Mr. Sports: NFL playoffs providing plenty of excitement

By Bob Labbe

We’re just two games away from the 2013 Super Bowl.

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The NFL’s Conference Championships are this Sunday with winners advancing to Super Bowl 47 scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 3 with kickoff at 5:30 p.m. and broadcast on CBS (Channel 19).

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After two blowouts and two classic endings in last weekend’s games I’m not sure how good the conference title games will be. What superb finishes we had with Baltimore edging Denver in double overtime and Atlanta racing to a victory in the final seconds of their game against Seattle.

Let’s look at this Sunday’s match ups:

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The San Francisco 49ers travel to Atlanta to face the Falcons in the NFC Championship Game (2 p.m.-Channel 54). The last five games of the regular season saw the Falcons escape with their tails playing lackluster defense and its offense not clicking like it did the first two-thirds of the season. As for the 49ers, they are the hottest team in the NFL and look as awesome as any team we’ve seen this season. With quarterback Colin Kaepernick making waves beyond belief, the 49ers look to be the favorite even playing on the road in Hotlanta.

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In the AFC Championship, the New England Patriots host the Baltimore Ravens (5:30 p.m.-Channel 19). The game is virtually a match up between two quarterbacks. Joe Flacco will bring his visiting Ravens into the game against the Patriots led by Tom Brady. I believe the Patriots have the upper hand, especially at home.

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So my picks for the Super Bowl 47 are New England versus San Francisco; a west coast-east coast showdown. The latest odds have the 49ers a 4.5-point favorite over the Falcons and the Ravens a 9-point underdog to the Patriots.

Academy Sports

I’ve had numerous people ask me what the heck is being built at the intersection of Highway 72 and Nance Road. The answer is a new location for Academy Sports+Outdoors. The 72,000 square-foot store is expected to open in April, but recent weather may push that back a couple weeks.

Academy Sports+Outdoors is known for having 150 stores throughout the South and specializes in just about everything sports related. The original idea for a similar store can be traced back to 1938 when founder Max Gochman opened Academy Tire Shop in San Antonio, Texas. Sports and outdoors items were included in 1980. The current name of the store came about in 1995.

Huntsville Havoc

Our local boys on ice get back to the confines of the Von Braun Center this Thursday and Saturday with home matches beginning at 7:30 p.m. each night.

On Thursday, it’s Hockey Night in Huntsville with $2 parking, drinks and food items. On Saturday, the Havoc host the Adult Jersey Night with the first 1,500 fans age 13 and older receiving a free Havoc jersey, compliments of TOC Sports and WAFF48.

After hitting the road again, the Havoc will return home Jan. 25 and 26.

Madison Academy Guests

The campus of Madison Academy High School on Slaughter Road has certainly been abuzz the last couple of weeks with visits from two very special guests. A couple weeks ago, newly named Auburn head football coach, Gus Malzahn, made a stop to visit the Mustangs’ school. This week, Alabama’s Nick Saban confirmed he’s back on the recruiting trail by stopping by the private school for a visit. Both coaches stopped by to speak with football standouts Kerryon Johnson, Taylor Ziak and Frank Williams.

With Johnson just finishing his sophomore season of football as an All-State selection at running back, he’s being recruited by many teams, although he has two years remaining with the Mustangs. So far, he’s proven to be a special player with many schools showing an interest in this 6-foot-1, 195-pound speedster.