My predictions for today’s championship games in the NFL

Who’s going to the Super Bowl? Check out my predictions below.

They meet again.

NEW ENGLAND (2) VS DENVER (1)

Are you sick of this narrative? I hope not. This may be the last time we will see Tom Brady and Peyton Manning face each other in a game. The stakes are at the highest for these two once again and we could see another classic game.

Manning is still working his way back into football shape but appears to have gotten it back just in time. He didn’t look all too great last week but the defense and the running game kept the Broncos against the Steelers. But in order for the Broncos to have any change, the receivers cannot afford to have so many dropped passes. It will be on them ad the defense to give the Broncos a chance.

Brady seems to have a better offensive game plan working for him. Much like the Broncos, the receivers have to make the catches. Julian Edelman has to avoid the early yips to get the Patriots offense going. Without an established running attack, could we see a continuation of a committee or the Patriots trying to focus more on passing? I think the passing game will still be big and Rob Gronkowski will be in the middle of it all.

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Houston Astros’ navy alternates are nice

I am so glad that the Astros are keeping their tequila sunrise side panels on these new alternates. They matched their old spring training jersey but I think the wordmark across the chest works better than just the logo on one side.

I also think that because this uniform doesn’t have a headspoon like the other jerseys, it works well. It doesn’t need to be there as it would take away too much from the side panel.

The caps are also a very nice touch. It isn’t a surprise that they went this route. They already have an all orange cap, an all navy cap and a navy cap with an orange brim. Now they’ve filled out the other possible option. It’s simple. It’s nice. It will work well with any uniform combination they wear. Good choice.

NHL’s decision on John Scott’s All-Star Game status was more to save PR face

This was the only way it could be. The NHL faced a disastrous PR nightmare with the John Scott thing. There had already been rumbling that the league asked him to decline the All-Star Game invitation despite the fans voting him in as captain. Then the trade to Montreal really made it seem like the NHL was going to let that trade make Scott ineligible.

Fortunately, the NHL did the right thing. I don’t know if they did it because they felt that it was the right thing to do or they did it because they wanted to avoid any backlash if they left Scott off the roster.

Either way, what we have is the NHL admitting that the game itself doesn’t matter. If the fan vote doesn’t have any value, then what’s the point of this game? It’s already a game that people don’t really watch and the NHL can’t afford to lose the one thing the fans care about.

The NHL did the right thing only because they had no other choice.

My predictions for Sunday’s Divisional round games

Here are my predictions for the second round of the playoffs.

The Panthers shocked a struggling Seattle team during the regular season.

SEATTLE (6) VS CAROLINA (1)

This game could come down to the wire. In their regular season meeting, the Panthers stormed back late and shocked the Seahawks — who at the time was in a mid-season funk. The two teams are playing real well right now and could possibly produce an instant classic.

Russell Wilson has played like a second-half MVP and the passing game, especially with Doug Baldwin has looked fantastic. This is a Seahawks team without Jimmy Graham and with Marshawn Lynch banged up. Yet the offense is playing well enough while the defense remains strong.

That will be a challenge as Cam Newton is such a dangerous quarterback and has made his “lack of quality receivers” into dangerous threats. Devin Funchess and Ted Ginn will be key in helping spread the field as Greg Olsen remains as the focal point of the passing game. Look out for Jonathan Stewart to be the tone-setter.

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My predictions for Saturday’s Divisional round games

Here are my predictions for the second round of the playoffs.

The Chiefs pass rush could frustrate Tom Brady.

KANSAS CITY (5) VS NEW ENGLAND (2)

This might be one of the best games of the year. The New England Patriots get their first crack in the playoffs at defending their title against a Chiefs team that is so well-rounded. Of course, the Chiefs don’t feature an explosive offense but because they are so meticulous in moving the ball down the field without turning the ball over, that makes them so dangerous. Alex Smith is playing well and the passing game with Travis Kelce is looking good. This is what will be the key for the Chiefs.

The defense will have a big task trying to stop Tom Brady and the Patriots offense. The pass rush will be the key in flustering Brady. But if Brady has the time in the pocket, expect to see him dissect the Chiefs secondary. Will Rob Gronkowski go off for a big game? We will see.

Both teams will have to rely on a strong running game to keep the momentum of the game on their side. The team that can establish that early, and with solid field position through special teams, will have the edge in the game.

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The 49ers’ hiring of Chip Kelly will test Jed York’s patience like never before

When the San Francisco 49ers hired Jim Harbaugh, they had it easy. The team immediately saw success and didn’t have to entertain the idea of wondering whether or not the hire was a good one. It was a great hire. The 49ers were contenders for the Super Bowl in the first three seasons of Harbaugh’s tenure. Then in the fourth season, due to some power struggle and undermining, the team faltered to an 8-8 record and Harbaugh was gone.

Rather than thoughtfully seek a new head coach, the 49ers under CEO Jed York took the easy way out and hired Jim Tomsula and revamped the coaching staff to this collection of misfit ideas. It was a poor hire and one year later, the 49ers let Tomsula go. He couldn’t wait to get rid of Harbaugh instead of resolving the issue. He quickly then dismissed Tomsula (with news surfacing before season ended).

So the 49ers knew they had to get it right. They can’t afford to screw up once again. After interviewing the likes of Hue Jackson, Tom Coughlin and Mike Shanahan, the team settled for Chip Kelly.

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The good and bad of the Rams coming back to Los Angeles

The St. Louis Rams are no more. The NFL has approved of the Rams to return to Los Angeles after 21 years away. Los Angeles has been desiring for a team for quite some time and they are getting one. They might even get a second one.

But this is great news for Los Angeles and sad news for St. Louis.

On one hand, one of the biggest markets in all of America finally has its football team back. There should be some great excitement in the city for a new football team.

But this is also a sad day for St. Louis, a city with passionate fans but the business side of the league caught up to them.

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