Friday, January 04, 2013

Sports Friday: 1/4/13

NFL - Yeah playoffs! I am recording all four games this weekend and aim to watch all four start-to-finish. (Except when I invoke the "blowout rule", usually 21 points or more.)

It's not that hard to find NFL game predictions or analysis on the internet. And let's face it, it's mostly rubbish anyway. So instead, let's talk about what really matters: who I WANT to win.

Cincinnati at Houston - Sat 4:30p, NBC: For the second consecutive year, the Bengals and Texans face off on a Wild Card game, and for the second consecutive year, they get the Saturday afternoon time slot, a.k.a. the "nobody cares about this game" time slot. (As a Jaguars fan, I know all about that time slot. Yes, the Jaguars have been in the playoffs before, believe it or not.) It's interesting, because Houston is a pretty big city (10th largest media market in the country), and yet, they only get a very small fraction of the national press that the Northeast Corridor gets. That's not just true with the Texans, it's true with the Astros and Rockets, too. Jeremy Lin plays well for the Knicks and it's "Linsanity"; Jeremy Lin plays well for the Rockets, and, well, did you even know that's where he was playing this season? I think it's time Houston gets its due. Personal preference: Houston

Minnesota at Green Bay - Sat 8:00p, NBC: I said I was pulling for the Vikings several weeks ago in part because of their FSU alumnus quarterback. Why stop now? Personal preference: Minnesota

Indianapolis at Baltimore - Sun 1:00p, CBS: Stupid Colts. I still can't get over the fact that it only took them ONE FREAKING YEAR to rebuild and get back to the playoffs. Personal preference: Baltimore

Seattle at Washington - Sun 4:30p, FOX: Really tough one here. Rooting for the Nationals has actually warmed me up to all of Washington's sports teams (except the Capitals). They haven't had a whole lot of success as of late, and their fan bases are nowhere near as annoying as those from New York, Boston, or Philadelphia. So if one of the NFC East teams is going to do well, it may as well be the Redskins. But on the other hand...Russell Wilson! Yeah! I think that settles that. Besides, it's probably better for the Nationals if the Redskins don't win the Super Bowl. Personal preference: Seattle

College football - I figured this is how the Orange Bowl reaction would sound if Florida State won. Northern Illinois didn't belong after all, they say! Has anyone actually given credit to the Seminoles throughout all of this? That said, it's a BCS bowl victory, and that's something ACC teams have a very limited number of. Also, I still maintain that NIU deserved a spot in the game more so than a team like Oklahoma, but I don't really care that much, because it's a dumb system anyway.

So, that leaves the National BCS Championship game, which will kick off way too late for my taste. I've gone to bed at the end of the first quarter for each of the other BCS bowls, so that's probably what will happen Monday, too. Notre Dame v. Alabama - Mon 8:30p (if we're lucky), ESPN

College basketball - Conference play begins in earnest this weekend, which means it's time to really start watching. I already knew Florida State took a little step back this year, but yikes! Maybe I underestimated how big a step that was. Based on how they've played in non-conference, this is nowhere near an NCAA tournament team. But neither is Clemson, probably, so...perhaps they can still start 1-0 in the ACC? Florida State at Clemson - Sat 4:00p, Fox Sports South

I normally try to watch Penn State's games when they're on, even when they stink (like this year). But given how competitive the Big Ten stands to be this year, I can't justify watching a Penn State game over some of the potentially more interesting games at the top of the Big Ten. If this makes me any less of a Penn State fan, then...well, I watched the Penn State v. New Hampshire game, which I'm guessing you didn't. So there. Ohio State at Illinois - Sat 2:15p, BTN

Other stuff - Regarding a couple of the sports that I've been watching in lieu of the NHL...

I think my Charlotte Bobcats infatuation has worn off. Yes, they just ended their 18-game losing streak on Monday, and I think that's actually why it's worn off. A team on a long losing streak makes for great television. Is this the night they break the string? How are they going to blow it this time? But now that the streak is over, that's gone, so...why watch now? Especially now that college basketball conference play has started? Cleveland at Charlotte - Fri 7:00p, SportSouth

My soccer infatuation hasn't worn off yet, though. The French Ligue 1 is currently on a three-week winter break, but the English Premier League takes no such break, so I've watched a couple of English games recently. I've had trouble getting into English soccer before, but now that I can compare French soccer and English soccer side-by-side, it's obvious: English soccer is better. More fans, more excitement, better announcers, a higher quality of play, more parity (maybe), and perhaps most importantly, more goals. (One French team, Saint-Etienne, hasn't scored a single goal in their last SIX GAMES. And these guys are in 10th place!) But despite all the evidence that I should really be watching the Premier League instead, I still have a soft spot for the French, and for my newly adopted team, Olympique de Marseille. So there.

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