December 13, 2014

Will Johnny Manziel's career fly or fail? New poll. Vote now!; plus Dolphins/NFL Week 15 predix, Marlins' big week, 'The U Part 2' & more

1) It is SATURDAY, DECEMBER 13. No choice. Guess I'd better start my Christmas shopping. 2) Watch for return this week (after a two-week hiatus) of the Sunday notes-column package. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): "Back In My Day" -- the complete audio library, Marlins trade, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, Philbin verdict & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

THE MYSTERY OF MANZIEL: WILL HE LIVE UP TO HYPE?: In Cleveland, Johnny Manziel was to Brian Hoyer as Jim Harbaugh is to Joe Philbin in Miami. Possibility is so often so much more tantalizing than 1aa1ajmanzielreality. Change is exciting without ever knowing whether the excitement will be justified. With Manizel the uncertainty is part of the excitement. He isn’t seen as a certain star like Andrew Luck was. To doubters, he’s the next Tim Tebow, the college phenom whose talents don’t translate. To fans, he’s the next great pass/run dual threat, the refreshingly brash personality whose jersey sales will soar to No.1 on the charts. He was a Heisman-winning superstar at Texas A&M. Now, will he justify all the hype, or be crushed by it? The finding out will be fun, and it begins with his first career start on Sunday. But why wait? Take a dip in our poll and say now what you predict for Manziel's NFL career and why.

1aa1afripixDOLPHINS, NFL WEEK 15 PICKS: THE DAGGER: Dolphins will lose Sunday in New England and it will be the dagger to Miami's playoff hopes. Not wishing it, folks, just predicting it. Don't kill the messenger! Click on Week 15 Gems for all our latest NFL prediction capsules. (Mixed start Thursday start. Wrongly had Rams winning, but did have Cards covering). Also, click on Hype, Meet Reality for my weekly Friday Page column. It leads with the formal introduction to the pro version of Johnny Football.

1aa1amatlatosA WINNING OFFSEASON FOR MARLINS: It started with signing Giancarlo Stanton long-term, of course. But it continued this week with deals to acquire leadoff man/base-stealing champ Dee Gordon and then, yesterday, starting pitcher Mat Latos (pictured). Mat With One T, from Coconut Creek High in north Broward, is a big boy with a top-of-the-rotation arm. If pitcher Dan Haren (part of the Gordon deal) opts to not retire, that'll be a bonus. Gordon and Latos alone give Miami needed speed and a bolstered rotation. Good week. Things looking up for the Fish. By the way [Brag Alert], my oldest son Christopher got a hit off Latos in a high-school game. I think it was a soft single to right, although my mind is reconfiguring it as a line drive to the gap.

ON 'THE U PART 2': I am reading "Rickey & Robinson," by Roger Kahn, the story of Branch Rickey integrating baseball by making Jackie Robinson a Dodger. It is holding my interest, and yet the story is so 1aa1atheupart2well-known and oft-told it can't but feel a little like a rehash. I think it's also fair to say Kahn has made a career of plumbing those old Brooklyn Dodgers for books, to the point you want to say, "Enough, already." This brings me to "The U Part 2," the Billy Corben sequel-documentary premiering on ESPN tonight at 9 p.m. The nearly perfect original, in 2009, focused on the mid-'80s to early-'90s football Hurricanes, the teams that invented swagger. They were big and bad and great and controversial and it was fascinating. There was national interest. Now, I wonder. Although the program resurged to win another national title in 2001, The U we see in the new doc simply is not as interesting or nationally relevant. A large chunk of the sequel is devoted to the Nevin Shapiro/NCAA scandal, an era well-known and best moved past, not exhumed and rehashed. Before agreeing, ESPN reportedly twice declined the pitch for this sequel. I get that original hesitation. Corben does good work and Part 2 will be riveting to many younger Canes fans (as the Miami unveiling was to swooning local media). But the sequel simply can't be as compelling as the original beyond South Florida because the subject matter plainly isn't.

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November 28, 2014

Ray Rice available: Should Dolphins sign him? Poll. Vote now!; plus NFL Week 13 picks, Thanksgiving video, Al Golden verdict & more


1) It is FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 28. Hope y'all had a happy Thanksgiving, with special thanks to my longest-time readers and the most loyal of our blog family! 2)
In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Al Golden debate and poll & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

1aa1adolriceRAY RICE REINSTATED. WANT HIM TO BE A DOLPHIN?: Former Ravens running back Ray Rice won an appeal on Friday meaning he is suddenly a reinstated free-agent NFL running back who may sign with any team. Would you like to see the Dolphins sign him? Weigh his talent, Miami's need at the position, and of course the baggage of the domestic abuse issue that got Rice suspended and cut by Baltimore ... and then vote and say why you feel as you do.

DOLPHINS, NFL WEEK 13 PICKS: Miami will win Monday night but we're on high alert for a Jets upset. Click on Week 13 Gems for all of our latest NFL predictions, and on Now, The Real Pressure for my 1aa1afripixweekly Friday Page column. It leads with the playoff chase really starting now, and how the pressure is on the Dolphins even as they face a relatively soft closing schedule. By the way, you know what I'd be extra thankful for today? If the rest of my Week 13 was a lot better than my Thanksgiving Day effort. I went 1-2 overall and 0-3 against the spread. That's the prognosticating equivalent of the turkey being cremated in a flaming oven. At our house the first game started as the turkey was just beginning to brown, the second game was on as we gave thanks and ate, and the third game coincided with our attempts to wake Uncle Buddy, who by then was deep-dozing from a day-long conversation with Jack Daniel chased by an overload of Tryptophan. Click on Bird Day Gems for all three predix capsules, although, given the outcomes, I'd just as soon you didn't.

1aa1athanks14HAPPY THANKSGIVING! HOLIDAY VIDEO FROM ME TO YOU: I'd like to thank Dolphins coach Joe Philbin, enduring Heat star Dwyane Wade and newly enriched Marlin Giancarlo Stanton for joining me on this year's Thanksgiving video. Always heard Philbin resembled a pilgrim. Now we find out. Stanton's picking up the tab on dinner, by the way. Click on Bird Day '14 to watch the video.

Poll result: Support for Al Golden split but shaky: Apparently not all of you are thankful for Al Golden. We asked in previous blogpost, and "weak" or "no" support for the Hurricanes' football coach was 52.4 percent, edging "strong" or "medium" support at 47.6%. However, at the extremes, "no" swamped "strong," 36.9-15.6. I'd note (I pay attention) that support for Golden was running slightly favorable overall in the natural flow of votes until a late swarm of negative votes suggesting an orchestrated effort. Hey, free country. Power to the people!

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November 25, 2014

Ouch. Computers put Dolphins playoff shot at mere 19.7%; plus Canes' Duke nears "state Heisman," NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, (barely) remembering JFK, naughty names & more

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio on South Beach today with the Dan Le Batard Show, 3-7 on The Ticket Miami, 4-7 on ESPN Radio. A new "Back In My Day" is prepped and ready. Ears welcome.

1) It is TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 25. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolfan and Canesfan Satisfaction Meter polls. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

DOLPHINS PICK A BAD YEAR TO BE PRETTY GOOD; PLAYOFF HOPES SLIM: Miami at 6-5 has a slightly less than 1 in 5 chance (19.7 percent) to reach the postseason, according to the computer analytics at a site I 1aa1adol19.7have come to respect: makenflplayoffs.com. Following last night's end of NFL Week 12 the three clear AFC frontrunners, all but in, are the Patriots (94.3%), Colts (92.0%) and Broncos (83.1%). Then it's a mad five-team scrum for the last three spots among the Bengals (61.9%), Chiefs (50.2%), Steelers (47.6%), Chargers (47.4%), Ravens (39.9%) and Browns (38.8%). Then comes Miami, 10th overall in the hunt for six AFC tickets. The Fins' path to the playoffs from here seems pretty clear: Beat the three teams you should (Jets, twice, and Vikings) and find a way to beat either the Ravens or Patriots. Doable. But daunting.

SOPY: UM'S DUKE WITH SAFE BUT NOT INSURMOUNTABLE LEAD ENTERING FINAL GAME: Miami's Duke Johnson leads Florida State's Jameis Winston by 103.5 points entering each player's final game in our 1aa1asopyblog-exclusive State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings -- "the State Heisman." That's a nice but not insurmountable lead. The SOPY rankings end with the 12-game regular season and do not include conference title games or bowls, so every school is on even footing. This is a cumulative weekly list of the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers from Florida's seven FBS college teams: Miami, FSU and Florida, FIU and FAU, and South Florida and UCF. Our past two season SOPY winners have been Winston (in 2013 with 2,107 points) and Canes QB Stephen Morris (in 2012 with 1,900.5 points). 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. The SOPY Top 10 entering Collball Week 14:

SOPY WEEK 13 TOP 10

Rk (LW)   Player, team-pos.                Wk13    Season

1 (1)        Duke Johnson, Miami-rb         132     1,857

2 (2)       Jameis Winston, FSU-qb         142.5   1,753.5

3 (3)        Jacquez Johnson, FAU-qb      223     1,622.5

4 (5)       Justin Holman, UCF-qb           143     1,383.5

5 (4)        Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb           104.5    1,352

6 (8)        Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb           165      1,220

7 (6)        Rashad Greene, FSU-rec       106      1,176

8 (7)       Alex McGough, FIU-qb              8       1,063.5

9 (10)     Lucky Whitehead, FAU-rb       131       911

10 (9)       Matt Jones, Florida-rb            27        895

Bubble: Karlos Williams, FSU-rb, 839. Season's best week: Mack, SoFla-rb, 304 (Wk1). Note: Florida and UCF have played 10 games; Miami, FSU, FAU and USF have played 11; and FIU has played 11.

Cote's State of the State rank entering Collball Week 10: 1. FSU (11-0); 2. UCF (7-3); 3. Miami (6-5); 4. Florida (6-4); 5. SoFla (4-7); 6. FIU (4-8); 7. FAU (3-8).

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: PICKS, LOBOS BOTH SLIP IN WEEK 12: We update you briefly every Tuesday on how we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and our fantasy-league team, 1aa1aarkstate 1aa1afripixand this week's report ain't pretty. Pix: We went a mediocre 9-6 overall but only 6-9 against the spread -- breaking a season-long string of 11 straight weeks at no worse than .500 ATS. Had four 'dogs-with-points including Dolphins, but misfired badly on our Cards-over-Seahawks upset call, a bad pick. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos' three-game win streak ended with a mighty thud, 144-54. Never a good sign when your high scorer (Philip Rivers) has 13 points. The bigger issue was six guys in single-figures. Oy! The good news? At 5-7 I'm only one game off playoff pace (not counting tiebreakers) with two weeks left, so I'll have a shot if I can win out. Rally, Lobos!

REMEMBERING JFK (IF BARELY): This is what insidious time does. It fades even the most memorable of us. A year ago the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's assassination was big news. The 51st 1aa1ajfkanniversary, this past Saturday, passed quietly. Do any of us even know when Abe Lincoln was assassinated? It was on an April 15, 149 years ago. So we may expect a proper media remembrance on the big-One-Five-Oh next spring, at least. JFK's murder is one of my faintest childhood memories. I vaguely recall us being sent home from school early and finding my mother weeping at the black-and-white TV set. On Saturday I was on a weekend cruise in the Bahamas and didn't give the date a fleeting thought. But I do now.

NAUGHTY 'N NICE NAMES: The Daily Mail of London reports a recent study of 63,000 (presumably British) school 1aa1anameschildren determined which kids tend to be naughty misbehavers and nice angels, based on first names. Ten nicest girls: Amy, Georgia, Emma, Charlotte, Grace, Sophie, Abigail, Hannah, Emily and Alice. Ten naughtiest girls: Ella, Bethany, Eleanor, Olivia, Laura, Holly, Courtney, Amber, Caitline and Jade. Ten nicest boys: Jacob, Daniel, Thomas, James, Adam, Harry, Samuel, Jack, Oliver and Ryan. Ten naughtiest boys: Joseph, Cameron, William, Jake, Joshua, Jamie, Lewis, Benjamin, Ethan and Luke. All I can say is, if Ella and Joe get together, watch out!

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November 21, 2014

NFL Week 12 picks for Dolphins, rest of league; plus Loria takes a public beating & more

1) It is FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 21. I'm holed up at Random Evidence Laboratories begging forth Sunday's notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): How Giancarlo $tanton partied, Jeffrey Loria poll, Larranaga's Angel, SOPY rankings, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, Schitt's Creek & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

NFL WEEK 12 PIX: DOLPHINS-BRONCOS TAKES BRONZE FOR GAME OF THE WEEK: A Dolfan must be conflicted. He or she brims with confidence, coming off a bye week and seeing how the Rams just laid bare 1aa1afripixPeyton Manning as mortal last week. The Rams! But the voice in his or her head is nagging. It is asking, "What are the odds Manning is off again and Denver loses two in a row? Especially returning home after three consecutive roadies?" All true, the good and the bad. Miami has a legit upset shot because it plays Mr. MVP as tough as anyone. Manning in his career is 5-7 vs. MIA with as many interceptions (18) as TDs and a tepid 79.8 passer rating — and this Fins defense is better than most he’s faced. Weather will be a wild card. Ryan Tannehill may be on the attack (Patriots threw 53 passes vs. Broncos), but whether he’ll have time is a question because sackmen Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware will be a lot to handle for Miami’s O-line. Manning also has mucho weapons to push the Dolphins’ very good D, including DeMaryius Thomas seeking a record-tying eighth consecutive 100-yard receiving game. Bottom line, the venue, elements and Manning will be too much to overcome for an outright upset. Click on Week12 Gems for all of our latest predictions. (Broke even last night. Had Raiders with the points but not winning outright). Also click on Mega-Watt for my Friay NFL column, leading with J.J. Watt's realistic MVP chances.

Poll result: Stanton deal has not repaired Loria's image much: It makes you wonder if anything can. Giancarlo Stanton gets a record $325 million, 13-year deal to thrill Marlins fans, in the afterglow we ask your opinion of Loria in the wake of the deal, and here are the results: Very positive--3.8 percent; mildly positive--13.9%; mildly negative--31.9%; very negative--50.4%. On an either/or scale, that's negative beating positive 82.3% to 17.7%. Man.

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November 19, 2014

Is your opinion of Jeffrey Loria changing for better? Poll. Vote!; plus how Giancarlo $tanton celebrated (with pix); also Larranaga's Angel, new SOPY rank, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, Schitt's Creek & more

1AA1ACADC1) It is THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 20. I'm at Friday Page Headquarters today creating my Week 12 NFL predictions. Click on Thursday Gem for tonight's call. 2) AC/DC have a newe song out, "Rock Or Bust," from a forthcoming new album. Listen. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NASCAR dodges bullet at Homestead, Dolphins/NFL playoff picture, Kim Kardashian as a horse, Gary Shelton & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Click on Now, The Pressure for today's latest column, off the Marlins press conference making official Giancarlo Stanton's megadeal.


1aa1amoetgs 1aa1amoet3How $tanton celebrated his new megadeal:
(Yes, we've made the S in $tanton a dollar sign): Giancarlo $tanton's new 13-year, $325 million Marlins contract is being announced officially today, but $tanton celebrated late Monday, at the trendy FDR nightclub at Miami's tragically hip Delano hotel. He has officially entered the orbit of self-celebration that we saw the Heat's Big 3 perfect the past four years. According to TMZ, and seen here, $tanton was partying at 3 a.m. Tuesday with friends "and some very attractive ladies" and a $20,000 bottle of champagne that had been "gifted" him by a Miami party queen named "Julz." Yes, I said a $20,000 bottle of champagne. It was Moet Nectar Imperial Rose' Leopard Luxury Edition Methuselah, one of only 60 made, a 6-liter bottle coated in 22-carat gold leaf. Top that, D-Wade!
 

1aa1ajloria

WILL STANTON DEAL TRANSFORM JEFFREY LORIA'S IMAGE WITH FANS?:
 In my most recent column I write about the impact of the Giancarlo Stanton megadeal on the popularity of owner Jeffrey Loria. Click on Image Makeover to read the column in full. Will locking up Stanton for at least six more seasons (and as many as 13 more) do the trick for Loria? It can't hurt. Loria's unpopularity has run deep, rooted in years of gross underspending on payrolls and product. But now Mr. Cheap has OK'd a contract that would be a record $325 million over the full 13 years. How has that impacted the general opinion of Loria? There's only one way to find out. Ask. So I'm asking. Take a dip in our poll and vote what best reflects your attitude, right now, about Jeffrey Loria.

1aa1aangelrA HEAVEN-SENT ANGEL FOR CANES HOOPS: Miami Hurricanes stunned No. 8 Florida 69-67 in basketball Monday night ending the Gators' 33-game home winning streak, thanks to 24 points including a game-winning prayer 3 from guard Angel Rodriguez, a transfer from Kansas State. Jim Larranaga's guys are now 2-0 and likely to bomb into the Top 25 now.

SOPY: CANE VS. NOLE FOR STATE TITLE DOWN THE STRETCH: Looking like Miami's Duke Johnson vs. Florida State's Jameis Winston, each with two games to play, vying for season honors in our blog-1aa1asopyexclusive State Offensive Player of the Year (SOPY) rankings -- "the State Heisman." This is a cumulative weekly list of the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers from Florida's seven FBS college teams: Miami, FSU and Florida, FIU and FAU, and South Florida and UCF. Our past two season SOPY winners have been Winston (2013; 2,107 points) and Canes QB Stephen Morris (2012; 1,900.5 points). 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. Because our rankings are cumulative, players on a bye take a temporary hit that evens out over course of season. The SOPY Top 10 entering Collball Week 13:

SOPY WEEK 12 TOP 10

Rk (LW)   Player, team-pos.                Wk12    Season

1 (1)        Duke Johnson, Miami-rb         173     1,725

2 (2)       Jameis Winston, FSU-qb         161     1,611

3 (3)        Jacquez Johnson, FAU-qb      BYE    1,399.5 

4 (4)        Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb            175     1,247.5

5 (5)       Justin Holman, UCF-qb          179.5    1,240.5

6 (6)        Rashad Greene, FSU-rec        53       1,070

7 (8)       Alex McGough, FIU-qb           141.5    1,055.5

8 (7)        Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb            98       1,055

9 (9)       Matt Jones, Florida-rb              69        868

10 (10)     Lucky Whitehead, FAU-rb      BYE      780

Bubble: Karlos Williams, FSU-rb, 769. Season's best week: Mack, SoFla-rb, 304 (Wk1). Note: Florida and UCF have played 9 games; Miami, FSU, FAU and USF have played 10; and FIU has played 11.

Cote's State of the State rank entering Collball Week 10: 1. FSU (10-0); 2. Miami (6-4); 3. UCF (6-3); 4. Florida (5-4); 5. SoFla (4-6); 6. FIU (4-7); 7. FAU (3-7).

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: SLUMPING PICKS, SURGING LOBOS IN WEEK 11: We update you briefly every 1aa1aarkstate 1aa1afripixTuesday on how we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and our fantasy-league team. Pix: Still lagging. Having a strong season, but our lull continues. Went 8-6 overall and 7-7 vs. the spread. Did hit our Upset of the Week call with Pats over Colts ("Aawwk!") and also had 'dog Texans, Rams and Raiders with points. Fantasy: Surge continues. Greg's Lobos won a third straight to make it 5-6 and move within one game of playoff pace with three to go. Won ugly, 88-76, my top scorer the 49ers defense with 15 points. But won. Go 'Bos!

1aa1aschittscreekCAN I SAY 'SCHITT'S CREEK' IN A BLOG? YES, I THINK SO: Cable's TV Guide Network, rebranding to the Pop network in January, has signed it's first scripted series: Schitt's Creek, a Canadian comedy starring Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara. (Schitt, of course, is a legitimate if unfortunate German surname). I'll give the show a try. Have liked Levy and O'Hara since their SCTV days; loved them in the movie Best Of Show. Also look forward to hearing a television announcer intone, "Coming up next ... Schitt's Creek!"

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November 15, 2014

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 93.3%; plus NFL Week 11 picks, Tannehill and defense shine for Fins, Mega-Weekend off to roaring start & more

1) It is FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 14. I'm up at Random Evidence Laboratories today coaxing the Sunday notes-column package. 2) The Heat, in Wednesday's dreadful home loss to awful Indiana, were cautioning us, "OK, chill on the early excitement. This is the stink we're capable of." 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes vs. Seminoles poll, why NASCAR finale at Homestead is lacking, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, SOPY rankings & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

MEGA-WEEKEND FOR SPORTS IN MIAMI!: Celebrate, South Florida. Enjoy. If you are a fan of local sports, this is your dream weekend. Check your pulse if you can't find something that excites you. We kicked it off last night with Dolphins hosting (and beating) Bills. Today, UM basketball is home to open its season, and Panthers host New York Islanders. Saturday night, of course, Hurricanes are here vs. Florida State. Then Sunday, Heat hosts Milwaukee and Homestead-Miami Speedway has NASCAR season finale. Scintillating smorgasbord. Let's bleepin' go!

Click on Rescuing Playoff Hope for our column from last night's Dolphins win. Find our gameblog and postgame thoughts directly below the new DSM poll, and our NFL Week 11 picks below that.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G10: Results are certified in the latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 93.3 percent overall satisfaction in the wake of Thursday night's 22-9 victory over visiting Buffalo putting Miami's season record 1aadsmat 6-4. The DSM, in its seventh season, is a continuous weekly gauge of how fans are feeling about the Dolphins and their direction. Right after each game I invite you to share your overall degree of satisfaction. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest fans consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, direction the club is heading and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 8:15 a.m. today/Saturday.

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2014 DSM results

G1: 96.4% (following 33-20 victory vs. New England)

G2: 12.2% (following 29-10 loss at Buffalo)

G3: 2.0% (following 34-15 loss vs. Kansas City)

G4: 62.3% (following 38-14 victory vs. Oakland in London)

G5: 14.2% (following 27-24 loss vs. Green Bay)

G6: 80.7% (following 27-14 victory at Chicago)

G7: 63.2% (following 27-13 victory at Jacksonville)

G8: 97.4% (following 37-0 victory vs. San Diego)

G9: 40.3% (following 20-16 loss at Detroit)

G10: 93.3% (following 22-9 victory vs. Buffalo)

Next poll: Nov. 23 (following game at Denver)

Click on Taking Back Control for yesterday's column previewing Dolphins-Bills, and on Thursday Game for my prediction capsule on the game.

G10: DOLPHINS 22, BUFFALO 9: THIS WAS ABOUT CONTROL: Final: Huge win for Miami in the playoff chase, and another reminder that very good defense and a plenty-good-enough Ryan Tannehill is a combination you can with with. I like that Miami, trailing 9-3 mid-third quarter and doing little offensively, roared to life, seized the game, turned a loss into a win. ..... Fourth quarter: MIA now up 22-9 on another short FG. Game time. ... Miami with its first safe-ish lead, 19-9, on Tannehill 8-yard TD to Landry with 11:35 to play. ... Bills' Carpenter wide-left on 47-yard FG try to tie. Lucky break for Fins. ..... Third quarter: Oy! Landry loses fumble on return of Bills free kick following safety, giving Buffs ball at MIA 39. That's 2-0 on turnovers, Dolphs on the wrong end. ... Fins now up 12-9, adding a safety when Bills QB Orton is called for intentional grounding while in his own end zone. ... MIA up 10-9 late in quarter on Tannehill 7-yard TD strike to a wide-open Brandon Gibson in end zone. ... Buffs up 9-3 on another FG (this from 48 yards) by the ex-Dolph Carpenter. It's a bad sign when your offense is such six points feels like a sizable hole. ... Miami punt begins second half. ..... Halftime: Even, uneventful game at 6-3 Bills. Tannehill playing well (14-18, 136 yards), but the difference thus far has been his costly fumble loss on a run. First touchdown wins? How about it! ..... Second quarter: Tannehill completes a pass to himself on a deflection for a loss of 4 yards. ... Bison 6-3 on a 21-yard FG, getting to a first and goal at the 6 and then settling after an 85-yard drive. These teams cannot close the deal in the red zone. ... A turnover and a red-zone fizzle all in one. Miami has a first on the Bills 14, gives it away on a Tannehill fu,ble loss on a run. A 33-yard Miller run is wasted. ..... First quarter: Buffs knot it 3-3 on 33-yard kick. Each team's long drive ate up entire first Q. ... Miami 3-0 on 38-yard Sturgis FG after another red-zone fizzle. Had a first down at 15; holding penalty hurt. Promising, though: Tannehill 8-for-9 on drive. ..... Original post: Miami must parlay its home-field advantage on a national stage tonight and take back control of this AFC East rivalry ... or see the loss of control in the 1aa1atnf 1aa1atnf2playoff chase. NFL Week 11 unfurls with urgency draping Dolphins’ first prime-time appearance of the season. When you are 5-4 -- presently tied for ninth in the hunt for six AFC playoff spots -- your margin of error has grown very small. When you have just lost a heartbreaker at Detroit and Peyton Manning is on deck awaiting you in Denver, you had damned well better beat the Bills at home. It’s an interesting matchup even beyond the two fandoms -- the first time since 2000 these divisionmates have met this late in a season both with winning records. I am surprised Miami is favored by more than three points, considering Fins are 1-4 vs. Bills including three straight losses in the Joe Philbin/Ryan Tannehill era. I think Miami will win tonight, but that may rely on getting the ground game going to take heat off Tannehill. There is an opportunity there; Buffs have given up 460 run yards the past three games. Miami also must protect its QB -- a load of a task, with LT Branden Albert out injured, and Bison defense leading the NFL with 34 sacks. A running game will deter the blitz and buy Tannehill extra time in the pocket. These are two big-time defenses and two offenses that both tend to struggle in the red zone, so I’d imagine a low-scoring game. That’s one more reason why the 5-point betting line feels a bit plump. My pick: Dolphins, 23-20.

NFL WEEK 11 PIX: KING SPORT STRUTS, PREENS: The Dolphins already have played, and yet the week 1aa1afripixgoes on. And what a week. For the first time in NFL history this late in a season, there are four games between teams with winning percentges of .667 or better, led by my game of the week: Tom Brady at Andrew Luck, also doing business as Patriots at Colts. Click on Week 11 Gems for our latest NFL predictions. (Break-even start to our week last night; correctly had Dolphins winning, but not covering). Also, click on Too Much Division In Playoff Math for our Friday Page NFL column. It leads with a suggestion the NFL start picking the best six teams in each conference, regardless of division.

Poll result: It's Canes over Noles Saturday night: We asked in the previous blogpost who'll win (you may still vote), and 68.2 percent voted Miami over Florida State. Naturally a blog hosted by MiamiHerald.com is predisposed to have more readers/voters who are fans of UM than of FSU. So what. It's just a blog poll!

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November 07, 2014

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross screws his own team, fans on London decision; plus NFL Week 10 picks & more

1) It is FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 7. I'm at Random Evidence Laboratories today creating the Sunday notes-column package. 2) R.I.P. Jack Nelson, 82, Fort Lauderdale Swim Team founder. Jack was a local legend when I began my Herald career in Fort Lauderdale in the '70s. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): College bowl projections for UM and others, A-Rod's latest shame, Dolphins optimism & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

DOLPHINS SCREW THEIR FANS, PANDER TO NFL'S LONDON OBSESSION: You got screwed, Dolfan. Your franchise put its team and its fans second this week in agreeing to be the "home" team in London next 1aa1afinslondonseason against the division-rival New York Jets. Miami gives up a signature game in its home stadium -- one of only eight, and the one against its most hated rival -- and Dolphins coaches and players privately are not happy about it. This will be 1aa1adolrossthe first division game played at Wembley Stadium. Miami owner Stephen Ross (pictured) is currying favor with the NFL with an eye on hosting a future Super Bowl. I get that. But in doing so he is cheating his own fans/customers. That's a bad tradeoff. And the league is wrong to strongarm teams into giving up a home game by making it about hosting a Super Bowl. Miami playing in a Super Bowl interests South Florida a lot more than Miami hosting a Super Bowl. This whole London obesssion of the NFL's is getting tiring. Three regular-season games a year now, not one. This week it's Cowboys-Jaguars at Wembley. (Yawn). Playing in London used to be a novelty. Now it's a nuisance. It felt fresh. It doesn't anymore. For teams it's a good idea gone bad -- like being on HBO's Hard Knocks. Teams are hiding when they're looking for volunteers. Unfortunately Stephen Ross raised his hand, to the detriment of his own team and fans.

NFL WEEK 10 PIX: MIAMI MAKES MUSIC IN MOTOWN: Dolphins at Lions has Game of the Week heft. These 1aa1afripixmight be the two best defenses in the NFL right now. Offensively, Fins have averaged 30.6 points since Week 4 and Lions get Calvin Johnson back. Make it Miami in an upset. Click on Week 10 Gems for our latest NFL predictions. (Break-even start to our week last night; correctly had Browns covering at Bengals, but not winning outright). Also, Click on Reinstate Them for our Friday Page NFL column. I write why Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice both should be reinstated from their suspensions, and also note that Ryan Tannehill is on record pace. (With his legs).

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November 04, 2014

What can hot Dolphins, Canes and Heat accomplish? New poll. Vote!; plus NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, new SOPY rankings, governor election & more

1) It is WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 5. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Fins crush San Diego, DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

On Heat's first loss: Click on Reality Hasn't Changed for my column from the arena off last night's Heat loss. Losing to very good Houston wasn't a reality chcek for Miami because the reality is the same now as it was at 3-0. Heat is competitive, not a contender, and the moving on from LeBron James will be a season-long challenge.

HAPPINESS IS A MIAMI SPORTS FAN (FOR NOW, AT LEAST): My earlier column is unabashedly rah-rah, me as Homer Guy, banging the civic drum in celebration of our local teams' collective Big Weekend. 1aa1abig3Why not? I live here. I wish our teams well. Doesn't mean I can't be objective or won't be critical, but when the Dolphins, Heat, football Hurricanes and hockey Panthers are all winning on the same weekend for only the fourth time ever, well, that's good with me. Click on Happy Days for the column. It's pretty remarkable each team's turnaround the past few weeks. Dolphins, three straight wins for 5-3 at midyear. Heat, last unbeaten team left in Eastern Conference (before Tuesday night''s first loss). Canes, 6-3 after three wins in a row. Our blog's Dolfan and Canesfan Satisfaction Meter polls both set season highs this week, and Heat fans were celebrating the smooth start to Life After LeBron. The hot streaks raise hope that all three possibilities mentioned in this poll could happen, although the argument could also be made that all three remain doubtful. Vote for only as many of the three as you honestly think will happen, and say why.

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY: SO-SO AND GOOD IN WEEK 9: We update you briefly every Tuesday on how we did the previous NFL weekend with our published predictions and our fantasy-league team. Pix: So- 1aa1afripix 1aa1aarkstateso. Having a great season so far, but not helped much by going 8-5 overall and 7-6 against the spread last week. Stayed scorching hot on Upset of the Week calls by bull's-eyeing Patriots over Broncos ("Aawwk!"). But let's not mention that I picked San Diego, OK? Please? Fantasy: Good. Woebegone Greg's Lobos finally won, rising to 3-6 with a 134-107 triumph led by Marshawn Lynch's 30 points. I'm now within two games of playoff pace with five weeks left. Go 'Bos!

SOPY: CANES' DUKE OF GABLES IS RUNNING AWAY WITH IT!: Another big game from Miami's Duke Johnson last week has increased his overall lead in our latest blog-exclusive State Offensive Player of the 1aa1asopyYear (SOPY) rankings -- "the State Heisman." This is a cumulative weekly list of the most productive quarterbacks, running backs and receivers from Florida's seven FBS college teams: Miami, FSU and Florida, FIU and FAU, and South Florida and UCF. Our past two season SOPY winners have been FSU QB Winston (2013; 2,107 points) and Canes QB Stephen Morris (2012; 1,900.5 points). 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. Because our rankings are cumulative, players on a bye take a temporary hit that evens out over course of season. The SOPY Top 10 entering Collball Week 11:

SOPY WEEK 10 TOP 10

Rk (LW)   Player, team-pos.                Wk10    Season

1 (1)        Duke Johnson, Miami-rb         244     1,552

2 (2)        Jacquez Johnson, FAU-qb     150.5   1,336 

3 (3)       Jameis Winston, FSU-qb        215.5    1,291.5

4 (4)        Brad Kaaya, Miami-qb            97.5    1,072.5

5 (5)       Justin Holman, UCF-qb           158      1,061 

6 (6)        Marlon Mack, SoFla-rb            58        957

7 (7)        Rashad Greene, FSU-rec        62        875

8 (8)       Alex McGough, FIU-qb             61       781

9 (10)      Lucky Whitehead, FAU-rb        95       741

10 (--)      Matt Jones, Florida-rb            216      713

Bubble: Jeff Driskel, Florida-qb, 667. Season's best week: Mack, SoFla-rb, 304 (Wk1). Note: Miami, FIU, FAU and USF have played 9 games; FSU and UCF have played 8; and Florida has played 7.

Cote's State of the State rank entering Collball Week 10: 1. FSU (8-0); 2. Miami (5-3); 3. Florida (4-3); 4. UCF (5-3); 5. SoFla (3-6); 6. FIU (3-6); 7. FAU (3-6).

COTE'S TAKE ON FLORIDA GUBERNATORIAL RACE: For what it's worth (not much), but because I love politics and because my blog veers occasionally from sports, I size up the three candidates: Rick Scott 1aa1aflaflag(Rep.)--Incumbent has been the worst Florida governor of my lifetime and also ran a campaign of negative ads, but nevertheless won. That's because... Charlie Crist (Dem.)--That he also was largely unlikeable to voters, with cause, was the sole reason this race was even close. A better candidate would have sailed to victory over the unpopular Scott. Adrian Wyllie (Lib.)--In theory, a vote for Wyllie was a noble statement against the two mainstream contenders. In reality, support for Wyllie may well be to blame for Scott's return to office. Decision '14: I voted Crist as the less-damnable of unsatisfying choices, but respect the verdict. Whomever was your choice, I hope you voted!

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October 31, 2014

NFL Week 9 pix: 2 streaks end in Miami; plus LeBron's delightful homecoming fizzle, Noles demand respect & more

1aa1ahalloween1) It is FRIDAY, OCTOBER 31. Happy Halloween, kids of all ages! 2) I'm on the grounds of Random Evidence Laboratories today creating Sunday's notes-column package. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): FSU and LeBron debut make for big TV night, LeBron cheer-boo result, World Series & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Already? 2015 World Series odds: Bovada has L.A. Dodgers and Washington Nationals co-favorites to win it all next fall at 15-2 odds, followed by Tigers and Angels both 10-1. Marlins are 50-1, tied for 23rd of 30 clubs.

NFL WEEK 9 PIX: SORRY DOLPHINS, BUT STREAK STOPS HERE: Miami has won two games in a row, the 1aa1afripixbaby of streaks but a streak nonetheless. And San Diego has lost seven games in a row in Miami since famously last winning that 41-38 overtime playoff game on Jan. 2, 1982. (I was there at the Orange Bowl, cub reporting). I wish I believed that both streaks would continue here Sunday. I don't. Click on Week 9 Gems for all our latest NFL predictions. (Good start on our week last night; correctly had Saints covering at Panthers). Also, Click on Air Show for our Friday Page NFL column. It leads with Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning and includes our King Sport Halftime Awards.

1aa1ahomecomingMIAMI HOWLS WITH DELIGHT AS LEBRON FIZZLES IN HOMECOMING DEBUT: Evidently God belongs to Heat Nation. South Florida watched (though not admitting it) as estranged hero LeBron James scored only 17 points and was awful doing it, shooting 5-for-15 with eight turnovers, in a Cleveland loss to the Knicks in LBJ's homecoming debut. The way LeBron left Miami rankles many Heat fans. The torrent of these sappy homecoming ads annoys many of the rest of us. I am especially already sick of the one with the heartfelt voiceover by mother of the year Gloria and the churchy "Amen" vocal background. Gawd.

PROPS TO THE NOLES: I'm no Florida State fan but I am a Floridian who tends to wish our state teams 1aa1agraywell, so (sorry, Canes fans) I was watching and rooting a little last night as Jameis Winston and the Seminoles shut up that Louisville crowd little by little. Those people with a 21-0 early lead were acting like they'd never seen Winston before and didn't know who they were playing. (By the way, those gray Louisville uniforms are beyond awful). No, FSU isn't as good as last season's champions, but this unbeaten No. 2-ranked team deserves more respect than it gets. Having said that I am already looking forward to UM hosting FSU on Nov. 15. I think the Canes have a big chance at an upset.

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October 25, 2014

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 80.4% (season high); plus Duke-led UM routs Va-Tech 30-6; also NFL Week 8 pix, Heat & more

1) It is SATURDAY, OCTOBER 25. In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Analyzing Dolphins playoff chances, SOPY rankings, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy, World Series & more. 2) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Find our UM-Virginia Tech gameblog and postgame comments directly below the new CSM poll.

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G8: Results are in on the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show 80.4 percent overall satisfaction -- a season high -- in the wake of Thursday night's 30-6 victory at Virginia Tech putting UM's season record at 1aa1acsm5-3 overall and 2-2 in the ACC. The CSM, in its sixth season, is your invitation after every Hurricanes game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM football fans are feeling. Criteria for voting is your own, but I suggest you consider the most recent game's performance and caliber of opponent, season as a whole, program's direction and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 9 a.m. today/Saturday.

2014 CSM results

G1: 6.7% (following 31-13 loss at Louisville) 

G2: 35.9% (following 41-7 victory vs. Florida A&M)

G3: 71.8% (following 41-20 victory vs. Arkansas State)

G4: 11.6% (following 41-31 loss at Nebraska)

G5: 73.3% (following 22-10 victory vs. Duke)

G6: 3.3% (following 28-17 loss at Georgia Tech)

G7: 29.6% (following 55-34 victory vs. Cincinnati)

G8: 80.4% (following 30-6 victory at Virginia Tech)

Next poll: Nov. 1 (following game vs. North Carolina)

G8: HURRICANES @ VIRGINIA TECH: DUKE-LED UM IMPRESSIVELY WINS FIRST ROAD GAME: Final: Miami's never-in-doubt 30-6 rout at Virginia Tech was all about the double-D: Duke and defense. Duke Johnson had 249 of the Canes' 366 rushing yards, while The U's defense held Va-tech to 242 total yards and pitched a shutout until the Hokies finally scored with less than two minutes left. Miami now 5-3 and still alive for the ACC Coastal title. Big, big road win. ..... Halftime: UM's 24-0 domination in a word? Duke! Duke Johnson has 148 yards rushing including a 29-yard scoring run, and 37 more yards receiving including a 22-yard scoring catch. And Miami's oft-criticized defense has held Va-Tech to 36 net yards of offense. A complete a-- whuppin' in Blacksburg thus far.  ..... Original post: Both old rivals are 4-3 overall and 1-2 in ACC play, and only the winner of this 8 p.m. game will stay alive for the conference's Coastal 1aa1acanesvtDivision title. More realistically, both teams should probably be thinking more about getting bowl-eligible than about getting into the ACC championship game. The betting line -- UM favored by 3 points -- seems odd at first, because Miami is 0-3 on the road this year and has lost the past three meetings in Blacksburg. Va-Tech has been a bit of a nemesis for the Canes, so a home-'dog upset would hardly surprise. I get why UM is favored, though. The Hokies are missing their top tackler on defense, and offensively don't have much of a ground game to take advantage of The U's defensive vulnerability. Brad Kaaya, Duke Johnson and Phillip Dorsett bring too much on the attack for the homies to outscore. By the way, remember how embarrassing Miami's home crowd was in the Cincinnati game and all that talk about how those things hurt recruiting? Small home crowds don't hurt recruiting nearly as much as winning on Thursday night on ESPN can help recruiting. This is a big-stage game. That's another reason why tonight is so important for Al Golden and UM. My pick: Hurricanes, 34-23.

Other Collball Week 9 state FBS games:

No. 23 Marshall 35, FAU 16: Uh oh, Owls. At least you kept the margin under 30. Call it a moral victory.

Also: Cincinnati def. South Florida 34-17 on Friday; and UCF def. Temple 34-14. Off this week: FIU, Florida, No. 2 Florida State.

NFL WEEK 8 PICKS: SURVIVING THE JAX "TRAP": Mixed start Thursday night as I had Broncos winning 1aa1afripixbut was wrong thinking Chargers would cover. Click on Week 8 Gems for all the rest of our latest prediction capsules. Dolphins face "trap" game at lowly Jacksonville but I think they'll be alright. Colts lose at Pittsburgh in our Upset of the Week ("Aawwk!"). Click on State of Despair for my Friday Page NFL column. It's on how Miami is closer than Jacksonville or Tampa Bay to trending upward, but how that's faint praise as all three state teams try to end playoff droughts.

1aa1acboshOMINOUS TREND FOR HEAT: Interesting results for Heat in ESPN's annual rank of NBA players. Ominously, only three of Miami's top-10-rated guys show a higher ranking than a year earlier. The top 10: 1. Chris Bosh (20th overall, +4), pictured signaling, "I'm No. 20!"; 2. Dwyane Wade (36th, -18); 3. Luol Deng (58th, -12); 4. Josh McRoberts (117th, +217); 5. Mario Chalmers (153rd, -31); 6. Chris Andersen (166th, -11); 7. Danny Granger (225th, -156); 8. Norris Cole (226th, +9); 9. Udonis Haslem (307th, -92); 10. Shabazz Napier (309th, rookie).

1aa1amarlinsman

MARLINS FAN HAUNTS WORLD SERIES:
 Fun story today by our Clark Spencer on "Marlins Man," the Miami fan in the bright orange Marlins jersey who is front and center and all over TV during this World Series (amid a sea of blue Royals jerseys). Click here to read. 

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