Falcons Will Face Patriots in Super Bowl 0x33: The Atlanta Falcons steamrolled the Green Bay Packers 44-21 in the NFC Championship Game and the New England Patriots did likewise to the Pittsburgh Steelers 36-17 in the AFC Championship Game. The teams advance to Super Bowl 0x33 in Houston (LI in Roman, 51 in decimal). Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan threw for 393 yards and four touchdowns. Receiver Julio Jones caught two of those and had 180 receiving yards. New England quarterback Tom Brady threw for 384 yards and three touchdowns. Receiver Chris Hogan caught two for 180 yards. The Patriots open as a 3-point favorite.
Royals Pitcher Yordano Ventura Dies in Car Crash: Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura died in a car crash Sunday in the Dominican Republic. He was 25. Ventura, who set an MLB rookie record with an 103 mph fastball, pitched his last game in a cap that paid tribute to friends and fellow Major Leaguers Jose Fernandez and Oscar Taveras, who both also died tragically in crashes in recent years.
NFL Playoff Pick 'Em: Conference Championship Edition: We're running out of NFL games again as the conference championships come down to Steelers/Patriots and Packers/Falcons on Sunday. For our pick 'em contest, pick the weekend's playoff winners, the spread and four bonus categories.
SI: ESPN Talkers Mike & Mike Are Breaking Up: The 19-year partnership of sports talk hosts Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic will be ending this year as Greenberg gets his own morning show on ESPN, sources told Sports Illustrated. The Mike & Mike show began in 1998 and has become the cornerstone of ESPN Radio at stations across the country. The leading candidate to either join Golic or succeed them with his own show is ESPN NFL anchor Trey Wingo. Greenberg has become one of ESPN's highest-paid personalities at $6.5 million a year.
The Worst Time to Lose a Scholarship Offer: High school linebacker prospect Ryan Dickens committed to UConn in June 2016 after receiving a scholarship offer from coach Bob Diaco. After Diaco was fired, his successor Randy Edsall called Dickens on New Year's Day to affirm the offer. Sixteen days later, Edsall called Dickens to tell him the scholarship is being offered to someone else. NJ.Com reports, "Seemingly every winter players such as Dickens are on the wrong end of a college's decision, left empty-handed and uncertain in the eleventh hour as National Signing Day bears down." With just two weeks to that day and most scholarships gone, Dickens and his parents have been scrambling. The best offer so far is from FCS school Rhode Island.
NBA Pick 'Em Week 13: No Rivals Edition: There are eight national NBA games this week, beginning Wednesday night with the Bucks visiting the Rockets. The Pace Mannion NBA Pick 'Em has a new leader, as a 21-point week for NoMich lets Goyoucolts climb into first and everybody else gain ground. Howard_T and I score 62 points to share the high score of the week. Make your picks.
Steelers Kick 6 Field Goals, Advance to AFC Championship: The Pittsburgh Steelers kicked six field goals and withstood a late rally, defeating the Kansas City Chiefs 18-16 to reach the AFC Championship game. Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell ran for 170 yards, keeping the Chiefs offense on the sideline for long stretches of the game. The Steelers will face the New England Patriots.
Packers Hold Off Cowboys in Thriller, Advance to NFC Championship: After taking a 21-3 lead in the first half, the Green Bay Packers held off a Dallas Cowboys comeback and won 34-31 on a 51-yard Mason Crosby field goal as time expired in a divisional round playoff game. Green Bay advances to the NFC Championship game where they will play the Atlanta Falcons on the road. Dallas nearly forced overtime after a 52-yard Dan Bailey kick, but Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers completed a 36-yard pass to tight end Jared Cook on third and 20.
Patriots Set Record with 6th Straight AFC Championship Trip: The New England Patriots defeated the Houston Texans 34-16 to advance to the AFC Championship for six consecutive years, breaking an NFL record held by John Madden's Oakland Raiders teams of the 1970s. The Texans exploited some turnovers to make the score 17-13 at the half, but Houston quarterback Brock Osweiler threw three interceptions and New England running back Dion Lewis scored touchdowns on a run, a catch and a 98-yard kickoff return. New England will play the winner of Sunday's divisional round playoff game between Kansas City and Pittsburgh.
Falcons Advance to NFC Championship: The Atlanta Falcons offense was too much for the Seattle Seahawks in a 36-20 victory that sends Atlanta to the NFC championship game. In what could be the final game at the Georgia Dome, a crowd of 71,155 saw Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan complete 26 of 37 passes for 338 yards and three touchdowns. Atlanta will play the winner of Sunday's NFC divisional round playoff game between the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers.
NFL Playoff Pick 'Em: Divisional Round Edition: The NFL playoffs continue with Seahawks/Falcons and Texans/Patriots on Saturday and Steelers/Chiefs and Cowboys/Packers on Sunday. For our pick 'em contest, pick the weekend's playoff winners, the spread and some bonus categories.
NBA Pick 'Em Week 12: Unexcused Absence Edition: Nine national NBA games are on the tube this week, beginning with tonight's doubleheader on ESPN. The battle for first in the Pace Mannion is tightening up, with NoMich now leading by just nine points over Goyoucolts. Any excuse for not making your picks must be signed by a parent.
NFL Pick 'Em Champion Crowned: The SportsFilter NFL Pick 'Em champion for the 2016 season is Ufez Jones with 1,189 points. Tron7 finished second with 1,148 and MeatSaber was third with 1,113. Rumple deserves a mention for winning the week with 146 points after locking every game.
Jaguars Promote Doug Marrone, Make Tom Coughlin a VP: The Jacksonville Jaguars promoted interim coach Doug Marrone to the job, hired former coach Tom Coughlin as executive vice president of football operations and extended general manager Dave Caldwell's contract by two more years. Here's a confidence builder from the local Florida Times-Union: "Who has control over the 90- and 53-man rosters is unclear."
Packers, Steelers, Seahawks, Texans Advance: In an NFL wild card weekend with nothing resembling a close game, the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks advanced in the NFC and the Pittsburgh Steelers and Houston Texans in the AFC. Aaron Rodgers threw four touchdown passes, including a first-half Hail Mary, to lead the Packers over the New York Giants. Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown combined for four touchdowns for the Steelers against the Miami Dolphins. Next week Seattle visits the Atlanta Falcons and Green Bay visits the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC, while Pittsburgh visits the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston visits the New England Patriots.
NFL Playoff Pick 'Em: Wild-Card Edition: SportsFilter is holding a prediction contest for the NFL postseason. Pick each week's playoff winners, the spread and some bonus categories.
NBA Pick 'Em Week 11: Nick Young Dance Party Edition: There are six games to pick this week, beginning with two on Thursday night. In the Pace Mannion NBA Pick 'Em, NoMich keeps first but Goyoucolts gets five points closer in second. Tron7 stays in third. Ufez Jones and HowardT win the week with 18. Make your selections.
San Francisco 49ers Fire Chip Kelly After 1 Season: Following a loss to the Seattle Seahawks that ended their season at 2-14, the San Francisco 49ers have fired Chip Kelly one year after he got the job. GM Trent Baalke has also been fired. Kelly, once the hottest coaching prospect in the NFL because of his collegiate offensive wizardry at Oregon, has now been fired twice in 370 days -- two NFL teams are still paying off his contracts. This is only the second time since 1970 an NFL team has fired two coaches in a row after only one season. The first was San Francisco in 1976 (Monte Clark) and 1977 (Ken Meyer).
Gary Kubiak Stepping Down as Broncos Coach: Gary Kubiak is stepping down as head coach of the Denver Broncos after two seasons, he informed players after Sunday's 24-6 season-ending victory over Oakland. An ESPN report said the decision is health-related, but another source said it's a desire to be done with the grind of coaching. Kubiak, 55, was hospitalized this season after suffering a complex migraine. Three years earlier as Houston Texans coach, he collapsed at halftime of a game from a transient ischemic attack.
NFL Pick 'Em Week 17: One-Legged Quarterback Edition: All games on the final week of the NFL regular season are played on Sunday. With one week left in the SportsFilter NFL Pick 'Em, Ufez Jones has a 54-point lead at 1100, tron7 is in second at 1046 and MeatSaber third at 1031. Howard_T wins the week with 79. Make your picks and hope that Ufez has Internet connectivity problems.
NBA Pick 'Em Week 10: George Karl's Distracting Posse Edition: There are only two national NBA games this week, both on Thursday, with Boston at Cleveland and Dallas at the Los Angeles Lakers. In the Pace Mannion NBA Pick 'Em, NoMich retakes the lead from Goyoucolts by 24 points. HowardT wins the week with 55 points. Make your picks.
Buffalo Bills Fire Rex Ryan After Almost 2 Seasons: Two years ago, Rex Ryan proclaimed that he'd give the Buffalo Bills a league-leading defense and end their playoff drought of 15 years. He also got a sweet truck. Today he was fired two years into a five-year deal after going 15-16. The team also fired his brother Rob Ryan, who coached the defense. The drought is 17 years.
NFL Pick 'Em Week 16: Farewell Gus Bradley Edition: The NFL week begins tonight when the New York Giants visit Philadelphia. There are then 11 games on Saturday, two on Sunday and one on Monday. With just two weeks left in the NFL season, Tron7 and Ufez Jones are tied for first place in the SportsFilter NFL Pick 'Em at 1014. Three other players are within 50 points of the leaders: jagsnumberone at 988, ic23b at 984 and MeatSaber at 970. Ic23b wins the week with 120 as seven locks all hit paydirt. Make your picks and hope they fare better than the last three head coaches who sought their fortune in Jacksonville.
NBA Pick 'Em Week 9: Craig Sager Memorial Edition: There are two NBA games on national TV tonight followed by another five on Christmas Day. In the Pace Mannion NBA Pick 'Em, Goyoucolts takes the lead from NoMich, winning the week with 68 points. Make your picks and wear the loudest clothes you own.
Jacksonville Jaguars Fire Gus Bradley: The Jacksonville Jaguars have fired Gus Bradley, the coach with the worst winning percentage in NFL history who was not also his team's owner (50 games minimum). Go to Pro Football Reference and sort on W-L%. Scroll to the bottom, and right above 10-46-2 Bert Bell is 14-48 Bradley. An extremely popular figure in Jacksonville except for the four hours each week his team was on the field, Bradley never won more than five games in a season. Owner Shad Khan and the fan base expected a winning record this woe-begotten year. Instead the mullet-helmeted Jags have dropped nine in a row to fall to 2-12.