Champ Sunday Question Marks


By: Jeff Yoder

Good Morning,

The countdown to Super Bowl LVII continues, and we have questions (and answers). The Australian Open swings forward and NBA trade season tips off in today’s edition. If the winter blues have you down, don’t stress. We’re nearing the calendar stretch that reads: Super Bowl, All-Star Weekends, March Madness, and The Masters. Spring will be sprung soon enough.

Letter Rip!



Championship Sunday Questions

Photo: Bryan M. Bennett / Getty Images

Answering the Biggest Questions & Concerns for Each Team in the NFC & AFC Title Games


Four teams are still alive in the NFL postseason, and each has big questions heading into Championship Sunday. All four teams have recent success and enough of a resume to make their case for Super Bowl LVII. The 49ers are in the NFC title game for the third time in four years, while the Eagles are 15-1 when Jalen Hurts plays. The Bengals were in the Super Bowl a year ago, and the Chiefs are the host team in the AFC finale for the fifth straight time. From Patrick Mahomes’ health status to Brock Purdy’s readiness for the big moment, here are the biggest questions that need to be answered on Sunday.


Chiefs: Will Mahomes Be 100%?

The Chiefs’ offense is a juggernaut, but the health status of Patrick Mahomes is the biggest question mark this weekend. Mahomes suffered a high-ankle sprain in last week’s win over the Jaguars. He played through it, and he’s proven to be a magician when it comes to big moments. All signs point to him playing on Sunday. But will he be 100 percent? If the answer is no, and Mahomes’ mobility becomes a factor, advantage Bengals. If the answer is yes, it’s a shootout.


Bengals: Can The Defense Do It Again?

By now, everyone knows Joe Burrow will bring his A-game when the lights are the brightest. There’s no question the Bengals will put up points against the Chiefs’ defense. The question is whether or not the Bengals’ defense can stifle Kansas City the same way they did to Buffalo. The Cincinnati defense gave up 30 points just once all season, and they beat the Chiefs in their head-to-head matchup in early December (27-24). Can they hold Mahomes and the Chiefs’ scoring in the low-20s? If the answer is yes, the Bengals will have another shot at the Lombardi Trophy.


Eagles: Can The O-Line Stay Dominant?

Philadelphia has so many weapons at every position that it’s impossible to narrow down their success to the play of one unit. Jalen Hurts has proven to be a baller in big games, and the Eagles’ defense should bring the heat, but Philly’s unsung heroes reside on the offensive line. The best O-line in the NFL — headline by Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson supporting the league’s fiercest rushing attack — is how the Eagles live or die. The 49ers have a tough front seven, and how Philly’s veteran O-line performs will tell the tale. Can the O-line remain dominant against Nick Bosa and Fred Warner? If they can, then “Fly, Eagles, Fly.”


49ers: Will Purdy Survive the Pass Rush?

San Francisco enters Championship Sunday on a 12-game win streak behind a third-string quarterback, and there’s only one question to decide their Super Bowl fate — Brock Purdy. With a potent defense and weapons galore, the 49ers are stacked. However, their 23-year-old quarterback has yet to face the pressure of a road playoff game. He’ll get everything he can handle from the Eagles’ defensive line — a unit that nearly broke the NFL record for sacks in a season (70 total). Purdy has been great, but will he survive (and thrive) against the Philly pass rush? If the answer is yes, the Niners will have a “Purdy good” shot at Super Bowl LVII.


Additional Storylines

ESPN: Judging NFL Playoff Overreactions From the Divisional Round

CBS Sports: Early Look-Ahead to Championship Sunday: Schedule, Odds & More



Quarterfinals Brackets

Photo: Lintao Zhang / Getty Images

The Quarterfinals: Surprise Americans Making Deep Australian Open Runs


The quarterfinals of the Australian Open are underway overnight, and we’ve already seen one player punch her ticket to the semis (#22 Elena Rybakina). The big storyline, though? That’s the number of Americans — and surprise Americans at that — still swinging in Melbourne. While Jessica Pegula is no surprise to reach the quarterfinals, three low-or-no-seeded American men are shocking the world. No. 29 Sebastian Korda took his shot at the semis overnight down under (his match should be wrapped up by this morning’s publish time), while unranked Ben Shelton and Tommy Paul go head-to-head today. At least one American man will reach the semifinals against all odds. Could they do the unthinkable and win it all? Here’s where they stand in Australia as the fields get trimmed to four in the next 24 hours.


Quarterfinals Matchups


Men’s Bracket

#3 S. Tsitsipas vs. J. Lehecka

#4 N. Djokovic vs. #5 A. Rublev

#18 K. Khachanov vs. #29 S. Korda

B. Shelton vs. T. Paul


Women’s Bracket

#3 J. Pegula vs. #24 V. Azarenka

#5 A. Sabalenka vs. D. Vekic

#30 K. Pliskova vs. M. Linette

#22 E. Rybakina def. #17 J. Ostapenko (6-2, 6-4)


Upcoming Schedule

Women’s Semifinals: Wednesday

Men’s Semifinals: Thursday

Women’s Final: Saturday

Men’s Final: Sunday


Additional Storylines

Yahoo! Sports: Ace Rybakina Display Crushes Ostapenko in AUS Open Quarterfinal

Forbes: 3 American Men Reach Australian Open Quarterfinals for 1st Time in Over 20 Years



Trade Season Tips Off

Photo: Stacy Revere / Getty Images

Lakers Acquire Rui Hachimura From Wizards to Kick Off Trade Deadline Season

The first major in-season trade domino has fallen. The Lakers bolstered their shooting and size with the acquisition of 24-year-old forward Rui Hachimura from the Wizards on Monday. L.A. sent Kendrick Nunn and draft picks to Washington. Hachimura gives the Lakers an athletic wing player who provides some 3-point shooting and positional flexibility.


Trade Details

Lakers Get: F Rui Hachimura

Wizards Get: G Kendrick Nunn, Three 2nd-Round Picks


NBA Trade Rumors

Teams Interested in Cam Reddish (Knicks)

Teams Interested in Mike Conley (Jazz)

Teams Interested in Nerlens Noel & Bojan Bogdanovic (Pistons)

Luka Doncic Wants Mavericks to Make Upgrades

Spurs Want Picks for Jakob Poeltl

Raptors Make Gary Trent Jr. Available

Suns Still Shopping Jae Crowder During Holdout


The rumors are swirling with just a few weeks before the deadline. And while we can’t cover all the news before it breaks, expect a busy trade window with roughly 8-10 teams decidedly labeled as “sellers.” More to come…


Additional Storylines

Yahoo! Sports: Lakers Acquire Rui Hachimura from Wizards

B/R: Buy, Sell, Hold: What Each Team Should Do at the 2023 Trade Deadline



College Basketball Polls

Upsets to Houston & Kansas Put Purdue Back on Top; Women’s Poll Sees Historic First


A big shakeup week in the NCAA AP Polls came courtesy of three upsets to last week’s top-five. Houston, Kansas, and UCLA all suffered losses while Texas also tumbled. That means Purdue (19-1) is back on top for the second stint this season. Teams like Tennessee, Kansas State, and Arizona also made big leaps. Meanwhile, the women’s poll has a historic first — zero teams from Texas are ranked in the top 25 for the first time ever. Here are the latest top-10s as we speed toward March Madness.


Men’s AP Top-10

1. Purdue (19-1) | ↑2

2. Alabama (17-2) | ↑2

3. Houston (18-2) | ↓2

4. Tennessee (16-3) | ↑5

5. Kansas State (17-2) | ↑8

6. Arizona (17-3) | ↑5

7. Virginia (15-3) | ↑3

8. UCLA (17-3) | ↓3

9. Kansas (16-4) | ↓7

10. Texas (16-3) | ↓3

Men’s AP Top 25


Women’s AP Top-10

1. South Carolina (20-0) | —

2. Ohio State (19-1) | —

3. Stanford (19-2) | ↑1

4. LSU (20-0) | ↓1

5. UConn (18-2) | —

6. Indiana (18-1) | —

7. Notre Dame (16-2) | —

8. UCLA (17-3) | ↑1

9. Utah (16-2) | ↓1

10. Iowa (16-4) | —

Women’s AP Top 25


Additional Storylines

FOX Sports: NCAA Tournament Bubble Teams

SI: Women’s AP Poll Has No Texas Teams for the First Time Ever



🏀 NBA: Giannis Powers Bucks in Return

Among the NBA’s Monday night highlights was Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton’s return to the lineup for Milwaukee. Giannis went for 29 points and 12 boards in his first action in almost two weeks while Middleton had eight points in limited minutes. The Bucks hung 150 on the Pistons in regulation (150-130).


🏒 NHL: Flames Spoil Gaudreau’s Return to Calgary

Johnny Gaudreau made his first return trip to Calgary after leaving the Flames for the Blue Jackets in the offseason, and the home fans made sure to let him hear about it. He registered two assists, but Dillon Dube netted the winning goal in the final minutes of overtime for the Flames (4-3, OT).


⚽️ SOCCER: Mbappe Nets 5 in PSG Outburst

Paris Saint-Germain opened their French Cup pursuit with a blistering 7-0 shutout against Pays de Cassel on Monday when Kylian Mbappe erupted for five goals, including a 12-minute hat trick in the first half.


🏀 NCAA Basketball Scoreboard

M: #17 Baylor def. #9 Kansas (75-69)

W: #6 Indiana def. #13 Michigan (92-83)

W: #10 Iowa def. #2 Ohio State (83-72)*

*Iowa’s Caitlin Clark Records 28-15-10 Triple Double



🏀 NBA Power Rankings

The Celtics reclaimed the No. 1 spot from the Nuggets this weekend, while the 76ers and Kings entered the top five. Watch out for a handful of streaking squads on the rise. (CBS Sports)


⚾️ The 2023 Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot

The Baseball Writers’ Association of America will announce the results of this year’s election live from Cooperstown today at 6 p.m. ET on MLB Network. (ESPN)


🥊 Floyd’s Next Fight

Floyd Mayweather Jr. is getting back in the ring. The retired boxer is set to face Aaron Chalmers in an exhibition bout on Feb. 25 at the O2 Arena in London. (Bleacher Report)