TOM BRADY TOPS PEYTON MANNING ON THIS LIST
49ERS OVER CAROLINA IS “BEST BET”
MONDAY COULD BE ANOTHER BIG NIGHT FOR ABBY
The eight remaining teams in the NFL playoffs all have quality quarterbacks. Of course, that is no coincidence.
Here are my QB rankings entering this weekend’s divisional playoffs – from “worst” (and he’s very good) to best (be prepared to disagree):
8th – Cam Newton (Carolina). He’s getting better all the time. Inexperience in big games is the biggest negative. Being last on this list is no disgrace.
7th -- Russell Wilson (Seattle). There’s nothing wrong with him, but he has been sharper. He doesn’t have a great bunch of receivers to throw to, but the return of Percy Harvin should help.
6th – Colin Kaepernick (San Francisco). He finally has a healthy group of front-line receivers. The more he runs, the more dangerous he is.
5th – Philip Rivers (San Diego). He isn’t my favorite QB, but he has been very good this season.
4th – Andrew Luck (Indianapolis). In a year or two, he’ll probably be the league’s best QB.
3rd – Drew Brees (New Orleans). Much better at home than on the road. The Saints will play in Seattle on Saturday.
2nd – Peyton Manning (Denver). Awesome numbers this season but has to be feeling some pressure because of his post-season 9-11 record.
1st – Tom Brady (New England). His numbers were down this season, mainly because of injuries and relatively inexperienced receivers. Imagine how much better his performance line would look if he had Manning’s weapons. Brady usually is at his best in the postseason.
49ERS OVER CAROLINA IS THE “BEST BET”
The San Francisco 49ers are on a roll and healthier than they’ve been all season. They have the offensive potential to win shootouts and the defense to outslug any opponent in a slow-scoring duel. I believe Kaepernick is more likely to dominate Sunday’s game than Newton. The 49ers are this weekend’s “Best Bet”: San Francisco 28, CAROLINA (+1) 17.
(home team in CAPS)
SEATTLE (-7 1/2) 30, New Orleans 27 – The Seahawks crushed the visiting Saints 34-7 on Monday Night Football Dec. 2. The rematch should be much more competitive and spotting Brees more than a touchdown seems overly generous.
NEW ENGLAND (-7) 24, Indianapolis 20 – Brady figures to lead the Patriots to victory but Luck and company should hang tough all the way.
Sunday’s other game
DENVER (-9 1/2) 37, San Diego 24 – The Chargers are playing well and won’t be intimidated but Manning will have all weapons available and the Broncos figure to pull away in the second half.
ABBY WAMBACH A “WORLD’S BEST” FINALIST AGAIN
FIFA’s annual Ballon D’Or awards gala will be Monday night in Zurich, Switzerland. The Male Player of the Year is particularly interesting this year. The three finalists are Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal), Lionel Messi (Argentina) and Franck Ribery (France).
Abby Wambach has a chance to repeat as Female Player of the Year. The two other finalists are Nadine Angerer (goalie from Germany) and five-time winner Marta (forward from Brazil).
Abby’s injury-time goal to tie Brazil and set up a victory on penalty kicks in the 2011 FIFA World Cup semifinals recently was voted by fans as the All-Time Best Moment in U.S. Soccer History.
The 16 writers who left Greg Maddux off their baseball Hall of Fame ballots should be required to explain why. He probably was one of the top five pitchers in history and put up amazing numbers in the Steroid Era. It was his first year of eligibility for Cooperstown but that was a lousy excuse not to vote for him.
The Buffalo Bill finished 25th in ESPN.com’s regular-season NFL power rankings: “If EJ Manuel can stay healthy, the Bills could compete next season. The defense finished in the top five in sacks, interceptions, opponent completion percentage and opponent Total QBR.
It is not difficult to envision Randy Cunneyworth in a second stint as coach of his adopted hometown Rochester Americans... Don’t know when, but completely logical.
nba.draft.net’s updated 2014 Mock Lottery is not a happy read for Syracuse U. fans: Tyler Ennis No. 10 to the Los Angeles Lakers and Jerami Grant No. 11 to the Memphis Grizzlies. I think they both need at least one more year at SU. Don’t you?
The good news is that Andre Reed is among the 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame again. The bad news is that 2 of the other 14 finalists also are wide receivers – Tim Brown and Marvin Harrison. Will they split support again? Hope not, but why not? Maybe the voters will get together and compromise and agree to finally select Reed and pass on Brown and Harrison for future elections.
The Rochester Knighthawks remain No. 1 in Brian Shanahan’s National Lacrosse League weekly Power Rankings: 1-Rochester, 2-Edmonton, 3-Minnesota,l 4-Toronto, 5-Vancouver, 6-Calgary, 7-Philadelphia, 8-Colorado, 9-Buffalo.