January 31, 2013

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Super Bowl XLVII Predictions

By: Matt Bowen

Super Bowl XLVII is now just days away, which leaves fans to ponder how many pounds of nachos they’ll serve up to their friends and what exactly will transpire in the big game in the Big Easy.

Making predictions is half the fun when it comes to the Super Bowl. NFL fans know that most of the iconic Super Bowl moments have come unexpectedly, and there will no doubt be a few of those this year.

Let’s get to it:

Jacoby Jones Will Take the Opening Kickoff Back for a Touchdown

The Baltimore Ravens acquired Jacoby Jones in the offseason primarily to be an instant threat in the return game. Jones hasn’t disappointed this season as he returned two kicks and a punt for touchdowns.

He’s also a viable weapon as a No. 3 receiver behind Anquan Boldin and Terrey Smith. Just ask the Denver Broncos if Jones is a difference maker. They seemingly forgot about him in their Divisional Round playoff matchup as he marched into the end zone after a bomb from quarterback Joe Flacco that sent the game to overtime.

Here’s the kicker—Jones is a native of New Orleans, and he’ll be more than ready to steal the show. With his blood flowing early, he’ll start the game off with a bang.

Alex Smith Will Make an Appearance

The San Francisco 49ers made a bold move this season when they benched then starting quarterback Alex Smith for second-year man Colin Kaepernick.

Smith, a former No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft was finally beginning to look like a No. 1 pick. He was coming off arguably the best game of his career, going 18-for-19 for 232 yards and three touchdowns against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 8.

Just when it was looking like Smith had solidified himself, a concussion knocked him out of Week 10 against the St. Louis Rams and inevitably changed the course of his career.

In came Kaepernick, who undoubtedly optimized the Niners offense and propelled them to the Super Bowl.

So, this is the end of Smith, right?

Wrong!

He’ll make an appearance in the Super Bowl and even throw an 18-yard touchdown to tight end Vernon Davis.

Head coach Jim Harbaugh knows he has to pack a bag full of tricks if he’s to beat a veteran Ravens defense. Smith will be one of those tricks, and he’ll make the most of it. On the first possession of the second half, Smith will make his mark.
Justin Tucker Will Kick the Longest Field Goal in Super Bowl History

The Baltimore Ravens made some noise this preseason when they tapped rookie Justin Tucker from the University of Texas to be their place kicker this season.

Tucker proved he’s the man for the job, going 30-for-33 on the season and even notching four field goals longer than 50 yards.

The Super Bowl record for longest field goal is a 54-yarder from Steve Christie of the Buffalo Bills against the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl XXVIII.

Tucker will top that by booting a 56-yard field goal with 3:13 left in the third quarter. He’ll show the world just why the Ravens made a great choice when they chose him.

Randy Moss Will Walk the Walk

In case you haven’t heard, Randy Moss has named himself the “Greatest of All Time” during media day at the Super Bowl this season.

Considering he’s a member of the San Francisco 49ers, that’s a bold statement.

Although his career numbers don’t compare to Hall of Fame 49er Jerry Rice’s, Moss will make a big impact in the Super Bowl. Love him or hate him, he’s really good.

It’s long been known that Moss shows up when he wants to, and, considering it’s the Super Bowl, he’ll be open for business.

The Ravens will have their hands full trying to keep track of receiver Michael Crabtree and tight end Vernon Davis. Moss will slip by the secondary for an early second quarter touchdown. Don’t be surprised when he is booed after reaching the end zone.

In the end, he’ll have four catches for 84 yards and a touchdown.

Joe Flacco Will Stamp Himself as Elite

Why there’s still a debate to whether Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is elite or not beats me.  All the guy does is win.  Sure, it may not always be pretty, but a win is a win.

Flacco will be a free agent in the offseason, but don’t expect him to leave Baltimore—he’s there to stay.  Taking Super Bowl MVP honors will certainly boost his pocketbook during bargaining.

He may not be the flashiest quarterback, but he’ll have a Super Bowl ring to show off.

In his MVP performance he’ll go 22-for-30 with 301 passing yards and two touchdowns, including a game-winning drive that will end in a Ray Rice 12-yard screen pass touchdown.

Final Score: Ravens 24, 49ers 20

January 30, 2013

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2013 Off To A Wild Start

By: Joe Williams

Is it just me or has this been one of the craziest months is sports, both on and off the field? At the top of the list of course is the story about Manti Te’o’s girlfriend and the hoax behind it. Every day there is a new unbelievable twist to this story. I’m not even going to try to comment. But it’s certainly not the only wacky thing we’ve seen recently…

More drama in New York

New York Jets coach Rex Ryan was spotted in the Bahamas with a tattoo on his right arm of his wife’s likeness wearing only a Mark Sanchez jersey. Does this explain why Ryan stuck with Sanchez as his quarterback for so long instead of putting in Tim Tebow?

The Jets were a major story throughout 2012. Now, it has continued into 2013.

Alabama wins BCS Title

The Crimson Tide winning another title is one of the few things that doesn’t seem out of the ordinary in 2013. But it’s not very often when the most talked about play of a title game comes with a team up by 35 points. It’s even more unusual for that play to be a shoving match between the game-winning quarterback and center (A.J. McCarron and Barrett Jones). One more oddity about this game….the biggest star to emerge was not even on the field. McCarron’s girlfriend, Katherine Webb has become the talk of the game after some comments we made by commentator Brent Musberger. She will now be in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue and will be covering the Super Bowl for Inside Edition.

Carmelo Anthony tries to fight Kevin Garnett

An on the court exchange of trash talk went too far when Kevin Garnett allegedly told Carmelo Anthony that his wife tastes like Honey Nut Cheerios. Anthony then tried to confront KG after the game as the teams were leaving the arena.

Tiger tops tee shot, misses cut

It was not a good start to 2013 for Tiger Woods. In his first tournament in Abu Dhabi, he not only topped a tee shot with his driver, but he was also penalized two shots for taking an illegal drop and ended up missing the cut by one shot. (He has since redeemed himself by easily winning the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.)

Miracle in Atlanta

After blowing a 20-0 halftime lead, the Falcons moved down the field in just two plays to kick the game-winning field goal in their divisional playoff game against Seattle.

Stunning finish in Denver

The Broncos’ defense committed a cardinal sin by letting Jacoby Jones get behind everybody and Joe Flacco found him for a 70-yard game-tying touchdown with just 31 seconds left. The Ravens would eventually win the game 38-35 in the second overtime period.

John Fox confuses Peyton Manning for Tim Tebow

Denver had the ball on its own 20 with 36 seconds on the clock and three timeouts to use before halftime. Fox calls for a handoff to the fullback and a run to the locker room. Then, leading 35-28 with 2:23 left in the game and one first down away from a win, Fox decides to run the ball three times and punt. And after Baltimore tied the game, the Broncos had the ball on their 20-yard-line with 31 seconds left and two timeouts and Fox goes for the trifecta and calls for a kneel down and overtime. He probably is still in the habit of doing this after all the pathetic offensive possessions Tim Tebow gave him last season, but aren’t situations like these the reason you give $96 million to one of the top quarterbacks of all time?

Patriots lose; wife goes off

Following in the footsteps of Tom Brady’s wife Gisele after the Patriots Super Bowl loss in 2012, Wes Welker’s wife lashed out on Facebook against Ray Lewis after the Ravens AFC title game win over the Patriots. And as if that wasn’t enough, Hulk Hogan’s former wife Linda has got Lewis’ back and come out against Mrs. Welker.

Biggest interviews in sports go to Oprah and Katie Couric

Lance Armstrong finally came clean (maybe) on the Oprah show and admitted that he used PED’s. Couric scored the first interview with Manti Te’o where he explained the situation with his girlfriend to be a hoax.

Really NFL?

49ers running back Frank Gore was fined $10,500 for having his socks too low, which is completely ridiculous, but looks even worse when the NFL later fined Patriots quarterback Tom Brady $10,000 for trying to kick Ed Reed while sliding to the ground. So there is a stiffer penalty for how you wear your socks than there is for something that could injure another player?

Referee scandal?

We are all accustomed to people complaining about officials for favoring one side or the other, but the NFL showing favoritism among the officials is a new one. Apparently, several NFL game officials are questioning the league’s grading system and the selection of Jerome Boger as referee for Super Bowl XLVII.

Super sabotage?

Former Raiders wide receiver Tim Brown claimed that former Raiders coach Bill Callahan sabotaged the Raiders in their Super Bowl loss to the Buccaneers. Brown said the coach changed the game plan in order to hurt Oakland’s chances of winning…a claim that was backed up by another former Raider, Jerry Rice. Callahan has denied the allegations.

Also:

Oregon scored a one-point safety in the Fiesta Bowl.

Houston Rockets center Greg Smith was called for a three-second violation after stopping in the lane to tie his shoe.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock was hurt doing the Ray Lewis dance after losing a bet to Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

New Orleans announces name change from Hornets to Pelicans.

Northern Illinois sets NCAA shot-clock era record with four points in a first half.

January 29, 2013

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The Week in Sports

By: Anson Whaley

Rajon Rondo out for season – The Boston Celtics received some bad news fresh off of a close win over the Miami Heat as starting point guard Rajon Rondo will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL injury. The news couldn’t come at a worse time for the Celtics who are struggling just to make the playoffs, currently sitting in eighth place in the Eastern Conference. Even a heavy veteran presence in Boston with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce might not be enough to carry the Celtics to another postseason appearance. Avery Bradley got the start in place of Rondo against the Heat, but the bigger impact is that the team will now rely more heavily on backup guards Jason Terry and Leandro Barbosa to play some extra minutes.

Will Alex Rodriguez miss the entire 2013 MLB season?

Could Alex Rodriguez miss entire 2013 season? New York Yankees’ general manager Brian Cashman said that there’s a chance that star third baseman Alex Rodriguez could miss the entire 2013 season after his hip surgery. While he doesn’t necessarily believe it’s likely, he did state that it was possible. If that’s the case, it would obviously be a tremendous blow to the team. Rodriguez has been in a noticeable decline over the past few seasons and is nowhere near the player he was in his prime. But he’s still a quality player as evidenced by his 18 home runs and 57 runs batted in last year in 122 games, and could help the team if he were on the field.

Pro Bowl comes and goes in Pro Bowl like fashion – This weekend, the NFL held their annual Pro Bowl game. It was a typical Pro Bowl that featured little defense and plenty of offensive fireworks as the NFC won 62-35 over the AFC. But guess what? That’s fine by me. The game is a far cry from regular season football (or even preseason football, for that matter), but it’s still an All-Star game. And after all, every all-star game is played different. The final score of hockey’s all-star game generally looks more like a low-scoring football affair. The basketball all-star game comes off as a triple overtime thriller. And even baseball, which has something on the line in deciding the home field advantage for the World Series, isn’t played to specifications. After all, if a pitcher is cruising through three innings, would a manager really take him out to get other players in the game? Football’s all-star game isn’t truly indicative of what the sport should be, but look around – it’s not alone. And oh yeah, it’s in Hawaii – who wants to complain about that?

Fan makes half-court shot; Lebron turns into a linebacker – In case you missed it, a fan at a Miami Heat game sunk a half-court shot to win $75,000 from Lebron James’ foundation. James was so surprised that he promptly tackled said fan right there on the court, giving him a gigantic bear hug in the process. Had to be an exciting moment, but let’s be real here – if a 6’8”, 250-pound guy is lunging at me trying to knock me down, I’m probably getting out of the way.

Australian Open Tennis concludes – Novak Djokovic and Victoria Azarenka won the men’s and women’s Australian Open tennis championships last week, but the bigger story may have been Sloane Stephens’ victory over highly favored Serena Williams earlier in the tournament. In the immediate aftermath, there were a plethora of wild statements about the torch being passed. What was conveniently left out in many of those discussions is that Williams was practically playing on one leg and with a bad back. While it’s true that she recovered enough to finish the match, she clearly wasn’t anywhere close to 100%. Even more to the point is that it was only a single match. I’m as excited as anybody for the future of Stephens, but the amount of enthusiasm about the win should be tempered. Stephens will be good – real good. I’m just not ready to call her the face of American tennis just yet (even if she did triple her Twitter followers since the win).

January 25, 2013

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2013 Farmers Insurance Open: 4 Who Can Win

By: Tyler Vespa

With the PGA Tour season now in full swing, we’ve seen 3 pretty different winners. Dustin Johnson won the rain shortened Hyundai Tournament of Champions to win his 7th career PGA Tour event. University of Georgia rookie Russell Henley won the Sony Open by 3 strokes over Tim Clark to end the Hawaii Swing. At age 41, Brian Gay won the opening event of the West Coast Swing, the Humana Challenge in a playoff over Charles Howell III and David Lingmerth for his 4th career win. So a rookie, an over 40 and a 5 year, 28 year old PGA Tour veteran all have a victory early in 2013.

Villegas currently sits at +4 in the Farmers Insurance Open.

This is where that wild opening to the season ends. I’m going back to the book. Tiger Woods makes his 2013 PGA Tour debut at Torrey Pines right near his hometown of Cypress. San Diego’s son Phil Mickelson comes to his home track fresh off of a T37 at the Humana, where save for his opening round of even par 72, he may have won the event.

With that I give you 4 guys who can this week along the California coast:

  1. Tiger Woods- 6 wins in this event. 5 other top 10’s at this event.
  2. Phil Mickelson- 2 wins. 5 other top 10’s at this event.
  3. Brandt Snedeker- Defending champion. 3 other top 10’s at this event.
  4. Nick Watney- 1 win in 2009, 3 other top 10’s at this event.

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One of these 4 is going to win. Personally, I’d love to see Tiger and Phil go head-to-head right in their own backyard. Tiger beats Phil with a birdie on the par 5, 18th hole. Rivalry renewed. PGA Tour victory number 75 for Tiger.

January 24, 2013

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7 Best WWE Royal Rumble Matches

By: Joe Williams

This Sunday CM Punk will defend the WWE Championship against The Rock and Alberto Del Rio defends the World Heavyweight Championship against the Big Show but the most talked about match will be the 30-man, over-the-top-rope, Royal Rumble. Here are my top 7 all-time Royal Rumble matches.

CM Punk will face The Rock at the Royal Rumble.

1992

This year was unique because the WWE Championship was up for grabs. And when the title is on the line, one man has come up big more than anybody else…”Nature Boy” Ric Flair was third to enter the ring and last to leave it, winning in his first appearance in the Rumble. And thanks to some hilarious commentary from Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, this was one of the most entertaining matches of all time.

1997

One of the greatest rivalry’s in WWE history was the story in 1997. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin was the fifth entrant and tore through the competition until Bret “Hitman” Hart came out at No. 21. Austin was eventually tossed out by Hart, but the referees missed it and “Stone Cold” made it back in the ring and returned the favor on the “Hitman” to win the match. It could have been the best final four of all time with Diesel and the Undertaker joining Hart and Austin.

1995

The first two men in the ring were also the last two as the “Heart Break Kid” Shawn Michaels and the British Bulldog battled through 28 other superstars for a chance to go to Wrestlemania. In one of the greatest Rumble finishes, the Bulldog threw HBK out of the ring and thought he had won, but Michaels dangled on the ropes with just one foot hitting the floor before climbing back in the ring and eliminating an unsuspecting Bulldog.

2011

This edition of the Royal Rumble was super-sized with 40 participants, making it the longest one ever at 70 minutes. It also featured one of the most surprising results with newcomer Alberto Del Rio eliminating Santino Marella for the win.

2001

The Big Red Monster, Kane, wreaked havoc in the ring and eliminated a record 11 superstars. He needed to get 12 though, and finished as the runner-up to “Stone Cold Steve Austin.” The Rattlesnake eliminated Kane and claimed the record for most Royal Rumble victories with three.

1998

The third time was not the charm for Mick Foley. After entering first as Cactus Jack and then again sixteenth as Mankind, Foley returned in the form of Dude Love at No. 28. He was eliminated for the third time in the match and when it was down to two, two of the greatest superstars of all time were left in the ring. In the end, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin outlasted The Rock to win his second straight Royal Rumble.

1988

This was the first-ever Royal Rumble match and could have been the last if things did not go well. Bret “Hit Man” Hart and Tito Santana were the first-ever Rumble entrants in a 20-man match that was dominated by One Man Gang and ultimately won by “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan. It may not have been the best Royal Rumble, but it was probably the most important even though there was no prize for the winner.