🏈 Best NFL Weekend of the Year!

Divisonal Round preview, Australian Open, NBA, NHL, college hoops, and more...

It’s FRIDAY! It's almost that time, folks. The time when you can't possibly take the kids to soccer because it's two hours before kickoff and Jay Glazer is talking about his divorce again on the pregame show. The time when Andy Reid schemes up the perfect misdirection shovel pass with remnants of his Wendy's double Baconator hanging off his luscious mustache. The time when Tony Romo says, “Oooo-weeee, I don’t know Jimmmm,” after every challenge for absolutely no reason. The time when Lions fans go to throw out their paper bag hats only to realize they still have the Pistons. The time for Divisional Round football. Eight teams, four games, and the best weekend of NFL ball is almost here. We’ll break down every matchup in pure Blitz fashion and give out our picks that will probably lose. Plus, we had an all-time marathon at the Australian Open and another packed night of college hoops, NBA, and NHL action. Let’s go!

WTF Stat: LeBron James has played against 35% of all players in NBA history.

Written By: Ian Dardani

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🏈 Ohio State hired former Texans HC Bill O’Brien as the team’s new offensive coordinator - O’Brien served the same role with the Patriots in 2023 and is expected to handle playcalling duty for the Buckeyes

Photo: Don’t Blink! | Source: USA Today

ATP Australian Open - Rounds 2 & 3, Top Matches

Women’s Singles

  • R3 | Anna Blinkova def. #3 Elena Rybakina (6-4, 4-6, 7-6): In one of the fiercest battles you will ever see, Russia’s Anna Blinkova and last year’s Australian Open runner-up Elena Rybakina exhausted every ounce of energy in a ridiculous 42-point, third-set tiebreaker where Blinkova missed nine match points but also saved six before ultimately outlasting Rybakina thanks to a backhand error after 32 minutes - in terms of points, it was the longest tiebreaker in a women’s singles match in Grand Slam history!

  • R2 | Clara Burel def. #5 Jessica Pegula (6-4, 6-2): Jessica Pegula had reached the Aussie Open quarterfinals in each of the past three years but suffered her earliest Grand Slam exit since 2021 as the American was ousted rather handily by France’s Clara Burel early Thursday morning

  • R3 | #2 Aryna Sabalenka def. #28 Lesia Tsurenko (6-0, 6-0)

  • R3 | #4 Coco Gauff def. Alycia Parks (6-0, 6-2)

Men’s Singles

  • R2 | Arthur Cazaux def. #8 Holger Rune (7-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3): Denmark’s Holger Rune fell victim to the earliest top-10 upset on the men’s side as wild card Arthur Cazaux of France knocked off the 20-year-old phenom with 18 aces and 51 winners, while Rune logged 40 unforced errors

  • R2 | #3 Daniil Medvedev def. Emil Ruusuvuori (3-6, 6-7, 6-4, 7-6, 6-0): In another marathon, Daniil Medvedev dropped the first two sets against No. 53-ranked Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland but was able to survive a fourth-set tiebreaker before rolling in the fifth to narrowly advance in a 4-hour, 23-minute affair

  • R3 | #4 Jannik Sinner def. Sebastian Baez (6-0, 6-1, 6-3)

  • R3 | #12 Taylor Fritz def. Fabian Marozsan (3-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2)

See the full results here, the men’s singles bracket here, and the women’s singles bracket here.

NBA - Top Games

  • Oklahoma City Thunder 134, Utah Jazz 129: Other than getting absolutely yammed on by Collin Sexton (31 PTS, 7 AST), Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (31 PTS, 6 REB, 6 AST) had himself a pretty decent night, and Jalen Williams (27 PTS, 8 AST) scored 11 of his 27 points in the 4th quarter to help the Thunder edge out the Jazz in Salt Lake, ending Utah’s six-game winning streak - Oklahoma City (28-13) is 1.5 games back of Minnesota (29-11) for the best record in the West

  • New York Knicks 113, Washington Wizards 109: Jalen Brunson (41 PTS, 14-27 FG, 8 REB, 8 AST) put on a show, and the Knicks staved off Jordan Poole (24 PTS, 4 REB) and the bottom-feeding Wizards to improve to 8-2 since acquiring OG Anunoby (19 PTS, 7 REB) from the Raptors on Dec. 31 - New York (25-17) has the fifth-best record in the East, while Washington (7-33)… well, they just flat-out stink

  • Indiana Pacers 126, Sacramento Kings 121: After trailing by 13 with less than four minutes remaining, Kevin Huerter (31 PTS, 7-12 3PT) and the Kings were able to cut the lead to three with 32 seconds to play, but Bennedict Mathurin (25 PTS, 4 AST) and the Pacers held on thanks to some late made free throws by Jalen Smith (17 PTS, 13 REB) - Indiana (23-17) is now 3-2 in the absence of All-Star G Tyrese Haliburton, who is expected to return soon from a hamstring injury

See the full NBA scoreboard here and the current standings here.

NHL - Top Games

  • Edmonton Oilers 4, Seattle Kraken 2: Thank you. Next! Despite entering the first intermission down 2-0, the Oilers extended their franchise-record winning streak to 12 games as Warren Foegele (2 G) and Leon Draisaitl (1 G, 3 A) fueled a 4-0 unanswered run that included three scores in seven minutes in the 2nd period - Edmonton (25-15-1) is now 20-3-0 in their last 23 games

  • Toronto Maple Leafs 4, Calgary Flames 3: Auston Matthews is really good at hockey. The Leafs trailed 2-0 before the league’s leading goal scorer took over, as Matthews (3 G) notched his third hat trick of the season to rally Toronto past Yegor Sharangovich (1 G) and the Flames in Calgary - Matthews is on pace for an absurd 71 goals with 37 through 41 games

  • Boston Bruins 5, Colorado Avalanche 2: David Pastrnak (3 G) dropped a hatty, and the B’s held a 3-1 lead after the 1st period to cruise past Nathan MacKinnon (1 G) and the Avs for their third straight win - Boston (27-8-9) has the most points in the East with 63

  • Tampa Bay Lightning 7, Minnesota Wild 3: The Lightning are starting to heat up as they notched their fourth straight W on the backs of Victor Hedman (1 G, 3 A), Nikita Kucherov (3 A) and Brayden Point (1 G, 2 A), who helped combine for a touchdown and an extra point to rout the Wild in Tampa Bay

See the full NHL scoreboard here and the current standings here.

College Basketball - Top Games

  • NCAAM | South Florida 74, #10 Memphis 73: After a handful of recent close calls, the Tigers finally got trapped. Penny Hardaway’s squad led 20 early in the second half, but South Florida staged a swift comeback, and Kasean Pryor’s (21 PTS, 10 REB) free throw put them up one with four seconds remaining before Memphis’ Jahvon Quinerly (15 PTS) missed a three at the buzzer, ending the Tigers’ 10-game winning streak

  • NCAAM | Gonzaga 86, Pepperdine 61: The Bulldogs found themselves in a tie game at halftime against the Pepperdine Waves, but Graham Ike (24 PTS, 7 REB) and the Zags broke things open in the final 20 minutes to give their head coach Mark Few his 700th career victory after over 23 years at the helm - Few is one of 14 active men’s coaches with 700 career wins

  • NCAAW | Miami 73, #4 NC State 59: Following a 14-0 start to the season, NC State has now dropped two of their last three games as Jasmyne Robert (18 PTS, 5 AST) and the Canes raced past the Wolfpack for a resume-boosting win at home - NC State’s (15-2) first loss came on Jan. 7 against No. 14 Virginia Tech, who was blown out by Duke last night, 63-46

  • NCAAW | #10 LSU 78, Alabama 58: They’re already missing Saban in Tuscaloosa. Alabama held a one-point lead at the break, but Angel Reese (20 PTS, 17 REB) sparked a huge 3rd-quarter run in which the Tigers outscored the Tide 26-10, and the defending champs didn’t look back to rebound from Sunday’s loss against Auburn - LSU is now 16-2

See the full men’s scoreboard here and the current rankings here. See the full women’s scoreboard here and the current rankings here.

🏈 The Divisional Dance

Photo: NFL Playoffs | Source: USA Today

NFL Divisional Round Preview

Saturday

AFC | #4 Houston Texans (10-7) @ #1 Baltimore Ravens (13-4) 4:30pm ET, ESPN

  • Baltimore beat Houston 25-9 in Week 1, but everyone knew a rematch was looming late into January, right? Texans rookie QB CJ Stroud has been sensational, yet the Ravens come in as nearly double-digit favorites, and for good reason. Aside from their Week 18 loss to the Steelers when they rested their starters, Baltimore has won five consecutive games against teams with a winning record by an average of 17.4 points. Lamar Jackson is on his way to winning his second MVP Award, and their defense leads the league in points allowed (16.5 per game), total sacks (60), and takeaways (31).

  • But Stroud just lit up another elite defense in Cleveland, and Ravens Pro Bowl CB Marlon Humphries is out with a calf injury. The Texans’ rush defense is also one of the best in the league; only the Patriots allowed fewer yards per carry (3.5) in the regular season. Baltimore has one of the most efficient passing games in the NFL (7.7 YPA), and Jackson will challenge the Texans’ subpar secondary. But if Houston can stop the run and make Baltimore one-dimensional, Stroud has a chance to keep it close — and perhaps pull off a stunner.

  • Pick: HOU +9.5

NFC | #7 Green Bay Packers (9-8) @ #1 San Francisco 49ers (12-5) 8:15pm ET, FOX

  • Well, hello, Jordan Love. Including last week’s obliteration of the Cowboys, the Packers quarterback has tossed 21 touchdowns and only one interception in his past nine games, leading Green Bay to a 7-2 record in that stretch. But the 49ers are a different animal. San Francisco is top two in total offense (398.4 YPG), top three in points per game (28.9), and top three in points allowed per game (17.5). Yet perhaps their biggest advantage is in coaching, where one of the most brilliant offensive minds in football, HC Kyle Shanahan, will face Packers DC Joe Barry, who, to put it lightly, is on the hot seat.

  • Green Bay allowed 128.3 yards per game on the ground in the regular season, the fifth-most in the NFL. That wasn’t a problem against Dallas after jumping out to a 20-point lead before halftime. But it will be against All-Pro RB Christian McCaffrey and one of the best offensive lines in football. With that said, the Packers are playing their best ball of the year, and Love could have more magic in store for a team that hasn’t played a meaningful game in three weeks.

  • Unlock pick with Blitz Prime

Pick: SF -9.5

Sunday

NFC | #4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-8) @ #3 Detroit Lions (12-5) 3:00pm ET, NBC

  • Sunday will mark the first time in franchise history that the Lions have hosted two playoff games in the same season. The home-field advantage may help break another streak; Detroit hasn’t won multiple playoff games in the same season since 1957. But the Buccaneers are red-hot right now, having won seven of their last eight games to claim an NFC South title and ultimately knock off the Eagles in the wild-card round. During that eight-game span, Tampa Bay is allowing only 13.4 points per game, and Baker Mayfield appears to be oozing confidence after shredding Philadelphia’s secondary.

  • However, the Lions have been the better team all year and beat the Bucs 20-6 in Week 6. In that game, Mayfield threw for 206 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. Meanwhile, Goff tossed for 353 yards and two scores. Tampa Bay’s defense has been stout recently, but they haven’t seen an offense as potent as Detroit’s in several weeks, and I have a sneaking suspicion Mayfield will come back down to earth. With that said, 6.5 is a lot of points against a surging squad with nothing to lose.

  • Pick: TB +6.5

AFC | #3 Kansas City Chiefs (11-6) @ #2 Buffalo Bills (11-6) 6:30pm ET, CBS

  • And. Here. We. Go! This will be the third meeting between Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen in the postseason, with Mahomes taking the first two matchups in the 2021 AFC Championship and, of course, the fabled 2022 Divisional thriller. This will also be Mahomes’ first true road playoff game (his previews 15 games were either at home or in the Super Bowl), and as you may recall, thanks to Kadarius Toney, Buffalo beat Kansas City 20-17 in Week 14.

  • While all the attention will be on the quarterbacks, Sunday’s game will also feature two of the top-five scoring defenses from the regular season. The Chiefs are second (17.3 PPG), and the Bills are fourth (18.3 PPG). Buffalo has been injured on defense all season, but now they’re even more banged up. Cornerbacks Christian Benford and Taron Johnson are doubtful, and Rasul Douglas is questionable. That leaves Mahomes up against a crippled secondary. Advantage: Mahomes. But Buffalo will have a raucous crowd on their side to make up for it, and they haven’t won six games in a row by accident. Hopefully, we’re in for another classic.

  • Unlock pick with Blitz Prime

Pick: KC +2.5

2023-24 NFL Top Games Record: 30-17-1. 

Blitz Prime Record: 26-10-1 

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How many career playoff games has Lamar Jackson won?

A. 0

B. 1

C. 2

D. 3

Photo: Lance Armstrong, Tour de France | Source: CBS Sports

On January 19, 1903, French newspaper L'Auto announced they would be hosting a new five-stage, long-distance bicycle race named the "Tour de France." The race was first organized to increase sales for the newspaper L'Auto and is now the oldest and most prestigious Grand Tour. It has been held annually since its first edition in 1903, except during the two World Wars. As the Tour gained popularity, the race was lengthened and now consists of 21 stages, each a day long, over 23 days. While the route changes each year, some key landmarks remain constant, including a passage through the mountains of the Pyrenees and the Alps and a finish on the Champs-Élysées in Paris. Exactly 110 years after its introduction, on January 19, 2013, the race's most decorated champion, Lance Armstrong, admitted to doping in all seven of his (consecutive) Tour de France victories - Armstrong was stripped of all titles, along with an Olympic medal, and banned for life from competitive cycling.

Friday

  • ATP: Australian Open 3:00am-7:00am, 7:00pm-12:00am, ESPN2

  • NBA: Denver Nuggets @ Boston Celtics 7:30pm ET, ESPN

  • NBA: Brooklyn Nets @ Los Angeles Lakers 10:30pm ET, ESPN

  • NCAAM: Georgetown @ Xavier 6:30pm ET, FS1

  • NCAAM: Indiana @ #11 Wisconsin 8:30pm ET, FS1

  • NCAAW: #5 UCLA @ #3 Colorado 8:00pm ET, Pac-12

  • NHL: Minnesota Wild @ Florida Panthers 7:00pm ET, NHLPP / ESPN+

  • NHL: New York Islanders @ Chicago Blackhawks 8:30pm ET, NHLPP / ESPN+

Saturday

  • NFL Playoffs: Houston Texans @ Baltimore Ravens 4:30pm ET, ESPN

  • NFL Playoffs: Green Bay Packers @ San Francisco 49ers 8:15pm ET, FOX

  • ATP: Australian Open 3:00am-7:00am, 7:00pm-12:00am, ESPN2

  • EPL: Crystal Palace @ Arsenal 7:30pm ET, USA Network

  • NBA: Toronto Raptors @ New York Knicks 7:30pm ET, Local

  • NCAAM: #9 Baylor @ Texas 12:00pm ET, ESPN

  • NCAAM: UCLA @ #12 Arizona 4:00pm ET, ESPN2

  • NCAAM: #1 UConn @ Villanova 8:00pm ET, FS1

  • NCAAW: Kansas @ #7 Kansas State 2:00pm ET, Big 12 / ESPN+

  • NHL: Colorado Avalanche @ Philadelphia Flyers 1:00pm ET, NHL Net

Sunday

  • NFL Playoffs: Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Detroit Lions 3:00pm ET, NBC

  • NFL Playoffs: Kansas City Chiefs @ Buffalo Bills 6:30pm ET, CBS

  • ATP: Australian Open 3:00am-7:00am, 7:00pm-12:00am, ESPN2

  • EPL: Liverpool @ AFC Bournemouth 11:30pm ET, USA Network

  • NBA: Indiana Pacers @ Phoenix Suns 8:00pm ET, Local

  • NCAAM: Michigan State @ Maryland 12:00pm ET, CBS

  • NCAAM: #10 Memphis @ Tulane 1:00pm ET, ESPN2

  • NCAAW: #2 Iowa @ #18 Ohio State 12:00pm ET, NBC

  • NCAAW: #6 USC @ #3 Colorado 3:00pm ET, Pac-12

  • NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs @ Seattle Kraken 9:00pm ET, NHLPP / ESPN+

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Trivia Time Answer

B. 1. Lamar Jackson is 1-3 as a starter in the playoffs, with his one win coming in the 2021 Wild Card round against the Titans. He is also 0-2 in the postseason as a home favorite, losing to the Chargers in the 2018 Wild Card as a three-point favorite and losing to the Titans in the 2019 Divisional Round as a 10-point favorite (the last time Baltimore was the No. 1 seed) - Jackson and Texans rookie QB CJ Stroud will enter Saturday’s game with the same amount of career playoff wins (1).

Have a great weekend, and thanks for reading. See ya on Monday!