November 02, 2017

On Dolphins' Jay Ajayi trade: Poll. Vote now!; plus Herald NFL QB rankings, Bills-Jets pick, Stephen Ross' big win, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy results, new Back In My Day video, updated SOPY standings (Canes' Rosier makes his move), a message for UM fans & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 2. Click Thursday Gem for my pick on tonight's Bills-Jets Thursday Night Football game. 2) Know any people who are serious Dolfans despite last Thursday? Surprise and delight them with our book on club's first half-century. Click Fins At 50. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Canes win at North Carolina with CSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 , state Collball Week 9, The List (college coach-salaries) & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Miami, Stephen Ross win big: Miami and Hard Rock Stadium are awarded the 2020-season college football national championship game and it's a huge win for the city, Stephen Ross and (maybe) the Hurricanes. Click Miami Wins Again for my latest column.

Dolphins' Jay Ajayi trade: Dumb!: Miami traded its young, really good No. 1 running back and got in exchange the NFL equivalent of a tackling sled and a box of kicking tees. Dumb. Dumb! Dumbdumbdumb. Click How to Make a Bad Offense Worse for my column.

A message for Hurricanes fans: Quit finding fault at 7-0: Desperate Gators turn to Randy Shannon. Embarrassed Seminoles are 2-5. Is this really the season you want to look at Hurricanes' 7-0 record and complain it hasn't been dominant enough? Click Appreciate Perfection -- Period.

JayaON DOLPHINS' JAY AJAYI TRADE: YAY OR NAY? VOTE NOW: I have had my say. The link to my column is just above here. I think the Dolphins trading their top young running back and getting next to nothing in return made a bad offense worse, erased somebody the team should have made a part of its future, and was just plain dumb. No spinning it. No yeah-buts. No equivocation. DUMB! But that's just me. Now have your say:

BRADY OVERTAKES SMITH FOR SEASON LEAD / HERALD QB RANKINGS / WEEK 8Miami’s favorite quarterback -- not -- has
Tbradyovertaken first place after Week 8 in the Miami Herald's latest NFL quarterback season rankings. That would be the Patriots’ Tom Brady (pictured) surpassing the Chiefs’ Alex Smith, who has led all but one week this season. Seattle’s Russell Wilson climbs to fifth place overall on the strength of a 47.60-point week that gave Wilson his second straight weekly title. This is the 20th season of our Passer Success System (PASS) rankings, which began in 1998. Our formula is simple and unchanged since its inception, factoring accuracy, yardage, TD-interception ratio and team result. Most major ranking systems such as the NFL's and ESPN's are complicated and percentile based, allowing QBs who miss half a season to still win a title, while our system is cumulative, rewarding players who are consistently productive and avoid injury or benching. Because the rankings are cumulative, players on a bye week take a temporary hit that evens out over the course of a season.

RK LW Player, Team                  Wk8       Season

1     2 Tom Brady, NE                  41.65     302.05

2     1 Alex Smith, KC                 15.10     286.05

3     4 Drew Brees, NO               37.95      246.55

4     3 Carson Wentz, PHI           22.55      238.15

5   10 Russell Wilson, SEA           47.60     228.40

6     6 Josh McCown, NYJ           37.85      227.00

7     5 Kirk Cousins, WAS             26.15     222.00

8     7 Philip Rivers, LAC             14.60     197.40

9   12 Ben Roethlisberger, PIT     23.85     197.10

10 16 Matt Ryan, ATL                 30.70     195.20

11 19 Matthew Stafford, DET     30.15      187.55

12 14 Dak Prescott, DAL             18.15     186.45

13 18 Derek Carr, OAK               25.65      185.70

14 15 Cam Newton, CAR            16.70      183.05

15  8 Aaron Rodgers, GB             BYE       182.25

16 21 Case Keenum, MIN            33.40     181.50

17t 20 Deshaun Watson, HOU     31.10     180.95

17t  9 Carson Palmer, ARI           BYE       180.95

19 11 Eli Manning, NYG              BYE       174.00

20 17 Jameis Winston, TB          8.50       172.65

29 29 Jay Cutler, MIA                 DNP       118.75

37 38 Matt Moore, MIA              8.80         29.20

Bubble: Jared Goff, LAR, 171.20. Week 8 best: Wilson, SEA, 47.60 (26-41, 452, 4-1 in win). Week 8 worst: Mitch Trubisky, CHI, 1.20 (14-32, 164, 0-1 in loss).

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: WEEK 8 RESULTS: Every week in the blog I tell you know how I did the previous NFL weekend with my FripixMiami Herald predictions and with my Greg's Lobos team in the LeBatard Show fantasy league. WEEK 8Herald picks: Disappointing. Went an OK 9-4 straight-up and a poor 5-8 against the spread. That included a huge misfire in believing Dolphins would win at Baltimore. Greg's Lobos: Lobos sank to 5-3 (still tied for second in the league) with a 83.3 to 66.6 loss to Roy. Is it even possible to score fewer points? We got bitten by the bye bug bad. Still, no excuses. Never a good sign when your leading score is tight end Kyle Rudolph with 14.7 points. #GoLobosGo

SOPY STANDINGS / WEEK 9: MIAMI'S ROSIER JUMPS TO 2ND IN 'STATE HEISMAN' RACE: Malik Rosiers' 216-point game at North Carolina (second-best among state FBS schools this past weekend) lifted him one spot to second place, now narrowly trailing only UCF's McKenzie SopyMilton, in the race for the Herald's 2017 State Offensive Player of the Year award -- the "state Heisman." Devin Singletary's 279-point game for FAU, a statewide season high, solidified his hold on fourth place. Our weekly rankings measure the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers from the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. The rankings are cumulative but based weekly on average points per game: Total points divided by number of games a player's team has played. This keeps the comparison even because not all teams have played the same number of games. Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown.

SOPY Top 10 entering Week 10:

RK  LW  Player, School-Pos.                      Average        Total (Games)

1     1   McKenzie Milton-UCF qb               196.93         1,378.5 (7)

2     3   Malik Rosier-Miami qb                  194.36          1,360.5 (7)

3     2   Quinton Flowers-SoFla qb             191.38         1,531 (8)

4     4   Devin Singletary, FAU-rb               158.88         1,271 (8)

5     5   Alex McGough-FIU qb                   132.93            930.5 (7)

6     6   Thomas Owens-FIU rec                 111.64           781.5 (7)

7     7   Travis Homer-Miami rb                 103.71           726 (7)

8     9    Darius Tice-SoFla rb                      98.13           785 (8)

9     8   Cam Akers-FSU rb                          97.50           682.5 (7)

10  --   D'Ernest Johnson-SoFla rb               90.13           721 (8)

Bubble: Marquez Valdes-Scantling-SoFla rec, 88.38. Other team leader: Malik Davis-Florida rb, 85.14. Week 9 best: Singletary-FAU rb, 279 points. Season best: Singletary-FAU rb, 279 points (W9).

Cote's State of the State rankings: 1. Miami (7-0); 2. UCF (7-0); 3. South Florida (7-1); 4. Florida (3-4); 5. Florida State (2-5); 6. FIU (5-2); 7. FAU (5-3).

LATEST 'BACK IN MY DAY': HALLOWEEN!: In our latest LeBatard Show BIMD rant I lay out my rules for Halloween. How many did you observe followed or broken on your street last night?

Select other recent columns: Along For the Ride On the Road to 'Back' (UM at7-0). Dolphins Debacle (quick hits 40-0 loss in Baltimore). Time Is Right For Dolphins To Prove Doubters Wrong (on three straight prime-time games). The Godfather Speaks (Pat Riley exclusive). Also: Latest Drama in Bizarre, Trying SeasonIt Isn't Just CutlerBack On Track & Ready To Roar. Jeter Betting On JeterHope 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 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 23, 2017

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 93.0%. Still in the stratosphere; plus No. 8 UM beats Syracuse 27-19 to stay unbeaten; also, rest of Collball Week 8 (updated), Heat win 30th home Opening Night & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, OCTOBER 21. Click Cemetery Joggers for this week's latest Back In My Day video from the radio show. 2) 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. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Week 7 picks, your Heat expectations verdict, my Pat Riley column, Herald NFL QB rankings, NFL Pix n' Fantasy results, updated SOPY standings & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Heat home opener / Pat Riley column: Heat opened at home with win last night vs. Indiana after losing Game 1 in Orlando earlier in week. In exclusive 30-minute sit-down interview, Heat majordomo Pat Riley reflects on 50 years in NBA, how he's changed and his hopes for season. Click The Godfather Speaks to read.

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G6: 93.0%: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 93.0 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Saturday's 27-19 victory over visiting Syracuse putting No. UM’s season record at 6-0 overall and 4-0 in the ACC. The CSM polls are your invitation after every Canes game to share your overall degree of satisfaction with the team. Criteria for voting is your own, but we suggest you consider the latest performance and caliber of opponent, the season as a whole, the direction of the program and your overall sense of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Poll results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 9:30 a.m. today/Monday.
 
 
 
2017 CSM results
G1: 69.5% following 41-13 victory vs. Bethune-Cookman
G2: 83.9% following 52-30 victory vs. Toledo
G3: 96.5% following 31-6 victory at Duke
G4: 97.6% following game 24-20 victory at Florida State
G5: 96.0% following 25-24 victory vs. Georgia Tech
G6: 93.0% following 27-19 victory vs. Syracuse
Next poll: Oct. 28 following game at North Carolina

 

G6: SYRACUSE AT NO. 8 HURRICANES: UM COULD USE A REST, BUT CAN'T SLEEP ON ORANGE: Postgame thoughts: Malik Rosier's 344 yards passing and two TDs fronted Miami's big 27-19 victory over visiting Syracuse Saturday, but the win keeping No. 8 Miami unbeaten really happened because of UM's defense against Orange passer Eric Dungey. He was a nightmarish 14 for 41 with four interceptions. That Turnover Chain was busy ..... Original postConsecutive emotional, close, last-second wins -- 24-20 at nemesis Florida State, then 25-24 vs. Georgia Tech -- threaten to have the Hurricanes mentally drained, sort of needing a soft spot on the schedule to coast Syrmiathrough on auto-pilot. This looked like that week, once. That was until Syracuse stunned No. 2 Clemson last week, an attention getter for the Canes that lent backbone to Mark Richt's rote preaching about how dangerous the next opponent is. The Orange with Syrmia65prolific QB Eric Dungey will be the biggest test of the season so far for Miami's secondary, and, as Clemson learned, Syracuse can also bring it on defense. Syracuse is 4-3 but has won two straight. No. 8 Miami is 5-0 and favored by 17, up from an opening 14. With the first College Football Playoff rankings near, this is not a game for UM to lose if this season is to continue special. With ABC cameras watching, this 3:30 Saturday game will be another great stage for UM to preen, grow its brand and continue toward "Back" -- or to slip and fall with the nation watching. Canes have won 10 in a row dating to last season; why stop now? I like Richt's perspective on being ranked so high: "First of all, you're not a Top-10 program unless at the end of the year you're a Top-10 program," he said. "We were ranked 10th last year and lost four in a row, so we became unranked. We were happy to be ranked at the end of the year [a final 20th after a bowl win]. But we're not at the point where we can just line up and impose our will on people." That makes Syracuse an opponent UM will have to work hard and play well to beat. I believe the Canes will. (Pictured left: A bit of nostalgia. Cover of a Syracuse-Miami program from game played in 1965). My pick: Hurricanes, 34-23.

Other state FBS Week 8 games (all Saturday, chronologically):

Louisville 31, Florida State 28: Nightmare season continues for preseason No. 3 Noles, now 2-4 and likely headed to a dismal bowl.

No. 20 UCF 31, Navy 21: Knights sink Navy to stay unbeaten in maybe toughest test thus far.

FAU 69, North Texas 31: Home-nesting Owls were narrow favorites but moved to 4-3 with authority. 

No. 16 South Florida 34, Tulane 28: Bulls now 7-0, but didn't think it would be easy, and it wasn't.

Off this week: FIU (4-2, next at Marshall); and Florida (3-3, next vs. No. 3 Georgia).

National Collball Week 8 overview: Two big Top 25 matchups this week as first College Football Playoff rankings loom: No. 2 Penn State handled No. 19 Michigan 42-13, No. 13 Notre Dame upended and 11-Southern Cal 49-14.

Select other recent columns: Minor Miracle Bails Out Richt's Gamble (Saturday's UM win over Georgia Tech). 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 20, 2017

NFL picks for Dolphins-Jets, rest of Week 7; plus your verdict on Heat expectations, my Pat Riley column, Herald NFL QB rankings, Pix 'n Fantasy results, new 'Back In My Day,' latest SOPY standings & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, OCTOBER 20. 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): Dolphins stun Atlanta with DSM poll, The List (Fins), Hot Button Top 10 & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

My Pat Riley column: In exclusive 30-minute sit-down interview, Heat's majordomo reflects on 50 years in NBA, how he's changed and his hopes for this Heat season as it began with loss in Orlando and opens at home Saturday. Click The Godfather Speaks to read in full.

Latest BIMD: Cemetery Joggers!: The latest Back In My Day segment rails against the gall of people who use cemeteries as places to exercise. Click Cemetery Joggers for the video.

UPSET BIRD DAY IN AMERICA! NFL WEEK 7 PICKS: DOLPHINS MAINTAIN MO', BEAT STINKIN' JETS: The Dolphins and Dolfans will beat the Jets and all those Fripixobnoxious NYJ fans Sunday at The Rock in a low-scoring game. If you're at the game, single out that one fat New Yorker shoehorned into that Gastineau jersey and make fun of him. I'm not normally that mean, but I make exceptions for Jets fans. Click Week 7 Gems for our predix-capsules on Dolphins-Jets, our Game of the Week (Patriots-Falcons) and Upset of the Week (Saints-Packers: "Aawwk!"), plus all our other latest picks. Our week got off to a crazy/unlucky/disappointing start last night. We had Chiefs (-3) covering in a win, and they were up 30-21 in fourth quarter, only to lose on final play, 31-30.

POLL RESULT: IT'S HIGH-40S WINS, PLAYOFFS FOR HEAT: You may still vote in poll directly below, but we'll call it now officially. We asked what is most likely number of Miami Heat regular-season wins in 2017-18? Your verdict: 50 plus--27.4 percent; 45 to 49--49.8%; 40 to 44--15.1%; 35 to 39--5.1%; and 34 below--2.6%. That's more than 77% who clearly expect playoffs, and some 92% in that low-40s wins typically sneaks in. 

DragicwhitesideHEAT EXPECTATIONS POLL: SETTING BAR FOR THE 2017-18 SEASON: The Miami Heat last season finished 41-41 and (narrowly) missed the playoffs, though it seems better in the recollection because of the 30-11 record the second half of the schedule. That leads to an assumption of overall improvement from a team led by Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside (pictured). Yet outside expectations are somewhat modest as the season opened with loss last night in Orlando, and resumes Saturday at home vs. Indiana. For example, ESPN's Power Rankings entering the regular season has Miami slotted only seventh best in the Eastern Conference (eight make the playoffs) and 18th overall in the 30-team NBA. The Heat's projected record is put at 43-39. Now what do you think? What is your honest, realistic expectation for the season based on anticipated number of regular-season wins? Remember: Not asking what you hope happens ... but rather what you'd bet will. Vote now.

 

SMITH STAYS NO. 1 OVER BRADY, CUTLER INCHES UP / HERALD QB RANKINGS / WEEK 6: The Cardinals' Carson Palmer wins Week 6 honors with a 39.15- Arodgerspoint game (unusually low for a winning total), while the Chiefs' Alex Smith keeps his overall lead ahead of Patriot Tom Brady in the Miami Herald's latest NFL quarterback rankings. Packer Aaron Rodgers (pictured) is third but will fall week by week with his season-ending injury. The Dolphins' Jay Cutler inches up one spot, to 29th overall. This is the 20th season of our Passer Success System (PASS) rankings, which began in 1998. Our formula is simple and unchanged since its inception, factoring accuracy, yardage, TD-interception ratio and team result. Most major ranking systems such as the NFL's and ESPN's are complicated and percentile based, allowing QBs who miss half a season to still win a title, while our system is cumulative, rewarding players who are consistently productive and avoid injury or benching. Because the rankings are cumulative, players on a bye week take a temporary hit that evens out over the course of a season.

MIAMI HERALD PASS RANKINGS / WEEK 6

RK   LW   Player, Team                     WK6       Season

1      1     Alex Smith, KC                   19.30      230.85

2      2     Tom Brady, NE                    22.85     223.95

3      3     Aaron Rodgers, GB               0.90     182.25

4      4     Carson Wentz, PHI             27.10     179.20

5      9     Carson Palmer, ARI             39.15    175.85

6      5     Drew Brees, NO                  25.30    174.05

7     12    Josh McCown, NYJ              32.70    165.70

8      6     Eli Manning, NYG                17.40    165.30

9    14     Philip Rivers, LAC               35.40     158.65

10    8     Matthew Stafford, DET       13.60     157.40

11   18    Kirk Cousins, WAS                37.50    154.70

12    7     Cam Newton, CAR                9.95     153.80

13    16    Deshaun Watson, HOU        27.25     149.85

14   13     Jared Goff, LAR                  15.20    147.45

15   17     Ben Roethlisberger, PIT       26.60    147.05

16   20     Matt Ryan, ATL                   25.40    136.85

17   10     Dak Prescott, DAL                BYE     135.60

18   11     Russell Wilson, SEA              BYE     135.10

19   23     Case Keenum, MIN              26.95    127.70

20   24     Trevor Siemian, DEN           23.80     124.20

29   30     Jay Cutler, MIA                   20.55       98.85

Bubble: Andy Dalton, CIN, 123.00. Week 6 best: Palmer, ARI, 39.15 (18-22, 283, 3-1 in win). Week 6 worst: Brian Hoyer, SF, minus-1.30 (4-11, 34, 0-0 in loss).  

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: WEEK 6 RESULTS: Every week in the blog I tell you know how I did the previous NFL weekend with my Miami Herald Fripix Lobospredictions and with my Greg's Lobos team in the LeBatard Show fantasy league. WEEK 6Herald picks: Improvement, at least. After a nightmarish recent slump, we'll take an 8-6 overall and do cartwheels over a 7-5-2 against the spread (two games were off the board when we picked 'em). Highlights: Nailed our Upset of the Week with Steelers over Chiefs ("Aawwk!"), hit another outright upset with Vikings over Packers, hit a third (barely) upset with Cardinals over Bucs, and had underdog Dolphins and Jets with the points. Greg's Lobos: Tough loss, 107.3-101.4, to Chris. Byes hit us hard but Lobos scrambled to put six in double figures, led by Jarvis Landry's 20.2, but lost it with only 11.5 from Drew Brees. What are the odds Saints top 50 points but Brees has an off game!? Oh well. 'Bos still 4-2 and only one game back. #GoLobosGo

SOPY STANDINGS / WEEK 7: CANES' ROSIER IN 3-MAN BATTLE FOR 'STATE HEISMAN'Miami quarterback Malik Rosier remains a solid third in what keeps Sopylooking like a three-man race for the Herald's 2017 State Offensive Player of the Year award -- the "state Heisman." Canes running back Mark Walton, out injured for the season, is seventh and falling. UM back Travis Homer is back in the chart in ninth place after a week-leading 200-point game. Our weekly rankings measure the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers from the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. The rankings are cumulative but based weekly on average points per game: Total points divided by number of games a player's team has played. This keeps the comparison level even because not all teams have played same number of games. Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown.

SOPY Top 10 entering Week 8:

RK  LW  Player, School-Pos.                      Average        Total/Games

1    1    McKenzie Milton-UCF qb               207.60         1,038 / 5

2    2    Quinton Flowers-SoFla qb             188.33         1,130 / 6

3    3    Malik Rosier-Miami qb                  183.10          915.5 / 5

4    6    Alex McGough-FIU qb                   134.50          807 / 6

5    4    Devin Singletary-FAU rb               134.33          806 / 6

6    8    Thomas Owens-FIU rec                109.25          655.5 / 6

7    5    Mark Walton-Miami rb                  107.40          537 / 5

8   --    Cam Akers-FSU rb                         103.20          516 / 5

9   --    Travis Homer-Miami rb                  100.20          501 / 5

10   9   Tre'Quan Smith-UCF rec                 97.20          486 / 5

Bubble: D'Ernest Johnson-So Fla rb, 97.17. Other team leader: Malik Davis-Florida rb, 95.00. Week 7 best: Homer-Miami rb, 200 points. Season best: Flowers-SoFla qb, 276 points (W3).

Cote's State of the State rankings: 1. Miami (5-0); 2. South Florida (6-0); 3. UCF (5-0); 4. Florida State (2-3); 5. Florida (3-3); 6. FIU (4-2); 7. FAU (3-3).

Select other recent columns: Minor Miracle Bails Out Richt's Gamble (Saturday's UM win over Georgia Tech). 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 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 13, 2017

Surprise! Your poll verdict on benching Jay Cutler better than expected for the embattled Dolphins QB; plus NFL Week 6 picks for Fins-Falcons & more

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

Friday13th1) It is FRIDAY, OCTOBER 13. Stay in bed, paraskevidekatriaphobes! Whatever you do, do not leave the house!! 2) 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. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Jay Cutler poll, Snortgate column, Herald Week 5 NFL QB rankings, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy results, SOPY standings & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

JaycurtlerPOLL RESULT: YOUR BENCH-CUTLER VERDICT BETTER FOR JAY THAN EXPECTED: We asked, "Should the Dolphins bench quarterback Jay Cutler?" This in the wake of some fans chanting for that at last week's game, but coach Adam Gase firmly stating that-ain't-gonna-happen. Players in turn have predictably publicly supported Cutler. Maybe some of the thinking is that, after a week dealing with an assistant coach quitting in a cocaine/stripper scandal, perhaps further controversy ought be avoided. In any case, a huge vote as you'd expect, and it was 45.36 percent "Yes" to bench Cutler, 39.15% "Not yet but soon if offense doesn't improve," and 15.49% "No." That's better than I thought for Jay. Yes, strong support on either extreme was nearly 3-to-1 against him. But, a pretty sizable middle ground is calling for a bit more patience. And if you were to spin it in his favor, a majority of 54.64% don't think he should be benched ... or at least not yet.

FripixUPSET BIRD DAY IN AMERICA! NFL WEEK 6 PICKS: THE GOOD NEWS? DOLPHINS OFFENSE AWAKENS A BIT...: Dolphins face a tough road game Sunday in Atlanta as (tied for) the NFL's biggest Week 6 underdog. The good news? I have Miami with a needed offensive breakout, and beating the point spread. But winning? Not quite. Click on Week 6 Gems for our predix-capsules on Dolphins-Falcons, our Game of the Week (Steelers-Chiefs) and Upset of the Week (also Steelers-Chiefs: "Aawwk!"). That's right. Kansas City, the only unbeaten left, loses. So it'll be a great day for the '72 Dolphins, and at least a somewhat encouraging one for the 2017 Fins. Our week got off to a disappointing start last night. Saw Panthers (-3 1/2) winning and covering vs. Eagles, 27-23. Had a near-exact-score but it was flipped, with Birds winning, 28-23.

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 12, 2017

Time for Dolphins to bench Jay Cutler? (Adam Gase won't take a public poll ... but I will). Vote now!; plus Eagles-Panthers pick, Herald Week 5 NFL QB rankings, our NFL Pix 'n Fantasy results, Snortgate column, Canes in latest SOPY standings & more

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

1) It is THURSDAY, OCTOBER 12. 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. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins beat Titans with DSM poll, Fins line coach snorts way out of job, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

Dolphins: On Chris Foerster / Snortgate: Assistant coach appears in scandalous video, snorts his way out of job. Can't make this stuff up, folks. Click Latest Drama in Bizarre, Trying Season for my latest  column. On Jay Cutler, offense: Even winning, Dolphins offense continues woeful. Click It Isn't Just Cutler for my column from Sunday's game.

Thursday's Eagles-Panthers pick: Click on Thursday Gem for tonight's prediction capsule.

JaycutlerTHE JAY CUTLER POLL: TIME TO BENCH HIM?: You heard Dolfans in the stadium Sunday with their "We want Moore!" chants calling for backup quarterback Matt Moore to replace struggling starter Jay Cutler. You have heard media blowhards with no dog in the hunt lobbing opinions from afar, with Boomer Esiason, Tony Dungy, Rodney Harrison and others calling for a change. You also have heard coach Adam Gase saying he has not intention of a change, saying blame for offensive woes is everywhere and that Cutler is "way down the list" of problems. I agree with Gase, as I wrote in this column from Sunday's game. Moore might be a popular fix, but not necessarily a smart one, or a fix at all. Gase said he wouldn't be swayed by outside views, saying Sunday, "We're not going to take public polls." OK, maybe he isn't. But I am! I'm taking a public poll! Right here and now. No idea how this vote will turn out (well, I think I do), but in any case vote and be heard, even if Mr. Gase doesn't want to listen:

SMITH RETAKES SEASON LEAD FROM BRADY, CUTLER CONTINUES TO FALL / HERALD QB RANKINGS / WEEK 5: The Chiefs' AlexsmithAlex Smith (pictured) wins Week 5 honors with a 51.20-point game and nudges past Patriot Tom Brady for the season lead in the Miami Herald's latest NFL quarterback rankings. The Dolphins' Jay Cutler falls a few more spots, to 30th overall. As the season enters its heart we expand our weekly chart from a Top 15 to a Top 20. This is the 20th season of our Passer Success System (PASS) rankings, which began in 1998. Our formula is simple and unchanged since its inception, factoring accuracy, yardage, TD-interception ratio and team result. Most major ranking systems such as the NFL's and ESPN's are complicated and percentile based, allowing QBs who miss half a season to still win a title, while our system is cumulative, rewarding players who are consistently productive and avoid injury or benching. Because the rankings are cumulative, players on a bye week take a temporary hit that evens out over the course of a season.

MIAMI HERALD PASS RANKINGS / WEEK 5

RK   LW   Player, Team                     WK5       Season

1      2     Alex Smith, KC                   51.20      211.55

2      1     Tom Brady, NE                    40.15     201.10

3      4     Aaron Rodgers, GB             34.05     181.35

4     10    Carson Wentz, PHI             41.20     152.10

5      3     Drew Brees, NO                  BYE       148.75

6      5     Eli Manning, NYG               20.25     147.90

7     22    Cam Newton, CAR              50.75     143.85

8      8     Matthew Stafford, DET       28.45     143.80

9    13     Carson Palmer, ARI             29.55     136.70

10  14     Dak Prescott, DAL               32.55     135.60

11  11     Russell Wilson, SEA             25.90     135.10

12  18     Josh McCown, NYJ              33.70     133.00

13   6      Jared Goff, LAR                   5.40      132.25

14  16     Philip Rivers, LAC               21.90      123.25

15  19     Andy Dalton, CIN                26.40      123.00

16  21     Deshaun Watson, HOU         29.05     122.60

17  12     Ben Roethlisberger, PIT       11.60     120.45

18   7      Kirk Cousins, WAS                 BYE      117.20

19  23     Jameis Winston, TB             25.70     115.90

20   9      Matt Ryan, ATL                    BYE       111.45

30  27      Jay Cutler, MIA                    7.60       78.30

Bubble: Tyrod Taylor, BUF, 106.50. Week 5 best: Smith, KC, 51.20 (29-37, 324, 3-0 in win). Week 5 worst: DeShone Kizer, CLE, 0.35 (8-17, 87, 0-1 in loss).

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: WEEK 5 RESULTS: Every Tuesday in the blog I tell you know how I did the previous NFL weekend with Fripix Lobosmy Miami Herald predictions and with my Greg's Lobos team in the LeBatard Show fantasy league. In Week 5: Herald picks: Embarrassment continues! -- It won't end. And it's getting worse. The season is kicking my ass. The Dolphins offense is outperforming me. I went a horrific 6-8 overall last week and an even-worse 3-10-1 against the spread. I'd elaborate, but it's too painful. If this ain't rock bottom, I'm in trouble. much else went right. Greg's Lobos: And the W Train keeps rollin'! -- Opposite of our picks, the Lobos improved to 4-1 (tied for the league lead) by beating Mike, 100-85.8. We had starter Drew Brees on a bye and backup Sam Bradford iffy to play, so we signed and started (are you ready?) Brian Hoyer. And got a team-leading 22.1 points from him. That's coaching, baby! #GoLobosGo

SOPY RANKINGS / WEEK 6: CANES' ROSIER MAINTAINS 3RD PLACE IN 'STATE HEISMAN' RACE: Miami quarterback Malik Rosier remains a solid third in what is Mmilton Sopylooking like a three-man race for the Herald's 2017 State Offensive Player of the Year award -- the "state Heisman." Canes running back Mark Walton is in fifth place but will tumble week by week now that he is done for the season with an ankle injury. Season frontrunner McKenzie Milton of UCF is pictured. Our weekly rankings measure the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers from the state's seven FBS teams: Miami, Florida, Florida State, FIU, FAU, UCF and South Florida. The rankings are cumulative but based weekly on average points per game: Total points divided by number of games a player's team has played. This keeps the comparison level even because not all teams have played same number of games. Our simple formula awards a half-point for every passing yard and one point for every rushing or receiving yard, with six points for every TD scored or thrown.

SOPY Top 10 entering Week 7:

RK  LW  Player, School-Pos.                      Average        Total/Games

1    1    McKenzie Milton-UCF qb               213.13          852.5 / 4

2    2    Quinton Flowers-SoFla qb             190.40         952 / 5

3    3    Malik Rosier-Miami qb                  185.25          741 / 4

4    6    Devin Singletary-FAU rb               134.33          806 / 6

5    4    Mark Walton-Miami rb                  134.25          537 / 4

6    5    Alex McGough-FIU qb                   129.80          649 / 5

7    7    D'Ernest Johnson-SoFla rb            106.00          530 / 5

8    --    Thomas Owens-FIU rec                100.70          503.5 / 5

9    --    Tre'Quan Smith-UCF rec                 98.25          393 / 4

10   8    Darius Tice-SoFla rb                       97.00         485 / 5

Bubble: Cam Akers-FSU rb, 93.75. Other team leader: Malik Davis-Florida rb, 90.20. Week 6 best: Milton-UCF qb, 223 points. Season best: Flowers-SoFla qb, 276 points (Week 3).

Cote's State of the State rankings: 1. Miami (4-0); 2. South Florida (5-0); 3. UCF (4-0); 4. Florida (3-2); 5. Florida State (1-3); 6. FIU (3-2); 7. FAU (3-3).

Select other recent columns: 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 09, 2017

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 97.6%. Season-high CSM rating after hex-ending 24-20 win over FSU in Tally; also, other state Collball, Panthers win home opener, Cam Newton's problem, your World Series verdict & more

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

1) It is SATURDAY, OCTOBER 7. 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): Panthers open NHL season, NFL Week 5 picks, baseball postseason with World Series poll, Cam Newton, Derek Jeter & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

On Panthers as they open NHL home schedule: Florida beat Tampa Bay 5-4 in its home opener last night to begin the Cats' 24th NHL home opener after a 5-3 loss to the Lightning on the road the night before. Click on Back On Track & Ready To Roar for my optimistic season-preview column on a team that emerged stronger from last year's nightmare season.

On Cam Newton and women sports writers: Cam found it "funny" to hear a "female" asking a question about pass routes. Here's a few words about women sports writers from someone who actually respects them and what they put up with. Click on Here's What I Find Funny, Cam.

Alternate postgame-poll voting booth: Our latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll also appears online outside our blog. Click on CSM.  

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G4: 97.6%: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show a season-high 97.6 percent overall approval rating -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of CsmSaturday’s 24-20 victory at Florida State ending a seven-game series losing streak and putting No. 13 UM’s season record at 4-0 overall and 2-0 in the ACC. The CSM polls are your invitation after every Canes game to share your overall degree of satisfaction with the team. Criteria for voting is your own, but we suggest you consider the latest performance and caliber of opponent, the season as a whole, the direction of the program and your overall sense of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Poll results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 8:45 a.m. today/Monday.

2017 CSM results
G1: 69.5% following 41-13 victory vs. Bethune-Cookman
G2: 83.9% following 52-30 victory vs. Toledo
G3: 96.5% following 31-6 victory at Duke
G4: 97.6% following game 24-20 victory at Florida State
G5: Next poll Oct. 14 following game vs. Georgia Tech 
 
G4: NO. 24 HURRICANES 24, FLORIDA STATE 20: MIAMI A RARE ROAD FAVORITE. CAN CANES LIVE UP? YES: Postgame thoughts: The hex: Done. The seven-game series losing streak: Over. The nemesis: Vanquished. The Litmus test: Passed. The sense that this could be the Miami Hurricanes’ most special football season in a long time: Growing exponentially. No. 13 UM did not quit in a 24-20 victory over Florida State on Saturday in Tallahassee, getting just enough Malik Rosier, Braxton Berrios and defense to stay perfect at 4-0 (2-0 in the ACC). Original post: State FBS teams went 7-0 last week for only second time ever, but it won't happen again as Miami and Florida State renew a great rivalry in the schools' 62nd meeting Saturday at 3:30 in Tallahassee. This was the game originally scheduled Sept. 16 but postponed Umfsu1by Hurricane Irma. FSU was a preseason No. 3-ranked team but has Umfsu2struggled at 1-2 since the injury loss of quarterback Deondre Francois and is unranked. UM is sailing at 3-0 and 13th-ranked. That's why the Canes are 2 1/2-point road favorites (down from 3) despite FSU having won seven in a row in the series. Jimbo Fisher has never lost to Miami since taking over for Bobby Bowden in 2010 but that run could finally end here. All recall last year's heartbreak, when Miami appeared to score the tying TD with 1:38 left but had the extra point blocked in a 20-19 Noles win. It just seems Miami is due in this series, right? FSU will rely on its very good defense, but I think Malik Rosier, Mark Walton and Ahmmon Richards will be up to the challenge -- Walton's tender ankle the concern and a key. Miami's offense has only two turnovers in three games and continuing that trend will be important. But I think it will be the Canes' defense that will turn this game. I have a feeling two or three Canes defenders will be wearing that Turnover Chain in disrupting FSU's true freshman QB James Blackman. By the way, in the fans photo at left, is it me, or does the guy putting up the 'U' look a little like Dwyane Wade? My pick: Hurricanes, 27-21.
 
Other state FBS Week 6 games (all Saturday, chronologically):

Middle Tennessee 37, FIU 17: Humbling road loss for Butch Davis' Panthers, now 3-2.

LSU 17, No. 21 Florida 16: Tough Swamp loss for Gators, now 3-2, the difference a missed extra point, and on a day they honored Gainesville boy Tom Petty with an emotional singalong of "Won't Back Down."

FAU 58, Old Dominion 28: Dominant road win for Lane Kiffin's Owls, now 3-3. "Old Dominion" sounds like a whiskey, and plays like Old Granddad.

No. 25 UCF 51, Cincinnati 23: No-doubt road triumph for the now 4-0 Knights, who got 374 yards passing and ifve TDs from Mckenzie Milton.

Off this week: No. 18 South Florida (5-0), next vs. Cincinnati.

National Collball Week 6 overview: Only two national Top 25 matchups this week and neither a huge one: No. 24 North Carolina State surprised No. 17 Louisville, 39-25, Thursday night; and 8-Texas Christian edged visiting 23-West Virginia, 31-24.

POLL RESULT: SUPPORT SPREAD, BUT INDIANS HAVE MOST FOR WORLD SERIES TITLE: We asked, "Who are you most rooting for to win the World Series?" and among the eight finalists the Indians led with 23.6 percent. After that it was bunched among the Yankees (16.4%), Astros (14.3%), Cubs (13.6%) and Dodgers (11.4%). Then it was a dropoff to the Red Sox (8.6%), Nationals (7.1%) and Diamondbacks (5.0%).

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

Twitter @gregcote

October 06, 2017

On Cam Newton and women sports writers; plus Panthers launch 24th NHL season looking for reboot; also, NFL Week 5 predix for Dolphins-Titans and the rest, World Series poll (vote now) & more

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

1) It is FRIDAY, OCTOBER 6. 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): Dolphins pegged for 3-13, Derek Jeter takes over, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy results, Herald's NFL QB rankings, SOPY Week 5 standings, top SoFla baseball draft prospects & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat.

On Cam Newton and women sports writers: Cam found it "funny" to hear a "female" asking a question about pass routes. Here's a few words about women sports writers from someone who actually respects them and what they put up with. Click on Here's What I Find Funny, Cam.

On Derek Jeter taking over as Marlins frontman: The new boss makes no promises on payroll or Giancarlo Stanton's future or anything else, but believes he has the reputation and cache' to convince Marlins fans whatever he does will be right. Read Jeter Betting On Jeter for this week's column.

HOCKEY, EH! PANTHERS OPEN 24TH NHL SEASON TONIGHT LOOKING FOR REBOOT: Strange franchise, this one. Panthers have not won a playoff series since 1996, by far the longest drought in the NHL. They are coming off a disappointing season that got two coaches (head and interim) fired. They are judged Boughnerthe only 25th best of 31 teams in ESPN's current hockey Power Rankings. And yet! There is a great feel of optimism around Nhlthe Panthers. Much enthusiasm that GM Dale Tallon is back in charge, that Bob Boughner (pronounced boog-ner) seems a great coaching hire, and that the young core of rising stars led by Sasha Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Vincent Trocheck and Aaron Ekblad -- the Kiddie Cats -- is ready for a breakout season. Tallon (pictured with his new coach) thinks this team is faster, more skilled and grittier than last year's. They lost a 30-goal scorer (Jonathan Marchessault) in the expansion draft and parted ways with popular legend Jaromir Jagr, but the dressing room brims with confidence as the team opens the season tonight in Tampa, and then at home Saturday also vs. the Lightning. Just two years ago the Panthers won the division and set a club record with 103 standings points, before last year's tumultuous nightmare. Can Boughner help them recapture that? Click on Back On Track & Ready To Roar for my Panthers season preview column.

FripixUPSET BIRD DAY IN AMERICA! NFL WEEK 5 PICKS: DOLPHINS (HOME AT LAST) HANDLE TITANS: Miami plays its second-latest-ever home opener Sunday vs.  Tennessee as a three-point home underdog but should pull off the needed win, even if questionable Marcus Mariota ends up playing. Click on Week 5 Gems for our predix-capsules on Dolphins-Titans, our Game of the Week (Packers-Cowboys), Upset of the Week (Vikings-Bears: "Aaawwwk!") and every other game. Our week got off to a mixed start last night. Had Patriots winning in Tampa; they did. But had them covering 5 1/2 points; they narrowly did not in a 19-14 game, that late Bucs TD a killer for me.

Mlb17BASEBALL POSTSEASON: AND YOU HOPE [FILL IN BLANK] WINS THE WORLD SERIES?: While Derek Jeter sets out to fix the Marlins and fans of the wild-card losing Twins and Rockies wonder if they actually were in the playoffs at all, the surviving eight teams begin their October hunt for World Series rings. The two AL division series start today, with the NL launching Friday. Even if your favorite team didn't make it this far, chances are you have a rooting interest. Maybe a rooting against interest? Or perhaps your wishes are steered by a wager? If you're neutral, here's our Misery Index to help steer you, with the teams ranked based on how long each fandom has waited since last cheering a World Series championship. I'm a Red Sox fan (dating to Yaz and Impossible Dream '67), but if I had no dog in the hunt, how could I not root for Cleveland to end its drought?

MISERY INDEX: Team, years waiting since most recent World Series championship: Indians 69 years (1948); Astros 55 years (none since 1962); Dodgers 29 years (1988); Diamondbacks 16 years (2001); Nationals 12 years (none since 2005 as Washington Nats); Yankees 8 years (2009); Red Sox 4 years (2013); and Cubs 1 year (2016).

Betting odds before the start of play showed the Indians (9-4) and Dodgers (5-2) as virtual co-favorites. Then it's Astros 6-1, Red Sox 9-1, Cubs and Nationals both 10-1, and Diamondbacks and Yankees the longshots at 14-1 each. Back to our Misery Index, the serious droughts are by the Indians (four times in the World Series since last winning, including 2016); the Astros (in the WS only once, losing in 2005); and the Dodgers (not back in it since last winning). Who would you most like to see win the World Series? Our poll is alphabetical based on city name. Vote now:

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

Twitter @gregcote