Next Man Up

Next Man Up

Eric Joiner, Nathan Baugh
Daily Newsletters

Happy Friday! Make sure not to miss a Sprint by adding us to your contacts list. Unsure how to do that? Check out this handy guide.

Sunday is National Beer Can Appreciation Day (look it up, it's true). This weekend is packed with sports. Coincidence? Probably not.

In today's Sprint:

  • 🏈   Bills Mafia
  • 🥊   Conor's return
  • 🏀   50-point game

TRIVIA

Of the remaining quarterbacks in the NFL playoffs, who boasted the highest completion percentage this season?

  1. Patrick Mahomes
  2. Aaron Rodgers
  3. Tom Brady
  4. Josh Allen

NFL

One Step Away

For the first time in years, the consensus best four teams in football will play in the Conference Championship games. Let’s dive in:

AFC

No. 1 Kansas City Chiefs (15-2) vs. No. 2 Buffalo Bills (15-3)

  • Sunday, Jan. 24, 6:40 p.m. ET, CBS
  • Opening line: Chiefs -3; O/U 53.5

Case for Kansas City: First, Patrick Mahomes practiced on a limited basis and is expected to play after suffering a concussion last weekend. If he’s out there, expect the Chiefs to be running and gunning with Tyreek Hill stretching the field and Travis Kelce dominating over the middle.

However, don’t be surprised if a guy like Sammy Watkins plays a starring role.

Case for Buffalo: Nobody has been able to stop the Josh Allen to Stefon Diggs connection, and their success continues this weekend. With WR Cole Beasley finally healthy, expect the Bills’ offense to be clicking all night.

Luckily for Buffalo, its secondary may be the best in the league. CB Tre'Davious White and S Micah Hyde won’t let the Chiefs’ speedsters get behind them, frustrating Mahomes and Hill the entire game.

Prediction: The Bills defense does just enough while Stefon Diggs has another monster game - Bills by 3.

NFC

No. 1 Green Bay Packers (14-3) vs. No. 5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (13-5)

  • Sunday, Jan. 24, 3:05 p.m. ET, FOX
  • Opening line: Packers -3; O/U 51

Case for Green Bay: Aaron Rodgers ran away with the MVP award this season. He played the best football of his outstanding career, slinging the ball to Davante Adams at will.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Packers were better against the pass than the rush. CB Jaire Alexander is especially talented and will likely be tasked with slowing down Mike Evans or Antonio Brown.

Case for Tampa: Tom Brady does not age, and the Bucs’ skill positions are filled with talent from Chris Godwin to Leonard Fournette. But the team’s best offseason pickup? Rookie left tackle Tristan Wirfs, who will give Brady and his weapons enough time to shred the Packers’ defense.

Perhaps more importantly, the Bucs’ defense has proven itself as one of the league’s best. Top cornerback Carlton Davis’s rare ability to cover Davante Adams will allow the stellar linebacker duo of Devon White and Lavonte David to own the field.

Prediction: The Bucs prove the 38-10 regular season beatdown of the Packers was no fluke, but Rodgers keeps it much closer this time around - Bucs by 7.


WEEKEND WATCH

Fight Night

The marquee matchup of the weekend is a redemption story rematch between Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor at UFC 257.

The event: UFC Fight Island - Abu Dhabi - Saturday, Jan. 23, 10:00 p.m. ET, ESPN+

The odds: Poirier (+260) vs. McGregor (-310)

Poirier is hoping for a better result than his first matchup with McGregor. In that one, McGregor knocked him out in under two minutes.

Conor McGregor, fresh out of retirement and fiery as ever, spent the week purchasing million-dollar watches. If he looks like his old self, expect him to win, showboat, and immediately call out Khabib Nurmagomedov for his next fight.


WATER COOLER TALK
  • 🏈   In his introductory press conference, Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell referenced both biting people’s knees off and The Big Lebowski. He’ll fit right in with Detroit.
  • 🏈   The Pittsburgh Steelers signed QB Dwayne Haskins to a one-year deal. Haskins will look to revive his career while the Steelers hope they found Big Ben’s replacement on the cheap.
  • ⚽   Burnley beat Liverpool in Anfield, ending Liverpool’s 68-match home Premier League unbeaten streak.
  • 🏀   Michigan’s Naz Hillmon set the school’s men’s and women’s single-game scoring record after dropping 50 (!) points in a loss to Ohio State.

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TRIVIA ANSWER

B. Aaron Rodgers led the entire NFL in completion percentage at 70.3%. Second place? Deshaun Watson at 70.2%.

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