Update on the latest sports

NFL PLAYOFFS

Super Bowl matchup to be determined today

UNDATED (AP) — Tampa Bay’s Tom Brady and Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers rarely have faced each other during their respective Hall of Fame-caliber careers. Never have they met with so much at stake.

The two star quarterbacks will square off for just the fourth time when the Packers host the Buccaneers in the NFC championship game. This marks their first postseason matchup.

Brady is seeking his 10th Super Bowl appearance as he tries to get Tampa Bay to reach that stage for the first time since its 2002 championship season. Rodgers is seeking his second Super Bowl berth.

The Bucs trounced the Packers 38-10 in Tampa on Oct. 18. They met two other times during Brady’s tenure in New England, with the Packers winning 26-21 at Green Bay in 2014 and the Patriots winning 31-17 in Foxborough four years later.

Later Sunday, two teams long absent from championship history until recently face off for the AFC championship.

The Kansas City Chiefs won their first NFL title since 1970 when they beat San Francisco in last year’s Super Bowl. When they host Buffalo, the Chiefs will take on a franchise that went from the 2000-2016 seasons without even getting to the playoffs.

The Bills will be making their first AFC championship game appearance since a 30-13 home win over Kansas City on Jan. 23, 1994. But unlike that game in Buffalo, the Bills will be the visitors for the first time in three postseason games against the Chiefs.

Kansas City is only the second team in NFL history to host three consecutive conference title games with the other being Philadelphia, when the Eagles were led by current Chiefs coach Andy Reid. On Sunday, Reid will be looking across the field at his Bills head coach Sean McDermott, the former Eagles defensive coordinator Reid fired 10 years ago.

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (mah-HOHMZ’) is set to play after sustaining a concussion last week, setting up a tantalizing matchup with Bills counterpart Josh Allen.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-NBA-HEAT

Heat planning to bring back some fans, with help from dogs

MIAMI (AP) — The Miami Heat are bringing back some fans, with help from some dogs.

The Heat will use coronavirus-sniffing dogs at AmericanAirlines Arena to screen fans who want to attend their games. They’ve been working on the plan for months, and the highly trained dogs have been in place for some games this season where the team has allowed a handful of guests — mostly friends and family of players and staff.

Starting this week, a limited number of ticket holders will be in the seats as well, provided they get past the dogs first.

The first Heat game with ticket holders is set for Thursday against the Los Angeles Clippers. Monday is the first day that season ticket holders will be able to start securing their seats.

The Heat have sold out 451 consecutive games, the sixth-longest streak in NBA history. Sellouts, obviously, aren’t happening this year. The Heat will keep attendance under 2,000 for now, or less than 10% of the building’s typical capacity.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-MICHIGAN

Michigan pauses athletics amid COVID-19 variant positives

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — The entire University of Michigan athletic department is pausing after several positive tests for the new COVID-19 variant that transmits at a higher rate.

The state Department of Health and Human Services issued the mandate Saturday, with the school saying it follows the positive COVID-19 tests for several individuals linked to the athletic department. The entire department could be in quarantine for two weeks.

The 11th-ranked women’s basketball team was set to play at home against Purdue on Sunday. That was one of four athletic events the school had scheduled. The men’s tennis team was hosting a tournament while women’s tennis was in Atlanta. The men’s gymnastics event at Nebraska was also postponed.

The seventh-ranked men’s basketball team wasn’t supposed to play until Wednesday at Penn State. Michigan’s men’s team leads the Big Ten and had four games scheduled in the next two weeks, including a big rivalry game against Michigan State on Feb. 6.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-WTA-AUSTRALIAN OPEN

WTA event added for quarantining players in Melbourne

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The Women’s Tennis Association has announced a new tournament in Melbourne for players undergoing a 14-day quarantine without an opportunity to practice ahead of the Australian Open beginning Feb. 8.

The new tournament will be staged from Feb. 3-7 and will cater for players who have not been able to train. A total of 72 players remain in hard lockdown after three chartered flights to the Australian Open returned positive COVID-19 cases.

Two ATP men’s tournaments will be pushed back 24 hours to start on Feb. 1 and the ATP Cup will get underway a day later.

WTA players in hard quarantine include former Australian Open champions Victoria Azarenka and Angelique Kerber as well as 2019 U.S. Open winner Bianca Andreescu (an-dree-EHS’-koo).

Categories: National Sports