October 10, 2019

NBA should quit doing business with China. Latest column; plus Winless Bowl!: Why Dolphins-Redskins on Sunday is not must-lose for Miami; also, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 5 results, tonight's Giants-Patriots pick, newest Herald NFL QB Rankings & more

1) It's THURSDAY OCTOBER 10. Check out our 'Fins At 50' book at Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes fall to Virginia Tech with CSM poll and column, Gators top Auburn, NFL Week 5 picks, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Our Thursday Giants-Patriots pick: You know who'll win. But will they cover? Answer: NFL Week 6 Thursday Gem.

Updated Miami Herald NFL Week 5 QB Rankings: Houston's Deshaun Watson wins the Week 5 title with an all-time top-10 point total to vault high in this week's Top 20. But does Kansas City's Patrick Mahomes hang onto the overall No. 1 spot? Find it all here: Miami Herald NFL Week 5 QB Rankings.

NbachinaNBA, OTHERS WHO DEAL WITH CHINA MUST FACE THE HUMAN-RIGHTS VIOLATIONS: Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted something the Chinese government didn’t like, and the NBA has spent much of the past week bending over backwards to express profound regret to all of its great friends in China who might have been offended. Why? Simple. NBA China alone is worth more than $4 billion. It is estimated more than 500 million Chinese regularly consume NBA content. This is American basketball’s richest global partnership, one developed over three decades. But it is an uneasy alliance, one with a dark side — one this controversy has laid bare. And that’s good. The NBA would tell you that, beyond being enriched by the business arrangement, its relationship with China helps build global bridges and bring the world closer. But the relationship also is this: It is a major, immensely popular U.S. sport lending credibility to China — to everything China stands for. Think of it this way: You know how the NFL loves playing games in London every year? Would they still be doing that if Great Britain was notoriously known for systemic human rights violations? But it’s OK for the NBA to do that? And then lamely allude to "political differences?" For my latest column, visit Why Is NBA Doing Business With Human Rights-Violating China In First Place? [Image is via usatoday.com]

PicksLoboslogoNFL PIX 'N FANTASY RESULTS: WEEK 5: NFL picks -- Solid. We struggled at 8-7 overall but will happily take the 9-6 against the spread last week. We nailed our Upset of the Week halfway (ATS, not outright) when Pittsburgh covered. Also had underdog Bills and Raiders with the points. We're due a big week straight-up but sailing nicely vs. the Evil Betting Line. LeBatard Show fantasy (16-team PPR) -- Ouch. Greg's Lobos dropped to 2-3, falling to auto-drafting, fantasy-hating Dan LeBatard, 114.9 to 99.6. Oh the indignity! We got a big 28.3 points from Tyler Boyd and 21.3 from Sony Michel, but a subpar 20.5 from Patrick Mahomes, with too many others in single digits. The killer: Zero -- 0 -- from usually reliable Mike Evans. Time to rally, 'Bos! Friends n' family fantasy (10-team PPR) -- A record-setter! Lobos are now 2-3 after a 191-122 win, a season-high point total for the league. We got a huge 43 from Deshaun Watson, 28 from Allen Robinson and 26 from Dalvin Cook. And this: 36 from the Eagles D/ST! Cannot ever remember that from a defense! Tailwind. Plus I get Saquon Barkley back soon. Go 'Bos!

IT'S WINLESS WEEK IN MIAMI! BUT WHY DOLPHINS-REDSKINS ISN'T MUST-LOSE FOR FINS: It is an even 200 days until the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, or, as Miami Dolphins fans call it, "A reason to live." Excitement is building. In South Florida, what we are feeling is akin to playoff fever — except the exact opposite. Losses stack up before us like chips at a poker table. Now the Hunt For DolfanApril ratchets up. It is Winless Week in Miami, the official kickoff of the Tua Tournament. Redskins at Dolphins on Sunday — the Battle of the Beatens — is the first of six direct matchups this season between what are currently the NFL’s four remaining winless teams. Washington just fired coach Jay Gruden, isn’t sure who its quarterback is, and is a fully engulfed dumpster fire at 0-5 — yet is an early 3 1/2-point road favorite over an 0-4 Miami team coming off a bye week. Which speaks not to any glimmer of light in the Skins tunnel, but to the abject black hole that is this Fins season. Picking a team to win a Redskins-Dolphins game is likely choosing whether to wear underwear made of sandpaper or burlap. Dolphins coach Brian Flores, asked on Monday how an opponent’s coaching change affects his preparation, replied: "We’re just going to go about our business as we normally do.." A cheer might have erupted had Dolfans been in the room. "Keep Doing What You’re Doing — Losing!" might as well be the official team slogan moving forward. And, yet, Dolfans may cheer guilt-free for a win Sunday, because the game is not must-lose for Miami. The why is in my recent column. To read it in full please visit Why Woeful Dolphins-Redskins Matchup Is Not Must-Lose For Miami.

Our other most recent stuff: No Quit In Canes, But Still Bad Loss In Down Year (on home loss to Virginia Tech) / Now Or Never For Panthers To Stop Wasting The Barkov Years (as NHL season unfurls) / and 'Culture' Isn't Enough. It'll Take These 5 Factors to Lift Miami Heat (as team nears preseason) / Also: Winless But Progress Is Perfect Combo For Dolphins (off recent loss to Chargers).

Previous select recent columns: Riley Introduces Butler -- 'Cause the Heat Don't Tank / Dolfans, Here Is Your Escape To The Glory Days / Why Dolphins, Even Epic-Bad, May be Closer to Major Turnaround Than Canes / Turning Its Back on Kaepernick Enters Year 3 As NFL's Ongoing Shame / Worst Miami Team Ever? Epic Losing Already Making Dolphins A National Joke / Quit Whining! Yes Dolphins Are Tanking, And Yes They Should / It's Up to Today's Dolphins to Defend Shula's Legacy / Who's Super Bowl-Bound And Where Dolphins Land (preseason NFL Team Rankings) / Luck Deserves Praise For Putting Health, Life Above Football / 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 / Queens of the World. U.S. Soccer Wins Again / New-look Panthers: Lots Of Hope, Zero Excuses Left / 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 / Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / 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

September 27, 2019

New! Our NFL Week 4 picks are in!; plus Dolfans' escape from this season to the glory days, and why epic-bad Fins might still be better-positioned than Canes for major turnaround; also, NFL Week 3 Pix 'n Fantasy results & more

1) It's FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 27. Check out our 'Fins At 50' book at Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins fall in Dallas with DSM poll, Canes eke past Central Michigan with CSM poll, Hot Button Top & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Latest Herald NFL Week 3 QB Rankings: One man is running away with this thing as we enter Week 4. Visit Herald Week 3 NFL QB Rankings to find out who.

PicksNEW! OUR NFL WEEK 4 PICKS ARE IN!: Off our record-setting 2018 season and a hot Week 3 in our 29th year of NFL picks in the Miami Herald, here are our new Week 4 selections. Will the Dolphins finally cover a spread by staying (reasonably) close against the Chargers on Sunday? Find out that, our Game of the Week, our upset picks and all the rest by visiting Week 4 Gems now. Our picks appear online Thursday afternoons every week, and Fridays in print. (Our Thursday Night Football pick appears Wednesdays online and Thursdays in print). Beginning this week subscribers get an early look at our Week 4 picks, ahead of non-subscribers. So sign in or sign up! Our week got off to a rocky start Thursday night with a misfire on Eagles-Packers. The Green Bay defense let us down majorly. It's OK. Sally forth!

CAN HISTORYMIAMI MUSEUM'S FOOTBALL CELEBRATION HELP US FORGET TODAY'S DOLPHINS?: The Miami Dolphins are having a season most fans would rather forget. The rebuilding team has lost its first three games by scores of 59-10, 43-0 and 31-6. It is historic ineptitude. The worst start in the franchise’s 54 seasons. So what better time to escape to Hismiabetter days! To relive old glories. To snuggle into the past, when Don Shula still roamed the sideline, Dan Marino snapped passes and Jason Taylor was sacking the other quarterback. You won’t find any of that at Hard Rock Stadium these days. But you will find it in Miami. HistoryMiami Museum is celebrating 100 years of the NFL, with a big nod to the halcyon days of the hometown Dolphins, in a major new exhibit called "Gridiron Glory: The Best Of the Pro Football Hall Of Fame." It opens this Saturday, Sept. 28 and runs through Feb. 9, closing one week after the Super Bowl that Miami is hosting. Tickets are $8 to $10. To purchase tickets visit the museum at 101 W. Flagler Street in downtown Miami, or online at historymiami.org. For our full story including what you'll see in the 8,000-square-foot exhibit, visit Dolfans, Here Is Your Escape To The Glory Days.

Flores DiazDOLPHINS ARE EPIC-BAD --  BUT STILL MIGHT BE BETTER-POSITIONED THAN CANES. LATEST COLUMN: What we have here with Miami football in 2019 is not unprecedented, but very rare. I wondered when was the last time the Miami Dolphins and Miami Hurricanes had simultaneously stumbled into their seasons like this — the Fins 0-3 and UM 2-2. Turns out this is only the fourth such occurrence in 54 combined years. It happened in 2011, the season that got Tony Sparano fired and welcomed Al Golden to town. Other than that it only happened in 1966 and ‘69, when the pre-Don Shula Dolphins of George Wilson had the excuse of being an expansion team and the Canes were spinning wheels with Charlie Tate. A half century later, welcome to your dream jobs, rookie head coaches Brian Flores and Manny Diaz! No honeymoons for you. Just hard times, fast. That is the intro to my latest column, in which I explore the state of the Fins and Canes and posit why currently woeful Dolphins may be better-positioned than UM over the next few years to be nationally relevant again. [Diaz and Flores are pictured, left to right]. To read the full column kindly visit Why Dolphins, Even Epic-Bad, May be Closer to Major Turnaround Than Canes.

Kaepernick, other most recent columns: Turning Its Back on Kaepernick Enters Year 3 As NFL's Ongoing Shame. Also: Worst Miami Team Ever? Epic Losing Already Making Dolphins A National Joke / Quit Whining! Yes Dolphins Are Tanking, And Yes They Should / and It's Up to Today's Dolphins to Defend Shula's Legacy.

Picks LoboslogoNFL PIX 'N FANTASY RESULTS: WEEK 3: NFL picks--Strong. Went 12-4 overall and 10-5-1 against the spread -- numbers I'll take any week, thank you. That included bull's-eyeing our Upset of the Week pick with Giants winning at Buccaneers, and another outright upset with Jaguars beating Titans. LeBatard Show fantasy--Yes again! Greg's Lobos, now 2-1, defeated Guillermo (a.k.a Billy) by 144-128 -- our score the highest for the week of the league's 16 teams. Rodee the Mike Evans train for 45 and also got 34 from Patrick Mahomes and a big 23 from Shady McCoy. Friends n' family fantasy--No! Lobos dropped to 1-2 with a tough 103-100 loss to Christopher. That, despite Deshaun Watson and Dalvin Cook giving me 51 combined. Worse, I just lost Saquon Barkley for a big chunk of season.

Other select recent columns: The Dolphins aren't awful. They're worse than that / Trading Tunsil Hurts, But Dolphins Won This Deal / Who's Super Bowl-Bound And Where Dolphins Land (NFL Team Rankings) / Luck Deserves Praise For Putting Health, Life Above Football / Hurricanes Have Only Themselves To Blame For Opening Loss / 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 / The 4 Ways Miami Heat Had A Winning Offseason / Wimbledon, Tiger, U.S. Women For Starters. Why 2019 Is Greatest Sports Year Ever / Queens of the World. U.S. Soccer Wins Again / Bold Moves To Get Jimmy Butler Make Heat -- And Pat Riley -- Relevant Again / New-look Panthers: Lots Of Hope, Zero Excuses Left / 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 / Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / 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 / And, our Dwyane Wade Farewell Trilogy: The Last Star: Post-Wade, Miami Sports Is BereftWade Fittingly Goes Out A Winner And 30-point Star; and Thank You, Dwyane Wade, Miami's G.O.A.T.

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

September 18, 2019

Worst team ever? Here comes the national mocking of Dolphins. Latest column (including Minkah Fitzpatrick trade); plus our weekend in New York City, Herald Week 2 NFL QB Rankings, NFL Pix 'n Fantasy Week 2 results & more

1) It's WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 18. Scroll to previous blogpost for results of latest Dolfan and Canesfan Satisfaction Meter polls. 2) Coming later today: Our NFL Week 3 Thursday night pick for Titans-Jaguars. 3) Check out our 'Fins At 50' book at Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Hurricanes clobber Bethune with CSM poll, Dolphins crushed by Pats with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10, handicapping ex-Canes, Fins on 2020 Hall ballot, R.I.P. Ric Ocasek & more. 5) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Herald Week 2 NFL QB Rankings: There's a new overall No. 1 for the season. Who it is should surprise nobody. Visit Herald Week 2 NFL QB Rankings.

DOLPHINS: WORST MIAMI TEAM EVER? NATIONAL PUNCHLINE COMING. MY NEWEST COLUMNWhen the losing is this bad, the mocking follows. And that can be worse. It kicks you when you’re way down. It laughs at your pain. Belittles your pride. The Miami Dolphins are getting it already, two games in. The booing, the paper bags over heads, the Tanking Army among your owns fans Saddolsdelighting in the defeat — that isn’t even the worst of it. Becoming a national joke is. Sunday on Fox Sports’ NFL show, Cooper Manning (inexplicably) has a segment. This week the older brother of Peyton and Eli was doing a bit with two Ravens players. Cooper mentioned that Seahawks and Dolphins weren’t real animals, the setup line. One of the Ravens then said, "Dolphins are real." [Short pause] "Their team isn’t!" Cooper delivered the punchline as funny music ended the segment. Soon the Dolphins’ epic terribleness will reach the late-night monologues and be fodder. I happen to be buddies with someone connected to the "Saturday Night Live" writing staff gearing for the Sept. 28 startup of its new season. I asked whether the Dolphins’ woes might make the Weekend Update segment. "On the radar," he texted back. "Just need them to keep being awful." Never on a football field, a basketball court, a baseball diamond or a sheet of ice has South Florida seen a professional sports team this bad. The use of the phrase "professional" team feels dubious, although, technically, this is one. The Dolphins have lost 59-10 and 43-0 — the worst start by any team in the NFL’s 100 seasons — and yet, with no remorse evident, players get paid, anyway. Beleaguered rookie coach Brian Flores, handed a depleted team with an eye on the future, not now, can only put his head down and shoulder on. "We come in, we make corrections and we move on," he said Monday afternoon at camp. Then, as if firing a preemptive strike against reports of unrest and some players wanting out: "We don’t point fingers," he volunteered. "We don’t make excuses. There’s a room full of guys who aren’t doing that." When I say Flores’ Fins are our worst Miami team ever, that covers 137 combined seasons of Dolphins, Heat, Marlins and Panthers, and a fair share of losing. For the full column -- updated to include last night's trade of Minkah Fitzpatrick to Pittsburgh for a first round draft pick -- visit Worst Miami Team Ever? Epic Losing Already Making Dolphins A National Joke.

Other most recent work: Quit Whining! Yes Dolphins Are Tanking, And Yes They Should / Also: It's Up to Today's Dolphins to Defend Shula's Legacy / Herald Week 1 QB Rankings / The Dolphins aren't awful. They're worse than that (game column from opening loss).

Picks LoboslogoNFL PIX 'N FANTASY RESULTS: WEEK 2: NFL picks--Improved. Bounced back a rough start with a solid 11-5 mark overall and 8-8 against the point spread. LeBatard Show fantasy--Yes! Greg's Lobos crushed Mina Kimes 140-96.9 to go to 1-1, led by Patrick Mahomes' 39.6 points and and unexpected 22-and-change from Vance McDonald and Tyler Boyd. Friends n' family fantasy--Ouch. Lobos fell to 1-1 with a 128-114 loss. Led into Monday behind a combined 50 from RBs Dalvin Cook and Saquon Barkley, but got buried on MNF by 49 combined from my opponent's Odell Beckham Jr. and Le'Veon Bell.

Brandimsg MockingbirdMY WEEKEND IN NEW YORK CITY: Wife and I spent a long weekend in New York City that was splendid for three main reasons: 1) Saw "To Kill A Mockingbird" Friday night on Broadway at the Shubert Theater; 2) saw Brandi Carlile and Mavis Staples on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden; and 3) lucked to be able to miss Sunday's 43-0 Dolphins home loss to New England. Not sure which would qualify as the highlight, although the first two were hard to beat. "Mockingbird" was everything I thought it would be and more, which A-list performances especially from Jeff Daniels as Atticus Finch and Celia Keenan-Bolger in a Tony Award-winning turn as his daughter Scout. It didn't hurt that we had front-row seats and were six feet from where Daniels/Finch sat onstage during courtroom scenes. Catch this play when in NYC if you can. Highly recommended. As for the concert? Well I have been a Mavis fan since the Staple Singers in the '70s and an admirer of her activism and her heart my whole life. Brandi Carlile came into my life like an epiphany just this year, and with such impact I goaded my wife into this trip mainly to see that twin-bill with Mavis opening at a sold-out MSG. It did not disappoint. An emotionally moving concert. Mavis is a national treasure still going strong at 80. Discover Brandi if you have not already, and thank me later.

Other select recent columns: Trading Tunsil Hurts, But Dolphins Won This Deal / Who's Super Bowl-Bound And Where Dolphins Land (NFL Team Rankings) / Diaz's Choice For Hurricanes QB Not Seen In More Than 50 Years / Luck Deserves Praise For Putting Health, Life Above Football / Hurricanes Have Only Themselves To Blame For Opening Loss / 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 / Le Batard Defies Trump, ESPN's No-Politics Policy / The 4 Ways Miami Heat Had A Winning Offseason / Wimbledon, Tiger, U.S. Women For Starters. Why 2019 Is Greatest Sports Year Ever / Queens of the World. U.S. Soccer Wins Again / Bold Moves To Get Jimmy Butler Make Heat -- And Pat Riley -- Relevant Again / New-look Panthers: Lots Of Hope, Zero Excuses Left / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / Heat's Haslem Doesn't Need Us Telling Him Whether To Retire / Drip Or Swag, Herro Brings It, And Heat Need It / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players / Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / For Marlins, An Encouraging Two Weeks Is Progress / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / 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 / And, our Dwyane Wade Farewell Trilogy: The Last Star: Post-Wade, Miami Sports Is BereftWade Fittingly Goes Out A Winner And 30-point Star; and Thank You, Dwyane Wade, Miami's G.O.A.T.

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

September 07, 2019

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 15.7%. Approval plummets with 28-25 loss at North Carolina in ACC opener. Vote now!; plus our NFL Week 1 picks, your verdict on my fantasy team, Le Batard Show fantasy draft & more

1) It's SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 7. It's the perfect time to check out my 'Fins At 50' book at Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins trade Tunsil in blockbuster deal, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

CsmCANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G2: 15.7%: Results are certified in the latest of the Miami Herald's Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame polls, and they show 15.7 percent overall satisfaction -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Saturday night's 28-25 loss at North Carolina in Miami's ACC opener, putting UM's season record at 0-2 overall and 0-1 in conference play. 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. You may vote here in the blog, elsewhere online, and also at Twitter.com/gregcote (where the approval was 18%). Online/blog voting determine the weekly verdict, which is announced here the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 9:30 a.m. today/Monday.

2019 Canesfan Satisfaction Meter

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

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

Next poll: Sept. 14 following game vs. Bethune-Cookman.

UmuncG2: HURRICANES @ NORTH CAROLINA: PRESSURE ON CANES TO SEAL ROAD WIN IN ACC OPENER: It's one thing to fall narrowly to a top-10 Florida in a a neutral-site opener. It would be quite another to be a road favorite at North Carolina in your ACC opener and lose again. Losing to the Gators stung, but Mdiazlosing this one would make it feel like a season of high hopes had gone completely off the rails two games in. That is why more pressure is on Miami now than there was in the ballyhooed opener. That makes tonight/Saturday at 8 in Chapel Hill as close to a must-win as you could want in early September, especially for coach Manny Diaz and quarterback Jarren Williams. The Canes in general must look sharper, readier, after slopping through 14 penalties for 118 yards against UF and allowing 10 sacks. The betting line opened with Miami favored by 6 points but dove to 3 1/2 before settling back up at 5, the movement indicative of a betting public still unsure what to make of the Canes. UM crushed UNC 47-10 last year in the midst of a 2-9 Tar Heels season. This won't be as easy, with ESPN's Football Power Index putting Miami's win-likelihood at a modest 63.1 percent. I like UM tonight without much reservation. Coming off a bye after the early Aug. 24 opener, The U should ride defensive domination to a comfy if not quite rout-y win. Interesting side note: Mack Brown begins his second coaching stint with the Heels. He's best known as the Texas head coach in 1998-2013, where one of his proteges was defensive coordinator Manny Diaz. Diaz worked under Brown three seasons before being abruptly fired in '13. That checks one more box for why Diaz wants this win like a big dog wants that meaty bone. Diaz is pictured left using index fingers to signal the won-lost record Miami absolutely must have coming out of this game. Cote's pick: Hurricanes 27, North Carolina 16.

Picks RavenIT'S UPSET BIRD WEEK IN AMERICA! OUR NFL WEEK 1 PICKS: Off our record-setting 2018 season, we begin our 29th year of NFL picks in the Miami Herald by today revealing our 2019 Week 1 selections for Dolphins-Ravens, Game of the Week, Upset of the Week and all the rest. Could Miami actually be among my three big upset picks? To find out please visit Week 1 Gems. Our picks appear Thursday afternoons every week, and Fridays in print. (Our Thursday Night Football pick appears Wednesdays online and Thursdays in print. Visit Week 1 Thursday Gem for last night's Packers-Bears pick, a misfire by us, alas). We are inexplicably coming off our best season ever, with a .705 winning percentage overall last year and .582 against the point spread. Pictured: Our "How the Darts Landed" picks logo, and a charcoal rendering of the Upset Bird, the mysterious, never-photographed Corvus corax who serves as our prognosticatory sidekick and seer on all upset picks. 

Our most recent columns: Trading Tunsil Hurts, But Dolphins Won This Deal / Who's Super Bowl-Bound And Where Dolphins Land (NFL Team Rankings) / Diaz's Choice For Hurricanes QB Not Seen In More Than 50 Years / Luck Deserves Praise For Putting Health, Life Above Football / Hurricanes Have Only Themselves To Blame For Opening Loss / 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.

FANTASY VOTES ARE IN AND YOU LOVED MY TEAM MOST! (NO, SERIOUSLY): Had our PFPI Fantasy friends 'n family league draft earlier this week, a 10-team PPR league that had a snake draft. The exact order was shown in a blind poll, and we invited you to vote which team you would most like to have based on each team's first five picks. Almost 800 votes had been cast when we closed it off this morning. Your results, with each team's first pick shown:

FfTeam 1: Saquon Barkley -- 25.91%. That's my team! Thanks for the support. Hope y'all are right!

Team 7: DeAndre Hopkins -- 16.84%. That's Michael, my youngest son.

Team 3: Alvin Kamara -- 13.73%. That's Brandon, a friend.

Team 4: Ezekiel Elliott -- 9.46%. That's Alex, a friend. (This vote total spiked after Zeke finally signed).

Team 2: Christian McCaffrey -- 8.94%. That's Joe, a nephew.

Team 9: David Johnson -- 6.61%. That's Earleen, my wife. Tied with below.

Team 10: Patrick Mahomes -- 6.61%. That's Dick, my brother. Tied with above.

Team 5: Tyreek Hill -- 5.05%. That's Christopher, my oldest son, from the Le Batard Show. Ouch.

Team 8: Travis Kelce -- 4.66%. That's Christie, my daughter-in-law, Chris' wife.

Team 6: Le'Veon Bell -- 2.20%. That's Cori, Christie's sister. Sorry, Cori. Exceed expectations!

GlobosLe Batard Show draft: We had our Le Batard Show "League of Lobos" draft last evening and it was a clusterf---, to be honest. There are too many teams (18), too many fraud-teams were auto-drafting, and inexplicably the draft order changed minutes before the draft, with me dropping from the 11th pick to the 16th. I got Patrick Mahomes 16th and Mike Evans after that, but this season could be a struggle. We'll have weekly updates on-air and in this space, so stay tuned. #WeAreTheLobos

Select other recent columns: Zero Doubt: Rosen, Not Fitzpatrick, Must Start For Dolphins / Here's Why Canes Took Bold Gamble on Jarren Williams at QB / How Brian Flores Won Dolphins Players' Respect Before Ever Coaching A Game / In Tyreek Hill, Goodell And NFL Turn Blind Eye To Domestic Violence / Le Batard Defies Trump, ESPN's No-Politics Policy / The 4 Ways Miami Heat Had A Winning Offseason / What If Everybody's Wrong About The Dolphins? / Wimbledon, Tiger, U.S. Women For Starters. Why 2019 Is Greatest Sports Year Ever / Heat And Riley Lose On Westbrook, But Loss Might Still Be A Win / Coco's Wimbledon Runs Ends, But U.S. Tennis Just Found Its Next Big Thing / Queens of the World. U.S. Soccer Wins Again / Bold Moves To Get Jimmy Butler Make Heat -- And Pat Riley -- Relevant Again / New-look Panthers: Lots Of Hope, Zero Excuses Left / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / Heat's Haslem Doesn't Need Us Telling Him Whether To Retire / Drip Or Swag, Herro Brings It, And Heat Need It / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players / Heat Must Dump Bad Contracts Starting With Whiteside, Dragic /Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / For Marlins, An Encouraging Two Weeks Is Progress / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Dolphins Land Big Prize in Wilkins / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / 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 / And, our Dwyane Wade Farewell Trilogy: The Last Star: Post-Wade, Miami Sports Is BereftWade Fittingly Goes Out A Winner And 30-point Star; and Thank You, Dwyane Wade, Miami's G.O.A.T.

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

September 04, 2019

Fantasy family! Poll! Which of these teams would you most like to have in PPR league based on 1st 5 picks. Last day to vote!; plus NFL picks return this week & more

1) It's WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 4. It's the perfect time to check out my 'Fins At 50' book at Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins trade Tunsil in blockbuster deal, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 3) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Picks"Aaawwwk!" NFL picks return this week!: Our 29th season of NFL predictions returns this week. A Miami Herald fixture since 1991, our picks appear in print every Friday and online Thursday afternoons. Our Thursday night pick appears that day in print and online today/Wednesday. We are inexplicably coming off our best season ever, with a .705 winning percentage overall last year and .582 against the betting line. Can we slay the evil point spread again this season? Come along for the ride and find out starting this week!

The Tunsil trade column: Losing Laremy Tunsil really hurts, but getting two first-round pick and second was too much to turn down. Please visit Trading Tunsil Hurts,But Dolphins Won This Deal.

Our Dolphins and Hurricanes preview-section columns: For our 2019 NFL Team Rankings: Who's Super Bowl-Bound And Where Dolphins Land. And mining UM history for perspective on a bold decision: Diaz's Choice For Hurricanes QB Not Seen In More Than 50 Years.

FantasyBLIND POLL: RATE MY FANTASY TEAM BASED ON FIRST 5 PICKS: On Sunday we held our PFPI Fantasy (friends and family league) draft, a 10-team PPR league that had a snake draft. The exact order is shown below; i.e., Saquon Barkley was the No. 1 overall pick. Vote which team you would most like to have based on each team's first five picks. After a couple of days of voting I'll tell you you how you ranked my team among the 10 and give you the results in order. Ready? Vote now!

Previous most recent other columns: Clowney Would Be Missing Piece in Dolphins' Emerging Plan / Luck Deserves Praise For Putting Health, Life Above Football / Hurricanes Have Only Themselves To Blame For Opening Loss / Zero Doubt: Rosen, Not Fitzpatrick, Must Start For Dolphins / Here's Why Canes Took Bold Gamble on Jarren Williams at QBDolphins' Ross Cannot Be Surprised By Major Fallout Over Trump Fundraiser / Le Batard on Miami Radio Turmoil: 'We Were Evicted' / and Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field.

Select other recent columns: How Brian Flores Won Dolphins Players' Respect Before Ever Coaching A Game / In Tyreek Hill, Goodell And NFL Turn Blind Eye To Domestic Violence / Le Batard Defies Trump, ESPN's No-Politics Policy / The 4 Ways Miami Heat Had A Winning Offseason / What If Everybody's Wrong About The Dolphins? / Wimbledon, Tiger, U.S. Women For Starters. Why 2019 Is Greatest Sports Year Ever / Heat And Riley Lose On Westbrook, But Loss Might Still Be A Win / Coco's Wimbledon Runs Ends, But U.S. Tennis Just Found Its Next Big Thing / Queens of the World. U.S. Soccer Wins Again / Bold Moves To Get Jimmy Butler Make Heat -- And Pat Riley -- Relevant Again / New-look Panthers: Lots Of Hope, Zero Excuses Left / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / Heat's Haslem Doesn't Need Us Telling Him Whether To Retire / Drip Or Swag, Herro Brings It, And Heat Need It / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players / Heat Must Dump Bad Contracts Starting With Whiteside, Dragic /Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / For Marlins, An Encouraging Two Weeks Is Progress / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Dolphins Land Big Prize in Wilkins / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / 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 / And, our Dwyane Wade Farewell Trilogy: The Last Star: Post-Wade, Miami Sports Is BereftWade Fittingly Goes Out A Winner And 30-point Star; and Thank You, Dwyane Wade, Miami's G.O.A.T.

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

September 02, 2019

Dolphins trade Tunsil in blockbuster deal. My latest column; plus latest Hot Button Top 10 (updated). See who's No. 1 and what else lands where, NFL picks return this week ("Aawwk!") & more

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

1) It's MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 2. Welcome, September, month of football, month of autumn. Thanks for hopefully sparing South Florida of Dorian's full wrath. 2) It's the perfect time to check out my 'Fins At 50' book at Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): On Flores' tough spot with Tunsil, Clowney trade talks, Luck's shocking retirement, Dolphins/Canes preview-section columns & more. 4) Join us on Twitter.com/gregcote. Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Picks"Aaawwwk!" NFL picks return this week!: Our 29th season -- hard to believe -- of NFL predictions returns this week. A Miami Herald fixture since 1991, our picks appear in print every Friday and online Thursday afternoons. Our Thursday night pick appears Thursday in print and online Wednesday. We are inexplicably coming off our best season ever, with a .705 winning percentage overall last year and .582 against the betting line. Can we slay the evil point spread again this season? Come along for the ride starting this week!

THE TUNSIL TRADE: MY COLUMN: Losing Laremy Tunsil really hurts, but getting two first-round pick and second was too much to turn down. Please visit Trading Tunsil Hurts,But Dolphins Won This Deal.

Our Dolphins and Hurricanes preview-section columns: For our 2019 NFL Team Rankings: Who's Super Bowl-Bound And Where Dolphins Land. And mining UM history for perspective on a bold decision: Diaz's Choice For Hurricanes QB Not Seen In More Than 50 Years.

Previous most recent other columns: Tunsil/Clowney Trade Would Be Powderkeg for Dolphins, Flores / Clowney Would Be Missing Piece in Dolphins' Emerging Plan / and Luck Deserves Praise For Putting Health, Life Above Football. Also: Hurricanes Have Only Themselves To Blame For Opening Loss / Zero Doubt: Rosen, Not Fitzpatrick, Must Start For Dolphins / Here's Why Canes Took Bold Gamble on Jarren Williams at QBDolphins' Ross Cannot Be Surprised By Major Fallout Over Trump Fundraiser / Le Batard on Miami Radio Turmoil: 'We Were Evicted' / and Buoniconti: Hall of Famer, But Even Greater Off the Field.

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

Hotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Tunsil trade, QB decision and a season opener -- oh my!Can't say it's been dull in Finsville. Miami wrapped up a 3-1 preseason by (predictably and unfortunately) naming Ryan Fitzpatrick as starting quarterback, and then Saturday traded tackle Laremy Tunsil and Kenny Stills to Houston for two first-round picks and a second. (My column on that trade here). Club also released long snapper John Denney, a Fin since 2005. Meantime, oh yeah, the regular season starts this coming Sunday for new coach Brian Flores as the Baltimore Ravens fly into Hard Rock.

2. HURRICANES: UM out to shake Gators loss, preps for Heels in ACC opener: Canes are on the road at North Carolina in five days in a game compelling because it is UM's ACC opener and because, with Miami's opening loss to Florida, an 0-2 start would make UM's season feel derailed right out the gate. It shouldn't be a problem, folks. Miami crushed UNC last season 47-10 and the Heels seem down again. Time for coach Manny Diaz and QB Jarren Williams to bag their first career wins -- or y'all might as well not even bother coming back!

3. COLLEGE FOOTBALL: No big surprises in Week 0/1 so far: Top 25 teams are 23-1 thus far in opening week of college football's 150th season, with Notre Dame playing tonight. And the only ranked-team loss, by No. 11 Oregon, came to another ranked team. What, you wanted Alabama and Clemson to suffer stunning defeats? Dream on, Bubba.

4. NFL: Three days until kickoff of King Sport's regular season!: As the league continues to reel from the aftershock of the sudden retirement of Colts QB Andrew Luck, life goes on. The NFL's 100th season kicks off this Thursday night with Chicago hosting Green Bay. As for which two teams will cap the season in the Super Bowl Miami in hosting, let's just say if the Dolphins are one of those teams it would be a bigger stunner than Luck quitting. How about by default we just root as always for ABTP? (Anybody But The Patriots).

5. STATE COLLEGES (NON-UM): 'Noles, FIU, FAU all lose openers: The state's seven FBS (nee Division 1) teams limped to a combined 2-5 start in their openers, including Florida State losing at home to Boise State 36-31 and losses by both FIU (to Tulane) and FAU (at No. 5 Ohio State). No. 17 UCF won but South Florida fell hard. Seemed like our state mostly dodged a bullet with Hurricane Dorian, but five of seven teams didn't fare as well.

6. BASKETBALL: U.S. wins debut in FIBA World Cup: The two-week, 32-nation FIBA men's World Cup is underway in China, with the favored Team USA playing its first game Sunday and comfortably handling the Czech Republic, 88=67, led by Donovan Mitchell's 16 points. The U.S. remains the betting fave despite a tuneup loss to Australia last week, the first time in 13 years a U.S. team that included NBA players had lost in international play. (Then again, this is a superstar-less American roster whose biggest name probably is Kemba Walker, so...).

7. TENNIS: Djokovic, Osaka out in U.S Open at major's midpoint: No major upsets had happened yet in the in the U.S. Open -- but that was before No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic dropped the first two sets to Stan Wawrinka on Sunday then retired with a shoulder ailment, and No. 1 women's seed Naomi Osaka lost today/Monday. But Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are still alive on the men's side, while women's play finds betting favorite Serena Williams still gunning for the title. A triumph by Serena would be a record-tying 24th major for her. Go Williams, go! 

8. MARLINS: It's official. Jeter calls season "frustrating": You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows, and you don't need Derek Jeter to tell you this has been "a frustrating year." Miami, in the midst of a six-game road trip, is on a 105-loss pace entering Sunday and threatening the franchise high of 108 losses set in 1998. Six of MLB's top 100 prospects give the Marlins hope, but when will it begin to show? Meantime, thank god for the Tigers and Orioles, who make even the Fish look good. Well, less awful.

9. FANTASY: Gentleman (and ladies), start your drafts!: This was the biggest weekend for NFL fantasy drafts, because the closer they are to the start of the regular season, the better. You want proof? Talk to anybody whose draft was two weeks ago and who was fist-pumping with happiness to have drafted Andrew Luck.  

10. PANTHERS: Ready or not, hockey is almost back: It's getting close, puckheads. Florida Panthers will stage a two-day rookie camp Sept. 10-11, then open full training camp Sept. 13. With new star coach Joel Quenneville and new star goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, hopes are high. Which means a franchise that has let its fans down way too often had better live up this time.

Missing the HB10 cut: Baseball can't even get its playoff chase right. As season wanes, only one of six divisions has a real battle for first place (Cardinals-Cubs), and the biggest wild-card question is whether the Rays will make it. Yawn ..... Countdown: No dates set yet, but Jimmy Butler and the retooled Miami Heat will open training camp in late September ..... R.I.P. Jim Langer, 71, Dolphins glory-days center ..... Update: Countdown now 2,485 days (give or take) until Miami hosts its first match in the 2026 World Cup.

Select other recent columns: Don't Overthink It, Dolphins. Start Rosen / How Brian Flores Won Dolphins Players' Respect Before Ever Coaching A Game / Countdown To Hurricanes-Gators On As Practices Begin / In Tyreek Hill, Goodell And NFL Turn Blind Eye To Domestic Violence / Le Batard Defies Trump, ESPN's No-Politics Policy / The 4 Ways Miami Heat Had A Winning Offseason / What If Everybody's Wrong About The Dolphins? / Wimbledon, Tiger, U.S. Women For Starters. Why 2019 Is Greatest Sports Year Ever / Heat And Riley Lose On Westbrook, But Loss Might Still Be A Win / Coco's Wimbledon Runs Ends, But U.S. Tennis Just Found Its Next Big Thing / Queens of the World. U.S. Soccer Wins Again / Bold Moves To Get Jimmy Butler Make Heat -- And Pat Riley -- Relevant Again / New-look Panthers: Lots Of Hope, Zero Excuses Left / It Is Megan Rapinoe's World Cup -- On And Off The Field / An Era Ends As Panthers' Luongo Retires / Heat's Haslem Doesn't Need Us Telling Him Whether To Retire / Drip Or Swag, Herro Brings It, And Heat Need It / O.J. Can Tweet What He Wants, But How He's Seen Is Not Up To Him / Ranking Dolphins, Heat, Marlins & Panthers' Best Young Players / Heat Must Dump Bad Contracts Starting With Whiteside, Dragic /Inter Miami Aiming High With Barca's Suarez / For Marlins, An Encouraging Two Weeks Is Progress / End The Illogical Shame and Honor Schnellenberger / Smart Decision A No-Brainer: Dolphins Should Start Rosen / Dolphins Land Big Prize in Wilkins / Oh To Be Hated Again! Lean Times For Miami Sports / Why Tiger's Masters Triumph Is About More Than Golf / Case For Kaepernick's Comeback As A Dolphin / 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 / And, our Dwyane Wade Farewell Trilogy: The Last Star: Post-Wade, Miami Sports Is BereftWade Fittingly Goes Out A Winner And 30-point Star; and Thank You, Dwyane Wade, Miami's G.O.A.T.

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 26, 2018

On tonight's big Heat test, Dolphins award winners; plus my annual Christmas/holiday video, this year with Jeter, Beckham, Gase and Wade; also, Herald NFL QB rankings (fight to the finish), Pix 'n Fantasy results (Yes, I went 15-1) & more

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

Mc1) It's WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 26. Hope y'all had a Merry Christmas, fellow Christians, and a joyous holiday season to all! 2) Football is nearing its crescendo and the holidays are upon us. That means it's the perfect time to delight Dolfans you know with the gift of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins fall to Jacksonville with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10, ButchCats & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Our 'Debacle of Disappearing Dolphins' column: The Grinch stole the playoffs in Sunday's 17-7 Dolphins home loss to Jacksonville. Did he also steal Ryan Tannehill's Fins future and Adam Gase's job? I explore in my column from the stadium off the game. Visit End Of Hope For Dolphins. For Tannehill, Gase, too? to read.

MerryxmasMERRY CHRISTMAS! IT'S OUR ANNUAL HOLIDAY VIDEO AND IT'S HO-HO-HORRRIBLEE!: That's me unsmiling in red with a bad beard. My holiday friends are Marlins boss Derek Jeter in blue, Dolphins coach Adam Gase in yellow, MLS Miami potentate David Beckham in green and of course Heat star Dwyane Wade in whatever the heck color that is. The five of us recently got together for a sled race that was recorded for my annual holiday greeting. (Thanks for taking the time from your busy schedules, fellas). Hope you enjoy! Click MERRY CHRISTMAS 2018 to watch.

JoshrON HEAT'S TELLING TEST TONIGHT: Toronto at Miami tonight is a bigger than typical midseason test for the suddenly surging Heat. (Leading scorer Josh Richardson is pictured). Miami rides the NBA's best current winning streak (five games) to 16-16 and tonight can go over .500 for the first time since 3-2. But to do that they must beat the best team in the league in the Raptors, who are 25-10 and atop the standings. Toronto beat Miami 125-115 one month ago in Canada. Is Miami a team that can contend for a top-four playoff seed or will be scrambling for an eighth? Look for clues tonight. Encouraging sign: The Heat surge has been without Goran Dragic, who is out for several more weeks following knee surgery.

XhowardON DOLPHINS' 2018 TEAM AWARD WINNERS: Announced today, it's cornerback Xavien Howard (pictured) as Most Valuable Player, running back Frank Gore the Leadership Award, quarterback Ryan Tannehill the Courage Award, and wide receiver Kenny Stills the Community Service Award. Quick thoughts: No complaint with any of the choices, but  I don't think it's a good sign when a CB on a middle-of-the-pack pass defense is your season MVP. Or, put another way, when your QB or some other offensive skill-position player failed to rise up and seize the award.

NfolesFOLES WINS WEEK, MAHOMES TAKES NARROW LEAD TO FINISH LINE / MIAMI HERALD NFL QB RANKINGS / WEEK 16: The Eagles' Nick Foles (pictured) takes Week 16 honors with a big 58.55-point game, but, more importantly, the Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes maintains his overall No. 1 spot in the Miami Herald's NFL quarterback rankings. Mahomes has a scant 4.20-point lead over the Saints' Drew Brees, and it figures as a two-man race for the season championship entering the final week. Dolphin Ryan Tannehill falls one spot to 30th overall. Our rankings are cumulative, but with bye weeks finished the playing field has leveled for the stretch run. This is our 21st season of Passer Success System (PASS) NFL QB rankings. Our formula is simple and unchanged since its inception in 1998, factoring accuracy, yardage, TD-interception ratio and team result. Most major ranking systems such as the NFL's and ESPN's are complicated and percentile based, allowing QBs who miss half a season to still win a title, while our system is cumulative, rewarding players who are consistently productive and avoid injury or benching. The Top 25 table (plus Dolphins) entering the Week 17 finale:

MIAMI HERALD PASS RANKINGS / WEEK 16
RK    LW    Player, Team                       WK16        Season

1       1       Patrick Mahomes, KC           28.65         588.80

2       2       Drew Brees, NO                   39.30        584.60

3       3       Matt Ryan, ATL                    29.95        556.25

4       4       Ben Roethlisberger, PIT        44.00        550.10

5       5       Kirk Cousins, MIN                 40.65        544.80

6       7       Andrew Luck, IND                40.85        534.40

7       6       Philip Rivers, LAC                12.05        506.60

8       8       Jared Goff, LAR                  32.80        491.45

9       11     Aaron Rodgers, GB              52.10        468.30

10     10     Deshaun Watson, HOU         40.95        467.55

11     9       Tom Brady, NE                    10.30         462.25

12     12     Derek Carr, OAK                  25.35        440.20

13     14     Eli Manning, NYG                32.45        428.40

14     15     Dak Prescott, DAL               31.05        425.85

15     16     Russell Wilson, SEA             34.55        423.80

16     13     Cam Newton, CAR               DNP          401.75

17     17     Matthew Stafford, DET        9.80          395.55

18     18     Carson Wentz, PHI              DNP           377.70

19     19     Mitch Trubisky, CHI            41.30          373.00

20     21     Baker Mayfield, CLE          45.20          371.45

21     20     Case Keenum, DEN            19.10         348.90

22     22     Marcus Mariota, TEN         14.50          297.40

23     23     Andy Dalton, CIN               DNP           270.30

24     28     Jameis Winston, TB          39.80          254.35

25     24     Joe Flacco, BAL                 DNP           246.25

30     29     Ryan Tannehill, MIA          15.30          218.60

34     33     Brock Osweiler, MIA           DNP           126.35

Bubble: Blake Bortles, JAC, 238.60. Week 16 best: Nick Foles, PHI, 58.55 (35-49, 471, 4-1 in win). Week 16 worst: Josh Rosen, ARI, 5.35 (12-23, 87, 0-0 in loss).

Picks LobosNFL WEEK 16 PIX 'N FANTASY RESULTS: STRONG ... AND STRONG!: Every Tuesday in the blog I update you on how I did the past weekend with my Miami Herald predictions and with my LeBatard Show/League Of Lobos fantasy team. The latest: Herald picks: Strong. Again. My surreal season continues. We went 15-1 -- yes 15-1 -- overall, missing only on the Dolphins home loss to Jacksonville. (Thanks, Fins). And we were 9-7 against the spread. We nailed yet another Upset of the Week with Ravens winning at Chargers ("Aawwk!"), and two other outright upsets Seahawks beating Chiefs and Raiders beating Broncos last night. Also had a trio of 'dogs-with-points in Redskins, Bengals and Giants. All in all, maybe our best season ever girds for its final week! Greg's Lobos: Strong. The Lobos ended 2-1 in the consolation-bracket playoffs after a 5-8 regular season. We closed with a 167.8 to 125.3 rout of Sarah Spain, led by Deshaun Watson's 36.5 points. We'll get 'em next year, because ... #WeAreTheLobos!

Select other recent columns: Diaz Leaving Is Biggest Canes Loss Of Richt Era / Tannehill's Litmus Test Is Pass or Fail / Oh What We Had, And What We Lost / Wade's World Bigger Than Hoops, And Good For Him / Honeymoon Over: How Collapsing Seasons Put Heat on Gase, Richt / NASCAR Needs A Next Big Thing / No More Excuses, Florida Panthers / To The Good-Guy Grinder In The Shades / Time to Flip the Old Narrative On Miami As a Sports Town / Can Riley Rescue Heat From Purgatory? / When 3 World Cup Legends Were Ours.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 12, 2018

Canes' Manny Diaz bolts for Temple. With my column, new poll. Vote now!; plus virgin winner & new season leader in Herald NFL QB rankings; also, Pix 'n Fantasy results, my Dolphins how-miracle-saved-Gase column, new 'Back In My Day' & more

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

1) It's WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 12. Visit Greg Cote Tuesday for the best-of podcast from yesterday's Le Batard Show on ESPN Radio. Includes the latest Back In My Day (Impact Windows!) late in the pod, at around the 58-minute mark. 2) Latest Dolfan Satisfaction Meter results are in, and they're best they've been since Week 3. See them here. 3) Football is raging and the holidays are upon us. That means it's the perfect time to delight Dolfans you know with the gift of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins' miracle stuns Patriots with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10, your Heisman verdict & more. 5) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

NFL Thursday night: Chargers-Chiefs pick:Two great teams, two great quarterbacks, 21-5 combined record and one clear winner. Visit Thursday Gem to see who, and why.

GaseMiraculous Dolphins! My two columns: 1) Visit Miracle Ending in Miracle Season for Dolphins for my column from the stadium on Sunday's epic 34-33 win over New England. 2) Visit The Magic Saved Gase, And Made Fins the Toast of Town for today's latest column, on how the miracle finish saved Adam Gase from being severely second-guessed, and positioned Dolphins as the great hope of South Florida sports this holiday season.

MannydMANNY DIAZ BOLTING MIAMI FOR TEMPLE. NEW COLUMN, NEW POLL: My new column -- Diaz Leaving Is Biggest Canes Loss Of Richt Era -- says what I have to say. Losing their excellent defensive coordinator (pictured) is a huge blow for The U, and terribly timed as well. Read why in my column. Your opinion goes here:

DakpPRESCOTT TAKES WEEK, MAHOMES TAKES LEAD / MIAMI HERALD NFL QB RANKINGS / WEEK 14: The Cowboys' Dak Prescott (pictured) takes Week 14 honors with a big 60.75-point game -- third-highest of the season -- while Chief Patrick Mahomes leapfrogs Saint Drew Brees into the overall season lead in the Miami Herald's NFL quarterback rankings. It is only Mahomes' second week on top, following a brief stay in Week 9. Dolphins Ryan Tannehill enjoyed a big 36.25-point game (seventh-best of the week) but stays stalled in 29th place. Our rankings are cumulative, but with bye weeks finished the playing field has leveled for the stretch run. This is our 21st season of Passer Success System (PASS) NFL QB rankings. Our formula is simple and unchanged since its inception in 1998, factoring accuracy, yardage, TD-interception ratio and team result. Most major ranking systems such as the NFL's and ESPN's are complicated and percentile based, allowing QBs who miss half a season to still win a title, while our system is cumulative, rewarding players who are consistently productive and avoid injury or benching. The Top 25 table (plus Dolphins) entering Week 15:

MIAMI HERALD PASS RANKINGS / WEEK 14
RK    LW    Player, Team                       WK14        Season

1       2       Patrick Mahomes, KC           43.85         528.00

2       1       Drew Brees, NO                   32.05         522.15

3       3       Matt Ryan, ATL                    33.10         495.75

4       6       Ben Roethlisberger, PIT        41.10         479.35

5       4       Kirk Cousins, MIN                 20.40         478.40

6       7       Andrew Luck, IND                40.95         473.95

7       8       Philip Rivers, LAC                28.00         459.90

8       5       Jared Goff, LAR                  -7.00          431.70

9       9       Tom Brady, NE                    37.90         424.00

10     11     Aaron Rodgers, GB               30.80         397.50

11     10     Cam Newton, CAR               20.25         395.20

12     14     Derek Carr, OAK                  43.10         394.70

13     12     Eli Manning, NYG                 29.85         389.50

14     13     Deshaun Watson, HOU         32.35         384.90

15     18     Dak Prescott, DAL               60.75         378.50

16     16     Carson Wentz, PHI              32.40         377.70

17     17     Matthew Stafford, DET       17.05          357.35

18     15     Russell Wilson, SEA            5.60            356.40

19     19     Case Keenum, DEN            18.30          308.95

20     22     Baker Mayfield, CLE          33.90          303.85

21     20     Mitch Trubisky, CHI            6.50            296.95

22     21     Andy Dalton, CIN               DNP            270.30

23     23     Marcus Mariota, TEN          22.10          269.50

24     24     Joe Flacco, BAL                 DNP            246.25

25     25     Alex Smith, WAS                DNP            236.00

29     29     Ryan Tannehill, MIA           36.25          199.90

33     31     Brock Osweiler, MIA           DNP            126.35

Bubble: Blake Bortles, JAC, 229.65. Week 14 best: Prescott, DAL, 60.75 (42-54, 455, 3-2 in win). Week 14 worst: Goff, LAR, minus-7.00 (20-44, 180, 0-4 in loss).

Picks LobosNFL WEEK 14 PIX 'N FANTASY RESULTS: MIXED AND GOOD, BUT...: Every Tuesday in the blog I update you on how I did the past weekend with my Miami Herald predictions and with my LeBatard Show/League Of Lobos fantasy team. The latest: Herald picksMixed. We went a solid 12-4 overall this past week and a just-OK 8-8 against the spread. We nailed yet another Upset of the Week with Dolphins over Patriots ("Aawwk!"), which we'd have had ATS even without the miracle ending. Had two other outright upsets with Browns over Panthers and Bears over Rams, and also had Raiders-with-points over Steelers. All in all, .500 is not bad at all as "bad" weeks go. Our excellent season continues. Greg's LobosGood, but... The Lobos defeated Sarah Spain 94.2 to 70.8 to open the playoffs. Alas, after a 5-8 regular season, we're in the consolation bracket, not playing for the championship. Still, Tyreek Hill's 22.5 led the 'Bos to feather his chances to lasso season MVL honors. We'll see. #WeAreTheLobos!

Select other recent columns: Oklahoma, College Football Win the Day / Why A Canes Defender Snubbed by ACC Deserves All-America Honors / Inside Lane on Road to Canton, Cooperstown / Tannehill's Litmus Test Is Pass or Fail / Oh What We Had, And What We Lost / Wade's World Bigger Than Hoops, And Good For Him / Honeymoon Over: How Collapsing Seasons Put Heat on Gase, Richt / NASCAR Needs A Next Big Thing / No More Excuses, Florida Panthers / Dolphins? Heat? Nope. UM Football Owns This Town / To The Good-Guy Grinder In The Shades / Time to Flip the Old Narrative On Miami As a Sports Town / Can Riley Rescue Heat From Purgatory? / When 3 World Cup Legends Were Ours.

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

Twitter @gregcote

December 06, 2018

The new Back In My Day video: Nail-clipping!; plus Canes, OB, FIU and the rest: We rank the 7 college bowl games with strongest SoFla ties; also, tonight's Jaguars-Titans pick, latest Herald NFL QB rankings, Pix 'n Fantasy results & more

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

1) It's THURSDAY, DECEMBER 6. Visit Greg Cote Tuesday for the link to this week's LeBatard Show best-of podcast. 2) Football is raging and the holidays are upon us. That means it's the perfect time to delight Dolfans you know with the gift of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins beat Bills with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

Tonight's Jaguars-Titans pick: Visit Thursday Gem for tonight's Jacksonville-at-Tennessee pick.

Most recent columns: College Football Playoff got it right and more: Why the CFP got it right with Oklahoma for the final spot -- and why the continuing debate is great for the sport. Visit Oklahoma, College Football Win the Day for my latest column. Other recent stuff: Why A Canes Defender Snubbed by ACC Deserves All-America Honors / Inside Lane on Road to Canton, Cooperstown / Tannehill's Litmus Test Is Pass or Fail / Oh What We Had, And What We Lost / Wade's World Bigger Than Hoops, And Good For Him / Honeymoon Over: How Collapsing Seasons Put Heat on Gase, Richt.

RANKING THE SEVEN BOWLS PLAYED LOCALLY OR INVOLVING STATE TEAMS: Seven of the 39 college football bowl games either being played in South Florida (2) or involve state FBS teams (5). Here they are, based on our interest level:

Bowls1. Orange Bowl Dec. 29: No. 1 Alabama (13-0) vs. No. 4 Oklahoma (12-1) at Hard Rock Stadium -- College Football Playoff national semifinal features the two Heisman Trophy favorites in QBs Tua Tagovailoa of th Crimons Tide and Kyler Murray of the Sooners. What's not to love? 'Bama a huge 13 1/2-point favorite, but does Tide's struggle in SEC title game foreshadow an upset?

2. Pinstripe Bowl Dec. 27: Miami (7-5) vs Wisconsin (7-5), Yankee Stadium, New York -- A glamorous venue but a middling bowl game finds The U a 3 1/2-point favorite as both teams come in off disappointing seasons. One year ago this same matchup graced the Orange Bowl. What a comedown. 

3. Peach Bowl Dec. 29: No. 10 Florida (9-3) vs. No. 7 Michigan (10-2), Atlanta -- Michigan a big 7-point favorite. Gator defense will try to keep it close, but can that offense and erratic quarterbacking keep up with the Wolverines?

4. Fiesta Bowl Jan. 1: No. 8 UCF (12-0) vs. No. 11 LSU (9-3), Glendale, Ariz. -- The team that saddled Miami with a season-opening loss vs. the team trying to complete a second straight perfect season. LSU a 7 1/2-point pick -- fat because Knights are without injured star QB McKenzie Milton.

5. Bahamas Bowl Dec. 21: FIU (8-4) vs. Toledo (7-5), Nassau -- Holy Toledo a 6-point pick but FIU is gunning for a school-record ninth victory of the season to cap Butch Davis' second year. Never underestimate the ButchCats!

6. Gasparilla Bowl Dec. 20: South Florida (7-5) vs. Marshall (8-4), Tampa -- Thundering Herd a 2 1/2-point favorite despite being de facto visiting team, because USF, once 7-0, has stumbled in off five consecutive losses.

7. Boca Raton Bowl Dec. 18: UAB (10-3) vs. Northern Illinois (8-5), FAU Stadium -- Conference USA champ vs. MAC daddies. 'Bama-Birmingham a 1 1/2-point pick. But does anybody outside of these two campuses care even a little? (And do they even care?)

LATEST 'BACK IN MY DAY': NAIL-CLIPPING!: Here's the new BIMD that debuted Tuesday on the LeBatard Show on ESPN Radio and ESPNews:  

DcarrCARR DRIVES TO WIN, TOP TIGHTENS / MIAMI HERALD NFL QB RANKINGS / WEEK 13: The Raiders' Derek Carr (pictured) takes Week 13 honors with a 43.25-point game (a season-low for a win), while Saint Drew Brees' overall season lead shrinks to around six points in the Miami Herald's NFL quarterback rankings. Our rankings are cumulative, but with bye weeks finished the playing field has leveled for the stretch run. This is our 21st season of Passer Success System (PASS) NFL QB rankings. Our formula is simple and unchanged since its inception in 1998, factoring accuracy, yardage, TD-interception ratio and team result. Most major ranking systems such as the NFL's and ESPN's are complicated and percentile based, allowing QBs who miss half a season to still win a title, while our system is cumulative, rewarding players who are consistently productive and avoid injury or benching. The Top 25 table (plus Dolphins) entering Week 14:

MIAMI HERALD PASS RANKINGS / WEEK 13
RK    LW    Player, Team                       WK13        Season

1       1       Drew Brees, NO                   14.35        490.10

2       3       Patrick Mahomes, KC           39.75        484.15

3       2       Matt Ryan, ATL                    15.55        462.65

4       4       Kirk Cousins, MIN                 27.05        458.00

5       5       Jared Goff, LAR                   16.35        438.70

6       7       Ben Roethlisberger, PIT        30.05        438.25

7       6       Andrew Luck, IND                23.40        433.00

8       8       Philip Rivers, LAC                41.95        431.90

9       10     Tom Brady, NE                     36.55        386.10

10     9       Cam Newton, CAR               24.00        374.95

11     12     Aaron Rodgers, GB               26.65        366.70

12     11     Eli Manning, NYG                 16.00        359.65

13     14     Deshaun Watson, HOU         32.20         352.55

14     16     Derek Carr, OAK                  43.25         351.60

15     15     Russell Wilson, SEA             31.25         350.80

16     17     Carson Wentz, PHI              38.30         345.30

17     13     Matthew Stafford, DET       19.25         340.30

18     19     Dak Prescott, DAL              40.40          317.75

19     20     Case Keenum, DEN             18.55         290.65

20     18     Mitch Trubisky, CHI              DNP          290.45

21     21     Andy Dalton, CIN                 DNP          270.30

22     23     Baker Mayfield, CLE           28.85         269.95

23     27     Marcus Mariota, TEN          27.10         247.40

24     22     Joe Flacco, BAL                  DNP           246.25

25     24     Alex Smith, WAS                 DNP           236.00

29     29     Ryan Tannehill, MIA            25.85         163.65

31     31     Brock Osweiler, MIA             DNP          126.35

Bubble: Blake Bortles, JAC, 229.65. Week 13 best: Carr, OAK, 43.25 (29-38, 285, 3-0 in loss). Week 13 worst: Josh McCown, NYJ, 7.40 (17-30, 128, 0-1 in loss).

Picks LobosNFL WEEK 13 PIX 'N FANTASY RESULTS: GOOD 'N GOOD!: Every Tuesday in the blog I update you on how I did the past weekend with my Miami Herald predictions and with my LeBatard Show/League Of Lobos fantasy team. The latest: Herald picksGood. ... again! Our strong season continues. We were a solid 11-5 straight-up last week and a stout 10-5-1 against the spread, with Dolphins' win pushing at four points for the tie. Nailed yet another Upset of the Week with Jaguars over Colts ("Aawwk!") and had a big four 'dogs-with-points in Cardinals, Giants, Bucs and Jets. Greg's LobosGood ... for a change. Lobos finished the regular season 5-8 with a 97.5 to 81.1 win over Mina Kimes, with five in double figures led by Zach Ertz's 17.3 points. The ''Bos missed the league's championship-round playoffs but we'll be climbing the consolation ladder. What else is there to do? #WeAreTheLobos!

Select other columns: NASCAR Needs A Next Big ThingDolfans, Your Team Is Not Easy To LoveNo More Excuses, Florida PanthersNFL 2018 Team RankingsDolphins? Heat? Nope. UM Football Owns This TownTo The Good-Guy Grinder In The ShadesTime to Flip the Old Narrative On Miami As a Sports TownCan Riley Rescue Heat From Purgatory? When 3 World Cup Legends Were Ours.

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 29, 2018

UM's Gerald Willis III / All-America push: All abooaarrd! With hype video, my column; plus your 2019 Cooperstown ballot. Last day to vote!; also, Cowboys-Saints pick, Herald NFL QB rankings, Pix 'n Fantasy results, college State of the State rank & more

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

1) It's THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 29. Football is raging and the holidays are upon us. That means it's the perfect time to delight Dolfans you know with the gift of our 'Fins At 50' book. Check it out on Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins fall at Indy with DSM poll, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook and Instagram.

GwillisUM's Gerald Willis / All-America campaign: All aboooaaarrrd!: Hurricanes defensive tackle Gerald Willis III (pictured) got snubbed by the All-ACC first team, but Miami nonetheless has chosen Willis to push for All-America  honors, and I'm on board. UM's promo video for Willis' candidacy is below. He'd be the first Canes DT so honored since Warren Sapp in 1994. To read my latest column, visit Why A Canes Defender Snubbed by ACC Deserves All-America Honors.

Cowboys-Saints NFL pick: The Cowboys have a clear path to a huge upset tonight. But the Saints have answer waiting. Visit Thursday Gem for tonight's pick.

Other select most recent columns: Inside Lane on Road to Canton, Cooperstown / Tannehill's Litmus Test Is Pass or Fail. Also: Oh What We Had, And What We Lost (LeBron's return to Miami with Lakers) / NASCAR Needs A Next Big Thing / Wade's World Bigger Than Hoops, And Good For Him / Honeymoon Over: How Collapsing Seasons Put Heat on Gase, Richt.

BbhfBASEBALL HALL OF FAME. YOUR BALLOT. VOTE NOW!: There are 35 names on the new Baseball Hall of Fame ballot for 2019 induction -- 15 back for another shot and a big 20 first-timers. But of the 35, at least half have zero shot, no chance. (Besides, 35 names is a long-ass ballot!) So I have winnowed this ballot to include the nine returning players who got at least 20 percent of the vote last year, and added the four newcomers who, by general consensus, have the best chance. The names are combined and presented alphabetically, 13 in all. If I've left anybody off, it's because I meant to. (Sorry, Juan Pierre!) On the actual ballot, BBWAA voters (such as myself) get to vote for as many as 10 of the 35. Here, I'm letting you pick up to five (5) of the 13. Disclaimer: This poll is for fun only. The results will have no influence over my own official ballot. Ready? What five players from this list most deserve 2019 induction? Vote!  

Vote for up to your top five (5)

Deciphering a five-vote ballot: In this poll, with five votes per person allowed, 20 percent would be a perfect total for a player to get if everyone cast all five votes. Take a player's total and multiply by five to get the percentage of times that player was included on a five-vote ballot. In other words, leader Mariano Rivera is being included on better than 90% of all ballots.

RIVERS IS FLOWING / MIAMI HERALD NFL QB RANKINGS / WEEK 12: Thanksgiving Week kicks off the start of the NFL playoff push and also the stretch run in our Herald NFL quarterback rankings. The Chargers' Philip Rivers (pictured) takes Week 12 honors with a 53.95-point game to edge Vikings Kirk Cousins by a couple of points. Saint Drew Brees maintains his overall season lead. Because our rankings are cumulative, players on a bye week take a temporary hit that evens out over the course of a season. With byes done, our playing field is now level to the finish line! This is our 21st season of Passer Success System (PASS) NFL QB rankings. Our formula is simple and unchanged since its inception in 1998, factoring accuracy, yardage, TD-interception ratio and team result. Most major ranking systems such as the NFL's and ESPN's are complicated and percentile based, allowing QBs who miss half a season to still win a title, while our system is cumulative, rewarding players who are consistently productive and avoid injury or benching. The Top 25 table (plus Dolphins) entering Week 13:

MIAMI HERALD PASS RANKINGS / WEEK 12
RK    LW    Player, Team                       WK12         Season

1       1       Drew Brees, NO                   30.55         475.75

2       4       Matt Ryan, ATL                    44.85         447.10

3       2       Patrick Mahomes, KC            BYE           444.40

4       5       Kirk Cousins, MIN                 51.10         430.95

5       3       Jared Goff, LAR                   BYE           422.35

6       7       Andrew Luck, IND                48.15         409.60

7       6       Ben Roethlisberger, PIT        46.10         408.20

8       8       Philip Rivers, LAC                53.95         389.95

9       11     Cam Newton, CAR               35.80          350.95

10     10     Tom Brady, NE                     34.15          349.55

11     12     Eli Manning, NYG                 29.85          343.65

12     9       Aaron Rodgers, GB               18.90         340.05

13     14     Matthew Stafford, DET         23.80         321.05

14     16     Deshaun Watson, HOU          35.50         320.35

15     17     Russell Wilson, SEA              40.95          319.55

16     13     Derek Carr, OAK                   10.70         308.35

17     18     Carson Wentz, PHI               31.80          307.00

18     15     Mitch Trubisky, CHI               DNP           290.45

19     22     Dak Prescott, DAL               38.45          277.35

20     20     Case Keenum, DEN              22.85          272.10

21     19     Andy Dalton, CIN                  8.00          270.30

22     21     Joe Flacco, BAL                    DNP           246.25

23     26     Baker Mayfield, CLE            41.90          241.10

24     23     Alex Smith, WAS                   DNP           236.00

25     24t    Blake Bortles, JAC               4.35           229.65

29     31     Ryan Tannehill, MIA             25.20         137.80

31     29     Brock Osweiler, MIA              DNP           126.35

Bubble: Ryan Fitzpatrick, TB, 225.30. Week 12 best: Rivers, LAC, 53.95 (28-29, 259, 3-0 in win). Week 12 worst: Bortles, JAC, 4.35 (12-23, 127, 1-2 in loss).

Picks LobosNFL WEEK 12 PIX 'N FANTASY RESULTS: GOOD, BAD: Every Tuesday in the blog I update you on how I did the past weekend with my Miami Herald predictions and with my LeBatard Show/League Of Lobos fantasy team. The latest: Herald picksGood. Our strong season continues. We were a solid 11-4 straight-up last week and a nifty 10-5 against the spread. Nailed another Upset of the Week with Bills over Jags ("Aawwk!") and had three 'dogs-with-points in Dolphins, Giants and Seahawks. Greg's LobosBad. Lobos fall to 4-8 with a 117.1-94.8 loss to Stugotz, despite a heroic 29.4 from Deshaun Watson Monday night. With only one week left in the regular season the 'Bos are out of playoff contention and rightly so. We sucked this season, from the Le'Veon Bell nightmare on down. Only drama left: Who'll win season MVL honors. #WeAreTheLobos!

StateCOTE'S STATE OF THE STATE RANKINGS: Each Tuesday I rank the state's seven FBS-level college football teams. Here's the latest, with one final, post-bowls ranking yet to come: 1. UCF (11-0); 2. Florida (9-3); 3. Miami (7-5); 4. Florida State (5-7); 5. South Florida (7-5); 6. FIU (8-4); 7. FAU (5-7).

Select other columns: Dolfans, Your Team Is Not Easy To LoveNo More Excuses, Florida PanthersNFL 2018 Team RankingsDolphins? Heat? Nope. UM Football Owns This TownTo The Good-Guy Grinder In The ShadesTime to Flip the Old Narrative On Miami As a Sports TownCan Riley Rescue Heat From Purgatory? When 3 World Cup Legends Were Ours.

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

Twitter @gregcote