Coming out of the weekend, Bill Belichick wasn't ready to go easy on the AFC title game proceedings. He sounded deflated Monday. And this is deflating. The Patriots are sliding backward. Losing back-to-back AFC Championships is not a demonstration of a team on the rise. The 1974-76 Raiders are the last team to get to a Super Bowl after losing back-to-back conference championship games. [Tom Brady] is getting older and the Patriots are vulnerable. The Patriots have become the 1990s Atlanta Braves. They play in an easy division, take care of business during the regular season, then get punched in the mouth and go home in the playoffs. ... New England was by far the fourth of the final four teams in the tournament. There's no disgrace in getting to the final four, but the notion that the Patriots had a chance with their ordinary people after everything that had happened to this team was preposterous. (The Boston Globe) Comment
Out since Dec. 17 with a fracture in his left knee, Kobe Bryant was in midseason form when it came to a recent interview. Bryant touched on a number of things in his state-of-the-Mamba address, including the Lakers' other injuries, their midseason status (16-25 prior to tipoff) and the state of the league. Among the topics: *He made it abundantly clear that he won't be joining Team USA in the 2016 Olympics. ... *The most noticeable change in NBA basketball since his arrival in 1996? "It's more of a finesse game. It's more small ball. Which, personally, I don't really care much for," Bryant said. Like so many from the old-school -- even at 35, Bryant qualifies -- he is befuddled at the soft stuff now that passes for physical play. "Makes me nauseous," he said. "You can't touch a guy." (NBA.com) Comment
A pair of national capitals met Tuesday night, with Ottawa taking away a 2-0 win from the Capitals, who have now lost six straight. If that wasn't bad enough, the Senators official Twitter feed sent quite the insult as the team left town. "@Senators: Always a pleasure to visit the other nation's capital when we leave with two points. #ThanksObama" The tweet immediately gained a lot of attention, and fans of both teams reacted expectedly. Caps fans thought the Ottawa tweet over the line, while Sens fans thought it was funny, and worse, accurate. It should be noted the Caps played the game without their best player and current NHL leading goal scorer Alex Ovechkin, but the folks in charge of the Senators Twitter account failed to mention that. (CSN Washington) Comment
Believe it or not, you're looking at the water in which the 2016 Summer Olympic sailing events will be held. Rio de Janeiro has promised to tidy up Guanabara Bay — an unsavory stew of industrial and human pollution -- in time for the Games. Good luck with that! (Mario Tama/Getty Images)
SI's Boomer Esiason looks at the Super Bowl match-up between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos and how cold weather will affect a game that sets up as the NFL's best offense vs. its best defense.