The NFL playoffs are now well underway, and football fans will have four divisional round games to look forward to this weekend.
On Saturday, Seattle will play Atlanta in Atlanta at 3:35 p.m. (FOX), and Houston will play New England at 7:15 p.m. in Foxborough, Mass. (CBS).
On Sunday, Pittsburgh will play Kansas City at 12:05 p.m. in Kansas City (NBC), and Green Bay will play Dallas in Dallas at 3:40 p.m. (FOX).
I look for New England to beat Houston and for Kansas City to beat Pittsburg, which would set up an AFC Conference Championship game between the Patriots and Chiefs.
On the NFC side this weekend, I look for Atlanta to beat Seattle and for Dallas to beat Green Bay, which will set up a NFC Conference Championship game between the Falcons and the Cowboys.
If all of that comes to pass, I look for New England to win the AFC title and for Dallas to win the NFC championship, which will set up a Super Bowl featuring the Patriots and the Cowboys.
Dallas has had a great season so far, so I’m putting my money on New England to win it all on Super Bowl Sunday.
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Once football has come and gone, all eyes will turn their full attention to local high school basketball action. Three of our four local teams are ranked in their respective classifications.
Hillcrest’s girls are 11-0 overall and off to what may be the best start in the history of the program. So far this season, the Lady Jags have outscored their opponents by an average of 63-32. Their closest game so far has been an eight-point win over Class 5A Greenville High School in Greenville. I look for them to continue to climb in the Class 3A rankings as long as they keep playing like they’ve been playing and can stay healthy.
Hillcrest’s varsity boys are 10-3 overall with all three of their losses coming against high-quality opponents – at 5A Greenville, a one-point loss to 4A Monroe County High and at Carver High School, which is ranked No. 4 in Class 6A. So far this season, their wins have been by an average of more than 10 points per game.
Sparta Academy’s varsity girls, arguably the most consistent winning sports program in the entire county over the years, are 11-5 overall with three of their five losses coming against larger, ranked schools. Sparta looks to cruise through its area schedule and be ready a strong post-season run when the playoffs start in about a month.
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With that said, baseball and softball seasons are just around the corner. Alabama High School Athletic Association baseball teams were allowed to begin throwing/conditioning practices on Monday with full team practices scheduled to officially begin on Jan. 30, which is just two and a half weeks away.
There’s a lot of buzz around the Sparta baseball program these days as new head coach Josh Beverly prepares for his first season at the helm of the school’s baseball team.