Jan. 25, 2017
"The Stack" 1-23-17
This isn’t your normal Monday here in “the stack.” We will react to the two NFL conference championship games but there are also a few other headlines that we need to get to as well so let’s get right to it and see what is in “the stack” for today, Monday, January 23rd:
Falcons 44 Packers 21
The Atlanta Falcons are headed to the Super Bowl following their romp of the Green Bay Packers. The Falcons offense could not be stopped. Matt Ryan was sharp all game long and the Falcons scored a touchdown on the first drive of the game. It is the eighth straight game that the Falcons have scored a touchdown on the opening drive. The Packers moved the ball on each of their first two drives, but the drives resulted in a missed Mason Crosby field goal and an Aaron Ripkowski fumble ended both drives. The banged up Packers defense couldn’t come up with any stops and when Julio Jones caught a touchdown with three seconds left in the first half to put the Falcons up 24-0 you thought this game was just about. Any chance the Packers had of coming back ended a minute and change into the third quarter when the Packers went three-and-out on their first possession and Julio Jones ran through a couple of defenders and scored a touchdown to put the Falcons up 31-0. Game over folks. The Packers couldn’t get the Falcons off the field on third down. The Falcons were 10 for 13 on third down. That was the real key in this one. That and Aaron Rodgers was off of his game until it was too late. Not a good loss for the Packers. The Falcons are advancing to their first Super Bowl since 1998 and second Super Bowl ever. Very dangerous team.
Patriots 36 Steelers 17
A few things in life feel certain. Death, taxes and Tom Brady and the New England Patriots beating the Pittsburgh Steelers in the playoffs at home. The Steelers just can’t beat New England in Foxboro. They were doomed by a couple of factors in this one. One was running back Le’Veon Bell suffering a groin injury in the first quarter and missing the rest of the game. The other was their inability to cover Chris Hogan. You may have heard once or twice throughout the day that Hogan used to play lacrosse at Penn State before making it to the NFL. He was monstrous in this game with nine receptions for 180 yards and two touchdowns. The Steelers either didn’t think he would do hurt them or they simply lost him on the field time and time again, because Hogan absolutely burned them. Brady was his normal fantastic self and the Patriots left very little doubt that this game was over and that they are the best team in the AFC. This will be the seventh Super Bowl appearance for the Brady-Bill Belichick combo. Brady now has 24 playoff victories. That is the definition of success and the all-time best combo of player-coach we’ve ever seen. They are going to have a tough time slowing down the red hot Falcons, but with two weeks to prepare I’m sure Belichick and company will be able to come up with a game plan.
The Falcons and Patriots meet in Super Bowl LI (51) in Houston in less than two weeks, Sunday, February 4th.
Russell Westbrook not voted starter in All-Star game
After further thought, I thought it would be best to discuss this whole Russell Westbrook deal today rather than hold off until Tuesday or another day this week. When the starting lineups were announced for the NBA All-Star game Thursday night on TNT, Westbrook was not named a starter for the western conference. This, despite the fact that Westbrook is averaging a triple-double. James Harden and Steph Curry are the starters. They are both great players. Harden is having a terrific season. Curry is doing good things too, but they aren’t doing nearly the things that Westbrook is doing. Granted, Westbrook’s shooting percentage is pretty bad, but still 30 plus points and a 10 plus rebound and assist average is tough to argue. Steph Curry is averaging six less points four less assists and six less rebounds a game. Yes, Curry is playing alongside Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant so his numbers naturally may not be as good, but that is what makes Westbrook’s stats all that more impressive. He is the only real offensive weapon that the Thunder have. Opponents know that and still Westbrook is putting up these numbers. Yes, the shooting percentage is not good, but if this really came down to the fans not putting Westbrook in, then shame on them. The All-Star game is about seeing the stars yet somehow Westbrook is not getting his due. He will be a reserve, but that isn’t good enough. This is why the NBA is a bit of a joke to me and why I don’t have time for it. Shame on you NBA. Shame on you and your joke of an all-star game.
Adrian Peterson done in Minny?
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson appeared on ESPN’s First Take and said he sees himself having five more good years left in the NFL. He also said that while he wants to remain with the Vikings for his entire career, the New York Giants, Houston Texans and Tampa Bay Buccaneers would be on his list of teams to play for. If Peterson wants to remain with the Vikings, then he needs to take a massive pay cut and restructure his deal so that it is an incentive laden deal. Peterson is not getting the $18 million he is due early in March. He just isn’t. He didn’t do anything last year to deserve getting paid that much. Injury or no injury, Peterson needs to prove to the Vikings, Vikings fans and everyone else that he is still a force to be reckoned with and one of the top backs in the NFL. I don’t know what the Vikings will do, but if Peterson is not willing to restructure his deal and take a pay cut, his days in a Vikings uniform are as good as done. The Vikings need to worry about their offensive line and focus on that, not an aging running back. We’ll see what gets done.
Young Royals pitcher dies
Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura died in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic on Sunday. He was 25. Ventura was a fan favorite and his arm was one of the most electric in the baseball. It’s a devastating loss for the Royals not just because of how good of pitcher Ventura was, but also because Ventura was a pretty good person. He was well-liked in the clubhouse. Yet another pitcher dies far too young. Remember last September when Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez died in a boating accident? It’s a real shame for Major League Baseball. Thoughts and prayers are with Ventura’s family, friends and teammates. Yordano Ventura, dead at the age of 25.
Coming up later this week: Reaction to top headlines in sports