Sports snippets for the New Year

Posted December 31, 2013 at 9:52 am

JAN. 1 OFF THE MARK COLUMN — MARK SPENSLEY, CO-PUBLISHER

Green Bay beat Chicago to win their division Sunday. It wasn’t pretty. That’s all I’ve got to say on the subject.

Wildcard weekend playoff predictions: San Francisco over Green Bay, Philadelphia over New Orleans, Cincinnati over San Diego, Indianapolis over Kansas City.

My Super Bowl prediction will be Denver over Seattle.

After 15 bowl games I sit at 8-7. And yes, I missed both Big Ten teams, Minnesota and Michigan. The next round of games kick off tonight (Monday). Pete Temple sits at 9-6.

News flash! The Chicago Cubs did little at the winter meetings to make themselves better. They say they are sticking to their plan of building from within. That my friends just may take awhile.

Let’s check in to my other two favorite Chicago teams. The Bulls sit in ninth place at 11-17. Top eight spots make the playoffs I believe. The Bulls are just not the same without Derrick Rose. My guess is they fall short of that eighth spot this year.

Now on to hockey. The returning Stanly Cup champions Chicago Blackhawks sit in first place and four points up on St. Louis. I have yet to catch a game on the tube this season.

After asking around I’ve been told they are not playing quite as well as last season. I’ll jump on the bandwagon later in the season. I am mostly a playoff hockey fan at best.

The big game of the week for me will be Iowa vs. LSU in the Outback Bowl. I took LSU in my bowl picks. Iowa will have to contend and contain the SEC speed. LSU will have to win the battle up front.

If it comes down to a field goal, I’m going with the Hawks. If it’s a blowout it will be a LSU victory.

College hoops have been exciting in our state. It’s been awhile since ISU and Iowa were both relevant. ISU beat the Hawks in Ames a few weeks ago. I thought Iowa played a better game. I think ISU will go farther in the tournament.

Anyone excited for the Winter Olympics in Sochi Russia? It is coming on fast. This year will be the maiden voyage for women’s ski jumping. I love the sport of ski jumping.

I’m also looking forward to the downhill ski events as well as hockey. This week the news out of Russia has been two suicide bombings. Let’s hope the focus will be on the games and not the potential disruptions that could occur.

Black Monday casualties so far: Greg Schiano, Tampa Bay; Rob Chudzinski, Cleveland; Jim Schwartz, Detroit; Mike Shanahan, Washington; and Leslie Frazier, Minnesota.

Bla