A pair of NFL Divisional Round games go today - in case you didn't know and we hadn't already beat that home this week - starting with a 4pm kickoff in Pittsburgh where the Steelers will host the Baltimore Ravens. Off the top, I have to say I'm not near as confident about the picks this weekend as I was last, when we dropped a 3-1 record on your man (that's for you, GS!). The one sure prediction for this one? As Clubber Lang said in Rocky III: "prediction? Paaaaiiiin." The Steelers and Ravens have an old school, legit hate on for each other and these games usually leave the winner in trouble for the next round. Ben Roethlesberger is a career 8-2 against the Ravens, while Ravens QB Joe Flacco has quietly won four road playoff games, something very few ever do. The Ravens should be in good shape physically after an easy win in K.C. last Sunday, and we're playing the Ravens at +3 against the odds which favor the home teams this round.
The late game sees Green Bay visiting Atlanta, with the line a ridiculously low -1 for the home Falcons. Sure, the Packers have talent and have finally found healthy players late in the season, but hard to ignore that they need to go to the dying minutes to hold on against Philadelphia on the road last weekend, and Matty Ice (Falcons QB Matt Ryan) is a career 17-2 at home. The Falcons are one of those classic low profile, under the radar teams that have talent in spades at the skill positions, and a vastly underrated defence, and I think the bookmakers are luring you to bet Green Bay by almost making them a fav in this one. Admittedly something of a hunch as well, but liking the Falcons here, though I think Green Bay in the Super Bowl would be a better opponent for whoever wins the AFC (*cough* New England *cough*). Back early tomorrow with the Sunday games.
Mike Florio and Ken Rosenthal at ProFootballTalk give their takes on who wins this weekend. They've got three games they can't agree on. Sounds about right.
Did you read about or see New England Patriots' Wes Welker's presser on Thursday? He worked in no fewer than ten foot references, needling the New York Jets coach Rex Ryan no doubt. All ten are recounted here. The Patriots are finally a team from Boston I don't absolutely despise, and this move is awesome. I'm guessing a Celtics v. Miami Heat playoff matchup would at least temporarily make two.
Heading into the Divisional Round today of the NFL Playoffs, Don Banks at SI.com ranks the potential Super Bowl match-ups.
Bruce Arthur at The National Post - yes, it still exists - looks at Steve Nash in 2011 and concludes he's wasting away in Phoenix right now, still capable but on a going nowhere team.
The 50 Most Awkward Moments in Sports. Also awkward? The spelling of "awkward".
CBC's John Molinaro says that simply making the playoffs is not enough for Toronto FC in 2011. Can't say I disagree, but I'll sure take it for starters.
Wallace Mathews at ESPN.com looks at the New York Yankees signing of Rafael Soriano and says they might now have the best bullpen in all of baseball, and so strong it might wipe out their starting pitching concerns. Mariano Rivera was instrumental in selling the Yankees on the move.
Without Joe Thiesmann, who would know the Patriots have somebody named Danny Woodcock?
Great ad that ESPN Sports Center is running with Alexander Ovechkin. Shame for the NHL that the 30 second ad matches about how much hockey they show on a given night. Thanks to Bukakke for the link.