The One Where We Clean Out Our Lockers

Today's Rundown

COLLEGE FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP

Tigers can’t swim through a Crimson Tide.  It looks like Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney owes Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban dinner.  The Alabama Crimson Tide defeated the Clemson Tigers 45-40 yesterday.  This is Saban’s 5th National Championship victory (his 4th with Alabama), which ties him for the most in history.  This game was neck and neck, with both sides showing impressive offensive skill.  But Saban’s surprising decision to call an onside kick in the 4th quarter really turned the tide in favor of the Crimson.  The move caught Clemson off guard and allowed Alabama an extra crack at the ball.

WORLD FOOTBALL

The world's biggest collection of Golden Balls.  World famous soccer player Lionel Messi, who plays forward for the Barcelona F.C. and the Argentinian national team, won his 5th Ballon D’Or (French for “Golden Ball”) yesterday.  Is it kind of like the Golden Snitch?  Not really. The Ballon D’Or is an award given to the best player of the previous calendar year based on voting by international football media and national team captains and head coaches.  Since 2008 this award has gone to either Messi or Real Madrid euro-hunk and hotelier Cristiano Ronaldo.  What makes Messi so great?  Messi stands at only 5’7”, even after HGH administered during childhood to counteract a growth hormone deficiency.  He is known for having a low center of gravity that gives him balance, agility, and speed.  This year he and Ballon D’Or 2nd runner up Neymar helped Barcelona win 5 different football trophies.  But you always want what you can’t have.  Messi has said that he would trade all 5 Golden Balls for just one World Cup win for his motherland Argentina.


Spotlight on the NFL Playoffs: Divisional Round

The NFL Playoffs will continue this weekend with the Divisional Round, where winners of last week’s Wild Card Round will play the top seeded teams in each conference.  We will spotlight a different game each day, so you know what to look out for when you’re watching this weekend.

Today’s feature is the AFC matchup between the #5 Kansas City Chiefs @ the #2 New England Patriots, airing on Saturday at 4:35pm ET.

The team with a little bit of R&R.  The playoffs are nothing new to the reigning Super Bowl-Champion Patriots.  In fact, Patriots QB Tom Brady has seen infinitely more playoff games than he has cups of coffee.  But thanks to a string of injuries in the past several months, the Pats won only 2 of their last 6 games.  Now, after an extra week of rest, most of the Pats injured players are expected to return to the field.  Stay tuned to see whether the Pats return to their formal glory with star players WR Julian Edelman, LB Dont’a Hightower and LT Sebastian Vollmer back in the game.

The team coming in hot. The Chiefs are coming into the second round of the playoffs on a roll.  They have won 11 straight games, including a blowout against the Houston Texans (30-0) this past weekend.  Watch out for the Chiefs’ strong defense that has forced the 2nd most interceptions in the league, and the 4th most sacks.  On offense, QB Alex Smith is not particularly impressive, but he usually doesn’t catastrophically screw up.  He’ll need to step up his game if he’s going to defeat the Patriots, but that might be difficult with his prime target WR Jeremy Maclin nursing a sprained ankle.  Maclin might still play in this weekend’s game, but he’s taking it day by day.


Seen and Heard

NFL

Do you just need that stuff at home?  Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III (“RG3”) was spotted cleaning out his locker yesterday. There were huge expectations for RG3 early in his career.  He was a Heisman trophy winner in college and 2012 NFL offensive Rookie of the Year.  But this season after a string of injuries and disappointing performances, he was benched in favor of Kirk "You Like That!" Cousins.  While he hasn’t been formally released from the team, RG3’s empty locker and cryptic note seem to indicate that we shouldn’t expect to see him in Washington much longer.

Suspend your disbelief.  Yesterday, we told you that Cincinnati Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict had a huge helmet-to-helmet hit against Pittsburgh Steelers WR Antonio Brown during this weekend’s Wild Card round of playoff games.  This penalty caused a whole bunch of scuttlebutt, including Bengals CB Adam Jones saying that Brown was faking the injury and “winked at us and everything.”  The NFL didn’t buy this “faking it” angle and last night it suspended Burfict for 3 games at the beginning of next season.  Burfict, who has a reputation for dirty plays, is planning to appeal.