The divisional playoffs are set and hockey is back. Those are just a couple of things that The Stack is excited about on this Monday morning. The wild card round certainly wasn't as exciting as we've seen in the past. To be frank, it was quite boring. The divisional playoffs, however, should be very good. Before we get to that though, it is time for some reaction in "the stack" for today, Monday, January 7:
Texans 19 Bengals 13
Arian Foster is the reason the Texans won this football game. He rushed for 140 yards and the Texans lone touchdown and consistently made plays when the Texans needed to. In the passing game, Owen Daniels was Matt Schaub's go to target. He made big catch after big catch (9 receptions for 91 yards). J.J. Watt was his normal fantastic self, but the Bengals made it pretty easy on them. Andy Dalton once again had a stinker of a game and their offensive gameplan was odd. They had success running with the "Lawfirm", but didn't call on him enough. Nor did they target A.J. Green once in the first half. That is a recipe for disaster. The Bengals have a good nucleus and will be around next year, but they need to iron things out if they want to win a playoff game. For the Texans, they get a rematch with the New England Patriots, who they lost to December 10, 42-14.
Packers 24 Vikings 10
A surprise to everyone even before the game started when Christian Ponder was ruled inactive with a bruised elbow and Joe Webb was named the starter. He hadn't thrown a pass all season long (first player in NFL history to start a playoff game without throwing a pass during the regular season). Yet Vikings fans have consistently been asking for him to play when Ponder was struggling. Perhaps those cries will go silent following Webb's struggles in the Vikings 24-10 loss. First drive was good as Webb led the Vikings to a field goal, but Webb didn't complete a pass. The Vikings, like the Bengals had some odd play calling. Webb ran well, yet the Vikings called a lot of passing plays for him. With the Packers geared to stop Adrian Peterson, it would have made a lot of sense to run a pistol style offense like in Washington and let Webb utilize his biggest asset...his speed. The game got out of hand in the second quarter when the Packers scored a touchdown late with under a minute to go to take a 17-3 lead. Charles Woodson made his impact felt on defense. The Packers welcomed him back with open arms and he made a lot of plays and was a big reason Peterson was held to 99 yards. Not surprising the Vikings lost. They still had a phenominal season. The Packers get to head to San Francisco now for a matchup with the 49ers Saturday night. You'll recall that they lost to the 49ers week 1 in Green Bay. Perhaps they'll return the favor?
Ravens 24 Colts 9
With this possibly being the last game Ray Lewis ever played in, you knew the Ravens were going to do everything in their power to make sure he would be able to play at least one more game after Sunday. They did just that with a 24-9 win over the Colts. Lewis was great, making 13 tackles, but it was Joe Flacco making big throws down the field, especially to Anquan Boldin that made the difference in this game. The Colts had the ball fifteen more minutes than the Ravens and Andrew Luck threw it 54 times, but they could not find the endzone. They had plenty of untimely drops too which cost them a chance at extending drives and getting points. As a result, the Ravens get to live another day, but they face the Denver Broncos next Saturday in Denver. The Broncos crushed the Ravens in Baltimore back in December. Good luck!
Seahawks 24 Redskins 14
With the Redskins up 14-0 in a pumped up Fed Ex Field, the Seahawks looked like they were in trouble. Whether it was RGIII hurting or just a change in the wind, the Seahawks took over the game from there on out, scoring the last 24 points in the Seahawks 24-14 win. The defense gave up almost 130 yards in the first quarter. They gave up under a hundred yards the rest of the game. They chipped away at the lead until Marshawn Lynch "Skittles" went beastmode with his 27-yard touchdown run to put the Seahawks ahead 21-14 after the two-point conversion. Then, the play that everyone will be talking about, a low snap and RGIII having his knee give way with the Seahawks recovering the fumble at the Redskins five to pretty much ice the game. RGIII's injury is going to be talked about a lot, especially give the report in USA Today that Dr. James Andrews never cleared RGIII to back into the Ravens game after he injured his knee. This could be a lingering issue. Let's hope not. RGIII is something special. Maybe get some new turf. That field was awful. Seahawks are very good. The Atlanta Falcons should be very fearful of them next Sunday.
NHL lockout is over
And on day 113 they said, "let's play hockey." The NHL will have a season this year, albeit a shortened one, following the agreement between the NHL and NHLPA on a new CBA that was announced early Sunday morning. Some of the highlights from the deal include:
- The salary cap in year two is $64.3 million with a floor of $44 million. This was the biggest issue between the two sides and the issue that is the main reason a new CBA wasn???t reached until now.
- Max length for contracts is seven-years, eight if re-signing with team. The NHL was dead set on five years, but ended up by moving off of that stance. In the end, the league is not losing big on this issue.
- Free agency remains at July 1 years two through ten. The league wanted to push free agency back to July 10th, but the players refused to budge. The league said it wanted to do this to give more buzz to the signings as July 1 is a national holiday in Canada and July 4 is a national holiday here in the US.
- All teams that miss the playoffs have a shot at the number one pick. Before, it was just the top five. It will be weighted just like the NBA, but it is still a nice change.
Of course, there are plenty more details in the full CBA which would take a long, long time to go through and explain. I'll let you guys do that for yourselves. The main point though, is that hockey is back and the NHL avoided further embarrassment in having to cancel another full season.
Plenty of fans are ticked and rightfully so. This lockout was silly. It was damanging. But the fans will return...eventually. They'll come back and fill the arenas. They'll turn on their TVs. They'll buy merchandise. It's just going to take a little bit of time and the NHL knows that. They know this hurts them. They have a lot of goodwill that they have to try to get back. Their sponsors will need to be shown that nothing like this will happen again. But the bottomline is that the NHL will have a season to the delight of many. The season, whether it be a 50-game or 48-game season depending on how fast things get going, will take place within the next two weeks with the Stanley Cup Finals concluding at the end of June. It's just nice to have them back. Let's play hockey!
#1 Notre Dame, #2 Alabama set to clash in BCS National Championship
The wait is finally over. College football by the end of the night will crown a winner. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are looking to complete a remarkable, magical season while Alabama is looking to get into the history books as a college football dynasty by winning their third championship in four years. Alabama has a great offense and they will put Notre Dame's front seven, one of if not thee best in the game, to the test. They have plenty of weapons at running back and quarterback A.J. McCarron has really matured this year. Their defense is still very good, but not as good as last year. But, they've been here before. Head coach Nick Saban has been here before. Notre Dame has not. Head coach Brian Kelly has not. Is it a huge disadvantage? No it's not. But it is an advantage for Alabama in that they know what the stage feels like. I'd really like to pick Notre Dame. I'd love to see linebacker Manti Te'o to win a national championship and go out as the best defensive player in college football this year. I just don't know if it's going to happen. This is a toss up. Should be a good game.
Prediction: Alabama 24 Notre Dame 20
Coming up Tuesday: BCS Championship reaction plus other top sports stories and headlines.