Friday, January 18, 2013


PEOPLE! After a long 119 days, the National Hockey League is back in business! Unlike the 2004-2005 lockout which cancelled the entire season, the new season is slated to start this Saturday with a 48-game season. Unfortunately, the game has lots of rebuilding to do. The already-shaky fanbase is at its all-time low. Many people don't even consider hockey as one of the major sports played in America anymore. No knock to the MLS (well sort of), but the NHL is headed to the bottom cellar unless there's a revival of sorts.

40-year old Jaromir Jagr is still going strong!

But, I will still stay loyal to a game I fell in love with while I was in elementary (thank you, antenna television). I'm excited to see the game return to many cities that desperately need some of sports action. I'm excited for the old veterans in the league that still have a passion to play the game. I'm excited for all the young up-and-comers who are aching to showcase something that people will be shelling out money for. In the end, I'm most excited for one thing....

So let's get it on, baby! May this season bring a sense of joy and excitement that once gripped me as a kid.

In the meantime, please enjoy the closest thing to hockey I had.

Photo and videos courtesy of and

Friday, January 11, 2013

NFL 2013 Divisional Round Predictions


Denver Broncos vs. Baltimore Ravens

Ravens won an emotional game in dominate fashion and their reward is a short week and a game in one of the hardest stadiums to play in. This isn’t Ray Lewis’ last home game, but it is Peyton Manning’s return to the playoffs. Peyton seems to have the Raven’s number, Peyton has had faced the Ravens 10 times and walked away victorious 8 of those times. The last match up came up this season in week 15 when Peyton picked apart a banged up Raven defense. This match up should be a little different; the Ravens are healthier and there is much high stakes. Ravens are one of the most battle tested teams in the playoffs, and no stage will be too big. They will need to run the ball and control possession if they want a chance at winning this game.

I think this game will be more competitive than the first game around, but Peyton will put the game away with a late touchdown to dash the Raven’s hope of an upset. We saw last year how difficult it was to win in the Mile High City of Denver, the heavy favored Steelers lacked the energy and punch on a winter night in Denver.

Prediction: Denver Broncos 31-20

New England Patriots vs. Houston Texans

Last time Houston was in Massachusetts in week 14 they took a beating that changed many people’s perceptions of the untested Houston Texans. Texans have been on a tail spin while the Patriots are in the same position they seem to be every year. The Patriots are beatable at home in the playoffs, the New York Jets proved that two years ago, and also showed us that a regular season blow out can mean absolutely nothing. The Texans need to remind themselves that they do have the talent to beat the Patriots. This Patriot defense continues to improve, but is far from elite. Foster needs to get a large amount of touches, while the rest of the offense must sustain long drives. Houston Texan defense also needs to stop more than just the first option, against top quarterbacks this year they are 2-1. They won a shot out with Peyton Manning early in the season, in which Peyton still completed over 330 years passing. This defense seems to struggle against quarterbacks that can spread it around to multiple options. This offense also doesn’t seem to be built to win from behind.

I am going to go with the Patriots, but believe it will be a close one for most of the game. I think Brady is still too good for this inexperienced Texan team, and with the return of Gronkowski only means more mismatches against the Houston defense. I also think Belichick has finally whipped this young defense into shape, and we should see less mistakes and big plays given up with each game they play.

 Prediction: New England Patriots 31-24


Atlanta Falcons vs. Seattle Seahawks

The last time the Atlanta Falcons were in this situation we saw Aaron Rodgers put on a quarterbacking clinic in the Georgia Dome. It prompted announcers to declare the game the biggest butt kicking the city of Atlanta took since the Civil War. Maybe this is why none of the Gym Class All Star writers but Albert picked Atlanta to advance past this Divisional round. Seattle Seahawks are physical in nature and attitude, while the Falcons have a reputation of not living up to the big stage. If this doesn't motivate the Falcons to play the best football of their life, I don’t think anything else could. By far the Falcons are the most disrespected one seed in NFL playoff history. The key match up on this game has to be the large defensive backs of the Seahawks against the two stud wide receivers of the Falcons. Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner against Julio Jones and Roddy White should be exciting; rarely would you see two defensive backs have a height advantage against two top wide receivers.

I too am a doubter of the Atlanta Falcons, after seeing them find regular season success and flop in the playoffs. Even Russell Wilson a rookie has more playoff wins than Matt Ryan with his victory last week. I believe that the hype around Seattle is deserved, and this might be the time where the dark horse label is warranted. Seattle seems to have beaten down the Redskins physically last week, and never showed panic after going down 14 in the first quarter. Nor did they let momentum shift when Marshawn Lynch fumbled on the goal line. As much as it pains me to say Seattle is for real, and the league better take notice.   

Prediction: Seattle Seahawks 27-17

San Francisco 49ers vs. Green Bay Packers

The last of the 3 rematches in this round’s playoffs, yet this one might have the least relevance. The Packers and 49ers faced off in week one with the Packers losing a close one to a then Alex Smith led 49ers. Becoming a Packer fan in 1995 the first four playoffs I watched included a Packer and 49ers match up. I thought the Packers could never lose to the 49ers, which didn’t happen till the last of the four match ups in 1999. It has been awhile since both franchises were Super Bowl contenders, but I have a feeling we will be seeing another string of Packers and 49er playoff games in the years to come. 49ers will need their quarterback to grow up quickly as the Packer defense starts to look more comfortable and return to their 2011 playoff form. They will need steady production from Frank Gore to free Colin Kapernick to be able to operate without too much pressure. Another big storyline will have to be the fact Rodgers is returning to the area his grew up in and played college ball. In addition it’s against the team that over looked him and took now second string quarterback Alex Smith. Aaron Rodgers might never admit it, but I am sure he hasn’t forgotten.

The most important match up in this game is the 49er defense verse Aaron Rodgers. The Packers run game has improved, but is still a direct product of how much defenses respect Rodgers to use all of his weapons. The packers have well over 7 guys that can make a difference catching the ball, and it seems like every week Aaron Rodgers has been able to spread it around. As a fan I have too much faith in this Packer offense to not pick them. Like always this pick is very bias, so please keep that in consideration.

Prediction: Green Bay Packers 24-19

Point totals from NFL 2013 Bracket Predictions:
Wild Card Point Potential: 4 Points
Divisional Round Point Potential: 8 Points
AFC/NFC Championship Point Potential: 6 Points
Super Bowl Point Potential: 4 Points

Albert Nyguyen: 2 points - Potential total: 20
Jonathan Lau: 1 points - Potential total: 17
Steven Wang: 3 points - Potential total: 21
Phil Vuong: 1 points - Potential total: 10
Norman Leung: 2 points - Potential total: 18
Jonathan Mok: 4 points - Potential total: 22
Peter Wang: 3 points - Potential total: 19
Andrew Chow: 2 points - Potential total: 13
Andrew Leu: 4 points - Potential total: 22
Caleb Li: 4 points - Potential total: 22

Monday, January 7, 2013

NFL 2013 Wild Card Prediction Recap

Wild Card weekend ended up pretty boring in my opinion, most of the games were never that competitive or had a real chance of going either way as the game came to a close. When it comes to my predictions I got a solid 3 of 4, or actually a perfect 4* in my official Gym Class All Star NFL playoff bracket, I made a last minute change after Ray Lewis’ announcement that he was retiring. It made Sunday’s game Ray’s last game in Baltimore.


Houston Texans vs. Cincinnati Bengals

This had to be one of worst display of quarterback play in postseason history. No one could get their offense going, and with 6 field goals and only one offensive touchdown between the two teams this game was hard to watch. Bengals offense was embarrassing, Dalton seemed to be missing open receivers all night, and Jermaine Gresham seemed to be dropping every decent pass Dalton made. I believe Houston will end up playing better next week, but they left a lot to be desired this past Saturday.
Houston will need to continue relying on Arian Foster
Prediction: Houston Texans 27-10 
Actual: Houston Texans 19-13 

Baltimore Ravens vs. Indianapolis Colts

Ray Lewis. I am not here to make an argument for momentum, or the emotional mind game. The fact is this team hasn’t been playing well without Ray Lewis. He came back, excited the fans and his teammates and dominated the Indianapolis Colts. It is hard to image that the Ravens could survive two fumbles by Ray Rice, although Rice may have outweighed his mistakes with a few spectacular runs. Flacco proved he has the ability to win in the big game once again. The question now is if the world will give him any respect? My guess is no.
Ray Lewis' pregame entrance
Prediction: Indianapolis Colts 24-16
Actual: Baltimore Ravens 24-9 


Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings

I thought this was going to be closer, but looking back I think I was just a paranoid fan. Saturday was an example of the same ole Vikings. Phil Vuong said it the best to me this weekend, “Everyone in the NFC North except the Packers shoot themselves in the foot (i.e. Bears, Vikings, and Lions).” In the end losing Ponder ended up being a big deal. Webb looked overwhelmed and incapable to lead his team. I was disappointed that the Vikings didn't try running the option read with Webb and Adrian Peterson more in the game. It would have been great practice just in case the Packers end up getting to face the Seahawks in the NFC Championship game, but clearly I am getting ahead of myself.
John Kuhn was Saturday's unsung hero
Prediction: Green Bay Packers 31-27
Actual: Green Bay Packers 24-10

Washington Redskin vs. Seattle Seahawks 

This game was the most entertaining game this past weekend, but by no means was it that great. Things seemed to go south quickly as RGIII continued to break down after two impressive early drives in the game. Seattle was too big, strong, and consistent for the Redskins to keep up. If you didn't realize before, now you know the Seahawks are for real. They didn't panic when they were down two touchdowns in the first quarter, and continued to stick to their game plan of running the ball and letting Russell Wilson make smart decisions. Marshawn Lynch was the clear MVP and more than made up for his fumble by recovering Russell's fumble and turning it into a huge gain.If you want to believe in teams getting hot for the playoffs this would be this year’s version of the 2011 Giants.
"The Scope" by Marshawn Lynch
Prediction: Seattle Seahawks 24-21 
Actual: Seattle Seahawks 24-14

Photos courtesy of USA Today, Mike Roemer/AP, Gene Sweeney Jr./Baltimore Sun, and Getty Image.

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Huddle: 2013 NFL Playoffs

NFL Playoffs are here, and 10 of the GCAS writers make their picks and answer a few simple questions about the upcoming playoffs.

Full Playoff Bracket Predictions.

Albert Nguyen:
Jonathan Lau:
Steven Wang:
Phil Voung:
Norman Leung:
Jonathan Mok:
Peter Wang:
Andrew Chow:
Andrew Leu:
Caleb Li:

Who will win the Superbowl and why?

Albert Nguyen: Denver will win because the NFL is fixed and there is no way Eli will have more rings than Peyton. The defense is very opportunistic and playing well. The weapons that Peyton has at his disposal are talented -- but more importantly, they are disciplined and have bought into the system.

Jonathan Lau: New England will win because I am a homer. It would be nice to beat the Packers to exact some revenge for Super Bowl XXXI.

Steven Wang: Houston some what has history on its side. Indy and NO both won their Super Bowls going into the playoffs having lost their last 2 or 3 games. While the playoffs its all about matchups, all you need is a team to get hot and Houston is more than capable of doing it. I will put Houston on upset alert tho against Cincy. More below

Phil Vuong: Seattle, because they are cheaters. 

Norman Leung: Green Bay will pull it out.

Jonathan Mok: I got the Texans winning the Super Bowl because the entire city of Houston is relying on this team ala the Rockets in 1994. Everybody is repping that red, white, and that blue, and championship windows don't stay open forever. I have never been a huge fan of Kubiak, but I am hoping that our skid into the playoffs will cause him to rethink his playcalling and open up the playbook a tiny bit so that everyone in the stadium won't know exactly when he'll draw up his patented draw play. The league knows all about JJ Watt now, but keep an ear out for Whitney Mercilus in the playoffs. As far as the offense is concerned, I hope Matt Schaub and Owen Daniels got together over new year's to run some routes because that connection will be key going forward. 

Peter Wang: The only way to complete the storyline is for Peyton to win it all this year. Also, it's only fitting that we get another Manning v Brady in the AFC championship game.

Jen Tsou: Is this like the one office chick who picks based on team colors or better weather... I predict San Francisco vs New England in Super Bowl. I can't walk through the reasons. Call it woman's intuition.

Andrew Chow: Denver will win the super bowl to complete the whole Peyton returns arch/story line.

Andrew Leu: The two hottest teams ending the season (Denver and Seattle) but I gotta go with the resurgence of Peyton. Guy knows how to lead the troops and looks healthy. 

Caleb Li: Since I completely made my bracket as a bias fan, I am going to remove the Packers as a possible choice for this question. I think the team with the most upside has to be Seattle, but I think they will find it hard to win four tough games in a row. I believe winning home field advantage was huge for the Broncos, it forces New England to have to play in the high altitude in Denver. Because of that I have them making it to the Superbowl, and really can you have Peyton lose in his hometown of New Orleans?! I doubt it. So I would have to pick the Broncos if i couldn't do my fan boy pick of the Packers.

Who was the biggest surprise team to make the playoffs?

Albert Nguyen: Biggest surprise team = Indianapolis Colts. They were 2-14 last year. With the addition of Andrew Luck, the Colts had a 9-game turnaround. That is absurd.

Jonathan Lau: Vikings - Christian Ponder?! Also, they probably should've been eliminated by the Texans in Week 16.

Steven Wang: Biggest surprise team = Washington Redskins. Playing in the NFC East can be quite challenging. You got the defending champs, enigmatic cowboys and eagles and not to mention you are starting a rookie QB and RB and backup QB. Indy is close second but Washington coming out on top surprised me more. Luck will win ROY in my opinion though

Phil Vuong: Seattle, because they are cheaters.

Norman Leung: Vikings, Washington, Indianapolis. Didn't expect this crop of rookies and 2nd years to turnaround teams this quickly

Jonathan Mok: Biggest surprise team has to be the Seattle Seahawks. I was a big fan of Russell Wilson in college, but for him to enter the NFL, win a starting job in training camp, and propel this team back to the playoffs has been a joy to behold. I'm not taking anything away from the Seattle defense, but this kid has displayed a maturity well beyond his years.

Peter Wang: Biggest surprise team = Minnesota Vikings. All Day has been carrying the whole team's offense, and for him to do it after knee surgery has been nothing short of amazing.

Andrew Chow: Biggest surprise team = Indianapolis Colts. Because they sucked last year.

Andrew Leu: Biggest surprise - Minnesota. Didn't hear much hoopla before the season. Even the first quarter of the season, the talk was about the packers and bears. The vikes played the most consistnent w Ponder at the helm. He has been solid and AP did his thing.

Caleb Li: Biggest surprise team has to be the Colts, everyone thought this year was going to be a tough one for Andrew Luck. Even the great Peyton Manning didn't come close to making the post season his first year in the league. The Colts looked awful last year, clearly the surprise of the year.

Which player is going to break out this postseason? 

Albert Nguyen: Break out player = Any Green Bay wide receiver.

Jonathan Lau: Stevan Ridley - assuming my bracket holds, Ridley could have some nice matchups against Indianapolis (29th ranked rushing defense) and Green Bay (17th ranked rushing defense). I think the Pats are going to need some balance on offense instead of being fully dependent on Brady like the last two Super Bowl failures.

Steven Wang: Upset Alert - Rather than a breakout player, I'm going to focus on a Cincy and their matchup with Houston.  Having home field helps but having lost 3 out of 4 games and their lone win barely over Indy does not bode well. Cincy has also gone 7-1 since starting 3-5 and their lone loss was to the cowboys on a last second FG.  If there is one team I don't want Houston to play, its Cincy. They have zero expectations and primed for upset. Would not see be surprised if they make it to AFC title game

Phil Vuong: Those cheaters on Seattle, Browner and Sherman 

Norman Leung: RGIII - it's going to be a rough next few years watching him play (from a Giants fan perspective) 

Jonathan Mok: Put your horns up for this year's break-out player: Earl Thomas. RG3 may be the storyline, but ET may be the ending of this weekend's Redskins/Seahawks matchup. Look for Earl to be flying all over the field in both run support up at the line and pass defense in the secondary. And if/when Seattle makes it to the next round to face Atlanta, you know Matt Ryan will leave a couple passes up for grabs. Hook 'em.

Peter Wang: Break out player = If there are still people out there who don't believe in Russell Wilson, then his postseason run should remove all doubts of him being a tier 1 quarterback.

Andrew Chow: Break out player = AP dominates til the very end

Andrew Leu: Breakout postseason player - Russell Wilson. He'll be cool calm and collective throughout the playoffs (I really hope Seattle gets past the wildcard...). But I'm a fan of wilson. The offense suits him well and he's been making great decisions. Seattle is in good hands for the next decade.

Caleb Li: I am going to have to go with Casey Hayward, the defensive back on the Green Bay Packers. Not many people know who he is, but he is the reason this team was even able to turn the season around after losing Charles Woodson to injury. Like Sam Shields in 2010, I see Casey being the key to giving the Packer defense the flexibility to move Woodson around and bring him on different blitz packages.

Which team(s) should have made the playoff? 

Albert Nguyen: Teams who should have made the playoffs = Bears, Giants, Cowboys. Chicago won 10 games, but finished 3rd in their division. New York went 1-3 against the AFC North and 3-5 on the road overall. That is not going to cut it. Dallas, enough said.

Jonathan Lau: Bears - should've held off Seahawks at home in Week 13, which probably would've sealed up the playoff spot.

Steven Wang: Teams who should have made the playoffs = Bears just got unlucky and ran into Minnesota and GB, twice unfortunately. Lions no joke either. Tough draw for Lovie this year. 

Phil Vuong: Cowboys, but they got Romo'ed. 

Norman Leung: Bears (injuries), Giants and Steelers (couldn't pull out the close games)

Jonathan Mok: With the NFC East in disarray, this was the year that the Cowboys could have snatched the opportunity to make a postseason run. But yet again, when it was all said and done, the Boys left their millions of fans with millions of what-ifs. 

Peter Wang: Teams who should have made the playoffs = Pittsburgh Steelers. Losing Ben in week 12 and 13 proved too much for the team to overcome, not to mention their running back dilemma and defense injuries to stars Polamalu and Ike. 

Andrew Chow: Teams who should have made the playoffs = Dallas Cowboys. Injuries can't be a real excuse since all teams lose starters, but injuries ruined the Cowboys chances. Jerry Jones has promised changes....Cowboys will make the playoffs next season for sure. 

Andrew Leu: Teams that should have been in the playoffs - giants and bears. Both fizzled at the end after a solid first half.

Caleb Li: Giants, short and simple they are a championship quality team that is too lazy to care in the regular season. This time they woke up too late, or maybe it was just the fact that the Redskins were able to just win more. 9-7 should never be good enough for the playoffs and the 2011 Giants just got lucky.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Wild-Card Weekend Predictions


Houston Texans vs. Cincinnati Bengals
This is a rematch of last year’s wildcard game, and should pan out to be a decent game. The Texans are playing their worst football of the year, while the Bengals are coming in hot after two impressive division wins against the Ravens and Steelers. Houston still has a ton to prove even with the playoff win last year. The Texans have yet to win a big game that matter this year, with losses to both the Packers and Patriots in primetime statement games. Also they could have locked in the bye and avoid having the possibility of going to New England for round two. Bengals have years of failed results to overcome, and this team may have already overcome too many demons in one season with a huge win to knock the Steelers out of playoff contention.
Dalton better be ready for a high dose of JJ Watt.
Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. I picked the Bengals last year, and I will not be making that mistake again. Houston is clearly missing Brian Cushing and it is beginning to show. Also Matt Schaub is still has much to prove, especially with weapons like Andre Johnson and Arian Foster. There is just nothing special about the Bengals, besides AJ Green I don’t see any game changers on this roster. I believe J.J. Watt will be a difference maker in this game and propel the Texans to the next round.

Prediction: Houston Texans 27-10

Baltimore Ravens vs. Indianapolis Colts

Colts return to where it all began, to face a less intimidating Baltimore defense compared to years past. Colts have to be the feel good team of the year, and Andrew Luck has proven to be ready for the big stage. No one that isn’t a Colts fan thought the Colts would make it this far, but they continue to find ways to win. On the other side the Ravens have struggled of late, and have no quality wins against a playoff team since week 3 against the Patriots. Ravens have limped into the playoffs, but still have the experience most teams don’t. I think if Ray Lewis can go for this game, it could have a huge impact, even if he is limited in what he can do. Football is a very emotional game, and I believe both teams will bring that to this game.
Chuck needs to figure out how to stop the defense he coached last season.
Right now it is hard to pick against a team that just got their coach Chuck Pagano back after a battle with cancer. The Colts are riding high after winning against Houston last week in a game that the Texans actually needed more than they did. Colts can be beat; I just think the Ravens are a little too banged up this year to get it done. It will fall on the shoulders of the Raven offense to keep up and I just don’t see Joe Flacco rising to the occasion.

Prediction: Indianapolis Colts 24-16


Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings
Playing the same team back to back is never ideal for either team. The only difference now is that the game will be played outdoors in the cold weather of Green Bay. This just might be a bigger advantage for the Minnesota Vikings. Aaron Rodgers has still never won a playoff game at Lambeau Field and has struggled in the only two playoff games he has played in the cold (game verse Giants at Green Bay 2012 and verse the Bears in Chicago 2011). The Packers offense is clicking, but the defense still seems suspect at times. I am hoping for a solid return from Charles Woodson that will stabilize the young secondary. On the other side we can expect a ton of Adrian Peterson “All Day” throughout the game. It is a shame Adrian Peterson fell short of the record by nine yards, and I expect him to take that frustration out on the Packer defense. Minnesota has been on a must win run since week 14 and is similar to what the Giants and Packers did the last two year.
Packers will need to figure out how to stop AP.
As a Packer fan I have no choice to pick the Green Bay Packers, although I think this is going to be much 
closer than many think. The only difference the Vikings won’t be able to continue their late season success like the last two Super Bowl winners is the fact that their quarterback Christian Ponder is downright awful. Packers need to figure out how to contain Adrian Peterson, and learn to have that high power offense click outdoors. In the end I have to go with the Packers to once again break hearts in Minnesota.

Prediction: Green Bay Packers 31-27

Washington Redskin vs. Seattle Seahawks

This is going to an intense battle between rookie quarterbacks, with both playing at a very high level late into the season. Quality coached teams, with creative play calling, and a solid and powerful running game on both sides. In many ways these teams are very similar; both of their quarterbacks are mobile but also have the accuracy and strength to throw the ball effectively. Alfred Morris and Marshawn Lynch are two the most consistent running backs this season. The key difference is going to be the Seattle defense. From top to bottom this just might be the best defense playing this weekend. Their defensive backs are physical and have the height of most top receivers. Their front seven find ways to bring pressure, which will be the key in stopping RG3.
At least one of these rookies will get their first playoff win.
I personally can’t stand Seattle after the fail Mary, and I find it frustrating how they have become the darlings of this year’s playoffs. With that I have to say I fear this team more than any other, they have an arrogant nature around them that gives them the swagger needed to win in this league. That same arrogance rubs me the wrong way and grows my dislike for Pete Carroll. With that all said, I believe that Seattle’s defense makes the difference and ends Robert Griffin III’s amazing season.

Prediction: Seattle Seahawks 24-21

Photos courtesy of NFL, Karen Warren, Houston Chronicle, AP Photo/AJ Mast