Well, after the National Championship Monday night, we have three real football games left this season. So, I thought I would give my take on the next two.
Titans vs Chiefs 3:30
I have been picking the Titans throughout the playoffs. They have dominated the game by running the ball with Derrick Henry, which is one of the most important parts of any playoff run. They have also done two things considered impossible throughout the regular season: beating the high power Ravens offense, and beating the Patriots in New England in the playoffs. However, neither offense was as good throwing the ball as Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs are. The Chiefs have also probably had this weekend marked since they lost to the Patriots in OT last year. The Chiefs are going to come out hotter than they did against the Texans. The Chiefs will win, probably by quite a bit, even with the Titans terrific ground game. Final Score- Chiefs 35- Titans 17
Packers vs 49ers 6:40
This game I am expecting to be about as close as the early game, so not much of a game. I am not very convinced with the Packers. They have barely beaten some bad teams, like the Lions in Week 17. They seemed to just slide in as the two seed. The 49ers dismantled the Vikings last week, the Vikings were coming off a big win too, so they had some momentum. The 49ers also have a very strong defense, which should give the Packers more problems than they had last week against the Seahawks. Final Score 49ers 31- Packers 17
Christmas break has the best sports action of any break, from high school all the way up to the pros. I was also able to get to a wrestling meet, a swim meet, two boys’ basketball games, and two girls’ basketball games. So I’ll give my take from each sport as well as some college and pro sports.
Swim– Our boys’ and girls swim teams are the best in our area, no question. But things
get much tougher as we get into the Indianapolis area. Both teams dominated Jeff, the second best team in the area the Thursday before break. Then, two days later, we
performed pretty well again but not better than Brownsburg, an Indianapolis school. However, we should dominate sectionals again before scoring a few points and hopefully getting a couple of athletes on the all-state wall.
Wrestling-I am going to start this off by saying I do not know much about wrestling.
However, I went to the New Albany meet because it was Senior Night and to support my football teammate senior Sean Burk. We were much better than New Albany. They did not even have a wrestler for several weight classes, one of which was Burk’s. I could tell that we had some extremely talented wrestlers in senior Jonathan Kervin, junior Gavinn Alstott, and sophomore J Conway. They all three have a chance to win state and should definitely be all-state; that will be back-to-back all-state seasons for Alstott and Kervin. It is also worth noting that Alstott’s win against New Albany was his 100th as a Highlander.
Boys’ basketball– The boys’ are better than people were expecting. In fact, they have
been one of the most underrated teams in the state. They are not as good as Silver Creek, and have a tough matchup against the Dragons in February, but they proved in the game against Bloomington South on Dec. 21 that they can play with some of the best teams in the state. Most people were expecting a 20-point victory for Bloomington South, but after four quarters, the score was tied. Bloomington South eventually won on a buzzer beater. The officials cannot be blamed for the outcome of a game but I really think it is worth mentioning that the officiating was terrible. That game proved that we can play with the best teams. If junior Jake Heidbreder gets rolling, the seniors lead the team through four quarters, and the underclassmen can step-up, we are very dangerous.
Girls’ basketball– I have a very unusual view on the girls’ basketball team because I
practice with them several times a week. They are very young and expectations were not very high for them. But, throughout break, they have improved greatly. They have played pretty well at times. But their main problem is that they do not hit shots for about five minutes and dig themselves a hole. If they could be a little more consistent, they could very easily be .500 on the year. The next three years should be good, though, behind junior Grace Suer, who is injured this season and a major loss, sophomore Keegan Kaiser and freshman Mandy Hess.
Now to pro and college sports. I said the Titans would win in the week leading up to the Patriots Titans game. Then it happened. I think it ended the Patriots dynasty because for the first time in 10 years they will not be in the AFC Championship game, and, unless the Patriots get Rob Gronkowski to unretire or add some significant talent, they will not be back next year. They might not even win their division because the Bills look like a very talented and young team. On another note, the Titans will beat the Ravens this week.
I also decided over Break that Bowl season in the best season. On New Year’s Day, I watched close football games for almost 12 straight hours. If that is not the best day possible, I do not know what is. Anyway, LSU is ridiculous. They thumped Oklahoma in the playoff which I expected. Their QB, Joe Burrow, went off, setting several College Football Playoff records. The second game was closer. Clemson won on a TD late in the fourth quarter and then a pick to seal it with under a minute left in Ohio State’s endzone. The championship is Monday and even though I am rooting for Clemson, I am taking LSU in a closed game.
My other take from college football is that the SEC is the best conference. The SEC was 7-2 in bowl games and 7 SEC teams on LSU’s schedule played LSU closer than the best team in the Big 12, Oklahoma. It would not be a tough to argue looking back that Florida, Georgia, and maybe even Alabama should have been in over Oklahoma. I would go as far to say that a two loss SEC team should be in over a 1 loss team from any of the other Power 5 conferences.
My biggest take from break is that officiating is becoming a huge issue. Several of the meaningful close games over break had a significant seemingly bad call as a talking point following it. Again, the Saints got the short end of the stick with playoff officiating, which should be talked for a while this off season. The biggest game that officiating was talked about was the Ohio State-Clemson game. I believe both questionable calls were correct, but in a game that close any calls that could be debated will be viewed as wrong by the losing team’s fans. I also say that you cannot blame a loss on the officials, which is true for the Ohio State game as well.
My final take is on the NFL overtime rule. It is ridiculous. No other sport do you see a team score and their opponent not get a chance to match, except for some reason, the NFL. Both teams should get the ball at least once. The Saints lost in overtime because the Vikings won the coin toss and scored to start the extra period. I do not get why the NFL would want it’s most popular and best players to never see the field and lose. I have been saying this since Super Bowl LI in 2017, where the Patriots Tom Brady scored to start overtime without the Falcons Matt Ryan ever seeing the field in overtime.
Fall break is finally here, and as is customary, I will be writing my column telling all of my readers what I will be watching and what they should be watching too. Some of them will be local high school sports. Others will be on TV. But, regardless, they will be events I will be watching and that I expect to be interesting.
Football vs Bedford Oct. 11
This is Senior Night and a game that is starting to become a rivalry game. It is usually very close and often has a few side stories that go along with it (just ask head coach James Bragg). However, it always makes for interesting football and typically keeps fans on the edge of their seats during a close game. Plus, it is Senior Night, so come support some seniors.
Volleyball vs Jeff Oct. 3
If I am going to write this honestly — I cannot say that volleyball has had a terrific year. However, they are very young this year. They have also shown a lot of potential during most matches. They led at times and played very well against Providence, a top 25 team in the nation. If they can play like that again, a home game against Jeff should be our first big rivalry win of the season.
Girls’ soccer sectionals Oct. 8, 10, 12
This girls’ soccer team is very talented. Earlier this year, they won the Hoosier Cup tournament. They have also already defeated New Albany and Providence, so their talent is clearly showing itself on the field. Girls’ soccer sectionals have almost become a tradition at FC, and winning this year would give the seniors their fourth straight sectional championship.
Virginia versus Notre Dame football Sept. 28
Here is the first non-local sporting event. However, I expect there are plenty of Notre Dame fans reading this because Notre Dame fans are everywhere. Notre Dame is very good and played one of the best teams in the country, Georgia, to a six-point loss. Virginia is ranked 18, so I expect the Irish to finally get a top 25 victory this week.
Colts versus Chiefs Oct. 6
This should be a very good football game. The Colts have been one of the best teams in the NFL, even without Andrew Luck. The Chiefs also have Patrick Mahomes, potential the best QB in the NFL. If the Colts defense shows out, they should get a tough win on the road. The Colts will definitely be looking to get their hands on the Chiefs again after being knocked out of the playoffs by them last year.
We made it. Saturday Florida and Miami play to start the college football season. Now, to those of us in Indiana, that game does not really interest us. But, it is the first televised game to matter. That should hopefully hold us over to Thursday, when we get to see Clemson and their QB Trevor Lawrence play for the first time after winning the National Championship last January.
I have already started college football, and it is coming sooner so I will start there. I expect 50 percent of the playoff from last year to be back. It will be the same 50 percent I predicted last year, Clemson and Alabama. The other two spots are much more open. However, Oklahoma has been very good over the past few years and always seem to slide into the playoffs, so they will be my third. The fourth spot is also pretty open. Georgia could get in. However, that would mean keeping the Big Ten out for a third straight year, and their last appearance, Ohio State, in 2016, was forgettable. They were blanked by Clemson, losing 31-0. I really do not think anyone from the Big Ten will get out of the conference. Ohio State has a new coach, so it should take them a year to get going. Michigan is always good until they play Ohio State, where they will inevitably get destroyed. Michigan State has a chance I guess, but when you could compare them to a one loss SEC team, they probably are not in. The rest of the conference has some good teams not typically thought of as powerhouses, like Iowa, Nebraska, or Penn State. However, none of those teams have the prestige Georgia has to get in.
In the first round, Clemson will beat Oklahoma in one versus four game, and Alabama will beat Georgia in the two versus three game. For the third time in four years, Bama and Clemson will play for the championship, and for back-to-back years, Clemson’s stud QB, Trevor Lawrence, who will be coming off a Heisman trophy winning season, will win the title.
Moving to the NFL, this will also be at least semi-predictable. The Patriots will win their division. Shocking, I know. The Saints will also win their division behind Drew Brees’ first MVP season in a career that should have produced two or three MVPs.
I will skip through the regular season, but the playoffs will have the Colts, Chargers, Patriots, and Browns winning their divisions in the AFC. The Wildcards will be the Jaguars and Chiefs. The Chargers and Browns will have the first round byes, but the Browns will go into the bye in a sharp decline after losing their last three and be beat in their first playoff game by the third seeded Colts. The Chargers will lose to the Patriots, and Tom Brady will once again be in the AFC Championship game. However, I might be biased here, but the Colts will get over the hump and beat old man Brady.
The NFC will also look pretty similar to last year. The Bears, Saints, and Rams will all repeat as division champs. However, the Eagles will win their division instead of the Cowboys. The Wildcards will be the Falcons and 49ers. The Bear and Saints will get the bye. After the Eagles and 49ers get knocked out in the first round. Both the first and second seeded teams will advance to the NFC Championship game. The Bears will somehow quite Brees and go to the Super Bowl XLI rematch.
It will be a match up of a great Colts offense versus a great Bears defense. That often does not go well for the offenses. But Frank Reich, one of the NFL’s best coaches will figure out the Bears and win the Colts third Super Bowl, and second against the Bears in my lifetime.
The Blake Bortles-led Jacksonville Jaguars will beat the Tom Brady-led New England Patriots in Foxborough Sunday afternoon. This will certainly not be because of Bortles, who is probably the worst QB still left in the NFL playoffs, but the Sacksonville defense will eat Brady alive. Brady is at his worst when he is hit several times. In playoff games where he is sacked four or more times he is 2-3. One of his wins was last year in the Super Bowl where the Falcons blew a 28-3, lead and the other was in 2005 against the Jaguars where he won 28-3.
New England’s attempt to compensate for that will be a monster name Rob Gronkowski, the man probably grown in Bill Belichick’s basement. The Jaguars will need to take him away in short passes with Jalen Ramsey to get their pass rushes to Brady.
Final score- Jags 21- Patriots 20
In the NFL we have quite possibly the goofiest QB matchup in an NFL title game ever. Nick Foles is starting for the Eagles because MVP candidate Carson Wentz is injured. Playing for the Vikings is undrafted previously backup quarterback Case Keenum. The Eagles have the upperhand in this category, but it is like have a C- instead of a D+. The Eagles have a ridiculously talented group of running backs. Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount should make stopping the Eagles in the red zone nearly impossible. The Vikings have a defense that should be able to keep Philadelphia out of the redzone. While the Eagles are at home, the Vikings have one thing on their side, “Bring it Home.”
“Bring it Home” has been the saying Minnesota this season because Super Bowl LII is set to be played in Minnesota at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Vikings will be competing for their city and the chance to be the first team to play the Super Bowl at their home stadium.
Final score- Vikings 31- Eagles 13
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