Posts Tagged ‘Super Bowl’

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Former NFL veteran Mike Pritchard, a graduate of North Las Vegas’ Rancho High School, believes Peyton Manning will have the game of his life.

By W.G. Ramirez

As I approached my 5th annual Celebrity/Athlete/Media poll, I had a chance to catch up to former Rancho High School star Mike Pritchard, who went on to star at the University of Colorado and then in the NFL for three teams: the Atlanta Falcons, Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks.

Pritchard, who is the color commentator for UNLV football and co-host of the Mitch and Pritch radio show in Las Vegas, has plenty of ties to some key components in this year’s game, as he played with John Elway and has been coached by both Gary Kubiak and Wade Phillips.

Retired for 15 years, Pritchard said he still gets excited this time of the year, watching the pre-game festivities leading up to Super Sunday.

“You try to live vicariously through everyone involved in the game,” he said. “You have a rooting interest and you kind of get excited about that.”

Pritchard said he remembers a time when he questioned his retirement, something most veterans go through a year after retiring, as the itch to return to the field remains for the first couple of seasons you become a spectator.

“After a season goes by, you start training and you start to think you can still do it,” Pritchard said. “It takes a couple of years to realize it’s over. It’s not like any other sport where you can retire, and then come back after a few years. There is only one guy who I can think of who did that and that was Randall Cunningham.”

But that was then, in the early 2000s.

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Mike Pritchard, who won a national championship with Colorado, played for the Atlanta Falcons, Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks during his time in the NFL.

Now, Pritchard enjoys his time behind the mic, alongside his partner and co-host Mitch Moss, during one of the busiest times of the day. The two share their thoughts with Southern Nevada, speaking on the hottest topics in sports and daily breaking news. Most recently, that included the Oakland Raiders’ pending move to a new location. When Las Vegas entered the conversation, both Pritchard and Moss were two of the first to discuss the issue.

Pritchard isn’t sold this is the opportunity Las Vegas has been looking for, and isn’t sold the Raiders are coming to Sin City. But he does believe a top-notch stadium is the first step, and there is more important priority at hand, before landing an NFL franchise.

“If they’re going to build a stadium, it should be for our city and our university,” Pritchard said. “Can we attract an NFL franchise? Absolutely. But we need to build this for ourselves. If we don’t have that infrastructure, we’ll never have that option or decision to housing an NFL franchise.”

It’s not as if there isn’t talent spewing from Southern Nevada. Bishop Gorman High School recently completed its second straight undefeated season, and has been considered a national championship team by certain pundits the last two years. UNLV coach Tony Sanchez just announced a first-rate recruiting class in his second season in charge. And in Sunday’s Super Bowl, there will be two active players who went to high school in Las Vegas, and a third who is on a practice squad.

Brandon Marshall is a linebacker for the Denver Broncos, Ben Jacobs is a linebacker for the Carolina Panthers and Cam Jefferson is an offensive lineman on the Broncos’ practice squad.

“I love it. I think it’s great,” Pritchard said. “When I was at Rancho, there were 10 schools. If you made D-I or made it to the league, every one talked about it. Because of the growth in the valley, guys are getting more opportunities. Vegas is definitely on the map. And it speaks to the talent here and the guys making the most of their opportunities once they graduate high school.”

As for today’s game, Pritchard sees a defensive tussle ensuing early on, knowing how Kubiak and Phillips coach. He said watching the Broncos this year has been like reviewing a blueprint of teams he played on, while coached by both of them. It’s also why he believes the Broncos will send The Sheriff – Peyton Manning – off into the sunset with another Super Bowl ring.

“Coach Kubak has played and coached in Super Bowl games,” Pritchard said. “He understands what it takes to get to a Super Bowl and he certainly understands what it takes to win one.”

Pritchard said this year’s team is modeled after the 1998-99 Denver Broncos, who defeated the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl XXXIII.

“You have two great defenses, and any time that happens, you have an opportunity for a great game,” he said. Carolina will try to dictate this one early on, because they’re confident about their speed. They run the ball successfully. Carolina has done such a great job of getting turnovers. Their turnover margin is incredible. They are a read and react football. At some point the action will be fast and furious. I think these are the two best teams in the league.

“Denver will try to run, but Peyton will have to make throws to help the Broncos win. I expect Peyton Manning to have an excellent game. I don’t think he’s going to make a lot of mistakes out there.”

PRITCHARD’S PREDICTION: I believe Peyton Manning will have his the game of his life. Broncos, 24-20


 

Here is my 5th Annual Celebrity/Athlete/Media poll for Super Bowl 50:

Laz Alonso, actor. Going to be a defense intensive game but Carolina and Cam are on fire and too much for Denver. Panthers, 35-14

Mark Anderson, LV Review Journal. Denver defensive coordinator Wade Phillips will help the Broncos cover, but not cover. Panthers 24-20

Paul Anka, singer/songwriter/entertainer. Panthers will win. I watched my friend Eddie DeBartolo get voted into the Hall of Fame, and now I’ll watch the MVP hoist the trophy. It’ll be close won. Panthers 24-20

R.J. Bell, Pregame.com. Carolina is the better team, but likely not as good as the Panthers have appeared so far in the playoffs. Denver likely better than they seem, and the Broncos big game experience should help them keep Super Bowl 50 close. Panthers 21-20

Kevin Bollinger, FOX-TV Las Vegas. While everybody would love the storybook ending for Peyton Manning, the diminished skills make it tough for Denver to come back after falling behind. Panthers 27-16

Bryce Brentz, MLB player. Logic says to go with Cam’s Panthers, but I would love nothing more than to see Manning go out on top (if he does call it a career) so screw logic! Broncos 35-28

Jared Brentz, long-drive golf champion. I have to believe Payton goes out on top. I mean he deserves this ending. Broncos 21-17

Cindy Brunson, Pac 12 Network. I’m going with the guy/team that has me trying Dannon Oikos yogurt and I don’t even really like yogurt. Call it the power of Cam Newton, the MVP who threw 35 TD passes and ran for 10 more this season. Carolina reminds me so much of the Super Bowl XLVIII Champion Seahawks with a stifling defense and dual threat QB. The game will be close early, but I think the Panthers will prevail. Panthers 35-21

Chet Buchanan, KLUC-98.5 FM, Las Vegas. I like The Sheriff riding off into the sunset, mostly on the shoulders of the #OrangeCrush16. Pat/Caitlyn Bowlen is able to get his face to move enough to say, “And THIS one’s for PEYTON!” Broncos 27-20

Frank Caliendo, Comedian. Panthers 30 – Broncos 17 or flip that. Broncos 30 – Panthers 17. Can I do that? (In his own voice)

Steve Carp, LV Review Journal. Cam Newton backs up all the talk and Carolina closes out a magical season in style. Panthers 38-13

Freddie Coleman, ESPN. I think the Panthers defense makes the Broncos offense play one dimensional and their defense won’t be able to hold up. Panthers 27-16

Kevin Curry, founder Fit Men cook. I’m rooting for Cam Newton! He’s a beast. Any dude that can throw the ball and run it like a linebacker has my vote. He takes me back to the early Vince Young days, and of course he’s from Texas and I’m a Texas guy. Panthers 28-24.

Tim Dahlberg, Associated Press. Peyton Manning falls one Super Bowl ring short of his brother, thanks to Josh Norman, who cements his place on Thieves Avenue with a last minute pick to seal the first SB win for the Panthers. Panthers 27-24

Dave DeNatale, ESPN 850 AM, Cleveland. Peyton Manning in his Nationwide voice: “Painful way to call it quits.” Panthers 31-20

Randy Faehnrich, UFC, I’ve been a big believer in Denver’s defense all year. If there is a way to stop Cam, it’s to put pressure on him, and you’d be hard-pressed to find two better at applying pressure than Ware and Miller. I think the game really depends on how those two perform, and I’m banking they perform well. Give me the Broncos and Peyton Manning w/ the storybook ending. Broncos 24-20

Royce Feour, Retired Las Vegas Review-Journal sports writer. Cam Newton will be better than the old veteran Peyton Manning. Panthers 27-17

Chris Fedor, Cleveland.com. The Panthers proved to be the league’s best team during the regular season and will punctuate it Sunday, led by Cam Newton, who will show he belongs on the league’s biggest stage. Panthers, 27-17.

Marcus Fizer, retired NBA player. My pick is with the Carolina Panthers and with #SuperCam. They are playing on a level unmatched. Although you can never count out “The Sheriff” Peyton Manning, I think Cam is ready to change the dynamics of the NFL QB! Hoping for a close game, I love thrillers. Panthers 48-42

C.T. Fletcher, Powerlifter/Fitness, no score, just a mother fu*kin Broncos win! Manning and the Broncos. Admittedly not a huge fan of either team. But it’s probably Manning’s last game. He’s 40 and the underdog. I gotta pull for the “old man” cause I’m one. Gotta pick the underdog cause I’m one. I think Manning and I love to prove all the fu*kin experts wrong!

Vernon Fox, Retired NFL player. While I would love to root for my Broncos and fellow Vegas Cimarron Memorial-alum Brandon Marshall, I have a hard time believing even with the stellar defense, that Denver slows down this high-powered Panther team! Panthers 28-17

Randy Gatewood, Retired AFL player. I like the Panthers because they have been very consistent all year and they have the league MVP in Cam Newton. As great as Denver’s defense is, I don’t think they completely shut down Newton. And I think Cam Newton will also be the Super Bowl MVP. Let’s get ready to rumble! Panthers, 24-20

Bud Geracie, San Jose Mercury News. Panthers too fast and too hot. Panthers 23-14

Mike Gillespie, ABC-TV Columbia, S.C. Despite it being Manning’s last game and a pro-Denver crowd, Von Miller won’t be dabbing. That Panthers secondary is far too fast and smart to allow Manning to throw like he did against the Pats. Plus Newton, unlike Brady, is a true threat with his legs. Manning’s last game is a loss to the Panthers in Santa Clara. Panthers, 27-13

Geoff Grammer, Albuquerque Journal. I cover college sports in New Mexico so what do I know about big football games? I’ll take better story (Peyton rides off a winner) over better team for this one. Broncos 20-17

Ed Graney, LV Review Journal. If Peyton Manning can’t win this on his own, I’m sure his attorneys will send a few guys in black coats to do it for him. Panthers 24-20

Paul Gutierrez, ESPN, Panthers 27, Broncos 26.

Merril Hoge, ESPN. Teams win championships and the footers to a Champion football team are the Offensive and Defensive lines!! The Panthers win both of those match ups. Panthers 28-21

Jay Kornegay, Westgate LV SuperBook. Broncos start off on a good foot and puts the Panthers in an unfamiliar position. Denver’s D forces two critical 4th quarter turnovers and holds on. Broncos 24-20

T.J. Lavin, BMX Legend, Tom Brady 35-27!

Gilbert Manzano, LV Review Journal. The ferocious Broncos defense will give the Panthers fits early, but I see Cam Newton rallying in the fourth quarter and dabbing with the Lombardi. Panthers 27-24

Brian Mahoney, Associated Press. They’re Stephen Curry’s team, and Curry’s teams don’t lose in the Bay Area. Panthers 27-17

Chris Murray, Reno Gazette Journal. Cam Newton and the Panthers dance and dab their way to a Super Bowl title as a scourge of white Baby Boomers flood their local newspapers with letters to the editors title “What about the kids?!?!?” Oh, my, gosh, the kids! Panthers 27-17

Rock Newman, Retired Boxing Manager/Promoter. Owner Gibraltar Promotions LLC. It’s the year of Cam and the Panthers. Dab baby Dab! Panthers, 31-28.

David Purdum, ESPN. The best thing Peyton Manning has done this season: throw interceptions. Carolina’s D is a turnover machine. I feel like Manning’s good for two picks, which is just too much to overcome, at least for me to bet on the Broncos. I know all the sharps are Denver, but here’s a pro tip: Sharps lose, too. Panthers 27-16

Tim Reynolds, Associated Press. Peyton Manning gets the fairytale ending. Broncos 27-23

Anthony Rodriguez, KMET Online Radio, Denver. Broncos 23-20.

Jeffrey Seals, UNLV Media Relations. Luke Kuechly and the Panther defense will turn the lights out on Peyton Manning’s storied career. Panthers 33-13

Marc Spears, Yahoo! Sports. I’m a Raiders fan. Panthers 99, Broncos 0.

Danny Webster, Bleacher Report. The Broncos did well against Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady. Denver’s defense hasn’t played a quarterback like Cam Newton. Not only will Carolina’s defense do enough to stifle Denver’s offense, but this year’s MVP will throw for 225 yards and run for another 100 as Carolina wins its first Super Bowl. Panthers 27-17

Jamieson Welsh, The Score 670-AM Las Vegas. It’s Cam’s league now. Panthers 24-20

Matt Youmans, LV Review Journal. The Panthers pack more big-play firepower, but the Broncos’ top-ranked defense can do enough to contain Cam Newton. I like Carolina to win, but on a neutral field this line looks high. Panthers 24-20

FINAL TALLY: Panthers 31, Broncos 10, Caliendo 1, Lavin 1

W.G. Ramirez

CamJefferson

Desert Oasis-graduate and former UNLV lineman Cam Jefferson is in San Francisco for Super Bowl 50 as a member of the Denver Broncos’ practice squad. PHOTO: Courtesy Cam Jefferson/Snapchat

Cam Jefferson had just finished a stint in the Canadian Football League, with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, and returned to Las Vegas for the winter.

The former Desert Oasis High School and UNLV offensive lineman hadn’t given the NFL a thought, since the Chicago Bears waived him on Aug. 30 and no other team seemed interested. So he did what many former athletes do when they return to Vegas, he got a job working security at a local nightclub.

That was until his agent called and told him to get on a plane and head to Englewood, Colorado, where the 6-foot-5, 317-pounder had a tryout with the Denver Broncos.

“The following week I got the call that I was being brought in for the practice squad,” said Jefferson, via a phone interview from San Francisco, where the Broncos are preparing for Super Bowl 50. “I was so excited I began calling everyone – my girlfriend, my mom, friends, everyone.”

His dream had come true. He was an NFL player.

Jefferson, who spent the summer with the Chicago Bears after being signed as an undrafted free agent May 3, is still a member of Denver’s practice squad. And while that means he won’t be getting into the biggest game of the NFL season, it doesn’t mean he hasn’t played a pivotal role in helping the AFC champs get to this point.

“I go against players like DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller every day,” said Jefferson, who has been with the Broncos since Dec. 8. “It’s really an honor going against these guys and then seeing them ball out on game day. For that I feel like I’m a part of this team every single day.”

Jefferson was born in Cleveland, where his father, William, played for the NFL’s Browns (1989-90). After his father’s professional career ended – he also played for the Los Angeles Raiders and spent time in the CFL and WFL – the Jeffersons relocated and Cam was raised in Southwest Las Vegas, where he attended Sierra Vista High School as a freshman and sophomore before transferring to Desert Oasis.

Interestingly, Jefferson starred as a basketball player before even thinking of playing football. He didn’t set foot on a football field until his junior year, when he earned all-Southwest Region honors for the Diamondbacks. It was his father who has always been his biggest inspiration, as he was the main reason he switched to the gridiron his junior year.

“He’s been through it all, and all I can do is try to follow in his footsteps and be even greater than he was,” said Jefferson, who transferred to Arkansas from UNLV for his senior season. “My Pops always told me, football – even in most sports – is mostly mental. If your mental isn’t right in anything you do, especially sports, you can’t accomplish anything. Your mind has to be set.

“These last couple weeks, my Pops has been telling me to enjoy the moment, and everyone has been telling me to enjoy this because nobody gets this opportunity.”

Which is why the younger Jefferson always remained focused upon returning from Arkansas, in Chicago, up in Winnipeg, and back home in Las Vegas – all before landing in the Mile High City.

His mental strength and positive outlook is paying off, as he’s been enjoying the limelight with the Broncos: Snapchatting from Opening Night Media Day and throughout San Francisco, being interviewed by CBSSports.com for a piece on Super Bowl players with tattoos, and simply soaking up the experience leading up to the biggest game of the season.

And even though the “Cam” everyone else tuning into the game will be familiar with will be wearing powder blue and black, igniting Panthers fans with a dab or two, Cam Jefferson is taking pride that he’s helped guys like Ware and Miller, and been involved in meetings on what it means to protect Peyton Manning.

“It always starts in the trenches, no matter what play it is, what down it is, what quarter, what half it is, really, or what game – it all starts on the line,” Jefferson said. “Peyton makes plays because we makes plays. And it doesn’t really matter who it is, the priority of this football team is to execute at the highest level.

“The last couple of months have been crazy. As a football player, you dream of these moments. But to live in them is an entirely different thing. Things have really come full circle for me, because my ultimate goal was to sign a contract. This season has turned out to be a blessing.”

CAM’S PREDICTION: “I can’t give you a score, but we’ll have more points than the other team.”

 

 

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By W.G. Ramirez

Randy Gatewood will always be one of the greatest athletes to hail from UNLV.

He will also be one of my all-time favorite human beings. Great guy, fantastic football player and a personality most might think Marshawn Lynch could learn from.

I hadn’t spoken with Randy in a couple of decades, until last September, when I caught up with him for a story I wrote for UNLVRebels.com, commemorating the 20-year anniversary of his record-breaking performance while he was playing for the Rebels.

While UNLV lost a marathon on Sept. 17, 1994, 48-38 to Idaho, Gatewood set NCAA single-game records for receptions with a mind-boggling 23 and receiving yards with 363. He conceivably was the reason the Rebel offense stormed back from a 45-10 deficit to nearly defeat the Vandals. Gatewood, who played the slot position in UNLV’s three-wideout formation, caught 13 passes for 207 yards in the fourth quarter alone at Sam Boyd Stadium. The 6-foot senior from Wichita Falls, Texas, also contributed with 56 return yards, giving him 419 all-purpose yards – in one game.

And since I was covering the Rebels at the time, and covered the game for the now-defunct Las Vegas Sentinel-Voice, the state’s only African-American newspaper at the time, I was delighted at the chance to catch up with him and talk about that game. Now, roughly four months later, I thought it was only fitting to catch up with my old friend for a second time.

Gatewood

Randy Gatewood starred at UNLV and went on to become one of the greatest players in Arena Football League history during a Hall of Fame career.

We spoke early in the week, so he could give me his pick for my annual Celebrity/Athlete/Media poll, but given he resides in Scottsdale, and has been soaking up the Super Bowl atmosphere this past week, I couldn’t think of a better person I’d rather feature as the lead item for this year’s Super Bowl story.

After all, we’re talking about someone who was part of one of UNLV’s best football teams, he won a bowl game with the Rebels, he was an all-time great in the Arena Football League and is now in the organization’s Hall of Fame and he still holds an NCAA record. He epitomized what the sport of football stands for, and has always been a great representative of UNLV’s program.

Retired since 2007, Gatewood is now involved in the fine wine business, working with Quench Fine Wines, a division of Hensley Beverage Company. He is also a sideline reporter for the Arena Football League, so he keeps tabs on plenty of friends he’s played with or against.

“Football is one big fraternity, and being able to still talk to some of those guys, that’s been the most fun for me this week,” Gatewood said. “The Super Bowl undoubtedly is the biggest event in the world. And anytime it comes to your town, and you’re able to be a part of that – meeting up with some of the guys, having some drinks and dinner and sharing stories – that type of thing is what makes it fun.”

Gatewood came close to playing on Sundays, as he spent one camp with the Miami Dolphins, before being released in the final cut before the season started, in 2005. After a year off, he joined the Arizona Rattlers, and became one of the biggest stars the league had ever seen, right along with former UNLV standout Hunkie Cooper. And while he admits the NFL lingered in his head occasionally, the time off between the Dolphins’ camp and jumping to the AFL led him to a life of happiness as a family man, and playing for one of the AFL’s storied franchises.

“There’s no doubt in my mind I had the ability to play on Sundays,” he said. “Basically I chose to be a part of everything surrounding my family and chose to be with my wife and kids. I am happy and content with everything I was able to accomplish.

“And when I look back on my run, and when I chose to walk away from the game of football, I was one year removed from my second Ironman of the Year Award. I knew I was nearing the end of my career … the Rattlers were entering a new era and I felt I had accomplished everything I was going to accomplish in my career. I really felt like there was nothing left for me to accomplish.”

Gatewood was named first-team all-AFL three times, second team three times, he made the all-Ironman team thrice and was named one of the AFL’s all-time 20 greatest players (#17) in 2006. He was inducted into the league’s Hall of Fame in 2012.

“I can honestly say I was one of few guys who walked away with no regrets,” Gatewood said.

Now, he enjoys the wine business, soaking up the sun on Scottsdale’s finest golf courses and, of course, entertaining friends, colleagues and clients when the Super Bowl happens to be in Glendale.

“It’s good for the city, good for football and it’s really been a great week,” he said. “The exposure has been amazing.”

And with that, we lead this year’s poll with Gatewood’s pick for the game, after he’s been to all the big events – media-wise and socially – leading up to Sunday’s game.

“The emotional side of it tells me Seattle, but when I look at it from a football sense, I see New England winning this game,” Gatewood said. “What the Pats did during the offseason for their defense, puts them in a good position to win this game. Because now it’s not on Tom Brady’s shoulders, and I think they’re in a good position to win. As I look at his game unfold, New England is the better team. This will come down to coaching, and as much as I respect Pete Carroll, I think Bill Belichick might be the best coach in the NFL today.

“It would be nice to see a back-to-back champion, and I wouldn’t be disappointed if Seattle won. But I think the Pats have the better team and as good as Russell Wilson is, I don’t think Tom Brady is going to lose three Super Bowls in a row.” RANDY’S PICK: Patriots 27, Seahawks 24

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As for me, well, I like the defending Super Bowl champs to get it done. We’ve seen tough battles in the NFC Championship the past several years, and to me, that shows the NFC team being battle-tested and better prepared to scrap in the Super Bowl. The NFC champion is on a 5-2 run in the big game, the Seahawks are the defending champs and I don’t think even the Patriots will deflate that this year. MY PICK: Seahawks 23, Patriots 20

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This year I separated the picks by team, rather than one long list in alphabetical order. I compiled the picks by either email, text message, phone call, direct message on Instagram or Twitter or some simply replied to my announcements on Twitter by directly tweeting to me. Some included a short blurb, other just a score. Thanks to all who participated!!!

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

Mark Anthony, 2013 Men’s Physique Mr. Olympia – Seahawks, 28-14
Kevin Bolinger, Anchor/Reporter FOX TV Las Vegas – Seahawks, 27-20. Seattle establishes Marshawn Lynch early and wins the turnover battle for the repeat.
Cindy Brunson, Fox Sports/Pac 12 Network analyst – Seahawks, 35-31. Hoping for a “Re-Pete” for Seattle. Just like last year, AFC is favored but unlike SB48, this should be crazy close. Seahawks win.
Chet Buchanan, KLUC-FM, Las Vegas – Seahawks, 31-21. Seahawk D scores points and makes the difference! BACK TO BACK! Go Hawks!
Candace Buckner, Indiana Pacers beat writer, Indianapolis Star – Seahawks, 23-20.
Steve Carp, LV Review Journal Senior Writer – Seahawks, 38-24. Russell Wilson bounces back and Seattle goes back-to-back.
Freddie Coleman, ESPN Radio – Seahawks, 24-20
Tim Dahlberg, Associated Press – Seahawks, 22-19
Digital Underground, Hip Hop Group who brought us the Humpty Dance – Seahawks, 48-32
Randy Faehnrich, UNLV’s The Rebel Yell, Senior Staff Writer – Seahawks 27-23. When it comes to close games, I tend to go with who has the better rushing attack on both sides of the ball, and that’s the Hawks.

Vernon Fox, Retired NFL player – Seahawks, 20-17. Brady won’t hold up in this one. He will crack. The extra focus and attention by a tandem of good safeties will make it an underperforming day for Gronk. The run will never get going for the Pats and Wilson will only be required to do enough to win the game with Lynch doing what he does.
Mike Gillespie, Sports Anchor ABC Columbia, SC – Seahawks, 27-24
Joe Grande, NBC Sports Radio – Seahawks, 31-17
Ed Graney, LV Review Journal columnist – Seahawks, 27-20. Given their level of trash talking, it doesn’t appear as if the Seahawks need anyone to inflate their balls.
Paul Gutierrez, ESPN NFL Reporter – Seahawks, 31-27. #YouMadBro
Jay Harris, ESPN SportsCenter anchor – Seahawks, 31-27
Robert “DJ R.O.B.” Hathcock, Music Producer – Seahawks, 41-24
Matt Jacob, Editor of Vegas Seven magazine – Seahawks, 24-17
Jay Kornegay, Westgate sportsbook – Seahawks, 23-17

Jon Krawczynski, Associated Press – Seahawks, 27-21
Steve Lavin, Head Coach St. John’s Men’s Basketball – Seahawks 24-20.
Allen Leiker, LV Review Journal Assistant Sports Editor – Seahawks, 26- 20. The Giants beat the Patriots twice in the Super Bowl because they were able to get pressure on Tom Brady, who threw for less than 300 yards in each game despite 48 and 41 attempts. Seattle’s defensive line isn’t as good as those New York lines, but its defense is far superior overall and will deny Brady his fourth ring.
Brian Mahoney, Associated Press – Seahawks, 26-24
Tracy Murray, Retired NBA player/Pac 12 Analyst – Seahawks, 31-24
Kathrine Narducci, Actress from Starz’s Power and HBO’s The Sopranos – Seahawks, 34-27.
Mike Pritchard, Retired NFL player – Seahawks, 21-16. Back-to-back.
Crystina Poncher, NFL Network – Seahawks 31-28
Jason Poston, Four-time IFBB physique champion and Top-3 Mr. Olympian – Seahawks 27-24. Repeat champs, led by the man Russell Wilson.
Mike Sando, ESPN NFL reporter – Seahawks, 27-17

Jeffrey Seals, UNLV Media Relations – Seahawks, 23-21
Marc Spears, Yahoo Sports NBA reporter – Seahawks, 31-28
Sage Steele, ESPN NBA Anchor – Seahawks, 31-28
Danny Webster, UNLV’s The Rebel Yell, Managing Editor – Seahawks 27-24. Russell Wilson gets the MVP, then gets paid.
Jamieson Welsh, NBA radio analyst – Seahawks, 27-19. MVP Marshawn Lynch.
Roy Wood Jr., comedian – Seahawks, 30-22

Anthony Rodriguez, Sports Director KMET Radio Denver, Seahawks 24-20

———-

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

Mark Anderson, LV Review Journal Writer – Patriots, 27-21
Paul Anka, Legendary Singer/Songwriter – Patriots, 31-28
RJ Bell, Pregame.com/ESPN contributor – Patriots, 23-16
Bryce Brentz, Boston Red Sox outfielder – Patriots, 35-28. The Patriots, this team has been here before, and they have the mindset that they’ll treat this like just another week.
Jared Brentz, 2013 World ParaLong Drive Champion – Patriots, 31-21
Frank Caliendo, Comedian/Impressionist – Patriots, 24-18
Jay Crawford, ESPN SportsCenter anchor – Patriots, 27-24
Jay Cutler, 4X Mr. Olympia Bodybuilder – Patriots, 28-25
Dave DeNatale, ESPN Cleveland – Patriots, 26-24
Tyler Farr, Country Music Artist/ACM New Artist of the Year candidate – Patriots 34-21

Jay Feely, NFL placekicker, Chicago Bears – Patriots, 24-20
Royce Feour, retired Las Vegas Review-Journal – Patriots 28-20. The Patriots have it in the (deflated ball) bag.
Lorenzo Fertitta, Chairman & CEO UFC – Patriots, 31-28.
Randy Gatewood, Former UNLV standout/AFL Hall of Famer/Sideline reporter – Patriots, 27-24.
Jesse Granger, Editor UNLV’s Virtual-Rebel.com – Patriots, 27-21. MVP – Rob Gronkowski.
Jake Hager, Major League Baseball player, Rays organization – Patriots, 35-21
Merril Hoge, ESPN NFL analyst – Patriots, 28-13
Jemele Hill, ESPN His and Her’s co-host – Patriots, 33-31
Lacey Jones, Spokes model/professional poker player – Patriots, 27-24. What can I say, I’m a sucker for those pretty-boy looks of Tom Brady, not to mention his gorgeous wife – that has to amount for something. I do know a guy who sports Ugg boots won’t lose three straight Super Bowls. Why, that would be downright deflating.
TJ Lavin, Retired BMX star/TV Host – Patriots, 27-24. The Patriots and Tom Brady have a lot of distractions but they will overcome it to win the Super Bowl

Chris Murray, Reno Gazette-Journal – Patriots, 27-21. Belichick hoists trophy, yells “Yep, we deflated those balls,” gives crowd Marshawn Lynch crotch grab, drops mic.
David Payne Purdum, ESPN sports betting reporter – Patriots, 28-24
Michael Pittman, Retired NFL player/Bodybuilder – Patriots, 34-17
Tim Reynolds, Associated Press – Patriots, 33-24
Jon Saraceno, former USA Today columnist, freelance writer – Deflated Balls 27, Seanags 20
Matt Youmans, LV Review Journal Columnist – Patriots, 23-20. The Seahawks are not as strong as last season, and I’ll bet Belichick and Brady don’t lose a third straight Super Bowl.

FINAL TALLY: Seahawks 37 votes, Patriots 26 votes

By W.G. Ramirez

Now that it’s sunk in for everyone, that Seattle is a championship city for the first time since the now-defunct SuperSonics won the title in 1979, shouldn’t we be focused on Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale, Arizona?

Just before this past Sunday’s big game, the Seahawks were anywhere from 10- to 12-1 to win the 2015 Super Bowl, but after they took apart the Denver Broncos, quarter by quarter in humbling fashion, the odds dropped and they’re now a 9-2 favorite to win, according to odds from the LVH SuperBook.

The Broncos are just behind at 5-1, while Seattle’s chief-rival, the San Francisco 49ers is sitting at 6-1. The New England Patriots, who lost the AFC Championship to the Broncos, are 8-1, the Green Bay Packers are 16-1 and the New Orleans Saints are 18-1.Texans_logo(1)

From there the odds jump, and it’s at this point most bettors look for one team to put a little chump change on and hope for the best next season. Personally, I like to look for longshots at 50-1 or higher, on teams I think can make the playoffs – nothing more.

Seriously, if you have $100 wager on a 50-1 longshot to win the Super Bowl, and that team makes the playoffs, you’re sitting on a $5,000 ticket, and the chance to hedge your way out in a matter of three or four games.

Now the team I like off the bat, with such a big number offshore (I’ve seen 50-1), and at 30-1 at the LVH, is none other than the Houston Texans. They have the No. 1 pick in the draft, they have a new coaching staff and honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if this were the shocker in the AFC next season.

Whatever first-year coach Bill O’Brien’s direction is for this team, it can only get better. Remember, this is a team that is one season removed from going 12-4 and winning the AFC South.

And during the offseason, the Texans will have some cap space, especially if they say good-bye to veteran quarterback Matt Schaub, and hello to a rookie stud quarterback. The Texans are reportedly leaning toward taking one of two quarterbacks: either Blake Bortles or Johnny Manziel, while another possibility is Teddy Bridgewater.

Houston does have top talent to expect back from injury, including Brian Cushing and Arian Foster. On the other side of the ball, lest we forget one of the best defensive players in the game in J.J. Watt, who will now be mentored by Romeo Crennel, the former Cleveland head coach who spent 2010-12 with Kansas City and has won Super Bowl titles in the same capacity in New England. Crennel inked a three-year deal to be Houston’s defensive coordinator.

In addition to Crennel, and an entire facelift to the coaching staff, the Texans also hired former New England linebacker Mike Vrabel (linebackers) as an assistant, and I think both he and Crennel working together will have this defense shaped up.

As for the schedule, Houston faces the NFC East next season, and that’s a division that finished with a combined record of 28-36 last season, while the Texans will also play the Bills, Browns and Raiders – and that trio went 14-34 last season. Thus, seven of Houston’s opponents next season were 42-70 on the year, an average record of 6-10. The AFC South didn’t necessarily impress anyone, either, as the entire division finished the season 24-40. The Indianapolis Colts was the only team with a winning record.

Look, I’m not ready to crown the Texans division champs just yet, after all, Andrew Luck and the Colts will have a say in the matter. But based on the changes on the sidelines, the draft possibilities and a lucrative schedule – a wildcard is a possibility. And getting in the playoffs is the key, when you’re holding a big ticket to hedge against.

By W.G. Ramirez

Instant classic?

Pfft, the Seattle Seahawks looked more like Miley Cyrus, coming through MetLife Stadium like a wrecking ball in their 43-8 win over the Denver Broncos, making the No. 1 ranked offense look more like the Icebox and the Little Giants in their first half against the Cowboys from the 1994 motion picture.

Heck, something tells me Goldie Hawn and Levander ‘Bird’ Williams (Mykel T. Williamson) and the Wildcats from the 1986 motion picture could’ve done better than the Broncos did on Sunday.

The Seahawks’ stealth-like defense was simply too fast, and too much for the Broncos, and while the sharp bettors got well, the sports books made a fortune after bettors plunked down a Nevada record $119.4 million on the game, according to figures released Monday by the Gaming Control Board.

Last year’s $98.9 million was the highest in Super Bowl history, and was simply blown away by the allure of quarterback Peyton Manning and the publicly favored Broncos. Attracting nearly 70 percent of the action, overall, the Broncos went from a 1-point underdog at the open after the conference championship games on Jan. 19, to as high as a 2.5-point favorite on Super Bowl Sunday.

The wiseguys – including renowned sports bettor Billy Walters – closed the gap late, taking the Seahawks plus the points, while a fraction of their wagers were on the moneyline. Though the sharps made their fair share, the state’s 183 books held $19.67 million, a win percentage of 16.5.

While weather forecasters predicted a blizzard a year before the big game, and again forecasted snow just a few weeks ago, the total was never really swayed that much from the opening number of 47. In fact, when weather reports revealed there would be clear skies would and temperatures would be in the 40s, the total was bet up, to 48 at some places, settling in at 47.5 just before kickoff. The game landed on 51 points.

Special point spreads on the Seahawks, such as Seattle -14.5, paid big prices for the underdog bettors. Anyone laying -3.5 with Seattle took in +190; if they laid -7.5 the Seahawks paid +360; and anyone thinking blowout, and laying -14.5 points, got +650 with Seattle.

Proposition bettors who took a shot on a safety occurring third-straight year made money just 12 seconds into the game, when the snap sailed by Manning and into the end zone. The “Will there be a safety” prop paid as high as +600 at some places, and +550 at most other spots.

Ironically, 12 seconds into the second half paid another specialty prop, as Seattle’s Percy Harvin raced the length of the field when he returned the second-half kickoff for a touchdown. The odds of him scoring a touchdown in the game were +200. Also paying out on that score was “Will there be a special teams or defensive touchdown,” at +160.

Another prop that paid a decent plus-price was “Will either team score four straight times.” Seattle helped bettors of that prop out at the 12-minute mark of the second quarter, when Marshawn Lynch plunged into the end zone from a yard out to help the Seahawks extend their lead to 14-0. The extra point made it a surprising 15-0, Seattle.

It should come as no surprise after their dominating win, the Super Bowl champion Seahawks are a 5-to-1 favorite to win Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale, Ariz. What is a surprise is that the aging Broncos are second in line, at 7-1. Seattle’s division-rival, San Francisco, is next at 8-1, followed by New England (15-1) and Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints, who are both 20-1. The Houston Texans, who have the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft, are 50-1 to win next year’s Super Bowl, while Jacksonville and Oakland are the longest shots to win a title, at 150-1.

CELEBRITY/ATHLETE/MEDIA POLL – When it was all said and done, 49 people contributed to my annual Celebrity/Athlete/Media poll.

Twenty of those prognosticators correctly picked the Seahawks to win it all, including proud Seattle-native Cindy Brunson, the easy-on-the-eyes former ESPN sports anchor who is now an Analyst/Reporter for Pac-12 Network and Fox Sports. Brunson tweeted me to ask if she had won anything for her correct pick, jokingly of course. I did tell her she had bragging rights for a year for her hometown team, to which she replied: “Right on!” Brunson was all over her Seahawks the entire season, and had been calling for a championship via twitter long before the playoffs.

Others picking the Seahawks in my poll were: Mark Anderson (Las Vegas Review Journal), Paul Anka (Singer/Songwriter), Ray Brewer (Las Vegas Sun), Chet Buchanan, (Las Vegas Radio Personality), Steve Carp (Las Vegas Review Journal), Randall Cunningham (Retired NFL Quarterback), Tim Dahlberg (Associated Press), Sean DeFrank (Vegas 7 Magazine), Will Edwards (Late-night talk-show host, Las Vegas), Ed Graney (Las Vegas Review Journal), Steve Guiremand (MyLVsports.com), Paul Gutierrez (ESPN), Matt Jacob (Vegas 7), Anthony Robles (Former NCAA Wrestling Champion), Jeffrey Seals (UNLV Media Relations), Jerry Stackhouse (Retired NBA All-Star), Danny Webster (UNLV’s Rebel Yell), Roy Wood Jr. (Comedian) and Matt Youmans (Las Vegas Review Journal Sports).

For the complete poll, read my BLOG from last week.