My dream to be a sports writer and analyst was my drive behind majoring in Journalism and Mass Communications at North Carolina A&T. Heavie’s Sports Corner will be a weekly feature to my blog as I continue my journey to becoming a sports writer.
This past weekend was all about the NFL.
The Divisional Round of the playoffs started on Saturday with matchups between the Packers-Rams. Ravens-Bills.
Packers vs. Rams
Green Bay defeated the Los Angeles Rams 32-18. Green Bay’s explosive offense was on display, specifically the run game leading to the Packer’s victory, defeating one of the top defensive teams in the league. Aaron Jones ran for 99 yards, scoring 1 touchdown. The defense has always been a weak point for Green Bay but they stepped up to secure the game with 4 sacks and key stops on 3rd down. Aaron Rodgers threw for 296 yards and 2 touchdowns. This is Aaron Rodgers’s 5th NFC championship but this will be the first that he’s able to host one at home. Having home-field advantage comes in handy.
After beating the Rams, many are favoring the Packers to win the Super Bowl if they can win the NFC Championship game against the Bucs. Brady vs. Rodger should be a good one.
Ravens vs. Bills
Both teams struggled at the beginning of the game offensively, due to the windy conditions, with Baltimore and Kansas City kickers missing at least 2 field goals. Train Johnson scored a 101 YD touchdown after picking off Lamar Jackson in the red zone, to put the Bills up 17-3. After leaving the game in the late third quarter, Jackson went into concussion protocol. He did not return to the game. The Bills held off the Ravens 17-3 to earn their ticket to the AFC championship.
On Sunday, Divisional Matchups continued between the Chiefs-Browns and Saints-Bucs.
Despite the Browns being down most of the game, they still made it a close one. The Chiefs played most of the game with QB issues, but the defense still held and backup QB Chad Henne made key plays when he needed to. Early into the game, Pat Mahomes was seen going in and out of a medical tent with a toe injury, he returned but later went into the lockdown for concussion protocol in the third quarter and did not return. The Chiefs became the first AFC team to host the AFC championship three straight years with their 22-17 win over the Browns.After the games, Mahomes took to social media to let fans know he’s okay.
The Chiefs will play Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Championship. It is unclear whether Mahomes will play in the AFC Championship.
Bucs vs. Saints
The matchup I’ve been waiting for finally happened, Brady vs. Brees. Brady vs. Brees have matched up throughout the years, even during the regular season but this one was historic.This was the oldest quarterback matchup in NFL history.
Throughout the years I’ve learned my lesson on betting against Brady so I had the Bucs coming into the game. Like always, Tom Brady took care of business leading the Bucs to victory 30-20. Drew Brees seemed to struggle for most of the game throwing 3 INT’s and only 1 TD. There’s been speculation that this was Brees’ last game. This was a tough season for Brees who was placed on the injured reversed and missed several games after fracturing at least 12 ribs and puncturing a lung in Week 9 and 10. If this is the end to Brees’ career this is disappointing to me, after the Saints have been mistakes away from reaching the Super Bowl in recent years.
Trouble in Houston for Deshaun Watson
Less than a year after signing a four-year contract extension worth $160 million making him the second-highest player in NFL history, rumors are swirling that Deshaun Watson is unhappy in Houston. The former Clemson QB has yet to formally request a trade but for weeks there’s been speculation after cryptic social media posts and rumors of management issues.
On Sunday Adam Schefter tweeted:
This comes after the Texans reportedly failed to consider Watson’s input for Head Coach and GM. Houston recently fired head coach and GM Bill O’Brien.
Watson’s 2020 four-year contract extension keeps him in Houston until 2025 with $111 million guaranteed unless he requests a trade but who knows what would happen with that. Many have been drawing comparisons between Watson’s situation and NBA star James Harden before his trade. In the case of James Harden, we saw him use his power to request a trade and eventually land where he wanted to be. The NBA is completely different from the NFL though. The players don’t have that same power in the NFL. The owners have the control.So the question is, will Watson be traded? Or will the Texans rectify the situation?
The New Brooklyn Nets
The new Brooklyn Nets competed together for the first time on Saturday. This was KD’s and James Harden’s first time stepping on the court as members of the same team since Oklahoma City Thunder days. Kevin Durant and James Harden combined for 72 points. Kevin Durant was hot from the 3 shooting 5 of 8, dropping 42 points. James Harden dropped his first triple-double with the Nets scoring 32 points, 11 rebounds, and 14 assists. After Harden’s debut, he went on Instagram to hyped up saying:
Great team win @BrooklynNets. we didn’t even have 11 @kyrieirving tonight. Scary hours wow!
Many have been comparing the Nets to Big 3’s we’ve seen throughout the years in the NBA. The 2008 Boston Big 3 with Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen. The 2009 Miami Heat play big 3 with Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, and LeBron James. The 2016 Golden State Warriors Big 3 Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Kevin Durant. We saw the success those teams had once each player figured out their role.
How will the Nets big 3 workout?
Bulls Zach Lavine
Since I’m from Chicago it would be wrong if I didn’t mention Bulls PG Zach Lavine has been balling. Growing up watching the Bulls is when I first discovered my love for sports. Back then I would watch Bulls games with Rose, Deng, Noah, Gibson, and even Carlos Boozer back then.I was at the Bulls vs. Cavs game in 2015 when Derrick Rose hit the buzzer beat in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.During those years that bulls team looked so promising. I was sure we would make it to the finals or even win an NBA championship, but it seems like every time my Bulls would lose to Lebron and the Cavaliers.
I’ll be honest I haven’t been much of a Bulls fan since Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson and the rest of the squad joined other teams. The Bulls never seemed to recover, partially due to poor head coaching and management issues, but Zach Lavine has given me a reason to watch again. This season he’s averaging 26.9 points, 4 rebounds, and 5 assists, plus he’s 37.9% from the 3 point line. You may remember him from back to back wins at NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Contests.
The then Timberwolves player, Zach Lavine won the 2016 Slam Dunk Contest against Magic forward Aaron Gordon. In 2017, the Bulls received Zach Lavine, Kris Dunn, and Lauri Markkanen in exchange for Jimmy Butler and the 16th overall pick in a massive trade with the Timberwolves that sent the Bulls to a rebuilding stage.Zach Lavine, Lauri Markkanen, and Colby White have been running the show since with new head coach Billy Donovan.
I forgot to mention this in last week’s post but Tennis player Naomi Osaka is making moves off the court. Louis Vuitton recently announced the rising tennis player is one of their newest global brand ambassadors. If you can recall, Osaka beat tennis legend Serena Williams in 2018 to become the first Japanese player to win a Grand Slam title. She is also the first Asian to be ranked #1 in the world. Osaka was a big activist for social movements last year. During many of her matches at the U.S open in September, she wore masks with names of Black Americans affected by police brutality.