We conclude a 2017 that brought us several breaths of fresh air; in the form of rookies, Big Baller Brand, and for a short stint fidget spinners. Last year’s champions tighten their grip on bragging rights that this year’s contenders threaten to relinquish. For a few sports franchises and college athletics, success has been measured in shiny trophies and player progress. But for most other clubs & institutions, success remains elusive as that co-worker’s name you can’t remember. It was a tumultuous year for America and its citizens, sports fanatics and otherwise. The NFL endured barrages of criticism of its employees and protests by its labor force—not to mention fans continued displeasure with inconsistent officiating and bogus rules. The NBA saw it’s pairing of super powers amount to a championship and the subsequent break up of an opposing super power. None more powerful than the hurricane season that ravished the United States. With many families displaced by the rising tide, the American people were called to action. Donating and volunteering their services to assist those in need. Why are sports so intrinsic to our society? Because they are played/coached/managed by people for the people. Sport unifies us exponentially. Prime example, the Houston Astros bringing the MLB title to the city after being devastated by Hurricane Harvey. The love we harbor for all that represents our city is no doubt irrational. We cheer in sub-zero temperatures, even when our team goes 0-16. People will ask, why do we care so much? Simply because sports matter!
The sports calendar kicks off with playoff football, both on the pro and collegiate level. The College Football Playoff (CFP) is headlined by Clemson University, who is ranked number one overall looking to become the seventh team to repeat as national champs (Minnesota, Army. Norte Dame, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Alabama). Oklahoma University is led by the Heisman trophy winner Baker Mayfield. Can the polarizing QB go out on top his senior year? The surprise of the bunch is the rapid ascension of The University of Georgia. Kirby Smart, a coaching disciple of Nick Saban, has restored the luster to the institution and brings a legit title contender to the dance. Alabama surprisingly is ranked behind all the previously named teams, but may have the best odds of winning the whole thing. The magic number is SIX, for the number of national titles Saban hopes to have by the end of this season. He would tie the late coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. I believe Baker Mayfield and Oklahoma meet Bama in the championship game, but are unable to withstand the tide. Oklahoma 17 Alabama 24.
The No. Fun. League Playoffs host three teams from the NFC South division, Tom Terrific, The Killer Bee’s, Sack-sonville, and the reincarnation of the purple people eaters. This year’s host site for Super Bowl LII is U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. We will start this year’s picks with a simple rule of thumb; if your city hosts the Super Bowl, you do not play in it. In the games fifty-two year history it has only happened three times (Those teams are 2-1). Last time it happened was fifteen years ago when the Oakland Raiders faced the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in San Diego after Oakland traded it’s coach to Tampa earlier in the season. So that means the Minnesota Vikings will not make it to the big game this year. Despite having the best overall defense in the league. I have them being eliminated by the Los Angeles Rams in the divisional round. The Philadelphia Eagles chances of reaching the Super Bowl went down when Wentzylvania tore his ACL. They get bounced by a surging New Orleans Saints team equipped with their full arsenal of weapons. The stars are aligning for us to get New England versus Pittsburgh part two. I believe we get it in the AFC championship game with the same result as the last matchup. With the Patriots advancing to the Super Bowl to face the league’s most potent offense the L.A. Rams. I expect a furious onslaught between two teams capable of putting up 30+ each. In a Super Bowl rematch the Rams get revenge; L.A. 31, New England 30.
Sources: NFL.com , Sports.reference.com Photo Credit: Static.nfl.com