The COVID-19 numbers are spiking, the kids want to play, Floridians are living la vida loca and pro sports are moving full speed ahead. This weekend was a blast. The vaccine rollout is slower than Cam Newton on a QB PTO but that’s another story.
This upcoming weekend offers two NFL triple headers and more social media fodder for a nation that’s still pretty much quarantined.
NFL Playoffs Are Set:
After migrating through 17 weeks of football and a bizarre offseason ravaged by COVID-19, we’ve now come to the second season. The money matches.
The postseason should be highly entertaining. With the lack of fan involvement, you could also see some real barnburners.
Every playoff team in the AFC won at least 11 games. KC (14), Buffalo (13), Pittsburgh (12), Tennessee (11), Baltimore (11), Cleveland (11) and Indianapolis (11). The very surprising (10) win Dolphins just missed out and their loss to the Bills helped the Colts take that 7th and final spot.
New Playoff Format
The Chiefs get the lone AFC bye under the new format, while the other six teams will matchup on “Super Wildcard Weekend”. The Bills will host the Colts. Buffalo won the AFC East for the first time since Jim Kelly’s run-and-shoot offense was lit in 1995. The Steelers will host the Browns in the bitter AFC North rivals’ third meeting this season.
Cleveland had been stuck in an 18-year run of football futility before Baker Mayfield, Kevin Stefanski and Black GM Andrew Berry finally got the ship righted. The Steelers have, however, won 17 straight over the Browns at home.
Derrick Henry Eclipses 2,000 Yards
The Titans host the Ravens in a matchup that’s becoming a marquee rivalry under the Harbaugh and Vrabel regimes. Tennessee has won the last two games and controlled the dynamic Lamar Jackson in both. Baltimore has struggled to contain Derrick Henry and he just became the eighth tailback in league history to rush for 2000 yards in a season. Titans are the only franchise to have two tailbacks rush for 2K in a season. Chris Johnson is the other.
Aaron Rodgers MVP?
In the NFC, league-leading MVP candidate Aaron Rodgers capped off another stellar season while leading the “Go Pack Go” to another (13-3) season, NFC North, and home field advantage.
The Packers have enjoyed 29 years of elite quarterback play when you factor in (Brett Favre) before him. Rodgers tossed an NFL- leading 48 touchdowns this season.
Led by the ageless Drew Brees, New Orleans will host a tough and gritty defensive minded group from Chicago.
Bears quarterback “Mitch They Picked Me Before Mahomes And Watson Trubisky” has been showing some promise lately with his improved play.
The Seahawks and Rams will take their budding NFC West rivalry to the gridiron for a third this season (1-1). Russell Wilson vs Aaron Donald would be worth the price of admission if fans were allowed.
How bout DK Metcalf vs Jalen Ramsey?
NFC East champion Washington and their young and Uber talented defense led by soon to be named DROY Chase Young will host Tom “Father Time Hasn’t Caught Me Just Yet” Brady and the offensive juggernaut Buccaneers. In 20 seasons Brady has been to the postseason 18 times (90%).
The defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs and Packers will have time to rest. History is on their side as since 2013 every Super Bowl representative from both conferences received a bye during the playoffs. Sometimes, however, the lay-off could hurt team chemistry and cause rust. We will see how this plays out with these two in the divisional round.
College Football Playoffs: Title Game Is Set:
On New Year’s Day in the Rose Bowl No. 1 Alabama took care of an overmatched Notre Dame team 31-14 to punch a ticket to its 5th CFP title game in the seven-year history of the system which began in 2014.
Nick Saban has now led Alabama to 8 title games in just 14 seasons in Tuscaloosa. Actually, Sunday was the anniversary of his taking the job at BAMA. On Tuesday, most expect either wide receiver DeVonta Smith or quarterback Mac Jones to win the Heisman Trophy in the first-ever virtual presentation in award history.
The Crimson Tide will face the Ohio State Buckeyes in the title game on January 11th, after Justin Fields and crew dismantled the Clemson Tigers (49-28) behind 6 touchdown passes from a battered and bruised Fields.
You could tell this one was personal for Ryan Day’s squad after last year’s 29-23 loss in the CFP playoffs to Clemson. When Dabo Swinney ranked the Buckeyes 11th because they only played 6 games, that was all the bulletin board material Ohio State needed to make Dabo eat his words with extra hot sauce.
Alabama isn’t giving him that much respect either.
Ryan Day said he wasn’t aware of Nick Saban ranking Ohio State No. 5 in his coaches poll. Day said what matters is how each team plays in the game.
— Lantern Sports (@LanternSports) January 4, 2021
Will Urban Meyer be the next head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars? Rumors say he’s putting together a staff as he deliberates.
Texas fires Tom Herman and has to pay out between $40-50M to his staff. They then hire Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian as their next head coach. Crazy they did this after laying off 35-50 employees during the height of the pandemic while claiming budget issues.
— The Shadow League (@ShadowLeague) January 3, 2021
NBA Round Up
Two days after having his pedigree questioned by social media rabble-rousers as the Warriors struggled, Stephen Curry scores a career high 62 points in a 137-122 win over the Blazers.
He went (18-31) from the floor and (8-16) from three. He and the late great Kobe Bryant are the oldest players to ever score 60 points in a game. Mamba was 37 and Chef is 32.
An early-season tilt between the Clippers (5-2) and Suns (5-2) gets heated as the Clippers win 112-107 ion the road behind 39 points from Paul George, who seems to be engaged early this season.
Things between he and Devin Booker continue to be testy but that’s great for the game. Chris Paul has made the Suns better overnight and it’s a credit to his ability to lead.
Struggles in Brooklyn?
Back-to-back home losses to the Hawks and Wizards for Kawhi & KD. It’s still early and they’ll figure it out but the loss of Spencer Dinwiddie with his partially torn ACL is ginormous for a team looking to build all-around chemistry.
LaMelo Ball’s been balling by the way and had his coming out party after riding the bench for the first few games.
Up and coming 135-pound star Ryan Garcia gets off the canvas to knockout Luke Campbell. Could this be setting the stage for a fight with Devan Haney soon?
READ MORE: Ryan Garcia’s Win Earned Respeck On His Name
Options are aplenty in this weight class and I look forward to some great fights over the next couple of years between all this young and hungry talent.