Championship Sunday Primer

January 28, 2022

By: Carlos Alvarez

Happy Friday 

A busy day in the NFL saw Ben Roethlisberger officially retire and two new head coaches hired (headlines). But first, we go long on the NFC and AFC Championships as we nail down the Super Bowl LVI matchup by Monday. Weekend incoming…

Letter Rip!



Championship Sunday Primer


Picks, Previews, Odds & Players to Watch in the AFC & NFC Championship Games


Four teams enter, two teams leave. Super Bowl LVI will have its two finalists by Sunday night. The two conference championships go back-to-back on Sunday, and neither of the 1-seeds are still alive. Both games are rematches of previous contests, so we have insight into what happened the first time around. The Chiefs are Rams are the favorites, but don’t count out the underdog Bengals and resilient 49ers. Here’s a look at what’s coming on Sunday.


AFC: Bengals at Chiefs (Sun. 3:00 pm ET, CBS)

Cincinnati walks into Arrowhead with a tall task ahead, but QB Joe Burrow and company appear up for the challenge. The Bengals beat the Chiefs in Week 17 (34-31) in Cincinnati. Burrow outshined Patrick Mahomes in that game, throwing for 446 yards and 4 TDs, including a breakout performance by WR Ja’Marr Chase (11 receptions, 266 yards, 3 TDs). The Chiefs game plan will undoubtedly consist of doubling Chase and forcing Burrow to go elsewhere. Mahomes and the Kansas City offense was held to just three points in the second of that matchup. Expect head coach Andy Reid to draw up a heavy dose of dump-offs to WR Tyreek Hill and TE Travis Kelce early. All signs point to an air-attack shootout with a sunny day in the high-40s. Barring a Bengals upset, the Chiefs are going back to their third straight Super Bowl.


Odds: KC (-7) | O/U: 54.5


NFC: 49ers at Rams (Sun. 6:30 pm ET, FOX)

The NFC West three-peat features San Francisco and Los Angeles at SoFi Stadium. The 49ers are the lower seed, but they won both in-season matchups, including a blowout in November (31-10) and an overtime thriller in December (27-24, OT). The Niners defense picked off QB Matthew Stafford multiple times in each contest. Rams WR Cooper Kupp and 49ers WR Deebo Samuel will be the x-factors, but Stafford’s ability to protect the ball will decide the game. QB Jimmy Garoppolo has also faced criticism for being San Francisco’s biggest liability when it comes to reaching and winning the Super Bowl. If he can step up and beat the Rams for the third time this year, he can cement his future in San Fran next season. The Rams are the favorites, but the Niners have won eight of their last ten.


Odds: LA (-3.5) | O/U: 46


*Links to Video Previews


Additional Storylines NFL Championship Sunday Game Picks

SI: Which Team’s Super Bowl Future Odds Are You Betting?

SportsNaut: NFL Championship Sunday: Ranking the Top-10 Players Set to Take the Field



NBA All-Star Starters


Ten Starters & Captains Announced for 2022 NBA All-Star Game


The NBA All-Star starters were revealed on Thursday, and one major surprise caught the attention of everyone in the league. Andrew Wiggins made the top-10, paving the way for a long list of snubbed players. The reserves will be announced Feb. 3. Here are the ten starters for each team captained by LeBron James (West) and Kevin Durant (East).


Western Conference

*LeBron James (Lakers)

Ja Morant (Grizzlies)

Steph Curry (Warriors)

Andrew Wiggins (Warriors)

Nikola Jokic (Nuggets)


Eastern Conference

*Kevin Durant (Nets)

Trae Young (Hawks)

DeMar DeRozan (Bulls)

Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks)

Joel Embiid (76ers)


*Denotes Captains

NBA All-Star Game: Feb. 20


Additional Storylines

B/R: Biggest Snubs & Surprises From 2022 NBA All-Star Starters

CBS Sports: Andrew Wiggins Selection Leads to Significant Snubs Among Starters



The Aussie Open Finals


(1) Ash Barty & (27) Danielle Collins Set for Women’s Final; (6) Rafael Nadal Cruises Into Men’s Finale


Three of the four singles finalists are set down in Melbourne. The Australian Open finals take center court this weekend, with (1) Ash Barty and (27) Danielle Collins squaring off for the title after a pair of straight-set victories in the semis. Barty became the first Australian woman in 42 years to reach the final in her homeland. In the men’s semis, (6) Rafael Nadal cruised past (7) Matteo Berrettini to reach the finals, but one more semifinal is underway right now between (2) Daniil Medvedev and (4) Stefanos Tsitsipas. We’ll wrap up the Australian Open on Monday!


Women’s Semifinals Highlights

(1) A. Barty def. M. Keys (6-1, 6-3)

(27) D. Collins def. (7) I. Swiatek (6-4, 6-1)


Men’s Semifinals Highlights

(6) R. Nadal def. (7) M. Berrettini (6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3)


Men’s Semifinals Schedule

(2) D. Medvedev vs. (4) S. Tsitsipas (3:30 am ET)

Live Look-In / Final Results


Finals Schedule

W: (1) A. Barty vs. (27) D. Collins (Sat. 3:30 am ET)

M: (6) R. Nadal vs. TBD (Sat. 3:30 am ET)


Additional Storylines

NPR: Ash Barty Breaks a 42-Year Drought by Reaching Australian Open Final

ESPN: In Her Country, For Her Country, Ash Barty Looks to Bring Australian Open Title Home



\"🏀\"  NBA: 76ers Thump LeBron-Less Lakers

Anthony Davis (31 pts) did all he could to carry Los Angeles on Thursday, but the 76ers overwhelmed the Lakers in Philly. Joel Embiid (26 pts, 9 reb, 7 ast) led the Sixers to their third straight win. They’re now two games back of the Eastern Conference lead.


\"🏒\"  NHL: J.T. Miller Tips the Cap for Canucks

The Canucks cruised past the Jets (5-1) on Thursday thanks to J.T. Miller’s second career hat trick. He scored all three goals within 20 minutes of the 1st and 2nd periods while goaltender Spencer Martin stopped 33/34 shots for the win.


\"⚽️\"  SOC: USMNT Blanks El Salvador

The U.S. Men’s National Team were 1-0 winners over El Salvador on Thursday thanks to a second-half goal from Antonee Robinson. The win kept the USMNT in 2nd place (18 pts) of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying behind Canada (19 pts).


\"⛳️\"  PGA: Schenk Surges at Torrey Pines

Three players are atop the leaderboard after Round 2 at the Farmer’s Insurance Open, but Adam Schenk was the low man on Thursday with a 10-under card. Schenk, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas all stand at 13-under total.


\"🏀\" NCAA Men’s Basketball (Top-10)

#2 Gonzaga def. Loyola Marymount (89-55)

#6 Purdue def. Iowa (83-73)

#7 UCLA def. California (81-57)


\"🏀\" NCAA Women’s Basketball (Top-10)

#1 S. Carolina def. #24 Ole Miss (69-40)

Auburn def. #4 Tennessee (71-61)

#5 Louisville def. Florida State (75-62)

#7 Michigan def. #22 Ohio State (77-58)



The Must-Watch List

NFL Championship Weekend (Sunday)

AFC: Bengals at Chiefs (3:00 pm, CBS)

NFC: 49ers at Rams (6:30 pm, FOX)


Australian Open Schedule

Men\’s Semis: (2) D. Medvedev vs. (4) S. Tsitsipas (3:30 am)

Women’s Final: (1) A. Barty vs. (27) D. Collins (Sat. 3:30 am)

Men’s Final: (6) R. Nadal vs. TBD (Sun. 3:30 am)



Knicks at Bucks (Fri. 10:00 pm)

Nets at Warriors (Sat. 8:30 pm)

Full NBA Schedule


Capitals at Stars (Fri. 9:00 pm)

Golden Knights at Lightning (Sat. 7:00 pm)

Full NHL Schedule


FIFA World Cup Qualifying

USMNT vs. Canada (Sun. 3:00 pm)


PGA Tour

Farmer’s Insurance Open (Through Saturday)


NCAA Men’s Basketball

#9 Duke at Louisville (Sat. Noon)

Michigan at #10 Michigan State (Sat. 12:30 pm)

Oklahoma at #1 Auburn (Sat. 2:00 pm)

#4 Baylor at Alabama (Sat. 4:00 pm)

#12 Kentucky at #5 Kansas (Sat. 6:00 pm)

Stanford at #7 UCLA (Sat. 9:30 pm)

#16 Ohio State at #6 Purdue (Sun. Noon)


NCAA Women’s Basketball

#9 Texas at #18 Oklahoma (Sat. 3:00 pm)

#21 Duke at #5 Louisville (Sun. 3:00 pm)

#15 Georgia at #24 Ole Miss (Sun. 3:00 pm)

#8 Arizona at #2 Stanford (Sun. 4:00 pm)

#3 NC State at North Carolina (Sun. 4:00 pm)


*All Times Eastern



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