NFL PLAYOFF PREVIEW: Gridiron's greatest show gets underway

This season's Chicago Bears have now produced one of the finest defensive runs in a generation (or since the last great Bears defense of 1985.) (AFP)
Updated 02 January 2019

NFL PLAYOFF PREVIEW: Gridiron's greatest show gets underway

LONDON: So, it has finally arrived — the business end of any NFL season. As exciting and intriguing as the regular season can be, the playoffs always pique the interest of fans. And they always throw up gridiron of the highest quality and games that live long in the memory. Now that we know the teams that are left gunning for Super Bowl glory, Arab News offers up some predictions for this weekend’s Wild card round.



Houston Texans vs. Indianapolis Colts
We have seen this season that the Texans are perfectly set for the kind of games we see take place in the postseason. The one-score, tight affairs which always hang on a knife-edge until the very last second. The Texans have played in 11 such games during the regular season, so you fancy them to last the distance should this one go down to the wire. Their only worry will be the form of Deshaun Watson in the final few weeks.


As for the Colts, they will be thanking their “Lucky” stars that quarterback Andrew Luck has been back to his very best in 2018. Often a bridesmaid, he has come good this year and has been influential in turning around their 1-5 start. And all of the praise Luck has received has overshadowed the incredible work of the Colts' defense over the same period.

ARAB NEWS PREDICTS: Texans to edge it, based purely on home advantage


Dallas Cowboys vs. Seattle Seahawks

It was not the best end to the season for the Cowboys — they limped over the line in the end, only just pipping the Philadelphia Eagles to the NFC East title. But this Cowboys offense will be confident that they have enough to cause problems for the league’s very best, let alone an off-the-boil Seahawks. Running Back Ezekiel Elliott and rookie linebacker Leighton Vander Esch will be the aces in the pack for Dallas.


Seattle’s offense has been a shadow of its Super Bowl-winning self in recent years, but 2018 was a particular nadir. Not something that fills the Seahawk faithful with much hope of going deep in the playoffs. But one silver lining is that they entered Week 17 with a chance to tie the NFL record for the lowest total of turnovers (10) over a full season in league history. Russell Wilson and Co. will have to be on top form to win this one.

ARAB NEWS PREDICTS: Cowboys to seal a comfortable win and move onto the Divisional week
 

Baltimore Ravens vs. Los Angeles Chargers
It has been quite a remarkable second half of the season for the Ravens, who appear reinvigorated by one of the NFL’s best defenses this year. Second only to the impenetrable Chicago Bears in the league, it has been a masterclass of restricting and suffocating opposition offenses. Regular readers of this column will know we often advocate the value of defenses if teams want to win the Big Game — a strong defense and solid special teams are a vital and rare commodity in the playoffs.

This Chargers team have finally enmeshed their obvious talent with a mental resilience that was so often missing in recent years. Victories at Seattle, Pittsburgh Steelers and Kansas City Chiefs attest to that. But they have so often started games far too slowly, and will need to be on fire from the first kick-off to the final whistle in the playoffs if Philip Rivers is to finally fulfil his potential as a QB and win the Super Bowl. 

ARAB NEWS PREDICTS: Rivers to have the game of his life and kick-start a glorious run to the Super Bowl


Chicago Bears vs. Philadelphia Eagles
What a difference a year makes. The Bears finished last season second-last in the NFC with a 5-11 record. They have now produced one of the finest defensive runs in a generation (or since the last great Bears defense of 1985) and now find themselves with a genuine chance of Super Bowl glory. This Bears defensive line should be able to keep playoff games low-scoring enough for their offensive line to finish the job.

As for the Eagles, their blistering, Super Bowl-winning offense of last year has petered out and it will be the upset of the season if Philadelphia go to and steal a win. Their only hope is the clear chemistry between coach Doug Pederson and on-off QB Nick Foles, and the latter’s telepathic connection with his offensive linemen.

ARAB NEWS PREDICTS: A valiant effort from the Eagles will not be enough to stop Chicago’s defensive juggernaut rolling on

 


Saudi female bowlers off to Las Vegas tournament

Updated 22 August 2019

Saudi female bowlers off to Las Vegas tournament

  • The team’s six members will compete against the best women bowlers around the world

JEDDAH: The Saudi women’s bowling team left on Wednesday to participate in the sixth World Bowling Women’s Championship, a first in the history of Saudi bowling. The championship will be held at the South Point Bowling Plaza in Las Vegas from Aug. 22-31.

The six bowlers who will participate in the championship are Mashael Al-Abdulwahid, Ghada Nimir and Amani Al-Ghamdi from Riyadh, Nahla Adas and Mariam Al-Dosari from Alkhobar and Hadeel Termein from Jeddah, under the supervision of British coach Mario Joseph.

The Saudi delegation will be headed by Badr bin Abdullah Al-Asheikh (head of the delegation), Dr. Razan Baker, team manager, Waleed Al-Dawsari, team director and media relations official Hamd Al-Shaghrood.

The team’s six members joined a training camp in Riyadh in preparation for the championship, and participated in three local open tournaments in Riyadh, Jeddah and Alkhobar this year. The team will participate in the singles, doubles, trios and team competitions.

In an interview with Adas, who won third place in the fourth Women’s Championship held in Alkhobar this year, said: “It is a great honor for me to participate in this world championship, and this is a feat by itself. I have always dreamed about standing next to the world’s women champions, and my dream is coming true now, after one year of effort and giving, under the leadership of the federation’s chairman Badr Al-Asheikh and his constant support. He is like a leader who ventures out, challenges and allows us to compete for a bright vision full of achievements in the Arab world and internationally.”

In a history-making feat the Saudi national women’s bowling team will participate in the World Bowling Women’s Championship in Las Vegas. (Photo/Supplied)

Nimir spoke about the playoffs in Riyadh, having scored the highest total: “From the beginning to the end of the playoffs which qualified me for the world championship, I was able to win first place in Riyadh. This feeling has been indescribable, a dream come true due to my love for the game, practice as a hobby then as a professional and now participation in the world championship. I am very happy to participate in this international and historical event, and I hope we achieve a positive result in this championship. I also thank the Saudi Federation with all its members for their efforts and this opportunity they gave us.”

As for Al-Ghamdi, she spoke about her passion for bowling which pushed her to reach an international level. She said: “Bowling is a sophisticated sport that requires concentration, training, perseverance and skills, and the women’s empowerment we are witnessing today has greatly contributed to our presence in all the local and international events. That is why I cannot describe my feelings to have qualified for the world championship, and I am grateful for your support of our dear and beloved country.”

“I am very happy to participate in this international and historical event, and I hope we achieve a positive result in this championship.

Ghada Nimir

Al-Abdulwahid, who won the bronze medal at the federation’s women’s championships in 2018 and 2019, said: “I cannot describe my happiness to see my dream come true, and this is my first move toward my goal. I have had this dream since I was a child, and I am proud to have qualified among the best players of the Saudi national team in order to participate in the world championship which is a precious chance. I am lucky to be honored to play with professionals from all over the world, which will give me confidence and experience in my bowling career, and I hope that our presence will be honorable, positive and fruitful for the rest of the players and motivate them to excel.”

Termein said: “I am happy and proud to represent my country first, and my city second since I am the only qualified player from Jeddah. I aim to reach advanced rankings in the championship, and I would like to thank the Saudi Bowling Federation for giving us the chance to join the international championship.”

Al-Dosari, who also won a bronze medal in the federation’s championship in 2018, expressed her happiness saying: “I am grateful and proud to have this opportunity and qualify to participate in the international championship to represent the Kingdom. I consider this a great honor and I am very excited seeking to give my best performance.”