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Top 4 stories to watch in 2014

staff writer

Published: Monday, January 6, 2014

Updated: Monday, January 6, 2014 23:01

Super Bowl XLVIII

On Feb. 2, two teams will square off in East Rutherford, N.J. for a chance to take home professional football’s ultimate prize — the Vince Lombardi Trophy. The teams set to battle in Super Bowl XLVIII haven’t been decided yet, and though No. 1 seeds Denver and Seattle finished the regular season at 13-3, last year’s Super Bowl champions — the Baltimore Ravens — should serve as a reminder of just how unpredictable the single-elimination playoffs can be.

Peyton Manning and the Broncos boast an explosive offense, but will have to first beat San Diego, then either New England or Indianapolis; each dealt Denver a loss earlier this season.

The Seahawks will face Drew Brees and the Saints at home in Seattle, while San Francisco fights Cam Newton and the Panthers for a spot in the NFC championship game and ultimately a shot at the title.

On paper, some teams appear more highly favored to go the distance than others, but since the league realignment in 2002, just two No. 1 seeds have won the Super Bowl. In that same time frame, two No. 6 seeds have also won it all.

The 2014 Olympic Games

For two weeks this February, the city of Sochi, Russia will welcome the best athletes in the world to the 2014 Olympic games. Russia will be a first-time Winter Olympics host, and the U.S. will once again provide several athletes to watch for over the course of the games.

Jessica Jerome recently earned her way into the history books by being the first U.S. woman to win a spot on the Olympic ski jumping team. Speedskater J.R. Celski will be tasked with continuing a U.S. speedskating legacy started by eight-time Olympic medalist Apolo Anton Ohno, qualifying for the 1500-meter and 500-meter events last Friday in front of an already sizeable contingent of fans.

The 2010 Olympic downhill gold-medalist Lindsey Vonn suffered a partial tear to her reconstructed right ACL just two months ago, but she continues to train for Sochi and expects to race the world’s fastest downhill skiers just three months after major trauma to her knee.

March Madness

College basketball takes over the sports world in mid-March, as the single-elimination March Madness tournament pits 68 teams against one another in an all-out battle for the NCAA championship.

Fans will be especially interested in watching how standout players Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins perform on the national stage. The high quality of college talent this season has already given rise to NBA Draft rumors and side-by-side comparisons of the young stars.

The NCAA Tournament could shed light on the ongoing effort to determine which athlete has the greatest potential to save a failing NBA franchise.

FIFA World Cup

The United States will have to find some way to win against the nightmarish Group G — nicknamed the “Group of Death” — to progress in the 2014 FIFA World Cup Tournament. The group features No. 2 Germany and a No. 5 Portuguese team lead by superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, with a No. 24 Ghana team also looking to make noise in the tournament.

The U.S. will have to prove it has the personnel to play with some of the best teams in the world this Summer in Brazil. Goalkeeper Tim Howard will be joined by Landon Donovan, Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey, all looking to advance despite the difficult draw.

Twitter: @Logantj 

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