It’s Friday! While you've been practicing your touchdown dance, we put together everything you need to know for this weekend’s divisional round of the NFL playoffs. It’s almost Super Bowl time.
Bust a move,
The LNG Team
NFL (National Football League)
- Hi, I'm the new guy. San Francisco 49ers hire former Eagles head coach Chip Kelly. According to ESPN, Kelly received a four-year deal worth $24 million.
- It’s going down for real. What you really need to know about this weekend’s NFL playoff games is that the teams are riddled with injuries. At this point it is survival of the fittest.
Kansas City Chiefs vs New England Patriots, 4:35 pm (EST) on CBS
- Led by quarterback Alex Smith, the Chiefs are coming off a 30-0 domination of the Houston Texans in the wild card round last weekend.
- The Chiefs have won 11 games in a row.
- In one of the more bizarre stories of the season, Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones (brother of UFC Champion Jon Jones), showed up at the Foxborough police station early Sunday morning on foot, shirtless and disoriented. He was transported to hospital where he stayed all day. The diagnosis? A bad reaction to "synthetic marijuana," which is legal in Massachusetts. Jones did not miss any practice this week and he is unlikely to receive any type of discipline.
- Not to be outdone, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick showed up to a Monday press conference with a black eye.
Green Bay Packers vs Arizona Cardinals, 8:15 pm (EST) on NBC
- The Packers seemed to find their rhythm last week, beating Washington Redskins 35-18 in the wild card round.
- Packers quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, comes alive in playoffs.
- Cardinals dismantled Packers 38-8 on December 27th
- Injuries have decimated Packers offensive line.
- Led by 36-year-old quarterback, Carson Palmer, Cardinals had their best season in franchise history (13 wins).
- Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians started coaching football in 1975 at Virginia Tech. He became one of the oldest first time NFL coaches at age 60. The Cardinals named him head coach in 2013.
Seattle Seahawks vs Carolina Panthers, 1:05 pm (EST) on FOX
- Panthers beat Seahawks in Seattle earlier in the season, 27-23.
- Both teams feature a punishing defense.
- It feels like Seahawks are a team of destiny after beating the Vikings last weekend when the Vikings kicker missed an easy 27-yard field goal to lose the game.
- Seahawks are expected to have their top running back, Marshawn Lynch, back from an injury.
- Panthers are led by top MVP candidate, quarterback Cam Newton.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs Denver Broncos, 4:40 pm (EST) on CBS
- Steelers beat Broncos, 34-27, on December 20th.
- Steelers are the only team to score 30+ points on Broncos all season.
- Injuries have depleted the Steelers' offense this week. One of the most notable injuries is Steelers receiver Antonio Brown, who sustained a concussion in last week’s game. He is still under concussion protocol and will not play.
- Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning will start for first time since week 10 due to a foot injury.
- Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas will likely have his mother in attendance at his game for the first time ever. His mom was sent to prison when Thomas was 11, along with his grandmother, for drug charges. She was originally scheduled to get out in 2017, but her sentenced was reduced when President Obama shortened 46 sentences for non-violent drug charges.
NCAA Basketball (College)
- Only one remains. Only one undefeated team remains in college basketball, Southern Methodist University (SMU). In a twist of fate, SMU is ineligible to play in the post season due to an NCAA sanction. (An assistant coach helped a star player cheat to graduate high school).
- Rough week. It’s been a week of upsets. Nine of the top 25 teams have been upset so far this week.
- Vikings kicker, Blair Walsh, was not a fan favorite after missing the game winning field goal in last week's playoff game. First graders at a local Minnesota elementary school wrote Walsh letters of encouragement as part of a lesson in empathy. Their kind words of support were acknowledged by Walsh when he paid the students a visit.
- Number one ranked American golfer Jordan Spieth signed a multiyear deal with Coca-Cola that would make him the face of the brand. The exact numbers of the deal have not been released. The 22-year-old made an estimated $30 million in endorsements in 2015.
- What is the NFL’s concussion protocol? We've been hearing so much about concussions in the NFL and their concussion protocol, put into place to protect the health of the players. As expected, it’s complicated but The Washington Post’s Liz Clarke did a great job of breaking down the four-page concussion protocol document into layman’s terms. The five steps in the concussion protocol consist of:
- Rest and recovery.
- Light aerobic exercise.
- Continued aerobic exercise, introduction of strength training.
- Football-specific work.
- Full football activity, full clearance.
Note: There is no set timetable for the player’s return to the game. Every case is treated differently.