The National Football League wildcard games will dominate my viewing this weekend. Other sports I will be watching are World Cup bobsled, the PGA Tour and the NHL.
Saturday—World Cup Bobsled—two man–www.cbcsports.ca—6 a.m. PT—Even though Justin Kripps of Summerland, British Columbia has not won a World Cup two-man bobsled competition so far this season, he leads the World Cup standings with 402 points. In his last World Cup race in Lake Placid, he finished in second place behind Steven Holcomb of the United States. The favourite in the event is Germany’s Francesco Friedrich, who won last month in Whistler.
Saturday—AFC Wildcard Game—Oakland Raiders @ Houston Texans—ABC—1:30 p.m. PT—For the first time since 2003, the Oakland Raiders are in the postseason. The last time the Raiders were in a playoff game was Super Bowl XXXVII on January 26, 2003. My 13 year-old nephew was only two days old. Oakland will be in tough however because quarterback Derek Carr is out with a broken leg. Incoming quarterback Connor Cook simply does not have the required experience necessary and will face a Texans team known for its defense.
Saturday—NHL—Edmonton Oilers @ New Jersey Devils—Sportsnet—4 p.m. PT—For the first time in his NHL career, Taylor Hall of Calgary, Alberta will be playing the Edmonton Oilers. Hall has nine goals and 16 assists for 25 points so far this season, but the Devils are six points back of the Philadelphia Flyers for a playoff spot, and have the worst goals for and against ratio in the Eastern Conference at -23.
Saturday—NFC Wildcard Game—Detroit Lions @ Seattle Seahawks—NBC—5 p.m. PT—One could argue that no team is colder heading into the NFL postseason than the Detroit Lions. Detroit has lost three straight games, however it should be noted that they were all to NFC playoff bound teams—the New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers. They play another NFC playoff bound team this week and should get their butts kicked in northwestern Washington.
Saturday—NHL—Vancouver Canucks @ Calgary Flames—CBC—7 p.m. PT—In the second game of a back-to-back, the Flames host the Canucks in a Pacific Division battle. The Canucks will have to watch out for the Flames power play, which has been smoking as of late. There is no team hotter in the NHL at the moment than the Canucks. They have won five straight games, and have received brilliant goaltending from Ryan Miller, who shutout the Arizona Coyotes this past week 3-0.
Sunday—AFC Wildcard Game—Miami Dolphins @ Pittsburgh Steelers—CBS—10 a.m. PT—Like the Oakland Raiders, the Miami Dolphins will not have their number one quarterback starting this weekend as Ryan Tannehill is out with an ACL injury. Matt Moore will get his fourth straight start. He has more experience than Cook, but the Dolphins will be facing a Steelers team that has not lost since a 35-30 defeat to the Dallas Cowboys on November 13.
Sunday—NFC Wildcard Game—New York Giants @ Green Bay Packers—FOX—1:30 p.m. PT—Like the Steelers, the Packers are red hot and have won six straight games themselves. Green Bay also seems to be a little bit better in their secondary after a disastrous start to their season. The Giants meanwhile have had playoff success over the last decade and are starting to get production from their running game. Paul Perkins rushed 102 yards on 21 carries in a 19-10 Giants win last weekend over Washington that knocked the Redskins out of the playoffs.
Sunday—PGA Tour—SBS Tournament of Champions—Golf Channel—2 p.m. PT—The world’s best golfers are in Maui this weekend for the first PGA event on the 2017 calendar. After the first round, reigning PGA Championship winner Jimmy Walker of the United States has the lead at eight under par. He leads Americans Jim Herman, Justin Thomas and Ryan Moore by two strokes each.
Sunday—NHL—Edmonton Oilers @ Ottawa Senators—Sportsnet—4 p.m. PT—The Oilers close out a four game road trip this weekend in the Canadian capital city. Oilers star Connor McDavid has taken over the NHL lead in points once again with 45. He had two assists on Thursday in a 4-3 Oilers win over the Boston Bruins. The headliner for the Oilers on Thursday however was Patrick “Hat Trick” Maroon, who scored three times in recording his first career hat trick.