Who am I?

I'm from Houston, a graduate of the University of Texas, a fan of the Houston Astros and Houston Texans. But this blog will be about the "greater sports", whatever that means.

Follow me on Twitter: @lhd_on_sports

Labels

LHD_PotW (350) MLB (129) NFL (124) NCAA (102) NFL Playoffs (55) NBA (52) NHL (43)

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Sportsman of the Week Ending 11/11/2018

The Chicago Bears seem to have finally got past rebuild mode to compete mode, and it started with what appears to be a smart draft pick at the QB position.  Mitch Trubisky is growing into the role of superstar QB, and he might have made a big leap on Sunday.  Trubisky is leading the NFC North Division leaders to a 6-3 record, including an impressive victory over the Detroit Lions on Sunday.  Trubisky accounted for four of the Bears TD's, 3 through the air and one with his legs.  His 76.7% completion percentage and 355 yards were season highs as the Bears throttled the Lions 34-22.  For the season, Trubisky is sporting a 19/7 TD to INT ratio, including 17-4 in his last six games.  Huge games left with Minnesota (2) and Green Bay (at home) will decide the North, but Trubisky is finally reaching that point of being mentioned with the elite QBs.  And is our Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Sportsman of the Week Ending 11/4/2018

It's getting to be the part of the NFL season where the men separate from the boys, and when two men battle, you put the women and children to bed and go looking for dinner.  The New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams have emerged as the best two teams in the NFC and the schedule gods had them square off in Week 9.  And it did not disappoint.  Two prolific offenses went toe to toe for 80 points and 970 yards.  There were only 6 penalties and 3 punts.  And there was a 200 yard receiver.  The Saints Michael Thomas torched the Rams seeping secondary for 211 yards on 12 catches, including a back-breaking 72 yard TD from 3x Sportsman of the Week Drew Brees with 3:52 that put the Saints up for good.  Will we see a rematch in January?  If so, the Rams better come up with a better game plan to stop Michael Thomas, the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Sportsman of the Week Ending 10/28/2018

The Boston Red Sox definitely proved they were the best baseball team in 2018, but it wasn't necessarily their best player that carried them to the title.  In fact, it was a very unlikely one.  Steve Pearce was an afterthought at the trade deadline.  But he wasn't in the final stretch of the World Series.  Three of the biggest hits in Games 4 and 5 came from the unlikely hero.  In Game 4 in the 8th inning with the Red Sox trailing 4-3, he hit a solo home run to tie the game, then followed it in the 9th inning with a 3 run double to push the Red Sox ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers for good.  And then shift to Game 5, where he gave the Red Sox a lead 2-0 lead they would never relinquish in the first inning on a home run, then got another solo shot in the 8th in what ended up being a 5-1 win over the Dodgers.  So keeping score at home, that's 8 RBI in 11 innings of batting for his team, or 8 AB total.  The World Series MVP was just that, clearly the best player among a team of All Stars and is our Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!  one might be surprised, this is his second time for the honor.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Sportsman of the Week Ending 10/21/2018

The Boston Red Sox are poised for their fourth World Series Title in 15 years and it's an unlikely hero that helped slay the defending World Champions.  Jackie Bradley Jr., batting out of the number 9 hole, swung more like Babe Ruth than Spike Owen.  In a crucial Game 3 (with the series tied) against the Houston Astros, he broke the game open with a grand slam off of closer Roberto Osuna to put the Sox 5 runs ahead.  Then he came back in a see-saw epic Game 4, he gave the Red Sox the lead for good with a 2-run homer off of fireballer Josh James who had been baffling Boston.  The homer broke the back of the Astros which never led a game in the series again as they folded in Game 5.  The unlikely hero won the ALCS MVP and is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Sportsman of the Week Ending 10/14/2018

The MLB playoffs chug on to the League Championship Series round, and superstars are emerging.  The Los Angeles Dodgers are looking to take their second straight National League pennant and if they do so, it might be behind someone unexpected on opening day.  Manny Machado was acquired just after the All Star game, and is paying dividends.  During the week (clincher against the Braves, plus first two games against the Brewers), he took over two key games for wins.  He finished the 3 games 5-13 (.385), 1 2B, 2 HR, 7 RBI and 3 R.  The Dodgers have their hands full with a hot Brewers team, but Machado is looking all the part of the difference between a World Series or not.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Sportsman of the Week Ending 10/7/2018

The Houston Astros are choo chooing to another World Series title, and it's a different hero this year than last.  Alex Bregman has been the one steady force on a team that already featured a reigning Most Valuable Player plus two former Cy Young Award pitchers.  But it was Bregman who gave the Astros a stranglehold on what turned out to be an easy sweep of the Cleveland Indians in the American League Division Series.  In the first two games at home, he was 3-6, with 2 HR and 2 BB.  Add 3 runs and 3 RBI and he was basically in the middle of everything.  The next day when the Astros closed it out, he was on base six times (2 hits, 2 walks, 1 HBP, and reached on error).  Unstoppable.  And he's only 24.  He's a big reason the Astros are poised to repeat as World Series Champions and is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Monday, October 1, 2018

Sportsman of the Week Ending 9/30/2018

Our Sportsman of the Week is for the last week of October.  But he's been playing baseball like October.  Milwaukee Brewers all-everything outfielder Christian Yelich has put his stamp on this season with an amazing last week to force a one-game playoff with the rival Cubs.  A game in which his team won.  Yelich led his team to seven straight wins to end the regular season.  They needed every last one.  He then led them to an improbably win on the road in the one game playoff.  The Brewers now have home field advantage throughout the National League Playoffs.  Yelich for the last eight games/wins: 11-24, 5 HR, 17 RBI, and was walked an Bonds-like 12 walks.  That's a .639 on-base percentage.  Yelich won the National League batting title and finished 2 HR and 1 RBI away from the first NL triple crown in 80 years.  Pretty good, huh?  Not to mention he played 9 games fewer than the HR/RBI leaders due to an injury in April.  He's the best player in the National League, and our Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Sportsman of the Week Ending 9/23/2018

The NFL is quickly becoming a league of up and coming quarterbacks, and there is one who is already in the MVP conversation.  Patrick Mahomes II stepped into the Kansas City Chiefs starting QB role and doesn't look like he'll leave for a while.  The Chiefs are 3-0, and this week Mahomes II made a statement against the San Francisco 49ers.  A flawless performance of 24-38, with 3 TD, 314 yards and 0 INT.  In fact, no INT for the year with 13 TDs.  The Chiefs have already won two road games in the AFC and look like the potential class of the AFC.  Mahomes II was the 10th overall pick in 2017 while the front office game him a year to acclimate, it looks like it's paid off.  Is he the Chiefs QB to take them to their first Super Bowl since Super Bowl IV?  A proud franchise hopes so.  Mahomes II is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Monday, September 17, 2018

Sportsman of the Week Ending 9/16/2018

The unlikeliest of NFL heroes has emerged as a leader for a 2-0 team.  The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were expected to be a third tier team this year, and the prognosis only got worse when star Bucs QB Jameis Winston was suspended for the first three games.  Enter Ryan Fitzpatrick.  A.k.a. Fitzmagic.  The Harvard star has more resembled Johnny Unitas than fellow Harvard graduate John F. Kennedy in defeating the Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles.  Fitzpatrick only threw 6 incompletions in 33 attempts (that's 27/33) with 4 TD passes and an amazing 402 yards.  This followed a victory over the New Orleans Saints with 4 TD and 417 yards the week prior.  That's two of the six NFC playoff teams.  The 35-year-old Fitzpatrick's career has been given up for dead many, is now an MVP candidate at worst.  And is a deserving Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Monday, September 10, 2018

Sportswoman of the Week Ending 9/9/2018

Doing something in your sport that nobody else in your country has ever done.  Winning your first major / grand slam title.  And beating one of the, if not the greatest player to ever play your sports.  Check, check, check for our Sportswoman of the Week.  Naomi Osaka of Japan (actually from Osaka, Japan) defeated Serena Williams in straight sets to win the United States Open.  The 20 year old future star only gave up six games total (6-2, 6-4) to the American legend in the final, and throughout the two week tournament, only dropped a set.  It was amazingly only Osaka's second tour win as she rose to number 7 in the world.  Fans are already excited for a potential rematch in future major tournaments, but for now Osaka can enjoy being the Sportswoman of the Week!

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Sportsman of the Week Ending 9/2/2018

College Football is back!  And with all the excitement and pageantry that fans love.  One of the big marquee matchups of the first week featured Big 12 power West Virginia facing off against SEC traditional power (but not so much lately) Tennessee.  It was West Virginia and their Heisman hopeful Will Grier that dominated for a 40-14 trouncing.  Grier lit up the Vols defense for 429 yards on a 25/34 performance and an astounding 5 TD with no INT.  He found 11 different Mountaineers open in the Vols secondary and made quick work of the rebounding Tennessee program.  Note that the SEC claims the Big 12 can't play good defense.  Well when you have a QB as good as Grier, it's tough to stop him.  Will Grier is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Monday, August 27, 2018

Sportsman of the Week Ending 8/26/2018

Hitting home runs is hard so they say.  But our Sportsman of the Week seemed to have no problem doing just that this week.  Six games in a row.  Seven home runs total.  Toronto Blue Jays slugger Kendrys Morales went on a tear with at least one home run per game every game played this week.  The Jays went 5-1 against NL playoff contending Philadelphia Phillies along with the struggling Baltimore Orioles.  Overall, Morales went 11-23, 6 HR with 12 RBI.  The Jays are not in postseason contention, but they certainly have a franchise memory and the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Sportsman of the Week Ending 8/19/2018

Young players with unlimited potential are what sports fans dream about. And our Sportsman of the Week fits that bill.  The Atlanta Braves Ronald Acuna has come of age.  Fast.  On a Braves team that has lost 90 or more games the last 3 seasons looks like it is most likely to win 90 this year.  And the NL East.  Acuna wasn't on the Braves roster out of camp, but got here as fast as he could.  By April 25.  In 284 AB he's hit 19 HR for the season.  That's 73 games.  Less than half a season.  Easily 40 for a season.  And we haven't mentioned yet that he's only 20.  But this week, he hit .484 with 4 HR, 9 RBI, and even 3 SB this week (I mean he's young).  Going back to the week before, he homered in 5 straight games, and 7 out of 8.  The Braves are a surprise N.L. East leaders, with the Mets/Nationals fading away, look out for Acuna.  This Venezuelan could be Mr. October 21st Century.  But he's our Sportsman of the Week for sure!

Monday, August 13, 2018

Sportsman of the Week Ending 8/12/2018

Back to baseball, as the busy sports summer season hits it's peak with the pennant race.  And no team is in more control than the Boston Red Sox.  Led by an unlikely hero.  Unlikely because he was an unsigned free agent until late in the offseason.  February 26.  Now he's an odds on favorite for the American League Most Valuable Player.  J.D. Martinez has earned every dollar of his contract.  This week, Martinez batted .464 with 4 HR and 11 RBI in seven games.  Games in which the Red Sox went 6-1.  Piling on to their 4 game sweep of the rival Yankees last weekend, the Sox are 10-1, literally just one loss in August.  But back to Martinez, his season totals are staggering, batting .333 with 37 HR and 104 RBI.  The last Red Sox hitter to hit for the triple crown was Carl Yastrzemski, who finished at .326, 44, and 121.  J.D. is on pace to shatter those numbers, although the triple crown may remain elusive due to teammate Mookie Betts amazing batting average.  Either way, Martinez has been the offseason signing of the year, and is a worthy Sportsman of the Week!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Sportsman of the Week Ending 8/5/2018

Ninety nine races to find Victory Lane, but here's betting it won't be the last time.  NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series phenom (by blood and skill) Chase Elliott was constantly hounded by "when are you going to win a race).  And it was legit, since his debut in 2016, the 24 year old had 28 Top 5 finishes and over 1000 laps led.  But none of the Top 10 finishes were first.  And none of the 1000 laps led were the last lap.  But Elliott looked both aggressive but smart at Watkins Glen, NY, as he constantly pressured the leaders until finally, they were looking at his tailpipe.  Elliott finished the race holding off 2017 Cup Series Champion Martin Truex Jr. who was the only other competitor who could give him a run.  And he got the run, but ran out of gas, as Elliott accelerated through the finish line for his first victory. 

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Sportsman of the Week Ending 7/29/2018

The Tour de France wrapped up an exciting three weeks of grueling mountain top finishes and harrowing crashes.  And there was a new winner for the first time in 4 years.  Geraint Thomas from Wales beat his own teammate favorite and a stacked field of up and comers to win the 2018 Tour de France.  Thomas along-side Froome protected the presumed Team Sky leader but consistently shaved time off in chasing down the other contenders.  Then in the decisive stages of the Pyrenees, Thomas accelerated to attack and Froome was cracked.  Thomas becomes the third winner from Great Britain in the last 7 years along side Froome and Bradley Wiggins (who combined have won 6 of the last 7).  But Thomas defied the odds, kept the title with Team Sky, and is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Monday, July 23, 2018

Sportsman of the Week Ending 7/22/2018

First time major winners are what we love.  First time major winner from an entire country is even better.  Francesco Molinari fits the bill.  Having not won a PGA tour event since 2010 before a win just three weeks ago, the Italian may be the hottest golfer on the planet.  In The Open Championship (a.k.a. British Open), Molinari held off prior major winners such as Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, and yes, some veteran named Tiger Woods with whom he was paired on Sunday and at one point had a shot lead.  Steady was his hand, as he finished the last 37 holes at par or better.  Meanwhile, rivals succumbed to a missed shot here, sand trap shot there, three putt bogey.  Molinari just plowed clocked consistent shot after consistent shot and built a 2 shot lead in the clubhouse.  Rivals couldn't match.  Molinari seems to be getting better with age (now 35) and with this Claret Jug, has stamped his name in golf's elite forever.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Sportsman of the Week Ending 7/15/2018

To win one of the greatest championships in your sport is quite an accomplishment.  To do it after an injury from which few thought you would ever get back to the top?  Career defining.  Novak Djokovic is already a legend of modern tennis, with 13 majors titles, but it seemed as if father time was catching up to the Djoker.  After 5 major titles in 6 tournaments in 2015 and first half of 2016, he seemed to have lost it.  The second half of 2017 he sat out recovering from injury.  He started Wimbledon as the #12 seed, but ended up number one.  His toughest match was the semifinals against #2 seed Rafael Nadal for which he won a tiebreak, then the fifth set 10-8.  Other than that, he only dropped 3 sets, none in the final to Kevin Anderson.  As Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are toward the end of their careers (against which, he has a winning record against both), it looks like Djokovic isn't going anywhere.  And for the second time, he is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Sportsman of the Week Ending 7/8/2018

While this Blog recognizes a Sportsman of the Week, this is closer to recognizing a simple Sportsman of the Day.  Mark Reynolds of the Washington Nationals had an historic day on Saturday.  Ten RBI in a single day.  That's a decent month for many players, and a good week for the best players.  In his performance, he hit two home runs, a double, two singles, and did I mention the TEN RBI?  The day before he hit a pinch hit walk off home run.  The next day, a single and a double and a walk.  So it wasn't just one day.  But Mark Reynolds certainly raised eyebrows with his performance on Saturday and is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Monday, July 2, 2018

Sportsman of the Week Ending 7/1/2018

The FIFA World Cup continues with new stars (and new scapegoats) in every match.  In a thrilling knockout round opening day, one of the most anticipated round of 16 matchups was Argentina with the best player in the world Lionel Messi against France, featuring professional star Paul Pogba.  But it would be neither of these that would be the man of the match.  Kylian Mbappe of France announced his presence on the World Stage with two huge goals in the see-saw affair.  The 19-year old scored twice in the second half, the first to break a 2-2 tie at 64', then again just 4 minutes later in the 68' to push the Les Bleus up 4-2, a lead that secured the world quarterfinals.  Mbappe's first goal was a nifty move in traffic to create space and strike the ball just under the goalie.  The second was on a long attack in which he made no doubt of the goal from the right.  Mbappe looks all the part of international soccer legend, and is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Monday, June 25, 2018

Sportsman of the Week Ending 6/24/2018

World Cup 2018 is dominating the world sports stage and new stars are already emerging.  While some favorites have struggled out of the gate (Germany, Brazil), England has taken care of business behind their superstar and Golden Boot candidate striker Harry Kane.  In his first World Cup, the superstar is already doing things that Lion legends before him could not.  Like 5 goals in 2 games.  In the World Cup opener, Kane struck twice against Tunisia including a stoppage time game winner (2-1), then followed it up with a hat trick 3 goals against hapless Panama (6-1).  The 24 year old from the Walthamstow borough of London, England by way of professional club Tottenham Hotspur may be the answer to England's 52 year World Cup drought.  After a relatively meaningless game to wrap up pool play against Belgium this week (both teams are through to the knockout round), the competition will step up and we'll see if the young Brit can match.  But for this week, Kane is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Monday, June 18, 2018

Sportsman of the Week Ending 6/17/2018

Winning one is nice.  Defending a championship is golden.  Especially the United States Champion.  But Brooks Koepka held back a talented field over tough (some might say impossible) conditions to defend his 2017 United States Open Championship with a second title.  And he did it without much drama, needing only a bogie on 18 of Tommy Fleetwood who had been in the clubhouse for hours.  As the field faded on the back nine where birdies were scarce at Shinnecock Hills, Koepka remained poised, driving long, hitting greens, and saving putts and par.  And is now the 2018 United States Open Championship.  Still only 28 years old, he may have several more majors in his future.  But he is our Sportsman of the Week!

Monday, June 11, 2018

Sportswoman of the Week Ending 6/10/2018

An action packed week of sports saw two of the major four North American team sports settle their titles, along with a Triple Crown winner.  But we turn to tennis for this week.  Simona Halep captured the 2018 French open and became the first Romanian to win a tennis Grand Slam final since 1978 (and is our first Romanian Sportswoman of the Week).  Halep is the World's Number 1 player and after three prior Grand Slam finals defeats, finally broke through against American Sloane Stephens after going down a set.  The only other set she lost in the tournament was to former Sportswoman of the week Angelique Kerber while dominating other prominent and ranked ladies players like Garbine Muguruza and Elise Mertens.  Halep is the next big star in ladies tennis, and is the Longhorndave Sportswoman of the Week!

Monday, June 4, 2018

Sportsman of the Week Ending 6/3/2018

The Golden State Warriors appear poised for their third title in four years (would be four in four if not for blowing a 3-1 lead).  Warriors guard Stephen Curry appears better than ever.  In the biggest game of their season in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals, Curry slayed the top seeded Rockets in Houston with 27 points, including 7-15 from deep along with 9 boards, 10 assists, and 27 points.  The first two games of the NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers, he's thus far averaging 31 points on 14-29 shooting from 3, including a record 9 three pointers made in Game 2.  Curry continues to be the engine that can't be stopped (doesn't hurt to have Durant and the rest of the supporting cast, but he is a worthy Sportsman of the Week!

Monday, May 28, 2018

Sportsman of the Week Ending 5/27/2018

It's a tradition of this Blog to recognize a driver on Memorial Day Weekend, which is one of the top weekends in motor sports.  This year one of the greats just broke through on the biggest stage.  William Power has been one of the best drivers in Indy Car, but the Indianapolis 500 had always alluded him.  In what turned out to be the least predictable race, Power was able to outlast the few cars ahead of him that ran short on fuel, while keeping an aggressive fuel strategy himself to win the race without much challenge.  The Penske Racing Team driving Australian held off Ed Carpenter who finished second place but he was distant.  Like many athletes who achieve their pinnacle milestone later in their careers, the whispers of "greatest to never win the [big event]" are abated, and Power goes down in the annals of this Blog as Sportsman of the Week!

Monday, May 21, 2018

Sportsman of the Week Ending 5/20/2018

Not sure to call it a Miracle on "Dice" or a Cinderella story, but the Las Vegas Golden Knights have turned the National Hockey League upside down.  The expansion team (usually finish last, hope to be respectable) are now the Western Conference Champions and bidding for their first Stanley Cup Championship.  In their first year.  It's been 25 years since a team from Canada has won the Cup.  The Washington Capitals have been trying to win the Stanley Cup for over 40 years with no luck.  But the Golden Knights are four wins away.  After dropping the Western Conference Finals Game 1 to the home-standing Winnipeg Jets, the Golden Knights won four straight games behind net-minder  Marc-Andre Fleury.  Fleury stonewalled the Jets allowing only 6 goals in four games.  The three-time Pittsburgh Penguins Stanley Cup winning goalie stopped 129 out of 135 shots (96%) with just 1.5 goals per game.  The Knights are a complete team without a lot of scoring weapons, but with Fleury in goal, it may be their year.  He is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Monday, May 14, 2018

Sportsman of the Week Ending 5/13/2018

As the weather heats up, so is major league baseball.  And no pitcher was hotter for nine innings than the Seattle Mariners James Paxton who threw the 2018 baseball season's second no hitter in a 99 pitch gem to shut down the potent Toronto Blue Jays.  Toronto as in Canada, and Paxton is Canadian, born in British Columbia.  Paxton has always shown dominant stuff, but has seemingly had to navigate injuries and inconsistency which has kept him from being elite.  But no longer.  Paxton retired the last 16 hitters (17 outs including a double play) and it looked like the Jays could have played 18 innings without getting to him.  He joins the elite no hitter fraternity and only the second Canadian to do so.  He's the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Monday, May 7, 2018

Sportsman of the Week Ending 5/6/2018

The first weekend in May is one of the highlights of the American sports calendar.  The Kentucky Derby.  The iconic twin spires of Churchill Downs set against the blue sky and sun splashed hats in the grandstand.  Okay, it was really really rainy, but the race went off just the same.  And appropriate a veteran was able to pull off the victory.  Mike Smith rode favorite Justify to an easy victory to capture the rose garland.  Any time you navigate a 20 horse field the jockey had to have had a good day, and compound that with the fact that running in the back of the pack means mud splatter which could discourage a horse.  Not so with Justify.  "Money" Mike Smith finished with his white silks barely splattered and took a big first step for what could be a second horse racing triple crown in four years.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Sportsman of the Week Ending 4/29/2018

By pure volume of sporting events, late April and early May are one of the best times of the year with 3 or 4 NBA/NHL playoff games to go with a full slate of MLB action plus the usual other spring college sports.  This week we turn to the NHL playoffs where every series is a battle and it's a grind to rise to the top.  One of the best first round matchups were Original Six members Boston Bruins vs. Toronto Maple Leafs, and it was the Bruins who came out on top thanks to our Sportsman of the Week.  The Bruins LW Brad Marchand took control of Game 7 with a goal and assist (+2 +/-) to seal the Leafs fate and advance the Bruins.  He followed it up with a road performance of 1 goal and 3 assists (+4) to enable the Bruins to take a 1-0 series lead on the favored Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 1 of the second round.  Nobody getting by easy, and if the Bruins are to make a Stanley Cup run, it'll be Marchand in the middle of it, our Sportsman of the Week!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Sportsman of the Week Ending 4/22/2018

The weather is warming up, and so is the baseball action.  But no pitcher has been hotter in a game this season than Sean Manaea of the Oakland Athletics, who scored the first no-hitter of 2018.  The feat is more impressive in that it was against the team with the best record, and best offense in baseball, the Boston Red Sox.  Manaea got the 9 inning complete game with 2 walks and 10 strikeouts in an efficient 108 pitches.  He has long been considered a work in progress, in that his stuff was dominant, but seemed like he could not harness it.  Well through five starts this season, he leads the American League in innings pitched and has allowed only 22 baserunners in 36.2 innings.  And of the 5 runs he's allowed, 4 were solo home runs.  He's not giving up much, but on Saturday night, he gave up nothing hit wise.  And is a worthy Sportsman of the Week!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Sportswoman of the Week Ending 4/16/2018

The Boston Marathon is one of the most iconic American sports events as it occurs in one of the oldest cities and features elite athletes from around the world.  Moreover, unlike other marathons held on a weekend, it is held on the third Monday of April, which is Patriots Day.  Patriots Day commemorates the anniversary Revolutionary War battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775.  But this is not a history blog, it is a sports blog.  As the Boston Marathon got more elite, it became more and more rare that an American woman would win the race.  But this year produced the first American winner since 1985, as American Desi (Davila) Lindon broke the streak.  In downright miserable (and slow) conditions, the 2012 and 2016 Olympian Lindon crossed the line at 2 hours, 39 minutes, and 54 seconds.  Far from a record or even her best time in Boston, the 34 year-old Michigander will be an inspiration to young American runners for years to come, and is our Sportswoman of the Week!

Saturday, April 14, 2018

NASCAR Chat 4/14/2018

I'm honored to partner with the Ladies in Black Blog to collaborate on NASCAR Chat.  This week  LiB Lexie and I discuss last week's race in Texas including a win by Kyle Busch, one of her favorites as well as another penalty for Chase Elliott.  Next we discuss changes to the All Star Race in (Lexie's home town of) Charlotte in a month or so.  And finally, looking forward to Bristol on Sunday. 
Here is the full episode:



Prior Episodes
NASCAR Chat 04/06/2018
NASCAR Chat 03/24/2018
NASCAR Chat 03/10/2018
NASCAR Chat 03/03/2018

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Sportsman of the Week Ending 4/8/2018

Another Masters and another first time major winner.  And we can't get enough.  After what had seemingly set up as a match play final, the top of the leaderboard was crashed by a former champion and another major virgin and drama on the last three holes.  But it was Patrick Reed who leveraged his 3 stroke lead coming into Sunday into a 1 stroke victory.  And his first major.  The incredibly likeable pro was bidding to go four rounds under 70, but did just enough to hold off Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler to secure his place in history.  Simply hitting par on the last four holes with a fury of birdies by Spieth and Fowler was enough to win his first green jacket.  Finishing under par for all four rounds, and a total of -15 on a week which saw low scores, Patrick Reed secured his place in Augusta lore, and is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Monday, April 2, 2018

Sportswoman of the Week Ending 4/1/2018

If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best.  And that's just what the Notre Dame Women's basketball team did.  The Fighting Irish completed an improbably National Championship season by defeating the seemingly invincible Connecticut Huskies (36-0) and last year's runner up Mississippi State Bulldogs (37-1).  But it was the style in which our Sportswoman of the Week defeated them that will make her legend.  Arike Ogunbowale didn't shoot particularly well in either game, but was unstoppable at the end.  Ogunbowale first slayed the Huskies with a 19 foot jumper with just a second left to break a tie in overtime.  Then against the Bulldogs, she hit a fall away three pointer under guard as the buzzer sounded.  She averaged 22.5 points her game in willing her team to the title.  The Irish overcame injuries to four players throughout the season to complete the improbably run, and Arike Ogunbowale made it happen as our Sportswoman of the Week!

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Sportsman of the Week Ending 3/25/2018

March Madness reaches its crescendo with the Final Four in San Antonio, TX.  None of the National Quarterfinal match ups was more of a back and forth brawl than elite programs Kansas and Duke squaring off on Sunday.  And it went to overtime.  And that's when our Sportsman of the Week took over.  Kansas' Malik Newman scored 13 points in overtime.  That was all of Kansas points, and enough to win the game by 4 (would have been 7 if not for a meaningless 3 by Duke).  Newman finished the game with 32 points, including 5-12 from beyond the arc and 11-12 from the free throw line.  In the Sweet 16 match up against pesky Clemson, he also led his team in scoring with 17 points including 4-7 from 3-pointers.  He had 7 rebounds in each game as well.  Newman also played 83 out of 85 minutes over the weekend.  He willed Kansas to the Final Four, can our Sportsman of the Week will them to a championship?

Saturday, March 24, 2018

NASCAR Chat 3/24/2018

Check out our new feature in combination with the Ladies in Black Blog, called NASCAR Chat.  In this week's episode, LiB Lexie (who you have seen featured in my Blog for football picks) and I talk about Kevin Harvick's wreck in Fontana, California.  We also discuss how we would improve the tracks used during the playoffs as well as Lowe's no longer sponsoring Hendrick Motorsports #48 car currently driven by Jimmie Johnson.  Finally, we talk about new drivers Will Byron, Bubba Wallace, and Erik Jones.  Here is the full episode:



Prior Episodes
NASCAR Chat 03/10/2018
NASCAR Chat 03/03/2018

Monday, March 19, 2018

Sportsman of the Week Ending 3/18/2018

When the calendar says March, it's time for Madness.  Basketball madness.  In today's day and age, the favored teams seem to be loaded with one-and-done freshman and maybe a key sophomore.  But it's a senior who led his team this week to a Sweet 16 berth.  West Virginia's Jevon Carter provided that rare veteran leadership in positioning the Mountaineers for a Final Four run.  In two victories of over Murray State and rival Marshall, Carter posted 49 points, 11 steals, and 13 assists.  His total points are tops for teams still alive and the latter.  He only needed to play 29 minutes in the Marshall game because the team was coasting.  He was also 19-35 from the field, including 5-8 from beyond the arc.  Savage.  Carter is the kind of player that could turn greatness into legend the next two weeks, and he is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Monday, March 12, 2018

Sportsman of the Week Ending 3/11/2018

The NCAA Men's and Women's conference basketball tournaments officially kick off March Madness.  Win and you're in.  Lose and, in many cases, your season ends.  But everyone has a chance to win their tournament.  Through buzzer beaters and upsets, the Arizona Wildcats solidified their NCAA tournament position by winning their 7th conference tournament title (and third in four years).  Led by a freshman from the Bahamas.  Deandre Ayton is showing he's ready for the next level.  In Arizona's dismantling of UCLA and USC in the semifinals and finals, Ayton played 79 out of 85 possible minutes.  The 7'1" phenom tallied 64 points, at 75% from the field, 90% from the free throw line and hauled in 32 total rebounds.  During the regular season he averaged 20 points, 12 rebounds, and 2 blocks.  Look for Arizona to make a deep run, as Ayton is Olajuwon-esque unstoppable.  And our Sportsman of the Week!

Monday, March 5, 2018

Sportsman of the Week Ending 3/4/2018

It's time for Spring sports.  Football is over.  Olympics are over.  Baseball hasn't started.  Basketball isn't quite to March Madness.  And NBA and NHL are in the dog days before the summer playoffs.  So why not track?  World sprint championships are a big deal.  And we have one.  American Christian Coleman won the 60m World Championship in Birmingham, England..  Time is 6.37 this week as he reminded us when he had a 6.34 a month ago.  He's a full stride ahead of the field in an era where the Justin Gatlins and Usain Bolts are head out to pasture.  Remember the name.  He's only 21.  And fast.  At 5'9" and 160 pounds, he seems built for championships.  Like 2020 Tokyo.  Or 2024 Paris.  The sky is the limit, and Coleman is the next great American sprinter.  And our Sportsman of the Week!

Monday, February 26, 2018

Sportswomen of the Week Ending 2/25/2018

As the 2018 Winter Games wound down to a dramatic close, it was a dramatic finish in Cross-Country Skiing Team Sprint that did what they weren't supposed to do.  That was win a Gold Medal.  For Team USA.  In cross-country skiing.  The first for the women's national team.  And it was hard earned.  Kikkan Randall and Jessie Diggins outraced perennial powers Sweden (silver) and Norway (bronze) to take home the first medal for the United States.  Randall and Diggins are separated by almost ten years in age, with Randall representing the birth of a world class United States program and Diggins bursting on the scene in high school and continuing her success in the International Competitions.  They will be remembered as pioneers of their sport and American heroes.  Proud to name them our Sportswomen of the Week!

Monday, February 19, 2018

Sportsman of the Week Ending 2/18/2018

The Winter Olympics have not gone as strongly as the United States Olympic Committee would have liked (at least in terms of medal haul), but there certainly have been some strong points.  While four of the five American golds are in snowboarding related events, there is one silver in an event the United States has struggled to medal.  Luge.  Chris Mazdzer of the United States from Saranac Lake, NY, shocked the individual men's luge field with an impressive silver medal.  It was the first American medal in luge in 56 years.  Mazder set a course record on his third run, the held on to his second position in his final run to vault him into medal position in his third (and potentially final) Olympics.  Mazdzer showed the American Olympic spirit and is our Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Sportsman of the Week Ending 2/11/2018

The Winter Olympics kicked off over the weekend and there are already new world superstars.  Youth conquers all, at least in the Men's Slopestyle.  A newcomer to the Olympics (especially since he was only 13 the last time it was held) shocked the field to win the first American Gold Medal.  Redmond ("Red") Gerard nailed an 87.16 to vault from 10th place to the gold medal on his absolute last run.  After sub-50 scores on his first two runs, it was as if he just relaxed and resorted to the skills he honed on the slopes near Silverthorne, CO.  His final two jumps were a 1080-degree jump off the quarterpipe side of the kicker, then a backside triple-cork 1440.  Gold won.  Gerard beat veteran Canadian boarders Max Parrot and Mark McMorris by fewer than two points to bump them down to the silver and bronze respectively.  This is just the start of what should be a multi-Olympic career.  But Red Gerard is the Longhorndave Sportsman of the Week!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

2018 NASCAR preview: Meet the "Ladies in Black"


There is no weekend more exciting for NASCAR fans than the Daytona 500.  Imagine for baseball fans, Opening Day and the World Series rolled into one.  Or NFL Kickoff Weekend and the Super Bowl at the same time with all teams having a chance to win the trophy.  While not necessarily intuitive, it's makes some sense that NASCAR's biggest race is its seasons' opening weekend.  On one hand. all the cars are in their best shape in terms of wrecks and wear.  On the other hand, there is no chance for teams and drivers to get a feel for new teams, new race dynamics, and in some cases, new rules.  But it is what it is, and February 18 will kickoff the 2018 NASCAR season with "The Great American Race".  Another benefit, while much of the country is digging out from inches, if not feet of snow, Daytona, Florida, will have a high of 80 degrees and clear.  God Bless America.

Follow @ladiesinblack88 on Twitter on Sundays!
For 2018, I call upon two of the most passionate, knowledgeable fans I know of in the NASCAR Blog-o-verse.  The Ladies in Black.  Meet Lexie and Kelly, founders and racing experts at the Ladies in Black Blog, which puts out great racing recaps, breaks down upcoming races, and does some insightful interviews.  While "Bulldog Babe" (Lexie from Charlotte, North Carolina @bulldogbabexo) and "Kells" (Kelly from Pocono, Pennsylvania @kellssanne) disagree (frequently) on which driver/team they want to win, they agree that NASCAR provides the excitement and thrills that no other sport does.  Just follow their Twitter accounts on Sundays (when these hard working young ladies aren't working or going to school).

We asked these two experts their thoughts for the state of NASCAR and the 2018 season.  Here are their insights.

When was the first time you got “hooked” on NASCAR?

Lexie: When I was 6. My dad had a race on and I sat down to watch, instantly got hooked.

Kells: I started watching NASCAR in 2011. I grew up around family members who were into the sport, but I never got super into it when I was younger like most fans my age did. I sat down one day with my dad who was watching a race and I just remember instantly being hooked. After that I watched almost every race since that day. I just started following the sport and it turned into a big passion. I’ve also been to every race at Pocono since my first one in August 2013, and I don’t ever intend on missing one

[Editors Note]: There's something special about a father-daughter bonding over racing 

Both of you have been to race weekends before, what is your favorite part of seeing the events live and why?

Lexie: My favorite part is being able to walk around outside of the track and see all of the different things going on. I was able to get Denny Hamlin’s autograph a few years ago during the pre-race events!

Kells: It’s really hard to pick a favorite part, because the whole day is just a blast. I think for me going up to the track on Friday and Saturday and just being in the pits and meeting drivers is the coolest part. On Sundays it’s definitely just the morning before the race when you walk around and you see all the people in their NASCAR gear and you just get super excited because you realize you’re all here for the same reason: NASCAR.

Meet Lexie. Denny Hamlin Fan.
Stylin' at Charlotte Motor Speedway
[Editors Note]: Lexie is a big Denny Hamlin fan. I mean really big.  She probably cried when she got that autograph

There’s been a lot in the media about veteran drivers not happy with NASCAR promoting younger drivers with less history of success. Do you think NASCAR is right to promote younger drivers to the next generation of fans or do you think the older drivers should get more respect?

Lexie: My opinion on this is kinda neutral. I feel like the young driver promotion is necessary, but not to the point where they worship the ground they walk on.

Kells: I absolutely 100% think young drivers need to be promoted and for two good reasons. The first is that we want this sport to grow and succeed, which means bringing in more fans. This also means younger fans, considering they are the future. I think when you have younger drivers and you promote the heck out of them and their lives, it most definitely brings in more young fans. You’re targeting that younger demographic just by bringing in drivers who are relatable in age. They’re at similar points in their lives and those young fans can now maybe relate to their struggles and maybe even their achievements outside of the sport. The second reason this should be a big push for promotion is retirement of the veterans. Many drivers I grew up watching are already retired or nearing that age very soon. For example, I’m a Dale Earnhardt Jr. fan. I was also a little bit of a Matt Kenseth and Jeff Gordon fan. They’re no longer racing and for some people it’s like “What do I do now?”. I’ve even heard folks say “Well, once so-and-so retires I’m done watching NASCAR. I can’t find anyone else I like.” Advertising the crap out of a new, fresh face who is ready to take on the sport is perfect for older fans who are watching their driver near the end of their career. It’s a good fallback knowing that there is someone else out there when that time comes, because you don’t want to lose a fan when you lose a driver. That’s how you keep people in the sport. You need to promote drivers (of all ages really). That’s what hooks people and that’s how you expand on your demographic.

Did you like the Stage racing and what would you do to improve it?

Lexie: I love the stage racing! It makes everything a lot more entertaining and more on the edge of your seat. I honestly have no problem with the way it is now.

Kells: If you know me, you know I absolutely hated Stage Racing when it first became thing, before I even saw it in action. I believe I said, “this is really stupid.” I probably used some profanities in there too, cursing NASCAR for their dumb idea. Now, I’m a fan. I think it gives some races the entertainment that they lack and adds more strategy. However, just like with any new idea, I’m sure it could probably use some improvements. None that I personally could think of, but I’m sure others would love to give you hundreds of suggestions.

What driver that didn’t make the Chase last year do you think might break through?


Lexie: Erik Jones. I feel like with the transition from the 77 to the 20, he will be a lot stronger and more competitive. Furniture Row and Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) are alliances, but I think that with the full on JGR engine power, he will be a force to be reckoned with.  

Meet Kells. Cheering for Chase Elliott and
 you'll find her at Pocono on race weekend.
Kells: Probably Joey Logano. I can’t see him not succeeding this season.

What is your favorite track and why? 


Lexie: I have two favorites, Bristol and Charlotte. Bristol is a short track and it comes with a lot of action and it’s a fun track to navigate around. Charlotte is the heart and soul of NASCAR, so it makes the race day environment just that much better. 

Kells: I have two favorites: Bristol and Pocono. Bristol is that track I’ve never been too but it’s on the very top of my bucket list. It’s something I feel like I just need to see in person. Pocono is my favorite because it’s my home track and it will ALWAYS have a place in my heart. The most exciting events of the summer are usually race weekends up in the Poconos with all my friends.

[Editors Note]:  I guess we can agree Bristol is tops. The second choice seems to be related to the current residence of the Lady in Black.

NBC or Fox.  Who covers NASCAR better?


Lexie: I don’t like anyone on FOX, except for two people, Mike Joy and Jeff Gordon. So I prefer NBC over FOX. NBC also has cool pre race music, so that’s one of my favorite parts about the NBC broadcasts.

Kells: Oh god, I guess if I had to pick it would probably be NASCAR on Fox.

[Editors Note]:  And I thought the LiB only disagreed about drivers...

I can’t NOT ask you about the Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin tiff. Do you think it’s all over, or we’ll see them mix it up again this year?

Lexie: I think it’s over between Chase and DH, at least. Their fans?  Maybe not.

Kells: It’s funny that you’d ask us this question because Lex is the biggest DH fan and I’m the biggest Chase fan, so it really just makes me laugh. It’s really hard to say, but I mean I really just hope it’s done and over with. I just want to focus on the new season with our new car number, and hopefully bringing home that first W (for Chase).

[Editors Note]:  Oh believe me Kells, I knew exactly who I was asking this question.

And finally, give me your top 3 finishers for Daytona?

Lexie: 1. Kyle Busch 2. Martin Truex Jr 3. Denny Hamlin It’s time Kyle Rowdy Busch wins his first Daytona 500! #18in18

Kells: I’m going out on a crazy limb here and saying Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Martin Truex Jr., and Alex Bowman. Ha, wouldn’t that be cool.

[Editors Note]:  No Love for Danica???  So we can agree Truex Jr. in 2nd.  I'm going with Brad Keselowski, Truex Jr., then Kyle Busch

Big thanks to the two Ladies in Black.  I became hooked on their Twitter Feed and Blog last year.  If I'm in front of a TV on Sunday, you can bet I'm watching their analysis, reactions, and interacting as the race unfolds (they love to interact with fans).  Because NASCAR is America!

Where to find the Ladies in Black:
Blog: Ladies in Black
Twitter: @LadiesInBlack88
Lexie: @bulldogbabexo
Kelly: @kellssanne
Editors LiB Twitter List

Monday, February 5, 2018

Sportsman of the Week Ending 2/4/2018

It should be little surprise that the Sportsman of the Week comes from the best game of the week.  Maybe the best football game of the season.  Maybe the best Super Bowl of all time.  For a first time Super Bowl Championship team in the Philadelphia Eagles.  The story of Nick Foles is truly mythical.  Was briefly a star (and Sportsman of the Week in 2013).  Lost his touch, almost out of the game.  A bad break for a starting QB led for him to be pulled back in.  And he delivered.  It was as if he was playing with house money.  He never looked nervous in any of the three playoff games.  He just looked like a kid playing in the back yard.  While he delivered throw after throw to beat last year's NFC Champion, this year's second seed, then last year's Super Bowl Champion.  In the 41-33 defeat of the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII, Foles went an effective 28/43, for 373 yards and 3 TDs throwing and one spectacular TD reception on a 4th down play.  He did have one interception but it literally hit the receiver in the hands before being batted to a defender.  The 373 yards is the 5th most in Super Bowl history, only behind Tom Brady and Kurt Warner (two games each).  Even though he won the moniker two weeks ago, there is no denying Nick Foles his third Sportsman of the Week!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Super Bowl LII Preview

I have watched every Super Bowl since XIV
Once again, the Patriots late game magic reared its head in coming back from double digit on the young and inexperienced Jaguars.  Trust me when I say, it's painful to watch Brady do this time after time if you're not a fan of his.  But credit where credit is due.  He does what it takes to win.  The bigger surprise wasn't necessarily that the Eagles won, but they did so so easily.  Nick Foles looks all the part of an MVP type player and the team is balanced with a strong defense.

As we wind down our playoff blogs, J.R. Ewing and "Bulldog Babe" (@bulldogbabexo) have offered you a full range analysis of the NFL playoffs week by week.  Here each playoff game will have a short breakdown with thoughts on key factors then a final score predict.  The final score predict then gives you a Straight Up, Over/Under, and Against the Spread (ATS) pick to chew on for "recreation purposes only".  We'll be tracking our own progress.  Or if you're someone with disposable income, gamble away (but this blog is not responsible for losses).

Not a good week for either of our pickers last week.  Not horrible, but not good.

J.R. Ewing (1-1 ATS, 2-0 S/U, 0-2 O/U).  J.R. did well picking both winners and having the Eagles cover.  Otherwise had no clue.  Good numbers for the playoff run, though.  All of J.R.'s picks can be tracked at CappedIn.com
(Totals through three weeks: 5-4-1 ATS, 7-3 S/U, 6-4 O/U). 

Bulldog Babe (2-0 ATS, 1-1 S/U, 2-0 O/U).  BDB had a very solid week at the betting both, nailing both ATS and O/U.  Just missed the upset pick of Jacksonville, one could easily feel that she deserved that one as well.  She was quick to note that she had the exact score correct on Jacksonville, just the wrong team winning!
(Totals through two weeks: 5-4-1 ATS, 4-6 S/U, 4-6 O/U).
I owned last week's picks, you better listen up!

Lines and spreads are from VegasInsider.com.


February 4, 2018: 18:30 EST
New England Patriots  (-4.5, -200) vs. Philadelphia Eagles (+4.5, +170) O/U 48

New England Patriots (15-3)
Last eight games: 7-1
Against Playoff teams: 7-2

Philadelphia Eagles (15-3)
Last eight games: 6-2
Against Playoff teams: 4-1

J.R. Ewing prediction
Here's the kicker for this game.  Tom Brady isn't the best quarterback suiting up.  No, I'm not talking about overall or historically, I mean right now.  Nick Foles is as hot as a QB can be.  He's playing loose, not overthinking, and just winning, baby.  Meanwhile the Eagles defense is stout, having defeated the Falcons and Vikings the past two weeks.  I think they'll pressure Brady and make him uncomfortable.  I think Foles shreds the Patriots defense.  I'm going upset all the way.
Final Prediction: Eagles 31 Patriots 20

Bulldog Babe prediction:
Everybody may be riding the Pats train, but i’m not. I think the Eagles will be able to capitalize and beat New England. They have something to prove and I feel like they will do so on February 4th. They’re without a doubt the strongest team in the NFC and they deserve to be in the Super Bowl. It will be close, but I have Philly winning. 
Final Prediction: Eagles 34 Patriots 28

What a postseason it has been.  A personal thanks to Bulldog Babe for her contributions this year, this whole thing would be just me talking to myself without her.  Be sure to check out her contributions to the awesome NASCAR Blog Ladies in Black which will be ramping up as the Daytona 500 approaches!

Enjoy your Super Bowl Sunday, fans!

Monday, January 29, 2018

Sportswoman of the Week Ending 1/28/2018

Late January is when tour sports really heat up, and first time major / Grand Slam winners always catch this Blog's attention.  Especially when it's one of the greats of the game, and she has been waiting a while to ascend to the pinnacle.  Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark finally broke through to win the 2018 Australian Open, the first Grand Slam tournament title of her career.  And she did it by beating the top seed Simona Halep in three grueling sets that almost took three hours.  But three hours was worth it for Woz, a former World Number 1 with 27 tournament wins and hadn't won a title in her first two finals appearances.  The monkey is on her back no more, as she will forever be known as a major champion.  And I wouldn't be so fast to consider her a strong contender to win all four Slam tournaments this year.  But first things first, Wozniacki is the Australian Open Champion and the Longhorndave Sportswoman of the Week!

Friday, January 26, 2018

Sportsman of the Week Ending 1/21/2018

The NFL season continues to push towards its climax, and we are now set with the best two teams for Super Bowl LII.  While many, if not most, expected the New England Patriots to be in the game, few before the season, or after the injury to Carson Wentz, expected the Philadelphia Eagles to be there.  But here they are, and they made it look easy in the the NFC Championship Game, thanks to Wentz's replacement Nick Foles.  The sudden star in 2013 (for which he was honored as the SotW) turned journeyman who almost retired is as hot as a quarterback can get.  He shredded the Minnesota Vikings defense, completing 26 of 33 passes for almost an 80% clip.  The passes totaled a Brady-esque 352 yards and 3 TDs, with nary an interception.  His decision-making was strong as well, taking just one sack for six yards.  Foles isn't the first backup QB to lead his team to the Super Bowl, but he certainly looks the part of a starter and is a Sportsman of the Week!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

2017-18 NFL Championship Weekend Playoff Preview

A step back, but numbers don't lie. I'm doing pretty good.
After an amazing Divisional Playoff Weekend, it's hard to believe there are only three games left in the NFL season, and by default, the football season.  September is so far away.  But we will remember last weekend forever.  The amazing catch by Stefon Diggs.  The see saw affair between the Jaguars and Steelers.  The last minute gasp and odd fourth down playcall ending the Falcons NFC title defense.  And the Patriots continuing to do what the Patriots do.  Reach the AFC Championship game for the seventh straight season.  The best four teams are left, and we break down the games below.

J.R. Ewing and "Bulldog Babe" (@bulldogbabexo) will offer you a full range analysis of the NFL playoffs week by week.  Here each playoff game will have a short breakdown with thoughts on key factors then a final score predict.  The final score predict then gives you a Straight Up, Over/Under, and Against the Spread (ATS) pick to chew on for "recreation purposes only".  We'll be tracking our own progress.  Or if you're someone with disposable income, gamble away (but this blog is not responsible for losses).

My Steelers are out, but I still got some life in my picks!
Not a good week for either of our pickers last week.  Not horrible, but not good.

J.R. Ewing (0-3-1 ATS, 2-2 S/U, 4-0 O/U).  Not a good week ATS.  Had the Falcons, they lost.  Thought the Titans would keep close, they didn't. Thought the Steelers would roll, nope.  Vikings won by the spread (we won't enter the PAT debate).  At least had the Patriots/Vikings winning and wow, did get a lot of the over/under (the overs were a strong play).  All of J.R.'s picks can be tracked at CappedIn.com
(Totals through two weeks: 4-3-1 ATS, 5-3 S/U, 6-2 O/U). 

Bulldog Babe (1-2-1 ATS, 2-2 S/U, 2-2 O/U).  BDB didn't do bad at all against the spread, hitting with Falcons and Bills covers.  Straight up though, only got the Saints winning (although she will tell you that was her most important game from a rooting interest standpoint).  And we won't talk about the over/under.
(Totals through two weeks: 3-4-1 ATS, 3-5 S/U, 2-6 O/U).

Lines and spreads are from VegasInsider.com.

January 21 2018: 15:05 EST
Jacksonville Jaguars (+9, +350) New England Patriots (-9, -450) O/U 46.5

Jacksonville Jaguars (12-6)
Last eight games: 5-3
Road: 5-4
Against Playoff teams: 3-3 (2-1 on road)

New England Patriots (14-3)
Last thirteen games: 12-1
Home: 7-2
Against Playoff teams: 6-2 (2-2 at home)

J.R. Ewing prediction
The Patriots have been here before, like the last six years before.  It's Foxborough, it's January, it's Tom Brady.  I just don't see them losing this game to the upstart Jaguars and Blake Bortles.  The Jaguars defense is being touted but they did give up 42 points to Pittsburgh.  The machine wins.  The house wins.  It's just the way it works.  Patriots big.
Final Prediction: Patriots 31, Jaguars 21

Bulldog Babe prediction:
Jacksonville had the best upset of the weekend when they came into Pittsburgh and completely dominated. I feel like they had a lot of confidence and they wanted that win and they got it! It was very impressive and as a Steelers fan, I gained a lot of respect for the Jags. They wanted it more than Pittsburgh did. Now they're headed into a tough environment in Foxborough to face the Patriots this weekend and if they come into that game with the same confidence as they did with the Steelers, they can win and I firmly believe they will win. They have a complete team and they are hungry! I have the Jags winning this one.
Final Prediction: Jaguars 24, Patriots 20

January 13, 2018: 18:40 EST
Minnesota Vikings (-3, -170)  at Philadelphia Eagles (+3, +150) O/U 38.5

Minnesota Vikings (14-3)
Last thirteen games: 12-1
Road: 6-2
Against Playoff teams: 4-2 (1-2 on road)

Philadelphia Eagles (14-3)
Last six games: 4-2
Home: 8-1
Against Playoff teams: 3-1 (1-0 at home)

J.R. Ewing prediction
I doubted the Eagles last week.  That won't happen again.  I felt like the Falcons were the best offense in the NFC and the Eagles defense tamed them.  The same will happen with the less experienced and frankly less talented Vikings and Case Keenum (which for all intents and purposes should have lost last week).  The Vikings defense is good too, so I see a very low scoring affair.  But the Eagles prevail.
Final Prediction: Eagles 24, Vikings 13

Bulldog Babe prediction:
This is the most deserving NFC matchup. Both of these teams have had an amazing season and they should be very proud. With that being said, only one team can win and I feel like neither team will back down without a fight. Both teams are coming off of close and crazy wins and it makes this weekend's matchup just that much better. I just feel like the Eagles are the stronger team. Yes, Carson Wentz is out with an injury but that's not stopping the Philly offense at all and that will go into this weekend. It will be close for sure, but I have the Eagles winning this. 
Final Prediction: Eagles 34, Vikings 31

J.R. and Bulldog Babe have spoken.  What do you think?  Either comment on our tweet or this post and we'll respond!  Meanwhile, enjoy Championship Sunday!