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BAKER'S SPORTS PEN: IT’S THE SIMPLE THINGS IN LIFE THAT MAKE ME HAPPY (2021-01-08)

Happiness is knowing high school sports are just around the corner.

Happiness is watching Alvin Kamara reach the end zone six times in your fantasy football league playoffs.

Happiness is seeing wrestlers back on the mat, swimmers returning to the pool, and hoopsters running up and down the court.

Happiness is being a Mets fans and hearing about the Francisco Lindor trade.

Happiness is maybe getting the band back together.

Happiness is the National Football League playoffs with six games on tap this weekend.

Happiness is knowing we may soon hear the sound of a referee’s whistle.

Happiness is knowing we may soon see coaches walking the sidelines

Happiness is knowing my long strange trip isn’t so strange any more.

Happiness is reading Valley Sports Report and Northern Tier Sports Report every morning with a hot cup of coffee at your side.

Happiness is knowing the Jets can select Heisman Trophy winner Devonta Smith with the second pick in the NFL Draft.

Happiness is knowing pitchers and catchers report in six weeks and Opening Day is just 11 weeks away.

Happiness is knowing the days are slowing getting just a little bit longer with every sunset.

Happiness is watching any sporting event come down to the last possession.

Happiness is when your wife likes the Christmas presents you gave her … even when you “went way outside the box” for her “big gift.”

Happiness is actually getting the Final Jeopardy answer correct.

Happiness is listening to “The Herd With Colin Cowherd” every weekday.       

Happiness is “social distancing” on the couch and watching your dog sleep at the other end.

Happiness is enjoying a brisk two-mile walk every (well almost every) day.

Happiness is turning off the news and watching repeats of “The Big Bang Theory,” even for the sixth time.

Happiness is watching a good portion of “Hot Stove” on the MLB Network in the morning.

Happiness is when all the clothes that your in-laws got you for Christmas gifts fit perfectly.

Happiness is being able to share some of my crazy columns with the readers of Valley Sports Report and now Northern Tier Sports Report … thanks Tim and Chris.

Happiness is a new year and that 2020 can be put in our rear-view mirrors, but never forgotten.

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“Playoffs … you want to talk playoffs!”

Cleveland is just excited to finally be returning to the dance. … Ben Roethlisberger hinting it might be last call. … Baker MayfieId produced a 3,500-yard, 26-touchdown campaign for Cleveland – balancing a solid ground game. … Despite losing four of their last five, Steeler playoff experience and Mike Tomlin give “Big Ben” and all his receiving weapons another game next week … Steelers 24, Browns 13.

Josh Allen’s young legs against Phillip Rivers’ old arm. … The Bills are on a big-time roll, averaging 38 points in their last six games – all victories. … Indianapolis has found a ground game in Jonathan Taylor. … The Bills have found a superstar receiver in Stephon Diggs. … The Colts go from the cozy confines of Lucas Oil Stadium to the frozen turf of Bills Stadium … Buffalo 31, Indianapolis 14.

Washington has a very good, young, defensive unit. … Chase Young delivered in a big way, leading a Washington defense that allowed just 21 points a game. However, offensively it’s about the same and you need more than that against Tampa Bay. … It’s the story, of a man named Brady and his Bunch - Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Rob Gronkowski, Ronald Jones, Leonard Fournette and a guy named Tom … Tampa Bay 34, Washington 10.

The Bears can score points – 30 per outing since Mitchell Trubisky took over six games ago – the same as the Saints in their last six. … Chicago has won four of its last six matchups. ,,, The Saints get Michael Thomas back. … Since Drew Brees came off the injured list, New Orleans is netting 38 points a game. Sounds like a good number … Saints 38, Bears 17.

Derrick Henry, champion of the “Angry Run,” ran for over 2,000 yards and probably left just as many defenders lying on the turf in awe. … Ryan Tannehill threw for the quietest 3,800 yards and 33 touchdowns of any season. … In their last five games, the Ravens have wins over the Cowboys, Jaguars, Giants and Bengals (not exactly your Super Bowl contender-type schedule) – along with the Browns. They are an average team (4-4) against playoff participants. … Slow and steady wins the race here … Titans 21-17.

The Seahawks and Rams split their two regular-season games. … Jared Goff looks ready to play and Cooper Kupp is also back. … Russell Wilson hasn’t been the same recently (about the time I traded for him in my Fantasy League), but the Seattle defense has gotten its act together - allowing an average of just 12 points per game in four straight victories. Defense wins here over an inconsistent offense … Seattle 28, Los Angeles 14.

Get your calculators out for Monday night’s National Championship game. It could be a real duel between Alabama’s Mac Jones (4,000-plus yards passing) and Ohio State’s Justin Fields (1900-plus yards passing). This may be one of those “last team with the football wins” game. … Offense dominates … Roll, Tide, Roll … Alabama 42, Ohio State 38.

Happiness is remembering to give your pet an extra hug tonight.

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