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"The Stack" 1-20-17

Matt Ryan and Julio Jones have been a lethal combination all season long. Can Julio stay healthy and can Ryan outduel Aaron Rodgers in what should be a shootout in the final game at the Georgia Dome? Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Ryan and Julio Jones have been a lethal combination all season long. Can Julio stay healthy and can Ryan outduel Aaron Rodgers in what should be a shootout in the final game at the Georgia Dome?
Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Can Tom Brady, LaGarrette Blount and the Patriots play better against the potent Steelers and make it back to yet another Super Bowl?
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

It’s Championship week in the NFL(not Super Bowl championship week, but the championship week to get you to the Super Bowl) and The Stack is here on this Football Friday with a preview of both championship games so let’s get right to it and check out “the stack” for today, Friday, January 20th:

 

NFC Championship game

 

Green Bay Packers @ Atlanta Falcons 3:05 PM ET FOX

 

Last week we said it was possibly the last ever game at the Georgia Dome.  Well this week we can say definitively that it is the last game ever at the Georgia Dome before the Falcons move into the brand new (and expensive) Mercedes Benz Stadium.  It is going to be a shootout between two of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.  Matt Ryan is the favorite to win MVP, but no one is playing better football in the NFL right now, maybe ever, than Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is right now.  He is playing unbelievable right now.  The Falcons defense is better than the Cowboys, but not by that much.  The Packers though may be without wide receivers Jordy Nelson and Devante Adams.  Nelson has practiced the past couple of days, but not in pads or anything.  Even if he does play, there is no way he is going to be at full strength.   Adams isn’t going to be at full strength.  He and Geronimo Allison haven’t practiced yet this week.  The Falcons offense is better than the Packers offense.  They have a more balanced attack.   They are explosive.  Yet no one is playing better than Rodgers (have I said that at all?).  I just feel like he is going to make a play or two late and the Falcons are going to end their final home game at the Georgia Dome with a loss.  Remember they did lose to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game a few years ago in heartbreaking fashion.  I fear it may happen again.  Prove me wrong Atlanta!

 

Prediction: Packers 38 Falcons 34

 

AFC Championship game

 

Pittsburgh Steelers @ New England Patriots 6:40 PM ET CBS

 

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin stirred the pot late Sunday night by calling the Patriots assholes in an attempt to fire up his team.  It’s completely understandable.  He feels like they are at a competitive disadvantage since they had a day-and-a-half more to prepare for the Steelers.  It’s more of an issue that Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown put the whole things on Facebook Live.  What an idiot.  The Patriots won’t be able to stop him and Le’Veon Bell, but they will take out one of them.  The Patriots didn’t play well last week.  They will be extra focused for this week’s game against the explosive Steelers.  They’ll execute their game plan to a “t”.  I picked the Steelers at the beginning of the season to make it to the Super Bowl and I don’t know why I don’t feel nearly as confident in them, but something tells me that Tom Brady and the Patriots put together their best effort and hold off the Steelers.  Prove me wrong Pittsburgh.

 

Prediction: Patriots 24 Steelers 20

 

Picks have been 8-0 so far in the playoffs.  I’m feeling a possible 0-2 weekend.  We’ll see.  Enjoy the championship games everyone.

 

Coming up Monday: AFC & NFC Championship game reaction and maybe some Russell Westbrook and Adrian Peterson thoughts, but probably not.


"The Stack" 1-19-17

The Stack is back on this Thursday with a very short blog today.  It’s so short, I’m wondering why I’m even doing it, but I am so let’s get right to it and see what is in “the stack” for today, Thursday, January 19th:

 

Bagwell, Raines, Rodriguez headed to Cooperstown

 

Football is our nation’s current pastime, but our old pastime made headlines last night electing three new members into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.  That’s right, baseball.  Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez are the three new members after being voted in yesterday.  Bagwell and Raines were one vote away from one another (381 for Bagwell and 380 for Raines), good for 86.2% and 86% respectively while Pudge received 76% of the vote.  Remember you have to receive at least 75% of the vote to get in.  Those three are all well-deserving candidates.  Bagwell won Rookie of the Year and was an MVP with the Houston Astros from 1991-2005.  He was a four-time all-star and won three Silver Slugger awards.  Raines was a seven-time all-star outfielder for the Montreal Expos in the 1980s.  A lot of people put him behind Rickey Henderson for greatest lead-off hitter of all-time.  And what didn’t Pudge do?  He was a great defensive catcher and was a beast at the plate.  In all he won 13 Gold Gloves and was an all-star player 14 times.  He was the only first-ballot player to get in.

 

Notable names we didn’t see get elected included Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.  They are gaining votes.  It will still be a few years, but one day they’ll get in.  They have to.  The Steroid Era wasn’t just about them.  San Diego Padres closer Trevor Hoffman was also very close to getting in as was Vladimir Guerrero.  Each of them had over 70 percent of the vote so they figure to get in next year.  All I know is that I would like to see guys like Bonds get in.  They weren’t the only ones using during the “Steroid Era.”  They had a lot of God-given talent.  They deserve to get in.

 

Australian Open

 

I didn’t realize this until yesterday, but I had completely forgotten to give my picks for tennis’ first grand slam event of the season, the Australian Open.  As they play down under, I like Novak Djokovic (surprise, surprise) and Serena Williams (surprise, surprise).  If Serena falls, this may very well be the end of her.  I’m giving her one final chance.

 

College basketball headlines

 

Notre Dame and Florida State played in a very entertaining and highly contested game Wednesday night.  Florida State trailed 64-62 before going on an 11-1 run and holding on to beat Notre Dame 83-80.  People need to take this Florida State team seriously.  They are the real deal.  Notre Dame is good too, but Florida State I think is just a little better.

 

In Morgantown, West Virginia, a week and change after taking down the number one team in the land (Baylor in case you didn’t remember), #7 West Virginia lost at home to Oklahoma 89-87 in overtime.  This Oklahoma team is not that good this year, but that will happen when you lose a player like Buddy Hield.  This is a good win for them.  It’s a loss that shouldn’t happen, especially on their home floor for West Virginia.

 

Indiana won at the buzzer, there were a lot of close games in the A-10 last night, some teams in the tournament right now lost while some bubble teams won and put themselves in.  ESPN’s Joe Lunardi should have another bracketology unveiled later today or possibly tomorrow.  It should be interesting.  Love college basketball.

 

Coming up Friday: NFL Championship game previews


"The Stack" 1-18-17

Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul is going to be out 6-8 weeks after he undergoes surgery today to repair a torn ligament in his thumb. The injury was suffered Monday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul is going to be out 6-8 weeks after he undergoes surgery today to repair a torn ligament in his thumb. The injury was suffered Monday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Stack is back on this Wednesday with a few basketball headlines to talk about.  Wait, did I type that right?  Did you read that right?  Yes, basketball.  Both professional and college so let’s get right to our short blog post today and find out what is in “the stack” for today, Wednesday, January 18th:

 

Roy Williams reaches win 800

 

We start with the news from Monday. UNC head coach Roy Williams won his 800th career game with an 85-68 win over Syracuse.  Williams has always been a class act and you could tell in the postgame celebration just how much it mean to him and also how uncomfortable he was with the attention on him.  He had a great run at Kansas before returning to his home state of North Carolina to coach the Tar Heels.  Great coach.  Even better person.  Congrats coach Williams.

 

Warriors wallop Cavaliers

 

Also on MLK Jr. Day, the Golden State Warriors laid an absolute beatdown on the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second and last matchup of the season (at least until the NBA Finals) between the two teams.  The Warriors won 126-91 in a game that wasn’t even close after the first quarter.  Draymond Green was up to no good with a  flagrant foul on LeBron James, but at least there were no kicks to the ding-ding.  The Warriors offense was unreal in the first half including the final play where they sprinted after a loose ball and got it to Steph Curry who drained the three-pointer.  Their passing was crisp.  Everything they shot it seemed like was falling.  This was a bad loss for the Cavaliers who had made it appear were coming into Monday’s game ready to go for the season sweep knowing what kind of message it could send and how much momentum it could give them.  Instead, the two teams sweep and now it really doesn’t mean much and won’t mean much when the NBA Finals roll around.

 

Chris Paul out 6-8 weeks

 

Chris Paul has had troubles staying healthy during his career and yet another injury has plagued him.  Paul sprained his thumb in Monday’s game against Oklahoma City and while x-rays were negative they did an MRI on Tuesday and the MRI revealed a torn ligament in his thumb.  Paul will undergo surgery today to repair that torn ligament and will miss 6-8 weeks.  That is a tough pill to swallow for the Clippers.  They will likely be fine and are not in danger of missing the playoffs, but their season just got more challenging.  Paul is a tremendous guard in the league and this injury leaves him and the Clippers wondering when they can catch a break.  It doesn’t seem like they can.

 

College basketball injury news

 

Creighton has been a tremendous story so far this year.  They are a great team and certainly a threat come March.  Their season has gotten significantly more difficult though now following the injury to the nation’s assist leader.  Guard Maurice Watson Jr. tore his ACL Monday against Xavier.  An MRI confirmed that on Tuesday.  It’s a big loss for Creighton.  We’ll see what they can do from here, but right now it is a big blow to their hopes this season.

 

Louisville guard Quentin Snider is going to miss 2-3 weeks with a hip injury.  He leads the team in assists and is the second highest scorer on the team.  He strained a hip flexor in Saturday’s game against Duke.  Louisville is going to be just fine in terms of them making the tournament.  These next few weeks though could be a little difficult especially with a game at Florida State this Saturday.

 

Scary site in Oxford, Mississippi, Tuesday night when Ole Miss guard Rasheed Brooks collapsed in front of the team bench shortly after halftime and was taken to the hospital.  He has a history of seizures and that may have been what happened here.  Hopefully he is back on the court soon. 

 

49ers narrowing in on Kyle Shanahan

 

One piece of NFL news to attend to and that is that the San Francisco 49ers have honed in on Atlanta Falcons offense coordinator Kyle Shanahan for their head coaching position and are willing to wait as long as it takes according to reports.  They would have to wait a while should the Falcons take down Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers on Sunday in the NFC Championship game which would mean the Falcons would be going to the Super Bowl in Houston.  That’s no small task taking down the Packers, but neither is taking the 49ers job.  They are a mess and still don’t have a new GM.  There is a lot of talent that needs to be assembled with this team, but based on the offensive results Shanahan has been able to put up in Atlanta this year, I wouldn’t doubt that he can do it in San Francisco given some time.  What this hire would mean is that the New England Patriots get to keep both of their coordinators, Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia, for another season.  At some point those two are going to get head coaching jobs.  Oh well.  They won’t complain and neither will the Patriots.

 

Coming up later this week: NFC & AFC Championship game previews


Check out this week's "The Sports Block" podcast here.

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