[1) It is SUNDAY, JANUARY 6. I'm already tired of Rex Ryan's tattoo but this interests me. Sexy Sofia Vergara involved in Miami nightclub skirmish, falls to floor as breast pops out of dress. I couldn't say it if it werent true; this is a blog! Click here for more. 2) Heat waive guard Terrel Harris. 3) Am told Alabama as a team will see a private screening of 'Zero Dark Thirty' tonight to get pumped for Monday's game. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]
NHL, players agree to end lockout: Happened early this morning. A 48-game (or perhaps 50) season is expected to begin no later than Jan. 18. Panthers fans, rejoice! The rest of you, go about your business as usual.
NFL PLAYOFFS: PREVIEW, PREDIX, POLL: Here I offer my predictions for this weekend's first round of the playoffs, which I dislike calling Wild-Card Weekend as the NFL does because half of the eight teams playing are not wild-card teams. Anyway, I like all four underdogs with the points and all four home teams, meaning one outright upset. Click on Playoff Round 1 Gems for the full version of our picks; here is a synopsis, chronologically:
FINAL: TEXANS d. BENGALS, 19-13 -- Arian Foster and big defense carry the day as Cincy held without offensive TD. Original post: Houston backing in, Cincy hotter, but Bengals last won a playoff in 1990, and Texans much more talented. Arian Foster runs big, J.J. Watt harrasses Andy Dalton. [My pick was: Texans (-4 1/2), 24-21. Playoff record: 1-0 outright; 0-1 vs. spread].
FINAL: PACKERS d. VIKINGS, 24-10 -- Aaron Rodgers was great as expected, and Joe Webb in for injured Christian Ponder doomed Vikes' upset shot. Original post: Tough to beat Gee Bees twice in a year, let alone twice in two weeks. Return of Charles Woodson big for Pack defense, and Aaron Rodgers comes up huge. [My pick was: Packers (-7 1/2), 31-24. Playoff record: 2-0 outright, 0-2 vs. spread].
FINAL: RAVENS d. COLTS, 24-9 -- Vintage Baltimore defense reminiscent of past years and a big day by Anquan Boldin carries the Crows. Original post: Lots of emotion here, with Ray Lewis facing his final game and the Chuck Pagano story. I see Lewis' return from 10 games out and the home field carrying the day. [My pick was: Ravens (-6 1/2), 27-23. Playoff record: 3-0 outright, 0-3 vs. spread].
FINAL: SEAHAWKS d. REDSKINS, 24-14 -- Thought I was looking foof at 14-0, Skins. RG3's injury didn't help. Original post: Upset! Seattle has not been a very good road team (3-5) and I'll take Robert Griffin III at home in a rookie-QB duel that should make this the game of the weekend. [My pick was: Redskins (+3), 24-23. Playoff record: 3-1 outright; 0-4 vs. spread].
Click Logic Vs. Sentiment for my Friday Page column. I rank the playoff teams 1 through 12 based on best chance to win the Super Bowl (Logic) and also based on my own Independent Rooting Interest scale (Sentiment). The column also includes my six end-of-season league awards plus my Dolphins MVP.
OK, your turn. Which team do you most hope wins the Super Bowl? I know 20 of 32 teams aren't in the playoffs, so about 63 percent of all fans including Dolfans aren't as passionately drawn. But don't fans develop a rooting interest in the playoffs even when their team isn't in it? I bet yes. Remember, this poll is not asking who you predict will win the Super Bowl. It's asking who you hope does. You can even still vote for teams that have been eliminated, if you wish. Vote and say why.
FIU RECYCLES, HIRES RON TURNER: Last month FIU and athletics boss Pete Garcia prematurely and unwisely fired bright young football coach Mario Cristobal. Now the school introduces his replacement, Ron Turner, 59 (pictured), a college and pro journeyman coach who is seen as an offensive specialist and quarterbacks guru. My concern is that Turner hasn't coached collegiately in almost a decade, since Illinois fired him after the 2004 season. He was 35-57 in eight years with the Illini. In 2001 he was 10-2 and lost in the Sugar Bowl but apart from that didn't do much. I wonder how a 60ish guy out of the college game so long will be as a recruiter. Turner signed a five-year contract but I doubt Garcia's patience will last that long. The upside? Ron has a more normal first name than his brother, Norv.
HEAT BIG 5 @ 30: The blog loves bells 'n whistles especially of the nerdy-stat variety and so this season we started this new one we are running throughout Heat season at five-game intervals (except we skipped @25; oops). It's a top-five cumulative ranking of the players having the biggest overall impact this season based on eight statistical categories. We continue with The Big 5 @ 30 Games (22-8, before Friday night's loss to Bulls):
Rank (@20) Player Total
1 (1) LeBron James 1,146.1
2 (2) Chris Bosh 746.5
3 (3) Dwyane Wade 703.5
4 (4) Ray Allen 475.0
5 (5) Mario Chalmers 447.7
Bubble: Shane Battier, 316.3
Poll result: Sorry, Nick. We still don't like you: I wrote this week that Dolfans should finally forgive Nick Saban, six years later, for the way he left Miami for Alabama, and asked in a poll if you agree. You didn't. Don't-forgive had 70.4 percent to only 21.5% who said forgive, with the other 8.1% undecided. So if you get booed Monday night, Nick, don't take it personally. Actually ... do take it personally.
Click back. Will be updating/adding to this latest blogpost...