November 18, 2016

NFL Week 11 picks for Dolphins-Rams, all games; plus NASCAR Sprint Cup final-four poll. Who do you hope wins? Vote now!; also, Patrick Staropoli, The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings, LeBron/Phil/posse poll & more


1) It is FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 18. Marlins' Christian Yelich tied for 19th in NL MVP voting with five points -- two 9th-place votes and one 10th. 2) The Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' first half century is now available, just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 for more info or to order through Amazon. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Trump writes Hillary on Schnellenberger's behalf, on Butch Davis joining FIU, SOPY rankings, your verdict on Brad Kaaya stay-or-go, R.I.P. Gardnar Mulloy & more. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

A few of our select recent columns: Doctor Speed, on Harvard grad/UM medical student/NASCAR driver Patrick Staropoli. Also: Who Will Next Dolphins Hero Be? (on Fins' resourcefulness in four-game win streak. Return Of Wade (from Heat arena last week). Canes In the History Book (UM'ers among NFL career leaders). Miami QBs: No Worries (Tannehill is good enough, Kaaya will return). There's Hope For Us All (Cubs win World Series). A Needed Slap In Face (NFL's declining TV ratings). And Jose Tragedy Couldn't Get Worse, But Then It Did (Fernandez and cocaine).

FripixIT'S UPSET BIRD DAY / WEEK 11: OUR PICKS FOR DOLPHINS-RAMS, REST OF NFL: We endured our worst showing of the season last week in our 26th season of Friday Page NFL predictions in the Miami Herald, going an unmentionable 5-9 overall and 3-11 against the spread. I mean, seriously. Awful. But I'm bouncing back, and the bounce began last night. Won twice by predicting Carolina outright but N'Awlins with the points; click Thursday Gem for that pick. With last night we're now 16 games above .500 against the spread for the season; not bad. For all of our latest selections click on Week 11 Gems as myself and the Upset BIrd ("Aawwwk!") bring you our latest predictions for Dolphins-Rams, our Game of the Week, Upset of the Week and more. We also offer our accompanying NFL notes column today that leads with an analysis of four former NFL stars with local ties who made the semifinals for 2017 Pro Football Hall of Fame induction. Click on South Florida to Canton to read.

StaropoliTHE MOST INTERESTING MAN IN NASCAR: Harvard graduate. University of Miami medical student about to become a doctor of ophthalmology. Young man who became fascinated with medicine as a boy watching doctors save his father's life after a racecar crash. This man, Patrick Staropoli, 27, of Plantation, will make his NASCAR main-stage debut Friday night in the Truck Series race that kicks off Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He'll run his first race in that truck, and on that track, the morning of his race. There are far bigger stories down at Homestead, such as who wins the Sprint Cup title (see poll below), but I'm not sure there is a more interesting story than that of Staropoli. Click on Doctor Speed to read my latest column. The image pictured is by the great Herald photographer, Carl Juste.

LudditeUPDATED: "THE LUDDITE'S ANTI-ANALYTICS HEAT MVP STANDINGS" (10 GAMES): IT'S A ROUT!Points. Rebounds. Assists. That's it. With tongue only partly in cheek, we go old-school, strip it down, combine the Original Big Three statistical categories, and introduce a running, cumulative race for Heat team MVP. We'll bring you updated standings at five-game intervals, and the updated standings show a runaway for a certain big center, the guy who had 25 rebounds last night. With Miami now 2-8 after last night's loss to Atlanta, here's the Luddite's second installment, with 5-game rank in parentheses:

The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings (10 games):

Hassan Whiteside (1)       350

Tyler Johnson (4)             205

Goran Dragic (2)             182

Justise Winslow (3)          181

Dion Waiters (5)              179

Bubble: James Johnson 144. Others: Josh Richardson 86, Luke Babbitt 75, Rodney McGruder 70, Willie Reed 63, Derrick Williams 31, Josh McRoberts 17, Udonis Haslem 5.

NFL PIX 'N FANTASY WEEK 10 RESULTS: PIX IN THE TANK, BUT LOBOS STAY EN FUEGO!: Every week in the blog I update you on how we did, for better or worse, the previous weekend with our NFL predictions and LeBatard Show fantasy team. NFL pix: Ugh. Embarrassing. Got beat up last week with s 5-9 record straight-up and (Dear God) 3-11 against the spread. I take some solace that we're still a pretty solid 14 games above .500 ATS, but we need to bounce back this week in the most desperate way. And will. Fantasy: Greg's Lobos pounded Charlie's team 135-97 in the radio show league and we're now a league-leading 7-3 with (like the Dolphins) four straight wins. Got 28 points from Allen Robinson last week, 27 from Delanie Walker and 21 from Drew "Money" Brees, who craps 20-point games. Keep it honkin', big rig. Keep it rollin', 'Bos!

PhillebronTHE WORD "POSSE" AND RACIAL OVERTONES: We spent a good bit of time chewing this over on the LeBatard Show yesterday. Cavaliers and former Heat star LeBron James took umbrage with Knicks president Phil Jackson, saying he's lost respect for him, because Phil referred to LeBron's "posse" to mean his close groups of friends, confidants and business associates led by Maverick Carter. Said LeBron: "If you go and read the definition of what the word 'posse' is, it's not what I've built over my career. It's not what I stand for, it's not what my family stands for. I believe the only reason he used that word is because he sees young African-Americans trying to make a difference." For what it's worth's informal definition of "posse" is simply, "a group of friends or associates," which is pretty neutral. I'm old enough to associate "posses" with old Westerns on TV. I thought in this case it was a fairly benign term to use, and thought LeBron may have been being a bit overly sensitive. Then again, if he was offended, who am I to say he shouldn't have been? I'm curious how you feel about this. So I invite you to tell me, here:

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

Twitter @gregcote

November 07, 2016

Canesfan Satisfaction Meter: 76.6%; plus UM, Kaaya crush Pitt 51-28 to end 4-game skid; also, The Luddite's Heat MVP Standings after 5 games (world premiere!), other state Collball Week 10 (updated) & more


1) It is SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 5. Miami Herald's new book on Dolphins' first half century is now available, just in time for the holidays! Click on Fins At 50 for more info or to order through Amazon. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NFL Week 9 picks and column, Harvard stands tall, introducing Luddite's Heat MVP race & more. 3) Join us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, InstagramVine, Periscope and Snapchat.

On the Dolphins' changing identity: The Dolphins' sudden devotion to a running game could signal an identity change for a franchise in dire need of one. Click on Image Makeover for my latest column, in Sunday's print editions but online now.

A few of our other most recent columns: Week 9 Gems (our latest NFL predictions) and King Sport Halftime Awards (doling out midseason trophies), our two newest. Also: There's Hope For Us All (on Cubs' World Series win). A Needed Slap In Face (on NFL's declining TV ratings). Jose Tragedy Couldn't Get Worse, But Then It Did. The Whiteside Project. And Heat's System Reboot.

UM-Pitt live blog, postgame thoughts: Find 'em right there, right below the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll.

CANESFAN SATISFACTION METER: G9: 76.6%: Results are certified in the latest Canesfan Satisfaction Meter postgame poll, and they show a 76.6 percent overall approval -- the combination of "very" and "somewhat" satisfied votes -- in the wake of Saturday's 51-28 home victory over Pittsburgh putting CsmUM's season record at 5-4 overall and 2-3 in the ACC. This the eighth season of our blog's CSM postgame polls, which are your invitation after every Hurricanes football game to vote on your overall satisfaction with the team and season in a continuing weekly gauge of how UM 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. Results are certified official the morning after one full day of voting. In this case that was around 9 a.m. today/Monday.

CSM poll analysis: I was surprised the Meter shot all the way up to 76.6 percent, its highest since Week 4. That's a pretty strong thumb's up for a 5-4 record, from a demanding fan base. But two things are in play. 1) Scoring 51 points is dressed to impress. 2) After four straight losses, you're so parched that even rainwater tastes like champagne.

2016 Canesfan Satisfaction Meter

G1: 97.2% following 70-3 victory vs. Florida A&M

G2: 91.9% following 38-10 victory vs. Florida Atlantic

G3: 98.2% following 45-10 victory at Appalachian State

G4: 97.9% following 35-21 victory at Georgia Tech

G5: 58.3% following 20-19 loss vs. Florida State

G6: 24.0% following 20-13 loss vs. North Carolina

G7: 20.3% following 37-16 loss at Virginia Tech

G8: 16.0% following 30-27 loss at Notre Dame

G9: 76.6% following 51-28 victory vs. Pitt

Next poll: Nov. 12 following game at Virginia

G9: HURRICANES 51, PITTSBURGH 28 : DESPERATE UM REVERSES SKID: Postgame thoughts: The four-game losing streak is over. Finally. This was the Miami that reminded you of the 4-0 team that was ranked No. 10 in the nation before the long skid. Mark Rcht finally gets career win No. 150. Brad Kaaya led the way with 356 yards throwing, four TD passes and another on the ground. The offensive line played much better. The defense was mostly solid. Special teams had a couple of big plays. It was an impressive all-roudn effort at home amid intermittent heavy rain as Canes busted a close game open. Lots to like, but it was Kaaya's afternoon ..... 4Q: Miami now 51-28 inside of final two minutes after impressive tackle-bustin' effort-run for 55-yard TD from Walton ... That'll about do it. UM up 44-28 with less than 4 minutes left on 25-yard FG ... Huge. UM special teams down punt at Pitt 1, leads to big 3rd-down stop and Pitt punt ... Then again, Pitt within 41-28 fast on 75-yard TD pass ... UM large and in charge at 41-21 on Kaaya's fourth TD pass of game and second to Njoku, from 5 yards out ... End of this four-game losing streak is close enough to taste ..... 3Q: One more big defensive play by UM: a Trent Harris sack forcing a Pitt FG try that sails wide left ... Another big defensive takeaway for Mami with end-zone interception by Rayshawn Jenkins ... MIA with first breathing room of game at 34-21 after 3-yard Kaaya TD flip to Coley. Score set up by Chad Thomas' fumble recovery at Pitt 8 ..... Halftime thoughts: Herky-jerky, back and forth game finds UM up 27-21 at the break. Kaaya 19-for-28 for 250 yards and two TDs, but not much ground game for UM other than one Walton run of 29 yards. Penalties also hurting Canes again, with seven for 68 yards including one that negated a TD pass. Liking Miami's chances to end the four-game skid, but a nervous lead ..... 2Q: Dropped pass forces Pitt punt, then Pitt special teams blows chance to down it inside 5. This is why average teams are average ... Kaaya sneaks 1-yard for score, Canes back up 27-21. Walton 29-yard run first notable ground gain for Canes to lead scoring drive ... Pitt takes first lead at 21-20 on 23-yard scoring pass ... Canes up 20-14 on Badgley 48-yard kick ... PIT within 17-14 on 12-yard scoring run. First points allowed by Miami defense ..... 1Q: Wow, Kaaya ends 1Q 13 of 15 for 180 yards, two TDs ... MIA up 17-7 late in quarter on 47-yard Badgley FG after penalty negates touchdown ... Defense need not apply today, apparently. UM back up 14-7 on drive completed by Kaaya 1-yard scoring toss to Coley ... PIT 7-7 on 100-yard kickoff return TD. Canes special-teams coach just dug a hole on the sideline and crawled into it in a fetal position ... UM 7-0 on Kaaya-Njoku 12-yard scoring pass to finish impressive opening drive led by Kaaya's 41-yard strike to Richards ..... Original post: You needn't be that old a Canes fan to remember the glory days, back when it took Miami about half a decade to lose four games. Well, the current team has lost four in a row, the first time that's happened in Coral Gables since 2007. And the last time a Canes team lost more than four in Pittuma row? That was a six-pack of L's back in Lou Saban's 1977. That is your context for UM and Mark Richt's desperation to win today vs. visiting Pittsburgh. Four straight losses have taken that 4-0, No. 10-ranked season and knocked it on its ass down to the ignominy of 4-4. Time to get up and finish strong, Canes, if you can. Today's 12:30 p.m. matinee, UM's next-to-last home game, won't be easy against a Pitt squad with a better record at 5-3. Miami opened around a 6-point favorite but kicks off as the betting pick by only 4. Trust in UM has eroded, because within the losing streak we have seen an undisciplined spate of penalties and an offensive line that has been plainly lousy the past couple of games. (Somewhere, Art Kehoe is either weeping or laughing, I'm not sure which). Brad Kaaya needs better protection, and Joe Yearby and Mark Walton need better blocking to get what had been a strong running game going again. History favors Miami. The U has won nine of the past 10 meetings between these schools, though a 29-24 Canes win last year saw Miami hanging on after a 20-0 halftime lead. The likelihood of a shootout looms. Pitt averages 38 points. And Kaaya (it says here) will have a huge afternoon picking apart a sorrowful Panthers pass defense that was strafed for 406 yards by Virginia Tech last week. My pick: Hurricanes, 34-24.

Other state FBS Week 10 games, chronologically:

FAU 42, Rice 25: Could there be a worse matchup on the entire national FBS schedule this week? Rice was a 4-point favorite in a duel of 1-7 teams, in a game only a player's mother could love. And maybe not even then. Go Owls!

Arkansas 31, No. 11 Florida 10: Gators were eyeing the SEC East crown but as mere 4-point road faves couldn't afford a stumble here against a 5-3 Razorbacks squad coming off a bye. I saw it as a challenging road trip for now 6-2 UF vs. an Arkansas team jockeying to improve its bowl position, and was right. Not surprised by the Florida loss, only by the enormity of it.

UCF 37, Tulane 6: Knights rolled at home to 5-4, now within one win of bowl eligibility.

Western Kentucky 49, FIU 21: Panthers fell to 3-7. The good news? With two late scores FIU covered the 31-point spread!

No. 22 Florida State 24, North Carolina State 20: FSU, now 6-3, rallied from 20-10 down late in third quarter to move past last week's crushing 37-34 loss at unbeaten Clemson.

Off this week: South Florida (7-2), next at Memphis, with Bulls still dreaming of poll ranking and spot in American conference title game.

National Collball Week 10 overview: Two games jump out that could have impacted the first College Football Playoff ranking. No. 1 Alabama kept its top spot with a 10-0 victory at No. 13 LSU, holding Tigers to 125 total yards and Leonard Fournette to 35 on 17 carries. And No. 6 Ohio State, trying to work up into that coveted top four, crushed visiting No. 10 Nebraska, 62-3. Nos. 2-3 Clemson and Michigan won easily but No. 4 Texas A&M suffered a stunning loss to Mississippi State.

Luddite HassanwWORLD PREMIERE! "THE LUDDITE'S ANTI-ANALYTICS HEAT MVP STANDINGS" DEBUTS WITH WHITESIDE OUT FRONT: Points. Rebounds. Assists. That's it. With tongue only partly in cheek, we go old-school, strip it down, combine the Original Big Three statistical categories, and introduce a running, cumulative race for Heat team MVP. We'll bring you updated standings at five-game intervals. With Miami now 2-3 after last night's loss in Toronto, here's the debut:

The Luddite's Anti-Analytics Heat MVP Standings (5 games):

1. Hassan Whiteside            176

2. Goran Dragic                  156

3. Justise Winslow              112

4. Tyler Johnson                 107

5. Dion Waiters                    93

Bubble: James Johnson 57. Others: Luke Babbitt 54, Willie Reed 41, Rodney McGruder 27, Udonis Haslem 5, Josh Richardson 1.

THE LIST: HURRICANES FOOTBALL LOSING STREAKS: Miami tries today vs. Pitt to avoid a fifth consecutive loss. The five most recent times a UM football team has lost at least four games in a row within a single season:

Year    #L    Coach / Quarterback (Final record)

2016    4     Mark Richt /Brad Kaaya (Currently 5-4)

2007    4     Randy Shannon / Kyle Wright (5-7)

2006    4     Larry Coker / Kyle Wright (7-6)

1997    4     Butch Davis / Ryan Clement (5-6)

1977    6     Lou Saban / E.J. Baker (3-8)

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

Twitter @gregcote