to reporters on a conference call this week, presumably to muffled laughter. Moore isn’t great, of course. But he’s good enough. And probably better than Flacco right now. Meanwhile Romo will be up in the CBS booth predicting every play. Wish he’d been available this week to tell me who’s going to win, but I’m on my own there. Does this pick mean I’m totally sold on the Dolphins as a good team? No. Not as much as it means I think the Ravens are not right now. My pick: Upset! Dolphins, 20-16.

THE LIST: DOLPHINS' THURSDAY NIGHT HISTORY: Last night marked only Miami's 12th all-time game on a Thursday night. Dolphins are now 6-6 overall, 5-2 at home and 1-4 away. The chronology:

Year    Opponent            Result

1979    vs. Patriots         W 39-24

1980    vs. Chargers       L 27-24 (OT)

1981    vs. Steelers        W 30-10

1990    vs. Patriots         W17-10

2006    @ Steelers          L 28-17

2009    @ Panthers         W 24-17

2010    vs. Bears            L 16-0

2012    @ Bills                L 19-14

2013    vs. Bengals         W22-20 (OT)

2014    vs. Bills               W 22-9

2015    @ Patriots           L 36-7

2017    @ Ravens            L 40-0 

ODE TO FATS DOMINO, 1928-2017: New Orleans legend Antoine (Fats) Domino died yesterday at 89. He put 35 records in the Billboard Top 40 including the classics Blueberry Hill and Ain't That a Shame. Domino also has a place as one of the originators of modern rock 'n roll. In fact the song below, The Fat Man, from 1949, is credited by some as the first rock n roll record. The song was adapted from Champion Jack Dupree's blues song, Junker Blues, recorded in 1940, but Fats made it his own, and it launched a career that would see him a major player in pop and R&B music in the 1950s and into the early '60s. R.I.P., Fats. Your music lives on...

Select other recent columns: The Godfather Speaks (Pat Riley exclusive). Latest Drama in Bizarre, Trying Season (Dolphins' Snortgate). It Isn't Just Cutler (Dolphins' offense woes). Back On Track & Ready To Roar (Florida Panthers). Jeter Betting On Jeter (Marlins)Also: Hope That Wasn't GoodbyeChasing HistoryWade Will End Where He BelongsLarranaga Has Canes Flying High, Now ThisRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Really Good or God-Awful, Cutler Won't Be DullA Perspective On Sports As a Hurricane Hits. Specials: Thank You, Mae RibackThank You, Edwin Pope.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

October 17, 2017

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 79.7%. Huge spike in DSM approval after upset in Atlanta; plus Fins stun Falcons 20-17 with rally as offense, defense come alive; also, see who's No. 1 and what falls where in latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is MONDAY, OCTOBER 16. Know any people who are serious Dolfans? Surprise and delight them with our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes' 'minor miracle' beats Georgia Tech with CSM poll, other state Collball & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Sunday column on Canes' huge win over Georgia TechClick Minor Miracle Bails Out Richt's Gamble for my column from Saturday's 25-24 UM triumph keeping The U unbeaten. Also, voting continues in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter poll, both in the blogpost directly below and here.

Vote in DSM poll online, too: Click here.

DOLPHINS RALLY, STUN FALCONS IN ATLANTA, 20-17: The Dolphins' huge second half Sunday in Atlanta beats the Falcons 20-17 to complete an exhilarating weekend of football for South Florida fans, after the Hurricanes beat Georgia Tech 25-24 the day before. What a second half by Miami in recovering from a 17-0 deficit Sunday. Whatever Adam Gase said at the half, bottle it and sell it. Jay Cutler and offense came alive with two touchdown passes and the defense arose to limit Atlanta to 106 total yards after halftime. Fins now 3-2 after the upset of the season in the NFL, with Miami a 14-point road underdog coming in. This will alleviate tremendous heat from Cutler. I'd predicted that Miami would lose narrowly (I said 27-23) but with an effort that would see a wakeup by the offense and be encouraging to fans. Now let's see how encouraged fans really are with the latest DSM poll. Vote now.

DsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G5: 79.7%: Results are certified in the latest installment of the Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 79.7 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 20-17 upset victory at the Atlanta Falcons putting Miami's season record at 3-2. That's a huge spike from three straight weeks in single digits. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its 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. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:30 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2017 Game-by-Game DSM Results:
G1: 81.9% (following 19-17 victory at L.A. Chargers)
G2: 4.8% (following 20-6 loss at N.Y. Jets)
G3: 3.8% (following 20-0 loss vs. New Orleans in London)
G4: 9.9% (following 16-10 victory vs. Tennessee)
G5: 79.7% (following 20-17 victory at Atlanta)
Next poll: Oct. 22 (following game vs. N.Y. Jets)

G5: DOLPHINS AT ATLANTA: SEE ENCOURAGING SIGNS FOR MIAMI, EVEN IN DEFEAT: Final thoughts: What a second half by Miami in recovering from a 17-0 deficit. Whatever Adam Gase said at the half, bottle it and sell it. Jay Cutler and offense came alive with two touchdown passes and the defense arose to limit Atlanta to 106 total yards after halftime. Fins now 3-2 after the upset of the season in the NFL, with Miami a 14-point road underdog coming in. This will alleviate tremendous heat from Cutler ..... 4Q: Jones interception inside final minute denies Atlanta tying FG try, seals 20-17 upset, comeback win for Miami! ... Fins take first lead 20-17 on Parkey 38-yard FG with just over 2 minutes left in regulation ... MIA ties it 17-17 on Parkey 49-yard FG after big 4th-down gamble and conversion ... Momentum is all Miami's right now. Fins with ball near midfield after muffed Falcons punt play ..... 3Q: MIA within 17-14 on Cutler-Landry 7-yard TD pass after roughing penalty negates Cutler scrimmage-line interception ... Pouncey out under concussion protocol. Cannot keep that man on the damned field! ... Gase sticks with Cutler and it pays off. MIA with 17-7 on his 11-yard scoring pass to Stills ..... Halftime thoughts: How much longer will Gase's support for Cutler continue? QB is 8-for-14 for 64 yards and a pick (39.0 rating) in half as offensive woes go on. Ajayi (11 carries, 71 yards) the lone bright spot. Not even the defense (233 yards allowed) is playing great. If Cutler cannot lead this offense to the end zone, why not try Moore? ..... 2Q: ATL misses 59-yard FG to end half ... Miami driving to finally score (seemingly), but Cutler picked off at Atlanta 10. Ugh ... ATL 17-0 on Coleman 6-yard scoring run. My forecast of a close game and an encouraging Dolphins effort not coming true -- so far. Still early ... It failed, but totally agree with MIA going for it on 4th-and-3 from ATL 39 ..... Ajayi  1Q: Ajayi 51 rush yards on five carries the 1Q bright spot for MIA ... Ryan 40-yard scoring strike to hall and 10-0 Falcs lead ... ATL 3-0 on opening-drive 50-yard FG ..... Pregame: Final betting line at Falcons by 14. Wow. The 2-2 Dolphins being treated like 0-4 out of Vegas ... WR Parker notable among inactives today, a hinderance to MIA upset chances ..... Original post: Miami rarely finds itself the week's biggest NFL underdog -- that's why the Browns and Jets were invented! -- but it does this week, by 11 1/2 points, and, alas, with fair reason. The 3-1 Atlanta Falcons are coming off a bye week and Miaatlexpect to have two key players, receiver Julio Jones and sackman Vic Beasley, back from injury. The 2-2 Miami Dolphins are coming off a week in which the two biggest topics of distracting conversation (not necessarily in this
G5order) were Jay Cutler's tepid, barely scoring offense, and the assistant coach forced to resign in shame over a cocaine/stripper scandal. Still, I like Miami with the points in this 1 p.m. CBS tilt and give the Fins a medium shot at an outright upset, believe it or not. Atlanta is not invincible; it lost its last game at home to Buffalo, 23-17. Falcons' defense is good but not great; Miami's may be better. Jay Ajayi should find the running easier than Devonta Freeman will. I cannot bring myself to predict what might be the league's biggest upset of Week 6. But I do foresee a performance that may encourage Dolfans, even in defeat. Have you ever experienced a 2-2 start enveloped in such gloom? Miami will gradually find itself offensively, and there should be signs here. And I believe this team has the coaching, leadership and lockerroom mettle to not only overcome this week's Snortgate scandal, but maybe even to use it as coalescing fuel. Let's see if I'm anywhere close right. My pick: Falcons, 27-23. [Click on Week 6 Gems for all our latest NFL picks].

THE LIST: DOLPHINS SLOW STARTS OFFENSIVELY: Fewest points scored in Dolphins' first four games of a season:

Points    Year        Starting QB / Coach

32          2004       Feeley (3), Fiedler (1) / Wannstedt

41          2017       Cutler / Gase

42          1967       Griese (2), Norton (2) / Wilson

50          1988       Marino / Shula

51          2006       Culpepper / Saban

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, updated Mondays, is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES: UM 'minor miracle' beats Georgia Tech for ACC lead: Finally beating Florida State last week was bigger for The U symbolically. But beating Georgia Tech 25-24 Saturday was bigger tangibly, as the No. 11 Canes -- now No. 8 -- earned sole possession of the ACC Coastal lead. The road to all the way “Back” starts there. 

2. HEAT: It's Opening Week for Miami, NBA: The meaningless six-game exhibition schedule is done, now Miami opens its regular season Wednesday in Orlando, then has its home opener in six days, Saturday vs. Indiana. Soon we see if last season's 30-11 second half was a harbinger or a mirage. 

3. DOLPHINS: Fins shed off-field, on-field woes with huge win in Atlanta: The second-worst four-game scoring start in Dolphins history. An assistant coach resigned in a cocaine/stripper scandal. It all went away Sunday in Dolphins' big 20-17 comeback win in Atlanta, the NFL upset of the week -- and maybe of the season.

4. SOCCER: Shocker! Embarrassed U.S. men fail to make World Cup: Team USA failed to qualify for men's World Cup for first time since 1986, thanks to humiliating, eliminating 2-1 loss to Trinidad & Tobago that saw coach Bruce Arena resign in shame. Guys, can't you just be half as good as the U.S. women?

5. BASEBALL: AL, NL championship series underway: MLB's final four includes the team that just won (Cubs), the team that wins the most (Yankees) and the team that spends the most (Dodgers). Your process-of-elimination independent rooting interest if you like a true underdog? Houston Astros, who've never won it all dating to 1962 Colt .45s.

6. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Four more Top 10 teams lose: You know what that means, right Miami Hurricanes fans? UM rising from No. 11 to 8th in the new polls.

7. PANTHERS: Cats underway, name new alt-governor: The Panthers, 2-2 through four games with an encouraging 16 goals scored, named retired Army general Raymond Odierno as chairman and alternate governor. Cannot confirm he has ordered strategic bombing of select Eastern Conference opponents.

8. NFL: Anthem/kneeling hot topic at owners meetings: Fall owners meetings in New York this week will center on polarizing issue of players using NFL platform to protest social injustice during national anthem. Solution expected? None whatsoever!

9. MARLINS: Jeter imprint begins to show: This is Derek Jeter's first significant, major hire as the guy running the Marlins. Period. Gary Denbo, 56, his mentor from the Yankees, will oversee the Fish player development and scouting departments, a crucial job for a club with cupboards bare.

10. TENNIS: Sharapova wins first post-ban title: Maria Sharapova won the Tianjin Open, her first women's title since May 2105 following a doping ban. Yes, evidently a minor title in China counts.

Missing the HB10 cut: Miami Hurricanes' men's basketball preparation underway for the Nov. 10 season opener as national FBI probe of recruiting in the sport continues. Here's hoping the season doesn't arrive with a cloud attached  ..... Newly freed O.J. Simpson is out and about in Las Vegas, boozing, schmoozing, playing golf, posing for photos, shamelessly pushing memorabilia and allegedly staging fake altercations with paparazzi to then sell to TMZ. Welcome back. O.J! Missed ya!!

Select recent columns: Latest Drama in Bizarre, Trying Season (Dolphins' Snortgate). It Isn't Just Cutler (Dolphins' offense woes). Back On Track & Ready To Roar (Florida Panthers). Here's What I Find Funny, Cam (Cam Newton). Jeter Betting On Jeter (Marlins)Also: Hope That Wasn't GoodbyeChasing HistoryWade Will End Where He BelongsLarranaga Has Canes Flying High, Now ThisRegret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow. Really Good or God-Awful, Cutler Won't Be DullA Perspective On Sports As a Hurricane Hits. Stanton Chasing 1984Specials: Thank You, Mae RibackThank You, Edwin Pope.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

October 10, 2017

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 9.9%; plus big Miami D beats Titans 16-10 but team embroiled in Snortgate; also, see what else falls where in latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

Columbus1) It is MONDAY, OCTOBER 9. Happy Columbus Day, if it hasn't become politically incorrect to still think of Christopher positively. 2) See previous blogpost for results in latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter. They're buoyant, a season high. 3) Know any people who are serious Dolfans despite recent performances? Surprise them with our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes win at FSU with CSM poll, other state Collball Week 6, Panthers open, Cam Newton's problem, your World Series verdict & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Dolphins column off Sunday's game: Ah, yesterday. The halcyon days when the Dolphins' biggest problem was a lousy offense, not a soon-to-be-former offensive line coach snorting lines of a certain white powdery substance. Click on It Isn't Just Cutler for my game column.

Dolphins column on Foerster/Snortgate: NEW! Click Latest Drama in Bizarre, Trying Season.

DsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G4: 9.9%: Results are certified in the latest installment of the Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 9.9 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 16-10 victory over the visiting Tennessee Titans putting Miami's season record at 2-2. That's a slight bump up, but a minimal one following a victory. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its 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. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that will be around 7 a.m. Tuesday.

2017 Game-by-Game DSM Results:
G1: 81.9% (following 19-17 victory at L.A. Chargers)
G2: 4.8% (following 20-6 loss at N.Y. Jets)
G3: 3.8% (following 20-0 loss vs. New Orleans in London)
G4: 9.9% (following 16-10 victory vs. Tennessee)
Next poll: Oct. 15 (following game at Atlanta) 
 

G4: TENNESSEE AT DOLPHINS: EARLY IN SEASON FOR MUST-WIN FEEL, BUT HERE WE ARE: Postgame thoughts: One theory is there are no unsatisfying wins in the NFL. But if there were, this would be close: A 16-10 Miami win, at home, against a Tennessee team without its starting QB, a team that last week gave up 57 points. The Dolphins defense was as good as its offense was bad. That's the glass half-full. The D produced six sacks and two fumble recoveries -- the D won the game. But Jay Cutler and the offense were mostly anemic again, producing only six points on their own. With Miami 2-2, the Cutler offense has yet to generate a 20-point game as the schedule toughens from here ..... 4Q: Huge sack by top-pick rookie Charles Harris ... MIA up 16-10 on Cutler-Landry 6-yard hookup, but then a missed extra point wide right. Uh oh ..... 3Q: And the puntfest/snoozefest continues, with 15 combined punts through three ... Near-safety for MIA defense; ball marked at 1 leading to punt from end zone ... Miami punting on 4th and 1 from TEN 47 tells you how much confidence Adam Gase has in his offense right now ... TEN ties it 10-10 on 69-yard drive ending in 11-yard scoring pass. First opponent series Miami D has looked less than dominant ... DeVante Parker won't return today. Just the news an anemic offense didn't need ..... Halftime thoughts: Miami's defense, even considering Titans were without Marcus Mariota, was fantastic, limiting Tennessee to 80 total yards on 29 plays.  Four sacks and Reshad Jones' two fumble recoveries, one returned for a TD, made it among the most dominating defensive halves in memory. But! The Dolphins offense was just as bad as the defense was good, totaling a measly 63 yards. Miami scored zero points not set up by the D. Jay Cutler was 5-for-11 for 21 yards with an interception, and heard booing and "We want Moore!" chants. About as ugly as it gets for a team with the lead ..... 2Q: Cutler  intercepted on deflected ball. Pass was high, though, so it's mostly on him ... A very brief "We want Moore!" chant just bloomed following another Dolphins punt ... TEN within 10-3 on 45-yard FG set up by Ajayi turnover ... Ugh. Ajayi lost fumble gives Titans ball at MIA 24 ..... 1Q: Wow! MIA 10-0 after Jones' 38-yard TD return on fumble forced by Alonso hard hit on QB Cassel. Seemed like incomplete pass at first. Jones returned it anyway. Good thing ... MIA 3-0 late in quarter on Parkey 41-yard FG set up by takeaway ... Little Jakeem Grant had a TD catch but two defenders broke it up ... First big play is by MIA's defense as Jones recovers fumble at Titans 42 ... Noticeable booing as Fins punt for third straight time ... MIA's first 2 series have started at 7 and 3 yard lines. Not good ... Long-snapper Denney playing in 196th game, tie-3rd in Dolphins history. Promise never to mention the long snapper again ... Swapping punts to start game ..... Pregame: Marcus Mariota inactive a  huge boost for TenmiamiMiami's upset shot. Bet-line immediately fell from Dolphins -3 to -1.5. And then to even/pick-'em ..... Original post: I don't need a reminder that Miami started 1-4 last year, rose like Lazarus and made the playoffs. It is both true and means nothing. This Dolphins team at 1-2 will be in deep trouble if it falls to 1-3 today and all know it. Tennessee at 2-2 is a 3-point road favorite, which tells you a little something about regard for the Fins. But I like Miami in an upset. That's right. Eureka! Dolphins sleeping offense finally awakens! It hardly feels like an upset, especially with the strong possibility that Titans QB Marcus Mariota (hamstring) either won't play or will be G4limited. The dropoff to lousy Matt Cassel is extreme. But I'd like Miami anyway in the Fins' second-latest home opener in franchise history to one in 1987. Dolphins' offense can't possibly be as bad as it's looked the past two weeks (right?), and this is a Tennessee defense that just gave up 57 points (!) to Houston. Miami needs to recommit to the ground and Jay Ajayi, first, and the O-line must give Jay Cutler a cleaner pocket and another second to throw against a beatable Titans pass defense. Meanwhile the Dolphins run-stopping has been pretty solid; now, if only the pass-D was as stout. The key may be Ajayi's health, after he missed practice Thursday, babying a tender knee. Still not sure this will prove to be much beyond an average Dolphins team, or a playoff team, but it is a team that wins this game at home. (Or better be). My pick: Dolphins, 24-17. [Click on Week 5 Gems for all our latest NFL picks].

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, updated Mondays, is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES: Finally! UM gets Litmus-test win over FSU, but loses Walton: Canes fans had waited since 2009, through seven straight losses to Florida State and then a Hurricane Irma delay, to finally beat their ACC rival and nemesis again. Wait: Worth it. Still-unbeaten Canes 24, Noles 20. Costly, though, with season-ending ankle injury to top RB Mark Walton.

2. DOLPHINS: Fins' D beats Titans, but Snortgate scandal erupts: Offense was lousy again as defense carried Miami past Titans 16-10 Sunday. But now team is scandalized by video on social media appearing to show offensive line coach Chris Foerster snorting lines of a white substance that looks an awful lot like cocaine.

3. PANTHERS: Hopeful Cats christen 24th NHL season: Florida opened with state doubleheader, losing Friday in Tampa then winning Saturday vs. Lightning here. New Panthers coach Bob Boughner is franchise's 15th, none lasting longer than three seasons. Club never got that memo about patience being a virtue.
 
4. MARLINS: Fish introduce Jeter as new ownership era begins: The Marlins introduced the public front of the new ownership group, money man Bruce Sherman and baseball man Derek Jeter. They aren't haven't lost a game yet and, mostly, they are not Jeffrey Loria, so for now Miami loves them.
 
5. HEAT: 9 days now 'til season opener: Heat is halfway through its six-game exhibition schedule, with regular season opener Oct. 18. Miami basically stood pat with last year's team that went 30-11 in second half. But is it good or bad when you're convinced your one missing piece is Kelly Olynyk?

6. BASEBALL: Postseason underway with divisional series: The Astros (at Red Sox) and Indians (at Yankees) are up 2-1 and in position to clinch their 5-game AL divisional series tonight. Raise your hand if you still think of the Astros as an NL team.

7. SOCCER: U.S. men breathe easier after rout of Panama: Team USA walloped Panama 4-0 Friday night in a qualifying match in Orlando to all but assure itself of advancing to the 2018 World Cup in Russia. U.S. can clinch Tuesday with a win (or likely even a tie) at Trinidad & Tobago.

8. CAM NEWTON: Carolina QB belittles woman sports writer: Newton called it "funny" to hear a "female" talk about route-running. Dear Cam: You play football for a living. What I find funny is someone who plays a game for living believing that game's intricacies are beyond the grasp of anybody.

9. UM BASKETBALL: Canes expect no problem with FBI probe: A Hurricanes assistant coach was implicated but not charged in that national FBI investigation of college men's basketball recruiting, and UM now says it expects a complete exoneration. Exhale, please.

10. WNBA: MInnesota continues its mini-dynasty: A fourth championship in seven seasons. Does that qualify the Minnesota Lynx as dynastic? If only I cared enough to consider further.

Missing the HB10 cut: Headlines I Never Thought I'd See (one in a series): 'Washington Nationals assistant suspended related to revenge porn suit' ..... O.J. Simpson continues to be as free as a man can be when everyone who looks at him believes he got away with double-murder ..... A new poll indicates most Americans disapprove of NFL players kneeling for the national anthem, but also disapprove of President Trump calling for their firing. What the hell do we approve of!? 

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

October 03, 2017

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 3.8%. Rock bottom!; plus tragedy in Vegas, Saints crush Miami 20-0 in London, Hot Button Top 10 (updated), Stanton stays at 59 (with column) & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is MONDAY, OCTOBER 2. Know any people who are serious Dolfans despite the last two weeks' performance? Treat them to our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order at Fins At 50. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes whip Duke with CSM poll, other Collball Week 5, NFL Week 4 pix, your Trump vs. NFL verdict & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

MADNESS CONTINUES WITH MASS SHOOTING IN VEGAS: Was it terrorism? I'm not even sure how to define the word anymore. It was not the type associated with radical Islamic extremists; so, do we call it domestic terrorism? Or was it just a deranged lunatic who had no business being in possession of a military-grade automatic weapon? More than 50 are dead and more than 200 wounded at a country music concert on the Vegas strip at the hands of one coward on a balcony. The worst shooting in U.S. history. I'm sure the well-meant "Prayers For Vegas" sentiments are already all over social media. Not enough. Who has an answer to the madness attacking civilization by degrees? OK now back to sports! Christ almighty.   

Latest column: For Giancarlo Stanton, hope last night wasn't goodbye: He struck out in the ninth to end at 59 home runs. Standing ovation. Curtain call. Doffed cap in thanks. Or was that a farewell gesture? Click on Hope That Wasn't Goodbye for my column from the game.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G3: 3.8%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show a season-low 3.9 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 20-Dsm0 loss to New Orleans in London putting Miami's season record at 1-2. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its 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. You may vote here, immediately below, or also online by clicking DSM G3. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 8 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2017 Game-by-Game DSM Results:

G1: 81.9% (following 19-17 victory at L.A. Chargers)

G2: 4.8% (following 20-6 loss at N.Y. Jets)

G3: 3.8% (following 20-0 loss vs. New Orleans in London)

Next poll: Oct. 8 (following game vs. Tennessee)

G3: SAINTS 20, DOLPHINS 0 IN LONDON: FOR MIAMI, AWFUL GOT WORSE: Postgame thoughts: You thought the performance at the Jets last week was bad? Bad got worse. Miami was awful offensively in Sunday's 20-0 loss to New Orleans in London -- pitifully so after an opening 81-yard drive that ended with a Jay Cutler end-zone interception that seemed to thoroughly deflate the team. The Fins' defense was OK, closer to pretty good than bad considering Drew Brees slices through everybody. But the offense? A punt-fest after that opening drive. Nothing happening. Miami is lucky to not be 0-3. At 1-2 the season is not lost, but will be unless offensive answers are found soon. Right now, Ryan Tannehill has never looked better to Dolphins fans ..... 4Q; Sack by Wake. Sadly, might be highlight of game for Miami ... Saints 45-yard FG for 13-0 lead. Dolphins offense today making that seem insurmountable ..... 3Q: Fins are inept offensively right now, but give Saints credit. Much better than in past years on D ... Saints 10-0 on Brees 3-yard screen to Thomas. Only in this game, against this Miami offense, does 10-nil feel like a big lead ... Saints on 4th and 1 get the 1st by at least a full millimeter ..... Halftime thoughts: Ugh. Ugly. Do not mistake this soccer-like 3-0 score for great defense. Mostly it has been inept offenses, a rhythm-less game full of penalties, punts and miscues -- the worst an end-zone pick by Cutler that really seemed to deflate Miami. To say that Brits are not seeing the best of American football is to massively understate the awfulness of this game so far. Miami has three punts and six penalties. What is wrong with Miami's offense!? ..... 2Q: Saints 3-0 on 43-yard FG on half's final play ... Penalties killing Fins ... Saints miss 42-yard FG try. So still 0-0. Common in EPL soccer. In NFL, not so much ..... 1Q: With CB Maxwell inactive (hamstring), Brees really picking on rookie Tankersley ... Cutler throws end-zone interception to instantly snuff promising opening drive. Awful choice by him. Demoralizing end to opening drive that took half the quarter ... Unsurprisingly, clearly a pro-Dolphins crowd ..... Original postTally ho and cheerio and all that stuff we think Brits say but they really don't. Ready for a lil' Breakfast at Wembley? Miami and N'Awlins go at it at 9:30 this morning in the U.S. East in what is (ludicrously) a home game Mialondonfor Miami. How good the Dolphins are — whether they’re any good — was cast in serious doubt with that display of public flatulence at the Jets last week, so this is a true test. I do not believe (yet) that Miami is that bad. But I also do not believe that Sunday’s matchup with the Saints is a particularly favorable one that will be an instant cure. Main reason: Drew Brees, even pushing 39, is still really, really good, while Miami’s pass defense really, really isn’t. At least thus far. And that includes failings underneath due to thin linebacking, even with the return from AWOL suspension of Lawrence Timmons, who undoubtedly still would be in the penalty box if the Jets loss didn’t turn things so dire. N’Awlins' defense of course is famously bad, so Fins have an upset shot if the Double Jays, Cutler and Ajayi (running on a babied knee), are appreciably better than they were last week. Londoners could be in for a bloody shootout! Bottom line, though? Dolphins pass defense made Josh McCown look like a superstar last week. Now here comes Brees. Uh oh. My pick: Saints, 27-23. [Click on Week 4 Gems for all our latest NFL picks].

Dolfact: History, almost: With the Dolphins' scheduled home opener postponed by Hurricane Irma until Week 11 and the second "home" game taking place in London, Miami's actual first home game of the regular season -- next Sunday Oct. 8 vs. Tennessee -- will be the second-latest on the calendar in the club's 52 seasons. The only later home debut was Oct. 11, 1987, a season that saw Week 3 canceled by a players strike and three consecutive Dolphins road games.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. MARLINS: Stanton chases history to season's end: Marlins ownership change is official effective today, but the weekend spotlight belonged to Giancarlo Stanton as he chased baseball history. At 59 homers entering Sunday, he had one game left to reach 60 or even the PED-untainted record of 61 and be King Clean. He fell short, staying at 59. Let's hope he'll be back.
 
2. DOLPHINS: London falling. Hard. Fins blow, again: It was a home game 4,500 miles from home as Dolphins took on Saints as slight underdogs Sunday morning at Wembley Stadium -- and got clobbered 20-0. We thought Fins could not possibly be as awful as they were last week. But oh we were wrong!
 
3. HURRICANES: UM gets big win at Duke in ACC opener: Mark Richt's guys sailed 31-6 in Durham Friday night behind big defense and three TDs from Malik Rosier, and now No. 14 UM is 3-0 and it prepares to face rival Florida State in Tallahassee. And what seemed impossible five weeks ago is true: The Canes will be favored.
 
4. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Canes men's program part of FBI probe: FBI investigation of corruption in men's college basketball recruiting already has toppled Louisville's Rick Pitino in what could be seismic scandal, and UM has acknowledged a member of its staff is implicated. Football team a nice diversion, but high anxiety in the Gables.
 
5. HEAT: Wade makes nice, Heat open preseason: You know NBA season is getting close when the fake games begin! On a week when Dwyane Wade, now of Cleveland, made nice by saying he wants to end his career in a Heat jersey, Miami opened its six-game preseason here by beating Atlanta Sunday. Oh, and Heat are now mobile-only on ticket entry, so you, Luddite, better go buy a smartphone.

6. PANTHERS: Cats wrap exhibitions, await regular season: Panthers ended their preseason with a promising 4-2 mark and now await regular-season NHL opener in Tampa Friday, then home vs. Lightning Saturday. Last year: Big hype, no results. Now: No hype ... so we'll see.

7. BASEBALL: Wild-card games commence postseason: AL wild-card game Tuesday (Twins-Yankees) and NL Wednesday (Rockies-Diamondbacks) begin the MLB playoffs. These are like those play-in games in NCAA Tournament. Sorry, wild-carders, but you didn't really make the playoffs, now did you?

8. NFL POLITICS: Trump vs. Protest war continues: War between President Donald Trump and NFL social-justice protesters continues. Dear Trump: Fewer Tweets on NFL, more action on Puerto Rico. I mean ... just sayin'! 

9. RUSSELL WESTBROOK: Signs mega contract extension: Oklahoma City Thunder lavished Westbrook with a five-year, $205 million contract extension. Wait. Weren't max contracts around $20 mill about a minute ago? 

10. O.J. SIMPSON: Parolee heads to Florida: Our man O.J. Simpson gets out of prison on parole this week and is believed headed to South Florida to take up residence. Remember, if the glove does not fit, you must ... say welcome, Neighbor!

Missing the HB10 cut: FSU finally off the schneid, FIU and FAU both with big wins ..... Game 4 of the WNBA Finals is Sunday. Note to self: Look up who's playing.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

September 26, 2017

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: (Ouch) 4.8%; plus Miami embarrassed by Jets 20-6, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), reflections on 1-year anniversary of Jose Fernandez tragedy & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 25. Click on Straws! or our latest Back in My Day video from the LeBatard Show. Based on reaction, it may be our most popular ever. 2) Know any serious Dolfans? Treat them to our book on club's first half-century. Learn more or order here: Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes crush Toledo with CSM poll, our SoFla sports cornucopia, other state Collball Week 4 & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

JoseJose Fernandez tragedy: 1-year laterMy latest Sunday column reflects on the tragedy that rocked South Florida one year ago, and on the complicated legacy of Jose Fernandez. Click on Regret, Tears & a Legacy's Dark Shadow to read.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G2: 4.8%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 4.8 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 20-6 loss at the New York Jets putting Miami's season record at 1-1. The DSM is a continuous weekly gauge of how Dolfans are feeling about the team and its 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. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:45 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2017 Game-by-Game DSM Results:

G1: 81.9% (following 19-17 victory at L.A. Chargers)

G2: 4.8% (following 20-6 loss at N.Y. Jets)

Next poll: Oct. 1 (following game vs. New Orleans in London)

G2: N.Y. JETS 20, DOLPHINS 6: Postgame thoughts: Losses do not get much worse than an offensively inept 20-6 Dolphins defeat at the New York Jets. One of these teams was supposed to be among the worst in the NFL. Miami played the role. Quarterback Jay Cutler was out of synch and misfiring much of the day, only averting a shutout on a last-second TD pass to DeVante Parker, followed -- fittingly -- by a missed extra point. I might have earlier inserted Matt Moore for a spark -- any spark. Jay Ajayi rushed for a mere 16 yards on 11 carries. The pass defense was horrible, turning journeyman Josh McCown into Tom Brady. The Dolphins are very fortunate to now be 1-1, not 0-2, as they fly home, pack and head Monday to London for next week's "home" game vs. New Orleans. I did not think an offense with Ajayi, Parker, Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills could be as bad as the Fins looked today. But the last word to Adam Gase, said perfectly: "They beat the shit out of us." ..... Halftime thoughts: Awfulness abounds for the Dolphins at 10-nil down. Cutler has 38 yards passing and Ajayi is bottled up with 16 amid 49 yards total offense. Meanwhile Miami's pass defense is making Josh McCown look like Tom Brady. Adam Gase was good a week ago with halftime adjustments. He'll need some here. Lose today and Dolphins will have zero claim to being playoff caliber. Lose today and you are the team Vegas disrespected with that7 1/2 over/under on wins ..... Original post: The 1-0 Dolphins are comfy 6-point road favorites for Sunday's 1 p.m. go at the 0-2 Jets. But is Miami good enough that fans might trust a stress-free afternoon? I still wonder. I've loved the easy narrative by Your Friend the Media Mianyjthe past week that the Dolphins' season-opening win on the road verified a resilient, tough team that overcame the distraction and upheaval of Hurricane Irma and therefore can overcome anything. Um, quick reminder: Miami beat the mediocre Los Angeles Chargers 19-17 only because of the plain luck of a rookie kicker being kind enough to choke on a 44-yard field goal try in the last seconds. Kid makes kick and the whole narrative flips? Keep proving how good you are, Fins, because we don't know yet, and that process continues Sunday with what should be a low-anxiety, comfortable win over the abysmal Jets. NYJ toyed with signing Jay Cutler during the offseason but settled to recycle Josh McCown because Cutler saw a TV booth as a better situation than the woebegone Planes. Now we find out why, although Cutler may be a supporting weapon here. Jay Ajayi fantasy owners who have seen the Jets' sorry run defense are looking at this game the way a fat man looks at an all-you-can-eat buffet. The question again, though: Is Miami is good enough to deliver an easy win? Let's find out. My pick: Dolphins, 34-13. [Click Week 3 Gems for all our latest NFL picks].

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, updated Mondays, is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Fins clobbered by Stinkin' Jets: Biggest challenge facing Dolphins as Sunday's Jets game neared? Talking up the opponent as a dangerous team with immense talent and doing so with straight faces. Or so we imagined. We thought Jets were one of worst teams in NFL. But it was Miami playing the role in Sunday's dispiriting 20-6 road loss.

2. HURRICANES: UM back in play with rout of Toledo: Soft opener vs. Bethune-Cookman, Hurricane Irma, game at Arkansas State canceled, trip to Florida State postponed, practices moved to Orlando, then play finally resumes vs. Toledo with a slow-starting 52-30 win. No idea how this Canes season will end, but it sure started bat-bleep crazy.

3. MARLINS: Stanton push, Jose anniversary: Fish down to seven games left as Giancarlo Stanton (now with 57) chases Roger Maris' untainted record of 61 home runs. More somberly, today/Monday marks 1-year anniversary of tragic boating accident that killed Marlins ace pitcher Jose Fernandez and two friends.

4. HEAT: Miami set to open training camp: Erik Spoelstra's guys open training camp Tuesday at FAU working toward their first preseason game next Sunday vs. Atlanta. Outside expectations? Playoffs, but not much more even after last season's 30-11 second half. Heat are midpack with 14th longest championship odds of 30 NBA teams.

5. BASEBALL: Playoff grid takes shape as season ebbs: AL's Red Sox, Indians, Astros and Yankees and NL's Nationals, Dodgers and Diamondbacks have clinched playoff spots entering today and final week of MLB's regular season. If you aren't rooting for Cleveland's first World Series win since 1948, well ... what's wrong with you!?!

6. DEREK JETER: Purge targets 4 Fish notables: Jeter, frontman for the incoming new Marlins ownership group, ordered outgoing president David Samson to fire four notable (if ceremonial) "special assistants" in Andre Dawson, Tony Perez, Jeff Conine and Jack McKeon. Geez. Is Derek getting tips on public relations from Jeffrey Loria or what!? 

7. DONALD TRUMP: President declares war on sports, apparently: Trump blasted NFL players' anthem protests and uninvited Stephen Curry to the White House, after which LeSean McCoy called Trump an "asshole" and LeBron James called him a "bum." The good news? Feuding with sports stars is somewhat less dangerous than name-calling with maniacal dictators with hydrogen bombs.

8. PANTHERS: Cats' preseason underway: Florida played its third of six preseason games Sunday in Tampa as Oct. 6 regular-season opener looms. Remember all the hype and Stanley Cup bravado a year ago? Not now. Cats' betting over/under of 86 ½ standings points ranks a lowly 25th in 31-team NHL.

9. SERENA WILLIAMS: Tennis G.O.A.T has kid: The Palm Beach-based tennis superstar had her first child, a daughter she named Alexis Olympia. Cannot confirm that, based solely on bloodlines, Alexis is now the betting favorite to win Wimbledon in 2037.

10. WNBA: Sparks up on Lynx in Finals: It's defending champion L.A. Sparks up 1-0 in WNBA Finals over 2015 champ Minnesota Lynx, led by Miami-born league MVP Sylvia Fowles, who played at Gulliver Prep. Probably still won't watch, but at least I might think about it.

Missing the HB10 cut: FIU now 2-1. Butch Davis early frontrunner for Coach of the State ..... Knicks traded Carmelo Anthony, 33, to OKC Thunder. Who's next to swap unis in the Still Got Something Left Division? Dwyane Wade, you say? ..... Heat uniforms now bear advertising patches for Ultimate Software. Ugh. And ugly.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

January 12, 2017

The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings at midseason (40 games); plus are we OK with PEDs guy Ryan Braun at UM baseball banquet? Last day to vote!; also, Vance Joseph, Bitter Mickey/BIMD, Saban's tears, UM football ranked No. 16 & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is THURSDAY, JANUARY 12. Holed up at Friday Page Headquarters today divining my NFL divisional-round playoff picks. Anybody got any extra luck I can borrow? 2) Happy anniversary this week to my wonderful wife, the greatest person I have ever known. Love you! 3) Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century makes the perfect shoulda-bought-it-for-Christmas-but-it's-not-too-late gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins eliminated in Pittsburgh with season-ending DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10, The List & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Bitter Mickey/Back In My Day double-play from LeBatard Show: Click here for Tuesday's show podcast. The Bitter Mickey/BIMD back-to-back kicks in around the 38-minute mark.

Hurricanes 16th in (very) early 2017 college football Top 25: It's out from Mark Schlabach on ESPN.com. Click here to read. UM was ranked No. 20 in the final Associated Press poll for this season, the Canes' first year-end Top 25 ranking since 2009. Also, UM has 33-1 national-title odds via Bovada, tied for 11th best.

DSM final rating best since 2008: The Dolphins season ended with consecutive losses including Sunday's in the playoffs; still, the season-ending Dolfan Satisfaction Meter rating of 76.2 percent is the second-best in the nine-year history of our postgame polls, and best since '08. See the previous blogpost for complete week-by-week results and year-by-year totals. 

Dolphins-Steelers game column, select other recent columns: When Playoffs Become the Norm Again, off Sunday's eliminating loss, on when you'll know the Dolphins are truly back. A Year Of Heartache, But Then A Smile, in review of South Florida's 2016 sports year. Also: An Orange Bowl Classic. Road Back Starts With Bowl Win. Missing Dwyane Wade.

UPDATED: "THE LUDDITE'S ANTI-ANALYTICS HEAT MVP STANDINGS" (MIDSEASON/40 GAMES)Points. Rebounds. Assists. That's it. With tongue only partly in cheek, we go old-school, strip it down, combine the Original Big Three statistical categories, and introduce a running, cumulative race for 2016-17 Heat team MVP. We bring you updated standings at five-game intervals. With Miami now 11-29 after last night's loss at Golden State, here's The Luddite's eighth installment, with 35-game rank in parentheses:

LudditeThe Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings (Midseason/40 games):

1. Hassan Whiteside (1)      1,177

2. Goran Dragic (2)               937

3. Tyler Johnson (3)            802

4. James Johnson (4)         678

5. Josh Richardson (5)        483

6. Dion Waiters (7)                393

7. Rodney McGruder (8)      385

8. Justise Winslow (6)         355

9. Willie Reed (11)                 329

10. Wayne Ellington (9)      284

Others: Josh McRoberts 232, Derrick Williams 226, Luke Babbitt 200, Udonis Haslem 61.

IS DOLPHINS LOSING DC JOSEPH A BIG DEAL? (NAH): Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph leaves the Dolphins after one season to become Denver Broncos head coach. I guess the Broncos were not watching Sunday as Joseph's Miami defense gave up scoring drives of 85, 90 and 83 yards to Pittsburgh on the playoff game's first three series. During the season his unit ranked 29th in total defense, 15th in pass defense, 30th in run defense and 18th in points allowed, despite being one of only seven teams with two Pro Bowl defensive starters.   

IS RYAN BRAUN THE RIGHT CHOICE TO SPEAK AT CANES BASEBALL BANQUET?: I think I'm sort of against this but don't feel too strongly. I guess that makes me conflicted. I wonder if you Braunare. (Hence, the poll that follows, because I'm curious). Former Miami Hurricanes baseball great Ryan Braun (pictured), now prominently of the Milwaukee Brewers, will be the featured speaker Feb. 10 at the team's annual preseason First Pitch banquet. The negative? Braun, of course, was implicated in the Biogenesis scandal over performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). Many will recall he was suspended 65 games in 2013 for violating MLB's drug policy. Not saying that should be a life sentence on his reputation, but is he the best choice just a few years later to be the star attraction at your preseason banquet? UM's baseball stadium of course is partly named in honor of another steroids guy, Alex Rodriguez, but that's contractual, and tied to a major donation. Jim Morris' program was under no such obligation to invite Braun. It  makes me wonder if UM's athletic director signed off on this and if the university president is comfortable with it. Right now, though, it's your turn. Take a dip in our poll.

UglyTHE BAD NEWS, MIAMI? HEAT AT GOLDEN STATE. COVER YOUR EYES!: Update: Heat with a credible 107-95 loss last night at Golden State. The Good Whiteside (28 points, 20 rebounds) appeared. You know it's a bad season when you see the good in a 12-point loss. Original post: I guess it wasn't bad enough that the Dolphins took a crap Sunday after finally making the playoffs, so now the reeling Miami plays at mighty Golden State tonight, and what would have been a terrific matchup in, say, 2013, now is hard to envision being anything but season-low, lopsided-ugly. The good news: Doesn't start 'til 10:30, so much of South Florida won't bother to see it. Heat, 16-point underdogs, are having a train-wreck season at 11-28, evidently with the entire roster on the trading block, while 24-karat Golden State is 32-6 after adding Kevin Durant to Stephon Curry. Let's see Reid and Fiorentino try to put a positive spin on this one!

SadsabanTHE GOOD NEWS? BUT AT LEAST NICK SABAN LOST!: College football showed the NFL how it's done Monday night. We sat through four NFL first-round playoff games decided by a combined 121-45 score, none of them close or particularly interesting to watch. Then, last night, the CFP finale in Tampa gave us Clemson 35, Alabama 31, a compelling comeback victory that dethroned Nick Saban -- which alone made it gratifying for Saban-hating South Florida slow to forgive Nick for lying and baling on the Dolphins. So, as tonight's Heat game gets sad, So Fla, bright up by picturing Saban's abject disappointment as his kingdom quaked a bit.

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

January 10, 2017

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 76.2% (season final); plus Fins out of playoffs in 30-12 loss at Pittsburgh with my game column, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated) & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1) It is MONDAY, JANUARY 9. Shameless Plug Alert! Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century makes the perfect celebrate-they're-back-in-the-playoffs gift for every Dolfan you know. Click on Fins At 50 to order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Wild-Card Weekend predictions, Jose Fernandez death voted biggest Miami sports story of 2016 & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Nflplayoffs

 

 

 

 Our Dolphins-Steelers game column from Pittsburgh: Click on When Playoffs Become the Norm Again to read. And find our in-game blog and other postgame thoughts directly below the latest DSM poll.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: SEASON/FINAL: 76.2%: Results are certified in the latest -- and season-last -- Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, this in the wake of Sunday''s 30-12 DsmAFC wild-card playoff loss at Pittsburgh eliminating Miami following a 10-6 regular season and first postseason appearance in eight years. Reflecting that accomplishment, this is the highest final DSM reading since 2008. The DSM 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 season-ending poll, I suggested special emphasis be given to the season as a whole. Results are certified official the day after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:30 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2016 DSM results

G1: 52.5% (following 12-10 loss at Seattle)

G2: 13.3% (following 31-24 loss at New England)

G3: 9.9% (following 30-24 OT victory vs. Cleveland)

G4: 3.0% (following 22-7 loss at Cincinnati)

G5: 3.2% (following 30-17 loss vs. Tennessee)

G6: 67.4% (following 30-15 victory vs. Pittsburgh)

G7: 90.9% (following 28-25 victory vs. Buffalo)

G8: 94.0% (following 27-23 victory vs. N.Y. Jets)

G9: 96.8% (following 31-24 victory at San Diego)

G10: 95.7% (following 14-10 victory at Los Angeles)

G11: 95.9% (following 31-24 victory vs. San Francisco)

G12: 34.8% (following 38-6 loss at Baltimore)

G13: 93.2% (following 26-23 victory vs. Arizona)

G14: 98.0% (following 34-13 victory at N.Y. Jets)

G15: 98.3% (following 34-31 OT victory at Buffalo)

G16: 72.6% (following 35-14 loss vs. New England)

Playoffs/Final: 76.2% (following 30-12 loss at Pittsburgh)

Yearly DSM Results: 2016--76.2% (following 10-6 season/playoff loss); 2015--18.1% (6-10); 2014--2.7% (8-8); 2013--4.2% (8-8); 2012--29.8% (7-9); 2011--34.9% (6-10); 2010--3.8% (7-9); 2009--31.2% (7-9); 2008--96.9% (11-5/playoff loss).

MY DOLPHINS-STEELERS SUNDAY PREVIEW COLUMN: Click MASSIVE CHALLENGE  /  NFL Wild-Card Weekend predictions: Click Wild-Card Gems  /  Ranking playoff teams, year-end awards: Click Playoffs And Hardware.

Dolphins playoffs, other select recent columns: It Isn't About Tannehill, how Fins have a chance in Pittsburgh with Moore if everything else goes right. There's A Longer Drought to End Now, on Dolphins preparing for first playoff game in eight years. A Year Of Heartache, But Then A Smile, in review of South Florida's 2016 sports year. Also: An Orange Bowl Classic. Road Back Starts With Bowl Win. Missing Dwyane Wade, Football Town Strikes Back.

MiapitPLAYOFF: PITTSBURGH 30, DOLPHINS 12: POSTSEASON DROUGHT ENDED TODAY FOR MIAMI ... BUT SO DID SEASON: Postgame thoughts: Watch for our game column from Pittsburgh online by early evening. For now, a good season for Miami ended badly today in Pittsburgh withj this 30-12 loss. Miami's defense got crushed early in giving up three long scoring drives for a fast 20-3 hole, and Fins could never recover. Moore's three turnovers really hurt, especially a lost fumble at the Pittsburgh 8 when Miami trailed 20-6 and had a chance to be withing 20-13 at halftime. A season of progress for the franchise, but an ending that verified how much of a gap remains between the Dolphins and better teams ..... 4Q: Howard intercepts Roethlisberger, begging the question, "Why was Ben still in the game?" ... Fins onside kick fails ... MIA now down 30-12 after first TD of day, 4-yard Moore to Williams pass, followed by failed 2-point pass ... Ajayi leaves game shaken up but seems OK. Tough, quiet game for him: 16 carries, 33 yards ..... 3Q: Fins turn it over on downs with :02 left in quarter ... PIT 30-6 now late in quarter after Bell 8-yard scoring run. Call it. Dolphins are done ... Dolphins continue to kill themselves. Moore's interception, his third turnover, has Steelers threatening again ... PIT expands lead to 23-6 on 34-yard FG ... That's twice in a row Moore fumbles on sacks have cost Miami points. Dolphins having chances to get back in this game but keep squandering them ..... Halftime thoughts: Three dominant drives have been enough for Pittsburgh in a 20-6 half. Roethlisberger's 188 yards passing, Bell's 99 rushing and Brown's 125 receiving have owned the Dolphins defense. And yet Miami, with the ball to start the second half, is hardly out of it. Fins had a wonderful chasnce late to make it 20-13 and seize momentum before Moore's sack/fumble loss at Steelers 8 in final moments. A crater of a hole Miami has dug itself, but I sense a chance, a bit of hope ..... 2Q: Parker 37-yard catch makes it 1st and goal at PIT 8 but play gioes for naught as Moore is sacked, loses fumble ... Fins' Thomas intercepts Roethlisberger. PIT was on edge of FG range so play may have saved three points ... Big interference penalty on MIA's Howard, then Mitchell drops an interception ... MIA within 20-6 on Franks 47Y FG. Dirty, penalized hit by PIT's Dupree knocks Moore from game during series, but he's back in after missing only one play. Tough young man ... Grant fumbles Miami kickoff return but Fins keep it ... Bell 1-yard TD run has PIT up 20-3 after missed extra point kick. Bell's 26-yard scoring run had been overturned, with ball marked at 1 ... MIA defense gave up 213 yards, 162 through air, in first quarter ..... 1Q: Seeing some really bad non-tackling by Fins so far ... MIA on board at 14-3 with 38-yard Franks FG. Stills 36-yard catch on 3rd down led the drive ... Absolute nightmare start for Miami. Pit 14-0 now on Brown 62-yard scoring pass. Steelers have 175 yards on 11 plays so far ..... PIT quick 7-0 lead when Brown turns screen pass into 50-yard scoring play down left sideline. Great hesitation and acceleration by Brown and exactly what underdog Fins didn't need: an early deficit ..... Pregame: Dolphins in aqua pants, white jerseys today ...  Coming to you from freezing Pittsburgh, where the temp is hovering around 10 degrees but the wind-chill factor supposedly makes it feel 2-below. I'm pictured arriving this morning at the game. Sunny and dry, though ... Betting line shot all the way to 13 but settled back down to 11 1/2 ..... Original post: Dolfans this morning awakened to a playoff day for their team for the first time since Jan 4, 2009 -- or 2,926 days later. This ends the franchise's eight-year postseason drought. But Miami's season will end today in Pittsburgh (1 p.m. kickoff, CBS) unless the Dolphins can rid themselves of another, longer drought: a first playoff victory since Dec. 30, Meheinz2000. Miami (10-6, No. 6 AFC seed) is not given much of a chance vs. Pittsburgh (11-5, No. 3). Dolphins are 11-point underdogs, biggest of Wild-Card Weekend. Teams that were double-digit underdogs were 0-14 this season. That means, by that measure, it would be the biggest upset of the entire NFL season if Miami won today. Fins are huge 'dogs despite having beaten the Steelers in Miami, 30-15, in October. Some of that is the perceived huge home-field advantage of Pittsburgh in January, with temps expected today as low as 10 degrees. Miami also will be missing four key players who led the October win: QB Ryan Tannehill, C Mike Pouncey, S Reshad Jones and CB Byron Maxwell. And Pitt is healthier now. This time Steelers will have run-stopping linebacker Ryan Shazier to make sure Jay Ajayi doesn't run for 204 yards again. The gaping point spread also reflects a perception that Miami, taking its first playoff bow since '08, is the sort of the happy-to-be-here interloper ready for its reality check, in contrast to the playoff-tested Steelers. Also, it's hard to envision that Big Ben Roethlisberger, the two-time champion making his 18th postseason start, won't best Matt Moore making his first postseason start. Did I mention Steelers are on a seven-game winning streak? One more: Dolfans should be concerned less about no-Tannehill than about their defense giving up 31 or more points in three of past five games. Having said all that, though, the double-digit betting line either flatters Pitt or (more likely) disrespects Miami, or both. Do I see Dolphins winning a playoff game today for the first time since 2000? Nope. But I like them with the points, respectably bowing out, not getting blown out. My pick: Pittsburgh, 27-20.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, updated Mondays, is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Playoffs!?! Yes, playoffs. But they didn't last long for Miami: Miami visited Pittsburgh Sunday for Dolphins' first playoff game in 8 years and 4 days. Alas, it was hardly worth the weight, with Fins bounced after a resounding 30-12 defeat. Oddsmakers had given Miami little chance. Buncha know-it-alls.

2. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Alabama-Clemson Monday for CFP crown: It's a rematch in the third College Football Playoff championship game tonight in Tampa, after Alabama won 45-40 a year ago. Nick Saban haters everywhere are temporarily Clemson's biggest fans.

3. HEAT: Winslow done as Miami flails through season: Heat has lost eight of past nine games and is 11-28, the NBA's third-worst record. And now Justise Winslow is is done for the season after shoulder surgery. Well, um, Tuesday at Golden State should be fun! 

4. HURRICANES: Kaaya departure rocks Canes football: Still glowing from a first bowl win in 10 years, UM football took a sack with the announcement Brad Kaaya would forego his senior season and enter the NFL Draft. Mark Richt's starting QB is now [Your Guess Goes Here].

5. NFL PLAYOFFS: It's Wild-Card Weekend!: Eight teams including Miami were in action this weekend, but only Houston, Pittsburgh, Seattle and Green Bay survived. Their prize? The four winners get to go on the road and be underdogs next week vs. the rested, top-seeded Chiefs, Patriots, Cowboys or Falcons.

6. UM BASKETBALL: Big week for Canes hoops: Coming into the meat of the season with ACC play underway. The No. 14-ranked UM women hosted and lost to No. 7 Notre Dame on Sunday, and now the Canes men, not ranked but close, host the No. 23 Irish on Thursday.

7. PANTHERS: At midseason, Cats disappointing but not done: Florida has lost six of past eight and is 6-13 since the coaching change, and yet Panthers find themselves only four points off playoff pace at midseason. Anybody up for a hopeful “We're No. 8!” chant?

8. ESPN: The downsizing of Chris Berman: Mr. BackBackBackBackBack is slowly fading to BlackBlackBlackBlackBlack with this week's ESPN announcement of a diminished role for their iconic, original voice.

9. DUKE: Tripping guard reinstated: Duke basketball star Grayson Allen was given an "indefinite suspension" by coach Mike Krzyzewski for tripping opponents. Duke lost its first game without him. He was immediately reinstated. Lesson learned!

10: NHL: Columbus finally loses: Blue Jackets lost after 16 wins a row, one short of the 24-year-old record set by Pittsburgh. Yes, because when you think of hockey tradition and excellence, you start with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Missing the HB10 cut: Nate Silver's fivethirtyeight.com is calling a Patriots Super Bowl win. If Nate's as accurate with that as he was on Hillary beating Trump, Pats fans should be worried, indeed ..... Erik Spoelstra called it "shameful, disgraceful" that Goran Dragic was ejected from Friday's game. Also shameful and disgraceful: Heat's 11-27 record following the loss ..... Ex-Dolphin Jason Taylor and Fort Lauderdale-born Isaac Bruce were locals making the Pro Football Hall of Fame cut to 16 finalists ..... U.S. beat Canada to win the world juniors title in hockey. First we steal their Stanley Cup trophy every year, now this ..... Marlins and Canes fans, we're one month from baseball kicking into gear ..... R.I.P., Marti Huizenga.

THE LIST: SUPER BOWL TOURNAMENT: Twelve teams were in it including Miami entering this weekend, but all teams are not created equal. Here are the 12 playoff teams listed in order of betting odds that each will win the Super Bowl, via the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook. We also list each team's points differential. Notice how the two correlate to some degree:

Team                                Odds       Point +/-

New England Patriots         13-10     +191

Dallas Cowboys                   4-1       +115

Pittsburgh Steelers              8-1       +72

Kansas City Chiefs             10-1       +78

Green Bay Packers             10-1       +44

Atlanta Falcons                 12-1       +134

Seattle Seahawks              12-1       +62

New York Giants                16-1       +26

Houston Texans                 80-1       -49

Oakland Raiders               100-1      +31

Detroit Lions                    100-1      -12

Miami Dolphins                 100-1      -17

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

January 03, 2017

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 72.6%; plus Miami 10-6 with 35-14 loss to Pats, opens playoffs at Pittsburgh Sunday; also, Kaaya goes pro, latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated), your pick for top national 2016 sports story & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

Happy171) It is MONDAY, JANUARY 2, 2017. I Tweeted out the likelihood yesterday, now it's official: Dolphins at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m. Sunday. 2) Happy official New Years Day Observance day! May it be a wonderful day and year for you and your loved ones! 3) Shameless Plug Alert: Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century is now available -- a perfect late Christmas or Happy New Year gift for every Dolfan you know! Click on Fins At 50 to order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Biggest national sporty story of 2016 poll, NFL Week 17 picks, FSU-Michigan Orange Bowl & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Dolphins column from Sunday finale looking ahead to Pittsburgh: It's good Miami has ended its eight-year NFL playoff drought. Now it's time to erase that playoff victory drought stretching 16 years. Click on There's A Longer Drought to End Now for my column from Sunday's season-ending loss to New England. 

A year of loss, but one that left us smiling: We lost big when Dwyane Wade left. We lost bigger when Jose Fernandez died. But in the end 2016 left South Florida smiling because -- Hallelujah -- the Dolphins made the playoffs! Click on A Year Of Heartache, But Then A Smile for my year-in-review column.

Other select recent columns: An Orange Bowl Classic, from Friday's 33-32 Florida State victory over Michigan. Marino Led NFL Arms Race, on how No. 13 was so ahead of his time. Road Back Starts With Bowl Win, on why Hurricanes ending their bowl victory drought was so important. The Gift Of Winning, on Dolphins rewarding fans with a happy holiday for a change. Also: Missing Dwyane Wade, Football Town Strikes Back.

Find our Dolphins-Pats in-game blog and postgame thoughts directly below the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter poll.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER:72.6%: Results are certified in the latest (but not last) Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 72.6 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday's 35-14 loss vs. New DsmEngland putting Miami's final regular season record at 10-6. (We'll have our next poll following this week's playoff opener at Pittsburgh). The DSM 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. Results are certified official the day after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:30 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2016 DSM results

G1: 52.5% (following 12-10 loss at Seattle)

G2: 13.3% (following 31-24 loss at New England)

G3: 9.9% (following 30-24 OT victory vs. Cleveland)

G4: 3.0% (following 22-7 loss at Cincinnati)

G5: 3.2% (following 30-17 loss vs. Tennessee)

G6: 67.4% (following 30-15 victory vs. Pittsburgh)

G7: 90.9% (following 28-25 victory vs. Buffalo)

G8: 94.0% (following 27-23 victory vs. N.Y. Jets)

G9: 96.8% (following 31-24 victory at San Diego)

G10: 95.7% (following 14-10 victory at Los Angeles)

G11: 95.9% (following 31-24 victory vs. San Francisco)

G12: 34.8% (following 38-6 loss at Baltimore)

G13: 93.2% (following 26-23 victory vs. Arizona)

G14: 98.0% (following 34-13 victory at N.Y. Jets)

G15: 98.3% (following 34-31 OT victory at Buffalo)

G16: 72.6% (following 35-14 loss vs. New England)

Next poll: Jan. 8 (following playoff game at Pittsburgh)

G16: NEW ENGLAND 35, DOLPHINS 14: PLAYOFFS AHEAD, TRIP TO PITTSBURGH ON DECK: Postgame thoughts: Well, Miami got handled today. Brady picked apart the defense, which couldn't get off the field. And the Fins offense, except in spurts, was ineffective. Miami gave itself a shot in drawing within 20-14, but the 35-14 final better conveyed the ass-kicking it actually was. Miami headed to Pittsburgh, as expected , but not with the desired momentum a win here would have generated ..... 4Q: Garoppolo in for Brady late in game ... Blount 1-yard TD after Williams fumble gives Pats commanding 35-14 lead after 2-point pass. Barring a miracle rally, Fins are headed to Pittsburgh for playoff opener ... Awful turnover by Williams on a 2nd-and-goal play from Pats 9. Ball returned 69 yards and has Pats in Miami red zone ... Pats have been controlling clock, Fins need 7 points pretty fast to give themselves a real chance ..... 3Q: NE up 27-24, regains control on Brady's 77-yard pass play to Edelman to snatch back the momentum Fins held for about a minute and a half ... Moore-Stills 25-yard scoring strike has MIA within 20-14 ..... Halftime thoughts: Somewhat incredible Miami is only down by two scores after being pretty thoroughly dominated all over the field. Fins defense has been passed- and run-over for 260 yards while the Miami offense has managed a tepid 105. Dolphins not out of it if they can score early in second half but looking very much at this point that Fins will keep No. 6 AFC seed and be headed to a playoff opener at Pittsburgh ..... 2Q: Pats miss a 52-yard FG try on half's final play ... MIA within 20-7 on Moore-Landxry 8-yard scoring pass 28 seconds before halftime. They're aliiive! ... Pats 20-0 now on 26-yard FG after 15-play, 8-minute drive. Fins defense just can't get off the field ... NE 17-0 on 40-yard FG ..... 1Q: NE 14-0 on Brady-Floyd 14-yard TD pass. Fins defense being dominated early ... Miami punt has its defense back on field much too soon ... NE 7-0 on Brady-Bennett 2-yard scoring pass. Impressive opening drive of 41 yards passing, 34 rushing and 3-for-3 on 3rd downs over 7:32. Pats ain't Super Bowl favorites for nuthin', folks ..... Pregame: Fins honoray pregame captains, all in Hall of Fame jackets: Marino, Griese, Csonka, Little, Stephenson, Warfield. Not bad ... Betting line, which opened with Pats favored by 7 1/2 and got as high as 10, has settled at 8 today ... Dolphins in all-aqua uniforms today, which beats the hell out of those hideous Creamsicle-orange unis they wore earlier this season ..... Original post: It's a great day to be a Dolphins fan. That is not a sentence written or said nearly enough the past several years. But today at 1 p.m. the 10-5 Dolphins host the rival 13-2 Patriots to close the regular season, and the club will see six of its Hall of Fame legends led by NeatmiaDan Marino honored at halftime. Then, of course, win or lose today, Miami's first playoff game since 2008 will be directly ahead. Fins will be the No. 6 AFC and open the postseason at Pittsburgh unless they can climb to No. 5 for a far more favorable opener at Houston. That will happen only if Miami beats New England today and if Kansas City loses at San Diego. Computer odds put the likelihood of that at 10.9 percent, meaning an 89.1% probability of "at Steelers" next week. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. First, the Patriots. Many readers have been kind enough to point out that I picked the Dolphins to lose both of past two games, and was wrong both times. Well, as a public service, I’m picking them to lose again! You’re welcome. But this time I mean it. Pats beat Miami early in season with Jimmy Garoppolo. Now I’m supposed to think they won’t with Tom Brady? The game is meaningful to NE, which would clinch home-field advantage throughout with a win here and a loss by Raiders, so we'll see the A-game Pats, not the resting-starters Pats. Yeah, I know: Brady has lost his past three starts in Miami. This I also know: New England’s defense has not allowed a touchdown in more than nine quarters. It is that balance and completeness at Bill Belichick’s command that makes Pats the Super Bowl favorite, not just Brady. Plus, Jay Ajayi has been limited this week by a sore shoulder. The betting line that opened at  7 1/2 ballooned to double digits — that’s too big. But if you’re looking at this game as the Litmus test for whether Miami finally has caught up to its AFC East nemesis, the answer is, "Not yet." My pick: New England, 24-20.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, updated Mondays, is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Playoff at Pittsburgh looms as Dolphins drop finale to Patriots: The regular season wrapped at 10-6 with Sunday's 35-14 home loss to New England, but forget that. What matters now is that the phrase said this time of year takes on a new and literal meaning for long-suffering Dolfans as their team prepares for its first playoff game since 2008 on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Pittsburgh. Happy New Year!

2. HURRICANES: UM ends 10-year bowl drought, Kaaya goes pro: It was a long time coming, but after an 0-6 run in bowl games, the 31-14 win over West Virginia in Orlando marked UM's first postseason victory since 2006. An even bigger win for the program? Would have been QB Brad Kaaya deciding to stay. Alas, Monday night he revealed he'll be entering the NFL Draft.

3. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: It's an Alabama-Clemson rematch for championship:  Crimson Tide and Tigers won their semifinals Saturday and will meet next week in College Football Playoff finale, with 'Bama an opening 6-point favorite. We keep rooting against Nick Saban, and it keeps not doing any good.

4. ORANGE BOWL: FSU-Michigan thriller an OB Classic: Orange Bowl had a heavyweight matchup in Florida State vs. Michigan. It also had one of the best games and thrilling finishes in its 83 years in FSU's 33-32 upset win. Started when Renegade bucked Chief Osceola, but got better for Noles.

5. HEAT: Miami hurtling toward worst season in nine years: Team is 10-25 with five straight losses and and eight of past nine as it heads out on six-game roadie cascading to franchise's worst season since 2007-08. “The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight”: A 1969 Jimmy Breslin novel turned into a movie, now finding its sequel in current Heat.

6. PANTHERS: Ice slowly melting on season of high hopes: A year ago Florida had best regular season in club history and Cats entered this season boldly thinking Stanley Cup. Then came the slow start, the coach firing, and the 5-11 record since that panicked move. Oops.

7. NFL: Final two playoff spots determined: Playoff schedule now set: In AFC it'll be Raiders-Texans Saturday at 4:30 and Dolphins-Steelers Sunday at 1, with Patriots and Chiefs enjoying first-round byes. In NFC it's Lions-Seahawks Saturday at 8:15 and Giants-Packers Sunday at 4:40, with byes to Falcons and Cowboys.

8. UM BASKETBALL: ACC play underway for Canes: No. 11 UM women lost their ACC opener to No. 7 Florida State, while the unranked-but-close UM men began conference play Saturday with a victory over North Carolina State. Conference play torques up interest, but, in this sport, it's still fast-forward-to-March, please.  

9. UFC: Rousey beaten badly in comeback: Ronda Rousey returned to the octagon this week, got battered badly and didn't make it past the first round. Thought her star wouldn't extinguish so soon, but, seems "UFC career" and "longevity" is an oxymoron.

10. HAPPY  NEW YEAR!: Welcome, 2017!: Please be better than 2016. Thank you.

Missing the HB10 cut: Missing the HB10 Cut is sleeping in this week. 

Poll result: Surprise! (Not). Cubs were 2016's top national sports story: We invited you to select 2016's biggest national sports story from among The Associated Press' top 10, giving you three votes, and your runaway winner with 35.5 percent was the Cubs winning their first World Series since 1908. Then it was LeBron James leading Cleveland to NBA title with 16.3% and the death of Muhammad Ali with 13.3%. Rounding out your top five: Broncos winning Super Bowl in Peyton Manning's last game (8.3%) and Phelps/Ledecky leading U.S. Olympic swimming (6.3%).

Coming tomorrow/Tuesday in the blog: Your vote for the No. 1 Greater Miami/South Florida sports story of 2016. 

Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote

December 26, 2016

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 98.3% (season-high for playoff-bound Dolphins); plus Fins win at Buffalo, end 8-year postseason drought; also, our annual Christmas video from me to you, the new Hot Button Top 10 (updated), George Michael & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

Mc1) It is MONDAY, DECEMBER 26. R.I.P., singer George Michael. Never a huge fan, honestly, but respect his artistry and imprint on pop music. Loved his live duet on Elton John's "Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me" (video at bottom of this post). 2) Hope my fellow Christians had a wonderful and Merry Christmas! Shameless Plug Alert: Our new Miami Dolphins book on the club's first half-century is now available -- a perfect late gift for any Dolfan on your list! Click on Fins At 50 to order through Amazon, Barnes & Noble or elsewhere. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Week 16 picks, The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings (30 games), Heat honor Shaq with Whiteside poll, your players-skipping-bowls verdict & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

Xmas16OUR ANNUAL CHRISTMAS VIDEO, FROM ME TO YOU: This year's Christmas video was taken on a sledding trip that included myself, Dan LeBatard, Cam Wake, Pat Riley and Santa Claus. What a great time we five guys had! A picture from our trip is shown at left. To watch the brief video, click HERE.

Select recent columns: Haven't been as many lately, due to vacation time. Week 16 Gems, our latest NFL picks. Quit Rewarding Teams That Win Bad Divisions, our latest NFL notes column. The Gift Of Winning, on the Dolphins rewarding their fans with a happy holiday for a change. Also: The Handoff Nobody Wanted. Just Make the Damned Playoffs For a Change. Missing Dwyane Wade. Football Town Strikes Back.

DOLPHINS IN PLAYOFFS, EARLY PROJECTION ON BETTING ODDS!: No, seriously. Miami is in the postseason. Fins likely will open the postseason Jan. 7 or 8 as the No. 6 seed at Pittsburgh. Miami would have a more favorable matchup as No. 5 seed at Houston only if Dolphins beat New England this coming week and the Chiefs lose at San Diego. A friend of mine in the business of setting betting lines early-estimates that Miami would be around a 6-8 point underdog at Pittsburgh but that a game at Houston would be close to even with perhaps the Dolphins opening as very slight favorites.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: 98.3%: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show a season-high 98.3 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Saturday's 34-31 overtime win at Buffalo putting DsmMiami's season record at 10-5 and helping qualify for the playoffs. The DSM 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. Results are certified official the day after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 8:45 a.m. today/Monday.

2016 DSM results

G1: 52.5% (following 12-10 loss at Seattle)

G2: 13.3% (following 31-24 loss at New England)

G3: 9.9% (following 30-24 OT victory vs. Cleveland)

G4: 3.0% (following 22-7 loss at Cincinnati)

G5: 3.2% (following 30-17 loss vs. Tennessee)

G6: 67.4% (following 30-15 victory vs. Pittsburgh)

G7: 90.9% (following 28-25 victory vs. Buffalo)

G8: 94.0% (following 27-23 victory vs. N.Y. Jets)

G9: 96.8% (following 31-24 victory at San Diego)

G10: 95.7% (following 14-10 victory at Los Angeles)

G11: 95.9% (following 31-24 victory vs. San Francisco)

G12: 34.8% (following 38-6 loss at Baltimore)

G13: 93.2% (following 26-23 victory vs. Arizona)

G14: 98.0% (following 34-13 victory at N.Y. Jets)

G15: 98.3% (following 34-31 OT victory at Buffalo)

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (UPDATED): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive every-Sunday feature, updated Mondays, is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, but from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Fins win in Buffalo, clinch playoffs Sunday: Well, Dolfans sure got what they wanted for Christmas. Miami in the playoffs. Feels weird, right? The Dolphins' 34-31 overtime victory at Buffalo Saturday and then Denver's loss Sunday night puts Fins in postseason for first time since 2008. There is a Santa Claus! There is a Santa Claus!

2. HURRICANES: Canes try to end long bowl drought this week: The Dolphins' playoff drought (now ending) gets all the attention, but UM is on an 0-6 bowl run dating to 2006. That's four coaches ago. And that is why Wednesday's game vs. West Virginia in Orlando matters so much to this UM program.

3. ORANGE BOWL: Michigan, Florida State tee it up Friday: Miami isn't hosting a College Football Playoff game this year (the semifinals are in six days), but the OB gets the next-best thing in No. 6 Michigan and No. 11 Florida State, two top-tier teams that began the season with national-championship hopes.

4. PANTHERS: Ageless Jagr vaults to second in NHL career points: Cats are a disappointing 15-20 and skating off playoff pace so far, but holiday cheer visited as Jaromir Jagr scored his 1,888th career point to move into second all-time behind only some guy named Wayne Gretzky. Even more impressive: Jagr turns 45 in February.

5. HEAT: Miami retires Shaquille O'Neal's jersey: Heat fans celebrated the Miami career of Shaq and recalled the 2006 NBA title he helped win as the franchise retired his No. 32. With the current Heat team mired with a record of 10-21 and hosting Oklahoma City Tuesday, celebrating anything felt good.

6. NFL: Chase for final playoff spots dominates league storyline: The Cleveland Browns won! The Cleveland Browns won! But the playoff picture is the big news, of course. Entering tonight's game 10 of the 12 playoff spots have been locked down, including the Dolphins, with the Lions and Packers frontrunners for the final two.

7. CHRISTMAS: Jesus! Sports have taken over holiday: To Christians, yesterday was first and foremost a day to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. To others, it was a day to open gifts and watch five NBA games and two NFL games in a nonstop, noon-to-midnight banquet of sports.

8. UM BASKETBALL: Canes women prepare for No. 7 FSU: UM's men (9-2 but unranked) are having a nice seasons. But the Canes' women are better so far, 11-1, ranked NO. 11 and hosting No. 7 Florida State this coming Thursday.

9. GOLF: Tiger, Trump play a round: President-elect Donald Trump and Tiger Woods (wearing a white billygoat goatee) played golf Friday at Trump's course in West Palm Beach. No word on who won. But if Woods won, I wonder if trump thought the result was rigged?

10. UFC: Rousey prepares for comeback: Ronda Rousey make her comeback this coming Friday by headlining UFC 207 in Las Vegas. Question, though: If you've barely been gone long enough to be missed ... is it really a comeback?

Missing the HB10 cut: Hurricanes left seven behind on the bowl trip to Orlando for not meeting program standards. Notable are Gerald Willis, a D-line contributor, and Micheal Irvin Jr. The capacity of college athletes to do something dumb never ceases to amaze ..... Baseball Hall of Fame ballots are due this week. Mine's already in. I voted for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, but I doubt again there were enough like me ..... Thank you, Mike Krzyzewski, for indefinitely suspending spoiled brat Grayson Allen for intentionally and repeatedly tripping opponents. Dear Grayson: America hates you ..... Defensive linemen Ndamukong Suh and Cam Wake were the Dolphins' only Pro Bowl choices. Some thought Jarvis Landry got snubbed. Um, he has three TD catches, not a Pro Bowl number ..... A developmental spring league unaffiliated with the NFL is to launch in April 2017 and, other than unemployed NFL free agents, nobody cares ..... Floyd Mayweather said he'd "slap the s---" out of Conor McGregor. America responded it would like to "slap the s---" out of Floyd Mayweather.

G15: DOLPHINS 34, BUFFALO 31 (FINAL/OT): HUGE ROAD WIN HAS MIAMI THISCLOSE TO PLAYOFFS!: Final thoughts: Miami's defense allowed 589 yards and twice blew 14-point leads but all that matters is a 34-31 win at Buffalo, a 10-5 record, and the driver's seat to end an eight-year playoff drought. Miami needs a loss by Denver Sunday night or a win vs. New England next week in Miami for its first postseason since 2008. Jay Ajayi's 206 yards on 32 carries lifted and carried Miami all day -- his third 200-yard game of the season .....  OT: Franks 27-yard FG wins it for MIA 34-31! ... BUF timeout as Miami set to try game-winning 27-yard FG with 51 seconds ... Ajayi has third 200-yard game of year, leaves game with banged up shoulder ... Ajayi 57-yard run (giving him almost 200 for day) has Dolphins in position for game-winning FG! ... Miami  forces Bills punt. With 4 minutes left, a no-decision tie game is a looming possibility ... Dolphins punting. Punting in OT is seldom a good thing, although Miami downs it at BUF 4 ... Still tied as BUF's Carpenter misses 45-yard FG try. What luck for Miami! ... Bison win coin toss and on the move. Uh oh ..... 4Q: Oh man. Franks career-long 55-yasrd FG ties it 31-31 with six seconds left, forces overtime ..... Wow. Buffalo take first lead at 31-28 with 1:20 left on Taylor 7-yard TD pass to ex-Fin Clay ... Bills trick-play completion to Woods off lateral back to QB ... Defense stiffens, holds BUF to 28-yard FG and it's now 28-24 ... Oh my. Twelve men on defense gives BUF first down on 4th and 1 play ... Franks 46-yard FG try bounces off goalpost no good ... 3Q: Turning into a shootout. BUF within 28-21 on Taylor 18-yard TD pass to ex-Fin Charles Clay ... Damien Williams 44-yard catch and run for Fins sets up 6-yard Moore to Stills TD pass; MIA up 28-14 ... BUF within 21-14 on McCoy 19-yard TD run ... Miami 21-7 on Moore 56-yard TD pass to Parker. I said they'd need more from Moore in second half. Done! ..... Halftime thoughts: Miami with nervous 14-7 lead. Will need more from Matt Moore in second half. He's 5-for-14 for 57 yards with one pick, a 19.0 passer rating. Bills outgaining Miami in total yards 212-183 ..... 2Q: Momentum swinging to Bills late in half as Moore intercepted in end zone ... BUF within 14-7 on gorgeous 38-yard scoring pass into end zone and Watkins' hands ... Big 4th and 1 defensive stop for Miami. All Fins so far ... Bills fans in a booing mood. Can you blame 'em? ... Drake busts 45-yard scoring for for 14-0 MIA lead. Play was bottled up to left; Drake reversed field and was untouched along sideline ..... 1Q: Dolfans thanking ex-Fin Carpenter as he pushes 46-yard FG try wide ... So dumb! Bills delay of game on 3rd and 5 at edge of FG range ... Good sign: Ajayi 43 yards, 6.1 per in first quarter ... MIA 7-0 on Ajayi 2-yard run ... Dolphins 3-and-out on their first series, too ... Miami opens with defensive 3-and-out ..... Original post: Maybe it's that the Dolphins are missing their starting quarterback and last week's big game by backup Matt Moore didn't convince everybody. Maybe it's that people can't imagine that a team from Miami (d.b.a "South Beach") won't wither and shrink in today's Buffalo weather -- temps in the 30s with a Miabufchance of sleety rain for the 1 p.m. kickoff. Or maybe it's simply that, despite the Fins superior record (9-5 to 7-7), folks just think the Bills are better. Whatever the reason, Buffalo opened as a 3 1/2-point betting favorite and that jacked up to today's 4 1/2 as money poured in on the Bills. The point is, the proving continues for Miami as it endeavors to make the playoffs for the first time since 2008. It could happen this Christmas Weekend. It isn't complicated: Miami ends its eight-season playoff drought if it beats the Bills today and if Denver loses Christmas night in Kansas City. But if Miami loses today, or if the Broncos win Sunday, it will come down to the final week of the season for the Fins' postseason fate to be known. The first part of the equation -- beating the Bills --  won’t be easy. The Dolphins haven’t won in Buffalo since 2011, freezing rain is forecast, and the Bills — with only infinitesimal, barely breathing playoff hopes — are in a classic spoiler’s role vs. their AFC East rivals. Fins beat Buffs 28-25 in Miami on Oct. 23 as Bison blew an 11-point lead entering fourth quarter. Jay Ajayi galloped for 214 yards that day but has only 205 yards in his past four games combined. LeSean McCoy is the hottest runner entering this game. Tyrod Taylor could be a handful, too. He has a 122.8 rating his past three games vs. MIA and leads all QBs with 520 yards rushing this season. I respect the 8-1 run Miami is on that has made playoff hopes real, but I consider Buffalo to be just as good and think the home-field edge in this weather will be large. Also, Moore will be facing a much better pass defense than the Jets’ version he scalpeled last week. Sorry, Dolfans, but Grinch Cote says no playoff-clinch this week. My pick: Buffalo, 23-20.

Poll result: Most see Whiteside as a Heat keeper, but many do not: Pat Riley says he'll "rebuild quick." We asked if you think Hassan Whiteside will be a centerpiece of the rebuild or be traded away, and it was 59.3 percent centerpiece and 40.7% traded away.

 
Revisit our blog often because we update and add to our latest posts throughout the day.

Twitter @gregcote