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Mitch Moss Handicaps The NFL Playoffs

(AP Photo/Steven Senne)

A New England Patriots helmet, left, a Lamar Hunt AFC Championship trophy, center, and a Jacksonville Jaguars helmet, right, are displayed on a podium in front of members of the media, behind, before the start of an NFL football news conference, Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018, at Gillette Stadium, in Foxborough, Mass. The New England Patriots host the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC championship on Sunday.

The NFL playoffs come to a head this weekend, but are sportsbooks happy an underdog could make it to the Big Game?

Meanwhile, the Vegas Golden Knights continue to defy expectations, while UNR basketball lives up to theirs.

Mitch Moss talked about the latest in sports.


Are the books worried to have the Jaguars one game away from the Super Bowl?

Of the three or four people that I've talked to at sportsbooks here in town, a Jacksonville Super Bowl victory doesn't hurt them in the least.

It doesn't hurt them because Jacksonville was the least bet on team on a future ticket. [Books] don't get dinged up at all on Super Bowl futures. They might get banged up a little bit on the conference championship games.

Jon Gruden signed a 10 year, $100 million contract with the soon-to-be Las Vegas Raiders to be their new coach. Is there a chance Gruden will get all the money or will stay with the Raiders for the length of his contract?

A 10 year deal for a coach is just incredible to me -- unless it is wildly successful. [Raiders owner] Mark Davis loves Jon Gruden, so it could happen. But the average tenure for an NFL coach is 4.3 years, give or take. When you consider that, and that it's ten years, and he's moving to Las Vegas, it's tough to see a guy actually live out the entire contract.

But for $100 million -- and the contract is going to backloaded for when he moves to Las Vegas because we have no state taxes. In that regard, as long as they are competent and they can actually be a contender, then I think he would be silly not to stay here.

Did Gruden lose a step in the years since he's been a coach?

I would lean no. He's still been a broadcaster for the last nine years. He's been on Monday Night Football. He's been traveling around and meeting with these coaches. His brother is still a coach in the league. His son has been the strength coach for the [Washington football team] and he's going to come now the Raiders to be the strength coach.

He does the Gruden Quarterback Camp on ESPN -- he looks at all the guys who are going to be drafted. I think it's going to be no because he's still been involved.

UNLV basketball's hot start to the season has cooled off. Why? Should alarm bells ring?

The alarm bells should absolutely be going off, especially with [Mountain West] conference play here. A loss again this week against New Mexico at home -- they were the favorites. It was tied at halftime. Then the Runnin' Rebels had an 11-point lead with seven minutes to go. They blew that and lost. New Mexico is absolutely ordinary or below average.

The talent at UNLV is as good or better than any time in the conference outside of Nevada. I don't know what has changed since Marvin Menzies took over and Dave Rice left. I don't think much has really changed with the results.

Meanwhile, the UNR Wolfpack is setting the pace in the Mountain West.

It will come down to the head-to-head [record between UNR and Boise State] and if these teams can survive every game on the road, that's going to be the true test of any team in college basketball. But Boise is good. They've been playing well all season long. They have a very good coach in Leon Rice. We know about Musselman and the Wolfpack. He is one of the best.

In the end, I think it's going to play out that Nevada is going to be the better team. If they meet for the conference title and Boise wins -- they'll get in [the NCAA tournament] but I think Nevada would have the edge against that team.

Meanwhile, the Vegas Golden Knights are signing core players to contract extensions in hopes of keeping the team together.

Nobody saw this coming. I think the right move this year is: why not? Why not try to make a run at it and try to bring these guys back? If we're going to be good right out of the gates with a team that we put together, with a team that's still young, then why can't we be good next year, and two years from now, and three years from now?

To me, it is the best story in sports. It has been now, for weeks on end. They are by far and away the best extension team ever in any sport. It would be a shocker if they didn't make the playoffs.

Let's say they make the playoffs and get swept in the first round -- does it really matter? Do they already have buy-in from the fans?

As long as they're good, the people will absolutely show up. It did not take long for [owner] Bill Foley to turn this into a hockey town. It was the first pro franchise here, so people are going nuts for it. We'll see in a couple of years if they fall off and become one of the worst teams in the western conference. Will people still go to the games? I would lean yes, but I don't know. This town has been an enigma. 

Mitch Moss, VSIN

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Casey Morell is the coordinating producer of Nevada Public Radio's flagship broadcast State of Nevada and one of the station's midday newscast announcers. (He's also been interviewed by Jimmy Fallon, whatever that's worth.)