This is a huge weekend because one major sporting event is a major part of not just the athletic landscape in North America, but the cultural, entertainment and business landscape as well. That is what the mighty Super Bowl, the National Football League championship, has become. This is Super Bowl 51, better known as Super Bowl LI and for only the second time ever the Atlanta Falcons will be in the championship game. Their opponent in Houston this year will be the mighty New England Patriots who are currently three point favourites and are looking for their fifth Super Bowl. If successful, they will move into a tie for second place on the all-time list (tied with the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys) and one back of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Patriots deserve to be the favourites for one reason. Defense. The Patriots and Falcons have similar great offenses but the Patriots have the edge when defending. One can simply not ignore the fact that the Patriots gave up 156 fewer points in the regular season than the Falcons. I am not saying the Falcons won’t score points on Sunday. I am projecting them to score a lot. I just think the Patriots will score more. Game time is 3:30 p.m. PT on FOX.
Here are the other events I will be watching this weekend:
Saturday—World Cup women’s bobsled—www.cbcsports.ca—7:20 a.m. PT—Canadian Olympic gold medalist Kaillie Humphries will try to continue to maintain her slim World Cup lead over American Jamie Greubel Poser in Innsbruck, Austria. Humphries currently has 1236 points, while Greubel Poser has 1219 points. So far this year Humphries has won with brakewomen Cynthia Appiah of Etobicoke, Ontario in Whistler and Melissa Lotholz of Barrhead, Alberta in Altenberg, Germany.
Saturday—World Cup halfpipe snowboarding—www.cbcsports.ca—9:30 a.m. PT—The world’s best snowboarders are in Mammoth, California this weekend. The American women will be represented by former world champion Arielle Gold, Olympic gold medalists Hannah Teter and Kelly Clark and X Games gold medalist Chloe Kim.
Saturday—Davis Cup Tennis—First Round–Canada vs. Great Britain—Sportsnet One–10 a.m. PT—Canada and Great Britain will play against each other in men’s doubles in the third match of the best of five from Ottawa, Ontario. The Canadian team will be represented by former Wimbledon doubles champion Vasek Pospisil of Vernon, British Columbia and eight-time major champion Daniel Nestor of Toronto, Ontario. Great Britain will have a Murray. Just not Andy. Jamie Murray, the older brother of Andy Murray, will play alongside Dominic Inglot.
Saturday—World Cup slopestyle skiing—www.cbcsports.ca—1 p.m. PT—The world’s best slopestyle skiers will be competing in Mammoth, California. The best Canadian hope is Alex Bellemare of St. Boniface, Quebec who won a bronze medal in men’s slopestyle skiing at the 2015 Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado.
Saturday—NHL—Toronto Maple Leafs @ Boston Bruins—CBC—4 p.m. PT—The Boston Bruins are currently in a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins are in third place in the Atlantic Division with 58 points and the Maple Leafs are in fourth place with 55 points. However just because the Maple Leafs are in fourth in the Atlantic Division does not mean they are in a playoff spot. That is because the Philadelphia Flyers, who are in fifth place in the Metropolitan Division, has 58 points, three more than Toronto. It will be interesting to see if Bruins all-star goaltender Tuukka Rask will be in net for Boston. Rask injured his groin against the Washington Capitals on Wednesday and is day-to-day.
Saturday—NHL—Minnesota Wild @ Vancouver Canucks—CBC—7 p.m. PT—The Minnesota Wild are currently the best team in the West at 71 points and the second best team in the NHL, only three points back of the Washington Capitals at 74 points. The Canucks meanwhile are four points back of the Los Angeles Kings for a playoff spot. The Wild had a topsy-turvy week. They hammered the Edmonton Oilers 5-2 on Tuesday night and then got hammered themselves 5-1 to the Calgary Flames on Wednesday.
Sunday—NBA—Toronto Raptors @ Brooklyn Raptors—Sportsnet One—9 a.m. PT—There is breakfast basketball Sunday morning as the struggling Raptors travel to New York state. Toronto has lost seven of their last ten, but still sit comfortably third in the Eastern Conference at 30 wins and 20 losses.
Sunday—NHL—Edmonton Oilers @ Montreal Canadiens—Sportsnet—10 a.m. PT—In an all-Canadian matchup, the Edmonton Oilers will play their final game before their five day winter break. The Canadiens comfortably lead the Atlantic Division with 67 points and will be playing their second game of a back-to-back as they will have faced the Washington Capitals on Saturday morning. Playing early games has become a tradition for the Canadiens on Super Bowl weekend.
Sunday—NHL—Calgary Flames @ New York Rangers—Sportsnet 360—11 a.m. PT—The Calgary Flames will be playing their second game of a three game road trip. Meanwhile it is the first of a four game home stand for the Rangers. Even though New York is in fourth place in the Metropolitan Division, they are comfortably in a playoff spot with 65 points. They have 10 more points than the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Flames meanwhile are one point back of the Los Angeles Kings for a playoff spot in the Pacific Division.