Are You Ready for the NFL Playoffs?

Fun Fact of the Day: Are you sure you want to fire that coach?  Studies indicate that NFL teams that fire their head coaches finish with an average of 0.6 fewer wins the next season than similarly situated teams that do not fire their head coaches.


Today’s Rundown

NBA

A surprise All-Star?  The NBA All-Star Game is next month, but yesterday the NBA released a sneak peek of the current leaders in the fan voting. LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant and Steph Curry led the pack. No big surprises there. But who is that listed under Kevin Durant?  The Golden State Warriors’ Zaza Pachulia made a surprise appearance on the list with the 2nd most votes for the Western Conference’s backcourt. Don’t get us wrong, Zaza is a solid player, but he’s only averaging 5.2 points per game so it’s pretty surprising to see him on the list above the likes of big stars like Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis, and DeMarcus Cousins. It seems like the NBA fans are collectively trying to take a page out of the NHL’s All-Star game book and give Zaza a surprise chance at All-Star game glory. 

The newest Cav.  The Cleveland Cavaliers are in the middle of trade talks with the Atlanta Hawks to get sharpshooter Kyle Korver. Korver should be a big help to the Cavs, who are still missing their resident sharpshooter, J.R. Smith to a thumb injury.

 

SPORTS MEDIA

Say goodbye to a familiar face.  At the end of this NFL season, longtime ESPN anchor Chris Berman aka “Boomer” is stepping down from hosting his show Sunday NFL Countdown. Boomer was hired by ESPN the month after the network started in 1979 and he served as one of the original SportsCenter anchors. But don’t worry he won’t be out of your life for good, he will still make sporadic appearances on Monday Night Countdown and a few other ESPN shows.


Spotlight on the Wild Card Round

The NFL Playoffs start this weekend with 4 Wild Card games! If you haven’t been keeping up this season, we’ve got you covered with the current NFL playoff bracket and the key storylines to watch out for in each Wild Card game:

Battle of the Bad QBs (aka the Oakland Raiders @ Houston Texans). If you don’t have time to watch all the Wild Card games this weekend, this is probably the one to skip. That’s because the Raiders will be starting rookie QB Connor Cook, who will be making his first career start. He’ll be going up against the Texans’ own underwhelming QB, Brock Osweiler.

The Most Likely to be a Blowout (aka the Miami Dolphins @ Pittsburgh Steelers).  The Dolphins are another team using a backup QB, Matt Moore. Starting QB Ryan Tannehill injured his knee a few weeks ago and isn’t ready to make his return. Moore will have his work cut out for him going up against a veteran Steelers team with QB Ben Roethlisberger, wide receiver Antonio Brown, and running back Le’Veon Bell. 

Teams Heading in the Wrong Direction (aka the Detroit Lions @ Seattle Seahawks). Nearly everyone agrees that the Lions are a bad team that has gotten very lucky. Almost all of their wins were 4th quarter comebacks. By the end of the regular season, their badness started to catch up with them and they lost their last 3 games. The Seahawks also ended the regular season a bit shaky, losing 3 of their last 6 games. Their usually intimidating defense will be a little less scary without star safety Earl Thomas, who is still out with a broken leg.

The One to Watch (aka the N.Y. Giants @ Green Bay Packers).  The Packers are the hottest team in the NFL right now. They won their last 6 games of the season thanks to QB Aaron Rodgers, who is back to playing like the Aaron Rodgers we all know and love. But they will have their work cut out for them against the Giants. QB Eli Manning has a history of really turning his game up a notch in the playoffs—just ask the New England Patriots, whom the Giants beat in the 2007 and 2011 Super Bowls. Hopefully, the Giants’ wide receiving corps won’t be too rusty after partying in Miami on their day off, earlier this week.


Hot Read

NFL

The Wild Card Round. Here’s your schedule of the NFL playoff games for this weekend:

  • Saturday
    • Oakland Raiders @ Houston Texans. 4:30pm ET on ESPN / ABC
    • Detroit Lions @ Seattle Seahawks. 8:15pm ET on NBC
  • Sunday
    • Miami Dolphins @ Pittsburgh Steelers.  Sunday 1pm ET on CBS
    • N.Y. Giants @ Green Bay Packers. 4:40pm ET on FOX