🏆 A Championship Weekend

Djokovic upset, NFL conference championship previews, college hoops, and more...

It's FRIDAY! Foot — and I cannot stress this part enough — ball. The NFL conference championships are just two days away, and we'll break down the pair of scintillating showdowns before they bless our anxious eyes. And while you dreamt about proper ball security and traditional form tackles last night, a Sinner proved to be the Joker’s worst nightmare, as the Australian Open finals are nearly set, featuring some fresh faces hungry for hardware. Speaking of which, the past two champions in women’s college ball battled in Baton Rouge, but the only ring Angel Reese had to point to was a “0” in LSU’s win column. On the men’s side, a Beaver buried an unbelievable buzzer-beater for another top-10 upset. Also, the Oilers are allergic to losing, the NBA All-Star Game starters were unveiled, and two NFL teams found new head coaches. This one’s for Kobe.

WTF Stat: Last night, LeBron James was named to his record 20th NBA All-Star Game, breaking a tie with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (19) for the most all-time. It is James’ 20th consecutive All-Star selection, and he’s been named a starter all 20 times - since being born in 1984, LeBron James, 39, has been selected as a starter in the annual NBA All-Star Game more times than he has not.

Written By: Ian Dardani

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🏈 Falcons plan to hire Rams DC Raheem Morris as their next head coach - Morris was the Buccaneers’ head coach from 2009-2011 and served on Atlanta’s staff from 2015-2020

🏈 Panthers plan to hire Buccaneers OC Dave Canales as their next head coach - Canales, 42, helped guide Tampa Bay to the playoffs in his first year as the team’s offensive play-caller

🏀 Wizards moved HC Wes Unseld Jr. into a front-office advisory role and named assistant Brian Keefe as their interim head coach for the remainder of the season - Washington went 7-36 this season under Unseld Jr., who was hired as the team’s head coach in 2021

🏀 NBA revealed the starting lineups for this year’s All-Star Game, with Bucks F Giannis Antetokounmpo (East) and Lakers F LeBron James (West) serving as team captains under the traditional East vs. West format - while fans (50% vote), media (25%) and players (25%) determined the starters, the seven reserves for each conference will be selected by NBA head coaches

🏈 A Victory Away from Vegas

Photo: Championship Sunday | Source: TV Central

NFL Championship Sunday Preview

AFC Championship | #3 Kansas City Chiefs (11-6) @ #1 Baltimore Ravens (13-4) 3:00pm ET, CBS

Spread: BAL -4, Over/Under: 44.5

  • After shredding the Texans, Lamar Jackson is on the cusp of leading the top-seeded Ravens to their first Super Bowl in over a decade. But while it feels like it could be Baltimore’s year, one more obstacle still stands in their way — Patrick Mahomes and the mighty Kansas City Chiefs — who are playing in their sixth consecutive AFC Championship game and seeking back-to-back Super Bowl titles.

  • While each quarterback’s brilliance is well-documented, this game also features the two best regular-season scoring defenses, as Baltimore allowed 16.5 points per game and Kansas City allowed 17.3. No team gave up fewer yards to wide receivers in the regular season than the Chiefs, but the secondary has fared worse against tight ends, and the return of TE Mark Andrews, coupled with emerging TE Isaiah Likely, could create mismatches. Kansas City also struggled to contain Josh Allen on the ground last week. The Bills QB had 12 carries for 72 yards and two touchdowns, and Jackson’s legs pose an even greater threat.

  • The Ravens’ defense led the NFL in takeaways (31) and sacks (60) during the regular season, but they’ll have their work cut out for them against an offense that’s peaking at the right time. Buffalo had the fourth-best scoring defense this year (18.3 PPG), yet the Chiefs only punted once last week. Through two playoff games, TE Travis Kelce and WR Rashee Rice have combined for 24 catches, 323 yards, and three touchdowns. Mahomes has just seven interceptions in his 16 career postseason games and zero in his last five while throwing for 13 touchdowns. Baltimore’s defense has been a force all year, but you simply can’t count out Mahomes. We expect a close one.

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Pick: KC +4

NFC Championship | #3 Detroit Lions (12-5) @ #1 San Francisco 49ers (12-5) 6:30pm ET, FOX

Spread: SF -7, Over/Under: 51.5

  • This isn’t the same old Lions. First division title in 30 years? Check. First postseason victory in 32 years? Check. First-ever Super Bowl appearance? TBD. While Detroit will look to make history, San Francisco will look to make up for consecutive NFC championship losses. The 49ers survived a scare last week against the seventh-seeded Packers and will again be facing an underdog playing with house money.

  • The Lions are riding a wave of confidence right now, but this is not a good matchup for them on paper. Detroit has one of the best run defenses in the NFL but allowed the fifth-most passing yards this season (247.4 YPG), while San Francisco’s offense averaged the fourth-most passing yards (257.9 YPG). Additionally, no team allowed more yards to wide receivers this season than the Lions, and All-Pro WR Brandon Aiyuk should have his way with their struggling corners. However, the 49ers’ Swiss Army Knife, WR Deebo Samuel, may not play due to a shoulder injury, which would be a huge relief for Detroit.

  • The Niners’ offense has been a buzzsaw all year, but the Lions can also put up points. In the last two weeks, QB Jared Goff has completed 74% of his passes for 564 yards, three touchdowns, and no picks. Detroit’s offensive line finished the season with the second-best run-blocking grade in the NFL (82.7%), and while San Francisco was stout against the rush in the regular season, they just allowed 108 yards on just 18 carries to Packers RB Aaron Jones, an average of six yards per attempt. The 49ers are the better overall team, but if the Lions can get the ground game going and keep the Niners’ offense somewhat at bay, crazier things have happened.

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Pick: SF -7

See the full NFL playoff bracket here.

Photo: Sinner, Sinner, Chicken Dinner | Source: USA Today

ATP Australian Open - Semifinals

  • Men’s | #4 Jannik Sinner def. #1 Novak Djokovic (6-1, 6-2, 6-7, 6-3) In a stunner Down Under, 22-year-old Italian Jannik Sinner snapped Novak Djokovic’s 33-match winning streak at Melbourne in emphatic fashion, as the 10-time tournament winner looked out of sorts from the start, and although he saved a match point in a third-set tiebreaker to avoid a sweep, Sinner prevailed in the fourth to reach his first Grand Slam final - Sinner has now beaten Djokovic in three of their last four meetings, and Djokovic had won the last four Aussie Opens he’d been a part of (2019, ‘20, ‘21, ‘23)

  • Men’s | #3 Daniil Medvedev vs. #6 Alexander Zverev (3:30am ET) Live Score

  • Women’s | #2 Aryna Sabalenka def. #4 Coco Gauff (7-6, 6-4): Defending champion Aryna Sabalenka avenged her loss to Coco Gauff in the 2023 US Open final with a powerful display of tennis, as the Belarusian unloaded 33 winners to help take a first-set tiebreaker, 7-2, before closing out the 19-year-old American in straight sets - Sabalenka is the first woman since Serena Williams (2015-17) to reach back-to-back finals in Melbourne

  • Women’s | #12 Zheng Qinwen def. Dayana Yastremska (6-4, 6-4): Dayana Yastremska’s Cinderella run came to an end Thursday morning as the unranked qualifier from Ukraine was outclassed 6-4 in both sets by China’s Zheng Qinwen, who will be playing in her first Grand Slam final - Zheng, 21, lost in last year’s US Open quarterfinals to Sabalenka in her best previous run at a major

See the full results here.

Australian Open Finals

  • Women’s | #2 Aryna Sabalenka vs. #12 Zheng Qinwen Saturday 3:30pm ET, ESPN

  • Men’s | #4 Jannik Sinner vs. Medvedev/Zverev Sunday 3:30am ET, ESPN

See the men’s singles bracket here and the women’s singles bracket here.

College Basketball - Top Games

  • NCAAW | #1 South Carolina 76, #9 LSU 70: In a highly-anticipated conference clash from Baton Rouge, where secondary ticket prices eclipsed $2,000, the unbeaten Gamecocks found themselves down 11 points in the 2nd quarter to Angel Reese (15 PTS, 8 REB, 4 AST) and the defending champs, but Raven Johnson (13 PTS, 9 REB, 4 AST) sparked a second-half rally and Bree Hall’s (10 PTS, 5 REB) tiebreaking three with 1:14 remaining kept South Carolina’s record unblemished, improving to a perfect 18-0 - LSU was outscored 24-14 in the 4th quarter and Reese fouled out with four minutes to play

  • NCAAW | #22 Syracuse 79, #15 Notre Dame 65: Dyaisha Fair (25 PTS, 7 REB, 3 AST) had herself a night, and the Orange pulled away to beat Hannah Hidalgo (23 PTS, 4 AST) and the Irish for their first win at Notre Dame in program history - Syracuse (17-2) has one loss dating back to Nov. 20

  • NCAAM | Oregon State 83, #9 Arizona 80 (OT): In one of the best finishes you’ll see all season, Arizona’s Pelle Larsson (17 PTS, 5 REB, 4 AST) made two free throws to tie the game in overtime with 11 ticks left, but then Jordan Pope (31 PTS, 5-8 3PT, 5 AST) made greatness, draining a contested fadeaway three at the buzzer to stun the Wildcats in Corvallis - court-storming APPROVED!

  • NCAAM | Gonzaga 77, San Francisco 72: The Dons hung tough for 30 minutes, but they couldn’t outstand Graham Ike (22 PTS) and the Zags for a full 40, as the four-time reigning West Coast Conference champs improved to 14-5 on the season

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

NBA - Top Games

  • New York Knicks 122, Denver Nuggets 84: Knicks Tape! OG Anunoby (26 PTS, 10-18 FG, 6 STL) was lights out on both ends of the floor, Jalen Brunson (21 PTS, 7-10 FG, 4 AST) was feeling it, and the Knicks pumped Nikola Jokic (31 PTS, 11 AST) and the Nuggets at the Garden to hand the defending champs their worse loss of the season - New York (28-17) is now 11-2 since trading for Anunoby on Dec. 31

  • Boston Celtics 143, Miami Heat 110: The Celtics dropped 42 points in the 1st quarter and splashed 22 triples in total as Jayson Tatum (26 PTS, 8 REB, 4 AST) and company embarrassed Jimmy Butler (17 PTS, 4 AST) and the Heat on their home floor in an Eastern Conference Finals rematch - unfortunately for Boston, Kristaps Porzingis (19 PTS) left the game after spraining his ankle in the 3rd quarter

  • Indiana Pacers 134, Philadelphia 76ers 122: Despite being without the injured Tyrese Haliburton (hamstring), Indiana got a much-needed win on the back of their newest acquisition, Pascal Siakam (26 PTS, 13 REB, 10 AST), who dropped a triple-double in his third game as a Pacer to lead his team to a wire-to-wire victory over Joel Embiid (31 PTS, 7 REB) and the Sixers

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

NHL - Top Games

  • Edmonton Oilers 3, Chicago Blackhawks 0: The Edmonton Oilers are now just two wins shy of tying the longest winning streak in NHL history set by the 1992-93 Penguins at 17 games. Connor McDavid (2 G, 1 A) started the scoring in the 2nd period and ended it in the 3rd with an empty-netter, while Calvin Pickard (27 SV) earned a shutout to give Edmonton their 15th straight win - they are the fifth team in NHL history to win 15 games in a row

  • Dallas Stars 4, Anaheim Ducks 3 (OT): The lowly Ducks went blow-for-blow with the Cup-contending Stars, trading goals in each period, but Thomas Harley (1 G, 1 A) roofed a wrister for the OT-winner, and Dallas escaped with home victory - the Stars (29-13-6) have the fourth-most points in the West, with 64

  • Montreal Canadiens 4, New York Islanders 3: Matt Barzal (1 G, 1 A) and the Isles netted three straight power-play goals to tie the game late in the 3rd period, but the Canadiens’ Sean Monahan (2 G) revisited the red light district with 2:12 remaining to spoil Islanders HC Patrick Roy’s return to Montreal - Roy, a Hall of Fame goaltender who won two Stanley Cups with the Habs, was hired as the New York's coach last Saturday

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

PGA - Farmers Insurance Open (Torrey Pines)

Day 2 Leaderboard:

  • 1. Stephan Jaeger (-12)

  • 2. Nicolai Hojgaard (-11)

  • T3. Matthieu Pavon (-10)

  • T3. Thomas Detry (-10)

  • T5. Tony Finau (-9)

  • T5. Michael Kim (-9)

  • T7. Joseph Bramlett (-8)

  • T7. Emiliano Grillo (-8)

  • T7. Aaron Rai (-8)

See the full leaderboard here.

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Who holds the NFL record for the most passing yards in a conference championship game?

A. Peyton Manning

B. Matt Ryan

C. Tom Brady

D. Dan Marino

Photo: Kobe & Gianni, 2009 | Source: Getty Images

On January 26, 2020, Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, tragically passed away in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. Widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players and scorers of all time, Kobe won five NBA titles, was an 18-time All-Star, a 15-time member of the All-NBA Team, a 12-time member of the All-Defensive Team, the 2008 MVP, and a two-time Finals MVP. He is nicknamed the "Black Mamba," a self-proclaimed alter-ego (inspired by the movie Kill Bill) used to separate his killer mentality on the court from his personal life. In 2018, two years after Bryant retired, he became the first former pro athlete to win an Academy Award for his animated short film "Dear Basketball." On a Sunday morning in 2020, Kobe and 13-year-old Gianna (a passionate basketball player herself) set out for Bryant's training facility, Mamba Academy. Sadly, the two and seven others never made it after their helicopter crashed in foggy weather. Bryant was posthumously voted into the Hall of Fame a few months later. Despite all his achievements, Kobe is perhaps best remembered for his passion, ambition, and relentless drive to excel at whatever he was tasked with, whether on the court or off. Kobe and Gianna's legacy will be remembered for generations to come - RIP Mamba.


  • FA Cup: Manchester City @ Tottenham 3:00pm ET, ESPN+

  • NBA: Dallas Mavericks @ Atlanta Hawks 7:00pm ET, NBA TV

  • NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder @ New Orleans Pelicans 8:00pm ET, Local

  • NCAAM: Michigan State @ #13 Wisconsin 8:00pm ET, FS1

  • NCAAW: #3 Colorado @ #25 Oregon State 10:00pm ET, Pac-12

  • NHL: Vegas Golden Knights @ New York Rangers 7:00pm ET, ESPN

  • NHL: Los Angeles Kings @ Colorado Avalanche 9:00pm ET, NHLPP / ESPN+

  • PGA: Farmers Insurance Open, Round 3 4:00-8:00pm ET CBS


  • Australian Open W. Final: Aryna Sabalenka vs. Zheng Qinwen 3:30am ET, ESPN

  • FA Cup: Newcastle United @ Fulham 2:00pm ET, ESPN+

  • NBA: Miami Heat @ New York Knicks 3:00pm ET, ABC

  • NBA: Philadelphia 76ers @ Denver Nuggets 5:30pm ET, ABC

  • NCAAM: Kansas State @ #4 Houston 12:00pm ET, ESPN

  • NCAAM: #7 Kansas @ #23 Iowa State 1:30pm ET, CBS

  • NCAAM: Clemson @ #12 Duke 4:00pm ET, ESPN

  • NCAAM: #6 Kentucky @ Arkansas 6:00pm ET, ESPN

  • NCAAW: Nebraska @ #5 Iowa 2:00pm ET, BTN

  • NCAAW: #15 Notre Dame @ #8 UConn 8:00pm ET, FOX

  • NHL: Boston Bruins @ Philadelphia Flyers 12:30pm ET, NHL Net

  • NHL: Montreal Canadiens @ Pittsburgh Penguins 7:00pm ET, NHLPP / ESPN+

  • PGA: Farmers Insurance Open, Round 4 4:00-8:00pm ET CBS


  • AFC Championship: Kansas City Chiefs @ Baltimore Ravens 3:00pm ET, CBS

  • NFC Championship: Detroit Lions @ San Francisco 49ers 6:30pm ET, FOX

  • Australian Open: Jannik Sinner vs. TBD 3:30pm ET, ESPN

  • FA Cup: Manchester United @ Newport County 11:30am ET, ESPN+

  • NBA: Chicago Bulls @ Portland Trail Blazers 9:00pm ET, Local

  • NCAAM: Xavier @ #1 UConn 12:00pm ET, FS1

  • NCAAM: #2 Purdue @ Rutgers 1:00pm ET, FOX

  • NCAAW: #19 Virginia Tech @ #22 Syracuse 12:00pm ET, ACCN

  • NCAAW: Vanderbilt @ #1 South Carolina 3:00pm ET, SECN

  • NHL: Los Angeles Kings @ St. Louis Blues 2:00pm ET, NHL Net

  • NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets @ Seattle Kraken 9:00pm ET, NHLPP / ESPN+

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Trivia Time Answer

D. Dan Marino. The Dolphins’ legendary gunslinger still holds the NFL record for most passing yards in a conference championship, with 421 in the 1984 AFC title game. His efforts led Miami to a 45-28 win against the Steelers, but the Fins lost to Joe Montana and the 49ers two weeks later in Super Bowl 19. Peyton Manning has the second-most passing yards in a conference championship, with 400 in 2014, and Matt Ryan has the third- and fourth-most, with 396 in 2013 and 392 in 2017.

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