Q & A on the National Title Game
COLLEGE FOOTBALL NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: IT'S Q&A TIME
Q: Has Alabama covered the almighty pointspreads in all four of its prior championship games under head coach Nick Saban?
A: No, the 'Bama Crimson Tide has won four titles under Saban and they've covered the pointspread three times - versus Texas (2009), versus LSU (2011) and against Notre Dame (2012) but last year Alabama squeaked past 6.5-point pup Clemson 45-40 and right now the 'Bama guys are listed as 7-point favs tonight (the totals price is 51).
Q: Can a Clemson offense that averages 38 ppg (that's 16th-best in the nation) legitimately believe it can score in the 30s against this rock-solid Alabama defense?
A: Maybe Clemson's 8th-year head coach Dabo Swinney isn't coming out and saying it, but there's great optimism on the Tigers' side when it comes to this here-and-now offense engineered by QB Deshaun Watson. The Heisman Trophy chief runner-up has helped Clemson post scoring totals of 42, 56, 42, 56 and - yup - 42 points against five bowl teams that Swinney's club faced this year and the complete return of WR Mike Williams makes Clemson a downfield threat at all times.
Q: If Alabama's bulldozer soph RB Bo Scarbrough (180 yards rushing and two TDs in the Peach Bowl/playoff win against Washington) doesn't play the role of scoring hero for the Tide here, who might?
A: No, we're not gonna say frosh QB Jalen Hurts (57 yards passing against Washington) who has a whole lot on his proverbial plate here with new play-caller Steve Sarkisian whispering in his ear but rather watch out for PK Adam Griffith who banged home a 41-yard FG and three PATS last week against UW Huskies and who has nailed 20 field goals this year.
NFL DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS
Here's mini-previews of what's ahead this Saturday/Sunday in the NFL Playoffs:
On Saturday, it's ...
SEATTLE (11-5-1) at ATLANTA (11-5) - 4:35 p.m. ET, Fox
It's been an MVP-type season for Falcons' QB Matt Ryan (P.S., he was not even on the list of top 100 players in the league in last summer's player votes!) but coming off a post-season bye hasn't worked out well for the Birds (see 2010 loss to Green Bay; 2012 non-cover win against Seattle) and now they catch a Seahawks' squad with a reborn running game starring RB Thomas Rawls (161 yards rushing and 1 TD in Saturday's 26-6 win against Detroit).
HOUSTON (10-7) at NEW ENGLAND (14-2) - 8:15 p.m. ET, CBS
Wow ... the Vegas guys/gals have New England a 16-point (and growing) favorite for this clash in Foxboro and may we remind you the Patriots pounded the Texans 27-0 without a then-suspended QB Tom Brady back in Week 3 play. If New England wants to keep ever-active DE Jadeveon Clowney off the aforementioned Mr. Brady (28 TDs, 2 INTs in 2016) then running plays to the right is advised but get a load of this: It took Houston RB Lamar Miller 31 carries to garner 73 yards in that ugly 27-14 win/cover versus Oakland. Ugh!
On Sunday, it's ...
PITTSBURGH (12-5) at KANSAS CITY (12-4) - 1:05 p.m. ET, NBC
Everyone's quick to remind the betting public that the Steelers drubbed the Chiefs 43-14 way back in a Week 4 prime-time game (it was 36-0 after three quarters) and that KayCee's now out for revenge and so, perhaps, that's why the number on this game moved from Pittsburgh minus a point to KC minus 1.5 points faster than you can say Andy Reid! Don't think the foot injury to Pittsburgh QB Roethlisberger (197 yards passing, 2 TDs and 2 INTs in Sunday's 30-12 win against Miami) will keep 'em out of this tilt.
GREEN BAY (11-6) at DALLAS (13-3) - 4:40 p.m. ET, Fox
If you want drama on NFL Divisional Playoff weekend, than this one will be hard to top. Here's the Cowboys waiting around with that top seed in the NFC with rookie QB Dak Prescott and RB Ezekiel Elliott assuredly chomping at the bit while Green Bay roars in here after its offense was sleep-walking for much of the first half in yesterday's 38-13 triumph over the New York Giants - did the QB Aaron Rogers-to-WR Randall Cobb "Hail Mary" really energize the Pack or what? Hey, no WR Jordy Nelson (ribs) - if that's the case - won't cripple the road dogs here.