Thursday, January 12, 2012

NFL Playoff Predictions & NBA Notes

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Hello my avenue, welcome to a jam packed edition of Your Sports First on BlvdAve. Today we are going to cover the last couple weeks in the world of sports and take a look at a wild weekend ahead. So strap in, grab a coffee, soda, or energy drink and enjoy this week's edition of YSFOB. 


Rose Gold In Marketing Game

DRose is blooming icon
Derrick Rose was a miracle to Chicago. With only a 1.7% chance of landing the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 draft the Bulls got a gift from a higher power, enabling the rebuilding team to land the hometown product, hailing from Chicago's Englewood neighborhood. Now he is set for life, recently signing a 5yr/$95mil contract extension with the Chicago Bulls. And it doesn't appear to be stopping there for the young star, Marc Stein reports that Adidas is positioning to offer Rose a $250mil "lifetime" contract for somewhere around ten years.

In 4 seasons, the 23 year old point guard has earned almost every accolade obtainable and isn't looking to stop anytime soon. Earning two All-Star nods, Rookie of the Year, and currently the reigning NBA MVP, Derrick even has a clause in the NBA's new Collective Bargaining Agreement, settled during the NBA Lockout. This enables young players such as Rose, entering the final years of their respective rookie contract, to earn a higher percentage of the teams salary if they earn MVP or All-NBA honors in the duration of the initial contract period.

*Special report on Rose injury, according to Yahoo Sports Court*, 
Reports are that Derrick Rose's injury is a sprain and not a potentially serious case of turf toe. He's officially day-to-day but was in a walking boot Wednesday and has to be considered questionable for Friday's game in Boston.

ATL-Hawk Down..

The Atlanta Hawks season may be in serious jeopardy, not even a full month into the season. Former Florida Gator national champion and All-Star Hawks center Al Horford went down with a diagnosed torn pectoral muscle. It is expected to sideline Horford for the next three months. 
Al Horford to miss 3 months

The Hawks now look to Zaza Pachilia to handle the bulk of the load in the frontcourt for the Hawks for the duration of Al's injury. I would expect Atlanta to make some small moves to coddle the blow of losing a player of Horford's level, as Puchilia doesn't appear to be the answer for nothing other than a temporary stop-plug. 

Atlanta is currently 6th in the Eastern Conference as a whole. They own the most wins against divisional opponents at 4-1. Their schedule is also favorable for the next month as they only play two teams with a record above .500 (San Antonio Spurs, Philadelphia 76'ers). If they have any hope of competing in this condensed schedule, they will have to capitalize on this month of ease in scheduling. 

Howard Breaks Wilt's Chamberlain's Record, With Help From Warriors

Birth of Hack-A-Howard?
Dwight Howard continues to prove his historical dominance in the NBA. Howard broke Wilt Chamberlain's nearly 50-year-old NBA record for most free throw attempts in a game, making 21 of 39 in the Orlando Magic's 117-109 victory over the Golden State Warriors. To much chagrin of Golden State, the Warriors did intentionally foul the notoriously bad free throw shooter throughout the contest. 

Howard however, made over 50% of his free throw attempts, which proved to be a major player in the Magic win. The hack-a-Shaq-esque technique was frustrating at moments, but also comical, as Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy stated, 

"I'm looking at them like, 'We're not going to run a play. He's going to foul him," Van Gundy said. "What are we going to bother with diagraming a play? Make the free throw, play some defense."

Howard finished with 45 points and 23 rebounds, but the mystique of his free-throw ills didn't shake the future Hall of Famer, 

"I just tried to be aggressive and get to the line. I didn't care if I missed 30," Howard said. "I was still going to go up there and shoot the next one with confidence."

NFL Playoff Preview 

AFC Match-up

                     Denver Broncos vs New England Patriots 

A changing of the guard?
The AFC undoubted has the most marquee match-up of the weekend, with the Denver Broncos heading into New England to face the Patriots for the divisional title. The Denver Bronco/Tim Tebow story has captivated the nation. Their stunning upsetting of the Pittsburgh Steelers just added to the resume of improbable, against all odds wins that the team has seemed to pull out. Regardless of all the criticism, Tim Tebow seems setting records and leads the No.1 rushing attack, as well as the No.1 most popular tag, a poll ran by ESPN named the quarterback as the most popular athlete in all of sports. 

But with all the aesthetics aside the New England Patriots could care less about the heroic game endings and the likability poll. The Pat's met the Broncos in week 15 and dismantled the Tebow train, ending the Broncos 6 game winning streak. The Patriots also herald the worst defenses remaining in the post-season. According to Elias Sports Bureau, no team with a defense ranked outside of the top 25, have ever went on to win a Super Bowl. 

Something to keep your eye on when you watch what will undoubtedly be the highest rated playoff game in NFL history. 

Prediction: Denver 27 - New Engand 25

                New Orleans Saints vs San Francisco 49ers

Can Brees keep the magic in a bottle?
This match-up is by far the most perplexing of all the match-ups this weekend. The New Orleans Saints roll into this game as the NFL best offense, and the 49'ers come in as the undoubted best defense still in the playoffs. The Saints had the best statistical season offensively in NFL history and quarterback Drew Brees surpassed great Dan Marino as the single season leader in passing yards ever with 5,476yds.

The 49'ers finished the season with record pace as well. Allowing fewer rushing touchdowns than any other team in the Super Bowl era. They also only allowed 77ypg on the ground against opponents, good for first in the NFL. So the age old question will be raised in this game, does defense win championships? Or is this a new era in the NFL and teams must put points on the boards in spades in order to advance to big dance?

Stay tuned for the answer......

Prediction: Saints 30- 49'ers 23

NFC Match-up

                     Houston Texans vs Baltimore Ravens

Is this Ray Lewis final round?
This should prove to be an old school defensive battle between two of the leagues better defenses. The Texans had the leagues best defense for the majority of the season, leading many to say that the acquisition of Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips was the single most pivotal front office signing of the season. Phillips took a Texans defense from middle of the pack to the leagues best in just one season. The Houston Texans also fought through adversity, losing starting quarterback Matt Shaub - and help from Indianapolis - to take control of the AFC South and making the playoffs for the first time in their short existence. 

The Baltimore Ravens on the other hand have a tradition of defense. Winning Super Bowl XXXV in 2000, the Ravens defense is historically great, and historically historic. Ray Lewis (36) and Ed Reed (33), to pillars of the Super Bowl Ravens team are one of few remaining and both are aging in a league where youth is taking to experience. But with production not seeing any signs of dropping I expect these two to play three more high caliber seasons before they gracefully exit into the analysts booths. 

This one is for the ol' school football heads. 

Prediction: Houston 17 - Baltimore 23 (safety)

                   New York Giants vs Green Bay Packers

Smooth sailing for Rogers?
This NFC match-up is a repeat of the 2007 game where the Giants went on to win and advance to win the Super Bowl. That team however, was the leagues most dominant defensively, not the case this season. The defense is middle of the pack but backed by Eli Manning and a passing attack the rivals 2/3 of the NFL. Manning's 4,933yds would have lead the league in any other season, but five other quarterbacks passed for over 5,000yds, the first of it's kind in NFL history. 

Maybe it's because the Packers had a bye for the first round of the playoffs that many forget that the Packers HAD A BYE for the first week of the playoffs. And flirted with an undefeated season in the process. Aaron Rogers pretty much wrapped up the MVP voting by season's midpoint, despite Drew Brees making history. The Packer's offense rolled but it's defense never really found stride, and they suffered key injuries down the stretch marring a near perfect season with playoffs doubts.

Sounds alot like last year......

Prediction: Giants 24 - Packers 42

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