Noontime’s Sunday Thoughts (Jan. 17, 2021)

By Matt Noonan

Happy Sunday, everyone – I can use the word “happy” in front of what day it is, right?

Well, no matter what, I hope everyone is doing well while having a wonderful weekend. And of course, I do hope this post – well, more my weekly column, to be exact – finds everyone thinking optimistically because better days are ahead, I believe it.

Similar to last week’s Sunday Thoughts, I am going to share ten quick thoughts heading into what I hope will be a wonderful week for everyone.

So, without further ado, here is this week’s Noontime’s Sunday Thoughts!


Make sure to stay connected with Noontime Sports on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and YouTube. Additionally, don’t forget to subscribe and listen to our podcast on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.


Thought No. 1: The Buffalo Bills and Green Bay Packers are the real deal. Yes, I know Ben Volin of the Boston Globe shared similar thoughts with his readers, but I think both teams could see each other early next week in Tampa, Florida to compete for the ultimate prize: the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Thought No. 2: Kudos to members of Bills Mafia, which performed a good deed last night after Lamar Jackson exited the game with what appeared to be a concussion. According to several outlets, following the conclusion of last night’s Buffalo-Baltimore Ravens game, members of Bills Mafia donated to Jackson’ favorite charity: Louisville’s chapter of Blessings in a Backpack. While its unknown how much money Buffalo fans donated, this is certainly an amazing story, as well as one of the many reasons why we ALL love sports, right?

Thought No. 3: I think the Cleveland Browns can beat the Kansas City Chiefs. Yep, I do. Cleveland has been a great story this season – they’re the underdog this afternoon – and it would be great to see Baker Mayfield and the Browns back in the conference title game for the first time since 1989.

Thought No. 4: Bold prediction: Tom Brady will throw three – maybe four? – touchdowns today and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will beat the New Orleans Saints in what will be Drew Brees‘ final contest in the National Football League (NFL).

Thought No. 5: Why does Cris Collinsworth always refer to a coach, player or someone within the NFL (or outside the league?) by starting his sentences with “here’s a guy?” Does anyone know?

Thought No. 6: Is it just me or was the 2020 college football season a disaster? I think this past fall was a horrible display of leadership, as well as a bad product. Sure, Alabama looked like world beaters compared to everyone else, but that was because of so many cancelations and postponements last summer and fall.

Thought No. 7: Cooper Manning, who is Peyton and Eli’s brother, called what appears to be his first high school basketball game last week. And he shared some unique thoughts on broadcasting – I think he also offered to give away a car, which seems like a strange thing to do at a high school game. But what do I know?

Thought No. 8: Sarah Fuller, who became the first female kicker to compete and score a point in a Power 5 college football game earlier this school year, will take part in Joe Biden‘s presidential inauguration this week. As noted in Pete Thamel‘s story on Yahoo! Sports, she considers this opportunity “an honor to be invited to participate in one of America’s great traditions.” Indeed, this is quite the honor for Fuller that I hope will continue to stay involved with football so she can continue to inspire more young women to pursue and accomplish their dreams, both on and off the field.

Thought No. 9: Call me crazy, but why are we playing high school sports during a pandemic? While the initial month of 2021 is far from over, it seems both this weekend (and the past few days) are an ideal time to crown high school football champions in both Michigan and Texas. Alright, good for them – yay, they finished their respective seasons – but maybe other states can do what Connecticut did and punt to next school year. Do the right thing and keep all the student-athletes safe and healthy.

Thought No. 10: I am a social media nerd and have really enjoyed following the Chicago Blackhawks of the National Hockey League (NHL), specifically their TikTok account. The content they have produced for TikTok is funny, which it should be. And I loved their recent video of waking up in the sunshine state: so peaceful.

Where Things Stand With High School Sports

According to a recent NFHS study, some states are playing basketball while others are expected to start their respective seasons this month. (PHOTO COURTESY: VisualHunt.com)

By Matt Noonan

In normal times, the high school winter sports season, both here in New England and around the country, would be well underway. But these are not normal times.

Due to the coronavirus, some states, including Massachusetts, are playing some sports this winter – of course, they don’t look like they usually do with mask-wearing to social distancing – while others like Alaska, Connecticut, and Virginia have yet to play a single regular season basketball contest as of this morning. Those states are set to begin competition later this month, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), which recently unveiled its ‘Winter Sports Season Guide‘ on Friday, January 15.

The NFHS guide provides high school sports fans with a closer look – well, more a breakdown, to be exact – of who is playing and who is not to what states, including California, Hawaii, and Nevada that have yet to play a single sport this school year (2020-21).

When it comes to wearing masks during competition, 11 states, including Arizona, Kansas, and Kentucky, have mandated that everyone wears them except when competing while 19 states, including Massachusetts and New Hampshire, require all participants to cover their face, both on the bench and on the ice or hardwood.

While basketball was certainly the focus of this particular update, there were some interesting notes worth sharing (below) on the state of high school hockey:

  • Nine states are currently playing hockey – in fact, Ohio and Wisconsin started their respective seasons last November.
  • Six states have not dropped the puck this winter, including Connecticut, Michigan, and New York. Here in New England, Rhode Island has yet to announce when its schools will be able to play games, but practices are permitted. Vermont is currently not allowing its various programs to compete or practice.
  • Five states will conclude their respective seasons without a state championship while five others have yet to announce plans for postseason competition. Five states, including Alaska, Michigan, and North Dakota, have announced dates for their respective state finals.

While it is nice to see some states (and areas of the country) playing basketball and hockey, we certainly know these games should look a bit different – shall we say normal? – hopefully next fall and winter. But for now, make sure to wear your mask, social distance, and wash those hands.

Noontime’s NFL Divisional Round Predictions

By Matt Noonan

It’s time for another BUSY weekend of professional football – are you ready for the National Football League‘s (NFL) Divisional Round?

I am, despite picking four of six games correct last week – I thought the Chicago Bears were going to upset the New Orleans Saints and the Seattle Seahawks were going to beat the Los Angeles Rams, but like I sad in 2020, what do I know?

Let’s see if I can go four-for-four with picks this weekend – fingers crossed, of course! – but in the meantime, I hope everyone continues to stay safe, happy, and healthy!

Have a great weekend and let’s get ready for some great football – let’s go!


Get ready for a BUSY weekend of football by listening to the Football Friday Podcast with Andrew Pezzelli and Zach Weiss on Apple Podcasts and Spotify!


Noontime’s Postseason Record: 4-2 | Wild Card Predictions

Los Angeles Rams at Green Bay Packers (Saturday, Jan. 16 at 4:35 p.m.): The last time the Rams beat the Packers in the postseason they were representing St. Louis, not Los Angeles. And it happened to be in the second round of the 2001 postseason – January 2002, to be exact. Can they do it again? Maybe, but for the Rams to score an upset win over Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, they must control the time of possession while receiving some help from their defense. Prediction: Green Bay 24, Los Angeles 14

Baltimore Ravens at Buffalo Bills (Saturday, Jan. 16 at 8:15 p.m.): This is a toss-up – both teams are capable of winning this matchup! – but the Ravens may have the edge, thanks to its rushing attack. But the same could be said for its defense, too, which limited Derrick Henry to just 40 yards on 18 carries (2.2 yards per carry) last week. Buffalo received some help last week from the Indianapolis Colts‘ coaching staff, which made some strange decisions in both halves. PREDICTION: Baltimore 28, Buffalo 17

Cleveland Browns at Kansas City Chiefs (Sunday, Jan. 17 at 3:05 p.m.): The Browns have not appeared in the Divisional Round since 1994 when they lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers by a score of 29-9. Cleveland beat Pittsburgh last week in a bizarre and crazy first-round matchup, but I am not sure they’re capable of slowing down the defending Super Bowl champions. Kansas City will push ahead for good early in the third quarter and secure a home date for the AFC Championship. PREDICTION: Kansas City 30, Cleveland 21

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints (Sunday, Jan. 17 at 6:40 p.m.): Tom Brady and the Buccaneers are peaking at the right time. Sure, they didn’t manhandle the Washington Football Team last week, but they certainly looked pretty good. And while Tampa Bay may have lost both meetings with Drew Brees and the Saints earlier this season, I think the third time is the charm for Bruce Arians‘ team. PREDICTION: Tampa Bay 28, New Orleans 25

Noontime’s Tech Tuesday (Jan. 12, 2021)

By NoontimeSports.com

Welcome to our first official ‘Tech Tuesday’ post from Noontime Sports!

Our weekly post will highlight innovation, tech, business, events, and entrepreneurism in the sports (and yes, athletic) world, and we begin our new weekly series with an interesting story from Front Office Sports (FOS) about John Skipper and De Le Batard teaming-up for a “politically progressive sports media company.”

We learned of Dan Le Batard collaborating with his former ESPN boss on a new venture last week – Matt Noonan highlighted it in his ‘Sunday Thoughts‘ column – and according to FOS, the startup is targeting some former colleagues, including Jemele Hill, who currently writes for The Atlantic.

The Le Batard-Skipper venture is just the first

Here are some other news and notes (that you should know on this particular Tuesday):

Alright, that will do it for now – we’ll be back next Tuesday with more stories and links on the ever-changing sports world!

Noontime’s Sunday Thoughts (Jan. 10, 2021)

By Matt Noonan

Happy Sunday, everyone – I hope this post finds everyone doing well, staying safe, and enjoying a busy weekend of football.

I am back for my second-straight ‘Noontime’s Sunday Thoughts’ column – thank you to everyone that stopped by last week, and I hope you enjoyed my thoughts and opinions on a few sports items, along with some podcast suggestions, too.

As mentioned last week, I am excited to produce some new content and look forward to writing this post every week. Additionally, I hope you look forward to reading this column, too – any suggestions or ideas are welcome!

So, without further ado, here is my thoughts and ideas on sports, life, and more for Sunday, January 10 – be well, stay safe, and think positive thoughts, everyone!


Make sure to stay connected with Noontime Sports on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. Additionally, don’t forget to subscribe and listen to our podcast on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.


Last week, I went into a bit more depth on my thoughts, but today, I am going to dish out a few more thoughts – 10, to be exact – and get right to the point, so here we go:

  • Thought No. 1: Is it just me or is watching Tom Brady in the postseason with another team difficult to watch? To be honest, I found myself rooting for the Washington Football Team last night because of Taylor Heinicke, but deep down, I knew the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were going to win. And last night’s win proved that Brady can win a postseason game without Bill Belichick.
  • Thought No. 2: I give Taylor Heinicke a lot of credit – that was a crazy spot to be put in last night against Tom Brady and the Buccaneers, but the former Old Dominion quarterback deserves an opportunity to compete for the starting quarterback job this summer with the Washington Football Team.
  • Thought No. 3: Josh Allen is hands down the best quarterback taken in the 2018 National Football League (NFL) Draft. Yes, I know that is an opinion, but he found a way to lead his team to its first postseason win yesterday since 1995. Allen has played great this season and deserves more credit for his improvement under Brian Daboll.
  • Thought No. 4: Due to Covid-19 protocols, NBC’s Mike Tirico was forced to call last night’s Tampa Bay-Washington contest from his house. And to be honest, he sounded great – I mean, he always sounds good, right? Tirico will be heard more over the next few weeks with the National Hockey League (NHL) starting-up its season later this week, but I think what we witnessed last night is the opportunity more networks (and maybe streaming services?) to allow their broadcasters to call games remotely. Of course, there is nothing better than calling a game in an actual arena or stadium – you do miss certain things when you’re not in the building – but if there is one thing we have learned these last few months it is that broadcasts (and other work) can be done from homes and apartments, along with studios, too.
  • Thought No. 5: A few days ago, I saw a great tweet – well, more some amazing career advice from Imry Halevi, who is the assistant director of athletics, multimedia, and production at Harvard University, about finding your way in this very competitive (and yes, crowded) sports world: “There is no ‘right way’ to get that perfect job. No straight line from A to Z.” I encourage everyone to read this tweet and share some thoughts (below!). Imry is someone I admire – he is innovative, as well as a great follow with tons of tremendous advice on the field.
  • Thought No. 6: The National Basketball Association (NBA) has a Covid-19 problem. And they need to do something about it as soon as possible. I am not saying this because of the Boston Celtics injury report, which was released last night – is that game still happening later? – but because it is extremely hard to play basketball in a different city three or four nights each week. But as Austin Rivers of the New York Knicks explained, “If we do our job and remain available, it gives us a chance to win every night.”
  • Thought No. 7: Literally one week after leaving ESPN, Dan Le Batard is teaming-up with his former boss John Skipper for a new venture that will certainly be worth keeping your eyes on.
  • Thought No. 8: Baker Mayfield and his wife, Emily, are my heroes for what they did for a lifelong Cleveland Browns fan that is “terminally ill with kidney cancer and is currently in hospice care.” I am rooting for Mayfield and the Browns this evening against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
  • Thought No. 9: Toss a follow to Emerson Lotzia, Jr. – you will enjoy the content this guys is pumping out on a daily basis, including his thoughts on tonight’s Boston Celtics-Miami Heat contest.
  • Thought No. 10: I’ll take Alabama over Ohio State tomorrow night in the College Football Playoff National Championship. Go Tide!

Podcast Interview Suggestion: Listen to Paul Liberman, who is the co-founder of DraftKings, on The VentureFizz Podcast, which is hosted by Keith Cline. It is a great interview that tells the story of DraftKings – you also gain some tremendous insight on starting your own venture, too.