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G14: Dolphins 24, New England 12: Big defense (again), and the king is dead. My column off game; plus jam-packed new Hot Button Top10 (updated), Greg Cote Show podcast news & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, DECEMBER 21. Note to readers: Not been writing as much lately because I'm burning a bunch of unused vacation time before end of year. But the blog still chugs on! 2) The Greg Cote Show podcast is now separately on Twitter and Instagram. Join us on both! 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): College football's Championship Weekend and Canes/OB outlooks, NFL Week 15 picks, Greg Cote Show podcast Episode 41 & more. 4) Join me on Twitter and Instagram.

G14: DOLPHINS 22, NEW ENGLAND 12: MORE BIG DEFENSE, AND THE KING IS DEAD: For my column off Sunday's Dolphins win: The King Is Dead. Dolphins' Win Sunday Ends Dynasty For Belichick, Patriots. ..... Original post: This is disrespect, folks. If "bulletin board material" is still a thing in 2020, the Dolphins have some here. Miami — better record, better offense, better defense, and home — is a negligible 1-point favorite Sunday at 1 p.m. (CBS) vs. New England. The line opened at 2 1/2 but was Nemiabet down as gambled money flowed to the Patriots. Why? Habit, for one. Miami is disrespected because this season hasn’t erased from the public mind all those years when New England reigned over the AFC East and the Fins were also-rans. (Do we trust that all that has now changed?). And there is this: post-Tom Brady, Bill Belichick still famously has his mastery over rookie quarterbacks he faces. He takes raw QBs to the woodshed. His Pats have beaten nine rookie passers in a row since last losing to one in 2013. The latest was Justin Herbert in a 45-0 thrashing just two weeks ago. It is not far-fetched to think the Pats will dial up trouble for Tua Tagovailoa. There is also a revenge factor in play. MIA beat NE in the 2019 season finale to deny the Patrots an all-important first-round playoff bye. Now the Pats, with but a scant hope of making the postseason, can play spoiler and hugely damage Miami’s hopes. Oh and this: New England played last Thursday, so Genius Bill had had added time to outmaneuver one of his disciples, Bran Flores. This is not nothing: Belichick teams have won 21 of past 25 games with added time to rest and prepare. The disrespect in the betting line has tangible roots, too, though. It’s rested Pats vs. banged-up Fins. Tua will likely be without TE Mike Gesicki and WRs DeVante Parker and Jakeem Grant -- all inactive today. With Miami’s big-play defense able to disrupt Cam Newton anything is possible. But Belichick, vs. a rookie QB, with extra time to prepare, remains too good to pass up. Mini-upset! My pick: Patriots (+1), 23-19. For all of our latest picks: NFL Week 15 Gems. Column as rookie QB navigates his most telling month: For Dolphins' Tua, Now Is When We Begin to See If Greatness Is In His Reach.

HOT BUTTON TOP 10 (DECEMBER 20-21): 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:

HButton1. DOLPHINS: Belichick's rookie-killing streak screeches to a halt Sunday vs. Tua: Patriots at Dolphins Sunday distilled perhaps to Bill Belichick's scary-good track record (9-0 run) vs. rookie quarterbacks. Enter Tua Tagovailoa. A home loss by the 8-5 Dolphins would have been a huge hit to playoff hopes. Instead Miami eliminated the Patriots 24-12. And the king is dead.

2. HEAT: It's Opening Week for Miami's 33rd NBA season: After a 1-1 preseason the NBA Finals-runnerup Heat open the new 2020-21 season on Wednesday in Orlando and then  Christmas Day at home vs. New Orleans. Heat will start the season with no fans permitted at home games due to COVID. Miami isn't getting much respect/love from the betting public. Heat is tied for fourth favorite to repeat as East champs, after Brooklyn, Milwaukee and Boston.

3. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Championship Weekend sets predictable CFP: Alabama and Clemson were assured spots in the College Football Playoff final four semifinals after Saturday's results, it would have be shocking if Ohio State wasn't invited, too, and a one-loss Notre Dame seemed likely to be in as well. Sure enough, that was it: Alabama vs. Notre Dame and Clemson vs. Ohio State playing to see who reaches the CFP title game in Miami. The odd-man-out left to complain about everything and call for an expanded playoff: Texas A&M.

4. RECRUITING: Canes ranked 10th in early signing day bounty: Softening the blow of the UNC loss and bowl fallout (see below), the Hurricanes bounced with with an early National Signing Day class ranked 10th by ESPN. The bounty included nine ESPN 300 athletes led by quarterback Jake Garcia, heir to D'Eriq King, and five-star defensive tackle Leonard Taylor.

5. HURRICANES: Cheez-It!? UM feels devastation of late loss: The result of Miami's season-ending 62-26 loss to UNC went far beyond UM plummeting 10 spots to 18th in the polls. The loss meant Canes blew a ticket to the hometown Orange Bowl and instead will settle for the Cheez-it Bowl in Orlando vs. Oklahoma State. Orange to Cheez-It. Same color, different stratosphere as Canes fail to finish a promising season.

6. ORANGE BOWL: OB lands Texas A&M to pair with UNC: The Orange Bowl seems likely to pair either Texas A&M or Florida with North Carolina in its January 2 game at Hard Rock Stadium. Can't-miss choice. No. 5 A&M is the team that most closely missed the College Football Playoff. Gators just gave No. 1 Alabama a 52-46 scare and would be the people's choice in South Florida. Choice: A&M. 

7. PANTHERS: Cats add scoring punch with Duclair: The Florida Panthers agreed on a one-year contract with winger Anthony Duclair, 25, a first-time all-star who scored a career-best 23 goals for Ottawa last season. The NHL will play a truncated 56-game 2020-21 season beginning January 13. The league has not said whether teams will play in hub cities or their own arenas.

8. UM BASKETBALL: Canes fall hard in biggest early-season test: The unranked 4-1 Miami Hurricanes women's team visited No. 4 North Carolina State on Sunday in its biggest test of the young season and got spanked 78-47. The UM men also are now 4-2 after Saturday's home win over Jacksonville.

9. SOCCER: Updated Champions League odds after round-of-16 draw: Germany's Bayern Munich and England's Manchester City and Liverpool emerge as top three betting favorites to win the UEFA Champions League after the recent round-of-16 draw at the conclusion of group-stage play. The first leg of the round-of-16 is February 16-24 and the second March 9-17. 

10. GOLF: Tiger, Charlie don't win, but win, father/son event: The PNC Championship, an annual father/son golf event, was won by Justin Thomas and his father Mike in Orlando. But all eyes were on Tiger Woods and 11-year-old son Charlie, the youngest to ever compete in the event. They finished seventh, but won hearts.

Missing the HB10 cut: Started your Christmas shopping yet? That's why God invented the gift card ..... Inter Miami coach Diego Alonso’s remains on the job (for now) after mistakenly believing he had been let-go in a year-end meeting. Now come reports is a subject of interest from his former Uruguayan club Penarol to return as manager ..... Stanford's Tara VanDerveer won her 1,099th game to pass Pat Summitt for most career wins in women's college basketball. UConn's Geno Auriemma is right behind them ..... Drew Brees returns from injury for Saints today to enhance their Game of the Week matchup with Chiefs ..... Canelo Alvarez, maybe boxing's biggest star, dominated previously unbeaten Callum Smith in a unanimous decision Saturday in San Antonio to consolidate the WBA and WBC super-middleweight titles ..... The Greg Cote Show podcast is off this week with no new episode Monday. Perfect chance to check our our 41-pod back catalog! ..... Update: Countdown now 2,017 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in soccer's 2026 World Cup.

CoteshowGREG COTE SHOW PODCAST: WHAT'S AHEAD AFTER HOLIDAY WEEK OFF: Our Miami Herald podcast debuted in March and our latest Episode 41 is out now! A new pod drops every Monday morning on Apple, Spotify, Google, Stitcher, Megaphone -- wherever you pod, and of course at MiamiHerald.com. We're taking this holiday week off but you can find all 41 we've done so far RIGHT HERE for free. It's a great week to catch on up on what you've missed so please listen, subscribe, rate and review. In the latest Ep41 we welcome in a renowned animal psychologist who talks about how to raise happy dogs and cats in an informative, fun conversation. Also, Greg and Chris discuss the Dolphins, Canes and Heat. And the Mount Gregmore Name Game reaches its end with the X's, Y's and Z's. (But will it be the end of Mount Gregmore? Listen to find out!) Hear all of that and more in the new podcast -- and stay tuned for a special new year-end episode dropping December 28! Appreciate you all listening each and every week and check out our latest Ep41 now.

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THE ARCHIVES:

Select other recent columns: For Dolphins' Tua, Now Is When We Begin to See If Greatness Is In His Reach / Le Batard Leaving ESPN, But Assures Fans They'll Hear From Him Again Soon / Marlins Hit History-Making Home Run With Kim NG Hire As GM / In a Pandemic-Battered Season For FIU, Butch Davis' Love Of Coaching Survives / Stop the Silly Noise And Speculation. Give Dolphins' Tua Time And a Fair Chance / Fans of ESPN's Dan Le Batard Show With Stugotz Should Prepare For Another Change / Turner, With COVID, Joining Dodgers Celebration A Sadly Fitting End to Season  / and Heat, Marlins, Canes -- now Tua. Miserable 2020 Suddenly Great Time To Be Miami Fan.

Heat NBA Finals last column: Game 6--LeBron Reigns, But Credit Heat For Unexpected Run to Finals.

Marlins postseason run last column: NLDS Game 3--Marlins Season Was A Miracle But Way It Ended Is Lesson On Work Still Ahead.

Select other 2020 columns: Boycott Of NBA Playoffs Shows Nation That Injustice Is Bigger Than Sports Right Now / Having Fans at Dolphins, Canes Games A Bad Idea And Big Risk / As Panthers Move on From Tallon, Who's Next Miami Team Executive on Hot Seat? / 'Perfect Storm For Virus Transmission': Why Football Is Struggling to Lift Off / Marlins Delaying Home Opener For COVID Outbreak a Scary Lesson For All Sports / Don Shula, 1930-2020, R.I.P. / What Shula Meant to a Father & Son. They Boy Was Me / It Took George Floyd To Finally Wake Up White America / Goodell's NFL Response to Floyd Killing Is Hypocrisy At Its Most Ironic / and George Floyd Is Why Kaepernick & Sports Must Continue Fight For Social Justice

Revisit this blog often because it updates regularly. The Associated Press Sports Editors writing awards ranked the blog's author a Top 10 national sports columnist in the major-outlet category. Greg is also a regular on the Dan Le Batard Show With Stugotz on ESPN Radio. Finding Greg: TwitterInstagramFacebookColumnsPodcastPodcast on TwitterPodcast on InstagramLeBatard Show. Book: Fins At 50. Songs: Letting Go (audio) and The Ballad Of 1440 (video).

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