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13 posts from December 2019

December 31, 2019

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 88.9%. Final approval rating is season high after Fins' 27-24 upset win at New England; plus the latest Hot Button Top. A fierce battle for No.1, what else lands where & more

1) It's TUESDAY, DECEMBER 31. Hope y'all enjoyed a wonderful long holiday weekend! Scroll to previous blogpost for season-ending result of Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll. (Warning: It's ugly). 2) Personal note: I'm burning a bunch of leftover vacation time this month, in case you wondered why I haven't been in the Herald much lately. Bonus points if you noticed! 3) Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect holiday gift for all the Dolfans in your life. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes lose bowl game to Louisiana Tech with CSM poll, NFL Week 17 picks, Pix 'n Fantasy Week 16 results, updated Herald NFL QB rankings & more. 5) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

NemiaG16: DOLPHINS 27, AT NEW ENGLAND 24: MIAMI PUTS A BOW ON A LOST SEASON: Original post: It’s all division games, all on Sunday, as NFL’s 2019 regular season crescendos with Week 17 determining the final two of 12 playoff spots. Stakes are minimal in Dolphins’ finale, of course, but there are some, at Tomryanleast. The 12-3 Patriots must win (or hope for an unlikely Chiefs loss) to secure the No. 2 AFC seed and a first-round playoff bye. Can 4-11 Miami and expatriate/ex-Patriot Brian Flores play spoiler vs. nemesis Tom Brady and Bill Belichick at a cold and cloudy Foxborough? Um, well, no. Sorry. Fins haven’t won at New England in 11 years, and Patriots have won 22 of past 23 at home overall. Pats won 43-0 in September -- back when we thought Miami might be historically bad, maybe 0-16 bound. Competitiveness and even credibility ensued, but for Fins today, as 16-point underdogs, the Pats’ end zone will still feel miles away against a majorly great defense. Pictured left: Two really old quarterbacks. Cote’s pick: NE 31-13. Visit NFL Week 17 Gems for all of our latest picks. And watch for the latest and season-finale Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, here and elsewhere online, right after today's game ends.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G16/SEASON FINAL: 88.9%: Results are certified in the latest -- and season-finale -- Miami Herald Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, this in the wake of Sunday's 27-24 upset win Dsmat New England putting Miami's final 2019 season record at 5-11. That's a season high and the second-best final rating in the poll's 12-year history. The DSM is a continuous 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 own overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Because this was the final poll, I suggested added emphasis be given to the season as a whole. Online voting determines the final result, which is final the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 10 a.m. today/Tuesday. Final poll analysis below.

2019 DSM game-by-game results

G1: 18.3% following 59-10 loss vs. Baltimore.

G2: 24.6% following 43-0 loss vs. New England.

G3: 27.5% following 31-6 loss at Dallas.

G4: 35.3% following 30-10 loss vs. L.A. Chargers.

G5: 53.5% following 17-16 loss vs. Washington.

G6: 55.2% following 31-21 loss at Buffalo.

G7: 28.8% following 27-14 loss at Pittsburgh.

G8: 76.4% following 26-18 victory vs. N.Y. Jets.

G9: 70.9% following 16-12 victory at Indianapolis.

G10: 44.5% following 37-20 loss vs. Buffalo.

G11: 44.9% following 41-24 loss at Cleveland.

G12: 80.5% following 37-31 victory vs. Philadelphia.

G13: 77.4% following 22-21 loss at N.Y. Jets.

G14: 53.9% following 36-20 loss at N.Y. Giants.

G15: 54.4% following 38-35 OT victory vs. Cincinnati.

G16/Season final: 88.9%: following 27-24 victory at New England.

Final poll analysis: A nearly 90 percent thumb's-up from Dolfans after a 5-11 season? It doesn't make much sense. But I've called this The Weirdest Season all year, so maybe it does make sense. I think most fans think Miami got the best of both worlds: a high draft pick (fifth overall) and an NFL-leading bevy of 13 picks total, and the optimism borne of a strong second half to the season capped by the stunning upset at nemesis New England. 

Yearly DSM Results: 2019--88.9% (following 5-11 season); 2018--6.9% (7-9); 2017--7.7% (6-10); 2016--76.2% (10-6/playoff loss); 2015--18.1% (6-10); 2014--2.7% (8-8); 2013--4.2% (8-8); 2012--29.8% (7-9); 2011--34.9% (6-10); 2010--3.8% (7-9); 2009--31.2% (7-9); 2008--96.9% (11-5/playoff loss).

Our most recent columns: We Are The Champions: How South Florida Came to Own the State in High School Football / Why Minor Bowl, Small Opponent Should Be Of Major Importance to Miami Hurricanes and Fitzpatrick Gives Dolphins Luxury Of Options In 2020 Draft. Also: Beating Canes Was Huge For FIU, But Even Bigger For Butch Davis / FIU's Historic, Magical Night A New Low For Canes / Le Batard Explains the Papi Mystery / If Jeter Doesn't Get In With Unanimous Vote -- Don't Blame Me!

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (DECEMBER 29-30): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUTOur blog-exclusive Sunday-into-Monday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. HURRICANES: Enos out as embarrassing bowl loss ends miserable year: The Canes limped to the end of a really disappointing 6-7 season with an embarrassing 14-0 loss to Louisiana Tech in the Independence Bowl -- a new low in a year full of those. The good news: Offensive coordinator Dan Enos, maestro of the mess, was immediately fired.

2. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: It's LSU vs. Clemson for championship: No. 1 LSU crushed No. 4 Oklahoma and No. 3 Clemson survived No. 2 Ohio State in Saturdays' College Football Playoff semifinals to set up a Jan. 13 championship game. That means two full weeks to savor Nick Saban not being in it.

3. ORANGE BOWL: Florida, Virginia go at it Monday night: The No. 9 Gators (10-2) are a big two-touchdown favorite over the No. 24 Cavaliers (9-4) at Hard Rock Stadium. The hometown Hurricanes might have been in this OB had they not monumentally choked in the last two games of the season.

4. DOLPHINS: Miami ends sacrificial season with win in New England: Dolphins sacrificed the 2019 season for the future by trading talent for draft picks, with lots of losing part of the exchange. Today, the misery ended happily in Foxborough with a 27-24 upset win. And now the countdown begins: 116 days until the April 23-25 NFL Draft.

5. HEAT: Hot Heat keep sizzling along: Miami is now 24-8, and 15-1 at home, after last night's OT escape vs. Philadelphia and entering a Monday date at Washington. No more scrambling for an eighth seed. Thinking top four. Eastern finals, even?

6. INTER MIAMI: Finally! MLS team to welcome new coach Monday: Uruguayan Diego Alonso, 44, recently coach of Mexico's CF Monterrey until his firing September 30, will be introduced Monday as new coach of MLS expansion team Inter Miami. he new coach of Inter Miami. There had been speculation about bigger-name coaches. Is Alonso up to the task? 

7. NFL: Five teams alive for last two playoffs spots: The Super Bowl tournament leading to Miami has 10 of 12 invites sewn up. Today, the Eagles (likely) or Cowboys will claim the final NFC spot, and the Titans (likely), Steelers or Raiders will by the last AFC team in. (Wonder of the Dolphins will ever be in this conversation again?)

8. PANTHERS: Cats (narrowly) back on playoff pace: Florida is 19-18 after last night's 5-4 home ice win over Detroit. Cats are presently on playoff pace by a one-point margin as they host Montreal today then set out on a four-game roadie.

9. UM HOOPS: Now it gets serious for Canes men, women: No. 24-ranked and 8-3 Canes women open ACC play vs. Wake Forest today and have top-10s Florida State and Louisville upcoming. The Miami men, also 8-3 but unranked, visit Clemson Tuesday and host No. 4 Duke and and travel to No. 3 Louisville in the next week.

10. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Gonzaga sixth men's No. 1 to lose: Michigan State. Kentucky. Duke. Louisville. Kansas. Now Gonzaga. That's six No. 1-ranked teams to lose. The record for most different No 1-ranked schools in a season is seven set in 1982-83. Ohio State could be next in the top spot. Uh oh.

Missing the HB10 cut: An early Happy New Year to all! .....We're miserable! The Florida Panthers are No. 5 and the Miami Dolphins No. 7 in ESPN's latest annual Fan Misery Index. The Marlins are 28th among the 123 Big Four league teams. Only the Heat fare well, at 116th. Sacramento Kings are the dubious No. 1 and of the course the damned Patriots are last, meaning first ..... Dallas and Nashville will meet outdoors on New Year's Day in the NHL Winter Classic in the Cotton Bowl ..... Free agency has hit World Team Tennis, for those of you who had forgotten World team Tennis still existed ..... Update: Countdown now 2,366 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in soccer's 2026 World Cup.

Additional select recent columns: Draft Uncertainty Means Dolphins Need to Hedge Bets. His Name Is Kaepernick / Off Bad End to Down Season, Miami Hurricanes Should Decline Bowl Invite / Busch Stars In Emotional, Memorable End to Homestead's Championship Run / The Best Will Race For Title At Homestead. But Here Is What NASCAR Is Missing And Needs / After Not Winning Enough, Are The Dolphins Now Failing At Failing? / The Player Who Started the Glory Days in  for Canes Football / Canes Lose Hoops Opener, But It's Fans Who Disappoint / Disgraced Ref Donaghy Opens Up About Game-Fix Scandal / Why Is NBA Doing Business With Human Rights-Violating China In First Place? / Riley Introduces Butler -- 'Cause the Heat Don't Tank / Why Dolphins, Even Epic-Bad, May be Closer to Major Turnaround Than Canes / Quit Whining! Yes Dolphins Are Tanking, And Yes They Should / Dolphins' Ross Cannot Be Surprised By Major Fallout Over Trump Fundraiser / Le Batard on Miami Radio Turmoil: 'We Were Evicted' / Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

APSE-HONORED WORK: The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked us a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the five nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing / Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose /NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering / What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 28, 2019

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 5.8%. It's 3rd worst season-ending grade in CSM history after embarrassing 14-0 bowl to Louisiana Tech; plus NFL Week 17 picks (new), Week 16 Pix 'n Fantasy results, latest Herald NFL QB rankings & more

1) It's SATURDAY, DECEMBER 28. Hope y'all had a wonderful and  Merry Christmas and are having a great holiday season! Scroll to previous blogpost for results of latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll. 2) Personal note: I'm burning a bunch of leftover vacation time this month, in case you wondered why I haven't been in the Herald much lately. Bonus points to you if you noticed! 3) Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect holiday gift for all the Dolfans in your life. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins beat Cincinnati with DSM postgame poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 5) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Updated Herald NFL QB rankings: It's a dead-heat at the top and wild finish entering the final week of the Miami Herald's 22nd annual NFL quarterback rankings. Visit Herald Week 16 NFL QB Rankings for details and the Top 20. 

PicksDOLPHINS-PATRIOTS, PLAYOFF-DECIDING TOP GAMES, UPSETS: OUR NFL WEEK 17 PICKS: Off our record-setting 2018 season we've had a mostly solid 29th year of NFL picks thus far in the Miami Herald. We’re running solid at .665 overall and at .521 against the spread after rocking an 11-6 straight-up and 9-6-1 ATS last week. For all of our Week 17 picks to close the regular season, including Dolphins at Patriots, playoff-clinching top games and big upsets, please visit the motherlode of prognostication that I like to call NFL Week 17 Gems.

G13: LOUISIANA TECH 14, HURRICANES 0 IN INDEPENDENCE BOWL: MIAMI FAILS MISERABLY TO END A DOWN SEASON ON UPSWING: Original post: They're playing a Conference USA opponent in a third-tier bowl game. There are UM fans who consider this an indignity -- beneath the program. But this is what you get when you finish 6-6. You get what you are given. You take what you can. But there are stakes Bowlfor the Canes in today's 4 p.m. Independence Bowl vs. Louisiana Tech (on ESPN) from Shreveport, La. It's the difference between finishing with a winning record or a losing record. It's also about Manny Diaz and his team doing what it has repeatedly failed to do this disappointing season: Perform well again an underdog opponent when given extra time to prepare. Think Central Michigan. Think FIU. Miami has underperformed against (supposedly) lesser foes. Will it yet again? UM is not good enough to take anybody lightly, and La-Tech is 9-3 and has won five bowl games in a row. By contrast, UM's bowl record is a sad 1-8 since 2008. Yet Miami is a 6-point favorite despite losing four players who'll skip the game for the NFL Draft, including senior linebacker Michael Pinckney. I expected Jarren Williams and N'Kosi Perry both to see action at QB for Miami. I also expect UM's defense to rise up. But this is a big game for Louisiana Tech. Can Diaz convince his team it is for the Canes, too? We'll see. Cote's pick: Hurricanes. 30-21. Watch for season-finale Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll online and directly below right after today's game ends.

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: 2019 FINAL: 5.8%: Results are certified in the latest -- and season's last -- of the Miami Herald’s Canesfan Satisfaction Meter Csmpostgame polls, and they show 5.8 percent final approval in the wake of Thursday's 14-0 loss to underdog Louisiana Tech in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La., leaving the Hurricanes' final 2019 season record at 6-7. That is the third-lowest total in the 11-year history of the CSM, and the worst since 2014. The CSM 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, the season as a whole, the program’s direction and your overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Because this was the final poll, I suggested added emphasis on the season as a whole. Online voting determines the weekly verdict, which is final the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 10 a.m. today/Saturday.

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter

G1: 64.1% following 24-20 loss vs. Florida in Orlando.

G2: 15.7% following 28-25 loss at North Carolina.

G3: 83.0% following 63-0 victory vs. Bethune-Cookman.

G4: 8.5% following 17-12 victory vs. Central Michigan.

G5: 28.8% following 42-35 loss vs. Virginia Tech.

G6: 82.0% following 17-9 victory vs. Virginia.

G7: 11.3% following 28-21 OT loss vs. Georgia Tech.

G8: 61.0% following 16-12 victory at Pitt.

G9: 91.8% following 27-10 victory at Florida State.

G10: 95.2% following 52-27 victory vs. Louisville.

G11: 9.6% following 30-24 loss to FIU at Marlins Park.

G12: 4.9% following 27-17 loss at Duke.

G13/Bowl/Final: 5.8% following 14-0 loss to Louisiana Tech in Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La.

CSM year-by-year final season results: 2019--5.8% (6-7); 2018--11.2% (7-6); 2017--68.4% (10-3). 2016--97.2% (9-4); 2015--20.1% (8-5); 2014--2.7% (6-7); 2013--16.1% (9-4); 2012--80.9% (7-5); 2011--22.1% (6-6); 2010--4.2% (7-6); 2009--41.7% (9-4).

 

LoboslogoNFL WEEK 16 PIX 'N FANTASY RESULTS: NFL picks -- Yes! Went a nifty 11-5 overall and a solid 9-6-1 against the spread in our Week 16 Herald picks. Houston winning by 3 pushed for the tie. Nailed our Upset of the Week with Packers winning at Vikings ("Aawwk!"), and also called Miami's mini-upset of Cincy and had underdog Rams and Cardinals with points. Strong week! ..... LeBatard Show fantasy (18-team PPR) -- Izzy Gutierrez beat Mike Ryan for the championship. Greg's Lobos after an 8-5 regular season finished 9-7 after qualifying for the championship-round playoffs. ..... Friends n' family fantasy (10-team PPR) -- Greg's Lobos, after a 7-6 season that qualified for the championship-round playoffs, fizzled and finished 7-9. Chris Cote lost to his wife Christie for the league title.

Our most recent other work: We Are The Champions: How South Florida Came to Own the State in High School Football / Why Minor Bowl, Small Opponent Should Be Of Major Importance to Miami Hurricanes and Fitzpatrick Gives Dolphins Luxury Of Options In 2020 DraftAlso: Beating Canes Was Huge For FIU, But Even Bigger For Butch Davis / FIU's Historic, Magical Night A New Low For Canes / Le Batard Explains the Papi Mystery / If Jeter Doesn't Get In With Unanimous Vote -- Don't Blame Me!

Additional select recent columns: Draft Uncertainty Means Dolphins Need to Hedge Bets. His Name Is Kaepernick / Off Bad End to Down Season, Miami Hurricanes Should Decline Bowl Invite / Busch Stars In Emotional, Memorable End to Homestead's Championship Run / The Best Will Race For Title At Homestead. But Here Is What NASCAR Is Missing And Needs / After Not Winning Enough, Are The Dolphins Now Failing At Failing? / The Player Who Started the Glory Days in  for Canes Football / Canes Lose Hoops Opener, But It's Fans Who Disappoint / Disgraced Ref Donaghy Opens Up About Game-Fix Scandal / Why Is NBA Doing Business With Human Rights-Violating China In First Place? / Riley Introduces Butler -- 'Cause the Heat Don't Tank / Why Dolphins, Even Epic-Bad, May be Closer to Major Turnaround Than Canes / Quit Whining! Yes Dolphins Are Tanking, And Yes They Should / Dolphins' Ross Cannot Be Surprised By Major Fallout Over Trump Fundraiser / Le Batard on Miami Radio Turmoil: 'We Were Evicted' / Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

APSE-HONORED WORK: The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked us a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the five nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing / Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose /NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering / What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 24, 2019

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 54.4% following Fins' 38-35 OT win over Cincinnati in home finale; plus latest Hot Button Top 10, Merry Christmas Eve & more

Eve1) It's TUESDAY, DECEMBER 24. Merry Christmas Eve Eve! 2) Personal note: I'm burning a bunch of leftover vacation time this month, in case you wondered why I haven't been in the Herald as much lately. Bonus points to you if you noticed! 3) Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect holiday gift for all the Dolfans in your life. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Week 16 picks, FIU and FAU go bowling & more. 5) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

CinmiaG15: DOLPHINS 38, CINCINNATI 35 (OT): DOMINATION, COLLAPSE, THEN VICTORY: Dolphins blow 23-point fourth quarter lead then survive in overtime. Original post: Miami was favored for the first time all season, albeit by a scant one point ... but only for a minute. Then the betting line swung to even. Then it moved to Bengals favored by 1 (based on Caesars Sportsbook lines). It's the ultimate ignominy, really. A 3-11 Dolphins team that has been relatively competitive lately is playing at home against a 1-13 team -- yet is the underdog! I don’t get it. What an insult. Miami is not only home but also better than Cincy. Granted, that’s like saying Spam is tastier than tripe. Still. One-win Gals have No. 1 draft pick in-pocket at the moment. Why would they want to jeopardize that? While Miami, clearly playing to win under Brian Flores, has the added incentive in this season's home finale of a halftime ceremony honoring the 1972 Perfect Season Dolphins — recently voted best team of all time as part of the NFL’s 100th anniversary rollout. The current Fins should be inspired to not wet the bed as the iconic Perfectos look on. Almost forgot. Did I mention Cincy is 0-7 on the road? Cote’s pick: Upset! (Sort of). MIA 27-20. See Week 16 Gems for all of our latest NFL picks. And watch for the latest  Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, here and elsewhere online, right after today's game ends.

DsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G15: 54.4%: Results are certified in the latest of the Miami Herald's Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 54.4 percent overall approval --the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday afternoon's 38-35 overtime home win over Cincinnati putting Miami's season record at 4-11. In its 12th season, the DSM is a continuous 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 own overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Online voting determines the final result, which is final the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that will be around 9 a.m. Tuesday.

2019 DSM game-by-game results

G1: 18.3% following 59-10 loss vs. Baltimore.

G2: 24.6% following 43-0 loss vs. New England.

G3: 27.5% following 31-6 loss at Dallas.

G4: 35.3% following 30-10 loss vs. L.A. Chargers.

G5: 53.5% following 17-16 loss vs. Washington.

G6: 55.2% following 31-21 loss at Buffalo.

G7: 28.8% following 27-14 loss at Pittsburgh.

G8: 76.4% following 26-18 victory vs. N.Y. Jets.

G9: 70.9% following 16-12 victory at Indianapolis.

G10: 44.5% following 37-20 loss vs. Buffalo.

G11: 44.9% following 41-24 loss at Cleveland.

G12: 80.5% following 37-31 victory vs. Philadelphia.

G13: 77.4% following 22-21 loss at N.Y. Jets.

G14: 53.9% following 36-20 loss at N.Y. Giants.

G15: 54.4% following 38-35 OT victory vs. Cincinnati.

Next Poll: Dec. 29 G16/Final following game at New England. 

Our most recent other work: We Are The Champions: How South Florida Came to Own the State in High School FootballWhy Minor Bowl, Small Opponent Should Be Of Major Importance to Miami Hurricanes and Fitzpatrick Gives Dolphins Luxury Of Options In 2020 DraftAlso: Beating Canes Was Huge For FIU, But Even Bigger For Butch Davis / FIU's Historic, Magical Night A New Low For Canes / Le Batard Explains the Papi Mystery / If Jeter Doesn't Get In With Unanimous Vote -- Don't Blame Me!

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (DECEMBER 22-23): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday-into-Monday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Fins dominate, collapse, survive vs. Bengals in home finale: Miami blew a 23-point fourth quarter leads but hung on for a 38-35 OT win. The 1972 Perfect Season Dolphins were honored at halftime as the 1-13 Bengals played the 3-11 Fins in Miami's home finale. Those vintage Dolphins players are mostly hobbling men in their 70s now ... and they still were the best team on the field Sunday.

2. HURRICANES: Early signing done, UM readies for Independence Bowl: UM's early-signing class was rated No. 19 by ESPN, with the bounty of 19 recruits including 11 four-stars and eight who made the ESPN 300. Not bad off a 6-6 season. Now, the season wraps the day after Christmas vs. Louisiana Tech in the Independence Bowl -- a fitting anticlimax for a down year.

3. HEAT: No fluke! Miami's big season is not letting up: With Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo leading the way the Heat at 21-8 continue to look like not only a playoff team but a top four East seed in the mix for home-court advantage in the first round. More than one-third into this NBA season, Miami has yet to have even a two-game losing streak.

4. NFL: Pro Bowl teams announced as playoffs take shape: Eight of 12 playoff spots had been spoken for entering Week 16. Houston on Saturday became the ninth to clinch, and Dallas and Minnesota both could on Sunday. Meantime Pro Bowl rosters were announced with the Dolphins one of only two teams shut out. But so was Tom Brady -- for the first time since 2008.

5. PANTHERS: Topsy-turvy Cats are hot again: Florida after a nice 4-2 road win at tough Carolina Saturday is 18-17 upon three straight wins -- tied for longest streak of the season. Cats are  back on playoff pace, but narrowly, and need the recent defensive improvement to continue.

6. CHRIS BOSH: Former Heat star among Hall of Fame finalists: Basketball Hall of Fame's eligible list for 2020 induction includes former Heat star Chris Bosh among prominent contenders. Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan top the list as certain inductees, but Bosh (along with Kevin Garnett) should also get the call.

7. MARLINS: One intriguing name among spring non-roster invitees: Matt Kemp, the longtime Dodgers corner outfielder, is 35. He also made the all-star team as recently as 2018 and hit 35 homers as recently as 2016. It's a no-risk gamble whether he has anything left. It's also interesting the Fish think they're close enough to good to make such a veteran, niche signing.   

8. FIU/FAU: Panthers fall, Owls fly in bowl games: FIU closed 6-7 with a 34-26 loss to Arkansas State in the Camellia Bowl on Saturday, after FAU ended 11-3 with a 52-28 pounding of SMU ub the stay-at-home Boca Raton Bowl. Butch Davis figures what went wrong. Lane Kiffin is off to Ole Miss.

9. JIMMY JOHNSON: Ex-Canes, Fins coach gets another shot at Canton: Pro Football Hall of Fame announced 38 finalists for 2020 induction in the categories of senior players (20), contributors (10) and coaches (8) and Jimmy Johnson is one of them. Of more interest to me: Deserving Zach Thomas among the 25 semifinalists for the main vote.

10. THE HOLIDAYS: In case you hadn't heard Christmas and Hanukkah are this week: Wait a second. It's December 23 already? Holy s!@#! I need to start my Christmas shopping!

Missing the HB10 cut: Kansas became fifth No. 1 team to lose in men's basketball. Can't stand the pressure, fellas? ..... An NBA in-season tournament is being proposed. Sounds like the worst idea since New Coke ..... Will Inter Miami have a head coach by its its inaugural MLS season opener? ..... UEFA Champions League down to its round of 16 for matches resuming in February ..... The Miami Heat's arena will no longer be named American Airlines Arena after Jan. 1. Greg Cote Arena, anyone? ..... Barcelona vs. Real Madrid ended in a 0-0 draw for first time in 17 years. This one was not El Clasico ..... Update: Countdown now 2,373 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in soccer's 2026 World Cup.

Additional select recent columns: Draft Uncertainty Means Dolphins Need to Hedge Bets. His Name Is Kaepernick / Off Bad End to Down Season, Miami Hurricanes Should Decline Bowl Invite / Busch Stars In Emotional, Memorable End to Homestead's Championship Run / The Best Will Race For Title At Homestead. But Here Is What NASCAR Is Missing And Needs / After Not Winning Enough, Are The Dolphins Now Failing At Failing? / The Player Who Started the Glory Days in  for Canes Football / Canes Lose Hoops Opener, But It's Fans Who Disappoint / Disgraced Ref Donaghy Opens Up About Game-Fix Scandal / Why Is NBA Doing Business With Human Rights-Violating China In First Place? / Riley Introduces Butler -- 'Cause the Heat Don't Tank / Why Dolphins, Even Epic-Bad, May be Closer to Major Turnaround Than Canes / Quit Whining! Yes Dolphins Are Tanking, And Yes They Should / Dolphins' Ross Cannot Be Surprised By Major Fallout Over Trump Fundraiser / Le Batard on Miami Radio Turmoil: 'We Were Evicted' / Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

APSE-HONORED WORK: The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked us a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the five nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing / Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose /NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering / What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 21, 2019

NFL Week 16 picks: Dolphins-Bengals, top games, big upsets and all the rest!; plus FIU, FAU go bowling today, our most recent columns & more

1) It's SATURDAY, DECEMBER 21. Personal note: I'm burning a bunch of leftover vacation time this month, in case you wondered why I haven't been in the Herald as much lately. Bonus points to you if you noticed. 2) Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect holiday gift for all the Dolfans in your life. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): South Florida sweeps state high-school football titles, NFL Week 15 Pix 'n Fantasy results, Herald  NFL Week 15 QB rankings & more. 4) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

FafiFIU, FAU go bowling today: South Florida is repped in two of today's six bowl games. At 3:30 FAU (10-3) stays home in the Boca Raton Bowl vs. 10-2 SMU, an 8 1/2-point favorite. Owls will be interim-coached, with Lane Kiffin off to Ole Miss. At 5:30, 6-6 FIU faces 7-5 Arkansas State in the Camellia Bowl in a stadium miserably named the Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Ala., a near pick-'em game that finds Butch Davis' Panthers 1-point 'dogs.

PicksDOLPHINS-BENGALS, GAME OF WEEK, BIG UPSETS AND REST OF OUR NFL WEEK 16 PICKS: Off our record-setting 2018 season we've had a mostly solid 29th year of NFL picks thus far in the Miami Herald. Our season has tailed off a bit lately, especially against the spread the past two weeks, but we’re still running solid at .664 overall and comfortably plus-.500 ATS. Last week we were 9-7 straight-up and a wobbly 6-9-1 vs. the line. Called the Cowboys’ mini-upset over Rams and had the Falcons with points at Niners, but that was about it for the highlight reel. (The tie was Seattle’s 6-point push). Santa, all I want for Christmas is 13-3 against the spread this week. Too much to ask? C’mon, I’ve been a good boy! Time to finish strong. Let's go! For all of our Week 16 picks, including Bengals at Dolphins, our Game of the Week, Upset of the Week and all the rest, please visit the motherlode of prognostication that I like to call NFL Week 16 Gems.

Our most recent other work: We Are The Champions: How South Florida Came to Own the State in High School Football, Why Minor Bowl, Small Opponent Should Be Of Major Importance to Miami Hurricanes and Fitzpatrick Gives Dolphins Luxury Of Options In 2020 DraftAlso: Beating Canes Was Huge For FIU, But Even Bigger For Butch Davis / FIU's Historic, Magical Night A New Low For Canes / Le Batard Explains the Papi Mystery / If Jeter Doesn't Get In With Unanimous Vote -- Don't Blame Me! / and Draft Uncertainty Means Dolphins Need to Hedge Bets. His Name Is Kaepernick.

Additional select recent columns: Off Bad End to Down Season, Miami Hurricanes Should Decline Bowl Invite / Busch Stars In Emotional, Memorable End to Homestead's Championship Run / The Best Will Race For Title At Homestead. But Here Is What NASCAR Is Missing And Needs / After Not Winning Enough, Are The Dolphins Now Failing At Failing? / The Player Who Started the Glory Days in  for Canes Football / Canes Lose Hoops Opener, But It's Fans Who Disappoint / Disgraced Ref Donaghy Opens Up About Game-Fix Scandal / Why Is NBA Doing Business With Human Rights-Violating China In First Place? / Riley Introduces Butler -- 'Cause the Heat Don't Tank / Why Dolphins, Even Epic-Bad, May be Closer to Major Turnaround Than Canes / Quit Whining! Yes Dolphins Are Tanking, And Yes They Should / Dolphins' Ross Cannot Be Surprised By Major Fallout Over Trump Fundraiser / Le Batard on Miami Radio Turmoil: 'We Were Evicted' / Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

APSE-HONORED WORK: The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked us a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the five nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing / Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose /NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering / What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 19, 2019

We are the (state) champions! Celebrating the historic sweep of South Florida high school football. Latest column; plus NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 15 results, newest Herald NFL QB rankings, a personal note & more

1) It's THURSDAY, DECEMBER 19. Personal note: I'm burning a bunch of left over vacation time this month, in case you wondered why I haven't been in the Herald as much lately. Bonus points to you if you noticed. 2) Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect holiday gift for all the Dolfans in your life. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins fall at Giants with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Updated Herald NFL QB rankings: There's a new No. 1 atop the season rankings, while Drew Brees' Monday show wins the week. For the full Top 20 and more, visit Herald Week 15 NFL QB Rankings.

AFTER 7-FOR-7 SWEEP OF STATE TITLES, SOUTH FLORIDA IS KING OF HIGH-SCHOOL FOOTBALL: The football teams were at the same hotel in Daytona Beach this past weekend for the state championships when a bunch of parents and fans of Miami Northwestern High mingled in the lobby as the Miami Columbus team returned from seeing a movie. "Better win or you can’t come Centralback to the 3-0-5!" Columbus coach Dave Dunn heard a Northwestern fan call out. The message, though said in jest, was probably only half-kidding. Prep football is a serious proposition held to the highest standard in Miami-Dade. In Broward, too — as the neighboring counties just proved in historic fashion. It was an unprecedented show of force from South Florida. There are eight FHSAA divisions based on school size, and Dade/Broward brought home a record seven state championships. Call it a clean sweep, because South Florida has no football team in the smallest division geared to rural schools. (If only some of our local high school mojo might rub off on the Miami Hurricanes, who at 6-6 are preparing to face Louisiana Tech in the Independence Bowl, or the Dolphins, slogging along at 3-11). Stating South Florida’s case as America’s capital of high school football: Columbus wins Class 8A (the largest division) for the school’s first state title in the sport. Fort Lauderdale’s St. Thomas Aquinas wins Class 7A for the school’s state-record 11th championship, breaking a tie for most with Jacksonville Bolles. Miami Central -- pictured celebrating with coach Roland Smith holding trophy -- wins Class 6A for the school’s sixth state crown. Northwestern wins Class 5A for the school’s third state title in a row and seventh overall, the most by a Miami-Dade team. Miami’s Booker T. Washington wins Class 4A for the school’s sixth crown. Hollywood’s Chaminade-Madonna wins Class 3A for its third title and third in a row. And Hialeah Champagnat wins Class 2A for that school’s third state championship. From the continuation of the Aquinas juggernaut to the maiden title for Columbus, it has been a December like no other for local high school football. I explore why in my newest column, after speaking with four of the championships coaches Monday to get their thoughts on So-Fla prep teams are so damned good. To read the full column, visit We Are The Champions: How South Florida Came to Own the State in High School Football.

Our most recent other columns: Why Minor Bowl, Small Opponent Should Be Of Major Importance to Miami Hurricanes and Fitzpatrick Gives Dolphins Luxury Of Options In 2020 DraftAlso: Beating Canes Was Huge For FIU, But Even Bigger For Butch Davis / FIU's Historic, Magical Night A New Low For Canes / Le Batard Explains the Papi Mystery / If Jeter Doesn't Get In With Unanimous Vote -- Don't Blame Me! / and Draft Uncertainty Means Dolphins Need to Hedge Bets. His Name Is Kaepernick.

PicksLoboslogoNFL PIX 'N FANTASY RESULTS: WEEK 15: ANOTHER TOUGH WEEKNFL picks -- Ouch. Managed 9-7 overall but only 6-9-1 against the spread this past week (with Seattle winning by 6 the push for the tie). Had Atlanta with the points at San Fran but not a lot else went right. Need to rally and finish strong. ..... LeBatard Show fantasy (18-team PPR) -- Bad finish. Greg's Lobos after an 8-5 regular season dropped a second straight in the playoffs, 92.2 to 69.4 to Lorenzo despite 26.7 from Patrick Mahomes. It's Mike vs. Stugotz for the league title. ..... Friends n' family fantasy (10-team PPR) -- Another bad finish. Lobos after a 7-6 season lost a second straight in the playoffs, 185-114 despite 31 from Saquon Barkley. Can't feel too bad losing to a crazy 185. It'll be my son Chris vs. his wife Christie for the league crown.

Additional select recent columns: Off Bad End to Down Season, Miami Hurricanes Should Decline Bowl Invite / Busch Stars In Emotional, Memorable End to Homestead's Championship Run / The Best Will Race For Title At Homestead. But Here Is What NASCAR Is Missing And Needs / After Not Winning Enough, Are The Dolphins Now Failing At Failing? / The Player Who Started the Glory Days in  for Canes Football / Canes Lose Hoops Opener, But It's Fans Who Disappoint / Disgraced Ref Donaghy Opens Up About Game-Fix Scandal / Why Is NBA Doing Business With Human Rights-Violating China In First Place? / Riley Introduces Butler -- 'Cause the Heat Don't Tank / Why Dolphins, Even Epic-Bad, May be Closer to Major Turnaround Than Canes / Quit Whining! Yes Dolphins Are Tanking, And Yes They Should / Dolphins' Ross Cannot Be Surprised By Major Fallout Over Trump Fundraiser / Le Batard on Miami Radio Turmoil: 'We Were Evicted' / Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

APSE-HONORED WORK: The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked us a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the five nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing / Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose /NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering / What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 17, 2019

Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 53.9% following 36-20 loss at Giants; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 and a pitched battle for No. 1; also, NFL Week 15 picks & more

1) It's MONDAY, DECEMBER 16. Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect holiday gift for all the Dolfans in your life. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Week 15 picks, Heat fall to LeBron's Lakers & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Our most recent columns: Why Minor Bowl, Small Opponent Should Be Of Major Importance to Miami Hurricanes and Fitzpatrick Gives Dolphins Luxury Of Options In 2020 DraftAlso: Beating Canes Was Huge For FIU, But Even Bigger For Butch Davis / FIU's Historic, Magical Night A New Low For Canes / Le Batard Explains the Papi Mystery / If Jeter Doesn't Get In With Unanimous Vote -- Don't Blame Me! / and Draft Uncertainty Means Dolphins Need to Hedge Bets. His Name Is Kaepernick.

MianygG14: DOLPHINS AT N.Y. GIANTS: THE STAKES? JOCKEYING WITHIN DRAFT'S TOP 5 PICKSTeams that are a combined 5-21 (Fins' 3-10 to Biggies 2-11) make for a dreadful matchup seeking a spark. Here it is: Eli Manning’s first home start since Week 2, and likely the next to last of his long Giants career. Emotions should be high as NYG fans cheer Eli warmly (until his first interception, when they boo him loudly). He starts again for Daniel Jones, who is nursing an ankle injury. I mentioned dreadful matchup? It’s the only one of Week 15 with both teams mathematically out of playoff contention. Fins are on a 1-12 skid on the road. Biggies have lost an NFL-high nine games in a row. A Miami upset would not surprise, but Ryan Fitzpatrick, already with little run support, will be further depleted if DeVante Parker and Albert Wilson (both questionable with concussions) are out. That, the Eli bump and Miami’s road woes are enough to tilt this pick, although — like a shoplifter hightailing it from a convenience store — I’ll put that dangling half point on the 3 1/2-point bet-line in my pocket and take underdog Fins to cover. Cote’s pick: NYG 27-24. See Week 15 Gems for all of our latest NFL picks. And watch for the latest  Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, here and elsewhere online, right after today's game ends.

DOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G14: 53,9%: Results are certified in the latest of the Miami Herald's Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 53.9 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday afternoon's 36-30 loss  Dsmat the New York Giants putting Miami's season record at 3-11. In its 12th season, the DSM is a continuous 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 own overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Online voting determines the final result, which is final the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:30 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2019 DSM game-by-game results

G1: 18.3% following 59-10 loss vs. Baltimore.

G2: 24.6% following 43-0 loss vs. New England.

G3: 27.5% following 31-6 loss at Dallas.

G4: 35.3% following 30-10 loss vs. L.A. Chargers.

G5: 53.5% following 17-16 loss vs. Washington.

G6: 55.2% following 31-21 loss at Buffalo.

G7: 28.8% following 27-14 loss at Pittsburgh.

G8: 76.4% following 26-18 victory vs. N.Y. Jets.

G9: 70.9% following 16-12 victory at Indianapolis.

G10: 44.5% following 37-20 loss vs. Buffalo.

G11: 44.9% following 41-24 loss at Cleveland.

G12: 80.5% following 37-31 victory vs. Philadelphia.

G13: 77.4% following 22-21 loss at N.Y. Jets.

G14: 53.9% following 36-20 loss at N.Y. Giants.

Next poll: Dec. 22 following game vs. Cincinnati.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (DECEMBER 15-6): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday-into-Monday feature is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

1Hotbutton. HEAT: Visit by LeBron, another Waiters suspension lead drama-filled week: Heat won impressively in Dallas last night 122-118 led by Jimmy Butler's 27 and Bam Adebayo's 18-11-10 triple double -- impressive because it was the tail end of a back-to-back after that emotional 113-110 home loss to LeBron James and the Lakers. Miami sits pretty at 19-7. The ugly part? Dion Waiters suspended for the third time this season for being an idiot.

2. HURRICANES: UM juggles early signing, bowl prep: Miami and coach Manny Diaz prepare to play Louisiana Tech in the Dec. 26 Independence Bowl. But don't kid yourself. The program's priority this week is buttoning down as strong a recruiting class as possible on Wednesday's early signing day. There's still another one in February, but the early date has taken over in importance. Besides that, is anybody actually interested in facing Louisiana Tech in the Independence Bowl? 

3. DOLPHINS: Miami visits Giants with draft position the only stakes: The 3-10 Fins visit the 2-11 Giants Sunday in New Jersey with 2020 draft position the only thing in play. We know that because this is the only Week 15 matchup in which both teams are mathematically, scientifically and theologically eliminated from playoff contention. "But we love them both," said the draft's top five.

4. SOCCER: Miami FC joins USL ahead of Inter Miami startup: This is war! Miami FC has left the minor National Independent Soccer Association to join the bigger United Soccer League and will play matches at FIU Stadium as a direct challenger to Inter Miami, the new Major League Soccer expansion team beginning play in Fort Lauderdale in 2020. Miami FC owner Riccardo Silva is a proponent of an English-style promotion/relegation system that would allow the best USL teams to earn promotion into the top-tier MLS.   

5. MLB: Winter Meetings spawn trio of mega-deals: Ace pitcher Gerrit Cole signed a record $324 million deal to join the Yankees, while infielder Anthony Rendon signed with the Angels and ace Stephen Strasburg stayed with the Nationals, both on $245 million deals. That's three contracts totaling $814 million. Pretty good week, too, for the agent for all three, Scott Boras. 

6. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Heisman announced, bowl season on deck: LSU quarterback Joe Burrow won the 85th Heisman Trophy in the landslide fully expected Saturday night. Up next, there are 41 bowl games culminating with three to settle the College Football Playoff. But that's not for a couple of weeks. First: All the bowls you don't care about! Those start Dec. 20. State schools in action this coming week are FAU vs. SMU in the Boca Raton Bowl and FIU vs. Arkansas State in the Camellia, both next Saturday.

7. PANTHERS: Slumping Cats fall off playoff pace: New coach, new goalie, same disappointment? The Panthers are 15-17 after losing three straight and seven of past 10  as a nine-game homestand continues. The Cats would be outside looking in if the NHL playoffs started now.

8. HIGH SCHOOLS: South Florida football in near clean-sweep of state titles: There are eight divisions of state prep football. South Florida just won seven state championships. Congrats to Miami Columbus (Class 8), Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas (7), Miami Central (6), Miami Northwestern (5), Miami Booker T. Washington (4) Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna (3) and Hialeah Champagnat (2). Wish some of that local winning would trickle up to the Dolphins and UM.   

9. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Nobody on men's side wants to be No. 1: Louisville fell to unranked Texas Tech to become the fourth No. 1 team to fall from the top perch already this season, following Michigan State, Kentucky and Duke. Kansas or Ohio State figure to be the new No. 1. Temporarily, at least.

10. GOLF: U.S. rally wins Presidents Cup in Australia: Played on odd years, the Presidents Cup is a U.S. team vs. an International team (the rest of the world except Europe) in men's golf. It's like the Ryder Cup, except not nearly as historic, famous or interesting. But Tiger Woods is the team captain and he led a rally for a U.S. win, so it sneaks into our HB10.

Missing the HB10 cut: NBA trade season begins today/Sunday and runs through the Feb. 6 deadline. Let's hope it's quiet in Miami with no regurgitated chatter (please) about Chris Paul. The Heat's emphasis needs to be about building cap space for a major whale-hunting excursion in 2021 free agency, not adding an old and costly contract to prevent that ..... There's another Patriots cheating controversy. Or, did that go without saying? ..... Enjoyed Saturday night's Le Batard Show Mas Miami IV in Wynwood. Great to meet so many of the show's fans! ..... NBCSN is hosting a weekend English Premier League fan fest from the Clevelander on South Beach. It is expected drinking may be involved ..... Russia's four-year doping ban from international competition was blamed on politics by Vladimir Putin. I'd probably blame it on cheating ..... Former Cane Clinton Portis is the biggest name among a dozen ex-NFL players implicated in a scheme involving NFL health benefits ..... The Giants waived Janoris Jenkins after he called a fan a "retard" in a tweet and then seemingly did not understand why the word is offensive ..... Hurricanes basketball about to heat up. Men play No. 7 Duke and No. 1 Louisville on January 4 and 7. Women face No. 8 FSU and No. 7 Louisville on January 5 and 9 ..... Here was the problem. The doctor recommended "bed rest" for the Jets' Le'Veon Bell for his flu. But Le'Veon thought he said "bowling" ..... J.J. Culver scored 100 points in Wayland Baptist's 124-60 NAIA win. Ah, sportsmanship! ..... The Scripps National Spelling Bee announced new rules to prevent a repeat of 2019's unwieldy eight-way tie for first place. That's g-o-o-d, good ..... Update: Countdown now 2,380 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in soccer's 2026 World Cup.

Select other recent columns: Off Bad End to Down Season, Miami Hurricanes Should Decline Bowl Invite / Busch Stars In Emotional, Memorable End to Homestead's Championship Run / The Best Will Race For Title At Homestead. But Here Is What NASCAR Is Missing And Needs / After Not Winning Enough, Are The Dolphins Now Failing At Failing? / The Player Who Started the Glory Days in  for Canes Football / Canes Lose Hoops Opener, But It's Fans Who Disappoint / Le Batard On Return To Air, Latest Event / Disgraced Ref Donaghy Opens Up About Game-Fix Scandal / Why Is NBA Doing Business With Human Rights-Violating China In First Place? / Riley Introduces Butler -- 'Cause the Heat Don't Tank / Why Dolphins, Even Epic-Bad, May be Closer to Major Turnaround Than Canes / Quit Whining! Yes Dolphins Are Tanking, And Yes They Should / Dolphins' Ross Cannot Be Surprised By Major Fallout Over Trump Fundraiser / Le Batard on Miami Radio Turmoil: 'We Were Evicted' / Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

APSE-HONORED WORK: The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked us a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the five nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing / Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose /NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering / What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 14, 2019

NFL Week 15 picks for Dolphins-Giants and all the rest; plus Heat fall to LeBron and Lakers but still come up big, most recent columns & more

Fri131) It's SATURDAY, DECEMBER 14. Do you suffer from paraskevidekatriaphobia or friggatriskaidekaphobia -- the fear of Friday the 13th? You are not crazy. Your concerns are real. Hope you stayed inside yesterday. Safer in there. 2) Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect holiday gift for all the Dolfans in your life. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Minor bowl still major test for Canes, NFL Week 14 Pix 'n Fantasy results & more. 4) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Our most recent columns: Why Minor Bowl, Small Opponent Should Be Of Major Importance to Miami Hurricanes and Fitzpatrick Gives Dolphins Luxury Of Options In 2020 Draft. Also: Beating Canes Was Huge For FIU, But Even Bigger For Butch Davis / FIU's Historic, Magical Night A New Low For Canes / Le Batard Explains the Papi Mystery / If Jeter Doesn't Get In With Unanimous Vote -- Don't Blame Me! / and Draft Uncertainty Means Dolphins Need to Hedge Bets. His Name Is Kaepernick.

PicksDOLPHINS-GIANTS, GAME OF WEEK, BIG UPSETS AND ALL OF OUR NFL WEEK 15 PICKS: Off our record-setting 2018 season we've had a solid 29th year of NFL picks thus far in the Miami Herald. Last week we were 10-6 overall but a season-worst 5-9-2 against the spread (with wins by Vikings and Bucs pushing for the ties). Had underdog Dolphins and Giants covering and nice pick with Rams over Seahawks, but not enough else went right. Now we bounce back, and we're off to a good start! Had Ravens covering 15 1/2 over Jets last night -- and they did. For all of our Week 15 picks, including Dolphins at Giants, our Game of the Week, Upset of the Week and all the rest, please visit the motherlode of prognostication that I like to call NFL Week 15 Gems.

LalHEAT LOSE TO LEBRON, LAKERS, BUT STILL COME UP BIG: LeBron and A.D. combined for 61 Friday night as Lakers beat Heat in Miami, 113-110. Original post: You really want respect as an unexpected NBA power, Miami? Go get it tonight. The Los Angeles Lakers are in town. They bring a West-leading 22-3 record. They bring a 12-1 road record. They bring LeBron James and Anthony Davis (pictured). They bring a chance for Miami to measure itself for real. The Heat are good -- second in the East at 18-6 including a perfect 11-0 at home. But here comes the test, with Lakers favored by 5 points. Will Heat demand the league's attention and respect with a huge win? Will they get blown out? Let's find out.

Select other recent columns: Off Bad End to Down Season, Miami Hurricanes Should Decline Bowl Invite / Busch Stars In Emotional, Memorable End to Homestead's Championship Run / The Best Will Race For Title At Homestead. But Here Is What NASCAR Is Missing And Needs / After Not Winning Enough, Are The Dolphins Now Failing At Failing? / The Player Who Started the Glory Days in  for Canes Football / Canes Lose Hoops Opener, But It's Fans Who Disappoint / Le Batard On Return To Air, Latest Event / Disgraced Ref Donaghy Opens Up About Game-Fix Scandal / Why Is NBA Doing Business With Human Rights-Violating China In First Place? / Riley Introduces Butler -- 'Cause the Heat Don't Tank / Why Dolphins, Even Epic-Bad, May be Closer to Major Turnaround Than Canes / Quit Whining! Yes Dolphins Are Tanking, And Yes They Should / Dolphins' Ross Cannot Be Surprised By Major Fallout Over Trump Fundraiser / Le Batard on Miami Radio Turmoil: 'We Were Evicted' / Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

APSE-HONORED WORK: The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked us a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the five nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing / Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose /NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering / What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 12, 2019

Minor bowl, small foe, but here's why Hurricanes need to prove something in a game that should be beneath them -- but isn't. New column; plus tonight's Jets-Ravens pick, NFL Week 14 Pix 'n Fantasy results, updated Herald NFL QB rankings & more

1) It's THURSDAY, DECEMBER 12. Scroll to the previous blogpost for results of latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll. They may surprise you. 2) Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect holiday gift for all the Dolfans in your life. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins fall at Jets with DSM postgame poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Tonight's Jets-Ravens pick: Do you believe in miracles?: It wold be perhaps the upset of the season if the Jets won in Baltimore tonight. See if it'll happen here: NFL Week 15 Thursday Gem.

Updated Herald NFL QB rankings: There's a new No. 1 in the season lead with three weeks left in the Miami Herald NFL quarterback rankings, while a non-contender for the season crowns wins the Week 14 title. Visit Herald Week 14 NFL QB Rankings for details and the Top 20 chart plus Dolphins.

MINOR BOWL GAME. SMALL OPPONENT. BUT HERE'S WHY CANES NEED TO WIN: Manny Diaz has set out on one of the greatest challenges of his college football coaching career: Trying to pretend how happy he is that his Miami Hurricanes are headed to the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana. Excuse me. Make that the Walk-On’s Independence Bowl. The title sponsor is Indbowla badly named southern chain of Cajun-themed bistro/bars. Except they spell bistro “bistreaux.” Of course they do. Previous Independence Bowl name sponsors have included the Poulan Weed-Eater, Rubbermaid and Duck Commander, so consider this an upgrade of sorts. The aspiring-to-second-tier bowl has been around 44 years and last hosted a ranked team in 1997. If you are a five-time national championship program that finds itself playing in the Independence Bowl, you would just as soon it not be televised or publicized in any way. Interesting to note that Diaz has not tweeted a word about how thrilled he is to be bringing his 6-6 team to face smaller-conference Louisiana Tech on Dec. 26. Be honest. As high honors go, the Canes facing the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs in the Independence Bowl is closer to an indignity. I asked Diaz on a Monday teleconference call how he motivates his guys for this game when Miami obviously had much bigger bowls in mind before laying down to end the season with losses to FIU and Duke. Quick aside: FIU beat UM 31-24 (and it wasn’t that close). FIU lost this season to Louisiana Tech 43-31. "It should have to do with our standard," Diaz answered. "Your habits, the way that you work, getting to define what our consistency of performance is — being the same team week in, week out. When we begin to realize the opponent is always ourselves, that’s a big step forward in this program." Diaz and his staff are deep into recruiting these days — clearly and smartly a bigger priority than this bowl game. Early signing day is December 18. UM’s 2020 class, Diaz’s first as head coach, is ranked No. 15 by ESPN as of Monday. But there are reasons why this bowl game is big, too. To read my latest full column, please visit Why Minor Bowl, Small Opponent Should Be Of Major Importance to Miami Hurricanes.

Our other most recent work:Fitzpatrick Gives Dolphins Luxury Of Options In 2020 Draft andOff Bad End to Down Season, Miami Hurricanes Should Decline Bowl Invite. Also: Beating Canes Was Huge For FIU, But Even Bigger For Butch Davis / FIU's Historic, Magical Night A New Low For Canes / Le Batard Explains the Papi Mystery / If Jeter Doesn't Get In With Unanimous Vote -- Don't Blame Me! / and Draft Uncertainty Means Dolphins Need to Hedge Bets. His Name Is Kaepernick.

PicksLoboslogoNFL PIX 'N FANTASY RESULTS: WEEK 14: TOUGH WEEK ALL-AROUND, FOLKS: NFL picks -- Not braggin'. We were an OK 10-6 overall but sputtered home at 5-9-2 against the spread last week, our worst week of the season ATS. Had a pair of 'dogs-with-points in covers by Dolphins and Giants but not a lot else went right. Missed two ATS hits by one points. The two ties were pushes by the Vikings and Bucs. ..... LeBatard Show fantasy (18-team PPR) -- I'm out. Greg's Lobos entered the playoffs 8-5 as the No. 5 seed but lost in the first round to Stugotz by 113.6 to 77.8. I picked a bad week for a bad week as eight of my nine players performed below their projections -- including season MVL Patrick Mahomes. ..... Friends n' family fantasy (10-team PPR) -- I'm out there, too. Lobos made the playoffs at 7-6 as the No. 5 seed but lost in the opening round, 128-100. Got 27 from MVL Deshaun Watson (who edged Dalvin Cook for the honor), but it wasn't enough. Oh well. On to next year. Go 'Bos!

Select other recent columns: FIU's Historic, Magical Night A New Low For Canes / Le Batard Explains the Papi Mystery / If Jeter Doesn't Get In With Unanimous Vote -- Don't Blame Me! / Draft Uncertainty Means Dolphins Need to Hedge Bets. His Name Is Kaepernick / Busch Stars In Emotional, Memorable End to Homestead's Championship Run / The Best Will Race For Title At Homestead. But Here Is What NASCAR Is Missing And Needs / After Not Winning Enough, Are The Dolphins Now Failing At Failing? / The Player Who Started the Glory Days in  for Canes Football / Canes Lose Hoops Opener, But It's Fans Who Disappoint / Le Batard On Return To Air, Latest Event / Disgraced Ref Donaghy Opens Up About Game-Fix Scandal / Why Is NBA Doing Business With Human Rights-Violating China In First Place? / Riley Introduces Butler -- 'Cause the Heat Don't Tank / Why Dolphins, Even Epic-Bad, May be Closer to Major Turnaround Than Canes / Quit Whining! Yes Dolphins Are Tanking, And Yes They Should / Dolphins' Ross Cannot Be Surprised By Major Fallout Over Trump Fundraiser / Le Batard on Miami Radio Turmoil: 'We Were Evicted' / Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

APSE-HONORED WORK: The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked us a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the five nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing / Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose /NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering / What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 10, 2019

G13: Dolfan Satisfaction Meter: 77.4% following 22-21 loss at New York Stinkin' Jets; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated). See who's No.1 and what else ranks where & more

1) It's MONDAY, DECEMBER 9. Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect holiday gift for the Dolfans in your life. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Week 14 picks & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Our most recent columns: Fitzpatrick Gives Dolphins Luxury Of Options In 2020 Draft and Off Bad End to Down Season, Miami Hurricanes Should Decline Bowl Invite.

MianyjG13: N.Y. STINKIN' JETS 22, DOLPHINS 21: MIAMI LIVES, DIES BY FIELD GOAL: Miami settled for a team-record seven field goals and lost when Jets kicked one of their own on final play -- after a controversial reversal on a pass-interference call against the Fins ..... Original post: This is first time this season that Miami has not been a double-digit underdog on the road. (Hey, sometimes progress comes in small packages!) A couple of things make this a very tough pick Oldprogrambetween the 3-9 Fins and 4-8 Jets. First, the Jets are wildly erratic under Adam Gase. They can be credible; they'd won three in a row. Then last week they get blown out by the winless Bengals. Which NYJ will show up? Second, there are sharply conflicting trends here. For example, the Dolphins have won six of the past seven in this rivalry (including 26-18 in Week 9) and eight of the past 11 trips to NYJ. But Miami also has lost 11 of its past 12 road games overall. The Fins catch break by the likely injury absence of top Planes safety Jamal Adams, with RB Le'Veon Bell also iffy to play. But does that mean inconsistent Ryan Fitzpatrick and the inconsistent Fins can produce the same performance on the road as the one that stunned Philly at home last week? The Jets’ superior defense and Miami’s poor offensive line and lack of running game tilt this pick. The point spread (five points) is fat, though. I mean these are the Stinkin’ Jets. Cote’s pick: NYJ 23-20. See Week 14 Gems for all of our latest NFL picks. And watch for the latest  Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, here and elsewhere online, right after today's game ends.

DsmDOLFAN SATISFACTION METER: G13: VOTE NOW!: Results are certified in the latest of the Miami Herald's Dolfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 77.4 percent approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Sunday afternoon's 22-21 loss at the New York Jets putting Miami's season record at 3-10. In its 12th season, the DSM is a continuous 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 own overall degree of optimism -- all in the context of reasonable expectations. Online voting determines the final result, which is final the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 6:30 a.m. today/Tuesday.

2019 DSM game-by-game results

G1: 18.3% following 59-10 loss vs. Baltimore.

G2: 24.6% following 43-0 loss vs. New England.

G3: 27.5% following 31-6 loss at Dallas.

G4: 35.3% following 30-10 loss vs. L.A. Chargers.

G5: 53.5% following 17-16 loss vs. Washington.

G6: 55.2% following 31-21 loss at Buffalo.

G7: 28.8% following 27-14 loss at Pittsburgh.

G8: 76.4% following 26-18 victory vs. N.Y. Jets.

G9: 70.9% following 16-12 victory at Indianapolis.

G10: 44.5% following 37-20 loss vs. Buffalo.

G11: 44.9% following 41-24 loss at Cleveland.

G12: 80.5% following 37-31 victory vs. Philadelphia.

G13: 77.4% following 22-21 loss at N.Y. Jets.

Next poll: Dec. 15 following game at N.Y. Giants.

Most recent other work: Beating Canes Was Huge For FIU, But Even Bigger For Butch Davis / FIU's Historic, Magical Night A New Low For Canes / Le Batard Explains the Papi Mystery / If Jeter Doesn't Get In With Unanimous Vote -- Don't Blame Me! / and Draft Uncertainty Means Dolphins Need to Hedge Bets. His Name Is Kaepernick.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (DECEMBER 8-9): WHAT SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUTOur blog-exclusive Sunday-into-Monday feature -- back after taking last week off -- is part week-in-review, part look-ahead. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, from a Miami perspective, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead. This week's HB10:

Hotbutton1. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Championship Weekend sets playoff's final four: On Saturday No. 1 Ohio State won the Big Ten, No. 2 LSU won the SEC and No. 3 Clemson won the ACC, nailing down three-fourths of the College Football Playoff. Only question was who would be fourth? Answer: Oklahoma. The semifinals: LSU-Oklahoma and Ohio State-Clemson. No Alabama or Nick Saban. Ain't it great!?

2. DOLPHINS: Fins lose heartbreaker at Stinkin' Jets: Miami lost when a controversial pass-interference reversal went against the Fins and gave NYJ an easy winning field goal on the final play. Brian Flores was livid. But when you settle for a team-record seven field goals, should you complain too loudly that you lost?

3. HEAT: Miami stays hot, readies for LeBron visit: The Heat are sailing along at 17-6 -- including a perfect 10-0 at home -- after Sunday's home win over Chicago. Erik Spoelstar would tell you his team mustn't look ahead. But that doesn't mean we can't. Here on Friday night: the NBA-leading Los Angeles Lakers led by Anthony Davis and some guy named LeBron James.

4. HURRICANES: Miami to Independence Bowl, other destinations: Sunday was bowl invitations day nationwide in college football, and the Canes are headed to play Louisiana tech Dec. 26 in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La. Also notable: Florida-Virginia in Orange Bowl Dec. 30; FSU-Arizona State in Sun Bowl Dec. 31; UCF-Marshall in Gasparilla Dec. 23; FIU-Arkansas State in Camellia Dec. 21; and FAU-SMU in Boca Raton Bowl Dec. 21.

5. MARLINS: Fish add offensive pop with two (fairly) big gets: Ahead of the Dec. 8-12 baseball winter meetings the Marlins acquired versatile infielder Jonathan Villar from Baltimore for a minor-league pitcher and signed former Tampa Bay first baseman Jesus Aguilar off waivers. Villar, 28, had a career year in 2019, with 24 homers, 40 stolen bases, a .279 bat and 4.0 WAR. Aguilar fell of last year but was an all-star in '18 with 35 homers and 108 RBIs. Good moves, Fish.

6. INTER MIAMI: Team signs top goalkeeper, close on coach hire: MLS expansion team Inter Miami, its inaugural season just a few months away, signed goalkeeper Luis Robles, who is 35 but coming off a stellar season with 14 shutouts for the league's New York Red Bulls. Next major step: a coach. Finally, please? Patrick Vieira of French cub Nice is the latest big rumor.

7. PANTHERS: OK, are we worried about Bobrovsky yet?: The Panthers are 15-14 after winning two straight and are seventh in the conference -- the far edge of playoff pace. That despite being one of NHL's top-10 scoring teams. So what's the problem? Defense, especially new, high-priced goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, of the career-worst saves percentage and goals-against average. Pick it up, Bob!

8. LANE KIFFIN: FAU coach headed back to SEC with Ole Miss: Three seasons in Boca Raton with the Owls were enough, apparently, to convince a Power 5 conference team to let Lane Kiffin back in. Saturday Kiffin coached FAU to a win in the Conference USA championship game, then changed hats and headed to Ole Miss in a return to the SEC. He's colorful, great on Twitter. Pretty good coach, too.

9. LIONEL MESSI: Barcelona star wins sixth Ballon d'Or: Barca god Lionel Messi won a record sixth Ballon d'Or as international men's futbol player of the year -- and immediately volunteered that he is aware of his age (32) and sees retirement coming. Hopefully by "retirement," he means a few years' swan song in MLS with Inter Miami? 

10. CANES BASKETBALL: UM women face tumble from rankings: Katier Meier's No. 21-ranked squad figures to drop from the Top 25 after falling to 5-3 with a home loss to No. 14 Indiana, making UM 0-3 vs. ranked teams. Canes men also  are 5-3.

Missing the HB10 cut: Former Canes coach Al Golden accuses UM of libel and negligence in a lawsuit against the university set for trial early next year, Palm Beach radio station WMEN reported. Allegations he is owed money from his 2015 buyout is the crux of the matter. Golden hopes his verdict in court exceeds his results on the field while at UM ..... Knicks firing David Fizdale = shameless scapegoating ..... OK, Houston and James Harden got screwed out of a dunk. Get over it, already! ..... Congrats on the second kid, Erik Spoelstra ..... It's 75 days until Homestead hosts another NASCAR race ..... Update: Countdown now 2,387 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in soccer's 2026 World Cup.

Select other recent columns: Busch Stars In Emotional, Memorable End to Homestead's Championship Run / The Best Will Race For Title At Homestead. But Here Is What NASCAR Is Missing And Needs / After Not Winning Enough, Are The Dolphins Now Failing At Failing? / The Player Who Started the Glory Days in  for Canes Football / Canes Lose Hoops Opener, But It's Fans Who Disappoint / Le Batard On Return To Air, Latest Event / Disgraced Ref Donaghy Opens Up About Game-Fix Scandal / Why Is NBA Doing Business With Human Rights-Violating China In First Place? / Riley Introduces Butler -- 'Cause the Heat Don't Tank / Why Dolphins, Even Epic-Bad, May be Closer to Major Turnaround Than Canes / Quit Whining! Yes Dolphins Are Tanking, And Yes They Should / Dolphins' Ross Cannot Be Surprised By Major Fallout Over Trump Fundraiser / Le Batard on Miami Radio Turmoil: 'We Were Evicted' / Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

APSE-HONORED WORK: The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked us a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the five nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing / Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose /NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering / What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 07, 2019

NFL Week 14 picks: Dolphins-Jets, marquee games, big upsets and the rest, all here; plus most recent columns & more

Pearl1) It's SATURDAY, DECEMBER 7. It's Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. It was 78 years ago today. 2) Check out our Miami Dolphins book, 'Fins At 50,' on Amazon. It's the perfect holiday gift for the Dolfans in your life. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Flores/Fitzpatrick Dolphins column, Canes should decline bowl invite, NFL Week 13 Pix 'n Fantasy results, new Back In My Day video & more. 4) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Our most recent columns: Fitzpatrick Gives Dolphins Luxury Of Options In 2020 Draft and Off Bad End to Down Season, Miami Hurricanes Should Decline Bowl Invite.

PicksDOLPHINS-JETS, GAME OF WEEK, BIG UPSETS AND ALL OF OUR NFL WEEK 14 PICKS: Off our record-setting 2018 season we've had a solid 29th year of NFL picks thus far in the Miami Herald. Last week was a tough 9-7 overall and a solid 9-7 against the point spread. We didn’t see the Dolphins’ exhilarating upset of Philly coming, but counter-punched by hitting another Upset of the Week with winless Bengals beating Jets (“Aawwk!”). Also nailed a mini-upset with Steelers over Browns, a dog-with-points on Bills, and a rare Exacto with Packers’ 31-13 win over Giants. Alas our Week 14 got off to a thud of a start last night. I've been slow to quit on the Cowboys --to my detriment. Lesson learned? For all of our Week 14 picks, including Dolphins at Stinkin' Jets, our Game of the Week, our Upset of the Week and all the rest, please visit the motherlode of prognostication that I like to call NFL Week 14 Gems.

Most recent other work: Beating Canes Was Huge For FIU, But Even Bigger For Butch Davis / FIU's Historic, Magical Night A New Low For Canes / Le Batard Explains the Papi Mystery / If Jeter Doesn't Get In With Unanimous Vote -- Don't Blame Me! / and Draft Uncertainty Means Dolphins Need to Hedge Bets. His Name Is Kaepernick.

Select other recent columns: Busch Stars In Emotional, Memorable End to Homestead's Championship Run / The Best Will Race For Title At Homestead. But Here Is What NASCAR Is Missing And Needs / After Not Winning Enough, Are The Dolphins Now Failing At Failing? / The Player Who Started the Glory Days in  for Canes Football / Canes Lose Hoops Opener, But It's Fans Who Disappoint / Le Batard On Return To Air, Latest Event / Disgraced Ref Donaghy Opens Up About Game-Fix Scandal / Why Is NBA Doing Business With Human Rights-Violating China In First Place? / Riley Introduces Butler -- 'Cause the Heat Don't Tank / Why Dolphins, Even Epic-Bad, May be Closer to Major Turnaround Than Canes / Quit Whining! Yes Dolphins Are Tanking, And Yes They Should / Dolphins' Ross Cannot Be Surprised By Major Fallout Over Trump Fundraiser / Le Batard on Miami Radio Turmoil: 'We Were Evicted' / Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Transgender-Athlete Firestorm A Necessary Debate / Across the Rio Grande to the PGA Tour / From Dark and Empty to Top Of the World: Dan Le Batard at 50.

APSE-HONORED WORK: The Associated Press Sports Editors 2018 writing awards ranked us a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Thanks, APSE. Here are the five nominated columns that earned the honor: At Doral, an annual tradition since 1962 is replaced by silence, and by what's missing / Marlins' Jose Fernandez statue is divisive yet has a chance to serve a greater purpose /NFL has moral obligation to help Buonicontis and Kiicks while it limits future suffering / What led to El Clasico Miami began with Joe Robbie's unlikely, accidental love of soccer / With 59 home runs, Stanton still had a magic season. Just hope this wasn't goodbye.

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

Twitter @gregcote