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January 03, 2014

NFL playoff picks: 4 games, 1 surprise; plus Orange Boyd, waiting on Dolphins, Heat reigns in poll, Marlins ballot-stuffing & more

1) It is SATURDAY, JANUARY 4. New blogpost coming later today. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Miami's biggest sports story of 2013 poll, Dolphins' Ireland/Sherman in trouble, my top-10 new year's resolutions & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter (gregcote), Instagram (Upsetbird), Vine (Greg Cote) and Facebook (Greg Cote).

1aa1discobClemson reigns as Orange Bowl + Tajh Boyd = Orange Boyd: Clemson upsets Ohio State 40-35 in 80th Orange Bowl. What a game! Tigers WR Sammy Watkins named MVP after an OB-record 227 receiving yards on 16 catches, with two TDs. Big as his night was, QB Tajh Boyd got my vote and should have won. He passed for 370 yards and five TDs, and ran for 127 yards and another score. Look for my column from the game online soon.

UPSET BIRD DAY / NFL FIRST-ROUND PLAYOFF PIX: 4 GAMES, 1 SURPRISE: The NFL playoffs, a.k.a. The Time That Forgot Miami, begin with Wild-Card Weekend, a partial misnomer because four of the eight 1aa1fripix 1aa1nflwcteams playing are division winners, not wild-card entrants. Anyway, the two NFC games are more interesting to me, the 49ers-Packers game is probably the sexiest of the quartet, and that is where the upset blooms -- Packers, at home. Click on Playoff Week 1 Gems for all our expanded prediction capsules, and on The Delighted Dozen for my Friday Page column ranking the playoff teams 1-through-12 on likelihood of raising the Vince Lombardi trophy. Hint: Can't we just fast-forward to Broncos-Seahawks right now?

The NFL playoffs by Independent Rooting Interest (IRI): I devised this last year, a Misery Index of 1aa1irisorts. Who should you root for if you aren’t a fan of any one team? Answer: Whichever fans are most starving for a Super Bowl. Add each team's number of seasons since its last Super Bowl (or pre-SB) championship and last title-game appearance. The combined number is the IRI index. Higher the number, greater the historic underdog. This year’s field: Chiefs 88, Bengals 71, Chargers 69, Eagles 62, Seahawks 46, Broncos 30, Panthers 29, 49ers 20, Patriots 11, Colts 11, Saints 8 and Packers 6. Note, Dolphins' last SB win coming in 1973 and last appearance in '84 would have equated to an IRI of 69.

HEAT REPEAT NAMED TOP MIAMI SPORTS STORY OF 2013; NO. 2 A CURIOUS SURPRISE: We asked in the previous blogpost, more than 1,500 of you responded, and the Heat's championship unsurprisingly 1aa1heatrepeatwas voted the top Miami/So-Fla sports story of '13 with 35.3 percent of the vote. Then it got interesting. Jose Fernandez's big year wound up second with 21.2% -- suspiciously, I must say. Jose was running in the 6-8% range, in fifth place, until a late surge that poll experience tells me was orchestrated ballot-stuffing. Perhaps by the Marlins? Fine either way. Democracy in action, no illegalities suggested. Dolphins' Bullygate (12.7%) finished third just ahead of the team's late-season collapse (12.2%). The NCAA verdict on UM (7.6%) and the Biogenesis/PED scandal (4.6%) were next. The other four options in the poll had very minor support. I unintentionally omitted from the poll the Hurricanes' ACC title in men's basketball, which might have challenged top top five.

Click back. Will be updating/adding to this latest blogpost...

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