ACKERMAN: We Made It To The Weekend
ST. LOUIS (KMOX) — Longest week ever?
Sure felt like it.
We’ve made it through the snow, the ice, the sub-zero temps, the unplowed city streets and the St. Louisans who still don’t know how to drive in snow (read: slow down). So here we are…
Hat tip to my pal Joe Sutton (@FZNPrincipal), the principal at Fort Zumwalt North High School, for the above photo/meme. It made me laugh.
And now, folks, we enter an outstanding sports weekend. Here are a few notable matchups:
TONIGHT: Blues at Canucks, 9 p.m., KMOX
There simply isn’t a hotter team in the NHL right now than the Blues. They’ve won seven straight, charging into first place in the Central Division. The Blues are tied with the Blackhawks with 67 points, but they also have three games in hand and a 3-0 record against the ‘Hawks.
Remember when we all wondered where the scoring was going to come from? And with Alexander Steen out, how? Well, the Blues have 21 goals in 2014. In four games. Without Steen. And the scoring has been spread out: 12 different players have goals in January.
Ultimately, goaltending is going to be the key for this team to take the next step in the postseason. Jaroslav Halak is finally healthy, missing six games (sick) before posting a shutout Thursday night in Calgary. Brian Elliott is on his own seven-game winning streak. The defensemen have been solid. You know what? It’s more than okay to be excited about this team’s chance to make history.
SATURDAY: Indianapolis at New England, 7:15 p.m., CBS
Not only is this is a fascinating matchup of a champion quarterback (Tom Brady) and another who figures to someday join the all-time greats (Andrew Luck), it’s the final broadcast of Dan Dierdorf’s storied career. The Hall of Famer is retiring from television.
Dierdorf began his broadcasting journey at KMOX, working with the legendary Jack Buck. What blossomed was an intelligent, honest, easy-to-understand analyst who taught more people about football than he’ll ever know. But I can tell you that for myself, watching Dierdorf, Al Michaels and Frank Gifford in my living room every Monday night was very influential when it came to my love and understanding of the game.
Dierdorf is my all-time favorite football analyst, and I wish him well.
As for the game, the Patriots will get it done, but it will be wild. Patriots 34, Colts 31.
(By the way, the early game is a decent one on paper, too. But I think Seattle rolls. Seahawks 38, Saints 17.)
SUNDAY: San Francisco at Carolina, 12:05 p.m., KMOX
The 49ers are built for this time of year. They have the best linemen in the league, on both sides of the ball. QB Colin Kaepernick can hurt you by bolting to the outside and picking up big gains. But he’s underrated as a passer. Kaepernick has a number of big, strong targets that find themselves open because of the threat of the Niners running game. I like Carolina QB Cam Newton, but he’ll be outplayed by a more experienced Kaepernick in this one. The 49ers are on a mission to get back to the Super Bowl. 49ers 20, Panthers 13.
San Diego at Denver, 3:40 p.m., KMOX
The most confident team in the playoffs has to be the Chargers. They’re coming off a dominant win in Cincinnati with a rejuvenated, playoff-tested quarterback in Phillip Rivers. But I’ll take a rested Broncos defense, playing at home and keeping Rivers (somewhat) in check. Peyton Manning has a day. Broncos 35, Chargers 24.
Tom Ackerman is Sports Director at KMOX. Follow him on Twitter: @Ackerman1120