Super Bowl XLIX: Keys To The Game And Prediction

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Sean Pendergast
Tom Brady zombie-walking thru media week
For the eight or nine days after the AFC Title Game, the prevailing story that none of us could escape was "Deflate-Gate." Hours upon hours of coverage of the pressure of footballs, the effects of deflation, and Bill Belichick's cheating history. Honestly, the only good thing about Deflate-Gate was the green light to use the word "balls" on the radio in every sophomoric way possible.

Finally, that topic died around Tuesday of this week, and was replaced by Marshawn Lynch press conferences and endless hand wringing by certain media members that Lynch was clowning the interview process with repetitive one sentence answers (HOW DARE HE!!). There was really nothing great that came out of that.

So needless to say, I'm ready for the game to get here.

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Aaron Hernandez Trial Begins With Video of Hernandez Holding Possible Murder Weapon

TMZ Sports
We are a couple days away from Super Bowl XLIX, a game that will be the sixth Super Bowl the New England Patriots have participated in during the Bill Belichick Era.

The last time they were in this game, closing out the 2011 season, they were there on the strength of a unique two tight end set with the freak of nature Rob Gronkowski at one tight end spot and the ultra-athletic Aaron Hernandez at the other tight end spot.

Things have certainly changed since then.Three years later, Gronk is still here, a unanimous All Pro pick at the position and on a Hall of Fame trajectory. Hernandez, he's kind of tied up with other things. His murder trial (the first of multiple murders he will be standing trial for) in the Odin Lloyd homicide began yesterday.

Indeed, it's a long way from Super Bowl XLVI.

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Super Bowl XLIX: Five Prop Bets to Invest In

We are about 48 hours away from kickoff of Super Bowl XLIX. Kickoff of the Super Bowl is always one of the most exciting times to be an American. It's football, OUR sport, played at the highest level.

But perhaps you don't have a dog in the fight this Sunday. You're not a fan of the Seahawks, maybe because Richard Sherman talks too much or because Marshawn Lynch doesn't talk enough. And you're not a fan of the Patriots because they're a bunch of spying, ball deflating, cheating bastards! (Your words, not mine.)

So how do you maintain a suitable interest level and drive your blood pressure high enough to be dangerous? Well, PROP BETS, of course!

So let's give you a few juicy investment opportunities! Here are a few that I will be scouting heavily for Sunday.

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James Harden's MVP Cred Is Legit, Sustainable

Categories: Basketball, Sports

Photo by Groovehouse
Harden might be the MVP this season, but is it something he can sustain?
In watching the Golden State Warriors dismantle the Rockets twice in a week last week, it was difficult to make a case for James Harden as the presumptive league MVP if for no other reason than both Steph Curry and Klay Thompson seem to have good reason to consider themselves favorites despite being on the same team. Still, Harden's MVP credibility is real.

Prior to his team's loss in Houston Wednesday, former Rocket turned traitor Maverick Chandler Parsons said his former teammate is the league's best. "For sure. He's the best player in basketball right now," he said of Harden. "The things he's doing are incredible. The scouting report is focused in on stopping him and you see he's still getting 30 a game. It's impressive."

But there is more to Harden's rising star even if you set his league-leading scoring average to the side. His defense has radically improved, no doubt owed to a much more vigorous commitment to that end of the floor, and he is shouldering the load of not just scoring, but facilitating shots for his teammates, something he is doing in bunches given that he is one of only two non-point guards among the league's top 20 in assists (Lebron James is the other).

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Cougars' Bad Offense Not Quite As Bad As Rice's Bad Offense

Brian Reading via Wikimedia Commons
Hofheinz Pavilion, where the game of basketball went to die Wednesday night
The Houston Cougars and Rice Owls are bad basketball teams. Both teams struggle to score. Both teams have difficulties shooting the ball. They're turnover prone. It can be difficult watching them play games, and when it's like it was Wednesday night, when the two faced off at Hofheinz Pavilion, it can feel like the game of basketball has been set back 50 years.

The Cougars (8-12) got the 59-48 win over the Owls (6-13) to snap an eight game losing streak. But it was an ugly game, one with a 22-20 halftime score that saw both teams shoot 37-percent from the floor for the half, brick shot after shot, and throw away pass after pass. The Cougars were the least worst team of the night, but watching the game, it was easy to see how the Cougars had lost eight straight conference games. And if not for the unexpected strong play of the UH bench which outscored the Rice bench 17-2, UH would probably have faced a ninth straight loss.

Both coaches were brutally honest after the game. Words like "ugly," "disappointing," "passive," "challenged," and "unacceptable" were freely expressed by both coaches. UH coach Kelvin Sampson liked his team's effort. Rice's coach Mike Rhoades didn't like his team's effort and thought his guys were awful. Sampson didn't think his guys were awful, he just thinks they're challenged.

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Wade Phillips Hired by Gary Kubiak As the Defensive Coordinator in Denver

Photo by Marco Torres
Wade Phillips
So the construction (or reconstruction, as it were) of Gary Kubiak's coaching staff in Denver is now complete.

On the heels of announcing earlier in the week that Reggie Herring, who coached linebackers for Kubiak in Houston, would be taking on that exact same role with the Broncos, the announcement was made yesterday that Wade Phillips, after a year out of football, would be returning to the game as Kubiak's defensive coordinator, a position he also held in Houston for three seasons.

In fact, for a majority of the positions that really matter on Kubiak's coaching staff, the Mad Libs phrase "he also coached _______ for Kubiak in Houston" applies. Just fill in the blank with any football coaching function, and in all likelihood, this would be a true statement for the applicable Broncos' staff member.

So I ask you, Bronco fans, how does that make you feel? After peeling away all of the warm, fuzzy feelings of your son returning home, how do you truly feel?

I ask this because your team's management has basically reassembled the same staff that secured the number one overall pick in the 2014 draft by going 2-14 in 2013.

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Super Bowl XLIX Notebook: Marshawn Lynch Snubs The Media Again

Liz Matthews via YouTube
Marshawn Lynch continues to dare the NFL to empty his bank account.
So yesterday was Wednesday at the Super Bowl, one day closer to the game, one more series of checklist items knocked off.

On Radio Row, traffic began to pick up with current and former players coming to town to shill everything from jock itch cream to six inch subs provide thoughtful, energetic interviews like half the time. For the two teams, after Media Day on Tuesday, it was time for individual press sessions on Wednesday (more on this in a second).

And guess what? For the first time in like ten days, there was nothing new on the Deflate-Gate front! No science experiments, no demands for apologies, no crying Baltimore Ravens. NOTHING!! It was kind of nice.

So let's get you up to speed on what, aside from Deflate-Gate, has been a fairly drama free week of Super Bowl ramp-up hype.

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Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao Meet for the First Time

We interrupt coverage from Super Bowl XLIX to give you a story on, of all things, boxing? Yes, boxing.

With its lunch getting eaten by MMA and WWE (and, to a large extent, cannibalization of itself with it's murky structure and shady perception), boxing doesn't have a whole lot left to offer the pay per view buying community. Despite perhaps having missed the window where aesthetically the fight itself would be a classic, "Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao" still has enough cachet to be a winner at the box office and on pay per view.

Amazingly, and I'll admit I had no idea this was the case, the two have never met in person before. Until last night. It happened! And it happened at, of all places, at an NBA game.

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Super Bowl XLIX: Media Day Recap

Sean Pendergast
Tom Brady. So hot right now.
If you're a sports media junkie, a diehard listener to sports talk radio or a rabid viewer of sports on television, Radio Row at the Super Bowl is like your Disney World. That's how I felt the first time I traveled to the Super Bowl to cover the week leading up the big game.

Wow, over there, it's Mike Francesa doing his show for WFAN in New York! (NOTE: I grew up listening to Francesa.)

Hey, there's Jim Rome doing his show on the CBS set! (NOTE: I was once a critically acclaimed caller to Rome's show.)

You can fill in any number of a few more dozen TV and radio personalities, and for me, a life long fan of the genre, the Disney World analogy holds up. This is my amusement park, these are my characters. But if Radio Row is media's Disney World, then Media Day is like the cantina scene in Star Wars (or Wal-Mart after midnight).

Freaks, goofs, and media posers galore. Tuesday was Media Day for Super Bowl XLIX. Here are a few of the highlights....

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Jockey Faces Criminal Charges for Shocking Horse at Sam Houston Race Park

Categories: Sports, Texas

Via the Paulick Report

A jockey is now facing criminal charges for allegedly fixing a race at Sam Houston Race Park.

When Quiet Acceleration galloped to victory with jockey Roman Chapa aboard in the $50,000 Richard King Stakes at Sam Houston Race Park on January 17, the photos showed a small man riding a thoroughbred horse to victory. Of course, it turns out that the pictures taken in that moment also showed something more sinister. Chapa, 43, was caught allegedly gripping a small nude-colored object in his left palm along with the reins.

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