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Friday, January 31, 2014

Super Bowl XLVIII: Predictions and other thoughts



    It’s here at last. America’s unofficial holiday-the Super Bowl. The Denver Broncos bring football’s Number 1 offense to East Rutherford and the Seattle Seahawks bring the Number 1 defense.

    I’m very happy it’s going to be a cold-weather Super Bowl. One of (American) football’s greatest traditions is that, except in truly extraordinary circumstances, it is played in any type of weather. Football’s biggest game should be no exception. The Weather Channel says it’s going to be mostly cloudy, with highs in the upper 40s and lows in the 20s, so come game time, it’s expected to be right around 40*F. 

    This is going to be a very close game. Peyton Manning and his various weapons have been dropping points on opponents all year long, but they haven’t played many defenses that line up with Seattle’s. Their three losses came against New England, San Diego, and Indianapolis, none of which had particularly spectacular defensive corps this season. Seattle will be able to put up big names (especially Sherman and Chancellor) against every one of the Broncos’ receivers. This isn’t to say Seattle will just dominate, as Denver has huge potential with Wes Welker in the slot.

    Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson hasn’t put many particularly remarkable stats up in his team’s run to the Super Bowl, but he is very good outside the pocket and is able to run the football. Denver needs to keep him cornered in the pocket if they want to win this game. The oft-injured Percy Harvin could make a big impact on the game, but nobody really knows how healthy he is, and there’s quite the risk that he could get injured again.

    Eleven years ago, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Oakland Raiders met in the Super Bowl in San Diego. Tampa Bay had the best defense by yardage, and Oakland boasted the best offense. Tampa won that Super Bowl because they played aggressively and forced turnovers. If Seattle wants to win this game, they need to do the same.  

    Peyton Manning, for all his merits, has often been criticized for not being able to play well in the cold weather. Is 40*F “cold”? Not really, at least by Denver standards. I don’t see the weather being a huge factor in this game, and if it does get cold, there’s a definite possibility that both teams will suffer setbacks, as Seattle is not typically known for very cold weather either. (Chilly and rainy, sure, but not cold cold)

    The Seahawks have beaten very strong teams in New Orleans and San Francisco to get here. Denver stopped a rejuvenated San Diego team and a badly banged up New England team. Peyton Manning plays a good game but falls just short as Seattle’s defense barely holds Denver at bay.


Prediction: Seahawks 27-24








Miscellaneous Thoughts:

-Why are companies advertising their Super Bowl commercials before they actually air? That seems incredibly dense, as part of the draw to the commercials is that they’re supposed to be a surprise, something people wait for all year. Sure, you’ll get more people to see it, but the illusion all but disappears.

-Bruno Mars is an okay musician, but he is far from my first choice for the Halftime Show. I don’t mind his style of pop-rock music, but his voice has always sounded really whiny. “Treasure” and “Runaway” aren’t bad songs but when you stop and think about it, shouldn’t someone iconic from New Jersey or New York be performing instead of some goofy-looking dip who is known for overly sappy stuff like “When I Was Your Man”, “Just the Way You Are”, or “Grenade”? I assume he’ll do a medley of songs, so at least one of those songs will probably be heard. Where’s Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, or Billy Joel?  I am, however, very excited to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Their funk-rock style of music is perfect to get the juices flowing. I’m also excited to see opera-singer Renee Fleming perform the Star-Spangled Banner.

-The logo for this year’s Super Bowl, and the three used before, is boring. I miss the original, colorful, and unique logos of days past. I know it’s strange to get nostalgic for something that’s only been gone for 4 years, but I still don’t like the streamlined logos that we have now.

-We seriously need to stop talking about Richard Sherman’s remarks after the Seahawks beat the 49ers. Was what he said unprofessional? Yes, to a certain extent, but he quickly apologized and his reasoning for trash-talking were at the very least understandable. I’m so sick of these events: Someone says something off-color, everyone loses their minds, morons on Twitter post things that are way worse than whatever the original remarks were, and nobody is able to go into a discussion with a level head. And Colin Kaepernick isn’t helping this relatively innocuous event by saying that Sherman is “afraid” of San Francisco’s receiving corps. (He also looks fairly stupid saying that after his receivers didn’t put enough points on the board to beat the Hawks.)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

GW avenges their lone conference loss and steamrolls over La Salle, 69-47



On January 9th, the George Washington University Colonials met the La Salle Explorers in Tom Gola Arena. It was the opening game of Atlantic 10 play for GW, and it didn’t go all that well. La Salle scored 45 combined points from their starting backcourt and beat GW by a final score of 76-72. A controversial charging call in the last seconds of the game infuriated GW fans who were following.

So it’s understandable that there was some nervousness coming into the game tonight against La Salle. Though they’d lost two in a row and had a much less intimidating record away from Tom Gola Arena, GW fans were still wary of La Salle.

The Colonials though, did have ample confidence going into the game. They hadn’t lost at home yet (9-0) and they were riding a four-game winning streak.

On this windy, cold night in Washington, La Salle jumped out to an early lead, but GW caught up and for most of the first half, played a very close first half. Towards the end of the half, GW started to pull away and the teams headed to the locker room with the Colonials up 38-23.

And in the second half, GW poured it on. They jumped out to a 20-point lead and didn’t look back. The crowd, a strong showing for a Wednesday night, was delighted, and pandemonium broke out when Skyler White, a not-often-seen player off the bench, sunk a nothing-but-net three near the end of the game. GW’s play was considerably cleaner than the showing they made against Mason (at least in the first half), and La Salle limped through the second half, missing shot after shot.

    Since UMass lost against the Bonnies of St. Bonaventure, GW now moves into second place in the Atlantic 10 conference behind Saint Louis at 17-3 overall and 5-1 in A-10 play. VCU, Richmond, and UMass sit right behind, so it’s important that GW keep their momentum going. They’ll head to Dayton, Ohio next to play the slumping Flyers, who are 1-5 in conference play. Duquesne and Fordham follow that game, and then GW is in for arguably the biggest challenge of the season: a four-game stretch that starts with VCU in Richmond, UMass, and then it’s back on the road to play Richmond and Saint Louis. Without Kethan Savage this will be an extremely difficult stretch of games, and it’s vital for GW to hang tough in these four games considering the competitiveness of the A-10.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The State of the Union: Tastes Great, Less Filling


When the United States became a nation, the Framers of the Constitution intended for the President to “...from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union.”

I don’t think the Founding Fathers envisioned this becoming a primetime entertainment event.

Today, the State of the Union is not much better than Miller Lite’s old slogan praising the good taste and the lightness of “the champagne of bottled beer”.

Think about it. On television, the State of the Union “tastes great” in that those who agree with President Obama and his policies are going to lap up what he says. But those who are realistic about this event are keen to point out that it’s much too vague. It doesn’t satisfy me, and it shouldn’t satisfy you. It’s not just “less” filling, it’s not filling at all.

This isn’t a political gripe as much as it is a gripe about the structure and the aim of this annual event. I’m not going to blame President Obama for this, nor will I blame Bush 43, or any previous president. It’s not their fault this event has become a farce.

    President Obama has, in theory, sixty minutes to address Congress regarding the current condition of our country. Of course, like any large event, it doesn’t start on time, so instead we’re treated to ten minutes of   You can’t describe all the inner workings of a country with 310 million people living here. It’s just not possible. On top of that, every time something comes out that people like, everyone has to rise to their feet to applaud. It may make sense to do that when you’re in the chamber, but it looks positively absurd on television, and it cuts into an already insufficient amount of time.


    And these days it feels like they’re not even trying to hide the media circus aspect of this  debacle. There is no reason at all that an actor from Duck Dynasty should be sitting among dignitaries and congressmen. Tomorrow, I’ll probably wake up to a frenzy of fluff articles, none of which will really accomplish anything. Buzzfeed will probably have some asinine list about the funny facial expressions Vice President Joe Biden made. Some insolent morons on Twitter will probably have made some unbelievably ignorant and/or derogatory comments about something or someone.  And news organizations on both sides will be picking apart already-clean bones. 


Here’s a few things that could be done:

1. Include details. As many as you can. The good, the bad, the ugly, the uplifting. The American people (and people around the world) have such access to a wealth of information these days that to dwell in generalities is almost insulting. Don’t act like things don’t exist when it’s obvious they do. (The NSA scandal comes to mind.)
2. Get off the political soapbox. That is not what this event is supposed to entail. Leave that for the campaign trail.
3. Restrict the applause until the end of the speech.
4. Break it down. So many things happen from day to day, it’d be crazy to think you could sum up a year of events in an hour. Perhaps monthly addresses focused on fact would accomplish more.

You know things have gotten bad when the highlight is when the President makes a reference to a TV show.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Sweet 16th: GW overcomes a frustrating first half and downs GMU 75-69

Today, I traveled with the Colonial Army (the student organization that attends each GW home basketball game, and a handful of road games as well)  to suburban Fairfax, Virginia-just outside the Beltway. The George Washington University Colonials men’s basketball team was slated to play George Mason at the Patriot Centre.

    I am not a member of the Colonial Army, but I do try to go to games when possible. And I am extremely happy I decided to take part in this trip.

    After the short drive out to Fairfax, we entered the 10,000 seat stadium on GMU’s campus. The adrenaline started to rise within me as the smell of greasy stadium food filled my nostrils.

    We were all handed tickets, and headed to our respective sections-each in different corners of the  Since the stadium was only about 80% full, we collectively decided to crowd into one of the sections we had tickets to in order to increase our volume. This created a large block of buff and blue in a stadium where nearly everything was green and gold, almost an exact reflection of the colors of the Oakland Athletics baseball club. 

    There was excitement in the air, but also anxiousness. Recent news revealed that during GW’s win against St. Bonaventure, Kethan Savage fractured a bone in his foot and would miss 6-8 weeks. Savage has made huge contributions to the team this year, providing depth and vital scoring. Despite his injury, he was on the floor with his teammates, and received a supportive “Ke-than Sa-vage” chant from GW fans as he followed his teammates to the locker room before tip-off.

    This anxiousness continued for a while after the first tip off. The GMU Patriots, losers of their last six games and winless in the Atlantic 10, played with visible desperation, making several mistakes. Unfortunately, the Colonials’ offense looked lost after a solid start, and the teams headed to the locker room with GMU up 30-29.

    In previous years (especially last year), GW often started slow in games, falling behind early and making mistakes. They’d chip away at the hole they dug themselves, and make a game of it before coming up just short and losing by an often paper thin margin. This was especially frustrating at last year’s heartbreaking meeting with Butler, when the Smith Centre played host to the first sellout in years.

    Luckily, that frustrating habit of last year has mostly evaporated. Despite lackluster offensive play, GW was able to stay on Mason’s heels. And in the second half,  the team that has already won more games than last year’s squad appeared again. They regained the lead, and while Mason did cut it to 51-46 with 10:21 to play, GW’s efficient shooting from the field created a 15-4 run and shut Mason fans up for good.

And man was it fun to see them pour it on. The section we’d all piled into roared with approval, getting louder with every basket, and with it, chants of “Who’s George Mason?”, “We can’t hear you!”, and “Thanks for hosting!” echoed through an otherwise sullen Patriot Centre.

    To give credit to the Mason fans, many of them stuck around until the very end, and the student band (The “Green Machine”) was very entertaining all game long, especially their strikingly charismatic conductor, who wore a hilariously awesome green three-piece suit, coupled with a staff, sunglasses, and a pretty fantastic beard. (I especially enjoyed the nods to Rage Against the Machine and Earth, Wind, and Fire).

    GW is now 16-3, and 4-1 in the suddenly-formidable Atlantic 10. Their 4-1 record in the conference puts them in second, only behind the St. Louis Bilikens. Only Saint Louis and UMass (University of Massachusetts) have better overall records. Isaiah Armwood, Joe McDonald, Maurice “Mo” Creek, and Kevin Larsen all contributed to another solid victory. The injury to Savage will be difficult to surmount, but this team showed a lot of heart today. Great job on #16, Colonials and get well soon, Savage!



For more GW basketball, check out Colonial Hoops - the George Washington University basketball blog.

   

Friday, January 24, 2014

Another Blog You Should Read

I appreciate all of the views I've received since I started this blog on New Year's Eve. So to those people who are interested in finding more good material to read, I highly recommend taking a look at my friend Omeed Firouzi's blog, Writings From Omeed Firouzi.
His blog covers mainly domestic United States politics, centered around his native Northeastern Pennsylvania (near Wilkes-Barre, to be exact).

While I do not personally subscribe to all the political views he believes in (He is a liberal Democrat, I am more of a moderate with some libertarian tendencies), he is a very proficient writer, and I've many a good political discussion with him. He actually offered me the gig to moderate the Iran Debate that you can access HERE, which I enjoyed immensely.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Background and Thoughts on the EuroMaidan Uprising in Ukraine

    By now, you’ve probably heard about the uprising in Ukraine that started in the dying days of November. If you haven’t, I’ll give you some background before delving into my own thoughts.

    Ukraine is a large nation in Eastern Europe, bordered by Russia to its east, Belarus to the north, Poland to the west. Romania, Moldova, and the Black Sea make up most of its southern border. It has long been Eastern Europe’s breadbasket, and is to this day a large producer of food.
   
    For most of its history, Ukraine has been under the control of the Russian Empire, and then the Soviet Union, becoming a sovereign nation on the 24th of August, 1991.

    Since independence, Ukraine has been divided. The western half of the country is generally drawn towards the steadily growing European Union, while the eastern part of the country wants to maintain close ties with the Russian Federation, which wields a large amount of influence in the region.

    In November, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, after lengthy negotiations, balked on a trade agreement with the European Union. To many Ukrainians, this represented great opportunity, and those people who were eager to see the trade agreement with the EU fizzle out immediately took to the streets. Despite a brief lull in the protests in at New Years’ and Orthodox Christmas, protests have continued with renewed vigor. Today, the Ukrainian capital of Kiev (often spelled “Kyiv”) is steaming with anger as protestors clash with police. The blue and gold Ukrainian flag has been spattered with blood.

   
Now for my personal thoughts.

    I was born in Russia, and came to the United States as an infant. My heritage is Russian, and I am proud of that. I fly the Russian flag with pride. Culturally, however, I am as American as they come. Being raised in the United States has taught me the importance of democracy, free thought, and equality. These may not be uniquely American values, but I am extraordinarily blessed to live in a country where the rule of law is upheld and the people are able to protest against the government without fear of consequence. The United States is my country, and will be until I depart for the Great Unknown.

    But this isn’t about me. The purpose here is for me to express my thoughts regarding those men and women protesting in Kiev and similar Ukrainian cities.

    The Ukrainians on the streets of Kiev and across their country are an inspiration to me. Two years ago, I saw Russians cram the streets of Moscow, St. Petersburg, and other cities to protest the fraudulent legislative elections in the State Duma. But those protests did not amount to anything...President Putin cracked down and silenced the opposition, to put it simply.
    But the Ukrainians have not given up, and I hope they inspire the people of Russia to again rise up against the corrupt government sitting in the Kremlin. Ukraine deserves freedom from excessive influence and independence to conduct their own business the way they see fit.

And so I am proud to say “Солидарность с Украиния! Свобода для всех восточная Европа!”

Good luck Ukraine! Keep fighting for your dignity and your independence! I will be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers! As one with Russian heritage, I see Ukrainians as our brothers and sisters! It is true that Russia has wronged Ukraine in many ways, but seeing Ukraine in crisis has reminded me that there is always time for reconciliation and cooperation sometime in the future. I hope that becomes reality some day, when both our countries have thrown off authoritarianism in favor of fluid, strong democracy!

I know I am only one person, but I trust that I am not the only one with these thoughts! Ще не вмерла Українa!




Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Iran Debate at GWU

Here is a debate I moderated between the College Democrats and College Republicans at George Washington University in Washington, DC regarding American relations and sanctions policy with the Islamic Republic of Iran. You can also access it HERE.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Today is Monday, the 20th of January. And in the United States, today we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr., one of the greatest warriors for equal rights that this country has ever seen.

In honor of his legacy, here is the full text of his monumental "I Have A Dream" speech, made in 1963 in front of hundreds of thousands on Washington's National Mall.






Dr. King was blessed with a extraordinary ability to speak publicly, so you can also follow his speech with this link.


I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.
Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.
But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.
In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check -- a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.
But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.
We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.
As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating "For Whites Only". We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.
Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.
I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."
And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!
Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado!
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!
But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

Sunday, January 19, 2014

NFL Championship Weekend Predictions



Playoff Prediction Tracker: 6 correct, 2 incorrect
2-2 in Wild Card Weekend
4-0 in the Divisional Round


Two more games and two more weeks stand between NFL fans worldwide and the biggest American sports spectacle of the year: the 48th Super Bowl.

Ratings folks couldn’t have asked for a better Sunday. In the AFC, the New England Patriots are breathing the thin air of the Mile High City to write a new chapter in the Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning rivalry saga. These teams also were able to snag the highest seeds in their conference.

    Hundreds of miles northwest, and a few hours later, the soil beneath the Emerald City will rock when 67,000 Seattle Seahawks fans rise to their feet to greet their beloved green and blue clad warriors, and the hatred will be tangible when their arch-rival 49ers jog out.

So you know the drill by now. Who’s going on to Super Bowl XLVIII? Here’s my two cents:


New England Patriots at Denver Broncos

Nearly every sports media outlet has been salivating over the possibility of a Tom Brady-Peyton Manning matchup. I have no problem with that, since these two men have established themselves as two titans of the game of football, both sure bets for the Hall of Fame someday.

Earlier in the season, the Broncos and Patriots played one of the best games of the season. Denver jumped out to a three-score lead, which the Pats picked away at, sent to overtime, and won in dramatic fashion.

But that home-field advantage of Foxborough is not going to be with the Patriots this time. This game is in Denver, where Peyton Manning’s club only lost once this season.

    The Patriots don’t have the wide receiver advantage on paper, but Julian Edelman has been consistently underrated, and players like Kenbrell Thompkins and Danny Amendola can’t just be brushed off. Tom Brady had a relatively quiet game against the Colts, and that’s because the run game, nearly forgotten for much of the Brady era, exploded against Indy under LeGarrett Blount, who ran the ball into the end-zone 4 times.

Philip Rivers did not lead his Chargers to victory, but he also did not let the Broncos blow his Bolts out. The Broncos’ defense is good, but it isn’t quite on the level of San Francisco or Seattle. Chris Harris and Von Miller will certainly be missed.

The Patriots’ defense made up for their less-than-adequate coverage of Andrew Luck and the Colts’ offense by forcing multiple interceptions, and they’re going to need to do more than that against a more experienced and seasoned player like Peyton Manning.




Pick: Patriots 27-24


San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks


“Clash of Titans” doesn’t even begin to describe this game. The Hawks were arguably the most complete team all year, but this will be their biggest test to date. This is not even close to the same 49ers team that they routed early in the season. The Niners fought out the Packers in the trenches and then were able to beat out a formidable Carolina team. But the 49ers descend upon a den of wolves: since Seattle drafted Russell Wilson, they are 16-1 in CenturyLink Field and have won their games by an average of 16 pts since then.

But the Seahawks do have a weak underbelly. Russell Wilson has not been explosive since December, and his arsenal is limited with Percy Harvin’s concussion. Meanwhile, Colin Kaepernick is playing gritty and winning games in bunches, even on the road (Jim Harbaugh’s boys are 8-2 on the road in the postseason). Kaepernick actually has a better road playoff record than legendary Niners quarterbacks Steve Young and Joe Montana.



    This game is interesting in that the 49ers and Seahawks play almost the same brand of football as their adversary. Both teams are known for their rock-solid defense, and offense that relies on a strong rushing game (Marshawn Lynch vs. Frank Gore) and ball control.

    Colin Kaepernick and Co. have been riding a wave of momentum (23 pts or more in the last 5 games, only one turnover), but if any team is going to stop it, it could very well be the Hawks. If you look at recent match-ups, the Seahawks have an edge and have made the Niners’ defense look much, much worse than it is on multiple occasions.



Pick: Seahawks: 21-19

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Eighteen Games Deep: A fan’s perspective on the resurgence of GW Hoops


    It was another nailbiter, but GW Men’s Basketball continues to march on to victory.

    This evening, GW won their 15th game in small town Olean, New York, against the Bonnies of St. Bonaventure University. The packed Reilly Centre was treated to a seesaw game, with GW and St. Bonaventure throwing the lead back and forth for most of the game. GW would eventually pull away at the end and win by a final score of 79-71.

    It’s been a wild ride for GW fans like myself. The Colonials were a sub-500 team last year. They squeaked into the A-10 tournament and lost a heartbreaker to the Minutemen of Massachusetts.
    But hope could be felt. Many games in the 2012-2013 season were more competitive than expected and the Smith Centre played host to the first sell-out in years when the Butler Bulldogs came to town. It ended in a heartbreaking loss, but damned if it wasn’t fun to see our barn rock like that.

    Before basketball started up this season, the general consensus was that GW would improve, but nobody wanted to say by how much. The big story of the year was the arrival of Maurice “Mo” Creek from Indiana, a talented guard whose college career had been tarnished by injuries.

When the season started, GW jumped out to a 4-0 record. We were excited, but we didn’t want to jump to any conclusions. Wins against Radford, Maine, Manhattan, and Delaware State were nice but were equally expected. 

    Next came the Wooden Legacy games at Anaheim’s Honda Centre. This represented a test. Well-known schools like Miami, Creighton, and Marquette would also be there, the latter two of whom were ranked. GW pulled out a convincing overtime
victory over Miami, but then suffered the first loss of the season to Marquette. Tough to swallow, sure, but what followed was extremely pleasantly surprising. The Colonials managed to hang tough against #20 Creighton, stymie their Dylan McDermott, and come home to the District with a 60-53 win. Social media buzzed with excitement. While GW did suffer losses to a surging Kansas State team (who flirted with a ranking not so long ago) and a furiously frustrating loss to La Salle in Philadelphia, those have been the only two recent blemishes on an otherwise fantastic season. Maurice Creek buried a buzzer beater in the Verizon Centre against local rival Maryland, and GW recently emerged victorious against a very formidable VCU team that brought an intimidating amount of fans with it.

The standings will not change much. Prior to today’s game, GW stood at 4th in the Atlantic 10, close behind La Salle, Saint Louis, and UMass. All three of those teams ended up winning their contests today.

    Also to note: the Atlantic 10 conference has vastly improved this season from last year. Massachusetts and Saint Louis are both ranked at 16 and 24 respectively. Saint Louis has won 11 straight. La Salle is still perfect in the Atlantic 10, so they occupy the third spot in the standings, despite GW’s better record overall (La Salle is 11-6 total).

    Kethan Savage, the starter 6-foot-3 guard from nearby suburb Fairfax, VA, injured his ankle in the dying seconds of the game. It’s too early to tell whether that injury will be serious, but if it is, it represents a big problem for the Colonials’ depth. Get well soon Sav!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

SOCHI 2014 HOCKEY PREDICTIONS



Wait until Pyeongchang: Latvia, Norway, Austria, Slovenia

Sorry, folks. I just don’t see much coming from these four teams when matched up with hockey powerhouses like Canada, the US, Russia, and Sweden. Even teams like Finland and the Czech Republic are going to be too much to handle in all likeliness. Of course there are very talented players from these countries (For instance, Thomas Vanek from Austria, and Anze Kopitar from Slovenia), but the depth does not exist on these teams.


We need some new blood: Slovakia, Czech Republic

Slovakia has the misfortune of being put into a group with the United States and Russia, so unless one of those two teams underperforms, the Slovaks’ chance at getting out of the group stage is pretty small. The Czechs will probably hold their own against Switzerland and Latvia, but Sweden represents a very difficult challenge. Because of the way Group C is structured, look for the Czechs to get out of the group stage but not much further.

All eyes between the pipes: Finland

The Finns are going to be an interesting team to watch, but the big names on their offensive and defensive lines look a little too old to dominate in these Olympics. Yes, Teemu Selanne (does “The Finnish Flash” age at all? I’m not sure anymore), Mikko Koivu, and Tuomo Ruutu are still stars, but the combined offensive lines lack the depth and firepower of the higher-tiered teams. The same problem exists on defense: Sami Salo and Kimmo Timonen are accomplished and decorated, but they are not getting any younger. Admittedly I do not know much when it comes to the sizable contingent of KHL and Finnish league players, and it is hard to gauge how the skill level in those leagues stacks up against the NHL.



The good news for Suomi is that they have some of the best goaltending in hockey. In Vancouver, longtime Calgary Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff’s skill between the pipes led Finland to a bronze medal. This time around, they are anchored by the San Jose Sharks’ Antti Niemi, Dallas’ Kari Lehtonen, and Tuukka Rask of the Boston Bruins.

I am surprised to not see Pekka Rinne on this roster. With Ryan Suter and Shea Weber in front of him, Rinne was nearly unstoppable with the Nashville Predators. Nevertheless, I’d readily go with the skills of Tuukka Rask for the Olympics. Rask led a nearly offensive-less Boston Bruins team to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2010, and brought his team to the Cup Final in 2013, losing in 6 games. While it’s true that Antti Niemi has had more playoff appearances and a Stanley Cup, I believe Rask is still the better goalie. He is also younger than Niemi.

I expect the Finns to get out of the group stage. Norway and Austria are beatable, and a stunning goaltending performance by Rask or Niemi could lead to an upset of the Canadians.

Unfortunately, Team Finland is going to have to rely on one aspect of their game to win any medals. One could argue that goaltending is the most important and game-changing aspect of hockey, but it’s going to be difficult for Finland to keep up with the next teams, even if Rask or Niemi stands on their head.


Let’s bring home some hardware, boys: The United States, Canada, and Sweden

These three countries are all very likely medal contenders. The United States may have the best goaltending in the tournament. Canada and Sweden boast balance, a mix of young flash and veteran talent, and no glaring weaknesses.

Sweden's advantage over the United States and Canada is simple, but may come to be significant. The American and Canadian rosters are nearly all from the NHL, where the size of the rink is smaller than in the Olympics. Sweden, on the other hand, will be more likely to adjust quickly to the larger Olympic rinks. Sweden also plays a different style of hockey-the speed-based, finesse-heavy European game. The US and Canada, by contrast, play a gritty, physical game. This may put the United States and Canada at a disadvantage with the larger rinks.

The United States rode a white-hot Ryan Miller into the gold medal game in the 2010 Olympics, and they'll again have Ryan Miller between the pipes. Miller, despite playing on a pitiful Buffalo Sabres team, has put out another excellent season. The lack of Jack and Eric Johnson may hurt the American defense, which is relatively young. The American forwards are strong, but it's hard to tell if they'll be able to score enough to make up for deficiencies in the defense. They're not in an easy group either-the Russians will come in angry and the Slovaks shouldn't be underestimated.

Canada has a remarkably complete team, like Sweden, but they may have an Achilles' heel between the pipes. This is not to say the goaltending Canada possesses isn't extremely talented, but the two main goalies they've brought to Sochi have reputations of inconsistency. Carey Price has never brought the Montreal Canadiens very far in the playoffs. Roberto Luongo, recently recovered from an injury, has always shown difficulty in the playoffs. If he's on his game, he's damn near unstoppable. But if he's not...Canada could see an early exit.




Gold or Bust: Russia

 Team Russia will be under extraordinary pressure this Olympics, for obvious reasons. This is the first time Russia has ever hosted the Winter Olympics, and one only needs to look back to the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver to see what happens when a hockey-mad nation wins Olympic Gold on their home ice. Rogers Arena, normally home of the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks, was packed to the brim with red and white-clad Canadians who seemed to never stop chanting the familiar refrain of “GO CANADA GO!”

It’s safe to assume that Canada would have seen the Vancouver Olympics as nice, but ultimately disappointing if the national hockey team did not take home gold. The exact same applies to the Russian team in 2014.



The Russian offense is elite, fast, and relentless.  Alex Ovechkin is enjoying another fantastic year. Pavel Datsyuk, known for his magician-like stick-handling, is going to dazzle fans and players alike if he is not adequately covered.  
The second line is also dominant. Vladimir Tarasenko has been a large reason for the rise of the St. Louis Blues. Alex Radulov and Ilya Kovalchuk have enormous talent-if they avoid the problems they had in Nashville and New Jersey they will be a force to be reckoned with. The Russians did not play as a team in Vancouver-they have no excuses in Sochi. Look out for rising Dallas star Valeri Nichuskin: he has shown a lot of growth this year.

A big question for the Russian offense remains, though: Where are KHL linesmates Sergei Mozyakin and Danis Zaripov? Mozyakin is one of the best point-scorers in the KHL and neither will have to adjust to Olympic ice.

Defense may be a problem for the Russian team. True, Markov and Emelin have shown themselves to be effective for the Montreal Canadiens, and Slava Voynov is blossoming into a premier defenseman, but the reliance on two Columbus Blue Jackets’ defensemen (Nikitin and Tyutin) may be risky, as Columbus has played out to a very average 19-20-4 so far.

When it comes to goaltending, questions persist. Semyon Varlamov is probably the best bet for Russia in net, but he is still relatively inexperienced compared to his counterparts in Sweden, Finland, Canada and the USA. Sergei Bobrovski did win the Vezina last year, but he’s been less consistent this year.

Can this team win Olympic Gold? Yes, but it’s going to require a few lucky breaks and 110% coordination between everyone on the team. 




NFL Playoff Predictions Part 2: The Divisional Round



Well, last week was very average for me. The Eagles and Bengals failed to muster a W, so I went 2-4 on predictions in a riveting Wild Card Weekend. Now it’s time to look ahead to the next wave of games, which look like they could be even more enjoyable.




Colts (12-5) @ Patriots (12-4)


Let me preface this by saying that I am a Patriots fan, and have been since I started following football. And I do not want to pick against the team I root for. However, I will give as much credit as I believe is due to Indy. They pulled off a fantastic comeback against Kansas City last week, and Andrew Luck is coming off an excellent performance.

I’ve been pessimistic about the Patriots all season. With an aging Brady and the amount of injuries the Pats have had, I’m frankly amazed that they still managed to go 12-4 and snag the 2nd seed in the AFC.

Still, with Coach Bill Belichick and Tom Brady at the helm of this team, you just can’t count them out. This season, the Patriots have made their offensive attack much more balanced. Although Brady is without a doubt still the Patriots’ biggest offensive weapon, New England’s running game was a very respectable 9th in the league. Add the fact that Indianapolis’ run defense was a paltry 23rd in the league and you have a big advantage for the Patriots, who are led in this department by the explosive Stevan Ridley. LeGarrette Blount also had an excellent last game against the Bills.

    The problem with this for New England is that the offense needs to produce as much as possible, because this game could very well be a shootout. Andrew Luck has improved this season, and is coming off an emotional comeback win over KC.  Injuries have decimated the New England defense, so much so that it finished 26th in total yards allowed (18th in pass yards, 30th in rush yards) Donald Brown will be very dangerous come Saturday, and Luck has a more complete arsenal of weapons to throw to than Brady.


Danny Amendola did practice for the Patriots, which obviously helps their cause. And the game will be in a rainy, chilly Foxborough, where the Patriots have excellent home-field advantage. And let’s face it-as long as Belichick has been on the sidelines, the Patriots have shown that they remain competitive even when dealing with setbacks, of which they’ve had many this season.

Prediction: Patriots 38, Colts 35
San Diego Chargers (10-7) at Denver Broncos (13-3)

This is probably the game that is going to see the most upset picks as we get closer to the weekend.

    The Chargers went into Cincinnati and convincingly beat Andy Dalton and the Bengals on the road. This was the first time Cincinnati lost at home this season, going 8-0 at Paul Brown Stadium in the regular season.

    The Broncos had similar success when playing in front of their own fans, only losing one game in Denver. They went 13-3 this season and possess the first seed of the playoffs. However, one of those three losses was a 27-20 loss to the Chargers in Denver.

    Those who picked the Cincinnati Bengals to beat San Diego last week, including myself, believed one of the most important edges Cincy had over the Chargers was on defense: The Chargers’ defense was shaky, while the Bengals were one of the best teams on defense all year. Of course, that didn’t translate when the two teams met

    The Broncos are not going to have as much of an edge as Cincinnati was perceived to have in this game. The Charger defense was also able to hold Peyton Manning to his worst offensive performance in that recent 27-20 win. Losing Von Miller is a huge blow to the Denver defense. 

    Of course, Peyton Manning is a far cry from Andy Dalton. And cliche as it may be, the Chargers want to see as little of him as possible when game time comes around. Indeed, in the two games against the Chargers, Denver went 1-1. The first game was convincingly in the Broncos’ hands until the 4th quarter, when San Diego turned a 22-point deficit into  a one-score game before Denver escaped with the win. The San Diego defense returned with a vengeance in the next game. In both these games, the SD defense was able to severely limit the Broncos’ time of possession.
Peyton Manning is 4-5 against San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers, and he has never beaten Rivers in the postseason.

The Chargers have the tools (Good defensive performance, experienced quarterback, veteran presence) and the momentum (Winners of their last 5) to give the Broncos a very difficult game. However, I still think Denver will be able to pull out a very narrow win. Peyton Manning is much too smart of a quarterback to make the same mistakes 3 times. If Manning can stay on the field enough and the Denver run defense holds (to be fair, with Matthews, Woodhead, Brown, and even Fluker, this will be difficult), this will be a win for the orange and blue.


Pick: Denver 27, San Diego 24




49ers @ Panthers

Oh man this is going to be a fun one. It’ll be the first playoff game for Carolina since 2008, and if things go their way, their first win since 2005. This would be the first playoff win in Charlotte since 2003. By contrast, the 49ers have been a perennial contender for a few years, with three consecutive playoff appearances, one resulting in a close loss to the Giants in the NFC Championship and one resulting in a close loss in the Super Bowl against the Ravens.

The Panthers are going to be emotional heading into this game, and there is without a doubt a lot of pressure on Cam Newton. Newton had slightly higher yard and touchdown totals than 49ers’ QB Colin Kaepernick, but the two have similar playing styles, most highlighted by their ability to run the football as well as pass it. Kaepernick is more experienced than Newton, having led the Niners to the playoffs and the Super Bowl last year. In addition, the Niners have shown versatility on the road and probably would have won the division if it wasn’t for the Seahawks’ amazing regular season.

On defense the story is much the same. As far as points allowed, Carolina allowed the second least in all of football, while San Francisco was right behind them at third. (15 versus 17, respectively) Neither team has a serious advantage over the other statistically when it comes to defense.

The one game in which Carolina and San Francisco faced each other this season was a gritty, physical 10-9 win for the Panthers. Frank Gore had 82 rushing yards in that contest, but the game may not be an accurate predictor of how the two teams are going to fare. Sure, the score will most likely be close, but I don’t think that both offenses are going to be limited to that degree.


San Francisco’s playoff experience narrowly outshines Cam Newton in his first playoff game.

Prediction: 49ers 20, Panthers 17












New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks

The Seattle Seahawks were widely acclaimed this season, many calling them the best team in football this year during the regular season.

And it’s hard to disagree. The ‘Hawks were a remarkably complete team this year. They went 13-3 for the season, winning a vastly improved NFC West even without one of their best receivers in Percy Harvin.

The good news for the Emerald City is that Harvin is back, healthy, and will be suited up on Saturday afternoon, ready to embrace the ear-shattering roar of CenturyLink Field.

In the regular season, these two teams met in Seattle once, and Seattle smacked around the Saints to the tune of 34-7. Brees was frozen for most of the game by the solid Seattle defense, and to say it was an embarrassing loss is an understatement.

    You can bet that the Saints will be analyzing that game to death to see what went wrong, but will it make a difference? Of course Drew Brees is one of the best quarterbacks in the game, but this time he is not going up against a quarterback with no playoff experience like Nick Foles. Foles, to his credit, kept the game close and Philadelphia only lost on a last-second field goal.

The Saints are a very good team, no question, but I just don't see them able to pull off theupset, especially with Seattle's vast arsenal of weapons.


Prediction: Seahawks 31, Saints 17
   

Friday, January 3, 2014

NFL Wild Card Predictions




Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) at Indianapolis Colts (11-5)

This will be the first of the four Wild Card games. Kansas City, which started out 9-0, slipped and went 2-5 down the stretch. One of those losses was a 23-7 loss to Indianapolis at Arrowhead Stadium in Week 16. The Colts, who swooned in the middle of the season, have momentum, winning their last three games.

NFL.com claims “To say Kansas City, losers of five of their past seven games, stumbled down the stretch is putting it nicely.” This may be a bit exaggerated. Two of those losses were at the hands of the Denver Broncos, and they were close games: KC lost the first by 10 and the second by 7. They also lost twice to the San Diego Chargers, but each loss was by a mere field goal. (The second loss was also due to a botched field goal and a lost of resting regulars)

That loss to the Colts in Week 16 sticks out like a sore thumb. Of all the turnovers Alex Smith had this season, a full 30 percent of them came in that game. Luckily for the Chiefs, Justin Houston will more than likely be ready to go for this afternoon in Indianapolis. Kansas City did not get much pressure on Colts’ QB Andrew Luck, and Houston should be able to change that provided he is truly back to form-he had 11 sacks before going down with a dislocated elbow. However-Indianapolis’ offensive line was sixth best in sacks allowed this season with 32. Luck is, however, able to make throws under pressure.

The Chiefs’ defense has been a large reason for their success this year, especially because of all the takeaways they had: 36, good for second best in the league. There is a small but important problem with this defense-it is very reliant on turnovers. Only Seattle was able to generate more turnovers this season, and the Colts committed the least turnovers in the NFL this season (14).

Andrew Luck may not command the respect that Peyton Manning did in Indianapolis when he wore blue and white, but he is a big reason for this team’s ability to rebound from their ugly mid-season performance. Reggie Wayne went down with an ACL injury and did not return for the rest of the season, but Luck and his team were able to rebound quickly.

Prediction: Indianapolis narrowly beats KC, 24-21.







New Orleans Saints (11-5) at Philadelphia Eagles (10-6)

The “Iggles” may be a lot better than their respectable-but-not-mindblowing 10-6 record suggests. They have only one loss since Halloween. Their offense is ranked second in the league. Quarterback Nick Foles has a passer rating of 119.2. LeSean McCoy has rushed for 1,607 yards, and DeSean Jackson has 1,332 yards under his belt. No other NFL team has had those weapons all at once...ever. Even better for Philly, the Saints, while they boasted an 8-0 record in the Superdome, were a paltry 3-5 outside of New Orleans. Drew Brees, near-unstoppable in the Superdome, was not nearly as fun to watch when on the road.

    But let’s not jump to the assumption that the Saints are hopeless. They most certainly are not. New Orleans finished fourth in total yards and are led by one of the best quarterbacks in the game today with Drew Brees at the helm. Rob Ryan has whipped the Saints’ defense, nothing short of horrendous in 2012, to respectability this year. TE Jimmy Graham could also give the Eagles headaches. And perhaps most importantly: the Eagles’ pass defense was ranked dead last this year.

    Inexperience may play a factor as well. This is Nick Foles’ first ever playoff game, whereas Drew Brees is a seasoned veteran who has a Super Bowl ring. Also-Brees showed this season that he can spread the ball around very well.

This could be a slugfest Saturday afternoon at the “Linc”, but the Eagles will ultimately come out on top, to the tune of 34-28.



San Diego Chargers (9-7) at Cincinnati Bengals (11-5)


You know, I think people are pretty impatient when it comes to football teams rebounding from years of mediocrity. The Cincinnati Bengals, awful for years (their last playoff victory came in 1990 against the Houston Oilers), even dubbed the “Bungals” (Or is it “Bungles”? Is there a definitive spelling for that nickname?) are back in the playoffs for a third consecutive season. Their young quarterback, Andy Dalton, is still being hounded by some who wonder if it is a make-or-break postseason for him.

It’s true that Dalton has made mistakes. It’s also true that he has cost his team when he falters, but that can be said of any quarterback. What is not mentioned is that Dalton has improved every year since he became the Bengals’ quarterback in 2011. He throws the ball more, makes more completions, and gets more yards. On top of that, he now holds the Bengals’ record for passing yards in a season.

    Dalton’s inconsistencies of course should not be overlooked. Only four quartebacks threw more interceptions than him this season, and his playoff appearances have been lackluster. However, this is not enough to convince me that he is on any hot seats.

The Bengals beat the Chargers in Week 13 by a score of 17-10. That was the weakest offensive performance the Chargers had all season. Granted, Philip Rivers did not have a bad performance (23/37, 252 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT) Rivers’ receivers had a bad day that game, with the exception of Keenan Allen. This is because of the Bengals’ defense and their complete effort.

    Don’t count the San Diego Chargers out of this game, though. They won 4 straight to get to this position, and even when their offense struggled against Cincy in Week 13, the defense was able to keep the game close. Dalton had his second-worst passing performance of the season, with an interception that sailed lazily into the hands of Eric Weedle. Dalton was not able to move effectively in that game. This could be a question for the Chargers-their defense was questionable all season long, and even in one of their most effective performances, they did not pull out a W. Remember, the Chargers are here because two other teams (Miami and Baltimore) lost and Kansas City rested most of their best players.

    This is probably the most likely game to be an upset, however, and this is because of Chargers QB Philip Rivers. His passer rating on 3rd down was second best-only Colin Kaepernick bested his performance. He’s throwing the ball farther and better, and his overall passer rating is the best it’s been since 2008. It is primarily up to his performance as to whether the Chargers will win.

Pick: Cincinnati, 31-24. 


San Francisco 49ers (12-4) at Green Bay Packers (8-7-1)


Talk about a contrast. San Francisco, overlooked most of the year because of the white-hot Seattle Seahawks, is coming in to this game winners of five of their last six. Colin Kaepernick looks great after a slow start.

Meanwhile, Green Bay has limped into the postseason. Aaron Rodgers was close to being ruled out for the season not long ago, and the Packers would have missed out on the postseason if it wasn’t for an astounding collapse for the Detroit Lions and the inability of the Chicago Bears to win the last game of the season.

Aaron Rodgers is healthy, and this is obviously a welcome sign for the Packers. And they have something they didn’t have the last two times they squared against the Niners-a formidable run game with Eddie Lacy. Unfortunately, Lacy was heard claiming that he had trouble in the Chicago game because of a numb hand and a problematic leg. Worse still for the Packers, Lacy’s counterpart Frank Gore has had a career year. Both topped 1,100 yards this year.
The weather in Green Bay may be a factor in this game. The bitter Wisconsin cold is a far cry from the temperate weather in San Francisco. The forecast calls for a high of 5 degrees, with a brutal wind chill which will put temperatures in closer to -20. Because of that, the game may turn to a war of attrition, fought outside the air.

Prediction: San Francisco 24-13