"The Stack" 1-29-18

All things considered, Tiger Woods had a pretty good tournament finishing at three under (-3) despite only hitting three of fourteen fairways each day Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Hello everyone. Welcome back to “the stack”. The Stack is back after a week of being sick (no not because the Vikings lost to the Eagles. More on that in a moment). Parenting a child takes a lot of time as well and that’s what going on with The Stack and Noah. Wouldn’t change anything for the world. It just means that priorities have to change a bit. So blog posts will be fewer and farther between though we will ratchet it up once again in March when conference tournaments and March Madness happens. Know though that the blog will still go on, just not quite as many posts. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s take a look at what is in “the stack” for today, Monday, January 29th:

AFC and NFC Championship game recaps

In case you didn’t know or if you live in a pineapple under the seas (Spongebob Squarepants) (that never gets old. I always love that one), you know that the football world has descended on the Twin Cities in frigid (but not nearly as cold as it could be) Minnesota for Super Bowl LII. The game pits the Philadelphia Eagles against the New England Patriots. Yes, I somehow managed to type Philadelphia Eagles without puking or throwing an unopened beer can at my computer. The game is at 6:30 PM ET on NBC on Sunday. We’ll have a full preview on Friday. How did these teams get to the big game though?

For the Patriots, it was a struggle. The Jacksonville Jaguars came out ready to play. The Patriots took the opening drive of the game and converted a fourth down to extend the drive before settling for a field goal. After that though the Jaguars defense dominated. Rob Gronkowski got hit in the head and suffered a concussion forcing him out for the rest of the game late in the second quarter and Blake Bortles and the Jaguars offense was pretty efficient putting a couple of touchdowns on the board. A touchdown late in the second quarter though that was aided by a couple of Jaguars defensive penalties helped the Patriots get some of the momentum going into halftime trailing 14-10. The Jaguars would not be deterred though in the third quarter. Their defense once again made life difficult for Tom Brady and company while the offense put up a couple of field goals to give the Jaguars a 20-10 lead. With Brady on the opposite sideline though, you know the Patriots are never out of the game. When the fourth quarter started, at least to me the Jaguars started playing conservative on offense or so it felt. It was as though they were playing not to lose instead of playing to win. The big play in the game came on a brilliant play by Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack who forced a fumble by Dion Lewis and made the recovery. He was untouched and would have scored a touchdown but the refs blew the play did. Had they not, it would have been 27-10 and Brady and the Patriots were not going to come back. As it was, the Jaguars got the ball, but went three and out quick. Brady and the Patriots would score a touchdown and would follow that up with another touchdown on a beautiful catch and toe tap by Danny Amendola. The Jaguars had a chance but could not get it done and the Patriots would win 24-20 and advance to yet another Super Bowl.

People were expecting a tight game in the NFC Championship game and once again the Eagles were home underdogs. That clearly is a mistake, because they steamrolled the Minnesota Vikings 38-7. The Vikings started out great by marching down the field and capping it off with a Kyle Rudolph touchdown. After the Eagles punted the Vikings again appeared like they would be able to move the ball down the field when Case Keenum got hit as he was throwing the ball. Patrick Robinson intercepted the pass intended for Adam Thielen and ran it back 50 yards for a touchdown. Momentum was back with the Eagles. The Vikings went three-and-out and that would be all she wrote. Nick Foles carved up the vaunted Vikings defense, the best defense in league mind you. That was not the Minnesota Vikings team that Vikings fans and the rest of the NFL saw this season. But in the NFC Championship game, once again the Vikings crapped the bed and the Eagles and their unopened beer can throwing, raunchy, crude, rude and threatening fans were celebrating an NFC championship victory and a berth in Super Bowl LII. We’ll have a full preview on Friday of the game.

AFC rallies to win Pro Bowl

The Pro Bowl was yesterday in Orlando. Rainy conditions by the looks of it. The NFC got off to a great start. They were up 20-3 at half thanks to a touchdown catch by Adam Thielen from Drew Brees (future combo anyone?) and a pick six of Ben Roethlisberger by Harrison Smith (why couldn’t they do that in the NFC Championship game?). The AFC stormed back in the second half behind two touchdown catches by Titans tight end Delanie Walker including the go-ahead and game-winning touchdown with 1:31 left in the fourth quarter. The players said it was more competitive and they were giving it their best. That’s not entirely true. Just look at the highlights. Look at the tape. At the same time though, maybe it was better than it had been in previous years. Either way, the Pro Bowl is done and now only one game remains. That of course would be the Super Bowl in Minneapolis on Sunday.

NHL All-Star game in Tampa

In case this is breaking news to you, the NHL had its all-star weekend in Tampa-St. Pete over the weekend. The Skills Competition was pretty fun Saturday night and the 3-on-3 tournament style all-star game on Sunday was equally entertaining. The Pacific ultimately took down the Atlantic 5-2 in the final. Vancouver Canucks rookie Brock Boeser was named MVP. Fun weekend. Now on to the second half of the season. It’s especially tough in the Central Division. Should be fun.

Misc headlines

Other headlines from around the world of sports last week that caught my attention included WWE Chairman Vince McMahon announcing that the XFL is making a comeback in 2020. It should be more successful than the first go at it, but the NFL will still reign supreme. I hope. I won’t be paying much attention to this. Speaking of WWE, Ronda Rousey is going to make her WWE debut sometime soon. She is always a draw and it will be interesting how she performs in this role.

Tiger Woods had what has to be dubbed a successful first tournament of the year at the Farmer’s Insurance Invitational. He finished three under (-3) and while his driving was quite erratic, the short game was pretty good. His putting needs to improve, especially the putts outside of ten feet, but overall, he should be happy that he made the cut and was under par. Plenty to improve on though.

The Miami Marlins continue to trade away their best players. The latest being Christian Yellich who was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers for four prospects. The Brewers also signed Lorenzo Cain which I believe makes them big players for a playoff spot in the NL this season. The Marlins are an absolute joke and an embarrassment. I feel sorry for some of the people there on South Beach, mainly Dan Le Batard.

Congratulations Roger Federer and Caroline Wozniaki on their Australian Open victories. For Roger Federer it’s his what, 20th Grand Slam title? Absolutely remarkable. Having said all that, I didn’t watch a minute of this tournament. Sorry tennis community.

Finally, we can’t go without mentioning that justice appears somewhat served in the Larry Nassar case after he got sentenced 40-175 years on top of the 60 year federal prison term he got for child pornography. Nassar sexually assaulted a lot of USA women’s gymnastics members over the years. It’s great that this monster is put behind bars where he belongs, but what this does for Michigan State, where Nassar was a doctor, remains to be seen. The president has resigned. The AD has resigned. There are reports of sexual assault cover up. Not good for Michigan State and football head coach Mark Dantonio and men’s basketball head coach Tom Izzo. Michigan State is becoming the Baylor of the north in my opinion.

Coming up later this week: Super Bowl LII preview plus other headlines and posts as time allows