Thursday, January 19, 2017

Which of the final four teams do you think has the best shot at the Super Bowl?

The NFL playoffs have narrowed it down to just four teams, and this time next week we’ll know which two teams will be playing in this year’s Super Bowl.

This coming Sunday, fans will get the chance to see the NFC and AFC championship games. The NFC championship game will feature the Green Bay Packers and the Atlanta Falcons and will kick off at 2:05 p.m. in Atlanta. That game will be televised nationally on FOX.

The AFC championship game will feature the Pittsburg Steelers and the New England Patriots and will start at 5:40 p.m. in Foxborough, Mass. That game will be shown nationally on CBS.

I look for New England to beat Pittsburg and for Atlanta to beat Green Bay, which will set up a Super Bowl between New England and Atlanta. I’d like to see Atlanta beat New England, simply because they’re from the South, but they’re going to have their hands full with Tom Brady and the Patriots.

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As hard as it is to believe, the high school basketball regular season is winding down. Sparta will wrap up their regular season schedule on Monday, and Hillcrest will end its regular season in two weeks, on Thurs. Feb. 2.

All four of our local varsity teams have shown steady improvement over the course of the season. Hillcrest’s girls were 12-0 as of Monday morning and a perfect regular season is in their grasp if they can get past their few remaining regular season opponents. My feeling is that they probably had their hands full against Pine Forest High School in Pensacola on Monday, but my hope is that the Lady Jags were able to pull it out.

Hillcrest boys were 11-3, and I think you can make the argument that they’ve played the toughest schedule so far. Through Monday, they’ve played four ranked opponents and have gone 3-1 in those games. Their other two losses were against larger schools by narrow margins.

In any event, I will be shocked if Hillcrest doesn’t end up hosting the boys and girls area tournaments. Much of that will have to do with how they fare against area rival, T.R. Miller.

Hillcrest was originally scheduled to play Miller for the first time on Fri., Jan. 6, but many of you will remember that those games were postponed due to bad weather. As things go, Hillcrest won’t play Miller for the first time until tomorrow (Friday) night. They’ll play again on Jan. 28, and my feeling is that the outcomes of those games will have a big impact on the location of the area tournament.

Sparta’s varsity boys and girls appear to be getting better and better, and I look for them to do well in the postseason, which will begin for them on Jan. 26-28 with the regional tournament at Macon-East Academy.

I fully expected Sparta’s girls to make the Final Four in Class A, and it’s not out of the realm of possibility for Sparta’s boys. If you take a look at the recent high school basketball poll, you’ll see that there is only one Class A team ranked in the Top 10, and that’s East Memorial Christian Academy, who are currently ranked No. 7 in the state.

Sparta and East Memorial are both in the same region, just in different areas. Evangel Christian is also pretty good, and Evangel will be doing Sparta a huge favor if they were to somehow knock EMCA out of the postseason.

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