Congrats to all the hockey fans out there, the NHL and NHLPA reached a tentative agreement on Sunday and it appears there will be NHL hockey this year after all.
“For the first year, the salary cap is $60 million, but teams can spend up to $70.2 million in the transition period, while the floor is $44 million…Revenue sharing will spread $200 million, with a $60 million NHLPA-initiated growth fund included.”
I like the idea of a spending floor, it is a privilege to own a major sports team and nothing is more frustrating that having a perpetually losing team due to cheap management. Money cannot buy a championship, but not spending money can ensure your team is not even in the running.
I assume revenue sharing will work similarly to MLB, where teams over the salary cap have to pay into a luxury tax. I do not know how the NHLPA growth fund will operate; maybe it will go to developing players at a younger age in low income areas in hopes of expanding hockey’s popularity and increasing the skills level of players in the long run. It is an interesting provision I will be sure to look into. If anyone has any idea how these two provisions will operate, please enlighten us in the comment section.
“It is believed the sides are aiming for either a 48- or 50-game season depending on how quickly things get done. Sources told ESPN.com that a 50-game season would start Jan. 15, while a 48-game season would start Jan. 19.”
It’s not the usual 82 game season, but considering fans believed there would be no NHL this year, I think everyone involved is happy with the outcome.
Now back to what really matters, NFL playoff football.
I got 3 out of 4 games right for Wildcard Weekend, and I even put a disclaimer stating that I probably just wanted the Colts to win because I wanted to see Luck vs. Peyton Manning next weekend. Ironically, early in the year the Ravens were a Super Bowl pick of mine; injuries and inconsistent play made me reconsider that thought over the course of the season, but it seems the Ravens are indeed for real.
Still, 3 out of 4 aint bad, and is certainly good enough for me to continue with my predictions. So without further ado, I give you my picks for the Divisional round of the NFL playoffs:
Ravens v Broncos: Well, well, well. It is difficult for me to pick against the Ravens again, after handling the Colts yesterday. However, the Broncos are not the Colts, the Broncos have Peyton Manning (imagine how weird this would sound to someone living under a rock for the last year). Peyton is my pick for comeback player of the year (if not MVP), and I believe he will carry this Broncos team deep into the playoffs. I have the Broncos here in a close one.
Predicted Winner: Broncos
Patriots v Texans: Last week, I picked the Texans over the Bengals because the Texans were the more complete team, both on offense and defense. The Bengals boasted a high powered passing game and not much else. If you take away the pick-6 for the Bengals, they did absolutely nothing against the Texans. I still believe the Texans are the better overall team this week, but the Patriots offense will not be shut down like the Bengals. Without the New York Football Giants to stop them, the Patriots have to believe they have a clear path to the Lombardi trophy. Other teams will have something to say about this, but I believe we will have a Brady v Manning AFC championship game in two weeks.
Predicted Winner: Patriots
Packers v 49ers: The 49ers have the best defense I have seen in a long time. Patrick Willis is poised to take over Ray Lewis’s role as the best Linebacker in the league for some the foreseeable future once Lewis retires. Colin Kaepernick has been impressive, his strong arm and mobility give opposing defenses fits. However, I am going with experience in this one. I think Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the cheese-heads have momentum from a big win on Saturday and the talent to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender. It won’t be easy, but the Pack will crack the 49ers D and move on to the next round.
Predicted Winner: Packers
Falcons v Seahawks: Oh boy, the high octane Dirty Birds of Atlanta will take on the shutdown defense of the Seahawks. Seattle was impressive in a big win over RGIII and the premier rushing attack of the Redskins. After giving up 14 points in the first quarter, the shut-out the Redskins for the remainder of the game, giving Russel Wilson, Marshawn Lynch and co. a chance to comeback. The key match-up in this one is how Seattle’s big corners fair against the elite WRs of Atlanta. Also, the Seahawks will have to get pressure on Matt Ryan or else they have no chance. This is the toughest game for me to call (except maybe for Ravens-Broncos, which on paper actually has a lot of similarities to this game). I am going with Atlanta in the Georgia Dome; Seattle will miss it’s 12th man in this one.
In an interesting side note, rookie QB Russel Wilson has more playoff wins (1) than Pro-Bowler Matt Ryan (0). That will, however, change after this weekend.
Predicted Winner: Falcons
There you have it, another week of predictions. Just like last week, we will have to wait and see what happens on the field this upcoming weekend.