My favorite time of the year! The Divisional Round! My picks this year are very easy: home teams defend home turf.
Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons. Seattle has been "on a run", and they're playing their best football. But Atlanta's QB Matty Ice is playing at MVP levels this season. I like the dirty birds to take it. Wait...which dirty bird? The Falcons!
Houston Texans at New England Patriots. I overheard someone worried about the Texans because "they got a lot of ex-Patriots" over there. Unfortunately, they don't have Tom Brady or Bill Belichick. The Vegas line has the Patriots as a two-touchdown favorite. Of all the games, this may be the least interesting.
Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys. I have enjoyed watching the Cowboys from afar. Their QB Dak Prescott is playing beyond his rookie status. Green Bay could make it interesting, but I think Dallas continues their march with a tight win.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs. This is the tightest Vegas line of all the games (the Chiefs giving 1.5 points). As I write this, due to weather the game has been moved from its earlier start at 1PM to prime time (8PM). KC is at home, and they know their weather, so therefore: KC.
I'll be rooting for the Chicago Cubs in the World Series. They are playing the Cleveland Indians. Both clubs have had problems with the Fall Classic. The Indians haven't won the World Series since 1948, and the Cubs haven't won it all since 1908.
Chicago's quest reminds me very much of the Red Sox quest to win it all back in 2004. I remember how incredible it felt to win the World Series. Baseball was the first professional sports that I followed seriously. I remember the heartbreak of 2003, and the glorious finish that was the 2004 ALCS and World Series. The Red Sox swept the St. Louis Cardinals in that World Series, which seemed appropriate since they came back from being down three games to the New York Yankees in the ALCS.
Chicago has also got the best record in baseball. It's not often that the best team in baseball gets to win the World Series. The last time this was in 1998, with the NY Yankees. I like to root for favorite when there is excellence on the line (though please, don't talk to me about Super Bowl XLII). I also like to root for connections. In the case of Chicago, there's pitchers Jon Lester, John Lackey and their General Manager, Theo Epstein.
There are some X-factors for the India though. Terry "Tito" Francona is the manager for the vaunted Indians, and Tito managed the 2004 and 2007 Red Sox to their World Series victories. The other X-factor: because the National League lost to the American League in the All-Star Game, the Indians will have four games at home, and Chicago will only have three. (The series will have two games at Cleveland, then three at Chicago, then two more at Cleveland.)
It will be a great series, one that feels like a win-win for neutral fans. Cleveland is still buzzing about the Cavalier's NBA Championship, and winning a baseball championship will instantly add that city as a contender for Titletown. Chicago has had great success in my memory with all their sports, including a World Series for the Chicago White Sox.
In the end, I root for the lovable losers. I root for the dedicated fans who've been dying for a break. I root for a team that plays its games in a bandbox not unlike Fenway Park. I root for hexes and curses being broken and debunked. Let's get it done, Chicago!
it's the magical time once again. The crispness of Fall is in the air (at least here in New England). The old town team has become dominant again, and even though they lost their first game against the Cleveland Indians in the American League Division Series, all of Boston Red Sox nation is brimming with the hope. Below are my rooting interests for the Divisional Series.
ALDS: Boston Red Sox v Cleveland Indians. Could this postseason be Big Papi's big send off? It would be beyond epic if the Red Sox win the World Series and David Ortiz has some big hits. Boston has to get past Cleveland in order to fulfill that scenario, but I'm predicting they will.
ALDS: Toronto Blue Jays v Texas Rangers. I loved rooting for the Texas Rangers when they made it into the playoffs a few years back. I'll be rooting for them again.
NLDS: LA Dodgers v Washington Nationals. Nats! Let's do this! I love LA, but my cousin lives in the Washington DC area. I don't think he's a big baseball fan, but now's the moment to become one!
NLDS: San Francisco Giants v Chicago Cubs. Cubs! Of course, the Cubs! Truth be told, I would find it very difficult to root against them should the Red Sox and the Cubs make to the World Series.