Weekly Sports Roundup - 1-9-18
Perhaps the only industry with more movement than Hollywood is professional sports. We'll recap it all here in our regular look at the happenings across the world of sport.
The NFL playoffs got underway this weekend and already we have some surprises busting brackets around the country. Tennessee Titans quarterback and Rep 1 Sports client Marcus Mariota led an incredible 22-21 comeback win after trailing 21-3 at halftime on the road against Kansas City, which included an incredible touchdown pass to himself after the ball was deflected by Chiefs defensive back and former great Darrelle Revis, who is with Zac Hiller at ZHS. Chiefs star running back Kareem Hunt, a Dan Saffron client, went curiously underutilized in the second half in another baffling playoff loss for coach Andy Reid, a Bob LaMonte client. It was just a few short years ago that Reid and the Chiefs managed to blow a 38-10 lead in the playoffs against the Indianapolis Colts.
The other upset of the weekend occurred across the country in Los Angeles, in the city's first home playoff game in over 30 years. The reigning NFC champion Atlanta Falcons came into the Rams home stadium and, quite frankly, dispatched them rather easily. Rams' returner Pharoh Cooper, who is with Todd France at CAA, fumbled not once but twice to give the Falcons easy points. Quarterback Matt Ryan, another CAA client, looked every bit the reigning MVP in dissecting a Rams defense that had been one of the league's best, and Rams running back Todd Gurley, a Roc Nation client who was ultra-reliable all year, dropped multiple key passes and generally was not as impactful as Rams fans had become accustomed to seeing this season. The battle-tested Falcons move on while the young Rams and their even younger head coach, whiz kid Sean McVay - another Bob LaMonte client - are left to wonder what could have been.
Teams around the league are reaching the midpoint of their schedule and the team with the best home record in the NBA isn't the reigning champs from Golden State. It also isn't the rival Cavs or even the East-leading Celtics or red-hot Rockets. Amazingly, it belongs to none other than the Toronto Raptors, who sit at 28-10 overall. They are led by another dominant season from All-NBA wing DeMar DeRozan, a Goodwin Sports client averaging over 25 points per game with an array of inside and outside moves that rival anyone's in the league. Point guard and fellow All-Star Kyle Lowry, who is with ASM, has turned in another efficient and effective season after signing a monster, $100 million contract in the offseason.
Veteran and fellow ASM client Serge Ibaka, who arrived in Toronto last year in a midseason trade with Orlando, has thrived after getting more playing time at the center position rather than his typical power forward. His versatility and shot-blocking has helped make the Raptors' defense one of the league's best. On the perimeter, two new additions out of the Hoosier State have bolstered the team's depth considerably, with three point marksman C.J. Miles coming over from the Indiana Pacers and the drafting of hard-nosed rookie O.G. Anunoby out of Indiana. Miles is with The Neustadt Group while Anunoby is with Chris Emens and Octagon. The Raptors are ready to make a deep playoff run, and with the Cavaliers looking vulnerable this may finally be their year.
Another season is in the books and Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide sit atop the college football landscape once again. This one wasn't without some drama, as the Tide trailed the Georgia Bulldogs 13-0 at halftime before roaring back for a 26-23 overtime win. Saban, a Jimmy Sexton client at CAA, boldly benched his quarterback during the intermission, switching sophomore Jalen Hurts out for the untested Tua Tagovailoa, a true freshman who came all the way from Honolulu to play in Tuscaloosa. Hurts, who had been 25-2 as the starting quarterback, was gracious after the game and appeared to be Tagovailoa's biggest fan on the sidelines. Time will tell if that changes come next fall and that halftime switch proves to be more permanent. In the meantime, many players from both teams begin the process of hiring agents and going pro. Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick is expected to be a high first round pick come this year's draft, as is Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith. On that note, Oklahoma QB and Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield has signed with Lindsey Waterhouse. Stay tuned to WhoReps to see where all the expected top picks land!
Unlike their 82-game counterparts in the NBA, most of the NHL actually has already passed the halfway point of their season. Sitting atop the Central Division are the upstart Winnipeg Jets, a team that has not won a single playoff game in their entire history going back to 1999, when they were founded as the Atlanta Thrashers. That misery has continued since moving north in 2011, but looks poised to finally end this season. The Jets are led by right winger and captain Blake Wheeler, who is their points leader and who also leads the conference in assists with 36. Wheeler, who is with Matt Keator at Olympic Sports Management, has led a balanced offensive attack resulting in six different Jets having at least 12 goals on the season. Finnish teenager and 2nd overall pick Patrik Laine, a Michael Liut client, leads the team with 18, while Danish winger Nikolaj Ehlers, an Andre Rufener signing, is right behind him with 17. Minding the net for the Jets is the young Connor Hellebuyck, with the Michigander and Ray Petkau client helping the Jets give up the tenth-fewest goals in the league. There's still a lot of season to be played, but it appears the long-suffering fans in Winnipeg will soon be able to taste playoff hockey once again.