January 21, 2014

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The Week in Sports

By: Anson Whaley

Super Bowl set: The Super Bowl matchup has been decided with the Denver Broncos topping the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks defeating the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. Both teams were the best ones in their conferences all season and home field advantage paid off handsomely for each. The matchup in the NFL’s championship game is an intriguing one. On one hand, you’ve got the record-setting offense of the Broncos. On the other – an incredible defense in the Seattle Seahawks. And when you factor in that the Super Bowl will be played in a cold-weather climate with even a potential for some snow, it could be anybody’s game. You can really make a strong case for either team and that equals an attractive matchup for fans. For now, though, I’ll take the Broncos to win the big game.

Daytona 500

NASCAR is considering expanding their Chase field.

Clayton Kershaw lands monster deal: The Los Angeles Dodgers made a huge splash in the offseason by signing star pitcher Clayton Kershaw to a $215 million, seven-year contract – the largest such deal for a pitcher in Major League Baseball history. Unlike the monster contracts given to players such as Albert Pujols and Robinson Cano, the Kershaw deal actually makes a little more sense. Those players will be significantly older when their contracts end, but at 25 now, Kershaw will only be 30 or 32 when he reaches his first year of free agency. I’ll never be convinced that giving a pitcher that kind of money is a great thing to do since he can only impact the team every five days. But if a team is going to do it, it’s wise to make the move when the player is still young as the Dodgers did. There’s a good chance that by the end of the contract, Kershaw is still among the league’s best pitchers if he remains healthy.

OMAHA!: Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning likes the word Omaha for some reason. It even landed a charity $24,000 this past weekend.

Serena Williams bounced in Australian Open: Top-seeded Serena Williams got her 2014 off to a dubious start by falling to Ana Ivanovic in the fourth round of the Australian Tennis Open, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3. Williams had never even dropped a set to Ivanovic before, let alone lost an entire match to her. The loss opens up the door for other players to claim the title – one that Williams had won five times before. Second-seeded Victoria Azarenka now becomes the clear favorite as she is still alive in the event and has won the last two Aussie Open titles.

Kevin Durant is good at basketball: In case you’ve not been following the NBA, the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant has been on an incredible scoring streak. He put up 54 against the Golden State Warriors last week, and has now scored at least 30 points in seven straight games. The streak has upped Durant’s lead for the scoring title over Carmelo Anthony and he’s now averaging 30.6 points per game on the season.

Dick Vitale likes Billy Joel: College basketball guru Dickie V went to a Billy Joel concert and apparently felt the need to live tweet the entire event. I’m just confused.

NASCAR expansion: NASCAR is reportedly considering changes that could expand its championship to even more drivers. Currently at 12, there’s talk that the sport’s Chase for the Championship could be opened up to include 16 drivers. According to ESPN, there would then be a series of cuts in the 10-race Chase postseason. Expanding the field may water down things a bit, but it also gives more drivers a chance at the ultimate goal of a title, keeping a larger contingent of fans interested for a longer period of time. This may be oversimplifying it a little, but more fans involved equals better TV ratings equals more money.

Metrodome ‘deflated’: The Metrodome in Minneapolis was deflated for the final time this weekend. The historic stadium hosted two World Series for the Minnesota Twins and many other major sporting events including a Super Bowl, two Final Fours, and a Major League Baseball All-Star Game. The Vikings played their final game there this season and will play two seasons on the campus of the Minnesota Golden Gophers before moving into their new stadium in 2016.

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