BOSTON (CBS) — The New England Patriots are Super Bowl champions, sending a euphoric feeling around the streets of Boston and beyond.
The celebration of the Patriots’ fourth Super Bowl title will continue throughout the year, but concluded for the team Wednesday afternoon when they pulled into City Hall Plaza.
And with that, football is over. Sure, the draft combine and draft itself are just a few months away, but the only football we’ll see on TV is replays of games in which we already know the outcome. While that’s fun to do occasionally (we won’t argue if you have Super Bowl XLIX on a continuous loop for the next month), it will never match that feeling you get watching a game live, on the edge of your seat. Even if it’s just a regular season game, not much can match watching football.
But alas, here we are. Winter isn’t just coming anymore; it’s here. And so is that bleak time on the calendar when football doesn’t take up every Sunday… or Monday… or Thursday.
What is one left to do? Converse with family? Get out and do some physical activity? Maybe read a book? Sure, you could do all those. But in the sports world, nothing will match what was witnessed by billions of eyes last Sunday night.
So while we count down the days to OTAs and training camp, here are a few options to help pass the time.
Bruins Playoff Push
Sure the Bruins weren’t that good early in the season. At points it was downright dangerous to watch if you had high blood pressure or a heart condition (not that the Super Bowl wasn’t).
But the Bruins have turned things around ever since Charlie Jacobs called them out on January 6, going 8-2-1 since he said it would be “unacceptable” for the team to miss the playoffs. They have climbed out of the bottom of the Eastern Conference, and currently sit in the second wild card spot.
The defense is playing better in front of Tuukka Rask, who has looked more like a Vezina winner as of late. David Pasternak is a young rookie to watch, and with Zdeno Chara and David Krejci healthy the Bruins have been having success despite not having a set trio on their top line. Peter Chiarelli will likely find help for that by the March 3 trade deadline, and the Bruins are looking good to make another playoff push — and potential run in the postseason.
The Celtics may even make a playoff push themselves, but that’s mostly due to the fact the Eastern Conference is hot garbage this season.
“Tankapolooza” hasn’t resurfaced (yet), and hopefully it doesn’t. So instead of wishing for the losses to pile up, there are some young and exciting players to keep an eye on for the final months of the regular season.
Marcus Smart is back in the starting lineup, and has been showing some steady progress throughout his rookie campaign. The No. 6 overall pick has shown his defense is already NBA ready, and his penchant for attacking the basket — and trying to finish rather than pass out — is a welcome sight. We may never see a passer like Rajon Rondo again, but Smart’s progress the rest of the way is worth monitoring.
James Young is also expected to get some more playing time throughout the rest of the season, as the Celtics want to see what the No. 17 overall pick can do in the NBA. Young has been tearing it up in Maine every time he’s been sent to the D-League, and now we’ll see if that carries over. This kid could turn into a prolific scorer, but he will need some time to develop.
Chances are Danny Ainge will pawn off some of his expiring contracts ahead of the February 19 trade deadline, like Brandon Bass, Marcus Thornton and Tayshaun Prince, so more opportunities will open up for younger players in the near future.
Patience is the key when watching the Celtics this season. Just realize that anything you’re watching is building for the future.
Here Comes Baseball
If the Red Sox continue their recent trend, they’ll be World Series champs come October.
Boston finished dead last in the AL East last season, which they did in 2012 before winning it all in 2013. So forget the fact they don’t have an ace in the rotation, this is their year!
Sure the season takes forever, but at least the start of spring training means that spring isn’t very far away. Everyone’s favorite day, Truck Day, is just a week away, and pitchers and catchers report next Saturday. So baseball is close. Very, very close.
While the questions remain in regards to their rotation, Boston’s bullpen remains strong. They also added some pop to their lineup in Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez, and the progress of Xander Bogaerts is always worth monitoring. It will also be interesting to see where Rusney Castillo fits into Boston’s outfield.
The Red Sox should be a focused bunch this spring after their last-place finish in 2014. And if you’re half as excited as Dan Roche, the thought of baseball should keep you warm to some extent.
We have just over a month until we fill out brackets, and this college hoops season has been a very entertaining one so far.
As far as the regular season goes, Kentucky is on a quest to go undefeated. They’ve played some close games throughout, but still have an unblemished record with just over a month to go.
Most of the big Top 25 matchups don’t happen until the first week of March, just before the conference tournaments, but on any given Saturday or Sunday chances are you’ll find an entertaining game or two (or three or four) on the airwaves. And when the conference tourneys get underway, college basketball becomes must-watch TV for any hoop head.
While some of the local teams are struggling (Boston College is just 9-12 and 1-8 in ACC play; BU 9-13, 5-6 in Patriot), Northeastern is atop the CAA 8-3 conference record and are 16-8 overall. Harvard is still in the Ivy League mix at 4-1 in conference play and 14-5 overall (one game behind Yale), and UMass is in striking distance in the A-10 at 13-9 and 6-3 in conference play.
A little further south, Providence is currently second in the Big East at 7-3 (a game behind No. 7 Villanova) and 17-6 overall. The Friars are led by senior forward LaDontae Henton, who is in the Top 15 in scoring at 20.2 points per game. The defending champion UConn Huskies are struggling after losing seniors Shabazz Napier, Niels Giffey and junior DeAndre Daniels, sitting at 12-9 and 5-4, but the American Conference tournament will be on their home court so they’re still a threat to make the field of 64.
It’s about a month until the real madness begins, but if you want to start studying up for your bracket, now would be a good time to jump aboard.
Frozen Four In Boston
If college basketball isn’t your thing, the Frozen Four is heading to Boston this year.
College hockey takes over the city with the Frozen Four on April 9 and the title game two days later on April 11. There’s a good chance the No. 3 ranked Boston University Terriers and future NHL star Jack Eichel will be playing at least one of those games, but then again, we know what happens when the schedule turns into bracket form.
If you can’t make it to the Frozen Four, there is still some tournament hockey to be played around New England. From March 27-29, there are also regional games to be played at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island and Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, New Hampshire.
And in the meantime, the Beanpot Final is set for Monday, with Northeaster taking on Boston University at the Garden for all the beans in Boston.
Lots Of Good TV… We Think
We’re pretty sure there are some good shows out there to watch, but we’ve been preoccupied with football for the last few months. If the same applies to you, here are some programs to watch on the previously designated pigskin days/nights.
Thursday nights, of course, features The Big Bang Theory on CBS/WBZ-TV. CBS is also bringing back The Odd Couple, which begins February 19 following Big Bang.
We also hear that other networks have some good shows on, but you’re on your own for that.
Sunday afternoons now make way to the NBA and NHL, but there are probably plenty of good home renovation shows out there (you know, what people who don’t watch football were watching while everyone else was glued to Red Zone in your man cave). But CBS also had a new show coming out Sunday night, and it’s from the guy who brought you Breaking Bad. Battle Creek is a new police drama, and will air Sunday night’s at 10pm starting March 1.
And if you’re still missing Walter White and Jesse Pinkman every Sunday night (we feel your pain), Better Call Saul starts Sunday night on AMC with a two-night premiere. Of course, if you want your Bryan Cranston fix (and his Esurance commercial isn’t doing it for you anymore), you can always go on a BB binge on Netflix.
For you premium cable subscribers, or those who have a generous relative with an HBO Go password, Game Of Thrones returns on April 12. The Wire is now in HD, so you can rewatch all that fun in high definition, or experience it for the first time. If you need a good laugh to fill that football void, Last Week Tonight With John Oliver is must watch TV, and is back this weekend. And there’s always the Curb Your Enthusiasm catalog to check out, if you can handle the never-ending jackassery of Larry David and company.
So there you have it. Football is gone, but there is plenty to keep you occupied until the defending Super Bowl champs return to Gillette in the middle of summer for Training Camp. Whether you’re a fan of hockey or basketball, college or pros, or just men standing around a baseball field while you’re stuck shoveling, there is a little something for everyone.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a Super Bowl to rewatch. Again.