Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Sportz' 2019 NFL Predictions


Is there really any debate other than the order the Jets and Bills finish? The Patriots are clearly the class of this division and will be in the mix for a record 7th Super Bowl title. The Dolphins are all-in on a complete rebuild. So it comes down to the Jets and the Bills who will likely win around 6 to 8 games.


The QBs are the question in this division. Can Deshaun Watson stay healthy enough to lead Houston to the division crown? Is Jacoby Brissett good enough to take a talented Colts team to the postseason? What's happening with Marcus Mariota? And was it really Blake Bortles that was the problem in Jacksonville and Nick Foles the answer?


Not yet, Cleveland. They will be a playoff team this year but not winning the AFC North quite yet. Pittsburgh hangs on despite the losses of Bell and Brown. Ravens will fight for a playoff spot while the Bengals will have to decide whether Andy Dalton is the future or not.


KC's offense is still insane ... and their defense is still bad. The Chargers will miss Gordon but have enough to get back to the playoffs. Denver continues to be in this holding pattern and Oakland will continue to be fun to watch from afar -- both in a good and bad way.


Philly will win the division again while Dallas will be right there to challenge them. The Giants and Redskins are on another plan where they are trying to build with new quarterbacks. New York has Barkley while Washington doesn't.


This could be Drew Brees' final hurrah as a legit contender. I just don't trust Atlanta at all despite all the talent they have. Cam Newton's shoulder won't be strong enough to carry Carolina. Tampa Bay has too many questions to figure out.


The Vikings eek this out with good Kirk Cousins having a big year. The Packers will take too long to get rolling so they'll be more of a wildcard team than anything. Chicago takes a bit of a step back with the defense not so suffocating. The Lions are doing Lions things.


The Rams attempt to get back to the Super Bowl and actually show up for the game. Seattle's in a bit of a transition but are good enough to nab the final playoff spot. The 49ers and Cardinals will be trying to build some more with San Francisco a more likely candidate to compete for a playoff spot.


Sunday, June 23, 2019

Ranking the last 32 NBA Finals

Where will the only 3-1 comeback in Finals history be ranked?

#32 - LAKERS VS NETS (2002):  To me, this was the worst Finals.  It wasn't just that this was a sweep (though it factors), it is just that this series felt like a formality while you were watching it.  Sure, three of the games were close, but it just didn't feel like the Lakers even took this series seriously.  

#31 - PISTONS VS LAKERS (1989):  This should have been epic.  The Lakers surged into the Finals after sweeping their first three series.  The Pistons had the best record in the league and we were staring at a rematch of one of the greatest Finals in history.  Well, that crashed when Byron Scott missed the entire series with a hamstring injury, then Magic Johnson getting hurt early in Game 2 and missed the rest of the series.  The Lakers were game, but with just Michael Cooper as their backcourt veteran, they were no match for that Isiah Thomas-Joe Dumars-Vinny Johnson backcourt.

#30 - SPURS VS CAVALIERS (2007):   Neither team was great (Spurs finished 3rd in the West; Cavs won just 50 games) but this was a three-time champion Spurs against soon-to-be-legend LeBron James and his Cavaliers.  The Spurs handled the Cavs in the first two games, then eeked out the final two games in Cleveland. This was a ratings nightmare.  Despite having King James in it, nobody watched.

#29 - WARRIORS VS CAVALIERS (2017): This series felt like a formality even though it marked the rubber match for the rivalry. Golden State shot out to a fairly easy 3-0 series lead before the Cavs shot insanely to salvage Game 4. It was a gentlemen's sweep as new Warrior Kevin Durant dominated this series.

#28 - WARRIORS VS CAVALIERS (2018): Golden State swept Cleveland but there were two great games mixed in there. LeBron James poured 51 points in a Game 1 overtime loss that will be remembered for J.R. Smith's late game gaffe and Kevin Durant was throwing daggers in a backbreaking Game 3 win. . 

#27 - PISTONS VS LAKERS (2004):  This felt like a "5-game sweep" as the Pistons dominated the heavily favored Lakers and let Game 2 get away on a Kobe Bryant three-pointer with two seconds left.  The Pistons were a bland, hardworking bunch with no superstars.  The Lakers, however, were a complete spectacle all season long (the addition of Karl Malone and Gary Payton, Kobe's rape trial, Shaq's threats to leave) and it all crumbled during and following this series.  That's what people remember.  

#26 - SPURS VS KNICKS (1999):  The Asterisk Championship for the Spurs.  The NBA's lockout meant the season was only 50 games long.  It was the year after Michael Jordan retired.  And the Spurs played the Knicks in the Finals ... the only #8 seed to make it to the Finals.  The Knicks were bad, not scoring more than 89 points during the series and scoring 77 points or fewer in three of the games.  San Antonio wasn't much better, scoring over 89 just once.  Other than the closeout game, none of these games were particularly close.  

#25 - LAKERS VS MAGIC (2009):  This was a close series of sorts, though the Lakers won it in five.  Game 4 was the classic.  The Lakers made a huge comeback which included a huge Derek Fisher three-pointer to send the game into OT.  There, the Lakers dominated and took a commanding 3-1 series lead.  The Lakers cruised to a title three days later.

#24 - RAPTORS VS WARRIORS (2019): This series was filled with drama but most of it wasn't positive. Kevin Durant missed all bu 12 minutes of the series due to a calf injury and then tore his Achilles in Game 5. Klay Thompson had a hamstring injury then tore his ACL. The Warriors were banged up from five years of making it to the Finals and didn't give Toronto the battle it could have.

#23 - SPURS VS NETS (2003):  This was kind of like the Spurs-Knicks series four years earlier, except that the Nets gave a good fight.  Hard to believe, but Game 4 in New Jersey wasn't even a sellout.  Unreal.  Just like fans in the Garden State, fans at home didn't feel like watching this either.  It was the lowest rated Finals until the Spurs/Cavaliers series in 2007.  

#22 - LAKERS VS SIXERS (2001):  The Lakers went 15-1 in this postseason, though their only loss was in Game 1 to Philadelphia.  That Game 1 was epic, as Allen Iverson scored 48 pts and Shaq scoring 44.  Both Shaq and Iverson had big series, but the Lakers pretty much skated to their second straight championship.  

#21 - BULLS VS SUPERSONICS (1996):  This was the 72-win Bulls with the new Jordan dynasty.  I thought this would've been a great series, but the Bulls blew out to a 3-0 series lead.  Seattle did salvage the next two at home before the Bulls finally put the Sonics out of their misery.  

#20 - ROCKETS VS MAGIC (1995):  Shaq vs Hakeem in the Finals.  Wow.  Nick Anderson's missed free throws kept open a window for Hakeem to tip in the game winner of Game 1.  Anderson was mud after that.  This series was a sweep, but three of the games were very close.  Hakeem's tip in, Horry's three to win Game 3 and a huge fourth quarter run to close out the series.

#19 - SPURS VS HEAT (2014): A year after the Spurs watched the Heat steal a championship from them, San Antonio dominated the regular season and these Finals. Aside for Miami squeaking out a Game 2 win in San Antonio, the Spurs dominated the other four games. Kawhi Leonard broke out in this series as a scorer and as a great defender on LeBron James. LeBron would leave Miami after this series.

#18 - HEAT VS THUNDER (2012):  What was billed as the future of the Finals, LeBron James and Kevin Durant met on the biggest stage with a title on the line.  After an impressive Game 1 win, the Thunder would go on to lose every game the rest of the way.  The Big Three got their championship together ... so haters would have to hate harder and LeBron fans felt validated.

#17 - SPURS VS PISTONS (2005):  This, along with the Lakers-Celtics series in 2010, is the only matchup of teams on this list that had won a championship recently.  This did go 7 games, though this was filled with bad games.  There was a 31-pt win, a 21-pt win, a 17-pt win, a 15-pt win and a 9-pt win.  There was that great Game 5 -- a swing game with the series tied 2-2 -- when Robert Horry willed an overtime win and the series lead.  Game 7 was close, with the game tied heading into the 4th quarter.  

#16 -  LAKERS VS PACERS (2000):  This was the Lakers first championship in the post-Magic Johnson era.  Of their three-peat, this was the best series, though uneven.  Games 1, 3 and 5 were blowouts (the Lakers lost Game 5, where they could've won the title, by 33 points).  The memorable game was pivotal Game 4.  The game went into overtime with 21-year old Kobe Bryant hitting clutch shots (Shaq had fouled out) to give the Lakers a big 3-1 series lead.  The Pacers nearly sent it to a 7th game, but the Lakers made a late run to clinch the title.  

#15 - BULLS VS LAKERS (1991):  The changing of the guard.  After Sam Perkins stunned the Bulls in Game 1 at Chicago Stadium, Michael Jordan (and that "impossible move") took over from there.  In Game 3 at the Forum, Jordan and the Bulls dominated in overtime to win Game 3 and would coast to their first NBA title.

#14 - MAVERICKS VS HEAT (2011):  This series will be best remembered as the one where LeBron James just didn't show up for the Heat late in games.  It was a 2-2 series before Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry carried the Mavs the rest of the way.  

#13 - PISTONS VS BLAZERS (1990):  While only a five-game series, four of them were nail biters.  After a Pistons win in Game 1, Portland stole an overtime game to even the series.  After blowing out Portland in Game 3, the Pistons eeked out a 3 and 2 point win the capture their second title.  This was also sad as this was the last game with the NBA of CBS, which I personally grew up on. 

#12 - WARRIORS VS CAVALIERS (2015): The first of four straight Warriors-Cavs Finals. The Cavs were depleted with Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving out, yet LeBron played one of the best playoff series of his career (I felt he should have been awarded MVP). The Cavs actually held a 2-1 series lead before Golden State's talent persevered.  

#11 - CELTICS VS LAKERS (2008):  This was a both a surprise and pleasant matchup of the two NBA glamor franchises.  The Celtics were back from the dead after getting their Big 3 together.  The Lakers made a steal of a trade for Pau Gasol to get back.  But the Celtics were ready.  A hard fought series that saw Paul Pierce wheelchaired off the court only to come back two minutes later and hit a couple of threes.  And then the Celtics clincher happened: a 39 point beatdown of the Lakers.  

#10 - HEAT VS MAVERICKS (2006):  This was the first non-Lakers/Spurs Finals since 1998 and the first to see new blood in the Finals since 1971.  A weird series.  The Maverics owned the first two games in Dallas.  Miami ... namely Dwyane Wade ... owned the rest of the series.  Games 3, 5 and 6 were nail biters that featured phantom fouls, an illegal timeout and a parade of Wade free throws.  Oh, and Dirk Nowitzki kicking the ball into the stands.  It was great theater and Miami's first NBA Championship.

#9 - HEAT VS SPURS (2013): The first five games weren't very fun to watch, even as the two teams alternated victories. The Spurs held a late lead on the Heat in a clinching Game 6 (even the Heat fans left the arena early) when an unlikely series of events led to Ray Allen nailing a game-tying three to send the game to overtime (fans tried to get back in the arena). Miami would sent the series to a Game 7 where the two teams traded blows all game long until Tim Duncan missed a couple of close shots and LeBron James hit a huge jumper to win Miami their second consecutive championship.

#8 - BULLS VS JAZZ (1998):  This series is always remembered for Jordan's final shot.  It was also a series filled with close games.  Game 1 went into overtime, Game 2 was won by the Bulls by 5 and Games 4 through 6 were won by 4, 2 and 1, respectively.  But this also had the dud of Chicago's 96-54 blowout of Game 3.  That was one of the ugliest Finals game I had ever witnessed.  The Jazz set a record for lowest point total for any NBA game since the shot clock (the record has since been broken).  The Bulls also held a 3-1 series lead before Utah saved face in Chicago.  Then Jordan's shot in Game 6.  

#7 - BULLS VS BLAZERS (1992):  People remember Jordan shrugging off those six first half three-pointers.  But this was a good series.  It was tied 2-2 when Jordan erupted for 46 points in Game 5 to take control of the series.  

#6 - BULLS VS JAZZ (1997):  I am actually ranking this series higher than the 1998 edition.  The teams had better regular season records, both teams cruised into the Finals and the series was closer.  In this one, the Bulls won the first two games in Chicago while the Jazz won the next two in Utah.  With the series tied 2-2, Chicago won Game 5 ... aka the Jordan Flu Game ... to take the series lead back to Chicago.  The Jazz had a big lead late in Game 6 before Steve Kerr hit the go ahead shot late and Scottie Pippen made a key defensive play to seal the deal.

#5 - ROCKETS VS KNICKS (1994):  This was a very defensive Finals that may be best remembered for a weird Game 5 that saw NBC cut to coverage of O.J. Simpson in his white Ford Bronco.  This was billed as the Hakeem vs Ewing series (these two met in the 1984 NCAA Tournament Final), but Olajawon totally outplayed his counterpart.  It all ended with a wild Game 7 that saw John Starks go 2-of-18 from the field.  As an aside, this series had a weird feel.  It was the first NBA Finals that didn't have the Lakers, Celtics, Pistons or Bulls in it since 1979.

#4 - LAKERS VS CELTICS (2010):   This, along with the 2005 Spurs/Pistons series, is the only on this list to feature the last two champions facing off.  This one was wild.  Though no game outside of Game 7 to be a nail-biter, this was a physical, chippy series.  We saw Ray Allen hit an NBA Finals record 8 three-pointers in Game 2 ... and then couldn't drop it in the ocean over the next few games.  Boston actually held a 3-2 lead before losing the series in 7.  

#3 - BULLS VS SUNS (1993):  Jordan vs Barkley.  That epic triple-OT Game 3.  Jordan going for 55 in one game.  John Paxson's game winner.  Epic series.  By the way, Michael Jordan averaged 41 points per game for this series. Unreal.

#2 - CAVALIERS VS WARRIORS (2016): The 73-win Warriors were up 3-1 in the NBA Finals yet would lose the final three games to Cleveland. LeBron James was insane in that series and made a championship winning block (and Kyrie Irving made a championship winning shot). Only time a team has ever come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a title..

#1 - LAKERS VS PISTONS (1988):  The oldest series on this list was also the best.  It went the full 7 games.  The Lakers would get the NBA's first repeat since the Celtics of the 1960s.  Game 5 at the Pontiac Silverdome had over 40,000 fans there.  And the classic Game 6 where Thomas scored 25 points in the 3rd quarter, Magic had 19 assists and about 100 scuffles.  A classic series ended with a tough as nails closeout Game 7 with the Lakers holding on for the title.

UConn, Big East and the AAC

UConn is back in the Big East.

UConn is reportedly leaving the American Athletic Conference and heading back to the Big East. With all of the conference realignment over the last 20 years this doesn't seem like a major shakeup in collegiate sports but it is an interesting moment in the second and third tier of conference movement. Let's look at how this move impacts these three parties involved:


The Huskies have had a tough time of things since 2013 when the Big East broke up. Despite being one of the original members of the Big East, when the league blew up they didn't get an invite to the new Big East nor did they go into the ACC with several of their other former members. UConn got relegated to the AAC and has taken a huge hit. The athletic department has been losing money and the men's basketball team ... despite winning a national championship ... has taken a big step back in relevancy.

The move get UConn back with old Big East foes Villanova, Georgetown, St. John's, Seton Hall and Providence (as well as "newer" old Big East foes Marquette and DePaul). That's great for them and their brand but also a big move geographically. In the AAC, UConn's closest basketball rival was Temple ... then East Carolina and Cincinnati. In the Big East there will be those shorter trips to their true rivals in the northeast. Yes, they still have Creighton, Butler, Marquette and DePaul but that's still a better deal than Tulsa, Houston, SMU, Wichita State, Tulane and the Florida schools UCF and South Florida every year.

It seems like a great fit for UConn. There are some loose ends to deal with, like a television deal that could be problematic and, most notably, where their football program will land. The AAC doesn't want to keep them in football (understandable) so the Huskies need to find a new home. They could declassify to a FBS program like several of the other Big East programs do. They could just be a independent in football with Notre Dame, BYU, Army, Liberty, New Mexico State and UMass. It isn't the most ideal situation, but it is an option.

Another option is to attempt to find a league that will take them in. This may take some time and, ironically, waiting for the AAC to find its football replacement for them. If the AAC dips into another league to get another 12th member then UConn could be able to plug right in ... or end up finalizing the domino effect that could ensue. That means the most likely landing spot for the Huskies football program will be the Conference USA, Mid American Conference or Sun Belt. Honestly, UConn may want to stay independent than go into the Sun Belt.


Since the Big East doesn't have football, this really isn't a difficult move for the league. UConn gives the league an 11th member ... albeit the only one that isn't a Catholic institution.  While UConn has fallen back a bit, the name still matters (they've won four NCAA Tournament championships since 1999) and the geographic fit is obvious. Plus having UConn in the Big East just feels right. It makes sense.

Also, the Big East is inheriting the preeminent women's college basketball program which is a huge win for them ... and the Lady Huskies who have been toiling away in a subpar league since the Big East split up. While the Big East women's league hasn't been elite, both Marquette and DePaul had solid seasons last year and the league as a whole should provide better competition for UConn.

Going back to the men for a moment, adding an 11th member means the league can have a true round-robin schedule with 20 league games. They have no rush to add a 12th member (they don't need to) but have some prime candidates should they choose to. They could raid the AAC again and bring in Wichita State (which adds a non-football school in with the western side of the league). The could look at the Atlantic 10 which is ripe with good non-football athletic programs like Saint Louis or Dayton (both Catholic universities) or maybe Dayton or VCU. Being a non-football league means there is no reason for the Big East to be a 12 team league so they have no pressure to further expand.


The AAC does have some pressure, however. The AAC has a quirky membership as it is. Including UConn, they have 12 members with the Naval Academy as a football-only member and Wichita State as a non-football member. Knowing that could lead to what comes next for the AAC.

They could stay at 11 schools. With the new college football format that you can have a league championship game despite not having 12 members ... or divisions for that matter ... means the league doesn't have to have a 12-team league to keep their football title game. The Big 12 has just ten members and no divisions with the top two teams in the standings at the end of the regular season playing for the title game. Of course, the Big 12 plays a true round robin schedule which could be difficult for the AAC. Ten conference games is a bad idea for the AAC so they would have to accept not having a true round robin in determining their regular season.  The Sun Belt has just ten members but they do split into two divisions with the winners facing off in a title game. The AAC could stay in their current division format and even move Navy to the East and have uneven divisions.

As far as basketball, having just 11 members isn't a problem as they could play a true round robin for a 20-game conference season.

Of course, adding a 12th football school would be ideal. But who?  Let's look:

Army: This seems like a great move. Army would be another football-only member like Navy and would fit nicely into the opening UConn left. It is a program on the rise and makes the AAC the spot for the service academies. The biggest problem is the logistical nightmare of the Army-Navy game. As of now, the Army-Navy game is the final game of the season and one of the most important games on college football's calendar. If Army joins the AAC, then it turns into a conference game. So how can you have a conference game that is played the week after your conference holds their championship game?  How?

My solution is easy: Don't make the Army-Navy game an official conference game. Sure, they both belong to the AAC but when they play it is considered a non-conference game. This isn't stupid since it is already a thing. This year in the ACC, North Carolina will play fellow ACC member Wake Forest in a non-conference game. It is weird, but it solves the problem. Navy is in the Western Division of the AAC so put Army in UConn's old slot in the Eastern Division. Work the scheduling out where those two never have to play in an official conference game.

Of course, Army didn't enjoy its time in the Conference USA as a football school several years back and their scheduling freedom could be a problem. Under my proposal, Army would now have an 8-game AAC schedule, a non-conference game against Navy, a non-conference game against Air Force. That would leave Army with just two slots each year to play with.

BYU: This would be a enormous stretch to think BYU would want to join. Their closest geographical neighbor in the AAC would be Wichita State. Honestly, they could probably call the Big 12 right now and ask to get in and it would probably happen. At the very least they could head to the Mountain West with fellow independent New Mexico State (or North Texas, UTEP or Rice) to form a 14-team league.

Boise State: See BYU above. And they are further west. They're good. In fact, they could try to package up with BYU to see if the Pac 12 was interested in becoming the Pac 14.

Air Force: Another service academy but the AFA would leave some nice rivalries for what exactly? They're good.

UAB: For a school that killed the football program for a year, they've been showing up well. Adding UAB would solidify that southern area with Memphis and Tulane.

North Texas: This could be a sleeping ... well, not giant. But this is a big school in the heart of Texas who has been doing well in football. Of course, SMU may not like sharing the Dallas area with another program so this could be a problem.

Florida International or Florida Atlantic: FIU and FAU have huge enrollments. FAU has been a good football program and currently has Lane Kiffin as their head coach. That could change in the drop of a hat but they are still an aggressive program. And while the AAC is well represented in Florida with UCF (Orlando) and South Florida (Tampa), they don't possess the Miami area.

Marshall: Great history who feel like they've taken a step back by leaving the MAC for CUSA. Huntington would bring in that western Pennsylvania area as well as a proud West Virginia fan base with them.

Charlotte: The 49ers football program is less than 10 years old and its basketball program has been blowing in the wind since the Conference USA restructured after a mass exodus to the Big East in the mid-2000s. Still, Charlotte is the biggest city in the Carolinas and is a fertile recruiting area that is somewhat being served by East Carolina.  The AAC is made up of metro areas so Charlotte makes a ton of sense there.

Buffalo: After all these CUSA schools, let's look at the MAC. Buffalo has been great on the football field as well as the basketball court. They are hot. Geographically the Bulls are a bit of an outlier in the MAC though joining the AAC wouldn't do much to help that. Still, the AAC is viewed in a better light than the MAC.

Right now UMass is an independent in football and an A10 member in other sports. They could neatly fit in the AAC. They'd keep a presence in the New England area that UConn left and bring more of a Boston feel to the league. UMass has been irrelevant in both football and basketball for quite some time so this would be a marriage of convenience more than an advancement of the league.

Georgia State: This would be a strictly business decision for the AAC. Don't get me wrong: Georgia State has had basketball success but has been pretty bad at the football playing. But it brings in Atlanta and the AAC has no members in Georgia.

There are a lot of options on the table for the AAC though none of them are earth shattering. It will be difficult to replace UConn's basketball value -- or even come close to it. Football-wise, they should be able to upgrade since UConn hasn't exactly mattered on the gridiron and Storrs isn't a preferred destination. So adding in Miami, Buffalo, Charlotte, Atlanta, Birmingham or the New York City area fits with much of the AAC mold (they have members in Cincinnati, Orlando, Tampa, Memphis, Houston, Philadelphia, Dallas, New Orleans, Tulsa and Wichita) and will probably be what they look for in a new member.

I think they look at Army to join as a football-only member and may look to add another school to play in the other sports (Davidson? VCU?).

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Please Move The Astros Back to the National League

Last fall I was sitting here watching the ALCS with the Boston Red Sox taking on the Houston Astros.

Yeah, I hate the Astros are in the American League.

In 2013, the Astros made their debut in the AL. Major League Baseball decided to have 15 teams in both the NL and AL so they moved one National League team to the Junior Circuit. When the Astros were being sold, part of the deal was Houston would move from the six-team NL Central to the previously four team AL West. Sure, it made six five-team divisions but it was very unpopular with Houston fans and baseball purists in general.

It was the first time a team switched leagues since 1998 when the Milwaukee Brewers left the AL Central for the NL Central when baseball expanded to Arizona and Tampa Bay. And there is my point.

If baseball wanted to move a team to the American League, it should have been the Brewers. Milwaukee spent just 15 seasons as a National League team as opposed to over 50 for the Astros. The Brewers were off the table since Commissioner Bud Selig's family owned the franchise and the Brewers loved their rivalry with the Chicago Cubs. Still, it would've been the right thing to do.

With Milwaukee moving back to the AL, I would place them in the Central and move Kansas City to the West. I'm sure Royals fans wouldn't love that, but they were an AL West team for many years before realignment in 1994 and the Rangers would sort of be their geographic partner.


NL EAST: Atlanta, Miami, New York Mets, Philadelphia, Washington
NL CENTRAL: Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati, Houston, Pittsburgh, St. Louis
NL WEST: Arizona, Colorado, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego, San Francisco

AL EAST: Baltimore, Boston, New York Yankees, Tampa Bay, Toronto
AL CENTRAL: Chicago White Sox, Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee, Minnesota
AL WEST: Kansas City, Los Angeles Angels, Oakland, Seattle, Texas

If not Milwaukee, since Selig didn't want it and moving the Royals to the AL West seems a bit mean, then it should have been Colorado or Arizona. The Rockies would give a nice bridge to the baseball island that is Seattle. But, at the time, they had spent 20 years in the NL while Arizona spent just 15. Arizona would also be a better bridge for the Texas Rangers and has regularly rebranded the franchise while the Rockies have pretty much stayed the course.

The damage would be that the Astros would move to the NL West. It isn't the worst idea since Houston was in the old NL West with the Dodgers, Giants and Padres ... but they would be in a worse situation than pairing with the Rangers in the AL West.


NL EAST: Atlanta, Miami, New York Mets, Philadelphia, Washington
NL CENTRAL: Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, St. Louis
NL WEST: Colorado, Houston, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego, San Francisco

AL EAST: Baltimore, Boston, New York Yankees, Tampa Bay, Toronto
AL CENTRAL: Chicago White Sox, Cleveland, Detroit, Kansas City, Minnesota
AL WEST: Arizona, Los Angeles Angels, Oakland, Seattle, Texas

Sportz' 2019 NBA Mock Draft

Mock drafts usually are futile. Trades happen and all it takes is one weird move that completely changes the complexity of what happens. Still, mock drafts can provide a guide to where your favorite players can expect to be selected and the kind of talent your favorite NBA team could be looking at drafting.

So, here we go:

1-PELICANS: Zion Williamson, Duke

There's no way this won't happen.

2-GRIZZLIES: Ja Morant, Murray State

Trading away Mike Conley all but puts the lock on this one.

3-KNICKS: RJ Barrett, Duke

I honestly think he'll be the best player to come out of this draft.

4-LAKERS: Darius Garland, Vanderbilt

Pelicans will get this pick and Garland has been compared to Dame Lillard.

5-CAVALIERS: DeAndre Hunter, Virginia

A do-it-all kind of player that adds that glue guy to a team that's rebuilding

6-SUNS: Coby White, North Carolina

Suns used to hold the market on point guards but need a guy like White to run their fast attack.

7-BULLS: Cam Reddish, Duke

If he is engaged, he has the sweetest stroke in the draft.

8-HAWKS: Jarrett Culver, Texas Tech

Hawks have three 1st rounders so they should take a solid player (who is the best on the board) here.

9-WIZARDS: Nassir Little, North Carolina

Wizards have a ton of work to do and if Little reaches his potential he will be a steal.

10-HAWKS: Jaxson Hayes, Texas

A lanky big man who can run alongside Trey Young and the youngsters.

11-TIMBERWOLVES: Sekou Doumbouya, France

Wolves have a lot of questions heading into the offseason. Doumbouya would be one less one.

12-HORNETS: Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga

Hornets have been more miss than hit on drafting big men. Hopefully that changes now.

13-HEAT: Keldon Johnson, Kentucky

The Heat needs to add more scoring to the perimeter and Johnson can do that.

14-CELTICS: PJ Washington, Kentucky

With Al Horford likely gone, the C's will need some bigs who can provide scoring and defense.

15-PISTONS: Brandon Clarke, Gonzaga

Clarke is that kind of dawg that Pistons fans love.

16-MAGIC: Kevin Porter, USC

Some scouts say Porter could be the breakout star of this draft.

17-NETS: Tyler Herro, Kentucky
Herro is known as a shooter and the Nets seem to want to play a style that loves shooting.

18-PACERS: Carsen Edwards, Purdue

Local guy and someone you can put in the backcourt alongside Oladipo.

19-SPURS: Goga Bitadze, Georgia

San Antonio loves versatile big men and Bitadze is very skilled for a guy his size.

20-CELTICS: Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Virginia Tech

A two way player who could be an Avery Bradley type for Boston.

21-THUNDER: Cam Johnson, North Carolina

Great shooter and a solid defender who is 23 and can help a contender right away.

22-CELTICS: Bol Bol, Oregon

With three 1st rounders, Boston can take a chance on a guy like Bol Bol.

23-GRIZZLIES: Bruno Fernando, Maryland

Jazz got Conley in this trade and the Grizz take a very talented big man who plays a bit old school.

24-SIXERS: Ty Jerome, Virginia

Philly could lose a lot of backcourt guys in free agency and could use a backup combo guard.

25-TRAIL BLAZERS: Romeo Langford, Indiana

This skilled guard is just too good too pass this late in the draft.

26-CAVALIERS: Mfiondu Kabengele, Florida State

A big guy who can stretch the floor.  Again, the Cavs are just trying to get talent.

27-NETS: Grant Williams, Tennessee

A tough guy who is just a winner. Good for a team that is adding depth.

28-WARRIORS: Nicolas Claxton, Georgia

A big guy and a bit of a project. With the 2019-2020 as a sort of rest season, he could be a perfect fit.

29-SPURS: Chuma Okeke, Auburn

Tore his ACL during the NCAA Tournament but is exactly the kind of cat the Spurs love.

30-BUCKS: Dylan Windler, Belmont

If Milwaukee loses Malcolm Brogden in free agency, Windler could be a nice replacement.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Sportz Assassin's Sweet 16 Preview

Let's just jump into it ...

CHALK CHALK: This Sweet 16 still has all four No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 seeds and two No. 4 seeds. The only surprises would be No. 5 seeded Auburn and No. 12 seeded Oregon. Still, all sixteen teams who were favored to win in the round of 32 did so. The only other year that all the 1s, 2s and 3s made it this far was 2009.

COULD THE ACC DO THE IMPOSSIBLE: The ACC has five teams still alive and has a legitimate shot to have four teams in the Final Four. Now, that would buck every trend imaginable and involve beating a lot of really good teams but it is plausible. Duke, Virginia and North Carolina are No. 1 seeds are arguably the three best teams in the tournament. Florida State sits in the West Region with Gonzaga in their sites ... a Zags team they beat in the Sweet 16 last year.  Again, this isn't a likely scenario but the conference has already achieved some big things already.

IS IT TIME FOR THE SEC TO GAIN ITS RESPECT: The SEC is usually looked down upon as a league that isn't a major power in basketball. Yeah, they have Kentucky and there is always a team or two that makes noise but it no one takes it seriously. Maybe we should. Kentucky is back in the Sweet 16, Auburn just spanked Kansas and is as hot as anybody and LSU has played well despite all the smoke around their program. All three could get to the Final Four and could make a title run.

CAN THE BIG TEN FINALLY WIN A TITLE:  It is amazing to think that the Big Ten hasn't won a national championship since Michigan State did in 2000. In fact, that Spartans title is the only championship that league has won over the last 30 years. Stunning. That doesn't mean they haven't been close -- three times over the last six years a Big Ten team has played in the national championship game and seven times since that Michigan State title. Michigan State, Michigan and Purdue are still in the thick of the race.

PJ WASHINGTON'S FOOT:  Every tournament seemingly has an injury we're watching and this year it is Kentucky's Washington. He missed the Wildcats' first two tournament games with a bum foot and has been on the bench in a cast. Getting past Abilene Christian and Wofford is one thing, but dealing with Houston and North Carolina or Auburn is another. Even if he can play, how effective will he be? It is the difference between getting to the Final Four or not.

WHO DOES THE NATION LOOK TO: There is no Cinderella story here. Sure, Oregon is a double-digit seed but they were in the Final Four two years ago and won the Pac 12 tournament. Everyone else in the Sweet 16 were favored in both their games. With big, bad blue bloods like Duke, North Carolina and Kentucky still around while Michigan State, Michigan, Gonzaga and Virginia are back again. Houston, to me, seems like the team to latch on to if you want to root for an underdog. They will play Kentucky on Friday with (possibly) North Carolina on Sunday if they win. This is their first Sweet 16 since the Akeem Olajuwon days of the early 1980s (1984, to be exact) and they represent the American Athletic Conference.

CAN VIRGINIA KEEP IT GOING: No program has had the kind of skepticism as Virginia the last few years. They have been winning ACC championships over the last four years but have no Final Fours to show for it. They were the first No. 1 seed to lose to a 16-seed ever in 2018. They exorcised that demon a bit just by getting to the Sweet 16 this year. Still, they need to at least get to a Final Four before we can get off their back. Of all the top seeds, they have the easiest game in the next round (Oregon). Lose that and we lose some more faith in them.

WHERE IS DUKE'S HEAD AT?:  Everyone just saw Duke nearly lose to UCF on Sunday and suddenly all these red flags were raised. Those flags were always there. They are mainly a two-man team, they are not a great three point shooting team and they aren't deep. That isn't new. Also, just because they nearly lost to UCF doesn't mean they can't win the championship. We've seen plenty of instances where a team won a very close game and gone on to win the whole thing. This could be the punch in the face that keeps them on their toes.

THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT GONZAGA: Speaking of lacking respect yet having a ton of talent is the Zags. They very well could be the most talented team in the nation and no one is noticing. Sure, they've spent their last ten weeks playing West Coast Conference games and the last time anyone noticed them they put up an epic dud in a loss to Saint Mary's in the WCC tournament championship game, but this team is loaded. The Zags spent those weeks in WCC play just destroying conference foes and, lest you forget, the only team to have beaten Duke at full strength. While the other title contenders had some hiccups during the first weekend, the Bulldogs punished their opponents. Yet no one is talking about them. Hardly at all. That may be what they want.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Sportz Assassin's East Region Preview

TEAM TO BEAT: Duke. They have Zion Williams and you don't. 

TEAM THAT WILL WIN THE REGION: Duke. The Blue Devils should cruise to the regional final where they'd likely play Michigan State. Duke is the worst shooting three point team in the field but their athleticism gets them past Sparty. 

TEAM TO WATCH FOR (LESS THAN A NO. 3 SEED): Virginia Tech. They beat Duke already (albeit without Zion Williamson) and are getting Justin Robinson back for the tournament. 

YOUR CINDERELLA: Belmont. Their offense is relentless. They run, fire up threes make tons of passes and try to wear you down. They get Maryland up first who are talented, but young. They then could get an LSU team that is going through a lot lately before hitting the Sweet 16.  They're really, really good.   

WORST SEEDING ERROR: Michigan State. They certainly deserved a No. 2 seed, but they shouldn't have been placed in Duke's region. The selection committee explained they wanted to reward the Spartans by keeping them closer to home. But you gave them the region with the top overall seed. That's not right. I'm sure they rather have been in Louisville or Kansas City instead.    

HOME COURT ADVANTAGE: Maryland. If the Terps can get past their first weekend matchups in Jacksonville, they'll get to play right near home in Washington DC. Really, there are a variety of teams that like being in the DC region (VCU, Duke, Liberty, Virginia Tech). 

MUST WATCH GAME: Maryland vs Belmont. Maryland has NBA talent, but they are also very young. No one in their primary rotation has ever won a college tournament game of any kind. Belmont, as mentioned above, is legit. They are unafraid and have an offense that constantly attacks. With the Terps' size bother the Bruins?

MUST WATCH (POTENTIAL) SECOND ROUND GAME: LSU vs Maryland.  If the Terps can get past Belmont, they'll likely get an LSU team that won the SEC regular season title. Both teams are talented in different ways (big Bruno Fernando and guard Tremont Waters going at it).

Sportz Assassin's South Region Preview

TEAM TO BEAT: Virginia. Here we are again. The Cavaliers have are back as a No. 1 seed yet again and the last time we saw them they became the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed. We all know that the pressure is on for Virginia. They need to show us that they aren't the ... for the lack of a better word ... chokers many feel they are. 

TEAM THAT WILL WIN THE REGION: Tennessee. This Vols team is very good and very experienced. They spend several weeks as the No. 1 team in the country before a sound defeat to Kentucky derailed them. They've beaten Kentucky twice since then and haven't lost a bad game all year. They can take down Virginia. 

TEAM TO WATCH FOR (LESS THAN A NO. 3 SEED): Villanova. Never underestimate the heart of a champion. The Wildcats are notoriously a boom-or-bust proposition. They either win it all or get knocked out early in the tournament. Hard to believe that this 'Nova team is being slept on. They won the Big East regular season title and the Big East tournament. They can do some damage if the threes go in.  

YOUR CINDERELLA: Oregon. The Ducks were supposed to be really good this year but things didn't pan out that way. Still, they are coached by the grossly underrated Dana Altman and have guys who were part of their Final Four run of 2017. They won the Pac-12 tournament championship and now get a Wisconsin team that just hasn't been sharp of late. Pull off a patented 5-12 upset here and they could get a dinged up Kansas State squad.   

WORST SEEDING ERROR: Wisconsin. I'm just not that big on Wisconsin. They get a No. 5 seed ahead of Villanova won won the Big East regular season and tournament titles and over Cincinnati who just dismantled Houston in the AAC championship game and hasn't had a bad loss all year.    

HOME COURT ADVANTAGE: Cincinnati. Bearcats fans have to love that they play their first weekend in Columbus and the a second weekend down the river in Louisville. 

MUST WATCH GAME: Cincinnati vs Iowa. Cincinnati pays tough nosed defense and goes up against Iowa who is all about their offense. I love watching two strengths go at each other. On the other side, Iowa's defense is horrible and will be tasked with stopping Jarron Cumberland.

MUST WATCH (POTENTIAL) SECOND ROUND GAME: Tennessee vs Cincinnati.  If the Bearcats can get past Iowa, they'll get a great game with Tennessee. That would be a tough, physical game.

Sportz Assassin's Midwest Region Preview

TEAM TO BEAT: North Carolina. The Tar Heels are one of the hottest teams in the nation. They've beaten Duke twice and nearly beat a Zion-led Blue Devils a third time. They check all the boxes -- they are experienced, have one and done talent, a Hall of Fame coach, pound the boards, nail threes and are near the top of the nation in assists. 

TEAM THAT WILL WIN THE REGION: North Carolina. To me, this region comes down to the probable North Carolina-Kentucky game in the regional final. When they first met, Kentucky took advantage of Carolina's young point guard and actually outrebounded the Heels. Both teams are much improved but I give the edge to UNC.. 

TEAM TO WATCH FOR (LESS THAN A NO. 3 SEED): Auburn. The Tigers are hot right now, beating Tennessee in their season finale and then blowing through the SEC tournament (beating the Vols again). Their guards are playing confident and they've got the horses to stick with Kansas, North Carolina and Kentucky.  

YOUR CINDERELLA: Wofford. They will sneak up on no one, but this is a darn good team. They are smart with the ball and hit an insane amount of threes. They have that Cinderella star in Fletcher Magee who is afraid of no one. If the Terriers can shock Kentucky, they could go along way..   

WORST SEEDING ERROR: Kansas. Two things here. Kansas doesn't deserve to be a No. 4 seed with Auburn ... who won the SEC tournament ... a No. 5. Iowa State is a No. 6 and then spanked Kansas in the Big 12 title games. Then how did they get put in the Kansas City region? The Jayhawks were overseeded.    

HOME COURT ADVANTAGE: Kansas. If Kansas can get past Northeastern and Auburn, they will play the second weekend in their backyard. That is a huge advantage against North Carolina and Kentucky if they were their opponents. 

MUST WATCH GAME: Wofford vs Seton Hall. Wofford's threes against Seton Hall's Myles Powell. The Pirates defense will be tested against the Terriers relentless perimeter offense. Should be a fun one to watch.

MUST WATCH (POTENTIAL) SECOND ROUND GAME: Houston vs Iowa State.  Nearly every likely matchup in the second round should be fun to watch, Houston going up against the Big 12 champion should be the best. The Cyclones were limping into the conference tournament when they caught fire. Houston was coasting along until they looked off against Cincinnati in the AAC final. There's NBA talent on the floor in this one and should be a knock 'em out kind of game.

Sportz Assassin's West Region Preview

TEAM TO BEAT: Gonzaga. The Zags have spent the bulk of the season at or near the top of the rankings. They had a bad week back in December when they lost to Tennessee and North Carolina but then cruised through the WCC season punishing opponents. We all were believing in them until a surprising loss to Saint Mary's in the WCC championship game has people skeptical again. . 

TEAM THAT WILL WIN THE REGION: Gonzaga. I'm not big on "a loss may actually help" thinking but this should put the Zags on notice. This is one of the most talented teams in the nation and if they weren't in out west then maybe people would treat them as such.  There are landmines in their way but I think the Bulldogs get it donw. 

TEAM TO WATCH FOR (LESS THAN A NO. 3 SEED): Florida State. The Seminoles beat Gonzaga in last year's tournament and could have a chance to pop them in the Sweet 16 this time around. They are a very deep team that seemingly is stocked with athletic 6'7 guys. They are big, they are quick and they've been the fourth best team in an ACC that produced three No. 1 seeds.  

YOUR CINDERELLA: Syracuse. Okay, so I just sang the praises of Gonzaga and told you to watch our for Florida State, but Syracuse is a possible Cinderella. They've done well in their last two tournaments and they could match up well with Gonzaga. That zone is hard to prepare for so it could cause opponents some trouble..   

WORST SEEDING ERROR: Nevada. Honestly I don't see any errors in this region, so I'm just going to say that Nevada was a top ten team all year long, lost to San Diego State twice and at Utah State and then become a No. 7 seed?. Just nitpicking    

HOME COURT ADVANTAGE: Gonzaga. With games in Salt Lake City and then Anaheim, the Zags should have a good fan advantage. Only Montana, Arizona State and Nevada are true western teams in this bracket. 

MUST WATCH GAME: Marquette vs Murray State. What a treat it will be to see Murray State's Ja Morant go up against Marquette's Markus Howard. It is rare to get two guys going at it like this in the opening round. Both are an enormous part of their school's offenses and should have big games in this one.

MUST WATCH (POTENTIAL) SECOND ROUND GAME: Gonzaga vs Syracuse.  As mentioned before, Gonzaga's outstanding offense against Jim Boeheim's zone. The Zags have the guys who can beat it but it is an adjustment. Syracuse beat Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium when Zion Williamson was playing so they aren't afraid of playing a big time team..

Friday, March 15, 2019

ESPN Just Doesn't Care If You Know They Have a Crush On Duke

This was the graphic ESPN used to advertise the Duke-Syracuse ACC Tournament quarterfinal game. During the first ACC game of the day, Virginia vs NC State, ESPN showed a promo of Zion Williamson dunking and dunking some more ... and dunking ... shouting ... and dunking.  Then closed with this.

Um ... I guess Duke was the only team playing in that game.

Sorry Syracuse.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Why Do We Need To Name a G.O.A.T.?

For whatever reason, we are stuck in that age old tradition or having to determine who the greatest player is.  Sports is all about debating players, teams and eras so it stands to reason that arguing over who's the greatest has become a sport of its own.

It has been a big topic of late. In February, Tom Brady and his New England Patriots won their sixth Super Bowl championship -- two more than any other quarterback. He owns a slew of records and certainly finds his name among the NFL greats. The more he does, the more the conversation happens.

In basketball, here we go with the LeBron James-Michael Jordan argument again. LeBron has been climbing the all-time rankings in assists and points (just passing Jordan for fourth place) which strengthen LeBron's fans' arguments and makes Jordan fans dig in a little more. This isn't a new debate (it seems we've been having it a lot since the Cavaliers won the 2016 NBA Finals) and will likely be going on as long as there is an NBA ... or until the next guy approaches that level of excellence and joins the argument.

Again, this isn't new. Joe DiMaggio or Ted Williams. Mantle or Ruth. The pound for pound greatest boxer. Gretzky or Howe. Wilt or Russell. The only thing that has changed is our ability to view those great exploits due to video tape and YouTube and the myriad of statistics and analytics we now use to determine who is more valuable. Staples like batting average, points per game and touchdown runs just tell the whole story anymore.

There in-lies the other issue about these kinds of debates. We all want to hold on to our era.  Our guy. What we saw and how we felt when we saw it. Most people -- not all -- that say LeBron is the greatest NBA player ever tend to be in their 30s or younger. Jordan defenders tend to be in their 40s or older. You also have those older school guys who will still say Russell, Wilt or Kareem. For a 50 year old, it is near sacrilege to say that anyone is better than Jordan and dismisses today's NBA. For a younger fan, they may not appreciate the magnitude of what Jordan did in the era where he played.

The problem is that we miss out on greatness. While it is fine to celebrate Jordan's legacy, sometimes we squash the accomplishments of another. We miss out on witnessing (no pun intended) LeBron's era of basketball. And those who just wave off what Jordan was are missing out on their history.

I'll soon be 44 years old and the memories and feelings of watching Magic Johnson will probably never be duplicated. Magic is one of the greats but is rarely considered the greatest. That's fine with me because he's my favorite athlete in any sport. And that doesn't stop me from admiring what Jordan was doing or what LeBron is doing now.

While you are spending all your energy fighting an impossible fight and missing out on life, there could be another guy in twenty years that will get that fan base ready to proclaim him as the greatest of all time. 

Monday, February 4, 2019

Revisiting "53 Stops to Super Bowl LIII"

It is en vogue to call Super Bowl LIII the worst Super Bowl ever. If you have read through my "53 Stops to Super Bowl LIII" then you would see at #14 my Worst Super Bowls Ever.  Super Bowl V is still the worst ever (there were 11 turnovers in that game, a ton of penalties and a defensive player on the losing team won the MVP award) and there are other bad ones as well. That doesn't mean that next year, last night's game won't appear on a new list.

And that gets me to this: what happened last night that went with or against some of those 53 points?  Let's take a look:

#52-PATRIOTS AND RAMS DO IT AGAIN: Patriots-Rams became the 7th rematch in Super Bowl history. Of those seven, Super Bowl LIII was the fourth where one team won both games. Two of them (Dolphins-Redskins, Patriots-Eagles) are splits. And the Cowboys-Steelers have met three times with Pittsburgh winning twice.

#46-AFC LOVES FEBRUARY:  The AFC is now 11-6 in February Super Bowls.

#45-SCORE EARLY AND OFTEN: Well, there was no 'often' last night. But the Patriots did score first, making the team who scored first is now 36-17 in the Super Bowl. The team who scores the first touchdown is 39-14. Teams who lead at half are now 39-11.

#44-PATRIOTS AND RAMS ARE BACK: The Pats won their sixth Super Bowl, tying them with the Steelers for tops all-time. They are now 6-5 in Super Bowls. The Rams are now 1-3 in the Super Bowl.

#42-TOM BRADY: Look, he extended his many records and added a few more along the way ... most notably winning his record sixth Super Bowl.

#37-NFC EAST TOPS THEM ALL: The AFC East just won their 9th Super Bowl, passing the AFC North/Central for most by a division. The NFC East tops them all with 13 titles.

#27-BEEN THERE, DONE THAT: We've had 23 Super Bowls where a quarterback with Super Bowl experience faced off against a newbie. Brady's win makes the record 13-10 for the veteran.

#25-STICK WITH THE FAVORITES: The favorite is now 34-19 in the Super Bowl.

#23-THE NFC OWNS THE COIN TOSS: The Rams won the coin toss, making it 19 out of the last 22 where that conference won it. The winner of the coin toss is now 6-16 in the last 22 Super Bowls and 24-29 overall.

#22-KICKING IT UP, PICKING IT UP AND MAKING SURE YOU SCORE: There has been at least one successful field goal in 51 of 53 Super Bowls. Teams that have been shut out in at least one half (the Rams were shut out in the first half) are now 1-20 in the Super Bowl.

#21-AFC EAST VS NFC WEST: The AFC East is now 3-1 against the NFC West in Super Bowls.

#19-WEARING WHITE IS KEY: In one of my favorite Super Bowl stats that really is so coincidental is the fact that the team wearing white jerseys have now won 13 of the last 14 Super Bowls are are 35-18 overall.

#11-DON'T TRAIL BY DOUBLE DIGITS: Okay, the Patriots gained a double-digit lead with less than two minutes remaining in the game, but it still triggers this stat. Teams down by 10-points or more in a Super Bowl are now 4-45. It also means that at least one team has faced a double-digit deficit in 47 of 53 Super Bowls.

#2-AVENGING A LOSS: The Patriots join the Cowboys (Super Bowl VI) and Dolphins (Super Bowl VII) to win a Super Bowl the year after losing a Super Bowl.

#1-WHO IS GONNA WIN: I really need to stop picking these things.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

53 Stops to Super Bowl LIII

Every year since Super Bowl XL, I have used this blog for my "Stops To Super Bowl" list.  Every year, I create a list of smart, dumb, inane and chat worthy items for you to use in any banter leading up to and during the Super Bowl.

This year, it is 53 Stops to Super Bowl LIII and I'm back with some more (and some of the same) little items for you about the upcoming big game.

#53-FOOTBALL AND BASEBALL RIVALS: The Patriots and Rams will meet for the Super Bowl just months after the Red Sox and Dodgers met for the World Series. It is the first time since Baltimore faced New York in the 1969 World Series and Super Bowl that two cities have had their NFL and MLB teams face off for the titles in the same season or calendar year. In 1969, the New York Mets beat the Baltimore Orioles for the World Series title while the New York Jets beat the Baltimore Colts for the NFL title. 

That's good news for the Patriots as the Red Sox beat the Dodgers in last fall's classic.
#52-PATRIOTS AND RAMS DO IT AGAIN:  The Patriots and Rams will play in their second Super Bowl against each other. This will be the seventh pair to have a Super Bowl rematch and the seventh game to be a rematch.

These two met in Super Bowl XXXVI in New Orleans with the Pats winning, 20-17.

Other Super Bowl rematches are the Dolphins-Redskins, 49ers-Bengals, Cowboys-Bills, Giants-Patriots, Patriots-Eagles and Steelers-Cowboys. Only the Steelers-Cowboys have met three times in the Super Bowl.

History doesn't tell you much about who will win. The 49ers beat the Bengals twice, as did the Cowboys over the Bills and Giants over the Patriots. The Steelers beat the Cowboys twice before Dallas beat Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XXX. The Redskins would win their rematch with the Dolphins ten years after their first meeting. And the Eagles and Patriots split their two meetings.

.The Los Angeles Rams are trying to become the third franchise to win a Super Bowl in two different cities. The St. Louis Rams won Super Bowl XXXIV and lost Super Bowl XIV when the franchise was in Los Angeles. Only the Raiders (Oakland, Los Angeles) and the Colts (Baltimore, Indianapolis) have won Super Bowls in two cities. 
#50-BELICHICK KNOWS SUPER BOWLS:  Bill Belichick heads to his ninth Super Bowl appearance as a head coach. Belichick's ninth appearance and five Super Bowl titles are best all-time.
Belichick was also the defensive coordinator for the Giants in Super Bowls XXI and XXV and an assistant head coach for the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI. That's twelve Super Bowls he's coached in.
Amazingly, in his 19 seasons as the Patriots head coach, Belichick has taken his team to 13 AFC Championship games including a current streak of eight in a row.  If Belichick wins, he will be the oldest head coach to win a Super Bowl, passing Tom Coughlin (only Marv Levy was older when coaching in a Super Bowl). 
Rams' head coach Sean McVay has no prior Super Bowl experience, but his grandfather was John helped construct five Super Bowl champions as the vice president/director of football operations for the San Francisco 49ers. Sean McVay was a sophomore in high school with Brady and Belichick won their first Super Bowl in 2002.
The Patriots are in their third straight Super Bowl. That ties them with the Miami Dolphins of 1971, 1972 and 1973 for second all-time in consecutive Super Bowl appearances. The 1990-1993 Buffalo Bills hold their record with four consecutive Super Bowl appearances, though they never won the championship.
Prior to the Super Bowl era, the Packers (1960-1962; 1965-1967), Giants (1933-1935; 1961-1963), Browns (1950-1955), Rams (1949-1951), Eagles (1947-1949) and Bears (1940-1943) all went to at least three straight NFL championship games. 


Sean McVay is seen as an offensive savant of sorts and there are plenty of weird facts about him that are fun to look at. McVay was a high school sophomore when Tom Brady won his first Super Bowl in 2002. McVay won the Georgia 4A High School Offensive Player of the Year ... beating out Calvin Johnson (by the way, this Super Bowl is being held in Georgia). The Rams' lone Super Bowl title was when they beat the Tennessee Titans, who were coached by Jeff Fisher. McVay attended that game. McVay took over the Rams in 2016 after Fisher was fired.

#47-SUPER BOWL SQUARES: Everyone participates in Super Bowl squares. You pay your money, write your name in the square and let fate decided not only what numbers you get but if they are any good. The digit you probably don't want? Two. That has been the final digit in the final score just four times ever. The number you want? Zero, obviously.  There has been 208 quarters in 52 Super Bowls and here are the six most likely combinations:

20: 0,7
17: 0,3
16: 0,0
15: 3,7
12: 0,4
11: 4,7

The most common numbers for the first quarter is 0,0 (13 times), halftime is 0,7 and 3,7 (5 times), third quarter is 3,7 (5 times) and final score 4,7 (5 times).

There have been 13 different number combinations that have never appeared at the end of any quarterback in Super Bowl history. 

These are: 1,1 ... 1,2 ... 2,3 ... 2,5 ... 2,6 ... 3,5 ... 4,5 ... 5,5 ... 5,6 ... 5,8 ... 7,8 ... 8,8 ... 8,9.

The Super Bowl will be held on February 3rd.  Since the first February Super Bowl in 2002, the AFC is 10-6 in those games held in the calendar's shortest month:

Super Bowl XXXVI: Patriots beat Rams on February 3, 2002

Super Bowl XXXVIII: Patriots beat Panthers on February 1, 2004
Super Bowl XXXIX: Patriots beat Eagles on February 6, 2005
Super Bowl XL: Steelers beat Seahawks on February 5, 2006
Super Bowl XLI: Colts beat Bears on February 4, 2007
Super Bowl XLII: Giants beat Patriots on February 3, 2008
Super Bowl XLIII: Steelers beat Cardinals on February 1, 2009
Super Bowl XLIV: Saints beat Colts on February 7, 2010
Super Bowl XLV: Packers beat Steelers on February 6, 2011
Super Bowl XLVI:  Giants beat Patriots on February 5, 2012
Super Bowl XLVII: Ravens beat 49ers on February 3, 2013
Super Bowl XLVIII: Seahawks beat Broncos on February 2, 2014
Super Bowl XLIX: Patriots beat Seahawks on February 1, 2015
Super Bowl 50: Broncos beat Panthers on February 7, 2016
Super Bowl LI: Patriots beat Falcons on February 5, 2017
Super Bowl LII: Eagles beat Patriots on February 4, 2018

: Getting on the board early in the Super Bowl means you have a 67% chance of winning.

*The team who scores first in a Super Bowl is 35-17.

*Teams who score at least 30 points are 27-3. Only the Cowboys (SB XIII), 49ers (SB XLVII) and Patriots (SB LII) scored at least 30 points and lost.
*Teams that score the first TD are 38-14.
*Teams leading at the half are 38-11 (there have been three ties)

  The New England Patriots are making their record 11th Super Bowl appearance.  That is three more than the Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys. New England is 5-5 in their appearances, beating the Rams, Panthers, Eagles, Seahawks and Falcons and losing to the Bears, Packers, Eagles and Giants twice.  The Los Angeles Rams are making their 4th Super Bowl, beating the Titans and losing to the Steelers and Patriots in their previous appearances.

A lot is on the line, historically, for the Patriots in this one. A Super Bowl victory would tie them with the Steelers for most all-time. A loss would give them six, breaking a tie with the Broncos for most all time

An Rams loss makes them the seventh franchise to lose three Super Bowls (Broncos, Patriots, Bills, Vikings, Cowboys and Dolphins). A win makes them the 13th franchise to win multiple Super Bowls. 

: Since Super Bowl XXXVIII (a span of 16 years), the AFC has been represented by Peyton Manning, Tom Brady or Ben Roethlisberger 15 times. Brady is making his record 9th in that time (Manning has 4 appearances have been in that time, Big Ben 3). The lone off year was Super Bowl XLVII when the Ravens' Joe Flacco won it.

In that same 16 year span, the NFC has had 14 different QBs. The only repeats on that side are Eli Manning and Russell Wilson, who each went twice. Those four AFC quarterbacks have won 10 of the 15 previous Super Bowls.

Brady is trying to win his 6th Super Bowl, two more than quarterbacks Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana.

 I know people grow weary about hearing the greatness of Tom Brady, but these Super Bowl stats are unreal:
Most attempts in a game (62). He owns the top two passing yards records for Super Bowls. He has thrown 357 passes in the Super Bowl (Jim Kelly is 2nd with 155). He has completed 235 passes in the Super Bowl (Peyton Manning is 2nd with 103). He's thrown for 2,576 yards in Super Bowls (Kurt Warner is 2nd with 1,156). He's thrown 18 TD passes (Joe Montana is 2nd with 11). 

This will be the 20th time CBS will televise the Super Bowl, breaking a tie with NBC for most all-time by a network. CBS televised the first Super Bowl. Jim Nantz and Tony Romo will call the game, Tracy Wolfson and Evan Washburn will be the sideline reporters and Jim Nantz will perform the trophy ceremony. 

Nantz will be making his 5th appearance as the play-by-play voice for a Super Bowl and is also known as the voice of the Final Four as well as the Masters. Romo will make his first Super Bowl appearance as a color analyst and never went to a Super Bowl as a player. John Madden is the only person to have called Super Bowls on all four major networks (ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC).

 Every Super Bowl has that moment.  That one moment.  Sure, some have several memorable moments, but each has that one.  Whether it is Wide Right.  Or David Tyree. Or Julian Edelman. Or Lynn Swann's catch.  Or Jackie Smith's drop.  Doug Williams' 2nd quarter or One Yard Short.

Check out my list of
 each Super Bowl's top moment.  

 John Parry. Parry will be starting his second Super Bowl. His last Super Bowl as a referee was Super Bowl XLVI when the Giants beat the Patriots. He was also a side-judge for Super Bowl XLI when the Colts beat the Bears.  This season, Parry reffed the Rams' wins over the Lions in December and their playoff win over the Cowboys. He also worked the Patriots' loss to the Steelers in Week 15 -- the last time New England lost a game this season. .

 The only divisions that don't have all of their members with appearances in a Super Bowl are the AFC North (Browns), AFC South (Texas, Jaguars) and NFC North (Lions).

The NFC East is the only division that has all their members with Super Bowl championships. The AFC West (Chargers) and AFC East (Bills) have seen three of their four members win a title. The NFC East is the only division to have each of their members in multiple Super Bowls. The Cowboys have been to eight, the Redskins and Giants have been to five and the Eagles have been to three.

  The NFC East easily has the most Super Bowl champions than any other division. The 13 titles won bests the AFC North and AFC East for the top honors. The NFC East dominated from 1986-1995. In that span, the Giants ('86, '90), Redskins ('87, '91) and Cowboys ('92, '93, '95) went to and won 7 of 10 Super Bowls during that decade. The only other Super Bowl champ was San Francisco ('88, '89, '94).

Here's a rundown of the divisions:
13-NFC EAST (Cowboys-5, Giants-4, Redskins-3, Eagles-1)
8-AFC NORTH (Steelers-6, Ravens-2)
8-AFC EAST (Patriots-5, Dolphins-2, Jets-1)
7-NFC WEST (Niners-5, Rams-1, Seahawks-1)
7-AFC WEST (Raiders-3, Broncos-3, Chiefs-1)
5-NFC NORTH (Packers-4, Bears-1)
2-AFC SOUTH (Colts-2)2-NFC SOUTH (Buccaneers-1, Saints-1)

As for Super Bowl appearances, the NFC East and AFC East are tops:

21-NFC EAST (Cowboys-8, Redskins-5, Giants-5, Eagles-3)
21-AFC EAST (Patriots-11, Dolphins-5, Bills-4, Jets-1)
16-AFC WEST (Broncos-8, Raiders-5, Chiefs-2, Chargers-1)
14-NFC WEST (Niners-6, Rams-4, Seahawks-3, Cardinals-1)
12-AFC NORTH (Steelers-8, Ravens-2, Bengals-2)
11-NFC NORTH (Packers-5, Vikings-4, Bears-2)
6-NFC SOUTH (Falcons-2, Panthers-2, Bucs-1, Saints-1)
5-AFC SOUTH (Colts-4, Titans-1)

Note that this is under the current divisional format. Prior to 1970 merger, divisions were vastly different. Since the merger, the 1970 Colts won in the AFC East and the 1998 Falcons went to the Super Bowl as a member of the NFC West. That would technically give the AFC East 21 Super Bowl appearances and 9 Super Bowl titles ... and the NFC West 14 Super Bowl appearances. 

Also, from 1970 to 2001 both conferences had a Central Division. Now, those divisions are essentially the makeup of the current North divisions (Buccaneers left the NFC Central for the NFC South; the Titans and Jaguars left the AFC Central for the AFC South) so there really isn't any real differences there. But for informational purposes, here is what those now defunct divisions did:

Super Bowl championships

6-AFC CENTRAL (Steelers-5, Ravens-1)
2-NFC CENTRAL (Packers-1, Bears-1)
Super Bowl appearances
9-AFC CENTRAL (Steelers-5, Bengals-2, Ravens-1, Titans-1)
6-NFC CENTRAL (Vikings-3, Packers-2, Bears-1)

 There have been 51 Super Bowls to date yet there are 52 Vince Lombardi Trophies (given to the Super Bowl winning team) out and about. How is that?

Well, that little ditty comes to light after the passing of Rams owner Georgia Frontiere. Frontiere's husband, former-Colts and Rams owner Carroll Rosenbloom, is the reason behind the story.

When Colts owner Carroll Rosenbloom, Frontiere's late husband, traded the Colts for the Rams in a franchise swap in 1972, he decided he wanted to keep the Lombardi Trophy the Colts won in Super Bowl V. When Super Bowl VII took place in Los Angeles, Rosenbloom told the Colts he was going to put on a display of Super Bowl trophies and asked them to bring it to the West Coast. They did. There was no display, and Rosenbloom never returned the trophy. After the Colts complained to the league office, former NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle had a duplicate made for the Colts, which remains in Baltimore (it was originally shipped to Indianapolis when the team moved but a deal was struck and it was returned to Maryland). The original Super Bowl V trophy? It presumably was in Frontiere's possession and now belongs to her heirs.

So, there are two Vince Lombardi trophies awarded for Super Bowl V yet neither are with the franchise that won it. The original was in St. Louis with Frontiere with the other in Baltimore, the Colts old digs. Meanwhile, Indianapolis can only show off the trophy they won over the Bears.

Of the 20 most watched television broadcasts in United States history, 19 of them are Super Bowls. Super Bowl XLIX leads the pack as the most watched all-time (that's the Patriots-Seahawks Super Bowl). The only telecast that wasn't a Super Bowl? The M*A*S*H series finale in 1983. That is currently 9th all-time.

: This is the first time that two No. 2 seeds meet in the Super Bowl. .

Prior to this season, four of the last five years saw the two top seeds faces off. The lone top seed that didn't make it to the Super Bowl in that span was the 2016 Dallas Cowboys. Here is the most likely seeding matchups in Super Bowl history:

13: #1 vs #1

13: #1 vs #2
5: #2 vs #4
4: #1 vs #4
3: #1 vs #3
2: #1 vs #51: #2 vs #2
1: #1 vs #6
1: #2 vs #3
1: #2 vs #6

Tom Brady will be the oldest quarterback to start a Super Bowl passing his own record set last year. Brady is the only 40-year old quarterback to start a Super Bowl. He joins Matt Stover, Jeff Feagles, Matt Bryant, Mike Horan, George Blanda and Jerry Rice as the lone 40-year olds to play in the Super Bowl. Brady joins Rice as the only non-kickers.

New England and Los Angeles have had their fair share of championship teams.

In fact, the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers faced off in the 2018 World Series with the Sox winning. 
The Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers have met in the NBA Finals 10 times (an 11th matchup between the two franchises took place when the Lakers were in Minneapolis).

The New England Patriots are looking for their sixth Super Bowl victory, which would tie them for 1st place all-time (Steelers). The Boston Red Sox have won four World Series championships since 2004 and the Celtics have 17 NBA titles -- best all-time -- and the Bruins won the 2011 Stanley Cup. In fact, since 2001 when the Patriots won their first Super Bowl, the Boston pro sports franchises have been to 16 title games/series (Patriots-8, Red Sox-4, Celtics-2, Bruins-2).

Los Angeles is looking for its first professional sports championship since 2012 when the Kings beat the Rangers for the Stanley Cup title. 

 Atlanta is hosting their third Super Bowl. They hosted Super Bowl XXVIII when the Cowboys beat the Bills, 30-13, and Super Bowl XXXIV when the St. Louis Rams beat the Titans, 23-26.

Their previous two Super Bowls were held at the old Georgia Dome, while this one will be at sparkling Mercedes-Benz Stadium. 

 19 quarterbacks have started multiple Super Bowls, including Tom Brady. Brady will be making his ninth start as a QB for a Super Bowl (for perspective, only Peyton Manning, John Elway. Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana, Jim Kelly and Roger Staubach have all started as many as four). Three of the last four Super Bowls (and four of the last seven) have been won by a quarterback who had won a Super Bowl before.

  Super Bowl LIII will be held in the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA. Atlanta will be hosting its third Super Bowl. 

Super Bowl LIV will be at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens for the sixth time (only the Louisiana Superdome has hosted more) and the 11th time in the Miami area. Super Bowl LV will be at Tampa's Raymond James Stadium; the new Los Angeles Stadium will host Super Bowl LVI; State Farm Stadium in Glendale, AZ will host Super Bowl LVII and the Superdome in New Orleans will host Super Bowl LVIII.

 CBS will air the premiere episode of "The World's Best", a talent competition show hosted by James Cordon. 

The trend recently is for the network broadcasting the Super Bowl loves breaking in new shows or extended shows following the game.  "Undercover Boss" (CBS, 2010), "Extreme" (ABC, 1995), "Homicide" (NBC, 1993), "Davis Rules" (ABC, 1991), "Grand Slam" (CBS, 1990), "The Wonders Years" (ABC, 1988), "Hard Copy" (CBS, 1987), "The Last Precinct" (NBC, 1986), "MacGruder and Loud" (ABC, 1985), "Airwolf" (CBS, 1984), "The A-Team" (NBC, 1983) and "Brothers and Sisters" (NBC, 1979) as shows who debuted after the Super Bowl.

Some other big-time heavyweights have also appeared right after the game. "Lassie," "All in the Family," "60 Minutes," "CHiPs," "Archie Bunker's Place," "Friends," "The X-Files," "The Simpsons," "Survivor," "Grey's Anatomy," "House", "This Is Us" and "The Office" all have been post-Super Bowl shows.

 There have been 23 Super Bowls where one starting QB comes in with Super Bowl experience while the other one doesn't. Does experience matter? Well, the QB with the experience is just 12-10 in those games.

However, in five of the last seven occasions of this happening the new guy won. Nick Foles (new) beat Tom Brady (old), Russell Wilson (new) beat Peyton Manning (old), Aaron Rodgers (new) beat Big Ben (old), Drew Brees (new) beat Peyton Manning (old) and Eli Manning (new) beat Tom Brady (old) in their first Super Bowl matchup. Last two years, Peyton Manning (old) beat Cam Newton (new) and Tom Brady (old) beat Matt Ryan (new).

Brady will be making his ninth Super Bowl start while Jared Goff makes his first.

Some nice stats for you:

8 million: Total pounds of popcorn consumed on Super Bowl Sunday.
28 million: Pounds of potato chips consumed.53.5 million: Pounds of avocados consumed.
222,792: Number of football fields worth of farmland to grow all that corn, potatoes, and avocados.
11.8: Depth, in feet, of guacamole consumed if it were spread across the football field.
293,000: Number of miles of potato chips, laid end to end, consumed during the game.
1 billion: Number of chicken wings consumed on Super Bowl Sunday.
325.5 million: Gallons of beer drank by Americans that day.
493: Number of Olympic-sized swimming pools that could be filled with all that beer.
20%: Increase in anti-acid sales the Monday after the game.
7 million: Number of employees who will not show up to work Monday.

#25-STICK WITH THE FAVORITES: New England enters Super Bowl LIII as the favorites. Yeah, there are upsets, but don't count on them. The favorite has won 11 of the last 20 Super Bowls. In fact the favorite is 33-19 in the Super Bowl. Teams favored by at least seven points are 19-6.

 Over the past 13 Super Bowls, six of them had a team whose playoff seed was either 4, 5 or 6. Those teams are 5-1 when they get there (only the 2008 Cardinals didn't win – and they nearly did) with those teams beating either a No. 1 or No. 2 seed. Here is a short list of some notable Super Bowl upsets: 

Super Bowl III: The Baltimore Colts came in as 18-point favorites. They left watching the Jets' Joe Namath fulfilling his prediction of an upset. Super Bowl IV: The Kansas City Chiefs spanked the Minnesota Vikings, despite being a 12-point underdog.

Super Bowl VII: 
Oddly, the undefeated Miami Dolphins entered the game as 1.5-point underdogs to the Washington Redskins.

Super Bowl XXV: 
The Buffalo Bills would begin their four game Super Bowl losing streak by succumbing to the Giants, who were 7-point dogs.

Super Bowl XXXII:
 The Denver Broncos, an 11.5-point underdog, ended the AFC's thirteen game losing streak by beating Green Bay.

Super Bowl XXXVI: 
These New England Patriots began their dynasty by beating the St. Louis Rams, who were 14-point favorites.

Super Bowl XLII:
 The 12-point dog Giants ended the Patriots perfect season with a magical game. See, it can happen. Just because we all think one way doesn't mean we cannot be shocked. After all, those 2001 Rams were juggernauts who were former champions and were heavy favorites. They left without the trophy.

 The NFC has won 18 of the last 21 coin tosses, including a 14 year winning streak mixed in. The team that wins the opening coin toss is just 24-26 in the game. That averages out to, well, the flip of a coin. Also, the coin has landed on heads 24 times and tails 27 times.

The coin toss winner has been the Super Bowl loser in 15 of the last 21 games and is 24-28 all-time.

SB 52: Patriots won the toss, lost the game
SB 51: Falcons won the toss, lost the game

SB 50: Panthers won the toss, lost the game
SB 49: Seahawks won the toss, lost the game
SB 48: Seahawks won the toss and the game
SB 47: Ravens won the toss and the game
SB 46: Patriots won the toss, lost the game
SB 45: Packers won the toss and the game
SB 44: Saints won the toss and the game
SB 43: Cardinals won the toss, lost the game*
SB 42: Giants won the toss and the game
SB 41: Bears won the toss, lost the game
SB 40: Seahawks won the toss, lost the game
SB 39: Eagles won the toss, lost the game
SB 38: Panthers won the toss, lost the game
SB 37: Buccaneers won the toss and the game
SB 36: Rams won the toss, lost the game
SB 35: Giants won the toss, lost the game
SB 34: Rams won the toss and the game
SB 33: Falcons won the toss, lost the game
SB 32: Packers won the toss, lost the game
SB 31: Patriots won the toss, lost the game

*A little aside to this is that the Arizona Cardinals won the toss and deferred to the second half. The Steelers chose to receive which means the Cards were the first team in Super Bowl history to win the coin toss and kickoff. Since then, deferring to the second half is now the norm. The Seahawks would do the same in Super Bowls XLVIII and XLIX, Panthers in Super Bowl 50, Falcons in Super Bowl LI and Eagles in Super Bowl LII.

 Some more little stats for you:

- There has been at least one successful field goal in 50 of 52 Super Bowls. 

- Teams that have been shut out for one half (either the first or second) are a combined 1-19. The lone winner was those 1972 Dolphins who went scoreless in the second half of Super Bowl VII.
- Only one Super Bowl featured teams from the same state. Super Bowl XXIX between the Chargers and 49ers. The Giants and Bills both are "New York" teams, but the Giants play their home games in New Jersey. 
- Also, teams that intercept a pass for a TD are 12-1 in the Super Bowl. The 2016 Falcons were the first team to have a pick-six and lose a Super Bowl.

#21-NFC WEST vs AFC EAST: Super Bowl LIII matches up teams from the NFC West and AFC East. This will be the 4th time these two divisions have met for the Super Bowl. Here is how the other meetings turned out.

XIX: 49ers beat Dolphins

XXXVI: Patriots beat Rams
XLIX: Patriots beat Seahawks

#20-THINGS NON-FOOTBALL FANS CAN SAT TO FIT IN:  Look, I know that there are people in America that will be attending Super Bowl parties because... well, they love to party. Some won't know who's playing in the game until they get there. Don't worry. So the diehards around the party who actually care about the game won't think you're a newbie, I'm here to help.

Here are a few vague quotes that you can use so you fit in among the football fans. You don't have to engage in a conversation with these, just drop these in from time to time you will at look somewhat informed. 

"The Patriots are back again, eh?"

"Is Brady the best quarterback ever?"
"You just gotta convert those third downs!"
"Don't sleep on Robert Woods!"
"Todd Gurley needs a lot of touches."
"Third and long? I'd blitz."
"Remember the Bud Bowl?"
"I got a few bucks on this game."

"Damnit! I left my squares sheet at home!"
"It's nice to see the Rams back in the Super Bowl!"
When there is a penalty called for holding, just say, "yeah, he was tackling him!"
"Wouldn't it be crazy if Brandin Cooks beat his old team?"
"Bold prediction: Jared Goff as MVP!"
"Who is worse: LA fans or New England fans?"
Use only in a close game: "This could come down to who has the ball last."

#19-WEARING WHITE IS KEY:  Since the Rams are designated the home team, they get to pick their jerseys for the Super Bowl (they chose blue after wearing white in their previous three Super Bowl appearances). Typically the road team will wear white for the game but in recent seasons, some teams have been bucking the trend and went with their white jerseys. Good choice. In fact, the team that has worn white uniforms has won the last 12 of the last 13 Super Bowls (Patriots, Broncos, Patriots, Seahawks, Ravens, Giants, Saints, Steelers, Giants, Colts, Steelers, Patriots). The Packers won Super Bowl XLV wearing green. The Patriots won last year's Super Bowl victory while wearing white.

White jerseys are 33-18 in Super Bowl games.

: Not interested in the Super Bowl? Well, here are some alternatives to watch. Remember, there's not only the Puppy Bowl, but a Kitten Bowl and Fish Bowl as well.

ABC: "America's Funniest Home Videos" and "Shark Tank" marathon
NBC: "America's Got Talent" marathon

FOX: Reruns of their normal Sunday lineup
A&E: "The Mummy", "The Mummy Returns"
AMC: "Karate Kid Part II", "Jurassic Park III"
ANIMAL: Puppy Bowl XV
BET: "The Bobby Brown Story"
BRAVO!: "Real Housewives of Atlanta" marathon
CNN: "The Radical Story of Patty Hearst" marathon
COMEDY CENTRAL: "The Office" marathon
ESPN: Boxing
FOX SPORTS 1: Bowling
FX: "Now You See Me 2"
FXX: "The Simpsons Movie"
HGTV: "Beachfront Bargain Hunt" marathon
E!: "Botched" marathon
FOOD NETWORK: "Worst Cooks In America" marathon
GAMESHOW: "Family Feud" marathon
IFC: "Fast Times at Ridgemont High", "Crocodile Dundee"
LIFETIME: "The Stepfather", "Enough",
LOGO: "Three's Company" marathon
OXYGEN: "Snapped" marathon
OWN: "Police Women of Dallas" marathon
PARAMOUNT: "Cops" marathon
POP: "Charmed" marathon
SYFY: "Futurama" marathon
TBS: Hunger Games marathon
TLC: "Dr. Pimple Popper: The Poppy Bowl"
TNT: "Titanic"
TRU: "Impractical Jokers" marathon
VICE: "Slutever" marathon
WE: "Law & Order" marathon
WGN: "How I Met Your Mother" marathon

#17-THE NO. 1 DRAFT PICKS: Jared Goff joins an impressive list of No. 1 overall picks to reach a Super Bowl. Super Bowl 50 was the very first Super Bowl where both quarterbacks were No. 1 overall draft picks (Peyton Manning, Cam Newton).  

Only Terry Bradshaw, Jim Plunkett, John Elway, Troy Aikman, Manning and Eli Manning have been top overall picks that also won a Super Bowl as a starting QB. Paul Hornung, Bubba Smith, Terry Bradshaw, Jim Plunkett, John Matuszak, Ed Jones, George Rogers, John Elway, Troy Aikman, Russell Maryland, Drew Bledsoe, Keyshawn Johnson, Orlando Pace, Peyton Manning, David Carr and Eli Manning have all been No. 1 picks who also won a Super Bowl.

However, Hornung, Bledsoe and Carr were just roster guys for their titles. Bledsoe did start and lose a Super Bowl.

#16-LIST OF SUPER BOWL NO-NAMES: Below are guys that made their names in the Super Bowl. Some of these guys were pretty good NFLers before their breakout games ... some we haven't heard of before or since ... but performing well on the biggest of stages makes them legends.

Doug Williams (Redskins): 
It wasn't that Williams was a no-name as much as things really didn't pan out for him. Dude really came off the scrap heap. Williams did nothing much of note in his first years at Tampa Bay or in his USFL stint. Redskins coach Joe Gibbs (who coached Doug in Tampa) gave him a shot in 1986 to back up Jay Schroeder. In '87, Schroeder had some shoulder issues late in the season and Williams did a good job taking over. So much so that there was a QB controversy. Williams got the nod and the rest is history.

What Williams did in the 2nd quarter of Super Bowl XXII is nothing short of remarkable. He was 9-of-11 for 228 yards and 4 TDs. Again, that was just in the 2nd quarter! Williams would win the game's MVP and become the first (and only, so far) black quarterback to win a Super Bowl.

Timmy Smith (Redskins): 
If Doug Williams didn't win the MVP, Smith would have. Smith rushed for 204 yards (still a Super Bowl record) and two TDs. Coming into the game, Smith had rushed for just 129 yards that season. His career lasted just 15 games after the Super Bowl.

Max McGee (Packers): 
McGee is famous for his pre-Super Bowl I partying. With Boyd Dowler injured early in the game, a hung-over McGee would step in and catch the first TD pass in Super Bowl history. He would go on to catch seven passes for 138 yards and two TDs ... three more receptions than he had all season long.

Jeff Hostetler (Giants):
 People forget that Phil Simms didn't start the G-men's second Super Bowl title. Simms hurt his ankle late in the season and Hoss took it the rest of the way. He had the least amount of playing time of any QB to start a Super Bowl. He held up well, throwing for 222 yds and a TD.

Dan Bunz (49ers): 
The linebacker was instrumental in the greatest goal line stand in Super Bowl history, stuffing the Bengals four times with goal to go. The defining play was Bunz' tackle on a swing pass to Charles Alexander on third down (he was also in on the stop on fourth down).

Larry Brown (Cowboys): 
The running joke after Super Bowl XXX was that Brown was the Steelers' Neil O'Donnell's favorite target. Too bad he played for the other team. Brown picked off two O'Donnell throws ... his final game with Dallas. He used the MVP award to get a nice fat contract with the Raiders and did nothing much of note after the fact.

Dwight Smith (Buccaneers): 
If Brown won an MVP award for picking off two passes ... why didn't Smith win won for taking two picks back for TDs? He was a nickelback used a lot in a game where (a) Oakland's offensive attack warranted it and (b) the Raiders were so far behind that they had to take chances. Why ....

Dexter Jackson (Buccaneers):
 ... because Smith's second TD came in the closing seconds after the ballots had already been counted. Jackson had picked off two passes himself (none that went for TDs) that were momentum changers. And Jackson wouldn't have won the award either if not for fan voting taking place in the game (Simeon Rice was the press' pick).

Percy Howard (Cowboys):
 Never heard of him? Well, Howard came into Super Bowl X and caught a 34-yd touchdown pass from Roger Staubach. That was the only reception he had in his entire career.

Don Beebe (Bills):
 Beebe has been on six Super Bowl teams ... but will be remembered most for running down Leon Lett and stripping the ball right before crossing the endzone in Super Bowl XXVII.

David Tyree (Giants):
 Tyree will always be a legend for his amazing catch in Super Bowl XLII. A guy pretty much no one had heard of before and hasn't done anything since will be immortalized with possibly the greatest play in Super Bowl history.

Mario Manningham (Giants): 
He only caught 5 passes for 73 yards in Super Bowl XLVI, it was a huge 38-yard reception on the Giants' final, game-winning drive that will stick among the Super Bowl's greatest moments.

Malcolm Butler (Patriots): 
 Butler was an undrafted rookie when he made one of the biggest plays in Super Bowl history: intercepting Russell Wilson in Super Bowl XLIX with the game on the line.  

James White (Patriots):
 Coming into Super Bowl LI, White had rushed for just 260 yards, caught for 984 yards and scored 11 total touchdowns in his three seasons in the league. In that Super Bowl, White caught 14 passes ... a Super Bowl record ... for 110 yards and three total touchdowns. He is the only player to score in overtime of a Super Bowl. 

 Winners of 25 Super Bowl MVP awards have gone on to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. You have Bart Starr (twice), Joe Namath, Len Dawson, Roger Staubach, Larry Csonka, Franco Harris, Lynn Swann, Fred Biletnikoff, Randy White, Terry Bradshaw (twice), Joe Montana (three times), John Riggins, Marcus Allen, Richard Dent, Troy Aikman, Steve Young, Jerry Rice, Emmitt Smith, Kurt Warner, Terrell Davis and John Elway. Other winners, like Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Ray Lewis can look forward to seeing their busts in Canton one day (that hikes the number up to 29). Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees also have a shot at the Hall.  So could Eli Manning.

From Super Bowl 1 to Super Bowl XX, 16 of the 20 Super Bowl MVPs were elected to the Hall of Fame. 

Granted, not all winners of the Super Bowl MVP award go on to anything much. Guys like Larry Brown, Harvey Martin, Dexter Jackson, Desmond Howard, Mark Rypien, Deion Branch and Jake Scott have also won the award and the Hall is no where in their future.

:  Look, they aren't all winners. Some Super Bowls just aren't very good. Whether they are blowouts or just poorly played, some are just duds.

1. Super Bowl V: This one was nicknamed the "Blunder Bowl" for good reason. There were 11 turnovers in the game with the Colts – who won – committing seven of them. The Dallas Cowboys were called for 10 penalties. This game stunk so badly that the MVP award was given to Chuck Howley of the losing Cowboys (the only time the Super Bowl MVP played for the losing team). Sure, Jim O'Brien kicked the game winning field goal at the end of the game, but even that was set up by a turnover.

2. Super Bowl XII: Dallas was in yet another sloppy game. Good thing the Broncos were sloppier (Denver turned the ball over eight times and completed just eight passes).Denver QB Craig Morton was horrible – he completed just four of 15 passes for 39 yards and four interceptions. Yikes! (There was also lingering questions about the IRS checking into his tax returns.) Both teams combined for 20 penalties.

3. Super Bowl XL: It was a ho-hum game that's only excitement came on an Antwaan Randle-El touchdown pass to Hines Ward. That's pretty much all the Steelers had: three big plays that ended up with TDs (the above play, a Willie Parker 75-yd TD run and an awkward pass from Ben Roethlisberger to Ward). Seattle shot themselves in the foot with bad penalties, bad red zone efficiency and turnovers. The game is one of the most controversial as many people felt that the Seahawks had a lot of bad calls go against them. Big Ben's QB rating is the lowest by any Super Bowl winning quarterback.

4. Super Bowl XX: The Bears dominated and we all loved seeing the Fridge plop into the end zone. Still, this looked like an exhibition game against a local high school team than a Super Bowl. Chicago dominated this game with their defense and made Pats QB Tony Eason look foolish (he is the only starting QB to not complete a pass). There have been several blowouts in Super Bowl history, but this is the only one where the losing team looked like it had no business being there. The saddest thing is that Walter Payton didn't get a shot at running in a TD. Jim McMahon snuck in a TD twice and the Fridge got a shot, but not Walter. A shame.

5. Super Bowl 50: One of the worst offensive showings in Super Bowl history. Denver, who won the game, gained under 200 yards of offense and had only 11 first downs. Quarterbacks Cam Newton and Peyton Manning were sacked a combined 12 times and both had quarterback ratings around 55. The teams combined to go 4-of-29 on third down and turned the ball over six times. Sigh.

No team has ever played on their home field in the Super Bowl. It has never happened. Never. Most fans know that. But if you really look into it, it hasn't even been close. First, some stats on this.

- Of the 53 Super Bowls, 46 of them were played in a stadium that was a home field for an NFL team.

- Since the Jets and Giants share MetLife Stadium, they were both hosts of Super Bowl XLVIII
- Super Bowl VIII was played in Rice Stadium in Houston. The Oilers used to play there but at that time playing at the Astrodome.
- Five Super Bowls were played at the Pasadena Rose Bowl and one was at Stanford Stadium. Neither was home to an NFL franchise at the time.
- The Los Angeles Rams did play in Super Bowl XIV which was in Pasadena. The San Francisco 49ers played in Super Bowl XIX in Stanford. Those are the closest examples of a team playing a "home Super Bowl." Neither were their home fields but both were certainly in their geographic footprint.
- Not only has no team hosted a Super Bowl, of the 47 teams who could of... only eight even made the playoffs that year! Amazing. Of those eight, only four won a single playoff game and only the 2017 Vikings even made the conference championship game. 

Of the 13 most pass attempts in a Super Bowl game in history, ten were for the losing team.

Tom Brady threw 62 passes in Super Bowl LI to complete a comeback overtime win. Jim Kelly threw 58 passes for the Bills against the Redskins in Super Bowl XXVI, Eagles' QB Donovan McNabb is 3rd with 51 passes in their Super Bowl XXXIX loss. The lone winning QB in that mix is New England's Tom Brady who won last year, threw 48 passes in their Super Bowl XXXVIII victory over the Carolina Panthers and 50 passes against the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX.

Also, of the top 10 player rushing attempt games in Super Bowl history, only Eddie George in Super Bowl XXXIV played for the losing team.

#11-DON'T TRAIL BY DOUBLE DIGITS: Teams that are facing a double-digit deficit are 4-44. A couple things are interesting about that stat. First, the only teams to come back from a 10-point deficit or more and win are the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XXII, the New Orleans Saints in Super Bowl XLIV, the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX (all three of them by 10 points) and the New England Patriots' magical 25-point comeback in Super Bowl LI.

The Patriots trailed 28-3 to the Falcons in the third quarter of Super Bowl LI before reeling off 31 straight points to end the game. 

The Skins trailed 10-0 before scoring the next 42 points. The Saints scored 31 of the next 38 points after trailing 10-0. That also makes those two Super Bowls the only ones where both teams faced a double digit deficit.

Also, it is quite amazing that 46 of 52 Super Bowls have seen one team go up by at least 10 at some point in the game.

 Here are just a few dumb notes about Super Bowl dates. Super Bowl XXIX was and will always be the only Super Bowl that was played on the same day (29) as the Roman numeral of the game. January 26th is the most popular date for a Super Bowl as a record four games have been played on that date. And, if you go in order from the earliest date (January 9th) to the latest (February 7th), the only days to not have held the Super Bowl are January 10, 19, and 23.

This will be the second Super Bowl held on February 3rd.
Jan 9-XI

Jan 11-IV
Jan 12-III, IX
Jan 13-VIII
Jan 14-II, VII
Jan 15-I, XII
Jan 16-VI
Jan 17-V
Jan 18-X
Jan 20-XIV, XIX
Jan 21-XIII
Jan 24-XVI
Jan 27-XXV
Jan 29-XXIX
Feb 4-XLI. LII
Feb 5-XL, XLVI
Feb 7-XLIV, 50

#9-STILL HAVEN'T WON ONE: There are now four franchises that have never appeared in a Super Bowl (Lions, Browns, Jaguars and Texans). But there are eight others that have never won the Super Bowl in any of their appearances. They are the Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, Tennessee Titans, San Diego Chargers, Minnesota Vikings, Arizona Cardinals, Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons. The Bills and Vikings have lost four games apiece; the Panthers and Bengals have each lost two. The rest lost on their only trip.

And while the Jaguars (1995) and Texans (2002) haven't been to the big game, they don't have quite the drought as some other franchises. The Jets haven't been to the Super Bowl since the 1968 season. The Chiefs went to two of the first four Super Bowls but their last appearance was after the 1969 season.

It's been a while since the Vikings (1976), Dolphins (1984), Bengals (1988) and Redskins (1991) have been there as well.

#8-FOR YOUR ENTERTAINMENT: Gladys Knight will sing the National Anthem prior to Super Bowl LIII. 

Maroon 5 will be the halftime performer. Joining him will be OutKast's Big Boi (from Atlanta) and Travis Scott. Artists like Bruno Mars, Cardi B, Aerosmith and Ludacris will be performing at events in the days leading up to Sunday.

Ten NFL MVPs have gone on to win the Super Bowl. The illustrious ten:

I-Bart Starr (Packers)
XIII-Terry Bradshaw (Steelers)
XVII-Mark Moseley (Redskins)
XXI-Lawrence Taylor (Giants)
XXIV-Joe Montana (49ers)
XXVIII-Emmitt Smith (Cowboys)
XXIX-Steve Young (49ers)
XXXI-Brett Favre (Packers)
XXXIII-Terrell Davis (Broncos)
XXXIV-Kurt Warner (Rams)

Starr, Bradshaw, Montana, Smith, Young and Warner would also go on to win the Super Bowl MVP that season.

#6-SIX BEST SUPER BOWLS: Here are what I believe are the six best Super Bowls, ever. You can debate this all you want (which is fine), but these six were all great games with exciting finishes and are memorable in one way or another.

1. Super Bowl LI: I mean, the first and only overtime game in Super Bowl history. The Patriots trailing 28-3 in the third quarter then scoring 31 unanswered points to win the game. Julian Edelman's amazing catch. All the passing records set. Just the stunned feeling you had all game that the Falcons could be crushing New England like that and then seeing Tom Brady and company buzzsaw to the win. Simply one of the most amazing games in NFL history.

2. Super Bowl XXV: This was a great matchup in every way. With a backdrop of war, this game had all kinds of emotion as the game began (thanks, Whitney). That vaunted Bills offense against the stuffy Giants defense. The lead changed times on four occasions. In the end, an old guy like Ottis Anderson ate up the clock and Scott Norwood missed the only time the winner of the Super Bowl came down to the final play (even if Vinatieri missed those Pats FGs, the games would've went into overtime). Giants defensive coordinator Bill Belichick's defensive gameplan for this game in enshrined at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

3. Super Bowl XLII: Yes, the Giants take another top spot. Their amazing run just to get to the Super Bowl and matching the undefeated Patriots blow-for-blow. Eli Manning's escape and David Tyree's catch has become one of the top plays in Super Bowl history. Second biggest upset ever.

4. Super Bowl XXXIV: Not only was this a surreal matchup (remember that St. Louis and Tennessee weren't NFL cities six years earlier), but some cat named Kurt Warner was shredding up this game. The Titans staged one heck of a comeback (they were down 16-0) to have it ripped away from them on a bomb to Issac Bruce. Also, it had one of the greatest endings any football game could ever have.

5. Super Bowl XXIII: There were so many game changing moments in this one. Remember that the only times the 49ers led this game was at 3-0, and after Joe Montana's pass to John Taylor at the end of the game. Cincinnati had this one, but Super Joe took it away.

6. Super Bowl XXXVIII: The problem with this Super Bowl is that the 1st and 3rd quarters were terrible. However, the 2nd and 4th were just outstanding! In the fourth quarter alone, there were 37 points scored, which is a Super Bowl record for points scored in a quarter. It was just the second to have five TDs scored (the Redskins did that by themselves 16 years earlier). And it ended with an Adam Vinatieri field goal with :04 left. Oh, and we got a little nipple action at halftime.

The Patriots and Rams have met 13 previous times, including Super Bowl XXXVI. New England holds an 8-5 advantage and won the last five meetings between the two (which dates back to their previous Super Bowl matchup). The series is extremely streaky -- the Patriots won three of the first four meetings, the Rams won the next four straight before the Patriots current five game winning streak. The last time these two met was in 2016 when New England won 26-10 in Foxborough. 

These two will next meet in the regular next season in 2020 in Los Angeles.

 If you are looking for some other sports to whet your appetite, you have a few options. The NBA has a national televised game on ABC, as the Thunder takes on the Celtics at 2pm ET (the Grizzlies-Knicks and Clippers-Raptors are available on League Pass).

The NHL will have three games, with the Bruins facing the Capitals on NBC at 12:30pm ET (Oilers-Canadiens, Flames-Hurricanes are the other games).

There are 12 NCAA basketball games scheduled. The big games on tap are Georgetown Hall at Villanova (FOX),Wake Forest at Clemson (ESPNU), Minnesota at Purdue (BTN), Stanford at Cal (ESPNU) and Xavier at Creighton. New Hampshire plays Maine in a New England-themed battle

As I touched on before, Tom Brady will start his ninth Super Bowl and looking to extend his record Super Bowl championships. A New England loss would also put Brady with Jim Kelly as the only as four-time losers of the Super Bowl.
Brady is 41-years old while his counterpart, Jared Goff, is just 24-years old.  That is the largest age gap between quarterbacks in Super Bowl history. In an eerie coincidence, Brady was 24-years old when the Patriots won Super Bowl XXXVI against ... the Rams.

There have been Twenty quarterbacks to start multiple Super Bowls. Of those 20, only Kelly, Tarkenton and Craig Morton never won at least one game. While not a starter in Super Bowl V, Earl Morrall did play most of the game for the Colts after Unitas was knocked out of the game in the 2nd quarter. Morrall started for the Colts in the legendary Super Bowl III loss to the Jets. Steve Young didn't start but threw three passes in Super Bowl XXIV (he started Super Bowl XXIX). Peyton Manning is the only quarterback to start and win two Super Bowls with different teams.

 The Patriots are the first team to return to the Super Bowl the year after they lost the big game since the Buffalo Bills lost four straight Super Bowls in the 1990-1993 seasons. New England is attempting to become the first team since the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl VII to win a Super Bowl the year after losing one. The Dallas Cowboys (Super Bowl VI) are the only other franchise to accomplish that feat.
With a loss, the Patriots would join the Bills (SB XXV-XXVIII), Broncos (SB XXI-XXII) and Vikings (SB VIII-IX) to lose consecutive Super Bowls.

  So we have all this information but what does it mean? Although all these neat stats and crazy trends make it seem like fate will determine the winner.  But does past trends really matter when the ball is kicked?  Really, these stats are just trends. The players and coaches will determine who wins on Sunday and that's basically it. Nothing against the Eagles at all but I like the Patriots to win. They have all the experience.

Is experience everything? Not really. We have a franchise in the Patriots that have been to nine of the last 18 Super Bowls against a franchise that hasn't been there in 17 years and is coached by a 33-year old and is quarterbacked by a 24-year old. Plus, the Los Angeles fan base hasn't been in a Super Bowl since the Raiders won Super Bowl XVIII ... 35 years ago

There are a couple of things that people really aren't talking about heading into this game. One is the fact that these Patriots aren't the juggernaut that most of the other teams were. New England was 11-5 this season with all five losses coming to non-playoff teams. New England lost two of their last four games heading into the postseason. Not to dismiss them being here, but this isn't the same team that dominated seasons.

The other point is the Rams' defense. Sure, they are certainly capable of giving up yards, but they are aggressive and physical and can be disruptive. Everyone knows the gameplan to beat Tom Brady is to get to him and make him uncomfortable ... and the Pats have countered with quicker passes and better offensive blocking schemes. If Los Angeles' defensive backfield ... which is good ... can get in the receivers' faces and reroute guys than it can buy time for Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh to get to Brady. The Rams can run the football, throw the football and has shown the faith they have in their kicker.

I think the Rams win this one, 34-30.