01/14/2013 10:37 am ET Updated Mar 16, 2013

Top 5 Sports Stories

Happy Monday everyone, here's my Top 5 for January 14, 2013 from Len Berman at

1. Quick Hits

  • The NFL Championship games are set for Sunday. It's Baltimore/New England in the AFC, San Francisco/Atlanta in the NFC.
  • The oddsmakers have made the Patriots and 49ers the favorites to reach the Super Bowl.
  • The NHL lockout is now officially over, the season begins Saturday.
  • The Australian Open is underway. Novak Djokovic, bidding for his third straight title, easily won his opening round match.

2. Final Four

It's a quarterback's league right? Don't tell that to Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers. Both went down on Saturday before Matt Ryan and Tom Brady restored order on Sunday. But how great were those games? Joe Flacco's 70 yard bomb for the Ravens with just 31 seconds to go to force overtime. 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, in his first playoff game setting a rushing record against Green Bay. Atlanta blew a 20-0 halftime lead, but Matt Ryan got them into field goal range to beat Seattle in the final seconds. Quarterbacks rule. But in the year of the rookie quarterback, they're all gone. It's little surprise that Tom Brady and the Patriots are listed as the Super Bowl favorites.

3. The Truth Shall Set You Free

Lance Armstong talks to Oprah Winfrey today. According to USA Today he will admit for the first time that he's a drug cheat. Welcome to the "yesterday I was lying, today I'm telling the truth" club. Pete Rose is a charter member. I know Armstrong still has his defenders. "Everyone was doing it" is a common defense. "Look at all the good things he did with his charity" is another often-voiced testimonial. The Oprah interview airs Thursday. And what does he accomplish exactly by going "clean?" If he really is a serial cheater, shouldn't he just go away?

4. Luck of the Irish

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly says he's not interested in coaching the Philadelphia Eagles, that he's staying put. "This decision was motivated purely by my love for Notre Dame and the entire Fighting Irish community, the young men I have the great fortune to coach, and my desire to continue to build the best football program in the country." I'm sure the reports that he's going to negotiate a longer and more lucrative deal in South Bend are pure coincidence.

5. Bye Bye Now

L.A. sports fans are notorious for leaving early, but even their superfan? Jack Nicholson saw enough of the Lakers the other night as they were losing their sixth straight. With a dismissive wave, he bid the team adios with a full seven and a half minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Adam Sandler was with him, and he bolted as well. But Sandler was probably enjoying the proceedings. He's a Knicks fan.

Happy Birthday: Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks. 25.

Bonus Birthday: Actor Jason Bateman. 44.

Today in Sports: The Pro Bowl is born in L.A. 1951.

Bonus Event: The Simpsons makes its series debut on FOX. 1990.

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