Yes, we’re back – we missed you, but we’re excited to kickstart your mornings (and sometimes early afternoons, too) with some news and links from the sports and tech world.
As usual, we hope this post finds everyone doing well, staying safe, and holding the line – we’re almost there, we promise!
Alright, let’s get after it with today’s Daily Noontime – have a great day, everyone!
Enjoy a brand new Noontime Sports Podcast featuring Seth Cantor and Kevin Tuve. Seth and Kevin, who work for the New York Boulders baseball team in the Frontier League, share some early thoughts on how both the team (and players, coaches, and front office staff) are preparing for a return to play later this spring and summer.
It’s hard to believe this is the final Sunday of January where football will be played – yes, you will be missed – but since we have a few minutes before kickoff, allow me to share a few thoughts for the upcoming week.
As usual, thank you to everyone that has and continues to stop by, both on Sundays for this column and other content we’re producing throughout the week.
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Have a great week, everyone, and enjoy today’s football games!
Thought No. 2: I really like Josh Allen. And like I have said on previous ‘Football Friday’ podcasts, I believe he is the best quarterback that was selected in the 2018 National Football League (NFL) Draft. But today, I just don’t think he will be able to beat Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. I could see Allen and the Buffalo Bills back in this same spot next January, but today, the Chiefs will prevail. But these Bills are not going away anytime soon. They will get even better this offseason.
Thought No. 3:Friday’s news of NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) going off the air later this year was startling, but I think this plan from the three-letter network will workout just fine. Yes, this is probably a sign that NBC will put more of its sports content like hockey and car racing behind its paywall (Peacock), but it will also mean more people will tune into games and events on USA Network. NBC will be fine – don’t worry, they’re not going anywhere – but the streaming war will certainly continue if National Hockey League (NHL) or NASCAC fans have to subscribe to Peacock to watch their favorite teams and competitors.
Thought No. 5: It was nice to see three New England D-III basketball games take place yesterday – fans were treated to a pair of exciting contests between Keene State and Rhode Island College (both men’s and women’s basketball). I am rooting for these teams, along with the rest of the Little East Conference (LEC) to succeed, but I am sure everyone knows it will take an entire league effort to keep everyone safe, both this week and next month, so games can be played.
Thought No. 6: The National Women’s Hockey League‘s (NWHL) began its two-week sprint to the Isobel Cup yesterday with fans being able to watch contests on their Twitch channel. I watched some of the first game – I enjoyed it, and give the league credit with not just offering a streaming service to watch every game, but also finding other creative ways to stay connected with its fans as games are taking place in a bubble environment. Additionally, I loved the tweets from yesterday’s Boston Pride contest. Kudos to the Pride’s social media team – keep up the great work with keeping myself and others in the loop with all the action as I love what you’re tweeting!
The National Football League‘s (NFL) Conference Championships are set to kickoff tomorrow with the Green Bay Packers hosting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers followed by the Kansas City Chiefs entertaining the Buffalo Bills.
Last week, we attempted to go four-for-four – sadly, we picked only three of four games correct, which is not bad, but I guess I should not overlook the Bills this week, right?
Any who, let’s dish out some picks for tomorrow’s games – let the countdown for the conference finals begin!
Listen to this week’s Football Friday Podcast featuring Andrew Pezzelli and Zach Weiss on Apple Podcast and Spotify!
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Green Bay Packers (Sunday, January 24 at 3:05 p.m.): Sunday will mark the first time Tom Brady will be competing in the NFC Championship after appearing in the AFC title game 13 times as a member of the New England Patriots. Brady and the Buccaneers have enjoyed a magical ride this postseason and will arrive in Green Bay with a great deal of momentum. But can the Buccaneers defense slow down Aaron Rodgers and the offense, which has won 10 of their last 12 contests? I would presume they can – it is not a given, of course, but they did earlier this season. Additionally, can the Green Bay defense slow down Brady and the Buccaneers offense? Maybe? Either way, this has the making of an exciting match-up, but in the end, the Buccaneers – yes, the Buccaneers! – will prevail. PREDICTION: Tampa Bay 28, Green Bay 27
Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs (Sunday, January 24 at 6:40 p.m.): The Chiefs are making their third-straight appearance in the AFC Championship game after scoring a hard-fought 22-17 win last week against the Cleveland Browns. Patrick Mahomes is supposed to be under center for the Chiefs tomorrow after sustaining a concussion on Sunday. And as long as Mahomes is on the field then I think it is hard to pick against Kansas City. Buffalo has been a great story this season – I really like Josh Allen – but sadly, their exciting run toward the franchise’s first Super Bowl appearance since 1993 will conclude at Arrowhead Stadium with a heartbreaking defeat. Sorry, Bills Mafia! PREDICTION: Kansas City 31, Buffalo 21
By now you probably have heard that Tom Brady – yes, the former New England Patriots quarterback – is headed back to the conference championship for the ninth time in the last ten seasons. Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneersrallied to beat the New Orleans Saints, 30-20, last night in the NFC Divisional Round to secure a date next Sunday with Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.
For the most part, Brady’s trips to the conference championship have resulted in trips to the “big game” – that would be the Super Bowl, to be exact – while some have ended in disappointment. But Sunday will mark the veteran signal-caller’s first appearance in the NFC Championship after appearing in 13 AFC title games.
Being a history nerd, as well as a lifelong football fan, I thought we could get ready for this weekend’s big game by revisiting all of Tom Brady’s past appearances in the conference championship round, beginning with his initial appearance against the Pittsburgh Steelers in January 2002.
January 27, 2002: Eight days after leading the Patriots past the Oakland Raiders in what has been dubbed the “snow bowl,” Brady received some help from Drew Bledsoe, who replaced the young quarterback who sustained a sprained ankle late in the second quarter. Bledsoe completed 10 of 21 passes for 102 yards and one touchdown while the defense limited Pittsburgh to just two touchdowns during the final two sessions.
January 18, 2004: Eight days after a dramatic win over the Tennessee Titans, Tom Brady and the Patriots outlasted Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts, 24-14.
While Brady tossed one touchdown in the win, it was the New England defense, specifically Ty Law, who highlighted the victory – the unit intercepted Manning four times while recording four sacks.
New England would advance to the Super Bowl and beat the Carolina Panthers.
January 23, 2005: Supposedly, Tom Brady was sick prior to his team’s championship meeting with the Pittsburgh Steelers, but he looked pretty good once the game commenced. Brady completed 14 of 21 passes for 207 yards while Corey Dillon led all rushers with 73 yards on 24 carries.
New England would represent the AFC in the Super Bowl two weeks later where they would beat the Philadelphia Eagles by a score of 24-21.
January 21, 2007: After scoring back-to-back wins over the New York Jets and San Diego Chargers, the New England Patriots entered the 2006 AFC Championship game with a lot of momentum. However, it slowly disappeared early in the third quarter as Indianapolis erased a 21-6 deficit to beat the Patriots, 38-34.
The Colts limited Tom Brady and the Patriots offense to just 13 points in the second half while Peyton Manning finished the game with 349 passing yards and two touchdowns (one passing and one rushing).
January 20, 2008: Tom Brady played the role of gunslinger in this particular match-up with the San Diego Chargers by completing 22 of 33 passes for 209 yards, two touchdowns, and three interceptions as the Patriots won their 18th straight contest before falling to the New York Giants two weeks later in the Super Bowl.
January 22, 2012: This was perhaps the most dramatic AFC Championship game for Tom Brady and the Patriots as they somehow edged the Baltimore Ravens, 23-20, thanks to a missed field goal by Billy Cundiff.
Tom Brady rushed for one score in the win, while BenJarvus Green-Ellis rushed for a game-high 68 yards on 15 carries.
Sadly, the dramatic win was quickly forgotten two weels later when New England lost to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl for the second time in four seasons.
January 20, 2013: Tom Brady completed 29 of 54 passes for 320 yards and one touchdown – he also threw two interceptions – but it wasn’t enough to send the Patriots past the Ravens at Gillette Stadium. Baltimore erased memories of the 2011 championship meeting with an impressive 28-13 victory, thanks to three touchdown passes from Joe Flacco.
January 19, 2014: For the second-straight season, the Patriots won 13 of 18 contests, but their final outing with the Denver Broncos concluded with a 26-16 setback. Peyton Manning completed 32 of 43 passes for 400 yards and two touchdowns while the Broncos defense limited Tom Brady to just two touchdowns – one through the air, one on the ground.
New England’s defense intercepted Andrew Luck twice – they also limited Dan Herron to 51 rushing yards on 10 carries.
The Patriots returned to the Super Bowl for the first time since the 2011 season to beat the Seattle Seahawks, thanks to a late-game interception by Malcolm Butler.
January 24, 2016: Weeks after losing to the Denver Broncos in the regular season, the Orange and Blue scored their second victory of the 2015 season against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Brady was sacked four times and picked-off twice, but he did toss one touchdown against a talented Broncos defense.
Peyton Manning concluded the game 17 of 32 for 176 yards and two touchdowns. He was also sacked three times.
January 22, 2017: Tom Brady and the New England Patriots were the better team in this meeting with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Brady tossed three touchdowns, including two to Chris Hogan, who concluded the contest with nine grabs on 12 targets for 180 yards.
January 21, 2018: After knocking off the Tennessee Titans eight days earlier, the Patriots scored their second-straight postseason win against a member of the AFC South. New England rallied to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars, 24-20, thanks to two touchdown passes from Tom Brady to Danny Amendola.
Sadly, the exciting win against the Jaguars would follow with a disappointing setback to the Philadelphia Eagles.
January 20, 2019: Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead highlighted an overtime win against the Kansas City Chiefs by combining for 154 rushing yards and four touchdowns. Burkhead clinched the victory in overtime while Tom Brady concluded the contest with 348 passing yards and one touchdowns.
Kansas City did intercept Brady twice while Patrick Mahomes completed 16 of 31 passes for 295 yards and three touchdowns. New England would go onto capture their sixth Super Bowl with a 13-3 victory over the Los Angeles Rams.
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!
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. 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.