Not many would deem last year’s UW men’s soccer season a success. The team finished with an overall record of 8-11 and a 2-4 record against Big Ten opponents. They ended up tied for fifth in the conference and lost to Indiana in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament.”The experience wasn’t there sometimes,” sophomore forward Victor Diaz said of last year’s team.This year’s squad is optimistic, however, and hopes that it can continue the success already earned in the preseason.”We’re just looking to keep the flow going of what we’ve built up,” senior captain Aaron Hohlbein said. “We’re looking good as a team; we’re coming together nicely.”UW head coach Jeff Rohrman believes that the success of this year’s team lies on the shoulders of its strong senior class.”Certainly, having eight seniors and their leadership and experience is going to play a big part of how we close games out and how we win games late,” Rohrman said.While experience may have been lacking in the 2005 team, last year’s shortcoming is this season’s strength. The Badgers will see their entire starting roster return from last season.”We’ve got a very deep team this year,” Rohrman added. “We didn’t lose any starters from last year. We’re very solid and very good in a lot of places.”No single player stands out to Rohrman as the team’s go-to guy, but he acknowledges the impact many of his players will have.”Through the middle, we’ve got (freshman) Pablo Delgado, (sophomore) Kenny Dix, (junior) Erik Ortega and (junior) B.J. Goodman — all very good players,” Rohrman said. “Up top, Victor Diaz [is] able to score goals, and Reid Johnson (Sr.) has had a very good preseason. I think we’re looking forward to some good things out of Reid this year too.”The coach also emphasized the leadership ability of Hohlbein.”He’s the glue that keeps us together,” Rohrman said. “He brings a peace of mind, and a sense of composure and confidence within the team.”Hohlbein, who will serve his second year as team captain, has already been named to the preseason third-team All-American team by College Soccer News. Last year, he was named to the all-Big Ten first team. The Badgers’ captain polished his skills this summer by playing for a men’s amateur semi-pro team in Madison, the Princeton 56ers.Senior Jake Settle will return between the pipes as the team’s goalkeeper.”Jake demonstrated last year that he’s capable of playing in some great matches and keeping us in some great matches,” Rohrman said.Some of the freshmen on the team have already showed signs of promise during the preseason as well. Delgado — a forward/midfielder from Madrid, Spain — and forward red-shirt freshman Eric Conklin each had significant contributions in the team’s first two exhibition games, with both players scoring a pair of goals each.Two other first-year players have already received preseason accolades, as goalkeeper Ryan Vint, an All-American from Plymouth, Minn., and midfielder Taylor Waspi from Deer Park, Ill., were named to College Soccer News’ Top-100 Freshman list. “[The freshman] are giving us added depth and added strength in a number of different areas,” Rohrman said. “Certainly, they can all play at this level and do some good things.”One thing the team will be focusing on heavily this year is not overlooking any of their opponents, no matter who it is they’re facing.”That’s one of the things we’ve had problems with in the years before,” Hohlbein said. “We kind of overlooked some teams. Every team on our schedule is going to be tough.”After using the preseason to fix some mistakes made last year, the Badgers are ready to take to the field.”We have to do what we know and we have to be tough on the field,” Diaz said. “We’ve been playing more as a team, playing tougher, and we have more enthusiasm.”Expect the Badgers to take the season one game at a time and not get ahead of themselves as they have done in the past. After all, as Diaz puts it, “Every game counts.”
BRYAN FAUST/Herald photoWhen the Wisconsin offense takes the field in Iowa City Saturday, there is a distinct possibility John Stocco will not be under center for the first time in 35 games.Stocco — who left Saturday’s game in obvious pain midway through the fourth quarter after being sacked by Penn State linebacker Sean Lee — will be reevaluated daily by the UW medical staff to determine his status for this week’s Big Ten finale.”I thought the signs coming out of the doctor’s voice yesterday were very encouraging,” UW head coach Bret Bielema said in his weekly press conference Monday. “We don’t practice on Mondays and didn’t really have any practice time on the field Sunday, so whether or not he is available Tuesday will be determined Tuesday.”According to Bielema, the hit that finally knocked Stocco out of the game was not the first time he was roughed up Saturday.Stocco took his first shot in the third quarter as he rolled toward the sideline on a naked bootleg and was hit by reigning Butkus Award winner Paul Posluszny.”We basically made an evaluation on the sideline at the time of his ability to function as a quarterback, and John felt comfortable and everyone did, otherwise we wouldn’t have put him back out on the field,” Bielema said.If Stocco is unable to start for UW, Tyler Donovan will get the nod to start his first collegiate game.Although the junior has been less than impressive in limited game action this season, Bielema is confident in his ability to lead the team.”[Saturday] we knew John wasn’t going to be able to finish the game, and we asked Tyler on the sideline what he was comfortable with and what he was able to do and we knew we needed him to go out and seal a victory for us … and he was able to do that.”Another factor contributing to Bielema’s confidence is that Donovan would be surrounded by regular starters, as opposed to the less-experienced players he played with in his previous game action.Hawkeye for an EyeMany members of the UW football team have extra motivation for Saturday’s contest. For one, this year’s crop of seniors has never beaten Iowa — UW’s last victory over the Hawkeyes was in 2001, a streak that includes Iowa spoiling two UW parties the last two years. In 2004, a UW victory in Iowa City would have netted the Badgers an improbable trip to the Rose Bowl, and last season Iowa defeated the host Badgers in Barry Alvarez’s final home game.”I think so,” Bielema said as to whether the seniors may have a personal score to settle against the only Big Ten team they have yet to defeat. “Our guys are very proud individuals, they like to carry things over time, and I think it will provide a little extra motivation.” One might think that a coach who previously played and coached at Iowa and has a Hawkeye tattoo on his leg would have a little extra motivation, but that is not the case. “It’s very well-documented my history and my past with the University of Iowa, but the key word there is past … I am a strong believer in history is great to read about, but it really does not affect anything in the present or in the future.”Joe Pa updateBielema began his press conference by extending condolences to Penn State coach Joe Paterno, who broke his left leg and tore ligaments in his knee during a sideline collision Saturday.It was reported Monday that Paterno is expected to make a full recovery from the injury, and should be ready to coach the Nittany Lions next Saturday against Temple.Later, the topic shifted to an issue Paterno was irate about before leaving Saturday’s game. With 23 seconds remaining and UW set to kickoff to Penn State after a Paul Hubbard touchdown, Bielema called for consecutive offside kickoff attempts in an effort to run off time before halftime.While Paterno vehemently protested the intentional infraction, Bielema shrugged off any extra hype surrounding the controversial strategy.”I am hired here to win football games and graduate student-athletes,” Bielema explained. “With 24 seconds left on the clock, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t going to affect our GPA, whether or not I did what I did, but it could have a direct result of winning and losing football games.”I don’t necessarily agree with the rule, the way it’s written,” Bielema continued, discussing a new rule to college football this year in which the game clock starts when the ball is kicked, and not when it is received, “but I knew the rule and I wanted to maximize it.”
Published on November 5, 2014 at 12:12 am Contact Kevin: email@example.com Brendan Flanagan can’t remember when he started playing ice hockey.He does remember giving high-fives to the St. Lawrence University hockey players his dad coached in the family’s hometown of Canton, New York.Now Brendan plays left wing for Syracuse’s men’s club team and Paul Flanagan is the women’s Division I coach. Their shared love for hockey is a large part of their relationship, but they also have a connection that transcends beyond the walls of the hockey rink. Brendan not only looks up to his father as a role model, but as a hero who literally saved his life.After gym class one day when Brendan was 10, another child shoved him in the locker room. The force pushed his head into a locker and the left side of his abdomen into the corner of a bench. Brendan was feeling “out of it,” and he was dragged to the school nurse.He was given an ice pack and sent home with his dad, but after bringing him home, Paul felt that something wasn’t right.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“I threw up on the way out from the school, and he said I looked pale, I looked green,” Brendan said. “And he said something told him that something wasn’t right. He called it divine intervention that something told him that something’s not right.”Paul took him to the hospital in Potsdam, New York. A CAT scan showed that Brendan’s spleen had ruptured and that he was bleeding internally. His veins had collapsed significantly, and after struggling to insert IV needles, the hospital workers successfully performed surgery, Brendan said.They told him that if two to five more minutes passed, he may have died.It was an experience that deepened their connection that’s kept them close, partly through their passion for hockey. The conversations they have about the sport bring them together, Paul said, and often lead to discussions that aren’t related to the sport.They enjoy watching NHL games together, not in support of any particular team but simply for admiration for the game.Even though he was exposed to the sport largely due to his father’s role as an assistant coach in the St. Lawrence men’s program and a head coach for both the SLU and SU women’s teams, he said he never felt pressure from his father to play hockey.“I think they have a very good relationship and being around hockey, youth hockey and college hockey as much as I have been the one thing I think is really nice is that my husband has never pushed the hockey on Brendan,” said Sharon Flanagan, Brendan’s mother and Paul’s wife. “It was all something Brendan just loved for his own sake, it was his thing that he liked.”Brendan also played football and lacrosse at Jamesville-DeWitt High School in DeWitt, New York. He tried out for the SU lacrosse team as a walk-on during his freshman year, but didn’t make the team.Instead, he became involved with the hockey team in a matter of days.“I think everything happens for a reason,” Brendan said. “The guys I met on the hockey team are the greatest guys I’ve ever met and they’re all my best friends, so no regrets or anything.”His experiences with the team have been largely successful so far. Last year the team won the regular season championship of the Northeast Collegiate Hockey League, earning a spot in the American Collegiate Hockey Association Division I National Championship tournament for the first time.“He definitely lays it all on the line I think for the team. That’s definitely his best attribute,” said junior forward and assistant captain JR LaPointe. “He’s not afraid to block a shot. He always plays through injuries … He’ll do anything for the team in order for us to win and we certainly all feed off that I think everyday.”Brendan enjoys playing for the team and with the people that have become his close friends. Paul just enjoys watching.“You can’t put a price tag on the friendships he’s made, the camaraderie that he enjoys,” Paul said. “From practice to practice, from game to game when they go on the road.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+
A perfect 8-0 singles record this season is a big feat, but the only bigger feat for USC sophomore Emilio Gomez was hoisting the singles trophy at the Battle in the Bay Classic this weekend.Gomez, ranked No. 66 in International Tennis Association rankings and seeded No. 2 in the tournament, defeated Pepperdine’s Hugh Clarke 6-4, 6-3 in the Battle in the Bay Classic finals in San Francisco to take home the singles title. With the victory over Clarke, Gomez remains undefeated in singles play and becomes the second consecutive USC player to win the singles title in the Battle in the Bay Classic.Gomez’s victories over Stanford’s Robert Stineman, Pacific’s Alex Golding, San Diego’s Thibaut Visy and Boise State’s Andy Bettles in the four-day competition set up the finals matchup against Clarke.Through five matches in San Francisco, Gomez lost just one set. Visy, who defeated USC freshman Eric Johnson in the second round, captured the first set against Gomez in the quarterfinals 6-1. Gomez bounced back by winning the next two sets 6-3, 6-1 to take the match before his 6-2, 6-3 win over Bettles in the semifinals.Gomez and freshman Eric Johnson also paired up in the 16-team doubles bracket, advancing to the semifinals before losing 7-9 to a Pepperdine team that included Clarke and sophomore David Sofaer.“We played pretty well altogether,” Johnson said. “There wasn’t anything strategically I would have done differently. We played a good match.”Clarke and Sofaer eventually garnered the doubles title over Stanford’s Stineman and Walker Kehrer with an 8-5 win.In other singles draw play, freshman Jonny Wang barely missed a trip to the semifinals, falling to Stanford’s Daniel Ho in a narrow 6-3, 6-7 (6), 6-7 (2) loss on Saturday. Before this quarterfinal matchup, Wang had upended both Saint Mary’s Gavin Leon and Boise State’s Garrett Patton in straight sets.“I definitely could work on getting balls deeper and being more aggressive, but I think I was pretty consistent throughout the matches,” Wang said.Johnson also represented USC in the singles draw, advancing past the first round by taking advantage of Saint Mary’s Saad Benkirane’s weaker forehand in a 5-7, 7-5, 6-2 comeback on Thursday.San Diego’s Visy ended Johnson’s run with a 6-1, 6-1 victory in the second round Friday.“[Visy] had very good defense,” Johnson said. “My offense was doing well. I just wasn’t finishing points very well, and that’s not going to work.”Had Johnson advanced, he would have faced Gomez in the quarterfinals.After traveling over the country for four different fall tournaments, the USC’s men’s tennis team will finally get some action closer to home in the ITA Southwest Regional Championships in Pepperdine, Calif. from Thursday through next Monday.
Published on April 12, 2016 at 6:47 pm Contact Byron: firstname.lastname@example.org Facebook Twitter Google+ For the third time this year, junior hurdler Freddie Crittenden III has been named the Atlantic Coast Conference men’s track performer of the week.At the Miami Hurricane Alumni Invitational, Crittenden won the 110-meter hurdles in a time of 13.53 seconds, marking the second-fastest time in the nation as well as Crittenden’s personal best in the event. Crittenden’s time is also the best among those attempting to qualify for the NCAA east regional.On Feb. 28, he led Syracuse to its first ACC indoor track and field championship by winning the 60-meter hurdles by over 0.2 seconds. Crittenden then finished second at the NCAA championships with a time of 7.64 seconds.Crittenden and the Orange take this weekend off before returning to action at the Auburn War Eagle Invitational or Virginia Challenge on April 22. Comments AdvertisementThis is placeholder text
Mr. Herbert Mensah, President and Board Chairman of Ghana Rugby, has in a Christmas message delivered from his home in London to the Ghana Rugby family congratulated everyone on a wonderful year for Ghana Rugby.“It has been a year of tremendous success and achievement for Ghana Rugby. We started the year knowing that we have won the Bronze Cup in 2018 not knowing awaits us in the year ahead,” Mensah said.According to Mensah, 2019 delivered a year where the Clubs, including the women’s sevens sides, improved a lot in their performances from the previous year in the annual Ghana Rugby Club Championship.Mensah also said, “We saw the emergence of a U20 men’s squad who competed in the continental Barthes Cup for the first time and who now knows what it will take to do even better in 2020.”He mentioned that the most significant achievements for 2019 included:The establishment of the Tri-nations competition between Ghana, Ivory Coast, and Nigeria as part of the WARS (West African Rugby Series) Programme, winning the Challenge Trophy in Tunisia by the Ghana Rugby Women’s Sevens Ghana Eagles in their first-ever appearance of the Rugby Africa competition, duplication of the women’s feat by the Men’s Sevens Ghana Rugby Eagles in South Africa when they beat Morocco in a thrilling exhibition of sevens rugby and progressing to the Pool stage of the new Rugby Africa Cup when the Ghana Rugby Men’s 15s Eagles beat Botswana in Ghana in November.“Even though we did not qualify for the 2020 Olympics the winning of the Challenge Trophies by both the men’s and women’s squad was a major achievement and testament to the enormous amount of work and dedication put in by the technical bench and playing body,” Mensah said.Mensah also thanked the key members of the technical bench including Coach Lovemore ‘Dallas’ Kuzorera supported by Collin Osborne and Stuart Aimer from afar in the UK. He also made special reference to Dr. Ross Potgieter in South Africa who played a major role in ensuring that the players were not only prepared but also ensured speedy recovery after match ailments and injuries.“One can also never leave out our Regional Rugby Associations, GARA, and CentWest, who plays a fundamental role in the development of rugby in Ghana. A special word of congratulations and thanks must go to the President of CentWest, Mr. James Nunoo, and his team who staged two very successful tournaments in Elmina in 2019,” Mensah said.Mensah concluded that 2020 has already started and he urged the Ghana Rugby Family to work harder in 2020 to help Ghana Rugby to keep the momentum of the rapid rise of Ghana Rugby and to help the Union with its main task of building character in Ghana.About Ghana RugbyGhana Rugby is the official full member of both World Rugby (2017) and Rugby Africa in Ghana-West Africa and is responsible for the management and development of the Game Rugby Union in the country.The Union is governed by a Constitution and administers five KPAs (Key Performance Areas) namely: (1) Youth Development & Growth through the World Rugby “Get Into Rugby” Programme, (2) Women in Ghana Rugby, (3) Training & Education, (4) Domestic Competitions and (5) International Performance.
Basketball club Igokea from BiH village Aleksandrovac near Laktaši is a true sports miracle. Coming from a village of just around 1000 people, Igokea is currently the best team of ABA league and it has the chance to win the title of the best basketball team in former Yugoslavia leaving behind great teams such as :Red Star, Partizan, Cibona and Olimpija and thus protects the honour of BiH basketball.President of the club Goran Dodik says that the success of Igokea is not an accident, but it is the result of hard work of team mates, desire for victory, and great devotion of sports man of Aleksandrovac.Igokea still needs to play a series of matches in ABA league and time will show is this team capable of overcoming the pressure and win the title which will propel the team to the society of the best teams of Europe.Regardless of everything, Igokea shows that with hard work, determination, professionalism, unity in the end pays off quite well, reports Anadolu Agency.
by Tracy McCue, Sumner Newscow â€” The third round NCAA Tournament games (or the second round games for us traditionalists) will start today. Two of the three Kansas college basketball teams are still playing. K-State was eliminated by LaSalle in a game yours truly doesn’t want to talk about. Here is the schedule for Wichita State and the Kansas Jayhawks. Wichita State is playing Gonzaga at 7:40 p.m. tonight on TNT which is Channel 15 or Channel 533 in HD on the Sumner Communication Cable system. Kansas is playing North Carolina and the old former Jayhawk coach Roy Williams on Sunday at 4 p.m. on Channel 12 and Channel 512 in HD.And don’t hesitate to take something to calm your nerves. It’s been that kind of tournament. For the rest of the TV basketball schedule just look here:Good luck and don’t let your blown up bracket make a mess in the living room. Close Forgot password? Please put in your email: Send me my password! Close message Login This blog post All blog posts Subscribe to this blog post’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Subscribe to this blog’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Follow the discussion Comments (6) Logging you in… Close Login to IntenseDebate Or create an account Username or Email: Password: Forgot login? Cancel Login Close WordPress.com Username or Email: Password: Lost your password? Cancel Login Dashboard | Edit profile | Logout Logged in as Admin Options Disable comments for this page Save Settings Sort by: Date Rating Last Activity Loading comments… You are about to flag this comment as being inappropriate. Please explain why you are flagging this comment in the text box below and submit your report. The blog admin will be notified. Thank you for your input. 0 Vote up Vote down macshasta · 386 weeks ago It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Report Reply 0 replies · active 386 weeks ago -1 Vote up Vote down Carol · 386 weeks ago Thanks, Tracy. This is a real service to those of us who are planning to watch all three of our Kansas teams. Report Reply 0 replies · active 386 weeks ago -2 Vote up Vote down Duke Fan · 385 weeks ago Speaking of blown up brackets. I had Georgetown winning the whole thing in one of my brackets. Report Reply 0 replies · active 385 weeks ago -1 Vote up Vote down anonymous · 385 weeks ago Go A-R-I-Z-O-N-A ! Report Reply 0 replies · active 385 weeks ago +2 Vote up Vote down Billy · 385 weeks ago “K-State was eliminated by LaSalle in a game yours truly doesn’t want to talk about.” Typical. Report Reply 1 reply · active 385 weeks ago 0 Vote up Vote down Lawrence Brown · 385 weeks ago “K-State was eliminated by Baylor in a game yours truly doesn’t want to talk about.” FYP Report Reply Post a new comment Enter text right here! Comment as a Guest, or login: Login to IntenseDebate Login to WordPress.com Login to Twitter Go back Tweet this comment Connected as (Logout) Email (optional) Not displayed publicly. Name Email Website (optional) Displayed next to your comments. Not displayed publicly. If you have a website, link to it here. Posting anonymously. Tweet this comment Submit Comment Subscribe to None Replies All new comments Comments by IntenseDebate Enter text right here! Reply as a Guest, or login: Login to IntenseDebate Login to WordPress.com Login to Twitter Go back Tweet this comment Connected as (Logout) Email (optional) Not displayed publicly. Name Email Website (optional) Displayed next to your comments. Not displayed publicly. If you have a website, link to it here. Posting anonymously. Tweet this comment Cancel Submit Comment Subscribe to None Replies All new comments
(Getty Images) https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/b6/4a/aaron-rodgers-112519-getty-ftr_mhrk1f8g89pv1lt7583ynk68t.jpg?t=-1583147778&w=500&quality=80 Who’s your pick to win the AFC?Iyer: Ravens. Jackson is headed to an epic showdown with Mahomes in the projected AFC championship game. But the defenses also will dictate much of what happens there. The Ravens, as previously discussed, get a little more trust on that side of the ball. The Chiefs are almost as complete as the Ravens, but the game is in Baltimore, a big tilt in the Ravens’ favor.Bender: Ravens. Notice I picked the Patriots to beat the Chiefs. The matchup between Jackson and Patrick Mahomes would be even better, but I have a feeling Jackson will take the torch from Tom Brady in emphatic fashion in the AFC championship game. John Harbaugh has split his playoff meetings with New England, and all of those were in Foxboro. Baltimore will uses that home-field advantage to get back to the Super Bowl.Haislop: Ravens. They’re simply too good. This isn’t to say the Chiefs or Patriots aren’t worthy contenders, because both are capable of knocking off the No. 1 seed; all it would require is an effective game plan to contain Lamar Jackson. Good luck with that, though.Who’s your pick to win the NFC?Iyer: 49ers. OK, this might seem boring to go chalk. But San Francisco has been the best team in the conference from wire to wire with a loaded resume. There are almost no issues offensively and they will restore many of their strengths defensively with the stakes raised. Also, no other team in the NFC has a Kittle. How can you see Kittle not playing in the Super Bowl at this point? He’s Kittle. He’s that good. He is the best tight end in the league. Stop selling Kelce. Or Ertz. It’s Kittle. And he’s on the 49ers. And he’s’ awesome. And we need him and Jimmy G doing their thing in Miami. And they will.Bender: Saints. I like them to win big at home against the Vikings. If New Orleans can go on the road and beat Green Bay, then this team will feel invincible heading into the rematch with San Francisco, which likely will have to face Seattle again. After heart-breaking losses against the Vikings and Rams the last two seasons, the Saints will break through to the Super Bowl after another thriller with the Niners.Haislop: 49ers. The first-round bye is crucial for them to be as healthy as possible against the Eagles, Seahawks or Vikings in the divisional round. San Francisco, though, has proven itself to be the most complete team in the conference even when shorthanded. (SN Illustration) https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/d9/5/nfl-playoff-bracket-122919-ftr_18s8qw5w48zni1rvgnrljrc017.png?t=1427033207&w=500&quality=80 (Getty Images) https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/92/9f/patrick-mahomes-12222019-getty-ftrjpg_1s28qt3uoqmtb18d9o8ledgmbi.jpg?t=821366543&w=500&quality=80 NFL playoff picks, predictions 2020What team playing on wild-card weekend is the biggest threat to win it all?Iyer: Saints. They put in a dominant performance in Week 17 to show they are a complete team. Drew Brees is sizzling and Alvin Kamara is hot again. Michael Thomas is unstoppable. The defense holds up well against the run and has plenty of playmakers against the pass.Bender: Saints. I’m temped to go with New England here, but New Orleans is playing better right now. The Saints have been close the last two years, and they have lost just two regular-season road games in the last two seasons. New Orleans is equipped to make yet another deep postseason run.Haislop: Patriots. With all due respect to the Saints, who may or may not be the hottest team in the NFL entering the postseason, they have an absurdly difficult path to navigate in the NFC. New England does, too, of course, since it fell to the No. 3 seed and will have to play in Kansas City (and maybe in Baltimore) if it gets out of the wild-card round. But for all the chatter about the Patriots’ offensive struggles this season, they still finished seventh in the NFL in points per game. We simply refuse to count out Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.Which of the four bye-week teams is most prime for an upset?Iyer: Packers. They will play either the Saints, Seahawks or Eagles in the divisional round. The Saints are an extremely tough draw in Lambeau Field, with the same 13-3 record and a more prolific offense that won’t be fazed by the outdoors as much everyone wants to still think. The Seahawks have been a Packers nemesis in recent playoffs past. The Eagles were able to win a Thursday night game in Green Bay in Week 4. Aaron Rodgers will need to be Aaron Rodgers at his best to survive and advance against anyone.Bender: Chiefs. A popular pick here will be the Packers (likely against the Saints in a toss-up game), so let’s shake it up. How many times have we seen this movie? The Patriots’ stock is at an all-time low, they don’t look good on offense, and controversy surrounds the team. Kansas City won six in a row to close the regular season. The Patriots are still good enough to make a run out of the wild-card round, and they will prove it when Bill Belichick outwits Andy Reid on the big stage yet again. Haislop: Packers. This is all about their potential matchup with the Saints in the divisional round. Even though that game would be played in Green Bay, New Orleans is capable of winning a defensive struggle in harsh weather conditions. The Saints also have been the more consistent team this season, though their pass defense could be an issue against Aaron Rodgers. The NFC is even more of a jumbled, loaded mess, making predictions for that side of the bracket extra challenging. The 49ers and Saints, two of the top three seeds, enter the playoffs with the same odds to win the Super Bowl. And the Packers and Seahawks aren’t far behind.Given what we’ve learned about all 12 NFL playoff teams over the course of the season, and considering how each stands with injuries, etc., as the postseason begins, here are Sporting News’ predictions for the NFL playoffs. NFL writers Vinnie Iyer, Bill Bender and Tadd Haislop weigh in:MORE NFL PLAYOFFS:AFC & NFC bracket | TV schedule | Wild-card game predictions We can only hope our predictions for the NFL playoffs in 2020, all the way through Super Bowl 54, turn out better than our preseason picks. The team we projected to win it all failed to make the postseason, but many of the other teams we liked going into the season are alive and well in the NFL playoff bracket.One of the teams we predicted would reach the Super Bowl this season, Kansas City, is sitting pretty with a first-round bye in the AFC bracket. The Chiefs, though, have the second best odds to win the Super Bowl behind the top-seeded Ravens. (SN Illustration) https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/3f/5/super-bowl-54-111119-ftr_188clf5ksf75h16m3qiqaeniv4.jpg?t=1543889518&w=500&quality=80 Getty Images https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/3b/b9/lamar-jackson-ftrjpg_1tyeuj5r746ljzgz305vk7ugo.jpg?t=962845655&w=500&quality=80 What offense do you trust the most?Iyer: Chiefs. When it comes to trust, let’s go with the offense with the most recent promising playoff experience, and they get the slight edge over the Saints. The Ravens, 49ers and Packers are all new at this with their current offenses. Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and Damien Williams under Andy Reid and Eric Bieniemy works at a high level, with additional playmaking pop from rookie Mecole Hardman.Bender: Ravens. Baltimore averaged 200 and 200 between the air and ground, and that kind of balance with the creativity Greg Roman has shown with Lamar Jackson is impossible to defend at times. The Ravens used Week 17 to start getting healthy, and as long as Mark Ingram and Mark Andrews are full go, this unit will be ready .Haislop: Ravens. Simply put: If the Ravens are clicking, their offense is the most complete and unstoppable force in the NFL. Even when they’re not clicking, Lamar Jackson has proven he can improvise enough to produce points.What defense do you trust the most?Iyer: Ravens. This is why they are strong Super Bowl favorites. Let’s not let their offense get all the attention. They are great against the run, have an underrated edge pass rush, cover well at linebacker and are extremely deep and versatile in the secondary. They rally to the ball well together in Wink Martindale’s 3-4 scheme with plenty of savvy. These Ravens don’t have the marquee of the Ray Lewis and Ed Reed days, but in this era, they are strong enough to back a champion.Bender: 49ers. I just love the defensive front that features Arik Armstead, Nick Bosa, Dee Ford and DeForest Buckner. All four have 6.5 sacks or more, and defensive line is a proven winner in the playoffs. Robert Saleh has this team playing at a high level, and that will be necessary against quarterbacks such as Russell Wilson, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers. Haislop: Bills. We would have gone with the NFL’s No. 1 scoring defense from the regular season rather than the No. 2 scoring defense had the Patriots not gotten shredded by the lowly Dolphins in Week 17. Buffalo is stingy and stacked at all levels defensively. If the Bills get bounced from the playoffs, it won’t be because they gave up too many points. Who’s your pick for playoff MVP?Iyer: Lamar Jackson, QB, Ravens. The regular-season NFL MVP hasn’t won a Super Bowl in 20 years. The last to do it was Kurt Warner for the Rams in Super Bowl 34 after the 1999 season. Jackson will be well rested and ready to run at full speed for the league’s best-ever rushing offense. The Chiefs were the only team in the playoffs who kind of, sort of slowed him and the offense down. Don’t bank on that happening a second time in Baltimore.Bender: Drew Brees, QB, Saints. Brees will have to earn it. The Vikings, Packers and 49ers — the projected path the Saints would need to navigate — all allow fewer than 20 points per game. Brees threw 16 TDs and no interceptions in New Orleans’ last five games. He turns 41 on Jan. 15. Will that be the week he leads New Orleans back to the Super Bowl?Haislop: Lamar Jackson, QB, Ravens. If Jackson simply does in the playoffs what he did in the regular season — or something close — this will be an easy call. Baltimore will draw a worthy defensive challenge from Houston, Buffalo or Tennessee in the divisional round, but there’s no reason to believe any of those teams can stop the runaway regular-season MVP.What under-the-radar player will become a star in the playoffs?Iyer: Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, 49ers. He was mistakenly labeled a caretaker for a team with effective rushing offense and strong all-around defense early in the season. But as they have had more issues running and the defense has been hurt by injuries, they have pivoted to becoming more explosive in the passing game with Garoppolo locked into his two go-to guys, rookie wide receiver Deebo Samuel and celestial tight end George Kittle. Jimmy G rated 102.0 this season and threw for 8.4 yards per attempt and now has a career record of 21-5. Go figure he still needs a big first playoff run to convince more that he already has arrived as a top-flight quarterback.Bender: Marlon Humphrey, CB, Ravens. Earl Thomas gets the headlines, but Humphrey ranks second on the team in tackles (65), and he leads the team with 15 passes defended. In a postseason where the Ravens could see Deshaun Watson and either Tom Brady or Patrick Mahomes, somebody has to make the big play in the secondary. We like Humphrey to be that guy.Haislop: Za’Darius Smith, OLB, Packers. Nobody in Green Bay considers Smith an under-the-radar player, but the fact that he was snubbed from the Pro Bowl signals a lack of respect for one of the best defenders on the team. Smith will have chances to wreck the divisional playoff game, especially if the Packers draw the banged-up Eagles or Seahawks. Who wins Super Bowl 54?Iyer: Ravens. The best game of the year was the sleepy, rainy game between the Ravens and the 49ers in Week 13. It was a perfect blend of timely offense and defense and went down to the wire, with the Ravens winning the battle of attrition, 20-17, at the end, on a Justin Tucker field goal. The rematch of that game will be more like Super Bowl 47, when the Ravens outlasted the 49ers, 34-31. Let’s call it Ravens 27, 49ers 24 in an instant classic, shall we? Put John Harbaugh in the Hall of Fame already.Bender: Saints. If you’re going to push New Orleans this far, you might as well take the final step. Sean Payton has learned from the heart-breaking losses of the past two seasons, and the offense keeps chugging along with the running game and Michael Thomas leading the way. The defense is good enough to win on the road. The Saints will win a thrilling shootout with Lamar Jackson and the Ravens. This comes a few weeks after LSU wins the national championship. That leads to the greatest Mardi Gras ever in the Bayou.Haislop: 49ers. With an athletic defense to challenge Lamar Jackson and a diverse offense to keep Baltimore’s defense guessing, San Francisco is uniquely equipped to handle the Ravens should these teams meet again in the Super Bowl. Such a matchup would have instant classic written all over it.
Bishop Baylon encourages faithful in Albay to help Taal evacuees Hotdog’s Dennis Garcia dies National Historical team rescues Amorsolos, artifacts from Taal SEA Games: PH stays unscathed at 2-0 in ice hockey LATEST STORIES Police seize P68-M worth of ‘shabu’ in Pasay MOST READ Search on for 5 Indonesians snatched anew in Lahad Datu Marcosian mode: Duterte threatens to arrest water execs ‘one night’ “I told the father (and coach Emerson Obiena) we’re thinking of the long term here. We have the Asian Games, the Olympics and World Championships. SEA Games gold is good but if he aggravates his injury we don’t want it,” said Juico.READ: PH gold medal bet Obiena injures ACL, out of SEA GamesFEATURED STORIESSPORTSEnd of his agony? SC rules in favor of Espinosa, orders promoter heirs to pay boxing legendSPORTSRedemption is sweet for Ginebra, Scottie ThompsonSPORTSMayweather beats Pacquiao, Canelo for ‘Fighter of the Decade’The 22-year-old, 6-foot-2 Obiena hurt his ACL and was even reported by Juico as needing surgery last Friday, one day before the team departed for this city.But Juico said EJ and his father insisted that the young pole vaulter is healthy enough to hunt for a gold in the event where he bagged a silver two years ago in Singapore. Britain’s Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to give up royal titles EJ Obiena has broken the national record 14 times and, at 21, looks very capable of raising the bar well beyond the 5.55 meters he achieved in a recent athletics meet in Singapore (photo).KUALA LUMPUR—Ernest John Obiena is set to compete in pole vault on Thursday despite fears that he injured his left ACL last week during training in Manila.This was confirmed by athletics chief Philip Ella Juico, who said Obiena will fly here in the morning just in time for the event in the afternoon at Bukit Jalil National Stadium.ADVERTISEMENT 787 earthquakes recorded in 24 hours due to restive Taal Volcano OSG plea to revoke ABS-CBN franchise ‘a duplicitous move’ – Lacson Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles02:11SEA GAMES 2019: PH’s Nesthy Petecio boxing featherweight final (HIGHLIGHTS)08:07Athletes treated to a spectacle as SEA Games 2019 officially ends06:27SEA Games 2019: No surprises as Gilas Pilipinas cruises to basketball gold05:02SEA Games 2019: Philippines clinches historic gold in women’s basketball05:21Drama in karate: Tsukii ‘very sad’ over coach’s bullying, cold shoulder03:24PH’s James Palicte boxing light welterweight final (HIGHLIGHTS) Obiena, who has been training in Formia, Italy, has a personal best of 5.61 meters, which is deemed good for the SEA Games gold medal.The standing SEA Games record is only 5.30 meters.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next View comments Don’t miss out on the latest news and information.