BRO BOWL! Harbaugh vs. Harbaugh! Ray Lewis! Ravens, 49ers in Super Bowl!; Ravens-Pats next; plus Panthers' big opening night, Jedd Fisch, Earl Weaver, Heat, Lance/Manti & more
[1) It is SUNDAY, JANUARY 20. Click on Lance 'n Manti for my Sunday Random Evidence wiseass notes column, led by a skewering of this week's Liefest. 2) R.I.P., Earl Weaver (pictured), dead at 82. The colorful and cantankerous longtime former Orioles manager, who lived in Pembroke Pines, suffered a heart attack while on an O's fantasy cruise in Caribbean. Also, a farewell to the great Stan Musial. 3) WQAM rightly suspended Dan Sileo two days for cartoonishly sexist Tweets about Erin Andrews. C'mon, Sileo. Don't go so low with the shock-jock schtick. 4) Join us on Twitter @gregcote]
Canes losing offensive coordinator: ESPN's Adam Schefter first reported that Hurricanes OC Jedd Fisch is leaving for the same post with the Jacksonville Jaguars. That's a sizable loss. Be interesting to see what Al Golden does for a replacement, especially now that Mario Cristobal is on the staff.
NFL PREDIX: 49ERS, RAVENS MAKE IT A HAR-BOWL SUPER BOWL: OK, get ready , America, for the onslaught. More Harbaugh vs. Harbaugh than you can stomach. More Ray Lewis farewell than you can stand. Storyline overload! WHOOOOO! Original post: The possibility of a 49ers- Ravens Super Bowl -- Jim Harbaugh vs. John Harbaugh in the Bro Bowl -- is pretty good, but won't happen. John's Niners get in. Jim's Crows do not, which means the end of the line for Ray Lewis. Click on Championship Game Gems for full version of this week's latest NFL picks. And on First Family for my Friday NFL column. I write how the Harbaughs have (temporarily) unseated the Mannings atop league's geneological marquee, and on other stuff that makes this year's Final Four a good one no matter who advances. A synopsis of my picks:
NFC FINAL: 49ers 28, Falcons 24 -- Atalnta just isn't there yet. Almost blew it a week ago vs. Seattle, and today sqaundered a 17-0 second-quarter lead. Niners clearly the better team and proved it, though SF pushed against the spread. Original post: Home dogs always are so tempting in playoffs (especially with ATL 8-1 at home), but Niners are a more physical and better all-round team, and Falcons defense has had trouble defending the kind of dual-threat QB embodied by Colin Kaepernick. SF has too many weapons. My pick was: 49ers (-4), 24-17.
AFC FINAL: Ravens 28, Patriots 13 -- Pats were 67-0 when leading at halftime under Tom Brady ... until tonight. Give Ravens credit. Big defense and three TD passes by Joe Flacco. Original post: I like Baltimore getting nine points but not outright in the first AFC title-game rematch since 1986-87. Ravens usually defend Tom Brady comparatively well, but you just don't bet against Brady at home in winter-time, even missing Rob Gronkowski again. My pick was: Patriots (-9), 34-27.
HOCKEY'S BACK, EH! ROOKIE HUBERDEAU LEADS CATS' BIG IN OPENER: Panthers routed Carolina 5-1 last night here to launch the NHL season, with a goal and two assists from rookie Jonathan Huberdeau,
the player of the game. Click on Earning the Ridiculous Red Hat for my column off the game. This season the Cats are having their guy voted player of the game wear a Three Musketeers-style hat in postgame interviews, and last night it looked more like a playful rookie hazing of the 19-year-old Huberdeau (pictured). Love it! Original post: Better late than never, Florida Panthers open their 19th NHL season tonight vs. Carolina in the Sunrise ice barn. I'll be there battling a deadline column. Cats won their first-ever division title last year to end a long playoff drought, and Carolina is one of the teams they'll have to beat to do that again so it's a big division test out the gate. Every game will seem a little bigger this season with the schedule truncated from 82 games to 48. Honestly I don't follow hockey intently but I do follow the Panthers closely. Love what GM Dale Tallon has done since arriving in 2010, second-year coach Kevin Dineen looks like the real deal, and I'm eager to see if young Jonathan Huberdeau will add needed scoring punch. Cats have a really good mix of veterans and rising talent. I had a nice long conversation with Dineen the other day and from that petri dish arose this preview column.
ALL IS WELL WITH HEAT AGAIN! (UNTIL NEXT LOSS...): Heat, off until Wednesday, ended a 3-3 western road swing on a high in L.A., 99-90 over the Lakers. Blearily I stayed up 'til 1:30 to watch LeBron James net 39 points, Dwyane Wade hit 27, and Kobe Bryant get hot too late. LeBron affirmed his BPE status (Best Player on Earth) for any doubters out there. Miami has struggled on the road and the Lakers are struggling, period, but this game still had an event/marquee feel and it was a nice win for the Heat. Lakers had the inside size to (theoretically) match up well with Miami, but tenacious D (pictured) and
LeBron at his best were plenty. So it's official, then. All is well and Heat-repeat chances look good again. Until the next loss, of course. With this team, premature panic never quite disappears, right? It just lays dormant ... waiting.
Poll result: Manti Lie'o: We asked in the previous blogpost if you thought Notre Dame football star Manti Te'o was a liar or the victim of a hoax in the bizarre dead-girlfriend-who-never existed story. More than two-thirds, 68.4 percent, said liar, and only 6.7% said victim. Another 24.9% voted "not sure."
Click back. Will be updating/adding to this latest blogpost...